FLINT TWP. — Commercial blight, semi-truck parking, weed cutting and the need to improve economic development were among issues discussed at the annual meeting of the township’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
The EDC meets once annually to elect officers or as needed to conduct business. It was formed to encourage industrial and commercial development through its ability to purchase, construct, improve and maintain commercial and industrial projects and to borrow money, through tax-free revenue bonds at low interest rates.
Holding the annual meeting is a minimum requirement to retain that status, said Township Supervisor Karyn Miller, who also serves as an EDC member.
Officers re-elected for 2015- 16 are Grace Glass, chairperson, Jim Rouse, vice chairperson, Kim Courts, secretary and Ed Burns, treasurer. Township trustee Barb Vert is also a member.
Miller expressed interest in bringing in a new board member with economic development experience to work with Tracey Tucker, the township economic enhancement director.
“The market has turned and we need to look at doing some economic development,’’ Miller said, noting several large vacant buildings that need to be filled.
One of them is the plaza where Kohl’s is located at Linden and Lennon roads. The Eyde Company owns it. Until early 2014, Furniture Row operated four businesses in the plaza for about 17 years. They moved out because the rent was raised, Miller said.
“As we are moving forward this year, we should look seriously at getting someone on the board who is pro-business, maybe a retired person who has the time to go out and make some contacts.”
EDC members agreed to convene again in July to bring names of potential new members to further its economic development goals.
Moving on to other issues, Vert expressed concern about commercial blight, unsightly truck parking and setting a time limit on compliance with conditions set by the Planning Commission when a business opens or changes use.
The illegally parked semis at businesses that lack proper zoning are knocking over telephone poles and hurting other businesses, Vert said.
Miller said township officials walk a fine line with commercial blight including some businesses that feel harassed.
“One person’s idea of well-groomed differs from another,’’ she said, noting that the township’s noxious weed ordinances addresses unkempt properties.
She said she has consulted the township attorney about ways to use zoning laws to address the semi parking issue. Places where some of them are parking now makes the area look abandoned, she said, noting a need for landscaping, fences or some other remedy.
She acknowledged a need for truck parking but said the township needs to set guidelines.
Courts suggested designating a specific place for overnight truck parking in order to be fair to those who need it.
Vert also asked for tighter enforcement of Planning Commission approvals. Some business with contingencies set by the Planning Commission such as landscaping or painting still have not completed the work as long as four years later, she said.
Glass asked why EDC members are no longer being notified or invited when new businesses open in the township, which was routinely done in the past.
Miller agreed, noting that she has received last-minute notices or none at all about ribbon-cuttings at township businesses.
“Over the last few years, the township has been the last to find out. That needs to change,’ she said.
Miller also said that she is working to get a definitive answer for a township resident that wants to know the benefits of a $3,000 membership fee paid to the Next Michigan Development Corporation, aka the I-69 trade corridor.
Generally, the NMDC was formed to attract manufacturing business to the area near Bishop International Airport, she said, adding that Signs by Crannie was one of the first businesses to move into the designated area.
The EDC also reviewed a 57-item list of businesses that moved into the township or completed construction projects since January 2014. Tucker compiles the list.
Vert restated her request to have dates on the list showing exactly when the business opened or was remodeled.
One vague example from the list refers to a Tier 2 supplier for GM who has been working with Tucker to locate in the Bristol/Van Slyke corridor. Tucker was not at the meeting so no further details about the business were available.
The EDC set its next annual meeting for May 18, 2016 at 5 p.m.