October 14, 2019 - Minutes
City of Buchanan Commission Minutes
October 14, 2019
The regularly scheduled meeting of the City Commission was held at City Hall, 302 N Redbud Trail, Buchanan, Michigan Monday, October 14, 2019 and was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Moore. The Mayor led the Pledge of Allegiance. The invocation was led by Pastor Watkins.
Present: Mayor Moore, Commissioners Denison, Downey, Toerne and Weedon
Guests: Approximately 19 guests and visitors
City Staff in attendance: Bill Marx, City Manager; Debra Patzer, Zoning Administrator; Brenda Hess, City Clerk
• Alan Robandt – Commented upon the Adult Use Ordinance and the number of establishments in the Ordinance. Expressed desire for adult use facilities to be located in downtown area.
• Rick Paniagua – Commented upon the Adult Use Ordinance and the wording of the number of establishments. Commented upon the number of facilities. Commented upon the downtown businesses.
• Ed Graveline – Commented upon the two extra licenses and discouraged them.
• Randal Peart – Commented upon the Planning Commission’s Chair and members stance on marijuana.
• Dan Vigansky – Commented upon DDA, Ad-Hoc committee, Chair of Planning Commission, new water superintendent position, closed session of previous meeting, no backup material, and the City Manager’s contract.
• Approve Agenda
• Approve Minutes: Regular scheduled meeting September 23, 2019
• Approve Minutes: Special Meeting Wastewater Treatment Plant and DDA Ad Hoc Committee appointments October 1, 2019
• Approve Minutes: Joint work session with Planning Commission Adult Use Marijuana October 1, 2019
• Approve Invoices/Expenditures for October 14, 2019 in the amount of $196,587.48
• Certify delinquent township utility bills to the winter 2019 tax roll
• Approve Banner Placement Request for the Buchanan Area Senior Center’s Annual Christmas Bazaar November 25th-December 9
• Approve Street Closure for the Seventh Annual McCoy’s Creek Trail Run on Saturday, October 26, 2019
• Approve the reappointment of Jason Lietz and Ralph McDonald to the Planning Commission for another three-year term (2019-2022)
• Approve the appointment of Donna Monell to the Planning Commission to complete a term ending in 2021 as recommended by a majority vote of the Planning Commission on Thursday, October 10, 2019
Downey moved, seconded by Denison to approve the consent calendar as written. Roll call vote carried unanimously.
Reports by: Departments, Committees, Boards
Berrien County Animal Shelter – Tiffany Peterson – Peterson introduced herself and spoke regarding her background in law enforcement. She reported on improvements made in department under her two years of leadership. Extended invite to 4th Annual Trunk or Treat on Saturday, October 26. Reported on hoarding situation requiring animals to be held at the old shelter. Reported on numbers currently in shelter and adoption rates. Reported on new program with local veterinarians to help provide lower cost neutering. Noted shelter utilizes social media with themed photos to help place animals. New software helps locate owners of lost pets. Shelter located at 1400 S. Euclid in Benton Harbor.
2020 Census in Berrien County – Kathy Stady - Stady reviewed the process of taking a census, the problems associated with residents not being counted, and noted the work the City Manager is doing with the local community foundation to increase participation in the City. Encouraged people to respond and spread the word.
Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life – Janet Wortman, Representative for Relay for Life of Berrien County – Commented upon relocation of event to Buchanan. Explained services offered through the American Cancer Society with funds raised at event. Requested the use of the Common for July 11, 2020. Requested support of the Commission to bring their mission to the City. Toerne moved, seconded by Denison to approve the Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life event on July 11, 2019 in the City of Buchanan. Roll call vote carried unanimously.
Approve the establishment of a Water Operations/Utility Superintendent position – Marx explained shortage of water/wastewater operators in Michigan and the lengthy time frame for an employee to earn a Class B license. It was noted Buchanan has lost workers to the Galien Sanitation District which offers hire wages per hour. There are future challenges with oxidation ditch construction and Sewer and Water Grant’s Capital Improvement Plan which is 20 years in duration. Aging infrastructure is a big issue and upgrades need to occur for Buchanan to continue to be a quality service provider. A work session is planned for Monday, October 21, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. The person hired for this position would oversee the wastewater construction project, the water mandates of lead and copper service line replacement legislation, as well as monitor and address P-FAS standards which are still being determined by the State. There are approximately 800 homes in Buchanan which will require new lead/copper service line replacements in the future with 20% of those homes be repaired each year. Once created, the position will be posted internally and then opened for outside applicants. Toerne reminded Commission about the difficulties in finding new wastewater employees. Downey inquired as to the licensing of the operator that left for Galien and it was noted he was a level C operator. Marx noted we are seeking an operator currently to replace the C operator and the posting closes on the October 18, 2019. Downey inquired as to the duties of the superintendent. Marx noted superintendent would oversee construction as well as keep current plant operational until Oxidation Ditch completion. Noted project is a 3-year project. Marx noted that retirements have greatly impacted the number of wastewater operators. Additionally, construction/engineering firms continue to take many license holders out of the municipal market. The superintendent will help other employees obtain additional licenses and help develop current employees. Pay structure in Buchanan incentivizes employees to obtain licenses. Moore inquired about local community colleges offering programs. Operator certification test is difficult which makes obtaining licenses challenging. Toerne moved, seconded by Weedon to establish the position of a Water Operations/Utility Superintendent position. Roll call vote carried unanimously.
Consider Adult Use Marihuana Ordinance 2019.10/413 – Introduction, First Reading and schedule the required Public Hearing for Monday, October 28, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. – Patzer read the Ordinance summary which included the date of the Public Hearing. Noted publication scheduled with Leader for October 17. Clarification was made regarding the number of establishments between the previous draft and the draft presented at the meeting. Clarified that for first 24 months only previously permitted medical marijuana businesses would be able to apply for adult use permits. Noted the decision to have an “umbrella” for the number of retail businesses would allow for flexibility, but also limit the total number of establishments and allowing for a combined total of not more than 7 for retailers and designated consumption areas. These would be allowed by existing medical permit holders at their existing locations. Weedon clarified that there will not be 7 new establishments in 7 new places in addition to the existing medical facilities. It was noted that the future of the marijuana market is difficult to determine at this point and it is therefore difficult to determine numbers for various business types. Eventually sales will dictate which types of businesses are needed. Expressed desire to be ahead of Niles in the field of medical and adult use marijuana. Mayor suggested more specific language to clarify questions regarding the two new businesses and the categories of consumption rooms, events and microbusinesses. Denison explained that the five stated in the Ordinance are for existing medical permit holders and two additional permits are for businesses the City cannot anticipate at this time as it is too early to determine what the market will dictate. Also addressed comment from resident regarding transparency in process and clarified the City desires input for residents and businesses. Patzer requested input from the Commission and will incorporate all ideas provided. Weedon moved, seconded by Toerne to schedule a Public Hearing regarding the adult use marijuana Ordinance (on October 28, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.). Roll call vote carried unanimously.
Approve a budget amendment in the amount of $72,992 for a new Wastewater Plant Operator position including license stipend and salary adjustment for the new Wastewater/Water Supervisor position – Marx noted an amendment is needed to fund the previously approved position which will not cause a rate increase for residents. Denison noted that $72,000 is a lot of money, but market is currently dictating salaries the City needs to offer. City does not want a contract company running the wastewater plant due to even greater costs. Denison moved, seconded by Toerne to approve a budget amendment in the amount of $72,992 for a new Wastewater Plan Operator position including license stipend and salary adjustment for the new Wastewater/Water Supervisor position. Roll call vote carried unanimously.
• Alan Robandt – Commented upon the Zoning Adult Use Ordinance.
• Dan Vigansky – Inquired about the DPW flood plain. Requested response for Consent Calendar questions.
• Rick Paniagua – Commented upon spirit of volunteerism to advance Buchanan.
• Jim Cronin – Commented upon gutters on 3rd and Lake Streets.
• Randal Peart – Commented upon cleaning up mill race sediment trap and flood plain mapping.
• Michelle Bowen– Requested on behalf of Lee Remmo for Feed Mill sale be placed on future agenda.
City Manager Comments
Marx commented upon Census 2020 collection. Noted there will be help from the Community Foundation, RAM, the Senior Center and the Library to get Buchanan counted.
Requested work session with Prehn-Newhoff regarding capital improvement projects. Toerne moved, seconded by Weedon to have a work session on October 21, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. Roll called vote carried unanimously.
Marx explained the FCC has ability to put many small cell towers all over Buchanan in City owned property with the highest tower being 120 feet to create at 5G network. There is a webinar coming up regarding this mandate.
Weedon – Acknowledged gutter situation mentioned by Mr. Cronin. Ad-Hoc names were noted at last meeting and they are Fran Terry, Sean Denison and himself which is reflected in the Minutes. Noted Jerry Flenar declined. Expressed frustration and need for Planning Commission to attend joint meetings.
Toerne – Noted Farmers’ Market has concluded this year and recognized Beth Chubb’s contributions. Commented upon last Planning Commission meeting with special use permit issued for Redbud Roots. Conducted preliminary review of a project. Commented upon decision made regarding property at 107 Main Street. Noted Donna Monell appointed to Planning Commission. Commented upon activities at the Landfill regarding recycling and possible increase for recycling services for City residents. Read letter from Republic Services. Landfill purchased a mowing grasshopper for $20,000 and noted City will need one in future. Read email regarding visit to Orchard Hill Landfill in Watervliet and handling of PFAS.
Downey – Requested Attorney’s letter regarding DDA be made public. Commented upon the Planning Commission and Donna Monell’s resume for position on Board.
Denison – Answered question regarding adult use sales in the Industrial Park. Addressed question regarding Planning Commission Chair’s abstention from marijuana votes. Noted Chair’s expertise and volunteering outweigh his stance on marijuana.
Moore – Commented upon using best judgment when volunteering on Boards. Encouraged people to give others benefit of the doubt and use gentility and kindness. Extended thanks to local EMS for help with accident which occurred in her yard. Noted public safety accounts for 52% of the City’s budget.
At 8:58 p.m. Denison moved, seconded by Weedon to move into closed session pursuant MCL15.268, (h) to consider material exempt from disclosure. To Approve Minutes from Closed Session of September 23, 2019. Roll call vote carried unanimously.
The Mayor reconvened the meeting 9:00 p.m.
At 9:01 p.m. Denison moved, seconded by Weedon to move into a closed session Under MCL 15.268(a) closed session; permissible purposes section 8. To consider a periodic personnel evaluation – City Manager, William Marx evaluation. Roll call vote carried unanimously.
The Mayor reconvened the meeting at 9:52 p.m.
At 9:53 p.m. Weedon moved, seconded by Toerne to adjourn the meeting. Voice vote carried unanimously. Mayor Moore adjourned the meeting at 9:53 p.m.
Mayor Patricia A. Moore DPM Brenda J. Hess, City Clerk