By Leslie Ballard
The February 13 Allegan City Council meeting covered a wide range of topics.
During Study session, City Council members engaged in lengthy discussions about the recent meeting involving the Council, the Historic District Commission, and the State Historic Preservation Office. Past inconsistencies in applying ordinances have resulted in dissatisfaction with the HDC, and the Council, with the help of the HDC Study Group, has been exploring how to protect Allegan’s historic assets while streamlining the process for historic home owners. City Manager Joel Dye said that the city attorney is reviewing the ordinance which may provide further guidance.
Council members prioritized the goals for 2023-24. Out of a list of 25 potential goals developed during prior work sessions, the top four selected were
• Developing a comprehensive Infrastructure maintenance plan, including maintenance project costs
• Improving ordinance enforcement, and begin a rental inspection program
• Acquiring land for industrial development
• Increasing business development, which would include assisting businesses that are struggling
The Council will look at ways to incorporate some of the new priorities into the 2022-23 Goals before finalizing the plan.
Leah Ward requested and received approval for waived fees for the use of Mahan Park for the Good Times at the Gazebo Concerts. Ward, who also organizes the Cabin Fever Concerts at the First Presbyterian Church, reports that all of the concerts have been very well attended and very successful, bringing people to Allegan from as many as 32 cities.
Saree Miller, Executive Director for the Allegan County Agricultural Society, announced that the 2023 County Fair parade will be Sept. 11, with the Fair running Sept. 8-16. Miller requested that they be permitted to hold up to 6 weekend concerts (not during the fair) to be held at the fairgrounds between May and September. She also asked permission to post directional signage for the fair at various intersections throughout the city. The Council approved both requests.
Elizabeth Decot requested the city allow residents to be able to keep chickens in the backyard within a fenced enclosure. The Council had discussed this issue during the Study Session and noted that the ordinance and a zoning rule regarding this are not aligned. After some discussion Dye said that the city staff will create an administrative ordinance enabling city residents to keep chickens with certain stipulations.
The Council voted to approve the request for The Allegan Area Arts Council to post a sign at the airport for the Art in the Garden event on April 15. Dye will work with the event coordinator to locate a space for a second banner.
The Council held a First Reading and scheduled a public hearing and second reading for the February 27, 2023, regarding two ordinances.
The first is Ordinance 506 that would terminate the position of city constable following the current constable’s term in office. Primarily, the city constable participates in the periodic parades organized by city staff. To retain this ceremonial position means the city must hold a special election which costs the city approximately $13,500.
The second relates to Ordinance 507 Chapter 29 (Utilities of the City of Allegan Code of Ordinances). During the water meter changeout this past year, several water services were found to have a meter bypass installed. A meter bypass should only be allowed in life saving institutions such as a hospital.
The Council approval the three-year contract extension for BioTech Agronomics to remove and dispose of biosolids from the Allegan Resource Recovery Facility
The Council adopted Resolution 23.05 for support of 123NET’s application for the Realizing Opportunities with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program toward the Allegan County Broadband Wired Infrastructure Expansion Project. Before the project begins, Allegan County has requested support for the project from local units of government within the county.
While the City of Allegan’s residents already enjoy broadband high-speed internet access, the Allegan County Project will greatly benefit residents of neighboring communities where high-speed internet access isn’t currently available.
Dye requested City Council authorization to hire VC3, formerly known as IT Right, to be the City’s Information Technology Manager instead of A-Tech Computers, which has provided technology services to the city since 2019, citing some service issues as the reason for the change.
The annual cost for this contract will be $54,720, which is four times more expensive than current services, with a one-time set up fee of $4,000. The city is also stipulating that VC3 evaluate thcurrent Information Technology system and make recommendations to make it as lean as possible, which will result in a lower annual cost in following years.
According to Dye, besides being the lowest bidder, VC3 has significantly more experience with municipalities and is the preferred Information Technology Company for BSA Software. He believes having VC3 as the Information Technology Manager will provide enhanced security for the city’s network, reliable assistance for staff, and 24-hour, 365-day monitoring of the system.
Before approving the authorization, Councilman Peter Hanse requested that Dye ensure that back up systems are in place.
Having previously approved the extension of the Downtown Allegan Social District operating hours to 7 am – 1 am, the Council approved a formal resolution to this effect as required by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
Council adopted Resolution 23.04, which enables the 2023 March Board of Review meeting to be held Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 10 am.
The Council approved accounts payable in the amount of $1,839,139.72 and payroll in the amount of $201,816.24 for a total disbursement of $2,040,955.96.