Ludington, Scottville, PM boards to meet tonight to discuss brownfield authorities.

May 31, 2022

Ludington, Scottville, PM boards to meet tonight to discuss brownfield authorities.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — A historic special meeting will take place today at the Ludington Municipal Building. For the first time, the governing boards of the City of Ludington, City of Scottville and Pere Marquette Charter Township, will meet in session in the same room. The topic of the meeting is the establishment of a brownfield authority board in each municipality. The three boards will consist of the same members. 

Susan Wenzlick of Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc., a construction engineering firm based in Grand Rapids, will present information regarding the brownfield process. Discussion will take place regarding priorities, rules and members. 

Because the Michigan Open Meetings Act restricts governing municipal boards to take action only within their boundaries, no action is expected, only discussion. With the exception of the Ludington council, Scottville commissioners and PM trustees would have to reconvene in their own communities in order to take any action, which will likely take place during their next scheduled meetings. 

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will take place in the Community Room in the basement of Ludington Municipal Building, 400 S. Harrison St. 

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act of 1996 authorizes municipalities to create a brownfield redevelopment authority to facilitate the implementation of brownfield plans; to create brownfield redevelopment zones; to promote the revitalization, redevelopment, and reuse of certain property, including, but not limited to, tax reverted, blighted, or functionally obsolete property; to prescribe the powers and duties of brownfield redevelopment authorities; to permit the issuance of bonds and other evidences of indebtedness by an authority; to authorize the acquisition and disposal of certain property; to authorize certain funds; to prescribe certain powers and duties of certain state officers and agencies; and to authorize and permit the use of certain tax increment financing.

Currently, brownfield redevelopment in Mason County is overseen through an authority established by the Mason County Board of Commissioners. The county has five additional local capture rules for brownfield redevelopment compared to the stipulations stated in the Brownfield Redevelopment Act. 

Those local capture rules include: Interest is eligible only on projects sponsored by a non-profit entity; costs that would be necessary on a greenfield site are not eligible (examples are water, sewer, storm water infrastructure); revolving loan capture is not eligible; local capture is restricted to 50% if the developer does not seek capture of the set 6 mills and the local school 18 mills; contingency is limited to 15%. 

Initially, Ludington’s city government, through City Manager Mitch Foster, expressed concerns that those additional stipulations are hindering growth potentials in Ludington. The concerns were extended to the City of Scottville and Pere Marquette Charter Township. The county board of commissioners agreed to “roll back” three of the five stipulations. The three “rolled back” stipulations focused on housing issues: the revolving loan capture, greenfield site, and 15% contingency. 

However, the rollbacks fell short of the redevelopment goals of Ludington, Scottville and Pere Marquette Township. During their last regular meetings, the governing boards of each municipality passed resolutions stating their intent to each form an authority. 

“While Scottville has a housing shortage, we also have commercial and mixed-use needs. Downtown Scottville could be the poster child for brownfield redevelopments. In my opinion, we don’t need any additional restrictions put on Scottville and future development.” 

“Ideally, we would the state to allow us to form one authority,” said Ludington City Manager Mitch Foster. “But, for the time, each municipality has to technically have its own board, but the three boards will mirror themselves.” 

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