By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
At its regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 25 the Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority discussed the mysterious agenda item “Consider approval to investigate potential new project” which turned out to be a request from Director Susan Ireland to have Wade Trim look into a regional detention pond for the DDA district.
Engineer Dave Nummer from Wade Trim referred to DDA members’ comments at the previous meeting, where according to Nummer the DDA is looking for projects that help to improve development and encourage growth within the district that will help to fund additional DDA projects.
“One of the major complaints that impedes development is the Wayne County storm water ordinance being onerous, taking up a lot of room on the site and it is rather expensive,” Nummer said.
He said that DDA member Craig Atchinson has a feel for the costs, after seeing costs for a project he is considering have probably $500,000 of pipework just to comply with the storm water ordinance.
Atchinson said a retention pond does him no good because he loses parking space. He said his most valuable asset is a parking spot.
Nummer suggested finding a place that would put a portion of the DDA district into compliance with the storm water ordinance by building a regional detention pond.
When businesses come in to develop, they would build on the property and build their local storm sewer to drain into the regional detention pond. Water quality improvement and detention would take place at that location rather than on each individual parcel.
Nummer said he believes it will be more economical to build one large facility to help to maximize available property. Nummer also suggested the DDA would be able to advertise that a portion of the district is already in compliance.
Nummer said there have been project proposals in the recent past that have failed because there was not enough room meet the Wayne County Drainage Ordinance.
There were many questions directed to Nummer about size, costs, location, maintenance, and increasing storm water capacity along Belleville Road. There were also concerns about setting precedence in the district.
Nummer explained this is just a concept and may service 10-20 properties. It is called a regional pond because it services more than one property in the DDA district.
It would be the first regional detention pond in Wayne County and would be owned and maintained by Wayne County, Nummer said.
From a cell phone in the middle of the table came the voice of DDA member Bob Bechtel asking if the pond would be for retention or detention.
Nummer said the pond would be for detention. He said the difference is that retention is held permanently with no outlet and in detention ponds the water is held for a certain period of time to slow the water down.
The DDA agreed to further investigate the potential for a regional detention pond.
From the audience, Arthur Mullen, VBT Director of Planning and Economic Development, said, “I just want to amplify the need for this. Pretty much every time a developer comes to VBT, one of their biggest questions or concerns is how to deal with storm water.
“There is a developer that wants to do a major industrial project and this will be an incredible asset to the district and Van Buren Township,” he said.
Part-time Assistant for Ireland
Although the actual duties of Ireland’s assistant are yet to be determined, the hiring of a part-time assistant sharing costs and duties between the DDA and the township’s Building and Planning Department was discussed and approved.
DDA Chairman Jere Dolph said he could see where Ireland would need more clerical help and asked Mullen exactly what type of job content would be involved.
From the cellphone, Bechtel said when you have a subordinate with two separate bosses it can be very problematic.
“You need to be very clear as to our responsibilities to the employee and the employee’s responsibilities so they are not confused. It’s not impossible but it’s not an easy task,” Bechtel said.
Mullen said the township was unable to provide a budget for a full-time deputy director for him, which is direly needed. They budgeted for about a half-time position. Mullen said he would have a hard time finding a person with the skillset necessary.
“It’s going to be looking for a needle in a haystack,” he said.
He said a lot of DDA districts have the planning director running it or the city manager is running the district.
“There is a lot of cross-over between the two departments and both of us need some help,” Mullen said.
DDA member Mark Laginess asked if Ireland really needed an assistant and what are the costs?
Mullen said anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000, plus benefits.
Laginess asked Mullen what qualifications he was looking for and Dolph asked if they are going to hire from inside?
“Someone could apply but I’m not sure there is anyone qualified,” Mullen said. “It would need to be a planner or a staff member, possibly from Detroit, that wants to move up to a Deputy position that deals with a lot of issues that I deal with.
“It will be a great opportunity because our skill set crosses over to what the DDA is doing,” Mullen said.
Chairman Dolph said a job description is needed before the DDA can even look for a person and Mullen said the newly hired township Human Resources person is working on it.
Laginess said this is not an office-clerical position, but is a higher-level employee who can do a lot of project management work.
In the end, the DDA board approved hiring an individual to assist the DDA Executive Director, to be equally shared with the Planning and Economic Development Director. They are using the township’s Human Resource professional to gather information to create two job descriptions and two separate employment agreements.
Matt Stacey from Wade Trim announced a contract with Dan’s Excavating has been awarded for the Belleville Road signalization project. The project is scheduled to start in the spring after the thaw with the signals south of Walmart driveway scheduled to be completed by July 2. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15.
Wade Trim has submitted drawings to Wayne County for approval of bids and construction for the sidewalk on the east side Belleville Road. The sidewalk will run from Tyler Road north to 8701 Belleville.
Drawings have also been submitted to Wayne County for approval of the I-94 North Service Drive sidewalk. There are two properties from Belleville Road to the hotels and easements have been received from Mr. Sloane.
Belleville Road Fence
The fence along Belleville Road between Harmony Lane and Sunrise has been installed. Clean-up and seeding will occur when the weather breaks.
According to Ireland, the banners that were put up on the Belleville Lake streetlights using a new type of mast arms have been destroyed and are hanging. Old Glory Flags and Banners will inspect the torn banners along the bridge and report their findings.
Absent from the 50-minute meeting was DDA member Joe Baskin, Jr. Absent and excused were DDA secretary Sophie Zoller and VBT Supervisor Linda Combs. DDA member Bechtel attended via cell phone.
By Diane Madigan