City Council met for more than six hours Monday, in yet another meeting that stretched beyond midnight.
Council voted to go into executive session shortly after 9 p.m. They re-emerged after midnight. During the three-hour closed session, council discussed three issues with legal counsel:
- Annexation agreements, presumably with Saline Township and regarding Andelina Farms and the former Edwards property.
- The constantly malfunctioning Nova filters in the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
- Strategy connected with the negotiations of a collective bargaining agreement.
Personnel Policy Dust Up
Council’s proceedings began at 6 p.m. with attorney Fred Girard guiding council through its first reading of updated city personnel policies. It’s the first time the policy has been updated since 2011. City Manager Todd Campbell explained the process began four years ago, but has been slowed due to staff turnover during that time. At one point during the discussion, Councillor Janet Dillon asked questioned whether the delay in updating personnel policies left the city open to liability. Dillon apparently caught a gesture from Councillor Heidi McCllelland across the table.
“Mrs. McClelland, would you stop rolling your eyes at me?” Dillon beckoned.
McClelland protested the line of questioning, suggesting failure to update the policy was a failure of the past, and that the issue was now being remedied.
Saline Area Youth Baseball and Softball
Parks and Recreation Director Carla Scruggs took a few moments to thank Saline Area Youth Baseball and Softball for its service to the community. Scruggs said the parent-run organization has served Saline well for over 40 years, providing baseball and softball for kids from tee-ball to travel ball.
“Not only do they provide an important outlet for thousands of kids, but they provide in kind services to the city and schools, raking fields and maintaining the fields and repairing fences,” Scruggs told council. “This year was exception. They provided more than $40,000 in improvements to the facilities at Tefft, Brecon and Peoples Park.”
Scruggs said the parents in SAYBS work to improve the quality of life in Saline.
Scott Tousa, president of SAYB&S thanked the city for its continued partnership. He also thanked local businesses who sponsor teams every year and all the parents who volunteer on coaches and wit the teams.
“We’re trying to create a venue where ids in Saline get the very best opportunities and I’m grateful to be a part of that,” Tousa said.
Councillor Jack Ceo said he was once a coach and board member in SAYB&S.
“I’m glad to see SAYB&S is still alive and well,” Ceo said.
Water Plant Purchase
City council voted 7-0 to purchase reverse osmosis membrane replacements from Process Solutions for $100,440. They will be installed in August.
Wilderness Park Lot Used for Construction Staging
Council voted 7-0 to allow Anlaan Corporation to use the Wilderness Park parking lot, at Willis Road and South Ann Arbor Street, as a staging area for its Saline-Milan Road bridge project. The city is not charging a fee for the use of the lot.
The lot is also used by members of Saline Community Church – although the church does not pay to use the lot. Mayor Brian Marl instructed DPW Director/Engineer Jeff Fordice to inform the church about the construction vehicles that will be on site.
Pickup Truck Purchased
The city approved the purchase of a 2019 Ford F-250 from Varsity Ford for $27,881. The truck will be part of the DPW fleet.
Huntington Woods Phase III PUD Plan Extended
Council voted 6-1 to extent Pulte Homes’ PUD final siteplan for Huntington Woods Phase III for one year, until July 9, 2020. According to Joe Score, of Pulte Homes, the extension is needed because the state has been slow in granting a wetlands permit and it’s taken more time than expected to negotiate a water main easement from Six Trails Apartments’ owners and their lenders. Mayor Brian Marl said the delays were no fault of the developer and he supported the recommendation. Councillor Dillon said she might have support a six-month extension. She voted against the measure. Score told council he wasn’t opposed to a sixth-month extension, but said if it takes until fall to negotiate the water main easement, he’d be back seeking another extension because construction couldn’t start late in the season.
Score said that so far, 22 of the 41 homes in Huntington Woods 2 have been sold. Marl said the siteplan for Huntington Woods was one of the best he’d scene, noting all the preserved green space. Score estimated it was over 50 to 60 percent of the property.
Green Thumb Nominations
Councillor McClelland reminded residents that Green Thumb Award nominations are open until July 31. The Green Thumb Award is designed to recognize those residents, businesses and organizations in the City of Saline who have taken the extra effort to make the community and their property more attractive for all to enjoy.
Medical Marijuana Task Force to Reach Out
Councillor Ceo said the Medical Marijuana Task Force meet recently and plans to begin discussing how it should engage with the public on the issue. It meets again at 5 p.m., July 25.
Successful Celtic Festival
Mayor Brian Marl said the 2019 Celtic Festival was a successful event. He credited the weather and the efforts of many volunteers. “The reviews were glowing,” Marl said.
He said organizers are planning to add more events next year, when the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary.
New Shuttle to the VA
Mayor Marl said there will be a new shuttle service taking residents from Saline to the VA hospital in Ann Arbor. There will be stops at Brecon Village, Linden Square and Stoney Point retirement/assisted living communities.
Wastewater Treatment Plant Update
Water and Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Steve Wyzgoski said testing and site cleanup continues as the odor abatement project wraps up.
Tests showed nondetectable levels of hydrogen sulfide coming out of the new odor scrubbers. He said there have been some odors due to the sludge hauling recently. Mayor Marl said he’s toured the nearby neighborhoods and not detected odors. Marl said he was called by a Crestwood resident complaining about the smell of garbage. He drove by and noticed the same smell.
Meanwhile, only one of the two often malfunctioning Nova filters are operable at the moment. Council discussed this issue in executive session.
Mayor Marl asked Fordice about trees or fencing to help screen the property from neighbors across the river. Fordice said it might be difficult because the property drops toward the river.
Canterbury Park Swale
Several council members, City Manager Campbell and Fordice have toured Canterbury Park lately at the request of resident Mary Hess, who claims a poor designed swale is not properly draining water and is causing her property to settle.
Fordice told council he’s visited the property four times. He said an inlet drain had become clogged and needed to be cleaned out. He said cleaning the drains has become added to the regular DPW work schedule.
Mill Pond Spirits Update
Council spent time dissecting a request to rezone 600 W. Michigan Ave. – home of the historic Hoyt-Ford Schoolhouse - from professional business to commercial. They want to covert the office building into a micro-distillery and tasting room overlooking Mill Pond.
The rezoning request went to planning commission – as part of an application that also asked to rezone an adjacent property that would have spilled on to Whitlock Street. Applicant Trish Molloy told council the city no longer wishes to buy the Whitlock Street property.
The rezoning request has alarmed neighbors – especially on Whitlock Street – who were concerned the business might upset their quiet residential street. It’s unclear how the removal of the Whitlock Street portion of the project will change the level of opposition to the project.
Even still, the city has two issues to consider. Attorney Roger Swets said planning commission has to consider the rezoning.
An historic easement on the property, granted to the city by the Molloys years ago, is another obstacle in front of the project. Even if city planners grant the rezoning, the city could use the easement to prevent the Molloys from changing the use of the building. By the same token, even if the city agrees to amend the historic easement, city planners could deny the rezoning.
The city’s historic district commission will assist the city in considerations around the historic easement.
Waste Management is delivering new trash containers to city residents this week. The containers will come with information about disposing old containers and downsizing to a smaller container.