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Business park still on horizon for Hancock Planning Commission

HANCOCK — The Hancock Planning Commission held their May meeting on Monday. Topics of discussion included moving forward with the business park, potentially rezoning parts of the city, and general updates to the commission bylaws.

City Manager Mary Babcock reported that the city has received a grant from the Economic Development Association, and that the city will begin working towards other grants to reach the $600,000 the city will need to put towards the business park.

A new aspect of the park the city council and the planning commission will have to discuss is the covenants; what businesses can be a part of the park.

As part of the EDA grant, the city is required to have an archaeologist on site during any digging for development of the park to ensure State Historic Preservation Offices of the National Park service qualifications are met.

Babcock also informed the commission that the city will be receiving funds from the American Rescue Plan in the form of $220,000 in 2021 and $240,000 in 2022.

“We have until 2024 to send the funds, and the majority of it will need to be spent on water, sewer and broadband systems and improvements,” she said.

Babcock hopes to supplement the funds with various grants so “we can try to get double the amount for each dollar.”

The city is working on the Capital Improvement Plan for next year, which Babcock expects will highlight what the ARP funds may be going towards.

The beginning of the draft for the Capital Improvement Plan is expected to take shape in June, and will outline what will need to be done with “facilities, to vehicles, to the machinery and all the parks,” she said.

Babcock also announced that the EDA of Michigan will be funding a fellow to work with the city.

“(The fellow will) help us do anything from the zoning ordinance to personnel handbooks to any kind of documents that we need, or projects that the Planning Commission is looking towards doing, or any researcher need,” Babcock said.

The fellow would reside in Hancock for 15 months. Hancock is one of only 10 communities in Michigan to receive the opportunity.

The commission’s subcommittee on zoning decided to keep the zones in the current 1, 2, and 3 zone layout.

Babcock and the subcommittee expect to have the initial draft for the planning commission by the end of May, “so the first meeting would be in June to start accepting the draft.”

The committee also discussed tenant parking being an issue for Hancock renters and entertained the possibility of developing new lots and having introducing permit parking. Whether the lots would be independently serviced or serviced by the city and paid for through permit fees remains to be discussed.

Babcock stated that there was a parking ordinance within the zoning ordinance. The parking ordinance has been sent to OHM for review, “so there has been some input on the parking ordinance already.”

The commission entertained possibly changing some of the bylaws, particularly in regards to what information would have to be presented to the commission for certain building projects to receive a building permit.

The commission also discussed whether the bylaws should require the subject interested in a building permit to participate in the planning commission meeting in which their request will be reviewed in order to answer the commission’s questions.

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