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Hancock tables business park document

Hancock City Manager Mary Babcock discusses wording in the city’s business and technology park’s declaration of restrictions and covenants. The council tabled approval to address questions about the wording of some clauses. (Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Council Wednesday tabled the governing document for its new business and technology park over concerns about wording.

The 40-acre park will be located behind Hancock Central High School near Tomasi Road, on land the city purchased more than 30 years ago with the intent of one day building such a park.

Councilor John Haeussler questioned references to the current zoning ordinance, which the city is in the process of revising.

City Manager Mary Babcock said the city needed a covenant on file before being able to market lots to potential buyers.

“It is one of the holdups to really pushing to sell or to market, but it’s not out for bid yet either, so we can hold off,” she said.

Haeussler also questioned a provision stating that each party would pay its own attorney fees in the event of a lawsuit over violation of the covenant. Mayor Paul LaBine asked to have the city attorneys explain the provision. While both sides are usually responsible for paying their own attorney fees, he was surprised to see a clause specifying it in that setting.

“That’s usually something I would see in an arbitration agreement, like a union contract,” he said.

Revised language is expected to be ready for the council’s next meeting on June 20.

The council did approve engaging with realtor Kristine Weidner for the sale of lots at the park. Before the lots can be listed, the council must approve the sale price.

The city is still awaiting federal Environmental Protection Agency approval to go out to bid for the park, Babcock said. Completion of the park is projected for late summer 2023.

In other business, the council:

• Approved authorizing Babcock to purchase 1034 2nd St. for a price not to exceed $15,000. The foreclosed property is owned by the county’s treasurer’s office; back taxes are $12,401.31. Despite reservations about getting involved with the practice, Haeussler said the city could benefit financially. He said changes to the state’s General Property Tax Act in recent years allows the city to keep profit from reselling the property, rather than returning the proceeds to the county treasurer. Fair market value would be about $93,000, Haeussler said.

Councilor Lisa McKenzie suggested placing the proceeds in a fund to improve other distressed properties to house families in the city.

The council voted in favor, 6-1; Councilor Ron Blau, the lone nay vote, had concerns about buying the property before knowing if the city would need to sink money into improvements like asbestos removal.

• Approved a letter of support for Michigan Technological University’s grant application for refined battery materials for the U.S. electric vehicle battery supply chain. The council approved the letter unanimously, though with some trepidation about passing it without having background on the project.

“I see a subject matter expert coming up to me down the road and saying, ‘You ignorant fool! What were you thinking supporting that?’ … On the surface it seems like something that we want to support, but I don’t know anything about this,” Haeussler said.

• Heard from Babcock that the city is requesting bids for the restoration of the Maasto Hiihto trails, with the bids due July 27. The project is the city’s final Federal Emergency Management Agency project after the Father’s Day Flood in 2018. The bids for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources trail at Navy and Tezcuco streets are due on July 18.

• The city also created a new loading and unloading area on the boardwalk at Porvoo Park, which allows boaters to get items on or off their vessels before parking their boat farther down the dock.

• Users of the Laurn Grove pickleball court have set up a GoFundMe to pay for converting the former tennis courts at the site to four pickleball courts. Nets will go up by Monday, Babcock said. The GoFundMe campaign can be found at ​​gofundme.com/ f/759wze.

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