Belding appoints historic commission, approves ordinance

By Jessica Beery • Last Updated 6:52 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2011

BELDING – The city officially has a historic district.
Belding City Council members took the final two steps Tuesday evening that were necessary to establish the district more than a year after the effort began.

The historic district includes buildings from 105 through 302 E. Main St., which includes the Gibson Building, and the Belrockton Community Center at 108 Hanover St.

Council members appointed the seven-member historic district commission and approved a second reading of the historic district ordinance amendment.

The council selected the historic commission members from a list of 11 citizens interested in serving.

Each council member voted for seven citizens of the list of 11. The top three candidates were appointed three-year terms, the fourth and fifth candidates received two-year terms and the sixth and seventh candidates received a one-year term.

Rita Huffman, Doug Lamborne and Duane Shore were appointed to the three-year terms. Jared Seigel and Jon McGowan were appointed to the two-year terms. Chris Breimayer and Deb Curler were appointed to the one-year terms.

Following the appointment of the commission, the council approved the second reading of the historic district ordinance with a vote of 5 to 0.

“I’m glad we’re finally at this step,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Andrea Belding. “I’ll be glad to put this behind us.”

Councilman Ron Gunderson said he wished “there was a bigger pool” of candidates for the commission. Although, he and Mayor Roger Wills said many potential candidates withdrew their names when they learned more about the responsibilities with the commission.

The commission members, who are not paid, must set design standards and guidelines for buildings in the historic district and foster historic preservation activities in the city. The commission meets once per month or more.

The council expressed appreciation for all the work that went into the historic district process over the past year by many people in Belding.

“I’m glad we reached the end of this part of the journey we’re on,” Gunderson said.

The effort to establish a historic district started last fall, soon after Electrolux purchased the Gibson Building and announced plans to tear down the entire facility.

The historic district will require the company to obtain approval from the historic commission to complete the demolition, although appeals are available through the state if its permit application is denied.

Electrolux filed a lawsuit earlier this year challenging the city’s process of establishing the historic district and use of a demolition moratorium on historic buildings in the district. Judge Scott P. Hill-Kennedy of Mecosta County’s 49th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the city, allowing the historic district to be established and allowing the city to deny Electrolux’s demolition permit.

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