Mersen snagged in city-township dispute


By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 11:14 am on Tuesday, October 09, 2012

EUREKA TOWNSHIP — Discussion became heated during Monday night’s Eureka Township Board meeting when a Mersen USA employee questioned the township’s decision on whether to annex Mersen-owned property into the city of Greenville.

Greenville City Manager George Bosanic presented a petition from Mersen to the Greenville City Council on Aug. 7 to annex property from the township into the city.

The City Council agreed to move forward with Public Act 108 and have a mutual annexation committee meet to handle the situation, consisting of members from the Eureka Township Board and the City Council.

Bosanic said in the past there have been complaints about the city not giving the township enough notice about the annexation petition and they have felt rushed into making a decision. He said for this request he sent the petition to the township before it was presented to the council to give the township a “heads up” the petition was there.

After the council approved moving forward, Bosanic said he tried to set a date for the committee to meet, but Eureka Township Supervisor Laura Shears would not give him a date.

Instead, during the township’s Aug. 13 meeting, the township board voted to hire an attorney to handle the annexation matter where the township and attorney agreed to a Public Act 425 agreement instead of PA 108 like the city wanted to do — without having an annexation committee meet.

“The city wants a 108 and we want a 425,” said Shears at Monday’s meeting. “That is where we stand.”

Shears explained PA 425 would keep the property as part of the township where a PA 108 agreement would instantly hand the property over to the city.

Shears said if PA 108 was in place, the township would get a portion of the taxes from the property, “but nothing like we would if it was a (PA) 425.”

“This (situation) has nothing to do with the tax base, though,” Shears said.

Eureka Township Zoning Administrator Tom Faussett said PA 425 is the “normal way” of handling these types of situations.

In the past, Shears said Eureka Township has always done PA 108 agreements with the city, but not this time. At Monday’s meeting, Shears said the township was not budging on their decision.

Mersen General Manager Mitch Taylor, who attended Monday’s meeting, asked Shears why she prefers PA 425 to PA 108.

“It provides the township with protection down the road,” Faussett answered.

Faussett went on to say he does not know of any plans about Mersen expanding, which is why company officials say they want to be annexed into the city.

“We have seen a significant growth,” Taylor said. “We have expanded five or six times and we are at our 25-foot setback.

The next step would be for Mersen to expand on its land in the township. Taylor asked the township board what the plan was when the company has a 20,000 to 40,000 square foot expansion to provide sewer and water to the facility.

“A 425 does what is in the best interest of the township,” said Shears, interrupting Taylor. “I am standing up and saying a 425.”

Taylor said he filled out paperwork to file with the state boundary commission, which will be filed against the township this week.

However, Shears said she was up for the challenge.

“The city will not sit down and talk a 425 and we will not sit down and talk a 108,” Shears said. “George is for the city, and I am for the township.”

Shears stressed the township is not keeping Mersen from entering into the city, but holding the property until Mersen decides to expand “so its not just thrown into the city.”

“It’s unfortunate a local business has to do this and cannot operate effectively,” Taylor said.

Shears said it has nothing to do with the business.

“It has everything to do with our business,” Taylor said. “We cannot make future plans without knowing what is going to happen.”

According to the Bay City Times (MLive.com), Mersen USA announced plans in September to expand operations by investing $21.3 million into a Bay County site in Williams Township.

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