Greenville, Eureka, Mersen USA make case in State Boundary Commission public hearing on annexation issue
GREENVILLE — The State Boundary Commission met in Greenville Thursday to gather more information through a public hearing regarding the Mersen USA annexation. The graphite machine facility’s property sits both in the city of Greenville and in Eureka Township. The company, which is planning to expand, is seeking to annex into the city.
During the public hearing held at the Greenville City Hall, the State Boundary Commission let each of the three entities — Mersen USA, the city of Greenville and Eureka Township — give a 10 minute presentation on their opinions of the annexation.
Once all three entities presented their case, each party was given a chance for rebuttal.
Community members in attendance were then invited for public comment during the meeting. The room was nearly packed with about 30 people in attendance.
The meeting, overall, was designed to gather information — not to make a decision.
Mersen USA filed a petition to the State Boundary Commission in order to be annexed into the city.
Mersen USA General Manager Mitch Taylor addressed the commission first and described his company.
Mersen USA, formally Graphite Engineering and Sales, located at 712 Industrial Park Drive in Greenville, is ranked as one of the top graphite machine facilities in the nation that specializes in machined-graphite products, according to the company’s website.
Taylor explained the company’s property sits both in the city of Greenville and Eureka Township. He said the company wants to annex into the city for expansion purposes.
“We are 27 feet from the township/city line,” Taylor explained. “When we expand, the township/city line would run through the manufacturing floor, which Mersen does not want to see happen.”
CITY OF GREENVILLE
City Manager George Bosanic was next to address the commission.
“The industrial park is located where it is because the utilities from the city are the greatest in this area,” Bosanic said, showing the State Boundary Commission a map. “We are a great place for manufacturing companies to be successful.”
Bosanic told of how the township and the city worked together in the past in annexation situations and were successful at coming to agreements — such as the property Wal-Mart sits on.
“I am standing in front of you for the first time because we can’t accomplish a successful annexation,” Bosanic said, noting if an agreement is not reached soon, he is worried the company will look elsewhere for expansion.
Bosanic said the city of Greenville is pushing to do a Public Act (PA) 108 with Eureka Township, instead of a PA 425 because a PA 108 is what the company wants.
Eureka Township Attorney Jeff Sluggett approached the commission last to introduce his client and the township’s stance on the annexation request.
“The township’s objections to annexation has nothing to do with Mersen,” Sluggett said. “We recognize Mersen is a great organization in this area. We feel as the annexation would have an adverse impact on the township.”
Eureka Township Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Faussett walked through the history with the State Boundary Commission, highlighted how the city and township have been trying to come to an agreement and how the PA 108 annexation would affect the township.
“One impact of annexing this property would be to take valuable industrial zoned property out of the township and reduce our ability to maintain essential services for the township residents by placing the burden of those lost tax revenues upon the remaining residents in the township,” he said.
Sluggett approached the commission again, stating he believes the township and city will be able to reach an agreement without the boundary commission having to make a decision.
“If we can, it’s important to the township to have the commission review it very carefully,” Sluggett said. “We would strongly encourage to deny annexation.”
About six members from the audience approached the State Boundary Commission both supporting and disagreeing with the annexation idea.
Eureka Township resident Duane Putnam said he was concerned with how the annexation would affect the township.
“My main concern is what this annexation will do to the township,” he said. “I think they should work together and share experiences and abilities.”
Eureka Township resident Mark Wilkin said he appreciated what both the city and the township have done and knows the intention of both entities is to support the business.
“The last thing we want to do is drive business out of the city,” Wilkin said. “I really think it’s a good move with the (PA) 108.”
Wilkin agreed with other community members that if enough time was allowed, he believes the township and city could reach an agreement.
STATE BOUNDARY COMMISSION
Members of the State Boundary Commission thanked everyone for not only their comments and input, but joining in with the meeting.
Ron Blanding, Montcalm County commissioner and a local commissioner on the boundary commission, said problems are solved by discussing them at meetings.
“It takes cooperation and communication,” Blanding said. “Greenville is boxed in by Eureka Township. The township doesn’t want to give up land and the city wants to grow.”
Blanding said he hopes cooperation continues between the entities and the situation is able to be resolved.
Written comments will be accepted until March 18 (30 days). A comment can be made by mail, fax or email, but must be received by March 18.
There will be a seven-day rebuttal period after all comments have been posted from the previous 30 days.
From there, the State Boundary Commission will review the information and then make a formal recommendation.
“It will be about May or June for a possible time frame to move anything along,” said Dennis Shorback, chairman of the State Boundary Commission.