BELDING — Two homes in violation of the city of Belding’s blight ordinance will be coming down after members of City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to have the homes demolished.
In a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Tom Jones absent, council members awarded a demolition to Rick Anderson Excavating Inc. for two homes located at 316 Hanover St. and 914 S. Bridge St.
According to City Manager Meg Mullendore, documentation on both homes has shown that the properties have been in violation of the Belding Property Maintenance Code for several years.
“We have been dealing with one of these properties, with documents dating back over a decade, and the other one documented for six years … the issues have not been addressed and the houses have not been brought up to code,” she said.
Mullendore said the homeowners were given six months to show, at a minimum, any progress, which she said was not achieved.
“Due to the blight issue with both (homes), it is staff’s recommendation that the city council award the demolition work to Rick Anderson Excavating Inc. not to exceed $15,300.
Mullendore said the city reached out for eight bids but only received two responses, the other coming from Pitsch Companies, which submitted a bid of $18,200 for the demolition projects.
“Of the two, Rick Anderson Excavating was the lowest bid,” she said. “Additionally, Fire Chief (Gregg) Moore has indicated that the fire department has worked with this firm before on demolitions due to fire damage and has had positive experiences with them.”
Both structures are residential two-story wood-frame buildings with a “Michigan basement” in poor condition.
During public comment, Belding resident Mike Henry announced that he had submitted his application to join the Zoning Board of Appeals and requested that the council reinstate the board, which was absorbed by City Council at its previous meeting.
Belding High School student and Greenville resident Allison Harrison, a Girl Scout of 13 years, requested permission to explore a project to build five to 10 Wood Duck boxes along the Flat River in effort to attract more ducks to the area.
Otisco Township resident Craig Crebressa requested that council members work together to help ensure that the Rivertown Bike Week Expo, originally scheduled for 2014 and delayed until 2015 due to lack of sponsors, will happen as currently scheduled.
Crebressa also expressed concern that Councilman Jerry Lallo had a conflict of interest in attempting to serve security for the event.
At the May 20 Belding City Council meeting, Rivertown Bike Week Expo Coordinator Mark Mensch addressed city council regarding his struggles finding a sponsor for the event.
According to Mensch, the reason the “key sponsor,” which he did not name, dropped from the event, was in relation to the negative image he believes has been portrayed of the city of Belding in recent months, and directly blamed Mullendore and the council.
During council comments, Lallo argued that he does not believe a sponsor would remove itself due to the reasons that Mensch provided.
“The only concern I have is that when Mr. Mensch stated that it was the city government and problems with our local government, along with the mention of possibility of the (Covered Village) mall closing, as the reasons for his sponsor pulling out,” he said. “I don’t feel that it is our fault that his sponsor left him. I was really looking forward to Rivertown Bike Week coming here, and I still am.”
Lallo also stated that he does not have a conflict of interest with Rivertown Bike Week.
“At that time (2013), my employment was with a security company, but I do not have a security license, so I cannot offer security with anybody. There is no conflict of interest,” he said.
In the wake of Councilman Joe Feuerstein’s clarity/factual session for recall petition language, Mayor Ron Gunderson said he wanted to thank all of those who serve on the various committees and councils in Belding.
“I find it kind of disheartening that as public servants being put into the government position that we are in, to uphold the laws and changes within our community … I think it becomes a trickling down effect,” he said in reference to the clarity/factual session. “There just seems to be issues with not being able to fill committees. I just need to say that it’s really hard to understand that when we feel we are doing our job, and we are told that we are doing our job, (only to) then to fall prey to what has happened to Joe. I would just really hope that the people could appreciate more what these boards and commissions do for this town, the time they give to this community. At this time I just want to thank all of our boards and commissions.”