Montcalm County Brownfield Authority quiet for past 2 years

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:34 am on Monday, January 09, 2017

STANTON — A Montcalm County commissioner is questioning why the county’s Brownfield Authority hasn’t met in nearly two years, but the authority’s chairman says there’s simply been no reason to meet.

During Tuesday’s Montcalm County Board of Commissioners organizational meeting, Commissioner Ron Baker of Howard City questioned why he’s been seeing newspaper articles about brownfield efforts in Montcalm County despite the Brownfield Authority not meeting.

The Daily News has recently featured articles about attempts by Flo’s Pizzeria & Ristorante in Greenville to secure tax increment financing through a brownfield grant with the assistance of the city of Greenville.

“Evidently things have been happening over there the county isn’t aware of,” Baker said. “I was puzzled when I saw that article because it was talking about brownfield decisions. Meetings need to take place so the brownfield committee can figure out what’s happening with the Greenville situation.”

The Environmental Protection Agency defines a brownfield as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”

The Montcalm County Brownfield Authority is comprised of Chairman Doug Hinken — who works as an engineer for the city of Greenville — Greenville Department of Public Safety Officer Brian Blomstrom, Greenville City Manager George Bosanic, Road Commission for Montcalm County Superintendent-Manager Mark Christensen, Howard City Downtown Development Authority President S. Michael Scott and Mid-Michigan District Health Department official Lonnie Smith, who is secretary-treasurer for the Brownfield Authority.

Former Lakeview and Stanton manager Jake Eckholm and former Edmore village manager Jim Lower were also members, but Eckholm is now city manager of Muskegon Heights while Lower was recently elected 70th District state representative.

The Brownfield Authority hasn’t met since March 2015, when Hinken was named chairman.

“Since that time, there have been no substantive issues to hold a meeting,” Hinken told The Daily News. “At this point, there are no decisions to be made.”

The efforts being made by Flo’s Pizzeria & Ristorante are on the agenda to be discussed at Tuesday’s Greenville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) meeting. The property in question consists of two parcels at the corner of St. Lafayette and W. Grove streets in Greenville, located within the city’s historic district.

Flo’s is seeking tax increment financing to fund $140,000 in brownfield work, including $20,000 for baseline environmental assessment activities, $80,000 for demolition of the building, $20,000 for lead and asbestos abatement and $20,000 for brownfield plan amendment/work plan preparation and development. The duration of the brownfield plan amendment for the project is estimated to be 18 years.

The Greenville DDA will meet at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Greenville City Hall. Anyone may attend.

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