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West Bloomfield

November 15, 2012

Planning Commission weighs block grant options

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

WEST BLOOMFIELD — At its Nov. 13 meeting, the West Bloomfield Planning Commission discussed how its community program wishes could be granted.

The Planning Commission voted 4-3 to approve a 2013 Community Development Block Grant allocation plan. Panelists Steven Kaplan, Karmen Santourian, Jim Manna and Mark Miller voted yes, and Don Jackson, Steven Budaj and Nancy Reed voted no.

According to the township’s senior planner, Sara Roediger, West Bloomfield is expecting to receive an estimated $104,877 for its 2013 CDBG program. However, she said the federal funds can vary somewhat from year to year.

Officials said the block grant program is designed to help poor or middle-income people, stop blight or meet urgent community needs. However, the township has no low-income Census tracts, so it limits the type of programs that are eligible for funding, Roediger said.

Under the CDBG program, allocated programs must receive at least $2,500. Total funds could be split by allocating a 30-percent maximum toward public services and by devoting the rest for “other activities.”

Under these definitions, public services could mean things like senior services and domestic violence services like HAVEN. “Other activities” includes things like improving disability access or a Minor Home Repair program that is designed to keep property values up.

Roediger said that West Bloomfield has paid Bloomfield Township Senior Services to offer a Meals on Wheels program to West Bloomfield’s aging population. Some commissioners highlighted the program’s importance.

However, some officials wanted the township to invest money into HAVEN, which didn’t get West Bloomfield block grant funds in 2012. Linda Drake, a HAVEN representative, told the Planning Commission that 73 people and 34 crisis calls recently came from the area.

While HAVEN has recently operated without West Bloomfield’s block grant funds, Drake warned that costs are rising.

“Any of our money goes to the residents, and it’s pretty bare bones,” she said.

But other officials said funding HAVEN would mean taking money away from parks and recreation or the Meals on Wheels program for seniors. Kaplan made a motion to devote the block grant funding as presented in the commissioners’ packets — with money going to senior services, disability access and minor home repair but not for HAVEN.

“Warm meals to (seniors) means a lot,” Kaplan said. “It’s not just the food itself, but the fact that somebody cares.”

The Planning Commission’s approved plan is scheduled to go to the West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees for a Nov. 19 vote.

Learn more about West Bloomfield and its Planning Commission at www.wbtwp.com or at (248) 451-4800.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.