City Commission talks about motel site, water funding

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published December 14, 2023


MOUNT CLEMENS — For its penultimate meeting of 2023, the full Mount Clemens City Commission showed up on Dec. 4 for a regular meeting headlined by water project funding and a work session about the apartment complex set to replace the old motel at 1 North River Road.

Developer Jim George and Samantha Seimer, vice president of economic development services for consulting firm AKT Peerless Environmental Services, spoke with commissioners about the funding strategy for the 102-apartment complex. George would reimburse the costs of demolition and construction through brownfield tax increment financing, where tax values on redeveloped property remain at pre-redevelopment levels while the tax value increase reimburses redevelopment costs. Brownfield financing plans are approved at the state level by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy for environmental activities and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for nonenvironmental activities like demolition and abatement.

Seimer said the plan as presented would last for 24 years, with about $4.3 million being reimbursed, though the city could begin receiving taxes at the full redeveloped rate sooner depending on how fast reimbursement occurs. The funds would be in addition to $5 million granted by the state to cover the purchase, demolition, environmental remediation and construction costs. While there appears to be an overlap in the intention of the $5 million and the $4.3 million, George was adamant the two amounts were for separate purposes.

“That money isn’t (me getting) reimbursed and reimbursed again,” George said. “I have a specific pot of money we’re trying to get from the state, municipalities (and) the MEDC. They’re saying, ‘You can take that money and pull it ahead right now, but then you’re going to put it back in if the project goes.’ … If the project goes, you’ve got to put it back into development and use it for construction.”

If the project were to not go forward for three years after demolition, Mount Clemens will receive the site for $1. Remediation has begun on the site, but George will not begin demolition until he receives approval from the MEDC, estimated to come in three to four months. Engineering, design and permit acquisition work is being performed in the meantime.

The work session was for commissioners to hear the plan and ask questions. No formal approval was made at the work session.


Water project bonds
To help the city fund its entrance into the Great Lakes Water Authority’s water distribution system, the city was awarded a $42 million Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan and a $6.2 million Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan. However, with only some of the DWSRF loan and none of the CWSRF loans being paid back by grants, the city is issuing Water Supply System Revenue Bonds.

Undertaken with the help of law firm Miller Canfield and Bendzinski & Co. Municipal Finance Advisors, the city will issue $45 million and $8 million in revenue bonds that will be purchased by the state. The bonds are a vehicle for the state to subsidize the engineering, design and construction costs associated with the project and a way to facilitate the low-interest revolving fund loans.

Commissioners approved the procedural step of passing a resolution of intent to issue the bonds. Revenue bonds can be issued without an election unless 10% of the city’s registered electors file a petition within 45 days of the resolution’s publication.

The remaining steps of the bond process will not begin until bids come back for the project. Authorization of the bonds is expected to occur in summer 2024.

Hello and goodbye

Mount Clemens Fire Department Chief Dan Reynolds made his debut before the City Commission on Dec. 4, thanking city officials for the position, expressing his support for department personnel and ensuring Mount Clemens citizens their Fire Department will be “effective, efficient and economic.”

“We’re going to do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason,” Reynolds said.

Attorney Michael Murray was honored by the commission as Dec. 4 was his last time sitting among them as the city’s counsel. He ended a nine-year career, and his seat will be filled by Rob Huth of the law firm Kirk, Huth, Lange & Badalamenti. Huth is a former Harrison Township trustee and serves as the municipal attorney for both Harrison Township and Shelby Township, according to the law firm’s website.