St. Clair Shores agrees to participate in joint study for Selfridge

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 8, 2019

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Military bases are major economic engines for the area they serve, with hundreds or thousands of jobs — and Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township is no different.

To better serve the needs of the base and the communities that surround it, Macomb County is applying for funding from the federal government to conduct a sustainability study, also called a Joint Land Use Study, or JLUS, for the base and the surrounding communities.

Vicky Rad, interim director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, said that Selfridge Air National Guard Base was nominated for the JLUS to plan and carry out local adjustment strategies, engage the private sector in ventures to plan and undertake community economic development and base redevelopment, and take a look at compatible and incompatible civilian development around the base.

For example, Rad said, it would not be good for a six-story hotel to be constructed too close to the base’s runway.

“We included your community because you do share the asset of the waterway, Lake St. Clair,” she told the St. Clair Shores City Council Feb. 4.

The JLUS would be paid for mainly with federal grant money if the county’s application is approved. Although there is a 10 percent match, Rad said that Macomb County is not looking for local communities to pay.

Community engagement will be very important during the study, which will take 12-18 months. St. Clair Shores is being asked to have individuals participate in the joint land use study’s executive committee and advisory committee as well, she said.

Having a study on file, Rad said, will make Selfridge more eligible for future defense projects and equipment.

When Selfridge applied to host fighter planes on its base, “one of the ways we were nicked was, we didn’t have a study on file,” Rad explained.

She explained that they are in the process of gathering letters of support and resolutions to include in the application for the Department of Defense to decide if it will fund the study. No consultant would be hired to conduct the study if the funding was not approved, she said.

The biggest commitment the county was asking St. Clair Shores to make was that of time, she said, “seeking that good faith effort that you’re looking to participate and that you’re a community partner.”

Part of the proposed resolution, however, stated that the local community, St. Clair Shores, “commits to a good faith effort to implement the JLUS recommendations.”

Several council members expressed concern with that commitment.

“I can’t sign something promising I will commit to some recommendations that aren’t made yet,” Councilwoman Candice Rusie said.

The City Council voted to approve the resolution once that line was removed.

Rad said that communities did have the right to make their own resolution in support of the study and that they would not know what the recommendations would be until a consultant conducts the study.

She said that Chesterfield, Macomb, Harrison and Clinton townships, as well as Mount Clemens, Fraser and Roseville, were being included in the study.

“(We are) looking at it from a full perspective,” she said. “What are some of the areas we really want to make sure we study as part of this? The county has some perspective, Selfridge has some perspective, but to also hear back from the cities that maybe these are some things we should include.”