Category: Legal News

Brighton City Council Votes To Allow Taller Buildings Downtown

The Brighton City Council last night voted to approve an amendment to the Downtown Business District ordinance that will allow taller building heights in the city’s downtown.

However, according to city officials, the goal of the change is not just to allow taller buildings in the downtown area, but also increase the variety of housing in the community and align the ordinance with the city’s Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan, passed in 2018. Jill Bahm of Giffels Webster, the city’s planning consultants, says perhaps the most striking aspect of the ordinance change is that four-story buildings — and even possibly five stories — will now be allowed in certain parts of the downtown, though not on Grand River or Main Street.

Although greater building heights up to four stories will be allowed in the areas Bahm cited, getting approval for a 5th story would require a special land use approval from the city. And Bahm says the upper stories would have to be set back 10 feet from the first and second floors to minimize the tall building effect. It is hoped the DBD zoning change will enhance the gateways to the community and result in other improvements.

No one spoke at the public hearing which preceded the council’s action. The measure passed 6-1 with Council Member Renee Pettengill casting the only no vote. (TT)

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New Kiosks Coming To All Secretary Of State Branch Offices

New and improved self-service stations are being installed at Secretary of State and other new locations across Michigan.

Finding roughly one-third of the old self-service kiosks broken and difficult to use, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her Department are replacing all 93 with new, more modernized ones. The branch office is Genoa Township has the new one up and running. The old kiosks came from different manufacturers and were made with about 10 different sets of parts making them complicated to get repaired, according to Department of State Director of Communications Jake Rollow. He said the new stations are made by a single manufacturer and ran almost flawlessly through a trial run that was recently completed at 10 branch offices. Like the old kiosks, currently residents can renew vehicle tabs at the new station. Rollow says by March 2021 customers will be able to additionally process driver’s license and state ID cards.

In addition to the 93 branch office replacements, an additional 57 self-service stations will be installed at certain Kroger and Meijer locations around the state, for better convenience. Transactions can be made in English and Spanish, with Arabic being added in the near future. Those paying with credit can add American Express to their options alongside the current Visa, MasterCard, and Discover cards. At some stations, cash will be accepted, though that is not an option at the Livingston County branch.

The rollout of these 150 new stations is expected to be complete by this coming April. (MK)

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Governor & Legislature Could Be Close To Budget Deal

An agreement appears to be close between the state Legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer following a two-month impasse over the budget for the fiscal year that began October 1st.

Both the House and Senate took initial action on supplemental budget bills this week that would restore funding vetoed by Governor Whitmer last September.
Whitmer made massive cuts to the tune of $947 (m) million and transfers to the budget after it was passed by the Republican-led Legislature without her input. The Legislature has restored 27 of 147 line-item vetoes. It includes proposed funding for PFAS contamination at airports, veterans services, autism programs, hospitals and isolated school districts among other items. Two local lawmakers are voicing support for the changes that would fund key priorities to protect education, public safety, and public health.

Republican State Representative Mike Mueller of Linden is a former Livingston County Sheriff’s Deputy. He’s pleased the Legislature and Governor are moving forward toward restoring some of the budget cuts. Mueller says they came together as a legislature, both Republicans and Democrats, and made it happen and didn’t use politics in lieu of public safety. He says they restored secondary road patrols to the full funding as well as county jail reimbursements, which would help county sheriff’s run jails and provide public safety to the community.

A measure sponsored by Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township was also incorporated into the House-approved plan. It would restore $600,000 to form a grant program to help community organizations establish or expand support services for people seeking long-term recovery from substance use disorders. Bollin says she’s heard from many people in the community who are directly affected by the governor’s cuts and she’s listened to their concerns – adding it’s time to put the 2019 budget behind them and move forward.

The measures approved by the House now advance to the Senate for further consideration. Negotiations are continuing but it’s possible the budget could be finalized next week. (JM)

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Brighton Vigil To Mourn Gun Violence Victims

Community members will gather in Brighton Sunday to remember those lost to gun violence.

Saturday, December 14th will mark seven years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were shot to death. To mark the tragedy of that day and honor the more than 700,000 Americans killed or injured by guns since then, several community groups are coming together this Sunday, December 8th at 5pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Brighton for a candlelight vigil.

Among those putting together the gathering are the Livingston County chapter of Michigan Moms Demand Action, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. Speakers will the Rev. Deon K. Johnson of St Paul’s Episcopal Church. You’ll find details through the link below. (JK)

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Gregory Home Destroyed By Fire

A home in a Gregory subdivision was destroyed by fire Thursday.

The home located on Bridgets Way is believed to be a total loss following the fire that started around 11am. Crews from nearly a dozen fire departments responded and remained on scene as of 4pm doing clean-up. The Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART was also on scene. The home was in a rural area with no access to fire hydrants, so a tanker truck had to pump water from a pond located near the front of the subdivision to help fight the fire.

Unadilla Township Police Chief David Russell was the first to arrive on scene and discovered a dog in the basement. He tells WHMI he was able to smash the glass of the basement doorwall to get the dog out safely. Russell says the homeowners were not home at the time but arrived later and it was learned there was another dog inside. Crews were able to rescue the other dog, which suffered smoke inhalation. That dog was given oxygen by EMS and then transported to a vet. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. (JM)

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Today Is Last Day for Leaf Pickup in Brighton

Today (Friday) is the last day of leaf pickup in the city of Brighton for the fall season. City Department of Public Services Director Marcel Goch says the city got behind on leaf removal when winter snows came early last month, and had to temporarily suspend leaf pickup operations. But, after most of the snow melted, the city DPW picked up where it had left off and resumed curbside leaf pickup. Goch tells WHMI that they’re pretty well caught up at this juncture.

Waste Management stopped picking up the bagged leaves at the end of November, and the city only has vacuum machines that pick up loose leaves. So Goch suggests that those who still have bagged leaves empty them on the street next to the curb to be picked up by the city. But he cautions that those persons need to call the city first to make sure the DPW crew knows where to go, and says NOT to call at the end of the day. Goch says today is the absolute deadline, and after that, no more leaves will be picked up by the city this year. (TT)

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Caution Tape Means Vehicle Has Been Checked For Emergencies

Livingston County residents are being advised of procedures in dealings with abandoned vehicles or others involved in spinouts during bad weather.

All emergency agencies within Livingston County are utilizing a procedure of marking vehicles that have been either abandoned or involved in spinouts during harsh weather conditions. Agencies will use caution tape and tie it from mirror to mirror over the windshield and a small section tied to the antenna if the vehicle has one.

Officials say the caution tape will indicate that the vehicle has been checked for any emergencies and that there is no need to respond back to it. If someone calls 911 to report a vehicle off the road, the dispatcher may ask if it is marked with caution tape to identify if it has already been reported.

Facebook photo.

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Pinckney New Tech Honored As Spotlight School

Pinckney New Tech High School is being heralded as one of the state’s top New Tech programs.

The New Tech Network this week recognized Pinckney New Tech as an Ignite Spotlight School. Spotlight Schools are New Tech schools that best examine the strengths and challenges of their practices within the context of the New Tech Network design pillars. Those pillars are “outcomes that matter,” “teaching that engages,” and “culture that empowers and technology that enables.” These help students develop skills that they will use to succeed in college, career, and civic life.

Pinckney New Tech’s Student Voice system was recognized as one its biggest strengths. Director Julia McBride says the program plans monthly New Tech-wide activities, contributes to marketing and recruitment efforts, informs their annual college visit and field trip destination and helps inform improvements to the program overall. “It is a group of New Tech students who have taken it upon themselves to help lead the New Tech small learning community at Pinckney Community High School.” She added that the priority of student voice has evolved into a living, breathing component of the school’s system that they are proud to share outwardly as a model for others.

Pinckney New Tech is a community within Pinckney Community High School and boasts a 98% graduation rate. This past year’s graduating class also exceeded county, state, and national averages on the SAT. (MK)

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Local Author To Narrate Holiday Light Park Tour

An area holiday light tour will be based around the latest offering from a local author.

Howell Parks and Recreation has teamed up with Denise Brennan-Nelson to create a larger-than-life drive-through experience at Scofield Park adapted from her new book Santa’s Secret. Attendees will enjoy scenes from the book installed along the park drive along with thousands of lights throughout the park. With a $5 admission, each car will receive a copy of the book and can listen to Brennan-Nelson read it from the link posted below.

A kick off celebration is set for Friday night from 6-8pm with cookies, hot chocolate, and a special photo op with Santa Claus. After Friday’s Grand Opening, the park will be open on weekends throughout December for people to drive through and view all the decorations. (JK)

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Study: Property Taxes & State Revenue Failed To Keep Up With Inflation

Property taxes and state revenue sharing has failed to keep up with inflation in Michigan communities according to a recently released report commissioned by the Michigan Municipal League.

Public Sector Consultants conducted a study on growth in revenues for Michigan cities using information contained in the F-65 reports filed each year by local governments. The study, which compared reported city revenues in 2002 to the revenues reported in 2017, found that when taking inflation into account, property taxes lost 15 percent of their value, and revenue sharing from the state fell by more than 37 percent. In 2002, those two revenue sources accounted for nearly 70 percent of all city revenue. By 2017, they only accounted for 60 percent of city revenues.

The study matches the findings of an earlier report from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, or SEMCOG, which took a critical look at how municipalities will be funded, particularly from an infrastructure standpoint. SEMCOG’s 2017 study “By the Numbers” covered revenue growth and expenditures for all types of local governments, and compared Michigan to other states. The report looked at budgets through 2012. Michigan cities, in particular, fared very poorly as compared to the rest of the nation.

Bill Anderson, SEMCOG’s Specialist in Local Government Operations and Finance, says Michigan communities have not rebounded from the Great Recession as easily as other cities in the nation due to constitutional limitations under the Headlee Amendment, or Proposal A. Under those limitations, once property values decreased, property taxes were not allowed to exceed the rate of inflation. Anderson says, “When we hit the bottom of the recession, that became the new reality for operational budgets for cities across the state.”

Anderson feels Michigan’s municipalities are now falling behind in terms of what kind of amenities people are looking for when they move to a community. He says even though they might not seem pervasive, the ramifications can be felt in Livingston County, citing situations in which area municipalities have considered and implemented civic event fees in order to continue to support festivals and other community events. That’s made budgeting difficult in local municipalities, Anderson says, as officials wrestle with funding necessary infrastructure items like roads, but also community events that make the area an attractive place to live.

Anderson says Michigan taking last place in capital outlay might not be a problem over the course of a year or two, but at some point it will impact a community’s ability to thrive in the future. Both the MML’s report and “By the Numbers” can be viewed at the link and attachment below. (DK)

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