The Hillsdale City Council unanimously approved a request from Meijer Inc. to install a new 12-inch water main that would service the future grocery store at meeting on Jan. 15. This decision came following Fayette Township’s approval of a revenue sharing 425 Agreement with Hillsdale in December that will allow Meijer to build a store in Hillsdale County.
According to the agreement, Meijer will pay upfront the $600,000 needed to build the water main. The City of Hillsdale will compensate the corporation for the pipe, using funds other businesses pay the Board of Public Utilities to connect to the larger pipe. According to the BPU, hook-up fee will be about $2,500.
Throughout the negotiations with Meijer, it was never stated that the city would eventually pay for the new water main, according to City Manager David Mackie, who added such a request is not uncommon.
“As a show of good faith of the city’s support of the project, we thought this request was fine and common,” he said.
Councilman Matt Bell initially took issue with the new proposal, saying the city in essence would be paying for the pipe by funding pipeline hook-ups that it otherwise would have raised revenue from for itself. Mackie said although Meijer was unclear in its intentions, the city would not have been able to afford to build a new water main unless Meijer had offered to pay for it upfront.
Mackie also stressed that deals like this will benefit the BPU and the city in the long run because a new 12-inch water main will give the community the capacity for additional growth.
As of now, businesses located near the proposed spots for the new pipe will not have to hook-up to the new pipe, because it is intended for Meijer’s use.
This most recent development comes in a long line of setbacks and renegotions between Meijer, Hillsdale and Fayette Township that began last spring when the Grand Rapids-based corporation approached the city for public utilities use and the township for use of its land.
To even buy the land in Fayette Township, both Hillsdale and Fayette were required to sign a 425 Agreement approved by the state of Michigan, which would ensure that the corporation could build and operate a grocery store on the land. Per the agreement, Hillsdale and Fayette would share tax revenues from Meijer.
Following the introduction of the 425 Agreement, a number of local Hillsdale business owners spoke out against the agreement, fearing the introduction of a Meijer could hurt local businesses.
At a Nov. 6 meeting, the council failed to take up a motion to pass the 425 Agreement, leaving it to be decided after the mayoral and council elections. At the first meeting after the elections, the motion passed unanimously.
Once the 425 Agreement passed in Hillsdale, it was left to the Fayette Township Board to give it final approval before filing it with the state. The motion froze in a 2 – 2 deadlock on Nov. 29 in Fayette, because Supervisor John Kalusniak was not present to vote.
Kalusniak called a special meeting on Dec. 12 and cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the 425 Agreement.
Now that the agreement has passed in both Hillsdale and Fayette, Meijer has the approval to build a grocery store on the property located between Beck Road and Frank Beck Chevrolet.
According to a Meijer representative, a new store could be a long time coming. The corporation has stores planned to open in Jamestown, Marquette, and Warren in 2018, but not in Hillsdale County.