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Kaylee McGhee | Col­legian

 

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.