MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE WEST MAIN STREET HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2009,

AT 7:00 P.M. IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS,

CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

Chairperson Black called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

 

1.  Roll Call

     PRESENT:        Ernie Bedford, Jacinth Black, Sandra Jones, Tim Lichtenwald, Richard Osburn, and Mike Storey,

                                                                       

     ABSENT:           None

     VACANCY:        One

     OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Debbie Marquardt,

                                        Technical Secretary and no others

.                                                         

2.  Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting on October 22, 2008

It was moved by Bedford and seconded by Jones that the minutes from the meeting of October 22, 2008 be approved as presented.

           The motion passed unanimously. 

3.  Certificate of Appropriateness

 

     None

 

4.  Public Comments (not related to agenda items)

 

None

 

5.  Old Business

 

a.     2008 Survey Results

Mr. Baker discussed the survey results from 2008.  They received a total of 11 surveys which is a 46% response rate.  There were nine questions. 

The first one being, have you applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness since the changes in the application?  The majority of the responses were positive.  Yes – 8 No - 3

 

Ms. Black stated that there were major changes done to the process and that a lot of the approvals are now done by the staff and there hasn’t been any feedback in terms of the residents and it looks like the process has had a positive response.

 

Do you have any suggestions to change the process?  Yes - 3 No - 8

 

Do you read the information sent to you by the city?  Yes – 9 No – 2.  It looks like they are paying attention. 

 

Do you watch the televised district meetings?  Yes - 3 No – 8

 

Do you feel well informed of the guidelines?  Yes – 9 No – 1 Not Sure - 1

 

Do you feel well information of the issues discussed?  Yes – 6 No - 4 No answer – 1

 

Would you recommend a friend to move to the district?  Yes – 8 No - 2 NA – 1

 

Would you be interested in being appointed to the West Main Street Historic District Commission – Yes - 2 No - 8 N/A – 1

 

A scale was associated with how strongly they would support the following items with 1 strongly support through 5 strongly against.

 

Signs indicating entryways in the District. 1 – 7, 2 – 1, 3 - 3

 

Educational videos about the homes and the District.

1 – 3, 2 – 2, 3 – 5, 4 - 1

 

Printed articles about the district and/or highlighting homes.

1 – 3, 2 – 5, 3 - 3

 

Summer walking tours through the district.  1 – 3, 2 – 6, 3 - 2

 

Nearly half of the district participated.

 

Ms. Black was encouraged by the response and it seems like half of the district is supportive of specific events. That is a strong awareness.

 

Of the above ideas, would you be interested in participating?

 

Street lights have been needed for years.

 

They would help with tours, videos and there was opposition to any special assessment projects. 

 

Any other additional suggestions for the Commission?

 

Ms. Storey thinks the comments are interesting.  Maybe they would like to check with other homes and see if they would like to come into the district.  With real benefits they might interest other homes.

 

Mr. Osburn stated it would be a benefit to explore the possibility and see if others are interested in joining now that the rules have been changed.  One of the other feedback comments is there are other residences that have special unique categories that are at risk.  There are some Dow houses out there that they don’t want to lose.

 

Ms.Black stated that the historic district must be contiguous and they have to look at the houses that are contiguous to the district they have.  There has to be a sense of value added to the district that would provide assistance in a number of ways.  It is not unheard of to have more than one historic district in the community.  There can’t be just one house, there has to be a minimum number.  As they enhance the value the residents receive in this district, it becomes more desirable to join.

 

Mr. Osburn stated that there are wonderful homes and buildings out there that he would hate to have them disappear.

 

Ms. Jones asked if property owners choose to be in the district or does the city pick them?  If these people don’t want to be part of that district, why doesn’t the district go on further?

 

Mr. Storey stated that there was some falling out in the past. 

 

Ms. Black stated that as they go on one of the new business items is to create some subcommittees and those subcommittees will include these four items that the residents have given a strong support for.  A number of people signed their survey.  So as they get into the subcommittee, the chairs can look to see who was interested in the residents and form that subcommittee with the residents and work together.  The historic district is not a lot different from a protected district but it is not a privileged district. 

 

They had another request on lighting.  A letter was received by the city from residents within the district or the neighborhood in regards to improving street lighting in the area.  Those residents received a response from the city.

 

The Engineering Department staff will facilitate this.  They received the request and will see if the request is legitimate.  If further action is recommended, the city will contact Consumers Energy who installs and maintains the street lights in the city.  

 

Plans are provided to individuals who are impacted by the street light.  The city has decided to set up a meeting with the area residents directly affected by the street light.  If street lights are standard, there is no cost to the residents.  Non-standard or decorative lighting would require additional cost to the residents.

 

The duration of the process is dependent on the city and will be coordinated with Consumers Energy.  The Engineering Department is planning a neighborhood meeting in late March or April to discuss proposed lighting changes.

 

Ms. Black stated they are trying to find a funding source for lighting.   Mr. Storey stated that he talked to the foundations and that money is going to be hard to come by.  They will need to put together a plan with costs and see what they would need to be realistic.  He talked to a few people in the city engineering department to see what they have talked about before.  This might be a topic for a subcommittee once they get the costs involved. 

 

Ms. Black stated they would need to write a proposal to the local foundations and city engineering is investigating the costs.

 

Mr. Storey is willing to chair that committee.  Mr. Osburn will join him and see what they can find out.  Mr. Osburn asked about the ruling on solar power?  They might check the surveys and see if the person interested in lighting signed the survey.  The people that wrote the letters might be potential members.

 

Mr. Storey asked how they define consensus.  Mr. Baker stated he would have to defer to the Engineering Department or Consumers.  It might be by cost and brightness. 

 

Ms. Black wanted to comment on sending the residents minutes from the meetings.   The more effort someone has to go through the less likely it is for them to obtain it.  Staff will send a copy of the adopted minutes to the residents. 

 

Ms. Black stated that they used to send a packet to new residents.  It would include an updated district map with property owners.  There is no automated way to find out if there was a sale in the district.  

 

Mr. Bedford stated that they had a good response with the surveys.  The majority of them were positive and there were a couple that weren’t.  A couple of them still favored getting rid of the district.  They questioned the amount of resources poured into the district.  The district is a voluntary commission.

 

6.  New Business

      a.   Creation of subcommittee/work group

 

            Ms. Black stated that they are going to pass on the entranceways for now.

One of the ideas is educational videios that they talked about last year. A second idea would be print articles highlighting different homes in the district and maybe summer walking tours to highlight areas in the district.

 

Ms. Black asked if anybody would step forward to work on videos.  They could shoot a video and put it on Midland Community Television.  They identified three homes that would be willing to participate in it.  They could talk about the house and who lived there.  They could work with people from MCTV and also maybe Selina Tisdale.  The goal was to have somebody from MCTV.  Ms. Black asked Ms. Jones if she would chair that subcommittee. 

 

The summer walkings tours will be taken on by Ms. Black.  Between now and April she will contact the residents to get a working committee going and maybe plan or have a first meeting and Ms. Black will be glad to work with the subcommittes and get a start.

 

      b.   Board vacancy update

 

There is one vacancy and the city is the process of its annual appointments and they have recevied one application.  They do have one pending vacancy at the end of the fiscal year. 

 

Keith will report back on the tax credit.  Ms. Black read it and did not understand it.  Her impression was that it was for restoration and rehab of privately owned properties and it was considered a great benefit for the historic societies.

           

Mr. Bedford mentioned the historict district conference is coming up and there might be some information on lighting there. 

 

Mr. Osburn asked about the contracting consultant of the planning department and if they would take over the West Main Street Historic District.  Mr. Baker has a number of night meetings and he will have to make that decision.  That is definitely a possibility but no decision has been made and it will be Mr. Baker in the interim. 

 

c.    Awareness update

 

City in 15, the monthly program on MCTV, is going to begin a year long program with informational pieces of the city‘s boards and commissions.  Some time during the year they will get to this board.

 

There is an updated map that can be sent to the residents and updated packet information and minutes as well. 

 

7.  Adjournment

       

     The Chair adjourned the meeting at 8:00 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Keith Baker, AICP

Director of Planning and Community Development