CITY OF MUSKEGON
CITY COMMISSION WORKSESSION
Monday, April 12, 2021
City Commission Chambers
Present: Mayor Gawron, Vice Mayor Hood, Commissioners Rinsema-Sybenga, Emory,
Johnson, Ramsey, and German.
Adding a Second Worksession
Commissioner Ramsey requested the City Commission consider adding a second Worksession
meeting to shorten the length of the meetings.
A majority of Commissioners indicated they were not interested in a second meeting but
suggested a way to shorten the meetings. The City Clerk was instructed to send out information
received from another municipality on the rules placed on their meetings to shorten discussion.
This item will be placed on the next Worksession meeting for discussion.
Deputy City Manager Position
The City Manager presented a job description to create a position for a Deputy City Manager. A
lengthy discussion took place on the title of Assistant City Manager vs Deputy City Manager. A
majority of the Commissioners felt comfortable with Deputy City Manager title and authorized
the City Manager to take the job description to Civil Service.
Carlisle’s Arena Lease Discussion
Placer.ai Software Subscription
The Economic Development Department has been researching various data analysis platforms
to help us answer some larger socio-economic questions regarding our population and
workforce. Placer.ai would allow the department to use anonymized GPS data from cell phones
to determine critical information to better understand our local economy.
This item has been discussed at several Commission Meetings and will be placed on the April
13, 2021 meeting for consideration by the Commission.
The Purchasing Work Group is seeking approval of a revised purchasing policy.
At the request of the Mayor, the Purchasing Policy Work Group has reviewed the existing policy,
talked with various departments throughout the city, and presents a revised policy. Changes of
The purchasing authority has been increased based on review of recent purchases.
The process for correcting a bid was modified to limit liability.
The local preference has been modified.
Goals have been included for disadvantaged contractors.
Provisions to select vendors based on qualifications have been further outlined.
The use of prevailing wages has been modified.
Staff approval of change orders has been changed based on contingency included in the
Provisions for handling violations of the policy have been added.
Motion by Commissioner Johnson, Supported by Commissioner Emory to remove the
discussion of the Purchasing Policy to the next Legislative Meeting in June.
ROLL CALL VOTE:
Ayes: Emory and Johnson.
Nays: Gawron, Hood, Ramsey, German, and Rinsema-Sybenga.
Discussion took place regarding budgeted and unbudgeted items. Commissioner Johnson
indicated he did not feel comfortable allowing staff to purchase unbudgeted items under
$25,000 without prior consent of the Commission.
The Finance Director indicated these items are brought to the Commission through the
The majority of the Commission indicated they were fine with the language for purchases under
$25,000 as presented in the proposed policy.
Questions came up about who approves emergency purchases and the elimination of the
Staff will follow up on several questions and will forward answers to the City Commission for
consideration at the April 13, 2021 Commission meeting.
Solar Tax Abatement
The City will be working with Chart House Energy on installing solar panels on the roof of the
arena. The company is seeking a 100% tax abatement on the personal property through Public
Act 328 of 1998.
Jon Ledsworth, Chart House Energy, indicated he has sought a tax abatement from the City of
This item will be on the April 13, 2021 agenda for consideration by the Commission.
Muskegon Social Equity Program
The City will be receiving $112,000 in excise tax funds this year from the State for allowing
marihuana facilities. The City has also received $1,200 in donations from local marihuana
companies. Staff has prepared a document outlining proposed grants/loans for the program.
Commissioner Johnson has asked that the social district and Rebel Road be placed on the
worksession meeting for discussion. We learned that special liquor licenses may not be
obtained in a social district unless the social district is suspended. We have reached out to
Representative Terry Sabo who tried to have legislation changed but is unable to do so.
Staff met with Rebel Road and gave them other options to have a beer tent. Rebel Road has
also reached out to Representative Terry Sabo. The City has offered the use of the arena at no
cost. Staff offered the back half of Fourth Street for a beer tent and Hackley park for a concert
and beer tent that is just adjacent to Fourth Street and right off of Western. Staff also offered
Sixth Street as another option for a beer tent or possibly the parking lot of Lakeshore Museum if
the museum is in agreement.
As another alternative, we offered to charge more for the social district cups during the four-day
event and with the proceeds, the City is able to pay for the expenses of the event. Rebel Road
would still raise funds through their vendors and any activities they wanted to charge for as well
as donation containers.
We also hear from the CIO Hall who will also be unable to pull a special liquor license for their
establishment. They too have reached out to Representative Terry Sabo and understand this
law will not change this year.
Staff and law enforcement have actively been working with restaurants, bar owners, and
patrons teaching them the rules of a social district. Downtown is becoming busier as the
weather warms and the social district will become one of the most popular activities downtown.
Law enforcement has grave concerns of teaching patrons they may walk outside establishments
with a drink but stop patrons from walking outside during crowded special events. The City is
ultimately responsible for the social district and if it is found that patrons are leaving
establishments with a drink when not permitted, the Liquor Control Commission will end the
social district which will be a detriment to all of our bars and restaurants downtown. Staff highly
discourages suspending the social district for special events and continue to work with special
events to find alternative means as our downtown continuously changes and grows.
The general consensus from the Commissioners was the same. Commissioners encouraged
staff to continue to work with event organizers to find an alternate solution.
Terrace Street Reconfiguration
Staff has begun to work on our 2022 project for Terrace Street between Apple Avenue and
Lakeshore Drive. The project includes a proposal for a substantial reduction in the size of
Terrace Street along with a conversion from a boulevard to a 2-lane/2-way roadway.
A brief discussion took place regarding this upcoming project.
Harbor 31 Viridian Shores Housing Development Update/Neighborhood Enterprise Zone
The development team at Harbor 31 has been working through several legacy environmental
issues at the development site as well as more stringent mitigation criteria from EGLE on
various aspects of the project scope. They have requested the opportunity to update the
commission alongside city staff that have been working on the project.
The developers have planned a multi-phase, multi-use buildout for the Harbor 31 site which
includes single family detached residential as well as owner-occupied townhomes. They have
done quite a bit of environmental and geotechnical field work on the site and are working with
EGLE to determine what level of mitigation will be required. It is evident based on findings that
more substantial and active vapor mitigation systems will likely be required for any residential
uses, and there will also potentially be required wetland replacement obligations that did not
exist in prior years. Due to these upward pressures on project costs which the developer will
elaborate on, they intend to request a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone for the owner-occupied
phases of the development, similar to the ones established for recent other housing
developments. There is a legal notice and hearing process to establish this district laid out in the
relevant statute, tonight’s discussion is solely to promote active communication between the
developer and the city by way of updating the commission.
425 Agreement Business Park North Removal/Acquisition of 902 Pine Street
The department has been working with Muskegon County for some time now as to their
requested disposition of the 425 Shared Jurisdiction Agreement at Business Park North. We
have come to terms that have been agreed upon by the County Commission and are for your
Effectively, the City of Muskegon would remove the existing 425 agreement between the City,
County, and Dalton Township. This would forego claims to future income tax revenues sourced
from any jobs created at this site for the city, and so we determined that it was not in the best
interest of the community to simply agree to dispense of the agreement. We requested that the
County relinquish to us a roughly 1/3rd acre parcel at 902 Pine Street, which the county acquired
in 2013 for a parking lot they never built. This site was the former location of a longstanding
furniture store, then Pine Street Antiques which was demolished by Muskegon County when the
took possession of the lot. City staff feel this lot would make a quality candidate for further
workforce housing options in the community, and potentially some mixed use commercial as
well. The County would not trade the lot for free in exchange for removal of the 425, so agreed
to sell it for half of it’s appraised value, $24,000. The City countered by requesting that they
invest some or all of that revenue from the sale into the paving of another gravel lot located
across Pine Street from this lot which is currently used by the County Sheriff’s Department for
parking. The County Administrator agreed to these terms. This will increase the curb appeal and
value for resale and development of the lot we wish to trade.
There are two excavation companies that have conditional purchase agreements on much of
the site at Business Park North. Accurate Excavation and Ryerson Excavation have both
requested to purchase acreage there in order to build storage facilities for vehicles and
potentially to store excess materials and fill. As of now the County has informed us these are
the only development prospects they have for the sites. Staff has included the relevant
documents and records on the lot in your packet. Staff proposes to utilize the Economic
Development Fund (493) to acquire this lot, file the necessary Baseline Environmental
Assessments with EGLE, and them immediately outlay a Request for Proposals to see the lot
redeveloped. The expectation is that we would achieve market value for the lot, which should be
in the $50,000 range in the event it is selected for a potential LIHTC development.
This item will be on the April 13, 2021 agenda for consideration by the Commission.
State of Emergency for Meetings
The City Commission approved a resolution authorizing remote meetings through May 31st.
Muskegon County Commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing remote meetings through
December 31st. Our City Attorney has indicated that our Commission dictate how the City’s own
boards meet going forward.
The City has approximately 20 different boards and committees that continue to meet remotely.
Departments need a directive of what these meetings look like moving forward. There are
several options available. The City Commission could indicate all meetings are to be held
remotely through May 31st. The City Commission could start meeting in person beginning in
June with committees meeting in person or hybrid by September 1st. These are just some
examples of possible options.
Commission could review its options at its worksession and a resolution can be added to
Tuesday’s meeting adopting how boards meet going forward.
Public Comments Public comments were received.
Ann Marie Meisch, MMC – City Clerk