Schoolcraft council discusses economic development

By Rob Peterson

While discussing goals for 2021, Schoolcraft village council member Mike Rochholz asked what the village can do to attract more businesses to the community.

Council members suggested tracking available properties, including their condition and rental rates, so that staff could assist potential business owners in their location search. While Village Manager Cheri Lutz does not have an inventory of properties, she indicated that she is generally the first point of contact for businesses who are considering a move to Schoolcraft.

County Commissioner John Gisler noted that Indiana had success in recruiting businesses by having an inventory of development-ready, pre-permitted industrial sites. Lutz answered that “the harsh reality” is that Schoolcraft will have a difficult time attracting manufacturing businesses without a sanitary sewer system.

The Council asked Lutz to set up a workshop so that they could discuss their goals for 2021, including a conversation about economic development efforts.

Even without the goals in place, the community is seeing growth. The Council approved a recommendation from the Planning Commission to allow medical offices at 403 and 413 North Grand. Both properties have been vacant for some time but will be filled when Michele Enright moves her occupational therapy business into the village from U Avenue.

Clark Logic, which owns several buildings in the village, is considering a project that will involve services to home schoolers and virtual students. The project will require a zoning change, which will go to the Planning Commission before it is considered by the Council.

While on the subject of zoning, the council was reminded that the Planning Commission will hear public comments on proposed zoning changes that will affect the entire village. The public is encouraged to attend the session, which will be held virtually Feb. 8..

In other business, the Council discussed the challenges of considering whether to hold the July 4 festivities this year. Not knowing what the future will hold, it is difficult to ask people to expend energy in planning an event that may or may not happen. No decision was made.

Council member Tod Carlin asked if a representative from the Michigan Department of Transportation could come to a future council meeting to discuss planned reconstruction of US-131 through the village. Lutz indicated that she would invite them when they are further along in their planning process.

She updated the council on the reconstruction project, indicating that the trenching of the highway will not open up an opportunity for installing a sewer main. Village President Keith Gunnett added, “I didn’t think we could put the pipes under a street made for heavy trucks anyway.”

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