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Township to talk Kmart project again

Trustees debate the need for a second meeting on development

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The Charter Township of Alpena board will soon act on a rezoning request made by the firm Ideas 2 Production for the former Kmart property. A special meeting is slated for 11 a.m. Monday, and the change could be voted on at the board’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 23.

ALPENA TOWNSHIP — The Charter Township of Alpena Board of Trustees has scheduled a special meeting regarding a requested rezoning of the property around the former Kmart on U.S.-23.

The zoning change was requested after an Alpena company bought the long-shuttered big-box store and proposed an industrial project there. The township board will meet at 11 a.m. Monday to discuss the issue and may act on the request during its regular meeting later this month.

The decision to hold a special meeting didn’t come without debate, however, as several trustees questioned whether an extra meeting was necessary, since the regular meeting is only one week further out.

The added cost to taxpayers for having an additional meeting was also considered.

The meeting is slated for Monday because it is the final day the Alpena County Planning Commission can comment on the zoning proposal. It is unknown if the county intends to issue an opinion on the matter or not, but it had 30 days to do so.

The trustees are expected to post rezoning ordinance and then vote on it at the next meeting.

Before the vote to schedule the extra meeting, Trustee Matt Dunckel said he wasn’t sure an added meeting — which will cost the township in the neighborhood of $400 — is needed, and questioned whether it would delay or hinder the project.

This year, the township added a second regular meeting to its monthly calendar, which Dunckel pointed out was done to limit the need for special meetings. Dunckel also pointed out that an unplanned morning meeting could limit the number of people who may want to chime in on the proposed zoning change.

“The people living in that area may want to comment — I know I would,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t think that extra week is going to make or break the project.”

Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said the company behind the Kmart project, Ideas 2 Production, or I2P, has already been stalled because of the rezoning process. A thorough review and public comment session was done at the township’s Planning Commission, he said.

“For projects of this size, days can make a difference, let alone weeks,” Skibbe said. “It has already been affected by almost a month, so why would we as a municipality postpone any development?”

Trustee Steve Lappan said I2P plans to alter the building’s exterior, and the sooner they can begin, the better chance they will get a good bite out of the project before weather turns sour.

Skibbe, Lappan and Trustees Norm Poli and Cash Kroll voted for it. Dunckel, Clerk Michele Palevich, and Treasurer Laura Ellery-Somers voted no.

I2P intends to open a manufacturing facility capable of housing multiple businesses. In a press release earlier this month, Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Klarich described the project as a way for upstart companies to develop, produce, and market their products.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.