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Posted: 01/08/14

Bruce seeks growth to
lower sewer debt in 2014

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce Township is aiming to improve infrastructure that will lead to more industrial and residential development in 2014.
       Officials said the township is continuing to work on industrial growth along 33 Mile Road. In particular, Clerk Susan Brockmann said plans for a 57,700 square-foot skilled nursing facility at 33 Mile and McKay roads are approved, though amendments to the plan may need to be made.
       "There has been some minor changes due to the state of Michigan lowering the number of beds," she said.
       Brockmann believes any 33 Mile Road development will spur on housing activity with more jobs in the area. She said housing has already gone up from 12 homes last year to 40 homes as of December.
       "There are some prospects out there, we seem to be moving along," she said. "For this time of year, planning and zoning is pretty busy."
       For commercial development, Supervisor Richard Cory said he plans on working with Fiddler's Cove to see if the plaza can be improved and filled with businesses.
       "I'm not going to say the economy has completely turned around in Bruce Township, but it's looking better," he said.
       Both officials said the developments would assist with the township's sewer debt, which as of December was just over $4.5 million. Utility rate increases were approved in October as part of solving the debt.
       Brockmann said Bruce is finishing up an inter-governmental agreement to provide water to Armada, but hopes the township will receive sewer as well.
       "We negotiated our Detroit Water and Sewerage rates based on potential usage from Armada," she said. "That is really kind of hurting our business plan by not having them hooked up."
       Cory said the township is paying for 25 percent of the costs of Romeo's wastewater treatment plant to use it, but expenses are continuing to rise. He said Romeo and Bruce representatives are hashing out the expenses associated with the wastewater treatment plant contract.
       Other infrastructure projects include working with the county and state to gain access to M-53 from 33 Mile Road, and paving 34 Mile Road from Campground to Fisher roads this year. The Board of Trustees approved of a 12-year loan of $569,620 from the state to pay for federal grant matches that will fund the paving.
       For electronic infrastructure, the township may see a local company's wireless Internet tower installed this year. In December, the Planning Commission agreed to hold a public hearing this month to change the tower ordinance to permit towers 175 to 200 feet tall through Special Land Use requests.
       The company, Solvaris, has appealed the Zoning Board of Appeal's decision to reject a 200-foot tower, but an ensuing court battle may fizzle if the ordinance is amended. Brockmann said the township would have to determine if it and Solvaris would settle out of court or have Solvaris apply for a Special Land Use.
       "We don't want to expend court costs if it's something the Planning Commission already feels like it can accomplish through an amendment to the ordinance," said Brockmann.
       A 175-foot tower is under construction on township land at 36 Mile and Hipp roads, but Solvaris can modify it to 200 feet if Solvaris chooses to do so.
       In addition, Cory said Solvaris is offering two Wi-Fi hotspots for the township to place, similar to how businesses like coffee shops provide Internet service.
       Budget talks for the 2014-15 year will begin this month. Brockmann said state shared revenue will likely remain at the same levels, but expects a slight increase from Macomb County on taxable values that will improve revenue.
       "I would anticipate this budget year being the easiest in the past six or seven because the property values are leveling out," she said.
       Enbridge Energy is expected to start replacing oil and petroleum pipeline this spring in the township, which will begin at Dequindre and stretch to Reid Road.


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