Watervliet readies plan for redevelopment

WATERVLIET — Watervliet is moving closer to being certified a Redevelopment Ready Community (RRC).

City Manager Tyler Dotson told the City Commission on Tuesday night that Planning Commissioner Mallory Brown has been tasked with organizing and leading the city’s RRC efforts and has created a list of things that are needed for certification. 

“There are things we need to track and ordinance revisions we’re going to need to make,” Brown said.

The RCC certification is a multi-stage program run by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The voluntary program prompts communities to adopt and implement redevelopment strategies to become an easier place to live and do business.

Brown said some of the ordinance changes involve landscaping, non-motorized transportation, mixed-use zoning and commissioner expectations. Things that need to be tracked are attendance, training, site plan reviews, variances, capital improvement projects and success of outreach methods.

“We’ll need to look at some of the processes and procedures required,” she said. “We already do some of the things, but we’ll need to make some more formal ... like capital improvement planning and annual reports.”

Other things that need to be addressed include public participation, an updated website and marketing, Brown said. 

She said the biggest challenge is going to be defining success all the way through the certification process.

“We don’t really have anything that says what success is for us,” she said. “We have some abstract ideas, but you can’t really measure warm and fuzzy. I’m looking for numbers we can track. That is one of the things we’re all going to have to decide.” 

Dotson said the goal is not certification, but to develop a process to do the right kind of business in the city. 

“The processes and ordinances are to help with development and make sure we’re planning the community well,” he said. 

The city got its baseline study back over the summer and had met 33 percent of the best practice criteria and is working on another 33 percent.

Dotson said he plans to update the City Commission periodically about the RRC process. 

In other business, the City Commission approved updated shared services agreements with Watervliet Township. Dotson said he met with the township supervisor to clean up some of the language. All the agreements and costs stayed in place. 

Dotson said the city will perform smoke testing on the city’s sanitary sewer system Oct. 18 and 19. Workers will blow a non-toxic smoke into the system to reveal leaks, he said. 

Dotson said he has been trying to communicate with residents what they should do if the smoke enters their homes, and he said the city will have social media pages by the end of the week to communicate with residents about the testing.

The City Commission will hold a committee of the whole meeting Oct. 23 in which Wightman engineers and Umbaugh Group will further discuss the stormwater assest management plan and next steps with the water system. 

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman