Ludington City Council Meeting January 25, 2016: Barrels and Quarrels

On a mild January night in Ludington, the discussions in their city council chambers was anything but mild.  The sauciness was primarily caused by discussions on the proposed rezoning of a property at 916 N Washington from a single family residence on eight acres to being prepped for up to 80 apartments in five 16 unit buildings. 

Directly to the north of the property is private Catholic school grounds, to the south are some heavy industrial parcels including an existing apartment complex, the Great Lakes Casting foundry and a bottling company, to the east is the pristine neighborhood of Forest Hills.  None of these factions seem enthused about having the new addition as these meetings indicate.

The developer Mitch Bogner showed a bit of emotion when he stood up at this meeting where he admittedly hadn't planned to speak.  Choking back tears he defended his tenants and his future-tenants-to-be (at 11:45 into the meeting):  "I'm so fed up with hearing about these safety issues, and comments that have been made on social media about criminals living at (his other complex next door)... the criminals are in jail."

His outburst and near cloudburst followed Joanne Kalchik, a resident of Forest Hills, who brought up her three young daughters to the podium and passionately spoke over several topics including fence installations and safety issues, she started at the 6:00 mark, following the first speaker from Consumer's Energy who informed the council that smart meters were coming soon to Ludington in an energetic presentation (more on this in a later article).

Diane Smith was next (after Bogner), and asked quite a few questions about the rezoning, that were never really addressed by anyone later, urging further research into the proposal while apparently advocating against the rezoning. 

Chris Bousson (18:00 in) brought up primarily traffic issues and took issue with a William and Works survey.  He was correct, W&W totally botched the survey (see page 142 and see if you agree)

Tom Bogner, son of Mitch who works at neighboring Pineview Apartments took an informal survey of traffic entering and leaving his complex and noting it was greatly below the expected result.  Few could really say this was an independent study of conditions, particularly since the date his count may have taken place would have been in the midst of a January snowstorm.

Don Zwiefka (23:40) admitted to a mathematical error in his ratio of owner occupied and rental housing at the previous meeting.

Mike Mesyar was next and noted the responses and the council's patience, and that even with the supposed high demand, nobody has came up at any of these meetings saying they would be in these rental units.

Rich Dallinger stated that nobody had come forth advocating why this was good for Forest Hills.

Then I came up at 29:30 in commenting not only on this topic but two other relevant topics.  This is transcribed in full underneath the video.  Most notably on this topic I revealed that there had been half-buried barrels on the lot, a fact Councilor Winczewski also noted in her prepared statement.  I urged patience on the issue until the degree of contamination could be figured out by an independent source (preferably not by Tom Bogner).  I once again brought up the extent of the contamination at the PM Bayou, but once again it was avoided totally.

Heidi Walden then touched on how this project went against the city's master plan and zoning objectives (35:00), giving a forensic clinic on how to use the city's own rules to debunk their points and insinuate that the spot zoning was highly unethical; maybe she has been watching Ludington TV over the last few years and learning from that guy who does the same thing on a regular basis.  Well played, Heidi.

Jessica Bennett went next and shortly and sweetly seconded everything her neighbors said.

Becky Vaara (at 40:45) did another knockout performance in representing more material in the same vein as Bousson and Walden regarding zoning, traffic, and the deficiencies of W&W's report.  She used the word to describe the deal as being shady, as City Manager John Shay-dy bristled.

Curt Vanderwall snuck in to introduce himself, without noting that he was a declared candidate for Ray Franz's seat.   He probably hadn't figured that the meeting would be so contentious. 

Mariellen Sagan clarified the safety issue was not about the character of those moving into the apartment complex.

Rob Killips, the CEO of Great Lakes Casting spoke next at 47:45 in.  He provided extra gravitas for the anti-rezoning effort and some words for the councilor who discounted the foundry's position on the issue. 

Edith Dallinger went next and explained why Killips' impassioned rhetoric was important to listen to, and what an impact it would be if they left the area.

Megan Greene of the Planning Commission went next speaking for herself and related a few anecdotes about her experiences speaking favorably of the rezoning (surprise).  She strongly put forth that there was a rental housing shortage in the city, but how has the Ludington Planning Commission reacted to that fact.  By putting together and advocating a rental inspection ordinance that will make the problem grow exponentially worse.  This ended the public comment.

Following this a public hearing was held for the 2016 Recreation plan, where none of the audience participated, nor was there any comments from the officials.  They then approved the schedule of events for the downtown as made by the Downtown Ludington Board (DDA).

They then amended the Brownfield Plan for the old Paulina Stearn's Hospital on South Washington overlooking Copeyon Park.  The relevant documents seem to indicate nothing odd taking place, check for yourself (starting at page 93)

Less kosher was the approval of the sidewalk contractor Spuller Concrete, to do sidewalks in the city.  Since Kevin Spuller got the contract many years ago, there has not been real competitive bidding for this.  Spuller himself has recently been sued by a former friend who had allegedly brought him home from the bar when he was too blotto to drive.  When Spuller woke up the next morning he reportedly sucker punched his friend, doing sever damage to his back and endangering the baby they had in their hands when they were struck. 

Chairman Winczewski then went to explaining the rezoning issue, and the short story was that they were going to push it back to the Planning Commission.  Councilor Krauch indicated that the new rezoning was for the best, showing again that all those Fourth Ward voters who voted for him were idiots.  Krauch was appointed Fourth Ward Commissioner and has never had one single vote cast for him by a Fourth Warder.  Councilor Castonia felt sorry for Mr. Bogner for hearing the dissent, expressing no such feelings for the aggrieved citizens stating factual data, and the zero people that were attacking Mr. Bogner or his character, unlike Mr. Castonia did to the residents of Forest Hills.


The last part of the regular meeting dealt with the ballot language for the four proposed charter amendments.  This will also be dealt with in a future article, as I intimated in my speech.  They then unanimously accepted a passport grant for improvements to the Jaycee's Mini-Golf course at the beach, before finally discussing the possibility of having public comments at the end of the meeting (1:46:45 in). 

This discussion was interesting and something I have advocated for at least twice before in my public comments, without any kind of interest by the councilors.  Councilor Krauch wants to have three minutes of comment at the beginning concerning agenda items and two minutes at the end for discussion of anything.  Holman, perhaps figuring she was going to be able to still speak out when she is term limited out after this year, wanted a 5/2 minute arrangement.  They decided to take it up at the committee level and bring a proposal back after taking a while talking it over.

The meeting was finally adjourned mercifully after two hours.  You will note that I perfectly timed my speech this day, and that I brought a friend to the meeting, who you may recognize from when I served six councilors and Mayor Henderson with an Open Meetings Act lawsuit.  A couple of the officials were looking rather nervous, but she came there only for the entertainment value and to hear my comments. 

January 25, 2016 Ludington City Council from Mason County District Library on Vimeo.

XLFD:  "Let me start off by commending Councilor Krauch for having the council consider having an extra public comment period at the end of city council meetings the same as our local townships and county boards offer at their meetings.  All too often have I had to sit at these meetings patiently and let the city manager distort the facts, the city attorney distort the law, and other officials distort mine and other people's character during the regular part of the meeting.   I definitely would have to start taking notes.

If this reform is passed, citizens will be able to let the council know what they think of their decisions, and there will be more of a dialog between us and you.  In fact, I would encourage the council to interact with the public during this period and allow reasonable discourse over matters of public policy.

I have yet to weigh in at these meetings about the matter of rezoning 916 North Washington, primarily since I haven't had a definite opinion either way; nor should my opinion matter much because I live clear across town.  But it has come to my attention that half-buried barrels have been discovered in the acreage of this property and that nearby locations were definite dumping sites back in earlier Ludington times. 

Being that we have had a lot of industrial development utilizing and producing various hazardous chemicals in the past, these barrels, and other barrels buried deeper, could have housed some serious toxic chemicals that have infused themselves into the soil where the bottom level of these proposed houses will immerse themselves in.  The same soil where the kids of up to 80 families will get on their hands and faces while they play outside. 

Can we not postpone any decision on this development until we have an independent analysis of this soil and the dangers it may pose to the neighborhood if we have the excavations needed take place and deep toxins come to the surface and affect the health of the contractors and eventually the people who would live there?  Can we not duplicate the utter negligence involved with the demolition of the old Lyon's store on James Street, where the dust from the demolition of the store and its contingent of asbestos tiles prevalent throughout was released in my neighborhood.

Furthermore, can we get an official statement from the city regarding the steps it plans on taking in remedying the contamination at the PM Lake Bayou?  They have had the report since September, I brought up some of the contamination facts and figures at the last meeting from the DEQ report, why do you consider four meaningless city charter proposals more important than the public's health. 

Here's a full list of inorganic pollutants found at above reportable levels in the sediment below the bayou: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead , mercury, selenium, silver, zinc-- basically each one they test for. At highly elevated levels-- zinc in one sample was 440 times the reportable levels, as noted at last meeting, Lead was elevated up to 330 times reportable levels and found all along the bayou.  It would be foolish to think it was limited only to the bayou.

Organic pollutants fell primarily in the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon class: pyrene, fluoranthene, phenanthrene, chrysene, benzanthracene, naphthalene, isophorone, hexachloroethane, fluorene, anthracene, acenapthylene, acenaphthene, benzofluoranthene, three different ethers, and a few others more hard to pronounce. It also includes two PCB's Aroclor 1016 and Aroclor 1260. 

Please keep the public informed and educated on the city's actions and negotiations with the state for mitigating this lethal chemical cocktail in the middle of our city.

Lastly, I don't have the time in this meeting to fully critique the proposed charter amendments and their form for how they are to appear on the ballot.  There are numerous problems within them, however, and I will develop those on my website if they are not caught by your vigilance at this meeting.  Regardless, understand that I hope these do all get on the ballot so when they suffer defeat they can illustrate how out of touch our officials are with the public they supposedly serve.  Thank you."

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What is interesting Mr. Bogner supposedly is not purchasing this property depending on the findings of the contamination in the barrels and the extent of this contamination.  

So, why is this not being addressed prior to the City of Ludington going through with all this bullshit of re-zoning the property?  Are there any identifiable markings on these barrels in order to hold those accountable for dumping these barrels on private property?

The COL IMHO is putting "the cart before the horse."  

The Guinness Record for ice-cream???  Seriously this has to be the funniest thing I have read all day.  Who dreams this stuff up?  This is about as funny as the guy who crashed his vehicle and killed himself while driving naked watching PORN on his cell-phone.  Porno guy did not have his seat belt on.  Maybe this guy also deserves to be in the Guinness of World Records for his absolute stupidity.  This happened in the Detroit area. 

Furthermore, why has not someone or anyone addressed these barrels from the COL?  These barrels possibly could hold chemicals considered a health hazard.  Why has this not been addressed by the City?  A potential buyer of this property has the right to know what these barrels  contain, and who is responsible for dumping them on this property.  It should not be Mr. Bogner's job to hire anybody.  It is the current landowner's problem to have these barrel's and the possibility of other's buried beneath the surface to be examined for potential of environmental hazards, and health hazards.  If the current owner of this property failed to disclose these barrels of whatever... this property owner should be held accountable to the potential buyer.

This is no different than a homeowner selling their home to a potential buyer when the homeowner is aware for an example the basement floods ever spring and fall.  There are repercussions in place for failure to disclose. 

It is the COL's responsibility to contact whomever for analysis as this has the potential for detrimental affects on the citizen's of Ludington, due to possible health concerns to residents, school children, etc...

This is rather appalling that these issues of the content of these barrels have not been addressed along with accountability by the fine and wonderful COL!!!  Why is it?  Rather the COL is more concerned with changing the zoning!!!  Rather quite disturbing.

It is rather disturbing that all of those people who addressed the COL at the Meeting did not question or address the potential for health hazard's.  C,mon people of Mono Drive, Forest Hills are living not only in the neighborhood of the Foundry, and all the contaminants they spew from their stacks, but now all of you are living in the neighborhood of barrels filled with who knows what in your hood.  Are you not concerned???  Speak up! 


Fine article X. Good points Jasper

This city of Ludington is starting to sound like the City Of Montague just south of here, the C56 capital of the world, not in anyway a good thing to be know for . A city best know for being on the SuperFund list for being one of the most contaminated areas in the United States. If anyone remembers, Hooker Chemical dumped chemical waste c-56 in barrels out back of their factory polluting the property and ground water for miles around.


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