Council OKs wetland swap

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By Megan Cochrane
The Williamston Post

Williamston City Council voted 6-1 Monday to support a wetland transfer that would clear the way for the Community Center sale.

City Manager Alan Dolley said the city’s next step would be for the city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority to work for a plan amendment. Monday’s vote included an agreement to pay for the amendment and attorney fees.

Various taxing jurisdictions, such as the library and schools, will all be informed that there will be a public hearing on the plan amendment. Concerns from the hearing will go before the City Council.

If approved, the land transfer would allow the outdated community center to be sold to local businessman Timothy Baise. The center’s land is in a DNR trust, which prevents the sale to private developers. The center’s land would be exchanged for 17.3 acres of wetlands that are in an industrial park. That land is not suitable for the development that had been planned there, Dolley said.

The Tax Increment Finance Authority’s purpose in the community is to “encourage economic development and activity, and neighborhood revitalization,” according to the city’s website. The authority develops long-range plans to halt declining property values and promote development and growth. That can include construction, renovation, repair or preservation of public facilities or individual properties.

“We want the city’s best interest at heart, always,” said authority Chair Pete Porciello. He said the swap would be in Williamston’s best interests.

Dolley said the City Council has worked out a 10-year lease with Baise, which would allow the library, senior center and food bank to retain their spaces when the deal goes through. There will be an option to renew at the end of the initial lease.

“We’re hoping that the conditions can improve… the overall comfort of our patrons,” said Micki Magee, a library assistant at the Williamston Library.

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