MEC seeking annexation into village of Cassopolis

CASSOPOLIS — The Cassopolis Village Council voted unanimously on a resolution to annex Midwest Energy and Communications back into the village Monday night.

Midwest Energy, formerly Fruit Belt Electric on M-60, moved out of the village in 2017 after building a new facility on Decatur Road in Penn Township. Construction began in 2016 and was completed in 2017.

According to Cassopolis Village Manager Emilie Sarratore, MEC came to the village seeking the annexation. By annexing into the village, Midwest Energy can obtain services such as sewer, water and other services.

“Part of the reason they did that is because they recognize utilities would be easier for them because the village has the wires through there, but we also offer a full-time police department and public works department,” Sarratore said. “Those are pretty big. In addition to that, because we have a lot of different things that would be attractive to potential businesses that come in.”

Sarratore said Cassopolis is recognized as a distressed community and a low-mod [low and moderate income] community, which factor in when the village applies for grants. The village is also re-developmentally certified now and has been declared an opportunity zone.

“The ability to attract people who want to be here and potentially get some pretty sizable amounts of grant dollars increased pretty significantly if they are in the village,” Sarratore said.

According to Sarratore, being part of the village would make things a bit simpler.

“Currently, part of their property was already in the village and part of it was in Penn Township. So, in two municipalities like that, now you have two zoning boards and two planning commissions. It makes it a little bit trickier. This is a really great opportunity for the village. I think it is great that Midwest recognizes what we have done and where we are going and would like to be in there. But in no way does it take away from Penn Township.”

Sarratore said that Midwest will continue to be in Penn Township and will continue to pay Penn Township taxes.

The village must now submit its resolution and request to the Cass County Board of Commissioners, who have the final say in whether or not the annexation can go through.

“They will set a public hearing,” Sarratore said. “Then, the county commissioners have the final say on this.”

Barring any issues, Sarratore expects that public hearing would be hosted in mid-July.