Dowagiac City Council plans for Redevelopment Ready Communities certification

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac City Council is putting together another plan to help the community become more efficient.

The council passed two resolutions related to a Redevelopment Ready Communities certification Monday at Dowagiac City Hall.

The RRC program is a voluntary, no-cost certification program designed to promote effective redevelopment strategies through a set of practices. The program measures and certifies communities that integrate transparency, predictability and efficiency into their daily development practices.

The council passed a resolution authorizing the staff to continue working towards RRC certification as well as a resolution authorizing a Community Engagement Statement that meets the criteria of the RRC. The RRC certification is a formal recognition that the community in question has both a vision for the future and a plan in place to get there.

“This is something we’ve been working on for the past year,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “A week or two ago, the state said there are some things it needed additional information on and said that before we go any further, they wanted to hear from the council to see if we wanted to continue.”

Before hearing back from the state, the city council had a public hearing regarding RRC that the Cass County Planning Commission reviewed a week ago.

“The commission agreed with our Community Engagement Statement and recommended that the council adopt it,” Anderson said. “We were already working on a number of things on the list, so it’s kind of interesting that both resolutions were on the agenda on the same night.”

Anderson said that RRC certification would get the city into the loop with a number of state agencies that can keep the city eligible for grant programs.

The council also had the first reading of an ordinance to amend the June 2005 Zoning Code, Chapter 6, Section 6.2 and Chapter 17, section 17.1. The goal of the ordinance change is to make some modifications to the city’s side yard setbacks in the residential zoning district. A side yard setback prevents houses from getting too close to each other, and tend to be 5 or 10 feet from each side of the property line in older lots.

“Our current ordinance says that there has to be a sum total of sideyard setbacks of 20 feet, of which there has to be 6 feet on one side,” Anderson said. “That’s an unusual number. This modification calls for 15 feet total, with five on one side. That allows us to have a single floor house or a house with a bedroom on the first floor and have a garage attached to it and still be able to fit it on a traditional-sized lot. That’s more in line with what you see in communities with smaller lot sizes. Doing this allows people to build houses that you’d see in today’s marketplace on our lots.”

 

In other business:

  • The council passed a resolution authorizing a Foreclosed Property Acquisition of 504 E. Telegraph Street from Cass County for the purpose of eliminating blight.

“We’re dealing with a property that has had a lot of longterm blight issues,” Anderson said. “It’s been a property for years and years that has accumulated trash. This property is up for back-taxes.”

With this action, the city will buy the property, which will allow it the ability to keep the blight cleaned up.

  • The council passed a resolution rescinding assessments for 416 E. Telegraph Street. The current owner bought the property from the Cass County Auction, so the special assessments are no longer eligible for assessment.

“Each year the Building Department and Customer Service Department reviews the list of bills that have not been paid and Council places a special assessment for those unpaid bills on the property for collection with property taxes,” Anderson said in a memo to the council. “The City cannot place an assessment on properties owned by the County that are in the process of tax reversion. Occasionally, due to the timing of notifications, a special assessment inadvertently gets placed on a county owned property and a correction of the special assessment is required.”

 

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