Niles acquires downtown property for future development

Published 3:11 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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NILES — The Niles City Council made a move Monday it believes will lead to future development in the heart of downtown Niles.

The council approved a property exchange agreement between Indiana Michigan Power and the City of Niles during Monday’s meeting at the Niles Fire Department.

According to City Administrator Ric Huff, the motion was a deal seven years in the making. The City of Niles reached a tentative agreement with IM Power in 2016 for the exchange of property located at 527 N. Front Street for an easement on property owned by the City of Niles in Howard Township. The easement was granted by the City of Niles in 2016. However, the Front Street property transfer did not occur due to environmental remediation activities and was further delayed by agreement negotiations and personnel changes at IM Power. 

Huff said the purpose of acquiring the property is to control the condition of the property and promote quality economic development on the Front Street corridor. The city believes it is desirable for this property to be sold in the future as part of a larger development in this block.

Due to the past environmental history of this property, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment along with a Baseline Environmental Site Assessment and a Due Care Plan must be completed and filed with the State of Michigan to protect the City from any environmental claims due to the property’s past uses. Those are estimated to cost $4,725 and will be charged to the Council’s purchase of property account.

The Contract for the Exchange of Real Estate Interest and Special Warranty Deed have been agreed upon and reviewed by the City’s legal counsel.

In other business, council approved the scheduling of a public hearing for Monday, July 24 to hear public comment on the proposed Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan.

Per Housing and Urban Development CDBG Regulation, the City of Niles must solicit and receive input on the Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan. In the case of an Annual Action Plan, the City must publish a public notice in a local newspaper with general circulation describing the project and the amount to be spent and establishing a public comment period as regulated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The published public notice will set the date for public hearings, which according to Federal guidance must be held at least 14 days prior to the City Council meeting at which the proposed 2023 CDBG Annual Action Plan will be slated for adoption. The notice will include a summary of the proposed plans and list the web address where the Annual Action Plan may be examined.

Council also moved to vote in favor of the Michigan Municipal League’s recommended slate of six trustees. The city is a member of the MML, which oversees the Workers’ Compensation Fund. MML holds an annual election for the Board of Trustees and the City of Niles can cast a ballot. This year, there is a slate of six candidates, with three seeking re-election and three seeking first-time terms.