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September, 2016

 

Warriors Roll Past Pirates On the Road

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Warriors Win 36-18

Week two of the high school football season found the Warriors of Grass Lake heading south to play the Pirates of Napoleon. The Warriors were looking to get another big win this week while the Pirates were looking to bounce back after a week one loss.

Grass Lake opened up the scoring just 8 minutes into the game when senior running back #44 Luke Coppernoll rumbled in from 5 yards out. Jeremiah Brandenburg punched in the 2-point conversion.

Less than a minute later the Pirates answered back with a 45-yard TD pass, the extra point failed. Not to be out done Grass Lake’s quarterback, Jonathan Lutchka connected with Jarred Henry for a 65 yard TD bomb making the score 14-6 at the end of the quarter.

The fireworks continued into the second as Lutchka connected with Haden Cockream for a 14-yard TD. Napoleon fired right back with a 62 yarder on the next set of downs, setting the score 22-12 going into the locker room at halftime.

After the halftime break the Pirates could not come up with a defensive answer on how to slow down the Grass Lake offense. Lutchka connected with Cockream for two more Warrior touchdowns of 8 yards and 33 yards. As the clock ticked to 0:00 Grass Lake was on top 36-18.

Lutchka closed out the night 16-22 for 244 yards, with no interceptions, no sacks and 4 TD passes.

Grass Lake senior running backs, Luke Coppernoll, Danny Vuocolo and Jeremiah Brandenburg combined for 193 yards.

The Warrior defense was spear headed by Zach Forman with 10 tackles, Nick Plensdorf and Brent Lockridge with 6 tackles. Scott Crutchfield and Dalton Diuble combined for three interceptions. The big men up front for the Warrior O line have not allowed a quarterback sack in two games on 52 passing attempts.

The Warriors will be at home for senior night on Friday the 9th hosting the Trojans of East Jackson. Come out and cheer on our boys of fall.   GO BLUE!!!!!


Golf carts. They’re Not Just For Old Duffers on the Links Anymore

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In April last year the Grass Lake Village Council authorized the use of Village residents to drive golf carts on certain Village streets at certain hours.

It began with a mandate from the state.  In 2014 Michigan lawmakers stuck their heads in the sand over solutions to the state’s dilapidated infrastructure then threw drivers a bone, allowing golf carts to be used in certain townships and villages.  Potholes are potholes.  We hit them in F250s, motorcycles, or bicycles, or skateboards.    

House Bill 5054 allows licensed drivers, 16 and older, to drive golf  carts on local streets where local officials allow it.  The legislation permits licensed drivers to drive their carts on local roads and streets where local jefes allow it.  The bill applies to cities, villages, and townships with 30,000 residents or fewer.  That includes the Village of Grass Lake.

Before me, I see the Village of Lady Lake (The Villages), an hour north of Orlando, Florida.  The Villages is one of the largest over 55 retirement communities in the country.  What once was a sleepy cow town surrounded by orange groves has grown into a municipality of more than 100,000 residents.  The place started out as a trailer park in 1969 as a refuge for Woodstock causalities and, as of the last census, has 27—count them!—golf courses.   

I worked there for a summer as a media consultant for the Villages Daily Sun, the newspaper of record.  The Villages are a cross between Disney World and Pedro’s South of the Border on I-95 in South Carolina.  Lots of schmaltz, not much substance.

It’s likely that former Grass Lakers migrated to the Land of the Broken Hip to escape the North Country, buried beneath heavy snows and leaden skies half of the year.  In the Villages everyone drives golf carts.  They hang on the back of their mean machines license plates from the states from which they fled—New York, Connecticut, South Dakota, and the Great Lakes State.

The golf cart revolution isn’t just happening here and in Florida; it’s a national movement.  Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, the entire Sun Belt, are states that allow LSEV (Low Speed Electrical Vehicles) on roads at top speed of 35 MPH.   

Golf cart communities are quite the subject of discussion in the blogosphere and chat rooms.  “We visited most of the active retirement communities in Florida before deciding on the Villages,” said one retiree who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  “We put 5,000 miles per year on our golf cart getting around town.”

Imagine here in the Village: Cart races up and down the strip.  Who needs the MIS?  Drag races around Big Wolf Lake would add pizzazz to holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Sure, Grass Lake is a farming community and horses are useful but you don’t need to follow after a LSEV with a shovel.  Affix your dream machine with a set of snow tires and a plow and never pay for snowplowing again.

No less than a local celebrity, aerial photographer Dale Fisher, owns his own “Cadillac” cart, a four-seater on which he trolls about his farm on Norvell Road.  Trustee Tom Brennan allows golf carts on his Apple Creek Campground but exacts tight standards.  “We let people bring their golf carts if they have insurance. We also have a lengthy contract to sign and only a few people can be drivers.”    

In April Michigan State Police investigated stolen golf cart complaints in Hillsdale County.  Cart Jackers.  They recovered the cart in a field, stripped of its stereo system, On Star, and tires held up on cinderblocks.

What would a government mandate be without restrictions to take away the fun? The terms mandated by the legislature apply to the Village of Grass Lake.

Drivers must be at least 16 and possess a valid Michigan driver’s license.

The carts are only to be driven in the Village and are prohibited from driving along Michigan Avenue in the Village.

LSEVs can’t be driven on the sidewalks or on pedestrian trails, such as the park trails on Willis Road.

Vehicles cannot be driven one half hour prior to sunrise or one half hour after sunset.

(So much for a moonlight drive by the lake or lover’s lane.)

Drivers must register their name, driver’s license number, address and telephone to the Village Clerk.

As of this writing four carts and eight drivers have registered with the Village Clerk.

With the passage of HB 5045 lawyers scented blood in the water.

Sure, carts are fun to ride around in but are they meant to be driven on village avenues? is the rhetorical question posed by the legal community.

Legal beagles envision tight restrictions on the use of operation of golf carts.  Vehicle inspections ensure each vehicle possess headlights, high-beam, headlights, tail lights, break lights, turn signals, a windshield with wiper blades, bumpers, seat belts, a rearview mirror, and a horn.  What?  No airbag.  Why not just purchase the Cadillac you always wanted and drive though the Village with style and status?

This story does have a happy ending.  Steve Vorves and his wife Ann have a golf cart for tooling around the village on oft evenings.  “Every couple of weeks,” Steve said.  “We use it to drive around, to the Whistlestop Park, Frank’s shop, or Wednesday night music or the farmer’s market.  I’m glad we’re able to do that. We don’t drive at night.  We’ve even taken it camping with us on a trailer.”


Dollar General Site Plan Approved by Planning Commission

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The Village of Grass Lake Planning Commission unanimously approved the Dollar General site plan proposed for N Union Street, with 3 contingencies (or conditions) on Thursday night.

Andrew Rossell, Project Manager/Senior Civil Engineer at AR Engineering of Kalamazoo walked the planning commission and public through the Dollar General site plan and answered questions for close to an hour on Thursday. Rossell is also the engineer for the Federated Church of Grass Lake project on Michigan Ave. Rossell, along with father and son developers Greg and Peter Oleszczuk Midwest Property Development (Spring Lake, MI) previously appeared before the planning commission in January asking for a rezoning for a property next to Buddy’s Minimart along East Michigan Ave. That request was denied.

After the rezoning denial in January, Midwest immediately began looking for other Grass Lake properties zoned commercial according to Midwest Property Development Vice President Peter Oleszczuk. Midwest Property Development will own the building and lease it to Dollar General, who will operate the store. Oleszczuk said they “typically own 30-40 stores” that are leased to Dollar General. “We’ve owned stores for 10 years. They do really well in communities like Grass Lake”. Greg Oleszczuk, President of Midwest Property Development said “We’ve been developing for Dollar General since 2002. We are in it for the long term. The leases with Dollar General are typically 15 years.”

In attendance at Thursday’s meeting was Planning Commissioner members Rich Rabeler, Susan Cobb-Starrett, Star Mead, and Steve Moyer Village Manager and acting Zoning Administrator Tom Nolte. Paul Lammers of the Village VPW, Rick Deland of Jackson County Sheriff’s Dept. and 6 members of the public including Sam Choucair, Owner of Buddy’s Mini Mart, Jacqui Bogdanski, who lives two houses from the proposed Dollar General, Joel Grimm, who is running for Village Trustee, Janet Lape, Anne and Ken Falk also attended the meeting.

Joel Grimm and Jacqui Bogdanski voiced concerns about the building being built on lowlands and in the wetlands. Bogdanski said “There were times Mr. Loveland had trouble with his tractor” in that area. She also asked about “Salt leaching into the storm drains and then to the wetlands. What’s going to be leaching into the wetlands?” Grimm asked how much fill would be needed “where it gets really wet”. Rossell answered that “Wetland Scientists from Lakeshore Environmental had done studies and worked with them to get their application with the DNR. They expect the application to be approved as it is permitted 1/3 of an acre.” Drainage basins will control the release into the wetlands as permitted. “The property will be filled between 1 ft in the front to 3 ft in the back as needed to control drainage into the basins”.

Sam Choucair voiced concerns about safety and traffic. He asked if the Village had done any traffic studies “looked at sites, Traffic studies, adjacent drives and adjacent developments” He was particularly concerned that the Dollar General driveway would be very close to his existing driveway, “leading to lots of accidents” Tom Nolte answered that “There had been no traffic studies within the past 15 years, maybe more.” Choucair “worried that you have chosen the wrong place” by “squeezing this building into such a small space.” Bogdanski echoed those concerns “I have lived in this location for close to 20 years. Traffic has increased quite a bit. This particular area is very busy in the mornings, especially with the busses and the school.” Peter Oleszczuk said they “can pass that information along to Dollar General. Deliveries generally occur in the morning or the evenings, maybe Dollar General can use evenings.”

Rossell continued with his presentation. “This doesn’t look like your typical Dollar General. We have worked with the Village to meet the zoning requirements of the Form Based District. Lights will be downward facing, with nothing projecting past the property lines. All the lights will be attached to the building, there will be no lights attached to light poles. The interior and most exterior lights, including the signage will be turned off at closing. The stores are generally open from 9-9. Signage was not part of the site plan, that falls under the Village’s Sign Ordinance. According to Peter Oleszczuk, “Dollar General handles the signs themselves”. There will be both a landscaped berm and a 6′ fence to separate the property from the residence to the north.

The building will have a bricked front facade. The sides will have a 4′ brick knee wall with vertical Board and Batten siding, Montana Suede colored. “Its designed to be ascetically appealing” said Rossell. They added bicycle racks and a “parking screen” between the parking lot and the road. In accordance with the Village ordinance, they will plant 1 canopy per 10 parking spaces. The canopy trees can be planted around the property. The sides of the building will have spandrel glass windows in dark bronze aluminum frames to break up the side of the building. According to architectural dictionary, spandrel glass is an architectural material used to cover construction materials, disguise things like arches and columns, and present a finished, seamless, and sleek exterior to buildings.

When asked by Star Mead about their timeline, Peter Oleszczuk answered “we anticipate breaking ground in late winter/early spring with an opening 90 days after start”.

The meeting lasted over 2 hours. The planning commission approved the site plan contingent on 3 conditions. 1) Submission of an approved Department of Environmental Quality wetlands plan. 2) An additional tree to meet the required number of canopy trees and 3) easement for the berm from the adjacent property to the north. Star Mead also requested updated plans to reflect a brick enclosure for the dumpster which was presented, however not on the final plans submitted.

Grimm, Lape and Bogdanski talked outside the Village Offices after the meeting. “I knew it would pass. I thought there woud be more people here” said Lape. Grimm and Bogdanski echoed the sentiment. “There were so many people online complaining and protesting its coming to Grass Lake”. Grimm and Bogdanski said they “would miss seeing the deer, fox, swans and other animals that currently gather in that area.”

Planning Commission Chairman Rich Rabeler explained that the Planning Commission has no choice but to approve a site plan if it meets the local zoning requirements. Star Mead added “I think there was 1 person present (from the public) when we approved the Master Plan several years ago”. “The Form Based District worked as designed” said Tom Nolte. “This Dollar General doesn’t look like any other. It is much nicer and aesthetically pleasing.”

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Out and About in Grass Lake

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A massive old tree caused significant damage to Joel Grimm’s 1998 Aliner camper and 1999 Saturn on Monday night along E Michigan Ave. From the street, the damage didn’t look so bad, however up close you could see the heavy damage. The trunk measured close to 10ft in diamater.   Grimm said there was some damage to the garage as well. He said “they didn’t hear anything during the night, not even the dogs were barking. Just woke up this morning and looked outside and I knew we were in trouble.”

I informed Grimm, who is running for the Village Trustee position in November, there was better ways to get coverage of his election campaign.

Grimm and his wife had recently completed the restoration of the classic Aliner camper.

New signage was installed at the soon-to-be Michigan Military Heritage Museum along N. Union St. on Tuesday.

Simon Building Company is “working on the punch list” of items for completion according to Aaron Simon. They hope to turn the building over to the Museum by Friday, The museum is an extension of the Grass Lake Historical Connections who also operate the Coe House Museum.

Scott Gerych is “excited to get things on display”. The museum is scheduled for a community preview  event on November 4th.

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Former Cedar Knoll Property Up For Sale by Township

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Grass Lake Charter Township contracted with Ben Latocki of Production Realty to sell the former Cedar Knoll Retirement Facility property in Grass Lake.

The 9.7 acres of commercial property located at 9230 Cedar Knoll Dr, is being listed at $250,000 according to Latocki. There are not a lot of comparable properties that have sold. The I-94 high visibility property is ideal for small commercial or industrial businesses.

The Township acquired the property from Jackson County in January after it failed to sell at auction after the County foreclosed on the property. The property was an eyesore and frequently vandalized during its time in bankruptcy court and the foreclosure process.

The Township contracted with Smalley Construction in January to clean-up the property. That included asbestos abatement, razing buildings, removing foundations and returning the property to a natural grade. The Township spent approximately $175,000 on demolition costs, surveys and legal fees over the years on the property.

“The hope is to get the property sold quickly to a good business that meets the needs of Grass Lake” said Township Supervisor Jim Stormont. “We want to get it back on the tax rolls as quickly as possible.”

Ben Latocki is excited to sell the property. “I want to get a great business in Grass Lake.”

Latocki plans on donating 2% of his commission to the Grass Lake Sports & Trails Park.

Production Realty Listing


Proposed Dollar General Site Plan Up for Review at Village Planning Commission

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The proposed Dollar General general store is likely slated for review during the September 8th Village of Grass Lake Planning Commission Meeting. The Meeting is usually held at the Village of Grass Lake Offices at 119 North Lake Street. The meetings are generally at 7:00 pm, however the official meeting, time and location had not yet been posted nor has the actual agenda been finalized.

The original site plans were returned with a list of deficiencies that needed to be addressed. Deficincies are items that do not meet zoning or building requirements, or missing documentation.

According to Tom Nolte, Village Manager for the Village of Grass Lake, Dollar General has submitted updated site plans for the proposed store on North Union Street. The updated site plan includes elevation drawings (renderings of the front, back and sides of the proposed building), recommendations from the County Drain Commissioner for soil  erosion, sediment control, detention basin requirements,   and a land division application for the property.

The next step will be for the Planning Commission to review the complete site plan to identify any issues where the site plan conflicts with current zoning requirements.

The keyed notes indicate a Bella Brick, concrete brick masonry, color selected by Owner. A standing seam metal roof, galvalume finish, color selection by owner.  A 6‘ treated wood fence amongst other features. The complete notes along with previous stories regarding the proposed Dollar General are available online at:

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