The Mason City Council discussed ways to reduce new businesses on Cedar Street to one driveway while maintaining traffic efficiency at their 7:30 p.m., Monday, January 21 meeting.
Martin Colburn, the city administrator, informed council members of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s plans to reduce the number of ingresses and egresses to prevent accidents.
On Wednesday, January 16, the Planning Commission approved a special use permit for a final site location for the new Biggby’s coffee shop, which is located at 661 N. Cedar St. but not yet open for business. “It looks like a tremendous plan,” said Naeyaert. The building is currently used as a location for the Mason State Bank, which will be moving to a new location, so the parking lot is designed for customers to enter at one location, park or circle around to the drive-thru and exit at a different location.
However, the plan MDOT designed for Cedar Street has the entrance and exit for Biggby’s combined, not separate. “The reality is, we’re going to try to find out how strict this policy is,” said Colburn. “I can see them asking to reduce the size, but having only one driveway, that doesn’t make any sense at all,” said council member Leslie Bruno Jr.
While the city of Mason will have to incur the cost of possibly removing one of these driveways, that doesn’t seem to be the main concern. “If you’ve got a situation where people come in one way and go out the other, forget the cost, it’s going to be hard to manage,” said council member Russell Whipple.
MDOT’s standard operating procedures does not include the limited driveway approach for select areas as a requirement, but they are thinking about adding it in the future, according to Colburn. “I support MDOT’s reasoning,” he said. However, he and the other council members agree that there are situations in which a separate entrance and exit are more logical. The decision concerning Biggby’s driveway remains to be made, but the City Council has been discussing other options with MDOT and will continue to do so until it is resolved. “It seems like we’ll have a good chance of at least being heard,” said Naeyaert.
In other business, a scheduling conflict for the annual budget workshop caused a small dispute among council members. During a previous meeting, the members had discussed tentative dates for the workshop, planned to take place on April 9 and 10. However, at this meeting, council member Whipple pointed out that he could not make one of these dates.
In response to his concern, Kathy Revels, the finance director, reminded him that last year they completed the budget workshop in one night, but that they planned for two just in case. “The ninth is no good for me,” he said. The members agreed to meet on April 10 instead, but Mayor Leon Clark said he would be unable to attend that day.
After a few moments of silence, Colburn moved to resolve the situation by saying that since there wasn’t a day that would work for everyone, they would leave it as planned. “I just though that in the past we tried to pick a day that everyone could be there because it’s so important,” said Whipple. “But whatever you want to do,” he added. Naeyaert then brought up the fact that these dates had already been agreed upon, and he is the one who changed his schedule. However, Whipple said he misunderstood the exactness of the dates and thought they were only tentative and would be decided upon at a later date.
Later, after some mediation among council members and some quick fact-checking, they successfully scheduled the workshop for April 8, and they will meet again on April 10 if necessary.
In addition to this, Phil Birdsall, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, spoke briefly to inform residents where they could find flyers with information about the project and to request approval for a grant application.
Elaine Ferris spoke in favor of applying for the downtown planning grant during the public comment segment of the meeting. “They have some really great things planned for downtown. I encourage everybody to pick up a flyer in the lobby (of City Hall) or go to one of the meetings to find out more,” she said in an interview after the meeting.
Other issues discussed at the meeting include a severe budget decrease for the drug task force, which will reduce funds by two-thirds, an announcement of the Boy Scouts troop 763 who attended the meeting to meet requirements to earn their citizenship merit badge, acceptance of a grant to allow sidewalk easement at the Riverwalk Meadows subdivision, the monthly revenue and expenditure report and the primary election turnout; approximately 19 percent of registered voters showed up.