THE FORMER BAKER-BENTLEY CENTER is shown from the north, directly across Oliver Street in Owosso from Central Elementary School. The rear of the structure that faces toward the Shiawassee River, has a considerable parking area. The property may be rezoned.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
Items of business at the Owosso City Council meeting in city chambers on Tuesday, Sept. 5 included the approval of a five-year pledge to the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership (SEDP) in the amount of $40,000 per year, along with the adoption of a professional services agreement with Robert V. Doran-Brockway for the Historic Facilities Project Director position. The Independent Contractor Agreement between the city of Owosso and Robert Doran-Brockway states that Doran-Brockway will be paid $23,400 yearly from the city’s general funds starting Friday, Sept. 1 for part-time services. Doran-Brockway will also receive $16,602 annually from the Owosso Historical Commission Funds.
A third item of business on Tuesday was about holding a public hearing over the possible rezoning of 621 W. Oliver Street (the former Baker-Bentley Center/YWCA building) from R-1 (single family residential) to OS-1 (office service district). Michael Cross, former owner of Say Computer in Caledonia Township and current owner of the new Retriever Software, Inc., expressed his interest in purchasing the Oliver Street property to house both Say Computer and Retriever Software, Inc. Cross shared that his plan is to be a “very good neighbor,” and he is cognizant of the homes, school, and traffic in the neighborhood. Also, the rear of the structure is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved. Cross stated he plans to use the rear as the primary entrance, and understands the ADA compliance concern.
SEDP President/CEO Justin Horvath supported Cross in his endeavor to move the businesses to the Oliver Street location. Justin explained to the council that the new Retriever Software, Inc. is becoming the second largest software company in Shiawassee County, following Covenant Eyes, Inc. on W. King Street, and the business will be a boon to the city.
The public hearing date established regarding the Oliver Street property is Monday, Oct. 2 for those wishing to have further questions answered by the council.
Citizen commentary included Paula Temple conceding that due to health issues, she will not be able to continue with her petition to eliminate the recent allowance of limited alcohol/beer in Curwood Castle Park.
Mike Waltz of N. Ball Street, also approached the council over nuisance cats in his neighborhood. He shared his frustration that the cats fostered by a resident as part of Community Cats of Owosso, have been allowed to free-roam and cause destruction to property. He was reassured by council member Lori Bailey (also the organizer of Community Cats of Owosso), the animals are now restrained in an enclosed structure. Bailey explained it is the goal of the group to reduce the number of cats through the “trap, neuter, release” program. Some cats/kittens are taken into temporary foster homes like the one on Ball Street, where they are socialized and placed up for adoption. Bailey stated that part of the Ball Street problem was possibly due to another neighbor that had moved out and abandoned her cats, which is illegal.
Randy Walter, who resides with his girlfriend on Mason Street, approached the council over his pet ducks. He purchased the ducks for his girlfriend after another pet had died to help her with grieving. He claimed the ducks are essentially therapy animals for his girlfriend, and he wants to keep them, though farm animals are prohibited under city ordinance. The topic of therapy animal guidelines was discussed amongst council members. City attorney William Brown was asked to develop legal framework regarding the issue.