COUNTY CLERK CAROLINE WILSON addressed Owosso City Council on Monday, July 17. She contributed redesigned county directories to the council and commented on new election equipment. “The Board of Commissioners did approve the election equipment grant that was given to every county in the state, and Shiawassee County is ready for implementation for the November election if we have one,” she stated.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

Owosso City Council held a public hearing on Monday, July 17 in city chambers to discuss an ordinance amendment that will alter city code concerning alcohol consumption in public. The amendment is to establish that with the approval of city council, alcoholic beverages may be consumed on streets directly adjacent to properly licensed business establishments, as long as an occupancy permit has been provided by the city engineer. Likewise, beer and wine will be permitted, with city council approval, for not-for-profit organizations with the necessary licensing within very specific fenced-in areas. Perhaps the most significant change includes allowing wine and beer sampling at Curwood Castle Park and in similar public venues, again as long as the supplying winery or brewery has the proper licensing.

Over the past few years, questions have been raised about the consumption and sale of beer and wine in certain city areas such as at the Curwood Festival or within Curwood Castle Park because vendors sometimes want to have the opportunity to provide samples of their products. The liquor ordinance amendment has been designed to clarify related questions.

“I am totally against drinking in public at Curwood,” Owosso resident Paula Temple shared to those attending the meeting.

Mayor Chris Eveleth addressed her comment. “We wanted to kind of allow for everything we’ve already mostly been allowing,” he referenced the Curwood Festival. “This is pretty restrictive still. This is not permission for anybody to just bring a flask into a city park and drink. People have to be within the confines of state liquor control law, have to have a liquor license, have to have an organization.” The mayor expressed his belief that the change is “reasonable and necessary.”

The alcohol ordinance amendment was adopted by council.

Other citizen commentary included Owosso resident Don Stanley returning to address an ongoing issue over enormous water bills. Roger Snyder was at the meeting representing an area landlord with “16 or so rental properties,” questioning why renters are allowed to run up large water bills and then the landlord/property owner is found in violation. County clerk Caroline Wilson distributed new county directories to the council that she had diligently worked to update, and also explained her reasoning for going with Dominion Voting Systems which she had validated through 61 other Michigan counties. Wilson then shared that due to extremely stringent hiring restrictions within the county clerk’s office, placed on her by the county commissioners, she is down to two employees (herself and one other), and is now forced to reduce how many hours her office would be open to the public.

Under items of business, the Oak Hill Drainage Issue was once again brought to the forefront. The issue was recently discussed at the Monday, May 15 meeting, and a related article detailing the concerns of the cemetery board – since Oak Hill is not a city-owned property – was published in the Independent. Since that time, council member Burton Fox reached out to drain commissioner Tony Newman on the subject to see if an amicable agreement on fixing the flooding issue could be reached; possibly utilizing volunteers and donations.

To clarify, S. Washington Street is crossed by the Gute Drain that has an open ditch area just to the southwest of the cemetery chapel and in the vicinity of a mausoleum and cemetery plots. The open ditch area connecting the submerged drains, where water is relegated from Washington Street and Baker College, often becomes plugged with debris and causes a flooding problem.

Fox suggested installing a T-pipe at the south end with a cage to catch the build up/debris after the drain area is fully cleaned out. A second idea he had involved constructing a burm to “possibly make it work as a retention pond.”

Newman shared that the area might require a hydraulic study by an engineer.

City manager Don Crawford further detailed the area and also the Gute Drain that ultimately ends up somewhere down in the train yards. Crawford explained that the neighborhood just to the north of the cemetery was actually built on an old peat bog with some of the drain infrastructure dating to the late 1800s or early 1900s.

Owosso resident Charles Kremski, who owns property on S. Park Street, explained to the council that his two city lots do flood. He expressed concern that whatever was going to be done at Oak Hill, not further aggravate problems in his neighborhood.

It was decided further research is needed and Burton Fox agreed to continue gathering both information and possible donations.

The Owosso City Council meeting planned for Monday, July 31 was cancelled because it is the fifth Monday of the month.

Oak Hill Cemetery Drainage Issue and More at Owosso City Council was last modified: July 24th, 2017 by Karen Elford