Swanton Village Council voted March 9 to table an ordinance creating an economic development commission. Mayor Neil Toeppe has proposed the commission, and spoke in favor of it at the meeting.
“Sensible, sustainable, and strategic growth will not just happen,” said Toeppe. “We need to develop a plan that will attract and retain both residents and businesses. An Economic Development Commission or Committee or Board, whatever you want to call it, comprised of volunteer, non-paid business leaders and residents with valuable expertise, will be a valuable asset in helping plan for that growth.”
Three area businesses owners – Julia Benfield, Paul Wise, and Janet Ritter – also spoke in favor of a new commission at the meeting.
“Their [commission members] expertise in business growth and retention could be priceless,” said Benfield. She also presented a letter in favor of the commission to Council signed by 19 members of the local small business organization.
“The future of our downtown district may depend on the support from you, our local elected officials,” Ritter told Council. “I feel we need to reassure our entrepreneurs that Swanton has their back and will do what it can to help with their success.”
She added that existing business benefit from the Chamber of Commerce but the village needs new companies. “I believe this commission will be an asset for stimulating just that.”
Councilman Craig Rose said more information was needed before a vote could be held.
“Since we’re out in the open, there’s some legal issues we have to go through to make sure this is even going to work out,” said Rose. “It’s just not a clear cut-and-dry situation. It’s something we want to look into, but just sitting here right now we do not have all the information that we need. I understand your desires. I want us all to do well. But that being said, we need to have all the information before us. We don’t.”
Council voted 4-2 to table a vote on the commission until more information is available.
”I’ve always been pro business,” said Rose, who owned Rose Photography downtown for many years. “That’s not what I want to do, is hinder any business. But we have a couple things I think we need to clear up.”
• Council approved assessments for leaf collection and street lighting. The leaf collection charge decreased $3.50 and the street lighting charge increase $3, for a net decrease of 50 cents per property.
• Council approved the 2020 permanent appropriations.
• Wise was appointed to the Tree Commission.
• Council approved several resolutions authorizing the submission of applications for grants for the fire department and police.
• Village administrator Rosanna Hoelzle reported that a public hearing for storm water management at 208 N. Main St., near Trinity United Methodist Church, was held by the Planning Commission. Information was provided on a retention basin.
The hearing will be continued, as the commission would like to see the retention basic moved north.
• A public hearing scheduled for a zoning change at 13950 Airport Hwy. was cancelled after the property was sold.
• Toeppe reported that a new business checklist is up on the village’s website.