Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 12, 2014

Slabtown: Pull the plug on power line

TRAVERSE CITY — Slabtown Neighborhood residents will go for two in a row at tonight’s city commission meeting in hopes they can have a contentious power line replacement plan stripped from the city budget.

Residents and supporters of Hickory Meadows will voice their opposition to the continued presence of a Traverse City Light & Power transmission line that connects substations on Gray Road and Hall Street. TCL&P officials want to replace the aging line and support polls, while residents want it either buried or moved to run along M-72 and Grandview Parkway.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the city budget today at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center, and expect to take up the issue.

“The neighborhood association is hopeful the city commission and Traverse City Light & Power will follow the decisions made a couple of years ago on this same issue and try to find a solution other than just redo what’s there now,” said Mike Gaines, Slabtown Neighborhood Association president. “The situation as it exists is unacceptable and should not be rebuilt.”

Neighborhood pressure recently convinced Mayor Michael Estes and Commissioner Ross Richardson to switch their votes on a controversial rezoning issue. But Estes said he won’t favor the neighborhood’s request to remove the utility project scheduled for 2015-2016 from the capital improvement plan, part of the city’s budget.

“The decision for the commission is are we going to allow the Light & Power board to do their job, or are we as a city commission going to overrule them,” Estes said. “The reason we created the Light & Power board was so they could deal with these technical questions and my support is behind them.”

But Commissioner Gary Howe said he’s amenable to pulling the plug on the project, though he first wants to hear what TCL&P officials say.

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