TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Light & Power officials always were willing to build a new sidewalk for Garfield Township outside a proposed electrical substation, a utility official said.
That’s despite a meeting this week at which township planning commissioners pushed the utility for the sidewalk at its proposed LaFranier Road substation and didn’t believe a TCL&P consultant gave what they considered a firm answer. Tim Arends, the city-owned utility’s executive director, said he let the township’s planner know after the Wednesday meeting that the utility would build the requested sidewalk.
“I thought we did make the decision during the meeting, in my mind,” Arends said. “We told them we would do what was required.”
The township can’t require the utility to install sidewalks on LaFranier, but Arends said planners could deny TCL&P’s special use permit application.
Township planner Rob Larrea could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday, and neither planning Commissioner John Nelson, who chaired Wednesday’s meeting, nor the township’s deputy planner were made aware of Arends’ post-meeting clarification when they were interviewed by the Record-Eagle on Thursday.
“That’s great, super,” Nelson said when informed Friday of Arends’ decision.”Those are good people and I knew they would probably do the right thing and that’s good.”
Arends said TCL&P officials initially resisted the sidewalk because it wasn’t listed as a requirement for the special use permit and they didn’t know the township wanted one until they submitted the plans for staff review.
“It was sort of 11th hour,” Arends said. “At that point we didn’t know if it was a want or a requirement.”
Arends said planning commissioners made it clear during the meeting the sidewalk was a top priority for them along the stretch of busy road across from the large Kings Court mobile home park.
Margaret Sandoval lives in Oak Park apartments off of LaFranier Road and said she’s glad to hear TCL&P will build the sidewalk.
“There is a definite need there,” Sandoval said. “People walk down that road all the time, disabled people, and it’s dangerous.”
Arends said utility staff will meet with the township’s planner to minimize the reduction in new plantings on the road front to accommodate the sidewalk. Plantings are designed to screen the substation site TCL&P will share with Wolverine Power Cooperative.
Arends said TCL&P will attempt to heed several planning commissioners’ requests to save some valuable tree specimens that other wise were to be cut by moving them to the property’s southern edge.
The township will hold a public hearing on the special use permit request on Aug. 14.