‘Make or break time’ for new Potter Hill Road

ALPENA – When talks began regarding having an access road built from Bagley Street, behind Walmart and the Home Depot and out to M-32, many of the property owners met and decided to move forward with the plan. In order to make the road a reality it was known that donation of property would be needed to provide the right of way.

Now could be “make or break time” for the new road, which is named Potter Hill Road, as confirmation from the property owners that they are still in favor of the project is needed, as well as in favor of an assessment levied by the township to pay for the loans to cover the cost.

Township Supervisor Marie Twite provided some initial estimates on what the assessment cost could be per parcel to pay for the $1.6 million road job and the $4.1 million expense to have the proper utilities installed. The assessment funds would be used to pay back a 15 year loan for the road and a 40 year loan for utilities the group could obtain from the United States Department of Agriculture. Resident, Jim Townsend, said the group is still seeking other funding, to help pay for the project, or contribute to it, thus lowering the assessment amount. Townsend said before moving any further ahead, every property owner effected by the assessment or is needed to donate property needs to be approached and their commitment confirmed again. He said a letter will be crafted and sent out in the weeks following the Fourth of July holiday.

“We need to be verbally and/or in contact with everybody,” Townsend said. “They won’t be signing a legal document, it will just be something for them to let us know if they are on board or not. When we all sat down together in the beginning most everyone was for it. Now we need to know for sure.”

Alpena Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Klarich said the cost the land owners from the assessment will improve the value of their property and make it more attractive to companies interested in developing on the highway.

“I don’t think this would be a long term hold at all it sure wouldn’t be for 20 years. If I was looking at as a land owner I would be looking at it maybe five years,” Klarich said. “My gut tells me that more than half of those properties would be sold after that road is made.”

Twite said there is sure to be some of the land owners who will not want the special assessment, but if more than 50 percent of the parcel owners vote for it, the board of trustees can issues the assessment and then take out the loan from the fed.

To this point the Michigan Department of Transportation is on board with the project, which could include a light on Bagley Steet, which would allow motorists simple and safe access to the stores that exist along M-32 or are opened in the future. Because there is some wetland in the area, steps will need to be taken to get support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as well.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.