Agreement anticipated for next commission meeting


IMLAY CITY — The proverbial can continues to be kicked down the road when it comes to a new business locating a new facility here.

The owners of the Memphis-based Sage Creek Winery attended an Imlay City Commission meeting earlier this year with plans to bring their highly successful company to town.


Lapeer Development Corp. Executive Director Sam Moore speaks to the Imlay City Commission regarding the pending deal for Sage Creek Winery to bring their production facility to town.

The original business, in Memphis, will continue to operate as it currently does.

Since that time, Sage Creek owners have been met with numerous road blocks, namely with State permits and legal issues, that have delayed the beginning of construction in what was once the old Imlay City fire hall on Third St.

At the past several meetings, City Manager Craig Horton told the Imlay City commission that he anticipated bringing them a purchase agreement. That has yet to happen.

Instead, lawyers for both sides have gone back and forth fine tuning a potential agreement in anticipation of moving forward yet this year.

“Their lawyer asked for some things and ours asked for some things,” said Horton at the meeting last week. “They are trying to get it done and ready for action. I anticipate that happening at the October 3 meeting.”

Sam Moore, Executive Director of Lapeer Development Corporation, spoke on behalf of Sage Creek and said they are still anxious to come to Imlay City.

“I can tell you, they are excited about getting the agreement finished and eager to get going with construction,” Moore told the board. “Once all the permits are approved, they have contractors waiting to go at it.”

Commission member Al Ramirez voiced his frustration at the pace of the agreement, saying, “this whole process has dragged on too long,” he said. “We don’t want to lose them because lawyers couldn’t come to some kind of agreement.”

In other commission news, City Clerk Dawn Sawicki-Franz informed the commission new election equipment is needed and will cause the city to dip into their fund equity.

“We have to get some new machines and with the new State election rules, we have to have additional people at the polls for nine days of voting. It’s expensive.”

City Manager Horton stated, “here is yet another unfunded mandate by the State that is going to force us to dip in to our fund equity for almost $30,000 that was not budgeted.”

The commission approved the purchase of a ballot machine at a cost of $14,500 and another $15,000 for election worker wages and other costs.

The city clerk said the situation is not exclusive to Imlay City, that every city, village and township in the State is having to get the new, upgraded equipment.

DPW Supervisor Ed Priehs updated the commission on numerous projects throughout the city including one scheduled for the intersection of First St and M-53/Van Dyke that will see new sewer mains installed.

Major work to be done along Fourth St. is being delayed until next year. Priehs said the funding received for the project is valid through the end of next year.

He also spoke on a project totaling more than $9 million that is totally funded with grants and low interest rate loans that will allow for work to be done in the area of Almont Avenue and Main St.

Depending on weather conditions, work on a portion of the downtown district in Imlay City will be seeing improvements starting in November.

Priehs said bids were opened and the winning bid of $43,600 was approved to remove the brick pavers throughout the downtown district and replace them with stamped concrete.

The Imlay City Downtown Development Authority has expressed interest in possibly assisting with costs, but no formal action has been taken as of yet.

City Manager Horton said the project is a public safety issue and needs to be done, regardless of the DDA decision. Work is expected to be completed sometime in the spring.

The trick-or-treat hours for this year were set by the commission to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night.