Senate approves Hansen bill enabling local units of government to improve waterfronts

LANSING—The Michigan Senate passed a measure Thursday that would enable local units of government to establish districts for financing a variety of waterfront improvement activities, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Goeff Hansen.

Senate Bill 218 would restore and expand the tax increment financing (TIF) authority for water resource improvement, an economic development tool that expired at the end of 2011.

“Local units of governments have been struggling to keep our harbors, ports and waterways accessible and sustainable for both commercial and recreational traffic,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “I am excited about reinstituting the authorization for municipalities to adopt TIF plans to finance these activities, because it provides an additional tool for them to meet their dredging needs.”

Under Hansen’s measure, the use of the authority would be expanded to include dredging, the removal of spoils, or other improvements or maintenance activities that enhance navigability of a waterway.

The bill also increases the scope of a waterfront improvement district and the activities of the waterfront improvement authority board.

Tax increment financing is an economic development tool designed to capture the tax revenue from the incremental growth in property value within a district, for use in financing a variety of public improvements in that area. The tool generally has been used in commercial and industrial areas.  

SB 218 now heads to the Michigan House for further consideration.


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Hansen welcomes exchange students to Capitol

LANSING—Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, (left) and Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, (right) present Michigan state flags to international exchange students visiting the Capitol as Hansen’s guests. Standing between the lawmakers are (from left) Asif Haider (from Pakistan), Kang You (South Korea), Devarsh Nareshabi Jani (India), and Syafiq Aizat Fitri Bin Khairul Azmi (Malaysia).

The four Muskegon and North Muskegon students, who came to Lansing with a larger group, are part of the educational exchange program Youth For Understanding. During their visit, the group observed Senate session and a House committee and toured the Hall of Justice, Michigan Historical Museum and the state Capitol.

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Senate unanimously approves Hansen bill to rename Hart-Montague trail after William Field

LANSING—The Michigan Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to rename the Hart-Montague Trail after the man who was the driving force behind its creation, the late William Field.

Senate Bill 154 will officially rename the Hart-Montague Trail the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail.

The measure was sponsored by Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee Chairman Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart.

“Bill Field was a tireless advocate and a true champion for his idea of turning the out-of-use Oceana County rail service into a recreational trail for the community,” Hansen said. “Today we all benefit from his labors and generosity as we enjoy this scenic trail.”

While traveling out west decades ago, Field saw an old railroad trail that had been turned into a limestone surface for a bike trail. This was the inspiration for the Hart-Montague Trail, which runs 22 miles from the city of Hart south to the city of Montague.

Field purchased on a land contract the property that the old rail service sat on, and he sold off the excess property to surrounding cities. In the end, an estimated $225,000 worth of property was given to the state of Michigan for the rail trail.

Field was a lifelong resident of Oceana County and died on Dec. 30, 2005. He was recognized in 1998 by the Detroit News as a “Michiganian of the Year” for his efforts in establishing the Hart-Montague Trail.

SB 154 now heads to the Michigan House for consideration.