City primed to sell property for disability housing

Marie Havenga • Jun 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Ferrysburg City Council is preparing to accept purchase offers for two city-owned parcels — 8 acres immediately to the east of Ferrysburg City Hall and the former city hall building on Fifth Street.

Council has accepted a $40,000 offer from Gracious Grounds — a nonprofit group that wants to build housing for disabled persons — for the parcel east of the current City Hall.

Council also is accepting a $125,000 offer from Eric Rohrbough for the former city hall building at 408 Fifth St. Rohrbough plans to use the 5,000-square-foot space for warehousing parts, according to City Manager Craig Bessinger. A January appraisal stated the property was valued at $135,000.

City Council is expected to formally accept the purchase agreements at its July 3 meeting.

Gracious Grounds' offer is contingent on receiving a rezoning from medium-density residential to high-density residential. The Ferrysburg Planning Commission will review the request at its next meeting and make a recommendation to council.

Rohrbough's offer also carries a contingency — that he can operate as a non-conforming use. That request will go before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mayor Dan Ruiter said proceeds from the sales will go into the city’s General Fund “to help make up for our shortfall that exists due to the Headlee Amendment limitations on the millage the city can base its property taxes on.”

Ruiter said he's pleased with the Gracious Grounds project, even though council has not yet seen any formal site plan.

“They are definitely meeting an unmet need in the Tri-Cities area,” he said. “I praise the Gracious Grounds organization for the work they do. The housing idea is unique and a very valuable asset to our community.”

Councilwoman Regina Sjoberg agrees.

“I am totally behind the Gracious Grounds purchase of our city property, and always have been,” she said. “It is our mandate as a governmental entity to serve all people, and Gracious Grounds provides a needed service to the community at large.”

Sjoberg noted that many of the people who will be living on the property volunteer in the community — at their churches, at Meals on Wheels and at other service organizations.

“The biographies I read show us that many of them volunteer more than most people,” she said. “I am happy Gracious Grounds will allow these people to live independently in Ferrysburg, and look forward to seeing their futures unfold.”

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