Meeting Overview: Kalamazoo City Commission approves infrastructure and housing money 8/1

In the event of a budgeting complication, more funding for the Lodge House project, formerly the Knight’s Inn, needed approval. Civic Reporter Reed Shilts reports the story.

Watch our meeting highlight video


On Monday, August 1, the Kalamazoo City Commission unanimously approved a handful of infrastructure items. This included: over $3 million for upgrades to the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for the water and wastewater utilities; engineering services for $250,000 for the 33rd Street Transmission Main project; water supply treatment chemicals for $277,200; contracts for a bit over $298,000 for tree removal and maintenance with Treeworks Inc; and $917,866.47 was budgeted for a cost increase for the Lake Street Water Main Reconstruction Project.


In the event of a budgeting complication, more funding for the Lodge House project, formerly the Knight’s Inn (1211 South Westnedge), also needed approval.


An additional $500,000 was needed to replace funds from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. This is because during the COVID-19 pandemic, some federal grant process steps were overlooked and the Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) did not approve the city’s request to release the funds for this particular project. 


Fortunately, the money can be reallocated to another eligible activity, but alternate funding was needed for the Lodge House project.


The lodge

The Lodge House project is almost complete and will provide 60 new affordable housing units for very low-income residents, that fall below 30 percent of the area’s median income. 


Additionally, more affordable housing support was provided by the city; $326,362 was approved for the purchase and site preparation of scattered building sites to construct seven new homes and finish one home built last year. This is part of the Scattered Site Brownfield Plan to support infill housing while removing blighted buildings.


City Commissioner Qianna Decker brought up a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this week at 615 West Kalamazoo Ave. This residential unit was a previous brownfield project that now provides 18 one-bedroom and two-bedroom residential units along with ground floor commercial space. Again, removing a blighted building with contaminated soil and underground storage tanks and ultimately providing new housing for Kalamazoo.


For the recreational substances side of life, the commission recommended the approval of the liquor license for an “On-Premises Tasting Room Permit” for the new Apoptosis Brewing Company, at 3811 South Westnedge: the former location of Big Apple Bagels. 

Further, the commission approved ordinance revisions related to medical and adult-use marijuana businesses. The changes are largely dealing with the desire to smooth out the permitting and renewal process for both the city and businesses. Amongst the details in the 22 page ordinance is that mobile and drive-thru sales are forbidden, but curbside delivery can be permitted.


The commissioners unanimously adopted the Marihuana Social Equity Policy which is designed to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana enforcement.


In closing the meeting, City Commissioner Chris Praedel spoke about being mentioned by Tucker Carlson on Fox News, “I’m referring to.. make it on primetime in a way you don’t exactly want to make.” 


“While a PrimeTime host on national television can spend one minute in front of millions dividing the country through a screen… I think we all show up every single day… in the belief of lifting up every single person, in the belief that each one of those people can somehow come together to change the world,” said Praedel. 


The other commissioners voiced their whole hearted support of Praedel, and the values that the commissioners share in making Kalamazoo a leading community.