Power upgrades approved despite public outcry

Dozens of people held signs throughout the meeting with the message "Save Hickory Meadows" and "Answers Before Funding."

Dozens of residents packed into Traverse City Commission chambers Monday night to express concerns about upgrades to power lines on the city's west side.

Despite those concerns, commissioners approved the plans.

The commission took two separate votes after hearing all of the comments from residents.

The first motion would have amended Traverse City Light and Powerâ??s Capital Improvement Plan. It was noted that the motion went against city legal advice. The resolution failed with a vote of 4-3. Commissioners came back and voted to approve the plans as-is.

Traverse City Light and Power will now be able to upgrade the major transmission lines along Wayne Street.

Dozens of people held signs throughout the meeting with the message "Save Hickory Meadows" and "Answers Before Funding."

With the changes, taller power poles will be put in place.

Neighbors are concerned the upgrades will impact park land around Wayne Hill, Hickory Hills, and Hickory Meadows.

They suggest burying the lines or rerouting them.

Person after person asked commissioners to remove the line-item regarding the upgrades from TCL&Pâ??s Capital Improvement Plan.

â??The recreational authority board took formal action on Nov. 16, 2010 to oppose any electrical transmission line or expansion project being located within or near Hickory Meadows,â?? said one concerned resident.

Mayor Michael Estes countered that argument saying in 2010, voters trusted TCL&P giving them control instead of commissioners by a landslide vote.

At the meeting, commissioners also approved Traverse City Light and Power's budget for the upcoming year. It will take effect July 1.

A proposal for park funding is one step closer to being on the November ballot.

Commissioners approved a report from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund ad hoc committee.

The proposal calls for using trust fund dollars over the next five years to help make improvements to city parks.

Voters have said no to previous efforts to use the trust fund, but commissioners say it's still worth an effort to ask.

â??Another alternative is to tap the $12-13 million we have that's sitting there in a rainy day fund to maybe put toward these features,â?? explained Commissioner Jim Carruthers. â??We're only saying cap it and use a certain portion of the revenue over a five year period. We're still going to have $12 million in our trust fund.â??

Residents will have to approve whatever commissioners decide about tapping the funding for park upgrades come November 4.