Brownfield redevelopment reforms head to governor

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — Bipartisan legislation to streamline existing laws governing the state’s brownfield redevelopment program was finalized by the Senate on Thursday.

The state Department of Environmental Quality describes Brownfield properties as those in which the redevelopment or reuse of a property may be complicated by the presence or perception of contamination. By revitalizing and redeveloping the properties, the environment is better protected and existing infrastructure is reused, which improves communities and boosts economic opportunities.

“This common-sense legislation would help property owners and developers to more quickly complete brownfield redevelopment sites,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, sponsor of SB 908. “It could also help attract more and better jobs to Michigan communities.”

Senate Bills 908-913 would aid those redevelopment projects by more clearly identifying exactly what activities are eligible in what situation. Certain activities are considered eligible depending on where a property is located or based on who owns the property.

An example highlighted by Schmidt is the cleaning up of an underground storage tank site, which is considered an environmental activity, but is not currently eligible for approval by the Department of Environmental Quality. This and other inconsistencies are confusing and delay projects throughout the state.

Importantly, the bills would not result in increased taxation, a decrease in government funding to our schools, or increased local government expenditures.

The legislation initially stemmed from a nine-month-long workgroup in which lawmakers, officials from state government and members of the business community met to formulate ways to bring consistency and efficiency to the program while ensuring environmental protection and encouraging economic growth.

SBs 908-13 await the governor’s signature.


Bills to allow hunting and fishing licenses on mobile phone apps sent to governor

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Michiganders rely on smartphones every day to help accomplish tasks at work, keep up to date with family and friends, and to make purchases. If legislation on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder is signed, residents will be able to add hunting and fishing licenses to the list of conveniences enabled by smartphones.

Senate Bills 1073-1075, previously approved by the Senate and finalized by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, would require the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide smartphone applications that display base hunting, waterfowl and all-species fishing licenses for customers by March 1, 2018.

“This is legislation that just makes sense,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who sponsored SB 1075 in the package. “Smartphones are an integral part of our modern, interconnected lives. The added convenience of enabling outdoorsmen and women to keep hunting and fishing licenses via an app on their phone will allow them to focus more of their precious time on enjoying some of Michigan’s most cherished traditions.”

Additionally, the legislation would require the DNR to further implement mobile technology into other services, such as providing information on points of public access, nearby trails, descriptions of game species and hunting boundaries.

“The DNR already provides great services for outdoor enthusiasts, and this legislation will only make it better,” Schmidt said. “I look forward to the governor signing these bills soon.”



Schmidt supports Natural Resources Trust Fund grant recommendations for upper Michigan

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt expressed his support for grant recommendations announced by the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for numerous recreational development and land acquisition projects in the 37th Senate District.

“The Natural Resources Trust Fund provides valuable support to numerous projects across upper Michigan,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “If approved, these additional funds will help to provide welcome improvements so that residents and visitors will be able to better enjoy natural resources in our part of the state.”

The board’s overall recommendations total more than $47.6 million for projects statewide in 2017, including $19.9 million in recreational development and $27.7 million in land acquisition projects.

The total recommended investment for communities in Schmidt’s district surpasses $7 million.

The board’s recommendations must first go to the state Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process before being sent to the governor for signature.

Per the NRTF, details of the grant recommendations are as follows:

Antrim County — Milton Township, Maplehurst Natural Area Acquisition — $1,924,200
Acquisition of a 389-acre former camp property for a new public recreation area. Property includes entire 60-acre Maplehurst Lake, northern hardwood forest and open meadows. The property is suited for hiking and cross country ski trails, fishing, wildlife viewing and boating.

Charlevoix County — Boyne Valley Township, Boyne River Acquisition — $50,000
Acquisition of a one-acre site with road access to property owned by the village of Boyne Falls on the Boyne River. This acquisition provides the only access point to view the falls in Boyne Falls and the only connection to property owned by the village of Boyne Falls on the Boyne River. The property will be used for parking and access to view of the falls, fishing along the river on village property and potential for access to future water trails.

Charlevoix County —City of Boyne City Open Space Acquisition — $2,438,800
Acquisition of 4.6 acres with 600 feet of shoreline on Lake Charlevoix. The site will be used as an open space park available for general public use and in turn enhance the economic development opportunity for adjacent properties including the public boat launch and commercial and residential properties in the immediate area.

Charlevoix County — City of Boyne, Boyne Valley Trail Development — Phase 1 — $300,000
Development of 3.6 miles of the 6.1-mile, paved, non-motorized, all-season Boyne Valley Trailway connecting the city of Boyne to the village of Boyne Falls. This trailway will extend and enhance the Regional Trail System by connecting Boyne City to Charlevoix Trail and the Little Traverse Wheelway. Phase I of the trailway project connects to Boyne City streets with a trailhead at the Boyne City Airport with existing paved parking and modern bathroom facilities. At mile point 1.4 the trail provides access to the Boyne River Nature Area that includes a pavilion, benches and a nature trail leading to the Boyne River. At mile point 2.4 the trail passes through the Boyne Valley Township Park (recreational property) with planned future improvements for trail users that include parking, benches, solar lighting, and vault restrooms. Phase I ends at mile point 3.6 where the trail connects to the Boyne Falls Public School and includes use of the paved parking lot.

Cheboygan County — DNR, Black River Property — $375,000
Acquisition of four acres located on the Black River for improved boating access on Black Lake. Existing boating access on Black Lake has limited ability to expand to provide safe and adequate public access on the lake due to site constraints. Acquisition of this site will allow DNR to develop a suitable boating access site that meets current state standards and will improve safety, functionality and efficiency of public boating recreation on Black Lake and the Black River.

Cheboygan County — Burt Township, Burt Lake Trail Development (Phase 2) — $295,000
Development to extend Burt Lake Trail approximately 3.1 miles to provide the connection from W. Burt Lake Road to E. Burt Lake Road around the north end of Burt Lake in both Burt and Munro townships. The 10-foot-wide, paved, non-motorized trail will be separated from the adjacent roadway. Ultimately, the route will provide critical links to connect the Petoskey-to-Mackinaw Trail in Brutus to the North Central State Trail/Iron Belle Trail in Topinabee. The trail route will traverse a unique natural area owned by the University of Michigan Biological Station known for abundant wildlife and pristine woodlands.

Emmet County — DNR, Iron Belle Trail — Bechek Property — $145,000
Acquisition of 40 acres of undeveloped land for the purposes of securing permanent site control for the hiking route of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail, as well as securing permanent site control for Snowmobile Trail #760. This acquisition will also provide for a recreation and wildlife corridor between state forest land to the east and city of Petoskey land to the west.

Emmet County — Littlefield Township, Blumke to Milton Road Trail Acquisition — $99,000
Acquisition of a half-mile corridor to enhance the North Western State Trail. The property is immediately north of the existing trail, which is located within the US 31 Highway (Oden Road) right-of-way. Acquisition of the property would allow for immediate use for snowmobiles in the winter away from the highway and would protect the land for possible future non-motorized trail realignment. It will allow the community to retain the scenic character of the trail for future generations to enjoy.

Emmet County — City of Petoskey, Petoskey Downtown Greenway Non-motorized Trail South Segment — $293,600
Development of the South Segment of the Downtown Greenway Non-Motorized Trail between Emmet Street and Mitchell Street. Property is held by the city in fee simple and is a part of the 1.1-mile-long Downtown Greenway Corridor, a planned redevelopment of a former rail corridor now owned by the city. Proposed improvements include a lighted, 10-foot-wide, non-motorized concrete trail, enhanced pedestrian road crossings, benches, litter receptacles, historic markers, bicycle racks, wayfinding and interpretive signage, stormwater improvements and landscaping. All applicable improvements will meet universal accessibility requirements.

Emmet County — Littlefield Township, Hay Lake Marina Park and Watertrail Trailhead — $280,000
Redevelopment of a former private marina that is a key boating access and trailhead location for the Inland Waterway Trail. Development plans for this phase include a public marina, small boat launch, universally accessible canoe/kayak launch, elevated wetland overlook, water trailhead with car-trailer and car parking, universally accessible restroom/shower building and amenities.

Grand Traverse County — Acme Township, Bayside Park Development — $300,000
Development of Bayside Park, a gateway to Acme Township on the Grand Traverse Bay and a trailhead for the Lake Michigan Water Trail. All improvements will be universally accessible, including walkways throughout the park, beach access matting and transfer seat, playground, shade structures, parking, amenities and trailhead signs. The project will incorporate environmental features, including landscaping with native plants and rain gardens.

Luce County — DNR, Muskallonge Lake Campground Accessibility Improvements — $300,000
Development to modernize campsites by providing barrier-free access and improved vehicular circulation within Muskallonge Lake State Park. The current campsites will be improved to maintain a safe and functional camping experience for park visitors and to attract new visitors in the growing tourism market of Northern Michigan. The campground will also be a very useful accommodation for users of the North Country Iron Belle Trail.

Mackinac County — Clark Township, Cedarville Harbor — $294,800
Development to expand and improve Cedarville Harbor, a transient recreational harbor facility centrally located within the Les Cheneaux Islands along the northernmost shoreline of Lake Huron. The 12-mile coastal region includes 36 islands of sheltered channels and bays and a historic harbor for recreational boaters, paddlers and explorers. The pristine waters inspired conservation writer Aldo Leopold in his youth. The project includes a 248-foot head pier with 16 finger slips and launch ramp expansion. The project would feature a new parking lot and harbormaster building complete with accessible shower and restroom facilities. The project is also supported by the Michigan Waterways Commission.


Budget supplemental includes $1 million for Mackinac Island State Park

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — The Legislature on Wednesday finalized a supplemental to the state’s Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget that included $1 million for improvements at Mackinac Island State Park.

“I am pleased that we were able to approve this important bill to provide these additional funds to make needed improvements at Fort Mackinac,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who represents the island as part of the 37th Senate District. “Mackinac Island, and Fort Mackinac, are Michigan treasures, and these updates will go a long way toward improving the experience for visitors and workers alike.”

Phil Porter said the supplemental will help make improvements to Fort Mackinac and other buildings on the island.

“On behalf of the Mackinac State Historic Parks Commission, I am thrilled to receive this supplemental appropriation,” said Porter, commission director. “These funds will go a long way toward maintaining and improving the historic structures on Mackinac Island, and to supporting the island’s more than one million visitors each year. I appreciate the continued support of Senator Schmidt, members of the Legislature, and the governor’s administration for Mackinac Island, the gem of Michigan.”

Senate Bill 800, which provided the 2016-17 fiscal year supplemental, included $116.9 million for various projects and a $75 million payment into the state’s rainy day fund.

The bill awaits the governor’s signature.


Sen. Schmidt set to host coffee hours this month

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt will hold coffee hours with constituents throughout the 37th Senate District this month.

The senator will be available to answer questions and provide information and assistance, as well as take suggestions on issues affecting communities and businesses in the district. No appointment is necessary.

For more information or to contact Schmidt, please visit or call 517-373-2413.

Sen. Schmidt’s December coffee hours are as follows:

Friday, Dec. 16

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Roast & Toast

309 E. Lake St.


3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant

106 Pine River Lane


Monday, Dec. 19

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Timber Charlie’s

11 Newberry Ave.


3 – 4 p.m.

Dancing Crane Coffee House

12072 W. Lakeshore Drive


Tuesday, Dec. 27

10 – 11 a.m.

Bentley’s B-N-L Café

62 N. State St.

St. Ignace

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

The Thirsty Sturgeon

11900 Scott Road


Wednesday, Dec. 28

10 – 11 a.m.


102 N. Bridge St.


12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Harpo’s Coffee Café

1202 Veterans Drive

Traverse City


Sen. Wayne Schmidt named Michigan Fraternal Order of Police Legislator of the Year

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt was honored as 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police on Tuesday.

“I am truly honored to receive the Legislator of the Year award from the Fraternal Order of Police,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “To be recognized by such a respected group of public safety officials is a testament to the hard work of my staff and my colleagues to approve legislation that helps protect the men and women in blue who serve to protect us each day.”

Schmidt was recognized for his leadership on legislation recently signed into law that guarantees health care benefits for the surviving spouses and children of law enforcement officers who die in the line of duty.

“The Michigan Fraternal Order of Police is proud to award Senator Schmidt as our 2016 Legislator of the Year,” said Michigan Fraternal Order of Police President Joe Adams. “We appreciate the senator’s steadfast support of law enforcement throughout his tenure in the Legislature, and look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with him in the future.”

Schmidt and Adams, pictured center, were joined for the presentation by Michigan Fraternal Order of Police members, from left to right, Treasurer Ken Willis; Vice President Mike Sauger; Executive Director Dave Hiller; and Director of Labor Services Dave Willis.