Battle Creek Attempts To Shake Up Historic District Commission
The Battle Creek City Commission is looking to replace several members of the Historic District Commission as the city is engaged in a dispute with that same group.
The dispute stems back to September 2019, where the historic Binder Building at 34 E Michigan Ave. in downtown Battle Creek had several floors collapse, prompting the surrounding area to be temporarily evacuated and the building declared dangerous. The City then attempted to have the tower of the building demolished, but demolition requires the approval of the Historic District Commission; at meetings in December and January, the HDC rejected moving forward with demolition, saying that more time should be given to the property owner to address the problems.
Now, three resolutions are on the City Commission’s agenda for Tuesday, which would remove three individuals from the HDC and appoint four new ones at the Mayor’s behest. The resolution removing those three members claims that they are being removed because they were appointed contrary to city ordinance; the rules governing the Historic District Commission say that no one may serve more than two consecutive terms, but this resolution says they were appointed to a third inappropriately.
If the resolutions pass, John Paul Wilson, Jim Hopkins, and Kim Tuck would be removed from the Commission, while Deborah Sallee, Gerardyne Drozdowski, and Stanley Chubinski would be appointed.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, two of these three voted against the city administration regarding the fate of the Binder Building in January, but the City says their removal isn’t a backlash to their vote; they say as more attention was paid to the HDC during this affair, staff realized the rule violations were happening.
City administrators announced on Friday that they are planning to appeal the HDC’s denial of the demolition of the Binder Building to the State Historic Preservation Review Board on May 29. It's also possible for adjacent property owners or anyone living in Battle Creek's city limits to appeal the HDC decision to Calhoun County Circuit Court.