City councilor Jeff Phillips steps down
by Tim McAllister lead reporter
Lowell city councilor Jeff Phillips announced his immediate resignation from the council at their latest regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 5.
“I just recently received a job promotion, and my new job promotion will conflict with the city council, so tonight will be my last council meeting,” Phillips said. “With that, I'd like to thank the city and the council, as I am grateful for the opportunity. I take away much information knowledge and experience.”
According to the city charter, “Resignations [...] shall be made in writing and filed with the clerk and shall be acted upon by the council at its next regular meeting following receipt thereof by the clerk. [...] If a vacancy occurs in any elective city office, the council shall, within thirty days after such vacancy occurs, appoint a person who possesses the qualifications required of holders of said office.”
Phillips' term expires in Jan. 2020; his replacement would serve the remainder of that term. Anyone wishing to run for a city council position must have been a registered voter in the city for at least one year and must not be in default to the city, including taxes, utility bills or unpaid invoices.
“At the next council meeting, the council will have to accept [Phillips'] letter of resignation,” said city manager Michael Burns. “From there, they designate a process. Thirty days after that point, the position needs to be filled.”
“I encourage anybody that's watching or listening to put in your applications,” said councilor James Salzwedel. “The more the better.”
The city passed a resolution "approving sanitary sewer system policies and procedures for determining industrial allocation portion of wastewater treatment plant maximum allowable headworks loading" along with the addition of Section 25.205A, a "special discharge allocation," to the sewer ordinance.
“In August, the city issued an industrial pretreatment program permit to Litehouse to begin transporting their process water to the wastewater treatment plant,” Burns said. “An issue surfaced which our current ordinance does not allow. [For] approximately the first six months of their pretreatment operation, the effluent they will send to the plant will contain a biochemical oxygen demand, otherwise known as BOD, of up to 4,500 mg per liter per day. Our current sewer use ordinance restricts an IPP user to load 2,500 mg per liter of BOD per day. In addition, the permittee has a requirement of no more than 800 pounds per day of BOD they can submit to the plant. Going above these amounts places them into the fine category of our current ordinance and will violate our national pollutant discharge elimination system permit, or NDPES permit. This could force a revocation of Litehouse's IPP permit. If you recall, this is the action that stopped the biodigester from operating. In this scenario, Litehouse would be able to meet the 800 pound requirement per day, but not the 2,500 mg per liter per day requirement. Our system can handle this in the short term, if closely monitored, while Litehouse continues their upgrades. However, the city would be in violation of the ordinance and the NDPES permit because of our standards if we allowed it.”
“At the end of the day, what they're asking to do is, the volume and the load coming into the plant is going to be pushing it up towards the maximum of what the plant can handle,” said councilor Marty Chambers. “If the townships allow more development to come in and a processor somewhat similar goes into Lowell Twp or Vergennes Twp, that forces a plant expansion because the system just won't be able to handle the extra volume.”
“This situation that's in front of you is basically for temporary situations, like approximately six months,” Burns said. “This just allows for those situations. They will have to go back to the ordinance standard in a very short period of time. We're going to monitor it and if they don't, if they're not meeting what they need to meet, they either have to pull back or they have to stop sending us the waste.”
In other business, the council voted to sell property at 2560 Bowes to Lowell Twp. The property adjoins the new park in the township, who plans to lease a portion of it to Vergennes Broadband. The council also announced that they would like to create a Recreation Park steering committee of about 20 people who will decide what to do with the fairgrounds after the Kent County Youth Fair moves. Interested parties should contact city hall.
The council's next meeting will be at city hall at 7 pm on Monday, Nov. 19.