ALPENA - Alpena Community College is looking toward the future and the possibility of development on Woodward Avenue in the years ahead. The college owns a large section of property it was given by the Besser Foundation and has asked the City of Alpena to have it rezoned from Residential-2 to I-2, General Industrial.
Although there is no infrastructure in place and the land sits on a gravel section of the road, the college is positioning itself for possible expansion or commercial endeavors in the event there is sudden growth in Alpena.
City Manager Greg Sundin said the land is earmarked for specific uses as part of the conditions between the school and Besser. He said it was zoned as residential as a way to have it in holding, as it is not anywhere close to having homes built on it. Sundin said because the land is in the city any rezoning would have to be approved by the planning commission and the Alpena Municipal Council before ACC could move forward with any development. It was a safeguard set in place to assure the development would comply with Besser's wishes. Sundin said there is a long list of things that have to be done involving the property before any type of industrial development can take place.
"Anything the college would do that would fall under heavy industry would need a special land use permit from the city and, as well as permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for air and water and those types of things," Sundin said. "They would need to do that just in order to build a plant and operate it. Then there is the fact there is no water or sewer and that would cost more than $3 million to have put in place, so nothing is imminent."
ACC President Olin Joynton said the college is putting itself in position now so if Alpena becomes a preferred location for technological production, ACC would be able to move forward in ways that would help meet its educational objectives and possibly create jobs in Alpena.
"It is the mission and goal of the college to provide life-long learning opportunities and also be a center of economic development," Joynton said. "If an enterprise were to move in we may be able to provide training they need and it may also provide an opportunity for our students to find employment. It would be great if our students could find good jobs in Alpena and ACC is an agent for trying to help do that."
Sundin said there are several things in Alpena that could eventually lead to development on the ACC land or other sites in the area. He said the state's tentative designation to make Alpena a "smart zone" for technology also could be a factor.
"I think one of the things the college may focus in on is the alternate energy and things of this sort," Sundin said. "It may tie into the concrete tech program and it is also possible that something could lead to where the county's drone project expands and NOAA with underwater remote systems and remotely operated vehicles could also be tied in to the school in some way. That is what a smart zone is it is for high technology. When the smart zone is officially in place the college wants to position itself a possible development, but right now I think it could be as long as three to five years out or longer before you see any type of movement out there."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com