Rezoning of former Art Van building approved

by Angie Asam-Staff Writer

One day after the planning commission recommended rezoning the former Art Van property to create a new light manufacturing district, the city commission unanimously approved the rezone which will allow Tom Moran and Moran Iron Works (MIW) to use the building to its full potential.

“Our plan is to use the building to its full potential, to do whatever pops up; painting, warehouse space, light manufacturing, etc. It gives us another opportunity,” said Moran. Moran described how the building will be used to do jobs that he may not have space for otherwise.

As far as the showroom portion of the building goes Moran admitted that his first idea was to have it demolished because it is big and requires a lot of maintenance, making it expensive. “Now I believe I will move our educational facility into that space. We also thought about making the rest of the property behind the building into an art park, that is our intent right now,” said Moran.

Moran has already been doing a lot of work in the building, which his company purchased on Sept. 16

“We see the school as being an economic driver for the city. Students will need housing, food, etc. We see it as a catalyst for downtown. We plan on expanding the school to teach not only welding and fabrication but project management and other things. We have the people to do it. We see the school becoming one of the best trade schools in the country,” said Marilynn Kapp, public relations director for MIW.

Acting upon the recommendation from the planning commission, which held a public hearing on the matter, the city commission approved the rezone and offered some positive comments toward Moran.

“I applaud MIW for purchasing this building and working to make it a viable part of our business sector. I look forward to assisting MIW in any way possible as it attempts to make its plans for this property a reality,” said city manager Joe Hefele.

Mayor Gary Wregglesworth talked about unemployment being a big problem across the country and part of that problem is that employers need skilled laborers and in order to become a skilled laborer people need training, much like the training Moran plans to offer at his educational facility.

“Tom, you may not have everything specifically planned out for that building but your track record, not only what you have done for this county and the city, your track record proves that whatever it is going to be it’s going to be a job well done,” said commissioner Bernie Schmeltzer.

Moran said that whatever he does there he doesn’t plan to make any more noise than Art Van did and he plans to work with the city if there ever is a problem.

IN OTHER CITY COMMISSION NEWS:

• The commission will be considering a rezone of the former hospital, or more recently Boysville, in consideration of turning the building into apartments. The planning commission will be holding a public hearing on the matter at its Oct. 30 meeting. Mark Pruchnicki is interested in converting the building into as many as 16 apartment units.

• Trick-or-treat hours were set for Oct. 31 from 5 until 7:30 p.m. within the city of Onaway.

• The week after Halloween the city will offer fall leaves and brush pickup. It is asked that the leaves be bagged and the brush be stacked neatly with large ends toward the street to make it easier for the Department of Public Works to haul the material away.

• The Presque Isle County Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program has purchased the former Onaway Police car for $3,900, a bit less than the $4,500 the city originally hoped for but still a fair price based on the value of the car.