Bipartisan legislation to modify the definition of a downtown district would allow communities such as Clay Township to grow their downtown footprint 


LANSING, Mich. (June 5, 2024) — Yesterday, the Michigan Senate acted in a bipartisan fashion to pass Sen. Kevin Hertel’s (D-St. Clair Shores) Senate Bill 700, which would modify the definition of a downtown district to allow a municipality to have one or more separate and distinct geographic areas in a business district if the municipality contains a mainland and one or more islands that are separated by a body of water.

“With this legislation, we are expanding the tools available to some of our state’s most unique communities, including Clay Township, to grow their downtown footprint,” said Sen. Hertel. “As we look to build up the gem that is Harsens Island and attract new businesses to the area, Senate Bill 700 would provide the township with the power they need to create thriving, downtown spaces that boost local entrepreneurship and drive economic development.”

Currently, communities are only permitted to have a single Downtown Development Authority (DDA) which utilizes tax increment financing to fund improvements to buildings or infrastructure within the district, allows the district to levy a limited millage in order to address administrative expenses, and opens up opportunities for grant funding.

This expanded DDA definition would unlock opportunities for unique communities across the Great Lakes State. More specifically, this legislation would give Clay Township the ability and the tools they need to revitalize the downtown Sans Souci area on Harsens Island without detracting from the township’s downtown space on the mainland.

“Here in Clay Township, our Downtown Development Authority on the mainland has been incredibly successful – allowing us to construct a community park, pave sidewalks, build a fishing pier, help school athletic programs, and more. Harsens Island deserves to have the same opportunities for development and growth,” said Clay Township Supervisor Artie Bryson. “I am thankful for Senator Hertel’s leadership on this legislation, which will allow us to build on the creativity and drive of our community to bring greater economic prosperity to the area.”

According to the Michigan Townships Association, this legislation would also affect St. James Township in Charlevoix County; Leland Township and Glen Arbor Township in Leelanau County; Houghton Township, Fairbanks Township, and Eagle Harbor Township in Keweenaw County; and Clark Township in Mackinac County.

Senate Bill 700 now heads to the Michigan House for their consideration.