2008-06-07 / Top News

Council Calls for Stricter Penalties for Vehicle Permit Violations

By Diane Ivey

When Marianne O'Neill and Patricia Held began a massive renovation project on the Lakebluff Condos and Suites in November 2007, they had no idea they would be struggling to finish the project by May 2008.

Despite weather woes, a bat problem, and original construction problems, the two executive directors thought they were making progress. But when a temporary motor vehicle permit for a forklift expired, they were issued more than $100 in tickets.

The project was originally stopped by the Mackinac Island City Council and the Mackinac Island Police Friday, May 23, but on May 25, Council voted 5-2 in favor of letting Mrs. O'Neill and Ms. Held complete the project, despite the expired permit.

Because of this incident and many others like it, both the council and Police Chief Jim Marks said they are advocating stricter fines for motor vehicle permit violations.

"We're setting a very dangerous precedent when we let this happen," Councilman Jason St. Onge said. "I'm sympathetic to their cause, but when the fine costs only $25, the contractor can easily keep going, whether the permit is expired or not."

Chief Marks agreed, and added that Council could consider larger fines.

Councilmen St. Onge and Michael Hart voted against letting the contractor, Maverick Construction, finish the project. Both said they want to set an example for future violators.

"We want to go on the record to say that this can't happen again," Mr. Hart said. "We want [contractors] to know that we're serious."

Mark O'Neill, Mrs. O'Neill's husband, said he feels stricter violations should be given to those who don't adhere to their schedules.

"The current fine is chump change to big contractors," he said. "It's not enough to make them stop or even to respect the rules. They're just going to keep working anyway."

Mayor Margaret Doud agreed, and added that the council should "put more teeth" into the ordinance.

The condos, originally constructed in 1987, were shut down in 1995 because of unsafe construction. They were able to reopen shortly after, and the revamped con- dos are now completely up to code, Ms. Held said.

"We've got a new roof, new stucco, and all the trimmings," she said. "They've been working around the clock, seven days a week, and they've done a great job."

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