2013-05-31 / Top News

Two Laws Will See Enforcement Stepped Up, City Says

By Stephanie Fortino

Two city ordinances will receive special enforcement attention this summer, and the city wants citizens to be prepared. At the Mackinac Island City Council meeting Wednesday, May 29, Alderwoman Anneke Myers noted that the new building key safe ordinance will become effective in August and that the city will begin enforcing its existing ordinance banning window air conditioners in the commercial district.

Other action included the repair of potholes on Astor and Hoban streets, and a sign variance for the new ice cream parlor at Grand Hotel. A discussion about who has responsibility for issuing business licenses contained in a report elsewhere in this issue of the Town Crier.

Citizens can expect to receive a letter from the city describing the coming ordinance enforcement sometime soon. The streets committee was also scheduled to discuss the street repair at a meeting Thursday, May 30, at 4 p.m.

The city’s Fire Prevention Rapid Entry Equipment Ordinance, which was adopted last August, will be enforced later this summer. The ordinance requires multi-family residential structures with more than three units, schools, commercial or industrial structures larger than 1,500 square feet that are not staffed 24 hours a day, and governmental structures or nursing homes that are not staffed 24 hours a day, to install key safes near front entrances.

Knox-Box is the brand of key safe in use by the city. They are tamper proof and can only be opened with a special key held by the fire department. The safes contain keys to the building and will allow firefighters access to buildings without force, and will help reduce costs and time when responding to an emergency.

Property owners have a year from the time the ordinance was passed, or until August 27, to install the steel box or be subject to a fine. A catalog is available from the fire department, and the boxes can also be ordered online. A special registration number is used when ordering to ensure the boxes are keyed to the Mackinac Island Fire Department’s system.

As an extension of an ongoing Zoning Ordinance Review Committee discussion, Mrs. Myers also wants property owners in the commercial zoning district to be reminded that window-mounted air conditioners are not allowed. Other air-conditioning models are available for use, Mrs. Myers pointed out.

The ordinance has not been enforced in years past, but it will be soon. Part of the problem with enforcement was that the city, itself, did not comply, as city employee housing often had window units. But Police Chief Jim Marks told the city council that he already has spoken with his employees about the ordinance, and they will comply with it.

Window units drip on people walking below, said Alderwoman Kay Hoppenrath. Zoning administrator Dennis Dombroski added that they can also block a window exit to the outside, creating a safety hazard.

Council also discussed the potholes on Astor and Hoban streets at length, and city streets administrator Mr. Dombroski suggested that the two streets should be completely repaved, but also receive temporary cold patch fixes. He asked to purchase the cold patch to do so.

Council approved Mr. Dombroski’s request, but with the condition that the Street Committee approved the plan as well when it met the following day.

According to Mr. Dombroski, the earliest a contractor can make it to the Island to repave the streets would be mid-June. Council members worried that the Island may be too busy at that point and also wondered if crews could work through the evening to repair the roads, instead of closing down the two side streets during the daytime. Mr. Dombroski did not know if that could work, but said he would investigate the possibility.

Until the streets can be repaired, Mr. Dombroski suggested that the city approve the purchase of two pallets of cold patch to temporarily fix the potholes, but council members raised concerns about the longevity of cold patch fixes.

When repairing potholes properly, the areas must be dug down about two inches, Mr. Dombroski said, and more material should be spread over the edges of the hole to secure it. He said cold patches elsewhere on the Island that did not last were done quickly and without the attention to detail with which downtown potholes will be fixed.

The city already has bags of cold patch, noted citizen Ben Horn, who learned of the inventory after conversations with City Foreman Cub Horn, but Mr. Dombroski clarified that the 11 bags are not enough to fix all the potholes. Instead, those bags will be used to patch the smaller holes on city streets until more cold patch can be ordered.

The city has $10,000 budgeted for street repair and $3,000 set aside specifically for cold patching, according to Mrs. Myers.

The Mackinac Island Fire Department was given permission to establish and maintain a cadet program designed to introduce people ages 15 to 17 to the volunteer service. Assistant Fire Chief Sam Barnwell said some high school students already have shown an interest.

Mayor Doud noted the department has lost two men recently, Armin Horn, who passed away, and Steve Zacharias, who has moved off the island.

Alderman Jason St. Onge, also a firefighter, said a similar program some years ago is what attracted him to the department.

Council also authorized the fire department to spend up to $1,800 for three nozzles for Engine 1, to apply for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources volunteer assistant grant, and to spend up to $1,600 for a meter to detect multiple gasses, including chlorine.

Grand Hotel was granted a sign variance for its new Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor at the east entrance to the hotel lobby. The city received no opposition to the variance at a public hearing on the matter just prior to the city council meeting.

The business is on a corner with two entrances, so it is allowed four signs, which it has incorporated into its four window awnings. The fifth sign, which needed the variance, is a incorporated into its four window awnings. The fifth sign, which needed the variance, is a small sign posted in the garden announcing its affiliation with an ice cream maker.

Mayor Doud was authorized to sign a contract with Colonial Fireworks Company for the Fourth of July fireworks display. A deposit of $7,500, half the cost of the display, will be mailed to the company as soon as possible.

Council also granted three temporary motor vehicle permits and four temporary trailer permits.

Two resolutions adopted by the city council thank R. Dan Musser III and Mr. Barnwell for their service on the city council.

A truth in taxation hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, at 4:45 pm.

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