2016-12-08 / Front Page

City OKs Rental Housing Policies

Council Hears Update on Marina Season
By Erich T. Doerr

The St. Ignace City Council approved the zoning ordinance amendment regulating housing in the community at its Monday, December 5, meeting. The approval came following a long discussion and final changes to the amendment at a work session Monday, November 28.

The council unanimously approved the amendment as negotiated. It features several policies geared toward non-family dwellings, like those used by seasonal employees, including setting the amount of required square feet per person to a minimum of 200 square feet in the tourist business district and 240 square feet in residential areas. Most of the city’s existing rental properties will be grandfathered in unless they do not meet the city’s building code.

The amendment also removes all restrictions on the placement of boarding houses in the Tourist Business district. Boarding houses will not be allowed in the Downtown Business district, but apartment buildings are, with some already there.

The 2017 appropriations ordinance was introduced Monday and will be approved at the December 19 meeting. The budget anticipates expenditures of $7,418,094. Of this, the city will raise $1,582,208 through ad valorem taxes, which will require a tax levy of 19.6082 mills, based on a taxable value of $80,691,128.

The tax levy will be the same as this year, with 3.5 of those mills used for library, DDA, and recreation levies.

Fifteen public works and city hall employees will receive a 50¢ per-hour raise and four police union employees will receive a 3% raise in January, following a council vote based on the recommendation of the council’s Negotiations Committee. Mayor Connie Litzner noted that the city cannot afford raises that high every year, but noted city employees received no raises in 2014 and 2015.

The Downtown Development Authority raised $26,035 toward creation of St. Anthony’s Rock pocket park, so the city is eligible for a $25,000 state match. Construction on the downtown park will begin in the spring, said DDA Director Deb Evashevski.

Eighty-eight donors contributed from $10 to $2,000 to the project, and 31 donors who gave at least $250 were eligible to win a Mackinac Bridge tower tour. Mayor Litzner drew Marian King’s name from the hat.

The state match will come from the Michigan Economic Development

Corporation and Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Council approved a resolution requesting a land conveyance from the State of Michigan for a small piece of property near St. Anthony’s Rock. The conveyance was designed to remedy an error made in 1986 when the city mistakenly deeded the piece of property alongside several adjacent properties to the First National Bank of St. Ignace in exchange for land it was acquiring to set up a public street and parking areas. It was recently discovered that the city did not own the property at the time at the time it deeded it to the bank. The state owned the land, so the city has applied to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Real Estate Services to convey the land to the city for a nominal fee. Dennis Bradley of Mackinac Island now owns the property and will pay the fee, allowing him to clear the title on his land before he attempts to sell.

New projects at the city marina include a $1,180 Wi-Fi upgrade to improve boater Internet speed, a $13,000 sewer pump, and a winter painting of the main office. Marina Director Mike Singleton told Council he is also developing standard operating procedures over the winter for his employees next summer.

The sinkholes at the adjacent Chief Wawatam dock are exposing a utility conduit, and Mr. Singleton said he is looking at options to limit further erosion, including speaking with the Coast Guard about the possibility of putting up “no wake” signs.

The marina, he reported, sold about the same amount of fuel in 2016 as it did in 2015, with a good amount of repeat business, but revenue declined because of lower fuel prices. All of the marina’s employees are certified to sell fuel. The marina is joining a site that shows boaters its fuel prices in real time and has a message board to allow users to post comments about what they thought about the marina.

This year the St. Ignace Yacht Club helped the marina update its lounge area. The club added a minifridge and a new television and made several decorative touches.

Other improvements of late included repainting markings on the docks, installing LED lighting for the lighthouse, and a new arrangement with St. Ignace Police Chief Mark Wilk to allow for overnight trailer parking.

The marina had 42 seasonal rentals this year, two of which are unlikely to return next year. There are 23 people on a waiting list to fill open spots.

Council declined to purchase a tax-reverted parcel between Abe and Marley streets, offered by Mackinac County. The parcel is vacant, the house on it having been torn down. It would cost the city $15,875.43 to acquire the lot, and its use would be restricted to public use, such as a park.

Maverick Construction president Rob Fraser spoke to the council about his desire for his company and the city to enter mediation to settle unpaid bills related to projects it has done for the city. City attorney Tom Evashevski said the city needs additional information from Maverick regarding the work before the two sides can start the process. Both sides said they would like to avoid litigation related to the issue if possible. Mayor Litzner directed Mr. Evashevski to contact Mr. Fraser about the issue in the future.

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