Calumet Village Council working to pass new rules of procedure, considering short-term rental ordinances, launches negotiation team
Calumet Village Council, Oct. 19, 2021
Editor’s Note: This is not the story I set out to put together. I intend to have coverage of the Calumet Village Council much like what I’ve been producing for the cities of Houghton and Hancock, but there are some technical hurdles to overcome, just as there were when I first started there. Please bear with me as I adapt to these new challenges.
Draft rules of procedure reviewed, criticized by public
The hot topic of Calumet Village’s public comment section was new rules of procedure that the council has drafted and is looking to pass (p. 13 of the Agenda and Documents above). These rules govern how the council plans their meetings, discusses matters, appoints new members to vacant seats, and votes on things.
Some of the attendees expressed frustration that a council consisting of some different members had passed other rules last November but that the council did not follow them. They asked what the purpose of the new rules was if they were going to be ignored.
Councilors countered that the purpose was to update the rules to match what they intended their procedures to be, but that in any case, the rules were not binding.
The document says the council adopts Roberts Rules of Order “as a guide”, and then follows with several provisions. Of special note is the procedure for replacing village councilors, as there are currently two vacant seats on the council.
The council “may or may not appoint persons to fill such vacancies”.
Planning commission continues to tweak zoning ordinances
Colleen Kobe, the chairperson for the Calumet Planning Commission, stood to give a report on the development of the new Calumet Village Zoning Ordinance. She highlighted two topics she thought the council should consider before the new ordinance come to a public hearing.
The first was short-term rentals, often referred to as AirBnBs. Because they are not defined in the ordinance, they are not a legally permissible land use anywhere in the village, even though some apartments within the village are evidently being rented out through these arrangements.
STRs do not fall into the same category as a bed and breakfast under Calumet’s ordinance because the owner or operator is not on-site during the time of the guest’s stay.
Kobe said they could either continue to omit STRs and they would continue to be a non-permitted use, or they could define them and add them to certain districts, or they could create an entirely separate STR ordinance and add it as a regulated use in the new zoning ordinance.
Members of the village council agreed to collect information about other local STR ordinances, particularly Hancock and Houghton’s, and talk about what they would like to see and what is practical for Calumet during their next work session.
The other topic was marijuana manufacture and sales, which is currently disallowed in Calumet. Buffer zones included in the state law mean that nowhere within the village is allowable for a marijuana business without a special exemption being carved out in zoning.
Kobe said in a memo (p. 29-30 in the Documents) that personally, with marijuana purchases available in Houghton and likely elsewhere soon, she didn’t feel the time necessary to work on a marijuana ordinance was worth taking that time away from things like the STR ordinance and completing the rest of the overhaul.
“Adding marijuana to the workload stops progress in our tracks,” she wrote.
The council discussed having a village-wide referendum to see if village members favored an ordinance allowing marijuana businesses to be developed and decided it was worth it for some clear direction on the matter, as the only other vote data they have is for the statewide law, not a local ordinance.
Negotiation strategy agreed upon with Calumet Theatre
While members of the council had hoped to be able to negotiate behind closed doors with the entire council in attendance, that process is disallowed under the Open Meetings Act.
Instead, a negotiation team consisting of two members of the council and the village manager will meet privately with theatre representatives to come to a new draft lease agreement, which will then be presented to the entire village council at a public meeting for approval.
Councilor Elise Matz said she felt like everyone was on the same page now, it was just a matter of executing an agreement.
The November meeting has been moved to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16.