Rezoning issued, permit for fourth cannabis retailer approved, and ordinances updated
Houghton City Council, Aug. 25, 2021
A citizen got up during the public comment session to express her appreciation of the city police department, for responding to a vehicle-pedestrian accident on their non-emergency line faster than 911. Police Chief John Donnelly said he was looking into what took the 911 operator so long during his report. The citizen said it took 15 rings for 911 to answer, while HPD picked up before the first ring finished.
The council had a public hearing on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance, which were recommended by the Houghton planning commission. One commercial property owner stood to support the changes, saying that they were long overdue. The council later passed the changes unanimously.
The council had another public hearing for an ordinance to rezone four plots of land from R3 to R4 to accommodate redevelopment into student housing with more limited, but indoor, parking.
Some other rental property owners objected to the change, because of the reduced parking requirements in R4, and their concerns that students without dedicated parking would instead park cars on streets and in commercial parking lots nearby, congesting traffic.
Others, including one property owner and a member of the planning commission, supported the rezoning as a step toward new development and supported limited or remote parking and expanding public transit for students, in part to limit traffic on the roads overall.
Several board members made comments before the vote supporting and explaining the possible benefits of approving the change.
The board passed the rezoning unanimously.
City Manager Eric Waara updated the council on a water leak, preparation for paving projects, and other work going on in the city, including the construction of the new pier which is in full swing now.
Waara reported that MDOT is nearing the completion of one part of the work on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and that the lanes should be wider for the next part, which will hopefully alleviate more traffic issues.
Waara also thanked everyone who participated in the census. Houghton grew by over 8%, and Houghton County was the only county in the UP to show any growth.
There’s no news on the development of the new Meijer store.
The council also honored the departing President of the Housing Commission, who served in various capacities for more than four decades.
Finally, the council approved a permit application for the Nirvana Center, which is planning to develop the former Bambu restaurant into a cannabis retailer.
The board approved the request unanimously, after some discussion of how many retailers would be allowed. City Manager Waara said the market and limited geographical area that zoning allows them in would dictate how many retailers exist in Houghton.