Smartzone CEO visits the council, dangerous buildings code and zoning ordinance updates nearing completion
Hancock City Council, Oct. 20, 2021
Editor’s Note: I feel like I have a handle on the echo in this room, but the fans for the heater ran through the entire meeting this week. I did what I could to clean it out, but there’s a pretty noticeable warble in the audio nonetheless.
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David Rowe, who took over as the CEO of MTEC SmartZone on the first of August this year, introduced himself to the Hancock City Council.
Rowe grew up in the area before moving to Denver for work and moved back to this area in 2013. He has a variety of business development experience.
He shared with the council some of the successes he’s seen already in the last seven weeks with funding and development of new, local, technology-based businesses.
He also touted the past and coming visit by delegations from Finland as part of the FinnZone initiative.
The council took up the discussion of an amendment of the dangerous buildings code for Hancock, which City Manager Mary Babcock said would update the current ordinance to align with the state of Michigan’s rules to make proceedings easier and give the city more latitude.
The ordinance was drafted and approved by the city attorney.
Under the new statute, there is a provision that would make ignoring an order from the council a misdemeanor.
“Normally we try to make things a civil infraction,” Mayor Paul LaBine said.
He said he wasn’t comfortable with anything the council ordered ending with sending people to jail, and that a civil infraction, which doesn’t involve jail time, was easier to execute.
The rest of the council agreed after a few minutes of discussion and asked that the provision be changed to a civil infraction.
The ordinance change will need to go to a public hearing, Babcock said she would get the change made before the proposed ordinance is published for the hearing.
Out of concern for the near-finalized zoning ordinance, members of the planning commission including Councilor Kurt Rickard advocated for avoiding filling the recently vacated seat on the commission. The concern is that a new member may want to make significant changes and delay the long-awaited process.
Councilor Whitney Warstler refrained from participating in the discussion because applicant Adam Griffis is her husband. Mayor LaBine said that wasn’t an eliminating factor for Griffis because there was already precedent for that situation.
Present members of the commission agreed to meet with Griffis, the sole applicant for the open position, at the next planning commission meeting and talk about how to proceed.
Councilor John Haeussler was absent from the meeting and excused by the other councilors.
The city has been approved for a grant that will help fund electric vehicle charging stations in Hancock.
A new website for the city is nearing completion.
The city has been receiving good feedback on the location and progress of the dog park. It should be minimally open before the end of the season and open through the winter with the help of volunteers before more equipment is installed next year.
Hancock is hosting a holiday decorating contest again this year, with the theme of The Grinch/Whoville.
Refill UP is opening in Hancock to offer a waste-free option for refilling household soaps and detergents.
Sunshine Coffee and Used Books is opening soon near Finlandia University’s campus.
Kangas Cafe is for sale.
James DeClerck was appointed to the Board of Review with a term ending on Dec. 31, 2024.
The city council approved the purchase of code enforcement tracking software from Comcate.
Councilor Rick Freeman Jr thanked the police for their diligent patrolling near the school during student commuting hours.