Houghton hears master plan update

HOUGHTON – Houghton’s master plan update is coming into shape, City Councilor Mike Needham told the council at Wednesday’s meeting.

Needham also sits on the Planning Commission subcommittee that has been meeting once or twice a week to revise the plan. The group most recently met for an hour-and-a-half on Tuesday.

Needham said the document has been “gone over with a fine-toothed comb.” One of the subcommittee members will also be doing additional proofreading.

“Our anticipation is that we’ll be through this process with a relatively complete document to present to the Planning Commission one month from yesterday at the April meeting,” he said.

City Manager Scott MacInnes said the group had put a substantial amount of time into the project.

“I think you’re going to be very pleased when you see it,” he said.

In other action, the council:

met as the zoning board of appeals and approved a frontage landscaping variance for 305 W. Lakeshore Drive.

approved a project to improve the gateways to the city and construct wayfinding signs on M-26 and U.S. 41.

approved drawing down $1,513.50 in U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development funds for the city’s water and sewage project.

reappointed Jennifer Donovan to the Portage Lake District Library board for a four-year term.

heard a report from Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner. Streets had to be widened for the third time this winter, the most Zenner can recall it being done in at least 10 years. Banks will have to be cut back past the curb to expose more drainage in advance of warmer weather. Crews are trying to stay ahead of potholes with patching and repatching. Ed’s Used Parts on Pilgrim Road is now accepting some forms of electronic waste.

heard from Zenner the department plans to dig up and repair a 10-inch water main break today at Franklin Street and Houghton Avenue. There will be service interruptions today in a small area during the work. The area affected will be Montezuma Avenue to Sixth Avenue, Houghton Avenue from Prospect Street to Ripley Streets, Old Montezuma Avenue between Franklin Street and Ripley Street; Ruby Avenue between Prospect and Franklin; and a few homes on the dead end of Jasper.

heard a report from Police Chief John Donnelly. Since the previous meeting, there have been 117 complaints, seven misdemeanors, no felonies, 15 civil infractions and three city infractions. Officers are taking a class on the revised breathalyzer. Officer Zach Wheeler is at a Traffic Summit Committee meeting in Lansing; the trip was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The annual Pigs-N-Heat game raised around $12,000.

approved having Mayor Bob Backon sign a pre-application to USDA Rural Development for a new police vehicle. The grant would be $17,000; the city’s share is $25,500, which would come from the equipment fund. A public hearing will be held April 24.

set a public hearing for April 24 on changes to the sign ordinance. MacInnes said most of the changes pertain to the size of sign and electronic signs for the M-26/Sharon Avenue district.