Changes made to Calumet ordinances

CALUMET – Members of the Calumet Village Council made changes to two ordinances Thursday during a council meeting rescheduled from June 18 when there weren’t enough members for a quorum.

The ordinances under consideration involved the village’s Historic District Commission and building inspections.

Village President Dave Geisler said the existing HDC ordinance was more inclusive than Michigan law regarding historic districts, and after being examined by a downstate attorney, suggestions were made to change the village ordinance.

“The purpose of this review was to bring an existing ordinance into compliance with state law,” he said.

Geisler said in the revised ordinance, some sections were considered broader than what is in state law. If approved, the new ordinance would be used as guidelines by the HDC members.

The HDC ordinance concerns building exteriors only, Geisler said.

However, Trustee Tim Bies said he was concerned about one provision in the ordinance which stated HDC officials or their agents may enter a building, which is in a state of decay to make repairs to stabilize it when the owner hasn’t made sufficient repairs, and the village would charge the owner for the costs of the repairs.

“I don’t know where we have the right to cross that line,” he said.

Geisler said in a case of “demolition by neglect” the first step would be to try to work out an arrangement with the owner to get the building in a stable condition.

“It’s really persuasion,” he said.

If an arrangement to get a building stabilized failed, Geisler said then the village may take action.

Trustees voted 4 to 2 to accept the revisions of the HDC ordinance, with Bies and Trustee Tom Bowles voting no.

Council members also discussed repealing six village ordinances regarding building inspections and turning those functions over to the Houghton County Building Department.

Geisler said since the Houghton County Building Department has more expertise in making inspections, the village ordinance committee recommended turning that function over to county inspectors.

“In light of the fact building codes are becoming more complex, that made sense,” he said.

Todd LeRoux of the Houghton County Building Department, who was at the meeting, said having all the village building inspections done by one entity would make the process function better.

“Having electrical, plumbing and mechanical under one roof would be more efficient for the village,” he said.

Council members unanimously approved transferring the village building inspection function to Houghton County without discussion.

In other business, council members:

approved accepting a grant for $15,000 to do electrical work on the second floor of the Upper Peninsula Firefighters Memorial Museum.

heard from Department of Public Works Director Steve Kellow the DPW was recently fined by the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration for several violations, but he is writing a letter to the agency stating he thinks the fines were unreasonable.