Keweenaw Board showed courage in zone reversal

On Wednesday night the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners did something that you almost never see from an elected board.

Essentially, the board admitted they were wrong, and took action to correct it.

You might remember back in June the county sent letters to RV owners saying they could not keep their RVs on their property for more than 90 days.

To be fair, this wasn’t a new regulation. In fact such an ordinance had been on the books for some time. What made the June letters significant, is that it marked the first time the county was actually going to enforce it.

As you might expect the letters were not viewed as good news by the county’s RV owners, many of whom had permanent residences outside of Keweenaw County.

Some felt they were being punished or treated like second-class citizens compared to those who resided in Keweenaw County permanently.

Almost immediately, commissioners did something that is rarely seen in politics … they listened to the complaints, even though many of them were from property owners who were not registered to vote in Keweenaw County.

And after they listened, they acted. First to act was the county’s planning commission, who made recommendations to the board of commissioners. In Thursday’s DMG Page 1 story, Garrett Neese reported Ann Gasperich, the county’s zoning administrator who took the bulk of last summer’s criticism, told the board the amendments would bring about 85 percent of the violators into compliance.

The board replaced the blanket “90 days and that’s it” policy with one designed to encourage the construction of permanent structures on vacant lots. It’s not easy to admit a mistake, and we’re not saying the board erred by choosing to enforce an existing statute. But we do feel the board acted hastily and without giving proper thought to any ramifications resulting from the June letter.

We’re glad they decided to take another look. And we’re glad they had the courage to do something about it.