By Pat Maurer
Ordinance changes headed up the agenda items at Monday’s Clare City Commission meeting.
The controversial issue of whether or not dogs should be allowed in the Cherry Grove Cemetery was the first item of new business and scheduled for a “first reading.”
In his report, City Manager Ken Hibl (who was on vacation at the time of the meeting) wrote that the proposed ordinance amendment was developed “based on recurring concerns expressed to the City regarding the lack of owner control of dogs (resulting in animal urination and defecation on grave sites) in the Cherry Grove Cemetery.”
Hibl said both the Cemetery Advisory Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had been asked to review the matter and make recommendations on changes to the existing ordinances, which do not address the matter of domestic animals in the cemetery.
The change recommended “stipulates that animals in the cemetery must be leashed and that urination or defecation by animals will be considered malicious destruction of property with the animal owner held accountable, responsible and potentially liable as provided by the law,” Hibl wrote.
At the meeting, Commissioner Tom Koch, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Mayor Pat Humphrey and Mayor Pro-tem Jean McConnell, said, “I can certainly see why people would be upset about this. I don’t understand why none of these advisory committees couldn’t have done this any stronger. I would like to see more teeth to this.”
Commissioner Bob Bonham agreed with Koch, but said, “I just don’t see how we are going to enforce this. I don’t see how this could even be enforced.” He suggested placing a sign at the cemetery entrances with the new rules.
Treasurer Steve Kingsbury, who was acting City Manager while Hibl was on vacation, said, “I agree that this is a good first step but also agree with the concerns over enforcing this.” He continued, “If the commissioners wish to alter this [ordinance amendment], it needs to be outlined tonight and brought back to the Commission for another first reading. If this [matter] goes to a second reading, those people [with concerns] will address the commission. They will be here in November.”
Another ordinance change, limiting fireworks discharge in the city, was next for Commission consideration.
The first reading of the amendment, which would limit fireworks displays to the day before, day of and day following a holiday, was held following a public hearing. The amendment also restricts the sale of fireworks to Commercial (C-1 and C-2) districts in the city.
The third Public Hearing was for a proposed amendment that deals with garage sales and changes the maximum during of a sale to three days and limits the permits for one location to no more than twice a year. It also says an individual may not be issued a permit on the behalf of another. It would not affect businesses, Kingsbury said, but is limited to residential sales.
There wasn’t any public comment at any of the three Public Hearings and all three were approved to go to a second hearing.
The Commission also approved 3-0 an additional expense of $2,108 over the amount previously approved for a replacement well near the Hatton Township Landfill site. The new well had to be drilled deeper than expected to be free of contaminants, Hibl wrote in his report.
The board also approved the expenditure of $20,030 to purchase 28 protective vests for full-time, part-time and auxiliary police officers as recommended by the city’s insurance carrier, who said they should be replaced every five to six years. The funds were included in the city budget.
In other business Monday, Clare City:
*Heard a presentation from Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis on the activities of the office. Ambrozaitis is running for re-election.
*Heard from Clare County Clerk/Register of Deeds candidate Kim Davis on her qualifications for the position.
*Approved the reappointment of Amy Kunse to the Zoning Board of Appeals and Bethany Mittan to the Cemetery Board.
*Heard a report from Treasurer and Technology Director Steve Kingsbury that reported on the progress of Broadband service to the county. He said there are now 12 towers for wireless service.
*Read in City Manager Ken Hibl’s report that construction on the city’s new pump station is ready to begin. The proposed schedule calls for completion of the new lift station by next spring.