HARRISON – In compliance with the recently tightened rules on indoor gatherings, the first August meeting of the Harrison City Council was once again done virtually. Attending remotely were council members Connie Cauchi, Angela Kellogg, Dan Sullivan, Dave Rowe and Joni Ashcroft.
This meeting was led by Sullivan, mayor pro tem, as mayor Stacy Stocking was recovering from a recent surgery. Thus, the Mayor’s Report actually became a report on the well-being of the mayor.
“Stacy’s doing well,” said Tracey Connelly, city manager/clerk. “His voice is still low, he’s up walking around and he may come home tomorrow.”
Visiting the meeting was Doug Jacobsen, Mid Michigan College trustee, who informed that he is again running to be re-elected in November to one of two positions, in a field of three candidates. He said he has been a trustee for 30 years, 25 of which he served as chairman. Jacobsen said he is attempting to get out to all the township and city meetings, whether in person or via Zoom.
At this point, council member Dave Rowe explained that he had invited Maye Tessner-Rood to attend the virtual meeting in order to thank you for her tireless work she has been doing for veterans and for Veterans Freedom Park.
“Being a veteran myself, I appreciate everything you do, and I want to thank you,” Rowe said.
He then asked how much the Veterans Freedom Run brought in.
“Approximately $1,300 so far,” Tessner-Rood said. “We’re not quite to the half-way mark, but I have some more shirts that are being sold and a little more money from the silent auction. My goal was $10,000 so we’ve already topped that. So, I’m happy with that. Thank you so much.”
Rowe commended Tessner-Rood on the event, adding that he really enjoyed it himself.
“A lot of community support,” she said. “I get a lot of credit, but the credit goes to our community; they supported this 100% and I can’t thank them enough.”
Tessner-Rood then told council members to mark Jan. 16 on their calendars – the next Snowball.
Under Old Business, Council considered a sample resolution for solar panels, which had been introduced at a previous meeting as an investment that would save the city a tremendous amount of energy cost. Two representatives of the company proposing to provide the panels were on hand to answer questions.
When asked whether there had ever been problems with vandalism of the panels, it was explained that if a ground-mount was done, it is important that it be surrounded by protective fencing. He added that most of the proposed project would be roof-mounted, making vandalism less likely.
It also was explained that the installation designs which had been submitted were completely flexible, and could be adjusted to whatever the site requires. Council member Ashcroft then moved to pass the resolution for solar panels, seconded by Rowe. A unanimous vote carried the resolution, moving the solar panel project forward.
Council then moved on to review of the city’s chicken ordinance, beginning with Ashcroft providing an overview of the workshop which preceded the council meeting. She said that included discussion of amending the ordinance to allow chickens.
“We looked at several ordinances from around the state,” Ashcroft said. “And Jaynie [Heoroff/city attorney] is going to go through the process of drafting an ordinance, with some restrictions so we maintain some order and limit the number, not have roosters, things like that.”
She said that once the ordinance is drafted, it will be brought to Council for a first reading, hopefully, at the Aug. 24 meeting, then Council will move forward from there.
Ashcroft said that the ordinances which had been reviewed allow an average of six chickens, with a maximum of 10.
It was also explained that, in the meantime, ordinance violation citation issuance would be on hold, unless the birds manage to free themselves and start running around the neighborhood.
Moving on to Reports of Committees and Department Heads, fire chief Chris Damvelt said the previous month was busy with 50 runs, with 12 runs to-date for August, putting the department over 200 for the year.
Damvelt also noted there had been progress with the USDA on the new fire department truck. He said the final paperwork had been completed that day, and now he is awaiting approval.
Connelly provided the Department of Public Works report on behalf of Sam Russell, saying it is being considered to put up security cameras at the splash pad, and that he was researching prices. She said there hadn’t been anything “too serious,” but that there had been some problems in the bathroom portion of the site.
Connelly also reported that the Michigan Municipal League annual meeting, Sept. 9 through Oct. 2, would be conducted virtually. None of the council members expressed interest in attending, so Connelly moved ahead to point out the Clare County Sheriff Department report for the city [Area 39] and the July fire department runs for the city.
Cauchi reported on a recent Budd Lake Association meeting, informing of a public hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 at Harrison City Hall.
“They’re raising the tax bill in December,” she said. “It’s $200 for waterfront, $100 added on per additional lot, $100 for the back lots, and the $50 additional for lots. Commercial pays more.”
Connelly clarified that meeting would likely be held on the lawn, due to attendance capacity limits.
Mike Freeman, code enforcement officer, reported that grass height enforcement was going smoothly, but that he was still not able to deal with a lot of the vehicles in town due to the pandemic.
“I have spoken with some people to let them know that it is being watched anyway,” he said, adding that he had a couple training classes coming up, which he expected would help with paperwork.
Under New Business, Council heard a request from David Carmine for the installation of a bench at the library, beneath the overhang. Carmine said he was bringing this request on behalf of another person who had concern for weather/heat exposure when attending virtual meetings outside the library, as well as the difficulty for persons with a walker going across M-61 to access the bus stop on Second Street.
Council also heard a first reading of ordinances: 2020-7 Numbering Buildings, and 2020-8 Duty of Occupant of Owner (revised).
Harrison City Council meets at 6 p.m. the first and third Mondays of the month at Harrison City Hall, 2105 Sullivan Drive.