Boyne City Commissioners met on Tuesday July 9 to discuss business during their regular bi-monthly board meeting.
Topics discussed included a potential placemaking grant, changes to the city’s zoning ordinance pertaining to sidewalk cafes and improvements to city streets.
“Do we have any specific things we’re going to go after,” said Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom regarding a $5,000 placemaking grant available to several Northern Michigan counties including Charlevoix County.
According to the Placemaking Micro-Grants Program, “placemaking” is a community-based approach to involving the discovery and implementation of practices that make communities distinctive, economically viable, accessible and visually pleasing.
“Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and economic well-being,” the July 1 memo to Boyne City stated. “In support of assisting communities with their placemaking goals, the Placemaking Micro-Grants Program is intended to provide resources to communities looking to realize their placemaking efforts.”
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said he is in discussions with various city officials to determine what amount of the grant, if any, will be applied for.
“I’ve sent out e-mails asking a variety of people for different ideas with regards to it,” he said. “We’re looking at things such as park furnishings, there’s been some discussions focused around Old City Park at this point but they aren’t ready to come back to the city commission at this point. But, preliminarily, we are looking at possible signage in the park, possibly adding Wi-Fi to the site and/or some park furnishings to help that site out as well.”
The placemaking grant applications are due by Aug. 2.
Noise ordinance request
An old issue is new again in that some residents who live near the Thirsty Goat bar and restaurant in downtown Boyne City have concerns over the volume of music and how late it is played. Complaints were similarly made to the city in years past when the business location operated under a different name with different ownership.
During the public comment portion of the Boyne City Commission Meeting, John McCahan told commissioners that the music being played has gone from just after 1 a.m. on some nights to nearly 2:30 a.m.
“Lately they haven’t been too family-friendly to my family and some other families in the Atrium (apartments) or some families that live across the street,” McCahan said. “It has gotten much more difficult. Last year was much more tolerable.”
McCahan, who has approached the city commission in the past with concerns that the city has no noise ordinance, once again pleaded with the city about the need for an ordinance.
“I think it’s just too bad. I think the business community has such a hold of power in this town that they’re just scared to death of a noise ordinance,” he said. “I also think any town worth anything would try to protect its residents from unreasonable noise with a well-thought-out noise ordinance.”
McCahan added, “It’s been just two months shy of four years since the court threw out the noise ordinance in this town—how much longer do we have to stall?”
No action was taken.
Pleasant Avenue & Division Street project updates
According to Boyne City Director of Public Works Andy Kovolski, the city has an additional $44,000 in street project road funds available to it which it can direct at the Pleasant Avenue and Division Street project.
“Mike (Cain) and I talked and we felt that adding some storm sewers to that section of road would be a good improvement and actually be very helpful,” Kovolski said. “Currently, that storm sewer stops after the first block south of Division. Right now we’re carrying all the water that comes from the city limits on Division down the hill to that point.”
Kovolski said the extra water is causing abrasion and degradation of the areas affected.
Kovolski said there is also some sewer pipe that still needs to be upgraded.
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said while he was glad there was extra money available, he noted that there would still be some additional cost to the city in matching funds.
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne agreed with Neidhamer that the city should go forward with a plan to increase the project to include additional storm sewer and drainage pipe in the original reconstruction plan.
The additional storm sewer costs would be increased by $69,400—the original cost of the project was estimated to be $53,850.
The $44,000 grant moneys would come from Federal Surface Transportation Program funding.
The additional sewer pipe that needs to be replaced involves a 200-foot section from Division Street north to Morgan Street which needs to be up-sized from 15-inch to 24-inch. This would cost an estimated additional $3,400 in engineering and $30,000 in construction costs.
The project additions were approved unanimously.
ordinance second reading
The second reading of the new sidewalk cafe ordinance took place after Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson gave commissioners an overview of the ordinance procedure up until now.
The major changes involved a new exclusion which would prevent alcohol from being served in outdoor cafes; also removed was a previous rule which forced business owners to put tables indoors at night when their businesses were closed.
Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord asked for clarification on whether any businesses would be excluded from taking advantage of the ordinance due to their physical layout.
“I want to make sure we’re not, at this time, excluding any one particular location or locations,” he said.
There was concern that there be a free-flowing zone on sidewalks and that they not be encumbered by tables and chairs from restaurants.
Sansom asked if there was a need to require businesses erect railings in the ordinance.
McPherson said he did not believe so.
“With the number of people that came through over this holiday I can’t for the life of me imagine four-foot of walkway space accommodating people,” she said. “I almost feel like it’s not enough.”
Sansom asked if the ordinance could be changed from four feet of space on sidewalks to five feet of space.
Cain said there has not been a problem with the current width of four feet, so there did not seem to be any reason to increase the required width.
Towne said it was already next to impossible to walk down the sidewalk during Stroll the Streets and that he had concerns about allowing the cafes to operate during those events.
Towne also expressed concern that safety could be an issue with rooftop cafes.
Neidhamer expressed support of the new ordinance and maintaining the current width of sidewalk space.
“I think it’s working. I don’t think we need to overdo it,” he said.
The new ordinance on sidewalk cafes is a stand-alone ordinance that addresses businesses in the Central Business District; it is no longer a part of the city’s overall zoning ordinance. The reason it was taken out of the zoning ordinance is that zoning ordinances must allow the “grandfathering” of certain rights.
The second reading was approved unanimously.