Boyne City officials’ annual summit

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Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

What are Boyne City’s boards and commissions up to this year?

The highlights of Boyne City’s annual joint board and commission meeting, held on Tuesday Dec. 2, are as follows:

Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce

“The chamber is … in a real healthy position,” said Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann.

Baumann said the chamber has held several business seminars this year in addition to its monthly (10 times per year) business after hours events.

“It’s not hard to promote this community,” he said. “It’s a great community—lots of cool stuff going on.”
Baumann added, “We’re the envy of a lot of other communities in the area … and we’d just like to help keep it that way.”

Boyne City Election Commission

This three-person board includes Boyne City Clerk Cindy Grice, who spoke on the commission’s behalf. The other two members are Bill Stanley and Eleanor Stackus.

“We meet prior to each election, usually about five to six weeks out, and we appoint the election inspectors,” said Grice.

Grice said she goes through a list of trained inspectors to ensure both of the major parties—Republican and Democrat—are represented fairly equally.

Election costs for a regular city election is approximately $800.

Boyne City Historic District

The Boyne City Historic District recording secretary Michele Hewitt spoke on behalf of this group because its chair Jeff Wellman could not attend.

“The board meets approximately three times a year or if we have a request from a property owner to do renovations or reconstruction of a home that would require a special meeting of the board to review an application,” she said. “The board oversees and upholds the integrity of the district.”
The historic district board is currently working with the Boyne City Planning Department on the issue of general maintenance for homeowners within the district. The responsibility may be switched to the planning department.

Hewitt mentioned the historic 417 Boyne Ave. house has been purchased and will be renovated and used as a several-unit senior living project.
It will go from a five unit apartment to a four-unit apartment.

“The renovation will bring it back to its almost exact character and look of the house from when it was first built,” Hewitt said, adding that there will be some exceptions but most of the house will look as it did originally.

Board members also have undergone training sessions this year to help them better understand their responsibilities as board members and the process of application review.

Hewitt said there are no color restrictions for homes within the historic district.

Boyne City Historical Commission

The Boyne City Historical Commission oversees the Boyne City Historical Museum.

Hewitt, who is the chair of the historical commission, spoke on its behalf.

The commission has seven members and two vacancies currently.

The commission recently received a collection of Tigers baseball memorabilia, which includes jerseys, signed baseballs, autographed photos and more.

A committee for Boyne City’s 1917 American LaFrance firetruck will be formed for the 2017 anniversary of that historical vehicle.

The historical commission also assisted with a presentation concerning the historic Dilworth Hotel.

Boyne City House Commission

The Boyne City House Commission’s director was unavailable during the joint session. Boyne City Manager Michael Cain spoke on the board’s behalf.

“Things are going very well up there,” he said.

The housing commission board also has some open seats.

Boyne City Main Street & Downtown Development Authority Board

The Boyne City Main Street program still has no director after former program manager Hugh Conklin officially left the position back in August.

Boyne City Main Street Board Chairman Rob Swartz spoke on behalf of the program.

Main Street is broken into four major committees: promotions committee, design committee, economic restructuring under the name Team Boyne, and the organization committee.

Main Street is still accepting applications for a new program director.

Baumann discussed the Team Boyne aspect of Main Street.

“We’re getting about 20 people to come to the meetings,” said Baumann… “It’s a way for all of the … civic leaders to stay in touch and connect with each other.”

City leaders including the city manager, main street manager, library director, guest entrepreneurs, and county commissioners are just some of the people who attend.

Team Boyne also visits with local businesses every couple of years to hear from business owners on how they are doing, what their needs are and to discuss the climate of business in general.

Parks & Recreation

The Boyne City Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Mike Sheean spoke on behalf of his board.

“Our main function is to look over the parks and develop the capital improvement plan,” he said.

Several recent projects involving the parks and recreation commission include the new dog park, enhancement of the Avalanche Mountain bike trails, the disc golf course is continuing to be improved by its users, and the warming hut at the ice rink at Avalanche has been improved as well.

The parks and recreation commission has also been working on the Trail Town effort.

“If any of these type of projects float your boat … we always have openings on our commission,” said Sheean.

The parks and recreation five-year plan is also currently under review.

Planning Commission

Boyne City Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Chris Frasz said his board had several development plan reviews this year, including the Family Fare grocery store’s improvements and the Harborage storage facility.

“I think related to that specifically we’ve been spending a lot of time with signage to keep people in compliance or pull them to being smaller than what they could possibly do,” said Frasz.

Frasz also spoke about the McDonald’s expansion that is planned to begin in 2015.

And, he mentioned the new dog kennel that re-purposed an existing structure in the Air Industrial Park.

The planning commission is also working on updating its master plan.

The planning commission will be working on the food truck ordinance, the noise ordinance and the issue of drive-thrus in the downtown area.

Cain mentioned that the city submitted an application to the Michigan Municipal League for a place plans grant to help improve certain areas along the waterfront, including Peninsula Beach, Sunset Park and linkages to certain waterfront areas.

This is the third time the city has applied for this type of grant.

Zoning Board of Appeals

No one from the Boyne City Zoning Board of Appeals attended the meeting. However, Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson gave a brief overview of that board’s duties.

This five-member board is responsible for hearing appeals of the zoning ordinance or variance requests for people who wish to build contrary to the city’s zoning rules.

Over the past year there were roughly five or six variance requests, according to McPherson.

“That’s a good thing to have a small number,” said McPherson. “We want to make sure people understand that the board is not arbitrary in making their decisions. They have a very specific set series of standards they have to abide by … and we want to make sure that people who want to apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals understand that, and that they need to have a good rationale (for applying).”

Airport Advisory Board

Richard Bouters, of the 10-member Boyne City Airport Advisory Board, said his board advises the city regarding the health and safety of the airport.

The airport has nine hangars that the city rents to plane owners.

The city’s fuel is dispensed on the honor system, wherein pilots fuel their planes and keep track on slips of paper which are deposited at the airport. Bouters said the city has rarely had any issues with this arrangement.

Bouters also discussed the drag races, which have been held at the airport for many years, saying that this year’s were the best in a long time, and that it looks as though the event will continue at the airport.

The airport also stores trailers for the municipal marina, and has worked to provide a courtesy car for pilots.

The airport board is working on a policy regarding the courtesy car since the airport is generally unattended.

“We’d really like to so some … interior improvements on the terminal,” said Bouters, adding that the area is outdated and less welcoming than it could be.

Board of Review

Oral Sutliff, Chairman of the Board of Review, discussed his board’s duty—which is to review petitions homeowners submit when they feel the state’s valuation of their home is inaccurate.

Boyne District Library

The library’s director could not attend the session due to a scheduling conflict. Cain said probably the biggest issue facing the library is the amount of space it has and what it will ever do with the big red barn it purchased several years ago.

Boyne City

Compensation Commission

Grice said the commission only meets on odd numbered years. The commission had no business this last calendar year.

The commission considers whether to increase city commission pay from time to time to help cover costs of internet, travel and other expenses which may be related to serving on the city commission.


The Boyne City Economic Development Corporation and the Local Development Finance Authority oversee the Boyne City Industrial Park, to try to attract and retain businesses.

“It’s been sort of a year in the industrial park,” said EDC/LDFA Chairman Ralph Gillett. “We are currently undergoing a study for drainage issues that we have on the east side of the industrial park, trying to catch that rainwater and the runoff and treat it and then releasing it down into the Boyne River Valley and through the wetlands and into the Boyne River.”

Boyne City Public Schools

Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Peter Moss said he is always impressed with the effective collaboration the school has with local governments.

Moss said he has been working closely with the Boyne City Police Department to improve school security.

“We continue to find ways to create relationships with our local manufacturing,” said Moss. “We’re looking at ways to be relevant with our school and what we do.”

Moss said one of the school’s problems is that over 70 percent of their students go to college, leaving fewer people who go into the manufacturing field, which has been short on skilled workers for years.

Moss also discussed contract negotiations.

“We were in contract negotiations and quietly we got it done about a month or two ago,” he said. “So, we have both our employee groups … have contracts. No one lost their jobs. No one took a cut in pay. Yet, the board maintained three important goals.”
The three main goals were to retain core programming, student to teacher ratios and be a prudent steward of resources with at least 10 percent fund equity.

“It got a little contentious but I think both groups rallied and came out with a good solution,” said Moss.

Boyne City Police Department

Boyne City Police Chief Jeff Gaither discussed some of his department’s public outreach efforts, which included a bike ride for kids with helmet giveaways, the D.A.R.E. anti-drug program, a walk/run to help fund drug education programs.

At the local schools, the police can log into the school’s camera to monitor any issues which may occur

The police also make random visits to the school to make contact with students and staff in order to provide security and build relationships with students and staff.
Gaither said his officers also visit the playgrounds and have lunch with students to build trust and positive relationships.

The police have also updated their computer systems, which were paid for through grant moneys.

All three of the city’s squad cars have in-car video systems to monitor traffic stops.

This past year a new officer was hired, and each car has a new laptop computer system—also paid for by a grant.

Gaither said he and his officers are also continuously undergoing training to stay abreast of new programs and issues facing police departments.

Officers have also received evidence training and at least one officer has undergone special autism training, which will allow the police force to better handle autistic citizens.

“One of the big things that came out this year … was community crisis support,” said Gaither, who added that a grassroots effort in the community working with the city police which then worked with the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s office to help begin the newly formed Victim’s Services Unit.

Boyne City Commission

Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said everything the city has worked on in the past year was relevant to the city’s main goals, adding that he wants to really focus on the future of Boyne City’s facilities.

Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he appreciates all the volunteers on the various commissions.

“It’s an example of putting something beyond yourself,” he said. “Everybody puts in the hard work and they pick topics that interests them and excites them and when that happens you have synergistic result.”
Gaylord added, “I am humbled and honored to represent the citizens of Boyne City.”

Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she sees Boyne City’s successes snowballing, and thanked everyone for their hard work.

Cain closed the meeting by mentioning that the city has received the permits to improve its marina. He also said the activities like the mayor exchange are always educational and helpful to Boyne City officials as they seek to improve the city. Cain said there is also a new issue of a company that wants to install distributed antenna systems, which the city will have to deal with.

If you are interested on serving on any of these boards, or for more information in general, call Boyne City Hall at (231) 582-6597 for seat availability, term lengths and meeting times and dates.