The format for my council notes is changing to be less formal and more true to my personal experience of the meeting. Background information is included in italics.
The resolution approving a site plan for 8825 Vincent/3900 Christopher was removed from the agenda by the EM. This may be due to an unanswered question regarding the existence of an easement for a water main that runs through the property.
The news crews from FOX2 and WDIV were obviously set up to run a story about citizens being outraged by the shooting at Club Aces last weekend, but only one very level-headed neighbor and Cathie Gordon spoke about it during public comment.
Apparently none of this talk was saucy enough because FOX2 used footage of a man speaking in support of backyard chickens and goats during the public hearing on the animal rights ordinance for their story.
The last time there was a shooting at the club, an estoppel agreement was signed between the owner and the city to change the format to LGBT and eliminate radio promotions, an agreement that they have never followed. The club also agreed to pay the Hamtramck Police Department for a security detail outside. Cathie Gordon made the point during public comment that the club owes the city $60,000 for police services that were rendered, and then faulted the mayor for not knowing about the expiration of that agreement a month ago.
Cathie and Mickey Pokoj also spoke against the Animal Rights ordinance. Their main complaint seemed to be that some people don’t clean up after their current pets, and the new ordinance allowed more of them. A third resident thought that it would be messy and bad for the city. I spoke in favor of the ordinance and in support of vegetable gardens in front.
Under new business, the EM requested permission to take out an emergency loan for 10 years at 2.3% to finance MERS payments that were missed. Anam asked if there were plans to pay back a $500,000 loan from the water and sewer fund. Bhama Cairns, our city controller, said that they are trying to pay back the loan by the end of this fiscal year. Payments to MERS are current outside of those missed in 2010. Anam complained that Cathy Square didn’t appear to give the information to the council herself, and that the council isn’t privy to any plans to repay the loan from the water fund, let alone this loan. Karen remembered that the city applied for a similar loan before, and it was ultimately rejected. Bhama Cairns replied that the state is encouraged by the cost reduction amounts and cash flows.
Mohammed claimed that they know how to fix the budget and that they only brought in the emergency manager to reduce costs. He thinks that the manager is adding employees and not fixing anything, and claimed that there are shortfalls of $3-4 million dollars coming.
Karen supported the application, though she thinks the approval of this loan by the state is duplicitous because the city wouldn’t have needed the EM if they were given the loan before. According to Bob, Cathy Square told him that the MERS funding shortfall isn’t her responsibility to fix because it was the doing of the council, and Karen complained that the emergency manager is supposed to stabilize the city financially, regardless of when the costs were incurred.
Bob supported the loan because if the payment isn’t made to MERS, it will push the city into bankruptcy. He also lamented that this is exactly the same thing that happened the last time the city was in receivership; the budget gaps were filled with bonding, and the city spent years paying the debt off.
The application was approved 5-1, with Mohammed voting against it.
Carrie Lasly was appointed to the ZBA.
The sale of the Vet Park Lofts to IG Immobilien (?) for $142,000 was approved unanimously. Kathy Angerer explained that it took two bid cycles to sell this property because the first sale fell through, and the goal is to make it 4 residential units.
During the public hearing on the animal rights ordinance, Angel Salatrik of Tiny acres, a homeschooler, and I spoke on behalf of city goats and chickens and the sale and barter of eggs
In the discussion of the ordinance, Bob offered an amendment to reduce the number of cats and dogs allowed per residence from 4 to 2. Andrea and Titus opposed the change, but it passed 4-2. Owners of more than 2 dogs or cats have to get kennel permits.
Bob also tried to continue the ban on pigeon coops, but the motion failed when only he and Mohammed voted for it.
Titus offered an amendment to allow the sale and barter of eggs and chicks, as long as they are not being sold as a novelty. Bob opposed the amendment because he thinks that eggs from the grocery store are somehow safer and fresher. The other members of council disagreed and made the change. The animal rights ordinance, as amended, was approved for the final reading by a vote of 5-1. Only Bob voted against it.
The fire and police chiefs worked together on a new fireworks ordinance that complies with state law. The first reading passed unanimously.
The official first reading of the noxious weeds ordinance passed unanimously as presented. It includes a ban on the growing of “vegetables” in front yards. Karen spoke in favor of continuing the Hamtramck tradition of edible gardens in front, and Kathy Angerer agreed that it would be difficult to enforce. Kathy also said that volunteers from HCI are turning in code enforcement violations to the police daily.
Site plans for a salt storage building at Senior Plaza, a neighborhood grocery store on the corner of Klinger and Commor, and a major expansion at the St Joseph healthcare center on Conant were cordially received and approved with little discussion. The developer from the nursing home project was invited to show the presentation materials that he brought to the meeting. He explained that they will add a story to the top of their current building and build a second 3-story building behind it, which will raise the number of beds by 21 to 190, increase the privacy of the rooms, and add an additional 30-35 employees. The number of windows on the first floor will also be increased to conform with our zoning ordinance.
After the official business was finished. Paul Wilk was invited to speak about the fireworks show being planned for July 5th. Nice work, John Dropchuk!
Well after the news crews gave up on capturing angry talk about the shooting at Club Aces, Andrea urged the administration to keep on top of it. Max Garbarino replied that he is working on something, and August Gitschlag mentioned that the Club submitted an application to review their business license earlier in the day. Anam faulted the city attorney for the lack of action against the club and said John Clark is milking the city by charging in 15-minute increments for phone calls.
During the closing public comment period, Cathie Gordon complained that the financial report for the first quarter showed that the city was $500,000 in the red. She also spoke on Club Aces, asking the council if they would like to live near the club, with condoms, needles, crack pipes, and people having sex on the hoods of cars. The same person owns the club as when there were previous problems, and she thinks the council should demand that he appear before them.