2009-05-16 / Top News

City of Mackinac Island Focuses on Stricter Enforcement of Leash Law

By Karen Gould

City police are enforcing the Island's leash law and will focus on the downtown area following an incident in April when two people were bitten while trying to separate two fighting dogs. One animal was on a leash and the other was not.

City council expressed its concern over free-running dogs during its meeting Wednesday, May 6.

"If you've got a dog running loose and you get a ticket, don't act surprised. It's coming," said Alderman Armin Porter. "It's been a problem. It finally became a serious problem last week."

The residents received treatment at the Island Medical Center.

The violation is considered a civil infraction that includes a $110 fine. A few tickets were issued last year to people who violated the city's leash law, said Police Chief Jim Marks. Council members also asked Chief Marks to work with Mackinac Island State Park staff on the problem, since owners often allow their dogs to run loose in Marquette Park.

The city requires pets to be leashed in public places. The state park requires owners to have their pets "under immediate control," but not necessarily to be leashed.

Council tabled any decision on three ordinance amendments following discussion by the Ordinance Committee that was held an hour before the council meeting. Those tabled include amendments to Blight, Sign, and Display of Merchandise, and Distribution of Printed Materials ordinances. Committee Chair Mike Hart said more work is needed on each ordinance. (See related story.)

A meeting set for May 13 with the Star Line Ferry, Arnold Transit, and Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry was canceled after the boat lines agreed to drop their adult ticket price one dollar from $25 to $24 for a round trip ticket. Council had asked for a ticket price reduction from the companies during a special meeting Tuesday, April 21. (See related story.)

Calling the meeting beneficial, Mayor Margaret Doud said the price cut is appreciated by the Island business community, and noted she would have wished to see a larger price drop.

Council tabled a request for two weeks from business owner Wesley Maurer Jr. for a commercial sign variance for his sign at Carrousel Shops on Market Street. Mr. Porter asked city inspector Dennis Dombroski to see if there are any similar situations.

To meet the Island's 1998 sign ordinance, which has been amended several times since then, Mr. Maurer removed the sign, which had been attached to a metal carrousel pole since the 1980s. The new ordinance required signs be no taller than eight feet, and the pole is 12.5 feet high.

The sign is needed to attract customers at the corner of Hoban and Market streets, said Mr. Maurer, and while he could erect an eight-foot post, to do so he would have to remove the existing pole, which was designed to be symbolic of the shops.

Near the top of the metal sign post is a carrousel of horses. Lowering the pole would place the ring of horses at about head level, which could be a hazardous position for people, said Mr. Dombroski.

The concern he has with any variance is whether it is a unique situation," city attorney Tom Evashevski told Council. "If it's unique, I'm a lot more open to variances.

"If you have a pre-existing pole that is allowed to be there and it has this iconic figure on top, it's probably going to be there, anyway," said Mr. Evashevski. "I would guess, and you can tell me if I'm wrong, Dennis, this is a very unique situation."

Steve Jones of Micomcable of Montague, the Island's new cable provider, attended the meeting. The business has been operating on the Island for about six weeks and now two employees are on the Island twice weekly, said Mr. Jones. In the fall, when the business is able to get a temporary motor vehicle permit for the work, new features will be added, including broadband Internet, and major upgrades will be made to the system.

Council approved its annual $15,000 allocation to the Island Medical Center. The payment was overlooked at the end of the Island's fiscal year and the money is in the budget, said Mr. Hart.

Council approved transferring 49% of a liquor license for Mustang Lounge Entertainment to Larry Meyer from Jason Klonowski.

Twenty-nine businesses were approved for renewal licenses to operate on the Island. Eleven businesses were approved for an off-island business license.

A new business license request from Kilwin's Chocolates, which has new owners, was tabled until an application is completed. A new magic store, Phat Dog Magic, received a business license.

Alderman Jason St. Onge asked for a report on businesses that have not renewed their licenses by June 3, noting that, in the past, businesses operating without a license have been allowed to continue operating well into the season.

A request by Grand Hotel for a motor vehicle permit to bring two Ford hybrid vehicles to the Mackinac Policy Conference was approved. Council placed a predawn arrival and departure stipulation on the vehicles. The cars will be on display in the Theatre courtyard, said Grand General Manager John Hulett.

A motor vehicle permit for two vans was approved for Grand Hotel to transport this summer's Masco art exhibit to the hotel.

A fun run competition was approved for the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians for July 13.

Annual motor vehicle permits were approved. Seven motor vehicle permits were approved for Carriage Tours for annual work and three motor vehicle permits were approved for Inn at Stonecliffe.

Resident Gary Lennard received a motor vehicle permit for a lawnmower to cut grass at his residence.

Council next meets Wednesday, May 20, at 5 p.m.

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