Properties Should Be Required To Have Key Boxes, Committee Says
The City of Mackinac Island will soon require large properties to purchase and install a lock box system for keys to allow quick access to buildings in the event of an emergency in the off-season. The Mackinac Island Ordinance Committee, meeting Wednesday, July 25, also approved an ordinance update for the Mackinac Island Fire Department and is considering amending the bicycle rental ordinance.
The new lock box system ordinance will require that schools, multi-family residential structures, commercial or industrial structures larger than 1,500 square feet, or government and nursing care facilities will be required to install a key safe, where keys can be stored and readily accessed by emergency crews. Single and twofamily homes are exempt from the requirement, as well as any structures with 24 hours on-site security personnel year-around. Places like nursing homes, hospitals, and police stations that are open 24 hours a day are also exempt. Rental storage facilities will only require a box for the full facility, and not for the individual storage units.
The box is designed to allow local fire department and emergency crews to access a building without having to break down a door or window. Each box will be located near the main entrance of the building, and can be unlocked by a single master key, which will be stored at the fire hall. Firefighters will have to punch in a personal identification code before being able to access the master key and use it on a box, letting the police and fire chief track the personnel who used the keys, and at what time.
Properties have one year and 20 days after the ordinance is passed by the city council to meet the requirements. Every day the property does not have a box on site could result in fines up to $500 per day.
Requiring all boxes to be installed into the wall of the building, known as a flush mount, was a concern to committee member Jason St. Onge. He said the city is requiring property owners to purchase a new item, and then telling the people how they will have to be installed. He was in favor of the rest of the ordinance, but because it required a flush mount installation, he voted against recommending the ordinance to the rest of the city council.
“I’m just glad we’re making people get these things,” Mr. St. Onge said. “Let’s not make it over complicated. If we’re going to impose something, there’s nothing wrong with working with the people the best you can.”
“I would prefer to see them flush mounted,” said committee member Anneke Meyers, “instead of having a bunch of boxes sticking out.”
Committee member Sam Barnwell said he felt new construction projects should require flush mounts in the building, but some older buildings may find it hard to install a flush mounted box.
The ordinance also allows for flexibility in case a building cannot install a box flush with the wall. The property owner can ask the fire chief, in writing, for an alterative location.
The committee will recommend that city council approve the ordinance. Mr. Barnwell also suggested that a letter be sent to property owners who will be affected by the new ordinance, once the city council has approved the measure.
A draft of the fire department ordinance was updated to reflect that certain training requirements of the city are actually requirements of state and federal agencies. This allows the ordinance to stay updated with the latest requirements, without having to be amended each time.
The fire chief will have authority to protect the public from any hazard, and can request that an individual remove a perceived hazard from a property. The fire chief will also be required to report once a year to the city council, presenting the number of services requested in the year and the current status of the department. Those who fail to comply with a notice of abating a hazard could face a civil infraction and be fined up to $500 each day the violation exists.
A requirement of firefighters having a landline telephone at their home was removed from the ordinance. It also removes a regulation that has each member of the fire department receiving a badge or authorization for his or her rank. The ordinance no longer requires members of the department to attend regular fire drills, but all members who fail to meet minimum requirements for department policies can face dismissal from the department by the chief.
The committee approved it, and sent it to the city council with a recommendation to approve and adopt the changes.
A bicycle rental ordinance amendment under discussion by the ordinance committee would require a site plan for the rental location, which includes a scale drawing, where the bicycles will be stored on the site, structures on the property and how they will be used, and where workers will repair bicycles. The committee decided to wait on approving the ordinance, to allow more time for discussion.
Ground cover of the rental location outside of a building must consist of grass, stone, wood, concrete, or asphalt. Television screens are not allowed outside in the rental area, according to the draft ordinance.
A provision that bans the use of a speaker system to play music or broadcast a voice drew some debate, when Mr. St. Onge said it would be unfair to impose the requirement to outdoor rental shops, but not require the same for businesses playing music that could be heard from the street.
“Either you allow music downtown, or you don’t,” Mr. St. Onge said, “but you can’t pick and choose which businesses can.”
Mr. Barnwell asked about the process of approval for a new site plan, and whether the Planning Commission gets to review a new site plan where the building did not change, but the use on the property did. City Attorney Tom Evashevski said it wasn’t required, and in the future, a licensee will only submit a new site plan if there are changes to how traffic will flow around the property. If there are no changes, the most recent site plan will suffice.
Mayor Margaret Doud said the committee should consider the suggestions in the draft ordinance and decide what they would like to regulate. The committee will continue further discussion at a future meeting.