Morenci city council 2014.02.12

By DAVID GREEN

Sunday sales of alcohol is on the table for the Morenci city council following a request by the Eagles club.

Council's Finance and Legal committee chair Jeff Bell explained that city ordinance forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages on the premises on Sunday, but the Eagles would like to add some Sunday events and include the sale of alcohol.

Michigan law changed in 2010 to allow Sunday sales if not prohibited by a local ordinance. In order for an establishment to offer alcohol on Sundays, a special license must be obtained for a cost of $160.

The Eagles, the Pub and Mor-N-C Lanes are the only businesses in Morenci selling alcoholic beverages.

City attorney Fred Lucas was asked to write an amended ordinance for council to consider. A public hearing will be scheduled at the Feb. 24 council meeting. Council member Brenda Spiess wondered if a public hearing was necessary. She suggested that having a first, second and third reading of the proposal would cover public involvement.

"Given the subject matter," Bell said during a committee meeting before the regular meeting, "I think it warrants a public hearing."

POLICE—Due to the city's financial condition, council will not proceed with searching for a permanent police chief. Instead, interim chief Ryan Hillard will continue to lead the department for an indefinite period. He will be paid an annual salary of $48,000.

APPOINTMENT—Council is expected to vote Feb. 24 to appoint a new council member to serve until the next election. Mayor Bill Foster will make a recommendation for council to consider. Five residents applied to fill the empty chair: Doug Erskin, Kathye Hererra, Keith Pennington, Pearl Phelps and Sean Seger.

WATER—City supervisor Lonnie Vanderpool said the DPW received reports of 15 frozen water lines and there is also one leak to repair.

FIRE—Fire chief Brad Lonis said the department responded to 140 calls in 2013 and the number this year is well ahead of last year's pace. Lonis said that twice-a-month training sessions average 24 members among the roster of 31 members. Nate Rutkowski recently earned certification as an EMT.

PROPERTY—council voted 5-0, with Robb Sweet absent, to contact the Lay family and inform them that the City is no longer interested in purchasing farmland for industrial park expansion. With the City's financial situation, Bell said, it would be impossible to buy property. He suggested that council should also back away from purchasing the Horton property.

OHIO—Council voted to seek sealed bids on the sale of 16 acres of land in Ohio that's adjacent to the industrial park. The property was first offered to the owner of land located on three sides of the property, but councilors were hoping for a larger price.

ABATEMENT—Council scheduled a public hearing at the Feb. 24 council meeting to accept comment on proposed tax abatement requested by General Broach. The standard abatement would cover $582,583 worth of new equipment.