IM finalizing sign ordinance


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – A new sign ordinance in the city of Iron Mountain is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Iron Mountain City Council members, at Monday’s meeting, agreed to introduce the ordinance and establish a public hearing for March 18, at 6:30 p.m.

The Iron Mountain Planning Commission has been working on the new ordinance for several years, with several meetings between the council and commission resulting in more changes to the document. At the Feb. 4 meeting, questions about the section on overhanging signs came up with the city manager checking into it and coming up with a special condition to be placed in the new ordinance.

City Manager Jordan Stanchina said the special condition added to the ordinance allows the sign committee to consider larger overhanging signs based on certain criteria. One overhang sign is allowed for each commercial building in the city and are only permitted in areas zoned B-1 and B-2. The minimum height is 10 feet and the maximum height is 10 feet per story with a maximum area of 64 square feet.

The ordinance further states that “no part of an overhanging sign shall exceed the height of the building facade or extend more than 48 inches over a public right-of-way. No sign shall overhang or be within one foot of a traffic lane.”

This is mainly for businesses in the downtown area in which the highway runs through and the right-of-way is a lot closer to the businesses.

Stanchina added that this special condition is a provision in the current ordinance. “It depends on the size of the building and should work for us,” he said.

He noted that a couple of other changes to the document were made including the section for the metal signs used for promotional events, in which three are allowed per parcel. He also checked on the information about flashing message boards to correct it so that it reads that one message is allowed every six seconds. This makes sure that the new ordinance goes along with what the state allows for these signs.

“The new ordinance doesn’t disallow anything that we allowed before. But it provides a better understanding of the different types of signs and some of the things we tried to correct to provide uniformity,” Stanchina said.

Councilman Collin Jacobetti felt that overhanging signs in the downtown area are a concern and needed to be restricted due to the close proximity to the highway.

The ordinance also states the signs are “not to have an adverse effect on adjacent property view or substantially restrict adjacent signage visibility.”

Special conditions signs are reviewed by the Planning Commission sign committee, which consists of the city manager, zoning administrator and an appointed member of the planning commission.

“This (draft of new ordinance) is better than what we currently have,” said Mayor Bruce Rosen.

Jacobetti agreed. “I just don’t want to see some big old sign sticking out there on the highway.”

Stanchina said that they will need to fully rescind the current sign ordinance once the new ordinance is in place.

Following a public hearing on a request to vacate the alley by Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Iron Mountain, the council, by a vote of 4-1, agreed to the motion.

The city is vacating a portion of the alley right-of-way and Stanchina noted that the church was made aware of the plowing concern and is willing to allow room for the city the plow past the final garage in the alley way.

Steve Mulka, planning, zoning and code administrator, had looked at the request and property owners within 300 feet of the alley were sent letters notifying them about the request and hearing. In his report to the council, Mulka noted that the alley is a dead-end without an easement to cross any other property. He added that there were complaints from the church that vehicles have come close to hitting pedestrians since the church installed a new parking lot to the west of the alley on church property.

The church plans to put up a gate blocking off the rest of the alley way from the parking lot, but will be leaving the gate open during the snow restriction time to allow for the plowing to be completed by the city.

Councilman Bob Moraska said that he had looked at the area and felt that this action would affect the adjacent property owners.

The city had received no objections from property owners to the church’s request, Stanchina said.

In other action, the council:

– Authorized getting proposals for a water system study, which is usually done every 10 years. The last study was in 2002. Stanchina noted that it important to update the study since the city has had problems with recent samples that required the system to be chlorinated for different periods of time. Consultants will provide their qualifications when responding to the scope of work that the city is interested in for this study. Stanchina added that once a list of qualified consultants is provided then they will provide a level of effort/cost proposals that will be considered by the city council.

– Held a public hearing on the purchase of a new squad car through the USDA Rural Development grant, in which the city will get up to 23 percent of the purchase price for the car and related equipment. The estimated cost of the squad car and equipment is $34,000 and the city council gave its authorization to solicit bids for the 2013 Dodge Charger police package. The city will be responsible for the first $26,400 and the grant will reimburse the next $8,000. As with other municipalities, the city will purchase directly through the MI Deal program through the state, which is the low bid price listed on the specifications.

– Agreed to establish a public hearing to vacate a portion of the alley right-of-way near the Izzo-Mariucci Center at the Iron Mountain Public Schools. The hearing is set for March 18 at 6:30 p.m. and property owners within 300 feet of the alley will be notified. The majority of the block in that location is owned by the school district and the alley runs west from Carpenter Avenue to Prospect St., immediately south of the Izzo-Mariucci Center at 500 Carpenter Ave. The school district already has an access agreement with Main Street Pizza.

– Approved a request by the Northwoods Garden Club for a donation of $500 towards the group’s efforts to plant flowers within the city of Iron Mountain. This donation amount is already in the city budget for the year.

– Authorized holding an auction for surplus equipment that the city would like to sell along with approximately 20-25 phones included from the old system.

– Approved giving the city manager authorization to purchase a used plow truck salt/sander box for $6,500.

Linda Lobeck’s e-mail is