City of Muskegon
City Commission Worksession
December 10, 2012
City Commission Chambers
Present: Commissioners Gawron, Spataro, German, Wierengo, Turnquist, and Markowski.
Absent: Commissioner Hood.
Melching Property Rezoning.
A lawsuit has been filed against the City for the ballot question to rezone the property currently
owned by Melching on the November ballot. The City Attorney encouraged those residents or
groups interested to participate by joining the lawsuit with their own Attorney.
It was explained that Commissioners can not discuss the case because it is in litigation.
John Schrier, City Attorney, explained the options available. Even with a zone change,
Melching and any successors can continue to use the property under its current zoning. It’s a
legal non-conforming use.
If the City chooses not to answer the lawsuit, a default judgment will be entered for the plaintiff
unless citizens file and the judge accepts it.
The lawsuit is unlikely to be covered under the City’s insurance policy and Attorney fees will be
paid out of the General Fund.
Commissioner Turnquist stated a compromise is needed on both sides. The Attorney indicated
that a compromise, if possible, would take several months. A response to the lawsuit needs to be
given in the next two weeks.
Commissioner Markowski asked if it can be settled at this time. The Attorney responded,
The Attorney outlined options available in a memo to City Commission.
A. The City can agree with Melching’s position that the initiatory petition and vote has no
legal binding effect.
B. The City could disagree with Melching’s position and litigate the validity of the initiatory
petition and vote.
C. If the City is going to litigate the issue, the City could encourage the proponents of the
initiatory petition to join the litigation.
D. If the City is going to vigorously litigate the issue, the City should consider adding Sappi
to the litigation.
Communication between the City Commission and the City Attorney is confidential unless
waived by City Commission.
Motion by Spataro, Seconded by Markowski to waive Client/Attorney privilege to release
the City Attorney’s memo explaining the options to respond to the lawsuit.
ROLL CALL VOTE:
Ayes: Spataro, German, Wierengo, Turnquist, Markowski, and Gawron.
Copies are to be given by hard copy only available in the City Clerk’s Office.
Senior Transit System.
Mayor Gawron indicated that the Senior Transit System is currently running in a deficit. The
City’s General fund will be using funds from the Stabilization Fund to balance.
Commissioner Turnquist indicated $60,000 is a small amount of money and would like to
continue to support the program.
Commissioner Spataro stated that the City needs to find a partner if we want to continue the
program or make the program self-funding by reducing hours, raising the fee, etc.
Commissioner Markowski told the Commission she contacted a local transportation company
that is willing to drop their fee to $18 for a ride within a ten mile radius.
This item will be considered at the December 11th Commission Meeting.
Closure of Beach Street During Winter Months.
Staff suggested the Commission consider closing Beach Street by the Water Filtration during the
winter months. Currently the City pays approximately 20 hours a month in overtime to remove
sand from the street and place barricades blocking the road during bad winter days.
It was the consensus of the Commission to close the street through March.
Any Other Business.
Commissioner Spataro let the Commission know that he attended a meeting regarding potential
locations for the jail.
He did tell the committee that he did not think the Commission would support a new facility at
Craig School or adding a new facility by closing Pine Street.
A meeting regarding tree removal in Glenside was attended in November. Approximately 15 to
20 trees need to be removed. The City will be replacing some trees. Diseased trees can be
removed by digging deeply for removal.
Commissioner Markowski asked that Commissioners update all Commissioners when attending
Public comment was received.
Motion by Turnquist, seconded by Spataro to adjourn at 7:48 p.m.
Ann Marie Cummings, MMC