Houghton City Council

Chris Davis, Managing Editor

The Houghton City Council met on Jan. 26 to address a handful of agenda items and to hear its regular reports.

Following the publication of Tech’s Campus Master Plan last week, the council addressed the 10,000 student aim for 2035. City Manager Eric Waara raised the city’s eventual need for “more housing” among other facilities as the university continues its growth.

Since the approval of the site plan for a KFC establishment near Econofoods, a web of old easements and bylaws have proven difficult to handle as one involved property owner has filed a lawsuit against the city and others. The land used to be a single unit but has since been parceled out. The council and committee members that approved the site plan are confident that the issue does not in fact involve the city, but Houghton was named in the suit nonetheless. The first hearing on the issue is set to take place Jan. 27, which may clarify the issue.

The Fire Station sign that used to inhabit the view along Sharon Avenue has “both sides in the research phase” according to Waara. The council remains resolute in the Fire Station’s violation of city ordinances with their ex-sign.

A final report by Waara on potential steps going forward with the infamous parking deck is coming for viewing and discussion at the next city council meeting. The city manager describes it as a “basic plan” that the council will need to make decisions on “now, soon,” especially with regard to paying for any deconstruction operation and when that might take place. He posited the idea of using state grant money meant for redevelopment as funds.

Finally, Waara posed the idea of unifying the “management” of Keweenaw farmers markets. Notable farmers markets are that of Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, and Lake Linden. This more coherent management structure could allow for the acceptance of WIC and SNAP benefits programs at the markets, which require a significant amount of paperwork to maintain.

Council member Brian Irrizary, in what would be something of a heated exchange, moved to make the council meetings available by telecommunication to the public. Council members Mike Needham and Robert Megowen offered dissent to the idea. While council member Jan Cole voiced support, the motion was rescinded and further discussion was pushed to the next meeting on the advice of council member Joan Suits. “We’re tired and hungry.” The council adjourned shortly afterwards.