Marquette commission discusses fireworks, brownfield plan

MARQUETTE — Fireworks ordinances and a combined brownfield plan for a blighted building along Washington Street were discussed at the Marquette City Commission meeting Monday evening.

Since July, several Marquette residents expressed their dismay to the commission about dangers and distractions fireworks impose on neighborhoods within the city. Some residents stated they’ve put out fiery debris from fireworks in their yards and fear something might catch on fire one day if more regulations aren’t put into place.

Use of fireworks in the city are limited to the day prior to, the day of and day after certain holidays. They’re prohibited between the hours of 1 a.m. and 8 a.m.

The commission unanimously approved scheduling a public hearing for Sept. 24 to determine whether to adopt ordinance 669, amending Sec. 26-88 of the Marquette City Code, and ordinance 670, repealing Sec. 32-174 of the code.

The proposed ordinances state that a person shall not ignite, discharge, or use consumer fireworks on public property, school property, church property or the property of another person without express permission from that organization or person to use those fireworks on those premises at that time. Fines and penalties of up to $500 for each violation within the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act may be imposed if the ordinances are disobeyed.

Mayor Pro Tem Fred Stonehouse said the fireworks issue has “certainly caught our attention” and the city is working to change the language of the code.

The commission also approved a resolution after hearing from brownfield consultant Mac McClelland, with Traverse City-based engineering firm Otwell-Mawby, who discussed the blighted building at 231 W. Washington St.

City notes state that Four 75 LLC, which owns the “blighted and functionally obsolete” building, requested a combined brownfield plan that would provide additional state tax capture equal to state tax capture for Michigan Department of Environmental Quality-eligible activities and additional local tax capture for the city’s brownfield revolving fund.

The total tax capture was listed as nearly $445,000, with about $111,400 earmarked for the local revolving fund.

Commissioner Peter Frazier called the building an eyesore to the downtown area.

Mostly recently home to alternative music venue 231 House of Muses, the building has been vacant since it caught fire in 2007 and sustained major damage to its interior. Four 75 plans to turn the lower and street levels of the building into a bakery and restaurant, with residential apartments on the second floor.

Brownfield-eligible activities include lead and asbestos abatement, selective building demolition, site preparation and public infrastructure.

The overall investment for the project is estimated at around $2.5 million. Total costs of all eligible activities on the property redevelopment is expected to be repaid through tax increment financing, or TIF, within eight years for state and local capture, and 12 years for administrative and operating costs and the local brownfield revolving fund.

The project is located in the Marquette Downtown Development Authority and Marquette Local Development Financing Authority TIF districts, which have jurisdiction to capture certain taxes subject to brownfield capture.

Both the DDA and LDFA have approved interlocal agreements under the Urban Cooperation Act to transfer capture to the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for reimbursement of brownfield eligible activity until the brownfield obligation is met, city documents state.

The 2,259 square-foot brick building has a flat roof and its windows are currently boarded with plywood, which has been the case since the blaze over a decade ago. The historical site was originally developed in 1891 as J. Roy Meat Market.

The commission also approved during its meeting the purchase of a new utility box from Truck Equipment Inc. of Green Bay in an amount not to exceed $18,985, as well as a request from More Cowbell LLC, and Barry J. Polzin Architects for a license to construct a new access ramp at 600 N. Third St. for access from the Third Street right-of-way to a new law office.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.