ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming City Council has voted unanimously to not pay its membership to the Lake Superior Community Partnership for 2011.
The decision passed by four votes at Wednesday's regular council meeting with Mayor Pat Scanlon absent.
"We're going to have our own chamber of commerce where there's a substantial amount of money being put into it," said Councilman Mike Tall, referring to the Ishpeming Downtown Development Authority's financial assistance in starting up the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce in 2010. "I don't have anything against either operation, but you can't do both."
Tall made the motion to not pay the membership of $4,179, with a second from Councilwoman Elaine Racine.
The vote passed unanimously without discussion.
Representatives from the LSCP were in attendance at the meeting, including CEO Amy Clickner.
Clickner said the LSCP was scheduled to give a presentation to the council at its February meeting.
"Any time you lose a member, it hurts," she said. "You want that support and that strategic partnership."
Clickner said the LSCP's focus was on economic development while other organizations such as the Ishpeming-Negaunee chamber were focused more on marketing and event coordination.
"If we keep from duplicating efforts, there's a role for everyone to play," she said. "You need those grassroots efforts to organize the Fourth of July or put together the downtown brochure. They know their community best."
Clickner said the LSCP would be at the February meeting to make its presentation.
The council also voted to not make amendments to the city's Unsafe Building Ordinance, which would have made the Housing Appeals Board as the appeals board for the ordinance instead of the city council and setting a $150 filing fee for appeals.
Council members voted 3-1 against the amendments, citing concerns over the fee and that the council would no longer be involved in the appeals process. Councilman John Stone voted in favor of the amendments.
Although not included specifically in the ordinance or the proposed amendments discussed by the council, the ordinance agenda item did receive comment from three city residents who own property near the former St. Joseph's church at the intersection of Lake and Johnson streets, They urged the council to take action to have the building removed.
"This was built in 1887. It's an all wooden structure that has badly deteriorated over the years. Shingles from its belfry and roof clutter our yard after every bad windstorm," said Darley Kemppainen, who lives next to the church building on South Lake Street. "The concern we have about this former church building is its vulnerability and the threat of fire and the safety of the lives of people in the neighborhood."
City Manager Jered Ottenwess said the city has begun the process of evaluating the building, which is privately owned, for ordinance violations, but added the unsafe building ordinance is difficult to enforce and doesn't provide a determination of whether a building is a fire hazard.
"We've gotten complaints about it since the middle-end of last summer," he said. "The whole process is time consuming."
The city is waiting to hear the determination of a qualified contractor as to the worth of the building and whether that is less than the cost to restore it.
"I understand where these ladies are coming from," Tall said. "But you've got to look at both sides, too. This building belongs to somebody, obviously. They've got a right to have a building. I went by it and looked. The doors are boarded, the windows are boarded."
The council took no action on the church building.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.