ISHPEMING - After a five-year process, the Ishpeming City Council has approved the final alignment for the extension of Malton Road.
The approval came at Wednesday's regular council meeting.
While the road, which will connect U.S. 41 south to Business Route 28 between Ishpeming and Negaunee, is needed to open up the Hematite Heights area of the city to recreational, residential and possible commercial development, the extension project has raised concerns from the neighboring Wabash Heights over traffic and dust.
The Ishpeming Planning Commission, which has been working heavily on the project since the city purchased the Hematite Heights property from then Cleveland Cliffs, has worked with property owners in the area to alleviate concerns.
"Both the DDA and the Planning Commission has met... I believe we addressed some of the concerns we can reasonably address," said Planning Commission Chair Ray Roberts. "Five years we have worked on this project... In order for the city to realize the potential of economic development of unused land, we need to have that development go forth and that development can't go forth until we have that north-south road in place. It would be of benefit to the entire city to do this."
In particular, the Downtown Development Authority, which is funding the extension through bond proceeds, and the Planning Commission have recently met with Wabash Heights property owner Tim Hares, who voiced concerns that the road extension came too close to his property. To accommodate Hares, the Planning Commission voted to shift the road alignment 40 feet to the east and north to put the right-of-way line roughly 40 feet from Hares' property.
The design plan also includes paving the portion of Malton Road closest to the residential neighborhood to help control dust in the area and place a barrier between Malton Road and Wabash Street to prohibit traffic from traveling from Malton Road through the residential neighborhood.
The motion to approve the alignment, made by Councilman John Stone and seconded by Councilman Mike Tall, passed unanimously.
The council also adjourned the topic of a special assessment levied against certain property owners to help repair specific streets in the city to allow for some changes to the construction plan. Some property owners within the city who were on the list of streets to be repaired have said they don't want the repairs while others who were not on the list do want the repairs. The topic will be taken up at a later meeting.
In its first meeting since Tuesday's failed recall election against Council members Tall, Elaine Racine and Claudia Demarest, the council members appeared to put aside the tension that has become increasingly apparent.
"Speaking for myself, I'm well aware of the voter's decision and I absolutely support that. That's a decision I take over my own any time. My position hasn't changed, but I see the voters have spoke and I'm good with that. For the next six months we have left, I'm going to do everything I can to work with the rest of our council and put the hard feelings behind me," Mayor Pat Scanlon said.
Each of the council members also addressed the recall.
"I'm very very proud of the people of Ishpeming for the way they backed us and the way they supported us through not so easy-going times," Tall said.
"The voters have spoken. I honor their wish. I respect their wish," Stone said.
"I would just like to thank all the Ishpeming city residents for taking the time to vote, for supporting us during this very difficult time. I sincerely hope we can all work together to get back to taking care of city business," Demarest said.
"It was a very difficult time in many ways and yet I had no idea how many friends the three of us had," Racine said.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.