IM drafts livestock ordinance

IRON MOUNTAIN — A public hearing has been set for next month on a proposed Iron Mountain ordinance change that could allow the housing of up to two livestock within a general business district under terms of a special use permit.

The hearing for 6 p.m. March 20 comes in response to controversy over two cows on display at an ice cream shop at 606 N. Stephenson Ave. in 2022.

Ice Cream Barn owner Bill Neuens brought the cows to stalls at the site when he opened the business in June but was ordered to remove them. The animals were later allowed temporarily over the Labor Day weekend.

Although the city prohibits the harboring of livestock, the council decided June 6 in a 5-2 vote to explore a special use permit. A number of citizens at that time spoke in favor of allowing the animals, which children had been able to pet and feed at the farm-themed shop.

Adoption of the ordinance would be the first step in accommodating the cows. Any request for a special use permit would be subject to a review by the Iron Mountain Planning Commission, which would issue a recommendation to the council, City Manager Jordan Stanchina said.

The permit could include a number of conditions, including adequate fencing and insurance, Stanchina said. Other conditions the council discussed include restrictions on odors and noise, a requirement for 24-hour surveillance and a time frame for the attraction.

Stanchina said the location of the shop makes it difficult to establish a good policy, since the business is close to the highway and there are neighboring homes. City Attorney Gerry Pirkola drafted the proposed ordinance change, noting a special use permit could be granted on an annual basis.

Council member Nathan Zemar joined a unanimous vote in favor of holding the hearing but otherwise spoke against allowing the cows. The city runs the risk of “endangering public safety” by having cattle next to a highway, he said.

Ed Mattson, director of police and fire services, mentioned an incident in Ishpeming in 2008 when a moose was shot and killed by authorities after it romped through the city and got close to a school. Some citizens blamed the police chief for overreacting, but if a cow were to get loose on busy U.S. 2 in Iron Mountain a similar scenario could ensue, he said.

In other action Monday, the council:

≤ Heard Mayor Dale Alessandrini say he’s disappointed that Iron Mountain Public Schools has done little public outreach on its plans to conduct a May 2 construction bond referendum. Alessandrini said he has asked Superintendent Jerry Sardina, “Why aren’t you putting it out there?” Council member Dave Farragh also remarked, “People have to know what’s going on.”

≤ Appointed Alex Carey to fill a vacancy on the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term expiring Jan. 1.

≤ Opened bids on a copier for the police department from The Office Planning Group and Cooper Office Equipment and referred them to staff for review.


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