Ice cream shop may be able to have cows

Julianne Chouinard, 5, and sister Annabelle Chouinard, 7, in back, visit the cows on June 6 at The Ice Cream Barn on Iron Mountain’s north side. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Conditions for a special use permit will soon be drafted as Iron Mountain anticipates an ice cream shop owner will seek to house cows at his business.

Last spring, in violation of a city ordinance, Ice Cream Barn owner Bill Neuens displayed two heifers in stalls at his farm-themed business at 606 N. Stephenson Ave. Although the city ordered the animals removed, the council decided June 6 in a 5-2 vote to explore a special use permit.

The process went forward Monday as council members again voted 5-2 to approve an ordinance change that allows the housing of up to two livestock within a general business district under a special use permit.

The permit can include a number of conditions, including adequate fencing and insurance, City Manager Jordan Stanchina said. The possibility of 24-hour surveillance has also been discussed.

Any request for a special use permit is subject to review by the Iron Mountain Planning Commission, which makes a recommendation the council can accept or reject.

Dozens of people attended Monday’s meeting in support of Neuens, including nearly 10 who addressed the council.

Matt Tinti, a city public works employee, said he believes Neuens can house the animals safely and to the benefit of the community. “I’m in support of everything he’s done,” he said.

“This is a great thing for kids,” said Donna Schinderle, echoing the comments of others.

There was disagreement on whether the city is going too far to accommodate the cow display.

Stanchina has noted 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.

Council member Kyle Blomquist said it’s obvious the city is “swerving and bending over backwards to make this one thing happen.”

It sets a bad precedent, he said, to potentially allow livestock in the business district along Carpenter and Stephenson avenues. He also lamented a lack of input from the planning commission, and the long-term implications for commercial development.

Council member Pam Maule said those misgivings might be overblown. “It’s just two cows,” she said.

“It’s pretty obvious that the public is in favor of this,” council member Ken Clawson said.

In a voice vote, Blomquist and council member Nathan Zemar were the dissenters.

“We’ll see what happens with this,” Mayor Dale Alessandrini said. “Hopefully it works out.”

Earlier, he had cautioned, “If they get out of the pen one time, it’s probably going to be a done deal. There isn’t going to be a second chance.”

The ordinance change will be effective in 30 days. Terms of the special use permit will be subject to council approval, Stanchina said.


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