Hancock OKs solar, wind ordinance

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Council approved a solar and wind ordinance for the coming year Wednesday.

The ordinance allows for small accessory solar or wind systems throughout the city, which provide power for on-site consumption. Restrictions cover setback, height, decibel level and other areas. Those installations require zoning permits.

Industrial-use solar systems are restricted to the industrial district; those must have a special use permit and full site review. No large-scale wind systems are allowed.

Councilor and Planning Commission Chair Kurt Rickard thanked Planning Commission members Susan Burack and Steve Walton for their work in putting the ordinance together.

“They spent quite a bit of time researching other ordinances around the state, maybe even the country, to put this together,” he said. “We had a lot of discussions on it, a lot of meetings. We deleted some things, added some things. We think we’ve got it to where it’s going to work for our city.”

The ordinance went through several rounds of amendments to incorporate feedback from residents. One change clarified the ordinance does not cover smaller wind or solar systems that power single pieces of equipment, such as yard lights. Burack said it was the first solar and wind ordinance to be passed in the Copper Country.

The ordinance is available on the city’s website at cityofhancock.com/news/1095.pdf.

No members of the public commented at public hearings Wednesday on the ordinance or the 2024 budget, which the council also adopted Wednesday.

General fund revenues for the year are expected at $4,199,676.11, versus appropriations of $4,578.701.08.

The general fund balance at the end of the coming fiscal year is estimated to be $1,406,571.51.

The council also approved millage rates, which are unchanged from the previous year: 13.2663 mills for the general fund, and 0.8 mills each for the fire department, police department and recreation.

At its next meeting, the council will consider budget adjustments for the current fiscal year ending June 30.

In other action, the board:

≤ Approved two resolutions to request Michigan Department of Transportation funding for road improvements. The city will provide a 50% match from its local streets fund.

If the city receives the grant, it would be added to the 2024-25 budget. MDOT will notify the city in October.

MDOT would provide $474,854 to reconstruct Minnesota Street between Ethel and Michigan streets. It’s one of the widest residential streets in Hancock, which may explain why it had gone without work for so long, Babcock said. It is one of Hancock’s lowest-rated streets under the state’s Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating system.

Another $284,773 would go to resurface North and Prospect streets between Birch and Ingot streets. The city will put in an extension of North Street, and also allow for new handicapped parking spots for the Houghton County Fair, Babcock said. The work will also enable the city to correct improper placement of storm sewers on Birch and Prospect streets, which had caused backups.

≤ Approved a letter of support for the Hancock Housing Foundation grant application for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Revitalization and Placemaking grant for a 50-unit housing development. It would include building onto a former funeral home across the street from Lakeview Manor.

The new development would house moderate-income residents aged 55 and up. It may be able to free up more housing at Lakeview Manor, which is all ages, Babcock said.

≤ Appointed Alan Salmi to the Hancock Transit Local Advisory Council.

≤ Heard from Babcock the city has hired Tara Dulong as deputy clerk.


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