West End Update – City of Negaunee

New ordinance benefits city of Negaunee

Nate Heffron, city manager, city of Negaunee

NEGAUNEE — Recently, the Negaunee City Council adopted a codified traffic ordinance. This new ordinance is comprised of mostly current regulations already in place. There are however a few new changes that were needed, they center around code modernization, permitted parking, camper and other trailer parking/storage, and food trucks. Today I will mostly focus on recreational campers/trailers.

To begin with, why even change any of the current code? The main reason was to make it easier for everyone involved. Starting with city staff and our law enforcement officers. More importantly, we wanted to make it easier for our residents. Not being able to find codes or their wording can be frustrating to say the least, but now it should be much easier.

We also wanted to make changes to reflect the changing times, for example, we added electric vehicles to the mix and updated definitions to reflect the ever-changing world of recreation vehicles.

One major change centered around adopting a balanced approach of the use of and storage of recreational campers/trailers. The former ordnance did not permit recreational vehicles to be stored on any lot within the city. The only exception to the rule was if the property owner kept the trailer or camper in their driveway or inside an enclosed building. This was problematic for sure! We can only assume the rule was put in place to prevent properties from becoming blighted or to prevent any public health and safety issues associated with these vehicles.

Now, property owners can store their recreational camper/trailer on most properties with the city, if the following conditions are met: (a) Such parking or storage does not occur in the front yard area of any premises; and (b) Such parking or storage as might occur in the side yard or rear yard of any premises shall maintain a five (5′) foot perimeter on all sides…, and must be wholly parked on a single parcel owned by the owner…

Additional rights have also been afforded, all of them cannot be covered here. One of the highlights for residential property owners is the ability to legally stay in your recreational camper/trailer while it is parked or stored on your property (please refer to the traffic code for full details). There are restrictions associated with the new rule, however. (1) The recreational camper/trailer may be used as a temporary dwelling between Memorial Day and Labor Day only each year in some zoning districts. (2) the unit may only be occupied by the owner or immediate family member of the owner. (3) All units are subject to inspection upon request to ensure the presence of an operational and fully charged fire extinguisher and a working smoke alarm.

Before the next camping season, the city will develop a flier that will be distributed to households explaining the new changes concerning recreational campers/trailers, as well as update the city of Negaunee website with this information.

I believe this new ordinance will be extremely helpful. The updates and new sections that have been added make sense, especially the changes pertaining to recreational campers/trailers. I understand that it can be frustrating to learn that you cannot do something on your own property, or that other restrictions may apply to an activity like owning a recreational camper/trailer can bring. However, the city has listened to its residents and looked at this issue from all viewpoints and found what we feel is a correct and balanced approach that will allow both private enjoyment and protect public safety.

As for the changes pertaining to permitted parking and food trucks, new policies and programs are being created at this time and will not be forthcoming until early 2024.

I have not been able to cover all of the changes of this new ordinance, however, I hope that you will take some time to learn about the new traffic code and its benefits to the community. I think you will find that these changes were needed and the clarifications helpful.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Heffron is city manager of the city of Negaunee.


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