Ishpeming City Council approves ordinance changes for second-hand dealers

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council voted Wednesday to make the city a friendlier place to do business for second-hand and junk dealers.

Councilors unanimously approved the first reading of an amendment to the city ordinance governing the issuance, denial and revocation of licenses for those businesses.

Prior to the proposed amendments, some viewed the requirements placed on those potential business owners as stringent.

The ordinance came under scrutiny in August after the city issued violation notices to several city businesses that sell second-hand goods for failing to complete an annual license renewal, among other issues.

At that time, the council voted to form a committee consisting of two council members, representatives of businesses affected by the ordinance, the city manager and the city attorney to explore options for amending the regulations.

Some of the changes, if approved at a second reading, would mean second-hand and junk dealers would no longer be required to provide the name, address and Social Security number of every person with an ownership interest in the business. In addition, business owners would no longer be required to submit a complete set of fingerprints to the police department.

Certain provisions still apply under the proposed revisions. For example, individuals would still have to apply for a second-hand license, undergo an initial background check and pay a fee set forth by the annual fee schedule.

The current city fee schedule sets the cost for initial application at $100.

Councilors also voted Wednesday to eliminate the $50 annual renewal fee for the businesses from both the ordinance and the fee schedule.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Karl Lehmann reiterated a previous objection to the renewal requirement.

“I remember when we attended the meeting on this subject this past summer, and we came away (with) two across-the-board agreements. One, that we were going to minimize the effect of this ordinance to only include those things that were required by the state statute,” Lehmann said. “And, two, we weren’t going to charge these people every year because they are brick-and-mortar people, they are paying taxes and by our own admission by (Police) Chief (Steve) Snowaert, we were not doing an investigation on these people yearly.”

Under further questioning, Snowaert told the council he had no reason to return to a second-hand dealer once they are licensed.

Councilor Mike Tonkin said he saw no reason to treat a licensed second-hand dealer differently than other businesses within the city limits.

“My comment is just that you are singling these people out. Why are we singling these people out?” Tonkin said. “We don’t want second-hand dealers in this town? We have many body shops in this town. Are we going to go to the body shops and say ‘You take in old used parts and fix them up and resell them. We want $100 to start with and $50 per year.’ Are we going to start hitting these body shops up? Why wouldn’t we?”

The council is expected to consider the second reading of the ordinance during its regular meeting in February.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.