NEW BUFFALO – After discussion on the matter during the May 20 regular meeting, members of the New Buffalo City Council voted unanimously to approve a motion setting parking rates for the City Beach parking lot (215 spaces) and overflow lot (50 spaces) from memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend as a high-tech “Pay by Plate” system is initiated.

The rates set were: $5 for the first three hours; $12 for all day; and $5 after 8 p.m.

Violations will cost $50 if the if the ticket is paid within 24 hours, and after that an additional $25 will be added to that cost.

City taxpayers/residents will be exempt from those fees for up to two vehicles per residence if they register with City Hall staff.

Police Chief Rich Killips said the city would have a parking enforcement official.

“We will have people patrolling the beach parking lots and monitoring the license plates,” Killips said. “Violators will be issued a citation similar to those given out to parking violators in the downtown area.”

It was noted that it was an expensive proposition for the city to operate the popular beach, especially during the heavily populated summer months.

The new “Pay by Plate” system will also eliminate the need for any cash to change hands and be accounted for.

In a related member, a motion to pay the lone bidder, Arnt Asphalt Sealing, $20,822 to make improvements at both the beach parking area and striping the parking lot at Whittaker and Buffalo Streets received unanimous approval.

A staff of six lifeguards has been hired to oversee beach safety, and at this point lifeguards will be on duty five days per week, including all weekends through Labor Day.

New safety buoys have been purchased and put in place.

In other business, a motion to approve a Rental Ordinance Enforcement Agreement with SAFEbuilt Michigan,LLC received unanimous approval.

SAFEbuilt’s services will include the Rental Program administration and annual inspection.

As part of the agreement, SAFEbuilt will provide the following forms: registration, inspection payment, complaint, and inspection report.

The agreement includes but is not limited to the building of the program, rental registration, inspections and documentation, and the preparation of detailed reports. The fee schedule includes $70 per hour to build the program, and an administrative fee of 90 percent paid to SAFEbuilt.

Fees include a $75 registration fee for 600-800 units, and $100 registration fee for 400-600 units; and a $150 inspection fee for 600-800 units, and an inspection fee of $200 for 400-600 units.

There would be a charge of $200 for posting a unit unfit for occupancy, but that was said to be a very rare occurrence.

Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV said that the inspections of residential rental units would begin taking place as quickly as was feasible, but it would take time for them all to be completed.

Police Chief Killips noted that if there was a matter of a criminal complaint the police, rather than SAFEbuilt, should be contacted.

“We will track whether or not a complaint is filed involving a rental property,” Killips said.

Also on the agenda, there was a first reading of Carport Ordinance 238 prohibiting carports in front yards and allowing them in side and rear yards only by the issuance of a special use permit, and a motion for approval received unanimous consent.

The Planning Commission already approved the proposed ordinance and recommended that the Council do the same.

After discussion on the matter, and following a Budget Public Hearing, a resolution to adopt a budget for the 2020/21 fiscal year was approved unanimously.

Highlights included General Fund expenditures by departments totaling $3,063,196.

The highest total of that amount; $976,112, will go to fund the police, with $147,756 for fire, and $110,817 for ambulance service.

Finally, after going into closed session to discuss the matter, a motion for the City to file suit to enjoin what were deemed unlawful activities allowing Roger’s Wrecker Service, 742 S. Whittaker St., to operate on a larger portion of the site was approved unanimously.

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