NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo City Council on Nov. 15 re-affirmed its opposition to the recently passed Michigan House Bill 4722 (which declares short-term rentals a residential use of property and a permitted use in all residential zones) and its yet-to-be-voted-on State Senate counterpart (SB 0446).

Mayor John Humphrey said the resolution passed on Nov. 15 re-affirms the city’s opposition to the bills (updating an earlier resolution passed by the council). He noted that 20 area municipalities including St. Joseph, Bridgman and Chikaming Township have expressed similar sentiments.

The State House passed HB 4722 – Short Term Rental Legislation during the early morning hours of Oct. 27 by a 55-48 tally after a marathon session that involved 11 proposed versions of the bill. Local legislators split on HB 4722, with Brad Paquette voting against it and Colleen Wendzel supporting.

The New Buffalo resolution approved 4-0 on Nov. 15 calls on State Senator Kim LaSata “to oppose the passage of the Bills or any similar legislation” and urges Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer “to veto this legislation, if adopted by the Michigan State Legislature.”

The full language follows:


WHEREAS on October 27, 2021, the Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4722 to amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, defining a short-term rental as rental of a property not to exceed thirty (30) consecutive days within any zoning district; and

WHEREAS HB 4722 also permitted these activities as a residential use of property not subject to a special use or other condition(s) that differ from any dwelling located within the same zoning district; and

WHEREAS HB 4722 specifies that any short-term rental properties cannot be categorized as commercial and that local municipalities shall not enact or adopt ordinances that prohibit short-term rentals in their community; and

WHEREAS companion legislation, Senate Bill 0446 (2021) and similar substitute bills (the “Bills”), are being introduced to the Michigan Senate that attempts to do the same; and

WHEREAS the New Buffalo City Council expressed its opposition to these bills at its June 2, 2021 meeting when the legislation was initially introduced and the council is duty-bound to reiterate its continuing opposition to this legislation; and

WHEREAS it is the mission of the New Buffalo City Council to promote the economic, cultural and physical welfare of its citizens through legislative functions; and

WHEREAS the passage of HB 4722 and the consideration of and potential passing of any of the Bills by the Senate would take from the citizens of the City of New Buffalo, local control of their community and would, in the judgment of the City Council, have a detrimental effect on our residents, our neighborhoods, and our community, and

WHEREAS this proposed unregulated use of residential property, while allegedly protecting the property rights of its owner(s), has the potential to infringe on the property rights of owner-occupied properties; and

WHEREAS the proposed legislation will adversely affect the cache of available housing stock by enticing speculators and/or businesses to buy homes, thus producing issues around housing supply and affordability; and

WHEREAS, the City of New Buffalo is a Home Rule City, as identified in MCL 279 of 1909, and the residents have voiced their desire to have short-term rentals regulated.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the New Buffalo City Council expresses its dissatisfaction of the passing of HB 4722 and strongly urges our elected representative, Senator Kim LaSata, to oppose the passage of the Bills or any similar legislation; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Buffalo City Council urges Governor Gretchen Whitmer to veto this legislation, if adopted by the Michigan State Legislature; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be transmitted to the office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senator Kim LaSata, Representative Brad Paquette, the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform, and the House Committee onCommerce and Tourism.

Also during its Nov. 15 regular meeting, the City Council awarded a contract for demolition of the Dune Walk at the public beach to Anlaan Corporation, which had submitted the low bid of $52,000.

Other bids were received from: Indiana Earth, Inc. ($56,800); Oselka Constructors ($58,000); and TJM Services ($66,000).

City Manager Darwin Watson said the plan is to construct a new Dune Walk in time for the summer of 2022, with a proposal for that portion of the project likely to appear before the council in December or January. He also said the city should be able to move money around ahead of receiving grants to get the entire new Dune Walk built at the same time instead of in two phases as had been previously planned.

And the council on Nov. 15 awarded an Engineering Professional Services contract for New Buffalo Harbor maintenance dredging to Abonmarche for $52,300.

Watson noted that during a recent meeting of local officials and staff with representatives of Abonmarche, the subject of  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy dredging permits from 2018-2019 that had expired was discussed. Although the process of permitting began in 2019, due to a number of factors including record-high Lake Michigan levels, the New Buffalo dredging process was postponed until 2020.

“More importantly, the data collection and permit efforts were suspended. Given the current conditions that exist in the harbor, those efforts need to be started again. This is attributed to the lake levels dropping approximately two feet since the record high levels. This has caused sand to migrate into parts of the harbor, which can potentially cause problems with boaters and other watercraft,” he said.

Watson said Abonmarche has submitted a proposal to perform the professional services needed for the dredging project, which has been separated into three phases.

“Currently, the most urgent aspect of the project is the completion of the bathymetric survey and sediment sampling prior to winter,” he added.

Permit applications will follow, with a goal of doing the actual dredging from the piers to the Whittaker Street Bridge in 2022.

In other Nov. 15 business, the New Buffalo City Council:

• Approved the purchase of a DJI Enterprise drone (including a thermal-imaging camera) for the Police Department from Steel City Drones for $6,969 (. Watson said the city has used drone photography for the last few years to help locate missing swimmers, survey crowd and traffic conditions during busy weekends, survey damage from flood waters, and even take marketing photo and video for the city website. He noted that New Buffalo Police Officer Nate Voytovick is a licensed drone pilot and professional drone operator who in the past has used his personal equipment to assist the city at no charge.

• Agreed to order a replacement vehicle for the New Buffalo Police Department from Enterprise after an early November priority call involving a person who had possibly overdosed and was not breathing in the parking lot of the Four Winds Casino resulted in a vehicle striking a curb and sustaining serious damage to its drivetrain. It is anticipated that the city’s insurance company will deem the truck totaled. The cost of replacing the vehicle (expected to arrive in 90 to 120 days) would be funded by the proceeds of the insurance reimbursement through the Enterprise Lease Program.  In the monthly police report it was noted that the New Buffalo officer found the individual at the Four Winds lot with no pulse and not breathing, administered two doses of Narcan and started CPR — ultimately saving the subject’s life.

• Awarded a City Hall cleaning contract to A Clean Get-Away Cleaning, LLC, at an estimated $14,040 ($270 per week) for cleaning three times weekly.

• Authorized the Annual Year-End Salary Adjustment for the city’s 32 full and part-time employees.

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