NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo City Council voted 4-0 on Monday to extend the moratorium on the acceptance of new short-term rental licenses within the city for eight months. Resolution 2020-16 was originally adopted on May 18, 2020, to allow further study and development of possible short-term rental ordinance amendments.
Mayor John Humphrey said the moratorium will help the city “make sure we have a cap of what we’ve operated with in the past last year so we’re not increasing it until we get the problem handled with managing the un-permanent rentals.”
Humphrey added that he had a meeting on Dec. 18 with representatives of short-term rental companies.
“They understand the situation about the moratorium extension, though I won’t say they’re happy about it. We had an awesome conversation and we’re moving forward pro-actively and productively to address the situation for everyone in the city,” he said.
A moment of silence to honor the passing and service of City Manager David Richards to the City of New Buffalo was held early in the meeting (Richards’ obituary appears on page D2 of this issue).
In his monthly police report, Interim City Manager and Police Chief Rich Killips noted that the coin-operated machines at Details Cleaning were broken into and coins and cash were taken.
“We are working with Michigan City PD on developing suspects because the Details location in Michigan City was also targeted in the same time frame. We have a good video of the suspect vehicle from the security cameras on City Hall,” the report continued.
Killips also reported that while he is serving as both Interim City Manager and Police Chief, Jason Grimmett will be handling the majority of the administration of the Police Department.
“Jason has served in this role in the past and has done a rock solid job. Jason has also been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, a position that NBPD has not had for quite some time. Jason has been with the department for nearly 15 years, please congratulate him when you see him next.”
Also during the Dec. 21 meeting, the City Council agreed to a three-year agreement with Third Coast Surf Shop to provide a kayak and paddle board rental service at the city’s boat ramp.
Humphrey noted that there is a 60-day notice opt-out option for the city.
Killips said the area of the boat ramp lot where Third Coast operates will be reconfigured to alleviate some of the traffic flow issues from last summer.
Council member Mark Robertson asked about the portable container used to store equipment being kept at the site year-round, and the motion that passed 4-0 included a condition that a resolution on storing the container elsewhere during the off-season be reached.
It was noted that the city received more than $43,000 (plus another $15,000 in parking revenue) from Third Coast last summer as its 20-percent share of rentals versus a high of $6,000 when the vessels were rented at the beach.
In other Dec. 21 business, the New Buffalo City Council:
Agreed to extend a fire service agreement with New Buffalo Township to address critically low numbers of city firefighters (later said to currently stand at about six). Killips said the contract is almost identical to the one originally signed with the deletion of fire inspections. Cost of the year-long contract is $24,000. Humphrey said a meeting on moving forward with solutions for the local fire department ins planned in the near future.
Agreed to spend up to $4,570 to have a radiant heat furnace installed in an extension at the Department of Public Works (DPW) garage to allow snow removal and other equipment to thaw out between uses; and to spend up to $6,150 for new overhead garage doors at the DPW garage where the current doors are starting to deteriorate and fail. It was noted that the new doors will be much more energy efficient.
In her written report to the council, Parks Director Kristen D’Amico said the ice rink at Oselka Park is up and the fence has been installed around it. Changes due to COVID include not opening the bathrooms or using donated ice skates.
Agreed to a one-time-only payout to employees that have remaining personal and or vacation time on the last paycheck of 2020 at an approximate total cost: $25,000.
Passed a resolution to address local declarations of emergencies to comply with the Open Meetings Act so the city can continue to have virtual meetings to comply with Health Department laws on social distancing and occupancy limits while also continuing to operate within state and federal guidelines.
Agreed to purchase an agency specific policy from Lexipol to update/upgrade the policy manual of the police department to meet recently mandated federal standards at an initial pro-rated cost of $1,667.25 with a yearly fee of $3,334.50 thereafter (although it was noted that the policy discount begins at 25 percent and is reduced by 5 percent each year and the city can get out of the contract).
Appointed Talia Edwards to the Short-Term Rental Appeal Board.