NEW BUFFALO — An ordinance covering both short and long term residential rentals was approved by the New Buffalo Township Board during its Monday, Aug. 19, meeting.

The ordinance provides for annual licensing of all residential rental properties and creates an organized inspection program for all rental units. Short term rentals are defined at rental for 30 days or less, with residential rental defined as 30 days or more. The ordinance does not cover nursing homes, hotels or motels with daily rental units. 

Township building inspector, currently Dan Mandalis, is designated as the officer to ensure that all rental properties are properly maintained and observe all state and township health, fire, noise and zoning codes. In conjunction with the new rental ordinance, the board also passed the internationally recognized Fire Prevention Code ordinance.

The fee and deadline for obtaining the rental license will be set at the township’s Sept. 16 meeting. Applications will then be available by calling (269) 469-1011, extension 121. The licenses will be valid for three years, but inspections can occur at any time if there is a complaint or valid reason to do so. Violation fines can range from $100 to $500 plus costs.

Supervisor Michelle Heit said the township had been working for some time with local realtors and rental agencies to make sure the ordinance covers situations such as those raised by residents of Marquette Drive who were present at the meeting. She said the occupancy limits and fire codes regulate the number of persons that can occupy a unit and thereby will address parking and noise complaints, fire safety and other issues such as overloading the septic systems in the area.

The township also gave its formal acceptance of the Community Master Plan as already approved by the Planning Commission following its July 9 public hearing. The approval is the final step in the Commission’s two-year undertaking to revise and update the plan. The revised plan will soon be available on the township’s website.

A new Rosenbauer tanker fire truck is on order with the acceptance of the proposal for $722,500 from Sentinel Emergency Solutions. The new truck, to be housed in the Clay Street station, will take 395 days to build but the first payment will be made after in early 2020. The new truck will replace two older pieces of equipment.

The board noted the successful completion of the Michigan Shores Water Project by Wightman Associates. The project was undertaken to improve water pressure, especially essential fire hydrant pressure, which was explained by Wightman President Max Davis. He said he is working with the township to assure adequate pressure throughout the township.

Clerk Judy Zabicki commented that various road projects within and around the township had been delayed by the Reith-Riley Construction strike, including those in the Michigan Shores area, the I-94 Exit One project and work on Red Arrow Highway.

In other business, the Township Board approved:

• A reimbursement resolution to allow the board to finance approved major capital improvement projects through bonding if needed;

• A special land use permit for the construction of a new AT&T wireless tower at 19325 Hwy. 12;

• A contract with Indiana Michigan Power calling for the upgrade of current street lights to more energy efficient LED lights at no additional cost to the township;

• The annual renewal of the Poverty Exemption Income Guidelines and Asset Level Test governing exemption from local taxes.

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