Houghton amends parking fines, zoning ordinances

HOUGHTON — Houghton amended ordinances to increase fines for parking violations, as well as creating new permitted uses in the industrial B-3 area.

The amendments raise to $25 several classes of fines that had been $10 or $15. Police Chief John Donnelly said the hikes are meant to deter people who have chosen to pay parking fines in city spots over the stiffer fines at Michigan Technological University.

“They’d say, ‘We’ll just illegally park out here,'” he said.

The amended fee structure is:

•$150: parking in a handicap zone.

•$50: blocking an emergency exit, parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.

•$35: parked between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. (Nov. 1-April 30).

•$25: Outside meter zone, too far from curb, overtime parking, prohibited zone (posted or yellow curb), obstructing traffic, on lawn or side yard, loading zone, bus stop or taxi stand, in alley, parked over 48 hours, private property, on sidewalk, in front of drive, within intersection, within 15 feet of intersection, on crosswalk, double parking, beside street excavation when traffic obstructed, in front of theater, blocking walkway, expired meter.

•$10: overtime (central business district).

The fines double if not paid within 10 days.

The B-3 district was amended to include technology, research and light manufacturing facilities whose operations are contained indoors and do not produce noise, dust, fumes or other environmental or safety hazards.

“We’ve got some SmartZone-style companies that don’t fit our traditional business model, but they do not fit our current industrial zoning model, either,” said City Manager Eric Waara. “We’d like to be able to incorporate those businesses and those higher-tech things within our business community … our zoning is really set up for railroad tracks and logs and smokestacks, and heavy-manufacturing, construction type of things.”

B-3 properties include locations along Sharon Avenue and in the downtown, Waara said.

There were no comments on either ordinance during hearings at the start of the council meeting.