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Hancock City Council announces veterans ride program, discusses holiday festivities and HB 4722

HANCOCK — During the Hancock City Council meeting Wednesday, City Manager Mary Babcock announced a pilot rideshare program for veterans. Working in conjunction with the Houghton County Department of Veterans Affairs, the city is offering free rides to and from Hancock for veterans.

“The program has been set up and the veterans group will pay for the rides at a very slightly discounted rate compared to a pass, and the drivers have been educated on the type of ID that is acceptable for the passengers,” Babcock said. “So we’re kind of piloting this to see how it goes, to see whether there is interest and we hope it goes well.”

Babcock also provided details on the City’s annual Christmas walk and other holiday events.

The Christmas walk will take place on Friday, Nov. 26 and will include cookie decorating, book readings, dog sled rides, and hot chocolate stands beginning at 5 p.m. A Christmas parade will start at the Fire Hall at 5:30 p.m. and end at Memorial park where a tree lighting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m.

Santa and the Grinch will both be present at the festivities. Shops in downtown Hancock are participating in a window decorating contest, and volunteers are constructing decorative Christmas houses and other items for the events.

Babcock also stated that she would be re-submitting the council’s Resolution 2116 to Rep. Greg Markkenan and Sen. Ed McBroom. The Hancock City Council passed this resolution in May in opposition to HB 4722.

HB 4722, a bill that recently passed Michigan’s House, would prevent municipalities from banning short-term rentals, and restrict their ability to regulate rental properties of all kinds.

At the end of the meeting, Councilor John Haeussler, who voiced his opposition to HB 4722 at the last City Council meeting, discussed the bill further. Haeussler said that he had been contacted by multiple Hancock residents about the bill.

“Everyone in contact with me was uniformly opposed to the bill,” he said, before going on to discuss the bill’s language. Haeussler said he hoped to clear up some misunderstandings about what properties and zoning areas that the bill would apply to.

“For the purposes of zoning, it applies to all rentals of dwellings within the municipality,” he said. “That’s all rentals of a dwelling in every zone of a city.”

He also discussed the impact that the bill could have on the city’s revenue.

“If you’re renting on a short term basis, you’re not usually a resident of the municipality. And I think people forget that a big chunk of our money is based on shared revenue and that shared revenue formula is based on our census cap,” he said. “The more short term rentals you have in your housing stock, the less residents you have relative to the same amount of housing.”

The council also reappointed members to the Recreation Commission, the Cemetery Board of Trustees, the Local Development Finance Authority, and the Portage Lake Water and Sewage Authority. The Council canceled the City Council meeting that had been scheduled for Jan. 5 due to schedule conflicts.

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