2010-03-18 / Front Page

Fortner: Repeal canopies ordinance

BY SARAH FISH STAFF WRITER

DAVISON — Mayor Fred “Mac” Fortner would like to see another step taken to ensure the canopies will remain on Main Street downtown.

With a request that sparked fury from the audience and contention on the board, Fortner added a discussion of the accessory provisions ordinance to the March 8 agenda at the last minute.

“We’re going to be dealing with in 2013 with the street being paved from Clark to Flint streets and … there are a lot of merchants that, I think all of them, that would like to have the canopies remain with the exception of the one that’s going to be removed this weekend,” Fortner said, referring to the canopy over Elixer which was removed March 14. “With our times the way it is, I would like to take a look at possibly repealing the part where the people who want to keep their canopies can go ahead with their facades and maintenance by being able to move their posts back and allowing them to do with their property.”

Fortner was referring to ordinance 1280.07, which has a portion that bans canopy columns in the sidewalk area.

Mayor Pro Tem Tim Bishop asked Fortner if he had brought it to the Downtown Development Authority, which generally deals with canopy concerns. Fortner said he had not, which frustrated Bishop as well as several members of the audience.

“It’s a city ordinance and I sit on the DDA,” Fortner said, defending the discussion item. “I’ve been asked by property owners to bring it up to you guys. The property owners and taxpayers, when they ask me to do something then I’m going to bring it up.”

Councilman Roger Lutze said he had talked with one business owner who would like the canopy to remain, but wants to improve the existing canopy.

“I know that he has been very adamant against the removal of the canopies and he still doesn’t want them taken down, but he does want to improve the canopies in front of his business,” said Lutze. “He does want to improve them for his property.”

Councilman Don Csutoras, who sits on the planning commission and has opposed the council’s repealing of other ordinances, said he thinks the ordinance should remain unless justified.

“You’re going to end up with a hodge podge down there that could look a lot worse than it does right now,” said Csutoras. “I think that the ordinance was put in for a reason and it should stay unless they come to us and can show a substantial reasoning as to why it should be changed.”

The DDA added the item to their March 17 agenda, so the board could decide whether or not to formally request that council repeal the ordinance.

Fortner said he was asked by property owners to bring the item to the council. Fortner, who used to own Davison Home Bakery, has adamantly opposed removal of the canopies in the past.

“No I did not (seek comment from DDA),” Fortner told Bishop. “But I talked to property owners and they are the ones that own the property so if they ask me to bring it to council, I’m going to bring it to council. It’s only discussion, I don’t understand your hostility.”

Bishop, visibly frustrated by the discussion, explained his feelings.

“I’m sick of sitting on a board that repeals ordinances every week,” Bishop said, which was followed by claps from the audience.

After discussion at the DDA March 17, the item is planned to be on the March 22 City Council agenda.

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