St. Clair ShoresAugust 20, 2012
Another reprieve for business masonry walls
By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer
A “business-friendly initiative” is being given more time in St. Clair Shores, with City Council deciding to wait one more year to enforce the requirements for masonry walls between commercial and residential properties.
“We chose two years kind of arbitrarily, thinking that would allow the local economy to rebound,” said Councilwoman Candice Rusie, pointing out that the initiative was the idea of former Councilman David Rubello. “There’s been improvements to the business climate and business economy, but it hasn’t totally rebounded yet.”
In discussing the issue Aug. 6, Rusie said masonry walls “can be very expensive” and recommended waiting one more year before enforcing the rules, “just to continue being business-friendly.”
The moratorium expired in July, and if it had been allowed to lapse, it would have affected 33 businesses in the city.
Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said the only property owner the city hoped to work with, even with an extended moratorium, was the owners of Pat O’Brien’s Tavern, who bought the property directly west of the restaurant.
The temporary fence there, Rayes said, “is in terrible disrepair.”
“In those kind of cases, it kind of hamstrings us a little bit,” he said. “They’re aware of it, and they want to try to work something out.”
Rusie said she would like the city to have the power to work with business owners where temporary fences are falling apart, giving them the choice of building a new privacy fence or erecting the brick wall that will be required when the moratorium is allowed to expire.
“Let them make that choice,” she said.
And City Council members said they wanted businesses to be aware that the expense would be coming, sometime.
“I think we should send a letter, for sure, that alerts all these businesses,” said Mayor Kip Walby. “They’ve been given dispensation for another year, and they should expect … to put a wall up after that.
“If we don’t tell them or alert them, it is going to come as a shock.”
The motion approving a one-year extension to the moratorium, and also giving CDI the flexibility to work with business owners with dilapidated fences, passed unanimously.
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