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Ordinance change allows seasonal sales up to 5 years in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 17, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — In an effort to be more business-friendly, the St. Clair Shores City Council approved a change to the zoning ordinance that will allow businesses to request the sale of outdoor seasonal goods for a period of five years.

The council voted 5-0 March 2 to allow the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant the use of temporary structures for the sale of seasonal goods or products over a period of five years. The seasonal products can be sold from March 1 to Nov. 30 for a period up to five years, provided the temporary structure is removed at the end of the selling period.

The city defines seasonal goods as “goods and/or products that are either not available on the market during certain seasons or periods of the year, or are available throughout the year but with regular fluctuations in their quantities or prices that are linked to the season or time of year. Outdoor seasonal goods/products include but are not limited to packaged soil, packaged mulch, packaged fertilizer, live horticultural products, bundled firewood, tools such as snow shovels and rakes, antifreeze, packaged snow melt products, and other similar products as reviewed and approved by the Community Development Department. Seasonal products do not include any firework products as defined in MCL 28.452.”

In response to a question from Councilwoman Candice Rusie about what businesses should do if they wish to sell things like firewood beyond the Nov. 30 date, City Planner Liz Koto said that businesses could also ask for a variance that would be good for Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, although that might not be for a five-year period.

Prior to the change, businesses had to submit an application and $300 to the ZBA each year to be allowed to display seasonal items outside their stores. This will allow businesses to pay just one $300 fee that will be good for up to five years, if the ZBA approves.

The ZBA does not have to grant five-year variances; rather, it is now able to do so if it feels the business complies with the rules.

City Council members stated previously that stores such as Nino Salvaggio, which sells flowers and mulch outdoors; Ace Hardware; and other long-standing businesses in the community are who the change aims to help.

“This will help out a lot of the businesses here,” said Mayor Kip Walby.

Rusie thanked Councilman John Caron for bringing it to the council’s attention that the same businesses routinely come before the ZBA each year for variances, and those same businesses routinely have the variances granted each year.

Council members Caron and Peter Rubino were absent, but excused, from the meeting.

“It’s an ordinance. Like anything else, (with) four votes, we can change it, too, as time goes on if we find ... we need to update it. This was a topic that’s been coming up sporadically over the years,” Rusie said.

“They’ve been asking for this forever, so (I) really appreciate you guys stepping in and trying to make it happen,” Councilman Ron Frederick added.

Councilman Chris Vitale said that he hopes businesses will be held to the same standards as residents when it comes to storage of things like firewood and mulch, which need to be stored up off the ground.

“This is an example of a good, changed ordinance to be more business-friendly without compromising anything. I think this makes ... sense,” he said.

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