Marquette Council addressing resident concerns about dog

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The city of Marquette is considering changing its ordinances regarding animal protection and control and dangerous and vicious animals after some residents living on the bench have expressed ongoing safety concerns about a dog living in their neighborhood.

“We definitely need to change what we have now. It does not work,” said mayor Steve Weipert at the Nov. 13 city council meeting. “We thought we had control of it, but things don’t always work out as planned.”

The council first addressed the matter at an Oct. 3 public hearing. At the time, the dog’s owner, Heather Brown, was appealing an order/notice of a vicious animal. After public comments from individuals both in support of and against the complaint, Weipert asked audience members to leave so the council could deliberate the issue without interruption. The council, on a vote of 3-1, eventually affirmed the order/notice vicious animal. A letter was to be sent to Brown, advising that the animal must be permanently removed from the residence within three days.

At a special meeting on Oct. 29, the council discussed the issue again and rescinded its previous vote upholding the order/notice vicious animal issued to Brown on Oct. 3, because of concerns about due process.

“There was a complaint about open meetings law,” explained city attorney Jeffrey Swartz, due to audience members being asked to leave the public hearing.

That voided the original decision and has allowed the dog to remain living in Marquette.

“You can start over,” said Swartz, “as long as it’s done slightly differently.”

Several residents attended last week’s meeting and urged the council to do something now, citing continued concerns over the safety of both humans and other pets. They wondered who would be liable if someone is injured?

“Safety is the number-one issue. We’ve got kids involved in this, other adults and other dogs,” Weipert assured. “Don’t feel like we’ve abandoned you. We tried to do what was right, and we’re trying to rectify it.”

Weipert said the city will work to start the process over with a new complaint about the animal.

“We will change our process so, at the end of the situation, we won’t need to get a lawyer involved from the other party,” he added.

In the meantime, he urged residents to contact the Mar-Mac Police if they feel threatened or if any dog becomes a nuisance. 

Weipert said the city, at Swartz’s advisement, will also work to clean up its ordinances, including better defining what constitutes a vicious animal. Swartz said the city may want to consider addressing certain breeds, as well.

“We’ll do the best we can as quickly as we can,” Weipert said.

City wants RFPs for Pleasant Ridge Road drainage improvements

The council approved sending out requests for proposal (RFPs) for Pleasant Ridge Road drainage improvements. Weipert said the city would like to learn more about what an engineer might have in mind for the area, as well as how much the project might cost.

“It’s definitely something that needs to be done,” he said.

RFPs should be submitted by Dec. 28, so the council can consider the options at its Jan. 8 meeting.

Timber Ridge covenant change

The council approved a covenant change request for the Timber Ridge Subdivision that would eliminate a set time period for a lot owner to build on the property. 

Visitors complaining about alternate side parking

Weipert said the city has continued to receive complaints about downtown alternate side parking during the winter months, and sought the council’s input as to whether a change should be made or not. He noted that it’s not residents who have a problem with the situation, but rather railroad employees or visitors to the Cobblestone Inn and Suites.

Weipert wondered if the city should consider taking down the signs for the winter and see how it goes. The city workers could put cones out when they didn’t want people to park somewhere.

But public works director Jason Sullivan said he likes having alternate side parking.

“It’s nice to have them on one side because, if they’re here and there, it’s hard to wing out. Then there are piles,” he explained. “If snow piles up and freezes, it’s like trying to remove concrete. Then you have bumps and less parking.”

City looking for location to shoot off fireworks

Weipert said the city has to know by January where the Fourth of July fireworks will be shot off from in 2019. He noted it’s become too difficult to find a barge to shoot them from, so the city will likely need to find a spot on land.

The casino property is not an option, said Weipert, so he’s checking into utilizing the bluff behind the hotel. The Driftless Area Wetlands Centre may also be an option, he added.

The decision must be made so early, said city clerk Bonnie Basemann, because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue a permit if fireworks will be shot anywhere near the Mississippi River.

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