UTV operation, senior housing on Marquette council agenda

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

The Marquette Council, at an upcoming meeting, plans to discuss allowing ATVs and UTVs to operate on city roads. Mar-Mac Police Chief Robert Millin made the suggestion at the June 14 council meeting, citing requests from multiple residents.

 

“Currently, it is illegal, per city code,” Millin said. “But there are already people up on the Bench who do it. We exercise discretion up there when it comes to that.”

 

ATVs and UTVs have become increasingly popular in the area, the chief noted.

 

“Everywhere around Marquette, especially on the county roads, you can drive. But once you get to city limits, you can’t operate them,” Millin continued.

 

The nearby city of McGregor even updated its ordinance a few years ago, permitting usage as long as it’s on city streets and not highways.

 

Marquette City Clerk Bonnie Basemann said the difficulty in Marquette is that two state highways, Highway 76 and Highway 18, run through the community. 

 

“The way the state code is written, you can’t ride on state highways,” she stated.

 

But Millin said a recent bill signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds would change that, allowing UTV operation on highways as long as speed doesn’t exceed 35 mph—and as long as it’s a direct route to and from a residence, trails or other recreation.

 

“If they live on the Bench, they could drive on the highway to McGregor to get to the county roads. Or through Marquette to Pleasant Ridge, as long as it’s the most direct route. Or to the marina,” Millin explained.

 

With go-ahead from the council, Basemann said she would put the topic on next month’s agenda. The city attorney will also work on updating the city ordinance.

 

Senior housing discussed

Another big topic on last week’s agenda was senior housing and how the city could focus on development itself or make a building site more attractive to potential developers.

 

“It’s been a major goal of both the mayor and people on the council to get elderly housing lined up in the city of Marquette, but we’ve not had a lot of luck finding a developer who’s interested,” said council member Dave Schneider. 

 

Basemann has already reached out to an engineering firm to develop a scope of work and potential conceptual designs.

 

“If we have conceptual designs, maybe it will be easier to find a developer, or use for grants to start planning,” she said.

 

The city could also consider clear cutting and prepping the proposed senior housing site between the Mar-Mac police station/city shop and Gencor, as well as adding water and sewer infrastructure.

 

“There are CDBG grants to help with that. I think we could maybe qualify up to $300,000,” Basemann told the council.

 

Those efforts could generate interest, said council member Tracy Melver.

 

“If we do prep the site somewhat, get water and sewer to it, maybe that will make it more attractive for someone to come in,” he noted.

 

Schneider hopes this action will serve as the kickstart the project needs.

 

“My personal belief is, and talking to other people in the community, we need elderly housing for people to transition into so they can stay in the city of Marquette. Then, we open up housing for young families who want to move to the city of Marquette,” he said. “It’s something, as a council, that’s important for us to look at. It’s something we can help with.”

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