The Ludington City Council Monday supported a resolution to uphold the governor’s most recent executive order requiring face coverings as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The executive order requires face coverings in any indoor public space and outdoors when people are unable to maintain the recommended 6-foot social distance.

The resolution to support Executive Order 2020-147 was developed by the Finance/Personnel Committee for the council’s approval at its meeting held via the Zoom video-conferencing application.

Councilor Dave Bourgette recommended the council consider the position small business owners and employees are put in if they upheld the executive order.

“I believe (the executive order) commanding small businesses to enforce a rule about masks was foolish and put everyone at odds,” said Bourgette during discussion. “Reality is that there are a lot of folks who won’t or can’t wear a mask. There is another group that really doesn’t care, but will wear a mask to be compliant. Then there’s the other group that will wear a mask religiously. I believe the state’s handling of this mask issue has deepened the fracture between these groups and put small businesses... in the middle of it.

“Small business owners and employees are doing the best they can in this terrible situation. The executive order has made business owners, and sometimes young employees, become enforcers.”

Councilor Kathy Winczewski said if there was anything the city could do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, they should do it.

“I agree with (Bourgette), this does put small businesses in a compromised position, but I’m hoping that this resolution will give them support, too,” Winczewski said.

The resolution passed in a 6-1 vote. Bourgette cast the opposing vote.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL FEES

The city council unanimously approved a fee structure for its new short-term rental program, the ordinance for which was approved by the city July 13.

The fee structure includes a one-time application fee of $500; a $1,500 license fee; a $1,500 renewal fee after three years; a $100 fee for each unit inspection; and other associated fees.

CHICKENS IN THE CITY

After a discussion regarding allowing chickens within the city limits, the council sent the topic back to the committee level to gather more information.

The building and licenses committee wanted to wait until all the ward meetings are complete at the end of August, at which point the public will be surveyed about the matter.

Several public comments were made at the beginning and end of the meeting by city residents who were in favor of allowing chickens. A letter was submitted requesting ducks also be included in the discussion when considering letting chickens in the city.

SOCIAL AREAS

The council discussed adding a social area in a designated district downtown where visible consumption of alcoholic beverages would be allowed.

The state recently passed legislation that allows businesses that serve alcohol to apply for a specific license with the purpose of helping small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, explained City Manager Mitch Foster.

The Downtown Development Authority did not make a recommendation for the social area, but left it to the council to consider.

“I think this should be driven based on the response from the businesses and not pushed on (the council’s) behalf,” Councilor Brandy Miller said.

Miller, also a DDA board member, said there isn’t a push from businesses to allow the social district at this time.

“We have time to look at this. We don’t have to do it right away,” said Winczewski.

OTHER BUSINESS

Also on Monday, the city council:

• approved awarding the recommended $35,000 bid to Ruggles & Son Masonry to repair the sidewalk at Waterfront Park;

• adopted a resolution to support the Stimulus Water Restoration Initiative;

• accepted a letter of understanding between the city and Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council to temporarily change the Ludington Police Department’s promotional process;

• and updated the police department’s Mobile Video Use Policy, specifically, the audio video equipment in-car video camera use procedure.