Boathouse ballot initiative ends after decision comes from commission meeting

MARQUETTE – The steering team of the Marquette Citizens for City Lakeshore Preservation is withdrawing its initiatory ballot proposal following the actions by the Marquette City Commission at its meeting last Monday.

The MCCLP team had been conducting a petition drive for ordinances to be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot that would prohibit private development on city-owned waterfront property and mandate public facilities, structures and buildings constructed on city-owned property east of Lakeshore Boulevard or Lake Street be for public use only, both in perpetuity.

The initiative stemmed from the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club’s proposal to build a boathouse at Founders Landing.

“If the city leadership is willing to rezone city-owned waterfront to accommodate a private club, our efforts are moot,” said Rita Hodgins, an active member of the initiative, in an email.

The commission Monday listened to the recommendations of Marquette Police Chief and Harbor Master Mike Angeli regarding a boathouse just south of the Hampton Inn.

Angeli told the commission Monday he had been in discussions with the UPCRC to discuss alternatives to the original site.

“Eventually staff and the UPCRC agreed to move ahead with planning the boathouse at the Hampton site with limitations that we hoped were designed to address both city commission concerns and public concerns, knowing full well that I was not expecting to take care of everybody’s concerns or every concern possible,” Angeli said at the meeting.

Angeli also said the club would pay for the facility and fund ongoing legacy costs, although the city would own the building.

Angeli said he would seek an extension of the Conservation Recreation zoning to be consistent with zoning currently at Founders Landing.

On March 10, the commission voted 6-1 to direct the city attorney to prepare a license/lease agreement for the boathouse. MCCLP then launched a petition drive in late March asking the commission to withdraw its boathouse and hold public forums to assess the needs of all human-powered watercraft.

“After over 500 signatures were obtained including the signatures of nine former mayors, Commissioner (Don) Ryan indicated there was no need for more public input,” Hodgins said. “There had been ample opportunity for the public to be involved.

“MCCLP did not agree with this and felt there had to be a way to allow the people of the city of Marquette to have their voices heard.”

Petition-signing efforts for an initiatory ballot proposal began June 9, she said.

Hodgins said when “countless hours of volunteer time” had been spent toward development of a Master Plan and zoning ordinances developed after much public input and deliberation, the decision to rezone a valuable piece of city-owned lakeshore is not a small decision.

“It is huge,” Hodgins said. “It appears that zoning ordinances have no teeth.”

Hodgins thanked the people who signed the initiatory ballot proposal and Commissioner Sara Cambensy, who cast the lone “no” vote March 10.

Recall language for commissioners Mike Coyne, Dave Campana and Sarah Reynolds because of their March 10 votes was denied by the Marquette County Election Commission Wednesday. The language was brought forth by Mike Neiger, who had been involved in the ballot initiative but was acting on his own apart from the MCCLP.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is