Niles council thanks commissioner for vote
Several council members and Mayor Mike McCauslin thanked Klimek, who was seated in the audience, for voting against the plan that included purchase of a 26-acre former Honda dealership on Napier Avenue at Interstate 94 in Benton Harbor. Plans call for creating a north-county government services campus at the site, a move seen as controversial based on the views of Niles City Council members, among others, that such a campus should be centrally located.
Klimek and Buchanan resident Mac Elliott voted against the plan and land purchase, which passed on a 7-2 vote. Earlier, the Niles City Council passed a resolution opposing the move.
A new animal control facility will be erected at the site and the county will consolidate there five health department buildings scattered across St. Joseph/Benton Harbor. Current health department facilities in Three Oaks and at the South County Courthouse in Niles are expected to remain, however.
Also Monday night, the city panel confirmed City Administrator Rick Huff's appointment of retired Public Works Director Neil Coulston as manager of the Niles Utilities Department. Coulston, who retired in 2011, will succeed J.W. Rossow, who left the post last year to become a stay-at-home dad.
Also, a second reading was conducted of an amendment to an ordinance impacting historic downtown buildings within a block and on either side of Main Street, between North Fifth Street and the St. Joseph River. The amendment, which now becomes law, requires property owners to install fire or smoke alarm systems costing as much as $1,000.
Also, owners desiring to improve building facades will need to receive approval from a seven-member commission.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: