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‘Smart meters’ installed in city of Crystal Falls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marian Volek   
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:02 PM

CRYSTAL FALLS—Installation of “smart meters” for electric service to residents has been completed, and a public hearing to hear comment on the closeout of the electric utility-automatic meter reading project was held during the City Council’s Sept. 10 regular meeting.
 City Manager Dorothea Olson told the council that all meters have been installed.
 The project was funded in part by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

 “This has not only brought new meters to all homes,” Olson said, “but we were also able to bring new computers for billing software and have eliminated the need for a meter reader.”
 Eventually, the city will have the ability to turn electric service on and off remotely and will be able to provide customers with detailed use reports, allowing residents to adjust their energy use for conservation and efficiency.
 “We are three out of 51 in the WPPI community to implement this,” Olson said.  The use of smart meters will be federally mandated in five years.
 “Additionally,” she said, “installation of the meters made it possible to pinpoint some individual dangers that were subsequently corrected.”
 Public comment was presented by residents Duane and Carol Johnson, who said, in their research, the smart meters pose a danger to health from the electromagnetic radiation associated with their use. “There is a lot of information about this,” said Johnson. “The council should investigate it.”
 He said, in his readings, that the emissions have been linked to asthma, ADD and sleep disorders, among other conditions. “These meters affect all the wiring inside the house and are dirtying our electric wires.”
 Olson said she also had material available for anyone to review about the meters, noting they are no different from cell phones and Wi-Fi emissions.
 Councilman Scott Thrasher thanked the couple for their input. No action was required.
 thrasher addressed members of the audience prior to the council’s meeting, understanding they were in attendance to make comments about a proposed business in the city.
 “I know there are a lot of people here about a retail business in Crystal Falls,” he said.
 “I think it’s premature to address it at this time. There is nothing the City Council can do.”
 He said business proposal is contingent on several issues, including the sale of the county storage garage to the developer and a zoning variance required for a new storage building to be built on property by the school.
 “Any extended public comment is a waste of time,” he said.  “It will have to come to a public hearing when the variance is sought.
 “Officially, we don’t even know what the business is,” he continued.
 “So far, the developer hasn’t asked for anything but the council’s support.”
 Mayor Janet Hendrickson agreed.
 “I don’t want to turn away a business,” she said, “but we need to know a little more about it before we decide anything.”
 Resident Larry Field asked to address the council, saying there was an endorsement for the business by the council, and a resolution made concerning the cold storage building used by the county.
 “You received site drawings,” he said, and explained that several residents began looking into the ordinances, “and it appears there are some things that do not fit.”
 He presented a petition, with over 300 signatures, “not opposing the business, but the location,” next to the Courthouse.
 “It is a residential, historic district,” he said, and noted several tourism booklets that feature the Courthouse district as a site of interest.
 Hendrickson said there has been no further discussion on the issue.
 The council reviewed another issue brought up last month, about parking restrictions on Superior Avenue and the side streets.
 Curb markings and handicapped spaces have not been painted since the city’s streetscape project several years ago.
 Crystal Falls Police Chief Robert Sherwin explained a sketch indicating proposed parking restriction areas.
 “There are a few sight issues,” he said, “we need to get a few feet from the intersections, also driveways and hydrants—we’re going to lose some parking.”
 The council will review the proposed map.
 Olson suggested any painting be postponed until spring, because the city is down on staff now, and the lines would be covered with snow in the winter, anyway.
 There was also an issue brought up last month about trucks using compression brakes in the city limits, particularly on Superior Avenue.
 Sherwin said he had looked into ordinances from other municipalities and found them “confusing.  Also, they can’t override federal standards.”
 Olson wondered if provisions in the noise ordinance would address the issue.
 The council directed her to work with Sherwin and City Counsel Geoff Lawrence on the matter.
 in other businesS:
 --The council approved a per capita contribution to UPSET.
 --The council scheduled a special meeting to discuss health insurance benefits with retired city employees on Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.
 --A recommendation to designate Dickinson County Hospital’s occupational medicine department as a single, qualified medical provider for worker’s compensation claims was approved.
 --The council approved writing off uncollectable accounts, including several charges for billboard use and cemetery charges that were not paid by a local funeral home.
 --The council approved a per capita contribution to the Iron County Economic Development Corporation, budgeted through the city’s Downtown Development Association.
 --Approval was given to the city to purchase the BS&A hardware and software for tax assessing if the county decides to switch to the system.
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