Several Ely residents voiced their opinion on the condition of city roads during the public comments session of the Ely City Council meeting on Jan. 28.
“The streets are horrendous,” said resident Rick Stork. “I haven’t seen this in 15 years. Not one storm drain is open, there’s three feet of water that’s iced over. If you guys don’t do something to get these streets taken care of, come springtime, the citizens of Ely aren’t going to have any streets to drive on.”
One resident did confirm the storm drain on his street had been opened.
Also at the meeting, Fire Chief Ross Rivera reported his volunteer department is “in dire need of a new ambulance.”
The most contentious issue of the meeting became resident Glenn Terry’s request for a conditional special use permit to turn a city residence into a life coach business. Officially, the property is zoned as multi-use. Several neighborhood residents voiced their opposition.
Their arguments centered on the vague business description and the character of the potential clientele. They clearly identified concern over the possible arrival of four classes of people: “the criminal element,” parolees, drug users and anger management patients.
City Attorney Charles Odgers explained the city planning commission had already recommended denying Terry the permit.
“They didn’t know where the clientele would come from,” Odgers said, “which is not the appropriate methodology.”
Terry, who said he has been a counselor and special education teacher here since 1968 addressed the issue. “When we started having suicides, I got concerned,” he said. “Our kids are affected. They are victims of domestic abuse. I want to do it right, I’m trying to do it right. I want to help people.”
Councilman Sam Hanson, a social studies and French teacher at White Pine High School, noted his experience with county youth issues, but deferred to the weight of the public comment he had heard.
“I can’t make a motion knowing the neighbors are opposed to it,” Councilman Bruce Setterstrom said.
Silence reigned, and Terry’s request died for the lack of a motion.
Shortly thereafter, Setterstrom produced a letter sent from the White Pine County Commission to City Administrator Bob Switzer requesting the aforementioned meeting to discuss ground rules about fire service negotiations. The councilman opposed the idea and maintained that any negotiations be conducted through the committee selected by Switzer, which the council unanimously approved.
Setterstrom also created an agenda item transferring the Animal Control Officer under the supervision of the City Attorney, which the council approved.
The Ely City Council meets next on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 5 p.m. at the Volunteer Fire Hall.