There are five city commissions and boards that require valuable volunteer time by community members. Attached is a handbook detailing the appointment process and procedures for commission and board members to follow. If you are interested in serving on one of Houghton’s commissions or boards, please review the handbook and fill out the attached application and return it to the clerk.  The council may choose to interview applicants for some positions before making an appointment.  Training is important for members to attend to best serve the city.  Training priorities for 2021 are: Training Priorities 2021


RESOLUTION 2020-1758



The following resolution was presented by Councilor Lankton.

WHEREAS:                Public Act 254 of 2020 made changes to the Open Meetings Act to allow members of a public body to attend a public meeting remotely under the following circumstances:  military duty, a medical condition, statewide or local state of emergency or state of disaster declared pursuant to law or charter; and;

WHEREAS:                Public Act 254 of 2020 requires public bodies to create rules of procedure by which the absent member(s) may participate in, and vote on, business before the public body.

NOW, THEREFORE, The Houghton City Council provides the following Rules of Procedure covering all public meetings of the council and all commissions for the City of Houghton through December 31, 2021.

  1. All meetings of City of Houghton public bodies shall provide two-way communication between all members of the public body and the public.
  2. From October 28, 2020 through March 31, 2021, any member of the public body may attend the meeting remotely without stating a reason.
  3. Beginning April 1, 2021, any member of the public body may attend the meeting remotely for one of these reasons:
    1. Military service.
    2. Medical condition (meaning an illness, injury, disability, or other health-related condition).
    3. Quarantine as recommended by a healthcare provider or as required by the local health department, state, or federal government.
  4. Any member of the public body attending the meeting remotely will announce the following during roll-call and this information will be noted in the minutes of the meeting:
    1. That the member is attending the meeting remotely and report the city and state from which he or she is attending the meeting remotely. Members on military service do not need to state their location.
    2. Beginning April 1, 2021, the reason listed in 3 above that the member is attending the meeting remotely.
  5. If one or more members of the public body are attending the meeting remotely, all votes of the council or commission will be taken by roll-call.

Adopted at a Regular Meeting of the Houghton City Council held on the 28th day of October, 2020.

Planning Commission

The Planning Commission consists of the mayor, city manager, one council member, and six citizen members. The commission has powers and duties set forth by the Michigan Planning Enabling Act and the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act. The commission meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the City Center. The commission may hold special meetings when necessary and often appoints subcommittees of members to work on projects.

Agendas and packets will be available in the Searchable Document Center of the website on the Thursday before the regular meeting by 5:00 p.m.  Correspondence to be presented to the commission at the meeting must be provided to the Clerk on the Thursday prior to the next meeting by noon to be included in the packet.  Correspondence must state the name of who is submitting it.  Correspondence will be read at the meeting. Attachments to e-mail messages will not be included.  Correspondence that arrives too late for the packet will still be read at the meeting with the correspondence added to the website packet after the meeting.

Current Members:

  • Eric Waara, City Manager
  • Robert Backon, Mayor
  • Tom Merz, Chairperson
  • Mike Needham
  • Kristine Bradof
  • Bill Leder, Vice Chairperson
  • Dan Liebau
  • Michele Jarvie-Eggart, Secretary
  • Jennifer Julien

Members attend training sessions as they are offered throughout the year. At this time three of our members are Michigan Citizen Planners: Kristine Bradof, Bill Leder, and Jennifer Julien.

Downtown Development Authority and Tax Increment Finance Authority (DDA/TIFA)

The DDA/TIFA is comprised of the city manager and eight citizen members. At least five of the members must own property located in the downtown district and one member must be a resident of the downtown district. The DDA/TIFA board approves the budgets and projects for the authorities. The DDA/TIFA meets at least two times per year at the City Center. Special meetings are called when necessary.

Current Members:

  • Richard Gray, Chairperson
  • John McRae, Vice Chairperson
  • Jeff Bugni, Secretary
  • Mike Tomasi
  • Jack Swift
  • Darrell Guitar
  • Alan Kiley
  • Eric Waara, City Manager
  • John Sullivan

Board of Review

The Board of Review serves at a system of checks and balances between the assessor and the general public. Every March, the board receives and examines the assessment roll from the assessor and hears appeals from property owners regarding their assessments and values established by the assessor. In July and December, the board meets to approve qualified errors that are discovered after the March meetings. Board members must be able to meet for a total of 12 hours on two different days in March. The remaining meetings during the year last approximately one hour.

Current Members:

  • Debra Zei
  • Hilary Sproule
  • Cameron Herrington

Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA)

The Local Development Finance Authority was created in 2001. At that time the State of Michigan approved the SmartZone designation for the authorized Tax Increment Financing district including the Cities of Houghton and Hancock. SmartZones were created to spur the development of technology based businesses in communities with technology based universities. The LDFA board is a partnership with members from both the Cities of Houghton and Hancock and one at-large member.

Housing Commission

The Housing Commission meets once per month at Heritage Manor. The commission oversees the director who manages the day-to-day operations of Heritage Manor and 30 family houses located throughout the city.

Current Members:

  • James Gentry
  • Hazel Tepsa
  • Jean LaBerge
  • Polly Salmi
  • Debra Zei
  • Paula Megowen

Portage Lake District Library Board

The property owners in the City of Houghton and Township of Portage fund the Portage Lake District Library. The Houghton City Council appoints four of the members of the board from residents of the city. The remaining members are appointed by the Township of Portage. The library board oversees the director who manages the Library located on the waterfront in downtown Houghton. The board meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the library.

Current Houghton Members:

  • Jennifer Donovan
  • Joan Suits
  • Bob Kinnunen
  • Gloria Melton

Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals is comprised of the five regular council members with the mayor and mayor-pro-tem serving as alternates if needed.  The Zoning Board of Appeals meets when necessary to hear requests for variances and appeals of decisions made by the zoning administrator.

aerial view of the city of Houghton and lift bridge