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 strategies for 2022 are: Training Strategies 2023

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 committees of members to work on projects.  The planning commission requires a large time commitment.

2023-24 Planning Commission Schedule

Agendas and packets will be available in the Searchable Document Center of the website usually 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 by 4:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting.  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.  

Current Members:

  • Eric Waara, City Manager
  • Brian Irizarry, Mayor
  • Tom Merz, Chairperson, Educational Representative, Term Ends 2024
  • Joan Suits, Mayor Pro Tem, Citizen Planner, Governmental/Municipal/Housing/Human Services, Term Ends 2024
  • Kristine Bradof, Environmental Representative, Citizen Planner, Term Ends 2026
  • Bill Leder, Vice Chairperson, Citizen Planner Transportation/Utilities/Communication Representative, Term Ends 2024
  • Dan Liebau, At Large Representative, Term Ends 2026
  • Norma Veurink, Industrial/Economic Representative, Term Ends 2025
  • Ben Ciavola, Recreational/Tourism, Term Ends 2025

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 Joan Suits.

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
  • Karyn Olsson
  • Darrell Guitar
  • Alan Kiley
  • Eric Waara, City Manager
  • Dennis Garver

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
  • Mary Kaminski
  • Sandra Cooney

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
  • Kathie Richards
  • 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
  • Tim Scarlett
  • Douglas Patrick
  • 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