MACOMB — Jock Hedblade, director of the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, submitted a quarterly activity report Thursday to the city council's community development committee.
Hedblade said he is completing paperwork to have the MACVB once again recognized as part of the statewide "Looking for Lincoln" tourism campaign. Mayor Mike Inman said a city resident once summarized Lincoln's appearances in Macomb by describing the city as "A town so nice that Lincoln stayed twice."
The MACVB director told the committee that he would like to see the city commission a Lincoln statue. "We need a roadside attraction to cause tourists to stop," Hedblade said.
Alderman Gayle Carper asked Hedblade if he could provide advance copies of his quarterly reports so committee members can prepare questions for discussion. Committee members said they were very pleased with the work done since Hedblade took the director's job last December.
Mayor Inman said past MACVB directors seemed to struggle with various demands of the job. "He's been here less than a year," he said of Hedblade. "He seems to get it."
Carper told Hedblade, "People are pleased with how you're getting the big picture. You know what's going on each weekend."
Alderman Mike Wayland, the committee chairman, said he was impressed with this year's Heritage Days, especially with the caliber of onstage entertainment.
In other business, City Administrator Dean Torreson said there would be a public hearing before the city council on August 20 regarding the status of an abandoned alley along Clay Street between Piper Street and Barsi Boulevard.
Torreson said he would not be in favor of the city vacating the property because of neighborhood access issues. Wayland added, "If there are big trucks that need to get to people's back yards, this path is the only way they can do it."
The city administrator said the Macomb Public Works Department should supervise the clearing of tree stumps and rebar now located in the overgrown alley.
Community Development Coordinator Ray Heitner briefed the committee on proposed changes in the city's sign ordinance. He said the changes were necessitated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that communities could not act based on sign content, such as religious or political messages, but could only regulate sign size, height, structure, location, and quantity.
He said the revised ordinance recommends establishment of four "corridors" for billboard placement. These would include: (1) the area surrounding the western bypass; (2) on the north from Tower Road to just beyond the city limits; (3) on the east from Bower Road to just beyond the city limits; and (4) on the west from Deer Road to just beyond the city limits.
"This is great," Mayor Inman said of the plan. "There's a compelling reason to have these billboard corridors for advertising and economic development."
Inman said community groups can continue to pick up temporary sign permits at no charge to advertise their events.

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