By LOU MUMFORD
South Bend Tribune
7:46 PM EST, December 10, 2012
NILES -- Concerns about a proposal from the Real Life Church to use a portion of city property to temporarily house animals for a live Nativity scene prompted the Niles City Council on Monday night to deny the request on a 5-2 vote.
Council members David Mann and Scott Clark voted in favor of the proposal while Bill Weimer, Tim Skalla, Georgia Boggs, Dan Vanden Heede and Bob Durm voted against it.
The first sign of trouble was a comment by City Administrator Ric Huff that the church had failed to meet a deadline to provide proof of liability insurance for the event, proposed for Dec. 22 at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. Then Skalla mentioned that the church's plan included displaying a star at the top of a flagpole.
"I've looked at that pole ... and it's a very high flagpole,'' he said.
Also at the meeting, the panel rejected the low bid of $16,449 from a Battle Creek-based company for security fencing at the Cherry and North Fifth Street water towers and opted instead for a bid submitted by Niles-based Custom Fence despite the fact the Custom Fence bid was some $700 higher. The vote followed a plea by Skalla that Custom Fence had provided top-notch service at Silverbrook Cemetery.
The council also took steps to assist UltraCamp LLC, an internet-based registration and management service to youth groups and after-school programs, in its efforts to construct a $900,000 business facility near Plym Park. Three resolutions of support included a $60,000 loan from the city's revolving loan fund to assist in the project and the use of $50,000 from the same fund for a parking lot adjacent to the Plym Park tennis courts.
Vanden Heede pointed out that residents who use the tennis courts also will be able to park in the lot.
Staff writer Lou Mumford:
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