Garfield Township, Traverse City Embrace Housing Tools
Garfield Township and The City of Traverse City are among the leading providers in the region in introducing two tools to promote multi-family housing and density: PILOT agreements or tax breaks for affordable / low income housing projects and zoning changes that give developers more flexibility and barriers to construction can eliminate.
Garfield Township planners are reviewing whether additional residential units (ADUs) may be allowed in the township and will be discussing a possible rezoning of an 18-acre site on US-31 and McRae Hill Road that houses apartment buildings this evening (Wednesday) could housing. Meanwhile, Traverse City’s planning officers supported rule changes on Tuesday that could allow for higher density in certain neighborhoods, which are now going to city officers for final approval.
Garfield Township planners have had several discussions over the past few months about options the township could pursue to promote more housing. At the board meeting on August 25, planning commissioners expressed their interest in examining the approval of ADUs or second homes in residential properties such as garages, basements or attic apartments. The city of Traverse City has updated its ordinance in recent years to allow ADUs, and Stephen Hannon, deputy director of planning for Garfield Township, said the township could also consider whether ADUs “could be carried out in ways that reflect the character of the townships fits”. Neighborhoods. He found that most communities that allow ADUs have rules to regulate them comprehensively, including what areas they are allowed in, whether they can be adjoining or freestanding units, minimum lot sizes, and requirements for owner-occupation.
“I think there are a lot of areas where that wouldn’t be an objection to me,” said Molly Agostinelli, city planning commissioner. “There are garages that are not attached to the house that could serve well (as an ADU) for a Munson nurse in a 500-square-foot space.” Any kind of zoning update to enable ADUs would require a public participation process, noted Agostinelli, but said the community should look for “more creative ways” to add affordable housing alongside large housing complexes. Garfield Township is already seeing significant housing complex growth, particularly due to the number of PILOT agreements approved, and is looking for ways to promote more housing without continuing to grant tax breaks. Hannon said the community “needs to be careful about considering more PILOTs” as they have already approved large numbers in recent years.
City planners will discuss ADUs and other options during an update to the housing discussion at today’s 7pm session, with the aim of compiling a list of questions and issues the board hopes to discuss with Housing North visiting expert Yarrow Brown at a scheduled study session to treat on October 27th at the living. The Planning Commission is also being asked tonight to consider the possible zoning of an 18-acre property on the corner of US-31 and McRae Hill Road. The property is divided into zones, with the front part of the property along the US-31 zoned CH Commercial Highway and the rear part of the property being divided into Zones A-Agricultural.
Several developers have expressed interest in the property, which has been for sale since 2016, but “It was difficult to develop a coherent site plan based on the challenges of split zoning,” said Three West realtor and owner Kevin Endres. The parcel also has wetlands and topographical challenges, adding to the development difficulties. “A uniform zoning of the entire property would enable a developer to draw up a plan specially developed for the site, taking these obstacles into account and protecting the sensitive natural areas,” Endres wrote to the municipality.
Endres is representing the property on behalf of Colleen Smith and Ernie Gauthier, who are co-administrators of a trust that owns the parcel. The group will appear before the planners tonight for a conceptual review. This is an informal process that allows the board to provide feedback and raise concerns to applicants before returning to a future meeting with a formal rezoning request. The township staff noted in a memo to the planners that multi-family dwellings “might in some ways be a good fit for the location,” as it would likely have less of an impact than commercial development and would also fit into the township’s master plan. A mix of residential and commercial uses could also be considered, although staff wrote that “Recent development patterns in the community show greater demand for apartment buildings than for new commercial or office buildings, including the planned apartment building near this one Location in the US 31 “. behind the Baymont Inn. “
Traverse’s urban planners on Tuesday helped forward a proposal to city officials for approval, the multiple residential districts – R-9, R-15, and R-29, named for the number of units per acre that each district currently allows – would summarize a single new district called R-3. The new district would have no density restrictions, much like districts C-3 and C-4 of the city. Instead of regulating the number of units, the development would be regulated by parameters such as height limits, sealing limits and setbacks.
Shawn Winter, director of town planning, previously stated that the change is to “manage the size and scale of the box and leave it up to the developers how many units they will cut out within the building”. The new rules would keep buildings fairly uniform and externally regulated, but allow a developer the flexibility to develop either 10 units with three bedrooms or 30 units with one bedroom inside, for example. Winter said lifting the density restrictions could allow more units to be built, especially if there is high market demand for studio or one-bedroom units.
Commissioners discussed at length on Tuesday increasing the permissible impenetrable surfaces – or hard surfaces like concrete, asphalt and roofs – in R-3 to up to 60 percent of the property. Previous limits in the three former R-counts ranged from 35 to 50 percent, with higher percentages allowed for affordable housing. However, with several planners citing concerns about rainwater runoff and the preservation of the city’s green spaces, the board finally set the impermeable surface limit at 50 percent. City commissioners may change this number if they wish while reviewing the proposal.
The planning officers stuck to another apartment proposal with 3: 3 – and ultimately missed the measure – to increase the number of permissible units on a property from two to four in R-2 districts (residential areas with mixed density). “In the past, the city has allowed people to build two separate single-family homes on an R-2 plot,” Winter explained earlier. “Now we’ve added (legal uses) like triplex and duplex so you can have three to four units in the same building.” Several commissioners have raised concerns about a number of laws pending in state law that include local restrictions on short-term rentals all over Michigan. These commissioners said they didn’t want to open R-2 density until they knew if the laws would fail or pass, fearing that they would inadvertently make it easier for investors to devour real estate and build Airbnb triplexes in the city when the legislation went through. The proposal could be re-examined in the future if state legislation fails.