Judge Denies Traverse City Motion To Dismiss Hall Street Project Lawsuit

The lawsuit between Traverse City, Innovo Development Group and the Save Our Downtown civic group continues Monday during a hearing on the city’s motion to dismiss the case. At the heart of the lawsuit is a debate about the height of the property development project on Hall Street in Traverse City.

Judge Thomas G. Power denied the city’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit. He also called for more evidence to be presented as to why roof structures such as heating and cooling systems need to be on the roof.

“They can be placed on the floor like air conditioners. If that’s true, then maybe you can’t do that with the six-story building. I don’t know, ”says Power. “That this could affect the public’s understanding of what they thought when they said 60 feet. I would definitely reject the city’s proposal, that’s for sure. I have to think about the counter-motion. “

A hearing will take place next week, on October 7th, on the plaintiff’s motion, which would prevent the developer from continuing to build without the appropriate permits.

The Hall Street project is a six story, mixed use apartment building. The 88 units are intended for working-class families and will be built on commercial sites.

Section 28 of the Traverse City Charter requires the building to be no higher than 60 feet without a public vote. This section was added in 2016.

“The city ordinance stipulates that the roof of the building must not extend over 60 feet, which we have adhered to. The roof of the main building ends at 18 meters, ”says project architect Chris Miller.

Save Our Downtown argues that structures are planned for the roof of the building that extends above it.

“We found that the site plan includes an elevator or atrium that is up to sixty-five feet high,” said plaintiff’s attorney, Jay Zelenock. “That’s not an inch over 60 feet. This is a violation greater than 15 feet. We thought it was time to go to court and make a decision on this issue because when voters passed Section 28, we felt that it means exactly what it says if the project is over 18 Should be meters long, people’s voting and people’s consent is required before the city can move forward. “

Miller says they have already received multiple permits and have started work on the site.

“We performed all the necessary due diligence for design professionals,” he says. “We spoke to city officials, planning directors, members of the planning commission, planners and various people. We believe that the project complies with all regulations and everything else. “

Zelenock says the city reads the ordinance contrary to the charter when approving the site plans.

“They believe that reading the building code enables them to measure themselves to the top of a building, as a kind of thought like a square to the top of a flat roof line,” says Zelenock. “All equipment, elevators, atriums, chimneys, even those twenty or twenty-five feet above this roof line, only in their heads do not count under the zoning rules.”

Judge Powers has yet to decide on the plaintiff’s second motion, requesting that the Innovo Group not be “grandfathered” in the city charter so that the project can continue as planned.

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