City Commissioners Approve ATS Facility & Compensation Increases, Move Ahead on Some Housing Zoning Changes
By Beth Milligan | Sept. 6, 2023
Traverse City commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a special land use permit application from Addiction Treatment Services to open a residential care and treatment facility at 441 East State Street. Commissioners also approved a recommendation from the Local Officers Compensation Commission – an independent board – to increase commission salaries and moved forward several proposed housing zoning changes for more discussion at a September 18 meeting, though other changes were tabled for the foreseeable future.
Addiction Treatment Services Facility
After previously receiving unanimous planning commission support, Addiction Treatment Services (ATS) received the green light from city commissioners Tuesday to open a residential care and treatment facility at 441 East State Street (pictured).
The ATS facility would house up to 10 individuals diagnosed with substance abuse disorder, according to the special land use permit application. “The current plan is to use this home to service those who identify as women, pregnant women, and women with their children,” wrote ATS CEO Paula Lipinski. “The average stay would be 30-60 days (about 2 months). The facility would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with 3-4 staff working during the day and l-2 staff working in the evenings.” Lipinski said the facility would have medical staff available on call 24-7, with Lipinski and the ATS chief clinical officer also reachable 24-7.
According to project documents, ATS bought the property in 2018 from the Women’s Resource Center, which ran a residential shelter for women and their children called Sara’s House. “There’s been a long history of this property providing residential care to women and their children who are experiencing various needs,” said City Planning Director Shawn Winter. “This request builds off of that history, with the exception that it would now allow care and treatment on-site.”
A few people during public comment Tuesday questioned whether the site was appropriate for an ATS recovery facility given its close proximity to The Little Fleet and other downtown bars, suggesting the facility would be better located elsewhere. However, Lipinski said ATS has to make the best use of the assets it already owns, noting the scarcity and cost of land in Traverse City. She also said the organization aims to educate and support residents on how to stay sober while remaining an active part of the community.
“The reality of Traverse City is...pretty much everywhere we go now there’s alcohol served,” she pointed out. Lipinski said the new facility will provide a much-needed resource for women who struggle to find the childcare necessary to allow them to access substance abuse treatment.
City commissioners Tuesday accepted a recommendation from the independent Local Officers Compensation Commission (LOCC) to enact raises for city commissioners. The LOCC meets every odd year to establish commission salaries. No city commissioners serve on the board, and the recommendation of the LOCC goes into effect automatically unless five commissioners actively vote to reject the recommendation. City Clerk Benjamin Marentette encouraged commissioners to think of the increases not as raises for themselves specifically, but for the general seats they hold on the board, as the salary levels will also affect future commissioners.
For the position of city commissioner, the LOCC recommended an increase of 6.2 percent, which would bring the annual compensation to $7,497.59 – an annual increase of $438.12 per commissioner. The LOCC also recommended reestablishing a separate salary level for the position of mayor pro tem, “given the additional duties typically performed by a mayor pro tem, often on behalf of the mayor, and as a city commission leadership representative.” That rate was established at $9,504.72 for 2023, or half the difference between the wage for city commissioner and mayor. For mayor, the salary will also increase by 6.2 percent, bringing the annual compensation to $11,511.84 – an increase of $672.07.
The new compensation levels will go into effect retroactively for 2023. The 2024 salary levels for the commission will be increased according to the Detroit All-Urban Consumer Price Index for the period of December 2022-December 2023.
Housing Zoning Changes
Traverse City commissioners agreed Tuesday to move several proposed housing zoning changes forward for additional discussion at a September 18 meeting – though others were tabled and will not be considered for the foreseeable future.
Commissioners agreed to have more discussion on the following zoning amendments, which are proposed to create more housing density and flexibility in the city:
> Increase Density in the R-1a/b District: Allow duplexes by right.
> Cluster Housing Modifications: Reduce minimum lot size from five acres to one acre; switch from a city commission special land use permit to an administrative SLUP.
> Two Principle Dwellings in R-1a/b: Allow two principle homes on lots that are twice the minimum area without a lot split.
> Dimension Standard Modifications: Reduce minimum lot width in R-1a from 90 feet to 70 feet; reduce minimum lot width in R-1b from 45 feet to 35 feet; reduce minimum lot area in R-1a from 9,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet; reduce minimum lot area in R-1b from 5,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet; increase maximum impervious area in R-1a from 30 percent to 35 percent; increase maximum impervious area in R-1b from 45 percent to 50 percent; increase maximum impervious area in R-1a from 45 percent to 50 percent.
> Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Modifications: Remove the annual cap of 15 permitted ADUs; allow ADUs with duplexes in R-2.
Other changes that had been previously discussed by both the planning commission and city commission were tabled and will not move forward, with not enough commissioners expressing support for exploring them at this time. Those include increasing density in the R-2 district by allowing triplexes and quadplexes, as well as ADU changes that would have allowed ADUs with duplexes in R-1a/b, allowed ADUs with triplexes and quadplexes in R-2, and removed the owner-occupancy requirement for permitting an ADU.
City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht said staff will now take the changes commissioners are still interested in pursuing and craft specific ordinance language for them, which will be discussed on September 18. From there, commissioners could then vote to formally introduce the amendments and take action on them at a future meeting – meaning there will still be multiple meetings before any changes are officially approved.Comment