Traverse City News and Events

City Commissioners Approve Vacation Rental Changes

By Beth Milligan | July 21, 2020

Traverse City commissioners voted Monday to change the city’s rules for short-term vacation rentals in two commercial zones, the C-1 (office service) and C-2 (neighborhood center) districts - just one of several items they tackled as part of a busy meeting agenda, with some issues being deferred to future meetings due to time constraints.

Traverse City's C-1 and C-2 zones are primarily located in neighborhood areas just outside the city core, such as along Woodmere Avenue, parts of Garfield Avenue, south Union Street, Fourteenth Street, north Eighth Street, the far ends of East and West Front Street, and Randolph Street. While planning commissioners hoped to completely eliminate short-term rentals in C-1 and C-2, city commissioners modified the proposal to say that developers with two or more units on a property can use either one unit or 25 percent of units – whichever is greater, depending on the building size – as vacation rentals as long as the remaining units are long-term rentals. The new rules will only apply to new developments in C-1 and C-2 going forward, with existing licensed vacation rentals in those districts grandfathered in.

Also at Monday's meeting...
> Commissioners approved an agreement for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to complete a $1.1 million redesign of Division Street between Tenth and Griffin streets later this year. Work will include adding a northbound left turn lane at Eleventh Street leading into The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a pedestrian refuge island at Eleventh Street, a landscaped median with pedestrian islands from Eleventh Street to Griffin Street, and new sidewalk on the east side of Division between Eleventh and Fourteenth streets. The city’s responsibility for the project will include installing an irrigation system to maintain the landscaped median and possibly adding lighting enhancements, as well as owning and maintaining the new sidewalk. Work will reduce traffic flow to one lane in either direction at times on Division when the project starts, with an official start date not yet announced.

> Commissioners approved the preliminary design for a new roundabout to be installed at the intersection of Parsons and Airport Access roads – replacing the existing traffic signal with the first roundabout to be built within city limits. Planning commissioners already approved the project as being consistent with the city’s master plan in March. MDOT will provide $540,000 in grant funding through its Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) for the project, while Traverse City is required to contribute a $60,000 match, plus engineering and surveying costs. According to city staff, the redesign will offer significant improvements for pedestrian and cycling safety and reduce idling traffic at the intersection.

> After a recent project to line a sanitary sewer pipe on East Front Street came in $44,549 under budget, city staff recommended using the cost savings to line a failing storm drain under Madison Street. Commissioners approved a $30,100 contract with Corby Energy Services to install a liner on the 24-inch corroded pipe, which will help prevent constant road repair projects – such as pothole patching – being caused on Madison by the failing drain.

> Commissioners agreed to schedule an August 3 vote to rezone property at 1028 Carver Street to allow a new multi-family development from Homestretch to be built on the site. Planning commissioners already unanimously supported the rezoning request, which will allow Homestretch to build up to 10 affordable rental units on the property, with rents likely ranging from $675 to $875 per month.

> Commissioners also scheduled August 3 public hearings to take input on applying for two Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants for city parks. Those would include a $50,000 grant application for park playground equipment and upgrades at Boon Street Park, with a $50,000 match to be provided by the city through the Brown Bridge Trust Parks Improvement Fund. The city also plans to apply for a $300,000 grant for Union Street Dam Park improvements as part of the FishPass project, including a kayak ramp, gangway, launch, and portage rail, a boardwalk, fishing access infrastructure, and site amenities. Another $340,000 in outside matching dollars are expected to be provided for the project through FishPass funding sources if the grant application is successful.

> Commissioners pulled several items from Monday's meeting agenda due to time constraints, including a vote to support putting a millage request from the Joint Recreational Authority on the ballot in November, approving a $16,480 contract with Gosling Czubak to update the city’s five-year recreation plan, and a vote to officially transfer ownership of Orchardview Townhomes from the city to the Traverse City Housing Commission. Those items are expected to appear on agendas at upcoming meetings.

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