Traverse City News and Events

Commission Delays Vote On Blighted Building Program

By Beth Milligan | Sept. 17, 2019

Traverse City commissioners Monday delayed a vote on a program that would allow owners of blighted or obsolete buildings in Traverse City to receive tax benefits for redeveloping them, citing a need for more information and discussion before approving the program.

Commissioners were set to consider adopting a policy that would allow the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) to operate in Traverse City. The state program has been in place since 2000 and offers a tax incentive to “assist in the redevelopment of older buildings in which a facility is contaminated, blighted, or functionally obsolete,” according to program documents. Eligible projects – which must result in a commercial or mixed-use building – could have their taxable values frozen for up to 12 years, providing owners a considerable savings on property taxes. While offered by the state to qualifying communities – including Traverse City – for nearly two decades, city officials until now have never adopted a process for local applications to be considered.

Several commissioners expressed an interest in holding a study session to discuss the program in-depth before adopting it in Traverse City. "I’m quite skeptical about this (program), but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t be convinced," said Commissioner Tim Werner. "A study session might give us (review) time without the pressure of a vote." Other commissioners agreed and tabled the item Monday, with staff instructed to put the topic on the agenda at an upcoming study session.

Commissioners also set an October 7 public hearing regarding a residential permit parking program for city neighborhoods. The program would allow residents in certain areas to obtain free permits to park beyond posted time limits on their streets. Commissioners could vote immediately after the public hearing at the October 7 meeting to approve the program. The commission also made several appointments to city boards and committees Monday, including appointing Scott Morey to a three-year term on the Parks and Recreation Commission, Nelson Asper and Andrea Deibler to three-year terms on the Brown Bridge Advisory Committee, and Werner to the city commission’s adult-use (recreational) marijuana ad hoc committee. The ad hoc is working with City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht and City Attorney Benjamin Marentette on possible city regulations for recreational marijuana facilities.

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