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Hearing scheduled to decide Michigan city zoning

The Houghton City Council has scheduled two hearings to discuss issues that have arisen with regard to an apartment complex that a developer wishes to build on the site of the former Good Will Farm. The developer seeks to build a 138-bedroom apartment complex. However, zoning issues have caused delays.

City ordinance requires that the site have 194 parking spaces. The developer requested a variance to allow 150 spaces. In addition, the area is currently zoned as residential. In order to market the apartment complex to graduate students, one- and two-bedroom apartments are desired. In September, the council denied the rezoning request. The issue was raised again at a meeting held on Oct. 10, but the issue was tabled. The Zoning Board Court of Appeals will now consider these requests.

In ruling on the request, the board must consider whether the proposed use would cause traffic congestion or increased noise in the area, in addition to determining if the complex will adversely impact nearby property values. The board will also consider whether the proposed complex would satisfy a need in the community, if it is compatible with other land use in the area and if it is compatible with the city's master plan. The city attorney argues that these factors were not initially considered when the council denied the request for a variance.

Zoning issues can cost time and money for those involved in construction. A real estate attorney may be able to help review zoning regulations before any agreements are made or write in a contingency to allow a sale to be cancelled if zoning issues arise. In addition, the attorney may be able to present the request for a variance to the city or argue an appeal.

Source: The Daily Mining Gazette, "Houghton City Council schedules additional public hearings on proposed Julien apartments", Garrett Neese, October 18, 2013

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