2017-05-20 / News

Several Proposed Developments Scrutinized by Planning Commission

By Jacob A. Ball

The building of several new homes on Mackinac Island was brought for review by the Planning Commission Tuesday, May 9. Most of these homes were approved, and the process of beginning construction will commence following the conclusion of the summer tourist season. One of these homes was approved based on several amendments to the submitted design, and another was postponed until city architect Richard Neumann can complete a full architectural review. Discussion also continued regarding the Shepler’s dock expansion project and the adjacent Waterfront Collection development. Harbour View Inn was given approval for the construction of a permanent barbecue pavilion, and a zoning variance was conditionally approved for a new bed and breakfast on Market Street.

The Mackinac Island Planning Commission received a letter from the city council in response to its inquiry regarding the establishment of a new historic district in the Stonecliffe area. The letter informs the commission that, at least for the forthcoming season, there will not be any further discussion on the creation of a new historic district. City council cited the costs involved in studying the formation of a new historic district.

Following considerable discussion of the building materials and design, the commission approved the plans for a new cottage at Breakwater Point. David and Susan Nelson of Grosse Ile had previously received approval from the Breakwater Point Homeowners Association, with the condition that construction and design follow “all city codes for aesthetics.” The Nelsons had originally planned to install a metal roof over part of the structure, but opposition from the homeowners association forced a change to asphalt shingles. The association was concerned that no other home in the neighborhood had a metal roof.

Many other changes were requested by the Planning Commission, including the requirement for cement or wood siding and use of wood lattice under the porch, instead of vinyl. The Nelsons also agreed to the use of true stone veneer along the bottom of the porch and the chimney. Any further changes to the design plans will require the Nelsons to return to the commission for an amendment.

Plans for the construction of a new home in the Woodbluff area for Tim Westin of Murrieta, California, were approved. Located near the approach zone of the Mackinac Island Airport, plans for the home have been approved by the neighborhood homeowners association.

The exterior color of the home has not yet been chosen, but the association has informed Mr. Westin that they would like to be consulted once it has.

The construction of a new home in the Stonebrook area for Francesco and Angela Viola of Plymouth was tabled until an architectural review can be performed. Any home over 3,000 square feet requires an architectural review before proceeding with approval. The traditional Queen Anne shingle style home was originally designed to occupy portions of all three adjacent lots owned by the Violas, but revised plans have reduced the size of the house while remaining above 3,000 square feet.

The new home will be built using all natural materials, except for asphalt shingles for the roofing and cement cast columns on the front porch. The Stonebrook Homeowners Association gave the project preliminary approval, but final approval has not been issued, as the association would like more details. The plans were tabled until the next meeting following an architectural review and final approval from the homeowners association. An explanation of the stormwater management plan for the home was also requested in writing.

Andrew Doud and Robert Benser, Jr. have requested a zoning variance for a new bed and breakfast they plan to build on Market Street. The lodging will be constructed on a lot occupied by the home of Kay Hoppenrath and will include 18 guestrooms. Updated zoning ordinances now limit the overall height of buildings on Market Street to 30 feet, but they seek approval for a variance to allow the highest point on the structure to reach 32 feet.

In addition to the 32-foot design proposal, a second proposal was submitted with a maximum height of 30 feet that would not require a zoning variance. Mr. Doud explained that, in his opinion, the steeper roof design aided by the extra height will allow for more appealing rooms on the upper floor, and a better exterior appearance of the building. He also added that the exterior of the structure would use wood for all building materials except the asphalt shingles.

Planning Commission Chair Michael Straus said the commission has been trying to reduce the number of variances approved since the revision of the zoning ordinances was completed. He explained that variances are typically approved when it would improve the functionality of a building, but a variance for aesthetic reasons is not necessarily a suitable request. The variance request eventually was forwarded with no opinion to the Zoning Board of Appeals. An additional request from the commission was to include a buffer between the garbage receptacle and bicycle parking on the rear of the lot. The overall project was approved conditionally based on the outcome of the ZBA meeting.

The Shepler’s dock expansion project was tabled until next month owing to unclear changes to the design plans regarding flow, congestion, and dock use. The Historic District Commission has also yet to approve the plans, but the HDC has scheduled a special meeting Thursday, May 25, to consider the project further. The commission was concerned about the size of the structures to be built on the dock and the location of bicycle parking as it pertains to congestion. At the next meeting, the commission has requested diagrams explaining how the flow of passengers will be handled, and have asked Building Inspector Dennis Dombrowski to calculate the amount of dock space occupied by two new structures included in the plans.

The Waterfront Collection South development adjacent to Shepler’s dock was tabled until the next meeting to allow more time for discussion of updates to the plan. Several changes to the layout of the development, including separating the entryways of the planned hotel and retail space, location of bicycle parking, and the design of an exterior staircase, were presented during the meeting. Confusion resulted from a lack of clarity in the plans presented to the Planning Commission. New plans will be provided by the architect of the project at the next meeting.

Harbour View Inn was given approval for the construction of a new permanent barbecue pavilion on the lawn in front of the hotel and the adjacent Harbour View Bed and Breakfast. An architectural review did not raise any significant concerns; the only suggestion was to use cedar shingles for the siding. The pavilion will be open on the sides and will include a ventilation system for the grill to force smoke upwards. Owing to the design of the space, it will be closed in poor weather. The project was approved by the commission based on the condition that a letter agreeing to the use of wood siding is attached to the final design plans.

John Huibregtse received approval for the addition of a fireplace to his home in Trillium Heights. The construction will require the removal of two large windows to make room for the fireplace. The Trillium Heights Homeowners Association sent a letter of support for the renovation. Mr. Huibregtse had sought the input of the city during the application process, which allowed the commission to approve this project without much discussion. The project will also include the installation of smaller windows on either side of the new fireplace.

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