2018-09-08 / News

Zoning Board of Appeals Grants Density Variance for Apartments

The Mackinac Island Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance to a building downtown, which will allow owner Bob Gale to create an additional apartment intended for a single-family residence. The building, which houses the Decked Out retail store on the first floor, will feature five apartments, with a fifth added at the back of the building along the waterfront.

At the ZBA hearing Wednesday, August 29, neighbors and property owners within 200 feet of the building gathered in City Hall. No written statements were submitted, and the only comments were in support of the project. Converting the shortterm rental suites into single-family residential apartments was a welcomed change for nearby property owner Ira Green, who noted that housing downtown is badly needed.

The Planning Commission recommended that the ZBA approve the variance, and the ZBA agreed, granting the exception to the singlefamily density requirements in the commercial district. Members noted that if the apartment were converted to hotel rooms, which are an allowable use in the district, the density of people using the space would be much greater. According to the zoning ordinance, only about two family dwelling units are allowed in the commercial district, but city should be encouraging more single-family housing that could be used yeararound downtown, instead of discouraging it, said ZBA member Anneke Myers.

The variance was granted pending an easement between Mr. Gale and neighboring property owner Anthony Trayser, as they use each other’s property to gain access to their buildings. City attorney Tom Evashevski has been working with Mr. Trayser on behalf of Mr. Gale, and he noted the agreement is coming along.

Mr. Gale’s plan to renovated the back of the Decked Out building and convert a portion of the first floor apartment at the back of the building has already been approved by the Historic District Commission. The dock that stretches from the shore into Haldimand Bay will also be elevated, since it is nearly under water because of the higher lake levels.

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