Rezoning Slabtown property a possibility despite residents' concerns

The corner of Madison and Front Streets could look different if an ordinance change is approved.

Traverse City commissioners voted to address a rezoning issue despite it not being recommended by the cityâ??s planning commission.

The northwest corner of Madison and Front Street is a vacant lot right now. A developer wants to turn that into four houses, which requires that the land be switched from zone R-1b (single family dwelling district) to C-1 (office service district). Around forty people were at Mondayâ??s meeting. Many of them spoke against the proposal.

The current zoning allows for three houses. An alley would need to be created to access the houses off of Madison.

People who live on Madison and in the surrounding community spoke out against the change saying it would ruin the value of their homes and create safety issues.

â??I just don't see the benefit of adding one more home to fit one more family into our city is worth the cost to the whole neighborhood,â?? said one resident.

Residents spoke for the better part of an hour regarding the traffic issues the proposal could create.

â??The traffic needs to be addressed before we add 8-12 more cars from those houses,â?? another resident added.

Commissioners took their time responding to the residents' concerns.

They voted to introduce the amendment to conditionally rezone the Slabtown parcel, saying the proposal could help create more affordable housing within Traverse City.

Commissioner Gary Howe said the proposal addresses the needs of the growing young professional demographic.

â??You're not going to have young people who want to live alone buy 18-thousand square foot homes. They want smaller homes. They don't want yards that they need to necessarily take care of,â?? said Howe.

Commissioner Jim Carruthers echoed those statements, saying a developer recently told him that moderate homes on small lots are the most desirable houses on the market.

Residents at the meeting were visibly upset. As soon as a majority of the commissioners said they were in support of the proposal, people in the crowd started getting up to leave.

It was not a unanimous vote.

Commissioners will be voting on the possible enactment of the rezoning at their May 5 meeting.