Traverse City Commissioners discuss changes to tourist home ordinance

Traverse City Commissioners discuss changes to tourist home ordinance.

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- It was a packed house Monday night when the Traverse City Commissioners met to discuss potential changes to the tourist home ordinance.

Right now tourist homes in Traverse City cannot rent out more than 3 rooms to visitors.

The recommendations for changing the ordinance were made by a City Commission Ad Hoc Committee.

The Ad Hoc Committee wants to require the homeowner to be present while guests are staying in their home.

One recommendation is to have two types of tourist homes.

One type would be a high intensity tourist home where no more than three rooms could be rented out.

Another type would be low intensity where no more than two rooms could be rented out.

Commissioners are also recommending at least 1,000 feet between high intensity tourist homes and 300 feet between low intensity tourist homes.

Several people addressed commissioners during public comment with their concerns.

"The emphasis has been on restrictions and regulating this and trying to squeeze the life out of this to make sure nothing bad happens. We're sharing our homes. People are sleeping in beds. People are showering there. Where is this fear coming from?" said one man during public comment.

Another woman addressed commissioners saying that she would like to operate a tourist home, but isn't able to under the current rules.

"I am that person that wants to come under your umbrella and be a legal tourist home. The last two years I've gone in December and there's another home within a thousand yards or a thousand feet so I can't register," said the woman.

Some commissioners hope that by having two different types of tourist homes, more people will have the chance to operate them if they wish, since the separation requirement would be between the same types of tourist homes rather than between high intensity and low intensity tourist homes.

Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers expressed concerns during the meeting about the rules would be enforced under the new licensing system for tourist homes.

"People have legitimate fears and just because you don't have a fear doesn't mean your neighbor has a fear and you can chastise them for not having a fear," said Carruthers.

No final decisions regarding changing the tourist home ordinance were made Monday night but commissioners are expected to discuss the topic again at their next meeting and they could at that time vote to enact an ordinance.

According to the city clerk's office Traverse City currently has 22 licensed tourist homes.

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