Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 5, 2014

Residents prepared to take rezoning to voters

TRAVERSE CITY — Slabtown Neighborhood residents vowed to take a proposed rezoning to voters if city commissioners approve the change.

Members of the neighborhood association passed a resolution May 1 to pursue a voter referendum if city commissioners approve the West Front Street rezoning request when they meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center. The neighbors object to developer Kemal Cinaroglu’s request to rezone the property to allow construction of four modest homes at the intersection of Madison and West Front Streets. Current zoning would allow construction of three larger houses.

“Everybody is hopeful city commissioners will seriously consider both sides of this and make a decision that is best for everybody and not just the developer,” said Mike Gaines, neighborhood association president. “If the city decides this is a good idea ... we decided we are going to put it before the public in a referendum.”

Residents would have 20 days following the commission vote to circulate petitions and gather 527 signatures from registered city voters. A successful petition drive would suspend the rezoning until after a November vote, said city Clerk Benjamin Marentette.

Commissioners voted 6-1 on April 21 to move the rezoning forward. They have been pounded with emails, phone calls, and personal appeals to reverse their position since. But Mayor Michael Estes said he has a hard time seeing a flip-flop by commissioners.

“Commissioners made pretty strong cases of what their positions were and they tended to be very positive for the rezoning request,” Estes said.

Residents complained about the increased traffic and density created by four homes compared to three homes. They also object to plans for all four houses to use a shared driveway onto Madison Street.

Commissioners said the shared driveway was safer and the project meets the goals of the city’s long-term planning documents. Several commissioners said they didn’t understand the emotional upheaval the proposal triggered.

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