BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners likely will approve a $7,650 contract, plus expenses, to find a new city manager and consider extending a zoning contract that could bring 102 new apartments to the city.
Commissioners will cover both issues when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m., a day later than usual, thanks to the Presidents' Day observance, when the city and most governmental offices will be closed.
Commissioners discussed hiring the Michigan Municipal League to screen candidates and protect applicant confidentiality during a study session Feb. 11. Six of seven commissioners said they could agree to abandon the hands-on approach that allowed them to review every application in 2008 when the commission settled on current City Manager Ben Bifoss. Commissioner Mike Gillman missed the meeting.
Commissioners also will be asked to extend a conditional zoning approval from single- to multi-family zoning to allow Traverse State Bank to develop six apartment buildings on M-72 near the Morgan Farms development. The city approved the project in 2011, but it never got off the ground.
The initial developer failed to raise enough money to purchase the property from the bank or start the project and transferred his interest to a second developer, documents show. The second developer died, wrote Doug Mansfield, who's been project manager from the beginning.
Two Illinois men who run separate real estate development and property management companies have taken on the project. If the city extends the rezoning for another year, the developers will have until May 2014 to complete 75 percent of the project.
The planning commission recommended the extension.