TRAVERSE CITY-- A growing number of people are living small.
Take Jeff Anderson and Sandi McArthur, who live in an 800-square-foot home just north of Cedar in Leelanau County. They enjoy a cozy woodstove, a gorgeous view, and cross country skiing. Their utility bills are pretty nice, too, totaling less than $1,100 a year.
"I've gone so far left, I've turned right," Anderson joked. "It's a conservative, very practical choice."
Tiny homes take a lot of thought, first to design, and then owners must decide what to possess — as in two sweaters instead of 10, he said.
"Right now, a lot of people use the environment as a dumping ground for poor thinking," he said.
Ray Minervini, developer of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons on Traverse City's west side, reported huge demand for his 350-square-foot condos. Some rent for as low as $450 a month.
"There are no vacancies," he said of the 15 smallest units. "And if we had 50 more of those units, we could rent or sell them immediately."
For some, the condo is a second home. For others, it's their only home.
"You just scale down and get rid of things you don't need," he said.
Minervini might build another cottage of mostly small units. People like them because they're affordable and in town, he said.
Nationally, the average new home size peaked at 2,500-square feet in 2007 and has shrunk since. A 2,150-square-foot average is predicted by 2015, according to The Demand Institute May 2012 report.
Minervini said the new trend is a throwback to the post-World War II, when 800-square-foot homes were trendy. Over the decades, houses grew and grew, but so did the expense.
"You have to generate a hell of a lot of revenue to keep that lifestyle up," he said.
Ray Kendra, who teaches college classes on sustainable building design, said tiny homes don't sound too practical for year-round living. But other "out there" ideas have become mainstream. He points to water-less urinals installed at the BATA Bus station seven years ago.
"People asked us, 'How can you have toilets with no water? That makes no sense,'" he said. "Now you drive into a rest stop on I-75 and you have water-less urinals. They obviously work."
Rolf and Mari von Walthausen intended to live in a tiny home, but have to stay with family and friends until zoning issues are resolved.
About a year ago, the couple moved north of Cedar into a 240-square-foot home with no electricity or indoor plumbing. They also pulled another 240-square-foot structure onto the property, this one with electricity and indoor plumbing — a nod to the realities of work life. Rolf works as a piano tuner and Mari teaches yoga and nature classes.
Rolf said a tiny home isn't for everyone, but they sought a simpler life, free of debt and full-time jobs and gentler on the earth.
They believed they could avoid Centerville Township's 800-square-foot minimum because of its nomadic clause — they intended to move from one tiny home to another. They learned later they could only live up to 60 days on each taxable parcel. In late December they were told to move out.
Rolf said it would have been easy enough to live illegally under the radar, and said he knows "a boatload of people" who do.
"But we went into this trying not to hide," he said.
An existing mobile home on the property could have kept the two tiny homes in compliance in terms of minimum footage, yet the couple decided it had to go.
"It had asbestos, mice filled the walls. It held no heat. But the county said it was habitable," he said.
The issue recently prompted the Centerville Planning Commission to review its minimum square footage rules.
Leonard Kelenski, Centerville Township's supervisor who helped write the 800-square-foot minimum in 1979, believes the standard protected property values. No one questioned it before, in part because houses trended toward bigger, not smaller.
"We'll have to have public hearings and see what the public wants," he said.
Rolf faces several more months of meetings and a fine for a civil infraction — the couple didn't obtain the necessary permits for either structure. But Rolf said he's grateful for the township's openness.
"The more people who get out there and insist on change, the more it will be accepted," he said.
TRAVERSE CITY-- A growing number of people are living small.
Emails show NMC leaders made decisions outside public meetings
Northwestern Michigan College’s elected officials debated in a flurry of emails whether to televise their monthly board meetings, a behind-the-scenes decision-making process that altered some trustees’ public opposition and occurred outside the public eye.Continued ...
NMC president's email to college staff
Northwestern Michigan College President Tim Nelson sent the following email to college employees Tuesday afternoon:Continued ...
Michigan's Open Meetings Act
State lawmakers created Michigan’s Open Meetings Act to strengthen citizens’ ability to know what goes on in government, according to an OMA guide published by Michigan’s attorney general.Continued ...
Consultant: Architecture great, traffic a problem
Heads shook and shoulders drooped as the group approached one of the last stops on a tour of Eighth Street in Traverse City: the brick and barn-red sheet metal walls of an auto parts warehouse.Continued ...
Division Street residents stuck in sewer limbo
Division Street residents Bill Greene and James Begeman might live in Traverse City’s most unfortunate place for a sewer, as evidenced by a possible repair bill of more than $60,000 to fix their collapsed line.Continued ...
Millage to go on ballot at same rate
Leelanau County commissioners unanimously agreed to put a senior services millage on the August ballot. They approved language for a 4-year renewal at .275 mills.Continued ...
Man faces arson and insurance fraud charges
An Antrim County man faces felony charges of conspiracy to commit arson and insurance fraud after investigators received information that an April 2013 house fire may have been intentionally set.Continued ...
Lake Ann man arrested for forgery
A Lake Ann man faces charges on his fourth forgery offense after he tried to cash a money order that did not belong to him.Continued ...
Trustee seeks Acme Treasurer position
Acme Township trustees will consider their lone applicant for township treasurer, trustee Amy Jenewa, at a special meeting today.Continued ...
- Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Snyder talks taxes, Medicaid
Gov. Rick Snyder thinks the state of Michigan finally got it right on attempts to reform the personal property tax on business.Continued ...
Painting with sand
The Dennos Museum Center of Northwestern Michigan College is ringing with noise this week as Tibetan Buddhist monks construct a Mandala sand painting in the center of the museum.Continued ...
Center renovations underway
Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan’s local health center is getting a face-lift thanks to money raised through the organization’s Standing Tall capital campaign.Continued ...
Sketch leads to attempted robbery suspect
A forensic sketch of a suspect in an attempted pharmacy robbery in Elk Rapids helped village police nab a potential culprit.Continued ...
Clearing the Record: 04/16/2014
Because of a photographer’s error, Matthew Failor and William Kalajian were incorrectly listed as qualifying for the National Geographic Bee in the Monday’s edition of the Record-Eagle.Continued ...
- Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Rivers recede, residents watch sky for rain
Area rivers and streams began to recede with the recent sunshine, but riverfront property owners worry about a forecast that calls for a chance of more snow and rain through the weekend.Continued ...
TBAISD adopts new teacher evaluation model
Educators across the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District soon will be evaluated under new guidelines.Continued ...
Bid for teacher evaluation system open
The Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District seeks sealed bids for its new educator evaluation system.Continued ...
Suttons Bay High School teacher resigns after kiss with student
A Suttons Bay High School teacher had an “inappropriate,” but not illegal, relationship with a student in the senior class, the school district’s top administrator said.Continued ...
Custodian's sentence upheld
The son of a former Traverse City school board president this month lost his final appeal to trim an eight- to 15-year prison sentence for his conviction on charges of criminal sexual conduct with a 13-year-old student.Continued ...
Renowned planner to discuss Eighth Street
Robert Gibbs, a national leader in new sustainable town planning and commercial market research, will lead a discussion on remaking what one city official described as Traverse City’s tired, under-performing corridors into economic powerhouses of life and energy.Continued ...
Five injured in Antrim County crash
Authorities are investigating a two-vehicle crash in rural Antrim County that sent five Mancelona residents to the hospital.Continued ...
- Monday, April 14, 2014
High water, low temps
Rivers are rising and the temperature is falling as the start-and-stop transition from winter to spring continues.Continued ...
Suttons Bay teacher resigns after accusations
A Suttons Bay High School teacher resigned after accusations arose that she carried on an "inappropriate" relationship with a male student who is in the senior class.Continued ...
Teens make top 10 in geo bee
The whole world is fair territory in the National Geographic Bee. The annual competition is an educational program of the National Geographic Society designed to encourage the teaching and study of geography.Continued ...
Task force takes long look at teen pregnancy
Pregnant teens are an "invisible" population. "They may drop out of school, they may not have access to transportation and they're often marginalized," said Marjorie Rich, the Women's Resource Center Doula Client Advocate.Continued ...
- Emails show NMC leaders made decisions outside public meetings