Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 15, 2013

Granny flats, food trucks on city griddle

TRAVERSE CITY — The city commission may make the first move toward taking two controversial ideas for test drives: neighborhood granny flats and downtown food trucks.

The commission will discuss the proposed ordinances and possible adoption when it meets today at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.

The North Traverse Heights Neighborhood Association volunteered to participate in a pilot for accessory dwelling units. Widely known as granny flats or ADUs, they are small self-contained apartments inside an owner-occupied home or a garage. The proposed ordinance, recommended unanimously by the planning commission, would take effect April 25 if adopted.

A proposal to allow up to two mobile food vendors in four city parking lots and on State Street between Union and Pine is the second item on the commission’s menu. The ordinance comes with the caveat that city staff would report to the commission on how the ordinance works by Oct. 1 so commissioners can consider potential changes for 2014.

”I understand there might be a lot of people there for the food truck issue,” said city Commissioner Jim Carruthers. “I frankly just want to move something forward and see how it goes, and if it’s chaos, we can address it in the winter.”

Carruthers led a group of three commissioners who have studied the food truck question, along with the Downtown Development Authority, for months. A vendor would pay an annual fee of $1,225 to park on city property or $725 for private property. The ordinance also will open up some streets in other areas near Northwestern Michigan College, the Civic Center, Munson Medical Center, and some of the city’s larger parks.

Food trucks have drawn support from downtown workers looking for quick and cheaper lunch options and foodies hoping to encourage more variety. It’s drawn opposition from some downtown building and restaurant owners who argue it’s unfair competition because food trucks don’t pay property taxes or provide infrastructure such as bathrooms.

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