Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 18, 2013

Traverse City OKs Granny Flats for one neighborhood

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Residents armed with a litany of complaints about problem rental properties failed to deter city commissioners from approving so-called granny flats for one Traverse City neighborhood.

Commissioners voted to allow up to five homeowners a year who live in North Traverse Heights to create small, self-contained apartments inside their home or garage known commonly as granny flats, or officially as accessory dwelling units. Officials said requiring homeowners to live on the property should have a positive impact on both a property’s appearance and renters’ behavior.

“It’s the quality of the owners that drives how a home looks,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said. “Owner-occupied is better cared for than rental units.”

Commissioners shot down a proposed city-wide ordinance a few years ago that drew heavy opposition from some neighborhoods. But continued public support for ADUs led to testing a more restrictive, limited ordinance in one neighborhood that supported the idea.

Homeowners in the area bordered by Eighth Street, Garfield Avenue, Centre Street and Boardman Lake can convert up to 40 percent of their dwelling as a separate living space for non-family members. Homeowners must live on the property, and each rental unit must have 250-square feet of floor space per-person, as well as onsite paved parking and an outdoor entrance.

Several residents told commissioners that allowing homeowners to convert some space for a rental unit will help encourage home ownership by making mortgages more affordable.

“As a homeowner by right I can turn my home into a multi-unit rental,” said resident Brian Haas. “I’d rather have an ADU.”