TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners face a choice between following their housing ideology or bowing to residents who call a proposed development of four mid-priced houses both ludicrous and dangerous.
Architect John Kerridge proposes to construct four, 1.5- to two-story homes on the corner of Madison and West Front Streets. It’s an effort to dovetail with city plans for the corridor, as well as officials’ desire to offer more diverse housing choices.
But Slab Town Neighborhood residents told planners they prefer Kerridge construct three larger homes instead. Planning commissioners agreed and rejected his request on a 5 to 4 vote.
City Commissioners Tim Werner and Jeanine Easterday also serve on the planning commission and split their votes. Mayor Michael Estes said he’ll expect both to explain their rationale when the city commission takes up the request Monday at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.
Easterday voted against the plan.
“Planning principles supported the conditional rezoning, but I received so many negative comments from the neighbors and so many people spoke at the meeting, I have to balance the public sentiment against the theory,” Easterday said. “I voted in favor of what the residents wanted.”
Zoning allows the owner to construct three houses on the property. Easterday said that’s a reasonable option and preferred by the neighborhood.
City planner Russ Soyring recommended the rezoning as consistent with the city master plan and the recently adopted corridor plan for West Front Street.
The project has one more house, but less mass than if three houses up to three-stories-tall were built. The project also reduced curb cuts on Front Street by using one shared driveway onto Madison Street.
But the driveway caused some of the greatest concern for neighbors, who said new residents would turn north to travel through their neighborhood to avoid making a left hand turn from Madison Street onto West Front Street. They said the intersection already is congested with people trying to get to Munson Medical Center’s campus.