Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 1, 2013

Attached garages face ban in city's historic district


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Stepping from the garage directly into a warm and dry home no longer would be an option for residents in two city neighborhoods, based on a proposed zoning change.

The city commission will consider a ban on attached garages in sections of the Central and Boardman neighborhoods that fall within the city's historic district when commissioners meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.

The Central Neighborhood Association supported the zoning change, but the Boardman Neighborhood Association took no position.

"I couldn't even get anybody to make a motion on it," said Elizabeth Whelan, Boardman association president. "We were just about equally divided at the time."

Whelan said some residents simply don't like the city telling them what they can do with their property and others are concerned it will impose a hardship on the elderly and disabled. Whelan supports the ordinance.

"We're trying to protect the older historic nature of our neighborhood and our property values," Whalen said. "We want the old-time neighborhood of houses, not house, garage, house, garage."

City planning commissioners voted to recommend the change and ban new construction of attached garages. Planning Commissioner Jennifer Jaffe voted no. She said the city's Historic Districts Commission already possesses the authority to deny an attached garage if it doesn't fit with neighborhood character.

Suzannah Tobin, who represents the historic district commission, said her group prefers to work with homeowners about what they can do, rather than tell them what they can't.

City Commissioner Jim Carruthers, who lives in the Central Neighborhood, expects the ban to pass.

"I'm not really happy with some of these mega-houses that are getting built with huge additions and attached garages," Carruthers said. "It invades the neighbor's privacy."

Other matters before the commission tonight include a request to allow city staff to apply for a grant to The Great Lakes Fishery Trust for design and engineering for a public fishing pier on the western shore of the Boardman River where it enters West Bay. City officials did not yet have an estimate of how much the design and engineering will cost.