2007-08-30 / News

Request Denied To Expand Murray Street Boardinghouse

By Ryan Schlehuber

St. Ignace property owner Mike Compton's request to change the zoning of his six lots on Murray Street from two-family (R-2) to a mixed residential (R-3) to expand his employee housing was denied by the St. Ignace Planning Commission Wednesday, August 22, in response to concerns voiced by neighbors at the meeting.

Mr. Compton, who owns Goodfellow's Bar and Grille on Mackinac Island, is allowed to house up to six employees in the building now. The high-density R- 3 zone would allow him to house more people in his boarding house.

He was denied a similar request by St. Ignace Building Inspector Paul Sved earlier this year.

The two-story house, 37 feet by 40 feet, is built on six lots that, together, measure 383 feet by 132 feet.

The city notified all property owners within 300 yards of the boarding house at 305 Murray Street about Mr. Compton's intentions. A few of his neighbors attended the meeting with concerns about increased traffic and irresponsible tenants.

"It will bring in more traffic, for sure," said neighbor Wayne Pemble, who said he also is concerned that the house will attract party-goers. "It's not a good mix for that neighborhood."

Bob St. Onge said he moved from Mackinac Island because expansion of employee housing there required him to lock his doors at night.

"I never locked my doors until the employee housing came in," he said, "and I don't want it across the street here."

Mr. Compton told the board that he plans to live at the house during the winter and three local employees would live there year-around, along with the summer workers.

Board Chairman Art Underwood, who abstained from the voting because his fiancée owns property on Murray Street, said business owners should have a fair opportunity to find housing for their employees.

"These employees are going to have to stay some place," he said. "We have to try and accommodate the best way we can for these people."

He did say he was concerned that Mr. Compton would have the only high-density zone in the neighborhood. Such practice is called spot zoning and is generally frowned upon by planners.

The board voted 5-0 to deny Mr. Compton's request, with Mr. Underwood abstaining.

Mr. Compton will provide more information about his plans with an R-3 zone property to Mr. Sved soon, in hopes of eventually winning support from his neighbors and city officials, he told the board.

In other action, the Planning Commission approved minor changes in the new communications tower ordinance to regulate the design, location, and removal of communication towers within the city limits.

Mr. Underwood said he received the final draft of Mackinac County's new Master Plan from Wade-Trim of Gaylord.

The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 19.

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