Public hearing on student neighborhood changes set for Sept. 28


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A public hearing on several changes that may be made to the M-2 district, which is primarily occupied by students, is set for Sept. 28.

The Mount Pleasant City Commission has been discussing changes in the district since January. At its Aug. 24 meeting, City Planner Jacob Kain outlined the proposed changes.

The first would create a "transitional area" between M-2 and neighboring district R-3, which consists mostly of single-family dwellings. Amendments to city ordinances would make it so a lot in M-2 would not have a common line or be located across a local street or alley from any R-zoned lot. No registered student organization dwelling, which are primarily Greek houses, would be allowed to have more than 12 occupants per dwelling unit. A "dwelling" is the entire lot, while a "dwelling unit" is each separate home within the lot. 

"It will reduce the party atmosphere by splitting up the dwellings," Kain said. 

Dwellings in the transitional zone would be limited to four occupants per dwelling unit, while those in the M-2 district would not be able to have more than six. 

Commissioner Kathy Ling questioned why city planners did not set the limit at two occupants.

"My understanding (for the transitional area) is that it would be something in between a single-family dwelling and a dorm," she said. "It seems like we would see a significant increase of people."

Kain said the commission considered further limiting occupancy, but limiting it to two people would feel more like a single-family area and not a transitional one. 

"More students demand to live there," he said. "Do we want to further restrict M-2, which is supposed to be student housing? When I asked this question, the answer was a resounding 'no.'"

Commissioners also discussed maintaining the neighborhood look and feel, which means the construction of more homes and less apartments. They also may implement changes that would impact how some dwellings deal with parking.

With these proposed changes, no M-2 or RSO dwelling would be able to have more than five stacked parking spaces per dwelling unit. All unstacked parking spaces would have to be accessible via an approved maneuvering lane so backing directly onto a street would be unnecessary. 

Comissioner Tony Kulick said he doesn't like the idea of stacked parking.

"If it's a family home, I could see how they would have an extra set of keys so cars can be moved if someone needs to get out," he said. "But I can't see that with students. I don't want people driving across lawns."

Finally, properties would no longer be able to be combined for the purpose of constructing a rooming and boarding dwelling, or a multi-family home. Required parking for these dwellings would have to be provided upon the same lot as the home. 

The public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at City Hall. 

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Sydney Smith is a super-senior at Central Michigan University. She comes from metro Detroit ...

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