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City Commission discusses affordable housing and snow emergency ordinance


The sun sets on City Hall August 25 in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Mount Pleasant City Commission discussed a parking and snow emergency ordinance and a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) request from the Mount Pleasant Housing Commission during their Sept. 14 meeting. 

Traditionally, the winter months between December and the end of March means overnight parking from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. is restricted. Under the new ordinance, overnight parking in Mount Pleasant is permitted unless a snow emergency is declared.

This ordinance would not affect the downtown areas listed below. Overnight parking restrictions of 4 to 6 AM are already in place any day of the year.

The areas not affected would include:

  • West of the east side of Lansing Street
  • North of the south side of Illinois Street
  • East of the west side of Pine Street
  • South of the north side of Broadway Street
  • East of the west side of Main Street
  • South of the north side of Mosher Street

Commissioner Lori Gillis said the “community should be concerned about this ordinance change.” She fears what will happen to Mount Pleasant’s streets without this overnight parking restriction. The zoning ordinance does not require developers to have parking.

“With the elimination of these four months of not being able to park on the street...developers will be more apt to not provide parking on-site,” Gillis said. “They (will) turn our city streets into parking lots which very well could be (because) they are parking in front of your house or your business every single day to accommodate tenants.” 

Commissioner Petro Tolas also has his doubts that snow plowing is not completed during this time. 

"There’s going to be a lot of problems here that weren’t even considered,” Tolas said.

Public hearing for this ordinance is set for Sept. 28.

Commissioners spent time addressing a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for the Mount Pleasant Housing Commission to purchase and operate rental housing units owned by the Community Mental Health Facilities Board. 

The property would be used to provide affordable housing for working-class individuals at or below 80 percent of the average median income. Rent is set for $780 per month including all utilities for two bedrooms. 

“It would be a stand-alone project that would manage its own dollars, have its own reserves and supply a potential profit to the (Mount Pleasant) Housing Commission to be utilized for other affordable housing projects down the road,” Mount Pleasant Housing Commission’s consultant Bruce Johnston said. 

Mount Pleasant Housing Commission requested a zero percent PILOT for the first five years. This request would allow updates and maintenance for the 12 units while keeping the rent affordable.

Typically, a taxable entity requests a PILOT instead of full taxes to provide affordable housing. Since the Mount Pleasant Housing Commission is a tax-exempt entity, state legislation allows the governing body to impose an annual service fee of no more than 10 percent of the annual shelter rental.

After much compromise, the city commission reached a decision. 

A zero percent PILOT that requires a Municipal Services Agreement to pay an annual sum of 5 percent of rents for the first five years was passed with a 4-2 vote. 

This Municipal Service Agreement allows the city to keep the full amount of the annual payment. 

Additionally, a unanimous vote decided that after five years the zero percent PILOT will switch to a 10 percent PILOT and the Municipal Services Agreement will expire. 

“I think (this motion) is a good middle ground partially because it matches what commissioner Gillis was interested in with the city receiving some income and still giving something of a benefit to the (Mount Pleasant) Housing Commission,” Commissioner Mary Alsager said. 

With this decision, an ordinance will be drafted for an upcoming meeting.  

The entire city commission meeting can be viewed on the city's Youtube channel.