Manistee Planning Commission could make it easier to have a duplex – Manistee News Advocate

Tracy Davis
MANISTEE — Duplexes could become permitted use in the city of Manistee.
The Manistee Planning Commission will hold a public hearing during their Jan. 5 meeting regarding amending the zoning ordinance to allow for duplexes as a permitted use in the R-2 district.
The R-2 district is comprised of areas consisting primarily of medium-density, single-family neighborhoods and multi-family communities. While primarily residential in character, the district incorporates some retail and personal service land uses, according to Article 9 of the city of Manistee’s zoning ordinance.
Duplexes are currently permitted through special use permits in residential areas, which require further review by the planning commission so they can place reasonable conditions on the approval to ensure the use is going to fit with surrounding uses, according to Tracy Davis, Manistee County’s Housing Ready program coordinator.
Were duplexes to become a permitted use, they could be administratively approved by the zoning administrator.
“The zoning ordinance details the standards that must be adhered to, which is why a permit is usually required even though it is considered a use by right,” Davis said. “There are very limited discretional standards for a permitted use, if any, which allows for the zoning administrator to remain impartial in their administrative role.”
As Housing Ready coordinator, Davis looks for ways to attract housing development to both the city and Manistee County.
Duplexes support increased density and can increase the supply of rental housing in single-family neighborhoods, she said.
“Changes in household makeup are driving an increased demand for housing types that are scarce in Manistee County,” Davis said. “As young people wait longer to start families and baby boomers enter their retirement years, households continue to shrink, meaning that more homes are needed for even the same number of people.”
Davis said smaller family sizes call for types of housing that haven’t been built in large numbers in the past, particularly in rural areas and small cities like Manistee.
“Small household sizes are driving demand for apartments, townhomes, smaller houses, duplexes, and other medium-density, multi-family housing types in walkable neighborhoods,” she said.
Zoning ordinances are often biased toward traditional single-family homes, which can often be too large and expensive for smaller families or household on a budget, Davis said. Housing types like accessory dwelling units, cottage housing or duplexes offer more potential for affordability with few impacts to the character of an existing single-family neighborhood.
The Manistee Planning Commission’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday in the council chambers at Manistee City Hall.
I was born and raised in Manistee. I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Grand Valley State University. My hobbies include fishing, reading and playing music.


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