Scottville planning commission opposes main floor downtown apartments.

December 14, 2016

downtown-scottvilleScottville planning commission opposes main floor downtown apartments.

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SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville Planning Commission is recommending that the City Commission deny a variance request by a downtown building owner to allow permanent residency on the main floor of his building. Ludington-based attorney Mark Pehrson, who owns 113 S. Main St., has requested the variance after city officials discovered that Pehrson is renting the main floor of the two-story building as an apartment, a violation of the city’s zoning ordinance.

The zoning ordinance restriction of main floor residency is consistent with most downtown business districts, including Ludington.

The Planning Commission made its decision when it met Tuesday, Dec. 6. A letter to Mayor Bruce Krieger and the City Commission reads:

“It is the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission that the City Commission deny the request by Mr. Mark Pehrson to allow first floor occupancy of his building at 133 S. Main Street.

“The members of the Planning Commission believe that permanent first floor occupancy hinders commercial growth for downtown. It is also the opinion of the Planning Commission that Mr. Pehrson should take a more pro-active approach to either sell his building or to find a suitable commercial occupant. There are sources, such as the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Mason County Growth Alliance, and the West Shore Community College Business Opportunity Center, that are available to assist in matching potential business owners with available properties.

“Further, the Planning Commission believes if there is a consensus to allow such occupancy that the City Commission should request the Planning Commission draft a formal ordinance allowing such land use.”

Roy and Linda Holden, who own several downtown buildings, have also submitted a letter opposing the variance.

“Our concern is for the future of our town,” the Holdens wrote in a letter to the City Commission. “If the decision is made to allow this variance, it sets a precedent so more and more vacant store fronts can be turned into residential apartments. It would also allow for current businesses to put in apartments instead of their retail business. With the shortage of rental properties, these buildings would surely bring in more income if they were apartments.

“So what would that do to our town? We would end up as a bedroom community for Ludington. There would be no need for a city manager, commissioners, police department, or to have any events. The offices and businesses that are currently in town could devaluate to the point we may never see our initial investment.

“We think it would be a foolish decision to allow main floor residential rental in the business district  when the city is trying to restructure and build up the retail side of Scottville. And just because someone has gone ahead and already put apartments in with tenants doesn’t mean the should be excused for doing so.”

City Manager Amy Williams said during the previous City Commission meeting and during the Planning Commission meeting that Pehrson has stated he has attempted to find a commercial occupant or buyer for the building but has not been successful.

Williams also stated another building, 102 S. Main Street, is in violation of the ordinance. The owner of that building has been notified of the violation but has not responded to the city. If he does not respond, the city will take legal action against him, Williams said.

A public hearing on Pehrson’s request will be held during the regular meeting of the City Commission on Monday, Dec. 19 at City Hall, 105 N. Main St. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

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