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Traverse City voters to decide 'tall building' charter change

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Next month, voters in Traverse City will decide if they should have a say whether there will be taller buildings in town.

The proposed charter change on the November 8th ballot would require a public vote on plans for buildings taller than 60 feet.

Jay Zelenock is with the groupSave Our Downtown. He says they are not opposed to new tall buildings.  But Zelenock says people in Traverse City are worried about the aesthetic of their community.  He also worries about tax breaks given to developers.

“It doesn’t change any of the zoning ordinance or zoning map or zoning rules,” Zelenock says of the ballot question. “It just makes sure that, for these handful of projects, that the voters and citizens input is sought and received.”

But the chamber of commerce argues the proposed charter change is probably unconstitutional

The chamber’s Kent Wood says the proposed charter change will undermine the city’s long-established zoning and review process.

“We really fear the consequences of throwing all that out in favor of basically going with a popularity contest,” says Wood.

Wood says two potential building projects have already been stalled by the proposed charter change.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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