Planning Commission to meet tonight

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Planning Commission will hold public hearings tonight regarding the proposed Community Master Plan amendment and Land Development Code project.

Shortly after the CMP process was initiated in December 2016, staff applied for and received a grant of up to $35,000, in part, by the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Office of the Great Lakes, Department of Environmental Quality, under the National Coastal Zone Management Program, through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

The grant helped initiate the LDC project, which kicked off June 2017 after consultant McKenna Associates was hired and concluded a diagnostic review of the city’s existing land-use codes, CMP, and other codes and relevant planning documents, according to city documents.

The planning commission has conducted over 30 work sessions on the project and is charged with recommending a final draft to the city commission. An Ad-hoc Advisory Committee was formed to oversee the process of developing the LDC, with the committee completing its designated period in August.

The amendments to the CMP include two major components:

≤ A new Appendix J, with narrative and recommendations on several issues, including demographics, community facilities and services, transportation, housing, land use and zoning, the Land Development Code Project, energy production and distribution, environment and community food systems.

≤ Revised future land use and proposed zoning maps. The future land use map is the basis for planning commission decision-making on rezoning requests, and for the zoning districts found in the proposed zoning map.

There are many changes to zoning districts proposed in this amendment to the CMP, and those changes have been incorporated into a draft LDC project, which, when implemented, will institute a blanket rezoning of multiple properties in the city.

City Planner and Zoning Administrator Dave Stensaas has previously said the LDC project will reflect a healthier pattern of development for the city since the zoning ordinance currently in effect was adopted in 1978.

Since zoning ordinances in regards to lot sizes, widths, setbacks and so forth, are outdated, the LDC project will make a lot of “non-conforming” lots, conforming, Stensaas said.

The LDC project will reduce lots in the general residential district to 37 and-a-half feet and also addresses sign standards so commercial businesses have more flexibility. The code is going to make it legal to have chickens, hens, rabbits and bees in city limits as well.

The code minimizes parking requirements for retail and commercial businesses and creates a riparian buffer zoning district that applies to areas where there are bodies of water, wetlands, and so on.

A 42-day public comment period was initiated in October.

According to Stensaas, if the planning commission moves to recommend approval of the CMD and LDC project tonight, the city commission will be requested to schedule a public hearing at its Dec. 17 meeting. The earliest a hearing would be possible is during a January meeting, given there are enough days between the two meetings to meet the legal notice and Mining Journal publication deadlines, he said.

To view the CMP amendment and LDC project, visit www.marquettemi.gov, or the city’s community development department Facebook page.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 6 at commission chambers in city hall along Baraga Avenue.

There will be designated times for the public to address the commission.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.