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Zoning change

Planning commission recommends change from residential to business near Teal Lake

The interior of the Mather B Mine hoist house west of Negaunee High School is pictured. The property, which is owned by the city of Negaunee, represents a portion of nearly 200 acres of publicly and privately owned land that the Negaunee Planning Commission is recommending be rezoned for business use. It is currently considered residential under the city’s zoning ordinance. (Journal photos by Lisa Bowers)

By LISA BOWERS

Journal Staff Writer

NEGAUNEE — Efforts to attract land developers to Negaunee are moving forward.

The Negaunee Planning Commission cast a unanimous vote Tuesday to rezone nearly 200 acres of land adjacent to U.S. 41 near Teal Lake from multi-family residential to business district.

Some of the parcels are owned by Porter Limited, a company based in Michigan, while others are owned by VBS LLC and Cambria LLC. A small portion including the former Mather B Mine hoist house is owned by the city of Negaunee.

The parcels are adjacent to Jackson Mine Park and Negaunee High School and run along the south side of U.S. 41 along Water Street in what’s known as the Cambria Location.

City Manager Nate Heffron said the rezoning would make the properties more attractive to land developers.

“There are 47 different principal uses for (business district zoning),” Heffron said. “These are just examples: Things like hotels, golf courses, office buildings … probably things of that nature. It behooves us to diversify our tax base to some extent.”

The property, some of which was originally owned by mining companies, could not be developed for industrial use such as gravel pits or manufacturing under the proposed change, Heffron said.

Several residents, who spoke during a public hearing prior to the commission vote, expressed concerns about potential development on the north side of U.S. 41 along Teal Lake, such as noise, the obstruction of current residential views, what type of businesses would be allowed in the area and whether adjacent land owners would be notified about a proposed development in the area.

The exterior of the Mather B Mine hoist house and a sign from the property west of Negaunee High School is pictured. The city-owned property is part of a swath of land that could become part of the Negaunee Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment financing district with approval by the Negaunee City Council in October. (Journal photos by Lisa Bowers)

Planning Commission Chair David Oglesby said any proposed development would require a site plan review submitted to the planning commission and that the public is notified of any request.

“You will need to have a special land use permit if you are going to be in certain areas, along with we have height requirements, we have minimum property size, noise, lighting, (and) a certain amount of parking available based on the size of the property,” Oglesby said.

Heffron said the changes may not make everyone happy, but city officials and developers will keep the community in mind as changes take place.

“I have heard people say we don’t want to be Marquette, we don’t want to be Traverse City, and obviously we are not going down that direction,” Heffron said. “There are some good things that could occur with this if the property was made easier for someone to develop. In its current state, it will not attract developers.”

The area is also part of a proposed expansion of the Negaunee Downtown Development Authority district, Heffron said, which will be considered by the city council during its Oct. 10 meeting.

The DDA proposal includes expanding its tax-increment financing, or TIF, district, which is where the DDA revenue comes from. The financing works by freezing the taxable value of a property at what it was when the district is established, then collecting or “capturing” any property tax value increases beyond that amount each year.

Any development of the property, and the anticipated increase in taxable value, would go into the DDA budget for district improvements, including infrastructure, and may eventually relieve some of the tax burden on residents, Heffron said.

“In order for that TIF district to be successful, and for us to be able to re-divert those funds into the downtown area — also our parks that are included in here — in order for that to happen, we would have to have some success in here, to allow some of that property to be developed; in other words, adding new value to properties,” Heffron said.

The city council will have the final say on the zoning changes, according to documents on the city website.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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