TC commission OKs nine-story development downtown

Dec 8, 2015

Plans for the River West development show a two-story parking deck, 162 residences and 20,000 square feet of commercial space.
Credit The Woda Group

Developers can go ahead with their plan to build a nine-story building in downtown Traverse City. The city commission voted last night to approve a Special Land Use Permit - or SLUP - for the project. The vote came well after midnight, after three hours of public testimony. 

Mike Jackson took issue with the idea that the building would provide much-needed workforce housing.

“This project is not about affordable housing or workforce housing for our young citizens," said Jackson. "This project is all about making the wealthy a little bit more wealthy.”

Commissioners spent quite a bit of time debating the finer points of the project - things like parking and storm water drainage.

Commissioner Tim Werner said the building fits his vision for a higher-density Traverse City.

“I consider myself an environmentalist and, to me, this does well by the environment," said Werner. "Is it perfect? No, but I don’t know that we do any projects in the city that are perfect.”

Earlier Monday, a judge dismissed an effort by opponents to send the project to the ballot. Judge Philip Rodgers ruled that a 2006 Michigan law forbids voter referendums on zoning issues.

Attorney Grant Parsons represents opponents of the project.

“We’re going to accept his ruling," said Parsons. "We’re not appealing his decision but what we are going to do is challenge the SLUP. Because that is where the rubber hits the road in this case.”

Opponents have 30 days to make the case that commissioners did not follow SLUP guidelines when they approved the project.