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Controversial House Bill Passes, Local Leaders Concerned with Ramifications

Late into the morning in late October the Michigan House of Representatives passed a controversial bill. If passed by the state Senate and signed by the Governor, House Bill 4722 would prevent local municipalities from proposing zoning ordinances that limit short term rentals.

110th District Representative Greg Markkanen said  the bill does not take away municipalities’ ability to inspect properties. Markkanen said he voted for the bill only after eleven versions had been proposed during committee.  

The original bill I did not support. We happened to go into session at 1:30 in the afternoon, and we were there until 2:30 in the morning. I believe we went through 11 version of the bill, because I did not support the original version. After 11 rewrites and adopting concessions for local communities. I felt that I could support the bill. But it does not take away any powers of enforcement like noise ordinances, health inspections or welfare checks ups. – Representative Greg Markkanen

Local officials have expressed their dissatisfaction with the bill. Hancock Councilor John Haeussler said the bill could impact recent rental ordinances set up by the city of Hancock.

You may be familiar, but Hancock has spent a significant amount of time very recently enacting and the rolling out of a residential rental registration ordinance. It would potentially, the word “potentially” being important, potentially negate all of our efforts. And again it gets back to the ambiguity of the bill. – Hancock Councilor John Haeussler

House Bill 4722 is short, and Haeussler believes that there is too much vague language in the one-size-fits all legislation.

It says that all rentals of dwelling are not subject to special use or conditional use permits or procedures different from those required for other dwellings in the same zone. If you take that language, that would suggest that you cant treat rentals different from owner-occupied units within the same zone. And I think the people who should have the loudest voice on the character of their community are the people who live in those neighborhoods. – Hancock Councilor John Haeussler

Houghton City Manager Eric Waara, also weighed in on the issue.  He said the legislation threatens the make-up of towns and communities.

It was bad legislation to begin with. There were alternatives discussed during the committee meeting in Lansing. But ultimately, what makes people want to visit a community is what that community has created out of that mix. And what this could potentially do is really tip that balance. – Houghton City Manager Eric Waara

The bill is now in the state senate.  Units of government across the state from, Detroit to Hancock, have written and passed resolutions expressing concerns about the bill.  Some feel that the bill represents state overreach and could make the existing affordable housing crisis in some Upper Peninsula communities much worse. And many municipalities say they feel the legislation would tie their arms behind their backs when it comes to controlling rental properties.

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