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Hancock deliberates on zoning ordinance

The finish line is in sight for Hancock’s Planning Commission. Members, along with city staff, have been working on overhauling the zoning ordinance that governs future development for more than 12 months. The last time the document was modified was the 1970’s, nearly 50 years ago.

Kim Littleton of OHM has been one of three people acting as principal advisors on the project. He said three main reasons exist to rewrite the zoning ordinance, including its reliance on outdated regulations, the existence of a new Master Plan, and to bring Hancock in conformity with the requirements for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Community program.

The number of zoning districts has not changed, but the definitions involved are significantly different. The entire downtown area will now be under one set of rules. The commission held a public hearing on the roughly 300 page document for the first time Monday night. Several residents voiced concerns, with the biggest issue being restrictions on street parking. Several people said that the city’s older neighborhoods do not have enough space in their yards to house a RV or long trailer. The new zoning ordinance would forbid those from being in the public right of way for more than 24 hours.

Commission Chair Kurt Rickard said it was important to remember that given the age of many properties there will be circumstances where nonconformities would have to be grandfathered in.

City Manager Mary Babcock says that the MEDC has been active in helping the process along and likes what it sees.

They actually provided us with a grant, a technical assistance grant, to help us pay for our consultants on this project. Our assigned [MEDC] specialist on this project is Christopher Germain. He has through every step of the process, he has done some feedback, and then when this final draft went through, he reviewed everything and gave it the blessing.

Babcock further elaborates on what the timeline for passage of the new ordinance could look like.

They’ll [the council] have an introductory period [beginning in March]. They can have public hearings, and then they would vote on it after at least thirty days and it would have a 30-day enactment period.

There is still plenty of time for debate on various topics of the sprawling document. Hancock is encouraging residents to look through the new ordinance. You can find a link on the municipal website, or by clicking here.

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