Ludington City Council 1/10

Councilors John Terzano and Ted May listen at a meeting of the Ludington City Council on Monday, Jan. 10 at city hall.

Accessory dwelling units are now allowed in Ludington following the approval of regulations for their use at Monday’s city council meeting.

An ADU is a smaller home that shares a parcel with a single-family home. Some ADUs are new constructions, while others are conversions of garages or other accessory structures.

Some city officials have suggested that the units could be “another tool in the toolbox” to address a housing shortage in the area. The units are thought to open up options for young adults, nontraditional families and seniors looking to downsize.

Key restrictions on ADUs in the city are that they cannot be rented out for less than 28 days at a time. Also, either the ADU or main house must be occupied by the property owner.

Those rules are meant to curb the use of ADUs as short-term rental units, and to keep developers from building them to get one more unit on a rental property.

While the benefits of ADUs have been touted by officials like Councilor John Terzano and Planning Commissioner Melissa Reed, others have expressed reservations about introducing the units to the city’s housing stock.

In May, Planning Commissioner Jeff White warned against creating an “overabundance” of housing. He also worried that the city could be “changing the character of our neighborhoods” with ADUs.

Councilor Ted May was the only councilor who voted against the ADU ordinance. He said that no one he spoke to in his ward supported the ordinance and he worried about the potential influx of renters into neighborhoods.

The city’s ADU regulations have been in the works since May of last year. Progress was interrupted by fears of a proposed state bill that would allow short-term renting in all residences statewide.

The planning commission drafted ADU rules in May, but sat on them until October waiting for action on the bill. The bill passed the state House, and awaits a vote in the state Senate.

The ADU rules then worked their way up to the city council late last year, at which point Councilor Kathy Winczewski suggested the council hold off on voting until Monday’s meeting. She suggested that if the state bill wasn’t passed by the end of 2021, it likely never would be.

According to Terzano, the bill “died in a senate subcommittee” and future efforts will have to “start anew.” Foster suggested that the bill will be discussed again “later in the spring or summertime, if that.”

Utility maintenance reorganization

Councilors adopted an ordinance that enables the city to consolidate the Utility Maintenance Department into the Department of Public Works.

Following the departure of utility head Darryll Plamondon, city staff determined that it made “logistical sense” to merge the two departments, Foster wrote in a memo to the council.

The ordinance is similar to another adopted in May that cleared the way for a reorganization of the Community Development Department following the retirement of planning and zoning administrator Carol Ann Foote.

The ordinance states only that the city manager has authority over the utility department’s “administrative, staffing, organizational structure and personnel decisions,” giving Foster leeway to mix it up.

The rearrangement will result in a staff member being promoted to a crew leader and the hiring of an additional employee. The move should save the city about $5,000, according to Foster, and will be reviewed at the end of the year.

In other business, the council also:

  • Adopted a resolution designating banks for the treasurer to deposit public funds into;
  • Voted in favor of Foster’s name being added to a letter advocating for short-term rentals to be taxed the same as hotels or motels, at the request of Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brandy Miller;
  • Approved a request to serve as the fiduciary on a grant request to measure the economic impact of the city’s non-profit cultural destinations by surveying tourists; and
  • Appointed Councilor Les Johnson as mayor pro-tem.

Daily News Staff Writer

Justin Cooper can be reached at justin@ludingtondailynews.com.

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