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Hancock tables approval of zoning application for Navy St. development

Jun 05, 2023Jun 05, 2023

Aug 30, 2023

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining GazetteHancock City Manager Mary Babcock talks during Tuesday’s Hancock Planning Commission meeting.

HANCOCK — The Hancock Planning Commission tabled action on zoning approval for a proposed development on Navy Street, while a planned update on the city’s master plan was also delayed.

The commission considered a three-story building with nine units by J.S. Stringer LLC at Monday’s meeting. Another six units are also being proposed.

The building would be a little under 45 feet, meeting the height requirements for the Shoreline Mixed Use area.

City Manager Mary Babcock said there was concern about the road being wide enough for fire trucks and emergency vehicles. Fire Chief Bill Lepisto said National Fire Protection Association specifications call for at least 20 feet of unobstructed space.

Babcock said she was also worried about having space for snow removal.

The city has a 20-foot easement on right-of-way on six or seven parcels on the street; however, the city did not receive an easement all the way through, she said. The initial letter to the property owner in 2000 said the city’s easement covered a 12-foot-wide paved lane, 2-foot-wide gravel shoulders and a 4-foot-wide path running from east to west, Babcock said.

“I have a letter dated in January of 2001 that states if the city receives all the needed easements in a timely manner, the city would start the construction of the road this summer and paving of the road would not be done this year,” she said. “We never received the full easements, so this could not happen … we did not receive an easement all the way through, and this is the parcel that we didn’t receive it on.”

A future goal of the city also includes getting an easement to create room for a turnaround on the street. A previous attempt to purchase property through the Michigan Natural Resources trust Fund was unsuccessful.

“I think in the end, that’s the goal of the city, but it is separate from the zoning, other than making sure there is a 20-foot road all the way across there to see what it would cost,” Babcock said.

Residents and Planning Commission members also talked about the importance of ensuring public access to the waterfront from the city. Planning Commission member Bob Wenc suggested adding a small sidewalk onto the hillside that could maintain public access; parts of the commonly used walking path are technically on private property, he said.

“There may be some other alternatives to get public access for a walking and bike trail, and whatever needs to be done with the road is a separate issue,” he said.

The commission tabled the motion until it could receive more information on the easements.

A planned update on the city’s master plan from Grand Rapids-based Progressive AE at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting was canceled. They will come up sometime in the third week of September to hold a public open house and get feedback on the draft version of the plan.

The commission also named new officers. Adam Griffis was voted in as chair, and Susan Burack as vice chair. Kurt Rickard, who had been chair, was named city council mayor earlier this month after the resignation of Paul LaBine.

In other action, the

planning commission:

Heard from Babcock talks have been progressing with the Department of Education about purchasing Finlandia properties. A local buyer will be purchasing the Hoover Center, while an equity group from New York will be buying the former Finlandia Hall dormitory. There has been no indication yet what the buyers plan, Babcock said after the meeting. There have been no offers yet on the Jutila Center building, Babcock said.

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