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Development plan for 90 N. Main goes to city council



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City planners are working on 90 N. Main Street, here used for a photo shoot by its sole occupant, David Savage. The shoot features Taylor Stokes, Clarkston High School junior. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
April 13, 2011 - After four drafts and a public hearing, Clarkston planners hammered out a proposal for 90 N. Main Street.

Proposed amendments to zoning ordinances would allow "Limited Use Overlays" for any property like 90 N. Main.

The building, formerly used as Clarkston High School, Community Center, and Independence Township Hall, is located in R1, Single Family Residential zoning. The overlay would allow it to have "uses which are compatible with a historic residential environment," including architects, engineering office, art studios and galleries, and other limited commercial uses, but not residences.

"The goal tonight is to get it out of our hands and give it to the council," said Planning Commission Chairman Robert Bondy at the April 4 meeting. "I didn't see anything objectionable to anything we found at our meeting (public hearing)."

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Building owner Bob Roth said he is glad to see forward progress.

"I don't understand their issue with the residential component, but at least it's moved forward to the city council and hopefully they'll make some changes," Roth said.

Councilman Stephen Hargis voted against the proposal, saying it could lead to over-commercialism of the area.

"I don't have a good plan as to how to mitigate this issue, but I'm looking ahead down the road and I'm feeling I personally cannot support this," Hargis said.

The plan is a "real threat to our fragile community," he said.

"The core of our community is the historic nature of this little town. It isn't just the place we're speaking of here (90 N. Main)," Hargis said.

Commissioner Mike McGraw said the document "does what it's supposed to do."

"I'm fearful this community will not continue to thrive and live the way it should if we don't make a move forward here," McGraw said. "A community is a place where people live and work, not just live. I think this will help to make us more vibrant."

Commissioner Eric Haven believed the document "mitigated some of the concerns" people had at the public hearing. However, allowing residential use at 90 N. Main was a "hang up" for him.

"This issue of residential use is one I think we need to be sensitive to as we approach this document, in terms of approving it, or not approving or recommending it going forward," he said.

According to the zoning ordinance changes written up by City Planner Dick Carlisle, a special land use would allow "dwellings within mixed use building," but "not more than two dwelling units may be approved."

"I think we've disarmed it of a lot of its environmental concerns. I feel good about that part of it, but I think from the standpoint of bringing residences into that building, that's change," Haven said. "I think that's one of the things I heard from the people on the floor."

Commissioner Tom Goldner agreed.

"It has to be one way or the other," he said. "I think we're becoming more residential in an area we shouldn't."

After a 3-3 failed vote, local resident and municipal attorney Jerry Fisher suggested the council make a motion to recommend the ordinance to the city council without residential authorization "with the understanding that if residential is going to be included, the provisions in this draft relate to residential be included."

This motion passed 4-2. Bondy, McGraw, Haven and Jen Detkowski voted "yes" and Goldner and Hargis voted "no." Commission members Robert Hahn and Anne Clifton were absent.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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