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Politics

Traverse City commissioners approve defending city charter

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Joel Dinda
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A defense of Traverse City’s charter was unanimously approved by the city commission on Monday.

In November voters approved an amendment to the charter that requires public approval on any new buildings taller than 60 feet within the city limits.

But officials were unclear whether the amendment violated the state constitution, and called for outside legal aid to determine if it did.

Meanwhile a development company sued the city over the amendment, saying it put their condominium project in limbo.

Jim Young is one of the Lawyer’s defending the Charter. He said since there is no law on the books banning voters from weighing in on new buildings, it may be legal.

“In essence the position is that the Michigan Constitution reserves to home rule townships any powers that are not specifically prohibited.”

Jim Carruthers is Traverse City Mayor.

“The city will now vigorously argue and fight the challenge to the city charter and its referendum on proposal 3.”

Gerald Fisher is a lawyer for 326 Land Company, which filed suit against the city over the amendment in January. He said normally buildings are approved or denied based on whether they meet specific zoning criteria.

“The proposition that was passed last November requiring a public vote has no criteria, has no standards whatsoever.”

Fisher said requiring public approval on building projects leaves developers with no clear guidelines for getting projects approved, and leaves projects up to “a popularity contest”.