Courier-Leader, Paw Paw Flashes, & South Haven Beacon News

City Council furthers zoning ordinance, establishes moratorium

By Michael Reo

At the first South Haven City Council meeting of June, the council handled a number of matters, new and old. They furthered the zoning ordinance regarding short-term rentals, pushing it along to the city’s Planning Commission, in addition to adopting a moratorium on personal STRs, recognizing the awards gifted by the South Haven Area Community Foundation and bringing in LGBTQ+ Pride Month in South Haven with a proclamation.
Following their pursuance of a moratorium on personal STRs in the previous meeting — which would halt new personal STRs being accepted for the next six months — the city attorney drafted the moratorium. In the meeting June 3, the council voted to adopt that moratorium.
In the next six months, during the duration of the moratorium, the council resolved to investigate the preexisting personal STRs. Council member Mary Hosley clarified, however, that the moratorium could be ended early under certain conditions.
“Although this is set for a six-month moratorium, if the zoning ordinance is completed to address the issue for which this is helping us identify,” Hosley said, “this could be vacated, rescinded at an earlier point in time.”
The zoning ordinance in question, which was sent back to the city attorney to be edited at the previous meeting, was also furthered at the meeting.
Although the council had a handful of changes to make to the ordinance, they voted unanimously to send the ordinance to the Planning Commission, where it could then be finalized and sent back to the council to consider implementation.
While members of the public and council members had previously levied concern that the ordinance would be “grandparenting” preexisting STRs that had previously not adhered to the new ordinance’s rules, city attorney Cliff Bloom stated that the ordinance itself would not be grandparenting these properties.
“This language is not grandparenting anything beyond what the Constitution requires, so just like any other violation of the zoning ordinance, if staff finds a violation, and they pursue it, that’s one way of doing it,” Bloom said.
In the event that the ordinance is adopted, all STRs “legally in existence” would be allowed under the ordinance. Because of Michigan law regarding “lawful nonconforming uses,” any STRs that were established under the previous ordinance would not be subject to the rules of the new ordinance. If a violation of the previous ordinance was found in a complaint from an “aggrieved neighbor,” either by city staff or the Zoning Board of Appeals, action could be taken to pursue disqualifying said STR.
Following discussion, the council sent the draft of the zoning ordinance to the commission under the stipulation that certain wording be changed and other wording be discussed by the commission in the future.
In addition to the work on STRs, the council heard from the community foundation, who recently awarded grants to a number of local and regional nonprofits. Many nonprofits were present to thank the council and show the work being done. Afterward, the council resolved to consider June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month with a proclamation of allyship. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies showed up to support the resolution.

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