Public comment sought for proposed short-term rental and sidewalk art zoning changes
Proposed regulations on seasonal fixtures in public rights of way — such as sidewalk pianos and sculptures — and a proposed easing of limits on short-term rentals downtown are both topics community members have an opportunity to speak on during upcoming public hearings.
Both hearings will be held during the Ludington Planning Commission’s public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at city hall.
The first hearing will be about adding articles to Ludington’s zoning code that would formally define the seasonal, semi-permanent fixtures and require them to obtain permits to be placed in public rights of way.
If the proposed change is approved, then the fixtures would be required to get City of Ludington permission on a seasonal basis to be located in city rights of way, and to get Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) approval as well if the items are to be placed beside an MDOT-controlled trunkline.
The fixtures would have to be “of a true seasonal nature” and could only be in the rights of way from May 1 to Oct. 31, according to the proposed ordinance. The fixtures must also allow at least 5 feet of open space for pedestrian passage and not extend more than 34 inches from the face of a building.
The fixtures could “not involve the erection of a building” and must not be “detrimental to any adjacent uses during the permitted time frame,” the proposed ordinance states.
The second public hearing will address a proposed change that, if implemented, would allow transient rentals of dwellings for periods of less than 28 days to be permitted in Ludington’s central business and maritime commercial zoning districts.
Ludington currently restricts rentals of less than 28 days within city limits to only be allowed in traditional vacation establishments — hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels and condos.
The ordinance as amended would permit residences in the central business and maritime commercial districts to short-term rent if their property owners apply for special land uses. Short-term rentals would still be restricted elsewhere in the city.
The planning commission has been considering the short-term rental policy change as a result of urging from property owner Ryan Reed, who has been petitioning for the rentals to be allowed within the Ludington Downtown Development Authority area, which includes the central business and maritime commercial districts.
Other Ludington landlords, such as Nancy Mustaiks, have asked the city to allow short-term rentals of residences to be allowed anywhere within city limits, not just in the downtown area.
Mustaiks stated in a letter to the planning commission dated March 7 that she has been requesting the city change its short-term rental policy for the past 20 years “to no avail.” She wrote that any residence should be allowed to short-term rent as long as the property owner has a sales tax license, pays all applicable taxes and is registered with the city.
“If your proposed ordinance to limit Short Term Rentals to only the downtown area is passed without including all of the residences in City of Ludington, I promise you that I will file a lawsuit against the City using all laws that will apply to this ordinance,” Mustaiks stated in the letter.
After the public hearings April 3, the planning commission could make its recommendations regarding the proposed ordinance changes to city council.
The final decision on whether or not to approve the ordinance changes will be made by city council at a public meeting at a later date.