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April 22, 2019 12:11 pm

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Douglas Council Reconsiders Proposed Amendment Of City's Accessory Building Ordinance

        Following expressed concerns from an area vacation rental property manager, the Douglas City Council last week moved to table the second and final reading of an amendment meant to overhaul the language regulating accessory buildings and sent the issue back to the Douglas Planning Commission.
        “Keep Douglas quirky; I don’t want it to be a suburb,” Mark Mikolitis, who manages a multi-million dollar portfolio of area properties (Lakeshore Lodging), told the council last Tuesday.
        Accessory structures usually consist of detached, secondary buildings to the principal buildings on a property, (i.e., garages, sheds, storage buildings, etc.)
        “This amendment could be used to prohibit barns, greenhouses, pool houses, garden sheds and any other structure that is considered ‘not consistent’ in the opinion of the zoning administrator,” Mikolitis read from prepared notes before the council.
        He further argued the proposed amendment would ban Quonset-type buildings, which have a long, historical presence, as well as the use of energy efficient materials.   
        “I sat in on a lot of the Planning Commission meetings. They (planners) were adamant about cleaning up the language,” Douglas City Council Member Neil Seabert told colleagues.
        Some of that proposed language reads:
             “Accessory buildings shall be designed in such a manner that is consistent with the look, style, and materials of the principal building”

.      “Exterior materials and finish must match or complement the exterior finish of the principal structure in material, color, and texture.”

       “Exterior walls must be covered only with siding (e.g. wood, vinyl, aluminum or metal horizontal lap), stucco, brick, glass or other comparable material as approved by the Zoning Administrator.”
        That proposed language strikes Mikolitis as too narrow in scope and would inhibit residents from creating a unique look and use of their properties.
        “It reads as if the intent is to move us away from the rural character of Douglas toward standardized, suburban aesthetic, which is inconsistent with what I’ve heard, firsthand, in every MI Place workshop and visioning session that I’ve attended.”
        Officials took heed of Mikolitis’ concerns.
        “I think there is a variety of opinions on this topic,” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.
        “I don’t think it’s going to hurt if we send it back to the Planning Commission to address some of Mark’s (Mikolitis) concerns,” added the city manager.
        While some of the issues highlighted by Mikolitis could be addressed by a variance, “they are difficult to obtain,” said LeFevere.

Douglas Council Reconsiders Proposed Amendment Of City’s Accessory Building Ordinance

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