7/16/2014 12:01:00 AM No parking needed for proposed
downtown theater; Zoning Board grants variance for project
A proposed theater in downtown Harbor Springs was granted a complete reprieve from city parking requirements.
Last Wednesday, July 9, the Harbor Springs Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance from the city zoning code essentially freeing the proposed project of providing any of its own parking. The vote was 5-0 in favor of granting the variance.
Zoning administrator Tim Grimm estimated that code could have required in the neighborhood of 60 or more parking spaces.
"They made the case that there had a been theater in Harbor Springs before without dedicated parking; and the time they would need parking is the evening when there is less pressure downtown," Grimm said. "And the Planning Commission was on board with the new theater."
Grimm said this was not necessarily a precedent-setting vote to free all future projects from needing parking.
"In theory, each appeal brought before the ZBA stands on its own," Grimm said. "Anyone seeking a variance must make their own case as to why it should be granted."
City manager Tom Richards agreed.
"Every variance must come to the ZBA and each case is viewed individually," he said. "There were no parking requirements for the theater that existed in the 1970s, and there were no problems on record that we could find."
Richards went on to say the city has worked hard to reduce restrictions on parking codes over the last few years.
"I think it is important to note a lot of time and effort has already gone into how we look at parking in the city. We don't want to abandon our restrictions entirely. We have, however, made several changes to the code to give potential businesses more options. It's an on-going conversation."
The following members of the Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5-0 to approve the variance: Kristin McDonald, Matt Bugera, Ann Burrows, Bob Thoma, and Madeline Heinz.