Some background on zoning heights in Traverse City


1958-1999 Zoning allowed buildings downtown to be 10 stories and 125 feet high, but they had to be setback 20 feet and more if taller than 55 feet.

1989 Downtown Summit where a vision for a vibrant and denser downtown was conceived.

1994 New master plan adopted that envisioned downtown as a regional center with building heights from 2-7 stories.

July 16, 1999 New Zoning Ordinance creates three sub-zones downtown, C-4a, C-4B, and C-4c which stepped building heights down to the bay to preserve views. The tallest zone, C-4c, allowed 110 feet with an “interesting roofline.” A 10’ stepback is required above 45 feet.

August 6, 2003 After an extensive study of building heights, the Planning Commission receives and files the Building Heights Final Report and eliminated the “interesting roofline” bonus.

May 4, 2007 City Commissioner Ralph Soffredine asked the Planning Commission to consider lowering building heights to 60 feet, 68 if one floor designed and used for residential.

2006-2009 City Commission Ad Hoc Committee Regarding Building Heights a.k.a. Building Heights in the Downtown C-4 District Ad Hoc Committee studies building heights but expired with no action due to the adoption of the new master plan in July of 2009.

July 15, 2009 The City Commission adopts a new Master Plan that introduces the idea of HAME as a way to evaluate compliance with the plan. HAME requires that proposals be reviewed by four criteria: Hours, Auto, Mass & Emissions.

2009 Final Grand Vision finalized. The Grand Vision was a Federal Highway Administration-funded, six-county plan that included a survey of 12,000 area residents. The plan envisions mixed use downtowns serving as regional centers in Traverse City and Cadillac where buildings “may reach six stories or more.”

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