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Hancock mulls changes to ordinances

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Planning Commission elected at its February meeting Monday evening to hold a public hearing at its March meeting regarding two potential ordinance changes. The ordinance changes, regarding the height of single-family structures and how far they must be from the street, was proposed by Planning Commissioner Andy Lahti.

“Some of these ordinances haven’t been looked at in a long time,” said Lahti owner of the Beach View Trailer Park. “The area will be less congested and have cleaner property lines.”

Lahti purchased the trailer park last year and is looking at turning the area into a tiny-home community by converting the current 18 lots into 15 lots with more “green space” and a play area. However, the model structure and layout that he has in mind for the lots could potentially exceed some of the limits set on the R1 neighborhood by local zoning ordinances.

Height ordinances for R1 neighborhoods have a limit of 30 feet. Trailer parks have a further limitation of 14 feet setback ordinances require that structures be 20 feet from the property line in the front, 10 feet back on each side and 30 feet back in the rear.

Lahti pointed out that a number of the trailers currently on the property are already further outside of these ordinances than the planned future structures would be – but that those structures can’t be built under the current ordinance. Most of the properties are currently vacant and those occupants still in the park would “have the option of buying in” to the redeveloped community, according to Lahti.

A number of commissioners were in favor of exploring the option.

“Changing the height to 20 feet is no problem, in my opinion,” said commissioner Bob Wenc. “Whatever you do is going to be better than what’s there now.”

Some commissioners suggested that there might be other options that would allow the changes in the trailer park without changing the ordinances – which would potentially affect most of Hancock. Other options might include establishing a “specific use district” for the park. Clerk and acting Manager Mary Babcock also said that there may be state laws that would prevent the city from reducing the setback ordinance.

Some counselors were also concerned that ordinance changes in the neighborhood could be taken advantage of by future developers if Lahti were to sell the park.

Lahti responded that the public hearing would allow but not require action on the part of the Planning Commission and would be more about exploring options than pursuing legislation at this time.

“This is just a discussion to see what some of the options are,” said Lahti.

The Planning Committee’s regular March meeting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 23, at Hancock’s City Hall at 399 Quincy Street.

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