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Houghton council approves rezoning for prospective vacation home site

HOUGHTON — Two parcels of land near Cole’s Creek are being rezoned ahead of a planned project including vacation homes and an RV park.

The Houghton City Council voted 7-0 Wednesday to approve rezoning two parcels along Houghton Canal road from B-2 to Reserve. The rezoning is being sought by owner JRG Enterprises. The prospective buyer, Gold Metal Rentals, plans to build 18 to 24 timber vacation homes.

The plan also calls for a RV/tent campground with 46 modern full hook-up RV sites and 23 tent sites. Included in the plan are a water’s edge pavilion, docks for watercraft and fishing, a boat launch, and a playground. Gold Metal Rentals would plant about 350 trees.

The campground and rental omes would not have been allowed under B-2 zoning.

Two other parcels were excluded from the rezoning. Parcel A, which includes 13 acres closest to Cole’s Creek, will be kept as a nature preserve. A raised boardwalk of about a third of a mile will be built on the nature preserve, with observation outposts stationed throughout, Gold Metal Rentals manager Derek Bradway wrote to the city.

Parcel D, the easternmost parcel, was recommended for a lot split by the Planning Commission last month.

Parcels B and C were rezoned from R-1 (residential) to B-2 earlier this year. The move had attracted opposition from some residents and some council members who worried about a hotel or other development that might cause too much traffic and noise.

Council members were required to consider 16 items before voting. F. Michelle Halley, attorney for the applicant, singled out two during the public hearing: compatibility with existing uses of property around the area, and compatibility of the proposal with the master plan.

Bradway met with the neighbors to ensure their approval, Halley said. And the reserve zoning, mentioned by the city’s master plan for use along the canal, is more appropriate than the B-2, she said.

“I think this is an excellent use of the property, given its location and the environmental challenges it already has,” she said. “It’s not as if you’re giving up wilderness or something like that to create a use that I understand is in quite high demand. And it’s agreeable to the neighbors, which is not a small matter for the council to consider.”

Councilor Brian Irizarry, who had voted against the first rezoning, supported the move to Reserve.

“Reading through this proposal, it looks like the growth is going to possibly result in some more traffic, but I think the city can also grow to accommodate that traffic, because I think this growth is positive, that it’s a good use of the land,” he said. “I think it’s a clever use of our resources we have here that are unique to us.”

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