Former school may get new use

ESCANABA — The Delta County Planning Commission agreed to hold a public hearing on the possibility of making an amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance. The amendment could lead to a former school building being converted into apartments. The commission discussed the matter at its regular meeting Monday.

The proposed change is the addition of multi-family housing as a conditional use for land zoned for rural residential use in the county. Delta County Building and Zoning Administrator Dan Menacher addressed this possibility during a discussion on Mike Mills’ plans for the former Pine Ridge School on J.5 Road.

“He wants to turn the Pine Ridge School into apartments — it’s currently not zoned for that,” Menacher said.

Menacher said the commission could also rezone the land where the school building is located. However, he noted that amending the ordinance could help more people in the area.

“We are limited on anywhere that you can have multiple-family units of any sort,” he said. Menacher also said he has been hoping to make changes to the county’s zoning ordinance this winter, but the commission’s focus has been on an expansion to Heritage Sustainable Energy’s wind farm on the Garden Peninsula until recently.

Even if this change is made to the ordinance, Menacher said the commission would still have to recommend multi-family housing on land zoned for rural residential use on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s not granting anything immediately — it’s still the process of conditional use,” he said.

In other business, the commission:

– voted to approve a requested expansion of a parcel zoned for rural residential use in Cornell Township.

– voted to approve additional setbacks for property in Wells Township owned by Nevin Naser after his neighbor indicated this would not create any problems. The commission previously agreed to have Menacher ask Naser’s neighbor for input before taking a vote on the setbacks.

– encouraged Paul LeBotte to move forward with a request that a parcel of his land be rezoned for resource production.