Proposed Marquette zoning change would affect long-vacant downtown homes

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Residential homes in downtown Marquette that have sat empty for extended periods of time will no longer have to be converted to commercial use on the lower level if a section in the city’s zoning ordinance is removed.

Marquette’s planning and zoning commission recommended the deletion at its quarterly meeting earlier this month. Zoning administrator Darren Matthew said the city’s attorney, Dan Key, did not see any issues with the change.

At its Aug. 16 meeting, the Marquette Council agreed to set a public hearing at the start of its Sept. 20 meeting regarding the change.

The ordinance section currently calls for any residential property that sits empty for 12 consecutive months or 18 months out of 2 years to have its lower level converted to commercial use when it’s next utilized, in order to become a conforming use in the commercially-zoned area. 

“There are so many houses in this location that are not suitable for businesses on the lower level,” said mayor Larry Breuer, referencing why the change was suggested. “For anybody whose house has been here, it can stay residential, even if it’s been sitting idle.”

At the zoning meeting, Matthew said the removal of this section will not affect any current downtown commercial buildings, since that is a conforming use.

Breuer said the change will also not prevent anyone who would like to open a business in the lower level of a home from doing so.

“It should be a privilege to live in this area,” he said. “It gives you the option to do either.”

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