No Action On Group Housing Ordinances In City Of Howell

The Howell City Council met Monday night and postponed action on ordinances related to transitional and sober living housing in the City of Howell.

In July of 2018, the City instituted a moratorium for all special land use requests for un-related persons living together in single family residential districts. The City had received an application for a recovery supportive services home at 304 South Walnut Street targeting individuals recovering from addiction. The applicant is The Amber Reineck House, which is would mirror the model of Home of New Vision that operates facilities in other areas and would support women seeking long term treatment from addiction. A representative previously stated that there is a major need for a sober living home for women only, as there aren’t any others in Livingston County. The application was eventually withdrawn due to concerns from neighbors being raised. Since the moratorium was instituted, city staff has been working with various attorneys and planning consultants to research the topics and draft two ordinances. The moratorium had been set to expire October 23rd but at the last meeting, Council voted to extend the moratorium in R-1 and R-2 zoning for any special land use applications regarding group housing until November 15th.

At Monday’s meeting, Council voted to postpone action on three agenda items until a date to be determined by the city manager and had very minimal discussion on the topic. Mayor Nick Proctor stated they have a little bit more work to do, which is why they’re holding off. One resident who lives nearby with his family did express some concerns. Shawn Bourne thanked council saying he recognizes this has been a difficult process with a lot of variables and play and appreciates the work being done but felt it was important to voice his concerns and questions. Those include how the program will be monitored, vetting for criminal history, what standards operators would be held to and if there’s a path to rescind the license if there are violations. Bourne said he understands that people need help and sympathizes but it’s a single family residential neighborhood with little kids and he has deep concerns knowing the statistics out there. Bourne said it was with an open mind and many questions that he and neighbors attended an open house that was held for Home of New Vision, saying they went with specific questions on valid concerns that officials could not answer related to things including screening and housing violent offenders and relapse discharge rates.

Ordinance 929 would change zoning ordinance to modify standards for transitional housing uses and adds standards for special accommodation uses. Ordinance 930 would be a change to the overall City Code of Ordinances and create a licensing process for uses approved as transitional housing facilities or sober living homes. Separately, a resolution regarding permit fees for transitional housing facilities and sober living homes was also postponed. It’s unclear when the items will be back before Council. (JM)

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