A NEIGHBORHOOD DISPUTE on the Eastside says a lot about the future of Marquette.
It’s a microcosm of the town’s growing pains.
Here’s what’s happening.
The out-of-state owner of a tiny house on Cedar Street last year submitted plans to more than double the size of the house. What’s been a 1 1/2 story, 1 bedroom, 1 bath home will become a 2 1/2 story, 4 bedroom, 4 bath home with a two car garage. On a lot that’s 50 by 100 feet.
Neighbors, about 15 of them, say it’s too large. It will dominate and overwhelm all the others in this quiet, little neighborhood of modest, little homes.
Dave Stensaas, the city planner and zoning administrator, concedes it may change the look of the immediate neighborhood. “It will be a big house,” he says. “We don’t necessarily want them that big, and I understand that some neighbors will get heartburn from it.”
But here’s the problem: According to Stensaas, the building plans meet the standards of the city’s zoning ordinance. It does not change the “character” of the neighborhood, he says. It’s not a square, blocky building nor is it some weird castle-like structure. It’s just a big house.
That’s what he determined last year, that’s what the Zoning Board of Appeals decided twice, and that’s what Judge Karl Weber ruled in court a couple of weeks ago.
So construction on the home is proceeding, even as the neighbors take the case to an appeals court.
Jim Clark, the spokesman for the group, insists it’s too tall for the neighborhood, too massive, and covers too much of the tiny property. By his calculations, the house and the concrete comprise 82% of the property. That’s not much green space on a medium density, single family residential lot.
Stensaas disputes the 82% figure but admits this lot won’t have much space for gardens or grass. The average home, he calculates, is more like 45% building and concrete, and 55% green space.
He further points out that the owner and architect have made changes in the building plans to ease some of the concerns of the neighbors.
But clearly not enough changes. Clark says this new building and the shadow it casts will forever change this idyllic little neighborhood.
Attempts to contact the architect and the owner of the house have not been successful.
A final observation by Stensaas: Towns change, people change in the way they live and in their preferences for the homes they build.
We see it in the neighborhoods, we see it on the shoreline as people discover Marquette and money pours in. We’re a city in transition, for better or worse.
NOW TO A change that nobody’s complaining about.
Valle’s grocery store on Third Street is undergoing a major facelift. New siding, new paint, new signs on the outside walls.
It’s long overdue, according to owner Mike Valle. He’s owned the store for a decade and saw that the outside of the building was starting to deteriorate.
It needed modernizing, he says. The new look will be sand-colored with blue trim.
It all should be completed within a couple of weeks, weather permitting. Valle’s hoping the new look will help boost sales, along with some other ideas for the inside of the store that he’ll disclose later in the year.
THE NEWS DOESN’T look as good at Fat Boyz Bar and Grill in Trowbridge Park.
It closed down a week ago. Employees suddenly found themselves without a job.
The reason? Well, this is the sign you’ll find on the front door of the bar:
“Will be closed due to Liquor License Mixup. See you soon.”
How soon? And exactly what was the problem?
We haven’t been able to get any answers. The phone number listed for Fat Boyz has been disconnected.
THE WORD IS starting to spread.
Marquette County is home to likely the toughest, most torturous bike and running race in the nation. The Marji Gesick 100. One hundred miles of rugged trails. Rocks. Roots. Extreme climbing. Guaranteed falls. Guaranteed dropouts by superbly well-conditioned athletes.
The race started a couple of years ago, very low profile, but last year attracted more than 500 masochists. This September, probably more will join in on the “fun,” as the word gets out, thanks to Travel Marquette and the 906 Adventure Team.
And thanks, especially to Aaron Peterson, a local, talented filmmaker who’s just come up with this compelling promotional video for the Marji Gesick.
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