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City OKs creation of committee to study housing affordability

Alex Doty • Dec 5, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Grand Haven leaders have started on their path to looking into housing affordability in the community.

City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a resolution that creates an ad-hoc committee to study the issue in Grand Haven. The resolution notes that housing affordability is an economic issue that’s key to the continued financial growth of local businesses, and also a social issue that’s key to maintaining a socio-economically diverse community.

"I feel like doing a happy dance," Councilman Josh Brugger said following Monday’s vote.

Brugger first introduced the topic of housing affordability to City Council earlier this year, along with an initial resolution to set up a housing affordability study committee. Councilman Bob Monetza brought a similar proposal to the Nov. 20 City Council meeting, and the decision was postponed while the two worked through both versions of the plan.

"They put their heads together and have come up with (the current plan)," City Manager Pat McGinnis said Monday night.

Similar to the effort to address short-term rental housing within the city, McGinnis said that the committee would be working off a “blank slate.”

“We’d be starting with a task force to look at what steps we should look at,” he said.

The committee will be composed, at a minimum, of two City Council members, two members of the city’s Planning Commission, the city manager, the city’s community development manager or her representative, 2-4 members of the community at-large with knowledge relevant to the issue, and as many as two additional members recommended by the city manager and agreed upon by the committee.

The group will then be tasked with summarizing options for economic development, planning and Zoning Ordinance amendments, planned residential development, infrastructure, and any other direction intended to increase available housing options in the city.

Preliminary results of the effort will be presented to City Council in about eight months.

“I think the resolution we have ... is a throughly vetted resolution,” Brugger said. “I am pleased with where we are at.”

The measure by City Council comes at a time when the issue of affordable housing is being looked at by others in Ottawa County. County business leaders have partnered with the local United Way, area community foundations and chambers of commerce to form the Housing Next Leadership Council, which is designed to look at ways to address housing affordability countywide.

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