There has been a lot of discussion in the past week about a controversial vote regarding a request for a zoning change.
An owner of a spa on Florian St. requested what’s called a zoning variance, to enable her to operate her business in a residential area.
Hamtramck is no stranger to having a mix of commercial businesses and residential dwellings being located next to each other. This request was not unusual.
But some controversial comments were made by some in the community and some of the ZBA members, which were interpreted by others as coded racist language.
The owner of the spa is an African-American woman.
Three ZBA members voted against the request, which prevented a required two-thirds majority that was needed to permit the change.
They deny they had any racist intent, and said their decision was based solely on the city’s existing zoning code, which does not allow spas to be located in residential areas.
We don’t know why there is such a restriction, but we do know that the ZBA can permit exceptions.
It happens all the time.
Those three ZBA members also insist that the request did not meet a hardship requirement.
The owner of the spa had been operating for about a month before she was made aware of the requirement for a ZBA variance.
The owner had already invested in furnishing the business and making improvements. The building was also at one time a market.
The business is also next door to a dentist’s office, and the neighborhood is zoned for mixed use for both commercial and residential dwellings.
Long story short: Hamtramck has always had a mix of small businesses located next to houses.
The hardship argument doesn’t hold water. The fact that the location was previously a business, and that the owner invested money into it, shows that there would be a hardship in relocating after all that investment.
The owner plans to appeal the decision, and it’s likely the rejection will be overturned.
The city council made these ZBA appointments. Their appointments need to be seriously reconsidered, because those ZBA members in question are proving to be a liability to the city.
Posted July 23, 2021