By Jessica Mathews/

After years of work, the Howell City Council has approved an ordinance related to transitional housing and special accommodation use standards as it still laces legal action over the issue.

A moratorium was instituted in July of 2018 for all special land use requests for un-related persons living together in single family residential districts. A memo states staff worked extensively on Ordinance 929 after multiple rounds of input from the Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid-Michigan and a lawsuit filed by the organization against the city. Council adopted the ordinance at its March 9th meeting, which changes zoning ordinance and modifies standards for transitional housing uses and adds standards for special accommodation uses.

The ordinance is said to represent the “lightest touch” the City believes is possible to take in regulating the use and still get the information it’s looking for from facilities. Staff had been working on a separate ordinance to provide regulations for the licensing and operation of transitional housing facilities, but decided a better approach would be to expand the City’s rental registration ordinance, rather than create a new one to address transitional housing facilities. Council agreed and rejected that ordinance and a separate resolution that would have established licensing fees for transitional housing facilities.

Meanwhile, an amended complaint was filed March 17th in the Fair Housing Center’s lawsuit, which alleges the City, Mayor Nick Proctor and Community Development Director Tim Schmitt engaged in a concerted, ongoing effort to prevent the Amber Reineck House from operating a long term recovery home in the City. The center claims that the council’s adoption of Ordinance 929 imposes “onerous, arbitrary, and discriminatory zoning requirements on Amber Reineck House that bear no reasonable relationship to the needs of persons with disabilities.” A scheduling conference is set in April. A copy of the complaint is attached.