By Jessica Mathews/

A moratorium on group housing in residential zoning in the City of Howell has been extended again.

The Howell City Council met Monday night and approved a resolution extending a moratorium for all special land use requests for un-related persons living together until March 23rd. The motion was approved with no discussion. The moratorium was set to expire February 24th. It has been extended to March 23rd. The City originally instituted the moratorium in July of 2018 in order to craft two ordinances that would change zoning to modify standards for transitional housing uses and add standards for special accommodation uses while also creating a licensing process for uses approved as transitional housing facilities or sober living homes. 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.

A memo states the moratorium needed to be extended to allow for the revised ordinance to be considered for adoption and publication, which is possible at the next March 10th meeting. The resolution states that staff and consultants have been working diligently and completed work on various versions of ordinance modifications to address concerns raised by Council, the Planning Commission and outside groups and individuals. A first reading was held but further modifications were directed so the moratorium was extended.

Meanwhile, the City is currently facing a federal discrimination lawsuit alleging it blocked a local non-profit’s attempt to open a sober living home for women in recovery. The City had received an application from the Amber Reineck House for a recovery supportive services home on South Walnut Street targeting women recovering from addiction but the application was eventually withdrawn and the moratorium enacted. The lawsuit was filed in January by The Amber Reineck House, its President Courtney Atsalakis and the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan. It names the City of Howell, Mayor Nick Proctor and Community Development Director Tim Schmitt. The suit alleges the named defendants took various actions in direct response to significant community opposition to the proposed home, which was based on discriminatory bias against persons recovering from substance use disorders. The City has declined to comment on the pending litigation, per policy.