By Melinda Baird,

Out-of-town professional actors and actresses will now have further incentive to choose the Encore Musical Theatre stage for highlighting their craft.  The downtown Dexter theatre company recently purchased a house at 3479 Central Street with the hope of providing temporary housing to performers in need.  Its hope was fulfilled March 26 when Dexter City Council granted final approval of a special land use application for that purpose.

“The dwelling will be their home for a short while, wherein actors and actresses can feel as if they are a part of the Dexter community, a part of the charm coming to a small city to perform,” Encore representative Larry Zahn wrote in the application.

Dexter’s planning commission voted earlier this year to recommend approval of the application after determining Encore’s requested use of the house is compatible with the Village Residential District in which it is zoned.  The required public hearing March 5 garnered no public comment.


Some conditions were established by the commission in order to avoid emitting vibes similar to “student housing in Ann Arbor,” Community Development Manager Michelle Aniol told Council.  These include regular maintenance of the exterior structure and proper use of the overall structure (including traffic, noise, and parking) so that it retains the appearance of a single family residence.

To that end, the commission capped the number of sleeping rooms to three—all located upstairs—and number of sleeping occupants to seven.  A maximum of four people may inhabit the two bedroom suite linked by a bathroom, and three may inhabit the larger master bedroom with adjoining bathroom.

The commission also took great care to distinguish temporary employment housing from short-term rental, the latter of which is not a permitted use in the city.  The distinction will be clearly defined in a proposed text amendment to the zoning ordinance scheduled for public hearing April 2.  The amendment, typically accomplished prior to special land use approval, will formally provide the option for temporary employment housing as a special land use in the city’s ordinance.

Now in its tenth season, Encore Musical Theatre is a non-profit musical theatre located at 3126 Broad Street.  Its mission is to create quality, original theatrical productions with an emphasis on musical theatre, utilizing a unique mixture of Broadway and local talent of all levels while engaging and entertaining a wide spectrum of the surrounding communities.