Planning Commission Minutes February 1, 2024

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Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission

February 01, 2024

Meeting called to order by Moglovkin at 5.00 P.M.

Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.

 Roll Call:

            Present:            Sue Moglovkin              Joe Bassil                    

                                    Bonnie Robbins            Jim Gurr

                                    Mike Robinson (5:06)

            Township officials present:   Bob Logee, Butch Peeples 

                Absent:             Gary Lockwood            Gordy Schafer                          

Approval of Agenda:  Motion by Gurr, 2nd by Moglovkin  Add Future Land Use Map discussion under Old Business      Motion carried (5,0)

 Statement of Conflict of Interest:         None

Approval of Minutes:   January 4, 2024 .  As presented.  Motion by Gurr, 2nd by Bassil

Public Comment:         In attendance:  5. 

Gary Mayes congratulated the commission on update of master plan and distributed a copy of his suggestion to create a public committee to research and work on short-term rental language.  Gurr cautioned creating ad hoc committees.  Lengthy discussion about forming committees.  Robbins asked that the discussion be completed with the agenda item for this under new business. 

Laura Wilcox asked how a conflict of interest is determined.  Gurr shared a quick definition stating immediate financial gain for member or member’s family.  Wilcox asked what happens if a member doesn’t declare a conflict of interest.  Gurr stated two members of the commission can identify a conflict of interest and request the member remove themselves from the discussion.  He stated training courses suggest the member leave the room during discussion of the topic.

Carol Fricke asked if short-term rental language is being enforced.  Commissioners admit it is difficult to enforce and enforcement procedure would be discussed with legal counsel to strengthen enforcement procedure for any current or future language.

Mayes shared he has research just Clam Lake area and found thirty-three in just that small area of our township, six very near to his home.

Communications:         Discussion of email sent to Logee by Donald and Cheryl Henry concerning docks and shore station language removed from the zoning ordinance.  Bassil stated he recalls being told at a meeting that we have no control over what happened on the lake side of the high-water mark.  Robbins stated she believes that statement was made because the language had been removed by that time.  Legal counsel reviewed the ordinance in 2010 and had not removed that language and the commission should get advice from legal counsel to determine if we can write language regulating number of docks and shore stations.

New Business:             Zoning Administrator Report – LU (Land Use Permit) FC (Field Check)

 AC (Attorney Contact) PC (Public Contact) ZV (Zoning Violation)

    January 2024:   LU 1, FC 0, AC 0, PC 4, ZV 0

Continued discussion on forming committees for sections of work needed in the zoning ordinance.  Discussion with public about why the commission will do research and work prior to submitting to legal counsel for review to identify any loopholes or problems.  All public policy change will go through the required public hearing process.  Gurr feels the work is best done with additional meetings.  Robbins stated a committee would have more flexibility on meetings and the subcommittee would not shut the public out from those meetings, members need to understand they are simply doing some early research to help expedite the work needed to be completed before the summer season and they have no power to just write ordinance without the full commission review and adoption as required by law.  Robbins asked that STR language be discussed when Schafer is present.  Wilcox questioned why it should be delayed. Robbins stated it has been the process of the commission work to not make ordinance change when the public is not available to attend public hearings in the winter months or to make changes if there is a commission member who has a strong stance on an issue.  Robbins stated there is also a need to discuss conflict of interest but she doesn’t want to exclude Schafer from discussions.  Additional discussion of surrounding townships and their approach to STR.  Bassil stated he believes Clearwater’s new ordinance requiring rental to not be shorter than 30 days will most likely be challenged in court. 

Reminder from Moglovkin that the public can meet and discuss topics and then bring suggestions to the board but the subcommittee will be commission members only and the meetings will be open to the public and public comment will be considered. 

Concerns voiced by the people in earlier meetings will be first topics to be reviewed by the subcommittee.  Topics identified at this time are:  renewable energy, short-term rentals, recreational vehicle use, shoreline topics including greenbelt, funneling practices, and docks.  Committee members will be Jim Gurr, Sue Moglovkin, and Joe Bassil.  The first committee meeting will be Monday, February 12th at 10 AM in the meeting room.  Stephanie Lick asked if any language would be included to require the owner live on site for short-term rentals.  Robbins stated that the language has not been discussed yet so that may be part of the discussion.

Robbins will present dock and shore-station question to the Board next week and get approval for legal counsel review.

Old Business:           

Discussion of need for changes on the future land use map included with the master plan.  Robbins stated she included the current map when the file was sent to county for review but Logee would like to discuss re-zoning the Village Districts to make shoreline properties R1 use only.  Robbins will alert the county of this possible change on the Future Zoning Map.  Gurr will discuss that with the county planning commission during their review next week.  The language suggested by legal counsel should be sufficient to allow for that re-zoning if the commission makes the decision to support that action.

Master plan has been submitted to the county for review and will not be presented to the Board until the March meeting.

Public Comment:         Robinson stated the entire township must be considered when writing language.  He is hearing from the public outside of these meetings that there seems to be a lot of regulation being driven by rich lakefront owners without consideration for those who live at a lower income.  Wilcox said not all lakefront owners are rich but the concerns for impact on the lakes is concern for all township residents.  Moglovkin stated that language needs to take into consideration the needs of all residents.  Gurr said the ordinance has been designed to encourage compliance and not based on ordinances that require a tremendous amount of enforcement. 

Adjourn: 7:02 PM  Motion: Moglovkin, 2nd Robbins.  Carried

Respectfully Submitted,

Bonnie Robbins

Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary