Planning Commission Minutes – January 15, 2014

Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission

January 15, 2014



Meeting called to order by Swan at 7:00 p.m.

Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:                      Present:            Jim Swan                Jim Gurr

Chris Dewald           Bonnie Robbins

Rodger Dewey

Absent:             Mike Robinson        Bob Johnson


Township officials present:                    Rick Teague            David Peterson


Approval of Agenda:  As submitted.  Motion: Gurr, 2nd Robbins.  Carried

Statement of Conflict of Interest:          None

Approval of Minutes:  (Dec. 4, 2014) Clarify that site plan review committee did not meet, meeting postponed to allow commission time to discuss review process with legal counsel.  Discussion of Conservation Easement language to be on February agenda due to Molby absence.  Motion: Gurr, 2nd Dewald.  Carried

Public Comment:         (9 in attendance) No comments.


Communications:         Two documents from Bzdok distributed for review.


New Business:

ZA report  Tabled due to Molby’s hospitalization.


Old Business:  Swan noted he was unable to contact the adjacent owner about tonight’s meeting as he did not have the contact phone number.  Not a deliberate over site.

                        Bzdok reviewed the procedure for proceeding with the site plan review.  Procedure will offer commission and the site plan review committee to assure the development meets the zoning ordinance requirements.  Information is submitted in a timely manner and allows applicant and the public opportunity to present information pertinent to the development.  Bzdok recommends township hire a civil/environmental engineer to review the application and work with the planning commission due to the scope of this development.  Applicant and Torch Lake Protection Alliance (TLPA) can be asked to make recommendations. Township will make final decision.  A biological engineer may be consulted if commission or township determines there is a need.  Kate Redman of Olson, Bzdok & Howard (OBH) has credentials to assist review as planner.


Gurr:  Are the applicant and TLPA in court now?  Applicant and TLPA said they are not in court.

Discussion of next steps.  Township determines what engineering firm to hire.  Commission approved Bzdok to develop outline of scope of engineering work so commission can select a firm at the next meeting.  Commission will set escrow amount based on bids received from engineering firm.  Process will then move to subcommittee for review.  Bzdok or Redman will attend subcommittee meetings.  These meetings will be public meetings.  Records will be kept of these meetings.  When subcommittee determines the application is complete all planning commission members will be given the full application package for review.

Discussion of how applicant will know what information is needed.  (Bzdok) Additional information will be determined early in the review process.

Bzdok stated his interpretation of the ordinance is the open space plan review requirement of the ordinance can be a discussion at the site plan review committee.  Applicant needs to be informed the option is available but not required to submit formal plan.

When review committee has a completed application the planning commission will schedule a public hearing to review the application and take public comment.  No decision will be made at the public hearing.   Planning Commission will meet with engineer and planner to review application and information gathered at the public hearing. Planning Commission will make decision at the next regularly scheduled meeting based on findings of the review committee, information from public hearing, and information from meeting with experts.  Complete application will be forwarded to the Township Board for final decision.

Comment from public and Dewey about making sure the process is documented and recorded properly.  Bzdok stated they will be keeping a file on the proceedings.  Gurr noted the township has used a checklist for site plan review in the past.

Motion by Gurr to adopt procedure outlined by Bzdok for site plan review.  2nd by Robbins.  Carried


Comment by Brian Rawley (Gordie Frasier representing applicant) that a planner would be the expert needed to review the plan, in the past the commission has allowed agencies to handle engineering decisions.

Bzdok stated the township needs to hire an engineer for this development review.



Request from Bzdok to be notified who is on the site plan review committee.  Jim Swan will keep Bzdok’s office informed of meetings as they are scheduled.

Clarification that approved review process includes the timeframe for submitting information.


Public Comment:

                        Chris Goebal (planner-working with TLPA) asked if he could present a site plan based on his review of the zoning ordinance.  Swan stated we do not have an application from the property owner in front of us and it would not be fair for the commission to allow another party to present a plan.


Rawley stated they feel they have a complete application.  They turned in all documents requested by Molby in November and came to the December meeting with the impression they were ready for a public hearing.

Gurr stated we had determined at the December meeting that we were not ready for a public hearing.

Dewey asked if we have an application package.  Are we creating an unnecessary delay?

Bzdok stated we have developed a process and are within legal boundaries.  This is not an unnecessary delay.  Township has an obligation to make an informed decision.

Application is still at the site plan review committee level.  When completed it will be given to all commission members for review prior to the public hearing as outlined in the adopted procedure.

Dewey questioned process if Molby is not able to return to work right away.

Bzdok—township will need to appoint someone temporarily to do Molby’s job.

Adjourn: Motion Dewald, 2nd Dewey. Carried 8:15 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted,

Bonnie Robbins

Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary