Planning Commission Minutes – March 2, 2011

Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission
March 2, 2011

Meeting called to order by Swan at 7:03 p.m.
Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.
Roll Call:     Present:    Jim Swan    Jim Gurr
Mike Robinson    Bonnie Robbins
Chris Dewald
Absent:     Rodger Dewey    Bob Johnson
Township officials present:    Guy Molby    Bob Logee
Penny Wagner    Cathy Rice
Rick Teague    David Peterson

Approval of Agenda:  Motion to approve with change (add Communications).  Motion: Robbins, 2nd Dewald.  Carried (5,0)
Statement of Conflict of Interest:    None
Public Comment:    4 present (in addition to township officials)
J. Bassil commented on road project for bike lanes.  Recommends not granting the amount requested from the road commission.  Project was submitted without input from township and without regard to township budget constraints.  Money should be allocated for when project was submitted and not asked for after the fact.
New Business:        Review of suggested Zoning Ordinance changes from the township legal council.
Chris Bzdok and Kate Redman determined changes from 4 perspectives:
1)     Needed to bring current with changes in laws;
2)     Requested language review from planning commission, township board, and zoning administrator;
3)    Flow of material for easier understanding;
4)    Things they put together as they reviewed the document.
Question on billing and the process for public notification when complete.  Budget concerns of commission.  Billing hourly for one staff with two attending meetings, posting of final document draft can be on website and available at office or library, summary posted in paper.
Discussion on changing process for Special Use and Special Permit, define use by right and when a permit is required.
Gurr-concerned listing permitted uses will give way to deny like use not listed
Bzdok explained basic mechanics are same as what we have now.  Uses not listed still follow the permit process.
Gurr-concerned we don’t create a document to place the township in arguments between neighbors on land use.
Robinson-document needs to allow property owner to use their property as long as it is not harming others.
Discussion on changes in the definitions.  Laws require change in family definition and addition of Group Care Homes.  Changes are from current case laws.
Definition for Short Term Vacation Rental suggested for review.  Commission can discuss time limit and adjust if needed.
Discussion on move of Administration and Enforcement (will become Chapter II)
New section-permitting process and clarifying that other permits may be required.  Add section to require property boundaries be marked.  Section will be reviewed by commission and administrator to determine if it fulfills our requires.  Discussion of would indicate a use permit should come to the commission.
Bzdok-Language still allows zoning administrator to bring request to commission when he determines the need for review by the commission.
Section for rehearing has been revised.  Permit may be revoked if misrepresentation by the applicant.
R-3 District language removed.
Manufacturing District was modified, boundaries to be determined by commission.
Created new schedule to clarify area, height, and bulk requirement for each district.  Format will make it easier for the public.  Blanks will need filled in by commission. Discussion to keep it the same and review later if needed.
Discussion topics for future meetings are lot size in Rural Residential, Manufacturing District boundaries, and uses by permit or by right determined.
Discussion of changes in Agricultural District.  Suggest adding purpose section to this chapter to distinguish active agricultural land from proposed Rural Residential District.  Proposed language created from discussion with township and from master plan language.
Dewald-there needs to be a rural residential district for those parcels that are not agricultural and will not be used as agricultural.
Gurr concerned it will limit or prohibit use in the districts.
Robinson concerned with limiting farming on residential lots in the RR district,
Bzdok-Goal is to protect agriculture in the township, would not affect small parcels in RR who want to farm.
Swan-will this trigger a bunch of appeals?
Bzdok-No. Gave examples of current uses or reasonable future uses that would help define a RR District.  Uses maps to locate areas that look to be more RR than Agricultural.
Rice-What rules would be different if you had been Ag and was changed to RR?
Bzdok-Whatever you want to be different.  Goal is to minimize friction between area being developed now as residential and larger agricultural areas.  Final decision is up to board.  Consensus that topic will need more discussion on the pros and cons of creating a separate districts and what the changes would mean.
Discussion of # of days for hunting trailer.  Discussion that allowing by right is in violation of other sections of the ordinance.  Consensus that this should be discussed further and defined to be consistent throughout ordinance.
Redman-Determine if accessory uses and buildings are permitted by right or by permit.  What commercial uses in the Agricultural District:   List of permitted uses could be more limited to uses that a re agricultural in character.  Commercial boat storage in Ag?
Teague-what would be the objective to having this in Ag or in Commercial?
Redman-these could be uses under special permit.
Gurr-example of business growth denied because activities previously allowed in Ag that are not considered industrial.
Bzdok-language would protect those uses in Ag.
Discussion that the permitting process is still available for uses not allowed by right.  Topic will be discussed further.
Bzdok-separation will give more uses in the Ag district and more protection for those uses than the current ordinance.  There are uses listed that the law dictates.
Bzdok-Short term rentals.  Proposing to allow them under some rules.  Basically, minimum of seven days, licensing which can be revoked if repeated violations.  Licensing could cover # of persons allowed, # of cars allowed, quiet hours, noise violation.
Robinson-tourist state and tourist town, businesses won’t survive without tourists.
Discussion on how to regulate.  Ordinances is not meant to prohibit.  Language will give township ability to address complaints and define regulations for those wishing to rent their properties.
Bzdok-will give us samples of what they have seen play out so the ordinance covers the fact that the rentals happen.
Topic will be discussed further at a future meeting.
Bzdok-setbacks and dock/boat restriction no longer regulated.  Language regulating use of setback areas and limit of docks and boats defined by lakefront footage has been removed as discussed earlier with the commission and zoning administrator.  Consensus that this will be a hot topic and will be discussed further.

Redman-commercial district-current states new or change in business requires permit, recommend this stay.
*Discussion of allowing outdoor storage with proper buffering.
Redman-discussion of regulation for sexually oriented business.  Need guidance on language.  Can be concentrated in one area with restriction on distance from schools, etc.  Lot of rulings from free speech to consider on this language.
Bzdok will research language for an ordinance.  They will review topics discussed and propose ordinance language based on the discussions tonight.
Redman-clarification comment.  Some uses will now be allowed by permit only.
Discussion of allowing multiple uses per parcel and language needed for this.

Discussion of medical marihuana law and how to regulate the land use for dispensary and growing businesses.  Bzdok will get language to the township board for a moratorium to allow time to develop ordinance language and to allow courts to rule on areas of the new law.

Combined meeting closed at 9:15 p.m.  Planning commission will hold an additional meeting on March 9th to review topics discussed tonight.
Robinson left to attend fire department meeting/training.

Approval of Minutes:     February 16, 2011 approved, Motion: Gurr  2nd: Dewald carried (4,0)
Conflict of Interest:    None
Communications:  Wind Energy session on March 22, 7:00p.m. at the County Commissioner’s meeting room.
New Business:
ZA Written Report
Feb 2011–     0 Land Use Permits,  _10  Field Checks,  3  Attorney Contact,    18  Other Contacts.  _0_ Zoning Violations. Discussion of dilapidated trailer by tennis courts.  Molby trying to contact owner to get it resolved.  Will ticket if not addressed.
Old Business:
Public Comment:      None

Adjourn: 9:30 pm  Motion Gurr, 2nd Swan. Carried (4,0)

Respectfully Submitted,

Bonnie Robbins
Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary