Planning Commission Minutes – October 1, 2014

Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission

October 1, 2014


Meeting called to order by Gurr (7:02pm)

Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:                      Present:            Jim Gurr                  Bob Johnson

Rodger Dewey        Bonnie Robbins

Ken Renaud

Absent:             Mike Robinson        Chris Dewald



Township officials present:                    Guy Molby


Approval of Agenda:  Two additions:  Fine Language discussion and Master Plan discussion added to Old Business Motion: Robbins, 2nd Johnson.  Carried

Statement of Conflict of Interest:          None

Approval of Minutes:  As submitted.  Motion: Renauld, 2nd Johnson.  Carried

Public Comment:         (3 in attendance)  Resident submitted suggestions to consider during master plan and zoning                                          language review.  Thanked commission for sending out plan and requesting input from the                                              community.

Resident spoke to the impact on surrounding properties when a violation occurs and believes                                          fines for violations would have more impact than just filing an affidavit of violation at the county                                     level. Suggestions for master plan review include concern about funneling or keyhole for non-                                         shoreline properties, wetlands inventory, updating status and prioritizing projects and activities                                        stated in the current plan, septic inspection on transfer of ownership, and language addressing                                        construction in the buffer zone on shoreline properties.

Molby suggested getting Soil and Erosion officer Heidi Schafer to attend the meeting.  Molby                                         speaks with her regularly and will ask.

Communications:         Email comments concerning master plan were discussed with old business of master plan review.

Old Business:   Master Plan Review:

Robbins shared two email responses to the request for input sent to residents who have                                                             submitted their email at earlier meetings.  The email was sent to engage residents in the process                                                of reviewing the master plan.

Maps were addressed in one email and on review it was discovered the maps had not been                                             included.  The township has black and white versions of the maps but they are difficult to read.                                      Updating the nine maps would cost about $500 from the NW Council of Government.  Robbins                                        feels the commission needs to review what maps are needed and update only those maps.  The                                     township has color copies of all maps included with the original master plan.  A future land use                                       map is required in the master plan.  Robbins will attach current map file to current master plan                                          online.

Another email addressed pedestrian crosswalks and two township parks.  The crosswalks were discussed at the original master plan review and it was recommended we not add lines to the crosswalks by the planner and legal counsel during that review.  Designating crosswalks would cost parking spots downtown to assure clear vision and could result in the township being held partially responsible if an accident occurred while someone was crossing at the crosswalk.  Defining a crosswalk indicates the township designates this as a safe place to cross.  Resident also suggested removing the volleyball court from the Depot Park and also make better use of the Ball Diamond Park by eliminating the ball field and developing it into a more family friendly park.  Dewey suggested the Ball Diamond Park deed should be investigated thoroughly to see if language does exist restricting its use.

Discussion on master plan will continue at the November meeting. Commission members will review the document and take these suggestions into consideration, along with the suggestions discussed during public comment and include language, if needed, to allow for addressing these concerns in the review of the zoning ordinance.

Fine Language:

Robbins asked that language be discussed further as the July minutes indicate Molby was the                                         person requesting the language and if he feels he needs more enforcement language to support                                     him when he has a zoning violation the commission needs to work with him on that language.

Discussion of the desired results and best practice to achieve this result.  No final decision                                             reached  concerning adding the language to the ordinance.


New Business:

ZA report

Sept 2014:  Land Use  3 , Field Checks 9 , Attorney Contacts 0 , Public Contacts 22 ,  Zoning Violations 0


Public Comment:  Dewey asked if public safety should be addressed in the master plan or zoning ordinance.  Concern of potential problem with abandoned businesses that could present a safety concern.  Is the township responsible to secure these properties?  Gurr will ask at the county planning commission.



Adjourn: Motion Johnson, 2nd Dewey. Carried


Respectfully Submitted,

Bonnie Robbins

Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary