Planning Commission Minutes December 7, 2023

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Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission    December 7, 2023
Meeting called to order by Robinson at 5.04 P.M. .
Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.
Roll Call:
Present: Mike Robinson, Joe Bassil, Gary Lockwood, Gordy Schafer, Bonnie Robbins, Jim Gurr
Absent: Sue Moglovkin
Township officials present: Bob Logee
Approval of Agenda: Motion by Gurr, 2nd by Lockwood Motion carried.
Statement of Conflict of Interest: None
Approval of Minutes: November 2nd. One spelling correction. Motion: Gurr, 2nd Robbins. Carried

Public Comment: 7 in attendance.
Question on how draft of Master Plan that was on the website was produced, where did the              info come from.  Robbins stated it was created from the notes taken during the previous              meetings.  Changes the commission had discussed were incorporated into the document.
Discussion of whether suggestions from the public were included. Robbins stated the draft          would be discussed at this meeting with the hope that a final draft could be approved and a        public hearing scheduled for the January meeting. The suggestions would be discussed                while going through the document tonight.

Communications: Gurr suggested members follow the posting on There have been        several articles about the winery and other venues in Agricultural Zones and concerns being        faced by townships that have these uses. Townships are facing high legal costs from                      lawsuits from those in favor and those who are affected by the traffic and noise the venues          create.

New Business: Zoning Administrator Report – LU (Land Use Permit) FC (Field Check)
AC (Attorney Contact) PC (Public Contact) ZV (Zoning Violation)
Nov 2023: LU 3, FC 1, AC 0, PC 10, ZV 0

Old Business:
Note: Public participation was helpful in updating to make sure previously discussed materials
are included in this draft.
Changes made to the master plan draft presented at December 7th meeting:
Pg 1    Introduction–Add 2023 to review dates on page 1.
Pg 2    Discussion of language pertaining to individual property rights statement in 1st                                        paragraph of Goals/Vision Statement/Introduction. Does it need to be expanded.                           Consensus that wording is sufficient to protect individual rights.
Background–Strike and ‘resorters’ from 2nd paragraph.  Strike ‘leisure oriented’ from                            last  sentence in 2nd paragraph.
All grammar corrections approved.
Pg 3  Grammar/spelling corrections approved.  No additional changes.
Pg 4  Economic Development—add including short-term rentals to 1st sentence in 1st                                         paragraph.
2nd paragraph: Change DDA statement to The township, working with the Downtown                          Area Business Association (DABA), should develop… remainder of paragraph is not
Road Repair—1st sentence will read: A ten-year 2.0 mil property tax was approved in
                    November of 2023.
Roads & Pedestrian Safety – Strike Pedestrian Safety from header and 1st sentence.
Alternative Energy Systems – Add including commercial solar and wind systems after
…recognizes the need to accommodate alternative energy systems.
Preserving Alden’s Quaint Village Charm—Discussion on development problems
incurred when an area or building is designated a historical district. Pursuing this
designation would make growth in the Village more difficult and very restrictive.
Section will be re-worded as follows: The township will continue to work to
                           preserve the quaint village charm of Alden.
Parks & Recreation—Add as last sentence in this paragraph: The committee shall
                    develop and refresh a 5-year plan for recreational use of township parks and
                    accesses to gain access to grant opportunities offered by the Department of
                    Natural Resources.
Grammar/spelling corrections approved.
Pg 5   Zoning Ordinance—Bullet 2 changed to School Sites. Grammar/spelling corrections
Pg 6   Goals and Objectives– Grammar/spelling corrections approved.   No changes.
Pg 7   Maintain Commercial Viability—Change DDA reference to DABA.
Clam River—1st sentence—change ‘be reduced’ to is.
Grammar/spelling corrections approved.
Pg 8   Mancelona Schools & School Sites—Strike Mancelona from heading
Helena Township Lands—Robbins will research updates on percentages
Grammar/spelling corrections approved.
Pg 9   Active Farmlands—bullet II—change ‘will’ to may
Add bullet IV—Future uses of agriculture property may occur.
Wetlands—bullet IV—Replace ‘The rivers’ with Bodies of water.
Steep Slopes—bullet IV—strike ‘sandy’
Grammar/spelling corrections approved.
Pg 10 Public-Owned Lands—1st paragraph—strike Mancelona Schools
Strike 2nd paragraph-beginning ‘There may be opportunity…’
Pg 11  Mobile Home Language—refer this section to legal counsel for review and update if
needed based on any court rulings.
Short-term Rental in R-1 Zone—3rd sentence—replace ‘if there is an’ with given the
Grammar/spelling corrections approved.
Pg 12  Economics/Development—2nd paragraph—1st sentence—add and agriculture to list of
economic base sentence.
Roads, Access Management and Road Designations—bullet I—strike the word ‘for’,
replace ‘smooth’ with adequate.
Grammar/spelling corrections approved.

Motion by Lockwood, supported by Bassil to approve these changes and corrections to the
master plan. Carried with all members voting yes.

Robbins will forward the draft to legal counsel for review and post the Public Hearing for regular meeting on January 4, 2024. Meeting time will remain at 5 PM. Robbins will ask legal counsel to assist with setting up a ZOOM link so the meeting can be available to those who leave the area for the winter. Draft of plan and meeting info will be posted in the Review and on the website. Hard copy draft will be available in the Library and township office.

Public Comment: Discussion of funneling among PC members and audience. What is the definition of funneling.  Would using a friend’s dock for your boat be considered funneling. Discussion that some  lakefront property owners already rent their dock as a boat slip for back lot boat owners.  Agreement that a funneling definition should be considered in zoning ordinance.

Adjourn: 7:21 PM Motion: Lockwood, 2nd Gurr. Carried
Respectfully Submitted,
Bonnie Robbins
Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary