Planning Commission Minutes June 4, 2020

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Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission

June 4, 2020

Meeting called to order by Gurr at 3:01 P.M.

Meeting held outside of Community Center

Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:

Present:            Jim Gurr                        Laura Westerman

Joe Bassil                    Gordy Schafer

Bonnie Robbins

Absent:             Mike Robinson  (Scheduling conflict with new work hours)

Township officials present: Bob Logee

Approval of Agenda:   Add Public Hearing and Meeting Time Discussion under New Business. Motion: Robbins, 2nd Schafer. Carried

Statement of Conflict of Interest:          None

Approval of Minutes: February 6, 2020. Motion: Schafer, 2nd Robbins. Carried.

Public Comment:         None (0)

Communications:         None

New Business:             Logee presented a report showing all permits since January 2020.

                                    March: LU 1, FC 1, AC 1, PC 3, ZV 0

April: LU 2, FC 3, AC 1, PC 3, ZV 0

May: LU 5, FC 7, AC 1, PC 6, ZV 0

Meeting closed for Public Hearing at 3:08 PM

Gurr: Hearing is to address a Land Use Permit application for construction of an accessory structure in  the Environmental Zone along SE Torch Lake Drive.

Josh Loeb shared he would like to build a storage/workshop to use for his business of custom interior finishing. He will use solar as his primary source of energy and wants to keep the building eco-friendly. He lives close enough there will be no need for a well or septic.

Logee mailed 17 notices. 2 were returned and 4 property owners present.

Gurr read letters of support from Jason Holman (9780 Pere Marquette St) and Julie Coulter (9714 Cedar St)

Earl & Darlene Paige (9547 SE Torch Lake Dr) are concerned about it becoming another eyesore. The one directly across from them has junk and a brush pile they have to look at every day. Darlene asked why he cut trees before he got the permit.

Doug & Bonnie Dean (9565 Alden Hwy) stated they were not aware it was to be a business. They discussed the other garage in the Environmental Zone (EZ) and the eyesore of collected items stored outside the building. The Paiges have to look at that eyesore in the EZ. EZ should be preserved for the wildlife. Is this commercial?

Logee shared that there is no commercial use allowed in the R1 (single family residential) District. Home                                       Occupation is allowed.

  1. Dean asked it the board intended to enforce clean up of the other site and if this one becomes an eyesore.

Discussion among members to speak with other property owner about the outside storage. Loeb stated he doesn’t want to have a negative impact and apologized for clearing but he did wait for approval from the county agency before proceeding. He does not want an eyesore either and has made the effort to create something that will blend into the setting. He will place a fence across the front after construction is completed, probably a year from now.

Discussion of what type of fence would be installed. D. Dean offered white pine to create the privacy fence. Loeb will work with him when the construction is completed.

Schafer asked about lighting. Would there be lights left on all night?

Loeb stated he plans to use solar and passive lighting and does not intend to install a light that will encroach on neighboring properties or affect the night sky darkness.

Discussion of lighting with members and Loeb to keep the night lighting at a minimum.

Harvesting of timber was discussed further. It was approved by ZA and only what was allowed prior to the scheduled meeting was done. Gurr stated property owners do have the right to cut trees.

Schafer asked if there were wetlands along that section.

Question was raised about another location on family property closer to existing garage.

Loeb discussed placement with the county representative and other areas would impact the small creek that runs through the property.

Gurr shared that the commission has always deferred to the county officer for their expertise in these matters.

  1. Dean is concerned there will be more structures allowed and if this becomes a commercial business it would have a major impact on the wildlife that uses that area that was preserved for them.

Gurr discussed the difference between a home business and commercial enterprise. This would require another level of permitting if it were to be used as a commercial business with clients or customers coming to the site.

He also shared the commission’s action to rezone SE Torch Lake Drive to minimize pole barn type structures along this roadway.

Discussion with members and public concerning difference between a workshop and going commercial.

Loeb stated he just wants to be able to set up his power tools and have a place to relocate out of the family garage he currently uses. He is planning for growth of his home business and needs a better work space.

Loeb stated again he worked closely with the county agency to place the building where it would not impact any wetlands and is committed to protecting the environment. He also shared his family’s passion to keep and protect this property for future generations.

Public Hearing closed at 4:26 P.M.

Gurr asked if members had any further questions. Section 6.03.01 was completed for finding of facts to                                                 determine approval or denial.

Section 6.03.01 (A)-Yes (B)- Yes (C)- Yes (D)- Yes (E)- Yes (F)- Not Applicable (G)- Yes (H)- Yes (I)- Yes

Motion by Robbins: Based on the findings of fact we recommend the Board of Trustees approve the Special Use Permit for Josh Loeb with conditions to provide screening and no excessive exterior lighting.

Support by Shafer:

Roll call vote: Bassil-Yes; Shafer-Yes; Robbins-Yes; Gurr-Yes; Westerman-Yes. Motion carried.

Robbins will present this to the Board of Trustees at their regular meeting to be held June 11th at 7:00 P.M. Loeb was reminded he will need to wait for that approval before proceeding with his build.

Old Business:  Tabled

Public Comment: No further comments.

Adjourn: Motion Robbins, 2nd  Schafer. Carried

Respectfully Submitted,

Bonnie Robbins


Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary