Planning Commission Minutes March 7, 2024

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Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission
March 8, 2024
Meeting called to order by Moglovkin at 5.00 P.M.
Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:
Present: Sue Moglovkin, Joe Bassil, Bonnie Robbins,  Jim Gurr, Gordy Schafer, Gary Lockwood, Mike Robinson

Township officials present: Bob Logee, Butch Peeples

Absent: None

Approval of Agenda: Motion (with amendment) by Robbins, 2nd Gurr. Add April Administrative Meeting discussion under New Business Motion carried (7,0)

Statement of Conflict of Interest: None

Approval of Minutes: February 01, 2024 . As presented. Motion by Schafer, 2nd by Bassil. Motion carried (7,0)

Public Comment: In attendance: 22. Note: STR—Short-term rental
1. Thank you was offered to the planning commission for their work on the master plan and
moving that forward to the board for approval . Exception would be the short-term rental
portion but he will continue to attend and gather facts to share with the planning commission.
2. Rents to family members and has return renters. Believes the key to STR issues is
communication with the owner and guidelines for the renter.
3. STR issues are a different story when it is right next door. It is a problem.
4. Live in an area zoned residential. Commercial use is not allowed. If it is a business it should
not be in residential.
5. Resident for 12 years. STR are a value to the community. Issues are in minority of rentals.
Not in favor of more regulation.
6. Business owners need rental for their business. They bring value to the community.
7. Business owner highly dependent on tourism. Businesses have a short season to earn.
There is a need for more rooms and places for people to stay. A lot of renters are looking for
homes. They bring their families thru generations. Some have had to sell because they can’t
afford the taxes. Family here for 80 years. Has 7 rentals and 0 problems. Talks with
neighbors to address any concerns. Why fix what’s not broken.
8. Renters contribute millions to the economic base of our communities. Doesn’t feel the few
complainers reflect the majority.
9. Lives here permanently because they were able to rent here first. Doesn’t rent but has
friends who bring their children. Complaints have been handled by staying in contact with
the neighbors.
10. Children own in Helena Township. This was part of their plan. They plan to retire here but
have to rent to be able to afford the property taxes and costs.
11. Lived here 40 years. Wife’s family has been here for 100 years. He respects those renting
their property. He does maintenance on these properties and has not seen an issue with
12. Supports rental. Should be relief if there are issues. Can see the challenge if businesses
come in and start using as commercial rental.
13. Has 4 homes. Here since late 70’s. Has not had a problem.
14. Business owner. Has been following the minutes from previous meetings. A small handful
are complaining. Some rented their own properties in the past. Why should it change now?
People have been renting for 100+ years. There are no hotels or places for people to stay.
Alden cannot afford to lose the business. The community needs tourism.
15. Board, in the past, has never allowed the minority to drive decisions. Board has also been
complacent to enforcement of the zoning ordinance. If you add anything he would like to see
how it will be enforced.
16. Not in favor of any regulation.
17. Understand it makes sense for the economy. Those with concerns are not just a small
group. With the rate that real estate is moving investors are buying and not leaving homes
for those who want to live here permanently. Houses being rented are generating more
than just the taxes. Does not want to ban. Question how STR will be policed. Start with
what is in the ordinance. Enforce the 7 days. A lot are being rented less than 7 days.
18. Lives in the township and has a business that needs the tourism that STR brings.
19. Moved here 3 years ago and didn’t expect to live next to a hotel.
20. Working to identify the number of STR. Some would be surprised to see the amount of STR
on Clam Lake. Will make copies of his list of Pros and Cons of STR and submit to the
planning commission.
21. In real estate. Their office manages some of the rentals in Helena Township. Very few
problems and they are addressed quickly. Renters often start looking for property to
purchase. STR are a big part of the economy and are needed.

Communications: Schafer read 7 letters from community members who voiced concern on regulation that would ban short-term rentals. These letters noted the economic impact and value to the community and businesses with limited opportunity to thrive. All letters were in favor of continued allowance for short-term rentals in Helena Township and urged the planning commission to not take action that would ban this use. Reference to the need for property owners to gain income from their rentals to pay the taxes was noted in this correspondence.

New Business: Zoning Administrator Report – LU (Land Use Permit) FC (Field Check)
AC (Attorney Contact) PC (Public Contact) ZV (Zoning Violation)
February 2024: LU 1, FC 1, AC 1, PC 9, ZV 0

Administration:  Robbins reminded the members the April meeting would be the annual meeting to select chair, vice chair, and secretary for the next year. Robbins will not accept nomination for secretary in the next year. Duties were discussed along with the role of recording secretary. Robbins will create templates and support materials for whoever is selected as secretary and recording secretary.

Old Business: Robbins presented a resolution for the recommendation to recommend adoption of the revised Master Plan to the Helena Township Board of Trustees. Motion by Gurr. Support by Schafer.  Roll call vote with all voting Aye.  Robbins will present to board at next Thursday’s meeting.

Discussion of Alternative Energy language created by committee of Gurr, Moglovkin, and Bassil.
Gurr explained the process used. The wind energy section of the ordinance was used as a base
and expanded to include solar and battery storage language. Robbins discussed the Legislative
section of proposed language and recommends re-wording to restrict it to simply stating the
Public Act numbers that give the township the right to develop use language. The commission
agreed (not voted on). Robinson discussed articles he has read concerning issues of property
contamination from solar farms. Gurr explained that was considered for all forms of alternative
energy in this language. The process is established to assure funds will be available to address
those concerns. Gurr was concerned about the battery storage linked with these forms of
alternative energy and is confident the committee has covered all those concerns. Motion by
Robbins to send this to the legal counsel for review. Support by Schafer. Motion carried (7,0)

Public Comment:

1. Question from the audience about the May deadline mentioned at a previous meeting. Gurr explained he had misunderstood and we will be able to get this language in place even if it comes after May.

2. Was it a conflict of interest for Schafer to read the letters? Gurr offered that the conflict would
come if we write language and vote on it. Schafer stated he would not vote if there was language being offered for the ordinance.
3. Gurr explained why the 7 day period was in the ordinance. He suggests sending a letter to all
landlords stating the 7 day minimum. Look at those listed on rental sites as a starting point.
4. Lockwood said Bellaire businesses have asked for assistance and may get some from the
state of Michigan. Maybe there is some assistance for Alden. Suggests looking into it.
5. Peeples worked in the oilfield for many years and the abandoned wells were covered under an orphan well fund. He foresees this happening in 20 years with the solar and wind farms.
6. Gurr commented on the ordinance language again and the steps in the language that will
address the changing of ownership so there is a responsible party held liable.
Discussion with public about keeping taxpayers out of the clean up costs for these utility size
alternative energy developments.

Adjourn: 6:42 PM Motion: Lockwood, 2nd Schafer. Carried
Respectfully Submitted,
Bonnie Robbins
Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary