Planning Commission Minutes May 11, 2021

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Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission

May 11, 2021

Meeting called to order by Gurr at 7:05 P.M.

Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:

            Present:          Jim Gurr                    Laura Westerman          

                                    Joe Bassil                   Bonnie Robbins                       

                                    Sue Moglovkin         Mike Robinson

                                   Gordy Schafer

            Absent:             None                           

Township officials present: Bob Logee, Butch Peeples (8:58 PM)

Approval of Agenda:   Motion: Schafer, 2nd Robbins. Carried

Statement of Conflict of Interest:          None

Public Comment:         15 in attendance.

Meeting closed for public hearing. 7:05 PM

                                    -Joel Stults, applicant, 7186 Alden Hwy, Bellaire, MI, presented a home occupation plan for a taco tent. He and Michael Aguirre have operated this business at public and private events for several years without any violations. They are working with the local health department and are able to meet their regulations. This method of service offers continual sanitation and is the preferred method for this type of food service. They will have a holding tank and it will be pumped as specified by the requirements of the health department. The tent will be located on the west side of their property to allow the entire parking area to be used when they are serving. They currently operate a hair salon and will continue to offer that in the morning on Friday, Saturday but they will schedule appointments so all cars will be gone before the tent begins service on those days. They have reviewed the county’s parking space requirement and have parking space for 13 cars. The business is on a hill with clear site for ingress/egress. They have not had a problem with traffic slowing to turn or exiting from the salon in their xx years of operation.

                                    -Barry Snyder, 11659 SE Torch Lake Drive. Questioned why the business owners hadn’t considered a downtown site for their operation, He is concerned on the speed and traffic along the highway. Believes it is a safety issue if people park along roadway. He doesn’t like banners in a neighborhood setting. Is it a home occupation or a commercial restaurant?

                                    -Kimberly Moran, Traverse City. She stated the business is not on a curve, it is on a hill. She has overheard comments between members of the audience and is concerned their biased opinions will affect the decision of the commission. Joel and Michael have years of success. She is in support of their application

                                    -Gurr explained that the decision would be based on language in the ordinance not opinions of the public. Commission members stated they had not heard the comments. Gurr asked audience to refrain from discussion among themselves so the meeting can proceed. Setting of meeting due to Covid restrictions creates a difficulty for members to hear the person recognized by the chair when there is addition noise echoing from these side conversations.

                                    -Tom Brown, 890 N. Buhland Rd. Central Lake. He has worked with Joel at Harbor Fest. Well run. If they have a question they contact the health department. There is clear view at this location. They have been to fairs and events with cars along the road and it is accepted as normal for this type of event. It would be nice to have a choice, lots of pizza and burgers now.

                                    -Pepper Bromelmeier, 890 N. Buhland Rd. Central Lake. Customer of salon. Traffic has never been a problem. In support.

                                    -Mike Crawford, . Adjacent property owner. He has always felt the township should allow food trucks. Traffic is a safety concern if customers park along roadway. Concerned with people using his parking.

                                    -Joel Stults, see above. They have had traffic at salon but it hasn’t been a problem. There are other businesses nearby that require cars to slow down and there hasn’t been a problem.

                                    -Michael Aguirre, applicant, 7186 Alden Hwy, Bellaire, MI. We have had parties and dinners where we have had several cars and have asked those attending to move their cars and not park next door or along the roadway. No conflict with salon hours.

                                    -Todd Armstrong, 11693 SE Torch Lake Dr., Zoned AG but they can open a commercial business? Can anybody set up in their yard and sell stuff? He has a business in Rapid City. Can he just move it to his yard? Can anybody just do what they want?

                                    -Gurr explained most home businesses in Helena Township are operated from residential zoned properties.

                                    Sue Gates, Rapid City. Feels government should support growth of business. She doesn’t understand why there are all these steps and rules. She is a customer of the salon and there is no problem with traffic.

                                    -Myra Andrews, 9031 McPherson. Not on a curve. She is a neighbor and is in support of the business.

                                    Six (6) mailings, 1 letter returned. Attached.

                                    Closed public comment period at 7:52 PM.

                                    -Westerman wonders if this is business falls within home occupation definition. Not specifically listed.

                                    Discussion of last bullet allows planning commission to determine like uses. Opening sentence states the list is not inclusive.

                                    -Bassil likes to see business expand. His concern is with traffic overflow. His experience with MDOT tells him it is not a moot issue. No one knows if the parking is adequate or not for this business.

                                    -Michael Aguirre addressed how they have handled overflow in the past.

                                    -Bassil stated they cannot chase people off the road right of way.

                                    -Schafer stated he owned Dockside for 29 years. He agrees with Bassil and parking on roadway is a problem.

                                    -Moglovkin understands intent and the role of the planning commission. No need for further discussion.

                                    -Westerman questioned if this should be considered under vendor.

                                    -Gurr shared the history and his understanding of what that section of the ordinance addressed.

                                    -Logee explained difference of a home occupation and vendor.

                                    -Robinson questioned if this falls under the uses by right in AG and requirement for road side stands to offer items grown on the premises and if that applies since this is zoned AG.

                                    -Gurr state the applicant wouldn’t be here if they were offering items as a road side stand because that is a use by right in that district.

                                    -Bassil stated he is concerned that we had asked for input from the two entities that would have jurisdiction did not respond. He finds this very disturbing. His main concern is not the business itself but what is the next step if a problem occurs.

                                    Based on a finding of fact from sections 5.03.01.B and 6.03.01 motion to approve sending this application to the township board of trustees with support for approval was made by Moglovkin and supported by Bassil. Vote 5 yes, 2 no. Motion carried. Robbins will present to township board May 13, 7PM at their regular meeting.

Closed 8:37 PM

Regular meeting was reopened at 8:38

Meeting closed again at 8:39 for public hearing on food truck at 11730 SE Torch Lake Dr.

                                    -Logee discussed application.

                                    -Shane Crawford, applicant, discussed his proposed food truck operation. He will be open from 11am to 2pm Tuesday thru Friday. His operation is self-contained and he will be attending other events throughout June and July on Saturdays and Sundays. He had a business for 25 years and had to close. The food truck is his plan to make a living. He is fully licensed and insured.

                                    One letter was returned stating support but concerned the zoning is residential and not in commercial.            

                                    -Joel Stults, 7186 Alden Hwy, Bellaire, MI is in support of the business.

                                    -Michael Aguirre, 7186 Alden Hwy, Bellaire, MI is in support of the business. There is no parking in downtown either and Alden has lost its charm. Buildings are empty and require a huge investment for anyone wanting to open a business downtown.

                                    -Mike Crawford, is in support of the business. There is a limited choice of places to eat and this will make it easier for those working in the area to find a place for lunch.

                                    Public comment closed at 8:50 PM

                                    -Schafer asked about parking and signs.

Applicant shared photo and explained parking area.

-Logee discussed sign language for home occupations. Applicants will need to review those regulations and apply.

-Moglovkin questioned if this is allowed in a residential zone.

-Robbins explained a home occupation is not limited to any specific zone.

-Westerman prefers we work on specific language for these types of operations.

-Bassil has the same concerns on traffic.

-Gurr stated these uses will be coming more and more.

Based on a finding of fact from sections 5.03.01.B and 6.03.01 motion to approve sending this application to the township board of trustees with support for approval was made by Robinson and supported by Moglovkin. Vote 4 yes, 2 no. Motion carried. NOTE: Schafer left at 9:05 and was not present at the vote. Robbins will present to township board May 13, 7PM at their regular meeting.

Public hearing closed 9:19 PM

Regular meeting reopened 9:20 PM       


New Business:             April 2021:        LU 4, FC 6, AC 1, PC 8, ZV 0


Approval of Minutes: As submitted. Motion: Moglovkin, 2nd Bassil. Carried

Communications:         None

Old Business:              Tabled.

                                    Add Home Occupation to list of items to review.

Public Comment:         None

Adjourn: 9:22 P.M. Motion Bassil, 2nd  Robbins. Carried

Respectfully Submitted,

Bonnie Robbins


Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary