Planning Commission Minutes May 9, 2024

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Minutes: Re-scheduled May 09,2024 Helena Township Planning Commission meeting and Public Hearing for proposed amendment (Renewable Energy Systems) to the Zoning Ordinance

Before meeting started, member Gurr related to those present that some considerations concerning the progress of the meeting required attention and would be explained once meeting proceeded. The usual May meeting had to be re-scheduled because of the decision to offer ZOOM availability. ZOOM services were not available for the 06-02-2024 regularly scheduled meeting. Also, PC Chairperson Maglovkin (Guy) is ill this evening and Vice-chair Mike Robinson will chair meeting.

Call to order:  Vice-chair Mike Robinson called meeting to order at 5:02.

Pledge of Allegiance:

Roll Call: Sue Moglovkin (Guy) not in attendance–all others present.

Approval of Agenda:

  1. Zoom presenter had notified Commission that although en-route, she was delayed in traffic and would arrive late. Motion to amend Agenda was made by member Robbins, that the agenda be amended to pursue regular meeting until such point that ZOOM services are available. At such point, the regular meeting will be suspended and the Planning Commission will open the Public Hearing of the proposed Renewable Energy amendment. When Public Hearing and related activities are completed the regular meeting will be re-opened and run to conclusion. Motion seconded by member Gurr, question approved unanimously.


  1. Member Robbins explained need to add to the agenda a motion to amend Planning Commission by-laws respecting date of annual PC Administrative meeting and member term expiration dates. Annual administrative meeting will be held in month of May and term expiration dates will always be extended until after the May meeting. Motion to amend made by member Robbins, seconded by member Shaffer. Motion succeeded, recommendation will be made to Township Board for their approval.

Conflict of Interest: None

Approval of April PC Meeting Minutes   Minutes approved

Public Comment: None

Communications:  Members Gurr and Shaffer reported respecting their attendance at the MSU Extension Summit on “Saving the Farm” held in TC May 08.  Emphasis was on “Value Added” agricultural activities. Event covered history of value added activities—Farm Markets, Right to Work provisions, statutorily provided Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) and the impact on planning and zoning applications.

Zoning Administrator’s report: report submitted. Reference was made to new ownership of the “old mill” and possible future new commercial use.

Old Business: None

Public comment: 1. Member of public asked whether value-added agriculture is likely to impact township. Owners of several ag-zoned properties have expressed interest along those lines. 2. Member of public related personal experience with short term-rentals in Torch Lake Township. 3. Member of public expressed support for short term rentals in Helena Township, stating renters are not the only sources of disturbances in residential zones citing noisy animals.

ZOOM provider arrived with apparatus. Upon completed installation, interim chairman Robinson closed regular meeting at 5:23.

PUBLIC HEARING for PROPOSED AMENDMENT to Helena Township Zoning Ordinance respecting Section 5.09– RENEWABLE ENERGY began at 5:24.

Attorney Chris Bzdok, representing Helena Township, opened with brief description of intent and purpose of proposed amendment against the backdrop of recent statutory provisions from State of Michigan regarding mandated Energy Goals. Attorney Bzdok offered to guide the Public Hearing through an examination of the entire amendment. Acting Chairman Robinson agreed.

Attorney Bzdok guided the PC and members of the public attending through the proposed language. Members expressed agreement with the draft and legal counsel recommendations to it throughout the course of the presentation. Questions remain as to what depth abandoned infrastructure features such as concrete footings would need to be removed after abandonment. Attorney Bzdok will make inquiries and report findings during the public notification process.

Public Input: Resident Paul Saks– Crystal Springs Road—noted concern over language in the Accessory Use provisions for renewables, noting the Zoning Ordinance had been recently amended removing accessory building size limitations formerly conditional to primary building dimensions. He expressed concern that absent controlling language individual renewable systems on residences and those in site-based applications in all zones might become problematic with respect to size.

Public Hearing ended at 6:27

Member Gurr made motion to send draft Zoning Ordinance to adjacent municipalities and Antrim County Planning Commission for examination and advice—seconded by Member Shaffer. Motion approved unanimously.

Adjourn: Motion made by member Robbins, seconded by Shaffer. May 9, 2024 meeting adjourned at 6:32

Respectfully submitted Jim Gurr

 Helena Township Planning Commission Secretary