Planning Commission Minutes October 5, 2023

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Minutes of Helena Township Planning Commission
October 5, 2023
Meeting called to order by Gurr at 5.08 P.M. Chair and Vice Chair will be late due to appointment and work.
Opened with Pledge of Allegiance.
Roll Call:
Present: Jim Gurr Joe Bassil
Gary Lockwood Mike Robinson (5:26)
Bonnie Robbins
Absent: Sue Moglovkin Gordy Schafer
Township officials present: Bob Logee
Approval of Agenda: Motion by Lockwood, 2nd by Bassil. Carried
Statement of Conflict of Interest: None
Approval of Minutes: September 7, 2023. As submitted. Motion: Lockwood, 2nd Robbins. Carried
-Public Comment: 2 in attendance. Paul Sak suggested a meeting time change so commission members could attend easier. His concern is the change in the shoreline language that was passed at the August meeting. He shared experiences with the work of permitting agencies and knows the township ordinance played a key role in some of those decisions. The goal and desire of a high percentage of residents is to protect the natural resources and that includes the shoreline. He questions if this will allow boathouses and clear cutting. When the local ordinances are taken out of the picture it lessens the power of EGLE and Soil Erosion to turn permits down that may cause long-term damage. Paul researched Antrim County townships and shared that many have shoreline language that protects and maintains a buffer zone of vegetation. Helena Township might want to check those ordinances and see how they are handling shoreline protection.  Paul also requested we find a better way to keep public informed about changes to the ordinance  and meetings for public involvement. Other townships post the changes so people can find them  easily but that didn’t seem to be the case for Helena Township. Discussion between members and Paul about his concerns.
-Communications: Gurr shared that the Michigan Association of Planning was holding their annual meeting at the resort this week. He encourages members to take advantage of the training being offered.
-New Business: Zoning Administrator Report – LU (Land Use Permit) FC (Field Check)
AC (Attorney Contact) PC (Public Contact) ZV (Zoning Violation)
Sept 2023: LU 2, FC 4, AC 0, PC 4, ZV 0
Discussion of email received from Keri Kent with EGLE concerning the expansion at Cedar
Shores Condo Association. Bob’s response was shared with members and is as follows:
Ms. Kent; The Helena Township zoning ordinance has no language addressing the number of
boats or docks or hoists allowed per lot. (An older version of some years back did have a clause
on this matter, but was deleted).
This site / use is a non-conforming use established prior to Zoning, so may be continued.
(Certainly, if this was set up to be a Commercial use in the R-1 zone; this would not be allowed)
Bob Logee, zoning administrator – Helena Twp (231-331-7303)
-Old Business:
Master Plan update: Tabled until October 19th. Robinson shared that he has talked with people
who didn’t receive the survey. Robbins reported that the voter role and tax role was used to
create the mailing list and said their voices could still be heard by attending the meetings coming
up that will address the updates. Members discussed the changes coming to our township with it
being advertised as a vacation destination all over the country and with more people moving
north permanently. Members will review and come prepared to address updates based on the
survey results at a special meeting to be held on October19th. Time will be posted as 5:30 PM
for this special meeting. Motion by Lockwood to hold a special meeting, supported by Robbins.
Carried Robbins will post a schedule of upcoming meeting times and dates in the Review and
on the website.
-Public Comment: Gary Mayes discussed his concerns on short term rentals (STR) and verified that the township received the information he shared thru email. He shared that some townships do not allow STR at all. The problem continues to grow and the township needs to consider zoning ordinance language to address this business. Robbins stated that his research would be distributed to members and the commission will continue to work on this issue.
-Adjourn: 6:45 PM Motion: Gurr, 2nd Robbins. Carried
Respectfully Submitted,
Bonnie Robbins
Helena Township Planning Commission Recording Secretary