Charlevoix County Planning Commission highlights

planning commission webBeth Gohs

Staff Writer

The focus of the Thursday July 10 Charlevoix County Planning Commission meeting was the finalization of the county’s Land Use Master Plan Update.
Charlevoix County Planning Coordinator Kiersten Stark presented the updated master plan to fellow commissioners with the most recent changes.
“I took a list of items that we had come up with that need to be updated and changed and I organized them based on the major sections of our plan,” Stark said.
To incorporate feedback from planning firms, the commission agreed a survey would be most beneficial; commissioners also discussed parts of the plan that would be done in-house.
“Most of what we need assistance with is the county overview section,” Stark said. “What I was envisioning is I would be able to work with the consultant on this.”
Charlevoix County Planning Commissioner Larry Levengood made a motion to present the land use update to the county board. The motion was carried, 5-0.
The commission settled on six local firms to send the plan to—agreeing they should have a closed bid.
“At least one of the firms will be interviewed by the planning commission and that way we can really go into a little bit more detail about what we expect from them and we can ask them questions and vice-versa,” said Stark.
Commissioners reported business affairs since their last meeting; highlights of these included a webinar about zoning water wells which three commissioners attended, both Denny Jason, Chairman of the Charlevoix County Planning Commission, and Levengood, noted how little control the local government has after attending the webinar.
Charlevoix County Planning Commissioner Patrick Howard reported the building of a hotel in Walloon is in progress, commissioners asked how the parking for the hotel would pan out.
“There’s a lot of parking across the street behind the general store,” he said. “Behind the marina there are two big parking lots. Parking is probably going to become an issue when that is finished—the restaurant has already created an issue with parallel parking on M-75. We’ll see how it goes.”
Levengood discussed an Open Meetings Act convention in Traverse City, telling the commission they should be careful with what they discuss amongst one another outside the planning commission.
“My suggestion is don’t even do it. Social events are fine. The big thing is to be mindful at all times that public business should be conducted in public,” he said.
Levengood said he learned that if commissioners discussed public issues in private, with fellow commissioners, they would have a do-over. Wherein the commissioners could call for an open meeting and recreate the discussion that was deemed illegal to hold outside of the public eye.
Levengood also told the commission about the Northern Michigan Pipeline Symposium he attended which discussed the pipeline that transmits fuels through the Mackinaw Straits.
“There were a number of different groups that spoke and there was a panel discussion,” he said. “There was a lot of hostility there, police had to intervene … it’s a controversial topic—obviously you have to get fuels from one point to the other, but if you have a leak on something like that it could be devastating.”
Levengood said there were no more than two people who disrupted the symposium and the police intervened, but did not ask them to leave the meeting, they were only told to follow procedure.
Denny Jason reported that the South Arm Township approved most of the changes the planning commission made to the plan South Arm gave the commission to review.
Bob Tidmore, secretary of the Charlevoix County Planning Commission, absent at the July 10 meeting, sent a note to Stark. She relayed the message of which Tidmore asked if other commissioners knew what townships collect a one percent administrative fee for collecting property tax.
A general consensus among commissioners was that most townships take one percent from property taxes. Charlevoix County Planning Commissioner Bob Draves confirmed most of that one percent goes toward roads in South Arm Township.
Stark told the commission she spent the month finishing the demographic data for Beaver Island in helping them with their master plan update.
“We also provided them with the current zoning maps for the two townships over there,” she said. “They’re reviewing maps as part of the master plan update.”
The planning commission concluded with a video about the Right to Farm Act. Commissioners held a brief discussion on what would constitute someone legally having a farm—necessitating them to follow guidelines in the right to farm act.