Banks Township Planning Commission
Regular Meeting Minutes
May 9, 2017
Call to Order: Meeting called to order by Chair Miles at 6:00 p.m.
2. Roll/ Recognition of visitors:
Present: Austin, Cooper, Miles, Parafin, Wieland
Also present: Planning consultant Claire Karner, Rec/sec Shooks, ZA Veenstra, Marion & Lauren Williams, Nick Aninos, Lee Wollgast, Tom Cooper, Heidi Cooper, Nancy Hersha, David Michael, Eugene Kasmer, Marcia Bingham, Gerald Levesque, Jarris Rubingh, Marv Rubingh, JoAnn & Rick Beemon
3. Approval of Minutes: March 14, 2017 Meeting MMS by Wieland, Cooper to approve March minutes. MC
4. Public Hearings: (Rules were addressed)
First: Greenbelt Ordinance Revision (Article IV, Section 4.11.4)
Chair Miles gave the background on the Greenbelt language, reporting that language had been approved in 2016, but that the Antrim County Planning Commission had advised changing Article IV subsection 4.11 to allow pesticide use for managing invasive species
PUBLIC COMMENT: opened at 6:05
Lee Wollgast, 13583 Timberlane Drive stated he supported the Greenbelt completely. I have 2 questions. No. 1: If you have to get a permit for any modification on your house, and you don’t have a greenbelt today, are you required to have a greenbelt. Steve Parafin: every waterfront property is required to have a green belt. Lee: a lot of place don’t have a green belt. If they get a permit to add a deck or something to your house, is the fact that you are getting a permit are you required to have a greenbelt. Who issues the permit (Andy Veenstra). I already had a greenbelt when I added a deck, but if you didn’t have one, what is the procedure. Steve: properties would be grandfathered. Lee: is a greenbelt grass all the way to the edge? Steve: no. Grass is not what we define as a greenbelt today. Andy: greenbelt means any vegetation. Don: The commission is trying to educate the public on waterfront property on the need and benefit of a greenbelt. We would strongly encourage anyone who is modifying to consider a greenbelt. No 2. The size of the greenbelt is 50 ft. That is a lot of greenbelt. I can say almost nobody has a 50 ft greenbelt. When you do something are you going to require the full 50 ft setback for greenbelt? (Affirmative). Now, I understand walkways, but a new house built has to have a 50 ft greenbelt, or it doesn’t get built? It’s a good idea, but someone is going to challenge it. People who have flat access to the lake ---that’s a lot of greenbelt
1st PUBLIC COMMENT and PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED at 6:15
Second: Special Use Permit for a Campground (Article VIII, Section 8.03.2)
Heidi Cooper: 11690 Essex Rd, Rocky Top Farms. First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for coming. We really appreciate the efforts made. We are looking to establish a small campground. We would just have a couple of sites on a nearly 70 acres parcel. It would be very low key, 10 sites on the property. I know there is some concern about piling people in to this large parcel. This is definitely NOT our intention. We will really strive to have a peaceful quiet environment. Rest assured that is what we are gearing toward. (copies of site plans distributed) If anyone has any questions I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.
Gene Kasmer: 11717 Bay View Drive. I have a neighbor who rents out his home. He brings campers on private property. Would this allow that? I don’t understand. I just can’t digest all of this. I don’t want to see campers on potential lots. Don: this is specifically for this property and this campground, so if you want to address the commission during public comment, we’d be glad to hear your comments. Heidi: this is about obtaining the special use permit. There will be 10 sites, well dispersed about the property. At this point, we want to invite primarily tenters. We don’t have the infrastructure for big rv’s and campers. We just want to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, and encourage the economy of our local communities. A lot of the folks who come here go to restaurants, they go to local businesses. So we’d really like to encourage that growth in tourism, but not in a big way. (questions) there will be no dumpsites, no wells except for what’s already there. (unidentified questioner) How far from the highway? I know where the yellow house is. Heidi: that is not part of the campground. That’s going to remain agricultural, plant flowers in addition to what’s already there, big giant sunflowers. Question: are you planning to expand it? Heidi: we want to keep it small and intimate, we plan to keep it small. Question: If you get this approved, and intend to enlarge it, does she need another permit? Commission: absolutely. Heidi: we’d have to revise and reapply. The campground would be on the other side of the ridge.
Comments read by Secretary Shooks (attached)
Tom Cooper, 11486 Essex Rd, Rocky Top Farms. I want to express what the future of that farm is. I started it, and we are going to continue it as a family. This is an opportunity for the kids to diversify. That center field and the pond, I created, with God’s help. This ridge was developed at one time as the potential for several home sites is not going to be used that way. It’s a buffer site. You can’t tell what’s in there until you drive in. The whole concept is family friendly. We want seniors, young families to feel safe and camp out there. If by doing this, the kids can make a buck, that’s the future. The privacy of the site is very important. I don’t want to stack it up next to each other. Currently there are three (3) sites out there and there’s one more potential this summer. There is total privacy. It will only be open in the summer. No one plows back there! If anyone would like to see the site, you are welcome to come out. We are proud of it. I've talked to the south and the north neighbors, and I will go see the Wilke’s. We will take care of everything.
JoAnne Beemon: What kind of turnover are you expecting?
Heidi: I’m anticipating weekends.
Tom: we put a well in a year ago, and it’s the best water on the whole farm. I witched it out. It has a year round pump, required by the county and the state.
Question: can anyone stay the whole summer?
Tom: We’re going to charge them by the night.
Gene: If you impose on your neighbor’s peace, quiet and tranquility, I’m totally against it. You’ve already got a message complaining about the noise. If it’s noisy, I’d be totally against it.
Tom: That tells us something. We’d better enforce the rules. I came from downstate, too.
2nd PUBLIC COMMENT AND PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED at 6:30 p.m.
Third: Special Use Permit for Sand and Gravel Extraction (Article VIII, Section 8.03.12)
Applicant Rubingh: To start, I have an additional map, showing the existing gravel pit on the adjoining property. As far as my application, it is a fifty (50) and a twenty (20) acre that together almost make a square. The existing gravel pit next door is following basically two (2) veins of gravel, and approaching the property lines. I expect in the next several years that they will be looking to continue it. I’m not looking to do anything big. I’m a dairy farmer, and I farm the land. There does appear to be aggregate on the property. It would be a good fit for it to just continue it from the side it’s on.
Don: Do you plan on extracting the sand and gravel yourself?
Marv: I plan to use some for existing roads on the farm. I have no plans for commercial use at this time.
Don: So the special use permit is for you, not for owners of the adjacent pit at this time?
Gene: He said “not at this time.” That’s a caveat, for this to be continued later. We know how heavy trucks tear the roads up.
Marv: I don’t know the future. Things could change. Some company could come in and want to harvest the gravel.
Gene: We’ve been through that in Norwood. I would tend to totally disagree. What you want to do on your property is your total right, but not on public roads.
Marv: as I’ve indicated, if I do make some agreement with Elmers, I guess I was of the understanding that this would allow commercial extraction at some point if the need arises.
Irene: Are you saying that when the Hersha pit runs out would be when you would begin on your property. This would not be doubling the size. They would have to finish the reclamation there, even though it is in Charlevoix County.
Marv: the trees and topsoil have been removed right to the line.
David Michael: the rules for reclamation are very vague. Is there a time frame on it? If you continue to take one stone out, you are not finished and you can continue it? I know I’m being facetious.
Don Miles: comments in favor.
JoAnne Beemon: We live in Charlevoix, We own a piece of property right across the street on St.Clair Lake and we think it is a piece of paradise. We are there because of the beauty and the quiet. But things change, and we are not opposed to Mr. Rubingh being able to use his property for his rightful harvesting of the resources. I am concerned more than anything about the peace and quiet. To me it sounds that he doesn’t have immediate plans, and I would hope that there would be a buffer between the road and where the pit is so that quiets the noise. I know what pressures are like and the truck traffic is like. I would hope that that ridge that is quite beautiful and goes up to the fields, and I think Mr. Rubingh has farmed those for years and years. I talked to Marv today, and the one piece of property that is just the rectangle, the 20 acres, Antrim County does not have that registered as Ag, and you have to have it as a use in Ag to do the Sand and Gravel. Mr. Rubingh was saying that you actively timber that. It was a beautiful woods until 2014. In that program, are you going to continue in that, or will that forest be part of the Gravel and Sand? Do you know what I mean?
Marv: The forest that we harvested the mature timber from is not part of the parcel. It is a different parcel. And that is part of the buffering that you were concerned about. That parcel would buffer it on one side, and then the twenty (20) acre parcel, if you are looking at your map, one corner touches 6 Mile Lake Road. The fifty (50) acres parcel, a very small portion is on 6 Mile Lake Rd. So there is a natural buffer, and I own that parcel between the identified parcels and the road. I kept that out on purpose because it would be a buffer that is currently tall pines, and I intend to keep it like that.
JoAnne: I think we need to make sure that Antrim County knows what the actual zoning is. I called today, and they said it was in residential vacant. You’re going to want to change that. The only other thing, I wanted to know about buffers, you can gravel right up to the line. I guess the only thing that troubles me is that when a rule does not specifically say that you cannot do it, you can do it. That concerns me. We are at the ….I’m happy that Mr. Rubingh isn’t gravelling the little corner and the tree ridge, but that comes to one end. I’m going to have to walk it. I guess we are at a point of “please be kind” and respect peace and quiet. If you want to sell us that 200 ft back it would be worth to buy for peace and quiet.
Marv: the property is essential to the operation, because it is the buffer. If someone else owns it, then I can’t provide the buffer back beyond there, so that would not be feasible.
Andy: one strip is not Ag, the 20 acre parcel
Marv: the 20 parcel –it was applied for qualified agricultural land and approved. That isn’t zoning, that’s taxation. So the zoning and the taxation are a little bit different.
Don: Just for clarification, the 20 acre parcel is not Ag
Andy: well, the one parcel closest to where the narrow piece is, the L part, is R-1
Marv: yes, the 20 acre parcel is R-1, the 50 acres is Ag.
(discussion on maps) Don: any other clarifications that are needed?
David Michael: 3265 6 Mile Lake Rd. I have property adjoining the gravel pit. I think I’m zoned residential, I don’t know, but my taxes are high. Like a lot of people, I grew up in Kentucky, and then moved up to the city for a long time, moved up here to have kids, get up every morning, listen to the frogs, birds. That’s why I like the woods. I have my house right in the middle of 35-40 acres, peace and quiet. When I bought my property and built the house, I went in to the pit, which was Drenth Bros before, and saw that the gravel was almost gone, so I thought, “okay”. This was allowed a long time ago, and I was hoping that things may have been changed. They definitely wouldn’t allow a 90 acre gravel pitl to be added to that. In looking at the ordinances, I’m not well versed in this, because I sell T-shirts. But in Section 7.01.3, it says “the use will not be any more objectionable to any adjacent or nearby properties than any permitted principle use.” It’s obvious it would be. Right now, I go home after work on Saturday night and I hear the gravel cruncher over there. When I bought the property, the gravel pit was already in, and who knows when it was put in, 50 years ago? Things do change. Communities change, and there is more residential. People are moving up here because they love N. Michigan. They love it because it’s quiet. And I have to say that adding a 90 acre gravel pit…it could be there for the next 100 years. And if there’s no other reason to do it than the money. I understand. I’m a capitalist, I’m all about it. There has to be some point that we say we’re going to allow a thousand acres.Everyone would be objecting if it was around their house. I live there, right next to it. I bought it under the current ordinance, which is farming and residential. I wouldn’t have bought it if it was a development. So, a rock pit as opposed to even densely residential, is way more objectionable. To me, it’s just common sense. Truck traffic outside when you are walking with your kids, big truck comes by, rock comes off, hits something? It just happens. I didn’t buy it for that. Now that I’ve invested so much in my house, but I’d gladly sell it. Someone wanted to buy it, I’d just move down the street. I just wouldn’t want to be near it. I don’t think it’s fair. I’d be willing to put money towards buying the property, if we could buy it for a reasonable amount, donate it to the conservancy. That’s how much it means to me. Reading this, it can’t be any more objectionable than a current permitted use. We need to refine the language. If somebody owns their property, I’d love for them to make my _______________. I’m very conservative, I love all that stuff, it’s great, but only to the point where it doesn’t bother the other person.
( Map discussion)
David: They will keep on taking gravel for the rest of my life time. Another thing that’s kind of disturbing. The language about fixing the property afterward. There’s no time limit as to when it’s not a gravel pit. Take one stone, and it’s still a gravel pit. My fear is that if Elmer’s came in, and said, “We’re not done with Drenth’s pit, we’ll just move on to the next 90 acres,” and nothing could be done. Then all that truck traffic is just going in and out. That’s my fear. There is nothing in the current ordinance that makes anybody do anything.
(discussion on previous Drenth pits)
David: Everyone knows Drenth’s, and that’s awesome, and I expect that you (Marv) would. But you are not the gravel company. You would lease or sell it to them. It’s a big company. The point is we don’t know, and we should be able to know. I have a lot invested in my house, and three kids.
Jarris Rubingh: 8305 Essex Rd: The Rubingh farm has been in this township for 110 years, and as someone that is involved in the day to day operation of the farm, with kids about your kid’s age, and Heidi’s kids, we’re here to be friendly, to be good neighbors. We have quite a few paths on our farm, with tractors going down that could use some gravel. You talk about 70 acres. That would be wonderful. Reality is, this is more like 5. Nobody knows for sure, but they are up to the property line. You’re talking about the noise. I’ve hunted that property for years. Yes, you can hear it, but to me, it’s just like a car going by. The deer don’t mind. I’ve seen bucks come out while the crushers are running. They’re used to it. It happens all the time. I think that it’s definitely in my best interest to be a good neighbor to everybody, and I would hope that it would be something they would come and talk to me about. I have kids, too, and want them to be safe as much as anybody else’s kids. I hear exactly what you are saying.
Rick Beemon: I own the land right across the street. I’ve owned it since 1989, so I’ve been going up here a long time, and have quite an investment in this area. My wife’s done the natural are, worked on that for twenty years, it goes along St. Clair Lake. Mr. Rubingh’s been a good neighbor. We bought the land knowing there were agricultural uses going on around us. It’s kind of gravel pit central. We’ve been reclaiming an old gravel pit, adjacent to Elmers/Hersha current pit that had been left untended for I don’t know how many years. Somebody graveled that out back in the 60’s. You can’t do that anymore. So I think there is some regulations that will take care of most people’s concerns. We kind of accept the Elmer’s gravel pit. They do weeks of intense manufacturing of the product, then leave it set until they sell it. When they get rid of that, they come in do another burst of work on it, so it’s not a continuous problem as far as the noise and such goes, because it is intermittent. But it is an industrial use and that where the problem is in general. You have things that can be done right next door to you—mining is an industrial use. Properties adjacent are going to have to accept it once a decision is made. That’s where the problem comes in. I don’t know what the answer is. You look at your zoning and try to isolate the things that you want to happen. It would be like having a big industrial something right in the center of Ellsworth…difficult to accept. We are willing to accept it. You are talking about uses of land, but certainly it’s about the people own the pieces. You have industrial land here, house, family, and I have my investment in my land. It affects you personally. Of course, Mr. Rubingh has his investment in his land. He’s farmed that for all these years, and now things are going to change. I guess I don’t have any answers. I just want to make it known how I feel about it.
Questions on zoning: It is zoned R-1, but Marv applied for qualified ag use, and it is taxed at that rate. Discrepancy between maps
Nancy Hersha: (Pleasant Hill rd) If you decide to go commercial, do you have to re-apply
Marv: The Special Use Permit goes with the property.
David: If it is granted, can you limit parcel size, and make them clean up as they go?
Nancy: I did not state whether I was for it or against it.
Tom Cooper: the pit Drenth’s had on old Dixie, they reclaimed it as they went.
David: I’m against it
Gerald LeVesque: (Pleasant Hill Rd) I’m against it. It would be noisy, with trucks going through town.
PUBLIC COMMENTS AND HEARING CLOSED AT 7:20 p.m.
Steve Parafin: I would like to see the property before I make a decision.
5. Public comment on non-agenda items:
Gene Kasmer: I am concerned about the township method of tracking nuisance/noise. We need to do something about protecting the tranquility of the area.
Lee Wollgast: the noise is becoming a bigger problem. Other townships have done it, so there are examples to follow
Lee: there are responsible owners, but its dealing with the irresponsible ones
Kasmer: message has been sent out that they can do what they want.
David Michael: short term rentals are great for our economy. We rent out our condo, and get good money.
6. Response and comment from commissioners:
Parafin: ordinances have been passed in larger townships, but enforcement is still a large part of that.
Zoning board of Appeals: Decision of March 16, 2017 ZBA Hearing: ZBA visited the property, and decided due to extenuating circumstances, such as terrain, the temporary structure, the applicants would be allowed to keep the structure, with some restrictions
Zoning Administrator: 12 applications this month. 3 are for new homes, the rest for out-buildings. Working on a couple of other items. There will be an application for a SUP on a new house construction because there is already an existing house on the property.
Township Board representative: Cooper highlighted items from the Board meeting.
Planning Consultant: Introduction of Claire Karner, Beckett & Raeder: The firm she works for is in Ann Arbor, with offices in Petoskey and Traverse City. She works from the Traverse City office. She has 5 years of experience in Planning Consulting, and will provide the support we need.
8. Old Business:
Noise Ordinance – Consultant Karner will bring draft language to our June meeting.
Transmission and Communication Towers – continue to develop draft language, with enforcement language. COLI has been non-compliant, so fines should be set for non-compliance. Question becomes enforcement. Request has been made to increase allowed height to 130 ft. Commission will look at draft language in June.
Update on Short Term Rental guideline development: Still working on establishing a self-governing body, developing guidelines, so that this comes from the community. Not all short term renters are bad. We just need some guidelines for the owners to have.
MTA Training, May 24, 2017 in Gaylord: Miles, Parafin, Wieland attending
9. New Business/ announcements/correspondence:
a. Decision on Greenbelt Ordinance Revision: MMS by Parafin, Cooper, to approve Greenbelt Language to include use of pesticides and herbicide control for invasive species as per sub-section 9, and send it forward to the Township Board for approval. MC
b. Decision on SUP for Sand and Gravel Extraction: MMS by Parafin, Cooper, to postpone decision and make a site visit before June’s meeting. MC
c. Decision on SUP for Campground: MMS by Cooper, Austin, to approve Rocky Top Campground application. MC, with voice vote.
d. Discussion regarding shipping containers as storage units: Language on temporary storage units could be tightened up. PC Karner will research potential changes to address the storage container issue. Under the current language utilizing storage containers as long term storage does not appear to be permissible.
10. Next Meeting: June 13, 2017
11. Adjournment: MMS by Austin, Wieland to adjourn at 8:30 p.m. MC
Mark Wilke letter: From: "mark wilke"
Date: May 2, 2017 8:02 AM
Subject: Rocky Top Preserve
I live directly across from the Cooper
property on US 31. I'm concerned about the effects a campground
development would have on the neighboring area as far as noise,
campfire smoke, home security and degraded scenic value. All of which
could have a negative effect of my property value.
One reason I bought this property is because the Cooper property was referred to as a "Preserve". We have had to put up with several outdoor concert weekends they have had there and the music and campfire smoke til 2am got to be a little much!
I would like to see more details on this development. Please send me any information you have on the subject.
2. Rocky top application
3. Rubingh application:
4. Greenbelt language