Banks Township Planning Commission

Regular Meeting Minutes

May 9, 2017

6:00 p.m.

  1. 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

Absent: none

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


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.

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.

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.

Tom: That tells us something. We’d better enforce the rules. I came from downstate, too.


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.

Marv: I don’t know the future. Things could change. Some company could come in and want to harvest the gravel.

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.

Don Miles: comments in favor.

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.

(map discussion)

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.

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

Marv: yes, the 20 acre parcel is R-1, the 50 acres is Ag.

(discussion on maps) Don: any other clarifications that are needed?

( Map discussion)

(discussion on previous Drenth pits)

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

Marv: The Special Use Permit goes with the property.


Steve Parafin: I would like to see the property before I make a decision.

5. Public comment on non-agenda items:

6. Response and comment from commissioners:

7. Reports:

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:

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.

  1. 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


1. Mark Wilke letter: From: "mark wilke" <>
Date: May 2, 2017 8:02 AM
Subject: Rocky Top Preserve
To: <>

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.

Mark Wilke

2. Rocky top application

3. Rubingh application:

4. Greenbelt language