HARRISON – At its March 8 meeting, the Harrison Planning Commission found multiple items on its plate: two rezoning requests and one site plan review. Also, under Old Business, the commissioners were informed of a Harrison City Council directive that they rescind the marijuana “opt out” ordinance and proceed with development of ordinance language that would allow for one marijuana retail store, geographically.
When asked by chairperson George Muscott why Council didn’t simply eliminate the “opt out” position, the city’s attorney Jaynie Hoerauf explained that the planning commission would have to come up with the new ordinance, and that she would provide a sample ordinance for the commissioners to review, then adjust to its needs.
Commissioner Tom House asked if the ordinance would need to include the application procedure, selection process, etc., and Hoerauf clarified that the repeal of the “opt out” would need to be the first step. That would be followed by the zoning piece which would indicate which parcel would be zoned for allowing marijuana retail, including any setbacks [which would prevent inclusion of other types of businesses in that zone]. And the final piece would be the regulatory portion, indicating what permits could be issued, including criteria for permits and inspections.
When asked why a marijuana retail couldn’t open up anywhere in the business district, Hoerauf explained that was why it is necessary to specify permissible use. Even so, if multiple entities apply for establishing their retails in the zoned area, the city still faces the prospect of having to use specific scoring criteria in making its selection among applicants.
HAEDCO Property Rezone for Planned Unit Development
The agenda then moved on to the New Business of rezoning requests. First up was the request from HAEDCO (Harrison Area Economic Development Corp.) to rezone the parcels of 070-028-400-40, 070-028-400-400-42 and O70-028-400-43 located at 945 Old County Farm Road in Harrison from Ag and R-3 to a Planned Unit Development (P.U.D.) zoning.
Informing commissioners about the rezoning request were Pam O’Laughlin of Middle Michigan Development Corp. and JC Colville of HAEDCO. O’Laughlin described the 52-acre property and the various uses which have been determined as desirable in its development. This project has undergone some changes, and now includes some light industrial use and a business connections park. She provided a revised P.U.D. map which illustrated the possibilities of a business park; clinic and medical/other office buildings; senior apartments/cottages and assisted living with a community center between. Planned uses also included 17 single-family detached homes on approximately 0.4 acre lots, along with a possibility for some townhomes for single-family housing.
O’Laughlin said changes to that park side of the project were due to changes made due to the U.S. Department of Commerce/EDA grant which had been applied for required specific parameters for the property in order to move forward. An example cited was a change to the projected roadway approaching the Weldon Drive end of the business park would have to end before reaching the housing portion, as business and housing portions may not connect. Weldon will still go through from County Farm Road to N. Clare Avenue, but the business connection/housing separation will involve the use of a cul de sac that does not go through to touch Weldon.
When Muscott asked about the increased traffic causing potential problems at the Weldon/N. Clare Avenue intersection at the hilltop, he was told there had been some discussion with the Michigan Department of Transportation. That had included the possibility of cutting the hill down some to change the grade and improve the traffic sight lines.
Connelly reminded that each component of the project would have its own individual developer, and that each would require site plan review by the planning commission. The exception would be the single-family (middle income) homes, which could involve multiple builders.
O’Laughlin pointed out that more changes could come in the future, but that it is essential to have the zoning in place so that when grant dollars become available for housing – something with ever-increasing focus in the state – the components are in place.
Also, when House asked about the possibility of actually having a stand-alone clinic on the property, O’Laughlin said there is a group interested in doing exactly that. Colville said that acquiring an Urgent Care is the desired result, but that securing the people to provide that service has not been realized – yet. He said there is a considerable “wish list” of what is desired for the development, but that the hurdle is getting people to invest in building. He said the rezoning and building of the Weldon extension will open up grant opportunities which can lead to the realization of more of the project’s goals.
Having all their questions asked and answered, the commissioners moved to approve the property rezoning to a Planned Use Development.
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