HARRISON – There was a full house at the Jan. 4 monthly meeting of the Hamilton Township Board of Trustees, with 18 guests in attendance. After approval of the agenda, the Board heard Public Comment, wherein resident Barbara Lambdin suggested an informational presentation on fire safety would be in order, and Hamilton Township Supervisor David Wright concurred, saying he would pursue it with the fire department or Jerry Becker, director of Emergency Management.
Clare County Commissioner David Hoefling kicked off his report by offering a joke: “Where did Noah store his bees? In the Ark hives.” He reported that the County had rented Lot 14 to the Clare County Transit Corp., and also provided an overview of the actions taken by the BOC in December. One of those actions included the elimination of the regular monthly Committee of the Whole meeting, a change which Hoefling made clear he’d voted against.
Hamilton Planning Commission Chairperson Kelly Bennett reported that work on township ordinances continues, with work on the cemetery ordinance nearing completion. She said the plan is to have that one wrapped up with the February meeting, have proposed changes sent to the Board for review, then get a public meeting scheduled.
Zoning Administrator Melissa Townsend reported having the busiest December for permits in her three years on the job, with a total of 52 issued in 2023. She said eight short-term rental applications had been issued. Under what she referred to as “fun facts for 2023,” Townshend reported seven violations that were pursued (two by the same resident), and she reminded that building without a permit results in a doubled cost; 3.5 FOIA requests [the .5 was redacted]; she noted 15 Planning Commission meetings to discuss the ordinances [nine more than the usual six]; and eight Zoning Board of Appeals meetings [which included two dealing with an additional accessory building, one land split and one fence].
In Keith Rolph’s Zoning and Blight Enforcement report, he noted two recent complaints he needed to follow up on. He advised that he had received complaint of a person coming onto people’s property claiming to be a township official and screaming at them about blight, taking photos, etc. Rolph was clear that “This is nobody from the Board and nobody who has a position anywhere within the Township.” He urged residents to know that if anyone came onto their property claiming to be from the township, and it was not him or any of the township officials seated at that meeting, they should shoo them away and tell them they would see them at the next meeting. He went on to describe the person as being in his mid- to late 60s, 5’-5” tall with white hair, driving a white SUV, possibly a hatchback.
At that time, a citizen voiced a calm, lengthy complaint and concern about a local property, itemizing yard blight/squalor, the fowl and animal feces all around, pigs in the backyard posing a threat of feral destruction due to inadequate containment, hunting kills being left in the yard, a deer left hanging in warm weather for days with a gut pile in the front yard – and the concern that all of this poses a potential harm to children present in the home. It was stated that Child Protective Services had been notified, but the citizen had seen no changes in the situation, and thus was approaching the township board for suggestions/guidance.
Rolph and Wright assured that the township had been made aware of the situation quite recently, and steps would be taken to address it, beginning with the established blight process. Wright assured that this problem will be handled the same way blight had been addressed on Cathey Street. The citizen was urged to keep making written referral to CPS, noting that the agency may not be aware of the property’s current state, so it was important to continue to report any conditions hazardous to children.
Under Old Business, clerk Valdine Erskine spoke of the pickleball group’s desire to use the township hall garage. Erskine said that in order to be able to rent out both the garage to pickleball folks and the hall separately, lock work needed to be done. Door frame thickness/short backset depth posed a problem for installing a standard keypad lockset. The Board agreed that she keep an existing appointment with a locksmith, seek his opinion on an alternative lock Erskine had located.
Wright said there are no updates on the new Verizon tower, with no expectation of any action until spring. He informed that two more Verizon towers will be going up in the area, one along Bard Road and one in Frost Township.
Under New Business, Erskine reported the township received favorable audit results, and noted the township’s taxable value was listed as $74,564,850. Of that amount, she said the township receives 0.7810 mills which equates to $23,077 in taxes. She also touched on concerns raised due to the volatility of revenue sharing in the state.
The Board moved to amend the 2015 Resolution for Township Officers’ starting pay to bring the payroll up to present day 2023-2024 and strike the Planning Commission as a set fee. Additionally, there was discussion of three properties which need to have the rubbish assessment removed, and the Board moved to do so.
Erskine also provided information regarding the new resolution to apply for the Michigan Community Foundation/DNR SPARK grant. In order to apply, the township must have an active resolution in support of the SPARK grant application [which Erskine read for the Board] which provides a thorough description of its goal for the Hamilton Township Community Park at the site of the Hamilton Township Hall. The Board moved to adopt Resolution 2024-1 which was to be submitted to the grant writer the next day. The minimum grant award would be $100,000 and the maximum $1 million.
In order to meet the desires of the community for its park, the township planned to host a Community Engagement event Jan. 6 where citizen preferences surveys would be collected and the current proposed graphic of the plan viewed. The survey responses were then to be applied to the initial park design which would be included with the grant application.
This grant is a second go round opportunity, and other contenders in Clare County include Lincoln Township, Hayes Township and the City of Harrison – all seeking the funding to expand recreational opportunities for their citizens.
The Hamilton Township Board of Trustees meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of the month at Hamilton Township Hall, 3042 N. Rodgers Road.
© Clare County Cleaver
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