HARRISON – The Hayes Township Board welcomed two visitors at its Jan. 16 meeting: Gabe Ambrozaitis, the township’s new county commissioner, along with Chris Damvelt, chief of the Harrison Community Fire Department.
Ambrozaitis was making his first official-capacity township meeting visit, but as the Clare County Board of Commissioners had not yet met, he had no county business to report. He did inform that he had been requested to serve on the BOC’s Finance Committee, Veterans Committee, Airport Committee and as liaison to the Clare County Road Commission, noting that if those requests were approved he would have eight meetings each month, plus Hayes Township. Ambrozaitis also informed that due to his election to the county board, ordinance disallows his service on the City of Harrison Planning Commission. As his term there expires at the end of January, he will simply term-limit out. The commissioner then passed out his business card to board members and encouraged all to reach out with any questions they may have of him.
Damvelt provided the board with the department’s year-end report which gave an overview of what volumes and types of incidents the department had responded to in 2022, as well as incidents specific to Hayes Township.
“You had 112 runs in the township, and 32 types of incidents,” Damvelt said. “By percentage, structure fires are 5% of what we do for you guys. The big winner was Powerlines Down, followed by Assists to MMR.”
Rick Jones, township supervisor, asked about the township’s volume of calls and Damvelt affirmed that most of the department’s calls are for Hayes Township, followed by Hamilton Township, then the City of Harrison, and then Hatton Township. Hatton’s higher than average numbers were attributed to expressway accidents.
The fire chief reported having 25 people on the department presently, and that a current firefighter class will conclude in April. He also noted the department is looking to replace another truck [tanker] which is overdue for replacement. Damvelt said the new truck would not only haul water to an engine but also would have the capacity to pump water. He said the build time on that truck would make it about a year out from delivery.
There also was brief discussion of the responses the department had received about its recent millage-based contract increase. Damvelt said it was mixed, but reiterated that even with the rise in millage, Harrison FD still will have the lowest cost of any department in the county, and some surrounding areas as well.
Clerk Deb Hoyt thanked Damvelt for all his department does for Hayes Township, and urged him to thank all the department members on Hayes’ behalf.
“You do a great job,” said trustee Robert Buckley. “You really do.”
In her Library Report, Deb Hoyt described plans for the Surrey House renovation as “moving along,” adding that some portions are complete while other areas are still waiting for parts, i.e., plumbing. She noted the Harrison District Library is hosting a $1 per bag book sale with an additional full bag free. This is part of the normal culling of old, outdated books and also is aimed at reducing the number of books to be moved to the new location. That sale will run until the end of January.
Buckley reported on the Hayes Planning Commission, noting its new member Ashley Pratt and describing her as “all excited and ready to go.” He also reported the commission had gone over the Master Plan Update provided by Adam Young of Wade-Trim, and its approval of a final draft for the annual report and Master Plan had been made available to the township board for review.
Zoning Administrator Ken Hoyt pointed out that when the Hayes Planning Commission approved the Master Plan, it was approved as a motion, neglecting the actual resolution. He said that would be remedied with a resolution approval at a special planning commission meeting slated for Jan. 19. He said that would then be presented to the township board at its February meeting.
In his report, Jones noted that when the county board authorizes the Hazard Mitigation Plan resolution, the plan would be available for public comment from Jan. 18 to Feb. 18. Jones also reported receiving Consumers Energy notification of work to begin in late January on the Harrison, Dodge City, Dodge Lake circuit, which encompasses the area around Southerland Lake, Little Long Lake and the north half of Budd Lake.
In her Treasurer’s Report, Maye Tessner-Rood reported having attended a meeting in Gladwin which focused on economic development in the area. She spoke of a big medical health facility and sports complex planned for Clare [former Walmart development site at the corner of Colonville Road and Old 27]. She said that could include two indoor pools, a track, and medical offices. She thought the only thing on hold was the hospital until determinations were made from its report which was supposed to have been released Jan. 4. Tessner-Rood said concerns had been raised about potential traffic issues at that intersection, particularly since the intent is to hold sporting conference events with high volume participation/attendance. She added that there were concerns from like businesses within the City of Clare, and that negotiations with businesses were in process.
Tessner-Rood also noted the next HAEDCO meeting will be Feb. 14 and that developers have asked for a 90-day extension, but also that some things currently on the table would be settled.
Clerk Hoyt reported a new township employee is busy cleaning up election records and sending out about 500 address confirmation notices, enabling removal of voters who are no longer township residents. She also said the township is waiting for the state to conduct the election audit but did not know yet which Clare County jurisdiction has been chosen for that required audit. Hoyt explained that, if Hayes is not chosen for audit, it would be able to release some of the information for the FOIA requests. She said one FOIA request had been denied, and the applicant would be picking up the denial the next day; there was no indication yet as to whether they would appeal the denial or file another FOIA request. She said such an appeal would come before the township board at the next meeting following the written appeal.
Hoyt also spoke of the planning which has already begun in order to accommodate the many election changes resulting from passage of Proposal 22-2. Her intent is to keep the board posted “on where we’re going with that: whether we’re hosting our own, whether we’ll consolidate at the county level, whether we’ll consolidate in three areas.” She noted a lot of planning goes into it, and working closely with the county clerk who has to help organize all of it.
In his Zoning Report, Ken Hoyt said two permits had been issued the previous month: one for a 10x10-foot shed and one for a 10x40-foot pole barn. Hoyt said the shed was a violation, as it was put up without a permit, resulting in payment of a fine and the requirement the shed be moved as it protruded past the front of the house making it too close to the road. Hoyt noted the township issued 109 permits in 2022 – exactly the same number issued in 2021. He found this surprising, as materials shortages made it appear projects would have to be pushed back or dropped completely. Yet materials availability through late summer and fall kept those permits active, making things busier in the fall than in the spring. Hoyt said permits and fees brought in $10,425 to the township in 2022.
Hoyt also noted 279 calls to 911. He said no year end report had been issued in 2021, but taking an average of the previous five years yielded an average of 340 calls, making the past year “definitely down compared to that average.” He noted the December report contained one first degree criminal sexual conduct, no Narcan administered, and only one suicide call [which had been running 3-5 on average].
In sharing the Fire Report, Hoyt cited nine calls which included: unauthorized burning, an outside storage fire, two accidents, a couple assists with other government agencies, a dispatched and canceled, a carbon monoxide incident, and one structure fire of a home on Grant Avenue which he said “was pretty much totaled.”
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