HARRISON – The Hayes Township Planning Commission held a public hearing and special meeting Sept. 9, called for the purpose of adoption of the revised/amended 2019 Township Zoning Ordinances. Present for the meeting were commissioners Stan Lewis, John Marion, Kim Kennicott, Karen Laskowsky and Bob Buckley, zoning administrator Rod Williams, zoning assistant Ken Hoyt and township attorney Kyle O’Meara.
In discussion early in the hearing, Hoyt said the commission had received only one correspondence item regarding the ordinance, along with two phone calls. He said those calls came from people planning to open businesses who were awaiting the new ordinance to come into effect, because with the changes to Uses by Right in C-2, they would be able to open their businesses without a special use permit, rather than having to apply for one. Hoyt said one business was Big Joe’s Auto Sales, which sought to open a lot north of the credit union with trailers and accessories. A second proposed business facility farther north would provide boat service, winterization, storage and spring delivery.
Chairman Stan Lewis then opened public comment regarding zoning ordinance amendments.
Joe Quandt, attorney for Fisher Construction Aggregates, voiced objection to not being notified of the June Hayes Planning Commission meeting. He was perhaps referring to the July 10 meeting of the Hayes Township Planning Commission which is described in this newspaper excerpt: [… began with a summary statement from Lewis, informing that there would be no representatives of Fisher Construction Aggregates at the meeting, and had asked to be removed from the agenda. Lewis was careful not to even mention the company by name, stating that to do so would have obligated him to notify them that he had done so.
“Those people aren’t going to show up,” Lewis said. “I have no more information than that. And from this point on, everything is between the attorneys. They’re attorney will talk to our attorney and let us know the next time anything’s going to happen. And as soon as we find out, you people will all be informed on what’s happening.”
He also said that “nothing is going on right now with that situation on Mostetler Road.” – July 18, Clare County Cleaver]
Quandt referenced his supplied letters of objection dealing with the legal issues, adding that: “The Michigan Zoning and Enabling Act provides clear guidelines and guardrails for a local unit of government when they’re acting in the area of sand and gravel mining, and we believe that clearly the five pages of new site plan requirements and new operating requirements are well beyond anything that the Zoning and Enabling Act contemplates.”
Quandt said there is such concern related to the availability of construction materials and the ability to rebuild infrastructure and roads that the Senate bill that was introduced by a Democrat allowed for less restriction, rather than more restriction.
“I’m sure you’re all aware of that,” Quandt said. “Based on a read of the minutes, it looks like it was discussed at length in the June meeting, which we unfortunately could not attend.” [Again, the July meeting]
He said the Zoning and Enabling Act also precludes what is called exclusionary zoning, which Quandt said means saying a land use can’t be used within a local area of government.
“In your situation you haven’t specifically said that it can’t be used, but there’s also case law there that I’m sure Mr. O’Meara will educate you on this,” Quandt said. “When you practically, by creating so many restrictions, make it impossible to facilitate a land use – that is equally exclusionary and is equally illegal. We believe the new site plan and operating requirements, and the zoning ordinance exceed those parameters and boundaries.”
Quandt further said such restrictions violate constitutional due process and equal protection rights. He said that there was no published notice of the Sept. 9 special meeting, specifically of the amendments that deal with sand and gravel mining and extraction operations.
“We didn’t get it until last Thursday [Sept. 5], and I find the timing just incredibly ironic,” he said. “On Aug. 21, I wrote a letter to the township saying: ‘We want an up or down vote at the next meeting in October.’ On Aug. 22, the next day, you send out a public notice to approve zoning ordinance changes – without a copy of the ordinance changes themselves. Tonight, ironically, is the very first night after the notice requirement that you can approve it.”
Quandt said that federal judges are not stupid and will see the sequence of events, establishing a prejudicial review process, and that he thought the planning commission had a surprise coming.
At this point, a voice from the audience spoke out: “He’s making threats.” Another said: “Absolutely.”
Resident Valerie Kusiak addressed the commission, thanking them all for their diligence in upgrading the township’s ordinances, bringing them closer to residents, and putting them online.
A final public comment came from Don Kos who said the attorney was “threatening” and felt the company seeking to build the gravel pit “needs to prove that it belongs here, not the other way – not that we have to prove it don’t belong.”
At this point, the public hearing was closed and attorney O’Meara asked if any commissioners had a question regarding the zoning ordinance. Lewis also inquired if there were any last-minute commissioner concerns, and Karen Laskowsky brought up a terminology item regarding engineered site plans. Discussion led to the choice to leave the term engineer to be used without narrowing its scope.
Lewis then moved to have the planning commission approve the resolution recommending revision of the Hayes Township Zoning Ordinance. The motion was seconded and followed by a unanimous roll call vote of approval. The ordinance will now be submitted to the Hayes Township Board for consideration.