HARRISON – Business at the Hayes Planning Commission’s first quarterly meeting of 2024 began with approval of the agenda as received, followed by approval of the Oct. 11, 2023, meeting minutes. Hearing no public comment on the agenda, the meeting was paused and a public hearing for the PUD Zoning Ordinance Amendments opened. Hearing no comments, the public hearing was closed and the quarterly meeting resumed.
New Business began with discussion and vote on the PUD Ordinance Amendment. The Commission then unanimously approved by roll call vote Planning Commission Resolution PC 24-01 recommending adoption of the Hayes Township Zoning PUD Ordinance.
That was followed by election of officers: a repetition of choices made at the October meeting. Officers include John Marion as chair, Kim Kennicott as vice chair, and Karen Laskowsky as secretary. Both Kennicott and Laskowsky were excused from this quarterly meeting. Members present included Marion, Bob Buckley, Dale Miller and Brendan Powell.
The meeting then moved on to discussion of proposed zoning ordinance amendments and discussion the Planning Commission Annual Report Draft.
When the agenda proceeded to Public Comment, commissioners heard concerns from Emerson Corder of Harrison PowerSports. He brought up questions regarding Collins Excavating which had begun moving earth and amassing heavy equipment on its property along N. Clare Avenue, south of the north interchange. He voiced complaint on behalf of a neighboring homeowner whose driveway Corder said was being destroyed by the heavy equipment traffic. Corder questioned the business’s ability to make property alterations without having first received a site plan approval from the Planning Commission.
Corder explained that the resident was aware when he purchased his property that the driveway was partially split, and added that in speaking with Hoyt he had learned that an excavation business was not a “use by right” in C-2.
Zoning Administrator Ken Hoyt spoke then saying he had done further investigation after speaking with Corder, and learned that there are excavating businesses within the township, such as Henry’s which has 37 acres and is zoned C-2, and others that deal with production such as Beckman which is also a C-2 property. He also noted that Henry’s Tree Service with all its equipment is also a C-2 property.
Hoyt then cited the C-2 Ordinance, No. 46 of Uses Permitted by Right: Other similar retail businesses or service establishments which generally provide commodities or services for more than one neighborhood (as distinguished from those which primarily serve residents of the surrounding neighborhood, which would be the C-1) which are judged by the Planning Commission to be similar in character to those enumerated.
Hoyt further explained that the sale of property had happened Jan. 2 and the affidavit of sale had been published on the Register of Deeds website just the day before.
“And at 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon I was talking to Tyler Collins,” Hoyt said. “Asking if he knew he had to submit a site plan for review by the Planning Commission. He said he already knew that but that it’s so early in the process that all he wants to do is get some area cleared out, pour some gravel in so he can make a parking lot. Then he’ll figure out what he’s actually going to put there and where it’s going to be, and then submit a plan to the Planning Commission.”
Hoyt further noted that a property owner can pour dirt, cut trees and brush, bulldoze all they want, etc. without a permit.
Corder, who had issues with the zoning administrator related to previous interactions at his business, asked if this business owner would be subject to the same ridicule as other businesses.
He went into detail about violations that were cited yet were not actually violations. Hoyt explained that there had been a change in the ordinance because of the noted situation which had then allowed for shipping container and semi-truck trailers to be on C-2 properties, just not in R-1, R-3, R-4 and AR.
Corder also voiced concern regarding the neighboring residents being subjected to noise, and the safety of drivers on U.S. 127. It was explained that Collins would have to get a driveway permit from the Clare County Road Commission. Corder continued, saying that the driveway is being accessed illegally, and likewise claimed the business’s 4-axle dump truck is being operated illegally as its DOT inspection is nearly one-year expired. Corder cast further aspersions on the type of business owner the township is dealing with – which Hoyt said is not the impression he had during the aforementioned conversation.
Hoyt reiterated that there is nothing the township can do about the cited current actions, but advised the property owner could seek legal redress by filing a lawsuit.
When Corder asked if all the surrounding residents were stuck having to deal with the noise, Hoyt noted that of the 10 properties that border the two properties in question, all but two are C-2 properties. That means a residence can be built on that property, but it does not preclude the commercial use as noted earlier.
Corder continued to fire questions at Hoyt, complaining about how the township had treated his father who had an existing business in the township since 2005 – and was an existing business when he moved to the current location – adding that he had been “put through absolute hell – unnecessary.”
Corder accused the township of being “good old boys” who pick and choose who they are going to apply rules to, where they’re going to apply ordinances that don’t exist.
Hoyt advised that he can’t change the past, and Corder took up that call saying that Hoyt had better repeat it.
“Because if you’re going to treat other businesses that way, I sure hope Collins goes through the same s - - t that you put everybody else through,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s just the good old boys all over again.”
Hoyt was adamant in saying Collins would have to comply with the ordinance that is on file.
At that point, John Marion put a stop to the back and forth, saying this discussion should be tabled until Collins has an appointment and comes in to speak with Hoyt, and the Planning Commission can move on into something constructive.
Hoyt offered that the ordinances are online and accessible. To that, Corder dug in asking why, if the ordinances are online, why doesn’t Hoyt know them. When Hoyt explained that the ordinances include 129 pages, Corder claimed that it was Hoyt’s job.
This, too, devolved into a tirade of accusations, and Marion soundly insisted that Corder stop his accusations or be asked to excuse himself.
With that, Marion asked if there were any Commissioner Comments, and hearing none, the meeting was adjourned with Marion saying, “Let’s go home.”
© Clare County Cleaver
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