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                    MARION TOWNSHIP          


       JOINT MEETING - JULY 7, 2003

MEMBERS PRESENT:   Bob Hanvey, Sue Lingle, Dan Lowe, Myrna Schlittler, Dave Hamann, John Lowe,

                                   Jean Root, Debra Wiedman-Clawson, and Jim Anderson


OTHERS PRESENT:       Mike Kehoe, Township Attorney

                                     John Ambrose, Township Planner

                                     Annette McNamara, Zoning Administrator

                                     Tom Klebba, Township Consultant                                                                                                                       


Bob Hanvey called the meeting to order at 5:04 p.m.


The township planner, township attorney, members of the Planning Commission and Board members introduced themselves.




Bob Hanvey asked John Lowe, chairman of the Planning Commission, to summarize its concerns and address its questions.

Mr. Lowe said the original intent of the language in the Open Space Preservation (OSP) ordinance was to regulate the parallel plan

language and to convey that the parallel plan was designed using individual septic systems as the basis for determining density.

Mr. Hanvey restated that the Planning Commission wants the language to read in such a way that thereís no clear advantage to a 

developer to go one way or the other.  Mr. Lowe doesnít want a substantial monetary benefit by going with the more clustered option

without additional amenities to offset it. Mr. Hanvey stated he hadnít seen anything in the ordinance that gives the Planning Commission

any authority to design the projectÖto tell the developer where the open space should be.  Mr. Lowe said no, not where it should be, 

but the open space needs to be calculated on the buildable area. Mr. Hanvey said then the developer could potentially have the open 

space be on a lot-by-lot basis. Tom Klebba said the 25-foot perimeter buffer should be part of the open space so that it would stay in a 

natural state and the site plan would say what that open space would be.  The association would maintain it rather than individual property 

owners (cutting grass, not cutting grass, etc.)  Mr. Lowe felt that should be something the township should be allowed to address. 

John Ambrose said that one of the problems is the ordinance requires a 25-foot buffer around any development, but it can be part of each 

personís lot instead of common area.  He feels the buffer should be outside of the lot boundaries. Itís difficult to tell someone they canít do

something with his or her own lot. Mr. Hanvey asked if the township would have the opportunity to modify the 25 foot if it goes against an 

existing sub that didnít have it versus one that already has the 25-foot buffer.  For example, on Clivedon Road, thereís no buffer on the side 

lot, so there will only be 25 feet.  Under the current plan, both subdivisions would be 25 feet. John Lowe asked if the 25 feet is part of the

lot and is to remain as a greenbelt, is that as enforceable as it would be if it was left as part of the association property. 

Mike Kehoe said the township shouldnít be putting itself in a position to handle individual.  If the buffer is part of the association, then

youíre enforcing against just that entity, not each individual property owner. He felt itís probably a little easier to enforce the ordinance if 

the association owns the property. John Lowe said one of the reasons it was done with the 25-foot buffer as part of the lot was so that it 

didnít come out of the lot calculations. John Ambrose asked if the township has the authority to enforce master deed regulations. 

Mr. Kehoe said no, but if it were part of the actual site plan that was approved, that would be another issue. John Lowe asked about the

issue of the calculation of the area on the perimeter lots.  Will that be included as part of the lot?  John Ambrose said yes, initially you 

would include it; all buildable land would be used. Jean Root asked if that would be extended into PUDs as well?  John Ambrose said 

most of the major PUDs did that. John Lowe asked whether the Planning Commission can request more buffer, ask the developer to 

move something, etc.?  Mr. Ambrose felt that things could be requested at the site plan review as long as the conditions protect the health,

safety and welfare of the community.  But normally, the developer will choose those things. John Lowe used the example of a lot next to

 a 25-foot buffer with five lots adjacent in a new sub.  In the rural character of the area, thatís pretty high density. Debra Wiedman-Clawson 

said the ordinance should give a clearer definition of  ďvegetation.Ē  John Lowe asked Mike Kehoe if that would be defensible. Mr. Kehoe

said he thought it would be.  Mr. Kehoe also felt it would be a good idea for the language in paragraph two of the OSP to add a new 

item ďeĒ to add wording about compatible buffering with adjacent property. Jean Root asked for a definition of compatible. A one-acre lot 

and a half-acre lot may be viewed by a developer as being similar.  Mr. Kehoe said one or two 20,000 square foot lots up against one acre 

is probably not that big of a difference.  He would like language to be added to give the Planning Commission the ability to request changes

based on each individual project. John Lowe said the Planning Commission needs language allowing it to review and make

recommendations to mitigate impact on adjoining projects.  These issues are site specific.  He encourages a meeting prior to site plan 

review so these types of items can be addressed.   Tom Klebba asked Mike Kehoe whether the Planning Commission has the authority

to say they want the entrance to a development to move?  Mr. Kehoe said the majority of the issues will be site specific depending on 

the land, etc. Bob Hanvey asked how the township can avoid the charge that itís biased toward certain builders? Mr. Kehoe said itís the

Planning Commissionís role to be objective and follow the ordinance as much as possible. Debra Wiedman-Clawson said thereís no way

to determine what is buildable if there are no perk tests, no wetlands delineation, etc. Mr. Kehoe suggested that Mr. Ambrose draft 

language for the OSP ordinance that would give the Planning Commission the ability to negotiate. Jean Root said the OSP requests a 

parallel plan, yet one parallel plan that was submitted appeared to be wrong.  Mr. Kehoe said he doesnít believe it has to be taken at

face value.  Debra Wiedman-Clawson asked if the township could request perks on certain lots?  Mr. Kehoe said yes, probably, but he 

recommends adding language to the ordinance to give the right to request additional information.  Heís not completely comfortable with 

requesting a developer to perk all of the lotsónot sure thatís reasonable.  The state law says that it has to be based upon the number of

houses that could normally be built.  Add some language stating that when a parallel plan is provided and the Planning Commission 

wants additional information to document that the building sites are in fact buildable under the parallel plan and as required by the 

existing ordinance. John Ambrose read the definition of buildable:  ďÖthe area of any lot or parcel of land that is actually buildable which,

for the purpose of developing land or computing density, shall not include existing or proposed rights-of-way for public or private roads, 

major utility or pipeline easements, flood plains, wetlands (regulated and non-regulated), lakes, ponds, streams or any other body of 

water except as otherwise provided in this ordinance.Ē  Based on this definition, Mr. Ambrose doesnít feel unbuildable areas (wetlands)

can be used for calculations. Dan Lowe mentioned Wolf Ridge and the fact that two lots that had to be accessed through wetlands. 

 They obtained a permit to put the shared driveway in.  Mr. Hanvey said once he went out and actually saw the lay of the land, it made

sense to do what the developer had proposed. Mike Kehoe said a lot of these items would be on a case-by-case basis for each 

development.  Using the example of Wolf Ridge and the two lots, he feels the Planning Commission would have been perfectly justified

 in saying they wouldnít count those two lots as buildable because realistically, they wouldnít be developed. That would have been a 

sustainable court decision. Mr. Hanvey asked if the township could hire a wetlands consultant to go out and do the staking and have the

money come out of escrow money.  It needs to be done at some point, so why not do it first?  Mr. Kehoe said if youíre going to require 

something like that, wording to that effect needs to be in the ordinance. Mary Ann Bahr said the definition of buildable land says that 

wetlands have to be included, and youíre putting the cart before the horse if you donít define the wetlands before you go forward. 

There should be steps to follow.  Step 1 is to define the wetlands.  It doesnít make sense to get to the preliminary site plan approval 

stage without the wetlands defined.  How do you know how many lots?  If youíre going to have open space in the zoning ordinance, 

you have to have something that requires surrounding residents be notified. Mr. Hanvey said that adjacent landowners do have an interest

and they do have the opportunity to comment, but they really donít have controlling authority over what the Planning Commission does. 

Ms. Bahr said the Planning Commission should consider what surrounding residents have to say. If you set the standards, everyone has 

to live by the same rules. John Lowe said that the survey includes the topographical layout of the site.  The variation on the wetlands from

the preliminary to the final site plan is negligible.  Itís very obvious where the wetlands are on almost every project. The developers arenít 

going to submit something thatís blatantly obvious thatís not a wetland and come back with a vastly different final plan. One resident 

asked what if the surveyor and the developer are one and the same? Mr. Lowe said that itís still of no benefit to submit something thatís

 wrong.  The wetland delineation has to be checked by an outside entity.  Mr. Hanvey asked again, why couldnít that be done first?

Debra Wiedman-Clawson said the wetlands specialist needs a set of plans beforehand. John Ambrose said the ordinance does require 

that wetlands within 200 feet of the site be shown. If a surveyor misrepresents intentionally, his or her license is at stake. Registered 

surveyors wonít give misinformation. Dan Lowe asked if there wasnít something in the ordinance that would allow the Planning 

Commission to require the parallel plan to include wetland delineation before preliminary approval. John Ambrose said the parallel plan 

should include all the information just as any project would.  Dan Lowe asked why the item wasnít tabled because it wasnít complete?

Mr. Ambrose said there were other issues. John Lowe asked if a quarter of the lots on the parallel plan have wetlands on them and the

ordinance states buildable area cannot include wetlands as part of the calculation, are we standing on solid ground as a basis to deny 

those lots?  Mr. Kehoe said yes. Mr. Hanvey asked if that means a parallel plan canít include wetlands as part of a lot. If someone has a 

ten-acre parcel with only one acre being buildable, they still would be allowed to build.  John Lowe said subdivisions or site condos use a

one-acre minimum without wetlands.  A parcel split is different.  Basically, different criteria can be used depending on how a parcel is

created and the character of the development (metes & bounds versus site condos, subs, etc.)  Jean Root said thatís why there are

different mechanisms for different types of parcels. Dan Lowe asked Mike Kehoe if giving a developer a preliminary approval gives them 

any benefit in court if final approval was not given?  Mike Kehoe said the Planning Commission could only act on the information

presented at the time.  If the township is provided with the parallel plan and thereís concern that some of the parcels wonít perk or 

arenít laid out right, the developer should be told and it should be part of the record.  Approval should not be given; it should be denied 

based on those conditions. Jean Root asked what if thereís a question on the number of lots theyíre asking for. Mike Kehoe said the 

township could ask for proof that those sites can be built on. John Ambrose said the township has been following the Subdivision

Control Act for conventional subdivisions.  Basically, itís a three-step process.  Thereís a pre-preliminary, a preliminary and a final plat. 

The pre-preliminary plan shows the general layout of the roads and proposed lots.  The next phase includes more detailed information. 

The developer is usually given a list of items that need to be addressed in the final plan. John Lowe asked to clarify the discussion the 

latest proposal for the requirements for the perk tests, etc.  Does the latest language meet the townshipís needs? John Ambrose said 

the purpose of the language in item 4 in the OSP ordinance is to get away from centralized septic systems. The key is that the lots 

should be designed with individual on-site septic systems.  Bob Hanvey asked if something should be in item 4 that says this only 

applies to places where thereís not sewer available.  Mr. Ambrose said if someone added sewer to a parallel plan, the township wouldnít 

have these kinds of questions.  John Lowe asked whether the language is clear and defensible or does it need to be changed? 

John Ambrose and Mike Kehoe suggested some changes in the wording of item 4 as follows: Jean Root presented a copy of

Hartland Townshipís language that includes a paragraph that deals with the DEQ and additional language that provides for storm water 

management, etc.  It seems like the township always follows the Livingston County Health Departmentís (LCHD) standards, but those

standards change.  Debra Wiedman-Clawson said the wording needs to be something that would hold up in court. John Lowe said the 

approval process by the township engineer should consider the standards of the DEQ and the Drain Commission. John Lowe mentioned 

that Mr. Kehoe had said the township couldnít justify requiring the development to do the plan twice. Mike thought it would be too 

restrictive to actually require them to prove each building site perked. The current language is not bad. Mike thought there was some

language in the Hartland Township ordinance that might be useful. The OSP language will be changed to read, ďÖThe parallel plan 

shall be designed to occupy buildable land only and all lots and/or building sites shall be designed to accommodate individual on-site

septic systems that meet the design criteria of the Livingston County Health Department.  Another item John Lowe asked about was

sewer and water availability and whether a developer can pick and choose whether they want both.  His understanding is that if both are 

accessible, they canít have one without the other.  The township has no way to meter the sewer usage with wells. Does the ordinance 

need to be changed?  Mike Kehoe said he will review the language. In an effort to keep Mike Kehoe apprised of the work the Planning

Commission is doing, John Ambrose asked for permission to consult with Mike Kehoe on issues as needed.  Bob Hanvey said the 

board could vote on that at its next meeting. John Ambrose will draft additional language to the OSP ordinance, and another public 

hearing will be held. 




Dave Hamann motioned to adjourn the meeting at 7:15 p.m.  Sue Lingle seconded.  Motion carried 5-0.