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                                                                PLANNING COMMISSION

                                                       ORDINANCE WORKSHOP

                                                      MARCH 4, 2003 @ 7:00 PM

MEMBERS PRESENT:         John Lowe, Debra Wiedman-Clawson, Jean Root, Jim Anderson, and Dave Hamann

MEMBERS ABSENT:            None

OTHERS PRESENT:             John Ambrose, Township Planner

                                                Annette McNamara, Zoning Administrator



John Lowe called workshop to order at 7:30 p.m.


John Ambrose asked the Planning Commission members to point out problems still existing.  Mr. Ambrose will try to resolve 

any issues.  Jean Root asked if Mr. Ambrose had received the letter from the Livingston County Planning Department 

(LCPD) dated October 10.  The township attorney needs to feel most comfortable in order to be able to defend it. The

attorney has reviewed this on numerous occasions, has written letters, and changes have been made based on his input.

 Almost two years have been spent on reviewing this document at the township level.  Unfortunately, the LCPD wasn’t

present at all discussions, so some of its concerns may not be relevant.  Mr. Ambrose is comfortable with the ordinance as

it’s now written.  One of the LCPD’s comments was the entire ordinance needs to be reviewed and changed wherever 

communication towers are mentioned.  Mr. Ambrose disagrees.  If you look at the heading 17.10 Communication Towers 

(Wireless Communication Facilities), Mr. Ambrose feels the LCPD wants the entire document changed to include Wireless 

Communication Facilities.  Mr. Ambrose purposely put the phrase Wireless Communication Facilities in parentheses so the 

rest of the document wouldn’t have to be changed; this avoids conflicting language. 

Mr. Lowe asked for clarification on page 1, Section B, item #1:  basically, this addresses anything that’s attached to any 

structure, not freestanding.  Is this correct?  Mr. Ambrose said this refers to a wireless communication antenna, not 

necessarily the tower. Ms. Root had a question on page 2, item #7:  clarification on language—shall/may. Mr. Ambrose said

the language would be cleared up in final document. Mr. Lowe, page 3, item E:  make sure the lot sizes are correct.  Does

this include anything smaller than the 11,000 square feet?  Mr. Ambrose said it would—it would allow you to not meet those

requirements for a tower.  You could have a lease area smaller than the lot size requirement.  Mr. Lowe doesn’t want to 

eliminate the Planning Commission using its discretion.  Mr. Ambrose said towers are allowed in any non-residential zoning

district and rural residential.  They can’t be closer than two miles to each other.  He suggested changing the verbiage to have

it meet the minimum lot area in the Rural Residential zoning district.  Ms. Root pointed out that page 4, Item N, says no

closer than 200 feet from any single-family dwelling. Mr. Ambrose said that would be true no matter what zoning district.

Mr. Ambrose will change the language from “single-family dwelling” to “residential dwelling.”

Ms. Root asked if it was an FCC or FAA requirement that the tower collapse onto itself?  Mr. Ambrose said neither. It’s a 

requirement most communities have built in and it’s the nature of the design of the towers, especially monopoles. The fall

zone accommodates this.  In the new document, the non-residential districts require a much smaller lease area and

engineers will certify the “fall zone.” Ms. Root asked if the attorney had clarified if a tower is considered an accessory 

structure or a principal structure.  The attorney, under the old ordinance, that it was a principal use. 

Mr. Lowe—item G, landscaping portion:  should we include 30” minimum height—we address the maturity height, but not 

the initial plant height.  Mr. Ambrose said we could change it to a 6-foot minimum at the time of planting.

Mr. Lowe had a question on item #4: cost of using an existing WCSF structure exceeds the cost of permitting and 

constructing a new one—economic rationale shouldn’t be used.  Mr. Ambrose said the item could be deleted. 

Ms. Root asked about the lighting issue.  Mr. Ambrose said the FAA regulates it.  Anything 200 feet or higher must be lit. 

Mr. Lowe, item 7—review fees:  do they need to be established in advance or is it discretionary?  Mr. Ambrose said it’s 

discretionary at the time.  The township has the ability to research and establish fees. Ms. Root, item 4A:  do the earlier changes

 impact this statement?  When on property owned by government, schools, utility companies, etc., you would require 2-acre 

minimum across the board.  Mr. Anderson asked if we would consider building a tower in cemetery?  Mr. Ambrose will delete 

cemeteries from the section. Page 8, item #6:  can add 30 feet to existing tower without variance?  This would be advantageous—

eliminates need for another tower.  Definition (page 8):  “block” needs to be changed to “parcel.” 

Mr. Ambrose will make changes and present new version at the March 25 Planning Commission meeting. 


 responsibility has been taken away from the townships. The DEQ says they don’t have the ability to enforce. This will be a major

change in Rural Residential, because parcels that weren’t previously buildable will become so. Pre-engineered treatment plants within 

the subdivisions; performance bonds and escrow accounts with small licensed companies and this will drastically change what’s going

on in the township.  Mr. Lowe wants to see how this develops because this will impact cluster developments. Mr. Ambrose said the

 township could still control the density.  This is different than public sewers.  A lot of prime percable land

Mr. Lowe heard about a court case through the DEQ that will allow centralized sewer systems in small developments. The

has been used and many communities either need public sewer or expensive engineered fields.  This is just another alternative. 

It’s hooked up to a sequential batch plant.  Usually discharge is to some type of stream, although a relatively large system can still be

discharged into the ground. One question is who will maintain it—the municipality, county, engineering firm?  This is a less expensive way to develop in the

 RR district than in the sewer district.  Ms. Wiedman-Clawson asked why we couldn’t change PUD to include RR district and forget

about single-family cluster developments?  Mr. Lowe feels we’ve done what we’re legally responsible to do (50%) and we should

 hold off on this for a few months.  This item will be tabled until legislation comes out. 

Mr. Lowe asked for Mr. Ambrose’s opinion on the Boss proposal.  Mr. Ambrose said the ordinance requires an alternative

plan.  It doesn’t give more specifics than it has to be buildable land—delete wetlands, pipeline/power line easements, bodies 

of water.  Steep slopes are not included.  It’s up to the developer to prove to the township that what they’re providing in the 

conventional layout, which determines density, is buildable.  What the township required is not unreasonable. That’s the 

purpose of developing a parallel plan.   Ms. Wiedman-Clawson asked if the open space (50%) could be used? Mr. Ambrose

said the open space must be part of the buildable land, so the answer is no.  They cannot include wetlands. Ms. Wiedman-

Clawson asked for clarification on language in zoning ordinance—public vs. private.  Mr. Ambrose said the ordinance should 

read private, limited to 25 units on private road with single access.  We don’t have jurisdiction on public roads 

(re: intersections).   Ms. McNamara has given the information to the township attorney for his interpretation. 


Dave Hamann was asked to research new fees for pre-planning meetings.  The purpose was that the Board feels a great 

deal of the zoning administrator’s time is spent training applicants about our ordinances, essentially putting their packages

 together for them.  There is a $400 special meeting fee on the fee schedule already that could cover this type of meeting.

The point of Mr. Hamann’s memo is to address the time spent by the zoning administrator and whether or not a pre-planning 

process needs to be put in place to force the applicant to pay for the time spent.  Additionally, the process now has the

applicant submitting the package, which is sent to the attorney, engineer, etc. for review prior to the Planning Commission

meeting.  Usually, the review letters aren’t received in advance of the Planning Commission meeting.  If the Planning 

Commission set up a process for the applicant to submit package, have the consultants review, and send back to the 

applicant to make adjustments prior to Planning Commission meeting, there would be fewer items that the Planning 

Commission makes approval contingent on.  Mr. Ambrose feels there’s a strong advantage to mandatory meetings with 

developers prior to submitting package.  This helps the developers get everything done right the first time. He also likes

 the idea of getting reviews back to them with enough time to make corrections.  Therefore, it would be mandatory for at

least one month’s lead time.  Mr. Lowe questioned whether 30 days is enough time.  Mr. Hamann said our rules state no

less than 15 days and no more than 45.  Mr. Ambrose can send his review letter directly to the applicant if the township 

requests.  Ms. McNamara pointed out that Tonch Private Drive did come in for a pre-meeting and there were issues still 

not addressed.  A checklist should be used for the review process (conceptual, preliminary, final).  Ms. Wiedman-Clawson

 said the checklist document used by Hartland Township works well.  She will obtain a copy for review.  Mr. Ambrose said 

the developers should have a copy of the checklist.  The fee schedule could be set up with a $400 minimum (two hours), 

with an additional hourly charge beyond two hours.  Mr. Ambrose felt a private road development wouldn’t require a pre-

planning meeting. Mr. Ambrose said it would be less costly to have a pre-planning meeting and final site plan submission 

than to have a preliminary review and final review.  Suggestion to make the pre-planning meeting optional.  Also suggested 

to establish a weekly or bi-weekly time for the planner and engineer to come in and meet with scheduled appointments, 

one appointment per project, $200 for hourly appointment.  One item that should be mandatory for the preliminary review is

 from the Livingston County Road Commission. Ms. Root asked about citing specific dates when giving approvals.

Mr. Ambrose said you should cite dates, and be consistent.  Always look for revision dates on plans. Mr. Lowe suggested

including a space for the date on the review form.  The township will order a date received stamp for plans.  

  Review checklist and home occupations (3-tier approach from Mr. Ambrose) need to be added to the March agenda for



Jean Root motioned to adjourn.  Dave Hamann seconded.  Motion carried 5-0.