The anticipated approval of the special use permit (SUP) that will allow Peninsula Community Library to move forward with their plans for a new building did not happen at last night’s Township Board meeting.
Instead, the Board voted unanimously to table the SUP until the next regular Board meeting in two weeks. During this time, the Board will work with the Township attorney, Township staff and Gourdie-Fraser to clarify and modify the language in the Findings of Fact, which had been drafted and approved by the Planning Commission and sent on to the Board.
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The Board discussed whether to approve the SUP with conditions; however, Trustee Isaiah Wunsch, Board liaison to the Planning Commission, said that he wanted to be consistent with approving this Findings of Fact because of the scrutiny the Board has faced with other projects.
While no projects were mentioned by name, the Township Board is currently dealing with several lawsuits regarding “The 81 on East Bay” development, which was approved, with conditions, by the Board in December 2017.
Specifically, Wunsch mentioned tightening up the language with regard to the soil and slope on the library’s building site.
“The item [in the Findings of Fact] doesn’t explain how limited the grading on the site will be relative to other sites that we have to evaluate,” he said. “I think if we have more active language involving the finding that highlights that we made the decision that we made on this project because it’s a flat site with relatively low potential for erosion, it might put us in a better position when we’re evaluating the same ordinance language on other projects going forward.”
He added, “I say that only because this board has been scrutinized for consistency, so I want to make sure we’re creating a good paper trail for why we made the decision that we made, when we might make a different decision on a different project.”
But after being assured by the Township Board that the SUP would be approved at this meeting, representatives from the library expressed disappointment in the delay.
“I am deeply disappointed in the Township Board’s decision to table the SUP for the library,” said Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer, President of the Peninsula Community Library Board. “We have met all the requirements per the Planning Commission.”
But she stresses that despite the delay, this in no way slows down their library building project. “We are still fundraising and working diligently with our architectural firm on the construction documents,” said Reamer. “We, the campaign committee, understand that other outside influences affected the outcome last night, but we’ve been assured that we will have the permit within two weeks.”
Library director Vicki Shurly added that they’ve followed the Township’s directive to the letter. “I was very surprised and disappointed by the Township Board’s decision to table the approval of the library’s SUP,” she said. “We had been repeatedly assured by both Planning Commission members and several Township Board members that we were model applicants, having worked closely with the township to meet all their requirements and requests.”
Shurly noted that the wording which several Township Board members want reworked is actually the Findings of Fact document that was drafted by the Township Planning Commission. “The tabling has nothing at all to do with support of the library project, but rather with other extenuating influences that township government is dealing with right now.”
She said that Township Supervisor Rob Manigold acted quickly today to arrange a special meeting to bring everything together and assure approval by the next Town Board meeting. “I am hopeful that this will be the case,” said Shurly. “This is a community driven project with incredible public support!”
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb