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Peninsula Township Hall | Jane Boursaw Photo

Peninsula Township zoning ordinance changes are afoot, but some Old Mission Peninsula residents feel that more time should be allowed for public comment, and that not enough was done to promote input from township residents at this week’s meeting of the Planning Commission.

At the meeting, Township Planner Randy Mielnik outlined several changes to the Zoning Ordinance, and a public hearing was held.

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“Lots of work has gone into this,” Mielnik said. “There’s been lots of input from different people at different times, and you have in front of you a document that is light years ahead of where we’ve been, a document that’s been stuck in the 1970s putting bandaids on a zoning ordinance that clearly needs work.”

Mielnik noted that the Peninsula Township Zoning Ordinance was first adopted in 1972 and supported only by piecemeal amendments during the last 48 years. Because the township has found it increasingly difficult to respond to current development pressures, the Planning Commission formed a committee to work on updating ordinance language with the help of a planning consultant.

In the works since 2015, the ordinance update includes ordinance reorganization, new definitions, updated definitions, new graphics, procedural clarifications, explanations of development standards, past amendments, additional development standards, an updated zoning map, and references to related provisions and other laws.

“It doesn’t do anyone any benefit to have a zoning ordinance that is confusing and contradictory and lacking terms and the kind of clarity that you would hope for,” said Mielnik. “This is complicated stuff, especially for Peninsula Township where we drill down into details.”

The ordinance changes were reviewed by township staff, legal counsel and engineering, and in January 2020, the draft document was posted on the township website.

View the draft ordinance here, the draft zoning map here, and the additional zoning revisions here.

Since January, comments have been received and incorporated into the document, and in September, the planning commission decided to hold a formal public hearing. Although Mielnik noted that the township followed the required legal protocols for posting notice of the meeting, several residents at the meeting felt it could have been better promoted, given that this is an ordinance rewrite that’s been years in the making.

Monnie Peters, who was part of the committee that worked on the ordinance rewrite, said it was unclear from the agenda and meeting packet whether the public hearing was on only the pages included in the packet or the whole ordinance.

“If it’s the whole document, I think it ought to be better advertised,” said Peters. “It’s already on the website, but you don’t say whether that’s where people should go to look at it.”

Township resident Lou Santucci agreed. “With something this major, the township should have posted in bold letters on their opening web page that the several year effort to amend the zoning ordinance was about to come to a head.”

The public hearing will continue at the next regular meeting of the Planning Commission on Nov. 16, 2020, at 7 p.m. at the Township Hall. Comments may also be provided prior to the hearing via letter to Peninsula Township Planner, 13235 Center Road, Traverse City, MI 49686; or emailed to planner@peninsulatownship.com.

There may also be a virtual zoom session on the ordinance changes. Planning Commission Chair Donna Hornberger noted that during these times when Covid-19 prohibits large gatherings and residents may not wish to attend a meeting, “we need to figure out a way to have those people heard.”

Peninsula Township is also working on an interactive website, separate from the main township website, to make it easier to promote township matters and give residents a way to offer input. Stay tuned to the Gazette and we’ll let you know when that website goes live.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. I emailed my comments today but the email address for comments to the planner was incorrect. The word peninsula was misspelled in the webpage article. I wonder whether property owners in shared frontage subdivisions like mine recognize the impact the dock and hoist regulations will have on them.

  2. I would like to find the minutes on the website. I was told by the deputy clerk Robin they were removed because they aren’t following the American disabilities act. Seems kinda fishy to me. Jane can you find out ?

  3. Hi Linda and Deb, More people need to look at the 9-21 revised draft of the zoning rewrite and then the bombshell Oct. 14 packet addition that almost no one saw. The only persons that saw it were the few people on the Robin Noval email list. So within 5 days of the public hearing they added changes that our now only 7 days after the first portion of the public hearing are available on line of of the Pen. Twp site to see by all of our 5000 plus residents. This may be illegal. So on 10-22-2020 was only the first time the last minute under cover bombshell 10-14 additions available for general public via our Twp website. I cry foul and I think this could be illegal with public notification of Michigan Open Meetings notification acts.

    And all, oh yes the associations are somewhat aware of the negative changes to shared ownership and docks. Please spread the word, Our association is so Pi——ed and will respond. Regards, Curt Peterson 989-245-2758 please call with any questions. The next continuation of the public hearing is for Nov. 16th (Monday) and is perhaps by via Zoom. Stay tuned.

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