Fall Colors at the Hogsback on Center Road | Jane Boursaw Photo
Fall Colors at the Hogsback on Center Road | Jane Boursaw Photo

(Editor’s Note: OMP resident Curt Peterson writes about the joint meeting of the Township Board and Planning Commission on Oct. 11, 2022, during which a public hearing was held on the Farm Processing Facilities Amendments, a draft of which has been in the works since earlier this year. After the public hearing and discussion by both groups, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the Amendments to the Township Board. Following a few minor changes, the Amendments will be on the agenda for the Nov. 1 meeting of the Township Board, who may take action to approve them at that time. View the meeting video here or on the Township’s YouTube channel here. -jb)

At the joint meeting of the Township Board and Planning Commission on Oct. 11, 2022, the main issue was/is a proposed change to “Farm Processing Unit” in our Township Zoning Ordinance. It is Proposed Amendment 201. (Editor’s Note: Read Township Planner Jenn Cram’s memo and attachments about the amendment here. -jb)

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Per the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act of 2006, there are requirements of Planning Commission meetings. They do not make law; however, they do make recommendations to the Township Board for approval/disapproval, and items may be sent back to the Planning Commission for modification.

After a public hearing, the Planning Commission is required by state statute to make a report to the legislative body (the Township Board) regarding their findings of citizen comments, and then make a recommendation to the Board. This was not done either during the Oct 11 meeting or after the meeting. The Planning Commission has not followed state law. In fact, they made and passed a motion at this joint meeting without producing the required report to the Township Board.

It gets worse. A Planning Commission member made a motion to recommend approval of Amendment 201 to the Township Board, including recommendations discussed at the meeting. It passed. No one questioned what recommendations. What does this mean? Yes, the Planning Commission does not make law; they only make recommendations to the Township Board. But we have no clue what they recommended, and they did not supply the state-mandated report of citizen comments to the Board.

Is this what we want in Peninsula Township, no matter your opinion on Farm Processing? Did we not open ourselves up for litigation for not following state statutes, and for a vague motion by the Planning Commission?

We need our government bodies to follow state mandates for zoning regulation and to pass motions that are absolutely clear for all to understand.

– Curt Peterson

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Curt
    You are correct. Unfortunately this follows a recent pattern of ignoring state law. We have our own version of district attorneys around the country refusing to enforce laws.
    They did it twice with the illegally passed moratorium and notice of a petition And even after this was pointed out several times our planning director refused to accept a valid sup. For someone who claims 25 years of experience and numerous education bona fides one has to wonder was she under orders to not follow state law was she acting on her own ill conceived opinion of her duties or what. And further for the town board not to correct this makes them knowingly complicit in ignoring state law. Hence another lawsuit. Of course they don’t care its our money being used to fund their foolishness.
    As you say no matter what your view is on the wineries you should expect better of our officials. Isn’t there even one who sees this as wrong. What a shame that no one is willing to call this out. Of course ptp will be cheering them on as usual. In their view they operate under the principle that the end justifies the means even if it is bad government and bankruptcy. God forbid an extra car should travel down our roadways.

  2. Peninsula Township is fortunate to have a general counsel with such extensive experience in guiding townships across Michigan in the correct interpretation of state zoning law. William Fahey, Peninsula Township’s attorney, represents 80 some Michigan units of government.
    Mr. Fahey clarified at the October 11th, 2022 public hearing, which was held in front of both the Town Board and Planning Commission, that the section of state law regarding planning commissions sending a summary of public comment to a town board addresses a situation in which a planning commission holds a public hearing and their town board is not present. In that case the town board will need a summary of public comments to know what public input occurred. However, if the town board is present with the planning commission for a public hearing, then they will have heard all public comments themselves, and therefore do not need a summary to understand what public input occurred.
    In that case the PC only needs to vote for a recommendation to either move the proposed amendment forward to the TB or to not move it forward. That is what occurred on October 11, 2022. Planning Commissioner Donna Hornberger moved that “the planning commission recommend Amendment 201 to the zoning ordinance to the township board with the recommendations seen this evening” The motion was seconded by Julie Alexander and passed 6 yes to 1 no.

    • John
      lawyers are paid to mouth the position of their clients.
      It is his opinion only ! He pointed to no part of the law or a court case to back up his opinion.
      In my opinion the legislative intent of this section of the law provides for TWO opportunities to comment on a proposed ordinance. The purpose is to allow careful deliberation, then provide another opportunity to react to the first hearing and then provide final comments at the town board. The township compressed two hearings into one. That purposeful circumvention of the
      stated process may be illegal or at the least flies in the face of the legislative intent. Thus it calls for the summary to be presented by the planning commission.
      The town and PTP are so intent on doing away with the wineries that they keep doing things not in compliance with state law . The first two moratoriums were illegal and we will soon find that the judge will rule against that other illegal move by the township. Thankfully they and the Fahey law firm do not have the final word on this. Here again a person is left no choice but to seek redress in court.

    • Hi all and John, Yes our twp attorney did in fact say that since the meeting was held as a joint meeting that the Planning Commission did not have to go by the Michigan State Statute. He cited no legal documents or state statutes to back up his verbal opinion. The Michigan Zoning and Enabling Act of 2006 does not ever mention that the Planning Commission can in special circumstances (like a joint meeting) not follow the law. Our attorney did earlier in the meeting say that a report was required but back peddled later in the meeting and changed his opinion.

      Further the motion that passed as you correctly mention said to pass the amendment with the recommendations made tonight. Well what recommendations? We heard recommendations on farm processing unit to be 40 acres, 60 acres, and 80 acres. So who decided and how did that process work to come up with the 60 acres that was shown at the Nov 1st Township Board meeting. And further who is allowed per state law to make changes in a proposed amendment after the Planning commission has made their recommendation to the Twp. Board. John you have demonstrated over the years common sense and intelligence. Please just look at the 2 page zoning and enabling act of 2006 and get back to us on whether you agree or disagree with how our Twp Board is procedurally following State law.

      Frankly we are in Peninsula Twp not following State Statute in terms of zoning amendment procedures. And that will make this new amendment legally challengable.

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