web analytics

Tag Archive | "City Planning Commission"

Unsung Heroes: the Planning Commission


Many people don’t know how local governments work for the betterment of the community. I sure didn’t before I got involved in local government operations. In high school civics class, we are taught about the federal government with the President, the Courts and the Congress but nary a word about Mayors, City Councils, City Managers or the various working mechanisms of how things work at the local level. Very few people know the difference between a “Strong Mayor” government and a Council-Manager government.

I want to talk today about planning commissions (PC) and what that board and its members do for the City. PC’s are not a required board under state or local laws but a majority of municipalities use some form of a planning commission to lessen the burden on the City Council of running the City. The PC is generally tasked with the planning and zoning of a municipality according the rules outlined in both state and local laws, primary of which is the Zoning Enabling Act (MCL 125.3801). 

“Planning and zoning” is a shorthand way of saying that the PC helps establish goals and policies for directing and managing future growth and development in the City; including such things as location of growth, housing needs, and environmental protection.  Planning helps account for future demand for services, including sewers, roads, and fire protection and zoning is what helps keep factories away from homes and homes away from fast food restaurants.

Two of the primary tasks that the PC members work on are the approval of new development site plans and the in-depth review and recommendation of planning and zoning law changes to the City Council.  Site plan reviews are where the PC reviews the proposed plans for new developments and businesses to ensure that they are meeting all local rules and requirements (while not burdening businesses with overregulation). For instance, the PC makes sure that proposed driveways are safe, that dumpsters are enclosed and hidden from the public, that there is sufficient but not too much parking, that lighting is bright enough but not shining in your bedroom window and lots of other details about each new development. The second part, the in-depth review and recommendations on planning and zoning rule changes, are a major factor in boosting economic development, encouraging business and simultaneously ensuring that basic requirements are being met. The PC members spend a lot of time educating themselves and discussing what are the best practices and best methods to ensure high-quality development in the City.  

The PC members all live inside the City, work regular jobs and represent a good cross-section of the population. They are appointed by the City Council and they work with the City Planner, City Engineer, City Attorney and Zoning Administrator to get their job done. PC membership is an awesome way to serve the community and lots of PC members go on to serve on the City Council in an elected role. Their job isn’t easy and their decisions don’t always make everybody happy but they are hard working and looking out for the best and long-term interests of the City.  If we go by the definition of “doing great deeds but receiving little or no recognition,” that well defines the Planning Commission.  

Their meetings are always open to the public and they like when people come to watch. The Cedar Springs PC usually meets once a month on the first Tuesday at 7 p.m. in City Hall. Their agendas and packets are available on the City’s website and their meetings are broadcast live and recorded on Youtube so you can watch all that excitement in your pjs at home if you would prefer. Finally, all those rumors about where that new store might go or whether that hole in the ground will become a gas station or a carwash—talk  to a PC member, they’ll probably know.

Posted in City Hall Corner, NewsComments Off on Unsung Heroes: the Planning Commission

City board vacancies



Are you looking for a way to help out your community? The City of Cedar Springs is seeking community members for two different boards.

The City is looking for a new Planning Commission Member. The Planning Commission currently has one vacant seat. The Planning Commission is a volunteer board and they generally meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The board consists of eight members of the community and the Mayor. The Planning Commission helps shape the future of land use and business development in the City of Cedar Springs. The input from the commission provides citizens the opportunity to have an input on the decisions that will shape the community for many years to come. All eligible individuals must be 18+ years old, a city resident, and fill out the application online at http://dev.cityofcedarsprings.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/boards-and-commissions-application.pdf. Please email applications to manager@cityofcedarsprings.org or drop them off at City Hall.  City Manager and the Mayor will review applications and make their suggestion to the City Council for appointment to the Planning Commission. Application deadline for the vacant position will be October 3, 2018.

The City of Cedar Springs is also looking for qualified members of the community to serve on the Downtown Development Board. The DDA currently has one vacant seat. The DDA generally meets once per quarter on the last Monday of January, April, July, and November at noon. The board of 9 members consists of a minimum of one resident of the district, the Mayor, and the board must maintain a majority of members with ownership or business interest in property in the district. The basic purpose of the DDA is to reestablish and maintain the vitality of the Central Business District. Basic components of the plan include parking, commercial development, and building renovation. All eligible individuals must be 18+ year old, a resident of the district or an individual with ownership or business interest in property in the district, and fill out the application online at http://dev.cityofcedarsprings.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/boards-and-commissions-application.pdf. Please email applications to manager@cityofcedarsprings.org or drop them off at City Hall. City Manager and the Mayor will review applications and make their suggestion to the City Council for appointment to the Planning Commission. Application deadline for the vacant position will be October 3, 2018.

Posted in NewsComments Off on City board vacancies

Beekeeping ordinance sent back to Planning Commission


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council decided last Thursday evening to send the new beekeeping ordinance back to the City Planning Commission for more research and discussion, at the suggestion of City Manager Mike Womack. The Planning Commission had previously approved the new ordinance by a 5-4 vote.

The decision was made after the first reading of the new ordinance at the City Council meeting Thursday, September 7.

“The Planning Commission discussion went off track (in my opinion) and made a 5-4 recommendation to City Council to approve with some additional language. After discussing the matter with each individual PC member it sounded like a majority didn’t feel as though they had sufficient time to research and discuss the matter,” explained Womack. “So, I gave the City Council the recommendation of the PC but also made the suggestion to send it back to the PC for further research and discussion based upon the discussions that I had with PC members. This is obviously a complicated issue and I want the City to get it right and I don’t see any reason to rush to a decision.”

Womack said he received an email from one of the PC members asking for specific information regarding the resident who asked to be allowed to keep bees, Joe Frank. While he felt they were good questions if reviewing an applicant, the ordinance is a policy issue. So Womack sent an email to Planning Commission members explaining some of the things they should be thinking about regarding the beekeeping ordinance. “The Bee-Keeping Ordinance was brought to the PC’s review for policy reasons.  The question that PC members should be asking themselves is whether the PC is a body capable of reviewing an application to keep bees, whether the proposed ordinance gives the PC enough guidance with which to make future decisions regarding an individual being able to keep bees, whether there are any spelling mistakes, errors or omissions that you think the ordinance should have but that I missed and whether you have any problems with individual aspects of the ordinance, a good example would be whether you think 2 hives is too many on any property under 8,XXX square foot and instead you think that it should be only 1 hive etc. When the City makes policy/ordinances we absolutely should not be thinking about how it will affect any single individual but rather how it will affect everybody. A typical lot in the City is 66X132=8,712 square feet, If the PC wanted to limit bee-keeping it could recommend that the minimum lot size should be 9,000 square feet before being allowed to keep any bees. We also have parcels as small as 5,000 square feet (or smaller) in the City, does the PC want to say that there is a minimum size for the lot prior to allowing bees?”

City resident Joe Frank asked the city to consider allowing beekeeping in the city earlier this summer. He has kept honeybees as a hobby for several years. He had several hives on property he owned in Hesperia, and when he decided to sell the property, he re-homed all of the hives, except one, with other beekeepers. He had previously asked a city official if he could keep a hive on his property here, and was told he could. He moved the hive to his property, but was later told that he couldn’t have it under the current ordinance. That ordinance, Sec. 8-1 Domestic Animals and Fowls reads: “No person shall keep or house any animal or domestic fowl within the city, except dogs, cats, canaries or animals commonly classified as pets which are customarily kept or housed inside dwellings as household pets, or permit any animal or fowl to enter business places where food is sold for human consumption, except for leader, guide, hearing and service dogs as required by MCL 750.502c.”

“Bees are animals and no animals shall be kept except for the ones listed or are commonly classified as pets, which bees are not,” explained City Manager Mike Womack.

Frank said he was happy with the draft ordinance the council was considering.

“The State of Michigan has guidelines for beekeeping and the proposal is in line with the State of Michigan Agriculture guidelines, which I think is a good way to go,” he said.

A few of the other cities that allow bees in West Michigan include Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland.

 

Posted in NewsComments Off on Beekeeping ordinance sent back to Planning Commission


advert
Cedar Car Co
Advertising Rates Brochure
Kent Dumpster
Kent Theatre

Archives

Get Your Copy of The Cedar Springs Post for just $40 a year!