By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Sumpter Township Planning Commission worked for a year and a half on the first completely revised zoning ordinance since 1977 before sending it on to the township board for approval.
At the March 26 township board meeting Supervisor Johnny Vawters announced the board wanted time to study the 307-page document and so it was not on that night’s agenda for approval, as expected.
A committee was set up to review the document and “fine tune” it. On the committee are township attorney Rob Young, planning consultant Laura Kreps of Carlisle Wortman, Trustee Bill Hamm, and Deputy Clerk Esther Hurst, who also is recording secretary of the Planning Commission.
Another member of the board may be appointed.
Trustee Hamm said the board just got the new zoning ordinance the previous Friday and there wasn’t time to study it in detail.
“We’re not kicking the can down the road,” said Supervisor Johnny Vawters, noting the board has to study the document before acting on it.
Hurst said the Planning Commission has been working on it for one and a half years and the board just had it since the previous Friday. She said the planning commission held a public hearing and approved sending it to the board for action.
Now, it’s at the board level, she said.
Cheryl and Ron Norton, owners of the Bake Shoppe at the corner of Savage and Bemis roads, had concerns about their C-3 zoning being taken away.
They said they had been advised by the township to get C-3 zoning and so they paid the fees and had the public hearing and invited all their neighbors to get the proper zoning for their storage yard.
Now, that’s been wiped away because there no longer will be a C-3 zoning.
“I’m glad we got here at the 11th hour,” Cheryl Norton said, adding she thought the zoning changes were to be about dispensaries and other things.
Sharon Claxton, a member of the Planning Commission, said the new zoning has combined C-2 and C-3.
“I’m telling you, there have been no changes,” said attorney Young.
“Why didn’t someone step up for the residents?” Cheryl Norton asked.
Young said they are putting the ordinance in a more workable form and adding new things, like flag lots and outdoor furnaces. He insisted they were not eliminating any rights.
“Can C-2 have what C-3 has?” Cheryl Norton asked. “We don’t want that all over the township.”
Supervisor Vawters said they are going to study the document.
“When we changed the zoning, we spent a lot of money,” Ron Norton said. “We went through the due process. We were here. A lot of you were not here, but we were. It went to a public hearing.”
“We’re checking into this ordinance,” stated Trustee Alan Bates, who is a new member of the Planning Commission.
Bates said he had three disputed areas: the Nortons’ concern, wood burning stoves, and flag lots.
“I have seven,” said Trustee Hamm.
Ron Norton said, “We don’t want it jammed down on us.”
Supervisor Vawters said those with concerns should bring them to committee members.
In other business at the March 26 meeting, the board:
• Held a moment of silence in memory of David Green who died March 24. Mr. Green, who did a lot of volunteer work for Sumpter over the years, was the husband of 34th District Court Chief Judge Tina Brooks Green;
• Approved Burnham & Flower for the 2013-14 township insurance coverage at a cost of $120,650;
• Approved hiring Karen Woodington as temporary part-time clerk starting April 22 to work out of the Supervisor’s office. Clerk Clarence Hoffman asked if the laid-off dispatchers have call-back rights and Vawters replied this was a part-time, temporary position and, “She might never work. We have things going on and we might need her”;
• Approved paying warrants totaling $86,533.26;
• Heard Trustee Don Swinson report that plans for Sumpter Fest on Memorial Day week end are moving forward. He said in November some representatives went to a convention and Sumpter submitted last year’s Sumpter Fest T-shirt and came in third place of all the shirts submitted. Also, the March 23 Easter Egg Hunt brought from 50 to 75 children;
• Heard Trustee Peggy Morgan give a report on the Wayne County Parks grant spending for 2011-12 and said she will pass it on to the resident who asked about it at a recent meeting. Bates asked if the $1,000 worth of posts and signs stored in the Graham Park building could be installed with some of the money left from the grant;
• Heard Trustee Swinson announce that quite a few children signed up at the Egg Hunt for Sumpter’s new T-Ball league for boys and girls aged 4, 5, and 6. They are still taking registrations and will be at Graham Park at 6-7 p.m. on April 16 and 12-1 p.m. on April 20. Volunteers are still needed;
• Heard Mary Ban say that people in the community are “still dismayed… still appalled” that the school district is wasting $200,000 to tear down Elwell School when Sumpter Township could have used the building. She said it is a loss to every single taxpayer in the township and the school district. “We’re like dirt under their feet,” she said referring to school officials. She also said it looks like a full traffic signal will be put up at the corner of Martz and Rawsonville roads, thanks to the work of Washtenaw County officials. She said when she went to Van Buren Township asking about the deadly intersection, VBT didn’t even know where it was and that there was a problem; and
• Heard Trustee Morgan report that she was told there was a large crowd at Haggerty School for the school district’s sale of equipment from Elwell and other schools. Ban said, “It’s a shame they didn’t do that at the high school.” She said people in the community “still can’t believe it happened,” referring to the tearing down of the high school with equipment still in it.
By Rosemary K. Otzman