By Rosemary K. Otzman
Under state law, a planning commission must review its master Plan every five years and decide whether it needs updating or to be completely rewritten.
At the July 24 meeting of the Van Buren Township Planning Commission, the board considered the plan, which was amended in 2008, and decided it should have some slight changes, starting with the area of Ecorse and Hannan roads where a property owner wants to develop.
Other things also needed to be added to the Master Plan, including the 2010 Census data and a designation other than Open Space for the hazardous landfill on the I-94 North Service Drive.
The state statute requires sending a Notice of Intent to Plan to surrounding communities and other entities, so that will be done.
The commission intends to get started on reviewing the zoning of the property at the southwest corner of Hannan and Ecorse road at the second meeting in August, Aug. 28.
That property, now with a new owner, had been the object of a law suit and now the township has to follow a consent agreement on it.
Sally Hodges, planning consultant from McKenna Associates, noted that the Master Plan was last updated for the entire township in 1989 and has been amended several times since then, including:
• Single Family Residential Plan, 1999;
• Ecorse/Haggerty Road Corridors Plan, 2000;
• Premier Community Amenities Plan, 2000;
• Grace Lake Area Plan, 2001;
• South Side Master Plan, 2007; and
• Belleville Road District Plan and Market Analysis, 2010.
In the absence of vacationing commission chairman Carol Thompson, vice chairman Donald Boynton asked if they couldn’t include wording for zoning of new uses in the future that don’t fit now … newer technologies as things change.
Pam Ruff spoke from the audience about Hoosier canceling its co-generation plan and she wanted to know if the commission was going to change the Master Plan so Hoosier could fit in the office zoning of Grace Lake.
“We have to remain flexible,” Boynton said.
Ruff suggested the part of the resolution that read “beginning with the area of Ecorse and Hannan Roads,” opened the door to changes in the Grace Lake Master Plan.
Arthur Mullen, VBT Director of Planning and Economic Development said they will be dealing with the small corner at Hannan and Ecorse and, “It has nothing to do with Hoosier.”
Mullen said that corner is Master Planned for mixed use and, “You can’t get mixed use in that Hannan corner.”
Hodges said there are three separate mixed-use zonings in the township: the one at Ecorse/Hannan, north part of Belleville Road at Ecorse, and south and east sides of the City of Belleville.
In other business at the July 24 meeting, the commission:
• Held a public hearing on a variety of fairly minor housekeeping revisions to the zoning ordinance that will be voted on at an upcoming meeting;
• Discussed the state statute on Rezoning With Conditions so the commission would be familiar with that process before the expected proposal comes from the Clark gas station owner, who has been denied rezoning several times in order to renovate and update his station. The final decision is made by the township board. Mullen said several others have applied to VBT for Conditional Rezoning in the past, but have withdrawn the requests for one reason or another, probably having to do with the economy;
• Heard Mullen report on administrative reviews that are under way on Burger King, where the building is being “reskinned” and the size made smaller, along with sign and lighting changes, and Applebee’s which is changing only signage and awnings;
• Learned the Mrocca site plan has yet to be dropped off for the new day care location;
• Learned the Ad Hoc Lake Committee is continuing to work diligently. Mullen said they are preparing to set a date and host an open house to review the work completed so far with residents prior to beginning the formal review before the Planning Commission; and
• Recognized Eagle Scout candidate Nathan Vinarcik of Boy Scout Troop 237, who was in the audience as part of his Communications merit badge requirement. He received a validation of his presence signed by Director Mullen.
By Rosemary K. Otzman