By Rosemary K. Otzman
At its regular meeting on Sept. 10, the Van Buren Township Planning Commission heard its consultants map out an eight-month program of review and revision of the zoning ordinance, followed by a public hearing and presentation to the township board in June.
Sally Hodges of McKenna Associates said last spring the township board authorized funds for the planning commission and McKenna to do a comprehensive update of the zoning ordinance as a whole.
She and McKenna planner Patrick Sloan, who also is filling in for the township in the building and planning department, laid out a schedule for the work, taking the commission’s attention once a month – or, with the help of a subcommittee, if they so choose.
“It is ambitious,” Hodges said of the schedule. “A lot of the work could be done in subcommittees. I’m wary about requiring a meeting since we have a lot of big things on our plate.”
She said they could spend one meeting a month on this project and the second meeting on business, or do some of the ordinance review/revision work at every meeting.
The product of all this work will be an updated, corrected, reorganized zoning ordinance that would be put on the website where users could type in a word and have hyperlinks to the proper sections. Charts and graphics will also be a part of the document.
Sumpter Township and the City of Belleville recently completed such updates and their on-line zoning ordinances are getting high praise for ease of use.
Ecorse/Hannan Future Land Use
The commission also looked at a draft of the Ecorse-Hannan Road Master Plan amendment, which Hodges said will be put into writing and presented to the commission for action.
She said this Master Plan amendment effort began in response to Frank (Fawwaz) Jarbou’s interest in developing his parcel at the southwest corner of Ecorse and Hannan roads, across Hannan Road from his new shopping center in Romulus.
He had said he would like to put in a drive-in bank and the new draft of proposed future land use would allow that. The draft calls for General Commercial at the corner and Local Commercial for the area westward along Ecorse to I-275 instead of the present Mixed Use future use.
She said the goal is to update desired future land uses on Ecorse, east of I-275, to reflect current trends and conditions.
A year ago, the planning commission approved rezoning of the western part of Jarbou’s property from AG to C-Local Business, to make way for a pig launcher.
Jarbou had asked for the whole 2.23-acre site to be rezoned to C1-General Business.
Ernie Tozer was the only person to speak on the rezoning at the five-minute public hearing on May 8, 2013 and he pointed out the amendment to the township Master Plan for the Grace Lake area includes this parcel and it is shown as Mixed Use. He said what Jarbou is proposing is not what it’s supposed to be.
“We are entertaining rezoning that and it is contrary to the Master Plan,” Tozer said, adding you can’t rezone against the Master Plan unless you revise the Master Plan first.
Planning Commission chairwoman Carol Thompson told him the commission has studied Mixed Use and it didn’t go forward.
Thompson said they would put changing the Master Plan for that area on the commission’s “to-do” list.
Jarbou’s property was part of a Circuit Court consent judgment that ordered VBT not to treat the two sides of the road differently and a little general commercial should be at that corner.
That was the case of Shukr vs. Van Buren Township. The terms of the consent agreement included approval of a specific site plan for a gas station and convenience store and that the land remains zoned C-Local Business district.
Andrew Pavlosky of Tyler Road asked the commission if something is being planned for the northeast corner of Belleville and Tyler roads. He said he saw men out there measuring and talking about the property, which is near his.
What he wanted to know is if the property reverted to its original Residential zoning after the 2007 rezoning with conditions for a medical center fell through. The agreement was that it would revert back to its original zoning if the project didn’t go forward within two years and it didn’t.
He said in the summer of 2009 he asked Dan Swallow of VBT’s Building and Planning Department, if it had gone back to Residential and he said it had. But now, he said, the land is still listed as Commercial.
“There are all new people at the Developmental Services office and they don’t know,” he said.
Sloan was asked to look into the situation and report back to the planning commission.
By Rosemary K. Otzman