Having spent more than a year working on revisions and updates to the township’s zoning ordinance, Eureka Township Planning Commission Chairman Duane Putnam was excited to reach a resolution Wednesday evening.
After numerous meetings in which members of the commission discussed every element of the 257-page ordinance, members of the Commission voted unanimously Wednesday evening to recommend approval of the updated ordinance to the Eureka Township Board.
“We did it,” Township Supervisor and Zoning Administrator Darcia Kelley said in excitement. “Thank you Planning Commission members for all of your work on this and for all of the many minutes and hours spent on it. We will do our first reading (by the Township Board) at the next board meeting in April, and hopefully the ordinance is adopted in May.”
However, before recommending approval, Putnam expressed his disbelief at the site that sat before him – three rows of empty chairs.
Aside from a Daily News reporter, no members of the public were present for a public hearing held on the ordinance.
With changes to wind energy systems, solar energy, fencing regulations and more, Putnam said he believed there would have been at least one member of the public present given the attendance witnessed at other planning commission meetings throughout Montcalm County.
“I thought we would at least have one or two people in the audience,” he said. “All of the other townships are having so many people (attend). Of course, they have the wind and solar energy things going on, but it’s been appearing that people have been watching their local governments a little more. I thought maybe we’d have a little more of our public here, but nothing. So not having anyone here for our public hearing, I will close the public hearing.”
The details of the entire revised ordinance, which is known as “Ordinance 79” and contains all of the township’s zoning laws, is posted on the township’s website at eurekatownshipmi.gov.
As far as not having many people in attendance, the commission previously discussed the wind energy section of the ordinance in detail in August of last year, which saw at least 10 people in attendance.
At that time, five member of the audience spoke out with concerns regarding wind turbines while displaying satisfaction with how the ordinance had been reworked to address them, with stipulations including a maximum turbine height of 300 feet and setback of no less than four times the tip height of the turbine.
The only change made to the ordinance during Wednesday’s meeting came at the request of Vice Chairman Marty Posekany, who asked that the sound limit on solar farms be reduced from 55 dB(A) Lmax to 55, to be in line with the requirement for wind turbines.
“Yes, it should be the same thing, absolutely,” Putnam said in agreement.
The only other item of discussion that came forward was the name of the ordinance itself.
“It should be identified that this is a draft review and update of zoning ordinance 79,” Putnam said.
“What is the significance of number 79?” Township Board Liaison Kristen Lower asked.
To this question, no one had an answer, other than the name should remain the same.
“If this were a brand new ordinance then we would be changing numbers also, but since this is a revision, it remains the same under 79,” Putnam said.
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