Bronson Township’s plan to create a zoning ordinance are dead. The township board in early 2020 named members to Bronson Township Planning Commission, with plans to begin meetings in March to draft an ordinance.
COVID-19 and the lockdown intervened.
“Everything kind of came to a screeching halt,” Township supervisor Ken Carpenter said. “We couldn’t meet face-to-face.”
Some members of the planning commission did not have electronic access for Zoom meetings, Carpenter said.
“Once they started to open things up, there really wasn’t the driving need anymore,” he said. “It didn’t seem like the impetus from the populace was there to really push forward.”
After DTE began looking at wind generation in the northwest corner of Branch County, residents in Bronson Township who opposed wind turbines pushed for zoning regulations.
After Sherwood, Matteson and Batavia adopted strict commercial wind turbine regulations, DTE backed off on its planned projects.
Carpenter pointed out that Bronson Township was not a good location for wind or solar power because it lacked power grid connections and transmission through the township.
“Fortunately, Bronson does not have any lakes,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of the issues that the lake townships have.”
The township is primarily agricultural, with most of its commercial and industrial situated around and in the city of Bronson.
“There’s not much that really pushes the need for heavy zoning rules within Bronson Township,” Carpenter said.
The township contracted with McKenna and Associates, the planning consultant who also represents over half a dozen other Branch County townships, including Matteson and Sherwood.
There was a flat fee of $15,000 to take the township through the passage of its first planning ordinance.
“If it wasn’t coming from the people, there’s nothing I’m going to do to push it through. I don’t have that agenda,” Carpenter said.
Township officials expected to spend another $5,000 to $10,000 more in legal costs. At the time, treasurer Richard Losinski said that did not include payments for the board, creation of a zoning board of appeals, and hiring a zoning administrator.
Most current complaints are handled through friendly persuasion and junk ordinances.
In Branch County, Bronson, California, Noble and Union remain the only ones among the 16 townships that do not have local zoning.
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