L’Anse planning panel proposes zoning changes

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette James Ekdahl, far left, was the lone member of the public who attended the L’Anse Township Planning Commission public hearing on Tuesday night.

L’ANSE — The L’Anse Township Planning Commission unanimously approved changes to the zoning ordinances which will now be sent to the Township Board for final approval.

The changes include the procedure for selecting members of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), as well as specifics on the granting of special land use permits by the Township Board.

The ZBA will be made up of five members, each appointed by the Township Board. One member will be a liaison from the Planning Commission, and the others will be “selected from the electors of the township residing within the zoning jurisdiction of the township.

“To me, that means people outside the village,” said Roy Kemppainen, commission chairman.

Wallace “Buddy” Sweeney agreed the language seemed to indicate that only those residing in the township but outside the village could be appointed to the board.

The ordinance also allows up to one member of the board to serve on the ZBA, but not as chairperson.

As it is now, the board itself acts as the ZBA, which does not comply with Michigan law, mandating the change.

A application for a special land use permit would require a public hearing, followed by a recommendation for approval, denial, or approval with conditions by the Planning Commission to the Township Board.

“The final decision would be going to the Township Board,” Kemppainen said.

The ordinances already include required standards for making decisions on special land use permits, which will not be changed. The requirements include protections for surrounding properties, and consideration of fire, police and utility resource availability.

Special land use permits issued by the township are valid for a year from the date of issue but can be extended for another year by the zoning administrator if unforeseen difficulties with development can be demonstrated.

The board will review the ordinances at its next meeting, at 4 p.m. on Feb. 13 in the Township Hall.