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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/25/13
Bruce tower ordinance
to come under scrutiny
by CHRIS GRAYAs an Internet provider prepares to build a tower in Bruce Township, the restrictions on such towers could change in the coming months.
Observer Staff Writer
The Bruce Township Board of Trustees agreed on Sept. 18 to have the Planning Commission make a recommendation on whether the township's tower height ordinance should be amended.
Bruce Township-based company Solvaris, Inc. is seeking court action against the township for the Zoning Board of Appeal's (ZBA) denial of a variance that would permit a 200-foot tower. The township's ordinance allows for towers 175 feet or below.
In the meantime, Solvaris has received approval from the Board of Trustees to build a 175-foot tower on property near 36 Mile Road and Hipp Road.
Matt Lauer, owner of Solvaris, said the height is needed to broadcast a wireless Internet signal better. He has stated the shorter tower would likely require another tower to be installed in the northwest portion of the township.
Supervisor Richard Cory said he wanted to formally request that the Planning Commission re-examine the ordinance, saying Addison Township has its height limit at 200 feet.
"One of the reasons that the ZBA gave was they want to keep the place rural, and rural is getting real blurred for me because I see towers all over the area," he said.
Trustee Paul Okoniewski, the board's representative on the Planning Commission, said the commission did examine the ordinance last month but decided to leave it be after learning Bruce's height limit is taller than those in surrounding communities.
"We're 50 feet higher than most every surrounding township, and it goes lower," he said. "Shelby Township is only 100 (feet)."
He said regardless of voting in favor of the 200-foot tower, he didn't want the township caving to pressure due to Solvaris filing an appeal.
Treasurer Deborah Obrecht said in speaking with two Planning Commission members she learned some of the commissioners didn't know that other towers in the township are above the limit.
"I think it's important to realize that the Michigan State Police tower, which once again is like a cursory review, they're at 500 feet," she said.
Okoniewski said those previous towers are what caused the height ordinance to change in the first place to 175 feet.
The Planning Commission originally made a recommendation in June to approve of the special land use request for installing the 200-foot tower pending approval from the ZBA on the height.
The ZBA denied the height variance, saying it doesn't stop Solvaris from installing a 175-foot tower and that the larger tower would detract from the rural atmosphere.
A decision by the ZBA can only be changed through court action in the circuit court.