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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 12/25/13
Bruce planners suggest
by CHRIS GRAYThe new year may introduce some new changes to limits on towers and buildings in Bruce Township.
Observer Staff Writer
The Bruce Township Planning Commission has recommended amendments to its wireless Internet tower ordinance and accessory building ordinance that would increase height and square footage limits.
The commission voted 6-0 to hold a public hearing on Jan. 22 on whether to increase the height limit of wireless Internet towers from 175 feet to 200 feet through special requests.
Another public hearing on the same date will determine if parcels at 5 acres or more can have an additional 720 square feet for accessory buildings.
Commissioner Bridget Lamberty was not present at the Dec. 18 meeting.
The ordinance came under scrutiny after Solvaris, Inc. applied to build a 200-foot Internet tower on property located at 36 Mile and Hipp roads.
The Planning Commission and Board of Trustees granted approval, but the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied the height variance in August, meaning only a 175-foot tower could be built.
Solvaris appealed the ZBA's decision to the Macomb County Circuit Court in order to gain the extra 25 feet, saying the extra height will negate the need to build additional towers in the township.
The Planning Commission examined the ordinance at the request of the board. Chairman Mike Tremblay said the commission is recommending that anything between 175 feet to 200 feet could be approved through a special land use (SLU). Anything over 200 feet would go to the ZBA, as Federal Aviation Administration regulations require towers over 200 feet to have lighting.
"If it requires a light, let it go to the ZBA and let the ZBA decide whether we'll go over 200 feet," Tremblay said.
SLU requests are reviewed and recommended for approval by the commission to grant exceptions on projects that otherwise go against the zoning ordinance.
Outside of the meeting, Clerk Susan Brockmann said the amendment, if made, could give the township a chance to settle the Solvaris appeal outside of court or have Solvaris re-apply for the 200-foot tower.
Solvaris plans to use the tower, along with repeater antennas and the tower located at the Bruce Township Hall, to broadcast broadband wireless Internet signals.
Room for accessories
Residents with five or more acres may have some more flexibility when seeking to erect accessory buildings on their property.
Commissioner Marq Apel said overall the township is on the smaller side for lot sizes when it comes to bigger parcels when compared to neighboring communities.
He said historically, eight out of 11 SLU requests for deviations to accessory building sizes were approved. Of them, four would've fallen under the new guidelines.
"It seems relatively consistent that what people are coming in for under an SLU would meet the requirements we're proposing," he said.
Trustee Paul Okoniewski said the proposed 720 square feet would add to the total amount of square feet permitted, whether it is for one or more buildings. He said the addition allows for detached garages as well as accessory buildings.
"It was based off of when you have a detached garage, it's counted as an accessory building, but if you have an attached building it's not," he said.
The ordinance currently allows for 2,000 square feet on five acres or more. Parcels that are 10 to 15 acres can go to 2,550 square feet.
Commissioner Ken Scott voted against the public hearing for the accessory building ordinance, saying he didn't care for giving an extra 720 feet.
"If they're going to have an attached four-car garage they're really getting a bonus," Scott said. "That is the way people are building nowadays when they build houses out here."
The commission voted 5-1 to hold the public hearing Jan. 22.
Commissioner James Carnago said the ordinance change wouldn't override any building usage rules put in place by subdivisions or site condominiums that only permit a garage.
For property less than two acres, a building must not exceed 850 square feet. The limit rises to 1,700 on more than two acres.