An Environmental Protection section
At the joint township Planning Commission meeting of April 24th,
a draft of an Environmental Protection section for the revised
Zoning Ordinance was presented by the so-called Egg Lake Seven.
To get the ball rolling this group of concerned citizens did some
research on which sites were the most obviously in need of protection,
and asked themselves what kind of protection was needed for each
of the twenty-four targeted areas. CMU was asked to help, which
they did by providing color-coded maps of Beaver Island showing
these areas, ranked as to the severity of danger.
The Sevens sample ordinance was distributed, with copies
of the map, to the five members of each Planning Commission and
to others, such as Realtor Ed Wojan, who has provided much practical
input during the ongoing zoning ordinance and master plan revision.
Township attorney Keven Elsonheimer and Tip of the Mitt planner
Chris Grobbel, who were in attendance, also had a few hours to
look over these documents.
From the comments, it quickly became obvious that Beaver Island
was at the cutting edge of the movement to create local protection
for environmental concerns. One of the reasons not much has been
done in this field, in Michigan and elsewhere, is the difficulty
of 1) accurately defining the terms we use to describe our often
emotional intentions; 2) the potential legal problems that await
community entry into any new area; and 3) the questions about
enforcement responsibilities of the various government agencies.
One of the first problems to be pointed out was that the sample
ordinance was so generalized that it would limit development on
essentially every square inch of the Island. This objection was
met by suggesting an overlay map be provided, with the ordinance
only referring to indicated areas. It was also pointed out that
the Shoreline Protection Zone, Wetlands' rules, and the Sand Dunes
Zone already served to protect some of the areas on the map. Another
concern was that the townships might be sued for taking
the land to fall under this ordinance. And people wondered if
and how the Island's State Land would be affected.
After an hour, one audience member thought that only a few parts
of the Island needed this kind of protection. Another pointed
out that it might be simpler and less expensive to target these
areas for purchase by conservation groups. Still another suggestion
was to require every piece of property to submit a site plan for
review before anything could be done; this would give the Planning
Commissions the chance to see if environmental fragility would
In an interesting aside, one of the PC members said he had just
been up in a plane for five hours, taking 80 digital pictures
of over 25 zoning violations that were apparent from the air.
At the end of this two-hour meeting, everyone on the PCs and in
the audience felt that, thanks to the Seven, they had a greater
understanding of the problem and the difficulties of solving it.
It was moved to develop a proposal to make to both Township Boards,
asking them to sanction the continuing investigation of this situationpossibly
by funding the hiring of an expert to look into our problem and
suggest how it can best be addressed.
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