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Beacon Archive

May 2004
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News from the Townships

St. James Town Board
On April 7, 2004, the Town Board held a brief meeting, with only 3 members attending and 4 in the audience–yet some interesting information was revealed. All but one Township employee will receive a 2% COLA raise, the one being the Harbormaster, whose workload is anticipated to drop because tentative plans are to close the dock around July 1st in order for construction to start. $13,000 has been pegged as the cost to operate the sewer system for a year; “use rates should cover the expense.” As expected, the new Zoning Ordinance was approved and will go into effect 7 days after publication in a newspaper. Another topic on the list for immediate revisions: driveway width and turn-around capabilities (for emergency vehicles.)

The event of the evening was a request by Liam Racine for approval of his attempt to get a seasonal liquor license for the Stoney Acre Grill. He assured the Board he and his wife Marilyn had no intention to make it into a bar, that they only wanted to be able to serve drinks with food, and that they might set aside one table, at most, where people waiting to be seated could have a drink. He said their dream has always been to have a little bistro, and that in the future they may add a formal dining room upstairs.
Joe Moore, Stoney Acre’s neighbor, was there to say he and Phyllis were not in favor of this. He pointed out that when the restaurant opened it was supposed to provide a fence and a greenbelt. The fence was built, but it fell down, and the greenery was never installed. Liam promised to rebuild the fence immediately and get to work on the greenbelt. The request was consequently approved.

Supervisor Don Vyse brought up three letters. The Road Commission had proposed a county-wide millage to raise funds for roads, but the townships had started squabbling and no agreement was reached. (At present St. James levies 1 mill; 3 townships already levy 2 mills.) Prosecutor Mary Beth Kur had outlined the methods for invoking the Freedom of Information Act and using it to obtain data. And Joe Moore wrote to say that the EMS needed more money–a matter that will be studied.

Peaine Town Board
The April 14, 2004, Township Meeting saw a resolution giving the Township the authority for a bond for the East Side Fire Hall. Although this will obligate the Township to payments over the next 30 years, Trustee Paul Nelson said that in his past experience bond issues were frequently paid off early.
The new Zoning Ordinance was approved for publication in a newspaper, after which it will go into effect. Language for proposed millage renewals this summer was approved, as was the annual budget–but only after Trustee Judy Lanier went on record as saying that she wanted the Board to continue to search for ways to improve Beaver Island roads and to expand the miles and applications of dust control. Supervisor Works indicated that he planned to work with the Township Engineer to investigate all of the Township's options for improving the roads.

A letter was distributed in which an attorney for the residents of Mike Boyle's Beach suggested Peaine Township orchestrate an abandonment of the extension to the beach of the Mike Boyle's Beach Road, in exchange for funds it could use to upgrade the difficult access to Little Sand Bay. The Board was not receptive to this, thinking that even if it were legal, it still might establish a dangerous precedent.

EMS Chairman Joe Moore read his letter to the Board. He said that the loss of so many paramedics in the past year or so had put him in a situation where he was on call 24/7, and had to handle all of the EMS's functions and obligations (such as arranging for training.) To provide himself a break from the constant stress, he was going to turn over his duties to Vice-chairman Jerry LaFreniere on May 1st, help Jerry until June, and then leave the Island for a month for a long-overdue vacation. In the discussion that followed it was pointed out that the EMS and the Fire Department are supposed to be regulated by the Emergency Services Authority, but no one has yet been appointed to that two-man board.

The Planning Commission offered to work on a draft of a Nuisance Ordinance for the Town Board's consideration. It would start with the one enacted in St. James and make changes to reflect Peaine's different issues. It will also look at the sample draft put together by the Michigan Township Association.
Paul Nelson reported that at a Charlevoix Chapter of Township Officials, many comments were made about the difficulties of the Road Commission, which sounded familiar: “They'll listen to our grievances, but their response is always the same: ‘We don't have any money’.” Very little gas tax money gets up here, it was said, because an overwhelming preponderance goes to Oakland and Wayne Counties. The County Commissioners feel a motel tax would be self-defeating, and a local gas tax raises legal questions.

On a personal note Nelson said he was tired of having his mailbox knocked down by the snowplow; he thought the plow went too fast, and the goal of keeping 3 lanes open on the East Side Drive was overly ambitious.

Treasurer Tina Morgan has been following the rules by obtaining warrants to collect unpaid personal property taxes from three Island businesses.

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