Planning & Zoning Mtg Quarterly Minutes January 2019


JANUARY 9, 2019


ROLL CALL AND RECOGNITION OF VISITORS:  Bette Gabe, Chairperson; Keith Erickson,

Township Board Representative; Dorothy Nankervis, Trustee; Jay Loman, Trustee; Mary Deline, Trustee; Linnea Barron, Secretary.  Visitors:  Wayne Abba, Tim Malloy, Heather Stiebe, Nancy Hahn, Jim Hahn, Whitey Soli, Nancy Soli, Sue Bollech, Joe Bollech.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:  Dorothy made a motion, seconded by Mary, all approved.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Two documents needed motions:  Quarterly meeting from October, a blank space was filled in by members and that was the company name of Batelle, a company that does environmental impact statements.  There was another blank that was decided was unnecessary and was crossed out – fee for building permits.  Keith made a motion to accept the minutes, seconded by Mary, all approved.  The second document was a work session meeting minutes in November.  Dorothy made a motion to accept the minutes, seconded by Mary, all approved.

SCHEDULED PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Ken Anderson was not present tonight and assumption is there are no public hearings scheduled.

PUBLIC COMMENT:  Jim Hahn voiced his concern about who we are serving, the citizens/taxpayers in this community and their interests and needs or the corporate interests of companies (foreign companies) who are subsidized by the government for industrial development of industries such as the wind turbines.  He has genuine concern that we keep in mind who we serve.

Wayne Abba stated that in the Mining Gazette there is an article that the RES (wind turbine company) has put on hold its Summit project until after the referendum in May.  Wayne stated this was good news.  He also mentioned that Burt Mason could not attend tonight but wanted everyone to know about the View Shed project that the Friends of the Huron Mountains (FOHM) had contracted with Michigan Tech to do.  This is a projection of the proposed wind turbine project from L’Anse Township that shows in a 25 mile radius the view of the wind turbines from 279 feet up.  The purpose is to see how visible the wind turbines will be from locations around the area, given an address it will show how visible the turbines are.  This will be available on-line and also Burt will do a presentation of this for anyone who requests to see it.  Burt has also produced a scale model of a wind turbine for a comparison to surrounding buildings, trees, people, etc.

Whitey Soli brought up the fine imposed on people who build structures without a permit that was approved in the October quarterly meeting.  At that meeting we imposed a fee that would be 2 ½ times for second offense.  Whitey feels this is too lenient and should be the initial penalty once discovered that a permit was absent.  If a second occurance should happen with same homeowner, he felt the penalty should be much stiffer.  This was not resolved and after discussion, we will table this until the next meeting.  Whitey also brought up the what he called the “shoebox homes” or tiny homes and the interest in them.  Jay Loman stated that maybe we should try to accommodate these homes by reducing our minimum square footage.  Whitey stated that the requirement for well/septic be code and also a foundation be present which makes it taxable.  Our square footage is 480 feet.   We do not address tiny homes in our present Ordinance as we felt that we would stick to our present 480 square footage for minimum size of home.  At this meeting no changes were made, but open for further discussion.



  1. Progress of our the new zoning maps for the Ordinance.  Bette informed us that the maps are in the hands of Steve Rouser, from UPER, who is working on them.  He had sent what he had done for review and Bette, Linnea and Ken met to do this.  We made 12 revisions on the maps and they are now back with Steve.  Some of the revisions include points of interest, colors, readable road names and legends. 
  2. Land Use Plan.  We met for a work session on this and went through the whole plan and made corrections where needed, updating information and still in need of demographic information from census reports.  There are no changes to the general body of the plan as the whole theme is protecting the environment that we have, our trees, watersheds, bodies of water, streams, as this is what draws so many to our community.  Bette stated that in 2020 there will be a new census and we may wait until then to get the plan totally updated and would involve public involvement again as to what they would want for this community.  The land use plan will also need public hearings for approval.
  3. Utility wind turbines – discussion for possible amendments to existing zoning.
    1. Do we propose a height limit?  Wayne Abba offered that the FAA has a concern on height and have to consult with state and tribe.  Commission members feel that a limit needs to be set and height of 250 feet or 300 feet was discussed. Mary made a motion to set a height limit of 300 feet and that is from the top of the blade, seconded by Jay.  Vote was 4-2  with Bette and Linnea voting no, (preferred 250 feet).  Motion carried.
    1. Propose expanding distance from waters edge of Lake Superior from 5 miles at our prior meeting to 10 miles or any number in between?  Bette had spoken with an attorney versed in the wind turbines and he advised that we can set a distance of 5-10 miles from Lake Superior shores.  We needed to be careful not to zone out into the next township.  After examining a map, Jay made a motion to change our previous 5 mile distance to a 7 mile distance from the water edge of Lake Superior, seconded by Keith, all approved, motion carried.
    1. Require a combination of built-in fire detection and fire suppression system for each turbine.  At our previous meeting in October we approved requiring a fire suppression system for each wind turbine.  Research showed that a fire detection and fire suppression system would serve our needs better.  Whitey mentioned that the DNR is responsible for any forest fires that includes those started by wind turbines.  Our own fire department does not have the resources to fight forest fires.  Jim Hahn also mentioned that these companies replant with red pine that would just add to the fire hazard.  Jay made a motion, seconded by Keith, to require a combination fire detection and fire suppression system in each wind turbine, all approved, motion carried.  The company Firetrace was proposed as one to use.
    1. Require spacing of utility turbines be a least 1-2 miles apart from one another:

We discussed this and did not have all the information we needed, is it legal, etc. We tabled this until more research can be made.



  1. Correspondence received:  None.
  2. Planning commission members:  None.
  3. Members of the audience:  Jim Hahn mentioned that these companies defoliate on a yearly basis using poisonous substances like Roundup, and could we include in our Ordinance only manual removal of vegetation, no spraying.

Heather Stiebe asked about what is the disposal for oil leaks, etc., from the turbines and that would be the responsibility of the wind turbine company.

Wayne Abba asked if we had a bond amount for the removal of the turbines.  This would include removal and recycling, not disposing of the turbines on site.

Wayne stated that FOHM can share their maps with us.  Also there is a future school seminar program on governance that includes the referendum process and how it works. Along with that, past referendums on wind turbines were 18 to 0 in favor of the referendums.





a. Setting public hearings, if needed.

DISCRETIONARY PUBLIC COMMENT:  Bette brought up dark sky – stargazing – and something that people really enjoy around here and why so many tourists love coming to this area.  Bette commented that when they had the cabins that their guests just laid on blankets watching the night sky, stargazing, watching an aurora borealis.  There are not many forest areas down state, making this area so attractive for tourists.  Wayne stated a concern that L’Anse Township is imposing the view of the wind turbines on us as we are the community that will see them.

Additional comment made that there will be a substantial tax benefit for Baraga County from the energy plant in Pelkie.

NEXT QUARTERLY MEETING DATE – April 10, 2019.   The planning commission felt it was necessary to have another work session to work on the Land Use Plan and updates on the Ordinance.  The date is February 6, 2019 at 6 p.m. at the fire hall. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Dorothy made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Jay.  Time of 7:23 p.m.

Submitted by Linnea Barron, Secretary