2018-02-15 / Local News

Bingham planners look at agri-tourism

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

The Bingham Township Planning Commission held discussions on a wide range of topics at its regular monthly meeting this month but deferred action in part due to the absence of two members.

The Township Board’s representative on the Planning Commission, trustee Gary McGhee, and the commission’s secretary, attorney Cathy Jasinski, were absent.

According to township zoning administrator Steve Patmore, one of the topics discussed at the Feb. 1 meeting was on standards for retail operations in the township’s agriculture district. The discussion, he said, was prompted by questions from owners of the historic Ruby Ellen Farm, an agri-tourism destination which includes a small store.

Patmore noted that wineries have long been allowed to sell branded wine glasses, tee-shirts and other items common at farm markets, and the Ruby Ellen Farm operation is not much different. He said it was not clear whether any standards will change, but that standards were reviewed because of the recent addition of Ruby Ellen Farm’s store.

Planners also discussed:

 Results of a recent meeting township officials had with representatives of Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc., owners and operators of the Leelanau Trail.

Patmore said that if TART Trails officials want to move create more off-street parking for trail users, a zoning ordinance amendment will be required. He said the Planning Commission may consider such an amendment later this year if TART officials request it.

 A Zoning Ordinance amendment requiring commercial site plans to include a landscaping plan with only non-invasive species of plants.

 Additional changes to provisions outlining the use of signs in the township. A relatively recent U.S. Supreme Court case on free speech rights has caused local municipalities nationwide to take a closer look at local rules for signs.

 A provision allowing solar power arrays in the township.

“Nobody’s really knocking on the door here in Bingham Township to build a utility-grade solar array,” Patmore said, “but we know it’s happening nearby...”

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