2018-09-06 / Views

Township should follow its own zoning ordinance

Glen Arbor residents were surprised and a few were shocked to learn that what’s good for the goose is exempt for the gander.

Residents have been up in arms over the new Glen Arbor Township sign, which seems out-of-touch with a community that embraces a more natural look for its commercialism. In case you haven’t driven through town recently, it’s the sign that, as one resident put it, looks like something out of Gatlinburg.

Now no offense to that gateway city to the Smokies, as Leelanau has learned much from its neon lights and gaudy structures. We’ve learned what we don’t want to become.

The sign bought by the Township Board moves decidedly that direction. It’s big and loud, with words streaming across. It’s too much of a presence during the day and obnoxious at night.

Residents who learn after the fact about township decisions they dislike did what they always do. They turned out to protest.

To the credit of the Glen Arbor Township Board, trustees listened respectfully and turned off the streaming letters, at least for now.

The $26,000 “investment” remains, but is now dormant.

We’ve talked to some folks who see nothing wrong with the sign, and many more who are itching to put it on Craig’s List.

“An infection has started in Glen Arbor, and we do not want to see it become an epidemic,” is how resident Charles Patton put it. He provided a petition with 120 signatures opposing the sign.

We were comforted by the words of trustee Don Lewis, who stepped to the plate.

“I apologize and am motivated to work harder to find a solution.”

That’s leadership.

Residents wanted to know if the sign met the township Zoning Ordinance, and were told by supervisor Peter VanNort that, indeed, the zoning administrator had ruled it legal.

Turns out there wasn’t much to rule on. One portion of the ordinance exempts the township from ... everything.

The question of whether such a get-out-of-jail-free card is legal goes beyond our training. But we do know that the basis for zoning in Michigan relies on the “health, safety and welfare” of the general public.

For that reason and to follow the tenets of good governance, Glen Arbor Township should meet the provisions of its own sign ordinance.

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