2011 and Earlier / News

Kasson Board, not planners, would make gravel 'need' decision

A public hearing is set for Monday, Feb. 13 on a zoning amendment that would give the Kasson Township Board authority to determine whether there is a “need” to open additional properties up for gravel extraction.

The Township Board met in special session Monday night, and directed its attorney to prepare an amendment to the 12th chapter of the zoning ordinance. The move comes three weeks after the township Planning Commission failed to recommend approval of language that would address recent changes in state law governing mining.

In November the planners recommended approval of an amendment that reflected Public Act 113 of 2011. The proposal required a property owner to demonstrate a “market need” or “non-market-need” for gravel in the area to have a property rezoned. However, the township planners took that version off the table after the Leelanau County Planning Commission sent back the proposed ordinance with suggestions that it be made more “reader friendly.”

Then the township Planning Commission couldn’t get past the second version of the first amendment that described how applicants would demonstrate “need” for the product as required by the ordinance.

“Need” would be demonstrated by the applicant showing a “commercial need to satisfy a current and ongoing requirement by an active business or a present commercial need by purchaser of such natural resources from the applicant’s property,” the proposed ordinance reads.

The most recent proposal, to be considered at the Feb. 13 hearing, would require that the Township Board make the final determination as to whether “need” has been proven for the resource.

Township Board members are expected to have a rough draft of the new language available for comment at their next regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

The change in approach comes after Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Power directed attorneys for the township and township resident Edith Kyser to work together to determine how best to proceed with her long-standing request to rezone property outside the existing gravel extraction district.

Kyser filed suit in 2004 after the township denied her request. Power ruled in her favor. However, the township appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court which overturned the lower court ruling last summer.

Within a month after the decision, the state legislature approved Public Act 113, which was aimed at reducing local control over the removal of a natural resources. Kyser’s attorney asked that Power reinstate his original decision.

“I’ll be waiting to hear from you,” Power said. “Sorry, it’s a mess.”

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