Crystal Township Board exploring ordinance variance requests

Posted by Cory Smith • Last Updated 9:59 am on Thursday, August 14 2014

Crystal Township Board members, from left, Trustee Kurt McCracken, Treasurer Ted Padgett, Supervisor Chris Johnston, Clerk Bob Naumann and Trustee Jason Anderson, discuss the possibility of exploring township-wide trash pickup. — Daily News/Cory Smith


CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — Apparently the second time’s the charm when it comes to implementing a variance procedure for land ordinances in this township.

Just one month ago, Crystal Township Board members voted down a resolution 2-3 — with Supervisor Chris Johnston, Trustee Jason Anderson and Treasurer Ted Padgett opposed — to have the township’s attorney include a variance procedure in all three of the township’s land division ordinances.

But that motion was revisited and discussed again Wednesday evening, this time with the opposite outcome, as a resolution passed 3-2 in favor, with Johnston and Padgett opposed again.

Township residents will now have the opportunity to request a variance for the three ordinances: ordinance 9, the “division of platted lots” ordinance; ordinance 10, the “land division” ordinance; and ordinance 16, the “lot size and access” ordinance, if board members approve the variance procedure to be drafted by the township’s attorney.

“Our attorney has looked at our ordinances and says there is nothing drastically wrong with them, but there are some examples of some simple situations where the ordinances have prevented land sales,” Clerk Bob Naumann said. “A variance will allow that to take place.”

Naumann said the opportunity for variances could “open up a can of worms” for residents to flood the board with variance requests, but added, “not everything in life is black and white and this is one of those situations.”

Padgett was concerned about who will be on the newly implemented “variance board” and how those situations would be handled. Naumann said at this time nothing official is being adopted, just the opportunity for the attorney to draft a variance, which the board could still vote down if the board “is not happy with it.”

Johnston said he was against the measure due to his concern with the possibility of the “can of worms” situation. According to Johnston, currently the minimum size for property lots in Crystal Township is 1,200 feet, which he believes to be fairly small as it stands.

“With all of our small lots around Crystal Lake, I really didn’t want to open up a can of worms with this,” he said. “I just think we’re going to get a lot of people that will want to split lots that are already pretty small already. We’ve got lots of lakeside lots that are already 50 feet wide. I just don’t want people trying to build homes on too small of lots.”


Township trash

Board members also discussed, but took no action, on the topic of township-wide trash pickup.

Currently, residents can choose to hire private trash pickup if they desire, or go without any form of trash pickup.

However, board members say that situation has lead to areas of the township becoming littered with trash, especially in areas such as city parks where trash receptacles are present but not designed for trash from residence homes.

Naumann said other municipalities such as Belvidere Township have implemented township-wide trash pickup through a township millage of 2 mills.

But board members expressed concern with that idea due to so many property owners only living in the Crystal Township area during the summer months.

“I don’t think there would be an option for people to opt out of it (if it was township-wide),” Johnston said. “I think it’s something that needs to be voted on, and if there’s support for it, we could move forward.”

Naumann added that the Belvidere Township clerk said the millage for trash pickup was “the best thing that ever happened” to their township.

“I don’t disagree that it would be good for everybody to have trash pickup, but my thought process is we need to figure out how we would do that and what the approximate cost would be,” he said.


In other matters, the township board …

• Unanimously approved a request to improve the salary of Sewer Manager Scott Brundage from $4,000 annually to $5,000 after a positive performance review.

• Took no action on a request from the Road Commission for Montcalm County to gravel a portion of Senator Road that had been washed out for $2,436.

• Voted 4-1, with Anderson opposed, to accept a retainer agreement with McGraw Morris PC.

• Voted unanimously to allow an anonymous person to place a flag pole with an American flag in Burke Cemetery.

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