At the October 10, 2017 Oakland Township Board meeting, the board voted, in a 6 to 1 vote, to send the draft Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance 16) back to the Planning Commission to consider the comments made by citizen’s during several previous meetings. Trustee Mangiapani was the sole dissenting vote.
The Board listed the areas of the draft zoning ordinance they wanted the Planning Commission to revisit. The Board did not provide input whether they thought anything needed to be changed, or how it should change. The Planning Commission is not obligated to restrict their re-review to those areas. However, it was clear that the Board was not looking for wholesale changes to the draft Ordinance.
Here are the areas the Board asked the Planning Commission to revisit:
- 303 B- Location of accessory buildings
- 306 D3- Class 3 animals
- 312 E – Minimum Floor space
- 331 – Outdoor storage
- 111 – Penalties for violation
- 343 – Test Plan
- 505 – Bed and Breakfast
- 323 – Home based business
Here is a link to the draft Zoning Ordinance:
Draft Ordinance 16 – Zoning Ordinance
During the public comment portion of the October 10th discussion, several residents continued to argue that the Ordinance was an infringement of their property rights. One individual was upset when he read the limits of the lot sizes that were permitted. He apparently had purchased the property with the intent to divide it. He argued that the draft ordinance would reduce the value of his property. It turns out that the lot size restriction that is in the Draft Ordinance has been in the EXISTING Ordinance for over 40 years, long before when he purchased his property. This is just one example of how incorrect, or false statements, impact the objective understanding of the Zoning Ordinance.
A letter from Libby Dwyer, one of our residents, does a very good job explaining the benefits of having a good Zoning Ordinance. Here is the letter that was read at the October 10th meeting:
“My husband and I live on 10 acres at 1234 Lake George Road in the northern section of the township. We are surrounded by acres of open land. This is both a blessing and a curse because while we enjoy the privacy and freedom of our seclusion, the future development of our neighbor’s vacant property is unknown. That is why we are grateful for a definitive zoning ordinance.
I can’t speak for the southern part of the township but around here folks enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting, snowmobiling, horseback riding and much more. Some of us raise crops and keep poultry, goats, cattle, sheep and horses. The ordinances that govern these activities are important. They ensure the safety of people and animals and set standards so that the habits of one neighbor does not adversely effect the property value of another.
The concerns that some citizens have expressed regarding government overreach through our ordinances seems over-reactionary to me. In my experience, the zoning officers in Oakland Township, especially in the past 8 years, don’t go driving around looking for things to write up. I assume that they have better things to do.
Take a short drive north into other townships “in the country” and you can see the downfalls of what happens when there are poorly defined zoning laws &/or a lack of enforcement. Living in the country looses its charm when your neighbor has broken and rusted equipment and falling-down buildings. Or, visit the communities adjacent to our Township to see the effects of urban sprawl and loss of open spaces and rural atmosphere. This is why I am proud to live in Oakland township. It is a community that has an excellent reputation for ensuring reasonable growth through thoughtful and appropriate planning. I applaud the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for their efforts and diligence in this process.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? There may be some valid Zoning issues raised by citizens during the discussions regarding the Draft Ordinance. The Board has properly directed the Planning Commission to look at those areas. A ‘melt and re-pour’approach, that some residents are recommending, is not in the best interest of our Township. Years of experience and resident input has gone into the evolving document. As one proponent of a massive change to the Ordinance stated:
“As long as we have wonderful neighbors” there is no need for ordinances!
She may have ‘wonderful’ neighbors now, and in the future, but there is no guarantee that she, nor any other Oakland Township resident, will always have wonderfull neighbors.
Hence the need for a good zoning ordinance!
The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for WEDNESDAY, November 8, 2017 at 7PM. The location is the Township Hall on Collins Road.