Barton Hills Village, Michigan

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February 19, 2009



February 19, 2009

The meeting of the BHV Planning Commission was called to order by Chair Laura Weingartner at 7:32 PM at the Village Hall.

ROLL CALL Present: Commissioners MacKrell, McCabe, Richards, Wallace and Weingartner. Absent: Commissioners Boddie and Nichols. Others present: Consultant Dick Carlisle, ZPA Perry, BHV Long Range Planning Committee Chair Cheryl MacKrell, BHMC President Bultman and Supt. Esch. BHV President Laporte listened via computer. New Commissioners Richards and Wallace were welcomed.


MINUTES Motion The minutes of the November 6, 2008 meeting were approved as printed, with a clarification regarding the last question on page 1. The citizen who asked that question stated “...past minutes indicate that proposed plans [to develop the North 40] were supported and not built due to other factors...” Some of the Commissioners related their participation in past events and their understanding that there were proposals presented and considered but that they were not supported by the residents, particularly by those living adjacent to the North 40. (Richards/McCabe/Passed unanimously)




Master Plan Written comments on Master Plan Draft version 4, provided by Mr. Carlisle and dated January 5, 2009, had been distributed to the Commissioners. Those comments were addressed in Master Plan Draft version 5, as well as comments made in informal discussion by those present on January 8, 2009. Open discussion of version 5 included:

--Additional citation of the statute, including the Master Plan development/approval process, has been added to the introduction.

--The History section is unchanged, and satisfactory.

--Use of the thinking “What, so what, what now?” will be helpful in determining what is important, why it is important, and how it can be expressed meaningfully in the plan.

--The plan should be based on facts rather than opinion.

--Regarding the statement in Sec. 3.4 “...this plan does not anticipate a need to locate any additional commercial services in the Village,” it might be good to support this statement by pointing out the lack of property suitable for commercial development. This was countered by the point that there is such vacant land, but that the community sentiment is for that land to remain as agricultural and open natural area since, as the plan documents, there are more than adequate commercial services available very close to the village. While the land is owned by a private corporation, it would require a majority vote of the corporate stockholders, who also comprise nearly all the village residents, to approve development of the land. It was also noted that this is in harmony with the Ann Arbor Township Master Plan that governs the property across the road and to the north.

--While the Master Plan does not prevent someone from proposing a change in use, it is the first tool in the decision-making process regarding such a proposal.

--The undeveloped land along Whitmore Lake Road might be an eventual location for something that would serve the community, such as a fire station, but a stronger case is being made that preserving these areas is an essential element in the character of the village.

--The foundation laid by the Olmsted design provides the core character of the community in terms of fitting elements into the natural environment and the high priority given by the residents to preservation of natural features.

--The deed restrictions also strongly support the original design. Lots can be subdivided if approved by a shareholder vote, but this has not happened very often. The decision to change a lot is clearly a community rather than an individual choice.

--It seems wise to acknowledge the importance of the deed restrictions, but not to rely on them as a basis for the Master Plan, since they are private agreements. The Master Plan should stand on its own, while not being at odds with the deed restrictions.

--The deed restrictions are very general, and there are appropriate areas governed by them, as well as by the municipal codes. Set backs are a zoning issue, for example.

--The Olmsted history is a strong point and should be reiterated in the Master Plan.

Every goal statement in the plan should be backed up by foundations set in earlier sections.

--The nature of the private roads is a given—a fundamental part of the community—but probably not something that needs to be so specifically addressed in the Master Plan. Sec. 5.5 has more material than necessary and should be revised, and Sec. 6.7 is not needed at all.

--In Sec. 3.7.7 the plan states that “...the dominant species of young hardwoods are white ash...” Given the damage done by the Emerald Ash Borer since the time when the forestry report was written, this isn’t true any more and should be changed.

--The plan refers to “landmark trees” in Sec. 5.4.1 as well as in the last point of Sec. 5.4.4 where it states that “specimen and landmark trees” will be replaced using an “equivalency measure.” Terms like this should be defined, since there is significant variation is what people might think they mean. “Preserve” and “protect” have the same difficulty.

--A glossary of terms could be added, although that is not standard in other Master Plans. The last point of Sec. 5.4.4 should probably be deleted, since this seems to be an item more appropriately addressed in the zoning code.

The process requires that the Master Plan be sent to the BHV Board of Trustees for review and returned to the Planning Commission with any comments, then distributed to other surrounding jurisdictions who have 63 days to make comments. Following would be the Public Hearing. The Commissioners have added the extra elements of posting the plan on the village website and distributing it via the Barton Bulletin to provide additional opportunity for public input during the 63 day period before the Public Hearing. It was agreed this was a valuable step that should be included in the process.

Mr. Carlisle was asked to review Master Plan draft version 5 again, and relate any suggestions/comments he might have, especially about specific wording in the document. An updated version reflecting this evening’s discussion as well as Mr. Carlisle’s subsequent input will be distributed a week before the next Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Carlisle will also work on the necessary maps for the plan.


Amendment to Planning Commission Rules A draft of changes proposed for the Planning Commission Rules was distributed with the agenda. Most of the changes are necessary due to the new Michigan Planning Act that became effective in September 2008 and now governs the operation of the Planning Commission. Other changes include the expansion of the Commission membership from five to seven and fewer required meeting dates. Since the current rules require 15 day notice for amendment, no vote can be taken at this time, but the proposed amendments will be discussed at the next meeting. It was suggested that the 15 day notice be changed in the rules to 7 days.

Commission Meeting Dates The Commissioners support a change in the regular meeting dates that will allow for greater participation. Every other month was suggested, beginning with March 2009. The meeting scheduled for March 5, 2009 will be rescheduled for March 19, 2009, at which time a new meeting schedule for the remainder of 2009 will be presented for adoption.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:03 PM (MacKrell/Richards/Passed unanimously).

Janice K. Esch, Assistant Secretary     Approved 3/19/09