HARBERT — Discussions on lakefront revetments and a possible increase in the fee for rental property registrations were two of the main agenda items during the Dec. 10 Zoom meeting of the Chikaming Township Board.
It was noted that for the better part of the year the members of the board have engaged on the topic of the placement of revetments along the shoreline. Having passed a resolution pertaining to that issue, and putting related policies and procedures in place, the next step would be the composition of an ordinance that would contain language banning certain revetment structures from the township.
A motion to engage environmental attorney Scott Howard to assist in the development of an ordinance pertaining to revetments received unanimous support during the Dec. 10 meeting.
Supervisor David Bunte noted that presently the township doesn’t have much of a say on revetment issues unless they happen to involve critical dunes.
“In 2021 we’ll be working with the University of Michigan, Michigan Tech and possibly Michigan State to try to find out how to manage this better,” Bunte said. “We have the possibility of getting a grant through EGLE (the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) to try to bring all of this together.”
Trustee Rich Sullivan said that he greatly appreciated the fact that Bunte got on this issue so quickly.
In the meantime township officials indicated they will continue to try to strike a balance between those who seek to protect the beaches and the public’s access to them, and the lakefront homeowners seeking to protect their properties.
“We need to move forward with these checks and balances,” Clerk Paula Dudiak commented.
While the matter was eventually tabled, there was another lengthy discussion on the topic of a possible future increase in rental registration fees which could rise from the current $50 initial registration fee followed by $25 annual payments to an initial $300 fee and $300 annual renewal fees.
Bunte said he felt the current fees were unsustainable moving forward because of the costs to the township to oversee the Rental Ordinance that was instituted in the winter of 2018 and is overseen by the building department, police department and code enforcement.
He went on to say that the suggested increase in fees would allow the township to hire Granicus, a company that would serve to assist the major aspects of the rental program.
Sullivan said he was uncomfortable participating in a vote on the matter during the meeting commenting, “We created this situation, and now we are being asked to farm out to someone else the management of the situation we created.”
Sullivan also noted that the proposal by Granicus was over 50 pages long, and that it raised many questions he would like answers to.
Prior to the issue being tabled until the Township Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 20, Bunte said he would follow Sullivan’s recommendation that a special virtual meeting be scheduled with a representative from Granicus so all pertinent questions could be asked and answered.
In another Dec. 10 matter, an update on the Union Pier/Red Arrow Highway Redevelopment Project noted that pavement markings on the highway in the immediate Union Pier area are now in a three-lane configuration. Also, that the road work paving there is not entirely complete and an additional layer of asphalt will be paved on all roadway surfaces in the spring.
When work resumes in 2021 additional related projects will include sidewalks, the non-motorized pathway and landscaping.
In a related item, a motion to engage Wightman and Associates as the consulting engineering firm on a proposed streetscaping project and other improvements to the Harbert business district passed unanimously.
Bunte said any work there would probably not begin there until 2022 at an estimated cost of $600,000 to $900,000.
Also on the Dec. 10 agenda, there was unanimous consent on a motion to accept the recommendations of the Road Advisory Committee for 2021 road work projects in the township that will be done by the Berrien County Road Department for a total cost of $531,716.
The two largest projects will be a 1.51 mile section of Lakeshore Road from Pier Road to Red Arrow Highway; and a 2.15 mile section of Minnich Road from West Kaiser Road to Sawyer Road.
A motion to accept the costs of $2,900 and $2,000 for two appraisals of the Cherry Beach Project property required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund received unanimous approval.
It is expected they will be completed within 30-45 days.
Finally, a recommendation by members of the Park Board to appoint Harbert resident Jocelyn Verlee and Sawyer resident Steven Ellis to two vacant positions was followed with a motion that passed 4-1.
Sullivan was the lone dissenting vote, saying he felt Joseph Reed should have been one of the appointments due to his experience of serving eight years on the Park Board.