LOCAL

Antrim Township officials tackle issues

Shawn Hardy

Antrim Township Zoning Officer Sylvia House reviewed a number of township regulations that may need changed or updated during a work session with supervisors Tuesday evening.

This is the first step in a process that will include bringing formal proposals before supervisors and the planning commission and holding a public hearing.

Members of the planning commission also attended and provided input, including some raised voices concerning sign regulations.

The sign discussion was sparked by a recent variance sought and received by Blaise Alexander for signs at the dealership's future location at Exit 3 of I-81.

The issue involved the trademark signs for Volvo and Chevrolet, one of which was higher than permitted and both of which did not meet setback requirements, according to House.

House pointed out the township tried to go simple with the sign ordinance and not try to address every scenario in a 25- to 50-page document.

The planning commission members said the township isn't business-friendly when a trademark sign can't be placed without a variance.

Planner Bob Smith also called limiting signs to 50 square feet "stupid" and said trademark signs for specific businesses (Motel 6, McDonald's) or products (Chevrolet, Volvo) should be considered separately from billboards.

House repeatedly asked for a square footage number, but did not receive a specific figure.

Ultimately, House was asked to contact sign manufacturers concerning typical sizes and heights and to consider proximity to Interstate 81.

"You don't get everything right all the time," Supervisor Fred Young said, referring to the sign ordinance. He also said discussion got heated because it involved "people who really care."

Other issues House brought up include:

n Shared use trails

The shared use trails were originally intended to go from township line to township line along U.S. 11 and Route 16. They are promoted by the county and the state to create walkable communities and promote healthy activities like walking and biking, House explained.

They were to be installed as changes were made or properties were developed. However, questions about the feasibility and practicality were raised as a result of work at Manitowoc in Shady Grove. With a pumpkin farm to the west, the company's requirement would have been "a sidewalk to nowhere," Young said.

House suggested trying to provide the trail connection where most of the population is.

House proposes cutting back the Route 16 portion of the shared trail to run from Grant Shook Road west of Greencastle to Grindstone Hill Road east of Greencastle.

After some discussion, she was directed to have the U.S. 11 portion north of Greencastle go to Brian Drive. The south leg will still continue to State Line.

n Landscaping definition.

There are some concerns that the term landscaping is not defined in green design requirements and some people are interpreting it as grass. House wants to add a definition that includes planting trees and shrubs, but excludes areas of grass.

n Parking and unloading areas.

Township regulations do not address truck courts, where trailers may be stored without cabs or where trucks may sit or be unloaded.

"They need to have their own regulations before we end up with a very large paved truck court," House said.

n Bemisderfer Road, highway commercial to medium density residential.

At one point a section of Bemisderfer Road was rezoned highway commercial. The thinking was that the commercial development could occur on lots that extended to the next road to the west Grindstone Hill Road, where commercial development is encouraged.

"I didn't know my property was rezoned," said Fred Frederick, who asked that 11 properties be zoned to medium density residential.

Frederick said he's talked to some of his neighbors and they agree "we should be residential, that's what we always were."

n Homeowners associations.

House wants to add a line requiring homeowners associations to register their board members and their contact information with the township.

n Developers agreements.

Solicitor John Lisko is suggesting creating agreements that would help both township and developers by outlining issues like plan reviews, inspections and escrow accounts.