Procedural shift

Committee communication debated

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Township Board will be changing the way its committees and departments report their progress.

During its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the board discussed different ways to provide direction to committees as well as improved reporting practices.

One of the central points of discussion was an upcoming public hearing date that had been scheduled by the Planning Commission.

A letter from Township Trustee John Markes took specific issue with hearings that will be held Wednesday for the purpose of of the proposed zoning text amendments to define and regulate short-term rentals, tiny homes and accessory structure types, because he felt the board had not been formally informed of the committee’s progress or intent.

“These issues would be of important interest to many of our citizens, and most of the casual followers of township activity will assume that when a public hearing has been scheduled it has the tacit support of the board,” Markes’s letter states.

Township Supervisor Lyn Durant said uniform reporting practices from township committees and departments were necessary to keep the board and the public informed.

“I have troubles with the liaisons and reports and not getting any kind of communications from some of these folks,” Durant said. “We have 21 committees and that doesn’t include more than a half a dozen of legislative groups like the DDA and the Board of Review. Our people should know what is going on with these committees, and if they are meeting on a regular basis, we need to know about it. My whole argument is, these committees are arms of the board, we are supposed to be directing them on what to do. Whether that’s the planning commission, or the rec committee. I just want to make sure that we are being told what is being worked on out there, and I am looking for help on how to encourage that.”

Markes asserted everything should start with the board.

“The board are the elected officials who should be indicating policy and indicating what they would like committees to work on,” Markes said. “Committees need to be communicated with, that if they have something that they suggest that they work on, they come back and ask the board — talk to the board about it, and see what the board’s feeling is. Because the board can’t have a wild cannon out there, you just can’t.”

Clerk Randy Ritari said suggested the best way to work with the committees would be to communicate prior to setting up an agenda for the work the township wants to accomplish in that year.

“I think our plan of work for the following year should include the committees,” Ritari said, “And they should tell us what is going on and we can tell them whether to continue that course for that year, or what we would like them to work on for that year. “

Trustee David Weigand, who also serves on the Planning Commission and Road Committee, said he did not agree with some assertions of other board members.

“I guess I am going to take exception with some of the things that have been said here. With respect to the road and rec committees, I would challenge any member of the board to point out anything those committees have done that the board has not been asked about first,” Weigand said. “They haven’t spent any money that the board has not authorized them to spend.”

Weigand said he was especially concerned about the assertions by other board members regarding the Planning Commission, because the Marquette Township Board gets a copy of commission’s monthly minutes in MTB meeting packets.

“I would point out to the board that the pedestrian connectivity was approved by this board in October of 2016,” Weigand said. “With respect to tiny homes and short term rentals, (they) have been discussed since September of 2016, So it’s been over a year that these have been discussed and they are always in the minutes. And I know that as long as I have been on this board, there have always been updates with respect to them. Everybody knows about that, the board has talked about that on numerous occasions. The planning commission isn’t out there doing anything that the board doesn’t know about.

“I am suggesting that it is board approved, because the board knows exactly what the planning commission is working on. They are following the procedures outlined in the bylaws, and the final step in that procedure is to have a public hearing.”

Durant said going forward, a monthly verbal report from select committee chairs or the township board liaison should resolve the problem.

“I am just looking for the communication side of things, that its not necessarily just what’s in the minutes, but in these conversations as well,” Durant said. “I am not saying anything was done improperly. It’s looking at the agendas that are longer than ours at the board, and all these things that are discussed.”

Residents are encouraged to attend the Public Hearing of the Planning Commission, which will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Marquette Township Community Center. Resident questions can be directed to Zoning Administrator Jason McCarthy at 906-228-6220.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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