Chocolay Township OKs mixed-use overlay district

HARVEY — The Chocolay Township Board on Monday approved a mixed-use overlay district for the U.S. 41 South/M-28 corridor area.

The vote was 5-1 in favor of the district, with Trustee Mark Maki casting the negative vote. Treasurer Ben Zyburt was absent.

The purpose of the text amendment to the township’s zoning ordinance is to enhance the commercial opportunities along U.S. 41 South and M-28 by allowing commercially and residentially zoned properties to engage in both commercial and residential activities on these properties.

In other words, residents within the district may have businesses on the same property, and vice versa.

“Simply because these parcels have been identified in a particular zone does not mean that these parcels will change to one or the other,” said Dale Throenle, township planning director and zoning administrator. “The purpose of the language is to give them the option.”

Some of the parcels, he said, will remain the same.

However, Throenle added, “It provides a future capability for some of those parcels to do a different aspect that they choose after sale.”

According to a Feb. 8 letter from the Marquette County Planning Commission to Chocolay Township Clerk Max Engle, it was noted the primary goal of the proposed district was to attract small- and medium-sized businesses to the corridor.

“It’s simply a matter of establishing a district down through the corridor to give more options to help this corridor open up to different types of mixed use,” Throenle said at Monday’s board meeting.

Maki questioned whether a homeowner on a small lot on M-28, for example, would be “stuck inside a commercial zone,” which he believes most residents would not favor.

Throenle said there might never be a commercial development on a particular parcel, with the owner deciding to make it a residential property or even leave it vacant.

Also, he pointed out that because of the width of the properties, there might not be access to those parcels anyway from a standpoint of commercial development.

Throenle said that property owners within the proposed district had been notified of the amendment, and none had indicated they were against it.

The general boundaries of the mixed-use overlay district are: parcels from the northwest boundary of the township on U.S. 41 to the intersection of U.S. 41 and M-28; parcels south of the intersection of U.S. 41 and M-28, about one-quarter mile; parcels on the north end of Cherry Creek Road from the U.S.-41/M-28 intersection, about one-quarter mile; and parcels east of the U.S. 41/M-28 intersection, about half a mile.

Dimensional and design standards call for building entrances located on corner lots, or lots that front upon two or more streets or roads, to have a principal entrance onto each street or a corner entrance oriented toward the intersection of the two streets.

There are no minimum or maximum density standards for residential dwelling units in the mixed-use overlay district. The number of dwelling units that may be developed will be determined by lot design requirements such as the maximum height and minimum parking requirement for buildings.

Buildings in the district also shall comply with the minimum setback requirements.

In other township business, the board unanimously approved a language change in the noise ordinance. The change now defines a horn as a “device in good working order that is capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance greater than 50 feet.”

The previous definition was from a distance of not less than 200 feet.

The board also listened to a first reading of the proposed fireworks ordinance, and unanimously voted to put the second reading on the April 9 meeting agenda.

The ordinance reads in part that no one shall ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks in the township except between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m. on the day before, the day of or the day after a national holiday, which is consistent with state law.

Also, no one may release or cause to be released an untethered sky lantern.

“Sky lanterns as a whole are potentially dangerous items,” said Throenle, who explained that when a lantern is released into the air, its return cannot be determined.

The ordinance’s prohibitions would include the igniting, discharging or use of fireworks on public, school or church property, or the property of another person, without permission from that organization or individual.

Also, fireworks cannot be discharged in a manner in which remnants would land on public or private property without the owners’ permission.

Throenle said the fireworks ordinance would make the township quieter and safer.