COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Fabius Township Planning Commission Chair Randy Schmeling (left) and Fabius Township Supervisor Ken Linn (right) review the draft copy of the township’s revised master plan during a special meeting of the township board Monday. The board voted to send the draft copy of the master plan to surrounding entities in the county, a key step toward getting the plan approved.

Fabius Twp. takes key step in master plan process

Township to send plan to surrounding entities; no final approval yet

FABIUS TWP. — The saga of the Fabius Township Master Plan in the last year only happened because a key part of the process – sending the plan to surrounding municipalities and entities – did not occur, causing it to be invalid.

On Monday, Fabius Township officials made sure that mistake didn’t happen again with their latest master plan process.

During a special meeting Monday afternoon, the Fabius Township Board approved a resolution to send the current draft of the township’s revised master plan to surrounding municipalities and other entities as part of the process of approving the plan. The entities include local townships and cities in the county, railroad companies, and electric companies, to name a few.

Once the plan is sent out, according to Township Supervisor Ken Linn, there is a 42-day waiting period before it goes back to the Fabius Township Planning Commission for a public hearing on the plan. The earliest a public hearing could theoretically be held is in late August, however township officials are currently targeting September before a public hearing is held. No official date has been selected. Once a public hearing is held, upon approval of the plan by the Planning Commission, it goes back to the township board for final approval and adoption.

Prior to Monday’s vote, Linn discussed some minor tweaks and potential changes the Planning Commission could discuss while they continue to review the plan. Those included removing a “next steps” section originally in a planning report from Williams & Works, talking to the city of Three Rivers to see if their sewer plant is at “full capacity” as it says in the plan, and fixing an error in a data table.

However, one of the bigger things Linn pointed out to look at was the text of the township’s solar overlay district and the effect it may have on some parcels. The overlay permits industrial solar facilities as a special land use along the M-60 corridor to 880 yards on either side of M-60, mentioning while “numerous” existing parcels are located entirely within the overlay district, in some cases the overlay does not encompass the entire parcel. According to the plan as it is now, the township would address the situation through text amendments and the special use process.

Planning Commission Chair Randy Schmeling, who was in attendance for the meeting, said that process is “something that’s not clear as to how that would be handled.” Most cases, he said, would probably deal with “just a sliver left” of a parcel that would not be filled in by the 880-yard overlay. He said there have been discussions with the township’s attorney, Roxanne Seeber, about how the township can legally go about these special cases.

In addition, Linn pointed out how resident comments made during the survey were still being listed in the master plan. He called it “tacky” to leave the comments in there, due to some colorful language in some comments and irrelevant comments by some people, but neither Linn nor Schmeling were sure whether they legally had to be included in the document. Schmeling said he would ask Seeber if the comments could be left in or not.

Following the vote, Schmeling asked if he could potentially get permission to get a Microsoft Word document copy of the master plan once it’s done so changes could be made easier, and mentioned he wanted to do the same with ordinances. Linn said they would discuss that request at a later time.

Linn said any potential changes discussed during the meeting wouldn’t go into the version of the plan being sent out by the township, but rather they would be discussed during future Planning Commission meetings.

The vote on sending the plan to surrounding entities was unanimous.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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