2008-11-06 / News

Business Sign Limits Proposed in Clark Twp. Master Plan

By Jonathan Eppley

The number and size of business signs in Clark Township will be limited if the idea meets public, township, and county approval. The measure is one proposal being made as the Clark Township Planning Commission inches closer to approving revisions to the township's master plan and zoning ordinances. At its Wednesday, October 29 meeting, the commission scheduled a November 25 public hearing for the remaining zoning articles under revision.

After the articles go to public hearing, they must be approved by the Mackinac County Planning Commission before going to the Clark Township Board for final approval. Seven articles still need to be reviewed and approved by the planning commission.

Brad Kaye, consultant planner from Traverse City-based Gourdie- Fraser, expects the remaining articles to be approved by the end of December. The commission reviewed articles dealing with general provisions, zoning districts, and signs at last week's meeting.

Major updates to take place under the revised zoning articles include imposing sign limits for commercial and quasi-public zoned free-standing, wall, projecting, and window signs. There are no limits now.

Under the proposals, free-standing and wall sign sizes can be built up to 100 square feet.

"Places require a larger sign, and to restrict it, you restrict how much money they're going to make," Commissioner John Grenier said. "The sign out in front of your business, that's the best advertising you have."

The number of wall signs permitted for each premises, including marquee, canopy, and awning signs, will be set at two. Building or window-mounted permanent wall signs will be allowed to project above a building's roofline or facade.

Projecting sign size limits will also be set at 40 square feet in commercial and quasi-public districts, and from 25 square feet in resort districts.

Limits for window signs in commercial, resort, and quasi-public districts will be increased from 10% to 25% of the total window area in which the sign is placed.

Quasi-public districts are those the township would like to eventually become parks or public offices but which now are in private ownership.

Another change proposed for the zoning ordinance is a ban on scrolling text, because planning commissioners believe it to be too distracting to drivers.

Also, portable signs on wheels shall not be used as permanent signs anywhere in the township, and will only be allowed two weeks prior to and after a specific event is advertised.

The commission also added new uses to the existing zoning designation use chart, including emergency services, art gallery, bed and breakfast, manufacturing, and mini-warehouse and storage. The chart identifies primary use of properties.

Watershed Council proposes floodplain ordinance

Pat Carr and Hank Lotoszinski of the Les Cheneaux Watershed Council gave a presentation to the planning commission to adopt a floodplain management ordinance. The ordinance would require new dwellings to be built outside the floodplain zone or incorporate additional measures in construction already required by the State Construction Code.

Set back standards would remain the same under the proposed ordinance.

For property owners to obtain flood insurance, the township must participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, outlined in the proposed ordinance. New dwellings built inside the floodplain may be subject to higher insurance rates.

"A lot of people have property in the floodplain, want to develop it, and, by law, you can," Mr. Lotoszinski said. "It essentially makes more sense to build high and dry. But if you don't have an option to build anywhere but in the floodplain, you've got to go through some hoops and you might have to pay some flood insurance."

The commission decided to postpone voting on the ordinance until its next meeting to allow more time to research the proposed ordinance.

The planning commission next meets Tuesday, November 11, at 7 p.m. at the Clark Township Community Center.

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