2010-09-16 / News

Cloverland Pole Yard Receives Special Permit

By Michael Ayala

Cloverland Electric will be granted a special permit to store poles on property it owns in Moran Township, although it must construct a wooden fence on the north side of the pole yard to create a buffer zone for a neighboring residence. The township board approved the permit Tuesday, September 14. A wooden fence must also be erected on the side of the property exposed to Cheeseman Road to remain in compliance with the township's ordinances.

The Moran Township Planning Commission convened during a special meeting Thursday, September 9, to deliberate if it would grant Cloverland the special use permit, even though the land had already been cleared of trees and was being prepared as a pole yard. The township originally said no permit was needed in the zoning district, but rectified the error when neighboring residents Derek and Sara Huebner objected, saying a permit was needed,

Mr. and Mrs. Huebner attended the meeting, saying the site did not meet several provisions of the township zoning ordinance, such as constructing the yard to be harmonious and appropriate in appearance with the character of the area and being an improvement to property in the immediate area and community. The Huebners had also submitted a Letter to the Editor to The St. Ignace News about the provisions, and it was published August 19.

According to the zoning ordinance site plan review, portions of storage yards that are visible from residential properties or public roads must be screened using fences or plant materials no less than six feet in height, Mr. Huebner pointed out.

The pole yard site plan specifies it will be surrounded with a sixfoot chain link security fence, although it would still be visible from the Huebner residence and from Cheeseman Road.

The commission weighed consideration of the property owner and neighbor as well as bringing the site in line with the ordinances.

“It's unfortunate we didn't have the opportunity to help design and work through the process of the buffer zone between the yards, and I do think it's something that's necessary that we should try to create,” said Sean O'Boyle, who chairs the planning commission.

The commission suggested adding a wooden fence to screen the yard from view. Erecting the fence could be possible, Craig Davidson of Cloverland Electric said, although he would need approval first.

Mr. Huebner said if any trees would be planted to screen the pole yard from view of their residence, they could be planted on his property. Cost is a concern, Mr. Davidson said, and a fence would work better as ready-made fence posts could be purchased from hardware stores.

Erecting a fence along the property exposed to Cheeseman Road could create a buffer, the commission discussed, although the road is on higher ground and people would likely be able to see over a six-foot fence. Trees or shrubbery could be planted to lessen the pole yard's visual impact, but Mr. Davidson explained he did not want to make it so that law enforcement could not easily see into the yard. The commission decided a six-foot wooden fence would provide some screening from the road, and placing an eight-foot wooden fence would better shield the property from view from the Huebner property.

The planning commission granted the special use permit, provided Cloverland erects an eight-foot wooden fence on the east side of the property and a six-foot wooden fence on the Cheeseman Road side of the property.

Cloverland purchased the property on Cheeseman Road because the American Transmission Company, from which Cloverland buys power, is expanding its equipment to the substation at the south end of Second Street behind Clyde's Drive In. Cloverland had been storing its poles in that area, and with the expansion, it sought the Moran Township property to use as storage.

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