Sylvan Township is planning, collaborating and prioritizing issues

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It’s not very often the Sylvan Township government gets everyone together for a meeting, but when it does, it’s important, and that’s exactly what the November 30 work session was.

A joint Township Board, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Work Session was held virtually over Zoom on the 30th, which gave members of each group a chance to discuss their thoughts on and hear from others about different topics of importance in the township.

In follow up after the meeting, township supervisor Kathleen Kennedy told The Sun Times News, “The goal was to hear from the Planning Commission members, Zoning Board of Appeals members and Board members directly about what they see as necessary ordinance changes or improvements the Township Board could prioritize, budget for and implement.”

The topics included: a Lake District Ordinance, alternative energy, private roads, future growth, the zoning map and master plan, and medical marijuana.

The purpose of the visioning session was “to address possible text amendments to existing ordinances, or propose new ordinances which will provide guidance for the residential, commercial and industrial growth opportunities being proposed for Sylvan Township. Prioritizing short term, midterm, and long-term projects will assist the board when setting the budget for the next fiscal year as well as consider future budgeting for projects.”

As an example of the discussion, both planning commissioners and ZBA members said looking into creating a Lake District Ordinance might be needed in the coming year.

Kennedy said the Lake District discussion refers to creating a Lake District zoning designation.

“Currently the homes around the lakes are mostly zoned low residential district,” she said. “Some lots around the lake are small and can be quite narrow. It can be difficult to build or improve a home there without needing a variance for the zoning regulations for low residential lots. This is when residents must come to the Zoning Board of Appeals to apply for a variance from those regulations. Creating a Lake District, with zoning appropriate for those smaller and narrow lots, could lift a burden for the residents and for the ZBA.”

In another example, Carol Konieczki, the township’s Planning/Zoning Administrator, said the township has seen an increase in inquiries related to alternative energy, specifically solar panels. She said this is another area the township might look into further rather than continuing to treat it the way it’s being treated now, which is as accessory structures.

Going into the meeting, the different members were given some points to ponder:

“Sylvan has seen significant growth in the last 10 years according to census date. Most of it is residential. There have been many inquiries regarding commercial/industrial opportunities in areas of the township that provide water and sewer. Sylvan has very little area currently zoned for commercial/industrial enterprises. Commercial and Industrial uses require less services but pay higher taxes than residential which require more services but pay less taxes.”

“Sylvan Township is a gateway community to Waterloo Recreation Area, Pinckney Recreation Area and Sharonville State Game Area with the three I-94 interchanges. The primary access point, M-52 and I-94 is also the north access to Chelsea, Stockbridge, and south access to Manchester, Tecumseh and Adrian.”

According to the 2020 census, the township population was at 3,311 while in 2010 it was 2,838. The township has also seen an increase in housing. In 2020, there were 1,385 households in the township while in 2010 there were 1,236.

In looking at things overall, ZBA member Ed Blissick said it’s important the township understand what the residents want, in regard to growth and development. This sentiment was echoed during the public comment portion of the meeting by township resident Patrick Zieske, who suggested possibly having a town hall meeting where the community can offer up their views and ideas.

In answering the question, what should the community know about the joint work session, Kennedy said, “I think the community should know that we are planning, collaborating, and prioritizing issues that will update and improve our Township.”

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