Morenci planning commission 10.17.2009

Written by David Green.

Morenci planning commission members returned to an old issue Monday night: a drainage problem at Whitman Crossings apartments on W. Coomer Street.

Commissioners are expected to continue discussion at the Oct. 19 meeting.

A letter from the Lenawee County Drain Commission written in March called for the addition of an outlet drain due to standing water in the retention ponds. An outlet to the north was recommended, with easement needed from the city and one other property owner.

Until last month, the planning commission last met in February, city clerk/administrator Renée Schroeder said. For the meeting Sept. 21, she gave members a letter from the PCI Design Group—the engineering firm employed by WODA, owner of Whitman Crossings—that responded to the drain commission’s review.

Douglas Weatherby of PCI wrote that since the apartment complex’s three retention basins are interconnected, all three would need to fill with water in order to create a problem.

Weatherby said that all three ponds were “basically dry” on Sept. 20. He said that WODA would prefer not to install an outlet pipe “until it has been proven that it is necessary.”

Planning commission chair Matt Wozniak was surprised by that report.

“Yes, it’s dry right now because we’ve had a very dry season, but last year it held water when we had a wet season,” he said.

Wozniak suggested standing by the drain commission’s recommendation. Commissioners voted to send PCI’s letter to the drain commission for review.

Since then, engineer David Mitchell of the drain commission office responded with a letter suggesting that the city begin logging the ponds after every weather event that exceeds an inch of precipitation. A city employee should check to see how long the ponds take to become completely dry again.

“This office recommends that water not stand in the basins longer than two days after a storm since this leads to vegetation drying, mosquitoes forming a habitat and other health concerns.”

PLANNERS—Wozniak brought up the issue of disbanding the planning commission, as suggested by a city council member. A suggestion was made that council members could handle the duties of the commission.

City attorney Fred Lucas examined state law and determined that either a planning commission or zoning board must be in existence, Schroeder said. The Zoning Board of Appeals is not the same as a zoning board, she added.

The planning commission made a budget request of $10,000 for an update of the city’s outdated master plan. Schroeder explained that the city was recovering from a deficit and council wasn’t willing to spend that much money on something that wasn’t essential at the time.

An updated master plan is important, she said, because grant applications often ask if the city has one.

She said the city’s commercial zoning inspector Jacob Barnes has written master plans and he would be willing to speak with commissioners about what needs to be done. Guidance is needed, Wozniak said.

Schroeder said she would add the topic of disbanding the planning commission on the next council agenda for discussion.

CHARTER—Schroeder mentioned the need for updating the City Charter, something that hasn’t been done since the 1950s.

She said the process requires a nine-person panel made up of citizens not currently serving on any existing government boards.

Proposed changes must be approved by a vote of the people.

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