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Commissioners: No Regrets Over Park Zoning Handling

September 24, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

Two members of the Baroda (Mich.) Township Planning Commission say they have no regrets about how the commission handled a new ordinance that developers blamed for killing a plan to build a recreational vehicle resort in their township.

Kennedy Reese Investments, the firm proposing the RV resort on the site of the Meadows Family Golf Center southeast of Benton Harbor, decided last week to pull its application for a special use permit after the Planning Commission had recommended requiring setbacks of 100 feet in front and 50 feet on the sides at all campgrounds built in the township, according to the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Developers said the rule would kill the feasibility of the project because they would have to eliminate too many RV sites on the 43-acre property. The township’s setback rule is 35 feet for regular residences in an agricultural zone.

The Planning Commission did not have a bias against the RV resort, said Ed Heyn, one of seven township residents on the commission. “We didn’t design the ordinance around that project,” he said. “We tried to come up with an ordinance for the township as a whole, not based on one particular project.”

Dean Schmaltz, a lifelong township resident and a planning commissioner since 1988, said he wanted to see the RV resort developed, and he felt the commission’s setback recommendation was appropriate.

Schmaltz said planning commissioners did not take the issue lightly. The commission’s original recommendation was to require setbacks of 150 feet on all sides of the property.

“You’re trying to satisfy the community also,” he said. “You’ve got neighbors around there and you’re trying to think of them.”

Schmaltz said he was surprised Kennedy Reese dropped its plan before the Township Board of Trustees even voted on the ordinance.

“It makes me think there might be more to it than just the setbacks,” he said. “I thought we tried to handle it as fairly as we could. We try to think of everybody when we’re setting these different guidelines.”

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