Special Use Permit Causes Concern for the Meridian Township Planning Commission

Special Use Permit Causes Concern for the Meridian Township Planning Commission

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - During the Meridian Township Planning Commission meeting on June 14, Stacy Guthrie spoke to the commissioners about proposed landscaping on her lawn. Guthrie, an analyst for the Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach, submitted a special use permit for landscape and grading improvements because her land is located on a 100-year floodplain.

Assistant Planner Keith Chapman said the special use permit can be used in different ways, but in this case, it was used to waive bylaw 6.4a.

“That bylaw states that the Planning Commission can’t make a decision in the same night as the public hearing,” Chapman said. “In this instance, the applicant had requested to do so.”

The waiving of this bylaw was a concern to some commissioners because of the precedent it would set for the future.

“70% of the people who bring their projects to use could legitimately ask for us to deal with it same day,” Commissioner David Premoe said during the meeting. “And the minute we start making those exceptions for things other than what I’d call emergencies, then we open ourselves up for, ‘Hey you did it for so and so.’”

Although there was some concern, after discussion the Planning Commission passed Guthrie’s permit in a 7-0 vote.

Guthrie said that originally her home was categorized in flood zone X, but once reevaluated it was determined to be in the higher risk flood zone AE, which raised her flood insurance from $500 a year to $1200 a year.

“It made it a little difficult as a single mom trying to make it and keep my son in the school district,” Guthrie said. “So, I kind of started looking into how to get out of the flood zone.”

After finally getting her permit passed and being able to move two feet of dirt from her front yard to the foundation of her house, Guthrie said she hopes the township and other Michigan institutions work to create an easier way to help homeowners situated on floodplains.

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