Board says no to smaller planning commission

FLINT TWP. — At its Dec. 17 meeting, the township board rejected a proposal to downsize its planning commission.

In a 4-3 decision, the board voted down an ordinance amendment that would reduce the number of commissioners from 9 to 7.

Supervisor Karyn Miller and trustees Barb Vert and Belenda Parker, who voted in favor of the change, said it would reduce costs and lower the fees businesses are charged for planning commission decisions.

“Every penny needs to be counted in the next year or so,” Vert said. “I am 110 percent behind it.”

Parker said she supported it to decrease fees to businesses interested in moving to the township. She said the idea had been tossed around for at least four years and the time is right because several commissioners terms are expiring.

Inferences were made about cronyism being the reason some board members did not want to reduce the size of the planning commission.

Clerk Kim Courts, Treasurer Marsha Binelli and trustees George Menoutes and Frank Kasle cast no votes.

Kasle said he could see no good reason for it. He said it is important to get input from as many different people as possible in township activities. He said he was not swayed by the argument that the planning commission met only seven times tin 2012 due to lack of business during the other five months.

Menoutes, who also serves on the planning commission, said eliminating two people from the planning commission would not significantly reduce business applicant fees. He encouraged board members to take a look at what Grand Blanc and other cities are charging for site plan reviews. In comparison, Flint Township’s fees are reasonable, he said.

“This community has always bent backward to help a good business,’’ he said.

The commission charges about $500 per applicant to cover a per diem paid to commissioners and for other expenses, said Tracey Tucker, director of economic enhancement, who works with the planning commission.

Courts noted that township would not save money by reducing the size of the commission because the per diem comes from applicant fees and not township funds.

Vert said she was interested in seeing new people with fresh ideas brought onto the commission.

Miller said four or five positions and some expired terms need to be filled on the commission.

The proposal to downsize the commission first appeared on the board’s Dec. 3 agenda but was removed for lack of support. Miller said that two trustees asked her to bring the question back to the full board. Had it passed, it would have come up for adoption at the board’s Jan. 7 meeting.

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