Bear Creek panel opposes more commercial uses
Bear Creek Township planning commissioners decided Wednesday to oppose a request for rezoning several properties along U.S. 131 just south of Petoskey to allow for a wider range of business uses. "We don't want the more intensive uses there, bottom line," Bear Creek trustee and planning commissioner Bert Notestine said. "That corridor, we've been trying to keep like it is."
Owners of several of the properties along the east side of the highway between Anderson and Lears roads proposed that officials change their zoning from multi-family residential -- which also allows for limited business uses such as offices and motels -- to local/tourist business (B-1). This would allow for additional commercial uses such as restaurants and retail stores.
With special-condition approval from planning officials, businesses such as gas stations, garden centers and plumbing/electrical offices and showrooms also could be established in this type of zone.
"We really do believe the request is consistent with the master plan and would encourage low-intensity commercial development along this corridor," said Dave Leusink, president of Bay Winds Federal Credit Union.
Bay Winds operates a branch office on one of the properties proposed to be rezoned.
Bear Creek planning commissioners voted 5-0 to oppose the zoning request, with commission members Craig Adaline and Sue Anderson absent from the meeting.
Stances taken by Bear Creek officials on zoning matters serve as advisory ones for Emmet County, which has final say over these land use matters in that township.
Some township planning commissioners have noted desires to keep that stretch of U.S. 131 transitional in terms of the types of business allowed.
"We don't want the more intensive uses there, bottom line," Bear Creek trustee and planning commissioner Bert Notestine said. "That corridor, we've been trying to keep like it is."
Following the rezoning proposal's introduction to township planning commissioners in January, the four northernmost properties that originally were part of the request -- including the former Rotary Park, the Maple Leaf Professional Building, Dr. Margaret Brazones' orthodontic office and a neighboring vacant parcel -- were withdrawn from it, leaving four other properties to be considered Wednesday. The properties eliminated from the proposal were closest to a residential neighborhood along Kilborn Drive, residents of which had voiced some objections to the proposal last month.
Even with the scaling back of the request, some Kilborn Drive residents had reservations about the proposal Wednesday.
Aaron Brooks, for example, said that if the neighboring properties to the south received new zoning, it would be easier for a developer to make a case in the future for rezoning the properties to the north. He added that some of the properties being considered already have business uses in place.
"I just don't see a need to rezone because business is already there," he said.
For Bay Winds Federal Credit Union, one opportunity offered by the B-1 zoning would be more flexibility for a sign at its office.
Rather than moving toward rezoning, "I think that the sign issue should be discussed at (Emmet County's) sign and light committee, and debated there," Bear Creek planning commissioner John Prote said.
Bear Creek Township planning commissioners' stance against the U.S. 131 rezoning proposal now goes to the township board, which will consider whether to pass it along to Emmet County officials. The county has final say over zoning matters in Bear Creek. County planning commissioners are scheduled to consider the matter at their meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the county building in Petoskey.