Listen to- July 8 2019 Board of Trustees Meeting
Listen to- May 13 2019 Board of Trustees Meeting
Listen to- April 23 2019 Special Board of Trustees Meeting
State Election Bureau dismisses charges
Newspaper pages did nothing wrong
We believe the Michigan Bureau of Elections made the proper decision by finding that The Hayes Township Sentinel fit within the “media exemption” and therefore found our newspaper “not guilty.” The Bureau issued no fines.
John Royal, the husband of longtime Planning Commission member Marilyn Moorhead, filed a complaint with the State Election Bureau on October 28, 2018, alleging The Sentinel engaged in unlawful acts. The State said an emphatic no.
Shopper ads placed needed County filings
They did request that we file an Independent expenditure report with the Charlevoix County Clerk. The expenditure reports were for four advertisements at $285 each that ran in the Charlevoix Community Shopper, an independent shopper that covers Charlevoix County.
When Mr. Royal filed his complaint on October 26th with the State Bureau of Elections we held off filing the local independent statements until the State had time to make a ruling. They ruled in our favor on April 8th and sent us the forms to file locally, giving us until April 22nd to avoid a late filing fee. We filed the forms with Cheryl Browe, Charlevoix Clerk, on April 10th and consequently, there will be no fines.
This was a big victory for freedom of the press and we at the Sentinel are delighted that we won this battle. All newspapers, large and small, in Michigan should be impassioned and emboldened to continue to fight the good fight against politicians who pursue policies, which are clearly not in the best interests of the majority of the citizens they represent.
Courier Editor Allen ignores ruling
Incidentally, Lonnie Allen, former Editor of The Charlevoix Courier (pictured here) put Royals complaint on the front page of his newspaper including our pictures. The State Election bureau ruled 1-½ months ago and still not a word has been written about the “positive” ruling. You have to wonder why.
Allen recently resigned as Editor of The Courier and is now a floater cook at the senior center in Charlevoix. Let’s hope he is a better cook than an editor.
The Hayes Township Sentinel will continue to publish political news of the township. We are proud that a vast majority of residents love, read and respect our newspaper.
Engineer Malewitz defends position on Park
Brings Michigan Tech Professor to meeting
With an agenda of over 20 items and a room full of residents the Board of Trustees took 3 hours and 10 minutes to complete their May 13th agenda and adjourn with the fate of the engineer still hanging in the wind.
Jim Malewitz, the engineer hired by the previous township board, has been under fire recently from some township officials and the public. Their complaints center around the safety issues that are present in the park and will require either the closing of the park for the summer months this year or that is opened much later in the summer.
The Township’s insurance company sent their risk manager, Michael Gombos of the Michigan Township Participating Insurance Plan, to the park two months ago and he wrote the township a report that listed over ten safety issues that needed correcting before he would recommend opening the park to the public.
Engineer Jim Malewitz took it upon himself to write Michael Gombos a letter, copying Supervisor VanZee, outlining his answers to the safety issues and stating, “we believe the completion of these items will resolve all safety items necessary to complete the contract with MDC and will meet grant funding requirements.”
Malewitz continued, “Based on my review this project has the potential to be within the original budget established before the construction began for this project and meet the funding agencies deadline of June 15, 2019.”
Supervisor VanZee, when contacted later, said that the Insurance Company worked for the township and was not a consultant.
Malewitz came to the meeting prepared to defend his position as the responsible engineer for Camp Sea-Gull. He had hired, at his own expense and unsolicited by the BOT, Dr. Stanley J. Vitton, Professor of Geological and Mining Engineering at Michigan Tech located in Houghton, Michigan.
Harry Golski, a local Charlevoix attorney, was also present sitting with Malewitz and the professor. It appeared Malewitz wanted assurance he would be treated fairly under the terms of his contract and wanted Attorney Golski present to protect his interests.
In addition, several local residents came to speak in Malewitz’s favor during public comment.
And for the first time in many months a local “reporter” from a small weekly paper showed up to see just how bloody the fight would become. Sitting behind Malewitz, it was obvious he had been contacted and recruited to attend the potential public battle. It seem to fall short of what he expected and he left before the meeting ended.
Malewitz then introduced Dr. Vitton with the assurance to the board that there would be no cost for his visit and that there would be no cost for his written report/opinion that would be provided later.
Dr. Vitton’s research focus is applied geomechanics. He has eight years of industrial experience with the Shell Oil Company, where he worked in Shell’s Mining Ventures Group, which later became the Shell Mining Company.
In other business:
*The Board approved setting up a system to allow on-line payment of property taxes. It is expected to be in place for our summer tax payments.
*True Stream Internet will become available to the public at Camp Sea-gull Park as soon as fiber optic cable is available this summer.
*The township authorized the Supervisor to sign the Stormwater Intergovernmental Agreement with Charlevoix County.
*The Board authorized the County to bid out the roadwork to finish Bay Shore.
*B&G Enterprises contract for mowing and snow removal was renewed for another year.
*The ambulance contract between the City of Charlevoix and 5 surrounding townships was renewed at a cost of $48, 713. per year.
*Engineer Malewitz presented two changes orders; #9 for the break wall guardrail on west side of boat ramp for a cost of $6,350. and change order #10 for Winter Barriers at a cost of $3,890. Both requests were tabled for further discussion.
*Sunrise Electronics & Security’s bid of $13,700. was approved for security cameras at Camp Sea-Gull Park. The company will install four cameras that will be able to be monitored in “real time” from remote locations.
*The township rejected an offer of $800,000 to purchase the west 300 feet of Camp Sea-Gull. This would have included the new boat launch. The acquisition grant from the DNR Trust Fund prohibits selling the Park or part of the Park without special permission.
A 650-foot long “safety” fence along the top of the cliff overlooking the boat launch road was discussed and preliminary consensus was a 3-rail wooden fence with the possibility of a inner wire mess (to keep pets and small children from crawling though) was approved. Costs will now be obtained and decided at a future meeting.
The meeting ended at 10:10pm.
Survey results discussed
The 2019 Master Plan survey results are in and being reviewed by the Planning commission. Surveys were mailed to over 1000 households as part of the total mailing of 1809 surveys, one to each parcel listed on the tax rolls. Some people received more than one survey because they own more than one parcel and each survey was coded with a unique number to eliminate duplication of responses. There were a total of 328 surveys returned either by mail or through the online response format, for a 32% response rate.
The firm of Beckett & Raeder, a landscape architecture, planning, engineering and environmental services firm headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan was utilized to administer and analyze the survey results. The report contained both the answers to specific questions and additional comments from some responders.
Recognition of the impact of current events on the survey responses was also included in the analysis. The response totals and analysis have been compiled into a report that will be used by the Planning Commission along with information to create both short and long-term goals for the next twenty plus years. Addition data points will also be used.
The Master Plan review process is a comprehensive process and when a draft is completed a process for gathering community feedback on the draft will be initiated, possibly at a community open house.
It is a bit early to set dates for this, but notice will be given in a variety of ways to let the community know when and how to participate.
Please watch the Sentinel’s website for further details and meeting dates at: hayestownshipsentinel.com
Board hires new engineering firm
The Board of Trustees at their May 30th special meeting voted to hire Beckett&Raeder, a large engineering firm, to assist them is a second opinion regarding the safety issues in the Camp Sea-Gull Park. Most of the trustees concerns were centered on the steep shale wall that runs parallel to the boat launch road.
Trustees and the public are concerned the falling shale poses a threat to the road itself and the public. The vote to approve the $6,850 expense was 4-1 with trustee Bob Jess voting no.
In other safety matters the board voted to accepted Harbor Fence Companies proposal to build a 632’ long fence along the top of the ridge, which is approx. 35 feet about the boat launch road. Again, it is a safety issue as most are concerned about children and pets falling down the steep incline.
All public comments along with all board members are hopeful the park can open by July 4th but since safety comes first it seems like it will be a race to the finish.
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Stirring up trouble in Hayes Township; Courier Editor resigns to become cook
There has been more than enough drama surrounding the Phase 1 Construction at Hayes Township (Seagull) Park, and as the community is just starting to come back together, the Charlevoix Courier, written by editor Lonnie Allen, (who recently quit The Courier to become a floater cook at a senior center) distributes an article that is full of false information and misleading assumptions.
“Hayes Township Board may cover up unique shale wall” is the name of the above referenced article, and right off the bat, the information is incorrect. Not once did any member of the board state that they wanted to cover up the shale wall. Feel free to listen to the meeting on the Sentinel website to verify this statement. The board members have repeatedly discussed their concerns with the safety and stability of the shale wall, but not once has anyone suggested covering up the exposed shale.
It was also reported that the board has halted the completion of the park—the truth is the exact opposite. The Board has made it clear to Jim Malewitz of Performance Engineering that they want him to complete the remaining items in the park contract. The proposals received from other engineering firms as second opinions are to address the stability and safety of the crumbling shale wall ONLY. The Board even held a Special Meeting on April 23rd specifically to review all park contract items with Malewitz. This meeting was over 2 ½ hours (listen to the whole meeting on the Sentinel website) where Malewitz was given ample time to discuss any and all Phase 1 related questions and concerns.
However, the board did allow Professor Vitton, who Malewitz brought in from Michigan Tech, as much time as he needed to give a presentation on the exposed Norwood Shale wall at the park at their May 13th meeting. The members of the Board appreciate the unique nature of the shale; however they remain concerned with the safety issues of the currently crumbling wall. Malewitz was also given plenty of time to speak to the Board at the meeting without being added to the agenda.
Look at the pictures on our website at: hayestownshipsentinel.com to view the piles of loose shale at the bottom of the wall that continues to fall and pose safety concerns for future visitors at the park. The falling shale will form a pile that is unstable and encroaches on the soon to be laid asphalt parking area and roadway. Professor Vitton and Malewitz suggested a cyclone fence be placed 5 feet away from the wall. This will cause the design and size of the entire parking area to be encroached upon, and could potentially cause issues with the turning radius for vehicles coming to the park, especially towing boats.
As much opposition as there was to Phase 1 of the park, the damage has been done and it’s in everyone’s best interest to move forward. The Board has inherited the responsibility to make safety a paramount concern in Hayes Township (Seagull) Park. As Phase 1 is being completed, the issue of the shale wall will continue to be addressed outside the scope of the contract with Performance Engineering.
To recap: the Board has never suggested covering the shale wall. The board has not halted the Phase 1 construction progress; it has continued. They remain concerned about the safety and stability of the crumbling shale, and are holding a special meeting on Thursday, May 30th at 7pm to review proposals from other engineering firms on this very issue.
Everyone has a right to an opinion; however, when the press twists their personal opinion into facts, the ethical line has been crossed. Don’t stir up trouble in our township with inaccurate information. If you choose to attend a Board meeting, which you infrequently do, at least have the common courtesy to LISTEN to what is being said, not have a pre-conceived agenda of what angle you want to take before the meeting even begins.
We are pleased that Gatehouse Media, owners of The Courier and The Petoskey News Review, will have an opportunity to hire a new editor of The Courier. Maybe a fresh face will become more involved in the news of Hayes Township on a regular basis and not when called upon by folks with a political agenda.
Elmer’s puts off hearing again!
Planners review Master Plan
Roy Griffitts, the unflappable Chairman of the Hayes Township Planning Commission, ran another efficient meeting on Tuesday, May 21st. The main topic of the evening was a planning session to discuss the details of reworking the townships zoning areas and to recommend to the Board of Trustees where the township needed to emphasize growth in the various areas of the township.
At a previous meeting, Chairman Griffitts had tasked each member of the Commission to take the existing zoning map and think about the future and where they would like to see development that would benefit the township.
Producing a large township map, he had each commissioner draw a circle around the area where they would like to see future development from affordable housing to industrial to agriculture/forest areas. Griffitts then said he would take all their individual comments and produce a report/map that would be distributed to each member and schedule another working session.
“We have to find areas in the township that have greater housing density; smaller housing; mixed-use developments with affordable housing; pizza places; 7/11 type stores… like a planned unit development,” said Griffitts. He continued, “Our task, our goal is to use our best thinking now for the future.”
Marilyn Moorehead, former chairperson of the Planning Commission said, “We need to figure a way for people to use their land and create rural residential areas that permit uses such as, “You Pick Farms”, small vineyards, small greenhouses…. Essentially small family farms with 5 to 10 acres and a couple of horses.”
Matt Cunningham mentioned that Supervisor Ron VanZee had said he would like to see more Industrial zoning along US 31. Chairman Griffitts stated, “Three areas jump right out; the Bay Shore strip along US 31, the area West of Burgess Road, and the area closer to AmericInn on US 31.
One of the most interesting comments in the evening was the proposal to “return the old Smith property” (now Team Elmer’s proposed site for a Concrete Batch Plant on the corner of Maple Grove and Boyne City Rd.) to “Affordable Housing,” which would mean R2, R3, or R4. The property is presently zoned Industrial but was grandfathered in when the Smith family operated a sand and gravel extraction business for many years.
When the commission finishes their work they will hold a community meeting inviting all residents to come and join the conversation. After the public input, they will report their findings to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
In other business, the commissioners approved Team Elmer’s request to postpone their anticipated public hearing until the August meeting. In addition, Team Elmer’s requested that the Zoning Board of Appeals not meet to decide whether the Zoning Administrator, Larry Sullivan had made the proper decision when he decided that a Concrete Batch Plant would fit in the Industrial Zone under a special use permit.
Administrator Sullivan also mentioned that an interested party and his attorney were working with Elmer’s “on a solution that would not involve the Township.” Marilyn Moorehead asked for clarification and others in attendance said that the comment probably meant Elmer’s was contemplating a sale of the property.
The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Tuesday, June 18th at 7 pm.
Parks Committee sets 2019 priorities
Hayes Township Parks and Rec Committee met May 1 to discuss three primary areas of concern for the 2019-20-budget year--strategic planning, funding, and rebuilding community in the Township. The Committee also wants to make the Township residents more aware of the other parks besides Camp Sea Gull that we have at our disposal.
Tom Darnton reported that the Charlevoix Community Foundation grant of $4500 has been awarded to us but that part of the grant requires that we take a survey. In the meantime, the Planning Commission has already taken a survey and the Parks Committee would just be duplicating services. Also since the grant application was submitted, the opening of Camp Sea Gull Park has been delayed for safety reasons. The Parks Committee decided to decline the grant. The Committee will however apply for a Risk Reduction Grant through the State of Michigan in order to obtain funding for fencing along the 35 foot cliff across the top of the hill.
Katy Hill reported on plans for a late summer township event, dubbed “Park Luck Potluck” which hopefully will become an annual celebration of Hayes Township. Katy listed four objectives for the event: (1) educate residents about all our parks, (2) inform residents of future plans, (3) bring the community back together after all the divisiveness of the last few years, and (4) to give something back to our residents. The event is planned for August 25, 2019 from 1 to 4pm on the grounds at the Township Hall. The Committee will ask for $500 from the Board for event expenses.
In other business Bob Jess led a discussion of the Eastern Avenue Beach Park proposed bathroom project. He noted that the Township as well as Pine Point will include a discussion of funding and design on their agendas. The County Road Commission will also be included in project discussions, as sewer and water will have to be moved across township lines to accommodate the new facility. The Committee will ask the Board of Trustees to seek grant funding and to put out bids on the design work as soon as possible. The Committee will also seek a permit to expand the swimming area at Eastern Avenue Beach for this summer.
Chair Michelle Biddick summarized our strategic planning process and noted that Committee members should review the recent results of the Planning Commission survey. She will set up times for Committee members to visit Hayes Township’s other parks as many of them have maintenance and restoration issues that need attention while we are waiting for the Camp Sea Gull Park to be completed.
Meanwhile a sub-committee has been working on an operating budget for the Parks and Rec Committee for the 2019-20-budget year that will be presented at the next regular Board of Trustees meeting.
The next Parks and Rec meeting will be Wednesday, June 5, beginning at 5:30pm at Camp Sea Gull Park’s host cabin and will include summer hosts Dee and Gary Janz. The Public is invited.
Annual Park Pot Luck
by Katy Hill
Save the date, Sunday August 25th, for a Hayes Township gathering to celebrate our community and learn about our five township parks. The event is free and open to the public, so bring your family, friends, acquaintances, a dish to pass, and anyone you might meet between now and August!
The Parks and Recreation Committee has an afternoon of fun planned at the Hayes Township Hall on Old US 31 from 1-4pm. There will be a potluck set up inside the hall. Drinks, snacks, and hotdogs off the grill will be provided by the Committee. There will be lawn games, face painting, and a bounce house for kids.
There will be a silent auction featuring 5 vintage Camp Sea-Gull canoes of various sizes and styles. They will be filled with other goods to bid on as well. So don’t miss a chance to own a piece of history or a bit of whimsy from the arts and crafts building. There are original benches and even a set of doors with the name of plays and the campers who participated as actors preserved.
Along with the silent auction the Committee will offer the opportunity to purchase a memorial native species tree in honor or memory of a loved one. Your donation will include a personalized plaque and your tree will be planted later this fall.
Finally the Committee will showcase all 5 of Hayes Township’s parks with information available on all of our public spaces, as well as current and future development plans. The person who comes up with the proper name of each of the 5 parks will win a large Hershey bar!
Watch for more details in the next edition of the Sentinel or email Katy Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org
What will Elmer’s do?
Will they try again asking for a permit to build their concrete batch plant? And if they do what will you do?
Sometimes it is important to write a column about something you are pretty sure is not going to happen. In this case, that thing is Elmer’s not building a concrete batch plant in Hayes Twp., and which a majority of township residents clearly do not want.
So what is Elmer’s up too? I don’t know. Are they going to apply for another permit to build a concrete batch plant? I don’t know. Are they going to sell their property? Don’t know. Maybe they will apply for a “temporary concrete batch plant permit? I honestly don’t know.
So, who knows? I would think only the top brass at Elmer’s knows but do you think for one minute they will tip their hand? Don’t think so. Even the township officials don’t know. (Or so they say)
Here are the facts to date:
They applied on January 29tTH for a special use permit to build a permanent concrete batch plant.
On Tuesday, March 12th the Planning Commission held a public hearing.
Approx. 75 people attended the hearing. 95% were against issuing the permit. 36 residents signed up to speak. 18 residents eventually spoke at the meeting with 16 against, 1 in favor and 1 neutral. The other 18 attendees deferred and asked to speak at a future hearing date, assuming there will be one.
After listening to the overwhelmingly negative comments, the President of Elmer’s asked to postpone the public hearing until he could think about the public comments, read the hundreds of emails the township had received, and contemplate his next move.
On March 14th Elmer’s emailed the Township asking to be put on the April 16th Planning Commission meeting agenda.
A few days later Elmer’s asked the township to cancel that request and be put on the Tuesday, June 18th Planning Commission meeting agenda.
Team Elmer’s then requested a further postpone until Tuesday, July 16th, which is where it stands today.
The Planning Commission, at their April 16th meeting voted to approve Elmer’s request to postpone consideration of their Special Use Permit Application to the July 16th date.
If Elmer’s keeps the July 16th date they will have to inform the township at least 2 weeks before because the township is obligated to advertise hearing requests 15 days in advance by posting the notice on the township website and advertising the notice in a local newspaper.
So, what do you think Elmer’s will do? Some serious rumors have them selling the property and moving to another site. It is possible they will apply for a “temporary” permit, which was their original verbal request. A few rumors have them bucking the vast majority of residents and moving forward with the permanent special use permit request. An unidentified source tells this writer that if Elmer’s is denied they may take the township to court.
Still more rumors have a citizens’ group taking the Township to court if, and that is a big if, the Planning Commission grants them a permit to build the concrete batch plant.
My suggestion is to keep studying the facts and read the township-zoning ordinance that is available on the township website at: https://www.hayestownshipmi.gov/
Another suggestion is to call Elmer’s and ask to visit their nearest concrete batch plant. Here is the person to call:
Tonya Wildfong, Team Elmer’s
3600 Rennie School Road
Traverse City, MI 49685
P: 231.943.3443 / F: 231.943.8975
No matter what happens, please stay abreast of the hearing date of Tuesday, July 16th and check the township website for information on Elmer’s next move.
In addition you can call the Township Zoning Administrator, Larry Sullivan at 231 497-9360 or the Township Supervisor, Ron VanZee at 231 547-6961.
Our newspaper website will also keep you informed so check in often at: https://www.hayestownshipsentinel.com/
My personal preference is for Elmer’s to listen to the majority of the township residents who have made their objections clear and move on, hopefully selling their property and not building their concrete batch plant in an area that is surrounded by residential zoning and situated on the Boyne City Road which the township has designated a “Scenic Roadway.” I would think the management of Team Elmer’s would desire a location where they would be welcomed regardless of the current grandfathered split zoning of Industrial/Ag. Wouldn’t you if you managed Elmer’s?
See you at the hearing.
Incidentally, this is my last edition as Publisher. I have three other projects that are keeping me very busy. Leslie Cunningham, our editor, takes over as Editor and Publisher of The Sentinel. Please join me in wishing her and the newspaper nothing but the best.
The Queen of Hearts is back at Camp Sea Gull and she has a tall white-haired assistant lugging a bushel basket full of change orders with her! This time the Queen’s sentence is “Open the Park!” Her assistant is muttering, “It’s safe; I’m late; the fence will have to wait!”
Hayes Township’s municipal liability insurance carrier has other ideas, however. The company’s risk assessor, Michael Gombos, visited the Park in March and recommended to Supervisor Van Zee that the Board seek a second engineering opinion if it so desires, install safety railings (one of which has been partially completed) along the break-wall and sea-walls. Other safety issues noted were the lack of an escape ladder and throw rings on the fishing pier and the absence of signage at the top of the hill and along the drive down the hill to alert drivers that there is a pedestrian crossing right at the base of the hill. Gombos also recommended mitigating the 14% grade and installing lighting along the drive and parking area of the launch. In my experience when the insurance risk assessor “recommends,” we’d better listen. Liabilities are at stake.
Supervisor VanZee reports that he and Gombos also discussed the lack of a barrier along the six hundred foot length of cliff edge at the top of the excavated launch area, which is a 35-foot drop from the hilltop to the parking area. The Board has made the decision not to open the Park until that cliff edge can be fenced off. Malewitz’ response to the decision: “It is my understanding that a fence along the top of the project is not required to make the site safe but signage is.” What a pile of bullpucky!
I have listened to countless hours over the last four years of Jim Malewitz’ conversations with the BOT, his persistent assumption of non-engineering tasks unauthorized by the Board, his circular reasoning, his inability to answer direct questions, his withholding of vital information from the whole Board, his misrepresentations of state grant requirements, and his justifications for spending money (1.5 million and climbing) that the taxpayers of Hayes Township cannot afford. He took protections out of the project to lower the initial bids, and now we are faced with rising costs and a contingency that won’t cover them. We need to raise more money to finish Phase I. When he is questioned closely, he starts up the conversational merry-go-round, i.e. “We don’t really need this. The grant doesn’t require it. Ron, you and I have trust issues.”
The proverbial frosting on the cake, the coup de gras though, is Malewitz’ argument that signage alone is enough to protect folks, some of them very small and who cannot read, from falling over the 35-foot embankment that he designed, that he put in the plans, and thus has always known about. Point those signs out to a parent who watches her toddler going over the edge! Defend that logic in court.
Kudos to the Board for saying No to opening the park without a fence on that edge. And kudos to the Board for insisting on a second independent engineering opinion regarding the safety and stability of the shale wall on the lower edge of the cliff. It appears that we may have to fence the length of that wall also to keep the shedding shale confined and to put some back pressure on the wall according to Malewitz’ own Dr. Stan Vitton of Michigan Tech. A fence on the lower edge will also keep people away from the shale and away from falling debris. This will all add expense to the project total.
It would appear that in retrospect, a smaller, less expensive launch project would have been a good idea and within our budget, which is now down to austerity levels. It appears that we bought the Rolls Royce but we can’t afford the parts or the fuel! But many of us knew that. We need to finish this Phase I contract with absolutely no more change orders and move on. And we need to find someone who can help us make a park out of this boat launch.
*Editor’s note: Both Michael Gombos and Jim Malewitz are quoted from correspondences of March 30, 2019, and May 3, 2019. The letters are on file at the Hayes Township Hall, and from a January 2018 meeting recording.