The Village will hold Spring Cleanup again this year, on Saturday, May 12, from 9 am to 2 pm. You may bring as much of your cr*p as you like, at a rate of $20 per full-pickup-truck load; no tires or hazardous waste, please. Ken Bonney and crew will be on hand to manage the affair. All Village and Gilmore Township residents are eligible.
Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page
About 55 people turned out on Wednesday night, April 25, as the Village Council, sitting as the zoning board of appeals (ZBA), attempted to hold a public hearing on the land-use permit denial issued by zoning administrator Carl Noffsinger for Loy Putney. Putney has purchased the former Bay Valley Inn property with the intention of creating housing for his farm labor force. The meeting was disbanded after 30 minutes and postponed because the ZBA was not properly constituted.
The Alert reached one council member who declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. Putney is suing two members of the Village Council, our zoning administrator, and our Village clerk, as well as the Village Council as a whole, citing improper procedure and civil rights violations. Attorney Gretchen Olsen is representing the Village and those individuals in that case.
The Alert reached Edgar Roy, the attorney retained by the council to guide them during the appeal process, today. At the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting, council member Ken Holmes recused himself from the proceedings on the advice of Mr. Roy because of conflict of interest, because he is one of the parties being sued by Putney. Mr. Roy said that he had earlier advised in a letter to Gretchen Olsen that it would be problematic for any members of the ZBA to also be a party to the lawsuit. Roy said he was not aware that Ken Holmes was the only member of the council who was also a member of the Planning Commission. When Holmes stepped down as a member of the ZBA, he rendered the panel improperly constituted, as at least one member of the ZBA must be on the Planning Commission.
The meeting began with a review of documented communications between zoning administrator Carl Noffsinger and Loy Putney, including various applications, the March 14 land-use permit denial, and Putney’s application for appeal, dated March 27. Putney filed suit against the Village leadership on March 28.
It was then time for Brad Putney to make his presentation. He began by raising a “housekeeping matter,” reading from section 6.02 of our ordinance regarding the legal constitution of the ZBA: “The Council shall act as the Board of Appeals; provided, however, that one of the regular members of the Council is a member of the Planning Commission.” He said he was aware that Ken Holmes (now out of the picture) is a member of the Planning Commission; “I simply don’t know if that’s the case with the remaining members here today.”
“So what’s your pleasure, Mr. Putney?” said Mr. Roy.
“I believe we should have a constitutional board to proceed,” said Brad Putney.
“So you would like to have the matter adjourned?”
“Or, if there’s a member of the planning commission available…”
“I think it takes a regularly scheduled Village Council meeting with notice to appoint a new planning commission member,” said Mr. Roy.
“I would have brought up the matter earlier,” said Putney, “but since a complete copy of the zoning ordinance was not provided to me until [the previous] Thursday, I was not able to read it…” [inaudible]
“My recommendation is that Mr. Putney decide whether he wants to proceed or to adjourn,” said Mr. Roy.
“I believe we should follow procedure as set forth in the ordinance,” said Putney.
“One other observation, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Putney. When you called me today, you wanted to know who was going to constitute the board. We had a discussion, and I suggested to you that it was my recommendation for Mr. Holmes to step down…. I would have hoped that you would have raised the issue with me at that time and we would have been able to address it in a different fashion,” said Roy.
“The issue, Mr. Roy, is that you didn’t know who the individual members were and their affiliations. So, it is what it is, Mr. Roy,” Putney said.
This reporter attended the April 3 Planning Commission meeting, which Brad Putney also attended. Only one member of the commission was absent from that meeting, Marcia Stobie. Brad Putney could have surmised on the basis of his attendance at that meeting and prior council meetings that Ken Holmes was the only member of the board who was also a planning commission member—but that’s just speculation on this reporter’s part.
Mr. Roy then addressed the board, recommending that it was unwise to proceed until the council could meet and appoint a new member to the Planning Commission. “It’s the applicant’s request as opposed to ours. It’d be ill-advised to spend the time here tonight and risk having the decision be thrown out by a judge.”
The meeting was adjourned. Afterward, Village Clerk Sharyn Bower approached this reporter, brandishing a black and white photocopy that said something about Mexican drug cartels. “Do you know who this came from? Did you see anyone put this on the table?” she asked. She was quite agitated. The Alert later spoke with a member of the public who had attended the meeting and said he saw copies of the flier in question on the table and in the possession of several members of the audience, but he hadn’t seen who distributed it. The nature of the flier was quite inflammatory and intended to arouse fear of violence related to the supposed proliferation of Mexican drug rings in the United States, he said.
A new person from the council will be appointed to the planning commission at the next meeting, on May 17. The soonest the public hearing can take place after that would be 15 days after it is noticed in the Record-Patriot, the local newspaper of record.—Emily Votruba
A barrier has been placed at the end of Elberta Beach road as of this morning. The action was prompted by a rash of calls and complaints about beach and dune driving, including several new paths cut, over the past few weeks. This barrier is a temporary measure until a more permanent solution can be found. Driving on the beach off the designated road is a state and federal offense, as the dune is a protected wildlife area. In addition, the property beyond the road is private.
This plan, with action points, was approved at the March council meeting.
By Jennifer Wilkins, Head Start educator
Well, Parents, it’s that time of year. Time to start thinking about getting your little ones signed up for preschool and kindergarten.
Benzie County has many options for preschool. Benzie Central Elementary Schools house Head Start Programs that enroll 2 1/2- to 5-year-olds and Great Start Readiness Programs that enroll 4 year olds. Crystal Lake Elementary has a Head Start classroom and a Cooperative Preschool room. I am a teacher in the Great Start classroom at Platte River Elementary School, which also has a Head Start classroom; Betsie Valley Elementary has a Great Start Readiness Program, too.
Recruitment for next year’s class is happening now. Contact the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency (NMCAA) in Traverse City at 231-947-3780 to register your child.
In addition, the Betsie Bay Cooperative Preschool, currently located at the United Methodist Church in Frankfort, can be reached at 231-352-6844. Their tuition is $85 a month for 3 days a week of instruction.
For children turning 5 before December 1, it’s kindergarten roundup time. The schedule for Benzie Central Elementary Schools is: Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday, April 11 Come hear beautiful stories about youth in Benzie County, written by high school kids, at the Mills Community House Bruce Catton Awards Ceremony at 7 pm. Refreshments to follow.
Friday, April 13 Frankfort–Elberta Elementary holds its Kindergarten Roundup testing for every-day school for kids who will be 5 by December 1. Call 352-7601 to set up an appointment for this day. Then 0pen your heart and open a vein at the Benzie Central Blood Drive. MI Blood will give $10 for each donation and those proceeds will go to the Animal Welfare League. 9 am to 2 pm. Then, see if you get lucky at the Cabbage Shed Sock Hop! 6 pm to 9 pm
Saturday, April 14 The 2nd annual Benzie Community Water Council 2012 Water Festival splashes down at Frankfort–Elberta High School. Discuss the responsibilities of living in the most beautiful place in America! Workshops and children’s activities, as well as connections to campaigns and projects to protect our water locally and address global challenges. At 1:30 Timothy Young of Food for Thought leads a panel discussion on new possibilities for entrepreneurship. Meet live reptiles and amphibians, eat delicious Read the rest of this entry »
Download the pdf: Water Festival Schedule 2012
ELBERTA WATERFRONT PARK—Joanne Bartley said it was the largest turnout for an Easter egg hunt she’d ever seen in her five years running the Chamber of Commerce event. The Waterfront Park lot was full, and cars spilled over to the shoulders of 168 on this bright, mild-for-April morning shortly after 10 a.m.
“Bombarded!” Bartley exclaimed, surveying the teeming hordes of shorter citizens swinging various modes of egg conveyance. The playground area, divided into age groups, had been cleared of its bounty in an estimated 10 seconds.
John Mead, district court attorney-magistrate, reported on the good behavior of the contestants. “I didn’t see any fights this year—you always have that one egg with two kids after it. Usually I have to break up a few scuffles between 7- and 8-year-old boys,” Mead said with some satisfaction.
Ken Bonney, Village DPW, was surprised by the hunt in a different way. “We didn’t know about it until we saw a sign Thursday night,” Bonney said. “I said, ‘Hey, Charlie, look at this! Looks like we better open the park!’” Ken and Charlie Hendershott then spent some time Friday cleaning and relining trash receptacles.
“We used to hold the event twice each time—10 am in Frankfort and 1 pm in Elberta. Which was just nuts,” said Bartley. She made the hunt into a moveable feast, alternating locations each year; 2011’s was a gray, drizzly, cold, and rather low-turnout day in Frankfort. “Sometimes we’re hiding eggs in the snow,” said Bartley.
Donna Phillips was in charge of the pregame meditation to get hunters focused on the task ahead of them. “We always tell people to get here early so they don’t miss it, so there’s about half an hour where we need to sing and do the wave.” Not many kids today know the words to “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” it turns out.
Aiden and William O’Dwyer of Washington Avenue, both 9, loved the hunt. Aiden was tallying his gleaming collection of colored plastic eggs containing Tootsie Frooties, packaged by the Easter Bunny’s helpers at the Maples. He had fourteen of them.
Just then, who should hop over but the great white hope herself, eager to shake hands with Aiden or possibly give him a hug, a fate that befell several other children in her path.
The Easter Bunny’s rep, Karen Dennis (who also does bookkeeping for the Chamber), flagged Bunny down so the Alert could get our exclusive interview.
“Let me get a little more presentable!” said E. Bunny, divesting herself of part of her uniform. Ms. Bunny has been working the Frankfort–Elberta egg hunt circuit for three years. She attends 11th-grade classes at Benzie Central High School, where she goes by the name of Dayanara Dennis and is a member of the National Honor Society.
The Alert complimented Bunny on her expressiveness. “Well, not being able to talk, I have to find other ways to communicate,” she said. These ways include a repertoire of effective physical gestures, such as the aforementioned hugs. The most challenging part? “Dealing with kids who are crying. Sometimes parents kind of shove their kids over to me even when they don’t really want to meet me.” But when you stop Bunny to get her photo and ask her to smile, she says, you can be sure that whatever her outward expression (there’s only one), she’s smiling big on the inside. She loves her work, and will be back again next year, on the Frankfort hunting grounds.
During the last week of March, chief color technician and Parks and Rec phenom Jennifer Wilkins, along with elves Merren Garber and Michele Cannaert, undertook to lively up the train in the Mini-Pond/Marina/Farmers Market Park. Jenn and her team spent about 15 hours all told on the project, using stain paid for by Village fan Max McKee. Wilkins also revamped the basketball hoops in Anderson Park with funds from McKee.
Kim Zavitz Micham was happy to have the news of the new paint job confirmed: “I was starting to wonder if I was losing it,” Micham said on the Alert Facebook page. “Alright Jenn!!! Your go girl, make our little village look awesome! Thank you!” she added.