06-21-2018 Coloma Township Board learns permit needed on dog park; Planning Commission will hold a h

Coloma Township Board learns permit needed on dog park; Planning Commission will hold a hearing

By Annette Christie A plan by a local Girl Scout to build a dog park in Coloma Township has hit another snag. Caleigh Dahn was on hand to update the Coloma Township Board at their Wednesday, June 13 meeting on how the dog park was coming that they had previously approved. The original plan was presented to them earlier in 2018 as Dahn described that she would do the leg work and put in the effort to raise money for turning a portion of the Washington School Park to include a dog park. She spoke with pride, as she should, about the quarter auction held, grant received, and donations from both the Watervliet and Coloma Schools for picnic tables and benches. Dahn raised over the $10,000 goal and presented t-shirts to the board at their meeting bearing the name “Amicus Dog Park.” Dahn said that trees have been planted and the dirt has been brought in. A fence will be put in place and the final touches will be completed by the August 5 Grand Opening at 2:00 p.m.

IN PROGRESS… Work has begun by volunteers on what will be Amicus Dog Park located in Coloma Township. The dog park is the brainchild of Girl Scout Caleigh Dahn as she works toward her Gold Star Award. A grand opening is scheduled for August 2 at 2:00 p.m. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Dahn’s efforts have not gone without controversy. The month after she made her initial presentation and received approval by the Coloma Township Board, individuals associated with the baseball and softball organization that plays on fields located within the same park were on hand with questions and complaints. By the April meeting, the two parties had come to an agreeable solution. At their meeting this month was the mother of a concerned citizen who could not be present. Roxanne Daugherty said her daughter Misty Weaver-Ketchum lives next door to the proposed park and was never notified of the plan. She said that her daughter’s life will be very difficult without a privacy fence between her property and the dog park. She said that if her daughter would have been asked she would have asked for it to not be up against her property. One township official said that a road would separate the dog park from the property being discussed but still, Supervisor Ken Parrigin told Daugherty that he would look into it. Daugherty continued to go on about the concern for parvo, unleashed animals, waste, etc. She made a statement about dogs that come to the park and don’t have their proper shots and the risk for disease. Dahn interjected that parents have the same risk when they take their children to a playground where they may play with other children that do not have immunizations. In response to the waste, Dahn said she is providing 2,000 dog waste baggies to get the project started and there will be trash cans on site. It was during the Planning Commission update that Jim Fulton told the board that because the park is in a residential zone, the township board must request a special land use permit and a public hearing must be held. Fulton said all the residents would then get notice and be allowed to speak. Ultimately the township board would be the body approving the special land use permit. Fulton said he is unsure whether there was ever a permit issued for the ball fields that have been on the property for years, nor did the township seek a special land use permit for it when they assumed the property from the school district.

Board approves Planning Commission recommendations In other Planning Commission related news, the Township Board confirmed a recommendation from the Planning Commission for two different situations. One approval was for weekly rentals being allowed for property located at 5358 Paw Paw Lake Road. Greg Rood told the board that he has purchased the cottages at that location and returned them to their 1974 charm. He has made many improvements to the property. He has had requests from residents in the area for weekly rentals for their family members coming in town to visit. The other approval was for an equine rehab center on Mountain Road, in the old Pride Care building. Tammy Kettlehut told the board that this would be the first equine rehabilitation center in Michigan. With every state around us hosting large horse shows, she expects this to be a go to place for large animals needing rehabilitation. She said that animals that are recovering from surgery now have to go to Kentucky or New York, as those are the closest. Kelly Drain After a lengthy discussion between Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin and residents plagued with water problems due to the Kelly Drain, the Coloma Township Board approved a resolution that will put the long needed repairs in the process. Quattrin said he was made aware of the problem from people having some flooding and the Public Works Department in the township having trouble. Quattrin ordered that an inspection and scoping be completed to give an idea of what was happening. “People need an education to not put yard garbage and leaves in a drain, it causes an obstruction,” Quattrin said. Quattrin explained that by statute he only had the authority to expend $5,000 per mile in any one year for the maintenance of a drain, and any excess to that must be approved by the governing body if they will be affected by more than 20% of the total cost. The expected costs as presented by Quattrin were in the amount of $40,000 including the work of contractor B & Z, engineering, financing and a contingency amount. Papers presented by Quattrin showed that there were 270 properties in the project that will pay for the three-year assessment. All of the residents present at the meeting, that spoke, spoke in favor of fixing the problem.