The Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees held their first monthly meeting of the new year on Monday, Jan. 9 at the Bainbridge Township Hall. The meeting was called to order by Township Supervisor, Andrew Gardner. In attendance were Nancy Weber, Treasurer, and Trustees Don Baiers and John Yetzke. Office Manager, Barb Abbott, was also in attendance. Absent from the meeting was Patty Hiler-Molter, the Township Clerk.
As the new year gets underway, the board keeps moving the township forward with approving their budget worksheet for 2023, the Budget Quarterly Review for 2022-2023, the schedule of township meetings for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, a new Fee Schedule, and more.
Fee Schedule & meeting
The board, which normally meets on the second Monday of the month (unless there is a holiday or a quorum would not be met), had to make two changes to the meeting schedules. The regular township board meeting that would be held normally on Aug. 14, 2023, was moved to Aug. 7 and the planning commission meeting that would have been held on Jan. 16 was found to conflict with Martin Luther King Day so that meeting was moved to Monday, Jan. 23.
The only change to the 2023-2024 Fee Schedule was the addition of a Short Term Rental (STR) Inspection fee of $200. To rent out a property as an STR unit in Bainbridge Township, one must successfully pass an inspection and the fee for that was established and added to the schedule.
Hazard Mitigation Plan
Additionally, the board passed a resolution to accept the 2023 Berrien County Hazard Mitigation Plan. Knowing that disasters can cause loss of life, damage buildings and infrastructure, and have devastating consequences for a community’s economic, social, and environmental well-being this plan sets out to reduce loss of life and property within the county by lessening the likely impacts of disasters whether it be by natural, technological, or man-made occurrences.
The 2023 Berrien County Hazard Mitigation Plan is a multi-jurisdiction effort that is set to meet Federal standards as stated in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistant Act in a 704-page document.
The document is created and updated each year in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Michigan, Berrien County Emergency Management Office, all units of government within Berrien County, community members, local municipalities, and more.
Some of the topics covered in the plan are: Increase understanding of the disaster hazards the County faces; develop more sustainable and resilient communities; become eligible for federal funds for pre-disaster mitigation projects before disaster strikes; potentially provide financial savings to residents, including flood insurance premium reductions; reduce long-term impacts and damages to human health and structures, and reduced repair costs.
With a completion deadline of Feb. 10, 2023, the board acted quickly to make sure the resolution was adopted to ensure the safety of all residents within the township.
Lastly, the board agreed to send Article XXVI to the planning commission for consideration. This article addresses solar farms and solar panels within the township as a clean, alternative energy source and to provide for land development, insulation, and construction regulations for solar farms and similar facilities, subject to reasonable conditions that will protect the public health, safety, and welfare of all.
These regulations set out to establish minimum requirements and standards for the placement, construction, and modification of photovoltaic (PV), solar farm, and similar facilities, while promoting a renewable energy source for the community in a safe effective, and efficient manner.
Photovoltaic is the conversion of light into electricity, using semiconducting materials.
Nancy Weber presented the treasury report for December. The Township Board approved the paying of bills for a total of $49,344.71 for the month. In her report, Weber noted that there was $480.46 earned in interest for the month.
Additionally, Weber reported that the movement of funds to earn better returns has been completed at both Horizon Bank and Honor Credit Union banking institutions.
Emergency services reports
The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department submitted the statistics for November 2022. The report reflected that there were 39 complaints worked in the township with two tickets issued and four arrests made.
Pride Care Ambulance had logged 17 calls within the township for December. The report reflected an average response time of 13:34 minutes. There were six Priority I calls and eleven Priority II calls on record.
Sister Lakes Fire Department reported a EMS assist on Napier Avenue on December 21, which was their only call.
Benton Charter Township Fire Department had no calls within the township for December.
At the meeting, the board discussed and approved the Assessor’s Report submitted by Scott Anderson. Anderson has been applying to be an exemption from the State Treasury.
One of the new processes has to deal with the way the Michigan Department of Treasury (Department) conducts yearly audits by Section 8 of Michigan Compiled Law 211.7cc to ensure that only persons eligible for a Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) Audit receive the exemption.
Audits generally cover the current tax year and the three immediately preceding tax years. During the audit process, the Department sends a PRE Audit Letter and a PRE Audit Questionnaire to obtain additional information on the property and/or owner(s).
The questionnaire must be completed and returned within 30 days. A PRE denial notice is issued by the Department when either no response to the audit letter and questionnaire is received or the response received does not verify that the property was the owner(s) principal residence for the year(s) being denied.
Additionally, property tax exemptions especially for veterans like, Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veteran, a property tax exemption for 100% Disabled Veterans or Exemption of Real Estate for Veteran with Service Connected Disability, which would allow a disabled veteran or his or her surviving spouse who has not remarried to be eligible for 100% exemption of property taxes if certain criteria are met. With some changes to these exemptions, Anderson is working diligently to make sure the township residents that these changes affect are being processed correctly.
The Code Enforcement Activity Log for October through December was presented for approval. There were two inspections on record. The one from October was a second notice for litter debris. With the one from December being a first notice of an abandoned orchard found on M-140.
The Building and Zoning report submitted by Ross Rogien had shown four permits totaling $1,116.35 for the building department for December.
The Mechanical Activity Report by Ken Jewell reflected an income of $520 for three permits.
The Plumbing Report by Ken Benjamin had one permit on record in December totaling $276.
Ron Kettlehut, the Electrical Inspector for the township, issued four new permits and one additional permit totaling $1,155.
All reports were approved as presented.
Coloma Public Library Director, Mary Harrison attended Monday night’s board meeting. Harrison left a stack of the January Activity Calendars to place at the township hall for residents.
Additionally, Harrison reported that the turnover in the books that are housed in the Little Library indicates that the location is being used and she let the board know that she restocked the shelves with a few more teen selections from which to choose.
The board thanked her for coming to the meeting and adjourned shortly before 8 p.m.