Gravel pit ordinance changes prompt new public hearing
IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP - The Ironwood Township Board approved the text amendment to ordinance 50, related to sand and gravel pits, Monday, with hopes of changing a portion of the document later.
Board members expressed concern about hours of operation of pits. Under the ordinance, hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays.
Many residents complained about the hours during previous public hearings, and the board discussed possibly limiting hours on Saturday. It decided to limit the hours on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., with no crushing on weekends.
Before a motion could be made, however, the issue was raised as to whether the board would have to have a public hearing if the ordinance were to be changed. Clerk Gayla Salmi and supervisor Alan Baron were unsure as to how to go about the changes after both spoke to township attorney Mark McDonald.
Salmi was under the impression if the board wanted something changed, it would need another hearing.
Board members said another public hearing wouldn't be a bad thing, as "any public input is good," treasurer Jyl Renee Olson-DeRosso said.
Trustee Kevin Lyons felt a hearing was needed after the public was told "several times" by township planning commission chair Faith Newberry the board would have a public hearing.
Salmi said a public hearing would have to be scheduled exactly two weeks from the publication date. Once the hearing is held, and the board makes the decision to change the hours, the ordinance has to wait an additional 30 days before it is officially in place.
Instead of waiting, Salmi recommended getting the ordinance in place first, then changing the hours.
"We should get this established right away, then make the changes, instead of waiting," Salmi said.
Instead of waiting two weeks, plus the 30-day waiting period, a motion was made to approve the document as it is currently written. Once the document is approved, the board will then discuss setting a public hearing date to make the change to the hours of operation.
The motion was approved 5-2, withKathy Maki and Lyons opposed.
Township resident Rudy Grbavcich spoke to the board about a millage to help with road improvements.
During a board meeting May 12, the board was told the one mill designated for the township fire truck was expiring because the truck was paid off. It was discussed about keeping the mill to use for roads, keeping the township millage rate at 4.2714.
Some board members also discussed adding an additional half mill to include for road improvements, but nothing was officially decided.
Grbavcich spoke Monday against the proposed millage, saying he was "concerned" about the township's fiscal responsibility and how "road improvements have not been a top priority."
Grbavcich specifically highlighted past due water bills from locations like Mill Trace Apartments and the trailer court, a $30,000 loan to the Gogebic Range Solid Waste Authority and continuing litigation regarding a proposed gravel pit on North Star Road and how those funds could be used for roads.
Salmi corrected Grbavcich, saying water bills are from the utility fund, and can't be used for road improvements. Salmi also said it was a $20,000 loan to the GRSWA which came from the garbage fund, not available for road construction.
Grbavcich filed a request through the Freedom of Information Act during the meeting to determine how much the gravel pit litigation is costing the township.
"I'm guessing $60,000, which is being spent on a 'special interest group' because it's only a handful of people," Grbavcich said. " ... It's up to the board to make roads a top priority."