Crystal Lake Township Board Meetings

March 21, 2023 — Crystal Lake Township Meeting

This month the Board of Crystal Lake Township met at 6:30PM, prior to the regular board meeting to have their annual Budget Public Hearing for 2023-2024. As I was not available to attend this hearing I refer you to the minutes of that meeting on the Crystal Lake Township website at:

On the agenda for that hearing was the presentation of this fiscal year’s Budget with Proposed Salaries, Draft Budgets for the General, Cemetery, Fire and Road Funds as well as a Draft Appropriations Act Resolution. I was present at the end of this hearing when Treasurer Popp made a motion to lower the townships current tax rates. After discussion between the board members (and with no public comment) the Board voted to keep tax rates at their current levels.

The Regular Board Meeting included reports from County Commissioner,
Karen Cunningham, Stache Pasche of the Benzie Shores Library District and Mike Cederholm from Fire and Rescue.

Commissioner Cunningham’s report included:
An announcement that $500,000 of ARPA monies would go to Betsie River Restoration and that ARPA funds would also be used for Broadband expansion in Benzie County.

Ms. Pasche of the Benzie Shores Library Branch in Frankfort:
Reported that our library in Frankfort is in the top 50% of Libraries with the highest circulation in the state! She went on to say that it’s $350,000 operating budget is paid by state aid and property taxes and that even though visits are still down since the Pandemic, circulation is trending up.

Fire Chief Mike Cederholm:
Reported that the fire department will receive $350,000 in ARPA funds for a communications tower, to be placed on Tank Hill in Frankfort.
The fire department responded to 23 fires and 53 medical calls; 10 of which occurred in Crystal Lake Township. He was proud to announce that the department passed all inspections and received $10,300 in grant money to install LED lights in the firehouse and offices.

Clerk, Judy Van Meter:
Reported that the Results of the 2022 election held in our Township Precinct had finally been officially certified by the State of Michigan.
Later in the meeting the Clerk had made a motion to delay a potentially contentious discussion involving reimbursement of expenses paid out by board members on behalf of the Township and the use of a credit card belonging to the Township.
Clerk Van Meter also notified members of options the Township has to either hold a special election to renew the road millage, or to put it on the ballot during the General Election in November 2024. A Special Election would occur typically in August and this year, it would fall on our State’s Primary date. It was generally agreed that the August 2024 date might be preferable but no motion was made to set that date.

The Zoning commissioner was not in attendance at this meeting so no updates were given on his behalf.

Treasurer Brooke Popp:
Put forth a Resolution for a road brining project, to include a number of streets off of Mollineaux Avenue. Treasurer Popp stated that this resolution came about because of a request made to her from someone in the neighborhood. She did not disclose who the person or persons were. Trustee Richard Nielsen, made the point that in the past the Township has received complaints from other residents in that same neighborhood about the process of brining and the negative impact on water quality. The resolution was not adopted at this time.

Somewhere near the end of the meeting, Commissioner Cunningham
made the suggestion that the Township Board live stream their meetings, as the County Commission does, with the use of a relatively inexpensive “Owl Camera” system. She stated that this would help with the issue of accountability.

Public Comments: none

Meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted by Elizabeth Shrake

February 21, 2023 — Crystal Lake Township Board Meeting
The Crystal Lake Township meeting for February had many local guests as well as regular agenda items and reports.

It was decided that the discussion about Bellow’s Park would be left for special meeting before the end of the month. The City of Frankfort had presented the Township with the idea of sharing costs for the Park and public beach which belong to Frankfort but is within the boundaries of the Township.

County Commissioner, Karen Cunningham:
Spoke about a grant she was working in conjunction with Benzie Senior Resource Center to bring internet access to business making under $75,000.

Jessica Carland from Benzie Bus gave an upbeat progress report on all the good services the company provides. She broke down for us the ridership for the Bus saying: “ A majority of are for medical appointments and student riders. A smaller percentage are for fixed services such as the Horizon Express Service.” She explained that the Horizon Express Service operates during the summer months on Fridays and Saturdays from 8:00-10:00 PM and is intended to help keep folks who drinking at a local establishment off the road. They hope to expand this service in the future to include more months and special occasions during the Year.

Airport director, Dick Bayer who gave an estimated figure of $3,567,000 economic impact for Benzie Co. When I asked him about that figure he gave the example of someone who flies into the Airport, goes to purchase a hamburger at a local eatery then returns to the Airport to refuel spends an average of $500.00. He reported that all the hangers were leased as of this moment and that the U.S. Coast Card and Medi-Vac make flights in and out have taken place at the Airport. Immediate and near-future impact to Township residents is the Airports procedures regarding “encroachments”. Encroachments are trees and structures that are deemed to be too high for safe clearing when planes take off or land. They are finishing the South End Project and will be moving onto the North End project.

The Board moved to the agenda item entitled, ”Financials” in which there was a very long and contentious discussion around the use of a credit card. The length and intensity of the discussion seems to indicate that Supervisor Ferris and Treasurer Popp are not communicating well prior to these meetings.

There is a Zoning Board issue within the Mollineaux neighborhood where property owners are still in a dispute over shared and public access of beach property. The backlot owners are contesting there rights to have access. Zoning Board administrator, Tom Kucera stated, ”Front lot owners cannot impede back lot owners from using the beach property.” He also stated that they are allowed to walk on beach property along the shoreline.

Even though this is outlined in a “Police Ordinance” by the Township, a discussion about enforcement ensued (since the Township itself doesn’t have a police department).

Greg Wright of the Planning Commission, accused but did not name directly, a Board member whom he claims has possibly violated the law by interfering in an important Planning Commission affair. The later half of this meeting was very intense!

Respectfully submitted by Elizabeth Shrake

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