Monday, March 28, 2011

Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting Tonight

A quick reminder that tonight there will be a meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The meeting is to consider a variance request at 1067 Crown Point. The nature of the request would be to reduce the required street yard setback from 35 to 25 feet and reduce the minimum single side yard requirement from 8 to 7 feet.

The meeting is at 5:30 PM at the Village Hall.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fence Regulations Updated

At last Tuesday's Village Council the Village Council held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to amend the regulation of fences within the village. This is actually the second public hearing held on this ordinance by the Village Council. In addition to these public hearings, the Planning Commission also conducted two public hearings prior to this ordinance being adopted.

Throughout the process with this ordinance extra effort was given to obtain the public's input. The Planning Commission created a study group to review sample ordinances and make recommendations on proposed changes. In addition to this study group, the Village held two focus group meetings.

At these focus group meetings village staff reviewed the various types of regulations and where there was overlap or conflict with the various property owner regulations at Lake Isabella.

Lastly, the Village conducted an online survey to gather feedback on the original draft. The entire process took over 2 years.

The ordinance adopted at Tuesday's meeting will go into effect one week after the notice of adoption is published. That publication is scheduled for this Saturday. Anything existing or permitted prior to that date will be "grandfathered in." Meaning that it is legally allowed to stay.

The primary goal of the ordinance is to reduce areas where the Village has regulations in conflict with the various plat restrictions in the community. In years past this has resulted in a property owner being granted approval for a project by the Village and then being denied a permit by his/her property owners association. With four property owners associations located within the incorporated limits of the Village conflicts were easy to find.

Additionally, the Planning Commission and study group took the comments from the focus groups and survey and gave a priority to the appearance of the fences that are in the community.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Village Hall.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Property Tax Estimator

The folks at the Michigan Department of Treasury have a handy online tool that you can use to see what your total estimated property taxes are. It also allows you to check how the rates differ from location to location by selecting a different place in a drop-down menu.

To view for yourself, simply follow this link: State of Michigan Property Tax Estimator

Using this website, the Village created the following chart showing how our millage rate stacks up against other area units of government.

While the difference over a year might not seem great, when you break it down into how much it can change a mortgage payment, the difference takes on meaning. For example, a property with a $60,000 taxable value and a primary residence exemption in Lake Isabella will escrow just under $128 a month to cover all taxes. Take that same property and move it to the Village of Shepherd and your monthly escrow payment jumps nearly $100. Likewise, that same property would pay an extra $85 per month if it were located in the City of Mt. Pleasant.

Friday, March 4, 2011

So Far So Good

As of March 1st the Village still has over 40% of its budgeted funds remaining for snow removal. February was by far the worst month of the season with expenses equalling the total for the prior two months. Based on past winters, we should have seen about 86% of the total hours for the season spent by the end of February. We are nearly 30 percentage points below that mark for this season.

Also adding to the work was the type of snow that came. Snow can vary greatly in terms of weight and moisture content. The heavier a snow is the more work it takes to clear it from the right-of-way. With a heavier snow also comes more mailbox damage. Most of the time mailboxes are damaged not from being hit by the plow truck, but rather from the force of the snow being thrown from the road.

The Village does provide compensation to residents when this occurs. While under no obligation to cover damage to mailboxes as they are located within the Village's right-of-way, the Village does reimburse the resident up to $30. Upon receiving a compliant of a damaged mailbox, Village staff will inspect the address and if verified a check is then issued. Village staff does not physically replace the box or post.

In terms of our snow total this winter. According to statistics on, we have seen 59.1 inches. This is about normal for a La Nina winter. In 1998-99 we saw 59 inches for the winter; and in 2000-01 we had 62.6 inches. It is a very nice break from winters of 2003-04 through 2007-2008 where we saw an average of 99.5 inches...which is over 8 feet of snow.

Finally, as of today when this season is factored in with past records, Lake Isabella averages just under 70 inches of snow per winter season over the past 25 years.