The Columbia Township Board tonight voted to delete the outdoor living space regulation known as 20.11. The proposed addition to zoning ordinances raised significant public concern and was increasingly opposed.  

For almost five years, the Columbia Township Planning Commission has worked on a rewrite of township zoning ordinances to bring them into line with current state law.  Normally an ordinance package like this would start with the Planning Commission and go next to the Board of Trustees for their approval.  In this case, the Board had directed Landplan, the private company that crafts ordinances for the township, to create this version of 20.11, to be placed in the package.

The purpose of the latest iteration of 20.11 was to ensure you, as a property owner, did not obstruct your neighbor’s right and left views, as well as straight ahead.  It would have impacted both lakefront and non-lakefront properties, and was specifically targeted at “backyards.”  (To the Township your backyard abuts the lake, and your front yard faces the street).

What could have been affected?  Possibilities included decks, fire pits, grills, and retaining walls.  To review potential consequences had the ordinance not been eliminated, please click here.

In this video, view Trustee Robin Tackett make the motion to drop this version of 20.11 and send it to the Planning Commission.  Then Treasurer John Calhoun points out some of the problems with ROLA and why the Board rolled it back.  You’ll also see the roll call vote.

The Planning Commission had been on record as adamantly opposed to the version of 20.11 that the Board repudiated tonight.  So what’s next?  Speaking for herself and not as the chairperson of the Planning Commission, Terry Mahr said she did not see a need for 20.11.  “Neighbors should have the opportunity to work these things out for themselves.”  Trustee Flip Reynolds, also a member of the Planning Commission, says he researched other townships and found they had no such regulations.  “Not needed,” says Flip.

Before the rest of the new ordinance package can become law, it first must meet the transparency of a public hearing.  That date has not yet been announced, and will be scheduled by Township Supervisor Bob Elrod.

At the October 15 meeting of the Township Board of Trustees, residents voiced their opposition to 20.11.  Click to see what they said.