sun and news 4-10-2021

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The Sun and News, Saturday, April 10, 2021/ Page 11

Rezoning would

make way for more

development in rural

Irving Township

Rebecca Pierce
A rezoning request, if
approved by Barry County
commissioners, will open the
door to residential develop-
ment on 35 acres of wooded
rural property in the north-
western portion of the coun-
At their first in-person
meeting since Nov. 17, com-
missioners briefly consid-
ered a request to rezone the
property in Irving Township’s
Section 30, north of State
Road, as rural residential,
instead of its current zoning
classification of conservation
They voted unanimously
to recommend the request for
approval at their in-person
board meeting at 9 a.m.
Tuesday at Leason Sharpe
Hall in the Barry Community
Enrichment Center.
Planning Commission
Director Jim McManus told
commissioners that, when
this particular zoning ordi-
nance was done, they knew
the owners, the Robinson
family, wished to have a por-
tion of their property placed
into a conservation easement
with the Southwest Michigan
Land Conservancy.
“So we planned and zoned
it all for that purpose,” he
said. “This (particular) acre-
age was not included in the
conservation easement. They
have since sold it. They went
through the land division
process and they deeded split
rights to the purchaser for the
purpose of dividing the prop-
Jon Raymond, of Kay-D
Development LLC in
Middleville, made the
request, which went before
the county planning commis-
sion during a Zoom session
of a March 22 public hear-
“There was some public
comment; most of it was
against the recommenda-
tion,” McManus told com-
missioners Tuesday. “But the
Planning Commission voted,
4-3, to recommend approval
to you to rezone it.”
“Our Master Plan is 15
years old,” he added. “It
needs to be updated. We
hope to be able to start that
this year. If this were a
3-year-old Master Plan, we
might think a little bit differ-
ently. But some of the com-
mitments out in that area
have already been done.
“We’ve already rezoned
some property -- kind of
against the Master Plan rec-
ommendations -- near this
property. So this recommen-
dation, I think, is thought-
Commissioner Vivian
Conner serves on the plan-
ning commission board and
she voted to OK the rezoning
“This property was not
conserved with the rest of it.
They had the development
rights,” she pointed out to
commissioners Tuesday. “It
was pretty clear that the trust,
the family, knew that this

was going to be developed. It
was pretty clear and, with
our need for housing, I
thought it fit, especially
where it’s located.
“I drove out there. There’s
lots of nice land out there. He
(Raymond) is going to have
some pretty nice lots. They’re
not going to be small. But it’s
going to be, I think, consis-
tent with some of the other
housing in the area.
“As Jim said, our Master
Plan is way past due. (And)
the fact that they didn’t con-
serve it, I thought it met the
requirements for being
When Conner voted for
the request during the March
22 public hearing, she was
joined by fellow planning
commissioners Jack
Nadwornik, Jack Miner and
John LaForge. Voting against
the request were planning
commissioners Joyce Snow,
Robert Vanderboegh and
Chairman Clyde Morgan.
Vanderboegh, who was
having trouble connecting to
the planning commission
meeting audio, signaled his
disfavor with a thumbs-down
to indicate his “no” vote.
Residents who live near
the property also expressed
their opposition during the
March 22 public hearing.
Wayne Conard said he is
in the process of building a
house next to his mother’s
residence. He said he’s wor-
ried the development would
have an impact on taxes,
wildlife and stargazing. He
asked, if the rezoning were to
be approved, would it have
to involve all 35 acres.
Another resident, Brian
Pappas, said, “I am opposed.
Nothing against Jon
(Raymond), we just don’t
want it there. I farm and hunt
and that would really screw
things up, too.
It should stay in the con-
Sara Syswerda, who lives
on the other side of the road
from the property proposed
for development, also
expressed opposition to
rezoning it as rural residen-
“A lot of that parcel is
wetland,” she noted. “I feel
there are going to be some
drainage issues – and I know
there are several rare and
protected species.” She
expressed concern about dis-
rupting the habitat of spotted
turtles and massasauga rat-
Written opposition from
Steven and Michelle Pappas
was sent via email to urge the
planning commission to keep
the property undeveloped to
foster wildlife.
During the public hearing,
Conner told these residents
that undeveloped land is to
the north and west of the
“There’s lots of habitat for
wild animals,” she said.
But Planning
Commissioner Joyce Snow
pointed out that “part of the
Master Plan is to keep the
natural land we have. ...It

seems there are a lot of plac-
es you could build where you
don’t go into open land.”
Raymond, who said any
wetlands would not be
touched, pointed out that the
land he’s planning to develop

is not open. “It’s all wooded.
...No farm ground is being
Planning Commissioner
John LaForge said the action
to rezone this property is
more of a map correction to a

county-initiated zoning clas-
sification than an actual
rezoning; the conservation
reserve designation would
require 20-acre parcels while
the rural residential has a
1-acre minimum with 150-

feet of road frontage.
Raymond said he intends
to build a private road to
serve the seven parcels along
the north side of West State

This Irving Township property in Section 30, along the north side of N. State Road, is being proposed for rezon-
ing to allow for rural residential development.
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