Isabella County Hazard Mitigation Planning Effort Seeks Public Input

Isabella County has experienced several local emergencies and disasters in recent years including floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. Every five years, the County updates its Hazard Mitigation Plan to identify the greatest threats and hazards facing our community, and determines how we can best mitigate the impacts.

Hazard Mitigation is any effort to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to human life and property. Although floods and other events cannot be prevented from occurring, long-term solutions can be implemented to reduce devastating impacts on residents, families, homes, infrastructure, and natural resources.

The goal of a Hazard Mitigation Plan is to save lives, property, and natural resources by reducing the community’s vulnerability to emergency disasters. Residents and other community stakeholders are invited to engage in this vital planning process by completing a brief survey. Results will inform planners what specific hazards cause the most concern, and ultimately identify community assets to protect.

The survey, open to all individuals who live, work and play in Isabella County, will take approximately 10 minutes to complete and is available at https://tinyurl.com/IsabellaHMP . Survey deadline is March 28, 2022.

Zoning Ordinance Variance Information

Ordinance History and Statistics

Lately there has been a significant amount of conversation regarding the City of Mt. Pleasant’s restaurant drive through vehicle stacking requirements. Therefore, what better time to review and share the history and process of zoning ordinance and variance information. The City’s zoning ordinance requires 200 feet of stacking space to enable safe traffic flow and avoid any backups on City streets and sidewalks. This standard, adopted by the City Commission in 1984, applies to all restaurant drive throughs established since that time. There are currently 22 drive through restaurants in the City averaging 227 stacking feet. The average amount of stacking plus additional on-site overflow is 319 feet.

The Process

Businesses wishing to establish a drive through must:

  • Apply to the Planning Commission and receive approval of a special use permit. This process includes a review ensuring all ordinance requirements are met and a public hearing is held. In general, special use permits are established to address potential impacts on neighboring properties and the general public.
  • If a business does not believe they can meet one or more of the requirements for a drive through they can apply to the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and request a variance (a modification of requirement).

Per the State of Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act, the ZBA acts as a quasi-judicial body reviewing local zoning ordinance cases. The ZBA is a separate entity from the Planning Commission, City Commission and City staff. The ZBA must review a request for variance against criteria related to practical hardship (that is, the need for a variance arises from a circumstance unique to the property which is not the result of actions taken by the applicant.) A variance cannot be granted in situations where the standards of the ordinance can be met.

Variances require the approval of a majority of the members of the ZBA, which for the City of Mt. Pleasant’s ZBA is three affirmative votes. As specified by the State of Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act, applicants who wish to appeal a ZBA decision may do so at Circuit Court. ZBA decisions are not appealable to any other board or public body under state law.

Recent Variance Request

On December 15, 2021 the ZBA reviewed a request for two variances from the City’s standards for drive through restaurants. One was a variance related to screening, which was approved. The second was a reduction of the required vehicle stacking from 200 feet to 120 feet which failed to receive the three votes required for approval.

The City Commission discussed this specific case at its January 24, 2022 meeting. Per State of Michigan law, the City Commission is unable to hear an appeal of any ZBA decision, nor is it able to refer the ZBA to review the same issue again. However, the City Commission did direct the Planning Commission to review the City’s drive through stacking requirement standard and provide options, if any, for the City Commission to consider. This review will occur at the Planning Commission’s March 3, 2022 meeting.

The City has not issued any tickets or halted drive-through operation through this process, and the City Commission has directed City staff to continue to stay enforcement related to the drive through stacking requirement while this ordinance is being reviewed.

Mt. Pleasant Police Department Retirements and Promotions

The Mt. Pleasant Police Department is pleased to announce the latest retirement and promotion news.

Sergeant Shawn Paull will be retiring on December 28, after more than 27 years of service to the Mt. Pleasant Police Department (MPPD). Shawn began his career as an Officer in 1994, and was promoted to Sergeant in 1999. During his time with the MPPD, Shawn was a member of the Emergency Services Team, a leader of the Honor Guard, oversaw all maintenance for the Bike Patrol Unit, and was in the Youth Services Unit.

Shawn shared he will miss the comradery with his fellow officers, as well as the sense of purpose and personal pride that comes from serving the community.

Officer Justin Nau has been promoted to Sergeant and will assume his new duties on December 26. Justin possesses more than 13 years of law enforcement experience with 9 of those years with the MPPD. During his MPPD tenure, Justin has served as a Defensive Tactics Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Youth Services Unit Officer, Field Training Officer, and was a team leader on the Emergency Services Team.

Officer Joshua Theisen has been named Youth Services Unit Officer. This sole position has many responsibilities which include serving as the liaison between the Mt. Pleasant Public Schools, business community, private organizations, law enforcement agencies, juvenile and adult courts, PEAK and Central Michigan University. In addition, this position takes a proactive approach to reducing and preventing crime by being involved with the community’s youth at a young age, and serving as a role model and providing guidance and support when needed. When school is not in session, the YSU Officer manages summer programs, such as the Youth Police Academy, and is on bike patrol.

Joshua joined the MPPD in 2015 and has worked road patrol. He is also a Motor Officer and is a member of the Emergency Services Team.

Mt. Pleasant High School Threat Investigated by Mt. Pleasant Police – UPDATED 12/10/2021

On December 9, 2021 at approximately 7:50 a.m. officers from the Mt. Pleasant Police Department (MPPD) responded to a written gun threat found at Mt. Pleasant High School. The school was already in enhanced secure mode when officers arrived. Police conducted a complete security check of the school, and as an extra precaution brought in bomb sniffing dogs. There were no weapons or bombs found during these searches.

While on site, police spoke with the student who initially discovered and reported the threat and found inconsistencies in their statement. That same student later admitted to writing the gun threats on Tuesday, December 7 and Thursday, December 9.

The investigation report was turned over to the Isabella County Prosecutors Office which led to the detention of the 15-year-old student, who is charged with two counts of Intentional Threat to Commit Act of Violence Against the School. One count is a felony, and the other is a misdemeanor.

The Mt. Pleasant Police Department was assisted by Central Dispatch and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police Department.

Isabella County Enhances 9-1-1 Services and Emergency Notification with Smart911; Replacing CodeRED

Isabella County public safety officials announced Smart911 is now available for free to all residents. Individuals who were previously signed up for CodeRED will need to sign up for Smart911 to receive timely and actionable emergency alerts via email, text or voice message. This should be completed before the CodeRED system is discontinued on December 6, 2021.

Smart911 not only informs citizens of emergencies, but allows individuals to create a Safety Profile for their household, if they wish. These profiles include detailed information citizens want 9-1-1 representatives and response teams to know in the event of an emergency. Profiles can be completed by visiting www.smart911.com or downloading the Smart911 App.

With this new system, when an individual makes an emergency call their Safety Profile is automatically displayed for the 9-1-1 representative, enabling the proper response team(s) to be dispatched to an exact location with detailed information. Examples include fire crews knowing how many people reside in a household, EMS staff being informed of allergies or specific medical conditions, or police having a photo of a missing child in seconds, rather than minutes or hours.

Sign up for free at www.isabellacounty.org/911, www.smart911.com, or by downloading the Smart911 App.  

Trick or Treating Safety Reminders and Pumpkin Promenade Fun

The City of Mt. Pleasant’s Trick-or-Treating hours are 6 – 8 p.m. on October 31. Please remember the following safety tips.

  • Remain on well-lit streets, and use sidewalks.
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and use crosswalks.
  • Carry a flashlight and/or wear reflective clothing.

Guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

At the end of September, the CDC provided this Halloween guidance:

  • Trick-or-treat outside, in small groups.
  • Avoid crowded, large indoor Halloween parties.
  • Mask up.
  • Social distance.
  • Properly wash hands.

Refer to the www.cdc.gov website for updates.

Pumpkin Promenade to Provide Happy Haunting

The Pumpkin Promenade is scheduled for Friday, October 29 from 4-6 p.m. in downtown Mt. Pleasant. Children 12 years and under are invited to dress in their Halloween costumes, trick-or-treat outside of downtown businesses, and enjoy kid-friendly outdoor activities at Town Center.

City of Mt. Pleasant Holiday Hours and Firework Reminders

CITY OF MT. PLEASANT HOLIDAY HOURS

City offices will be closed on Monday, July 5, 2021. Refuse and recycling pick-up will be delayed one day all week.

FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORK REMINDERS FOR THE CITY OF MT. PLEASANT

A person may only discharge or use consumer fireworks on private property on June 29 – July 4 from 11 a.m. – 11:45 p.m.

Individuals should not ignite, discharge, or use consumer fireworks, homemade fireworks, articles pyrotechnics or display fireworks on public property, school property, church property, or the property of another person without permission to do so.

Violations shall be punishable with fines of $500 up to $1,000.

Additionally, a minor shall not possess, ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks. Fireworks shall not be used while a person is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or during times when a burning ban has been established by the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, MI. For a list of burning restrictions by county, visit http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/burnpermits/.

SAFETY TIPS

For those planning on discharging fireworks this July Fourth holiday, please follow the City regulations as stated above, and practice these safety tips:

1.    Read and follow all warning and instructions.

2.    Never allow children to play with fireworks of any kind.

3.    Wear protective clothing, including eye wear.

4.    Only light devices on smooth, flat surfaces away from residential areas, dry leaves and flammable materials.

5.    Always keep a hose or bucket of water nearby in case of malfunction.

6.    Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.

The best way to protect your family is to avoid the use of fireworks at home entirely. 

Broadway Central to Feature Festive Atmosphere

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, changes in current business operations, and positive feedback from business owners and residents, Broadway Street between Main and University Streets will once again be closed for restaurant and merchant use. This closure will take place from May 1 – October 17, 2021.

This year, “Broadway Central” will feature additional picnic tables and umbrellas and visitors will be able to utilize the space in a variety of ways. To assist in easy, social-distancing ordering and food delivery, QR codes will link to downtown restaurant menus.

The Saturday Farmers’ Market as well as Art Reach’s Paint the Intersection are just a few of the activities planned to take place in this new, festive space.

More information and offerings will be shared in the near future. If you have questions, please contact Michelle Sponseller, Downtown Development Director at msponseller@mt-pleasant.org or (989) 779-5348.

Safety Information Regarding Fall Sports – Mt. Pleasant Recreation Department

Dear Parents,

First of all, thank you for your involvement in Mt. Pleasant Parks and Recreation programming.  We are thrilled to have our community’s youth outdoors and staying active as we enter into the Fall season.  As always, the health and safety of our community – especially those involved in our programs – remains our top priority. Our department is taking steps to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but this is a community effort, and one which requires the support and assistance from all of us to be effective.

As most of you are aware, the Central Michigan District Health Department recently issued a public health emergency order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This order reinforces the importance of all participants adhering to our program safety guidelines. To host our programs, the guidelines below must be followed:

  • Equipment and supplies for outdoor athletic practices are shared to the minimum extent possible and are subject to frequent and thorough disinfection and cleaning as outlined in Executive Order 2020-160.
  • The gathering is designed to ensure that persons not part of the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times.
  • The gathering must continue to comply with mask wearing provisions of Executive Order 2020-153.

Soccer and flag football practices take place in public spaces, and are highly visible to the general publicAll it takes is one person to voice a concern or complaint putting both programs in jeopardy. Therefore, we must ALL remain vigilant and keep interactions to a minimum, wear a face covering, and maintain proper social distancing. If we all do our part, we can continue to keep our kids active and engaged this Fall. In addition, we can be an example to our community that these programs can operate in a safe and responsible manner. 

Thank you once again to our participating families and volunteer coaches for doing your part in keeping our community safe and providing our youth with a rewarding outdoor experience this Fall. Please stay safe and healthy and we will see you on the field.

Ryan Longoria, CPRP

Director of Recreation and Sports

City of Mt. Pleasant

Thirty-five pounds of pills collected at Prescription Drug Drop Off

A total of 35 pounds of pills were collected during a Prescription Drug Drop Off event held this month at the Isabella County Commission on Aging in partnership with Ten16 Recovery Network and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department.

Prescription Drug Drop Off events are held in the community several times throughout the year and allow residents to drop off unwanted or outdated prescription medication to ensure it is disposed of in a safe manner. It also keeps the drugs out of the hands of people who would misuse them, as well as prevents them from entering landfills and groundwater.

The Mt. Pleasant Police Department thanks the partners for this event and the public for helping keep the community safe and healthy.

 

Community members may also safely discard prescription medication at the
Mt. Pleasant Police Department at any time.  

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