Millages, resort ordinance updated at Niles Township

Published 1:24 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2020

NILES TOWNSHIP — On Wednesday, Nov. 4 the Niles Charter Township Board of Trustees met for a special meeting to decide on two new millage levy amounts approved by voters. The board also discussed an amendment to the Niles Charter Township ordinance concerning resorts.

The township’s “Police Protection Millage Proposal” was given a “yes” vote by constituents, resulting in a 4,518 yes to 1,608 no vote, according to The vote reaffirmed the millage for four more years, and continues the contract with the township has with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office.
According to township Treasurer Jim Ringler, the millage will provide just over $424,000 of funding for police protection.

“Our actual budget is slightly over a million bucks,” Ringler said, of the police budget. “So, [the township is] still subsidizing over half a million dollars.”

The millage was approved to be levied for the full amount of one mill by the board of trustees in a unanimous vote, with Clerk Terry Eull absent.

The second millage approved by voters was for the Niles Charter Township Fire Protection millage. Voters approved with 4,158 votes “yes” with 1,964 “no” votes.

The township can now levy up to 5.5 mills for the Niles Charter Township Fire Department.

“Over the past 5 to 6 years, we’ve never levied over 2.85 mills even though [voters] voted for four,” Ringler said.

The township board voted to again levy just 2.85 mills to continue funding the fire department.

“I want to publicly thank the voters of Niles Township for supporting our fire department,” Ringler said. “It was a little difficult to understand the millage language, just because of the way it had to be worded, but our voters stepped up and supported it.”

Finally, during the special meeting, language for resorts were discussed in the township board.

Greg Kil, of Kil Architecture and Planning in South Bend, was in attendance to speak on behalf of his clients, Amber and Braden Janowski, owners of The Morris Estate.

“I think I shared in an email with you the specific vision for the clients’ property,” Kil said to the board members. “A low density, family run and family managed resort It would be done addressing the concerns you have had concerning buffer zoning. As a planner, and as an architect, I appreciate your role in creating an ordinance and the language constraints, and I agree with staff’s comments on working with the planner and consultant.”

Board members questioned the size needed to create a “resort” within the township, and how much area on the property was appropriate for a sound and visual buffer zone from neighboring properties.

The planner also mentioned a small restaurant on the sight, with capacity to host up to 45 people.

The board members voted to change the resort ordinance in the township from requiring 20 acres for a resort, to requiring 80 contiguous acres to zone a resort.