BERRIEN SPRINGS — A Berrien Springs couple wants to use the M-139 property they own as a soccer training facility. Bindy and Octavio Latino presented their plans to the Oronoko Township Planning Commission on Tuesday night. They will come back April 2 for a public hearing on their special use request.
They must ask for a special use permit to operate a recreational facility because their property is zoned residential, although it has been marketed and assessed as a commercial property. Building Official Rich Kubsch said the land in that area is zoned residential despite the long history of manufacturing facilities there.
The 24-acre property was formerly home to the Weimer Septic Tank company. It is south of the Two by Two Animal Hospital and the Twin Springs gravel mining operation on M-139, on the north side of the township.
Octavio Latino said they plan to use one of the buildings on the property as a 1,500 square foot winter-time soccer training facility for their children and other young people. Future plans include renovating other buildings on the property, as well as establishing an outside soccer field.
“It’s hard to find a place to go to practice soccer in the winter months,” he said. “Our son is in an Olympic development program in Indianapolis. If you’re playing at a regional level, you often have to travel a distance.”
Latino said their plans call for only providing a place where youth can practice. “It’s not a business with anyone paying,” he said. “It’s just about playing and we may do some teaching and coaching.”
“If you have people coming in and playing sports, you need a special use,” commission vice chairman Eric Stoub said. “We will have a public hearing, deliberate and put conditions on your request. If you want to do more, you can come back and ask for another permit.”
“The township’s concern is to make sure the building is safe. The township has a responsibility,” township attorney Robert Landgraf said.
Planning commissioners had expected to act Tuesday on site plans submitted for a marijuana growing facility on Shawnee Road, but had to delay action until April after insufficient site plans were submitted.
Pure Ventures operator Dan Van Treese said he will be getting a proper site plan to the commission well in advance of the commission’s April 2 meeting. He noted that he has agreed to all the items commissioners suggested in February, including hours of operation, handicapped accessibility and external lighting.
The facility will be in the former Exquisite Homes office building on Shawnee Road, behind the senior center. Exquisite Homes is in the process of relocating to the former Erhard Furniture building on M-139 in the next few months.
Van Treese said the Shawnee Road building will be the home of a grow operation, to be leased to a licensed caregiver raising plants for five patients. State law allows there to be 12 marijuana plants per patient in such a facility. He said the building will be locked down and secured and security cameras and other upgrades will be in place.
Landgraf said last month that the 2008 voter-approved medical marijuana law allows for caregivers to operate anywhere, regardless of zoning districts or local laws. He said the planning commission can rule only on whether the site plan meets safety and health requirements outside of medical marijuana considerations.