Sturgis commissioner resigns; extreme weather center proceeding 

Sturgis City Commissioner Brandon Kinsey announces his resignation from the commission, effective at the end of October. Kinsey, who was appointed in November 2021 to the second precinct seat, is stepping down to focus on his pastoral and family obligations. (Dan Cherry for Watershed Voice)

A Sturgis city commissioner plans to step down next month, and the next step in the process to open an extreme weather center was greenlit Wednesday by the Sturgis City Commission.

Commissioner Brandon Kinsey, who joined the commission in November 2021, announced at the end of the meeting he plans to resign his seat at the end of October. Kinsey, on the pastoral staff at Radiant Life Church in Sturgis, said his obligations with his primary occupation have made it necessary to devote his time and energy there.

“It was not an easy decision,” Kinsey said. “I need to say no to a good thing to say yes to a better thing.”

His fellow commissioners and Mayor Jeff Mullins accepted his announcement with regret, and each offered words of encouragement  and gratitude for his service.

City clerk Ken Rhodes said the commission may hold candidate interviews for the second precinct seat as soon as the next meeting Oct. 11, and appoint Kinsey’s replacement at the Oct. 25 meeting. That person would then sit in on the commission’s organizational meeting in November.

The St. Joe Co-Op facility in the Old Journal Building on the west side of Sturgis became one step closer to becoming an extreme weather center during cold or hot weather events, after the city commission Wednesday approved language allowing for an EWC. (Dan Cherry for Watershed Voice)

The commission voted unanimously to approve a second reading of draft ordinance language that would allow a center for people to temporarily stay during an extremely high- or low-temperature weather event.

At the Aug. 23 meeting, city staff presented information on amendments to the zoning ordinance related to extreme weather centers. Krysti Boughton, executive director of the St. Joe Community Co-Op, has expressed interest in operating such a center in the co-op building at 307 W. Chicago Road in Sturgis.

An extreme weather center is defined as a building that provides a location on a temporary basis for people during extreme temperatures but does not include any form of housing or a place to sleep. An EWC would be listed as a special land use in various zoning districts.

Individuals or groups looking to develop a property with special land use for a center would be required to get approval of the Sturgis Planning Commission, which would include required public notice. As part of the planning commission approval process, it would also allow for special conditions to be placed on an applicant’s property.

In order for a location to be considered an extreme weather center, the building must comply with building and fire codes, as well as all other state, county or local laws and ordinances. A floor, operations or management plan must also be provided, as well as a site plan noting parking for volunteers and patrons.

The special land use would require a use permit with an annual renewal, Will Prichard said during Wednesday’s review. The Stugis Planning Commission would review and approve the annual permit renewal. Residents near any center would also be invited to weigh in as part of the proceedings.

As part of the request, the applicant will be able to present the specific conditions when they would like to open and close their center.

Commissioners asked to clarify if the city would determine what constitutes an “extreme weather” temperature.

“We’re not,” Prichard said. “We’re allowing that group to come to us and present to the planning commission, ‘this is what we believe extreme weather is.'”

The center’s availability would also depend on staffing, officials said. 

The extreme weather center as a special land use will be effective in the city ordinances Oct. 9.

Boughton said an application will be filed next month for planning commission consideration. If all goes as planned, Boughton said Wednesday, the center could be available for use during extreme cold weather over the winter.

Dan Cherry is a freelance journalist for Watershed Voice.