OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

January 12, 2006

Agenda

MENARDS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AMENDMENT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 6800 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-14-105-052 AND 3905-14-155-027)

LIST OF PROPOSED TEXT AMENDMENTS - WORK ITEM

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, January 12, 2006, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott
Deborah L. Everett
Terry Schley
Mike Smith
Lee Larson
Kathleen Garland-Rike

MEMBER ABSENT: Fred Gould

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately six other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

AGENDA

The Chairman asked if there were any amendments to the Agenda. Ms. Bugge asked if she could address the upcoming meeting of the Downtown Development Authority under "Other Business." Ms. Stefforia asked if she could address the Commission regarding a letter from CESO Engineers & Surveyors under "Other Business." Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the Agenda, as amended and the motion was seconded by Mr. Larson. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

MINUTES

The Chairman asked for discussion on the approval of the minutes of December 15, 2005. Ms. Garland-Rike pointed out on page 5, the first full paragraph, line 3 that the word "does" should have been "goes". Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the minutes as amended, and the motion was seconded by Mr. Larson. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

MENARDS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AMENDMENT AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 6800 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-14-105-052 AND 3905-14-155-027)

The Chairman indicated that the next item on the Agenda was the special exception use amendment and site plan review for Menards. He said that the Planning Commission was asked to review a special exception use and site plan review for a proposed expansion to the outdoor sales and display area. He said the property was located at 6800 West Main Street, Parcel Nos. 3905-14-105-052 and 3905-14-155-027. The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia introduced her report to the Planning Commission dated January 12, 2006, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia said that the Planning Commission had granted special exception use and site plan approval for the existing Menards store in 1999. She said the applicant was now proposing to expand the outdoor display and sales area within that portion of the property zoned "C" Local Business District. She said the expansion would occur on three sides - north, west and southeast.

Ms. Stefforia said that the applicant was also proposing that a lumber warehouse be established in the expanded area. She said, given the proposed location, it would require the applicant to acquire additional land from adjacent property owners or seek a variance in order to satisfy the 85-foot supplemental setback requirement from property zoned "R-2" Residence District to the north.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the existing storm water retention pond would be reconfigured to allow the re-location of the vehicle entrance to the west side of the building, and an additional retention pond would be established on the north end of the property. She said, as part of the development, there would be the opportunity for cross-access to the west as provided for on the site plan.

Ms. Stefforia then took the Commission through the site plan review provisions of Section 82.800, as well as the special exception use provisions of Section 60.100.

The Chairman began by asking Ms. Stefforia if the newly-proposed retention pond would be in the "R-2" Residence District. Ms. Stefforia indicated that was correct.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked for confirmation that the site plan did not show any additional lighting being installed in the "R-2" Residence District. Again, Ms. Stefforia indicated that was correct.

The Chairman asked if there were any other questions of Ms. Stefforia. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Tom O'Neil, representing Menard, Inc. introduced himself to the Planning Commission. Mr. O'Neil explained how the newly-proposed decorative fencing would be integrated into the existing 14-foot screening fence surrounding the outdoor display area. He said a decorative fence would be 14 feet in height, equal to that of the pallet-racking area backing up to the fence. He explained that Menards is attempting to upgrade the West Main Menards store, to bring it into compliance with their latest designing standards.

He said there would be a great benefit in relocating the access to the outdoor display area to the west side of the building. He said by relocating the access point, it would eliminate traffic conflicts, as well as pedestrian traffic conflicts, and therefore, would improve the site from a health and safety standpoint. Mr. O'Neil asked if there were any questions of either himself or Mr. Todd Batts, the engineer for Menard, Inc.

Mr. Smith asked if the pallets would be limited to the height of the fence. Mr. O'Neil indicated that they would. Mr. Smith asked for assurances that there would be nothing above the fence. Mr. O'Neil said, on the west side, closest to the building, the pallets would be approximately 18 feet in height, but on the east side, along the screening fence, nothing on the pallets would exceed the height of the fence.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked about the appearance of the decorative fencing. Mr. O'Neil provided photographs showing the style and design of the proposed fencing and decorative lighting.

Ms. Everett asked, if items were purchased from the garden center, how customers would access the garden center for pick-up. Mr. O'Neil said they would access on the area on the west side of the building.

Mr. Smith asked if the lumber warehouse would be open to the public. Mr. O'Neil indicated that it would, and it would contain approximately 24,000 square feet of cold storage. He said this was being proposed to be a drive-through structure, and it would allow people to load their lumber out of the weather.

The Chairman asked if the commercial traffic would use the same route for deliveries. Mr. O'Neil indicated that they would.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the racks would be flush or close to flush to the fence. Mr. O'Neil said that they would, but since there was a roof over the racking pallets on the east side of the yard, it would likely not be visible from the exterior of the screening fence. Mr. Batts noted, however, that the pallet-racking would not abut the wrought iron fencing.

Mr. Schley asked if the drive on the west side of the building would be able to accommodate the appropriate turning radius for larger vehicles without crossing into the out-coming traffic lane. Mr. O'Neil said it did not appear to meet the turning-radius requirements and might need to be re-evaluated. Mr. Batts said it was 44 feet wide, and he thought it would be sufficient to handle the turning radius. Mr. Schley then asked if the lanes would be striped to keep the southbound or outbound traffic set back enough to handle the turning radius, especially for the commercial vehicles. Mr. O'Neil said that could be done.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if there would be a fence around the pond. Mr. Batts said, given the grading of the pond, being on a 4:1 ratio, fencing would likely not be needed. Mr. O'Neil said they have never had a problem, but it was up to the Township. If the Township wanted a fence around the pond, Menards would be happy to accommodate the Township.

Mr. Larson asked about plantings in the pond. Mr. O'Neil said that they simply intended to plant grass in that area. Mr. Larson then asked if they intended the pond to be wet. Mr. O'Neil said they did not intend the pond to be wet, and therefore, they would simply seed it, and given the slope, it could be mowed. Mr. Larson then asked if Menards would mow the retention pond. Mr. O'Neil said that Menards would mow the retention pond.

Mr. Larson asked how high the yard building would be. Mr. O'Neil said approximately 18 feet at the eaves and 27-28 feet at the peak. Mr. Larson asked if that would be similar to the eaves of the existing building. Mr. O'Neil indicated that it would.

Mr. Larson then asked why the applicant did not want to put a bike path on 9th Street. Mr. O'Neil said that Menards was willing to pay for a bike path, but he said he thought it would better to wait and install the bike path when there was a comprehensive development plan for a bike path in the area. He said currently there was no access to West Main, and the path would lead to nothing north of the subject property, and therefore, he believed a bike path was premature. Mr. Larson asked if there were topography issues. Mr. Batts said that there was an issue with regard to the grade of 9th Street, and it would be quite difficult to install a bike path, so they did not believe it would be appropriate to install a bike path at this time. He said they would rather wait until there was further development in the area. The Chairman asked if the topography of the property would limit its use. Mr. Batts said that it would not limit its use; it is just that it would take considerable effort to construct a bike path, given the change in grade from the property to 9th Street, and they did not think it was appropriate at this time.

Mr. Larson asked about the lighting on the decorative fencing. Mr. O'Neil said it was simply a decorative frosted glass containing a household bulb. Mr. Larson asked if that would comply with the Township Ordinance. Ms. Stefforia, checking the height of the fence and the proposed lighting, said that it was over 15 feet, and therefore had to be regulated pursuant to Section 78.720. Mr. O'Neil said if need be, they could put a canopy over the lighting to create sharp cut-off lighting or greatly reduce the wattage to lessen its impact. He said, in some areas, they simply had not wired the lighting at all because of local ordinances. Again, he said it would be up to the Planning Commission to decide what was permitted with regard to the decorative lighting. Ms. Garland-Rike asked what the proposed wattage was for the decorative lighting. Mr. O'Neil said 100 watts.

The Chairman asked the applicant if they could comment on the greenspace question that had been raised by the Planning Department for the property to the north. Mr. Batts said that the 9th Street frontage would certainly meet the "C" landscaping requirements in accordance with the Ordinance. He said the area to the north should be discussed. He said, from the far edge of the proposed pond to the property line, 75-80 feet would be left to the property to the north. He said, with a minimum of 20 feet, they can satisfy the landscaping requirements. However, Golf Services was looking to have an access road off of 9th Street. He said given that, the proposed landscaping to be installed was going to be just north of the pond, but if the service road went through, they would have to install additional landscaping to remain in compliance with the "C" landscaping requirements. He said they could not guarantee that some of the trees would not be removed, but he thought it was premature to attempt to quantify the "C" landscaping since they did not know exactly where the service road, if any, would be placed. He said, if there were any changes, they would make sure that they were in compliance with the "C" landscaping requirements.

Mr. Schley pointed out that the Planning Commission was not being asked to consider approval of the road at this time, and that any changes related to the approval of such a road would require a review of the landscape requirements. The Chairman concurred.

Mr. Schley asked if the 14-foot measurement proposed by the applicant was to the top of the fence. Mr. O'Neil indicated that it was. Mr. Schley asked if that was being measured from grade. Mr. O'Neil said yes. Mr. Schley asked whether the 18-foot racking system would be against the fence. Mr. O'Neil said the 18-foot racks would not be against the perimeter fence but would be toward the interior on the east side of the building.

Mr. Schley asked if anything would be higher than the fence. Mr. O'Neil said no. Mr. Schley then asked for confirmation that there would be nothing higher than the perimeter fencing. Mr. O'Neil said that was correct.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked for confirmation that there would be no racking adjacent or against the decorative fencing. Mr. O'Neil indicated that was correct. She said she did not want to see the racking through the decorative fencing. Mr. O'Neil said that he understood.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked what the applicant was doing to address noise and operation hours as they might impact the surrounding community. Mr. O'Neil said generally no one would have access to the yard area outside of normal business hours, approximately 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. He said some contractors would be allowed to access the yard at 5 or 5:30 a.m., but that would be the extent of their operating hours.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the north wall would be solid. Mr. O'Neil indicated that the north wall would be a solid wooden design which would then have the pallet-racking next to it. Mr. Larson asked if that was fully enclosed. Mr. O'Neil said it was completely opaque. The Chairman asked what the existing fence height was. Mr. O'Neil indicated it was 14 feet.

After a brief discussion with Ms. Bugge, Ms. Stefforia raised a concern regarding display and storage within the setback area. Ms. Stefforia indicated this was not addressed in 1999 during the original site plan review. She said, under the current Ordinance, Menards would not be allowed to display product within the 70-foot setback area from 9th Street nor 85 feet from the northwest property line. She said she was very concerned about expanding such a use in violation of Township Ordinances. Ms. Bugge indicated that Section 31.403d of the Ordinance provides that the display and outdoor storage is to have the same setback as the building setback requirement.

A brief discussion ensued as to where that setback would be. Ms. Stefforia asked if the applicants could obtain a variance. Attorney Porter indicated that it might be possible to fashion a variance request which would meet the standards for granting a variance. Mr. Larson expressed concern whether they could meet true hardship requirements.

The Chairman asked what their options were, and Attorney Porter indicated that the matter could be tabled or sent to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Everett said she favored approval of the site plan and sending it to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. Larson said he was of the opposite view; he thought it should be tabled until the Zoning Board of Appeals took action. Mr. O'Neil asked for clarification. He asked, if the fence was installed and the pallets kept away from the fence, if it would be legal. Ms. Stefforia said it would, but they could not have any product stored against the newly-installed fence. Mr. O'Neil said there was a third option, which was approving a new fence but restricting storage of product within the 70-foot setback area. Mr. Schley said that option would set a very bad precedent. He said allowing the fence, but not allowing the storage of the product when it would not be readily visible would create an enforcement problem, and he did not want to see that happen. Mr. O'Neil said he did not see any harm, given the fact there was already storage in that area. Mr. Schley said, in spite of the historical mistake, he was not in favor of approving any change to the site plan without it going to the Zoning Board of Appeals first.

Ms. Everett asked if there was a basis for granting such a variance. Attorney Porter noted that he thought there might be a case for granting such a variance, but it would be an extremely hard sell to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. Larson said he would not be inclined to approve it subject to Zoning Board of Appeals' approval, given the implication that it would appear that the Planning Commission would approve such a variance. Mr. Larson then made a motion to table the matter until it could be reviewed by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the area they are currently using was not in compliance. Ms. Stefforia said it was not in compliance. Attorney Porter, however, noted that, given the lack of enforcement on the Township's behalf, the Township would likely be estopped from taking any enforcement action on the existing storage and/or display along the pre-existing fence line. Mr. Larson again said that allowing site plan approval which would seem to imply an approval of the expansion on the northwest corner, as well as on the east side of the property, would set a bad precedent. The applicant asked if the Commission might want to hear from those persons in attendance.

Mr. Dale Pattison introduced himself to the Commission and said he had lived in the area a number of years and owns property near the proposed site. He said he thought that the current facility looked like Fort Apache. He said he had questions regarding run-off and that there were too many unanswered questions for the Planning Commission to proceed. He asked that the Planning Commission not approve the request as proposed.

The Chairman told the other members of the Planning Commission that he was reluctant to move ahead without the Zoning Board of Appeals granting a variance.

Ms. Everett asked that the difference between tabling the issue or denying the request be explained to the applicant. Ms. Stefforia explained that, if the request was denied, the applicant could not reapply for one year. Whereas, if the request was tabled until it was considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals, the matter would remain open.

The Chairman asked if there was a second to the motion. Mr. Smith seconded Mr. Larson's motion. The Chairman called for discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

LIST OF PROPOSED TEXT AMENDMENTS - WORK ITEM

The Chairman indicated that next on the Agenda was a review of a proposed list of various Zoning Ordinance amendments. Ms. Stefforia took the Planning Commission through various proposed text amendments contained in her Memo to the Planning Commission dated January 5, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia indicated that, if approved by the Commission, the items on the list would be returned to the Planning Commission in the form of draft text. After a brief discussion, it was the consensus of the Planning Commission to consider the various text amendments as recommended with the addition of text amendments to address retention ponds for commercial businesses being located on adjacent residentially-zoned property and whether lighting standards should be figured from the zoning line versus property line.

Other Business

Ms. Stefforia presented a letter from CESO Engineers & Surveyors regarding the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter bike lane. After discussing the request, it was the consensus of the Commission to have Staff present more information at the next meeting regarding tree removal with the 8th Street water main project.

Ms. Bugge presented the Commission with a letter from Tom Broadasky, DDA Chair, inviting them to the presentation of the proposed theme development design plan for the village area on Tuesday, January 17, 2006, at 7 p.m.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 9:30 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

By:

Kathleen Garland-Rike
Minutes prepared:
January 17, 2006

Minutes approved:
, 2006