OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

April 14, 2005

Agenda

MEIJER - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - SEASONAL OUTDOOR STORAGE & DISPLAY - 6660 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-185-021)

FOURTH REFORMED CHURCH - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - AFTER-SCHOOL CARE/DAYCARE - 6339 ATLANTIC AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-35-215-052)

PRIVATE STREETS - WORK ITEM

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, April 14, 2005, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

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

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner ; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately four 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 corrections or additions to the Agenda, and if not, he said he would entertain a motion to approve the Agenda. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted. Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

MINUTES

The Chairman noted that the next item on the Agenda was approval of the minutes of March 24, 2005. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. Mr. Smith seconded the motion. The Chairman called for discussion on the motion, and hearing none, called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.

MEIJER - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - SEASONAL OUTDOOR STORAGE & DISPLAY - 6660 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-185-021)

The Chairman said the next item up for consideration was the special exception use for Meijer for a seasonal outdoor storage and display at 6660 West Main Street, Parcel No. 3905-14-185-021. The Chairman asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge submitted her report to the Planning Commission dated April 14, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Planning Commission that this matter had been considered by the Commission on March 24, 2005. She said that the item was tabled at the March 24th meeting until a full Commission could be present to address the question. Ms. Bugge explained to the Commission that the applicant was continuing its request for a bag corral area in its parking lot to store, display and load Garden Center related goods from the Meijer store. She noted, since the last review, the bag corral had been relocated from the front of the building to the west side of the building nearer the Garden Center. She also said that the applicant had reduced the dimensions of its request from a 100' x 150' (50 parking spaces) to 80' x 120' (39 parking spaces). She also referred the Planning Commission to the new site plan.

Ms. Bugge proceeded to review the request, pursuant to Section 30.409 of the Ordinance, and took the Commission through Section 60.100 concerning special exception use criteria of the Zoning Ordinance.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Bugge. Mr. Schley asked if the enclosed portion of the structure jutting out from the west side of the Meijer building used to be part of the Garden Center. Mr. Greg Heath from Meijer, Inc. indicated that it was a new addition and no longer part of the Garden Center.

The Chairman then asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Heath again introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He noted that Meijer had reduced the size of its request and had also relocated the bag corral to the area west of the building. He said this was done to address the Planning Commission's traffic concerns, as well as potential pedestrian conflict with the proposed outdoor display area. He told the Planning Commissioners that their concern regarding duplication of product raised at their last meeting had been addressed by store management. He said that the product being offered for sale outside would not be sold inside of the store due to limited space.

Mr. Heath again expressed his opinion that the proposed sales area was not storage. He questioned how one would define "storage." He said, if it was based on height, they would make sure that the area around the periphery of the bag corral would not have anything stacked more than four feet in height. He said that Meijer was as concerned about safety as the Township.

Mr. Heath asked if the Commission had any questions. Mr. Schley asked, at the time Meijer had expanded their building to the west whether it had considered expanding the Garden Center at that time, or did Meijer think it would be able to gain additional space by asking for the bag corral. Mr. Heath said that they had discussed putting the outdoor sales area under cover, but felt that doing so was not feasible. However, Mr. Heath added that it was not based upon their presupposition that they would receive any type of permit for outdoor sales from the Township.

Mr. Schley asked if Meijer would consider not stacking anything in the bag corral more than four feet in height. Mr. Heath said that they would accept that, though it would not be their preferred method of doing business.

The Chairman called for public comment. Hearing none, he called for Commission deliberations. Ms. Garland-Rike reminded the Commission that she had said at the last meeting that there were questions regarding fire lane access issues. She expressed some concern regarding the proposed site plan and the possibility that people would park in the fire lane in order to load materials. Mr. Heath said Meijer would make sure that the fire lane was kept clear. Mr. Smith said that he did not think that the proposed site plan encroached upon the fire lane. Ms. Bugge said she thought Ms. Garland-Rike was saying that people would likely stop or park in the fire lane while loading product.

Mr. Smith said that he did not believe that the applicant's proposal was storage, but was in fact sales. He said that the distinguishing factor for him was the fact that customers would have access to the product to make their choices, and therefore, he distinguished it from typical storage where product is held for future sales.

Ms. Garland-Rike said she thought that Meijer had made a deliberate decision when renovating its store not to place the Garden Center under cover and said she did not understand why it had failed to do so. She added that she had reviewed the Ordinance again and did not believe that this type of merchandise was similar to that sold by other businesses involving substantial outdoor sales or activities. She said that other types of outdoor sales and activities were typically year-round, not three to five months.

Ms. Bugge said there is also a way to distinguish between the other outdoor sales based on size of the items being sold, i.e., the smaller items which could be sold indoors versus those large items not typically maintained within a building such as cars, recreational vehicles, mobile home sales, etc.

Mr. Schley said, when he read the Ordinance and then compared that to what the Commission meant by substantial, he did not believe it was based upon size, but based upon the amount of outdoor sales activity. Ms. Bugge said that was also a factor, but the Ordinance itself did reference items of significant size such as cars and recreational vehicles, etc.

Ms. Everett said she agreed with Ms. Garland-Rike, and she did not see why, if it had been incorporated into the Garden Center, Meijer needed a separate display area for seasonal sales.

Mr. Smith said that, considering the amount of product and the area it took up, he thought it made sense to have a temporary area in which to sell that product, since the area would otherwise be vacant during the winter months.

The Chairman said he thought that the Commission needed to discuss the past interpretation and past practices of the Planning Commission. Mr. Larson said he agreed and suggested that the Commission focus on its previous interpretations as applied to Wal-Mart and other similar uses in the area. The Chairman said if the Commission did that, the only conclusion it could reach is that the Planning Commission had determined that this type of use was, in fact, storage. The Chairman said he thought that the Ordinance should be applied the same to everyone.

Mr. Larson said he thought he made his feelings known when Wal-Mart asked for a similar outdoor storage and display area. He said he thought it was inappropriate to allow outdoor storage like this, and what the applicant was requesting was an outdoor storage and pick-up area, not a display area.

Mr. Schley said he had a couple of thoughts. First, he said it was troubling that what the Ordinance said in writing did not necessarily match the understanding of what the Planning Commission believes it means or how it has been applied in the past. He said that the Ordinance allows for outdoor sales. He said while the Planning Commission could debate at length what "substantial" meant, the fact was that the Ordinance allowed outdoor sales even if it was not clear. He said he thought that the Ordinance should be reviewed and made clear to those applying for a special use permit. Mr. Schley next said that he understood the Planning Commission's concerns regarding the aesthetic reasons for wanting to enclose outdoor sales, but that there was nothing in the Ordinance which really indicated that such sales must be within an enclosed structure. He said that supported his previous position. He said he was troubled by that, and thought that the applicant, therefore, deserved to be given fair consideration.

Mr. Gould told the Planning Commission he had driven around and had looked at what was happening at Hadleys, Lowe's and Menards, and said he thought perhaps they were treating Meijer unfairly if they did not allow some outdoor sales area.

Ms. Bugge explained that if Lowe's had pallets outdoors, they would be in violation of the Township Ordinance. She said that Hadleys was a legal nonconforming use which predated the current zoning in the area. She also noted that the D & R Sports and Leaders Marine were special exception uses and had items specifically listed under Section 30.409 which were suitable for outdoor sales. She said the real question here was whether the applicant's request involved storage or substantial outdoor sales.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Commission that Menards, Lowe's and Wal-Mart had all developed garden areas which were enclosed pursuant to the Ordinance. She said, if there were any pallets outside of those enclosed areas for an extended period of time, it would result in a violation of the Township Zoning Ordinance, and that they would be ticketed accordingly.

Ms. Garland-Rike said, after their last meeting, she had looked at Section 30.409 of the Zoning Ordinance in order to clarify the term "substantial". She said she came up with four possibilities: (1) the size of the area being used; (2) the size of the items being sold; (3) the length of time that the items were being sold; or (4) sales value of the items being sold in relation to total sales of the business. She said she did not believe that the Meijer proposal met any of the four definitions of substantial, and therefore, she did not believe that Meijer fell under the provisions of Section 30.409 of the Zoning Ordinance.

The Chairman asked if there was any further comments, and hearing none, said he would entertain a motion. Ms. Garland-Rike made a motion to deny the request for the reason that the proposed use did not constitute outdoor sales, but was storage, and further, that it did not fulfill the purposes of Section 30.409. 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 4-to-3, with the Chairman, Mr. Larson, Ms. Everett and Ms. Garland-Rike voting for it, and Mr. Schley, Mr. Smith and Mr. Gould voting in opposition of the motion. The Chairman declared the motion passed.

Mr. Gould asked the applicant if he understood what Meijer could do in response to the position taken by the Planning Commission. Mr. Heath said Meijer could either add onto its building or possibly modify its request and resubmit the proposal. Mr. Larson said, since the others in the area had enclosed their Garden Centers, he did not understand why Meijer could not do the same. Ms. Bugge pointed out that, in the past, Meijer had been reluctant to expand its Garden Center to provide for this type of sales because, at the time, it did not have a sufficient sales history from this site, but she did not believe that could be the case any longer. Mr. Gould again asked if Mr. Heath understood what options Meijer had. Mr. Heath said he thought its only option at this point was to find a place for the sales within the store or to add on to the facility.

Mr. Schley asked if Meijer built a freestanding enclosure whether it would meet the Ordinance. Ms. Bugge said she was not sure whether that would comply with the Ordinance, and again reminded the Commission that it had suggested that Meijer expand its Garden Center through an addition in 2001.

A brief discussion ensued regarding the need to revisit the Ordinance, and to better define what it would take to meet the terms and conditions of the Ordinance for an outdoor display center.

Mr. Heath pointed out that now Meijer would no longer have any place for the display of the items they had proposed for their outdoor sales area. Attorney Porter pointed out that statement was in direct contradiction of statements Mr. Heath made the last time he appeared before the Commission. Attorney Porter also indicated that it appeared it was a decision made by the management of Meijer solely for the purpose of enhancing their request for the outdoor corral area.

Mr. Schley again emphasized the need to work on the Ordinance; Ms. Everett agreed, and asked that it be put on the Commission's work agenda.

FOURTH REFORMED CHURCH - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - AFTER-SCHOOL CARE/DAYCARE - 6339 ATLANTIC AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-35-215-052)

The Chairman indicated that the next item on the Agenda was consideration of a special exception use for Fourth Reformed Church for an after-school care/day care, located at 6339 Atlantic Avenue, being Parcel No. 3905-35-215-052. He asked for a report from Ms. Bugge. Ms. Bugge presented her reported dated April 14, 2005, to the Commission, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that the subject site was located on the south side of Atlantic Avenue, consisted of ten acres and had a 24,500 square foot building on it known as Fourth Reformed Church. She explained that the initial request was to operate an after-school program to serve the general public two days a week for two and a half hours. She said that the applicant may wish to expand the schedule in the future, and she suggested that the Commission discuss that with the applicant.

Ms. Bugge said the Township and the State of Michigan defined this type of activity as a child care center, and in addition to the special exception use permit required, it also required licensing by the State. Ms. Bugge then proceeded to take the Planning Commission through the provisions of Section 60 dealing with special exception uses.

At the conclusion of Ms. Bugge's report, the Chairman asked if there were any questions of the Planning Department. Ms. Garland-Rike asked, if the hours were expanded, whether the applicant would have to file another request. Ms. Bugge explained that would be up to the Commission, and if the Commission could consider approving the request for a five-day operation so the applicant would not have to come back in the future to expand to five days.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the applicant added outdoor recreational facilities if they would need to amend a special exception use permit. Ms. Bugge indicated that they would, and they would need a new site plan to provide for that particular use.

The Chairman asked if the State license would require a play area. Ms. Bugge said she thought that was only necessary if it was an all-day day care facility.

The Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. The applicant, Mr. Aaron Bronsink introduced himself to the Planning Commission, as well as Jenna Schlukebir, the proposed Director of the facility. The applicant indicated that their primary purpose was to serve the community as an outreach program of Fourth Reformed Church.

The Chairman asked Mr. Bronsink how many children they would have during the proposed days. Mr. Bronsink said approximately 60 children to start, but that they were going to seek approval from the State to have as many as 100 children.

The Chairman asked how the children were going to be brought to the facility. Mr. Bronsink said that the children from Chime Street would be bused in, but that the other children from the community would either be brought to the facility by their parents, day care provider or walk to the facility. The Chairman said he was most concerned about Chime School children, since he did not think there was a pedestrian-friendly method of getting the children to the proposed facility. Mr. Bronsink said he agreed entirely, and that was why the School had agreed to bus the children to the Church.

The Chairman asked if there would be any children of Church members attending the facility. Mr. Bronsink said likely there would be none, but that it was truly an outreach program for the surrounding community. The Chairman asked what ages the children would be. Mr. Bronsink said they would span the ages of first grade through sixth grade.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked, if they expanded, how many days they would have a program there. Mr. Bronsink said likely four, or possibly five days, but he wanted to see how it was received by the community.

Ms. Everett asked what the charge was going to be to use the facilities. Mr. Bronsink said it would require a donation of $1.00.

The Chairman asked what percentage of volunteers would be staffing the facility. Mr. Bronsink said all but two paid staff and the Director would be volunteers. He explained that they would have to have one adult for each ten children.

Ms. Everett asked if the workers had to be certified. Mr. Bronsink said they all had to be trained and certified according to day care standards, which included training for CPR, etc. The Director said that all workers had to complete a certain number of hours for training, and they would likely draw on the local university and high school students training for child development jobs. The Director said also that outdoor activities are only required if you have the children for more than four or five hours a day, and they did not believe they would have a need for such facilities.

Mr. Gould asked if all the rooms were air-conditioned. Mr. Bronsink indicated that they were. The Director also pointed out they would only operate during the school year and only when schools were open.

Mr. Schley said that he served on an advisory board for the Salvation Army, which runs a similar program, and knew firsthand that such a program was very beneficial for the children.

Mr. Larson asked what would trigger a change in hours or number of days that the facility would be open. Mr. Bronsink said it would likely be a result of positive feedback from the parents of the children, but that the hours would never exceed four hours per day. Ms. Bugge suggested that if the Commission so chose, they could approve the after-school program up to whatever number of days they were comfortable with, thereby relieving Fourth Reformed Church from coming back to the Commission and asking for a further extension if the program was expanded.

The Chairman asked if the parents would be involved in planning activities. Mr. Bronsink said he did not see a direct involvement from the parents, but they had planned meetings with the parents and would certainly be looking for input and direction from them as part of an open discussion with the parents.

The Chairman asked if there would be any food at the facility. The Director said only snacks, which were prepackaged, would be provided.

The Chairman opened the meeting for public comment, and hearing none, closed the public portion, and called for Commission deliberations.

Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the special exception use and site plan review for up to five days for the after-school program, based on the recommendations in the Staff's report, with the following conditions:

(1) Special exception use approval is subject to the applicant obtaining a license for the child care center from the State of Michigan.

(2) Any proposed sign shall comply with the provisions of Section 76.000 of the Ordinance and be reviewed and approved through the sign permitting process.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Gould. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

PRIVATE STREETS - WORK ITEM

The Chairman said the next item for consideration was the Memo by the Planning Department and first draft of Section 60.800, concerning private streets. The Chairman asked for a review of the report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented a Memo from the Planning Department dated April 6, 2005, regarding private streets, together with a proposed first draft of new Section 60.800, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge told the Commission she thought the Memo was self-explanatory, but pursuant to the Chairman's request, Ms. Bugge took the Commission through a section-by-section review of the proposed Ordinance entitled "Private Streets." Ms. Bugge said she was seeking input from the Planning Commission members as to whether they were in agreement with the proposed Section, or felt there needed to be revisions or modifications.

It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that the Purpose and Scope as set forth in Sections 60.810 and 60.820 satisfactorily encompassed the spirit and intent of what the Planning Commission had proposed with regard to private streets within nonresidential site condominium developments.

During a discussion of Section 60.830, the Chairman asked if the expiration language in Subsection B was typical. Attorney Porter indicated that it was typical to have such language in an ordinance of this kind.

With regard to Section 60.830 D, Mr. Larson asked if a developer could have an engineer or surveyor provide the certificate of completion rather than paying the Township Engineers to review the matter. Ms. Bugge indicated that the Planning Department could look into that matter. Mr. Larson explained that the City currently requires a certified inspector to provide written approval of the road before the City accepts it. Ms. Bugge said that the Planning Department could look at clarifications in that regard.

In reviewing Section 60.840, the issue was raised as to whether the 66-foot right-of-way would be a public easement or public right-of-way. Mr. Schley said he thought, if it was not necessary for connectivity, that requiring a 66-foot right-of-way or easement could be counter-productive. He said if the goal here was to create less hard surface, then requiring that large a right-of-way might be counter-productive. Attorney Porter asked whether curb and gutter was going to be required as part of this road development. Ms. Bugge indicated that those were issues that needed to be looked at in greater detail. Mr. Schley again noted that, if the intent was to make the private road more natural, then he thought that would weigh against curb and gutter and more in favor of general swales and more natural water retention facilities to soften the overall impact.

Mr. Larson said it was not clear to him whether or not the easement was public or private, but just that it had to allow utilities. Attorney Porter inquired as to whether that was referring to public utilities or private utilities. Again, Ms. Bugge said those were issues that she was looking for discussion on to assist the Planning Department in finalizing the proposed Ordinance.

In reviewing Section 60.850, the Planning Commission members felt the language met the spirit and intent of what the Planning Commission was seeking.

In discussing Section 60.860, Ms. Everett asked whether or not the second access was mandatory or whether there would be a possibility of allowing for a deviation from the second access requirement. Ms. Bugge said that the Planning Commission could consider allowing a deviation to that standard, depending upon the proposed use, as well as other factors.

In reviewing Section 60.870, the Chairman asked whether this maintenance agreement was typical for private road development. Attorney Porter said it was fairly routine for site condominiums, whether they were residential or nonresidential, to have a maintenance agreement in place which would authorize the Township to maintain the streets and assess the property if the streets were not maintained by the Association. It was suggested that the condominium association should be stated as one of the responsible parties in Subsection B.

After discussing the Private Road Ordinance, Ms. Bugge asked the Planning Commission members what their thoughts were about sidewalks for these types of developments. Mr. Schley said, in the spirit of this type of Ordinance, he thought it might be appropriate to allow alternatives to concrete sidewalks, but felt providing for pedestrian linkage to other areas was a goal that the Township should continue to promote. The other members of the Planning Commission concurred.

Ms. Bugge indicated that the Planning Department would revise and prepare Draft 2 of the proposed Private Streets Ordinance for Planning Commission review in the near future.

Review Plan Amendment from Almena Township

The Chairman said the next item on the Agenda was review of the Almena Township proposed Master Land Use Plan and Plan Amendment. The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented a report to the Planning Department dated April 4, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that there was a proposed amendment in the Almena Township Master Land Use Plan that was of concern. She said there was a proposal for a reclassification from ASR, Agriculture-Suburban Residential to C, Commercial in Section 13 abutting the Township, which was not compatible with either Oshtemo's Master Plan nor Almena's Master Plan, and given the location of M-43 and 22nd Street, Staff suggested filing a letter in opposition to the proposed Plan Amendment. She said the proposal would create pressure for unplanned commercial development along M-43 in both Townships.

It was the consensus of the Commission to accept the Planning Department's recommendation, and Mr. Larson made a motion to strongly oppose the proposed Almena Township Master Land Use Plan Amendment. The motion was seconded by Ms. Everett. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

There was no "other business" presented.

Planning Commissioner Comments

Mr. Schley asked the Planning Department to review the anticipated April 28, 2005 Agenda, which Ms. Bugge did.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 9:15 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary

Minutes prepared:
April 19, 2005

Minutes approved:
, 2005