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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

APRIL 23, 1998

______________________________________________________________________________

Agenda

QUAIL MEADOWS PUD EXPANSION - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW

NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - CO-LOCATION/CONSTRUCTION OF EQUIPMENT SHELTER - 5656 BEECH AVENUE

AMERICAN RED CROSS COMMUNICATION TOWER - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - LOTS #4-#7, VENTURE PARK

SETBACK STANDARDS - DRAFT #2

______________________________________________________________________________

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, April 23, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Millard Loy
Ted Corakis
Marvin Block

Members Absent:

Lara Meeuwse
Ken Heisig

Also present were Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and twelve (12) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.

AGENDA

The Chairperson suggested deleting discussion of the Industrial classification and adding a discussion of draft #2 of the setback text amendment as item #7. Further, the Chairperson suggested adding a discussion of the upcoming Township Board/Planning Commission joint meeting. Mr. Loy moved to approve the agenda as amended. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of April 2, 1998. The changes suggested by Ms. Harvey were noted. The Chairperson suggested a change to page 4 in the second full paragraph to indicate that the outdoor living quarters were a part of the infrastructure of the event.

Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

The Board next discussed the minutes of April 9, 1998. The changes suggested by Ms. Harvey were noted. Mr. Loy moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

 

QUAIL MEADOWS PUD EXPANSION - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW

The next item was the application of Bruce Brown, representing United Homes of Michigan, for special exception use/site plan amendment for approval of expansion of the Quail Meadows Planned Unit Development on 8.45 acres in the SE╝ of Land Section 23. The Chairperson indicated that a letter had been received from United Homes, requesting that the item be tabled to the meeting of May 14, 1998. It was noted that the applicant was in the process of revising its plan to meet Planning Commission suggestions and requirements.

Mr. Corakis moved to table the item to the meeting of May 14, 1998. Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - CO-LOCATION/CONSTRUCTION OF EQUIPMENT SHELTER - 5656 BEECH AVENUE

The next item was consideration of the application of Nextel Communications for special exception use permit/site plan review so as to allow co-location on an existing tower and the establishment of a 12' x 20' equipment building at the property at 5656 Beech Avenue. The subject property is located in the SE╝ of Land Section 12 within the "R-2" Residence District Zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Mr. West clarified the Planning and Zoning report, indicating that, with reference to the utility trailer which is currently on site and the proposed 12' x 20' building, the intent of the applicant was to have one or the other and not both. Again, it was noted that the utility trailer is currently on site and that, if the building was approved, the trailer would be removed. Mr. West further noted that the Fire Department comments had been received and had been provided to the applicant. The Fire Department would require some improvements to the road and the provision of a turnaround.

Doreen Murphy was present on behalf of the applicant. She stated that the 12' x 20' equipment shelter would be established at the site and then the fencing altered to enclose the building. Further, the applicant was seeking approval for the co-location of antennas on the existing tower.

The Chairperson questioned Ms. Murphy with regard to the length of the process of the construction of the equipment shelter. Ms. Murphy stated that the equipment shelter was a prefabricated building and that it would most probably take one to one-and-a-half months to establish the building on site. She further stated that her client felt the Fire Department requirements were "standard" and that the applicant would comply with Fire Department requirements. She stated that Nextel Communications has a lease with GVSU for the use of the tower. The tower was established in 1996, and Ms. Murphy presented specifications which she indicated showed that the tower could accommodate the co-location of the antenna equipment proposed by Nextel Communications.

Mr. Block questioned the applicant with regard to the appearance of the equipment shelter. Ms. Murphy stated that the building would have a "light beige fašade" with a flat roof. It would be constructed of a block material. Once built, the on-site trailer would be completely removed from the site.

There was no public comment offered, and the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson noted that Ms. Murphy had provided a copy of the lease between Nextel Communications and GVSU, as well as engineering certification confirming that the tower would accommodate the co-location. The engineering information also reportedly included an intermodulation study. The Chairperson suggested that approval be conditioned upon the review of this information by Township staff.

The Chairperson made reference to Section 60.100, and the Planning Commission considered whether the proposal would be compatible with other uses permitted in the "R-2" District. The Board reviewed the Statement of Purpose for the "R-2" District in Section 22.100. It was noted that the Ordinance encourages the co-location of antennas on existing communication towers rather than the construction of new towers. The co-location of the antennas and the establishment of an equipment shelter would result in little change to the appearance of the site. It was noted that the building would be placed within the fenced/ secured area near the base of the tower. Planning Commission members concluded, given these factors, that the co-location and the equipment building were compatible with the "R-2" District.

Next, the Planning Commission considered whether the proposal would negatively impact adjacent properties. No new access road was being proposed. There was little additional outdoor lighting proposed with the project, new lighting being limited to one 150-watt wallpack on the equipment building. Further, the traffic associated with the proposal would be minimal with service vans visiting the site once or twice per month. It was felt that, given these factors, there would be a minimal effect on adjacent properties and no negative impact.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposal would promote the public health, safety and welfare. Planning Commission members noted that the proposal complied with Ordinance standards as to setbacks. Further, the equipment building would be located within the security fencing as required in Section 60.630(f). Proposed lighting would comply with outdoor lighting standards. Planning Commission members were satisfied that public health, safety and welfare would be promoted so long as the concerns of the Fire Department were addressed and the engineer's report confirmed that the tower could accommodate co-locations was provided.

The Planning Commission next considered whether the proposed use would encourage the use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. It was noted that the existing natural vegetation was to remain undisturbed. Further, it was felt that the co-location on the existing tower would be in accord with the character and adaptability of the property and consistent with the provisions of Section 60.630(a).

The Planning Commission considered the criteria of Section 82.800. Again, the Fire Department concerns and recommendations regarding stabilized access, turnaround and vertical clearance were noted. There was discussion of parking at the site. Previous approvals for other communications towers had approved two parking spaces located outside Fire Department access routes and turnarounds. Planning Commission members felt that similar parking could be established at this site. Mr. West suggested that a revised plan be required showing compliance with Fire Department requisites and showing proposed parking.

The Planning Commission returned to a discussion of the proposed equipment shelter, and the applicant suggested that she would prefer that the Planning Commission approve either the building or the equipment trailer. She noted that the applicant might wish to keep the equipment trailer rather than establish a building, depending upon negotiations with GVSU.

Planning Commission members discussed deviation from the paving requirement for the access and parking areas. It was noted that, prior to the adoption of the current Ordinance standards allowing deviation, other similar applications had been provided a variance from the paving requirements due to the minimal traffic which is associated generally with such uses. Mr. Loy and Mr. Corakis agreed that, given the minimal traffic in this application, paving was not required so long as the Fire Department's requirements as to stabilized surface were satisfied.

The Planning Commission returned to a discussion of the proposed equipment shelter, and Mr. Loy commented that he would not be in favor of leaving the temporary trailer on the site for more than six months. He felt that, if the trailer remained at the site, the application would not comply with Section 60.630(e) and would not be "compatible" with the "R-2" District. Other Planning Commission members concurred. As to the location of the proposed building, Planning Commission members felt that it would be sufficient if the applicant would note its location on a revised plan. Planning Commission members indicated that they would not object to the building being situated at the present location of the trailer so long as the area was fenced.

Mr. Loy moved to approve special exception use permit pursuant to the discussion of the Planning Commission, finding that the proposal met the requirements of Section 60.100, and with the following conditions:

(1) That the equipment shelter building be established at the site within six months and that, upon establishment of the building, the trailer at the site be removed completely from the site.

(2) That all Fire Department requirements be met.

(3) That a revised plan showing the location of the building enclosed by fencing, indicating compliance with Fire Department conditions, and showing at least two parking spaces outside the Fire Department access and turnaround, be provided to the Township staff for review and approval.

Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Block moved to approve the proposed site plan with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That access would be provided through the existing access point improved to meet Fire Department requirements. Deviation from the paving requirements pursuant to Section 60.630(k) for the access point and the parking area was granted.

(2) That at least two parking spaces 10' x 20' in dimension be established outside the access and turnaround so as not to impede Fire Department or emergency access to the site.

(3) That existing vegetation remain at the site undisturbed.

(4) That any additional site lighting be provided in accordance with the outdoor lighting standards of Section 78.700 and a lighting proposal be detailed for review and approval pursuant to Section 78.700(g).

(5) That no outdoor storage was proposed or approved.

(6) That signage is not proposed or approved.

(7) That the approval was subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department.

 

(8) That equipment shelter building be established at the site within six months and that, upon its establishment, the temporary trailer be removed completely from the site.

(9) That approval was subject to the review and approval of the intermodulation study provided to the Planning and Zoning Department at the meeting.

(10) That further screening is not required.

(11) That annual reports which outline all inspections and servicing performed upon the existing communication tower and related equipment to insure its operational status pursuant to Section 60.630(11) be submitted.

(12) That approval is subject to the review and approval of the communication tower plans and report from qualified and licensed engineer pursuant to Section 60.640(a) and (b) which had been submitted at the meeting.

(13) That a revised site plan showing the location of the building enclosed by fencing, compliance with Fire Department standards, and the proposed parking be provided to Township staff for review and approval.

Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

AMERICAN RED CROSS COMMUNICATION TOWER - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - LOTS #4-#7, VENTURE PARK

The next item was consideration of the application of the American Red Cross for special exception use permit/site plan review so as to allow the establishment of a 130' communication tower at the site of the property consisting of lots #4 to #7 of Venture Park.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Mr. West suggested that the Commission discuss with the applicant the feasibility of co-location on an existing tower. He also noted that a variance from the setback requirements of the tower from the adjacent roadways was scheduled to be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals on May 18, 1998.

Charles Bell was present on behalf of the applicant. He stated that the tower was needed to allow the Red Cross necessary communications with vehicles under emergency circumstances. He stated that the tower would be similar in appearance to the communications tower located at the Township Hall.

Jim Keefler stated that he helps the American Red Cross with its communications. He said that co-location works best when the user is not situated at the "tower location," such as in cellular or paging uses. He stated that the Red Cross is not set up for "repeater-style" communications. Further, co-location would make the Red Cross dependent on others, which would limit its effectiveness in an emergency. He stated that the current tower used by the Red Cross in Kalamazoo is inadequate. The Red Cross in Kalamazoo is now required to service Kalamazoo County as well as St. Joseph and Cass Counties. The height of the proposed tower was designed to meet these communication requirements.

Mr. Loy questioned the applicant further with regard to the possibility of co-location, and Mr. Keefler said that the Red Cross would not be able to use its existing base equipment but would have to buy other equipment to transmit from its site to a tower off site and then back again. This would increase the complexity of the communication system and the expense.

There was discussion of the height of the tower and its relationship to the line-of-sight-communications concept. The applicant stated that, although the tower would be constructed so as to accommodate future co-location, it was not envisioned that this would take place. The height of the tower limited its usefulness for commercial (cellular and paging) applications. The tower would only be shared with the Kalamazoo Amateur Radio Club/ham operators. It was noted that ham operators assisted the Red Cross with communications in cases of emergency. He stated that the tower would be made of galvanized steel, would not be painted, and there would be fencing at the base of the tower. There would be no flashing lights on the tower, and it would be self-supporting with no guyed wires.

Gordon Van Gelder stated that he is Emergency Management Director for Kalamazoo County located in the Emergency Operations Center for the County. He stated that the County has elaborate emergency operations plans and that these plans all have a Red Cross support component. He therefore felt it was very important that the Red Cross have an independent "dedicated" communication system.

George Fiala was concerned about the area north of the Red Cross location which is zoned "R-1" Residential. He expressed concern that the tower be buffered or screened. He noted the location of two towers along West Michigan and again queried as to whether there could be co-location on these towers.

Bob English of Whitegate Farms Neighborhood Association wondered whether the tower was included in the original plan of the Red Cross. It was noted that it had been proposed from the beginning but, since the site plan was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the tower was a special exception use, approval of the tower was separate from the approval of the general site.

In response to questions by Mr. English, the Chairperson indicated that, if the applicant sought to put a higher tower at the site, it would have to resubmit to the Township for approval.

Ed Sharp was present, stating that he had served in uniform and recognized that the Red Cross is active in times of emergency. He also felt that in emergency situations the Red Cross needed independent communication ability.

Liz Chapman was present, stating she was concerned about how the tower would effect electronic operations and uses within the residential area.

Ted Schewe also felt co-location should be further explored. Charles Chapman was concerned about damage to his property's value from the establishment of a tower.

The applicant responded that there should be no interference with residential electronic equipment due to the "low power operations" on the tower. Further, the height of the tower would reduce the chance of interference.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell questioned the applicant with regard to the West Michigan communications tower, noting that the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety had equipment on this tower. The applicant responded that the Department of Public Safety has multiple facilities both "local" and "repeater" and that this was not true of the Red Cross.

The Planning Commission discussed Section 60.100 and whether the proposal would be compatible with other uses permitted in the "C" District. The Chairperson noted that ham operators and residential users sometimes construct 70' antennas without any approval and that these generally have not resulted in any interference with other residential electronic equipment.

The purpose of the "C" District was reviewed. It was felt it was significant that the applicant proposed the tower as an essential on-site component of its Red Cross facility. The applicant indicated that the tower is an essential part of emergency preparedness. Co-location had been explored; however, the applicant indicated the need for independence so as to maintain integrity in its emergency communication system. Further, co-location was not feasible due to the type of communications equipment (non-repeater) utilized by the Red Cross. Mr. Corakis commented he felt that the 130' height was compatible in that typical cellular towers were approximately 400' in height. It was further felt that the appearance of the tower was compatible since it would have no lights and no guyed wires. It would be similar in appearance to residential antennas and ham operator towers, which were not unusual in residential areas.

Mr. Block commented that he would not look favorably on co-location of commercial uses on this tower, and other Planning Commission members agreed. It was noted that co-location of commercial uses was not likely due to the limited height of the tower.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposal would negatively impact adjacent properties. Area zoning was reviewed. There would be no lighting or signage. It was noted that the tower met the setback from the adjacent residential area but that the applicant was pursuing variance from the setback required from the area rights-of-way. The Planning Commission concluded that the proposal would not negatively impact adjacent properties due to the appearance of the tower, its height and design.

The Planning Commission also concluded that the proposal would promote the public health, safety and welfare given the purpose the tower would serve; however, it was felt that any approval should be contingent upon receipt of an engineer's report regarding the capacity of the tower to accommodate future co-location and addressing the issue of residential interference. Fire Department concerns, if any, should also be addressed. Mr. West stated that the Fire Department had been satisfied in that it concluded that there would be no interference with Fire Department communications.

It was concluded that the proposal would encourage use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. However, Ms. Heiny-Cogswell suggested that further plantings be established in the open area around the base of the tower, such as medium-size shrubs and trees, which were faster growing so as to provide a "layering" of screening from the east.

After a review of Sections 60.630 and 82.800, Mr. Corakis moved to approve the special exception use permit, finding that Section 60.100's criteria had been met, and imposing the following conditions:

(1) That approval was subject to review and approval by the Fire Department.

(2) That a variance from setback requirements from the right-of-way be obtained or the tower relocated to comply with Ordinance setback requisites.

(3) That an engineering report concerning the structural integrity of the tower and confirming it would not interfere with residential electronic use be submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(4) That the tower was not approved for any additional commercial uses and future co-location of such uses would be discouraged.

(5) That the annual inspection requirements of the Ordinance must be met.

(6) That additional screening be established around the base of the tower (fast growing in nature) subject to review and approval of Township staff.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Loy and carried unanimously.

Mr. Loy moved to approve the site plan with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That a report prepared by a qualified and licensed professional engineer regarding the proposed tower's design capability for accommodating future co-location be provided to the Township for review and approval.

(2) That a variance from setbacks be obtained or the location altered to comply with Ordinance requirements.

(3) That the security fencing proposed was sufficient.

(4) That any site lighting must be in accord with the lighting standards of Section 78.700 and be detailed for review and approval pursuant to Section 78.700(g).

(5) That the proposed tower not be illuminated by artificial means and not display strobe lights unless such lighting is specifically required by the FAA.

(6) That no signage or advertising is proposed or approved for the tower.

(7) That the intermodulation analysis was found to be satisfactory.

(8) That the proposed tower be inspected and serviced at regular intervals (no less than once a year) to maintain a safe and weather-withstanding condition.

(9) That an annual report outlining all inspections and servicing performed on the proposed tower to insure its operational status be prepared and submitted to the Township.

(10) That access is provided through previously approved site improvements.

(11) That no outdoor storage is proposed or approved.

(12) That approval is subject to the Fire Department review and approval.

(13) That additional screening is not required with the exception of some additional plantings around the base of the tower (fast growing), the plans for which should be submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Block and carried unanimously.

 

SETBACK STANDARDS - DRAFT #2

The Planning Commission next discussed draft #2 of the Setback Standards revisions. Mr. Loy moved to schedule public hearing on the text amendment for May 28, 1998.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Block and carried unanimously.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

The Planning Commission discussed the joint meeting with the Township Board scheduled for May 19, 1998. It was suggested that the proposed setback text amendments be discussed with the Township Board at that meeting.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 9:55 p.m.

Minutes approved:
May 14, 1998