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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

December 14, 2000

Agenda

THE FOUNTAINS AT BRONSON PLACE - CONCEPTUAL REVIEW - OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY- 1700 BRONSON WAY - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-205-010)

"R-4 RESIDENCE DISTRICT PERMITTED AND SPECIAL USES - TEXT AMENDMENT - PUBLIC HEARING

9TH STREET FOCUS AREA OVERLAY ZONE - TEXT AMENDMENT - SECTION 50.401 - PUBLIC HEARING

HEIGHT DEFINITION - TEXT AMENDMENT - SECTION 11.309 - PUBLIC HEARING

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, December 14, 2000, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Ted Corakis (after 7:05 p.m.)
Stanley Rakowski
Neil Sikora
Ken Heisig
Deborah Everett

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and four other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. He welcomed the Township Clerk, Deborah Everett, to the Planning Commission.

AGENDA

Mr. Sikora moved to approve the Agenda as submitted, and Mr. Heisig seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

THE FOUNTAINS AT BRONSON PLACE - CONCEPTUAL REVIEW - OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY- 1700 BRONSON WAY - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-205-010)

The Planning Commission conducted a conceptual plan review of the proposed open space community at The Fountains at Bronson Place. The subject property is located in the "R-4" Residence District at 1700 Bronson Way, and is Parcel No. 3905-13-205-010. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The Chairperson reviewed the Statement of Purpose regarding the open space community provisions from Section 60.510 of the Zoning Ordinance, the principal purpose being to preserve open space.

Mr. Corakis entered the meeting.

Ms. Stefforia reminded the Planning Commission that conceptual plan review is the first step in the process of approving an open space community. The applicant was proposing such a community for approximately 14 acres south of the existing Bronson campus. There was a discussion of the surrounding land uses. It was noted that the applicant had initially sought approval for the duplexes as a permitted use, and had appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to allow the buildings to be less than 40 feet in separation. The buildings had been placed to allow each to have an unobstructed view of a water feature. It was also noted that if platted, the buildings could be as close as 20 feet in separation.

The Zoning Board of Appeals had tabled the request to allow the applicant the opportunity to consider pursuing an open space community. Under the open space community provisions, the Planning Commission would have the authority to grant deviations from the Zoning Ordinance provisions if found to be in keeping with the spirit of the Ordinance.

Ms. Stefforia stated that it was her understanding that the duplex units would be leased to seniors. The open space community would become its "own parcel". The ponds on site currently operate as storm water retention for the existing development. The ponds would continue to be located as indicated and would be both storm water management elements and "decorative". The Township Engineer would need to review the ponds to determine their sufficiency in handling storm water retention for the open space community in addition to the existing development.

The applicant had proposed additional landscaping along Maple Hill Drive, and Ms. Stefforia stated that it was her belief that Type A landscaping under the new landscaping provisions would be satisfactory. Individual buildings would not directly access Bronson Way, but would access secondary streets.

The applicant was proposing a club house or community building. Ms. Stefforia reminded the Planning Commission that, under the open space provisions, up to one percent of the open space could be used for buildings. She felt that it was important that the applicant specify the amount of square footage and uses for the building so that parking needs could be determined.

The street system for the project would need to be subject to Fire Department review and approval.

Chuck Glasner of Gove Associates was present on behalf of the applicant. He stated that he was the engineer and surveyor for the project. The dedicated open space on site would be over 200,000 square feet. The community building had not yet been specifically designed, but would be approximately 2,000 square feet. The Chairperson noted that any final plans should reflect the actual square footage of the proposed building.

The Chairperson had questions with regard to the topography of the site. The applicant stated that the retention ponds are currently existing and had been established when the initial development of the area adjacent had occurred; the ponds are located in naturally-low areas. The area was originally rolling farm land. The existing roads and retention ponds were the only development of the site at present. The remainder of the site is in its natural condition.

In response to a question from Ms. Heiny-Cogswell, the applicant stated that the building to the right of the entrance would be eliminated.

The Chairperson had questions as to the ownership of the buildings, and the applicant's representative indicated that he believed the buildings would be owned by The Fountains' group and leased to occupants. The Chairperson felt that, when the final application was received, more details as to the ownership of the buildings would need to be provided.

There were questions as to the proposed use of the community building or clubhouse. It was indicated that it was believed that the building would be used for family gatherings for residents, and for the recreation for those living on site.

The Chairperson had questions with regard to proposed landscaping. Mr. Glasner stated that the applicant wished to maintain existing vegetation and expand.

Mr. Corakis suggested that additional sidewalks be added to the site. The applicant indicated that there is an existing walkway along Bronson Way which will be preserved. There may be other internal walkways added in the final plan.

In response to questions from Planning Commission members, the applicant stated that the living areas would be overlooking the decorative ponds. Dwelling units would be two bedroom in design. Garages would be "single" car garages. There would be additional guest parking in the driveway and several spaces along the street in various locations.

Mr. Heisig had questions with regard to proposed parking for the community center or clubhouse. Eight spaces were shown on the conceptual plan. Ms. Stefforia again stated that this issue would be examined when actual square footage for the proposed building was received.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell expressed concern that she had observed the preceding summer that water in the retention ponds was "up to the road". The Chairperson felt that this was an important fact to be brought to the attention of the Township Engineer for his review.

Jim Tomak was also present from Miller Davis Construction for the applicant.

No public comment was made on the item.

The Chairperson again made reference to the purpose of the open space community and asked the Planning Commission to consider whether this development would meet its spirit and intent. It was noted that no change from the plan presented to the Zoning Board of Appeals had been made. There was open space on the site and an attempt to preserve some natural features. However, the Chairperson felt that the site could be redesigned to better meet the spirit of the Ordinance.

Mr. Rakowski stated that he believed that given the type of use, the proposal would meet the open space purpose.

It was noted that open space communities were not originally allowed in the "R-4" and "R-5" Districts. The open space provisions were amended in 1998 to allow such development. Therefore, it was recognized that open space communities in the "R-4" District may have a different appearance than in the "R-1" or Agricultural District.

Mr. Heisig noted that this site does not naturally have extreme topography or a lot of natural vegetation. He felt that the fact that the ponds were located in naturally-low areas was significant and felt that the applicant's proposal did meet the overall purpose of the open space community. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell agreed, noting that the Planning Commission had been flexible in its application of the open space concept. She noted, as an example, Skyview Estates.

There was discussion of whether the community building would satisfy the open space community provisions as being accessory to the open space. Mr. Heisig stated that he felt that the building would probably be as important as the open space portions of the site to the "recreation" options of the residents of the project. However, he would like to see more definitive information as to who and how the community building would be utilized. In his opinion, its use should be restricted to residents.

Mr. Rakowski stated that his mother-in-law had resided on other portions of The Bronson Fountains' project, and that the community building was regularly used for puzzles, cards, etc. No non-residents or their guests were permitted.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the building was not needed to meet open space requirements. Therefore, if the Planning Commission concludes that the building should not be part of the open space calculation, the applicant could meet the required percentage by including other land areas.

Mr. Corakis had questions with regard to the phasing of the project. Mr. Glasner stated that he believed that the applicant would be doing "one side of the road" at a time. Mr. Sikora agreed that more detail as to phasing should be presented with the final plan.

Planning Commissioners had questions whether the parking at the site would be sufficient. They urged the applicant to consider whether one car garages would be "marketable".

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell expressed some concerns with the design of the project. She noted that the west secondary road was not at a 90 degree angle to the intersection. She suggested that they redesign the intersection and move Building 14 away from it. On the east, in the area of the cul-de-sac, she felt that the buildings could be moved north away from the entrance to preserve more of the existing features of the site and allow the entrance to have a more natural appearance, as well as scale back the cul-de-sac.

Mr. Glasner stated that the site could be redesigned to better cluster the buildings if the 40-foot separation is not an issue. Planning Commissioners concurred that a 20-foot building separation would be sufficient.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell also suggested a redesign of the community center parking to allow parking along the secondary road nearby to pull the building away from the pond. Further, she suggested a re-orientation of Buildings 6 and 7 as well as B-11 so that more of the natural wooded area could be saved. She encouraged the applicant to add more walkways and designate a bus stop with bench. It was noted that Bronson has its own private bus.

Mr. Corakis suggested that the walkways extend all along Bronson Way on one side of the street to Croyden. This would eliminate the need for seniors to cross the street.

It was agreed that a 20-foot building separation would allow the applicant to cluster buildings and preserve more trees. It would also allow for a more creative street design.

The Chairperson suggested that a street lighting system be detailed for presentation to the Planning Commission and that there be adequate lighting for street and pedestrian walkways. This concluded the conceptual review.


"R-4" RESIDENCE DISTRICT PERMITTED AND SPECIAL USES - TEXT AMENDMENT - PUBLIC HEARING

The Planning Commission considered the amendment of the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Ordinance to repeal Section 24.206 and add as a special exception use in the "R-4" Residence District, as Section 24.401, private clubs, fraternities, sororities, and lodges, except those of which the chief activity is a service customarily carried on as a business.

It was noted that, because of the possible impact such a use could have on neighboring residences, it was felt that this type of use should be a special use.

No public comment was offered, and the public hearing was closed.

Mr. Corakis moved to recommend the text amendment to repeal Section 24.206 and to add Section 24.401. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

9TH STREET FOCUS AREA OVERLAY ZONE - TEXT AMENDMENT - SECTION 50.401 - PUBLIC HEARING

The Planning Commission considered an amendment to the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Ordinance to add a note at the end of Section 50.401 providing that the Planning Commission may grant a deviation allowing a single-story building not to exceed 15,000 square feet in gross floor area when it is determined that the building and site improvements are designed in harmony with the natural topography and vegetation of the property, limited grade changes will be made, and said deviation is found to be in keeping with the spirit and intent of this Section and the 9th Street Focus Area Development Plan.

No public comment was offered. The public hearing was closed.

Mr. Heisig moved to recommend the amendment to Section 50.401. Mr. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

HEIGHT DEFINITION - TEXT AMENDMENT - SECTION 11.309 - PUBLIC HEARING

The Planning Commission considered the amendment of the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Ordinance and Section 11.309 as to the definition of height (building height). Mr. Sikora suggested that the proposed text be consistent with the building illustration, i.e., that the roof type be listed in order that they appear in the illustration. Section 11.309 would read:11.309 Height (building height).

The vertical distance of a building measured from the average elevation of the adjacent finished grade to the highest point of the coping of a flat roof, to the average height between eaves and ridge for a gable, hip or gambrel roof, and to the deck line of a mansard roof.

The illustration to show the difference between roof types would be added to the Ordinance.

It was noted that the amendment would make the definition consistent with the Building Code.

Mr. Rakowski moved to recommend the amendment to the definition in Section 11.309, and Mr. Sikora seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

YEAR END REPORT

The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia also provided a revised Work Plan for calendar year 2001.

The Chairperson noted as to the year end review that the Planning Commission had done a number of things which he considered "done well". He noted the use of the overhead as improving the Planning Commission's ability to deal with applications. He felt the use of the overheads and aerials improved information received from the applicant and was helpful to the public. He also felt that the Planning Commission in its discussions on items, i.e., the manner in which those discussions were conducted, were improved.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented that Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig would be missed by the Planning Commission.

Ms. Everett stated that she was happy to be part of the Planning Commission and thanked Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig for their years of service to the Township.

Mr. Rakowski commented that he felt that the web site of the Township should be listed on Township stationery. He thanks thanked Ms. Heiny-Cogswell for her comments at the Township Board meeting in support of the landscaping provisions. He also thanked Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig for their work on the Planning Commission and stated that they would be missed.

Mr. Sikora echoed the comments of other Planning Commissioners regarding the valuable contribution of Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig. He stated that the Planning Commission would be challenged to keep its work at the high level attained by Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig.

Mr. Corakis echoed Mr. Sikora's comments, thanking Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig for their work on the Planning Commission.

Mr. Heisig noted that it had been an enjoyable and interesting seven years. He stated that he was proud of the Board's consistent reference to and in defense of the Township's Master Plan. He felt it was important that the Township continue to implement the Master Plan. He stated that he was also proud of the work that the Planning Commission had done on many texts during his seven years. He was most proud of the open space community provisions. He noted that, at the time of their development and even now, they were at the leading edge of township zoning and planning. He felt the provisions provided benefits to developers and residents. He also expressed pride about the manner in which the Commission conducted business and worked with applicants.

He hoped that the Township would continue to support and work with the Master Plan. He felt the Township should upgrade its infrastructure. Mr. Heisig also commented that he felt the Township should keep seeking out and relying upon good legal advice as had been done during his years on the Planning Commission. He felt that the legal advice provided by the Township Attorney had kept the Township on the right track. He was concerned about comments that the Township should go to the "lowest bidder" for legal services. He felt this would be a mistake.

Mr. Dennie also thanked the Township for the opportunity to serve on the Planning Commission. He stated that the time he had spent had been fun, informative and enlightening which outweighed the difficulty and frustration also experienced in the job.

He stated that he was proud that the Planning Commission during his years had been consistent. He felt that it was important that consistency be continued and that the Planning Commission and the Township not waive wave with the wind or in response to flak received from the public. He urged that the Township continue to employ basic planning principles, especially the idea of adhering to the Master Plan. He noted that Oshtemo Charter Township is one of the fastest growing communities, and he felt that it was important that the Township continue to adhere to and fight for its principles.

Ms. Stefforia noted that Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig would be missed on the Planning Commission and commended them for their excellent work.

Ms. Bugge echoed Ms. Stefforia's comments, saying that she had learned a lot from Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig.

The Township Attorney also commended the work of Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig. She complimented them for their thoroughness and deliberation in considering the items that came before the Planning Commission during their years thereon. The Township Attorney thanked Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig for making the job of the Attorney easier through their incisive comments, which allowed for the creation of a record which would support the decisions of the Planning Commission if legally challenged. She stated that she hoped Mr. Dennie and Mr. Heisig would consider returning to work with the Township on other Boards.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:55 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:

Minutes prepared:
December 18, 2000

Minutes approved: