OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

December 15, 2005

Agenda

CAMP FIDO DOG DAYCARE - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - 8661 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-33-305-025)

HAMPTON COVE (IRISH BUILDERS) - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 7893 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-15-305-020)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, December 15, 2005, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

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

MEMBER ABSENT: Terry Schley

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately 16 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. Stefforia said she wanted the Commission to consider a rezoning request and set it for public hearing under "Other Business." Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the Agenda, as amended. The motion was seconded by Mr. Gould. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

MINUTES

The Chairman asked the Commission if there were any changes to the minutes of November 17, 2005. Hearing none, Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

Next, the Chairman inquired of the Commission members if there were any revisions to the minutes of December 1, 2005. Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

CAMP FIDO DOG DAYCARE - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - 8661 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-33-305-025)

The Chairman said the next item on the Agenda was a special exception use review of a proposed private, member-only dog park at 8661 Stadium Drive, Parcel No. 3905-33-305-025, within the "RR" Rural Residential District. The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia submitted her report to the Planning Commission dated December 15, 2005, along with an overview of the proposed dog park provided by the applicant, and the same are incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia explained to the Planning Commission that the applicant was seeking to establish a dog park on the rear 2.75 acres of the five-acre parcel upon which they currently operate. She said that the proposed operation will be called "Fido's Glen." While there was a request for possible further expansion, Ms. Stefforia recommended limiting the proposal to the initial 2.75 acre property, since there were no other local examples to refer to, it was a new concept, and there were a number of residents living nearby.

Ms. Stefforia then took the Commission through the special exception use provisions of Section 60.100. At the conclusion of her report, she suggested several limitations or conditions which could be placed on the dog park, should the Planning Commission choose to approve the same as a special use.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Stefforia. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Ms. Kerry Mulholland introduced herself to the Planning Commission. She explained that there was no place in Kalamazoo to allow dogs to run off leash in a park-like setting. She said her goal was to create an exercise area which would allow owners to let their dogs run, while at the same time, being in a confined area.

Mr. Smith asked how high the fence around the perimeter of the proposed use would be. Ms. Mulholland said six feet. The Chairman asked if there would be screening of the dogs. Ms. Mulholland said that there would be screening and that all of their dogs were given a temperament test to see whether they were compatible with other dogs and people.

The Chairman asked if there would be excessive barking. Ms. Mulholland said that, as owner of a dog daycare, they would be on site and know if there was barking. She said that the barking would also be monitored by the owners. The Chairman asked how they would monitor who came to and from the site. Ms. Mulholland said they would use a key-card system.

Mr. Gould asked what the maximum number of visitors would be at the site. Ms. Mulholland said, at any one time, the maximum would be approximately ten, on a nice day, and that visits on most days would not extend past one hour.

The Chairman asked if the site would limit the number of users. Ms. Mulholland said they would if necessary, and would do so through the use of a key-card system.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked how close the fence would be to the boundary of the property. Ms. Mulholland said she thought it needed to be set back from the property at least ten feet. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that there is no requirement for a setback of the fence, but that it could be required as a condition of granting the special use.

Mr. Smith asked what the nature of the screening would be along the southern boundary of the property. Ms. Mulholland said she thought they would put in stockade fencing along the southern boundary, as well as plantings. She said, in the other areas, she thought they would have a chain-link fence. Mr. Smith said he thought there needed to be a buffer from the adjoining property owners. Ms. Mulholland said that could be addressed.

Ms. Everett asked who would be maintaining the property. Ms. Mulholland said that the property owners would have to clean up after their own dogs.

The Chairman asked if there would be a maintenance facility. Ms. Mulholland said she did not believe there would be such a building on site. She said that the only area where there might be some structure would be at the entrance, perhaps a carport to accommodate those accessing the dog park.

Mr. Larson asked how they would monitor people using the facility. He asked whether the park hours would be limited to the same hours as their dog daycare. Ms. Mulholland said that the park would actually be open seven days a week, sunrise to sunset and would be monitored by the owners. Mr. Larson asked how they would enforce the rules. Ms. Mulholland said that the owners would monitor each other, and if there was a complaint, submit the same in writing. Mr. Larson commented that was a bit after the fact. Mr. Larson asked, if a dog barks, who is going to ask them to stop? Ms. Mulholland said the other owners would. Mr. Larson commented that he did not believe that was any enforcement at all.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the dog daycare was open on weekends. Ms. Mulholland said no, they were only open Monday through Friday, but they plan to have the park open on weekends.

The Chairman asked if the dogs would be checked in each time. Ms. Mulholland said they would not. Once the dogs were approved, they would be allowed entry to the park via a key system.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the applicant had looked into how other dog parks were operated. Ms. Mulholland indicated that they had, and had based their proposed park on other dog parks in the country. Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the other parks also had no employees. Ms. Mulholland said no.

Mr. Gould asked how the double-gated system would work. Ms. Mulholland said it was not for the park itself, but really just for the people entering and exiting the dog park with their dogs on a leash.

The Chairman asked if there were any other questions of the applicant. Hearing none, he opened the matter to public comment.

Mr. Roger Combs introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he owned the property next door which the applicant showed as an area for expansion. He said he had not been consulted on the possible expansion, nor had he been approached by the developer regarding the purchase of his property. He said he was very concerned because he had four children, and he did not believe that the owner did a very good job of taking care of their dog care, and he was certainly concerned about an expansion of the activities. He said that the dog daycare owner currently had about 30 dogs a day. He said the noise and the smell and the traffic was horrific. Mr. Combs said there have been accidents in front of the building due to the lack of turn lane. In addition, he said there have been numerous dogs that have run into his yard. He said he was unable to sell his property due to the dog daycare next door, and he concluded by saying that he was opposed to any further expansion of the operation involving the dogs.

Mr. Michael Fisher introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he lived immediately east of the dog kennel. He said, when he appeared at the hearing approving the dog daycare, he was told there would be no barking. He said the applicant had said there would be someone there all the time, and they would distract the dogs so there would not be any barking. He reported that the applicants have not complied with those statements in any way, shape or form. He said there were dogs constantly barking, and the thought of having that go on all weekend without supervision was almost more than Mr. Fisher could stand.

Mr. Fisher said barking dogs do not seem to bother their owners, and he did not think people policing the dog park themselves would be sufficient. He said he currently listens to dogs bark from 7:00 in the morning until he does goes to work. He said, when he is home, he cannot even go outside without a dog barking at him all the time. He said that their solution to quieting the dogs is to either scream at them or play loud music. He said the thought of having the park open on the weekends was intolerable.

Mr. Ralph Gotham on 5th Street said he lives about one quarter of a mile away from the facility. He said there was barking from morning until night. He told the Commission there is barking all day long, and he said whatever the applicant says they are doing to calm down the dogs does not work.

The Chairman asked if there were any further comments from the public, and hearing none, he closed the public portion of the meeting.

The Chairman called for Commissioner deliberations. The Chairman said he would like to hear from the applicant. Ms. Mulholland said that she had never heard about these problems before, and that there had never been any complaints made, to the best of her knowledge. Mr. Fisher said he had called her business several times, and talked to her staff. He was surprised that they had never relayed those messages to her.

Mr. Smith said he thought this was a pretty good idea until he heard the neighbors' complaints. Mr. Fisher said he had also called the Township regarding enforcement, but he had never received any response.

Ms. Garland-Rike said that there were a couple things going on. First, there is a problem with the existing business not being in compliance. Although they were not dealing with that issue tonight, she noted her concern about adding to the problem. She also said that it seemed unusual that nobody from the mobile home park had come to discuss their concerns about the proposed operation.

Mr. Gould said he felt much like Mr. Smith, but after hearing from the neighbors, he was quite concerned about expanding the operation. He said he had dogs and had watched dogs for others, and he was always constantly aware of the neighbors because barking dogs can simply drive people nuts. He said he was not sure how to address the concerns which the neighbors are expressing, but he said he had very serious concerns about the reported problems.

Ms. Everett asked Ms. Stefforia if she was aware of the complaints. Ms. Stefforia said she was aware of one complaint, but she was not aware that the enforcement officer was continuing to receive complaints.

Ms. Everett asked what could be done to mitigate the dogs from barking. Ms. Mulholland said that dogs often bark at things and people. She expressed regret and informed the Planning Commission that she would put up a stockade fence along the property line with Mr. Fisher.

The Chairman said he thought there was certainly ample evidence of a great deal of dog barking and encouraged a resolution before they proceeded. Ms. Stefforia said it was her opinion that the matter should be tabled until the complaints could be dealt with. Attorney Porter said he concurred, and thought they should not grant an additional special exception use until the previous special use issue was brought into compliance. Attorney Porter explained to Ms. Mulholland that failure to remain in compliance with the special use conditions could form a basis for revocation of her special use permit. Ms. Mulholland said that she understood and would take steps to correct the problem.

Mr. Larson reminded the Planning Commission of another dog kennel situation where the applicant had put in a sound barrier, as well as insulation within the structure to avoid negatively impacting the surrounding neighbors. He said he thought there should be some additional thought in how this use continued to operate. With that, Mr. Larson made a motion to table consideration of the special exception use permit until the original special exception use conditions are properly satisfied and verified by the Township.

Ms. Everett asked what degree of assurance the Township would have to receive. Mr. Larson said that they needed a measure, perhaps the Noise Ordinance. Mr. Gould said that was a possibility. Attorney Porter said he thought the reasonable person standard would be the appropriate basis for judging compliance, and that would have to be determined by interviewing the neighbors and perhaps visiting the site.

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

HAMPTON COVE (IRISH BUILDERS) - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 7893 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-15-305-020)

The Chairman indicated that the next item up for consideration was the special exception use and site plan review of a proposed residential open space community, containing 28 homes on approximately 19 acres. The Chairman stated that the subject property is located at 7893 West Main Street, Parcel No. 3905-15-305-020, within the "RR" Rural Residential District. The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Planning Commission dated December 15, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia reminded the Planning Commission that it had performed a conceptual plan review in August of 2005. She said that the project consists of 28 home sites on approximately 19 acres, which was within the limitations of the "RR" Rural Residential District, when homes are served with public water. She said that the development would be served by public water and either public sewer or a private community sewer system. She said that the development would satisfy the 40% open space requirement by incorporating the lake and low areas within the property into the designed open space. Ms. Stefforia said that the Township Engineer had requested a third party verify delineation of the wetlands area. She noted that, within the provisions of the open space community, the minimum building site areas were not necessarily applicable. Therefore, building sites with less than the minimum area or width or lacking direct frontage on a private easement did not require a deviation as might have been previously suggested during conceptual plan review. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that Section 60.540 I gave the Planning Commission the authority to grant dimensional deviations without requesting a variance. She said, in this case, she thought it was necessary because of the small area designated as a building site and the 30% lot coverage limitation of Section 66.400.

Ms. Stefforia then took the Commission through Section 60.100 dealing with the special exception use provisions, Section 82.800 dealing with site plan review criteria and Section 60.570 dealing with the open space community criteria, as set forth in her report. Ms. Stefforia did note that the original road right-of-way was only 50 feet wide, and when they changed the road from one-way to two-way, it should have been increased to 66 feet in width. Therefore, the applicant would have to redo that portion of their site plan, and in doing so, would have to verify that they still met the 40% open space requirement.

The Chairman asked Ms. Stefforia if a third-party wetland assessment would have the impact of affecting the site. Ms. Stefforia said she did not believe so; she said that Mr. Elliott thought the project was achievable but simply wanted a third-party confirmation of the wetlands delineation.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked how the Commission could be assured that the land to be built upon was not wetlands. She said that Mr. Schley was quite concerned about that issue last time. Ms. Stefforia said that was why Marc Elliott requested a third-party delineation and a third-party delineation had, in fact, been done, as would be explained by the applicant .

The Chairman asked if there were further questions. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant.

Mr. Jeff Swenarton introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he was the attorney for Argel Irish of Irish Builders. He said that Mr. Woodhams was not able to be present, but he hoped he could answer the questions which had been raised.

Mr. Swenarton explained that, per Mr. Elliott's request, the applicant had a third-party wetland land delineation done by Kevin Kline. He said Mr. Kline was fully qualified by the Michigan Department of Environment Quality to perform such a review. He said that Mr. Kline was very conservative in his approach, and then proceeded to show the outline set forth on the site plan, showing the delineated wetlands, as well as the upland area. Mr. Swenarton pointed out that there was going to be no construction in the wetland area whatsoever; neither would there be any fill or dredging in that area.

Mr. Swenarton explained to the Planning Commission how he had sent the site condominium documents to Township counsel for review. He said there were some issues to be addressed, but that overall, he thought the documents were in good form. He pointed out that the community sewer system might develop, but if it did, either the DEQ or the Township would have authority to correct any problems, if necessary. He said there was also the potential to create a municipal sewer system in this area.

The Chairman asked Mr. Swenarton what type of waste system was preferred. Mr. Swenarton said a municipal waste system would be preferred, but if the project needed to proceed with a community septic system, it could, and then later, tie into the municipal waste system. Attorney Porter noted that one of the conditions which needs to be contained within the agreement was, if the community sewer system was put in, that the developer agree to connect to the municipal waste system at such time as sewer service became available to the property. Attorney Swenarton said he agreed with that requirement.

Mr. Swenarton said they had discussed the historical home on site, but no one from the Oshtemo Historical Society had contacted them to discuss taking the structure. Mr. Swenarton suggested they were open to suggestions. Ms. Everett said perhaps allowing the Historical Society to document information regarding the house and take photographs would be sufficient. Mr. Irish said he would be willing to do that, and he would consider allowing the Historical Society to salvage pieces of the structure for historical records.

The Chairman asked why the applicant needed flexibility regarding placement within the footprint of the site condominiums. Ms. Stefforia said, because the site condominium was so restrictive in where a home could be located, and the building sites were so small that it was impossible to meet the 30% coverage requirement. Therefore, a deviation would be needed.

Mr. Larson asked about sidewalks on both sides of the street. Mr. Irish said he recalled the last time this matter was discussed, Mr. Larson had requested sidewalks on both sides, but following discussions with Ms. Stefforia, he said they were proposing to develop sidewalks on only one side of the street, given the limited use on the private road. The Chairman said he thought that was consistent with prior actions of the Commission. Ms. Everett said it was also more consistent with it being a private street. Mr. Irish said they also wanted to reduce paved areas and retain as much of the natural beauty of the property as possible.

The Chairman asked if there were any further Commissioner questions, and hearing none, opened the hearing to the public.

Mr. Paul Maier said he represented the Oshtemo Lake Association. Mr. Maier read a letter into the record, indicating that he thought the addition of the 28 homes would harm the lake, and he asked that the Commission reject their proposal and called for a full environmental impact study.

Mr. Paul Sotherland said he was at the meeting on behalf of the Kalamazoo College Arboretum. He said he supported having a full environmental impact study done. He stated that the water fluctuated greatly in the area, and he was concerned about the building foundations and the water table. He said he was also concerned about the retention area, its location and depth, and the negative impact the storm water could have on the wetlands. He stated he was also concerned about run-off from the road going into the retention area, and then into the wetlands and the lake itself. Mr. Sotherland said he thought this would have a demonstrated negative impact on the Kalamazoo College property, would hurt the wildlife and again, said he opposed the project.

Mr. John Hopkins said he owned land to the west, for which he had no plans to develop. He said that the development as is proposed would create a crowded neighborhood without any room to roam. He said he would like to see the Commission recommend cutting the number of houses proposed by 50%. Mr. Hopkins stated he thought the proposal, as submitted, would negatively impact the wetlands, and he asked that the application be denied.

Mr. Lee Bontrager said he lived next door to the property. He asked what configuration the septic field would have next to the his property. Ms. Stefforia explained that all of it would be underground, and he likely would not be able to see any impact of the on-site community septic system.

Mr. Bontrager then stated he had lived in the area for 37 years, and he did not see that there had been any negative impact from the roads in the area or the salt applied to the road. He said it appeared to him that there were five houses on the other side of the lake which are trying to control the entire lake, when he did not think the proposal would have a negative impact on the lake. He thought that the Planning Commission should proceed with the project.

Ms. Katie Maier said she had a degree from Michigan State University in environmental biology. She said it was her opinion that the lake access for 28 homes would have a huge negative impact on the lake and hurt wildlife.

Mr. Swenarton asked for an opportunity to respond to some of the concerns raised. Mr. Swenarton first pointed out that none of the people buying the site condominiums would have riparian rights. He said, while there would be a gazebo and people would have the right to go to the lake, but they did not own frontage on the lake, nor would they have normal lake access. He stated that currently there is no way to even use the lake for boating because of the current lake levels. He said they did not propose any docks. He stated they were proposing an environmentally-friendly development, minimizing the impact on the natural surroundings. He said to currently get to the water, they would have to trespass to even get to the lake. Mr. Swenarton said while there was a remote possibility the lake would rise to such a level that would allow people to access the lake, he did not see why they should be any more restricted as an abutting land owner than any other property on the lake.

Mr. Irish said he thought if there were concerns about boats on the lake, he was willing to put language in his site condominium documents which would prohibit any motorized boats on the lake. He said they were as interested in maintaining the quality of the lake as any of the other property owners.

The Chairman asked if there were any further comments, and hearing none, called for Planning Commission deliberations.

The Chairman asked if the Planning Commission could require an environmental impact study. Attorney Porter noted that, in certain circumstances, environmental impact statements are warranted, but that there was nothing with Oshtemo's Ordinance that would require that be done. He also noted that he did not believe it was reasonable to attach that as a condition for approving the site plan, given that a subdivision with a similar density could be approved without any special use permit provisions.

Ms. Garland-Rike said she had not heard from the independent third-party regarding the wetlands. Attorney Porter pointed out that the record indicated that Mr. Kline, a DEQ qualified wetlands expert, had delineated the wetlands. Ms. Stefforia said that Mr. Kline was the third-party representative.

Ms. Everett asked why the DEQ did not do the review. Ms. Stefforia said, if they did, the study would not take place until 2007. Attorney Porter said it would likely be 2010.

Mr. Swenarton said that they would be more than happy to have the Township Engineer review Mr. Kline's report and that the Planning Commission could make such a review a condition of granting the special use.

Mr. Larson said that the DEQ would most likely review this matter anyway, given the development's proximity to the lake. He said that the review would either take place in Grand Rapids, or more probably, Plainwell.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the Commission could require the bylaws to contain restrictions against phosphates or chemicals being used in the greenspace. Attorney Porter expressed some concern with the ability to connect that to this particular special use. Again, he noted that, if this were a subdivision, the Commission would not have the opportunity to impose any such conditions, and as he stated earlier, he did not see the connection between the approval of the open space community and prohibition regarding the use of chemicals.

There was a discussion by the Planning Commission with regard to the wetlands delineation and how it was performed. The essence of the discussion focused around the delineation of the wetlands based upon the flora and its location in and around the property. After a brief discussion, Ms. Garland-Rike said she would like to make sure that the approval, if any, be subject to confirmation by the Township Engineer that there would be no building within the wetland areas. Attorney Porter said he thought that was appropriate, and any building in the wetlands would be a violation of DEQ regulations. Ms. Stefforia said she would have the Township Engineer review that, and noted that he would be requiring the applicant to delineate the 100-year flood plain to make sure that, if the water were to rise, there is no building within the flood plain area.

Mr. Smith asked if there were any concerns about the installation of the community septic system. Attorney Porter noted that the community septic systems were not only subject to very strict regulations for installation, but were also subject to strict DEQ regulations regarding their continuing operation. Therefore, he said he did not think that was a concern.

The Chairman asked if there was any more discussion. Hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion. Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the special exception use contingent upon verification of the wetland boundaries by the Township Engineer. The motion was seconded by Mr. Smith. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 5-to-1 with Ms. Garland-Rike in opposition.

Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the site plan, as submitted, subject to the following:

(1) The deviation be granted to allow more than 30% coverage of the building sites, as well as the reduced setbacks.

(2) Street lights within the development must comply with the provisions of Section 78.700.

(3) An Earth Change Permit from the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner's Office is necessary before earth change activities commence.

(4) Site plan approval is subject to approval of the Fire Department, pursuant to adopted codes.

(5) Site plan approval is subject to the Township Engineer finding the proposed site engineering to be adequate.

(6) If utilized, the private community sewer system is subject to review and approval of the Township Board.

(7) The approved site plan must delineate the designed open space and contain a note that indicates that improvements to the open space are limited to those approved by the Planning Commission - gazebo, path to gazebo and the private community sewer system.

(8) The Master Deed and By-laws must be submitted for Township review and approval before recording.

(9) The applicant encourage the owners of the site condominiums to use environmentally-friendly chemicals and fertilizers on the property so as to minimize any damage to the eco system.

(10) All necessary MDEQ approvals be secured.

(11) The private street must be located within a 66-foot easement. The site plan must be revised to reflect this, and the open space may not include it.

Mr. Gould supported the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Everett encouraged the applicant to get the people within the Association involved in maintaining the integrity of the lake for the future benefit of all concerned.

Other Business

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that there was a request to have a public hearing regarding a rezoning on West Main Street from "R-2" Residential District to "R-3" Residential District. She asked the Planning Commission if the area should be expanded upon before setting the public hearing. It was the consensus of the Commission to limit the application for rezoning to the area requested. Mr. Larson made a motion to consider both the rezoning request from "R-2" Residential District to "R-3" Residential, as well as the 9th Street Focus Area Overlay Zone and set the hearing for January 26, 2006. Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 10:10 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Minutes prepared:
December 22, 2005

Minutes approved:
, 2006