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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

December 20, 2001

Agenda

ZONING MAP AMENDMENTS - AGRICULTURAL, RURAL RESIDENTIAL AND "R-2" RESIDENCE DISTRICTS - PUBLIC HEARING

DIMENSIONAL REQUIREMENTS - RURAL RESIDENTIAL AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRICTS - PUBLIC HEARING

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, December 20, 2001, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Deborah L. Everett
Ted Corakis
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Stanley Rakowski
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
James Turcott

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney; and approximately 23 other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.

AGENDA

Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Agenda as submitted, and Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES

The Planning Commission considered the minutes of December 6, 2001. Ms. Garland-Rike suggested a change to page 6 to correct a typographical error. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Turcott seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

ZONING MAP AMENDMENTS - AGRICULTURAL, RURAL RESIDENTIAL AND "R-2" RESIDENCE DISTRICTS - PUBLIC HEARING

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Zoning Map establishing the boundaries of the Rural Residential District, the Agricultural District, as well as the expansion of the boundaries of the "R-2" Residence District zoning classifications.

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

Ms. Stefforia stated, as background to the item, that the 1993 Master Land Use Plan of the Township called for establishment of a Rural Residential District. Moreover, the Plan called for a distinction between the densities permitted in the western and eastern portions of the Township. Reference was made to the current Zoning Map which includes the Agricultural-Rural District, and it was noted that 70% of the Township's parcels are located in this District. However, it was acknowledged that the Township is not 70% agricultural in use. Ms. Stefforia stated that the eastern portion of the Township is predominantly urban residential, and the western portion is predominantly rural residential.

An opinion survey recently conducted by the Township supported implementation of the Master Land Use Policies. The Agricultural-Rural District would be amended to Rural Residential, which would encompass nearly every property currently zoned in the AG-Rural District. A handful of properties were proposed for the Agricultural District. Ms. Stefforia then made reference to the 500+ properties proposed for the "R-2" District. At present, these properties are zoned in the AG-Rural District zoning classification. However, the properties are in, or near, established neighborhoods, and therefore could be expected to develop with more dense population due to the presence of utilities and other infrastructure.

Ms. Stefforia made reference to her Report concerning review of the criteria applicable to the "R-2" Residence District expansion. She noted that the Planning Commission should consider whether the Master Land Use Plan supports the rezonings. She stated that amendments to the Master Land Use Plan and Future Land Use Plan had been studied by the Planning Commission. The proposed areas for "R-2" expansion were recommended for reclassification from the Rural Residential to the Residential classification. A public hearing on those changes was conducted earlier in the month, and the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the changes to the Township Board. It was noted that the expansions were intended to implement the Master Land Use Plan.

As to whether the proposed rezonings would severely impact traffic, public facilities and natural characteristics of the surrounding area or significantly change population density, Ms. Stefforia noted that no additional density would be allowed over and above that which is currently available. Further, the areas proposed for expansion are areas in which utilities are available and which have developed with neighborhoods. Therefore, she felt that there would be no severe impact.

The Planning Commission should also consider whether the proposed rezonings constitute a spot zone. Ms. Stefforia felt that the proposed areas were logical areas for expansion of existing districts. All areas, with the exception of the southeast corner of the Township, were already abutting the "R-2" Residence District; the southeast corner had developed residentially, and water and sewer are available making the corner appropriate for "R-2" zoning. Further, the areas were large geographically.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposed rezonings were contrary to the established land use pattern. It was noted that the established land use pattern had caused the Planning Commission to consider the "R-2" District for expansion to these areas. It was felt that the current zoning was contrary to the established land use pattern.

As to whether the proposed rezoning would have the probable effect of stimulating similar rezonings in the vicinity, it was recognized that areas where both sewer and water are available would be considered for rezoning to the "R-2" District, and such consideration would be appropriate.

The Planning Commission was also to consider whether a change in conditions in the surrounding area would support the proposed rezoning. Ms. Stefforia felt that these areas were no longer agricultural in nature and that rezoning was supported. Finally, Ms. Stefforia noted that the proposed rezonings were not the result of any development request.

Turning to the proposed agricultural rezonings, Ms. Stefforia reported that the properties suggested for agricultural zoning were all agriculturally used at the present time and are 40 acres in size or part of a 40-acre tract.

Ms. Stefforia made reference to her Report concerning the rezoning criteria as they were applicable to the Agricultural District. Concerning whether the proposed rezonings were supported by the adopted Master Land Use Plan, Ms. Stefforia stated that the rezonings would implement recommended changes to the Master Land Use Plan.

She felt there would be no severe impact on traffic, public facilities and the natural characteristics of the surrounding area or population density in that the rezonings were intended to preserve agricultural property historically used for agricultural purposes. There would be no change to existing density.

As to whether the proposed rezoning constituted spot zoning, Ms. Stefforia stated that, in her opinion, no spot would be created in that each parcel was at least 40 acres or part of a 40-acre tract.

As to whether the proposed rezonings would be contrary to an established land use pattern, it was felt that the rezonings would be in keeping with the current land use pattern.

Ms. Stefforia stated that, in her opinion, the proposed rezonings would not have the probable effect of stimulating similar requests in the vicinity. Further, it was felt that the existing conditions in the surrounding area supported the agricultural zoning. Again, it was noted that the rezonings being considered were not the result of any development request.

Ms. Stefforia noted that a letter had been received from Tammye MacKenzie, a resident of North 7th Street, whose property had been included for consideration for the "R-2" Residence District zoning classification. She opposed rezoning and suggested agricultural zoning for her property.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Steve Kuilema had questions about how rezoning to the "R-2" Zoning District would affect property taxes. It was noted that rezoning itself would have no effect on the taxable value of property which is controlled by the Proposal A cap. Further, in response to questions from Mr. Kuilema, it was noted that there would be no changes to the hunting controlled in the area as a result of this rezoning.

Jim Endres also had questions with regard to whether the rezonings would result in a tax increase.

The Chairperson made reference to and read the letter dated December 12, 2001, from the Township's Assessor, Steve Hudson, which explained that there would be no effect on taxable value which was capped at the rate of inflation until new construction or sale. Mr. Endres stated that he was in favor of zoning his property to the agricultural zone.

The Chairperson explained that the Planning Commission would be making a recommendation concerning the rezonings to the Township Board, which would take final action.

Kelly Verhage wanted to confirm that her three properties were proposed for the Agricultural District. Reference was made to the notice, and it was indicated that her three properties had been included for consideration in the Agricultural District. She stated for the record that she was in favor of agricultural zoning on these properties.

Tammye MacKenzie was present, stating that she was in favor of agricultural zoning for her property. Ms. MacKenzie trains and sells horses from the site. The Township Attorney stated that she felt that the property would be a farm operation pursuant to the Right to Farm Act, and therefore, would be unaffected by the rezoning. Nevertheless, Ms. MacKenzie indicated that she wished to be considered for the agricultural zone. It was noted that, since her property had not been in the notice for consideration as agricultural zoning, it would need to be re-noticed for public hearing.

Marion Gorham stated that she is owner of an 80-acre parcel which was under consideration for agricultural zoning. Other 40-acre parcels owned by her family bordering 7th Street had not been included in the agricultural notice. Ms. Gorham stated that she was not certain whether her family would want all properties zoned agricultural but wanted time to speak with Township Staff to consider the zoning district which would be best for these properties.

Eric Weeldreyer stated that he would also like time to talk to Township staff about agricultural versus rural residential zoning.

Bill Homola was concerned about the proposed rezoning in the southeast corner of the Township, and he objected to a change to the "R-2" District. It was explained that the change was being suggested due to the residential neighborhood in this area and the availability of utilities.

Jean Bourner was concerned that all her properties be listed as agricultural.

Joan Cavanaugh, resident of the corner of 11th Street and N Avenue, requested that her property "remain as is". She did not want an area so densely populated as would be allowed under "R-2" zoning. It was noted that the "R-2" Zoning District would not allow a density any greater than that which was currently permitted. Nevertheless, she indicated that she would like more rural residential use in the area in question.

Bob Klein, owner of a 41-acre parcel in the northeast portion of Section 30, stated that his property is used for a national tree farm. However, he did not want his property zoned agricultural.

The Chairperson asked for further public comment. None was received. The public hearing was closed.

Mr. Corakis moved to table consideration of the rezoning to the meeting of February 28, 2002, at 7 p.m. Further, Mr. Corakis moved that the MacKenzie and Gorham properties be scheduled for public hearing on February 28, 2002, for consideration for the Agricultural, Rural Residential and "R-2" zoning district classifications. The motion was seconded by Mr. Rakowski, and it carried unanimously.

DIMENSIONAL REQUIREMENTS - RURAL RESIDENTIAL AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRICTS - PUBLIC HEARING

The Planning Commission considered the public hearing on the final draft of the proposed dimensional requirements for Rural Residential and Agricultural Districts. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia also made reference to her "fast facts" report.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the intent behind the dimensional requirements was to create incentive for developers to use the open space community development option, and thus, have a greater chance of preserving the rural character of these areas.

Reference was made to a letter received from Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, who are opposed to the changes.

Earnie Best presented three drawings.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Mr. Best stated that he is opposed to the suggestion of the Planning Commission that traditional platting is not consistent with the rural residential character. He recognized that the Planning Commission was concerned about the growth of the community, but he felt that the dimensional requirements being considered were too excessive. He was particularly concerned about the dimensional requirements for the Rural Residential zone. He felt that a traditional plat being required to include three-acre lots would be too expensive. He indicated that his information was that there was not much land for sale which was not included in a plat in Oshtemo Township.

He made that the argument that, since the Township does not count the road right-of-way in acreage, an unplatted parcel is currently required to be 1.3 rather than 1.15 acres. Further, if the three-acre lot were required, in fact 3.15 acres would be required. He felt that since the dimensional requirements had been around for a long time, and the rural character of the Township had been preserved, there should be no change. In his opinion, the changes would reduce the value of property. He was also concerned about use of the open space community because he felt that it would be "too much elbow-to-elbow living". In his opinion, the Township should take more time to consider the dimensional requirements.

Kathleen Garland-Rike responded that the open space community does not necessarily mean that all houses have to be placed closely together. She felt that open space development was becoming more and more popular throughout the country. She had conducted research on the Internet and in publications, and she felt that the Planning Commission had received valuable input from its highly-capable planners. In her opinion, open space communities would save natural features in the area ,such as trees, wetlands and topography. Her information from recent news reports was that open space communities hold their value more than traditional plats. In her opinion, open space design would allow greater density yet preserve rural character.

Mr. Best was asked to comment on what he felt would be reasonable dimensional standards. He felt that 1 acres would be reasonable for unplatted property but did not want to comment on plat standards. He felt that some would feel that current standards are too restrictive. Mr. Best stated that he felt the Planning Commission should be complimented on the amount of work that had been put in on the project, but he disagrees with the three-acre requirement. Mr. Best departed the meeting.

Steve Kuilema commented that he felt that his property would eventually need to develop. However, he was concerned about preserving the Township's rural character, and he felt that the three-acre requirement was appropriate. He was concerned about the amount of density currently being allowed, citing the Savannah development.

Jean Bourner stated that she was concerned about traffic getting heavier in rural areas of the Township, and Ms. Stefforia stated that the Planning Commission had hoped through the standards to encourage development in a more planned manner so that there was better traffic management.

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

Ms. Stefforia stated that she had met with the Land Use Committee of the Homebuilders Association, and she had indicated to them that she was not opposed to tabling the item so as to create a task force which would allow for the sharing of information. Mr. Corakis agreed that input from the Homebuilders Association would be valuable. Ms. Everett indicated she had no problem with the task force idea. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell and Ms. Garland-Rike agreed; however, they felt that the task force should be broad-based in makeup.

Mr. Corakis moved to table the item to the meeting of February 28, 2002, to allow for the creation of a Task Force made up of a representative from the County Health Department, a representative of the Township Planning Department, a representative of the Homebuilders Association, a representative of the realtors in the area, township property owners and residents, and up to three Planning Commissioners. The Task Force was to meet, come to a consensus, and report to the Planning Commission by the meeting of February 28, 2002. The motion was seconded by Mr. Rakowski and carried unanimously.

Mr. Turcott and the Chairperson both commented upon the long work of the Planning Commission on the dimensional standards. However, it was recognized that it would be best to give all a chance for full input to make sure that everyone felt that they had been "heard".

2002 MEETING SCHEDULE

Ms. Garland-Rike moved to approve the meeting schedule as submitted. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

OTHER BUSINESS

The Chairperson presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Ted Corakis for his long service on the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Chairperson expressed his thanks to Mr. Corakis for his hard work. These comments were echoed by other Planning Commissioners and by the Township Attorney.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Planning Commissioners reflected on 2001 projects, and Mr. Rakowski complimented the staff on its work during 2001. The Chairperson indicated that he felt that 2001 was a productive year and enlightening. Ms. Garland-Rike agreed, indicating that she had learned a lot and was appreciative of the Township Staff. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell noted the changes and the growth of the Planning Commission over the year.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:

Minutes prepared:
December 21, 2001

Minutes approved:
, 2001 2002