OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS MINUTES

December 6, 1999

Agenda

WEST MAIN MALL - SIGN VARIANCE - SOUTHWEST CORNER OF DRAKE ROAD AND WEST MAIN STREET

WEST MAIN MALL - LIGHTING VARIANCE - SOUTHWEST CORNER OF DRAKE ROAD AND WEST MAIN STREET

DOMINION GROUP - FRONTAGE VARIANCE - NORTH SIDE OF H AVENUE BETWEEN 6TH STREET AND 9TH STREET

DE NOOYER CHEVROLET - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5800 STADIUM DRIVE

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, December 6, 1999, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT:
Thomas Brodasky, Chairperson
David Bushouse
Millard Loy
William Saunders
Sharon Kuntzman

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Township Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and 14 other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m.

MINUTES

The Zoning Board of Appeals considered the minutes of the meeting of November 15, 1999. Mr. Loy moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Saunders seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

WEST MAIN MALL - SIGN VARIANCE - SOUTHWEST CORNER OF DRAKE ROAD AND WEST MAIN STREET

The Zoning Board of Appeals considered the request of Sign Art, Inc., on behalf of West Main 2000, LLC, for a variance from the provisions of Section 76.000 to allow a proposed sign package for the West Main Mall property that would replace the existing, non-conforming signs at the subject site at the southwest corner of Drake Road and West Main Street. The property is located in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia reported that the property is the site of the former West Main Mall, which is currently being demolished with the intent of replacing same with a new retail development. The first two tenants within the proposed new development would be Lowe’s Home Improvement Store and a movie theater. There are two existing, free-standing signs, one along Drake Road, being the United Artists Theater Sign which is 240 square feet and 17 feet tall. The second free-standing sign at West Main, which contained Mall identification and theater signage, was 415.5 square feet in area and 30 feet tall.

The proposed sign package is comprised of eight signs, four of which would be traffic control signs. The sign package proposal information submitted by the applicant is incorporated herein by reference. Sign #1 as proposed would require a setback variance. Signs #1 and #2 would exceed the 25-foot height limitation for shopping center signs. Four free-standing signs would exceed the area allowed by the Ordinance, i.e., signs one through four. The directional signs, signs #5 through #8, would exceed the Ordinance size and height limitations. Further, the package included two more free-standing pylon signs than allowed under the Ordinance.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the applicant was willing to restrict the potential outlots, or additional buildings to be constructed on the site, to wall signage only.

Ms. Stefforia suggested that the Board also consider the temporary construction signs at the site, which are located within the right-of-way. Additionally, the temporary construction signs would require a variance with regard to size. Ms. Stefforia noted that if the property were to subdivide, it would be allowed a greater number of free-standing signs due to the fact that the property had about 1,700 feet of frontage and was 48 acres in size.

Ms. Stefforia suggested that the sign on pylon #2 be reduced to 25 feet in height thereby complying with the height provisions for a shopping center identification sign. She also felt that the third sign, which identifies only one business could reasonably be limited to 20 feet in height and 60 square feet in compliance with Ordinance provisions. She suggested that signs #1 and #4 be limited to a height equal to or less than the signs they were replacing.

Reference was made to the Zoning Board of Appeals’ variance granted to the Maple Hill Mall redevelopment. The 1998 variance allowed replacement of a non-conforming sign with a new one of substantially the same size and height. It was a condition of the variance that two other existing signs along West Main Street be removed. Additionally, Target had been denied a variance from the sign height and area limitations. The Target store was situated on a separate legal parcel than the rest of Maple Hill Mall.

Josh Weiner, on behalf of West Main 2000, LLC, was present. He stated that his company was proud to be involved with the redevelopment of the site. They sought to create an integrated shopping complex/retail development. He stated that the applicant was presenting a sign package representing free-standing signage for the entire site as suggested by the Township Planning Director. He noted that the existing signage at the site was approximately 655 square feet split between two free-standing signs. The proposed sign package would comprise 705 square feet divided among four free-standing signs. The remaining signage would be directional. Mr. Weiner stated that the ability of the applicant to proceed with the development depends upon contracts and leases with established retailers and businesses. In his opinion, the Lowes’ sign was a very critical one for that tenant. He stated that the Lowes’ parcel would be a separate parcel with its own tax identification number. As to the temporary signage, Mr. Weiner stated that they had retained a professional sign company and had not realized that the signage did not conform to the Ordinance.

In response to questions from Mr. Loy, the applicant stated that the wall signage, which would be proposed, would be well within Ordinance limitations with regard to area. However, a height variance might be sought.

Ms. Kuntzman had questions for the applicant with regard to the Lowes’ signage proposal. It was noted that sign #1 is for the shopping center as a whole; however, the Lowes’ Store was mentioned. Sign #3 would be for Lowes alone. The Lowes’ operation would be integrated within the total 48-acre site, as to its use, but would be on a separate parcel.

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

Ms. Kuntzman stated that she felt this was an important chance to bring the site into compliance with Ordinance provisions, and she had a problem with establishing a signage variance precedent.

The Chairperson expressed that he felt that the Board might be justified in granting a greater number of free-standing signs to the site given the amount of frontage available to the applicant.

Mr. Loy discussed the signage at the Maple Hill Mall site, noting that the Mall itself had only two free-standing signs.

There was discussion about whether Lowes, as a separate parcel, would be entitled to one free-standing sign on its own. It was felt that if the parcel were separately described and identified and the subject of a separate deed, under the Ordinance, the property would be entitled to its own free-standing sign. If the property were subdivided, it is possible that approximately seven to eight free-standing signs could be established on the property.

Mr. Bushouse expressed concern with the concept of the signage, in that he felt it was not necessary to identify each and every tenant on the shopping center sign. He had seen the Lowes stores in Battle Creek and Benton Harbor, and felt that the signage was smaller for those stores than was proposed for this site.

Mr. Weiner noted that the Maple Hill Mall site contains separate parcels, and therefore, there was a larger number of free-standing signs for the overall site, including Applebee’s, etc. He felt that the West Main Mall property had a visibility problem due to the presence of the West Century Center in front. In addition, most stores would face Drake Road which was "narrower" than West Main Street. Therefore, the stores would be perpendicular to the major thoroughfare. He was also concerned that Lowes would be set back substantially from the major thoroughfare. It was felt that larger signage could rectify this visibility problem.

There was discussion of the traffic control signs, and it was noted that the signs except sign #5 would not be visible off-site.

Mr. Saunders suggested that four free-standing signs, in addition to the traffic control signs, be approved, with the main sign at 25 feet in height. Sign #2 would be 25 feet in height and 100 square feet. Sign #3 would need to meet the Ordinance as to height and square footage. Sign #4 would be granted 20 feet in height and 172 square feet in area.

The applicant suggested that Mr. Saunders’ proposal was acceptable, except that he suggested switching signs #2 and #3, i.e., that sign #2 would be 60 square feet, and sign #3 127 square feet. Mr. Weiner felt that this proposal would result in much less overall sign square footage on the site than was there at present.

After further discussion, Mr. Saunders moved to grant variance to allow the following free-standing signs:

(1) Sign #1 - 25 feet in height with 261 square feet in area.

                                        (2) Sign #2 - 25 feet in height with 60 square feet in area.

(3) Sign #3 - 25 feet in height with 127 square feet in area.

(4) Sign #4 - 20 feet in height with 172 square feet in area.

                                        (5)-(8) Signs #5 through #8 were traffic control signs which were                                            approved as proposed in the sign package. Sign setbacks                                            were permitted as proposed by the applicant.

The variance was conditioned on no further free-standing signage being located on the site as a whole, and the creation and recording of a restrictive covenant which would be on file with the Township to limit signage on the property to that allowed in the variance. Mr. Saunders reasoned that variance was appropriate given the spirit and intent of the Ordinance and the fact that the signage as approved would include less square footage than currently exists at the site, and would include fewer free-standing signs than allowed to the acreage if subdivided.

Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried 4-to-1 with Ms. Kuntzman voting in opposition.

There was discussion of the temporary signage, with the applicant agreeing that the temporary signs would be moved out of the right-of-way and brought into conformance with size limitations.

WEST MAIN MALL - LIGHTING VARIANCE - SOUTHWEST CORNER OF DRAKE ROAD AND WEST MAIN STREET

The Zoning Board of Appeals next discussed the application of West Main 2000, LLC for approval of a variance from Section 78.720 to allow 1,000 watt light fixtures to illuminate the parking lot, where the Ordinance limits fixtures to 400 watts. The subject property is located at the southwest corner of Drake Road and West Main Street within the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the lighting as proposed would comply with the limitations of the Ordinance with regard to foot candles at the property perimeter. Ms. Stefforia noted that a similar variance was granted to Maple Hill Chysler, and the Total gas station was granted deviation to exceed foot candle limits at the perimeter.

The applicant stated that 1,000 watt fixtures would "cost less" and "look nicer". They felt that such wattage would also increase public safety. The applicant clarified that using 1,000 watt fixture would allow use of fewer poles and a higher pole height. The applicant stressed that the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be met in that the foot candles at the property perimeter had been reduced to zero. The applicant was proposing 400 watt fixtures in the area of the theater due to the fact that the multi-family use and golf course were adjacent.

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

Mr. Loy expressed concern about illumination of adjacent properties, but he was satisfied that the applicant would meet the limitations of the Ordinance with regard to foot candles at the perimeter of the property. Due to this fact, he felt that a variance would be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ordinance. The other Board members agreed.

Based upon this discussion, Mr. Loy moved to approve the variance, and Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

DOMINION GROUP - FRONTAGE VARIANCE - NORTH SIDE OF H AVENUE BETWEEN 6TH STREET AND 9TH STREET

The Zoning Board of Appeals considered the application of Harry Wierenga of LandTech, Inc. as agent for Dominion Group. The applicant sought a variance from Section 66.201 to allow a land division that would create a parcel with less than 200 feet of frontage on a public street. The subject property is located on the north side of H Avenue between 6th Street and 9th Street. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reported that the subject site was approximately 67 acres. It had been divided into two parcels, and Parcel A had been sold under land contract. Parcel A conformed to the frontage requirements of the Ordinance, but Parcel B lacks frontage and was non-conforming. The Township had not recognized the land division. Parcel B however did have a 66-foot piece of frontage, and it was planned that a public road would be established to accommodate development of the interior with a site condominium subdivision.

The Board’s action on the Robinson application was noted; the Robinson application involved similar facts.

The applicant displayed a proposal for the site condominium subdivision layout. There was potential for connection of the subdivision to other interior properties adjacent.

Harry Wierenga of LandTech, along with Brandi Deaver were present. He stated that the split had technically already taken place, and that Parcel A had been sold. Dominion Group has come in after the fact to purchase Parcel B. They had attempted to buy back Parcel A, but the buyer would not sell it. He stated that Dominion plans to develop the property with site condominium subdivision.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Steve Kuilema, who owns a neighboring property, was upset about the plan to put a subdivision in his back yard. He wondered whether his property could be developed similarly.

Marjorie Hammond stated that she had purchased a home in the area, and had bought Parcel A in order to provide her with more acreage as a buffer.

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

The Chairperson observed that the variance would be consistent with past precedent.

Mr. Bushouse stated that he would be abstaining from voting on the project because the owner of Parcel A was his sister-in-law.

Mr. Loy moved to approve the variance based on reasoning used in the Robinson application and other similar applications, with the condition that a 66-foot wide easement be established through written documentation executed, recorded and on file with the Township, for purposes of the future road extension to serve the parcel; no building permit would issue for Parcel B until it is in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance frontage requirement, by extension of a public road or otherwise.

Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion, and the motion carried with 4 voting in favor and Mr. Bushouse abstaining.

DE NOOYER CHEVROLET - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5800 STADIUM DRIVE

The Board considered the application of Kerwin Electric, on behalf of DeNooyer Chevrolet, for a variance from Section 78.700 regarding the site lighting at 5800 Stadium Drive within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the dealership on the property was established in 1983. Therefore, the lighting at the site predates Ordinance standards. In 1983, the Zoning Board of Appeals had granted a variance to allow outdoor display of vehicles in the front setback area, but outside the right-of-way. In 1996, the Zoning Board (now Planning Commission) approved a building addition, including service area and body shop expansion.

It was reported that the applicant had replaced existing poles and fixtures in the interior areas of the site after obtaining an electrical permit from the Township. However, at the same time, the applicant installed four additional light poles and fixtures along the frontage of the property. In that the site already exceeded the 0.1 foot candle illumination level at the property line, the installation of four more light poles changed the illumination level, and the lighting arrangement was thus technically required to come into compliance with Ordinance provisions. The applicant had proposed using shields on the perimeter lights and bumpers to reduce glare and spill-off from the premises.

It was noted that the variance granted to Chrysler was similar in that the Zoning Board of Appeals had concluded that, because the outdoor display area predated Ordinance setback standards, certain lighting levels were needed to reasonably allow the use.

Jim Kerwin noted that lighting plans had been submitted to the Township showing the site as it existed without shields and bumpers, and the site showing the effect of the shields.

There was some confusion with regard to whether the lighting plans were accurate as to the foot candle illumination levels. It appeared that the plan which represented the proposal with shields would actually result in more foot candles at the perimeter.

Ms. Stefforia asked about what the highest illumination at the perimeter would be with shields and bumpers. Mr. Kerwin could not answer but indicated that some reduction of spill-off site had been the result of the change to the fixtures in that they were semi-sharp cut-off rather than the flood light type used previously.

There was further discussion, with Mr. Loy stating that he would like to see the applicant come close to compliance with 20 foot candles at the property perimeter line which was the illumination level allowed for the Chrysler site.

There was discussion of tabling the item to allow for submission of a revised lighting plan and potential consultation with a lighting expert by the Township.

Mr. Loy moved to table the item to January 17, 2000, and Mr. Saunders seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:02 p.m.

Minutes Prepared:
December 13, 1999

Minutes Approved:
January 17, 2000