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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

December 9, 1999

Agenda

ATHLETE’S CORNER - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - LOT 11 OF OSHTEMO BUSINESS PARK

WEST MAIN MALL - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - SOUTHWEST CORNER OF WEST MAIN AND DRAKE ROAD

REVIEW APPLICATION FOR TEXT AMENDMENT

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, December 9, 1999, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT:
Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Marvin Block
Millard Loy
Ted Corakis (after 7:05 p.m.)
Stanley Rakowski
Ken Heisig
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

MEMBERS ABSENT:
None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and 11 other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

AGENDA

The Chairperson suggested a discussion under Other Business of the previous Township Board meeting. Ms. Bugge suggested a discussion of the application of Message Express. Mr. Loy moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Mr. Block seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES

The Planning Commission considered the Minutes of the meeting of November 18, 1999. Ms. Bugge suggested a revision to correct a typographical error on page 8. Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Minutes as amended, and Mr. Heisig seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

ATHLETE’S CORNER -SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - LOT 11 OF OSHTEMO BUSINESS PARK

The Planning Commission considered the application of Gary Peshl on behalf of Athlete’s Corner for special exception use approval and site plan review to allow a proposed indoor recreation use in the "I-R" Industrial District zoning classification. The use would be established within a building currently under construction on Lot 11 of the Oshtemo Business Park. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Planning Commission that this was the first indoor recreational facility to be reviewed under the recent text amendment. It was proposed that a 17,000 square foot facility would be located within the Phase II building on Lot 11 of the Business Park. The building in question has already received site plan review and approval.

Gary Peshl was present on behalf of the applicant to answer questions. He stated that the proposed use would involve indoor training of specific skills. There would be four personal trainers, and the emphasis would be upon one-on-one training with regard to baseball and football. A 900 square foot retail "pro shop" was also proposed.

In response to questioning by Mr. Corakis, the applicant stated that the pro shop would be similar to those located at golf courses. Anyone could come into the pro shop, but it would be primarily used by patrons of the facility.

The Chairperson asked about the height of the building, and the applicant responded that it was approximately 30 feet in height.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell asked for clarification on the use, and the applicant responded that there might be some large events, but the use would be primarily for one-on-one training. He felt that there would not be a lot of traffic to the site except on weekends. The planned hours of operations were 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., but hours of operation would depend upon demand.

Mr. Corakis asked about whether the site would be utilized for any other use, and the applicant indicated that it was possible that the site would be rented out for birthday and other types of parties and special events.

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

Ms. Bugge, noted in response to questions from the Planning Commission, that the building as a whole was approximately 60,000 square feet, and that the applicant would occupy the southern suite.

Reference was made to Section 60.100 of the Ordinance. The Planning Commission considered whether the proposed use was compatible with other uses expressly permitted within the "I-R" Industrial District. The Chairperson noted the uses which were permitted in the "I-R" District. Planning Commissioners felt that the facility, which would be located within a large warehouse-style building, i.e., a single-story facility over 30 feet tall, would be compatible in appearance and character with the uses permitted in the "I-R" District.

Next, the Planning Commission considered whether the use would be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or the general public. Mr. Loy felt that the effects of the use would be mild compared to other uses that could be allowed in the District. The Chairperson agreed, stating that he felt the use would be less intense.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell expressed that she felt the traffic to the site might be more intense than for other types of uses, due to the fact that the facility would be used by the general public. Ms. Bugge said that the likely traffic pattern of the use would probably complement other uses, since most traffic to the site would be in afternoons and evenings as well as weekends. Therefore, traffic and parking needs would complement the other uses in the Business Park.

Mr. Loy stated that he believes that, since many industrial uses could have 24-hour operations with truck traffic, this use would be less intense.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the Township staff would review parking for each tenant as the building as leased. She felt that there would be sufficient parking for the use in question.

As to the pro shop, it was felt that it was significant that it would be accessed only from the interior of the facility.

The Planning Commission concluded that there would be nothing at the site which would be considered detrimental, and it was felt that the use would be compatible with other uses on the site and off site on the adjacent properties.

The Planning Commission next considered whether the proposed use would promote public health, safety and welfare. The facility would provide an opportunity for adults and children to receive instructions in sports and participate in athletic facilities. It was also felt that promoting recreational activities within the Township would promote public health, safety and welfare.

As to whether the proposed use would encourage use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability, Planning Commission members stated that they felt the facility, since located in a large warehouse-style industrial building, would be compatible in appearance with the area.

After further discussion, Mr. Heisig moved to approve the special exception use permit concluding that, based upon the analysis of the Planning Commission, the proposed use met the criteria of Section 60.100. Mr. Loy seconded the motion.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Robert Pine of N Avenue stated that he was concerned about "intensifying" use of property on Stadium Drive. He felt that the use would increase traffic problems in the area. He was also concerned that the use was retail in nature. The Chairperson explained that the indoor recreational facility would have a pro shop only as an accessory use.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.

WEST MAIN MALL - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - SOUTHWEST CORNER OF WEST MAIN AND DRAKE ROAD

The Planning Commission next considered the special exception use and site plan approval for the proposed 135,197 square foot retail/wholesale facility, i.e., Lowe’s, and the 19,600 square foot proposed seven screen movie theater at the subject site. The property is located at the southwest corner of West Main and Drake Road in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the outdoor display aspect of the Lowe’s site required special exception use approval. Consequently, site plan review would be performed by the Planning Commission. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the applicant was not seeking approval for the future buildings, but did plan to establish parking and access in Phase I. She noted that the applicant had received a lighting and sign package variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

With regard to the Drake Road access points, the Road Commission had advised Ms. Stefforia that the three drives on Drake Road were "O.K. at present" but indicated concern about all three drives continuing to remain open when future buildings were constructed. The Road Commission had indicated that it believed it was appropriate to close the north drive once there was sufficient traffic to the site to justify signalization of the middle drive. They were also in favor of aligning the interior parking lot aisle with the middle drive.

With regard to landscaping, the applicant proposed the continuation of a green strip along Drake Road. The width of the strip would match that found along the West Century Center development. The applicant was also proposing internal parking lot landscaping. The planting of some hardwood and evergreen trees was proposed along the southern property line between the existing apartment buildings and the theater. This would supplement existing trees in that area.

The Fire Department had reviewed the proposed plan and had provided its comments. The Engineer was in the process of reviewing the proposal, but it was noted that the utilities to the site were adequate. A Hazardous Substance Reporting form and Environmental Permits Checklist would be needed.

Going back to the proposed access points and parking lot layout, Ms. Stefforia stated that the Road Commission had expressed some concerns about the proposed interior site circulation.

Ms. Stefforia also noted that the Maple Hill Drive South Focus Area called for redevelopment of this area, and she believes that the proposal was in accord with that Focus Area Plan.

Josh Weiner, managing member of West Main 2000, LLC, was present. Mr. Weiner commented that he would like to see another "Southland Mall" in this location. However, he noted that the Southland redevelopment had involved a pre-existing building and site with a number of existing outbuildings. Therefore, he felt that the subject site, which involved an almost complete redevelopment, could be significantly improved.

Mr. Weiner commented that he felt that the application met many of the criteria of the Focus Area Plan, in that it would preserve and enhance the commercial corridor, expand recreational uses in the area, revitalize the area, and improve the traffic situation. He noted that the applicant had, in cooperation with the Post Office, planned to close an existing drive, and that the Mall site, along with the Post Office, would use a common drive on the south side of the subject property.

He stated that a lot of attention had been paid to the landscaping, and particularly, to the south adjacent to the multi-family uses and on the west adjacent to the golf course.

The Chairperson asked questions with regard to the elevations of the property; the applicant and the Chairperson discussed the slope downward in the green space between the Lowe’s area and the theater.

The Chairperson asked the applicant about access and whether it would consider closing one access point on Drake Road. The applicant responded that they would need to have some experience with traffic patterns at the site and that whether the drive was closed would depend upon future uses. The Township Attorney also expressed concern that the approval of the West Century Center be researched to determine whether its site plan review had involved the "north" drive. It was also probable that the drive was the subject of the cross-access arrangement between West Century Center and the Mall property. The facts behind this arrangement would need to be investigated.

The Chairperson asked whether the applicant was in favor of aligning the drive with the interior parking aisle, i.e., the middle drive. The applicant responded that the present layout is designed to meet the requirements of Lowe’s and their parking needs. However, the applicant had considered some modifications that would improve the circulation pattern in the parking lot.

Mr. Rakowski congratulated the applicant on reaching agreement with the Post Office with regard to the sharing of a drive. He asked whether Lowe’s would have an outside P.A. system. The applicant responded that there might be an outside speaker system for communicating with employees, but not for advertising. Mr. Rakowski and other Planning Commission members agreed that employees should have use of a walkie talkie or other radio system. It was felt that outdoor speakers should be used only in emergency circumstances. This type of condition would be consistent with the Menards’ approval.

Mr. Corakis expressed concern about the loading zone area. One concern was the possible interference with the fire lane. Ms. Stefforia stated that the Fire Department had approved the arrangement as proposed with some signage changes. Mr. Loy expressed that if the Fire Department had approved the arrangement, he was satisfied with the loading zone area.

Mr. Block expressed that he would not like to see storage of timbers, etc. in the parking lot as he observed in the Battle Creek Lowe’s store.

The Planning Commission returned to a discussion of the loading zone, with the applicant stating that heavier parcels would be loaded under the canopy on the west side of the frontage.

There was discussion of the fencing around the property on the south side of the theater. It was planned that this would "intersect with" the Post Office fencing for security purposes. There was a discussion of whether there could be a provision for walking access between the multi-family property and the Mall. The applicant stated that the "pro" for this arrangement would be a convenience to the multi-family use, but there would be concerns as to security and liability. Mr. Block expressed that he felt that the "openings" between the neighborhood and the Southland Mall were a mess.

There was a return to the discussion on the traffic flow pattern within the parking lot area. There was discussion of the possible re-positioning, move to the west, of certain parking aisles at the west side in front of the Lowe’s building. As to the north/south drive on the east side of the parking lot, the applicant stated that they were willing to widen the aisle and curve it in the area of the middle access point to allow for more "stacking" and an improved circulation pattern. The applicant was not in favor of "straightening" or "aligning" the middle drive with the parking area, stating that they felt that this would allow traffic to enter and drive through the property "too fast".

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that in her opinion the parking on the west side in front of the Lowe’s site could be shifted to the west to get a wider north/south aisle, however, the aisles would need to allow for two-way traffic loop so that vehicle traffic could access the canopy area. She felt that a direct line east to west should extend from the mid-drive. Further, she felt that there should be a north/south aisle which would allow access between West Century Center and the Post Office. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell was also concerned that there should be a pedestrian walkway allowing access from the multi-family use. She also felt that pedestrian walkways could be added between areas of the subject site, such as the theater and the nearby West Century Center.

The applicant responded that they were not in favor of encouraging pedestrian access between the theater and West Century Center. This would involve concerns about security and safety. The applicant was not in favor of encouraging pedestrians to cross a busy parking lot.

There was a discussion of the barrier-free parking, and the applicant indicated that barrier-free parking would comply with ADA barrier-free guidelines.

Mr. Block asked whether any trucks would be stored on site, and the applicant responded that there would be no such storage.

There was discussion of the fact that in the theater area the grade would be lowered approximately 2-1/2 feet. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell was concerned that the Township Engineer would need to review regarding the integrity of the retaining wall in that area.

The Chairperson had questions with regard to the future buildings, and the applicant responded that they would be facing Drake Road. The rear area would be used for service entries and employee parking. Any wall signage would face Drake Road. The signage on the west side would only indicate the service entry.

Mr. Corakis had questions with regard to storm water runoff, and it was noted that drainage was located under ground.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Bill Jamieson commended the developer for "taking care of an eyesore". However, he felt that the Planning Commission should carefully consider the sale/storage proposed on site. He felt that the outdoor use would not be like "Meijer" but more like a lumber yard. He felt that this kind of "storage" should not be allowed along a major thoroughfare. He expressed concern about the screening proposal, and again noted that he would like to see the outdoor portion of the Lowe’s use located on the interior of the property and not along Drake Road. Mr. Jamieson stated that he felt the middle drive should be closed. He felt that the drives were not "planned for the optimum use" of the site. He was concerned that the north/south service drive on the west side of the property did not go "all the way to the theater" without going through parking area. As to parking, he commented that he felt that the parking spaces should be oversized since most customers of Lowe’s would drive sport utility vehicles.

There was no other public comment, and the public hearing was closed. The Chairperson summarized the application, noting that it was a two-phase development. Phase I, which was before the Planning Commission at present, would include access and parking lot layout.

Reference was made to Section 82.800 regarding site plan review. The concerns of the Road Commission with regard to the access points on Drake Road were noted. Planning Commissioners agreed with the comment of the Road Commission that the north drive be closed upon signalization of the middle drive. Mr. Rakowski stated that he felt closing the north drive would allow for more orderly traffic flow out of West Century Center and improve "stacking" areas. The Planning Commissioners agreed that the carrying capacity of Drake Road and West Main would accommodate the traffic generated by the use of the site.

As to site circulation, there was discussion of a possible service drive north and south on the east side of the parking lot and "straightening" of the east/west drive from the middle access point to the west. There was discussion of the proposed access drives, and Ms. Stefforia stated that the spacing of the drives met Access Management Guidelines.

The Planning Commission again discussed the possibility of a pedestrian walkway at the site, and Ms. Stefforia stated that she felt it would not be appropriate to place a sidewalk on the interior of the parking lot, but felt that the Planning Commission could encourage a sidewalk along Drake Road.

The Chairperson stated that he believed that people would walk down the middle of the parking lot even if there was a sidewalk for them to walk on instead. Mr. Loy and Mr. Rakowski agreed. However, most Planning Commissioners felt that most people would drive from one portion of the site to another.

As to the building/structure location, the Chairperson stated that he was satisfied with the placement of Lowe’s and the theater on the site.

Mr. Rakowski noted that the proposed fencing around the outdoor display area was chain link. He was concerned since the Menards’ screening had been solid.

As to the landscaping between the theater and Lowe’s, it was felt that pedestrian walkways should be considered in this area.

Again, the Planning Commission discussed the fencing around the proposed sales area, with comments that the fencing should be solid or wood in nature.

Planning Commissioners felt that the applicant should present a full landscaping plan for interior landscaping in the parking areas for Township staff approval.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that, in her opinion, the access and interior parking lot layout should be reconfigured for review by the Planning Commission.

Ms. Rakowski reiterated his concern with an outdoor P.A. system, and stated that any approval should be consistent with the Menards’ approval, which would allow use of an outdoor speaker only in emergency circumstances.

The Chairperson asked for comments by the applicant.

The applicant stated that they would accept any condition with regard to outdoor use of a P.A. system. As to access and interior parking lot circulation, the applicant noted that Mike Kreps had met with the Road Commission, and the agreed-upon modifications included revisions to the middle drive to make it a three-lane curb cut to accommodate stacking.

The applicant stated that they would be agreeable to submitting a redesign of the parking lot layout including access points to Township staff for review and approval, or to the Planning Commission. As to the proposed walkway from the theater to Lowe’s, there was a six-foot elevation difference which would require stairs. However, the applicant was agreeable to establishing such a walkway if required.

With regard to the sales/display area, the area at the southwest corner of Lowe’s would be chain link fencing with lattice, and therefore, would be "opaque screening". The area would contain a display of step ladders, extension ladders and similar equipment. The display and storage of lumber would be inside the building. On the east side, the vinyl-clad chain link fence would enclose a garden area containing living plants and accessories. Lumber would not be stored in this area. Flipping the building was not an option.

Mr. Corakis had questions with regard to the height of the fencing, noting that on the north side, the fencing would be 12 feet and towards the back, the fencing would be 20 feet in height. It was noted that the elevations are shown on Drawing A-5 submitted by the applicant. The applicant indicated that the fence in the front and its height was to accommodate the height of the trees which would be located in the garden area, and that the fencing had been designed at a height consistent with the visual height of the building.

Mr. Heisig had questions with regard to the signage in the outdoor display areas, and it was noted that any signage would need to be directed to the interior of the display area and not to the adjacent roadway.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she was satisfied with the screening/fencing since it would enclose a garden center. However, she was somewhat concerned about the height of the fence. There was discussion of the fact that the height would need to accommodate a cover over the garden center similar to that of the Frank’s site. The height would accommodate trees within the garden center. As to the garden center area, it was agreed that no parking of garden equipment would be located outside the fenced area. There would be no merchandise outside of approved display areas.

Planning Commissioners made reference to Section 31.403 and concluded that the requirements were met.

Reference was made to Section 60.100, and the Planning Commission considered whether this proposed use was compatible with other uses expressly permitted in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The fact that retail uses are allowed in the "C-1" zone was noted. The Planning Commission concluded, since the bulk of the outdoor display would be for garden center materials, the use would consistent with other outdoor display areas approved for Menards and Meijer. The Planning Commission concluded that the use would be compatible with other uses allowed in the "C-1" District.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposed use would be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or the general public. Planning Commissioners felt satisfied that, if the access/interior site circulation were modified, the proposed use would not be detrimental or injurious. This conclusion was also based upon the provision of supplemented landscaping and conditioning of the use of the outdoor P.A. system to emergency circumstances only.

It was also felt that the proposed use would promote public health, safety and welfare in that the redevelopment would revitalize the commercial corner. Additionally, it was recognized that shared access between the Post Office and the site promoted public health, safety and welfare.

Planning Commissioners also concluded that the proposed use would encourage use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. The property had been developed commercially for over 30 years, and the redevelopment would revitalize that commercial use.

There was a discussion about the amount of parking that would be needed, with the applicant stating that the rule-of-thumb for this type of retail use would be five spaces per 1,000 square feet.

There was discussion about the outdoor display area, and Ms. Stefforia said that she had calculated that the size of the display area would be approximately 27,300 square feet.

Mr. Loy moved to approve the special exception use permit, noting that the application met the criteria of Section 60.100, with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That the access/interior circulation/parking lot layout be redesigned pursuant to the comments of the Planning Commission, and that a revised plan reflecting that redesign be submitted to the Planning Commission for review and approval.

(2) That as to the P.A. system, no outdoor speakers were approved for use, except in emergency circumstances.

(3) That outdoor display was approved only in those areas indicated on the plan.

Mr. Corakis seconded the motion.

The applicant asked for clarification, and it was noted that, with regard to the access/circulation pattern, the applicant could consider in its plan the closing of the north drive. This could include a proposal that the north drive be closed at such time as a traffic signal was added to the middle drive.

Mr. Jamieson stated that he felt that the redesign of the access and closing of the north drive should be done right now. He was also concerned about outdoor "storage". The Chairperson stated that the storage was not being approved, but merely outdoor display areas similar to those approved for Meijer and Menards.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Loy moved to approve the site plan for Phase I of the project with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That as to access/circulation pattern/parking lot layout, a revised plan consistent with the comments of the Planning Commission must be submitted to the Planning Commission for review and approval.

(2) That the enclosure of the outdoor display/sales area with up to a 20-foot high vinyl-coated chain link fence was approved as proposed.

(3) That a revised landscaping plan be submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(4) That lighting be established on site consistent with the variance granted, and that lighting details for the outdoor display area be submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(5) That approval was subject to the review, approval and conditions imposed by the Fire Department.

(6) That approval was subject to the review and a finding by the Township Engineer that the proposed site engineering was adequate. The approval was also subject to the conclusion of the Township Engineer that public utilities were satisfactory.

(7) That use of a P.A. system was approved with the condition that any outdoor speakers be used only in emergency circumstances.

(8) That each tenant at the site must complete and submit to the Township an Environmental Permit Checklist and Hazardous Substance Reporting form.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Heisig, and it carried unanimously.

REVIEW APPLICATION FOR TEXT AMENDMENT

The Planning Commission received an application for text amendment to allow residential/commercial storage buildings in the "I-R" Industrial District Restricted Zoning District. The applicant requested a text amendment to take language of Section 30.407 and include it within the "I-R" District. There was recognition of the fact that the industrial text would be considered for major revisions in the next quarter. The Township Attorney indicated that she felt that it would be appropriate to consider the proposed text amendment along with the overall industrial text revisions as long as the consideration does not result in an unreasonable delay for the applicant.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

Due to the lateness of the hour, a discussion of an outline for proposed text amendment regarding landscaping requirements as well as the outline for the proposed text amendment to the Industrial District would be delayed to another meeting. However, Ms. Bugge did provide a handout depicting parking lot landscaping.

OTHER BUSINESS

There was a discussion of the Township Board meeting and its consideration of the revision to the definition of dwelling. The Township Attorney described the Township Board discussion and noted that she would redraft, consistent with that discussion, for consideration of the Planning Commission. It was decided that this redraft of text would be considered at the meeting of January 13, 2000.

Ms. Bugge stated that Message Express had contacted the Township and indicated that it had been unable to find flexible steel for enclosure of the wiring at its site. It wanted to replace the flexible steel with PVC.

Since the flexible steel conduit was an integral part of the approval, it was determined that the applicant would need to reapply for an amendment to their approval.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:40 p.m.