OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

February 12, 1998

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Agenda

BUCKHAM HIGHLANDS RESIDENTIAL OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW

EMBERLY ACRES, L.L.C. - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - WEST OF 8TH STREET, NORTH OF STADIUM DRIVE

SETBACK STANDARDS - SECTION 64.000 -TEXT AMENDMENT

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A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, February 12, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Ted Corakis
Millard Loy
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Ken Heisig
Lara Meeuwse
Marvin Block

Members Absent: None

Also present were Rebecca Harvey (after 7:58 p.m.) and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and approximately twenty-eight (28) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m.

AGENDA

Mr. Loy moved to approve the agenda as submitted. Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

MINUTES

The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of January 22, 1998. After some discussion, Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

BUCKHAM HIGHLANDS RESIDENTIAL OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW

The next item was the application of Reg Shave and Clarence Martz, representing GEMS Associates, for conceptual plan review of a proposed open space community consisting of approximately 31 acres and proposed to include 40 total building sites. The subject property is situated within the 9th Street Focus Area, located on the east side of South 9th Street, approximately 2,600' south of West Main, and is within the "R-2" Residence District Zoning classification.

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

The Chairperson directed the Planning Commission's attention to Section 60.580 of the Zoning Ordinance and described the purpose of conceptual plan review with regard to open space communities.

Clarence Martz was present on behalf of the applicant. Mr. Martz stated that he had worked with Township planners for a number of months to develop this open space community proposal. He said that his company had developed the Quail Run project in the Township, which has sold well, and therefore they had sought out another property. They believed that the subject site was suited to residential development. He noted that municipal sewer and water are available to the site. He noted the trees in the northeast section of the property and the rolling topography. He believed that the 30 acres proposed for development would meet the Open Space Community goals and objectives; 46% of the property would be retained as open space. Walking trails were included within the open space areas. Only 16 of the 30 acres would be developed. The project would include only one access point onto 9th Street. The interior road would be public, curving through the project to the east property line. The two "cul-de-sac streets" would be private drives.

The project would include 40 duplexes and would be established pursuant to the site condominium development method. The applicant stated that they had worked with the County Road Commission and the Drain Commissioner with regard to redesign of the existing stormwater retention area/drain area. It was planned that this area would be elongated and redesigned to become more aesthetically pleasing and to handle the water runoff from this project.

The applicant believed that there would be little impact on the area with regard to the traffic generated from the project. Mr. Martz noted that the architect for the project was also present to answer questions.

Mr. Corakis inquired with regard to the location of the walking paths.

Ms. Meeuwse pointed out that the applicant should be aware of the need to keep retention basin shallow so that it would not be necessary to fence same. The applicant stated that he was aware of the Township Engineer's standards in this regard and was working with the Township Engineer to insure that the retention basin would not need to be fenced.

The Chairperson made reference to Section 60.520, noting that open space communities were primarily intended under current language for single-family use. Duplexes, however, are permitted.

The Planning Commission reviewed the criteria of Section 60.580. This section outlines conceptual plan review requirements. The requirements of subparts 1-3 had been met. With regard to subpart 4, it was noted that a general description of the existing soil conditions pursuant to the Kalamazoo County Soil Survey was required. This general description had not yet been received.

With regard to subpart 5, it was noted that the plan reflects the location of existing natural features on the site. However, the plan should be revised to identify slopes in excess of 8%.

As to subpart 8, the Chairperson noted that the plan did not include the dwelling unit density and building site dimensions; these should be noted.

The Planning Commission determined that the conceptual plan met subparts 9-13.

As to subpart 14, the plan should be revised to include typical building locations, layouts, and building elevations. Subpart 15 had been satisfied with the parallel plan which reflected that, if developed as a standard subdivision, 46 lots could be established.

A written analysis of the significant natural, cultural and geographic features of and near the site had not yet been provided pursuant to subpart 16. Additionally, a traffic impact analysis had not been provided pursuant to subpart 17.

The applicant queried whether the traffic analysis would need to be a "traffic study" performed by a traffic expert. The Township Attorney and Mr. West explained that a full traffic study was not necessary but that the applicant should submit information with regard to expected trip generation and impact on the adjacent road system.

As to subpart 18, project phasing had not been proposed. A completion schedule had not been provided.

It was further noted that, to satisfy the section, a general statement as to ownership and maintenance of open space area should be provided. It was not necessary that the actual master deed and bylaws be submitted but merely that a generalized statement on these issues be provided. Moreover, a narrative describing how the open space community is supported by the Master Land Use Plan, and the impact of the development on adjoining properties, had not yet been provided.

There was discussion of the internal road network and, in response to questioning by the Chairperson, the applicant indicated that they had had discussions with Kalamazoo County Road Commission, who had approved the proposed private roads which would extend from the planned public road.

The Chairperson questioned how the connecting easement would be built (i.e., at whose expense) for a future public road extension into the neighboring property. The Township Attorney stated that it was most probable that this would be at the expense of the future developers. The lot owners adjacent to the easement would not bear the expense.

There was discussion of the use of wood chips on the walking trails. The applicant stated that it was planned that wood chips would be used since these were the "most natural type of surface." The condominium association would maintain and upkeep this area. The Chairperson felt that the applicant should include this information in the general statement with regard to ownership and maintenance of open space areas.

Under Section 60.530, the Chairperson questioned the applicant as to those areas that seemed to be between lots 22 and 23 and 29 and 30. It was noted that these were "strips of open space."

Ms. Meeuwse stated that she would like to make sure that the applicant provided sufficient information as to topography, etc., so that the Planning Commission could determine that each proposed lot is buildable and was not, for example, too steep. She felt it was important to review these items in order to determine that variance would not be needed in order to build on the lots.

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to the proposed softball area. He felt the applicant should be more detailed as to how "developed" this area would be. Any bleachers, picnic tables, etc., associated with the softball area should be noted. Also, there should be further explanation of exactly what uses would be made of all open space areas. The use of these areas as approved by the Planning Commission would be provided for in the master deed and bylaws of the condominium. It was noted that the conceptual plan complied with Section 60.530 except with regard to items I and J, and it was noted that documentation sufficient to comply with these sections had not yet been provided. The Township Attorney noted that it was common that the formal master deed and bylaws, as well as the other documentation referenced, would be made a condition of approval and subjected to review by Township staff and Township Attorney.

As to Section 60.540, the proposed project satisfied subpart A in that it consists of 30.6 acres. However, the open space community is proposed to be entirely two-family residential dwellings. Subpart B of Section 60.540 would allow 20 building sites to be occupied by two-family dwellings. Therefore, a deviation from this standard would be required.

The Planning Commission was satisfied that subparts C-F were satisfied.

As to cluster design, the Chairperson urged the applicant to make minor modifications to the street layout and/or building placement so as to improve the open space design possibly to create terminal vistas through the use of "Y" intersections where the connection of internal streets increase green commons area.

Ms. Harvey arrived.

Further, minor modifications to the street layout and/or building site placement should be made to improve the design goal of avoiding a suburban subdivision appearance.

Subpart H was satisfied. As to subpart I, again it was noted that deviation from the formula of the Ordinance would be required to allow the entire development to consist of two-family residential dwellings. It was noted that, under the proposed amendments to the Open Space Community language, this section would allow, if amended, a development to consist entirely of two-family-dwelling units. If developed under a PUD provision, a maximum density of 3.3 units per acre would be allowed. A density of 2.6 units per acre was proposed.

As to subpart J, it was noted that this documentation had not been provided but could be provided as a condition of approval.

The Planning Commission next considered Section 60.550. There was discussion of

the stormwater retention system, and again Ms. Harvey noted that the existing basin used by the Road Commission would be reconfigured and redesigned for use by this proposed development. Ms. Harvey felt that the proposed reconfiguration should be designed in such a way as to maintain low-visual impact and preserve the open space/natural features of the area consistent with the Township's rural character. The applicant agreed that the basin would be redesigned so as not to require fencing and in such a way so as to create an aesthetically pleasing look.

As to street lighting, the applicant indicated that outdoor lighting was proposed, and the Planning Commission indicated that this should be denoted on the plan. Specifications with regard to the street lighting in compliance with Ordinance requirements should be submitted.

Planning Commission members stated that, in general, they felt that the project "looked good" and that, with the revisions specified to meet Planning Commission concerns articulated during the review, they would expect that the project would be approved.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and none was offered.

Mr. Loy moved to schedule public hearing on the item for March 12, 1998. This would include special exception use and site plan review of the open space community pursuant to Section 60.580 and site plan review of the site condominium development pursuant to Section 82.300 of the Zoning Ordinance.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Corakis and carried unanimously.

EMBERLY ACRES, L.L.C. - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - WEST OF 8TH STREET, NORTH OF STADIUM DRIVE

The next item was consideration of the application of Charles Hill, on behalf of Emberly Acres L.L.C., for special exception use permit/site plan review to allow for the development of three-family dwellings on approximately six acres located on the west side of 8th Street approximately 400' from the intersection of 8th Street with Stadium Drive. The property is situated in the "R-3" Residence District Zoning classification.

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

It was noted that Section 23.401 of the Ordinance allows three- and four-family dwelling units as a special exception use within the "R-3" zone.

Ms. Harvey stated that the proposed development did not comply with the Zoning Ordinance with regard to two provisions. First, under density limitations provided in the Ordinance, 22.8 units would be allowed and 24 units were proposed. Further, the design did not comply with the requirement of building separation of 40'; 20' was proposed. The applicant was aware that relief from these provisions would be needed from the Zoning Board of Appeals in the form of a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Therefore, if the Planning Commission determined that the proposal otherwise meets the criteria for approval, approval of the special exception use permit and site plan approval would be subject to compliance with Ordinance requirements.

There was a discussion of the fact that, if the Planning Commission felt that compliance with these Ordinance provisions was necessary in order for a special use permit to be appropriate, the applicant could still request variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals but would need to return to the Planning Commission in order to attempt to persuade the Planning Commission that this should not be a condition of special exception use approval. Otherwise, the special use permit would be ineffective if variances were granted.

The applicant was present and, in response to questioning by the Chairperson, stated that eight buildings were proposed. The applicant is proposing an internal road which would be built to public road standards and on a right-of-way. However, it was not proposed that this road be immediately accepted by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. Since this road would not be public at this time, the 40' setback from public road requirement within the Ordinance would not be strictly applicable to this private drive. However, the applicant had indicated that it was the applicant's intent to locate buildings at least 40' from the right-of-way line of this private drive. This was in view of the fact that it was planned that at some point in the future this drive might be accepted by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

The applicant indicated that a revised plan had been submitted to the Township which was amended to meet suggestions made by Township staff and Fire Department. He noted that the original intent of the owners of the property was to develop offices at the site. However, after market study, it was decided that residential development would be better suited to the area. The applicant felt that three-family units would be a logical transition use between the commercial zoning and use of property to the south and the single-family plat to the north. It was planned that these three-family units be developed as condominiums.

The applicant presented an architect's concept as to the appearance of the proposed condominium buildings. All buildings would be single story with a basement. Most would be two bedrooms with a bath or bath-and-a-half.

The applicant stated that they had attempted to design the project to keep as much open space as possible. Street lighting was planned for the project. It was noted that this should be shown on the plan.

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to whether there would be patios or overhangs. The applicant indicated that there would be patios at the back of each unit. Decks and porches were not planned. It was noted that the setbacks, as shown on the plan, were in compliance from the front, side and rear lines. However, since most were at the setback point, the Planning Commission expressed concern that the applicant understand that building setbacks would be measured from the property line to the nearest projection/leading edge of the building (for example, a cantilever roof overhang).

The applicant stated that the majority of trees at the site had been retained. Only scrub trees and underbrush had been removed. The applicant would be attempting to maintain as many of the existing trees as was possible. The applicant presented pictures of the site as it now appears. He stated that the only access to this site would be off 8th Street. The location of the entrance had been moved to meet Access Management Guidelines with regard to spacing as suggested in the Planning and Zoning Department report.

Rather than a dumpster, it was planned that residential herby-curbys for each unit would be utilized. However, the areas noted as "D" on the site plan would be paved for traffic turnaround.

The applicant was questioned by Ms. Meeuwse as to the retention of vegetation at the site. The applicant agreed that he would submit a landscape plan to staff showing the trees that would be retained. He stated that the project would include approximately 60% open space.

The applicant planned to install sidewalks, the exact location of which was not certain. One sidewalk would run east and west along the drive/street, and the other would run north and south along 8th Street.

In response to questioning by Ms. Meeuwse, the applicant indicated that the southerly edge of the proposed road would likely be near the existing driveway at the site.

The Chairperson sought public comment.

Lance Richert stated that he was a resident of the LaSalle Plat to the north of the proposed development. He referenced a letter submitted to the Township dated February 10, 1998, from the LaSalle Homeowners Association in opposition to the project. He expressed concern that the project did not meet density limitations of the Ordinance and did not meet requirements with regard to spacing between buildings. He felt that the proposed project would be aesthetically displeasing and would lead to "congestion." Further, he was concerned that the project would reduce his property's value. He felt that the Planning Commission should require screening between the proposed development and the plat. When questioned by the Chairperson as to what would be negative regarding the appearance of the proposed development, the speaker stated that a change from the current natural state (trees, etc.) to buildings would be "obtrusive."

Ray Smiley, a resident of the plat, stated concern that, when he had purchased his home in the plat, he was seeking to live in a single-family area. He was concerned that the setbacks between the buildings and the retention basin and the property lines of 50' would not be sufficient. Ms. Harvey explained that the standard setback was 10' but, because the "R-3"-zoned property abutted "R-2" property, a supplemental setback to 50' was required. This standard was established in the early 1980's.

Kathleen Gibbons noted that she understood that, if this type of project were not developed, offices could be developed at the site. The Chairperson confirmed that small-scale offices were allowed in the "R-3" zone. Ms. Gibbons stated that she was a member of the Homeowners Association and did not object to the planned development. The Chairperson noted receipt of her February 10, 1998, letter.

William Eernisse, a resident of the LaSalle Plat, wondered whether the proposed road would be connected to a development to the west. Mr. Hill stated that the applicant did not own the property to the west; this property was owned by the City of Kalamazoo and was the site of a water tower. Therefore, it was not planned that any development take place to the west at this time. Mr. Eernisse was concerned that the subject property slopes to the north towards the plat and that water runoff from this development would be a problem for the LaSalle Plat. He felt that the Township should assure that the LaSalle Plat would not be negatively impacted by water runoff.

Diane Rathburn noted that she had trouble turning from 8th Street onto Stadium with existing traffic. She did not feel that any more traffic on 8th Street was needed.

Laura Shaver was concerned that children moving into the project would exacerbate an already overcrowded school. Sheila Coppinger also noted that it did not appear that a new school would be built any time soon.

Jeff Coppinger noted his concern with regard to water runoff. He stated that currently the LaSalle Plat has problems with drainage and was concerned that this project would increase that problem.

Rick Oewelen felt the Planning Commission should take note of the fact that its primary objective was to protect existing property values. He felt that construction of a high-density apartment-like project would have a negative impact on the neighboring area.

Herman Bloch was also concerned about water retention. He stated that five floods within the last three years had been experienced at the plat.

Ms. Harvey noted, in response, that the Zoning Ordinance requires that each new project retain water runoff on site. The applicant would be required to present engineering plans for review by the Township Engineer. Further, inspections were made as the retention area is built.

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

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to the connection to the west line, and the applicant stated that initially this would include a turnaround to Fire Department standards. The Chairperson felt that this should be reflected on the plan.

There was discussion of whether all buildings were 40' from the interior road, and Ms. Harvey noted that only building B in Phase VI was less than 40' from the right-of-way. The applicant noted that this would be revised.

Again there was discussion of the measurement of building setbacks, noting that the setback is not measured to the basement wall but to the leading edge of the building. The applicant stated that he understood the measurement would be made to the leading edge.

The Planning Commission reviewed the criteria of Section 60.100. The Planning Commission considered whether the proposed use would be compatible with other uses expressly permitted within the "R-3" District. It was noted that the "R-3" District had been designed to function as a transitional zoning classification so as to permit residential development together with other facilities that do not generate large volumes of traffic, traffic congestion and parking problems. Planning Commission members felt that the three-family-dwelling residential use would be compatible with the intent and purpose of the "R-3" zone. It would serve the goal of transition. It was felt that this residential use would be compatible with other residential use. It was felt that offices might have a greater impact than three-family dwellings.

The Planning Commission next considered whether the proposed use would be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or the general neighborhood. There was discussion of the density of this site, and it was noted that this project is bounded by an 86-lot single-family residential plat along the north boundary. Commercially zoned property occupied by the City of Kalamazoo water tower and office and retail buildings abuts the subject site to the west and south.

After further discussion, Planning Commission members noted that there was nothing in the proposed development which would be injurious to adjoining properties. The applicant's attempts to maintain topography and retain as much vegetation at the site as possible would render the residential use consistent with the residential appearance of the plat. However, the Chairperson was concerned that the density exceeded that allowed by the Ordinance. He felt that the density should be limited to what was allowed in the Ordinance.

Ms. Meeuwse agreed, stating she felt that compliance was important to enhance the compatibility. She also felt that, to assure that the project was not detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties, the applicant should enhance existing vegetation along the north property line with evergreen trees. Mr. Corakis and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell agreed. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she would like to see the applicant present a landscape plan which showed existing trees and those which would be added for "fill."

There was discussion of the fact that the applicant planned to establish patios at the back of the dwelling units. These patios would be within the setback in that setback provisions were not applicable thereto. Setbacks were applicable to decks and porches, if established. He felt that additional screening would make the proposed project even more compatible with neighboring use.

Mr. Heisig expressed that he, too, was concerned about density. He would be satisfied that the project complies with special exception use criteria if it met density limitations. Mr. Corakis agreed.

The Planning Commission next discussed whether the proposed use would promote the public health, safety and welfare. It was noted that the access point had been revised to comply with the Access Management Guidelines. Again there was discussion of the concern that, given the fact that many of the setbacks were at the point of compliance with no room to spare, there was concern that the buildings actually be established in compliance with setback requirements.

Ms. Meeuwse also felt it was important that the applicant was proposing the setback of buildings 40' from the right-of-way. She felt that this would be consistent with a residential appearance in view of the fact that this interior road would probably be public at some point. Additionally, it was felt that the proposal of sidewalks would promote public health, safety and welfare and be in keeping with the Village Focus Area Plan. With regard to building separation, it was felt that the applicant would need to come into compliance with this requirement in order to meet health, safety and welfare interests.

The outdoor lighting proposed would promote public health, safety and welfare as well. Additionally, it was noted that municipal water and sewer were proposed to serve the subject site in keeping with public health, safety and welfare.

There was some concern with regard to stormwater retention, and it was felt that it should be carefully considered by the Township Engineer.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposed use would encourage the use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. It was felt that on this factor only the issues of density and building separation were a problem.

The Planning Commission considered the requirements of Section 82.800. Again it was noted that the access point would be built to Kalamazoo County Road Commission standards and that spacing had been revised to meet the requirements of the Access Management Guidelines.

After further discussion, Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve special exception use permit conditioned upon a plan of development which was revised to meet the density, setback and building separation requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. The revised plan must be submitted to Township staff for review and approval. Ms. Meeuwse reasoned that, if the plan were revised to meet these limitations/requirements of the Ordinance, the project would meet the criteria of Section 60.100. Reference was made to the Planning Commission discussion.

Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve site plan for the proposed project with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That it was noted that the project would be served by one two-way access point, which had been designed as a private interior drive but which would be constructed pursuant to Kalamazoo County Road Commission standards on a right-of-way. The site plan should be revised to reflect a turnaround at the west end of the interior drive.

(2) That parking had been proposed in compliance with Ordinance standards of 10' x 20' and was in compliance with regard to the number proposed. Additionally, barrier-free parking must be established pursuant to the ADA and Michigan Barrier-Free Guidelines and be designated by signage and pavement logo.

(3) That site plan of design must be revised so as to come into compliance with the density limitations of the Ordinance.

(4) That the site plan must be revised to meet building separation and setbacks of the Ordinance. Again, it was noted that the building setbacks are measured from the property line to the nearest projection/leading edge on the building and not to the basement wall.

(5) That a setback of 40' from the right-of-way from the interior access drive was required as proposed by the applicant.

(6) That residential herby-curbys serve the project rather than dumpsters.

(7) That outdoor lighting be provided as proposed by the applicant in compliance with the standards set forth in the Ordinance Section 78.700 and that an outdoor lighting proposal be submitted and detailed to the Township staff for review and approval.

(8) That all signage comply with Section 76.115 and/or 76.146 of the Zoning Ordinance and be reviewed and approved through the permit process.

(9) That existing vegetation be retained as far as is practicable, particularly along the north boundary. The north boundary must be supplemented with evergreens to provide a visual buffering. A detailed landscape plan, which includes retention of natural wooded areas, the supplemental vegetation proposed by the applicant and interior development landscaping, must be prepared and submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(10) That approval is subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department.

(11) That approval is subject to the review and approval of the Township Engineer, with particular attention to stormwater retention and the adequacy of same to assure no negative impact on the LaSalle Plat.

(12) That the phasing proposed by the applicant was approved.

(13) That a revised plan showing the changes required by approval be submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(14) That the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for the proposed development is contingent on final inspections/approvals from the Building, Mechanical, Electrical, Fire and Planning and Zoning Departments to insure compliance with all applicable standards, conditions and regulations.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Loy.

 

In public comments, again concerns with the retention basin were expressed. Ms. Meeuwse noted she felt it would be important for the Township Engineer to obtain a copy of the minutes.

 

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

 

SETBACK STANDARDS - SECTION 64.000 -TEXT AMENDMENT

 

It was noted that, due to the lateness of the hour, this item would be considered at the meeting of March 12, 1998.

OTHER BUSINESS

The next item was consideration for an agenda item of the proposed rezoning of approximately 3.5 acres located on the west side of South 11th Street adjacent to the east of Park Village Pines (north of Crystal Lane) from the "R-2" to the "R-4" District Zoning classification. The Master Land Use Plan shows that this area is generally multiple-family, and the plan supports protecting existing residential development.

After some discussion, Ms. Meeuwse moved to schedule public hearing on the item (which would not be expanded to consider any other property or zones) for March 26, 1998. Mr. Heisig seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 11:05 p.m.