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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

February 24, 2000

STADIUM DRIVE REZONING REQUEST - PUBLIC HEARING - LAND SECTIONS 34 & 35

JIM RUSSELL - OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-21-380-021 AND 21-355-024).

DOMINION GROUP - OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW - (PARCEL NO. 3905-03-480-024).

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, February 24, 2000, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT:
Wilfred Dennie, Chairman
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Ted Corakis
Ken Heisig
Neil Sikora
Marvin Block

MEMBERS ABSENT:
Stanley Rakowski

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and approximately 15 other persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

It was noted that the applicant had requested that Item 5, concerning a special exception use permit for Maple Hill Mall, be tabled. Mr. Block moved to approve the Agenda as revised and to table the Maple Hill Mall special exception use application to the meeting of March 23, 2000. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES

The Planning Commission discussed the minutes of the meeting of February 10, 2000. Mr. Heisig moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Sikora seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

STADIUM DRIVE REZONING REQUEST - PUBLIC HEARING - LAND SECTIONS 34 & 35

The Planning Commission commenced the public hearing on a rezoning request by several property owners, represented by Charles Hill, which request the Planning Commission had expanded to encompass 12 parcels located in Sections 34 and 35 on the south side of Stadium Drive. The applicants have requested that the rear of their properties to the AT&T right-of-way be rezoned from the "AG" Agricultural-Rural to the "C" Local Business District Zoning classification. The front of these parcels is already located in the "C" District. The parcel numbers are as follows: 3905-35-115-010, 020, 050, 066, 070, 35-135-090, 35-115-031, 34-280-032, 34-280-011, 016, 34-281-010, and 34-280-040.

Mr. Corakis indicated that he owns property close to the area being proposed for rezoning. However, he did not believe that he would benefit financially and felt that he could be independent in his deliberations. The Township Attorney, therefore, opined that there was no need for Mr. Corakis to abstain.

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

Ms. Stefforia explained that the applicant represents 8 of the 12 properties identified. The Planning Commission had expanded the area under consideration to include the remaining parcels in Section 35 with split zoning, as well as one parcel on the west side of Chime Street that is surrounded by "C" zoned properties.

She noted that 7 of the 12 properties are located within the Village Focus Area. She reported that a committee, consisting of planning commissioners, local business owners and residents of the Village Focus Area, had drafted a new zoning district text to be called "VC" Village Commercial, which would pertain to Commercial development in the Focus Area. An outline of the proposed text would be presented to the Planning Commission at the meeting of March 9, 2000.

Ms. Stefforia reported that the remainder of the properties were "Rural Residential" under the Master Land Use Plan. Given the designation of most of the properties as Village Focus Area and the remainder as Rural Residential, an amendment to the Master Land Use Plan would be required for the rezoning to occur. Ms. Stefforia stated that approximately 100 acres of Commercial property would be located in this area if the rezoning were approved. She was concerned that there would be little control over the establishment of an internal street network. Further, 60 more acres would likely lead to large scale Commercial development, which was contrary to the intent of the Village Focus Area Plan.

In response to questioning by Mr. Heisig, Ms. Stefforia stated that 25 percent of the Commercial property, as zoned within the Township, is vacant. This number did not include Maple Hill or West Main Mall. She stated that the Master Land Use Plan discusses, as an objective, limiting expansion of Commercial zoning, because of its detrimental effect on existing Commercial zoning.

Mr. Hill was present representing the applicants, and he stated that, from his examination of the history of the area, rezoning would be appropriate. He reminded the Planning Commission that the Zoning Board, in 1989, had approved a conceptual plan for Stadium Drive's corridor.

In 1991, the Zoning Board had looked at the area and approved a "general plan" encompassing the land in question. At that time, the Zoning Board had discussed the need for an internal road system, and noted that expansion of Commercial zoning to the south would allow for more control of the area and make an internal street network more likely. Mr. Hill stated that it had, at that time, been felt by the Zoning Board that expansion of the Commercial property to the south, to the AT&T right-of-way would eliminate the possibility of a strip Commercial pattern developing in the area, increase setbacks permitted, allow for internal roads, allow for use of back portions of the property not as incompatible with the front portions.

He stated that, in 1997, the area had again been discussed, and the Planning Commission referred to the 1991 General Zoning Plan. He stated that, in 1998, the Planning Commission had again referred to the Corridor Development Plan and the concept of adding depth to eliminate the possibility of strip development.

In his opinion, the rezoning would not be contrary to the Village Focus Area Plan. He felt that there were design criteria in the Access Management Plan and Guidelines which would allow for control of design.

He was concerned about the slow progress on the Village Focus Area text, and did not want to see the possible development of this area "held up" by the lack of progress on the text.

The Chairperson inquired whether the applicant would be agreeable to tabling the rezoning request for a period of four to six months, given the impending receipt of the Village Commercial text. The Chairperson stated that he felt that the Planning Commission could more accurately and appropriately consider the rezoning request after receipt of the Village Commercial text.

There was a discussion of the possibility of PUD in this area, and Mr. Hill noted that there was no plan at present to establish a PUD, but the PUD possibilities had been mentioned because PUD development was a possibility in the "C" but not in the "AG" District.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Richard Miller, a resident of 7th Street who owns property along the AT&T right-of-way, was concerned about the use of the right-of-way for a road. The Chairperson indicated that there is no current plan to use the right-of-way for a road system.

Laura Ware Raher, a Stadium Drive resident, stated that she was concerned about rezoning to the Commercial District but agreed that the back portion of the parcels should not remain agriculturally zoned.

Ms. Stefforia reported that, at present, the 40 acres zoned "C" represents five percent of the Commercial zoning in the Township. Adding 60 more acres would represent 14 percent of the property zoned "C".

Mr. Heisig stated that he would agree that tabling the item, pending receipt of the Village text, would be appropriate, but was sympathetic to the property owners concerned that they did not wish to wait an unreasonable amount of time for finalization of their plans.

After consultation with the owners, Mr. Hill stated that they would be agreeable to tabling the item for 60 days to see what progress had been made on the Village Commercial text.

Mr. Block moved to table the item to the meeting of May 11, 2000, and Mr. Heisig seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

JIM RUSSELL - OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-21-380-021 AND 21-355-024).

The Planning Commission considered conceptual plan review of a proposed 46 unit open space community site condominium project to be located on 50 acres on the east side of South 4th Street, south of KL Avenue. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. The Chairperson pointed out that the conceptual plan review allowed for an informal discussion and review, which would provide input on the proposed plan to the developer.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that the open space site condominium project would be located in an "AG" Agricultural-Rural Zoning District classification. Some changes were proposed by the applicant, in that the development would consist of 43 acres; the north parcel containing proposed duplex development, encompassing 7.6 acres, had been eliminated. It was now proposed that the development consist of 39 single family residences/units. The topography of the property was steep in some places, and there were areas of dense trees. A 25-foot buffer or strip of open space is proposed around the perimeter of the site. There would be a single access point on 4th Street. The main east/west road would be public, with three private cul-de-sac roads extending therefrom. It was proposed that the project be established in two phases; Phase I would encompass 19 single family homes and Phase II would encompass 20 single family homes. Forty percent of the property was proposed to be open space, i.e., 13 acres. The project would be served by municipal water, and septic systems would be located on each site. Each site was required to be 15,000 square feet by the Zoning Ordinance. However, the Health Department may require more square footage based upon soil type. Some change in the proposed number of sites may occur once the site is evaluated for the septic systems.

The Chairperson questioned the easement located on the north side of the property. The easement stretches along the property boundary from 4th Street to a landlocked parcel, and is owned in part by the Township and intended for access. The easement had been included in the calculation of the open space.

Rick Eshlaman of Wightman Ward was present on behalf of the applicant. In response to a question by the Chairperson, Mr. Eshlaman stated that the topography is steep in some places. There would be approximately 2,700 lineal feet of public road.

James Russell, the owner, stated that the open space development concept would preserve many of the 50-year-old pine trees at the site. Mr. Eshlaman stated that the public road system had been designed to reduce the need for excavation of existing topography. It was stated that, if a traditional subdivision were created, the site could accommodate approximately 70 lots, but there would be a need of a great deal of excavation.

The Chairperson asked about the elimination of the duplex homes, and Mr. Russell stated that the cost of the project had been an issue.

Ms. Stefforia asked about the use of the 25-foot wide strip around the perimeter, and the applicant responded that these areas would be used for walking trails and/or kept in a natural state.

Mr. Block commented that the cul-de-sacs would have to meet Fire Department requirements. He was also concerned that provision be made in the Master Deed for snow removal and other maintenance of the private cul-de-sacs.

The applicant stated that the public road and private road design had received favorable feedback from the Road Commission. The cul-de-sac, which was a part of the public road system, would abut the east line of the property and accommodate access to interior land in the future.

Mr. Corakis asked about the use of the open space on the west side, in front of the project, and the applicant responded that they had not yet decided on the type of recreation which would be permitted in this area.

The Chairperson stated that he recognized that the topography made development of this area difficult, and appreciated the applicant's attempts to work with the natural topography of the area. He stated that it was also appreciated that the applicant was seeking to retain mature trees. The Chairperson also felt that, given the lineal nature of the property, clustering and street design options were limited.

The Chairperson summarized that the Planning Commission was generally in favor of the proposed project and concept, and there were no significant problems.

Ms. Bugge noted that, with regard to density, there were approximately 1.1 units per acre, almost equivalent to density allowed in unplatted areas.

The Chairperson commented that he would like to hear more about the use of open space, and noted that a street lighting plan should be provided. It was also noted that the access easement should either be relocated or otherwise not used in the calculation of open space.

Mr. Corakis asked about the possibility of sidewalks, and the applicant responded that they did not wish to establish sidewalks because they wanted to keep the area as natural as possible.

DOMINION GROUP - OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW - (PARCEL NO. 3905-03-480-024).

The Planning Commission next discussed conceptual plan review of a proposed 88 dwelling open space community site condominium project on 60 acres at the north side of West H Avenue, west of 9th Street. The project would consist of 71 single family and 17 duplex dwellings. The project was proposed to be located in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural Zoning District classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge noted that the project was planned for three phases. Twenty-four acres, which was 40 percent of the property, would be retained as open space, containing walking trails, a sand-filter community septic system and retention basin. There would be a single vehicular access to H Avenue and a looped road. The looped road would be public with private cul-de-sac off-shoots. There were possible connections of the public road to the northwest and east .

It was proposed that this site be served by municipal water and a community septic system. The lots had been dimensioned to meet public sewer and water requirements, and therefore, the project was dependent upon approval of the community septic system by the MDEQ and the Township.

Brandi Dever, Vice President of Dominion Group, was present on behalf of the applicant. She stated that the applicant was also represented by Harry Wierenga, who presented a parallel plan indicating the possibility of 115 units if the property were developed with a standard subdivision.

Mr. Wierenga discussed the revisions made to the plan, illustrating the phase lines. He indicated that Phase I would contain the first portion of the public roadway, the sand-filter system and the retention basin. He noted that each cul-de-sac would provide access to the open space. He indicated the areas in excess of eight percent slope, and stated that these areas would be preserved. Phase II would contain the community center.

Mr. Block had questions with regard to whether the buyers of the project would be limited to use of certain floor plans. Ms. Dever indicated that they would offer floor plans for the convenience of customers, but would also accommodate special designs with regard to the single family homes. However, the duplex designs would not be as flexible. The price range would be in the area of $130,000 for a duplex and $150,000 for a single family home.

It was pointed out that if tennis courts, a swimming pool or other recreational features were to be included in the project, they should be included on the plan.

Mr. Corakis questioned whether the applicant could establish a walking trail between Lots 57, 58, 21 and 22 to extend to the west property line.

There was a discussion of the clustering, and Mr. Block stated that he was satisfied with the design of the project, indicating that he felt each cul-de-sac represented a cluster or group. The Chairperson also expressed his satisfaction, stating that he felt the single loading on one side of the road, across from the storm water and community septic areas was advantageous. He was also pleased that the applicant had retained the existing topography to a great extent, and felt that this topography would help to identify clusters or groups of units.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented that the objective of clustering was to facilitate a sense of community. She felt that, given the design of the project, i.e., its road system and accommodation of natural topography, a sense of community was provided at this site. She felt that the project was not traditional in its clustering, but felt that it worked well on the basis of the overall design, which included walking trails, etc.

The Chairperson commented that the applicant should seek review of the community septic system prior to returning to the Planning Commission with a final plan. He suggested that the applicant adhere to the comments contained in the Staff Report.

Mr. Sikora had questions with regard to the property that the project was surrounding, and it was noted that this property contains a single family home. Mr. Sikora expressed his concern about establishment of private roads and cul-de-sacs.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Mr. Sikora reported that he had visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and recommended the exhibit he had attended on architecture.

The Chairperson noted that he had received a complimentary card from a 10th Street resident.

The Chairperson also commented that, with regard to open space communities, he felt that it was useful to obtain a parallel plan which allowed the Planning Commission to evaluate the benefits of an open space community verses traditional subdivision for a particular property. He was also pleased that the conceptual plans for the open space communities reviewed that night had contained possible connections to adjacent properties.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

 

Minutes prepared:

February 28, 2000