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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

February 8, 2001

Agenda

SEPARATION BETWEEN BUILDINGS ON SAME PROPERTY - TEXT AMENDMENT

HOUSEKEEPING TEXT CHANGES

TREE PRESERVATION - DISCUSSION ITEM

MAPLE HILL DRIVE SOUTH FOCUS AREA - DISCUSSION ITEM

AGRICULTURAL-RURAL ZONING DISTRICT AND RURAL-RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT - WORK ITEM

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, February 8, 2001, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil Sikora, Chairperson
James Turcott
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell (after 7:15 p.m.)
Deborah Everett
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Ted Corakis

MEMBER ABSENT: Stanley Rakowski

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and no other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

Ms. Bugge suggested adding a housekeeping text amendment following discussion of the work item concerning separation of buildings on the same property. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES

The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of January 25, 2001. Ms. Garland-Rike moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Ms. Everett seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

SEPARATION BETWEEN BUILDINGS ON SAME PROPERTY - TEXT AMENDMENT

The Planning Commission reviewed Draft #1 of a proposed amendment to Section 66.201 of the Zoning Ordinance regarding the minimum separation requirement between buildings on the same property. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reviewed her Report concerning the proposed revision to Section 66.201. The revision would allow a 20-foot separation between residential buildings containing four dwelling units or less when located on the same parcel, lot or building site. It was suggested that Section 66.201 be amended to read:

"No building permit shall be issued therefore, and no buildings constructed, placed, or moved upon any parcel, lot, or building site less than the area and frontage requirements as specified in this Section; nor where such building would be located within 40 feet, and with respect to residential buildings of four dwelling units or less within 20 feet, of any other building located on said parcel, lot, or building site (except buildings accessory thereto); nor where the same would be located upon a parcel, lot, or building site of land having a depth of greater than four times the width of said parcel.

All parcels must have the frontage specified in this Section on a dedicated public road or street.

All lots or building sites must be situated on a public road or street with the width at building setback line as specified in this Section."

Ms. Garland-Rike stated that the proposed language seemed to express the Planning Commission's suggested revision discussed at the previous meeting. Planning Commission members concurred that the matter should be set for public hearing.

Mr. Corakis moved to schedule the proposed text amendment for a public hearing on March 8, 2001. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

HOUSEKEEPING TEXT CHANGES

The Planning Commission considered certain "housekeeping" corrections to the Zoning Ordinance. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell entered the meeting.

Ms. Bugge suggested changes to Section 60.500 open space community, to correct the reference in Section 60.550(B) to "off-street" to "off-site". Further, it was pointed out that the Section in subpart B should include the words "and dedicated" as a public road. Further, a sentence erroneously repeated in subpart C should be deleted.

In addition, Ms. Bugge suggested that the provisions of Section 78.800 concerning open space requirement for multi-family dwellings be moved to Section 24.207 as item (f), in that Section 24.207 lists the conditions and limitations applying to multi-family dwellings.

Mr. Corakis moved to schedule the text changes for a public hearing on March 8, 2001. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

TREE PRESERVATION - DISCUSSION ITEM

The Planning Commission discussed possible Ordinance revisions concerning tree preservation. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Bugge noted that the current landscaping section of the Ordinance provides primarily for the establishment of landscaped green space along the perimeter of the sites and in parking areas. It was recognized that at the meeting of January 25, 2001, Ms. Heiny-Cogswell had expressed her concern over the impending loss of large oak trees on a developing site and the need for the Township to have a means of preserving such trees. Since these trees were not on the perimeter of the site, the current landscaping provisions did not encourage their preservation. At that meeting, Ms. Stefforia had responded by suggesting that perhaps a separate tree preservation ordinance might best address the concerns regarding tree preservation.

Ms. Bugge stated that the Planning and Zoning Department was seeking direction from the Planning Commission. Ms. Stefforia suggested, moreover, that the Planning Commission should determine whether an item on the work plan for the next six months should be replaced with the tree preservation issue.

The Chairperson indicated that he would like to explore the issue of tree preservation but realized that there are some potential pitfalls. He made reference to the Master Land Use Plan and its discussion of woodlands. He noted that the Planning Commission had tried to address this portion of the Master Plan with its landscaping provisions, but there are some gaps.

Ms. Everett noted that the Master Land Use Plan seeks to prohibit the clear-cutting of woodlands. She wondered what the definition of woodlands is. Moreover, how could the Township protect against clear-cutting? Ms. Bugge pointed out that the Master Land Use Plan balances the reference to prohibiting the clear-cutting of woodlands with the discussion of allowing reasonable development of land.

Mr. Corakis commented that he believes that most developers today would attempt to preserve the quality trees on their site because of the increase in property value attendant to trees.

There was discussion of the possibility of amending the Zoning Ordinance to require identification of existing trees of a certain size on the site plan. Ms. Everett wondered if this requirement would lead to clear-cutting of a site prior to application. Ms. Bugge stated that some ordinances require a certain measure of trees per acre and wondered whether the Planning Commission would consider such a proposal. This may cause a monitoring and enforcement problem.

Mr. Corakis discussed the problem of damage of trees during construction. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell felt it was important to educate builders about this problem.

Mr. Turcott suggested contacting the MSU Extension Service which could possibly be of help to the Township.

Ms. Stefforia felt that the issue of tree preservation should be discussed with the Township Board members at the joint meeting in order to obtain input. The Chairperson agreed, stating, however, that he would like to have enough time to discuss the matter with the Planning Commissioners again after additional information was gathered. Therefore, it would be appropriate to wait until after a future joint meeting.

There was discussion of the item of protecting specimen trees. The Chairperson suggested that the goal should be to protect quality trees, not just old or large trees. Ms. Everett agreed with Ms. Heiny-Cogswell that preservation of woodland habitat should be encouraged and emphasized.

Ms. Garland-Rike suggested that preservation of a rural character through trees should be encouraged. She noted the effect of canopy trees along a roadway.

Ms. Bugge stated that she would provide information regarding how other communities handle tree preservation and their requirements in site plan review concerning this issue.

MAPLE HILL DRIVE SOUTH FOCUS AREA - DISCUSSION ITEM

The Planning Commission discussed the Maple Hill Drive South Focus Area. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia noted that there had been extensive changes in the area since the Maple Hill Drive South Focus Area development plan was created. Ms. Stefforia made reference to the overhead transparency which depicted the area.

As one of the goals of the area, the plan was to revitalize the West Main/Drake Road commercial core. It was suggested that a conference center/hotel and exhibition hall be encouraged in this area. In that the West Main Mall area had been revitalized through the redevelopment of the Mall, it appeared unlikely that a convention center would be probable in this area. However, the area had been revitalized.

Ms. Everett discussed the future of the golf course. There was also a discussion of the property zoned to the south of the golf course, "R-4", and concern was expressed about the development of multiple-family dwellings on this property given the possible traffic impact on Skyridge and Green Meadow. There was a discussion of the possibility of rezoning this area to the "R-2" zoning district.

The Chairperson noted that a committee should be formed from residents and business owners in the community and with members of the Planning Commission to study the area. Ms. Stefforia indicated she would contact possible members.

AGRICULTURAL-RURAL ZONING DISTRICT AND RURAL-RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT - WORK ITEM

The Planning Commission discussed as a work item the current provisions of the Agricultural-Rural Zoning District and the possibility of creating a Rural-Residential District. Ms. Stefforia exhibited a transparency showing all parcels in the Township of ten acres or larger zoned in the "AG" District. Ms. Stefforia also provided a map depicting the agricultural parcels classified as agricultural for tax assessment purposes.

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

Ms. Stefforia noted that there were further properties, other than those classified as agricultural for tax purposes, that are actually being farmed. There was a discussion of a need to rezone properties even though used for agricultural purposes, to rural-residential where the agricultural operation was abutting a plat or other densely-populated area.

The Planning Commission reviewed Draft 1 of the proposed Agricultural District, and the Township Attorney noted that the Right To Farm Act would limit the ability of the Township to effectively differentiate between farming operations. The Township Attorney opined that certain types of operations could not be made special exception uses. It was suggested that farm operations as defined in the Right To Farm Act be allowed as permitted uses so long as they comply with GAMPS. Other possible ways of interpreting the Right To Farm Act were discussed.

Reference was made to a possible Statement of Purpose and language identified in Section 20 of the current Ordinance and in the Master Land Use Plan which might be incorporated into a Statement of Purpose for the Agricultural District.

Ms. Stefforia indicated that she would create Draft #2 and bring the items back to the Planning Commission at a future meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS

Planning Commissioners were reminded of the joint meeting scheduled for February 20, 2001.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Mr. Corakis suggested that he would like the Planning Commission to review frontage requirements. The Township Attorney suggested that frontage requirements be considered in conjunction with Access Management Guidelines. Ms. Stefforia indicated that, in her opinion, the frontage requirements would be discussed when dimensional standards were considered regarding the Rural-Residential District.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:

Minutes prepared:
February 12, 2001

Minutes approved:
, 2001