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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

January 13, 2000

 

WEST MAIN 2000 - LOWE’S - REVIEW OF REVISED PARKING LOT/SITE CIRCULATION/ACCESS LAYOUT - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-035)

DWELLING - TEXT AMENDMENT

INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT PROVISIONS: DRAFT #1 - TEXT AMENDMENT

LANDSCAPING PROVISIONS - DRAFT #1 - TEXT AMENDMENT

VILLAGE FOCUS AREA - SOUTH SIDE OF STADIUM DRIVE - PROPOSED REZONING

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, January 13, 2000, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:
None

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

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

Mr. Corakis moved to approve the Agenda as submitted, and Mr. Block seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES

The Planning Commission discussed the minutes of the meeting of December 9, 1999. Mr. Sikora suggested a change in the spelling of the word "complement". Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Heisig seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Next, the Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of December 16, 1999. Mr. Sikora suggested a change to the spelling of the word "hamm" to include only one "m". Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Mr. Corakis nominated Wilfred Dennie to be re-elected Chairperson, Ken Heisig as Vice Chairperson and Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell as Secretary. Mr. Block seconded the nominations. Upon a vote, the officers were elected unanimously.

1999 ANNUAL REPORT

The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department regarding the Planning Commission’s activities for 1999 is incorporated herein by reference. The Chairperson indicated that it was his goal to continue to move items along so as to accomplish the Planning Commission’s work plan.

WEST MAIN 2000 - LOWE’S - REVIEW OF REVISED PARKING LOT/SITE CIRCULATION/ACCESS LAYOUT (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-035)

The Planning Commission next considered the revised site layout plan regarding internal circulation and access issues concerning the West Main 2000 commercial development to be located at the southwest corner of Drake Road and West Main Street. Approval for Phase I of the development, including a new Lowe’s store and 7-screen movie theater, was granted for the site on December 9, 1999. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The Chairperson noted the motion for approval contained in the December 9, 1999, minutes. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia highlighted the changes which had been made from the earlier version of the plan. The main north/south service drive along the east side was wider and more defined, which resulted in three fewer full-length aisles of parking in front of Lowe’s. These aisles were replaced with two shortened aisles to allow for a landscaped area, to direct traffic and define the routes. The north/south aisle in front of the future buildings extending to Lowe’s building was made wider. There was indication that, in the future, the access to the West Century Plaza property would be closed and possibly re-established further west. An island and stop signs would be added as part of the connection to the Post Office property. A connection to the Shell Gas Station property was indicated on the plan. With regard to the access points, the middle Drake Road entrance was wider, allowing for three lanes (two exit and one entry) and future signalization. As to the middle Drake Road entrance, it connects to the service drive and provides for a more defined access to the future commercial buildings. In addition, the northern Drake Road entrance was changed from a full movement to a right in/right out access point, with an indication that it may be closed in the future.

Mr. Rakowski had questions with regard to, the potential closure of the northern drive. Ms. Stefforia stated that the developer had indicated during a discussion with the Road Commission that this access point could be closed in the future when a traffic signal was established for the middle drive.

Mr. Corakis stated that he felt that the access between this property and the West Century Plaza property should be maintained. The Chairperson agreed, but was more concerned about the Drake Road access, i.e., the northern access point for the site.

Josh Weiner was present on behalf of the applicant, and he stated that the changes to the layout had been an attempt to create a ring-road around the property. He reviewed the proposed changes and stated, with regard to the north access point, that it was the intent to extend an island into that access point to define movement, i.e., the right in/right out only movement. He stated that it was felt that if there was an access to the West Century Plaza property, it should be located further to the west so as not to interfere with the northern drive. As to the potential for closure of the northern drive, Mr. Weiner stated that the applicant does not know what traffic pattern might result from the future buildings. He felt that this access point might be important for the Phase II development. However, once a signal was established at the middle drive, the closure of this access point might make sense.

Mr. Rakowski commented that he likes the "island" design for this access point, and feels that it will go a long way to insuring right in/right out movement.

The Chairperson asked whether the future expansion noted on the previous plan for the theater was no longer anticipated. Mr. Weiner responded that the theater had not indicated a plan for expansion within the near future on the latest plans received.

There was discussion of the possibility of pedestrian access for the property to the south of the theater, with Mr. Corakis stating that he was in favor of such an access. The applicant responded that they were ambivalent and recognized the benefit of cross-access for the apartment complex. However, he was concerned about the potential for security problems.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell had questions with regard to the changes for the Post Office drive, and it was clarified that the demarcations on the plan indicated that the existing island would be removed and replaced with a smaller island to allow for cross-access between the Post Office and Mall properties.

Mr. Block moved to approve the amended site plan regarding revised access/parking lot layout/site circulation concerning Phase I of the West Main 2000 development. The motion was seconded by Mr. Heisig.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Mr. Bill Jamieson indicated that he felt the developer had done a good job of redesigning the site circulation layout. However, he did not feel that there was a need to continue the existence of five curb cuts to serve the site. Further, he was concerned about enforcement of the right in/right out only traffic movement for the north access point on Drake Road. He felt that some people would still "misuse" this access point. In his opinion, the Planning Commission should treat the site as if none of the curb cuts existed and should place them where they "should go". In his opinion, one of the curb cuts on Drake Road should be closed.

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

Mr. Block stated that, in his opinion, the southerly and middle drives on Drake Road, being aligned with roads across the street, were properly placed. As to the northerly drive, he feels that it could be closed in the future; but he was satisfied that, at present, with the redesign of right in/right out only, the access point was appropriate. There was no reason to relocate it at this time.

The Chairperson expressed that he was also satisfied with the location of the three curb cuts, stating that if either the south or middle drive were removed, there would be concern due to the topography of Drake Road.

There was discussion of conditioning approval upon the closure of the north drive in the future. There was also discussion of including a provision with regard to pedestrian access through the theater site. Ms. Stefforia reported that the Fire Chief was somewhat concerned about the possibility of vandalism and crime should a pedestrian access be provided. It was agreed that, if such an access point were a problem, it could be handled administratively.

After further discussion, Mr. Block and Mr. Heisig agreed that the motion would be revised to provide the following conditions:

(1) That the north drive/access point on Drake Road must be closed upon signalization of the middle drive if recommended by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission at that time.

(2) That unless and until the north drive was closed, it shall function as a right in/right out only access point designed as a boulevard, with island and appropriate signage.

(3) That a pedestrian access point be established through the fence near the theater to the apartment complex to the south if agreeable to the owner/manager of the apartment property, and that staff may allow its closure if problems occur.

The Chairperson asked for comment on the amended motion, and the applicant responded that, if the site were "blank" given the existing and new merchants, the applicant would have placed the curb cuts as they proposed on the site.

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

DWELLING - TEXT AMENDMENT

The Planning Commission considered the proposed Zoning Ordinance text amendment to the definition of a dwelling, which had been returned by the Township Board. The Memorandum of the Township Attorney regarding revisions to the text is incorporated herein by reference. The Township Attorney indicated that she had redrafted the proposed language to address Township Board concern that the subpart was confusing as it relates to mobiles homes, and the desire that there be specific reference to the types of materials which would be acceptable for use in the perimeter wall. The proposed language reflected review and comment by the Building Inspector and Planning Director.

Mr. Block commented that he felt that the subpart as redrafted met the Township Board’s concerns. Ms. Bugge suggested moving the word "wood" to follow the reference to concrete block so as to reduce the likelihood that the reference to "wood" would be misread to allow lattice or other kinds of siding. Ms. Stefforia suggested adding a comma after the word "material".

Mr. Corakis moved to recommend the text as amended to read as follows:

"Section 11.250

(3) Permanently attached to a solid foundation or in the case of mobile homes, connected to piers, constructed on the site in accordance with the Township Building Code Ordinance and any manufacturer’s specifications. The dwelling shall be fully enclosed with a permanent wall around its perimeter extending from the footing or slab to the ground floor. The perimeter wall shall be constructed of concrete, concrete block, wood, or other material, comparable to those used to construct the foundation of site built homes; in no case shall metal, plastic or vinyl skirting be utilized."

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

INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT PROVISIONS: DRAFT #1 - TEXT AMENDMENT

The Planning Commission considered Draft #1 of the proposed text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance regarding office developments within the "I-R" Industrial District, Restricted and the "I-1" Industrial District zoning classifications. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia indicated that she had revised the working draft of Ordinance provisions, which draft had been set aside in 1997 to await the industrial classification update in the Master Land Use Plan. In response to concerns raised at previous meetings. It was proposed that office buildings be a minimum of 10,000 square feet in area. The Planning and Zoning Department felt that this limitation would help to alleviate concern that the Industrial Districts would be "used up" with small office developments. In addition, it was felt that small office buildings could be accommodated in the "R-3" and Commercial Districts. As proposed, the text would allow for office developments in the Industrial Restricted District as a permitted use and within the "I-1" District as a special use. Additionally, Ms. Stefforia suggested allowing offices as a special exception use on sub-standard "I-R" and "I-1" parcels.

The Township Attorney suggested that, with regard to the provision on sub-standard parcels, that it be made clear that this provision related only to legal non-conforming, sub-standard parcels or lots. Offices of any size would be allowed on sub-standard lots. The minimum of 10,000 square feet would be utilized for non-sub-standard lots.

In response to a question by the Chairperson, Ms. Stefforia acknowledged that the proposed revision did not address the possible concept of combining Industrial Districts, and that there may be a need for provisions regarding office developments in the Industrial Master Land Use policies.

Mr. Block and Mr. Rakowski expressed the concern that retail uses not be allowed except when serving the employees of the office development. Ms. Stefforia indicated that this concern was addressed in proposed Section 40.209/41.404(a)(4)(aa), which required that retail and service establishments including restaurants be accessory to the permitted use.

The Chairperson recognized that the goal of the Planning Commission was to allow offices within Industrial Districts but not to allow offices to dominate those Districts.

Ms. Bugge stated that she felt the change would be appropriate for the Ordinance in that currently there is no place to go in the Township for large office developments. She stated that there had been several inquiries for office buildings larger than 20,000 square feet.

Reference was made to uses permitted within the "I-R" District currently. It was recognized that offices which are traditionally related to permitted uses are currently allowed.

Mr. Corakis wondered whether the Planning Commission should consider creating an industrial PUD which limited the amount of office development to a certain percentage of the overall PUD project. However, he recognized this might be problematic since many of the parcels in the "I-R" District are less than the required 10 acres.

Mr. Heisig indicated that he was in favor of allowing free-standing office buildings which were of a significant size. He thinks that the 10,000 square foot minimum requirement is a "good fit" with the provisions of the "R-3" and Commercial Districts. He was not concerned about the possibility that a such large office development would "eat up" the industrial land due to the expense of building this size development.

Mr. Sikora agreed with the comments of Mr. Heisig, stating that he felt that "using up" the industrial land would not be a problem.

Mr. Rakowski also felt that the provision for free-standing offices of a certain square footage was appropriate.

There was discussion of whether the text as drafted, which required offices to be in a subdivision setting, should be continued, or whether large office development outside of a subdivision should be allowed.

It was suggested that this question be addressed in Draft #2.

Mr. Block recognized that the character of the industrial land use was changing. He felt, since the buildings would be comparable with other industrial buildings at 10,000 square feet minimum, such provisions would be appropriate.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell noted that there was, in her opinion, a surplus of industrial land, but that during her participation in a brainstorming session with industrial land owners, owners had favored leaving industrial property as is and not rezoning or using it for other purposes. She stated, however, that she leans toward allowing large office development.

The Township Attorney suggested that perhaps making office development a special exception use in both zones and amendment of the Master Land Use Plan to indicate concern about "using up" industrial land.

After further discussion, Ms. Stefforia indicated that she would prepare Draft #2 for consideration at the February 10, 2000 meeting.

LANDSCAPING PROVISIONS - DRAFT #1 - TEXT AMENDMENT

Next, the Planning Commission considered Draft #1 of the proposed text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, which would provide for landscaping requirements in non-residential developments. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge noted that the purpose of the proposed text was to establish landscaping objectives for the Township and to assist developers in meeting those objectives. The Chairperson made reference to the Statement of Purpose section. Mr. Sikora expressed concern that the Statement of Purpose included very subjective criteria. There was a discussion of the function of the Statement of Purpose in Ordinance provisions, and it was felt that the objective regulations would be included in later sections.

The Chairperson commented that he was concerned that the Township not over- regulate, and Mr. Block agreed that there would be the tendency to make such a criticism with regard to this text. However, Mr. Block indicated that he "liked" the text, and felt that when the regulations were analyzed, they did not constitute over regulation. Mr. Heisig agreed that adding landscape provisions would be beneficial in that the current provisions of the Ordinance were "nebulous".

Ms. Stefforia and Ms. Bugge indicated that Portage has landscaping provisions, and that Kalamazoo City has just adopted landscaping standards. Further, standards are included in the Ordinances of certain suburbs of Grand Rapids, such as Alpine and Cascade Townships.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she would like to see the Township emphasize that the landscaping provisions would serve not only aesthetic but also safety purposes. Landscaping can help define access and parking areas and internal circulation layouts. It was agreed that Draft #2 would be considered at the meeting of February 10, 2000.

VILLAGE FOCUS AREA - SOUTH SIDE OF STADIUM DRIVE - PROPOSED REZONING

The Planning Commission considered, for the purpose of scheduling a public hearing, the zoning application of Charles Hill on behalf of owners of eight properties in Sections 34 and 35. The rear of these parcels are currently zoned "AG", and it was requested that they be rezoned Commercial Local Business District. The proposed rezonings would extend the commercial area to the AT&T right-of-way on the subject properties. The properties are within the Village Focus Area.

The Planning Commission discussed whether the application should be expanded to include four other properties which were "divided" between the Commercial and Agricultural Districts, and agricultural area abutting the AT&T right-of-way. It was decided that the four additional parcels should be included in the rezoning consideration. However, the Planning Commission decided not to expand the request to include any other zoning districts.

It was recognized that the Township is currently working on Village commercial text, a draft of which would be presented to the Planning Commission later this year.

After further discussion, Mr. Heisig moved to schedule a public hearing for February 24, 2000, on the rezoning request with the addition of four parcels located to the east, including the Chime Street School parcel (Parcel Nos. 3905-34-280-040, 3905-35-115-010, 3905-35-115-020, 3905-35-115-031, 3905-34-280-032, 3905-34-280-011, 3905-34-280-016, 3905-34-281-010, 3905-35-115-050, 3905-35-115-066, 3905-35-115-070 and 3905-35-135-090). Further it was moved that there be consideration of reclassification of the property in question from the Village Focus Area to the Commercial classification under the Master Land Use Plan. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Mr. Sikora indicated his pleasure at being a member of the Planning Commission.

The Chairperson reported that the Township Board has supported the recommendation of the Planning Commission to deny commercial rezoning for the expansion of the Venture Park project, and that the Township Board has supported the recommendation to adopt the adult regulated use text.

OTHER BUSINESS

There was a discussion of the agenda items scheduled for the meeting of January 27, 2000.

ADJOURNMENT

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

Minutes prepared:
January 18, 2000

Minutes approved:
January 27, 2000