OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

January 13, 2005

Revised Pursuant to Planning Commission - January 27, 2005

Agenda

FLAG POLE HEIGHT TEXT AMENDMENT - WORK ITEM

PRIVATE STREETS - DISCUSSION ITEM

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, January 13, 2005, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott
Deborah L. Everett
Lee Larson
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Terry Schley
Fred Gould
Mike Smith

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately five other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

Terry Schley, Acting Chairman, called the meeting to order.

AGENDA

The Acting Chairman indicated that the first item of business was to approve the Agenda. The Acting Chairman asked if there were any amendments to the Agenda. Ms. Stefforia asked if the Commission would add the selection of two members to sit on a Master Land Use Plan Committee to Item 3.

Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the Agenda as amended. Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

The Acting Chairman said that the next item for consideration was the election of officers. He said it was necessary for the Planning Commission to fill the position of Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary.

Ms. Everett made a motion to appoint Jim Turcott as the Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr. Schley as the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission and Ms. Garland-Rike as the Secretary of the Planning Commission. Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Schley, as Acting Chairman, yielded the Chairman's seat to Mr. Turcott. Mr. Turcott thanked Mr. Schley and asked the Planning Commission to next consider the appointment of a liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Everett asked Mr. Turcott if he was willing to continue in that capacity. Mr. Turcott indicated that he was. Mr. Schley made a motion to have Mr. Turcott continue to serve as the liaison to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. Gould seconded the motion. The Chairman asked if there was any further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

The Chairman said the next item to consider was the appointment of two representatives to a Master Land Use Plan Committee. Ms. Stefforia said that the meetings would likely be in the late afternoon and that she wanted to have representatives from the Planning Commission, Township Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as the Township citizens. Mr. Larson volunteered to sit on that Committee. Mr. Smith also volunteer to be on the Committee.

The Chairman asked if the Planning Commission would be reviewing the entire Plan. Ms. Stefforia said that the Committee would look at the Plan as a whole and bring any recommended amendments thereto to the Planning Commission.

MINUTES

The Chairman stated that the next item on the Agenda was the approval of the minutes of December 16, 2004. Ms. Everett pointed out on page 6 of the minutes that the name "Buckland" on the third paragraph on page 6 should be written "Bucklin." The Chairman noted that he had not seconded the motion to approve the Agenda at the meeting of December 16. Township Attorney concluded that it must have been Mr. Larson and said he would note the correction to the Minutes. Ms. Everett then made a motion to approve the minutes as corrected. Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

FLAG POLE HEIGHT TEXT AMENDMENT - WORK ITEM

The Chairman indicated that the fifth item on the Agenda was a work item involving flag pole height and a possible text amendment. Ms. Stefforia asked if Attorney Porter would begin the discussion by reporting his findings regarding his research.

Attorney Porter reminded the Planning Commission that he had been asked by Ms. Everett at a Township Board meeting to investigate the possibility of distinguishing between flags of state and commercial flags. Mr. Porter explained that, at the time, he thought that there might be a way to regulate commercial speech while not impinging upon the non-commercial speech, since commercial speech was not given the same level of protection as non-commercial speech. Mr. Porter said when he had previously researched this issue in August of 2004 for the Zoning Board of Appeals, he focused solely on the issue of whether the Township Ordinance was valid as applied to the flag at issue. In so doing, he had determined that the First Amendment of the Constitution, (applied to the State through the Fourteen Amendment), prevents a government from enacting a law that unnecessarily impinges on a person's freedom of speech. Quoting from that memo, he said, "The U. S. Supreme Court has required that 'any regulation on the time, place and manner of speech is permissible only if it advances a significant government interest, is justified without reference to the content of the speech, and leaves open ample alternative channels for communication of the information'."

Mr. Porter said that, in trying to distinguish between political speech (American flag) and non-political speech (commercial flags), he had looked at the case of King Enterprises, et al v Thomas Township, Case No. 01-10242-BC, issued by the United States District Court Eastern Division on July 24, 2002. In providing his analysis to the Planning Commission, he read the following to the Commission: "The first determination a court must make when evaluating a law that governs speech is whether the regulation is content-neutral or content-based, inasmuch as this determination prescribes a level of scrutiny that is used in assessing the constitutionality of the law. " As he had indicated in his previous research, "If the restrictions on expression are content-based, then the Court must determine whether the restrictions involve commercial or non-commercial speech. Commercial speech is defined as "expression related solely to the economic interests of the speaker and its audience" or "speech proposing a commercial transaction." He said, as indicated before, content-based restrictions on non-commercial speech are analyzed under the "strict scrutiny" test, under which "the Township must show that the regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve this end." Although safety and aesthetics are substantial government interests, they are not compelling enough to justify content based restriction on fully protected non-commercial speech. He said, if the content base restrictions are applied to commercial speech, they are analyzed under the four-prong test announced by the Supreme Court in Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation v. The Public Service Commission of New York, 447 US 557 (1980). In the Central Hudson case, the Court held that "in applying the four-prong test, the Court must determine whether (1) the speech is protected by the First Amendment, (2) the governmental interest is substantial, (3) the regulation directly advances the governmental interest asserted, and (4) the regulation is no more extensive than necessary to serve the governmental interest.

Attorney Porter explained that commercial speech is protected if it is not unlawful. Unlawful speech is often defined as misleading or fraudulent, at which time Attorney Porter made reference to Pharmacia's ad regarding Listerine mouth wash and flossing. In the case of commercial flags, they would be lawful, thereby meeting the first prong of the test.

Mr. Porter then noted that the Court in the King Enterprises case, (citing an earlier Supreme Court decision), had determined that "the Supreme Court has held that safety and aesthetics are substantial governmental interests that can justify the regulation of some commercial speech." He said that would meet the second prong of the test.

Attorney Porter noted that it gets much more complicated when considering the last two prongs of the test. He cited the Commission again to the King Enterprises case and read the following quotes: "The last two steps of the Central Hudson analysis basically involve a consideration of the 'fit' between the legislature's ends and the means chosen to accomplish those ends." . . . ". . .the third part of the test requires an examination of the regulation to determine whether it actually and directly addresses the perceived harm or otherwise advances the governmental interest. A governmental body seeking to sustain a restriction on commercial speech must demonstrate that the harm it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree."

He said the fourth part of the test limited the scope of the third, which the Supreme Court explained as follows: "The fourth part of the test complements the direct-advancement inquiry of the third, asking whether the speech restriction is not more extensive than necessary to serve the interests that support it. The Government is not required to employ the least restrictive means conceivable, but it must demonstrate narrow tailoring of the challenged regulation to the asserted interest - 'a fit that is not necessarily perfect, but reasonable; that represents not necessarily the single best disposition but one whose scope is in proportion to the interest served.'"

Attorney Porter explained that not only must the regulation actually and directly address the harm to a material degree, but must do so in the least restrictive manner possible, tailored to fit the perceived harm.

Attorney Porter then referred the Board to the case of The City of Cincinnati v Discovery Network, Inc., et al, Case No. 91-1200, 507 U.S. 410 (1993). In that case, the city had chosen to alleviate the clutter caused on its public streets by requiring the removal of all newsracks dispensing commercial handbills, but not requiring the removal of newsracks carrying actual newspapers. The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals which had first determined that both publications were commercial speech entitled to First Amendment protection because it was a lawful activity, and they were not misleading. The Court then went on to say that the city had the burden of establishing "a reasonable fit" between the legislature's end and the means chosen to accomplish those ends. It explained that the "fit" in this case was unreasonable because the number of newsracks dispensing commercial handbills was "minute" compared with the total number of newsracks (1,500 - 2,000) on the public right-of-way, and because they affected public safety in only a minimal way. Moreover, the practices in other communities indicated that the city's safety and esthetic interests could be adequately protected "by regulating the size, shape, number or placement of such devices."

Attorney Porter then opined, if the Township regulated commercial flags in a manner different than flags of state, that such flags would be minute when compared with the total number of flags that would constitute non-commercial speech, and that these esthetic interests could be adequately protected by regulating the size, shape, number and placement of such flags or flag poles. In other words, Attorney Porter noted that it would be very hard to tailor an ordinance which would control the display of commercial flags. He said, while it was fairly straight-forward to have a content-neutral ordinance, it would prove to be extremely difficult to have a content-based ordinance that did not, in turn, violate someone's constitutional rights, even with regard to commercial speech. Attorney Porter recommended avoiding any such distinguishing factors in the Township's ordinance and staying with the content-neutral-based ordinance.

Mr. Schley said, given the comments of counsel, he thought it would be best to maintain a content-neutral ordinance.

The Chairman then asked to hear from the Planning Department, which then submitted its report to the Commission dated January 4, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia referred the Commission to the four following options among others that might be suggested:

Option 1

" allow pole to be 15 feet taller than building - as measured from ground.

Option 2

" limit height to 30 feet with a 10-foot setback with the following exceptions:

a. where topography of site is lower than abutting street, height will be measured at the street centerline.

b. where building is more than 200 feet from the road, pole height may be increased one foot in height for every additional 10 feet in setback beyond first 100 feet. (This would place a 60-foot pole 130 feet from the front property line).

c. in no case shall a flag pole exceed a height of feet.

Option 3

" limit height to 30 feet with a 10-foot setback with the following exceptions:

a. with every 10-foot increase in setback, pole height may be increased 5 feet. (This would place a 60-foot pole 70 feet from the front property line which is the minimum building setback requirement in commercial districts).

b. where topography of site is lower than abutting street, height will be measured at street centerline.

c. in no case shall a flag pole exceed a height of feet.

Option 4

" limit height to 30 feet with a 10-foot setback with the following exceptions:

a. flag poles taller than 30 feet must be set back a distance equivalent to pole height.

b. where topography of site is lower than abutting street, height will be measured at street centerline.

c. in no case shall a flag pole exceed a height of feet.

Ms. Garland-Rike suggest the following fifth option and submitted that option to the Planning Commission members for their review:

Option 5

" limit height to 30 feet with a 10-foot setback, with the following exceptions:

a. flag poles taller than 30 feet may be located in non-residential areas east of highway 131.

b. where topography of site is lower than abutting street, height will be measured at street centerline.

c. in no case shall a flag pole exceed a height of 45 feet.

Rationale: In both of the surveys of Oshtemo residents regarding land use, respondents indicated they wanted more dense development to occur east of highway 131. They also expressed a desire to retain the residential and rural character of the Township with density decreasing from 131 west to the Van Buren County line. Tall flag poles west of 131 would be inconsistent with these sentiments.

Ms. Garland-Rike said it was important to her where the flag poles were located. She said she thought distinguishing between those properties east of U.S. 131 and those west of U.S. 131 was justified, based upon the larger, older buildings having higher densities, larger signs and higher light poles, all of which existed east of U.S. 131. She said higher pole height might be justified east of U. S. 131, but not west of U.S. 131. Ms. Everett asked if the Township could support such a restriction. Attorney Porter said if there was a rational basis such as that put forth by Ms. Garland-Rike, it would likely be defendable.

Mr. Mallett asked if the various proposals, which the Commission was considering, could either be read or given to those in attendance. A copy of the proposals was given to Mr. Rakowski, who then shared them with Mr. Mallett. The Chairman also read Ms. Garland-Rike's proposal to those in attendance.

Mr. Gould asked if the proposals being set forth were similar to those in other ordinances. Ms. Stefforia said they were not necessarily the same and that Oshtemo Charter Township was unique; she said many municipalities do not have any flag pole height limitations. Mr. Gould asked what the setback was for the Belle Tire flag pole. Ms. Stefforia said it was 28 feet at the property line. Mr. Gould asked what the maximum building height was in the Township. Ms. Stefforia said that there was no maximum building height that was regulated by code in the "C" Local Business District, but building height did affect setbacks and other limitations.

Mr. Gould suggested that, under the second proposal, there could be some very tall flag poles allowed within the Township. Ms. Garland-Rike said that was correct. Mr. Gould said that one citizen had commented that Menards had some very high poles on top of their building, which appeared to be much higher than the flag being flown by Belle Tire. Mr. Schley said he thought that the citizen who made those comments had a very good point and that the Commission needed to be looking at some of the issues raised in this overall debate. Ms. Everett said that, while that was true, there had to be some point at which a limit was established.

Mr. Gould asked if the Belle Tire flag pole would be grandfathered if the proposed text changes were implemented. Ms. Stefforia indicated that the Belle Tire flag pole would not be grandfathered, in that the flag pole was never a legal nonconforming use. Attorney Porter concurred.

The Chairman asked Ms. Stefforia if there were any other options. Ms. Stefforia suggested Option 6 might be to have no regulations at all. Mr. Schley suggested Option 7, which he said would be simpler if they simply focused on allowing a flag pole of a particular height within a stated setback area. In addition, he suggested that they consider limiting the actual size of the flag. Ms. Everett asked if that would be a permissible regulation. Attorney Porter noted that it was content-neutral, and therefore, it would be permissible based upon time, place and manner of the regulations. .

Ms. Garland-Rike noted that, if a flag were too large, it could not even be flown at half mast. She said the Belle Tire flag was much too large for the flag pole on which it was located. Ms. Stefforia agreed that the Belle Tire flag could not be flown at half mast.

Mr. Schley said, looking over all of the facts involving Belle Tire, that he would have thought as a good citizen Belle Tire would have tried to reach a compromise to make what they had done with regard to the illegal flag pole more palatable to the community. He said that they were the ones that made the mistake, and that the very least they could have done was to reduce the size of the flag pole so as to not create such a controversy within the community. He said he was not aware whether or not Belle Tire had made any attempt to try to resolve or ameliorate the situation. He said, given the size of the flag, it was certainly an attention-getter and thought there should be some room for movement. Mr. Schley said, if the Township were willing to increase the size of the flag poles, he also thought there should be some movement to reduce the size of the flag. He indicated that he had gone to the Betsy Ross website and was able to obtain recommended flag sizes based upon the height of the various flag poles.

Ms. Stefforia said that the Planning Commission had originally proposed limiting the size of flags, but thought, by limiting the size of the flag pole, that the size of the flags, (assuming they were in proportion to the flag pole), would be self-regulating.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if there were any other governmental agencies regulating size. Ms. Stefforia said not many communities regulate flag size, but many of them do require that flags be flown at half mast in compliance with generally-accepted practices, which would prohibit them from dragging on the ground.

Mr. Gould said he thought it would be appropriate to base the size of the flag on the size of the pole and create a ratio between the pole and the flag that would make it aesthetically pleasing. He said, in his opinion, the Belle Tire flag seemed out of proportion and too large for the flag pole on which it was flying. He suggested that perhaps, if a smaller flag were used, that the height of the pole might not be perceived as such a serious problem. Ms. Everett said, up to this point in time, the issue had been about the flag pole. She expressed some concern that if the Commission now wanted to address the size of the flag, that it would be perceived by the public as being a more direct attack on the American flag. She said she certainly did not want to see the community more upset than it already was.

Mr. Larson said he would like to see a ratio, such as that under Option 3, which would limit the length of the flag to no more than one-third the flag pole size. Ms. Bugge asked how the Township would regulate such a limitation. Ms. Stefforia said it would likely only be addressed if the Township thought there was a violation, at which time, the flag could be lowered and measured to see if it was in compliance. Mr. Larson said it would be relatively easy to tell from the street whether or not a flag was in proportion to the size of the flag pole. Mr. Larson said he thought it was reasonable to balance the flag to the pole on which it flew. He said that this would not only be more aesthetically pleasing, but alleviate some of the safety concerns caused by the distraction of the large oversized flags. Mr. Smith said if they did allow higher flag poles, he did not think there would be a big rush to go out and purchase the same, given the cost of putting up such a pole. Mr. Larson said that might be true.

Mr. Schley said he would like to see the Zoning Ordinance amended to regulate the height of the flag pole based upon the amount of setback available. He said in so doing, the further away one got from the right-of-way, the larger the flag pole one could construct. He suggested, by looking at the Betsy Ross website, that a 30-foot to 35-foot flag pole be limited to a 6' x 10' flag, and a 60-foot to 65-foot flag pole be limited to a 10' x 15' to a 10' x 19' flag. He said he would then want to see flag poles no closer to the road than 30 feet. He also based his determination on the fact that members of a previous Planning Commission, in a 5 to 2 vote, had said they did not want flag poles greater than 30 feet in height, and he thought that deserved respect, since they had gone through considerable discussion and analysis in arriving at that initial pole height. He said it was likely the Commission would not be looking at this matter if the Township had not been beaten up over the issue in the press. Mr. Larson said that they had been asked to look at it by the Township Board, and he thought the proposals which the Commission was considering would create more flexibility, yet still maintain control within the Township.

Mr. Schley said again that it could be made simpler, basing the height of the pole upon the setback, and that the greater the setback, the greater the height of the pole, and the larger flag that could be permitted. Ms. Everett asked what height Mr. Schley would use. For discussion, Mr. Schley asked if a 60-foot flag pole should be allowed within the setback of 0-30 feet. Mr. Larson said that he did not think it should be allowed, because a flag pole should not be able to fall into the street. Mr. Schley said that was a logical safety consideration which the Commission should look at.

Ms. Bugge asked if the Planning Commission should consider the interior property lines. Mr. Larson said he thought it would be appropriate if the pole were to fall that the Township Ordinance require it to fall on its own property. Mr. Schley said he was not so sure that it was necessary to deal with the side line setback as much as it was the front setback because of the proximity to the public street.

Ms. Bugge asked if the building code regulated how flag poles were constructed. Mr. Larson said there were some regulations with regard to the base, but he did not believe there was anything beyond that which addressed the pole itself.

Ms. Garland-Rike said she would prefer to keep the regulations as simple as possible and prevent any type of poles, if they did fall, from falling into the road right-of-way. Mr. Larson said if that was done, would Ms. Garland-Rike allow a 60-foot flag pole. Ms. Garland-Rike said that she did not really want to see flag poles that large, but understood Mr. Schley's comments about larger poles being set back further from the road right-of-way. Ms. Everett asked what Mr. Schley would suggest in the way of regulations. Mr. Schley pointed out that, regardless what the Planning Commission members recommended, they were likely to be criticized. However, he said he thought there was a consensus that, if there was a commercial setback of sufficient distance, the Planning Commission would be inclined to allow taller flag poles. He said the increased setback, which would create a proper scale for the larger flag poles, would, in his opinion, not be a problem.

Mr. Larson asked if the Planning Commission had to decide tonight how to proceed with this matter. A general discussion ensued, during which Attorney Porter commented that the Planning Commission would have to act at some point because the matter had been referred back to them by the Township Board. Ms. Stefforia then suggested that they wait and discuss this matter at the next joint meeting with the Township Board. Ms. Everett said that would be on February 15. Mr. Schley suggested that they consider the standards that were set forth by the Betsy Ross Society at the February 15th meeting. He said, based on those standards, he would suggest that for setbacks of 0 to 70 feet, that a 30 to 35-foot pole be allowed, supporting a 6' x 10' flag. With setbacks of 70 to 200 feet, he suggested permitting a 45-foot pole, supporting a 6' x 10' to an 8' x 12' flag. He said for those properties with setbacks of over 200 feet, that they be allowed a 60-foot flag pole, supporting 10' x 15' to 10' x 19' flag.

Ms. Stefforia said, in comparison, the Belle Tire flag was 20' x 30', or ten times the size of a freestanding sign, or four times that of the recommended flag sizes as presented by Mr. Schley. Ms. Everett asked why Mr. Schley suggested a 30 to 35-foot pole in a 0 to 70-foot setback area. Mr. Schley said he based that upon the previous Planning Commission's review and analysis of this issue and their opinion that the aesthetic concerns, as well as the safety concerns should be considered.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that a 30-foot flag pole is 10 feet higher than any sign allowed within the commercial district. Mr. Smith said he was not necessarily in favor of changing the Ordinance, but did like the sliding scale proposed by Mr. Schley. He said this scale not only allowed for an increase in flag height but also maximized the flag size and kept the regulations relatively simple.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that, if such ordinance change was made, all new flags flown would have to comply with that requirement. The Commission members said they understood. Mr. Schley pointed out that would be true even if the property owner were to put an oversized flag on a 30-foot pole.

Attorney Porter pointed out that, if the Township Board were to accept the proposed regulations as part of a change to the Zoning Ordinance, it would require a new public hearing. He reminded the Commission that, if Township Board did not accept the proposed revised recommendation, it could proceed on its own to adopt the regulations as submitted to the Commission by Belle Tire.

Mr. Gould said he thought the Township Board had referred this matter back to the Planning Commission for a fresh look, not merely to consider the language submitted to the Commission by Belle Tire. Mr. Schley said he felt there was a consensus for some type of graduated system to deal with the flag pole issue. Ms. Stefforia suggested they take this matter up again at their public work session on February 10 and prepare draft language for consideration at the next joint meeting with the Township Board. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to have Staff work on a new recommendation and reconsider the same at the meeting on February 10, 2005.

PRIVATE STREETS - DISCUSSION ITEM

The Chairman indicated that the next item on the Agenda was a work item for the discussion of private streets within the Township.

Ms. Stefforia presented an Outline for Private Street Ordinance Discussion dated January of 2005, indicating the pros and cons for private street development, and the same is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia said that this matter came up because a property owner had approached several Planning Commission members to request placing private streets in a commercial site condominium project. Ms. Stefforia, in reviewing the pros and cons with the Commission, commented that the concern of allowing private roads in a residential area was based upon fear that the roads would not be maintained or properly cleared of snow for police and fire vehicles.

Ms. Everett said she thought commercial areas would be more likely to be properly maintained and kept up because of the commercial incentive to the business owners, unlike private roads in a residential area. Mr. Larson said he thought the open space development provisions allowed for a reduction in infrastructure cost, but at the same time, used the leverage of the private roads to increase the amount of open space which was maintained. He said in a commercial development, the projects are not likely to have as long of streets and would more likely be kept free of snow and better maintained by the commercial businesses.

Mr. Schley said he agreed with the idea of encouraging private roads for several reasons. He said that they would reduce water run-off, would cost less, and could better control storm water discharge. However, he said that he would be inclined to limit private roads to commercial areas because of the history of problems regarding maintenance of private roads in residential areas.

The Chairman said he thought he heard two basic concepts coming out of this discussion, namely that private roads in residential areas are not particularly desirable, but that they could be permitted in commercial areas.

Ms. Bugge said one of her primary concerns about private roads is the negative impact they have on connectivity. She said often you want to see public roads constructed to create connections between main interceptor roads within the Township. She said in doing so, it promotes a grid pattern for alternative traffic routes.

Ms. Everett asked if the Township could consider connectivity as a criteria for granting or denying private roads. Attorney Porter said he thought the Planning Commission could do so, but likely, only as a special use. Ms. Everett commented that this would allow the Township to accommodate those parcels that would not harm connectivity, but at the same time, preserve public roads in those areas of the Township that the Planning Commission felt were imperative to increase cross-connections and access between the main thoroughfares.

Ms. Bugge agreed and said that there were areas where the roads need to be extended, but that was not always the case.

Mr. Gould asked if the standards would still be adequate to meet Fire Department requirements. Ms. Stefforia said yes, and that the Fire Department would be looking at the proposed private roads to make sure that they were adequate.

Ms. Everett suggested discussing this at their February joint meeting with the Township Board. Ms. Stefforia and the other Commissioners concurred.

Mr. Jack Bosch introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He told the Commission that he was the private developer who was seeking to have private roads within a commercial site condominium. He said that there were circumstances where the land was limited and where full public road development made the financial viability of smaller projects impractical. He said he thought, if it was allowed in a commercial setting, these roads could be adequately controlled and maintained and serve the interest of the Township, as well as that of private developers.

Review of Proposed Plan Amendment - City of Portage

The Chairman indicated that the next item was the review of a proposed plan amendment for the City of Portage. Ms. Stefforia informed the Commission that this was the annual plan update, and a proposed change in the Recreation Plan triggered the notice provisions. Ms. Everett inquired as to whether or not there was any need to comment. Ms. Stefforia said she did not believe it was necessary to take a position on their proposal. Ms. Garland-Rike made a motion to issue the standard "no comment" letter to the City of Portage. The motion was seconded by Mr. Larson. The Chairman called for discussion on the motion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

Amendment to Township Zoning Act - HB 6206. Ms. Stefforia informed the Commission of the contract zoning provisions that were added to the Township Zoning Act, pursuant to House Bill 6206. A general discussion ensued, and in response thereto, Attorney Porter said that he knew this Planning Commission would approach any such contracts very cautiously to avoid any possible negative consequences.

Citizen Planner Program. Ms. Stefforia informed the Commission that a citizen in the area was interested in a Citizen Planner Program and thought that if enough Commission members were interested, they could have somebody come to Kalamazoo County to teach the course. There was a comment that the course could be taken on-line, to which several of the Commissioners expressed interest. However, the Commission members left it open as to whether or not they want to participate in a live classroom forum.

Planning Commissioner's Journal. Ms. Stefforia told the Planning Commission members they could receive a group rate if they obtained all of their Planning Commission Journals directly through the Township. Planning Commission members expressed a desire to have the opportunity to read such educational materials. Ms. Stefforia said she would sign up all of the Planning Commissioners to receive that publication.

Planning Commission Comments

Mr. Schley welcomed the new members of the Commission, Fred Gould and Mike Smith. The Chairman told the Commission members that he thought they had a great Staff and Commission, and he was looking forward to the upcoming year.

Ms. Everett asked that the Commission take a look at the e-mail she had received from Rodney R. Walters, Ph.D. She asked if the Commission might make the non-residential aspects of a PUD a matter for a work session and invite Mr. Walters to the Planning Commission meeting for a discussion. The Planning Commission members concurred, and the Staff said they would arrange the same.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 9:15 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary

Minutes prepared:
January 18, 2005

Minutes approved:
, 2005