OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

July 14, 2005

Agenda

AUDREY HOMES, LLC - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - COMMUNICATION TOWER - 1548 CONCORD PLACE DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-24-410-020)

TRANSCENDING PROPERTIES, LLC - SITE PLAN REVIEW - HERITAGE PINES PLAT - SOUTH SIDE OF ALMENA DRIVE, BETWEEN VAN KAL AVENUE AND 1ST STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-19-355-081)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, July 14, 2005, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott, Chairman
Deborah L. Everett
Terry Schley
Mike Smith
Lee Larson

MEMBERS ABSENT: Kathleen Garland-Rike
Fred Gould

Also present were Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and six other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

The Chairman noted that the next item was the approval of the Agenda. Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted. The motion was seconded by Mr. Smith. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

MINUTES

The Chairman said the next item on the Agenda was the approval of the minutes of June 9, 2005. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

AUDREY HOMES, LLC - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - COMMUNICATION TOWER - 1548 CONCORD PLACE DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-24-410-020)

The Chairman stated the next item on the Agenda was consideration of a special exception use and site plan review for a 120-foot communication tower and related equipment at 1548 Concord Place Drive, Parcel No. 3905-24-410-020. The Chairman asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge submitted her report dated July 14, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Planning Commission that they had considered this request on March 24, 2005, but tabled it in order to obtain additional information from the applicant's engineer. She said the applicant had now changed the proposed design of the tower, and slightly altered its proposed location. Ms. Bugge told the Planning Commission that the applicant was requesting a 120-foot guyed wire tower with a 10-foot antenna on top to replace an existing 96-foot tower. She said the location was approximately 45 feet north of the existing tower.

Ms. Bugge then proceeded to take the Commission through Section 60.100 dealing with special exception uses, as well as Section 60.600 dealing with communication towers. After considering the special exception use and communication tower provisions, Ms. Bugge then took the Planning Commission through the provisions of Section 82.800 dealing with site plan review as set forth in her report.

The Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Tim Kelly, agent for Audrey Homes, LLC, introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he appreciated the Commission's patience and explained that they had not only looked at two different types of towers, but had also done a soil boring analysis to ensure the safety of the tower. He referenced the Commission to the letter from Engineer Habib Azouri from Radian Communication Services dated June 2, 2005, indicating, with a reasonable degree of engineering certainty, that the structure would likely fall within a collapse zone, one-third to one-half the height of the structure.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Mr. Kelly. Mr. Schley asked whether any other party would be using the Audrey Homes' tower. He also asked whether there would be any additional compliance requirements to meet F.C.C. and/or F.A.A. rules. Mr. Kelly explained that no other party would want to locate on the proposed tower. He said, first of all, the top 60 feet of the 120-foot tower would be entirely used by Audrey Homes, and most users would have no reason to want to locate on the lower 60 feet. He said, second, if they did, the lower 60 feet would be unuseable due to the mature trees surrounding the tower location. With regard to lighting, Mr. Kelly said that the subject tower was a sufficient distance from any airport so as to not require any type of lighting or registration with the F.A.A.

The Chairman asked about the statement from the applicant's engineer. He asked for clarification regarding the assumption the engineer was making about the guyed wires remaining in place. Mr. Kelly pointed out that, even without the guyed wires in place, the tower was designed with increasing levels of strength from bottom to top, and therefore, the tower would still buckle and not fall completely intact. The Chairman asked Attorney Porter what he thought the engineer was trying to say. Attorney Porter said he thought the engineer was making the assumption that, short of some type of sabotage, the tower would not come down intact but would, in fact, crumple and fall upon itself.

The Chairman asked if there was any remaining exposure to the Township. Attorney Porter said that he was satisfied that the applicant had addressed the questions previously raised and had provided sufficient information upon which the Commission could reasonably conclude that the tower was not a danger to the health, safety or welfare of the persons within Concord Place Apartments. Mr. Schley said he was satisfied with the information provided and thought that it was reasonable to approve the tower, but he did want to see the engineer's letter referenced if the tower was approved by the Planning Commission.

The Chairman called for public comment, and hearing none, closed the public portion of the meeting. The Chairman noted, when he was in Florida, that he had an opportunity to view cable access and the discussions of various planning commissions in southern Florida. He said that they were very interested in tower safety due to the storms in that area. He concluded, therefore, that tower safety was a very important issue. Mr. Smith agreed and said that he thought the questions which the Commission had raised last time had been addressed, and that the safety questions had been answered.

Mr. Larson said he was a bit concerned about a change in ownership and the possibility of the tower not being set back a sufficient distance from the property lines. Ms. Everett said she thought it would be difficult to meet the setbacks now considering it is a pre-existing development. Ms. Bugge pointed out that, in part, the setback requirements are based upon safety, and she thought those issues had been addressed by the applicant's engineer. The Chairman concurred with Ms. Bugge and said he equated the setback requirements to the safety issues involved and thought that those had been addressed.

Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the special exception use as submitted based upon the record and the Planning Department's report and review of Section 60.100 and Section 60.600. Mr. Smith seconded the motion. The Chairman called for discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Schley then made a motion to approve the site plan with the requested deviation from the setback requirements from existing buildings and the property line, upon the following conditions and limitations:

(1) A deviation from the setback requirement from the east line and existing buildings as proposed on the site plan dated June 6, 2005, is granted, based upon the engineer's letter of June 2, 2005.

(2) Approval is subject to the removal of the existing tower once the new tower is operational.

(3) Lighting, if any, shall comply with Section 78.700. Details are to be provided for review and approval of Staff.

(4) Only signs required by the F.C.C. will be posted.

(5) Site plan approval is subject to the applicant satisfying Fire Department requirements, pursuant to adopted codes.

Mr. Smith seconded the motion. The Chairman called for discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

TRANSCENDING PROPERTIES, LLC - SITE PLAN REVIEW - HERITAGE PINES PLAT - SOUTH SIDE OF ALMENA DRIVE, BETWEEN VAN KAL AVENUE AND 1ST STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-19-355-081)

The Chairman said the next item for consideration was the site plan review of a proposed six-lot plat to be located on the south side of Almena Drive between Van Kal Avenue and 1st Street, Parcel No. 4905-19-355-081. The Chairman called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge submitted her report dated July 14, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained to the Commission that this was consideration of a recommendation for Step One Tentative Approval of the platting process. She said that the Planning Commission's recommendation along with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission's comments would be submitted to the Township Board for their consideration. She explained that the property consists of approximately 6.21 acres on the south side of Almena Drive. She said the applicant was proposing six lots ranging in size from .58 to 1.02 acres. She said the property was located in the Rural Residential District, and the applicant was proposing to serve the lots with septic systems and wells. She said the applicant's development met the minimum width requirements, as well as the density requirements, of the Ordinance.

Ms. Bugge then proceeded to review the plat with the Commission, pointing out that the stormwater basin would have to be approved and dedicated to the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner. She also pointed out that the public street would be subject to approval and acceptance by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. She asked that the Commission take particular note of the fact that the non-motorized facilities map indicated the need for an undetermined facility along Almena Drive, i.e., bike path or sidewalk. Ms. Bugge then proceeded to review the plat, pursuant to the provisions of Sections 290.200 and 290.202, as set forth in her report.

The Chairman asked Ms. Bugge why the sidewalk did not go completely around the cul-de-sac. Ms. Bugge explained that the cul-de-sac was intended to be temporary and the road extended in the future. She said, if the road was extended, the cul-de-sac would be removed, and any existing sidewalks would not be properly located.

The Chairman asked if there were any other questions. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Gary Hahn of Wightman Ward introduced himself. He said he was representing Transcending Properties and David J. DiStefano. He said that he thought they had addressed the issues raised by the Planning Department and asked if there were any questions.

Mr. Larson said that the topography map was not that clear to him and asked if the property was relatively flat. Mr. Hahn said that it was. Mr. Larson then asked what shape the stormwater basin would likely take. Mr. Hahn said they were using the naturally low-lying area, which was quite large, and so it would not be very deep. He thought it would not be more than ten feet at its deepest location. He said he also thought there would be gentle slopes, either 1 on 4 or 1 on 5 when developed.

Mr. Larson asked if they had thought about incorporating the landscaping of the plat into the development of the water retention basin. He then asked how visible the retention basin would be. Mr. Hahn said that the site was heavily wooded with pine trees and that the developer was hoping to save many of the trees around the perimeter of the water retention area. He said given that, he did not think it would be very visible at all.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that the Drain Commissioner would have to review and approve the proposed drainage system. Mr. Hahn also pointed out that there would be a 25-foot buffer area around the retention basin where none of the trees would be removed.

Mr. DiStefano introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He complimented the Planning Department on its professionalism, knowledge and responsiveness. He said it was quite refreshing to deal with such a professional Planning Department. Mr. DiStefano said that the subject property was a relatively small development, but he and his partner did appreciate the natural features of the property, and therefore, were working with a forester to try to improve the health of the pine trees on site and preserve the natural features to the greatest extent possible. He said, in addition to the pines, there were oaks and poplars on site, and he had no intention of clear-cutting the property and was working on deed restrictions which would require the homeowners to minimize the removal of trees and limit them to only what was necessary for the construction of their homes and drives.

Mr. DiStefano asked the Commissioners if they would grant a deviation for a sidewalk. He reviewed the provisions of the Ordinance regarding sidewalks, and noted that a deviation could be granted if there was a cul-de-sac, constraints due to severe topography or natural features. He said that, while there was no severe topography, he thought they met two of three criteria, i.e., they were proposing a cul-de-sac and they would like to preserve the natural features of the site. He said, given the fact the street was not likely to ever go through, he did not think it was reasonable to put sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Mr. DiStefano said he was also caught off guard by the non-motorized path requirement along Almena Drive. He said that he did not see anything in the area to which such a path would connect, and he was concerned about the trees in the area and did not think it was practical to install such a path at the present time. He asked Ms. Bugge whether the non-motorized path would be on the north side or south side of the road. Ms. Bugge said it could possibly be on both sides. He said, while it made sense, he thought at the present time, it would be extremely hard to accommodate.

The Chairman asked if there was anything else from the applicant. Hearing none, he called for comments by the public. Mr. Dan Baas introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he owned the property immediately to the east of the subject property. He said, in the past, there had been survey problems in the area and raised a concern over the staking of the property by the developer's surveyor. He said he had his survey done by Prein & Newhof approximately five years ago, and asked who had done the survey for the developer. Mr. Hahn said his office, Wightman Ward, Inc., had done the survey. A brief discussion ensued regarding the location of monuments upon which one or both of the surveys may have been based. Mr. Hahn offered to meet with Mr. Baas and review the survey with him.

The Chairman asked if there were any further public comments. Hearing none, he closed the public portion and called for Commission deliberations.

Ms. Everett asked what was required with regard to a non-motorized pathway along Almena Drive. Ms. Bugge explained that it could either be a bike path or a sidewalk, depending upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission. Ms. Everett asked where the pathway would be located with regard to the proposed development. Ms. Bugge said it would be located one foot inside the right-of-way line along the south side of the road.

Ms. Everett asked if the survey was accurate with regard to the trees. Mr. Hahn said that he thought trees as located on the survey were accurate, but that there were additional trees which were not shown. Ms. Bugge then directed the Commission to the overhead and noted that the proposed pathway would be located in the area with the least amount of trees. Ms. Everett asked if the applicant could escrow the funds if he did not wish to build the pathway at the present time. Ms. Bugge indicated that was possible and that it had been done before.

The Chairman asked if the Commission members had read the recent article on bike paths in the Kalamazoo Area. He commented that it was an excellent article because it pointed out that the bike paths had been developed over a period of time in various different segments. He said he thought it was very useful for people to understand that these types of pathways were not all developed at one time and were often developed in stages and later connected to each other. Ms. Everett noted that the Township had to start somewhere in order to see these types of pedestrian facilities developed.

Mr. Schley said he would clearly want to see continued support for a pathway plan. He noted the number of plats developing in the area, and he thought that the non-motorized pathway along Almena Drive would be very valuable to the community in the long run. Mr. Larson said he not only wanted to see the non-motorized pathway along Almena Drive, but he wanted to see sidewalks on both sides of the road right-of-way. He said that the Planning Commission had strongly encouraged development of sidewalks and that they needed to continue to do so.

Ms. Everett asked what they had done in the Tuscany Plat. Ms. Bugge said that they had put sidewalks on both sides of the street in the Tuscany Plat. Ms. Everett said that was a relatively small plat, to which Ms. Bugge concurred. Mr. Schley noted that, as Ms. Bugge had pointed out earlier, installation of the sidewalks would not result in a loss of trees since the trees would have to be removed for the development of the road right-of-way anyway.

Ms. Bugge asked the Planning Commission what they would like to see in the way of a non-motorized path, a sidewalk or a bike path. Ms. Everett indicated that she would like to see a bike path. Mr. Larson concurred. The Chairman noted that he would prefer a bike path since one could not only ride their bike there, but could also walk on the bike path.

The Chairman said he was concerned that the Planning Commission stay the course with the Ordinance, and therefore, recommended both a bike path on Almena Drive and sidewalks on both sides of the development as required. Mr. Schley said he agreed, but thought it made sense to stop the sidewalks as proposed, because it did not make any sense to install them around a cul-de-sac, which was only temporary in nature.

Mr. Schley asked what the requirements were for a bike path. Ms. Bugge indicated that a bike path required an eight-foot width, but could be constructed of asphalt.

Mr. Schley made a motion to recommend approval to the Township Board of the site plan for the subject property to be known as Heritage Pines Plat, subject to the following:

(1) Installation of the sidewalks within the Plat as submitted and an eight-foot bike pathway along Almena Drive, or, with regard to the bike path, sufficient escrow monies for installation of the bike path by the Township at a later date.

(2) The stormwater basin shall be subject to approval by and dedication to the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner.

(3) The street shall be public and be approved by and dedicated to the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

(4) Street lighting is required in accordance with Township requirements.

(5) All lots are subject to the Kalamazoo County Human Services Department finding them adequate for individual septic systems and wells.

Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for public comment, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

Ms. Bugge told the Planning Commission that they did not have any business for their upcoming meeting, and asked that they discuss whether they wanted to meet on July 28. After a brief discussion, It was the consensus of the Planning Commission not to hold a meeting on July 28, 2005.

Planning Commissioner Comments

None.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 8:20 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Minutes prepared:
July 21, 2005

Minutes approved:
, 2005