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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

July 15, 2002

Agenda

WAL-MART - LIGHTING VARIANCE - WEST SIDE OF 9TH STREET, SOUTH OF WEST MAIN (PARCELS NO. 3905-14-355-011 AND 3905-14-305-013).

WAL-MART - SIGN DEVIATION - WEST SIDE OF 9TH STREET, SOUTH OF WEST MAIN (PARCELS NO. 3905-14-355-011 AND 3905-14-305-013).

PRUDENTIAL WEST MICHIGAN REALTORS - SIGN VARIANCE IN "VC" DISTRICT - 6312 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-26-460-011)

CHINESE CHRISTIAN CHURCH - SITE PLAN REVIEW - 5334 PARKVIEW AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-455-110)

LA RUE'S FAMILY RESTAURANT - PARKING VARIANCE - 6375 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-26-465-072)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, July 15, 2002, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Millard Loy, Chairperson
Stanley Rakowski
Duane McClung
David Bushouse
Grace Borgfjord

MEMBER ABSENT

: None

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

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 3:04 p.m.

MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of June 17, 2002. Mr. Bushouse moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

WAL-MART - LIGHTING VARIANCE - WEST SIDE OF 9TH STREET, SOUTH OF WEST MAIN (PARCELS NO. 3905-14-355-011 AND 3905-14-305-013).

The Board considered the application of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., for two variances from the outdoor lighting provisions of Section 78.720 so as to allow 1,000-watt light fixtures in the parking lot where the Zoning Ordinance limit is 400-watts; the applicant also sought deviation from perimeter illumination levels to allow those levels to exceed 0.1 foot candles along the property line. The subject property is located in the "C" Local Business District zoning classification and is located on the west side of 9th Street, south of Main Street. The site involves portions of two parcels, i.e., Parcel Nos. 3905-14-355-011 and 3905-14-305-013.

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

Ms. Stefforia reported that on June 27, 2002, the Planning Commission had granted special exception use and site plan approval for the proposed Wal-Mart store. The store would include a tire and oil change facility along with a garden center. As part of the development, the applicant is proposing to use 1,000-watt light fixtures for the parking lot pole lighting. The Ordinance, in Section 78.720, limits pole-mounted light fixtures to 400-watts. Moreover, along the north property line abutting other commercial properties, and at the entry points, the lighting levels would exceed the 0.1 foot candle limit for perimeter illumination.

Ms. Stefforia also noted that details of wall-mounted light fixtures had not been provided. Further, any pole-mounted flood lights that might be proposed for illuminating the front of the store were limited to 175 watts pursuant to the Ordinance.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed the non-use variance criteria. As to whether conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, she felt that the applicant should be questioned concerning the goal of the fixtures proposed. Further, the use of shields should be explored. She noted that the applicant would have reasonable use of the property if variances were denied.

As to substantial justice, in the past, the Township had granted variances regarding lighting limitations for commercial properties in the Drake/West Main intersection area. For example, in 1997, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance to Maple Hill Chrysler. However, with regard to that application, it was important that the variance had been granted to an existing site which pre-dated the Ordinance. She stated that the Zoning Board of Appeals had distinguished between developing areas and existing commercial areas east of U.S. 131 as to the feasibility of compliance with Ordinance limitations. In previous variances, the Zoning Board of Appeals had justified granting such variances based upon pre-existing conditions and the need to illuminate merchandise displayed outdoors. She stated that the other commercial properties in the area of the proposed Wal-Mart site comply with the Ordinance light limitations. Ms. Stefforia stated that staff did not find any unique physical circumstances which would limit or prevent compliance, and she felt that the hardship was self-created by the applicant.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, Ms. Stefforia confirmed that Meijer and Menards comply with Ordinance standards.

David Oakes was present on behalf of the applicant. He stated that the applicant was seeking 1,000-watt fixtures to meet safety and liability concerns. It was felt that the 1,000-watt fixtures would distribute light more uniformly. Further, if 400-watt fixtures were used, a greater number of poles would be needed. He stated that the applicant was willing to place shields on the fixtures located near property lines so as to prevent spillage.

Mr. Bushouse observed that, in his opinion, the 1,000-watt would have more spill than 400-watt, i.e., the 400-watt illumination would not "go as far". He also felt 1,000-watt fixtures would make the site more "bright" as observed from properties off-site.

Mr. McClung questioned the applicant as to how many poles would be needed if 400-watt fixtures were used. The applicant responded that perhaps 1-1/2 to 2 times the number of poles would be needed.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, the applicant stated that they were attempting to create an average of four foot candles on the site.

Mr. Rakowski expressed concern about light pollution, noting that a red glare could already be seen from the Meijer and Menards sites. He was not convinced that there was a need for 1,000-watt fixtures or that such fixtures would be "best" for the area.

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to flood lights on poles which would be used to illuminate the building. The applicant stated that these would comply with the 175-watt limitation.

The Chairperson observed that the Meijer and Menards stores had not seemed to have a problem complying with the 400-watt limitation in this area.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Ted Corakis stated that, in his opinion, the Board should adhere to the 400-watt limitation since Menards, Meijer, etc., comply with that standard. He felt that granting the variance would set an undesirable precedent for other users in the area.

Darlene Hohe was concerned about light pollution and urged the Board to stick to the Ordinance.

Lee Larson was also concerned about the amount of light that would be coming into his living room from this site. He felt that the lighting should be limited at the site and that four foot candles was twice what was necessary for safety purposes.

Michael Pashby expressed concern that the light would be bouncing off the site, particularly during winter months when snow was present.

April Pashby expressed concern because the property is elevated from the street grade, and a higher wattage would create a bigger effect on her property.

Pamela Larson urged the Zoning Board of Appeals to deny variance and require sharp cut-off fixtures.

Tom Brodasky recommended denial of the variance, stating that 1,000-watt fixtures would only increase light pollution from the site and that, in his opinion, an undesirable precedent would be set for others in the area by granting the variance.

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

In response to questions from the Chairperson, the applicant stated that the building would be approximately 30 feet high. The Chairperson expressed concern in that the poles would be 39 feet high, thus higher than the building. He again expressed he was not aware of any problems at other sites using the 400-watt fixtures. Mr. Rakowski agreed, stating that in his opinion, the 1,000-watt fixtures would create a halo of light over the tops of the residential buildings in the area.

Ms. Stefforia questioned the applicant as to whether the poles would be decreased in height if the 400-watt fixtures were used. Mr. Oakes responded that he did not know.

Mr. Bushouse observed that the Board had set a precedent in the past differentiating from those commercial areas west of U.S. 131. He felt that as an area which is undeveloped, it could easily comply with variance standards. He was concerned about light traveling from the property and felt that the Board should stick to the Ordinance.

Ms. Borgfjord agreed, stating she was not convinced that 1,000 watts were necessary at the site. Mr. McClung felt that it was unlikely that any theft would be deterred by 1,000 rather than 400-watt fixtures.

Mr. Rakowski moved to deny variance with regard to fixture wattage or perimeter light levels based on the following reasoning:

(1) That compliance was not unnecessarily burdensome. There would be reasonable use of the property without lighting variance.

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of denying the variance based on past precedents. There was concern that an undesirable precedent would be set for the entire area by granting variance.

(3) That there were no unique physical circumstances preventing compliance with the Ordinance.

(4) That the hardship was self-created.

Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

WAL-MART - SIGN DEVIATION - WEST SIDE OF 9TH STREET, SOUTH OF WEST MAIN (PARCELS NO. 3905-14-355-011 AND 3905-14-305-013).

The Board considered the application of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., for deviation from the sign provisions of Section 76.000 to allow a wall sign package that exceeds the number and mounting height limitations of the Ordinance; and a freestanding sign package where the primary sign exceeds the height and area allowed and the second sign deviates from placement in the area limitations.

The subject property is located on the west side of 9th Street within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification and involves portions of two parcels, i.e., Parcel Nos. 3905-14-355-011 and 3905-14-305-013.

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

Ms. Stefforia explained that the wall sign package utilized nine signs when only four are allowed. Further, the main wall sign exceeded mounting height by eight inches. As to the freestanding sign, the primary sign exceeded the area allowed by 89 square feet, i.e., 149 square feet were proposed where 60 square feet is allowed. The primary sign was proposed to be placed 13 feet from the right-of-way where a 25-foot setback is required. The height proposed was 30 feet where 20 feet is allowed. A second freestanding sign exceeding the area limitations by two square feet was proposed. Further, the Ordinance would require the second sign to be placed along 8th Street, and the applicant was proposing to place it on the north property line.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed the standards for deviation, first considering whether the deviation would be materially detrimental to property owners in the vicinity. Ms. Stefforia noted that, although it would not be materially detrimental, other owners in the area had erected signs in compliance with the former limitations of the Ordinance. Menards and Meijer both have wall signage 25 feet in height which was allowed by variance as the former height limit was 20 feet. The only property in the area which exceeds the number of signs currently allowed is grandfathered, i.e., the Menards store.

As to whether a hardship would be created, Ms. Stefforia suggested discussing lowering the Wal-Mart Always sign by eight inches. She also had a proposal for reducing the amount of wall signs to four in compliance with the Ordinance standards. It was noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals had granted Walgreens a sign deviation to exceed the number of wall signs allowed due to architectural features which made it impractical to combine the sign message into one face. The Zoning Board of Appeals had stressed that deviation was appropriate only because of the impediment caused by architectural elements.

As to whether granting deviation would be contrary to the general purposes of the section or set an adverse precedent, there was some concern about distinguishing this application from future applications.

As to the freestanding sign, other freestanding signs in the area comply with Ordinance limits on height and area. The subject property would be allowed a 60 square foot primary sign and a secondary sign totaling 30 square feet under the Ordinance provisions. Ms. Stefforia expressed that Township Staff did not find a hardship specific to this property which would warrant deviation, and she expressed concerns that other similar properties near intersections would seek similar deviations from freestanding sign limitations. She suggested that, if the applicant were willing to forego the second freestanding sign, perhaps, the Zoning Board of Appeals would find some basis for deviation to combine the area into the primary sign. She felt that it would be contrary to the purposes of the Ordinance to allow a freestanding sign, however, of more than double the area limitations.

Mr. Bushouse noted that Seeco had been denied a setback variance for its sign in this area.

The Chairperson asked for comments from the applicant, and Mr. Oakes stated that the applicant could adjust wall height so as to be in compliance with the 25-foot height limitation. Further, the applicant would alter the secondary sign to 30 square feet. After some discussion, the applicant was agreeable to reconsidering wall signage so as to total four rather than nine. There was discussion of the secondary sign which would be indicating the location of the tire and lube portion of the site. This sign would not be illuminated and would face south. There was some indication from the applicant that he would be willing to forego this sign to combine it with the primary sign at the site. Further, he was willing to limit the primary sign to comply with height limitations. Therefore, the setback and square footage of the freestanding sign were still at issue. No wall sign deviation request remains.

Mr. Bushouse expressed concern with the 149 square foot amount, noting that this would be the only "big sign" on 9th Street. He did not feel that this was appropriate since Meijer and Menards comply. Ms. Borgfjord agreed, stating that she would have a hard time granting deviation where a variance across the street for sign setback has been denied.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Helen Brodasky observed that the Planning Commission and Township spend a lot of time drafting ordinances for signage, and therefore, she was not in favor of deviation.

Vern Hoag expressed confusion about the need for the second sign.

Lee Larson stated that he felt the second sign should be allowed, or allowance for combining square footage onto one sign be given.

Pam Larson expressed concern about allowing a deviation on the square footage of the primary sign, feeling that a larger sign would result in more light pollution.

Mr. Rakowski suggested placing an arrow on the wall signage to indicate the tire and lube area and eliminate the secondary sign.

It was noted that, in the past, the Board had allowed combination of signage into one sign. Further, if the two signs were combined into one sign at 90 square feet, this would not be out of character with the area which allowed multi-tenant signs of 80 square feet.

The Chairperson agreed that it would make sense to combine the freestanding signs and locate the sign on 9th Street as far away from 8th Street as possible.

Mr. Bushouse moved to grant deviation to allow one freestanding sign located on 9th Street in compliance with the setback and height limitations of the Ordinance not to exceed 90 square feet. This deviation was premised upon elimination of the right of the property to have a second freestanding sign at the site. Mr. McClung seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

PRUDENTIAL WEST MICHIGAN REALTORS - SIGN VARIANCE IN "VC" DISTRICT - 6312 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-26-460-011)

The Board next considered the application of Steve Fase of Prudential West Michigan Realtors for a variance from Section 33.410 to allow replacement of the existing freestanding sign with a new sign proposed to be set back 10 feet from the right-of-way. The subject property is located in the "VC" Village Commercial District at 6312 Stadium Drive, and is Parcel No. 3905-26-460-011.

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

Ms. Bugge stated that the applicant was in the process of remodeling the office building at the property which formerly housed State Farm Mutual Insurance Company. Freestanding signs are not permitted in the "VC" District. Therefore, the existing freestanding sign is "grandfathered" and considered legally nonconforming. She stated that the applicant could still utilize the existing 18-foot, 50 square foot sign by replacing the sign face. Instead, the applicant was proposing to replace the existing sign with a 15-foot high pole sign having an area of 40 square feet. However, he was suggesting it be located 10 feet from the right-of-way when a 25-foot setback is required. The applicant was proposing the freestanding sign in lieu of a wall sign.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the nonuse variance criteria, noting that the applicant could comply with Ordinance standards, and conformance would not be unnecessarily burdensome.

As to substantial justice, it was noted that the Board had granted two variances within the Village Commercial District to allow ground-mounted freestanding signs due to the setback of existing buildings. There were no unique physical circumstances, and the hardship was self-created.

The Chairperson asked for comments from the applicant.

Steve Fase stated that it was felt that a sign variance would allow the applicant to upgrade, not only the building, but the look of the sign. He felt that it was significant that the proposed sign was smaller and lower. The sign in question was currently in storage, and the applicant felt it would be more attractive than replacing the sign face of the existing sign.

Ms. Stefforia inquired whether the applicant had considered a ground-mounted sign. He stated that his management team likes the look of their existing sign in storage.

Ms. Bugge expressed concern that other applicants had been granted a variance based upon the distance of the building from the abutting street. Additionally, this site was unique in that it had an existing freestanding sign, and therefore, there might be some incentive to bring the sign into closer compliance with Ordinance standards. Board members felt that there might be some reasoning to grant a variance for a ground-mounted freestanding sign.

Mr. Bushouse commented that he would like to see the proposed signage more in compliance with the character of the area. He felt that ground-mounted would meet the objectives of the Township in the Village Commercial District. He also felt that ground-mounted signage was more in keeping with the Stadium Drive area. He was also concerned about setting an adverse precedent.

The applicant indicated that he would be in favor of tabling the item to explore the signage possibilities.

Ms. Borgfjord moved to table the item to a special meeting to be scheduled for August 5, 2002. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

CHINESE CHRISTIAN CHURCH - SITE PLAN REVIEW - 5334 PARKVIEW AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-455-110)

The Board considered the application of the Kalamazoo Chinese Christian Church for site plan review of a proposed 2,528 square foot addition to the existing church facility at 5334 Parkview Avenue. The subject property is in the "R-2" Residence District zoning classification, and is Parcel No. 3905-25-455-110.

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

Ms. Bugge stated that the site currently has a 4,550 square foot church established on site. The addition would be used for fellowship and educational purposes. The existing parking lot would be expanded slightly. She observed, however, that the site plan did not comply with Ordinance standards as to size of all spaces. Except those which would be handicapped accessible, parking spaces are required to be 10 feet by 20 feet. She suggested a revised site plan be required for Township Staff review and approval. Further, the lot would need to be re-striped in accordance with the approved plan. The applicant as proposing deferral of 44 parking spaces because, the applicant reasoned, both areas of the building would not be used at the same time. Landscaping provisions would require parking lot landscaping if the parking lot were altered in the future.

Dave VanDyke spoke on behalf of the applicant, stating that the Church needed additional space. There was discussion of Township Engineer requirements with regard to drainage, and Ms. Bugge suggested that the applicant speak to the Engineer regarding his proposals.

No public comment was offered on the item, and the public hearing was closed.

Ms. Borgfjord asked the applicant whether daycare would be provided at the site, and it was indicated that it would not be.

Ms. Borgfjord moved to grant the site plan approval with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) No access change was proposed.

(2) All parking must conform to Section 68.000 with spaces dimensioned at 10 feet by 20 feet. A revised site plan showing compliance with the section must be submitted to Township Staff for review and approval. The existing lot shall be re-striped in conformance with the approved plan. Further, deferral of the 44 spaces, subject to Section 68.420, was granted.

(3) All lighting must comply with Section 78.700 of the Zoning Ordinance and be subject to Township Staff review and approval.

(4) The site plan approval was subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements of the Township Fire Department pursuant to adopted codes.

(5) Approval was subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements of the Township Engineer.

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

LA RUE'S FAMILY RESTAURANT - PARKING VARIANCE - 6375 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-26-465-072)

The Board considered the application of Dave LaRue on behalf of LaRue's Family Restaurant for a variance from the provisions of Section 33.406 to allow a parking lot expansion, placing additional parking spaces between the building and the front property line and in the side yard. The subject property is located at 6375 Stadium Drive, within the "VC" Village Commercial District. The property is Parcel No. 3905-26-465-072.

The applicant was acquiring additional property by land contract and would eventually combine this property with the parcel on which the Restaurant was located. The Applicant was providing additional perimeter and internal landscaping to bring the site into compliance with the landscaping provisions of the Village Commercial District.

Ms. Stefforia stated that she felt that the subject property was somewhat unique in that it had public street frontage on all but one property line. This caused the site to have significant front yard and only one side yard or rear yard. As to whether conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, given existing building setbacks on Stadium Drive and Parkview Avenue and the facility layout, it was reasonable for parking expansion to be located as proposed. In fact, there were no other areas available on the site to accommodate a parking expansion. She suggested the Board consider if the use had out-grown the property.

As to substantial justice, Ms. Stefforia observed that this was the first request for a variance from the parking placement provisions of the Village Commercial District. She cautioned the Board to distinguish this property from others in the District, if a variance is to be granted.

With regard to unique physical circumstances, it was felt that the subject property was unique, having street frontage on three sides.

The applicant was present, stating that with his current restaurant operation, he often had available tables but no parking. He also wanted to increase the size of the wash room. Ultimately in the future, only 25 more seats would be created. He felt this proposed parking expansion would be adequate for the proposed future addition.

He stressed that he had spoken with his neighbor for the new parking area, who had indicated he wanted a white fence established at the east property line. This fence was already in place.

The Chairperson observed that he felt the expanded parking would be an "improvement" due to how busy the restaurant often was.

Mr. Bushouse commented that he felt that the parcel was a unique shape, and the fact that it had so much frontage would allow it to be distinguished from other potential applicants in the future.

Ted Corakis commented that he had no problem with the Board granting the variance.

The public hearing was closed, and Mr. McClung moved to grant variance based upon the reasoning that compliance was unnecessarily burdensome and the uniqueness of the property with frontage on three sides. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Millard Loy, Chairperson
By:
Stanley Rakowski
By:
Dave Bushouse
By:
Grace Borgfjord
By:
Duane McClung

Minutes Prepared:
July 19, 2002

Minutes Approved:
, 2002