OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING HELD

JULY 31, 1997

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MAPLE HILL MALL/WOTV - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN AMENDMENT - 3-DAY USED CAR SALES EVENT - 5050 WEST MAIN

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A special meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, July 31, 1997, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Marvin Block
Ted Corakis
Lara Meeuwse
Millard Loy
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

Member Absent: Ken Heisig

Also present were Becky Harvey (after 7:30 p.m.) and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, James W. Porter, Township Attorney, and approximately six (6) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

Mr. Corakis moved to approve the agenda as submitted. Mr. Block seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for discussion and, hearing none, called for a vote. The motion carried unanimously.

MAPLE HILL MALL/WOTV - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN AMENDMENT - 3-DAY USED CAR SALES EVENT - 5050 WEST MAIN

The Chairperson indicated the next item on the agenda was consideration of the application of Gary Baxter on behalf of WOTV and Maple Hill Mall for special exception use/ site plan amendment as to outdoor display and sales activity. The applicant seeks to allow for a three-day used car sales event in the north side parking lot of Maple Hill Mall. The subject site is located at 5050 West Main and is situated in the NE¼ of Land Section 13 within the

"C-1" Local Business District Zoning classification.

The Chairperson said that before opening it up to the public he would like to have a report from Mr. West of the Planning and Zoning Department. Mr. West directed the Commission members to page 2 of the Planning and Zoning Department's report. He said the report indicated that there was going to be no use of electricity but that there was now a slight modification in that proposal. He stated that some electrical services were requested and suggested if any electrical service was approved that it be subject to review and approval by the Fire Department and the Township Electrical Building Inspector.

Mr. West next directed the Commission to page 4 of the report. He indicated that the best estimate of the number of designated parking spaces needed was 671. He said that they conflicted slightly with the remaining spaces needed for the mall but that it appeared to be adequate.

Mr. West then directed the Commission to page 5 of the report and noted that they should pay particular attention to the directional signage in order to maintain consistency with past uses of a similar nature.

The Chairperson then asked the applicant to address the Commission. Mr. Baxter of WOTV asked the Commission if there was any additional information that they would like from him. The Chairperson stated that the Commission had received the application and the sketch and that perhaps there were some specific items that could be addressed.

Ms. Meeuwse asked why it referenced the second annual ABC 41 used car sale. Mr. Baxter said they had had a previous sale last year at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds. He explained to the Commission that the event was currently planned for the next five years and that the applicant would like to have continuing approval for the event under the same conditions on an annual basis.

The Chairperson asked if the event would occur at the same time the following year. Mr. Baxter said that it would and indicated that the proposal was to have the used car sale on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday in August.

Mr. Block asked if the cars would be removed by Saturday and Sunday. Mr. Baxter said he thought that most of the cars would be out by Saturday and that the remaining cars would be removed Sunday or Monday. He said that many of the car dealerships use the same people to drive their cars and, therefore, might need some additional time for removing the vehicles.

The Chairperson then asked when cars might begin arriving at the annual event. Mr. Baxter said that some cars would arrive the Wednesday evening prior to the sale but that most of the cars would arrive Thursday morning. The Chairperson then clarified by saying that the vehicles would come in the day before and be removed no later than two days after the event. Mr. Baxter concurred with this statement.

The Chairperson asked if all of the vehicles were fully operational. Mr. Baxter said yes.

The Chairperson then asked what the proposed electrical connections were to be used for. Mr. Baxter said that two dealers proposed bringing in large RVs and wanted to have electrical connection to the electrical boxes currently located on the exterior of the mall. He said that they were not comfortable with overhead wiring and proposed 1¼" PVC tubing with 2 x 4's on the side to allow vehicles to pass over the conduits. He indicated that the area in which they were to be located were not in the regular pattern for pedestrian traffic and did not believe they would be a hazard. Mr. Corakis asked if this had been approved by the electrical inspector. Mr. Baxter indicated that it had not yet received approval of the Fire Chief or the electrical inspector. Ms. Meeuwse asked if they would be providing electricity to all of the tents. Mr. Baxter said they would not.

The Chairperson then raised a question as to the number of vehicles being displayed or the number of slots being dedicated to the event. Mr. Baxter said that each dealer was going to bring between 30-90 vehicles and, with eight dealers, it added up to approximately 470 cars for this event. The Chairperson asked if the applicant had surveyed the dealers to make sure they knew exactly how many cars were coming. Mr. Baxter said that last year at the fair they had 844 vehicles. He said that is why they had requested 844 slots behind the mall and that, if necessary, they had reached an agreement to use part of Montgomery Ward's parking but that, with the number of vehicles coming to the event being proposed at 470 cars, he did not believe they would have to approach Montgomery Ward for additional parking.

The Chairperson asked if there were further questions. Ms. Meeuwse asked about the directional signs arrows to the site. Mr. Baxter said there would be two directional signs arrows on Maple Hill Drive and two on Drake Road. Mr. Loy asked how large the proposed directional signs would be. Mr. Baxter said they were proposing a 3' x 8' directional sign arrow indicating used car sale - public parking. Mr. Loy then asked how far off the ground these signs would be, and Mr. Baxter stated he thought approximately 2'. The Chairperson asked for clarification on the location, and the applicant said that the proposed directional signs would be at the corner of West Main and Maple Hill Drive, West Main and Drake Road, and to the rear of the parking area on the corners of the mall site and Maple Hill Drive and the mall site and Drake Road.

The Chairperson asked where there would be parking for the people coming to the event. Mr. Baxter said it would be on the north side of the parking lot three cars deep, six cars per row, as outlined in the sketch plan submitted. Ms. Meeuwse asked what they would do if the event parking filled up. The applicant said they had overflow parking to the east or to the west. The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions of the applicant. Hearing none, he opened the floor to questions from the public and, hearing none, then closed the public portion of the meeting and asked the Commission to proceed with its deliberations.

The Chairperson gave a brief overview of his understanding of the applicant's request. He said he believed that the applicant was requesting an annual event to be held the first weekend in August for the purpose of having an outdoor used car sale at Maple Hill Mall. He said he believed the applicant was requesting approval for 844 vehicles and that the vehicles would arrive one day prior to the event and be gone two days after the event.

The Chairperson suggested that the Commission proceed with going through the provisions of Section 60.100 of the Zoning Ordinance.

First, will the proposal be compatible with other uses permitted in the "C-1" District? The Chairperson said they have approved numerous events similar to this involving the sale of merchandise. He said he thought it was most compatible in the "C-1" District and did not see a problem with what was being proposed. The Commission concurred.

Second, will the proposal negatively impact adjacent properties? The Chairperson said that the applicant was not erecting anything. He did not think they would negatively impact the surrounding properties. Ms. Meeuwse did point out that they were putting up tents, to which the Chairperson said that they were temporary. It was noted that, while they would have electricity, it would only be on a temporary basis. The Chairperson also noted that the Commission could subject approval of the electrical hookups to final inspection and approval by the Fire Department and the Township Electrical Inspector. Therefore, the Chairperson thought that it would not have a negative impact upon adjacent properties. The Commission concurred.

Third, will the proposal promote the public health, safety and welfare of the community? The Chairperson said he thought that the applicant's request for the most part complied with all of the Township Ordinances and that the only real question he had was over the number of parking spaces that they were actually requesting to use. He said that the hours of operation were compatible with the current mall operation and did not believe that would present a problem.

Ms. Meeuwse asked about nighttime security. Mr. Baxter said that the mall security had agreed to patrol the vehicles and that he thought the area was well lit and that security would not be a problem.

The Chairperson again indicated that he believed the application complied with the Ordinances and would not be inconsistent with the mall operation and that, given the fact that the applicant agreed to be in compliance with the Fire Department requirements and have security provided on site, he believed it would promote the public health, safety and welfare of the community. The Commission concurred.

Fourth, will the proposal encourage use of land in the area in accordance with its character and adaptability? The Chairperson then asked the Commission to consider the following: dates and hours of operation, signage, lighting and noise.

Ms. Cogswell said she wanted to make sure that the applicant did not block the line of sight for those individuals coming to or leaving from the proposed event. Ms. Meeuwse pointed out that the proposed sign size that the applicant has suggested did not meet the Ordinance requirements for directional signs. Ms. Meeuwse suggested making them comply with the sign requirements of the Ordinance and subject approval of the proposed special exception use to that condition. Mr. Baxter indicated that the banners had not yet been made so they could be flexible on that issue.

The Chairperson also said he would like it noted that the signs should only be up during the three days of the actual event, not during setup or teardown.

The Chairperson verified that there would be no additional lighting, to which the applicant answered affirmatively. The Chairperson said he did not believe that noise would be a problem because he did not believe that cars being located in the parking lot of Maple Hill Mall would be distinguishable from cars that were at the mall for purposes of shopping.

The Chairperson asked if there would be any loud speakers or any type of noise of that kind. Mr. Baxter indicated there would not. Ms. Meeuwse asked if WOTV would have a stand there promoting the television station. Mr. Baxter said that they would not and that the event was solely to promote the sale of the used vehicles.

The Chairperson then asked how the local dealers would be identified. Mr. Baxter indicated there would be 8'-tall standard base signs located along the front of the display of vehicles in the parking lot area.

Becky Harvey entered the meeting.

See Section 31.403, Vehicle Sales Lots. See tThe proposed parking arrangement appears appeared adequate for the used car sales event.

The Chairperson said he thought the proposal would be in accordance with the character and adaptability of the property. He said the only concern he had was about the number of vehicles being proposed by the applicant. He said that the current number of cars proposed for the 1997 event could adequately be housed on the site. However, he said he would be concerned if they went to 844 cars, for which they appeared to be requesting approval.

Mr. West clarified for the Commission that they needed to be talking about total spaces, i.e., number of spaces for the used cars, spaces for designated attendee parking, as well as overflow parking and buffer area. Mr. West said he believed that the Planning Department was comfortable with 671 spaces and that they were not necessarily suggesting that the Commission approve the 844 spaces at this time. The Chairperson thanked Mr. West for his explanation.

A brief discussion then ensued regarding total number of spaces currently being requested by the applicant. Mr. West clarified that, if the applicant was able to obtain more parking spaces from Montgomery Ward, they might be able to increase the total number of parking spaces allotted to the event; but he recommended that the Commission use the 671 figure as a basis for their approval. The Chairperson asked if they could add 171 spaces to the proposed event. Mr. West said that they could if they obtained additional parking from Montgomery Ward. Mr. Baxter pointed out to the Commission that north and northeast of Montgomery Ward there were parking spaces that were available if needed for future events. Mr. Loy said he thought the Commission should go ahead and approve the 671 allotted parking spaces and that, if the applicant came back and had written approval from Montgomery Ward, they could increase the number of parking spaces allotted to this event. Mr. West said they did want to make sure that the event did not encroach upon the cinema or Gordon's but that their ability to control where people parked was somewhat limited. However, he said there appeared to be adequate buffer area provided for this event. He did know, however, that if they added 171 vehicles it would significantly reduce this buffer and it would cause the Planning Commission some concern.

The Chairperson said he thought they should follow the Planning Commission's recommendation and stick to approving 671 designated parking spaces. Ms. Meeuwse agreed. Mr. Loy said he thought it might be okay to increase the number of slots but only if they received written approval from Montgomery Ward.

Mr. Corakis asked if they could later come to the Planning Commission to request use of additional parking spaces. Ms. Meeuwse inquired as to whether or not the Planning Commission could give the Planning Department the latitude to increase the event to 844 designated parking spaces. Attorney Porter indicated that the Planning Commission was allowed to attach certain conditions when granting special exception uses and believed that they could provide some discretion to the Planning Department to increase the number of parking spaces for the event. He said that, since the Commission was approving the special exception use for outdoor retail sales, a minor change in the number of allotted parking spaces would be something that could be left within the discretion of the Planning Department without further review.

The Chairperson said he thought the Commission should approve 671 designated parking spaces but delegate the authority to increase the number of spaces up to 844 to the Planning Department; subject, however, to maximum limitation of 844 designated parking spaces.

The Chairperson said the next item for consideration was whether the proposed used car sales event met the setback standards. There was general agreement that it met the 20' setback from the north, 120' from the centerline of Drake Road, 70' from Maple Hill Drive West and 170' from the centerline of West Main Street.

The Chairperson said the next issue was consideration of Section 31.403g, which dealt with traffic patterns, whether or not they would pose a severe impact on vehicular and pedestrian traffic at the mall. The Chairperson said he thought that it would have no adverse impact on vehicle or pedestrian traffic since they were simply parking cars in an existing parking lot and that they had adequately provided for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The Commission concurred.

The Chairperson said that the next issue was consideration of the site plan review under Section 82.800. The Chairperson said the first issue to consider was whether or not (a) the proposed access, parking and traffic circulation in the area of the used car sales event was adequate. The Chairperson said he agreed with the Planning Department's conclusion that the existing entrances and drives associated with the mall, the cinema and Gordon Food Service would remain uninterrupted and therefore appeared adequate. The Commission concurred.

The Chairperson said that the sponsor tents, banner signs and cars as proposed would be located within designated parking rows and spaces and were only temporary and therefore would not prove to be a problem to circulation or parking in the area.

The Chairperson said the next issue was whether there were adequate spaces for the patrons of Maple Hill Mall and the cinema, as well as Gordon Food Service. A brief discussion ensued regarding the number of spaces allotted to the mall. Mr. West indicated that there was only a minor shortfall of approximately 40 spaces if the event was approved as proposed, and he thought that that total number was insignificant.

The Commission felt that the used car event would not encroach upon the neighboring property of Gordon Food Service or the Maple Hill cinema.

The Chairperson said the next issue to address was whether there would be any adverse effects upon adjacent property owners and occupants. He said that, in considering the same, he noted that there was not going to be any additional lighting. Directional signage would be allowed, but they would have to comply with Sections 76.125 and 76.136. The Chairperson said the only other option would be for the applicant to seek a variance but that the Planning Commission could not grant such a variance; therefore, they would have to maintain their signage in accordance with the Ordinance.

Ms. Meeuwse asked whether or not they could have a larger sign under the Ordinance as set forth under Section 76.125. Ms. Harvey said that Section 76.125 dealt with permitted the existing permanent signs and that this was only temporary in nature would not allow additional free-standing signage. She said she thought they could have the wall signage on a temporary basis as set forth in Section 76.136 but that the directional signage would have to comply with the smaller directional signs allowed.

The Chairperson said the next issue was consideration of the minimization of adverse effects from the proposal and review previous Planning Commission discussions regarding the nature of the proposed outdoor display and sale of merchandise and the conditions of previous approvals. The Chairperson said again, since the use was temporary, that any adverse effects would be minimal and also that the proposed site was well buffered from adjoining properties.

Ms. Meeuwse asked that the Fire Department be encouraged to be vigilant in enforcing the prohibition against parking within the fire lane adjacent to the mall.

The Chairperson said the next issue to consider was item f, making approval subject to Township Fire Department review and approval. The Commission concurred.

The Chairperson said they needed to consider whether the proposed used car sales event is consistent with promoting the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the Township. The Chairperson said he thought it did promote the general health, safety and welfare of the Township and encouraged shopping in the community. The Commission concurred.

The Chairperson asked if there were any further comments and, hearing none, said he would entertain a motion. Ms. Meeuwse moved to grant the special exception use with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That the proposed use was compatible with other uses in the "C-1" District.

(2) That the proposed use would not negatively impact adjacent properties.

(3) That the proposed use would promote the public health, safety and welfare of the community in that it is in compliance with the Ordinance, in compliance with Fire Department concerns and in that there would be adequate provision for security.

(4) That the proposal encourages the use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability in that it is going to be used Thursday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; the use is compatible with the existing uses on the property.

(5) That the signage would be in compliance with Township Ordinances and approved by the Planning Department.

(6) That no additional lighting was proposed.

(7) That no extraordinary noises not otherwise associated with the parking of vehicles would be noticeable offsite.

(8) That the event would be an annual event for the purpose of used vehicle sales and would take place the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday in August.

(9) That the proposed parking arrangement is adequate for the used car sales event for up to 671 spaces for 470 used cars, 54 attendee parking spaces, 102 spaces for overflow parking and 55 spaces to serve as a buffer; approval is subject to the condition that, if the applicant can acquire additional spaces from other property owners, the Planning Department has the authority to approve an increase in the total number of spaces used for future events.

(10) That the activities associated with the used car event would meet the setback standards from all property lines.

(11) That traffic patterns and loading and unloading activities would not have an adverse impact on vehicular or pedestrian traffic at Maple Hill Mall.

(12) That, in addition to the actual days of the used car sales event, the applicant shall be allowed one day prior to the event to set up and two days following the event to tear down and remove the vehicles.

Mr. Corakis seconded the motion.

The Chairperson then opened the motion for public comment and, hearing none, closed the public portion of the meeting and asked for deliberation by the Commission.

Ms. Harvey again asked for clarification on the total of parking approved. The Chairperson said he thought what they were approving was 671 allotted parking spaces. If access could be opened to other areas, parking could be increased to a total of 844 allotted parking spaces subject, however, to Planning Department review and approval for anything in excess of the 671 allotted parking spaces.

Mr. Corakis asked what would happen if the applicant could not hold the event the first weekend in August. The Chairperson said that it would not be approved. Mr. Corakis suggested perhaps allowing them to hold the event any time in the month of August. Ms. Meeuwse said she thought they should specify that it be the first weekend in August. Mr. Loy said they had already planned dates for five years in advance and thought that the Commission should stick with the approved dates.

The Chairperson called for further discussion and, hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

The Chairperson then said he would entertain a motion with regard to the site plan. Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the site plan in that it:

(a) provided for adequate access, parking and traffic circulation in the area of the used car sales event. This is supported by the fact that the existing entrances and drives associated with Maple Hill Mall, Maple Hill cinema and Gordon Food Service were to remain uninterrupted; also, the tents, banner signs and cars were proposed to be located within a designated parking area in allotted spaces. There was adequate parking for patrons of Maple Hill Mall and the cinema and Gordon Food Service would be maintained in that the applicant is currently requesting use of 671 spaces and that same would not be increased without further review and approval from the Planning Department;

(b) would result in approximately 2,967 remaining parking spaces for the mall, which would be in compliance with the number required by the Ordinance;

(c) would not encroach upon the neighboring Gordon Food Service property;

(d) would not adversely effect upon adjacent property owners in that there would be no additional lighting, and the electricity being provided to two of the vendors would be subject to Fire Department and the electrical inspector's review and approval. Further, directional signage would be required to comply with Township Ordinances. Wall signage would have to be reviewed and approved by the Planning Department subject to Sections 76.125 and 76.136;

(e) would have a minimum adverse effect upon the surrounding area and would be consistent with previous approvals for outdoor sales and display of merchandise;

(f) is subject to review and approval by the Township Fire Department;

(g) is consistent with the promotion of public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community;

Mr. Loy seconded the motion.

The Chairperson then called for discussion. Mr. Loy asked if the directional signs would comply with Township Ordinances. The Chairperson said he believed that they must comply with such Ordinances. Ms. Cogswell said she had concerns about the hookup to the electrical as proposed. She wondered whether or not it would be a tripping hazard. The Chairperson said he thought that the way they had proposed to install the electrical hookups the lines would run parallel with the pedestrian walkways and therefore did not believe many people would be crossing over the electrical conduits and therefore did not believe it would be any type of hazard.

The Chairperson opened the motion up for public discussion and, hearing none, closed the motion to public discussion and asked for further Commission deliberations. Hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

OTHER BUSINESS/ADJOURNMENT

The Chairperson asked if there was any further business to come before the Planning Commission. Hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at approximately 8:25 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

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