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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

June 24, 1999

 

Agenda

REZONING REQUEST - STADIUM DRIVE - SCHRAMM

DRAKE ROAD REZONING - SEELBINDER - PUBLIC HEARING

SELECT PUBLIC HEARING DATE - HOPE WOODS - 5713, 5701 AND 5749 STADIUM DRIVE

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, June 24, 1999, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

MEMBERS PRESENT:
Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Marvin Block
Millard Loy
Ted Corakis
Stanley Rakowski

MEMBERS ABSENT:
Ken Heisig
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and eleven (11) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

The Chairperson suggested adding, under "Other Business," the dias reshuffle.

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

MINUTES

The Planning Commission discussed the minutes of the meeting of June 2, 1999. A revision to remove a typographical error on page 1 was suggested. Mr. Corakis suggested a change to page 6 to indicate more detail as to Mr. Mohmand’s questions to the Planning Commission. Mr. Block moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of June 10, 1999. Ms. Bugge suggested a rewording of the third paragraph from the bottom on page 2.

Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Loy seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

REZONING REQUEST - STADIUM DRIVE - SCHRAMM

The Planning Commission considered the rezoning request of Richard Schramm for parcels 3905-34-185-040, -050 and -060 from "I-1" Industrial to "C" or "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The Planning Commission also considered rezoning from "I-1" to "C" or "C-1" for the entire of parcels 3905-34-255-010 and -022, as well as the first 660’ of depth from Stadium Drive on parcels 3905-34-255-028 and -030. The properties are located on the south side of Stadium Drive in Land Section 34. The Planning Commission would also consider amendments to Master Land Use Plan to reclassify the property from the Industrial to the Commercial classification.

The Chairperson reminded the Planning Commission that Mr. Schramm had requested rezoning for three parcels at the southwest corner of 7th Street and Stadium Drive from "I-1" to "C" Local Business District. The Planning Commission had expanded the area for consideration. The public hearing on the item had been conducted on January 22, 1998. The Planning Commission recommended denial of the requested rezoning. The Township Board considered the matter on June 23, 1998. Following a discussion, the Township Board referred the matter back to the Planning Commission. The motion requested that the Planning Commission consider expanding the area south to the AT&T right-of-way for Commercial and other zones. Trustee Bushouse had also asked that the Planning Commission look at the size of the applicant’s parcels to determine if they were buildable.

Reconsideration of the rezoning request was delayed pending completion of a comprehensive study on the Master Land Use Plan regarding its Industrial Land Use policies.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia stated that she had examined the buildability issue for the parcels and that, under the existing setbacks, none of the three could comply with either the setbacks required in the "I" or the "C" Districts without a variance. The parcels could comply with residential setbacks, but she felt it was not practical to rezone them to a Residential District in that residential development was unlikely.

Mr. Schramm was present, stating that he had a site plan which showed his parcel was buildable due to the fact that the property had received a setback variance in 1989. Mr. Schramm stated that it was his intent to put offices on the site. He felt that the subject property was surrounded by commercial uses. The Chairperson pointed out that the Deere dealership is a special exception use within the Industrial District.

Mrs. Char Schramm stated that she was concerned about having had to wait a year and a half for a decision. Further, she stressed that RollerWorld needs Commercial zoning in order to make it a conforming use. She stated that the owner would like to expand his use. In her opinion, the Heslinga business was not "farm equipment" but rather lawn and garden equipment. She felt the use would fit within the Commercial District. She noted that the Sky King/Lake Michigan Mailers property was being developed, and she had obtained information on the Internet that they offer accounting services. She felt that this was an office use. Mrs. Schramm stated that the Township Board had felt it would not make sense to have Industrial zoning or development on such a small parcel.

Brian Maloney was present, stating that he was the owner of the RollerWorld property. He stated that the use had been on the site since 1957 and caters to children 13 years and under. Mr. Maloney was concerned that the zoning of his property limited his ability to expand or modify his use. He felt he could not modify the use because it was nonconforming. He would not be able to rebuild the use should it be destroyed more than 50%.

Mr. Schramm said that he had had difficulty in developing the property in accord with the uses allowed in the Industrial District. He felt that the Township had spot zoned to allow certain uses in certain locations, citing the Keystone property. He felt that "R-3" or Commercial zoning would be appropriate for his property.

There were no other comments, and the Chairperson stated that the Zoning Ordinance did not deprive the RollerWorld owner of the ability to repair and maintain his property. However, Mr. Corakis stated that he could understand the owner’s concern that, if the property were destroyed, he would not obtain a return on his investment.

There was discussion of the Heslinga use, and it was noted that this use could be made in the Commercial District but it would prevent the use from having outdoor storage. Township Planning Commission members did not believe that there was currently any outdoor storage at the Heslinga property.

There was discussion of the delay in the application. It was noted that the applicant had requested some delay between the public hearing of the Planning Commission and the consideration of the item by the Township Board so as to build his case for the Township Board. This delay accounted for approximately six months. The additional delay at the Planning Commission was as a result of the Planning Commission’s need to study its existing Industrial Land Use policies in order to respond to the questions and concerns of the Township Board.

Ms. Stefforia confirmed that a 30’ setback variance from 7th Street had been granted to the property in 1989.

The Chairperson stated that there had been a change in the vicinity of this property since the initial request. Two parcels east of the RollerWorld property were being developed consistent with the uses allowed in the Industrial District. The use was a mail-processing business, which is industrial rather than commercial. Further, the Lake Michigan Mailers site was part of an industrial site condominium project with six lots.

The Chairperson read from the initial recommendation of the Planning Commission concerning the property. He noted that the Master Land Use Plan policies call for concentration of Industrial zoning in two major areas, one of which is in this area. After study, it was still the Planning Commission’s belief that the Master Land Use Plan should not call for an expansion or a diminishment of Industrial zoning in this area. The Chairperson was concerned that a rezoning of 3-4 parcels in this area would create a "spot" of Commercial zoning. Mr. Corakis was concerned that this is a small parcel and not large enough to establish an industrial use. However, he could not see rezoning the property due to the Sky King Industrial Site Condominium project.

Mr. Rakowski was bothered by the nonconforming use status of the RollerWorld property and the limitation on the expansion of the owner’s business. There was a discussion of the intent of Michigan law concerning nonconforming use provisions within zoning ordinances. It was stressed that Michigan law, and the nonconforming use provisions authorized thereby, are intended to eliminate nonconforming uses within zoning districts.

The Chairperson reminded the Planning Commission that a major issue within the Master Land Use Plan was the goal of maintaining the vitality of the Village Focus Area.

At one time there had been consideration of expanding the Village Focus Area to 8th Street. However, that expansion was not recommended due to the feeling that it would negatively impact the vitality of the Village District.

Mr. Loy noted the Commercial node west of 5th Street. He felt that, if another Commercial node were established, it would jeopardize the vitality of the Commercial property at 5th Street and lead to an expansion of Commercial zoning along the strip. This would result in a loss of available Industrial property.

Again there was discussion of the dilemma of the RollerWorld property. Planning Commission members were reminded that at one time there had been discussion of amending the Industrial text to allow for indoor recreational facilities. It was felt that the appearance of such buildings was compatible and in character with industrial uses. Planning Commission members agreed that an amendment to the Industrial District to allow indoor recreational facilities as a special use would be appropriate. The Chairperson asked that the text change be added to the Planning Commission’s work plan.

Mr. Loy moved to recommend denial of the rezoning, reiterating the reasons set forth in the initial recommendation of the Planning Commission and the comments made by Planning Commissioners at the instant meeting.

Mr. Block seconded the motion. There was no public comment offered on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

DRAKE ROAD REZONING - SEELBINDER - PUBLIC HEARING

The Planning Commission next considered rezoning of all or part of 14 parcels on the west side of Drake Road between H Avenue and Beech Road from "R-2" Residential to "R-3" Residential. The following parcel numbers were included: 3905-12-230-051, -055; 3905-12-280-011, -015, -020, -030, -040, -050, -060, -070; 3905-12-430-011, -020, -030, -040. The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the application received from the Seelbinders concerned 2215 N. Drake. The area for consideration had been expanded by the Planning Commission. All 14 properties were used for residential purposes with the exception of the nursery business. The "R-3" zoning would not render any of the uses nonconforming. Residential uses were allowed in the "R-3" zone and, in addition, offices.

The applicant was present, along with James Bauhof, attorney for the applicants, the Seelbinders. Attorney Bauhof presented some history behind the application, stating that Mrs. Seelbinder had a housecleaning business. He claimed that she called the Township and was told that the use would be allowed on the subject property. In attorney Bauhof’s opinion, no one would know that a business was being conducted at the property. The Township Attorney and the Zoning Board of Appeals had expressed an opinion that the use was not a home occupation. He disagreed with that interpretation. In order to determine if the conflict could be resolved through rezoning, the Zoning Board of Appeals had tabled the item.

It was noted that there was "R-4" zoning to the north and "R-3" zoning at the corner of Drake Road and H Avenue.

Mr. Bauhof stated that the applicants had obtained a petition signed by as many of the neighbors as they could find, and he stated that all owners north of the Seelbinder property had signed the petition in support of rezoning. Some users south of the Seelbinders had signed the petition, and others did not want their property rezoned.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Trudy Moon, owner of the property to the south of the Seelbinders, stated that she had not noticed a business was being run on the property. However, she was concerned about rezoning properties south of the Seelbinder property in that all are used for residential purposes. Further, there was a 22-acre parcel next door to her property for sale, and she was concerned that the 22 acres would accommodate large office buildings which would negatively impact the quality of life in the area. In response to questions by the Chairperson, Ms. Moon stated that the high school’s practice soccer field was located across from her property.

Jody Yaple stated that her property, south of the Seelbinders, was a century farmhouse. She felt the area south of the Seelbinder property was residential in character and that offices would be inappropriate. She had no problem with the Seelbinder use. However, she felt that this type of use did not belong in this neighborhood and that the neighborhood should not be changed to accommodate one business.

John Albert, the owner of a home south of the Seelbinder property, at the "end" of Grand Prairie, was opposed to the rezoning. He stated that he had been a resident of the area for the last 53 years and liked the residential character. He felt the Seelbinder use had not negatively impacted his property, but he disagreed with rezoning of the area.

Christine Yaple opposed the "R-3" zoning. She was especially concerned about the 22 acres for sale which could be used for huge office buildings or student housing. Although she did not feel the Seelbinder use affected her property, she did not think the business qualified as a home occupation under the Township Zoning Ordinance. She was concerned about the traffic which would be generated by uses allowed in the "R-3" District and the increasing likelihood of accidents.

Linda Dunn, who lives on the north side of Grand Prairie and south of the Seelbinder property, felt the rezoning should be denied in order to protect the quality of life in the area.

Tim Smith, who was directly south of the Seelbinder property, would like to see the area left as is. He had not noticed any activity from the Seelbinder property which would indicate a business was being operated. He did feel, however, that the property north of the Seelbinder property was in "transition" and he cited the Niewoonder business which generates a lot of noise.

Kelly Seelbinder spoke, stating that she and her husband had gone door to door to talk with the neighbors. Mrs. Seelbinder stated that they liked the rural setting and did not want the character of the area changed. Mrs. Seelbinder stressed that they were not seeking a change in any other property but theirs. She made reference to the petition signed by the neighbors in the area which had been submitted to the Planning Commission by her attorney. Mrs. Seelbinder felt that "R-3" zoning would be in character with the residential use. In addition, there were a few small businesses on the properties north of her parcel. She felt the 22 acres could still be developed in an "R-2" zoning district, which would generate as much activity as if the "R-3" zoning were applied. She felt that the best scenario would be to go from her property northward with rezoning.

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, Mrs. Seelbinder stated that her housecleaning business has 7-9 employees, 3-4 of which were full time. She stated that 3-4 people work on any one day and show up at the property and leave their cars. The employee cars are parked in the back yard on a gravel drive. The employees then take one of two business vehicles. Mrs. Seelbinder did not plan on much growth for the business. In addition to the employees meeting on site, she has an office in which she does paperwork, payroll, etc.

David Seelbinder was present, stating that he had planted approximately 275 trees on the property since he had moved in. He envisioned planting more trees. He and his wife wanted to keep the business small and their property extremely private.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the business did not qualify as a home occupation because it had employees who reported to the site.

The public hearing was closed, and the Chairperson described the uses allowed within the "R-2" and "R-3" Districts. He noted that the Master Land Use Plan called for the property to be "Residential." Again, the "R-3" zoning at the corner of H Avenue and the property to the south in the "R-4" District were noted. The Chairperson stated that some of the reasons the Planning Commission had suggested expanding the area for consideration were the changes in the area and the uses adjacent to this property. Further, it was recognized that there was a high school across the street.

The Chairperson noted that one person who had signed the petition, Lisa Burge, had written a letter to the Township, stating that she favors rezoning. Owners of property south of the Seelbinder property had signed a letter indicating that they did not favor the rezoning, i.e., Mary Mannes, York and Bernice Duffy, Leon and Lisa Watson.

The Chairperson emphasized that the Planning Commission should not consider the Seelbinder use but all those uses which would be allowed in the "R-3" District.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed "scenarios 1-4" set forth in her Planning and Zoning report. There was emphasis on scenario 3, which proposed a rezoning to a depth of 1,320’ for the applicant’s parcel north to the existing "R-4" Residential parcel. This scenario would result in 25 acres of "R-3" Residential zoning. The Chairperson suggested that another alternative scenario would be to consider rezoning of the Seelbinder property north to the existing "R-4" Residential property but only to a depth of 495’.

Reference was made to the rezoning analysis, and the Planning Commission considered whether the proposed rezoning was supported by the adopted Master Land Use Plan. The Chairperson noted that the Master Land Use Plan called for residential use. The "R-3" District allows for residential use and offices. "R-3" zoning is traditionally considered transitional. It was noted that, within the last five years, a new home had been built in the area. It was recognized that a subdivision could be established in the "R-1" or "R-2" Districts which could have similar density to what it allowed in the "R-3" District with 3-4 dwelling homes. This was due to the fact that the maximum density allowed for 3-4-family dwellings in the "R-3" District were four units per acre. Additionally, the Planning Commission had previously received information which indicated that an office use did not have as great an impact on traffic as residential use. Therefore, it was the conclusion of the Planning Commission that the proposed rezoning would not severely impact traffic, public facilities or the natural characteristics of the area or significantly change population density.

There was discussion of the fact that "R-3" zoning is intended to be used as a transition from one zone to another or as a buffer. Mr. Block felt that transitional zoning would be appropriate in that the Niewoonder business was "not going anywhere." He felt it would be appropriate to rezone the property from the Seelbinder parcel northward. He felt this would be an appropriate transition. He also felt that the presence of the school would have somewhat of an impact on the residential character of the area and thus make "R-3" zoning appropriate. Mr. Loy felt it would be appropriate to change the classification of the Master Land Use Plan to the Transitional class with the intent that this area be used as a buffer or transition in order to protect the residential area to the south.

Planning Commission members agreed that a spot zone would not result from the rezoning. Rezoning would allow for a connection between "R-3" zoning to the north and therefore there would not be the creation of a spot but the elimination of a spot.

The Planning Commission considered whether the rezoning would be contrary to the established land use pattern in the area. It was recognized that there were mixed land uses in the area, and Mr. Loy stressed that the nursery had existed long before many of the residences along Drake Road. The Chairperson felt, however, that offices could change the established land use pattern because the use was primarily single family in the area.

Planning Commission members felt that there may be an effect of stimulating rezonings but again recognized that "R-3" zoning is not incompatible with residential use in that it was drafted to be compatible.

The Planning Commission considered whether there had been a change in conditions in the area. The new single-family residence just north of this property was noted. Mr. Corakis reminded the Planning Commission that there had been some reference made in the public comment to two more businesses operating north of the Seelbinders.

The Planning Commission agreed that there may be adequate sites zoned elsewhere to accommodate this use but that this was not the determinative factor since the applicants were seeking to obtain this zoning so as to conduct an occupation from the site on which they live.

Mr. Loy stated that he would like to see a rezoning of only to a depth of 495’. He said he was "not excited" about any change to "R-3." The Chairperson agreed, noting that a limitation on the depth of the "R-3" zoning would necessarily limit building size of any offices that established thereon. There was concern expressed about the possible pressure for rezoning south of the Seelbinder property. Mr. Loy stated he felt that the cutoff was at the Seelbinder property due to the opposition of the owners to the south.

There was discussion of the fact that the Niewoonder property would have a split zoning. However, Ms. Stefforia noted that this would not impact on the existing use. The Seelbinders confirmed that their home, in which the occupation is conducted, is within the 495’ of depth being discussed.

Mr. Loy moved to recommend rezoning to "R-3" of the Seelbinder parcel at 2215 North Drake Road (parcel 3905-12-280-030) north to the existing "R-4"-zoned parcel to a depth of 495’ from the centerline of Drake Road with the following reasoning:

(1) That the rezoning is supported by the Master Land Use Plan, being residential in character.

(2) That the rezoning may result in a buffer or transitional area to buffer the residential property to the south and protect the existing neighborhood.

(3) That the rezoning would not result in a spot zone.

(4) That the rezoning would not negatively impact traffic or public facilities or significantly change population density.

(5) That the rezoning may be contrary to the established single-family land use pattern and could possibly stimulate further rezonings, but it was felt that rezonings further south would not be in keeping with the Master Land Use Plan in that they would jeopardize the residential uses to the south.

(6) That the rezoning would be consistent with the other small business uses in the area and the Niewoonder business.

Mr. Loy further moved to recommend amendment to the Master Land Use Plan to reclassify this property, as well as the "R-4" and "R-3" properties at the corner of Drake Road and H Avenue to the Transitional classification.

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

SELECT PUBLIC HEARING DATE - HOPE WOODS - 5713, 5701 AND 5749 STADIUM DRIVE

The Planning Commission next discussed selection of a public hearing date for the application of Hope Woods for rezoning of properties at 5713, 5701 and 5749 Stadium Drive from the "R-3" to the "R-4" Residential District zoning classification. The rezoning was sought in order to allow for the establishment of multi-family dwellings. The Master Land Use Plan currently classifies the property as multi-family. There was some discussion of possibly expanding the area for consideration, and it was agreed that the area should not be expanded.

Mr. Loy moved to conduct a public hearing on August 26, 1999, regarding the rezoning of the applicant’s property. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

The Chairperson suggested a discussion at the next meeting of the tree planting initiative. There was a reshuffle of the dias.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

By:

Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell, Secretary

Minutes prepared:  June 28, 1999

Minutes approved: