OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

March 12, 1998

______________________________________________________________________________

Agenda

BUCKHAM HIGHLANDS RESIDENTIAL OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW

TWO SQUARED DEVELOPMENT, L.L.C. - REZONING - APPROX. 19 ACRES -
EAST OF U.S. 131, WEST OF MAPLE HILL DRIVE

______________________________________________________________________________

 

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, March 12, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Ted Corakis
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Marvin Block

Members Absent:

Millard Loy
Ken Heisig
Lara Meeuwse

Also present were Rebecca Harvey and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and sixteen (16) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.

AGENDA

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

MINUTES

The Planning Commission next considered the minutes of the meeting of February 26, 1998. The one change suggested by Ms. Harvey was noted. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as amended. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

BUCKHAM HIGHLANDS RESIDENTIAL OPEN SPACE COMMUNITY - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW

The next item was consideration of the application of Reg Shave and Clarence Martz, representing GEMS Associates, for special exception use/site plan review for approval of the proposed Buckham Highlands Open Space Community consisting of approximately 31 acres and to include a total of 40 building sites. The subject property is situated within the 9th Street Focus Area, located on the east side of South 9th Street, approximately 2,600' south of West Main, and is within the "R-2" Residence District Zoning classification. The Planning Commission would also conduct site plan review of a site condominium development within this open space community.

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

It was noted that a conceptual review of the plan for the project had been conducted on February 12, 1998, and the Planning Commission had found that the proposed project met the criteria of the Open Space Community with some revisions proposed and additional information requested.

The applicants were present, along with the architect for the project. It was noted that the plan had been changed since conceptual review to include three phases. Further, what was unit #12 had been removed and had become open space. Another lot had been created on Eagle Court. The applicant stated that the changes requested at the conceptual plan review had been made on the plan, "item by item." They stated that the master deed and bylaws would be provided at a later date. The master deed and bylaws would state that the condominium association would maintain the open space and would provide that the open space is a "common element" of the condominium project.

Ms. Harvey stated that there were three issues before the Planning Commission: (1) the special exception use permit, (2) site plan review of the open space community, and (3) site plan review of the site condominium project. She noted that the Planning Commission should focus, in its review of the special exception use criteria, on the 9th Street Focus Area Development Plan. She noted that the Planning Commission would find that some "documents" had not yet been provided, primarily the master deed and bylaws. However, it was not uncommon to condition approval of open space community/condominium projects on eventual receipt, review and approval of the documents by the Township staff and Township Attorney. A "soil map" had not been submitted by the applicant; however, the applicant indicated that this map would be available at the meeting. Finally, a narrative describing the project's consistency with the 9th Street Focus Area Development Plan had not been provided. However, Ms. Harvey stated that the Planning Commission might feel that such a narrative was not necessary due to the familiarity of the Planning Commission with the objectives and goals of the 9th Street Focus Area Plan. Ms. Harvey noted that the other primary issue would be discussion of the rearrangement of the street system and/or lots which had been suggested at the previous meeting.

The Chairperson had a concern with regard to the low area at White Eagle Court and White Eagle Street. He was concerned that, due to the elevation, there would be "water build-up" in this area. He was concerned that the soils in the 9th Street area "make drainage slow." Further, the Chairperson addressed the possible rearrangement of the street network and relocation of certain lots.

Gary Hahn, architect for the project, indicated that a minimal amount of grading would be done in the "low area" to address drainage concerns. As to the possible redesign, the applicant indicated that the present design was "driven" by the fact that there is a great deal of clay on this property which was not amenable to the establishment of lots or building sites. He felt that to redesign the project, in view of the location of the clay, would make the project too costly and not economically feasible. The open space had been designed to be established in the area where the presence of clay made lots or building areas infeasible.

The Chairperson expressed that, since this development was the first in the 9th Street Focus Area, it was important that it be consistent with the objectives and goals of the Focus Area Development Plan, as well as the objectives of the Open Space Community.

Mr. Shave reiterated that the proposed open space community had been designed so as to place building sites in areas where the soils were appropriate. The applicant provided a copy of the soil map of the area based on the Kalamazoo County soil survey. The applicant indicated the area where clay was present. The soil survey showed that there was sandy loam in the low area which typically drains well.

The Chairperson noted the "typical home" drawings which had been provided by the applicant. The applicant stated that he expected the duplexes to sell for between $200-250,000. The Chairperson noted that the original submission of the applicant had included a ball diamond. The applicant stated that this had been removed because it did not fit with the "demographics" of the people that they anticipated would purchase the condominium duplexes.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell had questions with regard to the areas in which slope exceeded 8%, and Ms. Harvey showed her the information provided by the applicant on this point.

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

The Chairperson directed the Commission's attention to Section 60.520 and the criteria for special exception use approval. The Planning Commission first considered whether the proposed use was compatible with other uses expressly permitted in the "R-2" District. The Chairperson noted that the "R-2" District allows, as a permitted use, two-family dwellings. Therefore, he felt that the proposed project was compatible with other uses expressly allowed in the "R-2" District. Further, the Focus Area Development Plan for 9th Street suggests residential development in the area and specifically mentions the open space community as an implementation tool for the plan

The Planning Commission next discussed whether the proposed use would be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or to the general neighborhood. Planning Commission members felt that residential use would not be injurious to the area or adjacent properties. Further, since the Open Space Community concept was an implementation tool in the 9th Street Focus Area Plan, the proposed use would implement the goals and objectives of the Master Land Use Plan for the area and would thus be a benefit rather than a detriment to adjacent properties and the general neighborhood.

The Planning Commission next considered whether the proposed use would promote the public health, safety and welfare of the community. Again it was noted that, in that the Open Space Community implements the Focus Area Plan for the area, health, safety and welfare were promoted. Further, if the land in question were divided or platted as a traditional subdivision, a maximum of 46 lots could be obtained. The reduction in density in the area achieved by the Open Space Community was seen by the Planning Commission to promote health, safety and welfare. Further, there would be no direct access from the lots/building sites to 9th Street, promoting traffic safety.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposed use would encourage the use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. Again, since the proposed plan would serve the objectives of the Focus Area Development Plan and leave over 40% of the area in open space, it was felt that the proposed plan allowed for development in accord with the character and adaptability of the land. It was also significant that there would be a single access point from the project to 9th Street. The public road within the project would extend to the east property line and therefore allow for an internal street network to be created within the 9th Street Focus Area.

After further discussion, Mr. Block moved to grant the special exception use permit, concluding that the project met the criteria of Section 60.520. He reasoned that, because the open space community is an implementation tool of the 9th Street Focus Area Development Plan, the open space community would meet the goals and objectives for the 9th Street Area. Approval was conditioned upon the review and approval of the Township Fire Department and Township Engineer. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

The Planning Commission proceeded to site plan review with a review of Section 60.580. The Chairperson noted that the Planning Commission had determined in its conceptual plan review that the project met the requirements of the Open Space Community with certain deficiencies. However, the applicant, at this meeting, had presented the soil map. The applicant had also provided other information requested at the conceptual plan review, such as information regarding slopes in excess of 8%. The Chairperson emphasized the information provided in the letter of the project architect dated February 25, 1998, concerning the minimal traffic impact. It was noted that the master deed and bylaws should be required as a condition of approval.

The Planning Commission considered Section 60.530, noting that, as to open space, the applicant had attempted to design the project so as to meet the Open Space Community objectives of "single loading," etc. Through discussions with the applicant, it was indicated that a redesign to further meet these goals was not practicable due to soil types. Thus, Planning Commission members felt that Section 60.530 had been satisfied.

The Planning Commission next reviewed the criteria of Section 60.540, noting that a deviation was required from current ordinance language to allow the development to be established with 100% two-family dwellings.

The Chairperson expressed some concern that the length of the "typical homes" proposed by the applicant, in the five zeros, would not be accommodated by some of the lots within the project. The Township Attorney noted that the applicant could apply later for a site plan amendment/deviation as to setbacks and at that time would need to present specific proposals as to building placement on particular lots. The applicant stated that it was the intent to comply with setback standards within the ordinance.

It was noted that the project would be served by municipal sewer and water. Proposed access on 9th Street was in compliance with the Access Management Guidelines of the Township, and the building sites within the project would have no direct access to 9th Street. It was noted that the interior street system would be designed to meet Kalamazoo County Road Commission standards in and that the proposed public road would extend to the east boundary of the site. Three proposed cul-de-sacs would need to meet Fire Department requisites. All utilities would be underground.

As to stormwater management, it was noted that the existing retention area would be redesigned. Planning Commission members felt that the design should maintain low visual impact and preserve open space/natural features. It was felt that the specific design of this stormwater retention area should be subject to approval by Township staff, as well as the Township Engineer and the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

After further discussion, Mr. Corakis moved to approve the site plan for the open space community and site condominium project with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) It was found that the project met the criteria for approval set forth in the Open Space Community standards of the Township.

(2) It was found that it was appropriate to grant deviation from the provision of Section 60.540(B) [pursuant to the authority of Section 60.540(I)] to allow the open space community to consist entirely of two-family residential dwellings as proposed by the applicant.

It was felt that deviation was appropriate in that two-family dwellings are a permitted use within the "R-2" District and in that an amendment to repeal the limitation contained in subpart B had been recommended by the Planning Commission for consideration by the Township Board.

(3) The phasing proposal of the applicant was approved.

(4) The proposed access on 9th Street was in compliance with the applicable Access Management Guidelines and the 9th Street Focus Area Development Plan. Building sites would have no direct access to 9th Street.

(5) The project would be served by a public road on a 66' right-of-way and three 24'-wide two-way paved interior streets. The proposed public road extended to the eastern boundary of the site. The interior street system, including the three proposed cul-de-sacs, was subject to the review and approval by the Township Fire Department.

(6) Public sewer and water would serve the proposed development, and all utilities were proposed to be underground.

(7) As to the stormwater management system proposed by the applicant, the reconfiguration or redesign must be made to maintain low visual impact and preserve open space/natural features and be consistent with the Township's rural character. The specific design of this system was subject to approval by Township staff, as well as the Township Engineer and Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

(8) All lighting must comply with Section 78.700.

(9) Approval was subject to the receipt, review and approval by Township staff and Township Attorney of the master deed and condominium bylaws for the proposed project. These documents must provide the necessary easements, deed restrictions, and other provisions with regard to the limitation of the use, ownership and maintenance of the open space areas. Further, the master deed and bylaws should provide that any amendment thereof be consistent with the Planning Commission approval of the project.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Block.

There was no public comment offered on the project, and the motion carried unanimously.

TWO SQUARED DEVELOPMENT, L.L.C. - REZONING - APPROX. 19 ACRES - EAST OF U.S. 131, WEST OF MAPLE HILL DRIVE

The item had been tabled from the meeting of February 26, 1998, and was consideration of the application of Robert Lennon on behalf of Two Squared Development, L.L.C., for rezoning of approximately 19 acres situated in the NW╝ of Land Section 13, adjacent to the north of TGI Friday's, on the north side of West Main and to the west of Maple Hill Drive; rezoning from the "R-4" Residence District to the "C" Local Business District Zoning classification was requested. Further, the Planning Commission would consider amendment of the Township's Master Land Use Plan to reclassify the property described above from the Multiple-Family Residential to the Commercial classification.

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

Robert Lennon was present on behalf of the applicant and described the composition of Two Squared Development, L.L.C., which included himself, Joseph Gesmundo and two other partners. He stated that the property in question had been purchased in 1979 and was at that time zoned "C." When the property was rezoned, the owners, for some reason, did not receive the notice. Mr. Lennon was not contending that the Township did not provide notice, but stated that he raised the point in order to make it clear that the applicant did not purchase the property with one zoning and then attempt to obtain a more lucrative zoning classification.

Mr. Lennon stated he felt that the "most logical use" of the parcel is "some kind of expressway service use." He noted that the property in question is adjacent to U.S. 131 and near the exit/entrance ramp from U.S. 131 to M-43. There was a discussion of the area zoning and uses. He stated that there is commercial zoning to the south and that to the east there were residential apartment projects. The north 60 acres is vacant and also owned by the applicant (or variations of the applicant). He felt that logical uses for the property were allowed in the "C" zone, such as hotel use. Under current zoning, residential use at about eight units per acre was allowed. He felt that it would be impossible to develop "anything nice" which was residential in this area due to the proximity to U.S. 131, Maple Hill Mall, etc. He felt there were other areas of the Township which were preferable for development as multi-family use. However, there were few locations which would be suited to "expressway service uses."

Mr. Lennon stated that, although the proposed rezoning was not supported by the current Master Land Use Plan, he felt that the Master Land Use Plan should be amended to allow for this use, given the location. He stated that the applicant had retained a traffic expert which would discuss the traffic impact of the project and that he was aware that KATS would also address traffic issues.

Mr. Lennon also felt that rezoning would not constitute spot zone, given the commercial zoning to the south and in the general area. Further, he felt that the proposed zoning would not be contrary to the established land use pattern, given the location, area uses, etc. In his opinion, further rezonings would not be stimulated in that there was no other property in the vicinity which was "situated" like this property and which was undeveloped. He recognized that there was other commercial property in the Township available for development but felt that this property was not situated to serve expressway service uses as the property in question is.

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, Mr. Lennon stated he felt that there would be minimal impact on the property to the east. In his opinion, the commercial development might offer some "sound buffer" to the multi-family use and that commercial development would be compatible with the TGI Friday's use. He noted that the property is not "attractive land." He felt that development, for example as a hotel, would have a positive impact on the area. He felt that the property was not likely to develop for residential use.

The Chairperson expressed concern about adding additional commercial zoning to the area, given the "economic" condition of Maple Hill Mall and West Main Mall. Mr. Lennon responded he felt that additional commercial development might offer some competition to existing commercial development, but he felt that Maple Hill Mall and West Main Mall could be "full today" given the market. In his opinion, the problem for these malls was not with the market but other factors.

Ed Swanson stated that his firm had been retained by the applicant and had prepared a traffic impact analysis regarding the proposed project. He and his staff had met with David Krueger of KATS and with Township staff. They had worked together regarding the traffic impact of this project on the area. He had concluded that, based on the land uses proposed, there would not be significant traffic impact.

The Chairperson sought other public comment, and none was offered.

David Krueger of KATS was present to state that the Swanson analysis provided in a written report to the Planning Commission showed only the impact of the rezoning of the subject property and did not consider the traffic from other properties in the area which were as yet undeveloped. In his opinion, considering only development of the subject property if rezoned, the Maple Hill Drive/M-43 intersection would be reduced from a level of service "C" to a level of service "D." He stated that, with the level of service "C," the average delay would be less than 25 seconds and that with a level of service "D," the delay would be 25-40 seconds at the intersection.

However, he felt that it was not appropriate to base traffic impact analysis merely on this property alone. Other properties, developed and vacant, should be considered. He noted that four scenarios with regard to land use had been devised and traffic analysis based thereon had been prepared.

Ms. Harvey reviewed th