OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

March 9, 2004

Agenda

WEST MAIN MALL - SIGN DEVIATION - FREESTANDING SIGN - WEST MAIN MALL - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-036)

MC SPORTS - SIGN DEVIATION - WALL SIGN AREA - WEST MAIN MALL - 5157 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-038)

A special meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, March 9, 2004, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Millard Loy, Chairperson
Grace Borgfjord
Dave Bushouse
Duane McClung
James Turcott

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

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

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m.

MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of February 24, 2004. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. The motion was seconded by James Turcott. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

WEST MAIN MALL - SIGN DEVIATION - FREESTANDING SIGN - WEST MAIN MALL - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-036)

The Chairperson said the next item up for consideration was the request brought by Tim Timmons on behalf of Meyer C. Weiner Co., LLC. The Chairperson noted that the property was located in the "C-1" Local Business District along West Main Street, (Parcel No. 3905-13-430-038). He said that the request was for a sign deviation to allow an increase in the sign area for the freestanding sign on West Main Street.

The Chairman called for the report from the Planning Department. Ms. Jodi Stefforia noted that her husband worked for the sign company which would perform the work if the request was granted. She wanted that known in order to avoid any claims of impropriety. Ms. Bugge presented her Report to the Board dated March 9, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein.

Ms. Bugge provided the Board with an overview of the area, including an overhead showing Land Section 13 and the property at issue. She noted for the Board that, on December 6, 1999, the developer had been granted a variance for sign area, setback and the number of freestanding signs for this property. A copy of the minutes was attached to the report, showing the applicant was allowed four signs at that time, with a total square foot area of 620 feet. One sign is on West Main Street and three others are located on North Drake.

Ms. Bugge said that the current request was to expand the pylon sign on West Main Street to allow an increase in sign area and height. She said that applicant was requesting to increase the total height of the sign from 25 feet to 30 feet, and expand the sign area by an additional 67 square feet. Ms. Bugge then showed the Board, on an overhead projector, the sign as it currently exists and the sign as proposed. She then outlined what multi-tenant commercial centers were currently permitted under the Township Zoning Ordinance.

Ms. Bugge did note for the Board that Maple Hill Mall was granted a variance in 1998 for a 30-foot-high sign containing 340 square feet. She also noted that West Century Center had a 30-foot-high sign, with a total square footage of 308 square feet.

Ms. Bugge then provided the Board with an overhead, showing the location of the stores in the West Main Mall area in relationship to West Main Street and Drake Road.

Ms. Bugge provided the Board with the following standards of approval for a sign deviation, to-wit:

(1) The granting of the requested deviation would not be materially detrimental to the property owners in the vicinity.

(2) The hardship created by a literal interpretation of the Section is due to conditions unique to that lot, building site, or parcel and does not apply generally to other properties in the Township.

(3) The granting of the deviation would not be contrary to the general purposes of this Section or set an adverse precedent.

Mr. Turcott asked, if the Maple Hill or Century signs would have to comply with the current zoning standards if they were modified. Ms. Bugge said that the Maple Hill sign would not, in that, it had a variance which would run with the land.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other questions of Ms. Bugge. Hearing none, he asked for a presentation from the applicant.

Mr. Josh Weiner said he was there to represent WestMain 2000, LLC, the owner of the property. He began by thanking the Board for the special meeting, and thanked Ms. Bugge for her thorough presentation. He said that, if he knew at the time of the original application what he knew now, the original sign request might have been different. Mr. Weiner noted that the property had unique characteristics. He said that the site was approximately 47 acres, rectangle in shape, with a small amount of frontage on West Main and a much larger frontage along Drake Road. Mr. Weiner said, given the shape of the parcel, the property could only be developed to accommodate approximately 380,000 square feet of retail space, as opposed to approximately 700,000 square feet of retail space if the property were square rather than a rectangle.

Mr. Weiner also said that there were changing conditions which affected overall property development and that the development had not gone as originally planned. He said, because of the smaller number of tenants, with larger retail spaces, more of the tenants had a regional draw which impacted upon the need for road signage. He said that people coming in from outside the area, looking for a business, needed to have directional signs in order to locate these larger retail centers.

He asked that the Board take into consideration the competitive disadvantage that West Main Mall business would have in comparison to West Century Center and Maple Hill Mall if they were not allowed a sign of equal size. He said he thought that their proposal was consistent with the other signs in the area, given the height and total square footage being requested. He noted that the proposed sign would be no taller than either the West Century Center sign or the Maple Hill Mall sign, and relatively similar in size.

Mr. Weiner told the Board that no lease had been signed with MC Sports yet and that the applicant was not making any presumptions with regard to the granting of the proposed variance. He said the only reason they had chosen to begin construction of the potential building for MC Sports was to get a jump on the weather, but that MC Sports had not committed to a lease of any kind.

Mr. Weiner asked if the Board had any questions.

Ms. Borgfjord asked Mr. Weiner to locate his property on the Zoning Map attached to the Planning Department's report. Mr. Weiner, along with the Township Planner, identified the particular properties owned by Mr. Weiner's company, as well as the land owned but leased to Lowes.

Ms. Borgfjord asked if Mr. Weiner thought they had lost an advantage with regard to the signs due to the leasing to Lowes. Mr. Weiner said that was a good point in that they could, in theory, divide the property up and acquire additional signage, but they simply did not want to develop the property in such a fashion. However, he said they did need identification on West Main Street for the businesses because of the small frontage on West Main, the lack of visibility from West Main Street, and the topography of the property.

Ms. Bugge pointed out to the Board that there were certain conditions attached to the grant of the original variance and wanted the Board to be aware of the same. The Board members noted the conditions attached to the previous grant of variance on page 5 of the minutes from December 6, 1999.

Mr. Weiner asked the Board again to consider equity and fairness in making their decision. He noted that West Century had a sign almost equal in size to what they are proposing, yet had a retail space that was one-quarter of the West Main shopping center.

The Chairperson asked if there would be additional buildings built directly adjacent to Drake Road. Mr. Weiner said he did not believe there would be any additional buildings. He said, not only would they need site plan approval to add any additional buildings, but there were certain restrictions in the leases with Kohl's and Lowes that would prohibit having additional buildings other than those already proposed.

Ms. Borgfjord asked, if there were future development, whether the applicant would be asking for additional signs. Mr. Weiner said that one can only go to the well so many times, and that he did not believe they would be making any further request for road signage. He also noted that any additional tenants would likely be small enough in size that they would not command the need for a freestanding road sign.

The Chairperson asked if there was any further input from the applicant. Mr. Gerald Klein of MC Sports, introduced himself to the Board. He told the Board that the proposed store design was unique in that it had limited store frontage of 100 feet, with a depth of approximately 200 feet. He said, given the limited frontage that they have on Drake Road, he thought that it was an absolute necessity to have a pylon sign on West Main Street. He also noted that the store would be set back from Drake Road approximately 600 feet, and they would be significantly elevated in relationship to Drake Road. He said, given those unique circumstances, a large sign was needed in order to direct traffic to the site.

Ms. Borgfjord asked how far back the buildings were set from West Main Street. Mr. Weiner said he thought MC Sports would be set back more than a 1,000 feet off West Main Street. Ms. Bugge noted that MC Sports would not be visible from West Main Street regardless of the setback because it faced Drake Road.

The Chairperson asked if there were any comments from the public, and hearing none, he called for deliberations.

Mr. Bushouse said he was concerned about granting additional road signage because of other requests in the area, such as the Prairies, having made similar requests. He said he thought granting the variance might set a precedent, and he was concerned about increasing overall sign size.

The Chairperson asked for clarification with regard to the extent of the deviation. Ms. Bugge noted that it would be an increase in height of 5 feet and an increase of 67 square feet. The Chairperson then said he thought if the Board stayed within what had been granted on both sides of the road, for similar signs, that he did not believe that the 30-foot height would be a problem. Mr. McClung said it would be consistent with what they had granted to the property next door. He said he did not see a problem in this area with the proposed increase, and since the stores on Drake Road could not be seen from West Main Street, he thought they needed appropriate signage to make themselves known to potential customers.

Ms. Borgfjord inquired as to whether or not granting this increase in height would precipitate requests from other property owners for similar increases in sign height. Ms. Bugge said yes, unless there was some distinguishing feature in that the signs of the applicant's, West Century Center and Maple Hill Mall were all shopping center signs and were used for multi-tenant commercial centers. The Chairperson said he thought it was significantly different in that all three were multi-tenant signs used for commercial shopping centers, and that a single business asking for a similar variance would be entirely different.

Mr. Turcott noted that the Board had denied Target's request for a variance, but that was for a single sign, for a single property. The Chairperson concurred, but noted that, in this case, they were talking about six tenants versus one tenant, and that he thought that was a significant difference. He said he did not believe the Board would be setting a precedent unless there was a similar commercial development making the same type of request. He said, in this case, the applicant was not requesting anything larger than the existing signs in the area, and he thought it would be appropriate.

Ms. Borgfjord asked about Pearle Vision having street signage. Mr. Weiner said that Pearle Vision, being a national retailer, felt they had to have street signage, but it was relatively small in comparison to the overall signage.

The Chairperson asked if there was any further discussion. Hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion to approve or deny the variance request. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the request with the stipulation that there be no increase in the sign area in the future. Mr. Turcott seconded that motion, asking that the Board make the distinction between the present sign because it serves a multi-tenant commercial shopping center and not just a single retail business. Mr. McClung also noted that, due to the unique characteristics of the property, the businesses on the property had limited visibility from West Main Street, and therefore, in this case, road signage on West Main Street was warranted.

The Chairperson called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 3-to-2 with Mr. Bushouse and Ms. Borgfjord in opposition.

MC SPORTS - SIGN DEVIATION - WALL SIGN AREA - WEST MAIN MALL - 5157 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-038)

The Chairperson announced that the next item on the Agenda was the consideration of MC Sports for a sign deviation to allow a wall sign that exceeds the area permitted. He said the request was for the property located at 5157 West Main Street, (Parcel No. 3905-13-430-038). He noted that the property was in the "C-1" Local Business District. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia again noted her husband's relationship with the sign company involved.

Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Board dated March 9, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein. Ms. Bugge noted for the Board that MC Sports was the proposed new tenant adjacent to Harding's Marketplace and Kohl's at the West Main 2000 Shopping Center. She said it would face Drake Road, similar to Harding's. She stated that the Township Zoning Ordinance allows commercial tenants within a multi-tenant development, one wall sign per exterior wall, and a sign area of one square foot per lineal foot of tenant space width. Since MC Sports had a space width of 100 feet, they would be allowed a 100-square-foot wall sign. The applicant was requesting to exceed that sign square footage by 67.6 square feet, for a total sign area of 167.6 square feet.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the standards with the Board, to-wit:

(1) The granting of the requested deviation would not be materially detrimental to the property owners in the vicinity.

(2) The hardship created by a literal interpretation of the Section is due to conditions unique to that lot, building site, or parcel and does not apply generally to other properties in the Township.

(3) The granting of the deviation would not be contrary to the general purposes of this Section or set an adverse precedent.

Ms. Bugge noted that Hardings Marketplace had been granted a deviation for wall sign area. However, it was an existing use at the subject site moving to a new space, and the deviation was granted based on the wall signage coming into closer compliance with the current Ordinance requirements.

Ms. Bugge specifically noted that, at Maple Hill Mall, Hobby Lobby was denied a variance request for an increase in wall signage on September 9, 2003. She also noted that Value City Furniture was denied a deviation request for an increase in wall sign area on December 16, 2003. Ms. Bugge told the Board that the applicant's building would be located 670 feet from the adjacent street, while Hobby Lobby and Value City Furniture were located 492 feet from West Main Street. She asked the Board, in evaluating the request, to consider the Statement of Purpose of the Sign Ordinance, which she attached to her report. Additionally, she noted the store would be highly visible when heading north on Drake Road.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions, and hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Klein, representing MC Sports, again introduced himself to the Board. He told the Board that the proposed site was going to be set back over 600 feet from the street. In addition, he pointed out that Mc Sports had very limited frontage and that all they were requesting to do was place the regular-sized sign on the face of the proposed building. He said he thought their request was consistent with the allowed signage for Harding's and Kohl's.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions of the applicant. Hearing none, he called for public input.

Mr. Weiner said he thought it was simply an issue of math. Given that Harding's had not fully utilized its proposed signage, leaving 114 square feet of unused signage, he thought if the Board granted the additional 67 square feet to MC Sports, it would still leave approximately 47 square feet of total wall signage unused. He also noted that there was a significant difference in distance to the street between Hobby Lobby and Value City Furniture versus the proposed MC Sports store. He said he thought the proposal would be consistent with the aesthetics of the adjoining buildings and their signage, and he asked that the Board consider that in their deliberations.

The Chairperson asked if there was any further public comments. Hearing none, he closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Board deliberations.

The Chairperson began by saying that he could understand that road signage was necessary and despite poor visibility coming from the north, that once potential customers accessed the site, he did not believe they would have any problem easily seeing the wall sign if it were kept within the perimeters of the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. McClung said he agreed with the Chairperson, and given the fact that the Board had already allowed a larger sign on West Main Street, he did not see why a 100-square-foot sign on the building itself would not be adequate. Mr. Bushouse did not believe people would have a problem locating this store, even if it was limited to a 100-square-foot sign. He said he thought the Board should be consistent with what they had done for the businesses on the north side of West Main, and he saw no reason to deviate from the Zoning Ordinance in this case.

Ms. Borgfjord inquired about the size of the Kohl's sign. Ms. Bugge said it was 195 square feet, but they could have had a sign as large as 284 square feet based on the width of the space. Ms. Borgfjord said she would like the Board to stay in conformance with its Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Turcott said he liked what the Board did on the north side of West Main Street, Maple Hill Mall, and he saw no reason to deviate in the present case from those similar decisions. The Chairperson called for a motion to grant or deny the request.

Mr. Bushouse made a motion to deny the deviation request. Mr. Turcott supported the motion. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

OTHER BUSINESS

Mr. Bushouse inquired about billboards on U.S. 131, which he believed were exceeding the permitted square footage provisions of the Township Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Bugge and Ms. Stefforia said that they would look into the matter. Ms. Bugge asked for clarification as to the location of the signs that Mr. Bushouse was concerned about, and Mr. Bushouse provided the pertinent information regarding the same. Ms. Bugge stated that she would follow up on the matter.

ADJOURNMENT

The Chairman asked if there was any other business to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals, and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at approximately 4:01 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Millard Loy, Chairperson

By:
Grace Borgfjord

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
Duane McClung

By:
James Turcott
Minutes Prepared:
March 15, 2004

Minutes Approved:
, 2004