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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

MAY 14, 1998

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Agenda

QUAIL MEADOWS PUD - PHASES I AND II - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN AMENDMENT

QUAIL MEADOWS PUD - EXPANSION - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW

SEELYE WEST - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN AMENDMENT - EXPANSION OF SALES/REPAIR FACILITY - 6883 WEST MAIN

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A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, May 14, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

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


Member Absent: Ken Heisig

Also present were Rebecca Harvey and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and seventeen (17) other interested persons.

 

CALL TO ORDER

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

 

AGENDA

The Chairperson suggested adding a discussion of the next Township Board/Planning Commission joint meeting. Mr. Loy moved to approve the agenda as amended. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

MINUTES

The Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of April 23, 1998. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell suggested changes to page 9 of the minutes to state, in the fourth paragraph: "However, Ms. Heiny-Cogswell suggested that further plantings be established in the open area around the base of the tower, such as medium-size shrubs and trees, which were faster growing so as to provide a 'layering' of screening from the east."

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

 

QUAIL MEADOWS PUD - PHASES I AND II - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN AMENDMENT

The Planning Commission next considered an item which had been tabled from the meeting of April 9, 1998, concerning special exception use/site plan amendment of Quail Meadows Planned Unit Development, Phase I, and Lot 42 (unit #9) of Phase II. The subject area is located on Quail Run Drive and Partridge Lane and is situated within the NE╝ of Land Section 26, within the "R-3/R-4" Residence District zoning classifications.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Also incorporated by reference is a letter dated May 8, 1998, received from United Homes.

Ms. Harvey stated that she had revised the Planning and Zoning report as a result of the research conducted after the last meeting. She made reference to the map included in the report. She noted that a question had been raised as to whether all setbacks in Phase I were in compliance other than those identified in the previous report. She stated that new measurements were done, and the revised report reflected all setback deviations proposed.

As to Phase II, it was discovered that lot 41 is in compliance with setback requirements, but that the home on lot 42, which is already built, is within the setback on each side by about 6 inches.

Ms. Harvey also noted that, in the interim, the Township had received an application from Timothy and Heidi Gergely of 2053 Partridge Lane, who own lot 22 in Phase I, to construct a 12' x 14' deck within the side building setback area.

It was noted that Section 60.430(f) allows the Planning Commission to grant specific deviations from the dimensional requirements of the Zoning Ordinance where the Planning Commission found that the deviation would meet the purpose of a Planned Unit Development as set forth in Section 60.410. Therefore, the Ordinance had been drafted to allow the Planning Commission flexibility with regard to setback and other dimensional requirements. A variance, pursuant to strict criteria, was not necessary therefore.

Ms. Harvey stated that the proposed deviations were in the single-family residential development portion of the PUD. Homes had been constructed which were not in compliance with setbacks in Phase I, most of which had been completed. Four sites in Phase II had been completed, and the rest of the phase was under development.

The map showing the lots at issue, on which deviations were proposed, was displayed for the audience on an overhead projector.

The Chairperson asked for public comment on the item.

Bruce Brown of United Homes, the developer of the Planned Unit Development, stated he felt that United Homes had been innocently drawn into the issue. He said that United Homes had applied for and received building permit approval to construct the homes at issue at their present locations. The setbacks had been measured from the foundations of the buildings just as was done in other municipalities. He made reference to the letter from United Homes which recounted his efforts and those of United Homes to resolve the dispute with the land owners, Ron and Sheila Keltsch. He stated he did not know what the developer could have done differently.

The Chairperson questioned the developer, who stated that United Homes is the only builder within the project. Lot purchasers had a choice of seven different home plans with three different elevations. He noted that each site was reviewed by the developer's engineer, who plotted the location of the building.

Mr. Corakis questioned Mr. Brown, who stated that the foundations had been inspected and approved by the Building Inspector for the Township.

Michael Chojnowski, attorney for United Homes, stated that many communities measure the setback set forth in the Zoning Ordinance from the foundation of the building. Further, it was his experience that, with PUD development, more times than not, the standard setbacks are waived. He made reference to the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Portage, which allowed the Planning Commission to set setbacks in their discretion based upon provision of "adequate light and ventilation." Within the Kalamazoo Township Zoning Ordinance, with regard to an MUD, minimum setback could be reduced at the discretion of the Planning Commission. Comstock Township's PUD provisions waived setback requirements and allowed the Planning Commission to determine what setbacks would be implemented. He noted that it was never the intention of the developer in this case to ignore setback requirements. The developer believed that they were in compliance with setback standards in that they proceeded in accord with approvals from the Township. He noted that the main item of contention was the setback of the building on lot 33 from its side line with lot 32. Based upon measurement, the building separation was 20'. A deviation of 2Ż' was suggested for lot 33. Mr. Chojnowski argued that, if the building on lot 33 were moved 2Ż' further from the lot line between lots 32 and 33, it would not have any effect on the "quality of life or aesthetics" of lot 32. Mr. Chojnowski emphasized that there were varied housing types within the project, some of which had no setbacks (i.e., duplex/condominium development). Therefore, he felt that deviation would be in character with the overall development.

Robert Lohrmann, attorney for Ron and Sheila Keltsch, referenced the minutes of the meeting of April 9, 1998, and stated that they accurately summarized his previous comments. He stated he believed that the letter of United Homes was filled with inaccuracies. Mr. Lohrmann's emphasis was that the setback provisions of the Township's Ordinance were clear and that the developer should have known that the homes constructed were not in compliance therewith. He said that he felt it was wrong for United Homes to indicate that they had no blame for what had occurred. Mr. Lohrmann stated that Mr. and Mrs. Keltsch should not have to "pay the price" for the mistakes of the Township and the developer and urged the Planning Commission to deny the deviation.

Julie Tabbia, a resident of the area, made reference to the letter of United Homes and disputed the fact that United Homes knew of the problem with the setback on lot 33 only after

December of 1997. She stated that a problem with the basement on her lot 6 had been discovered in June of 1997.

Tim Gergely, owner of lot 22, stated that he was seeking a deviation to allow for the establishment of a 12' x 14' deck. He stated that the neighboring lot owners, owners of lot 21, were aware of the request and had no problem with it. He said that every other home in the area has a deck and felt that the placement of the proposed deck would not be obstructing or injurious to the neighboring property.

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

The Township Attorney commented that, in reviewing the proposed deviations, the Planning Commission should evaluate each criteria to determine the incremental difference between a home in compliance with setback and a home placed as proposed. Further, the Township Attorney felt it was appropriate for the Planning Commission to review the criteria as if the homes at issue were not now existing. If the Planning Commission could say that under the criteria deviation was appropriate, as if the project were not yet built, deviation should be granted.

The Chairperson noted that within the "R-3" and "R-4" Zoning Districts, a greater density of residential development is allowed than within the "R-1" and "R-2" Districts. He felt this was pertinent to consideration of the character of the area.

The Chairperson also made reference to Section 60.400, the PUD development provisions of the Zoning Ordinance. He noted that the Ordinance was designed to allow greater flexibility for development and did not require strict adherence to setback or other dimensional standards. He reviewed the purpose provision of Section 60.410. He further noted that Section 60.430 allows deviation where the purpose of the PUD development would be met.

The Planning Commission reviewed the criteria of Section 60.100, which pertains to special exception uses. The Commission considered whether the dimensional deviations proposed would be compatible with other uses permitted in the "R-3/R-4" Districts. Again, the Chairperson felt it was important to note that a typical residential development in the "R-3" or "R-4" District could be higher in density than what is developed and proposed for the subject PUD. He felt that it was important to examine the PUD project as a whole and noted that preservation of natural resources was one goal of PUD development. He felt that, when viewed in context with the PUD development as a whole, the deviations would be compatible with other uses permitted in the "R-3" and "R-4" Districts. Therefore, he felt that the deviations would be in keeping with the purpose of the PUD development.

Ms. Meeuwse agreed, stating that, when originally drafted the PUD provisions were meant to allow less than full compliance with setback and other dimensional requirements. When this specific project was proposed, the Planning Commission had explicitly recognized that the project proposed less density than that which is allowed in the District as a whole. She further noted that deviation had been granted as to dimensional standards with regard to the condominiums within the PUD project. Therefore, deviation in the single-family residences would be consistent with the Zoning District, the PUD provisions, and with the character of the area.

The Chairperson noted that he had toured the neighborhood and found it pleasant. He felt that the siting of the homes matched the buildable space on the lots. However, he felt that some plans fit the lots better than others.

The Chairperson stated that he had concerns about considering the criteria without reference to the fact that the buildings were already in place. He said that he would prefer to consider deviation prior to the development of the project. However, he recognized that deviations were considered along with the PUD development to determine whether the total overall development complied with the PUD purpose.

Mr. Loy agreed that it was a concern that the buildings were already in place. He was uncomfortable with considering the criteria without reference to the fact that the buildings were already established.

Ms. Meeuwse disagreed, stating that she felt it was important for the Planning Commission to recognize that, when the PUD text was written, it was meant to provide flexibility. She felt that the deviations would result in development which is compatible.

The Chairperson commented that the PUD provisions allowed flexibility in order to maintain open space and preserve natural features. Further, reduction of density was a goal. He felt that this development as a whole achieves the purposes of the PUD provisions. He further felt that dimensional deviations are appropriate and compatible in the "R-3" and "R-4" Districts for achieving the purposes of PUD development.

Mr. Block stated that he would not like to see deviations continue throughout the project.

Ms. Harvey noted that this was one of the first times that the Planning Commission was dealing with the deviation provision of the PUD section of the Zoning Ordinance. She emphasized that the text had been drafted to give discretion to the Planning Commission to vary from the rigid criteria of setback and other dimensional standards. The Chairperson agreed, stating that, in his opinion, PUD's with deviations were more favorable than some other development that was allowed in the "R-3" and "R-4" Districts.

Mr. Loy commented that he would have no problem with the proposed deviations and felt they were in keeping with the purpose of the PUD District. His problem was with the fact that the buildings had been established prior to the application for deviation. Ms. Meeuwse stated that, even if the homes were not in place, she would not have a problem with the proposed deviations and found that they met the purpose and intent of the PUD Ordinance. Therefore, she felt that, even though the buildings were in place, the purpose and intent of the PUD Ordinance would be served by the deviations. The Chairperson agreed.

The Planning Commission concluded that the dimensional deviations proposed were compatible with achieving the purposes of the PUD provisions.

The Planning Commission next discussed whether there would be any negative impact on adjacent properties. Again, the Planning Commission emphasized that it was examining the deviations for the project as a whole but felt that each site should be examined with regard to the extent of the deviation proposed. Planning Commission members felt that where the deviation would result in a building separation which was 1-2' different than that which would be achieved by full compliance with setback standards, there would be no significant impact on adjacent properties. It was recognized that, if the building on each lot were set back in compliance with Ordinance requirements, a building separation of 20' would be achieved.

The Chairperson was concerned that lot 22 had not been planned with the thought that the home owner might wish to establish a deck. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented that she felt it was significant that a deck and the activity thereon was somewhat akin to a patio. She recognized that a patio could be placed on the subject property within the setback.

In response to questions from the Planning Commission, Mr. West stated that the proposed deck on lot 22 would result in a building separation between the deck and the home on the neighboring property of 20-22'.

Mr. Corakis indicated that he would have no problem with this deviation.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she had visited the development and reviewed the site. She felt that the deviation proposed would not have any adverse impact on adjacent properties. She felt that changing the building locations by a few feet would not have any impact on adjacent properties.

Ms. Meeuwse agreed, stating that the development was residential and was in character with the PUD development. She, too, had reviewed the site and found that the buildings as located were in harmony with the single-family residential character of the area; and the Chairperson agreed. The Chairperson felt that the buildings as placed were aesthetically pleasing and would not have a negative impact on adjacent properties.

Ms. Meeuwse felt it was significant that a PUD was, by its purpose, meant to be developed with flexibility so as not to create a traditional platted area appearance. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell agreed.

Planning Commission members concluded that the deviations on each site would have no negative impact on adjacent properties.

The Commission next considered whether the dimensional deviations would promote public health, safety and welfare. Planning Commission members felt it was significant that sufficient building separation would be maintained to allow for emergency access and to promote the tranquility of the neighborhood and preserve greenspace. The Chairperson stated the separations in the project area were "aesthetically pleasing." The Chairperson observed that fencing could be placed on property line without reference to setback and that the placement of this fencing would, in most cases, be more objectionable than the placement of the buildings as sited.

Ms. Meeuwse agreed that the actual building separations were adequate to meet the intent and purposes of the PUD provisions and promote public health, safety and welfare. With regard to the deck, it was noted that a patio could be extended to the building line of a property. Therefore, the activities on the deck would be consistent with those activities which could traditionally take place in the back yard of the lot.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell questioned Ms. Harvey with regard to whether fire access was a concern. Ms. Harvey noted that the Fire Department had reviewed and approved of the proposed building separations.

Mr. Corakis stated that the deviations proposed were not a problem, in his opinion. Mr. Loy agreed, stating that they were not major deviations and, since the Fire Department was satisfied, he felt that they would promote public health, safety and welfare. He, too, felt that changing location by a few feet would not add to public health, safety or welfare. Mr. Block agreed. Mr. Block felt it was significant that the deck proposed for lot 22 would not be enclosed.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell was concerned that the property on lot 21 could put in a building addition and narrow the building separation.

Mr. Block felt that the Planning Commission should consider each application on a case-by-case basis. He felt that, in some cases, depending on the improvement proposed, a resulting 10-15' of building separation might be acceptable. He felt that each instance of deviation would have its own factors which would bear on whether the deviation promoted the purpose of the PUD provisions.

The Chairperson made specific reference to the deviation concerning lot 33 from the setback from the lines between lots 33 and 32. He was concerned about the comments of the home owner on lot 32 that there had been trespassing by construction equipment on his property. However, it was recognized this could take place even with the full compliance with setback provisions and should be addressed through enforcement measures.

The Planning Commission next discussed whether the proposed deviations would encourage the use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. The Chairperson felt that deviation would, in general, promote the efficient and economical use of land. Deviations were appropriate to provide flexibility to PUD development. The Planning Commission members concurred.

Mr. Corakis moved to table the item to the meeting of June 11, 1998. This motion died for lack of support.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the special exception use/site plan review so as to grant the proposed deviations, conditioned upon Fire Department review and approval, finding that the proposed deviations met the purposes of a Planned Unit Development and deviation was therefore appropriate pursuant to Section 60.430(f). Ms. Meeuwse reasoned as follows:

(1) That deviation was compatible with other uses allowed in the "R-3" and "R-4" Districts. It was recognized that other development allowed in the Districts were higher in density and that the PUD provisions had been drafted so as not to rigidly impose setback and other dimensional standards.

(2) That the deviations would not negatively impact adjacent properties given the resulting building separations and given that altering the location of the building by a few feet would not have any discernable impact on adjacent properties.

(3) That deviation would promote public health, safety and welfare based upon resulting building separations and based on the finding that there would be no difference in the impact on adjacent properties as a result of the setback deviations. This finding was also based on Fire Department review and approval, and it was agreed that consideration of deviations had been made on a case-by-case basis after review of the project.

(4) That deviation would encourage use of land in accord with its character and adaptability given the overall design of the project, which was lower in density and preserved greenery and natural features.

Mr. Block seconded the motion.

Mr. Corakis commented that he would like to abstain from voting, and it was noted that he could not abstain except for conflict of interest.

The Chairperson commented that he felt it was important to note that the Planning Commission was examining the deviations and their impact on the project as a whole and on a case-by-case (lot-by-lot) basis. He felt there was flexibility inherent in the Ordinance and that this was desirable in PUD development.

The Chairperson opened the meeting for public comment on the motion.

Mr. Lohrmann stated that he felt it was significant that the owner of lot 21 could place an addition on its house in compliance with setbacks. He felt that granting deviation inhibited the neighbor from building on his or her property. He also felt that lot 32 could place an addition on its building, which would result in even more reduced building separation. He felt that the Planning Commission should be focusing on the provisions of the Ordinance which stated that deviation should not be in any manner detrimental.

Mr. Keltsch, owner of lot 33, stated he felt that there would be a negative impact from the deviation. Further, he felt that the neighborhood, which had signed a petition, also felt there would be negative impact. He was of the opinion that deviation should have been brought up before the homes were built.

Attorney Chojnowski stated that Mr. Lohrmann was referring to language in the special use provision but that the PUD provisions had their own criteria allowing for deviation, and he read the language in question. He was of the opinion that the Planning Commission's discussion had indicated that deviation met the purpose of the PUD provisions and that the Planning Commission had applied the correct analysis.

Pamela Blowers stated that, in her opinion, the Planning Commission should leave all homes already built, or those started, in place. She felt that the Planning Commission should be consistent.

Mr. Gergely commented that the owners of lot 21 did not oppose his application.

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

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented that, as between lots 32 and 33, she did not feel there was any negative impact from deviation; she felt that there would be no appreciable difference that would result from moving the home on lot 33 by 3Ż'. Further, she felt that the configuration of the proposed deck on lot 22 was significant in that it would be looking into the back yard of the neighboring property rather than aligned with the neighboring house. Therefore, deviation was appropriate.

The Chairperson commented that, given the overall development and given the intent of the PUD provisions, and the specifics of each lot, deviation was appropriate. However, he again expressed that he was troubled by the fact that the deviation was considered after the houses were built. He would like the Planning Commission to discuss revision of the Ordinance text to allow deviation only prior to building construction.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.

 

QUAIL MEADOWS PUD - EXPANSION - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW

The next item had been tabled from the meeting of April 23, 1998, and was the application of Bruce Brown, representing United Homes, for special exception use/site plan amendment for approval of expansion of the Quail Meadows Planned Unit Development on 8.45 acres. A letter had been received from the applicant, asking that the item be tabled indefinitely. The Planning Commission expressed concern with tabling the matter indefinitely and felt that the proper procedure would be for the applicant to withdraw the item and to reapply at such time as the applicant was able to firmly propose its plans. The applicant agreed to withdraw the item.

 

SEELYE WEST - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN AMENDMENT - EXPANSION OF SALES/REPAIR FACILITY - 6883 WEST MAIN

The next item was consideration of the application of Bruce VanderWeele on behalf of Seelye West for special exception use/site plan amendment to allow for expansion of the car sales/repair facility at 6883 West Main. The subject property is located in the SW╝ of Land Section 14 and is within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification.

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

Ms. Harvey noted that, in previous approvals, the Planning Commission had been concerned with the service road extension and screening of area residential properties. These issues would be impacted by the present proposal. In previous approvals, the Planning Commission had wanted the applicant to accommodate the service road extension and its eventual connection to 8th Street in a subsequent phase. Further, Ms. Harvey was concerned that the applicant provide specific description of the uses proposed for this facility. She felt that the Planning Commission should determine whether the site would continue to be primarily for vehicle display and sale with service incidental or whether the alterations to the site would render the service component a primary use.

In response to questions from the Chairperson, Ms. Harvey stated that the owner of this site is the owner of the land to the south. The display lot is part of a larger parcel, and the applicant does not have specific plans for the southern portion at this time.

In response to questions by Ms. Heiny-Cogswell, Ms. Harvey illustrated the location of the proposed service road.

The applicant was present, stating that the proposed building addition would contain sales offices and a 50' x 60' vehicle repair area. No body work was planned for the area, and it would be used for maintenance of vehicles to be sold at the site. No other changes were proposed. Mr. VanderWeele stated that the 8th Street access point was not shown because the applicant did not anticipate the building addition would interfere with the eventual extension of the future service road. He felt that a lot of screening had been previously established at the site and that no further screening was necessary with this application. The site is connected to municipal sewer and utilizes well water. The building addition would accommodate six additional bays. There are presently six bays in the service area at the site.

Mr. Block commented that the number of bays seemed excessive given the main use was purported to be vehicle sales and display. Other Planning Commission members agreed, and the Chairperson expressed that he felt the manager or owner of the site should be present to provide further information with regard to the operation of the use.

Ms. Meeuwse had questions with regard to the display area or portions thereof. She felt that portions of the display area were not in fact used for that purpose.

Michael Pashby, a resident of 8th Street, noted that there was a lot of noise from the paging system coming from the site. Further, he is a mechanic and stated that he knows that the repair portion of the site services other cars than those displayed and sold at the site. He represented that the site also does warranty work for other Seelye vehicle lots. He also felt that an additional six bays was excessive if the site was only servicing those vehicles which would be sold on site. He was concerned that even more noise would be generated from the garage equipment with the proposed addition.

Lee Larson, an 8th Street resident, had similar concerns. He stated that he and his wife had asked the manager at the site to close the bays at night so that they could hear their television set. He felt that the applicant should be required to provide additional screening as a sound barrier. He noted that he heard activity at the site as late as 9:00 p.m.

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

The Chairperson again stated that he needed more information which would provide clarification as to hours of operation, etc. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell was concerned that the service was a primary use rather than an accessory use. Ms. Harvey noted that the impact of the service portion being a primary rather than secondary use was a the Zoning Board of Appeals matter, and it would consider the site plan review as a permitted use. The review would take in somewhat different issues.

After further discussion, Mr. Block moved to send the item to the Zoning Board of Appeals for site plan review, finding that the service repair component of the site had become a primary use. The motion was seconded by Mr. Loy. The Planning Commission noted that they would like the Zoning Board of Appeals to consider and maintain the service drive and have sensitivity toward protecting the residential uses in the area.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

There was a discussion of the fact that in July the work session would be the second meeting rather than the first.

There was discussion of the preceding joint meeting with the Township Board.

 

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 11:10 p.m.

 Minutes prepared:
May 18, 1998

Minutes approved:
May 28, 1998