OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS MINUTES

May 18, 1998

______________________________________________________________________________

Agenda

AMERICAN RED CROSS - VARIANCE FROM COMMUNICATION TOWER SETBACK - MICHIGAN AVENUE AND WHITEGATE LANE (5642 VENTURE COURT, UNITS #4-#7, VENTURE PARK)

SOCCERZONE - SITE PLAN REVIEW - PROPOSED 43,500+ SQ. FT. INDOOR SOCCER COMPLEX - SOUTH SIDE STADIUM DRIVE, APPROX. 1,400' EAST OF S. 8TH STREET

TIMMER (TERRY'S ROAD SERVICE) - VARIANCE FROM OFF-STREET PARKING - 2925 RED BUD TRAIL (LOT 413, WESTPORT #10)

NAYLOR LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT - SITE PLAN REVIEW/VARIANCE REQUEST - WEST SIDE OF S. 8TH STREET SOUTH OF WEST KL AVENUE

___________________________________________________________________________

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, May 18, 1998, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

MEMBERS PRESENT:

Thomas Brodasky, Acting Chairperson
Lara Meeuwse
David Bushouse

MEMBERS ABSENT:

Brian Dylhoff
William Saunders

Also present were Mike West on behalf of the Planning and Zoning Department, Scott Paddock, Ordinance Enforcement Officer, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and approximately twelve (12) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

 

MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of May 4, 1998. Ms. Meeuwse stated that the name on page 3 should be Barbara Burr. Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

The Acting Chairperson cautioned that, since there were only three members present, decisions would have to be unanimous or no action would result. He noted that applicants had the option of adjourning their item to a later meeting.

 

AMERICAN RED CROSS - VARIANCE FROM COMMUNICATION TOWER SETBACK - MICHIGAN AVENUE AND WHITEGATE LANE (5642 VENTURE COURT, UNITS #4-#7, VENTURE PARK)

The next item was the application of Charles Bell, representing the American Red Cross, for variance approval from the communications tower setback requirements established by Section 60.630 of the Zoning Ordinance. The subject site is located at 5642 Venture Court, at the northwest corner of West Michigan Avenue and Whitegate Lane (Units #4-#7 of Venture Park) and is within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Mr. West noted that the Planning Commission had approved the placement of the tower on April 23, 1998, contingent upon the applicant's receipt of a variance from the communication tower setback standards. The applicant was seeking to allow for the placement of a 130'-high emergency communications tower approximately 130' from the West Michigan Avenue and Whitegate Lane rights-of-way (150' required) and approximately 225' from the Venture Court right-of-way (150' required). It was noted that the subject site is located at the terminus of Venture Court within the Venture Park Site Condominium project and has frontage on three public roads: Venture Court (west), West Michigan Avenue (south) and Whitegate Lane (east).

Mr. West explained the setback provisions applicable to the proposed tower. One provision required that towers be set back at least the height of the tower. The proposed tower would meet this setback requirement. However, a setback of 150' from public street is also required, and on-site improvements prevent the placement of this tower in compliance with the setback standards from all three abutting streets. It was noted that an alternate location exists in the northwest corner of the site but that this location would be "closer" to the residential neighborhood in the area.

The applicant was present, stating that the tower would be "noncommercial." He felt that the tower had been placed in the location which would best meet the criteria of the Ordinance and the needs of the site. He stated that placement in the northwest corner would require extra cable and would be nearer to residential development. It was noted that a number of area residents had appeared at the Planning Commission to express concerns about the tower. The proposed location would maximize the distance from the residential area and be convenient for the site's needs. He noted that additional screening would be placed in the area of the base of the tower.

In response to questioning by Ms. Meeuwse, the applicant stated that the tower would have a similar appearance to the Township's communications tower. There was discussion of the co-location of ham radio antennas on the tower. Mr. Bushouse made reference to a tower at 4th and West Main used by ham operators, and the applicant responded that this was a different group than would co-locate on the Red Cross tower.

The Acting Chairperson called for public comment, and Gordon VanGelder commented that he is the Emergency Management Director for Kalamazoo County. He reiterated the comments in support of the tower that he made at the Planning Commission meeting.

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

Ms. Meeuwse stated her concern that the applicant had not considered all possible locations. Mr. Bushouse queried whether the needs of the site could have been met by co-location on an existing tower. Further, he would like to have seen the applicant explore placing a tower on the building. However, he was satisfied that the location would be a safe one in that, if the tower were to fall, it would not fall on any portion of the road or adjacent property. The Acting Chairperson noted he felt that the physical limitations on the site, i.e., the three abutting roads and the existing improvements, was a significant factor.

Mike West discussed the area zoning. Board members expressed some concern with setting a precedent but felt there were unique circumstances justifying the variance in this case which could distinguish it from future applications in the area.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the variance as requested with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was unnecessarily burdensome. There were other options for placement of the tower, but the unique circumstances in the existing site improvements and the fact that the lot abutted three public streets limited the placement of the tower and the ability to comply with setbacks. Further, alternative locations for the tower would be undesirable in that they would move the tower closer to the residential neighborhood in the area. Further, it was felt significant that, given the use of the site, the Planning Commission had concluded that the tower was a necessary on-site component of the Red Cross facility.

(2) That substantial justice required variance approval, taking into account the fact that the subject site abuts three public roads and that, given the on-site improvements, compliance with all setbacks was not possible.

(3) That there were unique circumstances justifying the variance due to the fact that the site abutted three public roads.

(4) That the hardship was self-created.

(5) That the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be observed through granting the variance in that the tower would be set back an adequate distance from residences, residentially zoned property and abutting streets. The proposed location was the optimum location given the residential development in the area. Further, the Planning Commission's approval and its requirement of additional landscaping would serve to provide enhanced visual screening to adjacent roadways.

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

 

SOCCERZONE - SITE PLAN REVIEW - PROPOSED 43,500+ SQ. FT. INDOOR SOCCER COMPLEX - SOUTH SIDE STADIUM DRIVE, APPROX. 1,400' EAST OF S. 8TH STREET

The next application was that of Terry Schley of Service & Design Group Architects, representing SoccerZone, Inc., for site plan review of a proposed 43,500+ sq. ft. indoor soccer complex. The subject site is located along the north south side of Stadium Drive approximately 1,400 east of South 8th Street and is within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification.

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

Mr. West noted that the site is located within the Village Focus Area and discussed the surrounding zoning.

The applicant was present, stating that he was available for questions. He noted that the building would include two indoor soccer fields with related facilities. No pro shop would be included. Mr. Schley advocated that the Board impose no requirement for screening along the AT&T right-of-way. He stated that the applicant was, however, amenable to working with the Township to meet the goals of the Village Focus Area Plan.

Mr. Brodasky questioned the applicant with regard to the operation, and it was noted that it would operate primarily in afternoons, evenings and weekends. Late October through April 1 of each year was the peak period.

Ms. Meeuwse questioned the applicant regarding the use of future buildings, and it was noted that this was undefined. Mr. Schley stated that, although this is speculative, there was some discussion of recreational tennis in the future building. The applicant felt that this was a community-oriented business in that the recreational nature of the business would be in accord with the Village Focus Area Development Plan.

The applicant, in response to questioning from the Acting Chairperson, stated that the dumpster pad would be located on the south side of the building and would accommodate trash and recycling. The applicant stated that no outdoor activities were proposed.

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

There was discussion of the proposed access drive; the drive would require a deviation from the Access Management Guidelines in that it was not the minimum distance required from area residential drives. Mr. West responded that there are residential drives immediately north and south of the site and that there would be no way to place a driveway on the site in full compliance with spacing requirements. He felt that the drive had been placed so as to be as far as possible from adjacent drives.

Mr. Bushouse noted that the Township park, Flescher Field, is on parcel 010 to the south. He expressed some concern about the fact that the building proposed would be large and, if converted in the future, the size of the building might lead to use by a large commercial entity, which would not be in keeping with the goals of the Village Focus Area. Mr. Bushouse was also in favor of the applicant establishing a sidewalk or pedestrian walkways consistent with the Village Focus Area Plan. It was noted that the Planning Commission is considering amendment to the Zoning Ordinance text to further implement the Village Focus Area.

Discussion of screening along the AT&T right-of-way recommenced, and Mr. Bushouse noted that the property to the south, the park, is heavily wooded. He did not feel it was necessary to screen along the south, i.e., the AT&T right-of-way, but felt it would be important to provide further screening on each side to screen area residences.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the site plan with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That the access was approved as proposed, noting that it met all but one Access Management Guideline provision. Deviation from the spacing requirement was felt to be appropriate due to the fact that the drive was placed in the optimum location given existing residential drives and the frontage of the site.

(2) That a total of 158 parking spaces as proposed was found to be satisfactory and that all parking spaces must comply with the dimensional standards of 10' x 20'.

(3) That all barrier-free parking is subject to ADA and Michigan Barrier-Free Guidelines and is to be designated by signage and pavement logo.

(4) That the proposed building setbacks comply with Ordinance standards.

(5) That no outdoor storage had been proposed or approved.

(6) That the proposed dumpster location is acceptable and that an enclosure proposal be detailed and submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(7) That outdoor lighting comply with Section 78.700 and a lighting proposal be detailed and submitted to the Township staff for review and approval pursuant to Section 78.700(g).

(8) That all signage comply with Sections 76.125/76.135 and be reviewed and approved through the permit process.

(9) That a landscape plan be submitted to Township staff for review and approval and that the plan be consistent with the goals and objectives of the Village Focus Area Development Plan. It was specifically required that additional screening be established along the west and east sides (adjacent to existing residential and abutting the agricultural district). There was no requirement that additional screening be placed along the AT&T right-of-way but that existing vegetation be retained as far as was practicable.

(10) That approval is subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department.

(11) That approval was subject to the review and approval of the Township Engineer.

(12) That issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy is contingent on final inspections and approvals from the Building, Mechanical, Electrical, Fire, Planning and Zoning Departments to insure compliance with all applicable standards and conditions.

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

 

TIMMER (TERRY'S ROAD SERVICE) - VARIANCE FROM OFF-STREET PARKING - 2925 RED BUD TRAIL (LOT 413, WESTPORT #10)

The next item was the application of Craig Timmer, representing Terry's Road Service, Inc., for variance approval from the off-street parking requirements established by Section 68.150 of the Zoning Ordinance. The subject site is located at 2925 Red Bud Trail and is within the "R-2" Residence District zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. The Acting Chairperson noted receipt of a petition in opposition to the variance signed by several area residents.

The applicant was present, stating that variance was sought so that the applicant could park a 15-ton commercial wrecker in front of the residence at 2925 Red Bud Trail. Section 68.150 of the Zoning Ordinance limits the parking of motor vehicles within the residential zone to passenger vehicles and one commercial vehicle of light delivery type not exceeding one-ton-rated load-carrying capacity.

The applicant stated that he was on call every night of the week and that, due to the necessary response time, he would like to have his vehicle available at his residence. He stated that, at times, the vehicle was requested at accident sites to lift vehicles so as to get a victim out of a vehicle. He stated that the vehicle would primarily be parked at the site late at night and leave before dawn.

Mr. Brodasky expressed concern that the location is in a residential plat on a cul-de-sac and therefore would be highly visible to area residents. He was concerned about setting an undesirable precedent in that others would seek to park heavy equipment in a residential district.

Mr. Bushouse questioned the applicant, and it was noted that the vehicle was "48,000 GVW." The applicant stated that the weight of the vehicle was exempt from county weight restrictions due to the emergency nature of the vehicle.

The Acting Chairperson sought public comment, and William Murphy, a resident of Red Bud Trail, stated that he felt the applicant had not made enough of an effort to locate the vehicle elsewhere in the Township, possibly in a commercial or industrial zone.

Richard Grubb, another neighbor of the property, agreed, echoing support for the petition submitted in opposition to the proposal. He noted that, on occasion, the truck was on site all day.

James Chamness, another representative of Terry's Road Service, stated that the truck was needed on site in order to meet response times, and that this was a "lifesaving activity."

There was no other public comment offered, and the public hearing was closed. The Acting Chairperson stated he saw no basis for granting the variance. Mr. Bushouse concurred, stating that the use was "commercial in nature" and should be located in a Commercial or Industrial zone.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to deny the variance with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was not unnecessarily burdensome in that the applicant had reasonable use of the property with denial of the variance. She noted further that the Ordinance allows light delivery-type commercial vehicles but the vehicle in question is greatly out of character with the residential nature of the area.

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of denying the variance in that the vehicle is out of character with the surrounding area, and that the variance would lead to other similar requests. It was felt it was significant that the vehicle was proposed to be parked in a plat. Board members felt that the response to the application might be different if it was proposed that the vehicle be parked on a large unplatted residential parcel.

(3) That there were no unique physical limitations preventing compliance.

(4) That the hardship was self-created.

(5) That variance was not in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ordinance and would be contrary to the health, safety and welfare. It was felt that the parking of the vehicle would be contrary to the purpose of Section 68.150 and contrary to the purpose of the "R-2" District.

Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion. Mr. Bushouse expressed concern with commercial vehicles in platted areas.

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

 

NAYLOR LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT - SITE PLAN REVIEW/VARIANCE REQUEST - WEST SIDE OF S. 8TH STREET SOUTH OF WEST KL AVENUE

The next item was the application of Richard Tracy of Eckert/Wordell Architects, representing Naylor Landscape Management, for site plan review of a proposed 9,453 9,341 sq. ft. landscape contractor services facility. Variance approval from the outdoor storage requirements established by Section 41.301 of the Zoning Ordinance would also be considered. The subject site is located along the left side of South 8th Street approximately 1,500' south of West KL Avenue and is within the "I-1" Industrial District zoning classification.

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

Mr. West noted that the parcel in question had been created from a split of the parcel upon which the Woodsmith's facility had been approved. At the time of the approval of the Woodsmith's development, the Zoning Board of Appeals required that the site be served by a single access point and recognized that it had been centrally located so as to allow for a shared-access arrangement with future development of the southern portion of the property. Therefore, the Board should consider use of this shared drive by the subject applicant. It was noted that the proposed use was similar to the Pennings facility located on KL Avenue. The proposal included a portion of the site which would be used by a future tenant who at present was unknown. It was suggested that the approval would require approval of any change in use for that tenant's space. The retention area had been designed in such a way as to require fencing. It was noted that the applicant may redesign the area so as to eliminate the need for fencing.

As to the variance request, it was noted that the Ordinance allows for outdoor storage up to 100% of the building size. Therefore, the applicant was allowed approximately 9,300 sq. ft. under the Ordinance provision. Approximately 11,300 sq. ft. was sought. The storage area would include parking for truck/trailer combinations.

The applicant was present and stated that they had just learned the previous Friday that shared access was suggested. They had not had a chance to discuss this with the Woodsmith's. It was noted that previously the Woodsmith's had offered the applicant use of the shared access point. Ms. Meeuwse questioned the applicant with regard to the mezzanine which would be located over the south part of the offices. It would be used for storage of small items. The applicant had submitted a hazardous substance report and would comply with the groundwater protection standards.

Mr. West noted that no previous variances regarding size of outdoor storage area had been considered. In response to questioning by Mr. Bushouse, Barney Naylor stated that the storage would consist primarily of materials for landscaping projects, loaders and tractors. Truck and trailer combinations would be parked on the paved surface. The other storage would be on a gravel surface. There were, therefore, two types of storage: (1) equipment and supplies and (2) vehicles and trailers. The applicant stated that much of the landscaping materials were live, such as trees which had been "balled and burlaped." He stated that these materials typically took up a lot of area. The live materials could not be neatly stacked.

Ms. Meeuwse expressed concern that the proposed use would be consuming the entire outdoor storage allotment allowed by the Ordinance and that the tenant who might establish in the building in the future would be very limited as to outdoor storage.

The Acting Chairperson called for public comment, and there was discussion of the proposed shared access with the Woodsmith's. Ms. Meeuwse noted that, in its original approval, the Zoning Board of Appeals had suggested shared access for the entire site in that the goal of the Township was to cut down on curb cuts and eliminate the possibility of accidents.

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

Mr. West questioned the applicant as to the number of vehicles which would be parked on the paved area, and the applicant responded that there were up to nine trucks with trailers currently. The applicant stated that approximately 7,500 sq. ft. was devoted to landscaping materials and the rest was for equipment, trucks and trailers. In the off season, the snow removal activities of the business would mean that the trucks would "always be moving." The trailers, however, would remain idle.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve site plan review with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That the subject site share its access with the Woodsmith's facility pursuant to the previous condition of the Woodsmith's site plan approval on May 6, 1996. This approval was subject to preparation and submittal of a revised site plan which identifies the shared access arrangement with the Woodsmith's drive to the north. The revised site plan is subject to review and approval by Township staff. Further, a copy of the written, executed and recorded cross-access easement shall be submitted and retained on file with the Township.

(2) That, as to parking, a revised site plan providing 26 parking spaces on site shall be prepared and submitted to Township staff for review and approval. All parking spaces must comply with dimensional standards of 10' x 20'.

(3) That all barrier-free parking is subject to ADA and Michigan Barrier-Free Guidelines and is to be designated by signage and pavement logo.

(4) That the proposed building setbacks comply with Ordinance standards.

(5) That, as to outdoor storage, reference was made to the variance request; and it was required that the site comply with Ordinance limitations unless variance were granted.

(6) That the proposed dumpster location is acceptable; however, a dumpster enclosure proposal must be detailed and submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(7) That all outdoor lighting must be provided in compliance with the lighting guidelines of Section 78.700 and a lighting proposal shall be detailed and submitted to Township staff for review and approval pursuant to Section 78.700(g).

(8) That signage must comply with Sections 76.130/76/135 and be reviewed and approved through the permit process.

(9) That screening is not required.

(10) That the intent to preserve existing natural features in character with the general area should be reflected on a landscape plan detailed and submitted to Township staff for review and approval.

(11) That approval is subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department.

(12) That approval is subject to the review and approval of the Township Engineer. The applicant's intent to redesign the retention area to eliminate the fencing was referenced.

(13) That any future change in use of the building/site, i.e., use other than for "contractors services related to the building trades," will be subject to the review and approval/amendment by the appropriate reviewing body.

(14) That issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy is contingent on final inspections/ approvals from the Building, Mechanical, Electrical, Fire, Planning and Zoning Departments to insure compliance with all applicable standards and conditions.

(15) That proposed development will include an on-site water well and septic system, and approval shall be subject to the review and approval of the Kalamazoo County Health Department.

(16) That an environmental checklist and hazardous substance reporting form was completed and submitted regarding the Naylor Landscape Management portion. Approval is subject to the preparation and submittal of an environmental permit checklist and hazardous substance reporting form for any future new tenant or "use" of the 2,114 sq. ft. leased portion of the building and must be reviewed and approved pursuant to Section 69.000.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Bushouse and carried unanimously.

The Board discussed the variance application, and again Ms. Meeuwse expressed concern that the storage would consume that allowed for both portions of the site. She was concerned that a future tenant would seek further variance to allow more storage.

There was discussion of the nature of the storage, and again it was noted that approximately 7,500 sq. ft. of the storage is for landscaping/live materials. Mr. Brodasky, the Acting Chairperson, felt it was significant that the landscaping materials were such that storage would not produce an objectionable external effect.

The Board considered whether the conformance would be unnecessarily burdensome. It was noted that the applicant was allotted, under Ordinance standards, 9,341 sq. ft. of outdoor storage. This would ordinarily offer reasonable use of the property without variance. However, given the nature of the use in question, and the need for larger area to accommodate the storage of live landscaping materials, it was felt that 11,340 sq. ft. of storage was reasonably needed to accommodate the use.

 

As to substantial justice, it was noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals had not previously considered such a variance; and it was recognized that the decision might lead to other similar variance requests. However, considering the character of the area, it was felt that the extent of storage requested would not be out of keeping character with the area, particularly given the type of materials stored.

It was felt there were no unique physical circumstances preventing compliance; however, Board members felt that the storage of live plants, which would take up more space than the normal contractors' services business (who would be able to stack materials) presented a unique circumstance.

It was felt that the hardship was self-created; however, Board members reasoned that the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be served and the public health, safety and welfare observed by granting the variance.

It was recognized that the intent of the Ordinance was to provide reasonable outdoor storage compatible with other industrially related activities. However, there was an intent to primarily deal with businesses which were carried on within a fully enclosed building and which produced little effect of an objectionable nature to surrounding properties. Board members felt that the variance would offer reasonable storage given the use. Further, given the materials to be stored, the storage would not have an external effect of an objectionable nature to surrounding properties.

Based upon this reasoning, Mr. Bushouse moved to grant variance as proposed by the applicant, which would involve approximately 7,500 sq. ft. of storage for landscaping and live materials and the remainder of the total 11,340 sq. ft. would be devoted to equipment, truck and trailer parking.

Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion, commenting that she felt it was important to caution the applicant that no further outdoor storage would be granted to the site.

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

 

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:35 p.m.

Minutes Prepared:
May 20, 1998

Minutes Approved:
June 1, 1998