OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

May 24, 2005

Agenda

METRO LEASING, LLC - VARIANCE - DISPLAY IN BUILDING SETBACK - 5850 AND 5900 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-25-180-015 AND 3905-25-305-045)

METRO LEASING, LLC - SIGN DEVIATION - FREESTANDING SIGNS - 5850 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-180-015)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, May 24, 2005, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott, Acting Chairman
Dave Bushouse
Grace Borgfjord
Duane McClung

MEMBER ABSENT: Millard Loy

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

CALL TO ORDER

The Acting Chairman called the meeting to order at approximately 3:00 p.m.

MINUTES

The Acting Chairman said that the first item on the Agenda was consideration of the minutes of April 26 and May 5, 2005. Ms. Borgfjord asked that the reference to "Lexan" be removed from the comments in the first paragraph on page 6, of the May 5, 2005 minutes. The Acting Chairman asked if there were any further revisions to the May 5, 2005 minutes or the minutes of April 26, 2005. Ms. Borgfjord made a motion to approve the minutes of April 26, 2005, and to approve the minutes of May 5, 2005, as corrected. Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

METRO LEASING, LLC - VARIANCE - DISPLAY IN BUILDING SETBACK - 5850 AND 5900 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-25-180-015 AND 3905-25-305-045)

The Acting Chairman stated that the next item for consideration was a request from Metro Leasing, LLC , located at 5850 and 5900 Stadium Drive, Parcel Nos. 3905-25-180-015 and 3905-25-305-045. He then asked for a report from the Staff. Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Zoning Board of Appeals dated May 24, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia explained to the Zoning Board of Appeals that the applicant was requesting approval to display vehicles in the required building setback area under Section 31.403 of the Zoning Ordinance. She said that the current area for displaying vehicles complies with the Ordinance requirement of 120 feet from the centerline of Stadium Drive right-of-way line and 70 feet from the Quail Run Drive right-of-way line.

Ms. Stefforia told the Board that the property at 5900 Stadium Drive had been recently acquired and combined with the property to the east, even though tax records did not yet reflect the combination.

Ms. Stefforia then went through a brief history of the uses at 5850 Stadium Drive and 5900 Stadium Drive. She said that the applicant was requesting a setback variance for both sites as set forth in the applicant's narrative. She added that, if the display is going to be within the road right-of-way, they would also have to obtain authorization from the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

Ms. Stefforia took the Board through the Planning Department's report and the standards for approval for a nonuse variance. The Staff report concluded that conformance would not be unnecessarily burdensome, since both sites currently have approved outdoor display areas in compliance with the Ordinance. However, substantial justice would not be served in granting the variance, since other parties receiving a variance had specific site restrictions, such as size or width of the lot, not applicable to the applicant. Staff also found no unique limitations or physical conditions exist on the property to prevent compliance. It being in the applicant's best interest to decrease greenspace and bring paving closer to the road right-of-way, Staff concluded that the hardship was self-created. With regard to whether the spirit of the Ordinance would be observed, public health, safety and welfare secured and substantial justice done, Staff submitted that the spirit of the Ordinance would be violated if the variances were granted, and it would be more appropriate to ask the Planning Commission and the Township Board to amend the Ordinance, eliminating setback requirements for outdoor display, rather than grant the variance.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Stefforia. There being none, the Acting Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Bob Lennon introduced himself to the Board as the attorney for Metro Leasing, LLC. He then took the opportunity to introduce Jeff DeNooyer of Metro Leasing.

Mr. Lennon began by explaining that the three properties, Metro Toyota, the former Deep Sea Aquarium property and the Chevrolet dealership were really operating as one business entity. He said all of the principals were the same, and it was important to look at the site as a single business operation.

Mr. Lennon explained that DeNooyer had received a variance in 1984 and that they were looking to obtain the same setback variance for Metro Toyota and for the former Deep Sea Aquarium property. He said, when Metro Toyota was developed in 1988, they thought they had sufficient area to handle the inventory, but with the increase in sales, they were looking to the Township to help line up Metro Toyota and their used car sales with the DeNooyer property. He said, in doing so, they would create one uniform setback along Stadium Drive and Quail Run, which would provide a better-looking site. He said it would also allow them to better integrate the sites and allow desperately-needed area for additional sales and inventory for Metro Toyota. Attorney Lennon said the he did not think that the restriction, as applied to his client, made sense. He said it was a distinction without a difference.

Mr. Lennon then proceeded to read Section 31.403 to the Board, and said that the provision of the Ordinance made sense, except when it came to trucks and cars. He said that parking was a permissible use in the area, but not for the purpose of sales. He said he did not think it made any sense to exclude passenger cars and trucks from the area for purposes of sales and yet allow the use of that area for a parking lot. He said the Ordinance would allow putting their Staff parking lot in front of their sales area, but he did not think it would be aesthetically pleasing, nor would it serve the purpose for which the property was zoned.

Mr. Lennon then reviewed the individual criteria, arguing that conformance with the Ordinance was unnecessarily burdensome in that it would require putting employees' vehicles out in front of the inventory for Metro Toyota, which would be incompatible with the operation of a car sales facility.

Mr. Lennon said they thought substantial justice could be done to the applicant and other property owners in the district since there was no negative impact to any of the businesses in the area. Also Metro Toyota was purchased as an automobile dealership at approximately the same time that DeNooyer purchased the property for a dealership, but they simply had not applied for the variance at that time.

Mr. Lennon said he thought that there were unique physical characteristics, given the need to integrate the Metro site with the properties, both to the east and to the west. He also said that his client had not created the hardship, and that the hardship was created by the application of the Ordinance to his client's property.

Attorney Lennon concluded by saying that his client wanted to be a good corporate citizen, and, because their sales were up 30% this year alone, his client needed additional space, or they would be forced to do something different. He said that he hoped that the Township would work with Metro Leasing to grant the relief requested.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions for Mr. Lennon. Hearing none, he asked to hear from Mr. DeNooyer.

Mr. DeNooyer explained to the Zoning Board of Appeals that he and his partners had owned the property for approximately 17 years. He said they had always lived with the restrictions, but they never had anticipated that they would use all of the space which they currently had. He said, when they started, they had 28 employees and sold approximately 500 new cars a year and 250 used cars per year. He said they now have 75 employees and sell approximately 1,000 new cars a year and 600 used cars a year. He noted that the growth in the last few years had grown expediently and that they needed additional space. He indicated that Toyota was actually reviewing their dealerships to determine whether they had adequate space to continue to grow. He said that all they were asking for was 51 additional spaces, 28 spaces for Metro Toyota and 23 additional spaces for the used car division. He said they had talked to their neighbors, who he thought were supportive. He surmised that the reduction in greenspace would not be inconsistent with other commercial properties along Stadium Drive, particularly in the Village area. He also thought it would not have a negative impact on public safety and asked that the Board consider granting their request.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the public. Kris Kirkpatrick, representing the Quail Run Association, introduced herself to the Board. She said she respectfully disagreed with Mr. Lennon's and Mr. DeNooyer's presentations. She said she had picked up on the implied threat from the corporation and did not think that the Board should succumb to such tactics. She told the Board that the Association did not have a problem with some of the variances which had been granted, but was deeply disturbed by the change in the use from the Deep Sea Aquarium. She said initially it was to be a Jaguar-Hummer dealership, and now it is going to be a used car lot. She said she saw an erosion to the quality of the residential area. She explained that she represented 48 taxpaying property owners who wanted to protest the decrease in the value of their property. She said the elimination of the greenspace, coupled with a used car lot, would have a negative impact on the Quail Run Condominium development. She said she believed it was reasonable to deny the request, based upon the impact upon the quality of life and loss of greenspace, and asked that the Board respectively reject the requested variance.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was further public comment, and hearing none, he closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Board deliberations. The Acting Chairman said that the Board had heard the various comments and asked if the Board wanted to proceed through each individual point.

Mr. Bushouse said that, when he had looked at the situation, he immediately noticed that the property to the east was operating right at the property line. Looking to the west, he had a hard time understanding why they should not be consistent. He said it was typical to see these types of uses at the property line. The Zoning Board of Appeals had authorized other similar uses throughout the Township. He said, in order to be consistent, he thought they should grant the variance. He said they would still have a substantial greenspace similar to Rykse's and that it would create a more uniform setback along Stadium Drive.

Mr. McClung said he had to agree with Mr. Bushouse. He said he did not see any difference between DeNooyer, Metro and Rykse's, and thought they should have similar setbacks and greenspace.

Based on the comments she heard, Ms. Stefforia commented that it sounded as if the Board was saying that the setback provisions for this type of outdoor sales should be excluded from the Ordinance. Mr. Bushouse said he was not saying that, because there were certain types of sales, as pointed out by Attorney Lennon, that should not be within the setback area. He said that perhaps they should take passenger vehicles out of the restrictions involving outdoor sales.

Ms. Borgfjord asked the developer if providing approximately 50 parking spaces would be sufficient to handle the growth anticipated by Metro Toyota. Mr. DeNooyer said he thought that adding the additional 51 spaces would be sufficient. He said they would try to limit their inventory, but must carry additional cars and trucks as Toyota expands its automotive lines.

Ms. Borgfjord asked if Metro Toyota could use part of DeNooyer Chevrolet's lot. Mr. DeNooyer said that was absolutely prohibited by the manufacturer. He said that would have served their interest years ago, but it was absolutely prohibited by any of the car manufacturing companies. He said they not only had to have separate lots, but separate buildings serving the separate dealerships.

Ms. Borgfjord asked what Metro Toyota was doing with the area in the rear. Mr. DeNooyer said that much of the area in the back was used for water retention. He said that area not used for water retention and a leaching pond was being used for employee parking.

Ms. Borgfjord asked if they would be adding additional lighting. Mr. DeNooyer said that they would be adding lighting in the parking lot, but he did not anticipate additional display lighting.

Ms. Borgfjord asked what the current greenspace was for Halli's Auto. Ms. Stefforia said they currently have 15 feet of greenspace. She noted that, if the relief was granted, Metro Leasing should still be required to have a greenspace from the property line in accordance with Township Ordinance.

Ms. Borgfjord expressed a concern about the ability to limit the types of passenger vehicles allowed on the lot. She said, if they allowed trucks and cars, would they have to allow SUV's, and would that lead to larger and larger vehicles being displayed in this area? Mr. Bushouse said there was always a tendency of different businesses to push the envelope, but thought that a clear demarcation line would develop over time, or that the Township could define where that line should be set.

The Acting Chairman said he had a concern about the loss of greenspace. He said he certainly thought that their development was far superior to what was on Stadium Drive to the east where the cars were displayed at the road right-of-way line. He said they had worked hard to preserve that, and he thought if a variance was granted, they should require a Type C greenspace, at the very minimum. He said he did not think it was up to the Zoning Board of Appeals to rewrite the Ordinance in that respect.

Mr. Bushouse said that they could make suggestions to the Planning Commission to consider changes. The Acting Chairman asked if they could grant the variance, subject to a special exception use permit being granted by the Planning Commission. Ms. Stefforia indicated that they could. Attorney Porter indicated that they could grant the variance subject to certain conditions.

The Acting Chairman asked if Toyota warehoused vehicles for Metro Toyota. Mr. DeNooyer said that they did not; he said, once the cars were built, they were shipped directly to the dealers, who were required to display the vehicles.

A brief discussion ensued regarding the number of vehicles which could be located on the property if there was an expansion of the parking area, not including the requisite greenspace.

Mr. Bushouse asked if the fact the property was located next to an existing dealership, which was allowed to display vehicles at the property line, made it unique. Attorney Porter said he did not believe that met the definition of unique physical characteristics of the property itself; it was more directed toward the issue of substantial justice.

Mr. Bushouse asked if limited land availability would be considered a unique factor. Attorney Porter indicated he did not believe it would meet that requirement.

Ms. Borgfjord was concerned with having only 20 feet of greenspace. Mr. McClung asked for what reason. She said, given the fact that there is substantial greenspace currently existing, she hated to see the loss of greenspace. Ms. Stefforia said that sometimes people simply outgrow their site. The Acting Chairman said he thought that the greenspace requirements currently applied up and down Stadium Drive. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the greenspace requirements had been applied to various businesses which had either recently developed or had revised their site plans in the area.

Mr. McClung asked what size greenspace Rykse's had . Ms. Stefforia said it was approximately ten to twelve feet.

Mr. DeNooyer said there would be additional greenspace consistent with other development in the area. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that much of the greenspace Mr. DeNooyer was pointing to was located within the public street right-of-way, and if the road expanded in the future, or if a boulevard were developed in that location, that portion of the greenspace would be gone.

Mr. Bushouse made a motion to allow outdoor display within the 20 feet of the property line. Mr. McClung seconded the motion. Attorney Porter noted that the Board needed to support their motion with specific findings of fact which would support such a motion. Mr. Bushouse said that the motion was supported by the fact that it was consistent with the neighborhood setbacks in the area, and it was consistent with what they had done for other vehicle sales facilities in the past.

The Acting Chairman asked what type of greenspace would be developed. Mr. Bushouse said the type of greenspace would be up to the Planning Commission to consider at the time the special use was granted. The Acting Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 3-to-1, with Ms. Borgfjord dissenting.

METRO LEASING, LLC - SIGN DEVIATION - FREESTANDING SIGNS - 5850 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-180-015)

The Acting Chairman indicated that the next item on the Agenda was the request of Metro Leasing, LLC for a sign deviation at 5850 Stadium Drive, Parcel No. 3905-25-180-015. The Acting Chairman asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report dated May 24, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated the applicant was requesting sign deviations to permit a pole sign exceeding permitted sign area by 2.2 square feet and exceeding sign support area by 20.6 square feet. The existing sign would be removed.

Ms. Bugge took the Board through the previous review and consideration of a sign deviation at the Board's December 14, 2004 meeting. She then compared the height, sign area and area of supports allowed for existing signs, the permitted pole sign and the proposed pole sign, comparing them to the deviation granted for the Jaguar pole sign on December 14, 2004. Ms. Bugge then proceeded to take the Board through the standards for approval for a sign deviation. At the conclusion, the Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the developer.

Mr. DeNooyer said that, after the December meeting, he had gone back to the manufacturer and explained they wanted a sign similar to that which had been permitted for the Jaguar pole sign. He then proceeded to present the proposed configuration to the Board members, by the way of an overhead, for their consideration. Mr. DeNooyer asked if there were any questions.

Ms. Borgfjord asked what portion of the sign would be lighted. Mr. Tim Wight of RWL Signs said only the text and logo would have internal lighting, and the rest of the sign would be of aluminum design and would be lighted from the exterior.

The Acting Chairman asked what hours the lights would be on. Mr. DeNooyer said that he thought it was lighted in the evening after closure. Mr. Wight said he thought the sign light was left on from dusk to dawn. Ms. Bugge pointed out that the applicant would need to landscape the base of the sign and submit a landscape plan to the Planning Department for review and approval. Mr. DeNooyer said that he understood.

The Acting Chairman said he thought this request was virtually the same as the deviation granted for the Jaguar sign.

A question ensued regarding the location of the sign. Ms. Bugge said the sign would have to be set back ten feet from the property line.

After further discussion, Ms. Borgfjord made a motion to approve the sign deviations for the reasons set forth in the Staff report, and that it was in line with the deviation granted for the Jaguar sign at the Board's December 14, 2004 meeting. She also noted, by allowing construction of the two smaller signs, they would be bringing the signs more into conformance with the current Ordinance. Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for further discussion. Hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

Ms. Bugge noted that Arby's was currently open and that their sign was constructed to Township Ordinance standards. She said that the deviation granted would have allowed a sign higher than Meijer's, and apparently, due to a restriction in the sales agreement, Arby's was limited to a sign no higher than any of the Meijer's preexisting signs.

Adjournment

There being no further business to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board adjourned at approximately 4:35 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
James Turcott, Acting Chairman

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
Grace Borgfjord

By:
Duane McClung

Minutes Prepared:
June 6, 2005

Minutes Approved:
, 2005