OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

November 15, 2005

Agenda

BOURNER - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH AND AREA VARIANCE - 2100 BLOCK OF NORTH 6TH STREET, WEST SIDE OF ROAD - (PARCEL NO. 3905-09-430-011)

HAYES - ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 7001 WEST H AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-11-105-010)

WAL-MART - WALL SIGN DEVIATION - 501 NORTH 9TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-305-022)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, November 15, 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 eight 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 to be considered was the minutes of October 25, 2005. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

BOURNER - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH AND AREA VARIANCE - 2100 BLOCK OF NORTH 6TH STREET, WEST SIDE OF ROAD - (PARCEL NO. 3905-09-430-011)

The Acting Chairman told the Board that the next item for consideration was the depth-to-width variance requested by Mrs. Jean Bourner. He explained that the Zoning Board of Appeals was being asked to consider a variance from Section 66.201 to allow a land division resulting in the creation of a parcel with depth greater than four times the width. He noted that the subject property was located in the 2100 block of North 6th Street, on the west side of the road, Parcel No. 3905-09-430-011. The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Zoning Board of Appeals dated November 15, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that the applicant was requesting two variances, one which would allow a land division resulting in two parcels that do not meet the 40-acre minimum required for the Agricultural District, and the second, for one parcel which would exceed the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio. Ms. Bugge noted that the applicant wished to divide the subject property and give five acres to her grandson, who is going to assist in the farming operation. Ms. Bugge explained that the applicant owned not only the subject property, but additional parcels near the subject property, which were used for farming purposes.

Ms. Bugge then took the Board through the Standards of Approval for a Nonuse Variance, again noting that it was the applicant's intention to continue the farming operation on both of the proposed properties and that the purpose for the variance was to allow the construction of a home for her grandson who assisted with the farming operation.

At the conclusion of Ms. Bugge's report, the Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions. Hearing no questions from the Board, the Acting Chairman asked if, after the parcels were divided, they would be renewed in Public Act 116. Ms. Bugge indicated she thought that they would, but that the applicant should address this issue.

The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. Mrs. Jean Bourner introduced herself to the Zoning Board of Appeals. She said the decision to split the property was made in conjunction with agricultural representatives in Lansing. She said she had to renew the P.A. 116 agreements every seven years, and they recommended she divide the property before renewing them again. She said she would be placing both of the properties back into P.A. 116, but she wanted to provide a site for her grandson to build a home so he could assist her in managing the farming operation. She said she thought much of the five acres would remain in hay and would continued to be used as part of their farming activities. Mrs. Bourner also noted that her grandson had a wife who wanted to have horses. The Acting Chairman asked if there were any public comments.

Ms. Vickie Alexander said she was a neighbor who owned property nearby. She encouraged the Board to approve the request for the variance because she wanted to see the Bourner farm continue to operate, and the assistance of Mrs. Bourner's grandson would allow that to happen.

Mr. Chris Gallop introduced himself to the Zoning Board of Appeals. He said he was Mrs. Bourner's grandson, and he requested that the Board grant the variance. He said he would like to build a house on the property and perhaps have a few horses. He said he needed to have a home located in close proximity to the farm in order to allow him to continue to manage the farming operation.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was further public comment. Hearing none, he closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Board deliberations.

The Acting Chairman said he did not believe that this request was unusual with regard to the depth-to-width matter. However, he said the request to divide agricultural property, as indicated by the Planning Department, was a new request.

Mr. Bushouse agreed with the Acting Chairman, but he thought division of the five acres was significant in this case because it was being done in order to preserve farm land. He said it is not unusual to need to construct a residence for a person doing the farming, and he thought the variance to grant that request would be consistent with the spirit and intent of the Ordinance. Mr. McClung and Ms. Borgfjord agreed.

Mr. McClung then made a motion to grant both the variance for the depth-to-width ratio and the five-acre division of the agricultural property for the reasons set forth in the record. Mr. McClung asked that the record note that the division of the agricultural property was specifically being granted for the reason of providing housing for Mrs. Bourner's grandson in order to give him a place to live while continuing to manage and operate the family farm. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

HAYES - ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 7001 WEST H AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-11-105-010)

The Acting Chairman indicated to the Board that the next item on the Agenda was consideration of a request for an accessory building review. He said the Board was being asked to conduct site plan review for a proposed 1,200 square foot accessory building where the area of the accessory building exceeds the ground floor area of the dwelling. He noted that the subject property is located at 7001 West H Avenue, Parcel No. 3905-11-105-010. The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge submitted her report to the Board dated November 15, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that the applicant was requesting to build a 1,200 square foot accessory building, which exceeded the ground floor area of the dwelling, which is 905 square feet. Ms. Bugge then proceeded to take the board through the Standards of Approval of an accessory building as provided under Section 78.820.

At the conclusion of Ms. Bugge's report, the Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Ms. Michelle Hayes introduced herself to the Board.

Mr. Bushouse asked if the proposed accessory building would be visible to the home immediately to the west. Ms. Hayes indicated that it would be. Mr. Bushouse then asked if she would agree to provide some screening for the home to the west. Ms. Hayes stated that she was not opposed to it, so long as it did not interfere with her use of the pole barn. Mr. Bushouse explained that the Board had been quite consistent in providing screening for these larger pole buildings allowed under Section 78.820.

Ms. Bugge asked if there were already existing trees. Ms. Hayes said that there were some trees, but the pole barn could still be seen from the road or the house to the west, but she would agree to provide appropriate screening. Ms. Hayes then asked what the appropriate screening would be. Mr. Bushouse said he thought some pine trees would be appropriate.

The Acting Chairman said he did not think it would be difficult to screen the proposed structure since it was not that tall.

Mr. Bushouse asked if Ms. Hayes would confirm that the structure would be used solely for personal residential storage purposes. Ms. Hayes said it would be used strictly for residential purposes. She then asked, if the use changed, if she would have to return to the Township. The Planning Department representatives indicated that she would.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was any public comment.

Mr. Jerry Kreuze said he owned a couple of properties south of the applicant's property. He said he had a few questions. He asked if the 16-foot height would be at the peak of the building. Ms. Hayes indicated that it would. Mr. Kreuze said he would appreciate the installation of evergreens for screening purposes. He then asked where the drive would be on the subject property. Ms. Hayes pointed out that access to the site would be from the east side of her property.

Mr. Bushouse said it was not relevant to the request at hand, but he wanted the Zoning Board of Appeals to know that he was of the opinion that the Township Board should look at amending the Ordinance to reduce the number of accessory buildings reviewed by the Zoning Board of Appeals under Section 78.820.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was further discussion. Hearing none, he called for a motion. Mr. Bushouse made a motion to approve the applicant's request, subject to installation of screening and strictly personal residential storage use of the accessory building. Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

WAL-MART - WALL SIGN DEVIATION - 501 NORTH 9TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-305-022)

The Acting Chairman directed the Board to Item #5 on the Agenda. He said the Board was being asked to consider a request for a deviation from the provisions of Section 76.170 to allow a wall sign package that exceeds the number permitted for the building. He said the subject property is located at 501 North 9th Street, Parcel No. 3905-14-305-022. The Acting Chairman asked to hear the report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia submitted her report dated November 15, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the Zoning Board of Appeals had granted a sign deviation on July 15, 2002, to allow the site to utilize one freestanding sign of 90 square feet, where 60 square feet was permitted, subject to compliance with height and setback limitations. She said, in requesting that deviation, the applicant agreed to forego the second freestanding sign of 30 square feet which the site was otherwise permitted. She said the 2002 request to allow up to nine wall signs had been withdrawn at that time, and currently, there was one freestanding sign and four wall signs. She explained that, due to Wal-Mart's expansion plans, it was requesting (with the elimination of incidental signs) 13 wall signs, when only four wall signs were allowed. She said she thought two of the existing four wall signs would remain and that two signs are proposed to be replaced.

Ms. Stefforia then proceeded to go through the criteria for granting of a deviation, emphasizing, among other things, the fact that the only property in the area that exceeds the current requirement is Menards, but it is grandfathered; all other stores are in compliance. Ms. Stefforia also stressed that the Ordinance was completely rewritten in 2000 to allow greater flexibility with regard to freestanding signs while reducing the number of wall signs. She said that allowing more than four wall signs on this property may lead to additional requests by other property owners. She stressed that, if the Board wished to grant a deviation, it would have to find site-specific factors in order to allow the Zoning Board of Appeals to distinguish it from other commercial buildings in the Township.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions for Ms. Stefforia. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant.

Ms. Deb Sullivan introduced herself to the Board. She explained that she was the civil engineer for Wal-Mart, and she had one of the architects with her at the meeting. She said their request was based upon the general philosophy of Wal-Mart and how it normally laid out its wall signage. She said the current store has four signs, that two of the slogan signs would be removed to-wit: "satisfaction guaranteed" and "we sell for less." She said they were proposing all new signs and thought their two primary signs would be over the vestibules indicating the retail center as distinguished from the food center. She said the other signs were there to indicate specific items available in this Superstore as opposed to other Superstores, to-wit: produce, deli, one-hour photo, optical center, which she said were not available in all Superstores. She said she thought, given the lineal footage of 650 feet, that the additional signage was appropriate not only to provide direction, but to break up the facade of the structure.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions of the applicant. Hearing none, the Acting Chairman asked how many different functional areas the Superstore would have. Ms. Sullivan said it would have food, retail, pharmacy, tire and lube, as well as the optical and one-hour photo, which were occupied by tenants.

Ms. Borgfjord asked how much signage the Wal-Mart currently had. Ms. Sullivan said they had 357.42 square feet. Ms. Borgfjord asked about the nature of the currently existing signs. Ms. Sullivan said they had the following four main Wal-Mart signs: "Wal-Mart always," "satisfaction guaranteed," "we sell for less," and "tire and lube."

The Acting Chairman asked if there was any public comment. Hearing none, he called for Board discussion.

Mr. Bushouse said he was concerned that the Township not deviate from its intent to lessen the impact of signage west of U. S. 131. He said, when they adopted the new Sign Ordinance, they did so with the specific intent of reducing signage and lessening the impact on visual clutter throughout the Township. He noted that he traveled Southern Michigan a great deal and thought those areas which had attempted to do this were some of the fastest growing and most upscale areas within the State of Michigan. He said he saw absolutely no reason for 13 signs whatsoever. He said most people know what Wal-Mart offers for sale and that the additional signage was simply unnecessary. He said he thought that the Township wanted to minimize signage, and he thought the Board should enforce the Township's Ordinance.

The Acting Chairman said he agreed with the comments of Mr. Bushouse. He said it was interesting to note that there was another retailer in the area similar to Wal-Mart and it only had one sign. He said that the Meijer store, much like Wal-Mart, offered many different services including the pharmacy and shoe repair, but they did not have any additional signage for their facility, and he did not believe it was necessary for Wal-Mart.

Mr. McClung asked how they would figure the square footage of the signs. Ms. Bugge indicated that it would be done by drawing a block around the letters of each of the individual signs.

Ms. Borgfjord stated that she, too, thought that everybody knew what was generally available at a Superstore, and she did not believe that the additional signage was necessary. She said if they wanted to break up the architectural components of the building, they could use other materials, such as glass block, etc. She said that the pharmacy and the one-hour photo could have been placed in front of the store, and that it was Wal-Mart's choice not to do that. Therefore, she saw no reason to grant the variance.

Ms. Sullivan asked if they could change the sign over the food center. Mr. Bushouse said that whatever Wal-Mart wanted to do with their signs was their choice, but he would not support a deviation to grant additional signage. Ms. Sullivan said she thought it was somewhat directional, and therefore, incidental. Ms. Stefforia said it was not an incidental sign if it can be read from off site.

A brief discussion ensued with regard to whether the pharmacy should be given an additional sign. Mr. Bushouse asked if Meijer had been given a sign. Ms. Bugge said that they swapped out some of their signage in order to allow a small sign for the pharmacy. Mr. Bushouse said he did not see any reason to deviate from the four permitted signs. Therefore, Mr. Bushouse made a motion to deny the request and require Wal-Mart to maintain its signs in accordance with the previous variance granted and the limitations previously approved. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

None.

Adjournment

There being no further business to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board adjourned at approximately 4:00 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:
November 22, 2005

Minutes Approved:
, 2005