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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

TOWNSHIP BOARD

November 18, 2003

JOINT MEETING

November 18, 2003

The quarterly meeting of the Township Board, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Township Hall. Supervisor John VanDyke called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

TOWNSHIP BOARD:
Supervisor John VanDyke
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Nancy Culp
Trustee Lois Brown
Trustee Dave Bushouse
Trustee Ted Corakis
Trustee Stan Rakowski

PLANNING COMMISION:
Neil Sikora, Chairman
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Terry Schley

ZBA:
Millard Loy, Chairman
Duane McClung
Grace Borgfjord

Also present was Mary Lynn Bugge, Planner, Township Attorney James Porter, Township Engineer Marc Elliott, and 10 interested people.

PUBLIC HEARING - DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (DDA)

Supervisor VanDyke opened the public hearing for comment on the proposed DDA to be established in the Village Commercial zoning district and extended south on South 9th Street.

Terry Schley, 4200 South 9th Street, commented he was opposed to the DDA and felt the first notice sent to properties in the proposed district concerning an October 6th informational meeting, indicated there would be no increase in taxes. He commented in fact up to 2 mills can be levied, information which was provided at the meeting, not in the letter. He further commented he questions the vision of the village area given current and future traffic trends, his business would not share the benefits of a DDA since it is not located in the village area, and felt the district is being extended beyond the benefit zone.

Kathleen Garland-Rike, 6180 Ashwood Court inquired if the proposed DDA only included the Village Commercial zoning district. Ms. Bugge advised the area was extended on South 9th Street to include a "gateway" to the Township and the village area. Supervisor VanDyke advised there had been discussion with Texas Township that they might consider a DDA on South 9th Street south from N Avenue for their commercial area.

Don Brown, President of the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees, commented sufficient information had not been provided, projections indicate a 5% rate of growth in the area and they are being asked to give up revenues intended for development and maintenance of the library system for infrastructure and improvements in one small area of the district they serve. Trustee Bushouse inquired regarding the library's experience with the City of Kalamazoo DDA. Mr. Brown advised they do participate. Trustee Brown commented she hoped the Library Board would consider the potential improvements that would encourage new construction and the long term benefit.

Greg Taylor, 6120 Stadium Drive, advised he represents five properties in the proposed district, was surprised to learn of the possible 2 mil levy and felt there was not enough information to take a position. He encouraged the Board to table the item and distribute PA 197. He further commented that during a rezoning request in the Village Commercial area he had obtained information that the district contains approximately 400 acres and over the last five years about 1% of the property had changed owners. He commented that while the DDA is intended to strengthen the area, the Board should consider how little activity has taken place.

Ms. Bugge commented the DDA is an opportunity to use taxes generated in the area for improvement of that area, establish an identity, add amenities, i.e., streetlighting, landscaping, etc. She noted the Village Commercial zoning allows a mixture of residential and commercial uses.

Mr. Bushouse commented since the Village Commercial district was adopted the Township should take the lead in bringing the vision to fruition, the DDA is an opportunity to provide for future improvements, it provides for citizen input and is a plausible means to accomplish the goals and allows the area to be improved by its own residents and property owners.

There was discussion of the ordinance containing language that no millage would be levied. Attorney Porter advised such language would bind future boards and questioned if it would be permitted by statute. It was noted that seeking any millage would be by request of the DDA Board which would then require Township Board approval, the DDA Board is comprised of property owners and residents of the district. Clerk Everett inquired if the DDA Board could place a stipulation in their by-laws regarding any millage. Mr. Porter advised it is not addressed by the statute.

Dennis Raher, 6861 Stadium Drive, inquired what effect DDA funding would have on services, i.e, fire, and police in light of projected revenue sharing cuts. It was noted the fire department is funded by a separate millage and police service is funded through the General Fund and special assessment districts. Mr. Bushouse felt the effect would be minimal.

Clerk Everett commented the taxing units were invited to gauge interest in their participation for funding a DDA and the notice sent out was not intended to be misleading, but simply advise property owners that implementing a DDA is not a tax increase. Mr. Brown advised the library director did attend the stakeholders meeting but there appears to be an informational gap. Mr. Schley commented one would had to have been present at the property owners meeting to learn of the possible 2 mill levy.

Trustee Corakis commented he felt the DDA would benefit the entire township if the "downtown" was improved. It was noted grants are often available for DDA projects. He reiterated the request for a millage can only be initiated by the DDA Board, the people with an interest in the area, and would be subject to Township Board approval.

Mr. Bushouse commented he would offer the City of Portage as an example who established a 2.5 millage approximately 30 years ago and has been able to fund major improvements. He further commented he would not like to be on record as binding a future board, either the DDA Board or Township Board from being able to levy a millage, he is elected to do a job, part of which is looking to the future and a DDA is a reasonable use of taxes for the future.

It was noted that action to move forward could still be halted at the next step which would be First Reading of the Ordinance on January 20, 2004.

There was discussion of providing more information regarding the DDA proposal. Consensus was to have an article in the December newsletter and another informational mailing sent to the property owners in the area.

Motion by Corakis, second by Rakowski to set First Reading for January 20, 2004. Carried.

SIDEWALK UPDATE

Planner Bugge provided an update of the goal of providing sidewalk and other non-motorized facilities in the Township. She noted public hearings are scheduled for January 8, 2004 for amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and Master Land Use Plan and standards for construction would be stated in a Sidewalk Ordinance which would be forwarded to the Township Board in the near future.

BOARD COMMENTS

There was discussion of the site plan review process and whether more information could be available at the time of the review rather than granting approvals with conditions, i.e., engineer, fire department approvals.

There was no further business. The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:00 p.m.

DEBORAH L. EVERETT
Township Clerk
Attested: JOHN VANDYKE
Supervisor