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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

November 19, 1998

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Agenda

HISTORIC DISTRICT - PUBLIC HEARING

HISTORIC RESOURCES INVENTORY

DOORLAG/LAAKSONEN - REZONING OF TWO PARCELS, APPROX. 2.75 ACRES, NW CORNER WEST MAIN AND 10TH STREET - PUBLIC HEARING

GOLF SERVICES - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - NEW LOCATION - 7110 WEST MAIN STREET

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT - TEXT AMENDMENT

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A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, November 19, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

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

Members Absent:

Marvin Block
Ken Heisig

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning and Zoning Department, Rebecca Harvey, Township Consultant, Richard D. Reed, Township Attorney, and approximately twelve (12) other interested citizens.

CALL TO ORDER

The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

AGENDA

The agenda as revised and distributed to those in attendance was approved for the meeting.

MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting of November 12, 1998, were unanimously approved.

HISTORIC DISTRICT - PUBLIC HEARING

The Chairperson introduced this subject with a brief history of this request for ordinance amendment. In April of 1996, and again in August of 1996, the Planning Commission received and considered the request of Richard and Charlotte Schramm that the Zoning Ordinance be amended to allow structures and buildings of historic significance to be used for any purpose permitted by the Zoning Ordinance subject to special exception use approval notwithstanding other specific regulations of the Zoning District in which the building or structure is located. The request was tabled in 1996 in order to give the Township opportunity to arrange for a preliminary historic resources survey of Oshtemo Charter Township. The preliminary historic resources survey was completed and presented to the Township in November of 1997. Early in 1998, the Planning Commission directed the Planning Consultant to solicit proposals for service for a more detailed historic inventory of the Township. The detailed inventory has not yet been undertaken, but it is anticipated that it will be under way soon. Due to the fact this matter has been under consideration for approximately two years, it was decided to place the request of Richard and Charlotte Schramm on the agenda for further consideration at this time.

The Chairperson indicated that the Planning Committee had recently received a memorandum of law from Township Attorney Patricia Mason, indicating that a March 13, 1998, decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals cast doubt upon the legality of the approach under consideration. The Chairperson asked Township Attorney Reed to elaborate further upon Ms. Mason’s memorandum. The Attorney summarized the memorandum, explaining that, under the reasoning of Court of Appeals opinion, handed down in litigation challenging an ordinance of the City of Ann Arbor, it is inappropriate that ordinance provisions isolate individual buildings and structures within a Zoning District for preferential treatment. The approach which seems recommended by the Court is the creation of historic preservation districts, the regulations of which would apply equally to all structures within the District.

Following a brief general discussion of the options before the Commission, Ms. Meeuwse moved to remove this agenda item from the table. Ms. Heiny-Cogwell seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously. Ms. Meeuwse stated that the requested ordinance amendment appears very broad. Ms. Meeuwse then moved to deny the request for the reason that the text change request would treat historic buildings in a discriminatory manner. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion.

The Chairperson called for public comment. Richard Schramm addressed the Commission, stating that he was the proponent of the proposed ordinance change. He stated that the reason for his request is to preserve historic structures. Mr. Schramm stated that, if historic structures could be devoted to any use allowed under the Zoning Ordinance, persons would have incentive to purchase them and preserve them. Mr. Schramm stated that he in fact owns a structure which is designated as an historic structure and that, if the ordinance is changed to allow a wide range of uses, his structure would certainly be saved, and its salvation would benefit the community.

Planning Consultant Ms. Harvey addressed the Commission, stating that she believed the reason stated in support of denial of the request and the motion was overbroad. Ms. Meeuwse responded that, in her judgment, the primary basis of her motion is the perceived impropriety of giving special consideration to singly selected properties. The Chairperson commented that the Commission at the present time cannot perceive a final outcome of its consideration of treatment of historic structures because the Township has not yet completed its detailed survey of historic structures. Following a brief discussion, it was agreed by the Commission, Ms. Meeuwse and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell concurring, that the motion be withdrawn to facilitate the formulation of a new motion.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to recommend that the requested text change to allow structures and buildings of historic significance to be used for any purpose permitted by the Zoning Ordinance subject to special exception use procedures be denied as untimely, pending the outcome of the complete study. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion.

The Chairperson asked for public comment. Richard Schramm addressed the Commission, stating that, under the circumstances, he believes he is entitled to a refund of his $300 filing fee on the grounds that the application for text amendment had been inadequately considered by the Planning Commission. The Chairperson noted disagreement with Mr. Schramm’s statement, saying that the matter had been considered repeatedly during the past two years and had provided the impetus for the detailed inventory of structures of historic significance which will be undertaken by the Township at considerable expense and that further consideration of zoning regulation of historic structures will be undertaken upon completion of appropriate fact gathering.

The Chairperson asked for further comments and, receiving none, called for a vote. The motion to recommend denial of the text change carried unanimously.

HISTORIC RESOURCES INVENTORY

The Chairperson called upon Consultant Ms. Harvey to present and explain the proposals. Ms. Harvey addressed the Commission, stating that requests for proposal to complete a Township-wide historic resources survey was submitted to eight consultants, and the consultants were identified with the assistance of the Michigan State Historic Preservation office. In response, two proposals were received by the Township, one from an organization known as Past Perfect, Inc., of Grand Rapids, and a second from Past Masters of Kalamazoo. Ms. Harvey distributed the proposals and reviewed the details of each with the Planning Commission. Ms. Harvey suggested that the Commission recommend to the Township Board acceptance of the proposal submitted from Past Masters of Kalamazoo. In support of her recommendation, Ms. Harvey stated that Past Masters had provided a detailed proposal thoroughly outlining the project’s steps. In addition, Past Masters, being from Kalamazoo, has inherent knowledge of our area’s history, as well as a more rural concentration in past projects.

 

The Chairperson inquired of Ms. Harvey as to exactly what the Township will receive as a result. Ms. Harvey responded that the Township will receive a survey to be conducted by extensive field work, which will result in a preliminary report application to be reviewed by the Planning Commission, to be followed by a final report identifying and listing historic resources in the Township. Ms. Harvey indicated that the Planning Commission could request an additional step, being an "intensive-level survey," after it had reviewed the final report, which would constitute a "reconnaissance-level survey." Ms. Harvey noted that the total fee for the reconnaissance-level survey is quoted as $4,330. The Chairperson asked if the Consultant’s report would include a recommendation that Oshtemo address its historic resources by preparing a National Registry report or by adopting an historic district creation approach. Ms. Harvey responded that it is generally suggested that, once resources have been definitively identified that they can be placed on a National Registry report, an local historic district approach, or any other approach deemed appropriate by the Township.

The Township Attorney addressed the Commission, stating that, listening to the discussion and the comments of Richard Schramm, he felt it appropriate to remind the Planning Commission of its primary focus. The Attorney read from the title and preamble of the Zoning Ordinance, which mandates the establishment of zoning districts within which the use of land for agriculture, forestry, recreation, residence, industry, soil conservation, water supply conservation, and additional uses of land may be encouraged, regulated or prohibited; and for the adoption of districts designating or limiting the location, height, number of stories, size of dwellings and structures, etc. The Township Attorney noted theat encouraging preservation of structures of historic significance is a matter which the Planning Commission can consider in conjunction with its planning for the orderly development of the community so as to minimize traffic congestion, noise, inappropriate use of land and facilities, while at the same time encouraging the wise development and growths of the community to the greatest good. The Attorney stated that, in his opinion, it would be inappropriate to single out individual structures, even though they may have historical significance, and allow them to be used for any purpose.

Ms. Harvey addressed the Commission, stating that the reconnaissance-level resources inventory would be the first step in helping the Commission obtain the facts so that it could deal intelligently with issues of historic significance when formulating its recommendations to the Township Board on zoning and planning issues.

 

Following further general discussion, Mr. Loy moved that the Planning Commission recommend the Township Board engage Past Masters of Kalamazoo to perform a reconnaissance-level survey of historic structures and sites in Oshtemo Township. Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion.

A citizen in the audience asked how much the Township proposed to spend on this survey. The Chairperson responded, less than $5,000. The Chairperson asked for further comment and, receiving none, called for a vote. The motion to recommend Past Masters of Kalamazoo to perform the reconnaissance-level survey carried unanimously.

 

DOORLAG/LAAKSONEN - REZONING OF TWO PARCELS, APPROX. 2.75 ACRES, NW CORNER WEST MAIN AND 10TH STREET - PUBLIC HEARING

The Chairperson called for public hearing on the request to rezone two parcels located at the northwest corner of 10th Street and West Main from the "R-2" Residence District to the "R-3" Residence District. The Chairperson identified the parcels and surrounding zoning classifications on the zoning map. The Chairperson noted that the two parcels, one owned by Laaksonen and the other by Doorlag, are zoned "R-2" Residence District and are subject to request of the owners to be rezoned to the "R-3" Residence District. The Chairperson further noted that the property immediately to the west of the subject parcels is zoned "R-3" and that the property across 10th Street at the northeast corner of the intersection of 10th Street and West Main is zoned "R-3," that the property at the southeast corner and southwest corner of the intersection of West Main and Lodge Lane is zoned Commercial, that the property south of the subject and on the southerly side of West Main is within the 9th Street Focus Area. The Chairperson further noted that property immediately to the north of the subject is zoned "R-2." The Chairperson explained that the Planning Commission chose not to consider rezoning a larger surrounding area because of the zoning of the surrounding area.

The Chairperson then asked for public comment.

Mr. Laaksonen addressed the Commission, presenting photographs and drawings of his parcel and the structures located thereon. Mr. Laaksonen stated that he and Mrs. Laaksonen have raised four children at that residence, which is a large home. However, the area has changed drastically, and the home is no longer suitable as a residence due primarily to the heavy traffic on West Main Street and the surrounding "R-3" and Commercial uses. Mr. Laaksonen described witnessing cars and trucks speeding from the light at the intersection of 10th Street and West Main in order to clear the light at the intersection of 9th Street and West Main before it changes. He said that there is a constant screeching of tires and jumbling of trucks when vehicles fail to make the light in time. Mr. Laaksonen suggested that perhaps there should be more curb cuts along West Main in order to slow down the traffic. Mr. Laaksonen stated that he would like to be able to put his property to a productive use consistent with the current circumstances and therefore was requesting "R-3" zoning to allow

for office use, as well as his continued residential use. In support of this rezoning request, Mr. Laaksonen stated that the proposed rezoning is supported by the Master Land Use Plan; that the proposed rezoning would not impact traffic safety, public facilities and the natural characteristics of the surrounding area nor significantly change population density; that it would not constitute spot zoning but would in fact be consistent with a surrounding zoning; that it would not be contrary to the presently established land use patterns; that it would not have the effect of stimulating similar rezoning requests in the vicinity in that he was requesting rezoning to catch up with the zoning in the vicinity; and Mr. Laaksonen elaborated at length on the changes which have occurred in the property surrounding his, justifying his proposed rezoning request. In summary, said Mr. Laaksonen, his property is not residential any more.

The Chairperson asked for further comments. Mr. Brodasky addressed the Commission, asking the Chairperson to reiterate what he had earlier stated about the surrounding zone classifications. The Chairperson complied.

Jacqueline Strong addressed the Commission, stating that she has power of attorney for the person who owns the property immediately west of Mr. Laaksonen’s property, and she wanted to know how her that property was zoned. The Chairperson responded that her property is presently zoned "R-3."

Helen Brodasky addressed the Commission, stating that, in her judgment, "R-3" zoning is appropriate for the site; but she asked if there would be site plan review, should Mr. Laaksonen or Mr. Doorlag build additional structures on their land. Mr. Corakis responded that any plans for additional future use of the Laaksonen and Doorlag parcels would require Township site plan review.

Joseph Vanderveen of 889 North 10th Street addressed the Commission, stating that he opposes the rezoning request. He stated that the Laaksonen parcel extends far enough north to be behind his house. He asked how many persons were given notice of the public hearing. The Chairperson responded that everyone within 300’ of the parcels subject to the rezoning request were noticed. Mr. Vanderveen stated that Mr. Laaksonen’s property is subject to the same influences as his property, and he wants both properties to remain "R-2." Mr. Vanderveen stated that Mr. Laaksonen runs a construction business in his yard and has been in violation of the Township Zoning Ordinance for a considerable period of time. He stated he believes Mr. Laaksonen has operated a day care center. He further stated that the property immediately to his north is zoned "R-2" but is now used for student housing and cars are coming and going all the time. The neighbor to the north maintains a 5th wheel travel trailer, which is parked on the property and blocks Mr. Vanderveen’s view. Mr. Vanderveen stated that the activity in the neighborhood is inconsistent with single-family use and he feared this zoning was a prelude to further "R-3" zoning to the north along 10th Street. Mr. Vanderveen concluded by requesting that the Planning Commission deny the rezoning request.

The Chairperson told Mr. Vanderveen that, if in fact there is a Zoning Ordinance violation, the appropriate thing to do would be to report it to the Township officials at the Township Hall, and that Zoning Ordinance enforcement was beyond the jurisdiction of the Planning Commission.

Mr. Laaksonen addressed the Commission, asking, if his property is in fact rezoned, wcould he rent a portion of his structure for office use and continue to occupy the remainder as a single-family home. The Chairperson read the Zoning Ordinance provisions covering the "R-1," "R-2" and "R-3" Residence Zoning classifications. Ms. Harvey addressed the Commission, stating that past practice has been to allow any use permitted in the District to occur concurrently with other uses also permitted in the District. Mrs. Brodasky asked whether Mr. Laaksonen could rent office space to someone else and also live in the dwelling if the property is rezoned to "R-3." Ms. Harvey responded yes.

Harm Doorlag addressed the Commission, stating that he had lived at the property for 45 years and has noticed drastic change in the neighborhood and that West Main Street is too noisy to be a residential street.

The Chairperson asked for further comment and, receiving none, read aloud a letter dated November 19, 1998, addressed to the Township Planning Commission by Susan and Bruce Kroeze. Mr. and Mrs. Kroeze noted in the letter their objections to the rezoning request on the grounds that it would encourage an influx of commercial use in the neighborhood. A general discussion among the Planning Commission and the consultants followed regarding the history of the zoning of surrounding properties. Concluding the discussion, the Chairperson noted that traffic control on West Main Street is currently designed to move traffic quickly out of the area, which means that additional curb cuts should not be encouraged. He further noted that the "R-3" Zoning classification which allows office use has been determined through past Planning Commission study ias considered compatible with residential use. He noted that commercial activities are not allowed in the "R-3" District.

The Chairperson asked the Commission members to review the criteria set forth in Ms. Stefforia’s report. It was noted that the proposed rezoning is supported by the Master Land Use Plan, that it will not severely impact traffic, public facilities or the natural characteristics of the surrounding area nor significantly change population density. It was further noted that the proposed rezoning does not constitute spot zoning or the granting of a special privilege to one land owner not available to others. It was noted that the proposed rezoning is consistent with established land use patterns in the area. It was further noted that the proposed rezoning, if approved, will not have the probable effect of stimulating similar rezoning requests and that there have been significant changes in the surrounding area which support the rezoning request. The Chairperson noted that, in his judgment, the 7th criteria, "Are adequate sites properly zoned, available elsewhere to accommodate the proposed use?" is not directly applicable to the present situation, which presents a unique circumstance resulting from the changed neighborhood. The Chairperson asked for further comment. Ms. Meeuwse asked if an office use included the retail sale of items. The Chairperson responded no, retail sales are not allowed incident to an office use. Mr. Corakis asked if the applicant had paid the appropriate rezoning filing fee. Planning Director Jodi Stefforia responded yes, the fee has been paid.

Mr. Loy moved that the Township Planning Commission recommend to the Township Board that the subject property be reclassified on the Master Land Use Plan to Transitional use and that the subject property be rezoned from "R-2" Residence District Zoning classification to "R-3" Residence District Zoning classification. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion.

The Chairperson asked if there were comments upon the motion. Mr. Vanderveen addressed the Planning Commission, asking if there would continue to be three boats and a construction trailer parked upon Mr. Laaksonen’s property. The Chairperson suggested that Mr. Vanderveen address this concern to the Township officials.

The Chairperson asked if there were further comments and, there being none, called for a vote. The motion to amend the Master Land Use Plan and recommend rezoning to the "R-3" District Zoning classification carried unanimously.

 

GOLF SERVICES - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE/SITE PLAN REVIEW - NEW LOCATION - 7110 WEST MAIN STREET

The Chairperson introduced Golf Services’ special exception use/site plan review request, noting that the Oshtemo Township Zoning Board of Appeals interpreted Golf Services’ proposed activities, which include a golf driving range and an outdoor skating rink for ice hockey, to qualify as "an outdoor recreation facility" and therefore a use permitted by special exception approval in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District.

The Chairperson called upon the applicant to present his request. Paul DeHaan addressed the Commission on behalf of the applicant. He stated that the applicant prepared a preliminary sketch site plan, which needs amendment and revision. He stated that he was seeking approval of a special exception use before proceeding to the next step of preparing a site plan meeting Township requirements. Mr. DeHaan stated that, if the parcel can be used for the intended purpose, then they will go further and prepare the detailed site plan. The Chairperson stated that he understood Mr. DeHaan’s request to be that the Planning Commission approve the special exception use and agree to accept a site plan later.

The Township Attorney addressed the Commission, stating that certain uses designated as special exception uses, while they may be appropriate for some locations within a zoning classification, may well be inappropriate in other locations. Therefore, special exception use approval is generally only granted after a detailed review to determine that the proposed use is compatible and consistent with the uses in the surrounding area and the planned growth of the Township. The Township Attorney noted that the site plan is an integral part of the special exception use review process and that the Commission may not wish to create the precedent of approving special exception use prior to reviewing a site plan.

Mr. Loy noted that the site plan indicates 9’ parking spaces whereas the Ordinance requires parking spaces to be 10’ in width. The Chairperson noted that the number of parking spaces needs to be determined by interpreting Zoning Ordinance requirements and consulting similar uses. He stated that it is possible that the activities proposed may require over 200 parking spaces whereas the site plan lists slightly more than 100 spaces, which would be reduced when the parking lot is redrawn to reflect spaces 10’ in width.

The Chairperson indicated to the applicant that the Commission was faced with two possible courses of action. First, the Commission could simply deny the request because of an inadequate site plan; or, the Commission could table the request to allow the applicant time to prepare a complete site plan. Following a brief delay and consultation with a second representative of the applicant, Joel Pinkham, Mr. DeHaan stated that the applicant would prefer that the matter be tabled pending completion of a detailed site plan but that the applicant would like to discuss the project with the Commission to gain insight as to the Commission’s thinking. The Chairperson indicated that the Commission could engage in a sketch plan review discussion with the applicant if they desired.

The Chairperson asked the applicant for the intended hours of operation. Mr. DeHaan stated 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. seven days a week during the summer and 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during winter months. When pressed for a definition of summer and winter, the applicant said that summer extended from March through October and that November through February were considered winter months. Questions arose concerning the ice rink. Mr. DeHaan noted that it is intended as a hockey rink. The Chairperson asked if there would be general public skating. Mr. DeHaan indicated that was not the present intent. Ms. Stefforia recommended that the Planning Commission consider public skating at the rink at this time to avoid the applicant having to return for approval in the future.

Commission members inquired as to lighting. Mr. DeHaan stated that there would be no lighting. Mr. DeHaan was pressed further by Commissioners, inquiring as to how this could be possible, given the need for security and the fact that it is dark after approximately 5:30 p.m. during the months of November through February. Ms. Meeuwse commented that an ice rink as proposed on the westerly portion of the property adjoining residential uses would seem somewhat incompatible with the adjoining neighborhood. She suggested that it would be more appropriate to locate the ice rink in the eastern portion of the property next to existing commercial zoning. Mr. DeHaan and Mr. Pinkham said that they were considering this.

Mr. Loy inquired as to the screening planned on the westerly portion of the property between the proposed activities and adjoining residential use. A general discussion followed regarding a possible berm and tree vegetation screening. The Chairperson stated that, in his opinion, the westerly boundary of the site is the most sensitive because of its proximity to residential zoning. The Chairperson asked if the site would be landscaped. The applicant stated that it would look like a golf course fairway.

General discussions followed concerning the driveway location, the topography of the site, the proposed dumpster location and stormwater runoff provisions. The Chairperson referenced the proposed stormwater management text amendment and suggested consideration of alternate stormwater systems, such as natural percolation. Following this discussion, Mr. Loy stated that, in his judgment, he would like to see the ice rink relocated from the west side of the property to the easterly side of the property adjoining the commercial development. The Chairperson stated that he believed there should be provision made in the parking area for emergency vehicles as the present sketch plan indicates inadequate space for emergency vehicle turnaround. Mr. Loy stated that the Township Fire Department would need to review the final site plan and give its advice regarding emergency access and safety issues. Mr. Corakis suggested that the applicant consider a shared-access arrangement with adjoining commercial uses to the east in alignment with 8th Street. The applicant asked if the Township was considering a northerly extension of 8th Street. The Chairperson responded that it would make little sense to extend 8th Street to the north because of existing subdivision development south of H Avenue, which presently connects 9th Street with 7th Street, and that traffic circulation would probably not be enhanced by attempting to connect 8th Street with the residential subdivision development. The applicant stated that, in his judgment, it would make sense to place a traffic light at the intersection of 8th Street and West Main.

Returning to a discussion of the site plan itself, the Chairperson and Ms. Meeuwse stated that the final site plan should make provision for lighting and related security issues.

 

The Chairperson asked if there was further discussion and, there being none, asked the applicant how long they would need to prepare a detailed site plan. Following brief consultation, the applicant asked for two months, whereupon it was moved by Mr. Loy and seconded by Mr. Corakis that the site plan review be tabled to the meeting of February 11, 1999. The Chairperson called for a vote, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

STORMWATER MANAGEMENT - TEXT AMENDMENT

The Chairperson called upon Consultant Rebecca Harvey to present the proposed text amendments of the proposed new stormwater management and erosion control provisions for the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Harvey reviewed the text provisions with the Planning Commission. Mr. Loy related to Ms. Harvey the comments expressed by the Township Board at the November 14, 1998, joint Township Board-Planning Commission work session. Mr. Loy stated that his impression of the Township Board’s concerns centered upon the need for explicit enforcement procedures to control sediment runoff. The Township Attorney expressed his concerns regarding the coordination of the Township’s proposed stormwater retention provisions with the requirements of the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner. During the discussion, the Township Attorney agreed to work with Ms. Harvey to attempt to settle the concerns that were noted by Township Board members, Planning Commission members and those which may arise in review of the provisions with the office of the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner.

Following further discussion, it was moved, seconded and carried that this matter be tabled for reconsideration following review by Ms. Harvey and the Township Attorney.

 

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:30 p.m.

Minutes prepared:
November 20, 1998

Minutes approved:
December 10, 1998