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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

November 7, 2002

Agenda

CHIANG - 8403 WEST MAIN STREET - REZONING - PUBLIC HEARING - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-405-040)

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMERCIAL - DISCUSSION ITEM

HOME OCCUPATIONS - DISCUSSION ITEM

AMENITIES AND INCENTIVES - DISCUSSION ITEM

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, November 7, 2002, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Stanley Rakowski
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Mike Ahrens
James Turcott

MEMBER ABSENT: Deborah L. Everett

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney; and four other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Agenda as submitted, and Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

MINUTES

The Planning Commission considered the minutes of October 24, 2002. The Chairperson identified a typographical error on page 3 in the fifth paragraph. Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

CHIANG - 8403 WEST MAIN STREET - REZONING - PUBLIC HEARING - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-405-040)

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of the eastern half of 8403 West Main Street from the Agricultural-Rural District to the "C" Local Business District. The western half of the subject property is zoned "C" Local Business District. The property is Parcel No. 3905-16-405-040.

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

Ms. Stefforia reported that the applicant plans to combine the subject site with the parcel at 8419 West Main Street, which is zoned "C" Local Business District. Ms. Stefforia reminded the Planning Commission that it had granted special exception use and site plan approval to allow 8419 West Main Street to be used as an automobile sales lot. When combined, the "C" Local Business District zoning would occupy more than three-quarters of the parcel.

Ms. Stefforia noted the zoning and land use of adjacent properties. To the north was "C" Local Business, with a car sales lot and a residence. To the east was "AG" Agricultural-Rural with a residence. The property to the south was zoned "AG" and vacant. To the west of the subject property was zoned "C" Local Business with a car sales lot and convenience store. Ms. Stefforia stated that the house at the site could continue to be used as the residence, although it would become non-conforming. If abandoned for more than one year, it could not be re-established.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed the criteria for rezoning. As to whether the proposed rezoning was supported by the adopted Master Land Use Plan, Ms. Stefforia reminded the Planning Commission that it had concluded, when it received the request in September, that given the small size of the property and that Neighborhood Commercial was designated in this area, the proposed rezoning was consistent with the Master Land Use Plan.

Ms. Stefforia felt that, given the capacity of West Main and the small size of the property, traffic, public facilities and the natural characteristics of the area would not be detrimentally affected by the proposed rezoning. It was also felt that the proposed rezoning would not constitute a spot zone since it was an expansion of an existing commercial node.

As to whether the proposed rezoning was contrary to the established land use pattern, it was concluded that it would not be contrary to the mix of large businesses, small businesses, and residences existing in the area.

In considering whether the proposed rezoning would have the probable effect of stimulating similar rezoning requests in the vicinity, Ms. Stefforia felt that additional property owners along West Main would seek rezoning to the Commercial District regardless of this request.

As to whether there had been a change in conditions in the surrounding area which would support the rezoning, Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the applicant had acquired both properties and that by variance, they must be combined to be buildable. The new ownership and redevelopment occurring on the commercial portion of the site could be considered a change in circumstances. As to whether adequate sites properly zoned were available to accommodate the proposed use, it was noted that no specific use had been proposed.

The applicant was present but had no comment.

The Chairperson sought public comment on the item.

Bob Janssen, a resident of Almena Drive, had questions as to whether the house would remain on the property. Ms. Stefforia stated that the residential use of the property could continue, but could not be expanded. Further, the residential use could not be reinstated if terminated for more than one year.

The public hearing was closed.

Mr. Rakowski moved to recommend that the Township Board rezone the subject property, making reference to the rezoning criteria as analyzed by the Planning Director. He reasoned with the combination of parcels into one, given the scale and nature of the site, it would be reasonable to make the zoning of the combined parcel consistent. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMERCIAL - DISCUSSION ITEM

The Planning Commission discussed Neighborhood Commercial as a possible future zoning classification within the Zoning Ordinance. It was recognized that Neighborhood Commercial was a designation within the Master Land Use Plan.

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

The Master Land Use Plan was reviewed concerning the Neighborhood Commercial class. Ms. Stefforia also had presented to the Planning Commissioners the Residential Convenience Center Overlay District and the Rural Residential Convenience Center Overlay District which had been drafted by the Planning Commission some years before. These draft texts had been sent back to the Planning Commission by the Township Board and never acted upon.

Ms. Garland-Rike had questions concerning the areas currently designated for Neighborhood Commercial in the Master Land Use Plan. Ms. Stefforia stated that nearly every area of the Township was within a three-mile radius of a Neighborhood Commercial designation. However, with only a one-mile radius, there were gaps.

There was discussion of what kind of development could be located in Neighborhood Commercial sites and be viable. Planning Commissioners expressed concern that the trend in pharmacies and hardware stores, for example, was to larger buildings. However, it was recognized that the Master Land Use Plan limited site size to four acres; even the larger pharmacy stores could locate on a four-acre parcel.

There was agreement that certain kinds of uses might be especially viable, such as restaurants with take-out or delivery aspects, hairstyling, etc. Mr. Ahrens stated that he had conducted some research concerning the MLS listings. He stated that there are currently four commercial parcels for sale within the Township ranging from 2.1 acres to 25 acres. The prices for these sites range from $64,000 per acre to $1,000,000 per acre. He felt that expanding the opportunities for development to include Neighborhood Commercial could result in sites which were more reasonably priced and useable for small businesses. The Chairperson agreed, stating that there might be a different category of buyer for smaller properties. Mr. Rakowski stated that, in his opinion, whenever property was rezoned to a commercial designation, it would drive its price up.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that the Village Commercial District was an area in which small businesses were intended to thrive. Further PUD development is available; however, it requires a residential component that must be 60% completed before the commercial may be started.

Mr. Turcott wondered whether there was any demand for Neighborhood Commercial development.

After further discussion, Ms. Stefforia suggested that the Planning Commission revisit the Master Land Use Plan and its designation of areas for Neighborhood Commercial to see if additional designated areas were necessary. Further, she suggested that only one district be created.

The Chairperson noted that, since the Master Land Use Plan includes the Neighborhood Commercial classification, the Planning Commission should work on developing the tools to implement the Master Land Use Plan or remove the classification therefrom. He felt it was worthwhile to pursue the Neighborhood Commercial District in that it would foster small business and a community feeling. The Chairperson felt, given the amount of large scale commercial zoning and use on the eastern side of the Township, that it did not make sense to locate the Neighborhood Commercial District in that area. However, he felt there was a need for Neighborhood Commercial on the west side of the Township. There was a discussion of the availability of water and sewer service within the Township.

Mr. Rakowski stated that he would be in favor of a draft which utilized one Neighborhood Commercial District and allowed for more uses than were originally allowed in the "RRC" District text draft. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that the Planning Department create a draft for a future meeting.

HOME OCCUPATIONS - DISCUSSION ITEM

The Planning Commission discussed home occupations and whether changes to the existing text were desirable. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that, under the current Ordinance, home occupations are permitted uses in the "AG", "R-2", "R-3", "R-4" and "VC" Districts. Home occupations are not permitted in "R-1" or "R-5" Districts. The performance criteria for home occupations listed in Section 11.310 were reviewed. Ms. Bugge noted that, from her research, our present provisions are not as restrictive as many municipalities. The Township Attorney stated that, in her experience, the areas which cause the most tension in the Ordinance were the prohibition on conducting a home occupation from an accessory building or garage, the limitation on non-family employees, and the frustration with limitations in larger-scale properties. The Township Attorney suggested that the Planning Commission consider allowing home occupations to utilize accessory buildings with special exception permit approval or site plan review.

Mr. Rakowski gave some examples of home occupations conducted from accessory buildings which he felt were not detrimental to neighboring properties.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she felt that site plan review or special exception use approval could be valuable in identifying certain aspects of uses such as hazardous substances and their disposal which could be critical issues, especially in case of fire. However, she felt that home occupations should be limited to certain types of uses.

It was the consensus of Planning Commissioners that there should consideration of amendment to text to allow for use of accessory buildings and garages under appropriate circumstances. Further, Planning Commissioners agreed that allowing employees other than the occupants of the dwelling should be considered. Further, requiring special exception use approval should be considered.

The Chairperson stated that he would like to see a list of typical home occupations and information as to how home occupations are handled by other communities.

AMENITIES AND INCENTIVES - DISCUSSION ITEM

The Planning Commission considered amending the Ordinance concerning desired amenities and possible incentives. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Bugge reminded the Planning Commissioners that they had been asked to speak with at least five people to identify possible incentives that could be offered to developers to encourage amenities in new developments. The list of desired amenities was reviewed.

The Chairperson stated that he wondered whether tax incentives could be offered. Mr. Turcott stated that he had spoken with two developers, one of which who had not encountered incentives, but rather a requirement of amenities. The other developer emphasized that he was seeking flexibility in development options.

Ms. Garland-Rike stated that the people she spoke to indicated that they wanted to know from the Ordinance what was expected of them in a development. The suggestion of monetary rewards had been made. There was also a suggestion of local recognition or a good citizens award. Another individual had suggested requiring amenities.

Mr. Rakowski stated that the people he spoke to had emphasized that desirable amenities would be trailways, preserving natural features, open space, sidewalks/bike paths, public utilities, and use of native plants and wildflowers.

Mr. Ahrens stated that he had spoken with developers from the Home Builders Association. Their biggest issue was "flexibility" in design requirements. Mr. Ahrens felt that desired amenities were in three categories: (1) those for which the Township should pay; (2) those which should be required of a developer; and (3) those for which incentives should be offered. The Township Attorney stated that some of the desired amenities listed could not be required without a taking of property in violation of the Constitution.

It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that the list of desired amenities be reviewed by each Commissioner and then each amenity be awarded a score between one and five, with one being most important and five being least important. All Commissioners should bring their "prioritized" list to the next meeting on the issue.

PLANNING COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Mr. Rakowski noted that this would be his last meeting as a Planning Commission, and that he had enjoyed his service. The Chairperson expressed appreciation for Mr. Rakowski's contributions and ideas. These comments were echoed by other Planning Commissioners.

The Agenda for the next meeting was reviewed.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Stanley Rakowski, Secretary
Minutes prepared:
November 11, 2002

Minutes approved:
, 2002