OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
October 10, 2000
The Oshtemo Township Board held its regular meeting at the Township Hall. The meeting was called to order by Supervisor Fleckenstein at 7:00 p.m.
Supervisor Ron Fleckenstein
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Lois Brown
Trustee Norm Anderson
Trustee Marvin Block
Trustee Dave Bushouse
Trustee Fred Johnson
Also present was Patricia Mason, Township Attorney, Bob Snell, Township Engineer, Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Wilfred Dennie, Planning Commission Chairman, and 33 interested people.
Clerk Everett noted the September 26th minutes should be corrected to reflect that Treasurer Brown and Trustee Block were not present. Motion made by Anderson, seconded by Johnson, to approve the minutes of the September 26th meeting as corrected. Carried.
Income to the General Fund of $18,497.78 and disbursements of $84,399.03 were reported. Fire Fund income was $9.00 with disbursements of $31,315.49. Motion made by Johnson, seconded by Block to acknowledge the receipts and pay the bills. Carried.
Kadir Mohmand, 6147 Old Log Trail, read a statement listing complaints against Clerk Everett that he had been denied access to public records relating to the primary election and that he does not trust the Township with the absentee ballot process. Clerk Everett advised him that a letter had been mailed to him indicating the records he had requested were available for review.
DISCUSSION WITH KALAMAZOO COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION
Kalamazoo County Road Commissioners Maggie Grobben and Lara Meeuwsee, along with Managing Director Ron Reid were present to discuss current and future road projects with the Board and hear any concerns. Director Reid advised the following preliminary schedules for future major primary road projects:
2001 - Reconstruct, and widen North 9th Street from West Main to West H Avenue.
2002 - Widen Stadium Drive to 5 lanes from South 8th Street to South 6th Street.
He further advised the distribution formula for funding from gas tax, diesel tax and vehicle registration fees (Public Act 51) remain unchanged and no new legislation is expected.
Discussion with the Board included the following:
Work on North 9th Street project should begin by early March.
The Parkview/11th Street project is on schedule, paving should begin this week.
An analysis of traffic at South 9th Street and Quail Run in regards to need for a traffic signal has been done; the report should be available soon.
A request for widening South 9th Street south of Quail Run to facilitate left turns into the credit union will be explored.
The reconstruction of Parkview and the anticipated increase in traffic due to WMU's project may necessitate considering a traffic signal at South 9th Street and Atlantic or Stadium Drive and Parkview or a reconfiguration of the Stadium/Parkview intersection.
A request for discouragement of traffic on Chime Street as a bypass of the Stadium/South 9th intersection will be considered.
Kadir Mohmand inquired how the Road Commission decides which streets will be paved and does it depend on if the residents are poor. Mr. Reid advised the criteria includes traffic analysis and other data and is not based on the economic status of the property owners of a particular street.
Stan Rakowski, 7151 West G Avenue, inquired if there were plans for a traffic signal at the entrance to West Main Mall by the Shell gas station. Planning Director Stefforia advised this would be a MDOT decision and at this time is not planned.
Brian Molony, owner of Rollerworld, 7491 Stadium Drive, inquired if plans for the widening of Stadium Drive have been made and if further consideration had been given to making bike paths on North 10th or 9th Streets since they are in close proximity to the Kal-Haven Trail. Mr. Reid advised plans for Stadium Drive should be available for review by next summer and input from effected property owners will be sought. He further advised the Road Commission does not necessarily endorse or oppose bike paths but have been paving 4 foot shoulders instead of 3 foot.
William Jameson, 1715 Old Deer Run, complimented the Road Commission on the North 10th Street project but indicated there are still some site problems on hills and hopes they will be considered when the North 9th Street project is designed.
VILLAGE COMMERCIAL DISTRICT PROPOSAL
Planning Commission Chairman Dennie presented a recommendation for the creation of a new zoning classification to be called "VC" - Village Commercial that would encompass properties in the Village Focus Area. He advised that when the Master Land Use Plan (MLUP) was updated, five areas of the Township were identified as sensitive in nature and requiring additional study and review by the Township. One of these areas was the Village area, which is centered at Stadium Drive and South 9th Street. The Planning Commission formed a citizens committee to review this area in detail, and in 1996, the Township adopted a subsection to the MLUP establishing a direction for the Village Focus Area, which outlined implementation strategies to accomplish this vision and included a new village district, a village overlay zone and specific village design standards for developmental purposes. A new zoning district to be called Village Commercial has been drafted with input from a committee of village businesses, business owners, residents and a local realtor. This district was designed to promote a village atmosphere allowing for small scale mixed land uses and meeting the land needs for convenience, specialty and personal service establishments which would primarily serve residents in the immediate and nearby areas. Mr. Dennie then reviewed the permitted uses, design standards, setbacks, access and parking, and signage.
Mr. Dennie also commented that some parcels included in the Village Focus Area but not recommended for inclusion in the Village Commercial district are properties south of Flesher Field parcels on Stadium Drive east of South 9th Street belonging to the Kalamazoo County Road Commission and Happytail Kennels and parcels west of South 9th Street belonging to Mill Creek Apartments.
Treasurer Brown inquired if Fire Department input had been sought regarding access to the proposed 65 foot frontage and zero sideline setbacks. Planning Director Stefforia advised different construction codes would be applicable with a zero sideline and as each site develops the review process would take place.
In response to questions from Trustee Bushouse, Ms. Stefforia advised that only one 15,000 square foot maximum building would be allowed per parcel, if lots currently exist as buildable with less than 65 feet of frontage they would be grandfathered in the proposed district and the Kalamazoo County Road Commission has indicated they will allow sidewalks but not maintain them.
In response to statements from Kadir Mohmand and Medi Purazrang, 7132 West ML Avenue, that the Planning Commission meeting minutes were incorrect, Attorney Mason advised they are meant to be a summary of comments and not a transcript.
Mr. Purazrang felt the proposed district would be unfair if a parcel with a small frontage and big back yard combined parking with a parcel with a large frontage and small back yard, the parcel with the larger frontage gets more building than the one with a smaller frontage.
Mr. Dennie advised each building on a given parcel will be subject to the same building area relationship and the size of the building is proportional to the size of the parcel, as is parking.
Michael Albanese, 1312 Kingston, commented he hoped the Board would consider giving the flexibility to make decisions regarding signs based on use of a property
Tricia Williams, owner of 3335 South 9th Street, requested clarification on the current signage requirements and what would constitute a hardship in requesting a variance, and commented she felt current rules should apply, not what may be in effect later since the new ordinance would not allow free standing signs. She further commented that with the amount of traffic and speed and buildings close to the road, limited time is available to find the driveway needed and care should be given not to create an environment of risk.
Attorney Mason advised that the Zoning Board of Appeals looks at whether conformance is unnecessarily burdensome, are other options available for compliance, consideration of previous cases, character of the area, is the hardship self created, and does the request meet the intent and spirit of the ordinance. In this area, the ZBA would have been considering that the Village Focus Area Plan is in place.
William Jameson commented that signage is a critical issue and he strongly disagrees with giving staff or the Planning Commission the discretion to decide which parcels can or cannot have a free standing sign; not having a free standing sign is a trade off for reduced setback and visibility
Kadir Mohmand commented a study should be done on the traffic and who is liable for accidents caused by the Village Focus Area.
Greg Taylor, owner of 6120 Stadium Drive, thanked Mr. Dennie and Ms. Stefforia for taking time at the Planning Commission to thoroughly address comments and questions.
Trustee Bushouse commented that he believes in systems and has not seen the Board declare a moratorium on signs or certain variances that would effect the Village Focus Area; if an applicant requests a sign permit rules in effect at the time should apply and it is not in the best inertest of the Township to postpone or ignore a request.
In response to questions from Clerk Everett, Mr. Dennie advised the overriding consideration for not allowing free standing signs was allowing buildings to be built within 5 ft of the right of way which brings them closer to road and eliminates need for a free standing sign, most established villages, i.e., Vicksburg, Schoolcraft, Richland, have plans in place to encourage the style of community they want, there are safety concerns with allowing buildings closer to the road with the addition of impediments, i.e., poles, signs, that obstruct vision and create unsafe obstacles; the objective is to create visibility without obstructions.
Trustee Bushouse commented all properties that are in existence now should be looked at to see how lack of a free standing sign applies..
In response to questions from Treasurer Brown, Ms. Stefforia advised that current structures on South 9th Street south of Stadium would not meet current setback requirements and most of them would conform to the proposed setback standards.
Clerk Everett commented the proposed ordinance is an opportunity to bring back a small town feeling to our community providing the vision for what can be the heart of our community which we probably wouldn't have an opportunity to do anyplace else in the Township.
Trustee Block commented the idea of the Village Focus Area is not to encourage car traffic, but pedestrian activity; people can park and go from store to store, a lot of signs won't be necessary, however, traffic speed will have to be reduced.
Motion made by Everett, seconded by Block to set the proposed text amendment for First Reading on October 24th. Carried 6-1 with Bushouse voting no.
The Planning Commission recommendation on the proposed sign ordinance was before the Board for Second Reading.
William Jameson requested clarification regarding special event signs, stating that his understanding is that a special event sign is one sign on the parcel where the event is to be conducted.
Attorney Mason concurred indicating that if a special event sign is not the premises, it is a billboard and subject to billboard requirements.
Discussion then centered on fund raising signs for events not held at the premises the sign is located on. Attorney Mason commented the ordinance as drafted limits special event signs to one sign size, number of days, and the definitions of special event and billboard is drafted correctly; the intent is to allow reasonable signage on a temporary basis and signs can be designed to meet ordinance.
Scott Paddock, Ordinance Enforcement Officer commented Mr. Jameson had expressed concern regarding the cider mill signs that are placed about the Township. Mr. Paddock further commented they have not been dealt with yet because he wished to discuss with the attorney whether a permit is required for an agricultural use. He further commented that the practice never has been or will be to selectively allow or not allow signs.
Motion made by Block, seconded by Brown to adopt the sign ordinance. Roll call vote
showed Anderson-yes, Block-yes, Brown-yes, Everett-yes, Bushouse-no, Johnson-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.
POLICE PROTECTION SPECIAL ASSESSMENT PUBLIC HEARING
Supervisor Fleckenstein opened the Public Hearing for the 2001 renewal of a special assessment levy of approximately $77,736 (2.5 mills) against the benefited property located in the Police Protection Special Assessment District. The district is located along West Main Street between Drake Road and US 131 and includes commercial areas only.
Kadir Mohmand inquired if there had been an increase in crime that necessitated a need for more police. Supervisor Fleckenstein advised that he was not aware of such an increase. Mr. Mohmand further commented that in light of no increase in crime, the millage is an attempt to create a job for Sheriff Edmonds, the only police force needed is himself to watch taxpayers money and he is the sheriff in this town. Mr. Fleckenstein advised the purpose of the millage is to generate revenue that aids the ability to fund six deputies assigned to the Township.
Stan Rakowski commented whether or not there is an increase in crime, he favors renewing the millage.
Mr. Fleckenstein read a letter from Plaza Corp., owner of West Century Center, protesting the special assessment. They feel residents benefit and should be assessed as well.
Treasurer Brown commented that as a citizen, taxpayer and homeowner she is very appreciative of the police protection. She further commented she has talked with several businesses along the West Main corridor personally and professionally and appreciation has been expressed at seeing a visible police presence.
Trustee Bushouse commented the Township has taken its responsibility very seriously and inquired if consideration had been given to extending the police district in light of Meijers and now Mennards and other commercial development in the West Main/South 9th Street area. Mr. Fleckenstein advised the original district was created in 1980 but as development continues we should look at establishing a district in the West Main/South 9th Street area for next year.
Motion made by Anderson, seconded by Block to adopt the Police Protection Special Assessment Resolution. Roll call vote showed Bushouse-yes, Johnson-yes, Block-yes, Anderson-yes, Brown-yes, Everett-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.
FIRE PROTECTION SPECIAL ASSESSMENT PUBLIC HEARING
Supervisor Fleckenstein opened the Public Hearing for the 2001 renewal of a special assessment levy of approximately $958,008 (2.5 mills) against all properties in the Township.
There was no public comment.
In response to questions from Trustee Bushouse, Supervisor Fleckenstein advised the funds allocated for purchase of a truck are being set aside for eventual replacement and a siren or early warning system is being discussed with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department but funds for such a project would come from the Township General Fund.
Motion made by Brown, seconded by Block to adopt the Fire Protection Special Assessment Resolution. Roll call vote showed Block-yes, Anderson-yes, Bushouse-yes, Johnson-yes, Everett-yes, Brown-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.
STREETLIGHT SPECIAL ASSESSMENT PUBLIC HEARING
Supervisor Fleckenstein opened the Public Hearing for the 2001 renewal of a special assessment levy of approximately $105,700 (.4 mill) against those properties located within 300 feet of a streetlight.
There was no public comment.
Trustee Block commented he benefits from a streetlight and appreciates having it.
Trustee Bushouse inquired if streetlights are being considered for West Main east of North 10th Street. Supervisor Fleckenstein advised that would be an MDOT issue but it has been mentioned to Consumers. Mr. Fleckenstein also commented another area that should be considered for streetlights is 9th Street between West Main and West KL Avenue.
Motion made by Block, seconded by Anderson to adopt the Streetlight Special Assessment Resolution. Roll call vote showed Johnson-yes, Bushouse-yes, Everett-yes, Brown-yes, Block-yes, Anderson-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.
2000 TOWNSHIP BUDGET PUBLIC HEARING
Supervisor Fleckenstein advised the Board the total budget for all Township operations for 2001 was proposed at $4,577,911 (.9868 mill). This includes the levy from the approved special assessment districts.
There was no public comment.
In response to a question from Trustee Bushouse, Supervisor Fleckenstein advised $600,000 allocated for a building expansion is in the budget.
Motion made by Johnson, seconded by Block to adopt the Operations Budget and Millage Resolution. Roll call vote showed Anderson-yes, Block-yes, Brown-yes, Everett-yes, Bushouse-yes, Johnson-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.
Supervisor Fleckenstein then presented a resolution regarding routine expenditures and purchases, which authorizes the Supervisor, Clerk or Treasurer to approve purchases in the amount of $3,000 or less.
Trustee Bushouse inquired if the Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer could each approve $3,000 toward an $8,999 purchase. He was advised they could not.
Motion made by Anderson, seconded by Block to adopt the resolution regarding routine expenditures. Roll call vote showed Block-yes, Anderson-yes, Bushouse-yes, Johnson-yes, Everett-yes, Brown-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS
Trustee Johnson commented that there had been some problems with the water supply in the Township Park; the problem has been resolved and the facilities are once again operational.
Mr. Johnson also commented that the old town hall is in need of painting and cleanup.
Trustee Bushouse advised the Boy Scouts painted the old town hall the last time it was done.
Mr. Bushouse inquired if a report had been received on the Gus Macker tournament. Supervisor Fleckenstein advised reports he had received from the coordinator and the manager of Maple Hill Mall indicated they were very pleased. The coordinator would like to attend the next Board meeting and report on the event.
Mr. Bushouse inquired if the August primary winners were receiving Board packets. He was advised they are not.
Treasurer Brown commented that the siding and replacement window project for the Grange Hall has been completed and she had received favorable comments.
Trustee Block commented the office park project at West Main and North 10th Street is very attractive and felt the developers have done a nice job.
Trustee Anderson advised he receives a weekly memo from the Fire Department and would be glad to share this information.
Supervisor Fleckenstein advised a determination from the DNR had been received regarding the area at Drake Road and West H Avenue regarding a request from some residents to expand the no discharge of firearms area. The DNR recommendation is that no expansion is necessary. Copies of the DNR ruling will be forwarded to the Board and the citizens involved.
There was no further business and the meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
DEBORAH L. EVERETT
Attested: RON FLECKENSTEIN