OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

October 14, 2004

Agenda

LONG JOHN SILVER'S - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN AMENDMENT - 5481 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-401-030)

WICKS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 8171 WEST KL AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-21-430-011)

NORTH DRAKE ROAD FOCUS AREA - MASTER LAND USE PLAN AMENDMENT - PUBLIC HEARING

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, October 14, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Deborah L. Everett
Lee Larson
Terry Schley
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Mike Ahrens

MEMBER ABSENT: James Turcott

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately 20 other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m.

AGENDA

The Chairperson indicated that the first item of business was approval of the Agenda. Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the Chairperson called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

MINUTES

The Chairperson said that the next item for consideration was approval of the minutes of September 23, 2004. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and the motion was seconded by Ms. Garland-Rike. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

LONG JOHN SILVER'S - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN AMENDMENT - 5481 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-401-030)

The Chairperson stated the next item for consideration was the request of B.R. Associates, Inc., a/k/a Long John Silver's for amendment to the special exception use and site plan for a proposed drive-through window at its existing restaurant located at 5481 West Main Street. The subject property is located in the "C" Local Business District and is Parcel No. 3905-13-401-030. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Planning Commission dated October 14, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge pointed out to the Commission that it had granted approval on June 24, 2004, for a special exception use and site plan amendment for Long John Silver's subject to certain conditions. She said that the applicant has now revised its site plan and is requesting lifting the special exception use condition that would eliminate the four parking spaces in front of the building. She said that, due to the revised site plan, the drive-through window was no longer on the west side of the building, requiring cars to circle the site twice and drive in front of the building to place an order and reach the pick-up window. She said the revised plan places the pick-up window on the east side of the building, improving site circulation and eliminating the drive lane in front of the building as well as the conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians.

Ms. Bugge pointed out, in addition to relocating the pick-up window, the revised plan eliminated the need for a variance from the setback from Maple Hill Drive and included additional landscaping along West Main and a landscaped island to the rear of the building.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the criteria under Section 60.000 for a special exception use with the Planning Commission, as well as the provisions of Section 82.000 regarding site plan review as set forth in her report.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions of Ms. Bugge. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Greg Holenen introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He complimented the Staff on their report. In response to questions raised regarding lights and signs, he said they would provide the appropriate detail and submit same to the Planning Department for review and approval.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions of the applicant. Hearing none, the Chairperson called for input from the public. Hearing none, the Chairperson closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Commission deliberations.

Mr. Ahrens asked if there needed to be separate action on the two items. Attorney Porter and Ms. Stefforia indicated that there should be a separate motion on the approval of a special use as well as the site plan approval. Attorney Porter noted that the conditions for special exception use approval had not materially changed, and the minutes would reflect their previous approval and the basis thereof from the June 24, 2004 meeting.

Mr. Schley said he thought that the spacing was a little tight on the west side, but if the applicant was satisfied that there was sufficient space, he thought the overall site was vastly improved. Therefore, Mr. Schley made a motion to amend the special exception use permit to allow the continued use of the four parking spaces north of the building. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the Chairperson called for public comment. Hearing none, he called for further Commissioner comments. Again hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the revised site plan with the following conditions:

(1) The proposed west traffic aisle width of 14 feet is satisfactory.

(2) Parking shall be in conformance with Section 68 of the Zoning Ordinance.

(3) All lighting shall comply with Section 78.700 and fixture details shall be submitted for Staff review.

(4) Approval shall be subject to the submission of sign details for review and approval through the permit process. All signs shall comply with Section 76.000.

(5) Approval shall be subject to the submission of dumpster enclosure details for Staff review.

(6) Approval shall be subject to Staff review and approval of a revised landscaping plan.

(7) Site plan approval shall be subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements of the Fire Department, pursuant to the adopted codes.

Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for public comment, and hearing none, called for further Commission deliberations. Hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

WICKS - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 8171 WEST KL AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-21-430-011)

The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the Agenda was the consideration of the request of Charlie and Willie Wicks for a special exception use and site plan review for a proposed dog kennel at 8171 West KL Avenue. The subject property is located in the "RR" Rural Residential District and is Parcel No. 3905-21-430-011. The Chairperson asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report dated October 14, 2004, to the Planning Commission, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained to the Commission that the applicants were proposing to establish a kennel on a ten-acre parcel that contained their dwelling. She said they were members of SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and wanted to remodel an existing horse barn into a kennel to accommodate 20 to 24 rescued dogs awaiting for adoption. She explained that kennels for breeding, raising and/or boarding of animals are permitted as a special exception use in unplatted areas of the Rural Residential District under Section 20.405 of the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Bugge made reference to the applicant's supporting documents and narrative, explaining that the facility would contain a building with 12 to 14 interior runs and a fenced yard for supervised outdoor exercise.

Ms. Bugge then reviewed the criteria of Section 60.100 with the Planning Commission. In determining whether the proposed use was compatible with other uses expressly permitted in the Rural Residential area, Ms. Bugge asked the Commission to take note of the permitted uses allowed in the Rural Residential District. She also noted that, when the Rural Residential District was adopted, the Planning Commission recognized that it was appropriate to allow kennels on some properties in that District. She also noted that, along with the adoption of the Rural Residential provisions, the Township did eliminate kennels as a permitted use in the "C-1" Commercial District, further supporting the need for kennels in the Rural Residential District.

With regard to whether the proposed use was detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties, Ms. Bugge noted that the surrounding properties are currently used for residential purposes. She said that the building was formerly a horse barn and the keeping of animals within the semi-rural district is common. She also noted that the buildings are located on the southeast corner of the property, 77 feet from the east property line, 94 feet from the south property line and the adjacent parcel is a 70-acre parcel containing a house and a horse barn. She also noted that the northeast corner of the property is located more than 1,000 feet from the Autumn View Plat.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Commission that the Ordinance allowed one large animal per acre, or four animals per acre for animals under 200 pounds on unplatted property. She said that the current property could house up to 40 pigs or sheep and be in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.

With regard to whether the use would promote public health, safety, morals and general welfare, she said the applicant was proposing the enclosure of the west portico of the building to provide 12 to14 climate-controlled dog runs and to reduce outside noise. She said that the old horse paddock west of the portico was going to be used for a fenced outside exercise yard, but that the dogs would be supervised when outside. She asked the Commission to consider whether the applicants' request sufficiently addressed potential noise concerns.

She said the applicants were proposing a septic system for kennel wastes and that the Planning Commission may wish to discuss this with the applicants in order to obtain greater detail.

Ms. Bugge noted that the shelter was going to be for dogs awaiting adoption, which would mainly be staffed by SPCA volunteers, and that the Commission should discuss how the care and handling would be supervised and whether or not there would be someone at the site year- round.

With regard to whether the use would encourage the land use in accordance with its character and adaptability, Ms. Bugge said that the proposed use would utilize the existing horse barn and paddock. She said other than the remodeling of the barn and the addition of a septic system, there would only be minimal changes to the site. She noted for the Planning Commission and those in attendance that the applicants could keep up to nine dogs on unplatted property without a permit from the Township.

Ms. Bugge then took the Planning Commission through the provisions of Section 82.800 for site plan review. She provided overhead sketches of the site for the Commission and addressed access and the buildings to be used. In addition, she said that the only part of the site to be disturbed would be that excavated to establish an on-site septic system and the enclosure of the portico on the barn. She again asked the Planning Commission to address noise concerns with the applicants and whether enclosure of the dog runs and providing supervised outdoor exercise would be sufficient to mitigate the noise.

She said that no variances were being requested, but that the applicants were requesting a deviation from Section 68.600 in order to allow the gravel drive to remain unpaved. She said the Commission should consider that the drive is approximately 350 feet long and serves the existing dwelling, as well as the proposed kennel.

She said that the Fire Department had reviewed the site plan and had approved same. In addition, she noted that the storm water was being handled naturally on site. She said that the site plan was being reviewed pursuant to the special exception use criteria to insure that the public health, welfare and safety were not detrimentally affected. In addition, she noted that the applicants had completed the Hazardous Substances Reporting Form, but still needed to complete the Environmental permits Checklist before receiving site plan approval.

Last, Ms. Bugge presented were three e-mail letters to the Planning Commission from Mr. and Mrs. Geniac, Mr. and Mrs. Baugh and Mr. and Mrs. Jankowski opposing the proposed special exception use.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions of Ms. Bugge. Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the party owning the 70 acres closest to the proposed kennel had written one of the letters in opposition. Ms. Bugge indicated that they had, and she identified the authors of the letter as Bob and Pam Geniac.

The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions of the Planning Commission, and hearing none, asked to hear from the applicants. Mr. Charlie Wicks introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He told the Planning Commission that he and his wife were close to retirement and wanted to give something back to the community. He said their second mission in life was to help the SPCA. He explained that the SPCA adopts out approximately 700 dogs and cats a year. He said they were a small organization with little money, and they wanted to use their barn to help the SPCA until it could buy and build its own kennel. He said dogs are rescued and after a two-week waiting period for medical reasons, they were sold at local pet stores as a method of adopting out the animals.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions of the applicant.

Mr. Schley asked who would take care of the animals when Mr. and Mrs. Wicks were out of town. Mr. Wicks said he was not certain who would care for the animals, since the SPCA is a volunteer organization. He did note that they had a home in San Antonio and spent part of the winter months there. He said that the SPCA has a kennel manager who is responsible for overseeing the operation, as well as a volunteer coordinator to oversee the on-site activity of the SPCA volunteers. In addition, he said there were neighbors within 1,000 feet of his home who had volunteered to come and help take care of the animals. Mr. Wicks noted that he had an electronic business for a number of years, and he could install a web cam and computer to see what was going on from any place in the world.

Mr. Schley asked if the kennel manager was a paid position. Mr. Wicks said that it was not a paid position, but was, in fact, a volunteer position.

Ms. Everett asked what was the average stay for the dogs. Mr. Wicks said that puppies seem to go quite fast, while older dogs and those with problems adjusting to a new environment might be kept for a considerably longer period.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if Mr. Wicks would be installing a web cam at the proposed site. Mr. Wicks said he could do that if it would be requested by the Planning Commission. Ms. Garland-Rike asked, if he was gone and the volunteer coordinator did not do his or her job, what would happen. Mr. Wicks admitted that there could be problems if volunteers did not show up. However, he noted that it was not he and his wife who would be managing the kennel, it would be the SPCA and its management group.

Ms. Bugge asked Mr. Wicks to describe the duties of the kennel manager. Mr. Wicks said the kennel manager took care of the dogs, made sure they were taken outside to relieve themselves and to work with socialization of the animals, some of which were traumatized. He said it was the kennel manager's duty to oversee their diet, as well as to completely clean the kennel with bleach to make sure that it was spotless and free of all disease. Ms. Bugge asked how often the kennel manager would visit. Mr. Wicks said once every day, but was not sure how long he would be on site.

Mr. Schley asked if Mr. Wicks understood that, if the special exception use was granted, he would be the one responsible for the operation, even though it was the SPCA doing most of the work. Mr. Wicks said that he understood that. Mr. Schley asked if Mr. Wicks would be walking the dogs on KL Avenue. Mr. Wicks noted that he would not walk on KL Avenue, let alone walk the dogs on KL Avenue.

Ms. Stefforia asked how they would handle the bleach on site. Mr. Wicks said that all of the solid waste was picked up and disposed of and that the bleach was in a liquid form, and they would spray down the kennels and kennel runs each day, which would then run into the proposed septic system.

Mr. Larson asked if it would be a separate septic system from their residence. Mr. Wicks said it would be a separate septic system to serve the kennel alone. Mr. Larson asked if it would be a closed system. Mr. Wicks equivocated on that, stating first that it would be a closed system, but later indicating that he might have to have a tile field installed.

The Chairperson asked Mr. Wicks how many dog kennels and indoor runs they would have. Mr. Wicks provided a handout to the Commission, showing 11 indoor kennels and 11 inside dog runs. In addition, it showed the dog exercise area consisting of a 30 foot by 50 foot outdoor exercise area. Mr. Wicks said that two monkey cages would house two dogs for each indoor kennel and dog run and that they would rotate the two dogs between them, given that they would have approximately 21 adult dogs at the site. He said that the dogs would not be able to run free in the outdoor exercise facility due to the inability to predict a dog's temperament and to avoid the dogs having contact with each other and possibly spreading disease. He said, since the dogs were taken from individuals who had not properly cared for the animals, that was a high level of concern of the SPCA.

The Chairperson asked if the dogs would ever be let out of the outside exercise area. Mr. Wicks said they were proposing that the volunteers be allowed to walk the dogs on their property on a leash outside the exercise area.

Ms. Bugge again asked for confirmation of the maximum number of adult dogs. Mr. Wicks said the maximum number would be 21.

Mr. Ahrens asked what the exterior construction of the dog runs would be. Mr. Wicks said it would be an enclosed portico with a wall and some windows.

Mr. Schley asked about the maximum number of dogs if there was a mother with puppies. Both Ms. Stefforia and Ms. Bugge noted that puppies do not count as a dog under the Township Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Everett said that a mother and puppies would be equal to one dog.

Mr. Ahrens asked if he understood correctly that the applicant would be allowed to have nine dogs without a special exception use permit. Ms. Bugge indicated that was correct.

Mr. Ahrens asked how often people would be accessing the site to take care of the dogs. Mr. Wicks said that two to three volunteers would come in the morning and evening to exercise, feed, socialize and clean the dogs.

Mr. Schley asked if the adoptions of the dogs would take place elsewhere. Mr. Wicks said that the adoption would generally take place elsewhere and that rarely would anyone be visiting the site for adoption purposes.

Ms. Bugge asked who would be providing the snow plowing to clear the drives in the wintertime. Mr. Wicks said that Dave Bushouse did all of their plowing.

The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions of the applicant, and hearing none, opened the meeting to public comment. He asked that people limit their comments to three minutes, if possible.

Mr. Bob Geniac addressed the Planning Commission. He said he and his wife own the 70 acres to the east and that he had some concerns about the granting of this special exception use permit. He said he was not concerned about granting it to the SPCA, but he was concerned about granting the special exception use permit to absentee owners who had to rely upon volunteers to take care of the facilities. He said that he and his wife love animals but he had concerns about granting a special exception use permit to absentee owners. He said, in his business, he had worked in kennels and thought most of them were made of cinder block and were designed specifically to house animals. In this case, they are simply using an old barn, and he was concerned that it would not adequately address the noise concerns that they had. He said they were living southeast of the proposed facility and thought that the effect of noise on them would be significant. He said that Mr. Wicks' letter about "storage" of animals was quite true. He said they would be a housing facility, since people would only access the site twice a day. He did not think that routine was adequate to manage a facility or to adequately take care of the dogs on site. He said if a dog got out, there would not be anyone on site to deal with the animal. He also said he was concerned about the types of animals being brought to the site, especially if they were traumatized or could be dangerous.

Mr. Geniac asked if they had granted a permit under this provisions of the Ordinance before. Ms. Stefforia said they had granted one under the new Ordinance approximately four years ago. Mr. Geniac again pointed out that the Wicks' letter noted that dogs could get loose, but did not really address how that issue would be taken care of. He also noted that the dogs were not being watched and questioned whether the proposed location was the best place to locate such a facility.

Mr. Dave Hershberger introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he lived in the Autumn View subdivision near KL Avenue. He said, while he was sympathetic with the Wicks and thought they were certainly pursuing a good activity, he questioned the proposed location. He said he had concerns about the nature of the dogs and safety concerns if they were to get loose. He said Mr. Wicks' comments about the dogs being traumatized or possibly having disease caused him concern. He questioned what would happen if they lost control of one of the dogs. He also raised a question about lack of supervision for the site and thought there needed to be somebody on site 24 hours a day. Lastly, he said he thought the Commission might be setting a precedent for further commercial activity along KL Avenue.

Mr. Roy Richardson introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he also lived in the Autumn View subdivision and agreed with the comments made by Mr. Geniac. He said, while he thought it was a good cause, he did not believe it truly fit into the neighborhood.

Ms. Lynne Seelbinder introduced herself to the Planning Commission. She said she lived in the Autumn View subdivision and was concerned about the effect this could have on property values. She noted that there was already a kennel in the area that causes considerable amount of noise, and she noted that this would be as close or closer to their subdivision and raised concerns about the amount of noise that might be associated with the operation.

Kathy Jankowski told the Planning Commission that she was one of the parties who submitted a letter to the Commission. She said they had moved to the area approximately one year ago and liked the peace and quiet of the country and would like to see it kept that way. She said she did not want to have another kennel in the area.

Pam Geniac told the Commission that she was concerned that if the applicants were to sell their property, there could be a commercial kennel next door, no longer run by the SPCA. She said she was concerned about the lack of fencing around the property, that the dogs would bark at their horses and how they were going to clean up after the dogs. She thought that sound would be a big problem and they would likely hear barking all the time.

The Chairperson asked if there were any further public comments, and hearing none, closed the public portion of the meeting, and called for Commission deliberations.

The Chairperson asked the Commission to begin review of the special exception use criteria. The Chairperson read the first criteria, to-wit: Is the proposed use compatible with other uses expressly permitted within the "RR" Rural Residential zoning district? Mr. Ahrens raised a question about the list of uses found in Section 22.000 and whether or not kennels were listed as a special use. Ms. Bugge and Mrs. Stefforia confirmed that Section 22.000 did include kennels. Ms. Bugge specifically referred to Section 20.405 which referred to kennels in unplatted areas for the breeding, raising and/or boarding of animals.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if her understanding of the prior comments were correct that the applicant could house up to 40 pigs or sheep. Ms. Bugge indicated that was correct, citing Section 78.400 of the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Ahrens said that pigs might not make as much noise as dogs, but they certainly did create an odor problem. He said, in his mind though, the real issue here was noise and the unsupervised nature of the proposal. Ms. Stefforia noted that she was somewhat surprised they had not received complaints on the other kennel that apparently exists further east of this site. Ms. Garland-

Rike asked if having the dogs indoors would make a significant difference.

The Chairperson asked if there were other places to locate kennels in the Townships. Ms. Bugge said that kennels were allowed in the "C-1" zone, but only as a special exception use. Ms. Bugge did note that the "RR" designation recognized the keeping of large animals and that allowing a kennel is not out of character with what was already allowed within the area.

Ms. Everett said she thought the applicant was well intended but to have 24 dogs seemed like a large number of dogs. However, she said, if it was not allowed here, then where would it be allowed?

Mr. Schley said he thought the Commission had moved on to the second issue of the special exception use review, to-wit: Will the proposed use be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or to the general public? It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that indeed their conversation was focusing on the second criteria. Ms. Everett said, when you take into account that the owner could have 40 pigs or sheep, then 24 dogs did not sound overly excessive. Ms. Stefforia warned the Commission against applying a worst-case scenario to the situation. Ms. Everett said she understood, but she was trying to keep the request in perspective with what is allowed within the particular zone.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked again whether or not having the dogs inside most of the time would adequately mitigate against the noise. Mr. Schley said his main concern was that they were proposing a kennel in the Township where the owner would not be there at all times. He said dogs bark 24 hours a day and thought there would be a lot of noise. He was not certain that the noise would be contained within the structure. While he would be more concerned if the dogs were outside, he thought they did not have enough information about the overall design of the proposed operation.

Ms. Everett asked how long the Wicks would be gone from the property. Mr. Wicks said they did spend time at their San Antonio home normally in the winter months, which could be one to three months overall. Mr. Schley said that, obviously, people who lived in the area were concerned that it "not be in their back yard", but he thought that the proposal merited consideration.

Ms. Garland-Rike also pointed out that many of the people that were concerned lived in the subdivision that was at least 1,000 feet from the property. She said that was more than three football fields and thought that would provide enough distance for those people. However, she did note the one property owner living to the east and was concerned about the impact on them.

Ms. Everett asked if the special use was permitted, whether it could be limited to a nonprofit organization. Attorney Porter said that the special exception use would run with the land, and he did not believe that the Zoning Ordinance allowed distinguishing between profit or nonprofit organizations in granting special exception use permits. He said, once the permit was granted, it would run with the land, whether or not it was for profit or not for profit.

Mr. Schley said he thought they were certainly entitled as a Commission to place a limit on the number of dogs. Attorney Porter indicated that he was correct in that respect. Mr. Schley said he had greater faith in the SPCA to properly run the organization than even a for-profit organization. However, he said if he was going to consider approval, he would want it subject to no adoptions on site, and conditioned that the facility comply with the state or local septic requirements and any groundwater standards. Ms. Bugge indicated that Kalamazoo County Health Department did not have any standards regarding septic systems for kennel facilities. Ms. Stefforia suggested looking at what other facilities do in the area, or how other townships manage this waste before proceeding further.

The Chairperson said he thought that the nonprofit organization would do a good job of running the kennel, but he did have some concerns, given that it could turn into a commercial operation. Ms. Garland-Rike said that the organization that would run it would likely be very conscientious, but she was concerned about the ground water and the effect of the bleach and animal wastes could have on the ground water. Ms. Stefforia said perhaps the Commission would want to table this matter in order to get some of the questions answered about the facility. Mr. Ahrens said he did not have sufficient details regarding how the kennel was to be designed or constructed. He said that, in a large metal barn, if there was not sufficient steps taken to ameliorate the animal noise, that it would be extremely loud, even if they were inside.

Mr. Larson made a motion to table the matter to November 4, 2004, to receive further details for design and construction of all of the improvements proposed by the applicant, including the kennel, the enclosure, floors, exercise area, and the waste treatment facility. He said, in addition, they wanted to see information regarding sound mitigation as a means of addressing the potential noise problems associated with the development of the kennel. Mr. Ahrens supported the motion. The Chairperson called for discussion.

Mr. Schley pointed out to the applicant that often kennels are built with much higher density materials that had the ability to absorb sound and maintain the noise on site. He said, in the present case, using the wood and metal building, the applicant needed to make sure that he adequately addressed how sound would be minimized, given the existing structure. Mr. Wicks said that he understood and would provide the requested information. He mentioned an acoustic foam that he could use to insulate the building. Again, Mr. Schley suggested that he provide the detailed information at the Commission's November 4, 2004 meeting.

The Chairperson asked if there was any further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

NORTH DRAKE ROAD FOCUS AREA - MASTER LAND USE PLAN AMENDMENT - PUBLIC HEARING

The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the Agenda was consideration of the North Drake Road Focus Area Master Land Use Plan Amendment, and the Chairperson asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Commission dated October 5, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia reminded the Commission that in 2001, a proposed rezoning near the Mount Everest Cemetery from single family to high density brought to light the difference between the City and Township Future Land Use Plans. The City's Future Land Use Plan shows a designation of high density equaling 15 units per acre versus the Township's Plan calling for four units per acre. She explained that, in an attempt to bring the Plans closer together, a committee was formed involving the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Charter Township, the County of Kalamazoo and Oshtemo Charter Township. After meeting several times, the committee prepared a set of concepts for the study area. She then introduced the proposed amendment to Chapter 5, outlining the North Drake Road Focus Area concepts. She specifically noted that many times the word "shall" had been removed from the plan concept in order to avoid the appearance that the concepts were being mandated rather than encouraged.

The Chairperson asked if the Commission had any questions of the Township Planner. Mr. Ahrens asked why the Focus Area had been reduced in size. Ms. Stefforia said that much of the area north of H Avenue was rural and the committee thought the area needed to be more closely confined between H Avenue and West Main Street and U.S. 131. The Chairperson noted that he had participated in the meeting and felt it was a very positive experience and that they had good cooperation with the City and the County in developing the Focus Area concepts.

The Chairperson asked if there was any comment from the public. Mr. John Albert told the Commission that he thought his property would be the most affected as a result of the proposed plan, and he asked why he had not received any notice. It was explained to Mr. Albert that notice for a public hearing was by publication, and since there was not a rezoning of his property, no mailed notice was required under the statute.

A brief discussion ensued between Mr. Albert and Commission members regarding the permitted uses on his property and the possible changes that could result with the adoption of the Master Land Use Plan amendment. It was explained to Mr. Albert that the Plan concepts were put in place in order to try to protect single-family residential homes such as his.

Mr. Joe Gesmundo introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He asked what the language in the concept plan was regarding keeping residential development at a level that encourages development of owner-occupied housing. Ms. Stefforia said it means what it says. She said that, while the area was suited for multi-family residential, the Township wanted to make sure that it did not have a negative impact on the surrounding existing residential properties that were there. Mr. Gesmundo asked if it was more a concern raised about the City's potential for density than the Township's. Ms. Stefforia said she thought that was a factor.

Mr. Larson asked if this matter was moving forward at the City level. Ms. Stefforia said that it was, and that they thought their Planning Commission would be taking this issue up in the near future.

Ms. Gesmundo said he had attended one of the sessions of the concept area plan, thought it was a positive thing to do, but he questioned the Township's desire to reduce density because it ran contrary to the need to prevent urban sprawl. He said he thought the communities in the urban areas needed to actually increase density and use those areas near the Interstate for high density development in order to prevent urban sprawl.

Lastly, Mr. Gesmundo asked why he only recently found out about the meeting, since his company owned 140 acres located within the proposed Focus Area. Again, it was explained to him that this was a concept plan, not a rezoning, to which Mr. Gesmundo said he nevertheless would have appreciated receiving notice of the hearing on the proposed change in the Master Land Use Plan.

Mr. Greg Taylor said that his company owns property outside of the Drake Road area and that he had just recently learned of the proposed change in the Land Use Plan. He, as others, questioned why he had not received any notice of the public hearing. He said he thought that the land owners should have a role in this process just as they do in the rezoning of property.

Mr. Taylor asked what role we would have in looking at the property owned by his company on the east side of Drake Road. Ms. Stefforia explained that, when an abutting municipality proposes a change in the Land Use Plan, the surrounding communities are asked for input. Attorney Porter explained that, under the recent changes in state law, under unified planning, all adjoining municipalities are given input on the Master Land Use Plans developed in adjoining municipalities.

Mr. Taylor asked if the City's attempts to rezone around Mount Everett Everest had prompted the proposed changes. Ms. Stefforia said that it brought it to the forefront, but it was not the only factor involved in working on the Focus Area. She said she thought the greatest impetus for the plan was the need to recognize the City property located within the Township and the need to coordinate the development of that property with the development of the property within the Township.

Mr. Taylor asked why the Focus Area included land east of Drake Road which was not located within the Township. Ms. Stefforia explained that, because the Focus Area was developed by both parties, it is to encourage coordination of development in that area and to not simply look at the boundary lines of each of the municipalities. She said it was an attempt to encourage and take into account what was happening within the City, as well as what was happening within the Township.

The Chairperson called for comments from the Planning Commission. Mr. Ahrens said he thought it was puzzling that there was no legal duty to notify the property owners of the changes in the Master Land Use Plan which would affect their property, but thought that notifying potentially-affected property owners might be a good policy to do so in the future.

Mr. Larson said that land use planning did not have anything to do with a property owner's concept of development, but was an attempt to create a public policy of what the area should look like in the future. Mr. Ahrens said he understood, but they were part of the public and thought they should have some input. Mr. Larson questioned that, in that it is not establishing specific uses for the property which would necessarily dictate use of the property, but creating a vision for the area overall. He also pointed out that there was proper notice in the newspaper. Mr. Schley suggested that perhaps the Township consider making some additional efforts at increasing the visibility of their public notices for additional public input.

Ms. Everett asked if the Commission should wait until the matter moves forward at the City level in order to coordinate the implementation of the Focus Area concepts. Ms. Stefforia said she thought that would be a good idea.

Mr. Schley made a motion to table consideration of the North Drake Road Focus Area concept plan indefinitely. The motion was seconded by Ms. Garland-Rike. The Chairperson called for discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Discussion Item - Member Schley's Memo on Home Occupations in Auxiliary Buildings

Due to the lateness of the hour, the Commission agreed to consider Mr. Schley's Memo on home occupations at a later date.

Adjournment

The Chairperson asked if there were further comments, and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at approximately 9:30 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary

Minutes prepared:
October 21, 2004

Minutes approved:
, 2004