OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

September 8, 2005

Agenda

INSTANT FURNITURE RENTAL - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - 4001 SOUTH 9TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-35-405-021)

ROCHE - SITE PLAN REVIEW - NORTHEAST CORNER OF STADIUM DRIVE AND 8TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-35-105-010)

CITY PLACE ESTATES (ROCHE) - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW - EAST SIDE OF 8TH STREET, NORTH OF STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-26-355-040)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, September 8, 2005, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott, Chairman
Deborah L. Everett
Terry Schley
Mike Smith
Lee Larson
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Fred Gould

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately 25 other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

AGENDA

The Chairman indicated the first item for consideration was the Agenda. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted, and the motion was seconded by Mr. Gould. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

MINUTES

The Chairman stated that the next item was the minutes of August 25, 2005. Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

INSTANT FURNITURE RENTAL - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE - 4001 SOUTH 9TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-35-405-021)

The Chairman said that the next item of business on the Agenda was the special exception use review of a proposed two-day outdoor sales event of Instant Furniture Rental. The subject property is located at 4001 South 9th Street, being Parcel No. 3905-35-405-021. The Chairman asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge submitted a report dated September 8, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that the applicant was requesting a two-day outdoor furniture "garage sale" rather than the three days stated in her report. She said it was going to be located within a tent in the parking lot north of their building on 9th Street. She said they were going to hold the sale on Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, 2005, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. She said they were planning on using a 30-foot x 60-foot tent, 1,800 square feet in size, which had to meet the setback requirement of 100 feet from the 9th Street right-of-way line, as the property is within the "I-R" Industrial District.

Ms. Bugge said that wholesaling in commodities was permitted in the "I-R" District and that the Zoning Board of Appeals had interpreted limited direct sales to the public as an accessory use on November 19, 2001.

Ms. Bugge then took the Planning Commission through the provisions of Section 60.100, as well as the provisions of Section 31.403 of the Zoning Ordinance, and concluded with a review of Section 82 regarding site plan.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Bugge. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Bruce Harrison introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he was representing Instant Furniture Rental and said he thought that Ms. Bugge had presented a thorough report. He asked if the Commission had any questions.

The Chairman asked if they would be setting up on Friday night. Mr. Harrison said they might set the tent up, but there would be no product on site until early Saturday morning. He also said that the tent would be torn down at the end of the day on Sunday.

The Chairman asked if the property was gated. Mr. Harrison said it was not. Mr. Harrison added that all of the trucks normally in the parking lot would be placed toward the rear of the building and that other site activities would remain closed through the weekend.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if there would be any other personnel working during the weekend. Mr. Harrison said there would be no one there except those associated with the sales event. He said that their staff only worked during the week.

Mr. Schley asked if he understood correctly that the tent would be down by Monday morning. Mr. Harrison said that was correct.

Mr. Harrison said that he thought their building was set back 130 feet from the street so he thought they would be allowed to have their tent in front of the building. Ms. Bugge said that it could be in front of the building but not in front of the existing overhang attached to the front of the building.

The Chairman asked if they would be seeking to expand this type of sale to a bi-annual or monthly event. Mr. Harrison said no; he said the company only had intentions of doing this once a year.

Mr. Schley asked if they still had the area where the public could access sale items in the rear of the building. Mr. Harrison said they used to, but that was no longer available.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if all of the items being sold were from this facility. Mr. Harrison said that they were. The Chairman called for public comment, and hearing none, called for Commission deliberations.

After a short deliberation, Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the special exception use permit and site plan submitted by the applicant subject to the following:

(1) Specific details of lighting within the tent area shall be provided to the Township for a review.

(2) All activities associated with the proposed sale must meet the required 100-foot building setback from the 9th Street right-of-way.

(3) The site plan approved is subject to review and approval by the Fire Department.

Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

ROCHE - SITE PLAN REVIEW - NORTHEAST CORNER OF STADIUM DRIVE AND 8TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-35-105-010)

The Chairman said the next item up for consideration was the site plan review for a proposed retail development at the northeast corner of Stadium Drive and 8th Street, Parcel No. 3905-35-105-010. The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Planning Commission dated September 8, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia said that the owner had two parcels on the northeast corner of Stadium Drive and 8th Street, the north 10.9 acres, which is in the "R-2" Residence District and the southern 15-acre parcel zoned "VC" Village Commercial. Ms. Stefforia explained that an open space community was planned for the "R-2" residential property and approximately 2.2 acres of the 15-acre Village Commercial parcel. Ms. Stefforia then took the Planning Commission through the provisions of the Village Commercial District set forth in Section 33.400 and then through Section 82.800, being site plan review.

In reviewing the Village Commercial standards, Ms. Stefforia emphasized the fact that the applicant was seeking a deviation to allow an increased building setback. She said the Ordinance currently allows a maximum of 20 feet unless a deviation is allowed to increase it up to 70 feet, where full compliance is not achievable due to physical limitations specific to the property, where building placement of neighboring properties would support it, and where the deviation is found to be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ordinance and Village Focus Area Development Plan. Ms. Stefforia noted that Staff thought the deviation to allow the 70-foot setback was supportable, based upon neighboring land uses and the large size of the property being considered.

Ms. Stefforia, during the Village Commercial review, also noted the need to determine the type of non-motorized facility to be constructed along 8th Street. In addition, she noted what appeared to be more parking than required under the Ordinance. Given the different types of tenants and operations, she thought that the parking could possibly be shared, and the overall number of parking spaces reduced.

In addition, she said that the applicant was seeking to allow 30% of the parking between the building and the front property line as allowed under Section 33.406. She thought it would be appropriate to allow some parking between the building and the street. However, as a result, there would be only a six-foot greenspace left along Stadium Drive and a ten-foot greenspace along 8th Street. She said perhaps evergreen shrubs or the canopy trees could compensate, but that would be an issue which would need to be addressed by the Planning Commission.

During site plan review, Ms. Stefforia emphasized the need to have all driveways approved by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. In addition, she said the private street access to the open space community had to be built to Township standards and required a street easement for Township review and approval. She again noted the requested deviation for parking and the deviation for the setback requested. In addition, she said that a lighting plan would have to be submitted for review and approval by the Planning Department, as well as a sign permit before placement of any signs on the property.

In concluding her report, Ms. Stefforia said she thought a more detailed landscape plan would be needed. She also noted the fact that the proposed building materials did not comply with Section 33.409. Lastly, she said the overall plan would still be subject to Fire Department and Township Engineer review and approval.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Stefforia.

Mr. Schley asked for a reading of the definition of height under the Ordinance. Ms. Bugge complied. Mr. Schley expressed a concern regarding the north building on the west side of the development and what its proposed grade would be upon its completion.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the applicant of each building would have to come back for approval at the time they purchased or leased space. Ms. Stefforia said that they would not have to return to the Planning Commission if what they were doing was a permitted use under the Ordinance. She said, if they were proposing a special exception use, they would have to return for further review.

There being no other questions of the Planning Department, the Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. Ms. Brenda Ryan of Continental Companies, an agent for Brad Roche, introduced herself to the Planning Commission. She presented a colored site plan to the Planning Commission for its review.

Ms. Ryan said she thought that the request for a greater setback was consistent with the transition area in which the property was located. She said that, since it was the very western edge of the Village Commercial area, she thought it would allow for the transition from the more rural properties to the Village Commercial area. She pointed out that one of the main reasons they were seeking the additional setback was to allow access to either side of the building which would increase the marketability of the various units. Ms. Ryan said they were proposing three multi-use buildings and one building limited to Mr. Roche's business. She said the dumpsters would be enclosed with brick and gated. She also said that the applicant would be adding three islands in front of each of the buildings, as well as additional internal landscape islands to the rear of the buildings. She said, in addition to that, they would be adding landscaping along the road and around each of the respective buildings.

Ms. Ryan then went through the building design and noted that, given the allowed elevation, even with the differences in grade, she said they would meeting the building elevation limitations set forth in the Township's Ordinances.

Ms. Stefforia asked where the mechanical equipment would be housed to service each of the buildings. Ms. Ryan said that the retail/commercial buildings all had a portion of a flat roof which would house the mechanical equipment. She said the smaller office on the northeast part of the property would have all its mechanical equipment on the backside of the building surrounded by plantings or screening of some type.

Ms. Everett asked if the people would be allowed access to either side of the building. Ms. Ryan said that they would.

The Chairman asked how many users would be in each building. Ms. Ryan said that they could have six to eight tenants per building, depending on how the internal layout of the building was structured.

Mr. Schley asked why they had chosen to use dryvit and not the materials listed in the Ordinance. Ms. Ryan said she thought using anything other than the dryvit would take away from the design of the building. She noted that the entire lower ten feet of the building was all brick and that there was stonework used throughout the building, and she thought it was more than adequate.

The Chairman asked, if the reduced greenspace was allowed on 8th Street and Stadium Drive, whether the applicant was willing to provide the additional screening that the Planning Commission thought was necessary. Ms. Ryan said that they would be prepared to put in evergreen shrubs and additional low level canopy trees to satisfy the Township and meet its greenspace ordinance. She said she thought increasing the setback of the buildings but increasing what they invested in the greenspace would be an appropriate compromise between the typical building setback allowed and what they were requesting in the way of a deviation.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if they would agree to decrease the parking. Ms. Ryan said that was not a problem, since they were going to have to put in additional greenspace islands both in the front and the rear.

The Chairman asked if there were any comments from the public.

Ms. Leatrice Swander said she lived in the area 28 years. She said she thought it was becoming overcrowded in the Township to the point where one could not breathe. She said she was very concerned about the proposed project due to the increase in traffic and that she thought the Township did not need another project of this type. She also expressed concern of the fact that she was not aware of the proposed project until she had picked up the newspaper that evening.

Mr. George Harvey said he lived on 8th Street. He said he was very concerned about traffic on 8th Street and Stadium Drive. He said he thought the road would need to be widened and a traffic light added. He also said that there needed to be an deceleration lane on Stadium Drive for a project of this size. In addition, he said he thought they should lower the speed limit. He said he was concerned about drainage from the proposed project. He said he was also concerned about property values. However, he noted that this was still the United States and that the owner was entitled to develop his property and make a profit.

The Chairman noted for those in attendance that traffic was controlled by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission and much of what they were requesting along that line was not within the control or the privy of the Planning Commission.

Mr. Brad Roche told the people in attendance that he lived on 6th Street and that he was also concerned about traffic and a possible traffic light at 8th Street. He said he did live in the neighborhood, and he wanted to be a good neighbor.

Mr. George Harvey asked if the Planning Commission could recommend a deceleration lane or a light. Ms. Everett pointed out that they could request it, but that the Road Commission had specific guidelines which would dictate whether such a request was granted.

Ms. Swander said she had requested a lower speed limit on 6th Street and that the Road Commission had simply ignored her. Ms. Everett again explained the process that the Road Commission went through, using state police guidelines in establishing stated speed limits.

Ms. Laura Raher asked if there would be sidewalks on the perimeter of the property. Ms. Stefforia said that there would because sidewalks are required by the Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Schley asked the applicant if there would be a large retail anchor at the proposed development. Mr. Roche said that they had hoped for some type of anchor, but that it likely would not be a retail anchor, but more likely a restaurant anchor.

Ms. Stefforia said, to put everyone's mind at ease, that drive-through restaurants were not allowed in the Village Commercial area.

The Chairman called for further Planning Commissioner discussion.

Ms. Garland-Rike said that she was quite concerned about the proposal. She said she had looked at the Village Commercial District, as well as the Focus Plan, and saw a disconnect between those provisions and what the applicant was proposing. She said that she did not think it was very pedestrian friendly; she also added that she did not believe that it had a Village Commercial feel to it. She said this looked more like a suburban shopping facility, not one that would serve the residences and the nearby area or encourage small business to develop.

Ms. Stefforia said this was a unique property, being approximately 15 acres in size and that, unlike many of the lots within the Village Commercial area, this property contained a great deal of frontage as well as acreage.

Mr. Schley said that several of the parcels in the Village Commercial area were fairly large and could be grouped together, and that if the Commission was not consistent in how it dealt with the development of this property, that it would set an improper precedent within the Village Commercial area. He said he was more comfortable hearing that the anchor was possibly a restaurant rather than a retail outlet, but that he still had concerns about the overall proposal set before them.

Mr. Larson said that the Village Commercial concept was not being met by what was submitted in the proposed design. He said there was no attempt at all by the applicant to meet the Village Commercial concept. He said requesting the parking in front of the building as well as a greater setback was nothing more than requesting a typical strip mall commercial development in the Village Commercial area. He said it did not meet the spirit or intent of the Ordinance.

Ms. Everett said that she understood the concerns that the other Commissioners had expressed, that it did not have a "villagy" feel. She also expressed concern that it is not pedestrian friendly; however, she understood the desire to have some parking in front of the buildings. Mr. Roche said there were sidewalks throughout the entire development, as well as the perimeter of the project. He said he would like to keep as many of the trees as possible and make as much a park-like setting as possible, but he said he had to have parking in front in order to make the proposed commercial/retail buildings viable.

Mr. Gould said he understood many of the concerns raised by his fellow Commissioners. However, he said he thought the site was unique based upon its size and wondered whether there was something more that could be done in order to satisfy those concerns and yet still maintain that "village look" for the 15-acre parcel.

Ms. Garland-Rike said she had seen other developments broken up in such a fashion as to look more like a village and less like a typical commercial strip mall and thought it could be done in this case if the applicant worked harder on the overall design.

Mr. Schley said part of the problem was that the Commission was talking in generalities, and he thought, as a designer, that the applicant had pushed to the absolute limit the options with regard to parking and setback so as to make it the least compatible with the Village Commercial District. He said he also did not think that the connectivity with the surrounding community with regard to pedestrian traffic was sufficiently addressed. In addition, he said he thought that the buildings did not even comply with the Ordinance with regard to types of materials to be used in their construction. He said that dryvit was simply not allowed under the Township's Ordinance. He said he thought, if the applicant lightened up on the parking toward the street, worked to improve the overall pedestrian design, complied with the building material provisions of the Ordinance, that the developer could develop the site in a manner consistent with Township Ordinances.

The Chairman asked if the Planning Commission could work on the overall design. Mr. Schley said he did not think it was their place to design the facility for the applicant but to simply provide them with sufficient information in order to comply with the Ordinance.

Ms. Garland-Rike said that she was concerned that there was no connection between the internal sidewalks with the sidewalks on Stadium Drive. Ms. Bugge suggested that the applicant point out their overall sidewalk design. Ms. Ryan pointed out how the sidewalks operated within the proposed development, as well as accessing the sidewalks on Stadium Drive. Ms. Bugge suggested that the brickwork could be used to differentiate the sidewalks across the various drives as part of the internal walkways within the development. Mr. Roche said he would be happy to do that.

The Chairman suggested that he get some additional Commissioner comments with regard to some of the specific requests made by the applicant. He asked whether the Commission would support the deviation from the setback required by the applicant. Mr. Larson said he could not support that. Ms. Garland-Rike said she would not support that either. Mr. Larson said, since this was the first large development in the Village Commercial, he thought that the Planning Commission should stay close to what was required. He said that style of parking was not consistent with the Village Commercial development at all.

Mr. Smith said, if they did allow parking along the building, it would allow for a greater greenspace along the road. Mr. Larson pointed out that is not what the District is attempting to accomplish, and with the proposed parking, they would not be allowing more greenspace.

Mr. Schley said it was a privilege to be granted the deviations requested, and that they should not be granted unless the development would still fulfill the spirit and intent of the Ordinance. He said, in his opinion, there was too much parking up front in order to be in compliance and in keeping with the image of the Village Commercial District. He suggested cutting perhaps two-thirds of the parking in the front and breaking up what parking was allowed and increase plantings. He said the 70-foot deviation from the setback and a 30% deviation for parking in front of the building was unpalatable. He said it was hard to say exactly what would work, but he thought the developer needed to redesign his proposal and resubmit it to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Larson said that there were solutions which would not reduce the utility of the site, but more effort needed to go into the overall design, and he agreed with Mr. Schley's comments.

Ms. Garland-Rike suggested that berms might be of some assistance to shield some of the proposed parking in front of the buildings.

Mr. Gould said, as a consumer, he did not think many people would be walking to the site from 9th Street, and that while he agreed with the village concept, he was amenable to giving the developer some parking in front because he thought it was consistent with what consumers would want.

Mr. Roche said, if they eliminated all the parking in the front, he simply could not rent that space and that it was going to be tough to make the project financially viable. He asked what the Commission would allow. He said they were only requesting one row of parking in the front, and if one moved the building closer to Stadium Drive, it would require changing the overall design of the buildings to increase the appeal to the back of the structures, thereby making the facade of the structures facing Stadium Drive less appealing.

Ms. Everett asked if there was a way to make the parking in the front smaller. Mr. Roche said it might be possible, but if they took all parking away from Stadium Drive, it would kill his ability to rent those units along Stadium Drive.

The Chairman again asked if the Planning Commission could determine what would be acceptable to it. Mr. Schley again noted that it is difficult without seeing a design to determine whether it would meet their criteria. He said he thought the Planning Commission had been specific enough with regard to the items within the proposed plan which were not in keeping with the Village Commercial District, and he suggested that the applicant take those areas into account and rework their overall design.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the applicant had over 1,600 feet of frontage, when the minimum lot frontage is 65 feet. Mr. Larson said he understood that, but he would like to see a revision to the plan which more closely adapted to the purpose and intent of the Village Commercial District before they took any action. He said he would not support any deviation to the setback or the parking without seeing the applicant try to redesign the overall site to look more like what the Commission intended under the Village Commercial District. Mr. Schley said the applicant could still adapt a large site like this by staggering parking, breaking up the building facades, or any number of recommendations made by other Planning Commission members to bring it more into compliance.

The Chairman said he was concerned that the Commission not set precedent in this area without them being as much in compliance with the Ordinance as possible. He said the Planning Commission had several options to grant approval, deny approval or send it back for revisions. Mr. Schley said he had made his comments to the applicant and thought the applicant needed to focus on redesigning the plan before the Commission considered it further. Mr. Larson said he would like to see the applicant incorporate more of what he had described in his discussions with the Planning Commission but simply was not reflected in the overall plans. Mr. Smith suggested that perhaps they could change the facade of the individual buildings so as to not look like one big commercial structure. Ms. Everett said that was a good idea. Mr. Schley also said that the overall design was simply too linear and that they needed to change their overall approach to address issues such as the setback and the parking, which he thought could be done, and that with some relatively moderate tweaks to the plan, the matter could be brought back to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Schley asked the Chairman to ask the applicant if they were amenable to tabling the matter and revising the overall plan. The applicant's engineer asked whether they would be able to bring the matter back to the Commission or whether there were limitations. Ms. Stefforia said that only a special exception use permit could not be reapplied for within one year, but that amended site plans could be resubmitted any time. The engineer questioned whether they had sufficient information from the Planning Commission upon which to revise the overall design. The Chairman said that they could go through the main points which were discussed such as the parking, the setbacks, building materials used, 8th Street non-motorized requirement (at which point Mr. Larson suggested sidewalks and the members of the Planning Commission concurred).

Mr. Gould asked if perhaps it would be viable for the applicant to rezone to general commercial. Ms. Stefforia said that they could, but it would also require a land use amendment which would require at least six months, given the notice and hearing process.

Mr. Larson asked what the Planning Commission would consider in the way of a parking deviation, if any. Ms. Everett said she was not sure that they wanted to specify an amount, but that it should be up to the developer to return with a plan he believed meets the spirit and intent of the Ordinance. Mr. Larson said he thought that the building should be brought closer to the street and the parking in front of the buildings greatly reduced or eliminated.

Ms. Everett asked if the applicant had discussed a deceleration lane with the County Road Commission. Mr. Todd Batts, engineer for the developer, said that there had been discussions with the Road Commission, but those discussions mainly centered on driveway placement. He said, given the configuration of Stadium Drive, he did not believe a deceleration lane would be required.

Mr. Batts also asked if the landscape plan had gotten lost. He said there were many references during the meeting to the fact that there was not a landscape plan, when, in fact, one had been provided. Ms. Stefforia said it was not included with the 11"x17" copies, but that a full-size plan had been submitted. However, she said that it did not have the level of detail required by the Township.

Ms. Bugge commented that Mr. Smith's comment of varying the building designs and perhaps roof configuration would go a long way toward breaking up the linear appearance of the buildings.

The Chairman asked if the applicant had any objection to a motion to table so that the developer and engineer could redesign the plans in accordance with the comments of the Planning Commission. Mr. Batts, after speaking with his clients, indicated that would be O.K.

Mr. Schley told the developer and his engineers that this was a doable project. He told them that they had heard all of the collective concerns voiced by the Planning Commission. He said that the Commission was asking them to be a good neighbor and to design a development which fit in with the community's idea of what it would like to see. He said basically they need to give it more of a small-town look to fit in with the other development within the Village Commercial area.

Mr. Roche asked if the Commission was totally against parking in front or whether they could angle the parking, chop it up and still have some parking in front. Mr. Schley said, from his perspective, the parking had to be reduced and broken up with clusters of green. In addition, he said there had to be a cross connection for pedestrian traffic, and again, more of a small-village feel.

The Chairman asked if there was further discussion, and hearing none, he said he would entertain a motion. Ms. Everett made a motion to table this matter until such time as it could be redesigned by the developer. The motion was seconded by Ms. Garland-Rike. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

CITY PLACE ESTATES (ROCHE) - CONCEPTUAL PLAN REVIEW - EAST SIDE OF 8TH STREET, NORTH OF STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-26-355-040)

The Chairman said the next item on the Agenda was the conceptual plan review for City Place Estates, an open space community containing 25 residences on 13 acres, located on the east side of 8th Street, north of Stadium Drive, being Parcel No. 3905-26-355-040. He asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Planning Commission dated September 8, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia explained to the Commission that the applicant was requesting conceptual plan review for an open space community consisting of 25 homes on 13 acres, which she said was within the limitations of the "R-2" Residential District.

She said that the developer owned two parcels on the northeast corner of Stadium Drive and 8th Street. She said the northern 10.9 acre parcel is zoned "R-2" and the southern 15-acre parcel is zoned "VC" Village Commercial. She said the proposal was to use 13.15 acres for an open space community, taking in the entire "R-2" Residential parcel and 2.2 acres of the 15-acre "VC" Village Commercial parcel. She said five of the 25 homes proposed would be developed within the underlying "VC" Village Commercial District. She explained that within the open space community, the Planning Commission had the authority to grant deviations from the Zoning Ordinance when found to be in keeping with the spirit of the Ordinance, and therefore, they could use this flexibility with respect to the dimensional requirements applicable to site condominiums and minimum building site width and area.

Ms. Stefforia then proceeded to take the Planning Commission through a review of Section 60.580 C of the Ordinance. She emphasized the need to discuss the type of non-motorized facility along 8th Street. She also asked that the Planning Commission discuss the need for more detailed information regarding the open space and any possible improvements to that open space.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Stefforia. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Todd Batts, engineer for Mr. Roche, again introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said that, in working on the project, they had been in discussions with both the Township Engineer and the County Drain Commissioner in hopes of relieving some of the flooding problems in the LaSalle Plat as part of the proposed overall development. He explained the proposed layout of the open space community and the proposed use of the low-lying area to not only serve the Village Commercial development to the south and the open space community, but the LaSalle Plat as well.

Mr. Batts also informed the Commission of the need to service the area with sewers and the steps they had taken to work with the Township and its Engineers to service the development, as well as the area in general. Mr. Batts then explained the horseshoe-shaped design and the purpose of developing the open space community in that configuration to take advantage of the existing depression for drainage. In addition, he explained the overall layout for a private road to access the site while maintaining the appearance of a dedicated public road.

Mr. Batts then raised a concern over the non-motorized pathway along 8th Street due to the topography of the land as it rose from south to north. He said he thought they could put in a sidewalk up to St. Charles Street, but that north of that, given the rise of the land, any type of sidewalk would be approximately eight feet above the road right-of-way. He said he did not believe a sidewalk in that location would be viable or safe for pedestrians.

Mr. Batts then went through the open space calculations with the Planning Commission. He said that the property was currently heavily wooded around the exterior, and they wanted to take whatever steps they could to maintain those trees. He said, in order to do that, they wanted to restrict any walkways or paths through that area because of the tenancy to reduce screening and to open up access routes to or from neighboring properties, which he thought should be discouraged.

When Mr. Batts concluded his presentation, the Chairman asked if the Commissioner had any questions. Mr. Larson asked Mr. Batts how long the water stayed within the drainage area when the water was discharged there. Mr. Batts said that there was no water currently going there, but when water was diverted from the LaSalle Plat to this site, he was not aware of any standing water at that site. He said he thought the ground had the ability to absorb any water deposited on it quite rapidly. He said the Drain Commissioner had done some preliminary review of the site and was very pleased with what he had seen with regard to drainage.

Mr. Larson asked the engineer how they were going to balance the property. Mr. Batts said as little as possible. He said that they would be doing the least amount of soil change as possible so as to maintain the aesthetic integrity of the property and minimize the overall cost of developing the project.

Ms. Stefforia asked if the project would be developed in phases. Mr. Roche said it would not. Mr. Batts said it would not be financially feasible to develop it in phases so they would be developing it as one project.

Mr. Schley asked if any of the fill needed on the southern property would be coming from the northern property. Mr. Batts said that it would not; he said they would be developing both sites independently and not use soil from one site to balance the other site.

The Chairman noted for those in attendance that this was an opportunity to offer guidance to the developer on a preliminary level, but he also wanted to open it up for public comment for those in attendance.

Mr. Jim Ross then introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he lived on 8th Street and inquired as to how a site condominium was different from a plat. Attorney Porter noted, for all practical purpose, that the site condominium was virtually identical to the development of a plat, but it was simply a different legal mechanism to achieve the land division. Mr. Ross said he appreciated the approach the developer had taken with regard to home ownership in this area, and that he was very pleased to see it was developing residentially. He also concurred with the Planning Commission comments with regard to the commercial development to the south and it maintaining a small town, village appearance.

Mr. George Harvey said he lived north of the development and that he was concerned about the wildlife in the area. He said that he concurred with the developer's engineer regarding a walkway along the east side of 8th Street. He said he did not think it was feasible. He suggested putting any sidewalk on the other side of the street because of topography and the number of trees along the east side of the street. Mr. Harvey said he would like to see a buffer zone established and also a fence built on the developer's property if at all possible.

The Chairman asked if there was any further public comment, and hearing none, he called for Commission deliberations. Again, the Chairman asked that the Commission provide guidance and comments regarding the conceptual plan.

Mr. Larson said he thought there should be a transition at St. Charles from a sidewalk to a bike lane. Mr. Batts asked what the bike lane would consist of. Ms. Stefforia said it would be a four-foot paved shoulder along the side of the road. Mr. Schley said he thought that was a "good call."

Mr. Larson said he would also like to see sidewalks on both sides of the street within the development to encourage pedestrian traffic. Ms. Garland-Rike said that they had required that in their last two developments, which were similar to the one presently before them.

The Chairman told the applicant that the Commission had been fairly consistent in requiring sidewalks on both sides of the street and that they were strongly in favor of seeing that type of infrastructure. Mr. Roche said that would not be a problem.

Mr. Schley said he did not have any problem with the proposed development, and he thought it was a nice transitional development from the Village Commercial area to the residential area to the north.

Mr. Smith said he certainly had no problem with providing for housing within the Village Commercial District, again, noting the nice transition from the Village Commercial to the Residential District.

Ms. Garland-Rike said she did not mind seeing the houses closer together because she thought that it created more open space, and her impression of the overall development was very positive.

Ms. Everett questioned whether the Commission had the authority to impose a fence between residential development. Attorney Porter indicated that there was currently no authority in the Ordinance to require such a fence. Mr. Roche also said that he would not want to remove the trees in order to install a fence and was inclined to keep the trees in place.

Ms. Bugge expressed a concern whether building site No. 8 would be buildable. Mr. Batts assured her that it would and would be a very nice walkout.

It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that the concept presented would be acceptable with minor revisions consistent with the comments of the Planning Commission members.

Other Business

None.

Planning Commissioner Comments

None.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 10:30 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
PLANNING COMMISSION

By:
Kathleen Garland-Rike

Minutes prepared:
September 13, 2005

Minutes approved:
, 2005