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April 11, 2002






A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, April 11, 2002, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Stanley Rakowski
Deborah L. Everett
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Kathleen Garland-Rike

Mike Ahrens

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


The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.


Ms. Stefforia suggested adding two items under "Other Business", i.e., a discussion of a rezoning request on South 9th Street and a discussion of the Mid-Year Work Program. Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of March 28, 2002. The Chairperson pointed out a typographical error on page 10. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Stefforia stated that members of the Asylum Lake Focus Committee had seen Township Planning Commission minutes on the Township's web site pertaining to the discussion of the Consumers Energy substation locating near Colony Farm Orchard. The Committee would make a presentation to the Planning Commission regarding the history of Asylum Lake property as well as Colony Farm Orchard.

Mark Hoffman presented a handout with a map depicting the land area along with a time-line history of the property, namely Asylum Lake, the Orchard and the Gibbs/Baker Farmstead.

It was noted that Western Michigan University had been granted jurisdiction over the properties by Public Act. The conveyances provided that the University may utilize the property solely for public park recreation, or open space purposes, except that the Legislature by statute may authorize Western Michigan University to utilize the property for some other public purpose. According to Public Act, Michigan State University was granted the right to use the Orchard property for research purposes.

Kay Chase presented a handout regarding the Position Statement for the Asylum Lake area. She noted that in 1998 Western Michigan University had decided to build an engineering campus and research park at the former Gibbs/Lee Baker Farm property and entered into a Partnership Agreement with the City of Kalamazoo. The Position Statement was developed to implement the goals of the Partnership Agreement, namely to promote ecosystem, integrity and natural aesthetics, ensure passive recreation, and support research and education.

In March of 2002, the Asylum Lake Focus Group was convened and charged with figuring out how to accomplish three goals set in the Partnership Agreement: define permissible passive recreational activities, recommend ways to reduce environmental degradation and recommend protective covenants.

Western Michigan University had granted a Conservation Easement to the City for the Asylum Lake property. It was suggested that Western Michigan University could grant a Conservation Easement, if it chose, to the Township to protect the Orchard property.

Patricia Klein discussed the Partnership Agreement, stating that Consumers Energy had been granted an Easement to use part of the Orchard property, but that Consumers Energy did not have a right to landscape the property without Western Michigan's involvement.

Chad Avery discussed the October, 2001, Kalamazoo Nature Center Report concerning the historic nature of the Orchard. It was noted that the Orchard property has research potential to study the effect of highways on natural landscaping and wildlife. Further, the Orchard property provided a buffer between U.S. 131 and the Asylum Lake property. There was a concern about controlling exotic, invasive species of landscaping and encouraging pre-settlement species to develop on the Orchard property. Mr. Avery stressed that action affecting one property in the area would affect others, i.e., landscaping on one would affect other properties in the area because of cross-pollination. The plantings considered should be native species.

Mary Hosley also stressed the need to consider the effect of activities on the Orchard property on the adjacent Asylum Lake property. She urged consideration of light pollution, cross-pollination, and water pollution/run-off. As to landscaping issues, it was indicated that Western Michigan University Environmental Institution could be a resource for recommendations as to landscaping. She felt that light should be minimized and directed down at the site. As to water pollution, permeable roadways should be encouraged to provided infiltration.

Ms. Bugge indicated that a letter had been sent by the Township to Western Michigan University urging a discussion of landscaping at the Consumers Energy's easement. She was working with Consumers to establish landscaping at the site, which would be in keeping with the concerns expressed by the Asylum Lake Focus Committee.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell indicated she welcomed the comments regarding native landscaping and would like to do the Township work on requiring native landscaping in its Ordinance.

There were questions regarding a Conservation Easement, and it was stressed that such an Easement would have to be agreed to by Western Michigan University. Further, Michigan State University may have some rights in granting a Conservation Easement in that it has the right to use the property until "they no longer need it".

The Chairperson thanked the Committee for their presentation.


The Planning Commission returned to an item which had been tabled at the meeting of February 28, 2002, regarding the proposed dimensional requirements for the Rural Residential District and Agricultural District. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia noted that she had provided a build-out analysis with current standards and proposed standards. Sixteen percent of currently unplatted property could be subdivided without establishing a plat. According to her calculations, there would be no appreciable change in that percentage if the dimensional standards proposed were adopted. There would be no loss in development rights.

Ms. Stefforia distributed a letter received from Ken Hubers on behalf of the Homebuilders Association. It indicated that the Homebuilders Association supported the proposed dimensional and density requirements. This letter dated April 11, 2002, is incorporated herein by reference.

The Chairperson expressed disappointment with the requirements as revised from those initially drafted by the Planning Commission. He felt that the standards should do more to encourage rural residential character and discourage platting in the western portion of the Township.

Ms. Garland-Rike indicated that she had done research regarding open space communities and that certain publications had indicated that, if a large enough difference were created between standards applied to open space communities and plats, open space communities would be encouraged. She wondered whether there was enough difference between the two standards as proposed. However, Ms. Garland-Rike was also concerned about requiring three acre minimums because she felt that this would lead to large lots or "rural sprawl".

Earnie Best was present, stating that he was urging the Township to retain a requirement of 40% open space in its open space provisions rather than go to 50%. It was noted that state law now requires 50%.

Ms. Garland-Rike suggested streamlining the open space process in order to encourage its use. Further, she wondered whether a concept plan depicting an open space community could be required of those proposing plats.

Mr. Rakowski moved to recommend the dimensional requirements as proposed, and the motion failed for lack of support.

The Chairperson commented, reading from the Master Land Use Plan, that he was concerned that the provisions as proposed did not meet Master Land Use Plan goals. Ms. Stefforia read from the recommended language in the Master Land Use Plan regarding use of non-traditional land use options.

She felt that, if the dimensional standards encouraged the open space community use, it would meet this Master Land Use Plan goal.

Mr. Best commented that, if there was a big difference between the platted and unplatted standards, platting is encouraged. Planning Commissioners agreed, noting it was not their goal to encourage platting rather than developing unplatted parcels. Therefore, it was suggested that the standards for platted lots and building sites be revised to be consistent with those for unplatted parcels. However, there was some desire to encourage the extension of public water through the standards. Additionally, it was recognized that the frontage requirements should not be 200 feet due to the expense that this would cause for the road system of a plat.

Consequently, Planning Commissioners agreed, with regard to the standards for lot and building site area, that with water, a density of 1.0 dwelling unit per acre would be allowed. Without public water, a density of 1.0 dwelling unit per 1.5 acres would be allowed. As to minimum width, a minimum width of 110 feet would be allowed with public water and 130 feet without public water.

Ms. Garland-Rike moved to recommend the revised dimensional standards chart, including the amendments made regarding lot and building site expressed above, to the Township Board. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


It was suggested that this item be postponed to another meeting when more time was available to discuss the concept.


It was noted that the Township Planning Director would be meeting with the City Planner and that a discussion of this item could be had at the joint meeting with the City. Further, there was concern that some Planning Commissioners interested in the item were not present. It was suggested that the item be postponed to a later work session.


Ms. Stefforia submitted information concerning a rezoning request regarding property on South 9th Street. The property is currently zoned "I-R", and the applicant was seeking "R-5" in order to expand Huntington Run. It was noted that there would be a Master Plan change required.

Planning Commissioners agreed that the area should not be expanded beyond that suggested by the applicant, and that there was no where logical area to which to expand the "R-5" zoning. However, there was discussion of possibly expanding to consider other zones such as the Village Commercial District.

It was noted that the item would be considered at the next meeting in that discussion with the applicant needed to take place concerning whether the proposed project could be accommodated in the Village Commercial District. Moreover, research into the new requirements concerning Master Land Use Plan amendment noticing was required.

There was discussion of the proposed Mid-Year Work Plan.


There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.


Stanley Rakowski, Secretary
Minutes prepared:
April 12, 2002

Minutes approved:
, 2002