Meeting Minutes

April 2, 1998





A special meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, April 2, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Millard Loy
Ted Corakis
Marvin Block
Ken Heisig

Member Absent:

Lara Meeuwse

Also present were Rebecca Harvey and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and four (4) other interested persons.



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



Mr. Loy moved to approve the agenda as submitted. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.



The next item was consideration of the application of Maple Hill Mall for special exception use/site plan review to allow for outdoor mall promotion activities in the general parking area (in an area approximately 160' x 300' in the vicinity of Gantos Boutique) consisting of amusement rides, skill games, and food; outdoor activities are proposed to be conducted April 10, 1998, through April 19, 1998. The subject property is located in the NEĽ of Land Section 13 on the north side of West Main Street in the "C-1" Zoning District classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Harvey suggested that the Planning Commission consider the application in view of the criteria for special exception use approval and then the criteria for site plan approval prior to entertaining a motion with regard to approval of the application. She noted that the elements of the application involve, first, the outdoor activities, i.e., carnival/promotion events, and, second, outdoor storage/staging area with temporary living accommodations for carnival staff.

Kimberly Woodard, Marketing Director for Maple Hill Mall, was present on behalf of the applicant. She noted that the mall had been involved with other outdoor promotions in the past and that the property managers for the mall have had experience with this kind of promotion in other shopping centers. It was felt that the carnival event would bring "traffic" to the site which would then be encouraged to shop in the mall through carnival ticket giveaways, etc. It would be a family-oriented event. Ms. Woodard noted the occupancy and vacancy problems associated with the mall and noted that the tenants feel that the event would bring shoppers into the mall.

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to the "frequency" of the proposed carnival event. Ms. Woodard responded that this would depend upon the success of the event and that the applicant was seeking approval of the carnival for only this year, i.e., that it would be considered a one-time event.

Tim Jenkins, a representative of Wade Shows, was present, stating that his company conducted such carnivals in other shopping areas around Michigan. He noted that, in some situations, due to lack of space, etc., the accommodations for carnival staff were located offsite; however, Wade Shows prefers to keep the accommodations on site for security and for the convenience of the workers. He stated that the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds was willing to take at least some of the living quarters for carnival staff but that the fairgrounds was not sure it could accommodate the 12-15 living quarters vehicles.

Mr. Jenkins stated that the employees for the carnival were "permanent" employees for the most part. There might be some openings for which local residents would be considered, but the company did not normally recruit in the location of the carnival. It was noted that event set-up was proposed to occur Monday, April 6, through Thursday, April 9, 1998. The carnival would be dismantled after closing on Sunday, April 19, and most equipment would be offsite before rush hour on Monday morning, April 20. With regard to hours of operation, Mr. Jenkins stated that the carnival was proposed to operate Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., on Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m. There was discussion of Easter Sunday, and Mr. Block questioned the applicant with regard to the hours of operation. It was noted that the mall would be closed on Easter Sunday. It was suggested that the carnival would operate from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

As to security, Mr. Jenkins stated that a formal contract with regard to security would be reached subsequent to this approval. Most probably security would be supplied by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, reserves and active officers.

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to lighting. It was noted that some rides and concessions have neon lighting. The applicant stated that the carnival site would be set up so that all lighting would face inward in the square area in which the carnival was set up in the parking lot. Only concessions and rides would be lighted. No additional free-standing lights would be established. Existing parking lot lighting would be utilized. John Marquette, on behalf of Wade Shows, stated that the lighting on the concessions and rides would have a "clean look."

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, Mr. Jenkins stated that Wade Shows had been in business since approximately 1912. It is a Michigan corporation which is the largest outdoor amusement company in Michigan. He stated that it was eighth largest nationwide.

Mr. Heisig questioned the applicant with regard to advertising, and it was noted that advertising of the event would be offered by an area radio station and in the Kalamazoo Gazette. No attention-getting devices would be established on site (for example, balloons, spotlights, P.A. systems, sirens or horns). No additional signage was proposed, but the marquee sign for the mall would advertise the carnival event.

There was no public comment offered, and the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson noted that the Planning Commission had previously considered and granted a number of special exception use permits regarding outdoor display and sales of merchandise. This was the first special exception use permit application considered for a promotional activity of this type.

It was recognized that the carnival event would be established in the south lot of the mall and would consist of 16 rides, ten game tents and three food-vending trailers. The area to be occupied by the outdoor carnival event was approximately 165' x 390' and would occupy approximately 246 designated parking spaces and related access aisles. The area would be fully fenced. It was noted that the proposal was being considered under Section 31.403, which allows businesses involving substantial outdoor sales or activities in the "C-1" District.

The Chairperson directed the Planning Commission's attention to Section 60.100 of the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Commission considered whether the proposal would be compatible with other uses permitted in the "C-1" District. As to the carnival event itself, it was noted that the "C-1" District is designed to accommodate outdoor activities catering to the general public more extensive commercial uses occupying greater land area. Planning Commission members felt that the carnival-type of event was in keeping with this intent. Further, it was felt that the proposed use was in keeping with other uses permitted in the "C-1" District in that the carnival event would be tied to mall promotion. Board members felt that the size of the mall could support the magnitude of the event, especially in that it was a temporary, one-time event and given its current occupancy rate.

Mr. Block expressed concern that the event would take up a significant part of the parking area. Moreover, he had some trouble linking the mall shopping to the carnival event. He was also concerned about the noise which would be generated by the property as rendering it incompatible with other uses in the "C-1" District. The applicant indicated that the equipment was such that noise levels could be adjusted. The Chairperson stated he felt that, given the hours of the operation of the carnival were similar to those of the mall, the event was compatibile.

Mr. Corakis expressed that he had no problem with the hours of operation and felt that bringing "traffic" to the site would be positive for the mall operation. He felt that the noise generated would not be a problem given the location of the carnival in the midst of the parking area. The Chairperson agreed, stating that the location at the interior of the mall parking lot did make the use more compatible.

As to the storage/living quarters, it was felt that these activities were necessary part of the infrastructure for the carnival event and, therefore, that locating the activities on site due to frequency of use would render the use more compatible and more in keeping with health, safety and welfare.

There was a return to the discussion of noise, and it was noted that three rides had music associated. However, the applicant stated that they would work with the Township and comply with the Township's Noise Ordinance.

Mr. Loy questioned the applicant with regard to the living quarters/staging area, and the applicant described the fashion in which the vehicles would be parked to create a "compound." There would probably be a hook-up to the mall for water, but that otherwise they would be self-contained units. and the The applicant stated that the dumpster for the use would be set up in the "old dumpster site" for Gilmore's.

There was a discussion of the living quarters, and it was noted that there would be three RV's or dorm trailers which could accommodate 15-20 people each. Again, the Chairperson expressed he felt that, for the convenience and the efficient operation of the carnival event, it would be better to locate the living accommodations on site. He felt it would benefit safety to allow the carnival staff to "take breaks" in the living quarters and to accommodate shift changes. Therefore, it would promote safety to allow the living accommodations on site.

There was a discussion of whether there would be a negative impact on adjacent properties. It was noted that the carnival event, established in the parking area, would obviously reduce the amount of parking available for the mall and adjacent properties. However, it was felt that, due to the occupancy or vacancy rate in the mall and temporary nature of the event, there was sufficient parking even taking into account and deducting those spaces which would be utilized by the carnival event. There was a discussion of adjacent facilities, and it was noted that the Applebee's parking was relatively self-contained. However, Target, Finley's and Old Country Buffet have cross-parking arrangements with the mall and might feel some impact. The Commission was particularly concerned with the impact on Old Country Buffet. Ms. Woodard stated that a letter had been directed to the restaurants and to Target, indicating the location of the proposed use, and that no opposition had been expressed. It was noted that Old Country Buffet and the other users had also received notification of the proposal from the Township. The Chairperson and Mr. Loy both felt that, in that no representative of the Old Country Buffet had expressed concern, they were satisfied that the effect would be tolerable. As to mall circulation, it was felt that, for the most part, the mall circulation pattern was not being impeded by the location of the carnival in that it was arranged so as to maintain all major traffic aisles.

There was further discussion of the Noise Ordinance of the Township, and it was noted that the Noise Ordinance allowed 65 decibels between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and 55 decibels was the limit between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

With regard to refuse, there would be daily/evening clean-up. Portable toilets would be located on the west side of the site which would be serviced daily. There would also be toilets within the RV's.

The Planning Commission considered whether the proposal would promote public health, safety and welfare. It was noted that the proposal complies with ordinance standards with regard to setback, parking and signage. The use should be subject to compliance with the Building, Electrical and Fire Codes and the Township Noise Ordinance. Further, it was felt that any approval should be subject to compliance with Health Department requirements and finalization of security arrangements.

Mr. Block questioned the applicant with regard to licensing requirements. The applicant described Michigan's licensing procedure and the requirement of inspections of the rides prior to opening of the carnival.

The Planning Commission next considered whether the proposal would encourage use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability. It was felt that it would in that the outdoor activity would not permanently alter the site as it was a temporary use. Section 31.403 was reviewed, and again lighting, parking and setbacks were considered.

The Planning Commission next discussed Section 82.800 with regard to site plan review. It was noted that the existing entrance/exit drives off West Main Street along the primary access aisles/drives located around the parking lot perimeters were to remain uninterrupted. The outdoor carnival event and outdoor storage and staging area were situated within designated parking spaces and related access aisles. Again, it was expressed that, given the high vacancy rate within Maple Hill Mall, reducing the parking for the mall would not impede its operation, defining that adequate parking would remain, even considering the spaces which would be utilized by the events; the finding as to parking was thus based upon the current vacancy rate at the mall and on the fact that it was a temporary (one-time) event.

There was a return to a discussion of the lighting arrangement and it was noted that, since the rides, etc., would be arranged within the carnival area so as to be directed inward, given the temporary nature and given the fact that the lighting associated with the rides and concession stands was intertwined with the carnival use itself, lighting was acceptable.

After further discussion, Mr. Corakis moved to grant special exception use permit to the temporary use pursuant to the previous discussion of the Planning Commission and finding that the proposed application met the criteria of Sections 60.100 and 31.403. Approval was conditioned upon:

(1) Compliance with Building, Electrical and Fire Code Ordinances, as well as the Township Noise Ordinance;

(2) Finalization of adequate security arrangements and provision of documentation regarding same on file with the Township;

(3) Compliance with Health Department requirements.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Loy and carried unanimously.

Mr. Heisig moved to approve the site plan for the temporary use, referencing the previous discussion of the Planning Commission, with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That the adequacy of parking, considering the spaces which would be utilized by the event, was found to be sufficient based upon the current vacancy rate of the mall and the fact it was a temporary event.

(2) That, with regard to on-site security for the event, the documentation regarding an adequate arrangement must be submitted and on file with the Township.

(3) That the use shall meets the requirements/limitations of the Township's Noise Ordinance.

(4) That the approval was subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department, as well as Building and Electrical Inspector.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Block and carried unanimously.



There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Minutes approved: