Township Board Minutes

August 10, 1999

The Oshtemo Township Board held its regular meeting at the Township Hall. The meeting was called to order by Supervisor Fleckenstein, at 7:00 p.m.

Supervisor Ron Fleckenstein
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Lois Brown
Trustee Norman Anderson
Trustee Marvin Block
Trustee David Bushouse
Trustee Fred Johnson

Also present was Richard Reed, Township Attorney and Larry Stehouwer, Township Engineer along with 19 interested people.

Motion made by Block, seconded by Johnson to approve the minutes of the July 27 and July 28, 1999 meetings as prepared. Carried.

Income to the General Fund of $42,327.82 and disbursements of $38,020.37 were reported. Fire Fund disbursements were $22,903.10. Motion made by Johnson, seconded by Anderson to acknowledge the receipts and pay the bills. Carried.

Kadir Mohmand, 6147 Old Log Trail was critical of the Board for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance expressing his opinion that minority property owners do not receive justice. He also felt that the Township Board minutes do not accurately show or summerize comments of the public.

The matter of a proposed water main extension on West Main from the Township Hall to approximately 2 mile west of 4th Street was back before the Board. Attorney Reed presented the Board a resolution to create a special assessment district which is a two step process. Action on the resolution would direct the Township Engineer to prepare plans, cost estimates and a description for the district. Once these are accepted, the process moves to 2 public hearings, the first to set the district boundaries and cost, the second to determine the spread of the cost of the assessment. He also advised the Board they may accept the district as proposed or modify it, make it smaller but not expand it.

Clerk Everett stated that the commercial establishments have a right to be where they are, however, limitations on the property were known when it was developed; understands their desire for water but feels that this is a burden for the residential properties along the proposed extension. She referred to an article in the M..T.A. news which stated in part that the amount paid by each parcel owner is set at a level proportionate to the benefit that parcel receives and inquired if and/or how this could be applied.

Attorney Reed advised that financing the project is the subject of the 2nd public hearing

Treasurer Brown stated she was concerned about the project getting to a 2nd hearing on a fast track with no chance to choose an alternative. She also shared the same concerns as Clerk Everett, adding that it is not fair to expect long time residents to subsidize businesses who built knowing utilities were not available.

Trustee Bushouse stated that in looking at what had generated the petitions originally, Fire Department requirements, in his experience as an underwriter for insurance companies, he analyzes different commercial establishments in other municipalities without the restrictions our Fire Department is placing. He further stated he had earlier indicated he wanted to see a report from the Fire Department indicating the size of the buildings, the classifications of buildings and the water flow required, and how it compares with nationally recognized building codes, not an interpretation through the Fire Code. He has serious reservations that what we are asking of these commercial projects in the way of water flow is far greater than what is required elsewhere. While acknowledging that the businesses chose to develop knowing utilities were not available, he would like to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are being treated as fair as if they were to build elsewhere.

Clerk Everett inquired if a parcel across the street from the water main would be able to hook up. Engineer Stehouwer advised no and that it was the intent to eventually have the water main down both sides of West Main.

Attorney Reed suggested the citizens involved in the district should be informed that the Board is not bound to assess them at $32.00 per front foot as stated in the initial letter circulated with the petition had indicated. He advised the Board they are required to assess accordingly to benefit. Treasurer Brown reminded the Board that the City of Kalamazoo had raised their rates since the petitions had been circulated.

Trustee Block inquired if the Board may change the district boundaries at the public hearing level. Attorney Reed advised yes; the subject of the first public hearing is to obtain citizen input and the Board may adjust the district or terminate the project at either hearing.

Supervisor Fleckenstein stated he felt we should move forward to the public hearing stage to see what support or opposition there is for the project, that it is only fair to get input from all, and feels the public hearing is the place to do that.

Trustee Bushouse inquired about seeking alternatives for financing, i.e., connection fees or bonding, parcels would be charged when connected, based on their benefit at the time. This approach could accumulate income for a continuing water fund.

Motion made by Bushouse, supported by Block to direct the engineer to prepare plans, description and estimate of cost for the petitions as submitted.

Engineer Stehouwer suggested preparing the cost estimates for each petition as there seemed to be little interest at the east and west end of the proposed extension. He further advised it would be better to stop the west end where a loop could be made, rather than having a dead end main.

Clerk Everett asked for clarification on how the district was drawn, why some parcels included all the land area, some did not. She further stated that if the weight of the signature on the petition is based on land area of a parcel, the entire parcel should be included.

Engineer Stehouwer advised districts are generally drawn to show areas benefitting from the water.

Treasurer Brown stated that she would vote to move forward to look at the cost and the district drawn under different lines, but stands by her earlier remarks. Clerk Everett stated she would also vote to move forward but reaffirmed her earlier position. Supervisor Fleckenstein indicated he would also vote to move forward.

Steven Langeland, 6401 Old Log Trail, son of Nella Langeland, 7653 West Main, addressed the Board concerning the issues raised by Clerk Everett. He felt we must have a valid petition to move forward representing more than 50% of the total area. He felt this district had been drawn to pass since it gives greater weight to those in favor. Although the statute does not address how it must be drawn, if it had been drawn uniformly or by complete parcel, it would not have 50%. Engineer Stauhauer concurred it would be more marginal if drawn this way.

Mr. Langeland further stated he felt the petition is insufficient and the district should be redrawn equally.

Attorney advised the Board may direct the engineer to redraw the boundaries. Treasurer Brown suggested using the same depth for each parcel.

Engineer Stehouwer suggested the cost could be paid by those in the center portion since that seems to be where the major interest is.

Grace Borgfjord, 9802 Sunnywood Drive, advised the Board that this project came about due to requirements of the Fire Department. She advised the district was set up by a group of interested people, however it was drawn by Engineer Bob Snell. Those interested in water have worked closely with the Township. The interested parties had looked at the cost of the project and found it to be exorbitant. She advised there were residential property owners interested, not only commercial property owners and that everyone benefits any time water is made available by having lower insurance rates.

Trustee Block stated he agreed and firmly believes any time the Township has the opportunity to extend water and sewer lines we should. He acknowledged that it is costly, but adds to the value of a property and the Township needs the infrastructure.

Treasurer Brown, suggesting the engineer balance both sides, moved to amend the earlier motion to request plans showing parcel depths of approximately 500 feet, using the property line for those with less than 500 feet. The motion was supported by Anderson.

Mrs. Borgfjord reminded the Board they could still consider a petition with less than 50% of the parcel area signatures.

Vote on the motion to amend was carried. Roll call on amended motion showed Block-yes, Anderson-yes, Bushouse-yes, Johnson-yes, Everett-yes, Brown-yes, Fleckenstein-yes. Item will be placed on August 24th agenda..


Wilfred Dennie, Planning Commission Chairman presented to the Board a recommendation for a proposed text change regarding Special Exception Use criteria. It would allow that no application for a Special Exception Use permit which had been denied could be resubmitted for a period of one year except on the grounds of new evidence or proof of changed circumstances or conditions, and that no expansion, alteration or change of a Special Exception Use could be made without approval of the Planning Commission.

Motion made by Block, seconded by Anderson to accept the Planning Commission recommendation and set First Reading for the August 24. Carried.

Chairman Dennie presented to the Board a request from Richard Schramm for the rezoning of three parcels located near the corner of Stadium Drive and South 7th Street in Section 34 from I-1 to C. He reminded the Board that this item had been returned to the Planning Commission in 1998 for review of an expanded area south to the AT&T right of way. The Planning Commission decided to take no further action at that time since an Industrial Classification update of the Master Land Use Plan was under review.

Chairman Dennie advised the recommendation is for denial of the rezoning. The Planning Commission=s determination is that the Industrial Classification should not be expanded or reduced and feel there is a limited amount of industrial property. Rezoning would not be supported by the Master Land Use Plan.

Trustee Bushouse inquired about information in recent minutes indicating that commercial was being considered for the 6th Street and Stadium Drive SW corner. Chairman Dennie advised the Master Land Use Plan supports a neighborhood commercial node.

Char Schramm, 2001 South 4th Street, owner of the property at the SW corner of Stadium Drive and 7th Street addressed the Board stating she felt their request would not be spot zoning since there are commercial uses on both sides, to the east being Rollerworld and on the west side Heslinga Lawn & Power Equipment which was permitted in I-1 under Special Exception Use, but in her opinion is a commercial venture. While waiting a year and a half for a decision an industrial plat to the east was created. She further stated that their parcel is a buildable site, granted a setback variance in 1989 and under previous text could have been developed as commercial. She further stated that the parcel with its size being 7/10th of an acre is not overly practical for industrial development.

Brian Maloney, owner of Rollerworld, advised the Board of the difficulties he faces as a non-conforming use. The property was zoned commercial until the text change made him a non-conforming use. He is unable to improve his property and has been denied by two banks based on the non-conforming use. He feels there is spot zoning in the area since there is property across the street zoned Agricultural.

Dick Schramm, 2001 South 4th Street felt that with the parcel being 7/10th of an acre, citing it as viable industrial property was not a valid reason for denial. He further stated that the property was purchased with the intent of commercial and office use. He felt that the Township had taken away the zoning and his right to develop through the text amendment. He further stated that property at Stadium Drive and South 6th Street had recently been recommended for rezoning before a purchase was made and that it constitutes a spot zone, adding that the applicant is a former board member.

Clerk Everett questioned Mr. Dennie about Planning Commission minutes referencing a way to
address the concerns of the non-conforming use. He advised that this was the case, however, he reminded the Board that decisions are based on the Master Land Use Plan and it is the role of the Planning Commission not to perpetuate non-conforming uses.

Motion made by Block to support the Planning Commission recommendation to deny the rezoning request.

Clerk Everett asked Mr. Schramm about the office uses allowed under Special Exception Use in the I-1 zoning. He advised that he had petitioned for the addition of general offices as a permitted use but was denied. He cannot place a general office on the parcel. Chairman Dennie advised that when considering rezoning, a particular use cannot be considered. Mr. Schramm stating that he has no opposition to Heslinga=s operation feels that the use does not fit the Special Exception Use of a farm machinery sales lot. He further urged the Board to consider keeping the area rezoning small and feels the procedure of rezoning is the appropriate way to deal with items that don=t quite fit; treat things fairly; requests should be handled on an individual basis.

Finding no support for Trustee Block=s motion, Attorney Reed advised the Board that they must take action. Since the item had already been returned to the Planning Commission, that is not an option.

Motion made by Johnson, supported by Anderson to set for 1st reading for August 24th for rezoning of the SW corner and SE corner parcels at Stadium Drive and South 7th Street, and deny rezoning the balance of the expanded area.

Chairman Dennie felt is was important that the basis of the motion be explained, advising that a precedent is being set for further commercial expansion.

Trustee Bushouse responded that the industrial zoning we have on South 9th Street are large buildings, another example being Sprinkle Road which has a combination of very large and small concerns which seem to be compatible. He further stated that he doesn=t feel intersections on Stadium Drive are prime industrial land, many of the commercial uses in the area are not different than industrial uses and the 1989 text amendment became very restrictive.

Supervisor Fleckenstein agreed with Chairman Dennie urging the Board to be careful about setting precedent. He further questioned how will we say no to requests in the future and also affirmed that this rezoning would not be supported by the Master Land Use Plan.

Mr. Maloney stated he has been told at other meetings that precedent doesn=t matter and we should deal with each individual circumstance.

Treasurer Brown questioned if, hypothetically these two uses, an office and Rollerworld, would be allowed in a neighborhood commercial node. Chairman Dennie advised they would not; the nature of neighborhood commercial being businesses that cater to local neighborhood needs.

Trustee Johnson commented that when the Master Land Use Plan originated, it was stressed that it was a plan and would and could be changed due to circumstances. Chairman Dennie concurred pointing out that recent activity in this area, i.e., the industrial site condo development including Lake Michigan Mailers, suggests it is prime industrial land.

Treasurer Brown commented that there is sometimes a difficulty with the definition of perception. The general public might perceive Rollerworld and Lake Michigan Mailers as a commercial use. Chairman Dennie replied that commercial uses cater to the general public and Lake Michigan Mailers would not fit that category.

Motion to set First Reading for August 24th carried 4-3 with Block, Brown and Fleckenstein voting no.

Chairman Dennie presented to the Board a rezoning request which originated with the property at 2215 North Drake Road. The request is for rezoning from R-2 to R-3. The Planning Commission expanded the area north of the subject property. Their recommendation was to approve the rezoning to a depth of 495 feet citing it would be supported by the Master Land Use Plan, create a buffer or transitional area, would not result in a spot zone and would be consistent with other business uses in the area.

Trustee Bushouse inquired if the rezoning would effect Niewoonder Landscaping. Chairman Dennie advised it would not, it would still be a permitted use.

Attorney James Bauhof, representing the property owners, David and Kelly Seelbinder, advised the Board that the request for rezoning would allow continuation of a home based business which did not fit the criteria for home occupation. They had the support of the property owners to the north. Property owners to the south while expressing they did not wish to have their property rezoned had no objection to the rezoning request to the north.

Motion made by Anderson, seconded by Brown to set 1st reading for the proposed rezoning for August 24th. Carried.

Supervisor Fleckenstein presented a request from Triax Midwest Cable for transfer of their franchise to Mediacom L.L.C.

Treasurer Brown inquired if the transfer would effect the relationship with the Community Access Center. Supervisor Fleckenstein advised it would not; there are two years remaining on the agreement and it will be negotiated at that time to be similar with the current agreements.

Motion made by Everett, seconded by Johnson to approve the resolution for the transfer.

Roll call vote showed Johnson-yes, Bushouse-yes, Everett-yes, Brown-yes, Block-yes, Anderson-yes, Fleckenstein-yes.

Supervisor Fleckenstein advised the Board that Building Official Bob Horton had been involved in a rear end collision while stopped for traffic. He suffered minor injuries which required medical attention. The township vehicle has been declared a total loss by the insurance company. Bids were sought from three dealers for a 2 wheel drive, extended cab pick up truck. Three bids were received:

Seelye Ford - $17,000
Maple Hill Chrysler - $17,990
DeNooyer Chevorlet - $17,578.71

Motion made by Anderson, supported by Johnson to approve the purchase of the vehicle from Seelye Ford for $17.000. Carried.

Park Committee Chairman Johnson presented the Board with a proposal for expanding the parking lot at the Township park, needed due to the increased use of the park. It would also serve as overflow parking for elections and meetings with large attendance at the Township Hall.

Three bids were received:
J. Allen & Company - $17,465.00
Heystek & Sons - $17,502.00
Caporossi Asphalt Paving - $17,858.00

It was the recommendation of the committee and Township Engineer to accept the low bid from J. Allen & Company.

Motion made by Johnson, seconded by Brown to approve recommendation from the Park Committee and award the bid to J. Allen & Company for $17,465.

Trustee Bushouse felt since the difference is only $37.00, the bid should be awarded to Heystek & Sons since they are located in the township and are taxpayers. Treasurer Brown cited the fairness of seeking competitive bids and suggested that not accepting lowest qualified bids could result in not being able to get qualified bids from others. Trustee Johnson advised that this was discussed by the committee.

Motion carried with Bushouse voting no.

Clerk Everett advised that the Township Office staff would be hosting a pancake breakfast at the 2nd annual Oshtemo Day on August 21st at Flesher Field. The Fire Department will also be present with a display. Board members are welcome to participate.


Trustee Bushouse apologized for missing the last two meetings, advising that each year at this time he assists with a Special Peoples Camp.


Supervisor Fleckenstein updated the Board on the following:
10th Street Sewer Project - Sewer work is complete, road work will begin, road will be graveled and ready for school bus traffic on August 24th.

West H Avenue between 9th & 10th Streets - Road project is set to begin August 16th, includes replacement and widening.

Springwood Hills Water Project - Progressing slower than expected due to required boring under streets, process has failed, they will now do open road cuts so project will progress faster now.

There was no further business and the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.


DEBORAH L. EVERETT                                              Attested: RON FLECKENSTEIN
Township Clerk                                                                                Supervisor