August 11, 2005



A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, August 11, 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

MEMBERS ABSENT: Kathleen Garland-Rike
Fred Gould

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


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


The Chairman noted that the next item was the approval of the Agenda. Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted. The motion was seconded by Mr. Schley. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.


The Chairman said the next item on the Agenda was the approval of the minutes of July 14, 2005. Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.


The Chairman indicated that the next item on the Agenda was consideration of a special exception use and site plan review for an office building in the "R-3" Residence District. The Chairman explained that the applicant was proposing a 1,900 square foot office building at 8089 Stadium Drive, Parcel No. 3905-33-402-055. The Chairman called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge submitted her report to the Planning Commission dated August 11, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge told the Planning Commission members that the applicant was actually requesting a 3,360 square foot office building, with 1,680 square feet in the upper level and the balance on the walkout lower level. She said office buildings were allowed as a special exception use in the "R-3" Residence District and were subject to the conditions and limitations set forth in Section 23.404. She explained that the property and adjacent properties were rezoned to "R-3" in 2002.

Ms. Bugge said the property was part of the Frie & Gibbs Plat, and consisted of two portions of a lot split which had been combined for tax purposes, one of which was now being considered for special exception use. She said the applicant was requesting to develop the east property, which consisted of 1.5 acres. She added that there were no development plans for the west property. A request to again consider the property as two separate lots had been submitted to the Township.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the subject property in relationship to the surrounding properties and their zoning.

Ms. Bugge then took the Commission through the provisions of Section 60 dealing with special exception use conditions, as well as Section 23.404 as set forth in her report.

Once Ms. Bugge completed the review of the special exception use provisions and the conditions and limitations provided under Section 23.404, she took the Commission through a site plan review, pursuant to Section 82.800 of the Township Zoning Ordinance. She specifically highlighted the need to discuss the type of pavement provided for the driveway, as well as the width of drive aisle and number of parking spaces. She asked that they address the width of the driveway and/or the width of the greenspace buffering the property to the west.

Ms. Bugge then emphasized the need to address the issue of a bike path along Stadium Drive.

When Ms. Bugge completed her report, the Chairman asked, if when the properties which were combined for tax purposes were divided, whether they would be buildable. Ms. Bugge explained that each lot was buildable since it was part of an approved lot split, and both were still separate legal lots. The Chairman asked if there were any further questions of Ms. Bugge, and hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant.

Mr. Steve Hamacher introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He asked the Commission members if they had any questions.

Ms. Stefforia asked what the office would be used for. Mr. Hamacher explained that he was a certified public accountant, and he would be using it for his office purposes.

Mr. Schley asked if the applicant intended to keep the lower level unfinished. Mr. Hamacher said that was correct. Mr. Schley then commented that he thought the plans showed that the drive width was 20 feet and not 22 feet. The applicant's engineer, Mr. Vander Weele of Vander Weele Design Consultants, indicated that Mr. Schley was correct; the drive was actually 20 feet in width.

Mr. Schley expressed a concern regarding the grade going to the rear portion of the parcel. He said, looking at the site plan, it appeared to him to have a slope of approximately 12 %. Mr. Schley said anything over 7% often results in wheel spinning in inclement weather. Mr. Vander Weele said he could spread the eight feet drop over an 80 foot distance, reducing the slope to no more than 10%. He also said that his client was considering raising the back portion of the property approximately two feet, which would further reduce the grade to between 7% and 8%. Mr. Schley then asked the applicant if he understood that, if the grade were not changed, there could be long-term difficulty in gaining access to the rear parking. Mr. Hamacher said he understood that, but they were willing to make some changes to correct the slope. Mr. Schley asked if they intended to make all of the modifications mentioned. Mr. Vander Weele said that they were committed to spreading the distance over the 80 feet to reduce the slope to no more than 10%, but were still debating as to whether they wanted to actually raise the rear parking area.

The Chairman raised the question regarding the screening to the property to the west. Mr. Vander Weele said that there was not enough space to accommodate the drive and meet the greenspace criteria required under the Ordinance. He said he was not aware of any other way to reconfigure the location of the structure. The Chairman asked if they were being asked to approve the drive at the width of 20 feet. Ms. Bugge asked if it was actually wider in those areas other than the curve. Mr. Vander Weele said it was not and confirmed that it was actually 20 feet in width.

Mr. Vander Weele further stated that the pavement was going to be bituminous except for the sidewalks. He also noted that the applicant would deal with lighting by having a photo-cell and timer to turn the pole light on and off. Mr. Vander Weele then asked for a deviation from the bike path, or at least a delay on establishing it, since the properties both to the north and the south were residential, and he did not believe that there would be anything to connect the bike path to in the near future.

Ms. Bugge told the Planning Commission and the applicant that they did need to submit a lighting plan and fixture details and that all wall packs had to be sharp cut-off lighting. Mr. Vander Weele said that he understood.

Mr. Vander Weele asked, if the bike trail was required, whether they could locate it five feet north of the property line? He said he thought this was necessary in order to deal with the topography in the area and not have it result in undue expense in the construction of the same.

The Chairman said that he would normally call for public comment, but since no members of the public were in attendance, he called for Commission deliberations.

The Chairman asked the applicant what his hours of operation would be. Mr. Hamacher said he would likely have longer hours January through April, but that the rest of the year would be normal business hours.

The Chairman asked the Planning Commission to address the following three issues: (1) the requested reduction of greenspace, (2) the width of the drive; and (3) the proposed bike path along Stadium Drive.

Mr. Smith said he did not have a problem with reduction of the greenspace, since the applicant owned the property next door, and if there was going to be any imposition, it would be to the applicant's own property.

Mr. Larson said he was concerned about the slope and width of the drive, as well as a reduction in the greenspace. He asked if it was possible to design the building to fit the property, rather than making the property fit the building. Mr. Vander Weele said that there was no other way to arrange the building on the property, other than what was proposed.

The Chairman asked if the Fire Department was concerned about the slope. Ms. Bugge said that the Fire Department's requirements indicated that a slope of 12% for asphalt and 15% for concrete would be allowed. She said, while the Fire Department did not seem overly concerned, it did raise some concern regarding access to the lower level.

Mr. Hamacher asked to comment on reconfiguring the structure. He said this was a modular building, which would not allow for a change to the proposed structure. He said he could more easily reduce the greenspace or increase the width of the drive than make any modifications to the proposed structure.

The Chairman asked if there were any comments about the bike path. Mr. Schley said he was surprised that there was a request to waive it, since he thought the Township had shown its strong commitment to installing bike paths in accordance with the adopted plans of the Township. He explained to the applicant that a similar development further west had requested a waiver of the bike path, and that had been denied. He explained to the applicant that the Township had to start some place, and that is why the Township had been consistent in requiring bike paths. Ms. Bugge explained that either the bike path could be installed, or it could be postponed by executing an escrow agreement, whereby the Township would hold the funds and install the bike path at the appropriate time. Ms. Everett pointed out that, even with the houses in the area, there were also other properties near the corner likely to develop, and that a bike path would be necessary in the not-to-distant future.

Ms. Everett said she did not have a problem with the drive, but if a more extensive use were to occupy the building, she would like the opportunity to reconsider the configuration of the drive at that time.

Mr. Larson said he thought it was important to widen the drive, as well as reduce the slope to the extent possible. Mr. Schley agreed, emphasizing that he called a 19-foot width drive as "clicking mirrors."

Ms. Bugge again raised the question of possibly narrowing the structure. Mr. Hamacher said that the modular being used is the only one intended for offices, and it does not allow for any type of deviation. Mr. Vander Weele confirmed that and said that the reduction in the modular would make it non-functional.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the property was very heavily wooded and that the reduction in the greenspace would most likely be made up by the current density of the trees on the property. The Chairman said he thought reduction in screening would be offset by the density of the growth on the property. The Chairman said he thought it would be better to reduce the greenspace and increase the width of the drive. He also added that he thought all of the Commission members supported the installation of the bike path.

The applicant asked how a bike path could be installed if the adjoining residential properties did not have to install a bike path. Ms. Stefforia pointed out, to the extent that the Township had to, they would connect the dots in the future. The applicant asked if he could postpone installation. Ms. Bugge again noted that the applicant would have the right to enter into an escrow agreement to delay the installation of the bike path until the Township felt it was appropriate.

Mr. Schley asked what the Planning Department wished to do with regard to the reduction of the greenspace and width of the drive. Ms. Bugge said she thought it was up to the Commission to make that decision in this case. Mr. Schley said he would advocate for a reduction in the greenspace and an increase in the width of the drive. Mr. Larson said he would agree with the need to increase the width of the drive, but he wanted to make sure that the Planning Department ensured that the density of the greenspace was sufficient to provide an adequate buffer to the property to the west. Ms. Stefforia noted that it would be appropriate for Staff to review the property after it had been cleared for installation of the drive and construction of the building to see if there was a need for supplemental landscaping. The Planning Commission concurred.

Mr. Schley then made a motion to approve the special exception use. The motion was seconded by Mr. Larson. The Chairman called for a vote, and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the site plan as submitted, subject to the following conditions:

(1) That details of both building-mounted and freestanding light fixtures be submitted to the Township Planning Department for review and approval;

(2) That the greenspace along the west boundary line be reduced to accommodate a 24-foot wide drive;

(3) That the density of the remaining greenspace be subject to review and approval by the Township Planning Department and supplemented as necessary;

(4) That the drive shall not exceed a 10% slope;

(5) That the lower level of the structure remain unfinished until a site plan has been approved for additional parking.

(6) That approval is subject to obtaining a driveway permit from the Kalamazoo County Road Commission;

(7) That an eight-foot wide bike path be located in the right-of-way line, in conformance with MDOT standards, or a performance guarantee and escrow agreement shall be executed.

(8) That all parking shall conform to Section 68.000 and Section 23.404.

(9) That setbacks shall comply with Section 64.000 and Section 23.404.

(10) That all lighting shall comply with Section 78.700. Outside building mounted and freestanding fixture locations and details shall be submitted to the Township for review and approval. Lighting shall be reduced during non-business hours.

(11) That approval shall be subject to the submission of sign details for review and approval through the sign-permitting process. All signs shall comply with Section 76.000.

(12) That in order to allow a 24-foot drive and desired screening along the west boundary line, a reduction in the west greenspace by four feet to 13 feet is approved.

(13) That landscaping in accordance with Section 75 shall be provided with credit for existing trees meeting the criteria of Section 75.200 as determined by the Township. A landscaping plan in accordance with Section 75 shall be submitted for Township review if supplemental plant material is found necessary.

(14) That landscaping shall be installed before a Certificate of Occupancy will be granted or a Performance Guarantee, consistent with the provisions of Section 82.950, must be provided.

(15) That site plan approval shall be subject to the applicant satisfying Fire Department requirements pursuant to the adopted codes.

(16) That site engineering and stormwater management are subject to review and a finding by the Township Engineer that they are adequate.

(17) That all utilities shall be underground.

(18) That an Earth Change Permit must be obtained from the Drain Commissioner.

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

Other Business


Planning Commissioner Comments

After a brief discussion, Planning Commission members decided to cancel the joint meeting with the other Boards on August 16, 2005.


There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 8:20 p.m.



Minutes prepared:
August 16, 2005

Minutes approved:
, 2005