August 12, 2004




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, August 12, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Deborah L. Everett
Lee Larson
Terry Schley
James Turcott

MEMBERS ABSENT: Kathleen Garland-Rike
Mike Ahrens

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


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


The Chairperson asked if there were any changes to the Agenda. Ms. Stefforia requested that the Planning Commission add a discussion regarding a proposed text amendment concerning the parking of vehicles for sale on agricultural or residential property. The Chairperson asked if there were any further amendments to the Agenda, and hearing none, called for a motion on the Agenda. Ms. Everett made a motion to approve the Agenda as amended. The motion was seconded by Mr. Turcott. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The next item on the Agenda was the approval of the minutes of July 22, 2004. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The Chairman called for discussion on the motion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


The Chairperson said the next item on the Agenda for consideration was the conceptual plan review of the West Port Village Condominiums. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Planning Commission dated August 12, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained to the Commission that Visser Construction, LLC had submitted the application for the property located at 5401 West H Avenue. She explained that the project included approximately 38.5 acres, being Parcel Nos. 3905-12-205-011 and 3905-12-205-030. She said the property was located in the "R-2" Residence District and was being considered pursuant to the PUD provisions of Section 60.400 and conceptual plan review, pursuant to Section 60.470C.

Ms. Bugge explained that there was a substantial change made in the proposed plan from the time it was reviewed by the Planning Commission on June 26 and August 21, 2003. She said that the previous PUD contained multiple two, three and four-family dwelling units, where the current proposal contains 72 single-family dwellings, 23 two-family dwellings, and 6 three-family dwellings. She pointed out that the proposal was being submitted as a planned unit development to allow construction of one, two and three-family dwellings on private roads. She stated that PUD's require conceptual plan review and were a special exception use within the "R-2" Residence District. She said, once the conceptual review stage was completed, the applicant would need to file a request for a special exception use permit and site plan review within six months.

She encouraged the Commission to review the Statement of Purpose for Planned Unit Developments and consider whether the proposed plan satisfies the intended use. She said the applicant had recently received input from potential buyers, indicating that one and two-family dwellings were more desirable than three and four-family dwellings, and wanted the Planning Commission to consider the substitution of one and two-family buildings for many of the previously proposed three and four-unit buildings. She reported that the development would include use of the existing building on site for office development as well as a community building for the residents. She did note, however, that nonresidential uses, if approved, could not occur until 60% of the residential units were constructed.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that the proposed density of the development at 136 units was less than 158 units permitted. She said that Phases One and Two would contain 64 and 72 units and 46 and 55 buildings, respectively. She did note that the use and density of the development was contingent upon sewer being extended to serve the property. She said that sewer was expected in that area next summer, and that the water was currently close enough to be extended to serve the proposed development.

Ms. Bugge raised a concern regarding the proposed phasing for the development. She said there may be a need to reconfigure the property with regard to Phase Two of the development to insure accessibility from "H" Avenue and not create a landlocked parcel.

Ms. Bugge also pointed out that, unless a deviation was requested, there were separation requirements which some of the buildings did not currently meet. She explained that there had to be a minimum of 20 feet from any adjacent building in order to comply with the Ordinance. She also pointed out that two of the buildings on the north side of the development encroached into the 70-foot setback along "H" Avenue.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the dedicated open space for the Planning Commission members, which would consist of a wooded area in the southwest corner of the property, as well as greenspace within and along the leading edges of the development. She explained that landscaping as proposed would consist of a 20-foot greenspace around the perimeter, incorporating trees along the boundaries of the property. She said that the Planning Commission could consider additional landscaping as part of the special exception use criteria. She noted that the Condominium Association will own the exterior of the buildings and all the property, making all of the land available to the condominium owners.

Ms. Bugge said there was a foot path located along West Port Drive, looping through the preserved woodlot. She said that a bike path along "H" Avenue would be required pursuant to the Township Ordinance.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions of the Township Planner. Ms. Stefforia inquired as to whether or not an easement through Phase 1 of the development will be sufficient to provide access to Phase Two of the development. Ms. Bugge expressed concern about such a proposal, especially if Phase Two of the condominium development were never put in place, and someone wanted to develop a plat but access to a public road was not available. She said that perhaps it could be done, but it would open up the gated community in a manner not currently proposed.

Mr. Schley asked why they would have to have access to Phase Two of the property if it was one parcel. Ms. Bugge said she was concerned if the second phase of the project did not develop. Mr. Schley said it would still be part of the development. However, Ms. Bugge pointed out that whether or not Phase Two was actually part of the development would depend on the Master Deed. She said, under the Township Ordinance, parcels had to remain accessible. Attorney Porter explained, if the property were listed as an expandable portion of the condominium development, it was possible that it would not be transferred to the Condominium Association, and therefore, would be held in the developer's name, even after the rest of the property was transferred to the Condominium Association, thereby resulting in a landlocked parcel. Ms. Stefforia said she thought access or easement language could be provided for in the condominium documents to address that concern. Attorney Porter concurred.

Mr. Schley asked for confirmation that the commercial office use of the existing home on site would be prohibited until 60% of the entire project were developed. Ms. Stefforia and Ms. Bugge indicated that was a requirement of the Ordinance.

Mr. Schley asked if all of the roads would be private. He also asked whether or not there would be sidewalks within the development. Ms. Bugge said that the roads would be private and that there was one pedestrian path proposed along West Port Drive. Mr. Schley expressed concern about not having more pedestrian pathways within the development and being consistent with how other developers were treated. Ms. Everett said she thought this was different than the Seelye development because it was a closed community. Mr. Schley again noted that he thought sidewalks or walkways should still be considered.

The Chairperson asked what the Master Land Use Plan showed for the area. Ms. Bugge said this project was in the North Drake area which was designed to allow density that encouraged owner-occupied structures.

The Chairperson then opened the meeting up for input from the developer. Mr. Dan Lewis, engineer for the project, introduced himself to the Commission. He explained that he and the developer would work at meeting the 20-foot separation between the various buildings. He also informed the Planning Commission that the developer will be working with John Post to do a complete landscape plan of the development. He said that the developer would work to provide the requested access to Phase Two of the development, either through a separate easement or through provisions in the condominium documents.

Ms. Stefforia explained to Mr. Lewis that the applicant could receive relief from the 20-foot setback provisions. Mr. Lewis said he understood that, but hoped to work to minimize the number of requested deviations. Mr. Schley explained that failure to meet the 20-foot separation requirement could affect fire ratings. Mr. Lewis said that he understood, and that was why they would try to minimize those situations, if at all possible. Mr. Schley asked if they would also be revising their plans to meet the setbacks from "H" Avenue. Mr. Lewis said that they would. Ms. Bugge informed the Planning Commission that the Vissers would like to remove all three-unit buildings and replace them with one and two-unit buildings. Mr. Larson asked Mr. Lewis why they currently had three-unit buildings proposed in the development. Mr. Lewis said he thought it was because they had been there as part of the previous proposal.

Mr. Turcott asked what they would be doing with regard to separations if they excluded all three-unit buildings from the property. Mr. Lewis said it would depend upon how the units were laid out. Mr. Turcott informed the applicant and their engineer that he would be happy to consider development of single and two-family units within the proposed development.

Ms. Everett asked why people were preferring one and two-unit condominiums over the three and four-unit condominiums. She said she was surprised, given the rate of development within Quail Meadows. Mr. Lewis explained that, when they had developed their plan, most of the people who looked at the proposal gravitated toward the single-family units on the cul-de-sacs. Steve Visser said that people wanted privacy and seemed to prefer the single-family condos and not be wall-to-wall with other residences. He said during the Parade of Homes when they showed the plans to individuals at their other development, people seemed to gravitate toward the single and two-family units.

Steve Visser indicated that he was a bit taken back by the request for a bike trail along "H" Avenue. He said that there was a large depression on the north side of the property which he did not believe would allow for a sidewalk or bike path. He also expressed concern about building a sidewalk or bike path that basically was going nowhere.

Steve Visser told the Commission there would be no other builders at the site and that Visser Construction would be doing all of the work to maintain quality control within the development. He did state that they would provide access to Phase Two of the development, either through means of an easement or through changes to the Master Deed and Bylaws of the condominium development.

Ms. Bugge asked if the developer would be using the low spot on the north side of the property for water retention. Mr. Lewis said that they would, but that it would not drain to "H" Avenue. He said they would be developing a berm to separate their water retention area from the ditch and water runoff from the road right-of-way.

Ms. Stefforia asked Mr. Lewis if he had met with the Road Commission. Mr. Lewis said that he had not as they wanted to wait until they finalized their plans. Dan Visser explained to the Planning Commission that they were proposing to keep the ditch line that the County currently had, and not intermingle any of their water retention with runoff from the road right-of-way.

He said, if they had to provide an access easement across the northeast corner of the property, it could interfere with the buildings on the cul-de-sac. He said that they had proposed to develop the northeast corner of the property because that would be where they were going to be accessing sewer and water for the proposed development.

Mr. Larson asked the developers what their intent was in relationship to the open space and landscaping. Steve Visser said that most of the area would be a low grassy area, but would be filled in with trees and bushes as part of each homeowner's budget. He said they would be landscaping around each of the single and two-family units in order to provide a certain amount of privacy for all of the condominium units. Dan Visser explained that the water throughout the development was being broken up in order to disburse it to various areas and avoid the potential for any flooding to develop as a result of water runoff.

Mr. Larson asked about the walking path on the west side of the property and raised a concern as to how anyone on the east side of the property would access the path without walking through the street. Dan Visser said that they were currently planning on putting in a 26-foot wide street, well above the minimum requirements of the County, along with two foot of gutter on each side, providing for a 30-foot roadway. Mr. Larson asked if people would be walking in the street. Mr. Visser said in the West Port Trail condominium development everyone walks in the street. Mr. Larson said that the walking path they proposed would be very nice, but he would like to see such paths throughout the development and did not want to see people walking in the streets in order to access the walking path.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that the applicant was proposing a street larger than that which was required. She also noted that this was an entirely enclosed, self-contained development without any through traffic. She said that the Planning Commission could cut the roads back to 24 feet of pavement and require the installation of sidewalks, but thought this proposal was different because there was not going to be any through traffic.

Ms. Everett asked where the people in the development would be obtaining their mail. Mr. Visser said they had not yet decided. Mr. Schley said he thought the sidewalks were required; Ms. Stefforia said that was true, but that the Planning Commission had the right to grant a deviation for cul-de-sacs, unusual topography or other site considerations. She said this development was like one large cul-de-sac. Mr. Schley said he had difficulty with requiring other residential developments, such as plats, to install sidewalks and not applying the same standard in the present case. He said he thought the Planning Commission should be consistent in its determinations.

Ms. Bugge told the Planning Commission that when the text requiring sidewalks was adopted, it was meant to be applied both to plats and site condominiums. Ms. Everett pointed out that the Seelye development was not comparable to the development currently before the Planning Commission. She said that the Seelye development was located in an area with much more traffic and contiguous commercial development more likely to encourage pedestrian traffic off site. She also pointed out that the roads were public in the Seelye development and would provide for through traffic, unlike the condominium being proposed. She said she did not believe that there was an inconsistency in deviating from the standards where appropriate.

Mr. Larson said he would like to see the developer provide access to the walking trails for all units within the proposed development. Dan Visser said they could reduce the size of the streets and put in sidewalks with curb and gutter, but that he did not believe that people wanted to see sidewalks through the front yards of the properties because of the privacy issue.

Mr. Larson said that he felt there needed to be sidewalks, even if it was only to accommodate pedestrian traffic among the residents within the development, regardless of the lack of close proximity to any commercial development.

Ms. Stefforia asked why the developers were proposing such a wide street. Dan Visser said that individuals purchasing these properties liked the ability to allow parking on both sides of the street and still accommodate traffic.

Ms. Bugge asked what the walking trail would be made of. Mr. Visser said it would be concrete by the road and wood chips through the wooded area.

Ms. Stefforia said, if she lived in the development, she would not want to see walking paths at all. She noted that she walks in a retirement community near her home and finds it very peaceful and quiet. She said she walks in the street with a stroller and rarely encounters vehicular traffic.

Steve Visser said he did not want to see paths throughout the development, particularly behind the homes as it would detract from the privacy which homeowners would have in the development.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Commission that all of the property within the development will be community property. She said without property lines, all of the residents could access whatever portion of the property they chose.

Ms. Everett said she did not have a problem with not requiring sidewalks, but did take to heart Mr. Schley's comments regarding being consistent. However, she thought this development was different from other developments in which the Planning Commission had required sidewalk development.

Mr. Schley said he understood how members of the Planning Commission could look at this as one living environment or one residential property and make an exception for sidewalks. However, he said he believed there was going to be a lot of walking through this community, and he thought there needed to be adequate accommodations for pedestrian traffic, even it was only from one neighbor's house to another. Mr. Larson echoed the sentiments of Mr. Schley and said he believed there had to be some type of walkways within the proposed development. Ms. Everett asked if people did not want sidewalks but wanted a wider street in which to walk. Steve Visser said that is what most people preferred. He said, as a developer, he could put in a smaller street and sidewalks and save money, but he did not believe that is what people wanted to purchase in this type of development. Mr. Larson said he did not think it was appropriate for people to walk in the gutter and felt they had to have a dedicated area in which to walk.

At the conclusion of the discussion regarding the width of the road, the Chairperson said he thought the important issue was that the developer explain how he was going to accommodate pedestrian traffic within the proposed development. Mr. Turcott said that he thought the proposed street width was fine; his only question was whether or not allowing people to walk in the street met the spirit and intent of the Ordinance and met the pedestrian traffic needs of the residents. Ms. Bugge again pointed out that it was basically one large cul-de-sac. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that there was no connectivity between the development and other public streets, to which Mr. Larson responded that there were requirements in the Ordinance which had to be addressed in all developments. Both Dan and Steve Visser said they understood the position of the Planning Commission and that they would address pedestrian traffic in their final proposal.

Ms. Bugge asked what the Planning Commission wanted to see with regard to "H" Avenue. Mr. Turcott said that he understood the applicants' reluctance to establish a bike path or sidewalk along "H" Avenue because, at the present time, it would appear to not go anywhere. However, he noted that, when they adopted the Ordinance, they determined that they had to start somewhere. Mr. Schley pointed out that, when the City implemented its sidewalk requirement, many of the sidewalks literally went no where, but that the City was then able to fill in between developments and install sidewalks to create a system of pedestrian walkways throughout the City. Ms. Stefforia suggested that all the parties go out and look at the site before they return for further review. She also suggested that perhaps they put the sidewalk off until such time as Phase Two of the development commenced in order to see how development was taking place in the area and whether or not a requirement of the installation of the sidewalk was reasonable. The Commission concurred.

The Chairperson said, if there were no further comments, he would close discussion on this matter and wished the developers good luck.


The Chairperson stated that the next item on the Agenda for consideration was the review of the current provisions for home occupations. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report dated August 12, 2004, regarding home occupations to the Commissioners, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge said she believed that the intent was to allow something different to accommodate those individuals who wanted to work at home, and that the purpose of the Ordinance was to facilitate that endeavor. In addition, the purpose was to bring certain properties into compliance and to encourage entrepreneurship in the community. She said the use of an accessory building for home occupations would allow people to separate their workspace from their domestic accommodations.

The Chairperson said he would like assurance that the Building Code requirements were complied with for all structures. The Planning Department representatives said it was their understanding that the correct Code provisions were being enforced.

Ms. Bugge asked if it was the size of the structure that the Commission was concerned about. Mr. Schley said he was most concerned about the ability to create a separate office building within a residential area, not necessarily the size. Ms. Everett asked how that would be different than if the use were in the basement. Mr. Schley said that a basement use would be incidental to the residential use. He said, if you put an office building in a residential zone, it is no longer primarily a residential area, and that it was being harder to distinguish between what was allowed and what was not allowed in a residential zone. He said he thought it was better to have a strict requirement on home occupations to better protect the integrity of the residential homes.

Ms. Bugge suggested that the Planning Commission was protecting residential integrity by controlling the location of accessory buildings and preventing any exterior evidence of the home occupation within the accessory building. Mr. Larson said that, when the building is defined as having a different use than residential, it is no longer incidental to the residential use and character of the area. Mr. Schley said that, once a building is dedicated solely to office use, he did not see it as being incidental to the residential use of the property. He said perhaps a majority of the accessory building should remain dedicated to the residential use, and a smaller percentage dedicated to the home occupation. Ms. Bugge expressed concern that if that was done, there was no way to limit the use of the accessory building. She believed it was better to allow a separate accessory building, smaller in size, in order to better control the home occupation in an accessory building. Mr. Schley pointed out that such a proposal would be affected by the Building Code, including fire suppression or separation requirements which may be required and he said further complicates the matter. Ms. Everett suggested that perhaps it was not an area for the Planning Commission to concern itself. Ms. Stefforia noted, however, that the Code requirements did affect parking and lighting, which could have an impact upon the suitability of such a use in a residential zone.

Mr. Larson said that, if the building was not residential and was built to F2 building standards, he did not think that was "incidental" as defined by the Building Code, to the residential use of the property. He said again that, once an accessory building is required to be built to a different standard than residential, he did not think it was incidental to the residential use on the property. Mr. Schley suggested that perhaps a formula allowing differing percentages of the accessory building to be used for the home occupation would be appropriate. He said, under the Building Code, there is generally a 10% incidental rule which was is applied to commercial accessory uses and could be similarly applied to residential construction accessory uses, i.e., if the nonresidential portion of the building did not exceed 10% of the square foot area, it was would be considered incidental, and the building would not have to be upgraded from residential building standards.

Ms. Everett said that, when the Commission originally proposed this language, there was no concern expressed over the Building Code. Mr. Larson said he thought that was because they never envisioned offices being placed in accessory buildings. Ms. Everett said she felt that the office uses were more compatible within a residential zone than storing equipment in an accessory building. Mr. Larson said that might be true, but that storage in an accessory building is a typical use incidental to a residential use. He said many people have hobbies and store a lot of equipment that is not necessarily related to a business use.

Mr. Larson said he thought that they needed to determine whether or not there should be separate office buildings allowed within the residential zones as a home occupation. Mr. Turcott said he, too, was a bit unsettled about allowing stand-alone office buildings in residential areas and that he was uncomfortable with that development. Mr. Schley said it was his perspective that having home occupations in a separate building mutated single-family residential into something different, and he felt it was spot zoning. Attorney Porter noted that it was difficult for the Building Department to regulate the different building uses within the residential zone. He said perhaps if the percentage of the accessory building for home occupation were limited, it might be easier for the Building Department to treat it as a residential storage facility, rather than a commercial and industrial structure.

Ms. Everett said she was concerned that, if the Township became too restrictive, that the Township simply would drive these types of uses under ground. Mr. Schley suggested that the Township deal with that issue separately through proper enforcement.

Mr. Larson said he thought it was unfair to those individuals who built office buildings in commercial zoned areas and met the Building Codes, to then allow people to construct office buildings in a residential zone which did not have to meet the same standards. Ms. Bugge pointed out that the Ely situation, which had triggered this discussion, was unique in that the building was already in existence.

Ms. Stefforia said she thought the Commission could deal with it on a case-by-case basis and pointed to Section 60.100 and the fact that the Commission could, in its sole discretion, determine whether or not a special use should be permitted. Attorney Porter expressed some concern over the language in the Ordinance. He said he would prefer if the language in the Ordinance said "sole determination" that the special exception use permit criteria were met. He explained that, once the criteria for a special exception use are met, the permit had to be granted under State law, and that it is no longer discretionary at that point. However, he did note that it was up to the Planning Commission to determine factually whether the conditions were met.

Mr. Schley again proposed focusing on the use of the individual structure and placing some type of limitation on the percentage of the accessory structure which could be used for home occupation. He suggested that 25% use for home occupation purposes was reasonable. Ms. Bugge expressed concern about enforceability. Attorney Porter said he understood the issue of enforceability but thought using a sliding scale would make it easier on the Building Department to accommodate these uses as residential uses.

Ms. Bugge suggested limiting the square footage of the use to not more than 30% of the floor area of the dwelling. She said that, in so doing, they would shrink the accessory building and the area used for the accessory structure. Ms. Everett said that perhaps the Commission should consider Mr. Schley's comment to consider a limitation on the percentage of the building which could be used for the home occupation.

Ms. Stefforia asked if the Commission should wait and react to additional applications before making any decision to revise or amend the Ordinance. Mr. Larson said he thought the question was, whether or not the Commission should allow a separate building being used solely for the home occupation to be treated as an incidental use to the residence. Ms. Bugge asked how that was different from treating an accessory building use for storage as incidental to residential. Mr. Larson pointed out that people store items within their accessory buildings for residential purposes, but do not typically have offices as part of their residential dwelling.

Ms. Everett pointed out that offices have less impact than the storage of equipment within accessory buildings, to which Mr. Larson responded that there is a need to maintain fairness and uniformity. Ms. Everett said that she felt having three people in an office had less impact than the storage of equipment on site. Mr. Larson said that might be true, but to be fair and uniform, they had to apply the rules in the same manner to all of the various uses permitted under the Ordinance.

After a fairly lengthy discussion regarding home occupations, it was the consensus of the Commission to discontinue discussion of the same until a later meeting.

Review of Proposed Texas Charter Township Plan Amendment

The Chairperson said that the next item on the Agenda was the consideration of the review of the proposed Plan Amendment for Texas Charter Township. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented a report to the Planning Commission dated June 28, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein. She said it was interesting that Texas Charter Township was preparing their update to the Plan in the form of an Addendum, rather than a rewrite of the Land Use Plan. She also noted that the Plan contained unique language regarding compatibility within a particular zone. She said, under the proposed language, property could be rezoned to a less intensive use without constituting an amendment to the Plan. She asked that counsel review the proposed language for a possible amendment to the Oshtemo Charter Township Master Land Use Plan, since it would avoid some of the noticing provisions currently required under the Township's Plan.

Ms. Stefforia said that she did not believe there was a need to comment on the Plan Amendment since it was not affecting any of the land on the borders within Oshtemo Charter Township. Mr. Larson made a motion, seconded by Ms. Everett, to send a letter of "no comment" to the Texas Charter Township Planning Commission. The Chairperson called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Set Public Hearing on North Drake Road Focus Area - Master Plan Amendment

The Chairperson said that the next item was consideration of setting a public hearing on the North Drake Road Focus Area Master Plan Amendment. Ms. Everett made a motion to set the public hearing for October 14, 2004. The motion was seconded by Mr. Larson. The Chairperson called for a discussion, and hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Planning Commissioner Comments

The Chairperson said that the next item on the Agenda was consideration of the proposed text amendment which had been added to the Agenda regarding parking of motor vehicles for sale. Ms. Stefforia presented a rough draft of proposed language which would regulate the sale of vehicles, boats and snowmobiles on agricultural or residential property as proposed by the Ordinance Enforcement Officer. She said part of the concern was that people were using highly visible areas to sell vehicles which they did not own. She said that the proposed text would restrict the display to not more than two items at a time, which were owned by the property owner, and they would have to be displayed within the driveway of the property. Ms. Stefforia said she would present a more formal report and text proposal at a future meeting.


The Chairperson asked if there were further comments, and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at 9:50 p.m.


Acting Secretary
Minutes prepared:
August 17, 2004

Minutes approved:
, 2004