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August 22, 2002




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, August 22, 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
Kathleen Garland-Rike
James Turcott
Mike Ahrens

MEMBER ABSENT: Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Robert C. Engels, Township Attorney; and 14 other interested persons.


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


The Chairperson suggested adding under "Other Business" a discussion about the Planning Commission's work plan. Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meetings of July 30, 2002. and August 8, 2002. The July 30, 2002 minutes were corrected to show the starting time as 8:07 p.m. With that correction, Ms. Everett moved to approve the minutes of July 30, 2002, as revised, and the minutes of August 8, 2002, as submitted. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the application by Steve Taplin and Plainium L.L.C. for a special exception use and site plan review of a proposed 5,432 square foot office building to be located in the "R-3" Residence District. Review had been tabled from the meetings of April 25, 2002 and June 27, 2002, when a 6,000 square foot building had been proposed. The subject property is located at 5787 Stadium Drive and is Parcel No. 3905-25-324-010, and is Lot 1 of the Plainview Plat.

The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reported that this is the third time that this project has been considered with the building now being reduced to 5,432 square feet containing four suites.

Ms. Bugge stated that a revised site plan must be submitted due to the elimination and moving of a parking space and changes to the landscaping. She also noted that Township Staff was concerned with the location of the garbage enclosure as it is not useable for dumpsters, and she requested that the Planning Commission inquire of the applicant how refuse would be accommodated. She also stated that the use of each individual space by the tenants would need to be approved by the Township.

Following a review by Ms. Bugge of the Township Report, Mr. Rakowski inquired as to building lighting, and Ms. Bugge responded that lighting on the building would be on the north and west sides under the soffits and at the driveway.

The applicant, Steve Taplin, introduced the builder, Charles Hill, and asked that he comment on the project.

Mr. Hill acknowledged that the changes in the parking spaces would require a new site plan. He also stated that the owner was agreeable to working out the landscaping, and Ms. Bugge stated that a new landscaping plan must be submitted. Mr. Hill also said the Best Way Disposal was going to supply one Herby-Kerby for each office site, which meant that there would be four Herby-Kerbies within the garbage enclosure.

Mr. Hill said that only offices were planned for the site, and he recognized that each office suite occupant would require Township approval.

Mr. Rakowski asked when the offices would be open, and Mr. Hill responded that they would be open five days per week, although one of the offices might be leased to a realtor, which meant that there would be some Saturday hours.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Michael Tenenbaum, who lives at 2484 Plainview, complimented Mr. Taplin for his cooperation with the neighbors to reach agreement. Mr. Tenenbaum stated that he looked forward to the building as proposed.

Mr. Tenenbaum also inquired about the Ameritech easement which is a neighborhood concern because it is very unsightly. Ms. Bugge stated that the easement was on Mr. Taplin's property, and suggested that he contact Ameritech regarding property maintenance.

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

The Chairperson reviewed the special exception use requirements.

He asked if the proposed use was compatible with the other uses expressly permitted within the zoning district. Ms. Everett stated that she believed that it was, and Ms. Garland-Rike stated that the design minimized the building and made it a better fit.

The Chairperson asked if the proposed use would be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or to the general public health. Mr. Rakowski stated that, as long as the hours were 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and occasional Saturday hours in one of the offices, there would be a minimal effect on the people to the south and west of the project.

The Chairperson believed that the Commission was in agreement that the proposed use would promote the public health, safety, morals, and welfare of the community.

The Chairperson next considered if the proposed use encourages the use of the land in accordance with its character and adaptability. He believed that the change in size of the building was very helpful, and Mr. Turcott believed that it made a good transition on Stadium Drive.

There was lengthy discussion concerning the Township Staff landscaping proposal with Ms. Garland-Rike asking why there shouldn't be similar landscaping to the west on Plainview as was being proposed on the south. She believed that the plantings on Plainview should be consistent and would make the view from Stadium better. With more plantings on Plainview than on Stadium, the residential character would be preserved. Ms. Bugge stated that there was a 66-foot right-of-way before the plantings began on the west side of Plainview. Ms. Everett commented that there was not as large an area to plant on the west side. Ms. Garland-Rike stated that there was a 20-foot area, and something should be planted that would provide screening to the people who live across the street. The Chairperson asked what plantings were required by the Ordinance, and Ms. Bugge stated that plantings were required here because the request was a special exception use and were at the discretion of the Commission. The Chairperson stated that what was being proposed then was much more than would be required if this was for a special exception use. Ms. Garland-Rike responded that, if the neighborhood character had been maintained, nothing would be required because there would be a fit with the neighborhood. Ms. Bugge stated that, because 66 feet of road separates the uses, she felt that 20 feet was appropriate. She said that, if there were abutting property lines, she would have recommended the same as to the south.

Ms. Stefforia stated that she was concerned with landscaping to the east. Mr. Ahrens said that what was there would not be there very long as there would be office development. Ms. Garland-Rake stated that the Commission could not predict the future and must go with what is there now. Ms. Bugge stated that there was a boarded-up house that probably would not be used residentially again. Ms. Garland-Rike was concerned with the recommendation on the west as it did not appear to include the southwest corner. Ms. Bugge stated that there would be heavy planting in that corner. Mr. Hill stated that the 20 feet by the drive has an 8-foot berm. Mr. Tenenbaum stated that there were pine trees on the property across the street, and they screen that property from the proposed building. The Chairperson stated that he was very comfortable with the west side, but was unsure about the east side. Ms. Bugge stated that is where the boarded-up house is located, and that area would most likely redevelop as an office building. Mr. Henry Bonnes, being related to the owner of that property, stated that the owner was in a nursing home and would probably not return to the house, which would likely become an office. The Chairperson stated that he was O.K. with the east side with that representation. Ms. Stefforia stated that she wanted discussion concerning that area because she knew the owner was in a nursing home.

The Chairperson dealt with the site plan review. It was recognized that a revised site plan would have to be submitted because of the parking and landscaping changes. Ms. Garland-Rike inquired about the lighting and wanted to know why the lights were going to be turned off at 11 p.m., as she felt that was too late. Ms. Bugge stated that the soffit lighting would be turned off at 8 p.m., and it was only the driveway lights that would be on until 11 p.m. Ms. Garland-Rike wanted to know why those lights had to be on when no one was there. Ms. Bugge stated that they were only two 75-watt fixtures that were 42 inches high.

Mr. Turcott inquired about the Herby-Kerbies, and Mr. Hill stated that he believed that the garbage truck driver would roll the Herby-Kerbies out of the enclosure.

Mr. Rakowski stated that he thought it was unique that the developer and builder had worked so well with the neighbors to create a very well thought-out plan.

Mr. Ahrens moved to approve the special exception use based on the review and Commission discussion, which included the following:

(1) The proposed use is compatible with the other uses expressly permitted within the zoning district.

(2) The proposed use is not detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or to the general public.

(3) The proposed use promotes the public health, safety, morals, and welfare of the community.

(4) The proposed use encourages the use of the land in accordance with its character and adaptability.

Mr. Rakowski supported the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Ahrens moved to approve the site plan review with the following conditions:

(1) Access to the site shall be from Plainview Street pursuant to the Access Management Guidelines, and approval is subject to obtaining a driveway permit from the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

(2) Parking lot layout and spaces shall be in conformance with Section 68 and Section 23.404, and parking is prohibited in the required front and side setbacks and in greenspaces.

(3) All lighting shall comply with Section 78.700 and Section 23.404.

(4) Approval shall be subject to the submission of sign details for review and approval through the permit process, and signs must comply with Section 76.000.

(5) Residential-type trash receptacles must be used in the proposed enclosure.

(6) The landscaping plan must meet the criteria of Section 75.000, and the owner must work with Township Staff to modify the plan to provide a greater diversity of material. A revised plan must be submitted. Landscaping shall be installed or a performance guarantee provided in accordance with Section 82.950 prior to any occupancy of the building.

(7) Site development shall be in compliance with all provisions of the Township Zoning Ordinance.

(8) Approval is subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements of the Township Fire Department, pursuant to the adopted codes.

(9) Site engineering is subject to review and a finding by the Township Engineer that it is adequate.

(10) All utilities must be underground.

(11) Tenant use of each office space is subject to Township review and approval. Retail use of the space is prohibited.

(12) A Township Erosion Control Permit must be obtained.

(13) A revised site plan shall be submitted for review and approval.

Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


Next, the Commission conducted the site plan review of Doug and Laurie Walsh concerning a proposed two-unit residential site condominium development on eight acres located at 430 N. Van Kal. The subject property is situated in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District zoning classification and is Parcel No. 3905-18-355-010.

The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reported that this area is a mix of parcels with some being quite deep. The project as proposed conforms with all dimensional requirements including the depth-to-width ratio for sites. To the north is a plat in which most lots are smaller in size. The proposal is to create a residential site condominium development which will consist of two units on eight acres of land. Unit One will contain the owners' existing house, accessory building, well and septic system, and Unit Two will be vacant and is proposed for the future construction of a single-family home. The property is "grandfathered" and exceeds the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio.

Unit One will contain slightly more than one acre, and Unit Two will have 1.76 acres. The balance of the property, 5.1 acres will be a limited common element for Unit Two and will not be developed. Units One and Two meet all Township dimensional criteria for single-family sites without public sewer and water as they conform to area, width at building setback, and the depth-to-width ratio. Common elements are not subject to dimensional criteria.

Access for Unit One will continue to be the existing drive, and the Van Buren County Road Commission has approved a driveway permit for Unit Two. The existing well and septic will serve Unit One, and Kalamazoo County has issued well and septic permits for Unit Two. Electric, gas and telephone utilities are available along Van Kal Street.

A 10-foot private easement for public utilities is provided. Van Buren County does not require dedication of additional right-of-way for road purposes along Van Kal.

The applicant previously submitted a site plan for this site condominium where Unit One met all dimensional criteria, but had an area of only 28,543 square feet, and Unit Two contained all the remainder property and exceeded the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio. A variance request for the depth-to-width ratio was denied by the Zoning Board of Appeals on May 20, 2002. Under the revised proposal, all dimensional criteria are met by both sites.

Gary Hahn was present on behalf of the property owners. Mr. Hahn thanked Ms. Bugge for her comprehensive staff report. He stated that both units meet all dimensional criteria for single-family sites, and both are similar in size to nearby properties, which keeps the character of the surrounding area. The 5-acre common area will not be developed, which will maintain the rural character of the area.

The Chairperson asked for public comment.

Chad Hughson stated that he owns 35 acres adjoining the property and shares the north property line. He believes that the proposal is a loophole to avoid the variance which was originally sought and denied. Common sense tells him that common areas should be areas that are shared by both condominiums, not just one of the two.

Mr. Hughson commented that the proposed future standard would require 1 acres in a rural residential zone, and this proposal would not meet those requirements.

He stated that he will eventually grant a conservation easement for his property and that south of the property are many parcels that are 10 acres and more. He is concerned that others in the area will use this loophole to put site condominiums on their land.

In response to a question from the audience, the owner, Doug Walsh, stated that a single-story home has been proposed for the site. Ms. Stefforia stated that a duplex would be allowed.

Mr. Hahn stated that this is not a loophole and that everyone must work within the current law. Mr. Walsh stated that the common area would not be developed, and that at the most, he might put in a walking trail.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the By-laws could be reviewed, and Ms. Stefforia stated that they would be reviewed. Mr. Rakowski asked if there was any requirement that the Township be notified if there is a change, and Ms. Stefforia stated that it could be made a requirement, but wondered if anyone would remember with the passage of time. Mr. Ahrens stated that he felt that the proposal gave permanency to the parcel. Ms. Garland-Rike stated that you could not say that it is was permanent because something could happen to the adjoining parcels in the future that could lead to development. Ms. Everett stated that could happen anyway.

There being no further comment, the public comment was closed.

The Chairperson reviewed the site plan criteria. Mr. Rakowski inquired as to why Van Buren County issues Kalamazoo County permits, and Ms. Bugge replied that, rather than dividing the road at the center line, the counties alternate sections.

Mr. Turcott inquired if the review by the Township Attorney would include the restriction on common element development.

Mr. Rakowski moved that the site plan be approved, subject to the following conditions:

(1) A driveway permit must be obtained from the Van Buren County Road Commission, and the driveway must be constructed in accordance with their criteria.

(2) Well and septic permits must be obtained from the Kalamazoo County Human Services Department, and well and septic must be built in accordance with the County's criteria.

(3) The limited common element of Unit Two shall not be developed.

(4) Approval shall be subject to the Township Attorney reviewing the Master Deed and By-laws and finding them acceptable.

(5) The project shall comply with the provisions of any applicable state law.

(6) Individual placement of buildings must comply with Township requirements.

(7) Storm water shall be managed on each site.

(8) The Environmental Permits Checklist form shall be submitted, but there shall be no requirement for submission of the Hazardous Substance Reporting form.

Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. The Chairperson asked if there was any public comment. There being none, a vote was taken, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Chairperson requested ideas on how to speed up the meetings so all Agenda items could be covered, and offered the following suggestions:

(1) Create a task force of several Commission members which would work on an issue and bring a report back to the entire Commission.

(2) Spend more time utilizing Ordinances from other communities instead of writing new Ordinances from "scratch"and spending so much time on the re-writes of proposed drafts.

(3) Before coming to work sessions, have the Planners meet with the Township Attorney to determine if complex issues can be agreed upon in advance between the Township Attorney and Township Staff.

Ms. Garland-Rike liked the suggestion of having Township Attorney review in advance of the meetings. Both the Chairperson and Ms. Stefforia believed that the Planning Commission needed to get away from wordsmithing as too much time is being spent on wording.

Ms. Everett suggested that the Commission have advance contact with the Township Staff to resolve individual questions. Mr. Turcott stated that he thought the system worked fine 90% of the time, and that some discussion is good.

Mr. Rakowski said that he thought imposing time limits was appropriate.

The Chairperson thought that this discussion will help make everyone more aware of the problem. It was also suggested that there be Township Attorney review before an item gets too far along, and it is learned that it won't fly. Mr. Rakowski asked if the Township Attorney's received drafts in advance, and Ms. Bugge stated that the Township Attorney did not receive the first draft of the family definition project.

The Chairperson asked for Planning Commission comments.

Mr. Ahrens stated that he would like to have public comment kept to the appropriate time period. The Chairperson stated that he was concerned about cutting people off as he did not want people to feel that they had been shut out of the process.

Ms. Everett thought that there should be consistency, and the timer should be used. Mr. Turcott stated that he had used a timer in the classroom, and it had worked.

Ms. Garland-Rike shared a cut-out from the newspaper that depicted various types of buildings.

Mr. Turcott stated that Doug Rothwell from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation would be at KVCC at 2 p.m. on September 12, 2002, to give a presentation on New Energy Initiatives for Michigan.

Mr. Rakowski stated that he had observed a property on the west side of Plainview that was in bad repair. Ms. Stefforia indicated that she would have Mr. Paddock investigate.

Ms. Stefforia said that the Well Head Protection Team presentation has been moved to the October 12, 2002 meeting.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:32 p.m.




Stanley Rakowski, Secretary

Minutes prepared:

August 26, 2002

Minutes approved:

, 2002