December 14, 2004



A regular meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, December 14, 2004, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Millard Loy, Chairperson Dave Bushouse Grace Borgfjord Duane McClung James Turcott MEMBERS ABSENT: None

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


The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.


The Chairperson indicated the next item on the Agenda was the approval of the minutes of November 16, 2004. Mr. Turcott made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted, and the motion was seconded by Mr. McClung. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


The Chairperson indicated the next item on the Agenda was consideration of the request for a deviation for a freestanding sign submitted by Metro Toyota. He said the applicant was requesting a deviation from the provision of Section 76.170B to allow two freestanding signs where one exceeds the sign area and support area permitted, and the other exceeds the height and sign area permitted. The subject property is located at 5850 Stadium Drive, Parcel No. 3905-25-180-015.

The Chairperson asked for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Board dated December 16, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that the Metro Toyota property is located on the north side of Stadium Drive to the east of Quail Run Drive. She said it was zoned "C" Local Business District, as were the properties to the north, east and west. She noted, however, that the Quail Run Condominium residential development abutted the property to the northwest and is zoned "R-4" Residence District. She said located across the street were the Chestnut Hills apartments and the Hopewoods complex for seniors. She said that both of those are zoned "R-4". She also noted that there was a single-family residential development along Plainview Street zoned "R-2", as well as two office uses across the street located within the "R-3" Residence District.

Ms. Bugge explained to the Board that the site plan for the subject property was initially approved in 1987 and allowed a 30-foot, 92 square foot freestanding sign, which was currently legally nonconforming. She said the applicant was proposing to establish two signs, a ground-mounted monument sign for the Toyota and Scion lines and a pole sign for the Jaguar dealership. She provided sketches of the proposed signs to the Board.

She said that a permitted pole sign, under the Ordinance, would allow a sign height of 20 feet, an area up to 60 square feet and 20 square feet of support area. She said that the proposed Jaguar sign that the applicant was requesting was 20 feet in height, had 76.5 square feet of sign area and 37 square feet of support area.

With regard to the ground sign, Ms. Bugge said that permitted signs were allowed to be 10 feet in height, 80 square feet in sign area and 24 square feet of support area. She said the proposed ground sign for Toyota and Scion was 19.3 feet tall, had a sign area of 103 square feet and a support area of 51 square feet.

Ms. Bugge then proceeded to review with the Board other signs in the area, many of which were grandfathered, and therefore, nonconforming. Ms. Bugge then took the Board through the standards of approval for a sign deviation as provided for in Section 76.500 of the Zoning Ordinance.

The Chairperson asked the Board members if they had any questions of Ms. Bugge.

Mr. Turcott asked if the existing sign that was on site would be removed. Ms. Bugge indicated that it would. Mr. Turcott then asked where they were proposing to locate the signs. Mr. DeNooyer said that they were proposing to locate both of the signs in the green area along Stadium Drive, east of the entrance to the site.

Ms. Borgfjord asked if they were allowed two signs because they had a corner lot. Ms. Bugge indicated that they were allowed two signs because they were a car dealership and would be allowed a third sign because they were a corner lot.

Mr. Bushouse told the Board members that, when he looked at the Walgreens pharmacy sign at the entrance of the building, he only saw one figure, but really there were four paneled windows that made up the overall sign. He said that the present case is not dissimilar in that what the applicant is blocking off is significantly larger than what really makes up the actual message portion of the sign. At this point, a discussion ensued between the Planning Department staff and the Board members regarding the actual signage area and the support area of each of the respective signs. The discussion differentiated between the significant difference between the pole sign and the ground sign, and the fact that the ground sign was much more obstructing because it was so large and could not be seen through.

The Chairperson asked if there were any additional questions. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Jeff DeNooyer introduced himself and Tim Wight of RWL Sign Company to the Board. Mr. DeNooyer referred the Zoning Board of Appeals to his letter, and he said he wanted to emphasize a few key points. First, he said that they were taking on a new franchise, the Scion franchise. Second, he said that Toyota was revamping all of its signage as part of its Image U.S.A. program. He said it was necessary for them to have signage for both Toyota and Scion. Third, he asked the Board to recognize the fact that Jaguar would not share signage space with Toyota or Scion, and therefore, they had to have a separate sign for that car line. He also noted that Toyota was only designing one type of sign, and they simply had no choice as to the style of the sign.

The Chairperson said he thought it was quite strange that Toyota would design their signs and not have a sufficient number of different signs to comply with various local ordinances. He said this was a world-wide corporation, and he could not believe that they could dictate to all of the communities in the United States and in the world as to the size and type of sign they would have to accept.

Mr. DeNooyer said that, while all of Toyota's signs were of the same style, there were smaller signs available. However, he did not believe that a smaller sign would work at the present location, given the setback requirements and the amount of frontage they had on Stadium Drive.

Mr. Turcott asked if the sign was going to be in the green space in front of the pavement. Mr. DeNooyer said that it was, but that they would be pushing snow forward into that area. Mr. Turcott said that might be true, but that they would not be pushing snow in front of it along the road right-of-way.

The Chairperson asked what the setback was for the sign. Ms. Bugge said it was ten feet from the right-of-way line.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other questions of the applicant. Hearing none, he closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Board deliberations. The Chairperson began by asking that the Board consider the area they were in, including the residential developments nearby. He said he thought some compromise might be appropriate, but he said he would have a hard time approving a 20-foot tall solid sign. The Chairperson said he thought such a sign would be massive.

Mr. Bushouse said the existing sign is 30 feet in height. However, it was a pole sign where one could look through the supporting poles. He said that, while this sign was one-third less in height, it covered substantially more area. However, he said that the reduction in height was bringing the sign more into compliance, and Stadium Drive was, in fact, a five-lane highway. He said he thought it looked like they were trying to work with the Planning Department in order to comply the best they could.

Ms. Bugge said that was true with regard to the Jaguar sign. She said it might be a reasonable swap between the existing sign and the Jaguar sign. However, she said, with regard to the monument sign, because of its solid character, she agreed with the Chairperson that the sign would be massive.

Mr. McClung said he thought that the Jaguar sign would be quite close to being in conformance, and that he had no problem with that sign.

Ms. Borgfjord asked what would keep the applicants from changing out the existing sign face. Mr. DeNooyer said that Toyota no longer makes that type of sign, and they now need a deviation to put up the ground sign.

Mr. Turcott asked how they measured the height of a ground sign. Ms. Bugge said from the existing grade, provided that it was not artificially raised to enhance the height of the sign.

Ms. Stefforia said she thought that an 8'x20' sign was much too large, and if the Board were inclined to grant any type of deviation, it should be significantly reduced in height.

The Chairperson said that perhaps they could reduce the sign to 15 feet in height and 100 square feet in overall size. Mr. DeNooyer pointed to some of the other signs allowed in the area, particularly the VW/Audi sign at Maple Hill Mall. Ms. Bugge said that sign was only 14 feet high and approximately 6 feet wide, and it was not comparable to what the applicant was proposing. The Chairperson said he would like to hear comments from the Board members.

Mr. Turcott said that he certainly had concerns regarding the proposed sign and its visibility from the street. He said he thought that it needed to be smaller. Mr. McClung said that, while there are larger signs in the area, most of those signs are protected by the grandfather clause. Ms. Borgfjord said she had difficulty accepting such a large sign. She said she thought that the signs at Maple Hill Auto were so large and cluttered that it made them very difficult to read, and she thought that was actually why the Township had adopted the new sign regulations to avoid such visual clutter.

A brief discussion ensued between Ms. Borgfjord and Mr. DeNooyer and Mr. Wight regarding the portion of the Toyota sign to be illuminated. It was clarified by Mr. Wight that only the logo and written portions of the sign would actually be illuminated.

Mr. Bushouse said he continues to look at signs in the various communities that he travels through, and he said he thought that the Township had taken a reasonable approach in trying to restrict the overall size of signage in the community. He said, in spite of the setback and the amount of frontage that the applicant has, he thought there needed to some reduction in the overall height of the ground sign. He said that the Township has made a concerted effort in reducing overall signage, and he thought the Zoning Board of Appeals should stay as close to the permitted signage as possible.

The Chairperson asked for guidance from the Board on possible height. Ms. Bugge pointed out to the Board that the applicant did have a 12-foot sign available to it through the Toyota franchise. Ms. Bugge said that the Board could consider a lesser deviation than the one requested to permit the 12-foot high ground sign.

The Chairperson said that he would entertain a motion. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the height of the ground sign for the Toyota and Scion franchises not to exceed 12 feet, with a width of 6 feet, and to approve the Jaguar sign as submitted. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion, and the Chairperson asked if there was further discussion. Hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

The Planning Department distributed proposed 2005 meeting dates for the Zoning Board of Appeals. Ms. Borgfjord made a motion to approve the meeting dates as submitted. The motion was seconded by Mr. McClung. The Chairperson called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


The meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:50 p.m.


Millard Loy, Chairperson

Grace Borgfjord

Duane McClung

James Turcott

Minutes Prepared:
December 17, 2004

Minutes Approved:
, 2004