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December 16, 2002




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, December 16, 2002, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Millard Loy, Chairperson
Duane McClung
Dave Bushouse
Grace Borgfjord
James Turcott


Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney; and nine other interested persons.


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

The Chairperson welcomed James Turcott as a new member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, being the liaison from the Planning Commission.


The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of November 18, 2002. Mr. Bushouse moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Board considered the application of Michael Bailey for WG-Kalamazoo, L.L.C. on behalf of Walgreens for two variances from the lighting provisions of Section 78.720 so as to allow perimeter illumination levels to exceed Ordinance limits along some portions of the property and to allow use of 400-watt flood lights where the Ordinance limit is 175-watts. The subject property is located in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification at 5020 West Main Street and is Parcel No. 3905-13-280-050.

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

It was noted that, prior to the purchase by the applicant, the subject parcel was part of the larger Montgomery Ward parcel within Maple Hill Mall. The new parcel would be accessed from the Mall's interior drives. The Board was reminded that the Planning Commission had granted special exception use and site plan approval to Walgreens on May 23, 2002. The Zoning Board of Appeals had granted a variance for a reduced building setback from West Main and a sign deviation on June 10, 2002.

The first variance sought by the applicant would allow illumination levels along the north and west perimeters to exceed the permitted 0.1 footcandles. The north and west perimeters abut the Mall's interior drives. The second variance sought a proposed 400-watt floodlight mounted at 15.25 feet on each of two light poles. Fixtures of 400 watts are permitted above 15 feet but the fixture must be a "down type", mounted horizontally, and angled perpendicular to the ground. The applicant was proposing that the fixtures be mounted vertically and aimed at internally-illuminated signs mounted on the south and east sides of the building. The applicant was proposing a louvered shield to be placed over the fixture lens so as to direct the light onto the building. The maximum building exterior illumination would be 14 footcandles which was less than the 20 footcandles permitted by the Ordinance.

Ms. Bugge analyzed the standards for a nonuse variance. As to whether conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, it was noted that the increased perimeter lighting would be adjacent to the private interior Mall drives and/or their easements. Ms. Bugge suggested that the applicant speak to the use of 400-watt floodlights to illuminate the building when the Ordinance would permit floodlights of 175 watts mounted in the proposed manner.

With regard to substantial justice, the Board was reminded that in 1999 a variance had been granted to the Marathon station at West Main Street and 5th Street to permit perimeter lighting along the right-of-way to exceed the footcandle limits. The decision was based in part on the depth of the right-of-way. Further, Maple Hill Chrysler had been granted a variance in 1997 for increased perimeter lighting due to its location in an existing commercial area and the fact that the site predated the Ordinance requirements.

The Zoning Board of Appeals was also reminded that it had granted a variance for use of 400-watt spot lights at the Kohl's site as part of the redevelopment of West Main Mall in 2001.

Ms. Bugge suggested that, with regard to unique physical circumstances, the Board consider if the redevelopment of the site within an existing mall might be considered a unique circumstance. It was noted that the need for a variance was self-created.

As to whether the spirit of the Ordinance would be observed and the public health, safety and welfare secured, again, it was noted that this was part of the redevelopment of an existing mall. It was suggested that the Zoning Board of Appeals consider whether the site in a long-established commercial area would differ from other commercial properties in the Township.

In response to questioning from Mr. Bushouse, Ms. Bugge indicated that there were other spotlights at buildings in the area, but she did not know their wattage.

Mike Bailey was present on behalf of the applicant. He felt that the variances were justified since the property did not abut residentially-zoned or used sites. In his opinion, safety issues required the perimeter lighting variance; he cited the issues of black ice, criminal activity, as well as slip and falls. He stated that the signage on the building could not be properly illuminated without the 400-watt fixtures. He felt that since the site was abutting an existing mall, there would be no negative impact.

Mr. Turcott asked about hours of operation, and Mr. Bailey stated that it was likely the store would close at 11 p.m. on weekends. Mr. Bailey stated that the applicant was placing a sidewalk on the west side of the property and that this sidewalk especially needed to be lighted because it would be a pedestrian pathway.

The Chairperson felt that, given safety issues, he would have no problem with the perimeter lighting variance. As to the floodlights directed at signage on the building, he asked whether the lighting would spill over the top of the building. Mr. Bailey stated that the lighting would be pinpointed on the "script signage" denoting "Walgreens".

Ms. Stefforia asked whether using 175-watt fixtures could achieve the goal. Mr. Bailey stated that the poles would be located too far away for a lesser wattage to provide effective illumination. He stated that four poles had already been added to the site to meet Walgreens' requirements and still adhere to the Township Ordinance.

Mr. Bushouse expressed concern about setting an undesirable precedent for other sites. He felt it would be a problem if this site "stood out" from all other sites in the area and that these other sites would then request additional lighting.

The Township Attorney agreed that the decision of the Board would likely set a precedent for the remaining parcels at the Maple Hill Mall site.

Mr. McClung felt that it was important for safety reasons that this site be "lighter".

The Chairperson expressed that he had no objection to the variance for the floodlight of the signage as long as the lighting did not go "over the top of the building".

Ms. Bugge pointed out that one aim of the 175-watt limit was to prevent illumination of the night sky. Therefore, the Board could consider whether the louver would prevent spill into the sky. The applicant stated that it would.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and none was offered. The public hearing was closed.

Ms. Stefforia asked whether the applicant could illuminate the signage by mounting lights on the building with a "gooseneck" type of fixture. The applicant stated that this type of illumination would interfere with the sign profile. Ms. Bugge stated that it would also be a problem because the light would be mounted too high.

Ms. Stefforia commented that the Planning Commission might wish to consider a text change so as to allow a higher wattage to illuminate the building since the wattage limitation seems to conflict with the Ordinance provision allowing for illumination at 20 footcandles. The Zoning Board of Appeals' members agreed that the Planning Commission should give this consideration.

Board members were comfortable with the proposal of the applicant as long as the floodlights were louvered and concentrated at the signage.

After further discussion, Mr. McClung moved to approve the variances as requested by the applicant, noting that:

(1) The resulting lighting would be in character with the area and would serve the spirit and intent of the Ordinance since the lighting would be at a "redeveloping" existing commercial site.

(2) The site was part of a larger commercial area east of U.S. 131.

(3) It was required that the lighting be directed toward the signage and not overspill the building.

(4) It was required that the lighting be louvered and directed at the building signage.

(5) The perimeter footcandle variance would only apply to the perimeters of the parcel which were interior to the Mall property.

Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Board considered the application of The Dinerstein Companies on behalf of Western Michigan Student Housing, L.L.C. for site plan review of a proposed 232-unit multi-family apartment development to be located on approximately 31 acres in the "R-4" Residence District zoning classification. The subject property is located on the west side of North Drake Road at Croyden Avenue and is Parcel No. 3905-13-230-012.

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

It was noted that the development would allow for 232-unit and 700 bedrooms for student apartment housing. The development would be located on approximately 31 acres of an existing 50-acre parcel. The balance of the property is zoned "C-1" and "R-3". The property has frontage on Drake Road and Croyden Avenue. The Access Management Plan and Master Land Use Plan of the Township call for extension of Croyden Avenue from its current terminus to Drake Road.

The Board was reminded that multi-family development, with a density of up to eight dwelling units per acre, is permitted on "R-4" acreage. Section 24.207 of the Ordinance, however, reduces the permitted density to six dwelling units per acre for the first 200 feet of the site that abuts a "higher" zoning. The proposed development was in compliance with this standard.

The applicant appeared before the Planning Commission in November seeking rezoning of the "C-1" and "R-3" portions of the site to the "R-4" Residence District. However, the Planning Commission recommended denial. The Township Board would be receiving the recommendation at one of its January, 2003 meetings.

The criteria of Section 24.207 was examined. Again, it was noted that the overall density of the project satisfied the Ordinance limits. With regard to parking, 590 spaces are required, and the site plan proposes 749 spaces or 3.2 spaces per unit. As a comparison, it was noted that the Jefferson Commons development provides 2.8 spaces per unit.

The development satisfied the requirement of a minimum of two access points.

The City of Kalamazoo was requesting a traffic impact study for the proposed new intersection of Croyden Avenue with Drake Road. The extension of Croyden Avenue was subject to the review and approval of both the Kalamazoo County Road Commission and the City of Kalamazoo since the City had jurisdiction over this segment of Drake Road.

It was noted that two sets of buildings on the site needed to be shifted slightly to comply with building separation requirements. There was a review of the land use and zoning in the area.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, it was noted that there were some parking problems at Jefferson Commons, but it was unclear whether these were problems related to removal of fire lane signage.

Dave Saneholtz was present on behalf of Dinerstein. He stated that the buildings at the site would be two and three stories. The buildings would be evenly disbursed on the site. There was a centralized recreation area and clubhouse. He described the amenities associated with the clubhouse. As to parking, there would be 80 carports included. He noted that the four buildings on the north side of the site could easily be separated to accommodate Ordinance standards. He informed the Board that the traffic impact study would be commenced at the end of the week.

The Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to the dumpster enclosures. The applicant indicated that they would comply with Ordinance standards.

Mr. Bushouse had a question with regard to the old-fashioned street lights which would be established at the site. These would be placed only at the front of the building. There would be sharp cut-off fixtures throughout the parking areas. Ms. Stefforia felt that the proposed lighting arrangement would comply with Ordinance requirements.

Ms. Borgfjord had questions concerning the buildings, and the applicant stated that the two-story buildings would include the town homes and the clubhouse.

The Chairperson asked for public comments, and Wayne Crippin had questions about the height of the buildings. It was noted that the two-story buildings would be approximately 31 feet high, and the three-story buildings would be approximately 37.7 feet high.

Mr. Crippin also had questions concerning the landscaping to be established on the north side of the site. Ms. Stefforia stated that the requirement would be one of the most intensive under the Ordinance provisions, i.e., the "F" landscaping standard. The first 35 feet from the north property line would be landscaped. The proposed lighting on the building would be sharp cut-off in nature, consisting of 100-watt wall packs. Also, each unit will have a "porch light".

Mr. Crippin expressed concern about the project, feeling that it was incompatible with the surrounding residential use. He felt that the Township Board and Planning Commission should review student housing to determine whether a specific district for such housing should be created. Further, he felt that the Township Board should consider increased policing in these areas. In his opinion, it was appropriate to place a special assessment district on student housing.

The public hearing was closed, and the Chairperson questioned the applicant with regard to whether there would be private security on site. Gary Fairchild, on behalf of the applicant, stated that security was a priority at the complex. A security officer would be living on site, and he would drive and walk the property. Further, at times coinciding with certain Western Michigan University athletic events, extra security might be located on site.

Mr. Bushouse stated that he welcomed development within the Township, but expressed concern about the proposed project, given the problems associated with other student housing in the area. He stated that he believes that the Township would need to take the developer at its word that on-site security would be provided to help with "police problems" generated at the site.

Mr. Bushouse moved to grant the site plan approval with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That it was recognized that no variances had been requested or granted to the project.

(2) That landscaping must be installed consistent with the approved landscaping plan prior to a certificate of occupancy being issued or a performance guarantee must be provided to the Township consistent with Section 82.950. Additional landscaping along the north line was encouraged.

(3) That a 40-foot minimum separation between buildings with more than four dwelling units must be accommodated consistent with Section 66.201. A revised plan reflecting compliance with this standard must be presented.

(4) That Croyden Avenue shall be extended as reflected on the approved site plan and in compliance with the requirements of the City of Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. The extension must be completed and accepted into the public street system before a certificate of occupancy may be issued for any portion of the development.

(5) That all site lighting must comply with the requirements of Section 78.700.

(6) That the dumpster enclosures must comply with Section 75.160.

(7) That the plan was subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department.

(8) That the plan was subject to the review and approval by the Township Engineer.

(9) That an earth-change permit from the Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner was required before any earth work began on the property.

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


The Board considered the 2003 calendar year meeting dates. It was agreed that the Board would meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month as set forth in the list of proposed dates which is incorporated herein by reference. The meeting time would be 3 p.m. Ms. Borgfjord moved to approve the meeting dates as submitted, and Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.


Millard Loy, Chairperson

Dave Bushouse

Duane McClung

Grace Borgfjord

James Turcott

Minutes Prepared:
December 19, 2002

Minutes Approved:
, 2002