December 16, 2003




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, December 16, 2003, 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


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


The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.


The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of November 25, 2003. Mr. McClung moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Board considered the application on behalf of Value City Furniture by Hanover Signs, Inc. for a deviation from the Sign provisions of the Zoning Ordinance so as to allow a sign package with the combined area and number of wall signs exceeding the Ordinance limitations. The subject property is located in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification at 5022 West Main Street, and is Parcel No. 3905-13-280-051. The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Zoning Board of Appeals that the former Wards' property at Maple Hill Mall was being renovated. The west half houses Hobby Lobby and the east half will be the site of Value City Furniture. The applicant is requesting a sign deviation to allow two wall signs on the West Main facade of the space leased by Value City Furniture, with a combined wall sign area of 219 square feet. The proposal contained one sign describing "American Signature Gallery" and another "Value City Furniture". The Ordinance would permit one wall sign on the front facade not to exceed 157 square feet in area. However, the tenant would be allowed a second sign on the Drake Road facade. This sign could be placed on the same wall, i.e., the front facade as long as the area was not exceeded for that wall. Ms. Bugge described how the area was calculated and indicated that the applicant was seeking an alternative method of calculating sign area. Calculated as three signs, the signage would comply with area limitations. However, in that event, it would exceed the number of signs allowed at the site. If considered two signs, the square footage was exceeded for the wall. Ms. Bugge reminded the Zoning Board of Appeals that a freestanding sign is located at West Main which will advertise Hobby Lobby and Value City Furniture.

Ms. Bugge described other area signage. The criteria for a deviation was examined. In considering whether granting the requested deviation would be materially detrimental to property owners in the vicinity, Ms. Bugge urged that the Zoning Board of Appeals consider the perceived unfairness in allowing deviation since other tenants in the Maple Hill Mall area comply with Ordinance provisions. It was noted that Hobby Lobby was denied a deviation for area and number of signs on September 9, 2003. As to whether a hardship would be created by the literal interpretation of the section due to conditions unique to the building site which do not apply generally to other properties in the area, Ms. Bugge could see no unique hardships which prevented compliance.

In the present case, the combined square footage of the signs exceeds the amount allowed by the Ordinance as proposed by the applicant. Other Mall tenants were able to comply with Ordinance limitations. She stressed that the Value City Furniture tenant had the option of placing one of the desired signs on the Drake Road side of the building and being in conformance with Ordinance standards.

It was noted that Walgreens had been granted a deviation to exceed the number of wall signs on June 10, 2003. However, this deviation was granted due to unique architectural features of the building, i.e., pilasters, which made in impractical to combine the sign message onto one wall face.

In considering whether granting a deviation would be contrary to the general purposes of the section or set an adverse precedent, it was noted that the Ordinance was completely rewritten in 2000 and had been amended regarding tenant wall signage recently. The changes added flexibility with respect to freestanding signage, but no longer allowed unlimited wall signs. However, recent amendments had allowed a tenant an additional wall sign not to exceed two. Therefore, it was felt that granting a deviation from provisions so recently enacted would set an adverse precedent.

Bob Perrin was present on behalf of the applicant. He stated that the applicant feels that the method of calculating the sign square footage would cause a hardship in this situation because of the unique logo of Value City which oversized the "V".

There was a discussion of other ways of calculating the square footage of wall signage, and it was agreed by Board members that there should not be gerrymandering or tortured configurations so as to artificially reduce the size of the signage in question. The applicant stated that they were willing to eliminate the "American Signature Gallery" sign. It was noted that this would still leave approximately 183.5 square feet. Ms. Borgfjord stated that she felt the Township's method of squaring the area of the lettering so as to calculate sign square footage was the most consistent. There was discussion of the possibility of reducing the size of the channel letters being used by Value City. There was also discussion of the possible reconfiguration so that the "V" was calculated as one sign, and the remainder of the Value City Furniture lettering would be calculated as one sign.

Mr. Bushouse commented that, in viewing the building, if the lettering were on a freestanding sign, the "background" would be counted as part of the sign area. Therefore, he felt it would be inconsistent to attempt to gerrymander so as only to calculate the area of the letters themselves. He found no reason or justification for deviation with regard to this application.

No public comment was offered, and the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson expressed that he felt the Ordinance standards should be maintained. Other applicants had been refused deviation, and he believed that the applicant in question could comply with Ordinance standards. Moreover, the applicant had freestanding signage at West Main, and therefore, had adequate identification. Mr. McClung agreed, seeing no basis for deviation. Mr. Bushouse also felt that compliance could be accomplished by the applicant. Mr. Turcott felt that the same criteria as applied to Hobby Lobby and the refusal of their deviation should be applied to Value City Furniture.

Based upon the analysis of the deviation criteria and discussion of the Board, Mr. McClung moved to deny the deviation, finding that it did not meet the necessary criteria. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Board next considered the application of Kalamazoo Wesleyan Church for a site plan review and approval of a proposed 42,689 square foot Christian Life Center to be built at 4325 South 11th Street. The property is located in the "R-2" Residence District zoning classification and is Parcel No. 3905-36-405-031. The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the subject property is 18 acres located on the east side of South 11th Street, north of N Avenue and adjacent to the Rose Arbor subdivision. The applicant was seeking site plan review of the first phase of a new campus for the Kalamazoo Wesleyan Church. Future phases would consist of a sanctuary and chapel once the existing facility at 1204 White Road was sold. The applicant had met with area residents, and that meeting had resulted in some modifications to the proposed site plan. Specifically, there would be one driveway to 11th Street, and none to Sweet Briar Drive. The Kalamazoo County Road Commission and Township Fire Department had approved the one driveway proposal. Further, the applicant would be delaying the installation of some parking.

There was discussion of the proposed landscaping, and Ms. Bugge indicated that "C" greenspace would be required along property lines. The applicant was requesting a deviation to allow the inclusion of evergreen trees to satisfy a portion of the canopy tree requirement along the south side. The Staff concurred with this request, provided that the number of required trees and other materials not be reduced. Further, the applicant was proposing the use of existing trees on the north and east sides.

Mr. Bushouse had a question regarding the house at the southwest corner of the site, and it was noted that the applicant was seeking to acquire this property. Landscaping would be established along the perimeter of that property if not acquired prior to occupancy of the Church building.

Roger Lamer was present on behalf of the applicant. He stated that the center of the building would be a multi-purpose room used for services as well as other uses. There would be an educational wing for education during Sunday services, and an area for office staff, as well as a sanctuary and chapel in subsequent phases.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, the applicant indicated that sanitary sewer would be extended to the project off Sweet Briar with phase one, and that public water would be extended to the north property line in subsequent phases. Mr. Turcott questioned whether the applicant was proposing to have daycare on the site, and it was indicated that there would be no daycare activities. The wedding and other banquet activities would be for church congregation members only.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, the applicant stated that the ballfield proposed would not be lighted. Further, the lighting at the site would meet Ordinance limitations.

Board members had questions regarding how many members were in the congregation of the church, and it was noted that there are 240 members with average attendance being 300.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Jim Hastings, a resident of Fountain Square Drive had questions regarding daycare under the Zoning Ordinance. As to signage, Mr. Hastings had a question whether the Church could establish a sign at the site, and Ms. Bugge stated that the sign could be either ground-mounted or a wall sign and 30 square feet in area.

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

Mr. Turcott moved to approve the site plan with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That any driveway and road improvements are subject to the approval and permitting by the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

(2) That all parking at the site must conform to Section 68.000 of the Zoning Ordinance. A revised site plan must be submitted detailing proposed changes to access and parking for Staff review and approval.

(3) That all site lighting must comply with Section 78.700 of the Zoning Ordinance. A revised lighting plan and light fixture details for all outside lighting must be submitted to Township Staff for review and approval.

(4) That the details of the doors for the dumpster enclosure must be provided to Staff for review and approval.

(5) That any sign established at the site must be approval through the sign permitting process of the Ordinance.

(6) That landscaping as required by the Ordinance must be established on site and along all property perimeters. A deviation to permit the use of evergreen trees along the south side of the property along with other plant materials was granted. Existing trees along the north and east may be retained to satisfy Ordinance criteria and must be protected during construction to insure their future viability. A revised detailed landscaping plan meeting all Ordinance criteria must be submitted to Township Staff for review and approval. All landscaping must be installed or a performance guarantee provided in accordance with the Zoning Ordinance prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.

(7) That site plan approval is subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements of the Township Fire Department pursuant to adopted codes.

(8) That the site plan must be approved by the Township Engineer.

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


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:00 p.m.


Millard Loy, Chairperson

Grace Borgfjord

Dave Bushouse

Duane McClung

James Turcott
Minutes Prepared:
December 22, 2003

Minutes Approved:
, 2004