December 16, 2004

Revised Pursuant to Planning Commission - January 13, 2005






A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, December 16, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott, Chairman
Deborah L. Everett
Lee Larson
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Mike Ahrens
Fred Gould


Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately 25 other interested persons.


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


The Chairman indicated that the first item of business was approval of the Agenda. Ms. Everett made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted. Mr Turcott Larson seconded the motion, and the Chairman called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


The Chairman said that the next item for consideration was approval of the minutes of November 18, 2004. Ms. Garland-Rike noted that on page 20, in the seventh paragraph from the top, the word "residents" should be "residences" and should read as follows: "Mr. Turcott said he thought the proposal would dwarf any residences in the area." Mr. Larson then made a motion to approve the minutes as corrected. The motion was seconded by Ms. Garland-Rike. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


The Chairman said that the next item on the Agenda was the review of the Villas of Stonehenge, a planned unit development. He said the Planning Commission was being asked to review the conceptual plan for a proposed 90-unit residential condominium project on South 9th Street, proposed to be developed under the planned unit development provisions. He said the subject property was located on the west side of 9th Street, between Stadium Drive and Quail Run Drive, Parcel Nos. 3905-26-330-014 and 3905-26-330-015. The Chairman called for a report from the Planning Department.

Ms. Stefforia presented her report to the Planning Commission dated December 16, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the property consisted of two parcels zoned "R-2", containing approximately 22 acres. She said the developer was proposing to utilize the planned unit development (PUD) criteria to allow construction of two-family and four-family dwellings on a private road system. Additionally, she said that a PUD would have to go through a special exception use hearing subsequent to the conceptual review.

Ms. Stefforia said that the density of the development was based on the 10,560 square foot per unit minimum lot area permitted for single-family residences served by both public water and sewer. She said given that, the total number of dwellings units permitted would be 90, and the applicant was proposing 90 dwelling units. She said that the project would not be built in phases but would be built as a single development contingent upon sewer and water being brought to the site.

Ms. Stefforia then reviewed the proposed single-story building structures with the Commission, as well as the proposed club house. In addition, she reviewed the 20-foot setbacks proposed along the north, south and west boundaries of the property, as well as a 50-foot buffer strip along the east property line. Ms. Stefforia then reviewed the open space and storm water retention areas proposed within the development.

Ms. Stefforia said that, while they had not received a specific landscape plan, the applicant would have to submit one as part of the site plan review process. She also noted, as part of the development, that the Villas of Stonehenge was proposing sidewalks within the development.

Ms. Stefforia then took the Commission through Section 60.430 of the Ordinance dealing with planned unit developments.

The Chairman asked to hear from the developer. Mr. Ken Watts introduced himself to the Planning Commission and those in attendance. Mr. Watts then proceeded to make a video presentation to those in attendance, along with a handout of the highlights which were as follows:


Listed below are points of interest from the zoning video. You may want to refer to these during your zoning presentations.

P 75 million baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 - they are now the core of our communities

P As residents who have built their communities age, every responsible community looks for ways to provide them with the ability to stay within the community they have given so much to.

P The models range in size from twelve-hundred fifty square feet to over eighteen-hundred square feet

P Each floor plan is highlighted with either a garden patio or finished veranda

P Seniors remain the primary market because their numbers are skyrocketing. In the year 2000 there were 34.7 million seniors in the United States. By 2025 there will be 62 million.

P Seniors give a great deal to the community but require very little in return. Epmark's national data base reveals that less than 2% of their condominiums have school-age children residing in

P Epmark's studies show our homes have only half the number of occupants single-family homes have. Meaning equal revenue for the city with half the impact.

P Epmark communities create substantially less strain on municipal facilities and services. Epmark streets are privately built and privately maintained. The condominium association contracts out Snow and trash removal by the Epmark developer, and subsequently the condominium association; the municipality pays nothing for these services.

P Epmark communities are low impact with regard to traffic volume. Residents typically drive during off peak hours and generate about 48% as much traffic as residents of traditional neighborhoods.

P Currently there are more than 52 quality builders on the Epmark franchisee roster, and more than 150 Epmark condominium communities in over 20 states.

At the conclusion of the video presentation, Mr. Watts told the Planning Commission that the population of persons in Kalamazoo County between the ages of 55 and 64 would increase nearly 22% between 2004 and 2009. He said he thought it was important to plan in advance for this housing demographic need. He said that this type of development had a low impact on the roads, schools and other municipal services, while at the same time returning monies to the schools and improving the local economy.

Mr. Watts emphasized Epmark's strong emphasis on landscaping of these types of developments as part of their franchise requirements. He told the Commission and those in attendance that along the east border of the property, they were proposing four times the green space required, and that they would be presenting a detailed landscape plan including berming and plantings of trees and grasses.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions of the developer. Ms. Garland-Rike asked whether or not the traffic would require a light at the proposed intersection with 9th Street. Ms. Stefforia said that it would likely not warrant a light, but it was likely that the Road Commission would require a deceleration lane, as well as a left-turn lane or a bypass lane, at the entrance of the proposed development.

Ms. Stefforia noted for the Commission and those in attendance that Kalamazoo County Road Commission was planning to widen 9th Street in the future. Ms. Everett asked how many lanes the road would be widened to. Ms. Stefforia said she believed it would be a five-lane road.

Mr. Larson asked why there was only one access drive. Mr. Watts said he thought their engineer could answer that question. Mr. Schwartz with Prein & Newhof said they only had one 66-foot wide area for an entrance drive. He said the other access point on the south portion of the property was only 40 feet wide and would not meet either the Township Ordinance requirements or the Road Commission requirements for an access drive. He said the southern access point would likely be used for bringing utilities to the site, but was not large enough to serve as an entrance and exit to the site.

Mr. Larson asked how much of the natural topography would be disturbed in preparing the site for construction. Mr. Schwartz said that there was a swale to the northwest of the property and that they would be balancing this site in order to prepare it for construction and for adequate water run-off and storm water retention. Mr. Larson asked if they were going to level the site. Mr. Schwartz again said that he thought it would be more along the lines of balancing the site. He said that they wanted to do this in order to avoid bringing soil to, or removing soil from, the site as much as possible. He said he thought this would minimize the disturbance in the area.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the developer had developed similar PUD's. Mr. Watts said that, while his company had not, the franchisee had developed approximately 100 to 150 of these types of development throughout the United States, which were extremely well received in their communities. He said they would be following the strict guidelines laid down by the franchisor, which would require that they meet very high standards.

Mr. Turcott asked about the width of the private drives and whether or not there would be adequate access and parking at the condominium units. Mr. Watts said that he had spoken to the corporate office about that matter, and that the drives were sufficient for two cars to pass each other. He said there was sufficient room for one car to enter and one car to exit, as well as adequate parking in and around the garage areas. He said the franchisee had told him that they have had no problems at their other developments with parking. He said that developments like this generally have a lower traffic count than other residential developments.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the franchise had required the sidewalks. Mr. Watts said that they did not require sidewalks but that he knew that sidewalks were of particular interest to the Oshtemo community, and he thought it was appropriate for this type of development.

Mr. Turcott asked who would be constructing the condominium units. Mr. Watts said that his company would be the general contractor and would be hiring subcontractors to do various portions of the project.

The Chairman asked if there were any further questions of the developer, and hearing none, invited the public to comment on the conceptual review. He noted that this was not a public hearing and asked persons to limit their comments, realizing that they would have additional time to comment at the time of the public hearing and site plan review.

Mr. George Frouts introduced himself to the Planning Commission and told the Board members that he lived on the east side of 9th Street. He said that the project looked great, but he had some concerns. He said that he had paid for water to be located in 9th Street and wondered, if sewer were brought to the site, whether or not he would be required to pay for it and hook up. If so, he asked where the funds would come from for the development of the sewer. Ms. Stefforia said that the development would be served by a force main located off the side of the road and that none of the properties abutting the force main could connect, and therefore, would not be required to participate in the cost of installing the sewer servicing the proposed project as the sewer project is being planned at this time. She said that a gravity sewer would likely be installed at the time the Road Commission widened 9th Street.

Mr. Tim Wojytniak introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He told the Commissioners that he appreciated Mr. Watts' approach because he had stopped by and talked to them prior to coming to the Planning Commission. He said his only concern was whether or not a change in the contours of the property would affect the hydrology of the area, since he depended on well water at his home.

Mr. Dave Buckland Bucklin introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said his property bordered the proposed development along the southern boundary of the project area. He said he thought that the development looked very good and hoped that it would go through.

Mr. Phil Martin introduced himself to the Commission and noted that he worked for Mr. Watts. He said he had visited several of the franchised facilities in the Ohio area and that they were as beautiful as the one shown in the video. He said he thought that this proposed development would be a real asset to the community in the future.

The Chairman noted that it was nice to receive constructive comments and thanked the audience for their input. The Chairman then closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Commission deliberations.

The Chairman asked the Planning Department if they thought it was necessary to go through a point-by-point review of the planned unit development criteria. Ms. Stefforia said that, since it was just conceptual review, she thought it would be sufficient if they simply addressed those areas that she had highlighted or areas of particular concern to the Commission members.

Mr. Ahrens pointed out that, in the past, adequate screening had been a big concern with new developments. He said he thought the applicant in this case had taken great strides to create a sufficient buffer for the neighboring properties. He noted that, with a good landscape plan, he thought it would lessen any negative impact on the neighbors, even though it was a residential-to-residential development.

Ms. Everett told the developer that the Commission would look very closely at screening during the site plan review in order to mitigate the impact that this development might have on the surrounding properties. Mr. Watts said that is exactly why they proposed a 50-foot buffer to the properties to the east. He said that could include berming as well as plantings. Mr. Watts also told those in attendance that their company had an open-door policy and would be happy to speak to anyone interested in finding out about the proposed development.

Ms. Garland-Rike told the applicant that she would like to see them consider using native plants as part of their landscaping because they required less upkeep and were more hardy and adaptable to the local environment.

Mr. Larson said he would like to encourage the applicant to minimize changes to the property contours in order to protect water quality and maintain the attractive natural features of the land. Mr. Larson also said that, given the target market for the development, he would like to encourage sidewalks on both sides of the street. Ms. Garland-Rike said that she agreed, and given the close proximity to Stadium Drive and the Village area, perhaps they would want to put a sidewalk out to 9th Street in order to further access to the Oshtemo Village area. Ms. Everett concurred in proposing a sidewalk to 9th Street and said, if it was not used to access the Village area, it might be used to access a bus stop.

Ms. Stefforia noted that, even if there was not a sidewalk on 9th Street when it was widened, the new road would have a four-foot shoulder.

Mr. Watts said he would hate to see sidewalks on both sides of the road because it would detract from the natural look and landscaping in the area. Mr. Larson said it did not have to be cement, as there are alternative materials which could be used. Ms. Garland-Rike agreed with Mr. Larson and said that one project developed in the area had proposed using different types of material that were even compatible with wheelchair access. Ms. Stefforia said she thought that developer had proposed using crushed limestone. Mr. Watts said that they would consider that, as well as a sidewalk to 9th Street.

Mr. Larson asked if site utilities would be under ground. Mr. Schwartz said that they would be. He said that the two front ponds and the middle pond would be developed primarily for aesthetic purposes, though they would have some storm water retention capability. He said that the pond in the northwest portion of the property would be used for storm water retention and would percolate.

Mr. Gould asked if the applicant would be making the determination on the road improvements on 9th Street. Mr. Watts said that all of those criteria would be up to the Road Commission.

Mr. Ahrens said that he initially had concerns about the parking, but if other similar developments had not had a problem, perhaps an increase in the width of the driveways or adding additional parking was not necessary.

The Chairman asked the applicant what the price of the proposed condominiums would be. Mr. Watts said they would start with the presale of one-bedroom units at approximately $139,500, and for the two bedroom units, up to $180,000. He said that, often after construction begins, the price of the units tends to escalate by as much as $40,000 before the projects are completed.

Ms. Everett asked if there were any age limitations imposed on the development. Mr. Watts said there were no restrictions, but that most of the parties purchasing the condominiums were 55 years and older.

Ms. Stefforia pointed out that this single-story development was likely more compatible than a typical two-story residential development.

The Commissioners thanked the applicant for the review and said that they would look forward to seeing the final site plan in the near future.

Discussion Item - Salons in the "R-3" Residence District

Ms. Stefforia explained that a property owner in the Township had a home in the "R-3" District, which he had been asked to convert to a hair salon. She said, before the owner went to the expense of applying for a text change, she thought she would inquire as to whether the proposal was something the Commission felt it would like to consider. She asked the Commission members to consider whether or not a hair salon was similar enough to the permitted or special uses allowed in the "R-3" zone to warrant a text change.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked what factors weighed against allowing this type of service industry in this particular zone. Ms. Everett said that she thought that was an excellent question and whether or not this would be considered a high-traffic use. Ms. Garland-Rike said she did not think it could be any more high traffic than perhaps a credit union.

Mr. Ahrens said he did not think that the proposed use would be a problem if it was on a main road , and it might be better than some of the special exception uses which were allowed. The Chairman asked if Mr. Ahrens was proposing, if hair salons were permitted, that they only be permitted as a special use. Mr. Ahrens said yes. Mr. Ahrens noted that he had converted four or five homes to hair salons as part of his construction business.

Ms. Everett asked if most of the Township's "R-3" zoned property was on main thoroughfares. Ms. Stefforia said that much of it was, and a significant portion was in areas that most likely would be able to accommodate a hair salon. However, she noted that they would not want to place it in a "R-3" zone which was truly part of a residential neighborhood.

Mr. Ahrens asked, if they permitted this, whether they would have to permit barber shops. Attorney Porter noted that there might be some differences, but it would be hard to distinguish between those two uses.

Ms. Everett asked if they would be able to prohibit tanning salons. Attorney Porter said that type of development was sufficiently different, and he thought that they could restrict those uses as a stand-alone business. However, it was noted that many hair salons have tanning booths to which Attorney Porter responded that he felt it would be reasonable to restrict the percentage of space devoted to such use within a hair salon business.

Mr. Larson suggested perhaps limiting the size of the home that could be converted to a hair salon as a method of reducing impact.

Ms. Everett said she was a bit concerned about the proposal, in that, banks and other similar commercial establishments seemed to her to be more compatible with residential development. Ms. Stefforia agreed with that comment and said that many of the uses currently allowed were less retail in nature.

Ms. Everett said it would depend upon the area. Doing this on West Main Street, between 9th and 10th Streets, would likely be compatible. Ms. Garland-Rike agreed and said that they needed to be careful on how they developed this special use, but thought it was worth considering. She again stressed the fact that she thought it could be made compatible if it maintained the residential look and character of the neighborhood. Ms. Everett said that she agreed that it should retain a residential appearance.

Ms. Stefforia then asked if the Commission was willing to consider this, if there was carefully drafted language to insure that the integrity of the "R-3" District was maintained. The Commission concurred.

2005 Meeting Dates

The Chairman asked if the Commission had an opportunity to review the proposed meeting dates for 2005. The Commissioners indicated that they had. Mr. Larson made a motion to adopt the 2005 meeting dates as presented. The motion was seconded by Mr. Gould. The Chairman called for a discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

Ms. Stefforia asked that Ms. Everett report the Township Board's response to its recommendation regarding increase in flag pole height. Ms. Everett relayed the actions of the Township Board at its meeting of December 14, 2004. Ms. Everett then asked counsel if the Township could better define a flag so as to prohibit commercial advertisement on a flag while still not discriminating between the types of national or state flags that could be flown within the Township. Attorney Porter indicated that the Township had a greater degree of latitude to control commercial speech than political speech and that he would research that matter and be prepared to address it at the Commission's January meeting.

A general discussion ensued regarding the flag pole and other alternatives and factors that the Commission might want to consider such as lot size and setbacks to ensure that the larger flag poles, if allowed, would be compatible.

Mr. Rod Walters asked to address the Commission. The Chairman indicated that generally they ask that people have the Planning Department put any items of concern on their agenda for discussion. Attorney Porter noted that all public bodies have to provide time for public comment. The Chairman asked Mr. Walters to proceed.

Mr. Walters asked if the Township had received all of the documents for the Visser condo development on H Avenue and wondered if that project was ready to proceed. If so, he asked if he could view the documents. Ms. Bugge noted that the documents had not been received, but when they were, he could request to review them. Mr. Walters asked if the matter would come back to the Planning Commission. Ms. Bugge said that it would not, and that the only thing which remained was the review and approval by Staff and Township counsel. Ms. Everett noted that the project had been approved subject to review by Staff and approval by the Township Attorney.

Mr. Walters said the second item of concern he would like to raise with the Planning Commission was the interpretation of the PUD language. Mr. Walters said he thought a commercial operation should not be developed within a PUD unless it was there to primary serve the residents of the PUD. Ms. Bugge respectfully disagreed and said that they interpreted the phrase "integral" more broadly than Mr. Walters did. Attorney Porter concurred, and said that most of the PUD's with which he was familiar allowed commercial development to serve not only the residents of the PUD, but other residents within the community. He also said he would not interpret the language as restrictively as Mr. Walters had. Ms. Stefforia said she thought that the concept of being an integral part of the development was directed primarily at the design, not the service orientation of the development.

Mr. Walters again said he thought the language was more limited than that and would like to have the Township Planning Commission review the proposed language in order to limit the uses and the types of commercial development that could be allowed within a PUD and create a more specific standard upon which to approve these types of commercial uses. Attorney Porter explained to Mr. Walters that the spirit and intent of the Township Zoning Act, in regards to PUD's, was to allow flexibility in planning a development without such rigid restrictions being in place. Ms. Stefforia noted that if the Ordinance was drawn too narrowly or restrictive, it would negatively impact the Planning Commission's authority to review and approve such a development. However, the Planning Commission thanked Mr. Walters for his input.


There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 9:05 p.m.


Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary

Minutes prepared:
December 20, 2004

Minutes approved:
, 2005