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February 28, 2002




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, February 28, 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
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
James Turcott
Mike Ahrens

MEMBER ABSENT: Kathleen Garland-Rike

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


The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.


Ms. Stefforia indicated that she had a rezoning request to be discussed under "Other Business". Mr. Ahrens moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of February 14, 2002. Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered an item tabled from the meeting of December 20, 2001, concerning the public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Zoning Map to establish the boundaries of the Rural Residential District, the Agricultural District, as well as the expansion of the boundaries of the "R-2" Residence District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the number of parcels proposed for rezoning to the Agricultural District had been expanded since the December public hearing to include 10 additional parcels (with five different owners); these parcels were added at the request of their owners. It was noted that the parcels added exceeded 40 acres in size for the tract with the exception of the McKenzie parcel, which was adjacent to several other parcels being considered for agricultural zoning, and therefore, the entire tract would be in excess of 40 acres. In addition, the parcels along G Avenue are comprised of approximately 33 acres. In addition, the Planning Commission would continue to consider the parcels outlined in yellow for expansion of the "R-2" Residence District.

Jim Raseman stated that he and his wife own the property along G Avenue. He stated that there were crops planted on the property and that livestock was also present. He stated that this acreage is across the street from property within Alamo Township under the Raseman's ownership, which was also farmed. He, therefore, felt it was appropriate for his property to be zoned in the Agricultural District.

Richard Schramm spoke about a property along Stadium Drive, which he was in the process of developing. The property had been platted, and it was his intent to establish duplexes on the property. He was concerned that the proposed text change would prevent development of duplexes in the Rural Residential zone. He would like his property rezoned to the "R-2" District. It was pointed out that the property had not been included in the notice for consideration of "R-2" zoning. Further, Ms. Stefforia reminded Mr. Schramm that duplexes could still be developed under the open space community concept. She offered to meet with Mr. Schramm to discuss the development options for his property as zoned. Further, it was indicated to Mr. Schramm that he could seek rezoning to the "R-2" District.

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

Planning Commissioners were satisfied that, based upon the analysis of the rezoning criteria conducted at the December meeting, the properties previously noticed for consideration of agricultural zoning, along with the 10 new parcels, should be located in the Agricultural District. Mr. Ahrens felt that agricultural use should be allowed to continue so long as the owner was seeking agricultural zoning. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell concurred, stating that the G Avenue properties, even though not comprising 40 acres, would be appropriately agricultural given the use and given the location across the street from farming property under common ownership.

As to the properties to be considered for the "R-2" District, there was discussion of the proposed rezoning in the southeast corner of the Township regarding which neighbors had expressed concern at the December meeting. It was indicated that Mr. Buell owns some additional property in the area of Land Section 36, but had stated that he did not want his property located in the Agricultural District. Further, it was noted that the City of Kalamazoo had approved a development including a mix of town homes and single-family homes across 12th Street, thus resulting in a development more dense than allowed under the Township's "R-2" Zoning District.

Mr. Ahrens had questions as to why the remainder of Section 36 was not being considered for the "R-2" District, and Ms. Stefforia indicated that it had not been considered because municipal sewer was not immediately available. However, she reminded the Planning Commission that, when both utilities become available, it was the intent of the Master Plan and the Planning Commission to entertain rezoning to the "R-2" District.

Mr. Ahrens moved to recommend rezoning of all parcels outlined in green on the "Study Map - Zoning Changes" along with the 10 parcels added since the December public hearing. Additionally, he moved to recommend rezoning to the "R-2" District of those parcels indicated in yellow. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion. Mr. Ahrens suggested discussion in the future of additional areas for consideration of the "R-2" Zoning District.

Mr. Schramm again indicated that he wished to have his property considered for "R-2" zoning. It was again stated that the appropriate legal notice had not been published to allow for such a recommendation.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission resumed public hearing on the proposed dimensional requirements for the Rural Residential and Agricultural Districts which had been tabled at the meeting of December 20, 2001. In the interim, a task force formed by the Planning Commission had met three times, and a summary of those meetings were attached to the Report of the Planning and Zoning Department, which is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia presented a revised recommended dimensional requirement for the Agricultural and Rural Residential Districts based upon her recommendation following the task force meetings.

She stated that some contradictory opinions had been expressed at the task force. Some members felt that the market should dictate parcel, lot and building site size. Further, some felt that the market should dictate whether open space communities were utilized. It was felt that there was a need to educate the public regarding the site condominium concept.

Ms. Stefforia indicated that there were representatives of the task force in the audience and reminded the Planning Commission that Commissioners Rakowski, Ahrens and Garland-Rike had represented the Planning Commission on the task force.

Mr. Ahrens stated that a lot of information had been expressed including pros and cons concerning the open space community concept. There was also a lot discussion on the topic of affordability of housing. Mr. Ahrens expressed concern that the dimensional requirements allow for affordability and not limit the residents who could purchase in the Rural Residential zone. He felt that more density should be allowed in order to limit urban sprawl.

Mr. Rakowski commented that the task force had been an eye-opening experience, particularly with regard to the expenses incurred by developers.

The Chairperson asked for comments by task force members, and Earnie Best, realtor, stated that he believed task force members agreed that all wish to improve the quality of life in Oshtemo Township. He felt that there was nothing wrong with Oshtemo's open space provisions, but that there was also nothing wrong with the traditional plat provisions of the Ordinance. He felt that the market should control the development of open space communities. In his opinion, the Township should modify the Ordinance to allow for private roads in traditional plats. As to the revised dimensional requirements which would require a parcel size of 1.5 acres, Mr. Best stated that he felt this was fine, but should be clarified to include the right-of-way in parcel area.

Bernie Mein, of the Realtor's Association who was also on the task force, stated that he felt open space communities were more suited to areas where municipal sewer and water were available because of health department requirements.

Mr. Ahrens expressed concern that, given the 200 foot frontage requirement, there was a small percentage of property in the Township that could be divided without platting. He felt that the frontage requirement should be examined and revised. Both the Planning Director and the Township Attorney indicated concern about altering the frontage requirement without study.

Ms. Everett stated that she felt dimensional requirements depended upon perception of what a rural residential district should be. She felt that some people would expect large lot sizes in a rural residential area.

As to frontage, Ms. Heiny-Cogswell expressed concern that the requirement of frontage had impact on the Access Management more than anything else. She felt any change to the frontage requirement should be made in coordination with controlling access.

As to the revised requirements for lot and building site area, Mr. Best stated that he felt that these were still too large. However, he did like the idea of computing size based on "average density" rather than requiring each lot or unit to have the same square footage.

The Chairperson stated that he recognized it would be difficult to please everyone. He stated that some people appearing before the Planning Commission urged that the Planning Commission prevent subsidized or "cheaper" housing to be located in their neighborhood, while others were urging that all areas of the Township be affordable to everyone. The Chairperson expressed concern about meeting the goal of the Master Land Use Plan as to preservation of rural character.

Mr. Bugge observed that, because of soil and topography, Oshtemo Township generally required larger lot size than, for example, Texas Township, to meet health department requirements for septic system placement.

The Chairperson commented that he felt it was important to offer incentives to achieve the goals established in the Master Land Use Plan. Mr. Turcott agreed, stating that, in his opinion, the duty of the Planning Commission was to attempt to carry out the goals of the Master Land Use Plan. He felt that carrying out the Master Plan would best serve competing interests. In his opinion, the community as a whole needed to be represented. The Planning Director concurred, indicating that the Planning Commission did not have the duty to make zoning decisions based on providing the highest degree of profitability for developers.

Mr. Rakowski stated that he would like to have an opportunity to review the latest proposed dimensional requirements recommended by the Planning Director. He moved to table public hearing on the dimensional requirements to the meeting of April 11, 2002. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Best stated that he felt that the task force would make suggestions prior to the April 11 meeting.


Ms. Stefforia stated that a rezoning request had been received concerning 2.96 acres south of the existing boundary of commercial zoning on South 9th Street. She reported that Wal-Mart was considering acquisition of a total of 7.4 acres and was requesting that 2.96 acres of that area be rezoned. There was discussion of possibly expanding the area under consideration. After some discussion, it was determined that only that area requested for rezoning should be noticed for public hearing. The Planning Commission questioned whether there would be a need to change the Master Land Use Plan if only this small area were rezoned. It was felt that additional property could be considered at a later date if a land owner requested that additional property be considered.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell moved to schedule a public hearing for rezoning of the 2.96 acres along the south boundary of the commercial zoning on South 9th Street for consideration of the "C" Local Business District zoning classification. The public hearing was scheduled for March 28, 2002. In addition, the Planning Commission would consider a change to the Master Land Use Plan, if necessary, to reclassify the 2.96 acres to the commercial classification from the Focus Area. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Ahrens expressed that he would like the Planning Commission to work on establishing incentives for all types of growth and development in the Township. However, he did not wish to be perceived as completely pro developer.

The Chairperson commented that he felt that the discussions regarding dimensional requirements had included a number of good points on philosophically different ideas.

Mr. Rakowski noted that he had vacationed in Naples, Florida recently and was impressed with the low signage and landscaping. Further, he had noted on his way to Florida the eye-level signage in Maumee, Ohio.

Mr. Turcott expressed concern about tabling the dimensional requirements, noting that the Master Land Use Plan and community surveys supported the original, noticed, dimensional requirements.

Ms. Heiny-Cogwell stated that she had submitted her masters thesis.


There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.


Stanley Rakowski, Secretary
Minutes prepared:
March 4, 2002

Minutes approved:

, 2002