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January 25, 2001




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, January 25, 2001, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil Sikora, Chairperson
Stanley Rakowski
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Deborah Everett
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Ted Corakis

MEMBER ABSENT: James Turcott

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


The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m.


Ms. Heiny-Cogswell moved to approve the Agenda as submitted, and Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of January 11, 2001. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Chairperson announced that it was his privilege to present certificates of appreciation to Planning Commissioners Wilfred Dennie, Ken Heisig and Marvin Block. Mr. Dennie, Mr. Heisig and Mr. Block were present to receive the certificates and the thanks of the Planning Commission and Township.


The Planning Commission considered the application of Ron Dunlap on behalf of Meijer, Inc. for special exception use and site plan approval of a request by Meijer, Inc. for a seasonal area in the parking lot to store and display garden center merchandise. The subject site is located at 6660 West Main Street within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification, and is Parcel No. 3905-14-185-020. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reported that the applicant was seeking approval for the creation of a "seasonal area in the parking lot to store and display and load garden center goods". The outdoor seasonal area would operate for six months, from March through August of each year, in an area in the northwest section of the parking lot adjacent to the existing garden center. The area would be 95 feet by 128 feet, encompassing 12,160 square feet. Fifty-six spaces in the parking lot would be utilized. The existing parking aisles would remain open.

It was noted that the area would contain 417 skids of stacked bags of various materials. The area would be separated from the rest of the parking lot by a temporary 40" high fence made from cement blocks and timbers. This area would serve as the display/storage/loading area for materials formerly located in the garden center.

As to parking at the site, it was noted that this lot contains approximately 1,341 spaces. Under current parking standards, 1,200 spaces would be needed for the use. Therefore, sufficient parking exists, even if the seasonal area and other outdoor sales events occur simultaneously in the parking lot.

It was noted that Section 30.409 allows as a special exception use new and/or used car lots; recreational vehicle lots; mobile home sales lots outside of mobile home parks; farm machinery and other equipment sales lots; boat sales lots; and other business involving substantial outdoor sales or activities connected with retail sales, subject to the conditions and limitations set forth in Section 31.403.

Dave Hafer was present on behalf of the applicant. Mr. Hafer stated that the proposal was part of a "corporate plan" intended to benefit customers. The area had been placed so as not interfere with an aisle in the parking area beside the garden center through which the public bus travels twice per hour. Moreover, this aisle is used for loading and unloading.

Mr. Corakis questioned the applicant's representative concerning fencing. The representative stated that 2x4's would be used to delineate the area. Mr. Corakis expressed concern about children climbing on the "fencing". Mr. Corakis wondered whether there was any way to attach this area to the garden center. Ms. Bugge stated that there would be concern that attaching the area would interfere with the aisle, and since the aisle is used for bus stops and as a fire lane, this would not be advisable. However, Mr. Hafer did acknowledge that the applicant had considered expansion of the existing garden center to the north.

Mr. Rakowski inquired as to the size of the area and wondered whether it was based upon current sales. The applicant's representative stated that the area was sized to accommodate all the inventory which the store would expect to sell during the "season". It was felt that it was most convenient to bring all inventory on site at one time. Mr. Rakowski expressed concern that the area would be greater in size in future years. The applicant stated that the area was one of the largest requested by the corporation for any of its stores. This was because the subject site was one of the"highest selling" stores in the chain.

Ms. Stefforia expressed that she felt the Planning Commission should discuss whether the use was allowed under Section 30.409 before considering special exception use or site plan criteria.

In response to questions by the Chairperson, the applicant's representative indicated that the store currently sells the type of product which will be stored in the seasonal area. They wished to keep a full season of product in the area for ease of loading and unloading.

Ms. Everett has questions regarding the applicant's consideration of expansion in the garden center. Mr. Hafer stated that the store had decided not to invest in the expansion until the effect of the recent location of Menards and Lowes could be determined.

Ms. Garland-Rike questioned whether the garden center was smaller than in other stores. The applicant responded that many other new stores had bigger garden center areas.

The Chairperson sought public comment, and Ken Heisig expressed concern about the location of the seasonal area. He also wondered about the use of the area and whether sales activity would take place there. In response, it was noted that the area would be used for pick-up of product. Payment for product would take place inside the building.

Mr. Dennie expressed concern about the use of the area. He felt it was significant that the applicant planned to bring its full inventory for the season to this area, and that the area would be diminished over time. In his opinion, the Board's action would have a precedential effect on future applications, possibly by Menards, Lowes and others.

The Chairperson asked whether there were any other uses in the Township similar to this. Ms. Bugge noted that there were not. She stated that in the past approval had been granted to display and sales on the sidewalks of Meijer, Target, Jewel/Osco. With regard to these requests, the Planning Commission had specifically discussed display and storage. In those applications, it was noted that the areas were small enough not to constitute outdoor storage.

Ms. Bugge also noted that the applications of Seven-Eleven for storage of firewood and at Speedway concerning mulch and salt had been denied as out of character with the area and constituting outdoor storage.

There was no other public comment, and the public hearing was closed. It was agreed that the first issue for consideration was whether the use was allowed pursuant to Section 30.409. If the use constituted sales and display, it would be allowed. If not, i.e., if it was considered outdoor storage, it would not be allowed by this Section.

Mr. Corakis was concerned that if the application were granted, particularly in the middle of the parking lot, an undesirable precedent would be set. He felt that the applicant should expand its garden center to accommodate the inventory. In his opinion, the use as described by the applicant would constitute outdoor storage. He was concerned that Menards, Lowes and others would also request such outdoor storage.

Ms. Garland-Rike felt it was significant that the skids would be four to eight feet high. To her, this indicated outdoor storage. This was particularly of concern given the length of time included in the application; the length of time the "seasonal area" would be in place also indicated storage in her opinion.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell agreed that the proposed use, in her opinion, constituted large scale storage.

The Chairperson noted that there was precedent for not allowing outdoor storage in this district. In his opinion, it was important to be consistent with the action on other applications.

Mr. Rakowski concurred, stating that, in his opinion, it was likely, if allowed, that the area would further expand in future years. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell expressed concern that the original approval of the garden center site had been particularly sensitive to nearby residential uses.

Mr. Corakis moved to deny the application, finding that it was not consistent with the uses allowed by Section 30.409 in that the use constituted outdoor storage. Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion. There was no public comment on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission conducted a conceptual plan review of the proposed open space community at The Fountains at Bronson Place. The subject property is located at 1700 Bronson Way in the "R-4" Residence District zoning classification, and is Parcel No. 3905-13-205-010. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the Planning Commission had initially conducted a conceptual plan review in December of the project, which then consisted of 14 duplex buildings, for a total of 28 dwelling units. The applicant was requesting an additional conceptual plan review since a 15th duplex building had been added to the site. This would constitute a total of 30 dwelling units.

The applicant was seeking a deviation to allow the buildings to be less than 40 feet apart. Further, the applicant had indicated that the duplexes would not be "condominium units" and therefore, a deviation from Section 66.150 would be needed to allow more than two single-family or duplex buildings on one residential parcel.

Ms. Stefforia noted that, at the last review, the Planning Commission had commented that they would like to see additional sidewalks added on both sides of Bronson Way. This had not been addressed by the applicant in the revised plan. The comments which urged the shifting of buildings on the west side of the development to the south to preserve some of the existing trees have been somewhat accommodated.

Again, it was noted that Township Engineer approval would be needed as the plans became more detailed. Comments had been made at the previous meeting that the ponds had overflowed in the spring/summer of 2000, and this information would be shared with the Township Engineer.

Some phasing information had been provided by the applicant, who indicated that construction of half of the buildings was planned for summer/fall of 2001. Construction of the remaining buildings would commence in fall/winter of 2001. It was anticipated that the project would be substantially completed by the winter of 2002. However, Ms. Stefforia felt it would be appropriate for the applicant to provide further detail as to phasing, i.e., which portion of the site and which buildings would be developed first. Ms. Stefforia also suggested a further re-design of the hammerhead near Units 5 and 6 on the east side of Bronson Way. She commented that the easement for Bronson Way should reflect a 66-foot wide easement. Ms. Stefforia further reported that a parallel plan indicated that, if platted, 25 lots could be created.

The Chairperson called for comments by the applicant. Chuck Glasner stated that he was present along with two representatives of The Fountains. He noted that the actual open space at the site would be 74+%. He stated that the easement could be adjusted to 66 feet, but that some of the open space would be lost. The hammerhead to eliminate the nub, near Building 6, would be re-designed.

Mr. Corakis noted that the project would be used for seniors, and he would like to see sidewalks on both sides of Bronson Way. The applicant stated that it was their intent to show these sidewalks on the formal site plan.

There was discussion of rotating the building on the southwest corner of the site. In discussion of the storm water retention proposal, the applicant indicated that the two middle ponds could be connected to the third so as to divert some of the water and prevent overflow.

Mr. Corakis had questions with regard to landscaping, and the applicant indicated that details would be provided on the final site plan.

Mr. Rakowski questioned phasing, and the applicant stated that the east side would commence first. However, a detailed phasing plan would be provided in final site plan review.

Mr. Rakowski also agreed that sidewalks would be appropriate and wondered whether the applicant could connect the sidewalks to Croyden. Ms. Stefforia displayed a possible layout of internal walkways and trails developed by Ms. Heiny-Cogswell.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell expressed concern that the intent of the open space community is to preserve natural features. In her opinion, the applicant had not sufficiently taken into account the natural features on the west half of the site. She was concerned that Building 12 was located in the area where most natural features on the site were currently located. This was in the area of a "woods". In her opinion, deviation from the separation requirement was only justified if it allowed the applicant to preserve natural features at the site. Further, she felt that, given the intent and purpose of the open space community, especially given this open space community was for seniors, the applicant should include sidewalks and walkways in its plan. She also felt there should be more landscaping around the ponds.

The applicant stated that Buildings 11 and 12 had been "spread out" in order to preserve more of the natural features. However, he acknowledged that an additional building had been added. The Planning Commissioners agreed that perhaps Building 12 should be moved out of the wooded area. The applicant indicated that he would send a crew out to provide more information with regard to the "boundaries" of the existing wooded area.

The applicant agreed that more detail would be provided in the final site plan regarding the clubhouse.

It was the consensus of the Planning Commissioners that there would be no problem with deviation to allow more than two residential buildings on the site.

It was agreed that the applicant would return with a final site plan.


Mr. Rakowski expressed concern that, given the design, cars could make a left turn into the "out" drive of Menards.

Mr. Corakis expressed concern that there was no stop sign at the end of Technology Avenue. Ms. Stefforia responded that this was the case because it was still a private drive.

Mr. Corakis noted that there are balloons on the car lot sites in the Township, which do not comply with Ordinance requirements.

Mr. Corakis expressed that he would like to see consideration given to requiring sidewalks in the Ordinance. It was agreed that this should be discussed at the joint meeting with the Township Board on February 20, 2001.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she felt there should be consideration given to a tree preservation ordinance. In her opinion, a tree preservation plan should be submitted prior to site plan review. There was discussion of the problems and benefits which might be associated with such an ordinance.

Ms. Stefforia noted that she felt the Township might consider changes to its duplex provisions similar to those recently adopted by Kalamazoo Charter Township.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.



Minutes prepared:
January 29, 2001

Minutes approved:
, 2001