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Meeting Minutes

January 28, 1999





A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, January 28, 1999, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at The Birches in Oshtemo, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Ted Corakis
Millard Loy
Marvin Block
Ken Heisig
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

Member Absent: Stanley Rakowski

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning and Zoning Department, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and approximately twenty (20) other interested persons.


The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m and introduced the Planning Commission members and Township Consultants to the members of the public present.


Mr. Corakis moved to approve the agenda as submitted, and Mr. Block seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of January 14, 1999. Mr. Loy moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


There was a presentation concerning the Village Focus Area Development Plan and a discussion of the next step(s) necessary to implement the plan. The Chairperson reminded the Planning Commission and those present that the Village Focus Area Development Plan was adopted in early 1996. It was the result of a special study of the Village Area which began with a committee made up of local business owners, residents, Township Board members, Township Planning Commission members, etc. A public input session had also been conducted. It was recognized that the intent for the Village Area was to attempt to create and preserve a "small-town atmosphere." The Chairperson discussed the boundaries of the Village Focus Area, which centered around the intersection of 9th Street and Stadium Drive. The original boundaries of the Village Area had been reduced so as to eliminate "rural areas."

The Chairperson referenced an article entitled "Visions of an American Dream," which had been considered when the original Village Focus Area Plan was developed. This article included ten design principles to create small communities.

The Chairperson Planning Director Jodi Stefforia noted that the Director of the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, Ron Reid, and a member of the Road Commission, Laura Meeuwse, were both present to comment on Village Area roads and the "possibilities." The Chairperson noted that there were a number of possible ways of implementing the Village Focus Area Plan which the Township was now going to consider.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Laura Ware Raher, a resident of Stadium Drive, stated that she is a "walker." She complained that there were no sidewalks to walk down Stadium Drive. She also noted that residents of the Pinehurst Development attempted to walk along Stadium Drive to the Hardings Market and it was creating a hazardous situation. The Chairperson acknowledged that one of the main goals of the Plan was to address pedestrian traffic through the creation of walkways (sidewalks and walking paths).

Ken Livingston, who has an office on Stadium Drive, agreed that there was a problem with people attempting to walk along Stadium Drive and there were no walkways to allow them to do so. He felt this was a particular problem when, during times like these, there was snow in the street.

There was discussion of possible regulations as to the scale of buildings, their height, ground coverage, etc., as a way of implementing the Village Focus Area Plan. Charlie Hill, a business owner within the Village, stated that he felt business owners would not object to doing some of the things envisioned in the Plan but that he felt it was necessary that businesses be allowed to phase these changes in slowly.

Mary Kinney, of Happytail Boarding Kennel, felt that the Township should not place so many restrictions on businesses that it would frighten them away. As to sidewalks, she felt it was more important for pedestrian traffic that the speed limit in the Village Area be reduced.

The Chairperson made reference to the Transportation section of the Village Focus Area Plan. Additionally, the Chairperson called upon Mr. Reid to comment on possible ways of reducing speeds. Mr. Reid stated that Stadium Drive within the Village was a principal arterial for the area, a major thoroughfare. He noted that the County Road Commission follows state standards in setting speed limits. Speed limits could not be arbitrarily set but were contingent upon a determination of the 82nd 85th percentile of average speeds. Therefore, the way to lower speed limits in the area was to make people slow down. He felt that pedestrians, crosswalks and parking in the area could slow speeds. Further, he felt that heavy enforcement of the existing speed limit could slow traffic. Mr. Reid noted that some villages were able to set their own speeds because they were incorporated.

Ms. Stefforia noted that an important aspect of the Plan was a change in the streetscapes to provide a sense of "arrival" in the Village.

Mike Ludke commented that the Township might consider establishing a service road on the property from the Fire Station to Atlantic.

There was discussion of the possibility of creating a community center at the Chime Street School once the new school building had been constructed.

The Chairperson returned to a discussion of the possible ways of implementing the Plan; and the options of a new Village Commercial District, a Village Overlay Zone, and Village design standards were discussed. It was noted that no existing businesses would be expected to alter their architecture or site design. However, as new development or expansion and development occurred occurs, the new text would allow new development to require conformity to the Village Plan.

Mark Eddy commented he felt that the speed along Stadium Drive was the principal impediment to achieving the Village Focus Area goals.

Charlie Hill commented he felt that the Township should allow flexibility in development, particularly for expansion of existing businesses.

There was some comment that the Township should be concerned with the possible impact on traffic from development of the Western Michigan University property, i.e., the Lee Baker Farm.

There was a discussion of the Village Focus Area Development Plan concept that parking be directed to the back of buildings. Some business owners felt that certain businesses required parking in front of the building as they counted on drop-in traffic.

Ms. Meeuwse commented that she felt the Township should pursue any grants or other state funding available for assistance in the alteration of the streetscape.

Jan Ludke questioned the use of the old Fire Station, and it was noted that this would be it is occasionally used temporarily as a for community building meetings.

Elaine Branch was present and stated that nothing had been decided about the use of the parcel owned by the Township in back of the Fire Station to Atlantic.

After further discussion, Ms. Stefforia noted that the next stage in creation of an implementation tool was to create a subcommittee for a review of the adopted Plan and commencement of the drafting of the implementation text. The Chairperson encouraged the public to volunteer for membership on the committee.

There was also discussion of pursuing available options for establishing sidewalks in the area. The possibility of establishing pedestrian walkways from the residential areas east to 9th Street and the grocery store/post office area was discussed.



There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:40 p.m.

 Minutes prepared:
February 1, 1999

Minutes approved:
February 11, 1999