Meeting Minutes

January 8, 1998








A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, January 8, 1998, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Marvin Block
Millard Loy
Lara Meeuwse
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Ken Heisig

Member Absent: Ted Corakis

Also present were Rebecca Harvey and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and six (6) other interested persons.


The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m.


Mr. Loy moved to approve the agenda as submitted. Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Board next considered the election of a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Secretary for calendar year 1998. With regard to nominations for Chairperson, Ms. Meeuwse nominated Wilfred Dennie. Mr. Block seconded the nomination.

As to Vice Chairperson, Mr. Loy nominated Ken Heisig. Mr. Block seconded the nomination.

Mr. Heisig nominated Lara Meeuwse for Secretary. Mr. Block seconded the nomination.


No other nominations were offered, and Mr. Block moved to elect the persons nominated. Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.



Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the 1998 meeting schedule as submitted. Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of December 18, 1997. Mr. Block moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Mr. Heisig seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The next item was the request of the Oshtemo Township Board for the Planning Commission to review a proposed 39-lot residential subdivision occupying approximately 42 acres. The subject property is located on the north side of H Avenue, approximately 1,400' east of North 9th Street, and is within the "R-2" Residence District Zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The applicant was not present, and Ms. Harvey indicated that no contact from the applicant had been received requesting an adjournment. The Chairperson stated that he has questions for the applicant. Mr. Loy concurred and suggested that the item be tabled. Ms. Harvey suggested that the item could be tabled to the end of the agenda and that Township staff would call the applicant. She noted that the next meeting of the Planning Commission had a full agenda.

Mr. Loy moved to table the item to the end of the agenda, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.



The Planning Commission next reviewed draft #2 of the proposed revision to the Open Space Community, Section 60.500.

It was noted that Section 60.520 was proposed to be amended so as to allow Open Space Community development within the "R-4" and "R-5" Zoning District classifications, in addition to the classifications previously provided. Under Section 60.540, it was proposed that the minimum acreage requirement in subpart A be deleted.

There were minor revisions to subparts B, C and E proposed. In addition, under subpart G, there was reference to a single-loaded street design.

With regard to Section 60.550, the Planning Commission discussed the concept of requiring the arrangement of streets be extended to boundary lines so as to make provisions for future projection of streets into adjoining areas. Mr. Loy wondered whether the text should force streets to the boundary, commenting that he believed this might discourage private roads and thus discourage the use of the Open Space Community concept. The Chairperson stated he was concerned about allowing for access to interior property. Mr. Block agreed, stating he felt that there should be at least one street which connected to interior lands. Mr. Loy stated that, in his opinion, the most desirable design would be to make the primary road public and extend it to the boundary of the property. The secondary roads of the project could be private.

There was discussion of the proposed text language which would provide that streets should, whenever possible, be designed to connect with each other and minimize dead ends. After some discussion, the Planning Commission determined that this language was providing a "recommendation" and not a strict requirement. Therefore, they were satisfied with the proposed text.

There was discussion of Ms. Heiny-Cogswell's inquiry as to whether a playground area could be required in the Ordinance. It was noted that the Township could not require a public amenity but that, if an applicant proposed an amenity, the Planning Commission could require its development in an appropriate phase. The Chairperson stated he felt that developers should have the discretion to direct their development to certain segments of the population. Therefore, he would not favor requiring certain recreational elements.

There was discussion of the proposed text which would provide that streets should be designed so that their curvature or alignment produced terminal vistas of open space elements. The Township Attorney felt that there should be some definition of the concept of terminal vistas which she understood to be, for example, the view at the end of a street or at the intersection of a street. It was felt that at the end of a street or at the intersection homes should not be located; rather, common/open space elements should be visible. It was suggested that following the words "terminal vistas" there be reference to "such as intersections or ends of the streets."

After further discussion, Mr. Loy moved to schedule public hearing on the proposed text for February 26, 1998. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission returned to the preliminary plat review item. Ms. Harvey indicated that the applicant, Steven Visser, had not received notice but, after call by Township staff, was now present.

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, the applicant indicated that he has an option on approximately 125 acres, including the subject property. He stated that he had considered developing the property under the Open Space Community concept but felt that platting the area was more consistent with the neighboring Westport plat. He noted that the topography was rolling on the property but not necessarily "dramatic" except for the two lots that he owned near Kal-Haven Trail.

Ms. Meeuwse questioned the applicant with regard to Oak Harbor Street, and the applicant stated that it was intended that this street would be connected and continued into a subsequent phase. Also, there was the possibility of connecting Hollison Drive to the property to the east. Further, there was the plan to ultimately connect a subsequent phase to 9th Street.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Joyce Prough asked whether single-family or multi-family could be developed on the property. Ms. Harvey stated that the zoning allowed for the development of single-family and two-family residences. Multi-family development was not permitted. Ms. Prough indicated that she owns property located adjacent to the proposed plat. She was concerned about increased traffic on the Kal-Haven Trail from the plat. She noted that there was a lot of trespassing on her property from persons using the trail. Ms. Harvey noted that Ms. Prough should contact Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department regarding these trespasses to obtain enforcement.

With regard to water and sewer, it was indicated that the applicant proposed city water and on-site septic. The Health Department would review this proposal, and the on-site septic should not affect Ms. Prough's property.

Robert Prough was also present, stating he was concerned about how this plat would affect the taxes on his property. Ms. Harvey noted that this question was beyond the scope of the Planning Commission's authority and that Mr. Prough could contact the Township Assessor, who would be happy to answer questions with regard to this issue. However, she noted that typically the assessment of Mr. Prough's property should be based on his use of the property.

Michael Stone expressed concern about the increasing traffic on H Avenue. He was also concerned that there should be "turn lanes" into the plat. The Chairperson stated that the Kalamazoo County Road Commission would review the access point but that no response from the Road Commission had yet been received. The Chairperson noted that the Planning Commission does review the access and that, in this case, the location was the most desirable in that it was directly across from the Bramble Drive entrance point to the south.

Janet Gullickson stated that her property neighbors this proposed project. She stated she was also concerned about the problems generated by trespassers onto her property who dump garbage and leaves and grass cuttings.

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

The Chairperson indicated that the Planning Commission would review and make recommendation to the Township Board with regard to this preliminary plat review. The Township Board would consider the preliminary plat when all reviews had been completed.

There was a discussion of the requirements of Section 2.1, and it was noted that subparts A-J had been satisfied. As to subpart K, approval could be conditioned upon obtaining a legal opinion on ownership and use conditions/easements regarding the property. Moreover, approval could be conditioned upon receipt of a letter from recommendation from the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. As to Section 2.2.A.3, it was noted that a future extension to 9th Street was planned. Moreover, Hollison Drive could potentially be extended to the boundary.

It was noted that Lots 1, 2 and 22 should not be permitted direct access to H Avenue.

There was discussion of the Bramble Drive designation. It was noted that north/south directional streets are required to end in "Street." However, the Planning Commission felt that, since this drive was an extension of the Westport designation, an exception should be allowed with regard to this name.

With regard to block length, Hollison Drive was proposed to be 1,150'. However, provision for future road extension to the north would result in a maximum block length of approximately 700'. Therefore, the Planning Commission felt that the proposed street arrangement was acceptable.

As to lighting, any public street lighting which might be proposed should be designed in compliance with Section 78.700.

As to lots, it was noted that all lots exceeded the single-family-home requirements. The applicant indicated that he planned single-family development but might develop two-family dwellings near the "entrances." The Planning Commission recognized that the provisions of subpart C were satisfied.

Mr. Loy questioned the applicant with regard to the leaching area, and the applicant stated that there was "natural flow" to this area. The applicant stated that the Kalamazoo County Road Commission had a problem with the collection of water on the road in this area and that he probably would excavate some "additional depth" in the retention area to take care of this problem.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell felt it was unfortunate that the applicant did not explore the open space option. She was also concerned that no provision for a recreation area had been made. She encouraged the applicant to pursue connection of the plat to the Kal-Haven Trail.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to recommend approval of the preliminary plat of West Port Trail No. 1 with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That it was recognized that Section 2.1, subparts A-J, were satisfied.

(2) That approval should be conditioned upon the receipt of a legal opinion on ownership and use conditions/easements regarding the subject property.

(3) That approval should be conditioned upon a letter of recommendation from the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.


(4) That the street arrangement was satisfactory in that two extensions were possible to the north and there was a possible eventual connection to the east boundary.


(5) That approval should be conditioned upon the requirement that Lots 1, 2 and 22 not be permitted direct access to H Avenue.


(6) That the Bramble Drive designation should be approved since it is an extension of an existing drive.


(7) That the block length of Hollison Drive was acceptable, although it currently exceeds the length allowed by the Ordinance, in that provision for future road extensions will ultimately achieve a block length of 700' in compliance with the Ordinance provisions.

(8) That any public street lighting proposed should be designated to comply with the intent of Section 78.700 of the Zoning Ordinance and be in character with recommended lighting objectives and standards.

(9) That it was recognized that all lots comply with the dimensional standards of the Ordinance.

(10) That it was recognized that the plat complied with the provisions of Section 2.2C.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Loy and carried unanimously.


There was discussion of the possibility of amending Section 64.000 regarding setback standards. Ms. Harvey noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals had interpreted the current language to require that a setback be the separation between the leading edge of a building and the line of measurement. Therefore, the distance is the leading edge of the building or overhang to the line.

Ms. Harvey noted that there were application problems that the Township is having with implementing this requirement. The most practical point at which to determine compliance with setbacks was at the inspection of the foundation or prefoundation. Therefore, once the entire building had been constructed, the eventual overhang of the building may be within the setback area. Ms. Harvey noted that it was not uncommon for the distance of the overhang to change during development. Ms. Harvey suggested that provision be made in the Ordinance to measure setback from the foundation but that a certain distance be added to current setback standards to achieve the proper distance between the leading edge of the building and the measurement line. For example, with the sideline setback of 10', the requirement of 15' from the foundation might be appropriate. This would likely result in the same distance of separation between building and point of measurement.

Ms. Meeuwse agreed that a change was necessary, and she felt that adding 5' to each standard would be appropriate. Mr. Heisig commented that he understood the practical problems but felt that every developer should not be penalized with the "worst-case" scenario. For example, if some building utilized only a 2' overhang, 3' of distance would be lost. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell concurred with that comment.

Mr. West suggested that perhaps a compromise could be reached to require current setback plus 5' as a setback measurement from the point of measurement to the foundation or, in the alternative, the current standard as measured from the overhang, whichever is the lesser distance. This might place the burden on the developer to show a footprint plan with regard to the location of the "overhang."

The Planning Commission, after further discussion, requested that a recommendation from the Building Department be obtained with regard to setback allowances for commercial as well as residential development. Moreover, the Planning Commission requested that the Township staff and Township Attorney draft recommended language for consideration by the Planning Commission.


There was discussion of the agenda for future meetings.


There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.