OSTLOGOL.GIF (2116 bytes)



June 27, 2002




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, June 27, 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
James Turcott
Mike Ahrens
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

MEMBERS ABSENT: Kathleen Garland-Rike

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney; and approximately 28 other interested persons.


The meeting was called to order by the Chairperson at 7:02 p.m.


Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Agenda, and Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of June 13, 2002. Ms. Everett moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered an item tabled from the meeting of April 25, 2002, which was an application by Steve Taplin and Plainium L.L.C. for special exception use and site plan review of a proposed 6,000 square foot office building to be located in the "R-3" Residence district. The subject property is located at 5787 Stadium Drive and is parcel no. 3905-25-324-010. The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The subject property is Lot 1 of the Plainview plat and contains .9 acres. The property was rezoned from the "R-2" residence district to the "R-3" residence district in July of 2001. At the time of the rezoning, the Planning Commission pointed out to the owner that there would be certain restrictions due to the size of the lot. Mr. Taplin had been comfortable with these restrictions and continued to request the rezoning.

It was noted that the Plainview plat continues to be zoned "R-2" and consists of 12 single-family homes. The plat is recognized as a protected neighborhood in the Master Land Use Plan.

The Planning Commission was reminded that the applicant had initially proposed a 6,000 square foot office building which would contain a bank with a drive-through window and a 24-hour ATM machine. The revised plan indicated a one-story, 6,000 square foot office building containing four 1500 square foot office suites and a 1,500 square foot basement for utility purposes.

The placement of the building met the setback requirements of the ordinance. However, parking spaces had been proposed in the side setback along the west side which is prohibited by Section 23.404(e). The applicant would require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals in order to allow these spaces.

Ms. Bugge discussed the landscaping requirements which she emphasized were at the discretion of the Planning Commission since this is a special exception use. Township staff proposed that at a minimum "C" green spaces, 20 feet in width, be established to the north and west of the site and that an "F", 35 feet wide, green space be established to the south. She suggested an "A", 10 feet wide, green space be established to the east. There was sufficient space to accommodate the suggested planting areas except to the south where changes would be necessary to the amount of proposed paving. Ms. Bugge was concerned that the driveway, loading area and dumpster enclosure intruded into the south green space. She suggested that the loading area be discussed with the applicant for purposes of determining how it related to the office use.

She noted that the fire department would be requiring reconfiguration of access, site circulation and parking. There may be an attendant reduction in building size.

Ms. Bugge noted that specific light fixture details were required and that the applicant should be asked to comment on the need for lighting, other than security lighting, at the site until 9 p.m., six days a week.

Ms. Bugge reported that she had received a letter from an attorney representing a resident within the plat who provided proof of a deed restriction on the property limiting its use to residential only.

Attorney Fred Schubkegel, Jr., was present on behalf of the applicant. He stated that the applicant had reviewed the staff's comments and had made revisions to the site plan in order to meet staff concerns. The applicant provided a copy of the revised plan to Planning Commissioners and Township staff. The Chairperson noted that Township staff generally reviews revised plans prior to the meeting and concern was expressed that Township staff would need to review the revisions proposed by the Applicant.

After some discussion, it was determined that the applicant would make his presentation at which time it would be determined whether the Planning Commission could proceed with the full review.

Mr. Schubkegel emphasized that the building site was 6,000 square feet as opposed to the maximum allowed by the Ordinance which was 10,000. He stated that the building would meet setback requirements, and he felt a variance was appropriate to allow parking within the setback area. Mr. Schubkegel stressed that in his opinion, the green space requirements were discretionary and therefore he urged the Planning Commission to approve the revised Site Plan which showed 30 feet of green space on the south portion of the site with the building set back 52 feet. The dumpster location had been moved to a location more than 35 feet from the property line. He stated that the applicant was in discussion with the fire department regarding the site layout, and he suggested approval subject to fire department approval.

The applicant was also suggesting approval without parking lot lighting. Under the revised plan, only building lighting would be proposed which would be turned off at 8 p.m. The loading area had been removed.

There was a discussion of the paved area to the south of the building which the applicant described as the access to the dumpster. Ms. Bugge felt that the site could be redesigned to move the dumpster further to the north so that there would be a 35 foot wide green space and landscaped area. She emphasized that the size of the building was dictating the number of parking spaces needed and therefore the applicant could alter the size of the building to make it more appropriate for the site. This would allow parking to be accommodated outside the setback.

The applicant described the parking setback variance as minor in his opinion, and Ms. Stefforia questioned the applicant about how the variance was minor given the neighborhood to the south. The applicant had also mentioned other exceptions granted to office buildings in the past. When questioned, it was noted that the applicant referred to the 10th Street office building at which site parking had been located within the setback. Ms. Stefforia stated that this had been allowed in error. Therefore, she felt that error should not be perpetuated.

Mr. Schubkegel emphasized that the owner, Mr. Taplin, had met with neighbors and worked with them on the proposed plan. He further noted that the applicant was working on addressing the private use restriction so as to satisfy the concerns of the title company and the mortgage holder.

The Chairperson expressed concern that the revised site plan did not adequately provide for green space on the south side given the resident located to the south. Further, he was not favorable to the location of the dumpster, which would be near the property line closest to the resident.

Mr. Rakowski questioned whether there would be a berm located on the south side. The applicant's architect indicated that there will be a retaining wall but no berm. However, the retaining wall would not extend to a point between the neighboring home and the subject site.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Mike Tenenbaum, a resident of the plat, stated that the neighbors had met with Steve Taplin a number of times and felt they were getting closer to something acceptable. However, the neighbors had not seen the revised plan. He expressed concern that the neighbors believe that they had an agreement with Mr. Taplin about establishing a berm on the south side of the site. Further, the neighbors felt there had been an agreement to move the driveway entrance to the north. Further, he would like to see more screening and shrubbery on the west line of the site. Mr. Tenenbaum also suggested that the dumpster be moved to the north side of the site. As to lighting, he suggested that any pole lighting within the parking lot be removed.

The Chairperson stated that it seemed the revised plan did not fully reflect the discussions with the neighbors.

Henry Bonnes stated that when he moved to the plat, it was "rural" in nature. He believed that the deed restriction had been wisely placed on the plat by the original developer but that given current circumstances, office use of this site might be the best use. However, he felt there should be revisions to the plan regarding lighting, dumpster placement, and the establishment of a berm on the south side.

Luivi Valero expressed concern about establishing more green space on the south side of the site and moving the dumpster. He also felt the drive should be moved further to the north. In his opinion, this building was still too big for the site in question. He felt that the size of the building did not allow it to blend in with the houses in the area.

Mr. Schubkegel again spoke, stating that the applicant had intended that the berm be added on the south side. Further, it was not a problem to move the drive 10 feet further to the north. Mr. Schubkegel suggested tabling the item to give the applicant a chance to revise the plan and provide it to Township staff for review. The revisions would hopefully meet neighbor concerns and Township staff concerns with the site plan.

Ms. Everett moved to table the item to the meeting of August 22, 2002, with the requirement that the revised plan be submitted to Township staff at least four weeks prior to the meeting. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered special exception use and site plan approval of a proposed 149,551 square foot Wal-Mart store with a 10,584 square foot outdoor garden center. The subject property is located at the west side of 9th Street, south of West Main Street, and involves portions of two parcels, i.e., Parcels No. 3905-14-355-011 and 3905-14-305-013. The store and parking area would be established on a portion of the parcels located in the "C" Local Business district.

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

Ms. Stefforia stressed that the review was limited to the "standard" store and garden center and did not involve the Superstore, i.e., the possible future expansion. She noted that the overall site was 27.5 acres with the southern 7 acres located in the "R-2" Residence district. The storm water retention area would be located on the "R-2" property.

The site would be served by two access points to 9th Street. The Township, MDOT and KCRC are working with the applicant on necessary improvements to the intersection of West Main and 9th Street. A traffic impact study had revealed that dual left turn lanes in every direction would be warranted at the intersection.

The owner of the car wash/detailing facility abutting the property to the north requested that the Township consider a cross access arrangement between the Wal-Mart parcel and his parcel. KCRC had suggested they would not oppose the cross access if the southern-most driveway serving the detailing building was closed. However, MDOT was not in favor of cross access arrangements with the properties to the north. MDOT was concerned that traffic would circumvent the West Main and 9th Street intersection light.

The parking proposed at the site was adequate. Ms. Stefforia noted that loading docks, compactor and transformers "back up" to the 8th Street side of the property. She suggested that the planning Commission consider if the landscaping alone would be an adequate buffer or if a fence or berm in addition to the plantings was warranted.

There is an outdoor display/sales area proposed on the northeast corner of the building for the garden center. The area is proposed to be enclosed with 11 foot tall chain-link fencing. There was also a storage area for tires and batteries proposed on the back side of the building. This area would also be enclosed by fencing.

Ms. Stefforia noted that, other than trees along the southern end of the commercial portion of the site, there were no significant natural features to retain. As to the internal parking lot landscaping, Ms. Stefforia stated that all but two of the parking lot islands contained an inadequate amount of plantings. The applicant had submitted a request for lighting variance which would be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals. In addition, they would be seeking a signage variance.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed the special exception use criteria of Section 60.100. As to whether the proposed use was compatible with other uses expressly permitted in the "C" Local Business district, it was noted that retail sales are a permitted use. The outdoor garden center element had received approval under similar circumstances at Menards, Lowe's and Meijer.

As to whether the proposed use would be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or the general public, Ms. Stefforia suggested consideration of the site layout which directed the rear of the store to the west where residences exist across 8th Street. Further, she noted as to site lighting and sign variances requested, the Township had previously distinguished this area from the Drake/U.S. 131 commercial area in terms of lighting and signage.

With regard to whether the proposed use would promote public health, safety and welfare, Ms. Stefforia noted the 9th Street focus area plan indicated that it was a goal that uses work harmoniously together and that architecture and landscaping be sensitive to both the physical features present and the desire of the citizens to maintain open space in the rural country setting. She suggested that the applicant be requested to use a different exterior building material and color scheme and architectural features that would create visual interest and break up the long walls to be more in keeping with the vision for the focus area. Ms. Stefforia submitted photographs of two different Wal-Marts, one in Cascade Township. This store had a brick facade.

It was noted that the site plan also included a reference to parking lot seasonal display of about 15,000 square feet. Ms. Stefforia stated that parking would not be in compliance with ordinance standard if the 15,000 square feet were used for display. She also stressed that Meijer and Lowe's had been denied display in the parking lot area.

David Oakes was present with his "design team". He also noted the presence of Tim Timmons, the real estate agent for the project, and Alan Enderle, its attorney. Mr. Oakes felt that it was important that the applicant was not proposing an access to 8th Street although the parcel had frontage thereon. He stressed that the applicant was exceeding the ordinance standards for landscaping between the building and 8th Street. He felt that the applicant had taken care to create a large buffer area. The truck dock would be in excess of 100 feet from the right-of-way line. Additionally, deciduous trees had been replaced with evergreens so as to have a year-round buffer.

The applicant was not in favor of cross access with the car wash business due to its discussions with MDOT and KCRC. Based on these discussions, there would be significant roadway improvements paid for by the applicant, including dual left turns around the intersection. Moreover, there would be a signal placed at the main entrance of the Wal-Mart on 9th Street.

Mr. Oakes felt the applicant could address the Township's issues to its satisfaction.

In response to questions from Mr. Turcott, the applicant indicated that they would not be interfering with the existing trees in the right-of-way. However, after some discussion of the proposed loop of the water main system, it was noted that it was possible some trees would be lost in this area. The applicant stated that they would be willing to locate the water line, if allowed, on the interior of their property so as to disturb as few trees as possible in the right-of-way.

Mr. Rakowski expressed concern that the 8th Street residents would be disturbed by the "truck dock" and compactor on the west side of the property. The applicant stated that the trucks would be facing north in order to use the dock. They had suggested evergreens be planted as densely as possible in this area. Further, the applicant would be willing to add a screened fence to further protect and buffer the area.

In response to questions from the Chairperson, the applicant stated the hours of operation may or may not be 24 hours. The loading area would be limited in its use but could be used at any time of the day.

There was discussion of a possible earth berm, but there was a concern that this berm would too greatly affect existing vegetation. The applicant suggested that a more effective screening would be a fence along the edge of the paved area.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell noted that given the elevation of the building, which was higher than the street, and the 26 foot high building, she felt the wall or fence along the paved area would do more than a berm to screen the building from 8th Street. She suggested a fence at the "top of the slope" or the edge of the pavement.

Ms. Everett questioned whether the applicant had considered turning the building so that it faced to the south. The applicant responded that he did not feel that the building would fit in that location and that there was a concern that most parking would be located to the side of the building if it were oriented in this way.

Mr. Ahrens expressed concern that if the store were oriented in this fashion, the residences on 8th Street would be looking at the front of the store. Further, after discussion it was felt that this reorientation would not work and that the parking area would be located along 8th Street, which it was felt would be more disturbing to the residents.

Brian Smallwood, of the design team, expressed that he felt that the property as designed would present the best configuration to screen activity on the site from 8th Street. As configured, most of the activity was taking place on the east side and set the furthest possible way from 8th Street.

There was discussion of the garden center enclosure with the applicant indicating that alternative fencing materials could be used. They suggested a decorative black steel fencing which had the appearance of wrought iron.

The applicant also expressed a willingness to work with Township staff regarding the landscaping and the parking lot islands. They would, however, prefer to place some of the landscaping on the perimeter of the parking lot rather than in the islands. It was felt that packing the island with plantings would result in a "cluttered" look.

There was discussion of the building materials, and the applicant stated that the Cascade store used a masonry material that looks like brick. Ms. Everett expressed that she felt that this building material would be more in character with the area. The applicant expressed a willingness to use this material.

Mr. Rakowski suggested use of a sidewalk in front of the property. The applicant indicated that they did not want to establish a sidewalk that lead nowhere.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Lee Larson, a North 8th Street resident, had questions regarding the plan and how much "earth moving" would be done. He was concerned about altering the natural drainage pattern of the area and drying up the existing pond. He was also concerned about traffic generation and lighting from the site bleeding onto his property. He suggested a vegetative sound wall be placed along 8th Street. He wondered whether the "green spaces" along 9th Street could be placed on the west side.

The applicant's engineer stated that the storm water system would be an "infiltration pond" which would discharge the storm water back into the ground. The applicant had received the appropriate approvals from MDEQ for the proposed project as shown. The engineer stressed that the drainage would not be a problem at the site; storm water would be put into catch basins and then directed into their system.

Attorney Lowell Seyburn was present on behalf of Shashin Kothwala, the owner of the Crystal Car Wash to the north. His client was interested in cross access. He noted that the car wash when built had established a cross access with the storage facility. He stated his client was willing to close the southern drive if suggested by KCRC. They felt that cross access would benefit both properties. Further, it was felt the elimination of the south drive on the car wash property would eliminate possible conflicting turning movements with the medical office across the street. Ms. Stefforia clarified the Road Commission position, which was that they might not oppose the cross access but indicated that MDOT was not in favor of cross access. The Township Attorney stated that the applicant could not be forced to submit to cross access, and she felt the issue was moot.

Jim Worline spoke, stating he felt the applicant should clearly understand that the site was not large enough for the Supercenter store without rezoning and that the rezoning was not granted. He had questions regarding the storm water retention area, and it was noted that this area would have a four-to-one slope which was described as "gentle" and could be mowed. Mr. Worline expressed appreciation for the design of this site. He felt that the additional landscaping and fencing offered by the applicant were "good ideas".

Helen Brodasky had questions with regard to the special use.

April Pashby, a North 8th Street resident, expressed concern about the large parking lot display area. She was also concerned about noise control, particularly the noise from the compactor. The applicant stated that the trash compactor would be run from the inside of the building and completely enclosed. Ms. Pashby also suggested a noise wall. Additionally, she expressed concern about the lighting variance proposed by the applicant. She was concerned about the possibility that grading and trenching would contaminate her well. She felt that the proposed use would generate traffic problems on 8th Street.

Pam Larson expressed concern about living across the street from Wal-Mart. She had questions concerning placement of the evergreens in a more natural fashion. Further, she wondered whether the plantings could be of a more native species. She was also concerned about light pollution and felt the 1,000-watt fixtures proposed by the applicant were outrageous.

The applicant indicated they would consider natural or native plants.

Tom Brodasky had questions concerning the number of lanes which would be established at the intersection.

Michael Pashby also expressed concerns about lighting and sound at the site.

Martin Svihra expressed his concern about the site, noting that he is a 4th Street resident and can already see glare from the 9th Street area. He felt the Township should stick to its ordinance.

The public hearing was closed, and in response to questions from the Chairperson, Ms. Stefforia stated that if landscaping elements "died", they must be replaced according to the ordinance.

The Chairperson reviewed the site plan review criteria of Section 82.800. There was discussion of the possibility of cross access, and Mr. Rakowski expressed that he did not see that it would be a benefit. In his opinion it would be a concern from a traffic safety standpoint.

The Planning Commission considered the building and structure locations. There was discussion of the "sound wall", and the applicant stated a willingness to establish a sound wall in the area of the dock and trash compactor. A screening fence could be established the remaining length of the property. The applicant suggested that it be established at the edge of the pavement and turn the corners at the end of the north and south sides thereof.

There was discussion of the proposed fencing around the display/garden center area. Again it was described as black metal picket fence 11 feet tall.

The applicant withdrew its request for the seasonal sales area in the parking lot, stating that he realized it would not be approvable.

In response to questions from Mr. Rakowski, the applicant stated there would be no outdoor PA system.

As to the enclosure of the tire area, the same black metal fencing would be used and one wall would be enclosed.

Regarding the landscaping of the parking island, it was the consensus of the Planning Commission that the larger islands proposed by the applicant were satisfactory. Planning Commissioners were also satisfied with the additional plantings, so that the numbers were sufficient under the ordinance and could be established on the south line of the parking lot, east line in front of the green areas, and along the entry drives.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell suggested that the applicant work with the staff regarding diversity of planting species. As to lighting, Planning Commissioners agreed that, in their opinion, the Zoning Board of Appeals should not grant a variance to the site. There was discussion on the exterior building appearance. Given its location near 8th Street, existing buildings across 9th Street, and the goals of the 9th Street focus area, Planning Commissioners felt that the applicant's alternative brick-appearing material would be better than the standard Wal-Mart building. There was a suggestion that the applicant also consider revisions to the architecture so as to create visual breaks along the wall.

After discussion of Section 60.100, Mr. Turcott moved to approve the special exception use permit for the garden center and deny the parking lot seasonal display area. It was found that the criteria of Section 60.100 were met concerning the garden center and the approval was subject to the revision of the fencing of the garden area as suggested by the applicant, i.e., the use of black metal picket fencing no taller than 11 feet in height. Final approval of the fencing was subject to staff review. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell moved to approve the site plan with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) That access to the site be as proposed by the applicant, i.e., two access points on 9th Street. No cross access was approved or required.

(2) That landscaping on the west side of the site be revised to establish a vegetative sound wall the length of the truck dock and compactor area and that screening fencing be continued on either side of the sound wall the length of the paved portion of the site and turn the north and south corners thereof as proposed by the applicant. Final design was subject to review and approval by the Township staff.

(3) That the fencing of the garden center and tire storage areas be revised as discussed by the applicant with use of black metal picket fencing a maximum of 11 feet in height, final design to be approved, with pictures of graphics of proposal to be submitted by the applicant to Township staff.

(4) That no seasonal display was permitted in the parking area.

(5) That a final landscaping plan be submitted to Township staff for review and approval, reflecting variation in species planted as well as use of native species and a more natural arrangement, especially along the west property line. Parking lot landscaping was to meet total amounts required by ordinance. Site landscaping must be installed consistent with the landscaping approved by the Township staff prior to a certificate of occupancy being issued or a performance guarantee must be provided to the Township pursuant to the provisions of Section 82.950.

(6) That all lighting meet ordinance standards unless variance is granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

(7) Approval is subject to the review and approval and conditions imposed by the Township fire department.

(8) Approval is subject to the review and finding by the Township engineer that proposed site engineering is adequate.

(9) That the design of the building be altered to use building materials with a brick material similar to that used in Cascade Township or other material approved by Township staff and that architectural suggestions, approved by staff, be added to the design to provide a "visual break" for the long walls.

(10) That the applicant was encouraged to consider establishing pedestrian circulation/sidewalks on site and on the site's perimeter.

(11) That a hazardous substance reporting form and environmental permits checklist had been provided to the Township.

(12) Any trees to be saved along the west property line, including those inside the right-of-way, would be relocated on the plans.

Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. Mr. Rakowski suggested adding a condition that no outdoor PA system be permitted. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell and Mr. Ahrens agreed.

The Chairperson asked for public comment on the motion, and Pam Larson stated that she encouraged use of native plants with wildlife value as part of the landscaping plan.

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


Ms. Stefforia reported that the Township Board would conduct a special meeting on July 30 at 6 p.m. to discuss the agricultural and rural residential text change and rezonings.

She also reported that she had been requested by an applicant to add a parcel to the July 25 rezoning public hearing. The parcel was adjacent to the Happytail Kennels parcel and was the site of the former Sherwood Place nursing home. The applicant was requesting rezoning from the R-4 district to the "C" or "C-1" zoning district classifications. Planning Commissioners concurred that this parcel should be added to the public hearing.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 11:10 p.m.


Stanley Rakowski, Secretary

Minutes prepared:
July 1, 2002

Minutes approved:
, 2002