OSTLOGOL.GIF (2116 bytes)



March 13, 2003






A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, March 13, 2003, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Lee Larson
Kathleen Garland-Rike
Deborah L. Everett
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
James Turcott


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 7:04 p.m.


Ms. Stefforia suggested that an item be added under "Other Business", i.e., a discussion of an amendment to the "I-1" text. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of February 27, 2003. The Chairperson suggested a change to page 8 to correct a typographical error. Ms. Everett moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on a Township Staff-initiated rezoning of 36 properties in the Century-Highfield area from the "R-2" and "R-3" Residence Districts to the "R-4" Residence District.

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

Ms. Bugge stated that the item had been requested by Township Staff. The recommendation of Staff to rezone the 36 parcels in question was based upon the consideration of the effect of the proposed Rental Housing Registration Ordinance then being considered by the Township Board. The rezoning would recognize the current use of most properties in the area. However, the Rental Housing Registration Ordinance had not been adopted by the Township Board. The definition of family adopted under the Zoning Ordinance would impact the subject area by rendering the use of the properties as nonconforming, but it would be "grandfathered". The Planning Department Staff suggested tabling the item for a reasonable amount of time to determine if the Township Board might reconsider the Rental Housing Registration Ordinance.

Mr. Larson moved to table the rezoning public hearing to the meeting of July 10, 2003. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion.

The Chairperson asked for public comment on the motion.

Ted Corakis stated that he saw no need for the rezoning until requested by owners.

Chiman Patel, a resident of the area, stated that he believed many people stayed in the area because they could not afford to move. He noted that owners in the Century-Highfield neighborhood had invested in their homes and did not want to see rezoning. He was concerned about the effect of student housing in the neighborhood, and he felt that the Township should act to protect its residential neighborhoods.

Mike Fleckenstein noted that he was a property owner in the area. He stated that he thought his lot line included the street right-of-way.

Gladys Ahrens, a Highfield resident, stated that she was not in favor of rezoning. She felt the residents had suffered too much from student housing. She urged the adoption of the Rental Housing Ordinance, stating that the effects of student housing had been shown in the Century-Highfield neighborhood. In her opinion, "no one wants to buy in this neighborhood". She felt that, if this could happen to the Century-Highfield neighborhood, it could happen in any neighborhood.

In response to some questions from Ms. Ahrens, the concept of "grandfathering" under the Zoning Ordinance was discussed.

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


The Planning Commission reviewed Draft #1 of proposed amendments to the Township Access Management Plan. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the Access Management Plan had been adopted in 1991. The Township had experienced tremendous residential and commercial growth, as well as street extensions, widenings and reclassifications since that time. Ms. Stefforia stated that most of the changes in Draft #1 were "factual" based on updated statistics. However, she had identified several policy areas for consideration by the Planning Commission to be incorporated in Draft #2.

She requested that the Planning Commission provide input on "future widenings/extensions", and that the Planning Commission should provide input on "future traffic signals". Ms. Stefforia suggested that the Planning Commission also provide comment on driveway closures/consolidations and limits on future drives. She also asked for Planning Commission input on designating additional service drives and/or frontage road locations.

There was a discussion of Item #3 under "street network improvements/signalization". Future street network developments and improvements included widening of South 9th Street from a two-lane to a five-lane roadway. Ms. Stefforia stated that the area from Seeco Drive south to Stadium Drive along 9th Street was proposed in the 2025 KATS Long Range Transportation Plan.

Ms. Garland-Rike felt that such a widening was not necessary and was "overkill". Mr. Larson stated that he would also object to such a widening. It was the consensus of Planning Commission members that the Township should not support a widening by having this reference in the Access Management Plan. However, it was recognized that the widening may occur whether or not it is supported by the Township.

Ms. Garland-Rike also expressed concern about the widening of Drake Road from West Main north to "H" Avenue to a five-lane roadway. It was the consensus of the Planning Commissioners that this point, i.e., #6, should be amended to allow the reference to widening, but remove the reference to "five-lane" roadway.

There was discussion of proposed signalization changes, with Mr. Turcott suggesting consideration of a signal at Stadium and Quail Run. There was also a suggestion for a possible signal at the intersection of Venture Park and Stadium Drive. Ms. Stefforia stated that she would inquire as to which signal might be more likely to meet signalization warrants and include this signal in the next draft.

Planning Commissioners also discussed adding, as a project improvement, the widening of Maple Hill Drive and a possible signal on Maple Hill Drive at the entrance of Evergreen North.

Ms. Stefforia made reference to the "new section" that she had included on the second half of page 13. This section had been added concerning proposed closures and consolidations, as a result of a suggestion made by a MDOT engineer at a seminar attended by Ms. Stefforia. Planning Commissioners concurred that an additional area on West Main from 9th Street to 7th Street should be added as a possible closure and consolidation area.

Planning Commissioners reviewed Figure 7 concerning planned service drives and frontage road locations, and they concurred that the Figure currently represented those areas where the Township should consider encouraging planned service drives and frontage road.

Ms. Stefforia indicated that she would present the changes in Draft #2.


The Planning Commission considered an outline of proposed changes to Section 75 concerning landscaping. The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

There was a discussion of the proposed amendment to Section 75.130 B. There was some confusion regarding the language concerning greenspace based on zoning across the street and the proposed change with regard to this requirement. Planning Commissioners agreed that the item would be again reviewed in Draft #1.

As to Section 75.140, it was agreed that the provision should be revised so as to require more definition of parking areas by landscaping and allow for a better traffic flow. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell suggested changes to Section 75.200 to require that certain existing trees be shown on landscaping and site plans.

With regard to Section 78.520, there was a consensus that the reference to use of native grass seed mixtures would refer to the proposed "mix" and not to the mix used by the Drain Commissioner.

Mr. Turcott suggested that the Township Staff be active in attempting to obtain compliance by business owners with landscaping provisions when parking lots are milled and resurfaced. Ms. Stefforia agreed that the Township could achieve better compliance by sending a letter to business owners prior to the commencement of their projects.

It was agreed that Draft #1 would be submitted at a future meeting.


The Planning Commission first discussed scheduling a public hearing concerning rezoning of certain properties in the Quail Meadows development from "R-4" Residence to "R-3" Residence District zoning classification. The proposed Master Land Use Plan Amendment was necessary for this rezoning. The Township Board had previously granted approval to pursue the amendments and schedule a public hearing.

Additionally, a rezoning request had been received for two properties at 8th Street and Stadium Drive. The request was to rezone from "R-2" and "VC" to "R-4" Residence District. This request also triggered a Master Land Use Plan Amendment. The Township Board had also approved the Planning Commission's request for permission to send a notice to neighboring communities concerning this item.

Mr. Larson moved to schedule a public hearing on the two rezonings and Master Land Use Plan Amendment No. 2003-01 for April 24, 2003. Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

It was noted that the Township Board had approved the distribution of proposed language amending the Neighborhood Commercial provisions of the Zoning Ordinance and those amendments concerning Neighborhood Commercial proposed in the Master Land Use Plan Amendment No. 2003-02. Mr. Turcott moved to schedule a public hearing for June 12, 2003. Mr. Larson seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Stefforia submitted a report, which is incorporated herein by reference, concerning a proposed amendment to the "I-1" Industrial District zoning classification. The Township Staff is suggesting an amendment to allow office buildings in the "I-1" Industrial District on legal, nonconforming (i.e., grandfathered) parcels that do not meet the minimum area criteria. Such offices would be allowed as a special exception use. Currently, only those offices traditionally related to building trades are allowed. It was reported that there are five properties that are substandard and grandfathered as to minimum area requirements. Proposed language was reviewed.

Ms. Everett moved to schedule a public hearing for April 10, 2003, on a new Section 41.406 to allow freestanding office buildings on legal, nonconforming substandard lots as a special exception use. Mr. Larson seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

As "Other Business", Ms. Stefforia presented a report concerning a proposed text amendment regarding sign setbacks and tenant wall signs. Ms. Stefforia stated that, after a review of the sign provisions of the Ordinance, Township Staff was aware of two areas where amendments seem to be necessary and appropriate. One concerned freestanding sign setback requirements, and the other concerned the number of wall signs allowed for tenants.

As to freestanding sign setback, the Township Staff had concluded that, with a 20-foot greenspace required along arterials and highways, it was appropriate to allow freestanding signs to be located in that area rather than within a 25-foot setback area. It was recommended that the setback be reduced from 25 to 10 feet from the public right-of-way line. This would allow the freestanding signs to be placed in the greenspace rather than the parking lot.

As to tenant signage, it was noted that, for example with regard to those near Wal-Mart, some tenants may wish to establish signage on the "back" of their suite. It was suggested that Section 76.170 be amended to provide for one wall sign per exterior wall of tenant premises up to a maximum of two.

Mr. Turcott moved to schedule a public hearing for April 10, 2003, and Ms. Garland-Rike seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Garland-Rike made note of an article concerning trailways and bike paths in Portage. It had been reported that initially there was opposition, but that these had "worked". Moreover, studies show increased property values as a result.

Mr. Turcott provided a notice concerning an urban sprawl seminar.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary
Minutes prepared:
March 18, 2003
Minutes approved:
, 2003