March 25, 2004


CORAKIS REZONING REQUEST - PUBLIC HEARING - NORTH SIDE OF STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-34-205-010, 3905-34-205-020 AND 3905-34-205-051)


A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, March 25, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Deborah L. Everett
Terry Schley
Lee Larson
James Turcott
Mike Ahrens
Kathleen Garland-Rike


Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and there approximately 15 other interested persons.


The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.


The Chairperson called for approval of the Agenda. Mr. Ahrens made a motion to approve the Agenda as submitted. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.


The Chairperson called for consideration of the minutes of the meeting of March 11, 2004. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for discussion on the motion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

CORAKIS REZONING REQUEST - PUBLIC HEARING - NORTH SIDE OF STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-34-205-010, 3905-34-205-020 AND 3905-34-205-051)

The Chairperson indicated the next item on the Agenda was consideration of the rezoning request of Themi Corakis for property located at 7430 Stadium Drive. He noted that the Planning Commission had expanded the zoning request to include Parcel Nos. 3905-34-205-020 and 3905-34-205-051. The Chairperson said the three parcels were currently zoned "RR" Rural Residential and that the applicant had requested "I-1" Industrial District/Manufacturing Servicing. The two additional parcels included by the Planning Commission were also being considered for rezoning to "I-1" Industrial District, Manufacturing/Servicing. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Planning Commission dated March 25, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein.

Ms. Bugge explained to the Planning Commission that the original request from Mr. Corakis involved one parcel approximately 1.4 acres in size, located at 7430 Stadium Drive. She said the other two properties were included at the direction of the Planning Commission in order to consider the remaining "RR" Rural Residentially zoned properties in the area. She said all three parcels which were fronted on Stadium Drive were currently zoned "RR" and had access to sewer to water. She explained that the parcel immediately east of Mr. Corakis' property was vacant and contained approximately 13.5 acres, and while it exceeded the permitted depth-to-width ratio, it was a legally nonconforming parcel. She said the parcel furthest to the east was approximately 5 acres in size, had 183 feet of frontage, exceeded the depth-to-width ratio, but as with the other property, was a legal nonconforming parcel.

Ms. Bugge explained to the Commission and those in attendance that the Future Land Use Map indicated that the properties being reviewed were suitable for industrial uses, the same being west of the commercial uses on the north side of Stadium Drive. She said any residential uses within the "I-1" District were considered legal nonconforming uses.

Ms. Bugge then took the Planning Commission through a review of the surrounding adjacent properties and pointed them out via the use of an overhead display.

Ms. Bugge next took the Commission through a series of seven questions to be analyzed in consideration of the rezoning and provided the conclusions of the Planning Department, the same being as follows:

1. Is the proposed rezoning supported by the adopted Master Land Use Plan?

The Master Land Use Plan classifies this area as Industrial abutting Commercial uses. Through the Future Land Use Map does not and is not intended to depict specific parcel lines, it does indicate Industrial uses in the area both north and south of Stadium Drive, east of 6th Street and 7th Street abutting Commercial uses extending west from 8th Street.

2. Will the proposed rezoning severely impact traffic, public facilities, and the natural characteristics of the surrounding area, or significantly change population density?

The proposed rezoning should not negatively impact the area. Stadium Drive is five lanes in this area, and public utilities are available. No change in population density will occur.

3. Will the proposed rezoning constitute a spot zone granting special privilege to one landowner not available to others?

The three properties abut properties that are zoned "I-1" Industrial and are across Stadium Drive from similarly-zoned property.

4. Is the proposed rezoning contrary to the established land use pattern?

The land use pattern is a mixture of vacant property, residential and industrial uses.

5. If the proposed rezoning is approved, what will be the probable effect on stimulating similar rezoning requests in the vicinity?

The three properties are the last properties in the area to retain residential zoning as all other properties are zoned "I-1" Industrial. Therefore, their rezoning should not stimulate similar rezoning requests in the area.

6. Has there been a change in conditions in the surrounding area which would support the proposed rezoning?

The property across Stadium Drive has developed as Sky King Industrial Park and supports industrial uses.

7. Are adequate sites properly zoned, available elsewhere to accommodate the proposed use?

Property zoned "I-1" Industrial is located to the west and south of the subject properties along Stadium Drive. Additional "I-1" Industrial property exists north and south of KL Avenue west of 8th Street and south of KL Avenue east of 8th Street and also, north of West Michigan east of U.S. 131. The 97 parcels zoned "I-1" Industrial comprise 1,055 acres; of those, 29 properties, 374 acres, are vacant, and 17 are used for residential purposes. Properties under consideration for rezoning contain approximately 20 acres.

Ms. Bugge concluded her report by stating that the Planning Department had sent letters to the owners of the two properties east of the Corakis property. She said a member of the Schiavone family sent a letter supporting the rezoning, but they had not heard from the Fosters who owned the property furthest to the east.

The Chairperson asked Ms. Bugge if the Commission had the option of denying all the rezonings or rezoning one or more of the subject parcels. Ms. Bugge indicated that the Commission had the discretion to deny the request to rezone or rezone all or a portion of the properties.

Mr. Ahrens asked if all the properties were currently zoned Agricultural, to which Ms. Bugge indicated they were currently all zoned "RR" Rural Residential.

The Chairperson asked to hear from the applicant. Themi Corakis and his father, Ted Corakis, introduced themselves to the Commission. Mr. Ted Corakis said he thought the request was self-explanatory in that it was consistent with the Township Master Land Use Plan. He said they expected to tear down the house on the property and wait and see how it might develop in the future.

The Chairperson asked if there were any public comments. Mr. Peter Foster introduced himself to the Commission and explained that he and his family had lived on their property for approximately 50 years. He asked why their property had been proposed to be rezoned and who was going to gain by rezoning the property. The Chairperson explained to him that Mr. Corakis wanted to rezone his property for developmental purposes. Mr. Foster then asked why their property had been included. The Chairperson explained that the Planning Commission, in looking at the initial request, had noticed there were two other properties currently zoned Rural Residential for which the Land Use Plan showed future development to be Industrial and thought it was logical to include the two additional parcels in the request for rezoning in order to bring the entire area into uniformity. Mr. Foster said that he did not really have an objection to the proposed rezoning so long as it did not raise his taxes. Ms. Everett assured Mr. Foster that his taxes were based upon use of the property, not upon zoning, and that the rezoning of his property would not have an effect on his taxes.

The Chairperson called for further public comment, and hearing none, closed the public portion of the meeting. He asked that the Planning Commission view the criteria and deliberate on its decision. The Chairperson called for comments by the Planning Commission.

Ms. Everett asked for clarification from Mr. Foster, and wanted to know whether the Fosters objected to their property being rezoned. Mr. Foster said, at first, he was somewhat concerned, but that, if his property was the only remaining property zoned Rural Residential, he did not want to stand in the way of progress. He said as long as the rezoning would not raise his taxes, he had no objection.

The Chairperson asked if there was a motion to recommend the rezoning. Mr. Schley made a motion to recommend the rezoning of all three parcels from "RR" Rural Residential to "I-1" Industrial District, Manufacturing/Servicing given the report of the Planning Department, and especially in light of the fact that none of the property owners were objecting. Mr. Ahrens seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for further public comment, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the Agenda was the conceptual review of the Dustin Shores Open Space Community. The Chairperson explained to the Planning Commission that the applicant was Brian Hartman, and he was seeking approval for an open space development of approximately 12.5 acres on the south side of Almena Drive, east of 2nd Street. He said the property was currently zoned "RR" Rural Residential and that the conceptual plan review was for an open space community. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her report of March 25, 2004, to the Planning Commission, and the same is incorporated herein.

Ms. Stefforia explained that this was the time for conceptual plan review and have a dialogue with the developer. She explained to those persons in attendance that it was not a public hearing, but simply a chance to introduce the conceptual plan for discussion purposes only.

Ms. Stefforia explained to the Planning Commission that the project would consist of approximately nine homes on 12.44 acres. She said that the open space community was permitted as a special exception use in the "RR" Rural Residential District. She said the Ordinance required a conceptual review by the Planning Commission before a formal site plan was prepared, or a special exception use review was conducted. She also noted that the Planning Commission had authority to grant deviations from the Zoning Ordinance when found to be in keeping with the spirit of the Ordinance. In that regard, she said the applicant would likely request a deviation from the setback provisions to allow the existing barn on the property to continue in spite of its proximity to the proposed new street. Ms. Stefforia then took the Commission through the conceptual plan review requirements of Section 60.580 C.

The property is bounded by Dustin Lake to the east and an unnamed marsh to the west. The low areas of site are proposed as part of the open space.

A statement is provided on the Conceptual Plan indicating that various trees, mainly oaks and other mature hardwoods, exist on the property. No details regarding planned preservation have been present at this point.

No abutting streets will interconnect with this development. Access for Units 1-7 will be from a private street off of Almena Drive. The applicant is proposing that Units 8 and 9 gain access from a private easement from KL Avenue. They are identified as "future lots" on the Conceptual Plan - Phase 2. The proposed access arrangement for those Units is proposed to avoid building a bridge/street through the low area between the marsh and Dustin Lake. The Plan does not provide detail as to whether or not the access to Units 8 and 9 will be by a private drive or a private street built to Ordinance standards.

Each site abuts open space. Approximately 42% of the property will be dedicated open space. Section 60.530 (d) states that open space can be used for low impact recreation, conservation, agriculture or left in a natural state. Staff does not feel that screening or landscaping is necessary for this development.

It is assumed that the existing low areas of the property will be utilized for the storm water management system. Township Engineer approval of the proposed site engineering will be sought following Conceptual Review as the plans become more detailed.

Public water is proposed for Units 1-7. Units 8 and 9 are proposed to be served by wells. Private septic will be used for the individual home sites. Written approval from the Kalamazoo County Environmental Health Division for the wells and septic systems must be provided before the next review step is taken.

The underlying zoning of "RR" Rural Residential allows a density of up to 1.5 dwelling units per acre when public water is provided.

From the Conceptual Plan, it appears that the development is proposed to be constructed in two phases, with Units 8 and 9 making up Phase 2. A development and construction time schedule has not been provided but will be required before the project proceeds to formal site plan and Special Exception Use approval.

The Chairperson, before commencing with the Commission discussion again, explained to those in attendance that this was a conceptual plan review, and an opportunity to dialog with the developer and resolve issues prior to bringing the matter to a public hearing. The Chairperson asked to hear from the applicant.

Brian Hartman explained to the Planning Commission that he currently had a pending sales agreement, conditional upon approval of the open space community by the Planning Commission. He said that he and the property owners were friends, and they had discussed development of the property over the years, looking toward realizing the highest and best use of the property. He said that the area is quite scenic and would be suitable for development, but the property was too beautiful to develop a typical subdivision, and he wanted to develop it in such a way as to preserve its scenic beauty.

Mr. Hartman told the Commission that development of Lots 8 and 9 off of KL Avenue was no longer an option since he could not obtain an easement across the neighboring property. He said, since the easement was not available, they would preserve access between Lots 6 and 7 for development of Lots 8 or 9 at some point in the future, but given the topography, it was not likely that those two lots would be developed any time soon. He said that currently they were focusing on the development of Lots 1 through 7.

Mr. Hartman explained that he wanted to preserve a 100-year-old barn which was on the property, as well as provide a lot for a pre-existing home on the property. Mr. Hartman said it was their intent to stay away from the lowlands in order to preserve the natural features surrounding the lakes and preserve as many trees on the site as possible. He said that the property would be served by a water main, and the Environmental Health Department said that septics would likely be approved, subject to soil borings.

Mr. Hartman concluded by stating that he wanted to go through the application process, even though he was not 100% sure that he would complete the development and might decide to keep the property solely for his personal residence. Ms. Stefforia reminded Mr. Hartman that if he did receive approval, it would only be good for one year and would expire if construction was not commenced. Mr. Hartman said that he understood that time limit, and his financing was only going to be approved for a one-year period as well. He said he would have to make up his mind within that time frame. Mr. Hartman did note that he had three very interested parties in the subject property, and if homes were built, they would likely be in the $600,000 - $1,000,000 range.

Mr. Harris introduced himself to the Commission and said he was working with Mr. Hartman on the development of the property. He said, as a landscape architect, they were very interested in preserving the open space around the lake and providing access around the entire property for a possible future walkway. He explained the proposed design, including an easement between Lots 6 and 7 for possible future development of Lots 8 or 9, which would be subject to DEQ approval. He said they wanted to develop a single homogenous community, and were attempting to develop the site in such a way as to minimize the loss of trees and preserve the scenic beauty of the area.

Mr. Ahrens asked if the road would be public or private. Mr. Harris said it would be a private road developed pursuant to Township standards.

The Chairperson asked if there were any questions or comments of the applicant by the Planning Commission.

Mr. Larson asked the applicant to outline the marshy area or wetlands located on the property. Mr. Hartman and Mr. Harris, using the overhead and site plan, explained where the lake and the lowlands were located on the subject property. Mr. Larson asked if they would be using the lowlands for storm water retention. Mr. Harris said that they would, and that it was permitted pursuant to DEQ regulations.

The Chairperson asked if they were going to look at the application as it was proposed, or whether it would be in one or two phases. Ms. Stefforia said they could place the development of Lots 8 and 9 in a second phase of the development, if they chose.

The Chairperson asked what the time line was for the development of Lots 8 or 9. Mr. Hartman said he simply did not know because they would have to deal with the DEQ, and the development cost to put in the road and the utilities would be quite expensive. Mr. Harris said it would also require putting in some type of culvert or bridge, which would likely put off the development of that property for some time.

The Chairperson asked what the applicant would do with the property if Lots 8 and 9 were not developed. The applicant said it would likely be left as an open space for use by the other property owners in the community.

Mr. Schley said he thought the development proposal for Lots 8 and 9 was quite vague. He told the applicant that when he came in for formal approval, he would need something more specific upon which the Planning Commission could base its decision. He suggested that perhaps they develop Lots 1 through 7 and not seek approval of the development plans for Lots 8 and 9 until he had something more specific. The applicant said he understood, and he would consider that before applying for formal approval.

Mr. Larson asked the applicant what plans he had for a walking trail in the open area. The applicant indicated that it was being considered, but nothing had been decided. He said he would be trimming up the trees in order give the area a more clean, park-like appearance. Mr. Larson then said he understood the applicant was not making any actual physical improvements to the open space, to which Mr. Hartman said that was correct.

The Chairperson asked if the homes would be single-family residential. Mr. Hartman indicated that they would.

The Chairperson asked if the applicant's proposal met the density requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Stefforia said that it did.

Mr. Ahrens said he liked the idea of keeping the barn and would be inclined to grant a deviation to allow the barn to remain.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked what plans the applicant had in place to protect the large trees on the property. Mr. Hartman said that most of the trees were close to the water, and therefore, they would be within the open space areas, and would not be removed. He said that there would be one large tree on Lot #2 which would likely be within the building site area and would have to be removed. He also said that there was one large tree near the barn which might have to be removed at the time that the road was installed. Mr. Hartman pointed out that most of the area on top of the hill was an open field, which would minimize the loss of trees in the area.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if they would be taking out any trees in order to obtain a better view. Mr. Hartman said that would not, and at most what they would do is trim the trees up to allow for a view of the lake. Mr. Larson asked if the trees in the open space would be under the control of the individual lot owner or the association. Mr. Harris said the association would have covenants established which would restrict the cutting of the trees and would limit the loss of trees in this area. Mr. Harris said that an open space like this was far superior to a standard single-family residential development in which the individual homeowner could cut all the trees that he/she wished, resulting in the loss of a substantial amount of tree cover.

Mr. Larson asked if he had drafted the restrictions for the proposed development. Mr. Harris said they had not done so, but that they would be submitting them for comment and review by the Planning Department.

Mr. Schley said he had no concerns at this point. The Chairperson said, looking at the criteria, he thought the applicant's proposal was complete, and that other than the adjustment of the surrounding property owners to a change from what is currently there, he thought the proposal was quite good.

Mr. Ahrens commented that the Township had been encouraging this type of development for quite some time, and he thought it was far superior to the typical cut-and-slash development which often takes place. He thanked the applicant for a very nice presentation. Ms. Garland-Rike seconded Mr. Ahrens comments, and she said she was happy to see someone using the open space concept in such a way to preserve much of the natural features of the property, including the old-growth trees.

The Chairperson noted for those in attendance that, while it was not a public hearing, they certainly wanted to hear comments from the public, and re opened the meeting to public comment.

Ms. Sharon Bowman explained to the Commission that she owned property near proposed Unit #9. She said she thought the proposal would adversely affect her view, and she did not want to see any change. She asked Mr. Hartman if he had actually purchased the property, to which he indicated that he had not. She said that if he lived there for any period of time, he would never consider making the changes he was proposing.

The Chairperson asked if there was further public comment.

Mr. Joel Kirkbird Kirkbride said he owned property southwest of the pond. He said that, while this would hurt his view, he understood why somebody would want to develop the property. He said, if the property was developed, he cautioned the developers against blocking off the pond from the lake, since the pond and lake often balanced each other, and he did not want to see the free flow of waters restricted.

Monique Kabbe said she was the property owner that Mr. Hartman had requested an easement from off KL Avenue. She said she would not grant it because she did not want the proposal to negatively impact her neighbors. She stated that, while her house was far enough away so she would not see the new homes developed, she thought it was a development which would take away much of the open space in the area, and therefore, she opposed it.

The Chairperson asked if there was any further comment. Hearing none, he said the Planning Commission would move on to the next Agenda item.


Comments on Draft of Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Tax Increment Financing and Development Plan

Ms. Bugge reminded the members of the Planning Commission that they had received a copy of the plan at their last meeting. She explained, through the use of a chart, what the DDA was proposing in the way of a market study, theme development study, access development study and other projects. She said the DDA would be finalizing its plan next Tuesday, and suggested if the Commission had any questions or comments, they should provide that input to the DDA.

Commission members thanked Ms. Bugge for a chance to review the plan and thanked the DDA for the opportunity as well. Mr. Schley commented that part of the reason to develop this type of plan was to allow for capture of taxes, which will allow them to do further work within the Downtown Development Authority area. Ms. Bugge concurred, indicating that the studies would likely refine the overall planning proposals in the future which would be implemented through the use of the TIFA funds.

Ms. Everett explained how Texas Charter Township had established its DDA a number of years ago, and had recently begun to carry out improvement projects through the use of the monies captured under the TIFA plan.

Mr. Ahrens asked if they needed any formal recommendation from the Planning Commission. Ms. Bugge indicated that it was being presented for informational purposes only, but if any member wanted to comment, they could do so directly to the DDA Board.

The Chairperson again thanked Ms. Bugge and the DDA Board for the opportunity to review the plan and being kept up to date as to the progress it was making because of the impact on the overall development of the community.

Dias Shuffle

It was the consensus of the Commission to maintain their current seating arrangements.

Ms. Stefforia asked if all of the Planning Commission members want to receive signed copies of the minutes. Some Commissioners indicated that they did, and others indicated they could be dispensed with.


Mr. Schley and Ms. Everett indicated they would not be present at the next Planning Commission meeting.

Mr. Turcott indicated that KVCC was going to be hosting Earth Day, and he recommended people in the community attend.

Mr. Larson said he would like to see the Planning Commission continue to try to reduce the cutting of trees, and reduce the trimming of them as well in order to maintain a habitat for small animals in the area.

Mr. Schley reminded the Commission that they did not have a tree ordinance in place which would control or restrict the cutting of trees. Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the Planning Commission should consider a tree preservation ordinance. Ms. Bugge and Ms. Stefforia both commented that such a policy had been proposed in the past and that implementation of such a policy would be extremely difficult.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other comments, and hearing none, he called for the adjournment of the meeting.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:27 p.m.


Minutes prepared:
April 1, 2004
Minutes approved:
, 2004