November 4, 2004


Revised Pursuant to November 18, 2004 Planning Commission



A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, November 4, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairman
Deborah L. Everett
Lee Larson
James Turcott

Kathleen Garland-Rike
Mike Ahrens

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Catherine P. Kaufman, Township Attorney; and approximately 25 other interested persons.


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


As the first item of business, the Chairman called for the approval of the Agenda. There was no discussion on the Agenda, and a motion was made by Mr. Turcott, seconded by Mr. Larson to approve the Agenda as submitted. Upon vote, the motion was unanimously approved.


The Chairman indicated that the second item on the Agenda was consideration of the application of Charlie and Willie Wicks for a special exception use and site plan review for a proposed dog kennel at 8171 West KL Avenue, Parcel No. 3905-21-430-011. The Chairman indicated that this item had been tabled on October 14, 2004, and that this item would be removed from the table. The Chairman then asked the Staff to present their report from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented the report dated November 4, 2004, for the Staff, on behalf of the Township, and her report is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge noted that this is a special exception and site plan review request. The SPCA, (the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), a nonprofit organization, was requesting a special exception to operate a kennel at the property at 8171 West KL Avenue. The subject property site is a ten-acre parcel located on the south side of KL Avenue. The Wicks are the owners of the property, and they want to allow the SPCA to use an existing stable on their property for a dog kennel. Three feet would be added and enclosed on the outside of the existing stable, and a fenced, cement exercise area would be built adjacent to the stable as well.

Also, attending the meeting tonight with the applicant was a veterinarian representing the SPCA to discuss disease management at the kennel, an SPCA board member to discuss the organization and its philosophy, and the manager of the existing SPCA kennel, which is located in Schoolcraft Township.

At the previous meeting on October 14, 2004, the Planning Commission had requested additional information on this issue, and that information was being provided tonight by the applicant. The Planning Commission had specifically requested additional information regarding noise abatement, waste removal and the management of the kennel when the Wicks were out of town, which was noted as absentee ownership.

Ms. Bugge noted, regarding noise concerns from the proposed kennel, that there is a Township Anti-Noise Ordinance, and the applicants stated that they intend to fully meet the requirements of that existing specific Anti-Noise Ordinance.

With regard to waste water, the applicant had noted they have an existing septic field for the stable, which currently serves an apartment which is uninhabited and attached to the stable. That septic system will be used instead for the animals at the kennel and any septic waste for the apartment would be redirected to the Wicks' septic system that is located adjacent to their house.

With regard to absentee ownership, the Wicks provided information regarding monitoring options that could be adopted to ensure that the kennel was run appropriately in their absence.

Ms. Bugge presented the special exception criteria as contained in the Zoning Ordinance and discussed these criteria with the Planning Commission. First, with respect to "Is the proposed use compatible with the other uses expressly permitted within the "RR" Rural Residential Zoning District?", Ms. Bugge noted in her report that, when adopting the Rural Residential District, the Planning Commission recognized it was appropriate to allow kennels on some properties. At the same time, the Township eliminated kennels as permitted uses in the "C-1" Commercial District, which further supports this use in the Rural Residential District.

Second, with respect to, "Will the proposed use be detrimental or injurious to the use or development of adjacent properties or to the general public?", Ms. Bugge noted that the surrounding properties are used and zoned for residential purposes. She noted that the Wicks' property abuts a 70-acre property on two sides, and she noted that the keeping of animals is common in the Rural Residential District. She noted that the kennel is on the southeast corner of the Wicks' property, and that the applicants are proposing to modify the building to ensure that it conforms to the Township Anti-Noise Ordinance. She also stated that the dogs will be contained within the building, except when they are taken outside for supervised exercise.

With respect to the third criteria for a special exception use, "Will the proposed use promote the public health, safety, morals and welfare of the community?", Ms. Bugge noted that the applicants intend to add three feet and enclose the west portico of the stable building to provide 12 to 14 interior, climate-controlled dog runs, thereby helping to reduce outside noise. Ms. Bugge said that the applicant intends to fully comply with the Township Anti-Noise Ordinance. Additionally, Ms. Bugge said that outside fencing would be installed and access for the dogs would be through the kennel building into the outside fenced and gated exercise area. Fencing will be six feet high. Last, Ms. Bugge stated that a septic system for kennel waste water will be provided. The applicants have submitted a Groundwater Discharge Authorization Application to the State for review. The State permits discharge to occur once the application is submitted. This application would be renewed every five years if the discharge was to remain in the range of greater than 50 gallons and less than 1,000 gallons per day.

With respect to the fourth criteria, "Will the proposed use encourage the use of the land in accordance with its character and adaptability?", Ms. Bugge noted that the proposed use will utilize the existing horse barn, portico and paddock. Changes that will occur to the site include the remodeling of the barn, cementing an area for outdoor exercise and fencing portions of the yard. Ms. Bugge also noted that the keeping of up to nine dogs on unplatted property is a permitted use within the Township. Furthermore, the keeping of up to one large animal, including horses, cattle and swine, or other similar animals is permitted per acre, as well as the keeping of one small animal less than 200 pounds is permitted per one-quarter acre. Aside from the dwelling and barn, the rest of the property appears heavily-wooded.

Ms. Bugge passed photos of the property which included the location of the Wicks' house, as well as the location of the barn, and noted the relationship of this property to other surrounding properties.

With regard to site plan review, Ms. Bugge said that access to the site would be from an existing driveway off West KL Avenue, and it was not anticipated that the use would generate traffic anymore intense than a similar residential use.

With regard to using the existing building on the property, the applicant proposes to renovate the existing building to accommodate the new use. No new buildings are proposed.

Ms. Bugge noted that changes to the site for the project consist of remodeling the stable and adding a three-foot extension, enclosing an outside portico on the west side for dog runs and fencing of the areas. Many of the existing trees on site would not be disturbed.

With respect to parking, the applicants propose to provide parking on the existing circular drive, which would have more than adequate space to accommodate the parking needs of the volunteers who will assist with running the kennel.

Ms. Bugge noted that no variances are requested. However, the applicants request a deviation from Section 68.300 C, which requires paved driveways and parking facilities for certain uses, excluding single-family dwellings. The existing driveway is gravel and unpaved, and the applicants request a deviation per Section 68.600, to allow the existing gravel driveway to remain unpaved. The drive is approximately 350 feet long and serves the existing dwelling in addition to the proposed kennel. Ms. Bugge reiterated that the applicants seek a deviation from the paving of this driveway.

Ms. Bugge also noted that the Fire Department has reviewed and is satisfied with the site plan. Storm water would be handled naturally on site. She further stated that the site plan and use must be reviewed pursuant to special exception use criteria to ensure that the public health, safety and welfare are not detrimentally affected by the project. Ms. Bugge said that the applicants have submitted a Hazardous Substances Reporting Form and the Environmental Permits Checklist. The applicants are also submitting a Groundwater Discharge Authorization Application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality so as to notify the State about their potential waste water discharge. Ms. Bugge noted in her report that approval of a site plan should be subject to submitting the groundwater Discharge Authorization Application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and maintaining the notification if required.

Ms. Bugge concluded her report and then informed the Planning Commission that 16 letters had been received by the Planning Commission in favor of this special use and site plan request and that one letter against the special use and site plan request had been received. Ms. Bugge distributed three letters to the Planning Commission for their review as being representative of the letters received in support or against this request.

The first letter she distributed was from Carol Segerdahl, who lives to the east of the Wicks' property, in support of the request. The second letter she submitted was from David Littke, who lives west of the subject property and is opposed to the project. The third letter she submitted to the Planning Commission was from Bill Eaton in support of the request.

Ms. Bugge then displayed for the Planning Commission's review a proposed building elevation, and this concluded her report.

The Chairman asked Ms. Bugge where Carol Segerdahl lives, who provided the Commission with a letter in support of the Wicks' request. Ms. Bugge noted that Ms. Segerdahl lived one property to the east of the Wicks, not the immediately adjoining property, but one property removed to the east. The Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Bugge. Being there were no questions from the Commission, the Chair called upon applicant Wicks to provide any information he had for the Planning Commission.

Charlie Wicks appeared before the Commission and noted, at the last meeting, he was unprepared and he apologized. He noted that, upon his review of the minutes of the October 14th meeting, 33 concerns were raised, and he had grouped those 33 concerns into five areas. Mr. Wicks provided a handout to the Planning Commission to aid his presentation. Mr. Wicks noted that, in his opinion, the five areas of concern that had become apparent from the October 14th meeting were as follows:

1) Facility and noise abatement concerns;
2) Waste removal concerns;
3) Absentee ownership concerns;
4) Disease and safety concerns; and
5) Kennel management concerns.

Mr. Wicks noted for the Commission that this was not a pole barn. He provided a picture of the existing stable and displayed it for the Commission's review. He again stated this is not a pole barn; it is a 2,000 square foot horse barn with an apartment attached in the front. Their proposal was to bring the portico out three feet and enclose it, hopefully preventing noise. They propose a cement interior run area with radiant heat laid in the cement. In the back of the existing barn building the horse doors would be removed and enclosed, and an outside cement area of 30' x 50' in size would be provided for the dogs for exercise, which would be enclosed with fencing. Mr. Wicks noted this was not a typical pole barn building. Instead, it was a barn that was constructed with 8-inch walls, 2' x 6' framing, 16-inch centers and was well built at the time for horse barn use. He noted that, while concrete blocks are typically used for kennels because it is easier to keep them clean, the construction of this building would allow for improved noise abatement measures. Mr. Wicks also noted for the inside dog runs, galvanized metal would be put up to three feet higher above the floor to keep the runs clean and to keep the dogs enclosed.

Commissioner Everett asked why cement will be used for the exercise yard. Mr. Wicks responded that the use of cement cut down on mud and dirt. At that moment, from the audience, the Director of the SPCA, Jim Delaretto, noted that cement was used for the exercise yards to improve sanitation because concrete can be washed and bleached for sanitation, while wood chips and other substances cannot.

Mr. Wicks continued his presentation regarding noise abatement. Mr. Wicks noted that with dogs barking, the noise was generated in three manners: (1) the intensity of the noise, how loud the dogs barked; (2) the frequency, how often they barked; and (3) the duration, how long they barked for. Mr. Wicks stated that sound is measured in decibels, and that a three decibel change in sound is noticeable to the human ear. Mr. Wicks referred to the outline he distributed to the Planning Commission and reviewed different levels of sound and their decibel levels, such as average street noise, 70 decibels; a large dog barking at 50 feet, 72 decibels; a lawnmower five feet away, 86 decibels; a car horn, 97 decibels; inside a dog kennel, 108 decibels; and a shotgun, 130 decibels.

Mr. Wicks noted that it was his responsibility to provide the sound proofing necessary to maintain the requirements of the Oshtemo Charter Township Anti-Noise Ordinance outside the kennel. He noted that he would make all attempts to do that. He does not want to create noise, and assuming the animals will be inside 23 hours a day, he felt this was a task that was achievable. Mr. Wicks noted Township Ordinance No. 214.003, the Anti-Noise Ordinance, and Ordinance 214.004, the Noise Ordinance in a residential zoning district which limits sound from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 55 decibels, and from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. at 50 decibels, as measured at the boundary of the property under single occupancy.

Mr. Wicks displayed a sound pressure measuring meter and noted his business was the sound business. He would be able to self-test and would do so regularly to ensure that there were no Noise Ordinance violations occurring on site. Mr. Wicks noted he had 400 consultants at his disposal who distribute the products he developed for noise, and 1,600 contractors use them in 65 countries. He was confident that he would be able to provide appropriate noise abatement measures for the proposed kennel so that it did not become a nuisance and was in compliance with Noise Ordinance standards for the Township. He noted that he understood he could be cited and could possibly lose the kennel approval if there were Noise Ordinance violations.

Chairman Sikora asked where the dogs would be walked when they were outside the fenced area. Mr. Wicks responded that they would be walked on the property if allowed so by the Planning Commission.

Commissioner Everett asked how many dogs will be walked at one time outside on the property. Mr. Delaretto of the SPCA answered one to two dogs being walked at a time, because there were two volunteers that would be coming per shift.

Commissioner Larson asked if the inside of the stable would be finished with insulation. Mr. Wicks responded that, at this time, it was plywood, and there would be a finished layer laid over the insulation once the insulation was installed.

Mr. Wicks then continued his presentation, speaking regarding the ABC's of noise control - absorbing the noise, barriers for noise and composites of the two for noise management.

Mr. Wicks then discussed waste removal concerns. Mr. Wicks noted that human and animal wastes require different septic systems. Animal waste is handled by the DEQ, and human waste is handled by the Kalamazoo County Health Department. Mr. Wicks noted in his report that the existing barn has a habitable apartment, so that it qualifies as a domicile; waste from that domicile must be sent to an acceptable septic system. Mr. Wicks said that they plan to disconnect the barn's apartment's sewer pipe from the existing septic tank at the barn and redirect it to the home's septic system 100 feet west. Mr. Wicks noted that the decommissioned septic system at the barn would become part of the new waste water removal system for the kennel. The kennel's waste water flow was designed so as to cause waste water to run to the existing system. Mr. Wicks also noted that, although the plans were to clean the kennel area daily with a low-flow, high-pressure system requiring very little water, which he believed would use under 50 gallons a day, the Wicks had applied for a Groundwater Discharge Authorization Permit for 50 to 1,000 gallons a day from the State DEQ in order to show their intention to comply, if necessary. A copy of the application was enclosed with the package submitted to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Wicks noted that he had discussed this application with Steve Norton of the Michigan Office of the DEQ, and while he is unsure if the kennel need a permit for more than 50 gallons a day, they have applied for one to show good faith. If, upon monitoring the daily use of waste water at the kennel, it is determined that they are not using more than 50 gallons a day, they will not reapply for the license. Mr. Wicks also noted they will be using calcium hypochlorite to clean the kennels, which he contends is more effective than bleach. Mr. Wicks also noted that the barn's well is further than 50 feet away from the barn's septic system, and the barn's septic tank is farther than 100 feet away from the nearest property line. Mr. Wicks also noted that solid animal waste will be picked up by the volunteers and disposed of in waste management containers provided.

With respect to the concerns regarding absentee ownership, Mr. Wicks noted that he understands he is responsible for the safety and security of the kennel, and he is accountable regardless of whether he is in town or out of town. He understands that the Planning Commission had questions regarding the SPCA's ability to care for and manage the facility while the Wicks are out of town. In order to provide assurances on how that security could be managed while they are out of town, Mr. Wicks provided the following information.

The construction diagrams enclosed show that it is virtually impossible for a dog to escape the kennel. Additionally, Mr. Wicks noted that there are different monitoring systems that could be used by him to be able to keep track of what is going on at the kennel even if he is not on site at the property. Mr. Wicks noted that ADT, who has provided him with his existing security system for 15 years, can attach sensors to the kennel to let him know when the door is opened or closed. They can also let up to ten other people know if a volunteer does not show up at the appropriate time at the kennel. Additionally, this type of monitoring system by ADT could alert people if there is a rapid increase of heat (in case of fire) or cold (if the furnace was not working). Mr. Wicks would be able to set the parameters perimeters, and ADT would provide the service accordingly.

A second option regarding monitoring would be to provide security with web cameras and a computer. Mr. Wicks could monitor this, as could SPCA volunteers from different locations. Monitoring would not be automatic, but would cost significantly less than a year with the ADT service, which would be quite expensive. Mr. Wicks also noted he has one neighbor who is willing to be the "go-to-person" if they needed to have someone close to the property that would be responsible. This person has indicated he would be willing to be responsible for contacting the police, fire department or SPCA management in the event of an emergency.

Mr. Wicks continued by stating that the SPCA is made up of professional people who are very serious and committed to their mission. Mr. Wicks felt the situation would be managed wisely and appropriately in his absence from the property.

Mr. Wicks again introduced Jim Delaretto, Director of the SPCA. Mr. Delaretto addressed the Commission, and noted that the SPCA was organized here two years ago. Its purpose was to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home homeless animals. Their main operations concentrate on getting animals from the pound, and saving those animals before they were euthanized. There are 100+ regular volunteer members. Some members take animals into their private homes. The SPCA wants to save as many animals as possible, and Mr. Delaretto noted that the Wicks' gift of the use of their property is extraordinary. It is a generous offer to the community, and it will increase the well-being of the community, for both humans and animals, if the kennel is allowed to be placed on the Wicks' property. Mr. Delaretto noted there is no shortage of interested adoptees to adopt the animals the SPCA saves, and that the SPCA serves all of Southwest Michigan. He noted that, since their formation two years ago, they have saved over 2,000 animals in the last 20 months. While they are an all-volunteer organization, the SPCA feels that they have established a good management structure within the organization and good processes. They have experienced volunteers that run the kennels. Mr. Delaretto referenced their kennel in Schoolcraft Township. It is not a winterized kennel, and therefore, it cannot be used in the winter months when the need for kennel space for the SPCA is the greatest. Mr. Delaretto noted that extra good can be done for Southwest Michigan if this kennel is allowed in Oshtemo Charter Township. He noted that he was available to answer questions from the Commission regarding the SPCA and the current request.

Mr. Wicks next addressed the security details that would be needed on the site and how the dogs would be prevented from getting out and roaming free. Mr. Wicks presented to the Commission a sample of a fence panel, which was six feet high, No. 9 gauge wire. This material would be the fence used for the outside of the perimeter and inside fencing, and all areas would be fenced. Mr. Wicks explained there would be a three-fence system used at the kennel.

Chairman Sikora asked, would the fence be installed on top of concrete, or would the dogs be able to dig underneath? Mr. Wicks responded yes; the fence would be installed on concrete.

Mr. Wicks continued addressing security concerns by noting that the animals chosen for adoption by the SPCA are chosen by experts for demeanor and their adoptability. The SPCA does not take all animals. Mr. Wicks then presented a flow sheet that indicated how kennel management would run between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and then again between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. He discussed again the monitoring systems that were available, either web cams monitored by the SPCA or an ADT system. Mr. Wicks discussed the specific checks and balances of the kennel system and explained the flow sheet to the Planning Commission regarding volunteers' times to check in, and if they do not check in, how the monitoring system would work to ensure that someone is notified so that the kennel could be serviced if a volunteer fails to show up. Mr. Wicks noted that volunteers will be able to run the kennel and perform the kennel responsibilities, and it is not a complicated or demanding system.

Mr. Turcott asked Mr. Wicks regarding the initial selection of dogs. Mr. Delaretto of the SPCA responded by stating that the SPCA does not take all animals available. They have trained volunteers who temper test the animals, and that they only take healthy and adoptable animals. No marginal animals will be taken by the SPCA. Mr. Delaretto discussed their rating system for animals, rating between one and four, and noted that only animals rated ones or twos were taken by the SPCA, and would, therefore, be housed at the proposed kennel at the Wicks' property.

Mr. Turcott asked if the animals to be housed at the Wicks' property would be traumatized or violent. Mr. Delaretto responded by noting that animals coming out of a shelter are often under stress and have suffered trauma. They may be frightened or disoriented. The design of the proposed kennel would have concrete blocks between the kennel spaces so that each dog would have their private space and be able to be in an atmosphere that is not threatening or traumatizing.

A question from the audience was asked without permission of the Commission. The question was, who is getting the special use, the SPCA or the Wicks?

Mr. Wicks continued his presentation by noting that ADT can monitor the proposed kennel for a charge. Additionally, a neighbor has volunteered to be responsible when the Wicks are away. Mr. Wicks noted again the SPCA kennel in Schoolcraft Township and presented to the Planning Commission several letters from neighbors of the SPCA kennel in Schoolcraft Township regarding the kennel's operations in Schoolcraft Township. Mr. Wicks noted that staffing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is unaffordable, and that no existing kennels or vets are required to have 24-hour staffing.

Mr. Wicks continued by discussing possible diseases from the dogs that people were concerned with at the previous meeting. Mr. Wicks introduced Dr. Cathy Eckler, who is a veterinarian and an SPCA volunteer. Dr. Eckler addressed the Commission, discussing measures as to how the kennels would be cleaned and how the animals would be kept healthy. She noted that all dogs taken by the SPCA are vaccinated, wormed and given flea control measures. She noted that the SPCA reviews animals for temperament and disease before taking them. The animals will be contained within the kennel or within the cemented exercise yard. The kennels will be cleaned and disinfected daily, and she did not have any concern regarding the kennel for disease. Dr. Eckler also noted that she is a commercial kennel owner herself.

Mr. Wicks then introduced Bill King, who is a SPCA volunteer and kennel manager of the Schoolcraft Township kennel facility. Mr. King noted that the SPCA is an all volunteer organization. They have procedures they follow which are equal to those used at professional commercial kennels, although they are nonpaid volunteers.

Ms. Bugge noted that she had contacted Schoolcraft Township, and there were no complaints regarding the existing kennel in Schoolcraft Township.

Chairman Sikora then thanked Mr. Wicks for his presentation, and called for public comment on this issue.

Kimm Geniac lives adjacent to the Wicks, immediately to the east. She asked if the special exception goes with the land, and expressed concern that if the land is then sold, the kennel existing on site may not be run to the standards that the SPCA has laid out this evening at the meeting, and would not have to be bound by those requirements. Attorney Kaufman noted that the special exception and any conditions attached to it would run with the land.

Bob Geniac, spouse of Kimm Geniac, who lives immediately adjacent to the property, complained that he was unable to get the meeting notes from the last meeting. He did not get them until that night immediately before the meeting. Ms. Bugge indicated that she provided them to the best of her ability to Mr. Geniac.

Mr. Geniac noted that the existing stable building was not in good shape and was uninhabitable. Mr. Geniac stated that it is a very old building and needs to be re-roofed. Mr. Geniac noted that his son had lived in the apartment in the Wicks' stable at one time. Mr. Geniac asked, if this special exception use was granted, does this proposed kennel have to also go through building department review, or would they not have to have building department review. Mr. Geniac asked what is the licensing requirement for kennels, do they leave animals alone overnight and is this allowed, and would the applicant get preference for variances from the building codes? He also asked, are all the animals totally safe.

Dr. Eckler, on behalf of the SPCA, responded that the animals are vet checked, vaccinated and flea controlled before being placed in the kennel.

Mr. Geniac asked, will the animals get out?

Mr. Wicks responded again regarding the three-fence system and his opinion that it would be almost impossible for an animal to escape from the three fences. Dr. Eckler noted that they never had a dog escape at her kennel that she ran, and she had a similar three-fence system in place.

Mr. Geniac noted that he would like the Planning Commission to consider the public health and safety and their responsibility if something goes wrong with the kennel. Attorney Kaufman noted that no variances or exceptions to the building code would be accompanying this special exception use. Attorney Kaufman explained what a special exception use was, and that a special exception use only allowed a use as detailed in the Zoning Ordinance, if certain criteria were found to be applicable by the Planning Commission. There would be a normal process for the building application, and nothing would be varied or changed from Building Code requirements by the granting of a special use approval.

Mr. Geniac asked, would the dogs be walked on the property with leashes? He felt this was a health, safety and welfare concern, given that he has children on his property, and he is concerned for their safety. Mr. Geniac also noted that the existing stable building is 30 years old, and he felt that a 108 decibels, which was the level of sound cited for being inside a kennel by Mr. Wicks, is very, very loud. Mr. Geniac also asked, what happens when the volunteers cannot control the dogs, and the dogs get too loud? He also asked, what would happen if a dog had a bad temperament and was unpredictable? Mr. Geniac noted that the security system makes it more appropriate and more acceptable. However, how would that be monitored when the Wicks were out of town? Mr. Geniac had questions regarding a commercial dog kennel, and he asked, what would be the number of dogs allowed, and could those dogs also have puppies?

The SPCA stated that there would be no puppies allowed on site. Mr. Geniac said he would like documentation regarding this.

Mr. Geniac then asked, at the base of the three-fence system, would it be concrete? Mr. Wicks responded, yes; it would be concrete.

Mr. Geniac asked would there be adoption available at this facility, and what would be the maximum number of people there during the week? Mr. Wicks responded that no adoptions would be allowed on site and that two to three volunteers would be present at the site, at the most, at any time.

Mr. Geniac stated that he did not feel, in his opinion, that this proposed kennel was residential in nature, and they should not have to have commercial activities in this rural residential area. Mr. Geniac noted that the landfill nearby was going to redevelop and this trend toward commercial, in his opinion, could be dangerous. Again, he asked the Planning Commission to consider the public health, safety and welfare of the community with respect to the age of the building, the volunteer nature of the organization and that the Wicks would not be on the property at all times.

The next member of the public to speak was Carol Segerdahl. She noted that she lives on the other side of the Geniacs. She has 32 acres of property. She has lived there for 17 years and was there before the plat that was recently developed across KL Avenue, as well as before several others who have spoken tonight. She is thrilled with the proposal; she is not afraid for the health, safety and welfare of the community, and she is in support of the proposal.

Next, Sherry Wilson, who is a six-year resident of the area, said she supports the project and feels it is a needed service in the community.

The next person to speak was Bill Eaton, who is a SPCA Board member. He runs the South Portage Shelter and is also a member of the Animal Control Advisory Board for Kalamazoo County. Mr. Eaton commented on the temperament of the dogs that would be in the kennel at the Wicks' property. He noted, if an animal is vicious, sickly or skiddish, the animal would be euthanized. He also noted there are very few diseases a human can contract from a dog; it is not an easy thing to happen. Diseases that occur with the animals at the existing kennel are dealt with quickly and are limited.

The next speaker from the public was Roy Richardson, who lives at 704 Autumn Way. He wanted to know, what would happen in the future, once the special exception is approved, several hundred feet from the road, could it then become a commercial kennel, or could it move more forward to KL Avenue and become a commercial use such as a pet shop? Mr. Richardson likes the rural nature of the area, and is concerned if the kennel is allowed far off from the main street, would sales be allowed? Mr. Richardson continued by asking, what prevents the future commercialization of this area. He noted, as a builder, would they have to comply with all the code requirements? He also asked, who regulates the issues of vaccinations, dog licensing and the number of dogs? In response to Mr. Richardson's questions, Vickie VanDenBerg, an SPCA volunteer, replied that the Michigan Department of Agriculture regulates kennel licenses. Mr. Bob King of the SPCA also noted that Kalamazoo County issues kennel licenses.

Ms. Stefforia indicated that, if a kennel was granted special exception approval on the property, that approval would run with the land, and it did not matter if the SPCA was running the kennel or if another commercial entity was running the kennel. Ms. Bugge explained that the special use would be governed by the approval conditions put on it, as well as the site plan. Therefore, a building could not be moved up to the street, and retail sales would not be allowed, unless the special use was modified appropriately.

The next member of the public to speak was Dave Hershberger, who lives on Winterslope, across from the Wicks' property. He stated that he agreed with some of the previous speakers that he had noise concerns. He is also concerned regarding commercial development spreading west along KL Avenue. Mr. Hershberger is opposed to commercial development extending west along KL Avenue.

Mr. Geniac spoke again and asked for a definition of kennel, and could you sell things at the kennel? Planner Stefforia responded no; retail sales are not allowed and that boarding, breeding and raising of animals constitutes a kennel.

The next speaker was Willie Wicks, the co-applicant on the proposal. She noted that she is a 15-year resident of the area and of that property, and has experienced development as it has occurred along KL Avenue. She notes that there are dogs in the area that are hurt and need care. Mrs. Wicks also said that, when the SPCA raises sufficient funds to build their own building, the Wicks will stop using the kennel.

The next speaker was Bob King, SPCA Board member. He noted, with people's concerns regarding exotic animals that will be allowed in the kennel, that there are serious limitations on exotic animals by Kalamazoo County.

Hearing no further public comment, the Chairman closed the public hearing at 8:30 p.m. Next was Planning Commission discussion on the proposal.

Commissioner Larson said that the presentation answered several of the questions he had had regarding the effects of the proposed kennels on neighbors, and he appreciated the information provided by the applicants.

Chairman Sikora noted that the presentation was thorough and addressed his concerns regarding animals becoming violent, and whether or not this use was appropriate in the Rural Residential Zoning District.

With respect to the second criteria of special exception review, development on adjacent properties, Chairman Sikora explained that the stated purpose of the Rural Residential Zoning District references "semi-rural areas" that are not suitable for agricultural because of poor soil conditions or fragmented land, but which are also not suitable for traditional subdivisions because of utility system limitations, street capacity, topography or other natural features. It was Chairman Sikora's opinion that this proposed kennel would not adversely affect the surrounding areas.

With respect to the third criteria of special exception use review, promotion of the public health, safety, morals and welfare, Chairman Sikora thought that the applicant had adequately addressed public health concerns. Good information was presented, and he did not feel that the proposed kennel would be a safety issue. He also felt that it would promote the public welfare for the area if this type of service was provided, not only the Oshtemo area, but the overall Kalamazoo County area. Commissioner Everett agreed with Chairman Sikora's point on this matter.

With respect to the fourth criteria of special exception use review, encouraging use of the land in accordance with its character and adaptability, Mr. Larson said that he felt the proposed kennel would not negatively impact the surrounding area.

With respect to site plan review, Mr. Larson asked, would there be a sign? Ms. Stefforia responded that a sign would be permitted, but one is not proposed. Mr. Wicks stated that they did not want to have a sign. Commissioner Everett said, with respect to the applicants' request for a deviation so they did not have to pave the driveway, that it was appropriate to allow the driveway to remain gravel as it was in character with the surrounding developments, and she would support granting a deviation to do the same. She did not think there would be any more traffic generated than a typical residential use, and therefore, the driveway did not need to be paved. Chairman Sikora agreed that this should not be a problem.

Commissioner Turcott said, in his opinion, the applicant had addressed all the concerns from the last meeting.

Chairman Sikora called for additional comment from the Planning Commission. Hearing none, Chairman Sikora called for a motion on the matter.

Commissioner Everett made a motion to grant the special exception use for the proposed kennel. Commissioner Turcott supported. There was a call for public comment on the motion, and being none, the motion was called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.

Chairman Sikora then called for a motion on site plan approval. Commissioner Everett made a motion to grant site plan approval, along with a deviation from the paving requirement, subject to fire department approval, a Groundwater Discharge Permit Application to be submitted to the DEQ, and maintenance of the same, if required. Commissioner Turcott seconded the motion. The Chairman called for public comment on the motion, and having none, the motion was called. The motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Everett noted she would like to amend the special use approval to provide for conditions as discussed at that night's meeting. Attorney Kaufman advised that Commissioner Everett should amend her motion for approval of the special use request as desired, and seek a second if appropriate. Commissioner Everett then made a motion to amend the approval of the special use request to include the following conditions:

(1) No sign;

(2) No more than 21 dogs at the kennel facility at any one time;

(3) Subject to the noise abatement proposals as submitted that evening by the applicants in their report;

(4) Subject to the waste removal proposals as submitted that evening by the applicant in his representation;

(5) Subject to the provisions regarding absentee ownership and management of the facility as submitted by the applicants that evening in their report.

(6) No adoption event shall occur at the facility.

(7) Self-monitoring of the facility shall be provided by web cams as proposed by the applicants.

Commissioner Turcott asked if the flow chart used in the presentation by the applicants was that process used for monitoring the kennel in Schoolcraft Township. Mr. Wicks answered no. Mr. Larson referred to the ADT alarm system. Chairman Sikora asked whether the Commission would like to require the ADT alarm system in the motion. Mr. Larson responded no. Commissioner Everett noted that her motion included self-monitoring with web cams as presented. Chairman Sikora noted that he preferred self-monitoring with web cams. Ms. Everett noted that neighbors had volunteered to watch over the facility, and she was comfortable with the self-monitoring with web cams as discussed. Chairman Sikora noted that he also felt it was appropriate for self-monitoring. Attorney Kaufman asked for a clarification in the motion of the system to be used. Again, the motion was clarified to indicate that self-monitoring of the kennel would be performed with web cams. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The Chairman called for public comment on the motion.

Laura Raher, from the audience, asked for clarification of the number of dogs at the facility. Mr. Richardson, from the audience, asked for the number of dogs allowed on the property. Ms. Stefforia answered, 21 dogs were being allowed in the kennel, with an additional nine permitted on the property. Therefore, this would mean that, while 21 dogs could be allowed in the kennel, the Wicks could also maintain nine of their own dogs on the property.

The motion remained on the table by Commissioner Everett as seconded by Commissioner Turcott. The motion was called for a vote. The motion passed unanimously.


The second item on the Agenda is a deviation request of Michael Chojnowski to allow a nonconforming parcel to be buildable. The property is 5370 West Main Street, Parcel No. 3905-13-255-060, zoned "C" Local Business District. Ms. Stefforia submitted the Planning Department's report , and the same is incorporated herein.

Ms. Stefforia noted that this building is being proposed for remodeling for a Starbucks coffee facility. She noted that a deviation is requested from dimensional criteria so that the nonconforming parcel would be buildable. Ms. Stefforia referenced the new Section 66.203 of the Zoning Ordinance that allows the Planning Commission to grant deviations from parcel dimensional requirements, if the parcel meets minimum dimensional criteria for a platted lot, certain other criteria are met, and the spirit of the foregoing dimensional criteria provisions are still observed, public safety, health and welfare are secured, and substantial justice is thereby accomplished. Ms. Stefforia noted that this is the first request the Planning Commission will consider under Section 66.203.

Ms. Stefforia noted that on February 26, 2004, the Planning Commission did grant a dimensional deviation for the subject property, subject to the parcel having no direct access to West Main Street. Specifically, this deviation required that the existing driveways on West Main would have to be closed off. In June, 2004, the Planning Commission was asked to reconsider the conditions placed upon the deviation granted in February, 2004. While no action was taken in June, the Planning Commission did direct the Planning Department to advise the applicant that, while they did not want to approve two driveways on West Main Street, a single drive with just one access point to West Main Street may be acceptable. Ms. Stefforia indicated that the Township Attorney had stated, in June, 2004, that this was a reasonable compromise.

The site plan submitted this evening for the Planning Commission's review does include one drive onto West Main Street. Ms. Stefforia addressed the criteria for granting a deviation as follows.

First, the parcel had to be established prior to March 31, 1997, and is not considered a lawfully nonconforming lot, pursuant to Section 66.205. Ms. Stefforia noted that this lot was established prior to March 31, 1997, and after October 4, 1965. She noted that the parcel was existing in 1971.

Second, with regard to satisfying the minimum dimensional requirements of a platted lot as set forth in Section 66.201, Ms. Stefforia noted that the minimal dimensional requirements for a platted lot with sewer and water in the "C" Local Business District, are 13,200 square feet of area and a width of 120 feet. The subject property has an area of 25,600 square feet and 160 feet of width. The minimum dimensional requirements of the platted lot are met.

With regard to the third criteria, the dimensions of neighboring, lawfully nonconforming properties would support said deviation. Ms. Stefforia noted that both the McDonalds and Firestone parcels are nonconforming as they do not meet the dimensional requirements for a parcel, 50,000 square feet. However, they do meet the 200-foot frontage requirement.

With respect to the fourth criteria regarding this deviation, the Planning Commission is given the right and authority, in furthering the public health, safety and general welfare, to require any or all of the following as a condition of granting a deviation - requiring the conveyance or dedication to the public of a 66-foot-wide right-of-way for ingress and egress to and from interior land (not applicable in this case), shared and/or cross access with adjacent properties (not applicable in this case), and restricted or prohibited curb cuts when the Access Management Guidelines cannot be satisfied and reasonable access is otherwise unavailable. With respect to this criteria, the subject property is located in the front of Maple Hill Mall and is owned by the same party, Kimko Realty. It is currently served by two drives from West Main Street and the Mall interior circulation drive may be accessible through the adjacent parking lot, via an easement. Additionally, the site is in close proximity to two existing Mall driveways. One is 86 feet from the east property line, and the other is 250 feet from the west property line. Township Access Management Guidelines require that driveways along roads with a 45 m.p.h. speed limit, be spaced a minimum of 230 feet, measured center line to center line. The proposed single driveway on West Main, as depicted on the site plan, would not satisfy these Access Management Guidelines, but would be close; it would not be 230 feet from center line to center line. Instead, it would be 210 feet from one side to the next center line, and 300 feet on the other. Therefore, Ms. Stefforia indicated that the proposed single driveway would be very close to compliance with the Access Management Guidelines. Ms. Stefforia further explained that the proposed single driveway would represent a better configuration than the current two existing driveways on West Main Street. Ms. Stefforia said that MDOT has reviewed and would approve the proposed driveway configuration. In addition, Ms. Stefforia noted that, if the deviation is granted by the Planning Commission, Ms. Stefforia would perform an administrative site plan review on this project.

Ms. Everett asked what the current driveway configuration was, and would this proposed driveway overlap the existing driveway configuration at any point. Ms. Stefforia answered that part of one of the existing driveways would be encompassed in the new driveway location.

Mr. Larson said that the proposed site plan presented to the Commission that evening complies with what he envisioned the last time they reviewed this site; it is perpendicular to West Main Street, and is located as far as possible from the eastern Mall driveway.

Ms. Everett stated again it was her opinion this was a reasonable compromise.

The applicant, Michael Chojnowski, indicated that his client had already been before the Planning Commission two previous times. He had conferred with Ms. Stefforia, MDOT and his client regarding the proposed site plan. He noted his client had two factors concerning this site that needed to be addressed - first, how to justify investment on the site and second, they had to have access from West Main Street. If direct access to West Main could not be retained, that was a deal breaker. Mr. Chojnowski acknowledged that the proposed site plan is not perfect and appreciates the Township's desire to close curb cuts on West Main Street. He also stated that the proposed site plan before the Planning Commission that evening is an effort to compromise, and he felt it was a workable solution. He said that this would be a good project and will continue upgrading that area of West Main Street near the Maple Hill Mall.

The Planning Commission Chair called for public comment. Hearing none, the public hearing was closed. Ms. Stefforia noted that the motion to grant a deviation could have conditions. Therefore, Ms. Everett made a motion that the deviation be granted, subject to consolidation of the driveways as proposed on the site plan presented to them, dated 10/5/04. Mr. Larson seconded the motion. The Chairman called for public comment on the motion, and hearing none, called for a vote. The motion was passed unanimously.

Planning Commissioner Comments

The Chairman asked if there was other business for the Commission, and hearing none, the Chairman asked if there were any Planning Commissioner comments.

The Planning Commission congratulated Neil Sikora on his election to the Township Board and Deborah Everett on her re-election.


The Chairman asked if there were further comments, and hearing none, Ms. Everett made a motion to adjourn the meeting, which was seconded by Mr. Larson. Upon vote, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:05 p.m.


Minutes prepared:
November 9, 2004
Acting Secretary
Minutes approved:
, 2004