Meeting Minutes

OCTOBER 23, 1997






A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, October 23, 1997, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Marvin Block
Ted Corakis
Millard Loy
Lara Meeuwse
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

Members Absent: Ken Heisig

Also present were Rebecca Harvey (after 7:40 p.m.) and Mike West of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and approximately fifty (50) other interested persons.


The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m.


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


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of October 9, 1997. Mr. Block moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.



The Planning Commission considered amendment to the Township Zoning Ordinance concerning the 9th Street Focus Area Overlay Zone. The text amendment would include consideration of the amendment of the Township Ordinance to define Section 11.309 "Height, Building." Further, the addition of Section 50.000 regarding the Overlay Zone would be considered. In addition, the Planning Commission would consider the boundaries for the overlay zone along West Main Street and KL Avenue.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. The Chairperson summarized the background of the item. He noted that 9th Street had been expanded north from KL to West Main. The Master Land Use Plan identified this area as "sensitive." As a "focus area," a committee was created which made a recommendation as to a plan for this area to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission reviewed the recommendation, conducted public hearing and made its own recommendation to the Township Board. The adoption of the Focus Area Development Plan by the Township Board made the plan a part of the Master Land Use Plan of the Township.

The Chairperson discussed the general boundaries of the 9th Street Focus Area. He noted that the development plan included a number of implementation ideas. Some of the tools, at the time of the adoption of the plan, had not yet been created. Subsequently, therefore, the Township adopted the Open Space Community text and the Planned Unit Development text as ways to implement the development plan.

The Township had received three applications for rezoning in the 9th Street area in early 1997. One request suggested rezoning to the "C" Local Business District along West Main near DeKorne's. Near 9th Street and KL Avenue, there was an application for rezoning as well. The third application concerned rezoning to the "R-5" District south of the Country Club plat. The Planning Commission had recommended denial to the Township Board. The Township Board requested the Planning Commission consider "R-3" zoning for the parcels; "R-3" zoning allows small offices which are compatible with residential development. The Planning Commission concluded that the "R-3" zone included some uses which would be compatible or consistent with the Focus Area Development Plan. However, the Planning Commission also concluded that the "R-3" District lacked certain standards necessary to achieve access management and coordinated design. Therefore, the Planning Commission recommended that "R-3" zoning not be used to implement the plan. Nevertheless, it was recognized that certain parcels in the area could not be developed under the Open Space or Planned Unit Development due to their size. Therefore, the Planning Commission had decided to consider whether a text could be created which would allow for office development consistent with the Focus Area Development Plan. The Planning Commission had drafted this text as an overlay zone. The Chairperson explained the concept of an overlay zone. He noted that it did not change the underlying zone but allowed certain development options as long as the developments adhered to certain design standards so as to insure compatibility.

The Chairperson reviewed the proposed text, noting the office development within the overlay zone would be a special use rather than a permitted use.

After discussion of the text, the Chairperson discussed the proposed boundaries of the overlay zone area which had been described for purposes of noticing as the area on the south side of West Main from the medical center east and to a depth of 1,320'. Also, an area along KL Avenue, between 9th Street and the mobile home park, to a depth of 1,320' was noticed for public hearing.

The Chairperson noted receipt of a letter from Edward Sharp dated October 13, 1997. The Chairperson summarized this letter for the record. The letter is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Harvey arrived.

The Chairperson stated that the Planning Commission was not considering any rezoning, noting that no application to rezone from "R-2" to "R-1" or from "R-4" to "R-2" had been received or noticed for hearing. The Chairperson stated that the Planning Commission recognized the desire to protect the viability of existing residential areas. The Chairperson stated that the Master Land Use Plan and Planning Commission sought to provide all reasonable protection.

The Chairperson also summarized a letter of Earl Dalzell dated October 23, 1997, which is incorporated herein by reference. Mr. Dalzell stated in the letter that he felt the overlay zone would constitute a taking in that its standards were too restrictive.

Further, an undated letter received from a Mr. Rohlfs and Mr. Campbell is incorporated herein by reference. The Chairperson, in response to the letter, stated that there was no intent to limit development in this area strictly to office space. Again it was noted that the development options available under the "R-2" District, including Open Space and PUD development, would still be applicable. The Chairperson further explained that the design criteria for the overlay zone was intended to address the unique features of the 9th Street area. There was discussion of the fact that the availability of sanitary sewer in the area had been a concern.

The Chairperson noted the letter of Jack Hamilton dated October 2, 1997, which questioned why the area north of West Main had not been included for consideration in the overlay zone. The Chairperson responded that the Planning Commission at the present time considered that the zone should be applied to the south side of West Main and that an applicant could submit a request for consideration on the north side; this would not be prohibited. Mr. Hamilton's letter also expressed concern about the availability of sewer and water in the area. The Chairperson noted a letter received from the Township Engineer which stated that "sewer on 9th Street is not confined to the 9th Street District." The Engineer and Ms. Harvey both stated that the sanitary sewer in the area was large enough to accommodate the 9th Street Focus Area. However, extension from existing sewer lines might have to be made, which is typical of development. The Engineer's letter stated that the sewer in the area has the capacity to be extended east of West Main Medical. Further, the sewer line could be extended south to Country Club plat.

Mr. Hamilton's letter asked how the extension of sewer lines could be financed, and the Engineer's letter was referenced, stating that there were many available options. The Chairperson stated he felt that this question should be addressed to the Township Board. The Chairperson noted that the opinion of the Township had been in the past that certain types of development require certain infrastructure. Therefore, when the Master Land Use Plan's

9th Street Focus Area Development Plan had been adopted, it required sewer and water to serve nonresidential development within the area.

The Chairperson opened the meeting to public comment, stating that, due to the number of people present, comments would be limited to three minutes per person. The Chairperson stated that, after all who wished to speak had been given an opportunity, previous speakers could be heard again.

Francine Schwartz, a Lodge Lane resident, stated that she had resided within the Country Club Village plat for a long time. She did not want the high quality of life in the area disrupted. She felt that the overlay zone development would increase noise, crime, etc. Additionally, she did not feel that the depth of the zone should be 1,320' but rather 660'.

Ken Bertolissi, owner of property on the north side of West Main and near DeKorne's, stated he felt that the overlay zone should not require public sewer and water. He stated he was on the focus area committee and had felt that the committee concluded that development should be allowed with public sewer or water or with a private system as long as the Health Department approved the system. He stated his recollection was that the Engineer of the Township had indicated that the sewer could not be extended from 9th Street more than 600' to the east. Mr. Bertolissi was also concerned about the setback requirements for buildings and signage. He felt that signage needed to be visible.

Sue Mellinger stated she resided near the "edge of the property being discussed." She strongly opposed the overlay zone and stated that, if at all, it should only be to a depth of 660'.

Mike Turmaat, a Lodge Lane resident, stated he was concerned about preserving the neighborhood and the property values therein. He expressed concern that the overlay zone would discourage further residential development but advocated 660' of depth in preference to 1,320' so that there was a "buffer" for the neighborhood.

Jack Hamilton stated he felt that the height restriction of 25' was too limiting for commercial office development. Further, he felt that sewer and water should not be required as long as County Health Department's approval for a private system was obtained.

Ed Sharp, a Country Club Village resident, referred to the September 11, 1997, minutes of the Board concerning the issue of the depth of the proposed overlay zone. He noted that the Country Club Village residents support restricting the depth to 660'. He stated that the plat residents did not want to "harm properties around them" but did not want the development of properties around them to inflict harm on the village. He felt that a depth of 660' would allow a buffer zone between the overlay zone and the plat. He commented he felt that the overlay zone eliminated the "protections" offered by the "R-2" District. After the Planning Commission's previous concerns that topography would limit development in the overlay zone if a depth of 660' were established, he stated he had reviewed contour maps which indicated no problems which would limit development.

Gordon Stocking stated he operated a farm on KL Avenue. He expressed that he had some of the same concerns as the plat residents as to the consequences of the overlay zone.

Richard Benjamin, a Country Club Village resident, expressed concern for the entire Township, stating that he felt the Country Club Village is a fragile neighborhood which should be protected. He felt that surrounding the plat with office development would "destroy the neighborhood." He felt that the Township should manage development in a way that would satisfy the residents. He felt that reasonable standards for restricting development were necessary.

Pat Zacharias stated opposition to the overlay zone. She was concerned that the overlay zone would allow "so much" development near the Country Club plat. She felt that the Walnut Woods development had had a negative impact on the area. Traffic congestion was already a problem, in her opinion.

Lou Zacharias questioned why the sewer had been constructed with such limited capacity along 9th Street. The Chairperson explained the history behind the sewer project, noting that the extension had been funded by the Meijer development.

Kathy Gasper expressed that she has an interest in property on West Main and is a real estate professional. She noted that residents had been concerned for their property values when the Meijer project was proposed. She felt that there was market evidence that the residential property in the area did not suffer a decline in value due to the Meijer project. In her opinion, the development of offices in this area would not harm property values either. She felt that without the overlay zone property owners along West Main would not have reasonable use of their property. However, she was concerned that sanitary sewer would not be available to her property on West Main.

William Sisco of Country Club Village stated he had chosen to live in the area because he "liked" it. He felt that the area was rural and rustic at this time and felt that the overlay zone would destroy the character. He recognized that property along West Main and KL Avenue would not likely develop as single-family homes. However, he felt that too much land area was being proposed for the overlay zone.

Jim Herweg stated he appreciated the concern of the residents of the Country Club Village plat. However, he noted that the Master Land Use Plan of the Township envisions that this area will include single-family, multi-family, office and a commercial development mix. He felt that the goals set forth in the plan were "achievable." He stated he believed that a "buffer" was needed between the overlay zone and the plat, however.

Steve Dysterhoff stated he had been attracted to Oshtemo Township because of its attempt to "stop urban sprawl." He felt that the overlay zone would be a "zoning change" and that it was a way for developers to get around existing zoning.

Bob Copeland, a Country Club Village resident, stated he had chosen the area because of its character. He felt that the overlay zone would only benefit developers at the expense of home owners and families. In his opinion, a study of the impact on land values should be conducted prior to adoption of the overlay zone.

Earl Dalzell commented that he had not tried to develop or rezone his property for over 30 years. He had preserved the land in the area. He noted that the Country Club residents had not been willing to petition or pay for sewer line extension in order to protect the groundwater in this area. He was disturbed by the suggestion that he should give the plat a 100' buffer on his property. He noted he did not ask them for 100' of their property. In his opinion, any development he might create would not harm the plat. He also noted that he believed that Country Club residents were trespassing and dumping on his property. Mr. Hamilton agreed, noting that trespassers and dumping from the plat were also a problem on his property.

Ed Sharp again spoke, stating that a depth of 660' from the road right-of-way was recommended. He, too, recognized that the area along West Main and KL Avenue was not likely to develop with single-family residences.

Mr. Bertolissi again spoke, stating he did not want to develop his property in such a way as to negatively impact that Country Club plat. He described how he had purchased his property from the owners of a "strip" of property that abutted the Country Club plat. Plat lot owners had purchased the strip as a buffer behind their property.

Shawney Sisco noted she had purchased her property after the buffer strip was purchased.

Charles Bommerscheim was concerned about where the traffic would go from the overlay zone and a possible connection to Lodge Lane. The Chairperson noted that this was not being proposed and was not suggested by the Master Land Use Plan.

Casper VanderVeen, a 10th Street resident, stated he could see the overlay zone "jumping" to the north side of West Main, and he was not in favor of this.

Gretchen Baher was concerned that subsequent Planning Commissions might consider special uses or office development differently. She was also concerned about what could be included in an accessory building. The Chairperson noted that subsequent Planning Commissions would follow the Master Land Use Plan and ordinance text in considering any applications.

Gerard Pahl felt that the area should remain "R-2" and should not be changed to allow for office development.

Lou Zacharias commented he felt that the overlay zone was "too vague."

Mr. Sharp again spoke, stating that the current proposal for a depth of 1,320' would create office development abutting Country Club plat, which would be detrimental to the property owners. He noted that the owners within the area had previously submitted petitions to the Planning Commission, requesting impact studies be made for the area. He noted that the information he had with regard to crime rate indicated that the crime rate was highest where there was a mix of residential, commercial and office development.

Ken Bertolissi again spoke, stating he believed the Planning Commission and Township should not only protect the residents but all property owners.

Richard Mahoney stated that he felt the focus area was supposed to protect the unique character. He felt that PUD development was the way to protect the character. In his opinion, the overlay zone "lowered" the requirements for development in the area, and he felt the Township should stick with the PUD and try to attract a major developer to the 9th Street area.

Mr. Bertolissi stated that, in his opinion, the Township should not want development under the PUD. He felt it was more advantageous for the plat if small development were to occur.

Mr. Alvi stated that residents of the plat had assumed the property in the area was residential when they purchased their property. Similarly, developers purchased property knowing its residential zoning and character. He felt that commercial developers were now lobbying for something that they did not purchase at the expense of residential owners. He felt that the Planning Commission should consider what was the "optimal separation" between residential and commercial development.

Bill Bacon commented he felt that the overlay zone was like a "fox in a chicken coop."

Ed Sharp again commented that the developers knew the zoning when they purchased their property.

The Chairperson asked Planning Commission members to consider an approach to the Board deliberation on the item. Planning Commission members agreed that they wished to complete public comment and table the item for Board consideration at a subsequent meeting.

Marvin Block commented that Planning Commission members are appointed by the Township Board and area Township residents. He stated that Planning Commission members were attempting to represent the interests of all Township residents and property owners and that Planning Commission members have a vested interest in the welfare of the community.

The Chairperson asked whether there was any other public comment, and Jack Hamilton stated that one reason why his original rezoning request was denied was lack of public utilities.

Mary Milzer stated that she thanked the Planning Commission for its patience with the community comments.

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

Mr. Loy moved to table the item to the meeting of November 13, 1997. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The Chairperson suggested that the Township Engineer should be in attendance at this meeting so that the Planning Commission could make its recommendation to the Township Board. Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.


The next item was consideration of the application of Centennial Cellular Corp. for special exception use/site plan review to allow for the placement or co-location of three cellular antennas on an existing tower and also the establishment of a 180-sq.-ft. equipment building. The property is located at 6827 Stadium Drive in the NW╝ of Land Section 35 and is within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Harvey noted that the Tower Ordinance text had not yet been adopted by the Township Board, and therefore the text had been treated as recommended guidelines in the Planning and Zoning Department report.

Mike West noted that the Fire Department had completed review of the proposal and had provided written comments and conditions for approval.

The applicant stated that he was available for questions and noted that the owner of the tower was also present. The applicant stated that he is leasing space on the tower. The owner stated that the tower was constructed in approximately 1976.

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

In response to questions by the Planning Commission members, the applicant stated that the building was prefabricated with a floor and would be placed on a cement slab. A 6' chain-link fence is already in existence at the site. There was discussion of the 6' steel post and 12' satellite dish noted on the plan, and it was stated that these would be removed and replaced by the equipment building proposed. It was clarified that the classification of the property is agricultural, not commercial. It was noted that, since the tower pre-exists current standards, it would not be necessary to obtain a variance from the paving requirement for the access point and parking.

Planning Commission members reviewed the criteria of Section 60.100. As to whether the proposal would be compatible with other uses permitted in the District, it was concluded by Planning Commission members that co-location of the antennas and establishment of the building would not have any greater impact or render the use any less compatible with the area than it was presently. Further, it was felt that, since there was no new tower, no new access road, minimal lighting and minimal traffic, the proposal would not negatively impact adjacent properties. As to lighting, the applicant stated that the building would have one light bulb over the door which would be motion sensitive; he stated that it would probably be a 100-watt bulb. The light would be mounted at approximately 7'.

As to whether the proposal would promote public health, safety and welfare, the Planning Commission concluded that co-location was encouraged by the proposed Tower Ordinance. Further, health, safety and welfare would be secured by the requirement that the proposal comply with Fire Department concerns. Additionally, Planning Commission members felt that the owners should be required to place security fencing around the guide wire anchors. Also, an engineering report indicating that the tower is suitable to accept the co-location of the three antennas would be necessary.

It was also felt that the proposal would encourage the use of the land in accord with its character and adaptability and that there was no removal of existing vegetative buffers proposed and again because the proposed co-location of the three antennas on the existing tower would be consistent with the recommended communication tower provisions.

There was discussion of the criteria of Section 82.800. The Chairperson questioned where parking would be located, and the owner of the property stated that parking currently is provided adjacent to the fence near the turnaround; there was enough space to accommodate two cars.

Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the special exception use permit, finding that the criteria of Section 60.100 had been met as outlined in the Planning Commission's discussion. Approval was conditioned upon the following:

(1) That documentation regarding the legal right to use of the parcels by the applicant (i.e., lease agreement or easements) be provided to the Township.

(2) That all Fire Department requirements be complied with.

(3) That an engineering report be submitted indicating that the existing communication tower was suitable to accept the proposed three antennas.

(4) That security fencing be established around the anchors of the guyed wires.

Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

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

(1) That access would be provided by an existing unimproved access drive.

(2) That parking was approved in the location indicated by the applicant; parking areas must be sufficient to comply with the 10' x 20' parking space dimensional standards of the Ordinance.

(3) That the 180-sq.-ft. equipment building be located in conformance with setback standards.

(4) That the three antennas proposed to be added would be located within an existing enclosure.

(5) That all lighting be subject to compliance with the lighting guidelines of Section 78.700 and be reviewed and approved pursuant to Section 78.700(g).

(6) That the security fencing be extended to encompass the existing guyed wire anchors.

(7) That outdoor storage was not proposed or approved.

(8) That signage was not proposed or approved.

(9) That the existing vegetation consisting of dense wood and scrub growth around the access drive and communication tower/building enclosure is to be maintained to provide necessary buffers.

(10) That no variance was required for the existing drive or parking area.

(11) That approval was subject to the review and approval of the Township Fire Department.

Mr. Loy seconded the motion. The Chairperson suggested adding as #12 that the site plan be revised to denote the removal of the post and dish. The movant and second agreed to the amendment to the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 11:07 p.m.