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October 26, 2000




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, October 26, 2000, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Ted Corakis
Stanley Rakowski
Neil Sikora
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Marvin Block


Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Robert C. Engels, Township Attorney, and approximately 18 other interested persons.


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


Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the Agenda as submitted, and Mr. Sikora seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the minutes of October 12, 2000. Mr. Block moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission commenced the public hearing on the application of Hope Woods for Seniors for rezoning from "R-3" Residential to "R-4" Residential Zoning District for three properties on the south side of Stadium Drive, west of 11th Street identified as 5713, 5701, and 5749 Stadium Drive (Parcel Nos. 3905-25-330-021, -030 and -040). The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that this rezoning request was first considered last October. The request is for a rezoning from "R-3" Residential to "R-4" Residential to allow for an assisted living facility for seniors. The proposed rezoning is consistent with the Master Plan.

The Chairperson had Ms. Stefforia identify the parcels that surrounded the site.

The applicant was represented by Vernon Amye. He stated that they planned to have a 150-unit care facility, which would be a plus to the area. The project will have a cafeteria area and one and two bedroom living units. Transportation will be provided by the facility.

The Chairperson asked Mr. Amye what attracted the developer to the property. Mr. Amye responded that the proximity to the expressway and to local amenities, such as shopping, medical, and supermarkets, and easy access in and out, made the property very attractive to the developers.

Ms. Stefforia inquired as to whether or not the developers had considered the Sherwood Place building. Mr. Amye said that they had not considered that building.

The Chairperson asked for public comment.

Mr. Henry Bonnes, who resides on Plainview, asked about the site plan and how the project would affect his property. The Chairperson explained that there was no site plan at this time as the rezoning must be approved before a site plan will be developed.

Mr. Bonnes inquired about what can go into an "R-4" zone as he is concerned that, if the developer changes his mind about a senior citizens home, he might put something in that is allowed under an "R-4" zone, but is undesirable.

There being no further comments, the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson reviewed the differences between an "R-3" and an "R-4" classification. The "R-3" is a transitional area. Permitted uses in an "R-4" zone include day nurseries, nursing, handicap, convalescent, senior citizens and foster homes, funeral homes, private clubs, fraternities, sororities, lodges, except those of which the chief activities is a service customarily carried on as a business, and multiple family dwellings, excluding hotels and motels.

Density would be determined by setback requirements and location on the site.

The Chairperson then reviewed the staff report. Mr. Corakis was concerned with traffic and thought that there would be more cars in and out of the facility. The Chairperson stated that Stadium Drive could handle the traffic, and he said that his concern is with the distance from 11th Street. He noted that there could be traffic back-ups due to the signal. Mr. Corakis pointed out that 11th Street will still be two lanes after planned improvement. The Chairperson stated that he was concerned with density and the resulting increase in traffic.

The Chairperson and Mr. Corakis discussed the zoning of surrounding parcels and determined that they were "R-3" and "R-4" zoned. Mr. Rakowski said that it did not represent spot zoning as they all blended in with what is currently there.

Mr. Block asked if all the parcels were under common ownership, and he was told that the property to the west is zoned "R-3" and is in an estate. The estate representative wanted that property to be included in the rezoning, but it was too late as this application had already been noticed for public hearing. Ms. Stefforia indicated that she told the representative that she thought the property was more valuable as "R-3". The Chairperson stated that the property to the east was well established and that there was no need to change the zoning on those properties.

The Chairperson said that there was much commercial property in the area, with some residential on the west side, and the AT&T right-of-way to the south.

Mr. Corakis does not believe that anyone else will ask for "R-4" zoning as there is no more property in the area to be rezoned. Mr. Sikora stated that the Planning Commission has made it clear that there will be no change to the residential zoning on 11th Street.

The Chairperson noted areas in the Township that contained sizable vacant and/or available "R-4" acreage. These included the property in Section 13, which is west of North Drake Road, property in Section 13 at the end of Maple Hill Drive, property in Section 24, which is west of the Skyridge Plat, and property in Section 35, which is west of South 9th Street.

Mr. Rakowski moved to change the subject property's zoning from "R-3" Residential to "R-4" Residential. Mr. Block seconded the motion. The Chairperson then opened the meeting to public comment on the motion.

Jean Haverkamp, who lives at 2667 Plainview, said that the residents in the area know that the wildlife and their backyards will be changed, and the residents are very concerned about traffic on Stadium Drive. She believes it is a dangerous traffic area. Access will be on a curve and a blind spot, and bus service will not be easy to use in that location. She has quality of life and safety concerns and wanted to know where the access points would be located.

The Chairperson stated that the Planning Commission had to look at the impact of the development on both density and the roads. It is necessary to look at the volume of traffic added to Stadium Drive at the peak times. A senior citizens home use of Stadium Drive would probably be at different times than the traffic peak times. The access issue will be dealt with at the site plan review stage with the impact of ingress and egress on area driveways. The fact that the property is rezoned would not necessarily mean that the Planning Commission would support the site plan.

Mr. Bonnes was concerned about the permitted uses in an "R-4" zone because he felt that a lodge could be a night club. Ms. Stefforia assured him that a night club would not be allowed in an "R-4" zone.

Ron Wiser, the property owner, said that, if the rezoning is not granted, he would have to put in an office building, which would possibly triple the amount of traffic.

There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed.

Mr. Corakis stated that he would be against the motion because he does not want any more "R-4" zoning on Stadium Drive. He stated that there is enough traffic on Stadium Drive now. He is not opposed to the project, but he is opposed to the "R-4" rezoning.

Mr. Sikora stated that the intersection is a problem now. He does not see steady upkeep on the office buildings that are there now. He felt it would be an improvement to have something more stable for that area, but he is concerned about what would happen if the senior citizens home was not put in after the rezoning. He also recognized that bus service there is a problem, but he hoped that Metro Transit might address the problem if there was more use of the bus system in that area.

The Chairperson inquired as to the number of acres in the project. Ms. Stefforia said that there were nine acres. She further stated that, if there is multiple family, there could be up to 70 units, while in an "R-3" office complex, much more traffic could be generated with each building up to 10,000 square feet in area. Thus, the "R-4" zoning was more favorable from a traffic standpoint. It would be nice to have access from 11th Street and Stadium Drive, but the developer would need additional property or cooperation from adjoining land owners in order to accomplish access from 11th Street. The Chairperson stated that the Township encourages cooperation of land owners to provide access.

Mr. Rakowski stated that the AT&T right-of-way was a possible access point in the future.

Mr. Wiser stated that the developers have spent a fortune getting licenses for the project so it was unlikely that the project would not go forward.

There being no further discussion, a vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried 5-to-1 with Mr. Corakis voting against the motion.

Ms. Stefforia indicated that this matter will now go to the Township Board possibly at the second meeting in November. The Chairperson stated that if the Township Board agrees with the Planning Commission recommendation, the rezoning would take place early in 2001.


The Planning Commission conducted the public hearing on the special exception use and site plan review for a proposed 114-unit residential condominium development on North 10th Street. The subject property is located in the "R-3" Residence District zoning classification, and is Parcel No. 3905-13-105-010. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that nothing significant has changed in this application since the last time it was before the Planning Commission.

The Chairperson stated that access was a concern last time. Ms. Stefforia indicated that there had been a meeting with the Road Commission.

The Chairperson also stated that water retention was a concern, and that it now looks like there is more water retention planning throughout the area.

Mr. Tom Ackles of The Granger Company, was present for the applicant. He stated that there was no change being requested in the zoning or the Master Land Use Plan. A special exception use is being sought. There would be no increase in density or intensity for the parcel than if platted. From the first presentation before the Planning Commission, it was Mr. Ackles' opinion that there were no setback or positioning concerns. There were engineering requirement concerns, and a meeting had been held with the Road Commission and the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study (KATS). There also was concern with community standards and aesthetics, which was to be addressed through landscaping.

The Chairperson asked about access, and Mr. Ackles responded that the meeting with the Road Commission and KATS resulted in the determination that the access point met all of their standards and is in a safe location. There is good visibility both entering and leaving the site.

The Chairperson stated that the hill incline was a concern and the distance from the crest of the hill to Rudgate. Traffic studies had shown that is was better to have the drives lined up rather than opposing. The Chairperson also stated that drainage was a concern and that there were natural places on the property for water to drain.

Mr. Rakowski stated that he had driven into the open field and had seen the swales and hills. He exited near the access point and believes that position is the logical place to have access.

Tim Woodhams from Gove Associates then spoke concerning water retention. He said that low areas on the site had been identified where water would collect. There are also swales that will collect standing water. The southern pond will handle water from West Pointe Office and the south portion of the property. At the pond to the north they are trying to maintain the slopes. The majority of that pond is for the Rudgate Drive water run-off. Most of the water on the north part of the subject property will be piped to the southern pond. No excess standing water is anticipated.

Mr. Ackles indicated that, although density limits allow 115 units, it would not be practical because of configurations. The units will be two bedroom condominiums with two car garages. There will be an island at the main entrance with a one way road. The Fire Department wants the road widened, although Ms. Stefforia indicated that, if the road is made wider, people might believe it is a two-way rather than a one-way road.

Mr. Corakis asked if it would be a one-way street entirely around the interior, and he was told that it would not be, only the entrance drive.

Mr. Rakowski was concerned about car lights shining in the windows of the property owners on the west side of 11th Street and hoped that a good neighbor policy might be in effect where something could be done about the lights. Ms. Stefforia indicated that the Planning Commission could not require that off-site concessions be made.

There was concern that the plan shows "potential" natural areas. Mr. Woodhams explained that the developer would try to save as many trees as possible, but they are not sure what can be saved. That is why it is labeled "potential".

There was some discussion about having access through the office park for emergencies, but Mr. Ackles indicated that he did not want to have the office area spilling into the residential. Ms. Stefforia said that the Fire Department was not looking for a second access to this development.

The Chairperson asked about possible changes in 10th Street. Mr. Ackles discussed the possibility of having a deceleration lane. It would be going north to south, coming into the entrance driveway. The Road Commission said that there were two possibilities, one being a bypass lane, which they seemed to prefer, and the other being a left turn lane. The road would have to be widened for a left turn lane, and it would possibly go all the way to Rudgate. Mr. Ackles did not believe his developer should be responsible for paying for construction all the way to Rudgate. It is also possible that there may be a change in the traffic light at 10th Street and West Main. While possibilities were discussed with the Road Commission, no remedies were determined. The Chairperson asked if a bypass could be done without taking any of the developer's property, and Mr. Ackles indicated that there was enough right-of-way there now so that no property would need to be taken. Ms. Stefforia indicated that she did not believe that the Road Commission would find that the traffic from the north for this project would warrant a south-bound bypass lane. The Chairperson stated that most of the traffic would be from West Main into the development rather than from the north. Mr. Rakowski commented that much new development was anticipated in the H Avenue and 10th Street areas.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell was concerned about the landscaping and natural areas. She wanted to see a concentrated effort to identify the natural areas and buffering. She would like to have specific areas identified for preservation. That has not been done on the plans that have been submitted, and she does not believe that any of the "potential" natural areas will remain. She would like to see the wooded areas preserved.

Mr. Ackles discussed the various landscaping schedules and compared the expenses of the various schedules. The developer is proposing Schedule B for the west and north perimeter. Inside the project, there are many dead and dying trees. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that credit could be given for existing vegetation if it is saved.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell would like to see a sidewalk connecting 10th Street to Rudgate. Ms. Stefforia indicated that it could not be required, but that there is a paved shoulder. Mr. Ackles said that the landscaping requirements are much more stringent than if this were a single-family housing development.

Mr. Rakowski asked if there was any intention of planting trees or screening along the east side of the property, which is along U.S. 131. Mr. Ackles indicated that the developer wanted to leave that to the discretion of the owners.

Mr. Ackles was asked if they were going to build in phases, and he said that they would build in phases with the construction of each new building being based on sales.

The Chairperson stated that, if there was phasing, the Planning Commission would not require all streets to be put in at the beginning of the project. Mr. Ackles said that it could be three to ten years before the project is completed. The intent is to divide the project north to south. The model house will be the first house on the right, and then the developer would move west to east. The southern part will include the entrance and the full circle. Mr. Corakis asked if Building 17 would be included in Phase 1, and was informed that it would be included.

The Chairperson asked for public comment.

Ron Anglin, who lives on 10th Street, was concerned about the landscaping because the trees had been leveled in the office project. The plans to him looked like the developer was going to do the same thing with this project. He also asked if the buildings were going to be single story, and Mr. Ackles told him that they are one story with walkouts. Mr. Anglin was also concerned about traffic, and said it was very difficult to back out of driveways. The added traffic would make it even more difficult, and he was concerned about accessing his driveway on 10th Street.

The next public speaker was Mr. Fahrenbach, who lives on Nantucket in Westport. He believed that there will be speed problems. He paced off the distance to Rudgate and found that it was 270 feet. He asked about the radar speed sign that had been put up by the Road Commission on 10th Street and wondered if it had been placed in the correct spot. Mr. Woodhams indicated that the new design of 10th Street meets the minimum sight distances for 45 mph.

There being no further comments, the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson reviewed the special exception use requirements. He commented on density and stated that, rather than having 115 units, the proposal was only for 114 units. He indicated that the units are going to cost approximately $160,000 each, and they will be two bedroom, two garage units. They will not detract from the West Pointe neighborhood.

Mr. Corakis did not like the access point, but was not able to see that it could be placed anywhere else in the project. The Chairperson found that the proposed use is residential. If the property was broken into several separate parcels, there would be many driveways. As proposed, there is one access point, and the number of driveways has not increased. Mr. Sikora inquired as to how many driveways there could be, and Ms. Stefforia indicated that there could one every 200 feet, with there being 1,500 feet of frontage.

The Chairperson then summarized the site plan review considerations.

It is believed that access is best where it has been located by the developer. Mr. Sikora felt that, from a safety standpoint, it was better having just one access point rather than several.

Landscaping was a concern, as the Chairperson indicated that there would be serious culture shock similar to when the office park was developed. The Chairperson would like to see a beefed-up landscaping plan along 10th Street with a mixture of vegetation. Ms. Stefforia stated that it could not be beefed up from Schedule F. The Chairperson examined the differences between Schedules B and F, with Ms. Stefforia indicating that she believed that Schedule F might be excessive. Mr. Corakis stated that his examination of the plan led him to believe that, once the road is put in, everything will be leveled. The Chairperson agreed that Schedule F was more intense than needed, but felt that Schedule B might be too lax. He speculated that Schedule D might be better. Ms. Stefforia indicated that she did not think that Schedule D was a good choice as there were no evergreens required in Schedule D. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that this is a special exception, and if the developer is amenable, there could be staff review of the plan showing what the developer intends to save. If there are 12 to 24-inch oak trees, the developer should show how those trees would be saved. The developer should locate the trees and provide a buffer. She would like there to be a natural-appearing environment.

Mr. Ackles stated that the developer did not want to be held to higher standards than those required of the neighbors. He referenced the property two lots away where there was no apparent landscaping plan. He wants to have the discretion to work with the bulldozers. It is very expensive to do a tree survey, and it is impractical. The majority of the site will be developed, which will eliminate most of the greenspace and existing trees. He wants Schedule B. Schedule F prices out at $2,800 per 100 feet of buffer. Schedule E prices out at $3,400 per 100 feet because of the different species. Schedule B prices out to $1,600 per 100 feet and is equivalent to the row of pines that were required by the former screening requirements. Mr. Ackles wants discretion and doesn't want to be in position where he is forced to plant trees where they won't survive. He will put Schedule B landscaping on the north and 10th Street sides.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell said that her concern is with the common internal areas. It is a 9-acre site. Mr. Block said that culture shock would take place wherever development is done, and there must be cooperation on both sides. Mr. Corakis said that landscaping sells a development and that developers try to save as many trees as possible. Sometimes there is no choice but to take trees down. Mr. Sikora said that the Planning Commission runs the risk of requiring plantings that are too dense along the road. He said that it looks like a fence and felt that there should be a compromise. He, too, said that landscaping sells property, and that if a developer misleads the Planning Commission on landscaping, it will affect the reputation of that developer.

The Chairperson said that the office complex along the south line will do the formerly required landscaping, and thus, no more should be required on that side. He was concerned with the 10th Street side and believed that Schedule B should work. It is possible that nothing would be required on the north line as it is zoned "R-2" against "R-3". The north line is not being disturbed with the development. Mr. Woodhams pointed out that there would be road construction along the north line, but no other construction.

Mr. Corakis and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell said that they both could live with the Schedule B landscaping. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell, however, would like to get more specifics. The Chairperson agreed, and he said that he would like to see no fencing requirement around the ponds. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell said that she would like to see a natural way to protect the drainage ponds rather than fencing. She would like natural barriers that would discourage children from running into the ponds.

The Chairperson stated that the Township needs to review the site plans, and approval would be subject to review and approval by the Fire Department and Township Engineer.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the Environmental Permits Checklist has been completed and is on file with the Township.

Mr. Corakis moved to grant the special exception use. The motion was supported by Ms. Heiny-Cogswell.

The Chairperson asked for public comment.

Betty Antosz, who lives across the street from the proposed project, said that when the office complex was put in, all the land was leveled. She does not know that will not happen again. Mr. Ackles said that in the office complex, they had to loop the entire site with utilities. He said that does not need to be done for this project. The Chairperson said that they are developing from the south and then going west to east.

Mr. Fahrenbach said that he was at the Planning Commission when the office park project was proposed. He said that the buildings were to be one story in front, going to two stories in the back along U.S. 131. There was also going to be a bank in the project. He does not believe that what happened at that time comports with the requirements of the Ordinance. He said that the time to use discretion is before something is started, and if there are concerns, one should not act in haste. The Chairperson indicated that, when the plans were presented to have a bank, it was by a previous owner and had nothing to do with the current developer.

Bill Hamilton spoke, representing the Oshtemo Business Association. He said that the give-and-take that he saw at the meeting tonight did not happen three years ago. He was happy to see that give-and-take. The Chairperson thanked Mr. Hamilton.

There being no further public comments, there was a vote on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

The Chairperson reviewed the site plan, including access and the site layout. The units will be single story with some walkout, some duplex and some quadplex condos. There will be 30 buildings subdivided into two phases.

There is concern with the landscaping, what plantings there will be and when those plantings will occur. There was also concern with how the retention areas will be landscaped. The site plan is to be subject to Fire Department and Township Engineer review.

Mr. Sikora said that he was not sure of a consensus on the plantings. The Chairperson told him that it was Schedule B that had been agreed to by the Planning Commission. The Chairperson did not want fencing if it could be avoided, and wondered if there could be barriers with natural plantings. He wants to understand what the final landscaping is going to be. Mr. Corakis suggested leaving it to staff. Ms. Stefforia said that the plan should be amended. The Chairperson said that the developer should show on the plan what will be on 10th Street. Mr. Ackles said that they will show plantings on 10th Street as required on Schedule B. As sections develop, they would approach staff regarding trees that can be saved and where they would get credit in the common areas for those trees. The Chairperson and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell both were concerned about safety and character in the retention areas.

It was agreed that any trees credited along 10th Street must be reapplied elsewhere in a common area.

Mr. Sikora moved to approve the site plan as follows:

(1) One access point on North 10th Street, with improvements as may be required by the Road Commission.

(2) The placement of the buildings within the development shall attempt to take advantage of the existing topography, and all buildings must satisfy the setback and separation requirements.

(3) Site plan approval is subject to review and approval of the Fire Department.

(4) Site engineering is subject to review and finding by the Township Engineer as adequate.

(5) There shall be two phases to development. The entrance and the full circle will be completed in Phase 1, and Buildings 1 through 17 will be included in Phase 1.

(6) Plantings along 10th Street shall be as indicated in Schedule B. As buildings are developed, the developer will approach staff regarding trees that can be saved along 10th Street with a determination as to where the developer would then place the new trees in the common areas.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Block. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell said that there was nothing in the motion regarding the retention areas, and she asked that there be staff review of landscaping around the retention areas for safety and aesthetics. Mr. Sikora and Mr. Block signified their approval to add that provision to the motion.

The Chairperson asked for public comment.

Mr. Fred Antosz said that he was glad to see the plantings along 10th Street being required. He said that did not happen with the office complex.

There was no further public comment.

Mr. Sikora indicated that this was a difficult issue because this was going near a neighborhood, but he realized that developers have rights. Mr. Rakowski said it would get tougher as 10th Street developed further north.

A vote was taken on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


Mr. Corakis stated that the clock in the meeting room was four minutes fast. He asked that the clock be checked so that it stated the correct time.

Mr. Corakis also was concerned that there is a store in the Village Commercial District that has "exit only" signs on the outside of doors that front on Stadium Drive. There was some question as to whether it was a problem because sidewalks were not in, and Ms. Stefforia said that she would speak with the Building Inspector

Mr. Rakowski commented on the need for a good public address system in the meeting room.

The Chairperson stated that the landscaping ordinance that had been sent to the Township Board had passed with one change, that being that grass had to be put in within the first six months. The open space ordinance also passed, and the Village Commercial District is going for the second reading.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell indicated that she had gone to a seminar and had materials that she wanted to give to Ms. Stefforia concerning preserving native trees.

Ms. Stefforia asked about history of the Buckham property as Western Michigan University is proposing to build soccer fields in that location, and there is environmental concern. She was told that there had been a house in that area, but that had been the only structure on the property.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 10:19 p.m.