OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
October 27, 2005
WAL-MART - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 501 NORTH 9TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-305-022)
A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, October 27, 2005, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Terry Schley, Acting Chairman
Deborah L. Everett
MEMBERS ABSENT: James Turcott
Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately 25 other interested persons.
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.
The Acting Chairman asked if there were any amendments to the Agenda. Ms. Stefforia asked that they add a concept review for Camp Fido to the Agenda under Item #5. The Acting Chairman asked if there were any more amendments. Hearing none, he called for a motion on the Agenda. Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the Agenda, as amended, and the motion was seconded by Ms. Everett. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.
The Acting Chairman asked the Planning Commission members if they had had a chance to review the minutes of October 13, 2005. Ms. Everett indicated that she had, but she wanted to make a couple of changes. On page 6 of the minutes, she noted that Marion Hill's first name should be "Marion" and not "Mary", and that Chuck Sowles' last name should be "Sowles" and not "Soles". Ms. Everett also indicated on page 7, the last sentence in the top paragraph should read: "However, he noted that the Township will talk to the Road Commission and express concerns to the Road Commission on behalf of the residents of the Township." Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the minutes as amended. Mr. Smith seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.
WAL-MART - SPECIAL EXCEPTION USE AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 501 NORTH 9TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-305-022)
The Acting Chairman said the next item up for review was a special exception use and site plan review of a proposed addition of a pharmacy drive-up service window and expansion of the Garden center of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. He said the applicant was also proposing site plan review of a proposed building addition to create a Wal-Mart Superstore. He noted the subject property was located at 501 North 9th Street, Parcel No. 3905-14-305-022. The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia submitted her report to the Planning Commission dated October 27, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.
Ms. Stefforia reminded the Planning Commission that it had approved a special exception use for the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on June 27, 2002. She said the approved store consisted of 149,551 square feet including a tire and oil change facility. She said that also included a 10,584 square foot garden center for outdoor display/sales. She said in November, 2002, there was a 6,000 square foot expansion approved for the garden center and a 2,000 square foot increase in the building itself.
Ms. Stefforia said the applicant was now requesting a 70,000 square foot expansion to create a Wal-Mart Superstore. She said they were also proposing a garden center expansion as well as a drive-up pharmacy service window. She noted that the drive-up window at the pharmacy and an expansion of the outdoor display and sales area triggered the special exception review process.
Ms. Stefforia pointed out that the plans submitted were somewhat small, and the detail was quite hard to read. Therefore, the specific plans for the garden center needed to be addressed at length and a full-size set of evaluation drawings provided by the applicant. She also noted that the customer entrance would be moved north, and a second entrance would be created for the south end of the store. In addition, the applicant was proposing to enclose the pallet and bale storage area behind the building. She noted that if it was fully enclosed, it would not be outdoor storage and would be considered part of the overall building expansion.
Ms. Stefforia then proceeded to take the Planning Commission through a review of Section 60.100 regarding special exception use criteria for the pharmacy window and the garden center. In so doing, she asked that they specifically address the traffic pattern for the drive-up window and that they seek additional information regarding the screening of the high racks to determine if the special exception use criteria could be met.
Ms. Stefforia took the Planning Commission through Section 82.800 site plan review. In doing so, Ms. Stefforia drew particular attention to the need to replace any landscaping material which was dead before a Certificate of Occupancy could be issued for the building expansion. She also asked that the Planning Commission specifically subject any site plan approval to the previous conditions issued June 27, 2002, and November 21, 2002, as appropriate.
The Acting Chairman asked if anyone had any questions of Ms. Stefforia.
Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the Planning Commission could request a reduction on parking. Ms. Stefforia said they certainly could ask why there was as much parking provided, but that the proposal was in compliance with the Ordinance. Attorney Porter indicated that he did not believe they could legally require them to reduce their parking, since the plans did comply with the Ordinance. Ms. Bugge commented that they could bank some of the parking if they felt it was not necessary.
Hearing no further questions for the Planning Department, the Acting Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. Ms. Debra Sullivan of CESO introduced herself to the Planning Commission. She said they were the civil engineers for Wal-Mart. She explained that Wal-Mart was proposing to expand its discount store to a superstore by adding an additional 70,702 square feet. She said Wal-Mart was also seeking two special exception uses, one for a pharmacy drive-up window and the other for an expansion of its garden area. She said that the garden area would use what Wal-Mart refers to as a "high-rack" system. She explained that high racks were tall fixtures which had a tight black mesh surrounding the outside so that the contents within the stacks were not visible from the exterior of the garden center. She said that this screening was superior to the fencing which was currently provided in the area in that it could not be seen through.
Ms. Stefforia asked what the height of the high-rack system would be. Ms. Sullivan said it would be 16 feet to 18 feet high. Mr. Larson asked if there would be anything then added on to the top of the rack. Ms. Sullivan said there would be nothing above the mesh screening. She said, while the high racks did not have a roof or covering on the top, there would be nothing placed on the racks which would exceed the height of the mesh screen itself.
Ms. Sullivan pointed out to the Planning Commission that they had talked to the retail center located northeast of the Wal-Mart store. She said that they would propose changing some of the evergreen trees shown on the landscape plans with deciduous trees, based upon the request of the adjoining retailer. She stated that, while she did not believe it was necessary for Wal-Mart to adjust its parking, she thought they would try to reach an agreement with the adjoining neighbor to accommodate that shopping area.
After Ms. Sullivan's presentation, the Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions of her.
Ms. Stefforia asked if she could address the traffic pattern and maneuverability of vehicles using the pharmacy lane. Ms. Sullivan explained that this was the preferred design used by Wal-Mart throughout its superstores. She explained that it was a prototype which was working well at all of the existing stores. She then proceeded to explain that a vehicle would enter from the east, complete a U-turn and drop off and/or pick up prescriptions at one of the two drive-up lanes. She added that there was sufficient access for traffic to proceed around the building to the south, including truck traffic.
Mr. Smith asked if there would be any signage or rails to indicate the location of the exiting traffic to pedestrians entering or exiting the building. Ms. Sullivan said that there would be a railing at the end of the store, immediately north of the drive-up locations. She also said they would have a marked crosswalk, as well as directional arrows to notify people of the preferred traffic pattern.
The Acting Chairman asked if providing the enclosed pallet area would be a priority and if the exterior would meet the prior conditions and limitations placed upon the building. Ms. Sullivan said they would meet all of the previous conditions imposed, with the exception of the height of the racks. She said that the exterior area of all additions would be masonry, in compliance with the previous conditions.
Mr. Larson asked about truck traffic internally. Ms. Sullivan said they would propose that most of the truck traffic go north of the building to utilize the docking areas on the west side of the building. Brian Smallwood, project manager, said they would use several different entrances, but would try to direct most of the truck traffic north of the building. Mr. Larson asked if they would be using the south route as a primary route. Mr. Smallwood said that they would not, but the truckers could, if they chose to, still use that route as an access point. Ms. Sullivan said they would not recommend it, but that they could not guarantee that a trucker might not try to take a shortcut and use the area south of the building for an access point to the docks on the west side of the building.
Mr. Larson asked if the drive-through would interfere with trucks using the access point south of the building. Ms. Sullivan said she did not think so, since there would only be about eight or ten trucks a day. She also noted that the drive aisle was wide enough, and they did not believe it was a concern. She said, if Wal-Mart thought it was a safety issue, they would not approve it because of the potential for litigation.
Mr. Smallwood said it was difficult to see on the proposed plans, but there would be striping for traffic control. He also said that the south drive is much wider than it might appear on the small set of plans furnished to the Planning Commission. He stated there was adequate room to allow for a U-turn of all cars accessing the pharmacy, while still allowing trucks to pass to the south.
Ms. Sullivan said that most of the trucks servicing the superstore were smaller trucks, such as dairy and grocery trucks, etc. She said they would have eight to ten large trucks a day and approximately six smaller trucks per day servicing the grocery center.
Mr. Larson asked if the superstore would be open 24 hours. Ms. Sullivan said that it would be open 24 hours, as they currently are now. Mr. Larson indicated that the subject Wal-Mart was not open 24 hours a day.
Mr. Larson asked whether the compressors would have adequate sound control. Ms. Sullivan said the compressors would be screened with decorative fence, similar to what they have around the garden area, but that the compressors were completely built into the building itself. She said it was not outside. She stated it was part of a pre-manufactured "box". Mr. Smallwood said you could hear the compressors if you were right next to them, but on 8th Street, you would not be able to hear them.
Mr. Larson asked if the proposed compactors were enclosed. Mr. Smallwood said that they were one piece, enclosed within the truck bay doors so that they were completely within an enclosed structure, operated from within the store.
Mr. Larson asked about the lighting to the south. Mr. Smallwood said they did not have a photometric plan at the present time. He said the first plan which was drawn up, failed to properly include the appropriate shielded lighting in the calculations, and therefore, it was being redone as they spoke. Ms. Sullivan said they would make sure that it was the same as the first lighting plan, totally in compliance with the Ordinance.
Mr. Larson asked why they moved the lights further to the south. Ms. Sullivan said it was for safety and to even out the light within the entire site. Mr. Larson said that would put the lights on the southern property line. Ms. Sullivan said it would bring them within their southern portion of their commercially-zoned property, but that they would be using sharp cut-off lighting and that the lighting would be in compliance with the Township Ordinance at the edge of their property. She said she thought it was an issue of safety.
The Acting Chairman asked if there were other questions.
Ms. Everett asked if the pharmacy lane would have a curb. Mr. Smallwood said that it would not, but it would be striped, quite wide, and have tubular markers to separate the exit lanes for the pharmacy from other traffic.
Ms. Everett asked if the applicant would be willing to bank any of the extra parking. Ms. Sullivan said the parking was planned based upon what was typical for most superstores. She said she did not want to see Wal-Mart have to come back to the Planning Commission to add parking later. She said they would not normally have large landscaped islands within the parking, but that was a requirement of Oshtemo's Ordinance. She said most modern codes were written for lots of parking, even somewhat excessive except for the major shopping days, but she still thought it was necessary for a superstore.
Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the applicant might take into account the excellent public transportation available to the site and perhaps reduce the parking. Ms. Garland-Rike also asked if there would be a fence at the end of the store by the drive-through pharmacy to alert people to the exiting cars. Mr. Smallwood said that there would be a handrail as well as the markings to alert people to the fact that there would be cars exiting the south side of the building. Ms. Sullivan said, if they were really concerned, they could add a sign near the end of the building, warning people that there were pedestrians and/or traffic converging at that point.
Ms. Garland-Rike asked if people could access the pharmacy both from the north, as well as the east. Mr. Smallwood said that they could, and they would deal with that through internal signage and striping to address any vehicular traffic concerns.
The Acting Chairman asked for clarification on a couple of issues. He first asked if the applicant would have a handrail on the south side of the building to alert people that there was possible traffic. Ms. Sullivan said that was correct. Second, the Acting Chairman asked if that was specifically part of the plans as submitted. Ms. Sullivan indicated yes.
Mr. Smith asked if they knew the number of cars which would be using the pharmacy. Mr. Smallwood said that the number of cars had not been estimated.
Ms. Everett asked if the pharmacy would be open 24 hours. Mr. Smallwood said it would likely not be 24 hours, since the pharmacist provides services by contract and not directly operated by Wal-Mart.
Mr. Larson said that the landscaping was not consistent with the original landscape plan. Mr. Smallwood said that the ash trees had been removed from the proposed plan due to the emerald ash bore problems in Michigan.
Mr. Larson said that the Austrian pines were not native. Mr. Smallwood said they would plant whatever the Planning Commission wanted. Ms. Sullivan said that they had changed landscape architects and that the new landscape architect was working very hard at making sure that the plants were very hardy and would survive in a commercial area. She said she thought he was doing a superior job over their last landscape architect as evidenced by the number of plants which had not survived to date.
The Acting Chairman said he wanted to confirm a few things for the record. He asked if the pharmacy was going to have knock-down ballards. Ms. Sullivan confirmed that they were in the plans. Mr. Smallwood said that they were on the proposed layout. The Acting Chairman next asked the applicant to confirm that the compressor noise, while audible near the facility, would not cause any appreciable noise or disturbance along 8th Street. Mr. Smallwood confirmed that it would not. The Acting Chairman asked for confirmation that the storage racks would not exceed 18 feet. Ms. Sullivan indicated that was correct. The Acting Chairman asked if they had to have 18 feet. Ms. Sullivan said the 18-foot storage racks were vital to Wal-Mart's overall garden center.
In addition, the Acting Chairman asked if the trucks could travel parallel to the proposed pharmacy access point, and if everything would be striped to accommodate such traffic. Mr. Smallwood said there would be room for vehicles coming in and out, and that even with the two-way traffic, there would be a 30-foot wide traffic lane south of that area. The Acting Chairman stated he did not believe that would be true at the radius. Mr. Smallwood had to concede that was correct.
The Acting Chairman then asked if the bumper tubes would block circulation. Mr. Smallwood said no. The Acting Chairman asked if there would be adequate room for stacking at the pharmacy drive-up so as to not block any of the internal traffic flow within the site. Both Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Smallwood said yes.
The Acting Chairman asked if there was a cross-access agreement with the developer to the northeast of the proposed site. Ms. Sullivan indicated that there was, and Ms. Stefforia confirmed the same. Ms. Stefforia said they were allowed to have some spaces within the existing parking, but they were not provided for at the boundary line separating the two parcels.
The Acting Chairman said he had not seen enough information on the mesh surrounding the high-rack system to form an opinion as to whether it was something which the Planning Commission should approve. Ms. Sullivan said they had some additional pictures and proceeded to show them to the Planning Commission.
The Acting Chairman said, since they could not get a clear picture of what the screening looked like, the Commission should only approve it contingent upon having an opportunity to see additional detail of the proposed high-rack storage screening. Ms. Sullivan said she thought that would be appropriate. Ms. Garland-Rike inquired as to how the racking system would be located in relationship to the fence. Ms. Sullivan explained that it would be somewhat akin to a bookshelf, facing south with the back and the ends of the "bookshelf," i.e., the backs and sides of the screened racking system facing north, east and west. Ms. Bugge asked how the height of the proposed stacking compared to the building. Ms. Sullivan said it was somewhat shorter that the building itself. Ms. Stefforia said it would be somewhat lower than the peak of the proposed addition. The Acting Chairman asked how deep the proposed racking system would be. Ms. Sullivan said approximately eight feet deep; Mr. Smallwood concurred, saying it was approximately two pallets in depth.
The Acting Chairman asked for public comment. He asked that the public please adhere to the four-minute rule, and that they please consider previous comments made by others.
Ms. Jamshidi introduced herself to the Planning Commission. She said she was a college student, saw the article in the newspaper and wanted to express her opinion with regard to Wal-Mart's proposals. She thought there were adequate stores in the area, and she did not see any reason to provide any expansion of the existing Wal-Mart store. Therefore, she asked that the Commission oppose Wal-Mart's requested expansion.
Ms. Beth Luppe said she saw the newspaper article, and she was opposed to the requested expansion. She said she would not shop at nor support a Wal-Mart because 46 percent of their employees do not have benefits, and that the company was currently looking to reduce benefits for its employees. She further stated that she did not want to see West Main Street become another Westnedge.
Ms. Jill Sluyter said she agreed with the previous comments, and she did not want to see the night go by without stating her opposition to Wal-Mart. She said she thought that Wal-Mart had a poor corporate mentality, and she could not support allowing any type of expansion. She read a letter, on behalf of a couple of her friends, which also opposed the proposed expansion.
Attorney Lowell Seyburn introduced himself to the Planning Commission. He said he represented Crystal Car Wash, pointing out its location on the overhead map. He said his client was asking that Wal-Mart change its parking to allow 90-degree parking in front of the lower portion of Crystal Car Wash's most recent building expansion on the south side of its property. He asked that the Planning Commission take that into account as they consider the proposed Wal-Mart site plan.
Mr. Robert Poats said he did not think Wal-Mart should be able to expand before they dealt with and corrected some of the previous problems it created. He said the current sound wall was 30 feet high on the ends but was only 20 feet high in the middle. He noted that was the area closest to his home. He said that the construction of Wal-Mart had caused electrical interruptions, as well as phone interruptions and ongoing phone problems for all those in the area. He said there was flooding problems which had existed, as well as a lot of litter and debris in the area. He said he did not want Wal-Mart to expand until they complied with what they said they would agree to do in the first place.
Mrs. Larson introduced herself to the Commission and said that she was concerned about Wal-Mart's plans to deviate from the native plant requirements previously imposed by the Commission. She also questioned the proposed lighting and asked that the Township monitor it very closely. She said she was also concerned about noise from the site, as well as the trash which continues to emanate from this location. She said she was concerned about the flooding in the past and the potential for flooding in the future.
Ms. Anne Disbrow said she agreed with Mrs. Larson, and she opposed the expansion. She said the truck traffic on a 24-hour basis would be horrendous. She also said there was lots and lots of garbage and thought that Wal-Mart should be a better corporate neighbor.
The Acting Chairman asked if there were any further public comments. Hearing none, he closed the public portion of the meeting and called for Commission deliberations.
The Acting Chairman said he thought there were two action items, the special exception uses and site plan review. The Acting Chairman began by telling those people in attendance that, contrary to what they might have perceived from the newspaper article, nothing was pre-approved or a "done deal" regarding the applicant's proposal. He said the Commission was required to review the request and to apply the Ordinance and the appropriate standards before making any final decisions. Attorney Porter concurred with the Acting Chairman and noted that the special exception use permits requested allowed a certain amount of latitude and application of conditions thereto. However, he noted that the building expansion was a permitted use and that the only issues to be considered in that regard were whether the site plan did or did not meet the Ordinance, and nothing more. He encouraged the Planning Commission to stick to the Ordinance.
The Acting Chairman said he was surprised and concerned to hear the comments from the neighbors on 8th Street. He asked for the thoughts of the Planning Commission members.
Mr. Larson began by saying that the request for the proposed garden center expansion would have a visual impact on the area. He said that changing the garden center as proposed, particularly the racks, would not fit into the original concept as approved by the Planning Commission. He also said he had severe reservations regarding the drive to the south of the building and whether it could accommodate the pharmacy window and the additional traffic.
Ms. Everett said she agreed regarding the garden center. She said she thought the back wall above the fence was not in keeping what was originally approved by the Planning Commission. She said she thought that the Planning Commission should address the concerns of the neighbors. She said that she thought they should be in compliance with all of the conditions previously imposed and wondered whether they were in compliance with the lighting requirements. Ms. Stefforia said she was aware of only one condition which the applicant was not in compliance, being the dead landscaping materials which had not been replaced.
The Acting Chairman asked if there was still a flooding problem. Ms. Stefforia said she thought the flooding problem had been resolved during construction. Mr. Larson said, on the original site plan, there was a low area from which Wal-Mart was to collect water and then transport the water to the pond, and he thought that area had been filled in, and Wal-Mart was not in compliance with the original site plan in that regard. He said, while the drain has been cleaned out, it is still not in accordance with the original site in that there is no connection to take water from the low area to the pond. Ms. Everett asked if the Planning Commission had to require, as a condition in approving the new site plan, that the previous areas of noncompliance be corrected first. Attorney Porter indicated that they did not have to tie it together, but they could prohibit the issuance of new permits until such time as Wal-Mart came into compliance with previous conditions imposed on their earlier site plan. The Acting Chairman said he thought it would be a good idea to tie them together. Mr. Smallwood said they would absolutely understand if the Planning Commission conditioned the new site plan approval and permits upon Wal-Mart coming into compliance with any of the previous approved items. Mr. Smallwood said they were unaware that they were not in compliance with any of the previously-imposed conditions on the site plan.
The Acting Chairman asked if there was currently a lighting problem at the site. Ms. Stefforia said that there was a problem prior to occupancy, and that the applicant brought the lighting into compliance when requested. She said currently she thought the site was in compliance with all lighting requirements of the Ordinance.
Mr. Larson said he thought a lot of the trash was due to the off-loading of trucks. He said they had asked Wal-Mart maintenance people numerous times to collect the trash, but to the best of his knowledge, the trash was collected only one time. The Acting Chairman said he was troubled to hear of the problems, and he was surprised about the noise and vibrations possibly caused by the trucks. Mr. Larson said he thought it might be the number of trucks at the site which might cause some kind of an acoustical vibration to set up in the wall or in the ground.
The Acting Chairman asked if there was a violation problem with regard to wall height and asked why they could not take action on that. Ms. Stefforia said there was no height specified and that it was, in fact, a sound wall. Attorney Porter pointed out that the wall was put in voluntarily. It was not part of the prior site plan requirement, nor was it a condition for site plan approval. Ms. Everett asked if they could have an increase in the height of the sound wall. The Acting Chairman said they would most likely have to have a sound study done, but also said perhaps they would want to put restrictions on the vehicles left running on the site.
Mr. Larson said he thought the sound wall was built to follow the contour of the land. He added that the Commission might not have had authority regarding the sound wall at the time it was built, but since the site plan was now being amended for an expansion, he thought they would have the authority to take a look at that issue. Attorney Porter again pointed out that the expansion was not a special use to which one could attach conditions; it either did or did not meet the site plan requirements contained within the Ordinance. Attorney Porter cautioned the Commission to make sure that any conditions be specifically tied to the two special exception uses proposed, and not the other improvements provided for in the site plan.
Attorney Porter also pointed out that if there were noise problems not associated with any of the special uses, but with the permitted use, it would most likely have to be dealt with through the Township's Noise Ordinance. He also pointed out that there was a Litter or Blight Ordinance which could be used to address the trash issue, but again, cautioned against imposing conditions not warranted under the special use requests.
The Acting Chairman pointed out that they certainly wanted Wal-Mart to know about the citizens' concerns. Attorney Porter concurred, but he said he also wanted the citizens to know the limitations of the Commission's authority so they did not expect the Commission to impose unwarranted conditions on the applicant.
Mr. Smith said he did not have a problem with the plans as proposed by Wal-Mart, but he certainly was troubled to see the number of upset neighbors appear at the meeting about how Wal-Mart was currently running its operation.
Ms. Garland-Rike said she would like Wal-Mart to consider the comments made by the citizens, whether or not it could be considered as part of the special uses or site plan. She said she thought that was just part of being a good corporate neighbor.
The Acting Chairman suggested that the Planning Commission focus its attention on the requested special exception uses before turning its attention to the general expansion, which would be dealt with through site plan approval.
The Acting Chairman began by saying he had a concern about the height of the outdoor storage given the current fence height of 11 feet and the proposed request to exceed that height by at least seven feet. He said he was concerned, not only by the height of the proposed structure, but by the fact that they were not able to adequately view what the structure would look like. He said he thought it was a deviation from what they had previously approved, and he did not feel comfortable with deviating from what they had previously approved. Mr. Larson, Ms. Everett and Ms. Garland-Rike concurred with the Acting Chairman's comments.
The Acting Chairman said he did not have any trouble with the pharmacy request, since they had approved one for another retail business, and that this one, in his opinion, was as good as the one previously granted. Mr. Larson said he had a problem with the proposed pharmacy because he thought it would have a significant impact on the neighbors and put considerable amount of traffic south of the structure, and when coupled with the proposed lighting on the south boundary of the property, it would have, in his opinion, a significant negative impact on the community. The Acting Chairman said he did not think it would have a dramatic impact on the community, since they were not actually operating as far south as their southern property line. Mr. Larson said he respectfully disagreed, in that, the applicant was extending its lights to the southern boundary of the commercial zoning district.
Ms. Everett asked if Mr. Larson was saying that the sound wall was not far enough south to deal with the issue of the traffic and the lights. Mr. Larson said, that while the sound wall came to the southern portion of the commercially-zoned property, it certainly would not deal with the lights and the additional traffic which would now be coming that far south and would spill around the sound barrier. He said he was not concerned about the headlights as much he was about the lighting and the ten poles being added 40 feet in the air. Ms. Stefforia pointed out to Mr. Larson that the lighting was in compliance with the Township Ordinance. Attorney Porter pointed out that the lighting could be installed regardless of whether the special exception use was approved, and since it was in compliance with the Township Ordinance, the Township was not in a position to deny the request for the additional lighting. Ms. Everett asked if the expansion was added, but not the special uses, if the same lighting could be put in place. Ms. Stefforia and Ms. Bugge indicated that the applicant had the right to install that lighting regardless of whether the pharmacy drive-up was approved or not.
The Acting Chairman said, if sharp-cut off shields were put in place, the photometrics would be in compliance with the Township Ordinance. Mr. Larson said he understood that, but he thought that the lighting was necessary as part of the pharmacy proposal, and he did not believe it should be approved. The Acting Chairman said, at this point, the Commission needed to decide whether they wanted to move the matter forward or not.
Ms. Sullivan asked if the biggest hang-up was the racks proposed in the garden area. Ms. Stefforia said, given the fact that the racks would be above the existing fence, she thought it was a significant issue. Ms. Garland-Rike said currently nothing has been approved to go above the fence, and she thought that was a significant issue. Mr. Larson said he did not know whether it was the screening, but the fact that the racks would exceed the height of the fence that was most significant to him. The Acting Chairman asked if it was just the fence, or if it was the expansion of the garden area, or both, that were at issue. Mr. Larson said it was both.
The Acting Chairman inquired as to whether anybody had the propensity to make a motion on the issue. Attorney Porter suggested separating the two special uses to make it easy to distinguish where the sticking points were for the Planning Commission. Ms. Sullivan, at this point, suggested that the Commission address the pharmacy special use and the site plan, but table the issue of the expansion of the garden center and the racks, and let them come back at a later point when the questions raised could be better addressed by the architect for Wal-Mart.
Mr. Larson said he did not think they could separate the site plan from the garden center. Ms. Sullivan asked if they could separate the expansion without approving the racking system. The Acting Chairman said he really did not think they could separate the racking from the expansion for the garden center. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that if they denied the special use, they would have to wait an additional year to reapply. Ms. Sullivan said that was why she was asking the Commission to table the garden center expansion. Attorney Porter said he thought they would have to table the entire expansion of the garden center at this time and not deal with the issue of the racks separate from the expansion itself. Ms. Sullivan said she would agree to that, and she asked that the special exception use to expand the garden center be tabled. Ms. Stefforia said she could not think of one instance where the Commission had refused to grant such a request.
The Acting Chairman said that they needed a motion on the issue, either to grant or deny the special use for the pharmacy. He said he thought the lesser evil was the pharmacy issue, and that the larger conflict was directed at the superstore itself, but that they were not able to deny that, since it was apparently in compliance with site plan requirements of the Township.
Mr. Smith made a motion to approve the special exception use for the pharmacy, as submitted, and table the special exception use for the expansion of the garden center as requested, based upon the design as submitted, including the representation regarding the knock-down ballards, rails and appropriate striping for traffic to be included as part of the proposal. Ms. Garland-Rike said she would second the motion for purposes of the discussion. The Acting Chairman said, while it was not a perfect proposal, he thought it was appropriate to approve the special exception use, based upon the Commission's discussions and the report of the Planning Department. Ms. Everett said she agreed; she said that the special exception use would certainly not have as much impact as the proposed expansion, and the permitted use was not a matter with which the Commission could take issue. The Acting Chairman asked for any further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 4-to-1, with Mr. Larson in opposition.
The Acting Chairman asked for the input of the Commissioners on the site plan. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that, while it was not in her report, the applicant had agreed to install the bike path and the bike lane as required by the Zoning Ordinance. The Acting Chairman asked if he understood correctly that the parking could not be reduced below Ordinance standards. Attorney Porter indicated he thought that was a correct statement.
Mr. Larson asked that the landscaping list maintain the native Michigan plants as previously approved. Mr. Larson said he thought there should have been more appropriate naturalizing of the landscaping. Ms. Stefforia said she thought that went beyond what was provided for in the Ordinance. The Acting Chairman asked Mr. Larson if he was referring to the additional landscaping on the south side of the property. Mr. Larson said he was referring to all of the landscaping. He said he believed that landscape fabric ran contrary to the requirement of naturalized landscaping. Ms. Stefforia said such a requirement would require a text change. Attorney Porter noted that was not provided for in the Ordinance and that the Planning Commission had no authority to impose such a restriction on the applicant. The Acting Chairman asked that the applicant respect the concerns expressed to them by the Planning Commission members with regard to their landscaping.
Ms. Everett said she wondered how they would address the site plan or parking for the other building for Crystal Car Wash. The Acting Chairman said he did not think it was something which the Commission could address tonight, since it was not provided for in the plans. Ms. Everett also wondered, if they added parking spaces for the other business, whether they would take parking spaces away from the Wal-Mart parking. Ms. Stefforia said, if they were going to remove the proposed trees, they would also need a greenspace deviation. Ms. Sullivan suggested that the Commission address the site plan as submitted, and if there were going to be any deviations from the site plan, that Wal-Mart return once again to the Planning Commission with that issue. The Planning Commission concurred.
The Acting Chairman asked if there was any Planning Commission member who would propose a motion. Ms. Garland-Rike made a motion to approve the site plan as submitted, subject to the following conditions:
(1) A bike path be established along 9th Street;
(2) A bike lane be established along 8th Street.
(3) All dead required landscaping must be replaced, and all new required landscaping must be installed, pursuant to a revised and Staff-approved landscaping plan, before a Certificate of Occupancy may be issued for the building expansion, or a Performance Guarantee, consistent with the provisions of Section 82.950, must be provided.
(4) Lighting shall be subject to Township Ordinances.
(5) Fire Department approval of the site plan pursuant to adopted codes;
(6) Stormwater and other site engineering issues must be reviewed and approved by the Township Engineer.
(7) The site plan is subject to and shall include all conditions of June 27, 2002, and November 21, 2002.
The Acting Chairman asked if there was a second to the motion. Mr. Smith seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 4-to-1, with Mr. Larson in opposition.
Ms. Stefforia said that Camp Fido had inquired whether a member-only dog park could be considered as an expansion to their existing operation. If so, how would they treat it? After a brief discussion, it was recommended that it be treated as a kennel, since the proposed use would allow a large number of dogs outside. Attorney Porter said he thought it would be best to treat it as a kennel and a special use, since it would provide the maximum notice to neighbors, while outdoor recreation might be misunderstood as being for persons rather than dogs.
Planning Commissioner Comments
There was a general discussion by the Commission regarding the recent problems involving large commercial development in the Township and how they could be better handled in the future. There were also comments made regarding tightening up the Township Ordinance in a number of areas. Ms. Stefforia suggested that those items be placed on a future work session for the Planning Commission's consideration. The Commission members concurred.
There being no further business, the meeting at approximately 10:15 p.m.
OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
November 4, 2005