Meeting Minutes

October 30, 1997





A special meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, October 30, 1997, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Ken Heisig
Ted Corakis
Millard Loy
Lara Meeuwse
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell

Members Absent: Marvin Block

Also present were Rebecca Harvey of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and five (5) other interested persons.


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


The Chairperson suggested moving item 4, Master Land Use Plan review of the Industrial classification, to the November 13, 1997, meeting. He also suggested adding, under "Other Business," feedback from the last Township Board meeting and a discussion of the joint meeting with the Township Board scheduled for November 18, 1997. Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the agenda as amended. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The next item was consideration of the application of United Homes of Michigan, Inc., for special exception use permit for approval of a Planned Unit Development on approximately 125 acres located along Quail Run Drive in the NE╝ of Land Section 26 and the SE╝ of Land Section 23 known as Quail Meadow. The Planning Commission would also consider site plan amendment concerning phases I and II and sketch plan amendment for the remainder of the project.

Ms. Harvey made reference to the application letter received from the applicant and two maps. She noted that the "color map" shows a drawing of the site plan as previously approved for phases I and II and the sketch plan as approved for the remainder of the project.

She noted that the project had originally received its approvals in the late 1980's. Since that time, the project had received renewals. The basic project remained the same, and construction began in 1994. There were two issues with regard to amendment of the site plan, and each had to do with design standards. The amendment concerned the "condominium unit buildings" and not the single-family-home lots. The condominium or multi-family buildings were served primarily by private access drives which were not public roads. Since building setback is determined from a public road, most condominium buildings were not subject to the setback standards. However, those built along Quail Run Drive were subject to the 40' setback since that is a public road.

It was noted that the buildings in phase I comply with the 40' setback. However, most buildings in phase II do not comply with the 40' setback from Quail Run Drive. The setbacks range from 25' to 30'. Additionally, the Ordinance requires a 40' separation between buildings. She noted that the condominium buildings in phases I and II are separated by approximately 20-25'. She stated that phase I is completed and occupied and the building of phase II has begun. The applicant was asking for approval for deviation from these standards. Therefore, the Planning Commission was being asked to amend the approved site plan for phase I as to building separation, amend the site plan for phase II as to building separation and setbacks, and amend the sketch plan and special exception use approval for the entire project with regard to both standards.

Ms. Harvey made reference to Section 60.430, which allows deviation if the purpose of the PUD is served thereby. She noted that the intent of this section was to allow flexibility in, and modifiability of, the standards where the intent of the PUD provisions was retained. The section allowing deviation would eliminate the need to comply with the strict variance criteria considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals. She noted that variances are difficult to obtain and that the purpose of these provisions was to allow deviation where appropriate.

With regard to health, safety and welfare, she said that the layout as proposed had received Fire Department review and approval.

Bruce Brown was present on behalf of the applicant, stating that United Homes had "done quite a few PUD projects around the state." They felt that a PUD development gave "flexibility" in the use of the land. Mr. Brown stated that the project as proposed provided for substantially more open space and less density than could have been developed under the Ordinance. He felt that the plan as submitted would benefit the community. Mr. Brown also noted that the plan, to scale, had been submitted by the applicant and they believed it had received approval. They proceeded with their project based upon the approval received. They were surprised to learn that the project did not comply with the spacing and setback standards. With regard to the setback from Quail Run Drive, Mr. Brown stated it was "mostly garage areas" which were affected. Ms. Harvey stated that both the applicant and the Township had made erroneous assumptions which led to the present situation.

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, Mr. Brown described the phase lines. The Chairperson made reference to the letter of United Homes dated October 17, 1997. Mr. Brown stated that the applicant would have to "rebuild" in fill area, i.e., the retention system, if it was forced to move the buildings back along Quail Run Drive. This would result in disturbance of the natural topography and could eliminate a number of trees.

David Markus, a resident of Quail Run, had questions with regard to the plan. He asked how the plan had been previously modified. The Chairperson responded that the villa condominiums now proposed for later phases at one time were to be large-lot homes. There had also been apartment buildings proposed. The modifications which were previously made to the plan by the applicant and approved by the Board reduced the density of the project. Ms. Harvey stated that the PUD project was of a density far less than the maximum allowed by the Township Ordinance.

Clare Callen was concerned with regard to the 40' setback that there would be a problem in that there would not be sufficient parking in front of the garage. Since there was no area along the road for parking, she felt that this might cause congestion when residents had a number of visitors. She also noted that there were drainage problems in the areas already constructed in phase I and that there was water behind the homes after a rainfall.

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

The Chairperson made reference to Section 60.410, which defines the purpose of the PUD provisions. He noted that the project proposed 10% open space and the Planning Commission had previously approved the plan, recognizing the Ordinance requires only 5%. He felt that the project was also designed to retain natural features, such as trees and topography. It involves minimal excavation. He was concerned that, if the dimensional standards were strictly applied, the plan might not meet the purpose of the PUD provisions as well in that it would have a greater impact on topography and on the elimination of natural features such as trees. However, he was concerned about parking. He also expressed concern about Ms. Callen's comments that water retention was a problem. Nevertheless, he felt that the deviation from the design standards would meet the purpose of the PUD provisions.

Mr. Loy agreed, stating that the Planning Commission felt the plan as proposed met the purpose much more than the previously proposed plan, which included apartment buildings. He felt that purchasers of the condominiums would recognize the limited parking when they purchased their property. He felt deviation was important in that flexibility was crucial to the design of a "good plan."

Mr. Corakis agreed, stating he felt that other condominium projects included buildings much closer to the road than the instant project. Further, if redesigned, the project would involve the cutting down of too many trees.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented, as to parking, that it appeared to her that there was enough room to get two vehicles to park in the driveway. The applicant concurred, stating that the condominiums had been designed to accommodate two interior and two exterior parking spaces per unit.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented that she was in favor of deviation.

In response to Ms. Heiny-Cogswell's question, Ms. Harvey stated that the deviation would not affect the single-family-home setbacks.

There was discussion of the sidewalks which would be built in the project.

Mr. Heisig stated he felt that the spacing between buildings would have been approved as proposed had the Planning Commission originally understood that they did not meet the 40' separation standard. As to building setback from Quail Run Drive, he did not believe he would have originally approved such a deviation in that he felt the project could be redesigned to meet the standard. However, since the project was previously approved and building commenced, he was not in favor of making the applicant change the setbacks.

The Chairperson suggested that the Planning Commission might require that phases III and beyond meet the setback requirement. The Chairperson also suggested that the applicant look at the retention or drainage issue and respond to the Township as to how this would be addressed. Ms. Meeuwse agreed, stating that she was also concerned about drainage, particularly with regard to building R. Ms. Harvey noted that the Township Engineer had previously reviewed the project extensively and did require modifications and monitoring. The applicant responded that it is not unusual to struggle with the drainage issue at first. He noted that the phase I drainage issues would continue to be addressed by the applicant.

After further discussion, Mr. Loy moved to approve amendments to the site plan, special exception use and sketch plan approvals to allow deviation from the building setback and building separation standards for phases I and II as requested, based upon the previous discussion. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion.

There was discussion of the meaning of the motion, and Mr. Loy clarified that his motion intended deviation for all phases of the project with regard to building separation. As to building setbacks, only phase II was approved for deviation. Subsequent phases should comply unless another deviation was granted. Further, it was clarified that the deviation with regard to these standards concerned only the condominium buildings. Further, it was clarified that the Planning Commission was approving the drawing dated July 11, 1996. Mr. Corakis agreed that that was his understanding of the motion.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.


The Chairperson discussed the Township Board meeting of the previous Tuesday. He noted that three Planning Commission items were on the agenda. The revisions to the Zoning Ordinance concerning Communication Towers had been adopted. The Planning Commission recommendation for denial of the Schramm request regarding office buildings in the Industrial District had been upheld by the Township Board.

With regard to the Neighborhood Commercial (i.e., Rural Residential and Residential Commercial), the Township Board had voted 4-3 to return the item to the Planning Commission. One reason for the return was, again, the fact that the text distinguished between the eastern and western portions of the Township. It was suggested that one District apply Township-wide. Another member had a problem in understanding the process involved in the overlay zone. The Chairperson suggested that this item be discussed at the joint meeting with the Township Board.

There was discussion of other items which would be considered at the joint meeting, such as the historical survey.


There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.