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September, 2000



A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, September 14, 2000, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

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


Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and 14 other interested persons.


The meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m.


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


Ms. Heiny-Cogswell suggested a change to page six to refer to the former Gantos space. Mr. Sikora noted a typographical error on page 2. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the amendment of the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Ordinance to include as Section 33.000 the "VC" Village Commercial District zoning classification. Further, the Planning Commission was to consider amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to rezone certain properties to the "VC" Village Commercial District classification. The Planning Commission would also consider rezoning of a parcel, a portion of which was in the "C" Local Business District to the "R-4" Residence District so that the entire parcel would be within the "R-4" District. Additionally, the Planning Commission would consider amendment of the Master Land Use Plan to readjust the boundaries of the Village Focus Area.

The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Mr. Corakis stated that he was the owner of property within the Village Focus Area which was being considered for rezoning. The Township Attorney advised that Mr. Corakis should abstain from discussion and from vote on the rezoning of property, but he could take part in consideration of the text.

The Chairperson clarified that the Planning Commission was considering altering the Master Land Use Plan so as to eliminate seven parcels, in the southern portion of the Village Focus Area, from the Village Focus Area Plan. The Chairperson pointed out on an overhead depiction of the area, the properties for which rezoning was being considered.

The Chairperson discussed the history behind the Village Focus Area, noting that it had commenced with work by a citizen committee made up of area residents, property owners and business owners.

The Chairperson commenced to review the proposed "VC" text, making reference to the Statement of Purpose in Section 33.100. Next, the Chairperson itemized the proposed permitted and special exception uses. The design standards were reviewed.

The Chairperson asked for public comment on the item, and Betty Gromek, a Parkview Avenue resident, asked whether there were any plans to extend public sewer to this area; Ms. Stefforia indicated that she did not believe there were any such plans. In response to questions from Ms. Gromek, the Chairperson identified the portions of Parkview Avenue which were located in the Village Focus Area.

Kadir Mohmand was present and commented that Stadium Drive was a 5-lane street. He stated the area was no longer a "village" as it had been when Jodi Stefforia was young. He wondered who benefitted by the Village Focus Area. He felt that the Planning Commission should not take any action until after the new Township Board takes office.

Mr. Rakowski commented that the Board could not discontinue its work program until after the election.

Mehdi Purazrang, a Stadium Drive property owner, was concerned that a property have sufficient parking in order to be developed.

Doug Dommert questioned whether there was a request from the citizenry to establish a Village District. The Chairperson again reiterated that the District to implement the Village Focus Area and the Focus Area itself had been in the works for approximately a decade. The work had started with a subcommittee of citizens who made a recommendation for inclusion into the Master Land Use Plan.

Mr. Dommert was concerned that the application of the Village Commercial District to his property would reduce its value. The Chairperson stated that the Planning Commission's duty was not to decide appropriate zoning based on what would provide a certain land owner with the highest amount of profit. The Planning Commission was weighing the interests of all the citizenry when determining appropriate zoning for properties within the Township.

Ms. Stefforia, in response to a comment that the Village Commercial District had too many regulations, stated that many planning publications indicated that developers prefer an ordinance with clear standards.

Jay Brown, of 9th Street, stated that he felt this text would make his property more useable than it is under the current Ordinance.

Mr. Purazrang spoke again, stating that he was concerned that he could not sell his property to Walgreen's or Rite-Aid under the "VC" text. Ms. Stefforia pointed out that drugstores are allowed in the District. The Chairperson wondered whether Mr. Purazrang had not been able to strike a deal with Walgreen's or Rite-Aid because it needed more property than he owned.

Greg Taylor, representative of the owner of several properties in the area, stated that the properties in question had a variety of uses. He had questions about how the proposed District would be applied. He had questions regarding non-conforming uses. He was concerned that the application of the District would negatively impact existing properties because the provisions were too restrictive.

Jay Brown spoke, stating that many of the parcels in the area have less than 80 feet of frontage. There was a discussion of the fact that if parcels predated the Ordinance they would be considered "buildable" and grandfathered. Mr. Brown felt that, given the existing small lots in the area, the Board should reduce the amount of frontage required from 80 feet.

Mr. Taylor wondered whether the Pinehurst property was affected. It was agreed that the "R-4" zoned portion of the Pinehurst property should not be changed.

Sharon Oisten, a property owner on Stadium Drive, was concerned that a property with only 80 feet of frontage would have to share a driveway. It was noted that there was no requirement of a sharing of drive, but that sharing was encouraged in order to reduce traffic problems.

Greg Taylor had questions with regard to the existing wall signage at Orchard Place. The Township Attorney indicated that it was her opinion that the wall signage would be "grandfathered" and, if not increased, the owner would be allowed to replace a tenant's name with another.

Mr. Purazrang expressed a concern that small parcels would be treated unfairly by the text. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell noted that, since side setbacks were reduced to zero, there would actually be more area than currently is allowed for development of small parcels. Under the current Ordinance provisions, a 20-foot side setback is required. Further, no one would be forced to share parking with another parcel.

Mr. Mohmand felt that the text was too confusing and "too much law".

The public hearing was closed, and the Chairperson summarized the items for consideration.

The Chairperson expressed concern that the public comments seemed to indicate an unwillingness to cooperate between neighboring properties. The Chairperson stated that the goal was to benefit the Township as a whole, not to create a detriment for any one property. He noted that if the community does not plan, it develops haphazardly. In response to the comment that the text represented too much government, the Chairperson noted that the Township had received criticism from developers that there was not enough specificity in the Township's standards.

With regard to properties that were now in compliance with the Village text, it was noted that the Siegel Furniture Store had been developed consistent with the text. Further, two to three properties in the Atlantic/9th Street area had inquired about developing a mixed use which would not be allowed under the current text.

Mr. Corakis commented that he felt the text would allow a greater number of options for development of smaller parcels.

Mr. Sikora echoed the comments of the Chairperson, stating that he was concerned about the lack of community feeling indicated by the public comments. He felt that the text was intended to encourage properties within the Village Area to interact.

Mr. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that, in her opinion, the text was an attempt to allow the area to evolve and avoid something that looked like South Westnedge, especially with regard to access management. The text was an attempt to encourage wiser evolution of development to be proactive rather than reactive with costly road access work at a later date.

The Chairperson noted that some comments had indicated they felt it was too late to preserve the Village Area, and the Chairperson felt that it was better late than never. In his opinion, the Township could not achieve the goal if it was not attempted.

There was discussion of the possibility of making "houses of worship" a special use. The Township Attorney stated that she felt this should not be changed in view of federal legislation which was pending. However, it was the consensus of the Planning Commission that public and private schools should be added as a special exception use.

There was discussion of whether indoor recreational uses should be allowed as a special use. The Chairperson stated that, in his opinion, if the recreational use could comply with the development standards of the text, he was not opposed. Mr. Heisig stated that, in his opinion, some types of recreational uses, like health clubs and rock-climbing facilities, could comply with development standards. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that indoor recreational facilities and health clubs be added as a special exception use.

There was discussion of development standards, particularly the 80-foot frontage requirement. The typical frontages on parcels in the area were noted. Ms. Stefforia stated that some were 66 feet, but most could be accommodated by the 80-foot limitation. It was noted that the Planning Commission had originally suggested the 80-foot standard because the minimum platted lot size for sewer and water in a residential area is 80 feet. The Planning Commission discussed possibly lowering the standard to 65 feet. It was recognized that even if the standard was not lowered, the pre-existing parcels, which were less than 80 feet, would be "grandfathered".

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell felt that there was some logic to reducing the frontage requirement to 65 feet since the minimum side setback under the text would be zero.

The Planning Commission returned to a discussion of the parcels in the area, and it was noted that most were 66 feet or larger. Only two parcels appear to be smaller.

Mr. Heisig commented that the text was intended to promote development of smaller parcels. Therefore, he felt there was some logic to reducing the frontage requirement to 65 feet. A commercial platted lot was required, in areas of sewer and water, to have a 100-foot width. In a commercial area, a 20-foot sideline setback on each side was required, making the buildable width 60 feet. However, it was recognized that there was some need to accommodate a drive, even if shared.

The Chairperson noted that there had been no public comment in opposition to the height, sidewalk and sewer development provisions. There had been some concern regarding parking standards, and the Chairperson noted that, regardless of the building-to- parcel ratio, the use will be required to accommodate parking. The amount of parking required would be dependent upon the use. There was no requirement of shared access or parking, but it was encouraged.

As to signage, the Chairperson expressed concern that in many retail areas, the amount of signage was excessive and distracting to traffic. The Chairperson stated that he could not understand how the District would be detrimental to property values in that it would provide greater options for smaller parcel development.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that there were many examples of developers creating coordinated small-scale developments. This text is designed to allow coordinated small-scale development by individual developers.

Mr. Sikora commented that he resides just outside the Village Focus Area. He frequents many of the businesses in the Area and feels that the current condition of the Area is deplorable. In his opinion, the text would revitalize the Area and encourage people to keep up their property. In his opinion, lack of standards would lead to devaluation of property.

There was discussion of the sidewalk standard, and Ms. Stefforia stated that the Road Commission has said that it will not construct sidewalks or maintain sidewalks, but that they could be placed in the right-of-way.

Mr. Corakis moved to recommend the Village Commercial text as proposed with the addition of public and private schools and indoor recreational and health club uses as special exception uses therein. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion.

The Chairperson asked for public comment on the motion, and Mr. Dommert stated that he felt the Planning Commission should reduce the frontage requirement to 65 feet. Jay Brown agreed, noting that the Township would still have an opportunity to review commercial development in the site plan review process.

Greg Taylor stated that, in his opinion, sharing access is problematic.

There was a discussion of frontage requirements by the Planning Commission after the public hearing was closed again. It was recognized that, if parcels did not share access, that Access Management Standards would require a 24-foot drive. Subdividing the 206 feet of frontage into four parcels that remained after a 24-foot drive was taken out of 230-foot parcel would result in 51.5 feet of frontage for each parcel. If each accommodated half a drive, 63.5 feet of frontage would be required. Planning Commissioners concurred that they were comfortable with the smaller frontage requirement of 65 feet in cases of shared frontage access or compliance with the Access Management Plan.

Mr. Corakis agreed to revise his motion to include a change to the text to reduce the frontage requirement to 65 feet from 80 feet. Mr. Rakowski agreed. Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried unanimously.

The Planning Commission commenced discussion of the rezoning of property to the "VC" District. Mr. Corakis left the Planning Commission dias. There was a discussion of the uses in the area which included offices, retail, post office, restaurant, bank, grocery store, gas station, car wash, homes, church and kennel. As to the Pinehurst multi-family property, Planning Commissioners agreed that it made the most sense to recommend rezoning of the currently "C" Local Business District area on which the driveway and pond were located to the Village Commercial District and leave the remainder of the parcel as zoned in the "R-4" District. It was noted that no dwellings were located in the area currently zoned "C".

After further discussion, Mr. Heisig moved to recommend amendment of the Master Land Use Plan to reflect the new boundaries of the Village Focus Area which eliminated the Industrial, "R-4" and "R-3" zoned parcels in the southern portion of the Area. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion. No public comment was offered on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Sikora moved to recommend amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to rezone the parcels, as noticed, to the "VC" Village Commercial District with the exception of the Pinehurst parcel, i.e., 35-105-021, which it was recommended would remain "R-4" and the commercial portion rezoned to the "VC" District. Further, it was recommended that the Commercial portions of the Millcreek parcels be rezoned to the "R-4" District to make the zoning of the parcels consistent. Mr. Heisig seconded the motion.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Mr. Mohmand asked for clarification on the number of the Pinehurst parcel.

Greg Taylor spoke, suggesting that the four parcels on the north side of Stadium Drive in the "C-1" District remain as zoned. His business has an interest in three of the parcels which are fully developed.

Ms. Stefforia stated that Mary Jane Kinney, who has the Happytails Kennel on the south side of Stadium Drive, has indicated support for the Village Commercial District at her property. One of the "C-1" parcels on the north side of Stadium Drive was a retention pond.

The Chairperson stated that, in his opinion, the development which currently exists on the three eastern-most "C-1" parcels north of Stadium Drive are inconsistent with the Village District. Mr. Sikora agreed, stating that the businesses are different in character. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell was concerned about maintaining the goal of achieving pedestrian access on the "C-1" properties so as to link the Village thereto. The Township Attorney commented that the Area would remain in the Focus Area and therefore, the Master Land Use Plan, which encouraged pedestrian access, would still apply to the "C-1" properties during review processes.

After a consensus was reached by the Planning Commission, Mr. Sikora agreed to amend his motion to exclude the three eastern-most "C-1" zoned parcels on the north side of Stadium Drive from the rezoning recommendation. Mr. Heisig agreed to the motion's amendment. These parcels are located at 6120, 6200 and 6150 Stadium Drive.

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


The Planning Commission considered Draft #1 of the proposed text concerning the parking provisions of the Zoning Ordinance. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

There was a brief review of the proposed text sections by the Chairperson. There was discussion of the possibility of including a percentage of parking spaces which could be "compact car size". Ms. Bugge stated that she was not in favor of such a provision for enforcement reasons and because the trend in car sales was toward SUV and vans. She felt that the 10x20 parking space requirement worked well.

It was noted that the proposed aisle width had been derived from the Access Management Plan. There was a discussion of other changes to the Ordinance so as to be consistent. Mr. Heiny-Cogswell indicated that she would like to consider including a reference to encouraging non-motorized access.

It was agreed that Draft #2 of the proposed text would be considered at the meeting of October 12, 2000.


There was discussion of the Agenda for the next meeting.


There being no further business to come before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 10:45 p.m.



Minutes prepared:
September 19, 2000

Minutes approved:
September 28, 2000