September 23, 2004




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, September 23, 2004, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neil G. Sikora, Chairperson
Deborah L. Everett
Lee Larson
Terry Schley
James Turcott
Kathleen Garland-Rike


Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately ten other interested persons.


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


The Chairperson asked if there were any amendments to the Agenda. Ms. Stefforia said that she would like to add a text amendment request which they had received under "Other Business". Mr. Larson made a motion to approve the Agenda as amended, and Ms. Everett seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Chairperson indicated that the next item on the Agenda was the approval of the minutes of August 26, 2004. Mr. Schley made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.


The Chairperson stated that the next item on the Agenda was consideration of a special exception use and site plan amendment for Citizens Credit Union. The subject property consists of two parcels, being Parcel Nos. 3905-14-288-010 and 3905-14-288-02, is situated in the "R-3" Residence District zoning classification, and is located at 6170 West Main Street. The Chairperson called for a report from the Planning Department Staff. Ms. Bugge submitted her report to the Commission dated September 28, 2004 (distributed September 23), and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Commissioners that they had approved the special exception use and site plan for Citizens Credit Union at their meeting of August 26, 2004. She said Citizens Credit Union, in response to the conditions placed on the approval, was seeking amendments to the special exception use and site plan previously approved.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the subject area using an overhead map, showing the existing zoning in the area surrounding the subject property. Ms. Bugge also reviewed the current uses for the surrounding properties which consisted mostly of residential homes converted to office buildings, rental units or a mix of other commercial uses. She made specific mention of the West Port subdivision to the north, and noted that there were offices within the "R-3" District currently abutting several lots in that subdivision.

She told the Planning Commission that Citizens Credit Union wanted to revise its site plan to provide for a one-way circulation pattern throughout the site. She said that the greenspace had been expanded to 45 feet in width, totally encompassing the Township sewer easement, and enabling the prescribed Type C landscaping to be installed. She noted that a 15.5 foot wide, one-way drive aisle had been installed adjacent to the greenspace to allow a circulation pattern that Citizens Credit Union considered optimum for its operation. She said this would result in a reduction of 8.5 feet of pavement from the previous plan.

Ms. Bugge then provided a close-up of the existing area, showing the location for the proposed building in relationship to the surrounding uses, including the residential uses to the north. Ms. Bugge then provided an overhead of the site plan for purposes of reviewing the applicant's request. She made specific reference to the addition of a drive island to direct traffic to the north of the property for egress, as well as the establishment of one-way traffic through the proposed parking area. She highlighted the fact that the property now consisted of 50% greenspace and met the Type C landscaping required by the Township's Zoning Ordinance.

Ms. Bugge presented an e-mail transmission from Gary Gerds, who lives in the West Port subdivision.

Ms. Bugge proceeded to review the special exception use criteria from Section 60 of the Township Ordinance, as well as the conditions and limitations of Section 23.404 of the Ordinance. After completing that review, she then took the Planning Commission through site plan review, pursuant to Section 82 of the Township Zoning Ordinance.

After Ms. Bugge concluded her presentation, the Chairperson asked the Commission members if they had any questions. Mr. Schley asked if the bypass drive to the east would be increased from 11 feet to 15 feet per the request of the Township Fire Department. Ms. Bugge said that it would, and that is why she subjected the site plan approval to a review by the Township Fire Department.

The Chairperson asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Steve Hassevoort from Diekema Hamann introduced himself to the Commission. He explained that, after the last Planning Commission meeting, the Board for the Credit Union met and were quite concerned about the traffic flow and pedestrian problems. He said the Board asked its engineers to redesign the site for a one-way traffic pattern, taking into account the Planning Commission's concerns. He said he thought they had addressed the Commission's concerns and yet provided for a traffic pattern that the Credit Union believed would be conducive to its business operations.

Mr. Paul Warnick added that they had moved the dumpster approximately 40 feet further to the west in an attempt to move it further away from the residential area.

Mr. Turcott asked if the ATM would operate 24 hours a day. Mr. Warnick said that he believed that it would. Mr. Turcott asked how much business would occur between the hours of 12 midnight and 8 a.m. Mr. Warnick responded that he was not sure. Mr. Brian Dylhoff, a member of the Credit Union Board of Directors said that they anticipated approximately 300 cars a day through the drive-in and lobby, but he was not sure of the projected number of people using the ATM, particularly after midnight. He said he thought most of their ATM traffic was done in the early morning and early evening. Mr. Turcott asked if there would be a negative effect on their operation if they were to close the ATM during the early morning hours. Mr. Dylhoff said it was hard to say, but they did want to provide 24-hour convenience to their clientele.

Mr. Bill Engel said that he lived next door and that there was a lot of traffic at the Bertolissi building after midnight. However, he said he did not perceive it as being a serious problem.

The Chairperson asked the applicant, even if they had an estimate of the projected number of vehicles, if they would not still be trying to increase business at this proposed location. Mr. Dylhoff said that was true, and they expected the business traffic to increase somewhat over time.

The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions of the applicant. Hearing none, he called for comment from the public. Hearing none, the Chairperson asked that the Commission review Mr. Gerds' e-mail transmission and take his comments into account. Attorney Porter said he would note Mr. Gerds' concerns in the record. Mr. Gerds' e-mail stated that he remained concerned about light and noise from the proposed Credit Union, especially in light of the fact that the Credit Union would have a 24-hour accessible ATM. He noted that he appreciated the concession regarding the placement of dumpster and attention to detail to the landscaping to serve as a buffer from light and noise. Mr. Gerds also noted his concern about the trailers currently on the property, and he encouraged the Township to take enforcement action.

There being no other public comment, the Chairperson called for Commission deliberations. The Chairperson asked if the amendments made by the applicant since the time of the granting of the special use permit raised any questions or comments by the Planning Commission members. Ms. Everett said she thought that the applicant had certainly tried to accommodate everything that the Planning Commission had requested. She said she did not know what more the applicant could have done to address the concerns raised by the Planning Commission. The Chairperson said he was very impressed and thought that the proposed plan provided for less parking, more greenspace and less overall pavement.

Ms. Garland-Rike asked if the applicant was still requesting a deviation to the landscape requirements. Ms. Bugge indicated that they were not, and they would comply with the Type C landscaping provisions of the Ordinance.

The Chairperson noted that the Commission had deliberated extensively at its last meeting before granting the special exception use permit, and thought they had addressed most of the issues at that time. The Chairperson asked how the Commission wished to proceed. After a brief discussion and advice of counsel, the Commissioners determined to address the issuance of the special exception use permit, based upon the discussions of the Commission at its last meeting, the fact that the applicant had revised the site plan to further address the concerns raised by the Planning Commission, and the report of the Planning Department. The Commission would then take separate action on the amendment of the site plan itself.

Ms. Everett made a motion to approve the special exception use permit based upon the Commission's deliberations of August 26, 2004, the revised site plan of the applicant and the review of the Planning Department and its report dated September 28, 2004. Mr. Schley seconded the motion, and the Chairperson called for discussion on the motion. Hearing none, he called for a vote, and the motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Everett made a motion to approve the site plan as submitted, subject to the conditions as set forth in Ms. Bugge's report of September 28, 2004, set forth below:

(1) Approval is subject to obtaining a driveway permit from MDOT.

(2) A shared access easement and maintenance agreement with the adjacent property owner, William Engel, must be submitted to the Township for approval and subsequently recorded prior to issuance of a building permit.

(3) A provision of a five-foot-wide sidewalk in conformance with MDOT standards in the West Main Street right-of-way is required.

(4) All parking must conform to Section 68.000 and Section 23.404.

(5) Approval shall be contingent upon submitting final building elevations for Staff review and finding them compatible with the site plan.

(6) Setbacks shall comply with Sections 64.000 and 23.404.

(7) All lighting shall comply with Section 78.700. Outside building-mounted fixture locations and details, if any, shall be submitted to the Township for review and approval.

(8) Approval shall be subject to the submission of sign details for review and approval through the sign-permitting process. All signs shall comply with Section 76.000.

(9) Landscaping in accordance with Section 75 and shall be provided.

(10) Execution of a hold harmless agreement with the Township regarding the north greenspace is required.

(11) Landscaping shall be installed before a Certificate of Occupancy will be granted, or a Performance Guarantee, consistent with the provisions of Section 82.950, must be provided.

(12) Redescription of the property lines must occur and be evidenced by recorded documents prior to the issuance of a building permit.

(13) Site plan approval shall be subject to the applicant satisfying Fire Department requirements, pursuant to the adopted codes.

(14) Site engineering and stormwater management are subject to review and a finding by the Township Engineer that they are adequate.

(15) An easement for the extension of public sewer over the subject property shall be executed.

(16) Approval is subject to extension of the public sewer and water to the site.

(17) All utilities shall be underground.

(18) An Earth Change Permit must be obtained from the Drain Commissioner.

Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The Chairperson called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

Ms. Stefforia said that Belle Tire had submitted a request for a text amendment allowing flag poles to be increased to a height not to exceed 60 feet.

Mr. Larson asked why action had not been pursued against Belle Tire. Ms. Stefforia said, when a party is pursuing some form of relief through the Township, enforcement action is not pursued until that process is concluded. She said Belle Tire had applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals and now have applied for a text change.

Mr. Turcott asked whether or not the Planning Commission could reject the request for a text change. Ms. Stefforia said, since they submitted an application, that they were entitled to a public hearing on the matter, and the Planning Commission would have to consider their request before making a determination.

Mr. Schley said he was concerned about the Township's failure to take action against Belle Tire, because the longer the flag was up the less opportunity there was for debate. There was the appearance that the Township was taking no action, and the absence of action was in itself an action.

The Chairperson said he thought it sent the wrong message to have this matter outstanding for such a long period because citizens would get the impression that a large commercial establishment could get away with doing something that the average citizen could not. Therefore, he recommended that the Planning Commission proceed with the text amendment hearing as soon as possible.

Mr. Larson made a motion to hold the public hearing on Belle Tire's proposed text amendment on October 28, 2004. The motion was seconded by Mr. Schley. The Chairman called for discussion on the motion.

Ms. Garland-Rike reminded the Commission that the last time this issue was up for approval, the Commission had looked at the issue of height and the negative effects that large flag poles have on the aesthetic quality of the community. She said that the Planning Commission had not simply pulled an arbitrary figure out of the air, but set the height at 30 feet for a purpose.

Mr. Turcott said, contrary to the representations by Belle Tire, that the Belle Tires in the Traverse City area all had 20-foot flag poles. Ms. Stefforia said she would contact the planners in the area and try to obtain photographs of those flagpoles for their upcoming meeting.

Ms. Everett noted that the individuals who were asking for an exception for the American flag were failing to understand the concept of equal protection as explained to them by Township counsel. She thought it was unfortunate that the Township was being painted as unpatriotic.

The Chairperson asked if there was any further discussion, and hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Planning Commissioner Comments

Ms. Stefforia asked if perhaps the Township Staff should simply hit the highlights in their Staff reports rather than reviewing them in their entirety before the Planning Commission. Mr. Larson said that he thought part of the reason for that review was for the benefit of the public. The Chairperson said he would agree with that, except on those occasions, like the present meeting, where there were members of the public present. He thought it was important for the Staff to review its report for their consideration. Ms. Everett said she thought it was better when people were present to review the report and that, given the spirited debate last time, she thought it was good that Ms. Bugge reviewed her report for the Planning Commission at the present meeting.

Mr. Turcott informed the Commission that a professor from John Hopkins University would be lecturing at KVCC on October 11, 2004, at 7 p.m. regarding his book, Choosing Civility. He invited the Planning Commission members to attend.


The Chairperson asked if there were further comments, and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at approximately 7:59 p.m.


Kathleen Garland-Rike, Secretary
Minutes prepared:
September 27, 2004

Minutes approved:
, 2004