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September 24, 2002

The Oshtemo Township Board held its work session at the Township Hall. Supervisor VanDyke called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.

Supervisor John VanDyke
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Nancy Culp
Trustee Lois Brown
Trustee Tom Brodasky
Trustee Dave Bushouse
Trustee Jim Worline

Also present was Mike Crandall, Township Auditor, Ken Howe, Fire Chief, and 1 interested person.

The Board reviewed the proposed 2003 budget.

Supervisor VanDyke called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Supervisor John VanDyke
Clerk Deb Everett
Treasurer Nancy Culp
Trustee Tom Brodasky
Trustee Lois Brown
Trustee Dave Bushouse
Trustee Jim Worline

Also present was Patricia Mason, Township Attorney, Bob Snell and Marc Elliott, Township Engineers, Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Planner, Neil Sikora, Planning Commission Chairman, Scott Paddock, Ordinance Enforcement Officer and approximately 17 interested people.

Clerk Everett noted a correction made to the September 10th minutes for the Section 33 rezoning item, "residential portion of" added in the second line of the first paragraph after "include". Motion by Brown, second by Brodasky to approve the minutes of the September 10th meeting as corrected and September 13th special meeting as presented. Carried.

Income to the General and Fire Funds of $13,520.38 and disbursements of $214,534.88 were reported. Motion by Worline, second by Culp to accept the receipts and disbursements report. Carried.




Motion by Brown, second by Brodasky to amend the agenda to include a public hearing for installation of street lights. It was noted the proper notice had been given to effected property owners. Treasurer Culp advised the public hearing was for 4 lights in the Rosewood Plat, recently renamed Bella Sera, 5 lights in West Port Trails #2, 4 lights on Tanager Lane, 1 light on Tanager Court and 4 lights on Quail Run Drive.

Dale Pattison, 2270 North 9th Street, commented he owns property across 9th Street from the Bella Sera Plat and feels he would receive no benefit. He also expressed concern regarding other light installations which were to the rear of his property that he felt were not beneficial. He requested the policy of assessing any property within 300 feet of a street light be changed. He also commented he felt the drainage ponds in the Bella Sera Plat were dangerous and he had observed children there.

Trustee Brown advised Mr. Pattison he can appeal to the Road Committee for a variance. Clerk Everett provided Mr. Pattison with the committee names and contact number.

Jim Stowe, 3790 North 9th Street commented his property is not part of the West Port Trails #2 Plat and requested he be excluded from the special assessment district. (Statement filed in Supplement to Minutes)

Trustees Brown, Bushouse, and Brodasky commented there is a safety benefit to all, the policy has been in effect a long time and has worked effectively.

Motion by Brown, second by Brodasky to approve the street lights as presented and confirm the special assessment roll and direct the Road Committee to review the street light policy. Roll call vote showed Brodasky-yes, Brown-yes, Bushouse-yes, Culp-yes, Everett-yes, VanDyke-yes, Worline-yes.


A rezoning request initiated by Marv VanderVeen for property he owns on South 9th Street south of Atlantic Avenue, which adjoins the Huntington Run manufactured home community, was before the Board for Second Reading.

Motion by Worline, second by Brodasky to approve the rezoning. Roll call vote showed Brown-yes, Bushouse-yes, Culp-yes, Everett-yes, VanDyke-yes, Worline-yes, Brodasky-yes.


Planner Mary Lynn Bugge presented Young's Acre for final approval advising all steps were complete. Attorney Mason advised she was satisfied with the title insurance documents.

Motion by Everett, second by Brown to grant final approval of the final plat. Roll call vote showed Bushouse-yes, Culp-yes, Everett-yes, VanDyke-yes, Worline-yes, Brodasky-yes, Brown-yes.


Planning Director Jodi Stefforia presented a Planning Commission Recommendation to amend the Open Space Development section of the Zoning Ordinance advising that legislation was approved which makes "Open Space Preservation Developments" a permitted use and the ordinance must be amended to reflect the new law by December 15, 2002.

The Planning Commission recommends the existing provisions of Section 60.500 where 40% of gross acreage must be open space, be kept as a Special Exception Use and Open Space Preservation Residential Developments with 50% gross acreage as open space become a permitted use and addressed in a separate Section.

Motion by Brown, second by Brodasky to set the proposed amendment for First Reading on October 8th. Carried.


Neil Sikora, Planning Commission Chairman presented a recommendation for the establishment of an Agricultural zoning district and renaming of the current Agricultural-Rural district to Rural Residential. He commented the Planning Commission monitors and oversees the effectiveness and status of the Master Land Use Plan and recommends changes as required, has the responsibility to look beyond the day to day zoning issues and provide guidance for future land use development through the MLUP, review zoning ordinances and make recommendations to bring them into conformance with and allow implementation of the MLUP. He advised that regarding the Agricultural and Rural Residential districts, the Planning Commission worked to provide a plan which is flexible, reasonable, and adequate to meet the needs and desires of residents while maintaining a consistent direction for growth which retains the rural character of the community. He commented that rural character is generally defined as being low density, quiet, having ample open space and being primarily residential. He commented it was apparent to the commission that the Township's rural character is threatened by non resident and medium high density residential development in inappropriate locations, the loss of natural resources and open space to development and careless land divisions and the commission's charge is to continue to address these threats in the face of increased growth pressures. He advised the result of a survey in 1991 showed support for provisions that included minimum lot sizes required in the central and western 1/3 of the Township and respondents at that time acknowledged these areas differ from the eastern 1/3 and as such should have different development criteria; in a more recent survey more than 80% of respondents selected either rural or low density residential to describe the overall character of the Township and strong support was indicated for a distinction that permitted residential densities with more than 2/3 respondents in agreement that less dense development is appropriate in the central and western 1/3 of the Township. He commented this is consistent with the vision of the MLUP yet is contradictory to current zoning provisions and many hours of work by the commission resulted in the recommendations. He further commented numerous concerns were raised at the various public hearings that the commission worked hard to address including tabling the issue to allow a task force to work toward a compromise which is what is before the Board which honors the spirit and direction of the MLUP and is not over burdensome does not unreasonably restrict the use of land and does not require excessive enforcement or administration. Norm French, 9470 Stadium Drive, commented he disagreed with Mr. Sikora indicating he was part of the task force and been assured the proposed changes would not effect the value of development rights of his property, but in conversation with three different developers, two said if they were to purchase his property for development under the new proposal up to 30% of value existing today would disappear. He further commented to understand his concern, consider if someone tried to remortgage their property and found a third of the value taken away. He also commented he is told this is a rural community, however he looks at it as a bedroom community; it is a matter of how you view things; he realizes what it is to make a decision that not everyone will be happy with but urged the Board to reconsider what is being done to a few, selling their developmental rights to some extent down the drain by strongly encouraging open space communities. In response to a questions from Trustees Brown and Brodasky, Mr. French indicated he was not sure what the definition of rural residential is, the character of the Township has changed, not every financial institution will finance open space development as part of the property is owned by an association and it was his understanding through the task force that there is more work and expense involved before lots can be sold. Jean Bourner, 2090 North 6th Street, commented there is a plat next to her land and also next to land they own on West H Avenue. She addressed the question of what is rural residential commenting it is getting smaller all the time, they have enjoyed farming but what will it be like for her children and grandchildren, are they going to be able to farm with houses all around; this is a real concern. Dave Roberts, 6462 Bayfield, commented he has been a resident for 35 years and as a builder has built several homes in the Township. He commented he builds affordable homes and concerned the information about open space communities is skewed as advantageous but costs more, and while there are condos and townhouses it is not quite like having a home that is just yours where the land is yours. He further commented that as lots cost more, smaller homes cannot be built. In response to a question from Trustee Brodasky regarding what is "affordable", Mr. Roberts indicated someone with an annual income of $35,000-$40,000 would probably be looking for a lot in the $15,000-$20,000 range and a 1,100 square foot home. Trustee Brown commented that while she keeps hearing the affordability issue is only in this township, personal experience says land costs are up everywhere. Mr. Roberts disagreed and commented that affordable homes are being built in subdivisions in the Mattawan and PawPaw areas. He also commented his perception of rural residential is five acres. Trustee Brown commented that she gets a different definition every time she asks someone. Trustee Worline commented he felt the land cost is effected by people breaking land up and wanting to make money along with where people want to live; as long as people are willing to pay the cost goes up. Mr. Roberts commented an affordable lot can be found; you just have to keep looking.

Earnie Best, 951 Oshtemo Trace, president of the Home Builders Association, commented that it costs the same to build a house anywhere, the difference is in the land cost, for example, the Kalamazoo County Road Commission charges $75.00 for a driveway permit, in VanBuren County they are free; all factors effect the cost of development and in Kalamazoo County it is higher. He further commented the home builders support good planning and the efforts of the Planning Commission and Township Board, but a new plan must benefit the community, not any special interest group. He also commented they support the concept of open space development and the changes such as no duplexes except in open space developments; their disagreements are they do not feel the MLUP should be amended to state that traditional plats are not compatible with the future of the Township and requirements of platting of land not served by water in the proposal rural residential district. He commented that the Planning Commission endorsed a task force that included commission members, the Kalamazoo County Director of Environmental Health, Kalamazoo County Road Commission, property owners, builders, realtors, and Township Planning staff. He advised after meeting, the Planning Director offered a proposal he believed to be fair; a traditional plat with density of one unit per acre with 100 foot width at building setback, but the commission endorsed their own plan of one unit per 1.5 acres with 130 width a building setback, which basically mandates any new developments unless designed for the most expensive homes will be open space developments. Mr. Best then provided the example of 40 acres of land not served by water in an open space development could have 50 homes, a traditional plat under the proposal could have 26, while the original proposal would have allowed 40 homes, which would allow creativity and flexibility of design and increased aesthetic value; increased lot size increases road cost, more earth disturbed and trees destroyed. He then commented the first rule of land planning is to set clear and fair rules that are easily understood and not subject to constant changes, second is to create incentives to promote what the Township wants and Oshtemo is a leader is this area and should be commended as such. He further commented that by preserving 40% open space there is a gain of one extra lot for each 4 acres, a great incentive to preserve open space, however, only a few have been developed and the question needs to asked why; he feels developers are concerned the lots will sell; the law of supply and demand must be respected in land planning and the worst thing in planning is to over regulate. He commented another concern should be groundwater; how would 50 homes on 24 acres effect the environment and would that be compatible with rural residential.

John Niewenhuis, 3265 South 6th Street, commented that just because other townships are doing something does not mean Oshtemo should unless we can learn from their mistakes; the Township should not be just for the rich.

Planning Director Jodi Stefforia commented that the Township has more diversity than any other community in the county as far as housing choices; starter homes, 17% of all pre-manufactured homes in the county, more than any other community. She also commented that any open space development would be reviewed by the Planning Commission to insure that lot and road placements respect the natural resources, the proposal is not a mandate to development open space communities, and suggested if everyone would be more comfortable we can not give any incentives to development open space and just deal with minimum lot sizes in traditional developments, however, the aim is to create incentives to preserve land. She advised the proposal is not suggesting minimum lot sizes be based on the number of families but by dwelling unit so if a developer chose to develop duplexes in an open space community there would be half as many lots. She also advised as the issue of open space being owned by an association, there are other options, i.e., the open space can be dedicated to a conservancy or land trust. She also felt the statement to Mr. French that his land value would lose 30% was a scare tactic; his land is close to public sewer and could be rezoned to R-2. She further commented the question is what do we want Oshtemo to look like in 15-20 years; if small lots as in Portage are desired, sewer and water needs to be extended now. She further reiterated the earlier comments of Mr. Sikora regarding the community surveys of 1991 and 2001, the charge of the Planning Commission and felt the affordable housing argument does not have a lot of merit as she did a query of township records and found homes being built are not affordable under current provisions and wondered how changing provisions would make homes more expensive, that although larger lots dictate larger houses buyers are already making them bigger. She advised that in the rural residential area she found the average home value is $155,000, considering the least expense to most expensive, throughout the Township the average home value is $135,000, which is not a very big difference and these numbers have evolved with no distinction in density.

Mr. French commented that water and sewer would only be available to 35 acres of his property.

Jean Bourner commented that 30 years ago she had gone to the Zoning Board and strongly suggested an agricultural zoning, 30 years later they are living with plats all around them and what has happened to the agricultural land; we are talking about houses and are not concerned about agricultural land farmers will be forced into selling.

Trustee Bushouse commented he felt Ms. Brown's comment about what is rural is very important, and he has looked back to what has happened without regulation or when they were less, and as an example looked at Section 5 of the Township where there are five or six large properties and a lot of small properties that have been subdivided over 20 years and to look for rural character and houses sitting in woods with a lot trees, you would find that, the point being there was not a lot of regulation, and natural subdivisions from 40 acres to 20 to 10 occurred and this can be found throughout the Township. He also commented that in regards to the surveys, he had a problem with the results as he felt the surveys were a little bit slanted as issued. He further commented one of the oldest rural plats is on 8th Street with 55 foot lots that are deep with smaller homes in front and woods in back. He also commented he has a problem with the common areas of open space developments in that he does not want to burden future boards being asked to get involved in a private operation that could become unsuccessful. He further commented he feels a need to look out for first time home buyer and with different rules for open space development he cannot support the program.

Supervisor VanDyke commented that he agreed with Mr. Bushouse, that the Township must be able to serve everyone in the community and does not believe we should say if you cannot afford it in Oshtemo, you have to go to Milwood, there should be open space and the ability for someone who can afford to build a $200,000 house on 40 acres but feels there should be availability to the poorer people as there are a lot of people in Oshtemo who if lost their home to fire could not afford to live here.

Clerk Everett commented an issue is difficult when trying to serve the interests of different individuals or groups, she understands that Mr. French's property is his estate if he chose to sell it he would want as much value as possible. She also commented maybe the problem is not being able to define rural and perhaps it should be viewed as a density issue; how dense do we want the Township to be and reiterated Ms. Stefforia's comments should the whole Township look like Portage with small lots with the advantages and disadvantages that go along with it. She commented that the charge of the Planning Commission is to implement the MLUP, and for there to be rural residential there has to be something distinctive about it and what distinguishes rural residential or low density from other zonings is the density and one way to achieve lower density is with larger lots, and while this was a difficult issue she will support the Planning Commission recommendation.

Trustee Worline commented there is a need to make the best decision for the Township, and the recommendation supports the MLUP, although he is concerned about affordable housing, feels the Township does have a lot of affordable housing, i.e., manufactured home communities and rental properties.

Mr. VanDyke commented there needs to be a situation where everyone can be taken care of, divided properly and equally and he feels the Planning Department has addressed that, however, it would be discriminatory to eliminate poorer people from living in Oshtemo.

Ms. Everett commented she did not feel the recommendation eliminates poor people, there is diverse housing. She further commented a of lot of choices in life are based on what your household income can support but as long as there is a market for bigger more expensive homes, current conditions will exist and noted that the Township has not seen a decline in the number of homes being built.

Motion by Brodasky, second by Everett to accept the Planning Commission recommendation and set First Reading for October 22nd. Motion denied with Brown, Bushouse, Culp, and VanDyke voting no.

Motion by Bushouse, second by Worline to return the issue to the Planning Commission for review and report at the November 20th joint meeting. Trustee Worline commented the Planning Commission needs direction from those Board members who voted no. Carried.


Trustee Worline commented he understood Board members concerns regarding funding of additional police protection to be possible revenue sharing cuts, ability of the General Fund to afford additional officers, not enough input from citizens, and the need for a referendum.

Trustee Brodasky commented his concern was there had been no consensus from a majority of the residents and it is also difficult to make decision unless we find out if Kalamazoo County is going to be able to support the proposed expansion.

Mr. Worline commented that two officers now assigned to Schoolcraft Village will be available and could be reassigned, but it was his understanding the County Board was not willing to go forward with a definite answer until they know the Township is committed.

Undersheriff Mike Anderson advised he could not speak for the County Board but only allude to past practice but felt there would be available funds already in their expenditure line items but it is a County Board decision and any initiative to deviate from past practice should come from Supervisor VanDyke to the County Administrator.

Mr. Worline commented he did not believe the issue to a referendum, it would only slow the process down, the issue has been investigated and discussed for some time, input was received, and the Board is elected because people trust them to make the right decisions.

Stan Rakowski, 7151 West G Avenue, agreed the Board was elected to do a job, a referendum is not necessary for everything, this needs to be done for the entire Township and as elected officials should just do the right thing.

John Niewenhuis commented he is a 15 year resident and business owner, finds everyone at the Township to be very helpful and seldom comes to meetings since he feels there are competent people on the Board. He further commented that does not approve of free handouts of smoke detectors, etc. as those things come from taxpayer dollars, more development means more tax base, taxes also pay for State Police, and when a township has a contract car with the Sheriff's Department, general cars don't' cover the area and wondered if the answer is adding more officers while paying for coverage not provided. He also commented he does not agree with a tax increase and recent elections indicate people do not want more taxes.

Supervisor VanDyke inquired how many vehicles the Sheriff's Department would have on the road if townships did not have contracts. Captain Timmerman advised currently there are 42 officers, 16 of which are contracted positions, which if eliminated would result in 3 or 4 cars for the entire county.

Mr. VanDkye if there were four additional officers and a serious situation arose elsewhere, those officers would respond and if more support were needed here, officers from other areas would respond. He further commented there are other benefits such as the crime lab, and jail which all require funding and the way to support that is to help pay. He also commented the increased presence would be a deterrent.

Mr. Worline commented officers would only leave the Township when an emergency arose elsewhere, an increase in officers would allow for more traffic control, it has to be a partnership and the millage paid to the county covers other needs.

Undersheriff Anderson commented townships with contracts should expect and do receive general patrol services, they view the contract as over and above general services and a recent study shows equal amounts of coverage from general patrol officers.

Trustee Bushouse commented he also does not agree with handout programs but those come from the federal level. He further commented he had many conversations over the last month and made special efforts to speak with his neighbors and other residents on this issue and found they had no objection. He also commented that in 1976 the Fire Department bit the bullet, established a special assessment, told voters they would never come back for more, but would have a self supporting department. He feels the Township is at the point where the need is the same for police protection, at a growth level needing two officers for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week coverage. He felt a referendum is not needed, as an owner of several parcels; he will also be paying more and wants the process to move forward.

Treasurer Culp commented that 2.5 mills are currently assessed in the commercial area that was originally established for extra coverage in the retail area. She further commented that by subsidizing from the general fund and assessing .5 mill, would be paying twice.

Mr. Bushouse disagreed commenting the patrols would be obligated to be throughout the Township.

Trustee Brown commented the officers would spend more time on the east side of the Township where the current problems are.

Ms. Culp commented she did not feel less than 100 surveys received indicate taxpayer's wishes, if millage is going to be considered, it should be by referendum to collect funds sufficient for the police fund and not subsidize from the general fund.

Ms. Brown commented the current process of subsidizing from the general fund, the portion of the county millage used for police and should an additional .5 mill be assessed would create three areas of funding and felt it should all be in one place.

Mr. Worline felt subsidizing from the general fund is fiscally responsible since that decreases the amount of the special assessment millage that would be needed.

Clerk Everett commented that while a special assessment would insure future funding of police protection, her concerns were the current state of economy as a whole and locally, the county facing budget cuts, the continuing uncertainty regarding revenue sharing and the fact there is no clear answer from the county regarding their ability to support the proposal. She also felt it was not clear what the taxpayers wan and while the Board was elected to make decisions, but effecting taxpayer dollars is a different issue. She advised a special election would cost $8,000 to $10,000. She suggested the Board could consider expanding the police district in the area of most activity.

Mr. Worline commented the entire Township has benefited from the fire special assessment, other options for the police district were considered based on feed back and a majority of the surveys received favored the entire Township. He also commented businesses will pay more due to their taxable values.

Ms. Brown commented the special assessment could be viewed as another tax increase without input and asked if the Township as a whole should pay for special services of a few.

Mr. Worline commented he has walked most of the Township in the past four months, this issue has been discussed and only a few people indicated they were opposed.

Ted Corakis, West N Avenue, commented this issue does not need to go to referendum, it should be voted now, he deals with people every day and has not heard anyone say there is not a need, their only complaint is response time when they need an officer.

Ms. Brown inquired if there were more officers what guarantee is there people on the west side would not wait as long as they do now. Undersheriff Anderson responded while there can be no guarantee since response times could be effected by coinciding events, response times would go down with an increase in the workforce.

Motion by Worline, second by Bushouse to adopt a resolution to set a public hearing for October 22nd on expanding the police special assessment district to include the entire Township and assess .5 mill. Roll call vote showed Culp-no, Everett-no, VanDyke-yes, Worline-yes, Brodasky-yes, Brown-no, Bushouse-yes.


Clerk Everett advised the old township hall on South 8th Street was in a current condition to meet the criteria of the Dangerous Buildings Ordinance. She further advised Ordinance Enforcement Officer Scott Paddock had obtained two bids, one from Building Restoration, Inc. in the amount of $9, 531.00 for repair and one from A & B in the amount of $6,650.00 for demolition of the building.

Ms. Everett further advised the Buildings & Grounds Committee recommends approval of the expenditure for repair as the building has significant historical value and the committee felt for the difference in cost of repair or demolition, it was worth saving.

Motion by Culp, second by Brodasky to accept the bid from Building Restoration, Inc. in the amount of $9,531.00 for repair of the old township hall. Carried.


Clerk Everett advised a request had been received from Metro Transit that the Board adopt a resolution proclaiming October 3, 2002 as "Communities in Motion Day" to promote and advocate use of public transportation.

Motion by Everett, second by Worline to adopt the resolution. Roll call vote showed Everett-yes, VanDyke-yes, Worline-yes, Brodasky-yes, Brown-yes, Bushouse-yes, Culp-yes.


Treasurer Culp presented a request that the Board approve refunding street light assessments that had been received in 1999 and 2000 for street lights not yet installed in the Quail Run Development.

Motion by Brown, second by Brodasky to approve the expenditure. Carried.


Trustee Bushouse advised he attended the Kalamazoo County Road Commission public hearing for the special assessment for North 5th Street paving. He requested the Board approve an additional expenditure of $1,200.00 for the project for assessments lost due to parcel combinations.

Motion by Culp, second by Worline to approve the expenditure. Carried.

Trustee Bushouse also suggested that in the future when road project lists are compiled, residents affected should be notified at that time rather than waiting until the project begins. Board members concurred.

There was no further business and the meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:45 p.m.

Township Clerk Supervisor

Attested: John VanDyke