Meeting Minutes

SEPTEMBER 25, 1997








A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, September 25, 1997, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Members present:

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

Members Absent: None

Also present were Rebecca Harvey of the Planning and Zoning Department, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and three (3) other interested persons.



The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m.


Mr. Block moved to approve the agenda as submitted, and Mr. Loy seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Commission considered the minutes of the meeting of September 11, 1997. The changes suggested by Ms. Harvey were noted. Ms. Meeuwse moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Block seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.



The first scheduled item was the application for review of a proposed 18-lot residential subdivision occupying approximately 29Ż acres. The subject property is situated within the 9th Street Focus area located on the east side of South 9th Street approximately 2,600' south of West Main and is within the "R-2" Residence District Zoning classification.

The Chairperson reported that the applicant had requested that the item be tabled. Mr. Loy moved to table consideration of the application to October 9, 1997. Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission next considered an item referred by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Zoning Board of Appeals had requested that the Planning Commission consider the issue of off-premises signs at retail centers. It was noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals had interpreted Section 76.135 of the Zoning Ordinance to require that wall signage be affixed to the wall of the suite or unit being occupied by the business identified by the sign; that the suite or unit is the premises from which goods and services are being sold. Therefore, based upon the definition of sign and billboard, it was felt that the intent of the Ordinance was to limit signage to the location where goods and services are offered.

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

There was a discussion of the purpose of signage, i.e., advertising vs. identification. It was noted that some problems resulted from the fact that free-standing signage was "taken up" by one of the tenants of a multi-tenant site or by signage identifying only the name of the retail center.

Mr. Loy felt that revising the Ordinance would be changing its terms to address a situation where a property owner has not provided adequate or equitable signage to its tenants. Mr. Loy thought that this was the responsibility of the owner. The Chairperson agreed but recognized that there may be a problem where the tenant is located on the back side of a building and customers could not find the suite of the tenant. He felt it would be appropriate to allow for identification signage directing customers throughout the site. It was noted that currently directory/menu signage is allowed under the interpretation of current Ordinance language, which neither prohibited nor provided for same.

Ms. Meeuwse suggested that perhaps the Planning Commission might consider a "marquee sign" which could be affixed to the wall of the retail center which would identify each occupant or tenant, which marquee signage would be visible from the street. Ms. Meeuwse suggested that the owner could be given the option of this signage in place of the free-standing sign. Mr. Loy felt it would still be difficult to see such signage from the street. The Chairperson agreed, stating he felt that it also might constitute "micro managing" the owner of the site. He felt that usually an owner wants to advertise the name of the retail center rather than its individual tenants.

Mr. Corakis commented that he felt current wall and free-standing signage provisions were sufficient, and he cited as an example Orchard Place.

Planning Commission members reviewed the spirit and intent of the Ordinance provisions, noting that the locational guidelines applied to wall signs for retail centers were based upon the following concerns:

(1) Premises identification for emergency response;

(2) Premises identification for customers;

(3) Equitable distribution of the wall sign area permitted to the total facility; and

(4) Allowed (reserved) adequate wall sign area in close proximity to the occupied suite/unit.

Planning Commission members agreed that the reasoning behind the current standards was still valid.

Ms. Harvey said she had searched through other communities' ordinances to see how they addressed this problem. She did not find an applicable provision.

The Chairperson felt that the customer identification of the location of a suite could be solved with a menu board or directory signage, which is on-site signage. He stated that, if tenants feel they need visibility from the street, they should consider this in the selection of location.

The Planning Commission's consensus was that there was no change in the current language of the Ordinance which was necessary or appropriate.


The next item was also referred by the Zoning Board of Appeals, with Ms. Harvey noting that the ZBA had interpreted the text to conclude that a retail center is approved under Section 30.201 of the Ordinance. Therefore, if a tenant therein seeks to use a portion of the retail center as allowed by Sections 30.202 et seq, a site plan amendment is required. The reasoning is that standards applicable to other uses, such as parking, dumpster, loading, etc., are slightly different; therefore, a review is necessary when the use changes. Ms. Harvey stated she believed that the ZBA felt that, although a review was appropriate, perhaps the process for review could be streamlined.

The Chairperson agreed, stating he felt that perhaps the Commission should apply the "worst-case scenario" when considering the original site plan.

After further discussion, there was a suggestion that the retail center be defined so as to allow all uses permitted within the Commercial District but require administrative review and approval where the tenant or occupant of a suite was changed. Ms. Meeuwse commented that she did not like the idea of allowing all uses which are permitted within the Commercial District in a retail center. The Chairperson disagreed, stating that he felt any of the uses were appropriate. Mr. Loy agreed, commenting that he felt a change of the occupants should trigger only administrative review.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated she felt that there should be flexibility in parking or reservation of parking in the initial site plan review with provision for later requirement that the parking be constructed to accommodate restaurant or other high-parking use which may later locate within the retail center. Ms. Meeuwse agreed, as did Mr. Loy and Mr. Corakis.

Taking into account the comments of the Planning Commission, Ms. Harvey stated that she would draft proposed text language for consideration at the meeting of October 9, 1997.


Ms. Harvey noted that she had provided a copy of the Land Division Ordinance amendment, which would be considered/adopted by the Township Board. She distributed it to the Planning Commission members in order that they be aware of the provisions and the recent changes in Michigan law.


There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.