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September 30, 1999




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Planning Commission on Thursday, September 30, 1999, commencing at approximately 7:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

Wilfred Dennie, Chairperson
Marvin Block
Millard Loy
Ted Corakis
Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell
Stanley Rakowski

Ken Heisig

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and five (5) other interested persons.


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


The Chairperson suggested adding under "Other Business" a discussion of the dias reshuffle as well as the Zoning Board of Appeals’ appointment. Ms. Stefforia suggested consideration of rezoning applications in order to schedule public hearings.

Mr. Corakis moved to approve the Agenda as amended, and Mr. Loy seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the Minutes of the meeting of September 9, 1999. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the Minutes as submitted, and Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission considered the application of Wickford Corporation for a special exception use and site plan approval of White Horse Woods, a proposed 27-building site open space community on 62 acres on the west side of 6th Street, north of Stadium Drive. The site is within the "AG"-Rural Zoning District classification. The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge noted that the 27 building sites would have an average area of 1.2 acres. The general common elements would include 29 acres of open space, private roads and easements. Ms. Bugge stated that the open space exceeds 40 percent of the proposed development, meeting the criteria set for open space communities. She stated that the project has a .44 units per acre density. Ms. Bugge corrected her report stating that between 98 and 120 single family home sites could be created on the subject property. She noted that the site plan should be revised to indicate that Lot 10 would have approximately 130 feet of frontage.

Greg Smith was present on behalf of the applicant. Mr. Smith stated that Wickford Corporation liked the open space concept and that the applicant was not requesting any variances. Since the previous meeting, at which the conceptual plan had been considered, an open space area had been added between Lots 22 and 23. Additionally, a "finger" of open space had been added to the back of Lot 12. The project would be completed in one phase.

In response to questions from Mr. Loy, Mr. Smith indicated that the applicant did not anticipate any standing water in the retention areas.

The Chairperson requested that Mr. Smith review the topography of the site. Mr. Smith described a rolling topography from the entrance to the end of the proposed private road, at which point the area "flattened". Mr. Smith stated that the road grade was approximately six percent. He stated that each lot would have a sufficient area of "flat" topography upon which to build. Storm water was directed to natural low areas.

Mr. Rakowski questioned the applicant with regard to the natural features of the site. The applicant stated that all existing trees would be retained as far as was practicable.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Joe Malsom, a property owner in the area, was concerned about whether the private road would be connected at some point to the Stratford Hills project. Additionally, he had concern that the project would have a negative impact on 6th Street and ML Avenue, which he felt were in poor condition. The Chairperson responded that the street system would not be connected to Stratford Hills. With regard to 6th Street and ML Avenue, he stated that these were county roads and that the Planning Commission would notify the Township Board of his concern.

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

The Chairperson reviewed the criteria of Section 60.100. The Planning Commission considered whether the project would be compatible with other uses expressly permitted within the "AG" District. The Planning Commission members concluded that the project would be compatible with the residential uses allowed in the "AG" District. The project in question would result in 27 single family homes, a much less dense development than if platted traditionally.

The Planning Commission considered whether the project would be detrimental or injurious to the use and development of adjacent properties or the occupants of the general neighborhood. The Planning Commission members felt that there would be no detrimental impact due to the low density of the proposed project. Further, the members of the Planning Commission felt that the density of the project would promote the public health, safety and welfare in that the impact on the adjacent road system would be minimal versus the impact if traditionally platted. Further, the property would be served by municipal water. It was also felt that it was significant that there would only be one access point on 6th Street, and therefore, less of an impact.

The Chairperson noted that the applicant had described the design of the intersection of the private road with 6th Street. It appeared that the design would achieve the maximum visibility. In response to questioning by the Chairperson, Mr. Smith stated that the private road would be built to county road specifications (or better), but would remain private. The private roads would have the same design and width as those used in the Stratford Hills project.

The Planning Commission members also felt that the project would encourage use of the property in accord with its character and adaptability. It was felt that the applicant was making use of the natural topography of the area and allowed for natural percolation of water. Existing trees would remain and open space preserved.

Ms. Heiny-Cogswell stated that she felt the project was "very nice" and would meet the criteria of the Ordinance. However, she expressed concern whether the design of the road would accommodate travel in snowy weather.

Ms. Stefforia expressed concern regarding Lots 1, 10 and 20, and whether they would need a variance to build homes in conformance with setback provisions. There was particular concern about accommodating the side setback requirements of the Ordinance. Mr. Smith stated that these lots have sufficient flat area, more than 46,000 square feet upon which to build, and he felt no variance would be needed. The Planning Commissioners noted that they would recommend no setback variance be granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

There was discussion of the manner of designating open space, and it was noted that the open space could be set aside and protected from development by way of a Master Deed provision.

The Chairperson made reference to Section 60.570. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission that these criteria had been met due to the low density of the development and the resulting minimal traffic. It was felt that the proposal was in character with the area and would preserve natural features to the extent possible.

The Planning Commission also reviewed Section 82.800. The Planning Commissioners concluded that the criteria had been met. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell commented that she had driven through the Stratford Hills project, also developed by the applicant, and felt that this project would be very similar. The Chairperson stated that he approved of the applicant’s concept and was happy to see that the applicant was working with the natural topography and using open space as the buffer around the property.

Mr. Loy moved to approve the special exception use permit, finding that the criteria of Section 60.100 and 60.570 had been met. Mr. Loy specifically referenced the low density of the proposed open space community, the preservation of open space, the preservation of natural features, the fact that the property would be served by municipal water and the minimal impact on area traffic. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Corakis moved to approve the site plan with the following conditions, limitations and notations:

(1) Access would be provided by a new private street off 6th Street. None of the lots were abutting 6th Street, and therefore, no lot would have direct access to 6th Street. It was required that the applicant receive a permit from the Kalamazoo County Road Commission.

(2) Open space would buffer the perimeter of the project from other developments. It was recognized that topography and natural landscaping would be retained as far as was practicable.

(3) It was required that the Master Deed and the Bylaws be submitted to the Township for Township Attorney for review and approval, particularly with regard to the preservation of open space, i.e., the protection of open space from all forms of development, except as approved on the site plan.

(4) The approval was subject to the review and approval, as well as compliance with the requirements of, the Fire Department.

(5) The approval was subject to the finding of the Township Engineer that the site plan was acceptable with regard to storm water management, street layout and extension of utilities.

(6) Approval was subject to the submission of the Environmental Permits checklist.

Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


The Planning Commission next discussed Draft 3 of the proposed text amendment regarding signs. The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia reviewed the changes from Draft 2.

The Planning Commission discussed the definitions. It was agreed that banner sign would be revised to merely refer to flags that do not contain any advertising copy rather than describing national flags, etc. As to the definition of flag, there would be a revision to refer to "other" entity. The definition of snipe sign would be altered consistent with the revision to the definition of banner sign.

Under Section 76.150.B, residentially and agriculturally zoned property would be referred to.

In sub-part C, the third sentence limiting the number of political signs would be removed. The Township Attorney expressed concern that such limitations on political signage would be unconstitutional.

There was discussion under Section 76.170.F of the fact that limitations on flags would need to be consistent with constitutional mandates which would permit political speech. The Township Attorney suggested that the Planning Commission consider regulating the number of flags by the amount of public road frontage. It was felt that this may be supportable given that the limitations on flags would be directed at limiting visual clutter and preventing distractions to motor vehicle traffic. A possible provision limiting the number of flags to three (3) for parcels up to 200 feet of road frontage, and therefore allowing three (3) flags for every additional 200 feet of frontage was proposed.

There was discussion of Section 76.180.B.3 as to whether, for multi-tenant buildings, wall signage should be on the tenant’s suite. Mr. Loy and Mr. Corakis felt that signage should be permitted anywhere on the building at the discretion of the tenant and the landlord. Ms. Heiny-Cogswell felt that signage should be on a particular suite and supplemented with directional signage and tenant directories. Mr. Block stated that he would rather see multi-tenants allowed space on a free-standing identification sign rather than multiple wall signs. Mr. Rakowski agreed. The Chairperson stated that he felt that wall signage was helpful in finding businesses located within a mall or strip mall. It was felt that Section 76.190.C should also be considered with regard to its treatment of multi-tenant signage.

Section 76.190.B should be altered to mirror Section 76.160. Section 76.310.C would be revised to refer to "seasonal decorations".

Section 76.440 would be revised to indicate that the base treatment would be landscaped and maintained.

It was noted that the next draft would be considered at the meeting of October 14, 1999.


Mr. Rakowski commented that the light at the Peoples Church was "glaring" for oncoming traffic.

Ms. Stefforia stated that she would be suggesting a revision to the industrial text to reflect trends in industrial development. Additionally, she felt the Planning Commission might consider a provision which would allow offices on substandard parcels.


There was a reshuffle of the dias for the upcoming quarter.

The Planning Commission considered the appointment of a member of the Planning Commission to the Zoning Board of Appeals. It was noted that Mr. Loy’s term on the Planning Commission would be expiring at the end of the year. Mr. Loy moved to appoint Mr. Corakis, and Ms. Heiny-Cogswell seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Corakis’ term on the Zoning Board of Appeals would commence January 1, 2000.

The Planning Commission considered a rezoning request for Land Sections 24 and 25. It was noted that the applicant desires to extend Venture Park development northward. The Master Land Use Plan calls for residential development in this area. The Chairperson suggested, and other Planning Commission members agreed that the "R-3" zoning district should be considered as well as the "C" district which the applicant had requested. It was the consensus that the area under consideration should not be expanded. Mr. Loy moved to schedule a public hearing on the rezoning of the proposed property to the "R-3" or "C" zoning districts, as well as a consideration of the Master Land Use Plan reclassification to the Transitional or Commercial classification for November 18, 1999. Mr. Block seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

It was noted that Mr. Maloney and Mr. Schramm had again applied for the rezoning of their properties to the "C" district. However, the body of the application also indicated that they wish to make the Roller World use conforming to the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Schramm suggested that he wanted to make an office use of his property. It was agreed that the item should be scheduled for the work session of November 4, 1999, in view of the proposed text amendments which are being considered by the Planning Commission. It was felt that perhaps the text amendments might resolve questions as to the use of the subject properties without rezoning. Mr. Loy moved to schedule the items for November 4, 1999, as a work item, and Mr. Block seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell, Secretary

Minutes prepared:
October 5,1999