APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
APRIL 24, 2012, 7:30 P.M.
Chair Holtrop called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commissioner Sheldon.
Members Present: John Helder, Dan Holtrop, Ed Kape, Laurie Sheldon, Ed Swanson, Frank Vander Hoff, Don Yokom and Johngerlyn Young
Members Absent: Betsy Artz (with notification)
Others Present: Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Planner Joe Pung,
Motion by Commissioner Swanson, supported by Commissioner Sheldon, to excuse Commissioner Artz from the meeting.
Motion Carried (8-0) –
Artz absent –
Holtrop stated in the Findings of Fact condition 2 of the special land use, planting 1-2 trees on Mr. Wung’s property should be added.
Helder stated on pages 3 and 4 of the Minutes add the person who supported the Motion.
The Minutes and Findings of Fact were approved as drafted with changes noted.
Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
Agenda approved as drafted
Approval of the Agenda
Motion Carried (8-0) –
Artz absent -
Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
There was no Old Business
There were no Public Hearings
- Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments- relating to Open Air Business, Industrial Use Allowances, Elimination of Use Variances, Accessory Building Requirements, Use Allowances in Regional Commercial Zone
Pung introduced the text amendment relating to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and their ability to grant use variances. He stated the ZBA currently has the ability to grant use variances which is basically rezoning the property without going through the rezoning process. Use variances allow for a use that would not be allowed within that zoning district.
Pung stated under the new Zoning Enabling Act municipalities have the option to withhold the ability from the ZBA to grant the use variances. Pung stated what this text amendment is intended to not allow the ZBA to look at Use Variances. He stated the applicant would still have the option to rezone the property or look at a text amendment to add the specific use to that zoning district. He stated the ZBA would still have the ability to hear non use variance interpretations and appeals to the zoning administrator decisions.
Pung went on to review the range of use variances requests that have been considered by the Zoning Board in the past ten years. Regardless of the decision whether or not to eliminate the ability to seek use variances it is prudent to review past use variances requests/actions to evaluate whether changes to the Zoning Ordinance text would be appropriate.
Pung stated industrial use allowances for indoor vehicle sales and indoor recreational business in the Industrial district have been a common within the last 10 years. Pung stated there were also several fitness facilities request in the industrial district. He suggested looking at the industrial zones more in depth as to what kind of restrictions we would want to set in place. He stated once you start expanding the use, there is a limited amount of industrial property and there are some concerns with bringing in non-industrial uses and using up the industrial property.
VanderHoff asked if there would be a problem if we do not amend the zoning requirements and keep doing what we have been doing it. He stated it doesn’t seem like it has been a big problem. Pung stated if we don’t amend there will be no changes as to the way things are currently done with regards to applying for the use variances. Pung stated if it is amended you can always amend the ordinance to reinstate that ability. VanderHoff asked if the city commission or mayor had a problem with how we have been handling the last 10 years. Schweitzer stated there has been some concern expressed with some of the variances that have been granted. Schweitzer stated the applicants have another option instead of the $330 dollar use variance fee, they will now have the ability pay $1,560 dollars to rezone the property. Schweitzer stated the variance that is granted goes with the property, if a business goes in and they secure the use variance it stays with the property.
Holtrop stated this will be a burden to the applicants because they can’t pay the $330 dollar use variance fee, they will now have to pay $1,560 dollars to rezone the property. Schweitzer stated that is correct they will have to pay the $1,560 dollars for a rezoning request.
Swanson stated he thinks it would make more sense for them to come through the planning commission then the city commission to change the zoning issue rather than to go through the use variance. Swanson stated variances sound good when they come to the ZBA but when you stop to think about them they were not as good as they seemed. Schweitzer stated the zoning board has not sought recommendation from staff on variance requests and if you are going to retain the allowance for use variance we can come up with staff recommendations.
Pung suggested the planner commissioners look at some of the request and decide if there are any they would consider amending the ordinance to allow within a specific zoning district or if they want more research.
Discussion ensued regarding kennels and childcare.
Sheldon questioned only being able to have 3 animals. Schweitzer stated that regulation has been in the zoning ordinance for years but can be changed. Schweitzer stated if there is a desire to look at the ordinance you can set it up so there are no more than 3 dogs and 3 cats.
Discussion ensued regarding animal keeping.
Pung stated indoor auto sales in many of the cases had their own industrial operation. They would store cars indoors, no outside traffic but the State requirement required it to be licensed retail auto sales with specified hours of operation with the ability of people to come in. This type of retail is not allowed within the industrial district. Pung stated a special land use and one of the criteria would be vehicle storage and display area is limited to 10,000 square feet. Holtrop questioned what other options would be available to applicants if use variances are not allowed. Pung stated they could apply for a rezoning or they can come forward for a text amendment. Holtrop asked if there has been any negative feedback with the indoor vehicle sales in the industrial district. Schweitzer stated the neighbors haven’t had any concerns it is more a matter of staff with their sign displays. Discussion ensued. Schweitzer stated with the rebound in the economy the availability of good industrial land is a factor and we should be cautious about the range of uses we allow in industrial zones. It could have the effect of limiting your options on something that could be more profitable/beneficial as an industrial operation.
Schweitzer stated the text amendment regarding fireworks is something all the communities in the State are dealing with. When the State passed the legislation to open up the range of fireworks that can be used they took away a lot of the regulatory ability of the local units of government. Schweitzer stated the day before, the day of and they day after 10 major holidays there is nothing restricting someone using legal fireworks. Schweitzer stated we currently have a regulatory ordinance that is not part of the zoning ordinance that does require they secure a permit. The way the State legislation is written, it limits the local ability of government to enact a regulatory ordinance the open air sales of fireworks. The City Attorney reviewed the legislation and he feels if we take the requirements that are currently in the regulatory ordinance and incorporate it into the zoning ordinance as a zoning permit, we can at least limit the number of sales they have during the year and the duration of each of those sales.
VanderHoff asked were the problems associated with the fireworks sales. Schweitzer stated Police Chief Mattice’s problem isn’t with the sales, it is with people using the fireworks. It is a combination of noise and the potential of private property destruction. Thirty (30) days out of the year it will restrict the police department’s to respond to nuisance complaints. Discussion ensued.
Sheldon asked if there is a limit to the amount of fireworks stations that can be put up in the City. Schweitzer stated no there isn’t but there are some restrictions on the storage of fireworks as well as the level of the State fees for permit holders that will moderate the number of sales operation you will see.
Swanson asked what other communities are doing regarding fireworks. Schweitzer stated we are not aware of any other community taking any action at this point. Schweitzer stated there are two places in Kentwood that will have firework sales the former Circuit City and Yen Ching sites. Discussion ensued.
Sheldon questioned whether the amendment would specify that the open air fireworks businesses cannot be in existence for more than 30 consecutive days twice per year. Schweitzer stated that is correct. We have a regulatory ordinance that does that now but putting it in the zoning ordinance will give us the authority to address firework sales as we would for Christmas tree sales, flower sales etc. Discussion ensued.
Swanson stated he doesn’t feel like this ordinance is necessary if nobody else is doing it. Schweitzer stated the original regulatory restrictions were approved by the City Commission in 1980. They reasoned that on one hand you have a business that is putting an investment in the community, they hold real property, they have a building and they are paying taxes. Then you have a business that comes in sets up a tent out front on somebody’s parking lot and may not pay any sales tax, no property tax, no personal property tax, they come in, sell and then leave. Schweitzer stated it is a matter of getting some equity between businesses that have an investment in the community and businesses that are there anywhere from 10-30 days and then they leave. Discussion ensued.
Schweitzer stated in our R-3 regional commercial zone district we do not make any provision for any open air business car sales. The recommended text amendment would make it a special land use subject to planning commission review specific to the location to see if it’s a good fit. Currently if someone wanted to set up an outdoors sales for cars it is not an option under the current zoning provisions. Schweitzer stated if this were to be approved he can see Woodland Mall sponsoring a special land use request to have an area on their property for open air sales so they can have car sales. Schweitzer stated this would be an open air business where it is allowed year round.
Schweitzer stated in regards to accessory buildings height size and use allowances; we have had instances where people built accessory buildings as large as the ordinance allows. Schweitzer stated the first factor is the height limitation, we currently allow up to a 15 foot height. The height is a combination of the height of the wall plus one half the distance between the top of the wall and the peak of the roof. He stated if someone has a 10 foot high wall their peak could be as high as another 10 feet above that. He stated we have had some rather large accessory buildings built. Schweitzer stated staff would like to limit the height to 14 feet and keep it to a one story building. He stated the combination of these two changes will have an effect of reducing the allowable mass that one might be able to build as an accessory building on a property.
Schweitzer stated the other change we are proposing is to allow only one garage on a lot less than one acre in area. Schweitzer stated currently you are allowed up to two accessory buildings. He stated if the first accessory building is your attached garage it can be up to 3 stall capacity and in addition you can have a 250 square foot additional accessory building. Schweitzer stated it has been suggested from the Mayor’s Office that that is not a desirable circumstance. He stated this is a way to limit the amount of garage space that you have to one garage.
Holtrop asked if a shed is considered an accessory building. Schweitzer stated that is an accessory structure and basically you cannot put a car inside that shed even if you had a garage door on it.
Schweitzer stated we could probably leave the ordinance at 15 feet and keep the accessory building to one story. He stated for every foot it’s another two foot higher. Schweitzer stated the Zoning Ordinance previously limited the height to 14 feet. Schweitzer stated we currently do not specify that it is limited to 1 story. Discussion ensued regarding what is a 1 story accessory building.
Sheldon stated she is ok with the one stroy accessory building but she has to think about limiting the number of garages. Schweitzer stated this is good discussion to have to look at the pros and cons, because sometimes staff may not look at all the angles and that is where it is for the commissioners to think it through.
Yokom asked about children playhouses. Schweitzer stated children’s playhouses up to 100 square foot in area are not counted against the limit on the number and size of accessory buildings.
Swanson stated he has two accessory building/garages and thinks that it may not be the best thing to have. He stated he wouldn’t like to have people reproducing them all over the city. He stated he thinks a big garage in addition to regular garage is not a good idea.
There is no new business.
Helder had concerns regarding mailboxes in Kentwood. He notes that in the past year many have been supplemented with a winter shield that is generally not attractive. Schweitzer state if the shields are up in the winter they should be fine the current city codes so not provide for year round placement.
Sheldon stated she may not be at the May 8 planning commission.
Schweitzer stated the Master Plan Open House will be Wednesday April 25th
5-8pm in the community room in the Library.
Schweitzer stated Jeff Sluggett, Cliff Bloom, and Crystal Morgan are no longer with Law Weathers. They have formed their own firm. For the interim Sluggett is still the City Attorney. The City will continue to call upon Law Weathers to provide the services not offered by the new firm. Ongoing legal services will go through a bid process.
Meeting adjourned at 8:45p.m.
Don Yokom, Secretary