APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
JANUARY 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 Helder.
Members Present: Maurice Groce, John Helder, Dan Holtrop, Laurie Sheldon, Ed Swanson, Don Yokom, Ed Kape, Frank VanderHoff, and Johngerlyn Young
Members Absent: None
Others Present: Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Planner Joe Pung, City Attorney Jeff Sluggett and the applicants.
Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
Following verbal confirmation that Basis No. 7 in the Kathryn Woods Project (“Discussion during …”) was intended to include the comments of neighbors and representations of the applicant, the following motion was adopted:
Motion by Commissioner Swanson, supported by Commissioner Groce, to approve the Minutes of January 10, 2012 and the Findings of Fact for: Case #11-11 ICC Behar, and Case #12-11 Kathryn Woods Site Condominiums.
Motion by Commissioner Vander Hoff, supported by Commissioner Swanson, to approve the agenda for the January 24, 2012 meeting.
Approval of the Agenda
Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
John Halland was present. He expressed a desire to address the Commission but elected to wait until after the Planning Commission work session when the chair provided him the option.
There was no Old Business.
There were no public hearings.
I. Work Sessions
– Garden Annex – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for a Medical Clinic located at 4130 Breton Avenue SE
Planner Pung introduced the request. The project is a Special Land Use within a R1-C Single Family District. The proposed use is a medical clinic for periodontics and pediatrician offices. In 2006 the city approved a dental clinic immediately south of this site. At that time, the city approved a cross access between the dental office and this site. The existing residential driveway to the proposed medical clinic site will be removed.
There is an existing tree line to the north and to the east. Additional landscaping islands will be added for the parking lot. The Commission discussed truck access to the dumpster. The city engineer verified that a truck could serve the dumpster area. The city engineer is also requiring curbing on the landscape island.
The applicant, Dr. David May, and his engineer, Steve Witte of Nederveld Associates, were present. Steve Witte thanked staff and commission for assistance in this project. Dr. May owns the parcel to the south where his dental practice is located. The proposed building is 5,000 square feet in area and would have two users. Access to the medical clinic will be off the existing drive that serves the dental office and the driveway will be widened to allow for two egress lanes, for right turns and left turns. There will be 39 new parking spaces provided for the new office. The character of the building will be similar to the dental office. Parking has a greater setback on the north side to allow more green space. All of the parking will be in the rear of the building (east side). Mr. Witte indicated that they are addressing all the other issues raised by planning, engineering and fire. He and Dr. May would be happy to address any questions.
Ed Kape asked about shared dumpster. Mr. Witte said that they will be locating it further to the south and off center from the driveway. He will show this change on the revised site plan.
VanderHoff indicated that Dr. May is his dentist but he stated that this will not prevent him from being impartial in this review.
Helder questioned what the applicant intends to do with the large berm behind the office that separates the property from homes on other side of berm. Holland Home residents like the berm. Helder asked whether the berm would be improved. Dr. May said he already has landscaping on the berm. There are 4-5 different types of evergreens; it might take time to mature. Helder said the building is good looking and is an asset to the community.
Sheldon asked about the size of existing dentist building. It is about 5000 square feet. She asked if the new building will have a similar look. Dr. May said it will fit in with his dentist office. She asked whether there has been notification of the neighbors. Dr. May indicated that they had not been notified, but this will be coming. Sheldon asked about traffic with school across the street. This has been an issue in the past because of the parents dropping their children off at school. With another building will this make it worse? Dr. May said that they have altered their patient schedule so that it does not conflict with the school traffic. Sheldon asked if we can have someone from staff address traffic issues. Pung said that the proposed use should generate only a small incremental increase in traffic that should not affect the level of service on
Breton Avenue. Witte said that the school peaks are at two key times, and the doctors’ offices are scheduling patients at accordingly. .
Sheldon also wanted to see location of signage. Witte said he will try to get information on the signage for the next meeting. Sheldon said she likes that it has a residential look like a home.
Holtrop asked about the location of parking and the proposed landscaping. Witte said that they will also fill out the berm. Holtrop asked about the relative elevation of the condos. The condos are about the same grade as the parking lot; the finished floor of the office building will be at a lower elevation than the existing condos.
Yokom asked about the office uses and the property in relation to the dentist office. He asked about staffing. Dr. May said the dentist office would stay the same.
Swanson asked about plans for the back half of the parcel--will this be sold to Holland Home? Dr. May said that there were originally condos for Holland Home planned, but now their plans have been changed. His plan is to keep the area east of the office undeveloped.
Groce likes the look of the existing dentist office.
Young asked about the notification of the neighbors. She likes the project.
Yokom asked if a sidewalk can be extended into the property for the benefit and convenience of the Holland Home residents. Holland Home was not interest in this. Yokom suggested that office users could bring a sidewalk to the common property line.
F. Acknowledge visitors wishing to address non agenda items
John Halland said he was discussing with staff the Kathryn Woods development. He was not sure what changes were needed to make the plan successful. He asked the commission what it would take to overcome the objections. He indicated that he had prepared a new proposal. He said that he wanted to correct some inaccuracies, propose changes and have a discussion on the changes.
Golder indicated that Mr. Halland wanted to have information regarding his proposed changes to the plan on record for the benefit of the City Commission. Even though the City Commission will review the same plans that the Planning Commission reviewed, Mr. Halland could propose some changes and give the City Commissioners an indication of the reaction of the Planning Commissioners to the changes.
Mr. Halland reviewed the existing zoning regulations in the R1-C zone and compared his proposal to the R1-C zone as well as the existing development on Camille and Lake Drive. His new proposal includes:
Offer to increase ranch plans to 1600 square feet
Offer to increase brick and stone by 50% (to 15% total)
Offer to increase cedar shake or board and batten by 50% (to about 22% total)
Offer to plant trees where they are taken out.
Offer to curve road further away from the trees that screen the residents on Lake Drive so that fewer trees would be lost.
Swanson asked about the possibility of removing lot 11 and disbursing its frontage among the other lots in the development. He also suggested curving the road more away from the trees. He felt this would make it more palatable to neighbors
VanderHoff questioned the width of lot 11. He thought that doing away with lot 11 could add more to each lot. He indicated that he voted for the original design but felt the removal of one lot, the increase of square footage and increase of brick and other materials may be a good compromise to persuade at least one of the planning commissioners that voted against the plan to change their mind.
Holtrop indicated that a formal vote had already been made. He indicated the planning commissioners can, if they so choose, comment now on what would have been more desirable. That may enable Mr. Halland to say to the City Commission that here is an option that the PC can feel more comfortable with. Holtrop expressed concern that neighbors would not have not seen it. As presented this is a big change from before.
Sluggett indicated that the City Commission can review an amendment to the original plan, but it is likely it will pass an amended plan back to the Planning Commission for review and comment. Neighbors will be in attendance at the City Commission review so they would know if an amended plan was returned to the Planning Commission for their review. In this case the Planning Commission may not have to hold a second public hearing.
Sheldon felt that the neighbors should have an opportunity to speak if an amended plan is submitted for consideration.
Vander Hoff suggested that the Planning Commission informally discuss the changes to determine whether they would they be more inclined to approve.
Sheldon felt every time Mr. Halland presented the plans he was wishy-washy. She was not willing to vote on something that she did not know she was looking at. Sheldon did not like the way Mr. Halland handled himself at the end of the meeting. She was very disappointed with how it was handled.
Halland stated the reason that he was upset at the last meeting was that he felt the R1-C zoning was ignored.
Holtrop questioned Mr. Halland whether the offer to curve road further away from the trees that screen the residents on Lake Drive will affect the drainage to the south. Halland indicated that he was offering what he did in an attempt to put everyone at ease in terms of saving trees and addressing drainage.
Kape asked if Halland is willing to lose lot 11. Halland said he would rather move lot 11 to the west side of the private drive and have 6 on one side and 5 on the other. He felt this would allow him to curve the road. He pointed out this would require him to have to do underground storage for additional detention.
Holtrop indicated he still has an issue with 11 lots. What Mr. Halland has offered does not sway his vote.
Groce stated that it would be better if there was a way to bring the private road in off from the church driveway. He expressed a dislike for the plan submitted by Mr. Halland that resulted in roads on 3 sides of the lot on the northwest corner of Lake Drive and Camille. He also felt that curving the road would make the headlight issue better for neighbors. He indicated that he would be more in favor of 10 lots.
Halland stated that, according to the church, the parcel which the church drive services is anticipated to someday be sold for office buildings. The church feels a driveway shared with a residential development would devalue the future office site.
Holtrop stated that he places value on opinion of neighbors on the project. If there are changes that the neighbors support, that would help.
Vander Hoff stated it would be better if Mr. Halland can get permission from the church to run the road off their driveway.
Sheldon stated she represents the community and she tries to listen and balance neighbors’ concerns with the city code. She would like to know how neighbors feel. She would like to see another lot taken out.
Yokom commented that he appreciates Mr. Halland’s efforts to come back with other ideas. However, he felt Mr. Halland should ultimately lose a lot or initiate other changes to make a difference. He felt that on one hand the Planning Commission needs to listen to the people but at same time lots can be developed. He personally didn’t feel comfortable with presentation and changes made week by week. However, if Mr. Halland can improve the plan as described, it may have merit. Yokom would still like to see what the neighbors think.
Young commented that the Planning Commission should consider how the development looks to the neighbors. She questioned how that can be accomplished.
Halland stated that he felt like he gave up a lot already. He indicated that it is frustrating not to gain Planning Commission support, because he feels he is trying to be responsive to the neighbor’s concerns. He stated he would build bigger houses than he had to and has also offered brick or stone. He stated whatever he seemed to do he wasn’t given credit from the commissioners and it is unfortunate. He stated he met with the neighbors and they wanted him to build 6 lots which is half of what is allowed in R1-C. He stated he has tried. He stated in summary he will go back to the church and ask for access off the drive, that sounds like a big thing. Swanson stated that would solve everything. Holtrop stated it would solve a lot of safety. VanderHoff stated besides that it would be cheaper.
Holtrop clarified that Halland’s offer of increasing brick or stone 50% meant going from 10% to 15%. Halland stated that was correct.
Halland asked if he can’t get the church to allow him to access the development directly from Lake Drive would it be acceptable to move lot 11 to the west side. Swanson stated from what he has heard moving lot 11 to the west side is not going to cut it. Swanson stated losing lot 11 is what he needs to consider. Young stated she would agree. Halland stated if he can get the church to agree that will give him another 42 feet. Swanson stated then that will only eliminate roads on 3 sides of the lot on the northwest corner of Lake Dr. and Camille.
Halland stated he was thankful for the commissioners time and input.
There is no New Business
Holtrop indicated that committee requirements, will be distributed to the Commissioners in advance of the next meeting at which time committee appointments will be made. He noted Commissioner Helder has yet to be put on any committees.
Swanson stated he thought about Kathryn Woods project and contrasted it to the current zoning ordinance provision and the draft Master Plan where we agree to certain standards for smaller lots and smaller houses. Then we turn around when we get to these projects we seem to say no and we tend to vote with the neighbors. He stated the developers are doing basically what we have assigned them to do. He stated we either need to go to all PUD’s and the developer has no idea what to build until he comes to us or we need to stick by our zoning codes and be consistent. He stated he thinks we as a planning commission need to be more consistent in where we are coming from. He stated if we are planners then we have to be planners when we vote on projects and we can’t just go by what the neighbors want. He stated we as planning commissioners have to decide what we think is right and if 10 lots is it then we need to say that. The worse part of Kathryn Woods is how it has to be accessed but that is the only way this can be developed. He stated his view is that we need more consistency.
Golder stated part of draft the Master Plan speaks to the issue of lot and home sizes and as she stated previously, we have a lot of data and demographics and recommendations about needing smaller lots. Golder stated what we don’t currently lack is a mechanism to ensure that the homes are quality homes. She felt nobody minds small, but nobody wants cheap and small. Golder stated she agrees one way to work on that is through a PUD and that is something we are looking at because she thinks we will have this issue again.
Swanson asked if we should look at the planning principles that we have been following as we work on the Master Plan again as far as smaller lots. He stated he isn’t sure how we provide good direction for a developer. He stated developers aren’t bad guys they are trying to make a living just like everybody else.
VanderHoff stated he agrees 100% with Swanson. He felt the Kathryn Woods development plan met the requirements of R1-C and met all of the things that were supposed to meet. Swanson stated the developer couldn’t fix that bad access. VanderHoff stated that is the problem, but he still has the property and he has the right to develop under the current zoning regulations and just because the neighbors don’t like it we can’t make our decision based on that. VanderHoff stated you have to give developers/builders some guidance and you can’t turn it down because the neighbors don’t like it.
Kape stated one of his concerns is that the developer has met all the criteria and yet what are we telling him and other developers that come to us that enough is enough. Kape indicated that was his struggle.
Groce stated his struggle was that from what he saw from the layout of the homes and what the developer said he is going to sell them for didn’t seem to feasibly result in $300,000 homes.
Kape stated it sounds like upgrades are better than what there is in there now. He stated those homes don’t even have brick on them plus the square footage is at their minimum.
Sheldon stated she thinks PUD’s are a good option. Golder stated the other option is Form Based Code, you may get a little more of what you like. Golder stated some things are straight forward and some things are not. Golder felt the developer is not going to be able to get the church to agree to direct Lake Drive access. He has already tried.
Sheldon stated if the city commission is inclined to approve the plan she would like for them to send the site plan back to the planning commission for additional review of revisions before final City Commission approval.
Golder stated one of the problems is that the developer is running out of time, his purchase options may be ending.
Sheldon stated after the last meeting. She thought about safety concerns associated with a speaker that is getting very emotional. Schweitzer stated we have emergency contact provisions t in the past and have had situations in the past where we have had to call upon the police department. We do have ways of providing notification to the police.
VanderHoff stated he will not be at the February meetings.
Schweitzer stated after speaking with the Finance Director the draft of the Capital Improvements program may be available in early March to allow the committee to meet and have a work session prior to the first meeting in April.
Golder stated the Master Plan update is being finalized and we are going to give it to the City Commission along with the summary of the changes from that last Master Plan in order to secure their ok to send it out to the other communities in the area for their comments.
Holtrop questioned how to formally request what Sheldon wanted from the city commission on the Kathryn Woods project. Schweitzer stated the planning commission could make a request by a separate motion expressing their desire to review any revised plan. Otherwise the way it is set, it is up to their discretion.
Golder stated to keep in mind the City Commission might not be able to send the plan back to the planning commission unless Halland suspends that time limitations. City Commission hearing is on February 7, but they only have until the 23rd
of February before they have to make a decision without Halland asking to table. Sheldon stated she thinks it will be beneficial to the city commission to know Halland was not professional to work with and she stated this was not represented in the minutes.
Golder stated the final say is the city commission. Schweitzer stated their meeting is on February 7 and the planning commission is on February 14 they still have until the 21st
of February before the 120 days expires.
Motion by Commissioner Swanson, supported by Commissioner VanderHoff, to request that the City Commission to send Case #12-11 Kathryn Woods Site Condominiums back to the planning commission if it is inclined to approve revisions to the site plan reviewed by the planning commission.
Meeting adjourned at 8:45p.m.
Don Yokom, Secretary
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--- Mayor Clanton
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