Kentwood Committees & BoardsAPPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
Planning Commission (Back to index)
Minutes for 07/28/2009
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
JULY 28, 2009, 7:30 P.M.
A. Chair Winczewski called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
B. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commissioner Artz.
C. Roll Call:
Members Present: Betsy Artz, Maurice Groce, Dan Holtrop, Laurie Sheldon, Ed Swanson, Frank Vander Hoff, Don Yokom, Johngerlyn Young and Chris Winczewski.
Members Absent: None
Others Present: City Attorney Jeff Sluggett, Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Planner Joe Pung, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the press, the applicant and about 10 residents.
D. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
Motion by Commissioner Holtrop, supported by Commissioner VanderHoff, to approve the Minutes of July 14, 2009.
- Motion Carried (9-0) ?
E. Approval of the Agenda
Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Artz, to approve the agenda for the July 28, 2009 meeting.
- Motion Carried (9-0) ?
F. Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
There was no public comment.
G. Old Business
There was no Old Business
H. Public Hearing
Case # 6-09 ? CBS Digital Billboard ? Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for a Dynamic Display Billboard located approximately 4250 Saladin Dr. West side of I96 North of the Forest Hill Avenue Overpass.
Planner Pung introduced the request. He stated the request is for a 672 square foot dynamic display billboard along I-96 east of the Saladin Temple. He stated in June the city commission approved amendments to the zoning ordinance which made provision for dynamic display billboards to be located in the C4 district along I-96. He stated at the works session one of the issues that was bought up was the billboard orientation. Pung stated the applicant has provided additional detail on the orientation of the billboards display face. He stated the applicant has been in conversation with at least one home owner of the opposite side of I-96 with respect to off- site landscaping to screen the billboard. Pung stated another issue was tree removal. He stated the applicant indicated tree removal would be minimal. Pung stated he is recommending conditional approval of the special land use dynamic display billboard with conditions 1-6 and basis point 1-8; and conditional approval of the site plan review with conditions 1-7 and basis points 1-6 as stated in Pung?s memo dated 7/23/09.
Chair Winczewski opened the public hearing.
Don Oosterhouse, 4217 Sabal Pointe Ct (representing about 65 owners); Earl Clements, 1765 Forest Hill Ave; John Hood; Mary Vermeer, 1946 Wilmont; were all in opposition of the billboard and thought it would be detrimental to the area. They were concerned about the lighting. There was also concern about enforcement, if the applicant were in violation who will enforce. Mr. Earl Clements 1765 Forest Hill Ave., stated he has been in conversation with the applicant and he would like complete blockage of the billboard in his backyard with evergreen and spruce trees. Mr. Clements stated the applicant stated is willing to put a $9,000 cap on the trees; Mr. Clements is not satisfied with the cap.
Randy Disselkoen, with GR Outdoor was also present. He was concerned about the LED billboard and thought it should be a standard static billboard in the C4 office/residential zone. He thinks it will be a problem with the neighbors in the future as well.
Motion by Commissioner Vanderhoff, supported by Commissioner Holtrop, to close the public hearing.
- Motion Carried (9-0) ?
Chair Winczewski asked the applicant to explain the negotiations they had in regards to the screening at 1765 Forest Hill. Winczewski stated the property across the expressway appears to be outside the viewing cone provided by the applicant.
Mike Hucul, with CBS Outdoor, stated the angel is for the westbound traffic. He stated their goal is to get some kind of vision of that sign coming under the Forest Hill Avenue overpass. Mr. Hucul stated the cars have about 30 seconds to see the sign and go on. He stated the viewing cone doesn?t address the three properties on the east side of the expressway. Mr. Hucul stated they want to be a good neighbor and work with the city. Mr. Hucul feels that you really won?t be able to see anything until the sign is up; or if the neighbors will be able to see the sign; or if there will be any light spillage. He stated the property owner at 1765 Forest Hill is about 15 feet below the road grade and is nestled in with a lot of trees. Mr. Hucul stated the property owner to the west you can barely see the house from the freeway. Mr. Hucul stated they have no problem in helping the neighbors but the sign has to go up to be able to see what is going on.
Mr. Hucul presented a map of their other LED sign at 131 north of 28th Street which is 250 feet away from the residential property. He stated they haven?t had any complaints from property owners. He stated the Sabal Point residents on the west side of I-96, south of the proposed site are at least 900 feet away. He stated he personally doesn?t think it will be an issue once the sign is up but they are open to work with the property owners.
Chair Winczewski asked staff to address the question regarding enforcement, and what our options would be. Director Schweitzer stated there is a provision under our zoning ordinance in which we will go through a process of notification indicating we suspect there is a violation. He stated they will then have an opportunity to respond and if there is a continued violation of the ordinance they will be cited as a municipal civil infraction and bought before the District Court Judge.
Chair Winczewski stated when staff was looking at the prospect of zoning ordinance amendments to allow digital billboards over the past year, we agreed that some of the billboards around Grand Rapids were too bright. He stated he thinks Kentwood has devised a strict ordinance as it relates to ambient light. He stated whether it is sunny or cloudy the brightness of the billboard will not be the same and this has to be monitored based on the ambient light. He stated the brightness of the billboard can only be a certain illumination over the ambient light and thinks Kentwood has taken this into consideration better than surrounding communities. Winczewski stated he understands they will not know what to expect until the billboard is up but feels that staff has done a good job. Winczewski stated he has concerns regarding condition number 5 in the staff report, and would like staff to require more specific detail on the viewing cone and what it means by very little light spillage and make this a definition. Winczewski also asked that the lighting levels outside the viewing cone be quantified. Pung stated we can ask the applicant based on the viewing cone what they mean by minimal light spillage.
Mike Hucul stated they think the light spillage will be like a LED TV. He stated if you look at it from the side as opposed to the front you?re not going to see the light spillage come out of it. Mr. Hucul stated the light will be directed towards the traffic. He stated if you have a regular static billboard you will have more light spillage than you would the Led because the light is going to be focused upward, and then it goes out and shoots all around. He stated that with an LED, the light comes from within the sign and the artwork itself and is pointed in a specific direction. Mr. Hucul stated the 45 degree angle is what they think is a good angle. He stated their goal is to address the traffic on I-96 going westbound, they don?t want their sign pointed toward residential areas.
Commissioner Artz stated she would feel much more comfortable approving this if CBS can work out the issues with the neighbors. She stated that CBS should agree to complete blockage of 1775 Forest Hill Ave. if they feel the sign is going to be put up correctly and if he doesn?t foresee any problems.
Commissioner Swanson stated he doesn?t understand the light spillage and he doesn?t think the questions have been answered. He stated he would like to see the request tabled until he can get some answers.
Commissioner Yokom stated he stated he thinks the dollar amount between the applicant and Mr. Clements needs to be addressed. Yokom stated the applicant mentioned the billboard on 28th Street and thinks the billboard there is competing with all kinds of light as opposed to the one they are proposing on I-96. Mr. Hucul stated the billboard at US 131 is in the vicinity of mostly businesses and railroad tracks.
Commissioner Sheldon stated she definitely thinks this is something that should be worked out with the neighbors before action is taken and se expressed support to table action on the request.
Nurseryman/Forrester hired by CBS, stated he was asked by Mr. Hucul to visit with the property owner at 1765 Forest Hill and offer his opinion. He stated a few trees near his house rather than a long line of trees along the expressway can satisfy the concerns. He felt the property owner seemed to be in agreement with some trees closer to the house than out by the highway fence. He stated a few larger trees 15, 18 or 20 feet in height, possibly spruce, would be fine. He stated that is where the figure of $9,000 came from; 15 trees at $600.
Commissioner Groce stated he agrees with tabling as well.
Commissioner VanderHoff asked staff what their opinion was of the angle when they visited the property at 1765 Forest Hill. Director Schweitzer stated he believes the face of the sign may be evident from the homeowners property. Schweitzer stated during the time they were out there CBS personnel went over to the approximate location of where the billboard be located and utilized a telescoping implement with a flag in the top to indicate where the 40 foot height would be above grade. It did appear the top portion of the billboard may be visible from the homeowners property. Schweitzer stated it raised question in his mind as far as a nuisance that it might represent to the property owners across I-96 and Sabal Pointe Condominiums. Schweitzer suggested CBS draw upon their engineers to be able to respond to some of the issues that have been raised in terms of: 1) whether the face will be viewable and how much will be viewable and 2) light spillage, whether or not the face is visible/legible; how much light would be evident from the distance of those home from the proposed location.
Commissioner VanderHoff stated he doesn?t think we will know if we have a problem until the sign is up and then you don?t know to what the extent the problem is or the cost it would be to remedy the problem. He stated he agrees that he wouldn?t want to look out of the backyard and see the sign, but it may or may not be a problem until the sign is up.
Commissioner Young stated she would like to see this request be tabled until some issues are worked out.
Pung displayed pictures that were taken from Mr. Clements house to the proposed billboard location.
Chair Winczewski stated he would like to see better definition on cone angle/viewing angle and maybe a comparison to how much stray light is going to come off if you have just a normal billboard with upward illumination versus an LED.
Motion by Commissioner Swanson, supported by Commissioner Artz, to table action on Case # 6-09 ? CBS Digital Billboard to the August 11, 2009 meeting to enable the applicant to: provide additional information defining and detailing the viewing cone for the proposed digital billboard; provide detail on the spillage of light beyond the viewing cone; provide a comparison between the light dispersal associated with the digital billboard in contrast with a standard static billboard equipped with upward illumination; to allow further discussion with the neighbors on the east side of I-96; and also work with Sabal Pointe Condominium neighbors to the south.
- Motion carried (9-0) ?
I. Work Session
Case#7-09 ? Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments -Open Air Buffering Regulations
Director Schweitzer introduced the request. He stated the request is for consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment pertaining to open air buffering regulations. He stated city staff perceives the need to provide the Planning Commission with greater discretion regarding the buffering and screening requirements for various open air businesses. He stated rather than prescribe a specific buffer zone treatment applicable to all variety of open air sales, the draft language would allow the Planning Commission the ability to evaluate the merits of the specific circumstances during the course of special land use and site plan review. He stated the modified language would read: A six (6) foot high vertical screen may be required along the side and rear lot lines to enclose and screen the open air sales and/or storage area.
Holtrop stated he would just hate the commission to debate a six or eight foot buffer. Winczewski stated he agrees.
The commissioners were fine with the proposed change and offered no other comments.
J. New Business
There was no New Business
K. Other Business
1. Master Plan
Suzanne Schultz, Planning Director from the City of Grand Rapids gave a brief presentation of their 1963-2000 Master Plans and the future of Grand Rapids.
Swanson asked how Grand Rapids created their input groups and how Grand Rapids got the groups fired up and involved. Schultz stated that in the beginning the residents wanted to make sure Grand Rapids was staying on task. She stated the key is to show the residents it matters to be involved, let them know why they should be involved and how important the decisions are made everyday. She stated a lot is capitalizing on single issue topics as they come up such as keeping irate residents in mind for things that have come into their community they didn?t like making sure you contact them.
Swanson asked how they were able to narrow so many streets in Grand Rapids. Schultz stated educating the planning commission/ staff to take on the engineers about what designs are realistic and what the thresholds are for traffic volumes.
Swanson stated in Grand Rapids probably about 1/3 of the traffic signals in the city shouldn?t be there, but you can?t take them out because the public loves them. Schultz stated it is next to impossible to remove them, the criteria to remove a signal versus getting one in is very hard.
Schultz stated Grand Rapids zoning ordinance is online, and the Master Plan and Green Grand Rapids have their own sites. She stated it shows all the recommendations that the citizens have made and all the maps that have been created as part of the project.
Winczweski asked how they got their information out. Schultz stated they have a lot of online communication, posted it on facebook, emailed a lot of people who in turn distribute to others. She stated for every big project they do she makes sure there is some money for public relations. She stated they have a person to keep them posted as to when the press releases should go out and when it should go into the community calendars to make sure everybody knows about it. She stated she follows up to make sure that everybody is aware of it and is covered in the news. She stated they make sure that the information is not just the printed notice in the paper.
Director Scweitzer asked about Centerpointe mall and have they seen plans for redevelopment. Schultz stated the developers have never come back, but the site plan was approved. She stated they didn?t have to come in front of the planning commission because they were meeting all the requirements; they were proposing sidewalks all along 28th and East Beltline. She stated she hasn?t heard any discussions as to what is going to happen to Klingmans but eventually it will have to be torn down due to the basement flooding issues. She stated she hasn?t heard anymore from Klingmans since the site plan was approved.
Schweitzer stated his sense is there is a lot more flexibility in the new zoning regulations. Director Schweitzer asked if anything has come in to possibly turn Centerpointe mall into residential. Schultz stated if they come in to turn portions into residential the new regulations make it possible.
Schweitzer asked about 44th and Breton. He stated the retail center seems to be struggling. He inquired what is GR envisioning in that area. Schultz stated they haven?t heard anything about that area. She stated they are being flexible but want to have high standards at the same time.
Winczewski stated he likes GR format that is being used in the zoning ordinance. He stated although some of the ordinances are strict, it is clear what they are and he thinks it is one of the issues Kentwood has. He stated a lot of things are special land use and you don?t really know what we?re going to require when they come forward with that plan. He stated it would be important if we take time as a commission and if staff wee to write the ordinances in a way that a developer can look at them and say this is clear what they need.
Schultz stated the more you get into mixed use the harder it gets. She stated GR has a huge regulation chapter. For example you don?t want the bar next to the brand new townhomes. She stated they have an added layer of rules to ensure whether or not it is a special land use or permitted by right to make sure they are more sensitive to what is around them.
Golder stated one of the things Kentwood struggles with are mixed uses recommended in our current master plan. Developers will tell us that the market has not supported mixing uses in a suburban setting. Golder asked Schultz if she had any advice or experience with that in their more suburban areas. Schultz stated that developers complain when they are doing it, but the feedback afterwards that it has turned out to be a great project. Schultz stated that incentivizing what you are encouraging is a key thing. She also stated that regulating to the point where it?s uncomfortable to the developer and they really don?t want to do it is a tricky balance. Shultz stated if you make the density high enough and parking requirements low enough mixed use can be encouraged. Shultz stated that is where they have gotten their big response.
2. Commissioners? Comments
There were no commissioner?s comments.
3. Staff?s Comments
There were no staff comments.
Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Holtrop, to adjourn the meeting.
- Motion Carried (9-0) ?
Meeting adjourned at 9:55p.m.
Don Yokom, Secretary