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JANUARY 13, 2015, 7:30 P.M.
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  1. Chair Young called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
  1. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commissioner Jones.
  1. Roll Call:
Members Present: Bill Benoit, Garrett Fox, Dan Holtrop, Sandra Jones, Ed Kape, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff,  and Johngerlyn Young
Members Absent: Steve Redmond
Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Staff Secretary Monique Collier and the applicants.
Motion by Holtrop, supported by Fox, to excuse Redmond from the meeting.
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent-
  1. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
Young pointed out that in the approval of the minutes of December 9 that 2015, should read 2014.
Motion by Commissioner Holtrop, supported by Commissioner Fox, to approve the Minutes of December 9, 2014 and the Findings of Fact for: Case#17-14Friction Crossfit – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for a Small Group Fitness and Rehabilitation Facility Located at 3390 Broadmoor SE
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent -
  1. Approval of the Agenda
Motion by Commissioner Holtrop, supported by Commissioner Jones, to approve the agenda for the January 13, 2015 meeting.
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent -
  1. Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
  1. Old Business
There was no old Business
  1. Public Hearing
Case#1-15 – A-1 36th Street Self Storage – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for an Outdoor Storage of Recreational Vehicles - Located at 4175 36th Street SE
Director Schweitzer stated the request is for Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for Outdoor Storage of Recreational Vehicles in an Industrial Zone. Schweitzer stated there is single family residential to the east, industrial zoning to the west and to the south, and to the north there are the consumers energy power lines and high density residential development. Schweitzer stated mini storages have been on this property a number of years. The Zoning Ordinance was amended on August 19, 2014 to make allowance for the outdoor storage of recreational vehicles in the Industrial zone districts subject to Special Land Use and Site Plan approval. Schweitzer stated by making allowance there were conditions assigned to this type of use so that it would not become a principal use of the property; it had to be secondary or accessory specifically to a self-storage facility.
Schweitzer stated in this case there is an existing self-storage facility. The ordinance requires that the storage of vehicles be on a paved surface and be on the rear portion of the lot. Schweitzer stated the applicant is before the City due to zoning enforcement action. They were notified of the change in the regulations and they had already started up the outside storage of recreational vehicles prematurely without City approval.  At the time of the work session there were recreational vehicles stored along the east line of the site on unpaved area. There were also vehicles parked along the west portion of the site in the spot where there is a future mini storage building planned. There are some asphalt millings that are in that area for the surface of that area and then the northern portion of the site is paved.
Schweitzer stated that future unit G is where the applicant would like to place a new enclosed facility this upcoming spring. That would displace the recreational vehicles and other equipment that are stored on the grass along the east lot line. Their plans are to pave to the north so that it would expand upon the existing paving, then the new facility would be built. This would still be an open area but by building this and expanding the paving they would propose to store all the outside storage of recreational vehicles on the paved surface in the rear yard of the lot.
Schweitzer stated there are Uhaul rentals on the property for both trucks and for trailers and other accessory equipment. The rental of truck in the industrial zone has been treated as a similar use to truck terminals. All other rentals are not permitted. Schweitzer discussed the orientation of the site.
Dean Koopman was present. He stated currently they are down to 5 along the west lot line vehicles and 3 will be removed tomorrow and the remaining 2 he has commitments that they will be removed by the end of the week by the tenants. Koopman stated the intent is to put everything in the area where future building B would be located for the next few months, break ground in the building this spring on building G and once it is complete then they will move all the vehicles to the back of the lot to be in compliance. Koopman stated the timeframe they would be looking at is breaking ground in May and have the moved completed by the end of the summer or fall depending on construction contingencies.
Young opened the public hearing.
There was no public comment
Motion by Vander Hoff, supported by Jones, to close the public hearing
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent -
Fox stated at the work session there were expectations that he will have some things moved to be compliant by the public hearing and he was concerned that did not happen. Koopman stated he was trying to allow the tenants to move their trailers but in the end it required him to actually physically move them for some of the tenants even a few of the vehicle owners he hasn’t been able to contact. He stated he is working on that and he would prefer to have them do it themselves but he has arranged to have a company come in to relocate vehicles those who have not yet responded.
Holtrop stated that the applicant stated he would have everything complete by the end of summer /fall but the staff recommendation says by July 30 and he wants to make sure the applicant is aware there is a recommended deadline. Discussion ensued regarding storing vehicles.
Benoit questioned the fire department approval for the fire lane. Koopman stated his understanding is that fire approval will be secured if building G does not exceed 349 feet in length. Benoit questioned if the applicant figured out how all the trailers will fit back there and still give the fire department an opportunity to get around. Koopman stated that will be a discussion he has to have, they may not all fit.
Pemberton ask about the 5 units off the east line and will they be moved off premise. Koopman stated they are getting moved to another area onsite.
Jones stated she still has the same concerns that she had at the work session in terms of the applicant knowingly being out of compliance. She stated this leads her to have concerns with the integrity of the applicant to be compliant going forward. She stated she wants to be sure that the number of units he puts in the back area is appropriate and adequate access for the fire department. Koopman stated he understands her concerns and it is not in his best interest as an owner to cram too many trailers in because people need to get in and out. Discussion ensued.
Motion by Holtrop, supported by Jones, to grant conditional approval of the request of A-1 36th Street Self Storage for the Special Land Use Outdoor Storage of Recreational Vehicles at 4175-36th Street, SE as described Case #1-15.  Approval is conditioned on conditions 1-4 on basis points 1-3 as described in Schweitzer’s memo.
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent -
Motion by Holtrop, supported by Jones to grant conditional approval of the site plan dated December 14, 2014 of the A-1 36th Street Self -Storage at 4175-36th Street, SE as described Case #1-15.  Approval is conditioned on conditions 1-4 and basis points 1-3 as described in Schweitzer’s memo.
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent -
  1. Work Session
Case #2-15 – VCA Woodland Animal Hospital – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review of an Animal Hospital Located at 3100 29th Street
Planner Golder introduced the request. She stated the request is for Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for an animal hospital. The project involves the development of a 6,000 square foot animal hospital on a vacant property located at the southwest corner of Shaffer Avenue and 29th Street.  The hospital is currently located at 3012 Shaffer Avenue SE.   Services include well exams, vaccines, surgeries, radiology and hospitalization services.  A small retail sales area is also planned.
Golder stated Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa previously had built a detention pond at the intersection and a future building was planned to the south but now they are looking to sell the eastern portion of the site for the veterinarian clinic which is currently located across the street on Shaffer. This is a relocation and an expansion she stated the project involves a 6,000 square foot building
Golder stated when initially looked at the special land use standards she found that the minimum main and accessory building setback was required to be seventy-five (75) feet from the front property line and fifty (50) feet from all other property lines. The proposed animal hospital is setback 105’ from the front property line but approximately 40 feet from the side property line. It appeared a variance would be required if the building could not be relocated She stated she discovered the regulation was changed but never incorporated it into our ordinance. There is no longer a specific setback requirement for animal hospitals.
      She stated this meets the special land use standards. She stated we need clarification as to what extent the facility serves as a kennel. Golder stated  if the overnight stay for the animals is limited to animals receiving treatment, then the additional Special Land Use approval for a kennel would not be required. She stated the statement regarding the kenneling of animals needs to be included in the operations statement. Golder stated our ordinance states if there are more than 3 animals kept overnight besides those that are staying for hospitalization then it becomes a kennel and the standards are different for kennels. If they do want to do kenneling then we would have to re-notice and come back for another public hearing because we didn’t review it for a kennel, we reviewed it for an animal hospital.
      Golder stated this animal hospital project is commercial in nature and it is a good use to have adjacent to Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa. She stated it meets our general special land use standards.
      Golder stated other issues are that there is going to be underground detention the applicant will need an easement for access because they are going to be using the existing driveway curb cut on to 29th Street and additional street trees are required to continue up Shaffer.
      Steve Wiitte, Nederveld was present representing the VCA Animal Hospital and Alisha Rienhout, Manager for VCA. Witte stated the proposed use is for an animal hospital. The animals that would stay overnight are the animals that need treatment. He stated in speaking to the VCA owner they would like their clients to have the ability to have pets there that are healthy. Witte stated they used to have that capability at the existing site but lately they haven’t been using that. He stated the owner would like that possibility to be allowed to kennel, but they don’t intend to use it at this time. Witte stated the site as it sits right now  Whiskers secured special land use approval to provide a kennel service. He stated VCA would like the kennel use for their project without having to re-advertise and pushing back the approval of the project. He stated if the City says they need to re-advertise the owner said he does want to do that. He wants the ability in the future to have the kenneling of several animals if their existing clients want to use that service.
      Witte stated the plan they initially submitted had less square footage then the plan presented this evening. The difference is they decided to add a physical therapy area in the back of the building that pushed the square footage up to 7,255 square feet. It is a single story, very attractive building. He stated they submitted renderings of the façade that meets the City standards. He stated as far as parking they will utilize the existing drive off 29th Street there is no need for a separate curb cut. He stated VCA wanted a campus feel and tied into Whiskers use because the pet and pet kenneling and animal hospital really tie in nicely. He stated with utilizing the existing drive entrance off 29th Street, total of 27 new parking spaces would be provided in front of the proposed building. That comes at a great cost to VCA because that is where the storm water holding area is now. The lowest part of the site is there in order to make that happen they need to fill in the detention base and create underground storm water which will cost about 80,000 dollars to do so. They are making an investment in the site, in the appearance of the site and how it will function. Witte stated they are providing street trees and shrubs along both 29th and Shaffer. The south end of the property is very wooded and those woods would remain.
            Jones questioned if VCA has had conversation to Whiskers in regard to the kenneling opportunity. Witte stated Whiskers owns the property and is selling the property to VCA and in their purchase agreement Whiskers has to approve everything related to VCA’s site. Jones stated it appears VCA wants to kennel. Witte stated they might not . They don’t currentlydo it at their existing facility but they want the ability to do that in the future if they decided that they want to.
            Pemberton stated he had a similar concern about the kenneling. Pemberton stated he doesn’t know if any limitations can be placed on kenneling but that might be a way to get through this to expedite the process. He stated this makes total sense to him to have the veterinary clinic next to Whiskers. Rienhout stated they currently partner with Whiskers and take care of medical needs for their facility and have had many conversations as to how their future partnership will go. Reinhout stated their need or want or future desire to be able to board some pets would be very minimal. They only have 7 holding runs in their floor plan and then cages for hospitalized patients. Therefore it will be a very minimal kenneled amount. She stated she doesn’t see that happening.
            Benoit stated the kenneling is a big difference than what they are proposing but as far a fit he thinks it is a great fit. Witte stated kenneling is not a big significance. Discussion ensued.
            Holtrop stated he loves to see trees but questioned whether they will hide the building. Witte stated the trees that are showing is what is required by City ordinance. He stated if the planning commission says we can have fewer trees then they would be for it. He stated they have a ground sign that is proposed on the property on 29th Street.
            Golder stated we had an approval for this entire parcel for a kennel, at the minimum it would be a site plan review for a kennel. This is not how it was noticed but we have to find out whether the zoning administrator determines the need to send it back to be re-noticed. Discussion ensued.
            Kape questioned whether it was a safety concern with them not having an entrance off of Shaffer. Golder stated it is ok and it is actually better for them to have that one entry, fire only needs one lane.
            Fox questioned if increasing the square footage will add additional employees. Witte stated there will be between 7-12 employees. The change in size is just the back corner and that is for physical therapy. Fox ask how many animals they will be able to service Reinhout stated they will have 7 exam rooms maybe 3-4 clients. Fox ask how many animals they plan to kennel. Witte stated the intent is to have 4 or more but they don’t want to tie their hands
            Golder stated those kinds of details stating like how many animals they wish to kennel should be in the operations statement.
  1. New Business
Motion by Holtop,  supported by Pemberton to set a public hearing date of January 27 ,2015 for Case #2-15VCA Woodland Animal Hospital – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review of an Animal Hospital Located at 3100 29th Street;Set public hearing date of February 10, 2015 for Case#3-15 – Wildflower Creek – Final Site Plan Review of a   PUD Phase; Pre-Preliminary Plat Review; and Consideration of a Change to a PUD Condition Located at 5083 Wild Senna Ave SE
  • Motion Carried (8-0 –
  • Redmond -
  1. Other Business
  1. Appeal of AJ Veneklasen Zoning Administration interpretation on Industrial Façade Requirements
Director Schweitzer stated most provision of the zoning ordinance if there is an appeal on it goes to the zoning board of appeals. The appeal on industrial façade requirements is one the exceptions. Schweitzer stated Chapter 10.02.C 2 shows different types of building materials and allowable percentages. He stated what the applicant would like to utilize more than 75% the decorative masonry. Staff formally denied the request and Venklasen filed an appeal.
Schweitzer reviewed the background of the city façade standards noting that as time passed technological advancements were made in the appearance and function of various building materials to the point where the zoning ordinance was amended to allow the Zoning Administrator the discretion to consider new building products provided: the finished treatment was found to be compatible with surrounding properties in terms of color and overall image; the relative scale of the building in terms of height and area; the extent to which the was setback from the street frontage(s) and the amount and quality of landscaping on the street and along the building. Schweitzer stated due to the amount of discretion afforded to the Zoning Administrator an appeal process was established that ultimately empowered the Planning Commission to decide whether the determination by the Zoning Administrator was reasonable.
In 2002 the City completed a comprehensive review and amendment of the Zoning Ordinance that included the façade requirements that are in effect today. These requirements specify the maximum percent of wall to be covered by various building materials. The appeal process to the Planning Commission on the Zoning Administrator determination was retained however no specific review standards were identified. However, Section 13.08 of the Zoning Ordinance contains the general review standards below in all cases where the City Commission, zoning administrator, staff review team, Planning Commission or zoning board of appeals is required to make a decision under this ordinance in addition to any standards which may be specifically required for a particular approval type.
  1. Whether or not the request reasonably preserves the health, safety and welfare of the public, and is in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this ordinance
  2. Whether or not the request is generally consistent with the master plan and provisions of this ordinance that are designed to lessen congestion in the streets, to secure safety from fire, panic and other dangers.
  3. Whether or not the request will unduly interfere with the provision of adequate light and air, cause an overcrowding of land, or cause an undue concentration of population
  4. Whether or not the request will unduly interfere with or adversely affect traffic patterns and streets, water supply, wastewater collection and disposal systems, park and recreational facilities and other public services
  5. Whether or not the request may have a tendency to create any type of blight within the immediate area.
  6. Whether or not the request may have a tendency to create any type of blight within the immediate area
  7. Whether or not the request is generally aesthetically compatible with its surroundings.
Schweitzer stated there have been a limited number of appeals to the Planning Commission on the Zoning Administrator façade determinations.
Chris Veneklasen was present representing AJ Vaneklasen Inc. He stated their goal is for a first class high end industrial development. He stated the partnership doing this development is interested in a generational type of project. They want a building they know is going to last forever. The precast option and the decorative masonry was proposed early because it had great longevity and look, not a common look in West Michigan. He stated their goal is to have a great looking building and a great landscaping plan. He stated they just want to build a great building and rather incorporate metal or dryvit into the façade.
Vanderhoff ask the projected size of the building and if there were any tenants lined up. Veneklasen stated they have a lot of interest but the struggle is the prospective tenants want to see activity and the partnership has been taking their time to get the building planned correctly. Veneklasen stated the first phase is 50,000 square feet, the first building on its own is 150,000 square feet and a second building will be 110,000 square feet. Discussion ensued.
Fox stated the limitations on the material is based on appearance and he inquired if they would be interested in increasing the amount of  trees. Veneklasen stated yes they would increase the amount of trees, however, they are already exceeding what the ordinance requires.  Veneklasen stated they have a significant amount of landscaping already. Fox ask what kind of maintenance will be required on the material used on the building. Veneklasen stated you can power wash it or eventually if they had to stain it again, they would be able to do that. Fox ask if brick is less desirable. Veneklasen stated they have to hit certain R values and with brick that alone won’t give you the value you need for the State energy requirements. You would have to do more on the inside, but for an industrial building you want that clean interior. The precast actually carries the steel so it is also load baring.
Holtrop questioned the initial metal paneled south elevation and his concern whether it will be visible. Venklasen stated when the final wall is built it will be precast. Holtrop stated the south elevation doesn’t look like a high class building but the west looks great. Hotrop stated if you’re coming from the south on interstate 37 he would want more. Venklasen stated he understands what Holtrop want but the struggle is the back wall gets recycled then sequencing it’s hard to reuse that wall. Holtrop stated he would just like the south elevation to look as good as the west. Discussion ensued. Holtrop ask if a tenant comes long and wants to remodel, modify of update, how easy would that be to do that. Veneklasen stated you can bolt things right to the material. Holtrop noted this site is a gateway into the community. Golder acknowledged that it is part of a large triangular track of land that does provide a gateway. Golder stated that is the northern part of the track before the railroad cuts off going into Steelcase. There is another chunk at the south end of the track that when that develops the gateway consideration will be even more significant. Discussion ensued.
Benoit stated texture will really make the building stand out as a better looking building. Venklasen stated if you texturize then you really can’t stain it, you can but it will hide the texture. Veneklasen stated instead they are doing different panel designs in an effort to create an attractive design. Discussion ensued
Pemberton stated colors can do a lot and give depth and add some character to a fairly flat façade. Pemberton stated perhaps this is an opportunity to look at the ordinance and catch up with technology and building materials. He stated he likes the idea and it looks like a nice project.
Jones stated she agrees with Pemberton with respect to the colors. Jones asked about their timeframe to start construction. Veneklasen stated as soon as mother nature will let them. They will try in February.
Young asked how many phases. Vaneklasen stated that will be hard to predict. They have it set in 50,000 square foot increments. Young ask what kind of clients are interested. Vanekalsen stated most are those who are in obsolete buildings and a lot of the influence that is coming out is fire protection. Discussion ensued.
Schweitzer stated the landscape plan meets the requirements however, it doesn’t exceed it and one way to address this is to indicate having larger plant materials at the initial planting. Discussion ensued.
Motion by Holtrop, supported by VanderHoff, to grant the appeal of AJ Vaneklasen based on the presentation and conditioned upon a revised landscaping plan that exceeds our current minimum requirements; the supplemental landscaping will be reviewed and approved by staff.  
  • Motion Carried (7-1) –
  • Pemberton abstaining -
  1. Election of Officers
Motion by Vanderhoff, supported by Fox, to retain the current officers: Young, Chair; Holtrop, Vice-Chair and Kape, Secretary
  • Redmond absent -
  1. Commissioners’ Comments
Commissioners offered no additional comments.
  1. Staff’s Comments
Staff offered no additional comments
  1. Adjournment  
Motion by Commissioner vanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Kape,                           to adjourn the meeting.
  • Motion Carried (8-0) –
  • Redmond absent -
Meeting adjourned at 8:58pm
                                                            Respectfully submitted,
                                                            Ed Kape, Secretary