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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
JULY 14, 2015, 7:30 P.M.
COMMISSION CHAMBERS
  (return  to index)
 
  1. Vice-Chair Holtrop called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
     
  2. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commissioner Pemberton.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Bill Benoit, Emily Bridson, Garrett Fox, Dan Holtrop, Sandra Jones, Ed Kape, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff
    Members Absent: Johngerlyn Young
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Planner Joe Pung, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, and the applicants.
     
    Motion by Kape, supported by Jones,to excuse Young from the meeting.
     
  4. Motion Carried (8-0)
  5. Young absent -
     
  6. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Fox to approve the Minutes of  June 9, 2015 and the Findings of Fact for: Case#19-15 – Lowes – Major Change to a Site Plan Expansion of Outside Display and Storage Located at 3330 28th Street SE; Case#20-15 – Heritage Pointe South- Final Site Plan Review of a PUD Phase Located at 2144 East Paris Ave. SE; Case#21-15 Advanced Plastic Surgery – Rezoning of .72 acres of land from R1-C- Single Family Residential to C4 Office Located at 3855 &3875 Burton
  7. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  8. Young absent -
  9. Approval of the Agenda
     
    Motion by Commissioner Vanderhoff, supported by Commissioner Fox,                              to approve the agenda for the July 14, 2015 meeting.
     
  10. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  11. Young absent -
     
  12. Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
  13. Old Business
     
    There was no Old Business
     
  14. Public Hearing
     
    There were no Public Hearings
     
  15. Work Session
     
    Case # 22-15 –   Misar Motors LLC – Special Land Use and Site Plan For a An Indoor Vehicle Sales in the Industrial Zone – Located at 4525 50th Street SE
     
    Pung stated the request is for special land use and site plan review for indoor vehicle sales in an industrial district. Pung stated the applicant is requesting to use 1,250 square feet of an existing 21,726 square foot building for indoor vehicle sales. Pung stated the primary use of the property a motor freight terminal, which will continue to be the primary use of the property. Pung stated the applicant is looking at an accessory use for the ability to sell either a car or brokerage the sale of semi-tractor/trailer as part of their business. Indoor vehicle sales is going to be a small use that would occur within the building. The applicant set aside an area in the warehouse to place a vehicle that would be for sale. Pung stated one criteria is that they can’t have any outdoor display or storage of any vehicle that is for sale.
     
    Pung stated there were no major issues identified with the use. It is consistent with the zoning master plan and the special land use criteria. He stated since the site is currently used as a motor freight terminal the ancillary use is consistent. Pung stated if the principal use changes over to something other than a motor freight terminal, we need to have a condition that would state the use would have to be ancillary to a motor freight terminal or a similar use.
     
    Spencer Hinton was present. He stated they would like to complement their business.
     
    Fox questioned how often the need comes up to buy/lease a vehicle. His concern was would 1,250 square feet be enough to accommodate what the applicant needs. Hinton stated he only expects to sell/lease anywhere from 10-15 cars per year. Hinton stated with the industry being such a shortage of drivers it has come up in the past that it would actually help the drivers and their business.
     
    Benoit asked if it wasn’t required by him to get a licensing from the State would we know that the he was running this operation. Hinton stated no we would not, there is no signage. it is all indoors. They don’t sell to the public, it is mostly their drivers.
     
    Pemberton asked if they would be working on semi-tractors too. Hinton stated yes they update the equipment and have to stay in code with California.
    Jones questioned how cars fit into his business. Hinton stated they have drivers who don’t live in Grand Rapids. Hinton stated if their drivers need a car locally to get back home they can’t sit on a computer and shop or go to dealerships. Hinton stated they would help them broker the car or help them purchase.
     
    Kape asked whether they have to do prep work on vehicles they are looking to sell. Hinton stated in the State of California the vehicles have to be 2007 or newer and the following year they keep updating. If they have a tractor that is from 2007 that is functional but can’t go into California anymore then they would sell that tractor.
     
    Holtrop stated there were no major issues and we will see the applicant in 2 weeks.
     
    Case # 23-15 – The Pantry – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for a Child Day Care Center – Located at 5308 Division Ave SE; Case # 24-15 – The Pantry Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for an Assembly Building– Located at 5308 Division Ave SE
     
    Planner Golder introduced the request and presented a brief overview of the site. She stated the applicant is seeking approval for the reuse of an existing .92 acre site, with a 22,500 square foot building into three separate uses: a daycare center (7,000 square feet), a food pantry (7,000 square feet) and a worship/assembly space (8,500 square feet).  She stated the worship and assembly space would also include some office space for administration and programming, with activities that are social and faith-based, as well as programming/classes on topics such as financial literacy, workforce readiness, community gardening, etc.  The assembly portion of the development is also the subject of a separate special land use review
     
    Golder stated parking in the C-5 Zone is required to be setback 15 feet.  However, in this case the building is located on the front lot line, therefore parking is currently within the right-of-way.  Angled parking as shown on the site plan will cause cars to back onto and drive over the public sidewalk which is not conducive to making Division Avenue more walkable.  Staff has recommended parallel parking in the front yard, adjacent to the building.  This will bring the building more into compliance and closer to the proposed Form Based Code to be incorporated along Division Avenue.
     
    Golder stated in the C2 zone a church is permitted by right but because they are adding other uses if would require a special land use.
     
    Golder stated the site is paved and there is angled parking now. Golder suggested to the applicant to convert the parkway into greenspace and they indicated the City of Kentwood paved it last year. Golder stated it would be our desire to make more green space. There are a number of easements. However, Golder stated we will have to get easements for traffic going through the site to allow two way traffic. Golder stated there are some issues with the easements because they are showing incorrectly on the plan. Golder stated what is important to know with the front piece of the property is that there is enough between easement and deed restriction for highway purposes to make up the right-of-way (ROW) for Division Avenue and the easement for ROW ends behind the sidewalk.
     
    Golder stated we have other issues when we go further north and south. Golder stated there is also a 80 foot easement to the north that was platted as Miller Parkway and at the time Miller Parkway was designed it was planned for ingress/egress and parking. Since that time (according to Excel Engineering) it has been vacated. Therefore we have to find out what the conditions were of that vacation in terms of ownership, access, parking and maintenance responsibilities.
     
    Golder stated parking is tight on the site, the more parking and access we can get behind the site the less pressure it is on Division Avenue. Exxel is work on the easement issues.  She stated after we understand the easement issues it comes down to parking and circulation for the various uses. Golder stated on the plan there is angled parking. But it is our desire for the Division Avenue corridor to try to preserve and buffer the sidewalk. Staff is recommending parallel parking along the front of the building, bringing the use closer in compliance with current setback requirements.  The sidewalk adjacent to the building is raised; this will prohibit cars from parking on it. Parking blocks should be utilized along the sidewalk near Division Avenue to prohibit cars from crossing onto the sidewalk.   The driveway adjacent to the parallel spaces will be a one-way driveway.  A sidewalk extending from the Division Avenue sidewalk to the front door should be provided.
     
    Golder stated the applicant doesn’t show side parking but at their staff meeting it was discussed having more parallel parking. They can put in 4 spaces along the north side of the building but we are not sure if they have access out to 52nd Street and given the condition of Miller Parkway we don’t know if they can go that way. Golder stated ideally two way traffic would be great. Therefore, if the applicant gets permission from the property owner to the north there will be adequate space to have concrete sidewalk extending back to the doorway which will be one of the entrances to the daycare.
     
     Golder stated the only other thing that she would suggest is a walkway because presumably they are going to be having a lot of bus traffic. A walkway going up to the front door would be nice, there is also a raised sidewalk.
     
    Golder stated there is enough room per our ordinance to have two sides of parallel parking and two way drive aisle along the side. Golder stated that will give them 4 additional parking spaces. On the back side they show 19 parking spaces, they put some parking spaces in front of the dumpster. There might be a loading situation where they would want people being able to load into the pantry. She stated the applicant has flipped things around on the plan so that their play area will go in the back and the loading will go by the panty.
     
    Golder stated the applicant needs to provide a parking operations plan that shows how much parking demand there will be and how the applicant intends to meet the parking need. The applicant needs to provide copies of parking agreements or easements. Golder stated parking is short, but the peak usage of the various uses may be offset sufficient to make it work.
     
    Golder stated the proposed daycare center is required to have 15 spaces to meet the zoning ordinance standards for the C-5 zone.  With the requirement to change the front yard parking to parallel parking, a total of 22 parking spaces can be provided on site.  Fifteen are required for the daycare; the assembly building requires 60 spaces (applicant’s parking operations plan suggests that only 40 would be needed at most).  The proposed pantry would require 25 spaces.  The applicant has indicated that the pantry hours are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM, and Thursday from 6:00-8:00PM. The assembly building would be open Saturday and Sunday 7:00AM-5:00PM.  However, the other assembly uses mentioned in the overview of the project (classes, counseling, etc.) may conflict with the pantry or day care hours.  In order to serve clients better, the applicant may wish to make arrangements for employee parking at another location and we would want that documented by easements.
     
    Golder stated currently they have 32 spaces and they need 80, but when looking at the Form Based Code we are thinking about reducing parking requirements significantly. Golder stated to meet the code now they would have to have access to additional parking. Ideally they will have access off site to some additional parking and employees may park off site. Golder stated they are looking to add additional spaces through discussion with one of the property owners to the north to pave the additional space. She stated it is currently gravel and when paving previous gravel areas you have to worry about drainage.  They will have to look at how they will drain that new area that would be paved. They can make up the 80 parking spaces somewhere else and get as many as you can on the site. Golder stated she thinks it will also be ok that if Sunday services are only on Sunday and nothing else is happening then they offset each other therefore they can plan for having enough for the daycare and the food pantry use and Sunday services will take care of itself.
     
    Golder stated they are working on securing the agreements and we would want that in writing and recorded so it will be there for a long time.
     
    Michael Merren was present from the food Pantry. He stated they are anticipating this move to be advantageous because currently they are located in the basement of a church and there is not enough size and room for them to do the different things they would like to do to try to alleviate poverty.  He stated they are also looking at the move onto the Division Ave corridor as an opportunity for their clients to utilize the bus to get to the Pantry.  He stated they are currently located at 44th and Kalamazoo north; offset from the road about 2/3 of a mile and from the bus stop there is a good 20 minute walk. But when you have limited mobility like a lot of their clients and individuals with wheelchairs and other disabilities it becomes difficult for them to get to the Pantry. He stated they would like to make this move for those individuals to make it easier to find them and to get there easier. He stated their service area is from 131 over to Patterson and 28th Street to the county line. They service 48 square miles. He stated the individuals trying to come to them from the south by bus have a major problem because the bus doesn’t run north on Kalamazoo Avenue. He stated they are looking at Division Avenue because every major road 28th,36, 44th and 60th Streets can feed into the Division Avenue corridor and take the bus to the Pantry.
     
    Kape stated with respect to daycare they plan to have 45 kids served by 2 full time and 6 part time employees. Merren stated each of the classrooms (when they are in use) need to have a teacher and paraprofessional in them and their office manager and their preschool daycare director both are licensed to teach and will be doing so for parts of the day. They would offset each other and the para pros will fill in 4 and 6 hour shifts. Kape stated he would be interested in hearing the creativity they plan to do with the playground. Merren stated they have playground sets for small areas where they configure them. There is a pattern where you move in and out between the elements so things are on the east side of the fencing or the west side of the fencing. There is no time you will see congestion because kids will be coming out in groups at different times; the flow will be natural. Kape questioned how security and protection of the children will be handled. Merren stated without the specs from the licensing group he doesn’t know what it will require and they are not at that point, but they will do everything they can to make sure the walls or fencing is consistent with code.
     
    Bridson stated she is excited about the idea and thinks this is a great way to serve our refugee neighbors. She stated the site hasn’t been in service for 10 years and she was looking at the disrepair on the outside of the building. What are their plans to address the outside fa├žade. Merren stated their architect is still preparing the drawings for the entrances but their intentions are to clean up the property, there are a great deal of issues. They will repair cement, sidewalks and the building and add greenery that will be more attractive to the site. Each entrance will have an accent piece something more modern and fresh. 
     
    Bridson stated the parking in front even if it were changed a little bit that runs right up to the sidewalk it is very tight.  Merren stated it is tight and the way it is set up currently with perpendicular parking that is the way it is up and down the Division Avenue. Merren stated the curb on Division is very low, people drive up over the curb. Merren stated the entrances will have to be identified with some sort of painting and signage. He stated with the parking moving from perpendicular to parallel then they would gain several feet and it will be an adequate amount of space. Bridson questioned if the change to parallel parking be consistent with the form based code. Golder stated it would be in line but we haven’t worked out if there will be setbacks etc. Merren stated they definitely want to protect their people, they are looking at being a destination where people are going to be walking to them from the bus stop. It’s not far to the route 1 bus stop but it is a bit of a walk from the Silverline bus stop.
     
    Kape questioned when they will provide building elevations for Planning Commission review. Guy Bazzani stated they hire architects specifically for different types of projects but they direct the greening and the infrastructure and the low impact designs for building’s. Bazzani stated it is their style to make this as high performance as possible so they will lower their cost since they are a non profit. He stated trying to find a way to add some greenery to an asphalt strip will be challenging. Discussion ensued
     
    Jones questioned the status of their easement discussion. Merren stated they have just begun the easement discussion because they were not sure if they were going to need the additional parking. Jones questioned if this is the first daycare for the Pantry. Merren stated the Pantry will be bringing with them staff that is currently engaged in daycare and preschool.  Jones questioned  when and where the nutrition classes will be held. Merrens stated for clients that are already there they may be some offerings that would take place but it wouldn’t be additional numbers to the services taking place during that day. They have what is called a NOW Pantry (Nutritional Options for Wellness), those individuals are scheduled for visits during the day and they may be at the same time for their visit and a class. There are small groups with about 10 individuals and a lot of them together. The other offerings will be after Pantry and daycare hours.
     
    Jones asked if they are a resettlement agency. Merren stated no, the vast majority of refugees and immigrants in our community come by way of Bethany Christian Services or Lutheran Christian Services and what tends to happen after 6 months or 18 months is that their clients no longer have anyone to take care of their needs. Discussion ensued.
     
    Jones questioned with the number and variety of refugees whether they have the food that is attractive to that population. Merren stated they have been working on that for several years and part of their gardening exercise is to address that. They are focused on providing fruits and vegetables responsive to the needs of those individuals.  He stated they have a large population of Burmese, Vietnamese, and Chinese. What they have found is that they were struggling with the idea of canned vegetables and they would only taking bits and pieces of what they had to offer. They had to increase their fresh food offering substantially, which they have done. 
     
    Jones asked if the worship center is a new church. Merren stated it is not, the community has been worshipping for over 10 years. Discussion ensued. Merren stated they have been worshipping at Mayflower on  Robinson Road. It is a temporary home they have been at for several years and they are looking for something more stable. Jones asked how the Pantry is funded. Merren stated currently they are funded from individuals and churches in the area. Now that they are separately incorporated from the Presbyterian congregation they are looking to seek funding from foundations in the greater Grand Rapids Area and West Michigan.
     
    Pemberton questioned how many clients they have using mass transit. Merren stated currently it isn’t nearly as high as what they would expect because of the difficulty of getting to them from south. Right now between 15-20% and they expect that would increase to about 35%. He stated a number of individuals ride with neighbors. Pemberton asked how many people they serve currently. Merren stated they serve about 800 families a month, around 10,000 households a year, 33,000 individuals in total.
     
    Benoit noted the food pantry is allowed by right permitted. Golder stated if it were just a church then it would be permitted by right but would still have to meet the parking standards but not subject to special land use standards. Benoit stated the food panty will not be subject to any special land use because of the timing of this proposal.  Is staff looking for some kind of development agreement to hold the applicant to this. Golder stated this will be added with the conditions of approval. Golder stated they have submitted their statement of operations and we will name that in the recommendation. 
     
    Fox questioned what is their timeline for construction. Merren stated ideally they would have already purchased the building but at this point they have held off on doing the final paperwork on signing for the purchase of the building waiting on approval from the planning commission. Once this is accepted they would expect to close on the building in August and at that point they would start the internal demolition. He thinks they wouldn’t be ready within the next 6-8 months, it could take longer.
     
    Fox asked if they have had any conversations with the property owner to the north for additional parking. Merren stated they have begun conversations with Andy Turbergen and he is still trying to track down the owner of the building next to the proposed site and to the north of them. They are looking to create an easement and a shared parking agreement. Merren stated to the east he has made contact with Bill Kodo and he is discussing with the site manager what might be feasible. Fox stated when he comes back for the public hearing the planning commission would like to see plans. Merren stated he has been assured that they will have plans.
     
    VanderHoff wished him good luck on his project and likes that they are meeting a need in the community.
     
    Holtrop stated he appreciates hearing they are already in existence just transitioning. Holtrop questioned the size of the food pantry compared to where they are now. Merren stated they are located in a gymnasium and currently they have one office and 2 cubicles under a set of stairs and that space occupies about 4,500 square feet. Merren stated what they are proposing would be more aisles than their current space for the retail.  Holtop stated for the public hearing the commission would like to see plans and parking and easements.
     
  16. New Business
     
    Motion by Jones, supported by Benoit to set a public hearing date  of July 28, 2015 for: Case # 22-15 –   Misar Motors LLC – Special Land Use and Site Plan For an Indoor Vehicle Sales in the industrial Zone – Located at 4525 50th Street SE; Case # 23-15 – The Pantry – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for a Child Day Care Center – Located at 5308 Division Ave SE; Case # 24-15 – The Pantry Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for an Assembly Building– Located at 5308 Division Ave SE
  17. Motion Carried (8-0 ) -Young absent -
  18.                                                                                      
    Motion by Benoit, supported by Jones, to set a public hearing date of August 11, 2015 for: Case # 25-15 – FedCom Credit Union- Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for a Freestanding Financial Institution with a drive through Located at 4429 Breton Ave SE
  19. Motion Carried (8-0) –Young absent -
  20. Other Business
     
  21. Commissioners’ Comments
     
    Jones mentioned the passing of former commissioner Ed Swanson and sent her condolence. She stated he was a great member of the commission and she learned a lot from him.
     
    Holtrop questioned the portable sign GR Auto Gallery has on Broadmoor for leasing space. Schweitzer stated staff will look into it.
     
    Pemberton asked how Biggby is doing with their sign request. Schweitzer stated they had 30 day sign allowance for a portable sign and they didn’t use that. VanderHoff stated he didn’t know where Biggby was he couldn’t find them. Golder stated he has talked to Nick Nicola and she thinks he is waiting for any amendments to the sign ordinance.
     
    Benoit stated Kentwood is open for business, but he has a problem with granting exceptions. If we are going to be open for business and 300 square foot signs are what people need then we need to look at changing the ordinance if it needs to be changed. Pemberton stated that is where is he was coming from too it shouldn’t be our problem they have a marketing issues.
     
  22. Staff’s Comments
     
    Schweitzer stated the next steps involves staff development of a draft Form based code based upon the committee work that was done this past year. The draft will go through a joint planning commission/city commission review before it is put before the planning commission for review and recommendation to the City Commission.
     
  23. Adjournment
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Benoit,  to adjourn the meeting.
    Motion Carried (8-0) – Young absent -
  24. Meeting adjourned at 8:30p.m.
     
                                                                Respectfully submitted,
     
                                                            Ed Kape, Secretary