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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
JUNE 9, 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 VanderHoff.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Bill Benoit, Dan Holtrop, Ed Kape, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff, and Johngerlyn Young
    Members Absent: Emily Bridson, Garrett Fox (with notification) and Sandra Jones,
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Planner Joe Pung, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the applicants and about 6 residents.
     
    Motion by Kape, supported by VanderHoff, to excuse Bridson, Fox and Jones from the meeting.
  4. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  5. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
  6. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
     
    Schweitzer stated on Total Health Chiropractic sign request on the basis it should reference Section 12.07.D
     
    Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Pemberton, to approve the Minutes of May 26, 2015 and the Findings of Fact for:  Total Health Chiropractic and Sheldon Cleaners Sign Waivers with change noted.
     
  7. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  8. Bridson, Fox and Jones
  9. Approval of the Agenda
     
    Motion by Commissioner Benoit, supported by Commissioner Kape, to approve the agenda for the June 9, 2015 meeting.
  10. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  11. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
  12. Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
  13. Old Business
    Case#19-15 – Lowes – Major Change to a Site Plan Expansion of Outside Display and Storage Located at 3330 28th Street SE
     
    Planner Golder stated the request was tabled while the applicant worked through issues with staff and the fire department. Golder stated Lowes is looking to increase their outside display. Golder stated the applicant submitted a plan dated June 4 as follows:
                Front of building (North) Storage from March 1st to October 31st.
  14. All storage limited to 12' in height.
  15. Fire lane established along front of building where drive aisle is. Marked with signage and signs moved back to the building in off season (winter). Golder stated the applicant did indicate that in the winter in order to accommodate snow removal that they would move those signs back and the fire lane would be up against the building and that is fine with the Fire Department.
  16. Plants can be displayed on concrete area near garden center on west side of building.
  17. 15' from the building allowed for displayed merchandise—i.e. mowers
  18. Grill displays will come out to edge of loading zone in area noted on site plan dated June 4, 2015.
  19. Designated loading zone for customers in front of exit doors.
  20. East of loading zone allow seasonal storage and wider entry to contractor pick up area. Golder stated all of this will be marked on the pavement so you can see where loading is when people have bought their merchandise and need to pick up.
  21. To the west of loading zone near entry will be marked "No Parking" on asphalt to allow for customer return of large items.
  22. Display area of product by the Pro canopy will be reduced to under canopy only, during off season. Otherwise display will be limited to 15' from the building.
  23. The island at the front of the canopy there will be no display with the exception of the swing set.
    West side of building-storage and unloading.
  24. All storage limited to 12' in height.
  25. Storage shall not extend more than 12' from the west side of building.
  26. 20' fire lane will be directly adjacent to storage area. Fire lane shall be marked. One area for unloading of a single truck shall be noted on the plan. Truck drivers shall remain with the truck in the event the truck needs to be relocated during the unloading process. Golder stated if other trucks are waiting to get in they will have to stage elsewhere. Golder stated as she visited the site before the meeting, she noticed a truck sitting in the fire lane that had no driver. She stated we want to make sure this doesn’t happen. She stated Lowe’s can get ticketed for that from the fire department.
    Southwest parking area:
  27. Storage in the lot Southwest of the building shall be permitted and must provide screening. Landscape screening is proposed to improve the view from 29th Street, from other drive aisles and from neighboring properties.
     
  28. Arrangements are currently being made to increase the frequency of pickups for cardboard bales, vender plant racks, pallet trailer and appliance trailer. Goal is to achieve weekly pickups.
    Back of building (South) - Storage
  29. All storage limited to 12' in height.
  30. 12' from the wall storage along back side of building
  31. Maintain fire lane on curb and re paint fire lane. Golder stated the Fire lane will be marked and it will be red.
  32. Two semi-trailers will be used for storage on south curb out of fire lane. One of these will go to the southwest parking lot during the winter due to snow removal restrictions.
  33. Delivery trucks will be parked in the front parking lot when not at the dock door or in use. Exception: When temperature drops below freezing trucks will need to be against back of building so they can have engine block heaters plugged in. During that time period there will be very little on the back side of the building so the trucks will not be in front of product. The area that the trucks are kept will be clear.
    East side of building
  34. 20' fire lane on east side of building.
     
    Golder stated she is recommending conditional approval of the Major Change Special Land Use Open Air Business for Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse consistent with the June 4 description as described in her memo. Golder stated she is also recommending conditional approval of the site plan dated June 4, 2015 for Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse as described in her memo.
     
    Holtrop re-opened the public hearing.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton to close the public hearing.
     
  35. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  36. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
    Kape stated his concern is with the trucks. He stated it doesn’t seem we can get compliance with Lowe’s and he is afraid if we approve this request, a month down the road there will be 3-4 trucks illegally parked again.
     
    Benoit stated he has some of the same concerns as Kape. He questioned if Lowe’s has a person in charge during the day to tell trucks where to go when they pull up. Wyodck stated the truck drivers report to his receiving department manager and let them know they are there. Benoit suggested writing tickets if Lowe’s doesn’t comply.
     
    Pemberton asked about the south west parking lot Lowe’s is using for storage. He questioned if they need to keep that definition of parking in order to comply with overall parking. Golder stated no they do not they otherwise have enough parking on the balance of the site. Pemberton stated it would be his suggestion that Lowe’s clean off those island and make it a true storage area. He stated this may help with some of the trailer/truck problems that they have too.
     
    VanderHoff stated he will vote for the request but he has questions and concerns only because of past experience with Lowe’s. VanderHoff asked the applicant whether they have any problems living with the conditions/recommendations. Wydock stated they will be able to abide by the conditions/recommendations.
     
    Holtrop stated he had the same idea as Pemberton on the southwest corner of Lowe’s site. Holtrop stated he would be in favor of screening. Golder stated Lowes was looking at a chainlink fence with an opaque wind screen through it and she feels it will look massive. She stated one of her concerns is a lot of garbage accumulating. Holtrop stated he would like to see something more shielding and more greenery around it. Golder asked if the commissioners had a preference for the type of screening. Holtrop stated there was a storage facility approved on 36th Street and they put up a black mesh and he would be in favor of that. Holtrop questioned if there needed to be a space between the store and the grills along the building front because that is quite a gap and the grills spill out further. Wydock stated what they try to do is a straight line at the front. Holtrop suggested keeping the grills back as far as they can.
     
    Holtrop suggested adding under major change  special land use open air condition 4 staff approval of landscaping plan to include fenced storage within the south west parking lot not to exceed 8 feet in height as well as landscape screening and the same thing on the site plan review condition 3.
     
    Motion by Kape, supported by VanderHoff, to grant conditional approval of the Major Change Special Land Use Open Air Business for Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse as described in Case No. 19-15.  Approval is conditioned on conditions 1-5 and basis points 1 –5 as described in Golder’s memo dated June 4, 2015. Adding to condition 4 to include fenced storage within the southwest parking lot not to exceed 8 feet in height as well as landscape screening.
  37. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  38. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
    Motion by Kape, supported by VanderHoff, to grant  conditional approval of the site plan dated June 4, 2015 for Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse as described in Case No. 19-15.  Approval is conditioned on conditions 1-4 and basis points 1-3 as described in Golder’s memo dated June 4, 2015. Adding to condition 3 to include fenced storage within the southwest parking lot not to exceed 8 feet in height as well as landscape screening.
     
  39. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  40. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
  41. Public Hearing
     
    Case#20-15 – Heritage Pointe South- Final Site Plan Review of a PUD Phase Located at 2144 East Paris Ave. SE
     
    Golder stated the request is for final approval for a phase of the Heritage Point South PUD. She stated preliminary approval for the overall plan was received in 2013. She stated the PUD phase involves the development of a 41,800 square foot building and is generally consistent with the Preliminary PUD plan.  She stated one difference is the gathering area has been moved to the north because the Engineers needed a maintenance access in the original location to the south.
     
    Golder stated one of the issues that was discussed were sidewalks. She stated there was concern because this is a medical building and people going into the back doors. She stated they put sidewalk on part going up to the door area. She stated the elevations will be subject to staff approval and a lighting and landscape plan.
     
    Golder stated the recommendation is for conditional approval of the site plan dated 5/27/15 as stated in her memo.
     
    Holtrop opened the public hearing.
     
    Stan Gundry, 4142 Burton SE was present. He stated he owns about 5 acres. He stated about 62% of their back property line is shared with the back property line of Heritage Pointe that parallels East Paris. He stated they have lived there for 35 years and their son lives next door. His main concerns are with the landscaping. He stated he would like to see sufficient screening. He stated he would like all spruce trees for the screening year round. He stated at the south end there are no trees at all he would like that the trees extend all the way to the property line. He stated in the placement of the trees he’d like to see them staggered so that when one grows and fills in the area it would make more of a barrier.
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton, to close the public hearing.
     
  42. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  43. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
    VanderHoff asked if the applicant had a problem with making the trees all spruce and stagger them so they make a barrier. Stalsonburg stated they can work with that. VanderHoff suggested to Mr. Gundry to plant trees on his property; he thinks it is an unreasonable request to ask to have the applicant extend the line of trees to the property line because it is not blocking the building. He stated he would think we can make the proposal to have all the trees spruce trees which would give him the blockage he is looking for.
     
    Pemberton stated elevation comes into plan when we discuss trees. Some of the trees will go down into the wetlands and thus they will be shorter until they grow. He stated he would be in favor of changing them to all spruce along the back of the building and maybe a few more could be added to the south to create some sort of barrier but he is not in favor of creating a total screen to the south.
     
    Stalsonburg stated they previously did some line of sight studies and there are some existing large trees along the property line very unlikely to be taken down. He stated the study was gauged from a person standing on the deck and looking in the direction of Heritage Pointe building. He stated if you are looking at the top canopy tree you will never see the building. Stalsonburg stated they are deciduous trees and they will work with Mr. Gundry on the landscape plan. He stated from the deck to the proposed Heritage Pointe building will be 630 feet. 
     
    Benoit stated he feels Mr. Gundry should be able to enjoy his backyard. He stated we need to do our best to help screen some of the neighbors. He stated he also has concern with some of the topography, as you go to the south there is another retaining wall proposed and then there is a very large easement for drainage or detention. He stated he doesn’t know how well trees will do in there. He doesn’t know how many trees you will be able to get in there with the topography.
     
    Holtrop stated they need to find a compromise between the neighbors and the developer a lot of spruce type trees would be helpful. He stated he would encourage some trees to the south as much as possible so the Gundry’s can enjoy and there will be some type of blockage/screening of their backyard. He stated he did notice at the very southern end there is a stand of trees that will be screening the building to the south. Holtrop questioned condition 6 specifying that. The applicant shall post a performance guarantee, consistent with all legal requirements for a period of five years, in an amount adequate to allow the connection of the ingress-egress driveway to the south if it is required by staff. Golder stated when the initial site plan was approved, the there was concern that we don’t want another driveway onto East Paris. There are two parcels south, a house and an undeveloped parcel so the idea was if we can connect another driveway to the southern driveway there will be one less driveway on East Paris. If they develop in the 5 year period First Companies will be required to redirect that existing driveway. 
     
    Motion by Benoit, supported by Kape, to grant conditional approval of the site plan dated 5/27/15 for Heritage Pointe South as described in Case No. 20-15.  Approval is conditioned on conditions 1-6 and basis point 1-4
  44. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  45. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
    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
    Pung stated the request is to rezone 1.44 acres which consists of two parcels from R1-C to C4. He stated the property has been zoned for single family residential development since at least 1976. The Master Plan recommendation is for office development for these parcels. He stated on (3855 Burton) there is a single family residence which was constructed in 1949 and at 3875 Burton there is an existing dental clinic where special land use and site plan approval was received from the planning commission in 1996 and also constructed in 1996. He stated to the north is Church of the Servant. Pung stated the request is consistent with the guidelines for rezoning.
     
    Planner Pung stated he is recommending to the City Commission approval of the request to rezone of 1.44 acres of land from R1-C single family residential to C4 office with basis points 1-8 as stated in his memo.
     
    Holtrop opened the public hearing.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton, to close the public hearing.
     
  46. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  47. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent –
     
    The commissioner were fine with the request and offered no additional comments.
     
    Motion by Pemberton, supported by VanderHoff, to recommend to the City Commission approval of the request to rezone of 1.44 acres of land from R1-C single family residential to C4 office as described in Case 21-15. Approval is conditioned upon basis points 1-8 as stated in Pung’s memo dated 6/1/15.
  48. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  49. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
  50. Work Session
     
    There were no work session
     
  51. New Business
     
    There was no new business
     
  52. Other Business
     
  53. Bretwood Center Sign Waiver
     
    Golder stated the sign request is from the Bretwood Center. She stated they have two signs; one is an off premise sign in which they received a variance from the zoning board of appeals that is 57 square feet in area; and the other sign is on Breton which is 100 square feet in area. She stated the Bretwood Center is looking at bigger signage. She stated she is not exactly clear on the legality of increasing the sign on 44th Street since it was obtained by a variance. But they are looking to increase the sign to as large as 173 square feet.
     
    Nick Nicola, one of the owners of Bretwood Center stated they have owned the Bretwood property since 1999. He stated they have a visibility issue that is a problem. They have almost 400 feet of frontage yet it is hard to see the building. He stated they are maxed out on the signage but if you carry out what is allowed per foot and if you take away the maximum they could be 300-400 feet. He doesn’t really know what it will do for them, but they feel it would help them. He stated on the upper part of the proposed sign there are larger portions that go from left to right and on the bottom part those spaces are for the businesses who lease who don’t require much visibility on the sign because they are a destination. He stated they are asking for help. He doesn’t think it will look a lot different than the signs that are currently there now. It will be a little bigger, wider and taller but the area is so vast that they believe it will be pleasing to the eye.
     
    VanderHoff questioned the square footage on the current signs. Nicola stated 100 square feet on Breton and 57 square feet on 44th Street. Vanderhoff asked the square footage on the proposed signs. Nicola stated about 16 feet tall and 10 feet wide. VanderHoff questioned if he would have more names. Nicola stated that would have the same, however the portion on the top would be for Biggby. He stated Biggby is having problems with visibility and are going backwards in sales. They would have the top sections of the proposed sign. VanderHof questioned the maximum size our ordinance allows. Golder stated 100 square feet. VanderHoff asked what we need to do to get the sign to 173 square feet. Schweitzer stated we haven’t done beyond 100 square feet in signage. Those that have exceeded 100 square foot have been replaced and brought into conformance.
     
    Schweitzer suggested to the planning commissioners to deliberate but not take action. Schweitzer stated we want to look at this request on a more comprehensive basis because this has implications as we look elsewhere in the community. Discussion ensued about other PUD’s in Kentwood and electronic message centers. Schweitzer stated electronic message center may be an option.
     
    VanderHoff stated it is tough enough being in business but it is a little easier if people can find your business and know you’re there. VanderHoff questioned if there is any problem with putting 2 (100) square foot signs on Breton; one on the north end of the mall and one at the south side. VanderHoff stated he wouldn’t have a problem with that.
     
    Schweitzer stated the office building on the corner may be going into foreclosure and if that takes place that may change the dynamics of that property. Schweitzer stated maybe there is a chance to look at how the PUD has been developed and look at a different approach that would promote it more as a retail center at the corner. Discussion ensued.
     
    Nicola stated they have an extraordinary and unique situation. They need visibility and they need exposure. They need to keep the City thriving around the intersection. They need to keep moving forward.
     
    Pemberton stated that is a busy intersection and you really have to pay attention when you’re driving to know what is going on. Pemberton stated he finds very little time to look at a sign of any kind. He stated even the signs that are there now it is hard to tell who is in there.  Pemberton stated he likes the idea of an electronic reader that will make it more noticeable and make more sense. The situation is unique but he feels it is also a marketing issue. Discussion ensued. He stated he would be more inclined to stick with the 2 (100) square foot signs and make the signs a little less cluttered.
     
    Young stated she agrees with the electronic sign. She also suggested marketing and social media to be something that would drive the business.
     
    Benoit stated he doesn’t know if there is anything significant enough at the Bretwood center to not set a precedence. He stated he thinks there can be some reconfiguration. He suggested to take the portion of the sign that says Bretwood Center and make it Biggby.
     
    Kape stated the only thing that keeps sticking in his mind is former Mayor Root’s motto, “we’re open for business.” He stated he thinks we have to do something to help.
     
    VanderHoff asked what the problem would be to take  Bretwood Center down and replace it with Biggby. Nicola stated if they do that then it will look like they are playing favorites.
     
    Discussion ensued regarding getting creative on the signage.
     
    Holtrop stated he prefers no decision at this time and given the concern regarding the potential of setting a precedence, a PUD gives some wiggle room, but we will need more information from staff. Holtrop asked what we can do to help now as far as temporary signage. Schweitzer stated there is allowance for portable signage limited to 32 square foot for a 30 day period per year.
     
    VanderHoff asked if the 57 square foot sign going to 100 square feet will solve the problem. 3 feet higher. Nicola stated he thinks it would however, he is open to suggestions. Golder stated part of the problem is we don’t allow off premise signs anymore and we don’t know what authority will allow to make it bigger because it is a non-conforming sign right now. Golder stated an off premise sign is considered a billboard.
     
    Mike Barker, Owner of Biggby, stated with respect to marketing they do well. He stated they have an 18% discount and 1 out of 5 coffees is free at the Breton location. He stated their labor cost are running them between 40-60% of sales. He stated their other stores are holding up this store. He stated the traffic count enticed him when leasing this property, but they have places that have ½ the count that Breton does. He stated this is 25% of their normal sales at that store. He stated the problem with this store is nobody knows they are there. He questioned having a trailer with Biggby on it in the parking lot. Schweitzer suggested an allowance for a portable sign display on Breton and 44th and come back in 30 days to see their options. However, he clarified that the ultimate decision rests with the City Commission so it would not provide Pemberton suggested a temporary refacing of the 57 square foot sign along 44th Street deviated exclusively to Biggby’s. He recognized that the landlord may need to seek buy-in from the other tenants.
     
  54. Commissioners’ Comments
     
    Kape wished Fox good luck in his upcoming wedding.
     
    Young stated her 20 year anniversary is tomorrow.
     
    VanderHoff asked the commissioners to pray for Ed Swanson and to support him.
     
    VanderHoff stated he agrees we have to do what we can to grow business and have them successful.
     
    Holtrop stated he received a call from a neighbor from the Madison Missionary Baptist church stating they were pleased with our deliberations with homework, visiting sites etc.
     
    Benoit stated it will be his 31st anniversary June 30
     
  55. Staff’s Comments
     
    Golder stated the Farmers Market starts Saturday  June 13 9am-1pm.
     
    Schweitzer stated we will cancel our June 23 planning commission meeting and have the special joint planning/city commission meeting on June 30.
     
    Collier told commissioners they will get their checks June 18 and encouraged them to cash them right away.
     
  56. Adjournment
     
    Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Pemberton,                           to adjourn the meeting.
     
  57. Motion Carried (6-0) –
  58. Bridson, Fox and Jones absent -
     
    Meeting adjourned at 9:15p.m
     
     
                                                                Respectfully submitted,
     
                                                                Ed Kape, Secretary