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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
May 12, 2015, 7:30 P.M.
COMMISSION CHAMBERS
 (return  to index)
 
  1. Chair Young called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
     
  2. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Commissioner Kape.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Bill Benoit, Emily Bridson, Garrett Fox, Dan Holtrop, Ed Kape, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff,  and Johngerlyn Young
    Members Absent: Sandra Jones (with notification)
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the press and the applicant.
     
    Motion by Fox, supported by Pemberton, to excuse Jones from the meeting.
     
          Motion Carried (8-0)-
         Jones absent -

     4.  Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact

 
Motion by Commissioner Pemberton, supported by Commissioner Holtrop, to approve the Minutes of April 28, 2015 and the Findings of Fact for:  Case#12-15 - Guiding Light Recovery – Rezoning of approximately 3.10 acres of land from C2 Commercial to R2 Two Family Residential- Located at 5022 Division Ave SE; Case# 13-15 – Guiding Light Recovery – Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan Review of an Adult Caring Institution Long Term Residential Rehabilitation Recovery Program – Located at 5022 Division Ave SE; Case# 14-15 – Woodbury Center – Preliminary Plat and Final Site Plan Review for a Single Family Subdivision – Located South Side of 44th Street Quaker Hill Dr. Extended; Case#15-15 – Tamarisk Apartments – Rezoning of approximately 5.11 acres of land from C2 Commercial to R4 High Density Residential – Located at 4520 Bowen Blvd SE

     Motion Carried (8-0) –
     Jones absent -

     5.  Approval of the Agenda
 
Schweitzer added under Other Business Form based Code Discussion.
 
Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Kape, to approve the agenda for the May 12, 2015 meeting adding new item Form Based Code Discussion.

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Jones absent -

     6.  Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
 
There was no public comment

     7.  Old Business
 
There was no Old Business

     8.  Public Hearing
 
There were no Public Hearings.

     9.  Work Session
 
Case#19-15 – Lowes – Major Change to a Site Plan Expansion of Outside Display and Storage Located at 3330 28th Street SE
Golder introduced the request. She stated the site has been zoned for commercial use since at least the 1970s. She stated the special land use and site plan for the existing development was conditionally approved by the Kentwood Planning Commission in 2000.  She stated when Lowes was first approved, the only area for outdoor display was in the Garden Center that had a wrought iron gate around its perimeter. Golder stated a 2004 request amended the original 2000 special land use approval to allow for approximately 8,450 square feet of additional outdoor display area located outside of the existing Garden Center.
Golder stated within the last several years, Lowes has requested approval of yearly short term open air business sales that allow for additional storage on the north side of the building, use of triangular parking area on the southwest side of the site, and storage on the south side of the building. She stated the current request is an attempt to get permanent approval for the additional storage used in the yearly short term open air business request.
Golder stated the applicant wishes to increase open air display and outside storage for the Lowes site beyond the currently approved display/storage. Specifically, Lowes is asking to:
*display product on the north side (front) of the building from February through October
*store materials within the triangular parking lot on the southwest side of site. The parking area    would be fenced with an 8' high black chain link fence with windscreen to screen product. Stacks of product would be limited to 6 feet.
*Storage on south side of the building, 10' from the building and not exceeding 12' in height.
*Continued storage along the west side of building (approved in 2004, 12' in width) and a 15' loading area for trucks adjacent to the storage that would be designated on pavement for loading.
*Display on either side of the lumber pick-up area on the northeast side of the building.
Golder stated they currently are exceeding what they are asking for right now. She stated the current storage on the north side of the site exceeds the request the applicant is making for storage. Golder stated photos show that grills and riding mowers are being displayed in the customer loading area; while the application suggests a more limited display. Golder stated she would ask the applicant to let us know what they really want to do or to increase their request so we can look at exactly what is going to actually happen on the site.  
Golder stated the applicant's written request asks for 10' of display along the west side of the building. She stated more display is currently in place along the west side of the building; possibly as much as 20 feet. Golder stated the increased width of the display takes away space from the drive aisles and the proposed loading area. Golder stated the applicant is also storing product currently behind the building as well as on the east side of the building, within the parking area adjacent to the detention pond. She stated no storage is proposed in this area in the application.
Golder stated Lowe’s is asking for an 8’ fence, but our ordinance only allows for 6’. They will have to decrease the size but they will have a windscreen on the fence. Golder stated there are setback requirements for that fence too it is too close to the rear property line. She stated the trucks will not be able to maneuver, and if this is the case Lowe’s will have to show us how trucks are going to maneuver and have access.
Golder stated Lowe’s is asking for loading and storage against the wall. She stated Lowe’s is saying it will be 12 feet wide; then an unloading area; and then for trucks; and then two way traffic. She stated this seems tight especially when the storage items are already encroaching upon the truck area. Golder stated she was on the site when two trucks were unloading and cars were trying to get through and it was very tight. Golder stated it seems like it would be enough area if they stay with the dimensions they are requesting and as long as there are no trucks that stay for long periods of time.
Golder stated she thinks it will be helpful to know if this request were approved will there be other temporary open air business requests made.
Megan Williams, Assistant Store Manager/Administration was present to answer questions.
Kape asked for clarification in the front of the building where they have grills and lawn mowers how much more it is than what Lowe’s is requesting more than what Lowe’s is requesting. Golder indicated what they are showing on the plan is limited to the concrete. Golder stated that might not be a problem and it still may leave sufficient area for loading. Golder encouraged the commissioners to go out to Lowe’s and look to see how they feel about the remaining loading area they are encroaching upon. Golder stated if the commissioners want them to pull their storage back to the concrete then that would be part of the recommendation. Kape stated in one of the photos that was received in the packet there were a lot of items piled up already and they are asking to put more out there and it looks like they have too much already. Williams stated yes they do have a lot out there now. Williams stated the photo that is in the commissioners packet; they had a woman pass out and drive through the grass and into that area and they were required not to move.  She stated the cardboard bales stay for about 2-3 weeks, that is why they want to put up the windscreen so it won’t look as bad. Williams stated the empty racks get picked up on a weekly basis and they come and go sometimes they have more, sometimes they have less depending on the plant sales.
Pemberton stated his concern is staying within the boundaries. He stated we are extending what is already approved. He questioned what will keep them contained. He stated that is his biggest concern, to stay within the boundaries. He stated perhaps the boundaries need to be marked in some way. Pemberton stated in the front of the building his only concern is where the canopy is, will there be display for things year round or seasonal? Williams stated year round. She stated right now they have a swingset display and that stays year round. It is built by their vendor and it stays there. Williams stated as far as the other products they are seasonal, underneath the canopy those items stay all year round. Pemebrton stated his concern is the clutter. Pemberton stated to get around the island is sometimes challenging with people coming in and cutting the corner and if it is stacked up with too many things you can’t see around. He stated up front where the passage of cars is very tight. He suggested whatever they have stored to have it low enough so people can see over it.
Benoit stated the front of the building is sales but the back of the building is just storage. He stated he has a concern about the aesthetics. He stated what he saw along the back was very neatly stacked but the product in the parking lot was not. Benoit stated if they screen it will help take care of the view. He stated he has no problem with the items in the front.
Holtrop questioned where is the unloading, loading and is there a loading dock. Williams stated she has 3 loading docks. The middle one is always used for the distribution center and there is always has a truck in there whether it is empty or full and the other truckwells are used by Lowe’s delivery and also the day to day deliveries that come in and out. Holtrop questioned the deliveries on the west side of the building if there is sufficient room to store and have deliveries. Williams stated that will be the flatbed delivery area including the flower trays/racks. Williams stated that side of the building receives more seasonal product. Holtrop stated in the southwest corner he concurs that screening would be great. Golder stated she would like to see a truck radius portrayed and she would like to see an example of what they are referring to with respect to the screening. Holtrop stated if they continue with storage in that area it has to be cleaned up and screened nicely.
VanderHoff stated he would like for Lowe’s to come in and let the commissioners know what they would really want to do on the property and then stick with it once it is approved.
Fox stated he agrees with VanderHoff. Fox stated with respect to fencing and partially closing in an area, he has a concern with snow removal. Fox stated in the wood loading area the island is really tight to navigate. Fox stated we have had the issue of stacking height of items for display. Fox stated over the years this issue hasn’t been solved and he would like to get to a point of resolution. Fox stated as far as the front of the store he doesn’t have a problem with it. He stated he has thought for a long time that Lowe’s needed some additional loading areas for customers. He would agree that with the space that is proposed it does become snug on the busy days. He thinks a secondary location would be good for that but the navigation becomes a concern. Williams stated she will have to get the specifics of measurements from her team. She stated she likes the idea of marking the lines on the pavement so that her staff also will know where things go. Williams stated they do it in the front where the grills are and she agrees and thinks this way she can keep it very organized.  Fox questioned if they are looking at structural improvements. Williams stated not that she is aware of.
Bridson stated on the north west corner she agrees that it is snug and there was not much room there. She questioned if this will have any bearing on fire department regulations. Williams stated she walked with the Fire Chief about a month ago and he gave her some things to address; the only thing on the outside he wanted an FDC sign on a door and she has on order.

     10.  New Business
 
Motion by Holtrop, supported by VanderHoff, to set a public hearing date of June 9, 2015, for:  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

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Jones absent -
 

     11.  Other Business

Discussion on Sidewalk Resolution
 
Golder stated the City has a resolution from 1978 specifying when sidewalks are to be installed but it also said that they are going to exclude some of the streets from requiring sidewalk. The reason they were excluded because back in 1978 there were a lot of streets that were not built to final grade. Golder stated now most of our streets are up to final grade therefore we need to update the resolution.
 
Golder stated the zoning ordinance says that the planning commission has to make a recommendation to the city commission as to which streets will be excluded from providing sidewalks because of the final grade issue. Golder stated when looking at the list there are only two streets that aren’t at final grade; Lake Drive and Wing Avenue. She stated those are the only two street that would be excluded from requiring sidewalks. Golder stated this is consistent with the Master Plan.
 
Golder stated also we need commissioners to volunteer to serve on the sidewalk committee to review what streets should we be emphasizing and where we should put sidewalks where they don’t currently exists. 
 
Golder stated in the short term we need to get a planning commission recommendation to the city commission for the two streets to be excluded. Then the second part would be to reinvigorate the sidewalk committee to look at where the sidewalks should be placed, how we are going to pay for them and make that part of the non-motorized plan.
 
Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton, to exclude Wing Avenue and Lake Drive from the sidewalk resolution, the Wing Avenue exclusion since the street is not yet at final grade and the Lake Drive exclusion since it is a natural beauty road.

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Jones absent –
 
Benoit stated he has a problem with looking at some of these missing sidewalk segments then going back and doing a special assessment district. Golder stated in Grand Rapids to update their sidewalks their policy for awhile was when you sell your house the sidewalk has to be upgraded with the proceeds of the sale. Golder stated there may be other ways to do this. She stated this will be a recommendation to the City Commission and prioritization of what is most important. Discussion ensued. Golder stated it was a commitment in the 2012 Master Plan to improve and make non-motorized trails and sidewalks a priority in the City.
 
Vanderhoff stated his feeling is that if a neighborhood in Kentwood that hasn’t had a sidewalk, we shouldn’t go out of our way to put new sidewalks in. He stated he thinks it is a different situation when you have a developer constructing a new development, then at that point require sidewalks. Golder stated there are handicap and elderly people who may need access and going in the road might be a problem. 
 
Golder stated this decision does not have to be decided now, but sidewalk committee should take a look at this.
 
Pemberton stated he would like to get the citizens input. Discussion ensued regarding surveys and how to go about getting public feedback. Golder stated this extends to the commercial community too.
 
Bridson stated she thinks accessibility is really important and we should prioritize and see if we should be looking into grants and a millage etc.
 
Benoit, Bridson and Kape, stated they will serve on the sidewalk committee

Form Based Code
 
Golder presented a slideshow. Golder stated the whole City is not going to be form based code, however we are looking at Division Avenue because of the bus rapid transit service and the opportunities for redevelopment.
 
Golder stated the form based code is envisioned to be the tool to make the Division Avenue Corridor walkable, the sidewalks widened and the buildings moved up closer to the street. Golder stated under form based code you loosen up on the uses and tighten up on the design. She stated we are getting close to the point where we need to let the Division Avenues businesses know how we propose to introduce form based code in the Division Avenue corridor and get some input and soon adopt a code. She stated Wyoming will adopt their code in the summer and Kentwood thereafter.
 
Schweitzer stated Division Ave is zoned Commercial retail along the frontage and what was recommended in the Master Plan is to take a look at mixed use so it is not just commercial along the frontage, but commercial, residential or a combination of both within the same building or on the same property.
 
Discussion ensued.

     12.  Commissioners’ Comments
 
Commissioners offered no additional comments

     13.  Staff’s Comments
 
Staff offered no additional comments

     14.  Adjournment
 
Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner  Fox,                           to adjourn the meeting.

          Motion Carried (8-0)
          Jones absent -

Meeting adjourned at 8:45p.m.
 
 
                                                            Respectfully submitted,
 
                                                            Ed Kape, Secretary