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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
MAY 24, 2016, 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 Bridson.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Bill Benoit, Emily Bridson, Dan Holtrop, Sandra Jones (arrived late), Ed Kape, Mike Pemberton
    Members Absent: Garrett Fox Frank Vander Hoff, and Johngerlyn Young (absent with notification)
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Planner Joe Pung, Staff Secretary Monique Collier and the applicants
     
    Motion by Kape, supported by Benoit, to excuse Fox, Jones, VanderHoff and Young from the meeting.
  4. Motion Carried (5-0) –
  5. Fox, Jones, VanderHoff, Young absent -
     
  6. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
     
    Motion by Commissioner Benoit, supported by Commissioner Kape to approve the Minutes of  April 26, 2016 and the Findings of Fact for: Case #6-16XYZ Motors LLC – Special Land Use and Site Plan Review for Indoor Vehicle Sales Located at 4159 40th Street Suite 104
  7. Motion Carried (5-0) –
  8. Fox, Jones, VanderHoff, Young absent -
  9. Approval of the Agenda
     
    Motion by Commissioner Pemberton, supported by Commissioner Benoit,                               to approve the agenda for the May 24, 2016 meeting.
     
  10. Motion Carried (5-0) –
  11. Fox, Jones, VanderHoff, 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
     
    There were no work sessions
     
  16. New Business
     
    There was no New Business
     
  17. Other Business
     
  18. GR Auto Gallery Discussion
     
    Pung stated in March 2015 the planning commission conditionally approved the special land use and site plan review for indoor vehicle sales at 4722 50th Street. The zoning board of appeals (ZBA) had subsequently approved a variance to permit indoor storage in excess of 5,000 square feet. One of the use restrictions is no storage in excess of 5,000 square feet. The applicant appeared before the ZBA and were approved to exceed the 5,000 square feet and that included the existing 28,000 square foot building along with a future 6,000 square foot addition.
     
    Pung stated with indoor vehicle sales in the industrial district there are several restrictions. All activity has to occur within the enclosed building and that there is no open air display or storage of inventory allowed.
     
    Pung stated in January 2016 staff was notified of outdoor storage display violations on the property. January 14, 2016 staff inspected the property and verified the violations and at that time met with the owner and reviewed the restrictions for the special land use. In April 2016 staff was notified again that vehicles were being stored outdoors. Staff inspected the site on April 29 verified the violation and spoke with the owner. The owner indicated that at times when storage is at capacity, there may be vehicles outside waiting to be prepped and/or photographed or there may be after hour deliveries which are processed the next day. The applicant indicated that at no time are any of the vehicles outside displayed for sale.
     
    Pung stated the owner is seeking the planning commission’s consideration that the normal in and out of vehicles throughout the day would be considered a normal part of the operation and not a violation of the restrictions with respect to outdoor activities or the outdoor display for storage of inventory.
     
    Pung stated he has given the commissioners two memos, the first one lays out everything and then the addendum indicates that there is the allowance of a 6,000 square foot addition which would allow for more indoor storage space and display area which may alleviate the need to have any vehicles outdoors; also addition photos of the site were included.
    Chris Hoexsum was present. He stated when GR Auto Gallery was approved they received a variance of their 6,000 square foot expansion that they did put on before they moved in. He stated when they were located on Model Ct they had just over 19,000 square feet  they didn’t realize how big of a business this truly was going to be. When they moved not only did they increase their business substantially because of their new location and different marketing that they were doing, but also in September/October it’s the height of their season getting cars in on consignment. This is when they have a significant influx of vehicles for their business. They store cars for the winter months and their sales stay pretty consistent throughout the year. They don’t see a significant dip in the winter months but their consignment inflow takes a little bit of a hit because of the weather. It is routine they get a lot of cars during September, October and partially November and then March/April they have significant room inside their facility.  
     
    Hoexsum stated after Schweitzer stopped by in November of last year, they did have a few cars outside they didn’t have enough room to put them inside. He stated their goal is to never have a car outside because of the type of vehicles that they sell. He stated they try to make their cars as indiscreet as possible they don’t put them on the lawn, use balloons etc. and they don’t advertise that the cars are for sale. Discussion ensued.
     
    Hoexsum stated after he spoke to Schweitzer he asked their neighbor across the street if they could store some of their cars because they have open warehouse space. They were able to store about 15-20 cars from mid December-March of this year and rotate them out when they sold and when they had more room in their building. He stated they have done everything possible, they just didn’t realize the influx of their business. Discussion ensued.
     
    Hoexsum stated they sometimes have customers that come to test drive a car and/or would like to see the car outside in a different light as opposed to their indoor warehouse lighting. He stated they do have shippers that drop off cars. They try to coordinate it during business hours as much as possible and they have a dedicated person that all he focuses on is working with the shippers. He stated truck driver’s show up all times of the day or night. He stated they are doing everything possible to keep as many cars inside. He stated over the last couple of weeks there are very minimal car,s if any cars that are outside. He stated the cars that are out there now are either their cars or their employee’s cars. He stated they are also being a good neighbor to their neighbors. He stated The Service Professor a neighboring business who is in the process of repaving their lot, has about 80% of their staff are using GR Auto Galley’s parking lot right now while they are going through the process. Discussion ensued. Hoexsum stated they are looking at numerous options to better accommodate everyone involved if money was no object he would be happy to put the additional 12,000 square feet that the lot is capable to expand but it is a significant amount of money.
     
    Schweitzer stated from a staff perspective there were two options. Staff could write them a citation or have this conversation with the planning commission to see how the business operates and see whether or not it represents a change in the way it was presented back in March 2015.
     
    Benoit stated he doesn’t think the normal business during the day is a problem. He felt it was understood that was going to happen although with a 26,000 square foot building he personally didn’t think there would be a lot going on outside. Benoit questioned staff if he were to have a car dropped off in the middle of the night and processed in the morning would that be a violation. Schweitzer stated if you look at the way it was represented before he didn’t get the impression they were going to have that many vehicles out during the course of the day. Schweitzer stated in part, the consignment facet of GR Auto Gallery is distinctive. Many of the other indoor vehicle sales that we have reviewed and approved in the past they didn’t have any consignment allowances. Schweitzer stated in this case it is part of the business model they described up front.
     
    Schweitzer stated he talked to Hoexum and learned that rather than putting their cars in storage some of his customers would place their cars on indoor display at GR Auto Gallery. They figure if people see it throughout the year maybe they will make an offer to them so they won’t be owning it next year. Schweitzer stated this is a different twist than the internet sales as he recalls from the other applicants that have come forward. Schweitzer stated Hoexsum mentioned not having tags on the cars not for sale. Schweitzer stated he has observed when he has been over there that they do have those tags on the cars. Schweitzer did mention that if somebody were passing by they will not see them from the street. They are just going to see a lot of cars out there. Schweitzer stated in the recent photographs that Pung took there are a lot of cars on the property especially along the east parking lot and generally there are a number of them on the west line, not as much room there. The west line is more of a fire lane than anything else and a loading dock. Hoexsum stated he hasn’t seen the pictures but currently for the last two weeks the Service Professor has been parking their staff vehicles there which equates to 12-13 cars at any given day. Right now there are 3 there because they have a 24/7 call center. Discussion ensued about cars parked out at the parking lot.
     
    Benoit stated he agrees they don’t have cars outside for customers to stop and take a look at. He thinks it’s the storage of the vehicles. If the vehicles had snow on them that is being stored outside and that would be wrong. Benoit stated in the past they were granting a lot of variances for this kind of request and the city commission changed the ordinance to allow for the use but with certain requirements and you have to live within those requirements. He stated he doesn’t think if you are moving a couple of cars around and get one dropped off probably isn’t every night that type of thing wouldn’t get noticed. But it was enough cars for someone to notice. He needs to realize that he has to make it so nobody notices the cars and get a citation. Hoexsum stated they have done a good job on the west side of the building where they have a loading dock. Hoexsum stated if there is a car that they know for whatever reason is going to be outside for longer than a usual period of time they do their best to make it invisible as possible.
     
    Pemberton stated he is happy to see the business growing and in Kentwood. But we have some parameters we need to stay within. If there is a possibility and it sounds to him, just based on their description, that the consignment over the winter time is what pushes him over. He stated perhaps GR Auto Gallery is going to have to put a limit on the consignment because that is taking up the whole operation especially during the winter months. Pemberton stated maybe he does need to look at adding more space to the building. Pemberton stated we approved another entity in another location. He stated if GR Auto Gallery is constantly in violation and they get a feel that is acceptable then there will be a problem in that location too. He stated we can’t do that, otherwise we are out of control. He encouraged GR Auto Gallery to stay within their boundaries, try to clean off the parking lot every night if they can and get the cars off the lot. He stated he understands the movement during the day with cars coming and going on trucks but just try to clean the lot every night and that will help them if others start to violate. Discussion ensued. Hoesxum stated they will let their shop guys know if there is an open spot inside to please make sure they get vehicles inside so the car doesn’t sit outside for long. Discussion ensued.
     
    Kape stated they have a good problem they are successful and growing. However Kape stated the problem has to be addressed.
     
    Bridson questioned what happens to the car that needs repair. Hoexsum stated they don’t do repair onsite, they work with several different auto repair facilities around the city. They will fix it at their location and bring it back to them. They don’t have any service work or body work at their place, just clean up. Bridson asked how many of the deliveries occur outside the 9am-5pm hours. Hoexsum stated a month can go by they get zero deliveries, two days can go by and they get two truckloads full at the same time. He stated they are at the mercy of the truck drivers. Truck drivers have certain hours that they can drive throughout the day. Discussion ensued. Bridson asked, based on the concerns of others, how does he plan to rectify the problem, make it so the cars are not visible. Hoexsum stated they have been in discussion with the builder that did their first expansion to get some idea cost wise what it would take to expand further. The lot can handle another 12,000 square feet and it is close to a ½ million dollar expansion, which is a fair amount of money. Hoexsum stated if they are going to do a second expansion it would be the full 12,000 square feet. He stated they have been making sure they aren’t having cars outside He stated at the end of the day they pull every car inside that they can and in the morning same thing, they are moving cars around to maximize that space. Discussion ensued.
     
    Jones stated we want their business in Kentwood and we value having them here but at the same time we want them to be in compliance with the rules. Hoexsum stated the biggest thing is during business hours and after business hours is their next biggest issue. Discussion ensued. Jones stated she noticed over the past couple of weeks she was seeing the cars after hours and not during business hours but she has noted recently she doesn’t see them there. Hoexsum encouraged the commissioners to stop in and talk to them if they see cars out there and they can explain why the cars are there.
     
    Holtrop stated the concerns are the cars sitting outside; not that he is selling the cars on the lot, just the storage. Holtorp stated the approval that everyone has agreed to is no open air display or storage.   Holtrop stated during the day he thinks the concern is very minimal, the main issue is the overnight. Holtrop questioned staff of the consequences for not adhering now that everything is clear. Schweitzer stated if there is vehicle movement throughout the day that is going to be considered general operations within the boundaries of what has been approved. But it is when we get into the overnight hours. Schweitzer stated when we get into the October, November time period chances are, with the consignment allowances, we could be pushing a limit again. Schweitzer stated we can write them a citation or give them a call and tell them they need to make other arrangements. Pemberton stated with the current space they are going to have to limit the consignment and say we are full until they expand their building. Holtrop stated he just wants  GR Auto Gallery to know that they can get a citation. Schweitzer stated the first violation is $74 dollars the second violation is $130 dollars third violation is $250 dollars and at that point staff can take them before the district court judge or magistrate. Discussion ensued.
     
    Holtrop stated we are happy their business is growing but we have to have no outdoor storage whether it is restriction of numbers or using the neighbors but there is no outdoor storage and the fines and citations will be the next discussion.
     
  19. Holland Home Dumpster
     
    Schweitzer displayed a plan that was approved in 2013 for Holland Home. He stated the dumpster enclosure was located about 60 feet off from the front lot line on 44th Street. Schweitzer stated the ordinance is set up so the accessory dumpster enclosure has to be out of the required front yard. When it was approved back in 2013 it was out of the required front yard by about 30-40 feet.
     
    Schweitzer stated where they are looking to place the dumpster now, we view as a private drive. Therefore they have to have it out of the required front yard on both sides and 40 foot is the requirement and it is within that 40 foot area. Schweitzer stated there is some discretion allowed under our PUD for deviations to put the dumpster into the required yard. Schweitzer stated it appears that things have changed but they have picked up some additional land to the west with the prospect of being able to build a couple more of these facilities. From a staff perspective if the planning commission is included to approve the requested placement we recommend that it be our interim measure pending the approval of the development of similar facility to the west.
     
    Stalsonburg, with Exxel Engineering was present. He stated a couple of years ago there was an amendment to the PUD that included rehabbing the Manor building to the north. That work is done and was completed late last year. He stated at the same time the approval included building B. Building B was never built because Holland Homes policy is they don’t spend money unless they have money. They have raised the money and now are ready to start building B.
     
    Stalsonburg stated Holland Home ended up purchasing the Duthler property which is the 44th street frontage that goes all the way over the to the Walgreens property. He stated they have done a layout with three buildings across that frontage and the next two are sometime in the future when they raise that money. But they are laid out in such a way that the next one is a mirror of this one it just flips. What that does is it put the patio gathering place in a nicely landscaped enclosure that is positioned to overlook the detention pond to the north. The building will be mirrored patio to patio arrangement. Stalsonburg stated what that leaves is the dumpster on the east side and that is the issue. The dumpster is not your normal dumpster. Stalsonsburg displayed building elevations.  He stated the first quarter is the actual dumpster enclosure. The rest of it is an enclosure of the same building materials but that is like a screen wall that hides the transformer and the gas meters the electric meters etc. Stalsonburg stated the walls will be constructed with brick to match the building. It will have on the top row a limestone cap on top of the brick and the front gate is going to be wrought iron looking gate with spindles 3 or 4 inches on center.  Stalsonburg stated this is not your normal dumpster. This is a Holland Home dumpster that they want to have look very nice.
     
    Stalsonsburg stated there is a 60 foot strip of land that is attached to the manor but it is all owned by Holland Home. He asked when you talk about a secondary street side setback is that required when you are up against a driveway or is it interpreted when you have a corner lot that’s on two streets. Schweitzer stated we apply our sideyard requirements if it has a public street frontage or if it is a private drive. Stalsonburg stated as far as the recommendation to relocate the dumpster when they do the second building the dumpster for that will be on the west side of that building. He stated they wouldn’t want to put the dumpster in between because when the buildings face each other that is when all the living units face inward out to that patio they wouldn’t want to put the dumpster there it would have to go on the west side of the next building. Discussion ensued.
     
    Stalsonburg stated the commissioner might question why not just move the building to the west. The problem with that is the PUD line they intend to come back and ask for rezoning from C2 to RPUD but they would like to start the building sooner than later. He stated they have been advised they can build under the previously approved PUD so long as they maintain the 20 foot sideyard to the PUD line. That sets the building where he has it shown and it leaves 23 feet to the private street.
     
    Pemberton stated when they add the new parcel to the PUD that line disappears the line moves west and then that helps you place the next building if you are going to mirror image it so that the courtyards are kind of face to face back there. Then you can minimize the space in between those buildings. The building on the plan is going to be built and he is assuming the parking lot will connect to the next buildings parking lot in front which is why the dumpster will be on the west side. Pemberton questioned how large are these dumpsters and whether it will need a truck to pull in and pick it up and lift it what kind of a unit is this. He stated he is wondering if a truck can make the turn in and maneuver. Stalsonburg stated he doesn’t know the details of what kind of truck has to get in there. Stalsonburg showed how the truck would access the site. Pemberton stated that it is going to be tight. Pemberton stated it is not a huge building he questioned how many residents will be in there. Stalsonburg stated 15 beds. Pemberton stated he doesn’t know what kind of trash that would generate. The only option would be to move it north so that he has more room to make the turn. Pemberton stated his concern is the turn looks tight everything else looks fine.
     
    Jones stated her concern is whether or not this would we be setting a precedence. Schweitzer stated as a deviation, it is built in the ordinance for a PUD to allow for consideration for circumstance and part of the presentation that he wasn’t aware of was the extension of the wall to hide the generator and the other utilities. Schweitzer stated he is not as concerned as he was in the initial recommendation.
     
    Discussion ensued.
     
    Benoit stated he doesn’t think we are setting a precedence. Having the wall incorporated may not be setting a precedence because you’re not just sticking a dumpster enclosure there.
    Holtrop questioned whether with a mirror image, won’t there be an issue on the other side. Stalsonburg stated Holland Home isn’t up against a street further to the west, you have to stay out of the frontyard but the sideyard won’t be an issue. Schweitzer stated there is a preserved nature area on the Walgreens site, you’ve got a built in buffer.  Holtrop asked could we make an exception for them to build the building 3 feet from the PUD line, that would solve the 40 foot issue. But if this were approval were taken, would it help with the other building or impede the other building. Stalsonburg stated that would take a variance and they would have to go to the ZBA. Stalsonburg stated the way they are proposing to do it the commissioners have the authority to do that. Discussion ensued regarding the look at the front gate.
     
    Motion by Kape, supported by Jones, to recommend to the City commission to approve the proposed deviation from the setback requirement.
                                                   
  20. Motion Carried (5-0) –
  21. Fox, Jones, VanderHoff, Young absent
     
    Schweitzer stated we will try to get this on the June 7 city commission meeting and if Stalsonburg can look at the service to the dumpsters as far as the route.
     
    NOTE: Schweitzer was in error under Section 19.03.F.3 the planning commission possess the authority to grant the change.
     
  22. Non-Motorized Facilities Plan
     
    Schweitzer stated in January of 2011 a committee was assembled consisting of a Planning Commissioner, a Parks and Recreation Commissioner and staff from Engineering, Parks and Recreation, Police and Planning who met to discuss the prospect of developing a plan for the development of a system of sidewalks, trails and street facilities to accommodate a variety of non-motorized modes of travel within the community.  In addition, Kent County Road Commission staff attended several meetings given their jurisdiction over city border streets as well as arterial streets within adjacent townships.  In the subsequent year the committee met and devised a draft non-motorized facilities plan that detailed the sidewalk, trails and street facilities that were already in place as well as identified where future facilities could be established.
     
    Schweitzer stated in the past several years the draft plan has been presented to a number of neighborhood groups to raise their awareness of what non-motorized facilities are currently available within as well as solicit feedback. This draft plan is currently posted on the City’s website in order to expand the outreach.  A draft narrative has also been developed to lay out the goals and objectives on which the recommended projects were based.
     
    During the most recent deliberation by the City Commission on the annual programming of federal Community Development Block Grant funding (CDBG) for Kentwood city staff drew upon the draft non-motorized plan to identify prospective projects that the City Commission ultimately approved.   The Planning Commission correctly pointed out that they should play a role in this process.  Schweitzer stated he would like to discuss the draft non-motorized facilities plan and the prospect of working through the Non-Motorized Committee to review the work to date and consider a process to update and formally adopt the plan as a facet of the Kentwood Master Plan.
     
    Schweitzer stated we want to the get the commissioners opinion if they think this is a good idea. He stated we can start the process get the committee together and go from there.
     
    All the commissioners were on board and liked the idea.
     
  23. Form Based Code
     
    Schweitzer stated the first draft is back from the consultant. He stated we are encouraged by what we are seeing. They have the second meeting scheduled with the consultant on June 22 and will keep the commissioners posted as it goes forward.
     
  24. Commissioners’ Comments
     
    Jones asked what is Gourmet International on Patterson and 52nd Pung stated a food distributor.
     
    Jones stated driving by Lowes she noticed several wooden pallets full of product along the back of the building and there is no way a fire truck could get back there. Schweitzer stated the fire department has been concerned with home improvement facilities in the city for many years and staff will work with Lowes and the Fire Department.
     
    Jones stated all the trees that have been planted on 52nd Street look really nice. Jones also stated a grocery store will still be nice at 52nd and Eastern. Schweitzer statd the City was still pursuing a grocer type use in the balance of the center.
     
    Bridson stated she will not be at the next meeting. Bridson had concern about the citations that businesses get and thinks 74 dollars doesn’t seem like enough. Schweitzer stated it is a municipal civil infraction and the schedule of fines is set by the City Commisson.
     
    Kape asked if the senior volunteers could do enforcement on businesses in violation. Schweitzer stated he would prefer the planning staff handle enforcement of that nature.
     
  25. Staff’s Comments
     
    Schweitzer stated we don’t have anything on the agenda June 14 so the meeting will be canceled.
     
  26. Adjournment
     
    Motion by Commissioner Benoit, supported by Commissioner Pemeberton, to adjourn the meeting.
  27. Motion Carried (5-0) –
  28. Fox, Jones, VanderHoff, Young absent -
     
    Meeting adjourned at 9:20p.m.
     
     
                                                                Respectfully submitted,
     
                                                            Ed Kape, Secretary