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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
MAY 26, 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 Fox.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Bill Benoit, Emily Bridson, Garrett Fox, Sandra Jones, Ed Kape, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff,  and Johngerlyn Young
    Members Absent: Dan Holtrop,
    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 Pemberton, to excuse Holtrop from the meeting.
     
          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Holtrop absent -

     4.  Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
 
Motion by Commissioner Benoit, supported by Commissioner VanderHoff, to approve the Minutes of May 12, 2015.       

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Holtrop absent -

     5.  Approval of the Agenda
 
Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Fox, to approve the agenda for the May 26, 2014 meeting.

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Holtrop 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
 
 
Case#19-15 – Lowes – Major Change to a Site Plan Expansion of Outside Display and Storage Located at 3330 28th Street SE
 
Golder stated Lowes is looking to increase their outside display. She stated they submitted a letter indicating that they will only store product within 12 feet of the south wall of the building and within 10 feet of the west wall. They also indicated the desire for a 25’ truck loading zone adjacent to the 10’ storage area along the west side of the building. Also Lowe’s has indicated that there will be no loosely packed materials in the southwest parking lot.
 
Golder stated when she visited the site she measured product currently stored 24’feet from the west wall and 16’feet from the south wall. She also stated that even if the storage area is limited to 10’ feet and 25’feet wide loading zone, that would leave only 15’feet for two-way customer traffic.
 
Golder stated in the 2004 approval for additional outdoor storage the Planning Commission set a height limit of 12’feet for items that are stacked up against the wall; if the items are not stacked against the wall they would be tapered back to height of 8 feet.
 
Golder stated what Lowe’s is requesting in their letter is not reflective of what is currently on the site.
 
Golder stated she spoke to the Fire Marshall and he had a concern with sometimes being parked along the southwest corner of the building  in a manner that would block the passage of fire trucks. Golder pointed out if they have 24’ feet of storage and there is 25’ feet of loading then there is not enough room for two-way traffic. Golder’s stated staff will be meeting with Lowe’s on the site for them to show what they want and review it relative to staff’s expectations. Golder stated that staff will reiterate that the Planning Commission is expecting that whatever is approved will be enforced.
 
Dave Wydock, Store Manager and Mack Crabs, Marketing Director were present. Wydock clarified that the month of May is their busy time of the year. They have more inventory than they do at any other time of the year. He stated they have 4 trucks full of product dropped off on that west side every day during the month of May. He stated typically what happens is that the trucks will drop off the product and Lowes will either bring it inside or they will put it in the proposed storage area in the side lot. He stated it is not always 20 feet out when they are storing the product.  He feels comfortable that they can stay within that 12 feet from the building on the sides that they are requesting. Wydock stated on the west side of the building they get trucks all day long there, they unload and get staged there until Lowe’s has staff to put the product where it needs to go.
 
Kape stated he will wait to see the Fire Marshall and staff’s result when they go out to the facility with Lowes. Kape stated the stacks of cardboard they have out there is very unsightly and could be a hazard. Wyodck stated the process they have in place is when
 
they have enough cardboard compacted to fill a truck they come pick it up. Wydock stated he is looking into trying to work it where they come weekly for pick ups no matter how many bales they have.
Pemberton stated he spends a lot of time at Lowes and he has a hard time seeing how they are going to stay within any boundaries they set. He stated right now Lowes has product everywhere. There is a lot of product out there right now and he is concerned about that. He stated if we grant Lowes additional space we are going to have to see that adhered to and stay within those confines. Wydock stated they want to work with staff/commissioners and come to some kind of solution for the whole situation.
 
Mack Crabs stated he ran a store in Carmel, IN before he came to this store and they had a lot of the same restrictions. He can talk to their corporate office next year and hopefully get more frequent truck deliveries and not house as much inventory on hand. He stated he can be an advocate for that. He stated May is always going to be a tough time for them but any parameters set Lowes can adhere to.
 
Jones stated she has driven by a few times and it is very unsightly on the west side. There are a lot of empty racks and piles of merchandise. She stated on the back side and east side there is no space. When she was there, two trucks were also there and there is no way a fire truck could get through because the trucks were in the way. She stated her other concern is there has been a failure in the past for Lowes to adhere to what they said they were going to do. She stated with their current request, her concern is Lowe’s continuing to store items outside because the City is not out there actively watching them. She stated she doesn’t have any confidence at this point that they won’t continue to do what they have been doing out of necessity and because May is a busy time for them. Wydock stated they are trying to do figure out what Lowes needs and what the commissioners want and what they can actually deliver and make it feasible. Discussion ensued.
 
Benoit suggested to figure out what Lowes needs and make sure it is reasonable and they will have his support.
 
Bridson stated she will be interested in the report back from staff and fire.
 
VanderHoff questioned if their company store adheres to the OSHA limits on how high they can stack items. Wydock stated absolutely.
 
Fox stated he wants to know what Lowes needs and not what they want. He stated he will be happy to provide approval for what they need. He stated that he took Lowe’s comments to mean that every year in the month of May they are going to violate the agreement. Wydock stated part of it is the time they unload the trucks on the side of the building, once they unload the truck will sit for a couple of hours as they are putting it away their inventory. Wydock stated that is why they were talking about the unload zone on the west side of the building to designate that as a temporary staging area. Fox stated
he wants to look at the big picture to accommodate what they need and to make it looks attractive.
Golder stated we want Lowes to tell us what they want but we also have the fire department to satisfy too. She stated they were looking at 12’ feet being the maximum distance off the wall on the south side but if there is 12’ feet and 25’ feet then you only have 15’ feet left for two way traffic and that could be a problem. Golder stated it will be helpful to walk through with the Fire Marshal. The fire department has had to go to the store and ask them to move some of their trucks to keep the fire lane clear. She stated we want to make sure there is always access for fire.
 
Young opened the public hearing.
 
There was no public comment.
 
Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton, to table the public hearing for Case#19-15 – Lowes – Major Change to a Site Plan Expansion of Outside Display Storage Located at 3330 28th Street SE to the June 9, 2015 meeting.

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Holtrop absent -

     9.  Work Session
 
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 at 41,800 square foot building and is generally consistent with the Preliminary PUD plan. 
 
Golder stated there are some minor differences from what was approved in 2013.  She stated in 2013 the plan proposed a sidewalk adjacent to the parking lot east of the building. The proposed plan eliminates the sidewalk adjacent to the parking lot. She stated in part this may be due to two proposed mechanical enclosures located on the east side of the building that block sidewalk from extending to the building’s access doors. She stated the applicant should determine whether the sidewalk can be reinstated by changing the location or size of the mechanical enclosures. Golder stated her concern was if someone had to walk, they would have to walk through the parking lot to get to that back entry. She would prefer the sidewalk. She stated one solution could be to put in part of the sidewalk to minimize the need to have to walk through the parking lot.
 
Golder stated we are allowed to give waivers to setbacks in PUD’s and a waiver was given for the setback for the parking to allow these two parking areas to get as close as 20 feet. She stated they have to move one up to 20’ feet. She stated this is consistent with what we approved before. Golder stated we said that we would allow a waiver to the parking standard so this lot will also be 20’ feet from the right-of-way (ROW).
Golder stated the previous plan approved handicap access on the north and south sides of the building. These spaces have been removed/relocated. She stated the applicant may wish to have several handicap spaces near each entry to the building.
 
Golder stated the applicant was required as a condition of preliminary PUD approval to post a performance guarantee for a period of five years in the amount adequate to allow the connection of the ingress-egress driveway to the south if it is needed.
 
Golder stated a parking lot was added in an area previously designated as a future deferred parking area on the south side of the building.  She stated due to the nature of the type of medical offices, First companies feels that they will need all the parking because it is all medical. She stated in Heritage Pointe North they did find they were short of parking therefore they did find they needed to put deferred parking in. She stated they were to connect to the property to the south if this developed into something more they would utilize that drive to get out to East Paris. She stated we are looking for a performance guarantee that if someone comes in, they would build the connector over to their property line if it occurs within 5 years.
 
Fox stated there was mention that if someone comes in 5 years they would have to build a connector, but what happens at year 6. Golder stated it would be at the person to the south’s cost to provide the connector.
 
Bridson asked staffs opinion on the sidewalk and walking through the back. Golder stated would prefer the sidewalk; if it is really not doable then she would prefer at least a partial sidewalk to get some of the people over to the doors. Discussion ensued. Bridson stated depending on what types of offices are going in it would be a concern to her if they are making people walk through the parking lot.
 
Stalsonburg stated he could go back to First Companies and see if they can reconsider some of the parking sites to have direct access to a direct sidewalk. He stated this is a leased building so where the doors are and how prominent they are; some of those things will depend on the final lease of the building.
 
Benoit stated he is not as concerned about the sidewalks. He stated if you are coming in the front of the building the parking spots that are within 20’ feet of the road. That is a long hike through a parking lot.  He thinks towards the north end they are able to get on sidewalks and if they wanted to go to the front door they can.
 
Jones stated she is a proponent of sidewalks. She stated because of the parking lots that are in the front of the building are so far away, that is quite a walk for someone who may have some physical limitations. People may decide to park in the back because they think it is closer to the building itself and given that she thinks sidewalks would be needed. She stated she would be in favor of the sidewalks.
Pemberton stated he would like to see sidewalks especially at the south end. He stated looking at the landscape plan we previously had a lot of discussion of the visibility in the approval of the preliminary overall plan. He also questioned whether the trees being designated in back are they going to be high enough from the beginning to cover the building or will they have to wait for them to grow.  Stalsonburg stated when that concern initially came up with the neighbor to the east they took some elevations of some existing tree canopy that is on the property east of this site and those trees are large. Stalsonburg stated they did a line of sight in their backyard. If there are leaves on the trees you are not going to see the building. Stalsonburg stated the trees that are going to be planted as part of the landscape plan some of those are down the slope and those trees are more aesthetic than providing any kind of visual screening to the neighbors. Stalsonsburg stated the neighbor that had the concern is more than 600 feet away. Pemberton stated he was just concerned if the landscaping will be enough to provide screening. Pemberton stated the building looks nice.
 
Stalsonburg stated just so there are no surprises, the little concrete area they have to move as a result of the staff meeting has to be relocated to another area. It is more centrally located and he needs that area to start sloping down from the parking level down to the detention pond. Stalsonburg stated this is something that the City Engineer suggested. Golder stated he might want to increase the landscaping on the new area to better screen from the neighbors.
 
Kape questioned whether the north of the proposed site they plan on opening it up to allow connection from one lot to the next. Golder stated the idea was they were short of parking on the north and this was solely for their use and they do not want to connect.
 
Benoit suggested in the area of the extra parking they are proposing on the site he thinks it will be good to put a ramp from the lot to the sidewalk. 
 
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 over the past several months staff has had discussion with a realtor concerning the development of this site for a clinic; discussions included design restrictions based on the zoning of the site and surrounding properties, variances that may be required and the option to rezone the property. Staff recommended that if the owner wished to rezone the property that they work with the adjacent property to the east to rezone both properties which would reduce the number of potential variances and allow for more flexibility in development of the site.
 
Pung stated in 1999 the Planning Commission approved the special land use and site plan for the Grand Rapids Eye Institute at 1959 East Paris. In 2000 the City approved the rezoning of the property from R1-C Single Family Residential to its current zoning of C4 Office.
 
Pung stated there is one more property that has a single family home on it and that house is currently for sale. It may go for single family use or office type development. Pung stated the applicant submitted a concept plan of what they would like to do with the property, but the commissioners are not reviewing a site plan as part of the rezoning. Pung stated they will have to go to the zoning board with regard to setbacks. The property the church is on will still be zoned R1-C single family residential, that still requires the increased parking setbacks, 50 foot rear yard building setbacks in order to construct it for a non-residential use.
 
Dan Hula, with Hula Engineering was present.
 
Kape, Pemberton, Jones, Benoit (adding he agrees and thinks the zoning board of appeals will have an easy decision because nobody will build a house where the church is), Bridson and VanderHoff were fine with the request.
 
Fox questioned if the request were to move forward how soon they plan on construction. Hula stated towards the end of July to get the final approval and variances.

     10.  New Business
 
There was no New Business

     11.  Other Business

Sheldon Cleaners and Total Health Chiropractic Sign Waiver

 
Pung stated Sheldon Cleaners would like to install a 3-D coffee cup sign which would extend above the roofline on the drive-through canopy, 9 square feet of signage under the scooter on the front wall and a 14 square foot “Laundry Room sign over the entrance on the south side of the building. He stated the zoning ordinance limits wall sign area on the front of the building to 52 square feet which has already been utilized. The zoning ordinance also prohibits wall signs from extending above the roof line and allows signage on only one side of the building.
 
Pung stated the development was rezoned I-PUD in 2012 The zoning ordinance states that signs for uses or buildings within the PUD are subject to the sign limitation allowed for uses or buildings of a similar type built in the respective zoning districts as determined by the Zoning Administrator. The zoning ordinance does allow the City Commission after recommendation from the Planning Commission, to waive or alter specific provisions of the zoning ordinance 
 
Mark Tomasik, from Innovative design was present. He stated Sheldon Cleaners would like to add signage to the front of the building to describe the business they have. It used to be just a dry cleaning business. He stated they now have a laundry business and café. He stated what people don’t realize is they also have a Café. He stated by having the additional signage from the road people will recognize and realize that Sheldon Cleaners is not just a dry cleaners and laundromat but also a Café.
                       
Benoit stated he doesn’t see where they meet the criteria to be granted the waiver. Tomasik stated they are in an IPUD area and the signage requirements there are different. He stated if there is a problem with the actual signage they just want that shape of the coffee cup above the drive-thru.
 
Schweitzer stated there are three options for the first standards but all the applicant has to do is meet one of the options. He stated he feels it may meet the option: By reason of the use or development of the property immediately adjoining the property in question. Schweitzer stated on the north side of the tracks is retail, south side of the tracks is an industrial area. He stated what Sheldon Cleaners is trying to do with this concept, because of the location, would warrant this type of more retail type identification. He stated Industrial use allowances for sign size are greatly reduced than they are for commercial retail.  Discussion ensued regarding wall signage in commercial and industrial zones.
 
Benoit stated he just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t be allowing Sheldon Cleaners something that the retail center on the north side of the railroad tracks would be able to do. Schweitzer stated the area to the north is in Grand Rapids.
 
Pemberton stated he loves the creativity. He likes the coffee cup higher than the roofline. Pemberton stated this is unique and we have to look at it as a unique piece and use.
 
Fox stated his concern would be the precedence that this is going to set.
 
VanderHoff stated he is in favor, he is not concerned about the precedence because each individual project is judged on its merits.
 
Bridson agreed with the concern of the precedence setting.
 
Benoit stated what is unique about the property is that it is a PUD and we have the ability to make exceptions and if someone else wants to rezone their property to a PUD he would encourage them to do that and we can look at their proposal.
 
Jones agreed that this is an Industrial PUD and the rules of engagement are different and she is good with the request.
 
Motion by Benoit, supported by VanderHoff, to recommend to the City Commission approve the waiver request for Sheldon Cleaners per the discussion this evening.

          Motion Carried (7-1)
          Bridson dissenting –
          Holtrop absent -
 
Golder stated Total Chiropractic is looking for a waiver to allow for a pole type sign. She stated the regulations for the office PUD states that signs and materials have to be consistent with the overall architectural design and that they shall be monument signs with the base to match the building materials and incorporated into the landscaping. She stated Total Chiropractic had a concern about that because the monument sign is near the bus stop and they were concerned that people would vandalize their sign. Golder stated they are going to have an electronic reader board. They are looking for a deviation to have a pole sign on their site. She stated they got approval from the developers First Companies, to submit the request.
 
Pemberton stated he has a problem with the size of the sign and being that far in the air he doesn’t think it would look that nice. He stated if it fit in the parameters of the development then he would be alright with the request. However, he questioned what will the next building want. He is not in favor.
 
Jones stated she doesn’t like the sign.  She would be inclined to stick with the monument sign she doesn’t think a pole sign is appropriate for that building and location. She would prefer a monument sign.
 
Benoit stated the sign doesn’t look like a medical facility sign, it looks like a McDonald’s sign. He doesn’t think they meet any of the review standards.
 
VanderHoff stated he would be leaning towards being against the sign.
 
Fox questioned if there were a history of vandalism of signs. Golder stated there is not a bus stop there now and she hasn’t heard anyone messing with the signs in the vicinity of other bus stops.
 
Motion by Pemberton, supported by VanderHoff, to recommend to the City Commission the denial to the waiver request of total Health Chiropractic per the discussion this evening.

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Holtrop absent -

Form Based Code Discussion
 
Schweitzer stated the commissioners received articles regarding Form Based Code (FBC) and a lot of resources discussing form based code. He stated the articles talk about FBC and introduces some of the components of a FBC. The first section discusses how FBC differ from more familiar concepts like PUD’s TNDs or Mixed use.
           
Jones added that she likes the idea of Kentwood and Wyoming working together to come up with concepts that will work well with both communities. Jones stated she loves the idea of mixed uses. She stated there is a lot of potential and the FBC will create a more united appearance and process for someone who wants to develop along Division Avenue.
 
Fox stated FBC became attractive to him to make this a walkable community with roof top venues and allowing commercial developers to come in and build or create is exciting.
 
Schweitzer stated we are planning on having a joint meeting with the planning and city commission June 30 and the focus that night will be to talk about the Master Plan and more specifically talk about Division Avenue

     12.  Commissioners’ Comments

Fox stated he will not be at the month of June’s meetings since he is getting married and honeymoon.
 
Pemberton Questioned what the planning commission missed with the Guiding Light rezoning request. Schweitzer stated in terms of notification we notified property owners within 300 feet, but we didn’t recognize the important partnership that should have been
taken into account with working with Kelloggsvilles schools. One of the neighbors notified the school and from there, there was a great deal of opposition expressed at the public hearing in which the planning commission did not get to hear.

     13.  Staff’s Comments
 
Staff offered no additional comments.

     14.  Adjournment

Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Pemberton to adjourn the meeting.

          Motion Carried (8-0) –
          Holtrop absent -

Meeting adjourned at 9:15p.m.
 
                                                            Respectfully submitted,
 
                                                            Ed Kape, Secretary