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MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
SEDOF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
SEPTEMBER 13, 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 Pemberton.
     
  3. Roll Call:
    Members Present: Emily Bridson (arrived late), Garrett Fox, Dan Holtrop, Sandra Jones, Mike Pemberton, Frank Vander Hoff, and Johngerlyn Young
    Members Absent: Bill Benoit and Ed Kape (with notification)
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Planner Joe Pung, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the applicants and one resident.
     
    Motion by Fox, supported by VanderHoff, to excuse Benoit and Kape from the meeting.
  4. Motion Carried (7-0)-
  5. Benoit and Kape absent -
     
  6. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
     
    Motion by Commissioner Pemberton, supported by Commissioner Fox, to approve the Minutes of August 23, 2016 and the Findings of Fact for:  Case#12-16 Cloverleaf Site Condominium – Preliminary Site Plan Review for a Site Condominium Project Located at 4392 Woodside Oaks Drive
  7. Motion Carried (7-0) –
  8. Benoit and Kape absent -
  9. Approval of the Agenda
     
    Motion by Commissioner Pemberton, supported by Commissioner Jones,                              to approve the agenda for the September 13, 2016 meeting.
     
  10. Motion Carried (7-0) –
  11. Benoit and Kape absent -
     
  12. Acknowledge visitors wishing to speak to non-agenda items.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
  13. Old Business
     
    There is no Old Business
     
  14. Public Hearing
     
    Case#13-16 Tire Shop – Special Land Use for Minor Vehicle Repair (Tire Shop) and Site Plan Review Located at 5322 S. Division Ave SE
     
    Pung stated the request is for special land use and site plan review for a minor vehicle repair operation. He stated the request involves the sale of new and used tires, tire repair, tire rotation, tire balancing and changing and installation of tires.
     
    Pung stated how they wish to operate is a customer would park in the front of the building. An employee would then drive the vehicle to the back where they would access the inside of the building. The work would be done and then the employee would bring the vehicle back to the front.
     
    Pung stated the site doesn’t have direct access onto Division Avenue nor does it have direct onsite access to the rear of the building. He stated those were two issues discussed at the work session. Pung stated since it doesn’t have access to the rear of the building one of the conditions of approval is cross access with the properties to the south. Pung stated on the site plan it shows there is a 75 foot ROW that comes up to the front of the building. But, we have other documents that show that it might be 33 feet or 50 feet, we need to verify. Pung stated if the ROW is 75 feet an access easement would not be required because it would be public ROW. Therefore access would be open and an adjacent property owner would not be able to prohibit people from going to the rear of the building using the frontage. Pung stated that is something we have to verify and if it is not 75 feet then a cross access easement would be required in order to ensure access to the rear driveway to the south.
     
    Pung stated another issue that came up was the current parking layout requires vehicles to back out and drive along the sidewalk along Division Avenue. He stated there is currently perpendicular parking. One condition is to convert that to parallel parking at the time the property to the north is converted or parallel parking is installed. He stated you really can’t do the parallel parking on the proposed site. He stated it will be hard for someone to parallel park if you have a vehicles along the adjoining frontages that are perpendicular parking. Also if they are doing that it is going to require one way circulation and this site has no ingress/egress directly onto Division Avenue. Therefore they do have to go on to the adjacent property in order to make that circulation. One condition is that once it becomes possible, the parking in front of the building would be converted to parallel parking.
     
    Pung stated another condition is when they go to parallel parking they are going to lose at least 3 parking spaces and, they are already short on parking. Another condition is to require a parking easement or agreement to allow two of the properties to utilize up to 6 parking spaces at 5330 Division Avenue. All three properties are owned by one entity. Pung stated we want to make sure there is adequate parking for all the properties under this ownership.
     
    Pung stated he is recommending conditional approval of the special land use minor vehicle repair with condition 4. City Attorney recommended, to add tires may not been seen outside the trailer. He stated we want an enclosed trailer and not see the tires from the outside. Pung stated he is also recommending conditional approval of the site plan and condition number 2 being amended, as per City Attorney recommendation, that the tires may not be seen from outside of the trailer.
     
    Holtrop opened the public hearing.
     
    Sam Deangelo, owner of the property at 5300 South Division was present. His concerns were how they will access the rear of the building. Pung stated there are three properties that are owned by Mr. Joyner they would access the rear of the building going down and back to the south side of the Karate building and back up.
     
    Motion by VanderHoff, supported by Pemberton to close the public hearing.
     
  15. Motion Carried (7-0)
  16. Benoit and Kape absent-
     
    Pemberton stated traffic flow will be an issue depending on how quickly they grow and what kind of customer base they build. He stated if success is in their future they will probably be looking at another larger location pretty soon.
     
    Jones asked how long is their lease. Olga Halstead representative for the property owner stated their lease is for one year. They will see how it goes and if it goes well they have more space for the company to expand. Vanderhoff questioned if they have an option for 5 years. Halstead stated not at this point.
     
    Jones stated she thinks this is an odd place for this type of business located in the middle of a row of other businesses. Halstead stated there are reasons for that. There is an overhead door in the back where someone can access. Halstead stated with budget constraints most of the buildings are larger and they charge a lot more. Halstead stated this works well for this particular business because of the overhead door and their budget.
     
    Fox questioned if the applicant would have to come back to the planning commission to utilize that additional space. Pung stated yes that
     would be a major change. Halstead stated it would all be the same property and it is adjacent and it would be the same property owner and only accessing through the south where there is plenty of parking. She stated there is already an easement in place it is just a matter of verification. Fox asked if they have plans to do any renovations. Halstead stated minimal renovations.
    Motion by Pemberton, supported by VanderHoff, to grant conditional approval of the Special Land Use Minor Vehicle Repair as described in Case 13-16: Tire Shop. The approval is conditioned on conditions 1-4, adding to condition 2, tires may not be seen from outside the trailer and basis points 1-5 as described in Pung’s memo dated September 8, 2016.
  17. Motion Carried (7-0) –
  18. Benoit and Kape absent –
     
    Motion by Pemberton, supported by VanderHoff, to grant conditional approval of the site plan dated September 2, 1998 as described in Case 13-16: Tire Shop. Approval is conditioned on conditions 1-7 adding to condition 2, tires may not be seen from outside the trailer and basis points 1-7 as described in Pung’s memo dated September 8, 2016.
  19. Motion Carried (7-0) –
  20. Benoit and Kape absent -
  21. Work Session
     
    Case #14-16 Cobblestone at the Ravines- Village East Condominiums – Final Site Plan Approval of a PUD Phase Located at 4333 Shaffer
     
                Golder stated back in 2003 there was a 300 acre PUD development called the Ravines that was approved by the City. She stated about 1,100 acres total divided into 3 parts, a traditional neighborhood development that Bosgraff builders was going to development, a central part that Polte Homes was going to develop and a single family portion. Golder stated some is developed most of it is not. Bosgraff did some of the building then the parcel went back to the bank during the recession. Golder stated one of the features of the development off Shaffer were called condo flats. The condo flats included 72 units. Golder stated at that time this area was intended to be single family ownership. One of the concerns was that the condos would be rented out. One of the condition of approval saying no one entity can buy a building and rent it out. She stated the plan now under consideration is all the same as the one in 2003. The elevations are the same and the plans are the same. She stated at the staff meeting the applicants stated they are interested in renting. Golder stated this will make the request a major change because of the conditions of approval in 2003. Golder stated everything is the same as well as the engineering and fire report.
     
    David Stebbins, Gary Hench and Marium Rabadu with Redstone Homes was present. Hench displayed a Visbeen Associates building designs. He stated the building has 24 units or 8 units per floor. The mix of units are (4) -1 bedroom units and (4)-2 bedroom units per floor. There is a 50/50 split on the number of unit types per floor. He stated the 1 bedroom units are 900 square feet and the 2 bedroom units are 1,200 square feet. He stated with the 3 buildings they do have individual garage units. Each apartment will have an enclosed covered garage and then several parking spots both in the back and along the front. From their meeting the inspector suggested they move some of the parking spots out front and create islands for servicing for fire protection. Some of the parking will change. He stated they are interested in marketing these as luxury apartment homes. If they try to market them as condominiums a well-qualified buyer wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage since there is no lending institution that will take the risk of being the first lender in a building like this. He stated it is a great building, a great design architecturally, it is very pleasing and a lot of architectural detail. He stated it makes more sense to try to market these as the luxury apartment homes. He stated there is a strong market in the area luxury rental properties.
     
    Marium Rabidu was also present. She stated we need other apartment housing opportunities on the higher end for individuals coming into Kentwood. She stated the rent base would be 1 bedrooms around $1,200 a month and the 2 bedrooms to rent for about $1,500-$1,600. She stated the operations objective for Redstone Homes is a very detailed background check, criminal and credit checks. They use a third party company. She stated the individual renting will have to earn the equivalent of at least 3 times the amount of rent per month. Anyone over the age of 18 has to fill out an application. She stated the structure of these stack flats doesn’t resemble a condo building. She stated it was probably intended for some kind of multi family rental because of how it is designed.
     
    Gary Hench, President of Redstone Homes and also a resident of Cobblestone, 4348 Augusta Hills Avenue, was present. He stated Redstone Homes was started in 1997. They specialize in condominiums. They have built over 1600 condos. They did very well until the recession hit in 2008. He stated they purchased Cobblestone from the bank. He stated Cobblestone is 315 housing units 94 are single family homes, 64 are ranch condos, 85 are townhome condos and 72 are the stack flats. He stated condos are not working right now in today’s economy. He stated one of the primary reasons is a mortgage lender is not going to issue mortgages on a 24 unit building. Plus a construction lender is not going to loan them to build a 3 million dollar building that would amount to 24 homes built on speculation.  He stated spec homes and condominiums is what got a lot of builders and developers in a lot of trouble during the recession. Condos were the worst during the recession. He stated if they are going to do something there he thinks rental made a lot of sense. He stated if you take their total 315 units and they are allowed to do rental in the stack flats that would basically be 22.85 percent of the total project. He stated they would still do this in a condominium format and they are proposing to rent it out. He stated by keeping the condominium format all the original plans that were in place with Cobblestone, which is 4 different associations, would still be in play. No disruption of how maintenance is done from an exterior standpoint. There is a Master Association and the proposed apartments would be a part of this association.
     
    He stated he reads the exclusionary sentence that allows them to do rentals a little different. He stated if the developer were to build stack flats and rent them out we cannot sell that building to another entity or individual or party. Discussion ensued regarding financing being available for multifamily housing.
     
    VanderHoff stated the market is redhot now for single family homes and duplexes. He stated he thinks we have enough rental units in the City of Kentwood. He stated he would be hard pressed to vote for a change of what was previously approved to allow 72 rental units. He thinks there are other types of buildings they can be built in that phase. He would prefer to have single family residences than rental units. Hench stated they started building in Cobblestone about a year and a half ago and the single family homes are not moving as well, they sold about 8. There are a lot of builders that are lower in price but have lower product. But Cobblestone is known as a quality builder. People are going to pay more per square foot for what they buy from them. He stated they have pretty stiff competition from other less quality builders. Cobblestone is a traditional neighborhood design and he acknowledged that some people don’t like traditional neighborhood design. He stated they have lost some purchase agreements because their yards are too small for a family. Discussion ensued. He stated the homeowners want that road completed to Shaffer right now. There is one entrance out on 44th Street and even though there is a dirt construction road homeowners still take that dirt road to get out to Shaffer because it is more convenient. Discussion ensued.
     
    Pemberton stated he has several concerns, he sees no greenspace, he sees a lot of roof, a lot of pavement and he is concerned. He stated he echoes the concerns of this becoming a rental unit. He stated he would like to get an idea or better feel of what is beyond this, what was the preliminary approval of what was approved in 2003 and where does it go from here. Golder stated the site plan is exactly what was approved in 2003. Golder explained the site plan. Discussion ensued. Golder stated there is greenspace and a clock tower. Hench stated there is a wetland around which they are going to build a walking trail.
     
    Golder stated on the preliminary we didn’t specifically say that you couldn’t rent. The way it was worded was you can’t have the whole building be a rental. The understanding was that it would not be a rental community perhaps one or two may be a rental. Staffs interpretation is that this is not consistent with the prior condition of approval. It would be considered a major change and involve a discussion of the City’s 70/30, ownership to rental housing policy adopted in 1980.
     
    Pemberton questioned if there was a way to restrict how much rental and if there is going to be some and how do you monitor that. Golder stated that is hard. We would have to have a basis for it what has been happening to 70/30 over time. We have changed how we interpret 70/30 since the 1980’s. Discussion ensued. Golder stated keep in mind the Master Plan says our desire for the 70/30 housing mix would not count and Division Ave rental units. The desire to have rental at Division Ave is because that is where it needs to be and then maintain the rest of the City in that 70/30 pattern.
     
    Hench stated there is a certain percentage of individuals who can’t get a mortgage. They have good jobs and good income and a lot of folks transferring into west Michigan. Although there is a lot of multifamily going in downtown a lot of people do not want to live downtown. The market demand is very high in West Michigan and the area has a very low vacancy rate at this time. Pemberton questioned if he anticipates investors coming in and buying 3 or 4 units and renting them out. Hench stated his intention would be to buy hold and mange professionally with Rabadu in charge. He stated his interpretation of the resolution that took place in 2003 was he could not sell that building to somebody else as it sits right now. His exit strategy is to manage the building for a long time or convert it to condominiums at some point in time. Pemberton stated if it will be good for a condo in 5-10 years why isn’t it now. Hench stated it is a timing thing and they want to get going. He stated he could probably build the building as rentals and fill them up in two years. Right now they have 72 occupied housing units at Cobblestone. They are talking about 72 more they can have there in 2 years.
     
    Jones stated they indicated that they compared their rentals to the Ridges of Cascade and their rent is substantially higher. Rabadu stated Cascade market will run higher. She stated a 2 bedroom is around 2,000 per month but their apartment homes have 2 garages included and Cobblestone will only have one. Discussion ensued regarding the appliances and the amenities each apartment will have. Jones stated they are taking out a lot of trees. Rabidu stated there are no trees, they have a lot of greenspace they are putting up 36 trees. Jones asked if this will be gated at some point. Rabidu stated they thought about that. Hench stated as far as gating the whole Cobblestone community would be in favor of that, but would have to get permission from the planning commissioners to do that. Golder stated she would not be in favor of that off of Shaffer and 44th Street.
     
    Hench stated he would like people to rent in the Cobblestone neighborhood and possibly end up buying a single family home or a ranch condo or a townhome condo.
     
    Young questioned the demographics of people they are hoping to attract. Rabidu stated everyone is open to apply and they accept all applications. If any wants to apply they can live there as long as they meet their criteria. They are targeting the young professional or the baby boomer generation. Rabidu stated the size of the apartments will be 900-1600 square feet. Young questioned the price point of the rentals. Rabidu stated $1200-$1600. Young questioned if they will have anything that fosters community or walking. Rabidu stated they are looking at a trail. She stated she loves walking around that community and it is very nicely done.  Hench stated the infrastructure that was put in, the amenities, the ability to walk, there are sidewalks everywhere and when you drive in that is only the first phase. There is still 36 more acres to be developed there is plenty of walking opportunity.
     
    Discussion ensued.
     
    Bridson sought clarification on the 70/30 policy. Golder gave a brief overview. Bridson stated we need to know where we are with the 70/30 policy before she can make a decision. She stated the new water and drain laws are going to take effect. Has there been any thought of what you Redstone might do. Golder stated she thinks they are going in under the terms of the previous approved engineering report and maybe they don’t have to comply with the new rules but she doesn’t know. Schweitzer stated we recently have had some education on this and the engineering department stated it may not be until another year before we get an answer on the proposed rules. Schweitzer stated that we can try to pin it down a little bit better going into the next meeting to give more background. He stated it may not be definitive but will try to give a better idea.
     
    Bridson questioned what other amenities they have for the development. Hench stated there is a pool, a playground, basketball court, ponds and when they get into the second phase they will put some boardwalks. He stated their hope is to put in a gazebo and dock so people can fish. Then in the 3rd phase there is sledding hill. Bridson questioned the time frame for phase 3. Hench stated if they can build 72 rental units it will be a lot faster. He stated a lot of the 2nd phase is what we are talking about, 72 of the stack flat condominium units, 10 ranch condos and about 25 single family homes. The 3rd phase a lot of townhome condos and some single family. But the single family homes are pretty much done when you get through the second phase. He stated it depends on market conditions, they really don’t know.
     
    Golder stated if the commissioners haven’t gone out there they should, it is a nice neighborhood. Golder stated we were pretty happy with the open space.
     
    Fox asked if staff can get the original language for the approval of this phase specifically regarding the rental. Fox stated overall he thinks the project is good and exciting but he is hesitant as it relates to rental units, just on the amount as the City as a whole.
     
    VanderHoff asked what is the Master Plan recommendation in  the section they want to put the apartments in. Golder stated the whole 300 acres is low density residential. VanderHoff stated so no rentals. Golder stated the master plan works by density rather than indicate how it will be rented or not but the PUD agreement and statement is very clear. Golder stated they are asking for a major change and it is up to the commissioners to look at and decide how they feel about that section being rentals
     
    VanderHoff questioned how many acres is involved where the 72 units will be. Golder stated 4.8, for the PUD it is across the board. VanderHoff stated he is not in favor of changing what we originally agreed to. He thinks there are things they can build there that will work and if you have less density he can build duplexes or 4 families. He thinks it is a lot of asphalt and very little green area in that section and that is a concern for him. VanderHoff questioned if everything goes well will Redstone come back for phase 3 and say we want to have rental units again. Hench stated no. He is happy with the way the plan is right now they just think the stack flats they can build them out in two years and the market needs it. He has no intent for apartments in phase 3.
     
    Fox stated it would be good to have some information on other developments that started off as a rental (a multi family unit) and then transition and being able to sell those individual units. Godler stated Woodland Creek is an example. It might happen it might not they can’t promise that. She stated she doesn’t see any way we can make that a condition of approval. Woodland Creek and Fox Chase has done that. Discussion ensued
     
    Hench observed that the commissioners are apprehensive about the 70/30 rule creating a trend of more rental. He would suggest the commissioners consider approving (1) – 24 unit building and if they want to have another building at some point they could come back to the commissioners for their approval. On the flipside market condition may have changed and they would be more than happy to build them and sell them as condominiums. They would be happy getting started on one building.
     
  22. New Business
     
    Motion by Young, supported by Fox, to set a public hearing date of October 11, 2016, for: Case#15-16 - Wildflower Creek Phase III - Final Site Plan Review of a PUD Phase; Pre-Preliminary Plat Review; and Consideration of a Change to a PUD Condition Located at 3633 52nd Street
  23. Motion Carried (7-0)-
  24. Benoit and Kape absent -
     
     
  25. Other Business
     
  26. Commissioners’ Comments
     
    Pemberton stated he will not be at the September 27, 2016 planning commission meeting
     
     
  27. Staff’s Comments
     
     
    Golder stated the Cloverleaf project developer decided to table the city commission action because they are looking into the private restrictions. They are looking to change the restrictions or they will have to come in for a new plan. If it comes in for a new plan it comes back to the planning commissioners.
     
    Schweitzer stated we have received from the consultant a consolidated draft on the form based code. Staff will meet with the consultant again then set up a joint city and planning commission meeting. Wyoming will be holding a meeting introducing the concept on September 26.
     
  28. Adjournment
     
    Motion by Commissioner  VanderHoff,                     supported by Commissioner                             to adjourn the meeting.
     
  29. Motion Carried (7-0) –
  30. Benoit and Kape absent -
     
    Meeting adjourned at 8:55p.m.
     
     
                                                                Respectfully submitted,
     
                                                                Ed Kape, Secretary