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MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD PLANNING COMMISSION
SEPTEMBER 27, 2016, 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, Sandra Jones, Ed Kape, Frank Vander Hoff,  and Johngerlyn Young
    Members Absent: Mike Pemberton (with notification)
    Others Present:  Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Planner Joe Pung, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the press and 10 citizens.
     
                Motion by Kape, supported by Fox, to excuse Pemberton from the meeting.
     
  4. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  5. Pemberton absent -
     
  6. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
     
    Motion by Commissioner Holtop, supported by Commissioner Jones, to approve the Minutes of September 13, 2016 and the Findings of Fact for: 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
  7. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  8. Pemberton absent -
  9. Approval of the Agenda
     
    Motion by Commissioner Kape, supported by Commissioner VanderHoff, to approve the agenda for the September 27, 2016 meeting.
     
  10. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  11. Pemberton 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
     
    Case #14-16 Cobblestone at the Ravines- Village East Condominiums – Final Site Plan Approval of a PUD Phase Located at 4333 Shaffer (applicant request tabling of action)
     
    Golder stated the applicant is requesting to table to the October 11, 2016 meeting a new notice will not be sent out to the residents.
     
    Golder stated in 2003 a 300 acre PUD development called the Ravines was approved by the City. She stated about 1,140 housing units total divided into 3 parts, a traditional neighborhood development that Bosgraff builders was going to develop on the southern portion of the overall site, a central part that Pulte Homes was going to develop and a single family detached on the northern portion. Golder stated some of the PUD is developed, most of it is not. Bosgraff did some of the building on the southern portion then the parcel went back to the bank during the recession. Golder stated one of the features of the original Bosgraff 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. She stated one of the concerns was that the condos would be rented out. Golder stated one of the conditions of approval says no one entity can buy a building and rent it out. Golder stated 72 units are being proposed 3 buildings 24 units in each building.
     
    Young opened the public hearing.
     
    Gonzalo Ramirez, 4322 Straten Blvd, stated he has been a resident of Cobblestone for 8 years. He stated he is in favor of the request. He stated he understands there is a lot of opposition from the neighbors and he understands the City’s 70/30 housing policy. He stated over the last 8 years their condo dues have almost doubled since the bankruptcy and going into foreclosure. He stated he has been on the association board and has worked close to their budget and the state of finances as an association. He stated his perspective is due to the struggles of their budget. He stated with Redstone building homes and selling homes it has helped stabilize their budget. He stated they are approaching the end of the life cycles with all of the amenities in the neighborhood. He stated they need to replace things. There are a lot of things that the entire neighborhood contributes through their dues that need to be replaced. He stated he thinks the apartments will help them in terms of additional revenue to the association.
     
    Austin Zeno, 2862 Hearthstone Dr. was present. He stated he bought his condo about a year ago. He stated you can’t stop development from happening. They need to expand the condos and the development, the economy is picking up. He stated he is concerned with the management. He stated he is apprehensive because he doesn’t see anything proposed to be written into the Master Deed different criteria for rental. He stated if it is not written in the contract how is it being upheld. He questioned whether a time frame would be specified and agreed upon to convert the rental units to condo ownership. He stated he wants to make sure the Master Deed are modified to assure what Redstone is saying is actually happening.
     
    Golder stated in 2004 the initial PUD was approved and 1,140 units were laid out. She stated as part of that they needed to give a projected timeline of when they thought it would be developed. But there is no required timeline that they have to develop this property. Things happened, the housing market fell apart and there was no requirement that they had to do this within a certain amount of time. Golder stated a PUD zoning includes a site plan, a PUD agreement and a statement and all kinds of approvals that really tie up the development to be very specific to whatever they agreed upon. Godler stated the condo flats were not to be rented the way it was worded in the approval one entity can’t buy a whole building because one entity can’t live in a whole building and they would rent it out. Discussion ensued.
     
    Jamey Matheny, 4336 Endicott, a homeowner in Cobblestone was present. He stated historically the homeownership and value of properties tends to suffer when it is next to rental properties. He stated he is not in favor of the proposa. When they bought their property they had an expectation that they were buying into this plan of home ownership and the entire development was going to procced as it was approved years ago. He stated Redstone are good people but he is not comfortable with their transparency and honesty. One of the owners from Redstone is a resident of Cobblestone and they feel he is asking for the variance for his own personal gain and not for the greater good of Cobblestone and the condo owners. He asked the commissioners to uphold what the Master Plan is for the City of Kentwood. He stated when it comes time to consider what they have agreed on they should make sure that the ratio between rental units and homeownership is what they have set out to have.  He stated if it does not align with that then in good conscience he would encourage the board not to approve this request.
     
    Vonda Taylor, 4345 Stratton Blvd, was present. She stated she was the first person to purchase in Cobblestone. She stated young professionals in the community lost their home and started to rent. She stated she was effected by the rental in her area. Things started to decline on the outside, pool and playground area. She is not in support of this use.
     
    Lynne Stolk 4332 Straten Blvd, was present. She stated she echoes the concerns of the other residents. She encouraged the commissioners to look at the 70/30 policy and adhere to it as closely as they can. She feels the community is very saturated with rental units. She stated she is not in support of the major change and to decline the request.
     
    Barbara Asperger, 4350 Endicott was present. She stated she is a board member and acting property manager for Cobblestone. She stated she feels that there is mistrust with Redstone. She stated they like to say they will do a lot and when it comes time to do it they don’t follow through. She stated she is against the rental units. She stated as far as the money goes they don’t need the renters to make ends meet.
     
    There were also 5 letters written in opposition of the request.
     
    Ken Marek, 4333 Estoria Ave was present. He stated they are worried about Redstone asking for 24 units and then coming back and ask for more.  They do not want to live in a rental community. They want to live in houses and condos not an apartment complex.
    Gonzalo made clarification that there is Redstone property management who mismanaged their association when they were hired by the bank and there is Redstone Property the developer. They are two unaffiliated companies. He thinks the issues that people have experienced with delays and documentations have more to do with Redstone Property Management than the developer. The developer is not a rental property manager they are not in the business of building rental properties.
     
    Motion by Holtrop, supported by Jones, to table Case #14-16 Cobblestone at the Ravines to table to October 11, 2016.
  15. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  16. Pemberton absent -
     
    Golder gave a brief update of the Kentwood 70/30 housing policy. She stated in 1980 there was a resolution adopted by the City saying they want to get to a housing mix of 70 percent single family owner occupied versus multifamily apartments. They defined single family owner occupied as: single family detached, duplex units, condominiums and mobile homes. Thus, even single family detached housing that were rented and multifamily duplexes that were rented went towards the 70. Golder stated looking at that definition we are very close to 70/30 according to the definition. Golder stated the City has a rental inspection program and they distinguish between duplex rentals, duplex owner occupied rentals, and apartments. That is where she got the apartment number. She then went back to what the Assessor had for single family homes and added in Holland Home because that is counted as an owned product and condo. She stated that is how we came up with the ownership side of things. She also stated what the census bureau said is rented in the City and the census computation reflects 59% home ownership in the City. Discussion ensued.
     
  17. Work Session
     
    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
     
    Commissioner VanderHoff excused himself from the review of the project.
     
    Pung stated the request is a three part request it is a Final Site Plan Review of a PUD Phase; Pre-Preliminary Plat Review; and Consideration of a Change to a PUD Condition. Pung stated phase 2 came through in 2015. He stated originally when this was rezoned in 2003 the intent was to have all the homes with the garages in the rear. He stated in 2006 a major change was approved to permit up to 40% of the homes to have front load garages. Pung stated in 2015 when they came in for phase 2 the request was to permit up to 60 percent of the homes to have front load garages. Pung stated one of the changes they are seeking now is to allow for all but one of the homes to have front load garages. He stated this would only apply to this phase. Pung stated the other phase they would still be required to have that 60/40 mix. They are asking for this phase alone to have all the homes but one to have the front load garages.
     
    Pung stated that there is a second change in conditions sought: one of the homes is setback much further than 15 feet. He stated one of the PUD requirements was all the homes had to be up by the street setback 15 feet. Pung stated the requested change is due to the grades and the wetlands on one particular lot. They are requesting to allow that one home be setback approximately 65 feet from the front lot line.
     
    Pung stated overall the request is consistent to what was approved in the original PUD. He stated there are some issues that need to be addressed. Pung stated as noted in the staff report there are several common area parcels and an existing single family home which will have frontage. They are not part of the proposed platted lots that would have homes on them, but they still have to have sidewalk. The sidewalk would have to be installed at the time the street is put in. One option is to incorporate these into the adjacent platted lots to ensure maintenance and snow clearing of the sidewalk. The engineering department reasoned that an advantage of this approach would be that they would have one person to contact if there are any issues with regards to drainage easements. He stated the developers indicated they will incorporate these areas into the adjacent platted lots, which means they are going to have a little larger lot. Pung stated they won’t be able to build more and the developer will have to ensure the property owners know that these are wetlands and not something they can come in and fill and get more buildable space.
     
    Pung stated another issue is that the existing home proposed to front on Blazing Star currently has a drive on to 52nd Street. As part of the original Preliminary PUD Plan approval, when the platted street comes in, the driveway onto 52nd Street goes away and access is constructed onto the platted street. It also shows up in the engineer report since that driveway will be too close to where that street would come out onto 52nd Street. An issue that has to be addressed is getting that driveway closed and relocating it.
     
    Pung stated in phase I there is a landscape berm and fence along 52nd street. That treatment is also required along phase III the entire portion of 52nd Street. With the small exception of an area where drainage must be accommodated there will be a fence installed at the time the landscaping on the berm is put in, so there is consistency in the look of the fence and maintenance and wear of the fence. The developer is also in agreement that it will all go in at the same time and also give the plat better appearance for when he is trying to sell the development.
     
    Pung stated we will have to amend the PUD agreement if the major changes are approved.
     
    Chris VanderHoff, Bosco Construction was present representing the request. He stated they bought this foreclosed property in 2008. He stated they struggled with the initial plan. He stated they came up with a nice plan that really resurrected this plat it has a nice rich look and affordable homes. He stated they build concrete porches, wrought iron hand rails and put a wood front. They put a fa├žade on the homes that is typical of a 4 or 500,000 dollar front with a composite front and stone and a nice look. It doesn’t cost that much because it is a smaller home and smaller square footage but they do put an extra 3-4,000 dollars on the fronts of their homes just to get that look as opposed to a vinyl look, of other developments done. He stated they built out phase I successfully with 40 plus homes and then came before the commission about a year and half ago with Phase II. He stated for phase II he asked for some changes in regard to front to rear loads. He stated they are now 2/3 built down the road and maybe about 1/3 closed. He stated the State changed the platting laws and it takes a lot longer to build into a plat so they want to get things ready. He stated they are hoping the economy will hold out and the interest rates will hold and once they get 2/3 closed they hope at that point they are ready with the City and the proper permitting so they can bid and start on phase III. He stated they don’t want to have a lapse in lots availability so they can keep the momentum. He stated in the packet was a letter that explains why they are asking for more front loads than rear loads. He stated the commissioners need to drive through and see the homes that are built front load they look very nice and are selling.
     
    VanderHoff stated he made contact with the homeowners on the corner. It has been one of the things he’s been worried about whether the homeowner is for the driveway being changed from 52nd to the Blazing Star. The home is a rental property he was able to get a hold of the landlord and she was elated with the plan, it puts the home more in a residential setting.
     
    Bridson asked for clarification on the 15 foot setback. VanderHoff stated they still have to work within the wetlands, the drainage, the natural berms and topography of the land. He stated the problem is with the setback on lot 102. If they go any further forward they are going to be into that designated wetland which the DEQ will not allow them to do. He stated that is the reason for the setback on that lot to stay out of the wetlands. Bridson stated she doesn’t think she would be in favor greater setback due to concerns with th loss of privacy for the lot 3 property VanderHoff stated if that was a huge concern with the overall planning commission he would agree to build lot 102 first and sell it before he develops lot 103. Then whoever purchases lot 103 will know what lot 102 looks like. VanderHoff stated they would also split the wetland and make the two lots bigger. That doesn’t allow them to move the house further away but it is a nicer lot. VanderHoff stated if someone buying is looking for privacy the lots in this plat will not be the neighborhood you would buy into.
     
    Holtrop stated if the commissioners haven’t driven through the development he urged them to. He stated VanderHoff has done a nice job. He stated in the beginning the concerns of front load garage had to deal with the whole garage in front of the house. He stated per the photos they are either a foot behind or flush. VanderHoff stated they would continue on with the same designs that they have been doing. Discussion ensued about similar lots 88 and 87 and whether they could be rear load garage lots. VanderHoff explained that the grades if these lots would not be conducive to the rear load design. Holtrop stated that was his only concern. Holtrop questioned how the berm and fence comes in to play. Pung stated it is all owned by the homeowners, in this case the fence would be put in all at once. The individual homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of their portion of it. Holtrop questioned if they are not maintaining the sidewalk on 52nd street what can be done. Pung stated we can contact the code enforcement office and he will make sure weeds gets mowed and snow plowed.
     
    Kape asked if the house on Blazing Star says no to redoing the driveway then what will happen. Pung stated at this point they are agreeing to it, it was part of the approved original PUD when it came in and sounds like at this point they are in favor.
     
     
  18. New Business
     
    There was no New Business
     
  19. Other Business
     
  20. Commissioners’ Comments
     
    Bridson questioned if we need to redefine the 70/30 policy to modernize and update it since its been 36 years since it was reviewed. It is so out of date. Discussion ensued
     
    Fox stated it is national voter registration day and encouraged the commissioners to make sure everyone they know is registered to vote.
     
    VanderHoff stated regarding Cobblestone he thinks we have to stick to the plan that was originally approved. The developer knew when he bought the property what it was zoned for and what he could build there.
     
  21. Staff’s Comments
     
    Schweitzer stated periodically staff will bring a set of zoning ordinances to the commission for consideration. He stated a survey was done for signs in December. He stated we are taking a look at that and a Supreme Court case that may have some bearing on our sign regulations. He stated in the past we have used our subcommittee for the initial review. The ZO subcommittee is Young, Jones and Benoit. He stated October 11 he would like for the committee to meet at 6:30pm to look at some drafts.
     
    Golder stated Luz committee needs to meet on October 25 for the slaughter house.
     
    Schweitzer stated he would like to set up a joint Form Based Code meeting with the joint City and Planning Commission in October or November.
     
  22. Adjournment
     
    Motion by Commissioner VanderHoff, supported by Commissioner Kape,                             to adjourn the meeting.
  23. Motion Carried (8-0) –
  24. Pemberton absent -
     
    Meeting adjourned at 9:05pm
     
     
                                                                Respectfully submitted,
     
                                                                Ed Kape, Secretary