1 MINUTES GRAND RAPIDS PLANNING COMMISSION 1:00 P.M., RM. 201, DEVELOPMENT CENTER Members Present: Chairperson James Doezema, Mary Angelo, Janel Curry, Harold Hamilton, Nate Koetje, Patrick Miles, and Stephen Ruis Members Absent: Samuel Ojo and Paul Potter City Staff: Planning Director Suzanne Schulz, City Attorney Stan Bakita, Elizabeth Zeller, Landon Bartley, Dave Karcis, Eric Pratt, Kay Moul, and Carol Gornowich - recording secretary BUSINESS MEETING Approval of the Minutes of September 24, Motion by Mr. Hamilton, supported by Mr. Ruis, to approve the minutes of 9/24/09. Motion carried unanimously. Communication regarding bar at 710 Michigan NE (Ginger Westerland) - Ms. Zeller circulated a communication staff received from a resident of the area that spoke in opposition of the request at the public hearing. The communication expressed her disappointment in the Planning Commission approval of the request and cited crime statistics both in this area and the area around the other bar the applicant owns on Leonard NW. Ms. Zeller related that the City Commission approved the transfer of the liquor license yesterday. Conflict of Interest Mr. Doezema related that he is acquainted with the applicant for the 1426 Wealthy request but he has not worked for him. Motion by Mr. Hamilton, supported by Mr. Ruis, that Mr. Doezema does not have a conflict of interest. Motion carried unanimously. Mr. Ruis related that his wife submitted a letter of support on behalf of their business. He feels he can be objective in the consideration. Mr. Koetje suggested that if this request were controversial it would be difficult to make the objectivity argument to the public. Mr. Ruis stated that on the other hand there are many reasons for a commissioner familiar with an area/use to represent the community. Neither he nor his business will directly benefit from an approval of the use. Motion by Mr. Hamilton, supported by Ms. Curry, that Mr. Ruis does not have a conflict of interest. Yeas: 4. Nays: 2 (Koetje, Curry). Motion carried Calendar - The 2010 calendar was briefly reviewed.
2 Page 2 of 22 Motion by Mr. Koetje, supported by Mr. Hamilton, to adopt the 2010 Planning Commission calendar. Motion carried unanimously. Green Gathering Update (Green Jeopardy) - Ms. Schulz related that the final Green Gathering was held on 10/21/09. The Commission has been provided with a copy of the key recommendations. Ms. Schulz clarified however that these are not all of the recommendations that came out of the process. The format for the final gathering was what can the City do, what can citizens do. The attendees were given information with respect to what they learned from the process, the information collected, and actions being taken by community champions toward implementation of the recommendations. The Manager made the point to those in attendance that the City will not be doing these things; it will be up to the community to get the desired things accomplished. Ms. Schulz explained to the Commission that there are champions for all of the key recommendations so that while the City can t do these things there are groups formed/forming to fill the void. Ms. Zeller agreed that the Gathering went very well. She felt that having the champions present and provide information helped to convey the message that the City won t be able to do this. Ms. Schulz related that participants were given a parting gift - Green Jeopardy board game. The final jeopardy question being given the City s budget situation, what will you do? responses to that question were encouraged. Medical marijuana amendment - Ms. Schulz recalled that medical marijuana was approved by the voters last November and went into effect on 4/4/09, which created another use that they have to consider. Because it is viewed as a use it has to be permitted somewhere. In working with Vice and the City s legal staff they first considered permitting the use as a Special Land Use and then felt that perhaps permitting it by right, in association with a medical use, was more appropriate. Medical uses would be considered hospitals, pharmacies, a doctor that dispenses medicine, etc. If marijuana is intended for medicinal purposes it could be viewed as an ancillary use to the primary use. Ms. Schulz explained that there has to be qualifying patients and qualifying caregivers. A patient has to have a doctor s certification that they have a medical condition and that the doctor believes the patient would benefit from medicinal use. There are guidelines/limitations that the qualifying caregiver has to abide by. Mr. Bakita explained the limitations of the qualifying caregiver further with respect to the number of plants permitted per qualified patient and how many patients a caregiver would be permitted to serve. Kent County DHS parking lot expansion - Ms. Schulz explained that DHS is very short on parking at their new facility. The reasons for the parking shortage relate to an increased case load and the change in the requirements with respect to how many children a social services worker can monitor. These things weren t anticipated four years ago when the project was planned. DHS is working to acquire properties on Major Place for additional surface parking; they have acquired several parcels. Ms. Schulz presented the proposed parking plan explaining that the County is exempt from City
3 Page 3 of 22 Zoning Ordinances but they have been very good about following the ordinance. They haven t acquired all of the parcels desired yet but do have some that abut the existing parking lot. They would like to demolish the structures they have control of and put gravel down as a temporary measure to create more parking for the short term. Ms. Schulz asked the Commission their opinion of the need for holding a public hearing. By law the County doesn t have to go through that process. They would come to the Commission with their complete plan in the spring for Special Land Use approval when they have acquired all of the necessary parcels. Ms. Schulz explained that the County intends to hold a neighborhood meeting to provide information. She clarified that there are three houses that would come down to address the immediate need and provide the additional parking. Mr. Koetje suggested they err on the side of caution and hold a public hearing. Ms. Schulz asked if the Commission would be comfortable with the County holding the neighborhood meeting in lieu of a public hearing. Mr. Bakita noted that the County is exempt from Zoning and they have been cooperative in adhering to the process. They are now asking for the City s cooperation in return. Ms. Angelo indicated that she would be comfortable with the compromise since they are working with staff and appear to be doing the right thing. Mr. Ruis asked if they are ultimately looking to acquire more property for this purpose and whether they considered a ramp. He would not be in favor of further parking encroachment into the area. Ms. Schulz stated that a ramp may be a consideration at some point depending on how they grow and change at this location. She is somewhat concerned about cutting into the neighborhood for parking and agreed that this remedy shouldn t be expanded/continued in the future. Mr. Ruis MOVED to approve the request to proceed with the demolition of three residential structures and to develop temporary parking. Supported by Mr. Hamilton. Motion carried unanimously. PUBLIC HEARINGS: Market Avenue SW - Special Land Use - Diversco Construction Company (Darwin VanderArk) requesting approval to operate a concrete recycling facility. The operation would stockpile used pavement materials and perform intermittent crushing activities. (PLN09-111) Ms. Zeller explained that this request relates to two parcels, 2.4 acres, that are currently used as a contractor s office and storage yard for a heavy construction company. The company specializes in the construction and excavation of roadways and infrastructure and does a substantial amount of work within and for the City. An approval of the use
4 Page 4 of 22 would allow the applicant to use concrete material that is removed in the course of work and recycle it for use as a base material for new roadways. Ms. Zeller explained that the property and proposed use are subject to the regulations for the SD-IT district, the Grand River Overlay District, and regulations for materials recovery and recycling. The standards of the SD-IT District and Grand River Overlay District conflict. In such cases of conflict the Planning Director may determine which standards apply based on the degree to which the standards promote the purpose and intent of the Zoning Ordinance and consistency with the Land Use Plan. This proposal has been compared against the standards of the SD-IT zone district. Ms. Zeller identified the surrounding districts, IT, and land uses. Gelock Heavy Movers is located both to the north and east. Also to the north is the Grand River. Located to the south are railroad tracks and a rail line for Gelock. To the west is a former elevated rail line which is currently under construction as the Oxford Street Trail. The Parks and Recreation Dept. has provided their input. Ms. Zeller presented the proposed site plan relating that one of the four buildings on site would be demolished. Concrete crushing and recycling is proposed for the southwest area of the yard. The crushing activities will be intermittent, with processing occurring when sufficient materials have been stockpiled on site. The crushing machinery would be brought to the site as needed. Ms. Zeller explained that the stockpiles may be as high as 20 before they begin to process them. Ms. Zeller related the regulations that are applicable to materials recycling. An 8-10 fence is required to screen storage and activities from the right of way and other properties. The fence is to be set back at least 6 from the lot line and vegetation is to be planted within that 6 area. The property is currently fenced with a 6 chain link fence with slats and barbed wire and is located, at most. 3 from the sidewalk. The location of the existing fence leaves little room for landscaping. Materials recycling is also required to have a 300 setback from the Grand River. This property is located approximately 100 from the river, separated by Market Ave., another industrial property, and the flood wall. Stockpiling and activity setbacks are required to be a minimum of 25 from all lot lines. In this case the front and side setbacks are approximately 12 and the rear setback is roughly 7. The Planning Commission may waive or alter the use regulations if the Special Land Use standards are substantially met. Ms. Zeller explained the existing fence situation further. The fence present on top of the retaining wall has been there for a long time but is actually on City property. That fence should be moved to the applicant s private property if the request is approved. Ms. Zeller also provided more information on the Oxford Trail currently under construction. It is elevated by approximately 28 above the site. The embankment is wooded with mature trees and, except for the winter months, the trail will be substantially buffered from the site. No amount of fencing would really buffer the trail/site from each other. Parks and Recreation Director Jay Steffen has no objection to the use but would like to see the fence moved off of City property. Ms. Zeller related that staff has received no communication either in support or opposition of the request.
5 Page 5 of 22 Ms. Zeller summarized the waivers the Commission is considering: Fence - height and setback requirements Waive the landscaping requirements in front of the fence Reduced setback for the stockpiling activity and from the river Dar VanderArk was present to discuss the request. He explained that Diversco has been in business for 27 years and does a lot of work for the City. In the course of that business they remove a lot of concrete. He clarified that this request relates to concrete, not asphalt. Concrete would be brought to the subject site and periodically they would engage in crushing it, with that material to be used as road base. Because of the amount of work they do in Grand Rapids it would be beneficial to them, as well as the City, to have a location closer than they currently do. Mr. VanderArk recalled that in 2005 this site was approved as a Ready Mix plant and they operated that use as well. The existing 6 fence was installed for that use. They no longer operate the Ready Mix plant on this site and the 45 equipment has been removed from the site. Mr. VanderArk indicated that 5 years ago the fencing met the requirements. They have upgraded it, repaired it and installed the slats. With respect to the fence on City property, it is on top of a 4.5 retaining wall and has been present since before they occupied this site. Beyond the retaining wall is a very steep bank going up to the rail line. He feels the fence serves a better purpose in the existing location in terms of safety. Mr. VanderArk clarified that the proposed setbacks are measured from the property line and not from the fence. If they move the fence there would be a gap between the wall and the fence and in terms of safety it would be possible for someone to fall off the wall. Their proposal would be that the fence remain where it is and they will maintain the setbacks from the property line. Mr. Koetje asked Mr. VanderArk to explain what they currently do with the concrete material. Mr. VanderArk replied that it is hauled to various sites. They have a site in Layton Township and other various sites. For a number of years they owned property near Millennium Park where they did an extensive amount of recycling. That property has been sold to the County. Mr. VanderArk responded to Mr. Ruis with respect to the use currently approved for the site and what will be different with this use. They most recently operated a Ready Mix operation where they brought in aggregate material and processed it into concrete. That use also involved significant piles of materials. Mr. VanderArk explained that they originally began the business on Freeman and as they grew they expanded to another facility in Byron Township. They moved back into Grand Rapids last October. They have had this site for 5-6 years. It is a good location and provided them with a location to stage materials for the work they do in the city. It also provided a location for employees to park. The offices were moved back to this site last October and it is currently used as their operating facility, currently staging material on site. Prior to their ownership the site was occupied by an asphalt emulsions operation.
6 Page 6 of 22 Ms. Schulz asked if this use is similar to Mr. Shimmel s use on Butterworth where the crusher is brought to site on an occasional basis. Mr. VanderArk agreed. The frequency of the crushing will depend on the market. This operation is not as large as Mr. Shimmel s as they don t have the space he does at his location. This is a 2.5 acre site with their offices and some equipment storage occupying a portion of it. This would be a small operation in terms of concrete recycling but it would be an efficient location. Mr. Doezema asked Mr. Bakita if there is a standard encroachment agreement the applicant could enter into with the City with respect to the fence on the retaining wall. Mr. Bakita replied that that would be a discussion for the applicant to have with Mr. Steffen. If the City is agreeable they could enter into an agreement to maintain the fence in the current location. Mr. Doezema invited public comment. Marie Simahowicz, Southwest Area Neighbors, explained that she is present on behalf of SWAN, West Fulton Business Association and the John Ball Park Community Association. Ms. Simahowicz asked that the Commission table this request until they have an opportunity to hold a meeting with the neighboring associations and the applicant to learn more information about the use. While it isn t in their immediate area they do have concerns as to potential impacts on them. They have been trying to reach the Black Hills Association but have been unsuccessful. Ms. Angelo asked what the specific concerns are. Ms. Simahowicz indicated that the fence placement at the sidewalk is a concern in terms of setting precedent. Ms. Simahowicz is personally concerned, from an environmental standpoint, with the proposed distance from the river. Peter Carlberg, John Ball Park Community Assoc., related that he attempted to contact the Black Hills Neighborhood Assoc. and learned that Judy Rose is in the hospital. He also visited their community center and passed along information to them. However, he doesn t believe that anyone that lives above the site is aware of what is proposed because they are outside the 300 notification area and therefore, haven t been provided an opportunity to comment. Mr. Carlberg explained that they have experience with Mr. Shimmel s operation not meeting requirements imposed. Mr. Carlberg finds it odd that this business wouldn t take their material to Mr. Shimmel s operation. One of the reasons for his request was for processing material from within the City and it isn t too far from this site. Mr. Carlberg cited the standards related to setbacks noting that as written it doesn t sound like an ordinance section that is intended to be easily overcome and it isn t that just part of the project is within 300 of the river, nearly the entire site is within 300. Mr. Carlberg is curious how many more of these operations will be permitted and how loosely the regulations are applied. Toby VanEss, 665 Chestnut, recalled that a couple of years ago the Commission granted a shingle recycling operation next door to him. The shingles are piled taller than the 1120 Monroe building and there is no recycling taking place. If this use is approved
7 Page 7 of 22 he will be cornered in with these recycling operations and the bike trail to his rear. Those present on Chestnut are struggling to stay in business and improve the area and he can t imagine this will be an asset to the neighborhood. Greg VandenBerg, owner of property at Butterworth and Straight, stated that while they are located across the river they have suffered from the processing that takes place at Padnos. He is concerned about noise and dust from the proposed operation and asked that the Commission deny the request. Mr. VanderArk responded to comments. He explained that he met with Judy Rose from the Black Hills Neighborhood Association. He confirmed that she is in the hospital and is in fact no longer the president of the association. He has not had an opportunity to meet with the Association itself but Ms. Rose s opinion was that the operation wouldn t be a concern given the other uses in the subject area. The nearest residential property is approximately 700 from the subject site and located between the uses is the shingle operation. In terms of affecting the river, there is no run off from this operation. With respect to dust, there is very little generated by concrete recycling. If it does begin to be a problem there are measures that are taken to mitigate it. Ms. Schulz asked if the operation is regulated by the DEQ. Mr. VanderArk agreed. Part of the DEQ requirements for a concrete crushing operation is to obtain an air quality permit and they then look into the technical aspects such as whether water misting is required. Mr. Koetje asked if they would be willing to do something with the fence height to comply with the ordinance. Mr. VanderArk replied that in his opinion relocating the fence from the retaining wall could potentially create more problems. He suggested that it could be a safety concern if someone were to come down the hill and fall off the retaining wall. Mr. Koetje asked what fencing is present along Market. Mr. VanderArk replied that there is a 6 fence. That fence extends beyond the Gelock facility along the same line. In terms of landscaping there is none on either side of the road. Mr. Koetje noted that the ordinance requirement for the fencing along Market would be a height of Ms. Schulz agreed indicating that the intent is for screening purposes. The question for the Commission is whether what is present is sufficient. If the stockpiles get to 20 in height is a 6 fence sufficient or should it be 10? Mr. Koetje asked the applicant whether it is a financial issue in terms of replacing the fence. Mr. VanderArk agreed that finances come into play but it may also be a liability concern if the fence on the retaining wall was removed and someone was to fall.
8 Page 8 of 22 Mr. Koetje wondered if there may be some way to mitigate the visual impact of a 20 pile of concrete, although this isn t a particularly pedestrian oriented area. Mr. VanderArk agreed that from a pedestrian standpoint this is an industrial area. Gelock has equipment on their site that far exceeds the height of 20 and 20 is the maximum their stockpiles would reach. Mr. Koetje asked what prevents them from using existing recycling facilities in the area. Mr. VanderArk replied that they would be paying them for that service or they would have to haul their material further away to one of their facilities. The subject location is more efficient for them and provides jobs. Dan Timmer, a Diversco owner, explained that they would have to pay one of their competitors to purchase the crushed concrete generated from the concrete material they would deposit there. Diversco has 50 employees and if they can t compete the company would experience downsizing. Mr. Doezema noted that this is a highly industrialized area. Mr. Hamilton asked staff s opinion of the fence on the retaining wall. Ms. Schulz suggested that staff could work with the owner and City staff to ensure that they aren t storing materials on City property and to ensure that the existing tree line is maintained. She confirmed that the plans show no encroachment onto City property and the fence placement on the wall could very well be a safety issue. Ms. Curry asked if there is room for landscaping between the fence and the property line in the retaining wall area. Mr. Doezema suggested that in viewing the photos not much will change on the site other than concrete crushing. Ms. Zeller added that additional landscaping in that area would be of little benefit. Mr. Miles MOVED, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission approves the Special Land Use request of Diversco Construction Company (Darwin VanderArk) to operate a concrete recovery and recycling operation at Market Avenue SW, for the following reasons: 1. The proposed use will be consistent with the purpose and intent of the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance, including the Zone District, because the proposed use will be in compliance with the zoning district. 2. The proposed use will be compatible, harmonious and appropriate with the existing or planned character and uses of the neighborhood and adjacent properties, as well as the environment, because the proposed industrial use is consistent and appropriate with existing uses in the area and the new Oxford Street Trail will be buffered from the use by a substantial quantity of mature vegetation.
9 Page 9 of The proposed use will not have potentially adverse effects on the neighborhood because this is an industrial neighborhood and the nearest residential use is approximately 700 removed. 4. The proposed use will not be detrimental, hazardous, or disturbing to existing uses, future uses, or the public welfare by reason of excessive traffic, noise, smoke, glare, visual clutter, electrical or electromagnetic interference as, per testimony there will be little or no dust associated with the operation and traffic will be regulated in terms of the hours of operation and the intermittent nature of the use. In addition, the DEQ provides regulatory authority over the air quality. 5. The proposed use will not adversely affect the walkability of the neighborhood because Market is a designated truck route 6. The proposed use will occur on a previously developed site, and will have minimal additional impact on the environment. 7. The proposed use will be adequately served by existing public or private infrastructure and services. 8. The proposed use will safeguard the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the public by providing a site for concrete recovery and recycling. 9. The proposed use will not be detrimental to the financial stability of the City because the use will not place an unfair burden on other City services. 10. The proposed use will comply with all other applicable City ordinances and policies and all applicable State laws, specifically the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, per the resolution to approve. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following conditions of approval shall apply to this project. 1. That the application submitted to the Planning Commission, signed, dated and stamped by the Planning Director, shall constitute the approved plans, except as amended in this resolution. 2. That the operation of the proposed use shall be as described in the application and during testimony. 3. That the parkway vegetation shall be brought into an acceptable condition and maintained on a regular basis. 4. That haul routes for the operation shall follow designated haul routes and shall adhere to State of Michigan requirements for soil and sedimentation control. 5. That all the proposed use will comply with all other applicable City ordinances and policies and all applicable State laws. 6. Prior to issuance of a LUDS permit, the following must be submitted: a) A copy of the necessary permits issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. b) A description of dust control measures to be employed. c) A Soil Erosion Control Plan showing both permanent and temporary soil erosion control measures. 7. That prior to the close of the LUDS permit, the process of combining the two subject properties into a single lot be initiated. 8. Obtain necessary permits/agreements with the City to retain the fence in the current location on the west side. 9. Existing vegetation adjacent to the fence along the west and the Oxford Street Trail shall not be trimmed or removed without Planning Director approval. 10. That this approval shall take effect on November 7, 2009.
10 Page 10 of 22 SUPPORTED by Mr. Hamilton. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY th Street SE & 1860 Ken O Par Drive SE - Special Land Use - Apostolic Faith Church (Pastor Allen Julien) requesting approval to expand one existing parking area by 14 spaces from 43 spaces to 57 spaces and to expand another existing parking lot by 38 spaces, from 34 spaces to 72 spaces (for a total of 129 spaces on the property). PLN Mr. Bartley presented the request and described surrounding uses. Located to the north and west is single-family residential, to the south is the City of Kentwood, and to the east is largely office uses. He recalled that Apostolic Faith Church was previously approved for an expansion of the building and parking areas in April The west parking lot was approved to expand by 21 spaces, from 43 to 64. The east parking lot was approved to be expanded by 14 spaces, from 34 to 48. The addition was never constructed nor was either parking lot expanded. The accessory structure was constructed. Mr. Bartley related that the site is 4 acres in size. The request is limited to the expansion of the parking areas; the multi-purpose addition is not part of this request. The Commission may recall that there was some controversy related to the screening of the accessory structure. That structure has been screened and the concerns resolved. The parking areas, as proposed, conform to code requirements. Ms. Schulz recalled a condition related to the driveway. Mr. Bartley recalled that the original condition was that the drive be chained unless there were no problems. At the last inspection the chain was in place. It wasn t required to be locked. Mr. Doezema didn t feel that the cut through would benefit anyone. Mr. Bartley related that he consulted Traffic Safety asking if they had any concerns with respect to a larger parking lot on the west and the drive access mentioned. They expressed no concerns. There has been no feedback from neighbors. Mr. Doezema invited public comment; there was none. Ms. Curry MOVED WHEREAS, Apostolic Faith Church (Pastor Allen Julien) has requested Special Land Use approval to expand one existing parking area by 14 spaces from 43 spaces to 57 spaces, and another existing parking area by 38 spaces from 34 spaces for 72 spaces (for a total of 129 parking spaces on the property) for an existing church at th Street SE, and WHEREAS, the proposed use is subject to the requirements for Residential Zone Districts (Article 5), Parking Requirements (Sec ), Special Land Uses (Sec ), and Site Plan Review (Sec ), and
11 Page 11 of 22 WHEREAS, a public hearing was held on by the Planning Commission at which time all interested persons had an opportunity to be heard. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission approves the Special Land Use request of Apostolic Faith Church (Pastor Allen Julien) to expand one existing parking area by 14 spaces from 43 spaces to 57 spaces, and another existing parking area by 38 spaces from 34 spaces to 72 spaces (for a total of 129 parking spaces on the property) for an existing church at th Street SE, for the following reasons: 1. The proposed use will be consistent with the purpose and intent of the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance, including the Zone District, because it doesn t represent any major change in the neighborhood and, in fact, the appropriate landscaping around the previous building has only improved the area and because there has been no documented problems with traffic exiting out the back. In fact, traffic has been accommodated by 44 th St. 2. The proposed use will be compatible, harmonious and appropriate with the existing or planned character and uses of the neighborhood and adjacent properties. 3. The proposed use will not have potentially adverse effects on the neighborhood because adequate parking and access will be provided. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following conditions of approval shall apply to this project: 1. That the applicant obtain a LUDS permit. 2. That the application submitted to the Planning Commission, signed, dated and stamped by the Planning Director, shall constitute the approved plans, except as amended in this resolution. 3. That the operation of the proposed use shall be as described in the application and during testimony. 4. That the parking lot as proposed shall be screened with landscaping according to the requirements of Section of the Zoning Ordinance. 5. That signs, lighting, landscaping and exterior improvements are subject to applicable regulations and required permits, as necessary. 6. That this approval shall be effective on November 7, SUPPORTED by Mr. Hamilton. Ms. Schulz asked Pastor Julien about the condition related to the drive access. Pastor Julien recalled that there was discussion about that access but there haven t been any additional concerns. Presently the chain is not there and he hasn t experienced any problems or concerns expressed by neighbors. There was only one party that was concerned about the vehicle lights from cars exiting the church property. However, the typical church use has cars exiting in a relatively short period of time after a service. Ms. Moul provided the minutes from the 2006 meeting. Ms. Schulz read the condition related to the drive explaining that a chained gate and landscaping were required at the
12 Page 12 of 22 Ken O Par entrance to prevent pass through traffic. The chain was to be in place at all times other than during regular church services. Ms. Curry AMENDED THE MOTION TO INCLUDE: 7. That the previous condition of approval, imposed on 4/27/06, shall remain in effect; a chained gate shall be in place at the Ken O Par entrance at all times other than during regular church services. SUPPORTED by Mr. Hamilton. Pastor Julien explained that when the chain is in place they have experienced people/neighbors driving on the lawn to make the cut through. Pastor Julien explained that one of the reasons they are interested in expanding the east lot is the current traffic circulation for the Go Bus that provides transportation for the handicapped. Ms. Curry clarified that he is being asked to reinstitute the chaining of the Ken O Par access point. Pastor Julien stated that he will gladly put the chain back up but is concerned about property damage as a result. Ms. Schulz suggested landscaping boulders or vegetation to prevent that situation. Pastor Julien asked if they could install a swing gate rather than a chain. Ms. Schulz replied that that would be acceptable. The question was called. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. 265 Eleanor St NE - Special Land Use - Metro PCS (Thomas Yingling) requesting to erect six (6) antennas on the sides of an existing chimney (Riverside Middle School) approximately ft. high, and a 20 ft. by 13 ft. equipment enclosure on the east of the school. PLN Mr. Doezema explained that the applicant has requested this matter be tabled. He invited public comment from any interested parties; there was none. Motion by Mr. Hamilton, supported by Mr. Ruis, to table to the December meeting. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. Area Bounded by Leonard, Division, I-196, and the Grand River - Area Specific Plan - Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority, Grand Rapids Community Foundation & Grand Rapids Smart Zone Authority requesting approval of the Area Specific Plan. Planner Eric Pratt was present to discuss the request. He clarified that the Plan was not included in the Commission s packet but was available on the DDA website. The Plan was a collaborative effort of the TIF Authority, Grand Rapids Community Foundation and
13 Page 13 of 22 Grand Rapids Smart Zone Authority to engage community stakeholders in development of a neighborhood plan that would serve as a tool to guide future development in the neighborhood. The Plan addresses future land use development character and future infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood. The Plan was before the Commission on several occasions and the requested approval is the final step. Mr. Pratt invited questions. Mr. Pratt provided a description of the process the Plan went through. Mr. Doezema invited public comment. Howard Hanson, Parkland Properties, related that he is a member of the TIF Authority as well as the Plan Steering Committee. He recalled that at the last meeting he urged the Commission to use their discretion with respect to building heights and setbacks and not necessarily follow what was included in the study. Mr. Hanson clarified that after making those comments he felt he may have left a negative feeling with the Commission about the study. The study was a very good effort and he encourages the Commission and City to continue to pursue similar efforts. There was a significant amount of discussion as part of this process as well as significant recommendations. He again encouraged the City and the Commission to get behind studies such as this whenever possible. It serves as a tool for the Commission and provides a base for interested developers. The Plan will be very important when the economic crisis ends Mr. Hamilton MOVED, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission approves the proposed Area Specific Plan, dated June 2007, for the area bounded by Leonard Street on the north, Division Avenue on the east, I-196 on the south, and the Grand River on the west, for the following reasons: 1. The proposed plan is consistent with the guiding principles of the Master Plan. 2. The proposed plan addresses a demonstrated community need. 3. The proposed plan protects the health, safety, and general welfare of the public. 4. The proposed plan results in significant mitigation of adverse impacts on the natural and built environments, including air and water quality, noise, wildlife, vegetation, streets, and other infrastructure priorities. 5. The proposed plan is compatible with existing and proposed uses surrounding the subject property, and the proposed design and land uses are appropriate for the land. 6. The proposed plan maintains or improves compatibility among uses and will ensure efficient development within the City. 7. The proposed plan will result in a logical and orderly development pattern. SUPPORTED by Mr. Miles. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY Lake Dr SE - Special Land Use - Metro PCS (Thomas Forshee) requesting to erect six (6) antennas on the sides of an existing church bell tower (Trinity United Methodist) approximately 80 ft. high, and a 18 ft. by 12 ft. equipment enclosure on an existing parking space on the south side of the church. PLN09-121
14 Page 14 of 22 Mr. Doezema explained that the applicant has requested this matter be tabled. He invited public comment from any interested parties; there was none. Motion by Mr. Hamilton, supported by Mr. Ruis, to table to the December meeting. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. 707 East Beltline Avenue NE - Site Plan Review - Calvary Undenominational Church (Angela Cassiday) requesting approval for 1) an amendment to a Planned Sign Program which exceeds the maximum signage limits of the East Beltline Overlay District, including an electronic message center, and 2) an amendment to an approved PRD to construct a maintenance building. PLN Ms. Zeller presented the request for three ground signs. She identified the location of the property at the East Beltline and Bradford with Cornerstone University to the north, property owned by Spectrum to the west and an office complex located closer to the East Beltline. Ms. Zeller spoke on the signage. She explained that they currently have an approved Planned Sign Program. Amendments to a Planned Sign Program are considered under Site Plan Review. As part of a PSP the Planning Commission can approve waivers to regular sign regulations and may also consider signs that wouldn t generally be permitted in the district. Ms. Zeller explained that three ground signs are proposed. One sign would be located at the Bradford entrance. This would be a new sign; no sign is present in this location now. The second sign would be located approximately 350 from the roadway on the Calvary site. This would be an internal directional sign. The third sign would be a replacement of their main sign on the East Beltline. Ms. Zeller explained that the second part of the request is an amendment to the PRD and relates to a proposed maintenance and storage building of approximately 3,300 sq. ft. Ms. Zeller explained that there is an existing residential structure on the Calvary property that was previously used for ministry purposes and the accessory buildings were used for storage. The house is now in poor condition and they wish to demolish it and landscape that portion of the site. They will, therefore, lose their storage capacity there, thus the desire to construct the new building. Ms. Zeller clarified that three existing buildings will come down and one new building is proposed. Ms. Zeller presented renderings of the signs. The main sign is proposed along the East Beltline. She identified the location of the existing sign within the island at the main entrance. The applicant wishes to move the sign to the south, in the same plane and no closer to the roadway. The lot line jogs however, which would place the sign at a zero setback. The existing sign is present by variance. The rationale for the placement of this new sign is to provide increased visibility. The sign is proposed at 10 in height and code limits the height to 6 in this district. The maximum area for this district is 60 sq. ft. and the proposed sign is 80 sq. ft. The Planning Director has the discretion to permit up to 100 sq. ft. for the area of a sign on a regional street. This proposed sign also incorporates an electronic message center. Ms. Zeller recalled that the Commission has discussed electronic message centers recently for the Village of Knapps Crossing and a for a text amendment. Electronic
15 Page 15 of 22 message centers are generally not permitted on the East Beltline as the result of an agreement with neighboring municipalities. Code doesn t permit electronic message centers but the Planning Commission does have the authority to approve them as part of a PSP. Ms. Zeller asked that if the Commission feels this is appropriate that they consider that this would be a change in policy. She identified changeable copy signs that are located in the near vicinity. Changeable copy signs are permitted. Ms. Zeller described the second sign proposed on Bradford relating that it meets all regulations. The third sign, which also incorporates an electronic message center, is proposed to be placed approximately 350 from the roadway, which likely would not be visible from that roadway. Ms. Zeller explained that the new maintenance and storage building is proposed to be located on the west side of the property. The PRD requires a 25 setback and the applicant proposes a 10 setback on the north and 5 on the west. They also propose landscaping on the north to screen the building from public view. In looking at the site they really don t have other options for placement. If the building were to be located in place of the house it would be much more visible than the proposed location. The Planning Commission has the discretion to waive the setback requirements down to 5 if deemed appropriate. In addition, there is screening incorporated. There are also wetlands adjacent and a steep vegetated grade making it unlikely there would ever be anything constructed in that area. Ms. Zeller explained that the residential structure adjacent to the west is owned by Spectrum but is leased by Calvary. Ms. Zeller related that she consulted with Stormwater staff regarding the wetlands and there doesn t appear to be any concerns. Ms. Schulz asked if the short side of the building will be facing west/residential. Ms. Zeller agreed. Jim Morgan was present on behalf of Calvary Church. He explained that Calvary is a very large venue with average service attendance of 4,500 on Sunday with peaks in excess of 6,000. The weekly attendance is over 25,000. Mr. Morgan compared that to the annual attendance at Fifth Third Ball Park. The Ball Park averages 400,000 people annually and Calvary averages 1.3 million annually. VanAndel Arena averages 1.2 million in comparison. Mr. Morgan stated that the location is at a highway and interstate interchange. He suggested that the site has somewhat of a hardship with the presence of the office building directly north of the Calvary entrance. The office building was placed there before the setback regulations were established. The building is 40 from the southbound travel lanes and the current standards require a 140 setback. Therefore, the placement of that building causes difficulty in seeing the Calvary sign when traveling south. Mr. Morgan referred to photos submitted with the application packet that depict how close you have to be to the entrance before the sign is visible, which is the reason they desire to relocate it and make it larger. Mr. Morgan feels that the size of the sign is appropriate for the 26 acre site with an annual attendance of 1.3 million.
16 Page 16 of 22 Ms. Angelo noted that 1.3 million find their way there now. Mr. Morgan continued explaining that the existing sign is original and has been there over 20 years. It is dark and they desire something brighter and more visible. Signs across the street and to the south have changeable message boards and they feel they are entitled to similar signage. If the Commission finds the electronic message center to be appropriate, Calvary would be agreeable to limit the changing of the sign to once every two hours and not more than four times per day. Calvary has up to four different events taking place in any given day. If the electronic portion is not permitted the main concern they have is aesthetics. The changeable message boards that are present have a certain quality and Calvary would like to do something of more quality. The number of events they have per day is another reason and the final concern with respect to the changeable message center is the rearranging or stealing of letters that often takes places with changeable message centers. Mr. Morgan stated that they don t think of this as a commercial message center but rather a changeable copy sign, the only difference being that they would change theirs electronically. Mr. Morgan invited questions. Mr. Ruis asked if they considered placement to the north. Mr. Morgan replied that moving it north would make it less visible because of the office building. He explained that they used a large mock up and tested a number of locations and they believe the proposed location is the best. Ms. Curry wondered how many people actually need to be informed about the events taking place. It would seem that they would already know if they are going there. Therefore the internal directional sign would seem more useful. Mr. Morgan clarified that the internal sign would allow them to direct traffic whereas the sign on the East Beltline would allow them to announce the events. It would also allow them an opportunity for displaying inspirational thoughts for the day. Mr. Doezema noted that the two changeable reader boards can be changed at any time. Ms. Schulz clarified that the Northpointe sign is partially electronic. Mr. Doezema agreed with the applicant in terms of the negative aesthetic quality of the changeable boards. Mr. Ruis suggested that that is an opportunity for the sign companies to come up with something better knowing that code doesn t permit the electronic message centers. Mr. Doezema recalled that the concern over such signage for the East Beltline was a constant stream of information. Mr. Miles added that another consideration is the collaboration with neighboring municipalities on the Overlay. All involved agreed and he feels Grand Rapids should be committed to maintaining that agreement.
17 Page 17 of 22 Ms. Schulz related that they have been very consistent in denying such requests. There is a small electronic sign present just south of Meijer that went in prior to the Overlay. Mr. Ruis indicated that he is comfortable with the proposal with the exception of the electronic message center. He asked if the applicant would be willing to remove that from the request. Mr. Morgan stated that he is somewhat confused by the ordinance under the definition section. There are two different definitions. One defines a changeable copy sign, which includes an electronic changeable copy sign, and then later on in the definitions an electronic message center is defined, which has all the multi-media capabilities. They have discussed the signage with their intended sign manufacturer who has indicated that they can duplicate what Northpointe and Malarky s has with a solid back ground, simple letters and simple text but with the ability to change it at a key board rather than going out with a box of letters. In a sense that would be no different than Northpointe s sign, which is back lit with plastic letters. Ms. Schulz stated that she believes Grand Rapids Township has permitted signage similar to Northpointe s and she believes it is electronic but a different format than the LED bulbs. Based on what Grand Rapids Township has permitted, Grand Rapids could also permit those signs, which is how Northpointe got theirs approved. Mr. Morgan stated the proposed are not LED bulbs, it is high definition with solid letters just like Northpointe. Mr. Ruis indicated that he would need further clarification on what is proposed if he were to consider approving something like that. Ms. Schulz recalled putting stipulations on how the Northpointe sign could operate. Mr. Koetje agreed that Northpointe s sign is more professional and crisp looking than Malarky s. If there was a compromise here, the proposed does make some sense. However, it would have to be more clearly defined for the Commission to know exactly what they would be approving. Mr. Koetje asked the Commission how they feel about the electronic message center proposed internal to the campus. Ms. Curry was not opposed to that sign. Mr. Ruis stated that because of the scale of the property and because it is within the campus it wouldn t impact anyone but Calvary. Ms. Schulz asked the Commission if they are in favor of the demolition of the existing structures, construction of the new structure and expansion of the parking lot. Ms. Zeller clarified that at this time they aren t proposing to expand the parking lot. The Commission was comfortable with the demolitions and new construction of the maintenance/storage structure.
18 Page 18 of 22 Ms. Angelo wondered if the electronic changeable copy technology didn t exist when the Overlay was adopted. Mr. Koetje indicated that he understands the intent of the Overlay and feels they should consider the intent as opposed to the letter. Mr. Doezema asked the applicant if they would be agreeable to tabling the East Beltline sign for further consideration and review of what is present at Northpointe. Mr. Morgan indicated that they would be fine with that. It would allow them an opportunity to provide more detail. Ms. Schulz indicated that it would also allow staff an opportunity to consult with Plainfield Township with respect to what they have permitted. Mr. Ruis MOVED, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission approves the Site Plan Review request of Calvary Undenominational Church (Angela Cassiday) for an amendment to a Planned Sign Program, consisting of one internal message center and one ground identification sign at Bradford, and an amendment to the Planned Redevelopment District to demolish an existing vacant house and accessory buildings and to construct a new storage and maintenance building, at 707 East Beltline Avenue NE, with the following conditions: 1. That the drawings prepared by RJM Design, signed, dated and stamped by the Planning Director shall constitute the approved plans, except as may be amended in this resolution. 2. That the electronic message center shall be operated in accordance with the display regulations of Section B for electronic signs. 3. That a landscape plan showing the size and species of landscape material screening the proposed maintenance/storage building be submitted to the Planning Director for approval as part of the LUDS permit. 4. That this approval shall be effective immediately. SUPPORTED by Mr. Hamilton. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. Mr. Koetje MOVED TO TABLE THE PROPOSED EAST BELTLINE SIGN. SUPPORTED by Mr. Hamilton. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. Ms. Schulz related that the East Beltline sign would be noticed as a public hearing to allow for public comment. Ms. Curry left the meeting Wealthy Street SE - Special Land Use - Talbert Ventures, LLC (Rachel Lee) requesting to sell alcohol for on-site consumption at an existing restaurant at 1017 Wealthy Street SE. PLN Mr. Bartley presented the request identifying the location of the property on the north side of Wealthy at the corner of Donald. The restaurant opened in November 2008 and the applicant is now seeking Special Land Use approval for a Class C license to sell beer and wine for on site consumption at this location. The restaurant is located in the