MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION,
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 14, 2001, 7:00 P.M.,
COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN
1. Roll Call
PRESENT: Baker, Garner, Geisler, Kozakiewicz, Liberto, Senesac, Slicker, Svenson, Wieland
OTHERS PRESENT: Jon Lynch, Director of Planning and Community Development; Mark Ostgarden, City Planner; Cheri Standfest, Administrative Assistant, and 12 others
2. Approval of the minutes of the meeting of July 24, 2001
It was moved by Senesac, seconded by Svenson, to approve the minutes of the meeting of July 24, 2001. The minutes were approved as presented.
3. Public hearing
Preliminary Plat of Midland Commerce Park – the request of Nicolaos Rapanos, for tentative preliminary plat approval of a commercial/industrial subdivision of 40 lots on 55.39 acres between Bay City Road and Fisher Road, west of the US-10 Expressway [see transcript].
4. Public Comments
5. Old Business
a. Consideration of Site Plan No. 207 – the request of David Dunn on behalf of Wolverine Bank for site plan review and approval of a 12,653 square foot addition to the existing building at 5710 Eastman Avenue (the east side of Eastman Avenue between Dilloway Drive and Denver Street).
Mr. Lynch provided an overview of the site plan that was the subject of a public hearing on July 24th. During the public hearing, the Commission received testimony from several area residents in opposition to the plan. Statements of opposition generally applied to the driveway proposed to connect the site to Dilloway Drive. Residents at 1308, 1400, 1406, 1412, 1413, 1425, 1507, 1524, 1525, 1601, and 1608 Dilloway Drive have expressed opposition to the plan, particularly the driveway. A resident at 6030 Londonberrie Court expressed support for the plan.
Mr. Lynch noted that the Commission would be deliberating to a recommendation on the plan and should keep in mind provisions for the basis of action on site plans, particularly the first criteria which states: “The provisions for vehicular loading, unloading and parking, and for vehicular and pedestrian circulation on the site and onto adjacent public streets and ways will create hazards to the land, or will impose a significant burden upon public facilities which could be avoided by modifications in the plan.” At the conclusion of the public hearing on this matter, the Planning Commission requested additional information regarding the site.
The first question pertained to functional impacts of the proposed south driveway on Dilloway Drive. Mr. Lynch again discussed the site plan with Mr. Stan Cool, Consulting Traffic Engineer. With regard to the Denver Street drive immediately adjacent to Eastman Avenue, he indicated that the drive could remain, but that its connection to Denver Street should be moved to the east or connected to the teller window exit lanes. Mr. Cool again examined the proposed driveway and stated that it would not create a hazard on Dilloway Drive. Imposing an exit only restriction on the drive would potentially limit stacking on Dilloway of eastbound vehicles wishing to turn left into the site. However, westbound vehicles on Dilloway would be forced to proceed through the intersection and rely on Eastman Avenue for access to the site. A turning restriction applied to the driveway that would further limit exiting traffic to left turn movements would clearly direct vehicles away from the majority of residences on Dilloway Drive. However, westbound vehicles would again be forced to travel down Dilloway to Eastman, and north on Eastman to enter the site. The same travelers would be required to exit onto Eastman and travel through the signalized intersection to access Dilloway. When asked to comment on the value of this proposed drive, Mr. Cool noted that it would provide a benefit to the area by giving traffic an opportunity to access Eastman Avenue via a signalized intersection. Finally, Mr. Cool recommends that on-street parking along the north side of Dilloway between the intersection and the proposed driveway be eliminated.
The second inquiry pertained to the amount of hose carried by fire trucks. Chief Hargarten noted that each pumper is equipped with 750 linear feet of 5-inch diameter supply hose. Such hose is connected from hydrants to the pumping unit where attach lines then originate. The Department does train for occasions when a hydrant is more than 750 feet from an active fire.
John Baer, project architect from Pumford Construction, speaking on behalf of Wolverine Bank, discussed elements of the proposed site plan. He noted that objectives of the project include improved safety for the public, customers, and employees, consolidation of administrative services into a single facility, meeting needs for the foreseeable future, and utilization of a site occupied by Wolverine Bank for 20 years. The recent widening of Eastman Avenue has made such features as the Dilloway driveway very important.
In analyzing its customer base, Wolverine Bank has determined that, conservatively, 267 customers reside in the residential neighborhood east of the site. During hours of operation, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, there are between 112 and 175 customers using this bank each day. The existing drive-up window is a commercial drawer, and transactions are typically lengthy. While the bank has limited experience with automatic teller machines (ATM), it anticipates that the proposed ATM on site will not generate a high volume of transactions.
The existing 3,743 square foot building currently houses 18 employees. This building was constructed in 1981 and is designed for 13 employees. An independent design firm has concluded that between 300 and 350 square feet of floor area per employee is necessary. Wolverine Bank anticipates that its operations consolidation will result in 16 additional employees at this location. This produces a building size between 10,000 and 13,000 square feet. The Bank also anticipates that deposits will grow between 10% and 13% over the next 5 years.
Commissioner Kozakiewicz asked Mr. Baer to respond to Mr. Cool’s comments regarding the Denver Street driveway. Mr. Baer stated that the driveway is an important feature for internal vehicular circulation but that its connection to Denver Street could be relocated to the east. Commissioner Senesac asked if the relocated entry would be connected to the teller window exit lane. Mr. Baer responded that his preference would be for an independent connection so as not to mix teller window and other site traffic.
Commissioner Baker asked if the consolidations being discussed would result in this being the sole Wolverine Bank site in the community. The architect noted that it would not. Commissioner Baker also asked if the Dilloway drive is a high priority, noting that other businesses on Eastman don’t necessarily benefit from a controlled intersection. Mr. Baer stated that the driveway is a very important feature, in that it will provide a safer alternative for customers to enter and exit the site.
Commissioner Garner inquired as to whether the architect had considered turning the building around to reorient the drive-through lanes to the south. The architect responded that the interior design elements of the structure make turning it prohibitive.
Chairman Geisler requested clarification about the purpose of the Dilloway and Denver Street driveways. Mr. Baer indicated that they would produce the most efficient and safest vehicular access and circulation pattern possible.
Commissioner Liberto inquired about the primary intent of the Dilloway driveway. Mr. Baer stated that the driveway will both provide safe access to Eastman Avenue for southbound traffic and will provide safe and efficient access to the east for customers living in the neighborhood.
Cindy Lowrey of 1507 Dilloway Drive noted that a 10% to 13% increase in customers, addition of a 24-hour access ATM machine, and four new drive-up teller windows would definitely change area traffic and the neighborhood. Her family intends to live in their home for the rest of their lives. The question here is whether to uproot the proposed plan or uproot the neighborhood. Traffic is already high on Dilloway, and many neighborhood streets feed into it. She is very concerned about the safety of school children crossing the driveway and asks the Planning Commission to carefully consider these issues.
Mr. Phil Lowrey of 1507 Dilloway Drive pointed out that two years ago they put an addition on the house. At that time, a Wolverine Bank property appraiser stated that the value of the home was placed approximately $10,000 lower due to heavy traffic on the street. What will adding more traffic do to property values? Regarding restricting traffic movement, people don’t follow existing speed limit signs, traveling up to 50 miles per hour, so they won’t follow directional signs. There are many issues to consider.
There being no further public comment, Commissioner Svenson stated that her initial reaction to the proposed driveway was negative. However, customers going to and from the bank already use Dilloway Drive.
Commissioner Kozakiewicz stated that he could support the proposed plan with the Denver Street access being revised. It makes sense to keep traffic increases away from Eastman if possible.
Commissioner Senesac agreed with Commissioner Kozakiewicz and noted that it is difficult to pull out of the west drive onto Denver Street and get the car perpendicular to Eastman before crossing the sidewalk. He further stated that parking on both sides of Dilloway, between the Dilloway drive and Eastman Avenue, should be eliminated. The Commission engaged in a brief discussion about alignment of the proposed Dilloway Drive with any drive that might be developed from the property south of Dilloway.
Commissioner Wieland reaffirmed the need to relocate the Denver Street entrance and eliminate parking on Dilloway. He continued by stating that the proposed Dilloway driveway will enhance safety by not forcing vehicles to rely on Eastman Avenue.
Commissioner Garner disagreed with the statement regarding safety. She noted that there will not be a crossing guard at the driveway and, therefore, it presents a hazard to children walking to school.
Commissioner Slicker noted that Eastman Avenue is a commercial street while Dilloway Drive is a residential street. The benefit should be given to the residential neighborhood, and a great disservice would be done if the commercial driveway were connected to Dilloway. Such a drive will increase traffic, induce sprawl, and drive down property values. He supports the site plan but not with the Dilloway driveway. In an all or nothing scenario, with the driveway, he is not supportive.
Commissioner Baker also feels that the proposed Dilloway driveway represents a serious encroachment into a residential area.
Commissioner Liberto indicated that he initially requested consideration of the plan without the Dilloway driveway. He has concluded that the driveway will provide a net benefit to the area. On street parking should be eliminated and the Denver Street access should be relocated.
Chairman Geisler stated that he supports the plan with the parking and Denver Street access modifications. He believes that an ingress/egress onto Dilloway will be beneficial and that the majority of traffic will move from the driveway to the Eastman Avenue intersection.
It was moved by Wieland and seconded by Senesac to recommend approval of Site Plan No. 207 to the City Council, contingent on the following: a) the west Denver Street access being relocated east to the satisfaction of City staff; b) prohibiting on-street parking on both sides of Dilloway Drive between the proposed driveway and Eastman Avenue; c) site lighting will not be cast off site.
Vote on the motion:
YEAS: Geisler, Kozakiewicz, Liberto, Senesac, Svenson, Wieland
NAYS: Baker, Garner, Slicker
Mr. Lynch stated that this recommendation would likely appear before the City Council on August 27th.
b. Access Management Language Update
Mr. Lynch presented the Planning Commission with draft text that embodies primary principles of access management in a succinct manner. Commissioners indicated that this language represents the direction Commissioners favor. Planning staff will conduct a performance review of the text and offer further recommendations regarding the language.
c. Telecommunications Facilities Regulations Update
Mark Ostgarden provided the Commission with a status report. The Planning Department is currently discussing tower location analysis with an RF Engineer. Draft text will be presented to the Commission at its August 28th meeting.
6. New Business
8. Report of the Chairman
Chairman Geisler thanked members of the Commission for selecting him to serve as chair. He also thanked Mr. Wieland for his years of service to the Planning Commission as Chairperson.
9. Report of the Planning Director
The City Council approved Zoning Petition No. 479 brought by John Popp.
On August 28th the Planning Commission will conduct a site plan review hearing for a storage building and will deliberate on the Commerce Park plat.
Seven bids have been received for the zoning/subdivision ordinance project. They range in price from $42,000 to $70,000. Members Senesac, Kozakiewicz, Garner, and Svenson will serve on a committee to determine the firms to be interviewed. Two members of the Zoning Board of Appeals will be invited to participate as well.
The Driveway Standards Committee will be called in the next several days to schedule a meeting.
Adjournment at approximately 9:10 p.m. was moved by Wieland, seconded by Garner, and unanimously approved.
Jon Lynch, AICP
Planning Commission Secretary