MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2006, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:  Eyre, Gaynor, Jocks, Kozakiewicz, Mead, Rapanos, Senesac and Svenson

ABSENT:     None

OTHERS PRESENT:  Jon Lynch, Assistant City Manager; Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Cheri Standfest, Community Development Specialist, and 13 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Regular Meeting of February 14, 2006

It was moved by Mead and supported by Eyre to approve the minutes of February 14th.  The minutes were unanimously approved. 

 

3.      Public Hearing

 

      None

 

4.   Public Comments (not related to agenda items)

 

      None

 

5.   Old Business

 

      Site Plan No. 250 – Consideration of a petition initiated by the Michigan Baseball

      Foundation to review a site plan consisting of a 3,500 seat baseball stadium on

      approximately 21 acres bounded by State Street, Buttles Street, Lyon Road and

      Dow Chemical – Michigan Operations property.

 

            Mr. Kozakiewicz requested to be allowed to abstain from deliberations this evening due to a conflict of interest.  Mr. Gaynor moved, seconded by Mr. Rapanos, to allow Mr. Kozakiewicz to abstain from deliberations on this site plan.

 

            Mr. Lynch presented an area map showing approximately 21 acres that is being

            considered for a baseball stadium.  This area is presently undeveloped.  The subject property currently falls in the community zoning classification.  This district is surrounded by regional commercial, high density residential and industrial districts. 

 

            Jon presented the site plan and the surrounding street corridors.  During the public hearing, they received 8 comments in support of the project, primarily relating to economic development for the area.  There were also two comments in opposition.  Those comments were carried forward for further examination. 

 

            Issues from the February 14th public hearing include parking utilization, neighborhood parking, emergency response, public safety, homeland security, police patrols, control of events, amplified sound, property values and infrastructure improvements.

 

            The site required 591 additional parking spaces.  Five agreements have been received addressing 971 parking spaces.  The applicable provision of the zoning ordinance allows for land uses that do not have overlapping hours of operation to utilize each others’ parking spaces.  There are 603 spaces that would be available during the hours of the use of the stadium.  Prohibition of on-street parking in impacted neighborhoods can be implemented via traffic control orders issued by the Engineering Department.  The City Engineer indicated this is fairly commonly used around public schools to control traffic and parking in the street. 

 

            Public safety personnel have met with representatives of the Michigan Baseball Foundation and The Dow Chemical Michigan Operations.  Municipal public safety officials are satisfied with evolving protocols.  Roger Garner, Emergency Services Director, submitted a letter dated February 22, 2006, regarding safety issues related to the site.  A letter has been provided in the Planning Commission packet.  The Michigan Baseball Foundation states that the facility will not be operational during periods of elevated alerts issued by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security that require activation of local security response plans.  The area will receive extra patrols by on-duty personnel.  The Police Department has not budgeted for additional manpower, but such needs could be accommodated by the existing police force. 

 

            Events at the proposed stadium will be permitted and controlled by its owner, the Michigan Baseball Foundation.  The City does not require an event related permit for the use of amplified sound from private property.  The City of Midland Assessing Department indicates that the proposed stadium will not likely have a negative impact on area property values.  The City of Midland is not prepared to raise taxes to fund improvements associated with the project.  The City will participate in funding improvements via matching grant contributions from existing resources.

 

            The Michigan Baseball Foundation does not currently plan to provide shuttle service.  The Downtown Development Authority is currently researching the feasibility of operating a trolley shuttle on event days.

 

            The Planning Commission received a landscaping plan and a modified lighting plan in their packet.  There were nine contingency items relating to the original plan.  Items #1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 have been addressed by these plans.  The remaining contingency items, numbered 3, 8 and 9 remain and City Council will have some involvement with these issues when the site plan comes before them.  The level of illumination is a review item by City Council. 

 

            Mr. Rapanos inquired about the addition of bicycle racks on the site.  Mr. Lynch stated this is something that is reviewed at the time the Certificate of Occupancy is requested.  They have indicated that they will be provided so staff will look for those details. 

 

            Peymand Zand, 3898 East Pine Hollow, Larkin Township, stated he was there to answer any questions.  Chairman Senesac asked him to address the concerns that have been raised with regard to public safety.  He stated they had their first meeting yesterday with Roger Garner and the police chief to begin addressing the needs for public safety with regard to public stadiums.  They are also working with Dow Chemical, the world’s best safety company, to help develop a plan that will meet the risk mitigation factors for the community.  The stadium is designed to have areas available for shelter in case of any weather related events.  They are going to talk to the Lansing Lugnuts regarding the need for safety-related issues. Mr. Zand stated they will definitely have bike racks located on the site.

 

            Paul Dehn – Stillwater Lane, Midland, Michigan – The safety of the community and the 4,000 people inside the fence line will be their first concern in case of any situation.  They have built in public safety variables, both internal and external to the fence line for the stadium.  They have commissioned a team of experts in the area to address the various issues to make sure they have addressed everything they can conceive of occurring.  This team will meet every three weeks throughout the development process.  Mr. Roger Garner is one of the primary contacts in this process. 

 

            Mr. Senesac asked if there might be any releases that could come across the property line.  Mr. Dehn spoke of “sheltering in place” in an all-weather enclosure would be one of their options.  He stated he really cannot answer that question, as there are too many variables that would come into play.

 

            Roger Garner stated he has had the opportunity to set down with Dow, Michigan Operations, and the Baseball Foundation, and there is a commitment on their part to sit down and do whatever is necessary to resolve any issues and to come up with an emergency plan that will meet the needs of the community.  Mr. Garner stated that he sees this as being a positive event, as there are a lot of people looking at these issues and preparing to address them in case of an emergency.  This will ultimately benefit the entire community. 

 

            Anna Marie Morgan, Fournie Street.  She lives three blocks away from the proposed site.  She stated a lot of the neighbor’s concerns have been addressed and she thanked the commission for doing this.  She is still not convinced that all the parking needs have been addressed and she feels this will be an issue for the surrounding neighborhoods.  She is concerned that perhaps there would be a bar located near the stadium and that the neighbors will be subjected to vandalism and lewd behavior by the patrons of the bars around the stadium.  She stated that, since they do not plan to increase the number of police on duty, this is even more of a concern.  If they have rock concerts, there could be even more concern for the safety of the children in the surrounding neighborhoods.  Traffic congestion is also still a concern.  She stated they petitioned the city to have parking on only one side of their street.  Signs have been posted.  However, people still park on both sides of the street.  People also leave trash around where they park.  This contributes to the deterioration of their neighborhood.  Noise from the stadium is also a concern.  The neighborhood was subjected to noise almost all last summer during the excavation of soil for the new water line that was laid along Patrick Road.  There will be noise during the construction phase and then noise from the ballpark and rock concerts that occur in the stadium.  When will games be scheduled?  What about the elderly residents of Riverside Place?  They, too, are on the front lines.  They are also concerned about property values in the neighborhood.  This is one of the older sections of Midland and there are many working individuals who live here.  She is wondering how some of the profits from the stadium, mentioned by Mike Hayes at the public hearing, will be funneled back into the community. 

 

            Ms. Morgan stated she distributed flyers this weekend to her neighbors.  She stated they are afraid to speak out against this for fear of losing their jobs.  They perceive the stadium as being a “done deal” and so why bother.  She stated that she feels everyone had the right to be heard and we were currently being asked how we see the community in the next 20 years.  Why not do something about it now?  They trust in the integrity of the community leaders to uphold the quality of life in the community for all the citizens of Midland.

 

            Doug  Schlosser - Mill Street.  He still has concerns about the number of needed parking spaces.  The City parking ordinance states that, in a situation where two businesses can share parking due to differing business hours, it is permissible.  However, he does not think there are enough parking spaces provided for the numbers of people who will be attending events at this stadium.  There needs to be more regulation of parking on the streets and really review the numbers of parking spaces required.  He does not feel the 1200 parking spaces to be provided to be adequate. 

 

            Anna Morgan – Mill Street – Ms. Morgan showed a pie chart showing Dow Chemical Company, the Downtown merchants, the Baseball Foundation and the residents of Ward 2.  She feels the first three entities have been addressed.  She also wants to ensure that the local residents are heard.

 

            Peymand Zand stated he has met with the Lansing Lugnuts on several occasions.  There is a total transformation of the area, and this is a valid concern.  However, the 5,000 people who will be there will be families who are there to enjoy the game.  They have started to look at some of the fundamental issues of prevention for issues which might occur in areas which serve alcohol.  They have hired experts in this field to come in and provide training and ideas on how to handle these types of situations.  If Mr. Zand is going to take his children to a game here, he definitely wants to ensure that it is a healthy environment for those who attend these events.  They have gone to great length that their noise levels are within acceptable ranges.  They will have very sophisticated sound systems that will help contain the noise from the stadium.  There are 70 games scheduled throughout the year.  Some of the games are on the weekends and some are in the evenings.  This is intended to be a 501 C (3), or a charitable organization.  The profits will be channeled back into the community.  Uses for these funds will be determined in the future.  The stadium will provide entertainment and value to the community and the profits there from will be channeled back into the community.

 

            David Morgan – 807 Fournie Street.  He would like to know how many non-baseball events will be scheduled during the year.  He stated that Mr. Zand indicated there would be 70 baseball games scheduled during the year. 

 

            Mr. Zand stated they have not planned for any other events as of this time.  The baseball players will be expected to get onto the field and practice.  However, this would probably be done during the day. 

 

            Mr. Mead stated he thinks there are some issues that he is still unsure about.  How do we plan for traffic?  Do we plan for peak traffic times?  Do we plan for the maximum security needed?  He feels they should depend on the “experts” to advise them that these issues will be appropriately handled.  Mr. Garner has assured them that these issues will be dealt with.  There is little more risk here than things people deal with every day when they deal with rush hour traffic and going out to the mall.  It seems people have looked at these issues and he feels it is in the best interest of the city to support this in any way we can.

 

            Mr. Eyre stated he is in agreement with Mr. Mead.  He feels staff has answered all the questions that came up at the public hearing.  He thinks parking may become a problem, but that will have to be dealt with after we see what the magnitude of these problems are.

 

            Mr. Gaynor stated he feels the problems have been dealt with and he feels this project will be a real boon to the community.  This is a great source of civic pride.  He is in total support.

 

            Ms. Svenson felt their questions were answered.  However, there should be an open dialogue between the community and the baseball foundation to address any concerns that come up along the way.

 

            Mr. Rapanos stated he feels the planning commission’s role is to address this site plan and to address the issues that may arise.  This will be an ongoing process as the project develops.  He does not think all the problems can be addressed in the site plan review and that will be the end of them.  He thinks the problems can be addressed as they arise and this will be an on-going process.  He thinks everything is headed in the right direction.  The baseball foundation and the City of Midland have been working together and will continue to work together and this will be a good project for the city. 

 

            Mr. Jocks stated he agrees with everything that has been said.  There are always ongoing issues, but the work that is going on with the baseball foundation, the city, and industry is a good partnership and this is a benefit for the community.  He is in full support.

 

            Mr. Senesac stated this is a fabulous opportunity.  There will be a lot of positive coming out of it.  However, he has to look at the site plan and evaluate it on its merits.  He feels that there probably will be problems that come up, but people will address these issues as they arise and the city will address these issues.  One of his primary concerns after the public hearing was safety.  He feels these concerns have been addressed tonight.  Over half of the contingencies have been taken off the list and that is a sign of people working together.

 

            It was moved by Svenson and supported by Gaynor to recommend approving Site

            Plan No. 250 with the following contingencies:  (#3, #8 & #9) 

 

            1.         Lot combinations must be completed prior to issuance of a building permit.

            2.         City Council approval of field lights mounted on 120’ tall mast.

      3.         On site signage complies with provisions of Article 8.00 of the Zoning

                  Ordinance.

 

            The motion was unanimously approved, with Mr. Kozakiewicz abstaining.

 

6.  New Business

    

     None

  

7.  Communications

 

     None

 

8.  Report of the Chairman

 

    None

 

9.  Report of the Planning Director

 

            CITY COUNCIL                                                                                                                

 

February 20th

                                PUBLIC HEARINGS

                                None

 

                                ACTION ITEMS

§         Receive proposals for reuse and / or redevelopment of the Midland Civic Arena. (presentations March 20th)

§         Receive a report outlining public input opportunities associated with the Master Plan.

§         Approve projected socio-economic data related to transportation demand model being developed by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

 

March 6th

                                PUBLIC HEARINGS

§         Rezoning, Zoning Petition No. 527 – Public hearing for consideration of a petition initiated by Midland County to rezone approximately 30 acres located at 4600 Bay City Road from Agriculture to Community zoning.

 

                                ACTION ITEMS

§         Site Plan No. 250 – Consideration of site plan approval for a 3,500 seat baseball stadium located at 825 East Main Street, submitted by the Michigan Baseball Foundation.

 

PLANNING COMMISSION

               

March 14th

                                PUBLIC HEARINGS

§         Rezoning, Zoning Petition No. 528 – Public hearing for consideration of a petition initiated by Michael Rapanos to rezone approximately 11 acres located at 4124 Waldo Avenue from Residential A-4 to Residential B zoning.

 

                                ACTION ITEMS

None

 

March 28th

                                PUBLIC HEARINGS

None

 

                                ACTION ITEMS

Zoning Petition No. 528

 

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

 

February 21st

 

Cancelled

       

PENDING ADMINISTRATIVE SITE PLAN REVIEWS

 

None

 

 

DIRECTOR’S NOTES

 

§         There are currently 25 Meetings in a Box scheduled.

§         Town hall Meetings in a Box take place at City Hall on March 22 and 23 at 7:00 PM.

 

10.  Adjourn

Adjournment at approximately 8:25 PM and unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Jon Lynch

Assistant City Manager

 

MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION