MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

JULY 10, 2007, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:  Brown, Eyre, Gaynor, Hanna, Kozakiewicz, Mead, Senesac and Svenson

VACANY:     One

ABSENT:    None

OTHERS PRESENT:  Keith Baker, Director of Planning & Community Development, Daryl Poprave, Deputy Planning Director; Cheri King, Community Development Specialist and 38 others.

 

2.      Election of Officers

 

The nominating committee recommended Carol Svenson for Chairperson and Scott Gaynor for Vice Chair.  Motion by Hanna, seconded by Senesac to cast a unanimous ballot for these nominations.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

3.   Approval of Minutes

Regular Meeting of June 26, 2007.

It was moved by Senesac and supported by Eyre to approve the minutes of June 26, 2007.  The minutes were unanimously approved as corrected on page 2, first paragraph.

 

4.   Public Hearing

 

      a.   Zoning Text Amendment No. 145A – Initiated by Michael Bensinger of Otto, Bensinger and Dice Architects, to consider the inclusion of “Child Care Centers” as a Principal Permitted Use in the Office Service district in the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance.

 

      This amendment would permit “Child Care Centers” as a principal permitted use in an Office Service District.  Mr. Poprave reviewed the criteria for a Zoning Text Amendment.  The Office Service land use category serves as a buffer between residential uses and higher commercial uses of land.  The petitioner is proposing to locate a child care center on the property which is located in both RA-1 and OS.  The petitioner points out that day care centers are permitted via conditional use in both residential and commercial districts and they need to be permitted by right in office service because this is a transitional district which is neither fully residential nor commercial in nature.  The amendment will not grant special privileges to the petitioner as any child care center owner could utilize this text.  Staff recommends that the Planning Commission recommend approval of this zoning text amendment to the Midland City Council as presented.  Child care centers are allowed by conditional use in both residential districts and commercial districts.  With this zoning text amendment, they would be allowed by right in office service districts. 

 

      Mike Bensinger, the petitioner and owner of the building, stated that 12 children are allowed in a “child care facility”.  If the entire building were occupied, it could contain up to 45 children.  Office Service would seem to be the most appropriate use for this type of activity.  Residential is less intensive use and commercial is a more intensive use, both by conditional use permit, so it would seem most logical that office service would allow this as a principal permitted use.  It appeared that it was mistakenly left out of the new zoning ordinance.  It was allowed in the office service zoning district in the old zoning ordinance.

 

      No one spoke either in favor of or in opposition to this request.  There were some written comments submitted and copies of these were provided to the Planning Commission.

 

      b.   Conditional Use Permit No. 24 – The request of Michael Bensinger for an existing office building to be used as a child care center and office at 2515 Ashman Street.  This property is located in an Office Service and Residential A-1 zoning district.

 

      Mr. Senesac stated he felt there was no documentation to support the petitioner’s request.  He felt there was not enough information in their packets to be able to hold a public hearing.  Mr. Baker suggested that, since the public hearing had already been published and the public was informed that they could provide information at the meeting tonight.

 

      Mr. Bensinger of Otto, Bensinger & Dice Architects has petitioned the City of Midland for a conditional use permit to allow a child care center at 2515 Ashman Street.  This property is located in RA-1 Residential District and the Office Service District.  Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph.  The property is located north and west of Ashman Street.  It is almost at the corner of Nelson and Ashman Streets.  The existing land use map identifies this as an office service use in its existing format and it is surrounded almost exclusively by residential uses.  The parcel is split.  The front 1/3 is zoned office service and the back 2/3 is zoned residential.  This abuts the border of the single family residential area on Ashman Street.  The petitioner submitted a site drawing that shows the building, approximate location of the parking and existing hedges and a fence along the northwest side of the property.  Child care centers are currently not permitted in the office service district.  The petitioner has informed the city that his tenant is applying for a State of Michigan Child Care License.  A site plan is not required in this case, because the petitioner is seeking to utilize an existing building, with no new construction taking place.  The Fire Dept. has stated they believe there is adequate access to this site for their fire apparatus. 

 

      Ms. Hanna asked whether there will be 12 children or up to 45 children.  The petitioner initially stated there would be 12 children.  The parking is based upon the potential for 45 children, through the state licensing procedures. 

 

      Several letters were received from surrounding property owners stating that there is a storm drain and water in this area.  Mr. Senesac wondered how this would affect the use of this property. 

 

      Mike Bensinger, of Otto, Bensinger & Dice Architects, spoke as the petitioner.  This is an entirely existing facility and they are planning to use it as it currently exists.  There is no trigger on this property for a site plan review.  They are asking for a use, not increased development.  There are other agencies involved with the use of this facility besides the Planning Commission.  This includes the State of Michigan Department of Human Services, which also oversees this type of use.  This meets the definition of a “child care facility” with 12 children.  If they would grow and occupy the entire building, it could accommodate up to 45 children under State regulations. 

 

      Mr. Mead asked how long Mr. Bensinger’s company has owned this building.  Mr. Bensinger stated they have owned this building for about 10 years and they have occupied a portion of the building during this entire time.  Right now, about a third of the building is Mr. Bensinger’s office, about a third of the building is leased to another tenant and about a third is vacant.  If the child care facility were to move in, they would occupy the third of the building that is currently vacant.  Mr. Bensinger showed a floor plan of the building.  There are two entrances to where the child care facility would be located in the building. 

 

      John Rule and his wife are the owners of Rule Child Care.  If they were to put an outdoor play area on this property, they would make it a completely enclosed area.  It would go along the existing fence line and then west to the tree line, where they would completely enclose this area.  They currently have 12 children in their in-home daycare.  They are looking to start out with leasing 1000 square feet.  Their expected hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

 

      No one spoke in favor of this petition.  Rebecca Cox, 300 Richard Court, spoke in opposition to this request.  There is a drain on the rear of the property, and they believe this drain is a safety hazard.  There is standing water during all but the hottest months of the year.  It attracts vermin, mosquitoes, and they have found dead animals floating in the water.  They have seen neighborhood children go back into this area to play.  The standing water is a drowning hazard as it is not covered.  There is an open hole there.  This hole is large enough that a child could fall down into it.  It is an area that a child easily could get caught in.  If the drain was repaired, she would support the request. 

 

5.   Public Comments (not related to agenda items)

 

      None


 

6.   New Business

 

      None

 

7.   Old Business

     

      a.   Harcrest Woods PUD #2 – a request by Robert Nowak, on behalf of

            Harcrest Woods Condominium Association, for an amendment to Planned Unit Development No. 2, Harcrest Woods Condominiums, to install traffic control gates at the east entrance of the complex (Harcrest Drive just west of Thornberry Drive), in accord with the provisions of Article 24, Section 24.06D of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Midland.

 

            Mr. Baker showed an aerial photo of the subject property.  There are two entrances to this condominium association.  The property is currently zoned RA-4.  It is bounded by Residential RA-1 to the south and west and medium density to the northeast.  There is a turn-around at the west end of the property.  The proposed location of the gates both for ingress and egress is at the east side of the development, near Eastman Avenue.  Several communications were received relative to this PUD amendment.  There was a letter from the Harcrest Woods Condominium Association stating there may be a delay in responding to any emergency if the gate is installed.  Staff recommends an affirmative vote regarding this petition. 

 

            Mike Cronenberger spoke on behalf of the petitioners.  He stated he has no new information.

 

            Mr. Mead stated he has made several trips to this area, as his office is not far from here.  He has not seen a great deal of traffic cutting through this area.  He would be more in favor of putting a gate at the west end rather than at the east end of the development.  The gate could go before the turn-around and large vehicles could use the turn-around to their advantage.  He is concerned about American Express trucks and furniture delivery trucks and how they would proceed into this area.

 

            Ms. Brown stated she has not noticed a significant amount of traffic in this area.

 

            Mr. Kozakiewicz stated he would support the installation of a gate.  He has supported it in the past.  Putting the gate on the other side does not alleviate traffic cutting through the development. 

 

            Mr. Eyre stated he is concerned about the delay for emergency vehicles.  There are eight houses from Harcrest to Schade Drive and they would see a traffic increase in the service vehicles that serve the condominium association because it is the only way to get in and to get out. 

 

            Mr. Gaynor stated this was a tough decision for him.  He has a problem putting up gates in the City of Midland.  He lives in that part of town and he has observed traffic in this area.  He stated he saw more pedestrians and animals than he saw cars.  Just to the west of Schade Drive is Schade West, which also contains condominiums.  He finds it difficult to believe that contractors would cut through there.  The police reports indicate that there have only been two motor vehicle accidents in this area and he feels the gate would be detrimental to this area.

 

            Ms. Hanna stated there are other ways to do traffic calming and she would not support having a gate installed at this time.  She thought perhaps a traffic study would be appropriate.

 

            Mr. Senesac stated he has to go to a stop light to get out of his neighborhood.  He looks at this and sees a private neighborhood with winding and narrow streets.  The people in this neighborhood tend to be retired people.  He feels there are some safety hazards that need to be addressed and he thinks that cars do cut through there.  He is in favor of it.  He would also like to see them look at putting the gate on the west end rather than the east end.  There are some advantages to having the gate on the west side. 

 

            Ms. Svenson stated this is a very private community with no sidewalks.  If you live in the city, you have to put up with some of the city problems which means traffic.  She stated this is also a difficult decision for her.

 

      It was moved by Mead and seconded by Senesac to recommend City Council approval of the amendment to Planned United Development #2:

 

            YEA:          Kozakiewicz and Senesac

            NAY:         Brown, Eyre, Gaynor, Hanna, Mead, and Svenson

            ABSENT:  None         

 

            The motion was denied 2-6.  

 

b.      Zoning Text Amendment No. 144A – initiated by Mid-Michigan Energy, LLC to consider the inclusion of “Electrical generating stations” as a Principal Permitted Use in the Industrial B district in the city of Midland Zoning Ordinance.

 

Mr. Poprave reviewed the criteria.  The proposed amendment is consistent with the Master Plan.  There was a mistake made in the Zoning Ordinance that justifies the amendment as electric generating stations were previously a permitted use in the Industrial B District and it was omitted in the new zoning ordinance.  The amendment would correct an inequity created by the zoning ordinance.  It will not grant special privileges to the petitioner as any electrical generating station could utilize this text.  Staff recommends that the Planning Commission recommend approval of this zoning text amendment to City Council.

 

Janet Vanderpool spoke on behalf of the petitioner.  They are asking for Industrial B zoning to permit an electrical generating plant to be built.  In the last revision of the ordinance, this was evidently dropped from the zoning ordinance.  MCV is located in an Industrial B zoning district.  No one spoke either in favor of or in opposition to this request with new information.

 

Mr. Senesac stated it was evidently an oversight in the writing of the new ordinance and he would support it.  Mr. Kozakiewicz concurred. 

 

Mr. Gaynor stated he thought it should be allowed in the Industrial B zoning district by Conditional Use Permit.  That way the Planning Commission could turn it down if it did not fit in a particular location.

 

Mr. Mead stated he would be in favor of this proposal as any development such as this would require site plan review where they could look at how it would fit in with the surrounding properties.  He agrees that it was probably an oversight when the zoning ordinance was revised.

 

Ms. Brown stated she is in agreement with Mr. Gaynor.  She does not want to approve something that is an open book that later on they would regret.   The production of chemicals and chemical plants are principal permitted uses in both the Industrial A and Industrial B zoning districts. 

 

Ms. Hanna stated she that she would support this whichever way this goes, but she would like to exclude the nuclear plants from this use. 

 

      It was moved by Kozakiewicz and seconded by Senesac to recommend City Council approval of the Zoning Text Amendment No. 144A:

     

            YEA:          Eyre, Kozakiewicz, Mead and  Senesac 

            NAY:          Brown, Gaynor, Hanna, and Svenson

            ABSENT:  None

 

            Motion denied 4-4.

 

      It was moved by Gaynor and seconded by Brown to recommend City Council approval of the Zoning Text Amendment No. 144A but only by conditional use permit.

 

            YEA:           Brown, Eyre, Gaynor, Hanna, and  Svenson

            NAY:           Kozakiewicz, Mead and Senesac

            ABSENT:   None

 

            The motion was approved 5-3.

 

c.      ZP #542 – initiated by Mid-Michigan Energy, LLC for property owned by the City of Midland to zone property on 4389 South Saginaw Road, west of Waldo Avenue from Residential A-1 to Industrial B.

 

Mr. Baker showed an aerial photograph showing the approximately five acres, near the intersection of Waldo Road and South Saginaw Road.  The property is currently owned by the City of Midland and optioned to Midland Tomorrow.  It is currently zoned RA-1, bounded to the east by additional RA-1, to the south RA-1, and to the north and west by Industrial A and B.  The city’s boat launch is across Saginaw Road.  There is residential land uses on Waldo Court.  The current land use map shows the land identified as industrial with community or recreational open space across South Saginaw Road and across Waldo Road. 

 

Mr. Baker reviewed the rezoning evaluation criteria.  The proposed amendment is consistent with the city’s master plan.  Staff recommends an affirmative vote regarding this zoning petition. 

 

Rich Fosgitt, Wilcox Professional Services, stated he would answer any questions on behalf of the petitioner.  There were no questions for Mr. Fosgitt.

 

Daryl Zelenak, 4309 Brambleridge, stated there are several points including a negative socio-economic impact of this project.  We are not desperate for jobs in this community.  How are companies going to recruit quality employees to this area with such a detriment to this area?  He commends Dow Chemical Company for their goals to decrease global warming and cleaning up the local environment.  He feels a coal plant will chase away people who are needed by local businesses.  Who is going to shoulder the bills for increasing costs of health care here in Midland?  Does the city have a plan for the economic impact of this coal burning plant on this community? 

 

            David Brausch, 106 Coventry Court, stated when a recruiter from Dow or Dow Corning goes to a college campus, they are asked about the Midland Community.  Midland is a good place to raise a family.  We are concerned about the health and safety of our residents.  Another concern is innovation, recreation and the environment.  These are some of our core values.  The proposed coal plant goes against a lot of these values.  It uses old technology.  This will cause a lot of health problems.  It will increase the smog, which will increase the numbers of people with asthma in this area.  Coal plants also put out a lot of mercury.  This affects children and can cause neurological disorders. 

 

            Lori Franson, 221 Helen Street, stated the proposed zoning does not meet the goals of the city.  Down the road is a school, there are agricultural fields in this area, and there is a boat launch in this area.  This would only be about 200 feet from some residences.  The river across the street is already being cleaned. 

 

            Suzette Zelenak, 4309 Brambleridge, stated the best option would be to make it a 35 acre light industrial parcel and then pursue other economic uses.  She claims they will be using old technology, not new technology.  There are other coal burning plants being proposed in Alma and Roger City. 

 

            Nancy Janoch, 1806 Wyllys Street, showed pictures of some of the residences that are in the area next to the proposed rezoning.  They are the first four homes that are right next to this area.  These are actual people we are talking about.  This property may be rezoned from Residential A-1 to Industrial B.  It is next to very nice homes occupied by families.  It is extremely unusual for property to be rezoned from RA-1 to IB.  Rezoning will open the door to a wide variety of unknowns.  Midland is past the era of wiping fly ash off their cars in the morning.  Many residents are surprised that they are just learning about this proposal.  The possible uses for this land will create many changes in this area including increased traffic and increased pollution of this area.  Please do not rush this rezoning through without doing a thorough background check about the affects of this proposed rezoning.  Many residents are currently on vacation and they will be uninformed about the affects of this rezoning.

 

            Motion by Mead, seconded by Kozakiewicz to extend the meeting past 9:30 p.m.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

            Charlene Kruger, 4350 Frances Shores Avenue in Sanford, stated that the Planning Commission stated they could refuse something that would propose a health or safety issue to the community.

 

            Scott Walker, Midland Tomorrow, stated they intend to fully market this property to any industrial use.  The amount of industrial property located in the City of Midland is very limited.  Much of the vacant industrial property in the city contains wetlands.  The Planning Commission will have the opportunity to review site plans in the future for any proposed use on this property.  The proposed plant is part of a very heavily regulated industry and they have limits on the amount of emissions they are allowed to discharge.

 

            Daryl Zelenak, 4309 Brambleridge, stated as a physician, he is concerned  about the physical effects of a coal generated plant.

 

            Ms. Svenson stated that the Planning Commission can only consider the rezoning of the subject property, not what is going to be built upon this property. 

 

            Olga Fagan, 3206 Applewood, stated she concurs with Mr. Zelenak.  Why are they desiring to rezone land from RA-1 to IB?  This is quite a change in land use.  This is only a five-acre parcel.  It is critical that it retain its green space character.  Why not just leave this land alone?  The homes that were built there are established residential homes and have been there for quite some time.  Not paying attention to the existing residents is being irresponsible.

 

            Rich Fosgitt stated that there has been a lot of concern about this five acre parcel.  This parcel is currently encumbered by a high voltage transmission line.  There is a significant easement that goes with it that would prevent a tall structure from being built there.  Originally, Waldo Road ran down where Waldo Court is today.  It was later bisected and created a different atmosphere in this area.  The zoning ordinance permits for berming, screening, and for buffering between this area and the surrounding residential areas.

 

            Mr. Kozakiewicz stated that based upon the recommendation of city staff, it is supported by both the current master plan and the proposed master plan.  When the Planning Commission went through the process of updating the master plan, they determined that region should be industrial.  There were many opportunities for public input and consultants assisted.  They made a commitment for the new master plan to zone this as industrial.  Mr. Eyre was in agreement.  This is a small parcel of land, especially due to the high voltage power line running through there.  It will never be used for a residential purpose.

 

            Mr. Senesac stated that by State law, they are obligated to act on this within 45 days.  The fact that there is a proposed coal burning plant being proposed for this property, that does not enter into the consideration of rezoning this property.  He is in support of the rezoning and is in agreement with Mr. Kozakiewicz.

 

            Mr. Mead stated that because it fits in with the current master plan and the proposed master plan, and that this land is not suitable for housing, he is in support of this rezoning.  Also, they have not heard directly from any of the property owners surrounding this land.

 

            Ms. Hanna stated that perhaps this little island has been forgotten over the years and that she would vote in favor of this rezoning.

 

            Ms. Svenson stated there are too many things she is not sure she would want to see there so she will recommend denial.

 

      It was moved by Mead and seconded by Eyre to recommend City Council approval of Zoning Petition No. 542 by Mid-Michigan Energy, LLC for property owned by the City of Midland to zone property at 4389 South Saginaw Road, west of Waldo Avenue from Residential A-1 to Industrial B.

     

            YEA:                Brown, Eyre, Gaynor, Hanna, Kozakiewicz, Mead and Senesac

            NAY:                Svenson

            ABSENT:         None

 

            The motion was approved 7-1.

 

d.      ZP #543 – initiated by Mid-Michigan Energy, LLC for property by The Dow  Chemical Company to zone property at 4249 South Saginaw Road, west of Waldo Avenue from Industrial A to Industrial B.

 

Mr. Baker showed an aerial photo of the proposed property, currently owned by the Dow Chemical Company.  The current land use map shows this area as industrial and is currently vacant.  The criteria for this request are the same as for the prior zoning petition.     Staff recommends approval of this rezoning for the same reasons as the prior petition.

 

Mr. Senesac stated he will support this for the same reasons as the prior petition.  Mr. Gaynor and Mr. Eyre agree.  They are consistent with the current and proposed master plans.  

 

      It was moved by Eyre and seconded by Brown to recommend City Council approval of Zoning Petition No. 543 by Mid-Michigan Energy, LLC for property owned by The Dow Chemical Company to zone property at 4249 South Saginaw Road, west of Waldo Avenue from Industrial A to Industrial B:

     

            YEA:                Brown, Eyre, Gaynor, Hanna, Kozakiewicz, Mead, Senesac and Svenson

            NAY:                None

            ABSENT:         None

 

            The motion was approved 8-0.

 

8.  Communications

 

      The Planning Commission received the Planning & Zoning News plus other correspondence at their desk.

 

9.      Report of the Chairman  

 

They were still waiting for comments and changes to the Zoning Ordinance. 

    

10.  Report of the Planning Director

 

CITY COUNCIL                                                                                              

 

July 9th 

                        PUBLIC HEARINGS                None

                        ACTION ITEMS                       None

 

July 23rd 

                        PUBLIC HEARINGS                None

                        ACTION ITEMS                       None

 

PLANNING COMMISSION

 

July 24th    

            PUBLIC HEARING

 

1.   Zoning Petition No. 544, initiated by the Greater Midland Community Centers, Inc. for property located at 2009, 2021, 2025, 2105, 2111, 2113 Jefferson Avenue from Residential A-4 to Community

 

ACTION ITEMS          

 

1.      Conditional Use Permit No. 24, the request of Michael Bensinger for an existing office building to be used as a child care center and office at 2515 Ashman Street.  This property is located in an Office Service and Residential A-1 zoning district.

 

2.      Zoning Text Amendment No. 145A, initiated by Michael Bensinger of Otto, Bensinger and Dice Architects, to consider the inclusion of “Child Care Centers” as a Principal Permitted Use in the Office Service district in the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance.

 

3.      Stormwater Management Presentation by City of Midland Engineering Department. 

 

4.      Zoning Code Amendments – Continue discussion and review of proposed amendments to the City of Midland Zoning Code.

 

August 14th

            PUBLIC HEARING      None

            ACTION ITEMS          

 

1.   Zoning Petition No. 544, initiated by the Greater Midland Community Centers, Inc. for property located at 2009, 2021, 2025, 2105, 2111, 2113 Jefferson Avenue from Residential A-4 to Community

 

2.   Master Plan Discussion, presented by the city’s planning consulting firm LSL, to review and discuss comments received during the 90 day public review period and remainder of the master plan adoption schedule. 

             

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

 

July 17, 2007 Meeting Canceled.

 

PENDING ADMINISTRATIVE SITE PLAN REVIEWS

 

   None. 

 

DIRECTOR’S NOTES

 

July 24, 2007 is next the regular Planning Commission meeting. 

 

The public can view the Master Plan Update by accessing the City’s website at www.midland-mi.org and going to the Master Plan Update link on the homepage.

 

11.  Adjourn

Adjournment at 9:58 p.m. was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Keith Baker

Director of Planning and Community Development

 

MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION