MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

MARCH 25, 2008, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

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

ABSENT:    (none)

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director; Daryl Poprave, Deputy Planning Director; Cheri King, Community Development Specialist.

 

Motion by Eyre, seconded by Hanna to dispense with the 9:30 meeting ending time.  Motion passed 8-1 (Mr. Mead voted against).

 

2.    Approval of Minutes

Moved by Kozakiewicz, seconded by Hanna, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of March 11, 2008 as corrected. Motion passed unanimously.

 

3.   Public Hearing

 

      a.   Zoning Petition No. 549, initiated by Kevin Roeder for property located at 215 Fast Ice Drive from Agricultural to Limited Commercial Manufacturing and Research (LCMR).

 

            Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  It is located south of Bay City Road on Fast Ice Drive, east of a mobile home park and an apartment complex, and due west of the future Midland County Jail.  It is zoned Agricultural.  It borders Community zoned property, to the north and west are additional agriculturally zoned properties.  The property on the northeast side is also zoned Community Commercial.  The future land use identifies this property as being zoned light industrial.  This classification compliments the LCMR District, as well as the Industrial A.  The petitioner’s drawing shows it is an 11.53 acre site.  The property is presently undeveloped.  Most of the surrounding properties are vacant.  The property to the east is currently being developed as the Midland County Jail and the Midland Civic Arena is to the north.  This rezoning is consistent with the city’s Master Plan.  Fast Ice Drive was constructed in 2005-2006 and it does have full utilities.  The city is encouraging the use of the available utilities on this street.  The development of this property will be a medium to large size industrial use.  No zoning designations have been changed in this area since the Master Plan has been adopted. 

 

            LCMR is a transitional zone between less intensive uses and the Industrial zoned areas.  The rezoning is consistent with the future land use plan.  LCMR is compatible with the industrial zoning to the north, but is less compatible with the agricultural, community and regional commercial zoning to the north.  It is undetermined whether this zoning will develop into a trend in this area.  The developer may wish to create a planned unit development for this area and this would take care of the number of different zoning classifications in this area.

 

            Kevin Roeder, 5901 Partridge Lane, Midland, is the petitioner.  About three years ago they petitioned the city for an industrial facility tax exemption for their facility on Wackerly Street.  At the time of that request, it was designed to help them grow their business.  At that time, they predicted they would add between 50 and 75 jobs in the City of Midland.  As of today, they now have about 155 employees, almost 90 percent at that location.  At this time, they are looking to place a brand new facility at this site.  They plan to house a multi-specialty pharmacy.  It is designed to deliver pharmaceuticals to non-traditional sites.  They will also be adding additional services, but they will also be adding new technology such as “infusion”, robotics, and mail order contracts.  Their projections are, over the next five years they would like to be operating 24 hours per day, seven days per week.  They would run three shifts and employ up to 400 full time employees.  Those positions are moderate to well-paying high tech jobs and most of their hiring has been from the Tri-Cities area.  They plan to continue that trend.  They are committed to using local contractors and have already chosen a general contractor from this area.  Thanks to the work at Midland Tomorrow, they have decided to stay in the Midland area and they feel this will be the right location to grow their company.  This area offers the acreage to grow the company and feel the climate with the other large employers in the area, that they will fit right in and help diversify the business community as the company grows.  This development will replace the Wackerly site.  Their business has tripled in the past three years and every month they are not able to operate at a higher level is a cost to the business.

 

            Alex Irigoyen, 3717 Woodlawn, stated they are developing the rest of the area around this site.  He is asking the Commission to support this rezoning as it will fit in nicely with this area and they feel it will be an asset and help this area develop. 

 

            Bob Belfit, 804 Crescent Drive, has lived in Midland over 51 years.  He is here to express his support for the coal-fired plant.  The chairman asked him to wait until we have discussion for the coal-fired plant.

 

            No one spoke in opposition to this zoning petition.  The public hearing was closed.

 

4.   Public Comments (not related to agenda items)

 

      None

                                                                     

5.   New Business

 

      None

 

6.    Old Business

 

a.    Site Plan No. 274 from Wilcox Professional Services, LLC on behalf of Mid-Michigan Energy, LLC, a request for site plan review and approval for an electrical generating station located at 4201 South Saginaw Road on 132.27 acres. 

 

Mr. Baker presented an aerial photograph of the subject site.  The property is at the northeast intersection of S. Saginaw Road and Waldo Avenue.  The property is currently zoned Industrial B.  There are adjoining industrial districts, including Industrial A to the south, Industrial B to the south and south west and residential along Waldo Court and S. Saginaw Road.  This property is currently vacant.  Gerace Construction is to the north, the Dow landfill is to the northeast, there is vacant land to the south and southwest, the boat launch, and residential to the east on Waldo Court and S. Saginaw Road and the MCV Cooling pond to the southwest.  The city’s master plan identifies this land for heavy industrial use, including the properties on three sides.  Properties to the south and southeast are designated for residential.  A colored rendering of the proposed site plan was presented. 

 

This is a request for an electric generating station on 132.27 acres.  It is currently zoned Industrial B, including Zoning Petitions #542 and #543.  The use was allowed by Zoning Text Amendment #144A.  Section 27.06 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines standards for site plan review including, but not limited to adequacy of information, site design characteristics, appearance, compliance with district regulations, preservation of natural features, pedestrian circulation, vehicular circulation, parking, drainage, soil erosion, health and safety concerns, sequence of development, coordination with adjacent sites and signage. 

 

Additional new information submitted for Planning Commission review included Planning Department staff memorandum, Engineering Department traffic issues memorandum, Utilities Department landfill issues memorandum, Mid-Michigan Energy written correspondence and public correspondence received since the March 11, 2008 public hearing. 

 

With the exception of the areas of jurisdiction noted above for local review, the City of Midland does not have jurisdiction or regulatory authority over any aspect of the environmental impact of the proposed power plant.  The city has and continues to review the project in the context of zoning (land use designation) and site plan review (site development characteristics).

 

Contingencies proposed by the Planning Department were reviewed.  Staff recommends approval with the stated contingencies and any additional contingencies identified by the Planning Commission as it relates to the physical characteristics or development of the project or property.

 

Mrs. Hanna asked about the report from the Assistant City Engineer regarding the improvements to Ashman and Waldo Avenue.  Mr. Maki stated they would widen the radius of a right turn onto Ashman Street.  When making a left turn, trucks have more room to do so.  The ability of the traffic to go back and forth through this corridor would only be affected by right turning trucks. 

 

Ms. Brown asked about the train traffic.  Mr. Maki stated there would be a review prior to the final decisions about that issue.

 

Janet Vanderpool, LS Power, represented Mid-Michigan Energy.  Last week, they submitted answers to the questions that were raised at the public hearing on March 11, 2008.  Regarding carbon capture and sequestration technology, currently, technology is not available for this type of project.  However, there is research ongoing that would potentially address this issue.  However, they are years away from the carbon capture solution.  They are reserving space on the site for carbon sequestration and capturing for when these technologies become available.  Future carbon capturing and sequestration equipment locations have not been shown, as technologies for this have not been completely developed.  Mid-Michigan Energy is not proposed to be a merchant plant, rather, their approach is to secure long term power agreements.  Their customers have the choice to buy power from them or not.  If the plant is not successful, they will absorb that cost – not the rate payers.  The source of fuel is from the Powder River Basin, in Wyoming, delivered every other day via coal trains consisting of 120-130 rail cars.  A biomass dome has been provided on the site plan.  The ash from the burning of the coal is considered non-hazardous waste.  Procedures are in place to ensure the landfill is appropriate to accept these waste products.  Mid-Michigan Energy will work with the City of Midland to address the potential problems with traffic both at the intersection of Waldo Avenue and Ashman Street and Waldo Avenue and S. Saginaw Road. 

 

They are required to obtain numerous state and federal permits prior to construction of this plant.  They have filed an application for their air permit with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  There will be numerous opportunities for public comment during these permit approval processes.  Their air modeling permit application requires that they do several analyses and models to determine their levels of ambient air quality and their relation to the national levels of air quality standards.  Air modeling includes current model levels of this plant and show that their worst case scenario falls significantly below the levels identified by EPA and MDEQ as safe.  This will not pose a health risk to school children in the surrounding community. 

 

The proposed facility will use about 9.5 million gallons of water per day.  The processed wastewater will be released under an NPDES permit, which will define allowable wastewater quality conditions.

 

Mr. Kozakiewicz asked about the new technology.  Some of the comments from the public hearing stated that once this plant is built, we will be stuck with it for the next 50 years.  What is the procedure for implementing new technology?  Ms. Vanderpool stated that when state and federal regulations change, you are required to implement those changes according to how the regulations are written.  They do not anticipate being “grandfathered” by any of the regulations proposed today.

 

Mr. Mead asked that, if 25 years from now, if IGCC is determined to be more beneficial, would they be able to retrofit this plant to accommodate this technology?  Ms. Vanderpool stated she does not know the answer to this question.  This is a completely different method of generating electricity. 

 

Mrs. Hanna asked if they plan to have emergency personnel on site.  Ms. Vanderpool stated that, during the construction phase, they develop all the emergency response procedures and coordinate their responses with the local emergency responders.  This will all be part of their public safety program.  The local “first responders” are trained and they know what is on site at the plant. 

 

Rich Fosgitt, Wilcox Engineering, commented on the contingency items.  Item #7 states that perimeter landscaping shall be installed prior to interior construction being initiated.  They would like to change that to read that this landscaping would be installed during the grading phase of the construction.  They would like to amend Item #8, that fire protection equipment would be installed prior to any combustable facilities being constructed.  They would like contingency #9 to be amended to read that all other regulations shall be complied with, and permits approved by city, county, state and federal agencies prior to commencement of construction or operations as applicable. 

 

Mrs. Svenson asked about the temporary parking, and if there is any landscaping that will be in the area for the temporary parking.  Mr. Fosgitt stated that all the permanent landscaping will be in place. 

 

Bob Belfit, 804 Crescent Drive, spoke about renewable energy sources.  We have enough natural resources in this country to provide our own energy without the oil producing countries today getting rich.  There is a proposal to install solar panels over many acres in the southwest United States.  Technology has changed the world over the past few decades.  He feels this coal plant is vital to our country and vital to our society in this area.

 

Faye Wood, 3501 Bay City Road, stated she wants to make sure they are hiring local people to work in the plant. 

 

Dave Romenesko was employed by Dow Corning for 33 years.  He and his wife support the plant as it uses better coal technology than most plants today.  Human global warming only causes a minimal amount.  Michigan is in a severe recession since 1980, when the Chrysler Corporation nearly went bankrupt.  Midland will receive numerous jobs as well as tax revenues from this plant.  We need to diversify from the auto industry in this state and this is an opportunity to do so.

 

Steve Miller, 3214 Boston Street, stated he is in favor of the LS Energy Plant.  The property taxes that they will pay will help the community, as well as the jobs they will provide.

 

Steve Yascolt, 4459 S. Saginaw Road, stated he is one of their closest neighbors.  He was not exactly pleased to find out about this plant in its initial phases.  He began a dialogue with the company and his neighbors.  There have been numerous meetings with the local area residents and LS Energy.  They re-vamped their site plan based upon neighborhood comments.  They are planting evergreen trees as a buffer zone between their property and the residential property to the east.  He thinks these people have been very positive and he is in favor of this development.

 

Bill Borch, 811 Birchview South, is here to speak on behalf of his union membership here in Midland.  We need to be concerned about the environment and global warming.  We also need to be concerned about keeping the lights on in our hospitals and in our homes.  We need common sense solutions and we need common ground.  There will be environmental impact as well as economic impact.  There will be a great economic impact from the development of this plant.  He is in favor of this development.

 

Jeff Coleman, Union Construction Laborers 1084 W Wackerly Rd, Sanford, stated he is in favor of jobs for local construction workers.  He recommends the Planning Commission ask for their safety plan before the plant gets up and running.  He wants to see the employees there have a safe work environment.

 

Kevin Roeder, 5901 Partridge Lane, stated, like everyone else, there are environmental and health concerns.  He would refer to himself as an environmentalist.  He is a former member of Green Peace and the Sierra Club.  There are limited resources environmentally.  We live in an industrial area.  The technology behind the plant is very sound. 

 

Lowell Younquist, 5801 Harwood Drive, stated he dropped off a letter dated March 24th.  This coal-fired plant will affect our community for the next 60 years.  During the previous discussions, he has not heard anything about using existing facilities already located in our community.  MCV is only running at 50 percent of capacity due to high natural gas prices.  They have a great deal of capacity that is not being used.  Since the MCV already has electric infrastructure, electric turbines and nuclear potential, we should use the facilities that are already here.  He has talked to agencies in Wisconsin about this and he was told to keep the mercury, fly ash and carbon separate and this plant does not propose this action.

 

Lori Franson, 224 Helen Street, wished to address ethyl mercury by LS Power.  No healthcare professional at the hearing on March 11, 2008 asserted a causal relationship to ethyl mercury and Autism.  A University of Texas Study showing an increased incidence of rates of autism diagnosis and special education services in correlation with environmentally released mercury was mentioned.  Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder.  Seventy-five percent of those diagnosed with Autism are mentally retarded per the DSM IV (diagnostic manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental disorders).  The relationship between toxic Mercury exposures (methylmercury) and brain damage is scientifically indisputable.  This proposed plants will emit 108 pounds of mercury annually. 

 

David Letts, 1879 W. Stewart Road, Midland, stated he wished to yield his 3 minutes.

 

Nancy Janoch, 1806 Wyllys Street, stated she spoke regarding the 371 pages offered regarding this plant.  She stated they use such words such words as “proposed” and “intentions”.  Are these the kind of words you want to hear when you approve a site plan?  Where are the contingencies that require the issuing of permits based upon studies and agreements with the city to cover costs that will have to be borne by the city if this plant does not move forward.  How are people of Midland to trust they are getting a complete rendering of the Commission’s decisions.  The Commission is responsible for the health and safety of this community.

 

Janea Little, 1051 E. Pine River Road, stated that she has been frustrated with the “democratic process” used by the city.  She feels the questions she asked two weeks ago have not been addressed and she objects to being given three minutes to address 371 pages of data.  She feels Keith Baker has been inconsistent with his answers to questions regarding whether or not the Planning Commission can consider items such as health and safety issues when making a decision on a site plan.  She feels the Planning Commission has received incorrect information and she asks that the commission postpone the vote in order to consider all the issues that have been brought forward regarding this site plan.

 

Heather Cleland-Host, 2811 Gibson Street, stated she is opposed to this site plan.  She stated she went through the entire 371 pages, which represents the entire site plan package for this project. 

 

Suzette Zelenak, 4309 Brambleridge, stated she echoes some concerns of prior speakers.  There were letters sent to the City Council regarding opposition to this coal fired plant and no one seems to be able to find them today.  She even has a reply from Bruce Johnson thanking her for her comments.  With all the public relations this company has done, how many people are going to get sick and die prematurely due to this new addition to our city.  What is the true health impact to our community and to our neighbors?  Is it going to be her family or her neighbors that die prematurely due to this plant.  They cannot guarantee they are totally safe.  She submitted six letters that were submitted to City Council during the rezoning process.

 

Daryl Zelenak, 4309 Brambleridge, stated the zoning ordinance states it is the purpose of the Zoning Ordinance to promote the public health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the inhabitants of Midland.  Planning Commissioners cannot deny that they have a moral issue to protect the citizens of this community.  With the long weekend just past, he cannot imagine that the Commission would not deny or postpone this decision based upon unanswered questions.

 

Mr. Richard VanKorff, 15 Rosemary Court, has lived in Midland for 30 years.  This city is still unique, but year by year it is becoming less unique due to inadequately controlled growth.  We are a “science city” but we ought to be doing things that are in the forefront of science.  He is aware that the state and federal governments will control this.  Coal plants are one of the worst contaminants of the atmosphere.  Once it escapes, it becomes exponentially uncontrollable.  It takes much more than three minutes to cover all the components of this subject.

 

The public input process is now closed.

 

            It was moved by Senesac and seconded by Kozakiewicz            to recommend City Council approval of Site Plan No. 274 with the following contingencies:

 

1.   Stormwater runoff and detention systems are designed and

      constructed in accordance with Engineering Department

      requirements.

2.   Exterior lighting shall comply with Section 3.12 of the Zoning

      Ordinance.

3.   All roof and ground mounted mechanical equipment shall be

      screened in accordance with Section 6.02(E)(2) of the Zoning

      Ordinance.

4.   All parking spaces are delineated with “box” style striping per

      Section 5.01(D)3 of the Zoning Ordinance.

5.   All signage shall adhere to Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance.

6.   The additional site landscaping features shall be installed per the

      staff report comments.

7.   Perimeter landscaping and screening shall be installed per

      Section 6.05(B) of the Zoning Ordinance during the initial

      clearing, excavation and preparation of the site.

8.   Temporary fire protection measures shall be in place prior to

      commencement of above grade building construction.

9.   All other regulations shall be complied with, and permits

      approved by city, county, state, and federal agencies prior to

      commencement of construction or operations as applicable.

 

Mr. Fosgitt stated the petitioner has no comments to add but they

are available for questions.

 

Ms. Brown asked about having the fly ash delivered in a wetted

condition to the landfill.  Would this be covered under contingency

#9?  Mr. Baker stated the collection, transport and disposal of the

ash are regulated by the landfill.

 

Mrs. Hanna stated one person who spoke stated there should be a

health and safety plan on site and this should be made a

contingency of the plan.  This was made in the form of a motion. 

 

The motion failed for lack of a second.

 

Noel Bush, Utilities Director stated the landfill is under the city’s

jurisdiction and is regulated by the Department of Environmental

Quality.  They do inspections quarterly, they do surprise inspections,

and they have inspections on a regular basis, which are quite

thorough.  Mr. Mead asked Mr. Bush if he was comfortable with the

landfill disposal issues.  Mr. Bush stated Midland is fortunate to have

our landfill here.  We control the costs and we monitor our own site. 

They are five years from receiving any ash and there probably will

be new regulations by that time and they will have to comply.  They

are comfortable with that issue. 

 

Mr. Senesac thanked everyone for their input.  This is the most

detailed site plan he has seen in his 12 years on the Planning

Commission.  He feels the comments received cover basically three

areas.  It will bring jobs to the city and provide revenue.  The second

category is alternative energy.  People have indicated there are

better energies than a coal plant.  However, we cannot tell the

petitioner they cannot build a coal plant there anymore than we

could tell a drug store they cannot build a drug store on a particular

site.  The third category is the environmental impact through air

emissions, the solid waste and the runoff into the river.  There were

comments that ran the entire spectrum.  Some people said there are

serious health issues and some said this plant is very safe.  The

Planning Commission has said that they must obtain all permits from

the appropriate city, county, state and federal agencies and we

should leave these issues to the experts.  He plans to support the

plan.

 

Mr. Mead stated he is concerned about the health and safety of the

people of Midland.  He has three grandchildren and if he thought for

a minute that anything would affect any of these kids, he would be

very upset.  This is an emotional issue.  Saginaw Valley is not noted

for rivers that have great waterfalls.  Solar energy is not a viable

alternative for this area.  The wind power also has environmental

concerns as they are killing birds and they make noise.  Concerning

the emissions, he feels there are enough departments to keep his

grandchildren as safe as possible and that there will be power for

them when they grow up.  He plans to support this plan.

 

Mr. Gaynor stated this is a very good site plan.  He looks at this as a

balance of risks and benefit.  Modern society is built on the use of

energy today.  We hear a lot about solar energy but they take a lot

of energy to make the solar panels.  One of the reasons we have

businesses here in Midland is that they want to take advantage of

energy producing sources that are here.  He does not think there is

any human activity that does not affect the environment in some

way.  When we look at the emissions of 50 years ago, these

emissions are much lower today.  We have the world’s largest

chemical company here and he does not think this will be any worse. 

He is in support of this plant.

 

Mr. Kozakiewicz stated our process is varied and the evaluation

points are all different.  The health and safety concerns and the

environmental concerns are much more important to him than the

landscaping.  However, there are further permits required, public

hearings, opportunities for more public input and testimony, these

will be much more adequate to determine the outcome of this

project.

 

Mrs. Hanna thanked all the participants of the meeting tonight as

well as two weeks ago, despite the emotional aspects of this issue.

The old plants were built when there was not the level of knowledge

of what was spewing into our environment.  We have to

acknowledge and support that the people whose job it is to address

these emissions issues every day are doing their job.  She would in

no way attempt to do their job.  She fully supports this site plan

because she feels the company building this plant will succumb to

new technology as it becomes available.  We had someone who

lives closest to the plant speak in favor of this development.

 

Mr. King stated they have been doing quite a bit of reading

regarding this site plan.  There are a lot of details here.  He has

been a bit skeptical of some of the issues with this site plan. 

However, we have a limited number of criteria to consider when

deliberating on this site plan.  There are experts who will review

these issues before permits are issued.  He is in full support of this

site plan.

 

Mr. Eyre stated he realizes there may be some health issues, but

these are regulated by the state and federal government.  As Ray

said, we cannot tell someone what they can or cannot put on a piece

of property.  They meet all the criteria and he will vote in favor of this

site plan.

 

Ms. Brown stated that, after reviewing all the material, all the

areas that were questionable have been addressed, and the fact

that there will be public feedback opportunities coming up with the

MDEQ, she is in support of this site plan.

 

Mrs. Svenson stated she has looked at all the criteria for site

plan approval.  We do the best we can with the information we have

available.  It is difficult for us to determine what all the issues are but

these are issues that will be addressed by the permitting processes

by other agencies who are experts in their fields.

 

Vote on the motion:

 

YEAS:             Brown, Eyre, Gaynor, Hanna, King, Kozakiewicz, Mead and Senesac

NAYS:             None

ABSTAIN:       Svenson

ABSENT:        None

 

Motion approved by a vote of 8-0 with one commissioner abstaining.  This will be on City Council’s agenda on April 14th. 

 

7.    Communications

 

Planning and Zoning News

 

8.  Report of the Chairperson  

 

    Ms. Svenson reminded the Planning Commission about the annual

    training session on April 12, 2008 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the

    Dow Diamond.  If you have items for the agenda, please submit

    them to staff as soon as possible. 

 

    There have been some re-appointments on the Commission,

    including Gayle Hanna, Carol Svenson and Scott Gaynor.

    


 

9.    Report of the Planning Director

 

We have three new site plans so the coming meetings will be just as busy as recent meetings have been.

 

 

10.  Adjourn

Adjournment at 9:35 p.m. was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Keith Baker, AICP

Planning Director

 

MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION