MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

MARCH 24, 2009, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

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

ABSENT:    Brown

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director; Cheri King, Community Development Specialists, and 7 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Mead, seconded by Hanna, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of February 24, 2009 as written. Motion passed unanimously.

 

3.   Public Hearing

 

      a.   Site Plan No. 288 from Dow Howell Gilmore Associates, Inc. site plan review and approval of a 14,152 square foot addition to the Arnold Center located at 400 Wexford Avenue.

 

            Mr. Baker showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  Mr. Kozakiewicz requested to be allowed to abstain from this petition due to the fact that his company is the general contractor for this project.  Motion by Senesac, seconded by Hanna to allow Mr. Kozakiewicz to abstain due to conflict of interest.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

            This property is near the grand curve just to the east of the downtown.  The lots adjacent and across the street are residential, with commercial to the west, north and east.  The entire area is zoned Light Industrial.  The proposed use is permitted within the district.  The future land use map identifies this area also as light industrial.  The site plan shows a 14,152 sq. ft. addition to the existing facility on the west side of the existing building.  It is at the corner of Wexford and Tibbs Streets.  It is approximately a third of an acre.  Section 27.02(a) of the zoning ordinance denotes the criteria that must be followed for an addition on this site.  The property has been acquired by the Arnold Center and the addition is on property that they own.  A total of 22 trees and 72 shrubs are required, so they exceed the requirements for landscaping required by the ordinance.  The proposed addition meets all setbacks.  The highest point of the building is 23.5 feet tall.  The highest point of the structure is 36 feet 9 inches.  There is no height restriction in the IA District.  There were a number of single family homes acquired for property for this project.  The building and site development are planned so as not to interfere with adjoining properties.  Emergency vehicle access is adequate for fire protection.  As part of the project, they are removing a drive approach on the west side of the building where the planned addition is proposed.  There is an additional driveway approach on the Tibbs Street side of the building for utility vehicle access.  The parking located on the south side of the site is on city property.  There is a legal agreement that provides for parking in this area.  There is public sidewalk on Tibbs Street, running north and south on the site.  The city is requiring sidewalk on the Wexford Street side of the site. 

 

            Based upon the square footage of the building, there is a requirement for a minimum of 51 parking stalls and a maximum of 61 stalls.  The plan does identify 85 parking stalls, 6 of which are barrier free.  Staff has talked with the petitioners about the elimination of parking along the eastern most portion of the site and on the property that is owned by the city.  The site will accommodate storm water detention with an underground system.  It is on the west side of the building, subject to the Engineering Department’s review and approval.  A photometric plan has been submitted.  The city has requested a photometric plan with the lighting shown to the property lines.  There are several wall mounted fixtures and one large pole light to illuminate the area.  Utilities will be brought from the existing building so there will be no new utility lines required.  All exterior mechanical equipment must be screened.  The dumpster is located in the southwest corner, facing to the southwest.  The petitioner has requested in a letter to the Planning Commission to eliminate the gates on the dumpster gate, due to their landscaping in that area.  The Planning Commission has the authority to provide that waiver if they feel the screening requirements have been met.  One new sign is being proposed on the building and that can be reviewed and permitted at the time of construction and installation.  That is subject to Article 8 of the Midland City Zoning Ordinance.

 

            Mr. Baker showed elevation drawings of the proposed facility.  There will be photometric panels on the roof.  Staff recommendation is for approval of the site plan with the usual contingency items.

 

            Ms. Hanna asked if anyone came to this facility by bus.  Mr. Baker answered in the affirmative.  There is no bus canopy on either the existing building nor the proposed building.  Ms. Hanna asked if they were planning to put up any bike racks.  Mr. Baker deferred the question to the petitioner.  Mr. Eyre asked about access to the property.  Mr. Baker stated the west driveway off Wexford will be closed.  The two driveways to the east will remain as they are now.  They will be adding one new driveway off Tibbs Street.

 

            Viki Labrou-Betts, 4300 W. Sugnet Road, representing Dow, Howell and Gilmore Architects.  The Arnold Center came to them with the desire to consolidate their offices and some work areas in their facility.  There are about 12 bike racks outside the cafeteria for employees to use.  There is a stairway that leads to the roof area that will provide a green area for grasses and will provide insulation for the building.  The photo-opaque panels will provide energy for the facility.  Mr. Eyre asked about the two curb cuts side-by-side.  Ms. Labrou-Betts stated that they propose to leave it as it is. 

 

            Mike Shea, formerly the Director of the Arnold Center, stated they have probably 25 buses dropping off people at the Arnold Center per day.  The driveways are used for the buses to enter the site and then go around and exit from the other driveway.  Mr. Shea stated it is signed for buses but there are not one-way signs.  If the Planning Commission wishes signage for one way access, they will do that.

 

            Ms. Labrou-Betts showed a rendering of the building with the green roof up above and the sky light/photo-opaque panel on the roof.  Mr. Senesac asked for justification for not screening the dumpster on all four sides.  Ms. Labrou-Betts stated there is landscaping in front of it and there is 3-4 feet of drop off between that area and surrounding residential properties.  There is also quite a distance from the dumpster to the surrounding residential properties.  They have trees on both sides of the dumpster enclosure.  There will be a curb around three sides of the dumpster and trees on both sides.  The trees on the sides are not evergreens.  There is a note on the drawing that there is a 6-foot fence around the dumpster area.  The width of the opening will be 20 feet wide. 

 

            No one spoke in favor or opposition to the site plan.

 

            The public hearing was closed. 

 

4.  Public Comments

     

      None

 

5.   New Business

 

      None

 

6.  Old Business

 

  1. Northside Downtown Overlay Zoning District – Updated/Draft Text Review.

 

The presentation of the Downtown Overlay Zoning District was by Jeff Purdee and Robert Kramer, from LSL Planning.  They have continued to work on the Northside Downtown District.  A review was held today with staff and the Advisory Committee.  Tonight, they would like input from the Planning Commission. 

 

The goal of the project is to transform the “Near Neighborhood” or Northside Downtown area based on a common vision, and to create a new Overlay District to address new development and help stimulate business in this area.  They are amending Article 21 of the Zoning Ordinance.  It begins with a statement of purpose, permitted uses, building placement, building height, and overlay district development standards.

 

The Statement of Purpose is to provide a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented redevelopment, provide a variety of housing types, calm traffic, create pedestrian-friendly environment and improve linkages to Downtown.  Building height and placement will achieve appropriate scale and ensure proper transition to surrounding neighborhoods.  The uses allowed include:  (1) commercial service, retail and restaurant uses; (2) office and medical uses; (3) public/institutional uses; and (4) multiple family and townhouses.  The difference from the Downtown include (1) automotive service stations will be excluded; (2) drive thru’s require condition use permits; (3) shopping centers will be allowed; and (4) residential development will be permitted by right.

 

In order to create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, they will look at the building relationship to the street, height and street enclosure, parking location and screening, storefront relation to pedestrian traffic and setbacks.  They are proposing front yard setbacks between a 5 foot minimum and 10 foot maximum setback.  Discussions today proposed a zero front yard setback for some businesses.  The side yard would require a minimum of 10 feet separation or zero feet with a fire wall.  The building must occupy 60% of the frontage or 40% on the one-way pairs.  Parking may occupy 30% of the frontage, or 50% on the one-way pairs.  This is an attempt to get the buildings closer to the sidewalk.  They are trying to encourage more mixed-use buildings.

 

The overlay district includes some design standards for commercial/mixed use buildings.  The front entrance will open to the sidewalk.  There will be no blank walls greater than 20 feet along the street, no front garage doors, a ground floor minimum of 50% glass/doors.  They would allow a flat roof or a pitched roof for commercial development, mechanical equipment would require screening, and they have defined standards for a “cottage shop”. 

 

Residential buildings would have a front entrance, a porch, stoop or ADA ramp.  Parking and loading will be in accordance with Section 5.01 and 5.02 of the existing zoning ordinance.  A 3 foot screening wall would be required, along with the option for shared parking. There are requirements for landscaping and screening with street trees, parking lot landscaping and parking lot screening, screening the greenbelt from the residential development.  Streetscape requirements include a minimum of a 6 foot curb lawn, a minimum of a 6 foot sidewalk, city street lights, one street tree every 40 feet and parallel parking would be allowed on city streets where allowed by the city engineer. 

 

Mr. Cramer described the district boundaries. LSL Planning met with the Advisory Committee this afternoon and will hear from the Planning Commission tonight.  They will make the proposed revisions to the form-based code overlay district.  A public hearing will be held and a recommendation made to City Council following that.  They would anticipate coming back to the Planning Commission in about a month with a revised draft. 

 

Discussion was held by the Planning Commission regarding the overlapping of the Downtown Overlay District and the Northside Downtown Overlay District.  Is there going to be a plan for Main Street and then a plan for between the one-way pairs with a lot of no-man’s land in between.  Could there be some overlapping of these zones that would provide a transition from one of these zones to the other? 

 

Ms. Hanna asked if there is a report from the Housing Committee?  Mr. Baker stated there will be a presentation next Monday at the Housing Commission meeting about the housing study.  Mr. Baker thinks there will be a breakdown by price of housing in the community included in the study.  Mrs. Hanna does not like the idea of expanding the district to Grove Park as there is currently existing housing in this area.  She also does not like the idea of zero lot lines.  These streets have high traffic volumes and they go by at high rates of speed.  The Planning Commission would like to have continued discussion of this proposal as there were many questions regarding the redevelopment of this area.

 

7.   Communications

 

      Planning and Zoning News was included in the packet.

 

8.  Report of the Chairperson  

 

     Ms. Svenson reminded the Planning Commission of their retreat this weekend at the “H” Hotel, beginning at 8:30 a.m. until approximately 1:00 p.m.          

 

9.    Report of the Planning Director

 

No report.

 

10. Adjourn   

 

      Adjournment at 9:12 p.m. was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Keith Baker, AICP

Director of Planning & Community Development

 

MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION