MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

JANUARY 12, 2010, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:  Brown, Eyre, Hanna, King, Mead and Senesac

ABSENT:    Pnacek and Stewart

VACANCY:  One

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist and 28 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Senesac, seconded by Hanna, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of December 8, 2009 as written. Motion passed unanimously.

 

3.   Public Hearing

 

      a.   Conditional Use Permit No. 38 – the request of Open Door Youth Outreach Ministry for offices, residential treatment, men’s shelter and soup kitchen located at 222 North Saginaw Road.

 

            Mr. Baker presented the background for Conditional Use Permit #38, of the Open Door Youth Outreach Ministry.  It is for the purposes of housing a residential men’s shelter, soup kitchen, and administrative offices.  The current location is 412 W. Buttles and 409 W. Indian Street.  The proposed new location is 222 N. Saginaw Road, comprising 8,119 square feet in three levels.  It is zoned “C” Circle District classification.  The petitioners are seeking to expand and relocate their facility to this location. 

 

            The aerial photo shows the property is located on N. Saginaw Road, just north of the “circle”.  The property abuts Vail Court to the east and Manor drive to the west.  The property abuts single-family residential RA-1 on three sides and the Circle zoning district to the south.  The future land use map shows this area as mixed use, abutting low density residential.  There is a commercial classification and mixed use across Saginaw Road.  Barstow Woods Park is located across the street to the northwest.

 

            The property in question has two means of ingress/egress.  There is a one-way driveway, marked as one-way, around the building.  There is parking on both sides of the building.  There is some older landscaping on the northwest side.  There are residences on three sides of this property and Circle District on the fourth side. 

 

            Staff determined that “homeless shelter” and “soup kitchen” are not uses provided for in the current language of the zoning ordinance.  To locate at 222 N. Saginaw Road, staff outlined the need to apply for a conditional use permit for the proposed uses in the Circle District zoning classification.  The current Open Door site is zoned Office Service.  The original public hearing notice erroneously stated that 222 N. Saginaw was zoned Office Service.  A second, corrected notice was sent out stating that this property is in the “Circle” District. 

 

            Additional information since distribution of the staff report and packets includes a review by the Fire Marshall for emergency vehicle access and he has reported that the parking lot and access to the site are adequate for emergency vehicle access including turning radius and accessibility to the building.  The Midland Police Department, since 2006, has responded to the current site of the Open door facilities fifty-six times in four years.  Additional public correspondence has been distributed to the Planning Commission this evening.

 

            Tonight, we are conducting a public hearing.  Criteria for approval of a conditional use permit include:

1.    Protection of public health, safety and general welfare.

2.    Compatibility with surrounding land uses.

3.    Detrimental effects.

4.    Impact of traffic.

5.    Adequacy of public services.

6.    Protection of site characteristics.

7.    Compatibility with natural environment.

8.    Compatibility with Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

 

Staff recommendation is for denial.  The proposed use is not consistent with the Future Land Use map or the city’s Master Plan.  The property is identified on the future land use map as being low density residential.  (Thought this may be an error or oversight of the plan and should be investigated independent of the current petition).  The proposed use is not appropriate for being in such close proximity to adjacent single family residential uses given the nature of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, noise and light.  Goal #3 of the Master Plan states as the intent to “protect the long term stability and of quality neighborhoods.”  There is some potential incompatibility of uses as this site is surrounded by single family residential.  The hours of operation of a men’s shelter would not be consistent with the nature of the surrounding development being single family residential.  The proposed uses would be contrary to existing and proposed plans as they relate to the Center City Authority and Circle Business District.  Goal #10 of the Master Plan states as an aspiration to “protect and promote the long term vitality of existing commercial districts including Downtown and Ashman Circle.”

 

Mr. Baker stated a homeless shelter and soup kitchen are legitimate legal land uses that while not specifically identified or provided for in the city’s zoning ordinance, they need to be discussed by the Planning Commission as to where they would be most appropriately located in the community and correspondingly, where in the Zoning Ordinance they should be referenced as a permitted by right or conditional land uses.  While a proposed conditional use may not be determined appropriate on one site within a zoning classification that does not mean it would not be appropriate on another site.  It is a concern of staff that the petition be evaluated on the merits and impacts of the proposed uses of the property and not on any characterization of the persons that are served by the petitioner.  As a conditional land use petition, the Planning Commission may recommend contingencies and place conditions upon its action that it deems appropriate to address or mitigate any perceived impact of the proposed use on the site or adjoining parcels.

 

James McDaniel, 710 Hollybrook, Midland, Michigan.  He has lived in Midland since 1993.  In 2006 he became president of the Open Door.  The Open Door has been in Midland since about 1975.  It started out as a coffee house for people who needed a place to go.  It grew into a residential facility near Pizza Sam’s and has since moved over to Buttles Street.  Currently they operate three facilities, one for men, a “restoration house”, and a shelter for women.  They are run by volunteers and share the gospel of Christ with all who stay there.  They have a soup kitchen, a clothing ministry and services to help their clients.  They would like to purchase that property.  They have looked at other properties in the city in the past.  Their numbers have been increasing over the past several years.  They are at near capacity in all their houses.  Their goal is not to turn anyone away.  It became apparent a couple years ago that they needed to find a larger facility.  They realize they are a “tough fit” for anywhere in the community because of their clientele.  This particular location became available and they felt like it was a good opportunity due to location and that there was enough buffer between this building and the surrounding residential neighborhoods.  They want to be a good partner with the City of Midland.  They are looking to expand the shelter so they can adequately house the people who come to them.  They accept people from the age of 17 on up.  They ask clients to leave by 9:00 a.m. and hope that they will go out looking for work during the day.  They do follow up with this.  They have a staff of four resident advisors who stay there full time.  These are men who have been homeless and who have been there for a number of years.  The men are allowed back into the house at 6:00 p.m. for the night.  The 56 police visits may be due to the police looking for someone on parole or who has recently been released from prison so the 56 police visits have not been all due to crimes.  Their meal counts have increased over the past several years, as well.  They feed lunch from the soup kitchen between 12:00 noon and 1:30 p.m.  They are not a treatment center.  The only “treatment” they provide is the Bible.

 

Mrs. Hanna asked if they also needed to increase the size of the facility for the females.  Mr. McDaniel stated the females are housed at a separate facility and they will not be moved into this facility.  They served 40,346 meals in their soup kitchen in 2008.  They do not yet have the numbers for 2009.  Ms. Hanna asked Mr. McDaniel if there were any sex-offenders in this group of individuals.  Mr. McDaniel stated that there were not.  Ms. Brown asked about the meal counts.  Mr. McDaniel stated the soup kitchen is open to anyone who needs a hot meal.  Ms. Brown asked about the capacity at the existing facility.  The current capacity is 18 men plus the four RA’s.  The Restoration Ministry has a capacity of six individuals plus one RA.  Mr. McDaniel stated they would love to double their capacity if possible.  They would also like to have a training facility on site that would benefit their clients. 

 

Mr. King asked what they are looking for in a site.  Mr. McDaniel stated they would like to have the room to be able to house people, room for the soup kitchen at the same location, parking areas and the availability of Dial-A-Ride.  Right now they just have one driveway.  They thought that, since this property is fairly isolated away with fences and bushes, that this would be an appropriate location for their facility.  Mr. King asked where people go if the shelter is filled to capacity.  Mr. McDaniel stated he does not know where they go.  Mr. Eyre asked what time the doors close.  Mr. McDaniel stated they have to be in by 9:00 p.m.  The doors are closed at 9:00 p.m.  The people are made aware of the rules when they arrive and they generally follow those rules in order to have a warm place to stay. 

 

Mark Smith, 2606 E. Ashman Street.  He owns Smith’s Flowers in the Circle Business District.  There are about 60-65 people per day who come for lunch.  These are not homeless people – they are older people who need a hot meal.  Mr. Smith is also on the Board of Directors.  There are facilities in this area such as Kroger’s, the post office, and public facilities in this area.  Space is a huge consideration.  They currently do not have enough space.  They are at capacity for housing and their soup kitchen is at capacity many times during the year.  If someone gets released from jail at 12:05 a.m. and comes to the shelter, they are let in that night.  They are not made to stay out overnight until the next day. 

 

Ted Asch, 4941 Grandview Circle, is also a Board member.  When they started looking for a new property, they thought it would be a pretty easy thing to get a land use permit.  They have rules in the house.  If someone comes in drunk, they are gone.  They can’t be drinking during the day and come in there at night.  They are very strict with their rules.  The police come periodically in the middle of the night to bring people who are stranded and have no place to go.  They cooperate with the police closely.  The soup kitchen serves the “working poor”.  They serve one meal a day to the community and that is the noon meal.  They have a lot of “take-outs” at that time for dinners.  One of the letters received talks about garbage.  Where will it go?  Mr. Asch stated that if it poses a problem, they will take care of it.  If they need to put up a higher fence, they will do that.  They have been good neighbors where they are now.  There have been very few incidences that have affected their current neighborhood.  There are homes right by their current location. 

     

Michael Dalton, 116 Vail Court.  They are right at the end of Vail Court.  The parking lot for this facility is 10 feet from their kitchen window.  They are in strong opposition to this conditional use permit.  One of the public stated goals from the Open Door website is that they provide facilities for newly released prison inmates.  Mr. Dalton feels that placing recently released prison inmates in single family residential neighborhoods is not appropriate.  Goal #3 of the Master Plan is to “protect the quality of the existing neighborhoods”.  They have spoken with seniors, parents of young children, grandparents, and families who intend to have children and they all feel that they would steer away from this type of neighborhood and that this would lower property values in the area due to the fact that they do house ex-prisoners.  One of Mr. Dalton’s first questions was of the men who stay overnight in this shelter, what is the percent of recently released prisoners?  The answer is approximately 30%.  He asked what types of criminal offenses have been committed by their clients.  He was told drugs, alcoholism, robbery and assault.  Mr. Dalton asked if any of the residents were there by “court order”.  The answer given him was that they were there by “court option” rather than “court order”.  He asked if any of these residents were from out-county areas.  The answer was yes, some of these residents are from Bay, Saginaw, and Isabella Counties.  Mr. Dalton had some additional questions including what crimes have the clients been convicted of?  What kinds of offenses have been committed?  They were relieved to hear that there are no sex-offenders.  They believe the proposed change for land use will adversely affect the neighborhood and request that the petition be denied.

 

Susan Fogarty, 410 Lingle Lane.  Her back yard is the playground part of Barstow Woods, off Manor Drive.  Lingle is a small curved road that butts up against Barstow Woods, one block from Saginaw Road.  Barstow Woods is one of the largest parks in Midland.  It is heavily used by the community by dog-walkers, children’s activities in the summer, and the Boy Scouts who use the park for overnight camping in the summer.  The entire back of Ms. Fogarty’s house is glass so she has a very good view of the park.  She feels the Open Door definitely has a place in the community.  However, many of the homeless people are using Barstow Woods as their place of overnight dwelling.  Last year there was a man who died in the pavilion of Barstow Woods.  There is crime taking place in the park.  There is drinking going on in the park.  She has witnessed people drinking in the park and people using vile profanity.

 

Dianna Dalton, 116 Vail Court.  Mrs. Dalton stated their second major objection to this permit is to the adjacent land of the facility.  She is concerned about people being released from both local jails and prisons so you would have people guilty of felonies as well as misdemeanors.  The office use in this area has provided a buffer for many, many years.  The office use for this land has been an excellent use for buffering the residential neighborhoods from the more commercial circle area.  Every single home on Vail Court has had major improvements made during they time Dalton’s have lived there.  The North Saginaw Rd. building lies 25 feet from their property.  When her mother imagines standing at their kitchen window and envisions a prisoner staring into their home, she would not feel secure.  This use would provide an increase in the intensity of use in this area.  This would be a 24-hour a day activity which has not been occurring prior to this.  They are not used to traffic in the evening.  They have a 4’10” chain link fence in this area.  However, it not enough to screen vehicles from this site or to screen open garages from this facility.  Article 28 of the Zoning Ordinance discusses the conditions for land use.  They believe the conditions provided in Article 28 do not apply to this facility.  There is a gate in the fence.  The gate currently has a chain and a lock on it.  This lock was installed by Mr. and Mrs. Dalton.  They believe there is insufficient buffering of land uses in this area to allow this conditional use. 

 

James McDaniel stated that they certainly appreciate the people who have come to voice their opposition.  He hopes that they will find a suitable location in the community to increase their mission in this community.  Mr. Senesac stated that, typically in a conditional use, there is a site plan proposed.  He asked where the dumpsters might be located if they were to occupy this building.  Mr. McDaniel stated there would be an area to the north of the building and they would put up some shields to cover this area.  The outdoor tables for their clients would be out in front of the building. 

 

Ruth Ann Saide, 305 W. St. Andrews Road.  She owns Sids Party Store.  She is in opposition to this petition.  She stated she has no problem with them where they are now.  She has tried to employ some of their clients.  It was her understanding that they go to the Methodist Church or to Blessed Sacrament.  She has no problem with that.  She did not know they have a soup kitchen at the Open Door.  They come in her store and they have their Bridge cards.  She knows they go down by the Tridge and the Farmer’s Market. 

 

Jan Soper, 3217 N. Jefferson, on the corner of Jefferson and Vail Court.  They are the oldest residents of the court, having lived there close to 30 years.  They are a low-density residential neighborhood.  Barstow Woods is also in this area as well as several pre-school programs.  St. John’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Lutheran Church and the MCESA all have programs for children in this area.  She is opposed to the Open Door coming to this area.  Her understanding that their 18 bed capacity right now would be doubled to 36.  They also said tonight that no one would be turned away.  If this were considered a “residential facility” it would be required to be licensed.  This is not a “residential facility” and it is not licensed.  How many adults would be able to stay there at a time since this is not a licensed facility?  It was said that the police were called 56 times in the past 4 years.  They are talking about doubling the population which could mean doubling the number of times the police will be coming over there potentially.  There are convicted felons living at the Open Door.  The plaza by FIA and Michigan Works has empty space where there are no schools and no residential buildings immediately adjacent to this property.

 

Terrie Stevenson, 108 Vail Court.  She also works at 2927 Manor Drive.  She sees this affecting both where she works and where she lives.  She stated she does support their ministry.  Of most concern to her is that there is no screening of the prison population.  They stated tonight that no one is turned away.  With neighbors, surrounding schools and parks, she does not see this as the appropriate location for this ministry.

 

Shahtel Heilman, 510 Gordon Street.  Her niece and nephew live at 105 Vail Court.  She is a nanny.  There is no way she would want to take any kids out to literally be in their back yard.  You want people in the community to stay connected and develop their neighborhoods.  If this type of use were allowed in here, people would stay inside and not develop the sense of neighborhood.

 

Meghann Webb, 2918 Manor Drive, stated she lives next to a doctor’s office.  She stated she already is going to have to put up a fence.  She frequents Barstow Woods with her puppy.  She is a single woman and she often walks her dog and she does not want this type of use in this area.

 

Cathy Peterson, 301 W. St. Andrews.  She stated she applauds the work the Open Door does in the community.  She is a single woman.  She just bought her house, knowing it is in a good neighborhood.

 

Ted Asch, 4941 Grandview Circle, Midland.  Mr. Asch stated when they take in a recent prisoner from wherever, they go through a very rigid check of that person.  What was their crime?  How did he act in prison?  Did he go to church services or Bible studies?  Several times they talk to the Chaplains.  They have quite a long-term study with ex-prisoners.  They teach them how to take care of a check book and how to manage themselves.  They don’t just take them in with no background checks.

     

No one else wanted to speak either in favor of or in opposition to this conditional use permit.  The public hearing was closed.

           

      b.   Zoning Text Amendment to Article 21.00 , DNO – Downtown Northside Overlay District of the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance No. 1585.

 

            Mr. Baker introduced Jeff Purdy to give the presentation of the proposed Downtown Northside Overlay District.  The goal was to transform the “Near Neighborhood” or Northside Downtown area based on a common vision.  The process included assessing the district and determine the desired building form, develop a draft of the overlay district standards and to review drafts with Overlay Advisory Committee and Planning Commission.  A key pedestrian link between the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods was desired.  The future land use map showed this as a part of the Central Business District or Downtown area.  Part of this area was zoned Office Service.  They took a typical block in this area and presented a conceptual plan.  They wanted to look at how this area could potentially develop according to the way the zoning regulations were written.

 

            The Northside Downtown Overlay District includes a statement of purpose, permitted uses, building height, building placement and overlay district development standards.  Any uses that are there now would remain.  Any new development would have to comply with the new overlay district.  If there is expansion of an existing building, it would have to comply with the new zoning language.  Types of uses that would be permitted include residential, office, retail and office service uses.  There is both a minimum and maximum building height.  The minimum height would be two stories.  The maximum height would be 76 feet.  There would be a transitional area from the residential to the commercial buildings.  The building must occupy a minimum of 40% of the total frontage, which may include wall extensions.  Parking may occupy 50% of the total frontage.  The overlay district allows for a variety of uses from residential uses to commercial uses.  There are also detailed streetscape requirements including sidewalks, street trees, street lights, parking lot screening and sidewalk cafes.  The District Boundaries include the original district but also included the area down to Larkin Street for the public hearing purposes in case the Planning Commission wanted to include that in their consideration.

 

            Ms. Hanna stated she sees no difference in what is being proposed here and what has been here for the past 36 years.  There has always been housing above commercial uses in the downtown area.  She still has not seen a statistical survey showing that this kind of housing is needed in this community.  She does not see a need for this type of development in this town.  She feels there is a lack of green space in this proposal.  She has seen nothing in this plan that addresses these issues.  What she does see is a lot of impervious space that will have a lot more runoff that will have to be treated.  Sidewalks have been there for a long time. 

 

            Mr. Mead stated this is a direction he would want to go.  He likes the idea of the transition and the idea of the walkability of it and living where you are shopping.  He likes the theory behind this type of development.  He also likes including the area down to Larkin Street in this district. 

 

            Mr. Eyre stated he would love to hear from some young professionals.  Is this what they are looking for? 

 

            Mr. Baker stated he wants to acknowledge the Midland Area Community Foundation for their financial support of LSL Planning in assisting with this project over the past year.  Due to the nature of the transition of property ownership, this is an opportunity to physically affect what this area is going to look like in the future.  We have a master plan in place and we have a downtown plan in place.  This is actual zoning language that would physically affect how these properties are built or developed in the future.  It is proposed to extend down the one-way pairs and it would be an increase in the types of uses in this area.  There is a downtown housing portion of the Housing Needs Assessment that addressed the need for additional housing in this area.

 

            Craig Delaney, 4967 S. Birch Lane, Cadillac, MI 49601.  Mr. Delaney stated he is in support of the overlay district except for his piece of property.  His property is at 415 Jerome, on the corner of Jerome and Indian.  It has an office building located on it.  Ten years ago there was a bank on that piece of property and they were looking at buying the bank.  He also owns 404 Jerome Street.  In 2006, the Dept. of Transportation was looking at widening to put a double turn lane on the north and on the south.  His building was actually hit by traffic that jumps the curb to get to the building.  In 2006, he donated 12 feet of easement to MDOT so they could build the wider streets.  415 and 404 Jerome Street are both zoned commercial right now.  Right now they are looking at combining 412 and 409 and 415 Buttles into a single development.  Right now they are not zoned.  Right now there is a double left turn lane going onto M-20 and a double left turn lane on US-10 Business Route.  If you were to build within 10 feet of the lot line in this area, you would have problems with traffic in this area.  He would like his property exempted from the district. 

 

            Ted Asch, 4941 Grandview Circle.  For the Open Door, they would like to be zoned whatever Mr. Delaney’s property is zoned as they are working together.

 

            Mike Hayes, 919 E. Park Drive, representing the investment group that has purchased a lot of the land between the two one-way pairs.  The way this development came about for this property, a lot of land has been banked.  It could have developed in a very unorganized manner.  They wanted to see some type of organized development for this area.  The original platting of the city provided for blocks that were so small that you couldn’t build anything but some type of small strip mall.  The desire was to make it more pedestrian friendly, slowing down traffic on those two streets.  The concepts of being more vertical on both sides would have the effect of slowing down traffic on these two streets.  Mr. Hayes has data that young professionals are not looking for the traditional type of housing.  They are looking for the high end mixed-use townhouses or condominiums downtown.  Also, empty nesters are looking for these types of homes in the downtown area.  Mr. Hayes would recommend John Palen’s article this month in Midland Issues about the displacement of people in the housing that was purchased in between the one-way pairs.  Four years ago today it was announced that baseball was coming to Midland.  Right after this, developers came to Midland and were looking for land to build this type of housing.  They couldn’t find any.  That is what caused the land banking of property in this area.  It is bounded by the river on one side, Dow Chemical Company on another side, and state trunk lines on the other sides.  This is the only area that would be conducive to this type of development in this area. 

 

            Tami Heilman, 510 Gordon Street.  She thinks it is great what has been proposed.  On paper, this looks wonderful.  She does not like walking along the one-way pairs.  Traffic is going too fast to cross these streets.  You will have all these wonderful buildings but you can’t cross the streets.  The calming of the traffic will help make this area more pedestrian friendly. 

 

            Ruth Sutton, 2335 N. Meridian Road, Sanford, Michigan.  She owns property for her son at the corner of State and Grove Streets.  She is in support of this.  Her son does not drive.  As a result, he spends a lot of time walking around the downtown.  He is not the only disabled person who lives in this area.  He loves his home and his neighborhood.  This would make it safer for him on foot as well as other people who live in this area.

 

            Bill Johnson, 3535 E. Ashman Street.  He is not in favor or opposed.  However, he would like Keith Baker or the Planning Commission to take a poll of the property owners in this area to see how they feel about this.  If you have bought a house and lived in it for 35-40 years and all of a sudden you won’t be able to sell it if this goes through.

 

            No one else spoke either in favor of or in opposition to this zoning text amendment.

 

            Mr. Purdy stated they like to make the break mid-block rather than on the street.  Grove Street Commons is generally the type of development they would like to see since the buildings are out close to the street and they have the parking to the rear.  With regard to the corner of Indian and Jerome, the reason they included that corner, if you are driving down Indian and you turn onto Jerome Street, they did not want to have a change in the design as you go around the turn in the street.  The lines for the proposed district follow the lines delineating the zoning classifications at the present time.

 

            The public hearing was closed. 

 

4.      Public Comments (unrelated to items on the agenda)

 

         None

 

5.      Old Business

 

         None

 

6.        New Business

           None

 

          

7.        Communications

          

           Michigan Planner and Planning and Zoning News were distributed in packets.

 

8.        Report of the Chairperson  

          

None

          

9.        Report of the Planning Director

            

1)    Zoning Text Amendment for Accessory Structures was approved by City Council last night.

2)    A & W Conditional Use Permit was approved with all the contingencies by City Council last night.

3)    Zoning Petition 563 – Bennett Conditional Zoning Request was presented to City Council last night and was tabled pending a presentation by the petitioner of one additional level of restriction as to how they would divide the density of the project.  Council postponed any decision until January 25, 2010, pending further detail provided by the petitioner.

 

10.      Commissioner Comments

 

None

                       

11.      Adjourn          

          

Adjournment at 10:09 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