MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

JULY 13, 2010, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:  Ballard, Brown, Hanna, King, Mead, Senesac, Stewart and Young

ABSENT:    Pnacek

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, Cindy Winland, Consultant Planner, Chris Coughlin, City Fire Marshall, and 5 others.

 

2.  Election of Officers

 

Diane appointed Commissioners Mead and Senesac as the nominating committee, to come back at the next meeting with a recommendation for officers.

 

3.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Mead, seconded by Hanna, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of June 8, 2010 as written. Motion passed unanimously.

4.   Public Hearings

 

      a.   Zoning Text Amendment No. 151, initiated by Jason D. White, to amend Section 14.02 D of the Zoning Ordinance to permit mini-pigs as a conditional land use in the single family residential zoning districts.

 

            Cindy Winland reminded the commission that they had seen this issue back in January and February with a request to consider mini-pigs as a pet.  Today the request is to amend the text for residential districts to permit mini-pigs as a conditional use.  Staff looked at what it would mean if you added mini-pigs to conditional land uses.  Does a mini-pig meet the test of providing quality of life in residential land uses?  The intent and purpose of single family districts is to primarily provide for single family and two-family detached development.  These uses should contribute to the viability of neighborhoods.  At this time, swine is included as a part of the “farm animal” definition.  Is a mini-pig compatible with the quality of life in residential neighborhoods?  Staff would note that a mini-pig could be compatible under certain conditions, but these conditions could be difficult to enforce.  Does this contribute to the richness and compatibility of neighborhoods?  Increasing the type of outdoor animals allowed in neighborhoods contributes to the variety in neighborhoods.  Neighborhood stability is unlikely to be deterred by one mini-pig, but it could be deterred by a variety of mini-pigs in one neighborhood.  There are some aspects of pigs that would not be compatible with health, safety and welfare in neighborhoods for both people and the pigs. 

 

            According to the assessment for text amendments, there are a set of six criteria.  Is the proposed use consistent with the city’s master plan?  Staff would propose that it is not.  Introducing farm animals to residential neighborhoods would not be consistent with the Zoning Ordinance.  Have conditions changed since the ordinance was adopted?  No, conditions have not changed.  Was there a mistake in the Zoning Ordinance that justifies the amendment?  No.  Will the amendment merely grant special privileges?  No.  Anyone could apply to have a mini-pig by conditional use permit.  Will the amendment create an inequity created by the Zoning Ordinance?  If the Planning Commission chose to recommend to City Council, based on the evidence, it would have to be based upon some evidence provided that it was an inequity created by the Zoning Ordinance.

            It is staff’s recommendation that a mini-pig is considered a farm animal and it does not exhibit enough of the characteristics of a domesticated animal to be allowed in single family districts.

 

            Mr. Senesac reviewed the process for conditional use permits.  When he reads the chapter on Conditional Use Permits, he did not find anything he felt would help him distinguish having or not having mini-pigs in residential districts.  Ms. Winland stated if you look at things that are permitted by conditional use, they include parking and hours of operation.  The only measurable things about a mini-pig would be size, weight, and number of pigs and perhaps fencing requirements.  Mr. Senesac stated he cannot see any criteria in the Zoning Ordinance that could be used to evaluate whether or not a mini-pig should be allowed.  If you substituted a mini-cow, or a mini-pony, mini-sheep for the mini-pig, there would be no difference.  We would have to come back and re-evaluate the ordinance in each instance. 

 

            If a renter wanted to apply for a conditional use, both the renter and the owner would have to apply for the conditional use.  The conditional use runs with the land so no matter who owns the property, the conditional use would be site-specific.  Mr. Senesac would like to see the actual language where it would be inserted into the Zoning Ordinance.  Mr. Mead agreed. 

 

            Jason D. White, 1313 W. Hines Street, stated this is his third time before the Planning Commission.  He is requesting the same intent as before, but with a slightly different interpretation.  His 9 year old son, Ethan, is highly allergic to the fur and dander inherent to most “traditional” pets.  His wife is also allergic to pet fur and dander, although not to the same degree as their son.  After about a year of research he began to focus on obtaining a mini-or micro-pig.  Mr. White presented a letter from Dr. John Carr, Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine in Ames, Iowa.  This letter states “The pig is an ideal companion for man”. 

 

            Earlier this year, they submitted Zoning Text Amendment No. 150.  This amendment would have updated the definition of ANIMAL, DOMESTIC within the city’s Zoning Ordinance to include mini- or micro-pigs.  At the February 9th meeting of the Planning Commission where their original text amendment was recommended for denial, they were encouraged by several members of the panel who thought that mini-pigs might be allowed by another means.

 

            The original petition (No. 150) was recommended for denial.  Negotiations and discussions within the Planning Commission intended to draft a special permit for them, fell through and were ultimately terminated.  Now the Planning Commission Staff has again recommended denial. 

 

            Compatibility – “A mini-pig could be considered compatible under specified conditions such as restrictions on weight, size, and containment, and therefore be considered compatible.”  Mr. White found several examples of similar ordnances that are already in place around the country, including Los Angeles, CA, Norco Municipality, CA, Village of Cambridge, WI and Rapid City, SD. 

 

            Enforcement – The idea that the city of Midland would be excessively strained by the “policing” needed for the permit in question doesn’t really make much sense to Mr. White.  Mr. White had a conversation with Mr. Rick Shields, Shift Leader of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control.  Mr. Shields stated they investigate complaints of animal nuisances.  Their office does not investigate every pet to make sure they are property taken care of. 

 

            The behavior of any pet is predominantly influenced by the care and diligence it is provided by its owner.  He believes that he has gone above and beyond in demonstrating how dedicated they are to having a mini-pig.   His family is only seeking a permit for one mini-pig, no more.  These animals cost about $600, plus the cost of going through the legal channels to obtain permission for them.  It is not likely to suddenly have a number of mini-pigs showing up in a neighborhood.  They are seeking a permit for only one mini-pig.  Their property will look exactly the same as it does not should a mini-pig take up residence there.

 

            After the last Planning Commission meeting on February 9th, they were quite excited about the prospect of obtaining a special permit which would still allow them to get their pet mini-pig.  Their excitement was in no small part based upon the very encouraging comments they received from a number of the planning commission members. 

 

            Commissioner Hanna stated that Mr. White is renting and does their lease state that they can have animals?  Mr. White stated they currently have a rabbit and it is in their lease that they can have the rabbit.  Due to financial constraints, they do not feel it is feasible to move outside the city limits.

 

            Commissioner Senesac asked Mr. White to go back to his second slide.  In his presentation, Mr. White stated that this a process and did he realize that he would have to come back to the Planning Commission for a second round – to allow him to have this conditional use.  Mr. Senesac asked Mr. White why this should be approved for him and not for someone else.  Mr. White stated they have tried to convince the Planning Commission their level of commitment to having a mini-pig.  He has tried to convince the commission that they would be responsible pet owners. 

 

            Lisa White, 1313 W. Hines Street, stated they have two binders full of research that her husband has done about mini-pigs.  He has tried to address all of the concerns of the Planning Commission.  They experienced extreme joy when they met with “Roger” the mini-pig and played with him.  All this pig wants is someone to love him.  Mrs. White has Gerber formula waiting to be used for this pig.  She brought in a “beanie baby” pig and stated “Roger” will not get much bigger than that.  She understands that the Planning Commission does not want to allow mini-pigs anywhere in the city.  They are trying really hard to follow the rules and get all the information they can about mini-pigs.  She is not looking to change the whole zoning text of the city.  They were told that that is what they had to do in order to have the mini-pig. 

 

            No other public comments were received either in favor of or in opposition to this request.

 

            The public hearing was closed. 

 

5.   Old Business

 

      None

       

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

 

      None

 

7.  New Business

 

            Requirements for Site Plan Review – Chris Coughlin, City Fire Marshall

 

            Mr. Coughlin made a presentation several years ago and has been asked to repeat the presentation as there are a few new planning commissioners.  The 2006 Edition of the Michigan Building Code specifies that the Fire Department shall review all site plans for conditions or hazards.  It also references the 2006 edition of the International Fire Code.  This provides standards that must be followed for safety purposes.  The Fire Code does allow local departments the latitude to make decisions based upon local conditions.   Every site they look at has different access considerations, depending upon the property, neighboring properties, and can they maneuver on the site.  The fire code official is authorized to require more than one fire apparatus access road based on the potential for impairment of a single road by vehicle congestion, condition of terrain, climatic considerations or other factors that could limit access.  Dimensions – Fire apparatus access roads shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 20 feet except for security gates in accordance with Section 503.6, and an unobstructed vertical clearance of not less than 13 feet 6 inches.  Section 503.2.2 Authority.  The fire code official shall have the authority to require an increase in the minimum access widths where they are inadequate for fire or rescue operations.

 

            Section 503.2.3 Surface.  Fire apparatus access roads shall be designed and maintained to support the imposed loads of fire apparatus and shall be surfaced so as to provide all weather driving capabilities.  Section 5.3.2.4 Turning Radius.  The required turning radius of a fire department access road shall be determined by the fire code official.

 

            Water supply must be capable of supplying the need for the building not only being built now, but all the buildings that may be built in the future.  Generally they will want a looped system so if they have the shut down of a water main, they still have access to water coming from the other way.  Each truck carries about 600 feet of large diameter fire hose. 

 

            Response times are a major issue.  The new McKay Press location moved into the jurisdiction recently.  Currently, there is no hydrant there.  That is being changed.  Their response times to this location is 7-8 minutes.  It could be as long as 12-13 minutes until the trucks arrive from the other stations.  They are dependent upon the water supply in the sprinkler system and the hydrants. 

 

            There are several things they look at when determining the number of stories allowed in a commercial structure.  If they have to fight a fire in a multi-story commercial building, they do not have to get the apparatus right up to the building.  However, if it is a residential structure, they have to be able to get the fire apparatus right up to the building to facilitate a rescue. 

 

8.         Communications

 

           A copy of the Michigan Planner and the Michigan Planning and Zoning News was provided in the packets for the Planning Commissioners.

 

9.        Report of the Chairperson

 

            None

          

10.      Report of the Planning Director

 

           Keith – State Planning conference is coming up October 20th to the 22nd, in Detroit.

          

11.       Adjourn                     

 

Adjournment at 8:28 p.m. was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Keith Baker, AICP, CFM

Director of Planning & Community Development

 

MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION