PLANNING COMMISSION WORK SESSION
TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010
COUNCIL CHAMBERS OVERFLOW CONFERENCE ROOM
CITY HALL; 333 W. ELLSWORTH STREET;
Present: Ballard, Brown, Hanna, King, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart and Young
Staff: Keith Baker, Planning Director, and Cindy Winland, Contract Planner
1. Medical Marijuana
Baker outlined the proposed language for regulation of medical marijuana as prepared by the City attorney, City Police Chief and staff. The Police Chief is leading this issue. The County Prosecutor supports the proposed approach. The intent of the language is to totally prohibit the use of marijuana in the City based on the theory that it is a violation of federal law. People found with a legal amount of the drug under state law and in possession of a card authorizing them to possess this amount will not be prosecuted. This approach does not prevent people from growing it in the City.
The text amendment adds a definition of “Marijuana” and the “Medical Use of Marijuana,” both taken directly from the state statute. The amendment adds a statement to Article 3.0, General Provisions that states that “Any business or organization in violation of local, state or federal law is prohibited from locating or operating within the City limits of Midland.”
Communities are addressing this issue either by prohibiting it entirely, as we are, doing nothing, or trying to enable dispensaries or proscribed places for use either in store fronts (Ann Arbor) or as home occupations (Grand Rapids).
A copy of the Medical Marijuana Act will be included with the Planning Commission packet for the public hearing on September 14th. Staff will contact Midland County to see if they plan to address this issue. (Staff contacted the County Board of Commissioners on August 25th and learned that there is no proposed ordinance to address medical marijuana at the county level at this time.)
2. Homeless Shelter
Winland reviewed the proposed amendment language to address the various types of shelters and treatment centers in the City. There are three categories of uses that are being addressed:
· Facilities with overnight stay and treatment, such as the Juvenile Center, the jail and 1016 House
· Facilities with overnight stay and no treatment such as the Open Door and
· Facilities without overnight stay and with or without treatment such as Safe Haven and other social service agencies
The proposed language includes definitions of Residential Inpatient Treatment Center, Transitional Housing, Day Shelter, Soup Kitchens, and Social Service Agencies. It removes inconsistent or undefined terms for these facilities and creates consistency in terminology in all related regulations in the zoning ordinance such as permitted uses, special use requirements and parking. The language adds special use provisions to address issues raised when the Open Door was considering moving last year. These issues include location and number of facilities, screening, outdoor activity, security, transportation and parking.
The regulations are intended to increase the geographic area where these types of facilities can be permitted under specified conditions by increasing the number of districts in which they are permitted by special use permit. At the same time, the regulations are intended to state the conditions under which a facility would be suitable in a specific location. The proposed language does not prohibit religious institutions from also housing soup kitchens, providing transient housing and similar functions on a consistent basis, provided they also meet the siting regulations for the mix of uses they are oeprating.
This language will be brought to the planning commission at a later date and bundled with other proposed amendments.
3. Clubs or fraternal organizations
Baker discussed the proposed changes to the Club or Fraternal organization language. This language creates consistency in terminology. The intent of the change is to permit these uses in the same way and in the same districts as bars and restaurants since they are similar in nature. It is also intended to widen the available structures in these districts that could be suitable for this use. In the Downtown, Circle and Office Service districts the language permits these uses only above the first floor to preserve the retail space on the first floor in districts that are intended for predominately pedestrian oriented shopping.
Clubs and Fraternal organizations would now be permitted in all commercial districts and in the multiple family district with varying conditions.
4. Places of Worship
Baker outlined the proposed changes for Places of Worship in the zoning language. There is a federal law (the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000) and various case law associated with it, that indicates that religious institutions need to be reexamined to ensure that they are treated equally under zoning as other similar facilities.
The current language permits places of worship in every district except LCMR, IA and IB, by conditional use permit. The proposed language permits Places of Worship by right in all the commercial and industrial districts except the Downtown district. The intent is to treat religious institutions the same way as other facilities where there is gathering, such as auditoriums and assembly halls and to widen the opportunities for religious institutions to use empty structures or rent unused space, such as on upper floors of retail uses that are not suitable for residential uses.
5. Other items
· There are a number of other text amendments that will be packaged with the amendments discussed tonight.
· The Planning intern is mapping all the paths to parks and schools in the City and indicating if they are paved, unpaved or unrecognized. This should be completed in the next month. At that time, the Planning Commission will consider how to treat these paths when a request for vacation or recognition is brought forth. The Nonmotorized Transportation Committee has expressed that the paths have value as part of the transportation network.
· There is a rezoning request for a parcel near the southwest corner of Saginaw and Dublin roads to rezone from IA to RB with the intent of building multiple family housing. The request is consistent with the Master Plan.
· Isabella Bank bought Bank of America at the corner of Saginaw and Campau.
· Dow Chemical was awarded the first phase of a tax abatement for their new solar panel plant on Poseyville Rod.
· Possible Dow Corning biomass plant locations were discussed.
· There have been over 50 new home starts in the City this year, compared to 30 over all of last year. This includes duplexes.
There was no further discussion and the work session adjourned at 8:30 p.m.