NOVEMBER 23, 2010, 7:00 P.M.,



1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:  Ballard, Brown, Hanna, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, and Young

ABSENT:   Stewart


OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, and 9 others.


2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Pnacek, seconded by Hanna, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of November 9, 2010 as written. Motion passed unanimously.


3.   Public Hearings





4.   Old Business


  1. Zoning Petition No. 573, initiated by F/A Pnacek, Ltd., to rezone property at 800 Commerce Drive from Larkin Township zoning to Regional Commercial zoning. 


Shawn Pnacek reminded the Commission that he will be abstaining from action on this petition as the petitioners are related to him and thus poses a conflict of interest.  This issue was voted upon at the November 9, 2010 meeting.


Mr. Baker reviewed the progress of Zoning Petition #573 thus far.  The petitioner is F/A Pnacek Ltd.  It was recently annexed from Larkin Township on August 31, 2010.  It is approximately 4.72 acres in size.  The current zoning is Residential “A” in Larkin Township.  The petitioner is requesting Regional Commercial zoning in the city.  Public utilities are available to service the site.  Mr. Baker reviewed the review criteria, as outlined in Section 30.03(d) of the zoning ordinance. 


The property is located on north side of Commerce Drive, which runs east/west between Eastman and Jefferson.  It is currently vacant, as is much of the property surrounding it.  The parcel was created when the road bisected an 80 acre parcel owned by the Pnacek family.  The parcel to the north has not been zoned to any city zoning classification.  The property to the south is still in Larkin Township.  There are LCMR and Regional Commercial to the west and to the south the Midland Evangelical Free Church is zoned Residential B. 


On the future land use map, the property has been identified as suitable for commercial purposes.  In the Master Plan, the zoning classifications are more generalized and do not specifically relate to individual zoning classifications.  


Mr. Baker reviewed the ten criteria on which the Planning Commission will use to make their decision.  This rezoning request is consistent with the Future Land Use map which identifies the area as appropriate for “Commercial” development.  It is more intensive than Larkin Township’s zoning and master plan designations for the parcel if left in the township.  Staff recommends approval based upon consistency with the City of Midland’s Master Plan.  Three public correspondences have been received since the public hearing.  Two requested additional study or delay.  One expressed support for the petition.


The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on November 9, 2010.  If the Commission acts on this recommendation tonight, it will go to the City Council to set a public hearing on December 6, 2010 and Council will conduct its public hearing on January 10, 2011, at which time a decision will be made on the proposed zoning change.


Ms. Brown opened the floor to new comments in support of the petition.  Mike Pnacek, 2661 Blackhurst Road, spoke on behalf of the petitioner.  This is something they have been talking about since 2007.  They have now decided it is time to annex the property and have it assigned city zoning.  Mr. Pnacek stated the family would be happy with Community Commercial, which does not allow outside storage.  They would like a decision to be made on this in a timely manner. 


Ms. Brown asked Mr. Baker to explain the differences between Community Commercial and Regional Commercial.  Regional Commercial is the city’s most intensive zoning classification.  Community Commercial is the next less intense zoning classification.  Mr. Baker reviewed Table 21.1 in the Zoning Ordinance that showed the differences in permitted uses in the two zoning classifications.  Adult regulated uses are not permitted at all in Community Commercial and are permitted in Regional Commercial by special use permit.  As it pertains to office, medical and institutional uses, there is virtually no difference.  The petitioner is agreeable with the Community Commercial zoning.  This would be allowed under the current public hearing process, as it is a lower intensity use. 


John Bartos, 2095 North Jefferson.  He lives just north of the property in question.  Mr. Bartos summarized the points in his letter.  Larkin Township owns most of the land surrounding this parcel.  He ended up purchasing the 37 acres to the north of this parcel.  A lot of things have changed in the past five years in this area.  A petition signed by 50-60 Larkin Township residents addressed the differences in land use in this area.  If this zoning is approved, the Commission is really setting the tone for future zoning in this area.  Mr. Bartos stated he and his wife are good friends with the Pnaceks.  They understand they are trying to protect the zoning of their property.  He referred to a couple statements in the letter from Dr. Rush. 


Mr. Senesac asked Mr. Bartos to explain the changes he referred to in his presentation.  Mr. Bartos stated there have been a number of new homes developed in this area.  You do not see them from the road but he has pictures of them.  Mr. Mead asked Mr. Bartos to show the areas he is talking about.  Mr. Bartos stated there are about 10 very expensive homes that have been built to the east of this property.  Some of them were there prior to this annexation but many of them were not. 


Ms. Brown stated there are several questions that need to be addressed.  Does the Planning Commission want to table this and review this area as it relates to the Master Plan?  Does the Planning Commission want to consider lowering the intensity of the recommendation to Community Commercial instead of Regional Commercial? 


Mr. Senesac asked Mr. Baker to review the legal obligations of the Planning Commission.  Mr. Baker stated there is an obligation to act with “due diligence” and to act upon a petition in a “reasonable” amount of time.  Mr. Baker does not feel they should table the request indefinitely.  If the Commission wants to hold a work session on this issue and then set a date in the future when they would revisit this issue, this would be acceptable.  State law mandates that Planning Commissions review their Master Land Use Plans every five years.  It requires communities to look at them and not just leave them on the shelf.  There is nothing to prevent the commission from re-evaluating an area if they feel conditions have changed since the adoption of the Master Plan.  


Mr. Mead suggested that, if the petitioner has no objection to it, they consider Community Commercial zoning for this property.  That is a little less intensive land use.  Mr. Mead moved that they substitute Community Commercial in place of Regional Commercial zoning.  Motion seconded by Hanna.  Mr. Baker explained that that issue could be handled in the motion at the end of deliberations.  It does not take a motion at this point.  The motion was withdrawn. 


Mr. Senesac stated that reviewing the Master Plan is a very lengthy process.  He thinks that delaying it is not an option.  Mr. Pnacek agreed to drop the proposal from Regional Commercial to Community Commercial and Mr. Senesac thinks this would be a good use for that property.  He feels it meets all the criteria of the master plan and that it is appropriate for that area.  The Master Plan, even though it is reviewed every five years, it is a very long-range planning tool.  He supports the petition in favor of Community Commercial. 


Mr. Mead stated that, if the commission decides to review the plan, they should not limit the review to just this area.  The Commission would open themselves up for anyone who would want to come in and have their area reviewed.  The Commission spent a lot of time reviewing many areas of the city prior to adoption of the Master Plan.  With the reduction of the intensity in requested zoning to Community Commercial, he is in favor of moving forward with action on this request.  Mr. Young stated he was in agreement, having been through a Master Plan review in another community.  Mr. Young and Mr. Ballard both stated they are in favor of the Community Commercial zoning. 


Mrs. Hanna stated that the petition was not addressed in February when the petition was presented to the Planning Commission.  Ms. Brown stated the petition was not presented to the Planning Commission – it was presented to the City Council. 


Ms. Brown stated she was here when they worked on the Master Plan and they did put a lot of time into it.  She feels the city’s Master Plan is fairly consistent with that of Larkin Township and she is in support of moving forward with zoning this parcel Community Commercial.


Motion by Senesac, seconded by Ballard, to recommend to City Council the approval of Zoning Petition No. 573, initiated by F/A Pnacek, Ltd. to rezone property at 800 Commerce Drive from Larkin Township zoning to Community Commercial zoning.



YEAS:                   Ballard, Brown, Mead, Senesac, and Young

NAYS:                   None

ABSENT:              Stewart

ABSTAIN:             Pnacek (due to conflict of interest – approved by the commission)

                              Hanna (not approved by the commission)

VACANCY:           One


Mr. Baker asked Mrs. Hanna to vote one way or the other.  She chose not to at this time.


Motion was approved 5-0.  The public hearing with City Council will be set at the December 6th meeting and will be held at the January 10th meeting.


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




6.   New Business


a.  Consideration of reviewing Future Land Use Map designations for Northeast section of the community.


      Mr. Baker stated he put this on the agenda for the consideration of the Planning Commission.      He suggested they use their December meeting for a review of this area as there is no other business at this time for this meeting.  Mr. Mead stated he thinks they will open themselves up to a lot of questions if they pick out a single area for review.  He thinks perhaps letters should be sent out to citizens if they would like to have their areas reviewed.  Mr. Senesac stated the commission spent a lot of time reviewing this area.  They were aware of what was happening on the other side of Jefferson.  In two years they will be doing another Master Plan update and he feels that would be the time to start reviewing smaller areas.  Mr. Baker stated that the Master Plan is now three years old and this is the only area that has come into question.  There was one other area that the commission spent an inordinate amount of time on and that was the intersection of Wheeler Street and Waldo Avenue.  Mr. Baker stated we would do open houses, public notifications, what are changes that might be considered, and what the process might look like.  The Planning Commission would eventually go into public hearings and notification of surrounding property owners.  This would be a lengthy process that would take perhaps six to eight months.  Mr. Ballard stated he would not like to do this process now and then a year and a half later, doing it all again.  Mrs. Hanna stated that if we are going to review the entire Master Plan, 2010 Census Data should be provided and would be useful in a review of the existing land uses.  Mr. Baker stated the census data should be released beginning next year and more the following year.


      John Bartos stated they are missing a very important point.  In Chapter 9 of the Master Plan, it states that “this Plan is intended to be flexible and respond to new information, trends, and opportunities.  The Planning Commission is responsible for recognizing an impetus for Plan review prior to the legally mandated five year review standard.”  Mr. Bartos stated they were not informed about the notice and that there was a public hearing being held on areas around his land. 


      Barbara Rice, 1370 E. Pine River Road, stated they attended many of the meetings at the city and many “Meetings in a Box” regarding the update of the Master Land Use Plan.  If you wanted input for yourself and your property, you attended these meetings.  Yes, it needs to be reviewed every five years but she feels the city did a good job in publishing notice to the community about the Master Plan review process. 


      The Planning Commission would like to start the review process in October 2011 and complete it by October 2012.


7.   Communications


           The October edition Planning and Zoning News was distributed.


8.   Report of the Chairperson




9.  Report of the Planning Director


    Keith Baker reported that the city will sponsor a nine week Citizens’ Academy on Wednesday evening’s beginning in January.  It is a great opportunity to learn more about local government and tour city facilities.  Applications are being accepted at the City Clerk’s Office up until Friday, December 17th.  The time commitment will be Wednesday evenings from January 12th through March 9th.


10. Adjourn               


      Adjournment at 8:08 p.m. was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,




Keith Baker, AICP, CFM

Director of Planning & Community Development