MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

JULY 26, 2011, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:  Hanna, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart, Tanzini and Young

ABSENT:   Brown

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, Cindy Winland, Contract Planner, Brian McManus, City Engineer, and 52 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Pnacek, seconded by Hanna, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of July 12, 2011 as written. Motion passed unanimously.

3.   Public Hearings

     

Chairman Mead reviewed the public hearing process, explaining that there will be a staff presentation, a presentation by the petitioner, and then public comments will be permitted.  The petitioner will have an opportunity for rebuttal and then the public hearing will be closed.

 

     a.       Site Plan No. 306 from Wilcox Professional Services on behalf of Schauman Development for site plan review and approval of Waldo Avenue Townhomes, a 24 unit residential townhome development, located at 3501 East Ashman Street.

 

               Ms. Winland showed an aerial photo of the subject property.  It backs up to some existing residential development on Fuller Street, as well as a flower and greenhouse to the east and more residential to the west.  The zoning for this parcel is Neighborhood Commercial.  The adjacent zoning to the north is residential, to the east is Agricultural, to the south is Office Service and to the west is RA-2 Residential. 

 

               This land has been vacant prior to this time.  There are four equally-sized buildings proposed for this site.  These four buildings are shown two on the north and two on the south.  Each building has six units in it.  The single story units are 1,260 square feet and the two story units are 2,006 square feet.  They each will have two car garages.

 

               The site design fits in the location in which it is being proposed.  The ordinance requires a certain amount of landscaping based upon the amount of street frontage.  There are 69 credits for preserved trees and 233 required shrubs.  The developer has chosen to keep a 25 foot strip on the north side in its natural state to provide privacy.  The emergency services people at the city have reviewed the plans.  There will be a hammer-head turn-around at the end of the street to allow fire trucks and other emergency vehicles to turn around.  This dimension will be 20’ by 60’.  The ordinance requires a minimum of 125 feet between the entrance and the nearest intersection.  There is this distance in this site plan.  The internal circulation is not shown.  A sidewalk or pedestrian walkway is required.  The applicant will be speaking to that later.  There will be sidewalk along Ashman Street, as required by the ordinance.  A soil erosion plan has not been provided but that is not required at this stage.  The city has concluded that all city services can be provided to this location.

 

               Because the adjacent property to the north is residential and this property is residential, there is no screening required.  It is believed that it will be built in a single phase.  All signs must meet the requirements of the zoning ordinance and be sensitive that there are residential uses to the north.  Staff recommends approval to the Planning Commission.  A petition signed by 10 people who are opposed to having a sidewalk on Ashman and US-10 was submitted.  A resident on Fuller Drive sent a letter concerning the increased traffic congestion between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m.  They would like the driveway to be on Ashman Street.  There are no sidewalks on Ashman Street on this side of the street.

 

               Mrs. Hanna stated she has concerns about the additional traffic onto Waldo Avenue.  She feels the ingress/egress should be onto Ashman Street.

 

               Eric Spitler, Dave Schauman, Schauman Development.  Mr. Spitler stated the Schaumans have done numerous developments similar to this in the area.  Foot traffic is minimal on the site.  They would just like to put in the sidewalk on the public right-of-way.  Mr. Schauman showed a rendering of the development of approximately 120 units in Saginaw Township.  Another photo was shown of another development they did in Saginaw Township.  These units are designed to look more like a ranch.  They do not look like two-story units.  They tried to meet the setbacks and still keep as much buffer as possible on the north side of the property.  Mrs. Hanna stated she does not understand the single exit from the property. 

 

               Tracy Thomas, 3220 Fuller Drive, stated they have lived on Fuller Drive for 16 years.  The adjacent parcel was wooded.  They realized that perhaps some day it might be sold and developed at some point.  This is probably not their first choice of what would be built there.  He does appreciate the fact that they are keeping the vegetation and the 25 foot setback.  He has a public safety concern about the driveway going onto Waldo Avenue.  There is a slight crest in the hill.  Mr. Thomas showed traffic in the early morning at that corner.  This is a main thoroughfare to Dow Chemical Company.  There will be further traffic due to the Dow/Kokam Battery Plant.  The city has added turn signals at this intersection.  They are putting a 24-unit subdivision in a small area that will front onto Waldo Avenue.  Most of those people coming out of those units will be turning to join the traffic already congested in that area.  There is room for the driveway on Ashman Street. 

 

               Dan Moore, 3418 Collingwood, stated the morning and evening commute for the Dow business commuters is a “speed bump” or a drag strip.  It is running the gauntlet trying to get into that traffic.  Placing another driveway close to that traffic light is not a good situation.  No one will be able to make a left turn out of there in the morning and they will not be able to turn right in the evening.  That section of Ashman Street has much lower traffic volumes.  It makes more sense. He likes the 25 foot buffer they have planned.

 

               Richard Water, 3200 Waldo Avenue, states they have the property that abuts this property.  When traffic is stopped, the traffic will allow him to slip out there.  He works up north and he comes down from the north.  He has learned to crowd the center line very hard.  People pass on the right constantly.  That problem gets worse in the winter.  The snow ends up at the end of Fuller Drive.  That makes the gauntlet even worse trying to get around the snow on to the road.  About eight years ago, the post office requested they move their mailbox around the corner onto Fuller because they were scared of the traffic on Waldo Avenue.  The new Dow/BPSC center will make the traffic even worse.  It is his understanding that these will be rental units and not condos.  He does not know what that will do to the values of the property up next to this development.  One concern he has had is that there is already clearing going on at that property.  His concern is they are already in there working.  Do the neighbors really have a say in this plan?

 

               Scott Wilhelm, 3611 Collingwood Court, stated it is hard to describe that crest.  If you have a smaller car, you cannot see the traffic coming from the north.  This driveway will block the vision pattern to the north even more.  He cannot understand why they cannot put the retention basin on the Waldo side and the driveway on the Ashman Side.

 

               Kent Winslow, 3410 Collingwood Court, stated he appreciates the investment in the community.  However he has safety concerns.  Please do a traffic study and a visual study of what is currently happening on this road.  He is sure that people on Mark Twain Drive also have the same problems. 

 

               Mike Carpenter, 3514 Mark Twain Drive, has lived in this area for 16 years.  The pressure is already high on Waldo Avenue.  No one is challenging the quality of Mr. Schauman’s work.  It is the entrance on Waldo Avenue that is the concern of the neighbors.  Traffic was high before the Dow/BPSC building came into being.  An additional turn signal was put up recently so this would indicate that there is already a problem in this area.  Traffic has been backed up to Mark Twain Drive during peak rush hours, which is ½ mile.  There is no other option for people in this area to get out except onto Waldo Avenue.  They have no other choice. 

 

               There have been significant changes even recently.  There has been significant development in the Larkin Township area.  These people mostly work at Dow and they come down Waldo Avenue to get to work.  The site location has an East Ashman address.  East Ashman is the logical place to come out.  They can use the traffic light to get out and turn either right or left.  He stated he would welcome the development if they change the location of the access to the property. 

 

               Laura Jardis, 3809 Collingwood Street, stated she takes her son every day to school.  They get up to the stop sign on Fuller and they get right out.  They often have to turn right and then go around on Lambros to get to his school because Waldo Avenue is too congested.  This looks like a very nice development.  It is just the traffic that is of concern.

 

               Mrs. Hills, 3216 Fuller,  She has to make a quick right and then a quick left onto Lambros to take her child to school.  She is holding up traffic on Fuller Drive and would be blocking the entrance to this development if the access is onto Waldo Avenue.

 

               Brian Warner, 3206 Fuller Drive, they have lived there for 22 years now.  He is happy to see development.  He knows that Midland needs additional rental properties.  It comes back to the safety concern about the traffic on Waldo Avenue.  Those pictures that were shown were taken last week when there was no school.  The traffic is worse when school is in session.  He asked the Planning Commission to take a serious look at the traffic in this area. 

 

               Bill Johnson, 3535 E. Ashman, has been there 53 years.  He has a problem with the sidewalk.  Three years ago they defeated the sidewalk in front of the nursing home as there is no one who walks along this area.  He will oppose this site plan so long as the sidewalk is required.  Mr. Mead made the suggestion that all traffic leaving the city landfill make a right-only turn.

 

               Ron Dubrul, 3304 Waldo Avenue stated that, while parking is allowed on Waldo Avenue, no one parks there.  It is a death trap.  He agrees that the egress should be on Ashman Street.

 

               Sarah Jones, 3308 Fuller Drive, seconds all the comments that have been made.  She is very concerned about the traffic flow.  She thinks it is important to remember that it is not just one entry and exit.  It is cramming 24 driveways into that small space.  She rides around that area on her bike with her kids.  The traffic on Ashman is almost mill compared to the traffic on Waldo Avenue.  When the entrance/exit is so close to the intersection, she is very concerned about the safety of that intersection.

 

               Nancy Hall, 3821 Waldo Avenue, has lived here for 16 years.  The cars that were shown backed up were backed up in front of her driveway.  She goes to work early and she backs her car into her driveway.  She goes to work early so she can get out of her driveway.  There is a bus stop south of Waldo which also backs up traffic going through the light.  There are 24 driveways coming out of one driveway.  She is all for the development but living on that road and trying to get out is really difficult.  It is even worse during school time and winter time.  Waldo seems to have picked up traffic considerably over the years.  She feels it has at least doubled over the past 15 years.

 

               Colleen Water, 32 Waldo Avenue.  Their driveway is on Fuller Drive because when they built their house, the contractor was concerned about traffic on Waldo Avenue.  Her concern is that her son crosses the intersection because his bus picks him up by the Express Mart.  The kids are crossing in the dark much of the year.  Having an additional driveway onto Waldo only makes it more dangerous.  The turn lane that they put on Waldo is used by large trucks turning into the landfill area.  That totally fills that left turn lane. 

 

               Mr. Schauman stated he thinks there is a problem with traffic.  Possibly a right exit only to the north would help considerably.  Their other option will be to see what they can do on Ashman Street and try to make something work.  This is a family run business.  They do not want to see anyone get hurt.  They will submit a new plan with the proposed changes.

              

               Contingencies:

 

               1.   The storm water management methods are designed and constructed in accordance with the City of Midland Engineering Department specifications.

               2.   All landscaping shall comply with Article 6 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               3.   All exterior lighting shall comply with Section 3.12 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               4.   All exterior signage shall comply with Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               5.   A soil and sedimentation control plan must be submitted.

 

               Public hearing was closed.

              

      b.      Site Plan No. 307 from Wilcox Professional Services on behalf of Schauman Development for site plan review and approval of East Patrick Road Townhomes, an 18 unit residential townhome development, located at 4009 East Patrick Road.

 

               Ms. Winland showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  This is on the north side of Patrick Road with the nearest intersection at Illinois Avenue.  The subject property is zoned RB.  That is the same as to the west.  To the north is shown as RA-3 Residential, which is a little more dense single-family residential.  There is multi family to the east and to the west. 

 

               This is also a development of four structures with two 5-unit buildings on the north and two 4-unit buildings on the south side.  The buildings will also have a single story unit on each end.  These units would be the same square footage as the previous petition.

 

               This site has been vacant prior to this time.  The ordinance requires 42 trees and 130 shrubs.  The project meets all the setback, lot area, and height restrictions for the zoning district.  This project will preserve the limited existing vegetation to the north of the property.  The turn-around at the end will be changed to be 20’ x 60’ to accommodate emergency vehicles.  Pedestrian circulation is not provided on the interior of the development.  Parking is allowed on only one side of the street.  Soil and sedimentation plans need to be submitted.  Exterior lighting is only on the structure itself.  The city can provide all the public services necessary for this development without any special actions necessary.  This site is adjacent to residential development on all sides.  It is estimated that this, too, will be built in a single construction phase.  Any signage will need to be sensitive to the fact that there is residential development to the north and east.  One written concern was received by the Planning Department.  It is an adjacent property owner who lives to the north.  Their concern is about the drainage onto their property. 

 

               Mr. McLaughlin asked about the area to the west of the site.  Ms. Winland stated it is a constructed area for storm water.  There is a Consumers Energy electrical transmission easement along the west property line.

 

               Eric Spitler, Wilcox Engineering, Dave Schauman, Schauman Development.  Mr. Spitler stated this is very similar to the previous development.  Addressing the drainage, as it sits currently, there is a portion of this property that naturally drains to the back of the property.  There is roughly an acre of property that drains to the northwest corner.  When this project is developed there will be just a small area that drains to the northwest corner of this property.  They will have reduced the drainage from this property by 90 percent.  The lights will be sodium lights.

 

               Mr. Senesac asked about parking.  Mr. Schauman stated there is a clause in the lease that tenants will park in the garage.  They plow the driveways and cars in the driveway would preclude the plowing.  Typically there will not be parking in the road.  The driveways are 35 feet long.  This is considered to be a private drive. 

 

               There were no comments in support of the petition.

 

               Susan Weitz, 5409 Sunset Drive, stated she and her husband own rental properties on Jay Street.  She requested that the Commission postpone the hearing on this site plan.  They purchased property at 1317 Jay Street.  They have approximately 209 feet along the property of Schauman Development.  This would make her one acre parcel in the back a totally land-locked area and totally worthless.  There are two other issues – it would provide for a potential park in this area.  The children on Jay Street are bussed over to Longview Elementary School.  She does not know how the children will get to the bus stop without walking through her property.  It would be used as additional parking space for the residents of this development. 

 

               No one else spoke in opposition to this site plan.  The petitioners had no further comments.

 

               Contingencies:

 

               1.   The storm water management methods are designed and constructed in accordance with the City of Midland Engineering Department specifications.

               2.   All landscaping shall comply with Article 6 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               3.   All exterior lighting shall comply with Section 3.12 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               4.   All exterior signage shall comply with Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               5.   A soil and sedimentation control plan must be submitted.

 

               Public hearing was closed.

 

4.   Old Business

 

      a.      Site Plan No. 305 from Three Rivers Corporation on behalf of Grounds for a Better World, LLC for site plan review and approval for a 44,198 square foot 5 story multi-use building located at 114 East Main Street. 

 

               Mr. Baker showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  The property encompasses the vacant parcel at 114 E. Main and now incorporates the previous Omelets and More building and a parcel that was acquired from the Midland Daily News.  The property is on Main Street and Ashman Street.  It is in the Downtown zoning district classification and in the Downtown Overlay District.  The site plan snows the two building envelopes that will be occupied with the new development.  A stairwell leads up from Ashman Street.  Parking is provided for this development. 

 

               This is in an existing building envelope and in the Downtown zoning district so there is a zero lot line setback requirement.  There are eight stalls for parking.  Landscaping was noted in the previous staff report.  There are four standard contingency items:

     

               The new development would provide on site collection of storm water.  Landscaping has been identified.  Exterior lighting meets the requirements of the ordinance.  Staff recommends approval. 

 

               Mrs. Hanna asked about the number of cars coming out onto Ashman Street and a concern about safety.  Mr. Baker stated that the traffic is already one-way so all the traffic would only be going one way.  There are only eight parking stalls.  There are two lanes on Ashman Street, both going southbound.  Mrs. Hanna also asked about pervious rather than impervious surfaces for parking.  Mr. Baker deferred that question to the petitioner.  Mrs. Hanna asked about the noise on the open area bar on the roof.  Mr. Baker stated the City of Midland does not have a noise ordinance.  It would be handled by the Police Department regarding disturbing the peace.  They would have to make a decision if the noise was significant enough to cause concern. 

 

               Mr. Mead asked if there was any additional correspondence.  The Planning Department has received none.

 

               Wes Kohn with Three Rivers Corporation in Midland.  They have spoken with the City Engineering Department about this issue.  They are making the curb cut smaller than it is today.  They are cutting that back and adding more sidewalk to increase the visibility in this area.  They are looking at pervious asphalt would be their plan. 

 

               Mr. David Helgerson, 2105 Springwood Drive, Midland, stated that there was a wonderful collaborative effort in making this happen.  The first floor has to be retail use.  They are doing studies at this time to see what would add to the downtown community.  They are not looking to duplicate a menu that already exists downtown.  They are looking to bring more people to Midland from the Great Lakes Bay Region.  The intended use for the 3rd floor is for office space and the top floor would be one and two bedroom apartments with a deck on the top.

 

               No one spoke in support of or in opposition to this petition.

 

               Motion by Hanna, seconded by Stewart, to recommend to City Council the approval of Site Plan No. 305 from Three Rivers Corporation on behalf of Grounds for a Better World, LLC for site plan review and approval for a 44,198 square foot 5 story multi-use building located at 114 East Main Street contingent on the following. 

 

               1.   The storm water management system is designed and constructed in accordance with the City of Midland Engineering Department specifications.

               2.   All landscaping shall comply with Article 6 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               3.   All exterior lighting shall comply with Section 3.12 of the Zoning Ordinance.

               4.   All exterior signage shall comply with Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

               Mr. Senesac feels it meets the criteria and he supports it.  Mr. Pnacek and Mr. McLaughlin support it also.  Mr. Mead also is in support of the plan.

              

               Vote:

 

               YEAS:          Hanna, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart, Tanzini and Young

               NAYS:          None

               ABSENT:     Brown

 

      Motion was approved 8-0. 

 

         b.   Recommendation by the City of Midland Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee to install a dedicated bike lane with limited parking restrictions on Swede Avenue between Wackerly Street and E. Patrick Road.

 

               Mr. Baker presented the proposal of the Dedicated Bike Lane.  In 2009, following the endorsement of the Planning Commission and its Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee, the city completed and adopted a Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.

 

               Why a Bike Lane on Swede?  It is not just random colored lines on a map.  Swede is 36 feet in width.  It has two lanes with a center turn lane at intersections.  It is marked at 35 mph.  There are approximately 6,500 to 8,500 vehicle trips per day depending upon the block or section.  Parking is restricted at key intersections and south of Eastlawn Drive.  This would provide a direct route between Wackerly Street and E. Patrick Road.  This is one of the considerations in designating it as a bike lane.  There are some parking restrictions already on Swede Avenue. 

 

               A bike lane on Swede is part of an integrated bike network.  It is a key north-south commuter route through the city.  It connects the east-west feeder bike routes and bike lanes on Eastlawn, Sugnet, and Patrick Road.  Bike lanes are safer than bike routes on busier streets or cycling on sidewalks.  There would be a 5 foot travel lane for the bicyclists and two 13-foot lanes for vehicle traffic. 

 

               New Input:

 

·   Most recent counts were taken between April and June of 2011.  Parking tickets would be $15.00.  Enforcement is complaint driven.

·   Seasonal parking rules would be permitted. 

·   Joggers, skaters, electric mobility devices, and walkers are all considered “pedestrians” and should utilize sidewalks – EMD’s can use street when sidewalk is obstructed but must follow motor vehicle rules and signage.

 

Public Input Opportunities:

 * Letter dated May 20, 2011 to all residents

*  Press release dated May 27th (Open House)

* June 2, 2011 – neighborhood open house

* Public hearing notice dated June 11, 2011 (press release and mailed to all residents)

* Midland Daily News articles

* July 12, 2011 public hearing

* July 26, 2011 – Planning Commission meeting

* August 22, 2011 – City Council Meeting

* E-mails, letters, petitions, etc.

 

         Possible options:

·   Bike lane with no parking

·   Add pavement width to accommodate both bike and parking lanes

·   Bike lane with parking restrictions

·   Bike lane with parking permitted

·   Bike lane with restricted parking on alternate sides of the street at different times of the day

·   Two-way bike lane on one side of the street (not permitted by state law unless physically separated from travel lanes).

 

         NMT Committee Recommendation:

·   Bike lane standard design practice is “No Parking”.  Committee feels restricted parking is adequate for the anticipated bike traffic. 

·   May need to consider special needs exemptions

·   Dedicated bike lanes are proven to be the safest design for a street like Swede and to encourage maximum use.

·   The proposal would not negatively affect such activities as:

         fall leaf collection

         snow removal

         Heavy item pick-up

         UPS/Fed Ex deliveries

         Lawn services or temporary contractor parking

·   This decision is expected to establish the precedent for other streets, including Eastlawn, Orchard and Sugnet.

         In summary:

·   The NMT Committee recognizes that engineering best practices are to not allow parking in bike lanes at any time.

 

 

Dave Waite, Emerson Court, perhaps if you approve this lane it will take some traffic off Waldo Avenue.  What they are proposing is a “best practice” based on 50 years of study.  Bike lanes are listed in the NASHTO standards and the ASHTO standards and many of the European standards.  For effectively increasing the well-being of people in a community, a combination of bike lanes and pathways is the way to go. Most vehicle trips in the area would be between 2,000 and 10,000.  This makes Swede Avenue an ideal area for a bike lane.  There are over 100 cities in North America that have installed bike lanes.  There is not one city that allows the freedom of parking.  All the bike lanes in San Francisco have no parking allowed. 

 

They received over 250 positive support comments.  The petitions were not only at bike shops.  They were at the tennis center, at Smitty’s Gym and various other places.  They were not all bikers.  There were only about 10 against.  Therefore, it should be a fairly easy decision. 

 

Kerry Irons, 4501 Cruz Drive, commuted to work for 30 years on Bayliss Street.  When the leaves are very wet, you steer around them.  When you are going in a straight line, they are not a problem. 

 

Dirk Westbury, 812 E. St. Andrews, stated he is a transportation planner for the Bay City area.  He does a lot of work in the Bay City area.  He does support a bike lane but he does not support the parking with the bike lane.  People should not be allowed to park over bike lanes.  Any future bike lanes, you are probably going to have to allow parking over those bike lanes as well.  Parking over these bike lanes is ticketable.  If you are allowing parking, it is a parking lane.  If it is a bike lane, it is a dedicated bike lane.  It becomes a ticketable offense. 

 

Jim Schmidt, 312 W. Carpenter Street, stated he has had the pleasure of biking in all three of the tri-cities.  The plan that is laid out is standard for the industry.  When you do these things differently, it does not work.  People have been working on these for 50 years.  If we are going to do this, let’s do it right.

 

John Geminder, 2215 Hillgrove Pkwy.  Hillgrove comes out onto Swede.  He has lived there for 33 years.  He owns Bicycle Headquarters in Midland.  A lot of the work the NMT Committee has done has been good work but bike lanes is not one of them.  We do not have the traffic density of Detroit, Chicago, Seattle, or New York City.  He went out this morning at 7:00 and watched the traffic on Swede Avenue.  From 7:10 to 7:30, they average 6.4 cars per minute.  From 7:41 to 7:51, it averaged 15 cars per minute.  While he was there, there were four people going by on bicycles.  This gives you some idea what you are dealing with.  He sat through the last meeting and listened to what was presented.  There are just as many or more studies that show that bike lanes are not safer for bikers.  To try to solve this issue as an Engineering problem is not the way to go.  He is not willing to sit back and watch a facility put in that may be dangerous.  You can’t have part-time parking in a bike lane.  If it is there, we have to train people to deal with it.  He received an e-mail today from the Ann Arbor Chronicle about an accident between a car and a bicycle.  This would not have happened if the bicyclist had been in the appropriate lane.  Bike lanes take away some of the freedom you feel when you are riding a bike.  Also there is the expense.  The expense for Swede was projected to be 40% public money.  Does this include yearly maintenance?  He has a problem spending money on things that are not effective.  Swede is wide enough that, with very minimal training, you should be able to operate there with no problem.  He does not believe this bike lane is needed.  You cannot put a bike lane on every street.  You should also be concerned about right hand turns going south on Swede during school hours. 

 

Mr. Waite responded to the proposition for a wider bike lane.  This would not be feasible.  They are currently following a 5 “E’s” model.  One of those “E’s” is “Education”.  They are working with the police and working through schools to educate the population.  A bike lane has a better safety record than no bike lanes or sidewalks.  In his mind, this is still the right solution to moving Midland into a more bicycle friendly community. 

 

Motion by Hanna, to have bike lanes on Swede Avenue between Wackerly and Patrick Roads. Mr. Senesac stated that it is difficult to support bike lanes without knowing the parking restrictions.  Motion fails due to lack of a second.

 

Motion by Senesac, supported by Tanzini, to adopt the Swede Avenue NMT Plan as presented.  Mr. Senesac stated he does not know how he is going to vote on this.  It is retrofitting this onto a street that is not wide enough.  If you place bike lanes on both sides of the street, you are down to 8 foot traffic lanes, which are too narrow.  Bike lanes will encourage new riders.  These are less experienced riders and they will not follow the rules as well.  You now have people riding with perhaps cars on both sides of the street.  They have to get into the traffic lane if there are cars on both sides of them.  You have situations of parked cars and the potential of opened doors and the riders riding into them and getting hurt.  A lot of his research he found is similar to what has been said.  “No Parking” lanes are safer than allowing parking but he is not sure that is what he wants in this area. 

 

Mr. Stewart said he has biked in many communities for many years.  Putting in bike lanes will increase bikers who want to be out on the road.  It will instill a sense of security in people who may not have the skills.  Bike lanes end prior to getting to the intersections.  Most bike accidents occur at intersections where cars are making turns.  He thinks it is a good idea to promote biking and to get people out there.  He also thinks it is important that people be educated on how to keep themselves safe.  It is also important for drivers to be educated on how to be safe on the road.  He thinks bike lanes are a good idea but he is not sure we are ready here. 

 

Mr. Pnacek stated he is divided as well.  He has a concern for the homeowners on Swede Avenue.  He saw a proposal about having them go get permits to park their vehicles and he is against that. 

 

Mr. Tanzini is also divided.  He grew up here and has ridden his bicycle around Midland for years.  We are voting on something very specific.  They are voting on limiting parking for home owners in front of their homes.  He is not sure how he will come down on this one.

 

Mr. McLaughlin favors a separate bike lane.  He is a biker and where he would feel the most comfortable.  He thinks they should do everything they can to promote biking around Midland.  If they were to retrofit Swede Avenue with a divided bike lane, they have implied that there is no parking on Swede Avenue.  He can understand both sides.  This is a difficult subject to come up with the right answer. 

 

Mrs. Hanna favors the idea of promoting the bike lane but she cannot favor the restricting parking on the street.  She also thinks there needs to be additional work done about traffic at the two intersections where traffic crosses Swede to get to the schools.  There needs to be a traffic device to control traffic during the hours when kids are coming and going to school.

 

Mr. Young stated he has heard that “if you are going to do it – do it right”.  It boils down to the time of day, the time of year, and people who pay attention.  He supports bike lanes but he does not support this petition as presented.  He is opposed to it as he thinks it is too confusing for folks to figure it out.

 

Mr. Stewart stated that if it is decided that bike lanes are a good idea, parking should be prohibited.

 

Mr. Mead stated he has been listening.  Perhaps they should have signs that say “Bike Lanes – Please Limit Parking”.  A year later, they should look at it again and see what happens with it.  This is as close as they are going to come to agreeing on it. 

 

Brian McManus, City Engineer, Steve Dearing, Traffic Engineer.  Mr. Tanzini asked if a trial could be done and then reviewed or removed after a year.  Mr. Dearing stated that this is done all the time when you are working on a road and you have to re-route traffic.  Mr. Dearing stated that there is not enough room so how do you accommodate parking, travel and bike lanes.  The cleanest would be no parking.  They have done the research in the Michigan Traffic Code.  If you are regulating traffic, it has to be in a form that a traffic officer can enforce and understand. 

 

There is an annual Engineering Priorities List where the Engineering Department could fund it and bring it to City Council.  They can put it forward through that process for widening the road. 

 

Mr. Senesac withdrew his motion and Mr. Tanzini withdrew his second of the motion.  Mr. Pnacek suggested they have a special meeting prior to the next meeting to discuss options.  Mr. Mead suggested we have a special meeting after the next meeting to discuss options.  Staff will communicate with commissioners to schedule a special meeting.  Motion by Senesac, seconded by Pnacek, to table the motion until it can be studied further.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

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

 

      Kent Southworth, 3409 Swede Avenue, asked if it would be possible to have a Swede Avenue resident on the committee.  Mr. Baker stated these will be work sessions by the Planning Commission but they would be publicized.

 

6.   New Business

 

      None

     

7.   Communications

 

      None

 

8.   Report of the Chairperson

 

      None

 

9.  Report of the Planning Director

 

     None

 

10. Adjourn               

 

     Adjournment at 10:10 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