MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

AUGUST 23, 2011, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

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

ABSENT:   Young

VACANCY:  One

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, Cindy Winland, Contract Planner, and 23 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Hanna, seconded by Tanzini, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of August 9, 2011 as written. Motion passed unanimously.

3.   Public Hearings

     

      a.   Conditional Use Permit No. 40, the request of Wilcox Professional Services on behalf of Matekel General Contracting for Wackerly Place, a 10 unit residential apartment development, zoning OS Office Service, located at 1100 West Wackerly Street.

 

            Mr. Baker stated the developer is Matekel General Contracting for 21st Century Hoyne, LLC.  The proposed location of this project is 1100 W. Wackerly Street on 1.25 acres of land, which is zoned Office Service.  Multiple-family residential is a conditional use in the Office Service District to reduce potential for future conflict or nuisance.  It is adjacent to office uses to the east, a hotel/conference center to the west and single family residential to the south.  It must meet the discretionary (conditional use) and non-discretionary (site plan review) criteria.  The property is located on the north side of Wackerly Street, just south of US-10.  The Midland Resort and Conference Center is to the west.  There are a couple medical offices to the east and the Mall property is across US-10 on the north and residences to the south.  The property is currently vacant and heavily wooded.  The proposal is for 10 townhome units (two five unit buildings).  They would have 2-car garages with separate driveways on a private road.  There would be a 4-foot paved walking path and 5-foot public sidewalks on Wackerly Street. 

 

            The entrance will be off Wackerly, running straight north with a hammer-head turn around.  There is storm water retention on the west side of the property and landscaping that will surround the perimeter of the property. 

 

            The Discretionary Criteria include the following:

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 surrounding land uses.

 

Staff recommendation is for approval.  The proposed use is consistent with the Future Land Use map of the city’s Master Plan.  The property is identified on the Future Land Use map as being Office Service. 

 

There have been no public comments received to date.  The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing this evening and take action on this petition on September 13, 2011.  It will go to the City Council for a public hearing on October 24, 2011.

 

Mrs. Hanna asked how many trees will be cut from this wooded lot.  It is currently a heavily wooded lot.  Mr. Baker stated that the majority of the site is taken up with development.  Mr. McLaughlin asked if there is sidewalk required on this property.  Mr. Baker stated sidewalks are required on this property.  There is currently development on both sides of this property but neither of them have sidewalks. 

 

Eric Spitler, Wilcox Professional Services, stated this is a pretty compact site.  If there is any way the developer could have saved some of the trees, they would have.  The storm water retention takes up most of the open space on the site.  Mr. Senesac asked how many cars would fit in the driveways.  Mr. Spitler stated two would fit.  There is room for two cars in the garage and two cars in the driveway.  There is no room for additional parking.  There is no screening on the east side of the property.  There are some trees proposed on the north side along the highway. 

 

Mrs. Hanna asked what will be around the detention pond for protection.  Mr. Spitler stated the city does not require screening at the slope that it will be graded.  This will not have water in it all the time.  Greg Matekel stated this is a very shallow area.  It will not have standing water in it.  It will be clear cut and have a nice lawn. 

 

Mr. Senesac stated that Mr. Baker recommended there be additional screening on the east side.  Mr. Matekel stated he wants to get the project built and then see what would be the best kind of screening for this area.  He is more apt to use landscaping materials.  He will be doing something there but he just does not know what yet.  He will probably use pine trees for screening to the north.  These units are 2-bedroom and 2-bath.  There will be no basements.  They will be on crawl spaces.  Many of them will be “corporate rented” with long leases.  The residents will have limited stays. 

 

No one spoke in favor of the petition.

 

Gil Harter, his property is directly across Wackerly Road.  Wackerly Road does not permit on-street parking.  It looks to Mr. Harder that this is a small piece of property that they are trying to put too much on.  They will have a central driveway and everyone that comes out of there at night will shine their headlights into his back yard.  This was originally a wooded area.  Now there is a light problem, a noise problem and he does not know what else.  There are four offices to the east of this.  They have all managed to develop their properties leaving a substantial number of trees. Mr. Harder objects to this and thinks they should come in with a much smaller development.

 

Mike Staloch, 1010 Pepperidge Court, stated he also thinks they are trying to place too much on too small a lot.  He does not think we should speculate on who will be renting there.  They have clear-cut 86 percent of the site.  They are not preserving any of the natural features.  There is talk about putting fencing on the east side but that does not protect the residential area to the south.  There are no trees or buffers on the Wackerly Street side.  There is some issue about getting children across Wackerly Street to Siebert to get to school.  Since they are going to clear-cut the land, there will be few natural features remaining.  They are trying to pack too much into too small an area.  It is a relatively small site.

 

Althea Mulloy, 1006 Pepperidge Court, stated if you try to get out onto Wackerly from Siebert at any time of the day, you have a problem.  Cars are lined up from Eastman Avenue down to the doctor’s office.  They have asked for another stop light and it has not happened.

 

Mr. Matekel stated he could have had 14 units on this property but he chose to go with ten.  The reason they have had to cut so many trees is that, prior to detention ponds, they did not have to cut as many trees.

 

      Public hearing was closed.

 

      b.   Zoning Text Amendment No. 153, initiated by Joseph F. Fiordaliso, to amend Section 2.02, Section 14.02 and Section 9.03 of the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance to define and permit chickens and ducks in the single family zoning districts provided certain standards are met.

    

            The proposed zoning text amendment was initiated by Joseph F. Fiordaliso, of 700 Linwood Drive, to permit chickens and ducks with special standards in single family residential zoning districts of the City of Midland.  Mr. Fiordaliso has chickens and ducks in his yard at this time and is seeking to legalize keeping these animals and is working with staff to legalize these regulations.

 

            Mr. Fiordaliso was found to have on his property at 700 Linwood Drive, approximately 15 chickens and ducks in violation of Article 14 of the City of Midland  Zoning Ordinance.  He was ordered to remove the animals or face further enforcement action.  He requested the opportunity to seek an amendment to the ordinance.  The deficiency identified by the petitioner is about the keeping of any fowl as defined by the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance is expressly prohibited.

 

            In Section 14.01 of the Zoning Ordinance is the statement of purpose for the RA-1, RA-2, RA-3, RA-4, one and two family residential districts.  It is further the intent of these Districts to permit a limited range of uses that are related to and compatible with residential land use, and which would contribute to the richness and stability of neighborhoods.  Uses that would interfere with the quality of single family residential life are prohibited in these Districts. 

 

            Section 2.02 – Definitions

            Add –

            DUCKS:  Any of various wild or domesticated female swimming birds of the family Anatidae, characteristically having a broad, flat bill, short legs, and webbed feet, kept for its eggs or meat.  For purposes of this ordinance, a duck does not include geese, swans or other birds of this family. 

 

            We would also have to amend the definitions of what domesticated animals are. 

 

            Section 9.03(B) provides proposed restrictions:

·         Must obtain a permit from the City of Midland.

·         Keep no more than fifteen (15) chickens or ducks or combination thereof.

·         The principal use of the property is for a single-family residence.

·         No person shall keep any rooster.

·         No person shall slaughter any chickens on the premises.

·         Chickens or ducks must be kept in an enclosure.

·         The enclosure must be at least 10 feet from a property line.

·         Enclosures and animals must be kept in the rear yard.

·         Enclosures must be kept at least 40 feet from adjacent residential structures.

·         Enclosures must meet minimum construction and material requirements.

·         Minimum requirements for food storage.

·         No sale of, or signage for, fresh eggs or meat is permitted.

 

This section shall not regulate the keeping of chickens in those areas zoned Agricultural district, where the raising of poultry is a permitted principal use when conducted in compliance with the Michigan Right to Farm Act (MRTFA) and the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices.  The MRTFA is not applicable in municipalities with zoning when the property is zoned single family residential. 

 

Is the proposed amendment consistent with the City’s Master Plan?  This is undetermined.  However, the Master Plan does not provide for any agricultural areas in the City in the future. 

 

Have conditions changed since the Zoning Ordinance was adopted that justifies the amendment?  No, however, the keeping of chickens is becoming more popular in urbanized areas as is shown by the number of communities in Michigan and nationally that have permitted the raising and keeping of chickens by ordinance.  Some communities also permit ducks and treat them in the same way as chickens from a regulatory standpoint.

 

Was there a mistake in the Zoning Ordinance that justifies the amendment?  No.  The ordinance was amended within the last two years to clarify the definitions of farm, domestic, exotic and service animals.  This amendment opened up an opportunity to introduce chickens and ducks as domestic animals and therefore permitted animals in the residential districts.  There was no discussion, intent or desire at the time to include chicks or ducks as permitted uses.

 

Will the amendment correct an inequity created by the Zoning Ordinance?  No.  The ordinance, as written, applies equally in all residential districts.  Chickens and ducks are permitted in the agricultural district in the city at this time.  Permitting fowl in the residential districts could be considered an inequity among those who live in residential districts and would oppose their inclusion due to the stated purpose of the district.

 

Will the amendment merely grant special privileges?  No.  The amendment is intended to clarify conditions under which chickens and ducks could be permitted in the city’s residential districts. 

 

Will the amendment result in unlawful exclusionary zoning?  No.  This proposed language would apply to every person and all locations where single family residential uses are permitted.

 

Some other Michigan cities with similar ordinances include Ann Arbor, Traverse City, East Lansing, Grand Haven Township, and East Grand Rapids.

 

Some potential identified issues:

·         Noise (particularly with ducks)

·         Odor/waste storage & removal

·         Attraction of rodents

·         Appearance (materials and cleanliness) of enclosures

·         Enforcement

·         Permitting/banding?

·         Chickens, ducks or both?

·         If so, how many are appropriate?

 

Staff recommendation is for approval (with reduced number of animals permitted).  Four public comments have been received to date.  The Planning Commission has previously discussed this issue and at those times determined not to proceed with any ordinance amendment.  The Planning Commission is holding their public hearing on August 23, 2011.  They will take action on September 13th.  City Council will hold a public hearing on October 24th.  This ordinance amendment would become effective upon publication, if adopted.

 

Mr. Senesac asked about the mini-pig process, which took a different path from this issue.  Mr. Baker stated the ordinance for mini-pigs was an amendment to the Code of Ordinances, versus the Zoning Ordinance.  There were several requirements that were required to comply with this ordinance.  Mini-pigs were denied under the Zoning Ordinance and by special use permit.  However, the City Council took it upon themselves to amend the Code of Ordinances in order to allow the mini-pigs under certain conditions.

 

Why would we allow chickens and ducks to be raised as a meat source when we do not permit pigs as a meat source?  Mr. Senesac did not see the difference.  Mr. Baker stated it did not matter whether the animal was raised as a meat source or as a pet but the animal could not be slaughtered on the residential site. 

 

Mr. Senesac asked if any cities removed the allowance for chickens or ducks after they had been allowed?  Both Mr. Baker and Ms. Winland stated they know of none who have rescinded their ordinances, but the original regulations were modified to become stricter after they were allowed.  Mr. Senesac stated that chickens can fly.  Mr. Baker stated that they will have to be kept enclosed, although there is not a minimum or maximum height required for the fencing.  Ms. Winland stated there are very few communities that permit ducks. 

 

Mrs. Hanna asked approximately how many residential homes are there in single family residential areas in Midland.  Mr. Baker stated there are about 11,000 or 12,000 single family homes in Midland.  Mrs. Hanna stated if everyone had chickens, we could have a significant number of chickens in the area. 

 

Mr. McLaughlin asked about the permit that was discussed regarding this issue.  Mr. Baker stated the permit would expire and become invalid five years after the date of issuance.  That is what has been proposed.  Mr. McLaughlin also asked about the four zoning districts that were identified.  Was there any discussion regarding having fewer than the four zoning districts allow these types of uses? 

 

Joseph Fiordaliso, 700 Linwood Drive, Midland.  He appreciates the opportunity to bring this subject before the Commission.  He is 73 years old.  He has spent almost all his life in public service.  He came to Midland when he was 65 years old.  He stated he probably should have known that there would be some restrictions on keeping chicks and ducks in the city.  However, when someone started selling them about a year and a half ago, this gave him something to get out of the house and enjoy.  The animals do respond to you.  The female ducks do make a racket but that’s only when they think they are going to get fed.  In the beginning, he had a couple of roosters.  He got rid of the roosters on his own as they made so much noise.  His neighbors asked what happened to the roosters?  They enjoyed listening to them.  Where does it stop?  If the Planning Commission decided they wanted to ban something else, they could do it and everyone would have to live with it.  If he is not hurting anyone, what harm is he doing?  Perhaps the ordinance should not be there.  When ordinances are created, they are usually related to public safety.  There is nothing violating public safety by keeping a few chickens or ducks in the back yard. 

 

The Midland Daily News called Mr. Fiordaliso and asked if he wanted to put an article in the newspaper.  A television station had also contacted him but they had a more pressing news story to cover tonight. 

 

Jim Schreiber, 1306 Wallen Street, stated he and his wife have a couple comments.  On the positive side, everyone should be a good pet owner.  Everyone is not a good pet owner.  Not everyone will want to have chickens or ducks.  Lots of people have dogs or cats.  Chickens are like a dog in some aspects.  He would like to see the ordinance changed, but with controls.  The other point is, his wife is a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  This past Friday, they had a chicken and a duck that 9-1-1 called and sent to them.  The Sheriff’s Department also brings animals to their home that need to be rehabilitated.  His wife also has a state permit.  When they take in a duckling to rehabilitate, they will be in violation of the ordinance if this is not passed.  There is no place for people to bring animals that need help except Mrs. Schreiber.

 

Denton and Kellie Gilmore.  Mr. Gilmore showed photos of chicken houses.  They are all different styles.  He does not agree with having fowl free-roaming.  The houses will have to have tops on them.  The 4-H factor is there, too.  The people do not want to live in the country, but they want their kids to be involved with 4-H.  Living in the city is very convenient.  However, they would like to have their kids involved in 4-H someday.  The restrictions have to be there.  However, they would like to see them allowed in the city.  He has to tag his dogs.  Why not band chickens?  He does not agree with roosters.  Mrs. Gilmore stated that, as far as being good pet owners, she is a good pet owner.  People do not clean up after their dogs.  Why are there not more regulations for cats?  Why are there no leash laws for cats?  It all goes back to being a good pet owner. 

 

Carol Schreiber, 1306 Wallen, stated that, if you require a permit, at least you can monitor the pet owners.  You would at least know who has them and where they are.  She gets pets from all over town.

 

Rick Proskow, 208 W. Chapel Lane, stated he grew up in Jersey City in the 1950’s.  They had chickens in the 1950’s in Jersey City.  Right now you are allowed to have chickens in New York.  He grows vegetables in his back yard.  You can find all sorts of products at the farmer’s market today.  It’s just the way the population of America is moving, toward knowing what they are eating and getting in touch with what they have.  He would like to have chickens for their eggs.  People who raise chickens for eggs become more attached to them because they become like pets.  People enjoy relating to the chickens.  Times are changing.  Chickens are not messy at all and they get rid of lots of bugs.  He uses the manure in his yard for fertilizer.  The city would have the right to manage it if it required permits for them.

 

Brandon Sinclair stated he is a sixth generation Midlander.  He just graduated from MSU in sustainable agriculture.  As long as there are no roosters, he cannot see why property owners should not be allowed to have up to 15 chickens in the yard.  He has been trying to make more connections and grow more of his own food.  Midland boasts to being the City of Modern Explorers.

 

April, 1108 Airfield Lane, just moved here from Colorado.  Two towns she has lived in before have allowed chickens in residential areas.  They did choose a home in the city of Midland for its schools, parks, and sidewalks.  It would be nice to give her children the opportunity to pull a warm egg out from under a chicken.

 

Hannah Hunger, 5312 Nurmi Drive, stated that just like everyone who lives in the country could have a horse, they do not all have horses.  Not everyone would be interested in having chickens.  She would also like to be able to have a few chickens at her home. 

 

Kara Malkowski, 3217 Pomranky Road, stated that she is really glad this has come up.  She has had friends who have tried to raise chickens in the city and were forced to get rid of them.  The restrictions of having the enclosure 10 feet from a property line and 40 feet from a neighboring residence, you are excluding many residences by having those restrictions.  It is great that we are considering joining the most vibrant communities in the nation.  The points made about letting families raise some of their own food are very valid.  It encourages families to teach their kids about life cycles and responsibility.  There is lots of evidence that there are easy ways to get rid of fecal materials.  It is a cycle.  Everyone needs to be educated about it.  She has friends who live in Homer Township, who have chickens for the first time in their lives and they love having them.

 

            No one spoke in opposition to the petition.

 

Mr. Fiordaliso stated the flying can be controlled.  He has clipped the wings of all his chickens so they cannot fly.  He cleans their enclosure every day.  He has not solved the water issue for his ducks yet. 

 

            Public hearing was closed.

 

4.   Old Business

 

      None

 

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

 

      None

 

6.   New Business

 

      None        

     

7.   Communications

 

      Several communications were received regarding the petition about fowl tonight.

 

8.   Report of the Chairperson

 

      Next Tuesday night will be a work session about non-motorized transportation on Swede Avenue.

 

 

 

9.  Report of the Planning Director

 

     The City Council approved both townhouse developments by Schauman Development.  Regarding the Pnacek rezoning of property on Joseph Drive, City Council also approved that petition, following the offering of three additional conditions and amending one of the initial conditions.  Mr. Mead suggested having a work session with City Council regarding the Conditional Zoning review process as it can be very confusing. 

 

     Mr. Senesac stated each year staff comes to the Commission with proposed text changes and these changes are considered on their merits.  He questioned how the process will proceed with the Zoning Text Amendment at the next meeting.  Mr. Baker suggested they discuss some of the process questions at the work session next Tuesday.  Mr. Senesac asked staff to check into how many communities also allow ducks in addition to chickens.

 

10. Adjourn               

 

     Adjournment at 8:43 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