MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

SEPTEMBER 27, 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:   

VACANCY:  One

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, Cindy Winland, Contract Planner, and 34 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Hanna seconded by McLaughlin, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of September 13, 2011 as written. Motion passed unanimously.

3.   Public Hearings

     

      a.   Zoning Petition No. 576, initiated by MLR Engineering on behalf of Niche Properties to rezone property at 4659 and 4671 South Saginaw Road from Regional Commercial and Residential A-1 zoning to Residential B zoning.  (Postponed by petitioner until October 11, 2011 meeting.)

 

4.   Old Business

 

      a.   Conditional Use Permit No. 41, the request of DeShano Construction Company for a 49 unit 3-story senior multiple family apartment building, located at 5510 Eastman Avenue.

 

            Ms. Winland showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  It is located at 5510 Eastman Avenue on 2.42 acres.  This property is zoned Office Service.  Multiple-family residential is a conditional use in the Office Service District.  The footprint of the building will be 19,215 sq. ft.  It is a proposal for 49 dwelling units.  This particular use will be subject to objective criteria as well as subjective criteria, which are those that are conditioned upon special criteria under special conditions.  Office Service zoning runs up and down Eastman Avenue on the east side.  Single family residential completely surrounds the site.  The fence structure that is shown is now delineated as a brick structure.  On the east side are carports. 

 

            In 1991 there was a consent judgment that prohibits specific uses on the site, including schools, churches, rooming houses, fire stations, public utility facilities and radio broadcasting studios.  A 6 foot high brick wall on the east side is required along with 2.5 feet high of plantings on the Eastman Avenue side.  This site plan meets all the requirements of the zoning ordinance.  At the public hearing, it was mentioned that the structure would be 38 feet tall.  The petitioner states it will be only 37 feet high.  There is adequate parking with 67 spaces, 42 of which are covered.  There will be two drives, per the Zoning Ordinance.  The north driveway is exit only.  The landscaping requirements are met.  They will be preserving the eastern 32 feet of vegetation.  This structure could be as high as five stories, given its setback.  Conditional Land Use Criteria include protection of public health, safety and general welfare, compatibility with surrounding land uses, the impact of traffic, adequacy of public services, protection of site characteristics, compatibility with the natural environment, and compatibility with the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance,

 

            There was a question about the hours of operation.  We are not able to regulate the hours of any use on the property.  There was another question about adding additional traffic to Eastman Avenue.  The intersection of Dilloway and Eastman has a school crossing.  The average daily traffic volume from 2010 is 21,502 vehicles.  At the peak hour, the traffic count was 2,266.  It was only measured in the p.m.  The maximum peak hour capacity is 7,520.  It is operating at 30% of capacity, which is well below what it is designed to handle.  MDOT rated the level of service on this road to be a “B”.  Stable flow with operating speeds beginning to be restricted somewhat by traffic conditions.  There is reasonable speed to select speed and lane.  Reductions in speed are not unreasonable.  There is a low probability of flow being restricted.  Level of service “B” is not uncommon in urban areas.  Ms. Winland showed a trip generation comparison.  The number of Fire Department calls, based upon other apartment complexes, equates to one fire call every 11 days. 

 

            Staff’s recommendation is for approval.  The proposed use is consistent with the Future Land Use map of the City’s Master Plan.  The project promotes four goals of the Master Plan.  The proposed use as planned meets the intent and purpose of the Zoning Ordinance and the intent of the Office Service District to “serve as a transitional area between single family residential development and more intensive development.”  The Housing Needs Assessment indicates that the City of Midland is low in senior housing, in particular, low-income senior housing. 

 

            The proposed use would not be generally detrimental to the general welfare of the adjacent parcels and neighborhood in staff’s opinion.  The residential properties to the west across Eastman will have a view of a structure that has a residential, as opposed to office or institutional character, and similar to existing development.  Other uses, with greater height and width potentially more problematic characteristics, are permitted by right in this district.  The addition of a 37 foot tall structure could help traffic block noise from Eastman Avenue for residents in the adjacent single family area to the east.  The entrance into the parking area will be entirely obscured by the carport roof and fence or wall, eliminating lights shining into rear yards. 

 

            The entire development has been moved 32 feet west to provide additional distance between the parking area and abutting residential yards.  Eastman Avenue is a state highway with sufficient capacity to accommodate the anticipated additional trips without compromising the level of service.  In staff’s opinion the project promotes density, infill, and mixed uses on a long standing vacant site.  Increased density, infill and mixed uses are all desirable in a highly developed community and the fundamentals of the principles of Smart Growth.  Forty public comments have been received against this petition.  This will go to City Council for a public hearing on November 14, 2011. 

 

            Jon Ledy, Apex Engineers, represents Gary DeShano, of DeShano Construction.  Mr. Ledy stated these are nice developments.  Mr. DeShano’s company manages it.  It will be a nicely run apartment complex.  The concerns about light or trash are unfounded.  Mr. Ledy showed a rendering of the front of the building.  There are shutters on all the windows and a portico over the entrance to the building.  The site plan cross section shows the 32 feet of ground that they will leave untouched and the trees in there.  The building has been adjusted so it is 37 feet from the floor to the peak.  The building will be mostly obscured by the trees in the summer.  The extra 32 feet they provided as a buffer, during the summer, has improved the plan and is an advantage to all the properties abutting this property.  He thinks it will be a nice addition to the neighborhood.  The fence will align pretty much with the fence next door.  Mr. Senesac asked if they would connect to the fence next door so people would not squeeze through.  Mr. Ledy stated they would do that, if they get permission from the doctor next door.  The existing grade of the building is about 631.  The grade behind this development is about the same.  The level of the existing ground is the same as the existing ground behind it.  There is a ravine that runs through there.  The building’s finished floor will be roughly a foot above that. 

 

            Gary DeShano, DeShano Construction Company, stated the exterior of the building will be brick in various areas.  They have not decided on the siding.  They have found cement siding to be very durable.  It is a frame building. 

 

            No one spoke in support of the petition.

 

            Muriel Finken, 5405 Eastman Avenue.  She has lived there since 1988.  She does not want to look at that across the street.  If it is not senior citizens living there, who will be living there?  Will it be low-income housing?  Yes, we do want mixed levels of housing.  However, they do not want low-income housing in their area.  The traffic information is based upon a statistical average.  She leaves very early in the morning.  It is difficult to get out of her driveway now.  She would like to know the rate of accidents for elderly people.  There is no parking for visitors on the site.  The Master Plan goals are very nice.  However, they do not affect the people who live in the neighborhood.  You cannot walk to the Family Fare grocery store.  She does not want older people driving there.  The speed limit is too high. 

 

            Donna Trampel, 1801 Norwood Drive, has lived there just shy of ten years.  She was lead to believe that Eastman Avenue was not that busy.  The existing residents have trouble getting out onto that road.  You can only turn right.  If you want to make a left turn onto Eastman, you have to pull into the center lane.  That is the only way you can get out.  Add 49 to 112 seniors, and see how many of them will get out without getting hit.  She takes exception to goal two of the Master Plan.  You cannot walk on that street.  The sidewalk is inches from the road.  There are only two rows of flowers between the sidewalk and the street.  Just since January of this year, there have been 49 vehicle accidents between Wackerly and Saginaw, and one out of four of those have resulted in injury.  Development like the dentist’s office is appealing to the eye.  It is a single story structure.  It will decrease the value of their homes and the quality of their lives.  The building has been moved further forward which leaves less area for storage. 

 

            Merton Brubaker, lives on the NW corner of Sylvan Lane and Eastman Avenue.  He was surprised when he heard only people within 200 feet were notified of the meeting previously.  Mr. Baker stated it was within 300 feet.  Mr. Mead stated that is the requirement.  Mr. Brubaker asked about the depth of the ravine.  He asked if the property had been tested for wetlands.  Mr. Mead stated that is not the issue they are considering tonight.  Eastman Avenue is one of the primary routes that visitors take to get through the city.  The sketch of the proposed structure looks more like a tenement house, more like you would find in Detroit.  He opposes any type of development between Dilloway and Pheasant Ridge that generates large numbers of vehicles, especially by making a left turn. 

 

            Susan Weitz, 5409 Sunset Drive, stated the Planning Commission does have an e-mail from her and her husband.  She stated that Gary DeShano builds under different entities.  It is difficult to determine which units are his and whether or not they are built properly.  She is far less concerned about the flow of traffic on Eastman, once you are already there, than traffic getting on Eastman Avenue, coming from those units.  She feels it does not meet the general welfare of the residents living nearby.

 

            Mike Skurski, 5400 Wallbridge Lane, stated he submitted a letter.  In reviewing the goals, they are very subjective.  What kind of zoning would senior housing be allowed in?  How much of that is available in the City of Midland?  This is a low density neighborhood.  The 1991 consent order supported that type of zoning. 

 

            Jim Harmala, 1420 Bayberry Lane, noticed that this whole issue does not look to senior citizens.  He is a senior citizen and he would not want to live there.  There is too much traffic.  He has tried to walk it both in the summer and the winter.  The snow piles are so high.  The Midland Council on Aging has provided no input into this proposal.  We cannot limit the hours.  However, Office Service zoning itself limits the hours by virtue of its use.  They were in Ann Arbor a couple weeks ago.  The residential complexes there were set back, made of brick and looked nice.  He thinks the city should look at North Saginaw Road as a better location for this project.

 

            Robert Kelch, 2006 Sylvan Lane, on the west side of Eastman Avenue, agrees with many of the comments presented.  He agrees with the traffic difficulties and he disagrees with some of the statistics presented.  Eastman Avenue is a major entrance into the city.  A 3-story building would stick out like a sore thumb.  Joseph’s Run seems to have vacancies as do places downtown.  The only proponents of this project are those who have a strong financial benefit from this development. 

 

            Dan Devine, 1412 Brentwood Drive, had a couple questions.  He never saw where the air conditioning units are.  He knows something about HVAC units, will they be screened or blocked?  What about light trespassing onto their land?  Is there any shielding?  Looking at the drawing, there is no green space for the seniors.  Out front is the catch basin and there are carports in the back.  This would not be very appealing for the residents.  The walk light is on for five seconds at the corner of Eastman and Dilloway.  You actually have about 25 seconds to cross.

 

            Ron Parmele, 5415 Wallbridge Lane, stated that, after the last meeting he looked at the discretionary standards.  All the development that has occurred so far has been single story.  This is in the middle of single family residential on both sides.  It is a distinctly higher elevation along Eastman Avenue than it is along Wallbridge Lane.  How will that work for drainage?  It is an eyesore to a surrounding property value, that properties would be devalued up to $15,000, or perhaps more than that.  Is the developer a Midland resident?  He is from Gladwin.  He has no stake in Midland.  You have a lot of people living up in Larkin Township.  They come in the morning and go out at night.  He has a hard time turning left onto Eastman from Sylvan Lane at all times of the day.  It is a continual flow of traffic.  It is a business highway at 45 mph. 

 

            Edward Knight, 5604 Eastman Avenue.  He has driven this corridor for the past eight or nine years.  You have to start at Saginaw Road if you are trying to turn onto Sylvan Lane.  Now we are going to add 25 more cars to Eastman Road heading north.  You will have all those cars pulling into the left lane at the light.  It is busy all the time.  The right lane is especially busy.  That is where everyone will be coming out.  If this property goes to being built on, he would like to see Office Service in it.  If they put office service on the first floor and then put residential on top of it that would be O.K. with him.  He would not like to see it all residential. 

 

            The petitioner did not choose to respond. 

 

            Jon Ledy stated there will be ground mounted air conditioning units with vegetation and a fence around them would be a possibility.  Mr. McLaughlin asked about the green space.  Mr. Ledy stated that on the east side of the property there is 32 feet of green space that will remain untouched.  There is green space around the building that will be full of plantings.  The space between the building and Eastman Avenue is also a retention pond but it is a very shallow and will have drains to keep it dry.  There will be a lot of landscaping placed around the building to make it look nice.  People will easily be able to walk across it.  It will be grassy and be mowed.  Mrs. Hanna asked about parking for visitors.  Mr. Ledy stated they meet the parking requirements of the ordinance with 67 spaces available for parking.  There are only 49 units so there is one space per unit and 18 spaces for visitors.  Mr. Mead asked about the light concern.  Mr. Ledy stated there will be some pole lighting around the parking area.  Any lighting on a pole is reflected so it shines down.  It will not illuminate anything outside it.  The carports will block light from going to the east, as well as the masonry wall.  The carports will be lighted from underneath the carports.  The building lights will be in a canister and they generally shine down.  This will be developed according to the ordinance and keep the light shining on the property.

 

            Mr. Pnacek asked Mr. Baker what is the maximum building height allowed in Office Service.  Mr. Baker deferred to Ms. Winland as his property backs up to this proposed development.  Ms. Winland stated the height of the building is determined by use.  If multi-family, height is based on setback.  For three stories or fewer, they only need to meet the setbacks for every use and that is a maximum height of 28 feet unless it is multi-family.  Then you can have three stories with 18 feet additional setback.  An office service building could also be up to five stories high.  The city has reviewed the storm water management plan.  New developments cannot cause storm water to runoff onto surrounding properties.  The city’s Engineering Department has reviewed the topographic plan and has approved it.  Control of lighting would be reviewed by the Building Department. 

 

            Mr. Senesac stated they have received a lot of good input.  There are a variety of issues that have been raised.  Many of the issues raised are outside of the purview of what the Planning Commission can look at.  There is a series of items that have to be checked off.  If the developer meets the criteria, the Planning Commission is obligated to approve the plan.  When he looks at just the building and the site plan, it meets all the criteria for the non-discretionary uses.  It meets all the objective criteria.  He cannot consider what is inside the building, the necessity for the business, the owner’s business plan or the probability of success, since this is residential and takes us into the discretionary area, there are several issues including traffic.  The State of Michigan does not see an issue with this traffic.  Looking at the table provided by Ms. Winland, this project is going to pour fewer cars out than many uses that can be placed on that site.  They cannot look at hours of operation.  When he compares residential uses to office service uses, he does not see anything that would cause him to vote to deny this petition.

 

            Mr. Pnacek stated he looked at the criteria and the surrounding land uses.  The concerns have been the noise, the traffic, and public safety.  Transition from low-density residential to office service is usually some more intense form of residential.  This could be an office service building three stories and could produce a lot more traffic coming in and out.  If you look at this as a stand alone project, he would have to approve it as well.

 

            Mr. Mead stated he is very familiar with this.  He is right down the street from Dr. Knight.  He has watched it for years.  He is on the corner of Harcrest and Eastman.  There is a lot of traffic.  The traffic light modifies traffic flow.  To say there is traffic there all the time, this is not correct.  There is not very much traffic there early in the morning.  There was a petition for an office on this site seven or eight years ago.  Some of the same people had some of the same concerns and the same issues with the office service development seven years ago.  In looking at all the facts, he will vote to support this conditional use. 

 

            Mr. McLaughlin stated he cannot disagree.  Does he think this is the best choice of locations for this development?  No, for all the reasons stated.  However it is very difficult to deny this.

 

            Mr. Tanzini stated this looks out of place to him.  There is almost 2.5 acres there.  They are trying to squeeze as much as they can onto a small area.  It does not seem to be a good fit to him.  The State says the traffic would not be a problem.  Seniors have needs for shopping, but they are isolated here.  It is surrounded by single family homes. 

 

            Mr. Young stated he would agree with Mr. Senesac.  However one of the residents raised an issue that got him thinking.  In other cities around Detroit, cars back up for a mile or two.  In terms of all the technical aspects, he thinks this works.  Someone said don’t consider the future.  However, that is what planning is all about.  He will support it.

 

            Mr. Stewart stated he agrees with the majority of people here.  He has been looking for reasons to deny this.  He looked at the judgment and the uses prohibited by court judgment.  Like Mr. Senesac said, we cannot look at many of these issues.  They have to look at the zoning and see if it fits.  He will support this development.

 

            Mrs. Hanna stated she has given this a great deal of thought.  She does feel it will have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood.  She does not feel this is a good location for senior housing.  It is not a walkable neighborhood.  There is not enough area for people to walk around.  They should not be walking around in the detention basin.  She will vote against it.

 

            Motion by Senesac, seconded by McLaughlin, to recommend to City Council the approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 41, the request of DeShano Construction Company for a 49 unit 3-story senior multiple family apartment building located at 5510 Eastman Avenue, zoned Office Service, located at 5510 Eastman Avenue.

 

            Proposed Conditions:

 

            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 approved.

           

      Vote:

 

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

      NAYS:       Hanna and Tanzini

      ABSENT:  None

      VACANCY:  One

 

      Motion was approved 6 to 2. 

 

      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 East Patrick Road.

 

               Mr. Baker presented the background for the creation of the non-motorized transportation committee.  In 2009 a Non-Motorized Transportation Plan was adopted.  In 2010, the Ashman and Rodd Street “shared lanes” were installed.  Photographs showed the street markings and signage.  The non-motorized transportation plan map showed the proposed bike lanes around the city and the proposed routes throughout the city. 

 

               Why a bike lane on Swede Avenue?  It is a goal of the non-motorized transportation plan.  The physical characteristics of Swede Avenue are desirable for bike lanes.  Mapping of recreational and transportation (commuter) destinations show this would be a good area for bike lanes.  It would provide a direct north/south route on the east side of town and sets the direction for other streets.

 

               The recommendation from the non-motorized transportation committee is to install a dedicated bike lane on Swede Avenue from Patrick Street to Wackerly Street.

 

               This would include a painted stripe on each side of the street (north bound and south bound) approximately 5 feet in width. 

 

               The City Engineer and consulting traffic engineer have provided a set of possible alternatives for the implementation of this recommendation for consideration.  They include:

·                                                   A dedicated bike lane with no parking permitted (safest

·                                                   alternative for a bike lane)

·                                                   Dedicated bike lane with parking restricted (committee

   recommendation)

·                                                   Dedicated bike lane with parking permitted (least safest option)

·                                                   Shared lane system of pavement markings and signage

·                                                   No changes (status quo)

·                                                   Physical widening of the street and intersections to accommodate

·                                                   dedicated bike lanes (cost prohibitive at this time)

 

               We have reached a point in the review process at which it is time to deliberate on and prepare a recommendation for City Council’s consideration.  The process to date has included a neighborhood open house that was held on June 2, 2011.  The Planning Commission public hearing, which was held on July 12, 2011.  In addition, the Planning Commission held a workshop on August 30, 2011.  The recommendation from the non-motorized transportation committee is to install a dedicated bike lane on Swede Avenue from Patrick Street to Wackerly Street.

 

               Ken Andrews 2218 Rolling Ridge Drive, presented on behalf of the Non-Motorized Transportation committee.  Our local Chamber of Commerce indicated that communities are trying to lure young talent to their communities.  He took the opportunity to speak with young professionals who currently work for Dow Chemical and Dow Corning.  He asked how important it is for them to have bike trails throughout the community.  They stated an emphatic yes.  This is what they became used to in the cities where they went to college.  These are the young people who will lead Dow Chemical and Dow Corning and will continue to support this community.  We are talking about all ages though.  Cycling is an important part of this shift.  Almost any discussion about planning these days contains the term “livable communities”.  Cities must provide bike lanes along city streets.  In Detroit, there are already more than 50 miles of bike lanes in the suburban communities. 

 

               The NMT committee feels the proposal on the table is the best solution to the issues described.  There is clearly a growing sector of our society who want to ride their bikes safely in Midland.  The NMT committee feels the bike lane on Swede Avenue is an integral part of that plan.  Each bicycle is one less car on the street.  Bicycles provide traffic calming.  Traffic will drive slower.  The NMT Committee seeks to limit parking only during peak hours. 

 

               No one spoke in favor of the recommendation.

 

               Greg Groninger, 2720 Colony Drive.  He thought this would die a slow death.  As he sets his own budget at home, we are talking about $5 million over the next few years.  He is not against cycling.  He would place this project into the “nice to do” category.  He feels Midland is already bicycle friendly.  You can get any place you want in this town.  He feels the bike lanes on Ashman and Rodd Streets are creating problems.  Michigan law states they have a right to cycle there.  He has seen people riding two abreast.  Those lanes do not consider the most dangerous places, which are intersections.  You don’t need the bike lanes.  You don’t need to spend the money.  How much are we attracting into Midland?  If you look at the “smart growth” development book, there are a lot of support groups pushing this type of development.  Where is the real value to the taxpayer?  It is not there.  He has cycled all over the world.  It is not necessary to spend so much money on this issue.  Cars are not always tolerant of the bicycles.  He feels it is not necessary.  He can ride safely in Midland without spending this kind of money.

 

               George Yost stated he is against it.  The reason he moved to Swede Avenue was that he was able to park on the street and put his leaves on the street.  What is going to happen when you have 3-5 feet of leaves in the street?  It seems counter-productive to have bike lanes when, in the past week he has seen one bike.  Even if there were 14 bikes, is it worth putting up all these signs and marking the roads for 14 bikes?  He does not understand why, if the bicyclists have been doing it for all this time, why do we have to change now?  There were over 1500 cyclists that camped in the school grounds for the DelMac weekend.  All of these cyclists were on roads with 55 mph speed limits with no bike lanes. 

 

               Kent Southworth, 3409 Swede Avenue, stated he is still opposed.  Now that school has started, traffic is backed up from Ashman to Sugnet.  This goes on every morning during the school year.  It would be impossible for the bikes to blend in with the cars.  The Sugnet to Swede route is a major ambulance route.  The ambulance goes by there 3-4 times a day.  As soon as they go around the corner, they are jockeying for position to gain speed.  Whatever happens on Swede will probably be the blueprint for the rest of the community.

 

               Bill Leboeuf, 4221 Swede Avenue, stated that co-mingling bikes and cars in general is really not a good situation.  If this is really something that is valuable, then he thinks a proposal should be put together regarding the ideal vision for the bike situation in the city.  Put it out for a vote of the public to see if they want to support it.  You could still have bike lanes and have issues at intersections.  If the drive is real, it will support itself.

 

               Charles Vaughn, representing Christian Celebration Center.  When they have large events, people have to park on Swede Avenue.  There are certain performances held certain times of the year that there might not be space in their parking lot.  If parking is not permitted on Swede Avenue, many of their parishioners have no place to park.  Sometimes people come from out of town for events.  Where will they park?  Just the traffic coming off Wackerly is potentially hazardous to people coming out of the church parking lot.  What about seasonal considerations?  Will there be consideration for bike lanes when there is snow on the road? 

 

               Mr. McLaughlin asked about the leaves on the street.  Isn’t it possible to keep the leaves on the outlawns?  Mr. Baker stated that, in talking with the public services department, there are a couple of streets in the city that it is requested that leaves be kept on the outlawns.  Even if there were a bike lane, residents would put leaves on the street.  No change in city policy is being recommended for Swede Avenue.  Mrs. Hanna asked if parking would be restricted during weekends as well?  The committee recommendation is only to limit the parking from Monday through Friday, from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

 

               Mr. Mead reviewed the consulting traffic engineer’s possible alternatives in the staff report.  Mr. Senesac stated he is having a hard time with this one.  Part of the reason we want to enhance the bike lanes around town is to make it more appealing for families and kids.  Bike lanes have rules, but the rules keep changing.  He is concerned that we would be giving a false sense of security because sometimes there would be cars along the street and sometimes there would not.  This would cause confusion.  The safest alternative for cyclists is a dedicated bike lane with no parking permitted.  Bikes are now weaving in and out of parked cars.  By putting in a bike lane, you are increasing the safety.  He would favor limited “no parking” times.  For a novice, it would take something like a bike lane for someone to be safe bicycling on Swede Avenue.  The “sharrows” at least offer a consistency of bike lanes.  There are cars there sometimes and sometimes not.  It is a “quality of life” issue for Midland.  He feels there are economic benefits for a community to have bicycle lanes.  Bike paths are the best of all where they go through woods and along shores.  This is not designed to be a “stand alone” bike path.  It is designed to get you from one place to another.  He thinks the “sharrows” on the road are the best option.  Mr. Stewart agrees, however, he feels there needs to be some education.  Bicyclists think they have the right to the entire lane.  Vehicles have to know that the bikes have just as much a right to be there as the cars do.  He also thinks the “sharrows” are a good option.  He is in favor of it in theory.  He thinks it promotes a more vibrant community.  You will probably see more bicycles on the roads if you have bike lanes.  The intersections and inexperienced riders give him pause.

 

               Mrs. Hanna stated she likes the idea of a dedicated bike lane with limited parking but that it should be re-evaluated after a year.  We have not had input from people who have been using the “sharrows”.  She would vote for a dedicated bike lane with parking restricted to the recommended hours, Monday through Friday.  However it should be re-evaluated after a year.

 

               Mr. Young stated there is confusion with bike lanes.  Do I park here or do I ride a bike here?  People are going to be confused unless we are consistent.  The ones in Detroit have wider roads.  The leaves and the snow just say that you will have cars and bikes both coming close.  Folks need to have common sense.  If you put down the sharrows and they don’t work, then you paint over them and you have black lines down the street.

 

               Mr. Tanzini stated he is in favor of bike lanes.  The bike lanes create more awareness.  He will support the bike lanes with restricted parking. 

 

               Mr. Pnacek stated he is in agreement with Gayle.  He is getting used to driving down Rodd and Ashman and seeing the sharrows.  He would support the sharrows.

 

               Mr. Mead stated the sharrows are not a good thing.  It is very wide.  The bike riders can ride any place in there.  They crowd the outside of the lane.  It worries him, especially if it is a child.  The bike lane gives the cyclist a sense of entitlement.  He worries about that.  He would choose the green sign that says “bike route” and the insignia on the pavement. 

 

               The Commission is looking at options #2 and #4. 

 

               Motion by McLaughlin, seconded by Hanna, to recommend to City Council the approval of a dedicated bike lane with limited parking restrictions on Swede Avenue between Wackerly Street and East Patrick Road.  Parking restrictions would only apply 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, but not holidays or for special events. Sharrows will be incorporated at the intersections to indicate the change in lane usage.

 

               Kerry Irons, 4501 Cruz Drive, stated the detailed design at intersections would not be that the bike lane ends at the intersection.  Where the bike lane ends, the sharrow sign is on the pavement.  That would indicate to the car that the bike has the right to the turn lane, the same as the car.  Entering and exiting the bike lane, at each intersection, there is a sharrow. This is different from the normal bike lanes on the narrow streets. 

 

      Vote:

 

      YEAS:       Young, Stewart, Hanna, Tanzini and McLaughlin

      NAYS:       Mead, Pnacek and Senesac

      ABSENT:  None

      VACANCY:  One

 

      Motion was approved 5 to 3. 

 

      Motion by Hanna, seconded by Senesac to re-evaluate this situation before they put a

      bike lane on another street.  Motion passed unanimously by voice vote.

 

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

 

      None

 

6.   New Business

 

      Mr. Mead introduced Mr. Dave Heying to the Planning Commission.  He was appointed last

      night by City Council.  He will be joining the Planning Commission in October.

 

7.   Communications

 

      None

     

8.   Report of the Chairperson

 

      None

 

9.  Report of the Planning Director

 

     2 Commissioners signed up for annual conference.

 

10. Adjourn               

 

     Adjournment at 9:54 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