OCTOBER 25, 2011, 7:00 P.M.,



1.   Roll Call

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

ABSENT:   Heying

OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, Cindy Winland, Contract Planner, and 2 others.


2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Hanna, seconded by Young, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of October 11, 2011 as corrected. Motion passed unanimously.

3.   Public Hearings


a.    Zoning Text Amendment No. 154, initiated by Dow Kokam, LLC, to amend Section 8.05, Table 8.2 of the Zoning Ordinance to add a footnote for larger signage in the IA and IB districts. 


This is a proposed text amendment to allow larger signs in the IA and IB zoning districts.  Dow Kokam applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to allow additional signage on their walls.  A dimensional variance request to the ZBA failed.  Staff suggested that a text amendment would be a possible alternative. 


Staff has done some research of 10 different communities that also have major industrial sites.  This would include other industrial facilities approximately the size of Dow, but not necessarily chemical plants.  Ms. Winland has proposed permitting a graduated increase in the size of the sign if the distance from the road is 200 feet or greater.  For every foot over 200 feet that the structure is set back from the road, one square foot of signage could be added to the maximum signage that would be allowed.  The Dow Kokam plant will be 265 feet further back from the road.  This would be permitted for every industrial building that had more than 200 feet of road frontage. 


Using Dow Kokam as an example, they could have 565 square feet of wall signage under this proposed ordinance amendment.  There are some other properties in town where this would be applicable.  Perhaps the solar shingle plant would construct a structure far enough from the road that they could have additional signage.  This would also apply to the Dow Corporate center if they wanted to have additional signage on their building.  It would also apply to some of the Dow Corning facilities. 


Article 30.03 (c) outlines the criteria for review of a proposed zoning text amendment.  The six review criteria are:


1.    Is this consistent with the city’s Master Plan?  Yes, this is consistent with the Master Plan. 

2.    Have conditions changed since the Master Plan was adopted?  Yes, there have been some rather large industrial facilities built since the Zoning Ordinance was approved. 

3.    Was there a mistake in the Zoning Ordinance that justifies the amendment?  No.

4.    Will the amendment correct an inequity applied by the Zoning Ordinance?  No.  There is nothing unique about this.  It is creating the ability for signs on larger structures to be seen.

5.    Will the amendment merely grant special privileges?  No.  The amendment was precipitated by a specific development but will apply equally to all uses in the IA, IB or that fit the criteria for increased signage. 

6.    Will the amendment allow for exclusionary zoning?  No.  This would be available for everyone in these zoning districts.  Dow Kokam has tried for other remedies including petitioning the Zoning Board of Appeals. 


            The variables staff looked at were street frontage and setbacks.  Many communities queried stated that they do not regulate signage in industrial zones. 


            The signs must be wall signs.  They can be illuminated.  This sign is intended to be illuminated internally.  As long as any point on the building is greater than 200 feet from the road, the sign can go on any part of the building.  You only get the additional signage for sides that face public roads. 


            You would have to state that the "frontage” of the building would have to be adjacent to the public road.  You cannot take the signage from two road frontages and combine them and put all the signage on one wall. 


            You can only use this regulation if you have frontage on a public road.  Mr. Senesac and the remainder of the Commission would like to see the final wording at their next meeting prior to being asked to consider this amendment.


            The petitioner was not present at the meeting.


            Mr. Senesac stated he is concerned about not having a maximum limit on the amount of signage.  There are some pretty large buildings out there that are set pretty far back from the road.  You could have some humungous signs on these buildings. 


            Ms. Winland stated this will not apply to LCMR.  Staff removed this wording from the LCMR District.  Each sign for each face is computed separately.  You cannot take the signage from one public road and place it on another side of the building.  The proposal states “If the sign to be placed is more than 200 feet from the center line of a public road, a sign may be increased by one square foot for each foot greater than 200 lineal feet.  If the structure is less than 200 feet from the road, the sign may not exceed 300 square feet. 


            Mrs. Hanna thinks there should be a maximum amount of signage allowed.  Someone could get carried away and have an obnoxious sign.  Also, some of these special conditions need to be discussed with the Planning Department before the additional signage is allowed. 


            The whole issue is “are we just doing this for one use”?  Even the Zoning Board of Appeals stated that there are several places in the community where this might be applied.


            Mr. Pnacek asked if there has been any consideration given to the way signs are measured in the City of Midland.  Mr. Baker stated that staff’s discussion included that issue.  However, any change to the definition of the way of measuring signs would apply to all districts, not just Industrial Districts and should be considered independent of the current petition. 


            For the Dow Kokam plant, they could put 565 square feet of signage on the two sides of the building facing the public roadways.  Right now they are only allowed to have 300 sq. ft. on the entire structure. 


            There were no public comments either in favor of or in opposition to this request.


The public hearing was closed.


4.   Old Business


      a.   Zoning Petition No. 576, initiated by MLR Engineering on behalf of Niche Property to rezone property at 4671 South Saginaw Road from Residential A-1 zoning to Regional Commercial zoning.


            This petition was postponed until the next Planning Commission meeting.  Communications with the petitioners indicated that they are attempting to put some additional information together.


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




6.   New Business




7.   Communications






8.   Report of the Chairperson




9.  Report of the Planning Director


     City Council denied the proposed text amendment for chickens.  This will not be a permitted activity within residential districts.  The petitioner has been contacted.


     Conditional Use Permit #40, Wackerly Place, the residential development on the north side, was defeated at the City Council level by a vote of 2-3.  They expressed concern about having a residential use on the north side of W. Wackerly Street.  Having that number of units in a small area was a concern of the Council as well.         


10. Adjourn               


     Adjournment at 7:54 p.m. was unanimously approved.

Respectfully submitted,




Keith Baker, AICP, CFM

Director of Planning & Community Development