APRIL 24, 2012, 7:00 P.M.,



1.   Roll Call

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

ABSENT:   None

OTHERS PRESENT:   Brad Kaye, Director of Planning and Community Development, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, and 19 others.


2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Hanna, seconded by Heying, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of April 10, 2012.  Motion passed unanimously. 

3.   Public Hearings


      a.   Site Plan No. 310 – initiated by Central Michigan Surveying & Development Company on behalf of P & P Opportunities, LLC for site plan review and approval of Olive Garden Restaurant and retail, located at 6803 Eastman Avenue.


            Mr. Kaye explained that the site plan is not complete and not all the documents have been submitted.  The Planning Commissioners will look at the information that is available and offer their input on the proposed plan.  So long as the overall design does not change, it may or may not require an additional public hearing at a later date.  It is recommended that the application be placed on the next agenda of the Planning Commission for further discussion. 


            Mr. Kaye provided an overview of the application.  The uses are by right, subject to Site Plan Review.  The petitioner is P&P Opportunities, LLC, at 6801 Eastman Avenue, the former Damon‘s site as well as the strip mall behind it.  The parcel size is 4.41 acres.  The zoning is Regional Commercial.  A 7,500 sq. ft. restaurant (Olive Garden) is being proposed to be built on this site.  There will also be a commercial drive-thru and a future development area. 


            The subject parcel is located on the west side of Eastman Avenue, just east of the fairgrounds.  Panera Bread and the Hampton Inn are to the south, while the Midland Mall is to the east.  There is existing commercial development to the north.  It is proposed to demolish a portion of the existing strip mall and construct a 7,500 sq. ft. Olive Garden restaurant in this location.  A proposed drive-thru is located at the southwest corner of the site, which will be associated with some kind of service facility.  The site plan includes lands now used as Saylor Drive, however, this property is owned by the Hampton Inn. 


Mr. Kaye clarified that an administrative site plan was approved by planning staff in January, 2012.  The proposed Olive Garden restaurant is therefore already approved and could be built in accordance with that approved plan today.  The changes now proposed are intended to provide better access to Eastman Avenue which the City understands is desired by both the Olive Garden and the property owners.


            Issues include:

·         Access to signalized intersection

·         Cross site access design

·         Future development area

·         Coordination with impacted property owners (Fair Board, Panera Bread, Hampton Inn)


            Mr. Kaye stated that there is a letter of concern from the attorneys of the Hampton Inn.  The letter expresses concern that there is not an agreement in place regarding the boundary line.  They request that these issues be resolved prior to approving the site plan.


            The petitioner, Tim Beebe, Central Michigan Survey & Development, stated this is about the sixth revision to this plan.  They have been adjusting traffic flows on the site and received approval from staff to bring it to the Commission tonight.  There are currently four access points to this development right now.  They would like to minimize the impact on traffic on Eastman Avenue.  Traffic agreements are still being discussed among property owners in the area.  The access agreement will take them from the fairgrounds road, through this development site, across Panera Bread, across the Hampton Inn, and to the old Chemical Bank site.  Limiting access and focusing it at the light will greatly improve safety for the site.  They would also like to keep the cross access to the adjoining properties.  Mr. Beebe stated he would appreciate any comments tonight as he will have to very quickly incorporate them into his site plan revisions to have them submitted in time for the next Planning Commission meeting. 


            Mr. Heying asked about access from the fairgrounds road.  Mr. Beebe stated they have an agreement with them for access, but they will absolutely not allow traffic to cross the median.  Ms. Hanna complemented them in at least trying to achieve the cross-access from the fairgrounds road. 


            Mr. Heying asked about the future development area.  Wouldn’t it have made sense to broaden the traffic access aisle into the parking area rather than narrow it so quickly?  Mr. Kaye stated that this has been examined by the City’s traffic consultant, who does not anticipate sufficient traffic volume that this would become a problem.  The traffic study is on file in the city’s Engineering Department. 


            Mr. Senesac stated the philosophy they use with site plans, is that the site plans are published late the week prior to the Planning Commission meeting.  Then the public hearing is held and gives the public an opportunity to speak.  Anything that comes up during the public hearing can be thought about during the two weeks prior to the next Planning Commission meeting.  At the second meeting, new information can be presented and discussion is held in order to make a decision.  With this plan, a new plan was presented when commissioners sat down tonight.  He would like to have a public hearing after they are able to see a complete plan.  The public can then respond to a complete plan.  He would like to hold another public hearing on the final plan at the next Planning Commission meeting. 


            Mr. Mead stated there is no photometric plan, no soil erosion plan, and no landscape plan.  These are all issues that they would like to look at prior to approving a site plan.  Mr. Kaye stated it is not unusual for Commissioners to approve plans without photometric plans, signage, or other minor site design alterations.  He does not think there will be significant changes to the latest proposed site plan, except for the cross-access through the adjoining properties.  We have seen what will probably be the final plan, with a few minor modifications.  I will now be up to the applicant to have everything ready for another public hearing in just two weeks. 


            Mr. McLaughlin stated there are a significant number of issues that need to be addressed.  What happens if they do not have everything ready in two weeks?  Mr.  Beebe stated that everything would have to be present for final site plan approval, allowing for some contingencies that will be addressed at a later time.  Approvals will probably have to be provided with the legal documents being approved by the City Attorney.  Two weeks will not provide sufficient time to have the legal documents in the hands of the Planning Commission.  However, there could be a contingency that addresses the legal access issues.  Mr Kaye suggested that the applicant could bring a letter of agreement between the property owners that they are actively working on a shared-access agreement. 


            The final decision was that the petitioner will bring back a final site plan in two weeks and a letter of intent from the property owners that they are working on a shared-access agreement.  A second public hearing will be held at that time.


            No one spoke either in favor of or in opposition to the proposed site plan.

            The public hearing was closed. 

      b.   Preliminary Plat of Trotter’s Pointe – a residential subdivision of 20 lots on 6.21 acres east of Swede Avenue and south of East Wheeler Street.  The developer is Midland Building Company.


            The proprietor of this site is Midland Building Company.  The site is 5.89 acres in size and has access Wheeler Avenue..  It is zoned RA-4, single family residential.  Twenty lots are proposed.  There was an approval in 2005, however that approval was not acted on and the approval has since expired.  The preliminary plat is the same as that submitted in 2005. 


Tentative Preliminary Plat approval requires no outside review.  Final preliminary plat approval requires limited detail and consultation with the County Drain Commissioner.  At this time, the Engineering and Utility Departments have reviewed conceptually but have not signed off.  The Fire Department has requested that no parking be allowed on the fire hydrant side of the street.  Contingencies are as detailed in the staff report. 


            In two weeks time, if the Planning Commission is comfortable with the plan, they can make their recommendation to the City Council.  The Council will then hold a public hearing and make a final decision on the plat.  From the time a preliminary plat is approved, the petitioner has two years to move forward with the plan.   


            Rich Fosgitt, on behalf of Midland Building Company.  This plat had been approved in 2005.  The configuration is no different than was approved before.  Strom water detention is along the east sides of the development. 


            They are asking for preliminary and final plat approval at this time.  The cul-de-sac is actually larger than required.  They would like parking to be allowed on both sides of the street so they do object to the restriction by the Fire Department of no parking on the side of the street with the fire hydrants. 


            Midland Building Company has sold all 20 lots to a single developer in town.  The zoning on this property is already RA-4.  They did not seek to have the zoning changed on the land.  Duplexes are allowed by right in RA-4 zoning. 


            The slopes on the detention areas will be 1:6.  There has been some fill brought into the area around the perimeter of the site.  There will some berming left on the perimeter of some of these lots.


            Greg Groninger, 2720 Colony Drive, stated he has some questions.  What is the requirement for public hearing notices?  Mr. Kaye stated the public notices are mailed not fewer than 15 days prior to the meeting to property owners within 300 feet of the proposed development.  Mr. Groninger stated he does not believe that he ever received a notice about the development in 2005.  He lives across the street from one of the lots.  Will the developer be bonded so they don’t get part way through the development and run out of funding?  The advertisement on the road for this site is that duplex lots will be sold.  Will there be bonding of the developer for this site?  Mr. Kaye stated that financial guarantees are required for the streets and utilities.  There is no bond required to assure development of the individual lots.  Mr. Groninger asked if there will be any low-income housing as a part of this?  Mr. Pnacek stated he could not imagine this occurring.  Mr. Kaye stated that is beyond the scope of the review of this project.  Mr. Groninger stated that only certain lots are large enough to accommodate duplex units.  There are a fair number of small children in the area; what is the slope of the detention ponds?  The developer already stated the slope will be 1:6. 


            Judy Radler, 2712 Colony Drive, stated she has lived in her home since 1990.  She stated she received no notice in 2005 about this development.  She has a big concern about that – that things were approved with no notice in their neighborhood.  You could drive by it and all of a sudden there is a sign for duplexes.  She has a big problem with people saying they sent out notices, things got approved, and none of the neighbors remember receiving notice of this development.  The surrounding property is zoned RA-1.  She is concerned about her property value.  This property should never have been zoned RA-4.  Her lot is 100’ x 200’.  The proposed lots are significantly smaller.  There is now a big push to push it through without comment from the neighbors.  Is the traffic flow only going to be in and out off Wheeler or will some of the traffic come off Plymouth?  They already have trouble with people speeding down Congress and speeding out of their neighborhood.  She is not in favor of this zoning in their neighborhood nor duplexes in her neighborhood.  She is not in favor of anyone coming in and trying to rush through a plan that nobody knew about in 2005.  This plan could sit there and take a long time to develop.  She does have concerns about how long it would take to build this area as proposed.  She would also like to see this limited to single-family homes. 


            Julian Atian, 2720 E. Wheeler Street, stated his home is just west of this property, lots 1, 2, 3, and 4.  He did not own his house in 2005.  He is trying to figure out how this development fits within the city’s master plan.  Does it make sense to have RA-1 throughout this area and then a spot of RA-4 zoning within that area.  One of his major issues is that he does not want to see this rushed through.  Even though the plan was approved in the past, he would like to see the process follow it’s natural course for public comment. 


            Scott Pennock, 2719 Colony Drive, stated he has lived at his property for 17 years.  He feels it is a pretty dramatic drop from RA-1 to RA-4.  Could this be changed if someone wanted it to be changed?  Even though this plan has been previously approved, it should not be automatically approved at this time.  He would like the Planning Commission to take a fresh look at it.  What kind of steps will be taken to raise the elevation on the lots on the northeast side of the development?

            Jim Mitrano, 2721 Colony Drive, stated this is zoned RA-4 and their properties are zoned RA-1.  This would seem inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood.  He does not recall receiving a notice in 2005. 


            Rich Fosgitt stated in the Midland Community, most engineers are challenged to get water to run downhill.  In this case they have a contour that would perhaps have walk-out basements.  The detention ponds will provide a good collection of water from the surrounding properties.  The RA-4 zoning is already existing on the site.  They are not attempting to change the zoning.  The 20 lots have tentatively been sold to Mayberry Homes.  At this time, Mayberry Homes has no intention of developing duplexes on these lots.  They would perhaps entertain language in the deeds that would restrict the lots to single-family homes, however, Rich cannot commit for the purchaser.  Mayberry Homes is developing lots in Lansing as well as other communities at this time.  Storm water detention ponds with a slope greater than 1:6 are required to be fenced.  These are walkable slopes and do not require fencing.  These will be dry areas that have the ability to hold water in a storm event. 


            Mrs. Hanna asked about the maintenance of the storm water detention ponds.  Mr. Fosgitt stated it will be up to each individual property owner to maintain their portion of the detention pond. 


            Mr. Kaye confirmed that the property was already zoned RA-4 when this preliminary plat was approved in 2005.  He will check to see if there was a rezoning connected with the approved plat in 2005. 


            Ray Senesac clarified that some items are outside of the consideration of requirements for a preliminary plat.  The zoning is outside of their scope of review.


            Judy Radler, 2712 Colony Drive stated that when she came here in 1990, the city limits sign was right by Congress Drive.  She has gradually seen the city limits sign move back beyond the farm.  No matter how it was zoned before, the city limits did end much closer to their property than they are now.  All the land on the north side of Wheeler was annexed since then. 


            The public hearing was closed. 


4.   Old Business




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


      Greg Groninger, 2720 Colony Drive commented on the proposed table for the Zoning Ordinance that was presented at the last Planning Commission meeting.  Going from four units per acre to six units per acre in RA-1 zoning is a significant change.  That is significantly more dense.  He does want to point out that a small change in density description does fall in line with Agenda 21 or Sustainable Development.  Mr. Groninger stated the United States adopted Agenda 21.  America is the only country in the world with the concept of private property.  Please look into Agenda 21 and keep it in mind when you are doing your revision of the Master Plan.


6.   New Business


      DNO District Signs


Mr. Kaye stated that the signage standards for development in the Downtown Northside Overlay District have not yet been applied to an actual development.  Now that an application in this area is pending, staff has determined that the current standards may not be appropriate for developments of a scale beyond traditional downtown development.  Staff intends to take a look at this issue and bring some recommendations to the Commission at a future meeting.  There was no opposition to this concept. 


7.   Communications




8.   Report of the Chairperson




9.  Report of the Planning Director


Public hearings on the 2012/13 City budget are underway at the City Council.  We will be doing a Building Trades Project again for the 2012-2013 school year.  The contract for this project was approved by City Council last night.


10. Adjourn             


     Adjourned at 8:56 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,





C. Bradley Kaye, AICP

Director of Planning and Community Development