MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,
JUNE 26, 2012, 7:00 P.M.,
COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN
1. Roll Call
PRESENT: Hannah, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart, and Young
ABSENT: Heying and Tanzini
OTHERS PRESENT: Brad Kaye, Director of Planning and Community Development, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, Cindy Winland, Contract Planner and 3 others.
2. Approval of Minutes
Moved by Hanna, seconded by Young, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of June 12, 2012. Motion passed unanimously.
3. Public Hearings
4. Old Business
a. Site Plan No. 313 – initiated by Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. on behalf of VC Energy, LLC for site plan review and approval for a 150,100 square foot thermal island building and fuel storage barn, located at 602 South Waldo Avenue on 31.42 acres.
Mr. Kaye reviewed the application and explained that this is a use by right, subject to Site Plan Review. The applicant is VC Energy, LLC, located at 602 S. Waldo Avenue. This is the east side of Waldo and it is in the midst that is planned and used for industrial purposes and is intended to be developed in the future for industrial purposes. It is mostly wooded at the present time. Nothing has changed since the site plan was presented two weeks ago.
There is impact on wetland areas but the petitioner has obtained a permit from the MDEQ. The applicant has intended that all the facilities are outside of the wetland area and are already cleared. They have made the most of what they have regarding the property. We are talking about over 150,000 sq. ft.
A storm water management plan has been reviewed on a preliminary basis by the City Engineer. Revisions have been made to the photometric plan to comply with City standards. Updates to the current water and sewer service plans will be required to ensure a properly looped and pressurized water system. A landscaping plan or computation is required. A soil erosion and sedimentation plan is still needed. These are considered minor deficiencies that can be addressed by contingencies to the approval.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on June 12, 2012. If recommended tonight, the application will proceed to City Council on July 9, 2012. Staff recommendation is for approval with contingencies. No public comments have been received.
In response to a question from Mrs. Hanna, it was clarified that the closest residentially used parcel is just over half a mile to the north and just under one and half miles to the south. There are no residential properties for over a mile in any other direction.
The petitioner is not in attendance this evening. Mr. Senesac asked Mr. Kaye about when the material comes in, is it in a usable form? Mr. Kaye stated there are receiving areas and a conveyance system on the site plan. He does not think there will be any raw material processing on the property. They have indicated approximately 50 trucks per day will be coming onto the site. Mr. Senesac asked about the ash that is emitted and where is goes. Mr. Kaye explained that it is stored in bins on the site and then trucked away, but the application does not indicate the disposal location. Mr. Senesac asked about the saw mill that may be located next door to this facility. Mr. Kaye stated that this facility has not been applied for yet but products would likely be trucked from one facility to the other if it ever is built. There has been no system presented that would show a conveyance system between the two properties.
Mrs. Hanna asked about the review by the Fire Chief. Mr. Kaye stated the Fire Department has no issues with this plan. Mr. Senesac asked about the moving of the fence back two feet. Mr. Kaye stated that has been agreed upon.
Motion by Senesac, seconded by Pnacek, to recommend to City Council the approval of Site Plan No. 313 initiated by Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. on behalf of VC Energy, LLC for site plan review and approval for a 150,100 square foot thermal island building and fuel storage barn, located at 602 South Waldo Avenue on 31.42 acres with the following contingencies:
1. A soil erosion and sedimentation control plan must be submitted for review and approval.
2. A second water feed across Waldo Avenue and back flow prevention option will be included and shown on the site plans. Such plans shall be approved by the City’s Water Department.
3. All landscaping shall comply with Article 6 of the Zoning Ordinance.
4. Any planned or future exterior signage shall comply with Article 8 of the Zoning Ordinance
Mr. Mead stated he thinks this is a great plan and will be an asset to at least one of the local companies.
YEAS: Hanna, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart, and Young
ABSENT: Heying and Tanzini
b. DNO Signs and Standards
This is not meant to be the final discussion of this issue, but it is intended to open the subject up for discussion. Ms. Winland showed a map of the Northside Downtown Overlay District and explained that the downtown has its own overlay district. Staff has been in discussion with the developers of the stadium project downtown. This is the first opportunity to look at the regulations we have and how they fit. Staff is proposing that we look at signs permitted per tenant and signs permitted per façade. The purpose of the signage being regulated by both façade and by tenant is needed in order for each business to have signage for their facility.
Ms. Winland reviewed the Draft Proposed DNO Sign Standards, as presented in the packets. In the current draft, one plaque per street frontage up to 8 sq. ft. in size, a street address with letters up to 8 inches high and located between 6 and 10 ft above grade, and one blade/shingle per tenant per street frontage would be permitted. The blade/shingle sign would only be permitted on the ground floor, up to six square ft in size, it must maintain a minimum clearance of 9 ft above the sidewalk and it may not be internally illuminated. As drafted, the logo space cannot exceed 50 percent of the sign area.
A sandwich sign would also be permitted for each tenant. Such signs must be two-sided, securely hinged at the top, properly stabilized with 36 inches of chain or the equivalent and have a properly screened weighting mechanism. Up to 2 window signs, totaling not more than 6 square ft, are permitted per tenant. Window signs would be allowed in ground floor or second story windows only. Window signs may not be painted.
In addition to signs permitted per tenant, you could have any three of the following things per façade:
Ms. Winland stated that currently, in the DNO District, you could have a wall or a roof sign of 40 sq. ft. We do not regulate the number of signs, only the square footage. You can have a little more if you have multiple businesses. You can have more if you have multiple offices with separate entrances. You can only have a monument ground sign, not a pole sign. You can have signs in your side setback, but not in your front setback area.
Mrs. Hanna stated she has problems with the marquee sign. She thinks this is unnecessary. There used to be some downtown but they have been taken down. Ms. Winland stated staff did not choose a specific style other than an awning.
Mr. Stewart asked about the verbage from the sign size and wondered if it came from a “form based code”. Cindy stated it did come from a form based code but staff attempted to regulate things that needed to be visible, like a street address.
Mr. McLaughlin asked about the band sign. Band signs would not be permitted on first or second stories? Ms. Winland stated that you could have a band sign on the first or second stories but the building would have to be at least three stories tall so there is not a band of signs around the roof line.
Mr. Senesac asked about the difference between a marquee and a blade sign. He also stated that a sandwich sign would obstruct any traffic on the sidewalk. Cindy stated you could place the sandwich sign outside the sidewalk area or inside an alcove.
Ms. Winland stated that we could place a minimum size on an açade so there would not be unlimited amounts of square footage of signage.
Kevin McGraw, Midland Downtown Partners, stated he worked on the Stadium District. He is pleased to hear the discussion that is taking place by the Commission. Staff has done a great job in drafting a form based ordinance. He is a zoning/land use attorney, so he is used to advising communities. He sees this as a partnership between them and their anchor tenants, but also with the City of Midland. When this project first started, their corporate tenants came and said they wanted to invest in the community. All the tenants could have built their own buildings for a much cheaper price but they wanted to help the community. It helps the existing infrastructure, brings you to the city center, and younger people want a good place to live, work and play. They want to attract everyone to the downtown. This is not a “one shot” deal. He hopes this is the first of two or three phases of development. They want to create a sense of place. In this case, the signage is a big part of that.
On the blade signs, they are big and they are striking. However, they are there for a reason. If they could only do band signs and no other types of signs, they would have bands all over the place. The tenants could still back out of this deal if they do not get the types of signage they want. He wants to protect against bands because they do not want the building across the street to look “cheap”. They want to maintain the integrity of the area. One area they do disagree with staff about, is the billboard on top of the center façade. You cannot regulate content, but this is important to their architects. They want to keep the “mural” sign. The DNO district is smaller. This “mural” sign would be facing the stadium and you would only be able to see it from the stadium side. This gives it a “sense of place”. Mr. McGraw stated that perhaps more creative signage could be permitted by a special use permit approved by the Planning Commission and City Council.
Scott Bonnie, architect of the Stadium District, stated that, at the last meeting, they talked about cornices and things. They have actually put them in the building. They have also changed the lights to be a more indirect fixture, where the light bounces off the structure onto the street. It shines light down. They have incorporated cornices across the tops of all the facades so there is a consistent look. However, they did not want one style of cornice all the way across the building.
When sign bands are created, you get a very static line of signs, so they suggested some of the signage should be between the first and second floors. Some of it might not be specific to the restaurant, but talk about healthy foods. They would also like to have a “Go Loons” sign, which would not pertain to any specific business in the building. Another consideration is that most signage is designed for people driving by in a car. They want this signage to be for people in a walkable community and be able to be viewed by pedestrians. They thought it was very important to give the major tenants in the building. The proposed ordinance allows signs up to 35 feet. They feel that would limit the signage to about the bottom half of the building. One of the proposed tenants is taking over 50 percent of the building. They would like to have a variety of signage. They were hoping to have a flexible layout that they would talk with their tenants about. So far they have nine tenants for the building. Instead of having a relatively small address, they could use it as a signature feature, such as the “555” building is identified.
Scott Bonnie stated he worked with Mr. Kaye and they have come up with some renderings based upon the current sign ordinance. You can barely read the signs. There will be a landlord who will control all the tenants. This would provide a review process and will control the amount of signage allowed each tenant.
The proposed signature signs are 85 square feet. The idea of a “mural” makes a lot of sense to him. They would like to suggest that, not a billboard, but a mural would make a lot of sense. Perhaps the 24 inch high letters that can be on a band sign, would be better for 24 inch letters, not a 24 inch band. The ordinance is a little unclear. They would like to have a nice metal canopy. You could have some non-illuminated or illuminated letters. It would add a dynamic quality to the area. They would also like to allow the marquees to be considered “architectural features”, and count only the area of the letters, as the allowable area. Allow 45 foot corner marquees. Plaque signs should be considered a façade sign, and not a plaque sign.
Mr. Young commented that he did not feel the 50% logo restriction as necessary or desirable, citing McDonald’s and Apple as stores where only a logo might be more appropriate than having text on the blade sign.
5. Public Comments (unrelated to items on the agenda)
6. New Business
8. Report of the Chairperson
We need to have a nominating committee to select new officers. Ray Senesac volunteered in addition to John Young and Gayle Hanna. They will report back at the next meeting.
9. Report of the Planning Director
Northwood University is proposing a new entrance off Main Street. There will be very obvious signs identifying the entrance to the university. There will also be a planting buffer along the north side of the road and they will use downward directed street lighting as much as possible. This was approved by City Council last evening.
10. Items for Next Agenda – June 26, 2012
a. Zoning Petition No. 579 Public Hearing
b. Zoning Petition No. 580 Public Hearing
Adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
C. Bradley Kaye, AICP
Director of Planning and Community Development
MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION