AUGUST 28, 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, 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 August 14, 2012.  Motion passed unanimously. 

3.   Public Hearings


      a.   Zoning Text Amendment No. 155 – initiated by Garber Chevrolet to change the method of measuring the setback from an unobstructed sight area under specified conditions.


            Garber Chevrolet is in the process of expanding their facility at the corner of Eastman Avenue and Saginaw Road.  In reviewing that application, staff has identified a zoning standard that seems to inadvertently restrict certain corner property owners by applying a setback from the required unobstructed sight distance area at the road intersection.  Garber has thereof requested a text amendment addressing this issue.  If approved, the amendment would apply to all similar situations in the city, not just the Garber property. 


Ms. Winland showed a drawing of the unobstructed sight distance area that is required by the current zoning ordinance standards.  The setback is owned by the private owner in most cases but there are a number of instances around the city where it is owned by a governmental agency.  In this case, it is owned by MDOT.  Since MDOT owns the corner clearance areas, the setbacks are counted from behind the corner clearances.  This results in the property owner having to provide a setback beyond the unobstructed sight distance area that property owners who own right to the intersection, including the sight distance area, are not require to provide.  Staff considers this to be an inadvertent mistake, given that the current regulation was intended only to protect the sight distance area from development and not to cause an excessive setback.


            There are instances in the community where the buildings have already been built up to the setback line.  When MDOT kept that right-of-way, they kept it for the clear vision area.  Mr. McLaughlin asked if it is specifically stated in the deed that it was purchased for the clear vision area.  Ms. Winland stated that a representative of the petitioner is here tonight and could, perhaps, answer that question.  Mrs. Hanna asked if there was anywhere else in town that has an area that has as much traffic as this intersection.  Ms. Winland stated there is not.  This intersection has the most traffic of any intersection in the city. 


            Mr. Senesac asked if there was a pole on the portion of property that MDOT owns, would they have to go back and move that pole?  Mr. Kaye stated they would only be allowed to build on property they own.  The petitioner would also only be allowed to build on property that they own.  Mr. Senesac asked that, if Garber wants to put a pole in that clear vision area, and then MDOT wanted to build something in that right-of-way, what would happen?  Mr. Kaye stated they have not raised issues and the petitioner has spoken to MDOT about the issues, he does not think anyone is worried about that.


            Gregory Saxton, JE Johnson Inc, construction manager for the Garber Chevrolet renovation, spoke in support of the staff recommendation.


The public hearing was opened.  Hearing no comments, the public hearing was closed.


Motion by Senesac, seconded by Young, to wave the second meeting and vote on the item at tonight’s meeting.




            YEAS:                        Hanna, Heying, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart,

                                    Tanzini and Young

            NAYS:            None

            ABSENT:       None



Motion by Senesac, seconded by Young, to recommend to City Council the approval of Zoning Text Amendment No. 155 initiated by Garber Chevrolet to change the method of measuring the setback from an unobstructed sight area under specified conditions.




            YEAS:                        Hanna, Heying, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart,

                                    Tanzini and Young

            NAYS:            None

            ABSENT:       None


4.   Old Business


      a.   DNO Sign Standards  


            Ms. Winland presented the sign standards for the Downtown Northside Overlay District.  The standards look more at the type of structure than the District.  If we look at Table B, in addition to all the signs allowed by tenant, we would allow everyone to have a canopy sign.  Wall signs come in all shapes and sizes.  We wanted to regulate the amount of square footage and the total façade of thee structure.  It is proposed that wall signs not exceed 5% of the square footage of the building façade or 80 sq. ft.  A narrow store roughly 20 to 25 feet wide would need to be four stories in height to reach this limit.  If you have a smaller façade, your maximum sign size would be smaller. 


            A band sign may be 2’ high by 20’ wide and 80 percent of the building lineal frontage.  The letters could be up to 24” high and 3” in depth.


            An awning or canopy sign would have a minimum of 8’ clearance above the sidewalk.  Ms. Winland showed photos taken in Royal Oak of some different façade signs.  We talked about the fact that we did not want to have a marquee sign at all locations.  Therefore, it is proposed that the number of permitted marquee signs be one marquee sign per corner of a building located at the intersection of two public streets and one per 250’ of building street frontage.  Staff continues to recommend a maximum 6 foot projection for these signs to maintain architectural scaling appropriate for larger buildings.


            In chart C, any sign feature that has flashing, traveling, animated, or intermittent light associated with it would be prohibited.  Also, signs painted on the exterior of buildings, excluding murals, are prohibited.  Murals that are more art than advertising would be permitted, but will require definition.


            We have been fortunate to have a proposed development upon which we can judge the reasonableness of these signs.  Our ordinance already does not permit roof signs so they would not be allowed. 

            Mr. Heying likes what staff has done and sets a good precedent.  Mrs. Hanna likes the idea of limiting, in a nice way, large signs.  It gives the right of each business to identify its location.  Mr. Senesac stated Ms. Winland did a good job of limiting the number and size of signs.  Mr. McLaughlin agrees with what has been said, as does Mr. Pnacek.  The six foot projection looks good when you put it into perspective.  A 6’ projection would not be permitted on a single story building.   


            Mr. Kaye stated we now need to take this to a public hearing process.  That would be the next step.  Staff will move forward with that process.


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




6.   New Business


      a.   2013 Regular Meeting Schedule of the City of Midland Planning Department


Motion by Pnacek, seconded by Hanna to approve the 2013 meeting schedule as presented.  Motion passed unanimously.


7.   Communications


      The MAP Conference will be held in Traverse City this year.  If any Planning  

      Commissioners would like to go, please let staff know.


8.   Report of the Chairperson




9.  Report of the Planning Director


The bike lanes, along Sugnet Road and Eastlawn Drive, were approved by City Council last night.  They were adopted and approved based upon the adopted Non-Motorized Transportation Plan.


10. Items for Next Agenda – September 11, 2012


a.    Conditional Use Permit No. 42 – Midland Rental Properties 14 Unit Townhouse Proposal at Schade Drive and W. Wackerly Street

b.    Zoning Petition No. 581 – Proposed RA-1 Zoning of Annexed Property at 1334 Stark Road

c.    Zoning Petition No. 582 – Proposed RB Zoning of Annexed Property at 9203 Eastman Avenue

d.    Zoning Petition No. 583 – Proposed IA Zoning of Annexed Property at 7730 W. Wackerly Street


11. Adjourn             


      Adjourned at 8:05 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,




C. Bradley Kaye, AICP

Director of Planning and Community Development