MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,

SEPTEMBER 25, 2012, 7:00 P.M.,

COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL, MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   Roll Call

PRESENT:   Hanna, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, and Senesac.  Commissioner Young arrived at 7:08 P.M.

ABSENT:      Heying, Stewart and Tanzini

OTHERS PRESENT:   Brad Kaye, Director of Planning and Community Development, Cindy Winland, Contract Planner, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, and 24 others.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Senesac, seconded by Pnacek, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of September 11, 2012.  Motion passed unanimously. 

3.   Public Hearings

     

      a.   Zoning Text Amendment No. 156 – initiated by the City of Midland, to amend and add Section 8.07 E. to the Zoning Ordinance to add sign regulations for the Downtown Northside Overlay district.

 

Ms. Winland presented the proposed changes to the Downtown Northside Overlay District, noting that this is the fourth time we have looked at this text.  The DNO district recognizes the unique nature of the area and proposed developments and has specific design guidelines which have already been adopted.  Tonight we are considering sign regulations. 

 

Ms. Winland reviewed the proposed standards, explaining that we are proposing to permit signs on a per-tenant and per-façade basis.  Three modifications to the language circulated in the agenda packet are proposed based on public feedback.  The first, on page 8.8, would recognize the opportunity for signs to extend into the street right-of-way when authorized by the City Engineer.  This would be consistent with approvals already granted throughout the downtown area and envisioned in the DNO district.  The second would reduce the size permitted for a marquee sign from 80 ft to 70 sq ft, with the sign face area measured around all letters and graphics.  This change recognizes that projecting signs in the DNO district may already be permitted up to 150 sq ft in size, that architectural features would be permitted on the building without size restrictions, and that our intent is to regulate the size of the commercial sign, not the architectural feature.  The third modification proposed would restrict marquee signs to a maximum projection of 6 ft at the base of the sign only, rather than the full sign height, to allow for design flexibility and appropriate scaling relative to the building form.  In the course of making these adjustments, staff has worked with the developer of the Stadium District building.    

 

A standard façade definition has also been added.  It generally defines facades to recognize changes in construction style or materials and horizontal relief in the street facing wall of the structure. 

 

Kevin McGraw, Midland Downtown Partners, stated they are very close to making this development happen.  They have four tenants at this time, but all have a right to get out of the leases if the developers cannot provide them decent signage.  They have been working closely with city staff as these standards have been developed.  Although their tenants preferred the original sign package proposed, they are willing to accept the standards being recommended by city staff.  They have gotten rid of the rooftop signs.  There is only one other property, which is located just across the street, that could accommodate a development of this scale and would utilize the sign standards being proposed.  As the developer, he would hope that the other property would match this signage when developed.  Let’s encourage creativity.  There are only two buildings in town that would qualify for this type of signage.  You need people to be able to see the signs. 

 

Scott Walker, Midland Tomorrow, commended city staff and the Planning Commission for working through this project.  They are at the beginning of great development downtown and this is the first part of it.  Midland Tomorrow supports the proposed changes.

 

There were no comments in opposition to the petition.  The public hearing was closed. 

 

4.   Old Business

 

      a.   Conditional Use Permit No. 42 – the request of North-Point Building and Remodeling, Inc. for a 14 unit residential town house development, located at 2711, 2721, 2801, 2811 West Wackerly Street.

 

Mr. Kaye explained that the applicant is Midland Rental Properties, LLC.  The property is located on West Wackerly and Schade West at 2721/2801/2811 W. Wackerly on 1.69 acres of land.  The property is zoned Office Service.  Multiple-family residential is a conditional use in the Office Service District.  Proposed are 14 three bedroom units.  The property now is currently vacant and wooded.  There are some commercial uses to the east and west and across the street from the property.  Schade West condominiums are located behind this property to the south and are zoned RB.

A revised proposal was presented and discussed at the public hearing held two weeks ago.  The revised plan shows a reduction in hard surface area, an increased setback from the Schade West development, and additional landscaping along the south side of the property.  Both the Public Services Department and the Fire Department have reviewed the revised plan and are satisfied that their vehicles can maneuver in this proposed site with the revised plan.

 

The site plan facts do not change.  There are eight discretionary standards that need to be considered this evening.  The petitioner has reduced the extent of on-site paving/concrete.  There was lack of on-site amenity area and this has not been addressed in the revised plan.  The Planning Commission held a public hearing on September 11, 2012.  Several public comments, both verbally and in writing, and one petition have been received to date.  Two letters have been received since the public hearing regarding this petition.

 

            Motion by Senesac, seconded by Pnacek, to recommend to City Council the approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 42 the request of North-Point Building and Remodeling, Inc. for a 14 unit residential town house development, located at 2711, 2721, 2801, 2811 West Wackerly Street.

 

            Mr. McLaughlin stated he does not think he can support this.  The petitioner has made changes in the green space, however, it is not enough.  There is no place for children to play in this area.  This type of use is not compatible with the residential uses behind the development.  If this was an office building, we would not be discussing these issues at all.

 

            Mr. Senesac stated that every zoning district has things that are allowed by right.  Some other things are allowed by a Conditional Use Permit and that allows some discretion about whether we allow them or not.  Residential use is allowed in Office Service, but only as a conditional use.  The first thing he sees is too much density on this small piece of property and too little green space.  There are so many units that there is little room for anything else.  This could prevent finding people who want to rent these.  If that were to happen, it could cause a downward spiral.  This would be detrimental to the neighborhood.

 

            Mr. Pnacek stated he agrees with Ray.  He has had mixed emotions on this.  There are offices in this area.  Looking at the surrounding land and uses, he feels this is too high of a density.  He also agrees that there is too little proposed green space.

 

            Mrs. Hanna stated that one of the nicest things about Midland is that we have some housing areas that are somewhat sheltered from the business but there is development close by.  The development of Schade Drive was for a retirement community, with the understanding that this would be a quiet place for them to live out their lives.  This kind of busy development would do the opposite.  It will not enhance the people who invested their money in the existing dwellings.  Office type development would be most appropriate for the property.

 

            Mr. Young commended the applicants for responding to the comments and concerns expressed by neighbors.  Although the changes now proposed are good, they do not go far enough.  He stated that too many units are proposed on too small a piece of property. 

 

            Vote:

 

            YEAS:            None

            NAYS:            Hanna, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac and Young

            ABSENT:       Heying, Stewart and Tanzini

 

      b.   Zoning Petition No. 582 – initiated by the Planning Department, to zone property at 9203 Eastman Avenue from Township zoning to Residential B zoning.

 

            This property is located at the extreme north end of the city.  The city forest surrounds it and there is a small home to the south.  There is a 250 foot strip to the east that will be left in township zoning and will be dealt with at a later date.  The Planning Commission held a public hearing on September 11, 2012.  The property owner supports the rezoning.  One public comment was received to date.  There has been no new information since the public meeting was held.  Staff recommendation is for approval.

 

            Motion by McLaughlin, seconded by Senesac, to recommend to City Council the approval of Zoning Petition No. 582 initiated by the Planning Department, to zone property at 9203 Eastman Avenue from Township zoning to Residential B zoning.

 

            Vote:

 

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

            NAYS:            None

            ABSENT:       Heying, Stewart and Tanzini

 

      c.   Zoning Petition No. 583 – initiated by the Planning Department, to zone property at 7730 West Wackerly Street from Township zoning to Industrial A zoning.

 

            Mr. Kaye described the property at 7730 West Wackerly Street.  The area is 14.75 acres.  The location is on the very west end of the property of Saginaw Road and Wackerly Street.  The present zoning in the township is Industrial.  It is the city’s intent to continue the Industrial zoning in this area.  Three public comments were received at the last meeting.  A public hearing was held on September 11, 2012.  The concerns expressed by the neighboring property owners appear to have been fully answered.  There has been no new information since the public meeting was held.  Staff recommendation is for approval.

 

            Motion by Pnacek, seconded by Hanna to recommend to City Council the approval of Zoning Petition No. 583 initiated by the Planning Department, to zone property at 7730 West Wackerly Street from Township zoning to Industrial A zoning. 

 

            Vote:

 

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

            NAYS:            None

            ABSENT:       Heying, Stewart and Tanzini

 

      d. Master Plan  Update – A copy of the full Master Plan was provided to Commissioners at the September 11, 2012 Planning Commission meeting.  Chapter 4 has since been updated to reflect minor changes requested by the Planning Commission and was provided for review.

 

Mr. Kaye explained that, procedurally, our next step is to request City Council approval to circulate the draft plan for public review and begin the public input process.  This review and the recommended plan changes are considered to be a technical update to the plan, addressing matters such as census data and the economy.  As such, Staff is suggesting that an extensive public input process similar to the meeting in a box used when the plan was originally prepared is not warranted.  Rather than merely meeting the statutory requirements of a single public hearing, however, staff is recommending that we hold an open house to obtain public input and to bring those suggestions to the Commission at a future meeting.  Ray Senesac likes the idea of having the public meeting immediately before a Planning Commission meeting, with the hope being that people will stay and attend the public hearing. 

 

            Motion by Pnacek, seconded by Young, to forward the Master Plan to City Council for approval to circulate the draft plan for public review and move forward with the public hearing. 

 

            Vote:

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

            NAYS:            None

            ABSENT:       Heying, Stewart and Tanzini

 

5.   Public Comments

 

      None

6.   New Business

 

      None

     

7.   Communications

 

      None

 

8.   Report of the Chairperson

 

      None

     

9.  Report of the Planning Director

 

Mr. Kaye advised that Midland and the surrounding census area have qualified for Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) status, which will provide us with access to addition federal transportation funding.  An organizational meeting will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at the County Road Commission office to discuss the establishment of an MPO and determine local support for it.  This meeting will be an open public meeting.

 

10. Items for Next Agenda – October 9, 2012

 

a.    Zoning Text Amendment No. 156 – DNO Sign Standards – Action 

 

Mr. Senesac requested some input from the Non-Motorized Transportation Committee at the next meeting as the agenda for that meeting appears to be light. 

 

The 5:30 procedural meeting previously discussed will be postponed to the second meeting in October.

 

11. Adjourn 

    

Adjourned at 8:12 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

C. Bradley Kaye, AICP

Director of Planning and Community Development

 

MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION