TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2013, 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; Grant Murschel, Community Development Planner and thirteen (13) others.


2.   Approval of Minutes

Moved by Hanna and seconded by Young to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of August 27, 2013.  Motion passed unanimously.

3.   Public Hearings


a.    Zoning Petition No. 586 – the request of The Wirt-Rivette Group to zone property at 4710 Eastman Avenue from Office Service zoning to Regional Commercial. 


Brad Kaye presented the zoning petition for Regional Commercial.  He explained the adjacent land uses and adjacent zones.  The Master Plan designates the parcel as “Commercial”.  He informed the Commission that currently, there is construction going on onsite for a building that was administratively approved by staff and adheres to the current zoning requirements.  The features on site were detailed which includes an existing brick wall which acts as a buffer to the surrounding residential zones.  The proposed zoning is consistent with the City’s Master Plan as the Commercial designation is most often implemented as Regional Commercial.  Staff considers the amendment to be reasonable within the Zoning Ordinance and the application will not set an inappropriate precedent. 


Kaye mentioned that staff received a letter, from James and Linda Habermehl of 15 Burrell Court, expressing opposition to this petition.  This letter was included in the staff report.  Additionally, the Commission received before the meeting letters from parties in support of the zoning change.


Heying commented about the changes to conditions since the last petition that might justify the current petition.  Kaye indicated that the passing of the 2007 Master Plan redesignated this parcel as a Commercial use.  He also indicated that the widening of Eastman Ave. now allows for easier turning movements in the area than was previously possible.


Pnacek questioned the current uses on site and how the uses would change with a zoning change.  Kaye explained that the current uses are within what is allowed for the OS District.  With a zoning change, the permitted activities on site could be expanded to include broader retail and restaurant type uses.  McLaughlin wondered about who owns the wall.  Kaye indicated his understanding that the wall is located on the property in question.


Mead wanted to know about the allowed uses in the Regional Commercial zone.  Kaye explained the permitted uses within the Office Service and the Regional Commercial zones.  Mead wondered if a car lot could move into this site in the future.  Kaye acknowledged that this use would be permitted, clarifying that the type of activities that are placed on this site will largely be determined by the size of the lot.    


Heying wondered about the height allowed on site within a Regional Commercial zone.  Kaye indicated that OS allows a standard 28’ height, but with concessions, the developer can gain height by increasing setbacks.  The RC District does not have a height limitation.


McLaughlin wondered about the orientation of the parking on site.  Kaye explained the orientation of the parking lot.  McLaughlin wondered if the site design would change with the zoning petition.  Kaye explained that site design cannot change with a zoning petition; what will be built onsite is what was approved in the site plan. 


Eric Finnigan, of Wirt-Rivette Group, presented the applicants proposal.  The request for rezoning comes from the intent of Souper Café to lease a space within the building - an activity that is not permitted in the current zone.  The owner’s of Souper Café, Chad and Jennifer Wohlford, explained that it is a local business.  The business will not be open on Sunday’s and alcohol will not be served.  Additionally, they explained their business endeavors in Saginaw, Bay City and Midland and how they have been invested in the area for many years. 


Finnigan explained the design of the building being constructed as well as the full design of the site.  The site design contains many elements to reduce impact on the adjacent residential parcels, including the location of the refuse container being as far away from the residential neighbors as possible.  Additionally, he addressed the idea that the site will negatively impact the property values of the surrounding residences, explaining that comments he received directly from the City’s Assessor do not support this notion. 


Heying wondered about shared access agreements with the neighboring property.  Finnigan said that there are shared access easement agreements with Walgreens in place to provide access to the site from both Eastman Avenue and Saginaw Road. 


Stewart wondered about the entrances to the building.  Finnigan explained that there is only one entrance to the building.  A tiled vestibule within the building has the entrances to the three units.  Finnigan further explained the nature of the Souper Café and how it will fit into the building. 


Mead reminded the Commission that this proposal must be reviewed from the perspective of how the proposed zoning would affect the surrounding neighbors, not how the proposed activity within the new zone will affect the surrounding parcels.


There were no additional comments in support of the proposal.


Sally Stebleton, of 6 Burrell Court, expressed her opposition to the proposed zoning change.  She explained the history of the residential area and the adjacent site.  She explained that Bill Knapp’s, a previous activity on the site of question, built the brick wall as well and deeded extra land to the residences on the south for an added buffer.


Mike Fales, of 7 Burrell Court, expressed his opposition to the proposed zoning change.  He presented a memorandum from 1981 explaining the deed from Bill Knapp’s.  He read the portion explaining the agreement for Bill Knapp’s to build the wall and outlined how the grade of site has changed over time.  Fales continued to explain his opposition through the Master Plan and the Zoning Ordinance.  He believes that with this change of zoning, the Commission will make his property, and his neighbor’s property, the buffer zone from commercial to residential. He believes his property value will decrease if the zoning change is approved.  Additionally, he read two letters in opposition of the change for property owners within Burrell Court.  The letters were from Sally Stebleton, mentioned previously, and Rodrigo and Roberta Barassi of 23 Burrell Court.


Stephanie Baiyasi, of 27 Burrell Court, explained her opposition to the rezoning.  She agreed with her neighbors on the negative impacts a Regional Commercial zone could have on her property value.  She presented a letter to the Commission from her and her husband.


Chris Lauckner, of 3 Burrell Court, expressed his concern that the uses of the Regional Commercial district will be detrimental to his property value.  He also expressed that traffic congestion will only increase with this more intensive use and that there will be an increased potential for danger for those using the sidewalk on Eastman Road.  He wondered about the MDOT plans for a roundabout and how it will impact the potential activities onsite and the access to the site. 


Finnigan addressed the concerns presented by the neighbors.  He expressed that he would like the Commission to understand that parts of the Master Plan and the Zoning Ordinance can be pulled to support or oppose any proposal.  He would hope that the Commission looks fairly at the proposal.  He also indicated that the traffic onsite is designed to share access with the adjoining parcels to reduce congestion.


The public hearing was closed. 


Mead wondered about the permitted uses of the Neighborhood Commercial zone.  Kaye explained the intent of the NC zone and the types of permitted uses. 


Commissioners agreed to table the decision until the next meeting.


4.   Old Business


      a.   Site Plan No. 321 – the request of Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for site plan review and approval for a retail development, located at 7001, 7007 and 7013 Eastman Avenue.


      Chairman Pnacek reminded the Commission that he has previously declared a conflict of interest on this proposal excused himself from the proceedings.


      Grant Murschel presented the site plan to refresh the Commission on the proposal as the full presentation and public hearing was held during the August 27 meeting.  He reminded commissioners that all information requirements have been met, all district standards have been complied with and all screen, lighting and landscaping requirements are satisfied with this proposal.  Murschel address the previous concerns of Shepherd Drive and storm water management.  He explained that the ordinance does not allow this parcel to have access to Eastman Avenue and that the developer is entitled to access onto Shepherd Drive, which is an existing city street.  Additionally, the City does not have plans to upgrade Shepherd Drive but could decide to do so in the future through a special assessment.  The applicant has met the preliminary requirements for storm water management onsite.  Additionally, the mature trees in the location of the proposed detention pond will be removed.  The City cannot require the developer to retain these trees as the proposal has met the landscaping requirements without them. 


      Hanna wondered about the idea of storm water management taking place underground.  Murschel explained that this is an option for the developer but what is now proposed meets the requirements of the ordinance.


      Justin Muller, of Kimley-Horn and Associates, answered additional questions from the Commission.  He addressed the concerns of vehicle maneuvering expressed by Hanna.  The aisle widths meet the ordinance standards and any car can maneuver within the site.  He explained that the driveway approaches to Shepherd Drive will be asphalt to address Mead’s question. 

      Senesac expressed his concern of the state of Shepherd Drive but realizes that it is what is there.  Mead expressed that over time, he images that Shepherd will be updated.  Heying expressed that he believes the development will fit in with the surrounding uses.


            Motion by Mead and seconded by Hanna to recommend to City Council the approval of Site Plan No. 321, the request of Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for site plan review and approval for a retail development, located at 7001, 7007 and 7013 Eastman Avenue contingent on the following:


            1.         Final stormwater design detail shall be approved by the City Engineering Department.

            2.         Final soil erosion and sedimentation control plans shall be approved by the City Building Department.

            3.         Water service to the satisfaction of the City Engineering and Utility Departments shall be provided and any necessary utility easements conveyed to the City of Midland.

            4.         Lighting/photometric details compliant with Section 3.12 of the Zoning Ordinance shall be approved by the City Planning and Building Departments.

            5.         Final sign design compliant with Section 8.05.D of the Zoning Ordinance shall be provided to the satisfaction of the City Building Department.


YEAS:            Hanna, Senesac, Heying, McLaughlin, Mead, Young and Tanzini

            NAYS:            None

            ABSTAIN:      Pnacek


5.   Public Comments




6.   New Business


a.    Boards and Commissions Attendance Policy –


Kaye thoroughly explained the attendance policy.  He explained the attendance standards for retaining membership and how tardiness and absence over time can automatically remove a member from the Commission. 


7.   Communications




8.   Report of the Chairperson





9.   Report of the Planning Director


      The Non-Motorized Transportation Plan was approved last night during the City Council meeting.  Council asked for consistent updates on the implementation of the plan from the Planning Commission.  Additionally, Council asked for more performance metrics from the NMT Committee.  No public comments were made to City Council.


      The Foxfire Site Condominiums site plan was approved at the City Council meeting last night, as well.  No public comments were made to City Council on the proposal.


10. Items for Next Agenda – September 24, 2013


a.  Conditional Use Permit No. 48 – Subway (public hearing)

b.  Site Plan No. 322 – Brittany Manor (public hearing)

c.  Site Plan No. 323 – The Savant Group (public hearing)

d.  Zoning Petition No. 586 – The Wirt-Rivette Group (deliberation and decision)


The Commission discussed issues to be discussed during a work-shop session, including notification for public hearings and the development review process.  The Commissioners agreed that a work-shop session at the second meeting in October would be in order.   


11. Adjourn 


Motion by Hanna and seconded by McLaughlin to adjourn at 8:49 pm.  Motion passed unanimously.


Respectfully submitted,

Brad's Signature.JPG

C. Bradley Kaye, AICP, CFM

Director of Planning and Community Development