MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE MIDLAND CITY PLANNING COMMISSION
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY,
OCTOBER 8, 2013, 6:00 P.M.,
COUNCIL OVERFLOW CONFERENCE ROOM CITY HALL,
1. Roll Call
PRESENT: Hanna, Heying, McLaughlin, Mead, Pnacek, Senesac, Stewart and Tanzini
OTHERS PRESENT: Brad Kaye, Director of Planning and Community Development, Grant Murschel, Community Development Planner, and one other.
2. New Business
a. Public Hearing Meeting Notices
Kaye began by explaining that this item has been brought forward for discussion at the direction of the Planning Commission. He explained the staff report and the different items mentioned within the report that support the staff recommendation to not expand the current practice. Additionally, he explained the position of the City Attorney as also recommending not expanding the current circulation distance. He also explained how the City will be revising their website which will enable us to provide greater development detail and planning information.
Stewart said he researched other states ideas and found that some leave it up to the discretion of the municipality. He believes that what the City is doing meets the requirements of Michigan law.
Hanna explained her reasoning on why she wanted to discuss this topic. She believes that the 300 feet rule is not adequate. She explained that a change in use of a property could negatively impact property well beyond 300 feet.
Mead explained that he is opposed to a subjective approach. Tanzini agreed with Mead. Kaye explained how the notices are mailed out and how the 300 feet is demarcated with the City’s GIS.
Pnacek voiced that most neighbors communicate when development is happening nearby. He believes very few are informed by notices in the newspaper.
Senesac asked for clarification with Hanna’s position. Hanna clarified that she believes the impact of rezoning, particularly, affects properties beyond 300 feet. Senesac agreed with her position. He thinks that with the current practices, most of the information is not getting to the public because of the nature or ways people receive information. In particular, not as many people are reading the newspaper as in the past. He would like to see the City’s website improved to allow for easier access to information on all projects within the City. He would like to see the website include not only public notices but staff reports pertaining to the projects. He recognized that people would need to visit the website regularly in order to stay informed. Additionally, he proposed that the City begin placing signs on the location/sites where proposed development or rezoning is occurring. Pnacek, Mead and Heying agreed with this proposal.
Pnacek explained that a sign approach would show more due diligence on the part of the City. Hanna expressed her support for the sign idea.
Tanzini wanted clarification on the MZEA. Kaye explained that it is a prescription by the state for what municipalities must do to notify the public. Tanzini suggested that the proposed signs be standardized and easy to recognize.
Mead, Tanzini and Kaye explained that most people call and ask questions because they received a notice in the mail, not that they saw the notice in the newspaper. Kaye explained that staff very rarely receives calls based on our newspaper advertisements.
Mead voiced his concern of the current state of the website. Tanzini also voiced his dissatisfaction with the website in how information is stored. They both believe it is difficult to locate information on proposed development and rezoning.
Senesac suggested that the Commission think about his proposals. He believes that the Commission needs to think about what changes can be made to solve the problems of now and also meet the needs of future years.
Kaye explained how the website could be set up to allow for easy access to these materials by having a section on the homepage and quick links to information. Hanna wanted to know what the Commission could do now to change the way information gets out.
McLaughlin wondered about whether a legal review would need to happen by the City Attorney. Kaye explained that a legal review is recommended, and ordinance amendments will also be necessary.
Pnacek wondered about the costs of the signs. Kaye explained that the signs could be customizable or standardized. Additionally, the signs would need to be for all public hearings regarding land use, not just business conducted before the Planning Commission. Hanna explained that she would like to see lots of information on the signs to inform people of when the meeting is being held and on what type of proposal.
Hanna wanted to discuss current signage issues regarding neon and other electronic signs. Kaye explained the current practice with dealing with signs that do not conform to the ordinance. Hanna explained that she wants to discuss this issue more at another work session.
Kaye explained that he can put a report together from staff regarding the request of the Commission on the proposed signs including appropriate legal review and cost. Kaye explained that changes to the zoning ordinance will need to happen in order for the signs to be used.
b. Public Comments Regarding Errors in Adopted Documents
Kaye explained that the integrity of city-approved documents, such as the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance, are at stake when their validity is publicly questioned by city representatives. He explained that the documents as they stand have been approved by Planning Commission and City Council action. If an issue is discovered, proper documentation should be provided to prove the error.
Mead wondered about what should be done if someone questions something in one of the documents. Kaye explained the person should notify staff to research the item and review the documents supporting the claim. The preferred approach would be to advise staff in advance of the Planning Commission meeting to enable proper research to be completed. When this is not possible, such as when the question arises in the course of the Planning Commission discussion, it would be appropriate to table a matter and request that staff research the question before it is brought back for further discussion.
Adjourned at 6:50 p.m.
C. Bradley Kaye, AICP, CFM
Director of Planning and Community Development
MINUTES ARE NOT FINAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION