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Minutes - October 4, 2016

HOLLAND CHARTER TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Regular Meeting

October 4, 2016

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Marion Hoeve at 7:00 p.m.

Present:   Chairman Marion Hoeve, Vice-Chairman/Secretary Jack Vander Meulen and Members Ken Bosma, Dennis Gebben, La Verne Johnson, Norm Nykamp and Ed Zylstra. Also present was Assistant Planner Corey Broersma and Recording Secretary Amy LeVesque.

Absent:   Planner Meghann Reynolds.

The minutes of the regular meeting of September 6, 2016 were approved as written.

Mr. Hoeve explained the meeting and hearing procedures for the assembled audience.

Mr. Hoeve next opened the public hearing to consider a special use request submitted by Dennis D. Reckley on behalf of T K P Investments, LLC (Lead Foot Muscle Cars, LLC) for property located at 154 E. Lakewood Boulevard Suites 10, 20 and 30 and 156 E. Lakewood Boulevard Suite 20. Both addresses are located on the same parcel, number 70-16-20-275-021, which is zoned C-2 General Commercial. The applicant is seeking permission for the outdoor display of 52 new or used automobiles for sale or lease. The Planning Commission granted special use approval to conduct sales or leasing of new or used automobiles with interior display only at 154 E. Lakewood Boulevard Suites 10, 20 and 30 and also at 156 E. Lakewood Boulevard Suite 20 at their June 2, 2015 meeting. Present for this request was Martin Boysen, Manager of Lead Foot Muscle Cars, LLC.

Mr. Boysen explained that the business owners wish to add outdoor display to their existing indoor auto sales business. Submitted plans show 50 display parking spaces for autos for sale in the lot area near Lakewood Boulevard, with two additional spaces for “special” display along Lakewood Boulevard. Plans also show 20 employee spaces (plus one handicap space) and nine customer spaces (plus two handicap spaces). Mr. Boysen also explained that there are additional parking spaces indoors for display, detailing and storage purposes and that there are driveways along both the east and west property lines.

Mr. Vander Meulen commented that lighting for the proposed car lot should be directed downward, so that lights do not shine into Lakewood Boulevard and Scotts Drive or into neighboring properties.

Mr. Boysen explained that the only lighting on the lot at present is mounted on buildings and that tall trees, buildings and the railroad bed to the south, which is higher than the car lot, should effectively block light from the car lot.

Mr. Nykamp commented that the drive aisles on plans are narrower than 24 feet, which is required.

Mr. Broersma explained that a final site plan should be submitted that meets requirements for drive aisles and shows parking spaces that meet the nine feet by 18 feet requirement, including display spaces, and that that the parking lot should be restriped as necessary.

In response to a question from Mr. Gebben, Mr. Boysen stated that he would consider adding parking spaces for additional display.

Mr. Broersma commented that the zoning ordinance would require 54 employee parking spaces, more employee parking than is currently indicated on plans, due to the size of the buildings on the property which total over 16,000 square feet. He explained that if the use of the property changes from the proposed use, additional parking would probably be needed. He also explained that a future use could require applying for a parking variance. He commented that he would like to see an area designated for additional parking on the final site plan, to be developed if needed. He explained that other suites on the property may need additional parking as well, if uses change.

Mr. Tony Martinez of 159 East Lakewood Boulevard, stated that he owns property at 143 and 169 East Lakewood Boulevard, and that he supports the plan for the property. He stated that the owners have a passion for their automobile business and that they run a clean operation.          

**   Mr. Zylstra moved and Mr. Bosma supported the motion to close the public hearing. Motion carried.

Commissioners next reviewed the following six special use considerations:

  1. The size, nature and character of the proposed use;
  2. The proximity of the proposed use to adjoining properties;
  3. The parking facilities provided for the proposed use;
  4. Any hazard which would be occasioned by the proposed use;
  5. Any environmental effect of the proposed use such as noise, smoke, dust, vibration or other similar effect; and
  6. The physical appearance of the proposed use and its compatibility with adjoining land uses and land uses in the surrounding neighborhood.

**   Mr. Zylstra moved and Mr. Bosma supported the motion to approve the special use request for outdoor display of new or used automobiles at 154 East Lakewood Boulevard Suites 10, 20 and 30 and 156 East Lakewood Boulevard Suite 20, based upon the Planning Commission’s findings as reflected in the minutes for the reasons set forth in the minutes, with the stipulation that the applicants submit a final site plan that meets Township requirements and is approved by Staff before cars are displayed outdoors on the property. Motion carried.

Next, Mr. Hoeve opened the public hearing to consider an amendment to the final development plan for the Butternut Business Center Planned Unit Development (PUD), formerly known as the Defeyter Storage PUD, located at 406 Butternut Drive. The applicant, Coastal Real Estate Holdings, LLC, wishes to establish a second condominium on the 3.07 acre site, with parcel A to the south to include the existing 16,890 square foot building on 1.46 acres and parcel B to the north to include the proposed 18,660 square foot building on 1.61 acres. The plan indicates that both condominiums would share the existing driveway. The total number of units will be unchanged, with eight units in the existing building and 12 units in the proposed building. Present for this request was Mr. Bill Sikkel of Property Law Solutions, PLC.

Mr. Sikkel explained that the original PUD was approved in 2005 but that due to the downturn in the economy, the second building was never built. He also explained that there is a new party wishing to develop the north portion of the property called parcel B and that Macatawa Bank is the current owner of this north portion. He went on to explain that the proposed building will be smaller than the building that was approved in the original PUD agreement and will be decreased in areas to the south and west. He commented that the proposed smaller building would allow for more room for access. He stated that the proposed building would be built of the same materials as the existing building and would be designed to match it. He explained that smaller 14 foot by 14 foot overhead doors would be used in the new building instead of the 16 foot by 16 foot overhead doors that are in the existing building.

Mr. Sikkel explained that the developer is proposing two condominiums, each with their own association, subject to the requirements of one PUD. He also explained that the developer plans to work with the existing association and has had preliminary discussions with the association. He went on to explain that each unit in the existing building has a unit owner.

In response to a question from Mr. Vander Meulen, Mr. Sikkel explained that although units in the existing building included offices, units in the proposed building would not include offices. He also explained that it would be possible for unit owners in the proposed building to construct offices.

Mr. Broersma commented that storage, which would be a special use in C-2 zones, is allowed by the PUD. He explained that the neighboring properties are a mix of residential and commercial zones and that greenbelts and screening should are required where the property borders residential areas to the east, north and west.

Mr. Broersma explained that both resulting new parcels would not meet the minimum frontage requirement of 90 feet. He further explained that the Township Board would need to approve the land division and a split of a platted lot (lot 17), north of parcel A. He suggested that amending the current PUD and creating a second PUD might better serve the interests of all involved parties.

Mr. Broersma explained that he has not yet received comments from the fire chief and that the approved plan for the PUD allows for a pull in and back out procedure for fire trucks. He also explained that one parking space per unit was approved in the original PUD agreement. He commented that current landscaping does not provide adequate screening to residential properties.

Mr. Sikkel explained that although plans show a second retention pond in the northwest corner of parcel B, the developer would prefer to share the existing pond on the south portion of parcel A. He also explained that the goal is to work out a drainage easement agreement with the existing association. He stated that an easement for joint use of the driveway has also been discussed with the association.

Mr. Bosma questioned whether a parcel split was necessary since the proposal includes two condominiums and two associations.

Mr. Sikkel explained that the developer would prefer a single PUD with two parcels.

Mr. Broersma mentioned that a letter from Jennifer B. Van Regenmorter of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, attorneys for the association, was hand delivered shortly before the meeting.

Ms. Patricia Mahoney, Secretary/Treasurer for the Butternut Business Center Condominium Association, explained that the association has been working with the developer for the past 18 months and met with the developer on May 25, 2016. She explained that the association supports the development of the ten year old PUD and does not want the relationship with the developer to become adversarial. She also stated that the association prefers two separate properties and two associations, that they would agree to a driveway easement and shared frontage and that a negotiation for use of the existing retention pond would be required. She also explained that the existing building units are used only for storage, that none of the owners use the offices, and that the building is not appropriate for other uses since there is no air exchange into the building and no seal on the top of it. She went on to explain that the association wants what is best for the current unit owners and that the roof of the existing building and the asphalt both need repairs. She commented that there are sometimes issues regarding inadequate parking. She stated that since the needs of the existing property are different than what the needs of the proposed new development will be, the association would prefer a property split into two parcels and two associations. She also stated that the association has spent a great deal of money on the issue and is seeking closure to the situation.

In response to a comment from Mr. Hoeve, Ms. Mahoney explained that there are six owners of the eight units, with two owners owning two units each, in the existing building and that most units could be described as “man caves” that are used for personal car repair and storage. She explained that the only businesses are Anchor Sprinkling and Select Prestige, Inc. and since there is only one parking space per unit, employees sometimes park inside the building. She also explained that no customers come to these businesses and that the phone system that was installed when the building was constructed is not used by anyone. She also stated that the association would like to review the parking plan for the proposed development and that they would not want to share parking on a regular basis.

Mr. Scott Steggerda, owner of two units in Butternut Business Center, stated that he prefers two separate properties since he does not wish to share maintenance costs with the new association. He stated that there are currently issues with patrons of the Dollar Store using the parking lot to turn around in. He stated that the association has spent a lot of money on legal fees and that he does not want to lose value on the units that he owns.

Mr. Hoeve commented that splitting the property and creating two separate PUDs would solve issues. Mr. Broersma stated that a new master deed for parcel A and parcel B would be required and that an easement would allow both PUDs to share the driveway. He commented that the parcel could be split if the Township Board approves it. He also explained that a PUD amendment would allow parcel B to withdraw from the PUD.

Mr. Gebben expressed concern about potential legal issues. Mr. Hoeve suggested consulting the Township’s attorney on the matter.

Mr. Gebben also commented that the use of the property may create tension between property owners and the mix of uses in the area, especially since there are residential areas to the south. He commented that additional greenspace is needed where the property borders residential property. He also commented that he was surprised to see that the property is slated for low density residential use on the future land use map.

Mr. Broersma commented that there was no change in the designation of the area on the future land use map when the map was last updated in 2015. Mr. Vander Meulen commented that he believes the area was overlooked during the update. Mr. Gebben suggested that Commissioners address the zoning in the area. Mr. Hoeve agreed.

Mr. Hoeve suggested Mr. Broersma set up a meeting with the Township’s attorney, the association, Mr. Sikkel, and himself to discuss how to move forward.

Mr. Steggerda asked that he be kept informed on results of the meeting.

**  Mr. Nykamp moved and Mr. Bosma supported the motion to close the public hearing. Motion carried.

**  Mr. Bosma moved and Mr. Zylstra supported the motion to table the request for the PUD amendment for the Butternut Business Center pending further information. Motion carried.

Next, Mr. Hoeve introduced a preliminary review for West Shore Apartments PUD, to be located on property located along West Shore Drive south of Riley Street. The applicant, William T Mast on behalf of West Shore Pines, LLC, is proposing a residential apartment complex of seven buildings, with each building to have three stories. Present for this review was Mr. Bill Mast of West Shore Pines, LLC.

Mr. Mast explained that the site plan has been revised according to Commissioners’ input. He also explained that the number of units has been reduced by 12, from 132 units to 120 units. He also explained that the new plan changes two of the end two bedroom units on each floor of each building to one unit, of which some units will be three bedroom apartments and some units will be larger two bedroom apartments. He stated that the following items have been added to the plan: sidewalks to Riley Street and West Shore Drive, two bus stops, 45 foot turn radii on inside corners of drives, increased parking to 306 spaces which exceeds requirements, created a play area by designing two retention ponds instead of one, enclosed dumpsters, and added landscaping along the west property line.

In response to a comment from Mr. Nykamp, Mr. Broersma explained that setbacks from buildings to the property line must meet requirements depending on the zoning of the adjacent property. He also explained that the easement to the southwest driveway must be recorded. He further explained that since the property does not meet the 90 foot frontage requirement on Riley Street or West Shore Drive, a 66 foot wide private access and utility easement is needed to create frontage.

In response to a comment from Mr. Mast, Mr. Broersma explained that if the Riley Street driveway were to extend 90 feet into the body of the property and has a 66 wide access and utility easement over it, the plan would meet Township frontage requirements. He suggested that Mr. Mast eliminate a couple of parking spaces or relocate the dumpster to create the necessary space.

Mr. Bosma commented that since the road is private, parking or a dumpster can be allowed on the driveway easement.

In response to a question from Mr. Hoeve regarding signs, Mr. Mast stated that no signs are proposed as yet but that he understands that signage must meet requirements.

In response to a question from Mr. Bosma about the play area being located near the retention ponds, Mr. Mast explained that there will be limestones surrounding the pond, as is typical. He explained that he believes that putting up a fence would be unsightly.

Mr. Vander Meulen commented that other housing developments in the area also have retention ponds and play areas.

Mr. Broersma commented that the pond ordinance has provisions for safety, including entry slopes, and that developers should review these requirements for retention ponds.

In response to a question from Mr. Vander Meulen, Mr. Mast explained that bus shelters were placed at the northeast and southwest corners of the development so that they are not too far away from any one unit.

Mr. Vander Meulen commented that since the bus shelters would also be used to wait for MAX buses, one of the shelters should be located closer to Riley Street, east of the driveway.

Mr. Mast agreed to move one the bus shelter location closer to Riley Street and stated that he would also move the second bus shelter closer to West Shore Drive. He also stated that he would be willing to construct the shelters in the location that the school district prefers. He explained that bus shelters would be built with materials that match the apartment buildings.

Mr. Vander Meulen commented that allowing a density of 14.65 units per acre, which is in excess of the 12 units per acre specification for multi-family zoning, would set a precedence for future developments in the Township.

Mr. Mast explained that the owner has been trying to develop the property for a long time and has had no luck attracting retail businesses. He also explained that former Planning and Zoning Administrator Jon Mersman encouraged him to develop an increased density housing project on the property so that people could live near where they work. He went on to explain that a greater number of units per acre is more profitable.

Mr. Hoeve commented that he believes that Mr. Mersman was trying to encourage mixed use development.

In response to a question from Mr. Vander Meulen, Mr. Mast stated that buildings would all have interior wood frame construction.

Mr. Johnson commented that he prefers taller buildings to agricultural land being gobbled up for residential use.

Mr. Hoeve commented that he believes it’s time to update the zoning ordinance in regard to building height and density. In response to question from Mr. Vander Meulen, he explained that the Planning Commission could restrict building height and density by zoning district.

Mr. Mast commented that the land is surrounded by fully developed commercial property.

Mr. Bosma commented that the proposed buildings will blend in with surrounding development since they are located on an interior lot.

Mr. Vander Meulen commented that he likes that the potential for three bedroom apartments are included in plans and that he feels that there is a need for them in the Township.

Mr. Mast explained that the design concept allows the flexibility to determine whether certain apartments will be three bedroom or two bedroom just before construction.

Mr. Broersma commented that the south driveway connection to the existing driveway used by the adjacent retail center and Dairy Queen, may be too narrow and may need to be modified. He explained that research has shown that there is a split available for the property and that further study is being done to ensure the Dairy Queen property was not given all future splits. He explained that although the proposed building meets height requirements, it does not meet the requirement for number of stories.

In response to a question from Mr. Vander Meuelen, Mr. Mast stated that he will meet landscaping requirements and that he plans to store snow in landscaped areas.

Mr. Mast explained that his plan meets sideyard requirements
for both C-2 and R-3 zones on the east and west.

Mr. Broersma explained that since it is an interior property, the plan must meet requirements on the north, south, east and west for sideyards. He explained that the north sideyard at 11 feet does not meet the 15 foot sideyard requirement for commercial zones.

Mr. Vander Meulen suggested adjusting plans so that the north sideyard is 12 feet and the south sideyard is 15 feet in order to get the sideyard distances closer to requirements.

Commissioners agreed to give preliminary approval to the project, pending the submission of a final development plan.

Mr. Hoeve next opened the floor to public comments.

Mr. Steve Grassmid of Country View Apartments, located near Riley Street and 136th Avenue, questioned why 50 foot setbacks were required for Country View’s property when it was constructed. He also asked why Commissioners are willing to allow 15 foot setbacks for West Shore Apartments.

Mr. Broersma explained that 50 foot sideyards are required in R-3 zones, and that there may have been other considerations as well, such as building height or square footage. He stated that building code regulations could also have played a part in the 50 foot sideyard requirement.

Mr. Vander Meulen stated that the 50 foot sideyard requirement could have been based on fire code regulations and that in some cases, an easement is required for firefighting equipment. Mr. Bosma agreed.

Mr. Grassmid explained that his development has four units per building, that he was only allowed to build two and a half stories and does not understand why Commissioners are approving three stories for the West Shore Apartment development. He stated that he is asking for a level playing field. He also stated that he tries to keep his complex, at a density of 12 units per acre as allowed by the zoning ordinance, in immaculate condition and fully rented. He stated that some areas of Country View have just eight units per acre. He commented that the Township Board has determined that 12 units per acre is the maximum allowed. He stated that it would be difficult to compete with residential developments that are allowed greater density.  

Mr. Hoeve commented that the zoning ordinance needs to be amended in order to allow developments to have more than two and a half stories and possibly allow greater density.

Mr. Bosma commented that zoning restrictions on density and building height were set many years ago, that the approach to the issue is changing and that the new preference is for greater density so that development is less spread out. He also commented that West Shore Apartments is a PUD, which can be allowed special considerations, and that the Country View Apartments property is located in an R-3 zone.

Mr. Grassmid commented that he will continue to follow restrictions in the zoning code for R-3 but that he has 17 acres that he would like to develop to finish Country View Apartments. He explained that the bad economy of a few years ago and tough energy codes have also made it difficult to finish the project. He also explained that he likes the design of four unit buildings but that it is difficult to make the numbers work.

Mr. Vander Meulen agreed that construction costs have gone up and are continuing to increase.

Mr. Hoeve then closed the public comment section of the meeting.  

In an update on the zoning ordinance revision project, Mr. Broersma informed Commissioners that he has met with Manager Don Komejan, Supervisor Terry Nienhuis, Mr. Bosma and Township Attorney Ron Bultje to discuss hiring a consultant. He stated that the Township is currently negotiating a contract with retired City of Holland Planner Phil Meyer.

Mr. Broersma explained that there are 20 or more ordinances that need revision and that he would like Commissioners to prioritize the order of work on the ordinances. He explained that he plans for a one hour work session to update ordinance sections before every regularly scheduled Planning Commission monthly meeting in 2017. He explained that the work sessions will be public meetings and will be published as required. He went on to explain that the goal is a restatement of the zoning ordinance to be adopted and in effect by the beginning of 2018.

Next, Mr. Broersma explained that the association board of Sawgrass Condominiums PUD, located generally at the northeast corner of 144th Avenue and James Street, would like to build a utility building for the purpose of storing maintenance and irrigation equipment. He also explained that the 14 foot by 14 foot shed would have an eight foot by seven foot door. He went on to explain that the association board is asking whether the Planning Commission would prefer the shed to be constructed on northeastern Burr Avenue or on Sawtooth Court northeast of Burr Avenue. He commented that he did not believe that a PUD amendment would be necessary for such a minor addition.

Mr. Hoeve and Mr. Bosma agreed that a PUD amendment would not be necessary.

In response to a question from Mr. Hoeve, Mr. Broersma explained that the utility building will match the style and materials of other construction in the development and that the association stated that they are willing to plant trees to screen the shed.

Mr. Bosma commented that there is some drainage swale in the proposed Burr Avenue location and that he prefers the shed be built on Sawtooth Court. Mr. Vander Meulen agreed.

Commissioners determined that the association board be allowed to make the decision on whether to build the shed on Burr Avenue or Sawtooth Court, that screening is required, and that written approval must be received from neighbors before the shed can be constructed.

Mr. Hoeve reminded Commissioners that their next regular meeting will be held November 1, 2016.

The meeting adjourned at 8:33 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Amy LeVesque, Recording Secretary

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