Minutes              Planning Commission              June 11, 2015

HARTLAND TOWNSHIP Planning Commission Regular Meeting  Final MINUTES

June 11, 2015-7:00 PM


1.              Call to Order - The meeting was called to order by Chairman Larry Fox at 7:00 PM

2.              Pledge of Allegiance

3.              Roll Call

PRESENT:              Joe Colaianne, Thomas Murphy, Larry Fox, Jeff Newsom, Sue Grissim, Michael Mitchell

ABSENT:              Keith Voight (Excused)


4.              Approval of Meeting Agenda - June 11, 2015

a.              Motion to approve meeting agenda for June 11, 2015


MOVER:              Sue Grissim, Commissioner

SECONDER:              Michael Mitchell, Commissioner

AYES:              Colaianne, Murphy, Fox, Newsom, Grissim, Mitchell

EXCUSED:              Voight

5.              Approval of Meeting Minutes

a.              Planning Commission - Regular Meeting - May 28, 2015 7:00 PM


MOVER:              Joe Colaianne, Trustee

SECONDER:              Sue Grissim, Commissioner

AYES:              Colaianne, Murphy, Fox, Newsom, Grissim, Mitchell

EXCUSED:              Voight

6.              Call to Public

No public came forward (most were there for Fiddler Grove public hearing)

7.              Public Hearing

a.              SP# 524-P - Fiddler Grove Preliminary PD Site Plan

a.  Site Plan #524-P - Fiddlers Grove Preliminary PD Site Plan

Chair Fox first explained the public hearing process, then opened the hearing at 7:04 by asking for an overview of the project from the Director.  Director stated that the site plan is for 25 condominium units on 9 acres on the south side of M-59; the applicant is on step 6 of a 12 step process.  This is the preliminary stage and a public hearing is required at this step; there is still a final site plan process that must take place.   He explained that this project is a traditional condominium project where all common area is jointly owned; it has one access point.  The Planning Department’s report included a review of all aspects of the project, highlighting the access, internal circulation, landscaping, architectural design, and impact on neighboring residences.  For approval of a Planned Development, there is also an additional standard of providing a recognizable benefit that is considered above and beyond standard requirements.  In this case the primary benefit cited is extension of the water main to loop the existing Autumn Woods system.  The Planning Department is recommending approval only upon satisfaction of various conditions and shortcomings currently found in the plan.


Chair Fox then asked the applicant for an overview.  The applicant’s representative stated that the Director outlined the project well, and he then described the project history.  Key issues addressed include buffering the neighboring development and providing pedestrian circulation; he said that a tree survey was done and the landscaping was modified to increase buffering.  He also highlighted those changes intended to address other Planning Commission concerns.  Sidewalks are now proposed along one side of the cul-de-sac.  Following these two presentations, Chair Fox asked that members of the public with questions to come forward.


Mr. Berry on Clover Ridge asked about the impact on the installation of a 12’ water main to existing landscaping, and whether the trees will remain.


Mr. Wyeth on Clover Ridge asked about setbacks and expressed concern about proximity considering the lot sizes and density of the surrounding development.  He also said that the project cannot be guaranteed to be only a retirement community.


Mr. Casper on Four Seasons Dr. commented on the how the demarcation between his lot and the proposed development would be maintained, and could this be an element in the development agreement.   He also asked about water runoff and whether the detention pond would be “wet”.  He questioned a southern dimension, as well as the financial viability of the builder.


Mr. Mack on Four Seasons Dr. said that his biggest concern was the boring that will occur in his back yard and the impact on trees, along with supporting the comments his neighbor made.


Mr. Tatford on Inverness in Highland Township indicated that he said they had been trying to move into Hartland for a number of years but little was available; and this location would meet his needs.  He also asked about the water supply.


Chair Fox closed the public hearing at 7:30 and asked the applicant to address the issues in the review letter along with the questions posed by the public.  The Director said that this property was once intended for a church, and was also previously proposed as an assisted living facility. 


The applicant’s representative began by explaining the lot widths relative to adjacent subdivisions; density will be slightly higher than neighboring development.  Murphy asked about the location of the sidewalk, emphasizing the importance of community walkability; he questioned whether a sidewalk on one side is sufficient.  He said that most condos in Hartland have sidewalks on both sides of the street.  The applicant was asked to explain the rationale for sidewalks on only one side explaining that in part, it was to accommodate parking.  Chair Fox asked for opinions; Colaianne said one side would probably work and he could go either way, Grissim agreed that one side would likely be sufficient.  She said what was most important was access to M-59; Newsom agreed that one side would be fine.  Murphy stated his preference for sidewalks on both sides.  It was agreed that the plan would show sidewalks on one side in lieu of the woodchip trail.


Chair Fox opened the discussion on density.  The proposed density is 2.7 units per acre.  Chair Fox indicated that the density had been preliminarily accepted at the conceptual stage. Newsom asked about the sales price - it is to be the low $300’s.  He stated that 25 homes at that price range would not negatively impact neighboring property values.


The discussion moved to road improvements and the Director relayed that traffic counts do not warrant improvements on M-59.  He also said that off-site road improvements could be requested as a recognizable benefit.  Newsom expressed concern about the capacity on M-59 in that location. The Director explained that requiring a turn lane would actually increase the potential for conflict, and the traffic study does not warrant a center left turn lane.  Newsom suggested that extending the 45 mph speed limit could be an option.  No changes were recommended as a result of the traffic discussion.


Chair Fox asked the Director to address the Fire Marshal’s review.  The cul-de-sac is in excess of the 600’ allowed by the Ordinance, necessitating consideration of secondary access.  Also, per the Ordinance, the number of units allowed on one point of access is 24.  Because this is a Planned Development, however, there can be some deviation from the requirements.  Chair Fox said that meetings on this topic did occur, and at their conclusion, the Fire Marshal did state that if there is mountable curb, he would be satisfied with the project as is.  The Planning Commission would have to concur.  Chair Fox asked if the Planning Commission is willing to accept an additional unit, as well as a cul-de-sac over 700’. The mountable curb, which provides for a 28’ road width, allows for somewhat of an access alternative.  Discussion ensued on the practicality of the road width.  Colaianne asked what the benefits to the Township would be in exchange for allowing flexibility.  Mitchell said he was fine with 25 units but suggested that parking be perhaps limited toone side.  Murphy also said he had no issue with 25 units. The spacing between units is proposed to be 20’, and this was agreeable to the Commission members.  Discussion occurred on the width of the required private road easement (66’), indicating that the full width must be shown in accordance with Ordinance requirements.


The discussion moved to the park design, which is proposed to be a largely open area with benches.  Newsom said that benches are never used in such park areas, and more landscaping might be preferable.  Chair Fox said that landscaping may soften the effect of headlights and asked if an alternative could be considered; he then asked about the definition of useable open space.  Grissim suggested that an alternative to address both issues could be considered, perhaps incorporating a hedge into the design. 


The next topic discussed was utilities.  Chair Fox reiterated the public questions on utility issues. The applicant explained the water main connection proposed, indicating that the technology for directional bores is such that there should be very minimal impact to the trees.  Newsom asked if anything was in place to replace the vegetation if damaged; Chair Fox asked that this concept be incorporated.  The Director said an easement will need to be established.  The drainage plan was explained; the ponds are small and will largely be wet.  Chair Fox brought up the question on the water supply - the Director described the water main extension and proposed loop. 


Chair Fox redirected discussion to useable open space.  The applicant’s representative estimated that 60% of the open space was useable.  Colaianne asked about the detention pond in the open space and whether it utilizes new technology - the response was that this type of design is considered a best practice.  The definition of “useable” was discussed, which was, per the Director, to be suitable for active recreation.


The landscape plan and tree survey were reviewed next, with focus on the screening/buffering requirements.  Chair Fox said that the existing vegetation should remain, but questioned whether the supplemental materials (specifically the arborvitae) were “natural”.  Grissim questioned the “continual screen” requirement, agreeing that the natural vegetation should be preserved.  She asked if there were existing plants beyond the boundary not shown on the plan.   The applicant’s representative described the overall landscape plan, stating that the focus was buffering residences.   Grissim proposed more natural groupings, less formal than presently shown, particularly near the detention ponds.  She also suggested different, more naturalistic plant materials.  Newsom asked that the applicant to work with adjacent property owners to ensure screening was adequate; Chair Fox agreed.  Chair Fox also asked that substitutions be provided for the arborvitae indicating that he did not believe these appeared to be appropriate in a natural setting.  Grissim offered comments on alternative species and agreed that gaps should be filled.  She also asked for an explanation on what appeared to be a retaining wall; a detail needs to be added.  It was agreed that the intent of the greenbelt was largely met, but some staggering was recommended by Grissim.  Unit landscaping was the last item discussed; Grissim commented positively but suggested less uniformity in the street tree plan.  Regarding the proposed demolition/grading plan, it was requested that more detail be added in order to provide neighbors the opportunity to remove any possible encroachments.


The Director described the “recognizable benefit” element of the Planned Development provisions, emphasizing that the applicant must go above and beyond basic requirements in order to take advantage of the flexibility offered through these provisions.  Colaianne asked about the types of benefits provided by other applicants; the Director reviewed other projects and said the benefits were often proportional to the project.  Colaianne said the loop is beneficial, but questioned the others listed by the applicant.   Mitchell agreed, and stated that working with the adjacent property owners could potentially be considered a benefit.  Newsom said that the high end nature of the project is a positive; he also supported the proposed density.  Grissim suggested linkage with the existing wood chip trail in Autumn Woods and possibly to San Marino; the applicant’s representative expressed concern.   Colaianne recalled a project where capital was set aside for future park improvements and said the Board would likely comment on the “recognizable benefits” component.  Colaianne said that he would prefer more in terms of recognizable benefits in exchange for the additional unit.


Chair Fox asked for additional comments; Newsom raised the question of the builder’s financial viability.  The applicant described his experience, stating that he never lost a property to foreclosure and survived the downturn.  The timeframe for completion is anticipated to be 12 months.  The elevations will be varied, as will the individual unit landscaping.


Chair Fox asked about the other review letters; the Director responded briefly regarding the other reviews.  Chair Fox said that although he was comfortable with the project and program, it is not customarily to advance a project with this many issues to the Board.  He said that it is his preference to see the plan again with the requested changes made; Newsom agreed.  Colaianne said that the Board would likely agree with this approach as well, mentioning that none of the issues seem to be insurmountable.   The applicant’s representative asked if the next review could be administrative; Chair Fox said that he wants to see the plan, especially the landscape changes.  He doesn’t believe this will negatively impact the timeline.  Discussion ensued on the proposed timeline.  Chair Fox reiterated that the changes need to be made, and although this is a good project, procedures need to be followed.  He then listed 12 issues that need to be addressed:


1-   Show sidewalks on one side of the road

2-   Delete woodchip trails

3-   Change road construction to reflect mountable curbs and the full 66’ road easement

4-   Provide all details on the proposed park construction including bench materials

      (usually pictures are provided)

5-   Show landscape changes proposed for the cul-de-sac

6-   Explain how any damage to natural features due to boring will be mitigated

7-   Provide the useable open space calculation on the plan

8-   Naturalize the landscape plan

9-   Show all retaining wall details

10- Provide landscape plans for each individual unit

11- Involve the neighbors in resolving screening/buffering issues

      (particularly important if this is to be considered a recognizable benefit)

12- Show all encroachments on the demolition plan to alert neighbors as necessary


Newsom added that quantification of the recognizable benefits must also be provided.  


The applicant’s representative asked if there was an active association in Autumn Woods and San Marino - both were confirmed.  Chair Fox said that a naturalized perimeter landscape plan would be acceptable as the presentation to the homeowners.  He affirmed that the meetings with the homeowners could occur after preliminary site plan approval and that the Planning Commission would agree to those changes requested by the homeowners.  The Director indicated that in terms of addressing mitigation of any damage to the natural features as the result of the boring, he would discuss options with the Township Attorney.  This could be tricky considering the work is off-site.  Chair Fox stated for the benefit of the public that there were other, more intense uses previously proposed for this site.  Although the density is higher than   the surrounding neighborhoods, it is a quality project.  The Director said that a full revision would unlikely appear on the next agenda.  The next realistic date, provided revised plans were submitted in a timely manner, would be the first meeting in July.  Colaianne said that a special Board meeting in July could be considered as only 18 hours notice was required.


Discussion on the proposed Fiddler’s Grove project was concluded by Chair Fox.

RESULT:              DEFERRED

8.              Old and New Business


9.              Call to Public

Chair Fox extended a call to the public.


Mr. Wyeth - Clover Ridge, came forward to thank the Planning Commission, but also express concern about the size of the project.  He believes that the setbacks were not adequately addressed.  He appreciated the requirement that the applicant work with the adjacent homeowners on perimeter landscaping.  He also liked the idea of capital going toward future sidewalk improvements.


Ms. Wesley - an Autumn Woods resident, came forward and expressed appreciation for the attention to detail, especially in terms of landscaping.  She also suggested that consideration be given to requiring 3 units to be eliminated to reduce the number of deviations necessary. 


The Call to the Public was closed.

10.              Planner's Report

The Director reported on the following:


·              Two public hearings are scheduled for June 25th - the Speedway reconstruction and the amendment to the Venture Church PD to allow for Walnut Ridge condominium development.

·              Two public hearings are also scheduled for the July 16th meeting - the Comprehensive               Plan Update and the other (potentially) is for the Mugg & Bopps fuel station/Dunkin               Donuts/Baskin Robbins proposed for Clark Rd. and M-59.  The Mugg & Bopps includes the site plan along with 2 special land uses.

·              Several concept plan meetings have also been held; economic development activity continues to be strong.

·              The Livingston County Planning Commission has formally notified the Township that it               will be undertaking an update to the County’s Comprehensive Plan - the letter has been               provided in the packets.

·              Tablets for the Planning Commission will be ordered shortly

11.              Committee Reports


12.              Adjournment

Chair Fox requested a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:46pm.  Motion to adjourn was made and seconded, motion carried.


Submitted by,



Keith Voight

Planning Commission Secretary

Hartland Township              Page 3              Updated 7/6/2015 5:40 PM