Reference Desk


Planning Commission Minutes - September 15, 2009



SEPTEMBER 15, 2009

A Regular meeting of the Charter Township of Chesterfield Planning Commission was held on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at the Township Hall Located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield, MI 48047.


Chairman Priest called the meeting to order at 6:58 p.m.


Present: Jim Priest Excused: Jim Moran

Robert Kohler

Paula Frame

Joe Stabile

George Deeby

Ray Saelens

Paul Miller

Cheryl Printz

Others: Brian Wilson, Community Planning & Management


Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Mr. Miller to approve the agenda as presented.

All Ayes Motion Carried

4. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORT: (Committee will report items under Reviews)


A. Public Hearing on Ordinance Amendments: Held open from 8-25-09.

Mr. Wilson noted that he received a brochure from a gentleman in the audience regarding vertical access wind turbines that are distributed through a company in Brighton. He noted their website as

Bill Baade commented from the public with regards to windmills and the $500,000.00 liability insurance.

Mr. Wilson commented that he believes that the commission wishes to remove the provision with regards to the $500,000.00 liability insurance.

There was brief discussion with regard to Special Land Use permission in certain zoning districts and minimum lot sizes, the aesthetics of the structure at the base of towers, commercial applications, and light deflection and noise from the windmills.

Mr. Wilson suggested that we could put in a shadow flicker provision in the ordinance.

Mark VanCuren, representative of PDC Is Green, spoke from the public regarding roof mounted versus tower mounted wind turbines. He presented pictures to the commission.

Mr. Saelens asked Mr. VanCuren if there is any city that he feels has a state of the art ordinance with regard to wind turbines.

Mr. Van Curen responded that he has been told that Waterford has the best ordinance; although he has not seen it. He lives in Rochester Hills, and their ordinance looks almost identical to ours.

Mr. Saelens asked Mr. Van Curen if he could live with our ordinance as an installer/manufacturer rep.

Mr. Van Curen responded that it looks reasonable.

Ms. Frame asked Mr. Van Curen how long he has been working with the wind turbines.

Mr. Van Curen responded that he has been doing it for 6 months; however, the owner of the company has been doing it for years. He suggested that the owner of the company could come and speak with the commission if we would like.

Mr. Wilson asked about the price range for a 600 watt versus a 1,200 watt turbine.

Mr. Van Curen responded that the 600 watt is approximately $7,800.00. The 1.2 is about $13,000.00. There is a 30% tax credit from federal, there is also a tax credit from the state, which was 30%, but he is not sure where that is today. The 3.4 is $35,000.00, and the 5.5 is somewhere around $50,000.00. Every installation has variables depending on the engineering study.

Mr. Stabile asked if there is a guideline as far as a pay back period when he is trying to sell them.

Mr. Van Curen responded that they offer a home visit where they can get information on a particular situation. He could not give a pay back period at this time.

Mr. Stabile wondered if there is any logic to any of this at all other than the green concept.

Ms. Frame asked about the noise levels on the verticals versus the horizontal.

Mr. Van Curen responded that 32 decibels is half the sound of a typical conversation.

Mr. Wilson commented that is a whisper.

Mr. Van Curen commented that he has been right next to them and you really can’t hear them.

All of their units are rated at 32 decibels, even the big ones.

Mr. Stabile commented that there is so much uncertainty that he would like to make the ordinance tough rather than easy. We can always go back and take things out once the technology is proven.

All the commissioners agreed with Mr. Stabile.

Ms. Frame suggested that we keep the Public Hearing open until the next meeting.

Mr. Saelens, Mr. Kohler and Mr. Deeby agreed.

Mr. Deeby invited the owner of PDC Is Green to join us at the next meeting to help educate us on this technology.

Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Mr. Saelens to table the Public Hearing on Ordinance Amendments to the next meeting on September 29, 2009 for further discussion.

All Ayes Motion Carried

B. JOHNSON PROPOSED REZONING – PETITION #323: Jeremy and William Johnson, 38231 Sumpter Dr., Sterling Heights, MI 48310. Requesting to rezone property located on the west side of Jefferson, south of Cotton Road at 47075 Jefferson. The request is to rezone the property from RM-3 (Multiple Family) to C-1 (Local Commercial).Public Hearing set on 8-11-09.

Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Ms. Frame to open the Public Hearing on Rezoning Petition #323 at 7:48 p.m.

All Ayes Motion Carried

James Carnego stated that the Johnsons bought this property from the bank. The property was in a derelict situation. Since then they have repaired and replaced the heating system among other things. Our Building Inspectors have approved everything with regard to the work that they have had done. This was a bait and tackle shop for a long time. It went into foreclosure and was purchased from the bank. He noted that in the area there are apartment houses, a soft ice cream store, a beauty salon, etc. Their property is similar to those. He commented that there is no one present this evening objecting to this petition. This is a basis of a good case of spot zoning. They were told to tear down their pole sign; that was removed, and our inspector has approved the fact that it has been removed. This has been a non-conforming use. At this point his clients have no use for this property. They just can’t hold on to it forever. They have done some research and there is an additional place of business, The Angler’s Pointe, at 28955 William Rosso Hwy., which has outside storage and signs in the right-of-way. There is a precedent. He has checked who owns Angler’s Pointe Marina, and it appears that it is a Domestic Limited Liability Company owned by Gerard Ferguson. However, the tax records indicate that there is another entity involved with the property. It appears that there is some type of residence on the upstairs of this location. There is even a bait machine there, which is not according to our ordinance. The Johnson’s would like to see this rezoned to C-1, or if not, allow them to have an upstairs and downstairs multiple residences. Mr. Carnego noted that he sits on the ZBA and Planning Commission for Bruce Township. This looks strictly as some form of discrimination. These men have bought something and they can’t use it. They have been told all around to destroy this building by tearing it down. Why should they tear it down, when we have this Angler’s, which was in bad shape, now operating within our ordinance?

Mr. Saelens asked if they were aware of what the zoning was when they purchased the property.

Both William Johnson and Jeremy Johnson were present at the podium and signed in. One gentleman spoke; however, he did not indicate his name.

Mr. Johnson responded no. They were told that it was just residential, and partially commercial 50/50. When they bought it it was at an auction and there was very little paper work, etc.

Mr. Saelens asked if they did not come to the township offices prior to purchasing it.

Mr. Johnson stated that he did not know to come to the township. They have owned other properties and have never run into anything like this. It is pretty new to them.

Mr. Saelens commented that the discrimination word does not set well when they purchased it as it was. We did not change the ordinance or zoning on that. That is how it was when they purchased it.

Mr. Carnego interjected that they bought this property at an auction. Whatever information was supplied was of no consequence. The bank owned the property, and they don’t provide any information; you just get a deed. You’re lucky if you get a deed that even says warranty deed. How can the township deny these men the right to operate their business or use this property when there are additional businesses within eyesight?

Mr. Stabile commented that Mr. Carnego stated that there is a precedence set because they see other signs there. Mr. Stabile assured them that there have been extensive Sign Ordinance changes within the past two to three years, that does not allow those types of signs and there is a time limit as to when they have to come down. No one is discriminating against him or his clients. There is no precedence on something that was done 30 years ago.

Mr. Carnego responded that sign is new. Angler"s only came into business this year. He has a copy of their Articles of Association, and they are dated March 19, 2009. That is when that company was formed, so that sign is brand new.

Mr. Priest commented that we are arguing about signs, when the question is whether they want a rezoning or not.

Mr. Carnego responded yes.

Mr. Priest informed them that if they get a rezoning and they want a sign, they will have to come back to us with another application.

Mr. Carnego commented that he is just talking about precedence. That is within our township, isn’t it?

Mr. Priest responded that we will check on that too.

Ms. Frame thanked Mr. Carnego for bringing that to our attention. We will have Zoning Enforcement on that.

Mr. Carnego reiterated that they have outside storage there, junk there. They are asking for a rezoning based on the fact that we have a brand new business nearby that is doing the same thing and we are not allowing his clients to either go with C-1 or allow them to turn this into a multi-family.

Mr. Priest stated that this is currently zoned RM-3. That is residential. They cannot store there. If they are approved for the C-1, then they will be handled in a different manner.

Mr. Carnego responded that he understands that.

Mr. Kohler indicated that he is against this.

Ms. Giese stated that she did speak with these gentlemen when they came into the township before they bought the property. They were advised what the zoning was and what they would be allowed to do there. The bait shop has not been in operation for years on this site. Also, C-1 does not allow outside storage, so they would not be able to store outside. They came back after they bought the property and went over everything again, and this is where we are at. She does not know how or when Angler’s Pointe opened, but they are zoned waterfront.

Ms. Frame asked for clarification that Ms. Giese did speak with them before they purchased the property and they did understand. (Ms. Frame indicated that the applicants were standing behind Ms. Giese shaking their heads no.)

Ms. Giese stated that she spoke with them numerous times.

Mr. Johnson stated that he talked to her after they bought the property. Yes, they have spoken a few times.

Ms. Giese stated that Mr. Johnson told her that they were thinking of buying it and wanted to know what they could do.

Mr. Johnson responded that might have been somebody else; because Ms. Giese told him that there were hundreds of people that were calling on this piece of property, but because of special use and certain rights of use, they wouldn’t purchase it.

Mr. Carnego stated that his client denies that he spoke with Ms. Giese. What he got from her was that there was nothing they could do; basically just tear the building down.

Mr. Johnson added that if he were to open up a bait shop, he would be restricted.

Mr. Saelens commented that he does not care if they spoke before or after their purchase, it was purchased as is. They have every right to come before us to ask for a rezoning.

Ms. Frame noted that Mr. Johnson stated that they have purchased several properties. They were not new to the business. That is a chance you take with an auction. It is a risk. She is sure that they are wise enough to know that. That is not new news to someone who is going to make a large purchase of that nature. Also, being told that we are discriminating, right off the bat, is a poor way to handle this whole situation.

Mr. Kohler stated that somehow they had to ask someone what this was zoned.

Mr. Johnson responded that they spoke with Ms. Giese after.

Mr. Stabile stated that we always get rezonings. We handle them as they come up. Whatever the process was they bought this property for has nothing to do with it. They have the right to come and ask us to rezone this piece of property. That is all that is in front of us. It should be up to them to convince us why this piece of property could be used the way they want it. That is all, that is the end of it. It is up to us to decide whether it could be used for that or not, without interfering with the neighborhood.

Ms. Frame commented that at this point they have failed to do so.

Ms. Printz concurred with Mr. Stabile. Our job at this commission is to make sure that this piece of land is used at its highest and best use. It is not our job to do their due diligence. It is not our job to maximize their profit. She asked that they show us why this would be a higher and best use of this parcel in a different zoning, rather than saying that we are discriminating or we permit it in other areas of the township, because that is not what we are looking at. We are looking for the highest and best use for this parcel in this particular area.

Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Mr. Kohler to close the Public Hearing on Rezoning Petition #323 at 8:04 p.m.

All Ayes Motion Carried

Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Mr. Saelens to table Rezoning Petition #323 to our next meeting on September 29, 2009.

All Ayes Motion Carried


A. BARBS BRIDAL PROPOSED NEW WALL SIGN – SGN #2009-26: McKenzie Electric, 9222 26 Mile Road, Casco Twp., MI 48064. Proposed new wall sign located at 48812 Gratiot.

Motion by Ms. Frame, supported by Mr. Saelens to approve SGN #2009-26.

All Ayes Motion Carried

B. LITTLE CAESARS PROPOSED NEW WALL SIGN – SGN #2009-27: Phillips Sign & Lighting, 40920 Executive Drive, Harrison Twp., MI 48045. Proposed new wall sign located at 27639 23 Mile.

Motion by Ms. Frame, supported by Mr. Miller to approve SGN #2009-27 with a note that there needs to be a correction in the application; the application has the correct address, the picture of the sign does not have the correct address. They should both say 27639 23 Mile Rd., not Gratiot.

All Ayes Motion Carried

C. CHESTERFIELD OAKS SUBDIVISION PROPOSED OFF-SITE SIGN – SGN #2009-28: Benson Homes Michigan, L.L.C., P.O. Box 166 Clarkston, MI 48347-0166. Proposed off site development sign to be located on the northwest corner of 23 Mile Road and Nicolette Dr., for the above Subdivision.

Ms. Frame stated that off site signs are not permitted in this zoning designation.

Motion by Ms. Frame, supported by Mr. Saelens to deny SGN #2009-28.

Greg Benson stated that he was told that if he had permission from the land owner that he could have an off site sign there.

Mr. Priest informed him that our practice has always been that when you start a subdivision you are allowed an off site sign in order to get your advertising out; once the subdivision is 50% sold out, that sign has to come down. He understands that Mr. Benson is more than 50% sold out.

Mr. Benson responded that he has purchased 18 vacant lots from the bank. There are probably more than 50% of the homes occupied there; that is correct.

Ms. Frame reiterated being that the subdivision is already 50% full or completed, then there is no off site sign permitted at this time.

Mr. Benson asked if there is anything he can do to appeal that. He is back in behind the carwash on Caroline, and has zero exposure on the main drag, which is 23 Mile Rd.

Mr. Priest asked Mr. Benson how many lots or homes he has there that are not sold.

Mr. Benson responded that there are the 18 lots that he has purchased and 5 others that are still owned by the developer.

Ms. Frame asked what the number of total lots in the subdivision is.

Mr. Benson responded 48.

Ms. Frame clarified that it is more than 50% complete.

Mr. Benson responded yes that is correct.

Mr. Stabile asked if he is trying to sell the lots or trying to sell homes.

Mr. Benson responded that he is trying to sell homes. He has 3 houses that are under construction right now.

Ms. Frame commented that it has been our practice that once the subdivision is more than 50% complete those signs have to be removed.

Ms. Frame again made a motion, this time supported by Mr. Kohler to deny SGN #2009-28 for the reason that the subdivision is more than 50% complete.

Ms. Printz asked if he gets denied here, can he ask the ZBA for a variance.

Ms. Frame responded no. This is where the variances occur now.

Mr. Priest commented that he agrees with what Ms. Frame says, however, he thinks that under the economic conditions that we are facing right now, if we can help someone sell a lot, we should be doing it.

Mr. Stabile asked if there is any timeframe attached to the 50%.

Ms. Frame responded that we used to do 18 months with a $1,500.00 bond, or until you reach 50% of completion.

Mr. Wilson stated that if it is an onsite real estate development sign the ordinance only allows 2 years with one 1 year extension allowed through the Planning Commission, however, this is off site, which is not typically permitted.

Mr. Stabile asked what the size of the sign is.

Mr. Benson responded it is 32 square feet, 4 by 8.

Mr. Priest asked for clarification as to where it would be located.

Mr. Benson responded on the property of the carwash at the corner of Nicolette and 23 Mile Rd.

Mr. Stabile asked where about on that property he is looking at.

Mr. Benson responded that it is near the intersection of the sidewalks on the southeast corner of the property.

Mr. Stabile commented that he does not like that spot because it is already a double drive, which creates somewhat of a problem there.

Mr. Benson stated that he stood there with the engineer and they paced it off and made sure that it would not be in the way of anyone’s vision, but he can move it.

Mr. Priest commented that he believes that at one time they had a sign just west of the carwash on the lot between the sports hut and the carwash. He is not sure if it was for this subdivision or not. That would be better than right on Nicolette.

Mr. Benson asked if he moves it to the other property or turns in another application for it on the other location, would that be acceptable.

Mr. Saelens responded that we are still over the 50% rule, which is a problem because if we approve it for him, then the next guy wants the same thing. We would then set a precedence again.

Mr. Benson asked if the commission would like to put a time limit on it.

Mr. Deeby wondered if we could give him 3 months, but who would enforce it after 3 months.

Ms. Printz responded that the Building Department would have to enforce it.

Vote On The Motion:

Ayes: Ms. Frame, Mr. Saelens, Mr. Kohler, Mr. Stabile, Mr. Deeby, Mr. Miller

Nays: Mr. Priest, Ms. Printz Motion Carried

D. BAYSIDE MALL PROPOSED NEW PYLON SIGN – SGN #2009-29: Sign Fabricators, 43984 Groesbeck, Clinton Twp., MI 48036. Proposed new pylon sign located at 33195 23 Mile.

Ms. Frame stated that this sign is way over what our ordinance allows. The applicant has indicated that they would like to be tabled for up to 6 meetings.

Motion by Ms. Frame, supported by Ms. Printz to table SGN #2009-29 for up to 6 meetings with the deadline being December 15, 2009 so the applicant can try to bring the sign down to the size that meets our ordinance.

All Ayes Motion Carried

E. SANTOSHA YOGA STUDIO PROPOSED NEW WALL SIGN – SGN #2009-30: Sign Fabricators 43984 Groesbeck, Clinton Twp., MI 48036. Proposed new wall sign located at 48724 Gratiot.

Motion by Ms. Frame, supported by Mr. Miller to approve SGN #2009-30 and SGN #2009-31.

Mr. Wilson clarified that there was an error in the review letter. Both of these signs are permitted because of the setbacks. There is no variance necessary.

Vote On the Motion:

All Ayes Motion Carried

F. SORRENTO’S PIZZA PROPOSED NEW WALL SIGN – SGN #2009-31: Sign Fabricators, 43984 Groesbeck, MI 48036. Proposed new wall sign located at 48700 Gratiot in the Kingston Plaza.

See Agenda Item E Above.


Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Mr. Miller to approve the minutes from the August 25, 2009 meeting as sent.

All Ayes Motion Carried


Ms. Frame noted the Michigan Planning Guide Book For Citizens and Local Officials prepared by the Planning and Zoning Center at MSU, which was distributed to each commission member.





Ms. Frame asked for volunteers for the next pre-planning meeting.

Mr. Kohler and Mr. Saelens agreed to attend.

Ms. Frame noted a conversation with Ms. Giese regarding the members picking up their packages rather than having them mailed out.

All members agreed to pick up their packets, with the exception of Mr. Stabile and Ms. Printz, who wish to continue receiving their packets in the mail.



Motion by Mr. Priest, supported by Ms. Frame to adjourn the meeting at 8:10 p.m.

All Ayes Motion Carried

Paula Frame, Secretary

Christine A. Hunyady, Recording Secretary



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