MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2003,

AT 6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1. ROLL CALL.

PRESENT: Board Members Dunn, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Pelton and Sutton

ABSENT: Higgins (excused)

OTHERS PRESENT: Mark Ostgarden, secretary and four people in the audience

2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The minutes of March 18, 2003, were approved subject to minor revisions.

3. PUBLIC HEARINGS AND CONSIDERATION.

Petition No. 03-03 Midland County Historical Society for a screening variance to eliminate required parking lot screening along the West Main Street frontage of the parking lot for the new Midland County Historical Museum.

 

The Midland County Historical Society is constructing a new museum on West Main Street. The property is located in a Residential A-1 zoning district. Parking along the easterly side of the building is required to have a 50% obscuration screen that is between 2-1/2 and 3 in height. The secretary explained ditch property across the street is vacant and is located in the flood plain. The Historical Society is requesting a variance from the screening requirement. A letter from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, assured the Board that the property across the street from the museum would not be developed. Photographs of the site depicting the parking along Main Street were shown.

There were no other letters in support or in opposition to the request.

 

Gary Skory, Executive Director of the Midland County Historical Society, addressed the Board. He explained that there is already some vegetation in place. He explained that the subject property and the property across the street are owned by the Dow Foundation and the Historical Society has a long-term lease. The Society plans to keep the existing trees and does not think a berm would look good at this location and feels that any additional blandishing would interfere with the natural setting and hide the boiling. The problem is not self-created in that the building was raised to comply with floodplain construction requirements. He reminded the Board about the Dow Foundation assurance that the property across the street would remain undeveloped.

 

No one else spoke in support of or in opposition to the request.

 

FINDINGS OF FACT:

1.      The property is zoned Residential A-1.

2.      One letter in support.

3.      The property is owned by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

4.      The site was elevated to accommodate flood plain requirements.

5.      The live trees along Main Street will remain.

6.      The property across the street is RA-1, undeveloped and in the floodplain.

7.      Attachment 3 depicts 15 parking spots that will be provided.

8.      Screening was indicated on the site plan.

9.      Property owner stated the property across the street (Main Street) would not be developed.

10. There was no opposition.

 

It was moved by Hank Holthof and seconded by Sally Sutton to approve the request based on the Findings of Fact

 

Hank Holthof began the Board deliberation by stating he thought the variance criteria were met. He felt conformity was too burdensome with respect to a berm. There is a nice natural setting and adding landscaping does not seem appropriate. Property is unique being in the flood plain and the problem is not self create due to flood plain issues.

 

He suggested a condition that screening be required should the property across the street be developed. Sally Sutton agreed to the condition.

 

Sally Sutton did not think adding the screening would be burdensome. She thought it would enhance the property. The property is unique due to the flood plain. She was comfortable with the variance with the condition.

 

Joe Dunn thought the mature trees provide some screening.

 

Tim Lichtenwald and Woody Pelton thought the variance met the criteria and were comfortable with the amendment.

 

Vote on the motion:

YEAS: Dunn, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Pelton, Sutton

NAYS: None

 

The variance was approved.

4. Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

There were no public comments.

5. Old/New Business.

The secretary gave a brief report on the Zoning Ordinance update process. A workshop is planned for May 31, 2003.

Woody Pelton and Joe Dunn will not be able to attend the June meeting.

Sally Sutton reported to the Board on the concern mentioned by one member of the City Council that the Board is granting too many variances. She also reported on the concerns the City Council have that the Board does not listen to the public and does not make eye contact. She said she sent a letter to the City Council asking them that when they hear these issues to inform the staff so they can report to the Board. It was suggested that the Chairman may want to periodically talk with the Mayor and Board members may want to contact City Council members to occasionally request feedback about the board.

6. ADJOURN.

There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM

Secretary

 

 

THESE MINUTES ARE NOT OFFICIAL UNTIL APPROVED BY THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS.