MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2003,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   ROLL CALL.

PRESENT:  Board Members – Holthof, Lichtenwald, and Sutton

ABSENT:    Higgins and Pelton (each excused)

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

2.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The minutes of May 20, 2003, were approved subject to the following corrections:

Petition 03-03.  Page 1, First paragraph, seventh line, the sentence should read: “…..assured the Board that property across the street from the museum would not be developed”.

Third Paragraph seventh line the word “boiling” should be “building”.

Page 3, last sentence in Old/New Business should read:  “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.

3.       PUBLIC HEARINGS AND CONSIDERATION.

The Vice-Chair explained that petitions 03-05 and 03-07 had been withdrawn.  He also explained to the petitioners of 03-04 and 03-06 that, because there is less than a full Board, that the Board’s procedure is to allow the petitioner to postpone a decision on their appeal until a full Board is present.

The petitioner of 03-04 indicated they want to proceed with a decision.  The petitioners of 03-06 indicated a desire to wait until a full Board was present.

 

Petition No. 03-04 – John and Terri Mendyk for a special approval for a fence to be six feet high in the required side street yard at 1002 Wallen Street.

 

The Mendyks constructed a pool in the rear yard and desire to construct a six foot privacy fence.  The property is a corner lot in an RA-1 zone, which requires a street side yard setback of 20’.  Fences in the required setback area are permitted to be 3-1/2’ and the petitioners desire that the fence be constructed with a setback that would range from 4’ (southwest corner) to 7’ northwest corner) from the property line  The fence would be located 18’ form the southwest corner of the garage.  The Mendyks submitted photographs of a blue plastic tarp they put up to visually illustrate how far the fence would come out from garage corner to the lot line.  Photophraphs of other six foot fences in street side yards were shown.

 

Three letters in support of the appeal were received.

 

Hank Holthof commented that the drawing was out of proportion.  He inquired about the distance the fence is from the pool.  Mr. Mendyk said it was approximately 12’.

 

Sally Sutton informed the petitioner she saw no other six-foot fences in the neighborhood. She observed an open feeling about the neighborhood.  She was concerned about safety and observed mature trees along the south property line.  She inquired about options such as a smaller fence and landscaping which would be more compatible with the neighborhood.

 

Mr. Mendyk thought there were other six-foot fences in the area and referred to the photographs, which identified a six-foot fence on Corrine Street.  He thought there would be visibility on the corner and referred to a photo depicting a vehicle on Lancaster Street visible from the Wallen Street intersection.  A 3-1/2’ fence would not address safety concerns for children climbing the fence. 

 

A vinyl fence is to be installed which is more costly and would look better.  It will be

too cost prohibitive to install shrubs and a fence.

 

Terri Mendyk thought that if the setback was required they would loose too much of the yard area.

 

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

 

FINDING OF FACTS

1.      The Property is zoned RA-1.

2.      The house is located on a corner lot.

3.      Three letters in support were received.

4.      The pool is above ground with white exterior.

5.      There are no 6’ fences visible from the petitioner’s residence.

6.      A row of mature trees is shared by the adjacent property along the rear lot line.

7.      The lot is irregular shaped having a curved street side yard.

8.      The area is a mature residential neighborhood.

9.      The fence will be vinyl.

 

A motion was made by Sally Sutton and seconded by Tim Lichtenwald to approve Petition 03-04.

 

Sally Sutton thought the petitioners had options to construct a fence and comply with the ordinance.  She restated her safety concerns and thought the fence was not in character with the neighborhood.

 

Tim Lichtenwald stated that a photograph shown to the Board clearly depicted the fence would not create a safety hazard for pedestrians or motorists.  He thought all criteria were met.  He concurred he did not see other fences in the area but the vinyl fence would be compatible in the area.  He thought the property was unique because of the street curve and how it affects the lot.

 

Hank Holthof agreed with Mr. Lichtenwald.  He said there was stop sign at the corner of Lancaster and Wallen Street and that neighborhood traffic speeds are 25 mph, therefore, he did not see a safety issue.  He suggested an amendment to the motion which would allow the fence to extend 7’6” from the garage and be setback 6’ from the southeast corner of the lot.

 

This addressed Ms. Sutton’s concerns about safety and impingement on the neighbors.  She could support the amendment and the petition.  Mr. Lichtenwald agreed to the amendment.  The motion on the floor was amended to read:

 

A motion was made by Sally Sutton and seconded by Tim Lichtenwald to approve petition 03-4 conditioned upon the fence extending 7’6” from the garage and being setback six feet from the southwest property corner.

.

Vote on the amended motion:

 

YEAS:  Holthof, Lichtenwald, Sutton

   NAYS:  None

             

  The special approval was approved.

 

Petition No. 03-06 – Richard Miller for a special approval to allow a six foot fence in Residential A-4, which has Business B-2 uses on three sides at 2503-17 Natalie Street.

 

Mr. Miller informed the Board that he has reconsidered postponing a decision and requested the Board to decide his appeal. 

 

The secretary explained property is located at the west end of Natalie Street in a RA-4 zone.  A fence has been constructed around the perimeter of the property as a buffer from surrounding Business B-2 zoning and uses.  The fence exceeds the height limit of six feet by approximately five inches to 17”.  It also exceeds the 3-1/2’ limit by 2-1/2’ in the required front yard in the northwest corner of the lot. 

 

The site had been owned by the petitioner and a land division was approved for four single-family lots.  Mr. Miller has sold the west half of the property to Ron Lowery. 

 

Several photographs of the fence were shown depicting that the fence height ranged from over seven feet to 6’5”.  The secretary indicated that there was a grade change adjacent to the fence, which based on the fence height measurement requirement caused the fence height to exceed seven feet. 

 

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

 

Mr. Miller explained that he has owned the property for forty years.  He reviewed the zoning history and the difficulty he has had in changing the zoning.  He compromised with the current RA-4 zone.

 

He approached the adjacent property owners and none had an interest in constructing a fence.  The fence on the north line of the adjacent property has, according to Mr. Miller, been there forever.  The subject fence will buffer the residential uses planned for the site.  The fence was built to help block noise from the car dealership that is adjacent to the east and to prevent trash from blowing onto the property.  It cost $9,000 to construct the fence.

 

Ron Lowery who purchased the west ˝ of the property provided additional photos depicting why the fence was needed and its relationship to the fences on the property to the west.

 

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

 

FINDING OF FACTS                                       

  1. The property is zoned RA-4.
  2. The property has been owned by the petitioner for forty years.
  3. There have been attempts to rezone the property to business and office.
  4. Rezoning from RA-1 to RA-4 was approved.
  5. Three neighbors declined to install a fence.
  6. The property is adjacent to BB-2 and a RA-1 zone with a court ordered parking requirement.
  7. A car dealership is located to the east, a gas station to the south, a strip center and parking to the west.
  8. The parcel is on a corner.
  9. The fence cost $9,000 and will reduce noise and litter.
  10. Fill is planned to raise the existing grade.
  11. There are existing 6’ and 4’ fences on the adjacent property at the northwest corner of the subject property.
  12. The finished side of the fence faces the surrounding businesses.
  13. There is RA-1 zoning to the north.

                                                                   

A motion was made by Tim Lichtenwald and seconded by Sally Sutton to approve Petition 03-06.

 

Ms. Sutton thought all the criteria for the special approval were met.  There would be no safety problems, the fence will not limit the supply of air and light, and it will enhance the residential use of the property as all three sides are bordered by commercial property.  She did not see any incompatibility sizes as the fence helps everyone in the neighborhood.

 

Tim Lichtenwald agreed with Ms. Sutton.  Hank Holthof added that he thought it would affect the aesthetics of the fence if the northwest corner was cut back to 3-1/2 feet (to comply with the height requirements).

 

The Board commended the petitioner for placing the finished side of the fence toward adjacent properties.

 

Vote on the motion:

YEAS:  Holthof, Lichtenwald, Sutton

   NAYS:  None

             

  The special approval was approved.

 

  4.  Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

   There were no public comments.

     

5.  Election of officers.

         Because three members of the Board were present the election of officers did not take place.  There was discussion about interest in the Chair position.  Sally Sutton stated that she would be serve as chair if nominated.  Hank Holthof also stated that his schedule and time commitments have improved and would be available to serve as chair.

No action was taken and this will be an agenda item for July.

6.   Old/New Business.

The secretary gave a brief report on the Zoning Ordinance update process. 

The secretary explained that a five member Board is available for July.

6.  ADJOURN.                                  

        There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

             

 

 

Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM

Secretary

 

 

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