MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2003,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.   ROLL CALL.

PRESENT:  Board Members – Dunn, Green, Higgins, Holthof and Sutton

 ABSENT:     Lichtenwald and Pelton (each excused).

 OTHERS PRESENT: Mark Ostgarden, secretary; Cheri Standfest, Administrative Assistant and seven people in the audience

Election of Officers.

Jack Higgins nominated and Sally Sutton supported the nomination of Hank Holthof

as Chair for 2003/04.

 

All in support.

 

Sally Sutton nominated and Jack Higgins seconded the nomination of Lee Pelton as

Vice-Chair for 2003/04.

 

All in support.

2.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The minutes of June 17, 2003, were approved subject to the following corrections:

Petition 03-06, page 4.  The motion for this petition was made by Tim Lichtenwald and seconded by Sally Sutton.

3.   PUBLIC HEARINGS AND CONSIDERATION.

 

Petition No. 03-08 – Robert Whiting to approve lot area and lot width variances to divide main existing lot into two parcels at 3408 Jefferson Avenue.

 

The property is a through lot from Jefferson Avenue to Cambridge Street.  It is 290’ x 76’ and located in an RA-1 zoning district.  There is a house on the part of the lot facing Jefferson Avenue.  The lot is legal non-conforming to the current 80’ lot width requirements.

 

The petitioners desire to divide the lot to create a new lot facing Cambridge Street.  The proposed lot line will leave the lot facing Jefferson in compliance with lot area and required rear yard setback requirements.  The new lot facing Cambridge will be 76’ wide and have 9,080 sf where 12,000 sf is required.  The history of the subdivision, which was approved in the 1940’s, identified that past lot width and area variances were south and approved for similar lots.  Descriptions of those instances were provided by the petitioner.  A letter in support of the request was received. 

 

Attorney for the trust, which owns the property, indicated that the lots in the area are considerably smaller than the subject lot, which is impeding the sale with a potential buyer who does not want to maintain the enlarged lot.  The addition would help the neighborhood as another house could be built providing the neighborhood with assurance as to what will be there.

 

Sally Sutton asked how long the lot has been for sale, Mr. Garshaw did not know.

 

Hank Holthof inquired if anyone contacted each property owner to the north about selling enough land to make the new lot conforming.  That had not occurred.  Mr. Garshaw stated the lot to the north is only 56’ wide.  Glenn Hignite spoke on behalf of the trust.  He acknowledged that the lot has not yet been actively marketed.  The lot was owned by the same party since 1979.  A neighbor had expressed interest in purchasing the new lot if the lot was split off.

 

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

 

FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-08

 

1.      The property is zoned RA-1.

2.      The property was platted in the 1940’s.

3.      The existing lot is larger than others in the neighborhood.

4.      One letter in support was received.

5.      There was no opposition to the request.

6.      The existing lot is a “through” lot.

7.      The (new) lot facing Jefferson Avenue will remain a legal nonconforming lot.

8.      Other variances have been granted in the neighborhood.

9.      Property was purchased in 1979.

10. The property owner to the north has not been approached about selling property.

11. The lot to the north is 56’ wide and is also a through lot.

12. There is a potential buyer for the house with the proposed split.

13. The property has not been publicly advertised for sale.

 

Jack Higgins indicated his friendship with Mr. Hignite but stated that he does not think it will affect his decision on the variance.

 

Jack Higgins, Sally Sutton, Joe Dunn and Roy Green each thought the request met all the criteria.  The variance will not do harm to the neighborhood, in fact, it may benefit the neighborhood.

 

Hank Holthof thinks the problem is self-created because they want to divide the lot and he did not think it would do justice to other property in the district.

 

A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Roy Green to approve Petition 03-08.

 

Vote on the motion:

 

YEAS:  Dunn, Higgins, Sutton

   NAYS:  Green, Holthof

             

  The variance was approved.

 

Petition No. 03-09 – Gary Loose for a use variance at 204 W. Union Street to use finished basement area as a rental unit, making the building a three family dwelling in a zone where single family dwellings are permitted.

 

The property is a corner property in an RA-3 zone.  The property is a duplex, which is legal non-conforming.  The owner would like to have a third unit in the basement, which is an expansion of the existing nonconforming use.  The use variance requires a 4/5 vote of the Board.

 

The secretary explained that there are some other three units and one other four unit building within 300’ of subject property.  The neighborhood, up until 1981, had been zoned to permit multiple family dwellings.

 

One opposition to the variance was a parking problem with the existing duplex.

 

Gary Loose said he purchased the property with the impression the property could be used for multi-family dwellings.  He was not aware of the parking problem.  There are seven parking spaces on site.  His desire is to have an apartment for a maintenance person.

 

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

                                                                                                                                       

FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-09

 

  1. The property is zoned RA-3.
  2. The house is currently a duplex and is a legal nonconforming use.
  3. The neighborhood is principally a single-family neighborhood except for the Industrial zoning across the street and one 4-unit apartment building.
  4. One letter in opposition was received.
  5. The proposed additional unit will be in the basement of the house.
  6. Both units in the duplex are rental units.

                                                                   

A motion was made by Sally Sutton and seconded by Joe Dunn to approve Petition 03-09.

 

Sally Sutton, Joe Dunn, Jack Higgins and Roy Green could not support the use variance.  Sally Sutton did not think there was anything unique about the property as the neighborhood is primarily single-family.  She expressed concerns about increased traffic altering the neighborhood and the problem is self created because petitioners desire to expand the use.

 

Joe Dunn thought the property was currently being used in a reasonable manner.  He did have safety concerns about a third dwelling in the basement.

 

Hank Holthof thought all criteria were met.  The dwelling is already a rental unit.  There is a small piece of industrial zoning across the street and a four unit building already in the neighborhood, so the character of the neighborhood would not change.

 

Vote on the motion:

YEAS:  Holthof

NAYS:  Dunn, Green, Higgins, Sutton

 

  The variance was denied.

  4.   Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

   There were no public comments.

  5.   Old/New Business.

         The secretary distributed the public hearing draft of the Zoning Ordinance.  The

         Public hearing is scheduled for September 2nd.

 

   The Board determined that it will provide comments to staff via e-mail by August       11th.  Staff will compile the comments and issue a report of the Board at its

   August 19th meeting.  The Board will then determine how it wants to make its

   Recommendations to the Planning Commission on the redraft.

  6.   ADJOURN.                                 

        There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 8:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

             

 

 

Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM

Secretary

 

 

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