PRESENT:  Board Members – Lichtenwald, Pelton, Sutton, Higgins, Holthof

 ABSENT:     None

 OTHERS PRESENT: Mark Ostgarden, secretary; Cheri Standfest, Community Development Specialist and nine people in the audience


The minutes of July 15, 2003, were approved subject to the following corrections:

Page 2 first paragraph last line should read:  providing the neighborhood with assurance....  Page 4 first paragraph second sentence should read:  He did have safety concerns....



Petition No. 03-10 – Eagle Ridge Church of God for an area/dimension variance for an increase in square footage and height of a church sign at 2808 Waldo Avenue.


Jack Higgins’ son in law is a member of Eagle Ridge Church of God but he said he would be able to vote objectively.


The Eagle Ridge Church of God is a new church in an OS-2 zoning district.  The church has 1000’ of frontage on Waldo Avenue.  The site will have two access points on Waldo Avenue.  The church desires to construct one sign, which will be 10’ tall and 38.5 square feet.  The Sign Ordinance permits one sign to be 12 sf and five feet tall in Office Service zones.  One half of the sign area is the church name and the other half is an LCD reader board.  The secretary explained that the Sign Ordinance exempts church names from sign requirements if the name is an individual sign.  When its combined with other information, its included in sign area. The secretary also explained that the sign could be 32 sf if in a residential area. 


Bob Farney spoke on behalf of the church.  He explained the sign depicted in the diagram may not be the exact sign that is built.  The location chosen is the most appropriate given the church has plans to expand to the south.  He was asked about putting exempt church signs at each entrance and the LCD on the building.  He did not think it would look appropriate to have a sign on the building.  The sign is 10’ tall so the bottom of the LCD can be seen by motorists traveling on Waldo Avenue.  Also he thought that due to the 40 mph speed limit, a taller and larger sign was needed.


David Gray who owns the Express Mart across from the church property spoke in support of the sign.  He thought having an attractive sign was the best solution.


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


FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-10


1.      The property is zoned OS-2.

2.      There is substantial residential development across Waldo Avenue.

3.      One person spoke in support of the request.

4.      There was no discussion with the Planning Commission about signs at the site plan approval.

5.      Landscaping is required on the site.

6.      A new church is being built on the property.

7.      The northeast corner of the property has wetlands.

8.      Attachment 2 of the staff report identifies future church expansion to the south.

9.      The speed limit on Waldo Avenue is 40 mph.

10. The property has 1000 ft of frontage on Waldo Avenue.

11. The church is setback 300’ from the Waldo Avenue right of way.

12. There are two entrances on Waldo Avenue.

13. There are multiple zoning districts on Waldo Avenue.

14. There is an Express Mart convenience store across the street from the property.

15. There are duplex structures in an RA-4 zone on the west side of Waldo Avenue.

16. There is a juvenile detention center in a Community zone located north of the site.

17. The ABC building is located north of the property.

18. The sign will have the church name and an LCD sign.


Because the Board was not sure what the sign will look like there was discussion to postpone a decision until the church can present the sign it desires.  A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Tim Lichtenwald to postpone a decision on the sign until the church provided information on the exact sign.


Vote on the motion


Yea:  Lichtenwald, Sutton

Nay:  Higgins, Holthof, Pelton


The motion to table was denied.


A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Sally Sutton to approve Petition 03-10 with the following conditions:


1.      The sign have a 60/40 height/width proportion.

2.      The total sign area is limited to 32 square feet.

3.      The sign is limited to eight feet in height.

4.      The sign be 50% name and 50% LCD reader board.


Jack Higgins thought it would be unreasonable to have a smaller sign, he thought conformity would be unnecessarily burdensome, the use is unique being a church and the problem is with the Zoning Ordinance.  It is not the fault of the petitioner.


Woody Pelton thought 1000’ feet of frontage was a factor in that no other uses would be built.


Sally Sutton thought it important to have a sign taller than the landscaping, a residential zone allows a larger sign and one sign would be more aesthetically pleasing.


Tim Lichtenwald agreed with what was said.


Hank Holthof thought it important to get the sign higher and the property is a unique piece of Office Service zoning.


Vote on the motion:


YEAS:  Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Pelton, Sutton

NAYS:  None


  The variance was approved.


Petition No. 03-11 – Vincent and Mary Szilagyi for a variance to permit a garage to be six feet from the property line at 5 Lexington Court.


The property is located in a Residential A-1 zoning district.  The petitioners desire to construct an attached two-car garage.  The variance request would place the garage six feet from the side property line where eight feet is required.  The other side yard setback is 15’.  Several letters in support of the variance were received.


The petitioners explained they desire the two-car garage for convenience, safety, neighborhood improvement and resale value reasons.  There was discussion about construction options, which would meet setback requirements.  The petitioners explained that there were limitations such as window locations and the desire to have a wide enough garage for two cars, which limited their options.  It was explained that the new garage would extend three feet further than the existing garage.  The affected neighbor to the east had sent a letter in support.   


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


FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-11


  1. The property is zoned RA-1.
  2. Five letters in support of the variance were received.
  3. The neighbor to the east (the affected side) is in support of the request.
  4. The house was built in 1948 when one-car garages were the standard.
  5. There are many attached two-car garages in the neighborhood.
  6. A variance at 2 Lexington Court had been granted.
  7. The petitioner considered alternatives and found them burdensome.


A motion was made by Sally Sutton and seconded by Woody Pelton to approve Petition 03-11.


Sally Sutton explained the reasons given by the petitioner for the variance are important but not the reasons the Board can use to grant a variance.  She found that meeting the requirements of the ordinance would be burdensome because the petitioners would be giving up part of the house.   The variance would do justice in that there are many attached two-car garages in the neighborhood.  The extra side yard setback on the other side yard makes the property unique and the petitioner explained the house was constructed in 1948 and the City is using an ordinance adopted in 1969.


Tim Lichtenwald thought the house layout contributed to the uniqueness of the property.


Jack Higgins had difficulty with the request.  The petitioner considered attached alternatives but not detached alternatives and there was room on the property for a detached garage.  He did not think the house being built in 1948 was a factor.


Hank Holthof thought all criteria were met except self created.  He thought many properties in older neighborhoods have the same dilemma.  


Vote on the motion:


YEAS:  Lichtenwald, Pelton, Sutton

   NAYS:  Higgins, Holthof


  The variance was approved.

  4.   Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

   There were no public comments.

  5.   Old/New Business.

The Board discussed the compilation of comments submitted by members on the draft Zoning Ordinance.  It determined it should send the comments to the Planning Commission for information.  Staff had reviewed each of the comments and thought there were many good points that were raised.  Staff will forward those comments which were substantive to McKenna.

The secretary reported that the ZBA meetings will be televised live beginning in November.

The October Michigan Society of Planning Conference was discussed. 

The special use permit submitted by AT&T was reviewed.           

  6.   ADJOURN.                                 

        There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,




Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM