1.      ROLL CALL.


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

ABSENT:     None

OTHERS PRESENT:   Mark Ostgarden, secretary; and 16 people in the audience


The minutes of August 19, 2003, were approved subject to the following corrections:

Petition 03-10:  The minutes for this petition should include Jack Higgins has a family member that attends the church but that interest will not affect his objectivity.

Petition 03-11.  Finding No. 5 should read: “There are many attached garages……”

The second paragraph on page four, third sentence should read “The variance would do justice in that there are many attached garages…..”  



Petition No. 03-12 – Home Depot for an area/dimension variance for an increase in sign area square footage at 1100 Joe Mann Boulevard.


The secretary explained to the Board, it was determined that the Home Depot did not need the sign area variance. 


Petition No. 03-13 – Ramada Inn for a use variance for construction of five (5) – ten unit one and two bedroom apartment buildings at 1815 South Saginaw Road.


The secretary described the request and reviewed the property details.  The petitioner desires to use the property for residential purposes.  The motel would be demolished and new apartment buildings would be constructed. The existing bar and office building would remain. The property is zoned BB-2 and this zoning does not permit the residential use.  The Future Land Use Plan and zoning for the area were reviewed.  The secretary explained the process that will require the Board to approve the site plan for the development if it approves the use variance.


Ramsay Sadek spoke on behalf of the petitioners and described why the property was not useable for commercial purposes.  He explained how the property has been called obsolete by an appraiser, which the visibility of the site from Saginaw Road was not good for retail and that conditions have changed in that this part of the community and use of the property for commercial activity was not feasible.


One letter in opposition was received and read into the record by Susan Weitz during public comments.


Several rental property owners voiced opposition to the Board indicating that additional apartments were not needed in the community.  The speakers challenged the apartment vacancy rate data used by the petitioner.  One adjacent property owner was opposed to the proposal stating that a two story apartment building in her back yard would intrude on her privacy.


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


FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-13


1.      The property is zoned BB-2.

2.      The property has frontage on Colorado Street.

3.      A Taco Bell Restaurant is proposed across the Street.

4.      One letter was presented in opposition of the request.

5.      There were seven people who spoke in opposition.

1.      The petitioner purchased PI’s 13 years ago and the motel property two years ago.

2.      The petitioner stated renovation, rezoning or razing and rebuilding the motel were not feasible.

3.      A conference center and bar exists on the property.

4.      The motel and pool will be demolished.

5.      The motel owners also own the land.

6.       The last major renovation was before 1998, but the exact date was not known.

7.      There is no access to Haley Street for the property.

8.      A retail use was the first option considered by the petitioner, but determined to not be economically feasible.

9.      The motel has 80 guest rooms.

10.  Average daily occupancy is 24 rooms.

11. The property is very irregular in shape.

12. Approximately one- half (1/2) of the property is part of the medium density land use on the Future Land Use Map of the Master Plan.

13. A parking easement on the motel property for 80 cars was granted to PI’s.


A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Sally Sutton to approve the use variance based on the findings of fact, conditioned upon a site plan being submitted and approved as per Section 25 of the Zoning Ordinance and a technical review be provided by the city traffic consultant, the fire and engineering departments and that public notification of the site plan review be provided. 


In the Board’s deliberation, Jack Higgins acknowledged that a motel is not a reasonable use but cited a similar situation on Eastman Avenue where retail uses are not adjacent to the street.  He was not comfortable with the bar mixed with the residential use.  He thought the proposed use would alter the neighborhood character.   The property is unique in one sense and is not self created because of the property shape.


Jack Higgins’ comments reflected the opinion of the Board.  Sally Sutton offered she thought the property could be put to a reasonable use.  She thought the neighborhood character would be affected and also cited traffic safety concerns if apartments are built.  She questioned what was being done for children and pedestrians in terms of play area and safety.  She thought the problem was self created due to the property division that occurred which separated PI’s from the motel property.


Woody Pelton did not think all possibilities for retail uses have been exhausted.  He was persuaded by the property owner who lives behind the site that the neighborhood character would change. 


Tim Lichtenwald thought other options needed to be explored.  He also thought there was uniqueness to the property, but that using the property for residential purposes would have a BIG impact on the neighborhood and the problem was self created based on the property division that occurred.


Hank Holthof had difficulty accepting that other uses were not feasible.  Expanding the bar was not addressed.  He though all the other criteria were met.


Vote on the motion


Yea:  None

Nay:  Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Pelton, Sutton

  4.   Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

   One person expressed concern to the Board that the process being used by the applicant was circumventing the approval process.

  5.   Old/New Business.

The Board determined it will continue its meetings on the Third Tuesday of each month and will continue to begin its meetings at 6:30 p.m.

A brief update on the Zoning Ordinance process was provided.

The secretary explained that the board may want to consider a process to educate the public in that some viewers that may be seeing a Board meeting for the first time when its meetings begin airing live on MGTV in November.  The Secretary suggested that, at the beginning of each meeting, a brief review of the Board’s responsibilities and process should be provided.  The chairman suggested looking into a trailer that goes across the bottom of the screen during its meetings to explain what is happening.  The secretary will look into the education issue and report back.

The secretary reported that Hank Holthof and Sally Sutton will be attending the October Michigan Society of Planning Conference. 


         There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 9:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,




Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM