1.      ROLL CALL.


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

ABSENT:     Lichtenwald (excused)

OTHERS PRESENT:   Mark Ostgarden, Secretary; Cheri Standfest, Community Development Specialist and 4 people in the audience


The minutes of September 16, 2003, were approved subject to typographical corrections and the change:

Petition 03-14, Page 2, Last sentence should read, “He was not comfortable with the bar mixing the residential character of the neighborhood.



Petition No. 03-14 – Jason Burley for an area/dimension variance to build a carport in the required side yard at 1111 Eastman Avenue.


The secretary explained that the property is in a RA-3 zoning district.  The neighborhood is residential on the west side of Eastman Avenue.  There is office service, business and high density residential on the east side of Eastman Avenue.


The petitioner desires to construct a carport on the north side of the house.  The carport will extend 5’6” in the required side yard leaving an 18” setback.  The RA-3 zone requires a 7’ side yard setback.  The lot is 54’ wide and 216’ deep.  There is 16’ on the south side of the house to the property line.  Photographs of the site were presented.


One letter in opposition to the request was received.


Jason Burley explained he has looked at other construction options but those would require more work.  He looked at constructing a garage in the rear yard; however, because of the shrubbery on the south side of the house he did not pursue this option.


Mr. Higgins asked why access was not possible on the north side of the house.  Mr. Burley explained that the neighbor’s fence and an 8’ maneuvering lane between the fence and his house prevented this option from being pursued.


Mr. Burley explained that the carport will have a slightly slanted roof for drainage there will be 4” x 4” support posts and three of the four walls would be enclosed. 


The Board inquired about the house design on the rear.  Mr. Burley explained that is the kitchen in the rear and a door to the rear yard.  Mr. Burley was asked to elaborate on why the variance should be granted.  He explained that it would be more attractive and beneficial to the homeowner.


FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-14


1.      The property is zoned RA-3.

2.      The lot is long and narrow.

3.      The carport will face Eastman Avenue which has a 35 mph speed limit.

4.      The property has two curb cuts.

5.      The house was built in 1929 and owned by the petitioner since 1997 or 1998.

6.      The property to the north has a tree and a fence very close to its south property line.

7.      The petitioner stated he felt there was not sufficient room to put a driveway to the rear yard on the north side of the house.

8.      The carport will have walls on three sides, the front will remain open and face Eastman Avenue.

9.      The petitioner does not wish to remove shrubs on the south side of the house.

10. One letter in opposition was received.

11. There are 13’ between the house and the south property line.

12. The petitioner stated there is a door on the rear of the house.

13. The proposed location would leave 18” to the north property line.

14. The proposed location does not appear to create safety problems.


     Jack Higgins does not think there was enough information submitted for him to be         able to make a decision on the case.  He motioned it be tabled until the November         Board meeting and requested information on the following:

  1. A dimensioned drawing identifying exactly where the fence on the neighbor’s property is located and the relationship of the fence to the petitioner’s house.
  2. Two dimensions were missing
  3. The exact location of the tree on the neighbor’s property should be identified
  4. A recommendation from the city traffic engineer about whether there is adequate maneuvering room on the north side of the house. 
  5. Additional details on carport construction.


The motion was seconded by Roy Green.


Vote - Yea:  Green, Higgins

  Nay:  Holthof, Pelton, Sutton


The motion was denied.


A motion was made by Sally Sutton to approve petition 03-14 based on the findings of fact conditioned that the east side of the carport remain open, eaves be provided so that drainage is only on the petitioner’s property and post hole footings be constructed.  The motion was seconded by Jack Higgins.


Ms. Sutton thought the property could be used for a permitted purpose without rendering conformity unnecessarily burdensome.  The shrubbery on the south side can be temporary.  She thought the addition would not be compatible with the neighborhood and too close to the north property line.  She did not think there was anything unique about the property and the problem is self-created.


Mr. Higgins thought the property was unique due to its width.  However, he was not convinced a drive to the rear yard on the north side could not be built.  The petition would do justice to the property owner but not the neighborhood.


Woody Pelton is not convinced other options are not available.  The 18” setback would be difficult to maintain.  The property is not unique in that it is similar to   others in the area.


Roy Green stated there are other options and thought the Board was being asked to approve a garage in the disguise of a carport. 


Hank Holthof agreed that the property is unique and not self created.  However, he too wondered why the shrubs on the south side of the house could not be removed. The approval would not do justice to the neighborhood in that the carport would stick out.


Vote on the motion:


Yea:  None

Nay:  Green, Higgins, Holthof, Pelton, Sutton

  4. Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

There was no public comment before the Board.

Old/New Business.

There was discussion about the Michigan Society of Planning Conference which took place on October 15-18.  Board members Sally Sutton and Hank Holthof attended the conference.

Suggestions and comments heard included:

1.  The public should only be required to state name and community at a public      meeting.

            2.  The importance of the findings of facts and procedures in the decision                           process are important to document that due process was followed.

            3.  A tax id number should be included in the staff report.

4.  Sally Sutton had case handouts which will be made available to other Board        members.

5.  The process to amend minutes was discussed. The secretary will also look           into the city policy regarding amending minutes.

     6.  Petitioners should be given an opportunity to make rebuttals to public                           comment.

7.  At one session the presenter explained how older parts of the community could be considered differently.  The secretary questioned the ability to do this and will look into who was presenting the information.



         There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 8:15 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,




Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM