MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON NOVEMBER 18, 2003,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.      ROLL CALL.

 

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

ABSENT:     Lichtenwald (excused)

OTHERS PRESENT:      Mark Ostgarden, Secretary; Cheri Standfest, Community Development Specialist and 8 people in the audience

Chairman Hank Holthof opened the meeting with a welcome to the television audience viewing the first ever MGTV telecast of a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

2.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The minutes of October 21, 2003 were approved subject to typographical corrections.

 

3.   PUBLIC HEARINGS AND CONSIDERATION.

The secretary stated that Petition No. 03-16, the request of Midland Ford Lincoln Mercury for an area/dimension variance from the maximum allowable sign area at 1303 South Saginaw Road, has been withdrawn.

 

a.             Petition No. 03-15 – Gary and Sharon Tyrrell for an area/dimension variance from the separation requirements between a house and garage at 1502 East Haley Street.

 

The Tyrrell’s desire to construct a 14‘ addition on the rear of their house.  The addition will be 4’ 6” from the detached garage.  The petitioners obtained a building permit to construct the addition with the understanding that a 6’ separation between the house and a detached garage is required.  The plan to comply with the requirement is to notch 18” from the garage should the variance not be granted.  The building code does not prevent the construction closer than 6’; however, there are additional code requirements that need to be followed.  Photographs of several other principal structures and detached garages in the neighborhood were shown which depicted separation less than the required 6’.

 

One letter in support of the variance was received.

 

Jack Higgins inquired why the addition could not have been 18” shorter.  The contractor for the petitioner, Raleigh Kamala, stated that it would have been difficult to re-design the kitchen.

 

Sally Sutton inquired why the problem is not self created.  Mr. Kamala stated that the garage is 20’ x 20’, and removing a portion of the garage would make it unusable as a car could not fit in the garage.

 

Mr. Kamala explained how he went to several other houses in the neighborhood and found that others did not comply with the separation requirement.

 

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

 

FINDING OF FACTS – Petition 03-15

 

1.      The property is zoned RA-3.

2.      There was one letter in support.

3.      A building permit was granted with the understanding that 18” would be “notched” out of the garage.

4.      Compliance with the Building Code is possible with fire wall construction.

5.      The addition is 14’ deep and 40’ wide.

6.      The garage is approximately 20’ x 20’ on an unknown type of foundation.

7.      The lot size is approximately 60’ x 120’.

8.      The separation between the house addition and the garage is 4’ 6” and 6’ is required.

9.      The petitioner presented information about houses in the neighborhood being closer than 6’.

10.  Four out of fifty houses surveyed had less than the required 6’ separation.

11.  The subdivision has over 200 houses.

 

A motion was made by Sally Sutton and seconded by Joe Dunn to approve the petition based on the findings of fact.

 

Jack Higgins stated he had a lot of trouble finding how strict compliance with setbacks would make conformity unnecessarily burdensome.  He thought the criteria could be met in the design of the house addition.

 

Sally Sutton thought the plight of the owner was not unique for the neighborhood. 

 

Joe Dunn thought a 12’ addition would not have been unreasonable.  He noted that the photographs depicted house and garage separation situations that have been there for many years.  He thought options were available for the petitioner.

 

Woody Pelton offered that this is a situation many others have and concurred there is nothing unique about the property.

 

Vote:  Yea -   Holthof

            Nay -  Dunn, Higgins, Pelton, Sutton   

 

The variance was denied.

 

b.  Petition No. 03-17 – Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church for an area/dimension variance to allow completion of a parking lot expansion without the screening requirement at 5507 Jefferson Avenue.

 

The church has recently completed an expansion of its parking lot and the Zoning Ordinance requires that an obscuration screen be provided along Jefferson Avenue which is 2-1/2’ to 3’ tall.  The church is seeking a variance from this requirement.

 

Two letters in opposition to the request were received.

 

Leon Crossman represented the church and stated that the church thought the open look along Jefferson was more appropriate.  There was nothing else like it (for screening) up and down Jefferson Avenue.  He stated that the church thought that screening was an option when it built the addition.  Mr. Crossman further commented that the height of the screen doesn’t block much.  Options for screening were limited due to the proximity of the parking to the sidewalk.  Maintaining screening would be difficult and also it will cost the church more to install the screen.

 

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

 

 

Findings of fact:

1.      The property is zoned Residential A-1.

2.      The parking lot expansion required screening.

3.       There is residential property across Jefferson Avenue.

4.      Two letters in opposition were received.

5.      A variance was granted in October 2001, with the site plan showing screening in compliance with the ordinance.

 

A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Hank Holthof to approve the petition based on the findings of fact.

 

Jack Higgins agreed that there would be additional burden in maintaining live screening.  He did not think that the variance would do justice to the neighborhood, as there is nothing unique about the property and the problem was self created.

 

Hank Holthof thought there were limited options to provide for the screening and it would grow onto the sidewalk.  He thought a fence would be out of place.

 

Woody Pelton stated that any screen would add burden for the property owner.  The only comments received were in opposition which concerned him.  He was not convinced there is anything unique about the property.

 

Sally Sutton had difficulty understanding why the petition met any of the criteria.  She thought aesthetics should be considered.  The church  currently has landscaping on Chapel Lane and she hoped that it would be continued along Jefferson Avenue.

 

Joe Dunn also thought that any barrier requires maintenance.  He did think that adding screening would be out of character as there are no other locations with it along Jefferson Avenue.  He felt that the screen would overgrow onto the sidewalk.

 

The secretary reminded the Board that a 50% screen could be accomplished with a picket fence.

 

Vote on the motion

 

Yea:  Holthof, Dunn

Nay:  Higgins, Pelton, Sutton

 

The variance was denied.

 

  4. Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

There were no public comments before the Board.

Old/New Business.

The secretary passed out minutes and the decision reached by the Board on Petition 03-10 made by the Eagle Ridge Church of God for a sign height and area variance. The Board approved a sign area variance conditioned upon a sign having a 50/50 relationship between an LED sign and the church name.  The secretary received a call from a representative of the church stating it thought the relationship was up to the 50/50 requirement.  The secretary explained to the petitioner that he would discuss the condition with the Board and contact him with the Board’s decision.

The Board reviewed the minutes and it determined that the condition as written was correct.

The Planning Department is conducting an evaluation of information it has made available on the City of Midland website. They are looking for a volunteer to assist in evaluation of the information.  Joe Dunn said he would help.  The secretary will mail him information in the near future.  It is hoped that an evaluation of the information can be completed by the end of the year.

Cheri Standfest made a presentation of the highlights of the information presented at the Advanced Training for Zoning Boards of Appeals session which was held at the recent MSP Conference.

 

  ADJOURN.

     There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at approximately 9:12 p.m.

5.          

6.         Respectfully submitted,

7.                                             

8.                                                                           

9.                     

10.  Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM

11.  Secretary

12.                     

13.                     

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

15.