MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2004,
AT 6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,
1. ROLL CALL.
PRESENT: Board Members – Dunn, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, and Sutton
ABSENT: None – One vacancy
OTHERS PRESENT: Mark Ostgarden, City Planner; Cheri Standfest, Community Development Specialist; Jim Branson, City Attorney and nine people in the audience
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
It was moved by Higgins and supported by Lichtenwald to approve the minutes of December 16, 2003. They were unanimously approved with the following corrections:
Petition 03-18. Second paragraph should read, One letter of support was received.
Page 2, Petition 03-22. Findings 4 and 5 should have the word “high” inserted after 6 and 3-1/2.
Page 6, Petition 03-21. Finding # 5 should read the sign is 1236 sf.
PUBLIC HEARINGS AND CONSIDERATION.
a. Petition No. 04-01 – James E. Johnson for a use variance, to allow Kays Logo Worx to conduct business at 3622 North Saginaw Road.
The secretary described the request as a use variance to permit an embroidery and screen printing business in an Office Service 2 zone. He listed the uses which are not permitted in the zone and reviewed the list of permitted uses allowed by the Zoning Ordinance. The request is a use variance requires a 4/5 vote of the Board for approval.
Richard Handlon explained that the property has been vacant for the past 15 years. It is zoned OS and is in the flood plain. This business does not sell retail. They have four employees and operate Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The property is unique. The operation is completely internal and requires no changes to the building or the parking lot. It is not a rezoning request, but a variance for a very small portion of the property. It will not generate as much traffic as the ATM across the street.
Jack Higgins asked if the property had been actively marketed for the past 15 years.
Jim Johnson, owner of the property, stated that the Elks organization is not permitted to advertise space for lease under national regulations. Mr. Johnson purchased the property in October 2003. Mr. Johnson stated that he has had a sign out front since October.
Joe Dunn wanted to know what percentage of the area will be used by this business.
Mr. Handlon stated that the entire 2,000 square feet described here will be used, but the entire building is about 9,300 square feet.
Richard Miller, at 3600 North Saginaw Road, had no objection. He stated that 20% of the office space in Midland is vacant right now.
Richard McCreadie, at 601 South Saginaw Road, is strongly opposed to the use variance. This business is strictly retail sales. They use large ovens as well as strong solvents. The ovens are heated to over 300 degrees. There is all kinds of retail space available.
Robert Carlson, of 3415 Marvo Court, stated he has concerns about the business. He is a professional in the printing business and he thinks that solvents are used in the screen printing business. The property went from RA-01 to OS-2. What will it be next?
No one else spoke in support of or in opposition to the request.
FINDINGS OF FACT:
1. Front of building has been vacant for 15 years.
2. The property is located in flood plain of Sturgeon Creek.
3. The property was purchased by Mr. Johnson in October 2003.
4. Vacant portion was not advertised for rent prior to purchase by
5. The property is zoned OS-2.
6. One individual spoke in opposition, two in support, one verbal inquiry of staff.
7. Land use plan shows area as Office Service.
8. This property is located on North Saginaw Road.
9. There is an office building right next door (east side).
10. Staff reviewed permitted uses allowed in an OS-2 zone.
11. Free standing sign presently exists on the property.
12. Parking exists on east, north and west sides of the building.
It was moved by Jack Higgins, seconded by Hank Holthof to approve the request based on the Findings of Fact.
Jack Higgins began the deliberation explaining that he thought they cannot meet any of the criteria. There was no information to demonstrate that the property could not be put to a reasonable conforming use. There is nothing unique about the property; the use of flammable solvents was cause for concern and not in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.
Sally Sutton concurred with Mr. Higgins review.
Joe Dunn thought there were plenty of uses for which the property could be used for. Hank Holthof commented that there was no information presented to demonstrate why the property cannot be put to a reasonable use.
Vote on the motion:
NAYS: Dunn, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Sutton
The variance was denied.
b. No. 04-02 – First Choice Auto Sales, for an area/dimension variance to display used vehicles in the front yard setbacks at 608 East Ellsworth Street.
The secretary explained that a gas station at the corner of Ellsworth Street and George Street is being planned for a used vehicle sales. The lot is 120’ x 130’ and located in a BB-2 zoning district. The zoning requires the storage of merchandise, used vehicles, to be located 25’ back from the property line. The petitioner desires to place the vehicles 8’ from the property line to utilize the existing asphalt. This will require a 17’ variance.
Mr. Starks provided photographs of the property and the car dealership across the street. The photos depict how the existing car dealer displays vehicles up to the property line.
Hank Holthof inquired if other property in the area was allowed to park up to the property line. The secretary explained that they could. The vehicle sales parking across the street is a grandfathered situation.
Richard Miller stated that this property has been vacant since 1993.
FINDINGS OF FACT:
1. The property is zoned BB-2.
2. Vacant since 1993.
3. One person spoke in support.
4. Corner lot is bounded by Ellsworth Street (130’) and George Street (120’), which is part of an exit ramp.
5. Former use was a gas station that began in 1964.
6. Prior to the gas station, the use was a residential structure.
7. A DEQ report was provided indicating the site is “clean”.
8. Signed purchase agreement cannot proceed without the variance.
9. A car dealership exits across the street to the north.
10. Gas station exists across the street to the north.
11. No parking is permitted on Ellsworth Street or George Street.
12. The south end of the canopy extends into the required setback.
13. The site is landlocked by two streets and McKay Press.
Motion by Sally Sutton and seconded by Jack Higgins to approve a 17’ variance based on findings of fact with the following three conditions:
1. That the grassy area shown on attachment 2 remain as grass or other live materials.
2. The lot itself must be paved.
3. The vehicles cannot extend into the area of the live material.
Sally Sutton feels all four criteria have been met. She commented that someone has found a viable use for the property which is beneficial.
Jack Higgins and Tim Lichtenwald concurred.
Joe Dunn stated that the setback requirements would take about 1/4 of the property and it is a small lot to start with. He though this would be burdensome.
Hank Holthof thought that no parking on the adjacent streets was a factor which affects the property. He commented what business would want to use a property of this size.
Vote on the motion:
YEAS: Dunn, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Sutton
The variance was approved.
4. Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
5. Old/New Business.
The secretary reported on the resignation of Vice Chair Woody Pelton. Sally Ann Sutton nominated Jack Higgins for Vice Chair and it was seconded by Hank Holthof. Motion to close the nominations by Sally Ann Sutton and seconded by Hank Holthof. Unanimously approved.
By voice vote the Board unanimously approved Jack Higgins as Vice Chair.
Sally will write a letter to Woody from the Board and bring it next month for signatures.
Sally Sutton asked why there is no ordinance requiring snow removal from sidewalks. The secretary referred her to the City Attorney’s office.
Mark Ostgarden made a request for a special meeting. A request for a temporary permit by Laphams Flowers has been received. They desire to use the property adjacent to Fast Eddies Car Wash for seasonal sales. Waiting until the next regular meeting will affect their ability to order flowers for this year. The consensus of the Board is that a special meeting will be held on Thursday, March 4, 2004 at 6:30 p.m.
Mark Ostgarden reviewed a communication from Selina Tisdale regarding appointments to Boards and Commissions. Incumbents are asked to get their application in by March 8th if they desire to be reappointed.
Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM