PRESENT:  Board Members – Green, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, and Sutton

ABSENT:    None – One vacancy

OTHERS PRESENT:   Mark Ostgarden, City Planner; Cheri Standfest, Community Development Specialist; and six people in the audience


It was moved by Higgins and supported by Lichtenwald to approve the minutes of the February 17, 2004 meeting and the March 4, 2004 special meeting: the motion was unanimously approved with the following corrections:

February 17th meeting.  In the Approval of Minutes of December 16, 2003, Petition 03-22 should state…Findings 4 and 5 were corrected.

Add Finding 11:  Free standing sign presently exists on the property; and Finding 12:  Parking exists on the east, north and west sides of the building, to petition 04-01 Findings of Fact.

Finding 5 should read, Former use was a gas station that began in 1964, for petition 04-02.  The motion for this Petition 04-02 was seconded by Jack Higgins.

March 4th special meeting.  First paragraph last line in petition 04-03, the word east should be changed to west.

Finding 16 should be added which reads, Signage is to be on the tent.

The motion for Petition 04-03 was seconded by Hank Holthof not Sally Sutton.

Condition #4 should read, “No Parking” signs are to be constructed along the private drive and on (Latavis’) private property.

Condition #9 should be added which reads, Closure of the site is required by July 3rd.

Several times the word “Commissioner” is used which should be changed to Board Member.



1.      No. 04-04 – Carol and Bruce Peck, for a side yard variance to permit the construction of a screened porch at 705 Linwood Drive.

The secretary explained the property was a corner lot in an RA-1 Zoning District.  The lot is a corner lot with the 80’ front yard, for setback purposes, facing Columbia Road.  The front of the house faces Linwood Drive. 

The petitioners have a deck on the interior side yard which is less than 30” above grade which is a permitted encroachment into the side yard setback.  The owners desire to construct a 12’ x 14’ screened porch on the deck which will encroach 5’ into the required setback area.  The house is located 15’ from the side lot line.  The house was builit in 1962 and is located 35’ from the Linwood Drive property line.

One letter was read into the record in support of the request.

The Peck’s had not arrived at the meeting so the Chairman suggested that there be a continuation of the hearing following the other agenda items.  A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Roy Green to continue the hearing after the next two petitons on the agenda.  All members were in support. 

2.      No. 04-05 – Fifth Third Bank, for an area/dimension variance from the maximum allowable wall sign square footage at 321 South Saginaw Road.

The site was decribed as the former Union Hall property.  It is a lot bounded by S. Saginaw Road, Rodd Street and Cambridge Street.  The property is zoned Business B-2.  The secretary explained the details of the site plan and displayed descriptions of the signs proposed on the building.

The building is permitted to have 67 sf signs on the south and north walls and 84 sf signs on the east and west walls.  The petitioner is proposing that each sign be 124 sf for a total of 372 sf.  A Business B-2 zone is allowed to have a pole sign, and the secretary explained that because the lot has frontage on both S. Saginaw Road and Cambridge Street, that pole signs are allowed on each street frontage.  If the bank chose to locate in an Office Service zoning district, it would be permitted one sign of 12 sf.  There is a bank across the street which has signs which conform to the design ordinance requirements.

Roy Green inquired if other banks in the area complied with the sign ordinance requirements.  The secretary explained he did not have the information, but it is his thought that they do.

Melanie Gray represented the petitioner.  She presented several photographs of property along S. Saginaw Road.  The petitioner used photographs to illustrate that the individual letters proposed by their bank and used elsewhere in the area are better looking than a box sign, which is what the bank will need to use if not granted a variance.  She stated that the method which the city uses to calculate sign area was the problem.  The sign layout of the components taken separately are 53 sf. which is within the limits of the ordinance.

Sally Sutton asked if there would be pole signs.  Ms. Gray stated that there would be two pole signs and presented a site plan illustrating the pole sign and its location. 

Jack Higgins asked if it was possible to separate the designs to make two signs.  Ms. Gray stated the designs cannot be reduced to a certain size and comply with the electrical code.  A question of the distance between signs came up.  The petitioner stated she was told the signs have to be 3’ apart to be considered separate signs.

Sally Sutton inquired whether the pole would comply without the Fifth Third Bank logo.  Ms. Gray said it would.

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

Findings of Fact:


1.      Property is zoned BB-2.

2.      Lot has frontage on three streets.

3.      Site is being redeveloped for a bank.

4.      Building is permitted two 67 sq. ft. and one 84 sq. ft sign.

5.      Property is permitted a 150 sq. ft. pole sign on Saginaw Road and on Cambridge Street.

6.      Speed limit on Saginaw Road is 35 mph and the intersection of Saginaw Road and Rodd Street is a controlled intersection.

7.      One letter in opposition was received.

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

9.      Rodd Street is a one way street in an easterly direction.

10. Bank across Rodd Street with similar frontage has signs which meet ordinance requirements.

11. Signs on the wall will be neon and the pole signs will be fluorescent.

12. Site has three driveways.

13. No signs are planned on the easterly side of the building.


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


In the board’s deliberation, Sally Sutton began by stating conformity would not be burdensome as there is plenty of wall sign area available.  The argument about uniqueness is due to the three streets which give the property more exposure.  Most sites only have one street (frontage).  The problem is self created in that the applicant is doing something the ordinance does not allow.


Jack Higgins believes that criteria A and C are not met.  It is not burdensome to put up signs which meet our criteria.


Tim Lichtenwald agreed with the comments made by Ms. Sutton.  Hank Holthof thought the signs looked nice but thought compliance could be achieved.


Roy Green stated the bank next door (across the street) has been successful for years and meets the criteria of the ordinance.

Vote on the motion:

Yea:  None

Nay:  Green, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Sutton

The variance was denied.

3.         No.  04-06 – Gloria Costley, for a rear yard setback variance to permit the construction of a two car garage at 124 Wilson Court.

The property is a double fronting lot on Wilson Court and Jefferson Avenue.  Ms. Costley desired to construct a 24’ x 28’ garage, a portion of which will encroach into the required setback on Jefferson Avenue.  The property is zoned RA-1.  Because the property is double fronting, there are two required 30’ setbacks from the street property lines. The secretary identified that a 24’ x 24’ garage could be constructed and only have a minimal encroachment.

The petitioner’s contractor spoke first.  He stated that Mrs. Costley was provided with incorrect information from the city and, based on that information, started site work.  The existing garage was razed and several large trees have been removed. Ms Costley presented photographs of the garage that was razed, which identified it to be in bad shape.  She did not think that a 24’ x 24 ‘ garage would work as she needs storage space. 

Options were discussed.  She could build the garage and the Zoning Ordinance would allow her another accessory building.  She did not think that woud be aesthetically pleasing. 

Tim Lichtenwald asked about attaching the garage to the house.  That option would be too costly and there would be no access to the house.

No one spoke in support of or in oppostion to the request. 

Findings of Fact:

1.      Zoning is RA-1.

2.      Property is a double fronting lot with frontage on Wilson Court and Jefferson Avenue.

3.      Proposed garage is 26’ x 30’.

4.      Encroachment into the required front and along Jefferson Avenue ranges from 4’ and 11’.

5.      Garage is 6’ from the house.

6.      Two letters in support of the variance.

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

8.      Garage is 7’ from the side lot line.

9.      Lot is irregularly shaped with 39-1/2’ on Wilson Court and 150’ along Jefferson Avenue.

10. Lot does not angle back evenly.

11. Lot access is to the court

12. A 30’ setback along Jefferson Avenue is required as the lot is double fronting.

13. Encroachment is along Jefferson Avenue.

14. Miscommunication occurred between city, owner and builder.

15. Existing garage and three mature trees were removed. 

  16.Set back of 32’ existing at Wilson Court and Jefferson Avenue.

A motion was made by Jack Higgins and seconded by Hank Holthof to approve the petition based on the findings of fact with the condtion that no access be taken from Jefferson Avenue.

Jack Higgins began the Board’s deliberation stating that he thought criteria C and D were met based on the odd shape of the property, as well as the double fronting situation.  He has a problem with criteria A.

Hank Holthof agreed.  He thinks the lot is unique, the variance does justice to the property and there is practical difficulty.  He suggested the garage be reduced to 26’ x 26’ which would reduce the encroachment.

Both Roy Green and Tim Lichtenwald agreed with the positons taken on the request.

Vote on the motion:

Yea:  Green, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Sutton

Nay : None

The variance was approved.

4.    No. 04-04 – Carol and Bruce Peck, for a side yard variance to permit the construction of a screened porch at 705 Linwood Drive.

Jack Higgins stated that the Pecks were friends and they attend the same church, but he did not feel that would have an impact on his decision.

The Pecks had arrived at the meeting and the Board resumed discussion on the petition.

The secretary gave a brief recap of the information presented earlier in the meeting.

Roy Green inquired about the size of the deck.  Mr and Mrs. Peck decided the deck extended along the entire east side of the house.  Mr. Peck had a photograph depicting its location.

The Pecks explained the reason for the request is that the lot is an odd rectangular lot; the house is situated in the back corner of the lot; the open area is on the west side of the house which leaves no open back yard.  The porch will be shielded from view of the neighboring property by a fence and shrubs.

Sally Sutton asked if the deck could be built on the west side of the house and meet setback requirements.  The petitioners stated that would not be practical due to the kitchen layout.  The porch will be right off the kitchen area.


Findings of Fact:


1.   Property is zoned RA-1.

2.   House is located on a corner lot.

3.   Front yard for setback purposes is Columbia Road.  

4.   House was built in 1962 and is setback 35’ from Linwood Drive.

5.   The lot has 80’ of frontage along Columbia Road.

6.   Deck is located in the required interior side yard and is less than 3’ above


7.   A 6’ privacy fence owned by the petitioner is located along the south

       property line.

8.   An evergreen hedge is located along the south property line.

9.   Four letters were received in support of the variance.

10. No one spoke in support of or in opposition of the variance.

11.  Front yard faces Linwood Drive.

12.  Petitioners house is 34 years old.

13.  Wood deck is 15 years old.

14.  House is 15’ from the interior side lot line and 8’ is required.

15.  Porch will encroach 5’ into the required setback.  


A motion was made by Sally Sutton and seconded by Roy Green to approve the petition based on the findings of fact and with the following conditions:


            1.  Existing privacy fence must be maintained along the south property line.

            2.  Replacement fence shall be the height of the existing fence, with finished

                 surface facing out.

            3.  The porch shall remain a screened porch.


Tim Lichtenwald began the Board’s deliberation by stating that all the criteria had been met.  He thought the property was unique due to the location of the house on the lot.


Sally Sutton commented that the privacy fence must be maintained.  She could not support this variance in that she did not think the property was unique.  A wrap around porch is an alternative option. 


Jack Higgins and HanK Holthof agreed with Mr. Lichtenwald.  Roy Green stated he thought the integrity of the ordinance would be maintained with the conditions on the approval.


Vote on the motion:


Yea:  Green, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald

Nay:  Sutton


The variance was approved.


  5.  Public comments before the Zoning Board of Appeals.


  6.  Old/New Business.

The secretary distributed copies of the final Zoning Ordinance draft.  He stated that a joint City Council and Planning Commission has been scheduled for May 20, 2004.             

6.  ADJOURN.                                  

        The meeting adjourned at 9:13 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM