MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2005,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.         ROLL CALL.

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

            ABSENT:    Board Members - Holthof

            OTHERS PRESENT:            Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Cheri

Standfest, Community Development Specialist, and three people in the audience.

 

2.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Green to approve the minutes of the December 21, 2004 meeting.  The motion was unanimously approved.

 

3.         PUBLIC HEARINGS.

 

(a) Petition No. 05-01 - Mickey Sparks of 1402 Lincoln Street is requesting an area/dimension variance to permit a new front porch addition to encroach within his 25 foot front yard setback.

 

The property is located midway between Arbury and Patrick.  On the zoning map, it is located in the RB district.  It is adjacent to the median strips coming into town, on the south which is in the Community District.  The aerial photo shows the outline of the house and the garage.   You can also see two adjacent properties to the north. 

 

The Secretary showed photos of the applicant’s house, explaining that the petitioner is asking for an area/dimension variance to add a 6’ x 22’ enclosed front porch for his single family dwelling.  In the RB district, lots are allowed to be smaller and have smaller setbacks than in the other residential districts.  Previously, there was a 4’ porch.  The applicant is asking to add another two feet to what already existed. 

 

This application was filed prior to December 31, 2004, so this variance must be considered under the old zoning ordinance.  In this case, the sidewalk is 20 inches inside the right-of-way, so the total setback from the property line will be 11 feet.

 

Dunn – since the old porch has been torn out already, what are his options if this variance is not approved?

 


Poprave – Petitioner wants to enclose the porch.  If the variance is not approved, he can add a stoop that is less than 30 inches in height, but he could not enclose it.  City has received 4 letters of support, one from Tom McCann, one from Rebecca Drury of 1411Lincoln St., one from Dora Reed of 1410 Lincoln St., and one from Jean Coronado, and one telephone call from Jenny Snider of 1408 Lincoln in support.

 

Mickey Sparks – 1402 Lincoln St – He would like to have the porch because he thinks it would make the house look nicer and improve his property.

 

Higgins – Are you going to insulate the porch and heat it?

 

Sparks – No, I’m not going to heat it.  It will have screens and windows, but it will not be heated.

 

Higgins – We have to consider the four review criteria.  Would you explain why it would be unnecessarily burdensome for you to use this property if you do not get the variance for the porch?

 

Sparks – He wants to improve the porch.  If people come up on the porch in bad weather, it will be covered.  There will be steps on the front of the porch.  The existing house is 28’ x 24’. 

 

Green – Before you removed the existing stoop, was it covered?

 

Sparks – No

 

The Vice-Chairman asked if there was anyone in the audience who wanted to speak in support of this variance.

 

Fred Pickering of 1312 Lincoln – states it is nice to be able to sit out on a porch and not get rained on.  We can accommodate 3-4 lounge chairs on our porch.  Mickey has made several improvements to his house, as a lot of neighbors have.  I am using my porch as an example.  It is nice to have.  There is an overhang over the porch so it is covered.  There are no walls, however.  Mr. Pickering is in favor of granting this variance.

 

No one spoke in opposition to this request.

 

Findings of Fact:

05-01 – Area/Dimension Variance

 

1.      The property is zoned Residential RB.

2.      There were 4 letters in support, one phone call, and one who spoke in support at the public hearing.

3.      The house was built in 1932, before the existing zoning ordinance of 1967.

4.      The house had a 4’ x 8’ stoop that was removed several months ago.

5.      The zoning ordinance requires a 25 foot front yard setback.

      6.   The variance request will result in an 11foot front yard setback.

      7.   The petitioner would like to have a 6’ x 22’ enclosed front porch.

8.   The neighboring houses have varying front yard setbacks.

9.   The decreased front yard setback would not create a safety hazard for oncoming traffic.

10. The existing sidewalk is 20 inches inside of the City right-of-way.

11. The variance request is for a 14 foot reduction in the required front yard setback.

 

It was moved by Higgins and seconded by Sutton to approve the area/dimension petition 05-01 based on findings of fact.

 

Sutton - She has no problem granting this variance.  Criteria D – this is not self created.  This property was platted and developed way before we had our existing codes.  Criteria C – The plight of the owner is due to unique circumstances – It is because of the reasons stated for Criteria D.  The variance would do substantial justice to the applicant, as well as to other property owners in the district.  Petitioner has a small house.  This addition will add needed living space for his family.

 

Higgins - Really wants to grant this variance but he is having a hard time with the criteria.  Petitioner has a problem with ice and water on the stoop, and then he is going to turn around and put uncovered steps up to the new porch.  The house is already too close to the property line and he is adding something that will be even closer.  It is his choice to add the porch, therefore, it is self-created. 

 

Dunn – Feels the problem is not self created.  When this house was built, the criteria were much different than they are today.  It is a small house and the city streets are wider today.  He believes this will do substantial justice as the house is so small.  He sees a lot of houses like this on Jefferson, with the enclosed front porches, and they do look nice.  Because of the size of the house, he can see where someone would want to have a little bit more space.  He can support all four criteria.

 

Green – With the house two houses away, he feels the open porch is better than the enclosed porch.  It is obviously an old property that the owner wants to upgrade and there is limited space to do this.  There is little space to upgrade at this location.  He would support an open porch, but not the enclosed porch.

 

Lichtenwald – Agrees with Sally & Joe.  He feels strict compliance would be burdensome.  He also feels the variance would do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the area.

 


Vote in support of the motion:

 

Green:   No

Sutton:  Yes

Dunn:   Yes

Higgins:  No

Lichtenwald:   Yes.

 

Motion is approved 3-2.

 

4.         PUBLIC COMMENTS.

 

None

 

5.        OLD BUSINESS.

 

Board training has been rescheduled for March 12, 2005, at Ashman Court Hotel.  It will start at 9:00 a.m.  The ZBA portion will go until 3:00 p.m.  There will be 3 sessions in the morning.  One session will be on active listening, one will be someone from MCTV, and the third will be given by the City Attorney, regarding the gray areas of ethics.  After lunch, we will be in a board room.  Daryl will be leading that discussion, along with Jim Branson.  They will try to answer questions the Board has on the new zoning ordinance. 

 

6.         NEW BUSINESS.   

 

We anticipate we will have a case for the ZBA meeting in February.  This will be under the new ordinance.  There are now five criteria for area/dimension variances.  

 

7.         DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

a)      04-19a – approval of findings of fact.

The variances are at 516 Gerald Court – not 715 Gerald Court.

           

b)      04-19b – Higgins has a problem with

Item 11 on 04-19(b) should be a condition, not a finding of fact.

 

Staff will make the necessary changes to these findings of fact.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Daryl Poprave

City Planner