MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2005,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.         ROLL CALL.

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

            ABSENT:    Board Members – None

            OTHERS PRESENT:            Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Cheri

Standfest, Community Development Specialist, and six other people in the audience

 

After roll call, the Chair asked the Board to switch agenda items 3 and 7.  It was moved by Sutton and supported by Green to make these changes.  Motion was carried unanimously.

 

2.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Green to approve the minutes of the April 19, 2005 meeting.  Higgins and Sutton proposed changes and corrections to the Minutes that were recorded by staff.  Upon the recording of these changes, the motion was unanimously approved.

 

3.         NEW BUSINESS.

 

The Chairman announced that Roy Green had been recently appoint by City Council as a full board member and that Joe Dunn had resigned his full member status and Council re-appointed him as an alternate board member. 

 

4.         PUBLIC HEARING.

 

(a) Petition No. 05-08 – Jeff Haines for an area/dimension variance to permit the construction of some home additions, which will encroach within his front and rear yard setbacks at 1806 Blakely Street.

 

Staff introduces the petition and summarizes the staff report. 

 

DKP - Blakely Street is identified on the location map.  It is positioned north and east of the Swede/Wheeler intersection.  Blakely Street is a private street.  The lot is a long rectangular shaped lot.  It is bordered by RA-1 zoning on all sides.  They are seeking two variances.  The property was constructed in 1948.  It does not meet the current zoning ordinance, nor the previous zoning ordinance so far as setbacks are concerned.  There are 28 feet from the existing house to the front property line already.  The new proposed front yard addition will come out within a foot of that thus, a two foot front yard setback reduction will be required.  The larger variance comes in the rear of the property because of the way the house is situated on the property.  This variance will required a rear yard setback reduction of 19 feet 4 inches.  They are proposing three small additions on the rear side of the home. 

 

This property is located off a private road which is really narrow.  The road is approximately 10 feet wide.  The depth of the lot is 72-1/2 feet, by 265 feet wide.  Mr. Poprave showed pictures of the front and the rear of the existing home.

 

Jeff Haines – 1806 Blakely Street.  Originally, they were planning to build above the existing house.  They would be removing the existing shed roof, and adding a new structure above that.  The addition would be between 450 and 500 sq. ft. for two bedrooms, a storage room and a bathroom.  The purpose for extending out is that the house is fairly old and they are not certain the original supports would hold the new addition.  They need to add some supports out of the existing footprint of the house.  Also, the back of the house already has the two doors.

 

They purchased the house approximately 6 months ago.  The two additional structures are decks in front of the two doors shown.  The decks will be approximately 8’x 4’ in size and will be covered by small canopies. 

 

The petitioner reviewed his responses to the criteria.  They want the variance for their growing family.  They have two children.  The existing bedrooms are extremely small.  They would like to be able to provide individual bedrooms for each of the children.  The property is 72’ wide.  As you can see from the diagrams provided, that would only leave a 12 foot building envelope for construction of the house.  They would like to be able to add on so they are not confined to that 12 foot envelope.  They would like to be able to build over what is already in place.

 

The petitioner feels there does not seem to be a good reason for the 30’ setback on the property.  There is only one property to the rear of this parcel.  That property is vacant and the current owners plan to leave it vacant.  There is plenty of room for emergency vehicles to get back in there.

 

If they were to expand within the current setbacks, it would be extremely difficult as the buildable area is so small.  It would not improve their property value nor would it enhance the properties around them.    This is an extremely odd lot shape/size.  Either they face a different street or they have more room to build on the lot.

 

The house right now is in good condition.  Previous owners have not added to the original structure in a way that was non-compliant. 

 

The Chairman asked if there was anyone in the audience wishing to speak in favor or opposition to this request.  Hearing none, the Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the Board to enter into findings of fact.  Sutton proposed the following findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

  1. Property is zoned RA-1
  2. Lot is 72-1/2 feet in depth and 262 feet in width
  3. The longer lot line of 262 feet parallels Blakely St.
  4. The lot is land-locked on three sides
  5. Blakely Street is an unpaved private street of 10 foot width.
  6. The original house was built in 1948 and is legal non-conforming at this time.
  7. The house was purchased by the petitioner in October 2004.
  8. The buildable portion of the lot is 12-1/2 feet wide, by 262 feet long rectangle.
  9. The petitioner is requesting the minimal variance to build vertically.
  10. The request is for a 2 foot front yard setback encroachment and a 20 foot rear yard setback encroachment.
  11. The Midland Zoning Ordinance recognizes this as a legal, “lot of record”.

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Holthof to approve the area/dimension variance at 1806 Blakely based on the findings of fact.

 

Higgins feels this is an odd lot as it is only 72 feet deep.  The 30’ rear yard does not make a whole lot of sense.  Based on this, he can answer “yes” to all five criteria. 

 

Holthof agrees with Higgins.  The property owner has gone a minimal amount into the setbacks by going up rather than out. 

 

Sutton also agrees.  She feels the petitioner has made the minimal encroachments into the setbacks.

 

Voting Support of the Motion:

Green:  Yes

Sutton:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Higgins:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

 

The area/dimension variance request (Petition 05-08) is unanimously approved.

 

5.  PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)

 

Amy Brady of 4908 Swede Avenue inquired about a dilapidated property located at 4912 Swede.  She state that she had talked with a Housing Inspector, Randy Kursinsky recently and he had informed her that there was not much the City could do about the problem.  The Chairman stated that the ZBA did not have jurisdiction in this matter and she was directed by staff to leave contact information and her complaint would be followed up on June 22, 2005.

 

 

6.  OLD BUSINESS.

 

a)  Petition No. 05-03 – Janet Ringle-Bartels is seeking a use variance that would permit her to rebuild her residential dwelling located at 301 Townsend in the event that it is damaged or destroyed more than 50% by any means in the D-Downtown District.

 

It was moved by Higgins and seconded by Holthof to remove Petition 05-03 from the table.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

The Chairman stated that since the public hearing phase of this request was conducted on April 19, 2005, the Board would need to enter into findings of fact on this request.

 

Sutton provided the following findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

 

  1. Zoning is D- Downtown District.
  2. Zoning was changed from BB-2 to D- Downtown District on January 1, 2005.
  3. Structure has been a residential use for the past 4 years.
  4. Home was built in 1935.
  5. Home was purchased in 1997 by current owner.
  6. Lot is 80 feet wide by 60 feet deep.
  7. Lot is on a corner bounded by Townsend Street and Ellsworth Street.
  8. The attached letter from the City Attorney, dated May 2, 2005, states that the legal status of the assessed use has no bearing on the zoning of the property.
  9. Per the City Attorney’s letter, this is no longer a legal non-conforming use of the property but rather is a “non-conforming use.

 

It was moved by Sutton and supported by Higgins to approve the use variance request at 301 Townsend based on the findings of fact and based on the letter dated May 2, 2005 from the City Attorney.

 

Higgins - Based on the letter from the City Attorney, none of the criteria can be met.  This house can be used for a permitted purpose in the existing zoning district which would be a commercial use.  There is nothing unique about this property.  The other board members agreed. 

 

Holthof felt perhaps the petitioner did not take the criteria seriously, but there might be circumstances where he would vote yes on this petition.

 

Voting in support of Motion:

Green:  No

Sutton:  No

Lichtenwald:  No

Higgins:  No

Holthof:  No

 

The use variance request (Petition 05-03) is unanimously denied.

 

 

7.         ELECTION OF OFFICERS.   

 

Sutton moved and it was supported by Green to nominate Tim Lichtenwald for Chairman. 

 

Higgins moved to close the nominations and Sutton seconded. 

 

Motion to appoint Lichtenwald Chairman for the 2005-2006 fiscal year passed unanimously.

 

Sutton moved and it was supported by Holthof to nominate Roy Green for Vice-Chairman.  Sutton moved nominations be closed and Green be elected by unanimous vote. 

 

Motion to appoint Green as Vice-Chairman for the 2005-2006 fiscal year passed unanimously.

 

After the appointments were completed the Board thanked Chairman Holthof for his three straight years of service as ZBA Chairman.

 

7.         DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

05-02 and 05-04 – approval of findings of fact.

 

Higgins stated that the motion for Petition 05-04 needed to be amended to include the following statement that the southern setback would be 25 feet.  This was in the April 19, 2005 Meeting Minutes but was not on the decision sheet.  Staff stated that they would add that to the sheet.

 

Having no further business, the Chairman adjourns the meeting at 7:35 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Daryl Poprave

City Planner