MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2005,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.         ROLL CALL.

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

            ABSENT:    Board Members – Lichtenwald

            OTHERS PRESENT:            Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Cheri

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

 

2.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Sutton to approve the minutes of the June 21, 2005 meeting the motion was unanimously approved.

 

3.         PUBLIC HEARING.

 

(a) Petition No. 05-05 – Amish Reflections for a non-use variance to permit a front yard setback at 503 South Saginaw Road.

 

DKP showed a location map indicating the location of the property on S. Saginaw road between Rodd and Dartmouth.  The property is zoned Regional Commercial.  This is on the fringes of the Circle District.  The aerial photo shows how the property looked back in 2002.  There is a slight indentation of this building, but most of the buildings built in this area are built right on up to the property line. 

 

The property owners are looking to put in an addition on the front of the store.  They want to keep the courtyard as it currently is.  Three Rivers Construction provided a sketch of the proposed addition.   The property is already non-conforming as the current setback is only 13’2”.  South Saginaw Road has been expanded over the past several years as traffic demands have increased on this road.   There were no communications received for this petition.

 

Mr. Keith Wirth, architect for Three Rivers Construction in Midland, is representing the petitioners.  It is their intent to vacate their current space at 704 S. Saginaw Road.  They own this building.  They plan on moving the whole business in this building.  Traffic is proceeding by at 35 mph.  The adjacent property owner’s setbacks are non-existent at the road frontage.  To adhere to compliance of the zoning ordinance would prevent the possible expansion road frontage.  The current owners purchased the building in February, 2005.  The petitioner discussed that this is their fourth design of this addition and it creates a unique identity for the building.  The existing main entrance is setback and hidden by walls of abutting structures reducing the potential customer awareness.  Visibility of the existing pole sign has been reduced by existing landscaping. 

 

 Holthof - asked the petitioner for the dimensions of the portion that is going to be expanded.  Petitioner states that it will be about 18 ft. wide and 13 feet deep.  The vestibule will be about 15 feet wide.

 

Higgins - asked about signage.  The wall sign currently on the building will be removed.  They are currently planning to retain the pole sign.

 

Having no further questions for the petitioner, the Chairman asked if any person present wished to speak in favor of the request. 

 

Richard McCredie stated he is in favor of this petition.  He stated the road has been widened over the past 35 years.  He is very much in favor of this project.

 

No one else spoke either in favor of or in opposition to this petition.

 

Hearing no further comments on this request the Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the Board to enter into findings of fact.

 

Sutton proposed the following findings of fact for Petition 05-05.

 

Findings of Fact:

  1. Property is zoned Regional Commercial.
  2. The property is part of a commercial structure that consists of attached businesses.
  3. The front entrances of adjacent buildings have zero foot setbacks to the south property line.
  4. The building is considered legal nonconforming.
  5. Building was constructed in 1950.  It did not conform to the previous zoning ordinance setbacks.
  6. The proposed addition will not adversely affect pedestrian or vehicular safety.
  7. The speed limit on South Saginaw Road is 35 mph.
  8. The property was purchased in February 2005.
  9. One person spoke in favor of and no one spoke in opposition to this petition.
  1. Lot 36 is owned by Amish Reflections and used as a parking area and Lot 29 is owned by Hungry Howie’s and is used for customer parking.

 

Holthof – asked the petitioner to explain where the 235 sq. ft. addition would be placed on the building. 

 

Mr. Wirth attempted to clarified the request, stating that they are asking for 15 ft. from the sidewalk and 15 ft. wide. 

 

DKP stated that the Board could approve this variance based on the site plan, identified as Attachment #1. 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Siemer, to approve the non-use variance at 503 S. Saginaw based on Findings of Fact and the approved site plan, identified as attachment #1 in the staff report.

 

Higgins - stated he feels they have scaled back this project and this is the minimum variance required to meet their needs. 

 

Siemer - thinks the improvements they are planning will result in improving the entire area.  Sutton and Holthof concur with what has been said.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Green:   Yes

Sutton:   Yes

Siemer:   Yes

Higgins:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

 

The non-use variance request, Petition 05-05, is approved unanimously.

 

 

b)         No. 05-10 – Harry Kokkinakis on behalf of Buffalo Wild Wings for a non-use variance to permit two wall signs in addition to the allowed wall sign at 6728 Eastman Avenue.

 

DKP presented maps, indicating the location of this property.  This will be going into an existing vacant structure, formerly known as Chi Chi’s Mexican Restaurant.  This property is located adjacent to the Midland Mall ring road.  The zoning in this entire area is Regional Commercial.  The building is located at a 45 degree angle to Eastman Avenue, which is unique in this area.  The request is to erect two additional wall signs, in addition to the one already permitted.  The current ordinance only allows one sign.  In addition to the 141 sq. ft. sign over the entrance, the petitioner is requesting signs of 62 sq. ft. and 34 sq. ft respectively.  The petitioner has the right to have a 100 sq. ft. pole sign if he wanted, under the current ordinance.  The logos on the windows of the doors will not count as signs.  No communications were received either in favor of or in opposition to this request.

 

Harry Kokkinakis is one of the owners of Buffalo Wild Wings.  They started working to purchase this building last November 2004.  They do a flex lunch-service.  This allows people to come in and out of the store quickly between 11:00 and 2:00.   This enables them to expedite service during the lunch hour.   The building is set at a 45-degree angle to the street.  They have no rights to ground signage on Eastman Avenue that is owned by the Midland Mall.  The building is almost 500 ft. back from Eastman Avenue.  There are huge willow trees around the pond at the mall which partially block views of the building.  They feel they need the visibility going both north and south on Eastman Avenue.  They have a requirement from their corporate headquarters to have a sign over the main entrance, which will face the Mall.   They are allowed to have a pole mounted sign, but he would prefer not to use that.  The petitioner states that he could decrease the size of the entrance sign to 110 sq. ft. and reduce the total signage from 237 sq. ft. to 184 sq. ft.  Finally, the petitioner stated that while 80% of his customer base will be from Midland there still may be 20% which will only come to his restaurant based on whether or not they see his business.

 

DKP reminds the Board that they cannot set conditions on the variance that are more stringent than the Zoning Ordinance permits.  Because the Zoning Ordinance permits the petitioner to have a pole sign he cannot lose the right to gain more wall signage.

 

The Chairman asked if anyone present wished to speak in favor or opposition to the request.  Hearing none the Chairman closed the public hearing for Petition No. 05-10.  

 

Sutton proposed the following findings of fact for Petition No. 05-10:

 

Findings of Fact:

1.   Property is zoned RC - Regional Commercial.

  1. The property is located on the corner of 2 service drives of the mall area.
  2. The maximum signage area is presently incorporated in one sign, over the main entrance.
  3. The previous business was permitted 3 signs.
  4. There were no communications.
  5. The petitioner stated the building is approximately 500 ft. from Eastman Avenue.
  6. The petitioner has declined the use of a pole sign, which is permitted.
  7. The building sits on the property at a 45-degree angle to Eastman Avenue.
  8. The petitioner has no right to the Midland Mall, ground pole sign on Eastman Avenue.
  9. Petitioner purchased the building in 2005.
  10.  The front entrance of the building will be re-oriented towards the Mall to accommodate the kitchen area (corporate requirements).

 

It was moved by Holthof to grant the 250 sq. ft. of signage, based on the fact that no pole sign is allowed.  Motion failed for lack of support.

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Sutton to allow a maximum of 184 sq. ft. divided among a total of 3 wall signs, based on the findings of fact, as shown in attachments 1 and 2, as modified by the petitioner during the public hearing.

 

Higgins - feels this building is in a very unique position, sitting 500 feet back from Eastman Avenue and being at a 45-degree angle to the street.  He feels this is a minimum variance in order achieve their goals.  He feels this property is unique due to its location to Eastman Avenue.   He feels that strict compliance with the ordinance creates a problem for them.

 

Holthof agrees with Higgins.  He would have however, liked to limit the right to a pole sign.

 

Sutton agrees with Higgins, as do Siemer and Green.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Green:    Yes

Sutton:   Yes

Siemer:    Yes

Higgins:   Yes

Holthof:   No

 

The non-use variance for Petition No. 05-10 is approved by a 4 to 1 vote.

 

c)         Petition No. 05-11 – Ryan Anderson for a non-use variance to allow a fence at 4912 Christie Court

 

DKP explains that this property is located on the northeast corner of Christie Court and Natalie Court.  The property is zoned RA-1.  It is bordered on all sides by single-family residential.  There is some multi-family residential down Natalie Court and some Office Service zoning to the west.  Tonight, they have requested a 6-foot tall privacy fence that has been constructed without a fence permit.  The Zoning Ordinance allows a fence of not more than 3-1/2 feet in height above grade in the side street yard setback.  This is done for safety reasons so vehicles can see over and around them.  The only change in the new ordinance was that a “no fee” fence permit is required to install a fence.  In this case the applicant did not obtain a permit prior to replacing an existing 4’ high chain link fence. 

 

Ryan Anderson of 4912 Christie Ct. - stated he did call the building department and they told him it would be O.K. to change the existing 4’ fence to a privacy fence but he did not tell them that he lived on a corner lot.  Mr. Anderson states the fence does not block the view from the stop sign at the corner nor does it block access to the sidewalk.  There are two letters in support of this petition.  His back yard is narrow, narrower than the lot behind him.  If he were to set it back 20 feet, it would require him to cut down a big tree and would not permit him full use of his back yard.  In addition, he has two big dogs that he wants to keep in his yard.  Mr. Anderson is across the street from commercial property.  He installed this fence himself.

 

No one spoke in favor of or in opposition to this request.  There was one additional letter received from the owners of Richard and Lucille King of 4913 Christie Court, in opposition to the request.

 

The Chairman asked if anyone present wished to speak in support or opposition to the petition.  Hearing none, the Chairman closed the public hearing for Petition 05-11.

 

Sutton proposed the following findings of fact for Petition 05-11:

 


Findings of Fact:

  1.  Property is zoned Residential A-1.
  2.  Property is located on a corner lot of Christie Court and Natalie Court.
  3.  Property was purchased with current zoning established for surrounding areas.
  4.  The side yard of the property faces commercial property on opposite side of Natalie Court but it does not abut.
  5.  Commercial property is screened with a fence less than 6 feet high on Natalie Court.
  6.  Property had a 4’ high chain link fence on the side yard at time of purchase.
  7.  Two letters in support and one letter in opposition from neighbors.
  8.  Across the street is a business partially located within an RA-1 district.
  9.  There is a commercial parking lot in an RA-1 district.
  10.  Under the zoning ordinance, businesses in an RA-1 district are required to have obscuration screening.
  11.  The 6’fence, that was installed, does not extend beyond the rear of the structure.
  12.   Petitioner matched his fence to the neighbor’s fence, in style (but not in setback).

(4909 Natalie Ct.)

 

It was moved by Holthof and supported by Siemer to approve this non-use variance based on the Findings of Fact.

 

Holthof - stated since this is across from a strip mall that extends into an RA-1 district, this variance would do substantial justice to the applicant.  He thinks this is the minimum required to offer them relief.  He feels the property is unique due to the commercial development in this area.  He does not see any safety issues here.

 

Higgins - does not think the business across the street has anything to do with this.  The applicant did not come in with any suggestions that there were alternatives to what he did.  Other neighbors in the area are not before the ZBA for relief.  There are no unique circumstances to this property.  This requirement has existed for many years.

 

Sutton - cannot support any of the criteria.  This property was used for a permitted purpose before he bought it.  It has existed for many years.  She does not feel this petitioner needs a variance.  It is across the street from the commercial.  They could install an electric fence that would keep the pets in.  It is a fairly substantial sized lot on a corner.  Strict compliance would not be unnecessarily burdensome because this property has been used very successfully in the past.

 

Siemer - can support this request due to the fact of the commercial property.  He feels the width of the property is a concern, that the loss of 20 feet of the property would be burdensome.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Green:    No

Sutton:   No

Siemer:    Yes

Higgins:   No

Holthof:  Yes  

 

The non-use variance request for Petition 05-11 was denied by a 3 to 2 vote.

 

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

 

6.  OLD BUSINESS

 

            None

 

7.  NEW BUSINESS

 

Staff announced that the annual Michigan Association of Planning Conference would be held this year on Mackinac Island from September 14th to 17th.  Any members interested in attending should contact the Planning Department.

 

8.         DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

    1. 05-03 approval of findings of fact (Townsend St.)
    2. 05-08 approval of findings of fact (1806 Blakely St.)
    3. Copies of signed and recorded decision sheets from previous meeting.

 

Having no further business, the Chairman adjourns the meeting at 8:58 PM.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Daryl Poprave

City Planner