MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2005,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

 

1.      ROLL CALL.

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

ABSENT:  Board Members -     None

OTHERS PRESENT:      Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Cheri Standfest, Community

            Development Specialist and 4 others

 

2.      APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

It was moved by Sutton and supported by Higgins to approve the minutes of the September 20, 2005 meeting with corrections.  Motion was unanimously approved.

 

Next, the Chairman explained the public hearing procedures that the ZBA would employ to reach a decision on the following variance.

       

3.       PUBLIC HEARING:

 

a)      No. 05-20 – Jack Gaudard for an area/dimension variance to permit a proposed attached garage addition to encroach within a side yard setback at 3905 Swede Avenue.

 

Mr. Poprave showed a location map of the subject property.  It is on the west side of Swede Avenue.  It is south of Hillgrove, north of Sugnet.  The property is zoned RA-1.  To the north, properties are zoned RA-2, as is a section south of Sugnet, on Swede Avenue.  The aerial photograph shows a ranch style home with a detached garage which conforms to the zoning ordinance regarding setbacks.  The petitioner is asking to be able to encroach upon his side yard setback to construct a garage addition that will be approximately 29’ x 30’.   Because he wants to put the garage addition attached to the house, he requires a 12’ setback from the property line.  The garage is still going to be well behind the house.  The purpose of the garage addition is to store some antique vehicles that the property owner owns.

 

Sutton asked if this lot is legal non-conforming.  Mr. Poprave stated that it is.  This lot is zoned RA-1, but it is only 9,000 sq. ft. in size.  It has 70 ft. of frontage.  This house was built in 1951 and it is in a platted subdivision. 

 

Holthof asked about the maximum size of accessory structures.  The new ordinance says once the garage is attached to the principal structure it becomes a part of the principal structure. 

 

Jack and Dorothy Gaudard of 3905 Swede Avenue stated that they would like to be able to put his vehicles inside the garage.  He has three cars that he would like to put inside.  He thinks it would not be a detriment to the neighborhood. 

 

Higgins asked Mr. Gaudard how strict compliance with the Zoning Ordinance would unreasonably prevent him from using the property for a permitted purpose or would be unnecessarily burdensome.  Mr. Gaudard said it is not burdensome, but it would be nice to be able to have his vehicles inside. 

 

Holthof asked what the circumstances unique to the property are and not generally applicable to the entire area.   The Petitioner stated they have lived there for 50 years.  All the rest of the houses in the area are setting the long-way along the street.  His house sits the long-way on the lot.  He put an addition onto the side of the house in 1974. 

 

Sutton requested the petitioner address the second criteria, how the variance will do substantial justice to the applicant, as well as to other property owners.  Mr. Gaudard stated the neighbor directly to the north has a 6-foot fence.  A letter has been received from a neighbor stating that he is overbuilding his property. 

 

The Chairman asked if anyone present wished to speak in favor or opposition to the request.  No one spoke either in favor of or in opposition to this petition.  Nine letters have been received in favor of this request and one letter was received in opposition to this request.

 

Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  Property is zoned RA-1 – Residential.

2.                  Nine letters were received in support and one letter was received in opposition to this request.

3.                  The house was built in 1951, with an addition in 1974.

4.                  The lot is legal non-conforming in area and in width.

5.                  The existing garage is detached from the primary residence and meets setback requirements for an accessory structure.

6.                  Proposed addition would result in approximately a 75 % side yard setback encroachment.

7.                  Petitioner states that the distance from the front of the garage addition to Swede Avenue is approximately 74 feet.

8.                  If this variance were granted, the garage would be 46 % of the total structure.

9.                  According to the Zoning Ordinance, the lot would meet RA-2 standards for zoning rather than RA-1.

 

It was moved by Holthof and supported by Higgins to approve Petition No. 05-20, for side and rear yard setbacks variances necessary to construct this garage addition, based on the findings of fact.

 

Holthof stated if he considers this as an RA-3 lot, 8’ on one side and 8’ on the other side, we would be looking at 5’ of relief.  That would give the petitioner a garage of 14’ wide.  He does not see how it meets any of the five criteria.  He cannot even find a reason to address the criteria.  He feels it is overbuilding on the lot.

Sutton agrees with Holthof.  The Petitioner is not being prohibited from using his lot for a permitted purpose.  She does not feel there is justice here for the surrounding neighborhood.  It is overbuilding of the lot.  There are no unique circumstances to this lot.  The problem is self-created because the property owner wants to do something that is not allowed by the ordinance.

 

Green asked if by granting this, is the use of the property being changed?  He is in agreement with Holthof and Sutton.  He has a problem with all five of the criteria.

 

Higgins stated he has a problem with only a three foot side yard.  This is not acceptable to the city or to the Zoning Ordinance.  The letters say they do not like seeing the cars sitting in the driveway.  If he had this garage the cars would not be sitting out.  He feels the petitioner has asked for the minimum amount of area.  The petitioner has looked at other options and they are not viable.  There are no unique circumstances to this property.  The problem is not created by the Zoning Ordinance.  The petitioner does not need to have this variance. 

 

Lichtenwald can see how the variance could do justice to the applicant and the neighbors.  However, none of the other criteria are met in this instance.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Green:  No

Sutton:  No

Lichtenwald:  No

Holthof: No

Higgins:  No

 

The variance is denied unanimously.

 

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

 

None

 

5.      OLD BUSINESS

 

Holthof asked when Shirlene’s Restaurant intends to take down their old sign.  The new sign has been up long enough to warrant taking down the old sign.  Mr. Poprave stated he will check on this. 

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

Mr. Poprave stated the Laphams wanted to inform the ZBA they are attempting to purchase property so they would not have to come before the board again.  They have hired an engineer and will be looking at a rezoning of the property.

 

There will be a meeting on November 15th for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. Poprave informed the Board about efforts by the City to implement web casting of Boards and Commissions meetings.  

 

6.                  DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

a)      05-15 approval of findings of fact

b)      05-16 approval of findings of fact

c)      05-17 approval of findings of fact

d)      05-18 approval of findings of fact

e)      Copies of the recorded decision sheets from the previous meeting

 

7.                  ADJOURNMENT.

 

The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:41 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Daryl Poprave

City Planner