MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2005,

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.      ROLL CALL.

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

ABSENT:  Board Members -     None

OTHERS PRESENT:      Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Debbie Marquardt, Technical Secretary; and 8 others.

 

2.      APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Sutton to approve the minutes of the November 15, 2005 meeting as presented.  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:

 

No. 05-21Ieuter Insurance Group for an area/dimension variance to permit multiple replacement signs and the alternation of existing, nonconforming walls signs at 233 East Larkin Street.

 

Mr. Poprave presented petition request.  The property is located in the downtown district on the corner of Rodd and Larkin Streets.  It is currently an insurance company that occupies the building.  South of Ellsworth Street and one block north of Main Street.  This request would permit the occupant to replace multiple signs.  The east side of the building or the Rodd Street side will put another sign.  The west side of the building is the parking lot sign.  Petitioner would like to erect one sign on the south side in addition.  79 square feet would be the total building wall signage, which would exceed the 40 square feet Midland Zoning Ordinance size restrictions.  The signs will be smaller then what they are going to replace.  There are three things for the ZBA to determine, number of signs, 40 square foot rule and nonconformity.  Staff would recommend approval for this request. 

 

Sutton asked about attachment #4 and asked if any communications were received.

 

Higgins asked about the three wall signs.

 

Holthof stated that really there are going to be four signs.  He asked why the staff recommended approval.  It is not unique to downtown. 

 

Mr. Poprave talked about the sign requirements and how the petitioner was located in Business Commercial under the old Ordinance.

 

Sutton stated that the sign above the entrance was large enough to see from the street.

 

Green asked about the “I” logo sign size, which is 3 foot in diameter.

 

Higgins asked about if there were any objections from the downtown area when the new ordinance was being discussed.

 

Two letters were received in support of the petition. 

 

Kurt Ieuter of 233 East Larkin showed the ZBA pictures of the proposed wall signs.  The side signs were to patch up from the previous signs.  Other businesses all have multiple signs.  They are going for smaller square footage, more attractive signs and to cover up a majority of the holes in the brick made as a result of previous signs.  They paid to have the out lawn tore up and weeds replaced to look nice.  They have pride in their building.  They were unaware of the change in signs with the new ordinance.  Nobody in their office was aware of the new 40 square foot sign rules or the new Zoning Ordinance. 

 

No one spoke in favor of or opposition to this request so the Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the Board to enter into findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  The property is zoned D-Downtown.

2.                  The property is a corner lot bounded by Larkin Street to the south and Rodd Street to the east.

3.                  Rodd Street is a one way street in a northerly direction.

4.                  The main building entrance faces Larkin Street and is visible to traffic proceeding east and west as well as south.

5.                  There is no adjacent structure on the west side of the building because it is the parking lot of their building.

6.                  The speed limit on Rodd Street and Larkin Street is 30 mph and 25 mph respectively.

7.                  A 37 square foot wall sign has been installed over the main entrance on the Larkin (south) side.

8.                  Two letters of support have been received.

 

Holthof was questioning the footnote “g” in the Zoning Ordinance and if it is going to be changed.  This building has two street fronts and thus footnote “g” would apply.  Staff agrees with Holthof but stated that footnote “g” will be re-worked as part of the Zoning Ordinance revisions and will no longer apply to wall signs once City Council approves the proposed changes.

 

It is moved by Higgins and supported by Sutton to approve Petition No. 05-21 based on the findings of fact, on the condition that the petitioner could have multiple wall signs with an aggregate of 60 square feet at 233 East Larkin Street.

 

Higgins spoke on the criteria and it is downtown with two streets.  It is burdensome to see the sign from the street.  He feels the criteria have been met. 

 

Sutton spoke that it is very visible going down Rodd or Larkin Streets.

 

Green spoke that the first one was the biggest problem.  A reasonable compromise is very viable.

 

Holthof agrees that the nature of the Zoning Ordinance in footnote “g” applies.  He thinks the 60 square feet is an allowable amount.

 

Lichtenwald agrees.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Higgins:  Yes

Sutton:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

Green:  Yes

 

The motion passes 5-0.  The variance for Petition 05-21 is granted.

 

No. 05-22 – Sprint PCS for an area/dimension variance to permit an additional wall sign at 7229 Eastman Avenue.

 

Mr. Poprave introduces the petition and states that the sign is located on the north side of the same building as petition 05-19 from the previous meeting.  It is located on Eastman Avenue and north of Joe Mann Boulevard.  It is occupied by a new strip center and adjacent to the Midland County Fairgrounds.  It is located within the RC - Regional Commercial District.  The Eastman side (east) wall sign is up.  The north side wall sign is a little over 22 square feet and the petitioner is request that Sprint be permitted to install two wall signs at this location.  Petition 05-19 located on the south side of this requested multiple signs at the November ZBA meeting.  Attachment #2 is a picture of the sign.  Table 8.2 in the Midland Zoning Ordinance states that each individual business in a multiple tenant building is allowed to have one wall sign. 

 

No communications were received prior to this public hearing. 

 

Sutton asked if the same person owns Logan’s Road and the strip mall.  The land is owned by the same company, Commercial Net Lease Realty and the restaurant building is owned by The Logan’s Roadhouse.

 

Tim Schaeffer of A-1 Signs in Auburn Hills, MI stated that Sprint would like a second sign for south bound traffic on Eastman Avenue for egress to the shopping center.  The pole sign that faces Eastman Avenue is roughly 2’ x 2’ and the Sprint sign is roughly 2 ˝ square feet.  At 45 mph, with five lanes on Eastman Avenue, the viewing distance is greatly reduced and it would be hard to read the pole sign so the petitioner feels an additional wall sign is warranted.

 

No one spoke in favor of or opposition to this request so the Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the Board to enter into findings of fact. 

 

Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  The property is zoned RC - Regional Commercial.

2.                  The building is a strip mall, with 7 tenants, with the petitioner on the north side of the building.

3.                  The property is located on the west side of Eastman Avenue and the staff report lists that the building is set back 147 feet from Eastman Avenue.

4.                  The main entrance for all tenants faces Eastman Avenue.

5.                  The speed limit on Eastman is 45 mph.

6.                  Access from Eastman Avenue is at the northeast of the property.

7.                  The front entrance, wall sign is 41 square feet.

8.                  The desired sign on the north side wall and visible to south bound traffic would be 22.58 square feet and the east side wall sign is 41.42 square feet.

9.                  The total signage of both wall signs would be 64 square feet which is the total area allotted by the landlord for this north end tenant.

10.              The customer parking is in front of and behind the building (east and west sides of the property).

11.              There were no communications received.

12.              The entire property is allowed 300 square feet of wall signage by Zoning Ordinance.

13.              This store is allowed 20 square feet on the pylon sign.

 

It is moved by Holthof and supported by Higgins to table Petition No. 05-22 based on the findings of fact.  

 

Holthof reasoned that he would like to see what is finally approved by the city and he doesn’t think the three months will affect the store.  See what the city will decide.

 

Higgins stated that the ZBA approved 05-19 because they have a drive through.

 

Lichtenwald doesn’t agree with what has been said.  It is their job to act now with a petitioner’s request and not to table it. 

 

Green stated that the Zoning Ordinance should permit this.  Higgins is torn on both ways because it is their job to address the issue.

 

Holthof asked whether or not this makes it unique enough and not just because the Zoning Ordinance is being changed.

 


Voting in support of the motion to table:

Higgins:  No

Sutton:  No

Lichtenwald:  No

Holthof:  Yes

Green:  No

 

The motion to table was denied.

 

It is moved by Higgins and supported by Sutton to approve Petition No. 05-22 based on the findings of fact.

 

Higgins doesn’t think he meets item #1 and at this point he doesn’t have a valid reason for approval.  Based on item #4 there is nothing unique about this request.

 

Holthof comments that it doesn’t put a burden on the business.  Not unique in any way and only item #2 has been met.

 

Sutton agrees with Holthof it does not do justice to other property owners.  Item #2 cannot be met.  The business can thrive based on this Ordinance.

 

Green stated that the flow of traffic south bound and north bound is heavy.  The majority of the traffic that is turning off Joe Mann will be able to see the pole sign or the current wall sign.

 

Lichtenwald stated that the variance request would do justice to the petitioner.  He sees a situation and a similar case last month and each case is to be treated separate but this case has the same merits and he believes that the criteria is met.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Higgins  No

Holthof  No

Lichtenwald Yes

Green  No

Sutton  No

 

The motion to approve Petition 05-22 was denied.

 

No. 05-23 – The Logan’s Roadhouse for an area/dimension variance to permit an additional wall sign at 7135 Eastman Avenue.

 

Mr. Poprave presented the petition and it is located on the west side of Eastman Avenue.  It is south of the strip mall and on a separate piece of property and they own the building and have a land lease for the property.  The property is zoned RC.  This would permit the applicant to install a wall sign of 150 square feet and a pylon sign of 100 square feet.  An 81 square foot wall sign currently exists on the north side as well as a 99 sq. ft. pylon sign.  The petitioner is requesting that he be permitted to erect a 50 square foot wall sign on the east side of the building facing Eastman Avenue.  If approved, the two wall signs would equal 131 square feet.  It is located 144 feet off of the east property line (Eastman Avenue).  Arby’s Restaurant is parallel to this business.  A residence is located behind the Logan’s Restaurant but that side will have no sign.

 

Green asked if the northeast access off of Eastman Avenue is the sole access of the site.  Staff stated that this was the sole access point to the site shared by both properties.  The Logan’s Roadhouse pylon sign is on the southeast corner.

 

Chuck from MidWay signs of 3220 Commerce Center Drive in Saginaw, Michigan, stated that when they built this building, because of the unique situation of the property size, they had to turn the building 90 degrees so it wasn’t facing Eastman.  The sign was put over the entrance to identify where to enter the restaurant.

 

Holthof stated that criteria 1 was unclear and to have the Petitioner explain it in further detail.  He thinks the question is turned about.

 

Chuck stated that he did not write the criteria, A-1 Signs wrote it, and thus did not know what they meant by their unclear language but you need to know where the entrance is at. 

 

Holthof asked about the criteria 5 answer and said the restaurant created the problem.  The Restaurant could have put a sign facing Eastman Avenue but instead they chose not to.  This was their choice.

 

The Petitioner stated that the purpose of the wall sign on the front of the building facing Eastman identifies the building.  A pole sign doesn’t do that.  You read a pylon sign from a favorable distance.  National survey studies show that if you are within 75 feet of the building you do not have time to read the pylon sign.

 

Green asked about the national study and what was the operating speed of the vehicles? 

 

The Petitioner stated that it varies on the speed of the road.  On Eastman it is 45 mph.

 

Sutton asked if they thought they could only have one sign.

 

Holthof stated that they chose what side they wanted to put that sign on. 

 

The Petitioner stated that the first wall sign was not as large as it could have been.  The wall sign now is more for identifying the entrance.  They could have switched but to fit the logo they could not.  This is the first, The Logan’s Roadhouse sign he has done in this area.

 

The Chairman asked if there was anyone present who wished to speak in favor or opposition to the request.  Hearing none, the Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the Board to enter into findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

 

  1. The property is zoned Regional Commercial.
  2. The property is located on Eastman Avenue.
  3. Speed limited on Eastman Avenue is 45 mph.
  4. The front entrance of the restaurant faces north and does not face Eastman Avenue.
  5. The proposed wall sign is located on the east side of the building facing Eastman Avenue.
  6. The building is located 144 feet from Eastman Avenue.
  7. The total signage of the existing wall signs on the front entrance (north side) and of the proposed wall sign on the east side will equal 132 square feet, which is less than 150 square feet allowed by the Zoning Ordinance.
  8. The pylon sign is 99 square feet.
  9. There were no communications in support of or in opposition to the request.
  10. The property is narrower on Eastman Avenue side then it is deep and therefore the building was turned to fit on the property.

 

It is moved by Sutton and supported by Green to approve Petition No. 05-23 based on the findings of fact, which would allow two wall signs not exceeding the 150 square feet.

 

Holthof stated that there are several businesses along Eastman Avenue that do not have their entrances facing Eastman Avenue so this is not unique.  It is very identifiable right now as a The Logan’s Roadhouse.

 

Green feels that the current signage in that area does not make that burdensome to the petitioner.

 

Sutton is still thinking of the last request and they could operate with one sign.  In this case this is one business but in this case he still has allowable signage that he can use and she would hope they would not want to use 150 square feet in one sign.  They would rather have two signs so they could identify their property to traffic.  She would rather see two tastefully small signs and prevent accidents trying to find the driveway.  The uniqueness is the shape of the lot which required the building to be changed in orientation.  She thinks it should be the businesses decision if they want two signs within the square feet allowed.  Just based on criteria number 4, the uniqueness of the property supports why she can vote for this request.

 

Higgins debated and they have got to be able to have more than one wall sign.  He agrees with Sutton about the uniqueness and this allows him to look at criteria number 1 and the fact that there is no sign in the front.  You enter in the front and then go way back in from the driveway to the restaurant’s parking area.  He didn’t ask for more than two signs and that is the minimum needed.  Criteria number 5, refers to the Zoning Ordinance and the fact that you can only have one sign and therefore, that criteria is met and he can vote for this.

 

Lichtenwald is also in agreement and the criteria are met. 

 


Voting in support of the motion:

Higgins:  Yes

Sutton:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Holthof:  No

Green:  No

 

The motion passes 3-2.  The variance for Petition 05-23 is granted.

 

No. 05-24 – Joe Vanderkelen on behalf of Snow Machines, Inc. for an area/dimension variance to permit multiple wall signs at 1512 Rockwell Drive.

 

Mr. Poprave presented the petition and it is located on the east side of Rockwell Drive and north of East Patrick Road.  The property is located inside of Bay County and it splits both the City of Midland and Williams Township.  The existing building is located entirely in Williams Township but the driveway is located in the City of Midland.  The property is zoned Regional Commercial.  This business was annexed into the city by the property owner in 1996.  It is odd because it was an existing business.  They would like to erect a 19 ˝ square foot skier logo and 33 sq. ft. mountains. Both are logos of the company.  They would also request that they be permitted to put a SMI logo and another mountain.  This office addition will split jurisdiction lines.  Part of the square footage of the south side mountains will be in Williams Township. Staff does not believe that Williams Township has a sign ordinance.  The petitioner is requesting four wall signs totaling 107 square feet.  The mountains are going to be built right into the sides of the building and the Petitioner wants to get it approved so they can install the proper walls of the building. 

 

Three communications were received prior to the public hearing.  The first from Richard and Susan Mohr on behalf of Harold and Berniece Mohr of 1600 Rockwell Drive asking that the requested variance be denied based on aesthetic reasons.  The second was a telephone call from Bob Cassidy of 1609 Rockwell Drive asking that the request also be denied.  Third, a letter from Betty VanderKelen of 3302 Valley Drive stating that she was in support of the variance request. 

 

Mike Prezzato of 800 Woodside Avenue in Bay City representing Gregory Construction (the Petitioner’s general contractor) stated that there will be a 32’ by 36’ small office addition added to the existing Snow Machines facility.    When designing the building he was trying to get the features and didn’t consider the mountains or skier as signage.  The wall signs will be made out of a layer of foam and then will have color added. These wall signs will not be back lit and are all just a decorative feature of the building. 

 

Jack asked how many square feet of signage is in Bay County.  They shouldn’t get more square footage since they are in two jurisdictions.  Staff stated that the ZBA should not concern itself with what signage is not in the City of Midland.

 

Staff stated that the City of Midland has the building permit to inspect the whole addition.  There has been cooperation between the both Williams Township and the City of Midland on this project.

 

Staff stated that they would be allowed 150 square foot of wall signage.

 

Green asked about lights and the Petitioner stated that at night you could not see the signs. 

 

The Petitioner stated that as far as he knows, there are no ground signs.  There are shoe box type lights shining down on the parking lot.

 

The Chairman asked if anyone present wished to speak in favor of the request.

 

Bill, the General Manager of Snow Machines Inc. located at 1512 North Rockwell Drive, approved the petition as presented.

 

The Chairman then asked if there was anyone present who wished to speak in opposition to the request.  Hearing none the Chairman closed the public hearing and directed the Board to enter into findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  Property is zoned Regional Commercial.

2.                  Property was annexed voluntarily into the city in 1996.

3.                  The proposed addition will be located in Williams Township and in the City of Midland.

4.                  The existing manufacturing building is located in Williams Township.

5.                  The property is located in a rural setting.

6.                  The property is across Rockwell Drive from Residential B zoning.

7.                  The building is located greater than 100 feet from Rockwell Drive.

8.                  The property is located close to a curve on Rockwell Drive.

9.                  The speed limit on Rockwell Drive is 50 mph.

10.              There will be no back lighting or direct lighting of the three designs of wall sign features.

11.              The variance request is for a combined square footage of 107 square feet which is less than the aggregate of 150 square feet allowed by the Zoning Ordinance.

12.              There were three communications received; one letter of support from a city resident, one letter in opposition from a non-city resident and one phone call in opposition from a city resident.

13.              The property is located within by Bay County.

 

It is moved by Sutton and supported by Holthof to approve Petition No. 05-24    based on the findings of fact, to allow multiple wall signs not to exceed 150 square feet so long as the wall signs will not be back lighted. 

 

Holthof stated that the petitioner did a good job addressing the issues except that criteria number 5 was not met.  He believes that one, 150 square foot wall sign would look unbalanced on this small addition. 

 

Green stated that he appreciated that the petitioners were aware of the regulations up front and came to the Board ahead of time before erecting the signs.  He also stated that including the request into their plans is unique.

 

Sutton agrees with everything and can support this request.

 

Lichtenwald and Higgins also agree.

 

Voting in support of the motion:

Higgins:  Yes

Sutton:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

Green:  Yes

 

The motion passes unanimously.  The variance for Petition 05-24 is granted.

 

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

 

None

 

4.      OLD BUSINESS

 

None

 

5.      NEW BUSINESS

 

Sutton asked to use a b c, etc. in future reports to match the ZBA   

application instead of 1 2 3 in the packets. 

 

2005 Zoning Ordinance Update

 

The public hearing was held and talked with the Planning Commission.  There were no comments on the sign revisions.  Training will discuss the changes that took place.  The major change is the site plan review section.  They would lower the square footage of buildings to go before Planning Commission and City Council and a stream line process for smaller buildings.  Another change is if you created a new curb cut and changed the size, they wanted that language reinstated.  If you have an existing or new land adjacent to RA1-RA4, you would have to go through site plan review.  

 


Master Plan Update

 

City Council, in early January, will receive a recommendation for LSL Planning, Inc. to conduct the Master Plan Update, which will start in early February and be done in 2007.  They will be dealing with all the land uses and in addition to that a major traffic component in addition to Eastman Avenue.  They may be contacting the different board members.    DLZ has been conducting a study on the Eastman Avenue traffic. 

 

ZBA Board’s and Commissions Training

 

A training session will take place in late February for Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission and DDA on a Saturday somewhere in Midland.  Staff wants these programs to be beneficial and will be contacting each of Board members individually to have a one on one brief meeting on things to improve on and what is going right and what they want to know more about. 

 

7.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

      There were no corrections to the decision sheet’s findings of fact for

      Petition 05-19.

 

8.   ADJOURNMENT.

 

The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 8:42 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Daryl Poprave

City Planner