MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2007

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.      ROLL CALL

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

Steele

ABSENT:            Board Members –     None

OTHERS PRESENT:    Daryl Poprave, Deputy Director of Planning; Cheri King, Community Development Specialist and 6 others.

 

2.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

It was moved by Holthof and supported by Higgins to approve the minutes of the March 20, 2007 meeting as corrected.  Motion was unanimously approved.

 

3.   ELECTION OF OFFICERS

 

a.   Election of Chair and Vice Chair

 

It was moved by Green, supported by Steele, to elect Tim Lichtenwald as Chairperson for the 2007-2008 year.  It was moved by Steele, supported by Holthof, to elect Roy Green as Vice Chairperson for the 2007-2008 year.  Motions passed unanimously.

 

4.   PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

a.      No. 07-07 – Georgina Winslow and Scott Leach for an area/dimension variance to allow an attached garage to encroach within the side yard setback at 3901 Woodlawn Street.

 

Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph of the area.  The property is north and east of Saginaw Road, south of Sugnet, in a residential area.  The property is zoned RA-1 and is surrounded on all four sides by RA-1.  The request is to attach a presently unattached one-car garage.  Once the detached accessory structure is attached to the home it must meet the required setbacks for the home. This garage is currently about 2’8” from the north property line.  From the back side of the house, it is only about a foot away from the garage.  They will not be expanding the size of the garage.  They will have a setback of only 2.8 feet, which will require a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

 

Scott Leach, 3901 Woodlawn, The City Building Department told them they could not attach the garage without a variance.  They would like to keep the original look of the home, but they would like to be able to bring in groceries from the garage to the house without going outside.  With the proposed reverse gable roof structure, they will not be shedding rain water off onto the neighboring property.  There would not be any more overhang of the roof than there is now. 

 

Higgins asked Mr. Leach to review the criteria, as he is having trouble getting by some of them.  He asked how this would be burdensome for them to use this property for a permitted purpose.  The petitioner stated it would not be “burdensome”, but it certainly would be much more convenient for them to have the mud-room to kick off their shoes when they come inside in the winter.  They are going to remodel the house and the only rooms that will not change are the kitchen and the living room. 

 

Green asked about the current run-off of storm water.  The petitioner stated that it is currently a flat roof.  The house was built in the 1930’s.  He is not sure where it runs off.  Green then asked the petitioner to address the remainder of the criteria.

 

The petitioner stated the original detached garage was built in 1936 which was prior to the Zoning Ordinance.  The garage was also built prior to zoning setback ordinances.  They are going to put a new roof on the garage whether this variance is passed or not.  The problem and resulting need for the variance has been created by strict compliance with the Zoning Ordinance, not by the applicant, is that since the house and garage were built in 1936, before the current zoning ordinance was in place, there is now a need for this request.

 

Dennis Carey, 3905 Woodlawn, stated he is in favor of this variance.  There have not been any problems with run-off with the existing garage.  The petitioner has addressed this, changing the direction of the truss line, so now Mr. Carey has no problems with this variance. 

 

Sandy Carey, 3905 Woodlawn, stated the Markeys owned that home back in the 1930’s.  When Mrs. Markey was pregnant, they built the house at 3905 Woodlawn.  Both dwellings were built on the same property and this is the reason they are positioned so close together. 

 

            Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  The property is zoned RA-1 – single family residential.

2.                  The construction of the new addition would be within the minimum 8’ side yard setback.

3.                  The new construction is approximately 53 sq. ft. and would connect the house to the existing detached garage.

4.                  The required setback is now 20 feet total, with a minimum of 8’ on one side.

5.                  The property is located north and east of North Saginaw Road.

6.                  There was one letter of opposition, one phone call in support and one household spoke in favor of this variance.

7.                  The current garage has flat roof and the proposed reverse pitch roof will address potential water run-off issues.

8.                  The current garage is 2’8” from the property line, and the current garage is located too close to the house, which means it is currently non-conforming with our current zoning ordinance.

9.                  The house was built in 1936.

10.               The house conforms to the setback requirements.

11.              The same original property owner built both homes, at 3901 and 3905 Woodlawn.

 

            It is moved by Higgins, supported by Steele, to approve Petition No. 07-07 based on the findings of fact to allow an attached garage to encroach within the side yard setback at 3901 Woodlawn Street, provided that the garage roof be pitched so water will not drain onto the adjoining property.

 

            Higgins stated he thinks the property owner can use the property as it is.  There is nothing unique about this property.  He feels the reason for this variance is created by the owner as they want to attach the garage to the house. 

 

            Steel stated that tearing the garage down would be a burden.  He would like the petitioner to be able to have a pitched roof, however.

 

            Holthof stated that the original builders of both homes probably did not consider where the property line was as they built both houses.  However, he feels the petitioner can use the property for a permitted purpose as it sits today.

 

            Green stated that this addition is not critical to the use of the house.  He has no problems with the remaining criteria, but he has a problem with the first criteria.

 

            Lichtenwald stated he is in agreement with Hank, Roy and John on the first criteria.  It is not unnecessarily burdensome to have a detached garage.

           

Voting on the motion:

            Green: Yes

Higgins:  No

Holthof:  No

            Lichtenwald:  No

            Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve the Petition 07-07 was denied 3-2.

 

b.      No. 07-08 – Todd Beebe for multiple area/dimension variances to allow a new home addition, detached shed and 6 ft. privacy fence to encroach within the front yard setbacks at 4205 Chelsea Court.

 

Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph showing the location of the property.  The petitioner wishes to construct an 8’ x 22’ sunroom/mudroom addition behind the existing garage of his single family home.  This petitioner has asked for three separate variances.  This lot is considered by the Zoning Ordinance as a double frontage lot.  One involves a setback for a sunroom, shown on the aerial photograph where a shed is at the present time.  This is a front yard setback encroachment.  There is a little box on the photograph that shows an accessory structure that they would like to locate in their front yard.  The zoning ordinance states you cannot locate an accessory structure in the front yard.  The petitioner is also looking for some relief and would like to erect a 6’ privacy stockade fence in the front yard.  Due to the position of the house, the petitioner is using this side as the rear of their house.  The rear yard goes from the back point of the property line to where one can draw a 10’ line from the property lines.  The petitioner also wants to move an existing shed to the southeast corner of the lot adjacent to the property line.  The front setbacks for this lot are 30’ and 30’.  In the front yard, fences cannot be more than 42” in height and not more than 50% opaque.  The petitioner notes in his application that the existing fence encroaches into the right-of-way of Saginaw Road by 6 feet 6 inches.  Saginaw Road is being converted to a 5-lane road this summer, adding a center turn lane.  Any relief granted tonight would have to be from the property line – not from the fence, because the fence is not currently on the property line.  The ZBA cannot approve the existing fence as it is in the right-of-way and the zoning ordinance does not apply to property in the right-of-way.  The shed was put in improperly without permits.  A condition of this variance needs to be that the permits are obtained for any work done with any variances granted.

 

Todd Beebe, 4205 Chelsea Court, spoke as the petitioner.  A 20 ft. setback passed through a corner of his existing garage.  A 30 ft. setback passes through a portion of this garage as well as a northeast corner of his existing house.  The curb to the house is 67.5 feet.  From the curb to the property line, it is 37.5 feet.  The 15 ft. intrusion in the setback allows a 2 ft. addition to the garage to the setback of 30 feet.  The northeast corner of the house is approximately 25 feet from the property line.  The new addition is going to be 15 feet from the Saginaw property line.   The proposal was for a 15 ft. setback encroachment.  That is for the 8’ x 24’ addition he wishes to add onto the house.  There is also a garage addition of 22’ x 6’ on the north and an 8’ x 24’ sunroom addition on the east side.  This would place the addition 15’ from the property line. 

 

With the current accessory setback of 20 feet from the property line, he would like to move the shed anywhere along the Saginaw Road setback.  There is an apple tree in the rear yard and he does not want to have to move the tree.  The fence, put in the original property owner, is 6.5 feet into the right-of-way.  The current fence is perpendicular to Saginaw Road.  He would also like the new fence to be perpendicular to Saginaw Road.  He would like the 6’ x 22’ addition and the 8’ x 24’ addition to the house and garage, if possible. 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Findings of Fact:

           

1.                  The property is zoned RA-1.

2.                  The property is a double front lot.

3.                  There is a minimum of a 120’ wide right-of-way on the Saginaw Road.

4.                  No correspondence was received either in favor of or in opposition to this request.

5.                  The speed limit on Saginaw Road is 35 mph.

6.                  The northeast corner of the house currently encroaches into the N. Saginaw Road front yard setback.

7.                  The house was built in 1963.

8.                  It is a pie-shaped lot.

9.                  There is no rear yard to this lot.

10.              If there was a rear yard, the shed could be within three feet of the property line.

 

            Findings of Fact for the garage and home additions:

 

1.                  The petitioner is looking to expand his garage with a 6’ x 22’ addition on the north side and an 8’ x 24’ addition on the Saginaw Road side.

2.                  The addition would make the setback 15 feet off the N. Saginaw Road side property line to the addition.

 

            It is moved by Holthof, supported by Higgins, to approve Petition No. 07-08A, based on the findings of fact, for a 22 ft. x 6ft. garage addition and the 24 ft. x 8 ft. sunroom addition with a maximum front yard setback encroachment of 15 feet to the N. Saginaw Rd. property line side.

 

            Holthof stated that strict compliance does render compliance unnecessarily burdensome.  The variance will do substantial justice to the applicant.  It would not hurt any of his neighbors.  It is the minimum variance needed to provide relief.  It does not create any type of a safety issue with vision clearance.  The problem is not self-created as this is a double-fronting lot.  This is an extremely unique piece of property.

 

            Higgins stated he agrees with Holthof with the exception that he would call it a pie-shaped lot.  This creates the uniqueness for him.  Green states that this is a very unique situation.  Due to the placement of the house and the location of the street, this property is very unique.  Steele agrees.

 

            Lichtenwald is in total agreement that this is a unique piece of property and this would do substantial justice.  However, he does not feel that criteria A is met as this property is usable as it is today.  This is also a self created hardship.  There is already a house on it and it is being used as residential property.

 

            Voting on the motion:

Green:  Yes

Higgins:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  No

Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve the Petition 07-08A was approved 4-1.

 

Findings of Fact for the privacy fence:

 

1.       A legal fence would be 12.5 feet off the sidewalk or 6.5 feet off the property line.

2.      North line of the fence would be flush with the north side of the addition.

3.      The current fence encroaches within the N. Saginaw Rd. right of way by 6 feet 6 inches.

4.      The fence is illegally placed.  The city has stated the fence can remain where it is until the city needs the use of the property.

5.      Clear vision is obstructed by the current fence placement.

 

            It is moved by Higgins, supported by Green, to approve Petition No. 07-08B based on the findings of fact for a 6 foot obscuring privacy fence on the N. Saginaw Road side of the property on the property line with the fence continuing to a point where it becomes perpendicular running back to the northeast corner of the addition, plus the four conditions found in the staff report on page 4, but with an amendment to remove the old fence within 30 days.

           

Higgins stated he has a general objection to wood fences on roads in the city.  He has an objection to anything like that in this location.  He made the suggestion during the discussion about greenery along there.  The petitioner could put up greenery along the property line and leave the current fence there, as the city stated he could leave the existing fence there and this would provide for the safety of the children in his wife’s daycare. 

 

Holthof stated that, in this case, there is 120 foot right-of-way, the sidewalk is going to be at least 6 feet away from the fence and there are mature trees all along Saginaw Road in this area.  It would not create any vision obstruction on Chelsea Court so he does not see the problem from a safety or visibility impact of a 6 foot fence in this area. 

 

Steele stated he can understand Higgins’ feeling about wood fences.  However, you are a way away from the street in this location and there are trees on the street side of the fence.  He does not have a problem with this.

 

Green stated that when he looks at the criteria, the tall fence would be to their benefit, but not necessarily for others who live there, even though the fence would be 6 feet off the property line. 

 

Lichtenwald feels similar to Higgins.  He thinks there are some options here that can be utilized rather than going to a 6 foot wooden fence in this location.  This is a self created hardship by the applicant.

 

            Voting on the motion:

Green:  No

Higgins:  No

Holthof:  Yes 

Lichtenwald: No

Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve Petition 07-08B was denied 3 - 2.

 

It is moved by Higgins, supported by Steele, to approve Petition No. 07-08C based on the findings of fact for the placement of an accessory shed 10 feet from the N. Saginaw Road property line and three feet from the side property line,.

 

Higgins stated this is a double fronting pie-shaped lot, the same as stated in the first motion.  Holthof concurred.  Green stated this is a very unique-shaped lot.  Steele and Lichtenwald stated they agreed.

 

Voting on the motion:

Green:  Yes

Higgins:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve  Petition 07-08C was approved 5-0.

 

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

 

            None

 

5.      OLD BUSINESS

 

      None

 

6.   NEW BUSINESS

 

The Planning Commission is looking at some new revisions to the Zoning Ordinance and copies of the sections being looked at were provided to the Zoning Board of Appeals for informational purposes.

 

 

 

 

7.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

  1. 07-02 recorded
  2. 07-04 review of findings of fact
  3. 07-06 review of findings of fact

     

8.   ADJOURNMENT

 

Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 9:14 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Daryl Poprave

Deputy Planning Director