MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2007

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

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.      ROLL CALL

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

Pnacek

ABSENT:            Board Members     Steele

OTHERS PRESENT:    Daryl Poprave, Deputy Director of Planning; Cheri King, Community Development Specialist and 2 others.

 

2.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Green to approve the minutes of the June 19, 2007 meeting as presented.  Motion was unanimously approved.

 

The Chairman explained the public hearing procedures and how the Board decides if the variance request is approved based on the five ordinance criteria.

 

3.   PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

a.      No. 07-10 – David Keyser of Dow, Howell, Gilmore and Associates on behalf of Thomas Feige, Jr. for an area/dimension variance to allow the construction of a new attached garage with a gross floor area of 913 square feet at 1009 West St. Andrews Road. 

 

Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  It is on the south side of West St. Andrews, west of Noeske Street and south of the Midland Country Club, in a single-family neighborhood.  This property is surrounded on all sides by Residential A-1 property.  Mr. Feige is seeking to obtain a variance to construct an attached 913 sq. ft. garage.  Sec. 3.03(b)3, states that any accessory building, either attached or detached, will not have greater than 800 sq. ft. of floor area.  Due to the size of the addition, the applicant wanted to move forward with the project with the condition that the building permit allows an 800 sq. ft. garage.  A wall may have to be moved if the variance is not granted.  This project does meet all of the setback requirements, so the only thing we are talking about is the size of the garage.

 

Mr. Keyser, of Dow, Howell, Gilmore and Associates, 5321 Cortland, represented the petitioner.  He is asking for a garage that is slightly larger than what the zoning ordinance allows.  This is a higher-end home and it makes sense to have a 3-car garage.  This is a very large lot.  He needs room for a snow-blower, lawn mower and kids bikes.  It also has a very long driveway.  There is an existing small play-house in the rear of the lot.  The petitioner does not want to have to tear this down to build a shed for storage.  The house was built in 1941 and neighbors remember the play house being there almost since the house was built.  Several houses on this street already have three-car garages.  Across the Midland County Club, on Sugnet, is an area that has four-car garages.  These are directly across from the site in question. 

 

Holthof and Lichtenwald asked the petitioner to explain how this is not self-created.  Mr. Feige stated you cannot store a lawn mower or snow blower in a mud room.  If they cannot have the larger garage, they will enlarge the mud room in the house so the look on the exterior is the same.  Mr. Feige stated the house was run down and they are renovating it to look better.  He stated the neighbors are all in favor of their renovations.

 

Mr. Poprave stated the Midland Homebuilder’s Association has filed some zoning text amendments; include the changing of this ordinance to be able to build houses with larger garages.  This will be brought to the Planning Commission for consideration.  The previous zoning ordinance did not have a size limit for attached garages, but did state 800 sq. ft. was the maximum size for a detached garage. 

 

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

 

Hearing no further public comments, the Chairman closed the public hearing and asked the Board for findings of fact on the petition.

 

            Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  The zoning is RA-1.

2.                  There are several 3-car garages in the area.

3.                  This addition is on a large lot that allows adequate room for this addition that meets all of the required setbacks.

4.                  It is the desire of the petitioner to preserve the play house in the rear of the property that has been there since 1940 or 1941.

5.                  There was one telephone call in favor of the request.

6.                  There was one letter received in favor of the request.

7.                  The house was built in 1941 and had a 2-car garage at that time.

 

            It is moved by Holthof supported by Pnacek to approve Petition No. 07-10 based on the findings of fact to allow the construction of a new attached garage with a gross floor area of 913 square feet at 1009 West St. Andrews Road.

 

            Holthof stated it does lend itself to look like a 3-car garage from the exterior.  It is just a matter of moving the one wall.  The thought behind not having such a large garage is to make sure the petitioner does not over-build his lot.   This house already meets all the setbacks.  It is a large enough lot that there is plenty of room for the larger garage.  He stated that strict compliance with the zoning ordinance would be unnecessarily burdensome as he can meet all the setbacks on the property.  The variance is not excessive and it would allow them extra storage space that they wish to have.  If this section of our zoning code did not exist, we would not be here tonight.

 

Pnacek concurs with Holthof.  He feels the 800 sq. ft. minimum needs to be looked at in the zoning ordinance.

 

Green stated that the integrity of the allowable setbacks of the zoning ordinance will be maintained.  This will not cause an encroachment into any of the setback areas.

 

Higgins stated it should be noted that what the petitioner wants to use the property for is of no consequence to the Board.  The only concern the Board has is that it meet the zoning ordinance.  The location of the property is also of no concern to the Board.  Higgins states does agree with Holthof, however, the Board does not consider what goes inside garages as information used in granting a variance.  Also, the Board does not consider where the house is located as a reason to grant a variance. He can meet all of the criteria.

 

            Lichtenwald stated he feels it would do substantial justice to the petitioner and to the neighborhood.  However, the petitioner did submit a plan that he can comply with the zoning ordinance.  He does not feel the criteria A and criteria E are met.  He feels it is self-created and that it is not unnecessarily burdensome, as a plan for an 800 sq. ft. garage was submitted in order to get the building permit.

           

Voting on the motion:

            Green: Yes

Higgins:  No

Holthof:  Yes

            Lichtenwald:  No

            Pnacek:  Yes

 

The motion to approve the Petition 07-10 was approved 3-2.

 

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

 

            None

 

5.      OLD BUSINESS

 

      None

 

6.   NEW BUSINESS

 

a.   The 2008 Meeting Schedule was presented and the Board unanimously approved to continue meeting on the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

 

b.   The 2007 MAP Conference is coming up.  Please let staff know if you would be interested in attending.

 

c.   Zoning revisions/Master Plan update is coming to a close.  We have had it open for public review for 90 days and only received four comments.  The Master Plan public hearing is scheduled for September 11, 2007.

           

7.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

  1. 07-04 recorded
  2. 07-06 recorded
  3. 07-08 review of findings of fact

     

8.   ADJOURNMENT

 

Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:15 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Daryl Poprave

Deputy Planning Director