UNAPPROVED MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 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, Cheri King, and 4 others.

 

2.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

It was moved by Green and supported by Holthof to approve the minutes of the September 18, 2007 meeting as presented.  Motion was unanimously approved.

 

Page 2 – Question, “Higgins asked . . .”  “the minimum variance is 1,000 square foot garage.”  This was stated by the petitioner.  It should be moved up under where Higgins asked the question.  There were many questions asked and few of them were answered.  If the petitioner does not answer, there should be something in the minutes that “the petitioner did not answer” or “the petitioner refused to answer.

 

Page 3, after the Findings of Fact and the motion, the paragraph that starts with “Higgins felt “makes no sense.  It needs to be cleaned up.  Also, the third sentence in this paragraph.  Under the paragraph that begins “Siemer agrees, it should read “The building codes were different than what exists today.”

 

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. 07-13 – Monarch Building Company for an area/dimension variance to allow the construction of an 896 square foot attached garage at 6106 Peachtree Circle.

 

Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  This structure is not yet built.  It is located south of Wackerly, east of Jefferson.  The property is located in the Residential B zoning district.  There are two additional streets that could go in as a result of the platting process.  To the east and south is RA-1.  There are some condominium and apartment uses to the west of this property.  This variance request is to construct an 896 square foot attached garage at 6106 Peachtree Circle.  Section 3.03(B)3 of the Midland Zoning Ordinance states, “ . . . any accessory building whether detached or attached, may not have more than eight hundred (800) square feet of gross floor area”. 

 

David Rapanos, Monarch Building Company, stated this is the standard size garage for this size house in the city.  He thinks that about 90 percent of the last number of houses he built have 3-car garages.   This house is a duplicate of a house he built several years ago.  Considering the size of the home and the cost of the lots, it makes no sense to have only a 2-car garage.  It almost makes the house obsolete from the beginning. 

 

Higgins stated he has no opinion whether 3-car garages are needed in this area of town or not.  He would like to know when Mr. Rapanos expects to build this house.  Mr. Rapanos stated he plans to start construction within the next 30 days.  Higgins stated in order to vote “yes” on this variance request; he must be able to answer “yes” to all of the five criteria.  He had a lot of trouble with “c” and “d”.  Mr. Rapanos stated he could build the houses with two-car garages, however, with all the toys out there today, the house would never sell.  You can go out to Larkin Township and build a comparable house with a 3-car garage so why would someone build it in the city if they cannot have a 3-car garage here?  The sizes of the homes increase as you go further back in the subdivision.  There are covenants on the houses in this area that specify the minimum size of the houses in this area.  The minimum size house in this area is 2400 square feet.  There are no problems with the side yard setbacks even with the 3-car garage.  It is a 120 ft. wide lot, which is unique in the city. 

 

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

 

Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  The structure is not built at the present time.

2.                  The location is Scenic Estates #6, 6106 Peachtree Circle and is zoned RB, that is also bound by property zoned RA-1 and RA-2.

3.                  The request is to construct an 896 sq. ft. attached garage, which will require a variance of 96 sq. ft.

4.                  There is one letter of support and no letters of opposition to this project.

5.                  The majority of the houses in that particular development were built with three car garages.

6.                  The house as proposed will meet the existing zoning setback requirements.

7.                  According to the petitioner, the price of houses in this area is $300,000-$500,000.  As a developer, he is stating the market requires a 3-car garage.

8.                  2400 sq. ft. minimum house size, per private deed restrictions.

 

            It is moved by Steele and supported by Higgins to approve Petition No. 07-13 based on the findings of fact to allow the construction of an 896 square foot attached garage at 6106 Peachtree Circle.

 

            Steele stated he certainly can understand the desire for a 3-car garage.  He is also looking for a house. 

 

Higgins stated he feels the burden is buying a house that the market mandates a larger garage.  Criteria B is a given.  Criteria C – there is no market for a $350,000 house with only a two garage.  This answers criteria D also in that the larger house requires a larger garage.  That size house will not sell if it only has a 2-car garage.  Higgins states this also addresses Criteria E. 

 

            Holthof stated that the uniqueness of this property is the ability to have a 3-car garage.  It will conform to the houses surrounding it – which detracts from the uniqueness.  It makes it conform to the houses surrounding it.  Perhaps this issue should be tabled until the Planning Commission makes a decision whether or not to allow larger garages. 

 

            Green agrees with Higgins.  They have certain criteria that they have to address.  There are some potential problems that could be created by granting this request, but the Board is supposed to look at each case on its own merit. 

 

Lichtenwald is in agreement – it would be nice if the petitioner could wait three or four months but the petitioner would like an answer tonight.  Lichtenwald stated he can support the criteria for this variance request. 

 

Voting on the motion:

            Green: Yes

Higgins:  Yes

Holthof:  No

            Lichtenwald:  Yes

            Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve the Petition 07-13 was approved 4-1.

 

b.      No. 07-14 – Greystone Homes, LLC for an area/dimension variance to allow the construction of a 986 square foot attached garage at 5608 Powder Horn Trail.

 

Mr. Poprave introduced this petition with an aerial photograph showing the location of the subject property.  It is located in Foxfire Subdivision, which is a newly developed subdivision.  It is located at the end of Powder Horn Trail.  This lot is the last one in Foxfire #1.  It is at the end of Trail Ridge, off of Dublin.  These are some of the largest homes in the City of Midland.  It is a pretty secluded area with a marshy pond in the middle of the subdivision.  If approved, this variance will allow the petitioner to construct a 986 sq. ft. attached garage to be built onto this structure.  This lot is RA-1 and it is surrounded by RA-1 development.  This petitioner went through some more research in this area.  They would like to store the lawn mower, the snow blower and the bikes, as well as the three cars in the garage.  Deed restrictions for this subdivision do not allow detached accessory buildings.  The minimum size of houses in this subdivision is 2700 sq. ft. in a single story home.  It is 2800 sq. ft. for a multi-level home.  There is a home in this development that is 5000 sq. ft. 

 

Kelly Wall, owner of Greystone Homes, is the petitioner.  He is representing the homeowners at 5608 Powder Horn Trail.  Mr. Wall showed several photographs of houses in this area that have 3-car garages and even three homes with 4-car garages.  These homes range from 2600 sq. ft. to 5200 sq. ft.  All of these homes have garages from 720 sq. ft. to 1374 sq. ft.  There are private deed restrictions that prevent detached structures on these lots.  These homes are in the $400,000 to $700,000+ in this subdivision.  Four of the homes in this subdivision have garages that exceed the 800 sq. ft. limit.  From the front, you see brick and windows.  You do not see the garage doors.  All the side yard setbacks are met so there are no variances required in order to build the larger garages.  Mr. Wall plans to start digging on Monday for the building of this house.  They are anxious to get concrete poured before the snow flies.

 

Higgins asked what is unique about this house as Mr. Wall stated there are three houses out of seven in this subdivision that have garages that are less than 800 sq. ft.  He sees nothing unique about this lot that mandates it having a 3-car garage.  These three houses were built when the ordinance allowed garages larger than 800 sq. ft. and they were able to accommodate the needs of the owners.  Mr. Wall stated that, in this subdivision, the 986 sq. ft. garage will fit in nicely.  Four out of the seven garages are already larger than the 800 sq. ft. allowable by the ordinance.  This house would be unique by not having a 3-car garage.  Mr. Wall stated that the garage should be scaled to fit the size of the house.  This is a 3200 sq. ft. house and the garage fits in with the design of the house.  It is possible to construct a 3-car garage within the 800 sq. ft. limit, however it is tight.  What is unique about this property is that there are no accessory buildings allowed in this subdivision.  The petitioner stated they cannot modify the size of this garage without substantially modifying the plans for the house.  He stated that an 800 sq. ft. garage on a 5000 sq. ft. home would adversely affect the price of the home.  The stairway into the house is in the garage; however, it is not counted in the square footage of the garage. 

 

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

 

Mr. Poprave read the private deed restrictions for the Foxfire Subdivision that are registered at the Midland County Register of Deeds Office.

 

Findings of Fact:

 

1.                  Private subdivision deed restrictions do not allow detached accessory structures.

2.                  Zoned RA-1.

3.                  Proposed garage is 986 sq ft.

4.                  Located at 5608 Powder Horn Trail.

5.                  Four of the seven existing homes have garages that exceed 800 sq. ft. and three are less than 800 sq. ft. in size.

6.                  The structure is not built at the present time.

7.                  One letter of support and no letters of opposition.

8.                  The proposed house will meet the zoning setbacks requirements.

9.                  The house size will be 3559 sq. ft. in size and there are minimum house sizes required by the subdivision deed restrictions

10.              The attached garages were documented to range from 725 to 1374 sq. ft. in size.

11.              The garages can vary from two to four vehicles in size, according to the private subdivision deed restrictions.

 

            It is moved by Holthof and supported by Steel to approve Petition No. 07-14 based on the findings of fact to allow the construction of a 986 square foot attached garage at 5608 Powder Horn Trail.

 

Holthof stated that the smaller garages may affect the value of the homes.  This will affect the builder and the purchaser in the re-sale value.  In looking at the existing garages, it is difficult to tell which garages are larger than 800 sq. ft.  He has no problem meeting Criteria B.  The home is designed to be larger, not smaller, and the proportion of the garage to the house should be consistent.  The zoning ordinance created the problem of the need for larger garages. 

 

Steele stated he agreed with Holthof.

 

Green stated he has no problem supporting what has been said this evening. 

 

Higgins stated when he walked in here tonight that he was not in favor of either of these petitions.  He is going to have to vote no on this petition because the petitioner has no adequately addressed criteria C or D.  He also thinks that 800 sq. ft. is the minimum necessary to provide substantial relief to the home owner. 

 

Lichtenwald stated that the petition did not meet criteria C and he also feels the floor plan can be modified to meet the requirements of the zoning ordinance.

 

Voting on the motion:

            Green: Yes

Higgins:  No

Holthof:  Yes

            Lichtenwald:  No

            Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve the Petition 07-14 was approved 3-2.

 

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

 

            None

 

5.      OLD BUSINESS

 

None

 

6.   NEW BUSINESS

 

            None

 

7.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

  1. 07-10 recorded
  2. 07-12 review of findings of fact

     

8.   ADJOURNMENT

 

Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 8:00 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Daryl Poprave

Deputy Planning Director