MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

WHICH TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11, 2008

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 3 others.

 

2.   APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

It was moved by Higgins and supported by Holthof to approve the minutes of the May 20, 2008 meeting as presented.  Motion was unanimously approved.

 

3.   ELECTION OF OFFICERS

 

a.       Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman for FY 2008-2009.

Mr. Higgins nominated Roy Green for Chairman.  Mr. Steele seconded the motion.

Motion passed unanimously.

 

Mr. Steele nominated Jack Higgins for Vice Chairman.  Mr. Holthof seconded the motion.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

4.   PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

The Chairman explained the public hearing procedures and how the Board decides if the variance request is approved based on the five ordinance criteria.  Mr. Lichtenwald reinforced that the variance goes with the property and not with the property owner.

 

a.      No. 08-06 – Wendy Sines for an area/dimension variance for an interior side yard setback reduction for a garage addition at 1421 Jay Street. 

 

Mr. Poprave showed an aerial photograph of the subject property.  It is located on Jay Street, in the southeast side of the city.  It is located in an area of RA-3 zoning, which has smaller lot sizes associated with it than in RA-1.  If approved, this variance will allow Wendy Sines to construct a small carport at her property on Jay Street.  Section 14.03 of the Zoning Ordinance states that the minimum side yard setback in RA-3 is 7 feet with a total of 16 feet.  The existing home encroaches into the west side yard by one foot and it is considered a non-conforming structure.  The variance is for the east side of the property.  The minimum width of lots in this zoning district is 60 feet.  This lot is 60 feet wide.  Because the petitioner wishes to encroach one foot into the required side yard setback, they need a variance for the one foot side yard setback, but also a variance from the total combined side yard setback of 16 feet.  Mr. Poprave showed some photographs of the subject property.  Looking at a subdivision map, it looks like this is the narrowest lot in the subdivision.  This could provide some uniqueness to this lot. 

 

The lot to the east of this lot is also 60 feet wide and there are a few other lots that are only 60 feet wide.  The house next door is also only six feet from the property line. 

 

Jack Doty, the builder for the project, representing Wendy Sines, from the Gladwin area, spoke on behalf of the petitioner.  Mr. Holthof requested Mr. Doty to review the criteria.  The petitioner stated the six feet from the property line at Ms. Sine’s house and the six feet from the property line to the house next door would place 12 feet between the two houses.  They need that width in order to get a garage door to fit and to get a vehicle into the garage.  They need the 14-foot width just to get a one-car garage.  There will be no storage provided.  If they were to keep the garage within the required setbacks, they would have to tap into space used for HVAC in the utility room of the house.  The power and utilities enter the house at this location.  This would cause a significant increase in expense for the project.  The garage will be 14’ x 28’, for a one-car garage.  Mr. Holthof stated the standard garage door for a one-car garage is 8 feet wide.  The thirteen feet allowed within the confines of the ordinance would allow sufficient room to get out of the vehicle.

 

The petitioner stated due to the fact that there is very little storage now, the homeowner would like to have a little more storage available in the new garage.  Mr. Lichtenwald asked how this would do substantial justice to the neighborhood if they are already crowding the next door neighbors.  The petitioner stated there is greater security in the neighborhood if things are locked up and not left sitting out.  Criteria C is addressed by the fact that they do not want to change the layout of the interior utility room and the hallway inside the house.  Everything on this lot is small, including the house and the carport.  The garage will also be small as this is a small lot.  Mr. Higgins stated that from the curb appeal, you would not notice a difference whether the garage is 13 feet or 14 feet wide.  The petitioner agreed, although it might affect the resale value of the house.  The lots across the street are wider than this lot.  Some of these homes have larger garages because they are on wider lots. They are looking to eliminate the carport and add a new garage.  Mr. Holthof asked if they considered a detached garage. The petitioner stated they did but there are two large trees in the back yard.  It is 63 feet from the back of the structure to the rear lot line.

 

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

 

Findings of Fact:

1.      The property is zoned RA-3 with adjacent RB and RA-4 zoning.

2.      The property’s west side yard setback is 6 feet and is existing legal non-conforming and the property currently has 11 feet on the east side of the structure for a sum of both sides equal to 17 feet.

3.      The addition would create a one-foot encroachment on the east side of the structure and would decrease the overall sum of both side yard setbacks from 17 feet to 12 feet.

4.      The lot is 60 feet wide which does meet RA-3 regulations, but it is one of the narrowest lots in the subdivision.

5.      The subdivision (Adams Acres) was platted in 1957.

6.      The petitioner stated it would be a financial hardship to have to move the structure inward because the building’s utilities are in the way.

7.      There were no communications received in favor of or against this request.

 

            It is moved by Higgins and supported by Holthof to approve Petition No. 08-06 based on the findings of fact to allow a side yard setback reduction for a garage addition at 1421 Jay Street, with the following conditions: (1) that the east side yard setback shall not be less than seven (7) feet and; (2) the total of the sum of both side yard setbacks shall not be less than 13 feet.

 

            Mr. Higgins feels he can meet the criteria based upon the fact that this is a 60 foot lot. 

 

            Mr. Holthof stated that there comes a point where you are overbuilding the lot. There are other structures in this area that come close to the property line and he is concerned about the petitioner overbuilding what will fit onto the property.

 

            Mr. Green stated that with the concrete pad, you are not changing the layout significantly.  The concrete pad and the fence go over to the lot line already. 

 

            Mr. Steele stated this is a tough choice.  It adds to the value of the house and the neighborhood and it does protect their personal property more than a carport.  It does bother him that we are considering reducing the required setback.  Part of this is a safety issue with fire regulations. 

 

            Mr. Lichtenwald stated he has some issues with the criteria.  He understands how this will benefit the owner, but how will it affect the homeowners on either side?  It is not unique as there are several other lots in this area that are 60 feet wide.  He feels they can still build the garage without the one foot variance and there are several criteria that are not met.                     

           

Voting on the motion:

            Green:  Yes

Higgins:  Yes

Holthof:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  No

            Steele:  Yes

 

The motion to approve the Petition 08-06 was approved 4-1.

 

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

 

            None


 

6.   OLD BUSINESS

 

None

 

7.   NEW BUSINESS

 

a.      Staff stated that there would be a July 15th ZBA meeting as there has already been one case filed (Midland Country Club at 1120 W. St. Andrews)

 

8.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

 

  1. 08-03, 08-04, 08-05 review of findings of fact

     

9.   ADJOURNMENT

 

Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:21 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Daryl Poprave, AICP, CFM

Deputy Planning Director