MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2008
AT 6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,
1. ROLL CALL
PRESENT: Board Members - Green, Higgins, Holthof, Lichtenwald, and Steele
ABSENT: Board Members – None
OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Cheri King, and 3 others.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
It was moved by Higgins and supported by Steele to approve the minutes of the July 15, 2008 meeting as presented. Motion was unanimously approved.
3. 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. Green reinforced that the variance goes with the property and not with the property owner.
a. No. 08-10 – Cris Weckesser for an area/dimension variance to allow reconstruction of a fire destroyed building at Tek Circle located at 2903 Ronan Street.
Mr. Baker showed an aerial photograph of the subject property. The petition is to allow the reconstruction of a burned building in the Tec Circle apartment complex. It is bounded by Ronan Street, Dartmouth Drive, Cambridge Street, adjoins Rodd Street and is just east of S. Saginaw Road. The building in question is the second building in from Ronan Street. It is currently zoned RB so this is a permitted use within this district. It is bounded by single family to the east and north. Tonight’s petition considers the 4-unit apartment building that burned and the petitioner wishes to reconstruct this building. Under the Zoning Ordinance adopted in 2005, we have minimum square footage requirements for different sized apartment units in Table 9.3. The setbacks for the building do meet current standards. The building itself is proposed to be 48 feet in depth and 24 feet in width. One correspondence was received from Mr. Pike in opposition to this request.
Mr. Holthof asked about Table 9.3 and the minimum setbacks from the surrounding buildings. Mr. Baker stated that a minimum of 30 feet is required between buildings and there is 38 feet between these buildings at the present time, with the existing footprint of the building.
Cris Weckesser, 4115 Stonegate Drive, reviewed the five criteria required by the Zoning Ordinance. They asked for this variance because they are trying to get the building put back at a price the owners can afford. The existing foundation was not damaged by the fire. The units were all full at the time of the fire. They are trying to produce a building as economically as possible. The apartments are very rentable with their existing square footage. The city adopted new regulations in 2005. They would like to use the same foundation that already exists. Mr. Weckesser stated there was a fire previously, in 1998 or 1999 and they tried to repair the damage that was done to another building. It was more economical to tear down the building and rebuild it.
Dan Kellan, 4409 Brambleridge, is a partial owner of the property. He stated that the insurance company has agreed only to pay to rebuild the building the size it was. The foundation was not damaged in the fire, so the insurance company will only pay to rebuild the building on the existing foundation. Many of the tenants in this complex walk to work as it is close to a number of businesses.
Cris Weckesser stated it would take a lot of work to expand the building to accommodate the requirements of the ordinance, and it would affect the overall appearance of the building within the apartment complex. Mr. Steele asked if the buildings were brick. Mr. Weckesser stated that they are brick. Their proposed new building will look like it conforms with the other buildings in the apartment complex. They looked at expanding the building to conform to the ordinance. However, this would be very expensive to build the building so it looked like it was similar to the existing structures. He stated that the building will be much easier to reconstruct if they are allowed to utilize the existing foundation. If they have to comply with the ordinance, it will affect the time that it takes to get the building built and they are trying to get it rebuilt prior to bad weather setting in. Mr. Kellan’s tenants are anxious to move back in. This building is inside the apartment complex and the boundaries of this building are limited due to the surrounding structures.
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.
Mr. Higgins asked Mr. Baker for the reasons why the Zoning Ordinance was changed to the current minimum sizes in the 2005 revision. Mr. Baker stated that minimum apartment sizes were specified to accommodate current living conditions.
Findings of Fact:
1. The area is zoned RB.
2. This is one of 19 buildings in the complex.
3. There appears to be adequate side, front and rear yard setbacks.
4. The reason for this request is because a fire burned down this 4 unit building.
5. The request is to rebuild as previously existed.
6. The insurance company has stated they will only pay to rebuild the building as it was.
7. The proposed units are smaller than allowed in the current ordinance.
8. The current ordinance was changed in 2005 to require these larger units.
9. The building was destroyed more than 50 percent by a fire.
10. The properties surrounding this complex are zoned RA-3, Regional Commercial, and Circle district.
11. The apartment units have been in existence since the late 1950’s.
It is moved by Higgins and supported by Steele to approve Petition No. 08-10 based on the findings of fact to allow reconstruction of a fire destroyed building at Tek Circle located at 2903 Ronan Street.
Mr. Higgins stated that, if this came before the board without having been destroyed by fire, he would be very much against this petition. However, when he looks at the criteria and considers that the Zoning Ordinance was changed in 2005, and that the other units are similar in size to what is proposed here, he is in favor of this petition. He feels it will do substantial justice to the petitioner, it is the minimum needed to fit the criteria and that the ordinance was changed proposes a uniqueness to the property.
Mr. Lichtenwald stated he can concur with item B through E as being met. He has a problem with the first criteria that strict compliance is unnecessarily burdensome. Rules do change and at some point, you have to comply with them. With a minimum of expansion, he feels the building can comply with the Zoning Ordinance.
Mr. Holthof stated he does not feel he has enough information to make a decision either way. He could agree with the petitioner about building this if he was clear as to whether or not the petitioner has enough room to expand it to meet the Zoning Ordinance. If they have enough room, he is in agreement with Mr. Lichtenwald. There is an opportunity here for this structure to be improved and to comply with what is desired by the Zoning Ordinance.
Mr. Green stated he has no problem with criteria B through E. He has a tough time complying with the first criteria. The structure was destroyed. There appears to be adequate space to comply with the new zoning ordinance.
Mr. Steele stated that if they have to build a new foundation, he considers that burdensome. They would have to build a false wall along the long side of the building to create a partial foundation. As soon as you do that, you are now less than 30 feet to another building. Then you are getting too close to other buildings and that would require another zoning variance. Based upon the way everything now sits, he will be inclined to vote for this variance.
Mr. Lichtenwald stated that they can bump out one of the short walls out five feet, whether it is slab on grade or whether it is a crawl space. That would enable it to comply with the ordinance.
Voting on motion:
The motion to approve the Petition 08-10 failed by a vote of 2-3.
4. PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)
5. OLD BUSINESS
6. NEW BUSINESS
Motion by Steele, seconded by Holthof to approve the proposed meeting dates for the Zoning Board of Appeals’ meetings in 2009. Motion approved 4-1.
7. DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES
Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:31 p.m.
Keith Baker, AICP
Director of Planning & Community Development