MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2009
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: Cindy Winland, Consulting Planner, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, and 3 others.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
It was moved by Holthof and supported by Lichtenwald to approve the minutes of the March 17, 2009 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 Zoning Ordinance criteria. Mr. Green reinforced that the variance goes with the property and not with the property owner.
a. No. 09-03 – Michael A. Taister for a 10’ front yard setback area/dimension variance to remodel the existing structure at 4804 Russell Street.
Cindy Winland showed an aerial photograph of the subject property. It is located north of Wheeler and east of Russell Street. The parcel is used as single-family residential. Across the street are some multi-family dwellings. The zoning for this parcel is Residential B and the future land use map shows this area as high-density residential. The petitioner is asking for a variance for the front yard setback. The front yard setback in the RB district is 25 feet. The front yard setback was changed after this structure was constructed so it became non-conforming after the Zoning Ordinance was revised. Criteria #1 states that strict compliance with the Zoning Ordinance will unreasonably prevent the petitioner from using the property for a permitted purpose. The petitioner stated that it prevents him from remodeling the property in the existing location the way he desires. There is no option to move the existing building so this variance would be the minimum amount required to complete the objectives of the petitioner. The property is not really unique, although the petitioner is not asking to increase the non-conformity of the front yard. This is not self-created as it is due to the change in the Zoning Ordinance. However, the petitioner would be able to put 50% of the assessed value into the home each year and not need a variance. The front yard is the side facing Russell Street. Jack Higgins asked for the dimension from the rear of the house to the rear property line. Ms. Winland stated she did not have a definitive answer to that. Mr. Steele asked if the petitioner would have to pay for another variance request and come back next month for another variance if the rear yard setback were not met. Mr. Holthof stated he is of the understanding that the square footage of this structure will not be changed. Ms. Winland stated that is correct. The only nonconforming aspect we are looking at is the front yard of this structure.
Michael A. Taister, Liden Street, West Virginia, stated that if they have to do the 25’ front yard setback and a 25’ rear yard setback, that only leaves him a 7-foot wide house. The only option for him is to get a variance and be able to enlarge the house. He stated he remodeled the other four condominiums across the street last year and they look significantly better today. Mr. Taister stated that the house is 24 feet wide. The house was built in the 1930’s or 1940’s and then in the 1960’s they added on quite a bit to the structure. Mr. Taister does not intend to build vertically on the house. The footprint of the house will be what it is right now. The property is in pretty poor condition. He plans to install all new plumbing, new electrical, all new inside the house to get it into livable shape. He anticipates it will cost him approximately $60,000 to get the house in shape, where someone would want to live in the house. Mr. Taister stated he is going to put new siding on the outside of the house.
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. It is located in an RB district.
2. The house was built in the 1930’s or 1940’s, and that is why it is now non-conforming.
3. The lot is 1,079 square feet.
4. The lot is narrow 57.5 from front to back.
5. The petitioner stated he is planning to spend about $60,000 to fix up the house.
6. The proposed structure will not change the footprint of the existing dwelling.
7. The proposed improvements will be greater than 50% of the assessed value.
8. The surrounding zoning is RB with some surrounding RA-1 zoning across the street.
Mr. Higgins asked the petitioner how he felt if they were to table this for a month. Mr. Taister stated he has already had to wait a month to start the work. He does not want to wait another month. No communications were received either in favor of or in opposition to the request.
It was moved by Higgins and supported by Steele to approve Petition No. 09-03 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 4804 Russell Street for a 10’ front yard setback to remodel the existing structure.
Mr. Higgins is in agreement with the staff report on the first four criteria. He feels it will be unnecessarily burdensome for the petitioner to build a house on this lot. If this were a corner piece of property, we would not even be talking about this variance since the front yard would be on Wheeler. Mr. Higgins feels this problem is not self-created by the current owner as the lot is so narrow. He thinks this would be a significant improvement to the neighborhood.
Mr. Steele stated he has no problems with any of the criteria. It is only a technicality that this is not a corner lot. Mr. Holthof stated he is in agreement with Mr. Higgins. The lot is really unique because of how narrow it is. He still feels there is a problem with the rear yard setback but he would find no differently with that variance request as the size of the non-conformity is not being increased. Mr. Lichtenwald is in agreement with his colleagues. As the house is not increasing in size, he has no problems with either the front yard or rear yard setbacks.
Mr. Lichtenwald made a friendly amendment to add that the square footage be limited to the footprint of the existing structure. Amendment was seconded by Mr. Steele. The front yard variance applies only to the existing nonconforming structure, as a condition of the motion.
Mr. Green would like to be clear on the rear yard setback, but with the proposed amendment to the motion, he would be in support of this motion.
Voting on the motion.
The motion to approve Petition 09-03 was approved by a vote of 5-0.
4. PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)
5. OLD BUSINESS
The Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals training was a worthwhile event. Mr. Green thanked Mr. Baker and Ms. Winland for their efforts.
6. NEW BUSINESS
7. DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES
Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:12 p.m.