MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
WHICH TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2009
AT 6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,
1. ROLL CALL
PRESENT: Board Members - Green, Higgins, Holthof, Siemer, and Steele
ABSENT: Board Members – Lichtenwald
OTHERS PRESENT: Cindy Winland, Consulting Planner, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist, and 4 others.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
It was moved by Siemer and supported by Higgins to approve the minutes of the April 21, 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. 09-04 – Brian Beukema on behalf of Hotel Holdings Cinema, LLC for an area dimension variance for the number of ground signs permitted in the Regional Commercial zoning district at 810 Cinema Drive.
Cindy Winland showed an aerial photograph of the subject property. Cinema Drive comes in on the north side of the property. All the surrounding property is zoned Regional Commercial on the north side of the freeway. The future land use plan shows this entire area as commercial. The property runs all the way north to Cinema Boulevard. The applicant is asking for an additional sign to provide two signs on Cinema Drive and one sign on Cinema Boulevard. There is a restaurant, hotel, and conference center on the site. There is some square footage of wall signage available to the applicant.
The petitioner feels he needs the additional signage in order to direct people from the hotel, restaurant or conference center to his property. The petitioner is allowed to have an unlimited number of directional signs. The second test is that the variance will do substantial justice to the owner as well as to surrounding property owners. The Zoning Ordinance was amended earlier this year to allow only one sign, in order to control the amount of signage in the community. The petitioner has offered to eliminate a sign on Cinema Boulevard if he is allowed to have two signs on Cinema Drive. He notes that the sign on Cinema Boulevard could also provide direction, so it is valuable and could help with traffic circulation. The applicant feels his property is unique due to having separate entrances to his property. This parcel is fairly small compared to other hotel/conference facilities. Staff notes that when this site plan was reviewed and approved by City Council, a specific contingency of approval was that one sign be removed from Cinema Drive in order to comply with the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Holthof asked how much frontage was on Cinema Drive. Ms. Winland stated they have 330 feet of frontage on Cinema Drive. She showed a copy of the approved site plan. There is provision for shared access on the southeast corner of the property. The distance between the two driveways off Cinema Drive is 200 feet, to comply with the Zoning Ordinance, but they just barely have enough property to meet this criteria. Jack Higgins asked if Cinema Drive and Cinema Boulevard are both city streets. Ms. Winland stated that they are. Mr. Steele asked about the content and placement of directional signs. Ms. Winland stated they cannot have a logo or advertising information. They are limited to providing directions. They are allowed an unlimited number of directional signs.
The petitioners, Peter Beukema, 6407 Valencia, Rockford, MI 49341 and Brian Beukema, Rockford, MI 49341, stated they amended the original site plan to include a portico over the banquet center entrance. The restaurant is as big or bigger than Applebee’s or Logan’s Roadhouse. They have outside seating during the summer time. This is built with its own main entryway. It is built larger than any franchise restaurant. The portico is at the entrance to the lobby. There are three totally separate businesses here. They each stand alone. The stereotype of going to the Holiday Inn for dinner has been gone for a long time, according to the petitioner. They have made a huge capital investment in the community. Not being able to have a ground sign makes them destined for failure. The hotel is its own component. They state they are not asking for anything more than any single business in the community. They feel each separate business should be allowed to have their own sign, including the hotel, restaurant, and conference center. The conference center uses a part of the restaurant. The hotel will never be able to support the restaurant itself. The restaurant needs to have its own identity. Mr. Brian Beukema stated that he thought the city’s ordinance was very generous with the amount of signage allowed, but it is hard to work around giving the restaurant its own identity. All the parking on the west side and the northwest side was built for the restaurant and the banquet center. They have an elevator at the north end of the building and an elevator in the center of the building. The building was designed to encourage parking by the elevator doors for hotel customers.
Mr. Peter Beukema stated if they had built the three components separately, there would be no question about each entity having its own sign. They cannot use the “Holiday Inn” style sign because of the limitation on signage at the north end of the property. The whole concept is that they will bring new business to town and those people that are not familiar with Midland need the additional signage to find the different businesses within their facility. Their desire is to have local people come in and use their facility for a cocktail after work or a sandwich for lunch. They are aware that City Council has denied the additional sign, but they were told following their site plan review that they would have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals if they still wished to have the additional signage. They feel they have cooperated with the city by allowing for the shared access at the southeast corner of the property.
Mr. Higgins asked if there is only one owner of this property. The petitioners said there was. Mr. Higgins asked for a comparison of this facility to the “H” hotel or the existing Midland Resort, formerly the Holiday Inn of Midland. Peter Beukema stated they cannot advertise the restaurant on the Holiday Inn sign because they did not build the prototype of a Holiday Inn Restaurant, so they cannot put the name of the restaurant and the name of the Holiday Inn on the same sign. Mr. Higgins asked why the Zoning Board of Appeals should treat the petitioner any different from the Midland Resort, formerly the Holiday Inn. They do not have a separate sign for the restaurant.
Mr. Steele asked if they have done a traffic flow analysis to see what flow customers will use to get to the hotel. Peter Beukema stated he thinks they will use Joe Mann Boulevard, but they have not done a traffic analysis. He hopes that someday the city will do something to alleviate the traffic on Joe Mann Boulevard. Mr. Steele stated that, if people are coming from the mall area, they know where they are going. The petitioner stated they do not plan to direct people to the north entrance at all. It will definitely be the entrance off Joe Mann Boulevard to the hotel, the restaurant and the conference center.
Roy Green asked about the additional wall sign that would be permitted. Peter Beukema stated they could only have 60 square feet left because it is being shared with the hotel. This is not large enough for the restaurant. They currently have 238 sq. ft. of signage on the building.
Mr. Higgins stated that the petitioner has an issue with directional signs for the property. They are allowed an unlimited amount of directional signage so this should not be an issue. Mr. Beukema stated that he feels the restaurant needs its own identity. Mr. Steele stated that, if he knows where the restaurant is, he is not going to park on the hotel side of the building if there is parking closer to the facility.
Mr. Holthof asked if they were allowed to have two signs, would they both be on Cinema Drive? Mr. Peter Beukema stated they would both go on Cinema Drive and they would both be the same height, to promote uniformity. The sign for the Holiday Inn hotel is 56 sq. ft.
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. There is 330 feet of frontage on Cinema Drive.
2. The property is located at 810 Cinema Drive.
3. The parcel is zoned Regional Commercial and planned Regional Commercial.
4. The property has frontage on both Cinema Drive and Cinema Boulevard.
5. The petitioner stated the driveways on Cinema Drive exceed the 200 foot requirement.
6. The speed limit is 25 mph.
7. The property is adjacent to US-10.
8. The petitioner has stated there are two distinct businesses owned by a single owner – one is the Holiday Inn and the other is the restaurant/conference center.
9. According to the petitioner, the Holiday Inn will not allow the petitioner to advertise the restaurant/conference center on the Holiday Inn sign.
10. There were no comments either in support or in opposition to this petition.
It was moved by Higgins and supported by Holthof to approve Petition No. 09-04 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 810 Cinema Drive for the number of ground signs in the Regional Commercial district with the following conditions:
1. The total ground sign square footage not exceed 104 square feet;
2. They not be allowed more than two ground signs on the property;
3. If both signs are on Cinema Drive, the signs must be at least 200 feet apart.
Mr. Holthof stated that the Zoning Ordinance, in Footnote F states that if a business has more than 600 feet of frontage on a street, they could have two signs a minimum of 200 feet apart. Footnote G refers to properties that have frontage on two streets. This applies to this parcel.
Ms. Winland stated the Board needs to act on the petition as presented tonight. That is what has been advertised.
Mr. Steele feels the sign will direct people toward the Cinema Boulevard entrance. Mr. Holthof stated he does not see people using that entrance. Mr. Higgins stated that he is proposing that the total ground sign be 104 sq. ft. total, that there be no more than two signs on the property, and that they be 200 feet or more apart.
Mr. Higgins stated that strict compliance would render conformance unnecessarily burdensome. The burden is that the Holiday Inn will not allow them to advertise the restaurant on their sign. The applicant has indicated that he needs two signs and Mr. Higgins feels this will alleviate the burden of not having two signs. The self-created issue is created by the Holiday Inn not allowing them to advertise the restaurant on their sign.
Mr. Holthof stated that the “branding” does not allow them to have the restaurant on the Holiday Inn sign. Mr. Steele stated he understands why the branding is there, but he cannot do anything about it. He still thinks there are three businesses there – not two, even though the conference center shares a kitchen with the restaurant. Mr. Siemer concurs with the others. Mr. Green stated we had basically this same issue with the “Subway” and “WalMart”. It was an issue that the businesses had to decide. They are allowed a certain amount of signage and they can choose to use it as they wish. Mr. Green has a problem with criteria D and criteria A. Based upon the facts, he cannot support this variance.
Voting on the motion.
The motion to approve Petition 09-04 was approved by a vote of 4-1.
4. PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)
5. OLD BUSINESS
6. NEW BUSINESS
7. DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES
Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 8:02 p.m.