1.      ROLL CALL

PRESENT:      Board Members - Green, Higgins, Lichtenwald, Siemer and Steele

ABSENT:         Board Members – None

OTHERS PRESENT:       Cindy Winland, Consulting Planner, Debbie Marquardt, Technical Secretary and four others.



It was moved by Siemer and supported by Higgins to approve the minutes of the September 18, 2012 meeting.  Motion was approved unanimously as presented.


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 Board of Appeals decision criteria in the Zoning Ordinance. The variance is legally recorded with the property and is not transferrable to another parcel. 


a.      No. 12-09 – K-Berger III, LLC for a dimensional variance seeking a reduction in the number of required parking spaces pursuant to Table 5.3 of the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance.  The application seeks to reduce the number of required parking spaces for a drive-through restaurant from 89 spaces to 53 spaces.  The property is zoned Regional Commercial and is located at 7300 Eastman Avenue.



Ms. Winland showed the location that is in the Meijer parking lot, the site of a proposed Culvers restaurant.  It requires action from the Planning Commission and City Council for a conditional use permit.   As with all of our requests, there are five criteria that need to be met.


(1)   Will strict compliance with restrictions governing area, setback, frontage, height, bulk, density or other non-use matters unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permitted purpose or render conformity unnecessarily burdensome?

The Petitioner stated the number of Culvers in the nation and how this site plan exceeds the minimum required by Culvers for parking.  If this variance is not granted, they could still use the property.


(2)  The variance will do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners.

      The Petitioner has noted it would be required to construct parking that would not be used without the variance.  With the variance, Meijer could maintain their parking and traffic pattern.  The City concludes that the ordinance is excessive, especially for drive-through restaurants and has proposed new zoning language.  A variance would do substantial justice. 


(3)  The variance requested is the minimum variance to provide substantial relief to the applicant and/or be consistent with justice to other property owners.

      The applicant noted that it is the minimum variance.  This is a typical Culvers size for our area and the lot has been used to maximize the amount of parking.


(4)  The need for the variance is due to the unique characteristics of the property not generally applicable in the area or to other properties in the same zoning district.

      The petitioner noted that the variance will allow them to construct the Culvers in their out lot and Meijer could maintain their traffic pattern.  There is nothing unique about the property itself.  Staff states that the zoning requirement is excessive and they are changing the regulation.


(5)  The problem and resulting need for the variance has been created by strict compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and not the applicant.

      The petitioner stated there are 464 Culvers in the nation. Strict compliance with the ordinance would exceed the requirements of Culvers.  It is self created, however.


      Pete Spohn spoke, representing Culvers.  He is the owner of the restaurant and he also owns a store in Mt. Pleasant and Lansing.  His address is 1021 E. Pickard Street, Mt. Pleasant.  A representative from Kebs, the engineer, in Haslett, MI also spoke.  They are here tonight because they could like to open by May of next year.  Criteria A is the only one they think they do not meet. 


      During discussion the following information was stated by the petitioner:

·         There are 34 tables in the restaurant with carry out. 

·         They have three registers. 

·         There will seldom be over 13 employees. 

·         The Mt. Pleasant store has 120 seats and Culvers changed the footprint to 95 seats.  It takes about 16 weeks to build from ground breaking. They would like to break ground in January.

·         The 96 seats include patio seats.  They found from the other restaurants that the patios are hardly ever used.


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


                  Findings of Fact:

1.      It is an out lot of Meijer.

2.      It is zoned Regional Commercial.

3.      There are 34 tables inside and three tables on the patio.

4.      They will have a carry out business.

5.      Petitioner indicated there would be 12 to 14 employees.

6.      Property is located at 7300 Eastman Avenue.

7.      There is currently a text amendment to change the parking requirements to less than what is being requested.

8.      No comments written or verbal were received.

9.      The parking relative to seating works out to 2.4 seats per parking space.

10.  The history shows that 40% of the traffic is drive-through.

11.  Peak load is approximately 60 to 70% as stated by the petitioner.


It was moved by Higgins and supported by Siemer to approve Petition No. 12-09 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 7300 Eastman Avenue for a variance to reduce the number of required parking spaces for a drive-through restaurant from 89 spaces to 53 spaces. 


Mr. Higgins thinks that it would be unnecessarily burdensome to put in the required parking spaces.  The criteria needs to be rethought by the city.


Mr. Green agrees with Mr. Higgins.  He has no major problem with the other criteria.


Mr. Lichtenwald agrees with what has been said so far.


Mr. Siemer also agrees with what has been said so far. 


Mr. Steele agrees and thinks it would be burdensome.  It appears to be the minimum necessary.  The problem has been created by strict compliance.


Vote on the motion: 

Green:        Yes

Higgins:     Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Siemer:      Yes

Steele:        Yes

      The motion to approve Petition 12-09 was approved by a vote of 5-0. 


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




Mr. Steele thanked Cheri King for her note taking for the Zoning Board of Appeals and wished her well in her retirement.



Ms. Winland stated that they board received an updated Article 8, Signs, for the Zoning Ordinance, specific sign regulations to the Downtown Northside Overlay District.  It is based on façade and tenants versus size of the lot, as is typical.  



      a.  12-01 Review Findings of Fact

      b.  12-08 Recorded



      Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:30 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Cynthia E. Winland, AICP

Consulting Planner