1.      ROLL CALL

PRESENT:         Board Members – Green, Higgins, Pnacek, Siemer and Steele

ABSENT:            Board Member – Lichtenwald

OTHERS PRESENT:  Brad Kaye, Director of Planning and Community Development, Grant Murschel, Community Development Planner and two (2) others.



It was moved by Siemer and supported by Higgins to approve the minutes of the June 18, 2013 meeting with the change of “might” to “would not” under item 3a, Findings of Fact #12e.  The motion was approved unanimously as amended.



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. 13-12 – Kirk Brown for a dimensional variance to permit the construction of a 40 foot by 15 foot greenhouse addition within the required rear yard.  The property is located at 715 George Street and is zoned Industrial A (IA).  The application is requesting a variance of 57 feet to the required 100 foot required rear yard.  Table 26.01 of the City of Midland Zoning Ordinance requires a minimum 100 foot rear yard in the IA zoning district when abutting a residential zoning district. 




Mr. Kaye stated that the petition is located at 715 George Street.  This property is zoned IA Industrial A.  The applicant is requesting a dimensional variance of 57’ to permit construction of a greenhouse within the required rear yard setback.  The property is abutted by RB Multiple Family  on the northwest, due west and southwest. To the northeast the parcel is abutted by IA Industrial A.  To the southeast and due east, across George Street is IA Industrial A. 


Higgins wanted to clarify the zoning of the parcel immediately to the southwest.  Kaye confirmed that it is zoned RB Multiple Family but the existing use is commercial.


Kaye presented the drawing prepared by the applicant to show the reasons why the applicant is requesting the variance.  He explained that the applicant believes that the existing site and building do not allow for a greenhouse to be built without acquiring a variance.  The current location of a water spigot and an existing side entrance are contributing factors as the applicant wants the current water supply and access to the existing building be used in the greenhouse.  Additionally, internal to the building are a line of a fully plumbed aquariums, which are used by the owner for the sale of fish.  These aquariums pose a challenge in determining location of the greenhouse outside the main structure.    



(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?


Petitioner:  Joel Morse, an employee of the business, and Midland resident of 2203 Rodd Street, confirmed that the owner has given him authority to present this petition.  He explained that if the site was to conform to the zoning ordinance, the greenhouse would not be able to be built.  The current configuration of the building, specifically the access door, water spigot and interior aquariums, does not allow for much flexibility in placement of the greenhouse.  A lot of remodeling work would be required if the greenhouse were to be located elsewhere on site. 


Staff:  The lot is able to be used in its current form without the variance.  Denial of the variance would not prohibit the continuation of the current activity on site.  If front and rear setbacks were to be complied with, the greenhouse location would cause parking onsite to be moved towards the rear of the lot.  This change in parking would not be conducive to the activity on site.


Steele commented that placing the greenhouse to conform to the setbacks would require the relocation of a utility pole and a complete rewiring of the electrical connection to the current structure would also need to occur.  


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


            Petitioner:   A built-in greenhouse would allow the owner to have additional product in  a secure location without worrying about theft. The location of the proposed greenhouse will be placed away from and have limited impact on the abutting properties.   


Staff:  The subject land is located at the edge of the Industrial A zoning district at the transition to residential.  The proposed greenhouse would be located 30’ further from the property line than the existing, legal non-conforming building.


(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.


Petitioner:  The request is the minimum due to the location of the door and the water spigot. 


Staff:   Providing the factors of the water spigot and door access are considered, it is the minimum variance necessary.


(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.


Petitioner:  What is currently on site does not allow for much flexibility in placement of the greenhouse.  He believes that the neighboring residences will not be able to see the proposed greenhouse.


Staff:  Although it is not a truly unique property, it is located at the transition between RB Multiple Family and IA Industrial A and very few areas of the city exist this way.


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


Petitioner:  The location of the current building is legal non-conforming which leaves little suitable area for the greenhouse.      Compliance would result in difficult on-site parking.


Staff:  The existing building was in compliance with earlier zoning standards and now is a legal non-conforming use.



Green wanted to know the distance between the Midland Public Schools (MPS) property line and the proposed greenhouse.  Kaye explained the distance by adding the dimensions given on the applicant’s drawing; he estimated it to be 22 ft.  Green wondered about the maneuvering of vehicles with the proposed greenhouse if the abutting neighbor were to construct a fence.  Kaye explained that the distance would be tight but manageable. 


Morse explained the drawing of the proposed greenhouse.  He explained the activity of the buses on the neighboring MPS site; the buses do not cross into the subject property.  He explained the issues on site that prohibit the greenhouse from being located elsewhere than proposed, including the water spigot, the access door and the interior aquariums. 


Green wanted to know the exact dimensions of the current building on site.  The petitioner indicated that he believes it is 100’.


Pnacek wanted to know if 15’ is the minimum width that is needed for the greenhouse.  The petitioner explained that the vats that will be used require a minimum of 15’.   


Findings of Fact:

1.       Zoned Industrial A.

2.       Abuts residential housing.

3.       Commercial on two sides of the subject parcel. 

4.       Currently the building is legally non-conforming to the rear and side setback requirements.

5.       The location of the water and the door dictate how far forward the greenhouse can be placed.

6.       Parking will be a problem if the proposed greenhouse was located elsewhere.

7.       The proposed addition is not visible to the residents located to the northwest and southwest.

8.       The location of the electrical outlets would make it difficult to locate the greenhouse somewhere else other than where it is proposed.

9.       The lot size is 70’ x 157.75’.

10.   15’x40’ is the proposed greenhouse dimensions.

11.   The proposed greenhouse will be 22 ft from the Midland Public Schools property line.

12.   The proposed greenhouse faces the Midland Public Schools bus garage.


Green commented that Michael Engwis, who submitted a written public comment, owns a business at 712 George Street but does not live at that address. 


Motion:  It was moved by Higgins and supported by Siemer to approve Petition No. 13-12 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 715 George Street to permit the construction of a 40 foot by 15 foot greenhouse addition within the required rear yard. 


Deliberation:  Higgins commented on item 1; he believes that it would be unnecessarily burdensome because of the current location of the water spigot and door.  He also believes that this property is unique because the current building is located so close to the property line because of when it was built.  Additionally, the property is industrial and abuts residential. Siemer agreed with what Higgins explained.


Pnacek agreed with Higgins and Siemer and explained that the building as it stands presents a unique situation. 


Green is concerned with item 1.  He believes that the burden of the water and door is not adequate.  Other places in town have moved things like water spigots and entrances.  He also believes that the property is not unique. 


Steele explained that parking would be an issue if the greenhouse did not protrude into the setback. 


Higgins commented that the proposal will not make the building on site more non-conforming.  



Green:  No                 

Higgins:  Yes                             

Pnacek:  Yes                             

Siemer:  Yes                              

Steele:  Yes                

The motion to approve Petition 13-12 was approved by a vote of 4-1. 


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







Kaye presented the proposed 2014 meeting dates for the Zoning Board of Appeals. 


Moved by Higgins and seconded by Siemer to approve the 2014 meeting dates as proposed.  Motion passed unanimously.



a. 13-07 Review Findings of Fact

b. 13-08 Review Findings of Fact

c. 13-09 Review Findings of Fact

d. 13-10 Review Findings of Fact



      Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:19 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,




C Bradley Kaye, AICP, CFM

Director of Planning and Community Development