MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY18, 2014

6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN

 

1.      ROLL CALL

PRESENT:         Board Members –Green, Higgins, Holthof, Pnacek andSteele

ABSENT:Board Member –Lichtenwald and Siemer

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

 

2.    APPROVAL OF MINUTES

It was moved by Higginsand supported byGreento approve the minutes of the January 21, 2014.The motion was approvedunanimously. 

 

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 andis not transferrable to another parcel.

 

        a.    No. 14-01 – Velmeir Construction Services for a dimensional variance to permit the construction of a drive-through pharmacy.  The property is located at 1015 South Saginaw Road, at the intersection of South Saginaw Road, Eastlawn Drive and Washington Street, and is zoned Regional Commercial (RC).  The application is requesting variances of:  1) 3 feet from the required 25 foot front yard setback along Eastlawn Drive to permit the proposed building location; 2) 138 feet from the required driveway separation standard of 250 feet to permit the proposed driveway location on Eastlawn Drive; and 3) 45 feet from the required driveway separation standards to permit existing driveways on South Saginaw Road to remain upon redevelopment of the site.  (WITHDRAWN) 

 

        b.    No. 14-02 – Randall Ransom and Nancy Jackson for a dimensional variance to permit the conversion of an existing one car garage into a two car garage within the required front yard.  The property is located at 1916 Ivy Lane and is zoned Residential (RA-2).  The application is requesting a variance of 10 feet to the required 30 foot front yard to permit the addition necessary for the proposed garage conversion. 

 

Background:

 

Brad Kaye presented the petition by Ransom and Jackson.  He explained that the proposal is for the relief of 10’ of the required front yard setback.  The proposal would allow for the expansion of the existing garage.  The current garage is side facing and the proposal would change the orientation to front onto Ivy Lane.

 

Green wondered about the placement of the mentioned electrical pole and if it was within the right-of-way.  It was verified by the applicant that the pole is located in the right-of-way between the sidewalk and the roadway.

 

        (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:Randal Ransom, of 1916 Ivy Lane, presented as the petitioner.  The established setback will not allow us to remodel the garage and convert it to a 2-car garage.  The current driveway requires daily rearranging of cars.  Cars parked in the current driveway block the view from our living room.  The curved driveway with the telephone pole next to it creates a hazard. 

 

Staff: The property is presently developed and used as a single family residence in compliance with the required front yard setback.  A two car garage is not required to use the property for residential purposes. 

 

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

 

            Petitioner:The variance will allow two cars to be kept in the garage and improve safety. 

 

Staff:  The property is used for a single family residence and has been since being constructed in 1959.  There is no entitlement or requirement that a two car garage be built on the site.  No other structures in the area appear to extend into the required front yard setback. 

 

(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:They have requested a 10 foot extension of the garage towards Ivy Lane to allow for a direct entrance for 2 cars into a revised garage.  This will create a 22 foot deep by 24 foot wide garage.  The house to the east extends closer to Ivy Lane than the neighboring home.

 

Staff:  The proposed variance is the minimum necessary to construct a two-car garage.  As no other structures in the area appear to extend into the required front yard setback, approval would not be consistent with the adjacent properties. 

 

(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:  The property has a curved driveway that requires a vehicle to turn and enter the garage from a direction parallel to the street.  This is the only property in Ivy Lane with this arrangement.  The location of the utility pole adds an additional uniqueness. 

 

Staff:  The circumstances unique to the property are the result on the construction on the property, not the property itself.  Approval would result in a garage extending 10 feet into the required setback. 

 

(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 current property is in compliance with the zoning ordinance. 

 

Staff:The requested variance is a direct result of the house constructed on the property by the original building. 

 

Higgins asked if the applicant has explored any alternatives.  Ransom indicated that additional concrete could be added to the side of the driveway to give more space but that wouldn’t be a meaningful solution.  Higgins wondered if a ten foot addition could be added to the back of the house which would give the new garage 10’ of space into the existing house.    Ransom said that the renovation costs to adjust the house ten feet back would not be feasible.

 

Nancy Jackson explained that the movement of the driveway would remove the concrete from in front of the main window.  This would increase the aesthetics of the house.

 

Discussion:

 

The Board continued by developing the findings of fact.

 

Findings of Fact:

1.      The property is zoned RA-2.

2.      The driveway is curved currently to access the garage.

3.      Home originally constructed in 1959.

4.      Homeowner’s have lived in the home for 33 years.

5.      Lot size is 146’ x 70’.

6.      The current garage is east facing.

7.      The proposed garage is north facing.

8.      A utility pole is located to the immediate east of the driveway within the right-of-way, between the sidewalk and the street.

9.      The current front yard setback for the R-A2 zone is 30’.

 

Motion:It was moved by Higgins and seconded by Holthofto approve Petition No. 14-02 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 1916 Ivy Lane to permit the conversion of an existing one car garage into a two car garage within the required front yard. 

 

Deliberation:

 

Holthof explained that he has a problem with the idea that the problem is self created.  He understands the safety concerns with the curved driveway.  Aesthetically, a removal of the concrete would be more consistent with the neighborhood.  However, he does not believe the variance clears all of the criteria.

 

Pnacek explained his agreement with Holthof.  He explained that,unfortunately, a turn-around on the property would not be possible.  But, he does not think that the proposal is the best solution.  He continued to explain that a driveway length of only 20’ is a very short driveway.He mentioned that trucks with a hitch could be upwards of 21’.

 

Green explained that with modernization of homes in general a two car garage is a common part of a home. 

 

Higgins explained that the curved driveway does make it burdensome.  However, he does not think that property is unique.  He believes that the issue was not created by compliance with the Zoning Ordinance but by the original developer of the site.

 

Steele explained that he is hesitant to approve the proposal based on the answer to item five (5).  He does not believe that the problem has come from strict compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. 

 

Green wondered if any other lots on Ivy Lane had curved driveways.  Kaye explained that there are none. 

Chairman Steele asked the petitioner back up to the podium to ask if they would be agreeable to a reduction in the depth of the proposed garage in order to allow for a longer driveway.  Steele asked if a depth of 22’ would be acceptable.  Ransom explained that according to his contractor, the 24’ depth, what is proposed, is the minimum for a two-car garage.  

 

Chairman Steele asked for a roll-call vote on the motion by Higgins and seconded by Holthof.

 

Vote:  

Green:  Yes

Higgins:  No

Holthof:  Yes                                                            

Pnacek:  No                              

Steele:  Yes

The motion was approved by a vote of 3-2.

 

4.    OLD BUSINESS 

None

 

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

        None

 

6.    NEW BUSINESS

        None

     

7.   DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES

a. 13-12Recorded

b. 13-13 Review Findings of Fact

 

8.   ADJOURNMENT

Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:20 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

C Bradley Kaye, AICP, CFM

Director of Planning and Community Development