MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,
1. ROLL CALL
PRESENT: Board Members –Green, Holthof, Lichtenwald, Pnacek and Steele
ABSENT: Board Member –Higgins and Siemer
OTHERS PRESENT: Brad Kaye, Director of Planning and Community Development, Grant Murschel, Community Development Planner and seven(7) others.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
It was moved by Pnacek and supported by Green to approve the meeting minutes of February 18, 2014.The motion was approved unanimously.
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. 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) 111 feet from the required driveway separation standard of 255 feet to permit the proposed driveway location on Eastlawn Drive; and 2) 35 feet from the required driveway separation standards to permit existing driveways on South Saginaw Road to remain upon redevelopment of the site.
Brad Kaye presented the petition by Velmeir Construction Services for the proposed CVS Pharmacy and a future banking facility. He explained that the existing bank, restaurant and pizza restaurant will be removed for this development. All of the surrounding properties, as well as the subject properties, are zoned RC Regional Commercial. Kaye explained that the proposed variance for the driveway separation was originally advertised as 106 feet from the requirement of 250 feet. He explained that a correction is needed as the requirement is in fact 255 feet, rather than 250 feet. This effectively makes the variance request for 111 feet, rather than 106 feet, but does not change the proposed separation. He spoke with the City Attorney who indicated that the clerical error is not critical and the proposal can move forward, provided the applicant is agreeable to doing so.
Kaye highlighted the standards that must be considered by the Board. He also discussed the driveway standards that are currently met by the proposal.
Holthof wondered why the opposing drives on Eastlawn are being considered but not the opposing drives on South Saginaw. Kaye explained that the proposed driveways along South Saginaw are compliant with ordinance standards based on existing parcel configurations.
Pnacek wondered if the existing Wolverine Bank driveways are compliant with the current standards. Kaye explained that they are not, due to their proximity to the intersection of South Saginaw and Eastlawn. Pnacek wondered how many current drives exist on the property. Kaye explained that there are currently seven (7).
Peter Poznak, an attorney representing Velmeir Construction Services, presented on behalf of the applicant. He presented a historical aerial photo and explained that the newest building on the site is the automobile service facility, Valvoline. He also wanted to clarify that he believes that only 4.5 driveways, rather than 5, are being proposed on a site that currently consists of 7. The half driveway is the right out-only driveway proposed on Eastlawn. He believes that the need for the variances is not because of the desires of the developer but because of the history of the triangular site. In his opinion, the RC district encourages the type of use that is proposed and preventing this development would go against the goals of the RC district. He stated that the proposed driveways on South Saginaw will not add an additional burden on the roadway. In addition, he believes that there is sufficient distance on westbound Eastlawn in the center turn lane for cars stacking to turn left into the proposed development. One completely aligned driveway on Eastlawn is not practical as the constraints of the development and specifically the drive-thru do not allow for it.
Lichtenwald wanted to know more about the easement with Valvoline. Poznak explained that a shared access easement exists with the current owners to allow for shared use of the driveway that will remain on South Saginaw.
John Baumann, 5757 West Naval Road, West Bloomfield, Michigan, answered the question from Steele regarding whether consideration was given to only having a right-in on Eastlawn. Baumann indicated that they worked with their client who is not satisfied with a right-in only driveway. He explained that his team conducted a traffic analysis on Eastlawn on a Tuesday and saw that only three cars queued in the center-turn lane during the peak hour of 5:00-6:00pm. Steele wondered if this was the only possible site configuration. Baumann explained that it is. Steele wondered if there were any constraints on the parcels.
Rick Rosinski, chief operating officer of Wolverine Bank, explained that the bank must retain ownership of some portion of the site. He explained that Wolverine Bank is supportive of this proposal going forward. Steele asked if there is adequate space for the bank to develop including a drive-thru. Rosinski explained that what has been given will allow for them to adequately develop a bank branch. He believes that the current site of the bank is essentially undevelopable based off the constraints of the ordinance and the size of the site. Rosinski further explained that CVS Pharmacy is a preferred pharmacy of the Dow Chemical Company.
Comments in Support of the Petition:
Scott Walker of Midland Tomorrow, explained his support of the petition. He encouraged the Board to support the request.
Jay Brown, an attorney representing Wolverine Bank, explained his support of the petition. He further explained that concerns of stacking of cars on Eastlawn are not necessary. He spoke to the five criteria of the review on behalf of Wolverine Bank and how he believes the petition meets all of them. He explained that the proposal is for three new properties with only two owners, CVS and Wolverine Bank. CVS will own the northern most parcel and Wolverine Bank will own the southernmost two.
Chairman Steele closed the public comment portion and proposed to deliberate the variance request for the driveway on South Saginaw Road first. The Board agreed.
The Board continued by presenting the findings of fact for 35 feet from the required driveway separation standard of 245 feet to permit the continued use of two existing driveways on South Saginaw Road.
Findings of Fact:
1. All adjacent zoning is RC Regional Commercial.
2. The speed limit on South Saginaw is 35 mph.
3. The speed limit on Washington is 30 mph.
4. The speed limit on Eastlawn is 25 mph.
5. There have been no comments in opposition to the variance.
6. Current daily traffic count on South Saginaw is 21,615.
7. Current daily traffic count on Eastlawn is 7,105.
8. Of the five driveways that will remain, three of which are conforming.
9. The proposed development will be comprise of three parcels.
10. The proposal is for a variance of 35’.
Motion: It was moved by Pnacek and seconded by Green to approve Petition No. 14-01 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 1015 South Saginaw Road to permit 35 feet from the required driveway separation standards to permit existing driveways on South Saginaw Road to remain upon redevelopment of the site.
Pnacek explained that he is most concerned with the spacing of driveways from intersections. He believes that the reduction of the number of driveways on the site will be an improvement. Green explained that he believes that it does not meet the first and fourth criteria; it does, however, met the second, third and fifth.
Holthof believes that the proposal meets all of the five criteria. Lichtenwald and Steele agreed with explanations that were given by Pnacek, Green and Holthof. Chairman Steele asked for a roll call vote on the motion.
The motion was approved by a vote of5-0.
Chairman Steele invited discussion on the driveway variance on Eastlawn. The Board continued by presenting the findings of fact.
Findings of Fact:
1. The proposed driveway on South Saginaw Road is at the minimum distance of 200 feet from the intersection at Eastlawn Drive.
2. All adjacent zoning is RC Regional Commercial.
3. The speed limit on South Saginaw is 35 mph.
4. The speed limit on Washington is 30 mph.
5. The speed limit on Eastlawn is 25 mph.
6. There have been no comments in opposition to the variance.
7. Current daily traffic count on South Saginaw is 21,615.
8. Current daily traffic count on Eastlawn is 7,105.
9. Of the five driveways that will remain, three of which are conforming.
10. The proposed development will be comprise of three parcels.
11. The proposal is for a variance of 111’.
Motion: It was moved by Green to change the proposed driveway to a one-directional right-turn entry off of Eastlawn. The motion was not supported.
Holthof explained that he does not see an issue with the driveway spacing on Eastlawn from the intersection with South Saginaw Road. He believes that the driveway location on the site opposite Eastlawn was to align it with the current driveway. He believes that the proposal meets all five of the criteria.
Chairman Steele asked the engineer of the project to the podium to answer a question regarding the placement of the driveway.
John VerPlank, of UBS Engineering, indicated that the placement of the driveway on Eastlawn was to maximize the benefit of the pull-thru parking spaces in the parking lot.
Green commented that the left turn out of the driveway onto Eastlawn might create issues with vehicles coming eastbound from South Saginaw Road. He explained that it is an odd lot and that the applicant is trying to gain the maximum access.
Chairman Steele acknowledged that he is an owner of CVS Pharmacy stock but that it will not influence his decision making ability.
Kaye clarified that the variance request is the distance from the opposing driveway on Eastlawn and not the distance to the intersection at South Saginaw and Eastlawn. Steele explained that his only concern was the proximity to the intersection.
Motion: It was moved by Holthof and seconded by Lichtenwald to approve Petition No. 14-01 based on the findings of fact for an area/dimension variance at 1015 South Saginaw Road to permit a variance of 111 feet from the required driveway separation standard of 255 feet to permit the proposed westerly driveway on Eastlawn Drive.
Chairman Steele asked for a roll call vote on the motion.
The motion was approved by a vote of 5-0.
4. OLD BUSINESS
5. PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)
6. NEW BUSINESS
7. DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES
a. 13-13 Recorded
b. 14-02 Review Findings of Fact
Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 8:24 p.m.
C Bradley Kaye, AICP, CFM
Director of Planning and Community Development