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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

April 17, 2000



Agenda

GLEASON - SETBACK VARIANCE - 1680 NORTH 3RD STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-08-455-050)

LAURENCE CONSTRUCTION - SETBACK VARIANCE - 1234 WICKFORD DRIVE (PARCEL NO. 3905-18-175-110)
                                                                                                                                           
A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, 
April 17, 2000, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT:	
Thomas Brodasky, Chairperson
David Bushouse
Sharon Kuntzman
Ted Corakis
Millard Loy
						
MEMBER ABSENT:
None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and 
Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and six other interested persons.


CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m.


MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of March 20, 2000.  Mr. Corakis moved to approve 
the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion.  The motion carried unanimously.


GLEASON - SETBACK VARIANCE - 1680 NORTH 3RD STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-08-455-050)

The Board considered the application of David Gleason for a variance from the side and rear 
yard setback requirements of Section 64.200 to allow an addition to an existing barn at 
1680 North 3rd Street (Parcel No. 3905-08-455-050).  The subject site is located within the 
“AG” Agricultural-Rural Zoning District classification.  The Report of the Planning and Zoning 
Department is incorporated herein by reference.  Ms. Stefforia stated that the applicant’s 
barn was built in 1971 at a location 15 feet from the south property line.  At that time, 
the Ordinance required a ten foot setback.  In 1996, the Ordinance was amended requiring an 
accessory building’s setback to be the height of the building at its highest point, or ten feet, 
whichever is greater.  The barn, at 24 feet in height, became non-conforming.  The applicant 
was proposing the removal of a lean-to on the back of the barn and the construction of an 
addition (22 feet x 30 feet) in line with the existing 15-foot side line setback.  However, 
the addition would be only 12 feet from the rear yard property line.  The proposed addition 
was anticipated to be 20 - 22 feet in height.  Therefore, the addition would encroach into 
the required setback from the rear property line.  Ms. Stefforia reminded the Board that it 
had granted variances in the past to allow additions which were in line with an established 
non-conforming setback.

The Chairperson called upon the applicant who stated that the lean-to needs to be rebuilt.  
He was seeking to place an addition on the barn which would be more in character with the 
structure and would have a barn style roof.  The Chairperson expressed concern that the
 proposal of the applicant would make the structure more non-conforming with the Ordinance 
requirements.  He asked whether the applicant could reduce the height of the proposed addition, 
or reduce its size so as to become conforming.  The applicant admitted that changes to the 
configuration of the addition could be made.  For example, it could be decreased in size to 
20 x 22 feet rather than 22 x 30 feet.  Mr. Bushouse had questions for the applicant with regard 
to the distance between the barn and the residence on the property.  The applicant admitted that 
there were approximately 200 feet between the barn and the home, and that an addition could be 
placed on the front of the barn.  However, the applicant stated that the layout of the interior 
was not conducive to placing the addition toward the front.  Further, the applicant stated that 
there was a pine tree about 20 feet in front of the barn which would have to be cut down if the 
addition were placed in that location.  Mr. Loy expressed that he would have no objection to 
allowing the lean-to to be removed and an addition placed so as to maintain the non-conformity, 
i.e., 15 feet from the side line of the property.  However, he was concerned about adding more 
non-conformity by allowing the barn to come too close to the rear property line.  The Chairperson
agreed, noting that the applicant was seeking an extensive variance.  The applicant stated that 
he could keep the addition in conformance if a flat roof were used.  In response to questions 
from Mr. Bushouse, the applicant stated that he would be pouring over the existing cement floor 
and not using any of the existing improvements with the building addition.  Ms. Stefforia noted 
that scaling the building addition at 20 x 22 feet would allow the addition to comply with the 
rear setback line requirement.

No public comment was offered, and the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson expressed concern about setting a precedent, and Mr. Corakis agreed, stating that
if the applicant scaled back his proposed addition, he could comply with Ordinance requirements.  
There were also many other options for compliance.  The remaining Board members concurred.

Mr. Loy moved to deny the rear line setback variance with the following reasoning:
(1)	That conformance was not unnecessarily burdensome in that the applicant had many other 
options to allow compliance with the rear line setback requirement of the Ordinance.  Granting 
a variance would allow for an increase in the non-conformity of the structure with Ordinance 
standards.
(2)	That substantial justice would weigh against granting the variance in that such variances
were typically not granted except to allow for placement in line with existing non-conforming 
structures.  This variance would allow for an increase in non-conformity.
(3)	That there were no unique physical circumstances or limitations preventing compliance.
(4)	That the hardship was self-created, in that the design and placement of the addition 
was at the option of the applicant.
Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Loy moved to grant a variance to allow an addition placed at 15 feet from the side line with 
the following reasoning:
(1)	That conformance was unnecessarily burdensome in the that the existing barn predated 
Ordinance requirements, and a variance would allow for placement in line with the existing 
building.
(2)	That substantial justice would weigh favor of granting the variance in that other 
similar variances had been granted in the past.
(3)	That the hardship was not self-created in that the 15 foot setback, predated Ordinance 
standards.  The variance would not increase non-conformity.
Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

LAURENCE CONSTRUCTION - SETBACK VARIANCE - 1234 WICKFORD DRIVE (PARCEL NO. 3905-18-175-110)
The Board considered the application of Laurence Construction for a variance from the side yard 
setback provisions of Section 64.200 for a single family residence under construction at 
1234 Wickford Drive (Parcel No. 3905-18-175-110).  The subject property is located in the 
“AG” Agricultural-Rural Zoning District classification.  The Report of the Planning and Zoning 
Department is incorporated herein by reference.  Ms. Bugge presented a survey obtained by the 
applicant which had been received by the Township just before the meeting.  The survey showed 
that the home under construction was 4.65 feet from the sideline at the southeast corner of the 
home.  Ms. Bugge said that a building permit had been issued for the single family home on 
Lot 11 on January 19, 2000.  The site plan submitted with the building application indicated 
that the side setback would be at 17 feet.  No request had been made for inspection of the 
staking of the setback footings of the basement walls.  On February 1, 2000, the Township 
conducted an inspection after the basement walls had been poured.  Based upon the existing 
placement of the stakes representing property lines, no problem was detected.  On February 29, 
2000, Phil Niedzielski, on behalf of the applicant, called the Township with concerns that the 
side setback was not in conformance.  He inquired about a variance and said that a survey had 
been requested.  The staff advised that the Township could not evaluate conformance until the 
property line was staked after survey.  Work apparently continued upon the house until a stop 
work order was placed on the home on March 29, 2000.

Mr. Loy expressed concern about granting a variance under the circumstances.  He was concerned 
that the builder had not requested the proper inspections at the proper times from the Township.  
Ms. Bugge indicated that the applicant had proposed the possibility of buying extra land from 
the neighboring property owner.  However, the neighbor had since indicated that they were not 
willing to sell any property to the applicant so that the existing location would be in 
conformance with setback standards.  

Phil Niedzielski was present on behalf of the applicant, stating that he had staked out the house
himself and had intended that the house be parallel to the property line.  He was not sure how 
the home’s orientation was moved, but suspected that it occurred at the time of excavation of 
the location of the basement.  Mr. Niedzielski indicated that construction had stopped by 
March 11, 2000.  He stated that the only work that was performed after the error was discovered 
was to enclose the structure to protect from the elements.  He did not dispute that the Township 
did not approve the setback of the basement.

Mr. Corakis expressed concern that the Board be consistent with past decisions, such as Modderman
in which the builder had been required to move the structure. Jim Laurence was also present on 
behalf of the applicant. There was discussion of whether the home would have an overhang which 
would render it even closer to the sideline setback.  Mr. Niedzielski indicated that there would 
be an 8-inch overhang on the building, therefore, the sideline setback would be less than four 
feet.  Scott Paddock was present and stated that he first inspected the site after the basement 
had been poured.  At that time, the stakes representing the property lines were in a location 
different than currently placed, especially on the south side.  He stated that normally the 
first inspection is a setback inspection when the location of the footing and/or basement is 
merely staked.  For this project, an inspection was not requested until the basement was 
already in.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and a Mr. and Mrs. Neckermann, the neighboring property
owners to the south, expressed concern with the impact on their property value that the setback 
problem would pose.  Mr. Neckermann stated that when he had purchased his home, all the lots 
were staked.  He was concerned when construction began on this property that there were no 
stakes at all.  Mr. Neckermann indicated that many neighbors had commented on how close the 
structure is to his home.  He felt that there was a very small distance between the properties 
and presented photographs to the Board depicting the distance between his existing home and the 
structure under construction on Lot 11.  Mrs. Neckermann stated that she feels like the structure
under construction is right in their back yard.

Mr. Terry Schley, the neighboring property owner on the north side, stated that he felt the 
structure posed a severe problem.  He was concerned about the owners of the residence under 
construction, but felt that the Board should not grant a variance.  He noted that he had 
personally helped the builder locate the northwest corner of the subject property, and stated 
that he has a fence six inches north of the boundary between his property and Lot 11.  
Therefore, he felt that it would be easy to orient the house correctly.  He stated that plat 
restrictions required a 12-foot rather than 10-foot setback.  He noted that the survey presented 
by the applicant showed a 70-foot-wide home, but the building permit showed only a 66-foot-wide 
home was proposed.  Mr. Schley stated that he did not feel this was an error by the Township and 
that it was the builder’s problem.  As an architect, Mr. Schley stated that architects and 
builders must deal with the issue of survey and placement of buildings all the time.  He, 
therefore, felt that the builder’s should have been able to properly place this building.  In 
his opinion, the Township must support its Ordinance so that neighbors and other property owners 
could count on it.  Mr. Schley felt that the proposed structure could be remedied through 
building modification.  Frank Sneider, the owner of the structure under construction, stated 
that he and his builder had not tried trick anyone.  He felt that his builder was honest and 
that the mistake was honestly made. 

There was no other public comment, and the public hearing was closed.

Mr. Loy stated that he could not see granting a variance under the circumstances, particularly 
since the applicant had not obtained a setback inspection from the Township.  He was also 
concerned about the magnitude of the variance and that the setback of the building from the 
sideline would be less than four feet.  In his opinion, the applicant would need to redo the 
basement foundation or modify the building.

Mr. Loy moved to deny the variance based upon the following reasoning:
(1)	That conformance was not unnecessarily burdensome.  The lot, as configured,was buildable.
The building permit illustrated that the home could be properly placed on the site in 
compliance with setback requirements.
(2)	That substantial justice would weigh against granting the variance in that similar 
variances had been denied in the past.
(3)	That the hardship was self-created.
(4)	That there were no unique physical circumstances preventing compliance with the 
Ordinance.
(5)	That the spirit of the Ordinance would not be served by granting a variance.
Mr. Corakis seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT
There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00  p.m.


Minutes Prepared:
April 20, 2000

Minutes Approved:
May 1, 2000