OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS MINUTES

December 21, 1998

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Agenda

UPPAL - INTERPRETATION OF WHETHER A GAS PUMP IS A "STRUCTURE" - SECTION 11.570

UPPAL - VARIANCE REQUEST AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 8739 WEST MAIN

MEETING SCHEDULE

YEAR-END REPORT

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A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, December 21, 1998, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.

MEMBERS PRESENT:

Brian Dylhoff, Chairperson
Thomas Brodasky
David Bushouse
William Saunders
Lara Meeuwse

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Township Planning and Zoning Department, Scott Paddock, Ordinance Enforcement Officer, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and nine (9) other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

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

MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of December 7, 1998. In addition to the changes suggested by Ms. Stefforia, the Chairperson suggested a change to page 9 to indicate that Ms. Meeuwse withdrew her motion. Mr. Brodasky moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

UPPAL - INTERPRETATION OF WHETHER A GAS PUMP IS A "STRUCTURE" - SECTION 11.570

The next item was the application of Jogi Uppal for Zoning Board of Appeals interpretation of whether a gasoline pump is considered a "structure" as defined in Zoning Ordinance Section 11.570. The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that she had suggested interpretation to the applicant in that there is an 85’ supplemental setback applicable to the property on the west side due to its location adjacent to agricultural zoning.

Mark Granger, architect for the proposed project of Mr. Uppal, i.e., a service station, stated he was present representing the applicant, along with the Uppals and others. Mr. Granger stressed that the item at issue was a gas dispenser (rather than gas pump, which he stated was located in the ground). He stated he felt that such a gas dispenser was not a "structure." It was agreed that the dispenser is commonly referred to by the public as a pump.

Ms. Meeuwse inquired as to whether the gas pump/dispenser was affixed to the ground. Mr. Granger stated that there is no foundation under the dispenser but that it is bolted with four bolts to the plastic sump underneath. There is a 4" concrete island around the gas dispenser. Mr. Granger stressed that, in his experience, other communities did not consider gas dispensers as subject to setback provisions.

Ms. Meeuwse stated that she felt the dispenser/pump was a structure in that it was not movable and was attached to the ground. Mr. Brodasky agreed, stating that he did not feel there was any way to "get around" the definition.

Mr. Bushouse inquired as to the setback of the dispensers at the Shell station on Stadium Drive. It was stressed that these pumps/dispensers are not subject to a supplemental setback in that this station does not abut residential or agricultural property. It was noted that normally structures are not subject to setbacks. However, the ordinance does include a specific provision in Section 64.400 for service station equipment. Further, the supplemental setback provisions of Section 64.700 apply to both buildings and structures.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Kadir Mohmand stated that he felt Oshtemo Township was prejudiced toward persons of other nationalities. He stressed that he felt that this applicant should be treated as other "Anglo-Saxon people" were treated. Ms. Meeuwse responded that she had no idea what race the applicant was and she did not feel it was pertinent to her decision-making. Other members agreed.

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

Mr. Bushouse questioned Ms. Stefforia as to whether any phone calls or comments had been received from the owners of property to the east and west. Ms. Stefforia responded that none had been received by the Township. Mr. Bushouse stated he felt that a gasoline dispenser was akin to a utility pole or utility box and therefore should not be subject to setback. However, he agreed that it was a structure.

Mr. Brodasky moved, based upon the definition of Section 11.570, to interpret the Zoning Ordinance as providing that gas pumps/ dispensers are structures and that they are constructed, assembled or erected and are attached to the ground or attached to something on or in the ground. Such items are not mobile. Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

 

UPPAL - VARIANCE REQUEST AND SITE PLAN REVIEW - 8739 WEST MAIN

The next item was the application of Mr. Uppal for variance from the Zoning Ordinance so as to allow a reduced front yard setback for a structural canopy over the gasoline pumps. Further, a second variance would allow placement of two gasoline pumps in the required side yard setback. Additionally, the applicant requested site plan review of a proposed new gasoline station. The requested variances and site plan review are pertaining to the property at 8739 West Main Street.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. It was noted that the proposed gasoline pumps/dispensers on the west side of the property were within the area required under the supplemental setback provision. The applicant stated that the pumps on the west side were planned to be diesel. There was some discussion of whether this would lead to semi-truck traffic, and Mr. Saunders agreed with the applicant’s statements that it was not likely that semi-trucks would seek service at this site; the diesel pumps would be directed toward diesel passenger cars and pick-up trucks.

Ms. Stefforia inquired as to whether it was possible to make the parcel wider in that the applicant apparently had two parcels under land contract. Mr. Granger stated that the applicant had development plans for the second parcel, and therefore it could not be combined with the subject site. Mr. Brodasky questioned whether the site could be redesigned to come into compliance with ordinance provisions. In response, the applicant stated that the car wash on the east side had originally been located on the west but its location "switched" because of the supplemental setback provision. The property to the east is commercial in zoning, and therefore the setback required is 20’. The Chairperson inquired as to whether one set of diesel pumps could be removed. Mr. Granger stated that diesel pumps were arranged so that trucks could pull between and "simultaneously" fuel the tank on each side of a truck. However, the applicant stated that everything on the site could be shifted to the east somewhat.

There was inquiry as to whether the canopy would be attached to the building, and the applicant stated that it would not be attached but would merely overhang the building. Since the canopy would be on a separate pole system and not attached to the building, no variance would be required.

Mr. Brodasky asked whether the car wash could be located to the back of the site and the diesel pumps located on the east side. Mr. Granger felt that an alternate design, putting the car wash to the back of the site, would "lose the security which was provided by its visibility." It was noted that the car wash is a potential "future" item, and therefore the applicant would have to return to the Township Zoning Board of Appeals for approval at such time as the structure was to be built.

There was discussion of the proposed distance of the diesel dispenser from the west property line. The applicant responded that there was a scattering of natural trees, which the applicant planned to supplement with pine trees for screening in a 10’ area on the west side. The asphalt would be an additional 15’, leaving a distance of approximately 25’ from the west line to the diesel pumps/dispensers.

The Chairperson inquired as to site lighting, and the applicant indicated that they would meet lighting ordinance provisions. There was discussion of whether the "bulbs" in the lighting would be recessed rather than "globes." The applicant stated that their intent was to use recessed bulbs. After further discussion, it was determined that there was 28’ from the eastern line of the property to the car wash. Therefore, the site improvements could be moved 8’ to the east, which would increase the proposed distance to approximately 33-35’ from the west line to the dispenser.

Ms. Meeuwse commented that variances previously granted were for properties where improvements pre-existed ordinance provisions. She felt it was important that ordinance provisions be met where there was a "clean slate" in that the property was undeveloped. Mr. Saunders agreed, noting that he was also disturbed about the size of the variance being requested. Ms. Meeuwse commented that she felt the applicant should attempt to redesign the site and return to the Board. In her opinion, compliance with ordinance provisions was possible if the car wash were eliminated.

The Chairperson sought public comment, and none was offered. The public hearing was closed.

Mr. Brodasky commented he believed that an undesirable precedent would be established if a variance of this size were approved.

Mr. Saunders moved to deny the variance with the following reasoning:

(1) That compliance was not unnecessarily burdensome. There were other options for design at the site; for example, there is room on the east side to locate the pumps in question. The car wash could be eliminated. Therefore, it was possible to comply with ordinance setback provisions and still establish the subject use.

(2) That substantial justice would not be served by granting the experience variance in that no other variances of this degree had been granted. Further, other service stations, such as the Meijer station on West Main, had been required to comply with the supplemental setback provisions of the ordinance.

(3) That there were no unique physical circumstances of the property preventing compliance.

(4) That the hardship was self-created in that the design of the site was at the applicant’s discretion.

(5) That the spirit and intent of the ordinance would not be achieved by granting a variance in that the ordinance provides for setback provisions specific to service station equipment, but this provision does not supersede the supplemental setback applicable where a commercial property abuts an agricultural or residential property. Further, a variance of this magnitude (over two-thirds of the setback required) would be out of keeping with the ordinance’s intent.

Ms. Meeuwse seconded the motion.

Mr. Bushouse commented he realized that the property was currently undeveloped, but he felt that the pumps/dispensers were akin to telephone poles and utility boxes, which are typically located along property lines. He felt that the site plan as proposed by the applicant was "logically laid out." Further, he felt that this area was in transition and he did not believe the property to the west would ultimately be developed with a residential use.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried 4:1 with Mr. Bushouse voting in opposition.

After some discussion, the applicant suggested tabling the item site plan review so that another site plan could be submitted.

Mr. Saunders moved to table the item to the meeting of January 18, 1999. Mr. Brodasky seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

 

MEETING SCHEDULE

The Board next considered the proposed meeting schedule for calendar year 1999. Mr. Brodasky moved to approve the proposed meeting schedule, and Mr. Saunders seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

 

YEAR-END REPORT

The Board briefly considered the year-end report concerning the activity of the Board during calendar year 1998.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 4:25 p.m.

Minutes Approved: January 18, 1999

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