OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

February 24, 2004

Agenda

ELZINGA - VARIANCE - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH - 2051 NORTH 2ND STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-07-430-026)

HOIKKA - VARIANCE - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH - 96 SOUTH 1ST STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-19-130-021)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, February 24, 2004, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Millard Loy, Chairperson
Grace Borgfjord
Duane McClung
James Turcott

MEMBER ABSENT: Dave Bushouse

Also present were Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; James W. Porter, Township Attorney; and approximately eight other interested persons.

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.

MINUTES

The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of December 16, 2003. Mr. Turcott moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Borgfiord seconded the motion. The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

ELZINGA - VARIANCE - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH - 2051 NORTH 2ND STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-07-430-026)

The Chairman indicated the first item on the agenda was the application request of Steve and Lisa Elzinga for the property located at 2051 North 2nd Street. The Chairman said that the property was in the "RR" Rural Residential District and that the applicants were requesting a variance to allow a land division resulting in two parcels which exceed the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio. He said it was a request for a variance from the standards of Section 66.201 of the Township Zoning Ordinance.

The Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Staff. Ms. Bugge presented her Report dated February 24, 2004, to the Board, and the same is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Bugge described the parcel to the Board, providing overhead maps of the existing parcel and how the parcels would appear, if split as requested. Ms. Bugge reviewed the standards for approval of a non-use variance to-wit: unnecessary hardship, is conformance unnecessarily burdensome, are reasonable options for compliance available, and does reasonable use of the property exist with denial of the variance. Ms. Bugge went on to review the substantial justice standard, pointing out the previous splits granted to Saunders, VanDoeselaar & Taylor in similar situations. She then referenced the unique physical circumstances, stating that perhaps the depth of the property could be considered a unique physical circumstance. While she admitted that the creation of two lots would be self-created, she noticed that the Board should consider if the spirit of the Ordinance would likely be observed, and the public health, safety and welfare could be secured, in that, the division of the subject parcel, into two equal parcels, would make it similar in depth to adjacent parcels.

The Chairman called for comments on Ms. Bugge's Report. Mr. Turcott asked if there were a lot of properties like this in the area. Ms. Bugge indicated that there were others that faced similar depth-to-width issues.

The Chairman asked if there were any further questions of Ms. Bugge, and hearing none, asked to hear from the owners. Steve and Lisa Elzinga said that they thought Ms. Bugge presented their situation quite well to the Board and asked if there were any questions. Ms. Stefforia asked why they would propose splitting the property in half rather than splitting a smaller portion off which would meet the dimensional requirements of the Ordinance, leaving an L-shaped parcel as the remainder portion. Mr. Elzinga said that if they decided to sell the property, he thought it was better to sell two identical properties than one small parcel and one odd-shaped parcel. He also noted that there was a natural tree line down the center of the property and thought that it would be easier to divide the property along that natural division line rather than creating an L-shaped parcel.

The Chairman asked if there was anyone else in the audience who wished to comment. Richard Rakowski told the Board that he had concerns about creating these long, narrow properties which he referred to as "bowling alley properties". He said he thought that the Township should try to keep the properties uniform and in compliance with the Township Ordinance. The Chairman asked if there were any further comments, and hearing none, closed the public portion of the meeting.

The Chairman called for deliberations of the Board. The Chairman did note that in the past the Board had granted similar variance requests in order to maintain consistency with the properties in the area. The Chairman said that they had tried to avoid creating L-shaped parcels in the past.

The Chairman called for other comments. Mr. McClung said that if they did grant the request, it certainly would not be out of character with how the property in the area is currently developed. The Chairman said that was true and that it would certainly be consistent with what they had done in the past. The Chairman also noted that they had allowed splits for some properties which were even narrower than the one currently before them. Ms. Borgfjord said she thought the property was quite rolling and asked, if it was divided, whether it was still buildable. Mr. Elzinga said that there would be suitable building sites located on both parcels.

Mr. Turcott said that the Board had set precedent in the past, and it seemed clear to him that the proposed variance would be consistent with the surrounding properties.

The Chairman asked the Board if any of the Board members wanted to make a motion. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the variance as requested. The motion was seconded by Mr. Turcott. The Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, he called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

HOIKKA - VARIANCE - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH - 96 SOUTH 1ST STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-19-130-021)

The Chairman indicated that the next item was consideration of the request of Jeff and Kari Hoikka. The request was for the property at 96 South 1st Street, (Parcel No. 3905-19-130-021) located in the "RR" Rural Residential District. He said the request was to grant a variance to allow a parcel with a depth of more than four times the average width to be considered buildable. He said this request was made pursuant to Section 66.201, being the dimensional standards of the Township Zoning Ordinance.

The Chairman called for a Report from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia presented her Report to the Board dated February 24, 2004, and the same is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia said the request is not dissimilar from the one just granted by the Township. She explained that the property was split by fulfillment of a 1982 land contract, and it was not grandfathered under the Township Zoning Ordinance. She reviewed the standards for approval of a non-use variance with the Board, including conformance being unnecessarily burdensome, whether reasonable options for compliance were available and does reasonable use of the property exist with denial of the variance.

Under the substantial justice standard, Ms. Stefforia reviewed the Gilchrist, Saunders, VanDoeselaar, Palm, Pattison and Campbell property variances granted in the past. She reviewed the unique physical characteristics, being both the depth of the property as well as the properties north and south of the site having similar physical characteristics. She also explained that selling off the rear portion of the property would bring it into compliance but was not practical in that it would leave 800 feet of depth of the property unusable to the applicant.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the problem was created by a previous owner. However, she noted that the spirit of the Ordinance could likely be observed and public health, safety and welfare secured, given the intent of the Ordinance and past decisions and granting the variance would make the property consistent in depth to the surrounding neighboring parcels. Mr. Turcott asked if the property was unbuildable when it was purchased. Ms. Stefforia said it was, but she did not believe that the buyers were aware of it. She said that, while the applicants had acquired the property from their in-laws, who had not actually split the property but had purchased it from another party.

The Chairman asked to hear from the owners. Kari Hoikka explained to the Board that they had purchased property from their in-laws, had planted some trees on the property and then discovered that the property was not buildable. She said that without the variance, the property was not of any use to her and her husband and asked the Board to grant the variance.

The Chairman asked if there was any comments from the audience. Mr. Jack Kelly said he did not have a problem with the granting of the variance but wanted to know where the property was in location to his property on Van Kal. Ms. Stefforia said the subject property likely abutted the rear property line of his property or was just north of his property. Mr. Kelly thanked Ms. Stefforia for the information and said he had no further comment.

The Chairman closed the public portion of the meeting and called for deliberation of the Board. The Chairman said that he thought this was pretty straight forward and should be granted because it would keep all the rear property lines even. The Chairman said that, while it was not an ideal situation, it was better to keep the properties uniform than to create odd-shaped parcels. Mr. Turcott said he had no problem granting the request.

The Chairman asked if there were further discussion and hearing none, asked for a motion on the matter. Mr. McClung made a motion to grant the variance as requested. The motion was seconded by Ms. Borgfjord. The Chairman called for further discussion, hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

The Chairman asked if there was any other business to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals, and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at approximately 3:20 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Millard Loy, Chairperson

By:
Grace Borgfjord

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
Duane McClung

By:
James Turcott

Minutes Prepared:
February 27, 2004

Minutes Approved:
, 2004