OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS MINUTES

January 17, 2000

DE NOOYER CHEVROLET (KERWIN ELECTRIC) - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5800 STADIUM DRIVE (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-180-017)

LOWE'S - WEST MAIN MALL 2000, LLC - WEST MAIN MALL AT SOUTHWEST CORNER OF DRAKE ROAD AND WEST MAIN STREET - SIGN VARIANCE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-035)

VAN DOESELAAR - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH RATIO VARIANCE - 10361 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-18-405-016)

WEELDREYER - FRONTAGE VARIANCE - 8339 WEST "H" AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-09-205-032)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, January 17, 2000, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT:
Thomas Brodasky, Chairperson
Millard Loy
David Bushouse
Sharon Kuntzman
Ted Corakis

MEMBER ABSENT:
None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and nine 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 December 6, 1999. Ms. Kuntzman moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Loy seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Next, the Board considered the minutes of December 20, 1999. The Chairperson suggested a change to page 2 with regard to correction of a typographical omission. Mr. Loy moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Mr. Loy moved to nominate Tom Brodasky be elected as Chairperson and Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. Ms. Kuntzman nominated Millard Loy as Vice Chairperson, and Mr. Corakis seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

DE NOOYER CHEVROLET (KERWIN ELECTRIC) - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5800 STADIUM DRIVE (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-180-017)

The Board next discussed the application of DeNooyer Chevrolet (Kerwin Electric) for a variance from Section 78.700 to allow site illumination levels to exceed Ordinance limits along the property perimeter at 5800 Stadium Drive (Parcel No. 3905-25-180-017). The subject property is located in the "C" Local Business District zoning classification. The item was tabled at the December 6, 1999, meeting in order to obtain additional information from the applicant. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia reported that the applicant had provided information that full internal shields would be used on the perimeter light fixtures; the applicant had stated that he found, from site visits with a light meter, that perimeter lighting levels are lower now (with the shields) than the formal levels without shields. Additionally, the applicant proposed that the lights would be on a timer, and that illumination levels would be significantly reduced at 9:30 p.m. Some lighting would be on all night for security reasons. The applicant was not proposing to exceed the 400-watt limit established by the Ordinance. The updated photometric plan provided by the applicant indicated that perimeter illumination levels would average approximately 20 footcandles, which was the same as the 20 footcandle illumination level granted to Mall Hill Chrysler in its variance application.

Attorney James Dyer was present on behalf of the applicant. He emphasized that Mr. Kerwin had made a serious attempt to bring lighting at the site to an average of 20 footcandles so as to be similar to the Maple Hill Chrysler Dealership. He stressed that lighting was needed in the display area so as to make it easier to see into vehicles when the Dealership is operating after dark. He noted that the photometric plan indicates that the lighting levels drop off very quickly at points outside the property line. Mr. Dyer indicated that significantly reduced lighting levels were achieved through "guards" on the fixtures.

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

The Chairperson expressed that he felt that the proposal was very similar to the variance granted to Maple Hill Chrysler. Mr. Loy agreed, and stated that he felt that the decision on this application should be consistent with the decision on the Maple Hill Chrysler application. Further, he was pleased with the amount of "drop off" in lighting levels achieved with the shields.

It was noted that the ground-mounted lights had been removed. It was recognized that conformance was unnecessarily burdensome in that the location of the display area was established by variance in 1983, and the site, prior to the alterations, already exceeds the lighting level limits of Section 78.700. The four additional poles with fixtures would provide more uniform lighting on the site by filling gaps. Further, it was felt that it was significant that the applicant would not exceed the 400-watts per fixture allowed by the Ordinance. It was felt that substantial justice would be served by granting the variance, in that it was similar to that granted to Maple Hill Chrysler. The pre-existing display area was felt to be a unique physical circumstance. It was also felt that the hardship was not self-created, due to the fact that the display area pre-existed the lighting level limitations. It was also felt that the spirit of the Ordinance would be observed, and the public health, safety and welfare secured if the variance were granted, given the 1983 variance for the vehicle display area and the front setback, the prior lighting arrangement, the variance granted to Maple Hill Chrysler and adjacent land uses.

Based upon the analysis of the Board, Mr. Loy moved to approve a variance to allow an average of 20 footcandles at the property perimeter as requested by the applicant conditioned upon use of a timer, which would reduce lighting levels at 9:30 p.m. The motion was seconded by Mr. Corakis, and carried unanimously.

LOWE'S - WEST MAIN MALL 2000, LLC - WEST MAIN MALL AT SOUTHWEST CORNER OF DRAKE ROAD AND WEST MAIN STREET - SIGN VARIANCE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-430-035)

The Board next discussed the application of Sign Art on behalf of West Main 2000, LLC for a variance from Section 76.000 to allow a wall signage package for the future Lowe's building proposed to be constructed on the site of the former West Main Mall. The property is located at the Southwest corner of Drake Road and West Main Street in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia reminded the Board that the subject property is the site of the former West Main Mall, and that the development of a new Lowe's store and movie theater was approved by the Planning Commission in December of 1999. The Zoning Board of Appeals had also granted a variance for a free-standing identification sign package for the entire development and a light variance in December.

The applicant was before the Zoning Board of Appeals requesting a variance for the wall signage to be established for the Lowe's store. The signage would be 26 feet in height, with an area of approximately 332 square feet. Therefore, the applicant was requesting both the height and area variance. The "area" was at issue because of the proposal to affix the wall signage to a "projection" on the Lowe's building facade. Ms. Stefforia noted that the total area was well under the area which would be allowed to the building wall as a whole rather than the projection from the wall.

With regard to the height variance, Ms. Stefforia indicated that the forthcoming text amendments being considered by the Planning Commission would permit wall signs a height of 25 feet. Therefore, she felt that it was reasonable to allow a sign at 25 feet in height, but that the Board should not depart from that height unless the criteria of a non-use variance were met.

Mr. Josh Weiner was present on behalf of the applicant, and stated that the 25-foot height would be acceptable to the applicant. He confirmed that the overall sign package would provide, in area, approximately one-half of that which would be allowed if the wall were a blank/flat wall without a projection. He clarified that 348 square feet rather than 332 square feet was proposed. However, with the change, there would be less visual clutter, in his opinion, because the sign would now only say "Lowe's" rather than "Lowe's Home Improvement." He felt that the variance was justified, given the distance of the building at 1,400 feet from West Main.

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

The Chairperson stated that he felt that the Planning Commission should address, in its proposed text amendment on signage provisions, the issue of measurement of area so as not to penalize developers for utilizing architectural elements to make their buildings visually interesting.

All members of the Board felt that, given the overall length of the wall, without consideration of the projection, the area proposed was reasonable. The Board members felt that this application was analogous to the approval provided to Office Max. In 1998, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance to Office Max to allow a larger wall sign than permitted given the gable upon which the sign would be located.

Mr. Loy moved to approve the wall signage package, allowing for a height of 25 feet and area of 348 square feet on the projection/canopy with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was unnecessarily burdensome;

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance, given the similarity, with regard to area, to the approval for the Office Max wall signage, and with regard to the height, the similarity with the Menards approval and the forthcoming text amendment.

(3) That there were no unique circumstances, and the hardship was self-created. However, the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be served, and the public health, safety and welfare secured if the variance were granted with regard to area in that the variance would allow the main identification sign to be 348 square feet, where the building's front elevation would allow 1,100 square feet of wall signage. As to height, forthcoming text amendments would allow wall signage up to 25 feet in height.

Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Ms. Stefforia noted that the applicant had proposed "shifting around" the free-standing signage approved previously by the Board. She indicated that Sign 4 would be 60 square feet, and Sign 2 would be 170 square feet. Overall, with the amendments, there would be 2 less square feet of signage as proposed by the applicant. No objection was expressed by any Board member.

VAN DOESELAAR - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH RATIO VARIANCE - 10361 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-18-405-016)

The Zoning Board of Appeals next discussed the applicant of Paul and Connie Van Doeselaar for a variance from Section 66.201 to allow the creation of two platted lots in a two-lot plat where the depth of each lot would be more than four times the width of the lots. The subject property is located at 10361 West Main Street in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District zoning classification (Parcel No. 3905-18-405-016). The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the current 9.25 acre parcel was created by a parcel split in 1989, and currently conforms to the dimensional requirements. The property fronts on West Main Street and abuts the new Skyview Estates open space community. The applicant requested a variance from the 200-foot road frontage requirement and the depth-to-width ratio to permit a parcel division in 1993. The request was denied. The same request was again denied on September 13, 1999. On October 28, 1999, the applicants requested and were approved for a two-site condominium development conforming to all dimensional requirements. The applicants had since decided that they would prefer to subdivide their property through the platting process rather than utilizing the site condominium provisions. They proposed the creation of two equally sized lots dimensioned at 165.4 feet by 1,316.4 feet, exceeding the permitted 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio by 655 feet.

Although the staff did not find a similar variance request relating to platting of land, Ms. Bugge reported there were several applications involving only depth-to-width ratio deviations, which had been granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals, most recently that of Vickie Saunders.

Chris Vlachos was present as attorney for the applicant. He stated that he felt that the prior approvals in other applications were similar to the instant one. Further, other parcels in the area were similar in dimension. Therefore, he felt that the variance would be in character with the area. In his opinion, condominiumizing the site would pose a "marketability problem". He felt that there was a "stigma" attached to condominiums. Mr. Vlachos did admit that conforming lots could be created through the platting procedure if a public road were extended into the property. However, more than two lots would be created through such a process.

Mr. Loy was concerned that the Board had never been asked to take one conforming parcel and make two non-conforming parcels. He felt that the proposed application could only be considered if the platting were actually accomplished.

Ms. Kuntzman had questions with regard to the parcels in the vicinity. Ms. Bugge indicated that Parcel No. 18-405-020 was a conforming parcel currently. Parcel No. 18-430-020 was a non-conforming but "grandfathered" parcel. As to Parcel No. 18-430-030, it was granted a variance in 1987 when Parcel No. 040 was split out of it. Ms. Bugge was not sure whether Parcel No. 18-430-030 was "grandfathered". It is vacant at the present time. Parcel 18-430-010 does not conform to Ordinance requirements and has a residence established thereon.

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

Ms. Kuntzman indicated that she would not be opposed to the variance if the applicants carried through with their plan to plat the area. Mr. Corakis agreed, if the plat was limited to two lots.

Mr. Bushouse expressed that he felt that the division into two lots would create lots which are "similar" to parcels in the area. He felt that it was also desirable to create as few lots as possible to be in keeping with the rural character of the area. He did not want to encourage platting to create more than two lots.

Ms. Bugge explained that the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio limitation was intended to insure access to interior lands. It was recognized that with regard to this parcel, interior properties were otherwise accessible.

Ms. Kuntzman moved to approve the variance to allow the creation of two platted lots which would exceed the 4-to-1 depth -to-width ratio requirement as proposed by the applicants with the following analysis:

(1) That although conformance was not unnecessarily burdensome in that the property could be divided in conformance with Ordinance standards, substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance based upon the variances granted in other similar applications and the character of the area;

(2) That there were no unique physical circumstances and the hardship was self-created; however, the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be observed in that there were other methods of access to interior lands. Further, a limitation of two lots on the property was consistent with the purpose of the agricultural zoning district.

Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

WEELDREYER - FRONTAGE VARIANCE - 8339 WEST "H" AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-09-205-032)

The Board next considered the application of Eric Weeldreyer for a variance from Section 66.201 to allow a land division that results in the creation of a parcel which does not have 200 feet of contiguous frontage on a public street. The property is located in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District zoning classification (Parcel No. 3905-09-205-032). The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the applicant owns three abutting parcels consisting of the subject parcel (13 acres), a landlocked parcel (60 acres) and a 16.8 acre parcel containing the applicant's residence which fronted on 6th Street. The applicant was seeking to divide the subject parcel into two parcels, A & B. Parcel A would have 406 feet of frontage on "H" Avenue. Parcel A was proposed to be combined with approximately 30 acres of the landlocked parcel. The other 30 acres of the landlocked parcel would be combined with the applicant's residential parcel on 6th Street. Both resulting parcels would conform to the dimensional requirements of the Ordinance. With regard to Parcel B, although the parcel would have 200 feet of frontage; the frontage would be non-contiguous. Twenty-four feet would be located on the west side of the parcel, and 176 feet on the east side, separated by three existing parcels. Therefore, the applicant sought a variance for Parcel B.

Ms. Bugge noted that, although most frontage variances had been denied, several variance requests involving non-contiguous frontage had been approved, namely West Kalamazoo Christian Church, the Brown application, the Mill Creek Apartments, and the Visser application.

The applicant was present, stating that he was available to answer questions. He explained that he had purchased the property which was the location of his family's farm because he did not wish to see it platted. He stated that he attempted to purchase 24 feet from the neighboring property to the east, but he had been unable to do so.

The Chairperson sought public comment, and Conrad Tisland, a resident of "H" Avenue, Parcel 070, stated that he had no objection to the application but had questions as to the 200-foot road frontage requirement. It was explained that the Ordinance requires 200 feet to be contiguous. Therefore, the applicant was seeking a variance.

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

The Chairperson stated that he did not feel there was a problem with the variance, given that the parcel would have 200 feet of frontage. Other Board members agreed.

Ms. Bugge indicated that the Ordinance Enforcement Officer had expressed a concern that the foundation of the site was "not capped" and was, therefore, dangerous. He had suggested requiring that the foundation be capped within 14 days as a condition of the variance. The applicant was concerned that 14 days would be difficult to comply with, and a compromise of 21 days was agreed upon.

Ms. Kuntzman moved to grant the variance to the proposed Parcel B to allow 200 feet of non-contiguous frontage with the following reasoning:

(1) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance in that other similar applications had been granted.

(2) That the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be served by granting the variance in that the divisions proposed by the applicant would result in two conforming parcels and one non-conforming parcel. All resulting parcels would have road frontage. At present, the applicant owns two conforming parcels and one landlocked parcel. It was felt that the resulting configuration would more closely conform to the spirit and intent of the Ordinance.

(3) It was further felt significant that the applicant had attempted to acquire additional contiguous road frontage and has been unsuccessful.

As a condition of the variance, it was required that:

(1) A cap be placed on the foundation on Parcel B within 21 days.

(2) The re-description of the landlocked parcel to combine 30 acres with Parcel A and 30 acres with the applicant's residence on 6th Street be recorded and on file with the Township.

Mr. Loy seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

1999 YEAR END REPORT

The Board considered the 1999 Year End Report presented by Ms. Stefforia. Proposed changes to the Report were suggested.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

Minutes Prepared:

January 21, 2000

Minutes Approved:

February 7, 2000