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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

MINUTES OF MEETING HELD JULY 10, 2000

Agenda

MAPLE HILL AUTO GROUP - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5622 WEST MAIN STREET -(PARCEL NO. 3905-13-180-035)

MAPLE HILL AUTO GROUP - SIGN VARIANCE - 5622 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-180-035)

PELFRESNE - INTERPRETATION OF "I-1" INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT PROVISIONS

KALAMAZOO CENTER FOR HEALING ARTS - VARIANCE - 9TH STREET FOCUS AREA OVERLAY ZONE BUILDINGS SIZE - 6350 WEST KL AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-23-255-021)

BAMBERGER - VARIANCE - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH RATIO - 1890 AND 1980 NORTH THIRD STREET - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-08-455-011 AND 3905-08-455-019)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, July 10, 2000, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

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

MEMBER ABSENT: Millard Loy

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and 8 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 June 5, 2000. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Next, the Board considered the minutes of the special meeting of June 7, 2000. Ms. Kuntzman moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

MAPLE HILL AUTO GROUP - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5622 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-180-035)

The Board considered the application of Jim VandenBerg of Maple Hill Auto Group for a variance from Section 78.700 to allow illumination levels at the perimeter of the property to exceed 0.1 footcandles and to continue the use of 1,000 watt fixtures along the east side of the property at 5622 West Main Street. The lighting variance is requested as part of the facility expansion at Maple Hill Auto Center. The subject property is within the "C" Local Business District zoning classification and is Parcel No. 39805-13--180-035. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia reminded the Board that the dealership use of the subject property predates current Ordinance provisions having been originally built in the 1960's. In 1997, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance to allow the use of 1,000 watt fixtures within the display areas and to permit up to 20 footcandles along the perimeter. The Planning Commission granted special exception use and site plan approval on June 8, 2000, for a new building at the site to house the showroom and service area for the Volkswagen and Audi vehicle lines. As part of the current facilities expansion, the applicant was requesting a variance to allow additional 1,000 watt light fixtures in the parking lot. These fixtures have a roadside shield and are mounted horizontally and perpendicular to the ground.

Mr. VandenBerg was present, stating that three new internal lights would be placed in the parking lot in the area where the used car building would be removed. Five new light posts would be placed along Maple Hill Drive. He felt that the application was unique because car dealerships display all or mostly all of their product outside. Therefore, lighting of the display area is necessary. Moreover, this particular location is in a "highly lighted area". He noted the adjacent land uses. Mr. VandenBerg stated that the applicant sought to use 1,000 watt light fixtures so as to be "uniform" with the remainder of the lighting at the site.

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, Mr. VandenBerg stated that the five lights to be placed along Maple Hill Drive would be "consistent with" the seven existing poles along Maple Hill Drive.

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

The Chairperson stated that he felt a variance was appropriate in that the lighting levels along the perimeter of the property would remain consistent with those previously approved. Mr. Corakis agreed, stating that it was appropriate to allow for consistent or uniform lighting at the site. Further, he recognized the uniqueness of car dealerships and their lighting needs. Ms. Kuntzman agreed. Mr. Bushouse concurred, stating that he recognized the area was a "high light level area". Therefore, he felt a variance was appropriate.

Mr. Corakis moved to grant the variance to allow the eight light poles and fixtures as proposed with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, given the existing lighting arrangement at the site and the desire for uniformity.

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance, given the previous variance granted to the site and similar variances granted to other applications.

(3) That the hardship is not self-created in that the design of the site predates current Ordinance provisions.

(4) That the spirit and intent of the Ordinance would be served given the "high lighting level" in the area.

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

MAPLE HILL AUTO GROUP - SIGN VARIANCE - 5622 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-180-035)

The Board next considered the application of Maple Hill Auto Group for a variance from the provisions of Section 76.125 and previous variance approval conditions so as to allow an additional freestanding sign as part of the facility expansion at Maple Hill Auto Center at 5622 West Main Street. The property is located in the "C" Local Business District zoning classification and is Parcel No. 3905-13-180-035. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

It was noted that the subject site was granted a variance to allow for four freestanding signs in 1981. In 1992, the Zoning Board of Appeals allowed for the replacement of a "grandfathered sign" which had as a condition a reduction in the total number of freestanding signs to three. The former owner of the site agreed to that condition. The applicant was proposing as part of the facility expansion to add a freestanding sign to identify the Audi and Volkswagen car lines, which sign would be placed along Maple Hill Drive near the southern driveway. The most recently erected sign at the site identifies the Hyundai line of vehicles. The two other signs include a Chrysler and a Volvo sign. Ms. Stefforia noted that if the land were vacant and developed today, two signs would be permitted since the parcel is a corner parcel. Under proposed sign text provisions, an automobile sales lot would be allowed two signs, one identifying used vehicles sales and the other for new vehicles. Additionally, the corner property would be permitted two signs. Therefore, under the proposed text, the site would be permitted three signs, one for used car sales and two for new car sales.

Ms. Stefforia expressed concern that other dealerships within the Township also were located on corner parcels. Therefore, she felt that the Zoning Board of Appeals should take into account the precedential nature of the decision and the likelihood that other dealerships would request four freestanding signs to serve their sites.

In response to questioning by Mr. Corakis, Ms. Stefforia stated that the wall signage provisions of the current and proposed sign text were generous. The site would be allowed two square feet for each lineal foot of wall length.

The applicant was present, stating that he proposed to move a VW and Audi dealership located in Portage to this site. He stated that VW and Audi were separate from other car lines handled at the site and that the company demanded its own sign. He noted that his dealership does not own the Volvo or Chrysler signs; these are leased. He felt car dealerships were unique because of the "brands/franchises" which the dealerships have with separate car lines. Moreover, he felt signage would help consumers identify the site. He felt that the car company would not accept wall signage as a substitute.

The Township Attorney stated that since the reasons for the applicant's proposed variance were also applicable to other dealerships, that if separate signs were appropriate for each line of car, a text change rather than variance would be appropriate. There was discussion of the possibility of tabling the item to August 7 so as to have the Planning Commission consider such a revision to the sign text.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Bill Jamieson spoke stating that, in his opinion, nothing had been offered to justify a variance. He stressed that the Zoning Board of Appeals had heard the argument about "franchises" before. He noted that a previous dealership at this site had handled seven car lines. He felt that the site already had excessive signage, citing the "huge" Chrysler sign at 139 square feet.

The public hearing was closed.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the Planning Commission had worked on a number of drafts of the sign text, and she felt that it was inappropriate for "corporations" (in franchise agreements) to dictate the signage within the Township. She indicated that she would not support a text amendment to allow for a separate freestanding sign for each car line. In her opinion, this would expand to non-car dealership sites that could make similar arguments about franchise agreements.

Mr. Bushouse commented that individual dealerships were "large volume businesses". In his opinion, there was a need for identification of each car line. He also felt that customers would be assisted by seeing what is sold at the particular lot.

Ms. Kuntzman indicated that she felt it would be inappropriate to set such a precedent. In her opinion, it would lead to variances for all other dealerships within the Township.

The Chairperson stated that, in his opinion, it was not reasonable to believe that a freestanding sign was the only way for customers to identify the product on the lot. He noted that possibility of wall signage, Yellow Page ads, etc.

Mr. Corakis stated that he felt it would be appropriate for the Planning Commission to consider a text change.

Ms. Stefforia provided a picture to the Board members, showing a sign in the Grand Rapids area which depicted VW, Mercedes, Audi and Volvo on one sign.

Ms. Kuntzman moved to deny a variance with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was not unnecessarily burdensome in that the site could comply with signage limitations. Further, there were other options under the Ordinance, such as wall signage.

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of denying the variance, given that the site already had additional signage over and above that permitted by the Ordinance provisions.

(3) That there were no unique circumstances justifying a variance.

(4) That the hardship was self-created in that the signage configuration was at the option of the applicant.

There was no second for the motion, and the Chairperson declared that the motion had died for non-support.

Mr. Corakis moved to table the item to August 7, 2000, and urge the Planning Commission to consider a text amendment to allow for additional signage to car dealerships. Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion. The motion was not carried in that the vote was 2-to-2 with the Chairperson and Ms. Kuntzman voting in opposition. The Chairperson declared that there had been no action.

It was noted that the item would be considered at the meeting of August 7, 2000.

PELFRESNE - INTERPRETATION OF "I-1" INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT PROVISIONS

The Board next considered the application of James Pelfresne of Great Lakes Plumbing for interpretation of the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance concerning the "I-1" Industrial District concerning a contractor's services/plumbing business which would include a fixtures showroom. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge noted that the applicant is the President of Great Lakes Plumbing which is currently located in Kalamazoo Township. The applicant proposes to move his business to 7268 Stadium Drive. The property in question in zoned "I-1". The applicant described his business as primarily a service and contract business catering to building contractors, residential and commercial customers. The applicant was anticipating the construction of a warehouse, office and plumbing showroom. The question was, whether the plumbing fixture showroom would be allowed in the zoning district. Ms. Bugge felt that the primary issue was whether the showroom would be considered an "accessory building or use" customarily incidental to the permitted use.

The applicant stated the majority of his business involves contractors and homeowners. His business did not target retail sales. The showroom was intended to illustrate product installation. The showroom would provide customers with ideas. He had not decided on total square footage numbers but noted that his current operation utilizes 1,200 square feet of office space and 2,400 square feet of warehousing. He believed that approximately 2,000 square foot would be required for the showroom. He had approximately four people in the field and one office employee. One person would be planned to man the showroom.

Mr. Corakis stated that he felt the showroom use should be located in the Commercial District if it were going to be a "cash and carry" product business. However, he noted that AM Supply on West Michigan within the "I-1" District is a "similar" use.

Ms. Bugge also noted that Blackberry Systems was somewhat similar consisting of warehouse, office and display area. The Blackberry Systems' site is within the "I-1" District and contains about 8,000 square feet of building. Approximately 1,000 square feet are dedicated to showroom.

The Township Attorney expressed the opinion that the Board provide only a general interpretation of the possibility of a showroom as an accessory use to a plumbing contractor service use. If the applicant sought a Zoning Board of Appeals' interpretation as to his specific site and use, a detailed site plan or sketch plan would be necessary.

Mr. Bushouse stated that he would like to have more detail, not necessarily an engineered site plan, but a sketch plan for review.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Mr. Jamieson stated that he felt the "applicant was entitled to an answer" and that the Board should provide the interpretation.

Margaret Csiszar, owner of the property, stated that, in her opinion, the applicant should be able to have the showroom use.

The public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson stated that he believed that a showroom as an accessory would be "O.K." but did not want to see it evolve into a retail business.

Ms. Kuntzman expressed concern about making an interpretation with regard to a certain piece of property. He She felt that the Board should be cognizant of the fact that its interpretation would be applied to the entire "I-1" District.

Mr. Corakis moved to interpret the Ordinance to allow a plumbing fixture showroom as an accessory to a contractor's services use involving a plumbing contractor, noting however that, whether a particular applicant's showroom was in fact accessory, i.e., subordinate to the primary use, would require details as to the specific use as well as sketch plan review. Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

KALAMAZOO CENTER FOR HEALING ARTS - VARIANCE - 9TH STREET FOCUS AREA OVERLAY ZONE BUILDINGS SIZE - 6350 WEST KL AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-23-255-021)

The Board next considered the application of Kalamazoo Center for Healing Arts for a variance from Section 50.401(b) to allow a single-story building of 14,686 square feet, exceeding the limitation of 10,000 square feet pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance. The subject property is located 6350 West KL Avenue within the 9th Street Focus Area Overlay Zone, "R-2" Residential District, and is Parcel No. 3905-23-255-021. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

It was noted that Section 50.401 states that a single-story building in the Overlay Zone not exceed 10,000 square feet in gross floor area. Two-story buildings are allowed to be up to 15,000 square feet in area.

On June 22, 2000, the Planning Commission granted special exception use and site plan approval for the facility subject to variance. The Planning Commission found that this application met the spirit and intent of the Overlay Zone, given the fact that building area and parking would occupy less than 10% of the overall 15-acre site.

Steve Hassevoort, architect for the project, spoke on behalf of the applicant, indicating that the building would only be 2.2% of the site. Most of the 15 acres would be left in its natural state. The building and parking had been designed so as not to be visible from KL Avenue. Further, the location on the site had been designed to minimize the view of the parking area from the treatment portion of the facility. He noted that the applicant had considered a two-story building, but based on the functionability needs of the building and the type of clientele, a one-story building was more workable. He stated that there was a significant wheelchair population utilizing the building, and a single-story building would be more accessible. Further, he felt that designing the building low to the ground would allow minimization of visual impact on the site. The building had been designed to blend in with the nature features. Additionally, two stories would require more square footage because of the space utilized for stairways and elevators.

The Chairperson called for public comment, and Bill Jamieson spoke, stating that he felt that the Overlay Zone should allow for 15,000 square foot single-story buildings. In his opinion, the Planning Commission should consider a sliding scale which allowed square footage based on parcel area.

Jim Herweg, owner of the Healing Arts Center, stated that the project had been designed based on a needs' analysis. On this particular site, a two-story building would be less compatible with the landscape.

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

Mr. Corakis felt that it was significant that the building was designed so as not to be visible from the roadway. He felt that a variance was appropriate in this case, given the uniqueness of the use which favored single-story design. Moreover, he was impressed that the overall site coverage would be less than 10%.

The Chairperson agreed, stating that he preferred the profile of this building to a two-story building. Further, he felt that it was within the spirit and intent of the Ordinance because the overall building size was less than 15,000 square feet.

Mr. Bushouse concurred, noting that the natural features of the site would be preserved. He felt it would be more of a detriment to the area to "cut up" the 15 acres into small lots with a number of 10,000 square foot buildings.

Ms. Kuntzman moved to grant a variance with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, given the 15-acre parcel size and the fact that site coverage would be at less than 10%. Further, the type of use involved, with its large wheelchair population, favored a single-story building.

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance, given the less than 10% site coverage involved. Further, the single-story design would blend with the natural topography and natural features of the site.

(3) That there are unique physical circumstances, given that the use of the building would favor a one-story design due to the large wheelchair population which would be accessing the building.

(4) That the variance would meet the spirit and intent of the Ordinance, since there would be less than 15,000 square feet total within the building, the minimal site coverage, and the lack of visibility from KL Avenue.

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

BAMBERGER - VARIANCE - DEPTH-TO-WIDTH RATIO - 1890 AND 1980 NORTH THIRD STREET - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-08-455-011 AND 3905-08-455-019)

Next, the Board considered the application of George L. Bamberger for a variance from Section 66.201 to allow a re-configuration of two existing parcels where one of the resulting parcels would have a depth greater than four times the width. The subject properties are located at 1890 and 1980 North Third Street (Parcel Nos. 3905-08-455-011 and 08-455-019). The properties are located within the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District zoning classification. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The Chairperson indicated that he was acquainted with Mr. Bamberger and would consider him a friend. He had participated with Mr. Bamberger in an Oshtemo Citizens Group. The Chairperson indicated that he had no financial interest in the properties and had not seen Mr. Bamberger for a couple of years. In his opinion, his prior acquaintance with Mr. Bamberger would have no influence on his decision regarding the variance. It was agreed that no abstention would be necessary.

Ms. Bugge emphasized that both resulting parcels would have sufficient frontage. The applicant is the owner of Parcel 08-455-011 being referred to as Parcel A at 1980 North Third Street. The applicant wished to purchase Parcel B, which is Parcel No. 08-455-019 at 1890 North Third Street. He proposed adding the rear 30 acres of Parcel B to Parcel A. This re-configuration would result in Parcel C, which would exceed the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio requirement and Parcel D, which would meet both frontage and depth-to-width requirements. The applicant agreed that the interior or back 30 acres would not be developed without the addition of a road.

The applicant was present, stating that he had not yet purchased the property.

Mr. Jamieson had questions about the application. The public hearing was closed.

After further discussion, Mr. Corakis moved to grant a variance to allow the re-configuration with the following reasoning:

(1) That conformance was unnecessarily burdensome in that the re-configuration would be a "re-description", which would only change the point of access to the rear acreage. Each property would have 220 feet of frontage.

(2) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance in that other similar variances had been granted, and re-description would result in essentially the same configuration as that which existed.

Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion, which was conditioned on no further development of the parcel which would exceed the 4-to-1 depth-to-width ratio requirement without extension of a roadway or land division through platting or site condominiumizing the property. The motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Thomas Brodasky, Chairperson

By:
Ted Corakis

By:
Sharon Kuntzman

By:
David Bushouse

Minutes Prepared:
July 13, 2000
Minutes Approved:
August 7, 2000