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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

June 10, 2002

Agenda

PAUL BROWN - SETBACK VARIANCE - 8410 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-255-020)

PAUL BROWN - SIGN DEVIATION - 8410 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-255-020)

WALGREENS - SETBACK VARIANCE - 5020 WEST MAIN STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-280-050)

WALGREENS - SIGN DEVIATION - 5020 WEST MAIN STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-280-050)

DENNIS AND KAY LAWTON - SETBACK VARIANCE - 9777 WEST MAIN STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-17-305-020

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, June 10, 2002, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Millard Loy
Stanley Rakowski
Dave Bushouse Grace Borgfjord

MEMBER ABSENT: Jill Jensen

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and four 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 May 20, 2002. Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

PAUL BROWN - SETBACK VARIANCE - 8410 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-255-020)

The Board considered the application of Paul Brown for a variance from the provisions of Section 31.403 to allow vehicle display in required setback areas. The subject property is located in the "C" Local Business District zoning classification and is 8410 West Main Street. The property is Parcel No. is 3905-16-255-020. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia stated that the subject property is a grandfathered parcel established prior to 1965. The site, therefore, does not satisfy the minimum area or frontage requirements for the "C" Local Business District zoning classification. The parcel is approximately 75 feet wide and 240 feet deep. Further, the property line intrudes into the right-of-way.

Ms. Stefforia noted that in April of 2002, the applicant had received a special exception use and site plan approval to allow 8410 West Main Street to be used as an automobile sales lot with repair of vehicles as an accessory use. The approval conditioned location of outdoor display on variance approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Section 31.403 limits display by indicating it is prohibited in the setback area. However, due to the narrowness of this site and its size, as well as the existing buildings on site, there is no real area on site for outdoor display in compliance with Ordinance provisions.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed the non-use variance criteria, noting that, in her opinion, conformance was unnecessarily burdensome due to the narrowness of the property and location of existing buildings. The property could not reasonably adhere to Ordinance restriction on display in the setback area.

As to substantial justice, she observed that other automobile sales lots in the Township were allowed to display in the required setback area, citing Maple Hill Auto, DeNooyer, and Metro Toyota. However, with regard to these sites, outdoor sales activity predates Ordinance requirements. Ms. Stefforia stated that she felt that the small size of the property and the presence of existing buildings presented physical limitations that were "unique physical circumstances". Nevertheless, she felt that the hardship was self created by the applicant. As to whether the spirit of the Ordinance would be served, Ms. Stefforia stated that the Planning commission had found that, although not an ideal property layout, the applicant was entitled to some use of this grandfathered, commercially-zoned property. Further, it was significant that there were several properties in the area, which included outdoor display and sales activity. She further noted that this commercial area of the Township differed significantly from others.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, Ms. Stefforia stated that the display area of D & R and Leaders Marine were in compliance with Ordinance standards. However, these sites are larger.

The applicant was present to answer questions. The Chairperson asked about the proposed display, and Mr. Brown stated that he believed there would be six to seven cars displayed at the site. The applicant had received a septic permit from the Health Department and was working on connecting to municipal water.

Mr. Bushouse expressed concern regarding the old gas/service station site across the street and whether this decision would set a precedent to be used on that site. He was also concerned about setting an undesirable precedent for the Leaders and D & R sites. The Township Attorney expressed that the subject site was very distinct from Leaders and D & R due to its size, the level of outdoor sales activity and the fact that there was no practical location on the site for display which would comply with Ordinance requirements. Ms. Stefforia stated that the old gas station property across the street was also small with existing buildings, but she felt that there was area on that site in which display could be located in compliance with Ordinance standards unlike the present site.

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

Mr. Bushouse expressed that he believed the Township should be consistent in this area. He was reticent to grant a variance in this area of the Township. The variances previously granted were in the eastern third of the Township where there was more intense commercial activity. However, he did recognize that there were some exceptional circumstances regarding this parcel, i.e., its small size which pre-exists Ordinance standards and the very small scale outdoor display and sales proposed.

There was discussion of proposed lighting at the site, and it was indicated that lighting would have to comply with Ordinance standards in that no variance had been requested or approved.

Mr. Rakowski commented that, given the size of the site and the small scale of the outdoor display and sales activity proposed, a variance for this site was appropriate as compared to Leaders and D & R. The Chairperson agreed, stating that it was significant that the site is zoned commercially and that the proposed variance would allow the applicant some reasonable use of a pre-existing small site.

Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the variance based upon the analysis of the Board, particularly emphasizing:

(1) The small size of the site which was "grandfathered";

(2) The small scale of the outdoor display and sales activity; and

(3) Existing buildings at the site.

The variance was conditioned on the applicant's compliance with the site plan which would permit up to seven vehicles in the identified display areas. The motion was further conditioned that all vehicles being repaired or awaiting repair were to be parked/stored inside the building. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

PAUL BROWN - SIGN DEVIATION - 8410 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-255-020)

The Board next considered the application of Paul Brown for deviation from Section 76.420 regarding required sign setbacks for the new sign to be established at 8410 West Main Street. The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Stefforia noted that the applicant would like to place a sign along West Main Street. The ordinance currently dictates a 25 foot setback from the right-of-way line. This would place the sign in the parking lot either in a parking space or the aisle. Former requirements of the ordinance required one half the building setback, which in this area generally allowed the sign to be placed at the right-of-way line. The applicant was requesting that his new free-standing sign be allowed to be placed at the right-of-way line in keeping with other signs in the area.

Ms. Stefforia reviewed the criteria for granting deviation. As to whether granting the deviation would be materially detrimental to property owners in the vicinity, Ms. Stefforia noted that other property owners in the vicinity erected signs under the former provisions and therefore had signs at the front property line. She felt that allowing this applicant to have a sign at the right-of-way line would therefore not be detrimental to other owners in the vicinity. As to whether the hardship created by a literal interpretation of the section was due to conditions unique to the building site and did not apply generally to other properties in the Township, Ms. Stefforia observed that there were not many commercial properties in the Township which were as small as the applicant's parcel. She also felt that granting the deviation would not be contrary to the general purpose of the section or set an adverse precedent due to the fact that the parcel in question was very small, narrow, and "grandfathered" with pre-existing buildings. However, she felt that the Township could attach requirements necessary to carry out the spirit and purpose of the section and in the public interest if a deviation were granted, such as limitations on the size of the sign or limitations on wall signage.

Mr. Rakowski questioned the applicant regarding sign height. The applicant stated that the sign would be a pole sign with a 20-foot height. He planned for the sign to be six feet by eight feet in size. He had no specific plans for wall signage but eventually planned to establish some wall or canopy signs. In response to questions from Ms. Borgfjord, the applicant indicated that he would be using neon to illuminate the sign, and that it would be turned off and on by a timer. There was discussion of possibility of a ground-mounted sign, and it was recognized that this may be problematic due to its location in a display area and snow removal problems. As to the proposed location, the applicant indicated that he would like to put the sign 20 feet from the west property line at the front or right-of-way.

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

Mr. Bushouse had questions concerning the size of the Marathon sign, and Ms. Stefforia indicated she felt it was at least 60 square feet. The Chairperson commented that he believed a lower sign height would be more visible at the site, and there were discussions with the applicant of limiting the sign height to 14 feet. Mr. Bushouse stated that he felt 14 feet in height would be reasonable, commenting that given the small size of the building and if this were allowed to be placed at the right-of-way, he would feel that wall signage should be minimal.

Mr. Bushouse moved to grant deviation to allow a 48 square foot sign at a height of up to 14 feet at the right-of-way line with the requirement that no wall signage be established at the site unless the applicant returns to the Board for a determination of what wall signage would be in keeping with the deviation granted herein for the free-standing sign. Mr. Rakowski seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

WALGREENS - SETBACK VARIANCE - 5020 WEST MAIN STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-280-050)

The Board considered the application of Michael T. Bailey of WG-Kalamazoo, LLC/TRZ Investments on behalf of Walgreens for variance from the provisions of Section 64.300 to allow a reduced front setback for a new store to be constructed at 5020 West Main Street. The subject property is in the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification and is Parcel No. 3905-13-280-050. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reported that the applicant is requesting a variance from the required 170-foot setback from the center of West Main Street right-of-way. The applicant was proposing a front setback of 142 feet from the center of the right-of-way. The proposed building would replace the existing Montgomery Ward automotive building which is currently located 95 feet from the center of West Main Street right-of-way. The Planning Commission had approved a site plan and special exception use for the Walgreens at its meeting of May 23, 2002. The original developers of the mall, Forbes-Cohen, had received a variance to allow construction of mall buildings along West Main Street at 100-foot setback.

Ms. Bugge made reference to her Report, which indicated that all the buildings at the mall site, with the exception of Applebee's, were within the required setback area. All buildings, except Applebee's, would be closer than the proposed Walgreens.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Board that the McDonald's building was allowed to rebuild at the setback of the pre-existing building when the old building had been demolished.

She emphasized the placement of a building on the proposed site was restricted by the interior road utilized by the mall properties.

In response to questions from Mr. Bushouse, Ms. Bugge indicated that the mall buildings did not exist prior to 1966 and were established pursuant to a variance.

Mr. Bushouse commented that the existing site would come closer to conformance with Ordinance provisions if this variance were granted.

The applicant, Mike Bailey, along with Tom Zimmer, was present. He also discussed the adjacent buildings and their setbacks. He emphasized that at one time, the entire mall site was one parcel, but that now it had been divided into multiple parcels and that this site had constraints due to the existing mall circulation pattern. Additionally, setting this building back at a greater distance might hamper the redevelopment of the Wards' property. Mr. Bailey indicated that his site plan had already eliminated a row of parking along the front to work within the constraints imposed by the interior mall drives.

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

The Chairperson stated that he felt this would be a welcome development. He also felt it was significant that the building proposed would be in greater compliance with Ordinance standards and would exceed the setback of other buildings in the area with the exception of Applebee's. Further, he felt that the proposal which eliminated two curb cuts to West Main Street would increase traffic safety in the area.

Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the variance based upon the discussion of the Board reasoning that:

(1) Conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, given that this was a redevelopment of an existing site and that the location of the building was hampered by the existing mall circulation pattern.

(2) Substantial justice would weigh in favor of granting the variance and that this redevelopment would bring the site into closer compliance with Ordinance standards since the present building was set back 95 feet and the proposed Walgreens' building would be 142 feet. Further, two drives to West Main were being closed.

(3) Variance would be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Ordinance.

The motion was seconded by Ms. Borgfjord, and it carried unanimously.

WALGREENS - SIGN DEVIATION - 5020 WEST MAIN STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-280-050)

The Board next considered the application of Mike Bailey on behalf of Walgreens for deviation from the provisions of Section 76.170 regarding limitations on wall signage. The applicant was seeking to allow an increase in the number of wall signs permitted for the proposed new Walgreens' building. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the proposed building would be brick, and the south and east sides have architectural details in the form of pilasters or rectangular columns that project slightly from the wall. The applicant was seeking to place its wall signage between the pilasters to make the placement more aesthetically pleasing than the establishment of one long sign flush to the wall. It was noted that the east elevation of the building is allowed 93 square feet of wall signage under the Ordinance and that 80 total square feet were proposed by the applicant. However, the applicant was suggesting on the east elevation that this 80 feet be divided into three segments. The Ordinance allowed the south elevation 131 square feet, and 111 were proposed. As with the east elevation, the applicant was proposing to divide the 111 feet into four segments. There would be an incidental sign indicting the drive-through pharmacy on the north elevation, but this would not count toward the total number of signs at the site. The applicant was, therefore, seeking a total of seven signs, while under the Ordinance, they are entitled to four. The existing Wards building has seven wall signs. Ms. Bugge recounted information as to signage on the other buildings in the area. Again, it was emphasized that the applicant was within the square footage allowed, but due to the architectural elements was exceeding the number of signs permitted.

The applicant was present, stating that it was felt that the proposed wall signage would be more architecturally and aesthetically pleasing. Further, he felt that the proposed signage would allow for visibility from the right-of-way which was impeded by the large canopy trees. The Chairperson commented that he felt that the proposal was more aesthetically pleasing than one long sign on each elevation.

Mr. Bushouse commented that he did not see the need for signage other than that indicating Walgreens. However, it was noted that the applicant could provide the information proposed as one long sign under the Ordinance provisions in that the Ordinance did not regulate the content or message provided by the signage. The signage as proposed would leave the applicant with two blank walls on which no wall signage would be established.

After further discussion, Mr. Rakowski moved to approve the deviation with the condition that the wall signage at the site be limited to those signs proposed by the applicant with no wall signage on the north and west elevations apart from the incidental sign indicating the drive-through location. It was stressed that deviation was appropriate only because the impediment to compliance was based upon the architectural elements unique to the building, i.e., the pilasters. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

DENNIS AND KAY LAWTON - SETBACK VARIANCE - 9777 WEST MAIN STREET (PARCEL NO. 3905-17-305-020.

The Board considered the application of Dennis and Kay Lawton for variance from the provisions of Section 64.200 to allow a reduced setback for a 1,680 square foot accessory building at 9777 West Main Street. The subject site is located in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District and is Parcel No. 3905-17-305-020. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the applicants wished to place a 30 x 60 accessory building within the required front setback which is 170 feet from the center of the West Main Street right-of-way. The applicant was requesting a variance to allow the building to be placed 138 feet from the center of the right-of-way. The subject property, which is 1.8 acres, is located on the south side of West Main Street. Ms. Bugge indicated that there is a 2,065 square foot residence on the site along with a 1,632 foot attached garage built in 1999. The applicant was now seeking to place the 1,800 square foot accessory building on the site in order to store a travel trailer, flatbed trailer and boat.

Ms. Bugge analyzed the non-use variance criteria. As to whether the conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, she stated that the use of the property could continue as is without an additional building. She also emphasized that an accessory building could be placed on the property in accord with the ordinance provisions. However, a landscaped berm might be required to be moved or altered so that this area could be utilized.

As to substantial justice, Ms. Bugge noted that most recently the Mattson application had been denied, in February of 2002. A previous application had been denied, and no action taken on another similar application.

There were no unique circumstances preventing compliance. The landscaped berm was created by the applicant and did not present a physical barrier to compliance. Further, placement of the building was at the discretion of the applicant, and therefore, the hardship was self-created.

There was discussion of the adjacent parcels and the setbacks of buildings thereon. Mr. Rakowski questioned the applicant with regard to the property to the west on which a garage was established. It was noted that this garage was in compliance with the 170-foot setback. Mr. Rakowski asked the applicant about placing his proposed accessory building on his property in the vicinity of the neighbor's garage.

Ms. Bugge presented photographs of the site, and it was indicated that yellow stakes in one photograph indicated the south line of the building.

The applicant was present, stating that the "clear area" on the site next to the existing garage was his septic field. He admitted that the building could be placed at a setback of 170 feet in the vicinity of the neighbor's garage, but that this would require him to eliminate trees and possibly alter his driveway and berm. Alteration of the berm would require removal of eight or more trees. It was pointed out that some of the pine trees on the berm were already dead and in need of removal. The applicant admitted that this was the case.

The applicant stated that the site appeared very wooded from the road, and he believes that the building as proposed would be less conspicuous than if it were placed in the area of the berm.

In response to questions from Ms. Borgfjord, it was pointed out that the site was not part of the Springwood Hills plat.

After further discussion, the applicant admitted that the building could be placed elsewhere but would require the removal of trees and reconfiguration of his drive.

Mr. Bushouse expressed concern about the size of the building, given the other building on site. In his opinion, the addition of this building would not be accessory or incidental to the residential use. The Township Attorney agreed, stating that it appeared that the storage use was the primary rather than incidental use of the site due to the fact that if this building were added, there would be more than double the building area of the home utilized as storage. The applicant stated that he and his wife had "hobbies" in the existing buildings at the site. This also concerned Mr. Bushouse in that he indicated that past experience established hobbies could become small businesses.

It was stressed by the Chairperson that the Board should be consistent with past decisions, particularly Mattson which was decided recently. He felt that if the applicant could bring the building into compliance with Ordinance standards he should do so. In his opinion the other options available to the applicant would indicate that compliance was not unnecessarily burdensome. Mr. Rakowski agreed, stating that the degree of variance was too great. He was also concerned about whether the building would be "accessory".

Mr. Rakowski moved to deny variance, reasoning that:

(1) The hardship was self-created;

(2) The applicant had other options to comply with Ordinance standards, and therefore, compliance was not unnecessarily burdensome; and

(3) The prior precedent would require denial.

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

OTHER BUSINESS

Mr. Bushouse suggested that the Planning Commission consider placing a limitation on the size of accessory buildings in relationship to the living area, i.e., as a percentage of living area. Ms. Stefforia stated that this was on the work plan of the Planning Commission. The Township Attorney stated that under current Ordinance provisions, storage and garage building had to be "accessory or incidental" to the primary use and could not be so excessively large as to be the "primary" use of the site.

Mr. Bushouse indicated complaints had been received regarding lights at the Red Cross building.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:02 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Millard Loy, Chairperson

By:
Stanley Rakowski

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
Grace Borgfjord
Minutes Prepared:
June 13, 2002

Minutes Approved:
, 2002