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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

March 25, 2003

Agenda

EICHELBERG - FRONTAGE AND AREA VARIANCE - 2632 SOUTH 11TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-335-015)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, March 25, 2003, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

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

MEMBERS ABSENT: None

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Planning Director; Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney; and two 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 February 25, 2003. Mr. McClung moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

EICHELBERG - FRONTAGE AND AREA VARIANCE - 2632 SOUTH 11TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-335-015)

The Board considered the application of Frank Eichelberg, which had been tabled from the meeting of February 25, 2003. The applicant requested a variance from the requirements of Section 66.201 so as to allow a parcel that does not meet the minimum frontage and area requirements be buildable. The subject property is located at 2632 South 11th Street within the "R-3" Residence District zoning classification and is Parcel No. 3905-25-335-015. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Board that the subject parcel has 195 feet of frontage where 200 feet is required. The area of the parcel is approximately 37,000 square feet, and the Ordinance requires 50,000 square feet. She noted that the unusually-shaped adjacent property (shaped as two triangles) had sought a frontage variance which had been denied in 1989.

At the request of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Township Staff had researched the status of nonconforming parcels in the area. Ms. Bugge indicated that there are 13 nonconforming parcels north of Crystal Lane and south of the AT&T right-of-way. Seven of the parcels were legally nonconforming or "grandfathered", and therefore, they are considered buildable. The remaining parcels, including the subject site, were not "grandfathered".

Ms. Bugge noted that the legally nonconforming parcels ranged from 75 to 120 feet of frontage and that the area of those parcels ranged from approximately 41,000 to 123,500 square feet.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the variance criteria.

As to whether conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, Ms. Bugge reminded the Board that the applicant had other options, such as platting or site condominiumizing the subject property, so as to bring it into conformance with Ordinance requirements. Moreover, the adjacent property was vacant, and therefore, there was the possibility of acquiring additional frontage.

Concerning whether substantial justice would be done by granting the variance, Ms. Bugge reviewed the Zoning Board of Appeals' decisions concerning past similar applications. It was noted that the Pattison application had been granted conditioned upon a road easement to a large area of landlocked property. The Trowbridge application had been granted since no other property could be acquired.

As to whether there were any unique physical circumstances justifying the application, Ms. Bugge felt that there were no such circumstances. The hardship, in her opinion, was self-created, in that the current configuration of the parcel existed at the time of its purchase.

As to whether the spirit of the Ordinance would be observed and the public health, safety and welfare secured, Mr. Bushouse expressed that, given the number of parcels in the area which were legally nonconforming or "grandfathered", he felt that the character of the area would weigh in favor of granting the variance in question. Further, he felt it would further the interests of the Ordinance and observe public health, safety and welfare to limit the site to one building area rather than creating two. He observed that the applicant could create two units or lots through site condominiumizing or platting. Further, the frontage on the property in question greatly exceeds that of other legally nonconforming parcels in the area, and the degree of variance requested was not large. He also felt that the fact that there had been a house on the property prior to the division which created its nonconforming status was important. Mr. Bushouse felt that the variance would not be detrimental to adjacent properties or the Township as a whole, and that public health, safety and welfare would be observed.

Addressing whether conformance would be unnecessarily burdensome, Mr. Bushouse acknowledged that there were other options for the applicant, but he felt that a variance to allow the site to be developed as one parcel rather than two would be preferable under the Ordinance.

Mr. Turcott had questions for Ms. Bugge concerning whether a text amendment would be appropriate. Ms. Bugge and the Township Attorney explained that, if the hardship suffered by the applicant was so general in natural so as to apply to a great number of properties in the area, and the Township felt that this hardship should be rectified, a text amendment rather than a series of variances was appropriate.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Michael Seelye spoke, stating that he hoped to buy the property from the owner. He informed the Zoning Board of Appeals that he had attempted to purchase the adjacent property, but the owner of that property was uncooperative. In response to Mr. Seelye's questions, it was noted that he could plat or site condominiumize the property so as to bring it into conformance.

The Township Attorney questioned whether the applicant had another option of coming into conformance with the frontage requirement of the Ordinance. There was discussion of whether the applicant would be willing to share an access or driveway with the property to the north.

Mr. Seelye stated that he would be agreeable to sharing a drive. However, discussion ensued concerning the placement of the drive.

It was concluded that a shared drive was not appropriate in that the placement along the north property line of the subject parcel would be contrary to the Township's Access Management Guidelines. Given the placement of Holiday Lane across from the subject site, the Access Management Guidelines would require the drive to the subject property to be placed across from the intersection of this public street with South 11th Street.

Mr. Bushouse moved to grant a variance from the frontage and square footage requirements so as to render the subject property buildable in its current configuration. Mr. Bushouse noted in the motion that the applicant was encouraged to work with the adjacent parcel to the north for a shared access if possible. Mr. Bushouse premised his motion on the finding that, although there were other options, conformance was unnecessarily burdensome given that the applicant could not comply with the Township Access Management Guidelines and place a shared drive on the north line of the parcel. Further, he felt that substantial justice was served given the character of the legally nonconforming properties in the area. He also felt that the spirit of the Ordinance was observed, and that the public health, safety and welfare secured, given the desirability of one parcel versus two lots or building sites. Moreover, the small degree of the variance requested was noted. Mr. McClung seconded the motion.

Ms. Borgfjord stated that she would not be voting in favor of the variance given the variance criteria stated in the Ordinance.

Upon a vote on the motion, the motion carried 3-to-2 with Mr. Turcott and Ms. Borgfjord voting in opposition.

The consensus of the Zoning Board of Appeals' members was that the Planning Commission should consider a text amendment to allow for deviation from the requirements of Section 66.201 as to frontage, area, etc. under specified circumstances so that the stringent variance criteria did not apply.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Millard Loy, Chairperson

By:
Duane McClung

By:
Grace Borgfjord

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
James Turcott

Minutes Prepared:
March 28, 2003

Minutes Approved:
, 2003