OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

October 25, 2005

Agenda

DE BRUIN - ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 10655 WEST L AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-30-130-010)

MAPLE HILL PAVILION - WALL SIGN DEVIATION - 5050 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-280-022)

METRO LLC - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5850/5900 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-25-180-015 AND 3905-25-305-045)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, October 25, 2005, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT: James Turcott, Acting Chairman
Dave Bushouse
Grace Borgfjord
Duane McClung

MEMBER ABSENT: Millard Loy

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

CALL TO ORDER

The Acting Chairman called the meeting to order at approximately 3:05 p.m.

MINUTES

The Acting Chairman said that the first item to be considered was the minutes of September 27, 2005. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the minutes as submitted. The motion was seconded by Ms. Borgfjord. The Acting Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

DE BRUIN - ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 10655 WEST L AVENUE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-30-130-010)

The Acting Chairman said the next item for consideration was the site plan review of a proposed 1,440 square foot accessory building, where the aggregate area of the accessory building on the property will exceed the ground floor area of the dwelling. The subject property is located at 10655 West L Avenue, Parcel No. 3905-30-130-010. The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Stefforia submitted her report to the Zoning Board of Appeals dated October 25, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Stefforia told the Board that the applicant wanted to construct a 1,440 square foot accessory building on a 10-acre parcel, which already has an existing 1,440 square foot horse barn. She said the combined square footage of the accessory buildings would exceed the ground floor of the existing dwelling, and therefore, the Zoning Board of Appeals' review is necessary, pursuant to Section 78.820. Ms. Stefforia said that the proposed structure would be located approximately 270 feet from West L Avenue and 41 feet from the west side of the property line. She said that the site plan indicates that the new building will be located between the residence and the horse barn. She provided an aerial view of the property for Board review.

Ms. Stefforia then proceeded to take the Board through a review of Section 78.820 as it applied to the subject property. Ms. Stefforia suggested the Board consider additional plantings, such as evergreens, in order to buffer the view of the building from the west. She also asked the Board to confirm that the building would not be used for business purposes and to inquire as to what items would be stored in the proposed structure.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions at the conclusion of Ms. Stefforia's report, and hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant.

Mr. Gary DeBruin introduced himself to the Board. He explained that it was his intent to store three cars, a lawn tractor and other lawn equipment and miscellaneous items within the proposed structure. He said there would be absolutely no business use of the structure, and he indicated that he would be willing to landscape around the building, but the landscaping would not likely be installed this year.

The Acting Chairman said he thought it was appropriate to look into adding additional screening along the north and west sides of the proposed accessory building. The applicant said he would be willing to do that, since it was open to the west. He noted, however, that the neighbors could not see it due to the trees on their property, but he still agreed to add screening as directed by the Board.

Mr. Bushouse explained to the applicant, with similar structures in the past, they had asked for evergreens to be planted around the building, and he thought if Mr. DeBruin was willing to do that, it would be an excellent idea.

Mr. Bushouse asked the Planning Department if there is any limit on the total number of accessory buildings allowed on a parcel. Ms. Stefforia said that there was no numerical limit on the number of accessory buildings. However, she noted, if a property owner began to place multiple accessory buildings on the property, there would come a point when the structures would no longer be an accessory use to the principal use of the property as a residence.

Ms. Borgfjord asked if the applicant would be extending the drive to the proposed building. Mr. DeBruin said that there would be a short extension of the asphalt to the proposed accessory building.

The Acting Chairman called for public comment. Hearing none, he called for Board deliberations.

Ms. Borgfjord said she thought that the subject property was very nice and that the accessory building seemed appropriate if some screening was added. The Acting Chairman said he thought that the Board should specify the proposed screening. Ms. Borgfjord said she would be comfortable leaving the additional screening up to the Staff. She said her only intent was to simply buffer the view somewhat from surrounding properties. Mr. McClung said that there were quite a bit of trees along the roadside; Mr. Bushouse said that was true, but to the north and the west, the area was quite open.

The Acting Chairman asked if they were satisfied that there would be no business use of the proposed structure. The Board members indicated that they were.

Ms. Borgfjord asked if there would be electricity brought to the accessory building. Mr. DeBruin said he would likely do that in the future, but it would just be for lighting, no business use.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was any further discussion. Hearing none, he called for a motion. Ms. Borgfjord made a motion to approve the proposed accessory building, provided that adequate landscaping be added to buffer the subject structure to the west and to supplement existing trees to the north, subject to Planning Department approval, and that the subject accessory building not be used for business purposes. Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for a vote on the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

MAPLE HILL PAVILION - WALL SIGN DEVIATION - 5050 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-13-280-022)

The Acting Chairman noted that the next item on the Agenda was a request from Michael Chojnowski, on behalf of Paragon Consultants, LLC, for a wall sign deviation from the provisions of Section 76.170 to allow wall signs to exceed a height of 25 feet. The subject property is located at 5050 West Main Street, Parcel No. 3905-13-280-022. The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report dated October 25, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge explained that the applicant was seeking a sign deviation to allow wall signs for DSW and PetsMart to exceed the maximum 25-foot height permitted. She said they were also seeking a deviation for "future signs for adjoining buildings, similarly configured" and suggested that the applicant explain what that request referenced. Ms. Bugge explained, while seeking a permit for the sign for DSW Shoes, it was discovered that the height of the proposed sign was 29 feet. In reviewing previous signs, it was discovered that PetsMart's sign was installed at approximately 28 feet. Both signs exceeded the 25-foot maximum height permitted.

Ms. Bugge then took the Board through a review of the existing signs at the Maple Hill Pavilion, noting that all were in compliance with the height criteria with the exception of PetsMart and the proposed sign for DSW Shoes. In addition, Ms. Bugge took the Board through a departmental review of the standards for approval of a sign deviation. She specifically noted that, since all the other signs were in compliance, there would likely be a perception of inequitable treatment, given the extent to which the current tenants' signs comply. She also noted that it did not appear that the hardship was created by a literal interpretation of the section due to conditions unique to the parcel, and that sign design and/or placement could be modified to comply with the Ordinance. She also asked the Board to take into account whether the sign deviation would create an adverse precedent.

Mr. Bushouse asked when the PetsMart sign violation was brought to their attention and if a ticket was issued. Ms. Bugge said, because the request for a variance was submitted, citations were not issued.

Ms. Borgfjord asked for confirmation that they were just looking at an increase in the height of the sign and nothing more. Ms. Bugge indicated that was correct.

The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Michael Chojnowski, attorney for Paragon Consultants, introduced himself to the Board. Mr. Chojnowski explained to the Board how the property's use had changed significantly and was responsible for a significant turnaround in its condition. However, he said the property was unique in that it was set lower than West Main Street, and most of the stores were set back at least 550 feet from West Main.

Mr. Chojnowski noted that the Statement of Purpose for the sign provisions of the Ordinance were there to protect the commercial district from visual chaos and clutter and to foster growth and development of businesses, as well as to protect property values. He said he thought those purposes weighed in favor of the granting of a deviation for his client. He also said that the need for a deviation was warranted because of the number of stores located along West Main Street between the subject properties and the motoring public.

Mr. Chojnowski said he thought they should deal with just the PetsMart store and DSW shoe store and not deal with any of the unknown space. He asked that their request to deal with the undeveloped portions of the property be withdrawn. It was the consensus of the Board to grant the applicant's withdrawal request.

Mr. Chojnowski then went through the proposed changes to the DWS sign, including removal of some of the black background tile, which he said he thought would reduce the height of the letters to 26 feet. He said PetsMart was a bit more difficult in that the sign already existed, but if the Board did not consider the "swoosh" on top of the sign as part of the sign and only viewed the letters as part of the sign, the height of the sign would be 25 feet 11 inches. Mr. Chojnowski said he thought the Board should only consider the letters to be part of the sign, based upon his reading of "wall sign" under the definition section of Section 76.

Lastly, Mr. Chojnowski noted that it was a bit odd to have a wall sign height limitation when there was no building height limitation.

Mr. Chojnowski then went through the criteria for sign deviation, arguing that there will be no harm to any other tenants in the area, that the site was unique because of the distance to West Main Street, as well as architecturally unique. He said there was a need to positively identify buildings, foster growth in the area and protect from visual clutter, which requires that the signs be clearly seen from West Main Street. He said he did not believe there would be any adverse precedent since there were no other properties as uniquely situated as the subject property is, due to its topography and distance from West Main.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was anything further. The architect, Judson Kline with Herschman Architects, asked to address the Zoning Board of Appeals. He told the Board that he thought that this site was unique. He said that part of what they were trying to do was create a diverse design in the overall structures, and in doing so, had created unique facades to the buildings, particularly the DSW shoe store. He said that their building entrance was unique as was the overall design of the Mall. He asked that the Board take into account their need to be seen from off-site, and he asked that the deviation be granted.

Ms. Bugge pointed out that the definition of "sign area" included all that area within a single, continuous perimeter composed of any straight line geometric figure which encloses the extreme limits of the advertising message, together with any frame or other material or color, forming an integral part of the display, message, drawing or similar device. She also pointed out that the "height" of the sign, based on definitions within the Ordinance, included the vertical distance measured from the highest point of the sign, including any decorative embellishment to the grade of the adjacent street. She said, based on those two definitions, she thought Mr. Chojnowski's request to only consider the letters of the sign was not in accordance with the Ordinance. She also said that the request to not consider the "swoosh" over the PetsMart sign was also inconsistent with the definitions contained within the Ordinance.

The Acting Chairman asked if there was public comment. Hearing none, he called for Board deliberations.

Mr. McClung said he thought that the area surrounding the DSW sign was an architectural element, not part of the sign. Mr. Bushouse asked for clarification that the Board was talking about height not size of the sign. Ms. Bugge indicated that was correct. Ms. Bugge said, however, the measurement would go to the top of the tiles under the definition of the Ordinance. Mr. McClung said he had to agree to disagree with than interpretation.

Mr. Bushouse said that the Board had a long history in dealing with these types of requests. He said the Board had been very consistent in maintaining both the height and the size of the signs despite the distance and setback from the road. He said, contrary to what the applicant was contending, there were other similarly-situated businesses which had asked for similar variances, they had been denied. He said MC Sporting Goods and other businesses across West Main from the Maple Hill Mall had made similar requests, but they were denied. He also said that other property owners had asked that the background space not be considered part of the sign, but their requests had also been denied. He said he saw no reason why the size of the letters or their location could not be changed in order to come into compliance, and he saw no reason for the requested deviation to be granted.

Ms. Borgfjord said that the applicant's argument that they were unique was not compelling. She said they had heard similar arguments from Harding's, MC Sporting Goods across the street, McGinnis Landing area, and all of those requests for deviations had been denied.

The Acting Chairman said he had to agree with his colleagues, that they had worked very hard to maintain consistency in the Sign Ordinance and its application throughout the Township, and he saw no reason to grant a deviation in this case.

Mr. Chojnowski then asked to address the Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. Chojnowski said he would respectfully request the right to withdraw their application and submit a proposed text amendment change to the Planning Commission. It was the consensus of the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow the withdrawal of the request. No further action was required.

METRO LLC - LIGHTING VARIANCE - 5850/5900 STADIUM DRIVE - (PARCEL NOS. 3905-25-180-015 AND 3905-25-305-045)

The Acting Chairman said that the next item was consideration of a variance from Section 78.720 to allow the use of 1,000-watt light fixtures and a perimeter illumination level greater than 0.1 footcandles to the property located at 5850/5900 Stadium Drive, Parcel Nos. 3905-25-180-015 and 3905-25-305-045. The Acting Chairman asked to hear from the Planning Department. Ms. Bugge presented her report to the Zoning Board of Appeals dated October 25, 2005, and the same is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Board that site plan and special exception use had been approved on August 25, 2005, for the expansion of the outdoor display at Metro Toyota and the used car facility. She also pointed out that the Zoning Board of Appeals had granted a variance to permit vehicle display within the building setback area on May 24, 2005. She said the applicant was now requesting two variances, the first to allow the use of 1,000-watt pole-mounted light fixtures, where the Ordinance limit is 400-watt, and the second to allow perimeter illumination levels on Quail Run and Stadium Drive to exceed the permitted limit of 0.1 footcandle.

Ms. Bugge then took the Board through a brief history of the development on the site, including the 1987 approval of 1,000-watt fixtures, which predated the current lighting requirement. She also pointed out the ZBA variance in 2003, noting that the photometric plan submitted at that time indicated perimeter illumination levels of 0.0 to 0.5 footcandles along Quail Run Drive and 0.2 to 0.6 footcandles along Stadium Drive.

Ms. Bugge proceeded to take the Board through the proposed changes. She said, at 5850 Stadium Drive, Metro Toyota was proposing to relocate four of the existing poles containing eight 1,000-watt fixtures to within 22 feet of the property line along Stadium Drive and add one pole with a 400-watt fixture. She said this would result in perimeter illumination on Stadium Drive ranging from 1.2 to 19.2 footcandles, which would be reduced to 0.1 to 7.2 footcandles after normal business hours.

Ms. Bugge said, at the property at 5900 Stadium Drive, the applicant was proposing to leave the lighting around the building the same, but increase from five 400-watt fixtures and six 1,000-watt fixtures to seven 400-watt fixtures and twelve 1,000-watt fixtures. She said the two northwest fixtures were proposed to be 400-watts each, and would be in conformance with the Ordinance. She stated that the eight 1,000-watt fixtures would be located to within 20 feet of Stadium Drive, and four 1,000-watt fixtures were proposed in the center of the lot. Ms. Bugge indicated that illumination levels during normal business hours along Quail Run would run from .02 to 4.7 footcandles and 3.4 to 21.8 footcandles along Stadium Drive.

Ms. Bugge then proceeded to take the Board through a review of the standards for approval of a nonuse variance as set forth in her report.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions of Ms. Bugge. Hearing none, he asked to hear from the applicant. Mr. Bob Geniac introduced himself on behalf of Metro Toyota. He said that they were seeking the grant of a variance to move the lights to the south, but not as far south as those currently located at the DeNooyer site. He said they needed the lights in order to compete with other businesses in the area. He said he did not believe that the light changes would have any effect on the condominiums or the residences in that area. He said they had looked at the options of using additional poles with lower light levels but thought it would be less uniform and less consistent with lighting in the area.

The Acting Chairman asked if there were any questions, and hearing none, he called for public comment.

Ms. Khris Kirkpatrick, on behalf of Quail Run Condominiums, said that she wished to address the Board. She said she was a bit surprised that she had not received advance notice on this from Mr. DeNooyer. She said she understood the need to illuminate the area, but was concerned that there were always continuing requests for more and more and more changes to the site. She said she certainly would not favor more poles on the site, but hoped that they would take some steps to reduce lighting in the southwest corner of the used car lot, since that would impact the Quail Run area.

At the conclusion of Ms. Kirkpatrick's presentation, Mr. Geniac asked to address the Board. He said he had discussed it with Mr. DeNooyer, and they would propose reducing one of the pole-mounted lights on the southwest portion of the used car facility from 1,000 watts to 400 watts. He also said they would only keep one or two poles on at night so as to mitigate any impact they would have on the Quail Run residential development. Ms. Bugge reminded the applicant that only 400-watt fixtures could be used for security lighting per the variance granted on January 28, 2003.

The Acting Chairman said he was quite concerned about granting the variance since the Planning Commission had specifically approved the site plan subject to the business being in compliance with the lighting provisions of the Ordinance.

Ms. Bugge then took the Board through a review of the lighting fixtures proposed at the new car lot, as well as the fixtures at the used car lot. She said that the new car facility would only be adding one additional pole with a 400-watt light. They were relocating four poles with two 1,000-watt fixtures each closer to Stadium Drive. While she said that would increase the footcandles along Stadium Drive, the additional lighting would not amount to a significant change. Ms. Bugge said that there were going to be four poles in the center of the used car lot, with the two in the center each having two 1,000-watt fixtures and the ones on each end having one 400-watt fixture. She said, in addition, they were going to add four new poles along Stadium Drive. The three poles to the east would each have two 1,000-watt fixtures, but the applicant had indicated the one pole in the southwest corner would have one 400-watt light fixture and one 1,000-watt fixture. Mr. Geniac concurred with Ms. Bugge's statement.

Mr. Bushouse asked if these lights could be shielded for sharp cut-off lighting. Mr. Geniac said they could, but it would not be quite as uniform. Mr. Bushouse said he would be more inclined to grant the request if there were shields applicable to all the subject lights along the perimeter.

The Acting Chairman pointed out that the area to the south was also residential. He said he did not want to add light to Stadium Drive. Ms. Bugge said, while adding more light to Stadium Drive was a concern, the road itself was, in fact, a buffer.

Ms. Bugge asked what the hours of operation would be for the car lots. Mr. DeNooyer said, on Mondays and Wednesdays, they would be open until 8 p.m.; Saturdays until 4 p.m.; and the rest of the time, they would close at 6 p.m. He said the lights would be reduced at 9:30 p.m. each evening.

Attorney Porter emphasized the need for the Board to consider the factors for granting or denying a variance in their deliberations.

Ms. Borgfjord said, as long as they could maintain the light on site and reduce the nighttime lighting, she thought it was reasonable to want to maintain consistency of the lighting on site. However, she noted she did not want to see the light spill over, and she thought that the lights should be shielded.

The Acting Chairman again pointed out that the Planning Commission had spent quite a bit of time dealing with the issue of lighting, that the applicant had agreed to comply with the Ordinance, and that it was the Planning Commission's intent that the applicant meet the Ordinance provisions. He said he was troubled with the applicant now asking for a variance.

Mr. McClung said, as long as they were not going to be negatively impacting the residents to the north, he did not see a problem with granting the variance.

Hearing no further discussion, the Acting Chairman asked if anyone wished to make a motion. Mr. McClung made a motion to approve the variance, with the stipulation that the applicant make the changes agreed to, particularly to the light in the southwest corner, and that all of perimeter lights be shielded for sharp cut-off lighting. Ms. Borgfjord seconded the motion. The Acting Chairman called for further discussion, and hearing none, called for a vote on the motion. The motion passed 3-to-1, with the Acting Chairman in opposition.

Other Business

None.

Adjournment

There being no further business to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board adjourned at approximately 5:00 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
James Turcott, Acting Chairman

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
Grace Borgfjord

By:
Duane McClung

Minutes Prepared:
November 1, 2005

Minutes Approved:
, 2005