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OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

October 28, 2003

Agenda

CRIPPIN - ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 7533 WEST ML AVENUE - (OUT OF PARCEL NO. 3905-27-330-011)

LOOKING GLASS DAYCARE - SIGN DEVIATION - 2857 SOUTH 11TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-455-011)

BOOTHBY - VARIANCE FROM "FAMILY" DEFINITION - 8390 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-255-030)

SOKHANVARI - FRONT SETBACK VARIANCE AND ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 755 CLUB VIEW DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-435-110)

A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, October 28, 2003, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall.

MEMBERS PRESENT:

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:

None

Also present were Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner; Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney; and 12 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 September 23, 2003. Mr. Turcott moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Mr. McClung seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

CRIPPIN - ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 7533 WEST ML AVENUE - (OUT OF PARCEL NO. 3905-27-330-011)

The Board considered the application of Wayne and Judith Crippin for approval of a proposed accessory building to be placed between the dwelling and the street. The subject property is 7533 West ML Avenue within the "RR" Rural Residential District zoning classification. The site is out of Parcel No. 3905-27-330-011. The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the parcel is almost 15 acres, 1,600-foot deep, and located on the south side of ML Avenue, west of South 8th Street. The area of the main floor of the dwelling is 1,821 square feet, which exceeds the proposed accessory building's area of 864 square feet. The accessory garage would be built between the dwelling, which is now under construction, and the front property line of the subject site. The proposed accessory garage would be located 200+ feet from the street right-of-way to the east of the dwelling. The applicant was proposing construction with the same siding, roof and garage doors as used on the dwelling. The building would not be visible from the road or adjacent property due to a bank on the northern portion of the property. Ms. Bugge stated that the area in which the building would be placed was also heavily wooded. Ms. Bugge said that the area surrounding the site in question was used for residential purposes or vacant, and under the Master Land Use Plan, the Future Land Use Plan Map showed the area as Rural Residential.

The applicant, Wayne Crippin, was present. He stated that he and his wife are building a new home at the site. The proposed use of the garage/building was for storage of lawn equipment and a boat. He described that the vinyl siding, overhead garage door, and shingles would be the same as used on the house.

In response to questions from Ms. Borgfjord, the applicant indicated that the door to the garage would face to the west. The drive to the garage would be used as a turnaround. He stated that the distance from the house to the pole barn was approximately 42 feet.

There was no public comment on the item, and the public hearing was closed. The standards of Section 78.820 were reviewed.

The Chairperson referenced past decisions by the Board in similar cases. He stated that he was familiar with the property and agreed that the proposed building could not be seen from the road. Mr. Bushouse agreed, stating that he felt that the proposal was consistent with past decisions where the Board had required that the materials used on the building be similar to those used on the house. Other Board members concurred.

Mr. McClung moved to approve the placement of the accessory building as proposed by the applicant, and Mr. Turcott seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

LOOKING GLASS DAYCARE - SIGN DEVIATION - 2857 SOUTH 11TH STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-25-455-011)

The Board considered the application of the Looking Glass Daycare for a deviation from the provisions of Section 76.160 to allow a second freestanding sign on the property so as to identify the daycare center located within the Heritage Christian Reformed Church which already has a freestanding sign. The subject property is located in the "R-3" Residence District zoning classification at 2857 South 11th Street, and is Parcel No. 3905-25-455-011. The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the Looking Glass childcare use is a tenant within the Heritage Christian Reformed Church on South 11th Street. The Church maintains a 25-square foot, 6-foot tall freestanding sign. The applicant was proposing to erect a second freestanding sign on the north side of the driveway for identification purposes. Ms. Bugge reminded the Board that Section 76.160 allows for one 30-square foot, 5-foot tall identification sign per principal use in the Residence District. The existing sign could be made larger, i.e., up to 30 square feet, but not taller.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the criteria for granting a deviation. In considering whether the proposed deviation would be materially detrimental, Ms. Bugge noted that there are 20 properties along 11th Street and only 5 were currently used for nonresidential purposes. Therefore, she felt the Zoning Board of Appeals should consider the impact of an additional freestanding sign on a predominantly residential neighborhood. As to whether there would be hardship created by the literal interpretation of the section due to conditions unique to the building site, which did not apply generally, Ms. Bugge urged that the Board review whether the existing sign could be modified to provide identification for the use visible from the street. It was felt that the applicants' hardship was somewhat self-created in that they chose the church location.

As to whether the granting of the deviation would be contrary to the general purposes of the section or set an adverse precedent, Ms. Bugge observed that in commercial districts a second freestanding sign is only allowed on corner properties. She felt that granting the deviation would set an adverse precedent, especially when the opportunity exists to modify the existing sign so as to identify the child care center.

The applicants Julie Fish and Joni Sluy were present. Ms. Fish stated that the preschool/daycare is not associated with any particular religious affiliation and that the child care center was trying to appeal to all denominations. The applicant was concerned that adding signage to the existing sign would not allow for a distinction between the daycare center and the Church. Julie Fish stated that the landlord had approved a sign on the opposite side of the driveway to that of the existing sign. Moreover, Ms. Fish felt that adding the daycare signage to the Church sign would not allow them enough space to advertise their services.

No public comment was offered, and the public hearing was closed. The Chairperson stated that he felt that granting the deviation would set an adverse precedent for other sites in the area. He was concerned that the area is predominantly residential in nature and felt that granting the deviation could "start a trend". Mr. Bushouse was also concerned about granting the deviation and that it would lead to more signage for uses which were tenants of churches in the Township. Further, Board members were concerned that the problem described by the applicant was self-created in that they had chosen to locate at the church property. There was a concern that the argument used by the applicant could be used by many other applicants for deviation.

Mr. McClung stated he understood the need for separation in identity from the church, but he felt that the applicant should accommodate their signage on the existing freestanding sign. Ms. Bugge stated that the church could take into a consideration its tenants when establishing a freestanding sign at the site. A portion of the one freestanding sign allowed could be used for identification of all tenants.

Again, the Chairperson stated that he did not want to set an adverse precedent especially in a residential zone. He felt the applicant should work with the church on how to accommodate its signage on the existing freestanding sign. Ms. Borgfjord agreed, stating that since the area is residential, it would be a concern to grant the deviation. She felt that the same reasoning could be used in the commercial zoning district, for multi-tenant buildings. Mr. Turcott agreed that a second freestanding sign for the site was not appropriate.

Ms. Borgfjord moved to deny the deviation to allow a second freestanding sign at the site, finding that the criteria for a deviation had not been met. Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

BOOTHBY - VARIANCE FROM "FAMILY" DEFINITION - 8390 WEST MAIN STREET - (PARCEL NO. 3905-16-255-030)

The Board considered the application of Chad Akers, on behalf of owners Fred and Eloise Boothby, for a variance from Section 11.302 which defines "family" so as to allow three unrelated persons to reside in the "front" dwelling on a property that is located in the "C" Local Business District. The subject property is located at 8390 West Main Street and is Parcel No. 3905-16-255-030.

The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

Ms. Bugge stated that the applicant, Mr. Akers, and his two roommates had recently moved into the "front" house at 8390 West Main Street. Prior to their move-in, the house had been occupied by a married couple for many years. The subject three bedroom house is within the "C" Local Business District where residences are not a permitted use. However, this is a prior lawful nonconforming use at the site. Ms. Bugge stated that there is a second dwelling on the property behind the front house which is also rented.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Board that the Township had modified its Zoning Ordinance to limit a single-family home to use by one family which was defined as no more than two unrelated persons. The property in question was not grandfathered since the definition of family took effect prior to the use of the home by three unrelated persons. It was noted that in the "R-4" Residence District, where apartment complexes are located, the Zoning Ordinance allows two families per dwelling up to four unrelated persons.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the nonuse variance criteria. As to whether conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, it was noted that the applicant could comply by having one of the unrelated persons move out of the subject home. Reasonable use of the property would remain. However, the property in question is commercially-zoned and not in a residential neighborhood. Further, if the house was located in the "R-4" District, the applicant and his roommates would be allowed. As to substantial justice, Ms. Bugge stated that this is the first application for a variance. Research of other similar properties revealed that there were 18 sites in the Township zoned "C" Local Business, but classified or used as residential.

Since there were other such properties in the Township, Ms. Bugge could find no unique circumstances regarding the zoning applying to the subject site. However, other possible conditions indicating uniqueness were that the dwelling was located in a commercial area on West Main Street, Hanley Tree Service abutted to the east and north, Paul Brown's auto repair/sales lot abutted to the west. Further, Leaders Marine and D&R were in the area. It was noted that the hardship was self-created. However, the spirit of the Ordinance might be observed in that the family definition was adopted to protect single-family neighborhoods.

Applicant Chad Akers was present, stating that the parking problem which had occurred on the site had been taken care of. The applicant and his roommates were now parking in the driveway. Mr. Akers felt that the definition of family should not apply to his property since it was not within a Residential Zoning District. Further, he felt it was significant that there were commercial buildings on both sides of the property. He stated that he and his roommates had been in the house a little over two months and have done a lot of work on the house in that time. Because the house was not located in a neighborhood and was on a five-lane highway, Mr. Akers felt the application was unique.

It was noted that the other dwelling on the site was rented by a couple.

Public comment was requested, and Mr. John Graham stated that the applicant and his roommates were good neighbors, and he had no objection to the variance.

The public hearing was closed, and the Chairperson stated that, since this property was in a heavy and intense commercial area, he would not have a problem with the variance. Mr. Bushouse questioned the size of the three bedrooms and whether there was adequate egress. Rocky Adams, one of the roommates, stated that he worked in construction and believed that the bedrooms were large enough to meet code. Further, each of the bedrooms had egress windows at least 26 inches wide. It was noted that all vehicles were not parked in the same driveway. The tenants of the other home have another driveway in which to park their vehicles.

Mr. Turcott was concerned about setting an adverse precedent, given other commercial properties in the Township which were used for residential purposes. Most of these properties were in the area of 11th Street and West Michigan Avenue. The 11th Street and West Michigan Avenue areas were different than the subject site in that they were a cluster of residential uses or "office" uses. Since the subject property was on a five-lane highway and in the midst of intense commercial uses, including outdoor display, it was felt that there was some uniqueness to the application. The Chairperson also felt it was significant that the site had adequate parking which would comply with Ordinance requirements.

After further discussion, Mr. McClung moved to approve the variance from the definition of family for the "front house" on the subject property with the following conditions:

(1) That all motor vehicles be parked in compliance with zoning and other Ordinance standards.

(2) That there was a limit of three tenants in the subject building.

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

SOKHANVARI - FRONT SETBACK VARIANCE AND ACCESSORY BUILDING REVIEW - 755 CLUB VIEW DRIVE - (PARCEL NO. 3905-14-435-110)

The Board considered the application of Laila Sokhanvari for placement of an accessory building within the front setback of a corner property and site plan review and approval of the proposed accessory building to be placed between the dwelling and the street. The subject site is within the "R-2" Residence District classification at 755 Club View and is Parcel No. 3905-14-435-110.

The Report of the Planning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The applicant wished to place a 10-foot x 10-foot accessory building, a utility shed, on a corner lot which is subject to 40-foot front setbacks from both Club View Drive and Lodge Lane. The dwelling already located at the site is 15 feet from the Club View Drive right-of-way and 37 feet from Lodge Lane, and therefore intrudes into both setbacks. However, Ms. Bugge stated that the house is legally nonconforming. The proposed utility shed would be placed 4 feet from the Lodge Lane side of the building. The Building Code requires a 3-foot building separation.

Ms. Bugge reviewed the nonuse variance criteria. As to whether conformance was unnecessarily burdensome, Ms. Bugge stated that the building could not be placed on the property without intruding into a setback area. As to substantial justice, Ms. Bugge stated that three other similar applications had been denied, but that, in each case, the building could be placed in conformance with Ordinance provisions unlike the instant case. As to unique physical circumstances, it was noted that neither the side nor rear yard had sufficient depth to accommodate placement of an accessory building which would meet setbacks and Building Code separation requirements. However, it was felt that the hardship was self-created in that the placement of an accessory building on the property was at the discretion of the applicant. Ms. Bugge also reviewed the criteria of Section 78.820 regarding review of the building.

The applicant was present along with Dale Bennett. The Chairperson asked whether there were any plat restrictions for accessory buildings, and the applicant indicated that she was not aware of any. The applicant indicated that the utility building would be used to store gardening equipment. It was noted that the applicant would be amenable to establishing screening around the utility building with bushes and shrubs.

Mr. Bushouse inquired whether the applicant had considered establishing the building or a "lien-to" in the northeast corner of the property near the garage. Mr. Bushouse recognized that the building would be in the front setback, but he felt that this would be a preferable location. Mr. Bushouse was concerned about this site being the only one in the area which would have an outbuilding established in front of the dwelling. He was also concerned that, this being a corner lot, the placement of the building would be very visible.

The Chairperson asked for public comment, and Richard Huey stated he had been a Lodge Lane resident for some 40 years. He believed that there are plat restrictions but was not sure. He felt that placement of an outbuilding in the northeast area of the site, which was heavily shrubbed, and not in the front yard, would be preferable. Barbara Huey commented that the applicant had a beautiful yard but was concerned about the visibility of the proposed building. She felt it would "stick out like a sore thumb". Don Kibler, a resident of the plat for about 38 years, agreed with the Hueys, believing that the northeast corner placement would be better. Andrew Huang was concerned about the residentially ambience of the plat and deterioration of property values. He felt it was important to maintain the aesthetics of the plat. He felt the building would stand out even if they tried to screen it. He felt the applicant should consider placement on the northeast side of the site. There was no other public comment, and the public hearing was closed.

The Chairperson stated that he was familiar with the site and agreed that the proposed placement was very visible and not appropriate. He felt that the placement would not be in keeping with the general character of the neighborhood. Mr. Bushouse commented that he felt that the placement was also inappropriate. He suggested that the item be tabled to allow the applicant to propose an alternative location. Mr. McClung agreed. The Board members informed the applicant that tabling the item would allow them to propose an alternative location without incurring a further application fee. The applicants indicated that they were willing to table the item in order to propose an alternative location.

Mr. McClung moved to table the application to a future time when there was a proposal from the applicant as to an alternative location for the accessory building. Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

OSHTEMO CHARTER TOWNSHIP ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

By:
Millard Loy, Chairperson

By:
Grace Borgfjord

By:
Dave Bushouse

By:
James Turcott

By:
Duane McClung

Minutes Prepared: October 31, 2003
Minutes Approved: xxxxx , 2003