April 5, 1999






A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, April 5, 1999, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township Hall, pursuant to notice.


Thomas Brodasky, Chairperson
William Saunders
Sharon Kuntzman


Millard Loy
David Bushouse

Also present were Jodi Stefforia, Township Planning Director, Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and three (3) other interested persons.


The Chairperson called the meeting to order at 3:01 p.m.


The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of March 15, 1999. The change suggested by the Planning and Zoning staff on page 7 was noted. In addition, Ms. Kuntzman suggested adding a reference on page 6 to the discussion of the applicant’s parking needs. She felt it was important that it be reflected in the minutes that the applicant stated that major school events would be conducted off site where additional parking was accommodated.

Ms. Kuntzman moved to approve the minutes as amended, and Mr. Saunders seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The next item was the application of Stephanie Sebring on behalf of Consumers Credit Union for interpretation of Section 76.000 with respect to the proposed lettering on the sides and rear of an ATM machine and whether the lettering would render the structure a sign. The subject property is located at 5018 West Main Street within the "C-1" Local Business District Zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. An elevation sketch depicting the proposed lettering had been provided by the applicant. It was noted that Consumers Credit Union was proposing to erect a free-standing ATM machine in the paved area east of their building. The front of the ATM would face Drake Road and the rear would face the building. The sides of the ATM would face West Main and the credit union’s parking lot.

Reference was made to the definition of "sign" contained in Section 11.560. Section 76.125 specifically addresses the number, size and setbacks for signs within the "C-1" Local Business District zoning classification. The proposed ATM machine would not meet the setbacks prescribed in Section 76.125.

Ms. Bugge reminded the Zoning Board of Appeals that it had previously considered an interpretation of Section 11.560 as it related to logo flags for Phoenix Properties and had determined that they would be signs. Further, the ZBA had determined that a rock with a McDonald’s logo constituted a sign. Ms. Bugge emphasized that the Zoning Board of Appeals should determine whether the graphics on the ATM would render the structure a sign and therefore subject to the required setbacks, size limitations, etc., of Section 76.000. She felt it was important that the ZBA consider whether the interpretation would render other ATM machines in the Township nonconforming.

Ms. Bugge presented photographs of the subject site, indicating that the pylons depicted the location where the proposed ATM would be located. The ATM would be approximately 7’ 8" tall and 8’ wide. With reference to the elevation sketch provided by the applicant, Ms. Bugge noted that Township staff was comfortable with the lettering on the ATM which would face Drake Road. It was felt that this lettering was informational in nature and did not constitute "advertising." Ms. Bugge also presented photographs of other Township ATM’s, such as the ATM built into the side of the Comerica building, the Hardings ComeriCard machine, and the National City ATM.

The Chairperson questioned whether the Planning Commission had acted on the Zoning Board of Appeals’ request to review on-site signage. Ms. Stefforia indicated that the Planning Commission was expected to begin work on the signage text in this the next quarter.

The Chairperson advised the applicant that, since only three members were present, any decision would have to be unanimous. The applicant indicated that she wished to go forward with the application. She presented photographs of the ATM at the CCU Kalamazoo facility. She stated that the applicant wished to keep lettering on all sides of the structure, feeling that this would be more balanced and aesthetically pleasing. She emphasized that the rear elevation faced the building and in her opinion would not be visible from West Main. She felt that the proposed application was distinguishable from the McDonald’s rock and the Phoenix Properties logo flags in that the ATM was an important and integral part of the Consumers Credit Union use. She felt that the ATM was an accessory structure; the rock and flags were solely for advertising and served no other purpose.

Ms. Stefforia indicated she felt that the elevation facing the building would not be very visible from West Main due to its distance from West Main. The applicant indicated that the larger lettering on the rear elevation of the CCU logo would be 7Ż". The smaller lettering of the CCU name would be 4ż" high. Therefore, the lettering was not large and not likely to be very visible. The applicant indicated a willingness to eliminate side-view lettering. However, the applicant felt that some lettering on the rear elevation was necessary for balance.

The consensus of the Board members was that the lettering as proposed on the three elevations, other than the front elevation, rendered the structure advertising and thus a sign. There was a discussion of possible modifications to the lettering which would make it "informational," i.e., somewhat akin to a menu board or on-site directory. There was a discussion of the possibility of the applicant seeking a variance from the setback and other sign provisions to allow the structure, as proposed. However, the applicant indicated that time was of the essence and wished to go forward with the interpretation.

There was no public comment offered, and the public hearing was closed. There was continued discussion of possible modifications to the structure lettering. Mr. Saunders indicated that he felt "CCU Access," similar to the lettering on the front elevation facing Drake Road, would be acceptable. Ms. Kuntzman agreed, stating that she could also agree with ATM, 24-hour ATM, or other similar words.

After further discussion, Ms. Kuntzman moved to interpret that the structure and the lettering as proposed thereon constituted a sign pursuant to Section 11.560. It was further the interpretation of the Board that the front elevation facing Drake Road, and the information and lettering thereon, were informational rather than advertising and acceptable. It was further the interpretation of the Board that the lettering on the remaining three elevations could be changed to read any of the following: 24-Hour Access, ATM, ATM Access or CCU Access, and that this lettering would be "informational" rather than advertising and therefore not constitute a sign. The interpretation for the possible revisions to the lettering on the three sides was based on the scale of lettering and surface coverage on those elevations as proposed by the applicant in the elevation sketch.

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


The next item was the application of Sheila Rife for variance from Section 66.201 to allow an existing nonconforming parcel to be buildable. The property is located at the northwest corner of H Avenue and 3rd Street within the "AG" Agricultural-Rural District zoning classification.

The report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Bugge noted that the vacant parcel is nonconforming in that it does not meet the 50,000 sq. ft. minimum area requirement of Section 66.201. The parcel is 33,080.85 sq. ft. Therefore, the request would be for variance to allow for reduction in area by 16,919 sq. ft. The parcel was created after 1965, and a warranty deed to this owner was received by the Township on November 3, 1986. The subject property abuts another parcel owned by the applicant which has a residence. That other parcel is also nonconforming but pre-existed Ordinance provisions and therefore is buildable.

In response to questioning by the Chairperson, it was confirmed that the applicant had purchased the parcel as a vacant parcel. There was a discussion of the amount of the variance requested, and it was noted that it was approximately 32%.

Reference was made to the zoning map attached to the Planning and Zoning Department report, and the applicant noted that parcel 080, which abuts the subject property, is of a similar size. Ms. Bugge noted that the parcel is approximately 39,000 sq. ft. and that a house was built thereon in 1971. No variance had been granted for the building of this home, and it was unknown how this had occurred. The applicant explained that parcels 080 and 090 were formerly one parcel and that the owner had built a home thereon in 1971. The owner then split the parcel and sold 090 to Ms. Rife on a land contract in approximately 1976.

The Chairperson noted that it was significant, in his opinion, that the parcels owned by the applicant could be combined and divided through site condominimization or platting. Further, it was noted that the ZBA had granted parcel area variances in the past in cases where the applicant was proposing to bring prior lawful nonconforming parcels into greater compliance with Ordinance provisions. Therefore, these other variances were distinguishable from the instant case.

The Chairperson asked for public comment. Matt Morris, a North 3rd Street resident, owner of parcel 040, stated that he was concerned with the creation of "small lots" in this area. He felt that this was a problem because of the lack of utilities in the area. He discussed a "fight" against a subdivision which "should not have been" located in this general vicinity. He was disgruntled with the Township’s decision to approve the plat. He was concerned that the subject site would not be able to accommodate adequate septic fields and that this and other sites would lead to "septic tank failures" and would result in pressure for municipal sewer. He felt that the Board should require strict compliance with Ordinance provisions and requested that the Board deny the variance as inconsistent with the Master Land Use Plan.

Mr. Saunders emphasized that, in his opinion, the variance should be denied in that the applicant had other options and that granting the variance would be inconsistent with past precedent in which variance had been granted only where there would be closer conformance to Ordinance requirements. Ms. Kuntzman agreed, stating that the applicant had purchased the property as an unbuildable parcel and feeling it was significant that the degree of variance requested was so great.


Mr. Saunders moved to deny the variance based on a finding that conformance was not unnecessarily burdensome in that the applicant had other options, that substantial justice would not weigh in favor of granting the variance in that other previous variances were distinguishable, there were no unique circumstances and the hardship was self-created.

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


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:15 p.m.

Minutes approved:
April 19, 1999