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September 11, 2000




A meeting was conducted by the Oshtemo Charter Township Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, September 12, 2000, commencing at approximately 3:00 p.m. at the Oshtemo Charter Township.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Thomas Brodasky, Chairperson
Sharon Kuntzman
David Bushouse
Ted Corakis


Also present were Mary Lynn Bugge, Township Planner, and Patricia R. Mason, Township Attorney, and two other interested persons.


The meeting was called to order at approximately 3:00 p.m.


The Board considered the minutes of the meeting of August 21, 2000. Mr. Corakis moved to approve the minutes as submitted, and Ms. Kuntzman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.


The Board considered the application of Matthew Hetrick for a variance from the provisions of Section 66.201 of the Zoning Ordinance to allow the creation of a buildable parcel with less than 200 feet of frontage at 3738 North 9th Street. The property is located in the "AG" Agricultural-Rural Zoning District classification and is Parcel No. 3905-02-330-018. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference.

The applicant had acquired one, 9.9 acre parcel, with 376.22 feet of frontage on North 9th Street in approximately 1981. It was noted that the applicant had originally created the configuration of Parcels A and B in 1984. He recently sold the front parcel designated as Parcel B with 243.22 feet of frontage. The parcel retained, designated as Parcel A, was 7.77 acres in size, vacant, and had 133 feet of frontage. Former owners of the 9.9 acre parcel had placed a right-of-way on the southern 33 feet of the subject property and granted an additional 33 feet immediately south of the parcel to be used in conjunction with it as a joint and mutual 66-foot right-of-way. Since the sale of Parcel B, an additional 100 feet of frontage was deeded to the new owners by the applicant to accommodate an existing driveway for the house located on Parcel B. The deed had not yet been received by the Township, however, this reconfiguration could not be recognized by the Township unless a variance was granted. The applicant now desires to construct a house on Parcel A. Since Parcel A would have only 33 feet of frontage as reconfigured, a variance would be required to allow it to be buildable. Additionally, as reconfigured, Parcel A would have a depth greater than four times the width. Therefore, a variance from this provision of the Ordinance is required.

Mr. Bushouse had questions with regard to the 66-foot right-of-way and whether it extended the full depth of Parcel A. The Township Attorney stated that the deed appeared to place a 33-foot right-of-way the entire length of Parcel A. However, the adjoining 33 feet of the 66-foot right-of-way on the parcel to the south did not extend the entire length of Parcel A, since the adjoining property was only 1,125 feet in depth, whereas the subject property was 1,158 feet in depth.

In response to questions by Ms. Kuntzman, it was clarified that the remaining frontage for Parcel A as proposed by the applicant's reconfiguration would be 33 feet.

The applicant was present, stating that he hopes that the Board will grant his variances. He stated that he had constructed a private drive located along this 33-feet of the right-of-way on his property. The private driveway is to "county specifications" for a driveway permit. He stated that there is six to eight inches of stabilizer placed approximately 1,100 feet in length, and eight to twelve feet in width.

There was discussion of whether the driveway on Parcel B could be shared with Parcel A, and it was noted that it was not configured in such a way as to make sharing amenable, since it was a "horseshoe" drive.

There was discussion of the possibility of tabling the item so as to allow the applicant to discuss with his neighbor to the south a sharing of the drive. Board members discussed whether, if the property to the south agreed not to establish a zone drive, the intent and spirit of the Ordinance could be met.

Mr. Bushouse had questions with regard to Parcel 02-455-012, expressing concern that if the area were platted in the future between 9th and 10th Streets, that the right-of-way should extend to the parcel line. Ms. Bugge stated that Westport Trails could not expand further unless a connection were made to 9th Street; however, this connection could be made on property other than the subject. The Township Attorney noted that the right-of-way on the subject property was only granted to the adjacent landowner and not to the public or the Township. Therefore, it could not be utilized by someone other than the subject property owner and the neighbor to the south for establishment of a public road.

Ms. Kuntzman expressed the opinion that, according to the facts as proposed, the criteria for a non-use variance could not be met. Therefore, she felt that the variance should not be approved, even if the property to the south were to agree to limit its curb cuts.

Mr. Bushouse agreed and stated that he had a concern that, given the other parcel sizes in the area, a variance granted to the subject property would lead to variance requests by dozens of parcels. He was concerned about setting an undesirable precedent.

Mr. Corakis suggested that the applicant approach his neighbor to the south to purchase additional frontage so as to comply with Ordinance standards. Board members agreed that substantial justice would not weigh in favor of granting the variance in that similar applications had been denied in the past, particularly with regard to frontage.

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

Ms. Kuntzman moved to deny the frontage and depth-to-width variance request with the following reasoning:

(1) That substantial justice would weigh in favor of denial of the variance due to past denials of similar applications with regard to frontage. Additionally, the configuration of the property in question was similar to other parcels in the area, and therefore could set an undesirable precedent which would lead to further variance requests.

(2) That variance was not within the spirit and intent of the Ordinance due to the large degree of non-conformity being sought in the variance request.

(3) That the hardship was self-created and that the configuration and reconfiguration of Parcels A and B were at the applicant's discretion.

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


The Board next considered the application of Brian Steensma on behalf of Steensma Lawn and Power Equipment for a variance from the outdoor display setback provisions of Section 31.403(d) so as to allow outdoor display of merchandise within the front setback area at 7561 Stadium Drive. The subject property is located in the "I-1" Industrial, Manufacturing/Service District and is Parcel No. 3905-34-185-033. The Report of the Planning and Zoning Department is incorporated herein by reference. Ms. Bugge presented an overhead projection depicting the site, as well as photographs of the site, including the proposed outdoor display areas.

It was noted that the Planning Commission had granted special exception use/site plan approval on January 26, 1995, under Section 41.401 to allow the subject site's use as a farm machinery and lawn equipment sales lot. Approval had been granted to the previous owner, Heslinga Lawn and Power Equipment. That approval limited outdoor display to the paved area under the front and side overhang of the building during business hours.

The applicant purchased the business earlier this year, including the subject property consisting of 2.5 acres, and an adjacent parcel to the east consisting of 1.9 acres. The adjacent parcel is used for storm water retention.

The Planning Commission considered a request on July 27 and August 10, 2000, and granted additional outdoor display area subject to the conditions of Section 31.403, unless a variance from sub-part (d) was granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals. It was noted that sub-part (d) requires outdoor display to conform to building setbacks which, in this case, was 120 feet from the center of the street right-of-way of Stadium Drive.

The applicant was requesting outdoor display beginning at the right-of-way line. The applicant stated that the variance was justified based on topography of the site which blocks the view of the front of the building when approaching the building from the east. It was stated that the existing permitted outdoor display could not be seen from the adjacent roadway. The proposed outdoor display would consist of approximately 4,775 square feet of lawn area to the north of the parking spaces in front of the building and about 1,875 square feet of lawn area to the east of the driveway and parking lot. Additionally, the applicant was using the northwest side lawn area for display.

It was noted that the Planning Commission had recognized that the applicant could not display in the paved or parking areas without disruption of site circulation and parking. Therefore, the existing site layout was another limitation on visibility of display.

Mr. Corakis stated that the Planning Commission had visited the site and noted that the display areas had been arranged so that customers could walk through the equipment and see it in its natural setting. The display areas were believed to be consisting of "display" rather than "storage" in that the applicant did not display numerous pieces of identical equipment.

Ms. Bugge stated that the instant case was "unusual" and did not arise very often. She stated that existing car dealerships which display close to the road pre-exist current Ordinance provisions. One request received in 1996 had been denied because display could be placed in conformance with the Ordinance provisions and still be visible. Two other applications had been granted. One application was located within the Village District, and the other was granted based on lack of visibility.

Ms. Bugge stated that, since this use was approved as an outdoor sales lot and the topography presented visibility problems for the display area, the Board could consider this a unique application.

The applicant was present, noting that the previous owner had very limited display area which had no real visibility from the road. Further, the approved display area was under an overhang which presented a problem for the applicant. Twenty to forty percent of the equipment of the applicant would not fit under this overhang. The applicant expressed the opinion of the lack of appropriate display may have been part of the reason why the prior owner did not flourish at this site. The applicant stated that neighboring property owners approved of the proposed display, noting that Mr. Schramm had appeared at the Planning Commission meeting stating that he had no problem with the proposed display. Further, they had received a lot of positive feedback from customers concerning the display. In addition, he believes that business had increased since the display was established.

The Chairperson asked whether the display would be year round, and the applicant responded that display would be significantly reduced during winter months. The applicant might have snow removal equipment on display, but did not envision winter recreational equipment.

Ms. Kuntzman wondered whether the applicant had agricultural equipment, and the applicant responded that agricultural equipment was not sold and that the largest of the machinery on site was a 4-wheel drive diesel tractor. Ms. Bugge noted that the subject site is in the Industrial zone, and therefore, agricultural equipment could be sold by special exception use permit.

There was discussion of the used equipment display on the northwest side, and the applicant indicated that this equipment was not dismantled and was all workable.

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

The Chairperson stated that he felt a variance was appropriate in this circumstance, given the distinguishing factors involved and the type of equipment displayed, the location of the display and the topography which limited visibility.

Mr. Bushouse had questions about the effect of possible widening of Stadium Drive might have. It was noted that the Planning Commission had concluded that, if Stadium Drive were widened, then the subject site would be less visible due to an increase in the extreme topography and grade change between the roadway and the subject site.

After further discussion, Mr. Corakis moved to grant a variance as requested by the applicant based upon the discussion and analysis of the Board. Mr. Bushouse seconded the motion, and the motion carried unanimously.


There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

Minutes Prepared:
September 12, 2000

Minutes Approved:
October 2, 2000