CATAWBA ISLAND TOWNSHIP BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
MAY 11, 2011
The regular meeting of the Catawba Island Township Board of Zoning Appeals was called to order by Chairman Bryan Baugh at 7:30 p.m. in the conference room. Other Board members present were Jack Devore, Tom Anslow, and Jack Ziegler alternate; asked to sit on Board. Secretary for the meeting was Sandra Erwin and she was asked to vote as an alternate. Walt Wehenkel, the zoning Inspector was also present.
The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the introductions of the Board Members and a brief overview of the meeting proceedings by Chairman Bryan Baugh. All those in attendance were asked to sign in by Chairman Baugh.
The Secretary, Sandra Erwin, read the summary of case #543644. Said request is to allow for an area variance from the existing lot coverage requirement of 39% to 43% and a reduction of the side yard setback on the south side from 5 feet to 2 feet. Said applicant is proposing to cover an existing deck as well as a new 12 ‘by 12’ patio. Owner of record is Randy Scherf.
There is no conflict of interest for the board members.
Chairman Baugh reminded everyone that this meeting is being tape recorded.
Bryan asked if Mr. Randy Scherf is present and then sworn him into the record.
Randy Scherf would like to introduce his wife, Jennifer, Ken Sparo the contractor, and Pete Johnson the architect. Bryan stated that Randy had brought the whole crew to the meeting. Mr. Scherf stated that if any questions came about he would have the answers available. Mr. Randy Scherf gave a bio on his family history on Catawba. The family has spent 35 seasons in the area, with 17 years on Catawba. They are trying to move to the area; might be Danbury or Catawba. They own property in both areas, but with the property values at this time it is going to take some time. He is a CFO of a company and his wife Jennifer owns her own Health Care Company. They love the area and the property. Randy wants to go through a time line of activities regarding the property that they own. December 2010 – contacted a Heating /contractor to work with the awning but something happened with that contractor in his family and took awhile to find another contractor for the job. Found Sparo Construction in March of 2011 in the mean time Sparo hired BEC to survey the property because one was never done on the property. We then went to the zoning inspector for the necessary building permits.
On 3/20/11 building permit was applied for and received and then requested document to be filled out by the Harbor Park Association.
4/20/11 Construction was started on the project. Footers were dug then a visit from the zoning inspector (Walt Wehenkel). He asked that the construction be stopped stating that he needed more information. Stopped construction, cleaned site, put back (close) to what it was like and applied for the necessary variance. And that is how we are here today. There are some quirks with our structure. We know today that our current structure is 2 feet off the property line. We never knew that before the survey. We are trying to make the cover over our deck to be in line with the rest of the house. The area that is in question is the patio area not the deck. The patio area is 12’ by 12’. The 2 foot off the property we need to put a post. We removed a tree from the property that was on our property. That tree is from the dock area and deck and also the neighbor south of us. We know we are over the 39% of coverage; we are within a ½ percent of our neighbor right now. Another thing that we tried to do is to make sure that the roof is high enough so that their line of view would not be affected. We would like not to be putting up umbrellas all the time. The front of our house is all windows, so we would like to keep the view clean. We are spending good money for this project. It would increase the value of the house and then increase taxes that would benefit the township also.
Chairman Baugh asked the Board if they have any questions for Mr. Scherf.
Jack Ziegler asked if the patio was ground level. Mr. Randy Scherf stated that they bought the property in 200/2001 and all the structures were there. Car port was put in and when they poured the floor they extended the floor about 4 feet past the car port and sun room. This is where the 2 feet from the line come into play. We would like to finish the patio out so everything is finished looking. Yes, the patio is ground level.
Chairman Baugh asked again when they bought the property. Mr. Scherf stated 200/2001. Chairman Baugh then asked if the car port was there and again Mr. Scherf stated that structure was there when they purchased the house.
The Car port was put on previously by a previous owner. We are just trying to follow the same lines of what we have.
Jack Devore asked Mr. Scherf is he planning to go out further from the deck. Mr. Scherf stated that they are not extending the deck. They are only covering the deck. Not changing the deck or ground area. The only area is that patch of grass.
Jack Ziegler asked that this is going to be open on all the sides of deck. Mr. Scherf stated it is only for the sun to cover the deck.
Chairman Baugh asked the audience if anyone would like to comment on this case.
Tom Corogin was asked to be sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Corogin was sworn in. Mr. Corogin states he has 2 lots on the Harbor end of the subdivision. He also stated that he was involved with the regulations of the lots. Originally the side set backs were 15 feet over time the township changed them to 5 feet. We want grass area between the homes and some elbow room for neighbors. We had two setbacks that we felt were very important, the side set back so that you had some privacy and the front set back was the channel so that everyone had a view of the water. So I would say to the board to respect our setback requirements and to remember that the neighborhood should not be jammed together so that we do not make is undesirable.
Mr. Scherf did not own the property when they gave the ok to build the car port. I just want to know what the objection is now that I only want to improve what I have. I just want to put a 6 x 6 post in when the previous owner put a room and a car port.
Mr. Corogin then stated that they need room for fire control and response. Dual purpose for having the room there so people are not on top of each other.
Ralph Mezaso was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Ralph introduced his wife Joan. They are the neighbors to the south of the property. They bought in 2002 and have enjoyed the area with their children and have had a great experience here. I got wind of the project when Randy called me about the beginning of April. That is the first I heard of the project. He had already gone and cut the tree down. It was his tree to cut down and the footers were already being poured. We had talked a few times over the next week or so and I told him I was going to object to his project. Randy and Jen have got along with us over the years. But I, we have made an investment with our property, we enjoy our view. I met with Randy’s architect and stood on our porch and just so you understand we are not just talking about a post from 2 feet from the line but also the roof line is coming over to the line. It is going to obstruct some of our view. We went into our kitchen and we have a window that looks out there and it is going to have some obstruction from what we have now. I wish that Randy had called me because at that time Randy knew that he needed a variance at that point. I don’t’ know if he would have called me if he did not need to get a variance. I think that I would have come up on memorial weekend and the project would have been done. The neighborly thing to do would have been to call your neighbor and tell them that he was going to cut down his tree. It did give us a lot of shade and coverage. I am here to protect my property of a structure coming within 2 feet of my property and obstructing our view. So I am asking the board to hear my complaints
Dee Dee Kramer was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. I am stating again a grave concern to me is the concern of fire trucks to get in-between the buildings in case of fire. We have seen this once before in Roberts drive in Marblehead this past fall. Total of 14 houses involved. One house after another went down because they were to close together. I have a real issue. Also with the drawing I am not seeing the setbacks where they currently are at on this drawing. I see an enclosed porch that Ralph has where his view is going to be obstructed by an enclosed patio 12 x 12 144 sq feet. The other issue I have with it is the 43% coverage which I believe that the most we have had in our area is 41%.
Chairman Baugh thanked Kramer.
Chairman Baugh sworn in Jim Vacha Harbor Park. The only thing that Mr. Vacha wanted to add is that we have a compliance group in the park and we hold to 5 feet on the side setbacks. If we allow 2 feet tonight we are opening the doors to a big mess. I am quite impressed with the number of people here tonight. We have people coming to us with drawings and show it closer than 5feet and we as the compliance group say go away. We tell them that will not happen. We like to draw a line in the sand with the 5 feet. That is all he had to say.
Chairman Baugh sworn in Jennifer Scherf. My question is a dual question. Jennifer stated to Kramer that she thought the patio was enclosed. The patio is not enclosed. Kramer missed read the drawing, the only patio is covered. Jennifer states that we now know that our existing structure is now 2 feet from the line. She respects the rules but we are in a situation here and we thought we were doing the right thing. We were never trying to go behind anyone’s back with this project.
Ralph added one more thing that Randy informed him that his long term plans for the roof would not be enclosed. He has a lot for sale in west harbor and also his house is for sale in Cleveland and his intention is that within the next couple of years they would like to move closer to west Catawba near CIC with friends there and they would keep the property for rental property. Not sure why they would put that kind of money into a rental. The long term plans they will not be there in a couple years in Harbor Park. With renters coming in we have concerns. It is very nice that they have been coming up here all those years but, fine and dandy but the long term is not to be part of the association. So putting that up infringes on us and our property rights and view and 5feet. So they are moving forward anyways and they are not going to be there long term anyway.
Randy would like to clear the record. The Scherf’s are never selling 1680. The Scherf’s have a 7 year old daughter; where ever we move Danbury or Catawba we will be using that at least 3 months a year. That property will be a Scherf‘s property. We do not plan to leave the association.
Dee states that he has a roof going over the whole area. I did not see any set backs on the drawing.
Chairman Baugh closed the hearing to the public and now the board will discuss.
Pete Johnson was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Asked the board if they have the right drawings. Baugh states that it is clear to the board that the roof is not enclosed.
It is now closed to the public. Board members let’s have a talk.
Jack Devore is going through the finding of the facts.
The deck is already there they are only going to cover it. No great deal of change.
Is the variance substantial yes.
Will it change the neighborhood. There are many houses that have the same closeness.
Was the owner aware of the line. He was not aware until he had it surveyed.
Spirit and intent behind requirements. You are never going to appease everyone he is not expending any thing there but the roof line.
For the record we have read the find of facts.
Tom Anslow I am embarrassed and a little of confused with the survey. 113 vs. 117. Which do we go by? The number will affect the coverage. The one is the builders and the other is the architect. Pete Johnson will you come to the table. Tom thinks he knows the answers. Pete shows the survey from BEC. Tom sees the pins on the charts. Bryan is questioning the front setbacks. Walt can you give us a clarification of the front setback of 25ft. Who ever built the deck never obtained a permit for the deck. There is a permit for the car port and room. But it is a pre-existing structure. Tom is getting back to the plot lines. He goes to 44% unless someone else has different numbers. Considering it at 43 or 44. You can’t have everything you have 2 feet on the side but then you cannot have the coverage.
Jack Ziegler asked Pete Johnson was there any consideration about only going over the deck. Mr. Johnson stated that there was but, it was not very appealing. Mr. Johnson has the calculations from BEC and it comes to 43.2%. Tom Anslow would like to see that sheet. Square footages are listed that are on record at the auditor office. What is the coverage without the patio (Jack Zeigler). Tom took all the numbers from all the coverage’s. The lot is 50 feet wide.
If you take 117 x 50 you get 58.50 then the numbers off the drawings 25.74 / 58.50 you get 44% even dead even. That is what you guys like me to do. Tom is the number guy. It is suppose to be 39% now you go to 12.8 % percent more coverage. Where do you draw the line that is Tom’s opinion? Chairman Baugh states that he has a few ideas that he would like to throw out to the board. You have neighbors that are objecting. You have the Harbor park association objecting. You have a 12.8 percent increase in coverage we should take in consideration. My concern is finding of fact #4; would the variance effect governmental services, garbage, water, sewer; the property lines and the structure to the south is close. If there was a fire the fire department would have a difficult time getting there. If the board is done deliberating.
Tom Anslow makes a motion to approve case #543644 as written. Jack Ziegler seconds the motion.
Vote: Tom Anslow – no Jack Devore – no Jack Zeigler – no Sandy Erwin – yes
3-1 the request has been denied. You are welcome to stay for the rest of the meeting if you like.
2nd case; Case #543642 said request is to allow for a lot width reduction from 80ft to 37 feet. A lot area variance from 11,000 square feet to 4,250 square feet, a variance to allow an accessory building without a principal building. And a height variance for the accessory building from 15’ to 22’. Owner of record is William Nottke. All fees were paid and was in the paper.
The board has no conflict with this case.
Chairman Baugh sworn in Mr. Nottke; First I did not know what to expect here tonight. But with that said let me present my case. My wife and I are both teachers. She has recently retired and I am planning in the near future. We are planning to live here on Catawba. Having said that you realize the need for a cottage and garage. To put all the toys, boats and jet skis. Probably we should discuss the deed restrictions. The deed restrictions are what they are. I would like to put a garage up on 110 vacant lot, 111 have the house and lot 35 around the corner. We would like to build a garage an attach it to lot 35. The deed restriction states that you cannot but a garage up on a vacant lot. If we can put legal words together to make sure that the garage is always connected to lot 35. The reason we do not want to attach it to the 111 lot is we might not always own that lot. Now this house hangs over this lot. So we want to shrink the lot size. Height requirements so we can put our boat inside the garage and a little loft. My wife Kathy.
Chairman Baugh sworn in Kathy Nottke. We want to build the garage to look like the house so that it will not stick out. The height required to make sure the 10foot door works.
The question of the deed restriction. Chairman Baugh asks who can address that issue.
Greg Pfier was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Pfier is an elected trustee of the association. I can give you documents that in 1923 that has 88 year durability. Here in the deed it states that a lot is a lot and only for private residence. Only way to have a garage on it is to have a house on that lot. It is a mute point. The deed restriction plainly states this. They bought 2 lots and each purchase this document was attached. I hope that the board takes in consideration that this is a document that the association lives by and the only way to change this is in a court of appeals.
Chairman Baugh stated that the township zoning appeal board supersedes any document that an association has on file. Walt Wehenkel corrected Chairman Baugh by stating that neither association supersedes each other.
The land owner can challenge the deed restriction in a court of appeals. Tom Anslow states that we cannot enforce your deed restrictions.
George Gastel, I am next door neighbor to the project. Facing the house on the left. I have been in Catawba Orchards for 20 years. I have had projects presented to the association. So no mystery of the project. It is going to be 15 feet from my new house. This structure will block out all light in my upper rooms. He thinks that his house is 30 feet tall. He feels that this project should not be approved.
Rick Solack was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Comment on the height of the structure. It is going to be up there really high.
Kathy Nottke no way was there any intent to slip this through. Our intent was to go to the township and then to the association.
Greg Pfier I don’t think the lots were attended for commercial development. There are other options out there. For all the toys and stuff we have. There are other places to go.
In that neighborhood a lot of people own lots that live in Berneal Beach. If this is granted we would have a lot of pole barns in the neighborhood with 600-900,000.00 homes. The door would be open for this pole barn situation. I think that we ask you to enforce Catawba’s restriction to not have any structure on any lot without a permanent house.
Mr. Nottke the structure was going to look exactly like the house. This was not going to be a pole barn per say.
Jack Devore so are the lots on one deed. Yes we would have to separate them.
Tom Higgins was sworn in. Other people wanted storage areas. There are lots in Danbury or near the airports. We just don’t want barns in the neighborhood.
Greg Pfier the rule is the rule.
Closed to the public. Chairman Baugh any questions from the board.
Jack Devore – I think it is a drastic change going from 50 foot to 37 foot and then they want to put a building on it. I am not in favor of this. If it was a new purchase it could not happen. The lot size would have to be 80 feet wide.
Tom Anslow even grandfathered in at 50 feet this is extreme. Looking in the book, when it talks of area variance these variances relate to the physical characteristic of the properties strict enforcement which would present practical difficulties that would make the property unusable. I see that granting this variance we are doing the exact opposite. It has practical purpose now if we grant the 37 foot lot it would only be usable for a barn.
Jack Zeigler – I feel that the association has their deed restrictions and to go against what they have been doing for years. I have a problem with that.
Chairman Baugh his thoughts are the same as the board. There are other options out there and those options are practical. I have a lot of concern with the closeness of the house next door. If there was a fire it could affect the other house. Also the height is a concern and then again the deed restrictions from the association are a concern.
Jack Devore with the finding of facts:
#1 - the lot will not be near the lot 35
#2 - comparing a house that is not next to them.
#3 it would change the deed restrictions
#4 no effect on these issues
#5 the thought came after we purchased the lot
#6 other options are out there for storage
#7 A new garage would only enhance the beauty of the neighborhood.
Motion to approve case # 543642 was made by Jack Ziegler and seconded by Jack Devore
Vote; Jack Zeigler –no Jack Devore – no Tom Anslow – no Sandy Erwin – no
Chairman Baugh stated that variance # 543642 has been denied.
Minutes from the April 13 meeting: Jack Devore motion to approve the minutes Jack Zeigler seconds the motion. All in favor: all were in favor.
Meeting was adjourn: