MINUTES OF THE CATAWBA ISLAND BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
November 13, 2013
Greg & Linda Peiffer
Maxine & Bob Wilson
Irma & Ralph Hammer
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Chairman Bryan Baugh called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Board members in attendance were Bryan Baugh, Sandy Erwin, Doug Blackburn, Tom Anslow and Jack DeVore. Chairman Baugh introduced alternate members Jack Zeigler and Shelly Stively, as well as zoning inspector, Walter Wehenkel. Matt Montowski, Township Trustee was also in attendance. Mr. Baugh read through the procedure to be followed for the meeting. There were no questions concerning the procedure by those in attendance.
Mr. Baugh asked the secretary, Sandy Erwin, to read the information for the first case.
Case # 544772 – Robert & Bridget Hammer
Area variances are being requested by Robert and Bridget Hammer for property at 5310 E. Hull Drive and also known as lot 12 of Johnson’s Landing Subdivision A in Catawba Island Township. The property is presently zoned “R-3”. The request is to allow area variances permitting an addition to the existing home to be closer to the road right of way on a corner lot than permitted. The required second front setback is twenty-five feet and the application requests a one foot setback. The existing front yard setback on the channel of fifteen feet will be reduced to eleven feet by the addition and new porch, and the lot coverage will exceed the 36% permitted. All notifications have been given and there was no notarized correspondence.
Bryan Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest with this case. There were no conflicts. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to present the facts surrounding the request to the Board. Rob Hammer introduced himself. Mr. Baugh swore in Mr. Hammer.
Mr. Hammer stated he and his wife purchased the structure about three years ago. It is a 900 square foot cottage with 2 bedrooms. The request will allow the addition of another bedroom and bathroom. The Hammers have three children and the cottage is pretty small with three kids sleeping in one bedroom. The variance would allow an addition very close to the gravel road.
Jack Devore asked if the Hammers own one or two lots. Mr. Hammer stated he purchased a lot plus a reserved area that was sixteen feet wide. The two parcels were combined into one lot by the County Auditor’s office. Mr. DeVore asked who owns west of that lot. Mr. Hammer stated that is the road right-of-way. There is no lot. Mr. Hammer used an aerial map and plat map to explain the location to the Board.
Mr. Baugh asked where the connection to the existing home would occur. Mr. Hammer used a site plan map to explain where the connection would occur. He stated the homes to the east of his home extend much further out than his proposal to the south. Mr. Baugh stated he noticed a manhole along the west side of the lot. Mr. Hammer stated the manhole is nine feet from the edge of the proposed addition and eight feet from the property line. Mr. Baugh stated one of the Board’s concerns is the delivery of governmental services such as sanitary sewer. Mr. Hammer stated that is not really a zoning issue. Mr. Wehenkel explained that during the building permit process, the Ottawa County Sanitary Engineer would be given the opportunity to review the building plans and determine any conflicts with their infrastructure. At that review time, any required safeguards would be identified.
Doug Blackburn stated the proposed addition is really close to the road. The house to the south is set in deeper than this proposal. Mr. Blackburn stated he does not like it so close to the drive. He asked Mr. Hammer if he considered going up versus out. Mr. Hammer stated there is less traffic than one would expect. There is plenty of room to get through. It is a thirty-two foot drive. Mr. Blackburn stated he is concerned with only a one foot setback. Mr. Hammer stated they looked at going up, but it was cost prohibitive to do so and there would be major renovations issues surrounding the internal stairway.
Mr. Baugh asked if it was a slab on grade construction. Mr. Hammer stated the existing home is built on a crawl space. The kitchen area was added in 1973. It sounds tight, but has the appearance of a lot of room when inside the structure. Mr. Blackburn asked if a fourteen foot wide room was really needed. He noted the Board should not change plans by the applicant. Mr. Hammer stated a twelve foot room is a decent size room, but a fourteen foot room would provide more options.
Tom Anslow stated the drawing explains the proposal well. It is a really tight situation. His concern is that the lot coverage is over 47% based upon his calculation and not 38+% as shown on the application. Walter Wehenkel asked Mr. Anslow if his calculation included the patio. Mr. Anslow stated it did. Mr. Wehenkel stated in his discussions with Mr. Hammer, he was told the patio was flush with the ground. Mr. Anslow stated it is flush with the ground, but there is a canopy over the top of it. Mr. Hammer stated he had a conversation with Mr. Wehenkel, but the fact that it was covered was never brought up during that discussion. Mr. Blackburn stated the canopy could be removed. Mr. Hammer stated he preferred not to do that and the defense for the variance request is the fact there is a lot of space there. Sandy Erwin noted the space is not owned by Mr. Hammer. Mr. Hammer agreed.
Mr. Hammer stated the front steps on the Cline residence will likely be closer to the road than his addition. He guessed they will be one foot. He stated the gravel adjacent to his lot is not even close to the lot line. Sandy Erwin asked if Mr. Hammer considered placing the addition where the patio is located. Mr. Hammer stated a person would need to go through one bedroom to get to the new bedroom. The existing interior layout just wouldn’t work well. The proposed location is not really used where the patio area is used.
Mr. Baugh asked if anyone in the audience had any comments. Mr. Ralph Hammer raised his hand to speak and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh. Mr. Hammer a stated he has lived on Starboard in the subdivision for over fifty years. His house is two houses away from Ken Cline’s house. The driveway from State Route 53 is only thirty feet wide. The drive near the house is thirty-two feet wide. There is not much traffic on either road. The drive that serves his lot is only twenty feet in width. Bryan Baugh asked if he objects to the variance request. Mr. Hammer stated he did not object. The grass is wider than the drive is.
Rob Hammer stated he wished to correct an earlier statement he had made. The road is thirty-four feet wide and not thirty-two feet wide. He explained the drive locations and widths using a plat map of Johnson’s Landing. Doug Blackburn questioned the term “Reserve Area” on the plat map. Mr. Wehenkel explained the Reserve Area was set aside by the original developer for some purpose. It was subsequently sold to the adjoining lot owner when it was no longer necessary.
Bryan Baugh asked for any additional testimony. There was none to be given. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing portion of the meeting and opened it up to discussion by the Board members.
Jack DeVore stated a variance to only one foot is considerable. The revised lot coverage of forty-seven plus percent is also considerable. The location of the lot allows for more liberal thinking as the amount of traffic is less now and not likely to increase in the future. Mr. Blackburn stated he looked at the situation several times. The house with only a one foot setback with a road next to it, concerns him. The risk of someone hitting the house with a car is considerable. A fire would raise many issues as well. One foot is not that much of a setback. Tom Anslow stated that everything that concerns him has been stated. The two issues are the setback and the requested lot coverage. He stated he does not anticipate the road will ever be paved. Sandra Erwin stated the lot coverage issue could be minimized with the removal of the canopy over the patio. Mr. Baugh stated he concurred with the Board’s comments on both issues.
Rob Hammer stated Ken Cline has a greater lot coverage than what he is requesting on his lot. His front steps will be within a foot of the road right-of-way. Mr. Baugh asked Mr. Wehenkel what percent of lot coverage was granted to Mr. Cline. Mr. Wehenkel, after checking the record, stated it was fifty-seven percent, but prefaced that comment with the fact that the Board granted a variance to allow Mr. Cline to replace the fire damaged structure exactly as it was before the fire.
Mr. Baugh asked Mr. Hammer if he was willing to compromise on anything. The applicant may amend his application after hearing the concerns of the Board or the applicant may leave it as submitted. The Board would vote on the request as submitted or amended. Mr. Hammer stated the concerns were as much setback as lot coverage. If he reduced the setbacks request, it would also reduce the lot coverage portion of the request. He could accept a thirteen foot wide bedroom versus a fourteen foot wide bedroom. Mr. Blackburn asked if he would be willing to remove the shed on the lot. Mr. Hammer stated there was no way with three kids that he would want to do that.
Mr. Hammer stated he really did not want to delay a decision and come back next month. He would like to get started on the addition in December. Mr. Wehenkel asked if the addition to the porch could be eliminated or at least square up with the edge of the addition. Mr. Hammer stated that was an option, but not a preferred one.
Mr. Anslow stated the Board is not here to say no. The Board always tries to work with the applicant. There is no magic number on the percent of lot coverage that is acceptable or unacceptable. A general discussion on a variety of options occurred between the Board and the applicant.
Mr. Hammer stated he would be willing to reduce the width of the addition to thirteen feet for its entire length. Mr. Blackburn asked if he was willing to change the porch as well. He suggested the addition be 13 feet by 30 feet and the porch be 8 feet by 14 feet. Mr. Hammer stated he would not want to reduce the length of the addition. He could work with an addition that was 13 feet by 32 feet and a porch that was 8 feet by 14 feet. The Board calculated the reduction in lot coverage with these changes and noted it would be 45.76%.
Bryan Baugh requested Sandra Erwin read the Finding of Fact. The Board unanimously agreed with the responses to questions 1, 3, & 7. There was no consensus on questions 4 & 6. There was majority consensus with questions 2 & 5.
Sandra Erwin moved to approve case # 544772 as follows: allow an addition that has a two foot setback on the west side and is thirty-two feet long, allow an eight foot by fourteen foot porch addition with an eleven foot setback in the front, and allow a lot coverage on the lot of 45.76% with the additions. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion passed by a 3 to 1 vote with Tom Anslow casting the no vote.
Case # 544774 – Gregory & Linda Peiffer
Bryan Baugh asked Sandra Erwin to present the facts on the next variance request. The area variance is being requested by Greg and Linda Peiffer for property at 1314 N. Orchard Beach Drive and also known as lots 90 & 91 of Orchard Beach Subdivision in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-3”. The request is to allow an area variance permitting an addition to the existing home to be closer to the road right of way/front yard than permitted. The required front yard setback is thirty-five feet and the application requests a setback of thirty-one feet, four inches. A new porch is being proposed.
Bryan Baugh asked if any member of the Board had a conflict of interest with the case. There were none. Mr. Baugh asked who was present to discuss this request. Greg Peiffer introduced himself. Mr. Baugh swore in Mr. Peiffer.
Mr. Peiffer stated he and his wife Linda are looking at adding a second story. For aesthetic reasons, an addition to the front porch will be appropriate. The addition will only be two feet and four inches. The porch is presently eighteen inches closer than it should be to the front lot line. When you combine these two dimensions, the request is for a setback thirty-one feet and four inches. The porch will be forty feet from the driving surface. Mr. Peiffer stated he was unaware of the existing encroachment until he met with Mr. Wehenkel concerning the proposed addition. It was at that time that he filed the variance request.
Jack Devore stated this request is pretty cut and dry. Doug Blackburn stated he had one question which was about the setbacks for the corner lot. Mr. Wehenkel noted that one front yard must meet the district requirement (35 feet in this case) with the other front yard setback permitted at twenty-five feet. Tom Anslow and Sandra Erwin indicated they had no questions. Mr. Baugh asked for any additional testimony. There was none offered. Mr. Baugh closed the meeting to the public.
Mr. Baugh stated he believes the request is fine. It lines up with the houses to the east and is a modest request. Mr. Blackburn stated it is nice to have a pre-existing situation corrected through a variance request. Tom Anslow agreed that it was a very modest request.
Bryan Baugh request Sandra Erwin read the Finding of Fact. The Board unanimously agreed with all of the applicant’s responses.
Tom Anslow asked Mr. Peiffer about the depth of the soffit. Mr. Peiffer stated the overhang is two feet in depth which added to the need for the variance. Mr. Anslow asked Mr. Wehenkel if overhang is counted. Mr. Wehenkel stated overhand of eighteen inches or less are not counted. Mr. Peiffer stated the freeze boards add to the depth appearance. Mr. Anslow stated the Board tries to “cover all of its bases.”
Jack Devore moved to approve case # 544774 as presented. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval on the October 9, 2013 Meeting Minutes
Doug Blackburn stated the word “were” should be changed to the words “was” in the first paragraph. Jack DeVore moved to approve the meeting minutes as amended. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion was passed with Tom Anslow abstaining.
Mr. Wehenkel reported that Mr. Kasten had a survey completed and his accessory building is only about 2 ½ feet from the property line. He will be making arrangements to move the accessory building to bring it into compliance.
A question was raised about an accessory building at the corner of East Catawba Road and Konker Road. Mr. Wehenkel noted that the new building will be attached to the existing home and will be compliant with the zoning regulations.
Jack DeVore announced he will not be in attendance at the December 11, 2013 meeting.
Tom Anslow moved to adjourn the meeting. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Bryan Baugh, Chairman Sandra Erwin, Secretary