MINUTES OF THE CATAWBA ISLAND BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
April 9, 2014
Jim & Kathy Vacha
James & Laura Owen
Ted & Rosemarie Sekinger
Tom & Valerie Szakovits
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, Jack DeVore, and Doug Blackburn. Alternates for the Board, Jack Zeigler and Shelly Stively, were in attendance and were asked by Chairman Baugh to participate as voting members for the evening. Shelly Stively was appointed acting Secretary. The zoning inspector, Walter Wehenkel, and Township Trustee Matt Montowski were also in attendance. Mr. Baugh read the meeting procedure. There were no questions on the procedure. Mr. Baugh asked Shelly Stively to read the information summary for the first case.
Case # 544800 – Sharon Tuttle
Shelly Stively stated the request is for area variances being requested by Sharon Tuttle for property at 1571 Starboard Avenue and also known as Sublot 145 of Harbor Park Marina, Plat 6A in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-4”. The request would allow area variances permitting the placement of an attached garage five feet from the rear lot line instead of the required thirty-five feet and a lot coverage variance from the required 39 percent to approximately 42.24 percent. Mrs. Stively stated there was no notarized correspondence, it was properly publicized, and all fees were paid. Chairman Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest. There were no conflicts. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to present the case. Sharon Tuttle introduced herself and was sworn in by Chairman Baugh.
Ms. Tuttle stated there was a question raised this afternoon that she needs to get clarified. She wondered if the telephone poles along Starboard Avenue are at the edge of the road right-of-way. Is that where her lot starts? Tom Corogin was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Corogin was the developer of Harbor Park. He stated he could not answer the question without having his subdivision drawings. Ted Sekinger was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Sekinger stated he had his lot surveyed recently. He shared his survey drawing with Ms. Tuttle and Mr. Corogin. Mr. Corogin stated it appears the utility poles are the limits of the road right-of-way. Ms. Tuttle stated the application may be incorrect based upon this information that was provided to her this afternoon. Chairman Baugh asked if Ms. Tuttle had her lot surveyed. Ms. Tuttle said she did not have it surveyed, but her lot is identical to Mr. Sekinger’s lot so his survey would apply to her lot. She has added footage on the water side, but nothing was added on the road side.
Bryan Baugh suggested that if she felt her measurements were not accurate, the Board could table the discussion until she had more accurate information. Ms. Tuttle stated she agreed with that thought. Bryan Baugh swore in John Chobin. Mr. Chobin stated he is a resident in the subdivision and the Chairman of the Harbor Park Compliance Committee. The typical lot in Harbor Park is 54 feet wide and 117 feet deep. Three walls have been added along the channel. The Compliance Committee added three feet to the lot for the three walls making the lot 120 feet deep. The Committee members measured 120 feet from the channel walls towards the street and determined where they believe the edge of the road right-of-way exists. There is a required five foot setback. The corner of the building lines up with Ted Sekinger’s line. The drawing appears to be in error.
With no further discussion, Jack Devore moved to table case #544800 to the May 14, 2014 meeting. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. Chairman Baugh asked Ms. Tuttle if the May 14th date provided sufficient time for her to get her information together. Ms. Tuttle said she thought that would be fine. The motion was passed and the case tabled.
Case # 668004 – James & Laura Owen
Shelly Stively presented the following information concerning this case. Several area variances are being requested by James & Laura Owen for property at 2952 Swift and also known as portions of Sublots 62 & 63 of Harbor Estates Subdivision in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-3”. The request would allow area variances permitting the placement of a new home 17 feet from the front lot line instead of the required 22.8 feet, 16 feet from the rear lot line instead of the required 25 feet, a lot coverage of 38.2% instead of the required 36% and a second floor dwelling area of 676 square feet instead of the required 750 square feet. Mrs. Stively stated there was no notarized correspondence, it was properly publicized, and all fees were paid. Chairman Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest. There were no conflicts. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to present the case. James and Laura Owen introduced themselves and were sworn in by Chairman Baugh.
Mr. Owen presented larger copies to the Board of the plans for the home. He stated the proposed home is close to what is already in the subdivision. He believes the proposed home would improve the values in the neighborhood. Mr. Baugh asked if the existing shed would be removed. Mr. Owen stated that it would be removed. Mr. DeVore asked Mr. Owen if he owned the lot to the north. Mrs. Owen stated that lot is owned by Mr. Jenkins who sold them the lot they are proposing to build upon. Mr. Baugh asked why the second floor is smaller containing only 676 square feet. Laura Owen stated the first floor contains more square footage than the required 750 square foot minimum. When you add the floors together, the required square footage exists. Mr. Owen added that the first floor is bigger as it contains the master bedroom. They would like to keep the master bedroom on the first floor for reasons associated with handicap needs and aging. Mrs. Owen added that it would help in resale value.
Chairman Baugh asked if the home was custom designed. Mr. Owen stated that it was custom designed. Jack Zeigler asked if they looked at increasing the second floor square footage. Mr. Owen stated they looked at it, but their main emphasis was keeping cost down and keeping the master bedroom on the first floor. Mr. Baugh asked about the lot size. Mr. Owen stated it was made up of two half lots and totals 60 feet by 80 feet which is the same size as other lots in the subdivision. Mr. Baugh stated the home to the north looks bigger. Mr. Owen stated his home is further back from the road that the home to the north. His variance requests include the steps in both the front and back yards. He was told the setback variances must include the steps. He added three feet for the stairs. If measurements were made to the foundation wall, his home is further back. Mr. Baugh asked if there were steps on the sides. Mr. Owen stated there was a step on the side, but its height is less than six inches above grade.
Chairman Baugh asked if anyone in attendance wanted to questions the applicants or present testimony for consideration by the Board. No one wanted to testify. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing.
Jack DeVore stated the layout was pretty clear to him. He felt it was a good design for a small lot. Bryan Baugh stated he had no concerns as the home lines up with others and the shed is being removed. He stated it is a little close in the rear yard, but not way out of line with the other homes. Doug Blackburn stated he was a little confused on site by the rear cut-out, but once Mr. Owen explained the steps it made more sense to him. Shelly Stively stated she had nothing to add. Jack Zeigler stated the lot was well marked. His only concern is the square footage on the second floor. He feels the request is marginal, but was concerned as to when the Board stops varying from the minimum standard established in the zoning resolution. Mr. Blackburn stated he was not concerned with the size of the second floor as the overall square footage is being met.
Chairman Baugh asked Shelly Stively to read the Finding of Fact questions. The Board members stated they felt the testimony and responses properly addressed the questions. They agreed with all of the questions and responses in the Finding of Fact.
Doug Blackburn moved to approve case # 668004 as presented. Jack Zeigler seconded the motion. The motion was passed.
Case # 668006 - Dennis Dickinson
Shelly Stively stated this area variance request is being requested by Dennis Dickinson for property at 5814 E. Poplar Avenue and also known as Sublot 18 of Gem Beach Subdivision, Plat 4 in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “A”. The request is to allow area variances permitting the placement of an addition on the west side of the home that is 1 foot from the side lot line instead of the required 6 feet and to allow the required lot coverage of 30% to be exceeded to 33.5%. Mrs. Stively stated there was no notarized correspondence, it was properly publicized, and all fees were paid. Chairman Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest. There were no conflicts. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to present the case. Dennis Dickinson introduced himself. Mr. Baugh swore in Mr. Dickinson.
Mr. Dickenson stated his ultimate plan is to retire here in a year or two and he wants to make this structure his year round home. Most of the homes in the subdivision are summer homes. He needs to add a utility room and bathroom to the existing structure in order to use it as a permanent residence. He stated he would put siding on the whole house once the addition is completed.
Jack Zeigler stated there are two dimensions on the drawings that are related to the size of the proposed addition. One dimension is 9 feet and one dimension is 8 feet. Mr. Dickinson stated the two dimensions were shown. He would prefer to build a nine foot addition. It makes a difference in the square footage of the addition. The field next to the home is zoned agricultural and a zero setback would not affect that owner.
Bryan Baugh asked Mr. Dickinson if he was requesting an amendment to his application to make his request a zero side yard setback. Mr. Dickinson stated he would prefer to build a 9 foot addition. He stated 8 feet would work and was looking for any insight from the Board. Mr. Baugh stated he does not remember the Board ever granting a zero setback. He further stated that if the application is amended to a zero setback and the Board votes against the zero setback, Mr. Dickinson would need to refile next month for the 1 foot setback.
Jack Zeigler stated the property may be zoned “A”, but it is ready for development. The owner was considering house lots in the last few years. Mr. Dickinson stated he talked to the owner recently and he is considering turning the property over to the County as a park. Mr. Zeigler stated it would be difficult with the request as it was submitted, never mind with a further reduction. Mr. Dickenson stated he would not amend his application at this time.
Jack DeVore stated there are buildings on other lots that are further to the west than Mr. Dickinson’s building. Some even look like they may be on or over the lot lie. Mr. Dickinson agreed stating his neighbor to the rear is on the lot line. Mr. Wehenkel stated these structures may have been built prior to 1965 when zoning went into effect. The Board must look at the existing situation, but also the present requirements.
Mr. Baugh asked Mr. Dickenson if he looked at other locations on the lot. Mr. Dickinson stated his back yard is limited now. He looked to the east, but it really isn’t functional there. Mr. Baugh stated there is a pergola in the back with a porch in the front. Mr. Dickinson stated there would be no yard left if he went to the rear. He looked at all possibilities and his proposal is the best option in his opinion. Mr. Baugh asked for any cross examination or other testimony from those in attendance. There was none. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing.
Jack DeVore stated this is a typical Gem Beach lot. He does not see anything outstanding with Mr. Dickinson’s request. Doug Blackburn stated everything is crunched together on these lots. Everyone is pushing out the lot envelope with existing sheds sitting on lot lines. Bryan Baugh stated his only concern is the 1 foot setback and the possibility that the vacant land could be developed in the future. Mr. Blackburn stated the owner of the vacant land is not concerned about the request or else they would be in attendance. Jack Zeigler stated he has the same concerns as Bryan Baugh with the setback. He is concerned it is “squeezing down” the available lot area. Shelly Stively stated she is also concerned with the setback, and though it may not be a problem now, it could be in the future.
Chairman Baugh asked Shelly Stively to read the Finding of Fact questions. The Board members unanimously agreed with the responses and testimony related to questions #1, #3, #4, and #5. The majority agreed with the responses to questions #2 and #7. They all disagreed with the responses and testimony related to question #6.
Jack Devore moved to approve case # 668006 as presented with the 1 foot side setback. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion passed with Jack Zeigler voting no.
Case # 668007 – Thomas and Valerie Szakovits
Mr. Baugh asked Shelly Stively to read the information concerning this request. Mrs. Stively stated the request is for area variances being requested by Tom & Valerie Szakovits for property at 5298 Lawrence Drive and also known as Sublot 8 of Maplewood Subdivision in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-3”. The request would allow area variances permitting the placement of a detached garage eighteen inches from the rear lot line instead of the required five feet, three feet from the main building instead of the required five feet, and seven and one-quarter feet from the second front yard instead of the required twenty-five feet.
Mrs. Stively stated there was no notarized correspondence, it was properly publicized, and all fees were paid. Chairman Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest. There were no conflicts. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to present the case. Tom & Valerie Szakovits introduced themselves. Tom Szakovits was sworn in by Chairman Baugh.
Mr. Szakovits stated his plan is to remove the existing shed that is there and build a garage that will be used for automobiles in the summer and the storage of his boat in the winter. Bryan Baugh stated that the existing shed would be gone. Mr. Szakovits stated that was correct.
Jack Zeigler asked if they thought about putting the garage closer to the house. Mr. Szakovits stated the grinder pump is in the way of doing that. Valerie Szakovits was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Valerie Szakovits asked if Mr. Zeigler was asking about the three foot separation. Mr. Zeigler wondered if they could be connected together. Mr. Szakovits stated there were several reasons why they could not do that. Circulation and drainage were the primary reasons. Mr. Wehenkel added that the side setback for an attached garage is ten feet versus the five foot setback for an accessory structure. Doug Blackburn stated firewalls would be required with the present construction plan. Mr. Szakovits stated he was aware of the fire wall requirements.
Bryan Baugh stated the neighbor to the west has a garage that looks to be about 13 feet from the Szakovits home. Tom Szakovits stated he believes there is about 10 feet between the home and the garage. Valerie stated the garage is 6 feet off the property line and there is about 6 feet from their home to the property line. Valerie Szakovits stated they found the pin in that corner of their lot. Doug Blackburn stated the garage appears to be on the lot line based upon the aerial submitted with the application. Valerie Szakovits stated the aerial is distorted. Jack Devore stated there is really no other location or option, except for a smaller garage.
Mr. Baugh asked if there was any additional testimony to be given. There being none, he closed the hearing to the public.
Jack DeVore stated this request is similar to the last two requests. Bryan Baugh stated that when he looked down Lawrence Drive there are other garages of similar size located as close to the property line as this request. Doug Blackburn asked how close the shed is to the property line to the south. Mr. Szakovits stated it is about 2 feet. Mrs. Szakovits stated the new garage would be located on the side lot line in the same location as the existing shed. Doug Blackburn stated there is no real drawn out issues here. The owners are asking for something that is acceptable to him. Bryan Baugh agreed that the request is not out of the ordinary, but he wondered how tall the garage would be. Mr. Szakovits stated it would be 15 foot at the highest point. Doug Blackburn wondered about overhang. Walter Wehenkel stated overhangs of 18 inches or less are not considered when establishing the side setback. Mr. Szakovits stated his overhang would be smaller for drainage purposes.
Mr. Baugh asked Shelly Stively to read the Finding of Fact questions. Based upon the responses and the testimony, the Board unanimously agreed with questions #1, #3, #4, #5, and #7 with a majority agreeing with question #2. The majority disagreed with question #6.
Jack Zeigler moved to approve case #668007 as presented. Shelly Stively seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Case # 668008 – Joseph & Sabrina Williamson
Chairman Baugh asked Shelly Stively to highlights the last case. The request is for area variances that are being requested by Joseph and Sabrina Williamson for property at 3940 Kirk Drive and also known as Sublot 17 of Kenykirk Subdivision B in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-3”. The request would allow area variances permitting the placement of an attached garage/addition nineteen feet from the rear lot line instead of the required twenty-five feet as well as four plus feet from the side lot line instead of the required ten feet. Mrs. Stively stated there was no notarized correspondence, it was properly publicized, and all fees were paid. Chairman Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest. There were no conflicts. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to present the case. Joseph Williamson introduced himself and was sworn in by Chairman Baugh.
Mr. Williamson stated they are looking at moving here full time. The home has three bedrooms and one bath. They are looking at attaching the existing garage to the house and building an additional structure for parking of cars and a shop for his woodworking hobby. He stated two of his neighbors are in attendance.
Bryan Baugh stated there is no lot coverage shown. Walter Wehenkel explained he had calculated the lot coverage and the proposal was significantly less than allowed. He read the lot calculation numbers to the Board. Mr. Baugh stated it was very clear on site as to what Mr. Williamson was planning. Jack DeVore agreed the lot was well marked. Mr. Baugh stated it is an odd-shaped lot. Mr. Williamson’s letter pretty well explained his plans. He wondered if the lot had been surveyed. Mr. Williamson stated the previous owner had the lot surveyed. He had found 3 of the 4 pins.
Alan Lavik was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Lavik stated he is the neighbor to the west. The present structure is 4 feet from the lot line now. Continuing that setback will not create any problems for him. It will not block his view. Mr. Baugh asked Mr. Higgins, another neighbor, if he had anything to say. Mr. Higgins had no comments. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing.
Doug Blackburn stated he had a concern with the lot coverage, but talked to Mr. Wehenkel earlier about that issue. The neighbors are not concerned and the proposal goes with the flow of the lot. Mr. DeVore agreed and stated it was well marked. Mr. Baugh stated he initially thought the lot coverage would be exceeded, but once he looked at it more closely, he realized it was fine. Mr. Zeigler stated he had no questions and felt it ties in well with what is there. Shelly Stively had no comments.
Chairman Baugh requested Shelly Stively read the Finding of Fact questions. The Board Members unanimously agreed with the responses and testimony given for questions #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #7. The majority of members agreed with question #6.
Doug Blackburn moved to approve case # 668008 as presented. Jack Devore seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval of Minutes – March 19, 2014
Shelly Stively moved to approve the meeting minutes as mailed. Jack Zeigler seconded the motion. The motion passed with Jack DeVore abstaining.
Mr. Wehenkel discussed the Rob Hammer situation at 5310 Hull Drive. Variances were given to Mr. Hull by the Board based upon a drawing. When Mr. Wehenkel did a field inspection he found Mr. Hammer had revised the drawing and was constructing something that was slightly different. He provided the Board members the differences.
Based upon the fact that the new drawing was smaller than the approved drawing, he allowed Mr. Hammer to proceed. He sought advice as to whether he should have done that or if the Board had issues with his actions. He stated he tried to contact the Chairman who was unavailable. He made a field decision. A general discussion followed.
The Board’s consensus was that Mr. Wehenkel’s decision was acceptable. If in the future a similar situation occurs, Mr. Wehenkel should seek input from the Chairman or Vice Chairman if possible and use his best discretion.
Finding of Fact
Chairman Baugh discussed some concerns about the Finding of Fact. He felt that the Board members may be considering the responses and agreeing to them instead of the bigger issue raised by the question. The testimony and field observations have to be considered as well. A general discussion followed. No changes to the procedure were recommended.
Jack Zeigler moved to adjourn the meeting. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Bryan Baugh, Chairman Shelly Stively, Acting Secretary