MINUTES OF THE CATAWBA ISLAND BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
December 10, 2014
Jim & Kathy Vacha
Greg & Jane Strayer
Dan & Dorothy Holan
Steve & Penny Alexander
Ken & Kathy Brown
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, Doug Blackburn, and Sandy Erwin. Chairman Baugh requested alternate member Jack Zeigler replace Tom Anslow and Shelly Stively replace Jack DeVore on the Board for the meeting. Walter Wehenkel, Township Zoning Inspector was introduced. 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, Sandra Erwin, to read the information for the first case.
Case #544800 – Sharon Tuttle
Mrs. Erwin stated the first case is a request for area variances being requested by Sharon Tuttle for property at 1571 Starboard Ave. and also known as Sublot 145 of Harbor Park Marina, Plat 6a in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-4”. This case was tabled at the April, 2014 meeting. The request is to 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. All notifications have occurred, the hearing was properly publicized and there is one piece of notarized correspondence from the Harbor Park Homeowner’s Association.
Mr. Wehenkel stated the lot coverage when initially requested was 42.24 percent. It has increased to 42.9 percent as part of the resubmission. Mr. Baugh asked if any Board member had a conflict of interest. There were none.
Mr. Baugh swore in Sharon Tuttle. Mrs. Tuttle stated she has submitted pictures of her plans to add a garage on the front of her home adjacent to Starboard Ave. The problem that occurred is the way the township calculates lot coverage now versus in the past. She wasted $1,100 for a survey at the request of the Homeowner’s Association. She was told her request would go through with the survey. Her survey did not match her neighbor’s survey. She stated Mr. Wehenkel told her that often happens depending upon the starting point the surveyor uses.
Mrs. Tuttle stated the records in the courthouse do not match what exists. For example, the size of her mobile home is wrong on the Auditor’s website. Her home measures 62 feet in length while the Auditor says it is 60 feet. If she used the Auditor’s record, she would be much closer to meeting the 39 percent lot coverage requirement. The real issue is there is a lack of consistency in the application of the regulations. There are different opinions with inconsistency within the subdivision itself. There is a house in the subdivision called “the yellow turd” which should not have been allowed. The regulations are intended to do what is best based upon the circumstances as well as safety for the residence.
Mrs. Tuttle stated the five foot rear yard setback variance from the road has been granted to many owners within the subdivision. The green space calculation is 42.9 percent. She is a permanent resident in the subdivision and needs a garage. The previous zoning inspector calculated lot area differently. The used the seawall in their calculation. Mr. Wehenkel told her she could not count the seawall as she does not own it even though she paid to have it installed. She feels there is green space there that should be included in the calculation.
Mrs. Tuttle reiterated there are so many inconsistencies that don’t exist elsewhere. She asked for an up to date review with the green space variance being granted similar to the one granted last month to Mr. Kunzen in the same subdivision. His was a waterside variance. Hers is on the street side and her garage will look like everyone else’s on the street. These are trailers and not houses and she is just asking for what others already have been given. Her garage size is caused by the angle of the lot. She asked the Board to consider what used to be allowed is different from what is allowed today. She stated that Tom Corogin agreed that the green space should include the sea wall even though he owns it.
Bryan Baugh thanked Mrs. Tuttle for her presentation. He asked if any Board members had questions for Mrs. Tuttle. There were none. He noted there is a notarized letter with supporting documentation from the Homeowner's Association and allowed time for the Board members to review this material.
Sandy Erwin stated there seems to be a concern over runoff from the new structure and where it will go. Mrs. Tuttle stated it will be attached to the down spouts where the water presently goes.
There is a pipe that goes through the sea wall about eleven feet under water. Kathi Petrie was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mrs. Petrie stated her concern is that the water goes to the channel. She lives across the street. Mr. Wehenkel stated drainage is a private civil matter between property owners and is not covered by zoning or enforceable by the zoning inspector.
Tom Lanzo was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Lanzo stated Mrs. Tuttle is asking for a 43% lot coverage variance. He felt she could reduce the garage size down to a two-car garage and reduce the lot coverage variance needed. Mrs. Tuttle stated a two car garage will not meet her needs and the angle of the lot will create depth issues. Mr. Lanzo asked what the depth from the garage to the road would be. Mrs. Tuttle stated it would be 5½ feet.
Jim Vacha was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Vacha stated Mrs. Tuttle submitted a drawing in April of this year that made no sense and she was turned down by the Homeowner’s Association. Last month she submitted a revised drawing. The Association has always protected the waterfront and setbacks on the channel as that is the reason why the residences bought their lots. Mrs. Tuttle’s lot is 54 feet wide by 117 feet deep. You can forget about the sea wall. The drawing she submitted showed 117 feet on one side and 118 feet on the other side. This drawing was also rejected by the Association.
Mr. Wehenkel wrote Mrs. Tuttle a letter stating the items that needed to be addressed with the drawing. Now the Association has a third drawing submitted and it was rejected again by the Association. The lot coverage issue that exists is partially caused by the deck that the Tuttle’s added to the structure in 2009. They showed it as being 27 feet from the channel. Walter Wehenkel’s predecessor did not check because if she had she would see it is only 22 feet from the water. Now Mrs. Tuttle wants to get more building on the other end as well. No one should be given 43 percent lot coverage. If the information is incorrect, she should get her “fanny” to the Courthouse and get it corrected.
The previous variance that Mrs. Tuttle referred to that was granted was for a house that is fifty feet back from the channel and it was for a pergola and not an enclosed structure. Granting a variance like that is sometimes okay, but the decision must be based upon the type of improvement.
Sharon Tuttle stated she was offended by Mr. Vacha’s comment about getting her “fanny” to the Courthouse. Mr. Baugh cautioned those in attendance to maintain decorum. Mrs. Tuttle stated the deck met the requirements of the township based upon the way the township measured in 2009. Bryan Baugh asked if the drawing is now correct. Mrs. Tuttle stated it is correct. Walter Wehenkel stated he was in the field and did the measuring with Mrs. Tuttle. The drawing is correct as it relates to the property that she owns.
Larry Valentine was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Valentine stated he is a member of the Association compliance committee. He stated he lives down by the “yellow turd” referred to earlier. He does not want to see additional problems. The rule says 39 percent and the Board should stick with that number.
Bryan Baugh closed the hearing portion as there was no additional testimony. He asked the Board members for their thoughts. Doug Blackburn stated the deck was allowed. It was approved to the outer wall which is not Mrs. Tuttle’s problem. A mistake was made and to the location of the lot line. There is no problem with the garage as proposed. It sits back 5 feet from the road. The deck is wrong, but the Board can’t make it right now. Bryan Baugh concurred stating the variance issue is lot coverage. The rear setback has been granted numerous times and the side setback is okay. Sandy Erwin stated she concurs with Doug’s summary and sees the snowball effect caused by the deck being improperly approved. Jack Zeigler stated the garage is similar to others on the street. The deck is a by-gone issue.
Mr. Baugh stated the drawing shows the garage at 31 feet. Mrs. Tuttle stated it is at 30 feet. The garage doors as shown on the original drawing have been reversed. Sandy Erwin stated that according to the Association, there is no drain out to the channel. Sharon Tuttle stated it is there and about ten feet under water. She promised the Board that the drainage would be properly handled. Jim Vacha of the Association stated there is no drain through the wall.
Bryan Baugh asked Sandy Erwin to read the Finding of Fact. The Board unanimously agreed with the responses to questions #2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. On questions #1 and 6, one Board member disagreed with the response.
Chairman Baugh stated the Homeowner’s Association does not support the variance request as submitted by Mrs. Tuttle. The Board does not need to follow the Association’s opinion, but should certainly consider it. Doug Blackburn moved to approve case # 544800 as presented. Jack Zeigler seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously passed.
Case #668113 – Greg and Jane Strayer
Bryan Baugh asked Sandy Erwin to read the information for the second case. The case is for area variances being requested by Greg & Mary Jane Strayer for property at 5813 Poplar Street and also being Lot 24 of Gem Beach Subdivision #4 in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “A”. The request would allow area variances from the required setbacks in the front yard (25’ to 12.5’), rear yard (25’ to 5’), and side yard (5’to 4’& 3’), allowable lot coverage from 30% to 41.6%, and a first floor area from 950 square feet to 909 square feet. The existing cottage will be removed and a new home built. All notifications have occurred and there is no notarized correspondence.
Bryan Baugh asked if there was a conflict of interest for any Board members. There were none. Mr. Baugh asked who was in attendance to address this case. Lee Short introduced himself as the architect. Mr. Short was sworn in by Chairman Baugh.
Mr. Short asked if he could approach the table with a drawing of the proposal. Mr. Baugh agreed that Mr. Short should come forward. Mr. Short stated the owner purchased the cottage about 6 years ago. They liked the Gem Beach area so much that they have decided to sell their home in Fremont and retire here. He looked at the existing structure with the Strayers. The house is about 1½ feet lower than the surrounding structures. There is a lot of water damage because it is so much lower. After examining the structure, it was determined that it would be better to tear it down and start over with a slightly larger structure.
The lot is only 56 feet by 58 feet. Using a drawing he showed the Board how he tried to use the existing footprint. He shifted it back and over about three feet to make it fit better on the lot. By doing this, he can get a two car garage and 18 feet of pavement. He kept it as compact as possible. There is only 905 square feet of living space on the first floor, but more than the required living area in the entire structure. Mr. Dickenson who lives across the street was granted a similar side setback variance for his addition against the farm field. The front porch line is similar to others on the street. The porch will remain open. The structure is a two story structure with storage over the garage. He realizes it is a lot of house for a small lot, but the Township is seeing more of this and not less. He offered to answer questions.
Bryan Baugh stated there is a utility pole in the northeast corner of the lot. It seems to be close to the proposed house. Mr. Short said the house was lined up with the existing shed and the pole is actually on the lot line. Sandy Erwin asked if the owner was going to raise the lot with fill. Mr. Short stated it would be built as a slab on grade with no steps onto the porch. That will alleviate the grade issue in the rear.
Jack Zeigler asked if Poplar was a private street. Mr. Short stated that it was private. The setback on the field side will be three feet. The Strayers have approached the owner of the field concerning purchasing some additional land, but to no avail. Bryan Baugh asked if there was any testimony by the audience. There was none and Mr. Baugh closed the hearing.
Jack Zeigler stated the neighborhood and lot sizes caused a lot of this type of variance request. The lots are just small. Bryan Baugh asked Sandy Erwin to read the Finding of Fact. The Board agreed with the response provided to all of the questions. Sandy Erwin moved to approve case #668113 as presented. Shelly Stively seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
Case # 668117 – Jerry Puffenberger
Sandy Erwin presented the following information for this variance request. The request is for area variances being requested by Jerry Puffenberger for property at 2667 E. Sand Road and also being Lot 30 of Crescent Beach Subdivision C in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-3”. The request is to allow area variances from the required maximum height of an accessory building (21.5’ vs. 15’) as well as the maximum square footage allowed for an accessory building (800 square feet vs. 750 square feet). The owner wishes to expand the existing accessory building built in 1945. All notifications have been made and there is no notarized correspondence.
Mr. Baugh asked if any Board member had a conflict of interest with this case. There were none. Mr. Baugh asked who was present to discuss the application. Jerry Puffenberger introduced himself and was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Puffenberger made a brief presentation.
The property has been in his family for a long time. He simply wants to extend the garage by twelve feet and keep the same roof line. He has talked to his adjoining property owners and they have no objections to the addition. He offered to answer any questions.
Bryan Baugh asked how the garage is presently being used. Mr. Puffenberger stated he uses it for storage. Mr. Baugh asked if there is living space on the second floor. Mr. Puffenberger stated it could be in the future, but right now he is storing his “treasures” there. He also wants a little work shop area. Sandy Erwin asked if he owned the property all the way to Sand Road. Mr. Puffenberger stated that he did own it. Mrs. Erwin asked about the proposed drainage for the addition. Mr. Puffenberger stated he would maintain the existing drainage system (corrugated pipe) that allows it to drain into the grassy area where it is absorbed relatively quickly. Jack Zeigler asked if the existing porch would be enclosed by the addition. Mr. Puffenberger stated it was previously enclosed with windows. It will be enclosed.
There was no audience participation. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing. Doug Blackburn stated he thought the addition would be awesome. He will improve the neighborhood and the proposed use matches the roof height of the neighbor’s structure. Mr. Baugh stated the adjoining property has a similar building. The variance is not substantial and he has no real concerns. His only concern was the use of the second floor as living space. Mr. Puffenberger stated it had living space above it previously. Walter Wehenkel stated it would need to meet the conditions of a guest house in the zoning resolution and could not be used as a separate rental unit for other non-family members.
Bryan Baugh asked Sandy Erwin to read the Finding of Fact. The Board unanimously agreed with the responses to questions #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 7. There was significant difference in the opinions of the Board concerning question #6.
Doug Blackburn moved to approve case # 668117 as presented. Jack Zeigler seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Case # 668120 – The Loeffler Cottage Club
Bryan Baugh asked Sandy Erwin to present the information on the next case. Mrs. Erwin stated the request is for an area variance being requested by the Loeffler Cottage Club for property at 5846 E. Pittsburgh Street and also being in Section 3, Lot 13 of Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “A”. The request would allow an area variance from the required front yard setback of 50 feet to 26 feet. The owner wishes to add a front porch to the existing residential structure. All notifications have been made and there is no notarized correspondence.
Mr. Baugh asked if any members had a conflict of interest with this case. There was none.
Mr. Baugh asked who was present to discuss the request. Bill Conlisk introduced himself and was sworn in by Brian Baugh. Mr. Conlisk submitted a notarized letter to the Board from an adjoining property owner.
Mr. Conlisk stated the land was subdivided in the early 1900’s. His family purchased the lot and built the existing split level cottage in the early 1960’s. There is a cottage on either side of his structure and they are both in very good shape. He stated nothing has been done to change the appearance of the structure since it was built.
There are two improvements that the family would like to make to the cottage. First they would like to construct an octagonal gazebo on the front east side of the cottage. It will extend beyond the front of the cottage by five feet. A porch will be added along the east side of the cottage, but it will not require any variances. He stated he wished the family had gone with a different type of construction in 1960 besides the split level.
Jack Zeigler asked if both of the proposed improvements would be screened in. Mr. Conlisk stated that was correct. Bryan Baugh stated the drawing shows the gazebo addition on the north side. He wanted to make sure that was correct. Mr. Conlisk stated that was correct.
Steve Alexander was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Alexander stated he and his wife live in the adjoining cottage to the west, right next to Bill’s cottage. Their only concern is the site line issue when they sit on their porch. With the proposed addition, they will no longer be able to see straight out. They stood on the porch and had someone stand in the location of the gazebo and they realized the addition will create a minor issue for them. They really would prefer not to lose their site line, but if the addition is no more than five feet out from the front of the existing cottage, they can live with it. Their cottage has been in their family since the early 1900’s.
Bryan Baugh noted that if the 5 foot variance is granted by the Board, the landscaping in front of the addition cannot be controlled by zoning. Mr. Conlisk stated the landscaping would be kept low and would require little maintenance. Mr. Baugh asked for any other public participation. There was none and he closed the public hearing.
Doug Blackburn stated the existing porch is screened to the ground. He wondered if the addition would be as well. Mr. Conlisk stated it would be screened but they will be including a two foot knee wall to stop damage to the screen caused by pets and children. Mr. Blackburn asked if the gazebo would be at ground grade. Mr. Conlisk stated that it would match the existing porch with no steps. Mr. Blackburn stated the biggest issue he saw was the site line and the Alexander’s have addressed that issue.
Bryan Baugh requested Sandy Erwin read the Finding of Fact. The Board members agreed to the responses to all seven questions. Jack Zeigler moved to approve case #668120 as presented. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Case #668119 – Quinstock Farms LLC
Bryan Baugh asked Sandy Erwin to read the case information for the conditional use request.
Mrs. Erwin stated the request is for a conditional use permit requested by Quinstock Farms, LLC for property at 3630 N. East Catawba Road and also being in Section 3, Lot 9 of Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “C-1”. The request would allow a conditional use for a tavern and restaurant on a 5.2 acre parcel. The development would include a microbrewery, retail sales of agricultural and accessory products, along with a facility capable of holding various activities such as weddings, fundraisers, and corporate activities. All notifications were made and there was no notarized correspondence.
Bryan Baugh asked if any Board member had a conflict of interest. There were none. Mr. Baugh asked who was present to discuss this request. Quintin Smith introduced himself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh.
Mr. Smith stated he has met with several zoning boards over the past few months and has received approval of his plans. He has two site plan sketches to share with the Board this evening. The intent is to have the building pretty far off the road, but the final location may be driven by the cost associated with the water and sanitary sewer. He is presently negotiating with the County on that issue.
Sandy Erwin asked about the location of the existing fruit stand on the two sketches and Mr. Smith pointed out its location. He stated the older house to the south is vacant and may stay or be eliminated. The barn will be renovated and incorporated into the agricultural portion of the site. Doug Blackburn asked if the fruit stand would stay and Mr. Smith stated that it would stay.
Mr. Baugh stated one of the requirements is off-street parking. He felt both drawings addressed that issue. Quintin Smith indicated the wooded area could be used as well. Shelly Stively wondered if it could be seen from the road. Mr. Smith said most definitely if the old house is removed. Sandy Erwin asked how wide the drive entrance would be. Mr. Smith stated the present plan was that it would be wide enough for two cars to pass each other. Mrs. Erwin asked about lighting. Mr. Smith stated it would be lighted well enough to be safe, but the intent is to keep it low key. There will be no neon flashing signs and no lighting along East Catawba Road.
Bryan Baugh asked how high the structure would be. Mr. Smith stated it would meet the zoning codes and be less than 35 feet in height. He would like to remove the dirt and get to the limestone and use it as one of the walls of the structure. Mrs. Erwin stated it is supposed to be about 8,000 square feet and she wondered how that would be broken up. Mr. Smith stated nothing is finalized, but there would be about 3,500 square feet on the first floor and about 3,500 square feet in the basement for the microbrewery. He is asking for a little latitude at this time.
Sandra Erwin asked about the proposed hours of operation. Mr. Smith stated midnight would likely be the latest, but probably 11:00 p.m. Certainly not 2:00 in the morning. There has been a lot of debate among the family members concerning this issue. Doug Blackburn suggested that the winter hours might be different from the summer hours. Mr. Smith agreed.
Sandra Erwin asked if there would be music at the events. Mr. Smith stated that was likely to occur and the outside band would face to the west. He would anticipate this would occur only a few times each summer. Sandra Erwin asked about the number of seats or people that the facility would hold. Mr. Smith stated he would anticipate 60 seats on the main floor, 60 seats in the basement and 50 seats on the outside patios. Doug Blackburn stated the maximum would probably be 200. Mr. Smith said that would be only for a large wedding. A wedding could be held inside or outside or both.
Doug Blackburn stated there is presently no noise resolution by the Trustees. Mr. Smith would not anticipate noise would be an issue. Mrs. Erwin asked if electricity would be buried. Mr. Smith stated that it would be. Doug Blackburn asked if there was a need to stipulate tavern and restaurant and also snack bar. Mr. Wehenkel stated the only conditional use that was being considered at this time was a tavern and restaurant.
Jack Zeigler asked about the agricultural products that might be available on site. Mr. Smith stated jams, jellies, a gift shop, farmer’s market, hay rides, etc. He could do these under the present zoning, but wants everything incorporated. Bryan Baugh stated the conditional use is for a tavern and restaurant. Sandy Erwin asked if wedding reception fall into that category. The consensus of the Board is that it does. Doug Blackburn asked about any signage. Mr. Smith stated it has not been considered at this time, but would comply with existing zoning requirements. Mr. Baugh stated it would not be a “Mon Ami” sign. Mr. Smith stated he wants it to be hidden and low profile. That way you may avoid individuals you don’t want. The facility will make Catawba proud.
Jack Zeigler stated it all sounds good on the surface, but the Board must be concerned over possible future uses as well. Sandy Erwin stated noise is her major concern. Shelly Stively stated the local police can handle that. Doug Blackburn stated a noise resolution could be adopted by the Trustees if it creates a problem. It could be put into the motion of the Board, but based upon the proposed location, the woods will deaden it. Mr. Blackburn wondered if music would be piped into the various areas. Mr. Smith stated that might happen at the outdoor patio area, but not out to the road.
Mr. Smith stated many of the concerns voiced could occur in the agricultural use. Firing guns off for wildlife, building high silos, etc. could all be done without anyone’s permission. Shelly Stively asked how soon he would be opening. Mr. Smith stated they are still in the planning stages and considering viable options in case things don’t go as well as expected. Mr. Blackburn stated he thought what Mr. Smith was trying to accomplish was great.
Jack DeVore was sworn in by Mr. Baugh. Mr. DeVore stated his concern is over noise. It is possible to regulate by decibels. The Board could set limits at the boundaries of the properties. Mr. Blackburn wondered how many decibels would be acceptable. The industry standards is that prolonged period of 90 decibels is not good for the ear. Mr. DeVore stated he is more concerned about the person after Mr. Smith than he is with Mr. Smith. Mr. Blackburn reiterated he does not see noise as an issue and the Trustees could control it if it becomes an issue.
Mr. Baugh asked for additional testimony. There was none. He closed the hearing to the public and asked Sandy Erwin to read the Finding of Fact for the conditional use. The Board members unanimously agreed to the responses to all eleven statements.
Sandy Erwin asked about the drive into the property. Her concern is that the entrance would not be a “hidden drive”. Doug Blackburn stated the entrance is already there and stated it would be ODOT’s decision anyway because it is on a State highway. Bryan Baugh reminded the Board members that they can set conditions for a conditional use as identified by Mr. Wehenkel in his letter to the Board. However, he felt there has been plenty of good discussion on these matters and he believes the Board understands the proposal.
Sandy Erwin moved to approve the conditional use as stated on the application #668119 and discussed this evening. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously passed.
Approval of Minutes
Jack Zeigler moved to approve the November 12, 2014 meeting minutes. Shelly Stively seconded the motion. The motion was passed.
Bryan Baugh informed the Board that Tom Anslow had submitted a letter of resignation requesting the Township Trustees not reappoint him to the Board. Matt Montowski stated the Trustees have prepared a letter to Mr. Anslow thanking him for his years of service. Mr. Montowski read the Trustee’s letter to the Board.
Walter Wehenkel asked for an interpretation of renting one-family dwellings on a weekly basis in the “C” zoning districts. After reviewing the “C” zoning district, the Board’s interpretation is that weekly rentals would not be permitted without a use variance.
Doug Blackburn moved to adjourn the meeting. Sandy Erwin seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 9:26 p.m.
Bryan Baugh, Chairman Sandy Erwin, Secretary