MINUTES OF THE CATAWBA ISLAND BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
June 10, 2015
Sandra & Michael Spuhler
Jim & Kathy Vacha
Chairman Bryan Baugh called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Board members were introduced by Chairman Bryan Baugh and included: Sandy Erwin, Jack Zeigler, Jack DeVore and Doug Blackburn along with alternate member, Tim McKenna. Mr. Baugh then introduced Walter Wehenkel, Township Zoning Inspector, and Matt Montowski, Township Trustee. Mr. Baugh read through the procedure to be followed for the meeting. He asked if there were any questions regarding the procedure by those in attendance and there were no questions.
Mr. Baugh asked the secretary, Sandra Erwin, to read the information for the first case to be discussed.
Case #668158 – Michael and Sandra Spuhler
Mrs. Erwin presented the following information for this case. Mrs. Erwin stated the property is at 2970 Heron Drive and also known as lots 25 & 26 of Harbor Estates in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-3”. The request would allow an area variance from the required rear yard setback. The required rear yard setback of 25 feet would be reduced to 16.6 feet. A new home will be constructed on the lot. All fees have been paid and proper notifications made. There is 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 the request. Sandra Spuhler introduced herself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh.
Mrs. Spuhler stated they are planning to build a new home. They had a cottage on the lot and tore it down. The only issue with the proposed new home is the back porch. The Spuhler’s would like to have the back porch and need the variance. Bryan Baugh asked Mrs. Spuhler to describe the porch. She stated it has a roof over it and would be open on the sides with a concrete floor. Mr. Baugh asked if the Spuhler’s would plan to enclose it. Mrs. Spuhler stated that is not the present plan. Sandra Erwin asked if there would be steps associated with the porch. Jack DeVore added steps would change the variance request. Mrs. Spuhler shared a drawing of the porch with the Board members. Mr. Wehenkel noted that a height of eight inches or less from grade would not require a step or variance change.
Mr. DeVore stated the porch does not appear to be at grade. Doug Blackburn stated the drawing shows the 8 inch block and the porch appears to only be one block off the ground so a step would not be required. Bryan Baugh stated the step, if needed, could be off the ends of the porch. Sandra Erwin stated a variance would not be required for a side step. Bryan Baugh noted the porch roof is a part of the roof covering the structure. It would be enclosed on top.
Jack DeVore asked if the existing shed would be removed. Mrs. Spuhler said they are not sure what they will do with the shed. Mr. DeVore stated it appears to be on the neighbor’s property. Bryan Baugh stated it is pre-existing and lot coverage is not an issue. Mrs. Spuhler asked if the Board members understood the flags. Mr. DeVore started he had a difficult time with the flags. Mrs. Spuhler stated she did her best to place them accurately.
Mrs. Spuhler stated Harbor Estates is not a “cookie cutter” subdivision where all homes look alike. Mr. Baugh asked if the lots were surveyed and combined into one lot. Mrs. Spuhler stated they were surveyed and combined. Mr. Baugh asked for any other testimony. There being none, the public hearing was closed.
Doug Blackburn stated he did not see anything that jumped out at him. The existing shed on the adjoining lot is further back than the one on this lot. Bryan Baugh stated the proposed structure looks nice. He is a little concerned about the property to the west that is vacant. Doug Blackburn said if it is used for a driveway there would be no issue. The owners should have been notified and are not in attendance. Jack DeVore sated he saw no major issues except for the shed which could be dragged forward two feet to get it on the property. Bryan Baugh agreed, but stated it has no impact on the present request. Jack Zeigler and Sandra Erwin had no issues.
Bryan Baugh requested Sandra Erwin read the Finding of Fact. The Board unanimously voted yes on questions #1, 5, 6, and 7. The Board unanimously voted no on questions #2, 3, & 4.
Doug Blackburn moved to approve application # 668158 as presented with the stipulation that if the porch is ever enclosed, another variance request would be required before the enclosure can occur. Sandra Erwin seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Case #668161 – Leroy & Shannon Frantz
Bryan Baugh requested Sandra Erwin read the information for the second case. Mrs. Erwin stated the property is located at 1647 N. Anchor Ave and is also known as Lot 82 of Harbor Park Marina in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “R-4”. The request is to allow area variances from the required side and rear setbacks. The required rear yard setback of 25 feet is being reduced to 18.6 feet and the required side yard setback is being reduced from five feet to one foot. A new home will replace the existing home. All fees have been paid and proper notifications have been made. There is a notarized document that was presented to you this evening.
Bryan Baugh asked if there was any conflict of interest by any Board member. There was none. Mr. Baugh asked who was present to discuss this application. Mr. Leroy Frantz introduced himself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh.
Mr. Frantz stated he and his wife own the lot and are replacing the existing mobile home with a new home. They live next door to his wife’s parents and the plans are to merge the two lots into one lot in the future when the parents no longer reside there. Mr. Baugh asked if the lots could be merged now. Mr. Frantz stated the lots would not be combined until after the death of the parents.
Jack Devore stated he has concern over a one foot setback, especially if the lots do not get combined for some reason. If they are not combined, there is a structure one foot from the lot line. Doug Blackburn agreed and stated the worst case scenario is not a desirable situation. Leroy Frantz stated that is not going to happen. The lot will stay in the family. The family has had a presence here since 1976 and he and his wife have been here since the early 1990’s.
Wayne Pilny introduced himself and was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Pilny stated he owns the adjoining lot. When the Cooks were selling their lot, his daughter bought it. It has been in the family ever since. His daughter will get their lot when something happens to him and his wife. The cul-de-sac is partially on his lot. Jack Zeigler stated he understood the cul-de-sac issue, but his concern is the one foot setback because things don’t always work out the way they are planned.
Bryan Baugh asked Mr. Frantz if the one foot proposal is measured from the gutter or the foundation. Mr. Frantz stated he was not sure. Walter Wehenkel stated overhangs up to 18 inches in length are not included in the setback. If the one foot measurement is to the foundation, the overhand could overlap the lot line. Mr. Frantz stated the edge of the overhang could be set at one foot if that is what the Board wants. Doug Blackburn stated it is important to know what is being requested and proposed. Mr. Frantz stated he will do what the Board wants and the builder will need to shorten the house to accomplish it.
Tom Corogin introduced himself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh. Mr. Corogin gave a brief history of the subdivision. There are 150 lots of which over 100 are waterfront lot. The old bulkheads were wooden and are now all steel. They hold the lots in place. There is a twenty-five foot setback required from the channel as the deadmen for the steel wall are about eighteen feet back from the wall. Heavy equipment is required to do this type of work. A variation from that setback would be a mistake. The twenty-five foot setback must be maintained to provide protection for the deadmen. Mr. Frantz stated his request will maintain the twenty-five foot setback from the channel, but not from the sea wall on the north side.
Bryan Baugh asked about the proposed decks. Sandra Erwin stated there was an email from the Frantzs’ indicating the decks were not being built. Doug Blackburn stated any work on the sea wall on the north would be a problem with only a five foot space. Mr. Frantz stated some work could be done from the water if it were necessary.
Ken Brown introduced himself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh. Mr. Brown, who is with the Homeowner’s Association, stated he is against the one foot variance. His concern is if things don’t go as planned, there could be a fire hazard situation. He also questioned if a house could be built over the deadmen that are holding the north sea wall. He believed that the home could be “slid” to the northeast along the angle of the wall and still maintains the five foot setback. He approached the table and showed on a drawing what he meant.
Wayne Pilny stated the north wall was tin when his daughter bought the lot. The wall on the channel side and the sea wall were both improved and will last a long, long time. Walter Wehenkel stated there was often confusion, as in the Tuttle case, as to who owns the wall. The owner does not always own the wall. He asked Mr. Corogin if he knew who owned these walls. Mr. Corogin stated he was unsure.
Jim Vacha introduced himself and was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Vacha stated he represents the Homeowner’s Association. They are concerned about the deadmen being built over. The house will likely last much longer than the wall will last. Stuff happens and if the worst case scenario presents itself, a one foot setback is not desirable. The Association has held everyone to five feet on the sides.
Doug Blackburn stated that if no one buys the lot, it will never be an issue. It would remain a vacant lot. Mr. Vacha stated he would be more comfortable if the trade or sale occurred now. Would have-could have is not a desirable situation. The Association has worked hard to clean up the subdivision. This would be a step backwards.
Doug Blackburn asked Mr. Frantz if he understood Mr. Brown’s proposal. Mr. Frantz stated he wants to keep everyone happy. He will combine it now if that would make everyone happy. Mr. Baugh asked for additional testimony. There was none. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing.
Sandra Erwin stated she did not truly understand Mr. Brown’s proposal. Doug Blackburn showed Mrs. Erwin on paper what was being suggested. Jack Devore stated if the home is being stick built, the applicant can build something that conforms to the setbacks. Mr. Blackburn suggested that Mr. Frantz check out the concept that Mr. Brown is proposing to see if it works for him or not. Mr. Frantz stated he would have to look at it and see. He stated he will do whatever it takes.
Sandra Erwin asked if there were any architectural drawings. Mr. Baugh stated the footprint drawing is all that exists. Doug Blackburn noted this is a uniquely shaped lot and that should be taken into consideration. Mr. Baugh stated he understood that, but the request is for a one foot side yard setback and an eighteen foot rear yard setback. Sandra Erwin stated she would like better drawings and suggested the application be tabled until next month’s meeting. Jack DeVore agreed stating a better drawing with more detail would be helpful. Mr. Baugh explained the Board could vote on the application. If it was denied, the applicant would need to refile it. It could be tabled with more information provided, or it could be voted on and possibly approved this evening.
Mr. Frantz asked if the lots could just be tied together. Mr. Wehenkel stated if they were combined, a variance would be required allowing two homes on one lot. Doug Blackburn added if the lots were combined and one of the homes was removed, it would be okay. Jack Zeigler added if Mr. Brown’s plan were to work, the setback variance might not be needed and the application withdrawn. Mr. Baugh stated if it was continued, it would be heard at the July 8th meeting of the Board. Mr. Frantz stated he really did not want to be slowed down. Mr. Baugh stated the Board could vote on the application tonight, but if it was denied, he would be back in July anyway.
Mr. DeVore moved to table application # 668161. Jack Zeigler seconded the motion. The motion was passed.
Case # 668162 Larry Dyer
Bryan Baugh asked Sandra Erwin to read the information for the third case. Mrs. Erwin stated the request is for area variances and is being requested by Larry and Rebecca Dyer for property at 5397 Greenview Drive and also known as lot 11 of Greenview Subdivision in Catawba Island Township. The property is zoned “C-4”, but the “R-4” zoning requirements apply. The request would allow area variances from the required rear and side yard setbacks for an accessory building. The required rear yard setback of 20 feet is being reduced to 2 feet. The required side yard setback of 5 feet is being reduced to 1 foot. A 10 foot by 14 foot shed with roof overhangs will be constructed on the lot if the variances are approved.
Mr. Baugh asked if there was a conflict of interest for any Board member. There was none. Larry Dyer introduced himself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh. Larry Dyer stated the back corner of his lot is not good for very much use. The boat yard is immediately behind his lot. He would prefer not to cut down the big tree in his back yard. If he moved the shed to another location, he either blocks his own view or that of his neighbors. The neighbor’s lot next to the shed location has a hedge along the property line, so they will not be affected by the construction.
Bryan Baugh noted it was difficult finding the property. He suggested Mr. Dyer consider putting house number on his structure. Mr. Dyer stated he had a sign out front. Mr. DeVore stated he met Larry while he visited the site. He understood the request and has no problems with trying to save the tree. Sandra Erwin stated she had no questions. Jack Zeigler asked about the roof extensions. Mr. Dyer stated the concrete will be larger than the building. There will be a roof over the south man door as well as the east overhead door. Mr. Baugh asked about the size of the overhead door. Mr. Dyer stated it would be 5 feet by 6 feet 9 inches.
Rocky Piacentino introduced himself and was sworn in by Mr. Baugh. Mr. Piacentino stated he owns the boat yard. His question is if there is an alternative location for the shed, why should the applicant be able to request to put it somewhere where a variance is required. He is concerned over others making similar setback requests. Mr. Baugh stated each case is considered on its own merits. The variance procedure is prescribed in the zoning resolution and individuals file their application and the Board makes the decision. Doug Blackburn added there are other sheds back there already.
Mr. Dyer explained he wants to put it there because it is a dead corner. It does not block anyone’s views and is the least objectionable location in his mind. Mr. Zeigler asked if electricity would be run to the shed. My Dyer stated he would like to have some sort of power. Mr. Zeigler stated having electricity increases the fire risk. Mr. Dyer indicated he could create a fire wall on the north side of the building. Mr. Blackburn asked Mr. Piacentino how close the boats are to the lot line. Mr. Piacentino stated they are about ten feet off the line. He always looked at both setbacks to reach a greater separation. If it does not set a precedent, his concern is lessened. Larry has done a lot to improve his house and property. Bryan Baugh asked what materials would be used in the construction of the shed. Mr. Dyer stated it would be wood framed with vinyl siding matching what is on his house. Mr. Baugh asked for additional testimony. There was none and the hearing was closed.
Mr. Baugh asked Sandra Erwin to read the Finding of Fact. The Board members unanimously voted yes on questions #1, 5, 6, and 7. They unanimously voted no on questions #3 and 4. On questions two, one member voted yes with the remainder voting no.
Mr. Baugh asked for a motion on case #668162. Jack DeVore moved to approve the variance as presented. Sandra Erwin seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Approval of May 13, 2015 Minutes
Jack Zeigler moved to approval the minutes as mailed. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion was passed.
Mr. Wehenkel asked if he Board’s interpretation was that a self-contained food service truck would be considered portable vending equipment as defined in the zoning resolution. He shared pictures of the vehicle. After reviewing the pictures and the definition, the Board stated in their opinion it was portable vending equipment subject to the conditions established in the definition.
Jack DeVore moved to adjourn. The motion was seconded by Sandra Erwin. The meeting was adjourned at 8:29 p.m.
Bryan Baugh, Chairman Sandra Erwin, Secretary