Minutes: February 10th, 2010

Catawba Island Township Board of Zoning Appeals

February 10, 2010

The regular meeting of the Catawba Island Township Board of Zoning Appeals was called to order by Vice-Chairman Bryan Baugh at 7:30 in the conference room. Present were Jack DeVore, Tom Anslow, Doug Blackburn, Pat Cerny, Matt Montowski, Robert Exner and Ray Petersen. The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the introduction of Board members and a brief overview of the meeting proceedings.

Case # 543505 – Robert Exner – 1310 Northwest Catawba Road, Lot 20 – R-3 Zoning
Pat Cerny read the area variance request for a rear yard setback of 3 feet, instead of the required 25 feet, for a sunroom addition. The 3 feet is from Lot 21. Bryan Baugh invited Robert Exner to make his presentation.

Robert Exner stated he removed a 20 year old concrete deck from the back of his house because it was falling apart. Robert Exner said he would like to expand the back of his house to add more living space. He noted he would like to cover the same foot print as the removed concrete deck. Robert Exner said he does not want to add to the entire length of the house, but rather just add a 10’ by 15’ addition. Robert Exner stated he checked with the neighbors and they did not have any objections to the addition. Robert Exner also said he owned lot 21 adjacent to the property. He stated his house is sitting on part of Lot 19 and all of Lot 20. Robert Exner said Ray Petersen’s family owns Lot 18 and part of Lot 19. He said about 10 years ago Ray Petersen’s family sold half of Lot 19 to him and they share a driveway. Robert Exner stated his neighbor Ronald May, who owns Lots 22 and 23, sent in an email. Pat Cerny said she did not receive the email. Robert Exner had a copy of the letter from Ronald May.

Pat Cerny read correspondence from Ronald May of 1319 Orchard Beach Drive, Port Clinton. “I will be unable to attend the appeals meeting for Robert Exner on February 10, 2010 (Public Hearing 543505). If I were able to attend, it would be to encourage the Board to allow this variance. I have had discussions with Mr. Exner about the proposed addition and I believe it will be attractive and an overall improvement to our neighborhood. Sincerely Ronald W. May”.

Bryan Baugh restated for clarification that Robert Exner wanted to build a 10’ by 15’ addition with a 6’ deck. Robert Exner stated yes, the deck would be off the sunroom. Tom Anslow asked if part of the deck was going to be raised. Robert Exner replied the deck the addition would be sitting on is about two and a half feet off the ground. Doug Blackburn asked what the overall dimension of the new addition would be including the raised decking. Robert Exner replied the new addition would be 10’ and 15’ and the small deck would be 6’ by 10’.

Jack DeVore said he stopped by Robert Exner’s property Monday and could not find any flags laid out as required. Robert Exner said he put them out and then last weekend he couldn’t find any either. Robert Exner asked if the deck was shown on the paper he submitted. Jack DeVore stated it gives a rough sketch but there should be pins laid out where the property lines are and where the deck is going to be. Jack DeVore stated that is one of their requirements. Tom Anslow and Doug Blackburn said they visited the property and did not see any flags.

Jack DeVore asked Robert Exner if he had ever considered combining the two properties because then he would not need a variance. Robert Exner said he had not given it a lot of thought, but he would prefer to keep the two properties separate. He stated that is one reason he did not extend it beyond the original deck size.

Bryan Baugh stated he also tried to view the property and could not find any markers. He said one of the things the Board is really strict on is having markers in the area of the proposed addition laid out so Board members can visually see the proposed request. Bryan Baugh stated it is hard to visualize it on paper or with a verbal description so they like to see those flags. Robert Exner said he does not know what happened in the four days after he put the flags out. Bryan Baugh said he knows in the winter time with snow storms it can be tough, but without the pins it is hard for Board members to visualize the addition.

Doug Blackburn said to Robert Exner that if they give him the variance for the setback and then he sells the adjacent lot, that lot may be borderline as to whether or not you could build on it and then we could be here again doing the same thing for another owner because Robert Exner’s property would be pushing right up to the edge of the property line. Doug Blackburn said it is close. He said to Robert Exner that he may say he is never going to sell the lot, but never is a long time. Robert Exner said he has had the property for 15 or 16 years and he has never really thought about building on it or selling the property. He said he plans on keeping the house and retiring there and that is why he wants to build the addition. Robert Exner said Ron May’s house, next to his, is quite old and he has two lots. Robert Exner said his thought was at some point possibly buying one of Ron May’s lots that he has just a garage sitting on and doing something with that lot himself.

Jack DeVore said from the sketch Robert Exner gave them it looks like the addition is almost on the line. Robert Exner said there is a survey pin in place from when he sold half of the lot to Ray Petersen’s family and it extended about three feet past the original deck. He said that is where he came up with the three feet. Ray Petersen said the addition Robert Exner would like to make is no larger than the foot print of the dilapidated porch that was there and torn out. Doug Blackburn said but he is increasing coverage of the property because he is building an addition and an above ground deck so it becomes part of the house so to speak.

Bryan Baugh asked if the deck was going to be wood. Robert Exner replied yes it would be a wood deck. Tom Anslow asked what part of the deck was going to be raised according to the drawing. Robert Exner replied 21’ by 10’ and the addition was going to be sitting on the 10’ by 15’ raised deck. Robert Exner said he is not sure what he is going to do for the ground level deck but it would not extend past the property line. He said the ground level may be poured concrete, possibly stamped and colored. Robert Exner stated he is not making it any bigger than the original deck. He said he is making it decorative and not putting up a three season room that will fall over in five of ten years. Robert Exner said he is making the addition permanent to the house.

Bryan Baugh asked how long ago the porch was torn down. Robert Exner said it was taken down in November of last year. Bryan Baugh asked if the porch had a foundation under it. Robert Exner said yes there is a foundation there but it can not be built on top of according to the person that tore it down for him. Bryan Baugh stated for clarification the addition with the deck is going to occupy the exact same footprint. Robert Exner said it will actually occupy less than the concrete deck because the deck extended the whole length of the house. Robert Exner said the previous raised deck was 10’ by 48’. Bryan Baugh asked Robert Exner or Ray Petersen if they had anything else to add. Robert Exner said if the Board would like he would go back and put pins in again to mark the property.

Bryan Baugh closed the discussion to the floor and asked Board members to discuss the case. Jack DeVore stated that since Robert Exner owned the other lot he would like to see him combine the two lots so there would be no problem now or in the future. Doug Blackburn said he agrees with Jack DeVore. He said Robert Exner has the lot readily available for his usage. Tom Anslow said if he were in Robert Exner’s shoes he would not want to join the properties because you would lose value. Tom Anslow said he keeps reading through the resolution where it discusses area variances and it says strict enforcement of the requirements would present practical difficulties basically making the property unusable. Tom Anslow said he wonders without the variance is Robert Exner’s land practically unusable. Tom Anslow said he does not think so. He said it is a want as opposed to a need and three feet is pretty tight. Tom Anslow said if Robert Exner joins the two properties he would have no issue but he sees no reason why he would want to do that.

Bryan Baugh asked if the Board would like to take into consideration the fact that there was already a raised porch there before and the new addition would be going on the same footprint. Jack DeVore said he doesn’t see why that has anything to do with it. Pat Cerny said it may have been built before zoning and that is why it was there.

Doug Blackburn asked if Robert Exner is technically living within his existing footprint. Bryan Baugh said that is the point of bringing it up. Doug Blackburn asked if it could be grandfathered in. Pat Cerny said the old deck was grandfathered in but not the new one. Bryan Baugh asked if the fact that it was not marked very well concern anyone or is that just a minor thing in the big picture. Doug Blackburn said it was a minor thing because he can visualize it and see the angles and know what is going on. Although, he said he would be a little more comfortable if it were marked.

Tom Anslow said it would not make any difference to him because he can not go for three feet period. Jack DeVore agreed, it would not make any difference to him due to the situation that could arise in the future if the lot is sold. Jack DeVore said he would look at it differently if Robert Exner were on a confined lot that he did not own. Jack DeVore said but Robert Exner does own the other lot and he has an option.

Bryan Baugh asked if there were any further comments from the Board or from Robert Exner before they take a vote. Robert Exner said if three feet were not enough, is it all or nothing. Robert Exner asked if six feet instead of three would make a difference. Bryan Baugh told Robert Exner he could modify the variance. Following a brief discussion on different options, Bryan Baugh asked the Board if they would like to consider an amendment.

Ray Petersen said since Robert Exner moved next door in the early nineties he has redone his place and everything that has been done between them has been done to better the area, the neighborhood, and benefit the island. Ray Petersen said he did not believe Robert Exner would ever do anything that would harm or devalue the property. Ray Petersen said what was taken down was an eye sore and Robert Exner did that to expand his place and make it more valuable, but also to make the whole area nice. Ray Petersen said Robert Exner asked the opinions of his neighbors before jumping into the project.

Doug Blackburn said maybe we should think about the elevated pad that was in place previously as Bryan Baugh had mentioned earlier. Tom Anslow said but it was there and now it is gone and we are tied by the book. Bryan Baugh said the house is already only 13 feet from the property line now. He said our book tells us the setback for a rear yard like that is 25 feet so the house is already within the 25 feet. Bryan Baugh said he has a hard time granting a variance to lessen that distance because he has other options. Bryan Baugh said if the situation changes in the future and Robert Exner needs to sell the vacant lot next to his, now there is a situation where someone wants to build on that property and there is almost an encroachment because now you are only three feet away from their property. Robert Exner said but they would know that at the time of purchase. Tom Anslow said we have found many times where the property owner will say his neighbor has just three feet so I want to build my house with only three feet or four feet because that is one foot further in than my neighbor. Tom Anslow said we run into fire and rescue problems and that is the reason for the setbacks. He said even in the narrowest neighborhoods we have minimum side yard setbacks of five foot.

Following a brief discussion of other options, Bryan Baugh asked Robert Exner if he wanted to consider amending the variance for steps. Robert Exner replied yes. Bryan Baugh said he is not trying to coach but asked Robert Exner if he wanted a variance for a setback of ten foot in lieu of the three foot which would give him three foot for steps. Robert Exner said he would need at least four foot for steps. Bryan Baugh said the variance would be amended for nine foot then instead of ten foot.

Robert Exner asked what the process would be if he decided to combine the two lots. Pat Cerny said he would need to go to the Recorder’s office. Pat Cerny told Robert Exner another option would be to check with the Recorder first and then come back next month with a decision. Bryan Baugh said the case could be tabled until next month if he wanted.

Robert Exner said he would like to talk with the Recorder and wait until next month. He thanked the Board for their time.

Doug Blackburn made a motion to table Case #543505. Jack DeVore seconded the motion. Doug Blackburn, yes; Jack DeVore, yes; Tom Anslow, yes; and Bryan Baugh, yes. Motion approved to table Case #543505.

The next meeting will be March 10, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

Jack DeVore made a motion to approve the January 13, 2010 meeting minutes, seconded by Tom Anslow. Doug Blackburn abstained. Jack DeVore, aye, Tom Anslow, aye, and Bryan Baugh, aye.

Tom Anslow made a motion to approve the October 14, 2009 meeting minutes, Jack DeVore seconded the motion. Doug Blackburn abstained. Jack DeVore, aye, Tom Anslow, aye, and Bryan Baugh, aye.

Jack DeVore made a motion to adjourn the meeting seconded by Doug Blackburn. The motion was carried unanimously.