Minutes: March 24th, 2010

Catawba Island Township
Zoning Commission Meeting

March 24, 2010

The meeting was called to order by Chairperson Paul Patterson at 7:30 p.m in the conference room.

Present were Chairperson Paul Patterson, Vice-Chairperson Patti Piacentino, Paul Shaw, Jordan Davenport, Will Moore, Zoning Inspector Pat Cerny, and alternates Larry Cline and Keith Fisher.

Also in attendance were James Barney, John Wood, Nicole Wood, Greg Wood, Brad Wood, Tony Corona, Jim Stouffer, Jack DeVore and Matt Montowski.

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence for our troops. Paul Patterson introduced the Board members and gave a brief overview of meeting proceedings.

Case #543412 - Owner John H. Woods of 2393 NW Catawba Road, requests to rezone his parcel of 4.18 acres from the A District to the R-2 District to split the parcel. Adjoining property owners to the north are Robert and Patricia Schraidt, south and east is Midland Title Agency, and T and T Developers across the road.

Paul Patterson read a letter from Regional Planning Director Todd Bickley outlining the details of the Rezoning Request. The letter concluded with the following statement: “Based upon the recommendations of the Catawba Island Land Use Plan, the Commission voted to recommend the rezoning request be disapproved.”

James Barney, Attorney, spoke on behalf of John Wood. He said they spoke with Regional Planning last week explaining John Wood’s desire to split the property so that his two sons can be willed equal parcels of land. James Barney said Mr. Wood is getting older and he would like to divide up his property now because he understands things can get complicated. James Barney said John Wood would like to split the property and build something he can live in and then give that parcel to one son and the other parcel to the other son. He said they have some storage in the mobile homes located on the property and their intent is to clean up the property and remove the mobile homes. James Barney stated changing the zoning to R-2 would not allow anything to be put there that can not be put there now. He said the difference is, theoretically, they could put more of them. James Barney said if the property is rezoned to R-2 it would remain residential.

James Barney commented on the recommendation of Regional Planning. He said after they discussed it the bottom line came down to the fact it was against the Land Use Plan. James Barney stated he thinks that is the job of Regional Planning to look at the Plan and abide by the Plan. James Barney said he thinks at this level just blindly following the plan is taking away from the Zoning Commission’s job and discretion. He said he thinks the Zoning Commission has the opportunity to look at the facts, circumstances, and the uniqueness of this property in this situation and how it doesn’t comply with the Land Use Plan as it is drawn up, but it doesn’t break the spirit of the Land Use Plan because it is still going to be a low density area.

Jordan Davenport asked if they were referring to just two parcels when talking about splitting the property. James Barney said correct. He said the property would be split down the middle from east to west lengthwise which would make an odd shaped lot but, after exploring other options of a two lot subdivision, it was determined a subdivision would be too cost prohibitive.

Paul Patterson opened the floor to comments or questions. Jim Stouffer, one of the surrounding property owners, stated the Wood’s family has been great neighbors. Jim Stouffer stated his organization has no problem with the concept of what they are trying to do. Jim Stouffer said he believes whole-heartedly in their right to do with their land as they desire. He stated their only concern is the establishment of that R-2 provision in the center of the island relative to the consistency with the prior zoning that has taken place over the last 30 to 35 years. Jim Stouffer said the question is what happens down the road if there are additional transfers through the generations or other parties. He asked how that density provision plays into the future. Jim Stouffer said they are very supportive and would like to see them accomplish what they are doing and he admires that fact that it is a generational event. He stated it is just a question of how it is done to be consistent and he offered his help in any way if possible.

Larry Cline said his understanding is that Zoning came to Catawba in 1965 and
Mr. Wood has owned the property since before that time, therefore, he feels it is grandfathered in as a residential piece of property. Larry Cline said when zoning came to Catawba in 1965 almost every piece of property was rezoned around Mr. Wood and he feels it should have been R-2 or residential since the beginning of Zoning. Larry Cline said he feels Mr. Wood should get what he is asking for because he has been using the property as residential since day one and he considers it to be grandfathered in.

Jordan Davenport asked if Mr. Wood has given any consideration to splitting the parcel in half the other way with a right-of-way to the back lot. James Barney said yes in a perfect world that would be the best way to do it but you would have to subdivide it, you can not just split it that way and use it because there is no frontage to the road. He said you would have to make a road and create a little subdivision and then you would run into major expenses (road, utilities, specs, survey, etc.).

Paul Patterson stated that essentially the interior part of Catawba Island is zoned agricultural low density land use. He said if the Board changes one property to R-2, which has the potential of up to four units per acre, you are looking at roughly one third of the island being agricultural with the potential of 4,000 new homes on Catawba Island. Paul Patterson said that is what the Board has to base their decision on.

James Barney said he believes this situation is unique in terms of where the property is located. He said the property is surrounded right now by Mr. Stouffer so it is not going to spread into some kind of multi-family project. James Barney said the Wood’s family has no intention of selling the property now or in the next generation. James Barney said when he comes before the Board asking to rezone, even though it is against the Land Use Plan, he feels this is a unique situation where he feels comfortable saying that if the
Board does this it is not going to end up setting a precedence. James Barney said the Board would be able to say we did this because of where the parcel is, how it was surrounded and what it is going to be used for. James Barney said he understands the Boards position with not wanting to set a precedence but he thinks it is a unique enough situation that the Board could rationally say we can look beyond that and make this exception.

Jordan Davenport said as far as future use he doesn’t see where the property would ever get split again because of the frontage. Paul Patterson said it is more of a concern about what will happen throughout the rest of A District.

Paul Patterson closed the discussion to the floor and Board members discussed the case briefly.

Jordan Davenport made a motion to approve Case #543412 with the stipulation the mobile homes are removed prior to any construction. Patti Piacentino seconded the motion. Paul Shaw, no; Jordan Davenport, yes; Will Moore, no; Patti Piacentino, no. Paul Patterson stated the Catawba Island Township Zoning Commission has voted to deny rezoning of the property in Case #543412.

Paul Patterson informed John Wood and James Barney they could take the case before the Catawba Island Board of Trustees and then the Board of Zoning Appeals if they so desired.

Paul Shaw made a motion to approve the minutes from the February 24, 2010 Zoning Commission meeting as presented. Will Moore seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously.

Jordan Davenport made a motion to elect Pat Cerny as secretary of the Zoning Commission. Patti Piacentino seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously.

Pat Cerny said she would present Case #543412 to the Trustees at their next meeting.

Jordan Davenport asked the Board and Trustee Matt Montowski if Pat Cerny attends the Zoning meetings as part of her Zoning Inspector responsibilities or as a member of the Board. Jordan Davenport said he is concerned about the Board being accurate pointing to the rules that state “a vote of its members elect a chairman, vice chairman, or secretary.” Jordan Davenport said he believes it should be clarified in some manner so the Board does not have a legal problem later down the road. Matt Montowski said that question should be raised at the training meeting on Wednesday, April 7.

Will Moore made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Patti Piacentino seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously. Meeting adjourned.

Paul Patterson, Chairman Date