Minutes: October 12th, 2011


OCTOBER 12, 2011

The regular meeting of the Catawba Island Township Board of Zoning Appeals was held on October 12, 2011 in the conference room. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairman Bryan Baugh.

The Board members present included Tom Anslow, Jack DeVore, Sandra Erwin, Dale VanLerberghe, and Jack Zeigler. Zoning Inspector Walter Wehenkel was also in attendance. Several members of the public were in attendance as well.

Chairman Baugh described the procedure that would be used during the meeting. He requested Sandra Erwin, Secretary for the Board read the first case.

Case # 543685

Sandra Erwin stated the first case was an area variance being requested by Michael Callahan. It is case number 543685. Mr. Callahan is requesting a front yard setback of forty (40) feet off East Catawba Road where the requirement is presently sixty (60) feet and a second front yard setback from the required twenty-five (25) feet on Gardner Road for a corner lot to thirteen (13) feet. All fees have been paid and the notice published.

Bryan Baugh asked who was present to represent the case. Mike Prosser stated he was representing Mr. Callahan. Mr. Prosser was sworn in by Chairman Baugh. Mr. Prosser stated the variance requests are being submitted in order to move the adjoining building from the Marine Max site to Mr. Callahan’s property. The existing buildings along East Catawba Road are almost all closer than sixty (60) feet to the right-of-way. The thirteen (13) foot setback along Gardner Road is consistent with the front yard setbacks of the existing homes. He presented an aerial map of the area for clarification.

Mr. Prosser stated there is plenty of open area left on the property. Marine Max presently leases property from Mr. Callahan for parking. Bryan Baugh asked if that area would remain as leased parking. Michael Callahan wanted to answer that question. Chairman Baugh swore in Mr. Callahan. Mr. Callahan stated the lease with Marine Max is a multi-year lease. The parking lot will remain there for several more years. The parking area is forty feet from the property line. Mike Prosser stated Marine Max will continue using the parking even after the building is relocated. Mr. Callahan stated he was told the front of the Marine Max property would be paved and used for boat display. Bryan Baugh asked if there were any plans to sell the parking area. Mr. Callahan said there were no such plans.

Bryan Baugh asked if the Board members had any questions for Mr. Prosser or Mr. Callahan. There were no questions. Mr. Baugh asked for other testimony. Linda Motznik was sworn in. Ms. Motznik stated she owns the property at 5112 E. Charles Lane. She has questions related to visibility and safety. Her home on Charles Lane faces East Catawba Road. Her concern is the traffic going in and out of the road. Dale VanLerberghe asked for a clarification of the location of Charles Lane. It was pointed out to him on the aerial map. He asked Linda Motznik to identify her home which she did. Linda Motznik repeated her concern about safety and visibility.

Mr. Prosser stated Mrs. Motznik’s house was only twenty-five (25) feet off East Catawba Road. Her house is closer than the forty (40) foot variance being requested. Mr. Callahan stated the traffic on the adjoining road will only increase with more boaters docking in the marina to the east. The building relocation will not increase traffic.

Bryan Baugh asked if the two building will be joined. Michael Callahan said no. Mr. Prosser stated there would be a deck walkway between the buildings, but there would not be joined to one another with a wall. Dale VanLerberghe stated it would be a new structure and not added on. Mr. Prosser stated that was correct.

Dale VanLerberghe asked Linda Motznik if her house was a white colored ranch. She stated that was correct.

Jack Zeigler asked about the location of the entrance for the new building. Mike Prosser stated it would have access off of Gardner Lane. Jack Zeigler asked if the steps would be in addition to the structure. Mr. Prosser stated the steps would be less than eighteen inches in height and therefore they are exempt from meeting setbacks requirements. A general discussion followed concerning steps.

Mr. Prosser discussed his opinion of the zoning regulations to Mr. Wehenkel on steps. Mr. Wehenkel stated he had no idea what Mr. Prosser was referring to in the zoning resolution. Walter Wehenkel deferred to the Board. He stated he believes the Board has always considered steps a part of the structure and meeting the setback was required for the steps. The Board members agreed with Mr. Wehenkel’s understanding. Mr. Prosser stated the building could be moved two feet to the south to keep the variance at the requested thirteen (13) feet. Mr. Callahan agreed the building could be shifted slightly or the steps could be relocated.

Bryan Baugh asked if the building would have a basement under it. Mr. Callahan stated it would have a crawl space. Tom Anslow asked about the use of the building. Mr. Callahan stated it would be used for office. Mr. Anslow asked about the existing building. It would be used for storage and some office use. Tom Anslow asked if the distance between buildings was ten (10) feet, not including the steps. Mr. Prosser stated that was correct. Dale VanLerberghe asked Tom Anslow if his concern was in an east to west direction. Tom Anslow stated that was correct. He is concerned about firefighting activities.

Jack Zeigler asked if the fence to the south was for the parking lot area leased to Marine Max. Mr. Callahan stated that was correct. Mr. Prosser stated the fence was for the parking and Mr. Callahan property.

Dale VanLerberghe stated he wanted to address Mrs. Motznik’s concern. When he was on the site he looked at both traffic and visibility. It was his opinion that the relocation of the building in the area proposed with the variances would not create visibility or safety issues. He did not share Mrs. Motznik’s concerns. He also stated he did not believe any views would be affected by the building. Jack Zeigler stated he agreed with Dale’s synopsis. In fact, the tree out front is a bigger visibility problem. Mr. Callahan stated the tree will be removed.

There being no additional testimony to be given, Bryan Baugh closed the public hearing portion of the case. The Board members were given an opportunity to discuss their concerns.

Jack Zeigler asked if Marine Max requested variances to build a building in front of their existing building. He was informed by Sandra Erwin that the proposal was to add onto the middle and far end, but just close in the L-shape front portion.

Tom Anslow stated he is not a fan of imposing on setbacks. In this case, there is a lot of green space remaining. The proposed setbacks line up with the other existing structures in the neighborhood. Bryan Baugh stated everything will be above grade.

Dale VanLerberghe reviewed the Finding of Fact submitted by the applicant. He stated he is in general agreement with all of the responses except for #6 that he sees as a need versus want situation. He understands the fire fighting issue in #4 that was raised earlier by Tom Anslow. Bryan Baugh asked for contradictory comments from the Board on the Finding of Fact. There were none.

There being no further discussion, Jack Devore moved to approve the variances as requested in case # 543685. Jack Zeigler seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Case # 543686

Sandra Erwin read the second case #543686 being submitted by Michael Germani for an area variance of the side yard setback requirements. The required setback is ten (10) feet. The application is for a reduction to seven (7) feet eight (8) inches. The hearing was properly advertised and all fees paid.

Bryan Baugh asked who was present to discuss the case. Ken Schoenfeld identified he was representing the applicant. Bryan Baugh swore in Mr. Schoenfeld. Mr. Schoenfeld stated the owner wants to remodel the structure through an addition. The present house is almost parallel to the lot line. With a ten (10) foot setback, the addition could only be four (4) foot wide. The owner would like to have a six (6) foot addition. He offered to answer questions of the Board. Bryan Baugh asked if anyone in attendance had questions for Mr. Schoenfeld. There were no questions from those in attendance.

Tom Anslow asked Mr. Schoenfeld if he was the contractor. Mr. Schoenfeld stated he was the architect. Tom Anslow asked about the changes that would be made to the structure. Mr. Schoenfeld used a drawing to describe the changes that would be made. A bathroom exists and a shower would be added. It was originally a cottage and the living room is only ten (10) feet wide. The addition will allow the living room to be expanded.

Tom Anslow asked about the balance of the structure. Mr. Schoenfeld stated the roof line will not change. The outside wall will be removed and rebuilt. The rooms only have seven (7) foot ceilings and the floor is not level. A new foundation would be required to level it.

Bryan Baugh asked if the structure is used as a summer residence. Ken Schoenfeld stated it is occupied year round. Dale VanLerberghe asked if the lot coverage as shown was correct. Mr. Schoenfeld stated the lot is significantly longer than it appears as it continues beyond the stone road. The ten (10) percent coverage is accurate. He added the trees will remain and hopefully more will be planted. Mr. VanLerberghe stated the reduction from ten (10) feet to eight (8) feet is not substantial. Bryan Baugh stated he agreed with that statement.

Bryan Baugh closed the hearing to public input. Jack Devore stated there is little changing by the issuance of the variance. Tom Anslow stated the neighbors are not in attendance objecting. Dale VanLerberghe added that if the neighbors were closer it might have an impact, but there is a lot of distance between them. The ownership of the land was questioned. Sally Germani was sworn in. She stated the house to the south owns the vacant land.

Dale VanLerberghe reviewed the Finding of Fact. The Board was in agreement with the answers to all of the questions on the Finding of Fact.

Dale VanLerberghe moved to approve the variance request submitted in case 543686. Tom Anslow seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Case # 543687

Sandra Erwin presented the third area variance case. The applicant is John Caputo, agent for Terry Dunn, and he is requesting a lot depth variance from the required one hundred and twenty-five (125) feet to an average depth of one hundred and seven (107) feet. The purpose of the variance is to allow two single-family homes to be constructed on the site. The proper advertisement has occurred.

Bryan Baugh swore in John Caputo. Mr. Caputo stated property has been on the market for several years and has not sold. The variance is being requested so that the property can be divided into two parcels with hopes that a single family home would be built on each site. The parcel is about one thousand, one hundred (1,100) feet long and the rear of the lot backs up to the marsh owned by Gottron. Each of the proposed sites would by about five hundred and fifty feet long and about one hundred and seven (107) feet deep.

Dale VanLerberghe had a question about the exact location of the site. Using a map, John Caputo pointed out the location and explained the dimensions previously stated. Mr. Caputo stated the two homes would basically be side by side in the widest portion of the parcel. He pointed to that location on the map.

Jack Devore asked if there was a break wall or if one would be needed. Mr. Caputo stated there is no break wall and it is unlikely one would be needed. There is not much water movement so top dressing of the bank is all that might occur. Jack Zeigler asked for more information on the site. John Caputo stated it was part of a larger site. The water area is the remains of a channel that went to Sand Road from the former Enchanted Lake Park. Dale VanLerberghe asked if any fill material would be required. Mr. Caputo stated the foundation excavation material would be the entire fill that would be needed. Dale VanLerberghe asked for the width of the lot at the deepest part. Mr. Caputo stated it is about one hundred and five (105) feet to the water’s edge.

The Board members had no additional questions. Bryan Baugh swore in David Petsche who was representing the Lake in the Woods Condominium owners. Mr. Petsche asked Mr. Caputo to go through the explanation of the location of the homes. John Caputo used the map to describe the home locations. They will be about 1.4 acres each. Mr. Petsche asked about the setback from the road. Mr. Caputo stated the front yard setback would be thirty-five (35) feet, the side yard setback would be ten (10) feet, and the rear yard setback would be thirty-five (35) feet. Mr. Petsche stated that Paul Wetzel from the Army Corps of Engineers stated the area was Class 3 wetlands and that no dredging or filling of the marsh would be allowed. Mr. Caputo stated that Mr. Wetzel has approved the location of the two homes and has stated the dry land is not a wetlands area.

Mr. Petsche addressed the Board. He stated there are fifty-seven (57) owners who live at the end of Enchanted Lake. He asked that all of these individuals should have received a notification of the meeting. Mr. Wehenkel questioned who Mr. Petsche thought should pay for that notification. Dale VanLerberghe asked by law who must be notified. Mr. Wehenkel stated the law requires the adjoining property owners to be notified within, contiguous to and directly across the street from the property involved. The applicant submitted their names and mailing addresses from the County Auditor’s records. These individuals were properly notified by the zoning office. Tom Anslow read the list of names that the notices were sent to. It included the following individuals.

Paul Gottron
Lake in the Woods Condo Association % Northcoast Property Mgmt.
Catawba Willows LTD
Sound, PI RecreationLLC

Mr. Petsche stated that he knows that at least 52 homeowners had not heard anything. The only reason he knew about the request is that he talked to a Trustees and went to the Administration Building that morning and obtained the information. Dale VanLerberghe asked Mr. Wehenkel if it was advertised in the News Herald. Mr. Wehenkel stated that is was published as required.

Mr. Gary Hawk was sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Hawk stated there are a number of individuals that own homes in Lake in the Woods that do not live there on a permanent basis. He requested the Board consider continuing the hearing and sending notification out to these individuals so that they know in advance and can arrange to be at the hearing. He asked Mr. Caputo about the two lots and who will pay for the necessary sanitary sewer improvements. Mr. Caputo stated the Ottawa County Sanitary Engineer stated a grinder pump could be shared by the two homes. It would be installed at the expense of the property owner. In addition, there would be an $11,000 per site tap in connection fee.

David Petsche stated the homeowners were not notified. Jack Zeigler asked for a clarification as to who was not notified. David Petsche stated the homeowners in the Lake in the Woods condominium development were not notified. Jack Zeigler stated it is difficult for the township to notify everyone. It seems the township met the requirements established by the law.

Dale VanLerberghe asked about the timeframe for the developer. Mr. Caputo stated this is the first step. He then needs a similar variance from the Regional Planning Commission. Once he obtains both variances, he needs to process lot split applications. Mr. VanLerberghe asked if the lots are presently sold. Mr. Caputo stated they are in contract subject to the variances and lot split process being approved. Mr. Wehenkel stated the Board’s next meeting in November would be prior to the Regional Planning Commission meeting. However, the approval of the Board’s minutes would not occur until the December 14th meeting.

David Petsche stated that question #5 on the Finding of Fact that was submitted by Mr. Dunn was not answered. Mr. Caputo stated Mr. Dunn purchased the property with a knowledge that it was zoned “R-5” Residential. The “R-5” zoning was intended to allow condominiums. At one time there were eight condominium units proposed for the site. Now there is just two units proposed. The benefit of doing lot splits versus a two unit condominium, which could accomplish the same task, is that the condominium documents and joint ownership expenses are significant.

Bryan Baugh asked when the notices were sent out to the adjoining lot owners. Mr. Wehenkel stated he was unsure except that they were sent at least ten (10) days in advance of the hearing date and none were returned.

Dale VanLerberghe asked if the application was incorrect as written. It states a rear yard setback, but everyone is talking about lot depth. Mr. Wehenkel read the application and stated it was in error as written. The applicant’s intent is reflected by the published and mailed notices. Mr. Caputo agreed it was not a rear setback issue, but a lot depth issue.

Mr. VanLerberghe stated there appears to be two questions before the Board. Does the Board approve/deny the request this evening or does the Board table the request as a courtesy to the non-adjacent condominium owners. Jack Zeigler believes that by tabling any action as a courtesy, the Board is opening a “can of worms”. Bryan Baugh stated Mr. Petsche request is a valid request. His company manages condominiums, including the Lake in the Woods condominiums. It might be better if Mr. Petsche could present the proposal to the condominium board. If the BZA defers one month, the contract to purchase would not be jeopardized.

David Petsche stated he would like the Board to be aware of the fact that the association requested Mr. Dunn to contact them if he had a development proposal. Mr. Dunn never contacted the association. John Caputo stated that Mr. Dunn doesn’t know the proposal until the buyer shows up to make an offer. Mr. Dunn is the seller. The buyer controls what he does with the parcel of land. Mr. Petsche stated the association is concerned over the type of housing being proposed. Could it be trailers, mobile homes, etc? John Caputo stated there are zoning restrictions that will provide protection over those types of uses. Mr. Petsche asked if the neighbors would be consulted. Mr. Caputo responded that the buyer decides those issues, not the seller. Mr. Dunn could not answer those questions. Mr. Petsche stated he received a letter in the past concerning a proposed development. Mr. Caputo stated it was forthright, but never went through.

Tom Anslow asked if Enchanted Lake Blvd. was a public or private street. Mr. Caputo stated the property has a “checkered history.” It was part of a planned unit development (PUD). This portion was never developed. The road was private and there is a cost sharing formula for the maintenance of the road. Mr. Anslow stated the private roadway is to the south. The association was notified by mail though the homeowners may not have been informed. He senses that some in attendance would like the request to be tabled. He feels that the community would be in a “world of hurt” if people driving by would have a say over the development of a piece of property.

Jack Zeigler stated some of the discussion has been for curiosity sake. There is a potential threat and objection to trailers, etc. being located on this site. There is some limited control over this happening through zoning. But are there other concerns that should be considered by the Board. Mr. Petsche stated he was speaking for himself and not representing the association board. Personally, he believes lower density is better than higher density.

Jack Devore stated he does not see how continuing the meeting will impact his vote. Dale VanLerberghe stated he is not in favor of doing that - a motion to continue. Bryan Baugh stated the Board is voting on the lot depth variance request and not over how the property will be developed. Tom Anslow stated that variances for other requests for this parcel would not be considered positively in his mind. The Board has had numerous cases on private roads. His concern is where the Board begins and stops on notification issues.

Mr. Petsche asked if the variance is approved, can the plans be changed at a later date. Could the buyer go back to trailers or doublewides? Tom Anslow stated the Board could add stipulations. He confirmed that with Mr. Wehenkel. Mr. Wehenkel stated that was correct. The stipulations could be very specific such as stick built homes. Mr. Petsche stated that would be acceptable to him. Mr. Caputo stated as the agent for Mr. Dunn, he would oppose that type of restriction. He is not going to bind the property owners with stipulations. If modular units were proposed, you could not tell the difference once they are built. Bryan Baugh read some of the restrictions from the “R-4” zoning District. Jack Zeigler stated it is not within the Board’s purview to prohibit doublewides.

Mr. Petsche stated the property is governed by the association regulations. Mr. Caputo stated he does not believe that is correct. Mr. Petsche asked what happens if the current deal falls through. Mr. Caputo stated this is one step in a three step process. Jack Zeigler asked if the present perspective buyer has plans. Mr. Caputo stated they are single family homes, but the plans are not that specific. They definitely are not trailers. Mr. Petsche asked if Mr. Dunn was going to occupy the site. Mr. Caputo stated he was not.

Tom Anslow stated the density calculations would allow ten (10) units on the site. There is no “cutting this out.” Mr. Caputo stated a higher density could occur with a PUD under the present zoning. Dale VanLerberghe stated he understands that with the Board’s approval, two lots would be created with no variances required for location of the buildings. The two lots and single family homes would meet the thirty-five (35) foot front and rear setback requirements as well as the ten (10) foot side yard setback. His only concern is the accuracy of the one hundred and seven (107) foot lot depth. Mr. Caputo stated there is over two hundred (200) foot of lot depth in the area where the homes will be built. It is the only place where there is sufficient depth.

Tom Anslow asked Mr. Wehenkel if trailers would be prohibited. Mr. Wehenkel stated the township has a minimum building width of twenty-three feet for a minimum depth of twenty-three feet. Any building placed on the proposed lots would need to meet that requirement. Jack Zeigler stated that the Board’s action tonight is for two homes and not condominiums. John Caputo stated it could be homes or it could be condominiums. They thought it would be cleaner as homes. Condominium documents require a set of documents that can cost up to $4,000.

Tom Anslow stated that the Board is looking at a piece of land. What right do we have to say no to the practical difficulty? Mr. Anslow stated he doesn’t know how he could say no. Jack Devore stated that dividing the property into two parcels provides more restrictions and not less. Mr. Petsche stated the plans today could disappear tomorrow. Mr. Anslow responded that if that happens eight (8) condominiums could be there tomorrow. Or you could buy the property as an association. Mr. Petsche stated he would be more than happy to pay what Mr. Dunn paid for it.

Mr. Petsche cautioned that whatever is done on this side of the road could impact what happens on the golf course side. Mr. Anslow stated the golf course doesn’t have the same conditions on it that this parcel does. The association should be happy that the condominium craze ended.

Bryan Baugh closed the hearing to the public. There was no further Board discussion.

Jack Zeigler moved to approve the variance request in case #543687. Jack Devore seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Approval of Minutes

Bryan Baugh stated the minutes were sent to all members. Jack Devore moved that the minutes be approved as sent. Tom Anslow seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.


Jack Zeigler moved to adjourn the meeting. Jack Devore seconded the motion. The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

_______________________________ _______________________________
Bryan Baugh, Chairman Sandra Erwin, Secretary