Minutes: March 7th, 2012


March 7, 2012

The regular monthly meeting of the Catawba Island Board of Zoning Appeals was held on March 7, 2012 in the conference room of the Administration Building. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. The meeting was called to order by Chairman Bryan Baugh at 7:30 p.m.

Other Board members in attendance included Tom Anslow, Doug Blackburn, Sandy Erwin, Jack Devore, and alternate, Jack Zeigler. Zoning Inspector, Walter Wehenkel, was also in attendance. Chairman Baugh welcomed those in attendance and read the meeting format. He asked if anyone had a question concerning the meeting format. No one did. He asked the Secretary, Sandy Erwin, to read the first case.

Case # 543713 Martin Scott & M. Theresa DeRose

Sandy Erwin read the request which included three area variances. The first is for a front yard setback, the second for a rear yard setback, and the third involves a greater lot coverage than allowed in the zoning district. The location is Lot 34 of Orchard Beach Subdivision and specifically at 1431 N. Orchard Beach Drive. Sandy Erwin indicated the advertisement and notifications were done and that there was no notarized correspondence.

Bryan Baugh asked if any member had a conflict of interest. There was none. Bryan Baugh asked who was representing the request. Martin Scott introduced himself. Bryan Baugh swore in Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott stated there is an existing home on the site which he and Teri wish to remove and replace with a new structure. Their goal is to maintain the front of the new building in the same place that the existing building is presently located. The porch on the present building would be the front edge of the new building. That porch will be moved to the rear of the new house.

It is a pie shaped lot which makes it a little more difficult to fit everything on the lot without keeping the front of the building where it is now. He was unaware of the rear yard setback issue until he met with the zoning inspector. The deck could be shortened by five feet if necessary. However, they would prefer to keep it the size that is proposed if at all possible. All of his neighbors have signed a letter stating they do not oppose the variances and proposed placement of the new home. He offered to answer any questions the Board might have on the request.

Bryan Baugh asked about the deck modification. Mr. Scott stated the deck as proposed is in the rear setback area by five feet. It could be shortened. It is a raised deck and they could go with a slab on the ground. Mr. Baugh asked if they had detailed plans of the structures. Mr. Scott stated they do not as they wanted to try to obtain the variances first before going to that expense. He did prepare and submit a one page outline of the proposed home’s footprint. Mr. Scott showed the Board members the footprint drawing and there was a general discussion concerning the location of the deck and relocated porch with the Board members.

Mr. Baugh asked if there was a step down from the deck. Mr. Scott indicated the deck was about one foot off the ground so one step would be required. Sandy Erwin asked if the step would be off the side or the rear. Mr. Scott stated he was not sure. Sandy Erwin indicated if it was off the rear, it would need to be outside the setback area or included with the variance. Bryan Baugh asked if the shed would remain. Mr. Scott stated that it would.

Jack Devore stated he had some concern over the figures on the applications. It seems like the second floor is being included. Mr. Scott indicated the second story is included on the zoning permit. Doug Blackburn asked if the deck would have a room over it. Mr. Scott stated it would not. The deck is not intended to be a four season room or used year round.

Jack Devore stated he calculated the lot coverage and obtained a totally different percent coverage than is stated on the variance. Mr. Scott stated it is difficult to calculate the lot coverage because of its shape. He used the front and rear averages for dimensions to arrive at his lot coverage number. Jack Devore stated that his calculation was based upon the stated acreage. Tom Anslow stated he also calculated lot coverage and arrived at a different number than Mr. Scott and also a different number from Jack Devore’s number.

Walter Wehenkel stated the shape of the lot creates some problems when you calculate square footage. It is not a rectangle or parallelogram. The formula is much more complicated. He discussed previous variance requests where rectangle calculations were used for trapezoid lots. He shared with the Board members his calculations and how they were arrived at. He stated he was comfortable that the lot coverage percentage as stated on the application was accurate. The Board members reviewed the calculations.

Bryan Baugh asked if Mr. Wehenkel checks lot coverage calculations. Mr. Wehenkel stated most applicants do not know how to calculate square footage or lot coverage. There is a spot on the zoning permit application for lot coverage but it is left blank in four out of five applications that are filed. He does check each and every one and has a discussion with the applicant before deciding if the lot coverage is exceeded.

Bryan Baugh asked Mr. Scott if he had anything additional to add. He did not. He indicated he would appreciate approval of their request by the Board. Bryan Baugh asked if anyone in attendance had questions for Mr. Scott. No one did. Mr. Baugh asked if anyone else had testimony to give to the Board on this case. No one did. Mr. Baugh closed the public hearing to testimony.

Walter Wehenkel indicated the township email provider changed over the weekend. He had received an email from Jim Gideon of the Orchard Beach Homeowner’s Association that stated the Association approved of the plans for Lot 34. However, in the transition of email providers, that email was lost.

Tom Anslow asked how far off the rear lot line the deck is located. Mr. Wehenkel stated based upon the drawing the deck ends at twenty-one feet. He discussed the possibility of the step with Mr. Scott and the decision was to make the variance request twenty feet from the rear lot line just in case. Bryan Baugh stated that could be modified by the Board if they want to shorten the deck as suggested by Mr. Scott.

Doug Blackburn stated there was no negative correspondence. In fact, his neighbors have all signed a letter supporting the new plan. The associations stated it is okay with them. Bryan Baugh stated it would improve the neighborhood, adding that he is not inferring that the house that is presently on the lot is unsightly.

Tom Anslow asked if the tree where the deck is proposed will be removed. Mr. Scott stated that unfortunately it will have to be removed. Sandy Erwin asked about the cool metal tree. Mr. Scott stated that one would be relocated.

Bryan Baugh asked the Vice Chairman, Jack Devore, to read the finding of fact. Mr. Devore read each questions and the applicant’s response. The Board members agreed with the responses except for questions 1, 2, and 6 with several Board members disagreeing with those responses. Overall, the Board accepted the finding of fact.

Tom Anslow stated the rear yard setback issue could be approved or denied as submitted. His concern is that someone in the future might think the approved variance allows the deck to be enclosed. Sandy Erwin stated the lot coverage would not change if that happened. Mr. Anslow stated he agreed with that, but felt a one foot high deck is different from two story structure. Bryan Baugh stated the Board could modify the request to have the deck at ground level eliminating the need for the variance or approved the deck as proposed with the stipulation that it can not be enclosed. Tom Anslow stated that the fall of the ground really dictates a raised deck for drainage reasons. Sandy Erwin stated a retaining wall could be an option, but it would add significant expense.

Mr. Anslow asked the applicant if he understood the concern. Mr. Scott stated he did understand, but he has no plans to do so. He questioned if a future owner wished to do that, would he have to come back to the Board at that time. Mr. Anslow stated that the wording of the approval would give the zoning inspector some guidance, but it would be up to the zoning inspector’s interpretation. Sandy Erwin stated it is a two story house. Doug Blackburn stated the deck with a second floor over it would create a different appearance. Mr. Scott added he thought it would look pretty bad. Mr. Blackburn stated the motion could control that. Mr. Scott stated he would be good with that type of restriction.

Mr. Waltz, an adjoining property owner, was sworn in. He stated he has a room that was allowed by variance that was allowed to be screened in, but could not be used as a four season room. It could not be part of the living area of the house. Doug Blackburn stated
that with the porch added onto the proposed garage, the deck being covered with a roof would be difficult. Tom Anslow stated with the areas being requested, if he wanted to add onto the house he could do so up to the beginning of the rear setback line. That would give him plenty of area.

There being no other comments. Mr. Baugh requested a motion to approve, deny or modify the variance requests. Tom Anslow moved to approve case # 543713 as submitted with the stipulation that no enclosure shall occur within the twenty-five foot rear setback area. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. Jack Zeigler questioned if that wording of “within” was correct or if “outside” might be better. Mr. Wehenkel stated he believed Mr. Anslow’s wording was the correct wording. It is within versus outside in his interpretation. A vote of the motion was taken with all members voting for approval except Jack Devore who abstained. The variances were approved.

Case # 543715 – Mark & Jean Jeckering

Sandy Erwin read the case for the Board. The applicants are requesting a reduction of the front yard on a corner lot from the required twenty-five feet to thirteen feet. The location is 4298 N. West Catawba Road. All notifications and advertisements have been done and there is no notarized correspondence. Bryan Baugh asked if there were any conflicts. There were none.

Bryan Baugh asked who was present to discuss this case. John Kocher, Attorney at Law, Mark Jeckering and Jean Jeckering were all in attendance and were all sworn in by Bryan Baugh. Mr. Kocher stated he would start the presentation and the Jeckerings would add comments as they were appropriate. He introduced his clients and stated they purchased
the property with the intent of improving it. Mark Jeckering stated it is a beautiful location and they want to create a boundary for the home from the road and traffic. As they developed the floor plans for the addition, they used the corner of the garage as their starting point. They were unaware of the setback requirements as they started developing their plans.

Jean Jeckering presented drawing that showed the views from West Catawba Road, Cliff Road and from the Lake. She indicated the area is a very busy area in the summer and the proposed construction is intended to create a barrier to that outside noise and activity.

Mr. Kocher stated they would attempt to answer any questions. From a historical perspective, his clients bought the home assuming it was built within the zoning restrictions. The previous owner and zoning inspector approved the home as if it had a one hundred foot setback to the east, which it obviously does not have. When the owners submitted their application for a zoning permit to Mr. Wehenkel, it was at that point that they were told of the setback issue.

The setback reduction is a twelve foot reduction which is really not substantial. It will allow the Jeckerings to maximize their privacy and green space. It will act as a buffer from the commercial uses and activities that adjoin the property. The proposed construction should not adversely impact any of the neighbors. The single family additions will not impact services or utilities. The owners thought they bought a legally established home and are responding to the fact that it is not through the variance process.
Mr. Kocher stated he or his clients would try to answer any questions or concerns from the Board.

Sandy Erwin asked how close the proposed addition will be to the guard rails. Mr. Jeckering stated the new buildings will line up with the existing buildings so the distance from the guard rail would be identical. Sandy Erwin stated there were stakes in close proximity to the guard rail. Mr. Jeckering stated those were surveyor stakes which he opted not to pull out. They were not red and green flags as provided by the township.

Bryan Baugh asked if any one in attendance wanted to cross examine Mr. Kocher or the Jeckerings. No one did. Mr. Baugh asked if there was other testimony that someone was interested in giving to the Board. There was none.

Mr. Baugh asked Mr. Wehenkel about lot coverage. Mr. Wehenkel stated that with the combination of the two lots owned by the Jeckerings, lot coverage was not an issue. Jack Devore stated the Lot coverage in the “R-1” District is thirty percent.

Mr. Devore asked if the garage on the west side of the house is being moved to the southeast. Mark Jeckering stated that was correct. Tom Anslow had a question concerning a roof peak on one of the views. Mark Jeckering explained the peak was the existing garage. Mr. Anslow understood the view and stated that attaching the garage instead of moving it back to the twenty-five foot line was consistent with the other construction activities.

Bryan Baugh requested Jack Devore read the applicant’s finding of fact. Mr. Devore read the applicant’s responses to the questions. The Board members were in agreement with all of the responses except those to question #6.

Tom Anslow asked a question concerning the proposed affidavit form. Mr. Wehenkel explained that the Jeckerings purchased the property as two parcels of land. In order to submit the variance request in the fashion it was submitted, the two parcels need to be combined as one parcel. The affidavit allows that to occur. If the variances are approved, the affidavit will be filed in the Ottawa County Recorder’s office by Mr. Wehenkel once the minutes are approved and prior to issuing the zoning permit.

Sandy Erwin moved to approve case # 543715 as filed. Jack Devore seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Case # 543714 Marine Max

Bryan Baugh indicated that Jim Connor of Marine Max had submitted a written request to the Board to vacate three variances that were previously granted to Marina Max. The three cases involved in the variance are 543603, 543604, and 543605. These variances were granted to Marine Max in December of 2010. The request is being made to vacate the variances to assist in the review of a new variance request.

Doug Blackburn moved to approve the vacation of the three noted variances for Marine Max. Sandy Erwin seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously and the three variances are null and void.

Bryan Baugh requested Sandy Erwin read the information on the new variance request for Marina Max. Sandy Erwin stated the request is for a side yard setback from the required twenty feet to five feet. The proposed structure to be placed is a temporary, modular building to be used as a restroom facility for the boat dock area. All notifications have been sent and the required ad has been published. There is no notarized correspondence. Bryan Baugh asked if there were any conflicts. There were none.

Bryan Baugh asked who was in attendance for Marine Max. Shawn Hopkins stated he was representing the applicant. Bryan Baugh swore in Mr. Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins stated he works for Sommers Leasing who will be provided the modular unit to Marine Max. Jim Connors from Marine Max had planned to be in attendance but has the flu and was unable to be in attendance.

Mr. Hopkins stated the variance request is to allow a modular restroom facility by the dock that will be five feet from the north property line. Boats that dock at the end of Marine Max’s property do not want to walk to the other end of the property where restrooms are available. This is being done for the convenience of the boaters and customers. The lease of the modular unit is for five years. Mr. Hopkins offered to answer any questions the Board members might have on the request.

Jack Devore stated he visited the site and observed the lines painted on the asphalt. He saw a pin at the edge of the asphalt. He asked how close to the fence is the modular unit being located. Shawn Hopkins stated the unit is five feet from the property line. Mr. Devore stated it is not five feet from the fence. Mr. Hopkins stated that is correct. The fence is not located on the property line. The pin in the asphalt is an offset pin for paving purposes. Mr. Devore asked how close the fence is to the property line. Mr. Hopkins stated it is about two feet. Bryan Baugh stated the pin in the asphalt is not the property line pin. Mr. Hopkins stated that is correct. It is an offset pin used by the pavers. Tom Anslow asked Mr. Hopkins if he knows where the property line pins are located. Mr. Hopkins stated he knows exactly where they are located and could show them to the Board.

Sandy Erwin asked where the permanent restroom will be located. Mr. Hopkins stated the initial plan was to put it inside the building, but the present economy and cost of doing this project has caused delays. The existing restrooms are a long way from the dock area. Tom Anslow stated the variance request is pretty “cut and dry.” A port-a-potty is not a very viable solution. Many boats have bathroom on them. Mr. Hopkins stated customers would prefer to use something on land if it is available instead of facilities on their boat.

Bryan Baugh added that the asphalt was well marked. It was easy to see where the modular unit would be located. Doug Blackburn asked if the lease for the modular unit was for five years. Mr. Hopkins stated that was correct. Mr. Blackburn stated the variance could be tied to the five year lease. Mr. Baugh agreed.

Tom Anslow asked how long the parts trailer has been on site. Mr. Hopkins stated it was leased from his company and has been there for about a year and one-half. The total lease is a three year lease. Jack Zeigler stated his recollection was that the trailer parts unit was supposed to be removed when the building addition was completed which never happened. Doug Blackburn wondered if it was granted a variance to be where it is located. Mr. Wehenkel stated he has never researched that issue. Mr. Hopkins stated the variances that were vacated earlier would have allowed an addition that would have replaced the trailer parts unit.

Bryan Baugh asked for any cross examination or Mr. Hopkins or other testimony to be presented. There was none. Mr. Devore was asked to review the finding of fact submitted by the applicant. Mr. Devore read each question and response. There was disagreement with the responses to questions #3 and #6, but otherwise the Board members agreed with the responses.

There being no further discussion, Bryan Baugh asked for a motion to approve, deny, or modify the variance request #543714. Doug Blackburn moved to approve the five foot side yard setback variance for a five year period to run with the lease. The variance will expire in April of 2016 unless renewed by the Board. Tom Anslow seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.

Approval of the February 8, 2012 Minutes

Jack Devore moved to approve the minutes of the February 8, 2012 minutes. Sandy Erwin seconded the motion. The motion passed with Doug Blackburn abstaining.

Jack Devore moved to adjourn the meeting. Doug Blackburn seconded the motion. The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

_____________________ ______________________
Bryan Baugh, Chairman Sandy Erwin, Secretary