MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE GEORGETOWN CHARTER TOWNSHIP ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS HELD SEPTEMBER 28, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairman Daniel Lennington.
Members Present: Daniel Lennington (chairman), John Fanthorpe, Don Upp, Greg Honderd and Joyce Weise
Members Absent: Carl DeVree
Others Present: Mannette Minier, secretary and Zoning Administrator, and the applicants
#050928-01 - Approval of the minutes
The minutes of the regular meeting held on June 22, 2005 meeting were presented.
Moved by John Fanthorpe, seconded by Joyce Weise, to approve the minutes of the regular meetings held on June 22, 2005, as presented.
#050928-02 - (VAR0506)-Unfinished Business
Fellowship Reformed Church, 6600 36th Ave., is requesting to have a sign with a setback of 60 feet, a variance of 25 feet from the 85 feet required in Sec. 25.6(A)(3), in a (LDR) Low Density Residential district, on a parcel of land described as P.P.# 70-14-20-400-117(-119), located at 6600 36th Ave., Georgetown Township, Ottawa County, Michigan.
The church has acquired additional property and recently received special use and site plan approval for the church additional as well as the additional property. The church would like to locate a sign identified as an industrial bulletin board 60 feet from the centerline of Port Sheldon. The ordinance requires the sign to be located 25 feet from the point 60 feet from the centerline of Port Sheldon, for a total of 85 feet from the centerline of Port Sheldon. By meeting the ordinance (and locating the sign in the area wanted by the church) it would be in the center of a detention pond which was required by the Drain Commissioner. A point to note is that Port Sheldon has already been widened in this location.
The chairman presented the request and stated that the item has been tabled since the June 22, 2005 meeting because the ZBA had not been certain that the Board still wanted the ordinance requiring the extra distance for setbacks to be in effect for streets that have already been improved.
The zoning administrator stated that the Board had been presented with the minutes of the ZBA meeting on June 22, 2005 and the motion from the ZBA asking the Board for clarification. She stated that the Board had discussed it and had made no motion or indication to change the ordinance requiring the extra setbacks on street that have already been improved. She said that some comments from Board members included the fact that streets could be improved further by becoming a boulevard or have the addition of acel or decl lanes even though streets have already been improved once. She said that the Board took no action on this topic.
Moved by Greg Honderd, seconded by John Fanthorpe, to remove the item from the table.
Ed Zwyghuizen, Verburg & Associates, represented the applicant and presented the request. He stated that they wanted the sign to be in the center of the property for visibility on the curved road.
Joyce Weise asked about the location of the trees.
Since there had been confusion about the location of the trees at the last meeting, pictures were supplied of the area. An area was pointed out where the sign could meet the ordinance, be out of the detention pond and still be away from the trees for visibility.
The applicant said that the trees would not interfere with the sign if it was located in the center of the property and they wanted it in the center for maximum visibility on the curved road.
Greg Honderd said that this was a unique property on the outside of the curve and the sign would be more visible where requested. He said that the drainage pond was located on the low point of the site because it was the best practice to locate the pond where there was natural drainage. He said that the pond has kept them from putting the sign further back to meet the ordinance and still be visible. He said that it was a practical difficulty. He said that at peak times a lot of traffic was generated in the area and if the sign was not associated with the church building, it could create traffic problems. He said that it could cause motorists to make U-turns. He said that this was a unique situation.
Joyce Weise said that at least 80% of those coming to the church already knew where it was and the sign would not make a difference. She said that only the new people would use the sign to locate the church. She said that if the sign was located where proposed by the applicant, new people could brake early.
Dan Lennington said that the variance request was necessitated by actions the applicant took by making the parking lot the size it was and by putting the detention pond in its current location, even though this might be the best location for the pond. He said that the size of the parking lot and the other decisions were choices made by the applicant which resulted in this situation. He said that the applicant just wants to put the sign in this location just because they want it there. He said that there were no extraordinary or exceptional circumstances other than they made bad choices. He said that all the seven standards needed for a variance have not been met.
Don Upp asked why the bumpout for the sign had been placed by where the pond makes a bend and it was not significantly off-center. He said that if had not been by the bend, they would have only needed a 5 to 10 foot variance which would have been more reasonable.
Moved by Joyce Weise, seconded by John Fanthorpe, to deny variance (VAR0506) Fellowship Reformed Church, 6600 36th Ave., to have a sign with a setback of 60 feet, a variance of 25 feet from the 85 feet required in Sec. 25.6(A)(3), in a (LDR) Low Density Residential district, on a parcel of land described as P.P.# 70-14-20-400-117(-119), located at 6600 36th Ave., Georgetown Township, Ottawa County, Michigan, based on the Board keeping the ordinance requiring the extra setbacks, there are other choices of places to locate the sign where ordinance requirements are met, and the request does not meet the seven standards of the ordinance.
#050928-03 - (VAR0508)
Cottonwood Heights C.R.C., 1101 Cypress, is requesting to have a church with one property line having 153.66 feet of lot width, a variance of 46.34 feet from Sec. 20.4(E) that requires that a church have property such that at least one property line has a minimum of 200 feet that abuts and has access to a collector, major arterial, or minor arterial street, and is requesting to expand and enlarge an existing structure and construct an additional structure on a non-conforming site under Sec. 27.12, in a (LDR) Low Density Residential district, on parcels of land described as P.P. # 70-14-14-200-042, 70-14-11-400-033, and 70-14-11-400-032, located at 8215 and 8000 Ash, 12th Ave. and 1101 Cypress, Georgetown Township, Ottawa County, Michigan.
The chairman explained that after the request was reviewed by the zoning administrator, the determination was made that the applicant actually had more frontage/width on 12th Ave. than originally thought because the ordinance defines lot width as the measurement 40 feet from the property line. He said that they actually had 185 feet and needed only a 15 foot variance for the special use standard.
Don Vandenberg represented the applicant and presented the request. He said that after he had discussed the issue with the zoning administrator, he became aware that they had more frontage than originally thought because the width is measured off the property line. He said that the church has been here for 35 years and the ordinance has changed since that time. He said that they have 400 to 500 feet of frontage on Ash Dr.
The zoning administrator provided a review and said that the church was constructed in 1971.
The chairman opened the floor to public comments.
Shane Johnson, 1119 Conifer Ct., said that he has a two-story house by the pond and parking lot. He said that he did not want to stare at a building out of a back window and it would be an eyesore.
There was discussion regarding the location of the building and it was noted that those types of issues would be handled by the Planning Commission at the time of special use and site plan approval.
Adam Yowtz, 115 Conifer Ct., said that he is a land owner and lives south of the proposed building. He said that he has the same comments as Shane Johnson.
The chairman reiterated that the issue before the ZBA was the variance for the width and not issues relating to the proposed building.
Greg Honderd said that this was a variance request and that the Planning Commission reviewed site plans and special use permits.
Shirley Minisee, 8257 Ash Dr., asked where the building would be located and what the use would be.
Ward Steinstra, 1107 Conifer Ct., said that he had asked people at the church about the construction and no one would tell him about it. He said that he understands that they have a cadet building. He said that he came to the Township Office to look at the plan. He said that there has to be a ten foot barrier and snow is piled there in the winter.
Greg Honderd explained that there was a process the applicant had to follow and first had to get the variance before applying for a special use permit and site plan approval. He said that the neighbors would be notified when the applicant applied for a special use permit. He said that he understood that the lots were shallow, but the applicant would be constrained by the building envelope. He said that they have the right to put the building next to the parking lot. He said that the plan showed a 40 by 80 foot building, but it could be moved.
The zoning administrator explained that when applicants apply for a special use permit, a notice is published for the public hearing and all the property owners within 300 feet are sent notices.
Ward Steinstra was concerned with the 15 foot distance to his property line and asked if there would be any trees for screening.
Ruth Hop, 7968 12th Ave., said that she lives next to the area being discussed for the variance and asked if that was the location for the youth building.
The chairman said that the location of the building would be reviewed by the Planning Commission.
The zoning administrator explained that each lot had a building envelop where the building could be located that would have to meet setback requirements. She said that this was a double frontage lot in the LDR district and would need a 40 foot front yard setback, a 40 foot rear yard setback and 10 feet on each side. She noted that the ordinance requires a 25 foot greenbelt area for a parking area adjacent to a residential district.
The chairman closed the public hearing.
There was discussion regarding the ordinance request in regards to Sec. 27.12, expanding a non-conforming site. The zoning administrator said that if the variance was granted for the width, the parcel would become conforming after they got the special use permit and there would be no need to discuss expanding a non-conforming site. She said that the ZBA could review the two options.
Joyce Weise asked why they needed the entrance off 12th Ave. and was told it was existing.
The chairman said that they had to review the request based on the standards of the ordinance. He said that when going over the standards of the ordinance, he noted that there was more than 400 feet of frontage on Ash and supported the fact that there were unique circumstances for this building, specifically that it was 35 years old and built prior to the new ordinances. He said that they were not asking to change the already existing frontage and that it had always been this way and it has always been good enough.
Moved by Don Upp, seconded by Greg Honderd, to approve (VAR0508) Cottonwood Heights C.R.C., 1101 Cypress, to have a church with one property line having 185 feet of lot width, a variance of 15 feet from Sec. 20.4(E) that requires that a church have property such that at least one property line has a minimum of 200 feet that abuts and has access to a collector, major arterial, or minor arterial street, in a (LDR) Low Density Residential district, on parcels of land described as P.P. # 70-14-14-200-042, 70-14-11-400-033, and 70-14-11-400-032, located at 8215 and 8000 Ash, 12th Ave. and 1101 Cypress, Georgetown Township, Ottawa County, Michigan, because of the fact that the church has been in existence since the early 1970’s and had to conform to standards at the time it was built, and because it meets all seven standards of the ordinance.
The chairman said that 15 feet is a relatively small and a minor amount compared to the 200 feet of width. He said that the variance is based on the fact that this is long-standing structure that was built according to the ordinance in effect at the time.
Greg Honderd said that granting the variance meets the spirit of the ordinance because the main driveway is less detrimental to the neighboring properties. He said that the traffic does not come close to the neighboring houses and is plenty of distance away. He said that the lot has a unique shape which makes the lot much wider than the 200 feet width required. He said that granting the variance was still keeping the spirit of the ordinance by protecting the neighbors.
There was discussion regarding the church property and which parcels were included.
The chairman said that he wanted to emphasize that they looked at the standard entrance and looked at the 12th Ave. property line as it goes north at a 45 degree angle. He said that this creates an oddly shaped lot that results in a mathematical configuration to determine lot width for this odd shape. He said that this shape accentuates their inability to come up with the 200 feet. He said that there were two property lines pre-existing at angles that make the lot wider than it appears.
Greg Honderd said that when applications are submitted for special use permits, the applicants have shown the plans to neighbors. He said that it would be nice if the neighbors saw it ahead of time because it would be helpful for them to know what is going on.
John Fanthorpe said that it would still have to go through the planning process.
The zoning administrator said that when it comes before the Planning Commission, it would be subject to all requirements of the current ordinance, including the green belt requirement.
A member of the audience said that it would be nice if the building was located somewhere else.
#050928-04 – Other Business
The chairman noted that the appeal from the Great Lakes Society would be continued on the October 26, 2005 ZBA agenda. He strongly encouraged all members to read the past minutes, the transcript and to read the record to be thoroughly prepared for the next meeting.
#050928-05 – Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.