Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - May 13, 2009



May 13, 2009
On May 13, 2009, a regular meeting of the Chesterfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Township Hall located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield Twp., Michigan 48047.

1. CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Stepnak called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

2. ROLL CALL: Present: Marvin Stepnak, Chairman

Carl Leonard, Vice-Chairman,

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary Brian Scott DeMuynck, Township board liaison

Gerald Blake

James Klonowski

Absent: Robert Kohler, Planning Commission liaison

Chairman Stepnak commented that it was the third ZBA meeting in a row that the board had no representation from the Planning Commission.


Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience.

4. ZBA PETITION # 2009-06: Gail L. Madden 46788 Jefferson, Chesterfield, MI 48047. Requesting a variance for a 3rd story addition and an 8’ height variance for a proposed master suite with a window’s peak to an existing residence. Located is the address stated above.

Leonard Stopczynski, 46788 Jefferson, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was requesting put a two story addition on to their house with a loft which would be like a third story or 2 ½ story addition.

Mr. Blake stated that he had no questions at that time.

Ms. Orewyler commented that the plans appeared to be for a four story home. She stated that the measurements were taken from the top story not from the ground level.

Petitioner answered that was what the Township required, from the first soffit.

Ms. Orewyler disagreed and stated that it would have to be 28' from the ground, not from the addition.

Petitioner stated in that case, he was misinformed because he thought measurements would be taken from the first soffit.

Chairman Stepnak asked Mr. Shortt to elaborate on the discussion.

Mr. Shortt explained that the 28' was half the distance from one point to another point on the plans. He continued to discuss the matter with the petitioner which was off the microphone and inaudible.

Chairman Stepnak verified with the petitioner that the board was still looking on an additional story to be added on to the home. He asked if that was correct?

Petitioner answered yes. Essentially the home would be a two-story with a loft. He equated it to be like good use of attic space. It would not be a full fourth story, excuse me, a third story; it would just be a loft to look down into the second story.

Mr. Klonowski stated that he did not see the practical difficulty to grant a variance and the proposed home would not match the existing homes in the area. The houses in the area are all single and two-story homes and this would be out of character.

Chairman Stepnak explained that the Township does give people the option to come before the board to plead their case to break the rules. However, the petitioner must prove a practical difficulty to justify the need for the additional story to be built onto the home.

Petitioner stated that the reason he started this was because the house is on a small lot and there is no room for expansion any where else but up. He explained that they have no storage space and they do not even have room for a shed on the lot. Therefore, they decided to go up and possibly get some room to move around their home and have a place for storage. He has no basement for storage and the garage is so small, he cannot even fit a full size vehicle in there.

Mr. DeMuynck asked if the petitioner's were the original owners of the home?

Petitioner answered that they did not have the house built, but they are the original owners.

Mr. DeMuynck commented that he knew the home already had one variance approved for a side-yard setback.

Petitioner stated that he did not get the variance on the property.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he remembered the matter came in front of the Township Board. He explained that has a problem with the petitioner's building a third story. It would not fit in with other properties in the area or on Jefferson. He understands that the petitioner's want a view to see the lake but looking at the back yard there is a large telephone pole with wires and there is also a huge tree to the east. Therefore, to would still be rather difficult to see the lake.

Petitioner commented that they stood on it and they would be able to see the lake. He brought up the fact that he had pictures of different homes in the area. He stated that no two homes in that area of Jefferson are alike. He claimed that all the homes vary in size, shape and style. He added that as far as staying in the flavor of what is there already; there is no flavor. He reiterated that all the homes vary and there are no two houses on Jefferson that are exactly alike.

Mr. Leonard asked who obtained the first variance that was granted for the home?

Petitioner answered the variance was granted to the builders of the home. The home was changed from the original plans several times before it was built.

Mr. Leonard stated that without the original variance the house would have even been smaller.

Petitioner reiterated that was the reason he decided to go up because there was no room on the lot for an expansion of the home.

Mr. Leonard stated that building up is allowed as long as the petitioner's keep the height within the ordinance. He stated that he agrees with his colleague that he was looking for a hardship or practical difficulty. He stated that the petitioner could add on more space to the home without going as tall as the petitioner's intend to go.

Petitioner explained that in order to do that, he would have to add on to both sides of the house and that would be quite extensive. He would just like to build on one side of the home.

Mr. Leonard commented that he had a tough time accepting this major height variance.

Petitioner stated that it would be within the ordinance.

Mr. Leonard stated that it would not be within the ordinance, because if that was the case, the petitioner did not need to be there.

Petitioner claimed the only thing higher would be the widow's peak and the third story loft.

Mr. Leonard explained that both those items are part of the height. He commented that he built a home in that area in 2001, and it was on a big lot ;he had to stay within the height and his neighbors all had to stay within the height restrictions.

Chairman Stepnak verified with the petitioner if the drawing he had in his hand was the most accurate drawing of the plans. He just wanted to make sure the board was aware of what they were moving on that evening.

Jerry Seepas, 46606 Summertime, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Mr. Seepas made positive comments in favor of the board granting the variance.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the normal mailing did go out to residents in the vicinity and was published in the community paper.

Mr. Shortt commented that structurally the petitioner could make the addition work. The Building Department would not have a problem with it.

Mr. Leonard asked if the petitioner made any attempt to have an architect draw up some plans that would fit in the ordinance as far as the height?

Petitioner stated that before building anything they would have an architect draw up some plans and make sure everything is ok.

Mr. Leonard asked if the petitioner had a professional look at the plans to try to make it fit within the ordinance?

Petitioner stated that he consulted an architect, but they are very expensive and he did not want to pay someone before he knew how far he could go with the variance.

Chairman Stepnak explained that there are very few homes in the community with a third story. He added that the petitioner would need to prove a practical difficulty for adding a third story to a home. Many times the board looks at various different things that people want to do along the water. However, in this case the board is dealing with an additional height and the board also must look at how this would affect the neighborhood and the way the area has been developed.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler to deny petition # 2009-06 at 46788 Jefferson, Chesterfield, MI for lack of a practical difficulty.

Supported by Mr. Blake

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted

Chairman Stepnak polled the board for additional comments:

Ms. Orewyler stated that the variance would be out of character for the neighborhood.

Mr. Blake commented that it would not fit in with the neighborhood.

Mr. Leonard explained that an addition could be built without infringing on the height. He added that he recognized how nice the modifications that the petitioner has made have been. The petitioners have done a lot of work on the property and everything looks very good. However, the practical difficulty to approve the variance was not there.

Mr. Klonowski stated that it was contrary to the spirit and intent of the ordinance.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he concurred with Mr. Leonard. He had no problem with the petitioner putting an addition on to his home as long as it would be within the height restrictions.

Chairman Stepnak explained that he did not believe the petitioner proved a practical difficulty and it would deviate from the intended spirit of the ordinance.

5. ZBA PETITION # 2009-07: Curtis Williams, 50353 Foxcrest, Chesterfield, MI 48047. Variance request for a 12’ x 16 shed in lieu of the 10’ x 12’ ordinance allows. Location is the address stated above.

Curtis Williams, 50353 Foxcrest, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.  Petitioner stated that he was requesting a variance for a 12’ x 16’ shed in lieu of the 10’ x 12’ ordinance allows. He explained that he lives on a corner lot and he needs more storage room for all his lawn and snow removal equipment. He has a garage that is really packed. He stated that he also has a shed on the property at this time that is falling down and he would like to tear that shed down and replace it with a new one at he back corner of his lot. He explained that basically he does not have enough room to store items such as: yard tools, lawn equipment and snow removal equipment. He would like to get a bigger lawnmower because of the size of his corner lot.

Mr. Blake asked so basically you practical difficulty would be a lack of space?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Blake asked if the petitioner would be able to cut the size of the shed down by a couple of feet?

Petitioner answered that it would be possible, but he does have quite a few things and the would not gain any space because he would just be emptying out his old shed and putting his things in the new shed.

Mr. Blake asked if the petitioner put in the concrete driveway currently on the property?

Petitioner answered no, it was already there when he purchased the property.

Mr. Blake asked if the original shed was already on the property?

Petitioner answered yes. He explained that the original shed was built on the property easement and the new shed would be moved over and away from that easement.

Mr. Blake commented that he was aware that the petitioner has a very small garage.

Mr. Klonowski commented that he did not see any other sheds that large in the neighborhood. So, to him, this large shed would be a little out of character for the area.

Ms. Orewyler stated that she did know the petitioners and she wanted to bring that up and make the other board members aware of that fact. She explained that the petitioners always keep their property up beautifully and it always looks great. They are on a corner lot. The garage is small. The petitioner does have a lot of work tools and the shed would not just be for toys. She does appreciate the fact that the petitioner would like to put the shed at the back corner of his lot.

Mr. DeMuynck commented that the petitioner's garage is only 520 square feet and adding the 192' would only put him at 712'. Therefore, he does not have a problem with it. The petitioner is willing to put the shed in the back yard and is willing to take down the old metal shed.

Mr. Leonard stated that he drove around the petitioner’s neighborhood and he did notice a couple of sheds. They were not on corner lots. Those sheds were on middle lots, which are smaller. A few of the sheds looked bigger that 10' x 12'.  He stated that a lot of the homes in that area have small lots and the garages are in the back yards and then there is not a lot of room to throw up another shed.

The petitioner has a large 90' lot and there is no other way to add on to the size of the existing garage. So, even though the shed would be a little bit bigger, as Mr. DeMuynck mentioned it would still be under the allowable space. He asked the petitioner if he knew the height of the shed?

Petitioner answered that the shed would be under the 16' height requirement. He added that if would be 8' walls and a 6/12 pitch, therefore, the shed would probably be 14' high.

Mr. Leonard reiterated that because of lack of space and the large size of the lot, he does not have a problem it.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the shed would be tucked behind the petitioner's home and would not be seen. The shed would be a little bit over on space. He commends the petitioner for getting rid of the old metal shed right there on the roadway. The petitioner would really be improving his property. He added that the petitioner because of the large lot does have a need for additional storage and he does like the placement of the new shed.

Ms. Orewyler read a letter that was in favor of the variance being granted that was signed by the following neighbors: Brian Hubbert, Ken Loppak, Kevin Rosin, Chris Trinity, Rosalind Alongi, Diana Ciaravina, Sezda Kalata, Gary Typinski, and Dennis Hartman. The letter was retained for the ZBA's records.

Mr. Shortt stated that the Building Department did not have a problem with the shed. He explained that if the variance does get approved the Building Department would not final out the shed until the old metal one is removed. He asked if the board would allow the petitioner to keep the concrete drive there?

The board agreed that they did not have a problem with the petitioner keeping the concrete drive.

Mr. Shortt asked if the old shed had a ratwall?

Petitioner answered no. He stated that he planned to remove the old shed.

Mr. Shortt reiterated that the Building Department did not have a problem with the shed.

Ms. Orewyler asked what kind of material the petitioner planned to use for the siding of the shed?

Petitioner answered that he got pricing for T1 -11, but he thought he would go with vinyl siding for the structure.

Motion by Mr. Leonard to approve Petition # 2009-07 to allow a 12’ x 16 shed in lieu of the 10’ x 12’ ordinance allows.

Supported by Mr. DeMuynck

Mr. Leonard added that the metal shed must be removed before the approval of the new shed. The concrete drive would remain on the property. The petitioner would be allowed to install electricity in the shed. The reason for approval of the variance would be a practical difficulty that exists because the petitioner would not be able to expand his garage and the petitioner’s need for storage space.

Mr. DeMuynck continued support.

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted


There was no old business.


There was no new business


Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve the minutes of the April 22, 2009 meeting

Supported by Mr. Leonard

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted


Chairman Stepnak thanked Mr. Shortt from the Building Department for attending the meeting.


Motion by Mr. DeMuynck to adjourn at 7:39 PM.

Supported by Mr. Klonowski

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary

Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary



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