Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - August 26, 2009



August 26, 2009

On August 26, a regular meeting of the Chesterfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Township Hall located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield Twp., MI 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 Paula Frame, Planning Commission liaison

Brian Scott DeMuynck, Township board liaison

James Klonowski

Absent: Gerald Blake, excused

Mr. Shawn Shortt was present as the representative of the Building Department.


Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience.

4. ZBA PETITION # 2009-13: Anthony & Melissa Zito who reside at 49451 Heath Place Ct.,

Chesterfield, MI 48047. Requesting to allow existing 8’ x8’ shed to remain in its present

location 4’3" from residence, ordinance requires 10’ from any structure. Location is stated above. TABLED 8-12-09

Anthony Zito, 49451 Heath Place Ct., Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler to take Petition # 2009-13 off the table.

Supported by Mr. DeMuynck

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted

Mr. Shortt stated that the shed was supposed to be 10’ from the house and it was installed without a permit. It was voted on at the last meeting and there were not enough votes for a quorum; therefore it was tabled until this week.

Chairman Stepnak asked from a building prospective what would be the requirements?

Mr. Shortt explained that if the board approved the variance, he would make the petitioner drywall the shed with a 5/8 fire code drywall. The reason the Building Department would want the shed 10’ away from the home was because of the fire hazard that could be caused by keeping gasoline in the shed for lawnmowers or snow blowers. Also, he stated that for the Fire Department to fight a fire they need to have room to access the house. He reiterated that if the variance were approved by the board he would make the petitioner drywall the shed to at least allow the Fire Department some burn time to get in.

Chairman Stepnak stated that at the last meeting the board discussed that matter. He explained that the board had also discussed the requirement that the petitioner would also have the pool and everything else on the property brought to code.

Mr. Leonard explained that he stopped by the property and discussed the issue of dry walling the garage with the petitioner. He stated that there was no slab in the shed so the petitioner would also have to satisfy the Building Department with putting the proper foundation..

Mr. Shortt stated that the petitioner would have to install a ratwall and a slab.

Mr. Leonard commented that the petitioner seemed to be very receptive to all his suggestions. He mentioned that if the petitioner moved the shed back, it would be right in the neighbor’s face. Furthermore, if the shed would be put further back in the yard, there is an easement. He explained that he would be okay with the variance as long as the Building Department resolves all their issues.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that all his issues have been resolved and he has no problem as long as the petitioner adheres to the building codes.

Ms. Orewyler commented that she still had the same concerns as at the last meeting. She would like to see the shed moved.

Mr. Klonowski stated that the shed has been in place for 12 years. He asked Mr. Shortt if the Township could reach back and make someone move a shed that has been in place so long?

Mr. Shortt answered absolutely.

Mr. KIonowski asked if there were changes in the ordinance?

Mr. Shortt stated that the requirement has always been 10’ from the house for anything pools, sheds, gazebos. The reason for the requirement is for fighting fires. That has been in the ordinances forever, and it is also an international fire code safety requirement.

Ms. Frame stated that she had no problem with the variance as long as the applicant would be willing to bring it up to code. This was an inherited problem and not something he brought upon himself.

Chairman Stepnak mentioned that the reason for these safety codes was to prevent something happening like the Great Chicago Fire where homes were built on top of each other and when a fire started in one area it spread very quickly throughout the city. The board always looks out for the health, safety and welfare of the community.

Mr. Leonard stated that if the petitioner had a larger yard without the easement he could move the shed. He just sees certain issues with the property and the placement of the shed.

He reiterated that he would be okay with the variance as long the petitioner resolves all the requirements of the Building Department.

Petitioner stated that he would be fine with putting in the ratwall, slab and the drywall for the shed.

Motion by Mr. DeMuynck to approve Petition # 2009-13 to allow existing 8’x8’ shed to remain in its present location 4’3" from residence, ordinance requires 10’ from any structure. The petitioner must follow the requirements of the Building Department and put in a ratwall, slab and drywall.

Supported by: Ms. Frame

Ayes: DeMuynck, Frame, Stepnak, Leonard, KIonowski

Nays: Orewyler Motion Granted

5. ZBA PETITION # 2009-14: Kathleen McNair who resides at 51342 Caroline Drive, Chesterfield, MI 48047 is requesting a variance to allow a 1’6" encroachment into the rear yard for an awning over a patio overhang. Location stated above.

Bill McNair, 51342 Caroline Drive, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was requesting to put a cover over his patio for the sun because the heat in the summer is intense as his patio faces the east. He previously had a cover like this in Warren for 25 years and they never screened or closed in the patio. His intention is to leave the patio open and the cover would just protect them from the rain, sun and the elements. At this time, the petitioner's have a stamped concrete patio so the posts would have to go in front of it. That would be where they need the variance. He has looked into other types of awnings but most of them only go out to 10' and that would not be large enough to cover the area. He presented a folder with pictures for the board.

Ms. Orewyler asked if the petitioner had already started construction?

Petitioner answered no.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he does not have a problem with it.

Mr. Klonowski had no problem with the variance.

Mr. Leonard stated that he knew there was a concern about the petitioner possibly starting off with a roof cover and later closing it in. However, this is definitely not the type of roof covering that would be advantageous for closing in a patio. He does not really have any issues with it and he feels it would be a nice feature.

Ms. Frame stated that she visited the applicant and does not have a problem with it. The petitioner's have a very large easement and a couple of inches would not do any harm.

Mr. Shortt stated that the Building Department has no problems with the variance.

There were no public comments.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve Petition # 2009-14 at 51342 Caroline Drive for a 1'6" encroachment into the rear yard for an awning over a patio overhang.

Supported by Mr. Leonard

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted

6. ZBA PETITION # 2009-15: Lawrence Ripari, 53462 Spurry Lane on behalf of the homeowners in a continuous block Foster Meadows Subdivision, lots 5 thru 21 & 69 thru 76, on Spurry Lane where the rear yards back up to N. Foster. Variance is to waive the sidewalk requirement.

Lawrence Ripari, 53462 Spurry Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was in front of the board as the representative of the homeowners of Foster Meadows. He stated that they were here to request that the variance for the sidewalk requirements along the road in the back be waived. His biggest concern would be that currently the sidewalk is already too close to their homes and the Township wants to move the sidewalk up 17' which would put the sidewalk within 20' of his deck. The concern would be a privacy issue. If someone would be walking along that sidewalk only 20' from his home it would be very easy for that person to look into his windows. Another issue would be a safety issue as to where the utility boxes would be very close to the sidewalk. Some homeowners have little children and they will no longer have room to play in their back yards. Playscapes, swing sets and trampolines would all have to be moved. He was told by a man working on the sewer project that if there is anything in their way when they start the project, they will move it. He also thought the Township would save some money if they do not have to replace the sidewalks back there. He commented that he thought a concrete slab one-quarter of a mile long and three feet wide would cost a considerable amount of money. This would also create an eyesore for our community. The overgrowth and the environment it would create for wild animals such as snakes, skunks, and possum back there would be tremendous. At the present time he trims the area in back of his home and if they do not have to put the sidewalks most of the residents in the area would keep that area groomed. He reiterated that his basic concerns would be the privacy issue with the sidewalk too close to the homes which would be a security issue for all the neighbors, especially the little children.

Ms. Frame had no questions.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that the interceptor is a big project coming up 94 and going up Foster. He commented that once the project goes through that area with the interceptor, he noticed that there were quite a few sheds and fences in that area. He checked with the Building Department and a lot of those sheds and fences are non-conforming and were put up without permits. He stated that after the sewer goes through, they will be taking a lot of that down and before any of that goes back up the residents will have to appear before the ZBA for variances to get their permits.

Petitioner asked if anyone on the board had a timeline as to when the sewer project would be going through their area? A number of persons in the subdivision have graduation parties and other things they planned to do in their back yards.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he did not know the timeline as of yet. The project is coming up 94 and tunneling right now and when they get to a certain part they will be doing an open cut and then they will have to tunnel under the freeway. It will take time; they have already been working on the project close to a year.

Petitioner asked if everyone who wants to put their fence back up would have to get a permit?

Chairman Stepnak answered that every fence or shed put up requires a permit.

Petitioner asked if everyone would be able to put their sheds or fences back up?

Chairman Stepnak answered that it depended on the circumstances.

Petitioner commented so it was not carte blanche.

Chairman Stepnak stated it was no guarantee.

Petitioner mentioned that he planned to keep the area wide open; he did not plan to put his fence back up.

Chairman Stepnak explained that the only thing the board was addressing at this time was the sidewalk.

Mr. Klonowski stated that this was a unique situation. The Township does like to have sidewalks, but this is unique to have a sidewalk front and back that close to the houses and in the rear yard. He thought it was a difficult situation.

Mr. Leonard asked how traveled are the sidewalks? Do the children in the area use the back yard sidewalks as much as they do at the front of the house?

Petitioner answered that there is not a great amount of traffic on the sidewalk in the back. He stated that on an evening when he is sitting out back maybe one or two people walk down that sidewalk.

Mr. Leonard stated that he saw different types if screening back there; some people had privacy fences, some people had shrubs.

Ms. Orewyler asked who mows the easement?

Petitioner replied that most of the homeowners mow their own. Some of the people do not mow their area.

Ms. Orewyler commented that if the homeowners leave it to the county, it will only get mowed once or twice a year. She spent some time over in the area last Saturday to get an idea of how much traffic and foot traffic goes through the area. She noticed very little car traffic and she did not see any foot traffic. It seems a hardship for the residents to have two sidewalks one in the front and one at the back of their property. She assumed that these sidewalks were put in by the developer because they face a major road. She stated that there is another sidewalk on the other side of North Foster Road for several houses over there, but there is no subdivision over there. She does not have a problem with taking the burden off because there is no subdivision on the other side of the road. Children playing from one subdivision to the next would not apply in this case. She asked the petitioner if he was told that the residents had to put in the sidewalks?

Petitioner stated no. The sidewalks were supposed to be put in after the pipes were put in. He was also told that would put up a standard chain link fence back there.

Ms. Orewyler explained that if someone puts something in an easement, even if the board gives that person to put something in the easement; at a later date if the county had to go in that area to do something to that sewer whatever is back there would get trashed. If there is an easement things may have to be moved for the resident's safety. She stated, however, that she can see the hardship.

Ms. Orewyler read a letter from Ronald and Elaine Tworek in favor of the board granting the variance. The letter was retained for the ZBA's records.

Chairman Stepnak commented that this was a unique situation. There are sidewalks at the front of the homes.

Public Comments:

Pat Ripari, 53462 Spurry Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Ms. Ripari gave a little bit of background about the subdivision. She mentioned that the developers had a berm removed at the back of their lots. The homeowners came to a meeting and were told that they would be given the additional footage at the back of the property and that they could do what they wanted with it. She stated that none of the homeowners were aware that this situation would come up, they only knew that they would have to make accommodations if and when anything had to be done in the easement.

Ms. Ripari elaborated on the reasons the board should waive the requirement for the sidewalk at the rear of their homes.

John Felis, 53366 Spurry Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Mr. Felis made a number of comments in favor of having the sidewalk requirement waived.

Michelle Haubner, 53318 Spurry Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Ms. Haubner stated that she ran a residence home day care out of her home. She mentioned that there was already a lot of riff raff coming through on that back sidewalk like people picking up cans in the ditch. She felt that if the sidewalk requirement variance were approved that it would stop strangers from walking through their back yards. . She feels the closer sidewalk would not be safe for the children. She also mentioned that if the sidewalk were removed, the property at the back of their homes would be better maintained by the homeowners.

Ms. Orewyler stated that this property was on an easement and she is not sure if the homeowners all understood what an easement meant. She explained that even if the board would give a homeowner a variance on an easement. The homeowner does not own the easement. The homeowners must understand that the sewer is going to go through and it will continue to be an easement. She hopes that the residents will keep up the area behind their homes. Do not count on the county to keep the area clean. They will only come through once or twice a year. She lives by Brandenburg Park and people are always throwing garbage and cans on her property. She goes out there to clean it up on a regular basis. The residents must take some personal responsibility if they want that area kept and looking nice.

Chairman Stepnak explained that an easement is an area where either the sewer, water, electrical or gas comes in to the subdivisions. The unique situation in this case would be that the resident's property backs up to a major road. Easements have always been a drawback in the development of property. The reason people are discouraged from putting trees or sheds near the easement would be because if something does go wrong the County the Township or utility companies do have the authority to come in and rip it out. He remembers when he was on the Planning Commission and this case came up in regard to the berm in this development. At the time, they decided to go with trees instead because the berm is harder to cut and maintain. The people had use of these trees for many years. The reason the petition is in front of the board would not be for the residents to make any comments on the sewer; the board would just be looking at the sidewalk. He commented that the homeowners do have a sidewalk in front of their homes and there is also a sidewalk on the other side of the street on Foster Road so by eliminating this particular sidewalk would not diminish sidewalks in this area. There are still many of areas for people to use sidewalks in the area. He feels that it would be an undue hardship for the homeowners to keep on maintaining two sidewalks.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve Petition #2009-15 and the variance would be for all the homes on Spurry Lane listed in the petition.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that it would be for Foster Meadows Subdivision, lots 5 thru 21 and 69 thru 76.

Ms. Orewyler agreed to add that statement to the motion. The reason for the approval is that it would be an extra burden for these homeowners to maintain a second sidewalk. There is already a sidewalk on Foster Meadows. There is no subdivision beyond these homes on Foster Meadows.

Supported by Mr. DeMuynck

Mr. Klonowski asked if Ms. Orewyler could add that the variance was concerning the sidewalk in the back yard and that it would be very close to the homes.

Chairman Stepnak added that the area would already be adequately served by sidewalks, so this would be an undue burden on the homeowners to have the additional sidewalk in the back.

Ms. Orewyler agreed to the additions to the motion.

Mr. DeMuynck continued his support.

Ayes: All

Nays: All Motion Granted

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he would attempt to get in touch with the County Drain Commissioners or the Township Engineer and find out approximately when they are anticipating to be on North Foster. When he finds out the information, he will make an announcement at the Township Board meeting and the residents will be able to find the information on the cable channel.

7. ZBA PETITION # 2009-16: Gerald R. Ulewicz who resides at 49340 Bayshore, Chesterfield, MI 48047. Request is for a 4.80 side yard setback on the east side of residence and a 4.18 side yard setback on the west side of said residence, in the R-1-A Zoning District, which requires a 10’ side yard setback. Location is stated above.

Robert Kirk, 19500 Hall Road #100, Clinton Township, MI addressed the board.

Mr. Kirk stated that he was representing Mr. Ulewicz with regard to his variance to request for side yard setbacks. The petitioners would like to rebuild their home in its current place. They would not be expanding the footprint of the home. The house was about 40 years old and was built in 1964 and was conforming at that time. Since that time, the Township ordinances have changed in that district. They now require 90' lots. He thought that at the time there was intent for some of the lots to be combined. That has not really happened. Up until now with the economy he doubts it will be. The 90' lots require 10' side yards on each side. In this case, the lot is only about 50' and they are requesting about 5' on each side of the home, which would be about 20% of the lot coverage; which would be the same percentage of the 90' lots. He submitted a letter supporting the petitioner's request. The practical difficulty involved was a self-created hardship in regard to the site and at this time he requests the board's consideration.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he went down there and spoke to the homeowner. His understanding was that the petitioner would be staying with the existing footprint and the footing and everything would be staying the same. The petitioner would not be enlarging the home size; he would just be building a second story.

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. DeMuynck verified so the footing and the foundation would stay the same.

Petitioner replied yes.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he had no problem with this because of the narrow lots through that area. He has been around the area for 50 years himself and there are several narrow lots in there. He understands there was some type of misunderstanding when this whole project started between the petitioners and the Building Department as far as which walls were being torn down and which walls would remain. He understands all the problems have been worked out and if this is approved the petitioner would be staying with the existing footprint so the house would not be enlarged on the site; it would just be for the second story.

Petitioner answered that was correct.

Mr. Leonard stated that he did not have any questions.

Mr. Klonowski had no comments.

Ms. Frame stated that she did not have a problem with this because of the narrow lots. The petitioner would be staying with the same footprint and the house would not even be next to the neighbors, it would be kind of behind so the side setbacks would not really make much of a difference. She does not have a problem with this.

Ms. Orewyler stated that she had no problem with this because the petitioner would be going up two stories but it would be on the exact footprint.

Chairman Stepnak stated that since the petitioner is using the same footprint he does not have a problem with the variance.

Mr. Shortt stated that he did not have any problems with it.

Public Comments:

Rebecca Johnson, 49348 Bay Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board

Ms. Johnson stated that as Mr. Shortt and she believed Chairman Stepnak stated earlier one of the reasons for these variances would be because there are fire hazards. She stated that she would not read her entire letter but she stated that she would read the pertinent parts of it. "This property has been torn down and demolished. Once the property owner makes the decision to tear down the house, they are now then required to comply with the current ordinances of the Township. The property owner needs a variance for setback requirements. Those setback requirements exist for the safety of the other residents of Chesterfield Township. The property owner has inadequate access to the lakeside of his property. Granting of this ordinance only exasperates this problem." She believes that Mr. Leonard stated earlier neighbors move and change and maybe one neighbor lets a person have access to their front yard today, but they may not let you have it tomorrow. She elaborated that this is the opportunity for the Township to rectify the problem that exists. She stated that there is no ready access to the front yard of this property. She reiterated that granting of this ordinance only exasperates this problem. Enforcing the Township's ordinance will not cause a practical difficulty. In fact, it eliminates the practical difficulty this property owner currently faces, which would be the inability to access his front yard. There is nothing unique about this property that necessitates the granting of this variance. There is no hardship or practical difficulty the petitioner will suffer if the variance is denied. The property owner could submit builder's plans that conform to the Township's ordinances and proceed to build. People that are on these narrow lots build narrow houses. If the petitioner had wanted to rebuild his house, he should have kept his walls there. She stated now it should be play by the rules that exist today.

Mr. Leonard stated that he made no comment and had no questions. So he is not sure about the neighbor thing that Ms. Johnson was referring to.

Ms. Johnson made a comment from the audience that was inaudible.

Chairman Stepnak stated that it could have been him. He makes comments about all sorts of things.

Ms. Orewyler had a letter from Ms. Johnson. She did not read the letter because the board believed Ms. Johnson had covered most of it in her comments to the board. The letter was retained for the ZBA's records.

Harold Lemmer, 49300 Bayshore, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Mr. Harold Lemmer stated that he does not believe he is the oldest resident out there, but longevity wise he thought he had everybody other than Mr. Paquette beat. He has lived in this neighborhood his whole life, before and after the tornado. The lot that these people have has been there ever since he was a little boy. Next door where Mr. Grashik lives, there was two lots before the tornado; there were two houses and people had to go between the houses sideways. Therefore, people have done a lot of things like combining and what have you. He was part of the group that fought for the R 1 zoning because he wanted to protect values of the homes. Now this person talks about access to the lake; the Township does not need access to the lake. She stated that there is a fire hydrant directly across the street. Why this happened, he does not know, but he can only state that to deny these people the right to build their house back up would be a travesty for what is going on in the neighborhood. The petitioner's would be enhancing the value of the property. He lives about five houses away from there. The petitioners would be increasing the value of the property. They are not doing what they could do which would be to build a house out in front of everybody else and block everybody. They are not doing that. There aren't any neighbors that he knows of that object to this plan. He stated to put these people through that and make them start over closer to the lake would really be a hardship. Again, there is no easement for the Township down there, so the Fire Department does not have to access the lake. If they have to access the lake there are other areas and other houses that they can go to. Therefore, he is hoping this board grants the variances and let these people go and build their house.

Erik Heiderer, 44045 Gratiot, Clinton Township, MI addressed the board.

Mr. Heiderer stated that he was the architect for the Ulewicz. He stated that just to clarify the demolition of the plans. They were not actually demolishing the entire house. The existing foundation and footings were staying and the existing garage was staying as is. One exterior wall would be staying as is and the floor joyces and sub floors were staying as is, They were not demolishing the entire house. They would meet the requirement of keeping with the existing envelope.

Carl Melchior, 49348 Bay Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Mr. Melchior stated that he is a neighbor of the Ulewicz’s. He is the husband of Rebecca Johnson. He too has been familiar with the neighborhood since before the tornado. His grandparents had a cottage up the road in Fair Haven. After the tornado, he actually visited the site and ended up living there years later. After the tornado, the community was a disaster and was rebuilt with very loose codes. The garage next door to him is only 1'6" off his property. The Ulewicz’s property is 3.6' off the property by the survey he had when he did his addition with the proper setbacks. Now, in 2004 they had a variance for a garage and at that time the petitioner's stated that their intentions were to tear down the existing house. The variance for the garage was granted and the order the petitioner's were supposed do this in was to tear down the house, rebuild the house and then rebuild the garage. He stated that they did not do that. Another variance that the petitioner had was to build a shed that was the same size, but they doubled the size and that structure was built within 2'10" of his property line. He explained that that shed is next to their bedroom and the petitioner's store gasoline, lawnmowers in there. A variance was granted for the shed by this board last year. He claimed that the Ulewicz’s submitted a letter stating they had done everything to keep the neighborhood nice. He presented pictures to the board showing what his yard looked like before the Ulewicz’s moved in and what it looks like now. He stated that he has a nice view driving into my home of the lake and trees. Now, he has a garage, a play set, and something inaudible 12' x 12' covered by a shed which the city will not enforce its ordinances about it being stored out there. He elaborated that they have been ignored at every request. He stated now the Ulewicz’s claim they are building the house in the same envelope; they are also asking for a cantilever. The envelope goes to the sky. They are not building their home in the same envelope, they are expanding their home above as well. He stated plus they are building an addition. The petitioner's put in for a permit in early July and it was approved by the Building Department. The addition was the same distance from the setback as the existing building. It did not have a variance. It did not have anything. It did not even have a survey to be approved. He brought these facts to the attention of the Building Department and they denied it. They stated that he was starting a war. He exclaimed that he was just sticking up for his rights. He went to the Building Department to get a fence because things were being stored on his property and were being built on his property directly. He was told that it was a civil matter. He commented that now he and his wife were trying to do something about it before it happens. The Ulewicz’s have demolished the shed and the house and built from new to start. They have been planning on doing this since 2004. They claimed that they did not know that they could not tear down the walls. He claimed that they knew darn well they could not take down the walls. They did it anyways; they took down the shed and they built one. He brought this to the attention of the Building Department and they stated the Ulewicz’s were just putting up a tent. He went on to state that the petitioner's then put up a shed and got a red tag. He stated now it still sits there 12' x 20' and he has to look at it from his porch that he built with his hard earned money. He stated now they are trying to make it worse and a dangerous situation.

Chairman Stepnak stated that he understood this neighbor's frustration but the problem the board is running into would be that the petitioner's are asking to be rebuilt. He stated that the petitioner's were planning to build on the same footprint. He asked Mr. Shortt if the petitioner's had other options?

Mr. Shortt stated that the petitioner's put in a new foundation to raise it out of the flood plain. The reason the petitioner's are in front of the board was because they took the first floor of walls down; over 50% of the structure. He explained that was the reason this would be non-conforming. If the petitioner's had kept the four walls up; they would be building their second story and they would not be here.

Chairman Stepnak stated so basically the petitioner’s are here because they tore down the walls.

Mr. Shortt agreed. The petitioner's house would meet all the building codes. It would not have to be a rated wall because it would be greater than three feet from the property line. It would meet all the ordinances and the porch they would be adding onto the back would conform with the R 1 A zoning. The petitioner's would be stepping that in. The plans that the petitioner submitted to Mr. Shortt had would meet all the zoning and building codes. It would be an R 1 A zoning on a fifty foot lot.

Ms. Frame stated that it did not make any sense that it was in an R 1 A zone.

Mr. Shortt commented that the whole street does not make any sense; it's ridiculous.

Chairman Stepnak stated that he thinks this all goes back to the days when R 1 A was the highest zoning that exists; therefore people figured they would not have any smaller homes being built in that area. Now the board is dealing with issues like this.

Mr. Leonard stated that he has been on the water himself since 1985. He commented that there was not one lot that he built on that was normal. One was a pie shaped, one was a 50' wide lot and the other was a nice size lot surrounded on three sides by water. He explained that he needed a variance on one and the other ones he just did the best he could to make everything fit. He added that was a common occurrence on the waterfront. It is unique, not every community has a waterfront. In his neighborhood, the lots are all different sizes; anywhere from 50' to 100' and people run into these things. He asked how old was the existing house on this property?

Petitioner answered it was built in 1964.

Mr. Leonard stated so the house was about 50 years old. He explained that what he has seen with his background in building is if something is 50 years old there are problems. There is a home on Jefferson where the owners are trying to salvage part of it but when they got to the walls they had problems. The studs in the walls were different from what they are today. People run into problems and many times when rebuilding, it is not good to keep what is there. He is not sure if that was the problem the petitioner's were running into. The ordinances and building codes way back when were different than they are today. He thinks that the structure would be much better with new walls. He is assuming the floor joyces, and the foundation. He concluded that it would be a matter of taking down the walls that were not good.

Ms. Orewyler read a letter that was in favor of the board granting the variance. The letter was signed by the following neighbors: Sandy Schaffer, Louis Paquette, Catherine Paquette, Martin Grashik, Mary Ann Grashik, Harold Lemmer, Michael Schenk, Christine Schenk, Debbie Thibideau, Robert Thibideau, Paula Miriani, and Marie Bartoli.

Chairman Stepnak commented that he understood the neighbor's concerns on this matter. Other than completely turning it down he does not know what they could do in this matter. The petitioner's do have the right to rebuild their home. It would be possible that the petitioners could put a new home in there that could be more intrusive.

Public Comments:

Rebecca Johnson, 49348 Bay Lane, Chesterfield, MI readdressed the board

Ms. Johnson stated that she has no objection to the Ulewicz’s rebuilding their home. However, she feels they should have to comply with the existing ordinances. If they build this house as planned and she wanted to build a garage her back yard; she would be impinged upon because the petitioner's home does not meet the setback requirements. Plenty of houses on the lake are on these narrow lots. These narrow lots that have narrow houses on them and are within the setback requirements. If the petitioner had left the walls as he was supposed to do he would have been able to build the house on his footprint. In that case, they would not have had any reasons to object. The Township now has the opportunity to correct the problem. She does not see how it would cause any hardship for the petitioner. Ms. Johnson added that with respect to the Fire Departments access to the homes; that is not the issue. Mr. Ulewicz only has 3.5' on one side and 4.5' on the other side. if he wants to cart something to the back yard he has no way to get it there. The Ulewicz's would have to get our permission or Marty and Mary Ann's permission to go through their properties. She elaborated that we may not live on this property for very long and who knows if Mary Ann and Marty plan to move at some time. If the new next door neighbors do not want Mr. Ulewicz to on their property there would be constant trespassing issues. The Township should alleviate this problem now. She stated that she also expects the Township to enforce their ordinances.

Mr. Shortt stated that If the petitioners had left the four walls they would not even be in front of the board on this issue.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve ZBA Petition # 2009-16 on the request for a 4.80 side yard setback on the east side of residence and a 4.18 side yard setback on the west side of said residence, in the R-1-A Zoning District, which requires a 10’ side yard setback. The property is not changing the foot print. The house would be in the exact location; it would only be going up two stories. The petitioner would not even have been here if had he not taken down the walls. She does not consider that a major infraction. The setbacks on either side would not change.

Supported by Ms. Frame

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted


There was no old business.


Chairman Stepnak stated that he received a letter from Ms. Janice Giese from Planning and Zoning Administration about the Township budget constraints in regard to the convention. He believes the board members could still go if need be.

Ms. Orewyler stated she did not know where the convention was being held?

Ms. Frame replied that the convention was to be held at Soaring Eagle.

Chairman Stepnak polled the board.

None of the board members planned to attend the convention.


Motion by Mr. DeMuynck to approve the minutes from the August 12, 2009 meeting.

Supported by Ms. Orewyler

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted


Chairman Stepnak thanked Mr. Shortt for attending the meeting.


Motion by Chairman Stepnak at 8:37 PM

Supported by Ms. Frame

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary

Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary




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