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Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - May 11, 2011

THE CHARTER TOWNSHIP OF CHESTERFIELD

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

May 11, 2011

On May 11, 2011, a regular meeting of the Chesterfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Township Hall located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield, MI 48047.

1. CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Stepnak called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.

2. ROLL CALL: Present: Marvin Stepnak, Chairman

Carl Leonard, Planning Commission liaison

Thomas Yaschen, Secretary

Michele Ficht, Township Board liaison

Gerald Alexie

Wendy Jones

` Absent: James Klonowski, Vice-Chairman, excused

Mr. Shawn Shortt attended the meeting as the representative of the Building Department.

3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:

Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience.

4. ZBA PETITION #2011-04: Suzanne Wolf, 48482 Kelly Lea Lane, Chesterfield, MI 48051. Requesting a variance to allow a portion of their fence to be located 1’ from the sidewalk on the corner of Kelly Lea and Wheatfield.

Kevin Wolf, 48482 Kelly Lea Lane, Chesterfield, MI 48051 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was requesting a variance to build a fence at his property that would be 1’ from the sidewalk instead of the 5’ required by Township ordinance.

Mr. Yaschen had no questions.

Ms. Jones had no questions.

Mr. Alexie stated that he had no questions. He explained that he had gone out to look at the site and he understood why the petitioners needed a fence for their two small children. He stated that he really did not have a problem with it.

Mr. Leonard stated that over the years there have been a lot of discussions over the fence ordinance. He mentioned that years ago the fences had to be fifteen feet from the sidewalk which was considered excessive. So the ordinance was then changed from fifteen to five feet.

Chairman Stepnak stated that every time the board passes something like this they are chipping away a little more at the ordinance. He mentioned that it all went back to persons living on corner lots wanting more usable property.

Mr. Leonard stated that his main concern was where the fence is placed too close to the sidewalk. He explained that it was more of a safety issue and that it is much better to have a five foot buffer between the fence and the sidewalk. He mentioned that he was especially concerned about children playing or falling off bikes and running into the fence being so close to the walk. Over the years he has seen a lot of fences that are one foot from the sidewalk and he wonders if many of these fences were put up without being approved. He reiterated that his concern was the safety issue. He stated that he has looked at the drawings and does not see a reason to have the fence so close.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioners had provided a list of several addresses where there are fences that are one foot from the sidewalk in their area of the community. He explained that maybe the fences that are one foot from the sidewalk had been put up before the ordinance. He stated that he thought the fence ordinance of fifteen feet from the walk was excessive. He mentioned that he understood

Mr. Leonard’s concern over safety issues.

Chairman Stepnak asked Mr. Shortt if he had any concerns about the variance?

Mr. Shortt stated that the Building Department did not have any problems with the proposed location of the fence.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner was obligated to prove a practical difficulty to allow this type of variance to be approved. He commented that the Zoning Board of Appeal was comprised of seven people with different opinions.

Petitioner stated that the proposed fence would not be any closer to the sidewalk than most of the other fences in their neighborhood.

Suzanne Wolf, 48482 Kelly Lea Lane, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Ms. Wolf stated that if they moved the fence back four more feet the fence post would be in their neighbor’s front yard and obstruct their view. Furthermore, she mentioned that if they were forced to put the fence in five feet from the sidewalk, they would have to cut down a beautiful large pine tree on their property.

Mr. Yaschen asked the petitioners how many children they have?

Ms. Wolf answered that they have two children and possibly one on the way. She stated that it was hard to keep their children safe on a corner lot.

Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioners to step up to the podium and explain the location of the proposed fence on the plans.

There was a discussion among the board members and the petitioners about the location of the proposed fence and the proximity of the neighbor’s property.

Chairman Stepnak stated that if the fence was pulled back the petitioners would have to cut down the large pine tree. He explained that the property was unique because of the location of the neighbor’s property.

Mr. Shortt stated that he had no problem with the clear vision triangle with the traffic on the street.

Chairman Stepnak explained that the property was unique because of the way the lot was configured. He stated that basically, the property was not a true corner lot. Furthermore, he commented that the petitioner had provided the board with a list of homes where the fence is only one foot from the sidewalk.

Mr. Leonard stated that the fences that are one foot from the sidewalk could be illegal. He stated that he would be willing to approve a fence a few more feet from the walk. He suggested that the petitioners might consider a compromise and possibly put the fence three feet from the sidewalk. He reiterated that he would have a problem with a fence only one foot from the sidewalk.

Mr. Alexie asked what kind of fence the petitioner’s planned to use?

Ms. Wolf answered that it would be a white picket fence.

Mr. Alexie asked the petitioner how high was the proposed fence?

Ms. Wolf replied that the fence would only be four feet high.

Motion by Mr. Yaschen to approve Petition # 2011-04 on the requested variance at 48482 Kelly Lea Lane, to allow a portion of a fence to be located one foot from the sidewalk and in the front yard on the corner of Kelly Lea and Wheatfield. He stated that based on the situation the board would not be taking away from the spirit or intent of the ordinance. He added that the petitioners would not be allowed anything more than other residents in the community.

Supported by Ms. Ficht

Ayes: Yaschen, Ficht, Alexie and Jones

Nays: Stepnak and Leonard Motion Granted

5. ZBA PETITION #2011-05: David Smith, 50086 Bower, Chesterfield, MI 48047. Requesting a rear yard setback variance and to allow proposed gazebo and roof to be closer than 10’ to another structure.

David Smith, 50086 Bower, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was requesting to erect a covered deck called a gazebo within the ten foot limitation. He stated that the gazebo would be five feet from the garage. He explained that his home is now only nine feet from the garage. He stated that he had discussed the matter with the Mr. Shortt from the Building Department and knew he had to use non-combustible plywood and roofing.

Ms. Jones had no questions.

Mr. Leonard stated that the petitioner went out there and met with Mr. Shortt who told him to use non-combustible materials to construct the gazebo. He stated that it sounds like there was nothing else the petitioner could do in this situation.

Mr. Alexie asked if the gazebo would be a closed structure?

Petitioner answered no. The plans were for an open air gazebo and he showed a picture of the structure to the board members.

Ms. Ficht had no questions.

Mr. Yaschen had no comments.

Mr. Yaschen read a letter in favor of the board granting the petitioner’s variance from Ms. Janice Uglis. The letter was retained for the ZBA records.

Mr. Shortt stated that the petitioner can make the structure work by using non-combustible materials and class four shingles for the gazebo roof. He asked the petitioner if the garage had drywall?

Petitioner answered no.

Mr. Shortt stated that he would probably have the petitioner install fire rated drywall in the garage.

Motion by Mr. Leonard to approve Petition # 2011-05 for the variance to allow a deck and gazebo with a roof closer than 10 feet between structures. He stated that the petitioner was willing to work with the Building Department and work out concerns about and fire hazard. He added that the reasons for approval were spelled out in the letter provided by the petitioner.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner had proved a practical difficulty in this matter.

Supported by Mr. Alexie

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

6. OLD BUSINESS:

There was no old business

7. NEW BUSINESS:

Mr. Leonard brought up the proposed changes to the ordinance concerning four-car garages. He stated that they would be allowing people to build a four car garage with no more than three garage doors facing the street. He mentioned that the square footage of the structures would also be increased. He explained that that the garage doors would be nine feet wide and eight feet tall, so if someone wants a bigger garage door, that may be a reason for people to go to the ZBA for a variance. He stated that the change would be for R1A with a 90’ frontage on more than a ½ acre parcel and the homeowners would still be allowed to have a 10’ x12’ shed.

Ms. Ficht asked if it came into play that the garage could not be larger than the home.

Mr. Leonard stated that was not part of the discussion probably because the property had to be R1A and where people would be building larger homes.

Mr. Leonard brought up that there have been many changes to the ordinances over the years and they try to create continuity. He stated that was why he brought up splitting up the difference on the issue with the fence.

Chairman Stepnak stated that evidently the petitioners did not feel the three feet was an option. He explained that the board cannot change the petitioner’s plans they can only suggest a compromise.

Mr. Leonard stated that he was okay with the fence but his concern was for kids falling off of bikes and possibly getting injured.

Chairman Stepnak stated that each case stands on its own merits. He mentioned that the petitioner did bring up the pine tree and the unconventional way that the subdivision was laid out. He commented that the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board both do a lot of good things and a lot of thought goes into their decisions.

8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES FROM PRIOR MEETING:

Motion by Ms. Ficht to approve the minutes from the ZBA meeting on April 27, 2011.

Supported by Mr. Alexie

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

9. COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR:

There were no comments from the floor.

10. ADJOURNMENT:

Motion by Mr. Yaschen to adjourn the meeting at 7:35 PM

Supported by Mr. Alexie

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

Thomas Yaschen, Secretary

Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary

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