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Draft Minutes - July 25, 2017

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ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

Regular Meeting

July 25, 2017

Present:   Chairman Steve Haberkorn, Members Vern Johnson, Bob Swartz and. Elliott Church Also present was alternate member Ross DeVries, Assistant Planner/Zoning Administrator Corey Broersma, and Recording Secretary Laurie Slater.

Absent: Russ Boersma

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Haberkorn at 5:30 p.m. Chairman Haberkorn explained the process to the audience.

Hearing declared open to consider a petition for multiple variances submitted by Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity for vacant property located immediately north of 2895 96th Avenue, known more specifically as parcel number 70-16-13-200-059 and -060. Petitioner is requesting the following variances for the purposes of constructing a 4-unit garden apartment building and related accessory buildings on the premises: 1) A variance of 160 square feet from the 16,000 square feet minimum lot size, exclusive of public right-of-way, required for a 4-unit garden apartment building; resulting in a 4-unit garden apartment building on a lot size of 15,860 square feet; 2) A variance of 10 feet from the minimum 50 feet required between a proposed multi-family dwelling and an existing one-family dwelling; resulting in a 40 foot separation distance; 3) A variance from the required location of accessory buildings in the rear yard; resulting in accessory buildings in the side yard. The subject property is zoned Single-family, Two-family and Multifamily Residential (R-2A).

Present for this request was Corri Sandwick of Corri Sandwick Architecture on behalf of Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity.

The two parcels will be combined to one to meet the minimum setbacks for multi-family units. The size of the two parcels combined is still 160 square feet short of the 16,000 square feet required by ordinance.

There are four garden apartments proposed. The two units in the middle would be three-bedroom units and the two end units would be one bedroom.

Mr. Broersma gave an overview of the project. The property is zoned R-2A which allows one, two and multi-family structures. The width of each lot complies with ordinance for single-family dwellings only, however, when the lots are combined, two-family and multi-family dwellings are options. The height of the building would comply. Garden apartments are allowed to be two and a half stores in height or 35 feet.

Locating the accessory buildings in the side yard versus the rear yard would provide greater privacy to the outdoor space of each tenant. The accessory buildings would also be more accessible in the side yard. The accessory buildings would meet ordinance in size and each tenant would have one half of the accessory building for storage. They would be built to match the primary structure.

The proposed four-unit garden apartment building occupies nearly the entire buildable area that is available due to the required setbacks, they are required to have 10 parking spaces, and a ten-foot buffer between the parking lot and the single family residential to the south. Shifting the building south would reduce or eliminate the necessary buffer and/or shrink the parking lot to an unsafe or unusable size.

Present in the audience to speak to this request was Barry Mc Alpine owner of 9630 Meadowland Ct. Mr. Mc Alpine had concerns about the wetlands on the property. The previous owner had dirt brought in to build up the lot and the run off comes unto his property and has flooded his basement. In his opinion, the topographical infrastructure cannot handle the proposed apartment building. His is opposed to it.

The Ottawa County Water Resource Commission would have to approve the project.

Also present was Sue Davidson of 2885 96th Avenue. Her concerns were with the added traffic to the already busy street from the factories in the area. She also wanted to know what this development would do to her property taxes.

Don Willis of 2929 96th Avenue had concerns with the wetlands on the property, the added traffic and the high turn-around of people since this is a rental unit. Mr. Willis commented that he is not allowed to extend his fence to his property line because of the wetlands.

Don Wilkinson of Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity was present to speak to some of the concerns. Mr. Wilkinson stated that in the two years that they have owned the property they have not added any dirt to build up the lot. The property at one time did extend to the north, but that was sold to the property owner to the north. They do not want to encroach on the neighborhood with the parking lot. The storage buildings are to keep bikes, snow shovels and the like put away and the property looking tidy. There are no basements proposed.

Habitat housing breaks the cycle of poverty. This is not a transitional housing, it is intended to be a long-term housing rental of three to five years while the tenant prepares to take over a permanent habitat house. The classes and preparation for permanent housing takes at the very least a year.

Habitat does not have any other rental houses in the area. But to be affordable, four units are needed. Lakeshore Habitat would own in conjunction with Good Samaritan Ministries.

Nederveld has not shown wetlands to be a problem on the Phase 1 Environmental Survey that has been completed.

** It was moved by Mr. Swartz and supported by Mr. De Vries to close the hearing. Motion carried.

The Board went over the four standards to review when considering a nonuse variance request.

A variance of 160 square feet from the 16,000 square feet minimum lot size, exclusive of public right-of-way, required for a 4-unit garden apartment building; resulting in a 4-unit garden apartment building on a lot size of 15,860 square feet.

  1. Would strict compliance with the minimum area, yard setbacks, frontage, height, bulk, density, or other regulations of the Zoning Ordinance be unnecessarily burdensome? – Yes, without the 160-square foot variance they would not be allowed to build the apartments. An area equal to 10 feet x 16 feet is a very small deviation.

  2. Would granting the requested variance do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the zoning district? Or would a lesser relaxation than that applied for provide substantial relief to the property owner and be more consistent with justice to other property owners in the district? - Because they are a multi-unit development, their setbacks are greater. Other property owners in the neighborhood have 7-foot side yard setback requirements, while this project would have 50-foot side yard setbacks. No adverse effect is anticipated.

  3. Is the plight of the property owner/applicant due to the unique circumstances of the property (e.g. an odd shape or a natural feature, such a wetland or stream) and not to general neighborhood conditions in the area? - Yes, the buildable foot print.

  4. Are the practical difficulties alleged self-created? – Yes, single family dwellings could occur at this time, however, the zoning for the combined lots would allow for multi-family dwellings.

** It was moved by Mr. Johnson and supported by Mr. Swartz to grant the variance of 160 square feet from the 16,000 square feet minimum lot size, exclusive of public right-of-way, required for a 4-unit garden apartment building; resulting in a 4-unit garden apartment building on a lot size of 15,860 square feet. Motion carried.

A variance of 10 feet from the minimum 50 feet required between a proposed multi-family dwelling and an existing one-family dwelling; resulting in a 40-foot separation distance.

  1. Would strict compliance with the minimum area, yard setbacks, frontage, height, bulk, density, or other regulations of the Zoning Ordinance be unnecessarily burdensome? – Yes, without the 10’ variance they would have to shrink the parking lot to meet the requirement of the buffer causing safety concerns. Also, no one in the audience spoke to the 10-foot variance – all other properties are closer to each other than 50 feet.

  2. Would granting the requested variance do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the zoning district? Or would a lesser relaxation than that applied for provide substantial relief to the property owner and be more consistent with justice to other property owners in the district? - Granting the request would do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the zoning district. This request does no harm to the other property owners given single-family homes could be within 7 feet of the property line. A lesser relaxation won’t improve the project and could compromise the required 10-foot buffer.

     3.  Is the plight of the property owner/applicant due to the unique circumstances of the property
         (e.g. an odd shape or a natural feature, such as a wetland or stream) and not to general
          neighborhood conditions in the area? -
 The building takes up the available buildable foot
          print because of the greater setbacks which results in the building being in the center of the
          two parcels.



    4. 
Are the practical difficulties alleged self-created? - No, the parking problem would still exist if
         it was a three-unit development.


A variance from the required location of accessory buildings in the rear yard; resulting in accessory buildings in the side yard. The subject property is zoned Single-family, Two-family and Multifamily Residential (R-2A).

 

  1. Would strict compliance with the minimum area, yard setbacks, frontage, height, bulk, density, or other regulations of the Zoning Ordinance be unnecessarily burdensome? – Placing the accessory buildings in the back yard would not make sense for the tenants. If they needed a snow shovel, they would have to walk 50 feet or more to the west into the back yard to retrieve it.

  2. Would granting the requested variance do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the zoning district? Or would a lesser relaxation than that applied for provide substantial relief to the property owner and be more consistent with justice to other property owners in the district? - The buildings are not larger than permitted. The side yard is the best location for them and does provide better privacy for all parties. No adverse effect.

  3. Is the plight of the property owner/applicant due to the unique circumstances of the property (e.g. an odd shape or a natural feature, such a wetland or stream) and not to general neighborhood conditions in the area? - The buildable foot print is unique because of the greater setbacks.

  4. Are the practical difficulties alleged self-created? – Yes, but the result is acceptable. The buildable foot print and parking relationship which forces the front of the building to face south, making the “back yard” in the combined lot’s northern side yard. The location of the accessory buildings are kept off the north property line more than a single-family dwelling would be have to be. Additionally, landscaping is proposed along the north property line.

 

** It was moved by Mr. Swartz and supported by Mr. Johnson to grant the request as presented. Motion carried.

There were no public comments.

The minutes of June 27, 2017 were approved as written.

There was no other business.

The meeting adjourned at 6:52 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Laurie Slater
Recording Secretary

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