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Minutes - July 26, 2016

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

Regular Meeting
July 26, 2016

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

Absent: Russ Boersma

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Steve Haberkorn at 5:30 p.m.

Dave DeYoung gave the Board an update on his attempt to get a road abandonment. (Passed out paperwork to the Board – included) Mr. DeYoung stated that Meghann Reynold, Community Development Director, had met with the Township Attorney and is recommending that the Township oppose his request to abandon the portion of Lawn Avenue. Mr. DeYoung would have liked to have had the opportunity to be at the meeting to voice his opinion on the reasons given for the Township opposing the request.

He is giving complete access to the general public. There is an easement there for the two existing paths and there would also be an easement for the utilities as well. The Road Commission has already abandoned a portion of the road and stated the road will not be developed any further. Mr. DeYoung is not proposing to change anything. The area will be used as it is being used now with the existing right-of-ways for utilities and public access. He would appreciate time to speak with the Township Attorney as this is a complete reversal of what he and the Township had going on before. He is not sure what his next step is – possibly getting an attorney.

Mr. Haberkorn explained the public hearing process to the audience.

Hearing declared open to consider a petition for two variances submitted by The Stow Company for property located at 3311 Windquest Drive, known more specifically as parcel numbers 70-16-08-300-033, 70-16-08-300-072, and 70-16-08-300-074. Petitioner is requesting the following variances: (1) A request to extend the nonconforming structure to accommodate a proposed 178,200 square foot addition onto the north side of the existing building. The current structure is nonconforming because it fails to meet the 50 foot rear yard setback requirement. The current structure presently has a rear yard setback of 16 feet; the new addition proposes to maintain this same setback. (2) A request for a nonuse variance in the rear yard setback. A 34 foot variance from the 50 foot rear yard setback; resulting in a rear yard setback of 16 feet. The subject property is zoned I-2, General Industrial.

Present for this request was Lynnelle Berkenpas of Holland Engineering on behalf of The Stow Company.

Ms. Berkenpas explained to the Board that The Stow Company is expanding and growing quickly. They would like to continue construction along the same setback as the existing building as they move forward. The expansion would be for light assembly and warehouse. The south end of the building is where the manufacturing is.

The building was expanded in the 1990’s and again in 2013. There was a question from the Board as to whether there should have been a variance request at the time of the previous additions. Mr. Broersma commented that yes there should have been, but to date we had not found records of one. The building permit process should have caught the need for a variance in 2013.

Adding on to the existing structure furthers the issue of the lack of access to the south side of the building in case of a fire. The proposed plan would allow a firetruck to drive up to where the existing building starts, but the firetruck would have to back out. The length of the existing building is 600 feet.

There is a rail spur on the southeast corner of the building that locks out access to the back of the building. The Stow Company does use the rail spur for delivery of product. There are no plans to extend the rail spur with this project.

The Board asked Ms. Berkenpas if they had contacted the railroad about allowing access in their right-of-way. The railroad generally does not allow this. They have not yet contacted them.

Ms. Berkenpas stated that the building would be “fire suppressed” – have sprinkling throughout the building. The Township staff has contacted the Fire Chief for his input on the matter and has not yet heard back from him.

Board Member, Ross De Vries stated that he is pleased to hear that The Stow Company is growing and that they want to invest in our community. It is sad that HCT staff missed the need for a variance prior to this. He further stated that awhile back there was a fire in a building that had a full fire suppression system in place but for some reason had been turned off. The fire burned for three days. If the Township were to approve this variance request and a fire was to happen and the firetrucks could not get to it, would part of the responsibility be on the Township? It is a matter of safety.

Mr. Church agreed with Mr. De Vries. The Board cannot make the situation less safe than it already is. He would like the input of the Fire Chief.

In further discussion with the applicant it was noted that The Stow Company is in the process of combining the parcels so that they do not strattle property lines. Also, they are located in a flood plain, so filling in the detention pond and relocating it and building there, if the variance is approved, would have to be certified by an engineer for FEMA.

The Board would like HCT Staff to find the original building plans that were submitted to the Township in 1988 and see if the building was built where the plans showed it was going to be. Also, to research further to see if there had been a previous variance that was not recorded in the computer.

One final question from the Board was the intent of the space they are adding on. The Stow Company replied that they have no intension of leasing out any of the space, it is all for their own use. They have grown and need to expand. They have explored the possibility of moving to another building. They want to stay here in Holland Township.

** It was moved by Mr. Church and supported by Mr. Swartz to table this item until there has been a discussion with the Fire Chief and HCT staff and a determination on the issue of safety has been reached. Also, for HCT staff to investigate the origin of the error in the rear yard setback of the building. Motion carried.

Hearing declared open to consider a petition to extend a nonconforming use submitted by Chad Dykema for property located at 10842 Adams Street, known more specifically as parcel number 70-16-35-100-009. Petitioner is requesting to extend the nonconforming use to accommodate a proposed addition onto the existing structure. The lot is nonconforming because it fails to meet the 325 foot minimum lot width and 5 acre minimum lot size requirement. The structure is nonconforming because it fails to meet the 60 foot front yard setback requirement and it also fails to meet the 20 foot (50 foot total) side yard setback requirement. The proposed addition is in compliance with all required setbacks, therefore, a nonuse variance will not be required in addition to the aforementioned variance. The subject property is zoned A, Agricultural.

Present for this request was Chad Dykema.

Mr. Dykema explained that he purchased the house from a foreclosure and he intends to fix it up and sell it. He would like to enclose the existing porch and turn it into a bathroom for the master bedroom and make it a master suite. The wall would be in line with the existing exterior walls. It would have siding and shingles to match the existing portion of the house.

There is currently a barn and a shed on the property. Mr. Dykema plans to tear down the shed, but the barn is in decent condition. Since the septic system on the property collapsed, he is connecting to municipal sewer.

There was reference to the junk cars and the clutter in the aerial of the property, which was taken in 2014. Mr. Dykema explained that the previous owner collected junk and that the cars had been cleared out. Mr. Broersma commented that there had been citations issued to the previous owner in 2015.

There was no one in the audience to speak to this request.

** It was moved by Mr. Johnson and supported by Mr. Church to close the hearing. Motion carried.

The Board went over the three standards to review when considering a request for the extension of a non-conforming use.

  1. The remodeling will not substantially extend the probable duration of the nonconforming structure. It can continue to be used without the proposed addition. They are not changing the exterior walls or roof in large part.
  2. The remodeling of the nonconforming structure will not interfere with the use of adjoining lands or other properties in the surrounding neighborhood for the uses for which they have been zoned pursuant to the provisions of this ordinance. The only change being proposed is the enclosure of the porch.
  1. There would be no adverse effect of the nonconforming structure or it use and such remodeling thereof on adjoining lands in the surrounding neighborhood. The proposed addition meets the required setbacks and does not exceed lot coverage requirements.

** It was moved by Mr. Johnson and supported by Mr. Swartz to grant the request as presented with the stipulation that the roof and siding match the existing house.   Also, the shed that is in poor condition is taken down. Motion carried.

There were no public comments.

The minutes of June 28, 2016 were approved as written.

The meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Laurie Slater, Recording Secretary

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