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Minutes - October 24, 2017



Regular Meeting

October 24, 2017

Present:   Chairman Steve Haberkorn, Members Vern Johnson, Elliott Church, Bob Swartz and Russ Boersma.  Also present was Community Development Director John D. Said, Assistant Community Development Director Corey Broersma, and Recording Secretary Laurie Slater.

Absent: None

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 an additional or larger accessory building submitted by Ken Hoekstra for property located at 9817 Riley Street, known more specifically as parcel number 70-16-12-400-021. Petitioner is requesting an additional variance of 1,800 square feet from the maximum 576 square foot allowable size for a detached accessory building; resulting in a detached accessory building of 4,360 square feet.  The subject property is zoned Agriculture (A).

Present for this request was Ken Hoekstra – property owner.

Mr. Hoekstra explained to the Board that he would like to add on to an existing accessory building. The height of the existing accessory building is not high enough to accommodate his motor home.  He tried removing the roof top air conditioning unit and it still does not fit into the existing structure.  The header is at door height, which is a little over 11 feet and his motor home is 12 feet in height.

Mr. Hoekstra spoke with his neighbors and they had no objections. He abuts schools on two sides. The proposed addition would be centered on the existing building with 10 feet of the proposed addition extending out on both sides of the existing building.  The building would meet all setbacks as it sits in the middle of approximately four acres.  The addition would match the existing accessory building with vinyl siding and a shingled roof and an overhead door.

There is currently an 8’ x 8’ playhouse, a three-sided cow shelter and a lean-to 3 ½ feet wide by 20 feet long for firewood currently on the property. These all count as other accessory buildings as they have a roof.

Mr. Hoekstra uses the existing accessory building for his hobby of rebuilding tractors. He does have a plumbing business, but stores no parts on his property.  Parts are delivered directly to job sites.  There is an existing paved driveway back to the structure.

Board Member Mr. Church stated that the size of the existing accessory building is 444% larger than what is permitted (576 square feet) and the proposed addition would create an accessory building 757% larger than what is permitted. Three times larger than others in the neighborhood.

Mr. Hoekstra replied that he doesn’t need that much room, he is requesting extra just in case. He does not want to have to keep coming before the Board to ask for variances. 

Mr. Church continued stating that granting this would set a precedence and a fairness problem. It is excessive and inconsistent to grant this request.  It’s not a space problem, it’s a door problem creating a construction problem. 

Mr. Hoekstra commented that there are no houses near him. The addition to the accessory building would not be intrusive and the property is zoned Agricultural.  All he would really need to fit his motor home is a 24’ x 40’ addition.

The property is zoned Agricultural, but it is being used as residential thus it has residential restrictions.

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

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

The Board went over the eight standards to review when considering an oversized accessory building.

1.  The size of the parcel is 3.78 acres

2.  The use of the proposed building would be storage of a motor home.

3.   The addition would match the existing structure with vinyl siding and shingled roof.

4.   There is currently a playhouse, a three-sided cow barn and a woodshed on the property.

5.   There are other accessory buildings within the adjoining neighborhood, but not as large as what exists or what is being requested.

6.   There would be no adverse effect on the light and air circulation of any adjoining properties. The structure would be visible from adjoining properties.

7.   There would be no adverse effect of the building on the surrounding neighborhood.

8.   There would be no adverse environmental effect of the building or its proposed use.

** It was moved by Mr. Church and supported by Mr. Boersma to deny the request.  It would be inconsistent with what has been granted to others with similar requests.  It would be three times larger than any accessory building in the surrounding neighborhood.  Motion carried.

Hearing declared open to consider a petition for a non-use variance submitted by J & S Farms, LLC, for property located at 3759 96th Avenue, known more specifically as parcel number 70-16-12-200-015. Petitioner is requesting an 80-foot variance from the required 100-foot setback from a rear property line for an existing agricultural building; resulting in a rear yard setback of 20 feet.  Variance is necessary to complete a proposed lot split.  The property is zoned Agriculture (A).

Present for this request John Janssen.

Mr. Janssen explained that he is proposing to sell the house and barn that is currently located on the 36 acres. He would like split off the 2.43 acres that the homestead is on.  He is currently and plans on continuing to farm the remainder of the 36 acres.  Mr. Janssen owns the property to the south of this plot of land.  He is asking for a 20-foot rear yard setback as he is farming the property beyond that point and expressed that to have a 100-foot setback would be a waste of the land.

The structure (barn) is an agricultural building that did not require a building permit so no inspections were required on the structure. So even though the property would be used as residential, the barn remains an agricultural building.  If this structure had been constructed as a residential accessory building it would be allowed to be within five feet of the rear property line.  If a future owner wanted to use the barn as a residential structure, the building inspector would need to be consulted as to what would be required to change the use of the barn.

Mr. Janssen stated that the barn is in very good condition with concrete floors, new steel walls, new overhead door with an electric opener and a new side door.

Mr. Church stated that a 100-foot rear setback is more than necessary, creating 80-feet of land that could be useful instead of wasteful. He also had concerns about the next owner being completely aware of the classification of the barn – that it is an agricultural building.

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

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


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

1.   Strict compliance would be unnecessarily burdensome in that the setback is large for the agricultural zone and this property is proposed to be a residential use.

2.   Granting this variance would do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the district in that 20-feet is a good distance. It is not unreasonable.  If this were a residential accessory building it would be allowed to be within five feet of the rear yard property line.

3.   The plight of the property owner is due to the original placement of the structure on this site and the current proposed property line placement.

4.   The situation is self-created to a degree. But the proposed lot size is consistent with nearby homes created prior to 1976 and the Township’s 5-acre lot minimum within the Agriculture zoning district. Further, this lot would be allowed to be less than 5 acres today due to it being the first lot in this quarter section to utilize section 15.A note 10.

** It was moved by Mr. Boersma and supported by Mr. Swartz to grant this request subject to the stipulation that so long as the building stands any potential buyers are informed that the building is for agricultural use only.  Motion carried.

The minutes of September 26, 2017 and the Special Meeting of October 12, 2017 were approved as written.

The meeting adjourned at 6:31 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Laurie Slater

Recording Secretary


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