Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

17 January 2006

7:00 p.m.



I.                     CALL MEETING TO ORDER


The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman David Okum.


II.                   ROLL CALL


Members Present:             Robert Emerson, William Reichert, James Squires, Robert Weidlich, Jane Huber and Chairman Okum


Members Absent:              Marjorie Pollitt


Others Present:                  Richard Lohbeck, Inspection Supervisor


Mr. Okum reported that Mrs. Pollitt is in Washington D.C. on business.  We also want to welcome Bill Reichert to the board.  He is a long time resident and we welcome his input and involvement with the board. 


III.                  PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE




Mrs. Huber reported Mr. Swain should be McSwain and the name of the vice president of John Morrell was not complete.  Mrs. Huber moved that the corrected minutes be approved and Mr. Squires seconded the motion.   All present voted aye, and the Minutes were approved with six affirmative votes.


V.                 CORRESPONDENCE


A.          Zoning Bulletin – December 10, 2005

B.          Zoning Bulletin – December 24, 2005

C.          Zoning Bulletin Index – January – December 2005

D.          Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – December 13, 2005


VI.               REPORTS


A.          Report on Council


Mr. Squires reported I have the same report I had in December. 

Mrs. Huber asked if there was any more news on a prospective grocery where Thriftway had been, and Mr. Squires reported that

There was no movement on that over the holidays but Phillips Edison is supposed to get back to that with the people representing IGA.


B.          Report on Planning Commission


Mr. Okum reported on the January 10th meeting.  We had approval of the elevation changes at 11345 Century Circle West.  They are updating the building and we approved it.  Approval of the development plan for Westminster Cottages at 11199 Springfield Pike.  Planning approved this with conditions and one was the setback variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals, and this is on our agenda tonight.  




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Mr. Okum reported that Church of the Nazarene requested approval of their parking lot addition at 11177 Springfield Pike.   Partly because of the Westminster Cottages, they are losing some of that parking facility and needed to add additional parking towards Springfield Pike.  With lowering of the lighting, they received approval.   Mallard Lakes requested approval of two signs with a total height of 31 feet and the applicant requested it be tabled because only six members were present and approval requires five affirmative votes and also more information was needed from the applicant.  Approval of the final preliminary development plan for Tri-County Mall redevelopment was granted.  They continue to work on the final plan for presentation.






IX.               NEW BUSINESS


A.          Southwestern Ohio Senior Services requests a variance to construct cottages 50 feet from the Springfield Pike right of way.  Said variance is requested from Section 153.424(D)(1)(a) of the Zoning Code, “(1) Yard requirements: (a) Front: 100’ building…”


Jim Obert of the Great Traditions Land and Development Company introduced Jim Formal, President of Lifesphere and Ken Huff their CFO.


The project is the removal of the existing senior center and the addition of 22 new cottages.  The existing 21 cottages at the far west end of the parcel will remain. 


To have the required 100-foot setback would mean removing this whole building and one or two units from this building, which would  make it an unfeasible project.  So we are requesting a variance to this.


At last week’s Planning Commission meeting, the discussion  centered on the buffer along Springfield Pike.  We complied with all of the landscaping requirements, give or take one or two that have been revised, within the 100-foot strip.  We were asked to look to see what else we could do before we came to this meeting.  So last week I talked to Anne McBride, and she put me in contact with her landscape architect.  A letter from Anne has been distributed to the board and here is a revised landscape plan (passed it around the board members) 


Mr. Obert continued we had two requests last week.   The first was to screen the air conditioning units on the back of the buildings, and we have put additional landscaping there and it will be used throughout the site. 


The other request was to add more trees along Route 4.  In discussions with the landscape architect and Ms. McBride, we already had trees on approximately 15 to 20 foot centers in that corridor, that 50-foot area so the trees were already tight.


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Mr. Obert added our remedy for that was to add some understory canopies to that area.  Along Springfield Pike underneath these trees there is existing mounding and we would be incorporating                                                                 viburnums, service berry and flowering crabapples.  You would have the tree canopy, the evergreen trees, the tree canopy of the shade trees and below that there would be some lower growing plant materials predominantly used to screen patio and deck areas for the units, and the predominant line along Springfield Pike.


We believe that fulfills the intent of the 100-foot buffer by screening those residences from Springfield Pike and Springfield Pike from those residents.  We have tried to comply with the city consultants’ recommendations to fulfill those obligations.  I think that pretty much addresses the specific comments that Planning Commission asked of us last week.


The average resident in this portion of Mapleknoll is in their 70’s and 80’s, and the goal is to create some new housing types that will attract the younger (60’s and 70’s) residents to the community. 


Mr. Lohbeck reported this property is in a Public Facilities – Medium Density Zoning District and is also located in SubArea D of the Springdale Route 4 Corridor Review District. Under Section 153.424 (D)(1)(a) of the Corridor District requirements, the minimum front yard setback must be 100 feet. 


The applicant is proposing to demolish the existing senior center building on the property, and construct 22 new cottages.  The applicant wishes to construct two of the proposed buildings (six units) within the required setback, maintaining a minimum 50-foot setback.  The setback of the existing senior center building is approximately 85 feet.


There are currently 21 buildings fronting on State Route 4 in SubArea D of the Corridor District.  Fourteen of those do not meet the 100-foot front yard setback.  All of these are legal non-conforming in that they existed prior to the adoption of the corridor standards in 1991.  No variances have been granted for front yard setbacks in Subarea D since then.


Mr. Okum said we also have a letter dated January 13, 2006 from Anne McBride our city planner.  I understand all the board members and the applicant have received it and we’ll incorporate this into this hearing.  If anyone in the public would like to see those recommendations, they are welcome to request a copy when they come to the podium.


Mr. Okum opened the public hearing.


Mr. Ewald Walken of 361 Naylor Court was sworn in by the chairman.  Mr. Walken said I have one simple question.  Will this setback interfere with the eventually widening of Route 4 to four lanes? 





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Mr. Okum said I believe we have a real wide right of way line along there.  Mr. Obert added it appears that there is 45 feet from the center line of the existing pavement to the right of way line, and including the other side, the existing part of Mapleknoll, 90 feet should be adequate for a four-lane roadway section.


Jim Upson, 11268 Springfield Pike said the construction of buildings within that 50 foot right of way will significantly alter the visual impact of that area.  You have done a very good job of removing obstacles along the highway through the Springdale business section so you have created a boulevard type of impression on Springfield Pike.  From Crescentville south to Sharon Road, you have a nice wide boulevard without encroachment.   If you allow these buildings to be built, there will be the feeling of encroachment at that intersection.  With the addition of more residences, that intersection will be busier and more cars will be stopped waiting, and call more attention to that encroachment.  I would hope you would maintain the open boulevard visual effect through Springdale.


Mr. Okum asked Mr. Upson if he would like the applicant to respond to his comments.  Mr. Upson responded they were to express my feelings of what the change would do to Springfield Pike, both in appearance and the actuality of the additional traffic. 


Mr. Obert said the one comment I could make is that many of those businesses in that corridor have parking in front of the building.  So, while the building may be set back 100 feet, you have parking lots and so on within that setback requirement.  The office complex immediately north of this site has that.  I think the trees we are promoting here go a long way to give this gentleman his green corridor.   With the number of trees and the landscaping, I think that will be maintained and actually embellished more so than if the buildings were flipped around and parking and driveways were put on the front sides of the buildings.  So I think that pretty much is a way of addressing that.


We have done a traffic study for this site and when this project is done, during the peak traffic hour the traffic coming in and out of this location will be less than it is today with the current senior center. 


No one else came forward, and Mr. Okum closed the public hearing.


Mr. Okum said we need a motion for approval, and I would like incorporated in the motion and address.  I think the address is 11199 Springfield Pike.  Mr. Lohbeck confirmed this.


Mr. Squires moved to approve the request of Southwestern Ohio Senior Services for their property at 11199 Springfield Pike requesting a reduced setback of 50’ from the Springfield Pike right of way line with the revised landscape plan as presented showing the screening of HVAC units to the rear of the new buildings with additional shrubs with tree canopy to buffer Springfield Pike.   Mrs. Huber seconded the motion.


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Mr. Weidlich asked how high the mounding would be toward the street. Mr. Obert answered it varies in height; I believe it is three to four foot high because of the right of way section, and we are working with the city engineer on sidewalks along Route 4.  We have a limited space, plus there are a number of existing trees that we will be preserving in that corridor and we are working around those.  Mr. Weidlich commented that would help buffer the buildings from the noise and also give a little shielding from the road.


Mr. Okum said Mr. Upson brought up the issue of the potential for the buildings being further back from the street.  That is a sensitive issue, and the Corridor Review District recommendation was to widen it out to give it openness.  According to staff’s report, since 1991 we have had no variance requests for front yard setbacks along the site.   


Potentially you could have flipped this the opposite way is what you were saying  Mr. Obert answered I don’t know if it would work with these buildings because of the courtyard nature of what we are trying to do, to create a community where everybody’s front door is toward the center.  If this were any other use, or another product, conceivably the building could have set back and we would have parking where the building is now shown.  I don’t know if that would be an improvement.  A 100-foot setback is not the end and means; it depends on what you allow in the 100-foot setback. 


We believe our proposal is better because you have a fixed wall of a building, and within the 50-foot setback that is remaining, there is a heavy amount of landscaping that goes to the intent of what the corridor plan was trying to do, to improve the overall general appearance and feel of Springfield Pike.


From the audience, Mr. Upson asked how far back the mounds begin.  The idea is to keep Springfield Pike open visually. 


Mr. Okum said Mr. Upson has asked how far back the mounds are to be held back from the drive area.  I believe there is a sidewalk area first.


Mr. Obert confirmed this, adding that there is a 45-foot half right of way along this section of Springfield Pike so we have 50 feet from that right of way line to the buildings.  That is where that mounding will occur.  It will be in the neighborhood of 20 feet beyond back of curb. 


Mr. Upson asked how far back the mounding would be from the existing sidewalk, and Mr. Obert answered it would be close in some areas.  Mr. Okum added the sidewalk goes only to the bus stop now and there is a long term city plan to extend the sidewalk down further.  From the bus shelter south down to the Church of the Nazarene, the applicant will pay for the sidewalk cost.  Mrs. Huber wondered if in the foreseeable future Route 4 would be widened.  Mr. Squires reported that there has not been any discussion about that in Council.  Mr. Lohbeck indicated that no plans have been discussed. 


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Mr. Obert said typical roadway lane widths are 11 to 12 feet so a four lane road section would be somewhere between 44 and 48 feet.  We already  have 75 feet of right of way here and potentially more right of way on the other side of the street, so with the right of ways here, there probably is ample room.  Should the City decide they want to rebuild Route 4 and do a true boulevard with tree line down the middle, etc., there would be ample room to do that with the proper engineering.


Mr. Okum said the landscaping exhibit has not been reviewed by our city planner. If we were to grant the motion, we would be approving that plan.  I would prefer that we consider amending the motion to have staff review and approve the final landscape plan.  I am a little concerned if we approved a plan that staff ha had no opportunity to review.  I’ll entertain a motion to amend the original motion to make the exhibit submitted by the applicant (landscape plan) conditional upon staff review and approval of that plan.


Mr. Squires so moved and Mr. Weidlich seconded the motion.  All present voted aye, and the motion was so amended.


Mr. Okum said I would encourage the board to incorporate into the motion Ms. McBride’s recommendations, Items 1 through 5.


Mr. Squires so moved to amend the motion to include items 1 through 5 of the January 13, 2006 letter.  Mr. Reichert seconded the motion.  On the motion to amend, all present voted aye, and the motion was so amended. 


Mr. Okum said I appreciate the comments from the residents who have come here asking questions and presenting information on this.  I have a lot of the same feelings that Mr. Upson does about the boulevard and openness that was intended by the Corridor Review District recommendations. 


In this case it is a very unique development.  I think they have accelerated the amount of landscaping in the area to remedy some of the encroachment.  I also understand that, considering the community effect they are trying to create, to reverse the buildings to meet the setback requirement would be a negative for that development, not a positive. 


Therefore, I see the plan based on what Planning Commission approved and with the landscape plan as finalized and approved by staff to be an enhancement to the development.  I too would have liked to have seen it back further, but on the other hand they have met the spirit of the requirement with the original landscaping, and I believe they have presented evidence that their intent is to enhance that separation to create that buffer zone for those residences.  So, I will be voting in favor of the requested variance.


On the amended motion, Mr. Squires, Mr. Weidlich, Mr. Reichert, Mr. Emerson and Mr. Okum voted aye.  Mrs. Huber voted no, and the variance was granted with five affirmative and one negative votes. 



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X.                 DISCUSSION


XI.               ADJOURNMENT


Mr. Squires moved to adjourn and Mrs. Huber seconded the motion.  All present voted aye and the Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 7:42 p.m.


                                                                     Respectfully submitted,




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                                                                     David Okum, Chairman




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                                                                     Jane Huber, Secretary