Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

15 August 2006

7:00 p.m.



I.                     CALL MEETING TO ORDER


The meeting was called to order at 7:04 p.m. by Chairman Dave Okum.


II.                   ROLL CALL


Members Present:              Robert Weidlich, Bill Reichert, James Squires, Marjorie Harlow, Jane Huber, Bob Emerson and Chairman Okum


Others Present:                   Bill McErlane, Building Official


III.                  PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE




Mrs. Huber moved for approval and Mr. Emerson seconded the motion.  By voice vote, all voted aye and the Minutes were approved unanimously.


V.                 CORRESPONDENCE


A.            Zoning Bulletin – July 10, 2006

B.            Zoning Bulletin – July 25, 2006

C.            Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – July 11, 2006

D.            Letter to Russell Zugg, owner of property at 671 East Crescentville Road.


VI.               REPORTS


A.            Report on Council – Jim Squires


Mr. Squires reported that Council granted $10M revenue bonds for Pictoria Island.  It is through the Port Authority and the City of Springdale is not liable.  Council also agreed to allow Greenhills to use our jail and the ODOT agreement for paving on Route 4 from Glensprings to Crescentville was granted.


B.            Report on Planning Commission – Dave Okum


Mr. Okum reported on the one item considered by Planning, the final approval of Chick Fil-A.  Staff was impressed by the presentation and the way they addressed all the issues and unanimously approved it.






A.            Approval of variance to allow conversion of a garage into a family room at 671 East Crescentville Road.  Said variance is requested from Section 153.105(B) “A single two-car garage and related parking area is required.”  (tabled 7/18/06)


Russell Zugg, owner of the property said I was doing remodeling of the house and the front garage door was broken.  We were putting a new door in when the inspector stopped and said we couldn’t do this because a garage is required.



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Mr. Zugg added I purchased the house nine to 10 years ago and the garage already was a family room.  I have submitted pictures showing how old the inside of the family room was before it were finished off.  Mr. Okum stated the applicant has provided us with five Polaroid photos with descriptions on the bottom.


Mr. McErlane reported that the applicant is requesting to convert the existing garage.  It had been mostly converted about 10 years ago, and the Zoning Code requires a garage per dwelling unit, and today it requires a two-car garage per dwelling unit. 


Prior to this work, there was a garage door at the front of the house so it was not apparent that there was a living space behind that.  We searched our records and found that no variance was previously granted, and we will need to issue permits if this board grants this variance.


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


Mr. Squires moved to grant the variance and Mrs. Huber seconded the motion.


Mr. Squires asked how many vehicles would be at the residence.  Mr. Zugg reported that it is a rental and I installed a concrete turnaround so there is more room to park.  Three vehicles can fit on the driveway easily.


Mr. Okum said there is a right of way easement that runs across the front of your property, and if Crescentvile Road were widened along the front, it could encroach into that green space, so you probably would not be able to get the three cars parked there.  Mr. Zugg answered it would be snug, but three would fit in there.


Mr. Okum said there are some variances within the Heritage Hill District and The Terrace that allow this type of conversion.  In addition to that, there have been required spaces allowed for storage where the garage was left in place.  There have been conditions that would require the elevations being altered to rebrick the space so that it wouldn’t look like a garage door and there have been some denials to such variances.  Most of the time as long as the applicant has shown enough area to accommodate parking, the variance was granted.  There would be a practical difficulty here in making this the two-car garage required by the present Zoning Code.


Addressing the applicant, Mr. Okum asked if there was a front door, and Mr. Zugg responded that it goes into the storage area and is only about five feet deep. 


Mr. Okum asked about the material to the right and left of the door, and Mr. Zugg reported that it is vinyl siding.  Mr. Okum wondered if there were something he would like to do to mitigate the look of that.  Mr. Zugg said I thought it was a good idea to match the other siding we placed on the side of the house.



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Mr. Okum asked the applicant if he would b wiling to change the front elevation so that it is not so stark, take out the asphalt and concrete and put in some landscaping.  Mr. Zugg answered we ran a concrete sidewalk to the left and all the way around where there were a few pavers and all the way back to the back patio and into the side entry door. 


On the motion to grant the variance, six members voted aye, and Mr. Okum voted no.  The variance was granted by a vote of 6 to 1.


IX.               NEW BUSINESS


A.            Approval of variance to allow the placement of a swimming pool 11 feet from the property line at 979 Pilgrim Place.  Said variance is requested from Section 153.488(C) (1) “..shall be located 15 feet from the rear or side lot line.”


William Stover approached the board, stating that the swimming pool is 11 feet from the fence.  If I had it further way from the fence on the right side, the pool would be on my back patio.  I do not have any other level ground in my back yard at all.  My neighbor is five feet above mine so the pool could not damage his property whatsoever.


Mr. McErlane reported we distributed a certain number of photos, and if you look at the second page attached to my comments, there is a cross hatched area where he could place a pool and be in compliance.   Due to the shape of the yard, there are very limited locations.   One would require the removal of a tree or put the pool in the shade of the trees.


There are topographical issues as well.  His neighbor to the north’s property slopes down and his property slopes up so there are limitations on the lot.  We have no record of any other variance granted to this property.


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


Mr. Weidlich moved to grant the variance and Mr. Reichert seconded the motion.


Mr. Okum said based on the information I was given, it appears that there is no other practical way you could conform to the code.  So there is a practical difficulty, and I will be supporting the variance on that basis.


On the motion to grant the variance, all voted aye, and the variance was granted unanimously.


On the motion to grant the variance, all voted aye and the variance was granted with seven affirmative votes.






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B.  Approval of variance to allow the construction of a 30’ x 60’ garage structure at 288 West Kemper Road.  Aid variance is requested from Section 153.075(B) “..the garage shall have..a maximum floor area of 700 s.f.”


Andy Bremanis approached the board with 15 pictures of the forested area on his property.  Mr. Bremanis added I know that 1800 square feet. is large, but I do have two cars that need to go in there.  Also my daughter will be driving next year and I will need a spot for her car.  So, for my lawn care business I will need 1,100 square feet.


My neighbor (Louise Flynn) wrote a note indicating that this size garage did not bother her.


Mr. McErlane reported that based on the total square footage, the maximum area of the garage permitted to be used for home occupations would be 840 s.f.  Ms. Webb looked up the previous variances and they ranged from 864 s.f. to 1,280 s.f. and they go back as far as 14 years ago.


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


Mrs. Huber moved to grant the variance and Mr. Squires seconded the motion. 


Addressing the applicant, Mr. Squires said your lot is 388 feet deep.  How wide is it?  Mr. Bremanis answered it is at least 75 feet wide.  Mr. Reichert stated it is .65 acre or 2/3rds of an acre.


Mrs. Harlow said I am not sure the auditor’s page has that second piece of property in the back, because it is on a separate registered deed.  Mr. Okum commented so there is at least an extra 15 feet of property.  He asked the applicant if the property depth was 388 feet.  Mr. Bremanis answered if not further; I was thinking it was closer to one acre. 


Mr. Emerson said they dispatch employees.  How many pieces of equipment at 7 a.m. will be taken in and out overall?


Mr. Bremanis responded it should be after 8 a.m.  There are two trucks and two trailers.  The trucks will be driven home.  There are three riding mowers and three walk behinds.  They will be in, load up and out and back at the end of the day.


Mr. Okum asked if that was consistent with what the code requires for home occupations.  Mr. McErlane reported that it is not.    He added the home occupation section of the code says that only persons who live at the address can work in the business.  It does not include other employees coming to the house for any other reason.


Mr. Bremanis stated this is just for storage; we will not be working in the back.  Mr. McErlane reported the specific wording says that only residents can participate in the business.



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30 X 60’ GARAGE AT 288 WEST KEMPER ROAD - continued


Mr. McErlane added we have had people who dispatched employees to other areas.  Then we have had one business owner who had vans and employees coming and loading up and going to the job site, and that was not acceptable.  It specifically says that only residents can participate in the business.


Mr. Okum commented those other employees would have to come to pick up the trailers.  Mr. McErlane said so you are saying that he should be asking for a variance to the home occupation section of the code as well.  Mr. Okum responded it appears that way.


Mr. Emerson asked if there were a difference between people being dispatched to go to other sites and customers coming in and out of the house all day?


Mr. Okum answered I don’t think the code as a written for customers to come in and out of the house.  The home occupation portion of the code doesn’t allow that.  But, that is the justification for the reason for the size of the garage that he needs.


Mrs. Harlow said at council we have discussed rezoning in the area for people who do have those extra large lots.  We find it very difficult to hold the people who have that size property to the same size shed as the people on standard sized lots.   This is not a speedy solution to this gentleman’s problem.  It will go to Planning for a recommendation. 


Mrs. Harlow added I also would like to say that there are other home businesses that have received variances that have more traffic than what would be here.  There are people with customers coming to their homes more frequently.  There will not be any customers coming to this house.  There are other businesses that have been granted conditional variances, and this is something we need to look at as well.


Mrs. Huber said I know that I am partially deaf, but didn’t Richard Lohbeck tell us that this was a viable business for a home business?  Now we are saying that it isn’t.  It makes no sense.  Mr. Bremanis commented he did say that.


Mr. Okum said Mr. Lohbeck did say it was a permitted use, and I believe it is permitted in this district.  The difference is that it states that only residents of the household can participate in the business.


Mr. Okum added Mr. McErlane has indicated that the maximum allowable space for this application is 840 s.f.  Mr. McErlane said that is correct, based on the total aggregate square footage of the house and garage.


Mr. Bremanis added I also have plows that I would want to put inside.  If there is any landscaping you want added I would do that but I think there are plenty of trees to screen it.  I would hate to shrink the size of the garage and leave something outside.





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30 X 60’ GARAGE AT 288 WEST KEMPER ROAD - continued


Mrs. Huber said this is an observation.  Across the street from Mr. Bremanis and me there is a business with backhoes and dump trucks.  There is not a car parked in the garage we allowed the variance for, and he does not live there.  There are boats, cars and trucks on that property.    This is going to be self-contained within the garage, and the only time the doors will be open will be for the men to go to work and bring equipment back. 


Mr. Reichert said are we asking for two variances for the size of the garage  and for the ability for the employees to pick up the equipment?


Mr. Okum said it would be appropriate if this board knew that the application for variance created a situation that would not conform to our Zoning Code.  If he is going to continue to do his business at his home, he would need a variance to the home occupation portion of the code as well as the garage size. 


Mr. Okum added we did not advertise for home business, but that is so dramatically different from the land use and building size.  If you were to be granting a variance for the garage size, I would encourage this board not to grant the variance for home occupation.


Mr. Reichert asked if the board could give permission without advertising.  Mrs. Harlow commented this board can’t hold people whose homes are older to the same standards.  Many of the older homes are legal non-conforming along Kemper Road.   I understand everybody’s dilemma about the home occupation, but I   don’t see how it is different from somebody who owns a photography shop or dog grooming place. 


Addressing the applicant, Mr. Weidlich said you mentioned that nobody would come before 8 a.m.   When would they be dropping off the  equipment?  Mr. Bremanis answered right now they have been getting off at 2 p.m., but usually it would be 4 or 5 p.m, before 6 p.m.  Everyone would be in by dark.  Everything would be inside of that garage.  Where I am renting, I have had trucks broken into and trailers stolen.


Mr. Weidlich said I have been having trouble with the size, but you are giving me more justification this evening.


Mr. Squires asked if it was necessary or wise to include in this variance to state that it should be used for family cars and lawn care equipment by the owner exclusively.


Mr. McErlane responded I think you would have difficulty identifying what is stored in the garage.




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30 X 60’ GARAGE AT 288 WEST KEMPER ROAD - continued


Mr. Squires added a new owner might use the garage to operate a repair facility.   Mr. McErlane reported that auto repair is prohibited under our Zoning Code.


Mr. Okum said we have a situation where we have a resident that makes a generous contribution to his home family and community, has  a significantly oversized parcel of property which is unique to many of the other zoning districts.


Mrs. Harlow added that Council seems agreeable to the fact that we need  to look at this.  I have made this a personal issue for a number of years because this board has constantly been requested to overextend the size of sheds.  My feeling is that it should be based on the size of the parcel, and not the shed. 


Mr. Okum said we have a difficult decision to make tonight.  We are charged to write the Zoning Code, and that is not our job.  It is our job to determine if there is  a practical difficulty according to specific guidelines that Council adopted.  I will admit that this board has breached that limit on a number of occasions.  On some applications, there were good reasons why those four requirements were not met on every occasion. 


In this case none of the three requirements have been met, and that is why I have a problem with this.  Basically we are being asked to rewrite the code.  In my heart I am totally in support of helping this gentleman operate his business, but I have to take the rules and apply them and look for the practical difficulties. 


I understand that it takes time for Council and Planning to act, and this gentleman wants to get this built this year, but 1,800 s.f. is almost double every oversized garage in on this street.


Mr. Okum said I do not believe we are in the position or able to grant this variance.  I would support a change to our code to accommodate this type of request, but I am not going to be voting in favor of it tonight.


Mr. Squires said I do not disagree with your figures.  It is large, but this amounts to only 6% of his total acreage, so it is not a lot.  Even though it is large, it is not without precedent, but it is still a very difficult decision.


Mrs. Harlow said I am familiar with this piece of property from years ago, and I know the garage that was torn down was an oversized two car garage with quite a bit of storage area.  Mr. McErlane reported it looks like it was a little over 600 s.f.


Mr. McErlane reported that the motion does not say anything about pavement to the garage.









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30 X 60’ GARAGE AT 288 WEST KEMPER ROAD – continued


Mr. Okum said at the last hearing the applicant indicated that he was going to use compacted crushed material from the end of the existing driveway to the new garage and have an extended concrete apron in front of the new garage.  Mr. Bremanis said he still would like to do that.


Mr. Okum said if the board wishes to place that condition on the variance, we need a motion to amend.


Mrs. Harlow asked if they should address the home occupation issue.  Mr. Okum responded I would suggest we defer that to the law director.  If we wanted to do a straw vote, that would be fine, but I think it has to be at a separate hearing.


Mrs. Harlow moved to amend the original motion to allow an impervious surface of crushed concrete packed down to go from the end of the existing driveway to the apron of the new garage and a concrete apron.  Mrs. Huber seconded the motion. 


On the amendment, all voted aye.


Mrs. Harlow said if we don’t put something in there about the home occupation, would it be better for the applicant to request a variance for home occupation at a future meeting?


Mr. Okum responded to be legally correct,  it would be proper for the applicant if granted this variance, to request a separate one for the home occupation. 


Addressing the applicant, he said the home occupation portion is not part of the current motion this evening.  It has been discovered that it is necessary.  It has been determined that your home occupation is not what the Code allows, and you will need to apply for a variance. 


Mr. Bremanis asked if the guy across the street has to come here for a variance as well. 


Mr. Okum said our code allows Mr. Bremanis to operate his lawn care business.  The difference is that there are employees arriving and leaving, and that variance needs to be heard separately. 


On the amended motion, voting aye were Mrs. Huber, Mr. Squires, Mr. Emerson, Mrs. Harlow and Mr. Reichert.  Messrs. Weidlich and Okum voted no, and the variance as granted by a vote of 5 to 2.


X.                 DISCUSSION


Mr. Okum asked if everyone would be present at the September meeting, and Mr. Reichert stated that he would be out of town.


Mr. Okum said it would be appreciated if Council wrote a letter requesting that the Code be reviewed in terms of garages and utility buildings on oversized lots. 




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Mrs. Harlow reported that the Mayor said that until the sign committee is finished with their review of the code, there will not be another committee.


XI.               ADJOURNMENT


Mrs. Huber moved to adjourn and the Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 8:40 p.m.


                                                               Respectfully submitted,




______________________,2006    _________________________

                                                                David Okum, Chairman




                        ______________________,2006 __________________________

                                                                                      Jane Huber, Secretary