Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

16 August 2005



I.                     CALL MEETING TO ORDER


The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. by Chairman David Okum.


II.                   ROLL CALL


Members Present:             Fred Borden, Robert Emerson, Marjorie Pollitt,

                                             Jim Squires, Bob Weidlich, Jane Huber and

                                             Chairman Okum


Others Present:                  Richard G. Lohbeck, Inspection Supervisor


III.                  PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE




Mrs. Huber moved for adoption and Mr. Squires seconded the motion.  By voice vote, all voted aye, and the Minutes were adopted unanimously.


V.                 CORRESPONDENCE


A.          Zoning Bulletin – May 10, 2005

B.          Zoning Bulletin – May 25, 2005

C.          Zoning Bulletin – June 10, 2005

D.          Zoning Bulletin – June 25, 2005

E.          Zoning Bulletin – July 10, 2005

F.           Zoning Bulletin – July 25, 2005

G.          Ordinance No. 22-2005 Amending Section 153.480 of the Zoning Code Regulating Parking and Storage of Vehicles and Equipment in Residential Districts

H.          Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – May 10, 2005

I.              Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – July 13, 2005


VI.               REPORTS


A.          Report on Council Activities – no report


B.          Report on Planning Commission


Mr. Okum reported on the meeting of August 9th.  Our first item was exterior alterations to the former Bings.  There was no representation for the second time, and the item was dropped from the agenda.  Kemper Square landscaping plan at 1311-1313 East Kemper Road was tabled to the next meeting at the request of the applicant.  Glenmary Home Missioners are asking for an alternate driveway location.  They have aging residents and are having difficulty getting in and out off Route 4.   They looked at Yorkhaven Road and Ray Norrish Drive, and are requesting it be off Yorkhaven.  After a lot of discussion they will look at it again.  Planning overall said they preferred Ray Norrish Drive and the item was tabled to September.  The applicant requested a reduction in the plantings at Kemper Pond; they still are well over the requirement, and Planning approved this.  The exterior changes to Crazy Buffet (former ChiChi’s) was considered with the help of an interpreter and approval was granted. 





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Mr. Okum commented that Council might consider the question of interpreters.  Obviously we can’t have an interpreter for each language.  Mr. Emerson said that there is a phone service where you can dial for an interpreter.  Mr. Okum said that might be something we should look at for the City. 






IX.               NEW BUSINESS


A.          Variance to approve 13 additional parking spaces for 171 Container Place, an impervious surface ratio of 0.75.   Variance is requested from Section 153.269 “Uses in the GI District shall not exceed an impervious surface ratio of 0.70”


Stanley Cohen said I built this building in 1972.  It has been very successful and has very nice tenants.  The property is maintained in a very satisfactory manner.  I am going to let Mr. Smith who is president of Agape Instrument Services tell you about their company but in the short time that he has occupied this building, his business has been very successful.  They repair and maintain hospital testing equipment.


I have some photographs that I would like to distribute to you; one set is for you to keep. 


We have a copy of the staff report and item #2, the parking stalls are required to be 19 feet deep with a 24’ access aisle which would make it 43 feet total. 


I brought 10 sets of the revised drawing indicating that we have changed the width of that space to 43 feet.  We do maintain a minimum 10 foot side yard around three sides and the fourth side is about 13 feet.  There was one other item indicating an additional section of 4’ x 30’ of paving.  We have eliminated that and changed these four spaces to three, one handicap and two additional spaces.  He passed out the revised drawings.  This makes the impervious surface ratio about .745 instead of .the required .70.


We really need to be able to do this.  Mr. Smith called me and informed me that he needed more parking area because he would be hiring more people. 


If you look at the photographs, number 1 is the picture of the front of the building and indicates that it has been very nicely maintained and kept up all these years.  Number 3 shows a front view closer up and this area where the handicap space will be located.   You can see the building’s very bright fresh new conditions,  nicely landscaped.


With picture #4 you get into the meat of this.  This is the rear area behind the building where the parking lot would be.  It would be 10 feet from that property line and you’ll notice there are a couple of trees back there now.


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Mr. Cohen reported picture #5 indicates the adjacent property.  This area is not being cut; it is about 30 inches high where our area is kept maintained all the time.


Item #4 in the staff report indicated that they wanted to put some planters in that area, some shrubs and we really feel this would create a hardship for the cost of this project.  There are all light industrial buildings around us.  Here is a picture of the building that is to the southeast of us.  You can see the heavy grassy area, and this building which I built in 1966.   


Picture #7 indicates a view over to the McSwain building, which I also built.  It has been in the last few years that they have taken care of their place and kept it in nice shape. Picture #8 shows the grassy area on that part.


Picture #10 shows the Sun Chemical Company building.  Over the years they have put an addition on it and you can see that the front side of that building has trucking and dumpsters and things of that nature.  They do keep it clean now.


What we are respectfully asking the board is to have a variance to not have to put these bushes in there.  They would be difficult to maintain and we don’t see that they would add anything to the beauty of the property.  And I really don’t know where we would put them. 


Jeffrey A. Smith President of Agape Instrument Services said our company started in Springdale in 1980 out of our founder’s house on Yorkhaven Road.  In 1993 we had to move because we outgrew his house and we moved to West Chester with four employees.


We have had a very successful business since then, and on December 1, 2004 we moved back to Springdale with 15 employees. 


We worked with Jeff Tulloch the economic development director of the City and were able to find this property, which is an 8,000 s.f. building and suits our needs very well.  It is a great location.


To tell you a little bit about our business, we work on hospital and laboratory equipment.  Ninety-nine percent of our work is done in the field.  We also work on clean air medical devices, which are located in research institutes and pharmaceutical manufacturers. I do require all our employees to come into the office and get a service vehicle.  With only 21 spaces and seven service vehicles and 20 employees, you can see that we already have run out of parking.  We service a five-state area and the interstate system right there is perfect.  All our service technicians are accredited to the National Sanitation Foundation








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Mr. Smith stated we are seeking this parking so we can utilize this building for our future needs.  We have gained five employees since December and now have 20 employees.   We have had a really good growth spurt of 20% over the last five years.  Since 9/11 our industry has grown by leaps and bounds and it has created new markets for our services.   I have a lease with an option to buy, and this parking is needed so I can pursue that opportunity in the future.


Mr. Lohbeck reported that the applicant is proposing to construct 13 new parking spaces with associated drive aisles at the rear of his property at 171 Container Place.  The proposed parking area will cause the impervious surface ratio to exceed the maximum .70 permitted by 153.269 of the Zoning Code.


Item 2 Section 153.502 of the Zoning Code requires parking stalls to be 19 feet deep with a 24-foot access aisle, 43 feet total.  Drawings show a total dimension of 42 feet which will need to be revised.


This additional area and a 4’ x 30’ section of sidewalk and wood ramp omitted from the applicant’s calculations result in a proposed impervious surface ratio of .75.


The city engineer has been forwarded a copy of the drawings to review storm drainage.


Section 153.608 requires buffer yards where parking areas abut property lines.  The buffer yard requirement for the expanded parking area is shrubs at 3’ on center and seven trees.


Because this property is surrounded by industrial use, the board may want to consider allowing the applicant to distribute the buffering plants on other areas of the site because existing landscape is sparse.


Mr. Okum opened the public hearing.  N o one came forward and he closed the public hearing.


Mr. Okum stated the motion to approve would be based on the packet that was submitted.  Later we would do a motion to amend to include the revised exhibit that was presented by Mr. Cohen this evening.


Mr. Squires moved to approve the original request.  Mr. Borden seconded the motion.


Mr. Squires said as a result of the new drawings, your proposed impervious surface ratio is not .75; you said it was .74 or something like that?  Mr. Cohen responded it is in that range; it is a very small amount.


Mr. Okum asked about the pro-wood ramp material handling.  Mr. Cohen responded that their equipment is so valuable that they move it at night, and Mr. Smith wants that little ramp to assist them.  It probably will be five feet wide.



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Mr. Okum asked where the dumpster would be and Mr. Smith reported right now it is next to the loading dock at the end of the paving. 


Mr. Okum said my understanding from your testimony is that you want the board to waive your requirement for the three-foot on center shrubs and seven trees.  Mr. Cohen answered yes.  If it was new construction, I certainly would do whatever the code required, but the Zoning Code in Springdale was changed some time around the mid-1970’s.   By that time we had built half the buildings and we had to ask for special dispensation for this area.  When we were building these buildings, there was almost nothing in Springdale. 


We have done a lot of work in Springdale, and we think our buildings are a very nice quality, but there has been a tremendous change in the landscaping requirements.  In this case, based on the buildings around us, I don’t think we would gain anything aesthetically by putting some bushes around there.  They would have to maintain them and it would be very difficult.  The other problem is that we are trying to get this done as inexpensively as possible.


Mr. Okum responded I understand and am sympathetic to that.  On the other hand, the reason that the zoning Code was written the way it was, and this part of the Zoning Code applies to industrial sites, is to help bring about some change in that area. 


If the business next to you that is not maintained were to bring a development to this board or to Planning Commission, they would be asking those same things of that development. It creates a domino theory of some improvement and betterment to the entire area. Instead of continually getting worse, the intent is that it continually get a little better.    I think that is why staff’s recommendation was to do something on your site, versus putting it in the back which wouldn’t help a lot.


Mr. Smith said the property in back of us that borders the end of our property line is not developed at this time.  It is a square piece of property that is owned by an owner who is not occupying any of the buildings surrounding it.  So it is pretty much landlocked as it is right now unless they get an easement in the future.  It is overgrown and not taken care of as you can see in the pictures.  That is where our parking would butt up to.


Mr. Okum said staff’s recommendation was instead of pushing the buffer yard requirement to that area in the back, that it be placed somewhere else on your site to give some beautification to your own site.


Mr. Cohen added the only problem we have over there is at the time this parking lot was built, it was within a foot of the property line on the east side facing the Sun Chemical building. 






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Mr. Okum asked if he had requested any variances in the past, and Mr. Cohen answered that the previous tenant at one time wanted to expand the building.   If we followed the new code with the 50-foot side yard requirement we wouldn’t have been able to do it at all. Our contention was that somewhere in the records we were given a special dispensation because we would not have been able to build any of these buildings the way they are.  The whole site would have been entirely different. 


This probably was the first light industrial area in Springdale.  They wouldn’t let us do it and later on it worked out fine.  They were very good tenants, wonderful people but had to leave and Mr. Smith and his group took the building over.


Addressing Mr. Smith, Mr. Okum said I am sure you are looking at a long term stay.  When you read staff’s comments, was there any remedy you came up with for the recommendations?


Mr. Smith answered no, not due to the space that we have to work with and the parking we need.  All our work is done in the field, so we only probably have six people in the office on a day to day basis. 

Everybody else clocks in does their work and reports back, so we have two sets of vehicles per person.  So, parking is a real issue, and I don’t really have any alternative plans at this time.


Mr. Okum asked if he could plant a couple of trees in the front of the property.  Mr. Smith said there are already trees there that the city has put up.  Mr. Okum responded that is a part of the streetscape program.  Mr. Cohen asked if he wanted the trees in that little lawn in the front.  Mr. Okum answered that is what I was thinking about when I asked if you had any suggestions to remedy the situation.  Mr. Smith stated we would be glad to put trees in the front if that would suit the board. 


Mr. Okum again asked Mr. Smith his remedy to offset the buffer yard requirement.  Mr. Smith responded I would be glad to put in several trees in the front on both sides of the drive.  There is a small patch of lawn in front of the front door and a stone installed so the trucks will not dig into the property as they leave.   I could put a couple of trees there, and trees in the front.


Mr. Okum commented we would have to keep you on your property, and staff could help you with that so you are not in the public right of way. 


Mr. Cohen suggested putting a row of shrubs behind this front parking area and one or two trees in front.  I would be glad to provide a letter, write it tomorrow and fax it over to Mr. McErlane’s office that we would be glad to do that. 


Addressing Mr. Cohen, Mr. Okum said so your recommendation is a row of shrubs and a couple of 2 ½ inch caliper trees.  Mr. Cohen responded hawthorns or something that will look nice.  Mr. Okum answered it should look nice and maybe have some color in the fall.




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Mr. Smith said I am not a tree specialist but I will try to get something similar to the city trees on the street.  Mr. Cohen added we could put shrubs along the visitors parking on three-foot centers and then put a couple of trees into the lawn area here.  I would be agreeable to that.  Mr. Okum asked if 2 ½ inch caliper would be okay, and Mr. Cohen said it would be.


Mr. Smith added our property is maintained by Ground Masters.  They do a fine job and keep our property looking very nice. 


Mr. Squires said you are saying you would rather do the shrubs and two to three trees about 2 ½ caliper inches rather than the other request which was several trees on the front and both sides of your driveway. 


Mr. Smith responded I would much rather do the proposal that Stan presented with the shrubs in the visitors spots and the two 2 ½ inch caliper trees.  As you can see in the pictures, it is as very small piece of greenery in the front.


Mrs. Pollitt commented looking at that, you want to be careful about putting trees in the front because of hindering the vision coming out of the driveway and also where your sign is located.  We wouldn’t want your sign blocked by these trees.  Mr. Cohen responded they would be over here in this grassy area.


Mr. Okum said I think what you have offered is very tasteful and will certainly help.  Mr. Borden asked if there were any plans to expand the building.  Mr. Cohen answered no.  We would not be able to do that.  This is an ideal size for his operation.


Mr. Smith added with the way our business operates, I do not anticipate that we will run out of building space within the next five years, even with hiring new people.    As I said, 99% of our work is done in the field.  We do warehouse some parts that we use and have a nice place where we can bring our equipment in at night so it is not left in the vans for possible burglaries.


Addressing Mr. Cohen, Mr. Okum said for purposes of the record, we are going to replace the August 4th site plan with your revised August 15th site plan and call it Exhibit 1.  Your photos will be Exhibit 2 and both will stay with the file. 


Mr. Squires said I would move to amend the original motion that will allow the total area of the parking space to be 43 feet and that the applicant will plant a row of shrubs and two to three trees of 2 ½ caliper inches in front of the building.   Mr. Okum suggested referencing Exhibit 1 instead of the 43 feet.   Mr. Squires said that is fine as long as the record will show it 43 feet.  Mr. Okum said the record will show the 43 feet incorporated into Exhibit 1.   Mrs. Huber seconded the motion.


Mr. Okum commented based on the fact that the property to the rear of this site is land locked, the buffer yard requirement would be less of an impact, and the applicant has offered a resolution to better improve the site, so I will be supporting the motion.


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On the motion to amend, all voted aye, and it was adopted unanimously.


On the amended motion, all voted aye, and the 13 additional parking spaces was approved unanimously. 


Mr. Okum said you understand the requirements of the motion.  Mr. Cohen said yes, I will put some shrubs on here and show two trees and send a copy of that to Bill McErlane.


X.                 DISCUSSION


XI.               ADJOURNMENT


Mr. Weidlich moved to adjourn.  All voted aye, and the Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 7:47 p.m.


                                                                     Respectfully submitted,




_______________________,2005       __________________________

                                                                     David Okum, Chairman




_______________________,2005       __________________________

                                                                     Jane Huber, Secretary