Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes

18 October 2005

7:00 p.m.



I.                     CALL MEETING TO ORDER


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


II.                   ROLL CALL


Members Present:             Fred Borden, Robert Emerson, Jane Huber,

                                             James Squires, Robert Weidlich and Chairman



Members Absent:              Marjorie Pollitt (ill)


Others Present:                  Richard G. Lohbeck, Inspection Supervisor


III.                  PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE




Mr. Squires moved for adoption and Mr. Borden seconded the motion.  By voice vote all present voted aye, and the Minutes were adopted with six affirmative votes.


V.                 CORRESPONDENCE


A.          Zoning Bulletin – September 10, 2005

B.          Zoning Bulletin – September 25, 2005

C.          Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – September 13, 2005

D.          Planning Partnership Update – September 2005


VI.               REPORTS


A.          Report on Council Activities – Jim Squires


Council passed legislation for property maintenance.  Also there was an ordinance authorizing the purchase of a residence at 703 Yorkhaven Road.  This residence had been in total disrepair and was bringing down the property values of the adjacent properties.  The purchase price was considerably below the assessed value, will fix it up and sell it and we expect to get our investment back, and hopefully a little more.  The important thing is that it is showing the people in that neighborhood that we are going to these lengths to protect their property values.


We also had an ordinance authorizing the purchase of the property at 11649 Springfield Pike, Bings.  It has been closed a long time and is in considerable disrepair and is a key piece of commercial property.  We want to preserve it for redevelopment and eliminate a significant eyesore.  It will be torn down shortly.


We passed an ordinance for $1,250,000 in renewal notes, the money the City borrowed to fix our roads before we had the tax increase.  We can renew that at 3.2% (down from 4.5%) and this will be paid off by this time next year.






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REPORTS - continued


B.          Report on Planning Commission – David Okum


Mr. Okum reported that we approved a revision to the planting plan for Springdale Elementary School, and asked that they move some of the trees around to the Kemper Road side.


We approved the sale of Christmas trees in the Tri-County Mall parking lot as they have in previous years.


Springdale Town Center (from Kemper Road south to Peach Street on the east side) was reviewed.  There were six items to discuss and the project is going forward and will be at the next meeting of Council.  It is a very positive development for the community.


An illuminated awning request by Cingular Wireless was denied due to lack of majority.  The vote was 4 to 2, and five affirmative votes are required.


There was a request from the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission for a nomination, and Planning nominated me.






IX.               NEW BUSINESS


A.          Approval of variance to allow the construction of a utility building 2 feet from the property line at 11846 Ramsdale.  Said variance is requested from Section 153.067(B) “must not be less than 5 feet from any rear or side lot lines.”


John Meyer owner of 11846 Ramsdale Court said I want to replace an existing shed on a concrete slab that has been there for over 35 years.   If I move it anywhere further from the fence line, I would be moving it towards one of my neighbors.  The fence line is on the city park. 


Mr. Lohbeck reported that the applicant is requesting a variance from Section 153.067(B) to allow construction of a 10’ x 10’ metal utility building to be constructed 2 feet from an adjacent property line.


The Zoning Code requires a 5-foot setback from side and rear lot lines.  The applicant did not indicate on his site plan which lot line he wishes to be two feet from.  We assume he is only referring to the east property line based on his sketch and aerial photos of the exiting utility building location.  The proposed setbacks need to be clarified by the applicant.


The applicant has indicated that he wishes to place the proposed utility building in the same location as the existing utility building, which is two feet from the property line.  We have no record of a permit or variance for the existing utility building in our files.




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


Mr. Squires moved to grant the variance and Mr. Borden seconded the motion.


Addressing the applicant, Mr. Squires asked about the shed being there 35 years.  Mr. Meyer answered it was replaced once and Herman Grant was the building inspector.  I asked him if I needed a permit and he told me no, that I was just replacing it.  Mr. Squires said I’m not so sure we needed a permit that many years ago, did we Mr. Lohbeck?  Mr. Lohbeck reported that they did. 


Mr. Squires said both of the property lines back up to Ross Park.  Mr. Meyer added I measured it, and it is 2 ½ feet off the property line on the east side. 


Mr. Okum asked how close the open space of the park is to the shed.  Mr. Meyer responded I have a chain link fence and the back portion of Ross Park is beyond that, on the other side of the creek.


Mr. Okum said so if a child was playing, they would have to go across the creek to get to your area.  I want to make sure that the record shows that there is quite a distance between that and the active area of the park.


Mr. Borden asked the applicant if there were any reason why he couldn’t comply with the code.  Mr. Meyer answered I have the concrete slab there.  Mr. Borden asked if he could put another slab down.  Mr. Meyer said yes, but it would be a lot more expense.  My feeling right now is this was more than what I expected.  I was trying to improve my property by replacing a rusting shed.  As far as I am concerned now, if you don’t want it improved that is fine; I will just leave a rusting shed.  That’s my feeling about it.


Mr. Squires said the reason for the five-foot requirement is for maintenance.  Is 2 ½ feet sufficient for you.  Mr. Meyer answered yes.  There is no grass or weeds growing there and I keep it clean. 


Mr. Okum asked if there were any topography concerns, anything that would need to be removed to conform to the code.  Mr. Meyer responded the ground drops off to the shed so I might have to redo the ground around the shed because of the slope.  Mr. Okum commented you are saying that there is a grade slope that runs toward the shed.  That means that if you were to extend the existing slab to conform to the code, the shed door would cut into the earth.  Mr. Meyer answered possibly; I am not sure.   Mr. Okum said you could put the shed on a slope, but that would be a little unusual. 


Mr. Borden commented if he moved it on top of the slope, that would solve the problem; water couldn’t flow down into the shed.


Addressing the applicant, Mr. Okum asked if he were to move it forward, how deep he would have to cut into the ground.   Mr. Meyer answered probably no more than a foot, maybe less. 


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Mr. Okum commented the practical problem is if he moves it forward he would have to pour a slab and in order to keep the slab level with the grade, he would have to pour slab on top of slab. 


Mr. Borden said the concrete would be higher in the rear.   Mr. Okum added he could utilize the existing concrete as a foundation for a new pad, but in order to get the shed level, it would mean cutting into the earth and pouring a new slab on top of the existing slab to accomplish 2’-6” of movement forward.  Is there any reason why you couldn’t do that?

Mr. Meyer said no.   Mr. Okum commented but you really don’t want to do that.  Mr. Meyer said that is right.  Mr. Okum said the difficulty is that you haven’t presented any true hardship or reason why it couldn’t be done.  Based on the guidelines this board is given for the granting of variances, it makes it very difficult for us to grant a variance when there is nothing that would prohibit you from accomplishing it.


Mr. Meyer responded I will ask this question.  What was the purpose of the ordinance?  It appears to me that it is because of the closeness to the neighbor’s property.  Since this is on the furthest part of my lot, anything I would do would move it towards my neighbors. To me you are actually going against the intent of the original ordinance. 


Mr. Squires said the five feet was for maintenance, to make it easier to get around there. 


Mr. Weidlich asked if he would be able to get a concrete truck in the back yard to do the slab.  Those lots are pretty tight and that would be another concern.  Mr. Borden commented he could have a truck out front and wheelbarrow it to the rear. 


Mr. Okum commented that it would be hard to get a truck to deliver two yards of concrete.  You would have to hand mix it in order to do it.  It is quite a distance because this is in the far corner of his lot.


Mr. Okum said I see the location and the practical application of placing it where it is now.  I see that this resident could easily bring the shed up closer to his home which also would be closer to his neighbor.  In this case, the existing shed is at the furthest point on the property, and the less obstructive location.    For that reason, it makes it very difficult for me to truly follow the guidelines.  I think it is an excessive burden to bring it in when you have to either pour on top of an existing slab, which means the whole side and back side of it will be elevated off the ground. 


I would much rather see it 2 ½ feet from the fence than on the side yard five feet from the fence in the proximity of his neighbors.  Based on that, I will be supporting his request.  It is with reluctance because of the situation.  The only precedent I could find would be that he literally would have to cut into the hill of the slope where the front of the shed would be. 




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Mr. Okum asked if it would be possible to put the shed up closer to the house.  Mr. Meyer answered  it would be visible from the street, and Mr. Okum answered I understand, and for that reason I think I will be supporting the present location because it is at the furthest point on the property and the least affecting of any neighboring properties, so I will be supporting this request.


Mr. Squires moved to amend the original motion to state that the shed will be 2 ½ feet from the east property line.  Mr. Borden seconded the motion.


On the amendment, all present voted aye and the motion was amended.


On the amended motion, all present voted aye except Mr. Borden, who voted no, and the variance was granted with five affirmative votes. 


B.  Approval of six-month extension of temporary banner variance granted at April 2005 meeting.  Said variance was granted to allow a banner on a pole sign and a 50-square-foot sign (or two signs, 25 s.f. each and no more than seven feet in height) at 409 West Kemper Road for a period of six months, and will expire October 19, 2005.  Said variance is requested from Section 153.533(B) (C) & (D) “such signs may be placed only on the inside of windows or doors and on the exterior of buildings.” “..signs may not be posted, tacked or otherwise secured on fences, posts, poles, trees or surfaces other than the main building,” and “..shall in no event exceed two consecutive weeks in duration…”


Steve Decker, representing Phillips Edison & Co. owners of the property said I have here the three questions from the initial variance.  It is relatively the same issue.  Basically we ran out of time and would like to extend that time using the same questionnaire.  It is an extension of that variance and if you have any more questions, I would be glad to answer them. 


Mr. Okum said I never saw the lower sign; it’s not there any more, is it?  Mr. Decker answered that is right; it is no longer there.  The smaller signs are in the windows, but the issue is they were six feet below grade.  Any signs out in front of the pylon sign would be seen, and that is why we are using the pylon sign for the realtors sign.


Mr. Lohbeck reported that the applicant is requesting that the banner affixed to the pole sign on the property remain for an additional six month period.  This request would be until April 19, 2006. 


On April 19, 2005 the Board of Zoning Appeals granted a variance to allow the real estate banner to remain on the existing pole signs and install a 50-square-foot or two 25-square-foot signs for a period of six months.  The applicant removed the sign that was in violation at the time and chose not to install the smaller signs.  However the banner on the pole sign remains.




18 OCTOBER 2005





Mr. Okum said I think I understand that your request is for another six months for the pole sign cover on the pole sign.  Mr. Decker added and the banner sign which is the one on the building itself.  Mr. Borden added all the signage that is currently on the site.


Mr. Okum said there is a sign on the face of the building.  Mr. Borden said I think we approved that.  Mr. Emerson added he was asking for the crow’s foot sign and he had all the smaller signs in the window.  We asked him to take those down and agreed with the crow’s foot sign.  Mr. Weidlich added I believe he had moved these big signs off the posts out there into the windows, and we asked him to take those out. 


Mr. Okum commented there still are a couple of signs in the window.  Mr. Decker reported they are our small “Available Space” signs that we normally use for all our vacancies.


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


Mr. Weidlich moved to approve the real estate banner on the pole sign and the banner on the building at 409 West Kemper Road for an extension of six months (April 19, 2006)  Mr. Squires seconded the motion. 


Mr. Okum asked the size of the banner on the building.  Mr. Decker reported that it is 50 s.f., and the variance is needed because we want it to be up more than 14 days.   This is the vacated Thriftway, and we really need to have it advertised. 


Mr. Okum said what’s happening with it?  Are you close to something on this property?


Mr. Decker reported we are getting several bites.  In fact Mark Addy the COO of the company has new prospective tenants walking through on the 23rd of this month.   They are coming week to week, so tentatively yes, we are excited about what is going on with the community.  The people and demographics of this area are spiking interest, but nothing is on paper yet on leasing.


Addressing Mr. Lohbeck, Mr. Okum said if they were to take the banner cover down off the pole sign, what would our code require to happen to the panels on that sign?   Mr. Lohbeck answered since there is no tenant there the sign would have to be removed. 


Mr. Okum commented I have a problem with saying arbitrarily another six months, but I have to think about what else we would have there if we took that cover off.  I’m torn between both ways.


Mr. Okum asked if any of these prospects were being driven by the signage on this building.   Mr. Decker answered the fact that you can see this sign lets people know that there is a face there.   If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have as much traffic as we are getting, and it would definitely deter the fact that we want something in here in the long run. 



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Mr. Squires said I would like to bring the board up to date on what is happening there.  I confer with our economic development director Jeff Tulloch regularly, and there are ongoing negotiations with a grocery chain right now.  I can tell you for sure that these are serious negotiations and progress is being made.  I also can assure you that it is extremely important to the City of Springdale that we continue this variance.  In fairness to Phillips Edison let’s keep the signs there so that other clients can contact them and see if we can’t get that property leased out in a timely manner.


Mr. Borden asked how many of the potential clients have come to the building because of the signage.    Mr. Decker said all of them.  Mr. Borden asked if they happen to pass by, see the sign and stop in.  Mr. Decker reported that investors come in from all over the country and drive the city and the properties that we have, see the signs and ask about it.  Then the leasing agents take it from there.


Mr. Borden asked if there had been open houses, and Mr. Decker reported that there will be an open house with the COO on the 23rd,  a walk-through for prospective buyers.   The fact that it is advertised the way it is definitely sparks their interest, and we can fluctuate and work with that. 


Mr. Okum said available means for sale or lease, whatever happens.  Is that correct?  Mr. Decker said that is a good question.  I do know that it is available space but I don’t believe the property is for sale.  Otherwise it would say “For Sale”.  I would say that it is for lease. 


Mr. Okum said I’m glad the crow’s foot tripod sign in front has been removed.  Based on the square footage there, it is not that obtrusive and it is back off the right of way further because of the location of the existing sign.  However, I would be more comfortable with three months and see how it goes, rather than the six months.


Mr. Borden said I support the extension, but I am trying to get a compromise; rather than six months, what about four months?


Mr. Decker responded I don’t agree with the decreasing of the time because of the time of the year.  We are going into a season that may not be advantageous when they might want to wait to lease until the beginning of the year.  There are a lot of factors.  If the signs are down and somebody else comes through there, I think six months is exactly what we do need.  If it happens before then, great.

Mr. Borden commented so you are saying that leasing drops off.  Mr. Becker answered absolutely. I would rather have the six months total and not have to worry.   


Mr. Borden said then I can do the six months.  Mr. Okum added based on the information provided, I probably will support a six-month period. 







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Mr. Borden asked about the window signs and Mr. Okum said Building Department can deal with that.  They were not part of the motion, so they would not be permitted, unless there is a motion to amend to include them.   Right now they are not a part of the motion.


Mr. Borden asked the applicant about them, and Mr. Decker reported that they are in there now and are not obstructing anything, if you would like to extend those as well.  Mr. Lohbeck said it can be handled through a sign permit.  Mr. Decker said they will either be removed or I will get a permit.


On the extension of the variance, all present voted aye and the variance was extended for six months, until April 19, 2006.


X.                 DISCUSSION


XI.               ADJOURNMENT


A.          Mr. Weidlich moved to adjourn and Mrs. Huber seconded the motion.  All present voted aye, and Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 8:01 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,




______________________2005    _________________________                                                                  David Okum, Chairman   




______________________,2005 __________________________

                                                                Jane Huber, Secretary