TUESDAY - JULY 9, 1996


The Meeting was called to order at 7:32 p.m. with Chairman Harrington presiding.





Present: Members Bauer, Brennan, Reinke, Harrington, Baty (alternate)


Absent: Member Antosiak


Also Present: Donald M. Saven - Building Official

Steve Cohen - Staff Planner

Alan Amolsch - Ordinance Enforcement Officer

Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary




Chairman Harrington indicated we do have a quorum present this evening although we do have what we refer to as a "Short Board" in that we are one (1) Member short of the full six (6) needed.


The Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the City of Novi Charter to determine applications for variances or special use permits. Generally these cases are in the nature of appeals after denial of an application of the City of Novi Building Department. The variance request will generally seek relief from the strict application of the City of Novi Zoning Ordinances. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to grant a variance request. In so far that we only have five (5) voting Members present this evening; it would be necessary in order to obtain your variance to attain at least four (4) affirmative votes. Any Board decision that we make this evening will be final. In view of the fact that we do not have a full six (6) Member Board; are there any petitioners this evening who would like to have this matter tabled until the next Regular Meeting in August?


Lee Mamola: In Case No. 96-042 we would like to be tabled until August. We would like to let the Board be aware, however, since we appeared last month we have met with some of the neighbors and we have had some very positive meetings and we will present that in August.


Chairman Harrington: That is encouraging, and we will look forward to seeing that.


Chairman Harrington: Board Members move for acclamation to table to the next meeting?


All in favor? (Voice Vote) (All yeas) Carried


Chairman Harrington: That matter has been tabled. Are there any other petitioners who would like to have their matter tabled to next month? (No one came forward at this time.)

Chairman Harrington: There being none, we will proceed with the agenda as proposed. Are there any additions or changes to the agenda?


Chairman Harrington: Case No. 96-050, filed by IDOD has requested to be tabled to the August 13, 1996 Meeting because of a scheduling conflict.


Move to table by acclamation,


All in favor? (Voice Vote) Carried


Chairman Harrington: With no opposition that matter will be tabled until the August Meeting.

Are there any other changes or additions to the agenda.


Move for approval by acclamation,


All in favor? (Voice Vote) Carried


Chairman Harrington: With no opposition, the agenda is approved as presented.





Chairman Harrington: The next matter is the approval of the minutes from the June 4, 1996 Meeting. Are there any changes or additions to the unofficial draft of the minutes that have been circulated among the Board?


Chairman Harrington: There being no additions, deletions or modifications; the "Chair" will move by acclamation for approval of the minutes of the June Meeting.


All in favor? (Voice Vote) Carried




Chairman Harrington: We will now turn to the Public Remarks section. Before getting to the Public Remarks section the "Chair" will make his own public remarks and welcome to this Board Mr. Steve Cohen who will be the Staff Planner assisting the Board in our matters in the months to come. Mr. Cohen comes well qualified and we look forward to his assistance. Welcome to the Board.


Chairman Harrington: Now turning to audience participation in terms of matters which are not formally before the Board this evening. If there is a matter which has been scheduled, kindly hold your remarks until that time; but if there are other matters that you as a member of the audience would like to bring to our attention now is the time to do so.

Lee Mamola: Board Members, in April we were before you with Ray Electric, Case No. 96-015.

Ray Electric at that time was proposing to purchase property and there have been a number of difficulties involved with the purchase of that property. You may recall that part of their driveway was associated with the Soccer Zone Project, was associated with the Grand/Meadowbrook Project. Those issues have recently been resolved and we are moving towards a closing of that property next week; next Monday. The fact of the matter is that our 90 day time period has expired and I would request the Board to grant an extension to the end of July if need be. The reasons for the variance is to remain the same and the case does essentially remain the same, aside from the difficulties in coming to a closing on the property.


Member Bauer and Vice-Chairman Reinke indicated that they did not have a problem with the extension.


Chairman Harrington: You would request an extension until when, Sir?


Lee Mamola: The end of July. It ran out at the end of June, so essentially it is a 30 day extension.


Chairman Harrington: Perhaps we should extend you until our next Regular Board Meeting, so that the extension or it’s expiration will dovetail with that.


Chairman Harrington: Board Members, move to extend the period until our next regularly scheduled meeting on August 13, 1996.


Roll Call: (Voice Vote) (All Yeas) Carried


Chairman Harrington: We are now turning to the agenda. The first 2 cases have been tabled until the next regularly scheduled meeting in August. Therefore the first case to come before the Board this evening is:



CASE NO. 96-054 filed by Michael Bartosh


Michael Bartosh wishes to construct a detached two story garage with an overall building height of 16.08 feet for property located at 308 Buffington. A variance is needed to allow an additional story and 2.08 feet for the height of the proposed garage.


Michael Bartosh was present and duly sworn.



Michael Bartosh: The topic here is storage and the house currently has no basement, little attic space and is heavily occupied. The house is around the lakes area there. We like to use the lake for boating and snowmobiling; all of those things that everyone likes to do out there and there is no where to store the stuff in the house. This was my idea to build this garage and I came across a print and I talked to one of the gentlemen down there and he mentioned something about a height variance. I looked at this print, and I am no engineer, I am just a homeowner, and looking at the print from the front side of the garage it appears that is within that. OK, now the 16 foot; I looked at that and like I said I am no engineer and I don’t know how you guys measure all of this. The back side of the garage is from what I gather by adding this up is where the 16.08 comes from.


Michael Bartosh: I need the storage space, there is no basement, there is an attic and the attic is heavily occupied; it is beginning to get nail pops in the ceiling. I want to make the house bigger, and it’s just that I can only do such much at one time. Having this space in the garage will really be a benefit, when you see what is going on around the lake there. By adding onto the houses anything that you have in value you better get it out of the house when you tear the roof off of it. So, that is hardship and I understand that your big reason for this is that you don’t want to see that become a living quarters. Now, I am willing to sign some kind of paper that will guarantee that it will not become a living quarters during the term that I own this house and I don’t plan on leaving for awhile.


Michael Bartosh: And now I rest my case with you people.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 14 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven had no comment.


Member Brennan: What was the purpose in selecting this particular plan for building this garage?


Michael Bartosh: For the storage space in the attic. I said that I have snowmobiles. The boating materials and I am sure that you guys do that also, all the stuff that goes with it that has to be stored somewhere.


Member Brennan: I understand that, but my question lies then why this building rather than a garage that would meet code?


Michael Bartosh: Basically that is the storage space. I plan on doing nothing with the upstairs except to store stuff in there. This plan calls for a staircase in there which I don’t even plan on putting in. I plan on putting a pull down staircase. Actually it is a 2 1/2 car garage and I have 2 cars and a boat. Something is going to have to give even at that rate. Obviously I can’t put the boat in the attic; but I can put all the rest of my junk so to speak in the attic. Did that answer your question? I am not certain.


Member Brennan: I guess that it answered part of my question. Again, the purpose in presenting a case before ZBA is to present a hardship and I guess that I am trying to find that when you can build a garage that meets code and perhaps gives you nearly the same accomplishments without needing a variance.


Michael Bartosh: With the snowmobile equipment, the clothing, etc. I plan on putting a closet up there that is kind of air tight, bug tight and everything to put the type of materials in there where the critters and if you notice this area here is bordering the wetlands and you don’t even put a garbage back outside of that house at night. This is my reason for this.


Chairman Harrington: It would appear that you have attached with your petition a rendering which contains a saltbox style garage with an upstairs work shop? I that the garage that you are talking about putting in?


Michael Bartosh: Yes, I have a picture here if you would like to see it.


Chairman Harrington: I have some with the materials. Is it my understanding that this garage that you would put in would be installed by yourself?


Michael Bartosh: No, I have not contacted a contractor yet. There is this deal here that I have to get squared away first. I worked for a small contractor at one time and I would hate to waste somebody’s time on a whim. Until this OK’d by the City; then I will contact a contractor to do the work.


Chairman Harrington: Is it my understanding that the garage that you are considering ordering and putting in, basically comes pre-configured and that the height that is reflected on that garage package is the 16 feet, is that correct?


Michael Bartosh: In the back area. Do you have a print in front of you? This may help you out. If you look at the back you will see that it is in the neighborhood of the 16 feet and I am not an engineer and I don’t know how you guys figure this; but if you look at the front side the center part of the roof between the peak and the soffit is kind of within what you are asking. The back side will be over looking the wetlands. So anyone in the neighborhood will be looking at basically a normal garage. The reason for picking this is that it kind of matches the house. The T-111 siding and such.


Chairman Harrington: What I was getting to is that if you order this package it comes in a preconfigured height and what you have to deal with is what you order, is that correct? It is not like you are custom building this, that you can go back to your contractor and say smack it down to 14 feet, you have to deal with the package that you are ordering; is that correct?


Michael Bartosh: I would imagine. I am not a builder. I really don’t know. I happened to pick this print, I liked it and at this time I have not talked to a contractor about it because I need the variance and I don’t want to waste their time.


Member Baty: Are you going to have the contractor duplicate this garage or are you going to order this garage?


Michael Bartosh: Actually it is going to have a single door in the front, and it probably will not have the staircase. The staircase just eats up room to me.


Member Baty: Are you going to have a contractor build this garage and try to come close to......


Michael Bartosh: As close to that as possible, yes. That is my dream to build that exact garage.


Member Baty: So you could work with it and reduce the height to the 14 foot then? Since you are not ordering this.


Michael Bartosh: The back height? Now we have to re-engineer the whole thing.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: The only thing is that he wants the second story storage and he can’t have that with 14 feet.


Michael Bartosh: That would probably mean that I would have to throw out the whole thing and go in some other direction. Originally I would have liked to have a 3 car garage, but then it would dwarf the house and you wouldn’t like that either. The extra bay would take care of the situation with 3 vehicles; 2 cars and a boat. But, from my understanding you don’t want to see a garage that is longer than the house and I really don’t either; it is a very small yard. I am about giving up most of the backyard just to have this.


Don Saven: I think the last statement that the applicant had indicated would probably answer Mr. Brennan’s concern relative to if he didn’t have the upstairs it would meet the requirements of the code. It would really not; because of the fact that if he took the square footage upstairs and brought it downstairs then the garage would be to big for the lot and it would not meet the accessory structure requirement and he would be here any how. So by lifting it up in that area he has confined the useable area.


Member Baty: I don’t see a hardship here because I think that he could get a different style of garage that would still provide the storage space at the 14 foot height. It could be designed a little bit different.

Michael Bartosh: This is the plan that I have seen and I like it and as the gentleman has said and I believe that I talked to you down there and you said you will not build a garage that is bigger than the house and this is what I came up with and I figured I would try to do the job and come down here and talk to you people. With 2 feet, I don’t think that I am asking for the world. I am putting it in the middle of the lot, I am not trying to encroach on easements or anything. I was just hoping that you would go along with me on this.


Member Brennan: There is 2 issues. There is the height and it is also the whole issue of the second story. With conventional garages if you don’t have a ceiling you have rafters and you can store up in there.


Michael Bartosh: It was also my understanding that the reason that you don’t like a second floor is because somebody may want to turn that into an apartment or such. As I said, I am willing to sign any kind of paper with you stating that will not happen. I intend to put another story on the top of the house to also help that out in time. When I do that I will definitely need some storage space. Currently I have belongings stored all over the relatives houses and that has gone on for 7 years. I am getting the hint to remove your stuff.


Chairman Harrington: I think that this sounds like a simple case, the gentleman is only looking for 2 feet. It is actually more difficult for us than that. I would indicate that I could support this for the following reasons: The actual hardship is that without this variance he can’t have storage up there and I think that is significant to this petitioner. It is still a close case and if there were any significant opposition whatsoever either from the Building Department or Planning or from neighbors or homeowners associations or some other type of opposition then I would have to very carefully weight that in my decision. I think that it is a close case. But, I could support this motion. I think that the alternative is that he is not going to get his storage and I think that it is important to this petitioner.

Vice-Chairman Reinke: I would rather see the additional 2 foot in height then to have the building be bigger and encroach into the side yard setbacks. In looking at the physical appearance of the garage from the roadside that would be visible it basically looks like a standard garage except that the roof is a little bit higher.


Member Brennan: I had 3 notes on this one. One was where is the hardship and I will take Mr. Harrington’s comments into consideration. The other note is that it is a relatively deep lot and he is looking at putting this significantly towards the back and as I understand there is wetlands behind you?


Michael Bartosh: Yes, that is right. They have just come through there a few months ago for the 100 year flood plan there and it comes pretty close to that. That is the reason. I could have moved it back a little further, but for the foundation reasons I brought it, I believe, 16 feet from the property line and you only require 10 or 6; I really don’t remember.

Don Saven: Six (6).


Chairman Harrington: One other quick question. Do I understand that the rendering that has been supplied to us by the Building Department is in fact the schematic or the plan of the garage that you intend to install? And if there were to be approval granted it would be conditioning upon this rendering, is that correct?


Michael Bartosh: That is correct.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Granted


CASE NO. 96-055 filed by Ryan Schubring


Ryan Schubring is requesting an 8.5' front yard setback variance (corner lot) to allow for the construction of an addition at 25490 Wixom Road, in a R4 Zoning district. The existing structure is 34.6' from the property line.


Nancy Schubring was present and duly sworn.


Nancy Schubring: We are currently requesting a variance because when our house was built in 1989 the zoning was such that it was such it was 35 feet to the street and now it is 45 feet to the street. We are putting on an addition and we are just following our current building lines, so the addition will be within the 35 feet. It will just follow the current and existing lines of our structure.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 17 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was 4 written responses received with 2 voicing approval and 2 objections. Copies in file.




Gary Christensen, 25450 Wixom Rd., I am here to insure that you folks received my information packet in writing and also to express several other concerns. As I indicated in my letter of concerns that it is my opinion that the legal lot restrictions that are imposed on every lot in Birchwoods Sub specifically state that no sheds will be allowed. I understand and I have spoken with the Schubring’s and allowing for interpretative differences I am sure that both Nancy and Ryan probably feel that what they have provided to you in plan is not a shed; but however, again with interpretative differences the definition in the American Heritage Dictionary Standard Edition "shed, a small structure either free standing or attached to a larger structure serving for storage or shelter". As a result of that definition, again interpretatively I consider the addition of the end unit with outside access as shed.


Gary Christensen: I addition my other concerns that I would like to present to the ZBA this evening is that we have been provided with the 300 foot Notice around the zoned proposed request but that does not provide enough of an impact statement to the subdivision as a whole. With the by laws potentially in jeopardy here with legal lot restrictions. We have not been provided an adequate time to get to the situations here with the plan and in my opinion a shed, to get an opinion from the entire Board of Directors back to me in writing so that I have time as a Member of the community to provide my family protection for property value; whether that regards cooperative discussions with the Schubrings’ or potential judgement on interpretation of whether or not they are presenting a plan which includes a shed.


Gary Christensen: So as a result of these concerns I respectfully request that the ZBA at this time in being prudent to either table this issue to allow adequate time for the subdivision whole to address this concern. And/or myself adequate time to do what I feel is necessary to protect my property values, Thank you.




Don Saven had no comment.


Member Bauer: One thing that we have always done in the past when there has been a homeowners organization is to get their approval before it comes to the Board. Since I don’t see any signature of approval on the plans......


Nancy Schubring: I have some additional information also for you. We have a letter here that was signed by the entire Board of Directors including the architectural control committee and our adjacent neighbors on all 3 sides of our property stating that they feel that we are not in violation of the current by laws and they support our addition. Plus 2 additional approvals from adjacent neighbors. I also have an elevation plan if you would like to see that.


Member Brennan: This is the Birchwoods Subdivision sign off or approval?


Nancy Schubring: Yes, this is all the current Board of Directors that approved it and the architectural control committee and on the bottom our neighbors. Along with 2 additional letters of approval that our neighbors just gave us.


Member Brennan: As that elevation drawing makes it way around can you in your own words tell me what this little square is on the plan view. Is this an addition to the house? Is this a shed? What is this?


Nancy Schubring: It is all an addition to our current house. We have a laundry room that we are adding, a master bedroom, a master bath and on the back side of it is a workshop area that we will be using for various things.


Member Brennan: So at the tail end or at the end of that building is where the workshop is going to be. Where is the concern? The concern from one of the homeowners is that there is an access door at the end of that building that faces Birchwood?


Nancy Schubring: It faces east. The neighbor is east of us, but he is on Birchwood. He doesn’t face directly east to us, he is on the north side of Birchwood. Bob Reay.


Member Brennan: I will just make one additional comment. It certainly seems that if the ordinance was changed in 1989, changing that setback from 45 to 35 and this new addition which appears to be an addition to the home is in line with the existing structure and there aren’t any other issues from the Building Department and they have the subdivision approval. I don’t have any objections.


Chairman Harrington: The record will reflect that we accept for filing the July 3rd letter from the architectural committee. I assume that this is the architectural committee of the subdivision?


Nancy Schubring: Correct.


Chairman Harrington: Are they speaking for the subdivision in their approval?


Nancy Schubring: Yes. The way that it is set up, are they speaking for the subdivision, they are approving it; in their eyes they feel that it is not in violation of the current by laws. Everybody is subject to an interpretation of all guide lines and by laws of everything that they read. The current architectural control committee feels that it is not in violation of the existing by laws for Birchwoods Subdivision.


Chairman Harrington: And the document that you submitted reflects the signature by 3 members of the committee as well as the officers; including the president, vice-president, secretary, sergeant at arms and the treasurer.


Nancy Schubring: Correct, including 3 adjacent neighbors.


Chairman Harrington: We have also accepted for the record by the approval by Charles Good of 25530 Wixom Rd.

Vice-Chairman Reinke: The biggest thing is that it is not going further into the front yard than the existing structure. With that and the size of the lot I don’t have a problem with the petitioners request.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


CASE NO. 96-056 filed by Charles Bird, representing Bell Fork Lift


Charles Bird, representing Bell Fork Lift, is requesting a variance to display their products outside of the building to attract customers, for property located at 46400 Grand River Avenue. (OS-2 Planned Office Service District.)


Charles Bird was present and duly sworn.


Charles Bird: On May 6th we received a Notice of Violation because we had an outside display of equipment in our parking lot located at 46400 Grand River. Subsequent to that I filed an appeal with the Board to ask for a variance, for several reasons.


Charles Bird: Since I have filed the petition I have gone out and have taken photographs approaching our property from both the east and the west. I would like to put them into the record along with a guide to the pictures that I am submitting at this time to indicated that we are not proposing an eye sore display of an overwhelming volume of equipment and to indicate that we are not asking for anything different than any of our neighbors have. The photographs will show that to the east of us there is a company that has construction equipment on display, that immediately across the street from us at road side a company has equipment on display. So we are not asking to be treated any differently than anyone else in the area and to avail ourselves to the same opportunity to display our wares in a public matter.


Charles Bird: What also makes us a little different from our neighbors is that our display would be setback 50 feet from the roadside, so that we are even less obtrusive. We would like to be visible but somewhat unobtrusive. We don’t want to be an eye sore, we want to be an asset to the community.

Charles Bird: The primary reasons that we have asking you for the request for the variance is that traveling at 50 mph you would only see our equipment for about 14 seconds. It would help us though in helping our customers be able to see our property and be able to turn in and not have to turn around and go up the road and come back to us. We do feel that a display of our equipment helps people to identify who we are and what we do and makes us a more solid and prosperous member of the community. As I indicated, we would have our equipment set back some 50 feet from the road with a greenbelt between our parking lot and the roadway. It is not our plan to have any garish displays, we are not planning to put lights on our equipment or to store it overnight. We are not looking at storage, we are simply displaying during normal working hours. The fork lift trucks that we sell are self propelled vehicles so it is not necessary for us to tow them out or anything they move out on their own and we just drive them out and move them back in at the end of the day.


Charles Bird: Again, we are not asking to be treated any differently than our neighbors; just the same. Those are my reasons.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 9 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven had no comment.


Chairman Harrington: Have you done any data research to determine whether or not these persons out there simply have been fortunate in not being violated by the City or whether they have come before us as the ordinance requires and obtain a variance for their storage?


Charles Bird: No, I have not.


Member Brennan: That was going to be my question to Alan. Kubota, Cougar have any of those people been before us?


Alan Amolsch: I would have to look at the pictures. I did not look at them as they went by. When you look at the property on Grand River you have to be aware that there are certain variances that have been granted over the years. One for Foote Gravely Tractor some years ago had a variance; other properties were I-2 (heavy industrial zoning) and they are grandfathered in and are permitted outside storage as long as it is behind their screening or their berms. Every property on Grand River has it’s own history. The other problem is that now this property is not zoned heavy industrial any longer and it is zoned Office Service District, and it does not allow any outside storage.

Member Brennan: How long have you been there?


Charles Bird: We moved in February.


Michael Brennan: So, was it already OS-2 at that time?


Charles Bird: Yes.


Chairman Harrington: Sir, with respect with your equipment which would be out of doors, do I correctly assume that equipment would be out of doors during the daylight hours and placed inside for security reasons in the evening.


Charles Bird: Absolutely, by 5 o’clock.


Chairman Harrington: So, the storage that would be involved here is more in the nature of advertising and marketing rather than using the outdoor space because you are full up with your storage inside, true.


Charles Bird: Absolutely and it is valuable equipment. We wouldn’t care to leave it out overnight without protection.


Member Brennan: Would you have it out there in the middle of the winter?


Charles Bird: If it was bad conditions, we would leave it inside.


Member Brennan: You would consider this seasonal?


Charles Bird: Some of the equipment would be electric trucks and you wouldn’t leave those out exposed to ice storms.


Chairman Harrington: Are you aware of right of way, the distance from the center of the roadway? In other words would your storage be intruding upon the city or state owned right of way on the road?


Charles Bird: We are talking 50 to 60 feet setback from the roadway in our parking lot.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: This district does not permit this and I really think that I have a problem supporting it. It is unfortunate that the use of this business is in this type of district but I think that we are just opening up things to far by going that way.


Member Bauer: I personally don’t see a hardship. None whatsoever.

Charles Bird: We feel that it will help us in sales of our equipment.


Member Bauer: We cannot take that into consideration, sorry. Other Board Members feel that we should, but we really can’t.


Member Brennan: I will just reiterate something that the petitioner brought up and I am sure that he didn’t want to but the fact is that when you acquired the site it was already OS-2. I might have some sense of compassion if you had been this industrial site already and then the zoning had changed.


Chairman Harrington: I will tell you what my thought is and I think that the problem is one with the ordinance. I think it is one with the apparent interpretation of the word storage. I believe at the conclusion of the evening we are going to have a Board discussion relative to Ordinance Review and I think that one of the issues that Ordinance Review should take a look at is the issue of outdoor storage because it appears that what is classed, in my view I don’t think that you are engaged in outdoor storage; but it appears to be a consensus either of the Building Department or the Ordinance that you are. I think that you are involved in something else. You are involved in something other than storage. You are not storing the stuff outside. That is not what you are doing, but it falls within that broad description of the ordinance. There is nothing that would make you any different than anybody else and it seems to me that those other persons who are out there doing the same thing in a forbidden area of the zoning district should take heed, avoid the ordinance problems and bring their stuff inside. I think that it is a problem that should be properly dealt with by Ordinance Review and by City Council because I could certainly, if someone were to suggest to me should this gentleman be allowed to place a few pieces of equipment outside and bring them back in at 5 o’clock; that is not unreasonable and I am not offended by that. But, under a broad view of storage that is exactly what you are doing. It is not permitted in the district. I would have to support the other Board Members on a motion to deny it.


Charles Bird: Might I ask what the definition of storage is, then? To me storage is something of an overnight concept.


Member Baty: I wasn’t hung up on the word storage, but it also mentions outdoor display and that is pretty clear.


Charles Bird: As I read it, it said storage and display in the ordinance and when I see storage and display I think that the 2 are inseparable. So from my standpoint, display is if we put a forklift on a monument and it sat in front of our building that would be storage or display of a permanent nature and I guess that is what I thought that I read and that you were talking about something of a more permanent nature as opposed to transient.


Moved by Member Bauer,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


CASE NO. 96-058 filed by Cathy Kummer


Cathy Kummer is requesting a 3.1' rear yard setback variance to allow for the construction of a screened deck for property located at 25930 Glenmoor in the Lochmoor Subdivision. The zoning district is RA, by consent judgement the required minimum rear yard setback is 35 feet.


Cathy Kummer was present and duly sworn.


Cathy Kummer: I am asking for a variance on the east side of the lot. We want to build a screened deck and you require 35 feet from the structure to the property line. My hardship is that I back to wetlands. I have an irregular shaped lot and the house sits on an angle, so I don’t have that square. I have 31.9 feet from the east side, from the deck to the lot line. I am actually asking for a 3.3 inch and not a 3.1. I am asking for a 12 foot projection from the home back to the lot line and screened in to put furniture. Twelve feet is barely adequate. I am also judged by the wetlands, I can’t go to much further out. Twelve feet is the minimum. That is my case.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 19 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven: Just for the fact that the deck is enclosed and a normal deck is allowed to project up to 18 foot into the required rear yard setback; because this is enclosed it takes on the same connotation as a part of the building.


Member Brennan: In the corner it says OK Michelle McHenry, LVHA; is that the subdivision approval?


Cathy Kummer: Michele Martinez.


Member Brennan: Her capacity in that sub is?


Cathy Kummer: She is the president, of the homeowners association. She is also the one who wrote the letter that he read.


Member Brennan: Directly out from this deck is a wetland or is there houses there?


Cathy Kummer: Yes, there are wetlands behind us so the deck won’t encroach on a neighbor back there.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: The intrusion into the area of concern is 3' 3" is very minimal. It is not going into the wetlands area and I can understand the reason for screening it in with that type of situation. I have no problem supporting the petitioner’s motion.


Member Bauer: I have no problem with it either. It is going in with the conservation easement,


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried

Cathy Kummer: May I ask that the 5 day waiver be granted?


Chairman Harrington: You may. Any objection from the Board? No one objected.



Case No. 96-059 filed by Mark Tobias


Mark Tobias is requesting a variance to place a fence in the required front yard setback area (corner lot) for property located at 24417 Kings Pointe Dr.


Mark Tobias was present and duly sworn.


Mark Tobias: I am requesting a variance to place a fence along the side of my back yard, which is considered a front yard because I am on a corner lot. I have an approval by the Meadowbrook Glens Homeowners Association signed by the President and Secretary.


Mark Tobias: We believe that it is critical to have a fence because we have 2 small children and 2 dogs in our home. I believe that is our hardship. The fence will be 4 foot galvanized, completely covered in black vinyl coating - post and rails. This will make it more decorative and match the home.


Mark Tobias: Novi Fence has drawn a picture of the area that the fence will cover and they will do the work if approved. The fence will not view obstruction for traffic on Kings Pointe or Queens Pointe. And also if you have gone by the house, I have a couple of stakes in the ground and you would see basically where it is going to be going within a foot or two. We also have a large pine tree on our front yard at the corner and we are going to be removing that tree to give more access so that you can see the streets and there won’t be a problem.


Mark Tobias: I have taken 3 photographs of houses in the area that are on corner lots and have fences and also there is a few other houses that I have noted. We believe that the fence will improve our home and will not take away from the appeal of our neighborhood and I am requesting an approval for the fence.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 54 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with 3 written responses received all voicing approvals. Copies in file.




Cynthia Haffey, 24525 Queens Pointe. I do have an objection to the variance. My home will be the home that will be most greatly affected if this variance is approved. My home faces the entire length of the side yard. I would like to comment on the hardships that Mr. Tobias brought before this panel. He has stated that he has 2 dogs and 2 children living in the home, first I would like to point out that the Tobias’ have lived in the home for roughly a month and a half or less than 2 months. So they moved into the neighborhood understanding what the ordinance was and the dogs were with them when they came. The 2 small children are not the children of the homeowners and in the short discussions that I have had with them they are only there on a temporary basis. I ask this panel not to make their decisions of hardship based on either of those 2 reasons. The petitioner also mentioned that he doesn’t have a front yard. He does have a front yard.


Cynthia Haffey: My greatest concern is my husband and I purchased our home with the understanding that this ordinance was in place and that the corner lot, again which my home directly faces, would not have a fence put around it and we bought with that reliance. I believe that our property values will be lowered if a fence is put into place. My understanding with Michigan Case Law that not only it requires a hardship but also that the petitioner cannot have one that is self inflicted and I believe that this one is self inflicted being that the home owners just moved into the neighborhood roughly a month and a half ago. Thank you.


Mark Tobias: I would like to comment on some of the things that she just brought up. It is true that the 2 and 4 year old living with us now are my sister-in-laws’ children; they are living with us for an unlimited amount of time right now. Also if you want to bring up not having children my wife is pregnant, 3 months; so we will have children hopefully in the near future. When we did purchase the home we had talked to the neighborhood association and we were told that the fence was no problem because we had the dogs before hand. The person who sold us the house wasn’t aware that there would be a problem with the fence and after we purchased it and I had Novi Fence come out they brought to my attention that I should seek the approval before he could go ahead and do the work. So, I wasn’t aware of it when I purchased the house. It was a condition that we asked for and they did state that it was approved and there would be no problem with it.


Cynthia Haffey: (did not speak at the microphone, tape was inaudible.)




Don Saven had no comment.


Member Bauer: Do you have in the file that they OK’d it?


Chairman Harrington: We have just received from Meadowbrook Glens Homeowners Association, and apparently it is Mr. Tobias’ note or letter to them and it says acknowledged by Secretary and President and I am not sure what that acknowledgment means. Whether that is an approval or thy are simply acknowledging that he sent that to them. Usually the approvals are a little more clear for the record. Did they represent to you that they have approved this petition? And when did they do that?


Mark Tobias: Yes, I dropped it off and I believe that it was the date on top and she presented it to them.


Chairman Harrington: June 17th. Did you show them the schematic or the drawing of where you wanted the fence?


Mark Tobias: Yes, Sir. that whole packet came and this was from Novi Fence.


Member Baty: You had photos that you were going to show us? Can we see those?


(Photos were presented to the Board.)


Chairman Harrington indicated I have a question for the Building Department. Would there be any configuration permitted of any kind of fencing on this lot or is any kind of fencing going to be in violation?


Don Saven: We would not prohibit fencing. Fencing is allowed by Ordinance. What the Fencing Ordinance dictates is that it can’t come out to the front yard or be placed in the front yard. So if you drew and imaginary line parallel with the property that is where the fence could be placed. A 30 foot setback from that particular line where the road is at.


Chairman Harrington: So there could be fencing on the property in conformity with the ordinance without requirement of a variance albeit that it would probably be maybe 50% or more of the proposed space. It looks like a fairly large area that would be on the top end of the page.


Don Saven: That is correct.


Chairman Harrington: Are you aware, or were you aware when you filed your petition that you could have fencing as long as it followed the setback area and went basically parallel to the front of the house?

Mark Tobias: I was told that by Mr. Saven. But, it would go back into my backyard basically along my deck. It would be inside of that so there would be no way of really completing the fence because it would be going through the deck. It would be right on the edge there and the house still extends out a little bit more. I don’t think that would give us much of a backyard.


Member Bauer: That is the problem that you have when you are on a corner lot.


Member Brennan: I would feel a little bit more comfortable knowing that this was an approval by the Board and the Architectural Committee. I don’t know if there is a standard approval process in homeowner’s association; but from everything that I have seen there is an architectural board and there is Board Members that can approve.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I don’t know if that would even persuade me with what we are looking at here. We are going into a front yard and I really have a problem with that. I don’t think that whether the architectural committee approves it is going to really change my feeling on the wants and needs of doing it. I understand what the person wants, but the situation of the lot configuration location is something that has to be taken into consideration. The neighbors’ objection has to be taken into consideration. I believe that if the individual wants a fence to contain the yard, they have to live within the ordinance.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-057 filed by Beacon Sign Company, representing Farmer Jack


Beacon Sign Co., representing Farmer Jack, is requesting a variance to allow a 43' x 4' (172 sq. ft.) wall sign with the verbiage "FARMER JACK", to be placed on the building located at 41840 Ten Mile Road. The current sign has been approved under ZBA Case No. 487 (2) which limits this sign area to 18' in length and 6' in height, dated October 5, 1976.


Sam Hadad and Dave Winesack were present and duly sworn.


Sam Hadad: Basically at that particular location the interior of the store is being remodeled. We are doing some upgrading to the entire inside proper of the store and it is going to continue to the exterior somewhat. The rear, I believe is going to be painted. To beautify the front we want to take down the box sign which has really been up there for 20 years and upgrade it to individual letters which would be internally lighted. They would be consistent as well with many of the other Farmer Jack Stores. They would be contained right in the same area where the existing sign is. There is a point there that is really not reflected on the drawing that I gave you; the point where the existing is. We want to continue the letters right within that area. As far as color, they would be the same color; no change in that, the orange that Farmer Jack uses.


Sam Hadad: We would like consideration to switch signs. The 4 foot letters is a standard size, that is why we are suggesting consideration to put that size up.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 27 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: Let me see if I understand this right. You want to put this new sign in the same location as the existing sign? But it is a 172 square feet in contrast to the existing sign which is 108 square feet?


Sam Hadad: Right.


Member Brennan: Other than it being conforming to other standard Farmer Jack signs, I didn’t hear anything else that was presented that could be construed as a hardship.


Sam Hadad: Well, there really is not a hardship. We are just looking at the aesthetics of it. It would fit into that area.


Dave Winesack: Basically what we have always had is a oval A & P sign and obviously when the name of the company changed from A & P to Farmer Jack, now we are looking to upgrade the Farmer Jack letters that match the rest of the size on our stores throughout the state. We are trying, obviously, to get as much area as possible so that it can be seen from the road. The new Meijers probably has twice the area that we are asking for.


Chairman Harrington: I am sorry, is that the Meijers that is located in Wixom?


Dave Winesack: I believe that it is.


Chairman Harrington: Was the former sign allowance which was granted in October of 1976, can the Building Department tell us was that an actual variance request and did it involve a larger sign then was otherwise allowed under the ordinance?


Alan Amolsch: Yes, it was. There was a blanket variance which probably Mr. Bauer would remember, granted to the owner of the property. There was certain square footage variances for certain stores in that center, with one of them being at that time A & P. They were granted a much larger sign than the ordinance allowed even at that time. Now, they could change the sign and we have a provision in our ordinance that as long as they stay within the square footage that was approved by the Board they could change to an individual letter sign without further variance. But since they wanted a larger sign they were told to come before the Board.


Chairman Harrington: If they were coming in brand new, fresh today with no sign; what would be the square footage allotment for that store?


Alan Amolsch: Forty square feet.


Chairman Harrington: So the existing sign, as I understand, is over twice and almost 3 times what would be permitted under code and there is being a further expansion which would make it over 4 times what code would permit if they were coming in fresh.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I believe that the blanket variance that was put together for the whole center gave adequate relief and I see no reason to expand over the 108 square feet that is allowed currently.


Member Bauer: I think that the gentleman has stated that he does not have a hardship. He is also on the pole sign.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Now, if they wanted to eliminate the pole sign, then we might be able to talk something different.


Sam Hadad: So from the consensus of your discussion, we had a little discussion of our own over here and the same individual letters reading Farmer Jack if done in a 3 foot tall, would have a spread of 32 feet, so it would be 3 feet by 32 feet; which would be under the existing sign. That would make it like 96 square feet. We would probably have to live with that.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Correct. I see no problem with doing that. I see no problem in the configuration of what they are looking at as long as it does not exceed the original square footage of the variance that was allowed in 1976.


Chairman Harrington: Sir, is your position that you would like us to pass on or to consider the 3 foot signage which would result in 96 square feet?


Sam Hadad: Yes, that would be less than the 108 square feet which is presently up there.


Member Brennan: Does that have to be re-noticed?


Chairman Harrington: I don’t believe so, Mr. Brennan, in that they are asking for a lesser incursion in the ordinance than what is being presented; but it is still a variance request. What they have done is to come up with a compromise in reading the whims of the Board this evening. As I understand it the sort of amended petition that is before us is that they have withdrawn their request for the 172 square foot sign and have lessened that request to a 3 foot by 32 feet total of 96 square feet; and that is what they are asking for.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-060 file by Campbell/Manix, Inc., representing Walsh College


Campbell/Manix, Inc., representing Walsh College is requesting a variance to allow for the placement of an 8' x 8' (64 sq. ft.) construction/advertising sign to be placed at 41700 Gardenbrook (Meadowbrook and Eleven Mile.)


Doug Smith was present and duly sworn.


Doug Smith: Members of the Board, if I might, I would appreciate your consideration in this case. We are asking for a variance in the sign ordinance which would presently allow us just a real estate sign. We have purchased 11 acres adjacent to the property that we now lease which is approximately 15,000 square feet with the intention to build a permanent Walsh College campus there, which is bounded by I-96, Meadowbrook and Eleven Mile. At this point in time we have been in the present location for 3 years with very minimal signage and no exposure in the community because of that presence. We are asking for during this period of time that we will be building a parking lot on the property to help us accommodate growth at the existing leased space and then we will be coming before the appropriate bodies to get the construction of a 45 to 50 thousand square foot building along Meadowbrook on that 11 acres of property.


Doug Smith: During this next 2 year period of time it is very critical that we grow as a college to be able to get the exposure in the community. One of the most prevalent questions that we get from our students is "are you going to be here for the long term?", "if we are going to invest in you, and start at Walsh College we want to know that you are going to be here." No matter what we say in terms of how long we are going to be here, until we have that piece of property which we presently do own, and have a sign there that shows them that we are going to be in the community for the long term we are at a disadvantage in terms of continuing to be successful and attracting students and keeping those students at Walsh College.


Doug Smith: We also hope that we have made a major investment now with nearly 2 million dollars for the land and with building the building that this educational facility will be here. We have made a major investment or are making a major investment and we hope that it is an enhancement to the Novi Community. We would like to get signage on the property now that indicates that it is Walsh College at Novi. With that I would entertain any questions.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 10 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.

Vice-Chairman Reinke: What is your game plan on building, the time table?


Doug Smith: We have gone out to bid for the design of the building. We are right now in the middle of making judgements on that and we hope to have the building design done by the end of this year and break ground for construction in April of 1997. Then to have it constructed by July or early August of 1998. That would be open for the fall semester.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: When do you feel that you would have your plans at a point to be submitted for a building permit?


Doug Smith: I might have to turn to Bruce Johnson who is with me from Campbell/Manix. We will be coming for a construction permit probably after the first of the year.


Bruce Johnson: That would be correct. Once the architect has designed the master plan and it has gone through Brandon Rogers and Company with all of the formal approvals then there would be a year construction period from the date. When that date would be.......probably early spring the drawings could be ready.


Don Saven: I would like to point out at this time, they are presently in the process of renovating quite a substantial square foot amount in the existing Gardenbrook Office Plaza under permit at this time.


Chairman Harrington: Is this a temporary sign?


Doug Smith: This would be a temporary sign. We would like to make it as high quality as possible; but this would be a temporary sign until we can get as part of the overall campus monument sign with the appropriate signage coming again to this body as a permanent sign. So yes, this is intended to b ea temporary sign.


Chairman Harrington: Usually the Board engages in the philosophical discussion of what temporary means when the applicant comes back for the second or third extension on their variance. What kind of time parameters do you have in mind for your temporary sign?


Doug Smith: We would hope that we would be able to go through the appropriate processes and have a permanent sign in place at the time that we opened the building in September of 1998. If we can do it sooner than that we would like to do that because the sooner that we can get a permanent sign on that property indicating that it is our permanent campus the better off we are certainly. I don’t think that we can, at least in some of the discussions that we have had to date, that we won’t be able to get that permanent sign in place until the building is constructed.


Doug Smith: I would note at the present time that we really have very minimal signage. We have been there 3 years and because we are in a lease situation, we are on the monument sign but the letters are only 5 inches tall and one side of the monument sign is blocked by trees and so in terms of exposure in the community we would really like to display our investment in the Novi Community and we haven’t been able to do that as of yet.


Member Brennan: Just for clarification, this is on the I-96 side of that property?


Doug Smith: Correct.


Member Baty: Where are you currently located?


Doug Smith: We are located right there on Meadowbrook, we are south of Gardenbrook Road, the property that we have purchased is adjacent to that property. So we are kind of north and east of the 2 buildings......we are in one of the 2 buildings at this point which is owned by Cigna. The property, we have just purchased from Trammell Crow recently.


Member Brennan: Speaking in some general terms, it sounds as if you would expect to have a building permit or at least the beginnings of a building permit about this time next year and if that is the case you would want this variance request for about a year duration, would that seem appropriate?


Doug Smith: Yes.


Chairman Harrington: Except that you want the sign now to establish or enhance or expand your identity.


Doug Smith: That is correct.


Chairman Harrington: I don’t have a problem with it.


Member Brennan: I don’t have any problems with it either and the fact that it is on the I-96 side, the intentions are clear as to draw some traffic and some identity. If we are able to put some time tables on this so it is not sitting out there forever and if the petitioner is willing to accept a year period that should fall in line with when they expect to have their building permits and construction under way.


Doug Smith: Yes.


Chairman Harrington: But, when do you go to your permanent sign? Let’s assume that a temporary sign is approved this evening. How long do you need that for? I was hearing like 2 years.


Doug Smith: It probably will be. But once we have construction permits the construction sign that we would like to put up now would be in place and not in variance.

Chairman Harrington: So then all you would need is the year.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Baty,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-061 filed by Kimberly Freeman, representing Pavilion Court Apartments


Kimberly Freeman, representing Pavilion court Apartments, is requesting a variance to allow for the continued placement of 2 wall signs, 21 inches by 16 feet (33.6 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "PAVILION COURT", these signs were erected without a permit.


Kimberly Freeman was present and duly sworn.


Kimberly Freeman: We are requesting a variance for the placement of 2 wall signs on the existing brick wall located at the front entrance of the property. This sign was part of a 2 million dollar improvement program to enhance the property. The current sign that is located in the center island is not visible from Haggerty Road from either the north or the south. That is why we are requesting the variance for the 2 wall signs.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 452 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There were 7 written responses received, 2 voicing approval and 5 voicing objection. Copies in file.




Helen Staelber, 39819 Village Woode Dr. I am a neighbor to Pavilion Court. I received my letter and was somewhat surprised that Pavilion Court erected those signs without a permit. Pavilion Court has a history, I live in Lakewoode homes, flaunting any requirements. When they were built we had quite a safety issue because they had an exit on Cranbrooke which they could have put onto Nine Mile and we have children walking to school. They were to post a sign saying "No Right Turn" which meant that they had to turn left and go an eighth of a block and get onto Nine Mile. The sign was up for approximately 6 weeks and has disappeared and has not been seen since. They were also supposed to plant bushes or some type of foliage between where their property comes within 36 feet from/over the 35 limit. So, they have an extra foot. At one point their pool is right on the property line. However, so I am must be honest and say that I am a little perturbed with Pavilion Court. As a tax payer I am disturbed that they would do this without a permit. The signs that they have and in fact on my way here I stopped to take another look, to me they are decorative rather than necessary because they do have a large sign and I am afraid that I will have to disagree; it is an identifying sign and you can see it going south on Haggerty and you can see it going north on Haggerty; because I see it every other day. So, I don’t think that in view of their flaunting of all of the requirements of them and I think it is extremely distasteful that they would erect signs without getting a permit and I would ask that they not be granted this.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think that before even considering this I would want to look at the total signage, the total size of everything. Without looking at that and without looking at the whole package together I would recommend denying their request.


Kimberly Freeman: We just bought the property in October of 1994. So I have no recollection or we are not aware of any of these other violations that this woman just presented to you. We purchased the property in October of 1994, so we have only had for a little over 18 months. We are more than willing to remove the sign that is in the center island at the front entrance. I did submit pictures to the Board, which I am sure that you have in front that you can clearly see that you cannot see that sign from the street. The reason that we put the sign up without getting permission from the Board was because we felt that the brick wall was already existing and putting up the letters was not in violation of a City code.


Chairman Harrington: No one told you that, though.


Kimberly Freeman: No, you are right.


Chairman Harrington: I have a question. What is the current or the historical occupancy of the complex?


Kimberly Freeman: 97%.


Chairman Harrington: I agree with Mr. Reinke, I think that we should take a look at the total sign package on that property and get a little more feedback or a little bit better handle on the extent to which we should be considering giving variances. My initial reaction is not to jerk all the signs out, I think that we should deal with what is needed for that project and I don’t really sense that I have a handle on it. I am not sure that Mr. Reinke has that feeling either.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I agree, I think that we need to look at the whole thing and then we can come up with something that is adequate and that is not over signage and not under signage, but would be adequate for everybody’s concern and feelings about it.


Member Brennan: Is this the only entrance?


Kimberly Freeman: There are 2 entrances. The entrance off of Nine Mile and Cranbrooke has no signage whatsoever. The only signs that say Pavilion Court are the wall signs that are now up and the center island sign. The only reason that we left the center island sign was because of the fact that we were notified that we were in violation and if you did not approve the wall signs we would take them down and leave the remaining sign in the island.


Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: Do you know the square footage of the existing sign is?


Alan Amolsch: 23.9 square feet.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: That is a double faced sign is that correct?


Alan Amolsch: Yes.


Chairman Harrington: And that is the sign that you would be willing to take down?


Kimberly Freeman: Yes, the center island sign.


Chairman Harrington: And you wish to keep up the 2 Pavilion Court signs? Which are in white and are clearly visible in these pictures.


Kimberly Freeman: Yes.


Chairman Harrington: Presumably on facing or attempting to identify you for northbound traffic and the other for southbound traffic.


Kimberly Freeman: Exactly.


Member Baty: What were the areas of those signs?


Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: Would they be allowed one sign and need a variance for the second sign, if they took the original sign down?


Alan Amolsch: They are allowed one entranceway sign per project. So where they put that is up to them; as long as it is at least 10 feet from the right of way line.

Vice-Chairman Reinke: If they took the existing, original sign down, one of those signs could be considered and they would just need a..........


Alan Amolsch: That would just need a slight square footage variance.


Member Baty: The new sign is the 23?


Alan Amolsch: No, that is the old. It has been there for about 11 years. The one that is in the island.


Member Baty: The white Pavilion Court sign, what square footage is on that?


Alan Amolsch: They were 16 x 21 inches. They had on the permit 33 square feet but it is actually closer to 28 square feet.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: If they are going to eliminate the double faced sign in the center I could probably find the signs on the wall something that is workable.


Chairman Harrington: I agree with Mr. Reinke. Do I correctly understand that there is no square footage problem with the wall signs, it is simply the fact that we have 2 of them?


Alan Amolsch: There is 2 of them and there is a slight square footage. They are allowed 24 square foot and the signs are approximately 28 square feet.


Chairman Harrington: So about a 4 foot variation.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I could support a variance for the 2 on the condition that the existing sign in the island come down.


Member Bauer: I would go along with that.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Discussion on motion:


Chairman Harrington: I would comment that in supporting on the motion, I would further suggest and it is not part of the motion, of course, but you have heard a ground swell of opposition here and apparently because of problems or conditions created by your predecessor and it is often that people file variances and they get blind sided at these meetings and the people who are offended don’t think that anybody is listening to them. I would urge you to deal with the homeowners association or the people that have filed their objections to your petition and talk to them about their problems with your complex. A lot of those problems can be resolved with a little pro-active cooperation between neighbors. You don’t want to be running into problems with a City Board because people feel that they have been abused by prior owners. So, I encourage you to engage in that if you would.


Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-062 filed by Sign Art, representing Arbor Drugs


Sign Art, representing Arbor Drugs, is requesting a vriance to allow 2 wall signs 28'6" x 2'10" (78 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "ARBOR DRUGS, LIQUOR, LOTTO", for property located at 45065 Pontiac Trail. The original sign was granted on November 12, 1981, Case No. 908C and is limited in area to 61 square feet and not to exceed 30'6" x 2'.


Mike Williams and Dave Ludica were present and duly sworn.


Mike Williams: Before you, I believe that you have 2 drawings that show 2 different signs; one which is proposed to face west and one which is proposed to face north. They are identical in size and content. This particular lot or shopping center is "L-shaped" and since there is no identifier out at the street those people that are back in the "L" portion or the crotch of the "L" that are using the shopping center really have no way of identifying that Arbor Drugs is where they are. We feel that a second sign is really needed to identify Arbor to the parking lot area.


Mike Williams: There is a couple of other, I think, relatively minor issues that we need to talk about too. The sign that is up there now was granted under a variance back several years ago, a 2' by 30'6" sign which is up there right now. Then an additional 7 square feet of sign for the word "Liquor" was granted during that proceeding. The sign that Arbor uses has an upper case, all the letters in the name are upper case but the "A" is appears larger to give it a more upper case look than the rest of the upper case letters. This often time presents a problem because you have a sign that is really 2 feet 2 inches tall with almost it’s entirety and then there is a portion which extends upward similar in the way that an upper/lower case ""y" would descend downward. The visual impact of the sign is really substantially less than if all of the letters were at the same height of that 2' 10". We would like to kind of get you in the mood of taking that into account when you are evaluting our proposal.


Mike Williams: It is my understanding that the sign which is proposed for the front wall facing Pontiac Traail is within what was allowed before. I am not certain whether it is within the code as it stands right now. Do we know how many square feet of sign is allowed on that building? The front?


Mike Williams: Since we have filed for this appeal, there are plans in the Building Department right now and Arbor Drugs feels that it is probably within a week or so of the building permit being approved for the remodeling for this portion of the shopping center. It is the landlords’ intent to continue the remodel of the shopping center in the future, within the same tone of what Arbor wants to do to upgrade their appearance. Since the appeal was filed Arbor has leased an additional 20 feet of frontage back in the crotch of the "R" adjacent to the store. This may add to the total square footage that is allowed. This is kind of hard to understand (print show). This is their store sticking out into the parking lot and the major part of the shopping center goes back at this point here and they have taken 20 feet more of space here. One of the shops here for their back room storage area now. So in essence they have some additional frontage that this not reflected on our site plan.


Mike Williams: There is a descrepancy in the plan that you see and what is actually there. The original remodel plans had an entry way that projected out and extended their front out aways to 92 feet. The actual frontage of that store is 84 1/2 feet and not 94 feet; but then with the additional 20 feet it comes up to 104 1/2 feet of frontage.


Mike Williams: We feel that there is a hardship which would warrant some relief. Whether it is the relief that we propose, which we think that aesthetically is going to look the best, to have 2 signs that balance with each other; or some other approach that you might suggest. But, we do feel that there is some relief that is necessary in order to optimumly allow people that are using the shopping center to identify that store when they get beyond the line of vision when they are down in the crotch of the shopping center. That is basically the appeal.


Chairman Harrington: Mr. Reinke has pointed out that the original sign was limited in area to 61 square feet and the dimensions were 30.6 x 2 feet; so 61 was the number on the original sign.


Mike Williams: Now, we have it in our notes that the Liquor sign was approved at some time for 7 sqaure feet. I think that came from the Building Department.


Alan Amolsch: That was a separate variance.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 5 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with one written response received voicing objection. Copy in file.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch: Those figures are correct. I was going to get to that we went into "Discussion". The original variance was 30'6" by 2' for one sign. There was a later variance for a "Liquor" sign of 7 sqaure feet at a later date.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: So that gives them a total of 68 square feet. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of times when they design shopping centers they don’t take into consideration much else. The size of the sign presented of 78 square feet I see that somewhat livable. I cannot support 2 signs.


Chairman Harrington: I concur with Mr. Reinke.


Member Brennan: I cannot support a sign that is larger than the total square footage granted by the 2 previous variances of 68 square feet. I have a problem with the size.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: The only reason that I can support the request is basically it is not much larger than the other one because they take into consideration the size of "A" all the way across. That is the only reason that I would support it because it is really about 10 square foot of empty space.


Member Bauer: I could go for just one sign, not two. I could go for the 78 square foot on one sign.

He also now has 20 more feet of frontage.


Moved by Member Bauer,



Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,





Roll Call: Yeas (3) Nays (2) Baty, Brennan


Mike Williams: We don’t like to do this because it changes the appearance of the word Arbor, but there have been a couple of cases where we changed the size of the "A", and that would put it below the square footage. Obviously we think that is kind of splitting hairs but that is something we would be willing to do if that makes it more palatable and then it would be under the square footage that was once granted as far as the variance was concerned.


Member Brennan: If the change in that sign brings the overall square footage at 68 or less then that satisfies my requirements.


Member Baty: I agree.


Chairman Harrington inquired of the Building Department: If he is reducing his request to the 68 sqaure feet for one sign, does he need a variance?


Alan Amolsch: Yes, because the original variance was for 2 different signs. One was the 30'6" x 2' and the other variance for the "Liquor" sign.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Baty,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-063 filed by Richard Walter, representing Power Vac of Michigan, Inc.


Richard Walter, representing Power Vac of Michigan, Inc., is requesting a variance to allow a 10' x 3' (30 sq. ft.) ground pole sign with the height from grade being 15' for property located at 21510 Novi Road.


Richard Walter was present and duly sworn.


Richard Walter: (passed out visual aids, pictures). Most of you have lived here long enough and you all know where this building is at. Probably you have all lived here long enough to know that at one time when you headed up north on Novi Road there really was only the Guernsey, the car was and the bowling alley. Well over time, the development has occurred. We have here a classic hardship case. Other areas that have developed has obscurred this business severely. So much so that the actual appearance had de-graded. Mr. Wells from Power Vac has purchased this property not to long ago and intends to convert it to a $2.00 car wash. He is going to invest a great deal of money in landscaping, sidewalks, increasing the length of the tunnel and all that kind of good stuff so this is going to be a lot more attractive building and it will, of course, be a benefit to the community.


Richard Walter: The obscurity comes, as you can see on the photos there, much from the landscaping that has been required over the years for the neighboring properties. The trees and such have developed, they have matured and they obscure the building. Big Al’s not only has landscaping which obscures the building but he has also for some reason or another was required to put a wall there. Even the low berm that is in front of the Border Cantina aids in obscurring the building as you head up north on Novi Road.


Richard Walter: I sat out there the other day and I figured out where there was the best spot as you come up on Novi Road where you are going to see the building, the business and everything like that with how much time that you had going at normal speed. Well, normal speed would be going at what people were driving and it was 2 seconds. Two seconds isn’t by any chance a safe amount of time to make a decision to enter a piece of property. So, what we want to do here is that we want to start off with what is going to be a very nice program to solve part of the problem of it’s obscurity by putting a sign and the sign square footage is not any greater than what is allowed by ordinance; we just want to get it up in the air a bit to enhance the visibility. Therefore we will satisfy the public safety issue and some way or another try to overcome the hardship that we have there. Any questions?


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 18 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was 2 written responses received voicing objection. Copies in file.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: I will agree that the existing sign is ugly. However, I have a major problem with considering a variance request 3 times that of the code. The height permitted is 5 foot and you want 15 feet.


Richard Walter: We came with the 15 foot becuase it is the most allowable height that is in the ordinance. Many of the other business center signs about have the 15 foot height and that is based upon a business center. I can’t see if I am down at a 5 foot level that I am going to be visible or from 10 foot or anything. If we could go 30 foot I would appreciate it.


Chairman Harrington: Do I understand that the bulk of the problem is presented by the fact that the trees are now maturing and growing?


Richard Walter: That is a great deal of the problem. It is not just that but Big Al’s must be about 30 feet closer to the road so his building totally obscures the business which is a non-self-inflicted hardship I belelive, he is just to far back.


Chairman Harrington: Back to the trees, they are just going to keep on growing! So that 15 foot sign may do the sign for you this year, but perhaps not further on down the road.


Richard Walter: I have a great concern about that.


Chairman Harrington: So do we.


Richard Walter: I was talking with the people here at the City a great deal about that today to try to find out what we have within the ordinance that would require any kind of pruning and maintainence. In Walled Lake and in Ann Arbor there are ordinances which require the placement of trees and they also recognize that they are going to start maturing and obscurring businesses, so they allow such things as pruning the trees at a 14 foot height. We can’t find anything like that in your ordinance and the tree czar is on jury duty so we are going to deal with that in the future.


Member Baty: You could always trim the lower branches.


Richard Walter: You have to look at it from the point of view that coming up from the south we are going to have better visibility than from the north regardless. I am concerned that even with trimming the lower branches you are still going to have trunk size that gets bigger, you have berming there, you have a fence there. If I could find a better way.........the best way would be for you to allow me to put a big old sign over the whole Novi Road with an arrow pointing down but my wife says you won’t go with that.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Where are you proposing the new sign? Where is that in reference to the existing sign?


Richard Walter: We are going to tear out the existing sign. It is going to have the same setback as any ground sign is concerned. It may be in the same place or it may go closer to the corner; it might be better off in the landscaped area there and the driveway. In other words to answer your question we haven’t fully decided. I thought I knew a month ago, but we are talking different ideas now.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think that a lot of determination for the variance request is going to depend upon where you place the sign.


Richard Walter: We are not asking for any request for a variance to bring it any closer to the property line or the normal setback. We are talking and I think that the best place to put it is right where it is at. Then I will have little bit more visibility as far as the obscurity of those trees are concerned, especially the ones to the north.


Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: Is the only thing that he would need for what he is proposing the height variance?


Alan Amolsch: Yes.


Richard Walter: We are also not proposing any wall signs because they wouldn’t be useful. Also the comment from that couple about the urban thing; I think that what we are proposing here falls right in line with wanting to enhance urban planning here. I saw that letter and I made a comment to Nancy that I know some Building Officials in the City of Dearborn that would be very upset by the tone of that letter. I think that what we are going to do is a marked enhancement of the area.


Chairman Harrington: I would think that you would be interested in doing that whether you did or didn’t get a variance. I couldn’t agree more that it is an ugly sign. I think that is an example of what Mr. and Mrs. Coulter are talking about; unsightly and ill though out urban development. I think the existing sign exactly demonstrates that but I don’t think that you need a variance to fix it. I can’t support a variance in this case. There is no hardship. I think that the sign is visible. I don’t think that the 15 foot pole sign is anything other than a temporary fix and what it really is, is a marketing device. It is not an identification or location device and I cannot support a variance in this case.


Member Brennan: I concur. There is more to be gained through the improvement of the property probably than the sign. This car wash has been there since at least 1978 becuase I got stuck in it on the day that we got married; so I know exactly where this car wash is. I think that the property will look very nice. I like your new sign. I would like to see you keep it at 5 foot.


Richard Walter: Let me ask you this question. We are not really saying that there is a hardship as far as visiblity of the sign because that is the purpose of the sign to be visible. I think that the hardship is in the land. I think that is what we proved here in that the building is setback and other development and not just the trees, like I said Big Al’s building is placed in such a way that it obscures the building entirely. I think that satisifies the hardship requirement, doesn’t it and we are just using the sign for........


Moved by Member Brennan.


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried




Case No 96-021


Continuation of case filed by Glenda’s Market requesting an extension of the variance that was granted on April 4, 1995 to allow Glenda’s Market to do busines as it is currently siturated. This variance expired on December 31, 1995. Glenda’s wishes to open for business at the end of April 1996. This case has been tabled to the July 9, 1996 Meeting allowing Glenda’s to continue to do business.



Case No. 96-064


Donald Samhat, representing Glenda’s Market, is requesting variances to allow the expansion and relocation of a nonconforming building and use on site at 40799 Grand River Avenue. The present use of about two thirds of subject site for building and seasonal outdoor storage and display is a nonconforming use. Outdoor storage of plant materials is not permitted in an NCC District.


Chris Cagle was present and duly sworn.


Chairman Harrington: Are you speaking to both matters?


Chris Cagle: At this time, yes. I would like to obviously address Case No. 96-021 regarding the extension of the variance. As far as Donald Samhat, my attorney, who is going to represent us in 96-064, we would like to at this point to table that to the next available agenda if possible. We are to recieve site plan approval to come in front of this Board for a variance on this project. The Meeting of the other night was adjourned by lack of electricity. We do have recommendations from all associates visiting our project, Brandon Roger, JCK, Traffic and fire.


Chairman Harrington: Let me see if I can summarize. Regarding "064" you are requesting that the Board table this to the August Meeting, the reason being that you have not received final site approval from the Planning Commission. Correct?


Chris Cagle: Correct.


Chairman Harrington: Any you would like to come back to us, I presume, with that approval in hand before we consider those matters. Correct?


Chris Cagle: I would appreciate that.


Chairman Harrington: Normally we don’t have any problems with tabling under those circumstances but is there anyone in the audience who has come here tonight that would like to place any comments on the records regarding this matter? There being nothing from the audience, Board Members do we have a problem tabling this matter until next month?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: You are talking about just "064"? I don’t have a problem.

Chairman Harrington: By acclamation that will be tabled until next month and placed on the agenda at that time. Please address us on 96-021.


Chris Cagle: Regarding the variance we would like to continue doing business as we have shown diligence. I would like to assume that we would have final site plan approval in front of this Board tonight; unfortunately due to lack of electricity caused us not to have that in front of you.


Chris Cagle: We have, like I said, and I would be glad to show you tonight an acceptance letter from Brandon Rogers and Associates, JCK, Oakland County Road Commission, Fire Department and traffic with Rod Arroyo. Basically we have to go in front of the Planning Commission for that final site plan approval and we have a clean and grub application into the City as of now. We would like to submit building application forms and site plan, but we have to have final site plan approval to get a building permit.


Chairman Harrington: Mr. Cagle, what you are telling us is that you are almost there, you are almost over that final hurdle where we can vote on your variances but because of the electrical power outage you are unable to come to us with Planning Commission approval in pocket and during the interim period of time between now and August you would like to continue in business on that site; as you have been continuously for a period of years. True?


Chris Cagle: True.




There was no audience participation.




Steve Cohen: The Planning Department is recommending approval to the Planning Commission for the final site plan. Thus, if the Planning Commission approves the final site plan it will be contingent upon variances being approved.


Don Saven: The comments will be next month.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I want to commend the petitioner that we are getting to the point that we wanted to be a long time ago. I know that there has been struggles and everything but I am glad to see that we are finally getting to that point.


Member Bauer: I don’t think that we should have a problem for one month.


Moved by Member Bauer,

Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried




Chairman Harrington: The only matter that I would bring before the Board was a suggestion that I heard, which I think is a good one, and I think it was attributed to Mr. Brennan; is that Ordinance Review is apparently is running light on the docket (or at least that is rumor) and it seems to me that the only time we really interface with Ordinance Review is when we make our occasional comments on a sporadic basis that there are certain matters that we think that they ought to take a look at and I am not sure that there is any formal follow through that has been put in place. I would suggest that between now and the next Meeting, if Board Members have particular items that they think are appropriate for Ordinance Review if they could communicate those to me and I would try to put something in writing that I would share with the Board next month in terms of those issues of concern. There are a number of them that have come in front of us over the months or the years and for example; the home business/home occupation ordinance or the prohibition thereof; the issue of outdoor storage or outdoor display that we talked about tonight, if there is any sense that is something that Ordinance Review ought to take a look at. The issue, of perhaps, putting some definition of what is a temporary sign? Or other matters that the Board may feel would be of guidance to our community out there. So, my suggestion is to get a hold of me between now and next month to share suggestions or concerns with me and we will try to do them in an organized fashion and we will try to "bird dog" a little bit the Ordinance Review to see if they interested in our ideas. I think that a lot of the issues that come in front of us are appropriate for Ordinance revision.

Member Bauer: I would hope that they could get through them; because right now they are lost and almost gone forever.


Chairman Harrington: Who is?


Member Bauer: The Implementation Committee.


Steve Cohen: I have taken over the responsibility from Greg and we have 8 items on the docket right now that we are trying to get through.


Chairman Harrington: Are you telling us that you are over-loaded and that you don’t need more matters on your docket.


Steve Cohen: We would like more items and we might be able to get them done. It won’t or it may not happen right of way but we will eventually get to it.





The Meeting was adjourned at 10 p.m.








Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan

Recording Secretary