Barton Hills Village, Michigan

shim image News

April 17, 2006



April 17, 2006

The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order by President Laporte at 6:03 PM at the Village Hall.

ROLL CALL Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell, Perry and Wilkes; Atty. Lillich, Asst. Treas. Redies and Supt. Esch; BHMC President Bultman, resident Maria Paluszny, L. Poley representative Lauren Myers and associate, Police Officer Elizabeth McGuire and associates. Absent: None.

800 MHZ PRESENTATION A presentation was given by Pittsfield Township Deputy Director of Police Services Elizabeth McGuire, Charter Township of Ypsilanti Fire Chief Larry Morabito, Ann Arbor Charter Township Fire Chief Rick Ericson and Huron Valley Ambulance representative Craig Swenson regarding the millage vote on Monday, May 2, 2006. Washtenaw County is requesting funding for an improved communications system that would enable county police, fire and ambulance personnel to talk to each other without going through a variety of dispatchers. Rather than continue with the four systems currently in use, the county would partner with the State of Michigan to use their digital 800 MHz communications system. The cost would be about $32 million over a 10-year period.

PUBLIC HEARINGS The Public Hearing for the Proposed Zoning Amendment was convened by President Laporte at 6:21 PM. Ms. Laporte explained that the proposed amendment would add a definition of "building height" and change the maximum height limitations. Public Comment:

--This is really not a change but a clarification where the current Zoning Ordinance is silent on the method for determining height. It is a good proposal, since the stated heights, particularly the 15-foot limit on garages, significantly limit the styles of architecture that could be constructed under the current ordinance.

--BHMC President Bultman stated that the BHMC Board of Directors gave unanimous support to this proposed amendment at their most recent meeting.

There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed at 6:23 PM.

The Public Hearing for the Zoning Appeal was convened by President Laporte at

6:23 PM. Ms. Laporte stated that an appeal had been submitted from four BHV Trustees, objecting to the method used by the Zoning and Planning Administrator to determine if the Probst/Klein house under construction at 280 Barton North Drive complied with the height requirements of the BHV Zoning Ordinance. Public Comment:

--The decision being appealed was clearly presented in the Barton Bulletin, but no explanation was given as to the alternatives available.

There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed at 6:27 PM.

The Public Hearing for the Variance Application was convened by President Laporte at 6:27 PM. The application was submitted by Louis Probst/Katherine Klein for variance from Section 5.03(d) (maximum height 35') of the BHV Zoning Ordinance to allow construction of a home with a roof height of 37'6" at 280 Barton North Drive. There being no public comment, the public hearing was closed at 6:29 PM.


MOTION Mrs. MacKrell moved that the minutes of the March 20, 2006 Trustees meeting be approved as printed. Mr. Lindstrom seconded; the motion carried.

FINANCE Mrs. Redies read the cash balances as of April 17, 2006:

Cash Balances

General Fund

Checking Account $ 3,137

Savings 592,006

Total General Fund $595,143

Public Improvement Reserve Fund

Savings $139,972

Motor Vehicle Highway Fund

Savings $106,472


Bank One Govt. Trust Account $ 307,070

Bank One CD 100,000

Bank of Ann Arbor 121,057

Ann Arbor Commerce Bank CD 109,776

United Bank & Trust Washtenaw 100,547

Flagstar Bank CD 100,000

Total Savings $ 838,450

Mrs. Redies noted that a new CD has been purchased, so $500,000 of the total $838,450 in savings is covered by insurance. The new CD earns 5.28% interest over a period of 181 days. Also, the swimming pool has been added to the BHV insurance policy at no additional charge. Mrs. Redies distributed the April 17, 2006 Financial Report.

MOTION Mr. Al-Awar moved that the fourth quarter cash disbursements be approved (See Aux. Book X D). Mr. Lindstrom seconded; the motion carried.

The Board of Directors meeting was set aside at 6:36 PM.


The Board of Zoning Appeals was convened at 6:36 PM at the Village Hall to hear the appeal of the Zoning and Planning Administrator's decision concerning the roof height of the house being constructed at 280 Barton North Drive, owned by Louis Probst/ Katherine Klein. Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell, Perry and Wilkes; Atty. Lillich, Asst. Treas. Redies and Supt. Esch; BHMC President Bultman, resident Maria Paluszny, L. Poley representative Lauren Myers and associate. Absent: None.

Zoning and Planning Administrator Perry stated that his decision on the roof height was based on what he felt was the more defendable position of measuring height in the same way virtually all surrounding municipalities measure, given that the BHV Zoning Ordinance is silent on this point. Mr. Boddie gave the reason for the appeal as the fact that changing the method that has been used consistently over the past 10-12 years effectively changes the actual roof height allowed, which becomes a change in the ordinance without proper community input. He expressed concern for the precedent that may be set if the decision stands, adding that the midpoint method allows for greater variation in roof height and does not establish a definite limit. Further discussion included:

--There have not been any homes constructed in recent years that were proposed to exceed the height limit so this issue has not been discussed.

--If the measuring method is changed from contact grade/roof edge to something else, then basements need to be considered as the height may actually be greater.

--The proposed zoning amendment doesn't set limits for turrets, towers and other structures. This should be discussed.

--It would be better to address the Probst/Klein house as a variance and consider changing the Zoning Ordinance without the pressure of a project waiting for decision.

MOTION Mr. Boddie moved to grant the appeal, which would overturn the Zoning and Planning Administrator's interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance as applied to the Probst/Klein construction project. Mr. Al-Awar seconded. The motion carried with Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Lindstrom and MacKrell voting yes; Trustees Laporte, Perry and Wilkes voting no.

The Board of Zoning Appeals then heard discussion on the application for variance submitted by Louis Probst/Katherine Klein, requesting a variance from Section 5.03(d) of the BHV Zoning Ordinance (maximum height 35') to construct a home with a roof height of 37'6" at 280 Barton North Drive. Lauren Myers, representing Mr. Probst/Ms, Klein, distributed drawings indicating the impact of the currently approved roof pitch on second floor ceiling heights and egress windows. Discussion included:

--The architect was aware of the height limit when designing the home.

--The first floor is 2 feet above grade level--if it were at grade the height difference would be only inches.

--The construction has progressed to framing the second level, but the trusses in question haven't been ordered.

--The question of practical difficulty is less stringent than undue hardship and cases based on architectural/aesthetic concerns have been upheld in court.

--Will this set a precedent of adapting too easily to owner discomfort with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and not taking the ordinance seriously?

--Section 10.03 sets forth two situations when a variance may be needed--by reason of exceptional topographical conditions, or by other reasons that make it difficult to carry out the strict letter of the ordinance. This gives a larger measure of flexibility to consider a particular situation on its unique merits.

--Other aspects of this project weigh in favor of the variance, including the nature of the lot, size of the house, lack of impact on neighbors and the small difference being requested.

--The neighbors to the west (Kerry) have phoned the Assistant Clerk twice to say they have no objections to this project.

--The owner is entitled to build a house of this size on this lot, and should be able to have reasonable ceiling heights. This is a minor departure from the ordinance in order to have an aesthetically pleasing design.

--The architect stated that the lower height would not be a practical design--there hasn't been any sneaking in of new plans.

--If this variance is granted, then the Zoning Ordinance is amended, this case will have no value as precedent for the new standards. What the code says at the time is what is enforceable.

Mr. Lindstrom called the question (seconded by Mr. Wilkes and carried).

MOTION Mr. Lindstrom moved to approve the request for variance from Section 5.03(d) to allow construction of a house with a roof height of 37'6" at the Probst/Klein property at 280 Barton North Drive, citing the following factors as establishing practical difficulty:

--the small amount of difference between the required height limit and the requested height,

--the lack of adverse impact on or objection from neighboring property owners,

--the size of the house in relation to the size of the lot,

--the situating of the house on the lot with relatively little of the house visible from Barton North Drive,

--the difficulties that would occur in relation to second story ceiling heights and egress windows, and

--the adverse aesthetic implications of the lower roof height.

Mr. Al-Awar seconded. The motion carried with Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell and Perry voting yes; Trustees Bogat, Butterwick and Wilkes voting no.

The Board of Zoning Appeals meeting was adjourned and the Board of Trustees meeting resumed at 7:40 PM.

PROPOSED ZONING AMENDMENT Zoning and Planning Administrator Perry summarized the proposed amendment as providing a method for measuring height, noting that some architectural elements such as turrets are excepted. He added that first floor rather than grade was proposed as the bottom measuring point to provide a more consistent starting point, although that would also affect overall height. Discussion included:

--If the lowest level is just under 4', total height could go closer to 47' than the stated limit of 42'. That's too much of a change from the original 35'.

--The intent of the amendment is not to double the size of houses, but to provide a specific method of measurement. This is a starting point for discussion.

--Towers and turrets need to be addressed more specifically.

--The garage height limit of 15' is too low--it only allows a minimum of architectural styles at that height.

--If the discussion is tabled until the June 2006 meeting it will allow more time for comments, which could be collected by Mr. Perry.

--If the proposed amendment is significantly changed, it needs to be republished.

--Republishing is worth the effort and expense--this is a controversial issue and should be clearly presented to the residents.

--Could Mr. Perry's data of surrounding communities' codes be reviewed? Mr. Perry responded that the maximum in most other communities would be considered too high for BHV. He felt that 30' from the first floor to the midpoint would be about right, which would result in an overall limit of 36-37' if the first floor was not at grade level.

--Thinking about specific numbers should start from the maximum height desired and work backwards to what the lower measuring point would be.

MOTION Mr. Boddie moved that the discussion on the Proposed Zoning Amendment be tabled to the June 19, 2006 Board of Trustees meeting. Mrs. MacKrell seconded; the motion carried.

ZONING Mr. Perry reported that the proposed second-story addition to the Martens home at 747 Country Club Road was approved for zoning compliance. Reply from Ann Arbor Township Building Inspector Gary Dresselhouse regarding the apartment over the garage indicates that the applicable township zoning ordinance from 1957 allowed "domestic employees" as an acceptable accessory use, so the apartment continues as an existing non-conforming use.

BUILDINGS Mr. Lindstrom referred to his report distributed on April 14, 2006, stating that the VAC Committee continues to study three possible sites and has interviewed four professionals as possible consultants. The committee recommends hiring InSite Design to consider the pros and cons of each proposed site and provide recommendations with supporting rationale; additionally to consult with the committee and the residents at a public forum. This company was chosen because of its environmental sensitivity, experience with Olmsted designs and emphasis on enhancing natural beauty. It was recommended by resident/realtor Ed Surovell, with previous work including the Ann Arbor Public Libraries and the Colton home at 325 Barton Shore Dr.

MOTION Mr. Lindstrom moved that InSite Design be hired for input and guidance on the selection of a site for the proposed Village Administration Center in an amount up to $2500, pending review of the contract by President Laporte and BHV legal counsel. Mr. Wilkes seconded; the motion carried.

Discussion then focused on the schedule for the next few weeks including what might be presented at the Annual Meeting in May. It was decided that the BHV and BHMC Boards would meet jointly on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 at 6:00 PMto hear the report of the VAC Committee at that time. The committee hopes to receive the report from InSite in early May and meet to discuss the findings prior to May 16. It is anticipated that the VAC Committee will be able to make a report on the proposed sites to the residents at the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 and receive input from those in attendance.

LONG RANGEPLANNING Mrs. MacKrell requested that articles in the Barton Bulletin regarding septic pumping be more specific to encourage pumping at least every four years as stated in Ordinance 21. She also gave notice of the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission meeting on May 2, 2006 at 7 PMin City Council Chambers when the North East Area Transportation Plan will be addressed. Closing of the M14/Barton Drive ramp, possibly for a six-month trial period, is part of the Plan. Mrs. MacKrell especially suggested encouraging friends and business owners from Ann Arbor City to attend in support of keeping the ramp open. Mrs. MacKrell was asked to represent the BHV Board of Trustees at the meeting.

PERSONNEL Ms. Laporte had no report.

RECREATION Ms. Bogat will work on arrangements for a June BHV Picnic.

ROADS Mr. Al-Awar reported that paving quotes are being received but are not firm yet due to fluctuating prices for asphalt. He asked if the Board wished to continue the practice of paving about 300' beyond the West Gate at a cost of about $4500. The property is the responsibility of Washtenaw County and was paved in the past for safety reasons. It was agreed that this should be continued, especially if Motor Vehicle Highway Funds could be used.

MOTION Mr. Lindstrom moved to pave the portion of road beyond the West Gate as described by the Roads Committee; further to ascertain if permission can be given from the State of Michigan to use funds from the BHV Motor Vehicle Highway Fund for the paving. If this is not allowed, BHV funds will be used for the paving. Mr. Boddie seconded; the motion carried.

Mr. Al-Awar stated that Mr. Esch had conducted a radar survey of traffic speed on Underdown Road as requested by the Trustees (February 20, 2006). Results from testing on March 17, April 12 and April 13, 2006 indicate top speeds of 25, 27 and 29 mph respectively with the highest speed being a public school bus. One motorist stopped for driving 27 mph in the posted 15 mph zone replied that state law set the lowest speed limit enforceable at 25 mph. Based on these results, Mr. Al-Awar recommended installing "Slow--Children" signs along Underdown Road since there is not adequate distance to install another speed table in the area.

SECURITY Mr. Butterwick sent letters to 17 BHV residents encouraging removal of trees that threaten the utility lines, setting forth the reasons for doing so. Regarding the earlier 800 MHz presentation, it was agreed that brochures provided by Washtenaw County could be distributed to residents with the Barton Bulletin but no formal position on the millage request would be proposed by the Trustees since only one side of the issue was included in the presentation.

VEHICLES/EQUIPMENT Mr. Al-Awar reported one of the BHV employees expressed interest in buying the old pick-up truck. Atty. Lillich stated he knew of no reason that would prevent such a sale. It was agreed that notice would be posted on the bulletin board in the Village Hall advising that bids would be received for the sale of the truck for a 15-day period.

WATER Mr. Wilkes distributed a written report, noting that two water main breaks had been repaired, and that no word had yet been received from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality concerning replacement Well #1.

BHMC LIAISON Ms. Laporte was unable to attend the April meeting. BHMC President Bultman relayed BHMC concern about the pool situation, requesting the following:

--that BHMC receive a copy of the insurance provided by BHV as mentioned earlier,

--that a letter be obtained from the presumably defunct Barton Swim Club clearly stating their dissolution with no intent to reestablish the corporation in the future, and

--that the pool area be clearly marked as closed with "No Trespassing" signs posted as soon as possible.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT Mr. Butterwick stated that lightning rods have been affixed to four landmark trees in the maintenance area. Information concerning garlic mustard will be distributed to residents this week. Notification for the deer management project was discussed briefly; it was suggested that those residents wanting to be notified be contacted for ideas on how to do so. Ms. Bogat left

FINANCE Mr. Boddie noted that the amended budget was distributed earlier in the meeting, and that the Finance Committee would continue to discuss two items: the $10,000 contingency and the BHMC budget.

DTE FRANCHISE Atty. Lillich had no new report concerning the expected DTE Energy letter on liability.

WIRELESS WASHTENAW Atty. Lillich referred to his previous communications to the Trustees regarding this issue. It was agreed that there was little interest in BHV participation in the project.

MOTION Mr. Al-Awar moved that participation in the Wireless Washtenaw project as proposed by Washtenaw County be declined at this time. Mr. Boddie seconded; the motion carried.

POOL Ms. Laporte had nothing new to report but would include the issue on the June 19, 2006 Trustee meeting agenda.

PROPERTY OWNERSHIP Ms. Laporte has requested a formal opinion from Atty. Reading regarding BHV/BHMC property ownership and expects to discuss this issue at the June 2006 Trustee meeting.

NEW BUSINESS Mr. Al-Awar received an inquiry from AT&T regarding their equipment at the water tower and the question of permits in case they wanted to construct a building for the equipment. He replied that the Board would need a specific proposal to consider.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:17 PM.

Jan Esch, Assistant Clerk