Barton Hills Village, Michigan

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December 11, 2006




December 11, 2006

The meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) was called to order by President Laporte at 6:07 PM at the Village Hall.

ROLL CALL Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom and MacKrell. Absent: Trustees Perry and Wilkes.

Others attending: Atty. Reading, Asst. Treas. Redies, Supt. Esch, BHMC Vice President Kelly, residents Zaki Alawi, Rose Bauer and Amy Conger, and architect Charles Bultman.

APPLICATION FOR VARIANCE 320 JUNIPER LANE (postponed from November 13, 2006)

Public Comment: Mr. Bultman stated that there have not been many variances granted in BHV until the last year or two, adding that none of the approved variances had conditions attached. In the case of the variance request for 320 Juniper Lane, Mr. Bultman and his client Mr. Alawi have responded to the requests of the BZA by offering a design that incorporates the elements of concern to the Board, including cottage design, small size and position on the lot. Mr. Bultman has made the design available to the neighbors and offered to answer any questions they may have. The client is willing to go another step and have drawings developed for the project if the Board can give reasonable assurance that the drawings will be approved. Ms. Bogat arrived

Mr. Alawi added that if the BZA was hesitant to approve the variance because they were not sure this design would actually be built, he would invest in having working drawings made that would be 99% the same as what is being submitted at this meeting (he couldn’t guarantee 100% because some things might change a bit). However, Mr. Alawi was hesitant to finance the drawings if the Board could not offer some assurance that the plan wouldn’t be rejected after the drawings were submitted.

Ms. Bauer (326 Juniper Lane) stated that she had looked at the plans and that they were OK if they were developed without any surprises.

Ms. Conger (321 Juniper Lane) stated that the plans were a pleasant surprise. She thought they were restrained and addressed the concerns of the neighbors, especially in regard to preservation of the view to the south. She added that the plans represent a reasonable compromise, but that she would like some assurance that the plans won’t be changed.

Ms. Kelly related that the BHMC Board had seen the plans (preliminary review only) and were impressed. The replacement house as proposed would encroach less in the set back than the existing house and would be a bit farther away from the Izenberg house (312 Juniper Lane) to the north. The groundwater flow would be improved by the landscaping proposed for the area now paved. The overall impression of BHMC is that many things were taken into consideration, the plan proposed a desirable cottage-like appearance and they were in support of the project.

There being no further public comment, Ms. Laporte closed the Public Comment portion and opened BZA discussion. Comments from the Board included:

--This is a positive step, but it seems the BZA is being treated differently than the BHMC Board in asking for more assurances.

--The BHMC Board has different responsibilities—they can’t grant variances but they can ask more questions about design details. However, the design can’t be built if the set back variance isn’t granted.

--The BZA is being asked for approval while being given less information than the BHMC Board requires to give their approval. That doesn’t seem fair.

--The BZA is acting according to their written rules—the Zoning Ordinance only requires a sketch, not a detailed plan.

--It is not the responsibility of the BZA to address exterior materials but to deal with things like with building envelope and height.

--There are two aspects of this project. First, the demolition of the existing house removes the grandfathering of the front set back. Second, the lot is a non-conforming lot, since it is smaller than the one acre required in the Zoning Ordinance. That makes the plan subject to more consideration than just the front set back.

--The question of full drawings vs. sketch required by the Zoning Ordinance should be revisited, since there seems to be discomfort with that, but we have to abide by what is currently written in the ordinance.

--The Board seems to support the proposal itself—is there anyone who objects to the placement of the front wall in the set back? If not, then are there other restrictions we should be considering?

--The applicant has responded to the Board’s requests and provided exactly what we asked for. We shouldn’t turn around and ask for more.

--The actual variance request is for a piece on the north end of the front wall facing Juniper Lane where the new garage will encroach in the set back by 9 ˝’ for about 30’. There are no other set back encroachments.

--There are other details that aren’t shown on the plan that we should know about. For example, there is no chimney. Will there be one? How high? Mr. Bultman responded by showing where on the roofline the chimney will be and apologizing for forgetting that particular element that should have been on the drawing.

--There seems to be support for the plan. The question comes when we say it will be built 99% in accordance with what is here. My interpretation of that 99% may be vastly different than someone else’s. This is clearly a contentious issue and it is best to be as specific as we can to remove the contention.

--If we grant the variance we have little recourse if the project is built significantly different than what is expected. The variance gives great freedom if it is not specific.

--This is a more complex project than others that have dealt with variances recently, since it is an entirely new house. The applicant shouldn’t feel that the Board is picking on him, but this is a big project.

--Can we offer the applicant some assurance that we won’t keep adding more and more requirements if he responds to what we ask now? Mr. Al-Awar arrived

Ms. Laporte asked if the members of the Zoning Committee (Al-Awar, Butterwick, Perry) had any comments. Mr. Butterwick was uncomfortable speaking on Mr. Perry’s behalf. Mr. Al-Awar stated that he had talked with Mr. Perry at length, and that Mr. Perry indicated he would support granting the variance request if it was specific and conditional. Mr. Al-Awar added that his own feeling was not to burden residents with conditions that add unnecessary expense, but also not to allow residents to infringe on the rights of other residents. He would like to see more detail, feeling that clarity is always better. Ms. Laporte noted that the drawings would need to be done for BHMC review, so it was more a matter of timing than additional expense if there was reasonable assurance that the drawings would lead to approval of the variance.

Mr. Boddie called the question (Boddie/Lindstrom/P).

Motion Mr. Lindstrom offered a motion, but after discussion agreed to withdraw it in favor of the motion made by Mr. Boddie. Mr. Boddie moved that since the Board of Zoning Appeals is supportive of the preliminary drawings submitted on December 11, 2006 by Zaki Alawi for a replacement house at 320 Juniper Lane, it is the sense of the Board that if more detailed drawings were submitted that are consistent with the preliminary plans in placement, size and character of the house, the Board of Zoning Appeals is likely to approve the request for variance relating to those plans. Mr. Butterwick seconded; the motion carried.

Motion Mrs. MacKrell moved to postpone consideration of the application for variance submitted by Zaki Alawi of 320 Juniper Lane to an unspecified date in the future when Mr. Alawi would submit additional information. Mr. Boddie seconded; the motion carried.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES Mr. Al-Awar moved that the minutes of the November 13, 2006 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting be approved as printed. Mrs. MacKrell seconded; the motion carried.

AFFIRMATION OF PREVIOUS MINUTES Mr. Boddie moved that since minutes of previous Board of Zoning Appeals meetings were approved in the context of minutes from Barton Hills Village Board of Trustees meetings, the minutes of Board of Zoning Appeals meetings held on March 20, 2006, April 17, 2006 and May 16, 2006 be affirmed and approved as now printed as separate minutes (no content change). Mr. Al-Awar seconded; the motion carried.


The meeting was adjourned at 7:10 PM

Jan Esch, Assistant Clerk     Approved 02/19/07