Barton Hills Village, Michigan

shim image News

November 12, 2007




November 12, 2007

The meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) was called to order by President Laporte at 6:04 PM at the Village Hall.

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

Others attending: Atty. Reading, ZPA Perry, Asst. Treas. Redies, Supt. Esch, BHMC President Bultman, BHMC Atty. Lloyd, resident/applicants Paul and Karen Izenberg with their architect Betsy Williams and residents Zaki Alawi, Chris Bell and Sharbyn Pleban.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES Mr. Lindstrom moved that the minutes of the June 18, 2007 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting be approved as printed. Mr. Wilkes seconded; the motion carried.


ZONING AND PLANNING ADMINISTRATOR Mr. Perry distributed copies of Section 9.02 of the BHV Zoning Ordinance, explaining that the application before the BZA seeks variance from this section for continuation of a non-conforming structure. Paul and Karen Izenberg, owners of property at 312 Juniper Lane, began to repair the boathouse at that address, but found the structure unsafe and demolished the main wooden level of the structure. Repairs were made to the lower concrete foundation with plans for rebuilding the main level when the Izenbergs were advised by Building Inspector Dresselhouse that they should apply for zoning compliance. ZPA Perry added that the boathouse is a permitted accessory structure but does not conform to current standards of set backs and height limitations. It was established by Walter Esch that the boathouse was in existence in 1949, well before adoption of the Zoning Ordinance. The Izenbergs are seeking variance from Section 9.02 which addresses non-conforming structures, rather than the specific set back and height requirements. Since this is a dimensional rather than a use issue, the standard is practical difficulty and the BZA is asked to consider the application based on the spirit of the ordinance and substantial justice. It was noted that the pathway shown on some maps between 312 and 320 Juniper Lane was divided evenly between those two properties [In 1987]; further that a portion of the property may be in another jurisdiction. Mr. Al-Awar arrived

PUBLIC HEARING The Public Hearing regarding the application submitted by Paul and Karen Izenberg, 312 Juniper Lane, was convened at 6:17 PM. Mr. Izenberg was invited to present the application and replied that he and his wife Karen have lived at their present address about four years. The boathouse was in existence when they purchased the home and has been used for storage of small boats in the lower level. Since the structure was in need of maintenance, the Izenbergs planned to replace the windows and add insulation. However, when the window work was started it was discovered that the wooden structure had been severely damaged by termites and black ants, with no structural integrity to support the new windows. The Izenbergs and their architect felt the structure was unsafe and beyond repair, so it was torn down to the existing concrete foundation. An existing deck and pathway on the south side along the property line between 312 and 320 Juniper Lane were also torn down and some reinforcement was added to the foundation. The Izenbergs desire to rebuild the main level of the boathouse in the same size and style as the original structure, but with access only on the north side of the building to avoid any encroachment over the lot line. The boathouse will have electricity but no plumbing and will be used as recreation and storage space but not as living space. The Izenbergs are seeking approval for the boathouse so as to have a safe and attractive structure similar to the original. Letters from neighbors Chris Bell/Amy Conger (321 Juniper Lane) and Sam/Karen Edwards (304 Juniper Lane) were submitted; a letter from Rose Bauer (326 Juniper Lane) is expected (Mrs. Bauer is currently hospitalized).

Zaki Alawi, owner of the adjoining property at 320 Juniper Lane, was invited to comment. He stated that he did not object in principle since the boathouse was originally there and the rebuilt structure would be an improvement, but had two concerns. First, he only received the drawings yesterday and will need time to consult with his architect concerning potential impact on his own construction plans. Second, the building will be very close to the property line and he needs time to examine the site and the vegetation to fully understand the situation. Mr. Alawi stated that he was sympathetic to the request of the Izenbergs but would like additional time to study the issues involved.

BHMC Liaison Bultman stated that the BHMC Directors discussed this project in concept at their last meeting, with general support voiced for the charm and appropriateness of boathouses on Barton Pond. In this case the BHMC Board encourages the two neighbors to have a written agreement concerning their mutual lot line and interests. Mr. Bultman added that as a BHV resident he questioned the application of Section 9.02, feeling that the boathouse no longer exists as a non-conforming structure and should be considered under other sections of the ordinance. Speaking as Mr. Alawi’s architect, Mr. Bultman thought the boathouse would be a positive aspect of the landscape that would not be in the direct view of Mr. Alawi’s home, and that it seemed appropriate to request more time since December is not usually considered a construction season.

Mr. Alawi asked if there were any photos or drawings of the original structure; it was noted that there were two photos taken from Barton Pond but they were of limited use. Mr. Izenberg reiterated that no part of the boathouse extends over the lot line, adding that the current zoning requirement for a 20 foot setback from the water’s edge would make little sense for a boathouse and that the size/configuration of his lot limits his options. No photos/drawings were made since the original intent was not to tear the structure down. Rebuilding would result in a more attractive view than the remaining foundation as it now stands.

Chris Bell (321 Juniper Lane) spoke in support of the Izenbergs of behalf of his family and also on behalf of neighbor Rose Bauer (326 Juniper Lane). There being no further comment, the public hearing was closed and the BZA meeting resumed at 6:37 PM.

BZA DISCUSSION Mr. Perry stated that appropriate notice was sent to all parties and that he had emailed additional information to Mr. Alawi when it was submitted. He also stated that he and Atty. Reading had examined the BHV Zoning Ordinance carefully to determine the sections applicable to this situation. Mr. Perry reiterated that the appropriate standard for review is practical difficulties in carrying out the strict letter of the ordinance so that the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance is observed, public safety secured and substantial justice done. Board discussion included:

--Section 9.02 refers to 50% of replacement cost. Has cost been determined? Mr. Izenberg replied that he felt more than 50% of the structure still existed but that he hadn’t researched cost because he thought square footage was what was needed.

It was agreed that if the cost could be verified, the structure may not be over the 50% limit and would continue as a non-conforming use without the need for a variance.

--The applicants have the right to rebuild, but the plans seem to indicate a change in size. Architect Williams responded that in order to add insulation to the walls and still maintain an interior dimension of 8 feet, the walls would overhang the foundation by about 4 inches on each side.

--Section 9.02 refers to the 50% cost and also a 10% cost. What is the difference? The 10% refers to routine expense that may be needed to maintain a non-conforming structure (which cannot be substantially changed or improved without approval).

--Is there any structural encroachment onto Mr. Alawi’s property? There is an existing retaining wall that extends beyond the property line; the wall can be cut back. The building itself is within three feet of the property line. Other structures (dock and stairway) that were over the line have been removed and will not be rebuilt.

--Is BHMC approval still required? Yes.

--It seems there are three reasons to delay decision: 1) delay will allow for confirmation of the 50% cost question, 2) delay will allow more time for Mr. Alawi and his architect to envision how this structure may affect Mr. Alawi’s property, and 3) delay will give the two neighbors time to discuss the 4 inch overhang proposed for the building and any other issues of mutual concern. Will it pose a hardship to the applicants to wait a month?

Mr. Izenberg replied that with the foundation already established, they would work in the winter months as weather allowed. He was more concerned about estimating the costs for the 50% requirement and what that would entail.

--The Trustees expressed appreciation for the clarity and reasonable demeanor of those who spoke concerning this application.

Motion Mr. Boddie moved to table the request for a variance and that the Board of Zoning Appeals direct Zoning and Planning Administrator Randy Perry to determine whether cost of rebuilding the boathouse at 312 Juniper Lane owned by Paul and Karen Izenberg is less than fifty percent of the estimated replacement cost of the boathouse, as described in Section 9.02 of the Barton Hills Village Zoning Ordinance and whether any further action is required on the part of the Board of Zoning Appeals or the applicants relative to the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Al-Awar seconded; the motion carried.


Mr. Al-Awar moved the meeting be adjourned at 7:00 PM. Mr. Boddie seconded; the motion carried.

Jan Esch, Deputy Clerk     Approved 12/10/07