MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - On Wednesday evening the Zoning Board of Appeals turned down two separate applications requesting variances from the Meridian Township Code of Ordinances.
The first applicant requested a variance from Section 86-442 (f)(S)(a), Front yard. This part of the Code states that, "the front yard setback shall not be less than 20 feet from the street line." The applicant, William Ditty, wanted to build a 24' x 23' garage on the front side of the property in-between the house and road at 6143 Cottage Drive which is located in the RB (Single Family, High Density) zoning district and the Lake Lansing Residential Overlay District.
The garage would have ended 10' from the road making for a variance request of 10'. In October, 2017 Mr. Ditty had made a request for a 24' x 24' garage, a variance request of 11'. The Zoning Board rejected the 2017 request telling Mr. Ditty they would rather he bring back plans for a smaller garage. Unfortunately for Ditty, his new 24' x 23' plans were not reduced enough from the original to meet the Board's approval. The main cause for denial was the garage's proximity to the road, which the Board feared would make the area unsafe for pedestrian and motor traffic. Should Ditty revise his plans to make them smaller, approval from the board will be needed to rehear the case. Otherwise, Ditty would have to wait 1 year from Wednesday's meeting before being able to request a variance from the Code of Ordinances again.
The second major topic of Wednesday's meeting was a bit of a conundrum for the board. Prior Zoning Boards had failed to notice a house that had been built to close to the property line in the Bear Lakes subdivision and placed on a strangely angled lot. That house, 2569 Koala Drive, is currently owned by the Comparoni family. Their case to the Board for a variation from Ordinance was whether an addition to their home could be pushed 1' from the property line which would also include a window well extending into a common area by 2'. A feature unique to the Bear Lake Subdivision is the Kodiak Common area. An area that runs behind the lots which is technically owned by the subdivision, though it is maintained by the home owners. The Comparoni's had approval from the Bear Lakes Home Owner's Association to build into the common area. The Zoning Board took exception to the fact that the home was going to extend into a community area. It did not want to set the precedent of allowing an incorrectly placed home (albeit no fault of the Comparoni's) to extend into a common area. The Board worried a future resident may request a larger variation and a difficult property rights situation might develop. The request also failed to meet some of the Board's criteria for a variance, specifically whether the current home results in practical difficulties.
As Board member Carol Ohlrogge put it, "Do our criteria validate a reason for it? And I'm feeling like we can't be speculating. That we need to look at whats been offered to us and we need to call it as honestly and fairly as we can see it." As the Comparoni's addition was mainly to make their home more suited for hosting family and friends the board felt that that did not meet the practical difficulties criteria.