Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - February 11, 2009



February 11, 2009

On February 11, 2009, a regular meeting of the Chesterfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Township Hall located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield Twp., MI 48047.

1. CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Stepnak called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

2. ROLL CALL: Present: Marvin Stepnak, Chairman

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary Brian Scott DeMuynck, Township board liaison

Gerald Blake

James Klonowski

Absent: Carl Leonard, Vice-Chairman, excused

Robert Kohler, Planning Commission liaison


Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience. He commented on the fact that two members of the board were absent and that four positive votes would be required for the petition to be approved.

Mr. Klonowski asked if the petition would have to be republished in the paper.

Chairman Stepnak answered yes, that the petition would have to be republished.

4. ZBA PETITION # 2009-02: Pat Venditti for Country Style Bakery, 47565 Gratiot, Chesterfield, MI 48051. Requesting multiple variances of non-conforming uses to an existing retail building in the M-1 zoning district. For country style bakery at the above address.

Michael Venditti, representing Pasquale Venditti, Country Style Bakery, 47565 Gratiot, Chesterfield, MI 48051 addressed the board.

Petitioner asked that if he would pursue the matter tonight, would it be necessary to have four positive votes in order for this to pass? He asked if he did not have four positive votes, would the petition have to be republished with another $400 fee?

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner would not have to pay a $400 fee, there would just be a publishing fee and that would not be charged to the petitioner. He explained that before if the petitioner did not receive four positive votes, the petition would be tabled. However, the board would run into a rather sticky wicket problem if the vote was two to three; they really did not give the petitioner a firm decision aye or nay. Therefore for all intensive purposes it would be tabled. He concluded that the petitioner would need four positive votes yes or no. Therefore, if the board would hear the argument tonight and a decision is not made, it would have to be tabled to another meeting because he reiterated that the board could not move on the petition without four positive votes.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner had been in front of the board before and the only difference in the petition would be a deed restriction that was added. He asked the petitioner to explain that deed restriction to the board.

Petitioner stated that he came in front of the board before on the petition. He explained that the paperwork now includes an added deed restriction and unfortunately he did not have a copy of the deed restriction in front of him.

Mr. DeMuynck gave the petitioner his copy of the deed restriction.

Petitioner explained that the change in the deed restriction is in the third paragraph. He stated that the prior deed restriction stated that "when parcel B is transferred to a person other than Pasquale Venditti or the Venditti family, the residence would have to be torn down." That sentence has been removed and replaced with "when and if Parcel B is transferred to a person other than Pasquale or Mary Venditti by deed the residence will be torn down and eliminated and removed within thirty (30) days of the transfer by Deed." That would just lock his father and mother in and in the event something happens to them or they decide to go to Florida, the parcel would not be taken over by any other party, including himself or his brother and the home would have to be torn down.

Mr. Klonowski stated that the deed restriction was addressed to the Board of Trustees. He asked if the matter went before the Township Board.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that it had not gone before the Township Board.

Ms. Orewyler commented that the deed restriction should be address to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he spoke to the petitioner before the meeting and was told the person interested in purchasing the property was interested in keeping it as either a bakery or a party store.

There would still be 25 parking places for the business. He commented that he doesn’t think he has ever seen a party store or bakery with more than 25 cars in the parking lot. Therefore he does not really have a problem with it. Knowing the configuration of the land, he reviewed the paperwork and spoke to Mr. Saelens who sat on the ZBA prior to his tenure on this board. Mr. Saelens explained some of the things about the petition. He does not have a problem with it. The business has been in the Township for thirty some years. He knew the prior owners, the Monte’s, who sold the bakery to the Venditti's. He commented that the Venditti’s put an addition on the building when they purchased the bakery. He asked Petitioner if that was correct?

Petitioner answered that he thought the Monte’s built the addition to the bakery before it was sold to his parents.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that due to the configuration of the land, it is all commercial on Gratiot and there would not be any type of residential development on Gratiot in that area. The Venditti family has agreed that when either Pasquale or Mary Venditti move or if some other event happens, the house could never be used for a residence for anyone else and the home would be demolished. He does not have a problem with granting the variance.

Mr. Blake had no comments at the time.

Ms. Orewyler stated that the petition has been difficult for both the petitioner and the board. She appreciates the new deed restriction. She would also request that the petitioner’s father sign an affidavit stating that the home would never be rented out, whether he was there or not. Other than that stipulation, the petitioner brought the board what they wanted. She asked if petition is exactly the same and nothing other than the deed restriction has been changed?

Petitioner answered correct.

Ms. Orewyler stated that she had no other comments.

There were no public comments.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the board would like to makes sure that they do not create a residence and a building that would be out of the norm for developments in the area. They do not want the bakery to move on to a party store and the home be left there forever and rented out where it could turn into a blight issue. That has been the reason the board has been hesitant on the matter. However, the question would be has the petitioner offered a practical difficulty to the board.

The petitioner’s parents want to retire and move to Florida.

Petitioner stated that they just want to retire at this point.

Chairman Stepnak stated that one could argue the practical difficulty would be financial. However, aren’t most variances at least partially financial.

Ms. Orewyler stated that in her opinion the hardship would be that the house is too close to the bakery. That is the major problem with the petition. She does not want to harm the petitioner’s parents. She would like to see them retire and enjoy their retirement. She just does not want to create a problem further down the road.

Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioner if he thought his parents would agree to sign an affidavit stating that the home would never be rented out.

Petitioner answered that he did not think that would be a problem at all. He feels that their intentions would be to sell the bakery and retire. They already have a buyer, and in this economy that is almost unheard of. They probably would want to spend maybe two more years in their home and then they plan to build a new home. His father and mother are both 72 years old and they would like to live in a new home before they pass on. He does not see them living in the home too long after the bakery is sold.

Ms. Orewyler asked if his mother would like to down size the home so she does not have to keep up a home of that size?

Petitioner answered absolutely.

Mr. DeMuynck asked if the ZBA could stipulate that the part about not being able to rent out the home be added on?

Ms. Orewyler answered yes, the board could require the petitioner’s sign an affidavit to that effect.

Mr. Klonowski asked if the minutes would be enough?

Chairman Stepnak stated that they would require the petitioner to sign an affidavit in recordable form.

Petitioner reminded the board that the property is worth a lot more commercial than it would be to keep the home. After his parents move out of the home, the plan would be to demolish the home and sell the land as commercial property.

Mr. Klonowski asked what about the business end of it? Would the board be granting a variance for the parking and the setback?

Chairman Stepnak stated that the ZBA is only concerned with the petition that has been presented which would be for multiple variances of non-conforming uses to an existing retail building in the M-1 zoning district. He added that the board would basically be allowing the non-conforming use to continue on the property.

Mr. Klonowski stated that the property should be rezoned as commercial. He asked if the bakery would be able to operate with out being rezoned as commercial?

Chairman Stepnak answered yes it would be considered a non-conforming use. When the bakery was put there, the current requirements for drainage and parking were not in use.

Mr. Klonowski commented usually when anything changes hands and comes before Planning, the buyers have to update everything like building requirements and zoning.

Ms. Orewyler stated that would be up to the new owners.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the new owners would have to go in front of Planning. The problem would be that the business would not be able to comply to drainage requirements because they would have to rip everything up and that would then be an engineering problem. The petitioners would just like to split the property so the petitioner could sell the bakery parcel and retain the home for their use.

Ms. Orewyler asked because the petition mentions the parking spaces if it would be approved, would that decision be binding on Planning? The property is so big and she does not know how they could make it any larger without causing the property to be even more oddly shaped. At this point, the board would be okaying the number of parking spaces and the distance between the pole and the building. Therefore, the ZBA would be okaying those things. She does not feel that Planning can deny that the business could be allowed to have 25 parking spaces instead of 33.

The ZBA would be giving the petitioner’s the okay for that, however, the board would not be addressing anything about the building itself.

Chairman Stepnak stated that in regard to the parking spaces if the bakery has 25 parking spaces as opposed to 33. People going to the bakery are not going to park across the street at the bingo hall. The question would be that the bakery would not really be causing any hardship to any other businesses in the area. So by reducing the parking from 33 to 25 should that really be a determining factor in this situation.

Mr. Klonowski asked if by granting the variance the board would be approving this for the next owner?

Ms. Orewyler replied yes.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the bakery would be on Parcel A and would not overflow onto Parcel B or use any of Parcel B to run the bakery. So whoever buys Parcel A must subside in Parcel A with the parking.

Mr. Klonowski verified that in order for the bakery or party store to stay as is, they would have to use the building that is currently there.

Chairman Stepnak answered yes.

Motion by Mr. DeMuynck to approve Petition #2009-02 for the requested multiple variances of non-conforming uses to an existing retail building in the M-1 zoning district. In addition, the petitioner’s, Pasquale and Mary Venditti, would be required to sign an affidavit stating that the residence would not be rented out.

Supported by Ms. Orewyler.

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted


Chairman Stepnak stated that he had read through the minutes of the Planning Commission’s meeting concerning the Lohmann covered boat well.

There was a discussion among the board concerning the matter.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the ZBA did not bless the project. The board just looked at what was in front of them because of the way the garage was situated in a harbor district.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that it was an eyesore which needed something to be done to be corrected. So the structure would look like something other than an eyesore.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the board tried to help it along to the next step so that Planning Commission or Building Department would have to do something to bring it up to speed.

Mr. Klonowski stated that he attended the ZBA meeting that night. He recalled that during the discussion it was stipulated that the matter still had to go in front of Planning.

Chairman Stepnak commented on Mr. Meagher’s comment that he cannot control ZBA. He does not know why Mr. Meagher feels he needs to control ZBA because the board just moved the petition on to the next level. None of the board was totally in favor of it. The question was how else would the board have been able to fix the problem.

Ms. Orewyler stated that Mr. Lohmann did a lousy job constructing the boat well and he was already told by Mr. Shortt that he would have to tear most of it down and rebuild it. The structure is way out into the canal and he did not get any permits for the project. It upset her and she voted no.

Mr. Klonowski commented that in looking over past minutes he stated that at one point in the past if an applicant met one of the five criteria, the petition was approved. Now, he stated petitioners must meet all of the criteria in order to be approved.

There was a short discussion among the board on this matter.


There was no new business.


Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve the minutes from the January 14, 2009 meeting.

Supported Mr. Blake

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted


There were no comments from the floor.


Motion by Chairman Stepnak to adjourn at 7:31 PM

Supported by Mr. Blake

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary

Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary




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