Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - August 12, 2009



August 12, 2009

On August 12, 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                                                                                                            Paula Frame, Planning Commission liaison                                                         Gerald Blake                                            James Klonowski                      

Absent:   Carl Leonard, Vice-Chairman, excused Brian DeMuynck, Twp. board liaison, excused

There was no representation from the Building Department.



Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience.

4. ZBA PETITION # 2009- 12:  Joe Peters, 23856 Audrey, Warren, MI

48091.  Requesting variance for Temporary Use for a Haunted Halloween Hayride. Proposal is for a 45 day period which includes set-up and removal of complete exhibit.  Hayrides proposed to start September 30, 2009 running through October 31, 2009.  Location of Holiday event is to be 33190 23 Mile Road, Riverbend Driving Range.

Joe Peters, 23856 Audrey, Warren, MI  48091 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was requesting a variance for the property known as the Riverbend Golf Range.  He would like to do a Halloween Hayride and he needs a variance for the parking on the west side of the property along with a set up and take down of all of the attractions and the concession stand.  He then passed out some packages to the board members.  He explained that he came in front of the board last year and was turned down because of the construction on 23 Mile.

He was turned down because the congestion would cause safety concerns.

This year the construction has been completed.  They have contacted the Chesterfield Police Department and met with Officer McNair.  Officer McNair went over the property extensively and they discussed how and where traffic would go in and out of the exhibit.  The Police Department’s concerns have been met and they have no problem with the proposed variance.  He also met with Rick Schroeder, Fire Marshall of the Chesterfield Fire Department.  He went over what the petitioner’s planned to do at the site and his only concern was how to get an emergency vehicle on to the property.  The petitioner explained his plans and exactly where an emergency vehicle could enter and maneuver on the property.  After their meeting, the Fire Marshall had no problems with the proposal.  The petitioner explained that he met with A1 Striping of Warren and was assured that they could stripe out 130 parking spots and the roadway in between would be 24’.  Therefore, they will have ample parking and it would be striped out just like a regular parking lot.  The ground is compact sod and it is as hard as cement.  Parking for the employees would be by the club house.

Chairman Stepnak asked if the parking lot would be the area where there were crops?

Petitioner answered no, the parking lot area is all sod.

Chairman Stepnak asked how far would the farmed area be from the proposed parking lot?

Petitioner answered that it would be about 150’ or 200’ away.  He stated that by looking at the aerial view the board could see that the crops were at the area by the berm which is far from the proposed parking lot. 

Chairman Stepnak asked if the crops were there recently and were just pulled out?

Petitioner explained that the area had been cleaned up for quite a while and maintained to get rid of mosquitoes and other bugs out of the area.  He commented that from the road it looks a lot better and has better eye appeal.  Petitioner stated that he met his insurance agent on the property last week.  The underwriter got back to him a few days ago and they went through the whole business plan.  The agent has issued him an insurance policy for the festivities.  They have an insurance company that has no problem with the operation.  The Fire and Police Departments have no problem with the plan.  The only thing he needed was approval from the Zoning Board.  He stated that the Haunted Hayride would be a safe, fun activity for the children in the area.  He commented that he had been contacted by schools in the area who would like to bring children on the site during the day or even Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings; just for a school to have their Halloween or Harvest Festival. 

Petitioner then explained with the aerial map exactly where they would place clearly marked entrance and exit signs on the property.  He then explained where the parking area would be and reiterated that A1 striping assured him that they would be able to put at least 130 parking spaces on the property.  He pointed out that the pathway for the hayride would be primarily on the east side of the property.  He stated that it would be run at least 1,000 feet from any residential property.  He commented that the Salt River already divides this area from any residential property.  All of the activities would be encompassed from the middle to the east side of the property.  The only thing on the west side of the property would be the parking.  The petitioner talked to Mr. Schroeder, the Fire Marshall and was told to use UL approved containers for the bonfires and where the fire should be located; which would be 200 feet away from the parking.  There are 31 acres of land on which the attraction would be located.  The concession stand and ticket booth would be conjoined and be located by the house.  There would be four porta potties to start on the property and more if needed. 

Ms. Orewyler asked the petitioner if he had written permission from Citizen’s Bank to park cars on their property?

Petitioner stated that he did not get written permission.  He talked to the bank manager of the bank and she stated that she did not see any issue and that she would talk to the district manager.  She stated that if there was an issue, she would get back to him.  He talked to the head teller another day and she told him that if he needed something in writing about the parking, to let her know.  He commented that would just be an option.  He figured that he probably did not even need to have anyone park at the bank because he would have enough parking at the site.

Ms. Orewyler commented that she had a problem with the venue staying open to  11 PM on school nights.

Petitioner explained that the times were flexible and that they would close at 10:30 or 11 o’clock.  They would like to start at 7:30 PM when it starts to get dark.  They are very conscious of the children in school.  They would just like to keep the times as consistent as they can so there isn’t any confusion as far as the times they are open.

Ms. Orewyler asked what kind of foods would be served at the concession stand?

Petitioner stated that they would be selling ice cream, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and pop in cans, no bottles.  They would also be serving free cider and donuts for the patrons when they get off the ride. 

Ms. Orewyler asked if the patrons would be allowed to take consume food off the property?

Petitioner stated no.  The food would be sold to be consumed on the property.  There will be recyclable containers clearly marked on the property.  He commented that at the end of the night he did not want to be cleaning up a mess. Waste Management would be their waste removal company and they would be picking up trash at least two days a week or daily if necessary.

Mr. Klonowski asked how big the bonfire would be?

Petitioner explained that they would be using the three of the bonfire containers that can be purchased at Home Depot.  He stated that the Fire Marshall told him to put three of the containers together because one would not be enough.  Petitioner stated that there would be someone attending to the fire at all times.  There will be fire extinguishers on hand right there and Mr. Schroeder the Fire Marshall will oversee and inspect the whole operation.

Mr. KIonowski asked what type of material would be burned for the fire?

Petitioner stated that he would be using only hardwood for the bonfires and he would be getting the wood from a gentleman in Richmond who has an ample supply of hardwood.

Mr. Klonowski asked what the distance would be between the bonfire and the house?

Petitioner answered 300 feet.

Ms. Frame asked how many wagons would be used for the hayrides?

Petitioner explained that he would start with three wagons and may use a fourth one if needed.

Ms. Frame asked how many people each wagon would hold?

Petitioner answered that each wagon would hold about 12 to 15 people

Ms. Frame asked how many parking lot attendants would the petitioner have on the premises?

Petitioner stated that he would have four.  There would be two at the front one at the entrance and one at the exit.  Then there would be two in the parking lot making sure people know where they are going.  The parking lot will be all lit up.

Ms. Frame verified that the parking lot would have lights?

Petitioner stated that he explained last year…

Ms. Frame commented that she was not on the board last year.

Petitioner apologized and explained that he would be using a portable light powered by a generator.

Ms. Frame asked if the petitioner knew what the candle foot on that would be?

Petitioner answered that he believed it was not more than 10,000.  It would only be enough to light up the parking lot area.  It would not be after glow or over glow and shine in neighbor’s back yards.  It would just be enough for the parking area.

Ms. Frame stated that she wanted to make sure it was in accordance with our ordinances.  She asked how far the fire would be from the road?

Petitioner stated that it would be approximately 1,000 feet from the road.

Ms. Frame mentioned that there were no dimensions on the map the petitioner presented to the board and she commented that it was hard to believe it was 1,000 feet.

There was a discussion among the board concerning the dimensions of specific areas on the aerial map.

Ms. Frame stated that she would have been more comfortable if the map showed some dimensions especially how far different aspects are from the road.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the parking lot would have a circumference of 1170’ so the petitioner would be correct in his calculations that it would be at least 1,000’ feet from the roadway.

Ms. Frame reiterated that she would just be more comfortable if she could see the dimensions and not just numerals on a piece of paper.

Petitioner claimed that he turned in a paper with his other paperwork with all the dimensions listed.

Ms. Frame mentioned that she only saw one dimension of 500’ on the petitioner’s paperwork.  She agreed with Ms. Orewyler on the hours of operation.  She commented that the petitioner’s wanting to have the same time of operation on each day of the week may be hard to accommodate.

Petitioner stated that his hours of operation would ultimately be up to the ZBA.

Chairman Stepnak explained that if the board decided to go forward with the petition, they could dictate in their motion the hours of operation.  He stated that the board could also dictate how far the fire pit needed to be from the road.

Ms. Frame stated that she was not only concerned about people walking to their cars from the fire pit, but also for people be distracted by the fire when driving on 23 Mile Road.  She asked if the petitioner would need to get a certificate from the Health Department to serve food on the premises?

Petitioner answered that he was already certified by the Health Department and was approved to serve food off-site.  The Health inspector may call and ask what the petitioner is serving and would probably come out to inspect the site.  He explained that he owns three ice cream shops and they get remarkable inspections every time.

Ms. Frame asked if he had a permit for a temporary site?

Petitioner stated that he would be allowed by the Health Department and his insurance to do off-site catering.  The menu is simple and the Health Department would not have an issue.  The product would not be fresh; everything served would be quick cooked.

Ms. Frame asked where the dumpsite would be located?

Petitioner stated that they would be behind the barn by the house.

Mr. Blake asked if there would be someone stationed at the fire at all times?

Petitioner replied yes, at all times.

Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioner what businesses he has and where they are located, and if the petitioner does business in Chesterfield?

Petitioner stated that from 2002 to 2005 he owned and operated the Sundae Spot Ice Cream and 18 Hole Adventure Golf that was formerly located in front Sandbaggers Golf Dome.  At that time, during the Halloween season they did a Spooktacular Halloween Glow Golf.  The course was tastefully decorated for the season.  A family could enjoy a round of glow golf with a bonfire later where they would serve cider and donuts.  They would host three schools per year that would come out and enjoy the Harvest Fest with them.  They were always appreciated in the community and always followed all ordinances to ensure the safety of all who came to the events. The business closed due to the sale of the golf dome.  They now own three soft serve ice cream stores called Dairy Boy.  One is located in St. Clair Shores, one is in Eastpointe and there is one in Royal Oak. 

Chairman Stepnak asked why the petitioner would like to use this particular property?  He asked if he owned the property or was planning to lease it?

Petitioner stated that he planned to lease the property from Ed and Joe Mancini for the purpose of doing the Halloween Hayride.  The lease will not commence unless the variance is approved.  The gentleman in the home on the property was very excited when we explained what would be done on the property and there is a letter in the paperwork from that gentleman.

Public Comments

Wanda Makosz, 50334 Rose Marie Drive, Chesterfield, MI  48047 addressed the board.

Ms. Makosz shared her concerns about the proposed Haunted Hayride.  She was not in favor of the board granting a variance.

Richard Wirick, 50514 Anders Street, Chesterfield Township, MI  48047 addressed the board.

Mr. Wirick shared his concerns about the hours of operation especially during the week.

Petitioner stated that the noise level would be at a minimum.  There would not be any music blaring around the property.  There would only be some spooky music playing at the concession stand.  This parcel of land is in the middle residential and commercial property, There is a tree line that separates the residential from this property which would be at least 500 feet away from the hayrides and the parking lot.  There would not be any dust created from any vehicles and the neighbors would be too far away to hear any noise from any machinery.

Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioner if he would be present at the site during the hours of operation.

Petitioner stated that he and his wife would be on site at all times.

Chairman Stepnak asked what the proposed hours of operation would be?

Petitioner stated that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the hours of operation would be from 6 PM to 8:30 PM predicated on groups coming to the venue from a school.  On Thursday and Sunday the hours would be from

7:30 PM to 10:30 PM and then on Friday and Saturday they would be requesting to be open from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM.  They would not have anybody interacting or jumping out trying to scare people during the hayride.  They would just have Spooky Fun

Ms. Frame asked how long a trip on the hayride would run?

Petitioner stated that it would take approximately 12 to 14 minutes.

Ms. Frame commented that with three wagons and about 9 trips each per hour, there would probably be about 400 people per hour on the hayrides.

Petitioner laughed and stated he wished that was the case.  He stated that each cart would probably only be able to do two or three trips out per night.  In between the rides, they have to load people on and off the carts.  The thought there would probably be about 60 persons on the rides per hour.  He stated that most of the time the carts would probably only have 12 people taking the ride.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the bottom line would be that the venue would close on the hour and the last half hour would be used for clean up.  He verified that the petitioner would have parking lot attendants out there.

Petitioner stated that based on his study, he would need at least 18 people working out there every night.  He commented that he did not think he would have a problem getting 18 people to work.  They already contacted the Anchor Bay Hockey Team coach and were assured they would have plenty of people to work at the venue and then the petitioners would make a donation to the school or something.

Ms. Frame asked how the petitioner planned to control the consumption of alcohol?

Petitioner answered that there would not be any alcohol at the venue.

Ms. Frame commented that she understood the petitioner would not be serving alcohol; but what about alcohol brought on to the premises.

Petitioner stated that any alcohol brought on the premises would be confiscated immediately.  Furthermore, if they notice someone on the premises that has been clearly drinking, they would be asked to leave the venue immediately.

Ms. Frame asked if the petitioner planned to post signs that clearly state no alcohol was allowed on the premises?

Petitioner answered absolutely.

Sandra Montana-Piasecki, 50333 Rose Marie Drive, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Ms. Montana-Piasecki apologized for being late and was not sure if her concerns had already been addressed.  She stated that she was especially alarmed because the variance was for 45 days and that some days it would be operating until 11:30 at night.  She lives on Rose Marie Drive and assumes that would not be far from this facility.  She understands the benefits of this; but what about the downfalls.  She does not believe there will be a police presence out there.  She asked about the type of people that would be coming for this attraction. She asked if there would be a proper disposal and clean up of the property daily and after the 45 days?  She asked if the area would be fenced? She asked how 18 people could control the public coming through to the residential areas?  She sits in her back yard sometimes until 10 PM and she wanted to know if she would be hearing tractors going by constantly? She was concerned that if the variance would be granted that time limits would be set. There is a trail about 12 to 15 feet from their homes on this property.  She voiced her concerns over granting the variance because of the noise that would be created by the tractors, screaming children, loud music, machinery and generators.  She was also concerned about the dust that would be generated by the cars in the parking lot and the tractor.

Chairman Stepnak stated the questions have been discussed during the time period were the hours of operation.  The closing time Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday would be 8:30 PM.  Eight o'clock would be the last ride and they would have 30 minutes for clean up. The times for Thursday and Sunday was from 7:30 to 10:30 PM; the last ride would be 10 o'clock with a half hour for clean up.  Then on Friday and Saturday the venue would open from 7:30 to 11:30; the last ride would be at 11 PM and there would again be 30 minutes for clean up.   As far as the venue being fenced around; the venue would only be there for 45 days and the area would be too large to fence.  The petitioner told the board that there would not be any music blaring around the property.  There would only be some spooky music playing at the concession stand. The Chesterfield Fire Marshall must approve all aspects of the bonfire area before the petitioner would be able to have bonfires.  There would be security people on site at all times.  There would be about 18 people working at the venue.  He stated that the venue would be family oriented and there will not be any actors going through the venue trying to scare people. He reiterated that all of this was discussed earlier.

Ms. Montana-Piasecki stated that if the operation is family oriented there should not be any problem with limiting the hours of operation to a more reasonable time.

Ms. Frame stated that she believed the noise ordinance during the week, Sunday thru Thursday is 10 PM and that Friday and Saturday is 11 PM.  She explained that the petitioner would only be asking for a half hour for clean up.  She added that the Chairman forgot to mention that the petitioner would hold his ticket sales to one hour before final closing time.  So he could accommodate the people already in line and have them out before closing hours.

Rick Puffer, 31592 Riverbend, Chesterfield, MI  48047 addressed the board.

Mr. Puffer explained that he works at the range.  He has been responsible for picking up the range balls for ten years.  He has often had two tractors out there at the same time at 10:30 PM.  The tractors are fully mufflered and there have never been any complaints about tractor noise.  Those would be the same tractors that will be used for the hayrides.  They are very quiet, low rpm tractors that would be running on low idle.  These tractors are used to pick up the golf balls and they do not go too fast because the balls would fly out of the range picker.  The tractors would be traveling at the same speed for the hayrides.

Mr. Klonowski asked how late they run those tractors?

Mr. Puffer stated that they run those to about 10:30 PM sometimes; depending on how many golf balls they have to pick up.  He stated that with the sun setting changes sometimes people hit ball out there until it is dark.  They wait for everyone to finish hitting their balls and then they go out to clean up the area.  He reiterated that the tractors are very quiet.  He stated that today the sun sets at 8:45 PM, no balls can be hit after that time.  However, someone could come in and buy 10 large buckets of balls and at 8:40 PM and they have to be done hitting balls by 8:45 PM. and the customers understand that and agree to it.

Anna Makosz, 50334 Rose Marie Drive, Chesterfield, MI  48047 addressed the board.

Ms. Makosz voiced her concerns about the noise that would be created by the venue.

Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioner what the petitioner was proposing for the times of operation?

Petitioner stated that on Thursday and Sunday he would like to close down at 10:30 PM and Friday and Saturday at 11:30.  He stated that a half hour before maybe even 45 minutes before they would shut down the entrance and stop anyone else from coming in so that they could get the people in line on the hayride and off the property.  That would be his goal.  He does not want to be there all night.

Chairman verified that the last person on the weekend would leave at 11 PM and that would be the time the gates would close.

Petitioner stated that they would monitor the crowd and maybe at quarter to eleven, they would decide that there are enough people on the property to shut the entrance, get the last people on the carts, and get them off.  That way they would be able to get everything cleaned up by 11:30.  He stated that their goal every night would be to comply with the wishes of the board.

Chairman Stepnak stated that if the board moves on this, they would have to stipulate the times in the motion.

Petitioner mentioned that he spoke to Officer McNair who assured the petitioner if he needs the police on the property, they would come out there.  This would not be a disruption to the community.  These hayrides go on all the time at churches and schools.  They did not think this would be such an issue.  The petitioners met with the Police Department and the Fire Department and wrote down a plan that they feel is going to keep everything safe.

Ms. Orewyler asked how much the petitioner would be charging for the hayride?

Petitioner replied that he thought they would charge $8 for adults, $6 for kids, and children 5 years old and younger would be free.

Mr. Klonowski asked if the petitioner would consider fencing the area?

Petitioner stated that he could never fence this.  He would however assure the board that the way this would be set up no one would even have a chance to go near the residential area.

Mr. Klonowski asked if the people working there would have a way to communicate with each other?

Petitioner explained that each member of his team would be equipped with a walkie-talkie or cell phone.

Ms. Orewyler read a letter from a concerned neighbor that was retained for the ZBA's records.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve Petition # 2009-12 on a requested variance for Temporary Use for a Haunted Halloween Hayride.  Proposal is for a 45 day period of which 15 of those days would be for the set-up and removal of complete exhibit. not for operation of the hayrides.  The hayrides will operate from September 30, 2009 to October 31, 2009.  The hours of operation would be as follows: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 PM to 8:30 PM, Thursday and Sunday from 7:30 to 10:30 PM and Friday and Saturday from 7:30 to 11:30 PM.  The last ride would be at the hour and the petitioner must shut down the entrance gate 45 minutes prior to the last ride.  She would also require the petitioner to bring the insurance policy for the event to be brought to the Township Offices for verification prior to the place opening.  She wants the Township to be held harmless in this insurance policy.  The petitioner would be required to follow all of the Police Department's and Fire Department's suggestions.  She would require the petitioner to have an attendant at the entrance, exit, the cross walk, the parking lot and of course an attendant at the bonfire.  There will be no alcohol allowed.

Supported by Chairman Stepnak

Mr. Klonowski asked Ms. Orewyler to amend the times of the motion for Thursday and Sunday, because they are week days should be until 10 o'clock instead of 10:30 PM. and Friday and Saturday should be until 11 PM instead of 11:30 PM. Ms. Orewyler verified that Mr. Klonowski wanted the times put back a half hour.

Mr. Klonowski answered yes on those two.

Ms. Orewyler accepted the proposed changes to the motion.  She stated that the hours of operation would be Thursday and Sunday from 7:30 to 10 PM and Friday and Saturday from 7:30 to 11 PM.  She added that Monday thru Friday during the daytime hours the petitioner would also be allowed to have schools that have contacted him at the venue to enjoy the services.

Chairman Stepnak also requested that the venue be billed as a family hayride.

Chairman Stepnak continued support

Petitioner asked if he had a school that wanted to come to the hayrides at 6 PM and they wanted to stay until 9 PM, would it be possible for them to extend the time for the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  He commented that last year he was contacted by several schools.

Ms. Orewyler stated if it was for a school that they could extend the time on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 PM to 9 PM.

Ayes:  All

Nay:  None                                                   Motion Granted

                                                                                    5. ZBA PETITION # 2009-13:  Anthony and Melissa Zito, 49451 Heath Place, Chesterfield, MI  48047.  Requesting variance to allow a shed to remain 4’3" from residence, ordinance requires 10’ between structures.  Located at the above address.

Anthony Zito, 49451 Heath Place, Chesterfield, MI addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was there to request a variance for a shed that he did not build.  He bought the house eight years ago and the shed was built 15 years ago.  A few months ago, it was brought to his attention that there was no permit pulled for the shed and that it was too close to his home.  He does not feel it is fair that eight years after he bought his home someone comes around and makes him pay $250 to come there for something he did not construct.  He stated that the Township failed to catch the person who built the shed at the time, and now he is here minus his $250.00.

Mr. Blake stated that he looked at the shed and there were pieces of board that were rotted out.  He commented that he was in favor of the petitioner moving the shed back.

Petitioner explained that if he moves the shed it will be a big eyesore to his neighbor next door.  He has a letter from the neighbor who does not want the petitioner to move the shed.

Mr. Blake asked the petitioner if he realized that the shed does not have a rat wall?

Petitioner stated that he did not construct the shed.  He is requesting a variance to keep the shed at its present location.  He talked to the building inspector and told him that he would jack up the shed and put a rat wall in it he would be allowed to keep it in the same spot.

Chairman Stepnak explained that if the board would grant the variance, the petitioner would still need to install a rat wall.  The board can not alleviate the petitioner from that obligation or any other type of building requirement.

Petitioner stated that he and many of his neighbors were basically blitzed by the zoning inspector who wrote 90% of them tickets.  He commented that what is wrong is wrong and what is right is right.  If he does not have a rat wall or if the shed is in the wrong location, it was not his fault.  He purchased his home eight years ago and it was assessed at that time when they came out for an inspection.  What happened then, why did the Township all of a sudden find all these problems.  He stated that he could tell the board.  It was because all of a sudden people at the Township are not busy and they need to collect money.  That's fine.  All he was asking for after he paid his $250 that the board grant his variance and he will bring the shed up to code.

Ms. Orewyler explained that if the petitioner brought the shed up to code he would move it as well and not just put the rat wall under it.  She explained that the rat wall is for the petitioner's protection to stop vermin from getting in the shed and to keep vermin out of the neighborhood.

Petitioner stated that he has no problem with putting in the rat wall.

Ms. Orewyler asked why the petitioner did not want to move the shed six feet back; there would be nothing in the way of it?

Petitioner stated that he would rather keep the shed where it is at and if it is moved it would be more of an eyesore for his next-door neighbors.

Ms. Orewyler stated that there is a safety reason to keep a shed 10' away from a residence.

Petitioner asked why it was a safety issue?

Ms. Orewyler explained that if the shed would catch on fire that close to his home or to his neighbor's home it causes a safety issue; just like the rat wall  must be put under the shed because that would also be a safety issue..

Petitioner replied that he was not arguing about putting in the rat wall.

Ms. Frame stated that the petitioner is just asking for a variance of 4'3",

Ms. Orewyler commented that she understood that.

Ms. Frame went out to the home and understands the circumstances.

Mr. Klonowski mentioned that the issue for him would be that the shed has been there for eight years, so he thought it be grandfathered in.

Chairman Stepnak explained that the distance from a residence to an out building would be required for safety reasons.  If the shed is that close, the feeling would be if there was gas stored in the shed it could go up.  In some cases, where sheds are allowed closer to a home where the lots are very small, like in some river districts, the sheds are required to have a different fire resistant wood. So if a fire started in the shed, homes in the area would not start on fire.  The ten feet between out buildings has been tested out and would be deemed necessary for fire equipment, fire fighters and rescue equipment to get around.  He reiterated that the whole thing would be a safety issue.  He commented that this actually existed for 15 years.  However, the problem would be if the board allows this would they have to allow the neighbor four doors down to do the same thing.  He believes that the petitioner also has a pool and hot tub in his yard.  He asked if the petitioner moved that shed, wouldn't it also have a direct impact on the pool and hot tub?

Petitioner stated yes it would.  If he moved the shed 10' back from his home, because of the pool, he would not be able to open the shed door.

Chairman Stepnak stated that there would also be a requirement for how far the pool would have to be from the shed.  It all goes back to when the builders sold lots to people assuring them that they would be able to put up a pool, a shed and a deck.

Ms. Frame stated that using the point about gas in the shed is just as excuse; because most people that do not have sheds and keep gas in their attached garage; which would be a greater hazard than keeping it in their accessory building.  She does not feel a 5'9" variance would be out of the ordinary for this board.  She thought it would be reasonable under the circumstances, that the petitioner purchased the house with the shed in that spot.  Moving the shed would upset the esthetics of his back yard.  If the shed were moved, the petitioner would no longer be able to open the shed door and also moving the shed would cause a visual obstruction for his neighbors.  She was of the opinion that the board could grant the variance under a non-conforming use ordinance.  She thought that would be very reasonable the classification for non-conforming uses this would fit perfectly into that category.

Chairman Stepnak asked if there was any other place on the property where the petitioner could place the shed?  He asked if the petitioner could push it further back?

Petitioner answered that if he pushed the shed farther back, he would not be able to open the shed door.  He explained that if he put the shed even further back on the lot, he would be in the easement behind there.  The problem was that everything on the property was there when he purchased the home.

Chairman Stepnak stated that he spoke to Mr. Shortt from the Building Department and who shared a concern that not only was there no permit pulled for the shed; the pool and hot tub were also installed without permits.

Petitioner reiterated that everything was on the property when he purchased the home eight years ago.  He had no idea that permits were not pulled for the pool and hot tub.  He commented that he was only made aware by the ticket issued that there was no permit for the shed.

Chairman Stepnak asked if the electrical for the hot tub and pool were under code?

Petitioner answered that he thought so because according to the paperwork, they were both done by professional electrical contractors.

Chairman Stepnak asked if the pool had a self latching gate?

Petitioner answered yes.

Chairman Stepnak asked if the board would allow the shed to remain in that spot, how long did the petitioner think it would take to put in the rat wall?

Petitioner answered probably about the middle of September.  He asked if now he would have to pay for the permits for the shed, pool and hot tub because the permits were not pulled when they were built by the previous owner?

Chairman Stepnak stated that he just wanted to make sure that everything in the petitioner’s yard is under code.  He explained that if the board granted the variance for the shed, the petitioner would get six months to install the rat wall and get permits on the rest of the back yard.  He stated that the hot tub and pool, electrical and so forth would all have to be inspected. He explained that the reasons for the ordinance to keep the shed 10' from the house and the ordinances to put a self-locking gate for the pool and hot tub is for safety for the petitioner and the neighbors.  He reiterated that he just wanted to make sure that the rest of the petitioner's yard is up to code.  The petitioner would have up to six months to pull all permits.  He explained that if the board did not move favorably on the variance; the petitioner only other recourse would be the court system.  The petitioner could not come back to the board or appeal the decision with the Township board.  The board at this point could just decide to grant the variance for the shed if the petitioner would install the rat wall and bring the other things in his yard to code.

Ms. Orewyler commented that a some boards at the bottom of the shed are rotted.

Petitioner replied that was because of drainage problems.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the reason there was water by the shed might be because the shed is too close to the house and the water from the gutter went in that area.

Petitioner stated that the problem started because the spout separated from the gutter.  He has fixed the problem.  He explained that he does not like the shed being damp from the moisture.  He plans to raise up the shed, put in the rat wall and make a concrete floor.  He would be willing to repair the shed and he has no problem with making sure everything is properly inspected and done under code.

Ms. Orewyler read a positive letter from the petitioner’s neighbor that was in favor of the board approving the variance.

Motion by Ms. Frame to approve  Petition # 2009-13 for a variance to allow a shed to remain 4’3" from residence, ordinance requires 10’ between structures because under code the shed would be considered a non-conforming structure under Section 76-562, # 1, 2, and 4.  The petitioner must install a rat wall around the shed and would be required to get inspections for the pool and hot tub to make sure these items are brought up to code.

Supported by Chairman Stepnak

Ayes: Frame, Stepnak, and Klonowski

Nays:  Orewyler and Blake                                                          Motion Denied

Motion by Chairman Stepnak to Table Petition # 2009-13 to the August 26, 2009 meeting because there was no quorum.

Supported by Ms. Orewyler


Ayes:  All     

Nays:  None                                                                         Motion Granted

Petitioner asked the board for a copy of the minutes concerning his petition because he has a court date next week concerning this matter.

Ms. Orewyler stated that the petitioner could ask the Planning Department to provide him with a letter concerning the case.



There was no old business.


There was no new business.


Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve the minutes of the July 22, 2009 meeting

Supported Mr. Klonowski

Ayes:  All

Nays:  None                                                                         Motion Granted


Chairman Stepnak stated that he had received a letter from the board concerning the union contracts and Township budget constraints.

Chairman Stepnak mentioned that the board had been invited to the Village of East Harbor Chapel ground breaking Celebration


Motion by Chairman Stepnak to adjourn at 8:53 PM

Supported by Ms. Orewyler

            Ayes:  All

Nays:  None                                                                         Motion Granted

Nancy  Orewyler,  Secretary                      
Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary




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