Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - September 23, 2009



September 23, 2009


On September 23, 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

Carl Leonard, Vice-Chairman,

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary Brian Scott DeMuynck, Township board liaison

James Klonowski

Absent: Paula Frame, Planning Commission liaison, excused

Gerald Blake, excused

Mr. Shortt was present at the representative from the Building Department


Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience.

4. ZBA PETITION # 2009-18: Thomas R. Jalosky, 47717 Jefferson, Chesterfield, MI 48047.

Requesting variance for a 2nd garage (detached) and to 424’ over on combined total of square footage. Petitioner has an existing 576’ attached and is proposing a 768’ detached.

Located at the above address.

Thomas R. Jalosky, 47717 Jefferson, Chesterfield, MI 48047 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was requesting a variance for a second garage on the back lot of his property abutting Forbes. He has presented the building plan with the setbacks and that has been reviewed. The plan would meet the setback requirements. He believed that he was not asking for any more than many of his neighbors with second garages have in the subdivision. He planned to make the garage back there to look like his home with landscaping on the street side. The stated the entrance door would be toward the existing garage.

Mr. Leonard stated that he was looking at the dimensions which show 24’ x 32’.

Petitioner replied yes.

Mr. Leonard asked if that was the size of the building enclosed and in addition there would be a parking pad along size?

Petitioner stated that the garage would be 24’ x 32’ and he would like to put in cement or crushed limestone for parking behind the garage.

Mr. Leonard asked if that pad would be 12’ x 32’?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Leonard stated that he noticed some old sheds at the back of the property.

Petitioner explained that he planned to remove the old sheds when the garage was completed.

Mr. Leonard commented that he also saw something with a tarp.

Petitioner stated that would be stored in the garage. He explained that he planned to put the limestone pad behind the garage and his truck and boat would be stored in that area.

Mr. Leonard asked is he and his wife lived in the home?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Leonard asked if there was a basement on the house?

Petitioner replied no there was not.

Mr. Leonard asked if the house was on a crawl space?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Leonard verified that the petitioner has an existing two car attached garage?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Leonard stated that he was looking at the size and how much room would be needed for normal storage that would require a structure that large. He asked about the two boats that were parked in the street?

Petitioner answered that the boats were gone. He explained that one boat was his son’s and the other was for sale and belonged to his neighbor.

Mr. Leonard asked what the petitioner planned to house in this size building?

Petitioner explained that he owns a ’67 Camaro, a ’40 Ford Coupe, a ’55 Chevy, a ’56 Ford Pick-up, and a ’58 Chevy Pick-up; they are all classic cars. He stated that was his hobby. He does not play golf and he no longer scuba dives.

Mr. Leonard asked if the car in the parking lot was the one that had the tarp on it this morning?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Klonowski stated that the size of the lot would be his concern. He felt that the structure would be crowding that property. He explained that it was clear that the ordinance only allows one accessory building.

Ms. Orewyler stated that she had a problem with the size of this garage. She does not give variances for toys. There would have to be a practical difficulty. She does not see a practical difficulty for this size of a garage. She admires classic cars however, she cannot let that interfere with her judgment in this matter. She did go around and check out the homes that the petitioner noted in his paperwork. She explained that all of the examples of secondary structures were on wider lots that the petitioner’s property. She stated that the petitioner’s lot was only 60’ wide which would be considered R1C, but the home is in a R1A district. She commented that the petitioner’s property was very visible because it’s a corner lot. Everything on the property is very visible and sticks out like a sore thumb. The petitioner is on a corner lot and has two small trailers, a boat, a truck….

Petitioner stated that was the purpose of the garage.

Ms. Orewyler commented that she understands. However, those are self imposed difficulties. She stated that there was not any difficulty with the land or the neighborhood. The only difficulty in this case would be that the petitioner has too many things for this size lot. She would have a problem approving a garage of this size.

Petitioner asked Ms. Orewyler what size garage she would approve?

Ms. Orewyler replied that she was not allowed to design the petitioner’s garage. She stated that the petitioner would be able to bring down the requested size of the garage.

Petitioner stated that he already brought down the size of the garage. He originally asked for a larger size structure.

Ms. Orewyler stated that if the petitioner had an acre or more of land, he could build a pole barn on the property and put all of his things in there. However, the petitioner has a small lot and she does not believe it could handle this size of a garage. The structure would take up way too much space on the property and it would be very visible because of the corner lot.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that he was also concerned about the size of the garage because the lot is only 60’ wide. He commented that a lot of the properties on Forbes and Mallard are 100’ wide lots and some are close to 300’. He explained that a lot of the accessory structures on these properties were built before the ordinances changed. He asked what size garage door the petitioner planned to put on the structure?

Petitioner answered that he planned to put one 8’ x 10’ garage door.

Mr. DeMuynck assumed that if the petitioner wanted to store his classic cars and was only asking for an 8’ x 10’ door, then he planned to somehow jockey all of the cars in the structure.

Petitioner stated that he would move the cars with car dollies. He explained that his goal would be not to have entrance door to the street. He would like to have the entrance door toward the house. The only door to the street would be the lead glass doors he has for egress in case there would ever be a problem and he had to evacuate the building.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that his main concern would be the putting the garage on a 60’ corner lot. He added that if the petitioner had a 100’ lot, he probably would not have a problem with it.

Petitioner commented that even though the lot is 60’, the structure would still meet the setbacks.

Mr. Shortt stated that he discussed the matter of drainage with Mr. Jalosky. The petitioner would be able to pitch everything to the ditch right there that runs along Forbes Drive. The petitioner would also stay 10’ away from the overhead electric. He commented that it looked like the garage would fit in there.

There were no public comments.

Petitioner stated that he spoke to all of the surrounding residents in the neighborhood. No one had a problem with it. He added that his neighbors, Joan and Lyle stopped by that afternoon and stated that they had no problem with the garage. He explained that his neighbors to the rear adjoining property signed off on the plan.

Chairman Stepnak stated that he did not have any documentation from these neighbors. He explained that he did have a letter submitted with the paperwork with some addresses, but nothing with any signatures or names.

Petitioner mentioned that he had a letter from Andy his neighbor to the rear of his property.

Ms. Orewyler stated that the board did have documentation from Andrew Selinski on Forbes.

Chairman Stepnak mentioned that two individuals on the board were absent. He stated that for a motion to be approved there must be four positive votes; either for or against. The problem that he had with this petition would be the overall area of the property. The lot measures 60’ x 250’ and he does not feel a structure this size would fit in there. He explained that in the past the board has approved accessory structures when there was a need for lawn maintenance equipment and things of that nature. Basically, the board has not in the past looked favorably on an accessory structure to store toys. He explained that if the petitioner had a larger lot he would need room to store equipment to maintain the property.

He stated that the Township has rules and basically the ZBA by allowing the variance would be allowing the petitioner to break the rules by putting this additional garage on the property. The petitioner has a responsibility to prove a hardship or a practical difficulty.

Petitioner stated that his hardship would be that right now it was costing him $300 a month to store his classic cars. While he has a piece of property on which the structure would fit with the setbacks. He stated that all he would be asking to do was to utilize the property he owns.

He was just asking for a place to store his classic cars.

Chairman Stepnak commented that was not a reason for the board to move on a motion.

Petitioner replied that basically he was being told that he has a useless piece of property.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner already has an attached garage on the property.

Petitioner expressed that there are fourteen other homes in that subdivision that have second garages. In fact, one property even has a pole barn which would be far in excess of his proposal.

Chairman Stepnak explained that each petition was handled on its own merit and he did not know exactly how the other structures were put up; whether they were grandfathered in or if variances were granted. Mallard and Forbes are an older part of the community those structures may have been there before the ordinances were put into place. The Township does update its ordinances on a regular basis. He reiterated that every petition is handled on its own merit.

Mr. Leonard stated that the variances for garages that he has been in favor of have been tucked behind the house and not visible on the street because of the home or trees. Most of the structures in the petitioner’s area were behind the homes and were hard to see. The problem with this structure was that it would be out in the open on a more narrow lot than most of the others on Forbes. Now, beyond that he could see the need for something larger than a 10’ x 12’ shed because the petitioner does not have a basement for storage. Therefore, he would entertain something smaller than the proposed structure, but something larger than a 10’ x 12’ shed. Even though the structure would fit the setbacks, the board needs to look for practical difficulties and hardships that existed before the petitioner bought the property. He stated that having all the cars, maybe the petitioner should have done some research as to whether an additional garage would fit on the property before purchasing it. He would be in favor of something smaller.

Petitioner stated that he would downsize the structure, but someone would have to tell him what size would be acceptable. He just wanted to get this done before it snows.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the board could not give the petitioner a size because they are not in the position of designing structures.

Ms. Orewyler stated that according to the ordinances under no circumstances is a garage supposed to store more than three vehicles. She commented that she agreed with that ordinance in theory. The Township does not want people renting out their garages and they have run into these types of problems. In this case, not only does the petitioner have five older cars, but he has the vehicles he drives every day; this could go on and on. The board cannot tell the petitioner what size to propose for the structure.

Petitioner asked if he would have to go through this again.

Ms. Orewyler answered no the petitioner could come up with the change for a smaller structure now.

Mr. DeMuynck commented that the petitioner could request to table it. He asked where he planned to store the classic cars? Did the petitioner plan to put two in the attached garage and three in the back?

Petitioner explained that he used the skates to move the cars. They basically slide under the side and by stepping on a foot pedal; the skate would lift each wheel individually and allow him to roll the car and turn the car or move it along side of a wall or wherever.

Chairman Stepnak stated that he has a problem with putting an extra garage on a corner lot.

He thought that a structure this size would be overbuilding on the property.

Mr. Leonard asked Chairman Stepnak if he could make a motion to approve a smaller building?

Chairman Stepnak explained that the board could not make a motion to design his garage. The board could only make a motion to approve or deny what has been presented to them.

Mr. DeMuynck commented that the board could table it and let the petitioner reconsider what he would like to do.

Mr. Leonard stated that personally he thought something more than a 10’x 12’ shed was warranted on this property because the petitioner does not have a basement. He does not know what the structure should be brought down to maybe 20’ x 20’ or 20’ x 22’.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner does have a garage and is on a smaller lot. The ZBA cannot entertain and redesign everything that comes in front of them. It would be up to the petitioner to tell the board what he wants; the board’s duty would be to vote yea or nay on the proposal.

Mr. Leonard stated that if this would be denied, the petitioner would still have an option of adding on to the attached garage and also would be allowed to build a 10’ x 12’ shed. That would be one option.

Chairman Stepnak stated that he cannot speculate on what the petitioner would do. If the variance were denied, the petitioner could go through the court system to get it approved or refile the petition.

Mr. Leonard explained that there is some dissention on the board about the size of the structure. Therefore, he stated the petitioner would have to decide on a proposal and present it to the board. At this time, the board has nothing to go on.

Petitioner stated that he would be willing to downsize the structure to 24’ x 24’.

Mr. Leonard explained that he did some math and the existing garage is shown as being 20’ x 22’.

Petitioner stated that there is a three foot stairway leading into the house along the whole side of the garage.

Mr. DeMuynck stated that the survey shows the size of the garage is 576 square feet.

Petitioner agreed that was what showed on the survey but if the board would look at the plans for the addition on the house; none of it is right.

Mr. Leonard stated looking at the attached garage at 24’ x 24’ and adding another structure at 24’ x 24’ that would be 1,152 square feet, minus the 920’ allowed. The structures would be over the allowable square footage by 232 square feet. That would be a little better than it was, but it still does not fit the ordinance.

Chairman Stepnak asked Mr. Shortt for some input and a timeline.

Mr. Shortt stated that the petitioner’s garage is a lot smaller than indicated and the heating system is up in the attic with a big set of stairs.

Chairman Stepnak assumed that when the petitioner came to the Building Department with the plans, he was told that the structure would not fly.

Mr. Shortt explained that since the petitioner would only be allowed a 10’ x 12’ shed, he was told that he could add on to his existing garage and make it 920’. At that time, the petitioner was also informed that he could apply for a variance.

Chairman Stepnak stated so basically the petitioner has been in contact with the Building Department and has been trying to work this thing through.

Mr. Shortt explained that their concern would be to get rid of the blight on the property.

Mr. St. Germaine has been after the petitioner to get rid of the tent out there and the old sheds and the boats and get the place cleaned up.

Chairman Stepnak asked if the petitioner was going with the proposal of 24’ x 24’?

Petitioner answered yes, if that was the size he had to go to. He just wanted to get it done.

Mr. Leonard asked Mr. Shortt if he would estimate the size of the petitioner’s attached garage at 20’ x 22’?

Mr. Shortt stated that sounded about right.

Chairman Stepnak stated that Mr. Shortt indicated the heating system was located in the garage attic because of the crawl space on the home. The stairway in the garage would also limit the space of the structure. Both of those facts could be taken into consideration. The petitioner did offer the board a 24’ x 24’ structure and the garage would match the home. The petitioner also indicated that the garage would be landscaped on Forbes and there would not be a garage door on Forbes.

Ms. Orewyler asked if the petitioner also applied for a fence permit?

Petitioner answered yes.

Ms. Orewyler asked if the fence would be 5’ from any easement, walkway, driveway, or whatever?

Petitioner answered that the fence would comply with all Township ordinances.

Mr. Leonard asked what type of utilities the petitioner planned to use in the structure?

Petitioner answered just electrical right now.

Motion by Mr. Leonard to approve Petition # 2009-18 for 47717 Jefferson, Chesterfield, MI. The variance would allow a detached accessory building to be the size of 24’ x 24’. The structure’s siding and roofing would match the home and there will be landscaping on the Forbes side. The garage door would be 8’ x 10’ and would be located on the east side of the garage. The petitioner has shown a practical difficulty with no basement and also because the heating system and staircase have reduced the size of his existing attached garage. The petitioner would be allowed to install electricity in the structure.

Supported by Ms. Orewyler

Ms. Orewyler requested that it be added to the motion that the petitioner must abide by all other ordinances including the storage of trailers, boats and whatever on pads.

Mr. Leonard agreed with her amendment and added that the two existing old sheds and the tarped enclosure must be removed from the property. All three of these items must be removed from the property.

Ayes: All

Nay: None Motion Granted

Chairman Stepnak instructed the petitioner to go see the Building Department for the proper permits.


There was no old business.


There was no new business.


Motion by Ms Orewyler to approve the minutes from the September 9, 2009 meeting.

Supported by Mr. Klonowski

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted


Chairman Stepnak mentioned that he and Mr. Leonard were reappointed to the ZBA board.


Motion by Mr. DeMuynck to adjourn at 7:37 PM

Supported by Chairman Stepnak

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

Nancy Orewyler, Secretary
Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary



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