Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - October 14,
THE CHARTER TOWNSHIP OF CHESTERFIELD
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
October 14, 2009
On October 14, 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
Paula Frame, Planning Commission liaison
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:
Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the
4. ZBA PETITION # 2009-19: Derek Lubinski who
resides at 47742 Sugarbush, Chesterfield, MI 48047.
Requesting variance to be over 312’ over allowed
square footage for 24.5 x 12.8 addition to existing
garage., Original garage was approved under the 2/3
rule, therefore, petitioner is seeking variance for
the addition of 312’. Location for variance is
John M. Ketzler, 4225 N. Atlantic Boulevard,
Auburn Hills, MI 48236 addressed the board.
Mr. Ketzler, stated that he was an attorney
representing Mr. Lubinski. He stated that he was
requesting a variance of approximately 300 feet with
respect to a standing structure garage that was
currently located in the petitioner's backyard. The
garage was constructed in 1998 and was standing on
his client's property for 11 years. He presented
photographs of the home when it was purchased and
also pictures of how the home looks at the present
time. He explained that the petitioner does not have
a basement and he uses the space in his garage for
storage of primarily personal and some of his
business items. He would like to make the board
aware of the fact that the petitioner has
meticulously maintained this home and increased the
value of the home. He has made many improvements to
the home and to the property. The petitioner has
spent $20,000 for a concrete driveway. The
petitioner has planted numerous trees and also
landscaped the entire yard. His client has done a
great job in improving and maintaining the property.
He stated that the garage was an additional 300 feet
and was currently standing there. The garage is part
of the structure at this time.
Mr. DeMuynck verified that the home was purchased
in 1997, the addition was constructed in 1998, and
no permit was every obtained?
Derek Lubinski, 47742 Sugarbush, Chesterfield, MI
48047 addressed the board.
Petitioner answered that was correct.
Mr. DeMuynck asked why the petitioner never
pulled a permit?
Mr. Ketzler explained that his client hired a
builder to construct the addition to the garage. It
was his client's understanding that the builder
would pull all the necessary required permits.
Apparently, the builder did not pull the permits.
Mr. DeMuynck stated that the petitioner runs a
business out of this home. He asked if the business
was registered with the Township?
Petitioner answered no and that his business was
not at the home; it was everywhere else.
Mr. DeMuynck stated that the business address was
registered at the petitioner's home.
Petitioner answered yes it was his home address
but that was not where he kept all his stuff for his
Mr. DeMuynck stated that the petitioner keeps his
Petitioner answered that he drives his truck
Mr. Ketzler asked if the petitioner's truck was
also used as his personal vehicle?
Petitioner replied yes.
Mr. DeMuynck asked about the vans parked out in
Petitioner stated that he drives one and one is
just a spare.
Mr. DeMuynck asked if the petitioner had a
business address in another community?
Petitioner answered no, he just uses his home
address. He does his paperwork at home because he
has a baby.
Mr. DeMuynck stated that regarding the business,
there is a Township ordinance which requires
businesses to be registered in the Township.
Ms. Orewyler stated that she had been over to the
property and had a couple of concerns. She commented
that as much space as the petitioner has, there are
still a lot of things sitting around and in back of
the garage. There is a trailer alongside of the home
that is not on a concrete pad. She really does not
have a problem with the addition but there would be
stipulations should she make a motion for this
variance to pass.
Mr. Klonowski asked if the petitioner stored any
electrical equipment or parts for the business in
Petitioner stated that at times he has some
equipment at home, but most of his stuff is in
Mr. Klonowski commented that it looked as though
only the addition was the issue?
Petitioner answered it was.
Mr. Klonowski asked if that had been there 11
years, or was that a new addition?
Petitioner answered that the addition had been
there 11 years.
Mr. Blake had no comments.
Ms. Frame stated that she had an issue with the
fact that there were no permits pulled when the
structure was built. She stated that she had an even
bigger problem with the fact that the petitioner is
running a business out of his home that has not been
registered with the Township.
Mr. Leonard stated that the petition was
requesting a variance of 312 feet. He explained that
the main garage measures 26'3" x 39' and the
addition was 12'8" x 24'5" according to the
paperwork. He was not sure how this was calculated
but according to his figures it would be about 400
square feet over what is allowed. He stated that the
numbers just do not add up.
Mr. Ketzler stated that the existing garage might
have been over the 920 square feet. He asked if that
was the point Mr. Leonard was making?
Mr. Leonard answered that in fact the petitioner
is asking for a variance of more than 312 square
Mr. DeMuynck commented that the original garage
was built in 1990 and was built under the 2/3 rule
according to the notes on the agenda.
Mr. Leonard stated that he figured that the
original structure was 1,025 square feet and the
addition was 309 square feet which would make the
total square footage 1,334 square feet.
Chairman Stepnak asked what was the nature of the
Petitioner explained that he was an electrical
Chairman Stepnak asked how much of the
petitioner's day was spent at his home doing
Petitioner answered that he does his paperwork at
his home and the mail for his business was delivered
to his home.
Chairman Stepnak asked if the petitioner did any
wiring or circuit boards at home?
Petitioner answered no.
Chairman Stepnak asked so basically the
petitioner has alluded that most of his business is
done in Roseville?
Petitioner stated that that was where he kept his
stuff, as far as storage.
Chairman Stepnak verified that the petitioner
does not really do a large amount of his work out of
Petitioner replied yes.
Chairman Stepnak asked how much material for the
business was stored at the petitioner's home?
Petitioner stated that he had a few shelves of
work material stored at his home.
Chairman Stepnak asked if the garage was used for
anything besides items for business?
Petitioner answered that there was Christmas
stuff, bikes, lawn equipment, a four wheeler and
some other things in there.
Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioner if he had a
basement in the home?
Petitioner replied no.
Mr. Leonard explained that he did not really have
a problem with the petitioner having the additional
garage space because he does not have a basement.
However, the math does not jive. He mentioned that
if the petitioner had a garage that was 920 square
feet and he had a shed which would be an additional
120 square feet. The petitioner would be at 1,040
square feet. He asked if the petitioner had a shed?
Petitioner answered yes a small portable one.
Mr. Leonard answered is the petitioner did not
have the shed and the attached part of the garage
was approved, he would only be 300 square feet over
the allowable square footage. He asked Chairman
Stepnak if the variance request is for 312 and the
request should actually be for more like 414 square
Chairman Stepnak stated that he guessed the
question Mr. Leonard was asking would be if the
publication was proper as sent out.
Mr. Leonard commented that he just wondered if
that would be a problem.
Chairman Stepnak asked Ms. Orewyler to read the
variance request that was published.
Ms. Orewyler read the published variance request.
Mr. Leonard stated that if the Township was using
the 2/3 rule as allowed then the petition request
would be accurate as published because they would
not be going with the current ordinance of 920'
Chairman Stepnak stated so basically the variance
request and the paperwork that the Township has
provided to the board was correct.
Mr. Leonard agreed.
Ms. Orewyler read a letter from a Phil Grosso who
runs a group home next door to the petitioner at
47754 Sugarbush. Mr. Grosse stated that the
petitioner's were great neighbors and that he was in
favor of the board granting the variance.
There were no public comments.
Mr. DeMuynck asked Mr. Lubinski if his business
was registered in Roseville?
Petitioner answered no.
Chairman Stepnak explained that whether the
business is registered in the Township would not
really be an issue for the variance. However, he
understood Mr. DeMuynck's position as a Trustee on
the Township Board and about wanting everything to
Mr. DeMuynck stated that he understood Chairman
Stepnak's comments, but this was something he needed
to know as a member of the board.
Chairman Stepnak stated that could be an issue
that would be discussed at a different venue. He
commented that was not an issue the ZBA would
consider for the garage.
Motion by Ms. Orewyler to approve petition #
2009-19 for the requested variance to be over 312’
over allowed square footage for 24.5 x 12.8 addition
to existing garage at 47742 Sugarbush. Original
garage was approved under the 2/3 rule, so the
petitioner is seeking variance for the addition of
312’. The reason for approval was that there is not
enough storage room because petitioner has no
basement. The petitioner has an oversized lot which
would also require more storage for lawn equipment.
She added that both of the petitioner's trailers
must be stored on concrete. She stated that the shed
would have to be removed from the property because
the addition on the garage would be the petitioner's
accessory building. She added that all of the
wheelbarrows and clutter around the garage and in
back of the garage must be stored in the garage.
Supported by Mr. Blake
Mr. DeMuynck asked if he could make an addition
to the motion?
Chairman Stepnak stated absolutely.
Mr. DeMuynck advised the petitioner contact the
Chairman Stepnak asked the petitioner and his
attorney if they knew where Mr. DeMuynck was going
Mr. Ketzler stated that they understood what Mr.
DeMuynck was talking about. He explained that the
petitioner did not have a problem registering his
business with the Township. He understood the
position regarding what has been presented before
the board. He stated that as a gentleman's agreement
his client agrees to fill out all the necessary
paperwork to register his business and make sure he
is in compliance with Chesterfield Township.
Chairman Stepnak thanked the petitioner and Mr.
Mr. Leonard commented that it may be a given but,
he thought the garage addition should also be
inspected by the Township Building Department to
make sure everything was done by code, since the
builder never pulled a permit. He added that the
petitioner would be required to pull the necessary
permits and that inspections be done.
Ms. Orewyler agreed to the additions to her
Mr. Blake continued support.
Nay: None Motion Granted
5. ZBA PETITION #2009-20: Gerald & Tracy Ulewicz
who reside at 49340 Bayshore, Chesterfield, MI
48047. Requesting a 1.57 side yard setback variance
on the south side of residence leaving 8.43 and a
2.80 side yard setback variance on the north side of
residence leaving a side yard of 7.20, for a 12’ x
32’ porch. Ordinance requires a 10’ side yard
setback. Location for variance is stated above.
Gerald Ulewicz, 49340 Bayshore, Chesterfield, MI
48047 addressed the board.
Petitioner stated that he was requesting a 1.57
side yard setback on the south side of his residence
leaving 8.43 and a 2.80 side yard setback variance
on the north side of their new house which would
leave a side yard of 7.20, for a 12’ x 32’ porch. He
explained that they submitted a set of house plans
for approval and when the plans were approved, went
to the Building Department to get the permits to
start construction. At that time, he related that
they were told to modify the porch by narrowing it
in by four feet. They were told that it did not
matter which way it was done, but that the porch had
to be narrowed by four feet. It was written on the
plans by his wife in front of the Building
Department representative. After that, in July,
their architect had to redesign the plans to
accommodate the four feet. He had to change the
windows, the interior walls, trusses and footings.
The architect brought the plans back to the Township
offices, to the same Building Department
representative, and the plans were approved. The
house was taken down sometime after that and he came
in front of the ZBA and obtained a variance for the
house for the side yard setbacks. After a few days,
they resumed their house project. He stated that
construction was going well and in September they
dug the trenches for the front porch. The trenches
were inspected and the footings were poured and
passed inspection. He stated that after construction
of the porch began, a representative from the
Building Department showed up claiming that the
porch had to be 10 from the property line on each
side. They were not 10’ on each side but they
thought they were okay because they were told only
to narrow the porch by 4 feet which they did. At
that time, they were given a verbal stop work order
which has delayed the porch again. He was told that
they could just move in on each side of the porch to
comply with the R 1 A zoning requirement. He
explained, however, that would not be an option
because it would conflict with the entire front of
the house. The windows and doorwalls would be
affected, the roofline would not match properly, the
trusses would have to be changed, the interior load
bearing wall would have to be changed, the front
windows would be misaligned, and the footings would
all have to be redone. He stated that if they had
been told to move the porch in further at the
beginning, they could have done it at that time and
the architect could have redesigned it. They could
also have requested this variance the last time they
were in front of the board, but he was not aware
they were in any violation. They requested to see
the revised building plans that were in file with
the Building Department that showed that the porch
was already moved in 4 feet. Unfortunately, he
stated that those plans could not be located by the
Building Department. However, he did have a copy of
those plans after the changes to the porch were
approved. He related that according to code R 1 A
lots must be a minimum of 90’ wide and the length
cannot be greater than 3 times the width. He
explained that almost every lot in their subdivision
does not comply with that standard. He mentioned
that there has been an accepted offer on their
rental home and they now have about four weeks to
vacate their rental home. He stated that they need
to erect the porch in order to continue with the
Mr. Klonowski asked if the petitioner had the
copy of the approved plans?
Petitioner answered yes and brought the plans up
to the board members.
The board, the petitioner and the architect at
that time took a few minutes to review the plans.
The discussion was not audible.
Ms. Frame stated that she had no questions.
Mr. DeMuynck stated that he saw the home earlier
that day and he had no questions.
Ms. Orewyler had no comments.
Mr. Leonard agreed that the petitioner’s
statement about the lot sizes is valid. Very few of
the lots are 90’ wide.
Chairman Stepnak stated that when he saw the
variance request, he commented that he thought the
ZBA had already entertained the matter of the
setbacks for this home. The question would be was
the porch on the physical drawings. He stated that
according the meeting minutes of 8-26-09, there was
some discussion between himself and Mr. Shortt
concerning the porch.
Chairman Stepnak read Mr. Shortt’s comments from
that meeting." Mr. Shortt stated that the
petitioner's house would meet all the building
codes. It would not have to be a rated wall because
it would be greater than three feet from the
property line. It would meet all the ordinances and
the porch they would be adding onto the back would
conform with the R 1 A zoning. The petitioner's
would be stepping that in. He stated that the plans
that the petitioner submitted to him would meet all
the zoning and building codes. It would be an R 1 A
zoning on a fifty foot lot. "
Chairman Stepnak explained that the comments were
in the meeting minutes and so the board did touch
the subject of the porch and the setbacks at the
8-26-09 meeting. He commented that the way he is
looking at it, this was settled on the 8-26-09
Mr. Paul Lonisell, 24001 Greater Mack, St. Clair
Shores, MI addressed the board.
Mr. Lonisell stated that Mr. Gendernalik planned
to address the meeting that day; however, he had a
conflict and could not make the meeting. He
explained that Mr. Gendernalik asked him to step in
to represent Ms. Rebecca Johnson and Mr. Melchior
who have filed objections to the variance request.
He mentioned that Mr. Gendernalik prepared a rather
lengthy submission with the detailed objections to
Chairman Stepnak had not seen the copy. However,
his comment was that everyone received the packets
to their residences. He explained that past protocol
has been that everything presented to the ZBA would
go through the Planning and Zoning and the Building
Department and the information is then distributed
to the board. He did not know if this really
followed normal protocol.
Mr. Lonisell explained that unfortunately
Chairman Stepnak’s copy came back to their office.
He stated that a copy was addressed to the ZBA, and
therefore one was actually sent to this building. As
a courtesy, Mr. Gendernalik sent also sent copies to
everyone's home. He continued that Mr. Gendernalik
had many points that were included in his
presentation. Furthermore, his client pointed out
something that evening that was not in the
presentation. He was not sure if the board was aware
of this fact; and it might shortcut this hearing or
make this hearing illegal, he guessed; or at least
not in accordance with the State's statutes.
Apparently, the document that was filed for the
notice of hearing was dated September 18th and he
stated that according to State statute the deadline
for an appearance application must be submitted one
month prior to the hearing. He pointed out that it
was September 14th. He did not know if the board
wanted to deal with that issue.
Chairman Stepnak stated that he really
appreciated the counselor's comments concerning the
documents. However, none of the members of the board
are attorneys and they have not practiced law.
Basically the board gets the petitions in front of
them and they planned to move on the petition as it
was presented. He stated that if the board moves on
the petition improperly, he believes that they would
be contacted via the proper system going through the
Planning Commission and coming back to the ZBA or by
the Township attorney.
Mr. Lonisell stated that he would rely on someone
who is expert on these matters to decide whether the
State statute would make this hearing improper. He
explained that another point he would like to make
was that the petitioner misled the Building
authority when he submitted his plans. He added that
the original submitted plans were to add an addition
on to the home. However, what the petitioner ended
up doing was tearing out three walls of the home. He
mentioned that fact was not brought up at this
hearing. He stated that by doing that, the house
predated the 96' zoning ordinances. The house was
grandfathered in and was outside the setback
requirements of the 96' ordinances. He stated that
by tearing down three of the walls, without telling
anyone and without pulling a demolition permit, the
petitioner kind of brought the delay and hardship
upon himself. Their complaint that evening was
limited to one small issue, the porch. There will be
a second hearing scheduled to address at Judge
Viviano's order on the 28th, to address the bigger
issue of the house as to whether the house, the
rebuilt home, should be allowed, or a variance
should be allowed for the rebuilt home. He stated
that they would not be getting into that and they
would now just be addressing the porch issue. But
the Judge did order the board to review the petition
and he repeated that was scheduled for October 28th.
He added that Mr. Gendernalik would be present at
that time to argue the objections to that variance.
Chairman Stepnak stated that the Township
attorney would also be present for that hearing on
Mr. Lonisell stated that he would mention the
issue about the timing and see if they could resolve
that issue before that. He continued that their
position was that when the architect presented his
drawing to the board, he did not include the side
line setback measurements. The architect, when he
submitted the plans to the ZBA, did not take into
consideration that even the porch had to comply with
the 10' setback requirements. He stated that their
position was that his clients have a narrow lot and
if the petitioner was allowed to build the porch,
there would be problem getting to the front and the
back of the property without encroaching on his
clients property. That was his client's objection
and their problem. He thought that the zoning rules
are there for a purpose and if someone can just go
ahead and build their house in violation of those
zoning rules, and get a variance, he guessed there
was no reason to have zoning rules to begin with. He
reiterated that there was a clear violation of the
zoning rules because the petitioner was advised
early on that he was building his porch within the
10' setback; and he continued to build the porch.
So, he was asking the board to take all of that into
consideration in reaching its decision. In
conclusion, he stated that there are really three
requests. He believes this matter, even though it
was separate from the variance requested on the
house, was similar; they kind of go together. In
fact the petitioner was arguing that he needed a
porch in order for the construction of the house to
Mr. Lonisell asked that the board consider
tabling this matter before making a decision, so
that the decision on this matter and the house,
itself, which is basically a newly constructed home,
could be made at the same time. He thought the two
of them are twined. He asked that at that time, the
board would deny the petition on the porch. He
explained that if the porch could go a couple of
feet into the 10' set off requirement; there was no
reason why he could not move it so that it would
comply with rules as written. He continued that when
the board does make the final conclusion as to this
petition, as to the porch, and he hoped that the
board would hold off on a final determination until
the 28th; they would ask the board that if they
grant the variance as to the porch, that it consider
certain conditions be imposed on the petitioner for
that variance. He stated that the petitioner built a
shed within the 10' set off, which is unsightly and
was at the front of the property between their house
and the water. He also mentioned a swing set that
was also in that 10’ set off. In his opinion, it
just seemed like, as to petitioner, the 10' set off
variance is a non entity. That he does not have to
comply with it. He stated that the petitioner thinks
he can put the shed where he wants to put it, and
put a swing set where he wants to put it, and tear
down a house, saying he was only building a second
story on to it, and just go about and build it the
way he wants. He stated that if the petitioner's
architect misses it, well give him a break, because
his architect did not catch the fact that he was
building a house within the 10' set off. He stated
that it was not his client's fault that the
petitioner did this and they do not think that
because the architect or the petitioner made a
mistake and built the porch and house in violation
of the ordinances, it was a good reason to grant the
variance. He commented that if it was then the
ordinances need to be thrown out the window.
There were no other public comments.
Erik Heiderer, 44045 Gratiot, Clinton Township,
MI addressed the board.
Mr. Heiderer stated that he took offense to the
attorney's comment that he made a mistake on the
plans for the home. He did not make a mistake. The
original house was already approved during the last
meeting. The only thing being addressed today was
the porch. He explained that he did not do the site
plan. The land surveyor did the site plan and gave
him all the information. He used that information
and what he was given to them by the Township to
design the plans for the home and they were approved
that way. Any mistakes made in this situation were
not made by him.
Mr. Leonard commented that he thought it was
quire amusing that the neighborhood with all those
narrow lots would even be listed as an R 1 A. He has
lived on the water for over 20 years and the lots
are narrow. He has 3' on one side and 5' on the
other and that was kind of an established set back
requirement on waterfront properties. He stated that
as far as being 10' from the property lines and
blocking any access from the street to the
waterside; the footprint has always been there and
the foundation has always been there. The porch was
intruding less than the existing footprint that has
been there for 50 years.
Chairman Stepnak asked if the petitioner was
aware of the neighbor's wanting the shed and the
play scene moved over on the property, or was this
the first he heard of this?
Petitioner answered that he was aware of the
neighbor's objections now, one year later. He
mentioned that actually, it has been longer than one
year for the play set.
Chairman Stepnak stated that earlier the board
looked at a garage addition with a shed; that kind
of went together. In this case, the board would be
looking at a porch. As for reconstruction this
property and site plans, that was really not what
the board was considering this evening. He would
look at the petition was that on August 26th, the
board entertained the setback's for the house and
there was some brief discussion in the meeting
minutes concerning the porch. He commented that he
did not know if it was actually submitted to the
board. It did not seem to be an intentional
oversight. Regardless, the board already approved
the house with the setbacks at the August 26th
meeting. He stated that what is coming in the future
in which the court will direct the board; they will
deal with at that time. He stated that in his
opinion, the board already moved on this issue and
80% to 90% of the homes in Chesterfield have back
porches. So, people in the house do not just fall
out of the back of their home. A porch on a home
would be normal. As far as he was concerned, the
board already moved on this issue and at this time
they would only be clarifying what they had already
Petitioner commented that he has complied with
everything that has been asked of him. He followed
the directives of the Zoning Board and the Building
Department and he was at the meeting at that time to
follow the board’s directives.
Erik Heiderer asked Chairman Stepnak if the board
already approved the porch at the last meeting and
they had to pay again for the variance request for
this meeting; would there be a reimbursement of the
$300 that they paid for something that was already
Chairman Stepnak stated that the petition was
being brought in front of the board for
Erik Heiderer stated that he was just making a
Chairman Stepnak stated that the petition had to
be republished and information had to be mailed out.
He wished that they could reimburse the petitioner,
however, there are administration fees and evidently
there was a feeling from the Township that the issue
had to be revisited.
Motion by Ms. Frame to approve ZBA Petition #
2009-20 for the reasons that it follows
the original footprint and corresponds with the
motion that was approved on 8-26-09. Furthermore,
the petitioner does have a set of revised site plans
that were approved by the Building Department on
7-17-09. She stated that for those reason she made
the motion to approve the petition.
Supported by Mr. Klonowski
Nays: None Motion Granted
6. OLD BUSINESS:
There was no old business.
7. NEW BUSINESS:
There was no new business.
8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF PRIOR MEETING:
Motion by Mr. DeMuynck to approve the minutes
from the September 23, 2009 meeting.
Supported by Mr. Orewyler
Nays: None Motion Granted
9. COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR:
Chairman Stepnak thanked Ms. Frame for her
attendance at the ZBA meeting.
Motion by Ms. Frame to adjourn at 8:06 PM.
Supported by Chairman Stepnak
Nays: None Motion Granted
Nancy Orewyler, Secretary
Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary