Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - February 10, 2010

FEBRUARY 10, 2010

A regular meeting of the Chesterfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals was held on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Township Hall located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield Twp. MI 48047

1. CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Stepnak called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.


Present: Marvin Stepnak
Gerald Blake
Nancy Orewyler
Tom Yaschen
James Klonowski
Paula Frame
Janice Uglis


Others: Shawn Shortt, Building Department


4. ZBA PETITION #2010-01: Tom Caporuscio of Brookshire Development, L.L.C. 1536 Clear Creek, Rochester Hills, MI 48306. Requesting variance for a proposed 4 car garage and to be 40’ over allowed square footage of said structure. Ordinance allows a 920’ garage, petitioner is proposing 960’. Location of request is 48960 Point Lakeview.

Tom Caporuscio stated that his clients desire a four car garage on their site. Once they had submitted the plans to the Building Department for their review and approval, someone from the Building Department notified them and informed them that four car garages are not allowed per the ordinance. There are additional homes on that street, including the home directly to the east, which is their neighbor that does currently have a four car garage. It looks like it is a newer home built within the last few years.

Mr. Yaschen stated that he lives right across the street from the said property. To avoid any conflict of interest he stated that he has no financial interest whatsoever in this property. The only time he has ever met anyone from this property was when he called the police when he thought someone was violating the home, which was vacant. The home that had been existing was torn down. He met the police officers there and he talked to a gentleman, but he does not even know if it was the owner or a real estate agent.

Mr. Stepnak stated that we have had opinions from our attorneys indicating that as long as a member does not have a vested interest, financial gain or loss, there is no need for that member to abstain from voting as long as they state that they live close.

Mr. Yaschen commented that this is a nice looking home.

Ms. Orewyler stated that she realizes that there is a home next to this one that has a four car garage; however, we do not like to hand these out. She was not on this Board at that time. She can’t tell them how that happened. She does not have a problem for the 960 square feet for the garage, but she has a problem with the four car opening into the garage. On their plans it has two large garage doors, not four individual doors. She would like to see if they are agreeable to keep the square footage they are asking for and have three entrance doors for cars. In the smaller entrance door they could put all of their lawn equipment, lawn furniture, four wheelers, ski boat, whatever in that fourth door.

Mr. Caporuscio clarified that Ms. Orewyler is asking if his clients would be favorable to installing a smaller door, smaller than eight feet obviously. He asked if she is speaking of an overhead door.

Ms. Orewyler responded yes, just not wide enough to pull a car through.

Mr. Stepnak commented not a garage door, but a utility type of door.

Mr. Caporuscio stated that they do make six foot overhead garage doors. He guesses that it all depends on his clients’ position on that once he gets through the process this evening.

Ms. Orewyler stated that is her concern. She does not want to see anymore four car garages. The more we see them, the more people want them. She does not know how it happened to start with, but out ordinance is very clear on this. She is not against the extra footage in the garage. They would not have to have a shed on the property. It would look very nice.

Mr. Stepnak informed Mr. Caporuscio that he is required to state their reasoning as to why there is a practical difficulty. In searching in his head with regard to a three car garage versus a four car garage being a practical difficulty that is something that they need to prove to the Board at this stage of the game. He cited an example of building a home on the waterfront without a basement, and the need for extra storage; that would be justification for the additional storage space in a larger garage. The ordinance is clear in stating that we don’t allow four car garages. It is possible that someone did file a petition and made a case in front of this Board and it was approved. Sometimes things have been there for many years and have been grandfathered. There are differences in how a neighbor could get a four car garage. He instructed Mr. Caporuscio that they need to prove to us that there is a practical difficulty that they need the four car garage, or as Ms. Orewyler stated earlier, would they agree to three garage doors for vehicles to enter in and out of, and a third type of pedestrian type of door that could basically be used for lawn equipment, etc.; but that would have to be agreed upon this evening.

Mr. Klonowski commented that Ms. Orewyler’s point is well taken. If we grant variances we compromise our ability to enforce ordinances.

Mr. Caporuscio stated that when he first designed the home, and they also purchased the property next door, they always had the intent of building this four car garage. They were not aware of the ordinance since there were other homes on that street that did have the four car garages on them. It was only when they applied for the permit that that issue came into play with them. Hopefully something can be done this evening considering that there were other homes that had been granted this.

Ms. Uglis commented that she sees two garage doors that could fit two cars each.

Mr. Caporuscio interjected that when the doors open the whole opening will be open. He can’t say that at some point they won’t park a fourth car in there, but he does know that they have lawn equipment; they have a large yard, the lot is 325 feet by 125 feet wide. They will park some lawn and garden equipment. They do have three cars at this time.

Ms. Uglis asked Ms. Orewyler to clarify her idea of the garage doors.

Ms. Orewyler responded that they don’t have to have two two car garage doors the same size. They could have three singles. They could have a double and a single smaller one. There are other ways that they could do it.

Ms. Uglis clarified that they would then be in line with the ordinance.

Ms. Orewyler responded correct. It would just be like having an attached shed, but a very nice one attached to their garage. She would even recommend a wall because there will be gasoline stored in there with lawnmowers and what not. She does not want to allow another four car garage. It doesn’t end; next it will be a five car garage.

Mr. Blake commented that Mr. Caporuscio stated that they only have three cars anyway.

Mr. Stepnak commented that we are not here to design their plan. We are here to move on the garage doors. There was a suggestion that Ms. Orewyler had. We could approve it as they are asking, we could suggest that they make a modification, or we could deny it.

Mr. Shortt commented that the house next door has the fourth door just for aesthetics. It is a habitable area in there; it is for cutting deer and cleaning fish. They only wanted the fourth door for the effect. With 920 square feet you could fit four cars into this garage. He suggested a 16 foot door and a 12 foot door. There are people now buying side lifts for cars, where they lift one car up and put another underneath, or they put a car on wheels and slide it over. We are still in litigation with his neighbor that the ZBA denied a couple of years ago on Salt River Drive. It has been to the Court of Appeals where they have sided with us, but he keeps suing us. This has been going on for four years.

Mr. Stepnak asked Mr. Shortt if we have many residences with four car garages out there.

Mr. Shortt responded that in the lawsuit they brought up eight or nine of them. All of them had gotten approved for variances.

Ms. Frame asked how long it has been since those variances have been granted.

Mr. Shortt responded that he thinks the one in Lottivue was the last one. That one has a carriage house, so it is almost like a detached garage.

Ms. Frame commented that she is having a hard time finding a hardship or practical difficulty right now to grant a variance.

No one from the public spoke on this agenda item.

Mr. Stepnak noted that there had been mailings to everyone within so many feet of this property. The records show that no communication has come back. There were a couple of notices that came back due to wrong addresses. He reiterated that it is the petitioner’s responsibility to prove to us that there is a hardship or practical difficulty where there is a reason for a variance to be granted. By granting a variance it means that we are letting them break the rules of the community that everyone else needs to follow and obey. He asked Mr. Caporuscio if there is any case that he could build to indicate the need for this extra garage.

Mr. Caporuscio responded that a four car garage is a luxury item. That is all he can say.

Mr. Stepnak commented that Mr. Caporuscio is in the business. He is a professional. He knows where we are coming with this. If it were an odd shaped lot, or there was some type of issue, he has a hard time going back to why an additional garage is required.

Mr. Caporuscio stated that it is a luxury item; it is a luxury home; it is on the water. It is expensive. It is pricey. The one hardship that he tried to point out was that it would increase the salability of the home in the future based on the market.

Mr. Stepnak responded that we cannot use monetary gain or loss as a practical difficulty. It is a good thing to bring up.

Mr. Shortt commented that everyone wants a big garage now. They are really getting popular. The bigger the house, the more money they have, the more toys they have. He has had discussions with Ms. Giese. He thinks something should be done about it. The new houses that he is getting for review, they all want bigger garages.

Mr. Stepnak commented that if the township wishes to go on the lines of having four car garages they need to go through the proper procedure. The Planning Department needs to update, the Planning Commission needs to review it, and Public Hearings need to be held. It is something that could happen in the future if that is the intent, but the problem is that it is not something that can happen overnight because of the procedures that are in place.

Ms. Frame commented that she will mention it to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Caporuscio asked that the size be considered as well. If they could maintain the size that they are requesting, he will discuss the issue with his clients regarding putting on a smaller door if that is the case. He would like to get this through as it is at this point.

Mr. Stepnak responded that the problem we are running into is that the ZBA’s purpose is not to design; we can make suggestions, but they need to come back to us and say yes that’s a good idea that is what we are going to propose. We cannot tell them what to do; they have to tell us what they want to do.

Mr. Caporuscio responded okay.

Motion by Mr. Yaschen, supported by Mr. Stepnak to table ZBA Petition #2010-01 to our next regular meeting so that the party involved can go back to his clients to see the possibility of making the adjustment on the garage door.

Mr. Stepnak asked Mr. Caporuscio if this is something he would like to see done this evening, or would he rather we make a decision this evening.

Mr. Caporuscio responded that he really cannot answer for his client.

Mr. Stepnak explained that the timeframe for the tabling could probably be a month at least.

Mr. Klonowski asked Mr. Caporuscio if they are under any time constraints.

Mr. Caporuscio responded yes they do have a current construction mortgage that was closed on in the fall and they were hoping to be under construction by now. They did the demolition on the home back in October and November, then they ran into this issue.

Ms. Orewyler commented that there is no basement under the garage so it should really not affect the end part with the garage if they have to come back in a month or six weeks.

Mr. Caporuscio asked if he would be able to start construction. Can he at least get the basement in?

Mr. Shortt commented that he is getting flack with regard to the neighbor with the lawsuit. He had suggested that it is a lot easier to enclose it than to enlarge it, so he told them to frame it all for a 16 footer. He went to 3 Zoning Boards because there was not a quorum for 2 of them, and they came in and he got shut down and it has been in court ever since.

Mr. Caporuscio stated that he is not opposed to the smaller door, a 12 foot door, or a 6 foot door or a 16, 8 and a 6 foot door.

Mr. Shortt stated that he is not going to approve their plans with two 16 foot doors.

Mr. Stepnak commented that the problem is that Mr. Caporuscio does not have the authority.

Mr. Caporuscio responded yes he needs to check with his clients. He would like to somehow get the process rolling.

Mr. Shortt commented that if they have a 960 square foot attached garage with a 16 foot and 12 foot door on it, he will approve their plans.

Mr. Caporuscio responded okay.

Ms. Frame reiterated that she is still having a problem finding a hardship or practical difficulty in approving. They have a partial basement and upstairs storage.

Ms. Orewyler commented that they are still entitled to another accessory building outside; they could build a shed.

Mr. Caporuscio reiterated that it is strictly luxury.

Ms. Frame commented that she would have expected the homeowner to be present here this evening on such an important decision.

Mr. Caporuscio responded that they happen to be out of town.

Mr. Stepnak commented that it seems that the motion to table is not going to work out for them. Mr. Stepnak withdrew his support for tabling this item.

Mr. Klonowski supported Mr. Yaschen’s motion to table to the next meeting.

Mr. Stepnak commented that the only problem now is that we will have to assign a date for the tabling.

Mr. Caporuscio asked if the Board would be opposed to approving a 960 square foot structure allowing them a variance of 40 feet at this point.

Ms. Orewyler responded that she would be opposed unless Mr. Caporuscio agrees to wall off ¼ of that garage with a small door for the outside equipment and garden equipment.

Mr. Caporuscio responded okay.

Mr. Shortt commented that the only way that he could approve their plans is if this Board was to approve it.

Mr. Caporuscio stated that he may be able to talk them into the small door if the Board was to approve the garage this evening, and then Shawn may be able to enforce the small door at his level.

Mr. Stepnak commented that we are looking at a 4 car garage at 960 square feet. He asked Mr. Shortt what would be the amount that they would not have to come before us.

Mr. Shortt responded 920 square feet.

Mr. Stepnak stated that if they went down to the 920 square feet they would not have to come back before us and Mr. Shortt would approve it. The question is by tabling it we are allowing the fact for him to come back to see us for the additional 40 square feet in the 4 car garage. Basically it can move forward administratively because it falls within parameters of the ordinances. It will not be reentertained by us. So by us tabling it and putting it into the future it is going to allow us to move forward on a 4 car garage and the additional square footage.

Mr. Klonowski withdrew his support.

Mr. Stepnak asked for additional support.

There was no response for the additional support.

Mr. Stepnak stated that the motion failed. He asked for a new motion for approval or denial.

Motion by Mr. Stepnak, supported by Ms. Orewyler to deny Petition #2010-01 due to the fact that the 4 car garage structure is uncommon in our community; it does not fall within the current ordinance and current way our community is being developed. The petitioner did not put a practical difficulty in front of us. If the petitioner brings it down to required square footage it will be approved due to the fact that it will fall into the parameters of our ordinances, and the petitioner has not proven any practical difficulty that a 4 car garage is needed on this site.

All Ayes Motion Carried

5. ZBA PETITION #2010-02: Dean Toward, 48037 Mallard Chesterfield, MI 48047. Requesting a variance for a 16’x12’ shed in lieu of the 10’x12’ ordinance allows and a 1’10” height variance. Location of request is address stated above.

Dean Toward stated that he had a shed currently in the same spot this one is. He is just asking that it be enlarged to 12 feet by 16 feet.

Ms. Uglis stated that she saw that he has a cupola that is not completed. She asked if that is what Mr. Toward wants to complete once he gets this approved.

Mr. Toward responded yes.

Ms. Uglis asked for clarification that he was approved for a larger building before.

Mr. Toward responded yes a 24 foot by 28 foot garage with 10 foot walls.

Ms. Uglis commented that he is now downsizing it.

Mr. Toward responded correct.

Ms. Orewyler commented that he got the variance in 2006 for the garage.

Mr. Toward responded yes.

Ms. Orewyler asked if he built this shed this past fall.

Mr. Toward responded December.

Ms. Orewyler commented that the variance is null and void after 6 months. She stated that she does not have too much problem with his shed, but she has a problem with the junk around and behind his shed. She would like to see all that cleaned up. If she made a motion she would put that in.

Mr. Toward responded right.

Ms. Orewyler commented that she does not have a problem with him putting a weathervane on top of the shed.

Mr. Blake asked if the cupola is part of the 17.1 inches over.

Mr. Toward responded that when he puts the cupola on top that would be the height.

Mr. Blake asked if that is just the peak of the roof.

Mr. Toward responded that is the brown structure at the top. The brown structure where it looks like a chimney is the base. The cupola would sit right on top and then it would be completely finished

No one from the public spoke on this agenda item.

Mr. Stepnak indicated that there was no pertinent information from the neighbors. He noted that we did approve a larger garage back in 2006, so he is having less on the site. He did start something without being approved, but it is less than we approved prior.

Mr. Toward stated that he will have everything in the shed now. He will clean up the outside. He just did not want to jam everything in there before he got approval. He just stopped everything.

Motion by Ms. Orewyler, supported by Mr. Blake to approve Petition #2010-02 with the hardship being the large size of his lot and the small size of his home, with the additional comment that the mess around the shed will be cleaned up. Everything with the exception of the gravel will be cleaned up and put in the shed.

All Ayes Motion Carried

It was requested that we take a 5 minute break in the meeting at 7:40 p.m. The meeting reconvened at 7:47.

6. ZBA PETITION #2010-03: Erik Heiderer for Kevin P. Kouki, 44045 Gratiot Clinton Twp., MI 48036. Requesting a 5’ height variance for a detached garage for a new residence located at 28925 Field.

Erik Heiderer stated that last April they came to get a (?) variance for the existing house. On the site plan the house and the plot is a triangular shaped lot. It is not a very large buildable area so they got a variance for putting a second story on. Once they got an elevation certificate they found out that the existing finished floor is 3 feet below the acceptable floodplain. That means that they will have to renovate the first story to update it to the finished floor. Since the existing house is on a slab by doing that they are proposing a detached garage, which is 910 square feet. They are asking for a height variance because they want to put a bonus room above the garage. Eventually when they put the second story on the house and renovate the first story, the detached garage will eventually be attached. The bonus room will be part of the existing house when they do attach it. Since the house is on a slab they want to build the detached garage first because they want to store the equipment to renovate the house.

Mr. Stepnak commented that bonus rooms seem to be very popular now a days.

Mr. Heiderer responded yes.

Mr. Shortt asked if they are going to conventionally frame this garage and put a second story on it; that’s why they need the height.

Mr. Heiderer responded yes correct. If they are going to do the addition to the house with the garage attached they would not need a variance because it is an attached garage, but since they are going to build the actual garage first with the height difference that does not meet the code, they have to get a variance for the height of the garage. Once they build the garage, within the year they will probably do the addition to the house.

Mr. Shortt clarified that this detached garage will have a full frost free footing on it.

Mr. Heiderer responded oh yeah absolutely 42 inch footing the whole shot.

Mr. Shortt indicated that he has no problem with this.

Ms. Frame asked for clarification as to the fact that if the garage was attached it would not need a height variance.

Mr. Shortt responded correct he would not be in front of us right now if it was attached.

Ms. Frame clarified that it is because of the building complications that they need this variance.

Mr. Heiderer responded correct.

Mr. Shortt responded that detached is 16 feet maximum. The height is half the distance from the ridge to the eave on a house 28 feet.

Mr. Klonowski asked for clarification that the house is going to be raised up.

Mr. Heiderer responded yes. The existing house is actually going to stay there, but since it is on a slab they are going to actually put on the inside a conventional framing first floor to lift it up.

Mr. Klonowski asked if the height of the house is not changing.

Mr. Heiderer responded they are putting a second story on the house, so there will be a new first floor and a second floor.

Ms. Orewyler commented that the garage itself will be above the floodplain.

Mr. Heiderer responded yes.

Ms. Orewyler asked if they are going to have the same type of siding on the garage as the house.

Mr. Heiderer responded yes.

No one from the public spoke on this agenda item.

Mr. Stepnak noted that notification did go out to the residents. There is no additional information in the file. The Building Department has given us background; we seem to be okay there.

Motion by Ms. Frame, supported by Mr. Klonowski to approve Petition #2010-03 because of the hardship of the building complications they are having with the existing site plan, and that the structure will eventually be an attached structure and meet all the ordinances.

Mr. Blake asked if we are approving both the height and the second story.

Mr. Stepnak responded yes we are approving the whole package.

All Ayes Motion Carried


Ms. Orewyler noted correspondence from the St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission regarding an annual winter workshop.

Mr. Stepnak commented on the helpfulness of having Mr. Shortt attend the ZBA meetings. He asked Ms. Uglis to take that back to the Township Board.


Motion by Ms. Orewyler, supported by Mr. Blake to approve the minutes from the December 9, 2009 meeting.

All Ayes Motion Carried


Mr. Stepnak noted that our next meeting has been cancelled.

Ms. Uglis commented that she will get with Mr. Lovelock regarding attending the St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission workshop on February 25, 2010.

Mr. Stepnak asked for a review of Board members who would like to attend the workshop.

All of the Board members expressed interest in attending the workshop.


Motion by Mr. Stepnak, supported by Ms. Frame to adjourn the meeting at 8:03 p.m.

All Ayes Motion Carried

Nancy Orewyler , Secretary

Christine A. Hunyady, Recording Secretary  


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