Reference Desk


Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes - April 27, 2011



April 27, 2010

On April 27, 2010, a regular meeting of the Chesterfield Township Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Township Hall located at 47275 Sugarbush, Chesterfield, 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

James Klonowski, Vice-Chairman

Carl Leonard, Planning Commission liaison

Michele Ficht, Township Board liaison

Gerald Alexie

Wendy Jones

Absent: Thomas Yaschen, Secretary, excused

Mr. Shawn Shortt attended the meeting as the representative of the Building Department.


Chairman Stepnak explained the procedures to the audience.

4. ZBA PETITION #2011-03: Achatz Home Made Pie Company, 30301 Commerce Blvd., Chesterfield, MI 48051. Requesting a 25" front/side yard variance for addition to an existing building located on the corner of Commerce Blvd., and North Bay Drive at the above address.

LeRoy J. Stevens, AIA, 209 Huron Ave., Port Huron, MI 48060 addressed the board.

Petitioner stated that he was the architect for Achatz and that the expansion was a simple project. He explained that Achatz has an industrial building where they make pies. The building is in an industrial park on a corner lot and they would like to put an addition of two truck wells on to the building to improve the flow of traffic and increase production. He elaborated that there is some vacant land next to the Achatz building, but it has a right-of-way of Detroit Edison with some overhead lines, so they cannot expand in any other direction. The addition would not encroach on the corner at all because they would not be expanding office space. The expansion would only be for the manufacturing part of the building which would put them in the required setback. He stated that the expansion would not affect view or parking. He explained that they went to the Planning Commission and that board approved of the expansion, but made a motion for them to go in front of the Zoning Board for the variance on the setback. He stated that they would recommend that the ZBA approve the variance because they did not see anything wrong with the expansion.

Chairman Stepnak asked Mr. Leonard for any input on the matter because he explained that Carl was the liaison to the ZBA from the Planning Commission.

Mr. Leonard asked basically what the plan entailed was Achatz trying to get a little bit closer to the center line of the road?

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Leonard stated that he did not really have anything at this point.

Chairman Stepnak asked Mr. Leonard if Planning had any major concerns about the expansion?

Mr. Leonard stated that he did not attend the last meeting. He asked where the expansion was actually going? He asked if it was going where there is parking?

Petitioner answered that the addition would only be where there is grass. He stated that the parking is located on the other side of the building.

Mr. Leonard asked if the addition would be for loading and unloading products?

Petitioner answered yes. He stated that the business has been hampered because the loading and unloading of products takes so much time with having to pull pallets off the trucks. He stated that production would go much smoother with the addition of the two truck wells, a staging area and a pit. He mentioned that the storm sewer is down fourteen feet, so it would be plenty deep for the drainage. He reiterated that the area were they are planning to build is only grass and there is plenty of landscaping out farther.

Mr. Leonard stated that he was at a little disadvantage because he did not attend the last Planning meeting. He asked Chairman Stepnak if he had received anything in a written form from Planning concerning this matter?

Chairman Stepnak stated that he did not see anything concerning Achatz. He explained that the board would consider a recommendation from Planning, but the ZBA would make the decision on the merit of the petition.

Mr. Leonard asked the petitioner if he would be going back to Planning if the ZBA approved the variance for the setback?

Petitioner answered yes. He reiterated that Planning made a motion to send it to the ZBA with a recommendation that the board approves the variance and then it would go back to the Planning Commission for the final site plan approval.

Mr. Klonowski asked if that meeting was in April?

Mr. Leonard stated that it was probably two weeks ago.

Mr. Klonowski stated that he was asking because the only Planning minutes he had were from the 29th and at that time it was mentioned that this was up for administrative request.

Chairman Stepnak asked if there were any other concerns mentioned in the minutes?

Mr. Klonowski stated that it was noted that the engineers have indicated that because of the complications of this they would like to see a full site plan.

Chairman Stepnak stated that the petitioner would have to go back to Planning and that the ZBA would only be dealing with the zoning issues at this level. He mentioned that the petitioner would be subject to any site plan and engineering concerns.

Mr. Klonowski stated so the board would only be looking t the setback requirements.

Chairman Stepnak responded yes.

Ms. Jones had no questions.

Mr. Alexie stated that he had been out to the site that afternoon and he agreed that there was nothing in the proposed expansion area but grass. He stated that it looked like the petitioner’s planned to put in a couple of doorways through.

Petitioner answered yes.

Mr. Alexie stated that he did not really have a problem with it at all.

Ms. Ficht stated that she did not have any questions and commented that the variance was pretty straight forward.

Mr. Shortt stated that he was concerned about some refrigerated trucks out on the property. He asked if the petitioners planned to pull those trucks out if this variance would be approved.

Petitioner answered yes because once they get the truck wells and that additional space, the product will get moved out fast and they would no longer need the trucks. He explained that the trucks were only there to hold product that is going out.

Mr. Shortt stated that the Building Department did not really have a problem with the board granting the variance. He commented that in fact he thought it would clean up the site.

Chairman Stepnak stated that in this economy he did not want to be side tracking a profitable business in our community right now. He mentioned that he had been in Achatz many times and that it was a phenomenal business and they are glad it is located in our community. He does not see any problems in that area. He understands the need for the truck wells to streamline the manufacturing of the product. He stated that he did not have a problem with it.

Mr. Alexie asked the petitioner if Achatz owned the building or leased it?

Petitioner stated that they own the building.

Mr. Alexie commented that was even better.

Mr. Shortt asked if the petitioner’s ever thought of coming in front of the board for some signage on Gratiot?

Ms. Ficht stated that Achatz came in front of Planning when she was on the board last year for a sign out on Gratiot. She stated that the only thing Achatz could do would be to go the people who own the office part that have the big thing in the island and see if they wanted to work it out and do something with them. She stated that was about as far as Planning got with the sign situation.

Mr. Leonard mentioned that Achatz would probably have to put up a pylon sign with multiple tenants listed on it.

Chairman Stepnak mentioned that he thought it was a PUD and basically that would pretty much govern the signage and what does or doesn’t go in there. He stated that the problem was that this area was developed as an industrial park and there did not seem to be a need for something commercial to go in and it kind of challenges the law. He stated that they should stick to what was in front of the board.

Motion by Mr. Klonowski to approve Petition #2022-03 Atchatz Homemade Pie Company, 30301 Commerce Boulevard, Chesterfield, for the requested 25’ front and side yard variance for an addition to an existing building located at the corner of Commerce Boulevard and North Bay Drive. The trailers that are now used for refrigeration upon completion will be eliminated from the property.

Supported by Mr. Leonard.

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted


Mr. Klonowski referred to the situation at the previous ZBA meeting concerning the conversion of the multiple family structure to a single family home. He asked if the single new single family structure would burn down if the family could just rebuild or if they would have to come back in front of the board to request another variance.

There was a rather lengthy discussion among the board members on what happens after a variance is approved as far as non-conforming status.

There was also a discussion about signage, lighting and garage size issues in Chesterfield.


There was no new business.


Motion by Mr. Klonowski to approve the minutes from the April 13, 2011 ZBA meeting.

Supported by Mr. Alexie

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted


There were no comments from the floor.


Motion by Chairman Stepnak to adjourn at 7:34 PM.

Supported by Ms. Ficht.

Ayes: All

Nays: None Motion Granted

Thomas Yaschen, Secretary

Grace Mastronardi, Recording Secretary

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