Planning Commission Minutes 06-14-2018

View the PDF version Google Docs PDF Viewer

                                    CITY OF MUSKEGON
                                  PLANNING COMMISSION
                                    REGULAR MEETING
                                         MINUTES

                                           June 14, 2018

Board member B. Larson called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. and roll was taken.

MEMBERS PRESENT:               B. Larson, J. Doyle, J. Montgomery-Keast, E. Hood, M. Hovey-
                               Wright,

MEMBERS ABSENT:                B. Mazade, excused; F. Peterson, excused; S. Gawron, excused; T.
                               Michalski

STAFF PRESENT:                 M. Franzak, D. Renkenberger

OTHERS PRESENT:                D. Kamps, 1885 N. Buys Rd; S. Radtke, 1669 Peck St; B. Krick,
                               1762 Jefferson St.; B. Dodge, 90 W Larch; D. Winters, 1515 Peck
                               St.; S. Schiller, 1828 Edgewater; K. Farmer, 1668 Jefferson St.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
A motion to approve the Minutes of the special Planning Commission meeting of May 21, 2018,
was made by J. Montgomery-Keast, supported by J. Doyle and unanimously approved.

PUBLIC HEARINGS
Hearing, Case 2018-16: Request for a special land use permit to operate a non-profit organization
that will house up to four men (aged 18-24) that have recently graduated out of foster care living,
along with a live-in house manager, at 1670 Peck St, by Step Up. M. Franzak presented the staff
report. The property is zoned RM-1, Low Density Multi-Family Residential District. Step Up
runs a similar facility for women at 1319 Peck St, which is also is located in an RM-1 district.
This house measures 2,250 sq ft. and has three bedrooms; the applicant plans to convert the extra
kitchen on the second floor into another bedroom. There is ample off-street parking for residents
and guests. Notice was sent to property owners and tenants within 300 feet of this property. At
the time of this writing, staff had not received any comments from the public. Staff recommends
approval of the special use permit, as this is an appropriate location and building for the proposed
use.
D. Kamps spoke on behalf of Step Up. He described their program to assist foster kids who had
aged out of the foster care system. He had previously applied to rezone a different house in the
area but had been turned down because the area was zoned for single family residences. S. Radtke
lived across the street from 1670 Peck and stated that he was opposed to the request. He stated
that he had invested a significant amount of money into converting his home to a single family
residence. He felt that the area was becoming saturated with shelter-type facilities and that it could
negatively affect his property values. M. Franzak explained that the house at 1670 Peck St was
already zoned for multi-family use. The reason a special use permit was needed was for a departure
from the definition of “family” that would allow non-related adults to live in the house together.
They had no plans to break up the house into separate apartments, although that would be allowable
under the RM-1 zoning. B. Krick lived in the area and was also opposed to the request. He stated
that Step Up was an excellent program but he was concerned that all the different uses and zoning
districts on Peck St. had a negative effect on the residential character of the area. M. Franzak
stated that Peck St. has had RM-1 zoning since at least 1986 and it had always been an area where
businesses, single family, and multi-family uses co-existed. To change that, a rezoning would be
necessary. D. Winter stated that she supported Step Up and the request for a special use permit.
She had been a foster mother and was glad to see that kids who aged out of the system would have
somewhere to go. B. Dodge lived in the area and was opposed to the request. He stated that the
zoning ordinance stated that foster care homes required 1500 feet of separation between them; he
did not think that was the case in this area. M. Franzak stated that the 1500 feet rule was for large
AFC homes, which allowed many more residents than Step Up was proposing. The Step Up facility
would be more similar, albeit smaller, to a small AFC home, which had no separation
requirements.
A motion to close the public hearing was made by J. Doyle, supported by J. Montgomery-Keast
and unanimously approved.
A motion that the request for a special land use permit to operate a non-profit organization that
will house up to four men (aged 18-24) that have recently graduated out of foster care living, along
with a live-in house manager, at 1670 Peck Street, by Step Up, be approved was made by J.
Montgomery-Keast, supported by M. Hovey-Wright and unanimously approved, with J. Doyle, J.
Montgomery-Keast, E. Hood, M. Hovey-Wright, and B. Larson voting aye.

Hearing, Case 2018-17: Request for a special land use permit to increase a non-conforming
structure no more than 30% at 1828 Edgewater St, by Steven Schiller. M. Franzak presented the
staff report. The property is zoned R-1, Low Density Single-Family Residential. The applicant
is requesting to build a covered porch on the front of the home, which would line up with the rest
of the home along the west side. The house is considered legally non-conforming because it does
not meet the required eight foot side yard setback on the west side; the side setback is only three
feet off the property line. A one-story addition like this requires a six foot side setback unless a
special use permit is granted to increase the non-conformity up to 30%. This addition would
constitute much less than a 30% addition and would match the current 3-foot setback of the house.
Notice was sent to all property owners and tenants within 300 feet of this property. At the time of
this writing, staff had not received any comments from the public. Staff recommends approval of
the special use permit, as it is under a 30% addition.
J. Doyle asked if this type of situation was common in this area. M. Franzak affirmed that non-
conforming structures were quite common in the Bluffton area, especially for waterfront homes
such as this one. If the porch addition was built to conform to the six-foot side setback, it would
not look right or match the rest of the house. S. Schiller showed board members a rendering of
the proposed porch addition, which was on the front of the home facing the water.
There were no comments from the audience. A motion to close the public hearing was made
by J. Montgomery-Keast, supported by J. Doyle and unanimously approved.
A motion that the request for a special land use permit to increase a non-conforming structure no
more than 30% at 1828 Edgewater Street be approved, was made by J. Montgomery-Keast,
supported by E. Hood and unanimously approved, with J. Doyle, J. Montgomery-Keast, E.
Hood, M. Hovey-Wright, and B. Larson voting aye.

Hearing, Case 2018-18: Request to rezone the property at 939 E Laketon Ave from B-2,
Convenience & Comparison Business District to B-4, General Business District, by Christine
DeVries. This case was withdrawn at the request of the applicant.

Hearing, Case 2018-19: Request for a special land use permit to operate a car dealership at 939 E
Laketon Ave, contingent upon the successful rezoning of the property, by Christine DeVries. This
case was withdrawn at the request of the applicant.

Hearing, Case 2018-20: Staff-initiated request to amend Section 2311 of the zoning ordinance to
allow accessory structures in front yards on corner lots, under certain conditions. M. Franzak
explained the reasoning behind this request. Per the current Zoning Ordinance, accessory
structures such as sheds and garages may not be located in a front yard. This makes it difficult for
owners of properties on corner lots to build a shed or garage without first obtaining a variance
from the Zoning Board of Appeals, since corner lots technically have two front yards. These
variances have traditionally always been approved. Staff is proposing to amend the ordinance to
allow these accessory structures on corner lots as long as it is not in the front yard of the main
street (the street where the main entrance is located). The proposed amendment to Section 2311:
Accessory Structures & Buildings is italicized: “Front Yard, prohibition: Buildings or structures
accessory to the principal shall not be permitted in any front yard, except for corner lots, which
may be placed in the front yard on the secondary front street (street that does not contain the main
entrance to the home).”
There were no comments from the audience. A motion to close the public hearing was made by
J. Montgomery-Keast, supported by J. Doyle and unanimously approved.

A motion that the request to amend Section 2311 of the zoning ordinance to allow accessory
structures in front yards on corner lots as proposed above, be recommended to the City
Commission for approval was made by J. Montgomery-Keast, supported by E. Hood and
unanimously approved, with J. Doyle, J. Montgomery-Keast, E. Hood, M. Hovey-Wright, and
B. Larson voting aye.

Hearing, Case 2018-21: Staff-initiated request to amend Section 2331 of the zoning ordinance to
allow six foot tall fences in front yards on corner lots in residential areas, under certain conditions.
M. Franzak explained the reasoning behind this request. Per the current Zoning Ordinance, six-
foot tall fences are not allowed in front yards. This poses a problem for property owners on corner
lots, which are considered to have two front yards. Home owners are forced to reduce their usable
back yard space by fencing in only a portion of their back yards. The proposed amendment to
Section 2331: Landscaping, Fencing, Walls, Screens and Lighting, 14. b) is italicized: “Front
yards: In any residential front yard (in front of any building line of a structure which abuts a
street), the height of a fence shall not exceed three (3) feet, unless an open fence is provided (e.g.,
chain link, picket) in which case it may be a maximum height of four (4) feet when such fence
does not reduce visibility or interfere with clear vision at intersections, alleys and drives. Corner
lot exemption: Corner lots may have a six-foot tall fence on the secondary front yard (along the
street that does not contain the main entrance to the home) as long as clear vision is maintained.”
M. Franzak stated that any possible vision obstructions would be addressed by the inspector
reviewing the fence permit application.
There were no comments from the audience. A motion to close the public hearing was made by
J. Montgomery-Keast, supported by E. Hood and unanimously approved.

A motion that the request to amend Section 2331 of the zoning ordinance to allow six-foot tall
fences in front yards on corner lots in residential areas in some instances as proposed above, be
recommended to the City Commission for approval, was made by M. Hovey-Wright, supported
by J. Montgomery-Keast and unanimously approved, with J. Doyle, J. Montgomery-Keast, E.
Hood, M. Hovey-Wright, and B. Larson voting aye.

NEW BUSINESS

None

OLD BUSINESS

None

OTHER

K. Farmer addressed the board regarding her neighborhood on Jefferson Street. She was
concerned about the historic larger homes being converted to business or multi-family use. She
stated that she and her neighbors worked hard to maintain their homes as single family residences
and they wished to maintain the residential character of their neighborhood. M. Franzak stated
that the City had no plans to change that area to multi-family housing, and he encouraged Mrs.
Farmer to contact city staff if any violations were noted by neighbors. He also suggested that she,
and anyone else who was concerned about their neighborhood, should attend upcoming public
meetings that would be held in conjunction with updating the City’s Master Plan.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:36 p.m.

Top of Page