APPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE KENTWOOD ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
CITY COMMISSION CHAMBERS
1. Chair Derusha called the meeting to order.
2. Roll Call
MEMBERS PRESENT: Les Derusha, Garrett Fox, Mel Halloway, Richard Lenger, Alan Lipner and Walter Wing
MEMBERS ABSENT: Tom Cutts (arrived late 7:25p.m.),
OTHERS PRESENT: Planner Joe Pung, and Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the applicants, and
Motion by Commissioner Lenger, supported by Commissioner Fox, to excuse Commissioner Cutts from the meeting.
- Motion Carried (6-0) –
- Cutts absent –
3. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
Motion by Commissioner Lipner, supported by Commissioner Fox, to approve the minutes of the November 15, 2010.
- Motion Carried (6-0) –
- Cutts absent -
4. Public Hearing
Applicant: Dustin L. Wadsworth
Location: 3851 Model Court
Request: The applicant wishes to operate an indoor recreational facility at 3851 Model Court, SE. The property is zoned I-1 Light Industrial and does not allow for indoor recreational facilities. The request is for a use variance to allow for an indoor recreational facility to operate at this location.
Applicant sent a letter requesting to table to the January 17, 2011 meeting
Motion by Commissioner Lipner, supported by Commissioner Fox to table the request to January 17, 2011.
- Motion Carried (6-0) –
- Cutts absent -
Applicant: Daniel Mejeur
Location: 5520 Division Ave. SE
Request: The applicant wishes to operate an open-air business on the property. The parcel has an area of .72 acres and a width of 161 feet. The Kentwood Zoning Ordinance requires a minimum lot area of 1 acre and a minimum lot width of 200 feet. The requested variances are for a reduction of .28 acres to the minimum lot area and a reduction of 39 feet to the minimum lot with.
Daniel Mejeur, 5526 S. Division Ave was present to represent the request. He stated
that he plans to shut down one of his businesses in Dorr, MI and would like to reopen a rental facility in Kentwood, MI and keep his current store in Hastings. He stated he plans to cater to the homeowner and to the small contractor. He stated they will be renting out items such as wedding accessories, party tents, tables, chairs, lawn and garden equipment, some construction equipment etc. Mejuer stated he is requesting the variance because he is short on the acreage and the length on the road frontage. He stated he is scaling down the operations in order to meet the building and the land requirements. He stated he is just interested in having a smaller operation.
Mejeur stated in front of the building he would like to have a parking area for his equipment. He stated if you move up to the north about 5 spaces, he would like to put a bobcat, or tractor to draw customer’s attention. He stated Uhaul truck rental would like to become be a part of the operation. He stated they have proposed 2 spots in the front that would be showing a 10ft or 14ft Uhaul truck that would not take more than one parking space and 1 trailer. He stated the rest of the equipment will be in the back of the building where you can get 16 parking spaces. He stated he would like to see 8 of the parking spaces reserved for Uhaul trucks and trailers and the other 8 would be storage for his equipment since he can’t fit all the equipment inside the building. He stated none of the equipment in the back would be exposed at all to the front and not on display; it would be mainly there just for storage and for parking. He stated the majority of his rental equipment will be inside the building. He stated he does not plan to display anything other than a Uhaul truck and trailer in the front and his equipment will be parked in the back.
Derusha asked if the back area would be fenced in. Mejuer stated it is fenced in on the south side and also on the east side. He stated he did not plan on putting a fence up; fences only keep honest people out. He stated that he does plan to have surveillance cameras in the back and also by the entry and exit door in the back. He stated he will also have signs saying you are being photographed.
Derusha asked if the building is one big complex with two separate owners. Pung stated that is correct. Pung stated the equipment he will have stored outside is also a separate parcel. Pung stated there is an access easement that comes around to the back. Pung stated most of the outdoor storage will occur in the rear of the building on a separate parcel. Pung stated since he has four areas in front where he would like to display some equipment is requiring the property to come in for the variance. Pung stated if everything were stored in back it would be fine because there is plenty of storage and lot area, but the parcel where his building is and the other 4 spaces fall short of the minimum requirements for an open air business.
Fox asked if there is a time limit on the partnership with Midway. Mejuer stated there is an easement, but, they are in the process of redrawing the easement. He stated Eldon Bleck and Midway Motors is currently working on a new easement definition in order to work things out, it has not been completed. Mejuer stated he asked for a letter to show they are working on the easment, but it didn’t get done. Meujer stated one proposal was to move their fence to the north about 10 feet or on the east side on the fenceline to possibly move that easement in. Mejuer stated he just needs adequate parking in the back. Another proposal was to have all the parking on the east side of the building on the top but he didn’t want his customers running 5200 yards for equipment. They are working on either moving the fence 10 feet up and also working on who is going to maintain the parking lot. Mejuer stated he doesn’t know where they stand in negotiations at this point.
Fox asked what kinds of businesses can operate in the location. Pung stated any kind of retail business.
Holloway asked how many spots will be taken up in the front of the building. Mejuer stated 4, he would like to keep 2 reserved for U-Haul which will display a 14 foot truck and trailer to let people know they are available. Meujuer stated he will try to put up a sign for One Source Rental that will be reserved spots for parking for his customers. Holloway asked how many parking spots for customers. Mejeur stated he has 3 parking spots and some on the other side also that he can use.
Lenger asked if he looked at signage. Mejeur stated the only signage he will ask for is what is allowed by ordinance.
Wing asked how many stores are unoccupied in the building. Mejeur stated all are unoccupied in the front other than the Tobacco Shop. Mejeur stated he has first option on the space between his proposed store and the Tobacco shop and he asked for first option on that space which would increase his square footage to about 4,500 square feet if he wanted too, he didn’t think he needed it at this time.
Chair Derusha opened the public hearing.
There was no public comment.
Motion by Commissioner Lenger, supported by Commissioner Fox, to close the public hearing.
- Motion Carried (7-0) –
Lenger stated point 1 was met it is a unique piece of property that he is trying to put a business on. Lenger stated point 2 was met this is a unique situation and piece of property. Lenger stated point 3 was met.
Wing stated point 1,2 and 3 were met. Point 1 specifically because it is located in a strip mall, with shared parking and shared driveway. Wing stated point 2 because there aren’t a lot of the strip malls in that area.
Fox concurred adding there is limited parking in the rear of the building.
Lipner, Holloway and Derusha concurred.
Lenger stated point 4 was met, this will be a good use of that property and no one showed up against the request. Lenger stated point 5 is met. Lenger stated point 6 is met because he is trying to make use of a vacant building.
Fox concurred adding the mention of the easements with the adjoining properties.
Lipner concurred especially with the comments on the easements.
Holloway concurred stating the easements once they are completed should be approved by the zoning commission before the appeal takes effect .
Motion by Commissioner Lenger, supported by Commissioner Holloway, to approve V-10-17 in that the basis that the appropriate easement is worked out between Midway Motors and Eldon Bleek.
1. That there are exceptional and extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to the property that do not apply generally to other properties in the same zoning district. The property is in a strip mall located over two parcels with shared parking and drive access,
2. Due to the exceptional and extraordinary circumstances applying to the property, the condition or situation of the specific piece of property for which the variance is sought is not of so general or recurrent a nature as to make reasonable practical the formulation of a general regulation for such conditions or situations.
3. That such variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of a substantial property right similar to that possessed by other properties in the same zoning district and in the vicinity.
4. The variance will not be detrimental to adjacent property and the surrounding neighborhood. Most storage will be at the rear of the building on an easement.
5. Due to the exceptional and extraordinary circumstances applying to the property, the variance will not impair the intent and purpose of this Ordinance.
6. That the immediate practical difficulty causing the need for the variance request was not created by any action of the applicant. The applicant did not create the situation of how the building is divided up over two parcels
- Motion Carried (7-0) –
Applicant: Big Boy Restaurant International LLC
Location: 3110 -28th Street SE
Request: The applicant wishes to place a Big Boy statue on the property. The Zoning Administrator has determined that the proposed statue is considered a sign and therefore subject to the sign requirements of the City of Kentwood Zoning Ordinance. The applicant is appealing the Zoning Administrator’s determination that the proposed Big Boy statue is considered a sign.
Tom Shablonski, Director of Facilities for Big Boy Restaurants International, 1 Big Boy Dr. Warren MI was present to represent the request. He stated the Big Boy statue is part of their brand and they do not consider him being a sign.
Shablonski displayed pictures of the original Big Boy statue and spoke about the founder of Big Boy. Shablonski showed the changes and how people view Big Boy as a part of culture and how Hollywood has used him and how many people want their picture taken with him. He displayed how they would like to place the Big Boy statue. He stated they put the Big Boy statute in front of their buildings because people/tourists like to take pictures with him, they don’t use him for signage.
Shablonski stated they would like to place Big Boy on the sidewalk and dress the area up with planters, a bench and make it more architecturally pleasing and softer. He stated Big Boy is there for photographs he is not there for signage. He stated Big Boy is an expectation for customers and tourists.
Holloway asked how much signage they have without the Big Boy. Shablonski stated they have 3 signs on the wall of the building and they are at 71 square feet and they are allowed 75 square feet. Holloway stated they say Big Boy is not a sign but yet it’s used in their 71 square feet so that becomes a sign as it faces on the building.
Wing asked if the Big Boy statue says big boy on his shirt. Mr. Shablonski stated if that is an issue he can take Big Boy off his shirt.
Derusha stated the ordinance states any object, device, display or structure situated outdoors or indoors which is used to advertise, identify display direct or attract attention to an object person, institution, organization, business product service, event or location by any means including words letters figures designs symbols, fixtures, colors illumination or projected images.
Shablonski stated this is the first time he has had to substantiate that the Big Boy statue wasn’t a sign. He stated he has never had to include him in signage square footage allowances.
Fox asked if we were to remove the running Big Boy on the wall and place the statue will that fit the sign requirements. Pung stated he would have to get an interpretation from the Zoning Administrator because one is wall signage and the Big Boy statue is freestanding because it is not attached to the wall. Shablonski stated that is certainly a consideration if that were approved.
Lenger asked if he had any places where he can put the statue inside. Shablonski stated they do put a smaller 4 foot statue inside for the tots. He stated the adults want the big guy and he’s lifesize. He stated in every store they put the 4 foot Big Boy inside.
Derusaha asked if the big boy were inside are their different signage regulations. Pung stated the zoning ordinance allows for window signage that is limited to 25% of your window area. Pung stated if the Big Boy were placed inside by the window then it would be considered a window sign as opposed to an exterior sign.
Derusha stated we are trying to avoid having everyone on 28th Street come in and ask for signage if this were granted. Derusha stated if we could come up with a compromise of either the Big Boy go inside or he can remain on the outside and trade him for the Big Boy that is on the building.
Shablonski stated he would prefer to put him on the outside and if they had to take the running Big Boy wall signage down and he fits within what is allowed he will take it to the executives.
Fox asked how much do they have for a freestanding or is it taken up by a joint sign. Pung stated they have a joint sign and that is maxed out and if it weren’t then they can only get one freestanding sign for the property. Fox asked if it were placed on top of the building is that still considered freestanding. Pung stated the ordinance prohibits signage from extending above the roofline. The only exception is for temporarily allowing roof mounted balloon signs and that is limited to 30 days per calendar year and that is considered a portable sign.
Discussion ensued regarding signage
Pung stated they could table action and allow for staff to discuss with the Zoning Administrator. Pung stated the other option would be they could consider it a sign but work with staff to see if there are other options.
Pung stated what is before the commission is to determine whether or not the Big Boy is considered a sign based on the Kentwood Zoning Ordinance. The applicant is not asking for a variance for signage but a decision as to whether or not the Zoning Administrators interpretation that the statue is a sign is correct.
Chair Derusha opened the public hearing.
Rick Geenan owner of the property gave the history of the site. He stated they feel very fortunate to have Big Boy and Zondervan’s go in the building.
Motion by Commissioner Lipner, supported by Commissioner Fox to close the public hearing.
- Motion Carried (7-0) –
Cutts stated based upon the description he feels that the Big Boy is more of a figure, therefore it is defined as a sign.
Fox stated that it is not an issue of the presence of the Big Boy it is the way that is defined and we are limited to what is available for signage. He stated that is why we are trying to help look for alternatives to incorporate Big Boy into the setting. Fox stated he can see this becoming a trend along 28th Street if we allow them to place Big Boy outside the door.
Lipner stated he agrees that Big Boy is an architectural element, it is not a sign it is a recognition of a franchise of a dynasty. He stated he feels it is not a figure that is a sign. Lipner stated it is something that is recognition of that entity and stated he agrees with the interpretation of the representatives.
Lenger stated he doesn’t want to deny Big Boy from doing business and doing well. He stated it is a problem because we don’t want to set a precedence with signs everywhere. He stated he would hate to see Big Boy go away so if we can make this work so that everyone is happy will be the best way to go.
Lipner stated he looks at other Big Boys and they have always had that figure, not as a sign, but as an architectural piece to identify that establishment. He stated he would like to see the Big Boy retained in Kentwood and prosper.
Motion by Commissioner Lenger, supported by Commissioner Holloway, to uphold the Zoning Administrators interpretation that Big Boy is considered a sign because it is recognizable as a place of business and what it is without words.
- Motion Carried (6-1) –
- Lipner dissenting -
Motion by supported by to adjourn the meeting.
- Motion Carried ( 7-0) –
Meeting adjourned at 9:00p.m.
Alan Lipner, Secretary