Kentwood Committees & BoardsAPPROVED MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
Zoning Board of Appeals (Back to index)
Minutes for 01/15/2007
OF THE KENTWOOD ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
CITY COMMISSION CHAMBERS
JANUARY 15, 2007, 7:30 P.M.
1. Chair Derusha called the meeting to order.
2. Roll Call
MEMBERS PRESENT: Jerry Akers, Tom Cutts, Les Derusha, Theresa Dudley, Richard Lenger and Ray Poyner
MEMBERS ABSENT: Alan Lipner
OTHERS PRESENT: Planner Joe Pung, Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Attorney Cliff Bloom, Staff Secretary Monique Collier, the applicants, the press and 50+ citizens.
Motion by Dudley, supported by Lenger, to excuse Lipner from the January 15, 2007 meeting.
- Motion Carried (6-0)-
- Lipner absent -
3. Approval of the Minutes and Findings of Fact
Motion by Lenger, supported by Poyner, to approve the minutes of November 20, 2006.
- Motion Carried (6-0) ?
- Lipner absent -
4. Public Hearing
Applicant: S & K Bistro Holdings, LLC
Location: 1950 44th Street, SE
Request: Pursuant to Section 21.01.B.2 of the Kentwood Zoning Ordinance, the applicant is appealing the Zoning Administrator?s ruling that the figures on the east wall of the building constitute sign display. In addition, the applicant contends that the property has frontage along a private road to the south thus qualifying the property for a total of three wall signs instead of two.
If the appeals to the Zoning Administrator?s rulings are not granted, the applicant is requesting variances for an increase in sign area of 50.33 square feet on the east wall and an increase in the number of signs to permit signage on three sides of the building.
Attorney James Tellman, Attorney at Law, 2140 44th Street was there to represent S&K Bistro Holdings. He reviewed his interpretation of the zoning ordinance concerning the signs that have been placed at the 44th Street Bistro. He stated that 1) the figures that are located on the east wall should not be included in the signage calculations. 2) the signage along the east wall does not exceed the maximum requirement by the ordinance; 3) the number of signs that are located on the premises, the wall signs on the north side, the east side and the south side do not exceed what is permitted by the ordinance. He stated that the 44th Street Bistro is bounded by three streets, on the north is 44th Street, the east is Stauffer and on the south is a private street that provides access to a Meijer gas station, Wendy?s, West Michigan Financial Shared Services, JC Penney Sales Center and Promotion Productions Marketing Strategy Corporation.
Mr. Tellman stated that a sign permit was issued on August 29, 2006 by Joe Pung. He stated that the permit issued was for signs to be located upon the north side, south side and a wrap around sign partially on the east side. Mr. Tellman displayed pictures to Zoning Board illustrating where those signs would be placed. He stated that the permit recognized that signs will be located on those sides of the building. The sign permit that was issued took measurements that indicated that there was 156 feet of building width along 44th Street and 156 feet building width along the south side of the building that would provide a total sign area of 148 square feet. He stated that the north side was a total of 105.82 square feet which included the reader board that wrapped around on the east side. He stated that the south side showed 57.5 square feet, the permit also indicated that it was amended two months later by having the figurines added to the building on the north side which added an additional 39 square feet. Mr. Tellman stated that the sign was installed in accordance with the permit.
Mr. Tellman stated that after receiving the permit his client had discussions with Alpha and Omega, Joseph Adams regarding putting up an additional sign along the east wall. Mr. Adams came to the City of Kentwood the week of September 25, 2006 and had discussions about placing a sign along the east walls and talked to Mr. Pung concerning the sign placement and was assured the sign could be erected also along the east wall that allows approximately 98 square feet of signage. He stated that the discussion revolved around the MC Sporting goods mural and the various types of figurines that were located on the north side, south side and the east side of the MC Sporting Goods facility. At that time Mr. Adams was informed by Mr. Pung that those graphics were not included in the signage that was based upon the litigation that the city had. Mr. Tellman compared their sign with MCSports. Mr. Tellman stated that on October 6, 2006 a second sign permit was issued that allowed for additional signage which was going to consist of certain lettering ?Bistro Sports Lounge, Good Times, Good Food, Good Friends.? He stated that because of the conversation with Mr. Pung regarding MCSporting Goods, the figurines and murals that had been installed were not included in signage, their application did not include anything concerning figurines. He stated that the sign permit for that third wall was signed by Terry Schweitzer. He stated that the sign on file at the City of Kentwood holds both permits one that was issued for the north and south wall and the wrap around sign on the east and the permit for the east wall.
He stated that his client went forward with the installation of the signs and spent thousands of dollars on the installation of the figurines. He stated that after the figurines had been installed a new ruling came from Terry Schweitzer. He stated that the interpretation was different from what Mr. Pung informed their representatives that the figurines are not included; they are now included. Later after that interpretation another one came down and that was they are not allowed to have the sign on the north side, the south side and the east side that had been permitted by the permits.
Mr. Tellman stated that the figurines provide for a corporate image or design that provides for distinction between their building and other buildings that are located within the immediate area. Mr. Tellman stated that they have had Omega Sign go out and measure the sign area at the 44th Street Bistro on the east wall, it indicated that the signage for the text is 31.75 square feet and the baseball player is 22.3 square feet and the football player is 31.25 square feet for a total of 85.3 which is less than the approximate 98 square feet which is allowed by the ordinance. He stated that the sign computation does not include the background area. Mr. Tellman stated that the letters used for the letters and the figurines were included in that area and they believe that is accurate and appropriate type of area.
He stated they believe that it does not prohibit decorations of buildings and they believe that the city has recognized that various corporate entities have freedom and design and expression and to allow for distinction between their buildings and other buildings within the area. Mr. Tellman discussed and showed several different businesses with signs around the whole building walls such as, Gander Mountain, Schwinn, Muffler Man, 54th and Division Nextel dealer, Karate Center, Nextel, Kentwood Fun Center, Stelters Professional Pet Grooming, Carabbas, La Cantina, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Mexican Restaurant, Lentz Muffler, Panera Bread, Ruby Tuesday, Pearle Vision and Witte Travel. Mr. Tellman stated that the photos that were illustrated of the businesses are photographs demonstrative of how the city has looked at its ordinances and looked at the zoning and how it is applicable.
He stated that he thinks that when Mr. Pung informed Mr. Adams the representative for Mr. Karadsheh that this type of graphics were not included that this was a reasonable interpretation and that it was appropriate and they proceeded. Mr. Tellman stated that the sign on the east wall is 85.3 square feet and the ordinance allowing 98 feet that they are within the requirements. Mr. Tellman stated that they have included the measurements of Alpha Omega Decorators which indicate the sign measurements. He stated that the background area was not included. He stated that the signage he has on that wall is appropriate. He stated that the message board that is on that wall as well was part of the original approval of the August permit and is included in the signage along the north wall. He stated that there are a number of reasons why the sports figures should not be included in the signage and stated that they think to interpret the ordinance in such a way would be unreasonable. He stated that the intent of the ordinance is not to regulate the exterior design of the building or to prevent the ability of various entities to have a corporate identity. He stated that you can differentiate yourself with regards to your designs and graphics, the graphics of the sports figures doesn?t illustrate anything that is sold upon the premises nor is it a place that football players play, its not a place in which basketball occurs or which baseball occurs as well. He stated that it is a restaurant in which alcoholic beverages are served and they think it should be permitted.
Mr. Tellman stated that when you review the ordinance there are a lot of definitions, but you can?t find anything in there about murals and corporate identity. He stated that this community is recognized with a lot of variety and freedom as to how the corporate identity is going to be utilized. He stated that his other argument is that he believes that to include these figures will be in violation of law which requires that interpretations can not be arbitrary or capricious. He stated that arbitrary is something that is without adequate determining principal arrived at by will or caprice; without reference to principal circumstances or significance. He stated that capricious means apt to change suddenly or freakish or whimsical. He stated that they believe the signage with the figurines included is arbitrary and capricious because there is no definition principal as to differentiate between the cities treatment of the exterior artwork of the other buildings that he reviewed earlier.
Mr. Tellman stated that one of the zoning administrators found that figurines were not included and another zoning administrator saying that they are. He stated that they proceeded in good faith. He stated that the third argument with the decision to include signage is inconsistent with prior administrative decisions and all the various photographs. He stated that another argument that they have is that they believe that the interpretation violates state law. He stated that the City can?t use its authority to impose rules on an adhoc basis. He stated that there is no basis for anyone to determine what is allowed if you?re going to be interpreting it. He stated that exterior deigns are not regulated.
Mr. Tellman stated that it is ridiculous to suggest that a mountain, a rainbow, a tree , a bicycle, a wave, footprints, figurines, balls, checkers, a sun, bushes or shrubs , other graphics, the red roofs, the stripes the other uses of design and graphics how they can interpret not to and then interpret it so that it applies to the 44th Street Bistro. Mr. Tellman stated that another argument is that the decision concerning the administrator that now they have too many signs is inappropriate. He stated that the permits that were submitted earlier allowed for those signs and to come back three months later and say that it is not allowed.
He stated that he thinks it was recognition that they were bounded by three streets. He stated that they are bounded by three streets; Stauffer 44th Street and the private street to the south. He stated that they think there was a recognition and the permit was issued on that basis. His concern was why the permit would allow them to put signs on the south side. He stated that the permit was also permitted along the east wall and they never rescinded the prior permit. He once again touched upon the many examples that he submitted where signs are located along private drives similar to what they have or even less.
Mr. Tellman stated that another argument is that in the ordinance there are a number of signs that are permitted, in addition to the signs have been mentioned, it allows for non-commercial signs, real estate signs, and institutional bulletin board signs. He stated that each sign is allowed based on the content of what that sign. He stated that it is impermissible to base a sign on its content whether it is permitted or not. He stated that it does not allow municipalities regulation based upon what is in that sign. He stated that as a result of this, other signs that have content that does not necessarily meet that specification are allowed and permitted. He stated that if the signs are interpreted by the zoning administrator as not allowed then they would be allowed as additional signage as permitted because you can?t base it upon what content is.
He stated that his last argument is with regards to the interpretation called a estopple, a estopple is when a municipality when applying their zoning decisions makes decisions and citizens, tax payers and the public rely upon the decisions and they do so in a way that they spend thousands of dollars and in those situations there is no value of what they did as a result of a change in decision. A municipality can not after they have done that go back and say we allowed you but now you can?t. Mr. Tellman stated that it is not fair and it is not right. He stated they believe they should be able to have the signs and it would be unfair after permits are issued and statements are made and reliance is made by taxpayers and citizens for the municipality to come over and say no you lose it all, that part that you did you can?t do now you have to take it off.
Mr. Tellman stated that the other part of the appeal is in the event that the Zoning Board does not grant the interpretations as they have outlined and reviewed, they are requesting the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow a variance that will allow for the signs that are located upon the premises to continue (the number of signs the area of the signs, and how they are configured presently on the property).
He stated that it meets point 1 because the property fronts on three roads (two public and one private). He stated that the extraordinary circumstance is the sign permits issued for three signs on three walls. He stated that they have acted in good faith and thousands of dollars have been spent which will be lost if variance isn?t granted. He stated that the sports figures erected are based upon representations that these types of figurines were not included within sign computations. He stated that point 2 is met because how often do they have things such as this variance come before them. He stated that point 3 was met because an individual in good faith should be able to rely in confidence upon permits that are issued. Mr. Tellman stated that it allowed for signs on all three sides of the building and they think that the representations that were made allow them to preserve statue property rights; they spent $10,000 to put the signs up. He stated that point 4 is met because there have been a number of letters from the property owners in support of the signs. He stated that he has received phone calls and everyone is very supportive and has praised what Mr. Karashedeh is trying to do and how tastefully it was done. He stated that point 5 is met because it doesn?t advertise anything that is specifically being sold on the site; it doesn?t promote any specific activities that have been put upon the site. He stated the intent and purpose to provide for specific signs because it is bounded by three streets so that people using all of these streets are able to see exactly what the various businesses are in order to provide the ability to located them easily, quickly and provide access to them. Mr. Tellamn stated that they believe these figurines are in conformance with a type of corporate identity and they are reasonable and rational. He stated that there are practical difficulties causing the need for the variance, that being that that applicant relied upon the statements of the zoning administrator, the permits that were issued and he has spent thousands of dollars. He stated that they are going to end up with a figurine that is going to be completely useless if they have a contrary decision. Mr. Tellman stated that he thinks it is ridiculous that these figurines are not permitted and yet the other businesses he discussed previously with the different types of figurations and different types of graphics all which seem to be permitted and to make an interpretation that the 44th Street Bistro isn?t; he stated that it was done without reason or rationale. He stated that in the response to the application there was nothing in there that said no we never did tell them that the figurines weren?t included no we didn?t issue permits for all three signs of the building. He stated that they respectively request the Zoning Board to give them the relief that they have requested. He stated that we would like the Zoning Board to grant relief when appropriate and they think that this is appropriate.
Derusha wanted clarification from the city?s perspective of how we got to where we are now. Mr. Schweitzer stated that within the presentation, Mr. Tellman suggested a number of exhibits that showed businesses with sign display as well as assumptions on the basis for the issuance of permits. He stated that the key issue there was whether or not permits were secured for the various buildings that were portrayed. Schweitzer stated to do that justice he would have to go back to see what permits we have on file, if any, to verify what type of interpretation was made, if any. Schweitzer stated that to assume there is a display on three or four sides of a building or two sides of a building is representation of an interpretation and the interpretation is key if it is associated with a permit. He stated that in order to do that he would have to go through each one to verify how they were interpreted. Derusha used the example of KFC on Eastern and 52nd ; he stated that they came before the Zoning Board for a variance and they gave up a whole sign to have the signs on the side of the building. Schweitzer stated that he would have to find out what went in the background of each individual circumstance. Schweitzer stated that with respect to the issuance of the second permit, it was suggested that was made on the assumption of three frontages. Schweitzer stated that he was the individual that issued the permit and it was not based on three frontages, it was assumed that it was a corner lot they were allowed two wall signs. He was aware that they had the wall sign on the north but side he did not realize that we had issued a prior permit for a wall sign display on the south side and that was an oversight. He stated that he should have checked that out before issuing that permit. He stated that in terms of where wall signs can be placed, our ordinance sets up parameters determining how many wall signs are allowed and it is one per street frontage. He stated that it does not specify where that sign has to be placed, it only says that you are allotted one wall sign per street frontage and the wall sign that you put up has to be a function of the wall to which its attached. Schweitzer stated that the examples of having a sign on two sides of the building, even though the building does not appear to have frontage on another street is incorrect, it is based on number and not whether that particular wall faced a street. Schweitzer stated that the method of computation was also brought up in terms of Alpha providing the Zoning Board with an indication it was less than 85 square foot of sign on the east wall. He stated that the method that they used was inconsistent with section 16.04 of the Zoning Ordinance that outlines that you box in the outer limits of the figurine, lettering or graphics in order to compute the sign elements that are the side of the building. Schweitzer stated that it is not a matter of going strictly to the outline to determine your sign measurement. He stated that when Alpha made application for the permit that staff issued, they computed it correctly and their amended computation has no connection which the way the Ordinance states signs are measured in Section 16.04. Schweizter stated that in terms of providing the Zoning Board with the complete picture that was presented, to do justice he would have to go back and look at each exhibit that was presented by Mr. Tellman to provide the Zoning Board with the complete picture and not just an assumption of what took place.
Derusha wanted a point of clarification regarding the north side of the building. Schweitzer stated that the additional two figures on the north relate to the amendment to the original Appearance Product permit issued on August 29, 2006 and amended on October 27, 2006. The October 27 Amendment incorporates those two figurines Schweitzer stated that with his conversation with Alpha they had originally planned for larger figurines but to meet our ordinance requirements they scaled it down in order to come up with figurines that would stay within the overall sign allotment on the north side of the building.
Derusha asked if they were allowed to have 96 square feet on the east side of the building. Schweitzer stated that they are when you get to the way the ordinance computes the allowable sign area. Schweitzer stated that if you are going to have an allowed sign on the east wall it is a function of the width of that particular wall to which that sign will be attached. Derusha asked how many square feet of sign do they have there now. Schweitzer stated that on the east wall it totals 148 square feet if you take each of the individual sign elements and total them.
Poyner?s concern was when Omega applied for the permit on the north side did they calculate the signage correctly with the figures. Schweitzer indicated that their initial application did not include the figures, they amended that application to add the figures in late October. Poyner asked if staff discussed that with them and described how the square footage will be calculated so they shrunk the figurines down to meet the 148 square feet. Schweitzer stated correct. Poyner stated that what he is confused by is that for the east side they calculated correctly on the original application. Schweitzer stated that for what they portrayed on their application. Poyner stated that they didn?t realize that the City was going to say no those figurines are included in the square footage requirement. Schweitzer stated that that was representation that was made to him. Poyner stated otherwise why would they submit something that wouldn?t be in compliance. He stated that if they knew that it was going to be included and they did the calculation correctly they would have submitted something that would not have met the zoning ordinance. Schwietzer stated that the key is the contention that they were told by City staff that the figurines would not be considered part of the sign display. Poyner stated that they are saying that the City staff told them that the figurines will not be included. Schweitzer stated that is correct. Schweitzer stated that with all the discussion that relates back to the MC Sports litigation, where they had a number of objects on the side of the building there were various footballs, baseballs, objects that were sold within the store and staff indicated to them that that was a violation of the zoning ordinance, they sought relief from the Zoning Board of Appeals and they were denied and they filed suit in court to contest that interpretation. That case was settled out of court between the City and the applicant, with the MC Sports acknowledging that the objects were sign display. Schweitzer stated that in that case and at that point in time, the Zoning Ordinance specified that all the space in between the objects was also considered to be part of the computable sign area. Schweitzer stated that is where identifying each of the objects as individual sign elements and just totaling that area as opposed to totaling that area and the dead space in between it no longer represented a violation of the ordinance. Schweitzer stated that case was settled and our zoning ordinance was amended to be consistent with the method of computing the sign area to be the area of each individual element boxed off as opposed to the elements as well as the space in between.
Poyner asked why is the applicant?s attorney saying that is not their understating as to how the MC Sports case was settled. Mr. Tellman stated that what he said was that Mr. Adams from Alpha and Omega came in and had discussions with staff concerning why those figurines that were located on the MC Sporting Goods facilities, including the trees, the mountain etc., were not counted as signage and was informed they were not counted as signage because it was interpreted by the court case as being graphics and not under the signage requirements. Mr. Tellman stated that based upon not being included within a sign area is what his client then relied upon. Discussion ensued between Poyner and Tellman regarding the decision of MCSports. Mr. Tellman stated that the representation was made by staff that that was the decision of the court case. He stated that the representation made to his clients from staff is that based upon that court case that those figurines are not included in signage.
Pung stated that they were told that those figurines would be included with signage. Pung stated that Mr. Adams from Alpha and Omega came to get a sign permit and they had the figures on there Pung stated that he did not issue the sign permit indicating that would be considered signage. He indicated that he had to go back and talk to with his client to see what his client wanted to do but the sports figures would be considered and counted as signage which is why he originally came in and a sign permit was not issued because he had to go back and speak to his client as to what his client wanted to do. He was not told that they would not be considered signage.
Derusha stated that on the original application of August 29, 2006 the amendment of October 27, 2006 includes the figures for the 44th Street portion of the sign which includes the figures.
Mr. Joseph Adams, 382 Andover S.E., owner of the painting company stated that the misunderstanding is that with the initial application all he had for the east side of the building was Bistro Sports Lounge. He stated that he had the letters very large it would covered most of the east side of the building. He stated that Mr. Pung informed him that the letters were way to large and the zoning ordinance would require that they be downsized. He stated that at the time he asked about MC Sporting Goods and he stated that the whole entire face of the building was mural. He stated that his understanding after speaking to Mr. Pung he would have to downsize the words to fit within 90 square feet. He stated that as he understood the conversation graphics were not included as signs and he considered the sports players to be d?cor not a sign. He stated with that understanding he downsized the words to fit within 90 square feet and then painted the mural thinking that they would not be included. He stated that after they were in place and they had already started painting the front ones they were informed that these are included. He stated that he then had to amend his permit downsize the players on the north sides of the building to fit within 39 square feet. He stated that they were not trying to get around anything they were simply trying to improve the looks of the building and add d?cor. Mr. Adams stated that the east side sign permit doesn?t show any figures because he believes that the murals are not signage. He stated that had he known he would have made them the appropriate size. He stated that he asked Mr. Schweitzer for the zoning ordinance and he sent it to him and nowhere in there does it mention murals and every example of a sign was a typical sign with words or a square box where you would put words. He assumed that it was appropriate after looking at other businesses.
Poyner?s concern was the issue of the sign on the south side. He stated that the intent of the ordinance is one sign would be allowed per street frontage. He stated that if they can market their product on each side with a frontage to the community then the ordinance will allow one sign per each side. Mr. Schweitzer stated that is correct. Poyner stated that his sense is that the applicant has put a sign on the south side they must have felt there was a marketing reason to do that otherwise they would not have spent the money to do it. Mr. Karashedeh stated that he has a sign up that says Bistro entrance so when they come in they can come to the family dining or the sports bar for identification purposes.
Poyner stated that the intent is to provide a sign for each frontage road for a building to market the product. Poyner stated that he believes the applicant has found that there is a need or an opportunity to put a sign on the south side because there is enough traffic going down that road even though it is a private road to help market the community. Schweitzer stated that as the applicant has indicated they have two separate entrances prior to the remodeling they had one entrance on the south side of the building that was directly into the restaurant and with the addition it provides him with an allowance because he wanted to have a sign that identified where the restaurant portion was and allowance for the Sports Lounge portion.
Lenger?s concern was about the application on the 29th of October, when it was pulled did his sign permit list the north and south sides and because it was approved and signed he guesses it was assumed by staff that this was a legitimate application and legitimate reason to put a sign up. Schweitzer stated that is correct it was a corner lot and a corner lot is entitled to two wall signs and if they chose to put the wall signs on the north and south walls of the building that was their choice.
Richard Root, Mayor of the City of Kentwood, stated that the issue that is faced is one of community standard. He stated that the standards we are looking at are ordinances. He stated that there has been a great deal of information that was presented and staff would have to sort out every action of every board that has gone before us. He stated that he believes there has been some confusion. Mayor Root stated that one of the issues that come to mind is the fact that we are talking about to east side of the building and that they are saying that the figurines that are on the wall have nothing to do with anything and are just decoration. Mayor Root stated that would be true if the signs did not read sports bar and lounge. He stated that if it were not intended to advertise then they could have put anything up there such as wild horses or flower vases etc. He stated that they clearly represent a sports bar. Mayor Root stated that the word assumption was used by the sign painter, he assumed he could put those sports figures on the wall. Mayor Root stated that the issue before the board is an issue that concerns the staff and the representations that they made. He stated that he believes that they interpreted the ordinance correctly and they have done what they can to work in conjunction with Mr. Karashedeh without always coming to a reasonable result. He stated that an assumption was made on the east side of the building. He stated that Mr. Karashedeh may have believed that they were just simply figurines or artwork but one looks at the intent and the sign that he had put up there and there is no other assumption that could be made other than they are to promote a sports bar and that makes them advertising. Mayor Root stated that when we talk about the ordinances, they are to create a level playing field and a fairness throughout the community; many of the businesses that are located in Kentwood have been subject to those ordinances, except MCSporting Goods and Art Van which were tested in court and we did amend our ordinances to fit the rulings of the court. Mayor Root stated that the ordinances set a fairness test for the rest of the businesses in our community that are in compliance and for us to disregard the compliance with the 44th Street Bistro and now create a new standard would be inappropriate. He stated that as far as favor of the community, he believes that there are many of Mr. Karashedeh customers that are in favor, but more than one city commissioner has raised the issue as to what is going on and why are those signs there. Mayor Root stated that as the chief administrative officer and executive officer of the City of Kentwood, we are enforcing ordinances and as bound by charter and oath of office it is his responsibility to do that. He stated that he believes the criteria in which the Zoning Board has to judge ordinances are very clear and would be difficult to find it any other way except to not honor the appeal.
Elias Rikalla, a resident of Kentwood since 1969 who owns a few properties in Kentwood and is retired, stated that the figurines look very nice. He stated that they do not do any harm to the building. He stated that the building had looked and plain now it looks like a business.
Doug Bush, contractor, stated that he has done a lot of business with the 44th Street Bistro establishment. He stated that he felt that Mr. Karashedeh thought he was acting within the authority that he was given to create these signs.
William F. DeYoung, 2139 43rd Street, stated that he is a civil engineer and surveyor for the City of Grand Rapids for 45 years. He stated that he sees a man that he does not know that has put up a beautiful establishment and he?s paying taxes. He stated that he thinks this building is an asset to the community.
Larry Johnson, 4580 Coutry Hill Drive, stated that he is not a personal friend of the owner of the business. He stated that he read about the article in the paper and he took his family over and introduced themselves. He stated that he is receptive to the community needs. He stated that he drives past the establishment everyday and it bothers him that the signs are covered. He stated that he understands the need for laws, rules and regulations but he also understands that governments may not always follow due diligence and do make mistakes. He stated that business owners should not be forced to pay for these mistakes. He stated that it is a viable business and he is more concerned about the empty buildings in Kentwood. He stated that it is a great addition to the building. He stated that he thinks the board should consider the zoning variance and if he has to reduce the size of the figurines the city should have to pay for some of the cost.
Mayor Root stated that the clarification on the banners is that Mr. Karashedeh was offered the option of either turning off the letter boards until the matter was resolved or covering over the figurines with tarps. He chose to take the less attractive route rather than just turning off the bright yellow letter boards to reduce the signage. He stated that the city did not mandate the tarps be placed.
Arnold Larson, 660 56th Street Apt 10, stated that he is an employee of Mr. Karashedeh. He stated that Mr. Karashedeh had a dream and a vision. He stated that he has spent a lot of time and money to renovate and expand the business. He stated that he is in support of the signs, it is attractive and it they will not cause any traffic accidents.
Mike Brown, 2559 Mapleview Ct., stated that he did research and that he called the first applicant, Appearance Products, and talked to him. Mr. Brown stated the owner of Appearance Products made it clear to him that Mr. Karashedeh that these signs will be in violation and Mr. Karashedeh asked him to do it anyways and he said that he would not. Mike Brown stated that is the reason Mr. Karashedeh hired another company to come do the work. He stated that he would like for the board to hold him accountable and deny the variance.
Kim Schumaker, 4587 Stauffer, lived in Kentwood 10 years. She stated that other businesses are opening up elsewhere and moving outside of Kentwood. She stated that she thinks the city should work with the small business people that are in Kentwood rather than pushing them away. She stated that the city should consider working with him and allow him to have his signs.
Joe Adams, the painter for Mr. Karashedeh, stated that he needs to correct Mr. Mike Brown. He stated that Mr.Karashedeh never asked him to paint any sports figures on the building. He stated that he painted the outside of the restaurant and he came to Mr. Karashedeh with a computer generated image of these sports figures. He stated that those were his ideas. He stated that for Mike Brown to say that Appearance Products told Mr. Karashedeh that he could not paint the figures and then he approached him is a fabrication. He stated that it was entirely his idea and the artwork is a product of his brother. He stated that Mr. Karashedeh never once asked him to paint anything on the east side of the building, it was his idea and he wanted to make money. Sam Karashedeh, S&K Bistro Holdings, stated that Appearance Product gave him a price to do the east wall in neon and he choose to do it differently and Mr. Joe Adams came to him and gave him the idea to do the figurines.
Mr. Tellman stated that Appearance Products never told him that he could not put anything on that east wall and that it would not be permitted. Mr. Karashedeh stated that they gave him a price. Mr Tellman handed Chair Derusha a proposal dated by fax October 5, 2006, which was the day before the application on October 6th for the second permit. Mr. Tellman stated that he had conversation with Jeanine Tobias, an employee of Appearance Products. He stated that he spoke to her directly and she informed him that they made a number of proposals concerning signage including one in October and she had faxed the proposal over to Mr. Karashedeh. She also stated that she did not recall having any conversation with Sam Karashedeh or anyone from 44th Street Bistro concerning the inability of having additional signs located on the north and south walls.
Tom Adams, 3804 Raven, stated that he was one that worked on the wall. He stated that when they were painting people were coming by blowing their horns and telling them that is a great job. He stated that he thinks it is sad that the city is telling Mr. Karashedeh that he is trying to solicit his business with the figurines. He asked are you saying that you don?t want a business to grow in the community, that is sad. He stated that they need to look at the fact that it was tastefully done and it was done with good intentions. He stated that it is great to see something thrive in this economy and if it brings him more business then that is great! He stated that you want businesses to grow, you want to attract people and by denying him signage people may think differently before they come into Kentwood.
There were five letters submitted to the board which were in favor of approving the variance.
Derusha stated that it appears some misinterpretations were made on both sides of the parties. Derusha stated that he would like Mr. Karashedeh to meet with the Zoning Administrator and staff and come to an amicable solution that they think would fit their needs and meet the needs of the city and bring the variance back next month He stated that there are a lot of complications and these kinds of issues need to be worked out with city staff.
Mr.Karashedeh stated the Mr. Schweitzer has a habit of changing his mind more than once. Chair Derusha stated that the solution to the problem is to get together in one room where there is no misinterpretation of what is being said.
Mayor Root stated that he would like to sit down with Mr. Karashedeh to try to come up with an amicable decision. He stated that he is not sure if that could be possible, there needs to be room for both sides to give and take. He stated that Mr. Karashedeh sits down with them, that it may mean some diminishment of some of the signs. He stated that there has to be attention to the community standard. He stated that if there were mistakes by the City in their review he would be willing to take that into account and be glad to discuss with staff and legal counsel. Mayor Root stated that one of the concerns that we have is creating a precedent. He stated that we will do everything we can to come to an agreement.
Schweitzer stated that tabling action on the request would allow them to keep their application on the table and allow for time to meet with them.
Motion by Poyner, supported by Dudley, to table V-06-22 to the February 19, 2007 meeting.
- Motion Carried (6-0)-
- Lipner absent ?
Applicant: Calvin College
Location: 1661 East Paris Avenue, SE
Request: The applicant wishes to construct a sixty (60) foot high wind turbine. The proposed wind turbine is considered an accessory structure and limited to a height of fifteen (15) feet. The requested variance is for an increase in height of forty-five (45) feet.
Henry Devries, Vice President of Administration Finance at Calvin College, 2361 Okemos Dr. was there to represent the request. He stated that they would like to have an experimental wind turbine. He stated that it is a joint project between the State of Michigan Department of Energy and Calvin College. He stated that the project is intended to demonstrate the capacity for wind energy on a small scale to be used by individual residences and small business in the West Michigan area. He stated that it is a class project for the engineering students at Calvin. He stated that they would like to review the energy use on Calvin College and find alternatives to reduce that and be more stewardly. He stated that they are in an R-1 area with 142 acres in Kentwood located at the Gainey Athletic Fields of Grand Rapids Christian High north of Burton and south of lake Dr. on East Paris. He stated that they would like to erect a monopole approximately 50 feet in height. He stated that it is a small scale wind turbine he stated that it will stand no more than 50 feet high and the diameter of the three blades is twelve feet. He stated that the placement is behind the fence within the Calvin College eco system preserve. He stated that they have it behind the fence because the facility might be attractive to the younger brothers and sisters attending athletic events at G.R. Christian high athletic fields and they want to provide the maximum safety. It will be in a confined area behind the 8 foot high chain link fence along the west and north side of the east campus drive. He stated that that the Skystream 37 Turbine needs to be relatively close to the electrical grid. He stated that they could not find a suitable location on the campus property and their intention is to put the pole up on the location to the northwest of the GR Christian schools concession stand and to run the turbine to power that concession stand. He stated that there will be monitoring equipment, which they can see when logging on to the website, so they can check the wind speed and the amount of energy that is produced to determine if this is powering the entire structure. He stated that that is the best place on the east side of the campus; it has a clear western perspective to capture the breeze and is relatively close to the electrical grid since they have to do something to the power that they generate. He stated that it is intentional that this wind turbine is visible from East Paris. He stated that this is an educational project and for it to take its educational value people need to know that it is there. He stated that he thought that it was important for the general public to see the turbine, to inquire about it, to ask question and understand its intentions. He stated that there are a couple of other difficult issues when people are discussing wind turbines. One is the impact of sound in the neighborhood. He stated that the background noise on the operation of the turbine run approximately 40-50 decibels in sound level pressure, which is the same amount of noise in a quiet restaurant. He stated that the maximum is 60 decibels which is considered being inside a noisey office or restaurant. He stated that a concern of wind turbines is that they produce a lot of noise. He stated that the one they are proposing is quiet and the reason it is quiet is that the turbine blades are downstream from the pole. He stated that noise was a concern for them and that one of the challenges as they developed the project was what is the impact on the acoustical character on both the eco system preserve, which is a dedicated green space, and also an impact on the neighbors. He stated that they are 1000 feet west of East Paris Ave and 700 feet north of the nearest neighbor to the south which is property owned by Calvin College, and approximately 1500 feet south of the nearest property to the north, which is another residential property owned by Calvin College. He stated that the significant distance of the placement from any of the neighbors will mitigate the sound impact.
Leanne Bock, 3001 Woodcliff Lane, stated that they took data within a 300 foot radius of the site.
Akers asked if they put up a met tower to know what the wind profile is going to look like. Mr. Devries stated that they have relied on the data that?s been collected at the airport and some preliminary wind studies; they have an anemometer at a high profile location on the east part of the campus on the science building. He stated that the wind data that has been collected shows the average wind speed to be about 12 meters per second and the minimum operating speed for the turbine is about 6.
Akers stated that the biggest problem facing wind turbines in Michigan is the setting and rising of the sun; people ahead and behind the wind turbine can see a strobe effect as the sun passes around the blades that is primarily a problem with large wind turbines, 1 mega watts and larger, with the 100 foot span of the blades. Akers encouraged them to get out to Zeeland High School where they have one. Akers stated that the State of Michigan is working with the governor regarding renewable power and a renewable power portfolio requiring the local utilities to provide a certain percentage of their power through renewable sources and wind is one of those renewable sources.
Mr. Devries stated that the college has been fortunate participation in the engineering and energy demonstration project. He stated that the president is very involved in the energy business and they keep saying that it is not going to work. He stated that they think this is a way to determine the feasibility for this particular type of alternative power.
Derusha?s concern was how long it is supposed to be there. Mr. Devries stated that they expect this to be a long term project.
Lou Van Kuiken, 3909 Lake Dr., stated that he wants to know what is to be learned and why do it. Leanne Bock stated that they have had many different experiments and everything hands on. She stated that they like to see what they are creating and also learn by doing. She stated that the intention is to use the wind turbine in the class to create projects so that students can learn how to construct a wind turbine and how to connect a wind turbine to the gird. She stated that this is student led, and they are taking it on and they are going to build it. She stated that they are learning project management skills also.
Berry Bloomquist, 1820 Rowland SE., stated that his concern is how noisy it is going to be. He stated that his screen porch is on the back of the house and the windows are open and it will be very bothersome if it grinds all night long. He stated that he is excited about the generator. He stated that he would like to here about the generator rather than hear the generator.
Bill Windoski, 1827 Rowland, stated that he is concerned about the noise. He stated that they take a noise generator starting at 50 db run it up to 100 db and then go out 1500 feet, he would be happy to let them sit in the front yard and take noise measurements. He wondered what the point is in putting it up if they want to test it and learn about it, build it take it out there put it on a temporary stand on a good windy day and see that it works and take it down and let someone else build on it next year. He stated that he doesn?t think that we need to make a permanent structure to have the thumping noise in his backyard. He opposes putting the wind turbine up.
John Hickman, 3710 Griggs, stated that he has been there for 25 years. His concern is what the board is trying to decide. Derusha explained that when the board gives a variance it is for a specific item and that item only.
Tom Briggs, 3690 Griggs, stated that he was told that noise is the biggest factor. He stated that Calvin has been a good neighbor. He stated that because this is an experiment he would not object to a trial of this project and after six months of operation, the resident can voice their suggestions and they can ask that it be removed or allow it to stay if it works out. He stated that if it doesn?t have the noise you won?t have any problems and he thinks it is a great educational opportunity for everyone.
Marlowe Pranger, 3694 Lake Dr., stated that he is a strong supporter of Calvin College. He stated that area is a nature preserve and that it would be used for the purpose of studying and performing research on how the nature preserve could exist in a residential neighborhood. The neighbors honored the nature preserve by not setting a foot in the preserve, except on the designated nature trail. He stated that they see daily deer, raccoons, skunks, possums, woodchucks and all small creatures etc. He stated if the purpose is to maintain a preserve with its wildlife how can we now frighten or possibly kill that purpose of the preserve. He stated that a humming, whirling, generator will frighten the wild life. He stated that a generator can be done in many superior areas. He stated that it is not necessary for students and professors to be within walking distance of the site to perform indepth studies of the results. He stated that the windmill height exceeds fifteen feet. He was concerned about whether or not the neighbors will consider installing an environmentally friendly electric generating system identical to Calvin?s. He stated that he doesn?t like to be against the project, but until Calvin restates the purpose of the land, they should live by their stated purposes. He asked the board to not only focus on height restrictions but the entire stated function of the property. He recommended that not one member vote for the proposal.
Ms. Gregg, 1814 Rowland SE, stated that she is the closet property to the windmill. She stated that she thinks it is a wonderful idea, but not there. She stated that the noise doesn?t bother her, her concern is the wildlife. She stated that it is a nature preserve and that is the reason why she bought the house.
Karen Bouma, 1803 Camille, stated that she has concerns with the noise and the height.
Jason Novum, 1972 Observatory, stated that he was involved with the site selection for the turbine. He stated that they choose the site because it is on the border of the nature preserve and not in the middle of the nature preserve. He stated that they chose a spot that would be as far from neighbors as possible to minimize the sound effects and they put it behind the fence for safety reasons. He stated that the range of the 50 decibels was taken at 300 feet. He stated that they do not want it to bother the neighbors so they went with a smaller turbine. He stated that that turbine does not have a gear box and that is the main component that causes noise.
Lou VanGuiken stated that the information that has been provided is not enough to make a decision.
Cutts concern was whether or not they had contacted the neighbors and if so what kind of response did they get prior to the project. Henry Devries indicated that a letter went out last week requesting responses or questions.
Cutts asked if they thought about any alternative sites. Mr. Devries stated that there were many sites that they looked at. He stated that this is an educational hands on project, and that one of the things that is important is their ability to maintain and take care the turbine even after the students graduate in the spring college staff will maintain the wind turbine.
Akers concern was if this request is similar to cell towers and should be something we should address for future request. Schwietzer stated that there are established procedures and review process associated with cell towers. He stated that as far as height provisions in heavy industrials area structures up to 60 feet in height are allowed. He stated that if they looked at industrial sites within the city as an option or they can look at it as the site review process for a cell tower.
Poyner?s concern was what are some of the other accessories. Poyner stated that the variance is not insignificant and we have to think about precedence settings. Schweitzer stated that the most traditional accessory structure in a residential setting is a yard barn and that is limited to a 15 foot height. Schweitzer stated that a request such as this would set precedence with other properties in the area and that is where some of the factors that they identified in terms of separation from perimeter properties has some uniqueness to this site as opposed to other requests that the board may get in the area.
Discussion ensued regarding height and location.
Akers asked if time restrictions can go on zoning variances. Derusha stated that they can put on review restrictions. Derusha asked if they can come up with something to have a review in 6months or a year asked to see if there are any complaints from the neighbors. Schweitzer stated that the board has done that before to test out some of the concerns that have been expressed.
Bill Windoski, a resident, wanted to know that if this is passed will they be able to put one in their back. Derusha stated that the board is there to slow that unless the City comes up with an ordinance to allow them then everyone has to come to the zoning board.
Lenger stated that he wanted to put a wind turbine on his property years ago and one requirement was if that tower fell it would have to fall on his property.
Poyner?s concern was if they were approved how long would it take to have the wind turbine up. Mr. Devries stated that their expectation is it would be installed by the middle of May.
Mr. Devries stated that the wind turbine is on the inside of the fence. He stated that it is on the north side of the east campus drive which separates the public area from the preserve area. Mr. Devries stated that the boundary of the preserve is marked by the 8ft chain link fence. He stated that it will be inside that fence inside the preserve and not within the public area. Mr. Devries stated that the request is being done in consultation with and approval of the preserve board. He stated that they are aware of the project and endorse it.
Akers stated that if it is possible to give them twelve months from at the time of the tower goes up and being operational to do all their studies to see if this is viable. Mr. Devries stated that he thinks that the college would accommodate that and that would give them interaction with the neighbors.
Poyner stated that with regards to the variance he would not allow it to be closer than 700 feet to the property line or lock in that spot itself and not just provide that variance to the entire property but the variance will be provided at that spot. Mr. Devries stated that their intention is to stay north of the fence.
The residents agreed that one year would be enough time and wanted to make sure that their input is considered not just whether this turbine was working or not.
Motion by Lenger, supported by Poyner to close the public hearing.
- Motion Carried (6-0) ?
- Lipner absent ?
Poyner stated that point 1 was met due to the discussion with regards to location on the property. Poyner stated that point 2 was met as long as there is a time constraint and requirement to be so far from the property line. He stated that point 3 was met.
Dudley stated that points 1,2 and 3 have not been met.
Akers stated that points 1, 2, and 3 have been met.
Lenger concurred that points 1, 2 and 3 have been met
Cutts stated that points 1 and 2 have been met and point 3 was not met.
Derusha stated that points 1, 2 and 3 have been met.
Poyner stated that with point 4 there are concerns but with the time constraint of one year that it has been met. Poyner stated that point 5 was met because it is restricted to a certain distance to the property line and there is time constraint. Poyner stated that point 6 was met.
Dudley stated that points 4, 5 and 6 have not been met.
Akers stated that point 4 was met with the time constraints. He stated that point 5 and 6 have been met.
Lenger stated that he concurred that point 4, 5 and 6 have been met
Cutts stated that points 4 and 5 were met and point 6 was not met.
Derusha stated that he believes points 4, 5 and 6 have been met.
Motion by Lenger, supported by Akers, to approve V-07-01 with a timeline of 12months from the date that the turbine is operational and report back to the Zoning Board to allow for an assessment of any nuisances associated with the turbine.
1. That there are exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to the property that do not apply generally to other properties in the same zoning district. The size of the property, approximated 142 acres and its use as a nature preserve for educational purposes is unique and exceptional compare to other properties in the same zoning district.
2. Due to the exception circumstances (size and use) applying to the property 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 a 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. Due to the significant setbacks that can be attained from adjacent residences due to the size of property and the condition to review the request after 12 months of operation the variance will not be detrimental to adjacent property and the surrounding neighborhood.
5. Due to uniqueness of the request and the exceptional circumstance 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 need for the variance is due to the requirements of the wind turbine (700?) in order to be effective in generating energy and as learning for the college students.
- Motion Carried (5-1) ?
- Dudley dissenting ?
Applicant: Encore Motor Cars
Location: 5091 Broadmoor Avenue, SE
Request: The applicant wishes to operate an open-air business (vehicle sales) on the former site of a vehicle rental operation. Section 15.04.T.3 of the Kentwood Zoning Ordinance requires Buffer Zone ?B? (20 foot wide landscaped area) along the rear and side lot lines. The existing site has a landscaped buffer of fifteen (15) feet along the west lot line and ten (10) feet along the south lot line. The requested variances are for reductions of five (5) feet and ten (10) feet to the required landscaped buffer and to waive the vegetation requirements.
Motion by Akers, supported by Dudley to table the request to the February 19, 2007 meeting.
- Motion Carried (6-0) ?
- Lipner absent -
5. Other Business
1. Election of Officers for 2007
Les Derusha ?Chair
Richard Lenger ? Vice Chair
Jerry Akers - Secretary
Motion by Poyner, supported by Lenger to elect the following officers.
- Moition Carried (6-0) ?
- Lipner absent -
Motion by Akers, supported by Poyner, to adjourn the meeting.
- Motion Carried ( 6-0) ?
- Lipner absent -
Meeting adjourned at 11:00 p.m.
Jerry Akers, Secretary