New: Your feedback can help make our next website better!

Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes: November 15, 2012

BZA minutes are transcribed in a summarized manner. Audiotapes are available in the Planning Department for reference. Videotapes are also available for viewing in the Audio-visual (CATS) Department (phone #349-3111 or E-mail address: of the Monroe County Public Library, 303 E. Kirkwood Ave.

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) met in the Council Chambers at 5:30 p.m., members present: Aquila, Murray, Klapper and Joe Hoffmann. Hoffmann is a new Board member. He is replacing Tom Seeber who stepped down after (12) twelve years of service.


August 23, 2012

September 20, 2012

**Murray moved to approve the 7/19/12, 8/23/12, and 9/20/12 minutes as distributed. Klapper seconded. Motion carried unanimously.


Patrick Shay, Development Review Manager, announced that Case #UV-48-12 (Trish Ierino @ 3900 E. Stonegate Dr.) should be continued to the December meeting; it was placed on the agenda as a case to be heard. **Murray moved to continue this case to the 12/20/12 meeting. Klapper seconded. Motion carried unanimously.


· V-40-12 Chris Bomba

312 N. Washington St.

Request: Variances from density, side yard, and rear yard setback standards.

Case Manager: Patrick Shay

Patrick Shay (Development Review Manager) presented the staff report. This property is located mid-block, one property north of 7th Street. There is an alley to the north and to the east. The property is 0.2 acres in size which is a standard City lot. The property is zoned Residential Multifamily (RM); it's in our Downtown designation for the Growth Policies Plan (GPP). The existing structure was used as an unregistered rental for many years. It was an owner-occupied structure. When the petitioner bought the property we found that it had 6 kitchens and approximately 9 bedrooms. The units appeared to date back several decades and included individual metering, kitchens, and entries. The petitioner is seeking a variance approval to allow the existing structure to be remodeled into three, 3-bedroom units. In the rear yard, there is a drive that runs along the alley. There is also an existing detached garage along the rear property line. When Staff met with the petitioner, we tried to figure out what made sense with this property. The zoning on the property would allow for 1.5 units, which could be utilized DUEs. You could also have one, 5-bedroom house at this location. The zoning on the property is less than the densities that are surrounding it. In Staff's opinion, having three 3-bedroom units is appropriate and certainly makes sense. In addition to that, the petitioner is also requesting an approval to construct a second structure on the back of the property-along the alley. This structure would have garage space on the first floor and a fourth, 3-bedroom unit on the second floor. The addition of the garage unit would bring the overall density of the property to 20 units per acre. The RM zoning district allows for a maximum of 7 units per acre. Staff has also analyzed the surrounding area. The property is surrounded with larger multi-family structures to the north, south, and east (Pavilion Heights @ 48.9 units per acre, Omega Manor @ just over 30 units per acre, and then two projects to the north at 22 and 29 units per acre.) Shay noted the policies in this area have changed. The majority of those projects were approved under a previous Zoning Ordinance-under the Downtown Development Opportunity Overlay (DDOO). Shay said the DDOO allowed for some additional densities. Staff finds that the variance criteria can be met for the remodeling of the existing structure into an appropriate multi-family configuration. However, Staff finds that the remodeled home will provide for appropriate use of property and does not find any hardship in not adding additional density over what can reasonably be placed within the existing structure. To that end, Staff is not supportive of the second building on the back of the property. Staff finds no practical difficulty or hardship in this case. Staff believes utilizing the existing structure is appropriate. Staff is recommending a partial approval. Various upgrades will take place on the property i.e., utilities, sidewalk brought into ADA compliance along Washington St., the dumpster is to be enclosed. The remodel will allow the internal units to be inspected and brought into a safer condition. Staff finds reallocation of the existing space to be a reasonable resolution for the reuse of the structure. Returning this structure to single-family would prove difficult and unnecessary. Shay noted that although the proposed garage structure would not be out of scale for the area, Staff does not find the criteria to warrant further variance from density restrictions of the area. Therefore, the second floor residential unit shall be removed from the garage structure. Staff recommends approval of this petition based on the written findings in the staff report, including the following conditions:

1. The second floor and residential unit shall be removed from the garage structure.

2. The sidewalk along N. Washington Street shall be brought into ADA compliance.

3. No lighting is approved with this request. Any future lighting shall meet current UDO standards.

4. If a detached garage structure is constructed, the dumpster must be fully enclosed in this structure with a closable door.

5. If a detached garage structure is constructed, it must maintain a 5-foot setback from the north property line.

6. If a detached garage structure is constructed, tree protection fencing must be placed near the dripline throughout construction so that construction equipment and material is not placed on the root system of the tree.

Chris Bomba, petitioner, said when he purchased the property it was kind of a unique structure. It took him three or four visits to understand exactly how the property was laid out and how it was used; the structure is very cut up. As it stands now, it's a multi-family dwelling with six kitchens and nine bedrooms. There are four separate, distinct entrances to this structure. Also, there are six electrical meters on the back of the house. He's in agreement with Planning in terms of the reconditioning of the house to three, 3-bedroom units. He is also requesting to remove Condition of Approval #1, in order to put a 2-bedroom apartment above the garage in the back of the property. There is a lot of green space behind the house. He's going to try and preserve the green space and trees. He's had multiple City departments and community members visit the property and they've given him input. A lot of the feedback has been positive and encouraging. He also spoke to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). The property isn't currently listed on any map or contributing to the neighborhood in a historic way. He met with the neighborhood association and walked them through the house changes as well as the addition on the back of the property. They were very supportive of the project and liked that the property would be cleaned up. Basically, the plan is to completely rebuild the house from the inside; the roof also has to be replaced. The plan is to preserve some of the original windows. He tried to utilize three of the four entrances that were already on the property, and also tried to separate them so there isn't one common entrance. So, there is one entrance on the front (Washington Street), an entrance on the sidewalk where there is a current location into another unit, and an entrance into the back of the building. The goal was to try and avoid common area and too many people conversing on one spot. The exterior of the building will not change much. A lot of mature trees (4 or 5 trees) will be preserved on the lot, with the exception of a couple trees that will be taken down. (The petitioner presented slides showing the building on the back of the lot, where the current driveway and garage is located, and the proposed unit above the garage). Bomba said this is a perfect opportunity to have a little bit of infill in an area that already has the density. Currently, they get a lot of trash that comes off of the Pavilion Properties' decks so a buffer would protect and isolate the subject property from their building. (The petitioner also presented slides of the alley and how cars park right now, which is along the hedge row.) He fears if the parking situation is left as-is; anyone who has gravel in the backyard you end up getting ruts because they pull up further into the property. He said even with the structure on the back and the 2-bedroom apartment, the density is still the lowest in the area. Green space is being preserved as well as the trees. The back structure offers a buffer as well as defined parking. Again, he agrees with the Staff recommendation #2-6 but is asking to have condition #1 removed so that he can build the garage and the unit on the back of the lot.

Barre Klapper asked about the three power poles when you're driving down the alley. How are those reconciled with the proposed plan?

Bomba said he had Duke Energy come out and they gave him three options. There is a pole that kind of sits in the middle for the parking. Three options were: There is a (inaudible) on the pole moving that-moving it over to one of the other poles; second option was burying the power lines. He couldn't remember the third option. However, he talked with Duke and it cannot be moved or reconciled.

Klapper: Because the center pole actually has a transformer on it?

Bomba: Yes, and that's what we talked about. We talked about where we could move that transformer to. They would actually like me to take it all down and pay to have it buried, clean it and have it look nicer, which is one of the options.

Klapper asked Staff how it happens that back yards get paved over time and how does the City deal with it.

Shay said it depends on the zoning district and the use. He said most of the time the zoning district defines it. Single family homes in Single-family districts have a very small area that can be paved or gravel. Multi-family structures are not allowed to have gravel. There are setbacks from those property lines as well. In this situation, if it were structured parking that's not a problem. If it's a surface parking lot, then the petitioner would be limited to probably what they have. If a new parking lot were constructed, it would probably be smaller; there would be setbacks that aren't currently met. The existing situation would probably be the most likely and/or changing it to a situation where you back-out off the alley similar to the proposed building. Gravel would not be an option if multiple units are proposed in the structure.

Patrick Murray asked Staff to go over when and what the changes in zoning were from the surrounding properties.

Shay pointed out the current zoning and the transition from Residential-Medium Density (RM) to the Downtown edges. Prior to that from 1995 on, there was a Conditional Use approval that went through the BZA that most of this area was in an overlay district, which allowed for whatever density the Board found to be appropriate. Some were zoned Multi-family and some were zoned Commercial Downtown (CD), but the overlay was over both of those zones. It only took a Board of Zoning Appeals approval for a Conditional Use (a lower standard) to go above that. The projects that came in under that were: Pavilion Heights, Omega Manor (south of the petitioner's proposal), as well as the Row Houses to the south. It allowed for an increase in density in the near downtown. In 2007, the Plan Commission and Council looked at the area, and took the Downtown Development Opportunity Overlay (DDOO) off. The line ended up north of 7th Street/east of Washington as (RM). He said looking at the existing densities that could've been in (RH); he doesn't remember any specific policies as to why it went to (RM) rather than (RH) or Downtown. The GPP actually designates this as Downtown but it isn't where the line fell through Plan Commission and Council.

Public Comments:

David Ferguson said this hasn't been a rental for the last 22 years. It's been a woman living there by herself. A woman named Doris took care of the woman who lived there but she did live there by herself. The findings you (Board of Zoning Appeals) need to make are that there is no harm. The point is this house could have five residents-it's a single-family home. You are essentially being asked to rezone it. Nobody has talked about the standards that you need to comply with to find a variance. When you bring nineteen (19) residents in to a place, you get (11) eleven bedrooms, you get noise and you get parking problems. This is the kind of thing you get-it's a student rental. (He presented pictures that showed people parking out of their driveways, blocking, and parking on yellow curbs.) It just demeans the neighborhood. There is no hardship in this situation. It looks like he could fix the roof, tear out a couple of kitchenettes, and move on. There is no place for nineteen (19) residents to park. The petitioner just wants to increase the density. This is a person who knew exactly what he got and exactly what the zoning was when he purchased the property. If you want to change the zoning then it's a rezone and not a variance.

Sue Aquila said it was very unclear who the additional information was coming from that was included in the packet. She had no idea the supplemental information was from someone in the neighborhood who was opposed to the project. Maybe we were missing a page in the packet?

Shay: Yes. The first page had the neighborhood information, including the number of pages.

Aquila: Do we have any idea when this was last used as a rental?

Shay said we don't have any registered rental history on this property. The property may have been considered grandfathered because the units have been there since prior to 1973. Staff believes it would be a hardship to limit this to a 5-bedroom home when we've got 9-bedrooms and six kitchens.

**Hoffmann moved approval of V-40-12 based on the written findings, including the six conditions outlined in the staff report. Murray seconded.

Hoffmann said the issue of economic hardship has been raised by both the petitioner and the remonstrator. In neither case, is it the primary basis on which we should be deciding whether to grant a variance. It's not a basis for the petitioner to get an extra unit that doesn't exist now, and it's not a basis for the remonstrator to say, "Well, he can afford to pay to restore it to single-family use." It's the physical condition of the property that is the peculiar condition. Therefore, I believe Staff has come up with the right answer, which is the physical condition of the existing house can be the basis for granting a variance on the existing house.

Roll Call:

Motion carried 4:0-Approved.

· UV-49-12 Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

1100 W. Allen St.

Request: Use variance approval to allow a social services use within an Industrial General (IG) zoning district.

Case Manager: Katie Bannon

Katie Bannon (Zoning Planner) presented the staff report. The property is zoned Industrial General (IG). The Growth Policies Plan (GPP) designates this site as an Employment Center. The existing use of the site is industrial and partially used right now for a construction company. Surrounding land uses were cited. The back portion of the lot is used for outdoor storage for the construction company. The lot is currently graveled. There is an associated fenced outdoor storage area on the rear of the lot, which is not proposed to change. Mother Hubbard's Cupboard is proposing to occupy the front portion of the building and the lot. They would like to use the site for a food pantry, nutrition and gardening education, and gardening on-site. The Unified Development Ordinance (DDO) does not allow social services uses within the IG zoning district, which is why the use variance is being requested. There are some site improvements that would be required by the UDO for this change in use. The petitioner is proposing to pave the parking lot area and install the required landscaping. There is currently a sidewalk. A bike rack will be installed. A dumpster enclosure will be added. The back half of the property will remain as an outdoor storage area which would not be paved; this is allowed in the Industrial General (IG) zoning district. As part of this petition, the petitioner would like to include fruit trees and other types of vegetation (shrubs with berries, etc.) within their landscaping. The petitioner would like to include an educational component as part of their proposal since they provide a lot of nutrition and gardening education to their consultants. Again, the GPP designates this property as "Employment Center". The fundamental goal of these areas is to provide large-scale employment opportunities for the Bloomington community and the surrounding area. Although this particular use is not a large employer, the site is small and it would be difficult to redevelop for large scale industrial uses without the acquisition of several additional parcels. Staff believes this social services use is appropriate in this location. The Plan Commission found that the use variance would not substantially interfere with the goals of the GPP. Staff believes this social services use is appropriate at this location. There are a wide variety of uses in the area already. The proposed use will provide needed services to the Bloomington community overall. Staff believes that social services uses will have less of an impact than most industrial uses would have in this location, so it's an appropriate transition to the single-family area located to the west. Staff recommends approval of this petition based on the written findings, including the following condition:

1. If fruit trees are planted within the right-of-way, a tree maintenance plan is required.

Amanda Nickey, CEO of Mother Hubbard's Cupboard (MHC), said our mission is to ensure that anyone in need has access to healthy, whole foods. Our programs include a client choice food pantry, community gardens, nutrition and gardening education. In 2011 we distributed over 1 million pounds of food. Our community gardens grew 3,500 pounds of organic produce. We offered 37 workshops (free of charge) to patrons on cooking and gardening topics. Also, we had over 100 area children participate in our youth garden programs. Our current space is just over 1,000 sq. ft. This houses our food pantry, food storage, storage for all of our programs and office space. Over the years, our programs have grown tremendously and we've outgrown our space. We only have enough space for food to last two hours. Our patrons wait outdoors in all types of weather for an average of 30-minutes. Education programs often happen off-site in other locations throughout the community, which makes it challenging for patrons to attend. Our goal at 1100 W. Allen is to bring all of our programs into one location. With BZA approval for the use variance, MHC hopes to transform this site into a vibrant community space. Improvements include repaved and reduced parking entrance, handicap accessible ramp, edible and native landscaping, bike parking, and enclosed dumpster & recycling area.

Patrick Murray asked the petitioner if she's in agreement with the condition of approval regarding the maintenance plan.

Nickey: Yes.

No public comments.

**Klapper moved approval of UV-49-12 based on the written findings, including the one condition outlined in the staff report. Hoffmann seconded. Motion carried 4:0-Approved.

· V-51-12 Marco Plastics, Inc.

1616 S. Huntington St.

Request: Variances from driveway width and front yard parking setback requirements.

Case Manager: Jim Roach

Jim Roach (Senior Zoning Planner) presented the staff report. The subject property is located southeast of the Bryan Park Neighborhood and N. Miller Drive. The property is zoned Industrial General (IG). It has been developed with a single story plastic injection manufacturing company; this facility makes plastic medical parts. The Growth Policies Plan (GPP) calls out for urban residential uses in this area, with the thought that over time this area might be redeveloped into more of a residential-style area. However, the zoning is still Industrial (IG). The petitioner intends to expand the operation. The proposal is to construct a 1,910 sq. ft. addition onto the south side of the building over an area that is currently a parking lot. With this addition, the petitioner is required to bring the property into compliance with the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for site planning requirements. To that end, the petitioner is requesting variances from front parking setback and driveway width standards. Roach noted The Board of Zoning Appeals approved a rear and side yard setback variance in 1992, in order to go closer to the north and west property lines with a more recent addition to the building. The parking and truck servicing area is located in the middle of the site. The parking setback in the IG zoning district is 25 feet from the right-of-way, which creates an effective setback of 55 feet from the centerline of Huntington Drive. This property currently has two parking spaces in front of the building. The setback of those two spaces is 39 feet from the centerline. The petitioner proposes to take those two parking spaces and convert them into one handicap accessible parking space. The UDO would require that this entire area be converted into grass. This is a change that Staff has seen other property owners do. These spaces are the closest to the front of the building and provide the best access for accessible parking for visitors. Staff believes it's an appropriate location for accessible parking. Without this variance, the parking would need to be in the rear of the lot. The second variance is from driveway width standards. The existing driveway is 36 feet wide. The UDO requires the driveway be narrowed down to no more than 24 feet. The petitioner has large trucks that come in and out of the property that utilize Huntington Drive. Reducing the drive width down to 24 feet would make it impossible to have the correct turning radiuses and turning movements to get trucks off of Huntington and into the property. The petitioner prepared a diagram showing how trucks currently enter the property. This diagram has been reviewed by the City Engineer and found to be legitimate. The City Engineer agrees with the findings of the petitioner's representatives. He found that a drive any more narrow wouldn't adequately serve this property with the size of trucks that serve the business. Staff finds that the requested variances meet the criteria necessary for approval. The existing nature of the driveway width and the two parking spaces certainly creates a peculiar condition. Staff finds that requiring the petitioner to meet these two standards would create practical difficulty. It would require them to completely change their shipping and trucking operation; it would also place the accessible parking much further from the accessible entrance. Staff recommends approval of this petition based on the written findings in the staff report, including the following conditions:

1. All gravel areas must be paved. Gravel within parking setback must be removed and returned to grass.

2. A lighting plan must be submitted that complies with UDO requirements.

Sherman Bynum, Bynum Fanyo & Associates, said this is a pre-existing, non-conforming structure we're trying to deal with. This is a relatively small addition. We were able to meet twelve of the fourteen requirements outlined in the UDO. We cannot do the remaining two regarding driveway width and the front yard parking setback. The problem we have is the narrow right-of-way on Huntington-only 30 feet. You can't take advantage of any turn lanes or additional pavement width because it's extremely narrow right now. That same 30-foot width exacerbates our front yard parking setback requirement because it's taken from the centerline of the street. We would propose to keep one parking space as a handicap stall and convert what is there today (the second stall) into the access isle for the remaining handicap space.

Sue Aquila asked if the addition would result in having additional trucks coming and going to the site.

Bynum: No.

Public Comments:

Kathy Sexton-Steven said the petition shows that you want to put in another sidewalk on his side of the property. There was a sidewalk there at one time until they widened the road and they ripped it up and put it on the other side. I don't see the reason for a sidewalk on his property frontage. Also, the trees that you want to put in; we're a close-knit neighborhood and we watch out for each other. My elderly father lives next door and he keeps and eye on Marty's property; if he sees something wrong then he calls Marty. If you put up the trees, it's going to block the view. I don't see the use of trees being there.

Joe Hoffmann asked Staff for clarification on which lots are being referred to in terms of the line of sight and tree issue.

Roach said the lady who just spoke; their family owns the property immediately to the south.

Hoffmann: 1702?

Roach: Yes, 1702.

Hoffmann: Which property are they keeping an eye on?

Roach said they have a history of maintaining the grassed area on the petitioner's property, between their property and the parking area.

Hoffmann: So when she said "keeping an eye on things", she's talking about the petitioner's property that she's watching?

Roach: I believe so.

Barre Klapper: The nature of the landscape that's going in, is it the type of landscape that's will create a visual screen?

Roach: Yes it will. And that's the nature of the code requirements. The requirement is for a specific spacing of deciduous canopy trees and spacing of evergreen trees, and that over time, will create a visual screen. The petitioner has met the code requirement.

**Hoffmann moved approval of V-51-12 based on the written findings, including the two conditions outlined in the staff report. Klapper seconded. Motion carried 4:0-Approved.

Meeting adjourned @ 6:45 p.m.