The Board of Zoning Appeals met on Thursday, February 19, 2004 at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Mr. Monnett, Mr. Blevins, Mr. Haase, Mr. Matrana and Mr. Shrum.
ROLL CALL/DETERMINATION OF QUORUM
Mr. Higbee administered the roll call.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mr. Shrum made a motion to approve the January 19, 2004 minutes of the Plainfield Board of Zoning Appeals as submitted. Second by Mr. Blevins. Motion carried.
OATH OF TESTIMONY
Mr. Daniel administered the Oath of Testimony.
Mr. Matrana reviewed the Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Public Hearings. The first item before the board tonight is BZA-04-002, Sodrel’s Automotive Detail Shop. I would like to ask Mr. Higbee to fill us in on a few details about this matter.
Mr. Higbee said you will recognize this case from a past BZA hearing where the same site for a different project came before you and was denied for a series of variances a few months ago. The petitioner subsequently came back and asked for permission to be heard again. That is the project that you have before you tonight. The rules of procedure for the Board of Zoning Appeals says that you have the option of allowing them to be reheard again before the mandatory filing period expires if they substantially change the project. When they came in with this change, I did deem it to be a substantial change. The changes are noted in the Staff Report. To hit some of them in general they:
Reduced the size of the building and they increased the setbacks in several places on the site especially the building setbacks. The front yard along CR251 was increased. The side yard to the east was increased and some other setbacks were increased.
They also had asked for a lot of landscape variances and they still have some landscape variances but they have added landscaping. So, the degree of the variances for landscaping is not as great as it was before.
As I had already said, the building went down in size substantially in order for that to happen. Having said that the building elevations in your packet show essentially the same style of building. In terms of the building materials you have a metal building with a brick and dryvit front on the office portion of the building.
The west facade would face where the new north/south corridor is going to go in to the west. Probably a few hundred feet to the west is where the new road will go. The reason that I bring that up is when it goes to the Plan Commission, they have to look at the building facades that are visible from Gateway Corridors as part of their review for Architectural Review. That has already occurred. That went to the last Plan Commission meeting. The Plan Commission approved the Development Plan. What they need now to complete their approvals is a series of variances.
I want to point out on page 1 of the Staff Report a little typo. You were probably able to figure it out yourself but on the top I have a series of six variances that they are asking for, which I won’t reread to you. I have a double asterisk there. That is supposed to refer to variance request number four. That has to do with a lack of a parking hedgerow along the north parking area where I have a dollar sign. It should say four. That variance could be interpreted as not 1
being required depending on how we treat the right-of-way in that location. As Mr. Daniel knows, and Mr. Valanzano, our zoning consultant, we have been going back and forth a lot on looking at different ways of determining what the right-of-way of Old National Road is. The reason being that it is such an old old road. You can imagine it was the original frontier road back in the 1850s and the County had jurisdiction before we got jurisdiction when we annexed that area. I haven’t been able to come up with any kind of documentation on right-of-way. At that point you kind of make it up. You have to decide what you think is an acceptable right-of-way or you have to rely mainly on case law, which says some things, i.e., when a right-of-way is unknown what does the case law say about how we determine right-of-way.
If you go to page 3 of my Staff Report, you see a table in there and what I was trying to do was make that clear what the issues were. Basically, you can look at the right-of-way in a couple of different ways. One of them is we can look at the type of street and we can say for that type of street normally as a Town we require 25 feet from the center line if we were going to build a new road. So, you can look at that as sort of a baseline for what the right-of-way should be. However, if we use that, it is really prohibitive for the development of this site.
The other option would be just to look at where the edge of the existing pavement is and say that is the right-of-way line. And the other side of that right-of-way line is the property that is in question.
In any case he needs some variances, which the table kind of specifies the degree of the variances. If we use 25 feet from the center line as the right-of-way measurement, the variances are larger and it really substantially eats into the site. If we use the pavement edge as the right-of-way, the variances are not as large but nevertheless essentially we are dealing with the same variances. It’s just a matter of the degree.
I will probably ask if Mr. Daniel has any opinion on that when I’m done. I don’t know if he does or not. At this point the TAC meeting and DRC and Plan Commission were relatively comfortable with the setbacks as proposed irregardless of what interpretation we make about the right-of-way.
If you look at the site plan and landscape plan, I think those groups and committees were relative comfortable. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some challenges on the site, which you can see if you look at the landscape plan. Especially on the north where you have a hedgerow going along the north side of parking spaces along Old National Road. That hedgerow will abut up right against the pavement. So, you have to ask the question when there is snow being piled up in the wintertime over the top of that hedgerow, is that even going to survive in that location? That is the only place they have room to put a hedgerow unless they eliminate some parking even further back into the site. So, that is one of the challenges. But having said that I just wanted to remind you that they have increased the landscaping on this plan from what you saw before a few months ago when the original request was denied.
I could go on through the Staff Report if you want, but you have seen this just a few months ago. So, I’m not sure that I need to. I would be happy to answer any questions that you have at this point.
Mr. Haase said on the north side you are saying that the Town doesn’t own anymore right-of-way other than what you see that is asphalt.
Mr. Higbee said if the interpretation is that the right-of-way edge is the pavement, then that is what the Town has. Do you agree with that Mr. Daniel?
Mr. Daniel said where the complication comes in is what the law says that whatever was used by the public is what the right-of-way is. Where there is no other evidence as far as what the right-of-way actually was. Of course, the easiest thing and what applies most of the time is the edge of the pavement. There have been cases where the County has maintained a ditch or something like that and essentially said that the fact that you go in and mow it every once in awhile
doesn’t mean that the public used that area. Mowing it doesn’t make the public use the area. I think the complication with U.S. 40 is to the extent that there was, off of the main pavement, U.S. 40 was wide enough that they did have a section there where people could get off the road. That was publicly used I think and preserved for the public off the main driving of the pavement but the reason most of the time you use the pavement is it is usually the best evidence as far as what the public actually used. There is only one exception to that. There were some roads laid out based upon County commissioner orders. Once and awhile you will find roads where you can go into the old records where the County commissioners literally designed and laid out a road and said that it is 25 feet wide and whatever and that is the public right-of-way based upon that County commissioner order. But except for that exception it is public use and most of the time it is the traveled pavement that will end up being the appropriate standard.
Mr. Higbee said you see what I’m saying there on the north edge of the parking we only have about five feet I think for those shrubs. I’m hopeful that they will survive but we have had experiences in other areas where we have shrubs right next to roadways that they have not been able to survive. They are willing to put them there. Whether they are going to survive in the long term in that particular spot I don’t know. The rest of the landscaping is far enough off the rights-of-way of these roads that they will probably be fine. So, that is kind of a sensitive spot up there that we just hope that the experience will be good.
Mr. Doug Moore with Lewis Engineering said I don’t really have anything to add to what Mr. Higbee said but I would be happy to answer any questions or address any concerns.
Mr. Matrana asked, do you know anything about the drainage on this site? It was requested that a Town Engineer asked you to submit some drainage plans.
Mr. Moore said I did not receive a request from the Town Engineer, however, with that said I have taken a look at the site. I don’t believe the drainage is going to be a problem. I didn’t want to get too far involved with the design of the site without knowing whether it was going to go forward or not. It’s going to be a fairly simple design for the storm water.
Mr. Higbee asked, did Mr. Sodrel receive any requests because the Town Engineer told me that he had requested that information.
Mr. Moore said that I don’t know.
Mr. Sodrel said I didn’t receive anything.
Mr. Higbee said I don’t know who he talked to but he did tell me that.
Mr. Sodrel said I met him at the site a couple of months ago. We even talked about Old National Road. We were discussing that even in the future there may be a possibility of closing that road because of the new corridor. It would be a dead end anyway once the corridor goes through. Because of Old National Road is part of the reason that we have the variances that we have because it does cut across the corner of the property. If we could dead end it there at Six Points or U.S. 40, then we could alleviate a lot of problems there as far as the variances and things. That may be something five or six years down the road.
Mr. Haase said he told me at the last meeting that after he researched that with the State, they are anticipating possibly closing Six Points Road off at U.S. 40, at new 40. So, I don’t know where the access for Six Points Road to go out to 40 is really going to be. The natural progression would be to use the old 40 to get out there because that is the only maintained road there or this CR251 might be enlarged and then property bought out that would then lead it north to 40. So, I don’t know but Mr. Belcher at the last Plan Commission meeting expressed that he had found out from the State that there were preliminary plans to shut Six Points Road off at 40 because it would create a problem with the north/south corridor that crosses 40 about 25 feet to the west of Six Points Road. They didn’t want another interchange that close. So, I don’t know what is going to happen out that way.
Mr. Sodrel said originally when the State was doing that extension there, the engineer told me that Old National was supposed to have been closed then at 40. But the Town or emergencies services thought it would be a good idea to keep that open in case there was an accident at 40 and Six Points. That would give them a route to go around it so that was the reason that it was left open. My understanding on the original plan that the little strip at National was supposed to have been closed when they widened 40 and did all of the work there but they left it opened because of that. We met there with the engineer and Mr. Haase. The area that we are trying to improve is really run down. There are junkyards, refrigerators and old tires that have been dumped there. It is really an area that I think the building would help. I’m willing to do and work with you wherever we can or whatever we need to do to do this work. Other than that that is all that I have.
Mr. Matrana asked, is there anyone in the audience who would care to speak on this matter? Being no one coming forward we will close the public portion of this hearing and the Chair would open it up for discussion or entertain a motion.
Mr. Shrum asked, how many variances are we looking at here?
Mr. Higbee said I had listed at the top of your Staff Report six and I think one of them could be considered removed if we look at the edge of the road as being the edge of the right-of-way. So, it is either five or six depending upon how you look at that issue.
Mr. Shrum asked, if he wants a sign, does he come back and need another variance.
Mr. Higbee said he may need another variance depending on where he puts that sign. If he chooses to use only one wall sign and no freestanding sign, then he wouldn’t need that. If he is able to find a place where you can provide an adequate sign setback for a freestanding sign, then he wouldn’t need that but that could be a challenge on that site.
Mr. Sodrel said I wouldn’t ask for a variance. Where the sign needs to go is where I would put it.
Mr. Higbee asked, even if you couldn’t come up with a freestanding sign that would comply? It would have to be a wall sign.
Mr. Sodrel said (inaudible).
Mr. Haase made a motion to approve BZA-04-002 subject to the following conditions:
Subject to substantial compliance with the site plan, landscape plan and building elevations file dated 01/23/04.
That the petitioner meet the Town Engineer’s request for drainage and satisfy all of his requirements.
All signage that is to be applied to the building would not require another variance here.
Second by Mr. Shrum. Roll call vote called.
Mr. Blevins – yes
Mr. Monnett – yes
Mr. Haase – yes
Mr. Shrum – yes
Mr. Matrana – yes
5-ayes, 0-opposed, 0-absent. Motion carried.
Mr. Matrana said the next petition before the board is BZA-04-003 concerning the request by Mrs. Losier.
Mr. Higbee said this is a Variance of Development Standards request for a detached garage to be constructed at a residential property on Locust Drive, which is near SR267 and Main Street. It is my understanding that in November of 2003 there had been a garage there
that burned down completely. Unfortunately, the garage had a couple of issues when you look at today’s development standards for the zoning district there. Today’s development standards for that zoning district would require a minimum 30-foot setback for a garage and also would require that the finished floor area not exceed 50% of the finished floor area of the primary structure. The garage that had been there did not meet either of those standards so it must have been developed under different zoning standards. Under the legal non-conforming use provisions when you lose 100% of the structure, you are starting all over again. They could have possibly partially damaged the structure and been able to rebuild it but in this case the entire structure was destroyed. So, you are starting over again. For them to rebuild it exactly as it was it requires two variances. As I said, the size of the garage exceeding 50% of the primary structure and then the setback. They had indicated some flexibility to me about potentially reducing the size of the garage to be at or beneath that 50% to eliminate that variance, if there was a desire for that to happen, if they could have the reduced setback that they had in the past, which was 25 feet. But the difference between building it back exactly the way it was and building it that way would be 192 square feet. So, we are not talking about a big difference to build it back exactly the way that it was verses complying with that 50% rule. So, I felt that they would probably want me to advertise for both variances and give them the option of discussing them with you, if there is a desire to bring the size of the garage down. That is something that they have thought about and probably would discuss with you. If you have any questions, I would answer them at this time.
Mr. Haase asked, the request for the 24’ x 46’ is that to go on the original foundation?
Mr. Higbee said that is my understanding.
Mr. Matrana asked, is that the same size as the old garage that burned down?
Mr. Higbee said yes the old one was 24’ x 46’ and you will see that 38 dimension is also noted and would be what they would have to do to bring it down to the 50% and eliminate one of those variances.
Mr. Monnett asked, so the variance would make it 38’ x 24” then?
Mr. Higbee said eliminating the one variance would require them to take it to 38’ x 24’ yes.
Mr. Shrum asked, would the 24’ x 38’ give them less than half the square footage in the house is that right?
Mr. Higbee said right so that would leave only the setback variance then. My thinking was if you are amenable to the setback variance, I’m not sure that you would have a problem with the size issue especially given the location of this property.
Mr. Haase said if they shortened this building in either direction, they would have to cut the slab and put a whole new footer in for that one wall. And then that other exposed concrete could still remain there.
Mr. Higbee said yes. If you have been down there, this is the end lot on Locust and you have the right-of-way off SR267 on kind of a hillside to the east. So, this is just tucked away at the dead end of the road. I’m not even sure you can see it from SR267 or the intersection of U.S. 40 and SR267. Maybe you can ask them if that is true. I didn’t go up there at that location to look at it but it certainly is kind of tucked away at a low spot. As a matter of fact, that area is a floodplain although I guess it didn’t flood in our 100-year flood recently so that was kind of interesting.
Mr. Shrum asked, was the original structure 24’ x 46’?
Mr. Higbee said yes.
Mr. Matrana asked, how long ago did the garage burn down?
Mr. Higbee said November of 2003. They attempted to pull a permit at the building department, which the building department made them aware that in order for them to pull that permit you are going to have to get variances.
Mrs. Esther Losier at 8 Locust Dr., Plainfield, Indiana represented herself at the meeting.
Mr. Matrana asked, is there anyone in the audience who would care to speak on this matter?
Mr. Shrum asked, what kind of construction will this garage be?
Mrs. Losier said it will be plywood on the outside and 2 x 4s and vinyl siding on the outside.
Mr. Shrum asked, will it be one-story?
Mrs. Losier said yes.
Mr. Matrana said at this time I would like to close the public portion of this meeting and open this matter up to discussion with board members with a possible motion.
Mr. Shrum made a motion to approve BZA-04-003 subject to the following condition:
Substantial compliance with the plot plan file dated January 15, 2004.
Second by Mr. Blevins. Roll call vote called.
Mr. Monnett – yes
Mr. Blevins – yes
Mr. Haase – yes
Mr. Shrum – yes
Mr. Matrana – yes
5-ayes, 0-opposed, 0-absent. Motion carried.
Mr. Haase made a motion to adjourn. Second by Mr. Monnett. Motion carried.
Mr. Rick Matrana, President