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BZA MEETING
July 20, 2017

The White County Area Board of Zoning Appeals met Thursday, July 20th, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Second Floor, County Building, Monticello, Indiana.

Present: Randy Conwell, Chris McWhirter, Stan Minnick, Dennis Sterrett

Also attending were Executive Director Colin Betts, Board Secretary Annette Cobb, and Attorney Abigail Diener

Absent: Dave Rosenbarger

Visitors attending were: Jan Bell, Austin Chiafos, Eric Stevenson, Jim Maxson, Jacque Maxson, Bryce Maxson, Doug Wagner, Randy Mitchell, Milo Bonnell, Mark Bonnell, Dave Crissinger, George Loy, Ken Houston, Gayle Rogers, Marcele Alm, and Steve Burton

The meeting was called to order by Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett at 6:06 P.M.

*****

Minutes & Findings of Fact:

There was a motion by Randy Conwell and a second by Stan Minnick to accept the May 18, 2017 Minutes and Findings of Fact as written. The minutes and findings of fact were unanimously approved.

Note: At the introduction of each case hearing, Director Betts introduced the Staff Report and affiliated documents into the official record of the meeting, to be used as supporting documents for developing the Findings of Fact for each hearing.

Variances & Special Exceptions

Variance Petition #2945- Stevenson’s Point- Executive Director, Colin Betts, read the staff report and presented photos of the subject site. Director Betts explained that this request is for a reduction in minimum distance between principle structures from the required 10’ to a 6’ separation. The applicant also requests a 1’ separation between the principle structure and an accessory structure located within the same lot. Mr. Eric Stevenson, the applicant, then stepped to the podium and spoke on behalf of this request and answered questions from the Board. He stated that currently the homes vary from 16’ wide to 18’ wide, but the widest new trailer is 15.6’ so this would give them more space between trailers then what is currently there. The issue is that not all of the “trailers” would be replaced at the same time. Mr. Stevenson stated that the park was laid out more than sixty years ago when zoning standards did not exist and that has created the current difficulty the residents face to replace old outdated trailers. . The current standards create a hardship for the applicant as well as 125 families. Mr. Stevenson read a letter aloud that stated that for 60 years and 3 generations the Stevenson family has owned and operated Stevenson’s Point. The park has grown from a small side business to an incorporated LLC company. According the Mr. Stevenson’s letter the park, which operates from April to October every year, brings in hundreds of thousands dollars of tourist money to the local economy, and also creates seasonal jobs in the local area. The Stevenson’s realize that safety is a concern, and they believe that replacing trailers manufactured in the 60’s with newer models would increase safety. Newer manufactured homes are built to the current building code and have better wiring, building materials and hard wired smoke alarms, whereas currently many of the residents do not even have smoke alarms installed in their residence. The applicant realizes that the requirement of 10’ separation is for fire safety and he along with Mr. Doug Wagner have been researching additional fire safety barrier options. The tenants currently are not able to replace the outdated “trailers”, so their only option is to remodel and renovate what is currently on the sites. Mr. Stevenson reiterated that the current park owners were not involved in the layout design of the park, and that this space requirement creates a hardship on the owner of the park as well as each of the 125 families within the park.

Mr. Doug Wagner, former Building Inspector for White County and current Area Plan Director for Carroll County, stepped to the podium to explain fire safety options. Fire separation requirements under Indiana Residential Code require a 6’ separation or to comply with the requirements of an attached garage when building an accessory structure. That requirement is a ½” minimum thickness on the separation wall between the accessory structure and the residential structure. Indiana building code lists fire separation distance of 10’ or limits the opening sizes, types of construction, and in some case also requires the use of non-combustible materials depending on the separation distance. Mr. Wagner stated that the way to grant relief would be to enforce these options through the building code that the county has adopted. He went on to say that Mr. Stevenson is replacing older manufactured homes with newer models that will increase safety and the values of the properties in the campground. Also, these new homes have GFCI outlets, inner connected smoke detectors, and are constructed to current building code. In his opinion this would make a tremendous improvement to fire safety. Currently, the building department does not require any permits for mobile home parks and campgrounds, therefore they are not required to follow current building codes for their private residence. The building department would have to enforce the fire codes that are listed in the Indiana Residential Building Code if the variances are granted. Mr. Wagner stated that he tried to change the departmental policy that does not require State Licensed Mobile Home Parks and Campgrounds to obtain a building permit, but his request was denied by a former director. In Mr. Wagner’s opinion this requirement would bring more money into the county, increase property values, and most importantly increase the safety of the residences.

Randy Conwell asked for clarification on the buildings that are being discussed, as he is unsure if they are speaking of campers with slideouts or fixed structures. Mr. Stevenson stated that there are about 10 travel trailer lots. He went on to state that the way that the way travel trailer lots are set even with the slideout open, they still meet the 10’ minimum setback requirement. He went on to state that the mobile homes started at about 8’ wide, but the residents have stick built cabanas, lean to’s, and additions that has created the current distances left between the buildings as shown in the pictures. He continued to explain the difficulty this has created for any new updated manufactured homes to be placed. Denny Sterrett asked what could be done to fix the current situation at the park. Mr. Stevenson stated that the manufactured homes are privately owned by the lot owner, therefore he can not reconfigure the lots that have been sold. To meet current building zone requirements, the number of lots would need to be reduced. Mr. Stevenson explained that this would be impossible. The residents of the park paid for the enjoyment of lake front homes, so even though he has many acres of ground available it would not be a satisfactory solution to expand into the vacant field ground to the east of the lake. They are trying to do the best that they can to increase the safety of the park. Randy asked if there was a way to add the fire code safety requirements as a condition of the variance request. Mr. Betts stated that the issue for Area Plan is that we do not permit anything currently in State Licensed Mobile Home Parks, nor do we permit anything that is under 120 sq. ft. so the precautions required would not be enforced. There was additional discussion about the fire and safety requirements. Abigail Diener stated that the fire risk is there right now, but if the board grants the variance then the county is reducing the fire code requirement. Chris McWhirter expressed concern that we may be putting the county at risk for litigation if the variance is granted. Abigail Diener confirmed if the county grants the reduced structure distance then in the case of a fire the owners could try to sue the county for liability. Director Betts read into the record R302 Location on Lot from the 2003 IRC that states “Exterior walls with a fire separation distance less than 3’ shall have not less than a one-hour fire-resistive rating with exposure from both sides.” Also read into the record was R302.1 that states “Exceptions: Tools and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar structures are not required to provide wall protection based on location on the lot. Projections beyond the exterior of the structure shall not extend over the lot line. 2. Where structures are placed closer than 3 feet to the property lines, the one-hour fire-resistive rating shall not apply if a perpetual, platted, and recorded easement creates a non-buildable separation of at least 6’ between structures on adjacent properties. The Board had a brief discussion over Mr. Betts’ information. Dennis Sterrett asked Mr. Stevenson if he would like his requests voted separate or together. Mr. Stevenson requested the ballots be voted on separately.

When there were no further questions from the Board, applicant, or audience, Abigail Diener passed out the ballots to vote on the 6’ min vs 10’ required between structures variance request.

After tabulating the ballots, Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance Petition #2945-Request 6’ seperation-4 votes cast; 0 votes to grant, 4 to deny; Petition Denied

Abigail Diener passed out the 1’ separation vs 10’ req’d between accessory structures on each independent lot ballot.

After tabulating the ballots, Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance Petition #2945-Request 1’ seperation-4 votes cast; 1 vote to grant, 3 to deny; Petition Denied

Variance Petition #2949-Bonnell- Executive Director Colin Betts read the staff report and presented photos of the subject site. Milo Bonnell stepped to the podium to represent the request. Mr. Milo Bonnell explained that the farm has always been locally known as the Crissinger Farm. The Bonnell’s purchased the farm when it went up for sale. Since the Bonnell’s acquired the land, David Crissinger has had a chance to purchase back the house and some of the outbuildings. Now, Mr. Crissinger would like to purchase the barn so he has the complete homestead that he was raised on. The Bonnell’s submitted a survey dated January 13, 2017 representing the distance the barn and grain bins would be located to the proposed parcel line that would allow Mr. Crissinger to purchase the barn and allow the Bonnell’s to retain the grain bins. Mr. Bonnell explained that the barn and grain bins are steel structures that would not present any fire concerns. Mr. Betts asked Mr. Bonnell if he is currently using the grain bins. Mr. Bonnell confirmed that they use the grain bins, and at this time Mr. Crissinger is not interested in purchasing them. There was some discussion among the Board about setback requirements in an A-1. When there were no further questions Abigail Diener passed out the ballots

After tabulating the ballots, Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance Petition #2949 -4 votes cast; 4 votes to grant, 0 to deny; Petition Granted

Variance Petition #2950-White County, Indiana-Boxer Girl- Executive Director Colin Betts, read the staff report and presented photos of the subject site. George Loy, White County Attorney, stepped to the podium to represent the case. Mr. Loy gave a brief history of the subject site and how the county had acquired the land. More recently the county’s Economic Development consultant, Dan Zerner, recruited Jane Hendrickson with Boxer Girl, to develop the proposed Villagewalk Subdivision. The proposal has been reviewed extensively and has gone through a number of designs and redesigns. The county has entered into a contract with Boxer Girl for the sale of this property contingent upon the granting of the variances requested today and approval of the subdivision. Mr. Loy stated, “We feel the county has done its due diligence at great cost to transform this neighborhood eyesore and nuisance into a potential residential subdivision that will not only fit in with the neighborhood, but greatly improve it.” He went on to state that “The county is very confident of this development, confident of Jane and her staff’s abilities and her engineer Chris Wiseman is here to answer any questions of the technical nature.” Randy Conwell asked why they are trying to squeeze that many lots into a small area. If you have one less lot it appears you would have plenty of area. Jane Hendrickson, Boxer Girl, stepped to the podium to explain. She stated that when the property was first presented to Boxer Girl they started with a little over 8 acres down to 6.3 acres. In August 2015, the subdivision was presented to the neighborhood and at that time there were 15 lots in the subdivision. After the public meeting, Boxer girl worked with various departments; water, sewer, and fire departments and felt that 13 lots would handle the efficiencies of what it is going to cost to build the subdivision without much money left over. The subdivision will be built all at one time meaning they will put in all the infrastructure, grade, streets, lights, signs and will look like a completed subdivision in about a 90 day period. At that time, the lots will go up for sale. Jane stated that there will be an exclusive builder for the subdivision. Jane Hendrickson’s contract requires that the neighborhood be built out with in a four year period. Mrs. Hendrickson stated that they believe all concerns have been addressed.

Several citizens in attendance spoke in front of the board. Mary Horn, Marie Demarlor, and Jackie Maxson expressed concerns about retention ponds, drainage issues, construction safety, the need for additional housing, and the existing tree line. Chris Wiseman stated that the existing tree line will not be disturbed; all woods to the Northeast will not be disturbed. Ms. Jackie Maxson expressed concern that the 15’ front (O’Connor Blvd.) variance request could hinder the view from the North and create an increased risk of accidents in the area. The engineer stated that no buildings would be allowed to be built outside of the building setback line that should leave a clear site all the way to the intersection to the north. Mr. Wiseman also stated that all residences within the subdivision will only have access from Villagewalk Circle. Mrs. Maxson also spoke against the proposed close proximity of the homes to each other, especially in lots 1-3. Her father in law lives in the house to the North of these proposed lots and is concerned about the increased activity disturbing him. The side setbacks for lots 1-3 are a minimum of 5’ per the plat, this exceeds the county setback for an R-2 which is a minimum 4’ from a side yard line.

White County Commissioner Steve Burton stepped to the podium to express County Commission support of Boxer Girl and Cripe Engineering in developing the proposed subdivision. Mr. Burton stated that this project has been many years in the making and a lot of thought has went into the development. If the subdivision does not have at least the 13 lots the project would not happen, as it comes back to financing. Mr. Burton pointed out that there were drainage issues due to the large footprint of the previous hospital parking lots and streets. The proposed subdivision will be more of a green area that will cut down on drainage issues for surrounding neighbors. Mr. Wiseman went into further detail on the increase of the pervious surfaces within the proposed subdivision. In Mr. Burton’s opinion, this is an improvement for the area.

Ken Houston, Mayor of the City of Monticello, stepped to the podium and pointed out that the city has met with Boxer Girl and Cripe Engineering and that all the obligations the city has requested have been met. This includes all the requirements for drainage, lights, sidewalks, and streets. Mr. Houston stated that the City of Monticello is in support of the proposed subdivision.

When there was no further discussion, Dennis Sterrett asked how the applicant would like to have the requests voted on. George Loy stated that they request all variances be voted on a single ballot. Abigail Diener passed out the ballots.

After tabulating the ballots, Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance Petition #2950 -4 votes cast; 3 votes to grant, 1 to deny; Petition Granted

Variance Petition #2951-Memmer- Executive Director Colin Betts read the staff report and presented photos of the subject site. Dennis Sterrett asked for clarification on the survey submitted. The applicant submitted a survey dated May 22, 2017 that not only represents the height variance Mr. Memmer is seeking today, but also his plan for a future split. Mr. Memmer explained when he brought his variance application in that he had the surveyor combine the variance survey with his future plans to cut costs associated with requesting the survey twice. At this time, the applicant has not submitted an application for a subdivision.

Stan Powell stepped to the podium to represent the applicant. He explained that Mr. Memmer had to leave town unexpectedly. Mr. Powell is a neighbor and he stated that he would answer any questions to the best of his ability. Dennis Sterrett asked if Mr. Memmer were to build this building in the middle of the property would he still need a height variance. Director Betts explained that he would need a height variance no matter where it was proposed. He went on to state that the accessory height limit in an R-2 is 19’. There are no additional setback allowances in an R-2 for an accessory building. Mr. Sterrett asked Mr. Powell to explain why he needs the building so tall. Stan explained that Mr. Memmer has a lot of memorabilia and he has a lot of old cars. He believes that Mr. Memmer has plans to put in a lift so he can double stack the cars. Randy asked if he would be blocking the view of any neighboring properties. In Mr. Powell’s opinion, this would not be an issue. When there were no further questions, Abigail Diener passed out the ballots.

After tabulating the ballots, Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance Petition #2951 -4 votes cast; 3 votes to grant, 1 to deny; Petition Granted

Variance Petition #2952-Chiafos- Executive Director Colin Betts read the staff report and presented photos of the subject site. There were no questions from the Board for Mr. Betts, so Austin Chiafos stepped to the podium to represent his request. Mr. Chiafos explained that he wants to build the building in the northeast corner of the property due to the fact that when it rains the center of the lot, the building area, floods. His plan is to build a pole barn frame and finish the inside of the barn for his residence. Mr. Chiafos stated that this is an affordable alternative for him that would still meet all the current residential codes. He has chosen this location to eliminate any water problems and to be secluded from neighboring properties. He has worked on the area extensively and explained to the board landscaping that he has done to prepare for this home. Earl Hornback, owner of the subdivision, stepped to the podium to speak against the request. Mr. Hornback stated that a two inch rain is gone within two hours, so he does not believe that water would be an issue in the buildable area as listed on the plat. Mr. Hornback stated that the subdivision was created with the intent of the lots to have permanent residences built upon them and that he objects to the type of house that Mr. Chiafos wants to build. Mr. Hornback is under the impression that if Mr. Chiafos puts up a pole barn with the intent to use it as a residence that he would bypass hook up to the Twin Lakes Regional Sewer District (TLRSD). Director Betts explained to the Board and Mr. Hornback that prior to the Building & Planning Department issuing a permit for any building that will have a bathroom the applicant must have prior approval from either TLRSD or the White County Health Department. Mr. Hornback then stated that he is fine then with the type of home and where Mr. Chiafos would like to build since he now knows that he must hook up to the sewer system. There were no further questions from the board, the applicant, or the audience, so Vice-Chairman Dennis Sterrett asked Mr. Chiafos how he would like the requests to be voted on. Mr. Chiafos stated that he would like the variance requests voted on a single ballot. Board Attorney Abigail Diener passed out the ballots to vote on the variance request.

After tabulating the ballots, Vice Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance Petition #2952 -4 votes cast; 4 votes to grant, 0 to deny; Petition Granted

Other Business:

There being no further business, Chris McWhirter made a motion the meeting be adjourned with a second from Stan Minnick. Motion carried, meeting adjourned at 8:46 p.m..

Respectfully submitted,

 

__________________________

Annette Cobb, Secretary

Area Board of Zoning Appeals

 

__________________________

Colin Betts, Executive Director

White County Area Plan Commission

 

Document Prepared By: White County Area Plan Secretary Annette Cobb “I AFFIRM, UNDER THE PENALTIES FOR PERJURY THAT I HAVE TAKEN REASONABLE CARE TO REDACT EACH SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER IN THIS DOCUMENT, UNLESS REQUIRED BY LAW.”__________________

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