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BZA MEETING

May 16, 2019

The White County Area Board of Zoning Appeals met Thursday, May 16, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Second Floor, White County Government Center, Monticello, Indiana.

Present: Dennis Sterrett, Chris McWhirter, Randy Conwell, Stan Minnick, and Abbey Gross

Also attending were Executive Director Joseph W. Rogers, Board Secretary Erika Martinez, Office Administrator Annette Cobb and Area Plan Attorney Makenzie Martin

Visitors attending were: Todd Hankins, Ronda Heber, Dan Heber, Ernie Boggs, and Julie Boggs

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Dennis Sterrett at 6:00 p.m.

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New Business:

Director Rogers recommended Erika Martinez as the Secretary for the BZA Board. Abbey Gross motioned to appoint Erika Martinez as the new secretary, seconded by Stan Minnick. The motion was carried unanimously.

Director Rogers introduced Attorney Makenzie Martin as the Area Plan Attorney. She is replacing Abigail Diener who is extended by her other responsibilities. Ms. Martin is an associate from the same law firm, Obear Overholser Huffer & Rider, LLC and will serve as legal counsel through the end of this year.

Minutes and Findings of Fact:

There was a motion by Randy Conwell and a second by Abbey Gross to approve the meeting minutes and finding of facts dated March 21, 2019 as written. Motion was carried unanimously.

 

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

 

Variance #2993

Director Rogers provided the Board with an overview of the variance requests, reviewed the Staff Report and supplemental information. He then displayed for the Board and the audience a series of photos he had taken at the site showing the area subject to the request along with the surrounding area to the property.

Director Rogers stated that this request is being made for a covered deck. Director Rogers explained that any structure that is connected by a roof line or wall to a principle structure becomes a part of the principle structure therefore it must meet the principle structure setback requirements. Director Rogers reviewed the applicant’s specific request which is a variance from the 45’ rear setback that is required by the Neininger Subdivision plat. The applicant is requesting an 18’ rear setback to construct a 20x24 foot deck. The Staff sees no indication that the request would result in a visual impairment or a safety issue. The one concern that the Staff has is that when a subdivision is developed, the setbacks established as part of the subdivision plat are essentially a form of covenants and restrictions that all property owners agree to abide by when they buy into the subdivision. The Staff’s concern is that if we are going to agree to modify one lot then we are depriving the other property owners of that setback unless they also come to apply for a variance. Typically, the Staff would like to see the plat amended to allow all the property owners to enjoy the same amenity. Director Rogers asked the Board to decide on how to handle this situation.

Ernest Boggs, applicant, stepped to the podium to represent his request. The applicant stated that they would like to remove the existing uncovered deck to allow construction of a larger, covered deck. The applicant stated the main reason for the covered deck is to provide shelter from those days with intense sunshine as there are not many trees in the area. The applicant stated that he went around and talked to the surrounding neighbors and no one had any objection to his proposed project. The applicant also stated that the house already is not in compliance with the setbacks as platted. Director Roger stated that the house should have received a variance and asked the applicant when the house was built. Mr. Boggs stated that the house was built 20 years ago. Director Roger advised the Board that the County did not have a building inspector at that time making it unclear as to how setbacks were inspected or if they were inspected at all. Permitting was handled by the Area Plan office and at that time only a permit of certification was issued. Director Roger stated that there might have not been an inspection done on the house.

There were no citizens in the Audience to speak in favor or against the request

A general discussion pursued between Director Rogers and the Board about the process for an amended subdivision. The Board decided that they would continue with the variance request and would not require an amended plat in this case.

A motion was made by Randy Conwell and seconded by Chris McWhirter to vote on the variance. Ms. Martin, Attorney, passed out the ballots.

After tabulating the ballots, Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record: Variance #2993- 5 votes cast; 5 to grant, 0 to deny;

Petition GRANTED.

Variance #2994

Executive Director Rogers provided the Board with an overview of the variance requests, reviewed the Staff Report and supplemental information. He then displayed for the Board and the audience a series of photos he had taken at the site showing the area subject to the request along with the surrounding area to the property.

Director Rogers displayed the survey for the Board members and explained that the survey of the applicant’s property shows the proposed garage and the house next door as almost being in a common line. One issue the Staff looked at when considering this proposal, was if the proposed would create or increase a visual impairment that isn’t already there. Director Rogers handed out Exhibit A which had been created by the Staff using data layers from the County GIS site. This exhibit provides an aerial view of current structures, both on the subject lot and the lot to the south. The Staff added a diagram of the proposed structure. Director Rogers pointed out the disparity between the survey and Exhibit A as far as the relative position would be for the proposed garage compared to the house to the south. According to Exhibit A, the proposed structure would be situated further to the east and located behind the neighbors’ rear(roadside) position of the house; whereas the survey shows them relatively in-line. The Staff still has not been able to resolve this issue. Director Rogers wanted to bring this discrepancy to the attention of the Board. Exhibit A does not appear to suggest that there would be any increase in visual impairment from the proposed garage. The survey suggests the possibility of an increase in visual impairment for vehicular traffic. Director Rogers stated that while GIS property boundaries are subjective and layers do not always lay out correctly the relativity of structures is reliable.

Todd Hankins, applicant, stepped up to the podium to represent his request. The applicant stated that the only place he currently has for parking is to the east of the road pavement and they can only be positioned parallel with and next to the road pavement. The garage would free up this space providing him with an area for back up and turn around. With the space right now, it takes the applicant 4 tries to turn around but with the proposed garage he would just back out and into the road and then forward. The applicant stated that he feels it will be safer for him and safer for everyone else because the parking of vehicles in the right-of-way, next to the pavement would be eliminated. The applicant showed that the proposed garage would start three feet from the white fence shown on the north corner and that the south corner would be located near the second step shown in the pictures.

Director Rogers asked the applicant to provide more explanation of the proposed garage construction.

Todd Hankins stated that the proposed garage will be built over a 12-inch block perimeter wall filled with concrete and rebar. The applicant stated that when he backs out of the garage, he will be level with the road.

Board member Abbey Gross asked the applicant about getting rid of the walk way and pushing the proposed garage all the way to the back of the house. Mr. Hankins then stated that it would cost him a considerable amount of money to directly attach the structure to the dwelling Abbey Gross then asked the distance from the back of the house to the proposed garage. Mr. Hankins stated that between the house and proposed garage would be 6 feet.

A general discussion between Todd Hankins and Chairman Sterrett pursued on where the proposed garage would be located using the pictures as a visual. The proposed garage was determined to be away from the asphalt three feet, if not more, from the fence shown in the visual picture. Applicant then stated that the proposed garage will actually have a 24x28 footprint vs 24x30 requested.

Todd Hankins stated that the neighborhood had a meeting on his proposed garage where they went and looked at where the garage was going to be put and no one had a problem with it.

Board member Abbey Gross stated that she would like more clarification on the survey before making a decision.

A motion was made by Abbey Gross and seconded by Chairman Sterrett on continuing with the variance after getting more information from the surveyor. The motion was passed.

Director Rogers asked the Board how the office is to proceed after we receive clarification from the surveyor, will the Board want to hear the case at the next Board meeting or schedule a meeting prior? Mr. Hankins stated that he would not be available to attend the next meeting due to previous commitments. The Board members decided to schedule an additional meeting once the issue is cleared up with the surveyor.

Variance #2995

Director Rogers first asked the applicant, Daniel Heber, if he would like the two variances voted on separate or together. Mr. Heber requested that the variances be voted on separate ballots.

Executive Director Rogers provided the Board with an overview of the variance requests, reviewed the Staff Report and supplemental information. He then displayed for the Board and the audience a series of photos he had taken at the site showing the area subject to the request along with the surrounding area to the property.

Director Rogers stated that the reason for hearing this request is because of the configuration of the property; not the size of the proposed garage. The Staff sees no negative impact to the neighborhood or passing traffic from this request. The proposal does sit 20 feet back from the road side property line which is important because of safety issues. To minimize the front setback and push the garage towards the road resulting in an encroachment on that setback would cause a far less safe condition for the property owner and street traffic. In the Staffs opinion, if the variance is going to be granted the proposed garage is positioned properly for this request. Director Rogers then stated that these types of improvements will positively impact the subject site value along with the neighborhood. The kitchen addition does not raise the same type of concerns to the Staff because the addition is away from the neighbor to the south and would be undetectable to the neighbor to the west. Director Rogers showed the Board the picture of the subject site which shows two drains on the site but stated that the survey only shows one drain and cannot confirm which drain is shown on the survey and how it relates to the location of the garage.

Vice Chairman Chris McWhirter asked about the deck, if it is going to be built out along with the kitchen addition and if it is included in the variance. Director Rogers stated that the deck does not need a variance, that the request only applies to the kitchen addition. Director Rogers advised VC McWhirter that an uncovered deck can go up to the property line in an L-1 District.

Daniel Heber, applicant, stepped up to the podium to represent this request. Mr. Heber stated that the outside wall of the kitchen is rotting and needs to be replaced. Since the wall must be removed, the Heber’s decided they would like to construct a more functional kitchen with easier maneuverability. Mr. Heber stated that to meet this goal the proposed location would be required. Mr. Heber then stated that the proposed garage is for his truck that will not fit in the existing, attached garage and for personal storage.

Chairman Sterrett asked the applicant if there is a reason the proposed garage is far south of the north property line. Heber then stated he would have liked to have gone further north from the proposed location but that he cannot build over the drains on the property. Heber addressed the question about the locations of the drains and stated that the drain in the survey is the drain closest to the house and the drain further north is not shown.

Vice Chairman Chris McWhirter asked Mr. Heber about the reason why the proposed garage is located where it is and if it could be moved closer to the house to satisfy the 30-foot setback. Mr. Heber stated that, in his opinion, the structure would not meet the requirement even if it were moved closer to the dwelling. Since Mr. Heber believes any location would require a variance, he decided leaving yard space between the proposed garage and the house was desired.

A general discussion between Board member Abbey Gross and Director Rogers pursued about the easement of the drains. Director Rogers then suggested that the approval be made conditional upon confirmation that the drain is not subject to a regulated drain setback requirement.

Rhonda Heber, applicant, stepped up to the podium to ask for clarification of the drainage concern. Board member Abbey Goss stated that if it is a regulated drain than there is a 75-foot easement in which construction would not be allowed unless authorized by the County Drainage Board. Director Rogers stated that depending on what the Board decides; the Board can attach a condition to their approval. The Staff then would go to the surveyor’s office to get confirmation whether the drain is regulated. Director Rogers stated that if the drain is not regulated then the applicants would be able to proceed with the process of applying for their building permit, if it is regulated the variance would be considered denied.

There were no citizens in the audience to speak in favor or against the request

A motion was made by Abbey Gross and seconded by Vice Chairman Chris McWhirter to make approval of the proposed garage variance dependent on if the drain is regulated or not. The motion was passed unanimously. Attorney Martin, passed out the ballots.

After tabulation of the ballots, Chairman Dennis Sterrett read the following results into the record:

Variance #2995 Kitchen Addition 5 votes cast; 5 to grant, 0 to deny; PETITION GRANTED

Variance #2995 Proposed Garage 5 votes cast; 5 to grant, 0 to deny; PETITION GRANTED

Survey Review:

Director Rogers stepped up to the podium to discuss the Board’s position on what information should be required for surveys submitted with a variance request. Director Rogers stated that surveys, no matter who they come from, are always an issue as far as the completeness of information the Board needs to make a responsible decision. Director Rogers stated that the Staff will revise the variance form and send out a notification to the surveyors about the information needed with a check sheet. If information is missing from the survey, the applicant will not be heard that month because the survey will be required to be fixed. Director Rogers stated that the Staff has been reluctant on taking this kind of stand because the person that gets punished is the citizen.

Director Rogers listed all the requirements the Staff would like to see on surveys.

· road edge and right of way

· recorded easements/ research was done for easements

· principal structure height

· accessory structure height

· lot numbers

· location of driveways/sidewalks

· height of structures

· tile and culvert location identified

· vacated road

A general discussion between Director Rogers and the Board Members pursued about not requiring height of structures and a check done for recorded easement. Abbey Gross stated that a search can be easily conducted for relevant easements since most court house documents are now electronically stored.

Office Administrator, Annette Cobb, stated that it would be beneficial to the citizen to have recorded easements on the survey so this information could be used by the surveyor’s office when they do their review of construction plans. This would prevent the citizen from going through the process of spending time and money on a variance approval only to be denied a building permit later on for the proposed project.

A motion was made by Abbey Gross to capture everything that is currently required, everything that is on the list with the exception of the height requirements. She included in her motion to add the word “recorded” to “relevant” easements. Stan Minnick seconded. The motion carried unanimously.

There being no further business, Board Member Abbey Gross motioned to adjourn the meeting, with a second from Board Member Randy Conwell. Motion was passed and meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

__________________________

Joseph W. Rogers, Executive Director

White County Area Plan Commission

__________________________

Prepared by: Erika Martinez

Document Prepared By: White County Area Plan Executive Director Joseph W. Rogers, “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.”

__________________________

Joseph W. Rogers, Executive Director

Area Board of Zoning Appeals