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Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes 2022

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04-18-2022 Board of Zoning Appeals

April 18, 2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, April 18, 2022 at 7:13 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members Present:
Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Vice Chairman; Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.

Also Present:
Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Councilman Liaison; Joe Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director. A quorum was attained.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS:

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to nominate Mark Lareau as Chairman, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to nominate John Kennedy as Vice Chairman, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to nominate Brendan Sheeran as Secretary, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

MINUTES:

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve the April 19, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, May 17, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, June 21, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, July 19, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, August 16, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, November 8, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, and December 20, 2021 Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes and Mr. Birlson abstaining since he was not on the Board in 2021.

Ayes: John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None.
Abstain: Bob Birlson

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2022-01 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-555 (b)(6) to replace the existing site sign with an electronic message center with an illuminated name topper, at 9450 Wicker Ave.; Lake County Public Library (applicant/owner), John Brock (Agent).
John Brock, Lake County Public Library, stated the plan is to take the existing sign and update it to an electronic message board as well as a topper that says “St. John Branch Library”. We would like to be able to have a sign where we can advertise different events that are happening at the library. The sign will rest on the existing base and is generally resting within the framework of what is there currently.

Mr. Birlson asked if the only addition would be the 18” x 90” sign topper. Mr. Brock stated that was correct. Mr. Lareau asked if the electronic sign would be the same size as the existing sign. Mr. Brock stated the existing sign is about 32.5” and the electronic sign is 36”, which was the closest size they have to the existing. Mr. Lareau asked what the maximum square footage was for signs. Building and Planning Director, Sergio Mendoza, stated fifty square feet is the maximum. This sign falls below that, even with the added sign topper. Mr. Lareau asked if the sign was going to have color or black and white. Mr. Brock stated it will have color. This is very similar to the signs that the school and Dairy Queen have.

Mr. Kennedy asked if the information that will be displayed on the electronic message sign will also be available on the library’s website. Mr. Brock stated some of it would be, yes. Mr. Kennedy asked if business at the library would be adversely affected if the variance for the electronic sign was not granted. Mr. Brock stated with this sign we will be able to reach people that may not think about going to the library for certain programs that could be advertised on the sign. Mr. Kennedy stated his concern is that this area is like the “downtown” of St. John, and questioned if having a large amount of electronic signs would be the feel that the Town would want for that area. Mr. Brock stated he would like to think that the library’s interest would be different of a store that is trying to sell dog food or ice cream. We have a bit of a higher motive in trying to get the public in to the library and trying to get kids to interact with the programs the library offers that they may not otherwise know about. However, that is the responsibility of this Board to decide if requests like these are needed or not. Mr. Kennedy stated your cause is worthwhile as a public entity that is trying to provide education and community support, but every petition is unique. We have approved them within the past year, but after this petition, what if Mighty Mike’s or J&M Golf want to have an electronic sign and we keep adding them to the area. It would be nice if there were more guidance in the Ordinance, other than the petitioner having to come in front of this Board for a variance. Mr. Brock stated in his opinion, he likes the electronic signs because the information tends to be good information. Mr. Lareau stated his concern is how busy that area already is and how many accidents occur there, and what will happen when one more distraction is added.

Mr. Birlson stated he thought the sign was a great idea to get more youth in to the library and encourage the use of it. There are other businesses in Town that do not necessarily need an electronic sign, but this would be a good use.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-01 Developmental Variance
No public comment was made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-01 Developmental Variance

Discussion followed regarding conditions that have been placed on electronic message boards in the past. Mr. Kennedy stated they have placed stipulations of no scrolling or flashing advertisements and a minimum of a ten second delay on messages. We have also done monotone colors in the past, but lately we have allowed the full color that is standard on these types of signs. Mr. Brock stated he believed the sign company had been in contact with Mr. Mendoza. Mr. Mendoza stated whatever stipulations the Board places on the variance tonight, we will be sure to work with the sign company to make sure they are aware and adhere to those conditions.

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve BZA 2022-01, the installation of an electronic message center and illuminated name topper in place of the existing sign at the St. John Public Library, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, with the conditions that the sign will have no scrolling messages, a ten second delay on messages, and full color will be allowed. Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Brock if he would consider running emergency ads and silver and amber alerts on the message center. Mr. Brock stated he assumed that was within the capability of the system and would be willing to do so. Mr. Sheeran seconded the motion. Mr. Kennedy stated that in the future he would like more of a clear cut answer to things such as these message boards in the Ordinance so that it is not always up to the Board to make these decisions for every case. He agreed with Mr. Birlson in that this particular variance is for a public entity, but requested that the Board maybe look in to the Ordinance and how it could be changed to allow easier decisions to be made in the future. The Board agreed. The motion carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

B. 2022-02 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-96 and StJMC 24-462(b) to construct a 40 foot by 30 foot detached garage in the location of current shed, at 9024 Columbia St.; James Dekker (applicant/owner).
James Dekker, 9024 Columbia St., stated he and his son are both “car guys” and they currently have four vehicles, two of which are parked on the street the majority of the time. He stated he has a little under an acre and would like to build an additional garage that would have a driveway off of 90th Street to house the vehicles that are typically parked on the street.

Mr. Lareau stated he understood where Mr. Dekker was coming from, but the size of the proposed garage was a concern. He asked what Mr. Dekker’s line of business was and if a business was going to be run out of the garage. Mr. Dekker stated he drives a garbage truck and that no business would be run out of the garage. Mr. Lareau asked the square footage of the proposed garage. Mr. Dekker stated 1,200 sq.ft. Mr. Lareau asked how much extra square footage is allowed. Mr. Mendoza stated if the lot is under 30,000 sq.ft., 1,100 sq.ft. of garage is allowed. He already has an existing attached garage and is proposing a second detached garage. The Ordinance requires that a detached garage receives a variance, and the square footage for the proposed garage also exceeds the minimum standards for a lot of record less than 30,000 sq.ft.

Mr. Birlson asked if Mr. Dekker’s son was going to be running a business out of the garage or if they are planning on restoring cars. Mr. Dekker stated his son has a race car, but they just have a lot of cars they need to store and no business would be done. There are a bunch of kids with a bunch of cars that come over in the summer time that are part of a race club. Mr. Lareau confirmed that there will be a two car door on one end and then a single door on the other. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. The two car door is for the vehicles and the single door is for the mower. Mr. Lareau stated he understood that Mr. Dekker has a larger lot, but the proposed garage is still very large. Mr. Dekker stated this would be about a three and a half to four car garage. Mr. Lareau stated you are basically tripling the garage space you have with this building. Mr. Dekker stated he would not be opposed to going smaller. Mr. Lareau stated he would feel more comfortable with a much smaller garage. He stated he drove past Mr. Dekker’s house and there is currently a shed there with a large wraparound concrete pad, and asked if that shed would be torn down and the garage built on that. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. Mr. Lareau reiterated that the proposed size was too large.

Mr. Kennedy stated he had heard from a few people that there is a detailing business that is currently operating out of Mr. Dekker’s garage. He stated he looked on Facebook and did find Dekker Elite Detailing with Mr. Dekker’s home address listed. Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Dekker again if there was a side job that will be run out of the garage. Mr. Dekker stated he did not have a side job and that the business Mr. Kennedy was referring to is his son’s. He stated he runs the business out of the house, but does not do any of the work on our property. Mr. Kennedy stated in 2020, a permit was pulled for a parking pad. He asked if the garage is going to be placed on that pad. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. Mr. Kennedy stated our building codes require footings, and asked if that pad was poured with footings. Mr. Dekker stated it has footings, but not below the frost line footings. Mr. Kennedy stated our building codes require that for anything over 720 sq.ft. It also looks like there is a drain coming out to the southwest. Mr. Dekker stated there was a drain there, but the Building Commissioner came by and said we could not have that, so the drain has been removed, but the pipe is still in the ground. Mr. Kennedy asked if it was the intention to always have a garage on that pad. Mr. Dekker stated it was. When the permit was applied for in 2020, it was all we could afford to do at the time so we decided to do the project one step at a time. Mr. Kennedy stated that was a big risk. Mr. Dekker agreed. There are other homes within walking distance of the property that have additional garages. Mr. Lareau stated we are not opposed to detached garages, but the proposed size is the issue.

Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Adam Decker if the Board requests new plans, how would we take action on that. Mr. Decker stated you should hear the remonstrance or anyone who wishes to speak at the public hearing. You have the ability to hold the hearing open to allow public comment for any revisions that are submitted. This is a variance sought from the development standards, which would run with the land, but if the Board is going to consider any restrictions they need to know the final project. If that is not what is being presented tonight, the Board may defer the item and hold the hearing open.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-02 Developmental Variance
Mr. Mendoza stated we received five letters of remonstration and the fifth letter has five different individuals that support that letter, however the first letter we received did not give a name so we will not be able to read it in to record.

Mr. Mendoza read the letters in to record from David and Patricia Schick, 13621 W. 90th Ave. (See Exhibit A); Nick and Colleen Romeli, 13564 W. 90th Ave. (See Exhibit B); Conrad and Mary Golanka, 9034 Howard Ct. (See Exhibit C); as well as the group letter submitted by Gerald and JoAnne Palko, 8963 Columbia St.; Thomas and Patricia Eaton, 8982 Columbia St.; Jan and Neal DeValk, 13620 W. 90th Ave.; Craig and Kay Nelson, 8989 Columbia St.; and Paul and Judy Ingram, 8960 Columbia St. (See Exhibit D).

Rhuben Pittman, 9021 Columbia St., stated he would like to see the plans for the garage because it needs to be in conformance with the home that is there and that he is opposed to any businesses being run out of the garage as well as any living quarters being built in the garage. He also stated that the current shed is an eyesore and should be removed, and requested that construction be done in a timely manner. Mr. Pittman understood the need to get the extra vehicles off of the street, but stated the proposed 1,200 sq.ft. is too large for the site.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-02 Developmental Variance

Mr. Decker stated the Board can take action tonight to approve, deny, or defer to a following meeting in order to allow additional material to be submitted. Mr. Lareau stated he would prefer that Mr. Dekker provide new drawings so that the neighbors can see the updated proposal. Mr. Decker stated he was not sure how that would be accomplished. Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Decker if he were willing to adjust his plans or if the Board needed to make a decision as is. Mr. Decker stated he is more than willing to adjust his plans as well as show those new plans to the neighbors who have opposed this proposal and have them sign off that they have seen it. Mr. Lareau stated it was not just the size of the garage, but the material needs to match the house as well. Mr. Dekker apologized for not conveying that, but that it is his intention to match the house. Mr. Kennedy stated since the proper footings are not there, he would request that the garage be a maximum of 720 sq.ft. since that is what is allowed per Code. He also asked that if the drain remains there be plans to tie it in properly to the sanitary system, and there will be a strict rule of no business and the materials matching the home.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to defer BZA 2022-02 to the May meeting in order to allow Mr. Dekker to submit new plans that meet the requirements that have been discussed. Mr. Popovic stated if we are reducing the size of the structure, it will not fall on top of the existing footings. Mr. Dekker stated one wall would not be on the footings, which we can fix. Mr. Kennedy stated we will have our Building Commissioner look at the new plans to make sure everything is in order and bring a recommendation to the Board and keep the public hearing open so that neighbors can view the new plans and comment on them. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Popovic asked how the neighbors would be notified. Mr. Mendoza stated the information that was sent out was notification of the public hearing. Any updates that we receive on the file will be available for viewing at the office. Mr. Kennedy asked if they would be notified again. Mr. Mendoza stated the Town does not notify residents of any new updates. If the applicant chooses to do that himself, that would be on him. Mr. Popovic stated with how many people are against the project he would prefer they be notified in some way of the new plans. Mr. Dekker stated he would prefer not to have to send out another packet, but he would be willing to visit his neighbors with the new plans.

C. 2022-03 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to request a Personal Service Use (Nail Salon) in the US 41 Overlay District, at 8329 Wicker Ave.; Tuong Tran, OT Nail (applicant/owner), Son Nguyen (Agent).
Son Nguyen, General Contractor for OT Nail, stated the unit will be built out from an empty shell to house a nail salon that will offer basic care that is normally found in nail salons. Renee Egnatz, owner of Lake Central Plaza, stated OT Nail will add value to our plaza and the current businesses are excited for them to be a part of the area. Mr. Kennedy stated it looks like there are six stations and a room. Mr. Nguyen stated those are pedicure stations and the room with be our esthetician room. Mr. Kennedy asked how many employees there would be. Mr. Nguyen stated we are planning for five to ten. Mr. Kennedy asked if there has been any parking issues. Ms. Egnatz stated no. Mr. Kennedy asked if there were any issues with sanitary water. Mr. Nguyen stated no, this would just be pedicure water with no chemicals. Ms. Egnatz stated there is plenty of parking behind the building for his employees that would not impact customer parking.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-03 Special Exception
No public comments were made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-03 Special Exception

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for BZA 2022-03, the special exception of a Personal Service Use (Nail Salon) for OT Nail at 8329 Wicker Ave., including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

D. 2022-04 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-520 et seq. StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) to construct a fence three feet behind the sidewalk on a corner lot and encroach in to the vision triangle, at 9122 Mallord Ln.; Zac Topoll (applicant/owner).
Zac Topoll, 9122 Mallord Ln., stated his intent is to continue the fence of his neighbor’s out to the sidewalk in order to allow our four young children to play freely within the yard. There is an existing sewer main about five feet off of the sidewalk that we would like for the fence to be on the far side of. The intent is to install an aluminum fence that does not obstruct the view significantly. He stated he looked in to the minimum visibility requirements, which is 115 feet at 20mph. That cannot be obstructed with this type of fence due to the size of the radius of this road. We are looking to bring the fence forward to cover the window wells as well in order to avoid people looking through them or even falling in to the well itself.

Mr. Lareau stated in regards to the window wells, covers can be purchased to cover those. To take the fence all the way to the sidewalk is questionable. Mr. Mendoza stated the fence needs to be eight feet from the property line, per our Ordinance. Mr. Topoll stated he does have neighbors with opaque privacy fences just a few feet off of the sidewalks. Mr. Lareau stated Ordinances and people may have changed since then. Mr. Kennedy stated Mr. Topoll brings up a good point, but this Board has really tried to put a stop to that immediately. In the last few variances, we have pushed the fence back to the building line which is a better standard for us and avoids future conflicts and safety concerns. With this size yard, it is hard to allow pushing the fence that far back. Mr. Kennedy suggested having the fence on the building line in order to help create that standard among the Board. Mr. Topoll asked what the safety concern was. Mr. Kennedy stated if someone is riding a bike on that sidewalk and falls, they could be falling right in to that fence. Discussion followed regarding the vision triangle and how that would still be a variance even if the fence were eight feet off of the property line.

Mr. Lareau stated it looks like the fence is further forward from the back corner as well, and on a corner lot it needs to start at the back corner of the house. That would not be as big of a deal if we only allowed the fence to come out to the building line because we understand the want to enclose the window wells. Mr. Topoll asked if they would approve of him bringing the fence eight feet from the property line and not impacting the vision triangle. It technically requires that variance, but with the type of fence proposed, it would not impact the vision triangle. Mr. Mendoza stated if the fence is kept eight feet off of the line, it would still run in to the vision triangle and would need a variance. Mr. Topoll stated any fence that is installed would impact that triangle. Mr. Kennedy asked if this type of fence would still be used if the Board asks for the fence to be on the building line. Mr. Topoll stated he intended to install that type of fence regardless. Mr. Kennedy asked if the basement windows were egress windows. Mr. Topoll stated they were not.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-04 Developmental Variance
No public comments were made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-04 Developmental Variance

Mr. Kennedy stated he is not in favor of how this is proposed and would rather see it at the building line, but allow the two window wells to be within the fence. Mr. Lareau stated he understood wanting to push the fence out, but agreed with Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Topoll presented the Board with a drawing showing the fence at three feet off of the sidewalk and how it may look with the vision triangle based on the 115 foot visibility at 20mph. He stated his goal was to enclose as much yard as possible for his children, but also increase the value of the home and installing the fence on the building line would, if anything, decrease the value making the yard look awkward. Mr. Popovic stated his concern would be the underground utilities. Mr. Topoll stated there are minimal utilities where the fence is proposed. We did have them marked to find out.

Mr. Kennedy stated Mr. Topoll has a larger lot and he understands wanting to fence as much as possible, but as is, he would not be in favor of the proposed fence location. Discussion followed regarding allowing the fence to be further towards the front of the house to enclose the window wells, but only to the building line in order to not impact the vision triangle as much. Mr. Lareau stated if Mr. Topoll is wanting to go past the building line, it sounds like there is no happy medium. Mr. Kennedy agreed and stated he did not see any other hardship that would change his mind on the location of the fence. Mr. Topoll stated the hardship is that the property value will diminish with the yard cut in half and we may have to tear down a fence in order to sell our home down the line, which would financially impact us. He stated he also believed that his neighbors would have an issue bringing the fence in because in speaking with them, they were on board for how it is proposed. Mr. Popovic stated although you can see through this fence, if you look at the first picture of the neighbor’s fence, you notice that the further back you look the fence becomes a solid line that you cannot see through. That shows the visual impact it would have on the corner. Mr. Topoll stated he would be significantly further back on the road and be able to see through there.

Mr. Kennedy asked if the proposal was still three feet off of the sidewalk. Mr. Topoll stated he did not believe that was an option after discussion, and modified the plan to be eight feet off of the sidewalk and behind the front window well, approximately thirteen feet from the front edge of the southeast corner of the home. Mr. Kennedy stated he still preferred the building line. The Board members agreed. Mr. Lareau stated we understand the position, but we are really striving for consistency.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to deny BZA 2022-04, to construct a fence three feet behind the sidewalk on a corner lot and encroach in to the vision triangle at 9122 Mallord Ln., including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Topoll asked if that meant he did not have a fence and that he needed to start from scratch. Mr. Decker stated if the fence does not require a variance, you may build it. Mr. Topoll stated everything requires a variance because of the vision triangle. Mr. Mendoza stated the current code allows you to be eight feet off of the property line and out of the site line, so a fence can be constructed around that. For the Board’s information, corner lots are 20% larger than normal lots because of the complexity they propose. They are allowed to be larger in order to help offset those complexities. In this case, the twenty foot building line is off of a one hundred and twenty foot lot line, which that lot line is typically one hundred feet on an interior lot. Mr. Topoll stated any fence that is proposed will encroach in to the vision triangle. Mr. Mendoza stated he would sit with Mr. Topoll to come up with a plan that the staff can approve. Mr. Topoll stated we have already looked at that and there is no option that we are willing to proceed with. Mr. Topoll asked if he went to the building line, would the Board be willing to accept that. Mr. Kennedy stated that is what he has asked the whole time. Mr. Topoll stated if that is the case and we can adjust it, we would be willing to do that.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to reconsider BZA 2022-04, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-04, the variance from StJMC 24-520 et seq. StJMC 24-516 (e) (1), including Findings of Cat and all discussion had. The following contingencies are made part of this motion: the fence begins to the west of the most eastern window well, runs south only to the building line, is the proposed open aluminum fence, and mature landscaping may only be up to six feet tall in the southeast corner of the fenced in area. The motion was seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

E. 2022-05 SPECIAL EXCEPTION: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to request a Personal Service Use (Stretch Lab) in the US 41 Overlay District, at 10033 Wicker Ave., Suite 6; Michael Wondaal, Stretch Lab (applicant/owner), Michael Wondaal (Agent), Paul DeBoer (Building Owner).
Michael Wondaal, potential franchise owner of Stretch Lab, stated we are an assisted stretching and fitness boutique studio that came out of southern California in 2015. We will have roughly fifteen employees and the goal is to assist clients in their flexibility and mobility and overall health needs. Mr. Kennedy asked how many people maximum would be at the facility. Mr. Wondall stated there are ten benches, but we have yet to see a studio that full at one time. Typically we see about five to six clients, each with a stretchologist, and then a few employees at the front counter. Mr. Kennedy asked if there were any known parking issues in that area. Mr. Mendoza stated we have not received any complaints in that area. According to our Ordinance they would need about eleven or twelve parking spots at full capacity, which this area meets.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-05 Special Exception
No public comments were made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-05 Special Exception

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for BZA 2022-05, the special exception of a Personal Service Use for Stretch Lab at 10033 Wicker Ave. Suite 6, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

F. 2022-06 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a dance school in property zoned C-2 and in the US 41 Overlay District, at 8385 Wicker Ave.; Katie’s Spotlight Dance Studio (applicant/owner), Tim Kuiper (Attorney).
Tim Kuiper, Attorney, stated this use is permitted in the underlying C-2 use, however it has the US 41 Overlay District on top of it, and it is not listed in those uses. This area has been used for a dance studio in the past and there will only be one, maybe two, children receiving instruction at the same time with a few parents watching. There is a martial arts studio in this complex, but they meet at different times from when lessons are proposed at the dance studio which would not impact parking.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-06 Use Variance
No public comments were made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-06 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Popovic made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for BZA 2022-06, the use variance of a School for Katie’s Spotlight Dance Studio at 8385 Wicker Ave., including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

G. 2022-07 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-346, StJMC 24-347, and StJMC 24-351 to impact lot width, setback, building square footage, building material, and to eliminate bicycle parking in the US 41 Overlay District, at 10630 Wicker Ave.; Marian Wayside Shrine Foundation, Inc. (applicant/owner), Kevin Hunt (Attorney).
Kevin Hunt, Attorney, stated we are planning an expansion at the Shrine that will require some items to be addressed before we are able to finish. Today we would like to get approval for variances that will be a part of the addition of a meditation garden, retail center, and small plaza. The first variance will be for the setback of the retail center as it will be set further back from US 41 due to the connectivity to the current prayer trail and the Town well being located on the same lot. In the US 41 Overlay District, buildings are supposed to be along US 41, which is not possible in this case. Additionally, this is a very long parcel. Normally the width can only be half of the depth of a parcel, which will be another variance we are seeking. Much like many of the buildings on US 41, this will not meet the 15,000 sq.ft. minimum floor area, but it will be set further back and heavily landscaped so it is not as noticeable from the road. An additional variance request would be to eliminate the requirement of a bicycle rack on the building since we are trying to portray something that is well over five hundred years old. Mr. Lareau asked if that was a requirement. Mr. Mendoza stated it is part of the US 41 Overlay District to provide bicycle parking. Mr. Hunt stated the final request would be for building material. This will be a cement type plaster with an acrylic finish and cedar posts and shutters in order to mimic a building that is five hundred years old.

Mr. Kennedy asked what was going to be proposed between the retail building and US 41. Mr. Hunt stated at this time it will just be the ingress/egress that is currently there. Frank Schilling, Marian Wayside Shrine, stated the only access to that building will be through the prayer trail because there will be a fence around the entire area. The reason for that building is to provide extra restrooms for guests. There were requests for restrooms along the prayer trail, but we did not feel it was appropriate so this structure will allow there to be restrooms at the end of the trail as well as the restrooms in the main building at the beginning of the trail. Mr. Lareau asked what type of fence would be installed. Mr. Schilling stated the same type that is around the Continental subdivision. It will have gates for emergency access and will be heavily landscaped with berms. We would like to keep it hidden from US 41 in a way, just like the rest of the area is. Mr. Kennedy stated he is trying to understand what the vision is for between the fence and US 41. He asked if there would be further parking installed there. Mr. Schilling stated on Good Friday there were cars parked in that area, yes. Mr. Kennedy asked if additional parking spots would be planned for that area. Mr. Schilling stated it holds three hundred cars now, and normally throughout the week we use the main parking area, but on special occasions we have to use that area as additional parking. Mr. Hunt stated at the moment that area is going to stay asphalt grinding, but in the future, that area will be an interior road that leads to future development to the north. All of that is subject to a lot more steps and Plan Commission approval. Mr. Kennedy stated we do not know what the site plan is for the area between the building and US 41, and we understand not wanting a bike rack next to the new building, however if this area is going to be a parking lot in the future there would be potential to install a bike rack there. The other variances are understandable, but once we give approval it is for the entire lot and at this time we do not know what else will be added to that lot between the building and US 41. Mr. Schilling stated if a bike rack is required, we will install one. Once the store closes, we open the back gate so people are still able to walk the trail. If we install a bike rack there, we feel it will encourage people to ride their bikes on the trail, which is not our intention. The Board agreed that the existing parking lot would not be an ideal spot for a bike rack.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-07 Developmental Variance
No public comments were made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-07 Developmental Variance

Mr. Kennedy asked if the facility will be seen from US 41 once the proposed landscaping is mature, and if so, is there the possibility for denser landscaping to be installed. Mr. Hunt stated there is a berm installed along with some arborvitae that helps to hide the chapel, but there will be heavy landscaping around the retail center that include some tall grass and evergreens. Mr. Schilling stated if the Board would like to see a berm, we can install a berm. Mr. Popovic stated he did like the idea of a bike rack being installed and asked if it were possible to install one by the walking path and post a sign that states “no bikes beyond this point” in order to keep them off of the trail. Mr. Lareau stated those signs are already out there and they do not deter people from bringing their bikes and skateboards on to the path. Mr. Schilling stated if the Board really wants that, we can install that. Mr. Hunt asked for a contingency for no bike rack on the current development, but if there is a change there would need to be BZA approval. Mr. Kennedy stated he would go with if the site plan includes parking at a future date that the bike rack be installed there. Mr. Lareau agreed and stated he would not put it near the walking path, but further north on the property. Mr. Decker agreed that would be an appropriate condition.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-07, the variance from StJMC 24-346 to allow the building to be set further back on the lot than what is allowed in the US 41 Overlay District, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-07, the variance from StJMC 24-346 to allow the width of the lot to be less than half of the depth, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Popovic and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-07, the variance from StJMC 24-346 to allow the building to have 3,752 sq.ft. of floor area, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-07, the variance from StJMC 24-347 to eliminate the need for bicycle parking, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following conditions are made a part of this motion: if any portion of lot 2 between the adobe structure and US 41 becomes a paved parking surface at any time, bicycle parking shall be required. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-07, the variance from StJMC 24-351 to allow the use of adobe-type materials in the construction of the chapel and retail center, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following conditions are made a part of this motion: additional buffering, berms, or landscaping will be added to minimize visibility of the facility from US 41. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

H. 2022-08 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow the use of an Outdoor Amusement Establishment (meditation garden, walking paths, and welcome center) in the US 41 Overlay District, at 10630 Wicker Ave.; Marian Wayside Shrine Foundation, Inc. (applicant/owner), Kevin Hunt (Attorney).
Kevin Hunt, Attorney, stated the site existed before the addition of the US 41 Overlay District, but when we went to clean up the site plan and do the expansion we realized that we would not be grandfathered in with the use. We spoke with the Building and Planning Department to come up with the best potential use for the Shrine, and we landed on an Outdoor Amusement Establishment. The site is a bit of a walking museum, but that is not listed as a use in the Ordinance.

Mr. Kennedy asked what other uses would be allowed under this per our Ordinance. Mr. Mendoza stated whatever would be identified as an Outdoor Amusement. We can tie the contingencies to that use and identify the meditation garden, walking paths, and welcome center. Mr. Decker stated the Town’s Ordinance identifies an Outdoor Amusement Establishment to mean “theaters, raceways, music arenas, theme parks, amusement parks, miniature golf, water slides, batting cages, go-kart courses, and skateboard courses”. You may impose whatever conditions on the request. Mr. Hunt stated we are going to continue to use the Shrine as it has been in the past with no plan of those activities. We do not want the conditions to be too limiting, but we also do not want it to be too broad. Mr. Lareau asked what purposes are being considered down the road outside of the meditation garden and walking paths. Mr. Hunt stated he cannot say that there will never be another addition or change to the Shrine. Mr. Schilling stated there are occasions where there may be singing. Mr. Kennedy stated we are not expecting anything to change with the Shrine itself, but long term, someone could buy it and put a waterpark there. Mr. Hunt stated there will likely be small church gatherings and things like that. Mr. Schilling stated he is trying to get area churches to come and share in their musical talents. Mr. Kennedy stated we do not want to limit a potential music pavilion, but we do not want to allow the potential for rodeos or anything like that. Mr. Hunt stated currently there are no plans to change what we have been doing. The only things that are listed that we would want limited is theater, since we could possibly have reenactments; and the music arena, which it will not be an arena, but possible musical performances. We would like to continue the current activities that we have had in the past. Discussion followed.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-08 Use Variance
No public comments were made.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-08 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for BZA 2022-08, the use variance of an Outdoor Amusement Establishment for Marian Wayside Shrine Foundation, Inc. at 10630 Wicker Ave., including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following conditions are made a part of this motion: the activities on this property will be associated with the current activities of the Shrine, and the planned activities of the Marian Wayside Shrine Foundation, Inc. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

I. 2022-09 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-520 et seq. StJMC 24-516 (e)(1) to construct a fence six feet behind the sidewalk on a corner lot and encroach in to the vision triangle, at 8284 W. 105th Ave.; Scott Biederwolf (applicant/owner).
Scott Biederwolf, 8284 W. 105th Ave., stated we are asking to extend our fence fifteen feet from the home to allow the fence to be perpendicular rather than at an angle. The fence will invade the vision triangle by about thirty-two square feet total. We have two young kids and would like to have some privacy and safety for them as well as our dog.

Mr. Lareau asked if this was the home that received a letter from their HOA. Mr. Mendoza stated that was correct. Mr. Kennedy stated in this case, their house is right on the building line. He stated he would be more willing to move off of the building line and go to the easement line, which they would lose 3.5 feet of what they are proposing. In this case, it would not be appropriate to put the fence right on the building line. Mr. Kennedy stated this would obviously hinge on you getting approval from the HOA for the building permit since we will not be able to issue that without the HOA approval. Mr. Biederwolf stated we understand that we need HOA approval before receiving a permit. In our defense, they seemed to have blindly denied the fence without knowing what the proposal is. After speaking with the secretary of the HOA, she stated they have final say on the fence and since we did not approach them first, it would be denied. We assumed we needed to get some sort of approval from the Town first since we were seeking a variance before approaching the HOA with final plans for approval for the permit. Our HOA covenants do not state anywhere that we cannot have a fence where we are proposing, nor does it address the process if a variance is needed from the Town. We have been told that we can go to the Architectural Committee for approval after we receive preliminary approval from the Town, which is what we intend to do.

Kristie Biederwolf, 8284 W. 105th Ave., stated with the proposal, we just wanted to avoid having to cut our fence at an angle in order to avoid the vision triangle. Mr. Biederwolf agreed and stated we want to stay with the look of the subdivision and allowing the fence to be straight rather than at an angle would be more esthetically pleasing. Mr. Kennedy asked the type of fence they wanted to install. Mr. Biederwolf stated per our covenants it has to be a six foot white PVC privacy fence.

Mr. Lareau asked if the Board needed to wait for approval from the HOA. Mr. Mendoza stated we do not have to wait for approval from the HOA. The BZA is a quasi-jurisdictional body that takes action upon the municipal codes themselves. We will not be able to issue a building permit without HOA approval, however.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-09 Developmental Variance
Mr. Mendoza read in to record the letter from HOA Property Manager, Nicole Jefferson (See Exhibit E).

Mr. Biederwolf stated our HOA covenants does not speak to the inability to construct a fence or where it can or cannot be placed. We assumed that in order for us to get approval from the HOA, we would need to get approval for the variance that was needed from the Town first. In hearing that letter, it seems clear that they are wanting to deny the fence out of spite simply because we did not go to them first. Mrs. Biederwolf stated we did try to reach the Architectural Committee members to see if they would like to have a discussion or come tonight to hear the proposal, but we did not have any luck.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-09 Developmental Variance

Town Manager, Joe Wiszowaty asked Mr. and Mrs. Biederwolf if there were no restrictions on fencing in their covenants. Mrs. Biederwolf read all of the exerts from the HOA covenants that had to do with fencing, none of which addressed corner lots. Mr. Wiszowaty stated he found it odd to receive the letter from the HOA. Mr. Biederwolf stated he found it odd as well. Mrs. Biederwolf stated that is why we still wanted to come to get approval from the Board because we are not sure if they understand what we are asking for. We were not trying to go behind anyone’s back. Mr. Kennedy asked how the distance from the sidewalk to the proposed fence came about. Mrs. Biederwolf stated they wanted to stay off of the sidewalk enough for safety reasons as well as for ease of snow removal, and it seemed more esthetically pleasing to not butt right up against the sidewalk. Mr. Kennedy stated he would suggest going off of the easement line, which may not even require a variance for the vision triangle. Mr. Lareau stated that is moving the fence in about two feet. Mr. Mendoza stated it would be in the best interest, if the Board approves along the easement, to still address the variance because it is a matter of a mathematical equation that this Board cannot do. It would be up to the contractor, but because it is so close, we should address it anyway.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-09, the variance from StJMC 24-520 et seq. StJMC 24-516 (e) (1), including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following condition is made a part of this motion: the fence will be allowed to come off of the back corner of the house out to the ten foot utility easement line only. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with five ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Drago Popovic, Brendan Sheeran, and Mark Lareau
Nays: None

NEW/OLD BUSINESS

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussions, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 10:07 P.M.

 

 

Mark LareauJohn Kennedy
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Vice-Chairman
05-16-2022 Board of Zoning Appeals

May 16, 2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, May 16, 2022 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members Present:
Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Vice Chairman; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.

Absent:
Drago Popovic, and Brendan Sheeran, Secretary.

Also Present:
Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Councilman Liaison; Joe Wiszowaty, Town Manager; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director. A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve the April 18, 2022 BZA Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Robert Birlson, John Kennedy, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2022-02 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-96 to construct a 24 foot by 30 foot (720 sq.ft.) detached garage in the location of current shed, at 9024 Columbia St.; James Dekker (applicant/owner). *Public Hearing left open at April 18, 2022 meeting.
James Dekker, 9024 Columbia Street, stated he had changed his original request from a thirty foot by forty foot garage to a twenty-four foot by thirty foot garage after the previous meeting. The siding and exterior will match the house, endwall B (as shown on the garage plans) will face the street as an entrance for the vehicles, and sidewall C will face the back of the house with a service door to get the mower in and out. Mr. Lareau asked if the existing shed were going to be removed. Mr. Dekker stated it would be. Mr. Lareau stated you will be left with a concrete pad almost twice the size of the garage you are proposing to build. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. Mr. Birlson asked what the current pad side was. Mr. Dekker stated it is thirty feet by forty feet. There will be about a sixteen foot patio left once the garage is built. Mr. Lareau asked if Mr. Dekker were now within the allowable square footage of garage space. Building and Planning Director Sergio Mendoza stated he is now within the allowable square footage. The only variance being requested is for the detached garage. At 720 sq.ft., frost line footings will not be needed either. Mr. Kennedy asked which direction sidewall C would be facing. Mr. Dekker stated it would be facing east, which is towards the house. Mr. Kennedy asked to confirm that the exterior will match the existing home. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. Mr. Kennedy stated the concern at the last meeting was that there be no commercial type uses in that garage. Mr. Dekker stated he understood that. Mr. Kennedy asked about the drain that was installed on the pad and if it still existed. Mr. Dekker stated we have filled the drain in so it is no longer functional.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-02 Developmental Variance
Gerald Ryba, 9039 Howard Ct., stated that last time he was here he had heard what was proposed and understood that the public hearing was held over until this meeting. He questioned if there was a building permit issued for a thirty foot by forty foot garage, and if so, that exceeds the square footage allowed. Also, in the Town Ordinance, there is a section that states no detached garages are allowed in a rear yard. Mr. Lareau stated that is what we are here to discuss tonight. Mr. Ryba stated if that is the case, why was a permit issued for the larger size since it does not follow the Ordinance. Mr. Mendoza stated a permit was issued for a concrete patio. Concrete patios are permitted within a rear yard as long as they do not cover more than fifteen percent of the square footage of the lot. A year later, Mr. Dekker requested for a structure to be placed on the concrete patio and at that time he was advised to file for the variance from the Code that is listed on the agenda. Mr. Ryba stated that answers his question. He went on to state that the main reason he is against it is because of the current traffic on 90th. There is a school bus that stops daily in this area, and the neighbor’s children play in the street and yard. The garage will attract extra traffic that does not need to be there. Mr. Dekker currently has cars parked on Columbia, which is an eye sore, and now the eye sore is going to be on 90th with a garage that does not belong there. If the garage is not allowed to be built, there will still be a concrete pad there that vehicles will be parked on, which is not allowed either.

Diane Smith, 9039 Columbia Street, stated we are not in favor of this. We already have an issue with a few vehicles that use Columbia as the “Indy 500” with loud noises at all hours of the day and night. Mr. Birlson asked if it was specifically Mr. Dekker’s cars. Mrs. Smith stated they are his cars. They also put a very large chime in their yard that would wake the entire neighborhood, which they did take down. Our concern is that this will become a business. They work on their cars all the time, and have cars over all the time.

Mr. Mendoza read in to record a letter submitted by Rhuben Pittman, 9021 Columbia St., see Exhibit A.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-02 Developmental Variance

BOARD DISCUSSION/QUESTIONS/COMMENTS
Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Dekker how many cars he owned. Mr. Dekker stated he owns four cars and his son also has a work van that he brings home every day. Mr. Kennedy asked if he had a two car garage currently. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. Mr. Kennedy stated he assumed only one car could fit in the garage since the extra space was used for lawn equipment and more with the shed being taken down. Mr. Dekker stated that was correct. Mr. Kennedy asked if two cars were going in to the new garage. Mr. Dekker stated he intends on putting two cars in the new garage along with the “stuff” from the attached garage in order to put the other two cars in the attached garage. Mr. Birlson asked what the size of the attached garage was. Mr. Dekker stated he believed it was about twenty-four feet by twenty-eight feet. Mr. Birlson asked if any neighbors had three car garages. Mr. Dekker stated not his direct neighbors, but on the block, yes.
Mr. Birlson stated he has a twenty-seven foot by thirty-six foot detached garage, which is not large by any means. He stated he heard the opinion of the neighbors, but did not really understand their concern since the goal is to eliminate a problem with parking cars on the street. Mr. Dekker stated he had one vehicle that was hit while it was parked on Columbia Street, and would like to avoid reliving that. Mr. Kennedy stated he agreed with Mr. Birlson, but was still concerned that the Facebook post for Dekker Detailing lists the home address. If a variance with a contingency is on here, the hope is that the contingency is respected and upheld. We do not have control over muffler noises, but if we do find out a business is being conducted out of there, the variance will be lost. Mr. Dekker stated we are allowed to wash and clean our own vehicles. Mr. Kennedy stated that was correct. Mr. Dekker stated his son does have friends that come over and they detail their vehicles to get ready for a show. Mr. Kennedy stated that is what we need to try and avoid because this is a residential area. If this variance is allowed, the Town needs to keep a sharp eye on it to make sure that there is no business conducted. Mr. Lareau agreed and stated we do need to respect the neighbor’s opinions.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-02, the variance from StJMC 24-96, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following contingencies were made part of this motion: the exterior, siding and roof, match the existing house, the garage shall be no more than 720 sq.ft., and no commercial activity shall be allowed inside of the detached garage. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Robert Birlson, John Kennedy, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

B. 2022-10 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a club/lodge, private, fraternal or religious in property zoned C-2 and in the US 41 Overlay District, at 9501 Wicker Ave.; American Legion Post #369; Frank Darrington, Post Commander (applicant/owner), Alexander Kutanovski (Attorney).
Alex Kutanovski, Kutanovski Law Offices, stated he would like to ask for a deferral tonight for two reasons. One, to get a full complement of the Board, and two, a few issues have been brought to our attention that need to be discussed and figured out with Attorney Decker. Mr. Kennedy recommended opening the public hearing for anyone who was present to speak, and then deferring any action. Attorney Decker stated that would be appropriate. Mr. Kennedy asked for a brief explanation of the proposal. Mr. Kutanovski stated this would be a site for American Legion members only with no outside activity. Town Council Liaison Bryan Blazak asked if any remodeling would be done or any expansions. Mr. Kutanovski stated some light remodeling would be done to fit the needs of the Legion, but no expansions.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-10 Use Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-10 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to defer BZA 2022-10, the variance from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Robert Birlson, John Kennedy, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

C. 2022-12 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-124 to construct a 10 foot by 18 foot (180 sq.ft.) accessory structure, 180 sq.ft. over what is allowed on this property, at 9128 Eggert Ln.; James Carlson (applicant/owner).
James Carlson, 9128 Eggert Ln., stated we are looking to place a shed in our backyard. There already is what is considered a shed that is set up as our pool house and does not have much storage. We would like to construct the shed to house things like our lawn equipment instead of having it in the garage. There is a large swing set that would be eliminated and the shed would be constructed in the place of that. Mr. Carlson pointed out to the Board that on the survey the pool house is considered a shed, but as shown in the pictures submitted, it is not set up like a shed, rather a pool house that is not designed for any type of storage. Mr. Kennedy asked how big the pool house was. Mr. Birlson stated the survey shows twenty feet by twenty-five feet. Mr. Kennedy stated a homeowner is allowed two sheds with a max of 250 sq.ft. He stated he would like to calculate what is there and what is being asked in order to place a maximum square footage allowed on the variance. Mr. Kennedy was able to find the initial email sent by Town staff showing that the Lake County Assessor’s office has the pool house as 550 sq.ft.

Mr. Carlson stated he did discuss the shed with the neighbors and they are just happy to know that the old swing set is being torn down. Mr. Kennedy stated they also have a fence and it looks like the shed would not be visible from the road. Mr. Carlson stated that was correct. There are two proposed sheds in the packet, but either way we go, the shed would be the color of the home. Mr. Lareau asked if there were any regulations on materials used for sheds in the Ordinance. Mr. Mendoza stated there was not. Councilman Blazak asked how the plastic shed would weather. Mr. Carlson stated it would wear better than the wood and they say it will not fade for fifteen years.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-12 Developmental Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-12 Developmental Variance

BOARD DISCUSSION/QUESTIONS/COMMENTS
Mr. Lareau stated he preferred to not have the plastic shed, but understood that it was the homeowner’s choice. Mr. Carlson stated the plastic shed would actually be shorter than the wood shed and would almost not be able to be seen from the street because of how the yard slopes. The swing set is much higher than the proposed shed. There is also a six foot fence that closes the yard off, which would help hide it as well.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-12, the variance from StJMC 24-124, including Findings of Fact and all discussion had. The following contingency is made part of this motion: the two structures on the property, the 550 sq.ft. pool house and 180 sq.ft. proposed shed, shall not exceed 730 sq.ft., nor shall any future accessory structures. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Robert Birlson, John Kennedy, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

NEW/OLD BUSINESS

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussions, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 7:31 P.M.

 

 

Mark LareauBob Birlson
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Member
05-16-2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf
06-20-2022 Board of Zoning Appeals

June 20, 2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, June 20, 2022 at 7:02 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members Present:
Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.

Absent:
Drago Popovic, Jon Kennedy, Vice-Chairman; and Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager.

Also Present:
Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Councilman Liaison; and Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director. A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

Mr. Lareau asked to defer the May 16, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes since he did not get the chance to review them. Mr. Sheeran made a motion to defer the May 16, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2022-13 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-462 (b) to construct a 336 sq.ft. addition to an existing garage, 37 sq.ft. over the maximum garage space allowed, at 8465 Jennifer Court, St. John, IN.; Michael Oertel (applicant/owner).
Michael Oertel, 8465 Jennifer Court, stated the garage addition will be twenty-eight feet by twelve feet, putting him thirty-seven square feet over the eleven hundred square feet of garage space that is allowed on his property. It will be a third bay on the existing two-car garage. Mr. Lareau asked if the third bay will match the existing exterior of the home. Mr. Oertel stated he will be re-siding the entire home once the addition is done, but that it would all match. Mr. Birlson asked the reason for the addition. Mr. Oertel stated it would be a bay for his truck with room for a lawn mower in front of it. Mr. Lareau asked if there were any issues with distances from lot lines. Mr. Mendoza stated no.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-13 Developmental Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition, nor were any letters submitted to be part of record.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-13 Developmental Variance

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a motion to approve BZA 2022-13, the variance from StJMC 24-462 (b), including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

B. 2022-14 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-96 & StJMC 24-462 (b) & (c) to construct a 789 sq.ft. detached garage with a height of 22 feet and 9.5 inches, at 10351 Lakeside Court, St. John, IN; John Tsahas (applicant/owner).
John Tsahas was not present at the time this petition was initially called. Attorney Decker stated the public hearing could be held if anyone is here to speak regarding the petition. The burden is on the applicant to establish the factual criteria necessary for the approval of the variance of use.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-14 Developmental Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition, nor were any letters submitted to be part of record.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-14 Developmental Variance

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to defer BZA 2022-14, the variance from StJMC 24-96 & StJMC 24-462 (b) & (c), seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

C. 2022-15 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-555 (e) (1) to install two signs totaling approximately 750 sq.ft., 650 sq.ft. over the maximum signage allowed, at 10103 Earl Drive, St. John, IN; Planet Fitness/St. John Holdings, LLC; Rick Raimondo (agent/owner), James Wieser (attorney).
James Wieser, Attorney, gave a brief overview of Rick Raimondo’s involvement in the community as well as the other Planet Fitness locations he owns in Northwest Indiana. Mr. Wieser stated the current Town Ordinance references signs by square footage, allowing one hundred square feet in Commercial areas, rather than by the frontage of the building. Two signs, since there will be one on the south side and one on the west side of the buildings, at fifty square feet a piece will look disproportionate. Mr. Wieser gave an explanation of where the lot is located and how the view of the lot is partially blocked off by the buildings in front of it, making it imperative to have appropriately sized signage so the building can be seen and recognized. He also referenced other Planet Fitness locations where Mr. Raimondo was able to obtain variances for substantial square footage increases in signage due to the locations of the buildings. Mr. Wieser stated there is a monument sign, but the portion that will be dedicated to Planet Fitness is rather small and will be hard to see from US41.

Mr. Lareau stated the issue he has with that much square footage is that, if this is granted, everyone else will want that size. Although the building is set back off of US41, Earl Drive has become a highly traveled road from Stracks down to Alsip. From that route, it is fairly visible and holds a larger entrance than most places. Mr. Lareau stated he was not in favor of granting that much extra square footage. Mr. Birlson asked the dimensions of the two signs. Mr. Wieser stated the square footage of each would be three hundred and seventy five. Mr. Sheeran asked if the sign would be purple and yellow. Rick Raimondo, St. John Holdings, LLC, stated it would have purple letters with a black gear and yellow thumb. Mr. Sheeran asked what color the background of the sign would be. Mr. Raimondo stated a grey/tan. This will have more of a modern look with the stone and brick. Mr. Sheeran asked what the minimum size would be that would be acceptable, and stated that he agreed that the one hundred square feet is too small. Mr. Raimondo stated he is aware that there is a good entrance and view from Earl Drive, but with the traffic on US41, the business would be missed. The presented size was a suggestion by our architect based on the size of the building and distance from US41. If the Board is not willing to do that, anything over the one hundred square feet would be helpful.

Mr. Birlson stated he did not have a problem with the presented size, but that he understood other members do. He suggested downsizing to three-quarters of the three hundred and seventy-five square feet presented. Mr. Lareau asked if the sign was going to be backlit. Mr. Raimondo stated that was correct, just backlit letters with LED lights. Mr. Birlson stated other businesses seem like they are this size or a little smaller. Mr. Mendoza stated in some situations, they identify a larger main entrance sign and reduce a secondary sign. In this case, they are proposing two signs of the same size, but there could be the idea of reducing one sign as a secondary sign and then looking at what would fit proportion-wise within the space allotted for the primary entrance sign. Mr. Sheeran asked if the request would be for the west sign to be larger, if the Board agrees to two different sized signs. Mr. Wieser stated that was correct. If the request would be granted for the west side, we can reduce the impact and size on the south side. Mr. Raimondo asked if the Board would be open to three hundred square feet on the west side and two hundred on the south side. Mr. Lareau stated he felt that was still too big. Town Councilman Liaison Bryan Blazak asked if just the logo could be shrunk. Mr. Raimondo stated it may be possible, but the franchise is very strict with design and it may only save a few square feet.

Mr. Lareau asked what the frontage of the building was. Mr. Raimondo stated he believed it was one hundred and twenty feet. Mr. Sheeran stated he understood not wanting to go too large and that Earl Drive is a traveled street, but the point is to get traffic in from US41 to the business. Mr. Birlson asked if there was a building in front of the lot. Mr. Raimondo stated not currently, but eventually there will be. Mr. Birlson stated when that happens, you will only be able to see a glimpse of the building from US41.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-15 Developmental Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition, nor were any letters submitted to be part of record.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-15 Developmental Variance

BOARD DISCUSSION/QUESTIONS/COMMENTS
Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Decker if they were to allow the extra square footage that it be based on the size of the frontage of the building. Mr. Decker stated the Board may impose conditions or contingencies as part of approval for the variance. You could impose the condition of Planet Fitness owning this building and if that changes at any time, the variance would then not apply. Mr. Lareau asked if Mr. Raimondo owned the building. Mr. Raimondo stated he did. Mr. Sheeran stated this would just protect us if the building is ever sold or subdivided in to smaller offices.

Mr. Mendoza stated if the Board members are looking to base it on frontage, one hundred and twenty times two and a half is three hundred square feet, which is seventy-five square feet less of what is being asked. Mr. Birlson stated the south side is much longer. Mr. Lareau stated the south side is not the main entrance, though. Mr. Sheeran suggested two hundred and fifty square feet for the west side and one hundred and fifty square feet for the south side. Mr. Lareau stated he was thinking only one hundred square feet for the south side. Mr. Raimondo stated that would be acceptable.

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve BZA 2022-15, the variance from StJMC 24-555 (e) (1), including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following conditions/contingencies are made part of this motion: the sign on the west side of the building may only be two hundred and fifty square feet, the sign on the south side of the building may only be one hundred square feet, and the approval of this variance is conditioned upon Planet Fitness occupying the entire space in the building, as presented to the Board. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

D. 2022-16 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-95 (d) (1) to allow a lot width of approximately 89 feet, in lieu of the 100 feet required, at 8810 Marquette Street, Schererville, IN; Dominik & Agnieszka Baran (owners), Doug Homeier (McMahon Engineers/Architects).
Doug Homeier, McMahon Engineers/Architects, stated the owners would like to demolish the existing home and build a new home on the parcel, but the lot is not a lot of record. We were already in front of the Plan Commission and received primary plat approval, however it was brought to our attention that the lot width waiver that the Plan Commission granted us was not correct and that we needed to come in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals for that approval. For the existing R-1 zoning that is out there, we are about eleven feet short of the required one hundred foot lot width. Mr. Sheeran asked what would be done on the property. Mr. Homeier stated they will demolish the house and try to use the existing foundation, possibly expanding it, to build a new one.

Mr. Mendoza stated currently this parcel is identified as the southern portion of lot 24 and part of the north portion of lot 25. At some point this home was constructed on there and the two lots of record were parceled off at County, never being recognized by the Town. This then eventually fell under jurisdiction of the Town and the property owner had to create a new lot of record combining the southern portion of lot 24 and the norther portion of lot 25, creating Baran Estates Lot 1. The intent is to remove the existing home and construct a new home on this lot, but according to the current zoning, a minimum lot width of one hundred feet is required. Unfortunately, at the time this southern half of lot 24 and northern half of lot 25 was created, they did not meet the one hundred foot requirement. Per our current Ordinance, they must comply or seek a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow a lot less than one hundred feet of frontage. Mr. Lareau asked when they were annexed in to Town. Mr. Mendoza stated we would need to research the history of the property and the annexation. Mr. Homeier stated the original subdivision was done in the 1940’s so there may not have been anything to adhere to when it got broken up that way, but now that they want to put a new house on it they fall in to the new Ordinance. Mr. Lareau asked if Mr. Homeier knew the size of home. Mr. Homeier stated no, this is just for the subdivision approval. When that time comes, we will have to submit plans that follow current setbacks.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-16 Developmental Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition, nor were any letters submitted to be part of record.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-16 Developmental Variance

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve BZA 2022-16, the variance from StJMC 24-95 (d) (1), including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

NEW/OLD BUISINESS

E. 2022-10 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a club/lodge, private, fraternal or religious in property zoned C-2 and in the US41 Overlay District, at 9501 Wicker Avenue, St. John, IN; American Legion Post #369; Frank Darrington, Post Commander (applicant/owner), Alexander Kutanovski (attorney).
Alexander Kutanovski, Attorney, stated the zoning of this location would allow the American Legion to occupy without a variance, but the Overlay District requires the use variance. The Legion feels that this building suits its purposes for membership and community programs they would run out of the location. We understand the area is a Commercial area, but the location and price of the building meet the requirements for the Legion and its operation. Frank Darrington, Post #369 Commander, gave a description of the American Legion stating it is the largest veteran service organization in the nation, and is composed of men and women who have honorably served or are currently serving. Commander Darrington proceeded to explain what the American Legion stood for and their commitment to serving the community. Drew Dzieglowicz, 8176 Wicker Ave., stated he has been a member of the Sons of the American Legion for thirty-eight years. He explained that there would be nothing detrimental about operating out of this location and that the intent is for the Legion to be more involved in the community as well as the events that happen around St. John.

Mr. Birlson asked where the current lodge is. Commander Darrington stated the pervious post home was an East Chicago location. Mr. Birlson asked if the concrete barrier on US41 was in front of this location. Commander Darrington stated there is no barrier in front of the building. Mr. Sheeran asked if the building was going to be modified. Commander Darrington stated they intend to remodel the building, but not expand it. Mr. Birlson stated to turn south on to US41 from this business will be very difficult.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-10 Use Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition, nor were any letters submitted to be part of record.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-10 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Birlson made a favorable recommendation to the Town Council for BZA 2022-10, the variance from StJMC 24-342 et seq. StJMC 24-45, including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

2022-14 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-96 & StJMC 24-462 (b) & (c) to construct a 789 sq.ft. detached garage with a height of 22 feet and 9.5 inches, at 10351 Lakeside Court, St. John, IN; John Tsahas (applicant/owner).

John Tsahas, 10351 Lakeside Ct., had entered the meeting and requested to be heard by the Board. The Board allowed. Mr. Tsahas stated we are wanting to make this home in St. John our forever home. Currently we are asking for a variance on the overall square footage of the two garages combined, the height of the detached garage, and the detached garage which is connected by a breezeway. A few years ago we were in front of the Plan Commission and combined two lots in Lake Hills, so this home will sit on just over an acre of property. Our current home has an oversized two car garage that we can only fit one car in, so we are trying to avoid the same mistake here. Mr. Lareau asked how much square footage was allowed. Mr. Mendoza stated due to the size of his lot, he is allowed the eleven hundred square feet as well as five hundred and forty square feet extra. Discussion followed regarding the placement of the garage.

Mr. Lareau stated the height of the detached garage will not exceed the height of the home. Mr. Tsahas stated that is correct.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-10 Use Variance
No one was present to speak for or against the petition, nor were any letters submitted to be part of record.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-10 Use Variance

Board Action
Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve BZA 2022-10, the variance from StJMC 24-96 & StJMC 24-462 (b) & (c), including Findings of Fact and all discussions had, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None.

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussions, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 8:22 P.M.
Mark LareauBrendan Sheeran
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
07-18-2022 Board of Zoning Appeals

July 18, 2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Minutes

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Mark Lareau called the St. John Board of Zoning Appeals Regular Meeting to order on Monday, July 18, 2022 at 7:00 P.M., and led all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

ROLL CALL:

Members Present:
Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Brendan Sheeran, Secretary; and Mark Lareau, Chairman.

Absent:
Drago Popovic

Also Present:
Adam Decker, Board Attorney; Bryan Blazak, Councilman Liaison; Joseph Wiszowaty, Town Manager; Sergio Mendoza, St. John Building and Planning Director. A quorum was attained.

MINUTES:

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the May 16, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Kennedy and carried by voice vote with four ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

Mr. Sheeran made a motion to approve the June 20, 2022 Regular Meeting Minutes, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with three ayes and on abstention.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None
Abstain: John Kennedy

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

A. 2022-17 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-122 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow dog daycare and boarding in property zoned R-2, at 12930 Snowberry Lane, St. John, IN; Patrick Walsh (owner), Brian and Eleanor Walsh (applicant/agent), James Wieser (attorney).
James Wieser, Attorney, stated he wanted to indicate the legal position he has on this particular variance, which is that a use variance is not needed given the language of the Zoning Ordinance. Attorney Decker knows the basis of this argument, and we understand his argument back to that, but we wanted to clarify that issue for the record in case this needs to go elsewhere. He stated he knew there had been questions regarding the R-2 Zoning Classification and the potential of it being changed. We would like to make it clear that this variance, were it to be granted, applies only to this one parcel of property. Indiana Case Law is very clear on that. To quote a leading case, “a variance involves a deviation or a change from legislative zoning classification applicable to only a certain piece of property”. This will not change the R-2 Zoning Classification in the subdivision in any way shape or form. In the event this use variance is granted, it will apply only to that parcel of property and only upon the basis of the action that the BZA recommends and the Town Council takes, in the event they decide to approve. Attorney Wieser introduced Eleanor Walsh and explained that she would be speaking regarding the fact-basis for this application.

Eleanor Walsh, 12930 Snowberry Lane, stated when we started this service in our prior home more than ten years ago, we were attempting to fill a need in dog boarding that we would have liked to use ourselves instead of having a stranger come to care for our Great Dane in our home. We wanted to offer a home environment where dogs could come and live in our home, play together, and not be traumatized by kennels with concrete floors and cages. Dogs would not come back sick after their stay with us, or horse from barking all night, or with sores on their nose or paws from grated metal cages and floors. Shortly after we decided to start this, a group called dogvacay.com launched and we joined. It was a need greatly in demand, and we have enjoyed being a part of this growing residential style, crate free, and non-kennel service for the last ten years. We are not and have never been a kennel. We made a decision to move here to St. John to be closer to extended family that live nearby. When we started operating our service here we were unaware that we needed a kennel permit, as we never needed one in our prior home, nor do we consider ourselves a kennel. Upon doing research, we thought we were under the six dog limit to be classified as a kennel. We made every effort not to inconvenience our neighbors. We spoke with our immediate neighbors when we moved in and let them know what we were going to do and asked them to contact us if there was ever an issue. We also made sure any neighbors having an event outside, or just spending time outside in their yards, were not inconvenienced by dog barking. Dogs are supervised outside, barking is stopped quickly, and if we have a guest dog that is a bad barker, we do not take that dog again. During a typical day, dogs are outside on and off no earlier than 8:00AM and no later than 10:00PM. We do not walk them around the neighborhood, rather they have extended play time in our fenced backyard. When they are not in the yard, they are inside of our home. There is not a lot of traffic, as we do not provide Monday through Friday daycare. At the most we have one guest that comes one day a week, two or three times a month. We have no plans to expand that as our primary service is overnight stays, usually longer than five days. Mrs. Walsh stated we have had hundreds of clients and hundreds of positive reviews on dogvacay.com and rover.com, we never had any complaints in our prior home, and we do carry insurance through rover.com and our personal dog sitting insurance. We also require all dogs to be up to date on vaccinations, and provide proof. We also pay taxes on our income from this service. We feel like this situation has snowballed when all we want to do is take care of a few dogs in a loving environment for people when they go out of town or experience an emergency. We have not and will not need to make any exterior changes to our premises, and there has not and will never be any signage either. This is also our home and our neighborhood, too. We do not feel like this service has or will change the character of our neighborhood or unduly convenience our neighbors any more than a resident who has five personal dogs in their home.

Attorney Wieser stated he would like to present a petition signed by a number of folks that are in favor of the application. The Board allowed Mr. Wieser to approach to submit the petition. Mr. Lareau asked Attorney Decker if he was correct in stating that action by the BZA on this matter will only be a recommendation to the Town Council, who then has the final say. Attorney Decker stated that was correct and went through the procedure of the BZA for use variances.

Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. and Mrs. Walsh to explain the length of boarding. Mrs. Walsh stated our business is mainly overnight stays. We rarely take daycare because we limit it to five dogs. It is easier on us, the community, and everyone else if we only do the overnight stays. We currently only have one daycare guest right now, and do not plan to expand on, that is only there three to four times a month. Mr. Kennedy asked if Mr. and Mrs. Walsh owned any dogs of their own. Mrs. Walsh stated they do not. Mr. Kennedy stated you had spoken about paying income tax on the money made from this business, but do you pay a higher tax rate on your home because you use it as a business. Mr. Walsh stated no. Our son is our landlord and, since the home is a residence, he only pays the residential tax rate. Mr. Kennedy stated we heard Attorney Wieser’s opinion on why they did not need to apply for the use variance, and asked Attorney Decker for his opinion on why they do need to apply. Attorney Decker stated the Ordinance at issue, which is both in the Town Code and Zoning Ordinance, defines a kennel to be “any premises wherein any person engages in the business of boarding, breeding, buying, letting for hire, training for a fee, or selling dogs and cats”. That definition also includes the following sentence, “six or more dogs and/or cats owned, harbored, possessed, cared for, or kept in custody of any person shall be construed and constitute a kennel”. The Town definition of kennel does not exclude business operations with fewer than six cats or dogs. For example, if a homeowner runs a kennel out of their home, but only boards five or fewer dogs at a time, that still meets the definition of a kennel under our Zoning Ordinance and the Town Code because of the use of the words “any lot or premises where any person engages in the business of boarding”. That definition is intended to identify any type of boarding irrespective of the number of animals that are being boarded at any one time. The sentence regarding six animals, in Attorney Decker’s opinion, is applicable to homeowners that are not in the business of boarding but just so happen to have six or more dogs or cats on their premises. By definition, the Town would deem that homeowner to be operating a kennel.

Mr. Birlson asked if dogs will stay multiple nights or just one night. Mrs. Walsh stated it is typically multiple nights. Mr. Birlson asked if they had said they would not have dogs there Monday through Friday. Mrs. Walsh stated, no, we had said that we do not provide Monday through Friday daycare. We do not have dogs that come every morning and leave every evening. We only have one daycare client that comes once a week, maybe three or four times a month. Mr. Walsh stated the vast majority of our clients are with us three days to a few weeks at times. Mrs. Walsh stated we were doing a bit of daycare in the beginning of the business to build clientele, but that is not the majority of what we do anymore.

Opened to Public Hearing 2022-17 Use Variance

Aimee Schultz, 13131 Snowberry Lane, asked the Board to imagine this being their neighborhood and how they would feel if a boarding business was conducted, and to keep that in mind as they make their decision. This is a quiet residential area, and we are opposed to having a commercial dog boarding business on our street. There are many other areas in Town that could be zoned properly for business like this, ones possibly with bigger lots that could house more dogs. Having attended prior meetings, Ms. Shultz stated she is aware that the Board must ask if this use would endanger the health, safety, and welfare or impede the normal use of the surrounding properties. She stated she believed this use would due to the issue of increased noise. With increased people, clients, dogs, and traffic comes increased noise. We do not want to hear dogs barking or crying. Ms. Shultz stated she understood that Mrs. Walsh had said if they have a bad barker they are not invited back, but during that time we would still have to deal with the barking. We want to be able to enjoy our porches and gardens in peace and incessant barking will preclude us from enjoying those peaceful times in our yards with our family. An increased number of dogs means increased amounts of feces, which in turn means an increased amount of odor. Unfortunately this is something that needs to be addressed because the more dogs you have, the more you have to store until garbage day. Ms. Shultz stated she understood that there is only one daycare client currently, but if the variance is granted, they could increase the number of daycare clients to the maximum of what is allowed. The main way in and out of Snowberry Lane is Schillton Drive, which is crumbling at the entrance. This will attract extra people that do not live in our neighborhood, deteriorating a street that is already in poor shape. Ms. Shultz stated allowing this variance would be materially detrimental and substantially adverse to the surrounding property owners, decreasing the value of our property and making it harder to sell in the future as people will be less likely to move on to a street that houses a business with increased noise, odor, and traffic, all of which interfere with the peaceful use of the surrounding properties. Ms. Shultz asked the Board members, would you like to live next to a dog boarding business and listen to the incessant barking and smell the odors, and if not, please do not make us. She respectfully asked that the Board deny the variance.

Mark Shaw, 12990 Sunflower Avenue, stated he had prepared a written statement that was dropped off earlier, but there is an omission that needs to be corrected. In the next to last paragraph, there is a sentence that ends with “since December of 2020”. The word “presumably” should be inserted before the word “since”. The way it reads currently sounds like a statement of fact, and in fairness to Mrs. Walsh, we do not know that to be fact. Mr. Shaw stated he understood that if this variance is approved it will only effect this particular property, but if other residents in Town apply for business to be conducted out of their home, this approval has the potential to set that precedence to justify additional variances in the future.

Marlene Faulkner, 8720 Schillton Drive, stated she understood the Walsh’s love for dogs and thinks it is a great thing, however the variance should be denied. She stated when her and her husband moved to St. John, they chose Sun Meadows because it is a quiet neighborhood that sits off the beaten path. There is no place in Sun Meadows for a doggie daycare as we would like to keep it a quiet neighborhood and continue to increase our property values.

Frank Bradtke, 13000 Sunflower Avenue, stated he had also dropped off a written letter earlier in the day. He stated he and his wife both oppose the variance request. Much like Mrs. Faulkner, we moved in to a residential area with single family homes and we also signed covenants when we purchased the home. Mr. Bradtke stated he did not have a copy with him, but assumed there would be language in there restricting businesses and/or subletting or renting a home out.

Denise Snyder, 8847 Schillton Drive, stated she had also dropped off a letter to the department stating her opposition of the variance, but that there were a few more items she would like to address. Mrs. Snyder stated that Mrs. Walsh had said she notified adjacent neighbors of their business when they moved in, but she was never notified. She explained that her property is two lots over from the back of the Walsh’s yard and her deck views in to their yard. Mrs. Snyder stated from what she had read online, the Walsh’s say they have over twenty years of experience in this business at their other residence and were unaware that they needed a license, but if you have had this business for that long, you should be well aware of the license requirements. After some research into codes in Glennview where they previously lived, there are restrictions in the kennel description that all plays in to it. She stated her concern is that this business has been running for well over a year, and nothing has ever come of it. Since we received our certified letters in the mail, the business has continued to run. Mrs. Snyder questioned if they were allowed to continue the business while it was under investigation. She also stated that she had heard Attorney Decker state that residents are allowed up to five pets, but when they moved in to Sun Meadows, the limit was three. She questioned when the change was made and why, as a resident of St. John, she was not notified of the change. Mr. Lareau stated we are here under the matter of the use variance. Unfortunately we do not have the answers as to if the business was served a cease and desist and when the Ordinance changed from three to five pets. Mrs. Snyder stated she understood and wanted to go on record stating that she opposes the variance.

Janet Schindler, 12701 Goldenrod Place, stated she would not be immediately affected by the use, but has friends that are neighbors of the Walsh’s who would be affected. There were a few letters that went out, or were posted online, as well as a petition that was sent out trying to get signatures in favor of the use, which she felt was intimidation. Mrs. Schindler stated when it comes to loving dogs or pets, we all do, but this has nothing to do with the love of animals, it is just a sales pitch. This was premeditated. They bought this house and knew they were going to start a business there. There are four surrounding houses, but what if one of those owners move out and a family with a newborn moves in. Young families are moving in to this neighborhood all the time. Mrs. Schindler questioned how they would get a newborn to sleep or how this could potentially affect people that work midnights and their sleep schedule. When the Walsh’s talk about a “nice place for the dogs to live and be cared for”, it is a sales pitch. When you pull up Google, the first thing you see on the bottom is the name of a company, again, it is a sales pitch. Mrs. Schindler asked what the lot size was of their previous home because, if you have a proper business plan, you are not going to move to a place where that business does not belong. This business will cause air pollution, yard damage, and possibly home damage. The previous home could have been acres, but this one is not. It is in an R-2 zone with a smaller lot, again, poor business planning. The neighbors have been approached twice, which is intimidation. When Mrs. Walsh says this has snowballed, of course it has. The people who live around that house have a right to know what is going on. Mrs. Schindler stated this will not affect her home directly, but it will affect her friends and she opposes the request.

Michele Rey, 8830 Schillton Drive, stated she has heard what the Walsh’s say they do not do or will not do, but there is currently no guarantee. There is no contract that shows what clients or neighbors can expect from them as they run this business. Dogs can still bite or chase after people, and because they would have to protect their clients, we do not know what would happen if a dog got loose and bit someone. There are things we can do, such as go to the police if a dog is loose or bites someone, but because of the lack of guarantee on what is to be expected, our community is not the place for this business. Mrs. Rey formally entered her objection to the request.

Kevin Victor, 8875 Cardinal Court, stated from what he has heard there seems to be a bit of an experiment with which dogs will get along. It will not always be the same five dogs. Dogs one through five may get a long, but then dog nine could not get along with dog one. This is not an experiment, but a neighborhood. Currently we have a neighbor that has a dog that barks a lot and is noisy, but we understand because it is their one and only dog and they love their dog. This, however, feels like an experiment because we do not know that all of these dogs will get along with each other rather than a consistent situation. This area is a neighborhood, not a place for business.

Harry Blaundin, 12930 Sunflower Avenue, asked how many complaints have been received regarding dogs getting loose, or barking too much and does a license exist for boarding animals. Mr. Blaundin also asked if they were now applying for the variance because of complaints from the Town or citizens. He stated this will bring down the value of all of the homes if it is permitted.

Debra Duszynski, 12700 Goldenrod Place, stated she moved here fifteen years ago because it was a good area with good schools. She stated she loves animals and believes they should be treated well, but if she would have known that she was moving in next door to someone with a business like this, she would not have bought here. Residential should be kept residential because that is what people look for when they look for a place to live. Mrs. Duszynski stated she is not for this use. It would be different if you ran a business from home that consisted of phone calls and emails, but not clients and animals.

Tom Dombovic, 12931 Snowberry Lane, stated everyone before him has stated reasons for disapproval that he agrees with. He added that the word “immediate” has different meanings to different people, but that Saturday was the first time he had spoken to the Walsh’s when they came around with the petition in support of the business.

Mr. Lareau read in to record the following letters:

A letter in favor of the petition from Patrick Martin Walsh, the owner of 12930 Snowberry Lane St. John, IN. See Exhibit A.

A letter of opposition from Bryan Binole, 12991 Snowberry Lane St. John, IN. See Exhibit B.

A letter of opposition from Denise Snyder, 8847 Schillton Drive St. John, IN. See Exhibit C.

A letter of opposition from Judy Liebner, 12961 Snowberry Lane St. John, IN. See Exhibit D.

A letter of opposition from Daniel and Bonnie Zaborac, 8901 Schillton Drive St. John, IN. See Exhibit E.

A letter of opposition from David and Elizabeth Rybarczyk, 12681 Goldenrod Place St. John, IN. See Exhibit F.

A letter of opposition from Mark Shawn, 12990 Sunflower Avenue St. John, IN. See Exhibit G.

A letter of opposition from Dr. Frank and Mrs. Francine Bradtke, 13000 Sunflower Avenue St. John, IN. See Exhibit H.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-17 Use Variance

BOARD DISCUSSION/QUESTIONS/COMMENTS
Attorney Wieser stated so it is clear for the record, some of the letters that were read were from neighbors who are also in attendance tonight and spoke. We do have proof of liability insurance for the business, and since that was brought up we would like to submit it to the Board. See Exhibit I. Attorney Wieser stated he respected everyone’s opinion that spoke or wrote in, however that is all it was, an opinion. There was no evidence that what was said “could” happen actually has happened. What is interesting is that the business operated for a year with no complaints from neighbors. That is the evidence. If the business operated for a year and no one said a word, that shows that there was no dyer consequence or loss of value in their property or public welfare that was harmed in any way for that entire time. We appreciate their expression of opinion, but there was no evidence presented. He stated, in regards to Mr. Shaw’s comment, the Board makes decisions on a case by case basis. A decision in this manner sets no precedent for a future claim with the same factual background.

Mrs. Walsh stated two of the people who signed our petition in favor are what we determined as our immediate neighbors. We consider those that are immediate to be the four neighbors that abut our backyard. The size of our previous lot is the same size as what we have now. We did not go from a huge lot to a small lot when we moved. Also, we did not see any restrictive covenants when our son bought the property. Mrs. Walsh stated to address the dog injury review, the dog’s vet bills were paid by Rover completely. She had initiated the fight that happened, and she was not a small dog, but rather about fifty pounds. Unfortunately the owner was not forthcoming with us about their own dog’s aggression, and she ended up getting hurt in the end. We did take the dog to the vet and provided care as well as made sure that Rover paid the bills. In the ten years we have been in operation, we have only had that one incident.

Mr. Kennedy asked if the business has been running for a year, why is it now in front of the Board for a variance. Attorney Wieser stated after a year of operation, there was a barking complaint, which he stated he was just finding out about from his client, and Animal Control was sent to their home. After that, the Walsh’s were advised by staff that they needed a use variance. Mrs. Walsh stated we were told we needed a business license and a kennel permit. We filed a business application on a Monday, and when it was handed in, the woman said staff would get back to us. Less than a week later, Gena Lauridsen (Building and Planning Administrative Assistant) contacted us saying we needed to apply for a use variance. The initial email was confusing and we thought that we did not need one, but it was then clarified by the Town Attorney who stated we did. Mr. Kennedy asked before contact from Animal Control, did your neighbors know that you were boarding animals, or did they assume they were your five dogs. Mrs. Walsh stated the four immediate neighbors knew we were boarding dogs, along with a few other neighbors, almost immediately when we moved in.

Mr. Birlson stated two neighbors signed in favor of your petition, but the other two did not. Mrs. Walsh stated the other two have not been available. Mr. Birlson asked how many dogs the Walsh’s have boarded in the past year they have been in operation. Mrs. Walsh stated possibly fifty tops. When we initially moved here it was slow, so it took a little bit for the business to grow, and we still have had slow periods. We do not have proof that we spoke to our immediate neighbors because we spoke to them verbally. She stated someone is having an issue with the term “immediate”, and we are talking about the four people that immediately abut our backyard. The person who has an issue with this term is not abutting our backyard, she is one house down. Mrs. Walsh stated she mistakenly thought she had spoken with that person because she was speaking with a neighbor when that person and her late husband were out walking and she thought they all spoke about it at that time.

Mr. Kennedy stated the attorney brings up a good point that we take every case at its own merit. However, in the past ten years, any sort of garage we have ever allowed has always come with the condition of not being able to run a business out of it. Last October a variance for a daycare in this neighborhood received an unfavorable recommendation. The Walsh’s addressed the traffic issue that was also brought up with the previous variance request, but this Board has never allowed a business to be run in a Residential area for this type of use variance.
Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made an unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council regarding BZA 2022-17, the variance from StJMC 24-122 et seq. StJMC 24-45, including Findings of Fact and all discussion had, seconded by Mr. Sheeran and carried by voice vote with four ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

B. 2022-18 DEVELOPMENTAL VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-125 (d) (3) to construct a 12 foot by 23 foot garage addition that extends ten (10) feet past the twenty (20) foot side yard, at 8636 Fairway Drive, St. John, IN; Kevin Klebs (applicant/owner).
Kevin Klebs, 8636 Fairway Drive, stated he wishes to add on to his garage an addition of 12 feet wide by 23 feet long. In our small two block subdivision there is one home with a three car garage and three homes that have an eighteen foot door, but three to four car spaces inside. He stated he would like to point that out so that the Board realizes that there are homes in that area that have this size of garage or larger.

Mr. Sheeran stated it is my understanding that you are trying to build this garage past your building line. Mr. Klebs stated that was correct. Mr. Kennedy asked what it would be used for. Mr. Klebs stated an additional space for his car. Mr. Kennedy asked if Mr. Klebs has a shed. Mr. Klebs stated he did have a shed. Mr. Kennedy stated in the past we have required that the garage be uniform with the home. Mr. Klebs stated it would be with the same exterior look as what is there. Mr. Kennedy asked if the evergreen tree would need to be removed. Mr. Klebs stated no. Mr. Kennedy asked if the line of vision would be impacted. Sergio Mendoza, Building and Planning Director, stated that portion of the Ordinance is not applicable to this structure. Mr. Sheeran stated that Ordinance talks about landscaping and fences, but not structures. Mr. Mendoza stated that was correct. Mr. Birlson asked if the sidewalk would be removed and the driveway extended. Mr. Klebs stated that was correct that he would swing the driveway to enter the new bay. Mr. Kennedy asked how exactly this would work since the building line is set there. Mr. Mendoza stated they are asking to allow the structure to encroach over the building line by ten feet. The square footage is not an issue and there is a ten foot easement that they will be staying out of. Mr. Kennedy asked if the Building Commissioner had any questions. Mr. Mendoza stated he did not.

Open to Public Hearing 2022-18 Developmental Variance
Bill Purcell, 8649 Fairway Drive, presented a copy of his remonstrance to the Board. See Exhibit J. Mr. Purcell pointed out the proximity of Mr. Klebs home to the corner as well as what it would look like if the addition was added. He also presented pictures of the petitioner’s home in the packet showing what he believed would be an impact on the line of site for cars at the corner. Mr. Purcell stated he strongly urges the Board to deny this request based on the findings he presented.

Closed to Public Hearing 2022-18 Developmental Variance

BOARD DISCUSSION/QUESTIONS/COMMENTS
Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Klebs to address some of the questions that Mr. Purcell brought up, specifically the idea that this will be a “corner woodworking shop”. Mr. Klebs stated he is a hobbyist woodworker, but he does not make things from a production standpoint. He stated that he belongs to a woodworking club and currently does woodworking out of his garage. Mr. Kennedy asked if he sold any pieces or would have people bring things in for repair. Mr. Klebs stated no. Mr. Kennedy stated he would like that contingency to be placed if this variance is approved. Mr. Klebs stated this is not an everyday thing.

Mr. Sheeran stated he does a lot of homes in St. John and a building setback is pretty much set in stone. This home was built to stay off of the setback line, and corner lots are typically designed larger to make up for that side setback. He stated that in Illinois he went over the building setback one time by six inches and the municipality made him bring it back. Whether or not the line of site is a variance issue, it still poses a concern. Mr. Klebs stated the evergreen tree that is there is blocking part of the view and we have never had an issue. If you look at the plans, the garage will be dropped back by a few feet and will be set further back than the current home.

Mr. Birlson asked if Mr. Klebs kept his garage door open while he was woodworking. Mr. Klebs stated occasionally he will, but he is very considerate of the neighbors and the noise he is making. He stated sometimes he has to use a router, but will not use it late at night because of the noise. There are other neighbors that do the same, so we know how loud it can get. Mr. Birlson asked if the door would be closed on the addition. Mr. Klebs stated he could, but currently if it is nice out the door is open. Councilman Liaison Bryan Blazak asked if the garage was heated. Mr. Klebs stated it was. Town Manager Joseph Wiszowaty asked how the garage was heated. Mr. Klebs stated gas.

Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Sheeran what his concern was with the building setback. Mr. Sheeran stated every house you build, you are bound to building lines and setbacks. You do not go over them on new construction, which this basically is. Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Mendoza if he is aware of a case when a building was over the building line. Mr. Mendoza stated in the seventeen months he has been with St. John, a variance like this has not been requested. We have seen the Board approve a variance for when a footing was installed six inches to a foot over the building line, but that was new construction not an addition. Discussion followed.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to approve BZA 2022-18, the variance from StJMC 24-125 (d) (3), including Findings of Fact and all discussions had. The following conditions/contingencies are made part of this motion: the addition will be uniform to the exterior of the existing structure, and no business operation is to be had out of the addition. The motion was seconded by Mr. Birlson and failed by roll call vote 2-2 with no majority reached.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy
Nays: Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau

Mr. Kennedy asked if the Board could defer the petition until next month since there was not a full quorum. Attorney Decker stated he would not recommend that. The Board has considered all of the evidence and heard remonstrators. The recommendation is that the vote stands.

C. 2022-19 USE VARIANCE: from StJMC 24-192 et seq. StJMC 24-45 to allow a physical therapy/medical office use in the US 41 Overlay District, at 10033 Wicker Avenue, St. John, IN; Paul DeBoer (owner), Ivy Rehab (applicant), Kevin Buchheit (attorney).
The Facilities Manager was present for Little Steps Rehab, a sister company of Ivy Rehab, but Mr. Lareau stopped him from presenting and asked if a presentation should be allowed based on the fact that the Board had received notification that this petition canceled. Mr. Mendoza stated the agenda item did not meet the public hearing requirements and will re-advertise for next month. Mr. Kennedy asked if the item should be deferred. Attorney Decker stated it would be appropriate for the petitioner to ask that the item be deferred if they are going to re-advertise properly for next month before the petitioner is heard and a public hearing is held. The petitioner asked what criteria needed to be met. Mr. Mendoza stated the notification needed to be posted in two newspapers, and it was not posted in the Post Tribune. The attorney is working with the Post Tribune and Northwest Indiana Times to get that legal notice published again for next month. The petitioner asked that the item be deferred.

Board Action
Mr. Kennedy made a motion to defer BZA 2022-19 Use Variance, seconded by Mr. Birlson and carried by voice vote with four ayes.

Ayes: Bob Birlson, John Kennedy, Brendan Sheeran, Mark Lareau
Nays: None

NEW/OLD BUISINESS

PUBLIC COMMENT

ADJOURNMENT

With no further discussions, Mr. Lareau adjourned the meeting at 8:43 P.M.
Mark LareauBrendan Sheeran
Board of Zoning Appeals, Chairman      Board of Zoning Appeals, Secretary
07-18-2022 Board of Zoning Appeals Exhibit.pdf

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