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MinutesMINUTES Zoning Board of Adjustment CITY OF .COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS August 15, .1995 7:00 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT: Acting Chairman Sawtelle, Members Rife, Poston and Hollas and Alternate Member Blackwelder. MEMBERS ABSENT: Chairman Birdwell and Alternate Members Ochoa and Alexander. STAFFFRESENT: StaffPlannerbunn, Planning Technician Thomas and Assistant City Attorney Reynolds. AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 Ca11 to order -explanation of functions of the Board. Mr. Sawtelle called the meeting to order and explained the functions and limitations of the Board. AGENDA ITEM N0.2: Approval of minutes from the meeting of August 1, 1995. Mr. Blackwelder moved to approve the minutes from the meeting of .August 1, 1995 as written. Mr. Hollas seconded the motion which passed unopposed (5 - 0). AGENDA ITEIVI NO. 3s Consideration of a variance request to the rear setback requirements to allow a carport on lot 10, block 2 of the Woodway Village Section II Subdivision, 1818 Woodsman Drive. Staff Planner Dunn presented the. staff report and informed the. Board that the applicant recently constructed a carport located directly adjacent. to the existing alley. The carport placement is thereby considered an encroachment into the rear. setback, and the. applicant is requesting a variance of 20'. In essence, the applicant is requesting that non-enclosed carports not be required to meet rear setbacks. However, the.Zoning .Ordinance states directly that such setbacks shall apply to carports. A change in this standard would require an ordinance amendment. In general, staff has not identified specific conditions or hardships. unique to this -site other than financial hardship-due to the possible removal of the existing structure:. The:only alternative to the variance is an ordinance amendment which would;have to be .considered by the City.. Council.. There is no room on the site to relocate the carport without a variance. The applicant .does not wish to relocate the carport closer to the duplex because it will cover the rear yard-area. _The applicant has mentioned that other carport currently exist. adjacent to alleys in 'the same .neighborhood. Staff has identified three such carports: along an alley in .block 1 of Woodway Village. At this time, staff has not been able to locate building permits on these three carports. One. of the carports was built in the last two years and a building permit was not issued: for that lot. The Building..Official is prepared to go mto code enforcement on the three existing carports. Twelve surrounding property. owners were notified ofthe-variance request with one call in opposition to the request. Mr. Sawtelle opened the public hearing. Applicant Carl M. Fearcy, 7r. of 2908 Cherry Creek Circle in Bryan approached the Board and was sworn in by Mr. Sawtelle.. He stated that he and his contractor came to the City and purchased a Zoning .Ordinance and City Code book and read them both thoroughly before constructing the carport. Mr. Pearcy stated that in the Zoning Ordinance,. portable structures ,are allowed to violate the -rear setback requirement and do :not require. a building permit. Mr. Pearcy stated that the carport was designed so that it would be portable and disassembled in a few hours. However, there is not a definition of a portable structure in either code book. Mr. Pearcy stated that he did not know that a building permit was required until an inspector came by and asked them to stop working on the carport until the necessary permits were issued. After talking to the Building Official, it was determined that there was an amendment to the code book that defines a portable structure and places size limitations. of 100 square feet or less.: Mr. Pearcy informed the Board that he owns four duplexes in the same general area and he is trying to provide upscale rental housing for the community. Mr. Pearcy concluded that with regard to the intent of the Zoning Ordinance,. the carport meets the overall intent of controlling. population density and access to light and air. Contractor Gerald Townsend of 902 Welsh in College Station approached the Board and was sworn in by Mr. Sawtelle. He stated that the proposed carport is made out of apre-engineered metal system and is guaranteed for twenty years. Mr. Townsend stated that Mr. Pearcy. has invested a lot of money mto the. existing carport and that it will enhance the existing residence. Mr. Sawtelle closed the public hearing. Mr. Rife stated that in terms of the intent of the ordinance, the proposed carport is in compliance; however, there is no special condition in this .particular case. He stated that he would like to explore a possible :amendment to the ordinance. The existing. alley will always be a buffer between the duplexes in that area. Mr. Hollas stated that he is sympathetic to the applicant and would like to congratulate him on the quality of the duplex.. However, the Zoning Board cannot grant the applicant any relief other than recommend an ordinance amendment. Mr. Hollas moved to deny. a variance from section 15, ordinance number 1:638 to .the minimum setback requirements from the-terms of this ordinance as it will be contrary to the .public interest due. to the lack. of any special conditions,. and because a strict enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would not. xesult in .unnecessary hardship, to this .applicant, and such that the spirit of this ordinance shall be observed and substantial justice done. Mr. Rife seconded the motion which passed unopposed (5 - 0). Mr. Hollas moved to request that the. City. Council consider an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to permit the construction of carports within the rear setback area in cases similar to the case presented tonight .with a rear alley.. Mr. Hollas stated that he would like to bring this issue to Council's attention: so that they can determine the necessary course of action. The City Council can direct staff to research this issue, prepare an ordinance.: amendment or whatever they determine is appropriate. Mr. Blackwelder seconded the motion which passed unopposed (5 - 0). AGENDA ITEM N0. 4: Other,business. There was no other business:. AGENDA ITEM NO. 5: Adjourn, Mr. Blackwelder moved to adjourn. the. meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Ms. Poston seconded the motion which passed unopposed (5 - 0). APPROVED:: Chairman, Dick Birdwell ATTEST: Planning Technician, Natalie Thomas ZBA Minutes August IS, X995 Page 2 of 2 ChairmanBirdwell opened. the public hearing. Applicant. Jim Kolkhorst of 1507 Jackson Street in Brenham. approached the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Birdwell. He informed the Board that the $20,000 per year figure was a rough estimate based on the number. of cars that pass. through that .intersection and losing an average of five cars per day. The existing sign is a valuable piece of advertisement for the convenience store and it is difficult to put a dollar amount_ on that signage. Mr. Kolkhorst stated that the alternative ;proposed by staff that places the sign in an existing island is not viable because the sign is located closer to the stare.. There is also. avow of trees located along the adjacent bank property that would block the. sgnfrom. University and..thepump islands would block the .sign from Texas Avenue. James Kolkhorst of Route 1, Washington, Texas approached .the Board and was sworn in by :Chairman Birdwelh He stated .that there is no way that the Highway Department will be able to compensate them for the loss of the subject sign.: 1VIr. Kolkhorst explained. that. it is almost impossible to place a value on the existing sign and how it will :impact the business... Chairman. Birdwell closed the public hearing. Mr. Rife stated than heunderstands the applicant's concerns with respect to losing the use of the existing sign; however, in this particular. case, there are several alternatives available that. would riot require a variance. Mr. Rife also expressed concern of the. hardship in this case being financial in nature. Senior Planner Kuenzel informed the. Board that the applicant will need a variance to be allowed the use of a secondfreestanding sign.: The only reason the request is beforethe Board is because the nature of the variance is changing. The Board should examine the reasonableness of the request and not solely the: financial hardship. Mr. Ochoa stated that if a low profile sign was installed so that it is visible from University Drive, the intent and' spirit of the ordinance could be met..: Mr. Hollas moved to deny the sign variance request to the minimum sign setback requirements from the terms of this ordinance as it wily be contrary to the .public interest due to the lack of any special conditions, and because a strict enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would not result in unnecessary hardship. to this applicant, and such that the spirit of this ordinance shall be observed and substantial justice done.' Mr. Rife seconded the motion which carried (3 - 2). Senior Planner Kuenzel informed. the Board that if they intend to allow the applicant to relocate the existing sign but meet .the restrictions outlined in Table 2, then a variance would need to be granted to allow the second sign. As the motion stands,: the. applicant cannot relocate the existing sign. Mr. Rife moved to allow the. applicant to relocate the second freestanding fuel price sign subject to the requirements outlined id the sign regulations of the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Ochoa seconded the motion which passed unopposed (5 - 0). AGENDA ITEM NO. 8: Consideration of a setback variance request for several lots in the Eastmark Phase II Subdivision located at 812, 814 and 816 Camellia and 807, 815, 817 and 825 Azalea to allow the construction of a -new home. Senior Planner Kuenzel presented .the staff report for a .variance request to .allow for the construction. of seven single family homes with garages built 15' :away .from :the .rear access easement. The setback required is 20' for a garage as measured from the rear access boundary (in these oases, the total setback from the rear property line would be 30'). The applicant is proposing a 15' setback from the rear access boundary (in these cases, the total setback will be 25'. from the rear property line if approved). ZBA Minutes Ju»e 20, 1995 Page S of 8 Senior Planner Kuenzel stated that the.:. request is for permission to measure the setbacks from the actual pavement edge_of the rear alley rather than the platted boundary. The requirement that the .rear setback. be measured from the alley rather than the .rear property. line. has.. not been well enforced in this particular subdivision. Due to oversight on the part of both the City and builders, .many of the other houses in this are encroach into. the required setback. This oversight has in fact given other properties in the area more buildable area. than they should have. In the past, the Zoning Board has granted variances in areas where public alleys have been platted and in some cases are no longer in .use. Thirty-six surrounding property. owners were notified with two inquiries... Chairman Birdwell opened the public hearing. John Craig of 818 Camellia approached the Board and "was sworn in-by Chairman Birdwell. He stated that he is not opposed to the variance request as long as a minimum parking pad of 20' in length.. is provided. Mr. Craig. stated that he is concerned with providing a smaller parking area that will allow cars or trucks. to extend into the driving aisle of the alley. Chairman Birdwell closed the public. hearing. He stated that'. he thinks the applicant's request is appropriate; however,: he does not think that this situation should be .addressed by granting blanket vanances. The City Council should consider an ordinance amendment. in this particular case that would allow the, garages to be built either 20' off of the pavement or 30' off of the property line. Mr. Rife stated that he had some questions for the applicant and seeing that no one is present to represent the applicant, he moved to deny the variance 'request to the minimum setback requirements from the terms of Ordinance Number 163 8, as it .will be contrary to .the public. interest due to the lack of any special conditions,. and because a strict enforcement. of the .provisions of the ordinance would notresult in unnecessary ..hardship to this applicant, and such that the spirit of this ordinance shall `be observed and substantial justice done. Mr. Hollas seconded the .motion which passed unopposed (5 - 0). Chairman Birdwell requested that. staff consider the ordinance amendment and present .the :necessary-information to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City.Council. Restated that while the Board denied the variance request, the request is reasonable. and should be considered further by the Commission and Council. However, .this issue should be addressed in the form of an ordinance amendment and not blanket variances. AGENDA ITEM NO.9 Consideration of a sign variance request to enlarge the .existing marquee sign at 1055 Texas Avenue South, the ITS Tours and Travel shopping center. Senior Planner Kuenzel presented the staff report and .informed the Board that the variance request is in .response to the Texas Avenue. widening. project. The sign :area. allowed with the existing Texas Avenue curb location is 210 square feet; however, with the widening project, only 106 square feet is allowed. The existing sign is 103 square feet and the client is requesting a sign area of 124 square feet for a total variance if 18 square feet or 17%. Due to the age of the site, it is non conforming in terms of parking and landscaping. The current. sign is in compliance under both the existing location of the curb on Texas Avenue as well as the new location:. However, the additional taking of the front of the property for the widening will lessen the allowable area that the sign could be by 104 square feet. The hardship in this case is inherited in that the State has actually taken the front of the property by eminent domain: The'only alternative to the: variance is to relocate the existing sign back 4'. There are other; signs in the City that have been .granted variances due. to the fact that: they were erected under past ordinances and are located. within an area where 'other grandfathered higher and larger signs are or where variances have been granted on surrounding properties.- Fifteen surrounding property owners were notified with one call from the owner of the adjacent flower shop who expressed concern with blocking their existing freestanding sign. ZBA Minutes: June 20,.1995 Page 6 of 8 L~ ,, Commissioner Hall moved. to amend the motion to approve the conditional use permit to restrict the night club to 1.800 watts. If at any time. this wattage is exceeded, the conditional use permit should be revoked. Commissioner Gribou accepted the amendment. The motion to approve the conditional use permit with all conditions as amended passed (4 - 2); Commissioners Smith .and Lightfoot voted in opposition to the motion. AGENDA ITEM NO. S: Discussion of a possible ordinance amendment pertaining to rear setback requirements and their relation to alleys and access easements. (95-811) Senior Planner Kuenzel informed the Commission that at a recent Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, the Board heard a request for a rear setback. request for garages to be placed on several single family lots in the Eastmark Subdivision. The Board gave direction for .staff to discuss the .possibility of an ordinance amendment with the appropriate decision-making bodies. The case involved several lots that abut a 30' .access easement, only 20' of which is paved. The rear lot lines run down the center of the easement, and places half of the easement and half of the paved section onto each individual lot. The rear yards of the. lots therefore include a 15' access easement with a 10' paved section. The Zoning Ordinance requires that the 20' rear setback be measured from the nearest boundary of an easement, not from the property line. On these lots, therefore, .the setback is requiredto be the 15' easement plus the 20' setback for. a total setback. of 35'. The request was to be allowed to measure the required rear setback from the actual paved section and not the platted. easement line. Due to the verbiage of the ordinance, staff is required to measure from the: platted easement. The intent of the. requirement. is to maintain a clearance of at least 20' from a garage to the easement so that there is'room for a vehicle to pull off of the easement so that the traveled portion of the .easement is not blocked. A rewording of the ordinance to require that the setback (i.e. clearance to the garage) be measured from the paved section and not the platted easement would meet the intent of the ordinance and be more in line with the treatment of utility easements. The Zoning Board expressed no concern with such an ordinance change and found it to be reasonable.. A more recent Board case related to rear alleys, where the property line is not in the center of the traveled portion,. but ...rather on the edge of the alley. The case involved a request. for carports to extend all the way to the property line, for total. of a zero setback. The Board also referred the case to legislative bodies, due to the fact that such an allowance would involve an ordinance amendment rather than an individual variance based on special circumstances. Commissioner Gribou expressed concern that the proposed change in measuring the rear setback distance could create ,problems in the future.. The .front. and side setbacks are measured. from. the property line and there. could. be variances `in every situation. Commissioner Gribou stated that his biggest problem is that the City is reacting to a mistake or trying to correct something by easing up on the ordinance requirements. Commissioner Lightfoot stated that. in the staff report, it sounds like there are about four carports that are the impetus for this ordinance amendment. He expressed concern of the aesthetics :and the long term. effects of the property with decreased setback. requirements. Commissioner Lane stated that 20' is not much room and that vehicles will have to pull up close to the structure to not extend out into the alley.. The extra 5' serves as a nice buffer for the development. P & Z Minutes September 7, 1885 Page S of 8 ~, Commissioner Hall stated that there is a process currently. in place to handle variance requests in these situations. Senior Planner Kuenzel stated that in the <current process, the applicant must show specific hardships and special conditions that are unique to the property in order to justify a variance. A rear alley is a general condition in these subdivisions `and not a unique or special,condition to a particular lot: In both variance cases, the requests. were denied .due to lack of any special conditions. A special condition or hardship must be a physical condition of the :property. The whole .idea of granting a variance is to place a disadvantaged lot on the same level as their .neighbor; .not granting special privileges, but. putting everyone on the same level. Applicant of a past Zoning Board variance request, .Carl Pearcy, approached the Commission and explained that his request was to build a carport to the rear property line with no setback. There is currently an alley that -runs along the rear of the duplexes in the Woodsman area in which cars park just off the alley. Mr. Pearcy stated that he proposed to place a nice carport over the existing cars to improve the area and provide .more upscale rental. housing; however, he was not able to construct. a carport because it violated the setback -requirements. He expressed concern that if the cars are allowed to be parked inthe rear with. no setback, then a carport should be allowed in the same area. Because alleys are utilized throughout .the subdivision, it was not determined. to be a special condition and the variance- request was denied.. Mr: Pearcy requested that: in multi-family developments, that a structurally sound carport be allowed to protect the existing vehicles, when rear parking already exists. Commissioner Lightfoot stated that the problem is not whether or not there are carports, it is where they are placed on the lot. Senior Planner Kuenzel tated that this is true; however, in the Woodsman instance, the sites are already developed and the only place to put .carports is in the rear setback area. Commissioner Gribou expressed concern that the Commission is .reacting to an exception and not the general rule.. If carports are allowed to be constructed to the. rear setback line, then next it may be garages and maybe porches, soon creating a domino effect. Commissioner Smthstated that he is concerned with the sanitationtrucks that .access the existing. alleys in that. placing carports in the rear setback area may create operational problems. The Commission reached a consensus to not change the .current ordinance requirements in either situation. Placing carports in the rear setback area is even more intense than changing the way rear setback requirements are. measured. The Commission agreed that the proposed ordinance amendments are over reacting to a localized problem. Commissioner Lane informed Mr. Pearcy that there does seem to be some logic for his proposal; however, the ramifications of such an ordinance amendment must be explored fully. He suggested that Mr. Pearcy explore the possibility further and approach staff to help examine the ramifications and long term effects such an amendment would have on the city as a whole. P & Z Minutes September 7, 1885 Page 6 of 8