Loading...
Minutes MINUTES • Zoning Board of Adjustment September 2, 2003 CITY OF COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS 6:00 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Leslie Hill, Rodger Lewis, John Richards, Ward Wells & Graham Sheffy. Alternate John Fedora was in the audience. MEMBERS ABSENT: Alternate Jay Goss (not needed). STAFF PRESENT: Staff Assistant Deborah Grace, Staff Planners' Jennifer Reeves, Jennifer Prochazka, & Molly Hitchcock, Planning Intern Lauren Harrell, Building Official Lance Simms, City Attorney Carla Robinson, & Action Center Representative Regina Kelly AGENDA ITEM NO. 1: Call to order — Explanation of functions of the Board. Chairman Hill called the meeting to order. AGENDA ITEM NO. 2: Consideration, discussion and possible action of absence requests. No requests were received. AGENDA ITEM NO. 3: Consideration, discussion and possible action on approval of meeting minutes from June 3, 2003. Mr. Lewis made the motion to approve the minutes. Mr. Wells seconded the motion, which passed unopposed (5 -0). AGENDA ITEM NO. 4: Public hearing, presentation and possible action on a variance at 4418 Pickering Place, lot 28, block 1, Castlegate Section 4 Phase 2. Applicant is Charles Thomas. (03 -201). Staff Planner Jennifer Reeves stepped before the Board and presented the staff report. Ms. Reeves told the Board that the applicant is seeking the variance to legitimize a setback error made during construction. A side setback of 5 -feet is required for the PDD -H Standards for Section 4 of Castlegate Subdivision. A side setback of 3.16 —feet is requested. This case involves an error made by the builder in establishing the 5 -foot side setback. The result is an encroachment that reaches 3.16 feet from the property line to the closest part of the home: thus the applicant is requesting a side setback variance of 1.84 -feet. This would be a 37% variance to the ordinance. ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 1 of 7 The applicant has stated as a special condition that "the builder at 4416 Pickering Place mistakenly used the wrong survey pin for his property corner on the front left corner and it was the only visible pin shown at the time ". The applicant states as a hardship that "all indications that the survey pin for the right front property pin was correct, #1 because of the lot 27 fence being perfectly in line from the back left property pin and the visible front left, and #2 the slab was 5 -foot from the same line, # 3 sprinkler heads all set on that same line, #4 grass sod following the same line, therefore it was good indication that the pin in question was the correct right front property pin ". Ms. Reeves stated that the Board in the past has expressed some frustration to staff about receiving this type variance case. Ms. Reeves ended by telling the Board that Lance Simms the Building Official has taken some steps to help prevent these mistakes from happening. Mr. Hill asked Mr. Simms how much separation should there be between structures for safety reasons and fire codes. Mr. Simms replied that from a building code standpoint once you get closer than 3 -feet from the property line a one -hour firewall is required. Any overhang within 3 -feet of the property line has to have a fire rating. In this situation where there is l0 -feet between the structures it would not be viewed as a violation. Chairman Hill opened the public hearing for those wanting to speak in favor of the request. Charles Thomas, the applicant, stepped before the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Hill. Mr. Thomas spoke in favor of the variance. He explained that when the water meter was installed for the home next door evidently the pin for his property was scooped out and not replaced. He used the front right pin shown on his survey. He felt that since everything lined up on the home that was built 17 months earlier he had all indications that everything would line up for his property with the pin that was there. Chairman Hill asked at what point was a survey involved. Mr. Thomas stated a surveyor was involved at the time of closing and that is when he saw a new survey pin. The new pin being for his property. Mr. Richards told Mr. Thomas with his history of coming before the Board he felt that if a surveyor had come out in the beginning he would not have had to come before Board. With no one else stepping forward to speak in favor or opposition of the variance Chairman Hill closed the public hearing. Lance Simms stepped back before the Board. Mr. Simms stated that in April changes were made in effort to improve the accuracy for establishing correct setbacks. A policy was established to require string lines on the building setback lines and/or easements as appropriate. ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 2 of 7 Mr. Siriims ended by saying for communication purposes he posted the policy change at the front building counter, it was in the building newsletter, it was sent to the Homebuilders Association for insertion in their newsletter and a comment was added to the permit which the builder signs. Mr. Lewis made the motion to authorize a variance to the minimum setback from the terms of this ordinance as it will not be contrary to the public interest, due to the following special conditions: correct property corner pin was not present at time the slab was laid out; . - : . • . . • - .. - - - - • • - - • • - - . • :. - - . • - -; and because a strict enforcement • of the provisions of the ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship to this applicant being: completed house can not be sold without a variance; and such that the spirit of this ordinance shall be observed and substantial justice done subject to the following limitations: 1.84 feet encroachment to be allowed. Mr. Sheffy seconded the motion. Mr. Richards stated he had problems with the special conditions listed. Mr. Lewis stated that it is very unusual for the problems with the pin to exist on a lot. Mr. Wells added that it is unfortunate what happened. If the first pin were located one would have looked for the second pin because it was on the survey. Then it would have been recognized that the second pin could not be found and therefore you would question the location of the first pin. Mr. Wells added that the only reason he is going to support this variance is because the 10 -foot distance between the two slabs exist and therefore there is no issue from a fire safety stand point. He stated he would react differently if the adjacent house were built on the lot line and thus not having the amount of space between the two houses. Chairman Hill stated the special condition "the construction of the house and fence on the adjoining lot was done based on the wrong survey pin" has nothing to do with the property in question. Chairman Hill stated that he did not feel like the builder on the adjoining property setting his slab up on the wrong line excuses another builder. Chairman Hill made the motion to remove the sentence from the special condition. Mr. Lewis seconded the amendment. The Board voted (5 -0) to amend the motion. Chairman Hill stated that the motion is incomplete. It does not specify the amount of the variance to be allowed. Chairman Hill moved to amend the motion to include under limitations "1.84 -foot encroachment to be allowed" Mr.Wells seconded the amendment. The Board voted (5 -0) to amend the motion. Chairman Hill stated that the hardship sounds financial. Mr. Lewis stated it is one that has been used many times before and that is the roadblock. ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 3 of 7 Chairman Hill called for the vote. The Board voted (4 -1). Mr. Richards voting in opposition to the variance. Chairman Hill stated that even though the vote was 4 -1 he voted for the motion with a lot of reservations. Chairman Hill asked Mr. Thomas to do whatever it takes to prevent this from happening again. AGENDA ITEM NO. 5: Public hearing, presentation, discussion and possible action on an appeal of an interpretation for Section 5.8.A.2 of the Unified Development Ordinance concerning the allowed height for a free - standing sign in the Overlay District. The applicant is Thomas Kirkland. (03 -01). Jennifer Prochazka, Staff Planner stepped before the Board and presented the staff report. Ms. Prochazka stated that Section 5.8.A.2 of the UDO reads: "Freestanding signs shall be limited to the restrictions of Section 7.4, Signs, but shall not exceed the height of the building ". It is the interpretation of the Administrator that in the case that there is more than one building height within the building plot, as is determined for the purposes of signage, the height of the freestanding sign shall be no taller than the height of the building that is located most near to the sign. It is the Administrator's opinion that this interpretation is consistent with the intent of the Overlay District and its restrictions. The purpose statement for the Overlay District reads: "This district is established to enhance the image of the gateways and key entry points, major corridors, and other areas of concern, as determined by the City Council, by maintaining a sense of openness and continuity." The Administrator believes that in order to achieve continuity between building height and sign height within the Overlay District, the sign must be limited to the height of the closest building. Chairman Hill opened the public hearing those wanting to speak in favor of ruling not to uphold the decision or interpretation made by the Administrator. Thomas Kirkland, the applicant, stepped before the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Hill. Mr. Kirkland spoke in favor of over ruling the interpretation. He stated from a marketing standpoint most developers along University Drive are going to want their signage somewhere on the property where it is going to be most visible. If the interpretation is that the sign can only be as tall as the building closest to the sign, then the tallest building will be developed to the sign. Ron Fulton, General Manager for Quality Suites, stepped before the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Hill. Mr. Fulton spoke in favor of the request. Mr. Fulton stated that the ordinance would force developers to rotate structures on the property to get the tallest part of the building up front. With no one else stepping forward to speak in favor in opposition, Chairman Hill closed the public hearing. Mr. Wells made the motion to uphold the decision or interpretation made by the Zoning Official in The enforcement of Section 5.8.A.2 of this ordinance, as the decision or interpretation meets the spirit of this ordinance and substantial justice was done. Mr. Richards seconded the motion. Mr. Wells stated that he believes that the interpretation does in fact meet the overall intent of the ordinance. ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 4 of 7 Mr. Lewis stated that even if the interpretation is upheld there is still the opportunity for property owners to ask for a variance. Chairman Hill stated that he fully supports upholding the decision. He feels that the Overlay District has stronger restrictions and is planned with aesthetics in mind. Chairman Hill called for the vote. The Board voted (5 -0) to uphold the decision of the Zoning Official. AGENDA ITEM NO. 6: Public hearing, presentation, discussion and possible action on a variance for 1010Univeristy Drive East, lots 3 A &B, One Lincoln Place. The applicant is Thomas Kirkland. (03 -194) Lauren Harrell, Planning Intern stepped before the Board and presented the staff report. Ms. Harrell told the Board that the applicant is requesting the variance to allow the use of a taller freestanding sign than is allowed by ordinance. The applicant would like to erect an approximately 144 square -foot sign, 70 feet from the curb at a height of 32 feet for McAlister's Deli and Quality Suites. This new sign will replace the existing pylon sign that is approximately 28.5 feet tall. There are currently two structures located on this building plot (as determined for the purpose of signage), a 1 -story restaurant along University Drive and a 3 -story hotel located on a lot with no frontage. According to Section 5.8 of the UDO, Overlay Districts, the height of the sign cannot exceed the height of the building. Because of the proximity of the new sign to the 1 -story restaurant, the sign height cannot exceed the height of the restaurant, which is 21 feet. Therefore, the applicant is requesting an 11 -foot variance to this height requirement. As a special condition, the applicant states: "Pursuant to the existing sign standards, absent the height restrictions in 5.8 for the Overlay District, the sign in question could be 35 feet. If there were only the hotel on this site, even given the restrictions of 5.8, the sign could be 35 feet tall. It is only because there are 2 buildings on this site that the lower 1 story height restriction comes into question. Even at that, the Standards do not seem to require the height restriction to be the lower of the 2 buildings. As a Hardship the applicant states: "There are currently 2 buildings on this plat, with a 1 -story restaurant in the front and a 3 -story hotel in the back. The standards are not clear as to which building height the sign must not exceed. To require the sign to be no higher than the 1 -story restaurant would not allow both businesses' sign to be seen by the driving public on University Drive. Such a situation would be extremely detrimental to the hotel's business, which relies greatly on drop -in traffic for its overnight guests." The applicant states the following as an alternative: "That a possible viable option might be to split the difference and have the sign height restricted to the average height of the two buildings, but this alternative does not seem to be contemplated by 5.8, nor is it the best solution for the two going concerns." Staff sees several other alternatives for the applicant other than a variance. The applicant could place the sign further back on the site and closer to The Quality Suites hotel for the increased height. He can also replace the existing sign face with the logos of both establishments (without structurally altering the sign or increasing the square footage) and keep the existing sign height and location. Chairman Hill opened the public hearing for those wanting to speak in favor of the request. ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 5 of 7 Thomas Kirkland, the applicant stepped before the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Hill. Mr. Kirkland spoke in favor of the variance and explained to the Board that the current sign is hard to see as you travel down University Drive. Mr. Kirkland stated that if the proposed sign were placed on the back of the lot it would not give the motorist any indication that is the place to turn into for the hotel or the restaurant. The Board and staff had discussions concerning the Overlay District and the ordinance. Mr. Lewis asked Mr. Kirkland if the variance is not granted what will happen. Mr. Kirkland responded that in all honesty that will not be his call but he would imagine that Quality Suites would not have a sign. Ron Fulton, General Manager of Quality Suites, stepped before the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Hill. Mr. Fulton spoke in favor of the request and said that both businesses need a sign. Barry Tatum, General Manager of McAlister's Deli stepped before the Board and was sworn in by Chairman Hill. Mr. Tatum spoke in favor of the variance. He told the Board that he has heard from his customers that they did not know the restaurant was there because they are hard to see. Mr. Sheffy made the motion to authorize a variance to the sign regulations from the terms of this ordinance as it will not be contrary to the public interest due to the following unique special conditions not generally found within the City: as it will not aesthetically be a detriment to the look and the basic needs of the ordinance; and because a strict enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in substantial hardship to this applicant being: there is a need for advertisement of both businesses; and such that the spirit and intent of this ordinance shall be preserved and the general interests of the public and applicant served, subject to the following limitations: a variance of 11-feet. Mr. Lewis seconded the motion. Mr. Richards stated that he is in favor of the variance because it is important that we protect our ordinances, businesses and our city. Mr. Richards ended by saying that he did not feel this was an unusual request. Mr. Lewis stated that he did feel there were special conditions in this case. Mr. Lewis added that he drove by the property and he did find the sign hard to see driving from campus. If the sign is moved back farther than it presently is they are going to need the height. Mr. Lewis stated that he feels that it would be in the public interest for a sign to be seen for motorist traveling to find the hotel. He ended by saying that he would be in favor of the variance. Chairman Hill stated that he disagreed that the hotel and restaurant are hard to see. He added that he was aware when the hotel and restaurant was being constructed and aware once they were opened. He did not feel that the visibility of the buildings is a big issue. Chairman Hill stated that he is reluctant to mess with what the city has put in place in the entry corridor. Signage in the Overlay District is a very big issue. As an alternative the existing sign is grandfathered and if the variance is not granted they still have a sign. As a practical approach they need to utilize the existing sign. Mr. Richards stated that he did not feel the existing ordinance was written with this problem in mind. ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 6 of 7 Mr. Wells stated that as a practical issue University Drive is a busy street and you better be watching the street and not looking for tall signs. Mr. Wells added that he thought the Quality Suites sign is huge and then he recognized that it was marking the street to turn on to in order to make your way to the hotel. The critical functional thing from Quality Suites point of view is to know where to turn to get to them. Mr. Wells ended by saying that the existing sign does what its intended to do and he would be against granting the variance. There were continued discussions among the Board Members. Chairman Hill called for the vote. The Board voted (3 -2). The motion failed. Chairman Hill & Mr. Wells voting against the variance. AGENDA ITEM NO. 7: Consideration and discussion of future agenda items. Staff Assistant Grace told the Board that the Rules and Procedures needed to be reviewed and updated and staff would present the updates at the next meeting. AGENDA ITEM NO. 8: Adjourn Chairman Hill called the meeting adjourned. APP OVED: - (", Leslie Hill, Chairman ATTEST: �_ • is _ .f 'a • 1 eborah Grace, St • Ass ant ZBA Minutes September 2, 2003 Page 7 of 7