City of Lyndhurst, Ohio Board of Zoning Appeals
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August 13, 2012: Board of Zoning Appeals
AGENDA:

 
To meet in Regular Session on Monday, August 13, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., in the Council Chamber of the Lyndhurst Municipal Center, 5301 Mayfield Road.
 
Members: Kimberly Colich, Chair; David Bader, Frank Koss, Frank Novak, Russell Warren
 
Others: Paul Murphy, Director of Law; Larry Puskas, Building Inspector; Joe Mandato, Housing Inspector; Clarice J. White, Acting Secretary
 
Minutes:
 
Approve minutes of the Regular Meeting held April 9, 2012.
 
Case No. 2012-02:
 
Request of Deborah Hirshkorn of 5148 Bridgewater Road, for a variance from the front yard setback requirements, as defined in Chapter 1160.05 (a) of the Planning and Zoning Code. She is seeking to construct a front porch that will encroach eighteen (18) feet into the forty (40) foot setback as defined for Bridgewater Road.
 
Case No. 2012-03:
 
Request of Christine A. Curtis and Donald W. Haugh of 1799 Brainard Road for a variance from Chapters 1160.03, Schedule of Accessory Buildings, Uses and Structures (a)(9) Recreational Facilities, of the Planning and Zoning Code, to permit the use of a forty (40) foot by twenty-seven (27) foot area for the construction of a garden railroad. The variance requested would be for the use and also location as setback requirements are not listed for this specific use.
 
August 13, 2012: Board of Zoning Appeals
MINUTES:

 
The Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of Lyndhurst met in Regular Session on Monday, August 13, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber of the Lyndhurst Municipal Center, 5301 Mayfield Road.
 
Members Present: Frank Koss, Frank Novak, Russell Warren
 
Members Absent: Kimberly Colich, David Bader
 
Others Present: Paul Murphy, Director of Law; Joe Mandato, Housing Inspector; Clarice J. White, Acting Secretary
 
It was moved by Mr. Koss, seconded by Mr. Warren that the minutes of the Regular Meeting held April 9, 2012, copies of which were mailed to all members, be dispensed with and said minutes stand approved as circulated.
 
The question was put to a voice vote and passed unanimously.
 
Motion carried.
 
At this time, Mr. Murphy gave an overview of proceedings tonight. He explained that there are five members on the Board of Zoning Appeals, but only three are present this evening. He further explained that all three Board members present would have to vote affirmatively for a requested case to be recommended to Council for approval, he then asked the applicants if they would like to wait to present their cases to a full Board. The responses from both applicants were no, they would like to have their case heard tonight.
 
Case No. 2012-2
 
Request of Deborah Hirshkorn of 5148 Bridgewater Road, for a variance from the front yard setback requirements, as defined in Chapter 1160.05 (a) of the Planning and Zoning Code. She is seeking to construct a front porch that will encroach eighteen (18) feet into the forty (40) foot setback as defined for Bridgewater Road.
 
Grounds for appeal were read by Mr. Warren; Chapter 1160.05 (a) of the Planning and Zoning Code was read by Mr. Murphy.
 
Letters of invitation were sent to all pertinent property owners, a copy of which is made part of the permanent file.
 
Mr. Mandato stated no letters were received in answer to the notification sent by the Building Department.
 
The following witnesses signed the register and were sworn in by Mr. Murphy:
 
Deborah Hirschkorn, 5148 Bridgewater
Mark Smith, 35241 Sullivan Dr., North Ridgeville OH 44039
Ralph Jacobson, 1833 Bremerton Road
 
Mr. Jacobson, 1833 Bremerton, fiancée of the applicant, testified that the existing house already encroaches about ten (10) feet into the front setback. He then presented pictures on his cell phone, of the existing porch, which is in disrepair. He testified that the existing porch which is too small, will be replaced with the proposed porch and will be at the same height, but with additional width.
 
Mr. Mark Smith, 35241 Sullivan Dr., testified that the proposed porch will extend two more feet than the existing porch, and be wider. He then testified that it will be a vast improvement from what is existing, and the proposed porch will not have a roof.
 
Mr. Koss stated that the existing step area is actually considered a stoop. He also stated that some of the houses on Bridgewater that have porches are set further back, and that he is not in favor of granting the variance due to the fact that if the variance is granted, the front setback will be reduced to twenty-two (22) feet.
 
Ms. Hirschkorn, appellant, testified that when she moved in, the existing front steps were uneven, and will have to be redone anyway.
 
In answer to Mr. Koss's question, Ms. Hirschkorn testified that when she purchased the house, a housing inspection was conducted, but she was never told about the front steps.
 
Mr. Smith testified that he would compromise to have the proposed porch erected from the front door and continue across the front of the house to the driveway, and construct the steps at the driveway, instead of having the proposed porch encroach more into the front setback.
 
Mr. Jacobson testified that the property in question is on a curve.
 
Mr. Mandato stated that the Building Department would require the proposed structure to match the house.
 
In answer to Mr. Warren's question, regarding the actual setback of the houses on Bridgewater, Councilman Ward stated that the homes on Bridgewater are existing, non-conforming in a ten thousand (10,000) square foot zoning district; none of the homes are at a forty (40) foot front setback. He then stated the compromised proposal would only encroach three (3) feet additionally than presently; if the appellant maintained the present width of the proposed porch, but lengthened it to the driveway, there would be no further encroachment.
 
In answer to Mr. Warren's question, Mr. Murphy stated that according to the code, any change in a non-conforming use has to be in the direction of conformity.
 
Mr. Smith testified that with the compromised proposal, the porch would be six (6) by sixteen (16) feet.
 
Mr. Murphy explained that the Board also has to take into consideration how the proposal would look in relationship to the house.
 
F I N D I N G S
 
The Board finds:
  • All homes in the area are existing, non-conforming use in regards to the forty (40) foot setback.
  • Based on the time the house was built, the house and its porch would have conformed to the prior setback rule.
  • The lot and the house are on the curvature of the street.

  •  
    It was moved by Mr. Koss, seconded by Mr. Novak that recommendation be made to Council to grant the amended variance request to Ms. Deborah Hirschkorn of 5148 Bridgewater Road, for a six (6) by sixteen (16) foot porch, based on the above findings and following condition:
     
  • The ultimate structure is subject to the approval of the Building Department, as to aesthetics.

  •  
    The question was put to a voice vote and passed unanimously.
     
    Motion carried.
     
    Case No. 2012-03
     
    Request of Christine A. Curtis and Donald W. Haugh of 1799 Brainard Road for a variance from Chapters 1160.03, Schedule of Accessory Buildings, Uses and Structures (a)(9) Recreational Facilities, of the Planning and Zoning Code, to permit the use of a forty (40) foot by twenty-seven (27) foot area for the construction of a garden railroad. The variance requested would be for the use and also location as setback requirements are not listed for this specific use.
     
    Grounds for appeal were read by Mr. Warren; Chapter 1160.03 was ready by Mr. Murphy.
     
    Letters of invitation were sent to all pertinent property owners; a copy of which is made part of the permanent file.
     
    Mr. Mandato stated no letters were received in answer to the invitation sent by the Building Department.
     
    The following witnesses signed the register and were sworn in by Mr. Murphy:
     
    Christine Curtis, 1799 Brainard Road
    Donald Haugh, 1799 Brainard Road
    Jim Miozzi, 5669 Alberta Drive
    Mary Lou Brown, 5652 Alberta Drive
    Tim Carney, 1800 Brainard Road
    Joe Vitale, 1791 Brainard Road
    E. Dale Inkley, 5126 E. Farnhurst Road
    Ginny Schmitz, 5655 Alberta Drive
     
    Ms. Christine Curtis, 1799 Brainard Road, appellant, testified that she and Donald enjoy garden railroads and would like to put one in the back yard. She then presented the train and track to be used, if the variance is approved. She testified that there will be landscaping around the railroad and privacy fencing to keep the area secure. She further testified that she would like a raised bed for the railroad; the bed would be no more than twelve (12) inches high. She testified that lawn maintenance is much easier with a raised bed for the proposed railroad. She then testified that many residents have swing sets and other recreational equipment in their back yards, and doesn't see this request as much different.
     
    In answer to Mr. Koss's question regarding the proposed plan that was submitted, Ms. Curtis testified that new paving stones will be placed in the back yard, and the proposed railroad will be in an area of twenty-seven (27) by forty (40) feet.
     
    In answer to Mr. Mandato's question regarding the size of the trains, Mr. Haugh, 1799 Brainard Road, appellant, testified that although some decorative trains can be as big as four (4) feet, the one that he is proposing is about seven (7) inches tall, two (2) inches wide and DC powered.
     
    In answer to Mr. Novak's question, Mr. Haugh testified that the tracks can stay out year round, although he will store the trains and buildings in the basement.
     
    In answer to Mr. Koss's question regarding the dimensions of the biggest decorative (country style) building, Mr. Haugh testified that all items associated with the railroad are to scale; the biggest building will be eighteen (18) inches wide, twelve (12) inches deep and fourteen (14) inches high.
     
    In answer to Mr. Novak's question, Mr. Haugh testified that the train will not be running continuously; only when they turn it on.
     
    Mr. Murphy explained that the Board would have to define this request as either an accessory use or a recreational facility. He then asked if this request meets setback requirements.
     
    Mr. Haugh testified that all setback requirements were figured into the proposed plan, using the center line of Alberta Road.
     
    Mr. Novak stated in his opinion, the train, its track and buildings are not unlike a decorative pond, or waterfall in the back yard.
     
    In answer to Mr. Koss's question, Mr. Haugh testified that the buildings along the proposed train tracks will not be wired for electricity.
     
    Mary Brown, 5652 Alberta Drive, asked about the fencing surrounding the rear yard of the appellant.
     
    Mr. Haugh testified that the four (4) foot high chain link fence will be going back up, and have a chocolate brown vinyl coating. He further testified there will be landscaping.
     
    Joe Vitale, 1791 Brainard Road, testified that he has no objections to the variance being granted.
     
    A neighbor on Alberta, across the street, stated he has seen the proposed plans and has seen the trains set up in various locations, and feels this would be a beautiful attraction and design to the yard. He further stated that he knows Mr. Haugh will be putting in security cameras.
     
    Tim Carney, 1800 Brainard Road, testified that this proposal would be an asset to the community.
     
    In answer to Mr. Koss's question, Mr. Haugh testified that the trains are very quiet; neighbors may be able to hear them if there is no wind blowing or traffic.
     
    Ms. Curtis testified that there are volume controls on the trains.
     
    Mr. Haugh explained where the location of the trains will be. He further explained where the existing fence is, and where the dog run will be. He further testified that there is a retaining wall, and a swale, which will be backfilled with gravel in the rear yard.
     
    Ms. Curtis testified that there are slopes existing in the yard due to a swimming pool that was there, and as part of the new landscaping project, the existing concrete will be taken out.
     
    E. Dale Inkley, 5126 E Farnhurst Road, testified that he has a question regarding the answer that Mr. Haugh gave regarding the electrical wiring. He then asked the amount of voltage to be used.
     
    Mr. Haugh testified that twelve (12) volts will be used.
     
    F I N D I N G S
     
    The Board finds that:
  • Three neighbors strongly endorse the plans as proposed; and the fourth neighbor who questioned the proposal is now satisfied with the answers given.
  • There are no safety issues.
  • This proposal is no different than yard decorations, such as a pond or waterfall. The railroad element of this proposal is just a component of a landscape plan.
  • The train, its tracks and buildings are seasonal and removable.
  • The miniature buildings used in backyard railroading are no more than two (2) feet tall.
  • The maximum dimensions of the trains to be used in this project are forty-eight (48) inches long, by seven (7) inches high, by two (2) inches in width.
     
    It was moved by Mr. Warren, seconded by Mr. Koss that recommendation be made to Council to confirm the decision of the Board in Case No. 2012-03, to grant requested variance to Christine A. Curtis and Donald W. Haugh of 1799 Brainard Road, based on the above findings and following condition:
     
  • The height limitation of any railroad or its components located on this property be no more than two (2) feet.
     
    The question was put to a voice vote and passed unanimously.
     
    Motion carried.
     
    Ginny Schmitz, 5655 Alberta Dr., testified she lives directly behind the appellants' house and asked to see a picture of the retaining wall.
     
    Mr. Haugh presented a picture of the retaining wall and testified that the yard will be extended out five (5) feet for landscaping purposes.
     
    In answer to Mr. Koss's question, Mr. Haugh testified that groundbreaking will start next month, and should be completed within a year and a half.
     
    It was moved by Mr. Koss, seconded by Mr. Novak that the meeting be adjourned.
     
    The question was put to a voice vote and passed unanimously.
     
    Motion carried, meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.


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