Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Zoning Board of Appeals - January 28, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 P.M.
 
Zoning Board of Appeals Members Present:         Edwin Paff, Don Wilson, John Spadaro, Jerry Kolar, Chairman Tom Hood
                                                           
* Denise Smith – arrived at 7:38PM
 
Zoning Board of Appeals Members Absent:          Mike Deimler
 
Other Officials Present:                                      Bryan Winter, Village Attorney; David Ziegler, Community Development Director; Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager; Molly Bacon, Associate Planner; Ryan Mentkowski, Associate Planner
 
Public Hearing: Variation Petition for 1425 Sutton Place
Ms. Bacon reported that Mr. Daniel Yang is requesting a variance to increase the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to 0.436 for the single-family house located at 1425 Sutton Place. The purpose of the variance is to construct an approximately 203 sq. ft. (19’-1 ½ x 10’8” x 10’0”) three-season sunroom addition to the rear of the existing house. The subject property is zoned R-3-PUD, Single-Family Resident District as a Planned Unit Development and is located in the Greystone Subdivision.
 
Mr. Yang stated the reason he is here is to request a variance to increase the FAR from 0.413 to 0.436 at 1425 Sutton Place.   When he and his wife, Martha, built the house six or seven years ago they considered including a sunroom but due to financial reasons they chose not to construct the sunroom at the time. He stated they were never told that if they built a house on the lot, the house would automatically exceed the 0.35 FAR limit.   Mr. Yang said if they had known of the FAR at that time, they would have moved to another location or had the sunroom built at the time when the house was constructed. Mr. Yang said there are other houses in the neighborhood that already exceed a FAR greater than 0.35 and they are also aware of a house nearby that has a sunroom addition recently built exceeds the 0.35 FAR.
 
Mr. Yang stated the variance petition is not unprecedented and the Homeowner’s Association has approved the proposed sunroom addition. They also have not received any complaints in the neighborhood about the proposed sunroom addition. Mr. Yang said what they are building is not unsightly and from an observer’s standpoint, is the proposed sunroom addition will look like the rest of the house. He stated there will not be a perceivable difference between what the proposed sunroom structure looks like and what the rest of the house looks like. He stated the bottom line is the FAR value, the FAR principle and the adherence to this principle is prohibiting them from getting the proposed addition. 
 
Chairman Hood  opened/closed the floor to public comment as no one from the audience wished to speak.
 
Mr. Wilson asked, after reading through the notes, he’d like to get a better understanding from staff, the can of worms that may open up if the Zoning Board approves the variance. 
 
Mr. Winter responds he can address some of this question as well. He stated that after hearing the petitioner’s testimony he thinks staff is rightfully concerned about FAR particularly in developments where the FAR significantly exceed the ordinance or the PUD. He stated he wanted to clarify for the Board the question of fact and to consider the petitioner’s testimony. He stated the Board may want to consider the fact, and at this point it is unrefeuted that the petitioner bought this house and the Village gave the building permit for this size and from the varying inception, the house exceeded the FAR. He also stated that the Board has to consider that the petitioner was given the option to build the sunroom perhaps at the time the house was constructed.
 
Mr. Winter also stated the Board should consider the official notice of the Homeowner’s Association whether they have opposed the proposed sunroom addition or not. 
 
Mr. Winter stated the cases on this type of issue, in terms of the guidelines and case law, that the Board may want to consider the negative effect to the community and does it change the characteristics of the building. He stated often times if it is a massive build-out or a significant build-out that all of a sudden you have one big house and a lot of little houses, that is much easier for the village to say, that it is more than a variance and has a significant effect on the characteristics of the community. He stated if it is a change that might increase the density so that it is traffic that is another obvious one. He stated it is somewhat of a balancing test to see whether there is any negative impact and the fact that there are no neighbors here.   He stated if the Board learns on their own that there is a negative impact, they can make that decision and testimony is not needed.  He stated the Board should be aware as to whether or not if there are any objectors to the proposed sunroom addition.
 
Mr. Winter stated there are a couple of cases out there, the Weinstein vs. Highland Park case and because that case is somewhat similar, he wanted to advise the board that when a sunroom is added, the Board may want to look at the standards and say the sunroom addition is not essential, but there is case law that says, if the homeowner believes that their house is currently obsolete or that the proposed variation is a significant improvement to their household, there is case law that says that is sufficient if you believe that it is meaningful to the petitioner. He stated sometimes it can be as minor as we need the extra storage room or we need the extra space. 
 
Mr. Winter stated he thought the staff report is accurate but he wanted to emphasize that obviously the purpose for the hearing is for the Board members to make those considerations. In terms of a presidential effect, also consider that the lot size is always unique and that from my perspective, that could happen, but I do not think that it would necessarily happen because each petition has to be considered individually based on the facts and circumstances.   He stated that staff did a good job and this FAR increase is a concern but you also have to consider, basically they are talkking about a two-percent (2%) increase and that it is essentially 200 square feet.
 
Mr. Paff asks asked if the calculations of the FAR survey are representative of the new regulations that include the extra garage space.
 
Ms. Bacon responded all the FAR calculations in the survey were found using the current FAR interpretation.
 
Mr. Paff asked if a shed is included in floor area ratio. If someone wanted to proposed a shed, would they have to get another variance above and beyond this one.
 
Ms. Bacon responded yes.
 
Chairman Hood asks for any other questions from the board.
 
Mr. Spadaro made a motion, seconded by Mr. Wilson, to grant a favorable recommendation for a variance to increase the Floor Area Ratio to 0.436 for 1425 Sutton Place.
 
Chairman Hood asks for any discussion.
 
Roll Call
Ayes:                            Kolar, Spadaro, Wilson, Hood
Nays:                            Paff
Abstain:                        Smith
Motion Carried:              4-1-1
 
The meeting was adjourned at 7:40PM. 
 
 
 
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
 
 
Joanne Havenhill
Zoning Board of Appeals Secretary