Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Gurnee Planning and Zoning Board - December 4, 2013

Village of Gurnee

Planning and Zoning Board Minutes

December 4, 2013


1.  Call to Order and Roll Call

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.

Planning & Zoning Board Members present: Chairman James Sula, Richard McFarlane, Richard Twitchell, David Ohanian, Sharon Salmons & Edwin Paff

Planning & Zoning Board Members absent: David Nordentoft

Other Officials present: Bryan Winter, Village Attorney; David Ziegler, Community Development Director; Tracy Velkover, Planning Manager; and Molly Booth, Associate Planner  

2.  Pledge of Allegiance

3.  Public Comment

Mr. Sula asked if anyone from the public had any questions or comments regarding anything not on the evening’s agenda.  As there were no responses, Chairman Sula closed the floor to the public on the matter.

4.  Approval of the Planning and Zoning Board’s November 6, 2013 meeting minutes.

A motion to approve the November 6, 2013 meeting minutes was made by Mr. McFarlane, seconded by Ms. Salmons.

Voice Vote: all "Ayes," no "Nays," none abstaining

Motion Carried:  6-0-0

5.  Resubdivision Plat: Calvary Temple Assembly of God (5501 Stearns School Road)

Ms. Booth stated that this plat is being directed to the PZB from the Engineering Department and that in the packet is a memo from Scott Drabicki, the Village Engineer.  She noted that this is a reorganization of lot lines; there are currently two lots, and two lots are proposed with the resubdivision.  She then stated that the lot where the church and parking lot is located currently contains approximately ten acres; the resubdivision will result in this lot being increased to approximately eleven acres.  The second lot, which is excess property that the church is not currently using, consists of approximately six acres; the resubdivision will result in this lot being decreased to approximately five acres.  The R-1 zoning classification remains on both lots, as does the regulations contained in the church’s annexation agreement of 2002.  Upon the resubdivision the church and parking lot will continue to meet the required setbacks. 

A motion to forward a favorable recommendation to the Village Board on the resubdivision plat for Calvary Temple Assembly of God (5501 Stearns School Road) was made by Mr. McFarlane, seconded by Ms. Salmons.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes:  McFarlane, Twitchell, Ohanian, Salmons, Paff, Sula

Nays: None

Abstain: None

Motion Carried:  6-0-0

6.  Public Hearing: Variation (4419 Washington)

Ms. Booth stated that staff discovered that the subject property, located at 4419 Washington Street and owned by Mr. Anthony Prust, has an existing patio, gazebo and hot tub that encroach into a required side yard.  She stated that the property is zoned R-2, which requires a 15 foot interior side yard setback. The provisions for accessory structures are found in the Zoning Ordinance under Article 8.5, Accessory Structures.  Both hot tubs and gazebos are required to meet the required side yard setback of the respective zoning district, while patios are allowed to encroach 4 feet into the required side yard setback of the respective zoning district. Mr. Prust is requesting approval of a variance to allow the structures to remain and is requesting the following encroachments into the required side yard setback: a) approximately 9.22 feet for an existing patio; b) approximately 13.22 for an existing gazebo; c) Approximately 12.05 feet for an existing hot tub; and d) any such other relief as may be necessary to allow the petitioner’s patio, gazebo and hot tub in their current location. 

Mr. Tony Prust stated that he is the owner of the property at 4419 Washington Street.  As Ms. Booth stated, he is requesting a variance to allow side yard setbacks less than those required by code for his patio, hot tub and gazebo.  He stated that there is no other place that the hot tub can be located on the lot.  He also stated that a Village inspector, who was inspecting a fence that had recently been installed on the property, informed him that permits for the patio, hot tub and gazebo would need to be secured, as those structures were currently not permitted.  Once he applied for the permits for these structures, the setback issues were discovered.  He explained that the problem is related to the fact that his lot, per the R-2 zoning district, should have 100 feet of frontage; his lot has just less than 80 feet of frontage.  He stated that if his lot was 100 feet wide, these setback issues would not exist.  He emphasized that he cannot move the structures closer to his house because the Fire Department will have issues with encroachment into the space they require around the perimeter of the house for the purpose of accessibility.  He also stressed stated that the structures cannot be moved to the back of the house because he would have to tear apart his deck to run electricity.  He also noted that there is an abandoned well-head at the southeast corner of his house, and that he has been informed that he must not disturb it.   He expressed his opinion that the structures, in their current location, are not very visible.

Ms. Salmons asked how long the gazebo and the hot tub have been on the lot.

Mr. Prust answered that the structures have existed for approximately two years.

Mr. Twitchell asked if he expanded the garage and if so, if he obtained a permit. 

Mr. Prust stated that he did expand the garage and did obtain a permit for this work. He also stated that he has obtained a permit for other work that he’s done to his house including new windows and siding.

Mr. Twitchell questioned why, if he knew that permits were needed for the above noted work, did he not think that he would need a permit for a gazebo and hot tub. 

Mr. Prust responded that he didn’t think a permit was needed because these were non-structural freestanding items.  He noted that there are no foundations with either of these structures, and that the gazebo is the prefabricated type that sits on a deck.

 Mr. Twitchell then asked if he didn’t think a permit would be necessary for the plumbing or electrical work associated with the hot tub. 

 Mr. Prust responded that there is no plumbing associated with the hot tub; it gets filled, then emptied and refilled.  He did, however, admit that he should have known a permit would be necessary for the electrical work.

Mr. Twitchell indicated that he did not know what impact the septic field would have on the owner’s ability to place the structures elsewhere.  He asked if the adjacent vacant lot is a buildable lot. 

Ms. Velkover answered that the lot is buildable.

Mr. Twitchell expressed concern with the mentality that it may be easier to just build something and--ask for forgiveness after the fact--rather than seek approval for such construction to begin with.  He stated that approving the variations in this case may enable others with such mentality. 

Mr. McFarlane stated that he does not feel such concern is warranted and feels that the property owner made an honesty mistake.   He expressed that to review such issues is, in part, why the board exists.  He noted that the fence hides the structures from the adjacent lot and questioned what would be gained for the community by not allowing this variance. 

Mr. Ohanian stated that he agrees, but questioned whether or not any precedence would be set. 

Village Attorney Winter stated that he would not be overly concerned with precedential value.  He elaborated that while--overall, it is a consideration--this case can be distinguished by the unique facts presented. 

Mr. Ohanian inquired as to the implications of the variance being granted at this time; specifically, he asked if an electrical inspection would be a condition of granting this variance. 

Ms. Velkover stated that, if a variance is granted, a permit, inspection, etc. would be required. 

Mr. Winter stated that there would be a penalty for not obtaining a permit to begin with.

Ms. Velkover confirmed that a penalty for constructing the structures without a permit is possible.

Mr. Paff stated that he is struggling with this request.  He noted that it does not meet the criteria for a variance and that if Mr. Prust had simply obtained the proper permits, this would not be an issue.  He expressed concern that, while the variance may not seem to be an issue at this time, it may be in the future.  He also noted that this lot is not unique, in that there are many lots in town that have approximately 80 feet of lot frontage and are able to place their accessory structures in compliance with code.

Mr. Sula stated that, for him, there are really two issues to consider.  The first is the patio, which appears to have been on-site for some time and was not constructed by the applicant.  He stated that he feels comfortable recommending approval for the variance on this structure.  However, in regards to the gazebo and hot tub, these are structures that were built by the applicant without a permit.  His concern is that they both encroach substantially into the required setbacks; approximately 75% into these setbacks.  He also questioned the emphasis placed on the presence of the fence and stress that it may not always be there to block visibility. 

Mr. Sula then opened the matter to the public.  As there was no response, he closed the floor to the public on the matter.

Ms. Salmons asked what financial consequences Mr. Prust would face in moving/removing structures.

Mr. Sula stated that such concerns are not for the board to consider. 

Mr. Twitchell asked about potential engineering issues regarding the septic field. 

Mr. Ziegler responded by verifying the septic field has been abandoned and that the property is now connected to city sewer.   He stated that as an abandoned septic field is should be filled with sand.   He stated that it would be of no real consequence for the installation of these accessory structures.

Mr. Paff asked how tall the gazebo is and whether or not it was visible over the fence. 

Mr. McFarland stated that it is not particularly visible above the fence and that it is neutral in color. 

Mr. Prust stressed for the record that it is not his intent to set any precedent with this request or to avoid seeking permits before construction of such structures.  He also acknowledged that he knows that denial of his request is a possibility.

To clarify before making any motions, Mr. Ohanian questioned if the issue regarding the patio was not subject to "grandfathering", as the patio already existed. 

Mr. Sula stated that it was not because it is not clear when this structure was installed.  However, he noted that this is an issue Mr. Prust inherited rather than created. 

Mr. Twitchell asked whether or not this matter should be decided by a single motion, or three separate motions.  It was determined that it would be best addressed by 3 separate motions.

Mr. Ohanian made a motion, seconded by Ms. Salmons, to forward a favorable recommendation on the petition of Mr. Tony Prust to allow an encroachment of 9.22 feet for an existing patio.

Roll Call:

Ayes: Salmons, Paff, Twitchell, Ohanian, McFarlane, Sula

Nays: None

Abstain: None       

Motion Carried: 6-0-0

Mr. Ohanian made a motion, seconded by Ms. Salmons, to forward a favorable recommendation on the petition of Mr. Tony Prust to allow an encroachment of 13.22 for an existing gazebo.

Roll Call:

Ayes: Salmons, Ohanian, McFarlane

Nays: Paff, Twitchell, Sula

Abstain: None       

Motion Failed: 3-3-0

Mr. Ohanian made a motion, seconded by Ms. Salmons, to forward a favorable recommendation on the petition of Mr. Tony Prust to allow an encroachment of 12.05 feet for an existing hot tub.

Roll Call:

Ayes: Salmons, Ohanian, McFarlane

Nays: Paff, Twitchell, Sula

Abstain: None       

Motion Failed: 3-3-0

Mr. Sula informed the petitioner that the PZB is an advisory body and that their recommendations would be forwarded to the Village Board for final decision.  He stated that the petitioner should contact staff to determine when this matter will be scheduled before the Village Board. 

7.  Next Meeting Date: December 18, 2013

8.  Adjournment

Mr. Ohanian made a motion to adjourn the meeting; seconded by Ms. Salmons.

Voice vote: All "Ayes", no "Nays", none abstaining

Motion carried:   6-0-0

The meeting was adjourned at 7:59 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Joann Metzger
Planning and Zoning Board Secretary