City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals met March 21
City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals met March 21.
Here is the minutes provided by the board:
I. CALL TO ORDER
At 7:30 PM Chair Chaplik called the meeting to order and asked Planner Burhop to call the roll.
Members Present: Bay, Chaplik, Cullather, Fettner
Members Absent: Bina, Henry, Putzel
Planner Burhop took the roll and declared a quorum present.
Staff Present: Burhop
Student Rep.: Edheimer
Council Liaison: Stone (in place of Council Member Stolberg, who was absent)
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
March 7, 2019
Chair Chaplik a motion to approve the minutes of the March 7, 2019 meeting. Vice Chair Cullather so motioned, seconded by Member Fettner. On a voice vote the Chair declared the motion carried unanimously.
III. PUBLICATION DATE FOR NEW BUSINESS: 3-6-19
IV. BUSINESS FROM THE PUBLIC: None
V. OLD BUSINESS: None
VI. NEW BUSINESS:
Property: 2185 Linden Ave., Highland Park, IL 60035
Zoning District R5
Appellant: Daniel Simon and the Anna Braun Glazer Trust dated September 14, 2007 Address: 575 E. Delaware Pl., #3605, Chicago, IL, 60611
Planner Burhop made a presentation for the above item including, site location, project background, Compere rule, aerial location map, site photos, existing and proposed site plans, zoning code considerations: height, topographic exhibit, proposed west and north elevations, adjacent elevations, steep slope zone consideration, additional notes and request.
Planner Burhop stated there was a Forestry Memo and the location of the depicted swimming pool complies with Zoning Code regulations but may not comply with Chapter 94 Trees and Shrubs of City Code. Burhop stated that if the ZBA approves the variation, the approval is not for Chapter 94 requirements and the applicants may have to relocate the pool to comply with City Forestry comments.
Chair Chaplik asked if it could be either for recommendation or final approval.
Planner Burhop stated the have three choices – not pass which is a denial, refer to the ZBA for a public hearing and recommendation back to Council, or refer to the ZBA for a public hearing and final decision.
Member Fettner asked if the average grade is taken at the buildable footprint not the house footprint.
Planner Burhop stated it is taken from the buildable area of the property.
Member Bay asked if it is taken around the perimeter.
Planner Burhop stated if you had a normal square property then you would take the four points from each corner. This is semi-circular and staff thought it would be better to take the five point intervals for accuracy.
Member Bay stated if the elevation around the perimeter was higher than the middle of the lot it would change the grade calculation.
Planner Burhop confirmed this.
Member Bay asked where grade is measured.
Planner Burhop stated they expect people to take the grade as it is before construction or earth moving occurs. If they wanted to take grades from new points staff would challenge this. You do not have to have a 9’ side yard and a 16’ side yard. One has to be a minimum of 9’, but the other does not have to be 16’.
Mr. Cal Bernstein, 1473 Sherwood, Highland Park, IL, 60035, Attorney, made a presentation including it is a unique property, City changed how they measure grade, there is a significant grade change which corrupts height of the property, properties on either side are most likely non-conforming, asking to build basically a 30’ house on property, comports with neighborhood, will not alter the essential character of neighborhood, reducing height of existing house.
Mr. Mike Hirschenson, 1515 Sherman, Evanston, IL, Architect, made a presentation including old house is 5’ taller than proposed, house will be at 31.1’, will be lower than houses to north and south, Mediterranean style is low pitch, not a big house, asking for as little variation as possible, house will not dominate the neighborhood, up against FAR maximum because they have to count the basement.
Member Bay asked about the ceiling heights.
Mr. Hirschenson stated it is 11’ on the first floor and 10’ on the second floor.
Member Bay asked if these were standard heights for new construction.
Mr. Hirschenson stated 10’ is the minimum for new construction.
Chair Chaplik asked where the closest neighbor is behind the property.
Councilwoman Stone (unintelligible)
Mr. Bernstein stated it is across the ravine.
Chair Chaplik stated it was a good distance.
Mr. Hirschenson stated it will be lower than what is there now and lower than the two adjacent properties.
Mr. Bernstein stated he was before the ZBA a year ago and the same problem came up in Deere Park with the FAR. In that instance there was a 14’ difference which created a FAR issue. This house has a similar situation but they were able to work with it and make the house a little smaller. Regarding the change in grade, he did not think it could be done because you have to submit a grading plan and the City frowns on changing the grade. If you do it without permit they can tag you as a violation, ticket you, and then you have to come to the Board and get a variation after the fact and return the grade to the previous grade.
Member Bay asked if they were higher in certain areas because it is only measured around the perimeter.
Mr. Bernstein stated that is the way the City defines grade. If they had done it from the footprint it would have been a different situation. They used the whole building envelope.
Councilwoman Stone asked a question about the height.
Mr. Bernstein stated they know at the front of the building the grade of the house is a 30’ house.
Planner Burhop stated the topographic is for the existing house. Towards the front is it 670 and the back is 665.
Mr. Bernstein stated it is about the same footprint. He stated it is about a 5’ difference vs. 11-12’. From the front grade people will be looking at a 30’ house.
Student Rep. Edheimer asked if the existing home is taller than the new home, what is the problem if it is going to be shorter.
Mr. Bernstein stated when the house was built the City was not measuring grade the way they measure it now. It was compliant when the house was built 80 or 90 years ago, but 20 years ago the City decided to change the way they measure grade which means it is a non-conforming house. You have to replace it with the current code not when the house was built.
Mr. Bernstein stated the purpose of the variation is not to make more money from the property, regarding the reasonable return, the property is very large and the only kind of house that can be built is either a ranch or a short modern two-story house that would not comport with the neighborhood, the unique circumstance is the change in grade which was not caused by the applicant, it will not impair the adequate air or light, and will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood. It will be shorter than the houses on either side. He asked for approval of the variance as requested.
Member Bay stated this was easy as far as the standards, the only possible glitch was the reasonable return standard. They decided against rehabbing the existing home. If you focus on reasonable return in the standard is it reasonable to force someone to do something other than what seems to be appropriate for the existing property. He felt it met that standard and would support the request.
Member Fettner stated it meets the standards and going back to the first one it is a reasonable return. He thought it was a hardship to force a homeowner to restrict the type of house they can build whether it is a contemporary or a flat roof. He did not know if they would be able to get a reasonable return on the property if they have a house that may limit they type of people who may want to purchase it. He felt it met all the other standards and would support the variance.
Student Rep. Edheimer stated it is lower and does not have much of an effect on anything.
Vice Chair Cullather stated the one variance he keeps tripping over is whether or not the variation would merely serve as a convenience to the petitioner. It is 30’ when viewing from the front. The fact that the applicant has acknowledged high ceilings on both floors made him question whether or not you could build the same house with lower ceiling and be in compliance. He was leaning favor because it is lower than the existing house and from the street view it will appear to be 30’.
Chair Chaplik he agreed and thought there was a clear hardship met, and the request is entirely consistent with the neighbors, they are not inconveniencing anyone and it is in character with the neighborhood. He thought it met all the standards for approval and when he read the packet he thought it was similar to Mr. Bernstein’s comments. He thought of the case in Deere Park which was quite similar. It is a smaller home and he would vote for approval.
Chair Chaplik entertained a motion to approve the variation as presented. Member Fettner so motioned, seconded by Member Bay.
Planner Burhop called the roll:
Ayes: Bay, Fettner, Cullather, Chaplik
The Chair declared the Motion passed 4-0.
Chair Chaplik entertained a motion to approve the approval order as presented in the packet. Vice Chair Cullather motioned to adopt the order as drafted, seconded by Member Fettner.
Ayes: Bay, Fettner, Cullather, Chaplik Nays: None
The Chair declared the Motion passed 4-0.
VII. STAFF REPORT:
Planner Burhop stated Mr. Passman will provide legal training at the next ZBA meeting on April 4th.
Planner Burhop stated City Council adopted a text amendment to the subdivision building line regulations which does impact the variations the Board sees. There used to be a requirement that you could only submit a subdivision building line variation if you had written from the adjacent neighbors and that requirement has been struck.
Chair Chaplik asked if there were cases where neighbors would not even consent to receipt of the letter.
Planner Burhop stated it is hard to know.
Councilwoman Stone stated it seemed that there were stronger restrictions on people who lived in certain subdivisions than on anyone else. The people in these subdivisions had to go and get neighbor approval from all the neighbors before they could undertake a process that all other residents could do by right.
Vice Chair Cullather asked if they would still have the same subdivisions restrictions they currently have.
Councilwoman Stone stated what had occurred before is that if you lived in a certain subdivision you would have to ask the neighbor’s permission rather than giving notification.
Chair Chaplik asked what happened if a subdivision had a restriction outside the building code.
Councilwoman Stone stated that was not impacted. It is just the notification.
Planner Burhop stated the next meeting is April 4th.
1. Discussion on Curfew and Application Limit for Board 2. Meetings Discussion on Continuance Guidelines
Councilwoman Stone stated they needed a variance for their house which was built in 1899 and basically a tree was holding up the side of the house. They need to remove the tree and construct structural pillars. They came to the Board and were last on the agenda and the Board wanted to continue to the next meeting. They were up against a weather constraint to have the construction completed. They were upset and it ended being a 5-10 minute discussion. Having a limit to the number of cases it preferable to having a curfew.
Chair Chaplik stated Member Bay had prepared a draft on this and it is discretion and you know when it is the right thing to do. Continuance is different issue.
Chair Chaplik entertained a motioned to adjourn. Member Fettner so motioned, seconded by Member Bay. On a voice vote, the Chair declared the motion passed unanimously.
The Zoning Board of Appeals adjourned at 8:15 PM.