Variances keep Zoning Board of Appeals busy

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On Oct. 9, the Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals met to discuss an application for a zoning ordinance variance from one of its township residents.

They are preparing the commission. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

Kevin Shoen, who lives on Lake Lansing, wants to expand his driveway, and that process started by seeking permission from the township.

“We were expanding the driveway of my house and it is going to be larger than what the standard allows,” said Schoen, who lives near Lake Lansing. “We had to get the variance to allow to go larger, and the approval to expand driveway. The process is not hard, but you have to do a bit of paperwork ahead of time. We applied for it three weeks ago.”

Lynda Schneider is listening to her husband to answer questions. Photo by Tiani Xiao

Schoen and his wife Lynda Schneider said that they have to fit the certain criteria set forth by the commission, and they get the permission after go through the eight criteria.

“If you want to change the property you have to meet the criteria since we live on the lake most houses don’t fit the normal land layout,” said Schoen.

Beauchine is the field services manager. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

“The Zoning Board of Appeals allows township resident or anyone who need the variance from the zoning ordinance to come before the broad and ask for relief from the ordinance or township,” said Justin Quagliata, the assistant planner of the Meridian Township. “The appeals can grant the dimensional variance for some type of the number, whether is the number of the parking spaces or amount of open space.”

Quagliata said to grant the ordinance, the applicant who requests the variance has to meet eight criteria, the hard part is that sometimes the applicant can meet two or a few, but they can’t meet all eight.

The eight criteria Meridian Township requires:

 1. Unique circumstances exist that are peculiar to the land or structure, that is not applicable to other land or structures in the same zoning district.

 2. These special circumstances are not self-created.

 3. Strict interpretation and enforcement of the literal terms and provisions of this chapter would result in practical difficulties.

 4.That the alleged practical difficulties which will result from a failure to grant the variance would unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permitted purpose.

  5. Granting the variance is the minimum action that will make possible the use of the land or structure in a manner which is not contrary to the public interest and which would carry out the spirit of this zoning ordinance, secure public safety, and provide substantial justice.

 6.Granting the variance will not adversely affect adjacent land or the essential character in the vicinity of the property.

 7. The conditions pertaining to the land or structure are not so general or recurrent in nature as to make the formulation of a general regulation for such conditions practicable.

 8. Granting the variance will be generally consistent with public interest and the purposes and intent of this chapter.

Quagliata is explaining the information about the application. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

“We have a variance application on our website and anyone who wants to apply has to provide their information and what they are asking for,” said Quagliata. “We need the survey and the site plan of the property and applicants have to provide respond to eight criteria to justify why variance should be granted.”

Quagliata said when a resident applies for a variance, a public hearing is scheduled 15 days after a notice is printed in the newspaper. Surrounding properties are also notified. Quagliata says the whole process takes about a month.

“The appeals are the process that something that does not meet ordinances, we allow people to break the rules, once we allow them to break the rules very specifically that becomes part of legal law,” said Brian Beauchine, who is the field services manager. “Our role is usually a measurement, they can come to us with the application, we go through a list of criteria, they have to meet all eight criteria in order to pass the request.”

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