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Plan Commission Minutes

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

Chairman Mike Brackett called the meeting to order.

In attendance: Chairman Mike Brackett, Co-chairman Jennifer Duncan, Commissioners Mark Rivecco, Anna Tuohy, Aaron Anderson, Tom Lenkart, Mark Bozik and Doug Botkin. Not in attendance: Commissioner Connie Holbrook.

Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Village Clerk Lori Murray.

1. Approval of Plan Commission Minutes dated June 6, 2017
Motion for approval made by Commissioner Bozik and seconded by Commissioner Botkin. All in favor. Motion approved.

1. Petition #17-05 (111 Hettinger Lane): The petitioner requests a variation to allow a
detached accessory building to exceed the total square footage of the footprint of the principal building.

2. Petition #17-06: The Village of North Aurora requests a text amendment to Title 15
of the North Aurora Municipal Code (Sign Ordinance) to amend the signage provisions for signs located in business districts.

Chairman Brackett opened the public hearing. Those who planned to speak were sworn in at this time. Chairman Brackett then closed the public hearing.

1. Petition #17-05 (111 Hettinger Lane): The petitioner requests a variation to allow a
detached accessory building to exceed the total square footage of the footprint of the principal building.

Mike Toth informed the Committee that Chapter 12 of the Zoning Ordinance prohibits detached accessory buildings from exceeding the total square footage of the footprint of the principal building, as amended into the Zoning Ordinance in 2014. The petitioner has constructed an addition to their detached garage, as a result, the floor area of the detached garage exceeds the total floor area of the principal structure. According to the petitioner, the detached garage is 472 square feet larger in area than the principal structure. The home was built over 40 years ago and the footprint of the home is 1,356 square feet.

Staff included a couple of conditions of approval should the Plan Commission decide to move forward. Those were noted in the staff report.

Commissioner Botkin asked if the work was permitted. Toth said that the work was done without a permit. The Village was made aware of the addition after it had been completed and have been working with the property owner and going through the adjudication process at this time. Commissioner Anderson asked if prior to the zoning amendment in 2014, if residents were allowed to have a detached accessory building with a footprint that exceeded the footage. Toth said he believed it would have been permissible.

Attorney Burt Brown, representing Mr. & Mrs. Coleman, owners of the property, addressed the Commission. Brown distributed pictures of the property. The Colemans spent $35,000 to build the garage. To the east of the property is Geneva Construction and there are five houses on Hettinger Lane. There is a dispute with the neighbor to the east, Geneva Construction. When Mr. Coleman had his garage built, he may have cut down some of their trees. They will replace those, but it is not a part of the variance. That will be a situation between the two owners.

Commissioner Duncan asked when the addition was built. Atty. Brown said it was about 18 months ago. Bozik asked why the garage was built without a permit. Atty. Brown said that Mr. Coleman thought he could build it and then apply for permission. Brown added that Mr. Coleman suffers from a number of severe medical issues such as congestive heart failure, emphysema and now double pneumonia and has been under a lot of medication for several years. Bozik asked who built the garage. Atty. Brown said Mr. Coleman, who was in the construction business prior to retiring. He hired subcontractors and supervised the pouring of the cement slab.

Commissioner Tuohy arrived at 7:15 p.m.

Commissioner Bozik asked how this issue came before the Plan Commission. Atty. Brown said it came to light when a fence was installed and had to get a permit. At that time the Village noted the structure on the property and discovered that it had been built without a permit. Bozik asked, since discovering the structure, if the Village has inspected the building to make sure it is within code. Toth said this would be done as part of the building permit application process.

Commissioner Rivecco asked if the garage and its addition comply with the side lot line setbacks. Toth said it meets all other code provisions for detached accessory buildings with the exception of the footprint area.

Commissioner Anderson asked if this is the only addition. Answer was yes. Atty. Brown said that the residents have been living in their home for 35 years. They are the first owner of the home and remain there today.

Commissioner Lenkart questioned that the addition of the 840 s.f. was built because of the owner’s illnesses and to store his golf cart. Atty. Brown said it was not built because of Mr. Coleman’s illnesses but to accommodate a pickup truck, antique car, passenger car and a golf cart. Lenkart said that a golf cart is not 840 s.f. and that Mr. Coleman built the garage knowing what is required in the building industry and did not get a permit. Atty. Brown said that Mr. Coleman probably wanted to build something that would store everything in one spot. He did not attempt to do something deliberately against the rules and as soon as the seriousness came to light, we called and said we would do what we need to in order to fix the situation.

Botkin questioned that Mr. Coleman, who built the home and had been in the construction business for 35 years had no clue he needed a permit. Atty. Brown said he believes Mr. Coleman thought it was okay to build the garage. It was the wrong way to do it and now seeks permission to fix what shouldn’t have happened to begin with.

Toth said there was a letter of objection dated today from Geneva Construction’s legal representation.

Patrick Kinnally, 2114 Deerpath Road, attorney representing Geneva Construction, addressed the Commission. Kinnally said that this is not just a neighbor dispute, but a land use dispute. Eighteen months ago the petitioner cut down trees on his Geneva Construction’s property. They objected at the time and he proceeded to build the garage and trespasses on the property. Geneva Construction has been in the village since 1952. Kinnally said that Mr. Coleman has been in the construction industry and knew he needed a permit. He also continues to trespass on the client’s property with trucks. Mr. Kinnally said that he registered his protest today, because he had sent a letter to Atty. Brown on October 25th, but never got a response. Atty. Kinnally suggested the Commission table this so that Atty. Brown can talk to his client and discuss what is going to happen to replace the trees and with the continued trespassing. Kinnally stated that you don’t build something and then come in and say you are sorry even though you needed a permit and now ask for a permit. That is not what land use control is about.

Bozik asked if any complaints have been made to the Village or police reports filed for destruction of trees or trespassing on the property. Kinnally said he was not sure if the owners made any complaints to the Village, but did make complaints to Mr. Coleman. Toth said there was contact from Geneva Construction with the Village.

Client’s objection is based on the use of the property (trees being cut down) and continued trespassing to get to the accessory use.

Chairman Brackett asked if the garage is 8 feet off the property line. Toth confirmed this to be correct.

Jim Long, 107 Hettinger Lane, North Aurora – Mr. Long said that the Colemans have been neighbors of his for 35 years. The reason this garage was built was because, for 40 years in the construction business he has always been busy, and due to his failing health, on a good day, he can go out to the garage. He needs the extra room to maintain the cars he proudly maintains.

Commissioner Duncan said it is hard to defend a variance in this situation. The hardship would be valid but that would be the only finding that may apply.

Commissioner Botkin agreed, adding that Mr. Coleman could have built a 16 x 20 garage, bigger than a single car garage and met the new zoning requirements. The reason has nothing to do with the golf cart, but to have more space for his cars. In terms of the issues with Geneva construction, they need to be straightened out between the two neighbors and do not have a bearing on the variance process.

Commissioner Bozik agreed, saying that there are rules to follow and we need to prove the hardship. Bozik said he did not believe there is a hardship and if it is allowed, it will set a precedence for others to do the same. Bozik noted that the Plan Commission does not have the discretionary power the Village Board has, and the Plan Commission has to look at the rules to see if it fits or not.

Commissioner Lenkart also agreed that the Plan Commission has to follow the guidelines.

Chairman Brackett said he wanted to make sure the Commission was not making an opinion due to the lack of a permit. Brackett asked Toth if this would have been allowed before the zoning change. Toth said yes, in 2014. Lenkart said the code was changed 3 years ago and the Colemans built this 18 months ago.

Commissioner Anderson asked if there are other properties within the village that have a detached accessory building that has a square footage footprint that exceeds the primary structure. Toth said he did not know. Before the amendment it would have been allowed given the size of the property.

Commissioner Tuohy asked what the repercussions are if the Plan Commission does not agree with the ordinance. Toth said that the structure would need to be made to be in compliance with code. The footprint could be reduced or a building addition could be made to their home to equal out the square footage of the garage. Bozik said that the Plan Commission could deny the variance and it would go to the Village Board where the Board could overrule the Plan Commissions findings.

Toth said that if this moves forward, it will go to the November 20th Committee of the Whole meeting for discussion.

Touhy said there were still preconceived construction plans without permit. It is very black and white. If there needed to be an inside space for a golf cart, they would have made the space.
Tuohy said she does not believe there is any financial hardship and that there are rules in place that need to be followed.

Toth said that the underlying context is that it abuts industrial property and future office/industrial, in case the Plan Commission was concerned about setting precedence. There are no visual issues.

Duncan asked, if the property becomes industrial and the variance is granted as residential, if the zoning is changed does the variance follow the land? Toth said that once the zoning changes, the rules to that district apply. If it meets that standard for the district it is conforming. If it does not, then it is nonconforming.

Rivecco said requesting a variance 18 months ago was not done and that there were procedures that were not followed.

Chairman Brackett asked the Commission wanted to go through the findings of fact.

Duncan said she could not agree with any finding that would allow for the variance.

Anderson said he would be sensitive to the hardship issue if there are other properties in the village where the square footage of a detached accessory building exceeds the footprint of the primary dwelling structure even if it is now non-conforming.

Toth said if you look at standard #4 – the zoning ordinance has created the hardship in this case.
Lenkart said that the petitioner built something much bigger than he should have and now he is asking the Village to excuse it. The hardship was created by the petitioner himself and the variance should not be permitted because of it. Lenkart said that residents, in the past, have wanted to build a sunroom. What would prevent them from building one now that is too large and then come back and ask for a variance?

Village Administrator Steve Bosco said that every variance is unique to the property. Had the petitioner come to the village and asked for a permit we would have said no, but would also say that they built it and have an opportunity to go through the variance process. Bosco noted that this is a unique property since it abuts industrial properties.

Botkin said that however he would have voted 18 months ago is how he would vote now.

Anderson asked counsel if any of the construction on the addition started before the zoning ordinance change in 2014. Atty. said not to his knowledge. Toth said that the petitioner did get a permit for the concrete slab behind the garage.

Toth said he has a letter from the homeowner dated 8/13/15 stating that they were applying for the variance. They planned on applying for the variance, but it didn’t happen.

Bozik said that the request does meet the requirements for a variance, but also does not think it is a hindrance to the area.

Toth said the permit for the patio was issued 4/14/15. Letter received in August 2015 that they would be applying for a variance.

Commissioner Botkin made a motion to deny the variance. Second by Commissioner Lenkart. Bosco said it is easier to make the motion in the positive. Botkin withdrew his motion. Lenkart withdrew his second.

Motion made by Commissioner Rivecco and seconded by Commissioner Anderson to approve the variance given Staff’s findings of facts and conditions. Roll Call Vote: Rivecco – yes, Anderson – yes, Tuohy – yes, Lenkart – no, Duncan – no, Bozik – no, Botkin – no. Motion denied (3-4).

2. Petition #17-06: The Village of North Aurora requests a text amendment to Title 15 of
the North Aurora Municipal Code (Sign Ordinance) to amend the signage provisions for signs located in business districts.

This was reviewed September of last year by the Plan Commission. Toth noted that in business districts can go from a 10-foot tall sign to a 20-foot tall sign. Route 31 has its own special sign district so it would not apply to Route 31.

Item #6 – Brackett noted that this was struck completely and asked if there is somewhere in the code that states the sign has to be compatible with the structure. Anderson said it is noted in criteria.

Corporate logos – Toth said whether logo or text, counts as part of the signage.

Awning signs – Toth said there should be a limit of one canopy or awning sign per lot established. That was limiting so changed it so that a canopy sign is a wall sign. Whether the sign is on a building or a canopy, it is considered a sign.

Menu Board signs – Lenkart asked if there is a size limitation. Toth said he removed the size limitation but can keep a limitation in there. It is currently 24 s.f. and 8 feet in height. Lenkart said there should be a limitation.

Standalone and multi-tenant buildings – multi-tenant building would be a strip center and a stand-alone building would be a restaurant.

Landscaping – Botkin asked that landscaping around signs be maintained to avoid overgrown bushes blocking signs. Toth said he would add that information.

Freestanding signs – Lenkart asked if there is a maximum size and if the Village should cap this. Toth said he can check area provisions and see what other communities do. It can be capped based on local market.

Motion made by Commissioner Lenkart and seconded by Commissioner Botkin to move forward with changes to sign ordinance with addition of the comments from the Plan Commission. All in favor. Motion approved.

-My Place hotel permit issued last week.
-Approved 4 townhome foundation permits.
-North Aurora Smiles amended their building façade. Moving forward with a neutral tone brick stone veneer which matches the Highlands and Turf Room.
-D.R. Horton for the Fox Valley Golf course property – 374 units.
-The Village acquired 2 properties. One is the silo along the Fox River past John Street.
-Property acquired from Harner’s is officially the Village’s and will now select a company to design the public space.
-Contract to acquire a property next to the fire station.

Motion to adjourn made by Commissioner Lenkart and seconded by Commissioner Bozik. All in favor. Motion approved.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lori J. Murray
Village Clerk

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