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                                            MARION TOWNSHIP

                          Agenda and Draft Minutes

                                  July 11, 2005  

                     

CALL TO ORDER:

MEMBERS PRESENT:  

MEMBERS ABSENT:

CALL TO THE PUBLIC:    Agenda Items Only Ė 3 minute limit

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:      July 11, 2005

APPROVAL OF MINUTES FOR:    May 2, 2005            

OLD BUSINESS:   None       

NEW BUSINESS:   

                 ZBA Case # 04-05 Ė Michael & Donna Chapman

                ZBA Case # 05-05 Ė James P. & Suzanne L. Radick

CALL TO PUBLIC:

ADJOURNMENT:  

                                       DRAFT MINUTES 

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:    John Lowe, Larry Fillinger, Dan Lowe, Linda Manson-Dempsey,

                                                and Dan Rossbach

MEMBERS ABSENT:       None

OTHERS PRESENT:       Mike Kehoe , Township Attorney

                                              Annette McNamara , Zoning Administrator                                                                                                                   

******************************************************************************************

CALL TO ORDER

John Lowe called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.  

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Larry Fillinger motioned to approve the agenda as presented.  Dan Rossbach seconded. 

Motion carried 5-0.

MEMBERS PRESENT

The members of the Zoning Board of Appeals introduced themselves. 

CALL TO THE PUBLIC

None.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Zoning Board of Appeals, May 2, 2005

Larry Fillinger motioned to approve the minutes as presented.  Linda Manson-Dempsey seconded. 

Motion carried 5-0.

OLD BUSINESS

None.

NEW BUSINESS

ZBA Case #04-05óMichael & Donna Chapman

Thomas Halm, attorney for the Chapmans, summarized the variance request.  Mr. Halm provided photos for the

ZBA members to review.  The porch is five feet, seven inches beyond the building envelope.  The Chapmanís

purchased the existing home in 2004; this is a matter the Chapmansí inherited and was discovered as a result of a

mortgage survey.  The building was approved and issued a final compliance by the township seven years ago. 

Call to the Public

John Lowe opened the call to the public. 

Kevin Hutchings, 5799 Carter Court :  Mr. Hutchings is vice president of the homeownerís association. 

He indicated the association supports the variance request by the Chapmans.

Call to the public closed.

Motion

Dan Rossbach motioned to grant a variance for ZBA Case #04-05, allowing five feet, seven inch front yard setback

reduction from the required 70 feet, relaxing Section 8.01 F 3 a of the zoning ordinance, and addressed the following

items:

  1. How the strict enforcement of the provisions of the townshipís zoning ordinance would cause an

unnecessary hardship and deprive the owner of rights enjoyed by all other property owners owning

property within the same zoning district.

  1. The conditions and circumstances unique to the property, which are not similarly applicable to

other properties in the same zoning district. 

  1. The conditions and circumstances unique to the property were not self-created.  
  1. Why the requested variance would not confer special privileges that are denied other properties

similarly situated in the same zoning district. 

  1. Why the requested variance would not be contrary to the spirit and intent of this zoning ordinance.
  1. The difficulties shall not be deemed solely economic. 

John Lowe said not granting the variance would be a detriment to the neighborhood, and the township

had approved the permit for the porch in May 1997.  Larry Fillinger seconded.  Roll call vote: 

Dan Rossbach, Larry Fillinger, Linda Manson-Dempsey, John Lowe, Dan Loweóall yes. 

Motion carried 5-0.

ZBA Case #05-05óJames P. & Suzanne L. Radick

Suzanne Radick stated she has a recreational hobby kennel with sled dogs at the corner of Dutcher Road and Coon

Lake Road , and she is requesting a variance on the number of dogs allowed.  Mrs. Radick said her family has

15 dogs instead of 10.  Many of the dogs are older and retired from racing. 

John Lowe asked the ZBA members if they had any questions.  Dan Rossbach asked how many dogs

Mrs. Radick trains.  She said 8-10 dogs.  Mrs. Radick said 8 of the dogs are between 9-13. 

She uses the older dogs to help train the younger dogs.  Larry Fillinger asked what the average life

expectancy is.  Mrs. Radick said 14-15 years.   Linda Manson-Dempsey asked Mrs. Radick if she

owns all of the dogs.  Mrs. Radick said yes.  John Lowe asked how many dogs Mrs. Radick owns. 

She said a total of 16:  15 sled dogs and a German Shepard.  Mr. Fillinger asked when the Radicks

went over the 10-dog limit.  Mrs. Radick said the previous fall.  Mr. Fillinger asked what prompted the

variance request.  Mrs. Radick said a noise complaint.  Mrs. Radick told the ZBA that she plans to

have 12 of the dogs debarked to resolve the noise issue.  Mr. Rossbach asked how that would affect

the dogs.  Mrs. Radick said itís not an uncommon practice.  

Call to the Public

John Lowe opened the call to the public.  Mr. Lowe wanted to clarify that the ZBA members are aware t

hat the Radicks take excellent care of their dogs and thatís not a point of issue.  Mr. Lowe said the

ZBA received 27 letters in support of the Radicks, which will be part of the public record. 

Allison Bauer, 5757 Lange Road :  Mrs. Bauer read a letter she wrote to the ZBA (copy attached).

Bert Schonberger, 6090 Munsell:  Ms. Schonberger said she has shown purebred dogs for 30 years. 

Many dogs are debarked and itís quite a common practice. 

Mike Collier, Ohio :  Mr. Collier said he owns a debarked dog and itís not a problem.  He said the

Radicks are trying hard.  They have one of the smallest kennels that races.  They have borrowed dogs

 from Mr. Collier so they donít have to get more dogs. 

Mark Reizen, 3210 Dutcher Road:  Mr. Reizen said heís one of the neighbors, he doesnít live in Ohio .

 He said the dogs were barking on July 9 and July 10.  It wasnít for 53 seconds; it was over 22 minutes

each time.  Mr. Reizen said heís appalled the Radicks would even consider debarking the dogs.  Itís

 cruel, itís unusual, itís illegal in Michigan and in the surrounding states.  Mr. Reizen said a variance

cannot be granted when a party had prior knowledge of the ordinance and they self-created the

hardship.  There is no benefit to the community.  Itís already been determined that there is a nuisance. 

The ZBA has no authority to grant the variance, they canít meet any of the criteria, and he urges the

ZBA to not grant the variance.

Frank Soerries, 5945 W. Coon Lake Road :  Mr. Soerries said heís never heard the dogs howl for

22 minutes.  He has heard them howl a couple of times.  The Radicks are very responsible with their

dogs.  Mr. Soerries said heís lived there 3 years and he can count on one hand the number of times

heís heard the dogs howling. 

Todd Dickinson, 5956 W. Coon Lake Road :  Mr. Dickenson said heís one of the Radicks closest

neighbors.  Thereís more noise from cars and gravel haulers and loud radios.  He rarely hears the

animals howl or bark. 

Lee Fritz, 2882 Fisk:  Mr. Fritz said he lives next to a former hobby kennel.  He doesnít believe the

ZBA should grant a variance to allow more dogs.

Joe Goers, 5920 W. Coon Lake Road :  Mr. Goers said he still hears the dogs barking, although itís

not as bad as it was.

David Lynch, 3300 Dutcher Road:  Mr. Lynch read a statement to the ZBA.  He feels the Radicks have

shown a total lack of cooperation.  The Board of Trustees has found that there is a nuisance, which

hasnít been abated.  Mr. Lynch asks the ZBA to deny the variance request.

Hugh Whiting, 6040 W. Coon Lake Road :  Mr. Whiting said thereís been many times that heís been in

his house with the doors and windows closed and the television on, and he can still hear the dogs. 

Kurt Scott, Brighton Township and Schoolcraft County resident:  Mr. Scott said he has a neighbor with

 45 sled dogs on 200-foot lots.  Mr. Scott asked if the debarking works.  Mr. Collier said if the

debarking is done by a competent vet, and done on both sides, the dogs would only make a cough

sound.

John Lowe added that his experience with a neighborís dog that was debarked is that it made a substantial amount

of difference.  Ms. Manson-Dempsey pointed out that a hobby kennel could be done on about 3 acres and the

Radicks have approximately 13 acres. 

Bill Szobonya, attorney representing the Radicks, asked to address some of the issues.  Mr. Szobonya said the tape

that was done regarding the noise may never make it to court because it canít be authenticated.  If it is admissible in

court, all of the tapes the Radicks made would most likely be admissible, which would be substantially less noise than

 what is alleged in the tape by Mr. Lynch.  There are allegations of noise, but there has been no determination that

the alleged nuisance is actually in existence.  The Radicks are going to great extremes and great cost to have the dogs

 debarked.  Regarding some of the issues Mr. Reizen has mentioned, this is the same person whoís complaint stated

that the noise from the dogs had to exceed 55 decibels.  That canít be known without a test being done.  Second, he

 also alleges in his complaint that there were other violations against the Radicks about their animals.  Mr. Szobonya

said there are no other violations.  It is not illegal in Michigan to have a dog debarked.  Mr. Reizen has made

statements on other occasions that arenít really legally sound.  The issue of the barking is over; that will be satisfied

at the Board meeting.  The dogs arenít going to be debarked until the fall, so the neighbors can complain all they

want for the next 2-3 months.  The Radicks arenít going to do it because it canít be done in the summer.  As far as

the number of dogs, these are older dogs that will probably die within the next year or two.  Why is this not a benefit

for the township?  This is a great hobby.  The whole idea of a variance is to allow an exception. 

Mark Reizen, 3210 Dutcher Road:  Mr. Reizen said that kind of attack is unwarranted and itís offensive, but what

Mr. Szobonya just told the ZBA is screw the neighbors, they can listen to the howling throughout the summer.  That

alone should be reason enough to deny the variance.

David Lynch, 3300 Dutcher Road:  Mr. Lynch said he also has a fairly noisy hobby that doesnít keep people up at

3:00 a.m. and he doesnít do it at his home.  Itís done in a controlled environment where it has been approved. 

Mr. Lynch said he likes dogs, but when the issue came up, it had to come to a written complaint because the

Radicks would not admit there was an issue and do something about it. 

Jim Radick:  Mr. Radick said this hobby is a benefit to the community.  Theyíve taken cub scouts to the house for a

demonstration, they take the dogs to the elementary school, theyíve had 4-H groups out, and they do share the

hobby with the community.

Kim Chappel, 2406 Clivedon:  Ms. Chappel is a friend of the Radicksí daughter.  She said the dogs are wonderful

and she doesnít see why five dogs would make a difference.

John Lowe closed the call to the public.

Larry Fillinger asked if by chance the township requested that the dogs be brought back to the 10-dog limit, and

 those dogs were not debarked, what can the township ask them to do to eliminate the noise.  Mike Kehoe said his

recommendation to the township board would be to either start from scratch with the zoning violation process or

simply go back to the previous findings that have been made by the township board depending on the time frame.

He would probably recommend that the township take another look at the ordinance violation process.

John Lowe said he doesnít see a way around the self-created aspectóit obviously was.  The Radicks have made a

substantial improvement toward the welfare of the neighbors through the potential elimination of the noise. 

Mr. Lowe said he doesnít believe itís acceptable to wait two months.  Mr. Lowe suggested that with the dogs

being debarked and a list of the current dogs, there is an agreement set up that no new dogs are taken in until the

Radicks are below the limit of 10 dogs.  Those dogs would be allowed to remain until they die. 

Mike Kehoe said heís heard conflicting statements from two different attorneys and is concerned with

the ZBA taking action on the debarking issue.  He requested the opportunity to check on the legality of

debarking dogs.

Motion

Larry Fillinger motioned to table ZBA Case #5-05 until a special meeting is held on Tuesday, July 19

at 7:30 p.m. , to allow the township attorney to collect additional information and allow time for the

Radicks to obtain instruments to quiet the dogs.  Linda Manson-Dempsey seconded.  Motion carried

5-0.

CALL TO THE PUBLIC

None.

ADJOURNMENT

Dan Rossbach motioned to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 p.m.   Linda Manson-Dempsey seconded. 

Motion carried 5-0.