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                                 MARION TOWNSHIP

                AGENDA and DRAFT MINUTES

                          July 19, 2005                       





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


APPROVAL OF MINUTES FOR:  None              

OLD BUSINESS:  ZBA Case # 05-05 – James P. & Suzanne L. Radick         




                           DRAFT MINUTES

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

MEMBERS ABSENT:                 Dan Rossbach

OTHERS PRESENT:                  Mike Kehoe , Township Attorney

Annette McNamara , Zoning Administrator                                                                                                                  



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


Larry Fillinger motioned to approve the agenda as presented.  Linda Manson-Dempsey seconded.  Motion carried 4-0.


The members of the Zoning Board of Appeals introduced themselves. 



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

John Lowe asked Mr. Radick to update the ZBA. Mr. Radick said he ordered “Super Bark Stop” and

received them today, so he hasn’t had the chance to install them. He hopes this will work for the interim

until the dogs are debarked. Mike Kehoe said he found nothing that prohibits debarking. He spoke

with the Michigan State University veterinary school, and was referred to three vets in the Lansing

area who perform the procedure. They said the procedure is considered cosmetic and is not

inhumane.  John Lowe said his main concern is the two-month interim until the dogs can be debarked.

Larry Fillinger said he felt the Radicks have made an effort to reduce the noise by 1) stockade fence,

2) shock collars, 3) sonic devices, and 4) debarking. 

Linda Manson-Dempsey asked Mr. Radick to confirm the number of dogs.  Mr. Radick said there are

18, three dogs in the house and 15 sled dogs.  Mike Kehoe said the total number of dogs on the

property should be considered, not just the sled dogs.

Call to the Public

Joe Goers, 5920 W. Coon Lake Road :  Mr. Goers said the number of dogs has now gone from 16

to 18.  He asked what will happen if the dogs can’t be debarked. 

Bill Atkinson, 3219 Dutcher Road:  Mr. Atkinson asked the chairman if the ZBA received a copy of

Mr. Reizen’s letter.  Mr. Lowe said yes. 

John Lowe closed the Call to the Public.

Larry Fillinger motioned for ZBA Case #05-05 to relax zoning ordinance Section 8.01 D 3 a, allowing

eight (8) additional dogs, for a total of eighteen (18), over the maximum of ten (10) dogs allowed in the

Hobby Kennel section of the ordinance.

Three conditions to which this variance is being issued include:

1.     The barking/howling will be controlled.  By October 17, Mr. and Mrs. Radick will take steps

to reduce and/or eliminate the noise currently created by the dogs.

 a.        immediate installation of bark-activated sonic devices (Super Bark Stop) to condition the

dogs not to bark

b.                   debarking

c.                   building a sound-proof structure

d.                   shock-collar conditioning


2.                   As the dogs age and their numbers are reduced, the dogs cannot be replaced until the

total number of dogs is less than ten (10).

3.                   On an annual basis, a representative from the township will visit the kennel to view the

conditions of the dogs and kennels to determine satisfactory or unsatisfactory and make sure

 the Radicks are complying with the conditions set forth in the variance request. The

representative, upon request to the Radicks, will be granted the right to inspect the number of

dogs and verify papers of each. In addition, the Radicks will provide the township with 

documentation (name, age, breed, license number) for each dog. 

It has been determined that a practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship exists in Section 5.05 C as


  1. How the strict enforcement of the provisions of the township’s 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


Strict enforcement would cause an unnecessary hardship and deprive the owner of rights enjoyed by other property

owners, this right being the ability to engage in a competitive hobby of their liking, specifically dog sled racing. This

number of dogs is necessary for the pursuit of this hobby.

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

 the same zoning district. 

With the total acreage of this parcel being 12.7 acres, if this parcel were split into two equal sections, more than

 20 dogs could reside on these two parcels.  Also, if a special use permit were issued for a commercial kennel,

more than 20 dogs could reside on this site.

  1. The conditions and circumstances unique to the property were not self-created.  

This situation was self-created.  However, two factors need to be taken into consideration:

 a.      The Radicks have a hobby, dog sled racing.  In order to improve and compete effectively, dogs need to be

replaced with younger, stronger dogs.

b.       The Radicks have proven themselves to be humane.  The older dogs are entitled to live their lives in full upon

retirement.  The township shouldn’t force a family to get rid of dogs because they are too old to compete.

  1. Why the requested variance would not confer special privileges that are denied other properties similarly situated

in the same zoning district. 

Dog sled racing is a unique sport.  With 12.7 acres, in addition to the 10 acres leased behind the Radicks’ home,

 the township is not out of line issuing this variance.  Future cases will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Why the requested variance would not be contrary to the spirit and intent of this zoning ordinance. 

 The necessary acreage of land to house 10 dogs is 3 2/3 acres.  The Radicks have 12.7 acres with an additional

 10 acres adjoining the property.

  1. The difficulties shall not be deemed solely economic. 

 Economics does not play a role in this request.

In addition, the Radicks will provide the township with documentation that the procedure was completed.

Linda Manson-Dempsey seconded.  Roll call vote:  Larry Fillinger, Linda Manson-Dempsey, Jack Lowe, Dan Lowe—

all yes.  Motion carried 4-0.


Linda Manson-Dempsey motioned to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 p.m.   Larry Fillinger seconded.  Motion carried 4-0.