Morenci zoning appeals board rejects variance request 2009.09.23

Written by David Green.

Morenci’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously Monday against a variance request regarding property line setbacks.

Property owner Joel Morrison of Addison sought a variance for property he owns at the corner of N. Summit and Wilson streets where a house burned several years ago.

The 51 by 120 foot lot fails to meet the minimum size of 7,500 square feet and the minimum width of 66 feet for residential construction.

The board’s vote will leave the property as a non-conforming lot unsuitable for construction of a house.

Four members of the public spoke against the variance.

Esther Gilbert and her sister, Barb Vallieu—co-owners with their brother of the Hart property north of the lot—both stated that building on the vacant property would not improve the neighborhood.

“I think the lot is way too small,” Gilbert said. “I don’t think anything could be built there that would make the neighborhood look good.”

Vallieu also mentioned a problem at the lot where a portion of the old foundation caved in last summer following a heavy rain.

Michael Miller, who lives south of the property, said he wants to see the community grow, but he questions the ability to build on such a small lot.

Wilson Street resident Steve Clegg also questioned whether a house could be built on such narrow property.

Board member Greg Braun said it would take a shotgun-style house like those in New Orleans, and that wouldn’t conform with the neighborhood.

Morrison told the board he isn’t planning to build on the lot, but he wants to sell it as a buildable lot. He said he was encouraged by an opinion from the late residential zoning administrator Jack Baird who gave a suggestion on how it might work with a variance.

“If it’s deemed unbuildable,” he said, “I guess it’s going to have a ‘for sale’ sign forever. I don’t mean to upset the community, but if it’s not buildable, I guess I just wasted 10 years of footwork.”

Board member Ernie Schultz asked the owners of the Hart property if they were interested in buying the lot and also if they were interest in selling a portion of their lot to make Morrison’s property larger. Gilbert said she wasn’t interested in either proposition.

Braun and Schultz were joined by Al Acuña, Don Merillat and Art Erbskorn in opposing the variance request.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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