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Planning Commission Meeting Minutes - August 26, 2013

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Fritz at 5:00p.m.

PRESENT AT ROLL CALL: Mr. Bolek, Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Fritz, Mayor Renda, Mr. Stanard
ABSENT: Mr. Janke

Others Present: Dave Strichko, Building Inspector, Aimee Lane, Assistant Law Director, Jeff Filarski, Village Engineer, Sherri Arrietta, Clerk of Council

Mrs. Cooper made a motion seconded by Mayor Renda to approve the minutes of the June 24, 2013 meeting.

AYES: Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Fritz, Mayor Renda, Mr. Stanard
NAYS: None

Bricker Residence
4790 Chagrin River Road
New Dwelling

Mr. Mike Cato, Architect and Mr. William Payne, Project Manager, were present at the meeting on behalf of the Bricker’s. Mr. Cato stated that they are proposing to build a 4,000 sq. ft. house on a wooded lot on Chagrin River Road. There will be a curved driveway, which will keep the house pretty well hidden from view from the street. The client likes the wooded feel of the lot; therefore the plan is to remove as few trees as possible. The house will be 131 feet from the property line, and 43 feet from both side property lines. The septic will be in the rear of the house. Mr. Cato stated that the house will consist of shake shingle horizontal siding as well as stone in order to make it look like a rustic lodge. He stated that they are proposing a front loading garage which is angled to the left. The courtyard style garage was decided upon so that they would not have to extend the driveway around to the back of the house. Mr. Fritz referred to the Engineers notes which stipulate that the driveway is being constructed in the protected hillside zone; however it is unavoidable due to the access from the lot. Mr. Filarski stated that he recommends that the hillside permit be granted because it is a very isolated hillside which will not affect much. Mr. Filarski stated that he has made some notes for the surveyor to look at regarding a revision to the grading. Mayor Renda asked what makes this hill more stable as opposed to others. Mr. Filarski stated that it just meets the 20 foot vertical requirement, which is the lowest a hill can be in the protected hillside zone. He stated that he does not see any future instability issues. Mr. Payne stated that they have hired a geotechnical engineer to guide them as they proceed to ensure the slope is stable. Mr. Strichko stated that there were some notes on the plans from the architect regarding floor joists. Mr. Bolek pointed out that the plan depicts three different roof pitches. Mr. Cato stated that the side roof pitches are 12:10 and the front pitches are 12:12, and the 12:6 roof pitch is on the back of the house and it was purposely kicked out for the master bathroom. Mr. Bolek stated that he feels that overall it appears that there are a lot of different elements smashed together. He stated that if they feel that the 12:6 roof pitch is necessary, then they would have to request a variance since the code only allows two roof pitches. Mr. Bolek suggested that they reassess the roof lines to refine the look of the house more.

A motion was made by Mr. Bolek seconded Mayor Renda to approve the new dwelling located at 4790 Chagrin River Road with the stipulation that they adhere to the Village Architect’s notes, receive Engineering approval, and that they modify the plans to adhere to the code which only allows two different roof pitches.

AYES: Mr. Bolek, Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Fritz, Mayor Renda, Mr. Stanard
NAYS: None

Mrs. Cathy Christopher
20 Park Lane
Barn Addition/existing

No one was present on behalf of Mrs. Christopher.

Ed Gottschalk
38550 Jackson Road
Patio & Second Floor Addition

Ed Gottschalk, homeowner, was present at the meeting. He stated that he is proposing to replace an existing deck with a patio and to put a small addition on the second floor of the house. He will be using the same footprint of the deck for the patio. The addition will be extending an existing dormer off the back of the house, with the intention to open it up to gain more sunlight by using a gazebo style dormer, which would match an existing dormer off the kitchen dinette area on the first floor. The existing roof line of the dormer extends out over the house and this addition will extend another 2 ft. beyond that over a covered porch. Mr. Fritz asked if this will be heavier than the existing dormer and if there are supports underneath it. Mr. Gottschalk stated that there are supports directly underneath. Mr. Strichko stated that he would require more detailed drawings regarding the support system. He stated that since the crawl section under the addition is open air underneath, it must meet energy compliance. Mr. Filarski stated that a structural drawing needs to be submitted for the fireplace as well. He stated that he would want to review and approve the drainage on site.

Mr. Fritz made a motion seconded by Mrs. Cooper to approve the patio, second floor addition, and fireplace located at 38550 Jackson Road, subject to the resubmittal and approval of detailed drawings being provided for all of the above, with no significant changes suggested by the Village Architect, with the understanding that if there are significant changes, the applicant will have to appear before the Planning Commission again, and also allowing for the construction in the riparian and hillside zone, with the understanding that the owner is releasing the Village from any future liability regarding slope, stability, and issues that would be encountered as a result of the hillside construction.

AYES: Mr. Bolek, Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Fritz, Mayor Renda, Mr. Stanard
NAYS: None

Bob Flesher
269 Bentleyville Road
Lot Splits-Preliminary Discussion

Mr. Bob Flesher owner of Mr. Excavator and property owner was present at the meeting. He stated that he is proposing a lot split in order to develop an 18 acre parcel of land that is located in both Moreland Hills and Chagrin Falls. The intention is to create 5 sublots which will still leave a substantial portion of land in its current natural state. Mr. Flesher stated he is proposing to use 10 or 11 of the 18 acres. Mr. Filarski stated that some of the issues outlined in his letter may change since the plans that he had are different than the ones the Mr. Flesher submitted. Mr. Fritz clarified that Mr. Flesher’s goal is to come up with a lot split configuration that complies to the area, but may not comply with other requirements. He stated that his goal in providing more detailed drawings will be to largely comply with the area, frontage, setback, and depth to width requirements of the Village of Moreland Hills. Mr. Fritz asked Mr. Flesher to clarify what is meant by “largely comply.” Mr. Flesher stated that without having his engineer spend time on them, he is confident that he can meet those requirements in their entirety. He stated that there will be correct dimensions when he moves forward with completed drawings.

Mr. Flesher stated that the 5 sublots would utilize frontage on Bentleyville Road and West Orange Street in Chagrin Falls. He stated that due to certain topographical and conditions of the property, he would seek to utilize a private common drive that would be covered by easements to the homeowners, through the property lines that would provide both access and maintenance governed by a homeowner’s association for the five sublot owners of the common drive. The driveway would be located mostly where there is currently an existing house on the property which is sublot 4. He stated that they are proposing to take the driveway further to the northeast to the neighbor’s property line and then building in a 250 radius turn, which will bring it down to the lower elevations of the property, and would hair pin back toward the sublots where each of the lots would get their own access drive. Mr. Fritz asked if Mr. Flesher has given any consideration to the existing homeowners on Bentleyville whose rear properties go that same direction that the re-route of the drive would go. Mr. Flesher stated he has considered many different ways to go about this project, from public roadway which would be more infrastructure to install but would have more building lots, to the plan before this Board tonight which is built to a standard acceptable to the Village and has a lasting characteristic to it, but the maintenance would be the responsible of the sublot owners.

Mayor Renda stated that a recent revision to the Village’s Zoning Code no longer allows private drives, which would require a variance if that is what is being proposed. Mr. Flesher stated that currently there are easements for the three sublots that he owns in Moreland Hills off of that driveway. He stated that he is looking to use the same access to get into the property to facilitate development of these lots, if they were to be left the way they currently are. Mrs. Lane stated that if the easements were to remain the same then Mr. Flesher may have an argument but since they are going to change it will be entirely different. Mr. Flesher stated that he is here to try to determine the obstacles and to find a way overcome them in order to achieve this proposed project. Mrs. Lane stated that a variance would be the cleanest way to go about it, however, if the lots are going to change it is going to be an issue. Mr. Bolek explained the need to demonstrate hardship in order to be granted a variance. Mr. Flesher stated that he is just reconfiguring the boundaries and if that requires a variance then he would request it. He stated that he did not consume all Moreland Hills frontage on the lots that they own in order to depict the 5 sublots, so there is 120 feet of frontage that can be used to help create adequate frontage and boundaries for the 5 sublots. Mr. Flesher stated that sublots 4 and 5 are Chagrin Falls addresses, however he is trying to look at it in terms of the use of the entire property. The original idea was to create up to 20 sublots, however he stated that he is trying to make this a winning opportunity for everyone and that is why he would like to dedicate about 8 acres of the land to the WRLC. He stated that he believes that the sublots would be divided with public utilities including; electricity, gas, water, and sewer, which are all available on Bentleyville Road. Mr. Flesher stated that if sewer were not made available through Chagrin Falls, he would explore having the sublots tested by the county or a soil engineer for septic and then look at the available systems, however, it would be his goal to use municipal sewer. Mr. Filarski stated that with this proposed layout, the only way to go would be with sewer because you would not want to introduce all that water on the hillside. He stated that Chagrin Falls has a sewer on Bentleyville Road, so it would be accessible via pumping.

Mr. Fritz asked about the presence of Geeberg soils in that area. Mr. Flesher stated that the soils have been tested along the existing driveway as well as the area between Mrs. Goldman’s property and West Orange Street and Geeberg soils were not found in either location. He stated that Geeberg soil is only a top layer of the soil and therefore what is below it is more important in terms of stability. Mr. Filarski stated that the reason the Village has that restriction is because any location that has had failure has had one common denominator; the presence of Geeberg soils. He stated if you are building a house on the hillside, you are building on and disturbing the upper portion. Mr. Flesher stated that he is not proposing construction on the hillside. Mr. Filarski stated that sublots 4 & 5 are right on the slope. Mr. Flesher stated that those two sublots are not in Moreland Hills. Mr. Filarski stated that the hillside and the grade of the drive from an emergency standpoint are both huge issues. Mr. Fritz asked if there are Geeberg soils on the hillside. Mr. Flesher stated that he has not had that tested yet. Mr. Fritz asked about sublots 1 and 2 having wetlands on them. Mr. Flesher stated that he had a wetlands study on the property about 6 or 7 years ago, and identified categories. He stated that that area is a category 2, but if the study needs to be updated, he is willing to do so. Mayor Renda stated that Mr. Flesher is going to have a hard time with the 10% grade of the drive in order to bring it up to the same standard as every other road in the Village. Mr. Flesher stated that he will hire a geotechnical firm to do that work in order to meet those requirements. Mrs. Cooper asked if it would be a public road, which would require a variance. Mayor Renda stated that she is unsure whether he could get that variance because it is not allowed. Mr. Flesher stated that even though it is not in the code as it is re-written; there have been instances where the Village has granted a variance for a private drive, specifically the Israel property. Mr. Filarski stated that he believes the difference with the Israel property and what he is requesting are the number of lots; the Israels had 3 as opposed to the 5 that he is requesting.

Mr. Stanard asked what responsibility and/or jurisdiction the Village has to approve or disapprove plans for sublots 4 and 5, since they are predominately in Chagrin Falls. Mrs. Lane stated that she would have to look further into that; however she believes that Mr. Flesher would have to go to both communities for approval. She stated that this body can consider it globally, but it would be subject to Chagrin Falls approval. Mr. Flesher stated that Chagrin Falls has the same drawings that were submitted to this Board. Mrs. Lane stated that she would recommend any approval of a private drive be conditioned upon our department reviewing the easement and homeowner association documents in order to ensure that maintenance responsibilities and other items are adequately taken care of. Mr. Flesher agreed to that.

Mr. Flesher asked what would be needed from him to proceed further. Mr. Fritz stated that they would need the reconfiguration of the lots as to the size and the criteria being met or not for Section 1151.05, as well as detailed information on the proposed roadway. Mr. Filarski stated that he would like to see the grading plan for the driveway. Mr. Flesher offered any Council member interested to come and walk the site.

Vogelbaum-Rosman Residence
40 North Strawberry Lane
Solar Panels

Dr. Michael Vogelbaum and Mrs. Judy Rosman-Vogelbaum, homeowners, were present at the meeting. Mr. Fritz stated that they will be seeking a conditional use certificate and the procedure is upon a recommendation from this Board which will then be forwarded to Council. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that they are proposing to put a solar energy system on the roof only; they do not want to have a ground system due to lack of yard space. He stated that they would like to maximize the output based upon location of the house and its orientation to the sun. Their solar company, Astrum, is the largest company and is a multi-state operation based on the east coast and is currently extending into Pennsylvania and Ohio. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the best location on their house is on the garage, which is facing south. He stated that there will also be panels on the back of the house; however they are limited on space because some roof cuts create shadows. The panels on the garage will create much more energy than the panels in the back even though there are half as many panels. Mr. Fritz stated that the engineer is requesting sister rafters on surfaces 2 & 4 on the drawing, which is the gable on the rear of the home. Mr. Stanard stated that the area can be accessed through the attic to add the additional rafters. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that he would have to confirm the accessibility with the builder, and if they are not accessible, then they would not be able to use those surfaces for solar panels.

Mrs. Lane informed Dr. & Mrs. Vogelbaum of the conditional use process. She stated that there are criteria in the code, both general and specific. The general criteria requires that four items be analyzed:
  • The conditional use will be designed, constructed operated and maintained so as to be harmonious and appropriate with the prevailing, existing, or intended character of the general vicinity;
  • The establishment, maintenance or operation of the conditional use will not endanger the public health, safety, or general welfare;
  • The establishment of the conditional use in the proposed location will not impede the normal and orderly development and improvement of the surrounding property for uses permitted in the district; and,
  • The surrounding uses permitted by right will be minimally impacted in the future that may be incompatible with the proposed conditional use.

Mrs. Lane stated that the specific criteria requires the following:
  • The panels are to be placed on the portion of the roof so they are not visible from any street or sidewalk on the front of the property
  • The panels should not extend beyond the edge of the roof
  • The panels are to be placed parallel to and if possible, or the extent practicable, mounted flush with the plane of the roof

If these requirements cannot be met, there is a second process under the new code regarding alternative locations. In this instant, the second set of criteria will apply to the proposed panels on the garage, surfaces 1 and 3; “panels can only be required in an alternative location if the applicant is able to show these four items:
  • That the alternative location will produce substantially more electricity than locations in compliance with our general rule
  • That alternative locations in compliance have been adequately evaluated and the applicant has shown that the alternative locations create an undue hardship
  • That the proposed panels and their location are designed to minimize any adverse impacts to the neighborhood
  • The size and location of any structure is the minimum necessary to serve the needs of the building on the property.

Mrs. Lane stated that the recommendation to Council needs to be an approval, an approval with conditions, or a denial. Mr. Fritz asked Dr. & Mrs. Vogelbaum if the panels that can be visible from the street produce substantially more electricity. Dr. Vogelbaum stated they yield 80% more than just the panels on the back of the house alone do. Mr. Fritz stated that his understanding is that all alternative locations do not get an adequate amount of sunlight to be feasible. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the only other roof services that they have are on the opposite side of the garage and the front of the house which would both face the street and which are completely shaded at all times. Mr. Fritz asked about adverse impact on the neighborhood in terms of harmony and aesthetics. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the garage is side facing, so with the angle and the tall trees, there is a pretty narrow view of it from the street. He stated that the view from across the street is of the side gable of the garage and there are trees that screen their house from the neighbors next door, although they both have a view of each other’s garage.

Mayor Renda asked about the color of the shingles on the house and the color of the panels. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the shingles are dark grey and the panels are the same in color. He stated that there is not much of a choice as far as panel color. Mayor Renda asked about glare from the panels. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the technology of the panels is such that there is no glare and it would be too high up to affect anyone if there were.

Mr. Bolek stated that while believes that the first criteria is satisfied, he is not convinced that the second criteria as been, which is to prove that all alternative locations have been adequately evaluated. He stated that they mentioned certain areas being shaded; however, there is no indication it has been demonstrated that putting panels there would increase the output. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the company comes out and evaluates that. Mr. Bolek stated that what he is getting at is that there is no data in the submittal that supports that. Mrs. Rosman stated they have been through this with numerous contractors who have all said the same thing. Mr. Bolek reiterated that the data has not been presented supporting that. He stated that he is not convinced that an 80% increase is necessary which may compromise someone’s view that is not consistent with the neighborhood. Mr. Bolek stated that he wants to make sure, that based on the Village’s ordinance, that everything else is satisfied before a variance is considered and he does not believe that this board has all the data to make that decision.

Mr. Stanard stated that he thinks it is important to consider that having less square footage of panels in a valuable spot creating more energy than more square feet in a spot that is unseen but is not doing as much. Mr. Fritz stated that the code permits the panels in the back. Mr. Stanard stated that he believes that this board can recommend approval with conditions to Council. Mr. Stanard stated that he would be in favor of recommending it to Council with the conditions of satisfying the neighbors and guaranteeing the maintenance of the panels.

Mrs. Cooper asked about the panels in the back where the additional structural support is required and whether the placement of the panels is going to change if they are unable to add the additional structural support. Dr. Vogelbaum stated that the engineer did not think that it would be an issue, but he stated that he has to investigate that further as to what it entails.

Mr. Bolek stated that he is not in agreement with Mr. Stanard’s suggestion of a recommendation to Council. He stated that it should not be moved to Council until the additional criteria are brought forth. Mayor Renda asked Mr. Bolek if he would be willing to forward it to Council with the request that they provide data that answers the Planning Commission’s questions. A discussion ensued. It was determined that the Planning Commission should make the decision based on all the facts presented so that when it is recommended to Council, there is data and reasoning behind the decision since Council has to rely on the findings of the Planning Commission.

Dr. and Mrs. Vogelbaum were advised to come before the Planning Commission next month and provide information about the additional surfaces on the back of the house and yard, the information about the additional support on the roof and if it is not possible, then an alternate plan showing the number of panels it would be reduced to, clarification of the snow load, and support from the neighbors.

Mr. Fritz made a motion seconded by Mrs. Cooper to continue the discussion of the conditional use recommendation to Council for the installation of solar panels located at 40 North Strawberry Lane at the September Planning meeting.

AYES: Mr. Bolek, Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Fritz, Mayor Renda, Mr. Stanard
NAYS: None

Mr. Strichko asked if he would be able to present item #2 on behalf of Mrs. Christopher. He explained that he may not have properly conveyed to her that she needed to be present and would not want her to have to wait another month because of his failure to let her know. It was determined that Mrs. Christopher is in need of a variance and would therefore have to come before BZA.

Mr. Bolek stated that the Planning Commission should be sure to carefully consider all parameters as it relates to the lot split on Bentleyville and the solar panels. He stated that it is our interest to provide opportunities for residents do to what they would like to do but this board needs to be sure that they are considering everything before making a decision. Mr. Fritz agreed and stated that Mr. Bolek made him refocus his thinking along the lines of waiting for this board to be satisfied before moving decisions on to another board. Mr. Bolek asked if they could have a work session in order to educate the members more on what needs to be determined for the lot split on Bentleyville. Mr. Filarski stated that he would be happy to provide information regarding the lot split and Mr. Flesher’s previous proposal for that area. Mayor Renda stated that Mrs. Arrietta will email everyone to try to determine a date.

Mayor Renda made a motion seconded by Mr. Bolek to adjourn the meeting at 7:27pm.

AYES: Mr. Bolek, Mrs. Cooper, Mr. Fritz, Mayor Renda, Mr. Stanard
NAYS: None

Respectfully Submitted,
Sherri Arrietta, Clerk of Council

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