Niles Twp. officials field zoning complaint

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Niles Township man pleaded his case in front of the township’s board of trustees Monday night after his request to build a pole barn on his property was denied by the township’s zoning board of appeals.

Don Swartz, who lives at 3021 Adams Road, said he wants to build a 40-by-72 foot structure on his 3 1/2-acre property in order to store a 42-foot recreational vehicle.

The problem, he said, is that the accessory building would be larger than what is permitted in the township’s zoning ordinance for a lot his size.

Swartz applied for a variance, but it was denied last month by the township’s five-member zoning board of appeals.

Swartz said he believes he should be allowed to build the structure and asked the board of trustees to consider changing the ordinance in the future.

“I don’t want to tarp it (the RV) — I want it to look nice,” he said, adding that he would either have to keep it parked outside or find another place to store it. “My backyard is open… it (the pole barn) would not crowd my property.”

Supervisor Jim Stover said the board is taking Swartz’ concern seriously and that they would take a hard look at seeing if changes are needed to the zoning ordinance regarding accessory buildings.

Township officials, he said, are in the process of drafting a new zoning ordinance that could be adopted before the end of the year.

“The proposed draft of the zoning ordinance… is going back to the planning commission to address the area of accessory buildings,” Stover said.

A draft of the new proposed zoning ordinance can be found on the township’s website ( or at town hall, 320 Bell Rd. in Niles.

The zoning board of appeals is made up of John Vandyke, Dan Smothermon, Lee Hoffman, James Ellis and Marge Durm-Hiatt.

Peg Hartman, zoning administrator, explained that the board of appeals had no choice but to deny the variance request because the property owner did not present reasonable evidence that all of the conditions had been met required for the board to grant a variance as spelled out in the township’s zoning ordinance.

“An applicant must meet all of the standards,” she said.

Also Monday, the township board:

• Tabled the first reading of a new zoning ordinance in order to get more information about rules governing accessory buildings.

• Tabled a motion to remove two dead trees on Lewis Drive in order to get quotes from local companies.

• Hired three new volunteer firefighters: Alex Smith, Devon Brubaker and Tom Maxwell.

• Approved the repair of a portion of the north fire station roof for a sum not to exceed $10,000.

• Announced that the township would be flushing hydrants next week.