WORK STUDY SESSION OF THE COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF NOVI
WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 1997 - 7:30 P.M.
ACTIVITIES ROOM - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 7:33 P.M.
ROLL CALL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor Pro Tem Crawford, Council Members Clark, Kramer, Mitzel (arrived 9:05 p.m.), Mutch, Schmid (absent/excused)
ALSO PRESENT: City Attorney David Fried, Assistant City Attorney Dennis Watson
Georgeann Crist - 25489 Birchwoods Dr., is a member of the Birchwoods Homeowner’s
Association and she expressed their concern regarding the proposed text change to the RUD Ordinance. Ms. Crist reported she has resided in Novi since 1986 and has been actively involved in the development of the community. She advised she participated in stopping the Grand Plan and the construction of the store on the Ten Mile and Grand River. She perceives the traffic flow in Novi as increasing dramatically since she moved here and she is concerned about what will happen if the developer decides to increase the number of homes in the area near her home rather than what was originally intended on the master plan. She believes the traffic flow will increase by at least 1,800 vehicles with the developer’s proposal of 900 additional homes.
PURPOSE OF WORK STUDY SESSION - Proposed RUD Zoning Ordinance Amendment Review
Mayor McLallen reported their task is to write a clear, flexible and environmentally sound RUD.
1. Proposed RUD Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment No. 97-18.131 Review
Rod Arroyo stated he would like to give a shortened version of the seminar they presented to the Planning Commission about open space planning. He reported it was a slide show based presentation and at the request of Jim Wahl, they converted the slides to boards with the idea that might be more usable.
Mr. Arroyo stated the intent of his presentation is to discuss what open space planning is, what they intend it to do in terms of the ordinance and then present a brief overview of the current RUD Ordinance.
Mr. Arroyo explained one primary reason behind the more modern movement toward open space planning came out of the desire to preserve farm land. He noted they based many studies from the late 1980's out of Connecticut because there was concern about the loss of farm land. They asked what could farmers do to allow some level of development while still being able to farm their land. The idea of open space planning began at that level in the form that is seen today. According to Mr. Arroyo, what has now happened is the original concept to preserve farm land has been expanded to the concept of conserving other features such as wetlands, streams, and unbuildable soils. Further, there are other important features on a site that they might consider to be secondary to the primary features, but are still relatively important. He explained by permitting flexibility in lot sizes, they can achieve preservation where they otherwise could not.
Mr. Arroyo reported the key issue raised at Council's Monday meeting was the concept of private versus public open space. Mr. Arroyo then explained the different types of development as they appeared on the presentation boards. For conventional large lot development he advised the open space is featured within the yards. He added, because this space is not available for others to use, they do not have much opportunity to preserve unique features and habitats. He reported open space planning provides a more concentrated area of development and a larger open area around it with more public open spaces. He added "public" does not necessarily mean that it is assessable to the public; it may mean that it is only assessable to the homeowners on the particular piece of property. He added, although the land may have certain restrictions, the open land will have a different feel and characteristic from a major road than a conventional large lot subdivision.
Mr. Arroyo reported another key issue is density versus lot size. He explained regulations that are based on lot size only will offer the scenario of a lot of private open space. Mr. Arroyo stated if their goal is to only have a minimized lot size, they will see properties carved up into large lots with a minimum preserved. However, if they have regulations that are based on density, they will have an overall maximum density cap. To achieve that they must have flexibility so they can modify the lot sizes to preserve certain natural features and at the same time not provide any more lots than they would if they developed under a more conventional development scenario.
Mr. Arroyo stated proponents of open space planning believe communities should not let the zoning ordinance triumph over their master plan. He explained the master plan might have many important objectives about preserving open spaces, but the rigidity of the zoning ordinance can make it so that it becomes the overriding feature and they never get what they want from the master plan. He noted Novi has a very flexible master plan and they primarily base it upon density. He explained although they have established density caps, they do not get into details about lot sizes. He further added the zoning ordinance is what controls lot sizes.
Mr. Arroyo began by explaining what constitutes Original Agricultural Development. He stated the drawing depicts an interstate highway near a 108-acre produce farm with a combination of woodlands, fields and a large river. He said this is what they would see in a conventional development under a standard zoning ordinance without much flexibility. He noted there is a main road that is surrounded by either one, two or half acre lots. Although this is effectively large lot zoning, a motorist would view this as a subdivision because there are not a lot of open spaces. Mr. Arroyo noted large lot development puts the control of the open space within the individual landowner's hands. Secondly, there is much concern about how that open space gets public and how it might be used. Because they are consuming much of the land’s features, they will have intrusions throughout the individual homes, they will have more streets to maintain, it will cost more to build a subdivision because there will be more utilities to extend and if the streets become public, there will be more of a burden placed on the whole street system.
In contrast, Mr. Arroyo stated although cluster open space development has the same number of units and a combination of various housing types, the character of the large amount of common open space gives it a rural appearance from the road. Mr. Arroyo noted two key issues of this process are to try to make it so some open space is fronted upon the major roadways and to provide a mix of character.
Mr. Arroyo presented an example of a 70 acre site with a wooded area in a typical development "before" plan. The development plan shows what might happen if they took the 70 acres and developed it into 36 lots. He reported they would consume approximately 80% of the site with development because they would only preserve the stream, hybrid soils and some more intense wooded areas. He reported they only look at secondary conservation areas under the evaluation of the open space planning principles and noted they may not list them in the master plan for being critical to preserve. He cited an historic farm house as an
example of something that might not be considered for preservation. Mr. Arroyo advised that the open space planning design permits developers to modify the lot size to get the same number of units on smaller lots and provide more preservation. Consequently, instead of developing 80% of the site, they would have only developed 47%.
Mr. Arroyo briefly reviewed what the current RUD Ordinance provides for. He reported the RUD's intent is to permit development flexibility in all the residential single family districts and provide flexible residential patterns. He explained the ordinance currently permits one family detached residential, one family cluster residential, churches, noncommercial golf courses, schools and parks; the eligible zoning is RA and R1-4. Site qualifications require a 40 acre minimum with a 330 foot minimum interior perimeter that must meet conventional zoning standards. Mr. Arroyo noted there has already been much discussion about the 330 foot minimum interior perimeter provision because they cannot apply the flexible lot line applications within the 330 foot perimeter. He added if they apply the 330 foot perimeter to the 40 acres, it only leaves approximately 10 acres to which they can actually apply RUD standards. The conditions under this zoning are: they specify no minimum lot size, they must meet minimum yard area requirements of underlying zoning, they do not include exterior subaqueous or submerged swamp lands, non-residential areas, road rights-of-way in density calculations, they include woodlands, water bodies (lakes and ponds), internal roads in density calculations, there is a two-year period for final plat or final site plan approval with city discretion for extensions, conditions of approval are enforceable through a written contract between the developer and the city. Other RUD options are: they do not require bonafide plans, density must meet overall density by district and although improvements for an entire site must be installed simultaneously, they permit phasing of dwelling units.
Councilman Kramer asked why must the minimum yard areas for underlying zoning be met. Mr. Arroyo replied those are the minimum setback requirements for each lot.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if that is practical. Mr. Arroyo believes it presents some difficulties when they try to reduce lot sizes.
Councilman Kramer believes they need another mechanism and suggested a provision for underlying zoning for the classification of the lot.
Jim Wahl reported the information they have provided is a result of Council's request from their November 2, 1996 meeting. He advised they researched how this kind of planning is going on in other communities and how they have applied it to Novi. Mr. Wahl believes Mr. Arroyo has given Council an overview of their research.
Mr. Arroyo added they did not review specific zoning issues; they concentrated on a wider range of philosophical issues. He advised their conclusion was that if they are looking for the rural atmosphere of large expanses of property devoted to undeveloped areas and natural area such as woodlands, wetlands and wildlife preserves, that open space planning is generally respected as the way to achieve that. This is not to suggest that someone cannot construct a fence around 10 acres, but the general experience around the country is that the natural areas and wildlife preserves are better accomplished through more common ownership of the spaces.
Mr. Wahl stated open space planning areas can be found in Farmington Hills and he noted Novi attempted to accomplish this in their Rhythms Trail System. He thinks the lesson learned was that it was not a bad idea in terms of open space connecting pathways, but people were suggesting that they did not want a public system owned by the city; they preferred that it be more private. Mr. Wahl believes open space planning provides that option because it is not a city oriented system; it is private and owned by the community. Mr. Wahl also believes open space planning in this type of zoning approach and accomplishing that goal is something they can work for, but it cannot happen through public ownership. He noted one conclusion from the 20/20 Visioning was that the community is still looking to have a rural environment in Novi. He reported their professional opinion is that the way best to accomplish this objective is through open space planning.
Mayor McLallen stated the issue before Council is to take this information and decide how they can put it into a workable ordinance. She asked each Council member to take no more than five minutes and place their issues on the table so they can work those issues into the document and develop an ordinance that is acceptable to everyone. She then noted this is an option to be used as a planning tool. Further, it will be site specific if they ever apply it and they will apply it only with the concurrence of Council. She said they are finding that the demand of the land left to be developed is very significant and has many interesting features that current conventional and more rigid development options are self-defeating to the stated community goals. She believes their challenge is to see how they can move forward to achieve their goals by putting in place a more flexible ordinance.
Councilman Clark asked what was the acreage for the three examples. Mr. Arroyo replied they were approximately 200 acres with 150 lots and some commercial development. He added the lots were between two and one half acres.
Councilman Clark asked if they considered wetlands and woodlands in their examples. Mr. Arroyo replied they did consider those features.
Councilman Clark stated there was a comment made that if they were to have a 40 acre site, only 10 acres would be considered under the current RUD. He suggested they increase the acreage to 100 acres, instead of reducing the size to 25 acres in terms of density and lot size.
Mr. Arroyo stated the concern from his perspective is the 330 foot interior perimeter. He explained this site qualification dictates that the area around the property after it has the frontage on the exterior roads has to be developed according to conventional ordinances. Consequently, if they have RA, they will have one acre lots there and the development along roadways will look more like conventional development. He added if they reduce the buffer down to a more reasonable size and allow for the flexible zoning techniques to develop after the buffer area, they can then provide for open space next to the roadways. Further, if they maintain a 330 ' area around the property that is conventional, chances are it will be eaten up by large lots and there will be little open space as motorists drive by. He believes the real issue is the 330 foot requirement.
Councilman Clark asked if they would still have the same situation even if they reduced the 330 foot requirement. He explained people on one or two acre lots will have a lot of property behind their houses and there will still be a great distance from the road. Mr. Arroyo replied it would depend upon if they apply the 330 foot perimeter. He noted the 330 foot perimeter is not a greenspace perimeter.
Councilman Clark's other concern is about the loss of security, private property rights and privacy.
Councilman Kramer believes they need to set priorities about how they need to direct things. He believes they need a common understanding of density and how they want to flex that. He thinks there is a difference of opinion in vision. Councilman Kramer stated the RUD should allow more mix and they need to discuss how much. He thinks they are doing themselves a disservice if they went to a total open space plan from what they perceived as a totally conventional layout. Councilman Kramer believes they should clearly state their intent and how much of a vision of basic underlying zoning they want to preserve within an RUD development. He also believes they need to decide how much of the open space planning concept they want to support. Councilman Kramer does not view this ordinance as open space planning. He believes it permits an open space plan that has part of the total concept. Further, Councilman Kramer believes it is important to recognize in all their discussions that they are not looking at an increase in the master plan density. He also believes any RUD should be permissible, but it should not be an entitlement. Finally, Councilman Kramer stated the first question they need to get beyond is the density calculation in terms of waterways and wetlands before they can move forward. He asked what was the original rationale to include woodlands and waterbodies in the RUD underlying density calculation.
Mr. Arroyo does not know the history about why they provided that in the RUD Ordinance. He does know that after preparing the various residential development options that there is variation in a number of different things that they give credit for and what they do not give credit for. He said it was likely there was an intent to accomplish different things with the options, but he added he was not involved with that.
Councilman Kramer would like some discussion to reaffirm of the logic of the density calculation or determine if there reason to change it.
Mayor ProTem Crawford believes the difference between a typical RA and an RUD is that when they developed the ordinances a typical RA did not have to address the features of the land. He believes they included it in an RUD Ordinance because they anticipated the need for flexibility and difficult to develop lands. Mayor ProTem Crawford believes the main issue is about density; he would prefer to stay near the master plan projection.
Mr. Arroyo said the intent was not to permit more dwelling units.
Mayor ProTem Crawford agreed and added the traffic trips and number of dwelling units would remain the same; the difference is how they lay them out on the land. Mayor ProTem Crawford is pleased that the staff, consultants and Planning Commission have spent hours on this to provide a revision of a document that needed revision. Further, there are heavily wooded and wetland areas in western Novi that are unlike other developments. Consequently, they want an ordinance to provide flexibility for the city and the landowner. Mayor ProTem Crawford does not necessarily want to address the ordinance line by line. He suggested that they rely on those issues raised by the public, staff, consultants and Council.
Councilwoman Mutch believes cluster open space development seems more likely to maintain habitats.
Councilwoman Mutch overheard that citizens were concerned that the proposed trail system was controlled and government operated, and worse yet, that they imposed it. She believes the biggest outcry was about the imposition on already developed areas. Therefore, she suggested they install trails before they construct homes.
Mr. Arroyo heard one issue was that they designed the trails so people could travel from one subdivision to another through the trails. He believes they could design it so there is more internal control.
Additionally, Councilwoman Mutch stated there was a comment made that although the cluster open space development would accomplish a rural look, that it would also create a security problem. It seems to Councilwoman Mutch that this would only occur if it were publicly owned because if it is privately owned, they can determine the level of security that they want. Further, the more exclusive a subdivision is, the more likely they will find higher security levels. She does not think security and privacy issues are necessarily the same when they are taking it out of a government imposed system and putting it into something that people are clearly buying.
Councilwoman Mutch agrees this ordinance is a planning tool and provides some flexibility. She also agrees all options are permissible, but not mandated or considered an entitlement and that RUD plans should be considered on a merit basis. Councilwoman Mutch said the master plan density was predicated on an overall density of the city and yet, they more densely develop certain areas than others.
Mr. Arroyo stated the master plan has a density plan that specifies mass densities per area.
Councilwoman Mutch asked when they talk about density, should they distinguish between what density they expect for that area or the overall city density. Mr. Arroyo replied the ordinance would require that they meet the density for that particular area. He noted they cannot exceed the overriding master plan density for the area.
Councilwoman Mutch asked how would the density calculations differ between an undeveloped 640-acre section versus one that is already half developed. Mr. Arroyo replied if the developer has 30 acres, they would apply 0.8 and it is based upon the amount of land.
Councilwoman Mutch stated then it is not the existing density, but it is the maximum allowable. Consequently, whatever the density is for one developer will not affect what the next developer can do in terms of density. Mr. Arroyo agreed and added they tie what the zoning district calls for to the master plan.
Councilwoman Mutch is supportive of preserving secondary conservation areas. Councilwoman Mutch reminded Council although they have a woodland ordinance, they are sometimes buildable.
Mr. Arroyo noted they can have intrusion into the woodlands or wetlands if they meet the
permit requirements. He believes flexibility can provide 100% preservation for some of these features.
Councilwoman Mutch stated one advantage of the RUD is the fact that it is a contract. Consequently, they can provide for preservation in the contract.
Mr. Arroyo agreed there is more strength to provide for preservation in a contract.
Councilwoman Mutch asked how did the lake credit remain intact in the RUD Ordinance. Mr. Arroyo noted there are not that many lakes in the city of Novi that are not already developed. He suggested that at the time they drafted it, lakes were considered an amenity and they allowed a credit for it.
Councilwoman Mutch stated as a taxpayer, she thinks the flexibility allows development that can provide a similar number of homes, but allows for less infrastructure. She added she is not certain whether it is proportional. She explained the assessment for a piece of property may be the same, but the cost to the taxpayers is quite different in terms of maintenance.
Mayor McLallen believes the consensus is that the density in the current ordinance will not override underlying zoning. She does not believe there has been any discussion about changing any underlying density.
Mayor McLallen asked if they remove land from a development that is not of residential use (i.e., golfcourse), can they deduct that number from the overall density. Mr. Arroyo replied it is his understanding that the density proposals in the master plan are based on gross area and they do not include deductions made for certain environmentally sensitive areas. He added because it is a general plan, they do not consider specific sites.
Mayor McLallen said then theoretically, because they will tie this type of development to the specific underlying zoning, the overall density may actually be lower than what they project.
Mr. Arroyo believes overall density will likely be lower than what the master plan calls for.
Mayor McLallen stated this type of ordinance will not increase the city’s density in any way. Further, she views this option as an ordinance that will allow specific sites to be developed in harmony with the long stated community goals where conventional methods are not achieving what they thought they would. She explained one acre site may be satisfy the needs of one owner, but they are not creating the visual design the whole community would like nor do they address the needs of an environmentally sensitive area. She believes this is something that will provide a specific process to address a specific piece of land in achieving their goals. She also believes they can probably achieve the view quarters and environmental goals with this ordinance.
Mayor McLallen added according to the minimum yard requirements and if they say there is no minimum lot size, they have removed any flexibility they had in the existing ordinance. Her philosophy is that if they have 100 acres and are entitled to 80 houses, she asked that they prove to her how they can put those 80 houses on the property in the best manner. She personally does not care what the lot sizes are; she would ask that the ordinance offer as much flexibility as possible. She reminded Council there is staff to advise them about environmental and legal matters. Her goal is to establish what they can do with the remaining land in the city on a case by case basis so they can judge it by the merits of the land. Mayor McLallen believes the density is not going to change, but asked if there is ever going to be an overriding situation where density could change. Regardless, Mayor McLallen asked how do they provide an ordinance that captures the goals of beautiful views, beautiful land, protective environment and is permissive to the extent that the developer gets his 80 units. She believes if they can achieve that, all of them will be happy. Further, the city will acquire some very extraordinary pieces of property.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if they adopt an ordinance like this, would everything they see in the future come in under this option. He further asked if there are any undeveloped areas to which this would not apply. Mr. Arroyo replied a lot would depend on the attractiveness of the final language of the option. He added if they craft it properly, it could be attractive to the development community while also protecting the city’s concerns. He noted it might not be all bad if the ordinance can provide the type of development that they want to see.
Mr. Wahl prefers Councilman Clark’s view in that he see this ordinance as a large scale planning tool. Mr. Wahl reminded Council that they receive many small subdivision plans that are more likely to offer the opportunity for the large lot subdivision without open space areas. Mr. Wahl also sees this ordinance as a more practical application for larger acreage plans. Further, he believes they will maintain their diversity because there will not be many large coordinated projects for the rest of the development of the city.
Councilman Kramer agrees and the key is the minimum site size. However, he thinks there may be a difference in philosophy between the Planning Commission and Council. He noted the Planning Commission was proposing to reduce the lot size so that this option could be used in more locations. He believes that it is under Council’s control to make that rule functional and pick the appropriate size. Further, whatever the cut off is, he believes the likelihood of having parcels smaller for development to the underlying zoning is a lot higher.
Councilwoman Mutch asked why are they restricting it to larger sites. She thinks from a Council point of view, there is a practical reason. She explained if the business economics of a large house versus a small house on the same sized lot does not enter into it, that it is more of a matter of the density. Like other options, this option presumably gives a developer an incentive to do something that does more than just put a house on a vacant piece of ground. It does something to maintain the environment and make that neighborhood an asset to the community. Councilwoman Mutch believes when they look at smaller pieces, the environmental challenges are greater. Consequently, she does not think the RUD will be of interest to the smaller developers. However, it may be something that might encourage the assemblage of smaller pieces so they have a more unified development.
Mr. Wahl reported they found that the RUD is not the only approach to residential planning in terms of incentive zoning or other flexibility. He reminded Council that the cluster option and adjusted lot size are other approaches they can use. He added Novi has used some of those on both large and smaller sites and cited Silver Beach as an example. Mr. Wahl thinks they should differentiate them from the RUD. Mr. Wahl explained the RUD is a larger concept from the other options, although he agreed it may exist for smaller parcels that have unique natural features that they may want to preserve. He believes an RUD combines many things and almost creates a master planned community. Further, he does not envision smaller parcels (20-40 acres) as a master planned community. Mr. Wahl also believes RUD’s tend to be more of a neighborhood scale project.
Mayor McLallen believes there is a consensus about the number of acres in site qualifications.
Councilwoman Mutch stated by its nature the RUD is practical because it is a contract between the city and the developer. She believes only a few projects will come before them because they are large and there is not that much land left that they can develop in that way. She reminded Council how long it would actually take to review a project of this size.
Mayor McLallen stated there may be a consensus to increase the site qualifications from 40 acres to 100 acres. She asked Mr. Rogers to offer his opinion.
Mr. Rogers first noted he originally recommended 100-200 acres because he prefers larger development packages. He explained they can have an internal street system, they can pull homes away from the perimeter of the site, they can add a transition district, there is land for schools and parks or even a golf course. Mr. Rogers stated although there has been much talk about the transportability of the RUD concept to other pieces of land in the city that have environmental assets, he reminded Council there are no large areas that would apply. Mr. Rogers is comfortable with a larger number than 40 and he believe 100 acres is appropriate.
Mayor McLallen stated 100 acres in the underlying zoning would be 0.8 units for RA or 1.6 in R-1. She does not believe, even in an assemblage, they have any R-3 or R-4 land left. Further, she believes they have already set aside the density issue and their intent is that they will not exceed the underlying zoning. She also believes there is a consensus to increase the acreage to achieve their aims.
Mayor ProTem Crawford would like to see some flexibility in the new number also. He does not assume people with 25 acre parcels will expect flexibility, but he would like to remain flexible for those who come in with 99.5 acre parcels.
Councilman Clark is concerned about permitting too much flexibility because the city’s attorney is the one who must defend them when it becomes so flexible that they permit almost anything.
Mr. Fried stated they would include criteria.
Councilwoman Mutch stated although 100 acres is a round number, she reminded Council sections are divided into quarters and is probably why they used 40 acres in the first place. She proposed they use 80 or 160 acres.
Mr. Rogers agreed land division is determined by quarters.
Mayor McLallen believes staff and the attorneys can address that issue. However, Council consensus is that the ordinance needs to be applied on larger parcels.
Mayor McLallen stated they have made some progress on the main issues. She believes there are no major changes necessary in the Intent area, but they still need to address what they permit. She does not think it is the permission that is going to be causing the problem, but believes they are back to the issue about whether those uses going to be used to calculate density. She asked whether it is a gross number or are they going to exclude anything from the calculation. She believes the revision needs to make the language clear.
Councilwoman Mutch said what they permit will tell them what they are allowed to build on vacant land and not density. She noted that is exactly what they permit in residential districts. She believes if they can agree about what they permit, they can move on. Councilwoman Mutch does not believe there is any reason to change what they permit in an RUD.
Mayor McLallen believes part of the confusion is about how that translates. She explained once they permitted that use, they have to ask what happens to the density they had for that use. She asked whether it goes away or do they keep the rights of that district.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if the Mayor is going down the list or is she jumping to that issue. Mayor McLallen replied she is jumping to the issue because she would like to resolve the entire density issue.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if they can move forward and check off what they permit in an RUD. The Mayor agreed.
Councilman Kramer believes if they recognize that the goals are normally permitted uses of residential property, it will help feed the discussion. He further noted those uses are not unique to an RUD and can apply to any residential property. Mr. Rogers agreed.
Mayor McLallen noted they will remove R-4. Mr. Rogers agreed there is no incentive to include R-4.
Mayor McLallen reported Council agreed the acreage will be above 80 and staff will determine the actual amount.
Mayor McLallen stated Mr. Arroyo made pointed comments about how the 330 foot perimeter is self defeating.
Councilman Clark reminded Council that people are very concerned about security and privacy, and cited Turnberry Estates as an example. He believes this subdivision constructed the wall because it abuts Eight Mile Road and it creates the concept of a gated community. Councilman Clark suggested that the 330 foot perimeter may be too much, but he believes they need to address alternative ways to achieve privacy and security.
Councilman Kramer does not believe the issues raised by Councilman Clark are what they aim the 330 foot perimeter at. He understands the 330 feet is the area that the proposed development has to build in the same character as adjacent property. He asked if Councilman Clark is saying that he would like to consider alternatives to provide security and privacy. Councilman Clark agreed.
Councilwoman Mutch believes it is more likely that the developer would go to the expense of a perimeter wall in the conventional plan. Councilwoman Mutch reiterated the features of the conventional and open space development plans.
Mayor ProTem Crawford would still like the opinion of the attorney and petitioner to get an overall view of the different aspects in terms of how the ordinance affects everyone.
Steve Weiner stated as the petitioner, they anticipated that Mr. Arroyo would address many of the issues. Consequently, for expediency sake, he would like to ignore the slides because they are repetitive to what Mr. Arroyo presented. Mr. Weiner provided Council with a hand out.
Councilwoman Mutch stated for clarification that by the term "petitioner" they mean someone who has petitioned the city about changes for an ordinance revision. She emphasized it is not synonymous with "applicant".
Mary Jukuri stated she is an associate of the planning design firm, Johnson, Johnson & Roy in Ann Arbor. She introduced Bob Doyle from the Levy Co. and Steve Weiner from Harvest Land Company.
Ms. Jukuri advised she will discuss some of the same issues they have already discussed tonight on a generic basis to add further clarification. She reiterated the intent of the RUD is to promote development flexibility and allow for a mixture of various types of residential dwelling units. She is very encouraged that the discussion is recognizing that there are certain parameters that need to be better defined and that the overall intent of the RUD is that of development flexibility. She added although there is supposed to be a mixture of residential dwelling types, to also achieve other objectives such as view sheds, preservation of secondary conservation zones, adding additional amenities on a more coherent neighborhood basis, there has to be development flexibility allowed. Further, she believes future applicants must demonstrate why they are proposing the development pattern at the area plan level. In that way, the city can review the plan on a site specific basis. They believe that demonstration is the true intent of an RUD in terms of what is the best development pattern for that particular piece of property for that specific site. They also ask what will the community gain for allowing that kind of development pattern on it versus conventional lot zoning.
Ms. Jukuri discussed the basic ground work and issues establishing total number of dwelling units or density for the property. Ms. Jukuri reported the current and proposed RUD has kept the language that has been on the books for fifteen years in terms of taking the gross acreage of the site. She reported they used 80 acres as a development site minus exterior rights-of-way, minus the subaqueous wetlands to provide a net acreage that is used for calculating density times whatever the underlying density would them for dwelling units. She pointed out when they read the exact quotation from the ordinance it helps to shed some light in terms of what they can take credit for in terms of density calculation purposes. She reported Section 2404.3 currently states, "Lakes or ponds when landscaped, maintained and made part of larger open space areas within the RUD, may be included in density computations." She stated the portion "when landscaped, maintained and made part of larger open space area" was written to give incentive to the applicant to make the land or pond feature a central feature of the residential development versus putting private lots around it. She noted that is their interpretation of why that language would be in there. Further, the RUD currently allows a mixture of detached single family homes and one family clusters, and it also allows the uses mentioned earlier.
Ms. Jukuri would like further to define the mix of single family homes and attached clusters. Ms. Jukuri reported the RUD allows for a mixture of single family homes and single family cluster homes. The current language in Section 2404.1.B states, "All RUD’s may include one family dwelling clusters provided that a portion . . . is comprised of conventional one family dwelling development." Ms. Jukuri requested that Council keep flexibility of the RUD foremost in mind to allow for the specifics of the future sites that will come before them.
Ms. Jukuri believes there are some basic issues before them. One is how many units are they going to allow on a particular property. Other issues is how are they allowing those units to be arranged on that property, and what are the desirable open space features that they want to preserve that is beneficial to the community and future residents of that development. She does not know that anyone can guess or have enough foresight to know with each particular property what those features are. Instead of predetermining a fixed number, Ms. Jukuri requested that they leave the language flexible. If they feel there must be some controls, they would propose language that would say that the majority of dwelling units of the RUD be detached homes. Further, she suggested that the detached lots must be by city’s current Schedule of Regulations.
Councilman Kramer asked if she means that the lot size is equivalent to an R-1, R-2 and all the setbacks associated with that definition. Ms. Jukuri agreed and added they would allow future applicants to propose a variety of lot types.
Ms. Jukuri stated because they are attempting to reference existing regulations within the city’s zoning ordinance it will help guarantee that they will not get too big a house on too small of a lot. However, she said they could still retain the language that states a portion of the development must be conventional lots. She would caution them about defining in the abstract what "portion" means. She said if what they want is a majority of detached single family homes, then that is what they would recommend. She added when they start saying they want 20%, 30%, 10% and so on of conventional development, they may inadvertently preclude what future applicants can do with a unique site. As an example, she stated there could be a historic farmstead of sizeable acreage on a piece of property that they do not regulate and a future applicant would not have to preserve it. By starting to set to many controls that force bigger and bigger lots, they limit the opportunity to preserve future features of the city as the city builds out.
Ms. Jukuri stated the current language for Section 2404.4 for lot size and yard area reads, "For the purpose of determining yard requirements and regulating the distance between buildings, the following requirements shall control: a) One-family detached dwellings shall be subject to the minimum requirements of the district. and b) One-family clusters shall meet the minimum requirements of Section 2403 of this ordinance." Ms. Jukuri said the language is unclear and suggests that one-family clusters shall meet the minimum requirements of Section 2403 which governs cluster housing. Further, if future applicants bring in an RUD application in RA property, that could be interpreted to mean that all single family detached lots proposed have to live with a RA size front yard, rear yard and side yard requirement. Ms. Jukuri stated the most crucial dimension in RA zoning is the side yard requirement, but the relationship of the house to the lot is also crucial. She reported to build a standard house with a side entry garage, a builder needs a 60 foot wide building envelope. She stated to add a 50 foot combined side yard to that building footprint, they would limit the single family detached lot size to 110 feet where they have an RUD application in a RA district.
Ms. Jukuri added the RUD allows single family attached clusters. She explained they can attach four units, but they would then have to have a 75 foot wide space and add four more units. She said they can also construct detached clusters. She noted an attached cluster and a detached cluster can take up the equivalent land area of 50 and 70 foot lots. However, when they want to jump to the next housing type which would be a single family detached lot, they are inadvertently limiting the flexibility because of the unclear language of the side yard dimensions. She explained they would have to jump up to a 110 foot wide single family detached lot and move up from there in terms of detached lot sizes. Ms. Jukuri said that could represent a significant gap in the market and perhaps, a gap in what would be an appropriate lot size depending on site conditions and so forth. Ms. Jukuri stated they are proposing to clarify the side yard language so that the entire range of housing types can be provided and they would fill the gap. Ms. Jukuri said they could go from single family cluster, attached and detached, to a 90 foot wide lot, to 110 feet, to 120 feet, to 150 feet. Consequently, a future applicant could propose a range of detached lots and still tie it to the existing Schedule of Regulations for front yard, rear yard, and side yard dimensions. Ms. Jukuri noted this is the equivalent of RA through R-3 types of lots and added they recognized that it was not meaningful for the R-4 lot size.
Mr. Rogers interjected, by saying they will live by the Schedule of Regulations that means they would have either a lot or a site of at least 18,000 square feet under the 110 foot lot. He added the same would apply for R-1 and R-3 districts.
Councilman Kramer thinks these are minimums and that they are showing a difference of front yard setbacks. He does not know whether that needs to be resolved.
Ms. Jukuri noted builders typically prefer to construct like houses next to and across from each other. Councilman Kramer noted that would be a different district within an RUD. Ms. Jukuri agreed.
Ms. Jukuri noted Mr. Rogers addressed the issue of the side yard modification and added they are forcing the applicant to prove why they should be granted any variances. She explained the RUD would need to provide where there is a variety of detached housing subject to the majority of the housing types as detached homes. She said the future applicant would show where there is greater preservation of open space, secondary preservation areas, greater habitat, recreation areas, or where there is preservation of scenic views and historic features as part of the RUD. The applicant would know that all single family detached dwellings would be subject to and controlled by that schedule of regulation.
Ms. Jukuri added there may be instances on a site specific basis where there might be appropriate modifications to the distance between cluster units. They are asking Council to consider allowing future applicants to address that at the area plan level versus at a site plan review level. For example, Ms. Jukuri stated to propose modification to the cluster at the discretion of the city, she suggested they should demonstrate that there would be greater open space provided for wildlife habitats or a recreational amenity can be better provided where they would otherwise destroy a natural habitat or where topography might limit separation of clusters. Ms. Jukuri then provided an example of rear yard reduction for greater preservation zones. She reminded Council this would still be granted at the discretion of the city. However, they are asking that the RUD consider these as other flexible tools at the area plan level instead of as a variance at the site plan stage.
Ms. Jukuri stated the last item in terms of specific regulations in the RUD that can affect flexibility in applying the number of units that have been set by density involves the 330 foot perimeter buffer. Ms. Jukuri stated the buffer requires that there be a 330 foot strip of conventional lot development around it. She said they are assuming that the goals of this rule are to promote sensitivity to surrounding land uses and surrounding site context, to control views from adjacent roadways and thoroughfares, to provide a transition of density at the edges of the property and to also reduce visible density. Since an RUD can include attached cluster it starts to set rules on where they should or should not build attached cluster. Yet it does it in an abstract fashion versus allowing future applicants to demonstrate more site and contextual sensitivity at the area plan level. Ms. Jukuri stated Council has been discussing a 40 acre example and Mr. Arroyo has said that on a 40 acre site, only 10 acres would be allowable for flexible development. Ms. Jukuri reported if they apply the rule to the edge of an 80 acre site, 50 acres would be conventional lot development and only 30 acres would be eligible for more flexible development. Again, if they look at it on a generic basis, Ms. Jukuri stated it is a rule with a good intent, but the physical dimension of 330 feet of conventional development that could negate other possible opportunities to better preserve open space at the edges or create another natural buffer. She added it also does not respond well to the specifics of the site.
Ms. Jukuri stated the proposed draft states certain conditions where they could waive the 330 foot rule. For example: parcels of narrow dimensions, where topography could limit it, or where there is existing abutting development. Ms. Jukuri stated the draft has proposed an additional condition of a natural buffer which could be woodlands, wetlands, change in topography, or an unplatted landscape buffer makes an interesting point on whether it is on the proposed RUD parcel or on adjacent parcels. If they are looking for some clarifying language they could say, the natural buffer can be waived on adjacent parcels only when it is a regulated system.
Ms. Jukuri cautioned against fixing a physical dimension too abstractly. She said 100 feet might be excessive and again requested that they leave some development flexibility to allow future applicants to demonstrate the effectiveness of the natural buffer they are proposing versus having a fixed dimension.
Councilman Kramer asked if by a 75 foot setback of structure to the property line do they mean the external property line setback. Ms. Jukuri replied it is the perimeter setback and noted it is another new condition added to the draft. She explained that was added so that no structure can be closer than 75 feet to the perimeter of the RUD. She said that even exceeded the rear yard setback of the RA lot and meets the current setback distance required for cluster housing.
Ms. Jukuri suggested one other condition could be that the conventional development rule would not be needed where an RUD proposes a dwelling unit type that is consistent with adjacent existing development. She explained if they match their neighbor, that could also be a condition for waiver.
Ms. Jukuri offered one last item that addresses density in terms of open space planning, what the community wants and why pursue open space planning in the city of Novi. Ms. Jukuri stated there is language in the draft that addresses lot area reductions as an incentive to promote the RUD as a tool. Ms. Jukuri stated staff, consultants and the Planning Commission have agreed that they would like to see some incentive built into the RUD to encourage the private sector to use this tool and the current draft suggests lot area reductions. Ms. Jukuri reported they do not believe that lot area reduction as drafted, is an effective incentive and they propose an alternative model. The model they are proposing would be a dwelling unit-based density credit that is based on additional upland open space that would be preserved as part of the RUD; it is secondary conservation zones and not regulated systems. A summary definition of what that upland open space might include would be legally dedicated for the common use of the residents, preserves or enhances environmental features, historic or cultural elements, and/or provides recreation, provides visual or physical buffers and excludes regulated wetlands.
Ms. Jukuri stated the reason they are offer incentives to encourage preservation of that kind of open space is because of the philosophy of open space planning. She explained when they have one acre lots in conventional development, there is open space. However, the quality and character of that open space are still at the control of the individual property owner. Consequently, the individual property owner can mow that area of one acre to an inch of its life, fertilize it as much as they want, keep the woods or make incursions into the woods. She said it is very hard to regulate. She agrees it is private property and that is great. However, she thinks the discussion about looking at the RUD tool as a way to create more coherent neighborhoods and looking at increasing the parcel size may be a way of dealing with some of these issues at a philosophical level. When they have common upland open space, the homeowner’s association, the RUD contract, and other deeds and covenants can restrict what will happen in that upland open space. She explained if it is supposed to be preserved as a meadow, they can preserve it in perpetuity through the RUD contract and through the homeowner’s association. If they preserve it as an undisturbed woodland for common use of the residents, they can preserve it as an upland woodland without incursions into it. Ms. Jukuri stated there is a issue about how much do they want homeowners’ to be mowing into the open space or how much do they want to protect to provide for habitats. Ms. Jukuri noted Mr. Weiner has provided an article that addresses national trends in residential markets leaning toward the philosophy that most buyers are looking for a sense of community when they want to buy into something. They are looking for more nature trails, passive recreation, hiking and biking trails, and access to nature within their community. Another advantage of common upland open space versus private lots is that they can build in neighborhood parks within an RUD at no cost to the city because it is part of that upland open space credit.
Ms. Jukuri reiterated the open space credit that they are proposing is granted at the discretion of the city. It is based on demonstration of a sound plan and preserving the character that the city wants to preserve for a future applicant and property. She stated it would allow up to one additional dwelling unit per acre of common upland open space and there would be a density cap that they tie to the underlying zoning of the district that the RUD is located in so there is still some density control. Ms. Jukuri reported they have prepared a number of different examples of how this might work and explained one of them. She stated if they have a typical 80 acre site, they would take the 80 acres on a gross basis and extract exterior rights-of-way and subaqueous wetlands to determine the net acreage for density calculations which perhaps amounted to 60 acres. She reported that would equate to 48 units as a base density. Consequently, the city would have a guaranty of 25% regulated open space. For the 80 acres, the density cap would be set at the gross acreage times the underlying zoning. In this example it is in RA so it would be 80 acres times 0.8 dwelling units per acre or 64 units as the density cap. Ms. Jukuri explained there is a base density of 48 units, then there is a density cap of the underlying zoning so it does not exceed the density assumed by the master plan at 64 units. Ms. Jukuri stated if the developer wants to preserve additional environmental areas and creates 12 acres of common upland open space that they do not develop as part of the property, the developer would earn up to 12 additional units and would bring the total to 60 units. However, the residential development and the city now gain 40% common upland and regulated open space on the property. She stated the city gains by having otherwise unregulated systems preserved, the development gains by having that open space and a few more units gives the developer an incentive to help pay for the cost of further enhancing the preservation areas.
Bob Doyle interjected, the 40 and 80 acre sites that they used as examples were not selected arbitrarily. He explained they reviewed the city’s plat maps and it appeared that the majority of the undeveloped land is in the 40 to 100 acre range. Further, the environmental constraints that they impose on these examples are not arbitrary as well. He said they looked at what is a typical site in Novi, and how is it reflected on the woodlands and wetlands map.
Mayor McLallen asked if there are any other issues that were divergent from what Council had already been discussing or is there any further background they can offer on the issues to put this to rest.
Ms. Jukuri deferred to Mr. Weiner because she believes there were additional issues regarding phasing and timing of development.
Steve Weiner of Harvest Land Company stated the package before Council also addresses the extreme scenario where somebody has 100 acres, 80 acres is wet and yet they calculate the density cap as 80 units. He stated they asked him if there is a way to manipulate this proposal to force 80 units onto 20 usable acres. Mr. Weiner asked Council to review the extreme site constraint examples in the packet to see that is not possible because of the other elements of control that they have proposed.
Mr. Weiner noted the final points he would like to review are reflected in the draft and they are issues that they have some problems with. Mr. Weiner stated the phasing language is somewhat confusing. He explained philosophically they believe a phase should be something that is either an approved or permitted plat or final site plan. It is something that is defined and buildable, and they have gone through the process of getting an approval on; it is not the area plan. Mr. Weiner stated if they believe that is a proper definition of a phase, then philosophically they are comfortable with having the ordinance suggest that once a phase is approved, they would have a certain number of months or years to begin the phase and then they would have a certain amount of time to complete that phase from the time that they started it. If they violate those standards, then they would have accountability to the city. Mr. Weiner reported they do not think it is appropriate that the RUD applicant be forced to present a schedule in years of how they will develop their project. He explained interest rates and other variables prevent them from making hard and fast projections. Further, because order of phasing is usually driven by infrastructure, availability in terms of how they move about the site and market conditions, he proposed that the final language does not impose that the developer present an order of phasing.
Mr. Weiner stated they believe that having responsibility to address perimeter road improvements in terms of offsite improvements is reasonable. However, he is not certain whether that is legally acceptable and the draft has some difficult language from their perspective to interpret because it addresses being responsible for any impact whatsoever. For example, if they had a road that was Level Service A and the project took that road to Level Service B, the current language suggests they would be responsible for rectifying that. Mr. Weiner said that getting it to Level Service A is possible, but they might have to turn a two lane road into a four lane road which would not be realistic.
Mr. Weiner stated the Planning Commission accepted their proposal that in lieu of 5 foot wide concrete pedestrian safety paths on both sides of the road that they would only enforce it on one side of the road in light of an overall pedestrian network so that the intent is met. Mr. Weiner believes that plan is more environmentally more sensitive because it allows them to use fewer impervious surfaces. Further, a lot of the roads may only have development on one side and it would not make sense to enforce sidewalks on both.
Mr. Weiner asked Council to look at the language that they have proposed in terms of amendments of an RUD. He suggested they specifically review how a developer amends an RUD and stated they can discuss that later.
Mr. Weiner believes their attorney addressed soil stabilization at the last meeting. He recalled that the current draft suggested that hydro-mulching be part of the RUD. It is their position that anything to do with soil stabilization belongs in the construction standards manual and not in a land use ordinance.
Finally, Mr. Weiner stated there is language that the city’s attorney proposed that helps to address issues such as site plans for projects that are not under the control of the developer, but are part of the RUD. He cited a school site plan as an example.
Mr. Weiner believes when they first sat down to try to modify to the RUD they were advised by a host of people that those modifications need to address all of Novi and not just a particular project. Mr. Weiner stated they kept that intent when they prepared their draft. Mr. Weiner advised what the Planning Commission accepted was mostly with that intent and he believes they should continue to analyze it with that intent.
Councilman Clark stated by the time they took out the right-of-ways and so forth, they would be down to approximately 60 acres in the 80 acre example. Further, the RA underlying zoning density would normally amount to 48 units and with the other credits they just added another 12 units which amount to 60 units. He said they would still be increasing the units by 25%.
Ms. Jukuri said that is correct, but it still does not exceed the actual underlying zoning of the site which they would have capped at 64 units.
Mr. Weiner reiterated the cap is based on the master plan and its calculation for density.
Mr. Rogers believes 40% preserved is an extraordinary high percentage and noted some of that upland could have been used. However, he believes that is an extreme case. He explained if they were only preserving 20-30%, then the percentage of increased dwelling units would be correspondingly lower. Ms. Jukuri agreed.
Councilman Clark stated giving the developer some leeway in terms of the distance between the cluster units would depend upon how wide the area is they are proposing to save. His experience has been if they go to the maximum density, a lot of the animal life will leave the area no matter what they do. He is further concerned about the die back in the trees because of construction.
Ms. Jukuri stated Councilman Clark is correct about the woodlands. However, she reminded Council the RUD is a contract for the developer and for the builder. Occasionally, such as in a woodland environment, they could by contract require an increased distance between clusters to better preserve habitats and lessen impacts in areas where they want to take advantage of a wooded site. She reiterated it is still at the discretion of the city and all they are looking for is that the RUD language to show the intent of flexibility.
Councilman Clark stated they could possibly set aside bonding for a number of years to give the builder the opportunity to fill in the depth.
Mr. Weiner stated from a practicality point of view, a developer goes through the process of trying to earn support from the professionals like Mr. Pargoff or Ms. Lemke and if they receive a negative recommendation, they will have to start over.
Mr. Rogers added they require bonding in the woodland’s ordinance. Consequently, there is a double control because they have the woodland’s permit and the bonding. Further, they have the final review of the RUD contract and though the Planning Commission might grant a woodland’s permit, Council may not approve the RUD contract.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if the proposal changes the size of the area involved. She explained when it says according to Schedule of Regulations, does that mean the same area involved now will be the same area involved then. Mr. Rogers replied it does not affect the area.
Councilman Mitzel’s interpretation is that the house size will drive the area of the lot.
Mr. Weiner stated Mr. Rogers recommended in a letter to the attorney that all detached single family dwellings will comply with the Schedule of Regulations. He explained by Schedule of Regulations they mean side yards, front yards, rear yards, building height and so forth; this would mean they address lot area.
Councilman Mitzel asked why then would they say that in a RA that they have 110 feet instead of 120 feet.
Mr. Weiner believes the issue is that the intent of the language of the RUD says, "variety" of housing. However, the literal interpretation suggests that in a RA district if they propose the RUD, although they can build cluster housing on 50 and 70 foot lots, they cannot do anything as a detached noncluster unit narrower than a 110 feet because of math that Ms. Jukuri explained. They are suggesting that the intent of the RUD was not to give a gap in the middle; the intent was to say they can also construct on some 50, 70 or 90 foot lots.
Councilman Mitzel does not believe that is the question. He asked when they stated they will meet the Schedule of Regulations, what parts of the schedule are they talking about.
Mr. Rogers explained if they say the underlying zoning is RA, they have to have an 150 foot lot; a one acre lot size with a 20 foot and 30 foot side yard. However, if they say they will not have a 150 foot wide lot in that particular part of the approved RUD contract, they would instead have a 110 foot series of lots.
Councilman Mitzel said they would not meet the Schedule of Regulation in that instance.
Mr. Rogers said if they did have some R-2 type 110 foot wide lots, they will meet all the standards of the R-2 district.
Councilman Mitzel said although they would not meet the Schedule of Regulations of the underlying zoning, it would instead meet the schedule for the lot size. Mr. Rogers agreed.
Mr. Rogers noted they will have some lots in an RUD that will conform to the underlying zoning and they will be conventional lots.
Councilman Mitzel stated what they are talking about now is philosophical in terms of whether that is acceptable.
BREAK - 10:10 p.m. to 10:18 p.m.
Mayor McLallen stated the proposed ordinance as they rework it in with the existing ordinance is a thirteen page document. She added they heard a number of issues tonight and have in front of them, the highlights of the ordinance. She reported their work has resulted in several conditions that they agree upon. Those conditions are that the RUD intent is flexible and the residential pattern is acceptable, the permitted uses are acceptable except for R-4 which they removed, and the site qualifications were going to be increased according to the recommendations of the professionals.
Mayor McLallen believes they need further clarification about the 330 foot interior perimeter. The Mayor recalled that their conversation has indicated this condition can conflict with their stated desire to have significant environmental features as part of the site. With Council’s concurrence, Mayor McLallen asked the attorney to provide language or examples for reasons that they would vary that.
Councilman Kramer asked if they could also look at the logic for the basis for the 330 feet. He suggested they may want to set up the exceptions as the requirement because he is not certain that the 330 feet makes sense in 1997.
Mayor McLallen agreed perhaps that is more of what they are looking for. She asked if the perimeter of the site needs to have a definition and in that definition she suggested that they include certain goals.
Councilman Mitzel suggested that they should take the perimeter setback from the other portions of the zoning ordinance based upon the type of housing at the perimeter. He explained if they put attached cluster by the perimeter, then they have to follow the attached cluster setback and so forth. He believes they should simply address it as a setback.
Providing whatever the two adjacent zoning classifications are, Councilman Kramer suggested that they add that they be compatible.
Mayor McLallen believes there is a consensus that there will be site specific instances they must address where a specific site has an intrinsic attraction in terms of preservation that would disrupt this setback and preclude them from enforcing rigid regulations.
Mr. Fried stated he understands what Mayor McLallen is suggesting.
Councilman Kramer suggested if the RUD is proposing an R-4 condition on the perimeter and it abuts an R-1, they may want to impose the regulations of the greater of the two.
Councilman Mitzel asked they could just say whatever is along the perimeter has to match the setbacks for those cases.
Councilman Kramer suggested it should have to match either the natural proposed one that goes with the ordinance or the adjacent one if it is greater.
Councilman Mitzel asked if he is saying if it is across the street from a RA, it should be a RA development along the edge. Councilman Kramer replied it should be that or RA setback.
Councilman Mitzel does not know if what they perceive along the road is setback as opposed to the number of houses; there is really no right or wrong.
Mayor McLallen stated they agree there should be a more flexible perimeter established in site qualifications based on adjacent property and site specific opportunities.
Mr. Rogers reminded Council that the petitioner suggested any natural features on an adjacent parcel could serve as part of the natural feature buffer.
Mayor McLallen agreed they should not disturb the ones that will keep it contiguous.
Councilman Kramer reminded Council they are not talking about buffer zones; the 330 feet is the zone that is supposed to have similar construction.
Councilman Mitzel asked if they are saying they can distinguish the property lines from the setback or the buffer area from adjacent area.
Mr. Rogers said they would if it they were going to use it as a transition.
Councilman Mitzel asked if they would allow a setback because there are some woods next to it in any other zoning. He does not believe they want to do this, because there is no control over what is adjacent.
Mayor McLallen asked if the 330 feet is an essential component of the RUD. Mr. Rogers replied the 330 feet was established during the second phase of Dunbarton Pines. He explained because the project abutted the high school, the 330 feet did not reduce the lot size in any way. He then recalled the 330 feet permitted a street to be run through with lots on either side. He explained a 60-foot street subtracted from 330 amounts to 270 and would mean that the lots would be approximately 135 feet deep; it was just a mathematical formula.
Mayor ProTem Crawford stated they would not actually need the 330 feet. Mr. Rogers agreed.
Councilman Mitzel noted it accomplished one strip of similar housing.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked why would they want to accomplish that. Councilman Mitzel stated they would want it for the same reason they require a certain setback for attached cluster housing along Eleven Mile Road where it abuts RA and R-1 zoning.
Mayor ProTem Crawford said they are trying to come up with something that is flexible and makes sense to all parties concerned. He believes by imposing that requirement, it defeats that purpose.
Councilman Mitzel suggested that they should look at setbacks instead of strips of land development types.
Mayor ProTem Crawford stated he believes Councilman Mitzel said that whatever the RUD abuts has to match.
Councilman Mitzel disagreed; he was explaining that was what the 330 feet accomplished.
Mayor McLallen believes the consensus reached was rather than continue with that arbitrary number, they should create a more site specific perimeter definition.
Councilman Mitzel does not believe they discussed lot size reduction. He asked if they have RA zoning, would they allow any lot size down to R-3.
Councilman Kramer believes they should permit that.
Mr. Rogers believes many of the lots may conform to the underlying zoning, but they should preserve substantial integrated cohesive open space. He added it is likely that most of the lots will be less than the underlying zoning and the housing has a certain density of its own. He noted they would still maintain the overall density cap and density limits.
Councilman Mitzel reiterated he does not believe they had this discussion.
Mayor McLallen restated that the density will not exceed the underlying zoning.
Councilman Mitzel asked when they refer to density do they mean master plan density or zoning density. The Mayor replied they are referring to master plan density.
Councilman Mitzel believes they should use the zoning density because all the other options refer back to it in the ordinance and they are looking to be consistent.
Council determined the density is based on the zoning.
Councilman Mitzel stated since it based on the zoning, when they say overall zoning they are talking about making a common definition in the new zoning ordinance. He explained that the underlying zoning applies to the net site area which they derive from subtracting regulated wetlands from the gross area in the new zoning ordinance. He noted this is the same definition they use for the Preservation Option. Councilman Mitzel stated that means when they gave the 80 acres’ example with 20 acres of wetlands, they would only use 0.8 times 60 for the cap as opposed to 0.8 times 80. Councilman Mitzel’s point is, if this is how they are defining it in the ordinance and they change that, they change it in this option also. He asked Council if they want to address the zoning ordinance first because they are intertwined. Councilman Mitzel reminded Council that he has been advocating standardization of how they determine density for all the options and the underlying zoning since last year. He believes they had a consensus at their last study session about this issue, but it is now just a matter of adopting it. He added if this gets adopted first, he would suggest adding that new definition or adopt the zoning ordinance first.
Councilman Kramer stated if Councilman Mitzel’s density comments are correct, their calculation of capping density is based upon gross acreage.
Councilman Mitzel agreed and added that is how their underlying zoning definition is used right now. However, he recalled there was a general consensus to remove the wetlands from the calculation.
Mayor McLallen stated based on what Councilman Mitzel is saying, the reality is their density is based on the gross area as they currently define it. She asked if anybody has really studied what impact the removal of the wetlands would have on the net density.
As an abstract example, Mr. Rogers stated there may be a project with 50 acres of subaqueous and submerged swampland. However, when they finish measuring the regulated wetlands, they may have as much as 122 acres. Consequently, if they include the regulated woodlands, they would increase the amount to deduct than if they only included subaqueous. Mr. Rogers the difference would amount to 72 acres. If the area is zoned RA, they would multiply 0.8 times 72 which would amount to 60 dwelling units. Mr. Rogers said it would be a policy decision for Council to use one definition or the other. He sees the advantage of standardization, but that has not yet gone into effect.
Councilman Mitzel stated that is what he is saying and added their intent was to have the zoning ordinance in place months ago. He does not think there was any objection by Council to adopt that definition. He reminded Council about the philosophical discussion they had when they changed the adjusted lot size for the Preservation Option. Since then, there has been discussion about using that definition across the board for options and underlying zoning. Councilman Mitzel is simply saying the zoning ordinance and RUD are intertwined, and if they adopt the RUD first, he would like to know there is a consensus to include the new language. If not, they have to adopt the zoning ordinance first.
Councilman Kramer asked if there is a difference between subaqueous wetlands and regulated wetlands, is it part of the consideration.
Mr. Rogers stated subaqueous only appears in the RUD. He noted within regulated wetlands there are some smaller pockets of subaqueous. Further, Mr. Rogers does not know if they include lakes in regulated wetlands versus bodies of water. He recommends they include any lake within an RUD.
Mayor McLallen said the issue is that historically the community has calculated the gross density which they then translate into housing units based on existing wetlands and woodlands on the property. She stated if they remove those, that could seriously change the dwelling units calculations for all future development. Further, while that has positive implications in terms of number of units that will ever be in the city, she also believes it has some serious implications in the legal community based on land that they have held and projected to be developed on master plan density.
Councilman Mitzel’s point is that is how they develop it in reality; the question is, what does density mean. Does it mean how many units they allow per gross acre or does it mean what it looks like? He reminded Council they had this discussion four years ago and their conclusion was that density means how much can they build on a buildable area. He added they can say they will allow 0.8 units per acre, but how often do applicants come in and say they have 100 acres with swampland in the middle where they cannot build. Consequently, the reality is they will be below the 0.8 units. Councilman Mitzel added if they do not have these options and say they want conventional planning, they are not allowed to build there anyway.
Mayor McLallen interjected, tonight they are discussing whether they will write the ordinance and they will decide another night about whether they will ever apply it.
Councilman Mitzel said if they do not have the options and only provide conventional zoning, then they would only develop in that buildable area based on the Schedule of Regulations. However, if they offer the different options and they can provide extra units that they probably cannot build according to the Schedule of Regulations.
Mayor ProTem Crawford said that is why it is a flexible option.
Councilman Mitzel stated they are getting extra units for saving land only because they are building them under a different name, they would have to save anyway under a conventional plat .
Mayor ProTem Crawford said if they build in enough restrictions for this, they may as well not have it.
Councilman Mitzel is only saying they should be consistent with the density and then they can say everybody gets the same density no matter what option they use. He explained no one would get a bonus for using one option over the other. However, bonuses would come in with flexibility in the size of the lots in terms of the way they lay them out if they reduce things like infrastructure.
Councilman Kramer asked if they should also make the credit adjustment more reasonable.
Councilman Mitzel is saying whatever the density cap is on a site is what they can build under conventional zoning which is the net area.
Councilwoman Mutch said she can see how this would be a consideration from an investment point of view if the developer is on a tight budget. However, where is the incentive to do anything but conventional if the project is a well funded development.
Councilman Mitzel’s question is why should anyone get extra houses just because they do not develop under conventional.
Mr. Rogers noted instead of developing individual subdivisions, they will get coordinated development of major preservation easements and areas.
Councilman Mitzel said they are really getting public regulated lands as opposed to privately owned land.
Mr. Rogers believes they are getting coordinated development on a large parcel of land.
Councilman Mitzel stated they agreed earlier that they should follow underlying zoning, but they have not yet discussed what the underlying zoning should be for density.
Mayor McLallen stated this body must come to terms with this issue and asked how do they determine the density.
Mayor ProTem Crawford stated they do not have to revert to the standard method. He said part of an RUD could be RA and therefore, they would allow cluster in that RA. He believes if they revert to the overlying ordinance, they cannot have that option.
That is not what Councilman Mitzel is saying. He believes Mayor ProTem Crawford is talking about flexibility on how they put the houses in and he is talking about the number of houses.
Mayor ProTem Crawford believes Councilman Mitzel is talking about how they are reverting back to it is the way they do it conventionally and therefore, they ought to transfer it to the option. He is saying they should not transfer it to the option.
Mayor McLallen stated Councilman Mitzel’s position is for consistency throughout the city in that all pieces of land have a specific density based only upon their usable surface. However, the current ordinance tends to be more permissive in that it is a specific piece of land of so many acres and on each equal piece so many units are built based upon zoning. She added they do not base it upon the specific features of the land, but specific features of land deduct certain buildable portions. She stated the current density is based upon just land, even if it is all air. However, Councilman Mitzel is saying if it is air, they are not getting anything. She believes they have to decide which is the underlying philosophy for the city. She reported historically, it has been the one with a certain geometric design and they get so many units for that geometry no matter what the features are. Further, the reality is that there has been a trend that says they cannot physically build on water or air, so why consider it. She noted that is a radical change from what has been going on.
Councilman Mitzel simply looks at it as a change in the text to match what the reality is.
Mayor McLallen stated the reality is, everyone that owns land and has owned it for twenty years has the perception that their calculation is based on "x" and Councilman Mitzel has changed that calculation.
Councilman Mitzel asked why don’t they all come in with something other than conventional, because under conventional they can only get what he is saying is the density calculation.
Mr. Rogers stated under conventional they would have to fit the minimum lot sizes in the zoning ordinance, but under the RUD they do not because they could move down beyond the RA to an R-2. Further, in a conventional subdivision they would be held to the RA zoning.
Councilman Mitzel believes they have a consensus about how the RUD will reference how they define density in the ordinance. However, they now need to define that density in the underlying ordinance.
Mr. Rogers sympathizes with what Councilman Mitzel is saying because Councilman Mitzel was involved when the Planning Commission wrote the Preservation Option. Mr. Rogers stated the present RUD Ordinance for density deducts perimeter, street rights-of-way, subaqueous and swampland area, and commercial if applicable. He then noted the Planning Commission recommended to Council the present RUD Ordinance verbatim. Mr. Rogers understands that Councilman Mitzel and Council has discussed the desire to standardize density for the various options, and recalled that they would deduct state and city regulated wetlands from the density. Mr. Rogers suggested that perhaps consistency is a virtue and he believes they have another option. He explained because they are dealing with an RUD which is a unique option, he suggested they leave this language intact and put the other language in for the other options. However, he noted it is not 100% consistent.
Councilman Mitzel believes extra density is what ended the PUD option in Novi. He added that a lot of times it may be more of a visual issue. However, he is just saying they can only get a certain number of units under conventional when they meet all of the Schedule of Regulations on the net side area.
Councilwoman Mutch agrees consistency is something they can strive for. However, she believes they are back to the question of the logic behind some of the things that are currently in the ordinance. She believes having an option provides the flexibility and the opportunity to consider some things in a way they would not be able to under any other option or existing ordinance. In this case, Councilwoman Mutch stated it is the density calculation that is the focus of debate on this option and noted it could be something different for another option.
Mayor McLallen stated they are trying to center on how they define underlying density zoning.
Councilman Mutch believes the logic that they put forth is very reasonable. However, to him it is a question of whether or not they can deal with that apparent inconsistency.
Councilman Mitzel stated that would be addressed once they get into the issue of some density credit performances.
Councilman Clark believes they have made a lot of progress, but he does not believe they will settle the density calculation issue tonight. He suggested they make this the first item on the agenda for the May 15, 1997 work session meeting.
Mr. Fried interjected, what Councilman Mitzel is saying is that they can do what they want to do just by offering a density credit for it. He added this is what he believes everybody is saying they want.
Mayor McLallen stated using Councilman Mitzel’s definition of density is only for buildable land and that they should make it universal within the ordinance. Then in an option, based on whatever the criteria they put out, they can give credits based on the merits of the individual plan.
Councilman Kramer believes he is saying the allowable density is based on the net which removes subaqueous and suggested that they should change that to regulated so that it is consistent.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked how do they go back into that. Councilman Kramer replied Council would have to assess how much credit they want to let them build to. He added in the previous way they looked at it, they would have said they really did not want to support going above what they considered the base calculation which included the build on wetland issue. Now they are going to take that out, and say they have already called it down to buildable land for the benefits of the RUD and say it is worth it at this point to let it go beyond that base density based upon the way they calculated it.
Councilman Mitzel said that would also be tied into their flexibility.
Councilman Kramer said it would provide consistency in the basic ordinances and then they would have to decide how much they are willing to give credit to for the benefit.
Mr. Rogers recalled a project that had more than 1,000 units for which he suggested a density cap of about 100 units less. He explained if they remove the density cap for this hypothetical case, they could make up for the hypothetical difference between subaqueous and regulated wetlands. He believes the trigger is if they remove the density cap they may provide an extra unit for every acre that they preserve in upland, woodlands, secondary conservation areas, nonregulated wetlands and so forth.
Councilman Mitzel believes it would be similar to the Preservation Option, but instead of reducing their size by a certain percentage, they would be able to transfer the units within the development.
Mr. Rogers added it would be up to Council to approve that plan in the RUD contract.
Mayor McLallen said they have a very serious issue that affects members of the Novi community who are part of that school district. She said they have to decide what to do with that issue.
Councilman Mitzel asked if they have agreed about the underlying definition of density with the knowledge of a density credit.
Mayor McLallen asked if there is a Council consensus based on the definition of not using any non-buildable land for density and making it uniform for all the zoning options.
Mayor ProTem Crawford stated this is not conventional zoning; it is an RUD option for large pieces of property with unique features. He argued if they start trying to make it fit back into their conventional zoning, they do not need it. Further, he needs to see whatever it is they are proposing, and what kind of credits and density they are proposing. He does not know what he thinks about it until they can provide some examples for him.
Mayor McLallen reiterated they need to move forward.
Mayor McLallen asked if the attorney should draft language based upon those items that they contested this evening, in addition to the implications of recalculating density and credit based on their discussion.
Councilman Kramer suggested that they include a proposal about what the credit picture should look like.
Councilman Mitzel is asking how do they define the underlying zoning.
Mr. Watson believes he can provide a draft by Monday, but he is not certain if that will help them advance their discussion. He believes they would need a draft in hand before their meeting.
Councilman Clark noted that is why they are having their meeting on May 15 and asked why should they include on Monday’s agenda.
Mr. Rogers stated the number of entitlement of density, underlying zoning less regulated wetlands, gives "x" number of dwelling units. Then, if they preserve nonregulated areas in the plan, they can provide density credits of additional units above the entitlement area. Mr. Rogers explained there is a density eligibility and a density credit formula which a petitioner has suggested be one dwelling unit per every acre of nonregulated open space preserved. He asked if Council can agree on that approach.
Councilman Mitzel finds that proposal acceptable and added that the issue of a density credit is another discussion.
Councilman Clark stated that is why they need to extend this discussion to May 15.
Mr. Kohls suggested that it might help Council for the RUD applicant to remain on Monday’s agenda and provide Council with what they would envision under this new ordinance for a particular piece of property.
Councilman Clark noted there is no ordinance for the applicant to envision.
Mr. Kohls stated their proposal is tentative on two assumptions. One is that they would adopt an ordinance accommodating a relatively small number of features that do not fit squarely within in the ordinance. Secondly, the Zoning Board of Appeals would issue variances. Further, a 7-2 vote of the Planning Commission recommended the plan for approval to Council subject to enactment of an ordinance allowing it.
Councilman Clark’s concern is about the assumption that the recommendation of the Planning Commission is going to be adopted. He noted based on what has been happening during their discussions, he is not certain that is the case in the confines of how they recommended it to Council.
Mayor McLallen believes Mr. Kohls is looking for a window to present a site specific case to see if that discussion would help Council change anything at Thursday’s meeting.
Councilman Clark would caution them because depending upon what would happen Thursday night, the applicant may have to recalculate all of their assumptions.
Mr. Weiner asked if switching the agenda is legally acceptable so that they could make their presentation at the May 15 meeting.
Councilman Kramer would not like the applicant to come before Council with their proposal because he thinks it will complicate the issue in the public forum and it will complicate their discussion concerning the ordinance. He noted their commission is to write ordinances and not to negotiate ordinances. He would rather take the time to stay focused.
Councilwoman Mutch believes they have covered a lot in a progressive way. She does not believe this kind of discussion and progress can happen during a regular meeting because of the environment. Consequently, she does not believe that discussing this issue at their Monday meeting would be advantageous.
From what Mayor McLallen is hearing, the applicant will do whatever they decide to for the Monday night meeting. However, she believes there is a Council consensus to clear the agenda and continue their review of the proposed RUD Zoning Ordinance Text amendment at their work session scheduled Thursday, May 15, 1997. If they come to terms on the RUD, they are out of scheduled meetings for May and she suggested that Council call a single issue special meeting to deal with the project.
Councilman Mitzel believes they have to approve the ordinance at a regular meeting because the City Charter does not allow ordinances to be approved at special meetings.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if staff could provide Council with a listing of the issues they have agreed upon or can they agree upon the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
Mayor McLallen believes if they get clarity on the definition of density from Mr. Rogers and the criteria needed for credits, they have basically covered the conditions by going backward. The only other outstanding issue is with phasing about which the petitioner has already talked. Mayor McLallen added she could pull out the issues.
Mayor ProTem Crawford believes they still need to discuss the smaller issues within the three issues.
There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 11:22 P.M.
Mayor City Clerk
Transcribed by Barbara Holmes
Date Approved: June 2, 1997