SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1997 AT 8:00 A.M.




Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 8:19 a.m.






City Council: Mayor McLallen, Mayor ProTem Crawford, Council Members DeRoche (absent/excused), Kramer, Lorenzo (absent/excused), Mutch, Schmid.



Planning Commission: Chair Weddington, Vice-Chair Hoadley, Planning Commission Members Bononi (absent/excused), Canup, Capello, Churella, Csordas, Vrettas, Watza (absent/excused)






Purpose of Joint Work Session of City Council and Planning Commission - Potential OST Zoning


8:19 A.M. Recess meeting and depart from Civic Center to Northern Equities, Farmington Hills for tour of OST facilities


10:45 A.M. Return from OST tour and reconvene meeting


Commissioner’s Capello and Vrettas - Absent after tour


Mayor McLallen acknowledged the presence of the many residents of Country Cousins Mobile Home Park in the audience. She thanked Larry Dormal, Patty Beagle, Russ Button James Burnett, Bob Bowman, Bob MacDonald and John Thompson for accompanying Council and Planning Commission members on their tour of Northern Equities.


Mayor McLallen advised they began their tour at Northern Equities (the developers of the Country Club Corporate Park) and then visited several facilities within the park.


Mayor McLallen advised the question raised by the park residents is whether a rezoning of this area would impact the Country Cousins Mobile Home Park and would they be a prime target for developers to purchase the park property. Mayor McLallen advised that this particular developer assured them that they would not target the park because it would not be economically feasible. The Mayor added that Commissioner Canup is employed by the manufactured home industry and he reaffirmed what the developer stated. She reported Commissioner Canup advised that the economics of redeveloping a mobile home community is very high. Mayor McLallen added she understands that the consensus of Council is to remove the Country Cousins Mobile Home Park portion of the property from their discussion and they will make a motion to that effect at their regular meeting Monday, December 15, 1997.


Mayor ProTem Crawford agreed and added the motion will exclude this parcel from consideration for rezoning or re-master planning and that it would also be in order to direct the Planning Commission to exclude it from their decision making for rezoning or re-master planning.


Councilman Schmid was disturbed to see the article about rezoning this area in the newspaper when Council had not even discussed it. He added that he concurs with Mayor ProTem Crawford in that they should not rezone this property now or in the future.

Chair Weddington believes this was a misunderstanding and as far as she knows there was no proposal to rezone or master plan anything. Further, she reported that the Master Plan and Zoning Committee’s task has been to look for areas of the city that could be suitable for OST zoning for inclusion in the next Master Plan update. Chair Weddington thinks the appropriate action would be to let the Planning Commission and the Master Plan and Zoning Committee to continue this study. She believes they should consider access, visibility, availability of utilities, absence of environmental problems and other things that contribute to land use planning.


Chair Weddington would like to underscore the fact that a master plan is separate from zoning. She explained they could have a master plan with future possible uses that is separate from the zoning and added the zoning comes later in the process. Chair Weddington has no idea where the reporter got his information, but she believes it put things out of order and added they are not at a point to intelligently consider specific rezoning. Therefore, she restated she would encourage Council to let the Planning Commission do its work and recommend appropriate locations for master planning OST. She added they are as anxious as anyone to identify appropriate OST locations and she would like to see the process follow its normal course to avoid further misunderstanding.


Mr. Wahl advised he supplied members of the audience with copies of the 1993 Master Plan and noted that the master plan for that area designates it as office. Mr. Wahl believes it also appeared as office in the 1998 plan and noted that the office designation could have appeared even earlier. Mr. Wahl further noted other mobile home parks are currently master planned as multiple family. Therefore, Mr. Wahl suggested to Council and the Planning Commission that they consider designating the park as multiple family as part of the master plan review because of the zoning of the other mobile home parks.


Although it may now be irrelevant, Mr. Wahl advised he offered to meet with several representatives from the park and convey a short summary expressing the mobile home park resident’s concerns. He added that the Community Development Department would serve to be the communication link between the park and the city.


As a member of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, Commissioner Hoadley assured the mobile home park residents that this matter has never come before them for discussion. Commissioner Hoadley added that he concurs that the park should not be considered for rezoning, but noted they are looking at the other nearby parcels for OST zoning. It is Commissioner Hoadley’s opinion that OST zoning will generate a huge amount of additional tax revenue without really impacting the city’s infrastructure.


Mayor ProTem Crawford assured the audience that they will make a motion at their next meeting and it is his intent to leave the park alone.


Mayor McLallen assumes Mayor ProTem Crawford will make a motion to amend the agenda to add a statement to advise that Country Cousins Mobile Home Park will not be re-master planned or rezoned. Mayor McLallen noted although this Council has no interest in looking at this matter again, they cannot provide any assurances that another Council will not and noted they update the city’s Master Plan every five years.



1. Discussion of OST Zoning District


Councilman Kramer understands the purpose of their joint meeting is to discuss appropriate study areas and then recommend areas for application of OST at a later date; Mayor McLallen agreed.


Greg Capote pointed to the proposed and additional study areas on the zoning map.


Mayor McLallen noted the entire yellow highlighted areas, except for the Country Cousins Mobile Home Park, are the proposed areas. She reminded Council that they drove north on Haggerty Road to M-5 and consequently, they have already seen that area. The Mayor continued by stating the other areas under consideration are: south of Twelve Mile and west of M-5 (both sides of Meadowbrook Road); Twelve Mile Road, west of Novi Road to the railroad tracks; a portion south of I-696 in Section 18 and property north of Grand River from Beck Road to Taft Road.


Mayor McLallen added several key factors to OST zoning are: exposure to freeway access, the existence of an infrastructure (sewer, water, gas and electric) and environmental features. Mayor McLallen asked the other members if there are priority pieces for study, what is the time table for a public hearing? She explained they need to send a directive to staff and recommends that it encompass no more than six months so that the private sector opportunities that may come before them can move forward as soon as possible. Mayor McLallen reminded Council members and Commissioners that they will not permit the types of buildings they saw this morning in Novi until they take this step.


Chair Weddington agrees with the Mayor’s directive. She stated she asked Mr. Rogers to help identify the factors that they should take into account and evaluate in order to define what is an appropriate location for OST. She explained they requested him to cite transportation, freeway access, environmental issues, utilities and any other land use considerations. She advised he would do that, but she is uncertain as to when he will provide that information. In addition, she also knows Mr. Capote and JCK & Associates are currently gathering information regarding the Haggerty/M-5 corridor and she is hoping to get this information soon so they can move forward.


Mr. Capote advised that the Master Plan and Zoning Committee met several times in April, August and September of this year relative to the OST issue. He recalled that the Planning Commission gave the directive to the committee at their March 5, 1997 meeting. As a result of that directive, Mr. Capote advised that they met with additional brokers, users and other people from the community regarding the OST issue. Further, because of some legal implications and takings with M-5, Mr. Capote advised that there was a lapse of time in discussing the issue. However, Mr. Capote believes the committee sent a letter to Mr. Wahl asking for specific pieces of information as a result of their August 27 meeting. Mr. Capote believes they received that letter on September 2 and when the committee met on September 10, staff prepared the information as requested except for information about the infrastructure relative to water, sewer and storm water drainage. Mr. Capote explained they needed more time to determine where they could find this information and whether there could be cost sharing advantages with other departments doing a similar analysis of the infrastructure. Mr. Capote reported there was a cost sharing advantage with the DPW Department and added they have received that preliminary report from JCK & Associates. Mr. Capote advised they were able to get this report for $1,000 instead of $2,000 and that it addresses the last item (Item 7) of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee’s letter dated September 2. However, Mr. Capote understands this is only a preliminary report and it would be easier to understand once they illustrate it in a drawing format that JCK indicated they would provide soon.


Mr. Capote advised there are three properties currently being examined by large developers that have not done work in the past in Novi, but have done work in Auburn Hills, Farmington Hills and Ann Arbor. Mr. Capote added they are looking seriously at Novi and have made offers to purchase property, but noted they are currently in a due diligence period to detect whether there are any problems (i.e., environmental) with the property. Mr. Capote advised these developers fully intend to use the OST ordinance.



Mayor McLallen asked Mr. Capote to point out the areas currently being considered on the zoning map. Mr. Capote pointed to Section 16, south side of Grand River and Sections 13, 14 and 18.


Mayor McLallen understands that although there is necessity to review areas throughout the city, the immediate need for review is Haggerty, Meadowbrook and northern Grand River back to Meadowbrook Road.


Mr. Capote believes the greatest need for attention is in the Twelve Mile and Haggerty Road area.


Mayor McLallen understands the area they are looking at is already master planned as office and an OST designation would offer greater flexibility. She also understands that office is still permissible under OST zoning.


Mr. Wahl advised Ramco-Gershenson asked him to convey that their proposed project could help develop an OST park west of their site. He stated they would offer their expertise to help develop this development. Therefore, if the study or Council’s direction encourages this area as OST, Mr. Wahl advised Ramco-Gershenson would then continue to work toward that end if Council found this to be appropriate.


Regarding the request to Mr. Rogers for some studies, Mr. Wahl advised there is a letter dated November 11 which indicates that the consultants would be prepared to use some of the existing work and resources. Further, in response to the OST request to Mr. Rogers, Mr. Wahl believes the proposal was to have information back within sixty days (February 1, 1998).


Councilman Schmid is not certain where their discussion is going because they are talking about specific potential developers. Councilman Schmid believes the purpose of their discussion may be to give direction to the Planning Commission about what they are going to study.


Councilman Schmid advised the M-5 project was very controversial in 1989 to 1990 from the standpoint of a road going to nowhere and whether it should travel down Haggerty. However, Councilman Schmid noted that its current configuration affected him personally. Councilman Schmid stated during that total period and until the present, the Haggerty connector was never considered an expressway. He advised the area highlighted north of Twelve Mile Road is presently zoned RA and he believes it is a very desirable single-family residential area. Councilman Schmid is getting tired of Council and the Planning Commission maximizing the density north of Twelve Mile Road (i.e., Vistas, etc.). Councilman Schmid hopes the Planning Commission takes a hard look at this area as to whether it could be not be properly developed as RA and similar to the developments near Eight Mile and Haggerty Roads. He then asked that they particularly look at Haggerty between Twelve and Thirteen Mile Roads adding that he is aware that there are some other uses on both sides of the road near Thirteen Mile Road. However, Councilman Schmid sees no reason not to maintain residential zoning from Thirteen Mile south to Twelve Mile Road. Councilman Schmid reminded Council that they are here to build a community, but noted there is a lot of industrial land that they could change to OST. In addition, he advised the West Road extension will open hundreds of acres that he believes would be equally desirable for OST from a standpoint of expressway access. Councilman Schmid asked that they not rush into anything just because it is desirable land for both uses.


Councilman Schmid also asked that they look at the tax base they could generate from $500,000 plus homes because he was surprised to hear Farmington Hills would only generate approximately one million dollars in tax revenue from the park they visited today. Councilman Schmid knows that some homes generate as much as thirty to forty thousand tax dollars per year.


As a member of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, Commissioner Canup does not believe they have made any progress during the eight months he has served on the Planning Commission. It is his opinion that they keep asking for studies that are irrelevant to the Master Plan. Commissioner Canup believes if they master plan it, the developers will find a way to provide sewers and so forth because the city already has the mechanics in place to make that happen through them. Commissioner Canup asked Council to direct the Planning Commission to get something done.


Chair Weddington agrees with some of the comments made by Councilman Schmid, but takes exception to some of Commissioner Canup’s statements. Chair Weddington is not encouraging more studies and she is very disturbed that some might believe they have to have an involved study. Chair Weddington believes some of their questions should have had ready responses and that is why she is starting to ask more specific questions. Chair Weddington reminded the other members that according to the state statute and city charter, they must consider certain factors when making land use decisions. Chair Weddington would just like to get that rationale on the record so they can show that this zoning district or the proposed land use has a logical and legal basis. She advised they have not even received the basic information they need to make it stick.


Further, Chair Weddington is concerned that the yellow highlighted areas on the map before them are only those areas that specific developers have proposed. She does not believe they are planning and explained when they just react, they get requests for multiple zoning. Further, if they do not do something quickly, they will continue to get more of those requests from developers and they will not have better alternatives to offer. Chair Weddington is looking for some better alternatives and that the city’s staff needs to identify what the factors are that they need to consider (i.e., site size). Chair Weddington was involved in putting the OST on the books and she wants to see it move forward, but she knows they need to prioritize some of the areas. She added when she thinks of OST, she thinks of all of the major freeways and agrees with Councilman Schmid’s comments about the West Road connector in terms of OST development. However, she believes the question is which ones do they want to do first.


As a Master Plan and Zoning Committee member, Commissioner Hoadley agrees with Commissioner Canup and explained they were stopped from even studying the land between Haggerty Road south of Twelve Mile Road and M-5 for re-master planning. Commissioner Hoadley advised the vote was locked and added he tried to convince the Planning Commission to direct them to study this area so they could make a decision.


Further, Commissioner Hoadley advised when the property between M-5 on the south side of Twelve Mile and I-96 westward was before them, they were directed by the Planning Department and Mr. Watson not to consider the property north of Twelve Mile Road between Haggerty and M-5 for the time being. If that has changed, he would be happy to consider that area because he believes it is a prime site for OST consideration. Commissioner Hoadley believes they need Council direction to make this happen so they can move beyond the committee’s two-two deadlock.


Councilman Kramer believes there is some concern about whether this zoning is developer driven. He believes although they are fortunate to receive proposals for development at this time, there is a need to complete this planning. Councilman Kramer believes although they may not all agree on the proposed sites, they should agree they need to move forward and perform the necessary planning in a timely manner. Councilman Kramer also believes they need to address the areas that are being considered because developers will always make proposals whether they have a plan or not. Therefore, he believes it is best they think through their plan and be certain that they like what they have so they can provide a foundation on which to base a decision. Councilman Kramer agrees there are many areas for OST zoning and that they have an opportunity to study this. In addition, they also have a more focused area that they should move forward on more quickly. Councilman Kramer said if the task is greater than that, he suggested that the Planning Commission come back and indicate what they see as a work plan. Councilman Kramer reminded the other members that the budget sessions are soon and they should ask for more resources if needed.


Mayor McLallen believes there are three areas of responsibility. She advised one is that Council needs to define whether the five areas proposed on the map are adequate or should they add the West Road area for potentially six study areas. Mayor McLallen reminded the other members that the study of those areas is the responsibility of the Planning Commission and they will make a recommendation to Council if they find that a Master Plan change is necessary.


Secondly, the Mayor advised that Chair Weddington has a list of factors that need further explanation before they can change the Master Plan. The Mayor advised the recommendation would be to send the list of factors to the staff and the staff should swifty provide a response. She noted the response should not be an in depth study and added that the development community should conduct the in depth studies. Further, the Mayor requested that the staff respond to this request within thirty days or a maximum of forty five days.


At that point, the Master Plan and Zoning Committee can finally conduct their work and prioritize the areas. Mayor McLallen advised it is her goal for the private sector to select any of these sites within the next ninety days. Based upon her discussions with staff and the Planning Commission, the Mayor does not believe this goal is unreasonable.


Mayor ProTem Crawford believes one key component is accessability and therefore, he would not oppose studying the West Road area. However, he asked why is the northern portion of Grand River to Beck Road excluded?


Mr. Capote replied OST was not considered for this area because the area is fragmented due to the large number of many long time heavy industrial users and small property ownership. He explained not only could they not gain control of enough gross acreage of land, but OST users do not want to be near heavy industry.


Mayor ProTem Crawford asked whether it should be master planned as OST because it seems to be a natural area for that zoning? Mr. Capote believes a master plan consideration would be appropriate. However, he added it would be more helpful if there were fewer owners and it would be even better if the heavy industrial were light industrial users.


Mayor ProTem Crawford asked why are they considering the south side when it is very similar to the north side. Mr. Capote believes the case he described earlier was someone who found a piece of property where the price was right and the kind of user will fit.


Mayor ProTem Crawford hopes when they study these areas that they conduct them on a priority basis. He also hopes they will add West Road and the north and south sides of Grand River to the bottom of their list.


Mr. Capote believes when they look at Grand River Avenue from I-96 to Beck and Taft Roads that a light industrial user would be more reasonable and would be realized more quickly than an OST user.


Mayor McLallen reminded Council that private individuals did petition Council for OST rezoning south of Grand River. However, right now they are trying to take the more significant parcels and let the development community know that these are areas ready for OST development.


Councilman Schmid believes the Grand River corridor is an ideal area for OST. He knows there are some unattractive buildings there right now, but if they master plan it as OST, he believes the development will move forward that way. He does not agree that property is too expensive. He believes if the location is right, a developer will pay a lot of money to move some of the current users on Grand River. However, he added that it must first be zoned properly. Councilman Schmid believes the Grand River corridor should be the showcase of Novi and the only way to achieve that is to have it master planned as OST.


Councilman Schmid also does not know why they are concerned about timing about the West Road area. He explained that it will not take any longer to look at the vacant land all the way west on Grand River and north of Twelve Mile Road than it does to look at land north of West Road. Councilman Schmid believes that is prime land and no one will care if they rezone it. He believes they should take advantage of the fact that a rezoning in this area will not impact anyone. He also suggested that they remove the heavy industrial zoning because Novi no longer needs that type of zoning if they plan to attract high tech industry.


Chair Weddington advised there are nine factors she would like the Planning Department to comment on:


1. site size (regarding parcel and parcel accumulation issue)

2. availability of roads

3. visibility

4. feasibility of extending utilities

5. environmental factors that may prohibit development

6. current zoning

7. adjacency to residential, heavy industrial or other districts that may conflict with OST zoning

8. information on the comparative zones or districts (i.e., Ask whether this should be OST, I-1, Residential, Commercial or so forth? What are the positives and negatives of the different districts?)

9. information on the personal property tax rates for different types of personal property (i.e., Would computers or high tech testing equipment generate as much or more tax base than the real property?)


Chair Weddington restated she does not want anybody spending a lot of time or money to gather this information.


Councilwoman Mutch believes they made a point earlier that when companies come in they are not only looking for road access for employees to get back and forth to work, but for direct road access to the type of transportation system they need to operate their business. She added in many cases it includes types of transportation that are not found in the community (i.e., airports).


Further, Councilwoman Mutch asked whether it would be possible to look at those uses that have not developed or improved any further than they were forty years ago. She explained if there are other areas where perhaps there is light industrial next to residential and the light industrial is not moving forward, that they may just want to extend the residential as a trade off. However, she added she does not have anything specific in mind.


Councilwoman Mutch is concerned about some unnatural divisions in the community that work against them as they try to build a sense of community. She noted the expressway is one division and the portion that is now part of Wixom means there is a northwest corner that is somewhat isolated from the rest of the residential part of the community. She is concerned that if they do get a residential community in the northeast part of Novi, they will not think of it as Novi because they will conduct their business in other communities due to their location. Councilwoman Mutch does not want to create pockets of isolated communities who do not feel a part of the bigger community. She would rather trade that and perhaps have an OST border so they can have some other areas that are more centrally located become residential although they may not be zoned that way now.


Mr. Wahl believes the requested time frame is reasonable. Mr. Wahl then clarified that the guidelines in working with the Planning Commission until now was the policies laid down in the Master Plan where the OS-2, PD-4 areas were intended for these types of activities. Therefore, they proceeded to refer interested people and study only those areas. He explained they did not have the assignment to look at areas that they might plan and zone as residential. Mr. Wahl advised this meeting clarified that and added they can provide an overview on the areas for which they have already asked. However, he added they can look at other areas and further suggested that they look at the whole master plan. Mr. Wahl believes they will find there are alternatives for some of the areas and that they should provide those other scenarios. However, he added there are also some areas where OST may be the most desirable alternative. Therefore, he would offer to look at the entire corridor of Twelve Mile Road to Grand River and beyond the six areas they asked for by February 1, 1998.


Mayor McLallen advised they have identified six priority areas of study and have further been advised that there may be additional areas. The six areas are: east of M-5, both sides of Meadowbrook north of Twelve Mile, west of Donelson to the railroad track, Grand River between Taft and Beck Roads, Section 18 and the West Road property. Further, staff has been directed to prepare the background information no later than February 1, 1998. The follow up from that will be that the Planning Commission will conduct their studies and public hearings, and the goal of this meeting is to have a master plan designation for OST in place no later than April 1, 1998.


Further, the Mayor advised she will take full responsibility for the issue about the mobile home park because she believed they needed to include it in their discussion. Mayor McLallen thought it would be important to include it to look at the whole community.





There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 12:03 p.m.





Mayor City Clerk



Transcribed by Barbara Holmes


Date Approved: January 12, 1998