TOWN HALL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1998 AT 7:00 P.M.
NOVI CIVIC CENTER COUNCIL CHAMBERS - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m.
ROLL CALL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor ProTem Crawford, Council Members DeRoche, Kramer (absent/excused), Lorenzo, Mutch, Schmid (absent/excused)
ALSO PRESENT: Ed Kriewall, Police Chief Doug Shaeffer, Dan Davis, Heidi Hannan, Tony Nowicki
MODERATOR: Matthew Quinn
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING: To allow the public an opportunity, in a Town Hall setting, to communicate with City Council and staff about areas of interest.
Matthew Quinn advised the format for tonight’s meeting will be written questions from the public, with live answers from Council and the staff during the first hour. After the live questions, Mr. Quinn advised they will break into private meetings for any questions that an individual member of the audience might have for a Council or staff member.
Mr. Quinn read: What is the status of Main Street?
Mayor McLallen advised that she attended a meeting this morning and the construction crews are back at work. She explained that Mr. Chen has received encouragement from his bankers to bring the crews back to work. She advised they are trying to complete the 200 Building before winter sets in. Further, she reported that Mr. Chen and his marketing staff are going to the Regional Retail Show in Chicago next week with hopes of attracting some businesses to Main Street.
Mr. Quinn read: When will West Road be completed?
Mr. Nowicki noted that is the Taft Road extension and the contractor’s schedule indicates that the project will be completed in July or August of next year. Mr. Nowicki added that the resurfacing and the total reconstruction of West Road from the Taft Road extension north to Pontiac Trail is expected to take place later in 1999.
Mr. Quinn asked Mr. Nowicki to address the construction on Beck Road near Pontiac Trail? Mr. Nowicki reported that improvement is a part of the City of Wixom’s recently approved bond issue. He added that the latest information he has is that they anticipate paving the final two lanes of that roadway sometime mid this month and expect to have everything completed with complete access to the businesses by October 30, 1998.
Councilman DeRoche suggested that Mr. Nowicki may want to comment about the effect the completion of this road will have on traffic that heads north and west around Walled Lake. Mr. Nowicki stated they are hopeful it will divert traffic from South Lake Drive up to Taft Road.
Mr. Quinn asked whether they can expect the completion of Taft Road to have an impact on the economic expansion of the City of Novi in that area? Mr. Kriewall believes it will have a significant impact. He explained along with the acquisition of right of way for that project, the city has provided for the extension of sanitary sewer and water mains for the area. Consequently, the developers are poised to commence significant light and heavy industrial development along that corridor. Mr. Kriewall noted that a couple of agreements have already been signed with perspective businesses in that area.
Mayor McLallen asked whether there has been any response to the contest proposed about renaming the road? Mr. Kriewall replied that Council has given Administration their approval to move forward with a contest for renaming the road. Mr. Kriewall advised that they have moved forward with this during the last few weeks. He explained they have met with the Novi News to set up the parameters of the contest and drafted an outline about how a nomination can be submitted; this should appear in next weeks paper. He advised they are also going to involve the north west area of Novi and LARA in the review process of the recommended name changes. However, Mr. Kriewall noted Council must approve the recommended name change.
Mr. Quinn read: In regard to the pending Kroger request of 8 Mile Road and Beck Road, does Council have any views about this change as to the Master Plan?
Councilwoman Lorenzo does not see any basis for a change at this time. She explained that the surrounding land has been master planned and zoned residential for many years, and it is either used as residential, for schools, as parkland or for churches.
In terms of the process, Mayor McLallen advised that the Kroger Corporation did not bring forward the request; it is a request by Stuart Frankel Development. Secondly, Mayor McLallen advised that the city is beginning to express a need to look at that area in the larger picture. She explained there is not what is considered to be neighborhood service west of Taft Road with exception of the small commercial development at Ten Mile and Beck Road. Mayor McLallen noted there is a large population currently west of Taft Road to Napier, there are approximately 1,200 dwelling units in some form of approval and there is also other vacant RA land. The Mayor stated the question is where should the services be located for this in terms of long range planning. She further asked that they need to determine what type of services should be offered. Mayor McLallen reported that the Master Plan Committee is looking at that issue and they expect to complete their study by February.
Mayor ProTem Crawford advised that Council has been requested to act on that issue and he would assume that would occur at the next meeting or the meeting after that unless the petitioner withdraws. He explained if the petitioner withdraws, there will be no action and if he does not withdraw, Council will probably act in his absence. Mayor ProTem Crawford added that he also agrees that at some point in time the city needs to look at potential areas for services on the west side.
Councilwoman Lorenzo is interested in knowing whether Providence Hospital is still moving forward with their negotiations for a supermarket at Beck and Grand River Avenue. Mr. Quinn advised they are rethinking their plan and they should know shortly.
Mr. Quinn read: There are a significant amount of traffic delays that could be avoided by correcting the timing of the lights in Novi. It seems as though the computer aided traffic flow does not work contrary to the reports. Have you ever driven Telegraph Road? When you make one light on that road, you make them all. Traffic flows smoothly, not like in Novi. I urge the city to monitor and correct the timing of lights. When one light turns green, you should not have to stop for another light which is five hundred feet in front of you. Improving the timing would not only alleviate traffic tie ups, but also minimize accidents. Is there anything the city can do?
Councilman DeRoche advised he has spent a lot of time in his car up and down Telegraph Road, but he is more impressed with Big Beaver Road. He explained he used to work on Big Beaver and at one time it took him twenty five minutes to travel from Coolidge to I-75. However, he found he can now travel along Big Beaver without even letting off the gas during rush hour traffic, in either direction.
Councilman DeRoche advised that he also spends a lot of time on Novi Road and he believes the computer-aided lights do work. He has seen them work when he travels in the early morning hours from Council meetings, but noted that a motorist must approach and stop in the right place at the intersection.
Councilman DeRoche continued by stating that one thing Novi Road experiences that Big Beaver or Telegraph Roads do not, is the amount of traffic switching lanes around the retail areas. He believes it causes a very erratic traffic pattern at different times during the day and that the lights work, if the traffic would travel straight through. Councilman DeRoche explained there is a significant amount of traffic on Novi Road that wants to turn at each light. Councilman DeRoche is also very concerned and he wonders whether there are any technical adjustments they can make to aid this system. Mr. Nowicki advised that Novi has a series of complicated intersections and the kinds of turning movements found in Novi are not found on Big Beaver or Telegraph Roads. He noted that both of those roads are boulevarded roads which simplify all of the turning movements. Additionally, Big Beaver and Telegraph Roads are primary roads and most of the signal timing is set up just to handle those two main roads. However, Novi is taking a systems approach for all of its traffic management and that includes Novi Road, Grand River Avenue, Twelve Mile Road and all of the other roads to optimize the traffic timing within the community and not just on a single road.
Councilman DeRoche asked what is the plan for the traffic flow on Novi Road? Councilman DeRoche travels a lot on Novi Road and questions why he has to stop at Arena Drive and stop again at Main Street when no one is waiting to turn out. Further, Councilman DeRoche believes the access to and from post office is very dangerous. Mr. Nowicki advised they are going to take another look at the signal timing for Arena Road because he has gotten reports that it is not functioning correctly. Mr. Nowicki continued by stating that the computer system must allocate a certain amount of green time toward every intersection in every phase of all of the intersections at one time or another. Further, the system detects vehicular traffic and then feeds that into a computer to optimize the entire network. He explained although there may not be a car at a cross street, the key intersection may be Grand River and Novi Road so that the motorist who is waiting at a particular signal can progress through the key intersection.
Mayor ProTem Crawford believes there is a perception of the system not working, but he understands that it is working much better than they might think. He understands if it were not in place, it would be chaos. Mayor ProTem Crawford suggested that residents personally notify the city about any problem areas.
Mr. Quinn read: What is being built where the old Hardee’s use to be?
Heidi Hannan advised that a Wendy’s is currently under construction at the site.
Mr. Quinn understands there will be access from Novi Road and Expo Drive; Ms. Hannan agreed.
Matthew Quinn read: With the Novi Fire Department being a full time paid department Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and volunteers on evenings and weekends, and even though the citizen’s committee back in 1995 did not recommend a full time paid department at that time, when will this be looked at again?
Mayor ProTem Crawford believes the Fire Department personnel and organization as well as the Police Department are continuously looked at. He added that he understands that full time Fire Department staff is currently on duty from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Mayor ProTem Crawford advised that Council and Administration do not support a full time fire department situation because it is not economically reasonable at this time. However, he believes they need to continually analyze what level of service they want provide the citizens in terms of safety and/or additional level of service.
Mr. Quinn read: In a recent Channel 50 news report, the Novi Fire Department was listed as having the poorest response time in metro Detroit. Has the city looked at this and what does the city plan to do to improve this?
Mr. Kriewall believes that was a statistical aberration because of some isolated problems that showed up in a particular period of reporting. Mr. Kriewall noted he discussed this with the Fire Chief and contrary to the Channel 50 report, Novi’s response times are very good. Mr. Kriewall reported that the fire department was upgraded in rating a couple of years ago and according to a report that appeared in the Free Press about a week ago, Novi is just about where they are supposed to be in terms of an overall rating for their department. Mr. Kriewall added that they also are expecting another upgrade in terms of the overall service in the department and that rating is due in 1999.
Mr. Quinn read: Recreation is much sought after in Novi. However, before the City Council takes on any new projects, I believe it is imperative that existing parklands are completed. Specifically the new Novi Community Sports Park. The soccer fields are as hard as a rock and the grass is minimal; there are no lavatories or a concession stand. What is the city’s timetable for completing that park?
Dan Davis replied there is a need to complete the park and noted there were several projects (i.e., Ice Arena) that currently took a lot of the staff’s time. Mr. Davis stated in regard to the Community Sports Park and the balance of the other parks, that the Capital Improvement Plan is in place that they are going to see that the budgets are approved so that the projects can be completed this year. Mr. Davis reported that the rest room concession buildings are budgeted for this year, but noted they experienced a small setback when they had gone out for the architectural bids for those and they did not receive any bids from approximately twenty different solicitations. Mr. Davis believes they should have them out to bid again this winter, under construction and then ready for operation next spring. In regard to the condition of the fields, Mr. Davis advised they experienced a set back for the electrical service that is needed to run the irrigation system and pumps that are in the fields. He explained that Detroit Edison did not have the necessary electrical service out there and they had to evaluate what their payback was going to be on the capital improvement. Mr. Davis reported that Edison did not feel that there was going to be enough electrical consumption generated from the park to support them doing it for free. Mr. Davis noted there was a warranted item for Edison service to actually get that amount of money budgeted, approved and out. He continued by stating they are currently waiting for Edison to complete the transformer installation which should be taken care of within approximately a week; they will then get the rest of the wells in and start operating the system. He added because it has been a dry summer and fall, they have not had a significant amount of rain to maintain the proper conditions of the fields.
Mr. Quinn asked what kind of work do they plan to do once the irrigation system is working? Mr. Davis advised they will rest two fields at a time for maintenance (i.e., fertilizing) on a rotation basis so that all the fields will be ready for next season.
Mr. Quinn understands they were experiencing the same problems with some of the baseball fields. Mr. Davis advised the amount of use is responsible for the condition the turf. He advised baseball fields do not have the same amount of use that they have for soccer. He explained that soccer has basically turned into a year round activity, so those fields are experiencing more wear and if they do not have the necessary irrigation and the ability to regenerate the grass growth, it just puts them that much further behind. Mr. Davis advised that it normally takes a two to three year growing period to condition an athletic field and get it to the point where they can just maintain it. He noted that they pushed the soccer fields forward because of the community need, and it turned into a two steps forward and one step back scenario. Mr. Davis added they are making progress and the rest of the park will be completed on a phase in basis with additional parking lot lighting, landscaping and things of that nature.
Mr. Quinn asked whether that funding is available. Mr. Davis advised they will address the funding for those items during the budget process.
Mayor McLallen advised that she understands they lock the gates during the day. Mr. Davis was not aware of that and they should be opened at 8:00 a.m. and closed at approximately 7:00.
Councilwoman Lorenzo asked Mr. Davis to estimate what amount of additional funding they will require to complete the park? Mr. Davis believes they are requesting another $250,000 to complete the other items.
Mr. Quinn read: What are the main aspects of the Police Bond that will be on the ballot this November?
Chief Shaeffer advised the police bond is a $3.5M project and represents approximately $7.50 per year per $100,000.00 home. Chief Shaeffer reported that the growth of the community is motivating the bond. He advised that they originally built the building in 1979 and although the planners did an excellent job at planning, the police department has grown approximately 86% and has changed dramatically. After much study, Chief Shaeffer reported the recommendation was that some major renovations should take place to accommodate today’s status and to insure that the building would serve for the rest of the future of Novi as it continues to grow.
Mr. Quinn asked whether there are some structural problems that need to be addressed? Chief Shaeffer replied some structural problems have developed over the past twenty years. He noted there are some particular problems along the portions of the building where it is built into the ground. He explained there has been water leaking into the building and although they have tried sealant types of paint and sloped the earth away, the water has formed its path and channel. Chief Shaeffer advised they have to remove the dirt and add a new sealant to the building to correct that problem. However, the Chief noted that because of the economy of scale, that improvement also allows the architect to add a small addition that the department needs for the function of the building and to accommodate the public needs. Therefore, instead of fixing the walls, they are going to replace them.
Councilwoman Mutch added that at the time they designed the building in 1979 there was not the same attitude about careers in law enforcement for women and they designed the building with only men in mind. In addition, Councilwoman Mutch stated they can attribute the greater expense to the improvements necessary to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mr. Quinn read: It is amazing how easily we welcome the mega- malls to Novi to mow down what little is left of the natural setting of our community. Yet a golf course, where everyone can enjoy fresh air and exercise is so very controversial. Why do you feel so compelled to give us a concrete world? Why can’t we have a more meaningful legacy for our future generations?
Councilwoman Mutch thinks it ought to be said that it is not an either/or situation. She believes there are a lot of things that they welcome. Councilwoman Mutch noted there are still commercial areas in Novi that can be developed, they still have industrial areas that can be developed and they still have a small amount of residential that can be developed. Councilwoman Mutch believes they welcome all development as long it meets the standards of the City of Novi. However, she also believes it does not mean that if they build something that is residential, industrial or commercial, that they cannot also have park property. She believes a golf course may very well fit into the city somewhere as a municipal amenity, but it does not mean that they have to have either/or.
In regard to the golf course issue, Mayor ProTem Crawford stated he is a strong advocate of a municipal golf course and he will continue to be so until they convince him otherwise. From all the reports he has seen, all the people he has spoken with, and municipal golf courses he has seen in other cities, he believes it is a tremendous asset to a community. Mayor ProTem Crawford also believes a golf course serves as a potential answer to a question that Mr. Davis had in terms of how is the city going to provide funds to continue to develop not only the North Novi Park, but also the Sports Park. From what Mayor ProTem Crawford understands, a municipal golf course would provide substantial funds to do just that. Mayor ProTem Crawford reminded the public that a golf course study session is scheduled for October 26, 1998.
Councilman DeRoche believes Novi still has a lot of concerns about where its commercial development is going to be as far as tax base and everything else. He also thinks a neighborhood oriented (8 Mile and Beck) supermarket, strip mall is meant to provide services to the citizens that live in the area and is not considered a regional service area like Twelve Oaks Mall or the West Oaks complex. Councilman DeRoche believes they have to look very seriously at where they are putting those. He also believes people want to have access to those services in their area. He also thinks they want them to be easily accessible and convenient. However, if their opinion is that it is not being done where they want to have it done, then it should not be built there.
Councilman DeRoche is glad that the golf course is controversial. He explained the City of Novi does not have big controversy when it does what it is supposed to do in terms of providing core services to its citizens. He believes that is what the city exists for and that is what the citizens want to do with their tax money (i.e., roads, police, fire, schools, library). He continued by stating when a city moves outside the core services, there should be a great deal of concern and they should ask themselves whether the city wants to provide a service to a select group of residents. Councilman DeRoche believes this is something that needs to be debated because it is controversial.
In terms of the regional mall concept, Councilwoman Lorenzo believes the city has met its saturation point. She noted that she did not support the West Village project and believes that the City of Novi would be much better served with that area developed as a high tech area. In terms of appropriate locations for shopping centers, Councilwoman Lorenzo believes that the Beck Road and Grand River Avenue area or the Novi area near the Wixom Meijers would be an appropriate location of services for the residents in the west end if they feel that they need a supermarket somewhere in that area. In regard to any type of municipal large scale, large cost recreation project such as an ice arena or a golf course, Councilwoman Lorenzo believes that putting those matters to the vote of the people is very important. She believes this is particularly important if they are asking the citizens to back it with the full faith and credit of the city. Further, in regard to priorities, Councilwoman Lorenzo believes before the city enters something like that, that the city must first complete its parks and use the money wisely in terms of making priorities. Consequently, Councilwoman Lorenzo will not support a golf course unless the citizens tell the city that is what they want.
Mr. Quinn read: I am not sure if this is a Council directed policy or a policy. However, I am very distressed to find out that if I want to know what is included in my daughter’s traffic accident report, I will have to pay three dollars a page. I am not allowed to read the report, nor will the police department even share the contents of that report unless I pay three dollars a page. Does this sound right? Can this policy be changed?
Chief Shaeffer reported there is a standard fee charge for copying documents and records. He explained the records are kept on the computer and they are not in a format that they can hand over to someone to read. However, he does not know why the department would not share the information with someone, especially information about a minor daughter and he must find out that answer. Chief Shaeffer suspects if the resident was disappointed on the last visit, they would be pleasantly surprised on the next visit.
Mr. Quinn understands if someone merely wants to review a report, that the Chief is suggesting that there should not be a charge. Chief Shaeffer advised they would do everything possible to accommodate the resident’s needs.
Mr. Quinn read: Novi is benefitting greatly from the increased tax base of new homeowners. Unfortunately, our neighborhood (Chase Farms) sees little protection in terms of contractors who are not fulfilling their promises to homeowners. We would like to know what recourse we have through the city to see that these contractors fulfill their obligation. One that really comes to mind is refusing to extend a certificate of occupancy or issue additional building permits. Some of the issues are items that were inspected by the city passed and later proved to be major issues with our contractor. As taxpayers, we would like to understand what action the city plans to take to protect its citizens.
Mr. Kriewall advised that the issue of home building and problems and defects and deficiencies that occur is a tough situation from a building inspector’s standpoint. He explained a lot of the issues turn out to be contractual, and the city can do nothing about them. However, he noted there is a procedure where a resident can proceed against a builder and his license at the state level. Mr. Kriewall advised that code violations and problems of incomplete homes from a structural nature are normally taken care of by the time the city issues a temporary certificate of occupancy or final certificate of occupancy. Mr. Kriewall reported that the city receives very few complaints city wide and some of the problems they really experienced fifteen to twenty years ago, no longer exist. He restated a lot of the problems are finish items or warranty items. Further, once the homeowner moves in, Mr. Kriewall believes it is difficult to get the builder to take care of these issues. If a resident has a problem, Mr. Kriewall recommended that the resident meet with Mr. Don Saven, the Building Official to make sure the resident is serviced through the state if he has a legitimate complaint against a builder.
Mr. Quinn read: What is the time table for the Beck Road interchange and is there any possibility that it can be moved up?
Mr. Kriewall advised that when the Governor announced his road priorities for the State of Michigan several months ago, he included the reconstruction of the Beck Road and Wixom Road intersections with I-96 as one of his top priorities. Mr. Kriewall stated he is pleased to report that this action moved the time table up on those projects approximately five years and means construction can be expected to begin in 2001 from 2006.
Since the state is improving the two interchanges, Mr. Quinn asked whether there is a requirement for the city and the county to improve Grand River between Wixom and Beck Roads? Mr. Kriewall advised as part of the MDOT requirements for completing their interchange work, they are requiring that the Oakland County Road Commission and the cities actually widen Grand River to five lanes between Beck and Wixom Roads. He continued by stating that there has been some uncertainty about where that funding is coming from, but Mr. Kriewall reported they have been meeting with Representative Cassis and the Oakland County Road Commission representatives to try to get them commit to making the necessary improvements. Mr. Kriewall added that the city has a letter on file from the Road Commission indicating that they will do everything they can to make sure that this project is not slowed down.
Mayor ProTem Crawford would urge the citizens, the Administration and his fellow Council members to continue to remind the State and County that the Governor has moved this improvement to the top of the state’s list and that the City of Novi expects this improvement to begin no later than 2001. He added this would also hold true to similar projects.
Mr. Quinn read: What is still to be completed in the last road bond issue?
Mr. Nowicki replied they have intersection improvements at Eleven Mile and Beck Roads, and they are planning to include that improvement with the Wixom and Eleven Mile Road Water and Sewer Project which flows right through that area. He continued by stating that Nine Mile and Beck is currently under contract for an intersection widening which includes signalization. Mr. Nowicki reported the city is working with MDOT for Nine Mile and Novi Road improvements and MDOT has received bids, but have not yet made the award and should come forward when the commission meets. He noted the improvements include the widening of the entire intersection, including signalization. Mr. Nowicki advised Meadowbrook Road is currently under contract and under construction. They anticipate having most of the roadway completed this year and they may be short some restoration and landscaping next year. They may also put in the top wearing course next year. He explained it depends upon how the weather holds out. In addition, the Taft Road Extension is underway and they should complete it by July or August of next year.
Mr. Quinn read: What is the status of senior citizen housing in Novi?
Mayor McLallen advised that the site has been selected and the architects have presented plans for the building to Council and there is a meeting scheduled for November 5 with bond attorneys’ to discuss the bonding for the project so that construction can begin later next year.
Mr. Quinn read: Why was the notice for this meeting hidden on the third page of the Novi News? There does not seem to be enough publicity for a meeting like this or for the meeting for the golf course scheduled the end of the month. There are a number of people that are interested in the golf course and I also suspect that there are a number people that would be interested in being here tonight to ask more questions if they had known about the meeting. What can be done to better publicize these types of meetings to the public?
Mayor ProTem Crawford advised that they try to publicize these meetings and he would have liked to have seen more people here tonight. Mayor ProTem Crawford believes they would have to pose the question about why the notice appeared on the third page of the Novi News to them. He is sure that Lou Martin, the Public Information Director has inundated the newspaper with notice of this meeting. In addition, Mayor ProTem Crawford has seen this meeting publicized on the cable channel. However, he added they are open to accepting any suggestions.
Mr. Quinn asked if they ever thought about constructing a sign in the front of the building. Mayor ProTem Crawford recalled that was approved in the budget several years ago. However, by the time they were done studying it, the new council removed it from the budget. He added that he would support placing a small sign in front of the Civic Center to publicize city activities.
Councilwoman Mutch advised that Council has a Communications Committee that is reviewing a whole range of how the city communicates with the public and how the city can facilitate communication back from the public. Councilwoman Mutch added that Council knows that notices were sent everywhere and that the meeting was advertised on cable, but she explained they are just guessing at how people get their information. Councilwoman Mutch reported that the city is trying to take advantage of the fact that the Oakland Press and the Detroit News and Free Press are taking an interest in Novi in a way that they never did before. She added that they are finding that not only are they covering meetings and issues, they are also letting the public know about issues that are coming up.
Councilwoman Lorenzo agrees that the city needs to take advantage of the interest shown by the other newspapers about Novi. She also suggested that they can use the other community newspaper, the Northville Record, which a lot of people in Noville read.
On behalf of the citizens of Novi, Mr. Quinn thanked the Council members and staff for being present for the first Town Hall Meeting. Mr. Quinn hopes this meeting will be the first of many because he believes it provides a good format for discussion they cannot normally get into at a Council meeting. He added that he is certain once the word gets out that a series like this exists, more people will attend.
There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Mayor City Clerk
Date Approved: October 19, 1998