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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:14 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor Pro Tem Bononi, Council Members Capello, Csordas, DeRoche, Landry, Lorenzo
Maryanne Cornelius, the City Clerk, passed out to Council an application received from Mr. John Patrick Ramsey. Mayor Clark added Mr. Ramsey to the agenda with a 9:00 p.m. interview.
Mayor Clark noted there was no audience participation.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
Interview applicants for appointment to City Council to complete term ending 11/03 of Member Craig DeRoche.
Mayor Clark noted the purpose of the meeting and explained the vacancy left with Member DeRoche’s resignation effective after this meeting. A decision will be made by the next Council Meeting.
7:00 – Toni Nagy
Miss Toni Nagy stated she has been a resident for 21 years, a business owner, in the past an instructor at Oakland Community College, and a homeowner’s association officer. She has previously participated in Road Bond Committee, River Day, and a Planning Commissioner since 2000.
Member Lorenzo noted her position as Planning Commission Chair and asked her to describe the leadership skills she brought to the commission. Miss Nagy responded she enjoys the Planning Commission and feels she brought camaraderie, respect for one another, good communicator, mutual respect within the group, and the commission as a whole works hard and works together. She believes she brings that to the commission and controls the meeting so it doesn’t get out of hand. They are a polite and professional commission. Member Lorenzo asked how her time is spent on preparation and what influences her decision making. Miss Nagy described her strong suit as the big picture; she reads all the backup materials and reviews the details and blueprints, and visits the sites. Her biggest challenge is the traffic reviews. She also works with the department in setting an agenda and tries to consider everyone’s concerns. She spends many hours on the cases but it’s rewarding to feel prepared. Member Lorenzo asked why she applied for the Council position. Miss Nagy stated she has a
great interest in what happens in the City. Mayor Clark and Council have done a great job and she would like to be a part of this continued process and can bring a lot to the table. She has
worked with business plans, a million dollar budget and she has the highest rated condominium association in the State or Michigan. She also oversees schedules, deals with contractors, painting, roofing, sewer, drainage and worked with the City regarding Lakewood. Miss Nagy has also set up a mediation panel for neighbor’s conflict resolution and she also deals with the CPA, the attorney regarding foreclosure, investigations, and programs for tree planting and care in the park. People, pets and parking are difficult areas but she has taken care of those areas to the satisfaction of the residents; she has been re-elected several times. She would like to be part of the positive progress made by Council in the City.
Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked if the residents had two main expectations of Council, what would she think those two most important expectations would be and how would you serve those expectations? Miss Tony Nagy responded the most important would be fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer. Secondly, health, safety and welfare of residents as this involves open communication with the elected officials and administration Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi inquired how she makes decisions. Would Council decisions be made based on compliance with ordinances, professional or personal experience, acquaintance with the project and applicant? Miss Nagy stated they are bound by obligations to meet ordinance requirements. These are our local laws to be enforced.
Member Capello asked Miss Nagy if residents received adequate services for the taxes they pay. Miss Nagy replied there have been improvements to services regarding snow plowing, but there can always be improvement with snow removal, and police. She noted Council added three police officers and knows it is appreciated. Member Capello asked what she would do to improve City services other than snow removal and the Police Department. Miss Nagy feels the basic services are police, fire, snow removal, and EMS. Improvements in these areas are needed to keep up with technology, proper equipment, and education or continuing education. She would like to see the city pay for garbage removal also, but understands most cities cannot afford to do this. Member Capello asked besides traffic what is the most serious problem facing the City of Novi today. Miss Nagy answered what is left to plan and the properties that are no longer easy to build on in addition to traffic problems. The toughest is to balance the tax base, with residential and different forms of residences and traffic. Member Capello asked what types of uses do we need more of in order to balance our tax base? Miss Nagy responded the Master Plan Committee has requested a listing of empty retail space, but they do not have it yet. She feels we can hold off on Commercial Retail, Office Service Technology and light industrial are good. Husky is good but melding and planning it in an attractive way is necessary and the infrastructure to provide services to those businesses.
Member DeRoche asked how she voted on Expo Center. Miss Nagy replied she voted no. Member DeRoche asked why she voted no. Miss Nagy responded the Planning Commission is charged to uphold ordinances. The Ordinance that the overlay district was put in did not meet the ordinance requirements and the Planning Commission’s biggest concern was traffic. The traffic concerns involve the health, safety and welfare of the residents and those that come in to do business in the City. Member DeRoche asked if she was on Council, how would she have voted? Miss Nagy answered if her duty as commissioner is the same as council member, her obligation is to the City and to uphold the Ordinances. Therefore if no compromise was made, she would have had to vote no. Member DeRoche asked if a private school wanted to locate here but has to cut down good trees and fill in quality wetlands, would she vote to allow them to do this or preserve it all and not have the educational opportunity for young people. Miss Nagy replied the Planning Commission recently had a situation involving a private school. If you are a person who carefully reviews what the property has, and Ordinances, there could be a compromise to fill in some wetlands or cut some trees down. Member DeRoche asked if Council sometimes has to make difficult decisions. Miss Nagy replied difficult decisions are made all the time that cannot please all people at all times. Member DeRoche asked if she has been involved in any political campaigns. Miss Nagy answered she supported Sean Carlson. Member DeRoche asked how he did in Novi. Miss Nagy answered the newspaper carried the story. Member DeRoche asked if she felt it was a risk in appointing someone to a Council that is currently elected. Miss Nagy responded an appointment for short term is safer and less costly to residents than special election. Member DeRoche asked if her decision making for Planning is an independent process or done with a group of people she regularly communicates with. Miss Nagy stated she reviews the materials and ordinances herself, not with consultation with others. Member DeRoche asked about an email she wrote in 1999 and he asked if he could share that. Miss Nagy replied no. Member DeRoche asked if she believed in the concept of smart growth and stopping urban sprawl. Miss Nagy replied she believes in property rights, but with property rights comes Federal regulations, State laws, and local laws. She does not believe smart growth really works. She does not think the city can do much more than they have. Once the city is built out, the growth will move to South Lyon. Growth has to be beneficial to residents and the City.
Member Csordas stated he opposes the process of interviewing candidates and Council selecting someone. The interviewing deprives the citizens of the opportunity to vote for their elected officials. He feels that would be a small price to pay as it is 007% of the general funds. Member Csordas asked if she worked on campaigns for any council members. Miss Nagy replied she worked for Mr. DeRoche in 1999. Member Csordas asked what her top goals would be. Miss Nagy stated the budget and a good business plan are a first priority, roads are always important with regular maintenance plans, and more community parks funding. Member Csordas questioned what other programs would she take money from? Miss Nagy does not know as she has not seen a full budget. Member Csordas asked how she would fund additional road improvements. Miss Nagy stated the additional road improvements will not be able to be done until the road bond, voted on in 2000, is retired. She also stated, regarding the parks, everything does not need to involve money. She would like more volunteers in the city that could offer free services. Parks could be improved that way. Member Csordas asked Miss Nagy what her leadership style would be as a Council Member. Miss Nagy replied to listen first and not enter a meeting with your mind made up. The seven members on Council and nine members on commission bring varied and respected ideas. Member Csordas wanted to know her philosophy on tax abatements for Novi business citizens? Miss Nagy feels they can work, but tax abatements need to benefit both the business and the City. Member Csordas asked what would her vote have been on a tax abatement for the Expo Center? Miss Nagy replied she would have voted yes because the Center has contributed to the growth of the City.
Member Landry asked about land use planning and development, several issues arise with every piece of property; please rank, in the order of importance the following, consistency with the Master Plan and Ordinances, income generation, additional services, and environmental concerns. Miss Nagy stated she agrees with the ranking he gave. Member Landry asked her feeling about meetings that go beyond midnight? Miss Nagy replied it depends on circumstance, as she makes up the agenda, she considers the applicant and tries to anticipate the number of questions and staff. It is not out of the ordinary to go past the "proposed end time" but some times there is a point as humans where you are too tired and not making good decisions. The decisions become emotionalism. You need to be fair to everyone including the viewing audience. Taking everything into account, the goal is to set a reasonable agenda for the commission, audience, residents and staff.
Mayor Clark stated he is not concerned about who she has supported in the past. Looking at the next two years, what does she see as the greatest problem we will deal with in the city? Miss Nagy responded finances. A great job has been done by Council and the City Manager on the budget and secondly from the statements on the survey and speaking with the taxpayers, both businesses and residents, would like the city not to grow so fast and have more green space.
7:20 – Michael Meyer
Mr. Michael Meyer stepped to the podium and stated he has been a resident for 20 years and served on the Zoning Board Association for four years, the school board for twelve years and as a Treasurer of the homeowners’ association 4 years.
Member Landry asked what his opinions are about the current state of development. Mr. Meyer thinks it appears to be mostly retail and that concerns him with so many vacancies in stores and buildings. Member Landry asked what the most important attribute of a council person is. Mr. Meyer answered representing the citizens by listening to them. Member Landry asked in a land use and planning decision how Mr. Meyers’ would rank in importance the issues between consistency of with the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance, income generation of a potential project, added need for City services and environmental conditions. Mr. Meyer stated his ranking would be added need for City services, the environmental would be a factor, and the other two as three and four. Member Landry asked about the length of meetings? Mr. Meyer responded he believed the most important part of the meeting is the people who bring their concerns to the city and should not have a time limit on their comments unless it is a group.
Member DeRoche asked how he would have voted on the Expo Center. Mr. Meyer would have voted to keep it in Novi. Member DeRoche asked if there were an educational group wanting to build, what is more important; the future of the children’s education or preserving the trees and wetlands. Mr. Meyer stated the High School would get his vote, but would encourage them to protect the land. Member DeRoche asked what Mr. Meyer’s decision making process is? Is it an independent process? Mr. Meyer stated he believes in the freedom of information statute, he never conversed with any school board members ahead of time and believes in doing all homework. No one has all the answers so he might need to ask for additional information. Member DeRoche asked is it a risk for this Council to appoint someone who has not had a plurality of the people. Mr. Meyer reflected the votes are not important, someone wins, someone loses – the ability to vote is so important and there is a risk if he would be appointed. Member DeRoche asked Mr. Meyer his position on smart growth and governments’ role in stopping urban sprawl? Mr. Meyer responded it is not governments’ role other than to abide by the master plan.
Member Lorenzo asked what motivates him to want to become a Council member. Mr. Meyer answered his motivation is from Plato that when you get as old as I am, you should give back to your community. He feels he can only change himself, not other people. Member Lorenzo asked how often he watched Council Meetings. Mr. Meyer answered he watches them regularly, just not to the wee hours of the morning; he also tries to keep up with what is going on through the Agendas and the Novi News. Member Lorenzo what is important to him when he looks at a decision for the City? Mr. Meyers’ stated what is important is the common good for the City, through study, listening, analytical reasoning and logic, which is what he taught that at college. Member Lorenzo asked if there where any specific Council decisions he has agreed or disagreed with? Mr. Meyer answered the Sandstone decision was remarkable; in response to the residents who wanted the park land preserved and Council needed to use it for the common good, we needed to use park land for negotiations. Member Lorenzo asked about development; is residential growth outpacing non-residential and will it have a future impact on the City? Mr. Meyer felt residential and commercial were equal in growth.
Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked how he sees the relationship between the Capital Improvement Plan and the Master Plan working together and are we doing a good job at putting the two together? Mr. Meyer responded the Capital Improvement Plan is how we would fulfill the Master Plan in a prudent and reasonable way and appears to be working well. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked should we have a formalized business plan covering all units built. Mr. Meyer responded it would be beneficial to all who want to build here as an instrument of order. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked how? Mr. Meyer replied by making clearer what is expected. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked Mr. Meyer if he heard a fellow Council Member disparages Local, State and Federal law and you are disconcerted, what would be his response. Mr. Meyer replied he hoped he would be would be able to bring it to the floor that he could not accept the lack of respect and ask the Council Member to take a second look.
Member Csordas asked if he has worked on a campaign for current Council Members. Mr. Meyer replied no. Member Csordas asked what his top priorities are and how would he achieve them. Mr. Meyer said to represent citizens and the objective would be to be a student of the City and study materials received and inquire from the departments for clarifications to make prudent decisions. Member Csordas asked what his leadership style is? Mr. Meyer replied his style is to communicate – he taught communications and how to deal with positive and negative feedback. His style is to focus on the person and address their concerns to be able to come to common ideas to achieve a goal. Member Csordas asked how he would deal with someone with self interests? What if they are lying? Mr. Meyer responded if they are distorting the truth he would hope to bring them back to the truth. He gave an example of a disparaging letter and stated his opinion was to not accept the letter, it was not appropriate to be included in the meeting. He would speak up. Member Csordas asked what was his philosophy on tax abatements? Mr. Meyer stated the key is a limit on the tax abatements. Member Csordas asked how to determine the appropriate limit? Mr. Meyer stated he would look into that so as not to have extensive tax abatement. Member Csordas asked if he would have voted for a tax abatement at the Expo Center? Mr. Meyer replied he would have approved the tax abatement for the Expo Center but is concerned about the time length of the tax abatement. It was the appropriate decision to make.
Member Capello asked about the relationship between the school and city. Mr. Meyer replied that it was tense. At that time, one administrator did not have respect for Council and vice versa. He spoke of enjoying his time on the school board and voted for the current school administrator. He feels he has the time and energy to devote to Council. He continued explaining his philosophy regarding how mutual respect can accomplish many things. Member Capello asked what additional services residents could use. Mr. Meyer felt the services are remarkable currently. He gave an example of a fire in his neighborhood and the quick response from the Fire Department. He would like something more for the senior citizens.
Mayor Clark noted the selection of Dr. Lippe was great. He stated another example of Mr. Meyer’s wisdom was not having meetings run until 1 or 2 a.m. Mr. Meyer answered he would give what ever time is necessary but it is important to let the people speak. Mayor Clark asked in looking at the next two years, what does he see as the greatest problem or challenge we will deal with in the city? Mr. Meyer replied communication with residents perhaps a regular newsletter for communicating with them. Mayor Clark noted Mr. Meyer’s son is a representative of the country in the Peace Corp in Africa.
7:40 – David Ruyle
Mr. Ruyle briefly explained he has been a resident for twenty three years. He has been involved with the City the past eighteen years, six on the Parks and Recreation, this year on the Planning Commission and the Committee establishing the 52nd District Court in Novi. He stated he does not disappear as he ran twice for Council but came back and made himself available to the City.
Member DeRoche asked how he would have voted on the Expo Center? Mr. Ruyle said he voted in favor. Member DeRoche asked if a private school wanted to locate here but has to cut down good trees and fill in quality wetlands, would he vote to allow them to do this or preserve it all and not have the educational opportunity for young people? Mr. Ruyle replied he favored the high school with tree replacement or wetland mitigation. Member DeRoche asked if he arrived at decisions independently? Mr. Ruyle answered very much so, but also through listening. He noted three major decisions where he arrived with a pre-conceived idea and through listening changed his vote. Member DeRoche asked how Mr. Ruyle felt about smart growth and stopping urban sprawl? Mr. Ruyle stated we can not do anything about smart growth but can regulate urban sprawl.
Member Lorenzo asked what motivated him to serve on Council? Mr. Ruyle stated it is a desire he has and feels he has a lot to give to the people. He also believes things are black and white. Member Lorenzo asked how he arrives at conclusions. Mr. Ruyle stated he bases decisions on how the city will benefit and based on the Master Plan, with the knowledge that the Master Plan can and must be changed at times. Member Lorenzo asked when should it be changed. Mr. Ruyle gave the example of Catholic Central; it had to be changed to accommodate better usage of land. Member Lorenzo asked if residential growth is outpacing non-residential growth? Mr. Ruyle answered no.
Member Landry asked, assuming, he was on Council and made a decision, and a resident contacts him to express their concern and disappointment, how would he handle this? Member Ruyle feels he would listen and agree they have a right to their opinion but explain he has the right to vote as he feels is best for the City as a Council person. Member Landry asked how he feels about cable casting the commission meetings? Member Ruyle replied they are spending tax dollars and the Citizens’ have a right to see what is going on. Member Landry asked about build out in Novi? Mr. Ruyle responded there are several major corridors not built out. We need to build there with a tax base coming into the City, with use limited services, we need to have correct development there.
Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi is fascinated by his decision making process being black and white, please give more of an explanation? Mr. Ruyle stated he believes it is either right or wrong. He can have his mind changed with additional information. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked how important is deportment in getting things done? Mr. Ruyle stated it is very important through communication, by expressing himself and still walk away friends. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked if he has reservations about the concept of smart growth, what is wrong with it and what would he change to fix it? Mr. Ruyle answered locally, it is creating another bureaucracy and he believes in letting another person create their own destiny. Council needs to control who serves on commissions and boards to control smart growth. There are intelligent people currently serving who have done their homework and make good decisions. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked what smart growth means to Mr. Ruyle. He replied development, environmental, and tax planning.
Member Csordas was interested in the statement about boards and commissions, can he give more explanation? Mr. Ruyle stated he would review their applications for qualifications, desire and do they have what Council is looking for. He also felt Council should have the power to ask for a resignation. The City of Novi is successful because of those appointed. Mr. Ruyle also explained he thinks Council did a great job with Sandstone and did not know if he would have been able to do that. Member Csordas stated Mr. Ruyle mentioned the word power, does he mean friends of people in political power should be appointed to the boards? Mr. Ruyle replied no, the person who is qualified for the job should receive the appointment. Member Csordas asked if Mr. Ruyle was aware he did not vote for some Planning Commissioners? Mr. Ruyle replied stated he is aware as he was one of them. Member Csordas asked Mr. Ruyle if he will be able to live with something that was not black and white? Mr. Ruyle noted a decision that was tabled at last night’s Planning Commission meeting. Member Csordas asked if he worked on campaign for Council? Mr. Ruyle replied yes. Mr. Ruyle further explained he wished to serve to listen and promote the ideas of the citizens. His heart’s desire is to serve fellow man and promote the welfare of fellow man. He also spoke about his decision to vote for the Expo Center regarding the $189 million for the city. Member Csordas asked what his top priorities are and what could be done better? Mr. Ruyle stated nothing comes to mind. Member Csordas asked what was his leadership style? Mr. Ruyle said it is to listen, direct, and cooperate. Member Csordas asked his feelings about tax abatements? Mr. Ruyle responded depending on the business and if the benefit to the city far exceeds the agreement, with caution so that the school will not suffer. Member Csordas asked about Tower Automotive? Mr. Ruyle answered he would have voted for it if he had studied it further. He was not aware it would have been in a leased facility.
Member Capello asked if he felt the Planning Commission was unfair or discourteous? Mr. Ruyle stated the commission is at times. Member Capello asked what could be done differently? Mr. Ruyle stated he tried to give the applicant an out and he bent over backwards to get to the applicants point of view. Member Capello asked if the city administration is unfair or discourteous? Is the Planning Commission rude to the administration? Mr. Ruyle replied yes, the meeting he was talking about was one he missed. He proposed to have a public study planning meeting to discuss problems or air gripes. He also noted the staff works for the City Manager and indirectly for the Planning Commission. They have desires and wants, they are to provide them but they have to work with them not against them. Member Capello asked if there was any decision of Council he did not agree with? Mr. Ruyle stated yes, the rezoning of Office Service Technology for condominiums at Twelve Mile and Meadowbrook. He disagrees with the development not the developer.
Mayor Clark asked what is the greatest problem or challenge Council faces? Mr. Ruyle answered what we will put along the golden corridors such as Grand River, Novi Road, and Twelve Mile. Novi has become hoity toity but we are proud that we are, we have a beautiful City because the tone has been set.
8:00 – Robert Gatt
Mr. Robert Gatt stated he has addressed Council many times in the past twenty seven years but never as an applicant and considers it an honor. He has never run for political office or sat on a board or commission not because he did not want to but could not as he served in another capacity. He said when he retired from the Police Department, he would run for Council and now the opportunity presents itself since his retirement in May 2002.
Member Capello asked about Mr. Gatts’ job responsibilities at the city. Mr. Gatt stated he began as patrol officer, promoted to the Crime Prevention Bureau then on to the D.A.R.E. program that he had proposed to Chief BeGole. Today, the program is one of the best in the country. He was then promoted to Sergeant and supervised a shift of road patrol. He has always dealt with residents. Member Capello asked what additional services are the citizens looking for? Mr. Gatt replied the City is perceived to be hoity toity and we are proud of it. With a reduction of revenues, the City will be asked to do more with less. He knows the Police Department performs far above what is expected but does not know how long they can continue to provide what the residents expect with reduced revenues. Member Capello asked where would Mr. Gatt focus his attention to complete development along the major roads? Mr. Gatt felt the City should continue with the ring road idea.
Member Csordas asked if has worked on campaigns for any council member? Mr. Gatt responded yes. Member Csordas asked what he felt is a top priority and how to achieve the goal? Mr. Gatt replied to utilize his knowledge and experience from his twenty seven years of working in the city. By living in the city so long, he knows things others can not possibly know and what has worked and not worked in the past. One of his goals is to build bridges between Council Members. Member Csordas asked what was his leadership style? Mr. Gatt replied preparation for everything, do not come unprepared, know the issues, have integrity and be honest with himself. Member Csordas asked about his position on union negotiations? Mr. Gatt replied he has been a union leader and president, he contends that a contract is reached by talking, bargaining, and compromising and agreeing. He feels he could shed light on what the other side thinks. Ultimately they are all working towards the same goal, a harmonious relationship between the leaders and workers in the City. Member Csordas asked what his philosophy is on tax abatements? Mr. Gatt stated every situation is different. The case needs to be weighed and discussed on its own merits, he is not against them. Member Csordas asked if he would have supported the award to the Expo Center, and why or why not? Mr. Gatt yes, because of $189 million in revenues to the city. He believes Council did the right thing.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked with regard to his concept as a bridge builder, how would he gain acceptance in that communication mode? Mr. Gatt replied it would rely upon the openness of other members. He continued to speak about getting along with many others, even those of opposing views, and can be a good conduit. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked about his personal convictions and how they would fit in this program? Mr. Gatt stated honesty and integrity. His personal feeling is integrity would always be number one and listening to bring dissenting sides together. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi mentioned Auburn Hills enacted an ordinance that requires applicants to state to whom and in what amount that applicant has donated to a political campaign. What would he think about the enactment of such an ordinance in the City? Mr. Gatt did not like that idea. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked would the amount be irrelevant? Mr. Gatt did not like the concept. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked would it make a difference to the whom the residents elect to office? Mr. Gatt stated he would not change his feelings, he would be against that ordinance.
Member Landry asked about the direction we’ve grown? Mr. Gatt stated he likes the direction the city is going and also where the city has been. He likes people keeping an eye on things. That is why we have elected officials and Mr. Helwig. Member Landry asked what planning we should be doing to keep the city on track. Mr. Gatt replied keeping the right people in the Planning Department and listening to them and through discussion and consensus of the Council. Member Landry asked about staying late for meetings? Mr. Gatt stated if people want to be here to talk, Council should listen. Also, Council should not talk to hear themselves talk. Member Landry asked his feelings about cable casting all boards and commissions? Mr. Gatt replied they should all be on cable.
Member Lorenzo asked about pursuing his dream to run for office and what motivates him? Mr. Gatt replied to use the knowledge he has gained as a servant to the city as a base for keeping the city moving forward on the tremendous course it is on. Member Lorenzo stated she does not watch cable either and asked what are some mistakes and positive things happening in Novi in the recent past? Mr. Gatt mentioned Council made a mistake long ago regarding Sandstone but thanked Mr. Helwig for his work on it with the current Council. While driving to Pontiac he sees the contrast of other communities and is proud of the city and what Council has done. Member Lorenzo asked what his approach is to decision making? Mr. Gatt replied it is his integrity and what he believes and why does he believe it, this is done through preparation. He continued to speak about taking all the time you have in making a decision and making the most honest decision for yourself. Member Lorenzo asked about zoning changes on Eleven Mile and Office Service Technology zoning, does he feel this area is better as high tech or apartments or condominiums? Mr. Gatt replied building something that requires little City services and generates revenue is best. Member Lorenzo asked does he think residential development is outpacing non-residential? Mr. Gatt replied as a police officer driving around it seems residential development has outpaced commercial.
Member DeRoche asked his opinion about the Expo Center decision made by Council? Mr. Gatt replied he is aware of current and former owners and believes the Council made the right decision. Member DeRoche asked if a private school wanted to locate here but has to cut down good trees and fill in quality wetlands would he vote to allow them to do this or preserve it all and not have the educational opportunity for young people? Mr. Gatt Catholic Central is a builder of men and displacing trees or wetlands the good will far outweigh. Novi will be well served by the school. Member DeRoche questioned Mr. Gatt about his decision making style? Mr. Gatt replied his decisions will be independent with preparation which will be listening, research, exploring. Member DeRoche asked about reports on drugs being more prevalent in the High Schools than in the past even though DARE was in effect. If data showed it was not working, would he vote against funding DARE? Mr. Gatt answered DARE is not the only answer but research saying that DARE does not work does not tell about the officer in the school that builds relationships with teachers and students. He told the story about the children that opened up to him. This type of relationship with an officer is repeated all over the country.
Mayor Clark asked what he perceives to be the most important challenge Council will face in next two years? Mr. Gatt answered the City will be faced with revenue reductions from the State that will force them to make decisions to have the employees do more with less.
8:20 – Siddharth "Mav" Sanghvi
Dr. Sanghvi thanked Council for the opportunity to speak with them. He stated he has been in residence since 1975 and owned a business since 1975 as well when the population was about 6,000. He has witnessed changes and some not always good. He brings to the table 50 years experience and lived on 3 different continents. He made a conscious choice to become an American citizen. Dr. Sanghvi stated he brings values of truth, honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion, empathy and respect for others feelings. He believes every living thing has a soul and a right to live on this planet. Dr. Sanghvi continued speaking about his service on the Zoning Board of Appeals adding a new dimension to his experience in Novi. It has taught him many things including making decisions maintaining the sanctity of the ordinances and interpreting them. By serving on Council, effective changes are made. He has no experience in political campaigning. His decision making is backed up by his career as an orthopedic surgeon presenting pros and cons and try to find what is best. There are no second chances in that field. In practicing medicine for over forty five years he has sufficient personal skills to know what matters and does not matter, what the priorities are. Dr. Sanghvi believes life is a triage, you have to decide what is the best under the given circumstances and take the appropriate decision and go with it full force without looking back.
Member DeRoche noted they met in 1996 when they worked together on the 2020 vision. A conversation with Dr. Sanghvi prompted him to run for office. Member DeRoche asked his opinion on the Expo Center? Dr Sanghvi commended the Council for a brave decision. Member DeRoche asked about the hypothetical private high school; what is the priority the children or the environment. Dr. Sanghvi believes that forty acres of land that can be used in a productive way for the benefit of the City by development. He would rather preserve wetlands and trees and build smaller units around it than building a huge structure with football fields, tennis courts, etc. as an organization that won’t pay taxes. Public Officials are the trustees with taxpayer’s money, safety and security. We need to be careful that we would not be depriving our own resources with revenues lost on just such an effort. He feels more people would be pleased with the decision to save wetlands, using the land productively and have a win-win situation. Member DeRoche asked if he was an independent decision maker? Dr. Sanghvi stated his is an independent process, data needs to be collected, hear the fellow Council Members; you cannot come with a predetermined decision. At that particular point in time, you must make the decision best for all concerned. Member DeRoche asked if he has run for any office? Dr. Sanghvi replied no. Member DeRoche asked if government should be involved in limiting urban sprawl and smart growth. Dr. Sanghvi stated his idea is best government is the least government but while deciding, pay attention to the constraints of the ordinances.
Member Lorenzo asked about what things matter to Dr. Sanghvi in Novi. Dr. Sanghvi replied as a councilperson he wants to continue the excellent work of all previous Councils. He likes what has happened and wants to be part of that, it is something good. Member Lorenzo stated that things are good but what were some past mistakes. What could have been done differently. Dr. Sanghvi felt we grew much faster than infrastructure, roads primarily. He believes in having a big dream or vision first and that is why it is important to have a Master Plan . The Master Plan does need to be a living, breathing document and must move and change with the times. We have had a lot of development but not enough parks. Parks are the lungs of the city. There are also too many vacant parking lots. He suggested centralized parking or shuttle buses. Dr. Sanghvi thought the ring road, and the fountain at the corner of Grand River and Novi was great idea. Member Lorenzo asked if he thought residential growth was outpacing non-residential growth? Dr. Sanghvi replied no, residential growth is the anchor of our tax base. Businesses come and go but the balance is good as it is now. The residential community, parks, fountains, and downtown café’s are still most important for the quality of life.
Member Landry asked what he believed is the biggest challenge facing Council? Dr. Sanghvi stated money, where to raise the funds for police, modernizing fire department, improving and maintaining the roads. The second problem is traffic. We need the concept of a ring road, less automobiles in the city center and providing the business commuters; we need roads. We need to work with the County and State to receive funds for improving the infrastructure. Member Landry asked Dr. Sanghvi to assess the development of the City and the planning and direction the City is going. Dr. Sanghvi likes the direction the City is going, there are many advantages including shopping, a hospital with beds, entertainment. You do not have to leave the city for anything.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked Dr. Sanghvi to describe the two greatest expectations the Novi residents have of government? Dr. Sanghvi answered low taxes and better communications.
Member Csordas asked if Dr. Sanghvi has worked on any political campaigns for any Council members? Dr. Sanghvi replied no, he had not participated in any campaign. Member Csordas asked what his top priorities would be as a Council Member. Dr. Sanghvi stated it depends on the issues at the time, to develop priorities for what matters and what does not matter. As a member of a team, group dynamics are a very important fact of life. Problems take a team to solve. Member Csordas stated the patient is the City of Novi, Dr. Sanghvi is the physician, what is the prognosis? Dr. Sanghvi said the prognosis is excellent, any ailments are minor. They can be taken care of by vigilance and communication with respect. Member Csordas asked what would his leadership style be? Dr. Sanghvi responded his leadership style is by example. Member Csordas asked what was his philosophy on the tax abatement for the business citizens? Dr. Sanghvi answered if the business is going to bring tangible and intangible benefits to the community he has no problem with tax abatements. Member Csordas asked what he would have done in the situation of the Expo Center. Dr. Sanghvi responded said it would have been a great shame to let it go somewhere else, some years ago, the city lost the Wixom plant. He commented how Sandstone had become a millstone and Council resolved it and it was a tremendous feat.
Member Capello asked what was the most common petition for the Zoning Board of Appeals? Dr. Sanghvi answered that would be for building decks without enough backyard for setbacks. Perhaps it could have been prevented ahead of time by not allowing such a big house on a small lot to be built. Member Capello stated Dr. Sanghvi already answered his second question. Dr Sanghvi further explained many of the Zoning Ordinances, and Sign Ordinances need to be looked at. We are a mature city, a point has been reached where experimentation with newer things can take place.
Mayor Clark stated he heard the most pressing issue is money.
Dr. Sanghvi thanked Council for their time.
8:40 – Frank Brennan
Mr. Brennan stated he has been a twenty year resident, he has served eight years on the Zoning Board of Appeals, and Echo Valley homeowner’s association president for fifteen years. His favorite accomplishments are his involvement in environmental issues and the Protect a Cop vest program from the 1980’s.
Member Capello asked what the most common appeal is on Zoning Board of Appeals? Mr. Brennan agrees with Dr. Sanghvi, houses are built to the max and anything the homeowner wants to do requires a variance and could be remedied with an ordinance. Member Capello asked the if there are differences in Mr. Brennan's decision making process between Zoning Board of Appeals and what he would be doing on Council? Mr. Brennan stated he reads the packets three times, he highlights and makes notes ahead, listens to applicant and through discussion, arrives at a decision. Member Capello asked if there have been any bad decisions made by Council in the last year? Mr. Brennan responded he has thought about this and can only come up with the road bond priority list having Wixom Road being paved from Grand River to Ten Mile, he questioned that at the time. Member Capello asked if he favored granting a tax abatement for the Expo Center? Mr. Brennan responded yes, because it would have been a shame to have them leave, but more importantly, having them in another location. Member Capello stated he knows what role residents play in his decision making on the Zoning Board of Appeal. What role will the residents play in his decision making on Council? Mr. Brennan stated he is on record as being very influenced by residents being impacted when it comes to adjoining commercial and industrial. He listens to the residents, sometimes they are in groups, but over all he knows they can not appease everyone on every decision.
Member Csordas asked if he has worked on any campaigns for current members on Council? Mr. Brennan answered he had signs in his yard.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked about Mr. Brennan’s participation in environmental activities in the State, can he tell her about them? Mr. Brennan stated it was regarding drilling oil wells in the city and other communities. He was asked to help in Commerce, Milford and Farmington. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked what the greatest expectations of the citizens in Novi are of their government? Mr. Brennan replied to be honest, and to be fair. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi asked what is our governments’ grade at those two things? Mr. Brennan stated this is a wonderful community and gives it an A-.
Member Landry asked if Mr. Brennan was looking at a land use project, how would he rank the considerations of: consistent with Master Plan and Zoning Ordinances, what kind of income it is going to generate for the City, what kind of services will it draw and the impact on the environment. Mr. Brennan replied his ranking would be 1. Master Plan 2. environmental 3. City services ,and income last. Member Landry asked how he feels about the mix of commercial, retail, residential? Mr. Brennan stated there is a wonderful mix. It is good to have specific things in zones, commercial in commercial zones, etc. He explained that two weeks ago there was a Master Plan change request for Residential to Commercial at Ten Mile Road and Beck Road. There was not a need seen for the change as there is a very successful commercial district on Grand River that serves the needs of the community. Member Landry asked how would he respond to a citizen that contacted him about open space and concerns about what would be built there. Mr. Brennan answered you need to deal with property as it is zoned, the owner of the property has the legal right to build there.
Member Lorenzo asked what motivates him to serve on Council? Mr. Brennan stated he was asked and felt he wanted to take it on and it was a natural progression for someone already serving the community. Member Lorenzo asked how often does he watch Council meetings? Mr. Brennan stated he watched the previous Monday’s until 12:30 AM. He watches Cops, the Red Wings and Council meetings. Member Lorenzo asked what his opinion is on the Master Plan and when it is appropriate to change it? Mr. Brennan responded the Master Plan is a living document and does change. The Planning Commission changes it whenever it needs to be changed. Catholic Central is an example, if there is a potential for Planning to revise the Master Plan with a school coming and they have the opportunity, that is the time to make changes. Member Lorenzo asked, assuming he was on Council last Monday, the Master Plan calls for Eleven Mile and Meadowbrook to be Office Service Technology and was changed to Residential, how would he vote? Mr. Brennan felt that growth and expansion should be Office Service Technology enhanced and probably would not have favored it. Member Lorenzo asked if he still believed those corners at Ten Mile and Beck should remain residential? Mr. Brennan agreed the corners should remain residential and not be rezoned.
Member DeRoche cited his case that was in front of Zoning Board of Appeal and has first hand knowledge of Mr. Brennan’s open mindedness. Member DeRoche further commented he recalls Mr. Brennan’s comments on the Expo Center that he would have voted to keep it here. Mr. Brennan responded yes. Also he addressed Catholic Central as well. Mr. Brennan felt that was one of the classiest run private schools in the State and a wonderful opportunity. Member DeRoche asked if his decision making was an independent decision or a group consultation? Mr. Brennan replied he does his homework and research, obtains clarification through legal or administration, but in the end makes up his own mind. Member DeRoche asked if he has run for office before? Mr. Brennan responded no. Member DeRoche asked if he believes in smart growth or local government restricting urban sprawl? Mr. Brennan answered if it means the State regulating development, he does not agree with that.
Mayor Clark asked what is the biggest challenge Novi will face? Mr. Brennan responded he is not convinced traffic problem will be fixed in the next two years. The traffic will only be worse because of growth to the west of the City.
John Patrick Ramsey - 10:40 p.m.
Mr. Ramsey stated he is from a corporate background managing 210 billion dollars in assets. Currently he is in a Management level in strategic planning, with high level confidential issues, a key area that he is working on. He began in training and development and he has a specialty in human performance improvement. Mr. Ramsey brings a wide set of skills based on the corporate experience and adds value to a role on City Council. He has also been involved with a number of professional organizations and volunteer organizations. Mr. Ramsey has spent the last four years as the Roma Ridge Homeowners’ President. He also spoke about letter writing campaign in his subdivision with the results sent to the Planning Commission about the ramifications of a decision being made.
Member DeRoche appreciated his service as President of the homeowners association. Why did he decide to do an interview for the Council position? Mr. Ramsey responded he had homeowners phoning and asking him to consider this and he tries to give back to different organizations that he has taken from. Mr. Ramsey also feels he is responsible for setting an example doing that. Member DeRoche asked his opinion on the Expo Center? Mr. Ramsey answered based on what he knows now, considers it an asset and to have it in the right spot. Member DeRoche asked about a hypothetical private high school vs. wetlands, and tree cutting; what does he value first and second? Mr. Ramsey felt most people moved to Novi for educational opportunities. Having Catholic Central is a great asset but does not see a real coherent project plan. Without understanding all the facts, it was a good decision, but would rather have Catholic Central rather than retail. Member DeRoche asked about facing stacks of information and how he makes his decisions, independently or from seeking influence from other groups. Mr. Ramsey stated he would read the material and speak with Council Members and bounce ideas off community residents. He feels it is important to get all the information and consensus building is a most effective way to make a decision. Member DeRoche asked that at the end of the day is it an independent decision of influenced? Mr. Ramsey replied it is independent. Member DeRoche asked if Mr. Ramsey has been active in any campaigns or ran for office? Mr. Ramsey replied no and no. Member DeRoche asked his position on smart growth and local government intervening with urban sprawl. Mr. Ramsey answered a number of Novi Residents are concerned with a lot of growth without need. He cited the development at Ten Mile and Beck Road is about fifty percent vacant. We need to manage growth appropriately at a local level.
Member Lorenzo asked if he watches Council meetings? Mr. Ramsey answered he has watched some. Member Lorenzo asked if he is aware of the Master Plan in general and the relationship to zoning? Mr. Ramsey replied yes. Member Lorenzo asked with regard to changing the Master Plan, and how it relates to Zoning, should it change often or adhere to it? Mr. Ramsey feels it is closer to being written in stone than a living document. If there is a proposed change he would like to know why it was zoned that way initially before he would recommend a change. If the change makes sense and for a specific reason, then make the change. Specific areas such as Ten Mile Road and Beck Road should remain residential as that is what residents purchased their homes knowing it was zoned. Member Lorenzo agrees this city is a business and is he aware of the financial conditions and do taxpayers get what we pay for in services? Mr. Ramsey believes there is good value for taxes we pay.
Member Landry asked what is the biggest challenge? Mr. Ramsey replied smart development is crucial and quoted that for every action, there’s a reaction. He believes this also applies to development, especially in the retail sector. If Blockbuster comes in, the Rent-a-flick a mile away leaves, when Kroger comes in, Vic’s Market does not have enough volume to sustain itself and goes away. He felt that an understanding is needed about whom is building what and do they have a valid business case. He has heard from many residents the word "saturation". This is a big challenge. Points of concern for many residents are the many vacancies throughout the city. Member Landry asked if a particular lot is zoned retail, does the city have the right to tell applicant they can not build there? Mr. Ramsey replied no, it is a challenge for planning. Member Landry asked if Mr. Ramsey looked a particular project that came before the City and he considered the four rankings, how would he rank them? Mr. Ramsey replied he would see the business case as his top priority, secondly would be environment, following with ordinances.
Mayor Pro Tem-Bononi stated she was intrigued that he has not been taken by the smart growth litmus test. She was glad to hear his order of priorities from Member Landry’s previous question. Member Pro-Tem Bononi asked about his campaign in the future for Council. Mr. Ramsey stated he would be prepared to run for Council. Member Pro-Tem Bononi asked what inspired him to submit an application for the Council seat interviews. Mr. Ramsey stated he made the decision on Sunday. He would have submitted his application earlier but needed to speak with his references. Member Pro-Tem Bononi asked him to explain about his comparisons with progress and the environment? Mr. Ramsey stated there needs to be a balance to take of care the existing wetlands and accommodate business needs. Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi stated one of Mr. Ramsey’s skills is leading technology and change management, what is the most difficult thing about change? Mr. Ramsey stated part of the change process is a freezing and unfreezing then freezing again of attitudes, approaches, methodologies, and mind sets of people and organizations. The process requires a lot of consensus building, communication and strong partnerships in people are the key elements in successful changes.
Member Csordas asked Mr. Ramsey’s philosophy about tax abatements? Mr. Ramsey replied if it helps the city meet a specific goal, he is in favor. He gave an example of a hypothetical Joe Louis Arena being built; it makes sense if it is in the vision of the city. Member Csordas asked his opinion about Councils’ decision on the tax abatement for the Expo Center? Mr. Ramsey stated he supports the tax abatement. Member Csordas asked if the stop signs on Cider Mill have helped. Mr. Ramsey answered yes; he has also helped obtain additional signs on Venice and additional Police coverage. Member Csordas asked if he is familiar with the northeast corner at the intersection of Twelve Mile and Novi Road, should they be allowed to build a gas station and block the entrance to the Cemetery? Mr. Ramsey stated he would be against it.
Member Capello asked what Mr. Ramsey believes to be the four major thoroughfares? Mr. Ramsey replied Novi Road, Grand River, Eight Mile and Beck Road a fifth would be Haggerty too. Member Capello asked which roads would need the most land use planning. Mr. Ramsey replied Novi and Beck Roads. Member Capello asked why Beck Road. Mr. Ramsey replied that Beck Road, by default, is becoming a main thorough fare with additional retail corridor. Beck Road being somewhat landlocked should be widened.
Mayor Clark asked what is biggest challenge facing Novi in next couple of years. Mr. Ramsey mentioned intelligent development, the traffic challenge and the park situation. People have moved here because of a rural feel because of a lot of undeveloped area and people think of it as park land.
Mayor Clark noted there was no audience participation.
Letter from Sarah Gray Re: Toni Nagy
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at 11:10 p.m.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by: ___________________________
Date approved: January 6, 2003