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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL
OF THE CITY OF NOVI
CALL TO ORDER 9:03 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor Pro Tem Bononi, Council Member Capello–absent/excused, Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo, Sanghvi
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
Dave Maurice – Environmental Services/Geographic Information
Marina Neumaier – Finance
Nancy McClain – Engineering
Dave Evancoe – Planning
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Cindy Uglow – Neighborhood Services
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as presented.
Mark McManus, 44000 Nine Mile Rd., brought his concerns to Council regarding the Miller Creek and Thornton Creek. He noted that one resident had 7 inches of water in their basement from flooding of Thornton Creek. He displayed a map with the Miller and Thornton Creek where it runs into Dunbarton Pines. The 1983 storm water master plan recommended an inline detention pond near the Dunbarton basin. Since MDEQ wouldn’t approve an inline stream detention, there has been an increase in volume and speed of water to their subdivision. He stated some homeowners can no longer use portions of their back yard from flooding and dead trees. The engineer’s report indicated it would cost $610,000 to fix the Dunbarton basin. There is a contingency factor of $125,000. He felt competitive bids could lower the $480,000 even further. That would be for a complete correction. He felt the entire project could be fixed for approximately $200,000. Large oak trees and corresponding wildlife have been affected from the softening of the stream bank.
Mark Robbins, 2295 Austin Dr., requested support for the chip seal project. He provided a disk and press releases where MDOT has used chip seal to pave roads. He felt chip seal roads could help get their neighborhoods out of the mud. He grew up on a farm in Ohio which had a chip seal road since 1952 that has lasted a very long time.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING – 2003-2004 CITY OF NOVI BUDGET
1. Continuation of Budget Program Categories: (Council discussion regarding the spending plan priorities)
Mr. Helwig stated that the Environmental Services staff is recommending for the 2003-2004 fiscal year that the Dunbarton basin project be undertaken and completed, and that funding be allocated for this project. He also recommended funding for both the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project in 2004-2005, and the Village Oaks Lake dredging project in 2005-2006.
Member Sanghvi added that he believes the time has come to fix the Dunbarton drainage basin in such a way that the basin is repaired for the foreseeable future.
Member Csordas inquired about the fiscal status of the matching fund grant for fixing the Dunbarton drainage, and if the funding would disappear. Mr. Helwig responded that the Clean Michigan Initiative grants have been put on hold, and that additional funding is not available to the city for fixing the basin. Mr. Maurice added that the Rouge Program Office offers a $250,000 grant for restoring the Dunbarton drainage basin, but that the city must equally match each dollar spent from the grant on the project. The Rouge Program Office has not yet issued an ultimatum for using the available grant money. Though additional grant money may potentially be available from the Rouge Program Office in the future, this money has not yet been proposed or approved. Member Csordas asked what the taxpayer cost to the city would be for the Dunbarton project. Mr. Helwig stated that $277,000 was requested from the city to adequately complete the project.
Member Lorenzo added that prioritizing and funding drainage projects are very important. She is concerned about other similar issues of ineffective drainage basins across the Novi area stemming from older designs of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Member Lorenzo feels that a list should be constructed of Novi drainage sites in need of modification, in order to prioritize projects in need of funding. The Dunbarton drainage basin project would qualify as a water quality project, as would many similar projects in the area. She recalled an example of very severe erosion problems in Bishop Creek on Ten Mile Road. These projects would then qualify for future grant money from such sources as the Rouge River program and the Clean Michigan Initiative. She feels that antiquated Novi drainage sites should be identified, listed, and then prioritized for possible grant money. Also, other projects such as the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project have been on hold for lack of funding, which she feels is a higher priority project for the proper functioning of the regional detention basin.
Mr. Maurice agreed that a prioritization list of possible city drainage projects needs to be created, but that the city currently has Rouge Program Office grant money dating from when the city had a Department of Public Service. He stated that because of time constraints on the available grant money, and the possible time requirements of conducting further studies on the site, the Dunbarton drainage project is especially important to complete in the near future.
Member Lorenzo responded that additional grants may be available through the Rouge Program Office for projects, and that the Dunbarton project could possibly be funded on a larger-scale basis in conjunction with other projects. Member Lorenzo expressed concern over the potential withdrawal of funds from the city’s general fund or drainage fund for repairing the Dunbarton site if larger-scale funding options exist. She added that the Dunbarton drainage location may not need repair more than other similar sites in the city, some of which Council may not yet know of.
Mr. Maurice added that other grant-funded projects are underway to stabilize stream banks in the area of concern. He agreed that equity in the treatment and prioritization of drainage sites is very important.
Member Lorenzo expressed concern for treating citizens and various drainage sites in need of repair with equity. Also, budgeting for drainage sites this year may eliminate the city from further grant funding consideration. She feels that Meadowbrook Lake and Village Oaks Lake dredging projects should be the top drainage project priorities during this year, costing about $1.8 million for the two in 2003-2004 dollars. She estimated that an additional $733,000 would be needed to complete both projects this year. She noted that transferring the money allotted for the Dunbarton project towards these two sites would reduce the additional needed funding by almost $300,000.
Mr. Maurice said again that prioritization is essential to proper handling and repair of the city drainage sites, but that prioritizing potential sites might have no bearing on the Dunbarton drainage site because grant funding is currently available for that project.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that prioritization of drainage projects is very important, but that the Dunbarton project was not earlier considered a priority. She asked why the Dunbarton project is now a priority, other than the basin’s available grant funding.
Mr. Helwig responded that the Dunbarton project has been part of the city’s storm water pollution prevention plan for some time. Grant funds were obtained to facilitate achieving the repair of the drain. The plan was included in last year’s budget document as background information and was listed on that budget’s cover as one of the key projects to complete. The potential loss of grant funding for the Dunbarton project is also a factor in the basin becoming a high priority item.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi responded that she understands the concern regarding grant funding for the Dunbarton project, but that not enough other reasoning supports the high prioritization of that task. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi then asked why the focus of a recent plan to construct a new storm water drainage basin has been changed to modification of the existing Dunbarton basin.
Mr. Helwig responded that the existing basins don’t serve their purpose if they are not meeting all the needs that they were intended to meet. He asked what purpose there is to having infrastructure where there is massive flooding and stream bank erosion, if that infrastructure is not being properly maintained. He stressed that maintenance of existing infrastructure is an essential priority for the city.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked about a proposal brought before the Storm Water Committee. She asked how the proposal, which was intended for the improvement of one storm water basin, was being applied to improvements of two different sites.
Mr. Mauriceresponded that the proposal was brought before the Storm Water Committee with the intent of discussing ideas and issues pertaining to the basin with the committee only as a discussion item.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked Ms. McClain if it makes sense to proceed with one basin versus two.
Ms. McClainresponded that, considering the erosion occurring in Novi drainage basins right now, looking at only one basin is more effective for managing and containing costs. However, the study was done with the intent of improving two basins. Getting underway with at least one or both of the projects immediately will begin to address the erosion problems confronting the noted basins, instead of allowing the basins to remain in their current need of repair.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked if undertaking only one basin project right now would require re-application or amendment to the existing funding approval for the projects.
Ms. McClainsaid that working on only one project of the two right now may require modification to the funding authorization, but that amendments would require discussion with the Rouge Program Office.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that the Dunbarton project is not a stated Council priority. She added that the Council will examine benefit accrued. She understands Mr. McManus’s personal position very well, as he has explained the magnitude of his problem thoroughly. She said that priority is the number one question, dollars the second, funding status the third question when considering potential drainage projects. She asked Ms. McClain if any un-built property would benefit from the improvement and enhancement of the noted basins. She asked if there would there be any revenue generated from detention basin fees that would be forthcoming in that sub-watershed to help defray costs.
Ms. McClain stated that there may be undeveloped lands upstream that may put into the regional basin if so designed, but that these lands might already handle their own storm water detention, in which case there would not be any fee revenue generated by development of these lands.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked approximately how much revenue might be raised from fees, with regards to the master plan build-out studies, should developers wish to make use of the regional drainage and detention basin when developing these lands.
Ms. McClain did not know exactly how many acres of land are available, or how much revenue could be raised from associated fees. She said the city encourages developers to continue with its existing storm water ordinance and does not usually discuss the regional basin system. Because the regional basins don’t currently exist, estimates of future fee revenues associated with these lands cannot be established.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi responded that she is just looking for approximate revenue projections of these future regional basin systems, in order to consider the option of establishing the regional basins. She added that, in looking at the general fund within
the context of hopefully found revenue, there is a $2,645,558 increase in proposed spending over the year 2003. This equals approximately a 7.57% spending increase over 2003. She asked Ms. Neumaier of the Finance Department if her spending calculation was correct.
Ms. Neumaier responded that the figure was correct, and that the spending calculations are shown on page four of the general fund document. The city has $23,809,870 allotted for the 2003-2004 budget.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi responded that given the current economic climate, it is very important to hold the 2003-2004 budget to this year’s budget figures without spending increases. Plenty of money remains in the budget for various tasks, and she feels with these available funds it is essential to avoid losing available grant money earmarked for the Dunbarton drainage project, even though Council previously failed to prioritize the project. However, she does not want to exclude the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project. She asked if the money for this project should be extracted from the drain revenue fund, or if the needed money to complete the dredging project should be generated by fees associated with the regional drainage basin. She would like to see an administrative proposal regarding the funding of the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project. She will not support only undertaking one of the projects, as there is sufficient need and resources to complete both.
Member Landry said that he sees the administration as putting forth the recommended priority for three projects. He sees a recommendation for budgeting funds for the Dunbarton basin this year, a plan on page 49 of the budget for generating funding for the Meadowbrook Lake project, and also a plan for funding the dredging of Village Oaks Lake. He feels that the improvement plan for these basins is well thought out, as funding is properly allocated. Thus, he feels that the city should go forth with undertaking all three basin projects, including the Dunbarton basin site this year. Member Landry noted that Mr. Maurice said the administration is looking into stream bank stabilization, an important component of the projects’ viability.
Mayor Clark joined Member Landry in his analysis of the projects. He said that the Dunbarton project has been studied for a long time, at some expense. Mayor Clark noted that studies of potential work sites require significant time and expense. He noted that delaying the Dunbarton project will both increase the site improvement costs, and possibly cause the loss of available grant funding for the project, and thus felt it would be foolish to delay the Dunbarton drain improvement. Mayor Clark felt that the Dunbarton basin project is more pressing than the Meadowbrook Lake drain project, as the Dunbarton drain has seen more destruction in recent years. He felt that improving the Meadowbrook Lake drain can and should wait until the 2004-2005 year. The Village Oaks project should wait until the 2005-2006 year.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked if a study had been done on the drainage sites under consideration. Mayor Clark mentioned that a study was not needed if the site was already prioritized. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked Mr. Helwig if the school district was planning to use these future storm water basins, and whether or not they will be paying storm water fees in order to use these basins that will be provided to receive their storm water.
Mr. Helwig answered that the school district’s plans are currently being reviewed. The plans must meet the 100-year storm standard adopted by Council.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi noted that this is good for water quality, and asked if the district would be discharging its water into these regional basins, as opposed to onsite holding detention basins.
Mr. Helwig responded that the district will be using the regional basins, and that so little impervious surface is created by school construction that discharge from the schools will be minimal.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked Mr. Helwig if there is a commitment to undertake both drainage projects.
Mr. Helwig responded that the city knows that long-standing projects such as these drainage basins need to be done. If there is a way to advance funds from on of the city’s other funds in order to move the Meadowbrook project forward sooner, then it might be worth pursuing. He said a sense of priority is still needed from Council in order to determine what to move along in what order. He would like to get more than one project rolling this year if possible.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi stated that she would be willing to bring forward the Dunbarton plan in 2003-2004 first, especially considering the available funding for this task. She would also like to examine spending increases in the general fund, and attempt to defer non-critical ‘big-ticket’ items of $250,000 increases or more, in order to bring both drainage projects online.
Mr. Helwig stated that with an established priority list of projects, advancing funds towards the Meadowbrook Lake project would allow the city to begin that task immediately following completion of the Dunbarton project. He has asked his staff to examine how Birmingham has dealt with dredging Quarton Lake. Birmingham used state-of-the-art technology that is perhaps kinder to the environment and less expensive than conventional dredging. The dredging material was baked adjacent to the lake, which reduced costs associated with the dredging. He also wished to clarify that the requested city’s requested spending increase for the 2003-2004 fiscal year is an increase of about 4.8%.
Mayor Clark said that demands for residential services are prudent and sound, as the number of residences in the city has continued to increase. He said that the services in discussion are being conducted without further tax increases, which many communities are not able to do in periods of economic difficulties.
Member Csordas agreed with Mayor Clark’s comments that the proposed budget is prudent, based on projected revenue growth outpacing projected spending increases. He said that the $250,000 grant money should be used for the Dunbarton basin project while available, and that the site work should go forth before the project expenses increase after this year. He said he will support the recommendation of the administration on the Dunbarton basin matter.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that the proposed spending budget does not "hold the line" on spending, but that there may exist proper justification for the proposed spending increases. She said that some of the proposed spending items could perhaps be deferred or eliminated. She said that a commitment to completing a certain amount of the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project might persuade her to agree with the proposed budget spending increase. She noted that a recent program on National Public Radio announced that average business spending was reduced by 4.2% this year, while the city is proposing a spending increase of 4.6%. She said that the city should avoid borrowing future revenue for completing projects in the present, but should commit to completing current capital projects with only same-year revenue.
Member Sanghvi stated that he would like to somehow fund both the Dunbarton and Meadowbrook Lake projects for completion this year, instead of postponing one of the projects until a later date at a greater cost. He said he lives near the Meadowbrook lake area and is well aware of the flooding problems that the region experiences, and that the site should be worked on as soon as possible.
Mr. Helwig noted that he would like to complete both the Dunbarton drainage basin project and the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project this calendar year, but said there may not be enough funds available to entirely finance both projects from the drain fund. He said that beginning the Meadowbrook Lake project, in addition to the Dunbarton drainage basin, is very feasible.
Member Landry expressed concern over the possible financing of both drainage projects by borrowing from dedicated funds. He asked Mr. Helwig if it is possible to use funds other than general budget funds to finance the Meadowbrook Lake dredging. Mr. Helwig responded that it is possible to use funds not from the general budget to finance the project. Mr. Helwig said that the funds would likely be borrowed on the premise that they would be replenished in the next fiscal year.
Member Landry asked what other funds could be borrowed from. Mr. Helwig answered that the Drain Perpetual Maintenance Fund may be available to borrow against. Ms. Neumaier said that money that would otherwise have been used for the drain fund would be used to replenish money borrowed for the Meadowbrook Lake project.
Member Csordas asked if the city follows a regional detention program or an onsite detention program. Mr. Helwig answered that the city uses both methods, but that onsite detention facilities are being more frequently encouraged when possible. Member Csordas said that the drainage funds are set in accounts by charging developers for the regional detention program, even though the city is moving away from using that system. He asked how quickly the city could refund borrowed money using the regional basin fee program. Mr. Helwig said he would like to get advice before answering the question. Member Csordas said he views this financing possibility as spending money that the city does not yet have.
Member Lorenzo asked if the projected balance of the drain revenue fund on June 30, 2004, including all appropriations for 2003-2004, would be $621,915. Ms. Neumaier answered yes. Member Lorenzo then asked if the cost to complete the Meadowbrook Lake project would be approximately $500,000. Mr. Helwig answered that $425,000 is
recommended for allocation towards the project for this year, and an additional $500,000 would be necessary next year. Member Lorenzo then said that the needed additional $500,000 is available for the project this year through the drain revenue fund.
Member Landry asked what the purpose of the drain revenue fund is. Ms. Neumaier answered that the fund was established as a special revenue fund to account for the separate millage revenue allotted for drain maintenance and some special projects. Member Landry asked if the Meadowbrook Lake objective is the type of project that the drain revenue fund was intended to finance. Ms. Neumaier answered that it is.
Member Landry asked if the city would exhaust the drain revenue fund if it was to use that fund this year to complete the Meadowbrook Lake dredging. Ms. Neumaier answered that the project would reduce the drain revenue fund balance to about $121,000 for the year. Member Landry asked how much of the drain revenue fund was used last year. Ms. Neumaier said that drain fund received revenues of approximately $2.4 million in 2001-2002, and that actual expenditures were $1.5 million.
Member Landry mentioned that using drain revenue fund money for the Meadowbrook Lake project makes sense, provided that the money will not be needed this year. He said he would like Mr. Helwig to be able to meet with financial advisors to ensure the viability of borrowing $500,000 from the drain revenue fund in order to finance the Meadowbrook Lake dredging.
CM-03-04-123 Moved by Bononi, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: Motion to direct City Manager to investigate the subject under discussion with regard to initiating both projects for Dunbarton basins 1 and 2, and the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project, to bring forward the feasibility financially of using drain revenue funds for the additional $500,000 that would be required, in addition to monies that have been set aside for Meadowbrook Lake, and the $277,000 as local community match to enhance the Clean Michigan Initiative grant for Dunbarton.
Roll call vote on CM-03-04-123 Yeas: Clark, Bononi, Csordas, Landry,
Mr. Helwig asked to next discuss mosquito control. Mayor Clark asked Mr. Helwig if there has been a communication from the county that Novi may be eligible for funds allocated to each community for mosquito control. Mr. Helwig answered that this was correct. He said that additional county funds for mosquito control are approximately $19,000, and that Novi is in line to receive these funds in addition to the $49,000 of city funds for mosquito control efforts that Mr. Helwig is recommending for this July, 2003 – June, 2004. In addition, a recommendation would be made May 5 as part of a budget amendment to allocate $20,000 for the spring treatment, which is critical especially in drainage and catch basins. This would allow Mr. McCusker to acquire many materials in-house, to keep costs as limited as possible. The $20,000 budget amendment request is for education as well as the spring treatment.
Mr. Klaver said that Mr. McCusker has attended a number of seminars on mosquito control for the West Nile virus. At this point, he believes that the best plan of attack is to use a larvicide treatment. He is not planning on spraying because of environmental concerns of such applications. He said that perhaps even more importantly, the spraying is considered ineffective because killed mosquitoes are replaced in the same area within a matter of hours by other adult mosquitoes. Mr. Klaver stated that the city has approximately 9,000 catch basins, and of those are about 6,000 that remain wet throughout the course of the year, and which therefore present possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes. He said the funds that Mr. Helwig discussed would allow the city to treat all 6,000 of those catch basins. In addition, the city would also treat with a packet, which is good for 90 days, and with a briquette, which is good for 120 days. Other wetland areas, such as Community Sports Park, would also be treated. Mr. Klaver said wetlands near congregations of senior residents would also receive priority because of the greater health risk of the virus to seniors.
Member Sanghvi asked what would be done to treat adult mosquitoes. Mr. Klaver answered that treating for larval mosquitoes in early May would destroy them before the mosquitoes could reach adult age. Member Sanghvi expressed concern over whether remaining adult mosquitoes may not be killed using larvicide. Mr. McCusker said the recommended method of treating for mosquitoes is to use larvicide because of the greater effect on the entire mosquito population. He said the county will not refund money to communities for contact spraying of mosquito populations because the method is considered largely ineffective. Alternative control methods are also being investigated, he said, such as installing bat houses, installing purple martin houses, and releasing species of mosquito-eating minnows. He said that stagnant, non-moving water is especially good habitat for mosquito breeding, but these may not be the types of mosquitoes which carry the virus. He said the city may be able to effectively track and monitor areas of habitat this year which may be more susceptible to breeding by Culex and "Tiger" mosquitoes, two of the known carriers of the West Nile virus.
Member Sanghvi asked if treating 6,000 different potential breeding sites in Novi with about $50,000 of funding would allow for effective mosquito population control. Mr. McCusker responded that a portion of the city’s control method is to treat catch basins of stagnant water that flow downstream using larvicide packets. He said the packets contain a compound that "stays in place" with the water as it moves, effectively treating a greater area. Each packet of larvicide costs about $0.93. Mr. McCusker said that these packets are "over the counter treatments" which can be distributed to home owners for treatment of potential mosquito habitats as well. Through bulk purchasing through Oakland County, Mr. McCusker said control costs can be more effectively managed. The Department of Public Works has employees which are certified to apply control chemicals, and will treat some potential habitats with applicator spreaders and other equipment.
Member Sanghvi said that treating an area such as Village Oaks Lake and its accompanying surroundings is an enormous task, and could cost great sums of money between labor and chemical purchases. He encouraged a "realistic view" of the costs of mosquito treatment. Mr. Maurice noted that the city of Novi is attempting to identify high risk areas for West Nile virus carrying mosquito populations. He said that treating only these areas, instead of any area where only other mosquitoes may survive, can greatly reduce costs. Member Sanghvi expressed concern for not targeting all mosquito populations in Novi, not just regions of potential habitat to Culex and "Tiger" mosquitoes. Mr. Maurice answered that treating all areas of possible habitat of any mosquito species in the city may not be obtainable.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi noted that she and others are willing participants of seminars focusing on the fight against the West Nile virus. She said that many concerns exist regarding what can practically be accomplished to eliminate the threat of the virus. She said that only undertaking such a hazardous program that would expose people to significant risk could completely eradicate the threat of West Nile virus. She said that the mosquito program proposed by Mr. McCusker is "exactly on track", and corresponds very well with other control programs being conducted in the tri-county area.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi agreed that focusing efforts on wetland areas frequented by children and the elderly is the proper method of conducting control. She said that areas which have had the West Nile virus threat for the longest period of time, such as the state of New York, are already seeing a cyclical decrease in the number of human cases of West Nile virus infection. She noted that safely treating threatening mosquito populations without harming people requires a fine balance. She commented that personal usage of mosquito repellants should also be encouraged, and that excellent information sources on the subject are available.
Mr. Klaver said that public education is a very important component of the city’s West Nile virus control efforts. He said information is available on the city of Novi’s Internet website, and other informational websites will be listed in two upcoming newsletters.
Member Lorenzo commended the administration and staff for taking a pro-active stance on the West Nile virus issue. She noted that larvicide treatments during the most effective period of the mosquito breeding season should help the city’s control efforts. She asked Mr. McCusker if the level of catch basin cleanout maintenance will be increased this year. Mr. McCusker answered that a large portion of the summertime support help, normally devoted to cutting grass, will be largely devoted to catch basin cleanout efforts. He said the city has a general contractor to provide much of the grass cutting services this year. The DPW’s two areas of primary concern this year will be controlling catch basins along streets, and joint sealing.
Member Lorenzo asked if Mr. McCusker has the personnel resources necessary to increase the mosquito control program. Mr. McCusker answered that the DPW has increased its part-time help for the summer, which will help the department get through the most rushed periods of cleaning and general maintenance during the summer. Member Lorenzo asked Mr. McCusker to let Council know if additional resources are required for proper control efforts during the year.
Mr. Helwig continued on the agenda. He said increased compliance action at construction sites of soil erosion and sedimentation control have been Council goals. He said Cindy Uglow and other staff have put together a work program. Mr. Helwig said she is the final person that he is recommending for service improvement, in hiring an environmental code compliance officer. He said the city is responding to complaints, as the city does not have a system for monitoring or inspecting work sites, for counseling the principles at work sites. In addition, a community goal is to protect and enhance wetlands in the area. He said that he fully supports her recommendation for hiring an environmental code compliance officer.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi inquired about the half-time, on-loan employee to the woodlands program who is part of the compliance unit, who at the point that a new landscape architect is hired would revert back to zoning compliance duties. She said that given the status of the on-loan employee, the city does not need another person to do this work. Mr. Helwig said that the city now has six people certified to undertake compliance issues, scattered in several departments.
Mr. Pearson said that during the absence of the landscape architect position, the duties of the environmental code compliance officer have been split up between several other different positions. Maureen Underhill, a code compliance officer, has been helping with verifying woodland protection fencing. The scope of the position has changed, both in task and in time requirement. Ms. Uglow said the job entails two days a week worth of time, and assisting Steve Printz in making sure that fences have been installed correctly and maintained.
Ms. Uglow said the tasks of maintaining and inspecting orange woodland fencing can go hand in hand with other tasks, such as soil erosion prevention. She said the code compliance officer was thus accomplishing a significant amount at once, but was a "combination effort" that required additional time. Mr. Helwig stated that with Maureen Underhill dedicating her time toward the duties of code compliance officer, other tasks were failing to be completed.
Ms. Uglow displayed a map of soil erosion outstanding permits, or permits that have yet to be submitted. She said there is a lack of commitment from developers with regards to environmental issues, which the city would like to bring back into focus. She said a code compliance officer is not a cure-all, but is, in her opinion, a signal to residents that the city is committed to their expectations of the quality of the environment. She said that currently, the soil erosion ordinance is being revised, and will hopefully be before Council next month. She has received permission from Mr. Klaver to direct legal staff to investigate farming exemptions from ordinances.
Ms. Uglow said the in-house plan review now taking place should require the most effective Best Management Practices in order to get the greatest enforcement efforts. She said the city of Novi is being audited in 2004 by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and that ordinances and related matters must be on task and on schedule for 2004 or the city could be put on probation, since the city is a local enforcement agency. She mentioned that all of these tasks could be centralized through the new proposed officer, in conjunction with requirements. Ms. Uglow said the city assigns code compliance officers to assigned districts within the city, like the police department does. These officers are responsible for managing numerous disputes, nuisances, sign ordinances, litter and debris, property maintenance, unlicensed activities, and other tasks. If the officer is brought on board, the city will take the whole community and reexamine priorities.
Member Sanghvi inquired about the status of revisions to the city code, which is supposed to be prepared for Council consideration by spring of 2003. Mr. Helwig responded that Ms. Uglow said the revisions would be done by next month, May, of 2003. Member Sanghvi then asked what steps could be taken to remedy problems discovered by code compliance officers. Ms. Uglow responded that currently the city attempts to contact the site supervisor, who is required by law to keep site logs, and provide a verbal notice. She said responses or penalties depend on the severity of non-compliance. She said the city is investigating better handling of show cause hearings and stop work orders. Member Sanghvi responded that creating paper notices, but not following up with further retribution, is ineffective.
Member Lorenzo asked how aggressive the city currently responds to non-compliance issues, and asked if the city currently has the ability to place a stop work order. Ms. Uglow answered that the city does have this ability right now, but that "gray areas" in part 91 of the city’s soil erosion ordinance provide questionable mandates for taking action against those guilty of non-compliance. Ms. Uglow said that some issues of non-compliance responsibility arise between developers and property owners who purchase land from the developer.
Member Lorenzo said she would like to see the city pursuing stop-work orders for violations of the soil erosions ordinance as aggressively as possible. Ms. Uglow responded that according to city of Novi ordinances, she cannot pursue those stop-work orders, but rather these must be issued through the building department. She said that a request for a stop-work order was filed earlier in the week with the building department. She said that in the majority of non-compliance cases, the city has followed through in taking action against the guilty party, and that the time required to follow up on a site depended on the severity of non-compliance.
Member Lorenzo asked how many stop work orders have been issued, and requested a list of the 34 listed cases of soil erosion measure deficiencies from the past year and related information, including: the severity of each instance; what action was taken with each case; and the time needed to reach compliance. She stated that she wished to see the requested information before taking action on the issue. She also asked what city employee was performing the job duties mentioned before Ms. Underhill took over these tasks. Mr. Pearson answered that the landscape architect undertook some duties, as also did Lauren McGuire. In addition, Lauren had taken over some duties of the woodland consultant who left the city last January of 2002.
Member Lorenzo then asked if the woodland consultant typically conducts inspections of woodlands fencing, to which Mr. Pearson answered yes. Member Lorenzo asked if Ms. Grehl was the only person hired to fulfill the vacant woodland consultant position duties. Mr. Pearson answered that Mr. McGinnis deals with the landscape ordinance, Ms. Grehl works with the woodland ordinance, and that both a landscape firm and Mr. Printz are conducting some inspections and field studies normally conducted by the woodland consultant. Member Lorenzo asked why duties have been assigned to ordinance enforcement instead of one of the three people capable of performing the work. Mr. Pearson explained that three people who have taken over responsibilities are actually very overqualified for the job, which involves verifying that orange fencing is installed. He said that because Ms. Underhill is already investigating other items at construction sites, it is logical for her to investigate other items at the same site, such as fencing.
Member Lorenzo asked who is supposed to be inspecting for soil erosion violations. Mr. Helwig answered that the code compliance officers have been trying to fulfill those duties, but that no single person is available to handle the job full time. Member Lorenzo asked why code compliance officers would inspect for soil erosion if there had not been a noted violation. She asked what department’s jurisdiction the soil erosion inspection task fell into before the position was vacated. Mr. Pearson answered that historically, the inspections have typically been conducted by contracted engineers, and that the city has acted as the policing agency for these inspections.
Member Lorenzo expressed concern that the separate tasks of inspection and enforcement may not currently be treated separately and independently from one another. Mr. Helwig said that inspecting a work site at the beginning of its construction is different from maintaining and adjusting a site effectively, which the city has received complaints over. He said that during heavy downpours of rain, the city often has nobody to inspect soil erosion violations, which shows that the city’s soil erosion inspection system is inadequate. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked why none of the three in-house engineers are sent out for inspections which are not yet violations. She said she agrees that the city needs an aggressive approach to inspecting and enforcing soil erosion code violations, but that she doesn’t see the need for additional staff to fulfill this task.
Mayor Clark asked if the noted inspection and enforcement inadequacies are due to cost effectiveness. He commented that when built out, Novi’s population will be near 70,000. He said that supporting this population with necessary services means that the city must increase its staff from 1969 levels. He said that the proposal to add an environmental control officer "just makes common sense." He said he wants to give the administration the tools to "get the job done."
Member Sanghvi said that a framework needs to be setup on paper in order to improve understanding of the city services system. He said that high standards of service don’t come free.
Member Landry said he agreed with the Mayor, and that the best evidence of why the city needs a code compliance officer is, "the discussion of the past thirty minutes."
He recommended that adding a code compliance officer to the city’s staff would greatly increase efficiency in handling many future tasks.
CM-03-04-124 Moved by Landry, seconded by Csordas; MOTION CARRIED: To place on the budget document for ultimate consideration by the Council, the addition of a code compliance officer.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that Council has not received the financial justification for creating the code compliance officer position. She said that the discussion regarding
the legitimacy of adding a code compliance officer may have been eliminated with proper financial justification of the position. She added that not enforcing the erosion and sedimentation control law is costing the city, both environmentally and financially. She expressed concern about possibly "skirting" state and federal law by only responding to complaints about sites in possible violation. She said that in other communities, similar matters are typically handled by compliance officers, and she asked why compliance officers are referring inspection status matters to the building department.
Ms. Uglow responded that compliance officers issue verbal notification of non-compliance with sedimentation control laws directly to the property owner or contractor. If a stop-work order is necessary, a building department official must issue the order, according to city ordinance.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi then asked if the building department is following recommendations for stop-work orders, to which Ms. Uglow answered yes. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi then asked if the mentioned code compliance officer position would be represented by a bargaining unit, to which Ms. Uglow answered yes. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi mentioned that 55 soil erosion permit applications were filed this year, and asked if the compliance officer would work in conjunction with the engineering department on reviewing these permits, to which Ms. Uglow answered yes.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked what the compliance officer would do following plan approval. Ms. Uglow answered that the code compliance officer will know what is required to approve site plans for controlling soil erosion and storm water drainage as well. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked who would develop a program, if the code compliance officer position was added to the city staff. Ms. Uglow answered that the program would be developed by a number of people, including herself, the code compliance officer, and others in the engineering department. Ms. Uglow said that the officer would be the centralized nucleus of code enforcement that the city desperately needs. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked if the compliance officer would have enough work to justify the position. Ms. Uglow answered that there would definitely be enough work for the code compliance officer to remain busy on a full-time basis.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked when the code compliance officer would be hired, if the position was approved by Council. Mr. Helwig answered that the position would be effective July 1 if the requested budget is approved, and that the program plan would be in place as soon as the officer was approved and hired. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi stated that she would like a program plan in place before the official hire of the code compliance officer. She said that she expected the funding for the compliance officer’s salary to come out of the general fund savings.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-04-124: Yeas: Bononi, Csordas, Landry, Sanghvi,
Mr. Helwig said the next item for discussion was the possible purchase of a skid steer. He mentioned that when Mr. McCusker was asked to name the one piece of equipment of greatest value to add or replace for the Department of Public Works, he overwhelmingly chose a skid steer over any other vehicle. He said the skid steer is capable of performing multiple functions for the department, and relates to the Council goal established in February.
Mr. McCusker stated that the skid steer is an ‘off the road’ type of vehicle of significant benefit to the DPW, and the vehicle will be of great use in getting to sites of difficult accessibility, such as the rear of land parcels and drain areas. He said the skid steer also would work as a snowplow, a tree planter, can break up concrete, and can perform other functions.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked if the equipment would by a Caterpillar brand, to which Mr. McCusker answered that the unit would be similar to the Caterpillar model. She commended Mr. McCusker for "spelling out" exactly how he would be using the proposed machine. She then asked if the skid steer would be used for excavation purposes involving drainage ditches and retention areas, and not detention areas such as ponds and lakes. Mr. McCusker responded that the unit would only be used for retention areas such as ditches that the city has traditionally been responsible for maintaining.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi stated that of the two departments in the city government who received her ‘stars’ for budgetary submissions and operation, the Department of Public Works is one, and the other is the Planning Department.
CM-03-04-125 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Bononi; MOTION CARRIED: To approve the purchase of a skid steer for the budget request.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-04-125 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo, Sanghvi, Clark, Bononi
B. Growth Management & Development
Mr. Helwig mentioned that a program of work was developed by city planner Darcy Schmitt, along with director Dave Evancoe. Meetings were held with the planning commission officers, and comments were made in goal setting sessions about the growth management plan. He said that the Planning Commission is very dedicated to the city’s master plan components and revisiting that is due a year from now. He said that in the growth management plan authorized a year ago, there are four studies that fit neatly with one another: the water and sanitary sewer master plan update; the economic base study; the transportation and thoroughfare plan update; and the plan’s fiscal analysis. These need to be done, and the money has been appropriated. The last update of the master plan incorporated minimal citizen involvement in the process. If the current master plan update is completed, he would like significant community and public involvement throughout the process. He asked for Council’s opinions about moving forward with the master plan update.
Mr. Evancoe stated that he always welcomes input from Council regarding the city’s growth management plan. He previously has worked in another community where he helped to compile a growth management plan designed to attract growth to the community. In many other areas of the country, growth management plans are actually designed to inhibit growth and to construct barriers to growth. He would like Council’s input to decide if Novi’s growth plan should focus on promoting or inhibiting growth. Council implied in February that it would like more time to deliberate and discuss the direction that the city’s growth management plan should follow. The Planning Commission has suggested incorporation of Council’s views and the growth management plan into creating the five-year master plan update. He said that public involvement is imperative to a successful city plan, but he added that public comments and inputs must truly be incorporated into a master plan to prove successful and gain the public’s trust. He said that the Planning Department is looking forward to going forth with designing a master plan in conjunction with whatever direction the Council decides is most appropriate.
Member Csordas thanked Mr. Evancoe for his comments and input to the Council, and also thanked him for his comment that growth management could stimulate economic growth in the city. He believes that economic development is essential to the success of the city. Member Csordas referenced the city of Portland, Oregon, where a growth boundary was drawn around the city restricting growth. He believes Portland is a great city, but noted the high financial costs of residing within that city. Member Csordas also believes that the public should be involved with the constant revising of both the zoning process and the master plan for land use development. He does not want to see a plan that depresses growth in the area.
Member Sanghvi suggested that a structured debate is needed to properly discuss and obtain input for a master plan. He also encouraged input from the business community in developing a plan. He advised discussing the plan at a later date, in order to properly debate the issues.
Member Landry agreed with Member Sanghvi that debating and devising a master plan requires a significant amount of thought, and that the growth management plan in discussion is perhaps the beginning of that process. He said that Council’s current dialogue should focus on how to gather information and engage in discussion about the growth and management of the city, in order to construct a plan at a later time. However, he warned against postponing the creation of the growth management plan for too long. The community needs to be ensured necessary ingredients for its future, such as affordable housing. He agreed with Mr. Evancoe about incorporating citizen involvement into the city’s growth management plan and master plan, and expressed support for funding the master plan.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked a rhetorical question to Council of whether or not the Council has considered exercising authority under the Coordinated Planning Act of the master plan of development. She said that she is an urban planner by profession, and is aware of perceptions that urban planners must "study things forever," at great expense. She suggested that the price tags of the four components of the growth management plan are reasonable and effective. However, the connection of water and sanitary sewer with growth is not well understood, but the city has ignored these components for a long time.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said the city needs an updated thoroughfare plan. She also expressed support for an economic base study, perhaps in conjunction with the fiscal analysis component of the growth management plan. She noted that Novi’s tax base is 61% residential, and said that this may not be sufficient for raising future city revenue. She participated in the first 2020 master plan meetings ten years ago as a public citizen and reminded Council that citizen input was not accepted in composing the plan at that time. A quality of life survey is available to the city from Oakland County that was done through the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning. This study would provide information to the city about how citizens in Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw Counties feel about the quality of life in southeast Michigan. She mentioned that perhaps the city is allowing many of its planning decisions to be made for it, not by it, as seen by the number of zoning and re-zoning applications put forth before, and approved by, Council. She said that growth management does not mean preventing growth, but that the city and Council must be committed to the creation of the growth management plan.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Evancoe if the $42,000 funding request for studies outlined in the budget would, or would not, cover the four component studies. Mr. Evancoe answered that the $42,100 is requested specifically for the four studies: the water and sanitary sewer master plan update; the economic base study; the transportation and thoroughfare plan update; and the plan’s fiscal analysis. She supports a growth management plan in conjunction with development of the master plan update. She also supports significant interaction with the public, including homeowners associations, in order to allow citizens to voice opinions and share concerns. She feels that the public often does not understand land use and zoning decisions, and that interaction between policy makers and citizens would be good for both sides. She said that perhaps the city sometimes allows development to drive it, instead of the city controlling development.
Member Lorenzo supports an overall master plan, and said that the city needs to stick to that master plan. If the city is going to afford to support its services and infrastructure at build-out capacity, a greater amount of commercial development must be encouraged. Land use decisions are the biggest challenge facing the community today. Discussion and preparation must begin soon in order to properly address planning decisions that will shortly be faced by Council.
Member Landry added that if the city has a plan, it must stick with that plan. Every land use plan is more difficult to construct than the previous one, which results in increased liability exposure for the city. Developers can file Fifth Amendment takings lawsuits against the city. The city can better defend itself if it can prove there is ample reasoning behind land use decisions, such as the following of a growth management plan. Plaintiffs often argue that their projects are defeated only because of personal beliefs by Council members. The best defense in court is the use of a comprehensive plan.
Mayor Clark was encouraged by discussion pertaining to the development of a growth management plan. Further growth in inevitable in Novi, and the city must be creative to avoid facing predicaments such as those brought forth by Member Landry. Retaining affordable housing is important to allow young adults to remain in the community. Education is a prime attractant of residents and businesses to the community. The city government should not attempt to control growth to the extent seen frequently in California, where a number of development cases are currently before the Supreme Court. Including citizen input in both the planning process, and the actual written plan, is absolutely essential for the community.
Mr. Evancoe noted that the studies were originally envisioned as part of a growth management plan, a study unto itself. There is also an update to the five year city master plan in the works. He recommended that developing two separate plans in different planning processes at the same time would be ineffective for the city, and suggested that simply incorporating the growth management plan as one item of the five year master plan update would be more worthwhile. He asked Council for opinions regarding this idea.
Mayor Clark answered that not duplicating work would be most efficient for the city, and supported Mr. Evancoe’s suggestion.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked what the combined costs of developing the five year master plan and funding the four requested studies would equal. Mr. Evancoe answered that, in addition to the four deliverable studies, a demographic profile would cost $6,000, a build-out profile $15,000, a greenways study would cost $6,000, a natural features inventory study $10,000, and a land use analysis would cost $20,000. Mayor Clark totaled these additional studies to equal $57,000. Member Pro Tem Bononi said that a total cost of $99,000 for all master plan studies is too expensive.
Mr. Helwig clarified that the $42,000 for the four deliverable studies was already appropriated by Council. The Planning Commission is now requesting only $57,000 for the additional studies, not $99,000. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked who would accomplish these studies, both at the Planning Commission level, and with regard to the four deliverable studies. Mr. Evancoe answered that a meeting recently took place with the master plan and zoning committee, which is helping to oversee and guide this process. Studies were discussed at the meeting, pertaining to the transportation and thoroughfare planning, natural features, where scientific expertise could be needed, and also possibly with the fiscal analysis. Other studies could be done in-house, especially with regards to documenting existing conditions. Outside consultant help may be needed eventually for projecting future conditions.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said she has reservations about getting all pieces together and integrating them into the comprehensive overview intended. In her view, most Planning Departments don’t undertake tasks like this. She feels that someone would be needed to assist the Planning Department in putting all the studies and pieces into a comprehensive document. The fact that money is already allocated towards the four deliverable studies doesn’t make her feel any better about the expensive $99,000 total cost for including future studies as well. She isn’t supportive of either the $99,000 cost, or how the document will be constructed.
Member Lorenzo agreed with Mr. Evancoe’s suggestion to include the growth management plan as a component of the five year master plan update, but said Council
has not yet reviewed the studies that the Planning Commission is recommending. She would prefer to do that at another meeting. She would just like to approve a growth management plan as part of the master plan update, and approve studies at a latter date. Mr. Helwig said that today, the Planning Department was seeking approval to proceed with the four deliverable studies under the umbrella of growth management and development. He asked for reaffirmation of the growth management and development component involving these four studies. This involves much of coordination with the Planning Commission, which Mr. Evancoe will see gets done.
Member Lorenzo said that the goals are laudable if the Planning Department can accomplish these goals in a time frame, but asked when the studies and goals would actually be achieved. Mr. Helwig answered that Council is approving the plan, and he is committing that the department will get the goal done with the requested dollars in an approved time frame. In 12 months, the plan will be completed. In the next meeting on May 7, if Council wishes to review the master planning work and the overarching issues raised today, please do so.
Member Csordas asked if there are cross-purpose plans for the master plan update, because he believed the cost of the project to be $89,100. Mr. Helwig answered that there are other budget elements in the new fiscal year, not the current fiscal year, that include the four budget elements of discussion.
Member Sanghvi asked for an update on due items. Mr. Helwig answered that objectives are labeled with due dates on quarterly performance reports.
CM-03-04-126 Moved by Bononi, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: Motion to support the growth management and development plan with the four components at a cost of $42,000.
Roll call vote on CM-03-04-126 Yeas: Landry, Lorenzo, Sanghvi, Clark, Bononi, Csordas
Mayor Clark said that, given the required time to handle further scheduled items on the agenda, another budget meeting would be held May 7, 2003, to finish budget discussions.
Dick Faulkner, 25890 Clark St., thanked Council for their participation and dedication. He asked Council for its reconsideration of chip seal use. He lives in Novi Heights and, with heavy trucks and other use, the chip seal road lasted only one year with the road having a heavy clay base. The road was repaved using asphalt, but it’s still in a state of disrepair from heavy truck and equipment use. He felt it was a waste of money to use chip sealing. He felt the residents should consider paving their roads the regular way.
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at 12:17 p.m.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by: Steve King
Date approved: May 19, 2003