|View Agenda for the meeting
REGULAR MEETING OF
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: NOVI PACK 240, WEBELOS DEN 6
Leaders: Matt & Lindsay Tecklinberg, Fred & Pat Wright
Scouts: Joe Clarkson, Ricky Cross, Ben Dale, Tom Dixon, Derek Smith, Eric Tecklinberg, Austin Wertheimer, Matt Wright
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy and Paul
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Gerald Fisher – City Attorney
Clay Pearson – City Manager
Nancy McClain – City Engineer
Dave Evancoe – Planning Director
Tia Gronlund-Fox – Human Resources Director
Kathy Smith-Roy – Finance Director
Doug Shaeffer – Police Chief
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Lorenzo added "Cheltenham Subdivision Streets, Private or Public" as Mayor and Council Issues Item #3.
Member Capello added Item #4 to Mayor and Council Issues, "Status of Ice Rink Report."
Member Gatt added Item #5 to Mayor and Council Issues, "Consideration for Changing Certain Retiree Co-Pay Medical Benefits Amounts."
Member Paul added Item #6 to Mayor and Council Issues, "Post Bar."
CM-03-11-366 Moved by Landry, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-366 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Paul, Nagy
1. 2003 Audit and Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement 34 – Joe Heffernan and Chris Weber, Plante & Moran LLC.
Joe Heffernan introduced himself and Mr. Weber. The financial statements for the City were included in Council’s packets, which were approximately 100-page documents. He said that he and Mr. Weber would attempt to summarize the document that evening. The document was prepared by the City’s Finance Department.
In an audit, auditors look and gain an understanding of the City’s interim control systems, the checks and balances that relate to the City’s financial-related systems such as receiving and paying cash, and investing and managing cash. The second part of the audit is to, on a sample test basis, look at the accounting transactions and balances in the City’s records and verify that these are accurate. Based on this information, Plante & Moran expresses an opinion which would be very similar to the opinion the City has received during the past 10 or 15 years, called a "clean opinion." A clean opinion does not mean that the City is in healthy financial shape, but rather implies that the City’s accounting records are an accurate reflection of the shape that it is in. Plante & Moran’s job is to tell whether the financial statements do or do not fairly state the City’s financial position – the company feels that the statements do fairly state this position. Mr. Heffernan noted that this is the first year under the new accounting standard. There was a gigantic change in the accounting rules that began July 1, 2002, and so the June, 2003 fiscal year is the first year that they have used these new rules. The rules did not throw out what the reports used to have. Budgets are still prepared for the general fund, the major street fund, the municipal street fund, and 25 or 30 other funds. These are on a modified accrual basis, meaning they are trying to count fund balance, which is a measure of the City’s current available resources, or how much money is available to spend. The operating statement states what the City did with its resources, which is what modified accrual is intended to answer. What is new about the statements is that new schedules are added in front that are on a full accrual basis, present the City in total, and try to measure whether the taxpayers have paid the full cost of the services that they have received. To do this, all costs must be counted, including sick and vacation pay and other types of costs that are not necessarily cash-outlays during the current year.
Mr. Weber said the first graph that they had for Council showed general fund revenue trends over a 5-year basis. The graph included general fund revenue, as well as a police and fire millage that would have originally been recorded as revenue in a special revenue fund. Total revenue increase in the general fund this year was 3.9%, which was approximately $845,000. Property taxes including the police and fire millage transfer increased 7.3%. The reason for this increase was primarily due to an increase in taxable value within the City of Novi, which increased about 10%. The actual number of mills levied on a taxable value remained constant from the prior year. State sources decreased approximately 8.6%, primarily because of a decrease in State shared revenue.
Mr. Heffernan noted that there is approximately a $900 million shortfall in this year’s State budget. He has had several discussions with the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Municipal Finance Officers’ Association. They do not know how the State will react to the shortfall, and are looking at all different funding sources, expecting all different participants in the State budget to share somewhat in some cuts later this year. It is probably too soon to react to the State budget shortfall, though they will likely have some negative news to share in the near future. State shared revenue is not as significant to the City as property taxes, but it is the City’s second-largest revenue source.
Mr. Weber noted that "all other revenue" increased 7.1% during the current year, primarily because of increases in licenses in permit revenues from several new projects in the City. That increase due to those revenue sources offset an increase in interest revenue from the prior year due to the poor rates of return from the marketplace. The next graph that he showed laid out a 2003 municipal tax rate comparison. 30 communities in Oakland County were selected, including the millages that they levied for operating and debt purposes. The graph showed a range of 7.55 mills by Bloomfield Hills to a high of 25.4554 mills levied by Ferndale. The City of Novi was the sixth bar from the left (Bloomfield Hills), meaning it is relatively low on the scale. The total mills levied by the City were 10.5416, which stayed the same over the past several years.
General fund expenditures were showed in a graph broken down by police, fire, general services, and other expenses. Police expenses increased in the current year by 7.1%, primarily because of an increase in salaries of 3 to 4%, some planned additional overtime hours, and the reclassification of motor carrier expenses from the DPW to the Police Department. Fire expenses remained relatively constant from the prior year. General Service expenses decreased approximately 4.6%, primarily due to a decrease in attorney fees, which was offset by moderate increases in many other departments. Other expenses have remained relatively constant from the prior year.
The general fund balance for the year ending June 30, 2003 was $5,293,046, an increase from the prior year of $405,000, or 8%. A general rule of thumb that auditors like to see as a minimum fund balance for communities is 10% of current year expenditures. The City’s fund balance is approximately 25.5% of current year expenditures, which is healthy. However, the required fund balance differs for every community depending on circumstances and projects.
Water and sewer activity for the past five years was shown on the next graph. For the year ending June 30, 2003, there was a significant increase in both operating revenues and operating expenses. The first reason for this was that the City of Detroit raised the water rates that it charges the City of Novi by approximately 15%, and the City of Novi responded by raising the rates that it charges customers by approximately 15% as well. The second reason for the increase was a 7% to 8% increase in consumption over the prior year. Operating revenues were approximately $11,379,000, and operating expenses were $10,684,000, so operating revenues exceeded expenditures by approximately $700,000. The operating expenses do not include appreciation, which is a non-cash expense. If this is considered, which for this year was approximately $2.6 million; there was an operating loss of about $1.9 million.
Mayor Csordas noted that Mr. Weber had made a statement that the City had seen an approximately 15% rate increase from the City of Detroit. The Mayor clarified that the City did not take that amount and mark up the rates that it charges by another 15%. The amount that the City of Detroit raised Novi’s rates was passed along to residents. The City of Novi does not mark up water rates from the City of Detroit to its residents.
Mr. Heffernan said the final two graphs were new information that GASB 34 is bringing to the auditors. GASB 34 has added 3 items to the financial statements. The first is the management discussion and analysis, which is pages 3 to 11 of the financial statement. This is an 8-page, "English language" type of explanation of how the City did for the year. In the past, many people had a difficult time deciphering the accounting information. Pages 12, 13, and 14 are the two new statements that take all of the City’s governmental activities and show these on a full accrual basis. Hopefully by doing this, the balance sheet and the income statement will show whether the taxpayers have paid the full cost of services during the current year. The City has $42 million in cash, approximately $110 million of capital assets, a couple of million dollars in accounts payable and other liabilities and bonds payable. When adding all of the assets and subtracting the liabilities, the difference between these is in effect what the City is worth, or $97 million. The new pronouncement tells the auditors to break this number up into components of the equity. Approximately $54 million is invested in capital assets, net of the related debt. So while there are about $110 million of capital assets, there is also debt of about $70 million, and the net of these two has required the investment of equity of about $54 million. Special Assessments are receivables that will be coming in over the next 10 years, $18 million worth, and the big portion of these came in during the June 30, 2003 year for the large road bond. As that money comes in, it must be used to pay off the debt related to those Special Assessments. Approximately $8.3 million is specifically for drains, where that money must be used to pay drain-related debt. Streets and highways comprise $8.5 million, which is a combination of the Act 51 gas tax plus the City’s property tax and the municipal street fund. All 3 of those funds are legally restricted to be spent on streets and highways. This leaves the City with about $4.4 million of unrestricted net assets – liquid assets that would be available to the City. This includes a reduction counting all liabilities including employee sick and vacation pay, even though this will really be paid many years in the future.
The final chart represented pages 13 and 14 of the financial statement, the full accrual income statement. This counts not only cash but also claims to cash. For instance, the large special assessment of almost $19 million from this year comes in as current year revenue because taxpayers have committed to paying that $19 million this year, even though the cash will come in over a 10-year period. He said the chart showed, on a full accrual basis, all of the governmental funds together and where the general revenues are being spent. Public safety is the biggest use of revenue at 37.6% of all revenues. Public works uses 17.4%, and recreation and culture uses about 13.8%. Interest at this point is being counted, which adds up to about 11% of the City’s annual recurring expenditures. General government uses 17.9%.
Mayor Csordas said he had taken a look at Mr. Heffernan’s October 7, 2003 memo, and said that page 3 of that memo addressed software selection and process redesign. He asked Council to consider that page, including "As the City continues to strive to provide new, better and timelier financial information to management and Council, the City may determine that the current financial accounting package which has been used for many years should be replaced. Should the City decide to purchase a new system, there will obviously be several aspects of the potential system that will be taken into consideration." He said that this was saying that the software programs, as Ms. Smith-Roy has been telling Council, are becoming antiquated and are possibly hindering the City’s efficiency.
Mr. Heffernan agreed with Mayor Csordas. The one piece of information of new and different information that was included was the concept of redesigning the City’s business processes at the same time. As they have watched a number of communities install computer systems, particularly the last 6 years has seen an explosion in the governmental market. Prior to 6 years ago, there was not a great variety of robust comprehensive systems in the governmental market. The last several years has seen the introduction of many new systems. Several communities have installed the new systems, and they have seen that the systems require changes to business processes in order to really take advantage of those new systems. The communities that have not changed their business processes have found frustrations with the system.
Mayor Csordas asked whose expertise the City should rely on to implement those new systems and change its business policies. Mr. Heffernan noted that the City has some excellent people working on its Technology Committee, and said there are firms that assist in that kind of business redesign. Plante & Moran is one of those, though he said he did not want to advertise for the company.
Mayor Csordas asked if the City’s financial system was integrated with other systems in the Civic Center. Mr. Heffernan said there is currently a high degree of integration, though he did not want to speak for the Finance Director. Mayor Csordas said he knew and fully appreciated Ms. Smith-Roy’s position on the topic.
Member Nagy asked if the system that Mr. Heffernan mentioned was something that could be procured from the State. Mr. Heffernan said he had not seen anyone buy this type of system from the State because there is not a large enough quantity.
Mayor Csordas thanked Mr. Heffernan and Mr. Weber for their excellent presentation.
2. Recognition plaque from Jennifer Pickett and Cindy Hawkin, the American Heart Association, to City of Novi for placement of Automatic External Defibrillators in public gathering places.
David Potts, the immediate past Chairman and present member of the Executive Committee of the American Heart Association Board of Directors for Metropolitan Detroit, said that 6 automated external defibrillators (AED’s) were being donated to the City of Novi this month through a special grant to the American Heart Association by the Providence Hospital Foundation and Providence Hospital. 32 AED’s will be placed around Metro Detroit. The value of the 6 AED’s being placed in Novi is more than $15,000. The gift is so important because every year in the United States, nearly 250,000 Americans die from or are stricken with sudden cardiac arrest. CPR keeps oxygen circulating, but an AED is the only chance of survival for many of these victims. For every minute that passes without treatment, the victim’s chances of survival decrease by 10%. In Chicago at O’Hare Airport, 12 people have actually had their lives saved by the placement of these devices. Since time is critical for these victims, it is crucial that all potential first medical responders such as police, fire and EMS be equipped with life-saving AED’s. Mr. Potts introduced Priscilla Coury, the president of Providence Health Foundation.
Priscilla Coury said Providence Hospital has been working in the Novi community to save lives for many years. By making this donation of 6 AED’s, Providence will be helping local EMS to improve the odds of survival from cardiac arrest in the field. She believes that the units will provide cardiac arrest patients the critical minutes needed to restart their hearts. These units will optimally be placed in the Civic Center, Library, and other public gathering places. Providence is working with Chief Shaeffer to coordinate all of the training. On behalf of Rob Casalou, CEO of Providence Hospital, and the trustees of the Providence Health Foundation, they are happy to be working with the City of Novi to improve healthcare. She thanked Chief Shaeffer, his staff, and other City employees who are partnering with Providence to provide quality heart care for Novi residents. Phase I of the new Providence Heart Institute was recently opened at the Southfield Campus.
Mr. Potts presented to the City of Novi a plaque recognizing its efforts to save lives through the placement of AED’s.
Mayor Csordas said the City truly appreciates the donation of the 6 AED’s, and thanks Providence Hospital for being such a wonderful community member.
1. SPECIAL/COMMITTEE - None
2. CITY MANAGER
Mr. Helwig continued the call to vigilance on the State budget process. Administration continues to provide Council and the community with updates via the Michigan Municipal League about what is being considered in the Governor’s proposal, or by the Legislators, as they wrestle with the current $900 million fiscal deficit. The City did some preparatory planning in the eventuality that the State did fall short. The City set aside, with Council’s approval, an additional 2.5% in potential lower State shared revenues coming in this year over and above the 3% cut that the City absorbed a year ago. There is talk now of a 6% cut, of which the City’s 2.5% would be nearly half of, but it would be the continuation of a pattern that he wished to call the community’s attention to. This community and other communities and school districts have held on to rainy day fund policies. It is good financial practice to keep a minimum of 10% of annual expenditures in reserve in a rainy day fund. The City has gone beyond this to where at the end of the previous fiscal year, the City had more than 17% set aside in its rainy day fund. The City has been increasing this fund since 2000, which is prudent fiscal practice. The State of Michigan saw it necessary to draw down its rainy day fund after 7 or 8 outstanding economic years to nothing. He said that he hoped that this would not become State-wide public policy. The fact that it is even being discussed that communities with rainy day funds would be penalized for having done this and would lose more State shared revenues while at the same time making mandates upon communities that they cannot make any cuts from police and fire to live within these amounts is wrong. He asked people to call attention to the stewardship that this and other communities have tried under difficult financial times.
Member Lorenzo said she believed the Oakland Press had reported on State revenue sharing, that part of it is constitutional and part is statutory. She asked if State revenue sharing was statutory, how the State could make such reductions if they had to give each municipality a certain amount.
Mr. Fisher replied that the State constitution was adopted by the people, and takes precedence over the Legislature. State laws on the other hand are adopted by the Legislature, and if something is mandated by the law, they have the right to change it.
Member Lorenzo agreed that the Legislature has the right to change the law, but questioned whether the law had actually been changed yet.
Mr. Fisher responded that to his knowledge, the law had not yet been changed. The Governor must make a proposal, the Legislators must come to a compromise on the proposal, and the Governor must sign the final document to make it a law.
Member Lorenzo asked if right now, the reductions of the past few years are still less than what each community should be statutorily receiving.
Mr. Fisher replied that if this were the case, there would be a clearer basis for litigation, which to his knowledge is not the case. Either the adjustment is made within the bounds or confines of existing law, or the Legislature and the Governor work together to change the law in some agreed-upon way.
Member Lorenzo said she would like to know if any of the laws have been changed. She asked for confirmation on exactly how the State has been able to reduce the revenue sharing.
Mayor Csordas said this was the first time that he had heard there was some kind of inequitable reduction proposed. He asked if there was anything Council could do other than contact its State representatives.
Mr. Helwig said that any action from Council would be helpful. The City will likely be hearing from the Michigan Municipal League when it is time to put all of the best efforts forward. All action is occurring "behind the scenes" right now, but it is important to convey how important these funds are to local governments in Michigan, not just in Novi.
Mayor Csordas said that it goes without saying that it is unfair that if a community is prudent with its finances, it should somehow be penalized because it is not overspending. He appreciated Mr. Helwig keeping Council informed about what he knew regarding the issue, as well as what it can do.
Status of Promenade Wetland Restoration – Clay Pearson
Mr. Helwig noted that the Novi Promenade Wetland Restoration work was to have started last week. The City received a fax that day, after many meetings and phone calls from representatives involved with the Landon Company that he had set at Council’s places.
Mr. Pearson noted that two weeks prior, Council had received an update on the progress of the wetlands restoration, and Dr. Tilton had concurred with the method proposed for dealing with the wetland restoration of this long-standing construction debris. Council also heard that the DEQ, at least the Wetlands Division, had also endorsed the approach of dealing with the construction material. The City has been pressing to deliver as promised on the work as the property owners had also promised. He said the fax that had just arrived illustrated what administration had been hearing during the previous two weeks. The property owner feels that they are caught between the DEQ’s Wetlands Division, the DEQ’s Waste Management Section and its Remediation Redevelopment group. The City is committed to helping however it can and navigating through the State approvals to ensure that everything is being done properly.
Mayor Csordas asked for an explanation of why the other DEQ departments had more recently become involved with the item after the Wetlands Division had approved the work. Mr. Helwig said these are fellow divisions of the Department of Environmental Quality. The Division of Geological and Land Management has given the go-ahead and has issued a permit. The developer is skittish because of inquiries that were made recently, and the fact that there are two other divisions, Remediation and Redevelopment, and Waste Management, that could step in and, in the developer’s eyes, counter the approval that has already been given by the other division.
Member Nagy asked if the wetland restoration project planning had been going on for a long time, which Mr. Helwig said was correct. Member Nagy asked if the DEQ had been involved in the matter for a long period of time. Mr. Helwig replied that it had. Member Nagy said she felt that the developer seemed to be reluctant, and she felt the item should be taken care of. She was concerned that it is now very cold outside, and thus the cleanup and remediation may have to take place in the spring of 2004.
Mr. Helwig said administration had been told, both face-to-face and in the communication, that the property owner is mobilized and ready to do the work. Administration’s expectation, as it was a year ago, is that the work will still be done this season.
Member Nagy said she did not mean to imply that administration was in any way responsible for what the company had done. She was simply disappointed with the company that the matter had been going on for such a long time. She said she hoped to see the matter resolved soon.
Member Paul asked for Mr. Helwig if he specifically knew how long it would take the other 2 DEQ divisions.
Mr. Helwig responded that it was very hard to guess that time frame, but said administration would be working through the item the next morning now that it knew what the hold-up was. He said the City would certainly go to Lansing if necessary, but would try to deal with the matter at the regional office if possible.
Member Paul asked for a report at the December 16th meeting about what has happened on the matter. She said she did not want to see the restoration work "keep falling through the cracks." The delay is unfair, and the developer had the opportunity to get whatever it needed done.
Mr. Helwig said he was hopeful to have something available even by the next meeting on December 1st, and said administration would certainly have something to Council by December 16th.
- Report on replaced South Lake Drive Culvert – Nancy McClain
Mr. Helwig said that because of the rain the previous evening, the culvert repairs could not be made that day, and would instead be made the next day. Based upon the survey which she commissioned, the southern side of the culvert was found to be placed by the contractor 11 inches too low. What Council had seen recently was not an optical illusion – the culvert was incorrectly placed.
Ms. McClain said that as Mr. Helwig had just commented, due to the weather and water running through the culvert at the time it would have been needing resetting, the project had to be postponed for a day. The culvert was initially scheduled to be put level, both ends at approximately 932.2 of elevation. When the survey was commissioned, the contractor said the south end, or the South Lake end, was 11 inches low. This 11 inches is the thickness of the concrete around the box culvert. The improper sloping was a mistake on the part of the contractor, and she said the contractor would perform the repairs the next day at their cost. When the replacement is complete, the City will return the surface over the top of the culvert, replace the curb along the side, and finish the paving along South Lake Drive.
Ms. McClain noted that there had been questions about the overall design of the culvert. The first thing to examine when preparing this design is the land around the culvert. The culvert, as it existed before the project was started, was approximately 10 feet wide and nominally 5 feet high. It had deformed somewhat because of road conditions over it. The distance from the invert elevation, the inside of the tunnel, to the top of the road surface was 5.15 feet. The culvert had deformed slightly, and there was about a four foot six inch to four foot nine inch opening in the culvert. On either side of the culvert, the roadway was lower in front of the houses. Three things must be considered for the culvert. The first item, hydraulic consideration of the culvert, was fairly easy to satisfy. Safety concerns, such as what the culvert will hold, are the second. Currently, the culvert is limited to 5 tons and does not meet the City’s standards, specifically for a fire access road. The third consideration is the abutting properties on each side. Previously, as one went from west to east, they would cross the culvert, go into a dip and come back out again, so this dip had to be removed and repaired. The City’s requirements and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) requirements also had to be met for the length of curb over the culvert. The City’s minimum length of curb is 100 feet, and the minimum length was used to reduce the impact on adjoining properties. She also had talked with the DEQ, as water traffic to and from Shawood Lake was taken into consideration. It was agreed that a 4-foot-high culvert would best meet the compromise of all the different factors. The City did not want to forsake public safety, and the requirements do not severely affect the abutting property owners.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the current culvert had one end that was 11 inches lower than the other, which Ms. McClain replied was correct. Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the City had determined that this was because the culvert was placed correctly and had sunk, or if the culvert had been improperly placed originally.
Ms. McClain responded that the culvert had originally been incorrectly placed. The interior of the culvert slopes evenly across. If the culvert had sank, there would be a jog in the interior, meaning that it was improperly placed.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if in the construction process it is somebody’s job after the contractor places the culvert to shoot grades and make sure that the culvert was placed correctly.
Ms. McClain said that the contractor initially set the grades, and when these were looked at by the inspector they were correct. Then the culvert was placed. Typically, an inspector would be onsite during the placement. Originally, the misplacement was believed to be an optical illusion, which often happens. The Engineering Department ordered the survey to check the misplacement, which becomes more apparent when the curbs are put on. Both the engineer and the contractor have noted that it was improperly placed and should have been caught earlier.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the inspector’s job is an in-house job, or if this is overseen general contractor or engineer that the City retains. Ms. McClain replied that the City retains a consultant engineer to do this job.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if this person did not pick this problem up. Ms. McClain said they did not initially recognize the problem. Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the City had to show the person the problem. Ms. McClain said this was basically correct. The question had to be asked again. When initially asked, the City was told the culvert was properly installed, but when the survey was requested the problem was caught.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked who the consulting engineer for the project was which Ms. McClain replied was Giffels-Webster.
Member Nagy asked for clarification of the process for the project. She asked if once the City bids out and hires a consulting engineer, they sub-contract out the project and a contractor actually does the road repair.
Ms. McClain said this was not correct, as the City has two separate processes. The City hires an engineer who does design and/or construction administration. This can either be the same engineering firm or a different firm. In this case, both processes were awarded to Giffels-Webster Engineers. After the design is prepared and ready to be bid, the City bids the construction and holds the contract with the contractor, and the engineer does the administrative work.
Member Nagy inquired what the role of the City Engineering Department was in the process. Ms. McClain answered that City engineers oversee the entire process and perform some spot inspection.
Member Nagy recalled reading in the MDEQ permit that the culvert had to be navigable, meaning that its height would not change. Ms. McClain said the MDEQ permit states that "since this letter authorizes revision of your permit to reconstruct the existing Shawood Canal culvert, the new culvert shall provide adequate space to ensure continuance of navigation through this culvert. All work shall be in accordance with the attached DEQ approved plans." In those plans, the DEQ agreed to the 4-foot-high culvert, as this would provide navigability.
Member Nagy said she had also read that the City was supposed to have a Vortech structure. Ms. McClain said the City has a Vortech-type structure. Member Nagy asked if that Vortech had been substituted with a Stormceptor. Ms. McClain answered that these are an approved equal-type facility. Vortech and Stormceptor are trade names, with the generic term being swirl chamber. Those are engineering-equivalent systems.
Member Nagy asked why the City changed from Vortechs to Stormceptors. Ms. McClain responded that part of the reason was for cost. Stormceptors cost less, were proposed by the contractor, and are equivalent systems. She compared Vortechs and Stormceptors to Ford trucks and Chevy trucks – they have different names, but do the same thing.
Member Nagy asked if the City was saving money by using Stormceptors. Ms. McClain answered that the City gets the credit on the estimate.
Mr. Pearson said the substitution of the brands was also reviewed, in addition to the City’s engineers, by Dr. Tilton, who is very familiar with the material and was very comfortable with the switch, as Stormceptors are a proven technology.
Member Nagy said the reason she questioned the switch was that she recalled previously watching Council discuss the subject at a prior meeting. She said she had thought that in reading everything that was done on South Lake, one of the things desired for improvement on the bridge was the vertical site distance. She asked if this was part of what was attempted. Ms. McClain replied that this was part of the intent. One of the reasons for the limits on how short a vertical curve can be is the site distance over the curve. The City has acceptable site distance over the bridge. The previous vertical curve was probably close to 40 feet long and did not come close to meeting the requirements.
Member Nagy asked how much the area was lowered. Ms. McClain asked Member Nagy if she was referring to the hill, which Member Nagy said was correct. Ms. McClain said the hill was lowered a total of about one and a half feet, and the vertical curve was stretched out to also help the site distance.
Member Nagy asked if the water main was also lowered. Ms. McClain said the water main work had taken place while she was out of town. Mr. Helwig responded that the water main was not touched. Sanitary sewers installed for the residents there have had to have extensive footings to ensure proper placement and non-disturbance of those systems for the future. The water line has been just fine, 5 feet 1 inch below the surface as he recalled. There was extensive concern that disturbing and lowering of the water line could create future liabilities for breaks, due to the fragility of that area. The decision was made to lower the hill one foot instead of two feet as was bid.
Member Nagy expressed concern with frost possibly penetrating to the water line and potentially causing problems. She had not noticed the vertical sight distance improving greatly, and was curious how this was resolved.
Mr. Helwig said the water line is still 4 feet below the surface, which is the frostline coverage. One of the initial concerns was to preserve the tunnel for pedestrian safety, going from the park to the beach. That necessitated the lowering of the hill a maximum of 2 feet. The City ended up lowering the hill only 1 foot, but not touching the water line, which would have created precarious concerns for breaks in the future.
Member Nagy noted that the water main was not lowered, and the vertical sight distance was only somewhat improved. She asked if there was a dollar savings to the City, since the intentions from the original plan could not be done. Ms. McClain replied that all of the quantities in the project are based on actual quantities used. If there is less excavation, there is less cost. Member Nagy asked if there was such an adjustment on all of the bills, which Ms. McClain said was correct. The final balance and change order will be ready sometime in the spring.
Member Nagy recalled a drop in the road between the hill and Lakeshore Park, and asked if this would be graded to reduce the slope. Ms. McClain said there are changes planned for the park entrance, including drainage work and paving, which are yet to be completed. Member Nagy asked if existing easements were being used, or if new additional easements were obtained, as she was concerned with additional discharge into the lake. Ms. McClain said that in most cases, the City was able to drain, for instance, into the Shawood Culvert area, which is an existing easement. The culverts on the western end near Lilly Trail are being used, which is an existing easement. There are 2 additional easements that the City is working with in the middle, one at South Pointe Condos, and one closer to Owenton.
Member Nagy asked if there will be curb cuts into the gated areas. Ms. McClain said there would not be, as these are mountable curbs like those in many subdivisions. Member Nagy said it seemed that there was an elevation increase from the street to the boat launch area at the park. Ms. McClain said that technically this is not a boat launch area, and the City has been working with the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department to make sure that vehicles can get in and out of the area. She agreed that grading still needed to be done in that area.
Member Capello asked how the culvert would be fixed. Ms. McClain said the contractors would come in and remove the road surface that’s been placed and the curb on the south side. Using a crane, they will remove the sections, lift, refill underneath to the correct grade, reset them in, and reconnect them so they are the correct grade.
Member Capello asked what the culvert was sitting on that allowed for the removal and filling. Ms. McClain answered that the culvert sits on a gravel base. Member Capello asked if there was anything under the gravel. Ms. McClain replied that there is gravel down to the subsoil underneath it, which is a clay-type soil. Member Capello asked if this soil encompassed that entire area, which Ms. McClain said was correct. Member Capello said he thought a house as low as the culvert area there had to be built on pilings because of the soil conditions there. Ms. McClain said that because of the way the culvert spreads, and the way it is connected, the loads placed over the top of the roadway are spread out by the culvert over the entire area, instead of in a smaller area. Member Capello asked if there would be any problems with future sinking. Ms. McClain said there would not be.
Member Capello asked why the two ends of the culvert were cracking. Ms. McClain said the two ends were not cracking, but said the mortar might be settling.
Scott Clein of Giffels-Webster noted that the culverts come in 8 sections that are placed together, and there are probably between 1 and 2 inches at any given section. These are tongue and groove sections, as Ms. McClain had mentioned. He said that what Member Capello might have been referring to was on the outermost sections where they join, out from where the roadway is. The contractor has, on a temporary measure, filled those with a grout to keep water from infiltrating during the process. During the final punch list, when they are finished grading and installing the guard rail, the contractor will go through and re-grout that, as may be necessary.
Member Capello asked who was responsible for the staking of the roadway and the culvert. Ms. McClain said the contractor was responsible for the staking in this contract. Member Capello asked if this was for all of the construction staking, which Ms. McClain said she believed was correct. Member Capello asked if there was anything in Giffels-Webster’s contract making them responsible for the construction staking. Mr. Clein said his company was responsible for setting controls, including both locations to control horizontal and vertical. They have checked to ensure that there have been no changes on these during the project, and these controls have all been consistent with what they indicated they were to the contractor. His understanding was that the culvert was laid out correctly, and there was an error in the interpretation of that layout by the contractor that caused the one side of the culvert to be too low.
Member Capello asked if the problem was with the staking and not the controls. Mr. Clein said this was correct, though the problem was potentially with the interpretation of that staking.
Member Capello said he had trouble believing that the contractor interpreted one side differently than the other, when the entire site should have been staked at the same time. Mr. Clein said he understood Member Capello’s concern, but he had seen such contractor misinterpretations before.
Member Paul asked when Shawood Canal was completed. Ms. McClain said she believed it was finished approximately October 10th or later. Member Paul asked if the Engineering Department normally reviews an area after it is completed. Ms. McClain said this is the responsibility of the consultant engineer and the construction engineer. She visits the site periodically, as do also Mr. Pearson and Mr. Helwig, but not with the intent to perform an inspection, as this is the responsibility of the construction engineer.
Mr. Clein stated that typically, the actual elevations of items such as a culvert are checked at the end of a project when it is going through a close-out. The consultant or construction engineer, in this case Giffels-Webster, will go out and physically locate any drainage structures that have been installed, including the culvert, and physically check the elevation against the plan. If there are any deficiencies that need correction, they would typically be done as part of a punch list, with the retainage taken out of the contractor’s draw request throughout the project. There is a check that is typically done for the actual elevation, but it is typically done near the end of the project.
Member Paul said that when she had talked to Todd Losee at the MDEQ, his understanding was that people could previously get through the culvert with a snowmobile. Even with the additional 11 inches, a snowmobile would not be able to presently fit underneath the bridge. She said this removed navigable right-of-way away from residents. She appreciated the City taking care of the job, but with 11 inches, she didn’t feel the culvert was adequate.
Member Lorenzo noted her disappointment with problems associated with the project, including errors and soil erosion issues. She said it would be helpful for Council, particularly for major projects, to receive a memo highlighting changes at the time they are taking place. Regarding MDEQ, soil erosion and the culvert, there should be a written documented report, ensuring that all parties are "on the same page."
Ms. McClain said that when the MDEQ signs the permit, the permit is the Department’s opinion. The DEQ signed the permit approving the 11 foot by 4 foot culvert, knowing full well that it was that size. Having been in the field, the City has emails which are considered written documentation.
Member Lorenzo said that if there were emails confirming this, it would be helpful for Council to have that information. She noted that Council has received phone calls from residents questioning the project, and said that the information would be extremely helpful.
Ms. McClain stated that technically, the DEQ’s definition of navigable does not include the culvert, as the definition has to do with either commercial traffic or streams which have been used to transport logs for the logging industry. The culvert does not technically meet the DEQ’s definition of navigability; however, Mr. Losee stated that he would like to keep as much as possible for underneath that culvert, and he agreed to the 4-foot culvert.
Member Lorenzo asked for a copy of the DEQ’s definition of a navigable waterway.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher for the legal definition of "navigable water."
Mr. Fisher said the legal definition by case law in Michigan, is whether or not a log will float down a stream unencumbered.
Mayor Csordas said he wanted this on the record, as in essence there was no question that the culvert fits the legal definition of navigable water. He understood that there might some special uses that were utilized on the site, but noted that the waterway fit the definition of navigable.
Member Nagy said the had noticed the stockpiling of dirt near the lake, and expressed concern about soil erosion control near the water. She asked that the site be checked, and asked for an explanation.
Ms. McClain stated that some dirt is being bulldozed to better protect the site. Ms. Uglow had been out to the site recently and checked the area again. The City has additional work for the contractor to do for soil erosion.
Member Nagy asked if the City pays to have the dirt hauled away by the cubic yard. Ms. McClain said the removal was included as part of the excavation cost.
Mayor Csordas said he found it interesting that he was asked by a resident to examine the site, and noted that neither he nor Council knew what was happening at the site. Mr. Helwig had sent someone at the Mayor’s request to take a look at the site. Mayor Csordas said he wondered what would have happened if a concerned resident had not invited him and several other Council members to view the site. He questioned why the inspecting engineering firm had not found the problem earlier, and felt the procedure was flawed since more damage would have occurred had the inspection taken place at the end of the project.
Ms. McClain noted that prior to Council’s visit to the site, the City Engineering Department had already requested that the survey take place, as it was scheduled for Monday morning.
4. ATTORNEY – Advice on how Council Members can respond to citizen’s request to view a concern in the community (requested by Mayor Csordas)
Mayor Csordas said he requested this item because there have been some members of City Council that he said had been under "fierce attack" that week for trying to do the right thing, looking at a concerned resident’s issue but not make any promises while viewing. He wanted to make sure that no other City Council member would have to suffer such an unsubstantiated attack, and make sure that Council understood its responsibilities. He referred to a document that Council had in its packet, a copy of the March 31, 2003 budget message. In the first paragraph of that message, it is stated "To focus on improved service to Novi citizens, to help solve their problems." This is a strong statement that all Council members take to heart. Council will not be intimidated by anyone and will continue to meet with concerned citizens.
Mr. Fisher said the Mayor had asked him to address two related issues: whether or not there had been a violation of the Open Meetings Act as a result of a site visit; and how to best avoid any violation, or any appearance of violation, in the future. The Open Meetings Act has very specific definitions, of which he distributed Section 2 to Council. The definition of "meeting" under the Open Meetings Act is not necessarily what one would think of as the normal concept of a meeting, people coming together. The point of the Open Meetings Act is to make sure that when governmental officials are conducting business, they do so in the "light of day" at a meeting where the public is invited. The important question is what it means to come together to do business. The Act describes a "meeting" as "the convening of a public body at which a quorum is present", so a quorum of individuals from the public body is necessary, in this case the Council, and those individuals must be coming together for a specific purpose, deliberating toward or rendering a decision on public policy. He performed an investigation of the matter and spoke to all four individuals who were invited to the site visit, and also discussed the matter with Mr. Smith, who was the inviter. On the basis of that investigation, his findings were that there was a desire by Mr. Smith to invite members of Council out to apprise them of a situation at this particular site. He indicated that he did attempt to invite each Council member, and Council members were invited individually. Mr. Smith indicated that he was not able to get a hold of Member Lorenzo, but did speak to Member Paul and Member Nagy, and he had indicated that Member Paul and Member Nagy were actually undertaking their own investigations on this ahead of the time that he initiated. He invited each member, but on an individual basis, so none of the other Council members knew that other members would appear. It was clear that there was no plan or expectation on the part of Council member that four would appear at the site together, so there was no plan to have a quorum at that site. As soon as four members did appear at the site, there was an immediate recognition that there was an issue, and there was a statement that there would be no discussions among Council members on those issues. Mr. Smith had a desire to advise representatives of the City of the issue, and this process was completed. There were no deliberations and no decision made or rendered on public policy according to Mr. Smith and all four members who attended. On the basis of this, while what might be considered in common parlance to be a meeting, there was not a meeting for the purposes of the Open Meetings Act that occurred at the site. This was more closely akin to what might happen if four individual Council members determined independently to attend any type of meeting, either in the Civic Center or elsewhere, and upon arrival find out that there were three other members there. He did not find this to be a meeting as understood under the Open Meetings Act.
Mr. Fisher said his advice for what to do in the future was that if any Council members in the future find themselves in a location with four members, the best thing to do to avoid even the appearance of a problem is for everyone to disperse, or at the very least for a number of Council members to leave so that there is no longer a quorum. The Regents of the University of Michigan felt that they could avoid that issue by having a series of non-quorum meetings on the same issue on a "round robin" basis, effectively having a meeting of five or six people. The Michigan Supreme Court has indicated that this is a violation of the Open Meetings Act, and the sub-quorum situation, a subterfuge, cannot be used to get around the terms of the Act. To deliberate public policy among a quorum, either directly or indirectly, a public meeting must be held or this business must be done at the meeting.
Mayor Csordas thanked Mr. Fisher for the clarification, and asked all members of Council to take this advice to heart. Council does not want to demonstrate any kind of improper actions.
Member Capello asked Mr. Fisher if all Council members could attend the Christmas Walk.
Mr. Fisher said the Christmas Walk is a social gathering. Council members should make sure that they are separated, and avoid the appearance of being together and discussing City business.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – In order to hear all citizen comments at a reasonable hour, the City Council requests that speakers respect the three-minute time limit for individual comments, and the five-minute time limit for an individual speaking on behalf of a group.
Sarah Gray, 133 Maudlin, asked Council to approve Item #3. She said the HCD Committee is doing great things, and the outreach program has proved very successful. Ms. Gray also spoke as a resident near South Lake Drive, and spoke of concerns about grades and how residents will get into their access lots. For the first time that she can recall, there is standing water at the stop sign on Owenton, and she worried about this freezing. There have been concerns that she has addressed the contractors directly about, including materials and equipment storage on the Owenton access lot. She said that she has kept a regular email correspondence with Mr. Pearson, and the matter appeared to be resolved. Mr. Fisher who owns Willoway has the 40 feet between the Owenton access lot and the chain link fence. Mr. Fisher, who owns Willoway, caused concern for residents with his school bus because of liability. If the City is interested in negotiating for an easement near Owenton, the back lot owners of the subdivision need to be contacted because they own the access lots. In November of 1922 when the lake was re-platted, the out lots were dedicated in perpetuity to the back lot owners. She hoped the project would be finished.
Gerry Stipp, Border Hill Road, noted that she was a member of the City of Novi Retirees Association. She said the Association had submitted a letter to Council, asking for consideration of the E-1 resolution for retirees instead of the E resolution. The E-1 resolution would provide a 2.5% increase. The Association based this increase on the fact that most City employees usually receive more than a 2% increase. Costs constantly increase for the retirees, and the 2% increase is not keeping pace with those costs.
Ken Nanda, 21130 Chubb Road, Northville, said he wished to bring before Council an issue that could be corrected. Mr. Nanda said he would speak about Wilshire Abbey subdivision off of Beck Road between Nine Mile and Ten Mile, and Cheltenham subdivision just south of that, of which he was the developer. The Cheltenham subdivision was approved sometime in 1998, built, and the roads were paved last June. The final plat for Wilshire Abbey was approved on the 10th of November at the Council meeting. His understanding was that final plat approval requires access to public roads. Cheltenham roads are not public roads at this time. This issue was discussed by City Council on October 19, 1998, when the revised preliminary plat for Wilshire Abbey was debated at the City Council meeting. At that time, Member Lorenzo was also io the City Council and had a number of questions which were answered by the City Attorney. The City Attorney said that roads are private until the City accepts them. The City has not accepted his roads in Cheltenham yet. Wilshire Abbey may not have a subdivision at the time of the final plat approval if there are no public roads. The Wilshire Abbey developer at that time was very aware of this requirement and accepted it, choosing to have a plat where he had to have access to Cheltenham. At that time, the Wilshire Abbey developer had frontage on Beck Road and could have had his own access, which would have cost money and lots. The developer thus took a chance that when his subdivision was ready for a final plat, Cheltenham would be a public road, but it is not. If Cheltenham roads become public at this time, there is no way to stop the construction traffic on them. He noted that he had a 2-year maintenance bond which covers $250,000, and is responsible for the maintenance of those roads. The other developer would be using his roads, which is not fair. He requested that the final plat approval for Wilshire Abbey should be either reconsidered by Council. Mr. Nanda said there was land to the east and the north side of Wilshire Abbey which the developer could acquire to create his own entrance.
Linda Krieger, 44920 Byrne Drive, noted that at the last meeting, Council had accepted Toll Brothers’ offer to move the barn from their property to Maybury State Park to help rebuild the farm there. On February 12, 2003, Maybury Farm suffered a tragedy with the loss of the major barns and all of the animals except 2 donkeys and the chickens. A group of friends and concerned people formed Voices for Maybury Farm, which has 501(c)3 status. They wish to donate 100% of received charity to the new farm on the original site with animals, farmer and equipment. Voices for the Farm is an advisory group to the Northville Community Foundation with the DNR to accomplish the task. She presented the Mayor and Council members each with a calendar that she created, in gratitude for allowing the Toll Brothers’ barn to go to Maybury.
Andrew Mutch, 24740 Taft Road, wished to speak about Zoning Map Amendment 18.632 by Singh Development. He stated that the Friends of Novi Parks supported the proposal of creating a new City park. The proposal would help protect the core reserve area, as dedicated wildlife habitat master plan. Over the past 2 years, the Friends of Novi Parks have encouraged the City to protect that area permanently, and they are pleased that the Singh Development proposal would help accomplish that goal. All of the discussion about the property assumes that the two adjoining City-owned properties are used for park purposes, but in fact neither property has been designated as parkland either by the City Council, the City’s master plan, or the recently-adopted parks and recreation master plan. To bring this vision to reality, the Council should take action to designate the adjoining properties as City parkland. A trail system is an essential component of Singh’s proposal. As presently configured in the proposal, a large part of the proposed development does not have direct access to the parkland or the trail system. Mr. Mutch said that Friends of Novi Parks proposed that additional property or easements be provided along the southern border of the development to allow connections to the other portions of the parkland and out to Napier Road. There will be bike paths and sidewalks along Ten Mile and Napier Road, creating the opportunity for a loop system that benefits residents of the development and the City. He said that Friends of Novi Parks was only looking for Singh to endorse the concept, and work out the details of the path later. The full benefit of the proposed park donation won’t be realized until access to Nine Mile Road is developed. This access would allow residents to the south, including the new subdivision at Nine Mile and Napier, to access the City parkland.
Asa Smith, 1294 East Lake Drive, said he was in attendance to represent thoughts and feelings of the homeowners’ association of LAHA, the Lakes Area Homeowners’ Association. He stated that the visit by some members of Council the prior week was never intended to be a meeting, but was rather just to observe construction and design issues of a road project on South Lake Drive. There was information that was available, and points of interest that should be looked at. Mr. Smith also represents the City on the Storm Water Management Committee. The project has continued for 10 to 15 years. The main concern to LAHA right now is the culvert and its installation. This was discussed in the beginning when the project was being designed. LAHA knew that the approaches in the road could be smoothed out and still have a navigable culvert. He felt Council was denying people from Shawood Lake the opportunity to use navigable waterways that they have used for years. The canal is natural and connects to two bodies of water. He felt that no one had taken into account the high and low water levels in that area. He has been in touch over a long period of time with Todd Losee, regional director of the DEQ; Jerry Fulchner, regional DEQ director in Lansing; and the Oakland County Drain Commission, who stated that if this was a County drain project, it would be exactly the dimensions it came out, perhaps even improved upon with modern technology. The DEQ has maintained its statement that the canal needs to be maintained as a navigable waterway. In order for it to be a navigable waterway, the culvert should be a minimum of 6 feet. He said the DEQ recommends a space opening of 6 feet internal diameter, the bottom of the culvert to be set one foot below the water line. He asked that the bridge not be changed the next day.
Wayne Hogan, 20923 Woodland Glen Drive, noted that he represented Persons with Disabilities in the Oakland County Mental Health Authority, or slightly over 13,000 people. The Novi Public Library had recently installed a 5-bay handicap parking platform with responsible access for both sides of a vehicle, and all lanes going directly onto the sidewalk for improved safety. The City has also recently added handicap parking in the Civic Center parking lot, and this is also accessible to the sidewalk. The striping has not yet been painted, and he hoped that the same style would be used as at the Library, as not using this would cause a waste of space. Mr. Hogan thanked the Novi Public Library and the City for making those handicap spaces extended to the sidewalks. Mr. Hogan asked that the handicap parking which was removed off of Market Street be replaced. He also asked that sidewalks be installed from Market Street to Novi Road on Main Street. Parking is extended all the way to Novi Road, but there is no sidewalk there for people to walk on, making people walk on the street.
CONSENT AGENDA (Approval/Removals)
Member Lorenzo removed the Warrant, Item E, for discussion.
CM-03-11-367 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Consent Agenda as amended
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-367 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
CONSENT AGENDA: (Background information for Consent Agenda items is available for review at the City Clerk’s Office)
A. Approve Minutes of:
B. Approval of Final Pay Estimate Number 8 and Final Change Order Number 1 for the Nine Mile Road Pathway- Meadowbrook to Novi Road in the amount of $5,000.00 to Jackson Contracting.
C. Approval of South Lake Drive License Agreement for the placement of conduit pipe under South Lake Drive.
D. Approval to close a section of Main and Market streets for the Ringing in the Holidays event on Thursday, December 4, 2003 from 4:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part I
1. Consideration of the request of Western United Life Assurance Company and Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota, for approval of a General Condominium, associated with the Main Street development. The subject property is located in Section 23 south of Grand River Avenue on Market and Main Streets in the TC-1 (Town Center) District. The applicant is proposing a condominium. The subject property is 20.65 acres.
James Cambridge appeared on behalf of Wells Fargo Bank, the owner of the proposed unit. Mr. Cambridge noted that his address is 500 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI. Larry Griffiths of Western United Life Insurance Company noted his address was 1 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI.
Mayor Csordas invited the applicants to speak on behalf of the request. Mr. Cambridge said that he and Mr. Griffiths would be happy to answer Council’s questions, but had nothing new to offer in a speech.
Member Capello said he had some questions about the item which could delay its approval. He asked if Mr. Cambridge would mind if he voted on the issue. Though his questions did not affect his position on the issue, he wanted to clear up some history pertaining to the item. Mr. Cambridge asked Mr. Capello to clarify his request. Member Capello said he wanted to know if Mr. Cambridge felt he would have a potential conflict of interest on the issue, as Mr. Cambridge’s firm and some of his Main Street clients had litigation over this building. Mr. Cambridge stated that he had no objection to Member Capello’s voting on the item. Member Capello said he did not feel he had a conflict of interest either, but wished to provide the opportunity to Mr. Cambridge. Mr. Cambridge thanked Member Capello for the opportunity.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher if he had any problem with Member Capello’s involvement on the item.
Mr. Fisher said that as far as he knew, there was no direct conflict. He asked Member Capello if there was anything that his clients would gain or lose in the event of the approval of the project, which Member Capello answered there was not. Mr. Fisher said he did not believe there was a conflict of interest.
Member Capello said he had seen the problem long ago when Main Street began to get into trouble, as when it was refinanced, the mortgage company took a mortgage on only a portion of the described property. When he and Mr. Lemmon examined the tax rolls, Mr. Lemmon had to try and attribute how much of the taxes were attributed to the building, and how much to the land.
Member Capello said a problem was that it appeared there was a small section of the 200-300 building that was also part of the 500 building. He was not certain where the access drive and parking lots fell in within the condominium documents. When this started at the pre-planning stages, the condominium was going to be able to sell just per square footage. As it went through the stages, in efforts to try and finish certain phases at certain times, the individual condominium unit itself changed, which was where he lost grasp of what was going on. Another problem was that the documents referred to Evergreen LLC. This used to be Evergreen Inc., but when Column Financial stepped in, Main Market LLC showed up, and he could not find any documents where Evergreen Inc. transferred to Main Market LLC. He said he was not sure how all three entities tied together.
Member Capello said he did not want to hold up Wells Fargo, because this was one step to resolve one small problem on Main Street. However, Council needs to look at the effect that this will have on the remaining properties. He asked if the current property owner originally developed the property. There are other various parcels there, such as Paul Bunyan Road. He did not want to vacate that and give Paul Bunyan Road to a development that may never go forward.
Mr. Griffiths noted that Western United Life Insurance was the lender on Units 2 and 3, the 18.4 acres of vacant land. Wells Fargo owns Unit 1, which is the unit on which the buildings have been constructed. Ultimately, it does not matter if Evergreen is Evergreen III or Evergreen LLC, as Wells Fargo now owns all of the property on which there was a mortgage, Units 2 and 3 of the Main Market condominium. That condominium is defined by the master deed, which was approved by the State of Michigan and recorded with Oakland County. There is no issue as to what the property is - it is what is described in the master deed. The issue was raised initially because after his company foreclosed, it wanted to pay the taxes. There were about $400,000 or $500,000 due just on the property that Western United owns. They just want the City to approve what is already in existence so that they can have tax parcels that meet the bounds of the units described in the master deed and can pay the taxes. With respect to Paul Bunyan Road, almost everybody believed that the half of the road was already vacated. Western United was asking for nothing more than what the City’s tax parcel map shows, one half of Paul Bunyan Road as Unit 3. The owners of the property have been assessed and paying taxes on that property. The City’s own description of tax parcel 014 includes as private property that half of Paul Bunyan Road.
Member Capello said he agreed with Mr. Griffiths. His concern was whatever entity remains, and the effect that granting the condominiums will have on the balance of the land, which he was not comfortable with. Mr. Griffiths said there should be no balance on the rest of the land, since these are not part of the condominium.
Member Capello said it appeared to him that Unit 2 was part of the condominium. Mr. Griffiths said this was correct, as Unit 1 was the property owned by Wells Fargo, and Units 2 and 3 – the 18.4 acres of vacant land – was the property owned by his client, Western United.
Mr. Fisher said there had been concern and discussion about the vacation, but the vacation was not before Council, and would be the subject of a potential future action by Council. If Council were to approve the item, it would not be approving the vacation.
Member Capello thanked Mr. Fisher for the clarification, because the documentation in front of him seemed to say that the vacated portion of the road was included in the condominium.
Mr. Fisher said that if Council took the action tonight, it would be subject to the future vacation.
Member Capello asked Mr. Griffiths to restate his last comment about Units 2 and 3. Mr. Griffiths said this was the property owned by his client, which is all vacant. When someone thinks about the word "unit" with a condominium, they tend to think of "unit" as describing single-family residences. This is merely a designation on a piece of paper, which shows boundary lines between Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3. There are no buildings on those units, except lines on a piece of paper.
Member Capello commented that normally in the approval process of condominiums, the master deed and bylaws go through Mr. Fisher’s office for approval. He asked Mr. Fisher if that had been done with this property.
Mr. Fisher said it had not, because the master deed had been previously recorded by Evergreen without approval of the City.
Mr. Griffiths agreed with Mr. Fisher, and said that was why he and Mr. Cambridge were there. Pursuant to the City’s ordinances, before Mr. Lemmon can change the tax parcels and before the City can deal with the property on a site plan basis, the City must approve the "lines on a piece of paper."
Member Capello asked Mr. Fisher if he agreed with this, which Mr. Fisher said he did. Member Capello asked if by approving the item, the City was not vacating roads that it currently owns, even if it is included in the recorded master deed of the condominium.
Mr. Fisher stated that this was correct, and remarked that the motion should be subject to future vacation.
Mr. Griffith said it was his client’s intention, with respect to the vacation of the strip of land, to make a formal request for a public hearing before Council for the vacation of that small strip. However, this was not before Council that evening.
Member Capello commented that in the documents before Council, it was stated that Units 1 and 2 must be built. He asked Mr. Fisher what enforcement power, if any, Council had.
Mr. Fisher replied that he had not studied the issue enough to answer that question. Member Capello said he understood, and thanked Mr. Fisher.
Mr. Griffith said his company took subject to whatever was recorded by Mr. Chen. What the company intends to do is do whatever amendments to the master deed are necessary, which is just a paperwork process, to change some of the language in the master deed to meet current reality, one of which is the language that Member Capello had mentioned. Whoever Western United sells the property to will have to come before the Planning Commission and Council to get approval of any project.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that while the question of the vacation of Blue Ox Drive was not before Council that night, it appeared to him that the lines which they were examining may eventually include all of what is now Blue Ox Drive, should it be vacated. He asked Mr. Fisher, if Blue Ox Drive is a public road, and if it is vacated, if the land on one half would go to the northern property owner, and one half to the southern property owner.
Mr. Fisher said that in the normal course that would be true, if the right-of-way being vacated were in the middle of a plat. This property is on the edge of a plat, and the property to the north is outside of the plat. There is a question of where the property on the south is, but his office has determined that it would go solely to the property to the south.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he simply wanted to make sure that Council was not approving the item subject to something that would change and create a bigger problem in the future.
CM-03-11-368 Moved by Landry, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the request of Western United Life Assurance Company and Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota, for approval of a General Condominium, associated with the Main Street development, subject to a Zoning Board of Appeals variance for the lack of parking lot setback on the site, and the future vacation of Paul Bunyan Drive located within the proposal. The subject property is located in Section 23 south of Grand River Avenue on Market and Main Streets in the TC-1 (Town Center) District. The applicant is proposing a condominium. The subject property is 20.65 acres.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-368 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
2. Consideration of Zoning Map Amendment No. 18.632, a request of Singh Development to rezone 324.95 acres located in Section 30 on the south side of Ten Mile Road and east of Napier Road, from R-A (Residential Acreage) to R-1 (One-Family Residential) with a development agreement. The subject area includes the property currently known as the Links of Novi.
Robert Carson, Birmingham, noted that he was in attendance on behalf of the proposed developer of the property and the applicant for the rezoning, Singh Development Company. The request was for approximately 325 acres of property, which is an assemblage of 5 different parcels by the Singh Development Company, with different ownership. He said Singh proposed to develop the property in a relatively low-density manner, with extreme open space and a dedication of parkland to the City. The property has been the subject of intense and expedited review by the Planning Commission. He said the area of reference has been an important consideration for the City, as well as for the developer. The great number of golf courses today makes it very difficult for some courses to be maintained.
Mr. Carson said that Singh was not trying to maximize the R-1 density on the property by the rezoning request. Instead, the company was asking for 428 units, with the approximate layout provided to the City. At the Planning Commission, there was a range suggested. Singh was suggesting the 428 units because that was the number that was necessary for Singh to go forward with project as it was willing to commit in the development agreement. So that there was no ambiguity as to the terms of the development agreement that Singh would agree to commit to, the development agreement itself was presented to the City with its exhibits.
Mr. Carson said that to Singh, the development agreement means the ability to take the acreage and develop a property with approximately 150 acres of open space. Between 41 and 46% of the property would be open space. This would also allow the development of approximately 428 units of detached single family housing with a very strong amenity package. This would also enable Singh to create parkland for the City, not only in the approximately 65 acres of parkland next to the City’s own land and fire station are, but also to "unlock" a parcel of City-owned land that is currently landlocked. Thus, this would create the second-largest area of parkland within the City. The issue of parkland has been a pressing concern to the residents and Council of the City and this is a rare opportunity for a developer to come forward and create this opportunity.
Mr. Carson stated that the proposed development would be less dense than the area of Island Lake immediately to the north of it. However, the development would be denser in units per acre compared to all of Island Lake and the lake itself. Singh’s development would be approximately the same density as the entire Island Lake, within about two-tenths of a unit per acre, if the lake is not included. This area of Novi, as it borders Lyon Township, is obviously going through change. Singh feels that this is an opportunity for the City, not only in the establishment of parkland, but in the establishment of a density cap in a development that will be capped with respect to the development that could take place in the future. He said Singh has removed any plans for a western entrance onto Napier Road, and thus proposed no development on or improvements to Napier Road. The Planning Commission had raised concern about the view of both Napier Road and Ten Mile Road. He said the proposal would essentially leave the Napier Road frontage, which is essentially rural in character and undeveloped in appearance. Singh concentrated the development in the plans to the area of the property that has already been cleared, especially by way of the golf course. Though there is some intrusion into the woodlands, there is not the significant kind of intrusion that would happen should the wood stands along Napier Road be developed.
Mr. Carson said a concern was raised by the Planning Commission regarding whether the City would be able to afford improvements or maintenance for an additional park. He said that Singh sets forth in the development agreement a contribution with respect to these items. The contribution is available to the City in kind, in that contractors would make that park available for a system of trails to the extent of that contribution. While there may be a problem with ongoing maintenance of the park, this is a drastically different type of problem than raising the funds to acquire acreage to create a park. He said another question that arose was what happens to the signalization that might be necessary due to the traffic impact. He said the traffic impact from the development would be minimal. He said Singh would make a contribution to help address those concerns, in addition to the normal impacts that the company is willing to pay for.
Mr. Carson stated that this was an opportunity of a lifetime, both for Singh and for Novi. He hoped Council appreciated that the company was trying to go in a very forthright way to deliver benefit to the City. The development is in harmony with what is happening in that part of the City, and will cap density at what is already established in the area.
Member Lorenzo noted that the applicant proposed the development agreement and was offering certain things within that agreement. Neither the City Council nor Planning Commission had made any demands for the development agreement. With regard to the 65 acres that the applicant is proposing to donate to the City, she said the map in exhibit 3 seemed to show that property including detention basins for the development. She asked if this was or was not the case as proposed.
Mike Kahm of Singh Development asked Member Lorenzo if she was referring to the 150 acres of open space.
Member Lorenzo replied that she was speaking about the 65 acres that Singh proposed to donate as part of the development.
Mr. Kahm said the detention basin locations were currently somewhat hypothetical, as the company had not yet gone into detailed engineering plans. Exhibit 3 did show the possibility of one basin on the land that may or may not be there. He said that if she was looking at compensating area for that basin, it would be fine.
Member Lorenzo said she would not want to get into a situation where the City has the deed to the detention basins and is required to maintain them in the future. Mr. Kahm said this was definitely not his company’s intent. She said that if there were detention basins, she would not want them included in the City’s parkland, and would want to be compensated for the additional land.
Member Lorenzo noted that development agreements were fairly new as of the last year in Novi. Typically, residential developments had been handled through the City’s development options, such as RUD’s. She said it appeared in the presentation that Singh appeared to be looking to do a bit of both. She understood why the development agreement was proposed, but wondered if Singh wanted an RUD to perhaps have flexible lot sizes below the ½ acre lots that would be in an R-1, or if Singh would increase the 428 units number if it had sufficient open space that would have bonus density criteria met.
Mr. Kahm said that what was set forth in the development agreement was a development agreement followed by an RUD. The development agreement makes clear that there is a cap on the number of units. Singh would then apply the RUD criteria to this. The development agreement was used to give assurances that the company was not trying to maximize the density that might otherwise occur through an R-1. However, they could not get to the density that was necessary to do the entire development and create the benefits in an R-A setting.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Kahm if he planned to come in with an RUD, and if the RUD allowed for flexible lot sizes below R-1, this was what Singh might be looking for. Mr. Kahm replied that this was correct. Member Lorenzo said she wanted to make this clear because development agreements and are RUD’s are very different, and the City does not typically interconnect one with the other.
Mr. Kahm said the development agreement that has been tendered spells out that an RUD would be sought and negotiated, and the procedure would be applied. The open space in discussion, more than 40% of the site, is only available through the RUD.
Member Lorenzo asked if a traditional RUD coming through that approach would not allow for the 428 unit number that Singh had determined necessary for a profit margin on the project. Mr. Kahm responded that there were a number of ways to make the site work, such as developing on smaller acreage. As Singh had interpreted the ordinances, leaving the property as an R-A with an RUD would not achieve the proposed development.
Member Lorenzo said she was having a difficult time even considering rezoning the property, just in a general sense, because of the burden of the 200 extra homes on the road and City services. She commented that 1400 additional cars on that area’s road network is substantial to the community, since this will mean additional stopping and waiting. She said that while she considers herself both a "tree hugger" and a "swamp lover", she must consider more than these things. In the recent election, one of the most talked-about issues by the community was what to do about traffic congestion. Land use decisions are the biggest control of how much traffic the community sees on its roads. She remarked that this was a decision that Council could impact how much more traffic will be on Ten Mile Road. She expressed concern that the development did not go nearly far enough in addressing those 1400 or more additional cars resulting from the new homes, which was her greatest concern with the proposed rezoning. She said she agreed with Planning Commission Chair Gwen Markham that the burden of the undertakings on the owner was not proportional to the burdens being created by the development. The property being donated, while very generous, is mostly un-buildable, and thus much of the land would not be usable for anything but trail systems and similar uses.
Member Lorenzo stated that in order for her to consider any further discussions of the rezoning, she wanted to see additional items in the development agreement, including that the applicant would have to be willing to place trails not only in the 65 acres being donated to the City but also in all of the City-owned property there. She had asked the City Engineer about how much right-of-way the City currently has in its possession along Ten Mile Road. Ultimately for consideration of the development agreement, she wanted to see a center lane and stacking lane from Wixom Road to where the entranceways for the proposed subdivision would be with at least a left-turn signal, which would be at the cost of the applicant. With regard to the paving of Napier Road, if the City would locate an access off of Napier Road, this should be at least chip sealed for the community’s use. She said the applicant should volunteer to pay for all the lights needing installment in the project. She understood there was discussion of asking Toll Brothers or Oak Pointe Church and asking them to contribute towards this cost, which she did not have a problem with, but noted the City had no incentive to approach those parties.
Member Lorenzo asked Ms. McClain how much right-of-way the City currently has on Ten Mile Road, and what would be accomplished at this point with a center lane and additional stacking at the Wixom Road area.
Ms. McClain said that in the area from Wixom Road to the west, to the edge of the first piece of Island Lake property, there will be an extended right-of-way to approximately a 60-foot half section. There is a proposal by the Stauch property to also extend the right-of-way; however, that has approval has not been completed yet. There was also a proposal with Oak Pointe Church to donate additional right-of-way. Most of the Quail Hollow property will be available to have an additional right-of-way, with the exception of the two parcels that Singh will not own. With the 66-foot right-of-way, the best that could presently be done in most areas is a 3-foot section with some turning lanes. In the future when additional right-of-way comes online and the need and money are present, the City could expand to a wider section at Council’s discretion.
Member Lorenzo asked what the City would be able to do right now with turning lanes.
Ms. McClain replied that there could be a lane in each direction with the continuous center turn lane, which would be the left turn lane into the driveways.
Member Lorenzo asked if there was currently enough right-of-way to install a center turn lane from the most westerly access on the property to Wixom Road, which Ms. McClain said there was.
Member Lorenzo said she understood the development agreement to state that the applicant was agreeing to do whatever is necessary for both sanitary sewer and water in providing these to the site. She asked how water rates were affected by adding population to the area.
Ms. McClain said she was not very qualified to speak on water rates, but typically the adding of customers would not affect the City’s water rates. Singh has discussed additional pumps at the pumping station which would bring water to the site.
Member Lorenzo asked if this would affect peaking at all. Ms. McClain responded that the City’s peak hour is currently different than what Detroit views as the peak hour across the system, which is an advantage for Novi. When the City takes in the most water is not when the city of Detroit considers people to be using the most water. Thus, adding population should not affect the peaking factor at all.
Member Nagy noted that she sat on the Master Plan and Zoning Committee when the proposal came before it. She expressed concern with density affecting fire and police, traffic, school systems, and other factors. She was disappointed that the development agreement sought the highest density allowed, 428 units. She did not believe that the development agreement constituted a number of things that would be benefit the City. The agreement with the Master Plan and Zoning Committee was that Singh would install a trail system and connect this to the Community Sports Park on Eight Mile Road. She would like to see an endowment of some sort to maintain the parks. She expressed concern that the land to the south of the proposed development was zoned R-A, and wondered how this would affect future development in the area, namely one called The Preserve. Singh told the Master Plan and Zoning Committee that the company would have an entranceway onto Napier Road and would pave this. She expressed concern about Item 3G, regarding additional lighting along Ten Mile Road, which states "owner shall contribute to the improvement and/or maintenance of the parkland up to a total of $65,000 which, at the election of the City, shall be paid by owner by the combination of in-kind labor and materials for the clearing and improvement of a trailway. Member Nagy said this was not her understanding of the agreement from the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, and said it was not the understanding of the Planning Commission as she understood it. Even though Singh might pay for a pumping station, the City pays for the maintenance of that station.
Member Nagy said she was looking to lower the density of the proposal, as she did not believe that 428 units was a great amount. She understood that Singh is a business and has a profit to make. She said she did not want to look at the plan in terms of the layout, because it is a conceptual plan in her mind and should not be taken into account when discussing rezoning. For City Council to consider adding additional density, the gains for the City must be great. She said that what was contained in the document was not enough for her to vote in support of the proposal at the present time.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry summarized the proposal: 324 acres, of which Singh proposed to maintain 150 as open space, or 46 percent. He commented that this amount of open space is desirable for any type of development. On the property as zoned right now, his understanding was that the company could build 260 houses. If the City property is included in the calculations, Singh could build 368 houses. The company is asking to build 428 houses, which is either an additional 60 homes, or an additional 160, depending on how this is calculated. He said the question was if the City would allow an additional 60, or an additional 160, how would the City benefit. Increased density brings forth concerns about traffic, water, and sewers. For the added density, the developer proposes to pay for a water booster pump. For sewers, the developer will pay for the improvements to the sanitary booster pump. With respect to traffic, Singh is committed to making up to $120,000 of improvements to Ten Mile Road.
Mr. Carson noted that Singh has committed to improve acceleration and deceleration lanes, a center turn lane, plus $120,000.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said this was at least addressing in some form the traffic situation. In addition, the City would receive 65 acres of parkland. He recalled that the City recently lost 75 acres of parkland, and commented that some people believed the attorney representing this developer was responsible for the City losing 75 acres. Citizens constantly ask City Council how it will obtain additional parkland, which this opportunity allows for. The developer would pay for, to some extent, the development of that parkland, limited to $65,000 of either cash or in-kind work on the property. He said this was sufficient for the City. The Planning Commission has recommended approval of the development not to exceed 428 units, but as he understood it, an R-1 development agreement would allow for more than 428 homes.
CM-03-11-369 Moved by Landry, seconded by Csordas; MOTION WITHDRAWN: To approve Zoning Map Amendment No. 18.632, a request of Singh Development to rezone 324.95 acres located in Section 30 on the south side of Ten Mile Road and east of Napier Road, from R-A (Residential Acreage) to R-1 (One-Family Residential) with a development agreement that shall include, at a minimum, the provisions in the proposed Singh Development Company development agreement of that evening. The rezoning shall not be finalized until the development agreement has been approved. The subject area includes the property currently known as the Links of Novi.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that Council was not in position that evening to approve this development agreement, but said that in his motion he wished to make clear that the ultimate development agreement contain nothing less than specified in the development agreement which Council was discussing.
Mr. Fisher asked Mayor Pro Tem Landry if he did not want the rezoning to be effective until Council approves the development agreement.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if Council was voting to approve that specific development agreement that evening.
Mr. Fisher said this was entirely up to Council. There were some "blanks" that needed to be worked out in the agreement, so consequently, it would be impossible to finalize the development agreement that evening.
Mr. Helwig stated that staff had not weighed in on the development agreement. He said administration was listening very carefully to Council. Staff had already heard some of Council’s thoughts, and would like to consider some of these with the representation of Singh to enhance the benefit for the community.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said his motion would then include approval with an ultimate development agreement to be decided by Council that would include at least a minimum of what was included in the proposed development agreement.
Mr. Fisher said the approval would not be effective until the development agreement were ultimately approved.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he meant this if he had not already stated it.
Member Capello said that part of his problem with the proposed development agreement was that he knew the proposal was coming to Council, but to get the package and have such a small amount of time to make such decisions was not enough time for proper consideration. He said the motion was good in most respects, but could recall spending hours examining hundreds of pages of an agreement that Council thought it understood, and certain attorneys had found certain areas of that agreement that were open to interpretation. He felt this development agreement was too broad and too open to interpretation. He said that he has dealt with Mr. Kahm in the past, and "he has always been a man of his word." However, given the circumstances, Member Capello was hesitant to approve anything subject to another agreement being entered into, because the City would be pushed back into a corner. He would rather wait to get the document that Council fully agrees upon if it does want to rezone the property. At that time, Council can decide to rezone the property under specified conditions. He felt the development agreement under consideration was very open, very vague, and did not tie the developer down to too much, except spending not more than $65,000 and possibly developing certain portions. He suggested making a motion to postpone the item to a special meeting where Council could address only that special issue in early December.
Member Nagy said she supported this concept
CM-03-11-370 Moved by Capello, seconded by Paul; MOTION CARRIED; To postpone discussion of the Consideration of Zoning Map Amendment No. 18.632 until a special meeting on December 13, 2003 from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
Member Paul said she had many concerns about how vague the development agreement was. She had looked through what the Planning Commission said about the item, as well as the Planning Commission’s comments regarding the development agreement from Chair Markham and Vice-Chair Kocan, which were very well written. She asked what Item B meant: "wetland will or will not have to be preserved except…" Comment E was very vague: "owner will work and cooperate with City to facilitate City obtaining grant monies to fund the development." Though the development agreement mentioned an endowment of $65,000, the density may be doubled with $500,000 homes, meaning millions of dollars for Singh, which did not equate to her. She questioned what leverage the City would have by rezoning the property, and asked what would be in it for the citizens. The wording in part G about the center lane was not very firm, nor was the portion about the acceleration/deceleration lanes. If Council approved the rezoning, it would not have a site plan to accompany that rezoning approval, and it did not know exactly where the exit would be on Napier Road. The Wixom traffic study was supposed to be accomplished, but was not included in Council’s packets. Initially, the agreement said that 65 acres would be donated, but item I stated that this was 60 acres of parkland. She did not see the verbage, "now therefore, it is agreed as follows" in the legal binding document. She said she would not support the motion to rezone a parcel before Council had a plan before it, but said she would support the motion to postpone in order to add definition to the agreement.
Member Gatt agreed with the Mayor Pro Tem’s comments. Council should also consider that if the deal should fall through, the City would not be dealing with just one person following this. As he understood it, there were several different parcels of land with different owners. He said the City might find itself in a quagmire in the future.
Mayor Csordas said he understood that on this property, R-A allowable is either 260 or 368 homes. He asked what was allowable under R-1 zoning.
Mr. Evancoe referred to a table in Council’s packets, in the planning review letter, dealing with density for the various potential zoning districts that qualify for the RUD. The table was entitled "modified density calculations." It was important to note the dwelling units that would be allowed if wetlands were subtracted, as this is how the City calculates density per its zoning ordinance. At the R-A, this was 206, and for R-1 this would be 425 dwelling units, based on approximately 258 acres.
Mayor Csordas commented that Council was truly looking at an "R-A-1" designation, something in the middle between R-A and R-1. He referred to some past Planning Commission actions from the Planning Commission meeting of November 5th, from which Item #7 referred to a recommendation of 368 units, but not to exceed 428. The Mayor commented that there was a "magic number" somewhere between 368 and 428. The maximum allowable development for R-1 would be 425 units.
Mr. Kahm said the maximum allowed development under R-1 would actually be 536 units, if the acreage of 325 acres multiplied by 1.65 units per acre was calculated.
Mayor Csordas said he understood, but a donation of parkland was also being considered, so the number would truly be closer to the 425 unit figure. He agreed with a number of previous comments. This is a tremendous opportunity for the City to add to its parklands. He saw not only the 65 acres that would be donated, but also the ability to join the land that the City owns just south of the proposed development. Someone had made a very good recommendation during audience participation, that the City designate that property as parkland. This made sense, in order to protect the property and maintain the integrity of that land.
Mayor Csordas said there had been a significant improvement in traffic flow on Ten Mile Road with the opening of Grand River and the opening of Twelve Mile. He recalled traffic on Ten Mile being very congested when Grand River was closed for repairs, and said that traffic on the road had eased with the opening of Grand River. The improvements that the petitioner would bring to that area would be a tremendous addition.
Mayor Csordas remarked that there was no question that the land proposed for donation to the City might be un-buildable, but this would still be a wonderful addition to the City’s parkland. He noted some confusion in the drawings of the site given to Council. Earlier, someone had stated that there would not be an entrance onto Napier, but he referred to several pictures that implied an entrance onto Napier. In the Planning Commission action notes on Item #6, the developer would pave Napier Road to the extent of their southern border to Ten Mile. He asked if something had changed from this item.
Mr. Evancoe stated that in the booklet that Council had received from Singh Development, there were drawings that reflected an entrance onto Napier Road. Since the time that this booklet was presented to the Planning Commission, the exhibit attached to the development agreement replaces those maps, in that it shows two entrances onto Ten Mile and no entrance or exit onto Napier Road, and one southerly entrance onto what would eventually become the Preserve development to the south.
Mayor Csordas asked if the area along Napier Road would then remain "natural". Mr. Kahm said this was correct.
Mayor Csordas agreed with Mayor Pro Tem Landry that there was a great deal of benefit to the City, with the water booster pump, the sanitary booster pump, and other items. He noted that there was not enough support to pass the item that evening. He asked Mr. Helwig how quickly Council could hold a special meeting to address the item, in order to show respect to a petitioner that is ready to contribute a significant contribution to the City.
Mr. Helwig said that Planning Commission Chair Markham had called him the previous week, and he noted that she has been a champion of the community, among others, in trying to maximize benefit to the community in consideration for greater density. He expressed concern, saying that process is very important. He has been concerned that the attorneys have been working on the development agreement before policy direction was heard from City Council. This proposal holds enormous opportunity for the community, and the community has leverage in that process. If Council desired a group of staff and legal representatives to bring back variations of what it had already seen, based on comments heard that evening and other judgment, staff could do this at the risk of not doing some other things, recognizing that staff needed to prepare for a meeting the following Monday as well. He said staff could be ready to come back to Council sometime during the week of December 8th. Council is holding Board and Commission interviews on December 8th, so there could presumably be something later that week for consideration, depending on Council’s availability. There is also a Council meeting on December 16th, which is to terminate the year’s work. He said he had not seen any written documentations that options go away at the end of the year on the property site, though he noted that he did not know this for a fact.
Mr. Carson said it could be represented to Council, as Singh had done to the Planning Commission, that unless the proposal was done at the end of the year, the opportunity will be foreclosed. This was not Singh’s doing, as he said that assemblages are very difficult and delicate, and will go away. Singh will not be able to make this kind of proposal after the year’s end.
Member Nagy said that when she was on the Planning Commission they had fast-tracked the item and had accommodated Singh and the development. However, she thought at that time that Singh had a deadline and had extended its option. She asked if this was no longer possible.
Mr. Carson said that what he had just said to Council was his recollection of what he had said at the Planning Commission, that Singh had to be done this year. If the proposal is not completed by the end of the year, Singh will not control the assemblage.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Carson if he had also said earlier that if the City Council chose not to rezone the property from R-A to a development agreement with a limited amount of units, that the entire deal would be gone.
Mr. Carson said the proposal before Council would only work at the conceptual development that had been proposed.
Member Nagy asked if Council chose not do approve the rezoning and leave the properties R-A, Singh would not build anything.
Mr. Carson said he was not saying that Singh would not build anything, but Singh would not have the assemblage. The company would break the property down into pieces, and other developers would come before Council at some other time about parcels that Singh would no longer control. He remarked that he did not want to convey any kind of threat to Council, as he did not mean his statements as a threat. This was an opportunity that Singh has and is trying to make an opportunity for the City. Singh has been forthright with this all the way through the Planning Commission.
Member Nagy said she was simply trying to clarify this, as she thought there had been a deadline on the option before.
Member Paul asked if this item could be placed on the agenda for the December 16th meeting, giving staff 2 weeks to get a good development agreement. Council could get comments to City staff and the attorney to have something worthwhile come back for discussion. Everyone wants to see the project come forward, but the development agreement needs to be tweaked.
Mayor Csordas said this was a good idea, but he wished to make a recommendation, noting that the agenda for that meeting was becoming very full. He noted that Council had met on Saturdays on occasion, and he suggested meeting on Saturday, December 13th, setting a meeting time cap of perhaps 3 hours.
Mayor Csordas asked Ms. Cornelius how many interviews were scheduled for the special meeting on December 8th. Ms. Cornelius replied that interviews were scheduled beginning at 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., as the agenda was already full.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry withdrew his motion.
Mr. Carson said that the property is currently zoned R-A, and if it stood alone for rezoning, Singh would look around the neighboring area, including Island Lakes and the incoming church. Singh feels that R-1 is appropriate now, without the development agreement. The taxes that are currently paid, of $27,000 a year that would go to an estimated $1,127,000 in real estate taxes, is a significant benefit. An overall development is terrific for the City, to gain uniformity in a high-quality development. Assemblages are very delicate. Singh appreciates the efforts that have been undertaken by the City and its various boards and administration. He had not seen the letter referred to by the Planning Chair, and wished Council to know that the format of the development agreement was used off a format that the City has used in the past. It is not Singh’s intention for the development agreement to be ambiguous, and the company would be happy to work with the City to make sure that it was not ambiguous, and that the representations called undertakings are incorporated by definition into the undertakings in the agreement and are binding upon the developer. The undertakings sit in the first paragraph of the agreement, incorporated by reference. This is the style of the agreement that Singh was given. They will be happy to work on the document in any format to ensure that the City is comfortable with it.
Mayor Csordas appreciated Mr. Carson’s comments, and also appreciated Mr. Helwig’s comments that process is of high priority in this process. The City needs to follow the appropriate process and not deny Singh the right to due process. He asked Mr. Carson what he would think if Council were to ask Mr. Helwig to schedule another meeting for December 13th or December 20th.
Mr. Carson said he would be very concerned if the meeting was scheduled for the 20th, but he would be happy to come on the 13th.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-370 Yeas: Gatt, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
Nays: Lorenzo, Nagy
Mr. Helwig asked if, to emphasize process, it is City Council’s expectation that administration and Mr. Fisher will go to work based on the evening’s discussion, and will have one or more reiterations before December 13th for Council’s perusal. The expectation for the meeting on December 13th is "up or down", given the time parameters.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said this was correct, that "either it will happen or it won’t."
Member Capello said that he hoped Mr. Helwig would actively participate to see if he could get Council what it wanted to see in the proposal.
Mayor Csordas noted that there was someone in the audience who was in attendance to address a letter in the communications packet, but there was no Council action scheduled on that letter.
CM-03-11-371 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To add "Letter from Rob Casalou, Providence Health Park" as Item #7 on Mayor and Council Issues.
Voice Vote on CM-03-11-371 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
3. Approval of the Program Year 2004 Community Development Block Grant Application in the approximate amount of $119,249 and authorize the Mayor to sign the Application and Subrecipient Agreement and submit them to Oakland County.
CM-03-11-372 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Program Year 2004 Community Development Block Grant Application in the approximate amount of $119,249 and authorize the Mayor to sign the Application and Subrecipient Agreement and submit them to Oakland County.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-372 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
4. Consideration of Resolution for Michigan Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) Retiree Benefit E Cost of Living Increase.
Member Gatt said this was a resolution where members of the City who had retired were asking for a 2% increase in their pension, though Council had members speak before it that evening representing a retiree group that wanted 2.5%. He asked Council to seriously consider that request before voting on this issue.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Fisher if he needed to recuse himself from voting on the item, as he was a recipient of those MERS benefits.
Mr. Fisher asked how many total recipients there were. Ms. Gronlund-Fox answered that 30 retirees would be affected by this consideration.
Mr. Fisher said that because this was such a small pool of people, it would be appropriate for Member Gatt to recuse himself.
CM-03-11-373 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To allow Member Gatt to recuse himself from participation on the Consideration of Resolution for Michigan Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) Retiree Benefit E Cost of Living Increase.
Voice Vote on CM-03-11-373 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
CM-03-11-374 Moved by Lorenzo; FAILED FOR LACK OF SUPPORT: To approve Resolution for Michigan Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) Retiree Benefit E Cost of Living Increase.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if E-1 would be an increase of 2.5% per year and would be automatic every year.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied that there were four options, and that Mayor Pro Tem Landry was correct. E-1 would not be voted on again, but would automatically go into effect, as with E-2 as well.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if Council could choose to vote on the item again if it desired. Ms. Gronlund-Fox said this was the flexible benefit E. Council could choose the amount that it wished to add, and it could also choose the criteria for how long someone must be retired for.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if Council could not revisit this item again if it were to pass E-1 that evening. Ms. Gronlund-Fox said she did not know when Council could revisit the item, but said it would go into effect the next year and Council would not have the chance vote on it.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked that if a disaster were to occur in several years, if Council would ever be totally precluded from ever revisiting the item again.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that the way she understood the item, the policy would just go into effect.
CM-03-11-375 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; MOTION FAILED: To approve Resolution for Michigan Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) Retiree Benefit E-1 Cost of Living Increase.
Member Lorenzo said she could not support the motion. It is not a good idea to tie the Council’s hands on any decision of this magnitude. She noted that Council had just had a budget discussion about possible State revenue sharing losses coming in the near future. It was not a good idea for Council to be increasing that type of benefit, particularly when looking at this kind of economic decline in the State of Michigan and in Novi. She had asked Ms. Gronlund-Fox that day what the federal cost of living increase (COLA) has been, which is 2.1%. She said she would be very willing to support the Benefit E COLA, but not more than that at this time.
Member Nagy said she would like future Councils to have the ability to revisit this issue in two or three years from now. She expressed concern with the fixed 2.5% increase, saying that perhaps that amount will not be enough in two or three years. There is no way to know right now what the proper COLA should be.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said all of her information indicated that if the E-1 or E-2 were to go into effect, they would go into effect next year and would carry forward.
Member Nagy asked if Council would not be able to vote on the benefit plan in 2005 or 2006. Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that as she understood it, this was correct.
Member Nagy asked what the difference was between 2.5% and 2.1% in terms of cost to the City. Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that the actuarials included regarding the cost were based on the 2% that the City has done in the past. There were no calculations that MERS sent to the City, as they only sent the calculations for the 2% rate.
Member Nagy said she would support the motion.
Member Paul asked what the different groups, such as general non-union and the POAM, pay into the retirement fund.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said this depends on what the employee’s contract was at the time they retired. Some people don’t pay anything into the retirement fund; others, such as herself, contribute 2.29% into retirement.
Member Paul asked if the City would be giving retirees more than what active employees were paying into the system, which Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied was correct at the 2.5% rate.
Member Paul noted that the actuarial accrued liability was $92,000. She expressed concern about this as a long-term plan because the number of employees will increase and the benefit plan will not be revisited for years to come. The workforce that is currently employed could receive less than what the retirees are receiving in regards to their benefit package. She wondered if this would be a negotiation that the union would use to increase the benefits of the active employees. She would love to give a 2.5% increase, but the State may have a very large loss of revenue. She asked Mr. Helwig what would happen when active employees don’t receive the same level of benefits, since there are so many union employees in the City.
Mr. Helwig said his perspective was the knowledge of what happens in other states. In other states, it is now very common to have a standard cost of living rate guaranteed for each year in the future. The City is presently on very sound financial footing, and will have to deal with what the State is talking about, one way or another. This, however, will not affect the current workforce, nor will this benefits decision before Council. No one knows what the future is. If the State decision impacts Novi, it will impact many other communities far worse. The benefits decision is a policy call of how much oversight Council wants annually, and what it feels is justified for a rate of increase.
Member Paul said she had a number of concerns. As a healthcare provider, she knew what the cost of medicines and insurances will be, and what a person must pay out-of-pocket for healthcare benefits as the cost of living increases. She wants to give this to the employees who serve the City, as they work very hard. Her concern with the motion was the length of time for review. If it would be for one year at 2.5%, she could support the motion. However, with the budget deficit that will be received from the State, she could not support a long-term motion.
Mr. Helwig noted that Council is the City’s policy oversight body. He saw nothing wrong if Council wished to ordain 2.5% for one year from making that motion. Administration would have to find a way to make this happen – retirees would not be unhappy with this, since this is more than they have received in recent years based on what he had been told. Administration would report back to Council if for some reason this was an illegal act. The MERS Corporation must receive the decision by December 2nd, so Council could postpone the decision until the following week if it desired.
Mayor Csordas said he appreciated the comments from everyone. He felt that Council should pay attention to the flexible benefit E. His H.R. background was telling him that this was a sound decision because it was a win-win situation. Flexible benefit E allows the City to pay 2.5% this year if it was the right number, which he said he was appropriate. He was given the impression that if Council elected E-1, at sometime in the future this could be reviewed and changed. However, what he had heard at the meeting indicated that this was not necessarily the case. He felt that the flexible benefit E allowed Council to adopt the 2.5% rate for this year, and repeat the process next year. In essence, this would do the same thing as the motion, but would provide future Councils with flexibility. He said he would not support the motion, not because he did not support the concept, but because the flexible benefit E would accomplish the same thing with more diligence.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he supported E-1 because it is a benefit to retirees to know what their benefits increase will be every year, so that they can plan. Retiree benefits should not become an issue that Council discusses every year. He did not feel that the additional 0.5% was a great enough percentage to be very concerned about, and this would be a win-win situation for both sides. The City could budget around the increase by knowing what it would be, as could also the retirees. He agreed that the flexible benefit would give the City the most options, but next year Council would be faced with the exact same issue. He was not concerned with the additional 0.5% increase, and said he made the motion so that all parties could plan.
Mr. Fisher said that because this motion involved the appropriation of money, it would require 5 votes for adoption.
Mayor Csordas asked if administration knew how the additional 0.5% would affect the next year’s budget.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said she did not know the answer to this, nor did Ms. Smith-Roy.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-375 Yeas: Nagy, Csordas, Landry, Capello
Nays: Paul, Lorenzo
Member Capello said he would make a motion to approve the E-1 benefit at 2.5% for one year, and asked if he needed to set forth the criteria for eligibility in the motion.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said this was actually the flexible benefit E, set at 2.5%, and Council would need to make the criteria for when people would be eligible for receive those benefits.
Mayor Csordas noted that the motion for this also allowed Council to set the number of years for approval.
CM-03-11-376 Moved by Capello, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Resolution for Michigan Employees’ Retirement System (MERS) Retiree Flexible Benefit E Cost of Living Increase of 2.5% for one year, with a renewal option for one year, and an eligibility criterion of one year of retirement to qualify.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-376 Yeas: Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy
5. Consideration of construction contract with Star Construction on behalf of Maybury Park, LLC in the amount of $734,530.71 for Phase1A for the sanitary sewer extension being financed by Special Assessment District No. 170.
CM-03-11-377 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve construction contract with Star Construction on behalf of Maybury Park, LLC in the amount of $734,530.71 for Phase1A for the sanitary sewer extension being financed by Special Assessment District No. 170.
Member Lorenzo referred to letter K of the contract, which said that Maybury is contracting with Star, but in the finance agreement Maybury was supposed to be the general contractor. Mr. Fisher said that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if Mr. Paciocco was now wanting to contract with a 3rd party. Mr. Fisher said that the way the arrangement was intended was that each of the owners would designate a sub-contractor. The initial anticipation was that Maybury’s contractor would have been its own company, but there were some difficulties that made this much more advantageous for the City, to avoid some of the problems encountered with SAD 155.
Member Lorenzo asked if this contract would avoid those problems from SAD 155, including liens, lawsuits, and bonds, which Mr. Fisher agreed with.
Member Lorenzo referred to #2 in the amendments, "The City and the contractor agree that a construction management fee in the amount of $41,577.21 will be paid to the Contractor." She wanted this to include "…paid to the Contractor by the SAD." With regard to "Maybury acknowledges and represents that all the parties to the SAD finance agreement have consented to this construction management fee", she asked if there was any documentation to show this.
Mr. Fisher said that this consent was signed in a separate writing, signed by all 3 parties.
Member Lorenzo referred to #3 in Amendments, "Section 5.19 of the General Conditions is hereby amended to reflect that neither the Contractor nor Maybury will be responsible for payment of fees or charges for Inspector Days or Inspector Overtime hours." She noted that this would be paid from the SAD, which Mr. Fisher said was correct. She asked how this was typically paid for. Mr. Fisher said this was typically provided by the City, and would come out of how the contract was financed.
Member Lorenzo asked if the City typically pays for the inspection fees. Mr. Fisher clarified that the City administers the inspection fees. Those fees would normally come out of an SAD if the project was financed by SAD.
Member Lorenzo said she was "looking for payment sooner than later." She asked if the inspection fees could be paid as the project went along, as opposed to waiting for an annual payment through an SAD.
Mr. Fisher said the City would sell bonds, so it will get a pool of money, and will repay the bond holders through the annual installments.
Member Lorenzo asked if the City would reimburse itself as the bills come in, as opposed to waiting for the annual payment, which Mr. Fisher said was correct.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-377 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
6. Consideration of settlement for Poota d/b/a Novi Party Store vs. City of Novi ZBA.
Mr. Fisher said that this matter was based upon the offer of the property owner to have one (1) 40-foot illuminated wall sign on the east side of the building. He recommended that Council approve this, conceptually. However, it is in the interest of the City that if Council accepts this conceptually, that it gets more information for a final resolution before approving it, including where on the east side and what it would look like.
CM-03-11-378 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To conceptually approve settlement for Poota d/b/a Novi Party Store vs. City of Novi ZBA in order to obtain more information regarding placement on the east side of the building, and what the sign will look like.
Member Nagy said that after looking at the situation and the site plans for that area, the sign at the present time is in the right-of-way. Mr. Fisher said he did not know if this was correct.
Member Capello agreed with Member Nagy.
Member Nagy said that Oakland County records show this to be in the right-of-way.
Mr. Fisher said he could not comment, because did not know about the situation.
Member Nagy asked if the City should find out if the sign is in the right-of-way before making this decision.
Mr. Fisher said the motion was not dealing with the ground sign.
Member Nagy suggested that Council look into this because there was another incident with another party store in that area. She had examined all of the documentation from this, and remarked that the sign is in the right-of-way. Mr. Fisher said he would look into this.
Member Capello said that when the attorney recommends to settle, it should send a message. He recalled that when the party store was coming to Council through plan approval, they wanted to go where they were. They could have come across the entire front of the property, but chose to go sideways because they could get additional parking. He did not recall that it was represented to Council that there would be 2 tenants in the building. He felt that Poota had created its own hardship.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-378 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION– In order to hear all citizen comments at a reasonable hour, the City Council requests that speakers respect the three-minute time limit for individual comments, and the five-minute time limit for an individual speaking on behalf of a group.
Wayne Hogan, 20923 Woodland Glen Drive, wished to continue speaking about the Market Street parking situation. On the west side of Market Street where the restaurants are located there should be two or three handicap parking spaces. He proposed two 10-minute-only pickup spaces for the restaurants, and the rest regular parking spaces. This would allow full utility of the area, and would bring more commerce to the restaurants. He said that as it sits right now, a person with a disability has to walk 750 feet, whereas a person without a disability has to walk 75 feet. This would give more access to the area, and would also allow restaurants to have quick pickup.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Helwig to take these comments under consideration.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part II
7. Approval of 2004 Schedule of City Council meetings.
CM-03-11-379 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve 2004 Schedule of City Council meetings.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-379 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
8. Consideration of Tuscany Reserve request from Bob Porteous of the Novi Investment Company for approval of the Residential Unit Development (RUD) Agreement. The subject property is located on 77 acres on the north side of Eight Mile Road and east of Garfield Road in the Residential Acreage (RA) District.
CM-03-11-380 Moved by Capello, seconded by Landry; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Tuscany Reserve request from Bob Porteous of the Novi Investment Company for approval of the Residential Unit Development (RUD) Agreement. The subject property is located on 77 acres on the north side of Eight Mile Road and east of Garfield Road in the Residential Acreage (RA) District.
Member Lorenzo noted that under the water supply section of the agreement, a "shall" was removed and a "may" was inserted. She asked if the "may" implied granting permission or asking a question.
Mr. Fisher said that "may" only related to the phases, as the water system may be addressed in two phases.
Member Lorenzo asked if this "may" meant that Council was making the decision that evening to grant permission.
Mr. Fisher said this was granting permission that the water system may be done in phases.
Member Lorenzo asked what the benefit was in doing this. Mr. Fisher said this depended on whether an adequate water supply is available. If this is not available, then wells would be used.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Guidobono if he would be willing to insert the same language into the agreement as Maybury Estates if wells and testing are needed.
Mr. Guidobono said he was not familiar with the language that Maybury Estates added in, and asked for a description of the language.
Member Lorenzo said that if wells are necessary, once soil borings are taken to find the adequacy of the groundwater supply, an arsenic level in the water is obtained. The County cannot, at this point in time, require him after those initial tests to conduct individual tests on individual lots. In other words, the potential homebuyers could conceivably purchase a home, would not know about a high arsenic level in the groundwater, and would be responsible for any mitigation of the water. Mr. Paciocco agreed to individual tests for the individual well sites for the homes. If the number was at or above the County’s level, he would disclose the number to the potential homebuyer, and allow the homebuyer to decide whether or not to move forward with the contract and have him mitigate the arsenic level.
Mr. Guidobono said he would be willing to disclose whatever was found in the water supply. He asked what was meant by mitigation of the water supply.
Member Lorenzo noted that, though she was unsure of the actual process, the water supply can be mitigated to reduce the level of arsenic concentrations.
Mr. Guidobono said he would agree to this, but said there are several improvements that are supposed to happen in 2004 that would render the well issue meaningless.
Member Lorenzo noted that the City does not make any promises that it can’t keep in the agreement.
Mayor Csordas remarked that Council could not require the petitioner to agree to such requirements.
Member Lorenzo said she was not requiring Mr. Guidobono to fulfill the request, but said she was asking him.
Mayor Csordas noted that this was Mr. Guidobono’s choice.
Mr. Guidobono said it would be nice to know the exact language.
Member Lorenzo said she understood, and commented that she would not mind a tentative approval. She would prefer to approve the item with that tentative language.
Mr. Guidobono said that what would be fair would be to approve the motion tentatively, and allow his company to examine the language.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-380 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
9. Approval of request for authorization to solicit bids for hazardous Ash tree removal.
CM-03-11-381 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve request for authorization to solicit bids for hazardous Ash tree removal.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-381 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
10. Approval of resolution to authorize the second quarter budget amendment
CM-03-11-382 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve resolution to authorize the second quarter budget amendment#2004-4.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-382 Yeas: Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COUNCIL ACTION: (Consent Agenda items, which have been removed for discussion and/or action)
E. Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 661
Member Lorenzo said she had questions about two checks: #32668 and #32673, Thompson McCully Company for Pioneer Meadows sanitary, and Tiseo Brothers for 2003 Neighborhood road rehab.
Member Lorenzo asked Ms. McClain how much of the payment was represented by the check for Pioneer Meadows sanitary. She wanted to know if the job had been completed, since at least one resident had voiced concern about some things that were not yet done.
Ms. McClain said she was not sure how much of the payment was represented by the check. The job was not completed. Sanitary tests were conducted that day. She did not receive the results of this test from Oakland County. Provided that those passed, the residents would be able to start hooking up to the sanitary. The water main has passed. The City has some items to clean up before the winter and some restoration items for the spring.
Member Lorenzo suggested postponing the item until at least the following week so that Council could receive additional information. The check was for almost $600,000, and she did not want to give the money over with much work left uncompleted
Member Lorenzo asked how much the check to Tiseo Brothers for $369,162.19 represented for their work.
Ms. McClain said this was approximately 50%, and the project is at least 50% done, not including Westmont Village work. The Tiseo Brothers work is the concrete work, which is Avon Court, Emerald Forest, and others. There is one piece of Emerald Forest that is unpaved and some additional cleanup and restoration work that is continuing. Other roadways have been placed and concreted.
Member Lorenzo inquired if those streets were supposed to have been completed by this time.
Ms. McClain replied that the streets were supposed to have been finished. The City ran into some scheduling issues, and Tiseo changed some of the scheduling around. Emerald Forest has not been completed because if the road cannot be laid down without the surety of being able to pave, she did not want to tear up the road.
Member Lorenzo said that if this check covered 50%, she would be agreeable to it. However, she would not be agreeable to any more until the remainder of the work was completed.
Mr. Pearson said this was a substantial amount of money for the contractor, who has done a lot of work. He requested that Council come back to this item to address the Thompson-McCully item, which administration was trying to gather more information on.
* Item was postponed until later in the meeting
MAYOR AND COUNCIL ISSUES
1. City Council Committee Appointments – Mayor Csordas
Mayor Csordas read through the appointments. There was one member of Council to be appointed to the Southwest Oakland Cable Commission. He had served on this function for several years, and offered to continue serving unless another Council member desired to do so.
With no Council objection, Mayor Csordas said he would continue serving as Council’s appointee to the Southwest Oakland Cable Commission
Mayor Csordas noted that he and Mayor Pro Tem Landry both served on the Capital Improvement Program. Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that he had served on the Committee for 2 years, and also served on it when he was a planning commissioner, and said he would be happy to relinquish the assignment to someone else. Mayor Csordas said he would remain on the Committee. Member Nagy wished to serve on the Committee. Mayor Csordas noted that Mayor Pro Tem Landry currently sat on the Consultant Review Committee. He said he would like to serve on the Committee. Member Gatt said he would also like to serve on the Consultant Review Committee. Member Paul also said she would like to serve on the Consultant Review Committee. Member Capello suggested that Mayor Csordas should serve on the Committee. Mayor Csordas said he would definitely like to be on the Committee.
Mayor Csordas flipped a coin and chose Member Paul to fill the third Council appointment to the Consultant Review Committee. That Committee’s appointments would be filled by Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, and Member Paul.
Mayor Csordas noted that he was required to sit on the Ordinance Review Committee.
Member Capello remarked that he thought Council had previously decided not to have the Ordinance Review Committee, and as ordinances came to Council they would be kept to discussion at the table unless Council specifically wanted to send it to a committee, in which case that committee would be appointed. He suggested that Council be presented with a list of ordinances "in that big black hole", address those, and abolish the Ordinance Review Committee.
Member Lorenzo said that while Member Capello may have raised this issue in a previous meeting with the previous Council, Council had never come to a conclusion about the matter. Council is normally too busy to sit down and draft ordinances, which is why the sub-committee exists. She felt that removing the Ordinance Review Committee would place too much more work with Council.
Member Capello stated that he was well aware of the extra tasks involved, and said that was Council’s purpose. He felt Council should abolish the group. Member Nagy asked how many more committees were left after Ordinance Review. Mayor Csordas said there were 4 more committees to fill. Member Nagy volunteered to sit on the Ordinance Review Board, as she was on the Implementation Committee which was very similar. Member Capello remarked that Council needed to decide what it was going to do with the committee before appointing any people to it. Ms. Cornelius noted that the Ordinance Review Committee was required as part of Council’s rules. Member Capello said that he should move up to be the active member on the committee. Mayor Csordas agreed, and appointed Member Capello to the Ordinance Review Committee. He asked Member Nagy if she would like to be the alternate member, which she agreed to. Member Lorenzo will remain on the Ordinance Review Committee.
Mayor Csordas noted that the Rules Committee required the Mayor and two members as appointees. Member Capello and Member Gatt both volunteered to serve on this committee.
Mayor Csordas said the SEMCOG Committee needed two appointments. Member Capello gave up his alternate position, as he was on two other committees. Member Paul agreed to sit on this committee, and Member Nagy agreed to fill the alternate position.
Mayor Csordas said the Storm Water Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee needed one appointment from Council. Member Nagy asked how often this committee met. Ms. McClain said she believed the committee met on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. Member Nagy volunteered for this committee.
2. Council Organization Rules and Order of Business – Mayor Csordas
Ms. Cornelius noted that Mayor Csordas and Members Capello and Gatt were to review the Council Organization Rules and Order of Business.
Mayor Csordas said that they would work this out and set the review for another day.
3. Cheltenham – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said that Mr. Nanda had raised a very relevant issue: whether streets are public or private, whether the City must accept streets at any point in time, and whether Council took the appropriate measure the previous week in approving the subdivision.
Mr. Fisher commented that Mr. Helwig had given him notice that the item would arise at the meeting. Cheltenham was approved as a subdivision with public streets. Based upon the approval made, it is contemplated to have public streets, and for this reason staff went through the process with the anticipation that the streets would be available for connections for Wilshire Abbey. At this point in time, the streets are not public and have not been dedicated. The City’s review has indicated that they have not been dedicated de facto, either: in other words, they are not on the Act 51 list for road funding, and the City is not maintaining them. Those roads are truly private at this point in time, and therefore the developer of Wilshire would need permission to access them.
Member Lorenzo asked what Council’s role now was in the matter. She asked if this needed to be reconsidered at the next meeting.
Mr. Fisher said Council would need to make a motion to reconsider it at the present meeting. However, Council could place the item on the next agenda with the understanding that the City needs to get all parties together to work out the problems.
CM-03-11-383 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To place on the December 16th, 2003 Council meeting agenda Reconsideration of the Final Plat Approval for Wilshire Abbey to allow access to the streets of Cheltenham.
Mr. Fisher asked if this was for the December 1st or December 16th agenda. He commented that it would be nice to have some time to meet with the parties to try and work something out.
Member Capello asked Mr. Fisher to provide an opinion at that meeting on whether or not the streets are still private if the City has not accepted them but has taken control of their services.
Mr. Fisher said the City has not done this with Cheltenham, and they are not on the City’s Act 51 list, so they are still private.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-11-383 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
4. Ice Arena Report – Member Capello
Member Capello asked for the status of the Ice Arena Report. He said he had asked for the status of the document 4 or 5 times previously.
Mr. Helwig said that he had just signed off on a very short report on residential/non-residential rates that would be coming to Member Capello that Wednesday. He asked Member Capello if there were other items that he was looking for in the report.
Member Capello said he also had a concern that the City was sending its youth hockey league to skate at Suburban Ice Arena, which was charging more than the Novi Ice Arena would charge. He also wanted an update on the senior league that the Arena had tried to start this year.
Mr. Helwig said administration would have that report Wednesday for Member Capello.
5. Retiree Co-pay Benefit Amount – Member Gatt
Member Gatt said there were 7 City retirees who had retired under a benefit for their medical plan whereby the City agreed to pay the first $3500 of their plan. This was better than the other employees had at that time. The plan was intended to help those employees, because they were not covered under the union umbrella. However, the City paid an 80/20 split for other employees where the City paid 80% of their benefits. Health care costs have skyrocketed, and now the $3500 that the City pays is far below the amount that the City pays for the 80/20 split that the other employees enjoy. He wanted to see the City bring those 7 former employees’ benefits brought back into line with other retirees.
Mayor Csordas asked Member Gatt if he wished to see this on a future agenda with some actuarial reports, which Member Gatt said was correct.
CM-03-11-384 Moved by Gatt, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To place the Retiree Co-pay Benefit Amount on a future Council agenda in December, 2003.
Mayor Csordas noted that he had seen a list of the 7 employees, and this showed what appeared to be the annual premium that they pay. He questioned the premiums paid by some retired couples: one paid $13,000 annually and one $10,000 annually. He said that something was wrong if a couple using City benefits as secondary coverage to Medicare should not be paying a $13,000 annual premium. He said he would also like an answer to this problem on the future agenda as well.
Mr. Helwig said he would like Council to have material for examination and review before putting the item on an agenda.
Member Gatt said this was alright, and asked just that the item be placed on an agenda in the near future.
Mr. Helwig said the matter would be before Council in December, probably on December 16th.
Voice Vote on CM-03-11-384 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
6. Post Bar – Member Paul
Member Paul said that after a very late dinner at Mesquite Creek, she and her company witnessed some "Post Bar activity." She said that when she was watching the Post Bar, there was a long line of people trying to get into the bar and a significant amount of activity in the street. Some people don’t pay attention to pedestrian crossings. She had seen many police officers traveling that area. She recalled that the Post Bar had been discussed at the prior Council meeting. She questioned whether every police item is identified. One police officer was escorting a person to get onto the sidewalk because people were driving down the street and not always paying attention to pedestrians. She asked Chief Shaeffer if some calls for police were not always being recorded as police calls, but were still preventing problems in the area.
Chief Shaeffer said this was certainly possible, as officers have a great deal of discretion. Depending on the incident, something might not warrant any documentation in minor events.
Member Paul said several people had been asked to leave the premises for their activities, and she did not believe any of these incidents had been recorded. She suggested that the previously mentioned number of 88 calls for the Post Bar might actually be a greater number. She asked how many violations were reported by the Police Department during the past weekend.
Chief Shaeffer said there were no calls directly to the Post Bar that weekend. In the surrounding areas, the police had taken one assault and battery report, one larceny from a vehicle report, and several violations were issued to people "who could not seem to find restrooms."
Member Paul said she appreciated the Chief’s comments. The Post Bar is consuming many of the City’s police resources, and she had a deal of concern about those incidents, many of which are not being recorded.
Member Lorenzo asked Chief Shaeffer if there were any incidents at the Post Bar for the special event for The Bachelor.
Chief Shaeffer replied that there were no incidents. The Post Bar was very busy that Wednesday, comparable to a weekend evening, but this was mainly in the earlier hours on Wednesday night.
Member Lorenzo thanked Chief Shaeffer, and said Council was still expecting an evaluation from the City Attorney in upcoming weeks on the facility.
7. Letter from Rob Casalou – Member Capello
Mayor Csordas said there was a letter in Council’s packets that was moved to this part of the agenda because it needed action. The letter from Rob Casalou requested that City Council refer a matter to the Planning Commission Implementation Committee, to study an amendment to the OST zoning district text amendment to accommodate the height requirement for the planned hospital project. The letter simply asked that Council refer the matter to the Planning Commission Implementation Committee.
CM-03-11-385 Moved by Capello, seconded Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To refer the letter from Rob Casalou on the OST zoning district text amendment to the Planning Commission Implementation Committee.
Voice Vote on CM-03-11-385 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
* Discussion of Consent Agenda Item E was continued
Ms. McClain said the payment was for approximately 60% of the contract, of which 80% is complete. There was a prior payment of approximately 10%, and the City has 10% retained. With the 10% retainer, the City has approximately 30% of that left to be paid out, which is approximately $300,000.
CM-03-11-386 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Consent Agenda Item E, Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 661.
Voice Vote on CM-03-11-386 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – In order to hear all citizen comments at a reasonable hour, the City Council requests that speakers respect the three-minute time limit for individual comments, and the five-minute time limit for an individual speaking on behalf of a group.
Ken Nanda, 21130 Chubb Road, Northville, thanked Council for the motion to reconsider the Wilshire Abbey final plat approval on the December 16th agenda. He asked if it would be appropriate for Council to send a communication to the Wilshire Abbey developer that he should not act upon the final plat approval. He said that sometimes a motion to reconsider is defeated because the developer had relied upon the plat approval and acted upon it.
Mr. Helwig said this sounded appropriate, but he was not certain the City had the standing to do this.
Mr. Fisher noted that the final plat for Wilshire Abbey had not yet been signed, and he felt that the developer should be given notice that approval was on the agenda for reconsideration, and this would be sufficient.
Mayor Csordas agreed that this was the right thing to do.
Wayne Hogan, 20923 Woodland Glen Drive, displayed a photo of the men’s restroom on the first floor of the Civic Center, and asked that the restroom be fixed so that the door can be closed upon entering the stall. He asked that the stall be elongated so that a wheelchair can enter the stall and the door can be closed. Mr. Hogan also asked that a baby changing table be added inside that stall.
Mr. Helwig said he would examine the scenario presented by Mr. Hogan.
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 12:53 a.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: December 16, 2003