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REGULAR MEETING OF
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo – absent/excused, Nagy – absent/excused, Paul – absent/excused
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Mayor Csordas noted that due to the number of people interviewing and Council’s desire to have applicants heard and viewed at a reasonable time, the interviewees from 10:30 and later would be contacted and scheduled for another meeting.
CM-03-12-398 Moved by Landry, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended
Voice Vote on CM-03-12-398 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Karl Wizinsky, 26850 Wixom Road, said that 4 years ago this month, Council denied a zoning request that resulted in a consent judgment approving a truck drive 50 feet from his property. The consent judgment also approved the berm that inadequately screened his home from the loading dock of Target. He is very disappointed in the energy and time it has taken to resolve the many issues his family has encountered living next to Target. He acknowledged progress in the following concerns: the concrete wall has been bricked; additional trees have been planted; cleanup of the wetland has been started; and a substantial portion of the silt fence and orange fencing has been removed from his property line. Outstanding issues indicated in his unanswered letters of July 16, August 22, October 6, and November 10, are: overnight trucks; loading dock facing his home; adequate screening for his home from the Novi Promenade; Target’s permanent certificate of occupancy; the removal of the remaining silt screen, orange fence, and final grading along property line; confirmation that the approved screening is complete; and a determination that Novi’s ordinance allows for the burial of construction debris. He asked that the City respond in writing by the end of the year to the overdue outstanding issues described in his letters.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Helwig to follow up on the request by Mr. Wizinsky to respond to his letters.
Mr. Helwig said he had assured Mr. Wizinsky that the City would get the property owner to remove the remaining orange fence and silt fencing. The restoration of the wetland started the previous week and has proceeded well, and is currently half or even two-thirds done now. He said he had mentioned to Mr. Wizinsky on more than one occasion that the City would not be responding in writing to those letters because of the lawsuit that was filed on the matter.
CYNTHIA GRONACHAN – Zoning Board of Appeals
Ms. Gronachan introduced herself, noting that she is currently the Chair on the ZBA. She felt that 3 years ago when she put her name forward, she did so with the idea of giving back to the community, and the job has definitely fulfilled that commitment. She described the experience as rewarding, educating, and challenging. She noted that her vocabulary has increased a great deal and now includes "consent judgment," "rear yard setback," "side yard setback," "health, safety and welfare," and "you want your sign to be how big?" The City currently has a great Board, and she noted that they have had some challenges over the past 3 years. She commented that the ZBA has lost members to the City Council. As a result of this, the ZBA is working with just 5 members, not a full Board, which she said was very difficult. Ms. Gronachan said she is committed to the Board, has a definite interest in the Board, and wished to seek re-appointment.
Member Gatt asked Ms. Gronachan what is the single most important issue facing the ZBA, and why she felt it was so important.
Ms. Gronachan replied that a very important issue with the ZBA was training. Because of budget cuts, the ZBA cannot offer the proper amount of training to its members. As a result, the Board has become very creative in creating training sessions. This July, after being appointed Chair in March, she – working with the Building Department and the City Attorney - organized a motion-making session for Board members. Even though they have many years’ experience, there is constant change on the Board, and there was a case that came back indicating that the Board’s motions were not clear and concise. After doing some research, she found that there are some changes in the Circuit Court, and it is important that the ZBA know about those changes. She organized that session, which took place in October, and this proved to be very helpful to the Board members.
Member Capello asked if there was anything that Council could do to make things easier for the ZBA.
Ms. Gronachan said that in her 3 years of service, the ZBA has never met with the Council. She said she would like the opportunity to meet with Council and be able to work together. The ZBA has a great continuity and works well together, and would like to communicate about ideas with Council. She knew that this had taken place in the past and felt it should continue.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Ms. Gronachan if there was any particular aspect of the City’s ordinances that she believed should be examined.
Ms. Gronachan responded that the sign ordinances, though she supported them, should be looked at. Forty square feet "just doesn’t cut it," and while it is great that the petitioners come forward, they come forward with 8 or 9 variances. She felt that the sign ordinances were the most important item to reexamine at this point.
Mayor Csordas noted that he had just become aware that the City of Novi does not even have a one-day permit for a special events sign, which he found astounding. He asked Ms. Gronachan what her opinion would be of a one-day waiver or granting of a special events sign. For example, there was a Toys for Tots event the previous day that the City did not allow a sign for to point an arrow to the event.
Ms. Gronachan said that as long as this did not jeopardize the City, cost any more money, or tie up any more employees, she would support the one-day event signs. The ZBA would definitely consider these types of criteria in considering such an item.
RICHARD VAHLBUSCH – Housing & Community Development
Mr. Vahlbusch, 24680 Willowbrook, noted that he had been a Novi resident for about 8 years. He recently retired in April of 2002 from General Motors after almost 45 years, the majority of which was at the former Cadillac Assembly Plant on Michigan Avenue and Clark Street in Detroit, and the remainder at the GM Tech Center in Warren. Most of that time in both locations, he was in the facility’s management department, doing all sorts of various jobs and assignments. He was appointed to the HCD Committee one year ago for a one-year term to serve out someone else’s term, and he sought reappointment to the HCD for a three-year term.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that this was one of his favorite boards in the City, as he felt the HCD has done wonderful work. He asked what Council could do to help the Housing & Community Development Committee.
Mr. Vahlbusch replied that he knew the Mayor had been requested to sign certain letters that are published to inform the community of the minor home repair programs. Many people do not know that this money is available, and help in communicating this information is very helpful.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Vahlbusch to please let the City Council know what it can do to help.
Member Gatt asked what was the most important issue facing the HCD.
Mr. Vahlbusch noted that he had only served on the HCD for one year so far, but said he had found that allocating funds given to the Committee by Oakland County and the federal government was the most critical issue that the Committee had faced while he had been there.
Mayor Csordas agreed that advertising and marketing of those available funds is very critical. He understood that the City had done a great job, with the Committee’s help, of allocating that money.
ERNEST ARUFFO – Board of Review
Mr. Aruffo said he would like to continue serving on the Board of Review, as this has been a rewarding experience. He felt a Board of Review member should do their work with the least possible intrusion of their own personality, and should be impartial with the candidates who come forward. The Board members must be flexible, making themselves familiar with the applicable statutes and laws of the State, County, and the City. The Board members should be insightful for all petitioners, and particularly sympathetic to the petitions of the elderly and the impoverished while being mindful of the meticulous accuracies of the local assessor. It has been a pleasure to work with the Assessor’s, the staff, and the fellow Board members. He said it had been an experience of learning, understanding, and gaining knowledge of the total assessing process. Therefore he earnestly sought Council’s approval for another term on the Board of Review.
Member Gatt remarked that Mr. Aruffo is one of the stalwarts of the Novi community, and said he supported his endeavors in every instance.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that a question often raised to Council is whether citizens will be able to afford the Novi that the City is becoming. He asked Mr. Aruffo if he felt a Novi was being created that is affordable for citizens.
Mr. Aruffo replied that most people who live in the City do not work here. Those who work here do not live here for economic reasons. Housing is too expensive for those who work here, so those who work here must live elsewhere. He said that many new homes in the area are purchased without mortgages, often because purchasers receive large inheritances and can purchase the homes with cash. He said that the general interest of the impoverished and the poor that come before the Board of Review is in reducing taxes. Those residents do not ask the Board to move them out of their houses, but gratefully receive any help at all. The group that intrigues him is the new person coming into the City, as they often do not understand the Headlee Act. He commented that people need to vote to help determine what their tax bills will be, and noted that Novi has the fifth-lowest tax rate in Oakland County.
Mayor Csordas remarked that Mr. Aruffo’s answer was very enlightening. He had the opportunity to see the Board of Review at work, and said they are very professional and represent the City well. He asked how frequently the Board meets. Mr. Aruffo said the Board meets for the brief review once per year, but also has 3 additional meetings to review their reviews.
Mayor Csordas said the City appreciated Mr. Aruffo’s efforts for all the years.
FRANK BRENNAN – Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Brennan stated that he supported Cindy Gronachan’s reappointment to the ZBA. He has been serving on the ZBA for 9 years, has acted as Chairman twice, loves the job, and would like to be reappointed.
Member Capello asked how many members the ZBA needs right now.
Mr. Brennan replied that the ZBA needs an additional 2 members. They need a full-time member and an alternate.
Member Capello asked how many members were up for reappointment, which Mr. Brennan said was just he and Ms. Gronachan.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Brennan what statutes Council needs to examine, if any.
Mr. Brennan replied that at least a third to one half of the ZBA’s agenda relates to signs. He felt that there should have been discussions with developers, such as those for Main Street and Fountain Walk, about special arrangements for those special developments. He said that about 8 out of 10 businesses on Main Street were looking for additional or larger signage. He suggested that when looking at larger developments there should be a way of negotiating their needs. The sign ordinance had its place when initiated about 15 years ago, as the intent was to avoid an "Orchard Lake" in Novi, which has been done. However, the City may have gone too far, as the ZBA hears many sign cases.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Brennan how Council could help the ZBA.
Mr. Brennan responded that Council could help by having counsel at the ZBA meetings. Five years ago, there were 3 attorneys on the ZBA, but there are none today. It is absolutely critical that the ZBA have legal representation, because if a petitioner is not pleased with the ZBA results, they take the issue straight to Circuit Court. If the ZBA has erred without good guidance, then they have not done their job right. Having an attorney on the ZBA provides protection.
Mayor Csordas said it would be a very good investment for the City to pay for such legal advice for the ZBA, as this would be repaid by avoiding legal action. He said this was a great idea, and Council would definitely consider it. The ZBA is a tough Board to sit on, but they do a great job.
MARK PEHRSON – Planning Commission
Mr. Pehrson said he has been a resident of Novi for 17 years. His family moved to Novi in the hopes that one day their children would grow up in the City, and he has experienced this full-hand now with two lovely daughters going through the City’s school system. He plans to be here through the duration of their education, as his daughters are now in 2nd grade and 6th grade. His idea of looking at the Planning Commission is to take what he has learned in business and apply this. There are four keys that he brings to any kind of job. He listens, and feels that an opinion should not be given until someone has been given enough time to formulate something that’s worth speaking about. He deals with facts, not emotions. He said that on past Commissions, he had seen people become too involved in the emotional side of issues. In his dealings not everyone will be happy, but consensus can be built by respecting each other’s ideas and opinions. He communicates his ideas and thoughts, since much of what any board or commission does is get a point across, or give a petitioner a reason for agreement or disagreement.
Member Capello noted that the City’s ordinances are very specific and complicated. There are a number of pieces of property in Novi that might not fit specifically into an ordinance, and the City has the ability at the Planning Commission level, the ZBA, and the City Council to grant variances and waivers. He asked Mr. Pehrson what his position was on granting variances and waivers.
Mr. Pehrson said that many parcels left within the City present a specific challenge for anyone on any of the bodies mentioned by Member Capello. He would adhere to those zoning statutes, such that they fit to the master plan. There will be some give and take, but he would feel very strongly about adhering to the zoning ordinance.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Pehrson what he saw as the most important planning issues in Novi as the City approaches build-out.
Mr. Pehrson replied that one thing he would like to see occur on a more regular basis is have the City Council and Planning Commission create a vision or plan for where they want the City to be. There is a great change that will occur in the City, but the pace of this change needs determining. He would look forward to having these types of discussions, such that there needs to be a balance between the residential income tax base and that of the businesses. Finding that common vision is a great goal between the Planning Commission and the City Council. The Gateway Ordinance is a great start at establishing an ordinance that sets across a specific set of guidelines to help people understand what the City is trying to do toward build-out. This will be even more necessary as the City approaches build-out.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Pehrson what is the single most important issue facing the Planning Commission at this time.
Mr. Pehrson replied that the City has reached a point in time where many of the parcels are now going to apply much more diligence and thinking about how they can best be used. It is not clear-cut anymore, and the people making those decisions will need to express in clear and concise manners what, why and how they want to do with those parcels.
Mayor Csordas said he appreciated Mr. Pehrson’s earlier comment regarding coming to the Planning Commission with an attitude of fact, not emotion. He agreed that there had been some past decisions by the Planning Commission based upon emotion, which was not appropriate. He recalled that when he was appointed to the Planning Commission, there was a fairly significant training program where commissioners had the opportunity to sit down with many of the department heads in the City. One person told him that there will be times when something will come to you that you may not like, but if that project meets all of the ordinances and is approved by the City’s consultants, you have no choice but to follow that direction. He has seen the Planning Commission move away from this direction recently, and would like to see people with that attitude there.
JOHN CHAMBERS – Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Chambers noted that he had served on the Library Board and had also served on the City Council. As a former business property owner, the property that he and his wife purchased was a former consent judgment property that was negotiated in the early 1980’s because of disagreement. That property is across from Holy Family Church. He said he had a good feel for the business community, as well as the citizens, since he has been here for 33 years. He agreed with Mr. Brennan that half of the ZBA’s agenda is about signs. 20 years ago, the sign ordinance was reevaluated and changed. This is a living document, and the City should review this and change and update them as needed. A considerable amount of effort is spent doing this work. At the last ZBA meeting, Mr. Brennan had asked the people from ABC Warehouse why they needed a sign on the back of their building where there is a loading dock. This is where people will drive in to have car stereos installed. There is a practical application that one has to look at. An ordinance does need to be reviewed, and he suggested that the City constantly look at these. He wants to help the ZBA and look at some variances and data. He approaches things as a CPA on an objective basis, looking at things on an analytical realm, not upon emotions.
Member Capello asked Mr. Chambers if he saw anything at the ZBA level that he would like to change if appointed to the Board.
Mr. Chambers replied that there was no such thing at the ZBA level. He felt that the sign ordinance should be reviewed. The sign ordinance was originally brought to the Ordinance Review Committee long ago, and research was done by the Michigan Municipal League and the Twelve Oaks Mall sign ordinance was compared to as well. The sign ordinance was an accumulation of a lot of data from what other communities were doing. He felt the City needed to examine this, as he noted that the Board Chair had recently heard 9 requests for variations by one vendor on a sign.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Chambers what the most important quality or characteristic of a ZBA member is.
Mr. Chambers responded that the most admirable characteristic, whether on the ZBA or any other part of the City, is to look at things and evaluate them fairly and honestly, and to be forthright in that evaluation. There is a level of integrity that exists, and a person needs to look at things as they see them and evaluate them. Part of this is looking at ordinances, what is permitted, and exceptions that can or cannot be granted. One must keep in mind that what they do today, while great now, may not be the same 15 or 20 years later.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Chambers what his stance would be on giving a variance to a business in the downtown area or Main Street area versus a business elsewhere. He asked if he would look more favorably upon this because of their locale, or if this would enter into his decision-making process.
Mr. Chambers replied that location enters into any variance that is requested. How the request would fit into that region and area is important. If something is stand alone, it’s a different issue. ABC Warehouse wanted a sign on the back of their building, and this is in the confines of West Oaks. It was important to ask whether someone could find that business if they came from the other side of the building, rather than just the front of the store. There are many different variables. He would actually go out and look at the area to see what was there before making a final decision, in order to have a better appreciation for a presentation.
Mayor Csordas noted that he sat on the Town Center Steering Committee a few years ago, and there were a large number of issues with the sign ordinance there. He did not get to see the ABC Warehouse issue, but felt he had a good understanding of it from talking with a few people. He asked what the ZBA decided to do about the ABC Warehouse request.
Mr. Chambers said the ZBA decided to approve the request by ABC, which he agreed with because he had taken a look at the site and felt it was in good fashion.
Mayor Csordas asked if flexibility is a good character trait for the ZBA.
Mr. Chambers said that to a certain level, flexibility is a good trait for serving on the ZBA. Like everything else, one must monitor what they are doing and how they are doing it. Be it signs or setbacks or other requests, one must see how this will work and what it will truly look like.
Mayor Csordas noted that Council had asked for the interviewees scheduled from 10:30 onward to be contacted, but Dr. Sanghvi was already in attendance. He asked Council if it desired to hear Dr. Sanghvi that evening. Member Capello suggested moving Dr. Sanghvi to the 8:30 interview slot. Member Gatt agreed with Member Capello, as did Mayor Pro Tem Landry.
MAV SANGHVI – Zoning Board of Appeals
Dr. Sanghvi thanked Mayor Csordas and the Council for fitting him in that evening. He noted that he has been a resident of Novi for over 28 years, served on the ZBA for four years before serving on the City Council, and wished to serve on the ZBA again. He said the ZBA was in place to protect the City’s rules, regulations and ordinances, but not to make them. The ZBA tries to help people however it can within the parameters of the ordinances. He hoped that the workload issues confronting the ZBA could be solved and make it easier for businesses and other members of the community to do business or live in the City. He said his job on ZBA is to interpret, but not make, new ordinances.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Dr. Sanghvi what the toughest thing is about being a ZBA member.
Dr. Sanghvi replied that the toughest thing is being torn between the needs of a particular applicant and sticking to the interpretation of the ordinances. Sometimes, the ZBA must go with what the ordinance says because it is the law. People sometimes don’t realize that it is not the ZBA’s job to change the way ordinances are written.
Member Gatt said that Dr. Sanghvi’s giving to the community is well known and well established, and said he supported his endeavor.
Member Capello said that years ago when he applied for the Planning Commission, then-Mayor Quinn asked him if he would be willing to sit on the ZBA, and he told the Mayor only if he absolutely had to. He commended Dr. Sanghvi for coming back to sit on the ZBA again, since it is the toughest job to do in the City with the toughest decisions to make.
Mayor Csordas agreed with Member Capello that the ZBA is the most difficult board to be on, and said he appreciated anyone who serves a term and would like to come back.
MARJORIE NANIAN – Zoning Board of Appeals
Ms. Nanian said she hoped her background would satisfy Ms. Gronachan’s and Mr. Brennan’s concerns. She was applying because she enjoys zoning law. In law school, she wrote a brief and argued in front of a Circuit Court judge regarding a variance. The judge was so impressed with her arguments that he stated she did a better job than the real life attorneys. In her practice as an attorney she has handled Zoning Board of Appeals cases to the Circuit Court. She is very concerned with following the law, following facts, and making good decisions. She has also served as a hearing officer for the Attorney Grievance Council for the past 12 years. In that capacity she had to read briefs regarding attorney misconduct, listen to testimony, review the evidence, and render a decision consistent with the facts and apply sanctions. Presently she teaches part-time at Schoolcraft College. She believes her biggest advantage in serving on the ZBA would be her minimal training requirement, and her background as an attorney would fulfill the need mentioned by Mr. Brennan.
Member Gatt asked Ms. Nanian what she felt was the most important issue facing the ZBA and why.
Ms. Nanian said that because she had never served on the ZBA, she could not directly answer the question. She had heard the previous Board members say there is a great need for reviewing the sign ordinances, and she heard the Mayor say there is a need for a one-day special event permit.
Member Gatt said these were two issues that the ZBA would not be involved in. He asked what the most important issue facing the ZBA was.
Ms. Nanian said she would have to be able to survey past panel members to be able to answer the question.
Member Capello asked if there were any other boards or commissions that Ms. Nanian might be interested in serving in. He was impressed with her resume and her presentation, but saw that she had lived in the City for one year, and noted that there were several other applicants who had lived in the City longer.
Ms. Nanian responded that she would consider other positions, and said she was open to suggestions for what those might be.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked what is the role of the Zoning Board of Appeals in Novi, or any other city.
Ms. Nanian replied that as she understood, applicants that are dissatisfied with the initial decision out of the Zoning Board have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Her belief as an attorney is that the matter should not go to Circuit Court. Her intent would be to develop a win-win situation in resolving the issue in compliance with the law and facts.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if it was more important to strictly apply the City’s ordinance, or to take into consideration the professed hardship of the applicant, when rendering decisions as a member of the ZBA.
Ms. Nanian said that when one analyzes a statute, they must look at its precise terminology, the spirit of the law, and what would provide a good solution to the resident or business owner. Sometimes things need to be reinterpreted, sometimes the law should be applied strictly, and sometimes there are areas that need to be revised or changed to meet today’s needs.
Mayor Csordas commented that Ms. Nanian’s resume was very impressive, and said he had no questions.
LINDA KRIEGER – Planning Commission, Stormwater Mgmt.
Ms. Krieger, 44920 Byrne Drive, noted that she had Northville schools, a Northville mailing address, but Novi property. She has resided in Novi since 1981, and before that in Livonia. She is a first-generation American. Her parents were both from Argentina. She said that Novi is special, as it is in a state surrounded by the largest freshwater lakes in the world. She graduated and received her diploma from Northville High School in 1986, and said Northville is a lovely city to have as a southerly neighbor. She received her B.S. in nursing in 1990 from Madonna University, and has been a registered nurse ever since. She graduated with a master’s in administration with a minor in business in 1997 from Madonna. She has worked at Providence in Southfield since 1991, and in the Intensive Care Unit since April of 1994. She has been a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses since 1995. In 1994 she took a Dale Carnegie course, she is bilingual in Spanish, and enjoys working on her personal computer. Her community civic participation began in 1996, when she served on the Novi Beautification Commission, and she served in 1998 on the Novi Historical Commission. Currently she serves on the Novi Library Board of Trustees and is a Friend of the Novi Public Library. Because she has lived in Novi for so long, she would like to participate on the Novi Planning Commission to continue serving the community. She loves Novi because it is her home and her father is buried here. Novi still has some growing to do, and she would serve in a prudent, honest, and fiscally responsible manner. The Planning Commission’s function and duty is to prepare the master plan for land use and to advise the City Council as to the proper development of the City of Novi. She would like to participate in the care of the master plan and its 5-year update.
Mayor Csordas commented that it was very impressive to see Ms. Krieger and the rest of the people that had interviewed that evening. It is wonderful to know that there are so many highly-qualified people in the City coming forward to be involved with the boards and commissions.
Member Capello asked Ms. Krieger what she felt she could contribute to the Stormwater Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee.
Ms. Krieger said there is a stream that runs through her backyard, and she had seen the effects of development on the water.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry thanked Ms. Krieger for her past efforts on behalf of the City and her continued willingness to serve. He noted that her application listed both Planning Commission and the Storm Water Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee. He asked what the proper role of this committee was as the community builds out.
Ms. Krieger replied that this was to keep the mosquito population down.
CHARLES ANWAY - Planning Commission
Mr. Anway noted that he has been a Novi resident since 1998. He has lived in two different homes, both which he built. He is a graduate of Wayne State University and has been in the mortgage and banking industry for about 20 years. Much of his experience from the mortgage and new construction industry would help towards his experience in the Planning Commission. Working with individuals and their building dreams over the past 20 years has given him a flavor of what people are looking for and hope to see in a city and what their concerns are. There are hundreds of opinions about how the City should feel and come together. He is also a member of the Builders’ Association of Michigan and has been involved in Novi youth athletics.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that Mr. Anway has been a Novi soccer coach since 1996. He asked what aged kids he coached.
Mr. Anway said he has coached from 5-year-olds all the way up to the under-14 league.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Anway what he felt the most important issues facing the Novi Planning Commission are as the City approaches build-out.
Mr. Anway replied that one of the biggest issues will be how the residential and commercial sectors fit together. As the residential community continues to expand further and further out, there will be need for additional services. So far the City has done a great job of keeping much of the commercial services along the Grand River corridor from Novi Road to Beck Road. The biggest job for the Planning Commission will be meshing these together.
Member Gatt said that Mr. Anway had answered his question.
Member Capello noted that Council had 8 applicants for the Planning Commission but only had 3 positions available, but there are 3 more people up for reappointment in June. He asked Mr. Anway if he would still be interested in the position in June if he were not appointed now, and Mr. Anway said he would be. Member Capello said he had noticed a letter from a resident asking Council not to widen Beck Road or Ten Mile because this would only help people commuting from areas outside of the City. He asked Mr. Anway if he felt there would be a need in the near future to widen Beck Road.
Mr. Anway replied that he felt there would be a need to widen Beck Road and Novi Road.
VICTOR CASSIS – Planning Commission
Mr. Cassis said he has been a resident of the Novi community for 13 years. He has been around the general area for about 28 years. He has been a businessman in the community, has served on the Planning Commission, and has served on City Council. He wished to use is knowledge, energy and experience on the Planning Commission.
Member Gatt said he appreciated everything that Mr. Cassis and his wife, Senator Cassis, have done for the community. He said he supported him in any and every endeavor he attempted in the future.
Member Capello asked Mr. Cassis how long he had continuously lived in Novi, which Mr. Cassis replied was for 13 years. Member Capello asked how long he had done business in Novi, which Mr. Cassis replied was for 28 years.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Cassis what he felt would be the biggest challenge for the Planning Commission during the next 3 years.
Mr. Cassis said the biggest challenge for the Commission would be to see less of Mr. Carson. The situation has been arising lately where the Commission has not addressed itself to the letter of the law and zoning ordinances. Now, developers are starting to bring high-powered attorneys so they can get what they want. He believes that if the Planning Commission can do the correct job that will be of benefit to the City, and also a prudent job where the ordinances can be applied as they are written, many such attorneys may stop appearing before them.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Cassis what his personal philosophy was about Planning Commission decisions relating to fact and flexibility versus emotion.
Mr. Cassis said he has been a businessman and has had the experience of dealing with people and the hard facts of business life, as well as what it is like to develop in the City. The idea is to develop the City in a way that is prudent, constructive, and good for the entire City community. He is not only a resident but also a businessman in the City. Anybody that participates in the life of the community should have the same ability to come before the Planning Commission and be judged in a rational and correct way, as opposed to using emotional appeals and judgments. Planning Commissioners have to use their rationale and judgment.
RICHARD GAUL – Planning Commission
Richard Gaul, 39479 Burton Drive, said he has a B.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He has worked for many years in corporate finance for a number of employees, including Ford, Tower Automotive, and DTE Energy. His interest in serving on the Planning Commission comes from having a great interest in the City and its future. It is tremendously important to emphasize planning and development. He felt he had shown an ability to analyze data and make conclusions. His approach in serving on the Commission would be a fair, balanced, and common sense approach. In the past, the impression that many have had with Novi is that it’s difficult to business in. He would like to participate in the planning and development process and take it in a direction that the residents in Novi deserve.
Member Capello asked Mr. Gaul what he felt about widening roads because of additional traffic coming in from outside of the City.
Mr. Gaul said that infrastructure is clearly very important to the City. Each case should be evaluated on its own merits. In many ways, Novi has grown faster than what the infrastructure can support. Therefore, he would evaluate the facts and deliver a decision on that. Everyone is frustrated with the state of traffic in many areas of the City, and the Beck Road area seems to be a focal point of this and something that is worth evaluating and looking at.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Gaul what he felt were the major issues facing the Planning Commission.
Mr. Gaul felt that a very important thing to focus on is the development of business within the community. This means being able to attract quality businesses and being able to diversify the City’s tax base. It is very important to not put that burden on the residents, and seek out businesses that are low-impact but pay a lot of taxes.
Member Gatt asked if the master plan should be followed rigidly.
Mr. Gaul replied that the City should not get caught up in being rigid. Every situation usually has many different aspects to consider, so flexibility is very important. When the master plan is being constructed, one cannot anticipate every situation that will be encountered. He would not use the language "follow rigidly." The master plan should be used as a blueprint, but everything must be evaluated in making decisions. Flexibility is very important and should always be taken under consideration.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Gaul what his personal philosophy was on basing Planning Commission decisions on fact as opposed to emotion.
Mr. Gaul said it is important to be careful of getting caught up in emotion. His approach in business is to look at facts, analyze data, and draw conclusions. It is difficult at times not to become emotional with issues, and many people are emotional. One must consider many things when making a decision, but his personal approach is rooted in facts and analysis.
MICHAEL MEYER – Housing & Community Development, Planning Comm.
Mr. Meyer noted that he served 12 years on the School Board, 4 years on the Zoning Board, and 4 years on the Homeowner’s Association as a treasurer. He loves the City and would like to serve in some way, either on the Housing & Community Development Board or the Planning Commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Meyer which board/commission he would prefer to sit on. Mr. Meyer said he did not have a real preference.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that Council was very familiar with Mr. Meyer’s commendable efforts for the City. He asked Mr. Meyer what he felt was the most important job for the Housing and Community Development Committee.
Mr. Meyer replied that this is an awareness of what is going on in the community, and providing insight to those who will use it for the good of the citizens of the community. The key is to be aware and offer wise advice.
Member Gatt agreed that Council was fully aware of Mr. Meyer’s service to the community and his love of Novi. He said Mr. Meyer would do a fine job on whatever commission or board he was appointed to.
Mr. Meyer said that he was at peace with whatever Council’s decision was regarding his appointment.
Member Capello asked Mr. Meyer if there was any other commission or board that he had an interest in serving on.
Mr. Meyer noted that he teaches at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, and believed the City should encourage the citizens of the community to take good care of their property in such a way that there is no image of people not feeling welcome to the community. He said he would consider serving on the Beautification Committee.
Mayor Csordas said that Mr. Meyer’s persistence is incredible, his dedication to the City is of the utmost honor, and the City truly appreciates this.
Mr. Meyer said his initial motivation was out of love for his father, who always wanted to serve on the City Council. In recent years, it has been his own personal desire to give back to the community. He has taught philosophy at the college level for 10 years, and noted that Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all said that when a person gets to be his age, they should be giving back to their community.
JUSTIN FISCHER - Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Fischer said he has lived in Novi for all of his life since he was brought home from the hospital 20 years ago. He has lived in the same house, and went through Novi Schools. He is currently a student at Michigan State University pursing a B.A. degree in Finance. He has worked for Lear Corporation, Daimler-Chrysler Division, as well as the office of State Senator Nancy Cassis. He felt that the ZBA is very interesting, and knows from his research of the minutes that it is a very challenging board to be appointed to. His experience working in Senator Cassis’ office, as well as his background finance education and business will assist him in those endeavors. He said that as far as being appointed to other boards and committees, he is looking to do whatever he can to get involved with the City, and would serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fischer if he would consider other committees, which Mr. Fischer was correct.
Member Gatt said he admired Mr. Fischer’s drive at such a young age. He asked Mr. Fischer what is the single most important issue facing the ZBA right now.
Mr. Fischer noted that he was not presently on the Board so he could not speak to certain specific issues, and said the ZBA sees a certain case load so it does not see as many dragged-out issues as the City Council or the Planning Commission. The issue facing the ZBA is case load that they will be seeing in future years because of the smaller pockets being developed in Novi.
Member Capello noted that there were 10 applicants for 4 positions at the ZBA level. He applauded Mr. Fischer for being willing to give time and effort to the City out of his young life. Besides the ZBA, the second-toughest board to sit on is the Woodlands Review Board, and the City always seems to have difficulty filling that board. He asked Mr. Fischer if this would interest him as a means to get involved in the City.
Mr. Fischer said that as a means to get involved, he might be interested, though he would like a chance to look over the position more before being appointed.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he admired Mr. Fischer’s zeal, and echoed Member Gatt’s admiration of his drive. He said that if for some reason Mr. Fischer was not selected for the ZBA, he should not stop coming back to seek appointment. The City needs people with Mr. Fischer’s drive, zeal, and interest in the community.
Mayor Csordas said that Mr. Fischer is a genuinely impressive young man. He noted that the ZBA meetings are monthly, and asked Mr. Fischer if he would be able to attend the meetings for this or any other board or commission, as he attended Michigan State University.
Mr. Fischer said it would not be a problem to attend the meetings, as this would only be once per month and Michigan State is only an hour away. This summer, he worked in Rochester Hills, which during rush hour traffic can take much more than an hour. He also said he would be very interested in the alternate position on the ZBA, saying that he might have some difficulties with scheduling.
Mayor Csordas noted Mr. Wayne Hogan had arrived and invited him to interview, but Mr. Hogan said he preferred to wait until the special meeting on December 13th, noting that he had received a message on his answering machine requesting a postponement of his interview.
CM-03-12-399 Moved by Capello, seconded by Landry; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn the interview meeting until Saturday, December 13th, 2003 at 10:35 a.m.
Voice Vote on CM-03-12-399 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned this meeting at 9:32 p.m. to continue on Saturday, December 13, 2003 at 10:35 a.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: January 5, 2004