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REGULAR MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI from MONDAY, DECEMBER 8,
2003 AT 7:30 P.M.
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo – absent/excused, Nagy and Paul
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Capello wished to add to the agenda, as Mayor and Council Issues Item #1, an instruction to City administration to contact Lyon Township to see if there is interest in scheduling a joint meeting with the Novi City Council.
CM-03-12-403 Moved by Capello, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended.
Voice Vote on CM-03-12-403 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
G. BRENT CANUP – Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Canup noted that he has been a resident of Novi for more than 38 years and could remember when Meadowbrook Road was a gravel road. Of those 38 years, he had probably spent 30 being somehow involved in the development of the City of Novi. The first thing he was involved in was the Fire Millage Committee many years ago when the City voted a millage to update all of the fire equipment in the City. His next step was to serve on the ZBA, which he served on for 14 years. After the ZBA, he was not involved for 2 or 3 years, but then was appointed to the Planning Commission, where he served about 5 years. He now wants to be involved in the City’s future by being appointed to the ZBA.
Member Nagy said she had no questions for Mr. Canup, as she had worked with him on the Planning Commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that he had also served with Mr. Canup on the Planning Commission, and thanked him for stepping forward to serve.
Member Capello said that everyone but Member Gatt had the pleasure of serving with Mr. Canup on the Planning Commission, and thanked him for serving the City.
Member Gatt commented that he, too, could remember when many of the community’s roads were still gravel. He did not have any questions for Mr. Canup, saying that he supported Mr. Canup’s endeavor 100 percent.
Member Paul asked Mr. Canup how his professional experience in construction would help him on the ZBA.
Mr. Canup noted that he has a background in construction that can help, whether from sewer construction or from building a city hall. He helped his church perform a $3 million expansion, of which he was in charge of the construction of the facility. He also builds wastewater treatment plants. He is familiar with reading blueprints, understanding blueprints, understanding construction contracts, and anything to do with hard construction.
Member Paul noted that when Mr. Canup last served on the Planning Commission with her, he came up with hooking up the sewer system from Bellagio to Tuscany Reserve, as well as several other sites. She felt that he would be very good on the ZBA and thanked him for coming forward.
Mayor Csordas said he was very familiar with Mr. Canup’s high qualifications and expectations and thanked him for interviewing.
WAYNE WROBEL – Planning Commission
Wayne Wrobel, 24578 Ackert Ct., said he has been a resident of Novi for 19 years. Previously he has served on the Cable Access Commission from 1990 to 1994, has been president of the Jamestown Green Homeowner’s Association and the Royal Crown Estates Homeowner’s Association, and is presently on the Board of Directors for the Willowbrook Farms Homeower’s Association. He has been employed by SBC Ameritech for 24 years in a variety of management, planning, engineering and marketing positions, so he has seen business from many aspects. He would like to serve on the Planning Commission because he believes his expertise in varied aspects of business would be an asset to the City. The City and its residents must come to a common ground. Not everybody agrees with every land usage decision, but both sides of a fence must be looked at to decide what is best for a city in the long run.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Wrobel what he felt the most challenging planning aspect will be in the City as it approaches build-out.
Mr. Wrobel replied that many citizens do not want things to change, as many people move here because of what the City currently is. Given that growth is coming along, some things will change. The Planning Commission must marry the needs of the citizens versus the needs of property owners.
Member Capello asked Mr. Wrobel how he felt about widening Ten Mile Road west of Novi Road.
Mr. Wrobel said he actually favored widening Ten Mile Road from Haggerty on westward, since traffic is unbearable. Traffic on Ten Mile actually influenced his decision to remain on the east side of Novi and not move further out in the City. However, many people who own property on Ten Mile do not want the road widened. The pros and cons of the subject must be weighed to come to a decision.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Wrobel what his thoughts were about Novi’s master plan.
Mr. Wrobel replied that the Grand River Corridor Plan was a well thought-out, livable plan.
Member Paul asked Mr. Wrobel to describe his engineering experience and how this would benefit him on the Planning Commission.
Mr. Wrobel said he currently has the responsibility for 35 central office switches, which provide the phone service for local areas. His area responsibility is from Grand Rapids northward to Mackinaw City, as he handles the entire western part of the state. He is given a switch that has current capacity. It is his job to look forward as a planner to see what the needs will be for future customers, whether in 6 months or 2 years, and take the appropriate steps to ensure that sufficient equipment, capabilities and capacities are in place to provide services when customers need them. Planning requires looking at all various options and deciding the best course of action to meet the needs of the City.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Wrobel how he felt about increasing density along Ten Mile Road with new subdivisions that are being developed.
Mr. Wrobel replied that these will compound the traffic problem without Ten Mile being widened. Years ago, Novi made the minimum lot sizes in the western part of the City much larger, which decreases the density problem. There is no clear solution for the problem. The City can either widen the road or refuse to allow developers to build along it. This is a juggling act on an individual case basis.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Wrobel how he felt about the balance between the office service technology and residential developments in the City.
Mr. Wrobel replied that he was not very familiar with that balance.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Wrobel for his opinion about zoning changes from OST to RM-1, multiple apartments.
Mr. Wrobel said this had to be viewed on a case by case basis. Nothing should be denied until all the facts have been examined.
WAYNE HOGAN – Planning Commission, ZBA, Woodlands Review Board
Mr. Hogan said he worked for United Technologies, where his position involved extensive travel. His job was to find ways to prevent sabotage in their systems. They performed a lot of defense work and made wiring harnesses for most of the auto industry. The employees at the factories were UAW employees. He worked to prevent fraud and performed loss prevention at the W.R. Grace Corporation and as an analyst at EDS. He attends most Planning, ZBA, and City Council meetings for area jurisdictions. There are approximately 56,000,000 people with disabilities in America – many with diabetes, heart or lung problems, or are senior citizens. He works for the Community Mental Health Authority for Oakland County, where they service more than 13,000 persons in Oakland County with severe disabilities. Many of the persons in that system need 24-hour nursing care in their situations. The cost for one person to live in an institution is $300,000 per year, so the Authority tries to put as many cases as possible into their preferred communities to live. One of the processes that he takes part in is monitoring the quality of life of all the persons that the Authority has in communities. He also chairs 3 of the vital committees at the organization, which has a budget of $206 million per year, including the advisory committee and the consumer evaluation committee. At the consumer evaluation committee, they review and write policy and procedure for the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority. They have a document that is much like Novi’s master plan. A recent goal was to provide a raise to all of the direct care staff, about 5,000 in Oakland County. They provided a raise of $0.42 an hour. The State only pays about $7 per hour to work, and this is not enough money for people who have to be firemen, policemen, and EMT techs at the same time as they are protecting the life and safety of persons with disabilities. In Novi, he attends the ZBA meetings and attends almost every Planning Commission and City Council meeting. He goes to the library prior to the meetings, reviews the packets, and receives a used packet from a Planning Commissioner in order to learn more about projects in Novi. He also attends the Rules Committee for the Planning Commission and provides feedback in the Implementation Committee, where he recently participated in a new ordinance. Mr. Hogan said he is a very busy person, but is solution based. As he brings forward a problem in the City, he also brings with it a solution.
Member Capello asked Mr. Hogan why he had shown an interest in the Woodlands Review Board.
Mr. Hogan replied that his first reason was there was nobody on the Board. He has seen the amount of work that the Board does, and said the extra work from the Board adds several hours of work to the Planning Commission’s load every week. He is very interested in the number of trees being removed for some projects in the City. Some projects remove thousands of trees, and his interest lies in making sure that some of those trees are replaced within the City if they can’t be put on the same property.
Member Gatt said that Mr. Hogan had answered his question, and commented that he supported Mr. Hogan’s endeavors wholeheartedly.
Member Paul thanked Mr. Hogan for coming forward. She said that Mr. Hogan is well studied in all the activities of the City. She commended him on his work at the Library. She said Mr. Hogan worked very hard on improving the handicap spots at the Civic Center and at the Library. He has made the City very aware of the rights of people that have disabilities, and she has appreciated his comments over the last two years as a Planning Commissioner and City Council Member. She asked how Mr. Hogan’s experience in working for people with disabilities would translate to the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, or the Woodlands Review Board.
Mr. Hogan replied that he is mostly interested in serving on the Planning Commission. He visits many other jurisdictions and learns a great deal from them. His interest is not just in representing persons with disabilities, but in seniors, and general access to the community and its facilities. He has seen problems with roads in West Bloomfield where the town has refused to allow the widening of Haggerty or any other larger road. He has seen the same thing happen in Novi, with build-out coming and roads not being able to handle the traffic. He reads the traffic studies from SEMCOG that show how many cars actually go through the City of Novi. There are only 4,000 total cars that go past Wixom Road on Ten Mile, so the majority of cars still end up in the City of Novi. He studies general access very hard.
Member Nagy thanked Mr. Hogan for coming in. She appreciated that he has attended Planning and Implementation meetings, and felt he brought a lot of insight to the Commission and the Implementation Committee regarding the needs of the ADA. Some of Mr. Hogan’s suggestions were used and included in ordinances. She asked Mr. Hogan where he would decrease density in the City of Novi.
Mr. Hogan replied that he had heard Council members speak earlier about R-1 and OST zoning, and noted that he was very familiar with the project on Twelve Mile that they were referring to. He felt that OST is something that the City does not want to get rid of. With the project on Ten Mile, the majority of traffic will stop by Wixom Road, and he would approve of that particular situation. He felt that the Main Street development needs additional residential density.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Hogan how he felt about the Grand River Corridor.
Mr. Hogan said that Grand River’s setup as a commercial corridor is very important. The Target project was a mistake to locate where it is, as this should have been located on Grand River. He felt that there is more that could be done with the Grand River commercial corridor, especially at the areas of entrance to the City of Novi.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry thanked Mr. Hogan for his continued advocacy on behalf of ADA, and thanked him for keeping a watchful eye on the City in that capacity. The Mayor Pro Tem laid out a hypothetical situation for Mr. Hogan to consider: A residential subdivision is built that backs up to a vacant parcel of property which is zoned non-residential, the owner of that property approaches the Planning Commission with a proposal to build a non-residential development on that property, and the residents of the subdivision oppose the proposed development, but the proposed site plan meets the City’s zoning ordinances. He asked Mr. Hogan what he would do as a Planning Commissioner in the situation.
Mr. Hogan replied that the ordinances must be followed, but said the City has the ability to make as much of a buffer as possible between a residential project and a non-residential project. The Planning Commission would have to ensure that this buffer was taken care of. The project, if it fit the ordinances and the style of business desired in Novi, would have to eventually be approved. The Commission would also have to ensure that the residential area was properly buffered and protected.
Mayor Csordas echoed the comments of Mayor Pro Tem Landry, that Mr. Hogan brings a great service to the City and helps with its ADA compliance.
THOMAS KENNY – Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission
Mr. Kenny said he has been a resident of Novi for 10 years, and lives in Chase Farms. He is married, has 4 children, including a daughter that is a nurse at Beaumont Hospital, a daughter who just graduated from Indiana University, another daughter attending Schoolcraft College and working at a restaurant, and a son at Catholic Central High School. He has been an attorney for 25 years, practicing in the area of state and local tax. He started his legal career with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, where he tried criminal cases. He then proceeded to the Attorney General’s Office and tried tax cases, which were primarily non property tax related. Mr. Kenny has been in private practice for 15 years, and is a partner at the firm of Raymond & Prokop, where he heads the state and local tax practice. They primarily represent Fortune 500 companies in their non-property tax cases, representing companies in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. He was a participant in the Community Clubs of Novi, where he served on the oversight board for the construction of the Novi Ice Arena. He worked on that project for about 2 years. He put in an application for the ZBA because he feels that everyone in Novi should make an effort to perform some kind of community service.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Kenny if ZBA was his first choice to participate on.
Mr. Kenny said it was his understanding that this was the first step, as the ZBA is the preliminary community board which would review various changes in zoning classifications.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Kenny what the most important issue facing the ZBA today is, and why.
Mr. Kenny replied that there seems to be some controversy over how the master plan will be implemented. Because of the significant growth in the community over the past 10 years, there seems to be an imbalance between residential construction and the need for a solid tax base. As he understood it, the industrial/commercial area provides significant tax revenues, yet seems to be underutilized. The Grand River corridor will be the most significant area of development over the next 10 or 15 years, but the focus seems to be primarily residential construction at this time. It is important to make sure that residential does not overwhelm the community to such an extent that the City has no tax base.
Member Paul asked Mr. Kenny how his background in tax law would help him with municipal law and site plan reviews for the Planning Commission.
Mr. Kenny said that as a lawyer, clients come to him and have different issues. Some issues he is familiar with and has experience with. In many cases, clients come in with a unique issue that sometimes requires a significant amount of research, sometimes just general research. One must have the confidence to look at an issue and do the necessary research to become informed and make a correct decision.
Member Nagy noted that she knows some people in Mr. Kenny’s firm, though she does not do business with the firm. She said that Mr. Kenny had answered Member Gatt’s question from a Planning Commission perspective, which she appreciated. She asked Mr. Kenny what the appropriate balance is, from a tax perspective, between residential and non-residential sectors. At the present time, the tax base is 61% residential in Novi.
Mr. Kenny said that the current 60/40 tax ratio can support the community. The goal should be to ensure that the master plan is conformed with, and ensure that the industrial tax base is strong but complies with the overall community development. He said the current mixture is correct to provide the tax base.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry thanked Mr. Kenny for stepping forward, but had no questions.
Mayor Csordas thanked Mr. Kenny, and also had no questions.
RUSSELL BARTLETT – Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Bartlett said he has lived in the Novi area for approximately 11 years. Originally he came from the United Kingdom, and came to the United States about 13 years ago. He was applying for the positions as a concerned citizen. He has seen Novi grow over the past 11 years. Initially, the area behind him was designated as woodlands. As the area has grown, quality has been dropped in favor of quantity, which concerns him. He has grave concerns about growth in the City. In the United Kingdom, a population in excess of 65 million people fit into a country that was no larger than Michigan. Within that country, it is possible to travel from the City into the countryside very quickly because of greenbelts. He would like to see more consideration given to preservation of woodlands and wetlands areas, and feels that there has been an imbalance in this area.
Member Paul said she was very familiar with Nine-and-a-half Mile Road, which she calls White Pines Drive, and she lives just north of Mr. Bartlett. The woodlands that he has in his backyard are something that she worked very hard to preserve from the developer. She appreciated his thoughts on looking at quality, and not just quantity. She asked Mr. Bartlett how he felt about the master plan and its current approach towards build-out.
Mr. Bartlett said he was unfortunately out of town and was not able to attend meetings about the master plan, so he could not comment about the master plan at this time.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Bartlett if he felt that increasing density without the proper infrastructure being in place is wise.
Mr. Bartlett replied that he did not feel this is wise. Improving and increasing infrastructure, such as widening lanes and increasing roads, acts as a magnet for growth, and becomes self-perpetuating. Ultimately, everything amounts to increased density within the City. He moved to Novi because he felt there was a good balance between open spaces and development, but has seen a dramatic change take place. Every action has at least one consequence, typically more than one. Due consideration needs to be given to the long-term effect of any action that is taken.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry posed the same question to Mr. Bartlett as to Mr. Hogan. He asked Mr. Bartlett how he would react on the Planning Commission under the following hypothetical situation: a residential subdivision backs up to a vacant parcel of property zoned non-residential. The property has woodlands on it, and the applicant comes before the Planning Commission and presents a site plan to develop the property that meets all of the City’s ordinances. The people in the subdivision do not want this, and protest the plan at the Planning Commission meeting.
Mr. Bartlett said that if the site plan met all of the ordinances, then the development should go ahead. However, given that the building of such a structure would be detrimental to the residents, his leaning would be more toward the residents. This is a question of working within the parameters, but not to a point that a purely clinical standpoint is taken.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Bartlett if he viewed the Planning Commission as a legislative body.
Mr. Bartlett replied that as he saw it, the Planning Commission is advisory and makes recommendations.
SCOTT HALLARON – Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Hallaron was not present at the meeting.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL ISSUES
1. Joint Meeting with Lyon Township – Member Capello
CM-03-12-404 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; To direct City administration to contact Lyon Township’s administration and Board of Trustees and invite them to a joint meeting with the Novi City Council, in Novi, to discuss possible concerns involving both Lyon Township and the City of Novi, not limited to just Ten Mile Road; and inquire what the Lyon Township Board of Trustees would like to include on the agenda if there is interest in the joint meeting.
Voice Vote on CM-03-12-404 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – None
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 11:13 a.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: January 5, 2004