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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: Brownie/Girl Scout Troop #1193
Leader: Shirley Wicker Co-Leaders: Kim Ziegler, Caroline Spencer, Shelli Burgol
Members: Abby, Andrea, Annabel, Barbara Jane, Breanna, Bridget, Brooke, Emily, Hannah, Jaymie, Kaleena, Laura, Meredith, Sarah, Veronica
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 – Assistant City Manager
Randy Auler – Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry
Kathy Smith-Roy – Director of Finance
Dave Evancoe – Director of Planning
Nancy McClain – City Engineer
Benny McCusker – Director of Public Works
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Mayor Pro Tem Landry added Mayor and Council Issues Item #3, status of the ordinance regarding truck unloading and idling adjacent to residential areas.
Member Capello added Mayor and Council Issues Item #4, vacation of Sixth Gate; and Item #5, to place on a future agenda the name change extension for industrial facility exemption and certificate for the proposed new Expo Center and Conference Center.
Member Gatt added Mayor and Council Issues Item #6, traffic concern on Haggerty Road.
Member Paul added Mayor and Council Issues Item #7, Wixom Road left-turn lane for Island Lakes.
Member Lorenzo added Mayor and Council Issues Item #8, establish administrative performance review and ratings, Council policy.
Member Nagy added Mayor and Council Issues Item #9, South Lake.
CM-04-02-053 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended.
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-053 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
1. Update on Formation of Novi Park Foundation - David Paul, Chair and David Staudt, Member – Parks, Recreation & Forestry Commission
David Paul, Chairman of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission, introduced Commissioner David Staudt, who is chairperson of the Commission’s Resource Development Subcommittee. Commissioner Staudt has been working very hard, along with Commissioners Engebretson and Staab, on establishing the Novi Park Foundation. He said they were in attendance to follow up on the joint meeting of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission and the City Council in August of 2003.
Chairman Paul noted that the Commission had approved the 5-year master recreation plan in October, and is now in the process of implementing that plan. The Commission is at the final stages of establishing the Park Foundation. This Foundation will give businesses and organizations in the community an opportunity to directly donate funds and/or land for the City’s parks and recreation. There are some excellent and exciting public and private partnerships that will result from this, as well as a great deal of fundraising opportunities.
Member Lorenzo noted that she had spoken with Chairman Paul during the previous week, and said there will be no contemplation of hiring any employees at this time for Parks, Recreation and Forestry. In absence of this, she asked who would actually administer the Foundation at this point in time.
Commissioner Staudt replied that initially, the Foundation will be administered by the 3 Commission members who are actively involved with the organization. Sue Engebretson is a C.P.A. and will be very active in the bookkeeping for the Foundation. She is working on establishing the 501(c)3 corporation. He said he would also act in the administration of the Foundation. For at least the first 6 to 12 months, this is something that will be done within the director group. They would love to be in the position to hire a director early on. Initially, the Commission is just looking at running things as a group and building up the Foundation’s funding. This subcommittee has some very strong business backgrounds. Also, the Commission is in the very early stages of looking at potential board members, which will be a strong element in that decision.
Member Lorenzo thanked the subcommittee, and wished them well.
Commissioner Staudt noted that Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission is in the process of filing their articles of corporation, which will be done in the next week or so. They have worked with the City Attorney’s law firm, who has consulted the Commission closely on this. He said the Commission would report back to Council within the next 5 to 6 months and let Council know the status of these activities.
Member Paul commended the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission for going forward and looking at how to improve the City’s parks without asking taxpayers to come up with additional funds. This is a wonderful, innovative idea. She felt that Commissioner Staudt had done an excellent job of coming forward with his previous foundation experience.
1. Community Development Block Grant (Reprogramming of additional 2004 funds)
Mr. Klaver said that administration had received in late December, as a result of a property transaction, notification that the City would be receiving and additional $17,234 for each of the next 8 years. This money will become part of the 2004 program year received in July. Since the City had already held the hearings on the basic allocation for the year in November, it was necessary to hold a public hearing that evening with the proposed recommendation of allocation of this additional $17,234 which has come forward from the City’s Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee. He thanked the members of the Committee, Sarah Gray, Michael Meyer, Tom Lindberg, Jerry Ross, and Richard Vahlbusch. They have met, looked at the City’s current programs, and have recommended that the City allocate an additional $5,000 to help offset the cost of the senior van program. The balance of the funding -12,234 - would go to the minor home repair program. This is the program that funds significant health and safety improvements for low and moderate income residents of the community that qualify for the program. This was the recommendation that was subject to the public hearing that evening.
Mayor Csordas noted that there has recently been a tremendous improvement in the allocation of those funds.
Member Nagy asked how the figure of $5,000 for the senior transportation services was determined.
Mr. Klaver replied that this was simply a recommendation by the committee. There was a general discussion of additional money that might be allocated. The committee was given information regarding the status of the program. This was simply a number which the committee selected as being an appropriate amount.
Member Nagy felt that there was a backlog of the housing projects for applicants who applied for the grants. She would like to reduce the senior transportation amount. Reducing this by $2,500 could result in a roof or furnace being repaired for someone. She said she was looking to spend the money for what it is designated, for people applying for the grants. The $5,000 seemed arbitrary and not based upon any cost analysis.
Mr. Klaver said the purpose of the public hearing that evening was to solicit public commentary on the proposal. The matter would be back for action by Council on March 1st, which would be the appropriate time in which to make specific motions and decisions on the recommendations.Member Paul said she knows one of the ladies who lives in the senior facility. That woman had told her that there is no senior transportation after 5 p.m. She asked if this was correct.
Mr. Klaver responded that the City has two different components to the program. One is senior transportation, which the City funds during the daytime. The other component is a subsidized taxi cab program that is on-call. After 5 p.m., the City provides the on-call service through the local taxi company. It is true that the senior vans only run during the daytime, and these are on an appointment basis.
Mayor Csordas opened the Public Hearing for public commentary.
There being no public commentary, Mayor Csordas closed the 2004 Community Development Block Grant Public Hearing.
2. Special Assessment District 171 for Woodham Drive Water Main Extension - Public Hearing No. 1
Mayor Csordas opened Public Hearing Number 1 for Special Assessment District 171.
There being no public commentary, Mayor Csordas closed Public Hearing Number 1 for Special Assessment District 171.
Mr. Helwig noted that there was one communication distributed to Council from a resident regarding this item.
Ms. Cornelius said that there were also several other communications received during the day and during the meeting which were added to Council’s packets. Council had other communications in its packets, approving or objecting to the SAD.
Mayor Csordas said that during the week, he had received a letter from 52nd District Court administrator, Michelle Bilger, as well as the February 2004 Michigan Bar Journal. In there are articles written by the 3 judges of the 52nd District Court, Judges Bondy, Powers, and MacKenzie. He said that the letters are excellent, and it is good to see the high quality and integrity of the judges which the City is fortunate to be represented by. One article is by Judge McKenzie regarding district courts being community courts. Judge Bondy and Judge Powers have an interesting article in the journal on team courts. The 52-1 District Court is apparently one of only three courts in Oakland County that do this. He thanked all three of the judges for continuing to do the excellent work that they do. He especially liked Judge MacKenzie’s article on community courts.
2. CITY MANAGER - None
– Garage Size Limitations
Mr. Helwig referred to a report that Council received from Barb McBeth and Dave Evancoe at City Council’s request. This report is regarding garage size limitations referenced to other community’s regulations, the City’s own, and the history which indicates that the matter had been before the Ordinance Review Committee and is in need of a referral to the Planning Commission for processing.
CM-04-02-054 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Landry; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To send the issue of garage size limitations to the Planning Commission for processing after input from builders involved in requesting ZBA variances for garages is obtained by the City.
Member Lorenzo said she had a conversation with Mark Guidobono that morning. Mr. Guidobono has specific input and suggestions for this particular ordinance. She asked that Mr. Guidobono and any other builders who have perhaps been involved in requesting some of the ZBA variances for garages be contacted to obtain their input before sending the matter to the Planning Commission for any action or public hearing.
Mayor Csordas felt that Member Lorenzo’s suggestion was an excellent policy. He encouraged getting professionals involved with the City’s professionals and obtaining that input before anything is "set in stone."
Member Lorenzo asked to include this to the motion as a friendly amendment.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry, the seconder, agreed to the friendly amendment.
Mayor Csordas said that on page 2 of the document, the very bottom paragraph titled "Zoning Board of Appeals Waivers for Garage Size", it states that "the Planning Commission and Council may consider increasing the maximum square footage of the accessory structure to 1200 square feet." He asked that the Implementation Committee consider this as well.
Mr. Helwig indicated that this did not need to be included in the motion, as the report should stand on its own.
Mayor Csordas asked when the matter would come back to Council.
Mr. Helwig said that the matter needs to go for public hearing and processing, which the Planning Commission has said it will expedite at Council’s request within the next few weeks. Given all of this, getting back to Council could take 60 to 90 days.
Mayor Csordas said it would be great to have the matter back to Council in 60 days if possible, 90 days if needed. He said it would also be very helpful to Council to have some kind of outline of ordinances that are sitting in Ordinance Review.
Mr. Helwig said administration’s plan is to include such a schedule in the upcoming Thursday packet.
Member Lorenzo noted that it is not always the committee that "forgets" about things like ordinances, as in this case.
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-054 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Mayor Csordas stated that Member Lorenzo’s suggestion of getting developers involved in the ordinance was an excellent idea, as they will provide valuable input.
- Meadowbrook Town Homes: Road Acceptance Status, Building Questions, Landscaping, Seeding/Sod, Asphalt Driveway
Mr. Helwig asked Mr. Pearson and Mr. Saven to respond to requests stated by Member Paul in particular, as well as Member Lorenzo. Administration wished to provide an update regarding Meadowbrook Town Homes.
Mr. Pearson wished to provide an update on the City’s efforts to support residents in Meadowbrook Town Homes. Throughout the process, they have tried to ensure that all of the City requirements for construction were being met by the builder and developer. Council had requested to be apprised of the proceedings. Administration has had several meetings with residents and has interacted with them since last fall. Several topics have risen out of the extensive discussions, and some progress with the developer and the residents has been met.
Mr. Pearson said that in the February 5th memo, the City had depicted the local street acceptance, City-wide. The streets of Meadowbrook Town Homes have a combination of to-be-public and to-remain-private streets. Per the adopted policy, administration would expect that the developer is to formally request inspections in spring 2004 that would initiate the dedication process for those streets that are to be public. Administration expects that to come forward, though at this date they have not yet requested the public dedication. It would be to the developer’s advantage to have that done.
Member Lorenzo asked who the developer in this case is.
Mr. Pearson replied that the company is Fram Development. The main contact that he has worked with is Mr. Doug Stratton.
Member Lorenzo noted that Mr. Pearson had said that some of the streets would become public, but some would remain private. She asked which development the public streets are connected to.
Mr. Pearson replied that he was referring exclusively to Meadowbrook Town Homes, and that the public streets would connect to phase I of this.
Member Lorenzo said it was her understanding that in Meadowbrook Town Homes, some of the streets were part of another subdivision or development.
Mr. Pearson said that the things he had looked at were specifically with different phases of Meadowbrook Town Homes. Those have frontage on to Thirteen Mile and Meadowbrook. The Brownstones are adjacent to the development, but these streets would only be Meadowbrook Town Homes’ streets.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Pearson if he was saying that even within Meadowbrook Town Homes, the streets would be both public and private.
Mr. Pearson indicated that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if this was an unusual situation.
Mr. Pearson noted that he could not think of any other examples, but said that the streets that remain private are truly long driveways, almost alley-way accesses, so they do not have the same character as a collector street throughout the rest of the neighborhood.
Member Lorenzo commented that it is Fram that is the builder who needs to come forward with a dedication in the spring in this case.
Mr. Pearson responded that this was correct.
Mr. Pearson said that Meadowbrook Town Homes was approved in 1998. There are 178 units total of which 101 were built in phase I. He said Mr. Saven was prepared to provide his analysis in finding a resolution for the cold rooms that have already been built and prevent this from happening with any future units. The built units were all occupied in 2001 and 2002, and so in all cases except for one, it has been more than 18 months since these were brought to the City in the fall of 2003. Of the 101 units there were 45 requested situations with the cold rooms.
Mayor Csordas noted that the rooms are owner occupied. He asked if "cold rooms" meant that these were rooms in the dwelling unit that are were colder than other rooms.
Mr. Pearson replied that this was correct. The rooms sit over the garage.
Mr. Saven commented that this is a very unique situation as the City is dealing with the construction. The problem has to deal with a second-floor bedroom which is located above a garage area. This is naturally an unheated area, but involves a couple of things. Number one, it involves a concealed air space, because there is drywall along the ceiling area at this point. There are ceiling joists and floor joists as well. Normally what takes place is that if this were a single-frame type of construction, this would not be a problem. The structure does meet the requirements of the Michigan energy code, with the exception of air infiltration. He pointed to an area on a photograph that needs to be insulated that normally already is. The ventilation which is on an eave’s area comes in a particular area and is like blowing into a balloon with compressed air. In this particular area, because of the difference in the space, if there is any opening whatsoever the cold air will get in. The recommendation was that sheathing be applied on a particular side coming down to a particular level, which he showed on the diagram. The City of Novi conducts 11 inspections. Through the State of Michigan, the City is only required to conduct 3 inspections. The City has an additional 8 as part of its program home inspections, which gives a total of 11 inspections during the building of a home. The City does not have an inspection for air infiltration, as this is not a required inspection. The insulation needs to be seen, as this is required. What normally takes place after that time is that City inspectors come in for a final inspection, at which time the ceiling is done, and thus that particular area cannot be seen. The City has tried to come up with a measure to resolve this so that this problem is not encountered in the future. Phase II does not have a problem as it exists now because the procedure for the sheathing to go around the room was already implemented. Policy was drafted that day would have the City remove the insulation so that it can get into the problem area. This is a very complicated truss design because it provides a great deal of support for the 2nd-floor level. The insulation that must be applied must be done so that it fits the problem area. The City is dealing with the State complaint process, and will follow that process regardless of the fact that the 18 months had been exceeded. The process will be followed because the problem is a seasonal issue and the building department could not verify the problem at the time the people were before it. A person cannot verify a cold room in temperatures that fluctuate around 65 or 68 degrees. Temperatures are needed which are conducive and provide the ability to examine a room. The building department did meet with Fram’s attorney, and the builder wanted to the opportunity to try to balance the heats in the rooms, which the City allowed to happen. Following this, the City went in and began its process. There were 45 complaints, of which 31 were able to be contacted. In this particular area, 25 were validated for having infiltration. The City received 7 State complaints. The building department, along with Mr. Fisher’s office, will jointly compile the letter to go to the State of Michigan, indicating that this was a seasonal complaint.
Mr. Pearson noted Mr. Saven’s comments that the City had heard back from 7 residents who have verified the problems, are pursuing the matter and are continuing to work with the City on the State complaint basis. The balance of the residents have been called at least 2 times, as the City needs the residents to continue working with it if they are interested in pursing the matter.
Member Nagy said she had read a great deal of material on the matter. There is a letter from a City inspector that mentioned BOCA codes, sheathing, and information about the sheathing blowing off. She understood that this was a difficult situation but felt that the City needs to do everything within its means to improve on the inspection process. It seemed to her that the inspection was not done as well as it could have been, and she does not want to see this problem in the future. Some of the problems are now being corrected in phase II, which is exceedingly important. Residents often do not know the process, who to file with, or who to go to. She would like to see a better process for inspection, because this has been a problem.
Member Paul mentioned that she agreed with the previous comments. The building department’s number one job is to make sure that people are moving into safe and comfortable homes. The cold room situation recently happened to her, and her family had to install additional insulation between a garage wall, a bedroom, and an office. There was previously no insulation between any of those walls. The problem does not only apply to the trusses; rather, the insulation should perhaps be checked at a different type of inspection.
Mr. Saven replied that there is a rough inspection conducted for all structural members. In the past 15 years, the City has graduated from homes which were a simple, single front-to-back truss design to today’s complicated, sometimes unusually designed homes. Once the rough inspection has been completed, there is an insulation inspection. Insulation is sometimes taken out of walls when drywall is loaded onto a second story, and the City is not there for that particular aspect. Openings are made in the wall and insulation is removed so that contractors can get the drywall into the building, which unfortunately does happen. The building department does have an insulation inspection. He said inspectors would be more diligent in that area.
Member Paul said she appreciated Mr. Saven’s comments. The concern is that the problem is happening, and the City needs to prevent it from happening in the future. She asked Mr. Saven to provide Council with information about what the energy code is, and what the inspection checklist will be in the future in order for members to understand how the problem will be rectified in the future. She asked if cellulose insulation could be installed into eaves where the air can penetrate into vents.
Mr. Saven responded that when the he met with the homeowner’s group, he had a concern about this. The reason for that concern was that the cellulose insulation would only be a temporary fix. There needs to be ventilation in the eaves and concealed areas to allow air movement. If insulation were blown in there, chances are that the insulation could continue to blow around. It is very difficult to find air infiltration unless it can be felt. This was exactly what had to be done to find that the problem was in fact air infiltration.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that this was an unusual situation, and said he understood the position that the City is in. The City does not build the houses; it has the ordinances and requirements, and inspectors can only be out in the field at certain times of the day. Inspectors cannot be at a site for 24 hours a day to watch construction. He felt that Mr. Saven’s department was doing a fine job in the matter. It sounds like the building department is tackling the problem and is going above and beyond in pursuing complaints with the State of Michigan. He said his understanding was that the initial response from the State would be that the complaints are too late because of the 18 month limitations period. However, he understood that the City would apply on behalf of the homeowners to try and get the State to waive that 18 month limitation.
Mr. Saven replied that this was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the City would take the position that because this problem can only be detected during the colder months, the 18 month limitation period should not apply.
Mr. Saven replied that this was also correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry remarked that it sounded like this was a good position. He hoped the City could muster homeowners support, and commended the City for taking that position and trying to get some relief for those residents.
Member Lorenzo wished to say how much she appreciated Mr. Saven’s candor for stepping up to the plate, identifying a gap that could be seen in the inspection process, and aggressively pursuing an identified solution.
Member Capello asked Mr. Saven if he had stated that the building department performs a couple of different insulation inspections during the rough stage, and at the time the department did the inspections, the insulation met the code requirements.
Mr. Saven replied that this was correct.
Member Capello asked if he was correct in saying that this was not truly a situation where the developer or builder did less than what was required under the code.
Mr. Saven said that this was correct.
Member Capello asked if the City of Novi had adopted the energy code for insulation.
Mr. Saven noted that this was also correct.
Member Capello asked if Council needed to amend the City’s ordinances to make things easier for the building department. He could see how the building department would have a hard time with inspections. A builder would build a home and meet code requirements, but then the building department must try to demand more without any code enforcement powers behind it. He asked if there was anything that Council could do to help.
Mr. Saven said that in this particular case, there was not really anything that Council could help with. This problem is with air infiltration, a very difficult thing to deal with. The Maples of Novi had one of the few developers/builders that did a "blower door" test. They would actually try to seal the house to a point where the house was tight. However, some homes are actually too tight, resulting in the "sick house" syndrome. Homes today are practically wrapped in house-wrap and the bonds are covered so that infiltration is taken care of. In contrast, the Meadowbrook Town Homes problem takes place in the inside of a home in the garage area. The ventilation coming in causes the uniqueness of the situation.
Member Capello asked what the licensed action complaints that the City is filing are, such as workmanship or failure to correct.
Mr. Saven said the City would use a provision of the code that discusses air leakage or air infiltration. This is part of the Michigan Energy Code.
Mr. Pearson said that on the landscaping concerns, he had distributed copies of the memorandums from the City’s landscape architect, who completed another review particularly of phase I in November. The financial guarantees that have been posted expire on July 1, 2004. The letter distributed by Mr. Helwig confirms that the builder, Fram, will complete the work at the latest by June, and this would match up with when the financial guarantee expires. On the seeding and sodding portion of the landscaping, the City’s landscape consultant had approved the seed mix for certain common areas. The City has directed the builder that this was not to continue for anything that has not been done, that this will be sodded.
Member Lorenzo said that a question which some homeowners had repeatedly asked was not only whether someone would re-hydroseed the area, but whether several inches of good soil would be included in the mix. Right now, the soil is all clay. No matter what is installed there, it will not establish a seed bed in the clay. The hydroseeders will need to mix several inches of good top soil in with the mix in order to actually establish the seed, no matter what type of seed is used.
Mr. Pearson said that the areas which have been seeded must take, as the City will not accept what the landscapers just throw in. There is a requirement for 3 inches of topsoil, so this will have to be a part of the sod installation that is forthcoming.
Member Lorenzo inquired if the topsoil would be part of the hydroseeding.
Mr. Pearson replied that the installers will have to do whatever is necessary to establish the vegetation.
Member Nagy wished to echo the comments of the previous speaker. She had seen the site, and said some of the areas are actually dangerous because of the clay and the holes in the ground. She asked if some of the plantings would also be changed at the site.
Mr. Pearson noted that Mr. Shipman’s letter of November identifies missing plant materials, and those will all be a part of the new installation and inspection. A new warranty period for those plants will apply as well.
Member Nagy said she appreciated Mr. Shipman’s thorough work and also appreciated Mr. Pearson’s answer. She brought up the issue because she wanted residents at the facility to know what the City was working on.
Member Capello said that Mr. Pearson’s memorandum stated that the City has options of redeeming the bonds and completing the work in-house, or allowing for a new bond. He asked if the City has the authority in the ordinance to force the developer to complete the work within a certain period of time, whereby the City could redeem the bonds if the work was not completed within that period of time. He did not believe the City had any such authority.
Mr. Fisher said that the bond would be posted for the purpose of a guarantee. If the activities for which the guarantee is posted are not fulfilled, the City would provide notice and have the right to redeem at that point.
Member Capello asked what period of time the installer would actually be in breach of non-completion that the City could actually redeem the bonds for.
Mr. Fisher said he had not seen the exact agreements or the language which they were discussing, but when each phase is completed, they will be required to complete the landscaping.
Member Capello replied that the phase is done when the landscaping is completed, but the City isn’t requiring the landscaping to be completed until the phase is done, which is a catch-22 situation.
Mr. Fisher said that in the law, if there is not a specific time stated, then a reasonable time applies.
Member Capello believed that one of Council’s committees was supposed to be working on this.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct.
Member Capello asked if in regard to redeeming the bonds, if those could be redeemed before the expiration period, or if the City has to actually file some type of declaratory action.
Mr. Fisher said the City would give notice to the surety company, which would either give the City the money or would object to the redemption and would file the action.
Member Capello asked if this would then be putting the burden on the bond surety company.
Mr. Fisher responded that this was correct.
Mr. Saven commented that regarding the asphalt driveways, there have been "a ton" of problems. There have been 74 complaints regarding the asphalt drives. Quite a few of these deal with the replacement of the entire drive. The composition of the asphalt leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, the City does not have an ordinance regarding inspections of asphalt driveways. He suggested that this was something that may eventually be needed in the future. He had a letter of commitment saying that the builder would address these issues by June of this year. The building department also has a letter in file to establish completion at that particular time. In phase II, the builder will be using concrete, not asphalt.
Member Paul said that when she was on the Planning Commission’s Implementation Committee, they had people in a department that would provide different city ordinances from the surrounding area. She asked if there are other communities which have an ordinance that could be applied in this situation, and if these could be provided to Ordinance Review.
Mr. Saven replied that from a commercial standpoint, there is some availability for those particular requirements. There are certain standards for road right-of-ways that are applicable. He was not sure if any other community deals with residential application. He said he would check, or perhaps Mr. Fisher could check with the MTA or the Michigan Municipal League and see whether there are any ordinances governing this.
Member Paul said she knows that the Planning Department has performed reviews like this before, and suggested that perhaps Mr. Saven and Mr. Evancoe could work on the matter together. Barb McBeth is exceptional at looking at other communities in the area and retrieving information that applies in other areas. This does not mean that Council would accept those exact ordinances, but it could pick and choose different language from different ordinances in the surrounding areas. She would like to see how the City could improve the situation.
Member Capello asked if the builders are putting concrete in the private sections of the driveways or only in the areas which the City will eventually accept.
Mr. Saven said the builders will install concrete in the private sections of driveways. All of the roads there are private except for the perimeter roads that surround the site.
Member Lorenzo said that Mr. Saven had identified the issue with regard to the non-inspection of asphalt driveways in probably August or September. She asked if the City had taken any initiation to get something in place.
Mr. Helwig said that this had not happened in terms of an ordinance requirement.
Member Lorenzo suggested that this be worked on immediately if there was Council consensus to do so, possibly by Mr. Fisher, Mr. Saven and engineering department, to bring something to the Council table perhaps within 30 days.
Mr. Helwig said he would want Council’s direction if this was to be done.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked how much time City administration would need.
Mr. Helwig said he first wanted to make sure that there was consensus amongst Council to direct administration to pursue the notion of inspecting residential asphalt driveways. If a majority of Council supported this, administration would be happy to research the matter and bring back alternatives as quickly as it can.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Saven how long he has been the City’s building inspector.
Mr. Saven replied that he has been building inspector since 1973, though he had left for 6 years during that time span.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Saven if he felt that the City should be inspecting driveways.
Mr. Saven commented that this was a very difficult situation. The bottom line in the issue is that the asphalt must be maintained to assist in its longevity. The responsibility is shared between many people. If the asphalt has been applied, and applied correctly, there should not be a problem.
Mr. Helwig noted that the spirit of the Mayor Pro Tem’s inquiry was for the initial installation, to ensure that this is properly done and that the homeowner has been well served.
Mr. Saven said he could not say as to whether the City should inspect single family residential driveways. He would need to communicate with other officials around the state to see if such inspections have been helpful.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry suggested that before Council directed administration to draft any ordinance, that it allow Mr. Saven to look into matter if he is the correct person to do so, and make whatever inquiries that he would suggest of his colleagues in this area. He asked Mr. Saven if he would be able to do this and come back to Council with a report.
Mr. Saven replied that he would do this.
CM-04-02-055 Moved by Landry, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To direct Mr. Saven to prepare a report on the potential for City residential asphalt driveway installation inspections for Council.
Member Nagy felt that the Mayor Pro Tem’s suggestion was a great idea, since Council should not create directives without any information. She asked if the City has any design and construction standards for asphalt driveways.
Mr. Saven replied that there are standards for commercial driveways, but not for residential applications.
Member Nagy asked if the City has inspections for concrete residential driveways.
Mr. Saven responded that there are inspections for residential concrete driveways.
Member Nagy asked if there are no standards for the pouring of asphalt driveways.
Mr. Saven said he could not answer this because it depends on a number of factors. Some people can alter the thickness of the sub-base and have a thicker type of asphalt application if they have a lesser sub-base, or a thicker sub-base and lesser thickness of asphalt.
Member Nagy felt that the hard part would be imposing any kind of standard when a measurable standard does not truly exist. She said she would support the motion.
Member Lorenzo asked for one clarification regarding the design and construction standards for concrete. She asked if the City has a design and construction standard and inspection process for residential concrete driveways.
Mr. Saven replied that inspections do not exist for residential concrete driveways, but do for commercial applications, for pavement and roads entering commercial or industrial subdivisions, and approaches coming in from road right-of-ways. There is a standard that determines how the application must be done, but there are no inspections.
Member Lorenzo noted that Mr. Saven had said that there was a standard for concrete, but no standards for asphalt at all.
Mr. Saven replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if Council needed to additionally look at creating a standard for asphalt driveways as there is for concrete driveways. Hopefully Council can "iron out" the situation when it obtains the information from Mr. Saven in his report.
Member Capello asked Mr. Saven if he had said that the City does not inspect for any driveways, or just not for asphalt driveways.
Mr. Saven said that inspections are not done for asphalt or concrete driveways. These are issues that are subject to weathering conditions like frost and thaw. The quality is something that is most difficult to control. He thanked Council for the opportunity to contact his other peers and find out how other communities are handling the matter.
Member Capello asked if the driveway quality is egregious enough and heaves or cracks during the 18-month period, the City has the ability to file a complaint with the State.
Mr. Saven responded that under the 1996 code, the City had this ability, but does not have that provision today. This is an exemption as far as the Michigan Residential Code is concerned.
Member Capello asked if the homeowner cannot file an action with the State.
Mr. Saven said that he believed this was correct because there is no permit requirement for that particular provision, unless this is brought under meeting all the requirements of the ordinances of that city.
Member Paul suggested that as Mr. Saven inquired around the state, he might look at concrete residential driveways. In a neighborhood that basically has floating slabs, every one of her neighbors has the same issues. If the City has the original base and concrete thickness, and the original asphalt placement and the base as a uniform ordinance, this could be very helpful. Many people don’t realize what they are getting into, drive on their driveway for 5 years, and find it disintegrated. She asked that Mr. Saven look into both types of driveways for his report.
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-055 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Mr. Pearson noted that there have been several resident concerned areas or proposed from the City’s perspective, such as ice formations and related drainage, concrete stair units, concrete stains, and brick footings for the porches. Those are some of the topics that the City has moved past at this point.
Mr. Saven said that the concrete stain issue has not been addressed, which he said was his fault. He could not find anything that make this a violation of the building code. Stains or discoloration are not a condition for violation. He has tried to meet with the American Concrete Institute to resolve the matter, but has not received an answer. He is even trying to work with the builder to try to come up with some kind of resolve in this ordeal.
– Snow plowing non-accepted streets
Mr. Helwig said this report related to the issue of street acceptance policies and timelines. For the first time that he was aware of, the City had published a local street acceptance status map to provide Council with a state-of-the-art update of street acceptance in Novi. Related to that is the issue of snow plowing non-accepted streets. He said he might have been a bit too anxious in his last report because he had not seen all of the information. The issue really comes down to Park Place being the neighborhood where this service is being provided on an on-going basis, where about 25% of the lots have been built on and the streets have not been tendered for acceptance. Council had received a memo report from Mr. Fisher as to what the City should or should not do depending on Council’s policy direction in terms of notification and assuring that, if the plowing is to be discontinued, that the City appropriately notify and allow time for a conversion, and if it is to be continued to also notify to that effect.
Member Lorenzo said she was not sure if it would be feasible at this point in time to obtain a private entity to do the maintenance. She would be agreeable to allow the current policy to continue through this winter season. However, this would end the policy as far as unaccepted streets. She was very disappointed and frustrated that the City is in the situation that it is in, and would have thought that there would have been an understanding a year ago that the City should not be plowing such streets. The matter was discussed at the January 27, 2003 Council meeting, specifically regarding Westmont Village. Mr. Fisher made it clear at that time that the City should not be maintaining streets, including snow plowing, that have not been accepted. It appeared to her from the information that perhaps the DPW director continued to have a misunderstanding between last year and this year. It also appeared that there was not enough administrative oversight over what the DPW’s understanding of the situation was, which was equally frustrating. The DPW did not catch the problem, nor did anyone in administration. It was not until she and Member Capello raised the issue about different subdivisions that the matter was before Council. She felt that communication needed to improve, as did policy understanding and follow-up to ensure proper implementation. She would support column B in the report with the proviso that snow plowing continue until spring, hopefully with some better oversight from administration and better understanding from the DPW director.
Mayor Csordas commented that he understood Member Lorenzo’s frustration. He felt obligated to say that the street acceptance status map was very enlightening, and that there were 55 miles of light green coded roads, indicating de facto acceptance. Council is trying to catch up with prior practices, and the map was very eye opening. For the balance of the build-out of the City, these issues must be addressed. The City will deal with what it has been burdened with as best it can.
Member Capello said that before the time it snows again next year, the City should have all of the de facto accepted streets either in the acceptance mode or in some type of litigious mode with the developers. He saw the problem as being with the ordinance and with the administration and developers, certainly not with the homeowners who deserve to have their streets plowed whether the City has accepted them or not. It is certainly no fault of the Department of Public Works to go out to those subdivisions and make sure that the streets are safe, and that neighbors and residents can get out of their streets when it snows whether or not they have been accepted. He commended what the DPW has been doing, and hoped that they would continue to do so with the direction of administration.
Member Nagy concurred with the previous speaker in terms of the DPW. Whether or not their streets have been accepted, residents pay their taxes, and they are due that the City provides for their health, safety and welfare. She had no gripe with the DPW, and felt that they have done an excellent job throughout this snow season. She believed that the City would be working on an ordinance as to how it accepts streets. Years ago there was a process, and she felt that some of the problem is the City’s fault for not having a specific process in place.
Member Capello asked Mr. Helwig if it would be unreasonable to, by the end of March, have at least an introductory meeting together with the committee established to move the item forward.
Mr. Helwig said that a memo would be coming to Council which he had just signed off on for Thursday’s packet which discussed some ideas to consider about the private sector representatives on that committee to go along with Members Paul and Capello. There is other work being done on financial guarantees by Marina Neumaier that will be done in March. Council had tasked administration to have the task done by June 30th. The first meeting of the group would be at the beginning of April, and all of the research from the staff perspective would be provided for Council’s deliberation then.
Member Capello asked if the committee would not be assembled until April.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was the staff recommendation. The City could make better use of Council’s time if it had all of the other things together, because of the financial guarantee component, as well as the research on the construction standards and what other street acceptance policies are in other more mature communities.
Member Capello asked if the expected time frame was for the beginning of April.
Mr. Helwig responded that this was correct, so that Council can complete its work by June 30th with time to spare.
Member Paul noted that the City receives Act 51 money for plowing the 55 miles of de facto accepted roads. She asked how much money that would be, and suggested that the DPW director could share that information with Council during its budget sessions. Hopefully with the paving, the City may be able to update some equipment or hire another person. More subdivisions are being added to the community without adding more staff for the maintenance of those roads. She asked that the DPW director provide information to Council during its budget sessions as to what the Act 51 money could be for the 55 miles of de facto accepted roads.
Mayor Csordas said that the City is already accepting Act 51 money for those 55 miles of roads.
Mr. Helwig said that the roads are de facto accepted because the City is already receiving Act 51 money.
Member Paul commented that there are several other miles of roads of a different color on the map that the City is not receiving Act 51 money for. She would like information on what that funding might be.
Mr. Fisher recommended a motion to bring the full weight of Council’s policy making authority behind whatever action the City should take.
CM-04-02-056 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To continue the maintenance until the end of April, 2004 on subdivisions identified as not officially accepted. Prior to the next winter, Council hopes to have a new policy in place for the acceptance of roads.
Member Capello said that as he understood the motion, it was to continue to plow the streets on the City’s Act 51 list, but not to plow streets not on the Act 51 list which the City has not previously been maintaining. Those that are not on the Act 51 list, but which the City is maintaining, should continue to be snow plowed. He asked for a friendly amendment to continue this maintenance until the end of April.
Member Lorenzo said she would be agreeable to this.
Member Capello said this was truly option "A" on page 2 of Mr. Fisher’s letter to Council.
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-056 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Mr. Fisher commented that the motion was actually a sort of combination of options A and B in the letter. The City should give notice to anybody in the category which will have maintenance stopped after this year.
Member Capello noted that he was assuming the matter would be resolved by the end of the year.
Mr. Helwig thanked Council for the time devoted to reports that evening.
– Ordinance change prohibiting liquor license profiteering
Mr. Fisher presented a packet of information to Council. His office had assembled a concept for Council’s future review, included in that packet. The City has made contact with the manager of executive services from the LCC to inquire the thoughts of the LCC on this notion, and the LCC indicated that they have not seen this concept before and cannot really make a commitment one way or another as to how they would handle the matter. His experience with the LCC is that if the City is not relying on them for enforcement and will "take care of its own house", if the quota license is issued by the City and will go into escrow within a 3-year period, the City would then enter into a contract at the time of the license issuance with a view that at the time the license goes into escrow within a 3-year period, the City would have the right to retrieve and reissue the license. This would not cost the new issuee money to be paid to the first person that got the license. Taking into consideration that there are certain circumstances that may be justifiable, these were listed in the document. For example, if somebody dies or becomes incapacitated, this may be a reason to excuse a harsh treatment under this type of ordinance. That notion, along with the agreement, would be the key ingredients. In all likelihood, when it got to the point of a license that the City would want to reissue, the LCC, in his expectation, would not interfere with the City’s enforcement. The LCC would not enforce the issue for the City, and the City would essentially be left to its own devices. Just to make sure that the City did not get into the middle of a problem, the way the document is written, the license would not be issued to the new applicant until everything is taken care of with the old applicant. They would be given notice and be allowed to object, and the City would not be making a commitment to a new licensee until such time as all those problems are worked out. If Council likes this general prospect as developed, he would put it into ordinance form and bring it back.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher if he was suggesting that Council read the documentation and bring it back on an attorney report for a future meeting.
Mr. Fisher replied that this could be done.
Mayor Csordas believed that the matter was initiated by Member Capello. He asked if this was satisfactory to him.
Member Capello replied that this was ok. He said that it seemed that the City would just be withholding a transfer for 3 years. He asked if there was a way to put some kind of condition precedent on the actual transfer for 3 years, or condition subsequent that the City could get the license back.
Mr. Fisher said this was the idea of the proposal.
Member Capello asked if this would allow the City to take the license back and give it out again, as opposed to restricting what the transfers are.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was the intent of his proposal.
John Garabelli, Cheltenham resident, thanked the Mayor and Council for their support in trying to resolve the lack of dedicated roads in the Cheltenham subdivision. He was confident that Council would resolve the matter, and he asked that the City continue to work on it. He knew that there was an executive session following the regular meeting that evening. He requested that a letter be sent to all 28 homes in Cheltenham in the near future, noting that he understood the matter was going through litigation. He thanked Council for its support.
Paul Aramian, Meadowbrook Town Homes, thanked Council for its assistance in support the residents efforts at Meadowbrook Town Homes. Those residents came to Novi thinking that they would find a dream, and instead things because a bit out of kilter. He also thanked Mr. Saven, Mr. Pearson and Mr. Helwig for their efforts. He said that in reference to a comment by Member Capello about timing as far as sod, sod should be installed by 6 months after phase I is completed. He has lived there for 2 ½ years, and is still walking on a slippery hilly, clay base. The City’s ordinances do require that the landscaping be fully sodded 6 months after completion of the final certificate of occupancy in each phase. He said that residents do have an uphill battle ahead of them with the construction.
Carol Crawford, Beck Road, wished to speak to two points. She had noticed in the agenda that the Mayor would deal with the Beck Road speed limit between Nine Mile and Ten Mile Roads. She hoped that the speed limit would remain at 40 miles per hour, as this has helped a great deal in moving traffic along. She also wished to make a suggestion on the way that individuals are interviewed and nominated for boards and commissions. She realized that Council normally writes votes on paper and that these are tallied. Unlike the Planning Commission or the Library Board, it is the duty of the Mayor to make recommendations. She felt that out of courtesy and kindness, if somebody is not nominated for a position that applied, they should be contacted with a phone call and told that their name will not be on the nomination list. This is just a common courtesy. It is hurtful to citizens to not be nominated and not know that they will not be nominated. She felt that this year’s interviews have been much better and kinder than in years past, but this would add one more kindness to the process.
Mayor Csordas said that Ms. Crawford’s suggestion was an excellent recommendation, and he would be sure to do this in the future.
Ken Nanda understood that there was an executive meeting following that evening’s regular Council meeting with regards to the Cheltenham subdivision. He wished to say a few words before that meeting. He wanted to assure the Cheltenham homeowners and the City Council that the Cheltenham roads are intended to eventually become public roads. He has no intention of making these private roads. The situation that has developed is because of certain issues that have developed over a period of time. He hoped that it would be kept in mind that this was not an effort by him to change the roads’ status from public to private; rather, this is just an interim situation. The issues that have been discussed have been issues with the City regarding the releasing of lot 3, and other issues with the developers of Wilshire Abbey, previously Mr. Lokey and now Mr. Rossi. There was a meeting with Mr. Fisher, himself and his attorney, Mr. Rossi, and some City officials that was intended to resolve these issues. In that meeting, Mr. Fisher told Mr. Rossi that a second easement must be provided. Mr. Rossi said he could not do this because Mr. Lokey would not grant it. Mr. Fisher then told Mr. Rossi that this was his problem. Secondly, an issue was brought by him that in case a road becomes public and reopened, construction traffic may destroy the roads. Mr. Nanda wanted to know if he would have to pay for this damage, and Mr. Rossi questioned how he would know if the damage to Mr. Nanda’s roads was because of his traffic. Mr. Rossi felt that perhaps the roads may be poorly constructed to begin with, which is why they would be destroyed. Mr. Nanda said that at the December 16 Council meeting, his attorney, Leroy Asher, requested that Mr. Rossi should provide the construction bond. Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Rossi’s attorney at that meeting if Mr. Rossi would post a construction bond. Mr. Rossi’s attorney replied "certainly", which was the end of the discussion. Mr. Nanda asked where that bond now was, as he had not seen it. Mr. Asher had written two letters to Mr. Fisher, one on December 22nd, the other January 15th, where they specially requested that they wanted a construction bond so that roads would not be damaged. He has not seen any response to those letters, or any bond. Mr. Nanda said that if he had any other reason for choosing to postpone the dedication of the road, it is because he is afraid that if the City starts litigation and he is forced to open the roads, they will be destroyed and he will have a bill for $200,000. He wanted Council to know that mistakes have been made by Mr. Rossi and Mr. Lokey, but the City is only picking on him to sue him. He questioned why the City is not suing Mr. Rossi, as he made a public commitment to write a bond, but has not done so in 2 ½ months. Mr. Lokey took it upon himself to provide a secondary emergency access, but has not done this. The City is singling him out in order to sue him. Mr. Rossi is sitting very happy, not bothering to negotiate because he knows that Mr. Nanda is being attacked and beaten by the City. Mistakes have been made by the City, Mr. Lokey and Mr. Rossi. Everyone must do their parts and have a meeting of the minds to resolve their issues. He feels that the City has been biased against him in terms of various statements made by the City. He asked Council to be fair and impartial. Mr. Rossi is the only person who will benefit from the proceedings. The City should leave him alone to work with the other developer and "iron out" the issues of the easement and other problems.
Terry Margolis, President of the Novi Library Board, said that at the previous week’s Library Board meeting, a strategic planning task force presented their report. This report was the result of countless hours by that committee. There were stakeholder representatives from a variety of groups, including the Novi School District, the City Council, the business community, library customers, the Library Board, and staff members. Last April, the Library Board charged this task force with the responsibility to gather information and draft a proposed mission, vision, and long-range goals for the Library. The community can see this report at the Library, or off of the Novi Public Library website, novi.lib.mi.us. The task force did an outstanding job of gathering demographic data and listening to the community through public forums, surveys, and focus groups. The document that they produced is a comprehensive look at the community’s needs and the goals that will allow the Library to fill those needs. The Board will be using this document to plan a long-range strategic plan that will guide the Library for the next 3 to 5 years. The Board welcomes the Council’s and community’s input on the plan, as it has not yet been approved by the Board. The completion of this plan comes at an opportune time. The Library recently approved a gift agreement with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Walker, who are donating $1 million for capital projects, and have offered to match up to another $1 million in donation. The Board is well positioned to capitalize on this generous gift. She also wished to clarify a misstatement that was made during Council interviews with Library Board applicants two weeks prior. It was stated during one interview that the Novi Library’s budget is in deficit. This is not true, and she wished to clear this up for everyone’s benefit. The Library currently has a fund balance. Often, non-profit organizations call this their "rainy day fund." The Library’s fund balance is currently at approximately $370,000, which is about 16% of their operating budget. It is generally accepted that an organization should have 10-15% of its fund balance to cover unusual opportunities. The Library is in fact over that amount, which is very prudent considering the age of the building and the chance for often-needed repairs. Thanks to conservative budgeting, the Library ended its last fiscal year with a surplus of almost $100,000. Some of this surplus was due to deferred repairs of the building’s entrance, to incorporate improvements to the handicap parking and access. This work was completed this year and is under budget. If the Library continues in the current trend, it will also be under the estimated total expenses by the end of the year. Unlike many boards and commissions of the City, the Library Board is not an advisory board, but rather is a governing board of the organization that it represents. The Board will continue to be fiscally responsible and prudent in the use of taxpayers’ money. There are always reports in the Board packets that are available at the Library, including financial reports. The Board looks forward to Council’s input into its strategic plan. They also will be having a reception for Mr. Walker and his family, which the Council and public will be invited to.
Mark Sturing, 22631 Foxmoor, said he had expressed an interest in the Library Board earlier. While Council was conducting interviews two weeks earlier, he was unfortunately out of town. He has been a member of the community for 14 years, and a member of the building authority since it was created. The Library Board has many opportunities and challenges before it in the near future, and if Council saw fit he would be willing to serve in that capacity.
Gary Rickard, 25348 Buckminster, said he moved to Novi in 1990 and he has no complaints.
CONSENT AGENDA (Approval/Removals)
Member Paul removed Item Q for discussion.
Member Capello removed Item L for discussion.
Member Lorenzo removed Items C, M, and N for discussion.
CM-04-02-057 Moved by Landry, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Consent Agenda as amended.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-057 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
A. Approve Minutes of:
1. January 26, 2004 – Regular meeting
2. February 2, 2004 – Regular meeting
3. February 9, 2004 – Interview meeting
B. Schedule Executive Session immediately following the regular meeting of February 23, 2004 in the Council Annex for the purposes of discussing and considering material exempt from disclosure by state statute, specifically being privileged and confidential legal opinions from the City Attorney relative to 1) Legal issues and alternative actions in connection with the streets/access for the Cheltenham Estates and Wilshire Abbey Subdivisions; and 2) Interpretation of the Consent Judgment and Settlement Agreement in Sandstone v. City of Novi relative to development of the property.
D. Approval of Traffic Control Orders:
·04-01 for the installation of a yield sign on westbound Dartmoor Drive at Barclay Drive in Barclay Estates;
·04-02 for the installation of a yield sign on northbound York Mills Circle at Dartmoor Drive in Barclay Estates;
·04-03 for the installation of a yield sign on southbound Hazelton Court at Dartmoor Drive in Barclay Estates;
·04-04 for the installation of a yield sign on westbound York Mills Circle at Barclay Drive in Barclay Estates;
·04-05 for the installation of a yield sign on eastbound Barclay Court at Barclay Drive in Barclay Estates;
·04-06 for the installation of a yield sign on westbound Perth Court at Barclay Drive in Barclay Estates.
E. Approval of renewal of Massage Business License requested by The Sports Club of Novi, 42500 Arena Drive.
F. Approval of renewal of Massage Business License requested by Salone’ Nadwa & Day Spa, 43236 Eleven Mile Road.
G. Approval of renewal of Pawnbroker and Precious Items Dealer Licenses requested by Weinstein Jewelers, 41990 Grand River.
H. Approval to award bid for Janitorial Services to Road Runr, the low bidder, in the amount of $93,660 (annually).
I. Approval to award bid for Mailing Equipment to Automated Mailing Solutions, the low bidder, in the amount of $8,920.
J. Approval to purchase two (2) in-car camera systems for new patrol vehicles #218 and #219 from Mobile Vision, in the amount of $4,630.
K. Approval of resolution to authorize the purchase of Additional Credited Service by employee.
O. Approval of Storm Drainage Facility maintenance Agreement with Asbury Park Development, L. L. C. and Asbury Park Homeowners Association, Inc.
P. Resolution to authorize Budget Amendment #2004-6.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part I
1. Approval of Resolution Number 3 for the Woodham Drive Water Main Extension – Special Assessment District Number 171 directing the City Assessor to create the roll for the Special Assessment District.
CM-04-02-058 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Resolution Number 3 for the Woodham Drive Water Main Extension – Special Assessment District Number 171 directing the City Assessor to create the roll for the Special Assessment District.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-058 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
2. Consideration of Zoning Map Amendment 18.634 from REMAX 100 for rezoning of property in Section 16 located south of Grand River Avenue east of Beck Road from R-A (Residential Acreage) to OS-1 (Office Service). The subject property is 3.48 acres.
CM-04-02-059 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve of Zoning Map Amendment 18.634 from REMAX 100 for rezoning of property in Section 16 located south of Grand River Avenue east of Beck Road from R-A (Residential Acreage) to OS-1 (Office Service). The subject property is 3.48 acres.
Member Lorenzo noted that the proposed rezoning is consistent with the master plan and received a positive recommendation from the Planning Commission as well.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-059 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
3. Consideration of Zoning Map Amendment 18.636, a request of Scott A. Riddle for Detroit Hummer, to rezone property located in Section 24, north of Grand River Avenue and east of Meadowbrook Road, from B-3 (General Business) to GE (Gateway East). The subject site is approximately 6.721 acres.
Scott Riddle, the owner’s representative for Detroit Hummer, said that Gary Wood, the business owner, was fully intending to be in attendance that evening to show support for their request for the rezoning, but was unfortunately unable to attend. He said that he was happy to be back in front of Council that evening to request the rezoning for the northeast corner of Grand River and Meadowbrook for the development project of Hummer of Novi. The property has been rezoned to B-3 with a development agreement, and he was in front of Council to request that it be rezoned under the Gateway East District. If approved for the rezoning that evening, he looked forward to submitting a conceptual site plan for the City’s approval and review in accordance with the development agreement and with the Gateway East ordinance requirements.
CM-04-02-060 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve of Zoning Map Amendment 18.636, a request of Scott A. Riddle for Detroit Hummer, to rezone property located in Section 24, north of Grand River Avenue and east of Meadowbrook Road, from B-3 (General Business) to GE (Gateway East). The subject site is approximately 6.721 acres.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-060 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
4. Resolution Approving Building Authority Refunding and Contract (Ice Arena Bonds).
CM-04-02-061 Moved by Landry, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Resolution Approving Building Authority Refunding and Contract (Ice Arena Bonds).
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-061 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
5. Consideration of lifting from the table Council Motion 03-07-215 to reject the Singh Development Agreement (Uptown Park) as presented at the July 7, 2003 City Council meeting.
Mike Kahm, Singh Development Company, said he did not want to rehash the history of this development. Rather, he just wanted to take a few minutes to put it in perspective. His company and the City spent many hours discussing and debating the merits of rezoning this subject parcel from OST to RM-2. There was a collective agreement that, under the circumstances, the use of this property was appropriate for many reasons. One of the conditions discussed in a meeting last year prior to the July meeting was a condition that Council requested the use of the property be restricted to ownership. He said he was in attendance to commit to that condition. Singh is receptive to initiating a development agreement on the property for rezoning to ownership. The other item that was discussed at that meeting was density. When Singh submitted its application for the property, it requested rezoning to RM-2 and brought in a concept site plan. At that time, Singh was proposing a rental community. That rental community did not meet the favor of Council, so Singh has now agreed to make that ownership. The 201 units on that site plan were a concept for a very particular product under very particular circumstances. Now that Singh has taken that off the table, it is no longer an issue, and Singh is open to the use of the property for RM-2. He proposed that the development agreement entered into for the rezoning be quite simple. There are not many natural features on the property. There are ordinances in place governing the planning of this piece of property. He proposed simply rezoning the property to RM-2 with the condition that it be ownership, and allow the ordinances, the existing natural features of the property, and market conditions to dictate what type of product would be appropriate for the development of an ownership product on this location.
Mayor Csordas asked how many dwelling units would be allowed underneath the underlying zoning.
Mr. Kahm said that there are about 35 acres on the site collectively. Many of those are not buildable because of regulated wetlands, particularly in some regulated woodlands. The RM-2 district allows upwards of 20 units per acre depending on the size of the units and the combination of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units. In this scenario, there could arithmetically be 700 units. However, this is not physically possible. He suggested that parameters like parking, setbacks from natural features, and the preservation of the natural features themselves, will control and dictate how that property be planned and what kind of product goes there. He proposed allowing the natural forces in play for every other piece of property in the City to control what ends up there. He said he could not say that evening what might end up on the property at the time it is developed because of market demand.
Member Capello said that if he recalled correctly, the reason that Singh needed RM-2 was the soil conditions, and that certain foundations could not be constructed for certain heights of buildings.
Mr. Kahm replied that this was correct. One of the things discussed was that RM-2 allows a greater building height. Because of the restriction of the natural features, the buildable area on the property is quite limited. RM-2 is most appropriate given the surrounding uses and the fact that because of the features and the soil conditions which were precipitated as a result of the mall development some 30 years ago, it would support more of a vertical product than a sprawling development.
Member Capello asked if the City Council had restricted how many units Singh could have in the previous proposed development agreement.
Mr. Kahm replied that it was discussed, but as he recalled there was never a proposal restricting to a certain number.
Member Capello asked Mr. Kahm approximately how many units could be built on the site.
Mr. Kahm said that one concept was prepared years ago when Singh first bought the property. This was an elevator product with parking underneath the building, somewhat like the Enclaves. With that design, Singh was able to get four (4) 100-unit buildings. This is one example of what might go there if the market supports that type of housing.
Member Capello asked how many stories the concept that Mr. Kahm mentioned contained.
Mr. Kahm replied that the concept had 4 stories.
Member Capello asked if Singh had any idea what it was looking at developing on the site now.
Mr. Kahm replied that he did not know. Singh is not really a condominium developer, so the probability of the company developing this property is likely fairly remote. Once it was decided, and Singh agrees, that this is a for-sale product, Singh would take itself out of the equation as a developer. The company would likely go to another firm in the business for such a development.
Member Capello commented that usually Mr. Kahm knows more about a project when he comes before Council. He asked Mr. Kahm if he was only before Council because the City put the matter on the agenda to terminate consideration of the development agreement.
Mr. Kahm said the matter needed to be brought to a conclusion. Singh has committed, through many discussions over the past several months, and also at a meeting prior to the July 2003 Council meeting, Singh had consented to a for-sale product. He was really before Council to complete that negotiation and finalize a development agreement.
Member Lorenzo said she needed to reiterate what she had said the previous August when the matter was discussed. She would have been very willing to honor the contemplation of the development agreement that occurred between the then-Council and himself and Mr. Carson at the time when he came before Council for the initial rezoning request. When a Council makes a majority decision, future Councils have the responsibility of honoring that commitment. However, she was absent from the meeting at that time, and would not have voted in favor of rezoning the property because residential is not necessarily the best fit in Novi for this piece of property right now. Whether the best use is OST, OS-1, commercial, or something else, she was not sure of. However, residential is not the best thing for the City of Novi right now given the economic climate and the need for balance between residential and non-residential growth.
Member Lorenzo said that it was Member Csordas at the previous meeting that asked how many units would be installed in the development. The reply was 201. The motion that was made that evening was to direct the administration to draft a development agreement that reflected the proposal from the developer that night, and with the input from the City Council that night, for the City Council to vote on within the next 50 days. The two biggest components of the agreement that was contemplated that evening were that there would be 201 units, and Mr. Carson said they would commit to for-sale condos. If Council were discussing that same agreement this evening, she would have been supportive. However, since that agreement was not being discussed, she would not be able to support any proposal to rezone to straight RM-2. She did not feel that any residential zoning is what is needed in that part of town or in the City in general. Specifically, since Singh would not be the actual developer on the property, she did not have the level of trust to allow another developer to build on the property with RM-2. She said she would not be able to support the request.
Member Nagy said she was on the Planning Commission when the previous Council made the decision that the development would be for-sale condos and there would be 201 units. The City continues to increase density, but is not finding places to decrease it. Council just approved the Links of Novi development. Because of the Links of Novi project, other people want to increase density in that area as well. She noted that she did not blame Singh in any way for this. However, the City needs to decrease density in some places because it cannot afford to keep increasing density all over town. The ratio of apartments to housing is very high in the City. She does not want to see more apartments. There are a number of "for rent" signs up in the City right now, and apartments would not be a good use on the site. She would not support anything but what the motion at the previous Council contains and that Mr. Carson agreed to. The City cannot afford to keep changing the zoning on properties.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he did not support the rezoning idea in the first place. He disagreed with changing the OST; however, he did go along with Council last December with the view towards a development agreement that would limit it to 201 owner-occupied units. He could not support just allowing any density that would be allowed under RM-2, which by calculations could be 667 2-bedroom units, or 499 3-bedroom units. That density is not contemplated for this particular area, so he could not support it. He asked if, were he to make a motion, the motion would be made to lift the issue from the table, and the matter would just ‘die’ if the majority of Council agreed with him.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct.
The motion was to life CM-03-07-215 from the table.
CM-04-02-062 Moved by Landry, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To lift from the table Council Motion 03-07-215 to reject the Singh Development Agreement (Uptown Park) as presented at the July 7, 2003 City Council meeting.
Mr. Fisher noted that the motion was essentially to put on the table for action a motion to reject the proposal without the density cap.
Member Capello said he had the same concerns about the increase of the density which Council agreed to, 201, to 600. It is unlike Mr. Kahm to come in and not have any options.
Mr. Kahm said the discussion was evolutionary the evening that the motion was made. Singh originally had a site plan for 201 units and their intention that evening was to get it rezoned with no use restrictions. The use restrictions came up later on in the discussion. The 201 units of that site plan, which was conceptual, were dragged along with the discussion. Mr. Carson, on Singh’s behalf, did commit to for-sale housing, which is what Singh was doing again this evening. He said his comment about the 700 units was somewhat facetious. There is no way in the world that 700 units could be placed on the site, let alone the number that Mayor Pro Tem Landry had mentioned. If there was a number that Council would be comfortable with that is more in the realm of reality, but somewhere beyond what a very specific site plan with a very specific use was contemplated when originally presented nearly a year ago, Singh would be very receptive to this. Singh would be willing to limit the number of units to a reasonable number; the company just feels that 201 is somewhat unreasonable because it was for a very specific site plan. Under that plan, the development proposed all 3-car garages.
Member Capello asked Mr. Kahm if he had anything else in mind.
Mr. Kahm asked if Council would be receptive to 300 units. This is probably an extreme number that cannot even be done, but he requested the planning flexibility for this amount. He would like to create a plan that fits the market without restricting that market.
Member Capello noted that the issue had been at the Council table for a very long time, and said he was reluctant to table it again. He asked why Singh had not proposed something more concrete for Council to contemplate.
Mr. Kahm said he was not trying to pre-site plan the parcel for anybody. There are a number of condominium developers in the community who are far more creative in this market than Singh is. If Council wished Singh to plan an apartment project, he works on these all day long. Some of their apartment projects are certainly very condominium-convertible. However, there are products that meet certain market niches that may be outside of the things that Singh does. The company just wants to leave this flexibility open without having a project that would be detrimental to the City. Whatever Singh does, it would not allow the project to harm the City. The 201-unit site plan was quite site and product specific and does not really relate to anything of reality any longer.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry felt that the motion had to lift the original motion, 03-07-215, from the table first.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the original motion would first need to be lifted. Then, Council could address whether to approve, disapprove, or make any additions or changes.
Mr. Fisher agreed with the Mayor Pro Tem.
Member Paul said she had two problems with the site. The highest tax base, OST, was being taken off, and the lowest tax base, RM-2 was being zoned. This would mean more density, more traffic, and less money. She did not support the rezoning.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-062 Yeas: Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo
Mayor Csordas noted that the question now before Council was whether to address the density issue.
CM-04-02-063 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To reject the Singh proposal without a density cap.
Mr. Fisher noted that the issue now on the floor was made at the prior meeting.
Member Lorenzo said she supported the motion. She felt that Council has tried to understand over the past 14 months and provide the applicant and their representatives a lot of time. Council has been very reasonable. Because Mr. Kahm does not truly have any specific ideas in mind for the property and has been candid with Council that Singh will probably sell the this project or property to someone else, it should be the next proprietor of the project to come in and make their case for a rezoning from OST. The property should go back to OST, and if the next property owner comes in with an idea and wants it rezoned, they can pitch their argument to Council with a specific number of units that Singh could not propose this evening. She felt that it was time for closure for this particular rezoning. Unfortunately it did not work for both parties. She wished Mr. Kahm luck in selling the property to whoever will buy it. However, the new property owner should have to make their case for rezoning to anything than OST.
Member Nagy concurred with the previous speaker. She would be very uncomfortable rezoning without knowing more information for the site. It would not be good business practice on Council’s part to rezone without knowing what would be done. She appreciates the things that Singh has done in the City and knows that they are good developers. She would still like to see OST built on the property, but was not willing to do anything unless she knows who the next property owner is.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that one of the reasons that he would be comfortable entering into a development agreement in this situation is because it is with Singh. There have been numerous examples where Singh has indicated that they will produce a good product the City knows that it can rely on the company. This is a respect that has developed over the years. In this situation, however, Singh will likely not be the developer of this property, which concerns him. He echoed the statements of the previous speakers, that Council truly appreciates Singh’s candor. This is one thing that would keep the relationship going. Many projects are going to happen in Novi, not just this one, and he appreciated Mr. Kahm’s candor on this particular project. If Mr. Kahm has concluded that Singh cannot make money at the original density, this is a business decision that the company must make. He could not agree to the increased density and would not feel comfortable negotiating a density with Mr. Kahm that no one was certain would be accurate. He supported the motion to deny the motion at this time.
Member Capello asked Mr. Kahm if he would rather have the motion denied, or if he would want the 201-unit density.
Mr. Kahm said that if Member Capello was suggesting that evening that he had a choice between the denial or the 201 units, he would take the 201 units. Council had earlier seen a very large book that Singh spent a great deal of time putting together in support of why the property does not make sense for OST zoning. He did not expect to get into that discussion that evening because he thought that the parties had moved past this, which he was wrong about. There is an enormous amount of information that has been assembled, not the least of which is Rod Arroyo’s own traffic study about the impact of OST versus RM-2, which shows that RM-2 is less. Perhaps erroneously, he was under the impression that the parties collectively understood that the RM-2 use made sense for this particular piece of property. The City’s master plan study mentioned that the property was probably overstated to be OST property and probably should be multi-family. This information is all included in the large book that Council had seen before.
Mr. Carson said that some of the criteria should be mentioned because he believed that what had been stated this evening was the lower return from a tax standpoint of having the property rezoned to RM-2 for the uses that have been contemplated versus OST, thus giving a much lesser yield to the City. This is exactly opposite of what the facts are. It is not a conceptual concept that is available to the City so far as the information which Singh has developed is in the marketplace and has been presented to Council. The City does not have a choice as to whether a development can go forward as RM-2 with a cap or OST at this time. In fact, what has been demonstrated to the City is that OST will not go in on this site for the foreseeable future. Singh has provided information to the City with respect to that. Therefore, the City does not have a choice to keep this OST and see an OST product in the foreseeable future. That foreseeable future is 10 or 15 years from now. The City will never, assuming that the assumption is made that OST will provide a higher yield, will never make up the difference to a product that could be built at this time in RM-2 and an OST product that may come sometime in the future. Vacancies are high now and there is competitive product all over the place that is not built, including the City’s own property along Meadowbrook Road. This project as OST will not go forward for the next 10, 15 or 20 years, if at all. The project can go forward as residential. The property itself has extreme difficulties that have been discussed at length. The parcel has substantial natural features, which are the wetlands/woodlands areas, and has extreme soil conditions which were created in no small measure by the development of the Twelve Oaks mall. The site cannot support large platform buildings with large footprints. The issue to the respect to the kind of product is going to be not markedly different from a product that Singh would have built, in the sense that it would be acceptable for for-sale product. The development will be a high quality product, no matter which of the developers build it. Singh has been forthright enough to say that they do not consider themselves a developer for for-sale product. They have considered that the product that they would have built, which was acceptable to Council at that time, was from a quality standpoint comparable to anything that would be built as a for-sale product. From a traffic standpoint, soil standpoint, and from a density standpoint, Singh is not asking to "increase" density. There is a high-rise next to the property.
Mr. Carson said that it was important to remember the circumstances of the proposal. Singh could build the property out for somebody else, but has come forward to tell the City that there would be another credible developer. Singh is willing to say, with the development agreement, that it will cap the density at some number. The product that Singh wanted with 3-car garages is unusual. The company felt that a very high quality product with 3-car garages is not very common. They could have gotten the type of yield on the land in this situation that would have made it feasible for the City from an income standpoint comparable to OST, certainly beyond OST given the timeframe. Somebody else who comes in might install 2-car garages, which would create more than 200 units. The development can be capped at some kind of number that the City would understand is not an increase in density, but a reduction in the density that otherwise would have been available, for a product that would have been worthwhile to the City.
Mr. Carson said that there is tremendous stress around the country with respect to past retail developments. Past retail developments go all the way from what are called to strip centers or power centers to enclosed malls. The concept is what makes these developments vital into the future. This has also been looked at downtown areas or new urbanism. The same things hold true for malls. The one thing that makes these malls and retail establishments viable into the future and enables people to be able to rehabilitate them and get the appropriate kinds of retail tenants there is density, energy, people, and people who live in proximity to these areas. The property has a natural feature, the little pond that sits there. There is other residential property around it, and a mall next to it. The City could use, in the area of both the mall and the surrounding community including Main Street, to have more residences around there. The City Council chose, for whatever reason, to say the use is appropriate, but that it does not want rental properties. Whatever the rational was for this, it was the position of the City Council. They can bring residences forward which will benefit the City from a tax standpoint, use the natural features to an advantage, and which will have an appropriate cap on density. Singh wishes that the City Council will consider this.
Mayor Csordas said that for clarification, he knew that most members of Council had the referred-to book, and he recalled reading the things that Mr. Carson had addressed. He did not believe that Member Gatt had had the opportunity to see the document.
Mr. Carson said Singh would be happy to delay the matter to give everyone a chance to look at those materials again.
Member Capello said it was his recollection that Council did not necessarily say that residential was the proper use of the property. Council had said that residential might work there, but it wanted more of a permanent type of resident, not a transient tenant type. This was in trying to create a little community there that was not transient, with Uptown Place, the senior citizen center and the Enclave. It was not that Council had said that residential was the greatest thing in the world and that the City needed residential there. Rather, the City Council was trying to work with Singh and give the option to with residential with the permanency of owner-occupied units.
Mayor Csordas asked the City Clerk to restate the motion.
Ms. Cornelius replied that the motion on the floor was to reject the proposal without the density cap.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-063 Yeas: Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy
6. Appointments to Boards and Commissions.
Mayor Csordas noted that appointments were for the Beautification Commission, the Board of Review, the Cable Access Committee, the Construction Board of Appeals, the Historical Commission, and the Novi Building Authority.
Member Paul asked Mayor Csordas to clarify the number of people to vote for on the second page for the Economic Development Corporation. Two terms end on 3/1/09.
Mayor Csordas replied that 3 people should be voted for. The term should be written next to the applicant’s name.
Ms. Cornelius clarified that for the second page, Mayor Csordas would bring forward the names.
Member Capello asked if there were 3 terms available ending 3/1/09.
Ms. Cornelius replied that this was correct.
Member Capello asked if there were 5 terms available with 4 people for the Economic Development Committee.
Ms. Cornelius answered that this was correct.
Member Capello asked if Council was to make 3 appointments for the Library Board for the 3 terms available.
Ms. Cornelius noted that the Library Board has 2 terms that will end on 3/1/07, and one term that will end on 3/1/05, a vacancy that was created when Kim Taylor-Papp resigned from the Library Board.
Mayor Csordas noted that for the Economic Development Corporation, there are 2 terms ending on 3/1/09, 1 term ending 3/1/07, and 2 terms 3/1/05.
CM-04-02-064 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint John Dostal to the Economic Development Committee with a term ending 3/1/09.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-064 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
CM-04-02-065 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Pete Hoadley to the Economic Development Committee with a term ending 3/1/09.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-065 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
CM-04-02-066 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Capello; MOTION CARRIED: To appoint Robert Churella to the Economic Development Committee with a term ending 3/1/07.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-066 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Paul, Csordas, Landry
CM-04-02-067 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Angela Palacios to the Economic Development Committee with a term ending 3/1/05.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-067 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
Mayor Csordas noted that the Library Board required 2 nominations for terms ending 3/1/07, and 1 nomination with a term ending 3/1/05.
CM-04-02-068 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Carol Bauer to the Library Board with a term ending 3/1/07.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-068 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
CM-04-02-069 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Robert Cutler to the Library Board for a term expiring 3/1/05.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-069 Yeas: Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo
CM-04-02-070 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Capello; MOTION CARRIED: To appoint Mark Sturing to the Library Board for a term expiring 3/1/07.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-070 Yeas: Nagy, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo
Jim Dales, Northville, said he is one of the principals of the Post Bar. He introduced John Thompson of Beverley Hills, the Post Bar’s general manager. There has recently been a great deal of discussion about the Post Bar by Council and in the newspaper. He offered to open up dialogue on the establishment that evening if desired, or as an agenda item for a future meeting if it would be more appropriate. He understands that a liquor license comes with a certain amount of responsibility and trust. The Post Bar has operated successfully in a lot of locations for a long time. The Novi business took off very quickly from the start, which may have taken management a bit by surprise. Thus, the Post Bar may not have done as good of a job as with other places. Management has worked hard at addressing those issues. These cannot all be tackled overnight, but they are making process. Some of the recent reports indicate this. They have worked closely with Chief Shaeffer. They just wanted to make themselves available to Council for discussion if desired.
Mayor Csordas thanked Mr. Dales for his comments. Mr. Dales’ simply being in attendance and discussion demonstrated his willingness to work with the City. He noted that by Roberts’ Rules, the Council was not allowed to respond to Mr. Dales’ comments at this time. He advised Mr. Dales to contact the Clerk’s office if he desired the Post Bar to be placed on a future agenda. It said a lot that Mr. Dales and Mr. Thompson were concerned enough to come and address Council.
BREAK AT 9:53 PM
(Resumed at 10:05)
Mayor Csordas asked the City Clerk to read the ballot results for board and commission appointments.
Ms. Cornelius said that for the Beautification Commission, both Barbara Greenburg and Moira Robinson were elected to terms.
For the Board of Review, Marjorie Nanian was elected.
For the Cable Access Committee, Art Cervi was elected.
For the Construction Board of Appeals, Lee Mamola was elected.
For the Historical Commission, Kathleen Mutch was elected.
For the Novi Building Authority, Larry Czekaj was elected.
Mayor Csordas congratulated everyone who was elected to a board or commission, and thanked everyone who interviewed for all of the positions.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part II
7. Consideration of Ordinance No. 04-100.33 to amend an Ordinance, Chapter 28, "Signs," of the City of Novi Code to implement a Municipal Civil Infraction Penalty. – Second Reading
CM-04-02-071 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Ordinance No. 04-100.33 to amend an Ordinance, Chapter 28, "Signs," of the City of Novi Code to implement a Municipal Civil Infraction Penalty. – Second Reading.
Member Capello commented that the change in the ordinance was apparently a change for a sign violation from a criminal offense to a civil infraction. Council had received a letter from Sean and Peter from the Novi Pizza Company that provided some good suggestions for the ordinance regarding a short period of time, once a year type of special signage. He wanted those people to know that Council was not ignoring their suggestions, but that they just did not fit into this particular ordinance at this time.
Mr. Helwig reminded Council that those suggestions would be on the next week’s agenda.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-071 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
8. Consideration of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.187 to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, of Ordinance 97-18, as amended, for the purpose of amending Article 38 to implement a Municipal Civil Infraction Penalty for violation of the Zoning Ordinance, and Article 2 to provide additional definitions. – Second Reading
CM-04-02-072 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.187 to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, of Ordinance 97-18, as amended, for the purpose of amending Article 38 to implement a Municipal Civil Infraction Penalty for violation of the Zoning Ordinance, and Article 2 to provide additional definitions. – Second Reading.
Member Capello said he still had a problem with the changed language. If somebody comes to the Planning Commission and gets site plan approval subject to a ZBA variance subject to conditions of consultants, technically if they don’t go through and perform those conditions, even if they don’t develop, they could be violating this ordinance and be charged with a civil infraction. This was what he was trying to avoid with his last suggestion regarding a language change.
Mr. Fisher asked Member Capello if was referring to a person never develop a site based upon that approval.
Member Capello read from the amendment: "who fails to comply with the regulatory measures or permanent approvals, including conditions thereon, adopted or granted, shall be responsible of a municipal civil infraction." He knows that the City does not intend this, but he could read that the language says this.
Mr. Fisher said that if a person does not build, they cannot be out of compliance with the approval.
Member Capello said that if an approval is obtained, it states that certain conditions must be met. The amendment does not say that if a development approval is obtained, the development must begin before a violation occurs. It just says that once the approval is obtained, if the conditions are not met then a violation occurs.
Mr. Fisher said that if he were to take this theory of violation into court, the judge would never allow him to return to the courtroom.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Fisher if conditions placed on a request by an administrative body conditions precedent. If somebody wants to do something, they first have to abide by that condition in order to gain approval. If they do nothing, then they are not bound by the condition precedent.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct and a very fair implication.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-072 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
9. Consideration of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.186 to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, Section 2507.3, of Ordinance No. 97-18, as amended, in order to amend the Ordinance relating to the off-street loading and unloading standards in any I (Industrial) District, Expo (Exposition) District, or Exo (Exposition Overlay) District abutting Residential Districts within the City Of Novi. – Second Reading
CM-04-02-073 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.186 to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, Section 2507.3, of Ordinance No. 97-18, as amended, in order to amend the Ordinance relating to the off-street loading and unloading standards in any I (Industrial) District, Expo (Exposition) District, or Exo (Exposition Overlay) District abutting Residential Districts within the City Of Novi. – Second Reading
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-073 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
10. Approval to award the Construction Administrative and Inspection Services contract for the Taft Road Water Main Extension – Phase 2 to JCK & Associates, Inc. in the not-to-exceed amount of $42,465.
CM-04-02-074 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Capello; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to award the Construction Administrative and Inspection Services contract for the Taft Road Water Main Extension – Phase 2 to JCK & Associates, Inc. in the not-to-exceed amount of $42,465.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-074 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COUNCIL ACTION: (Consent Agenda items, which have been removed for discussion and/or action)
C. Approval of request from the developer of Walden Woods II Subdivision for a variance to Sec. 11-123(c)(7) of the City of Novi Design & Construction Standards to allow a greater than 1:4 side slope on one side of the existing retention basin on Cheyenne Drive – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said the question that she had on this item was how the City got into a situation where development did not comply with the City’s ordinance. She asked if somebody inspected that the development met the 1:4 slope.
Ms. McClain responded that the project had been inspected at a couple of places along the way. When it was first inspected, it met the slope. It was then rechecked during landscaping and no longer met the slope. The item was added as a punch list item to replace it again. One of the issues of meeting the slope is that it will be right next to somebody’s driveway in order to meet the slope. The other 3 sides do meet the correct slope. This is the last outstanding item to get this project done with acceptance. If the City asks the developer to go in and correct the slope, grading will be done onto the neighboring residential property to get that corrected at this point.
Member Lorenzo asked how the City got into a situation where the slope was created so closely to residential property.
Ms. McClain replied that she was not completely sure about this.
Member Lorenzo asked how the project was approved so close to residential land.
Ms. McClain said that the situation had taken about 5 years to deal with. Her understanding was that the slope was initially done correctly, but was changed as a result of landscaping and was not immediately noticed until what should have been a last punch list check was done. The slope looked out of place, and the grade was rechecked on it.
Member Lorenzo asked if the slope was creating any adverse situations with water such as flooding.
Ms. McClain noted that the area in question was the side bank slope going into the pond. It is only a little steeper than the City would normally allow.
Member Lorenzo said that as long as there are no adverse impacts from the slope being altered, she would support that item.
CM-04-02-075 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Consent Agenda Item C, request from the developer of Walden Woods II Subdivision for a variance to Sec. 11-123(c)(7) of the City of Novi Design & Construction Standards to allow a greater than 1:4 side slope on one side of the existing retention basin on Cheyenne Drive.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-075 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
L. Approval to seek bids for 2004 Spring Street Tree planting – Member Capello
Member Capello said he actually intended to pull Item M, so he had no objection to Item L.
CM-04-02-076 Moved by Capello, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Consent Agenda Item L, Approval to seek bids for 2004 Spring Street Tree planting.
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-076 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
M. Approval to apply for a Tree Planting Grant, for a maximum grant award of $20,000 (City’s grant share is $32,000) – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said she pulled this item because she thought that the cost estimate for the grant writing proposal was rather unreasonable. If it is calculated out, McKenna Associates, who was approved as the City’s grant writer, gave an estimate of $80 per hour. That figures into 15 hours for this grant. She looked through the grant document, about 10 pages long, and it did not look like 15 hours’ worth of work to her. There also was no paperwork from McKenna Associates justifying the rate in this case. She said she was not in a position that evening to approve the actual grant writer’s amount, but did support the grant. She wondered if perhaps the parks, recreation, and forestry department could actually write the grant since it was only 10 pages long.
Mr. Helwig asked Mr. Auler to comment on the matter. He said that Mr. Klaver had just shown him McKenna’s breakdown on the costs for the grant. He apologized for not having that information at Council’s places for the meeting.
Mr. Auler said the fee that McKenna proposed for this grant application was a not-to-exceed $1200. The parks, recreation, and forestry department looked at what the company felt would be the approximate number of hours required to complete the grant application, which included the narrative and additional mapping required to support the grant application. McKenna Associates estimated that the amount of time in that effort would be between 10 and 15 hours. He apologized for not including this breakdown for Council in its packets, and said this would be done in the future. This grant is unique in that it is the first grant that the City has worked with McKenna on as it relates to forestry. There is an orientation period where the department needs to update the company with all of the information available and review information that the State is requesting in the grant process. This time will be reduced in the future as it relates to future forestry grants. As staff reviewed the matter in terms of outsourcing the grant or keeping it in-house, the department estimated that required staff time would be approximately 7 to 8 hours to prepare the grant application. A staff-prepared grant application was submitted last year for a tree planting grant through DTE Energy. The department was not successful in receiving that grant, and staff felt that utilizing McKenna’s expertise and experience in the grant application process, given that this will be a highly competitive grant, would enhance the City’s application.
Member Lorenzo said she felt that the charge for the grant application was "outrageous." If educating the company is half the cost of the grant, then this is not a situation that she wants McKenna entering into. The application cost far too much money for the product. She supported the grant; if the City can apply in-house this would be fine, or if McKenna wanted to reduce its rates it would be ok. However, she would not support 10 to 15 hours’ worth of work for the 10 pages.
Mr. Helwig noted that this was the first time that he had seen the document. He respectfully requested Council’s approval not to exceed 10 hours on grant applications, and said the City would monitor the situation very closely since this was its first interaction with McKenna Associates.
Member Nagy said she could understand 10 hours of work, which would mean 1 hour per page. She questioned what "prepared draft community assessment survey with attachments" meant. This was not a very difficult grant to handle. She knows that McKenna is very knowledgeable and does a good job, but felt that the cost and work in this case was a bit "overboard."
CM-04-02-077 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Landry; MOTION CARRIED: To allow McKenna Associates to continue to write the tree planting grant for a maximum grant award of $20,000. The number of hours expended is not to exceed 10 hours.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry told a story about a lady who walks into a repair shop with a broken toaster. The woman says she would like her toaster fixed. The man behind the counter walks up, taps the toaster, and says "It’s fixed. That’ll be $10." The woman says, "$10! How do you break that down?" The man replies, "$1 for tapping the toaster, and $9 for knowing where to tap the toaster."
Mayor Pro Tem Landry felt that the time expenditure for the grant application was not outrageous. The grant application is for a $20,000 grant. The application may only have 10 pages, but he did not feel the cost was outrageous. If the City Manager suggests a limit of not to exceed 10 hours, he could support the motion.
Member Paul said she was hopeful that the City would be able to seek this grant. Last year, the City was unsuccessful. As more ash trees die, more cities will seek this grant. If the City can receive $20,000, this is great. If it can stay in the $800 price range, this is a good return. She said she would support the motion.
Member Lorenzo commented that the election materials that City Council candidates must file with Oakland County are more complicated than the grant application, and she did not spend 10 to 15 hours working on those. She felt that the City was being "soaked" on this grant application.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-077 Yeas: Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
N. Adoption of Resolution authorizing participation in the Road Commission for Oakland County’s 2004 Tri-Party Program; SCATS Signalization of the Haggerty Road and Lewis Drive Intersection – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said she had called Ms. McClain that day and asked if the City could possibly substitute the Haggerty Road and Lewis Drive intersection for a light at the post office instead. The answer is yes.
Ms. McClain said the City has been talking recently about a traffic signal at the post office. The City has a current project with the Road Commission to do the section of Novi Road between Ten Mile Road and Grand River. That project would be eligible to place the tri-party funding in. The City would go to the Oakland County Road Commission and encourage them to install the traffic signal at the driveway for the post office. There is not currently one in those plans. This would provide additional funding for that installation. The money needs to be programmed someplace. In this manner, it goes towards an already-existing project and enhances it. The resolution would be changed from SCAT signalization of the Haggerty Road and Lewis Drive intersection to SCAT signalization of the Novi Road and post office driveway.
CM-04-02-078 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve a resolution to change SCAT signalization of the Haggerty Road and Lewis Drive intersection to SCAT signalization of the Novi Road and post office driveway intersection.
Member Capello commented that once Novi Road is widened, a traffic signal may not be needed. When the road is widened, traffic will go through quicker, which will provide more of a break between the lights. A signal there may not be warranted. He asked if any kind of study had been done to analyze traffic flow, traffic count, and proposed new lanes there.
Ms. McClain replied that the issue had just come up that day in discussions. They have not yet done the traffic study; however, they have started on the way towards doing a traffic study there by contacting to have counts taken, specifically turning counts, which would be the most important type for this area. In effect, if a traffic signal is not warranted at this intersection, the money would still be able to be used for the Novi Road link project. The City would still be putting the money toward a project that it has on the books.
Member Capello asked if the money wouldn’t have to be used towards the signal if it was not needed.
Ms. McClain replied that this was correct. At the moment, the City is going to encourage the Road Commission to look at a traffic signal at that point.
Member Capello asked how many lanes Novi Road is projected to be.
Ms. McClain responded that the road will be 2 lanes in each direction, plus a center turn lane, for a total of 5 lanes.
Member Capello asked if there is any proposal at the post office to have any ingress/egress lanes.
Ms. McClain said she believed there is a turning taper, but not a full lane for them at this time.
Mr. Helwig said that the City is at least 2 or 3 years away from that section of Novi Road being fully funded and constructed, even for the start of construction. It may very well be that this policy direction moves the City towards a temporary interim signal that may perhaps not be needed long term. More and more, this issue is coming onto the radar from City Council and members of the community. This may provide the mechanism to make the signal an administrative priority now.
Member Capello asked if the traffic signal could be installed so that it would not have to be removed in 4 years and relocated.
Mr. Helwig replied that ideally this would be the case. However, the signal at Taft Road and Grand River did not evolve that way. Getting this kind of policy direction helps administration to go to work and get the community sooner relief, even without having the entire roadway constructed.
Member Gatt wished to go on record as saying that the post office intersection is one of the most dangerous undertakings that Novi residents do during the day. Turning left to go north onto Novi Road is extremely difficult. The signal is a very necessary endeavor, and he hopes that the City goes forward with it.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-078 Yeas: Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy
Q. Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 667 – Member Paul
Member Paul had a question about check #34399, legal services escrow. She asked for an explanation of this.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that the legal fees escrow is the fees charged for escrow accounts under the new ordinance.
Member Paul said that during consultant review there were several questions about different tiers of legal people, support services, and their fees. She asked what "escrow" meant – whether this was support staff or partners, and what hourly rate this involved.
Ms. Smith-Roy said she would have to pull individual bills to answer this. The City’s bills are itemized by time per day, so this involves very detailed billing, and she would need someone to summarize this to provide the answer.
Member Paul asked what the $41,000 was for, in general.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the fee was for the 4 months of fees that were identified by Mr. Fisher as escrow that could be billed under the new ordinance.
Member Paul asked if the new ordinance is the one that was passed 6 months ago.
Ms. Smith-Roy said this was correct.
Member Paul asked if the ordinance was giving legal service fees to developers, and then developers would pay the City back in return for the provided legal service.
Ms. Smith-Roy said this was also correct.
Member Paul asked why the City is then paying the bill.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the idea is that the City would collect the money from the developers and then pay Secrest Wardle. At the beginning, the City was billing the developers instead of collecting deposits up front. Some of the money has been collected, but not all of it. All along, the City’s intention was to pay Secrest and not have the developers pay direct. The City was always going to be the 3rd-party administrator for that.
Member Paul said she had a hard time with the concept that if the City wrote the policy, it did not have something in order so that it did not have to pay this fee for the developers. She could not support paying $41,692.59 when the developers are supposed to pay for this legal service. She would support passing the warrant minus check #34399.
Ms. Smith-Roy said she needed to clarify that the City had collected over $19,000 of that $41,000 that it is paying.
Member Paul said she would be in support of paying the $19,000 and change, but not the entire $41,000. The City would then be basically paying $22,000.
Ms. Smith-Roy said that other costs are not identified, so the City cannot collect those from the developer. An administrative fee is being charged that will hopefully offset those costs. The other aspect is that a certain portion of this ordinance is e-based, meaning that a certain amount is billed to the developer, but Secrest Wardle is still billing the City hourly. In some cases, the City may collect more, and in others not enough. The City will try its best to track these and report back to Council in case a fee increase is needed for those fixed fees. There are a number of components, not just the base collection.
Member Paul said she could still not support spending that kind of money for services that were supposed to be paid.
CM-04-02-079 Moved by Paul, seconded by Lorenzo; MOTION FAILED: To approve of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 667, minus check #34399.
Member Lorenzo said that if she understood the situation correctly, back in July of 2003 is when the process started of how Mr. Fisher’s firm would bill in the future through developer fees. She asked for clarification of the process that was agreed to, and how the City will bill developers.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the plan was to have a deposit or estimate up front from Mr. Fisher’s firm.
Member Lorenzo asked if Mr. Fisher’s firm was going to contact someone in the City as to what the cost of a particular issue would be, and someone from the City would then notify the applicant. The applicant was then going to have to send a check, and the City would deposit this, eventually paying Mr. Fisher’s firm.
Ms. Smith-Roy said this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked what was not working in the process.
Mayor Csordas asked if this was simply a timing issue.
Ms. Smith-Roy said that there were certain items that were already in the works. The City officially treated it as August 1st because there was a certain time period by which notice had to be provided. Obviously there was a timing issue in that some of these fees were already in the works. Some of the agreements had already been in the process, and the City had not collected money on deposit from the developers. Though she did not want to speak on Mr. Fisher’s behalf, part of the problem was making sure that the attorneys notified the proper people to start collecting. The City has a good plan in place, as there have been several meetings on the issue. The City is still collecting these remaining fees.
Member Lorenzo commented that Ms. Smith-Roy had said these were 4 months’ worth of fees. She asked what months this referred to.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied August through November.
Member Lorenzo asked if someone from Mr. Fisher’s firm had been contacting the point person at the City consistently to give the cost of the fees.
Ms. Smith-Roy said she believed this is now in place.
Member Lorenzo asked if this was done during the 4 months.
Ms. Smith-Roy said she did not believe it was.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Fisher for an explanation.
Mr. Fisher asked to put the issue in proper context. These fees were monies that he would bill to the City for this review-type service, and be paid out of the general fund. In an effort to benefit the City, reduce attorney’s fees, and allow some of the money to be redirected to more positive uses, he came forward with a suggestion that Council adopt this ordinance to recover fees. The City Council put the ordinance into effect, and administration and his office started working together to implement that ordinance. What he was hearing was that monies that were being paid out of the general fund for his fees were now being saved, and the process is now being worked out. The City has already saved considerable money. Essentially, he will not get the money that has not been collected. Even though he made the suggestion to save the City money, his reward is that he won’t be paid. This is general fund money that is now being saved.
Member Lorenzo said that Mr. Fisher may have suggested the ordinance, but it was herself that raised the issue of why the City was spending so much money on this. Her concern was that, from Ms. Smith-Roy’s comments, a system was put into place by which this ordinance was going to be implemented.
Mr. Fisher replied that no clear system was put into place. There was a meeting where nothing in detail was established.
Member Lorenzo asked if anything had "slipped through the cracks" on his part, in terms of his secretary not notifying the point person in the City.
Mr. Fisher replied that nothing like this had happened that he was aware of.
Member Lorenzo suggested that Council postpone this payment and have Mr. Fisher and Ms. Smith-Roy come to some conclusion on the matter. She said that Ms. Smith-Roy had said there appeared to be some breakdown in communication between Secrest Wardle and whoever the point person is within the City. She asked who the point person is.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the point person is Juanita from the Planning Department.
Member Lorenzo asked if the process was supposed to be Mr. Fisher’s secretary contacting Juanita Freeman in the Planning Department, and these were the two people who really need to communicate.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Fisher if he was saying that he did not know of any breakdown in communication on the part of his secretary with Ms. Freeman.
Mr. Fisher said this was correct. He said there is no indication that he has not earned this money. To not pay him the money that he has earned is just unfair. He objected to it very strenuously.
Member Lorenzo said Mr. Fisher was correct when he had stated earlier that this system was put in place to save the taxpayers and the general fund money.
Mr. Fisher said that this was correct, and that over the long term it will save considerable money.
Member Lorenzo said that if the City is taking money out of the general fund to pay him, then it is really not saving much money at this point in time. The process was supposed to work like other review fees. As she understood it, that process involves collecting review fees up front from the applicant which are forwarded to Mr. Arroyo or whoever they go to before the work commences.
Mr. Fisher replied that there is no arrangement like this that has ever been worked out by Council with him.
Member Lorenzo said there was a July 11, 2003 email from Mr. Fisher to Sharon his secretary that indicated that by virtue of the new ordinance, work transmittals will not be sent until the fees have been paid. It needs to be found out whether the system has been working.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was a two-way street. His office was receiving work authorizations.
Member Lorenzo wondered how Sharon and Ms. Freeman were not connecting. If there has been some breakdown, or someone was transmitting work before it should have been done, then Council needs to know this.
Mr. Fisher replied that he did not think this was right or fair. He has earned the money and there is an obligation to pay it.
Mayor Csordas said that as he was hearing it, there are about $40,000 in fees that the developers will eventually be charged for services rendered by Secrest Wardle. The project is just being launched, so it may not balance precisely. Until this arrangement, this $40,000 worth of work would have typically been charged to the City by Mr. Fisher’s firm.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct.
Mayor Csordas remarked that this would have cost the City $40,000 without question.
Mr. Fisher noted that this was also correct.
Mayor Csordas said that the City now has a process by which it is working towards having the developers pay at least these fees. To this point, the City has collected approximately $19,000, which is deposited in its accounts, leaving a net of $21,000 that may or may not be collected. The work has been performed; Secrest Wardle has not invoiced the City. The City has collected $19,000 towards that.
Mr. Fisher said that his firm had invoiced the City.
Member Capello agreed, saying that the City was invoiced for the $41,000.
Mr. Fisher said that for four months he has been invoicing the City but has not been paid.
Mayor Csordas said his point was that the work has been done, the developers have been invoiced, and some of the balance has been paid. He asked if the City has any accounts receivable of $21,000.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the City does have this.
Mayor Csordas remarked that the work has been done; the City has been paid partially; Mr. Fisher has done all of the work, and the City has some collections due. He said he did not see the issue.
Member Gatt said it would not be fair at all to withhold Mr. Fisher’s money. He did the work, he invoiced the City, and now it is the City’s task to collect money from the developers. Mr. Fisher is owed the money and should be paid. There is a system in place now by which the money will be recouped, and this should be done. In the meantime, the law firm should be paid for what they work for. He said he could not support the motion to hold money back that was legally and lawfully earned.
Member Capello said that Member Lorenzo had a point - the City needs to figure out why the gap exists. However, this is not reason to withhold the payment. The City should go ahead and pay Mr. Fisher’s firm, have Kathy Smith-Roy look into the matter, and have Juanita communicate with Mr. Fisher’s secretary and work on the problem. Whatever the case, Mr. Fisher had to be paid that evening. It is not fair to withhold the payment because there is a gap in the adoption of this new ordinance.
Member Nagy asked if everything that Mayor Csordas had said was true, that Mr. Fisher’s firm had done the work and it is basically up to the City to collect the money above and beyond the $19,000.
Ms. Smith-Roy replied that this was correct. The City has been invoiced by Secrest Wardle.
Member Nagy commented that the issue was hard to follow because she was not on Council when the ordinance was put in place. If, in fact, the work has been done and the collection is incumbent upon the City, then Secrest Wardle has to be paid because they have done the work. She would also like to see one day, not now, an explanation of how the process is supposed to work.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that Secrest Wardle is not a collection agent for the City – they are attorneys. The firm performs legal services, and it is up to the City to collect the money. The gap is not the firm’s problem, but rather the City’s, and the City should not make it Secrest Wardle’s problem. He felt that the firm should be paid.
Member Lorenzo said that her concern was that if Mr. Fisher’s firm agreed to a process and there was a breakdown between his firm and Ms. Freeman, then the gap is incumbent upon Mr. Fisher’s firm. This is why she wanted to find where the breakdown in the process is. If it was Mr. Fisher’s firm that broke down the lines of communication then she questioned whether money should be taken out of the general fund to pay Mr. Fisher, or whether Mr. Fisher should have to wait until the money is collected. The firm agreed to let Ms. Freeman know what the fee is. Ms. Freeman cannot do anything until she knows how much the fee is. Then, she can bill the applicant.
Member Lorenzo said that whether or not the motion to withhold the check passed that evening, she wanted to know how Mr. Fisher received the work unless the fee was paid. She wanted to know where the breakdown was on the City’s side if there was a breakdown. She wants to know two things: number one, if there was a breakdown from Mr. Fisher’s office to Ms. Freeman; and number two, who authorized the work to Mr. Fisher’s firm if Ms. Freeman did not have the money from the applicant because she did not have the information. She asked for this information in the Thursday packet. She would be agreeable to pay the check that evening, but did not want to see the problem again.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Fisher if, when he works on a development agreement or some document with a developer, he knows how many hours it will take before he begins that work.
Mr. Fisher said that a number of fixed fee amounts was worked out for things including development agreements, site plan reviews, and so forth. There are other things that are a little more difficult in the way the ordinance reads. These are items where an estimate must be generated.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if in those instances, he was correct in saying that Mr. Fisher would not be able to tell the developer before he performs the legal services what the ultimate fee is going to be.
Mr. Fisher said that the developer is told what the estimate is, which is how this is done now.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Fisher if he may estimate that his fee may be "X", but when the day is done, this may be "X + 10."
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that somebody has to collect this money after the legal work has already been done by Mr. Fisher’s firm.
Mr. Fisher said that this was definitely a possibility that was very likely in some cases.
Mayor Csordas asked Ms. Cornelius to restate the motion.
Ms. Cornelius said the motion, made by Member Paul, was to pay the warrant minus check #34399, and was supported by Member Lorenzo.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-079 Yeas: Lorenzo, Paul
Nays: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Nagy
CM-04-02-080 Moved by Capello, seconded by Landry; MOTION CARRIED: To approve of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 667 – in its entirety.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-080 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Csordas
MAYOR AND COUNCIL ISSUES
1. Class III District Court Preliminary Report – Mayor Csordas
Mayor Csordas noted that Council had received some financial numbers that would have indicated deficit spending to the 52nd District Court. If the submitted numbers were true, he said he would not be in support of the proposal. He asked for a preliminary report from administration regarding the court.
Mr. Helwig commented that Council’s direction was needed as soon as possible. Administration distributed to Council, at the end of January, a report compiled principally by Kathy Smith-Roy, as well as Craig Klaver and Marina Neumaier. Page 2 of that report lists some preliminary findings in terms of anticipating a subsidy for at least the first 3 to 5 years. That reports states that administration needs further direction, as much of the information that administration has sought for 2 ½ years of a 5-year pro forma is not available from the Court. The City does not have the in-house resources to prepare such a document. It is absolutely essential, based upon the determinations of the January report, to give Council a 5-year financial pro forma. It must be known what the court situation would look like in real life, given certain assumptions and detail.
Mayor Csordas noted that the numbers received in the January report did show deficit spending for the first 5 years. Not only did the report show deficit spending, but increasing deficit spending on an annual basis. Based on this information, he did not support the issue of initiating any kind of work from the City to move to a Class III type of court.
Member Nagy said she agreed with the Mayor’s comments. She remarked that she appreciated the Ms. Smith-Roy’s work on the report submitted to Council in January. With all of the spending coming before Council, she did not feel that the City should spend any additional money to get additional information, as this would be fiscally irresponsible. She said she could not envision the court transfer within the next 5 years, since there are too many things that this City needs, including equipment, manpower and roads.
Member Lorenzo said she also agreed with the Mayor’s position. After reading through all of the information and contacting different administrators, she felt that the City is currently in a very favorable position with its current court situation. The 3 district court judges do an exceptional job for the citizens of Novi and the other communities which they serve. The court has innovative and successful programs. Fortunately for Novi and the other communities which the court serves, the cost is being spread out throughout Oakland County. She felt that the City should "let sleeping dogs lie."
Member Capello said he thought he had heard Mr. Helwig state that the report only carried out a couple of years, but he thought he also heard the Mayor state that the report carried out 5 years.
Mr. Helwig replied that he had stated the report covered 3 to 5 years.
Member Capello asked if it was known how much it would cost to go on to a more in-depth report.
Ms. Smith-Roy said she was not certain how much this more in-depth report would cost. However, she said she would recommend that the City go out for RFP’s, though. She estimated that the more detailed report would cost at least $5,000.
Member Capello said he still felt that the long-term benefit to the City of the court transfer would be positive. If the City goes out for RFP’s and gets a quote of $5,000 or $6,000, the bill will be spread out to other participating communities such as South Lyon and Lyon Township. This would result in a lesser cost to the City. He felt that there really is an upside to obtaining a more in-depth report. He asked that the City at least go out for some Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) and get an idea as to what this would cost, and then have Mr. Fisher contact Mr. Adkison and Mr. Quinn and investigate whether they have any interest in their communities contributing. Then Council could make a decision of whether it wanted to spend the money on the further report or not.
Member Nagy said she was not trying to be argumentative with anyone. After looking at the figures in the January report, she did not understand why the City would spend the money on the more detailed report. It is not known whether surrounding communities would even participate in the cost. She did not want to start a process that was fiscally irresponsible in the first place. 3 to 5 years is just the short term projection for the transfer. She said she agreed with the Mayor that the costs would escalate as health care and other benefits’ costs rise. The City has a fine court system, as this is not at all a debate about the quality of the court system. She felt that this was simply an issue of economics. There are too many projects that are important to the community. $1,000 could buy several trees. She said she did not want to spend any more time on the court issue, nor did she want to use staff’s time on the matter. The work that Ms. Smith-Roy did on the report was excellent, and she noted that this report must have taken a great deal of time to compile. She said she would not be willing to support any additional work on the court item.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated that he had generally been in favor of looking into the question about the possible court transfer, and said he would still like to know more information. However, in looking at the information that had been turned over to date, it was clear that the 52-1 District Court had shown a loss every year since 1999. In fact, the loss has increased every year since 1999. The one analysis which struck him as compelling from City staff was that even if the IT costs were removed, the budget would still show a loss. The other point made by staff was that this analysis, which itself shows a loss, does not include the additional cost for human resources, accounting, risk management, and other such tasks which would have to be undertaken by the funding body. Everyone agrees that a business plan is needed to take the court item further. The question is who will pay for that business plan. He said he would be willing to spend the time to look at a business plan, but would not be in favor of "leading the charge" and putting forth the cash to spend for the business plan. He did not feel that it would be a waste of time to look at the matter further, but did not want to commit any significant dollars to do so at this time. If the other communities were to put together a consortium and declare that the in-depth report would only cost $1,000, he would vote in favor of it. However, right now it appears that the City is leading the charge on the matter. He does not see a great deal of support overtly from other communities, nor does he see many other people coming forward with facts, figures or assistance. He noted that the City has had an offer from representatives in Lansing for some legal help. If this could be put together, then he would still be willing to look at the matter. At the moment, however, given the financial information presented to Council, he would not be in favor of spending significant dollars to pursue the matter further at this time; though he would be willing to look at and consider any information presented to Council.
Member Gatt asked if there was any possibility that a study committee could be assembled for the court transfer matter that could work for no charge. He suggested that there are people in the community who are CPA’s or economists that are experts in their field and may endeavor to contribute to the City.
Mayor Csordas suggested that this was probably a good idea. However, he noted the Mayor Pro Tem’s point that so far, all of the effort being expended and all of the money being spent was from the City of Novi. He felt that Member Gatt’s suggestion was a good idea, but that the work should not only be done by the City of Novi.
Member Gatt agreed that the effort and money should be by a consortium of all of the cities involved.
Member Paul felt that whatever Council decided that evening needed to be passed onto the 52nd District Court by a City administrator so that the court is aware of the City’s decision, since the matter has been in limbo for quite a while. There are some courts that are profitable. If the court administrators of Oakland County would like to examine Representative Craig DeRoche’s offer of legal services from the State, this would be great. However, starting something that is not truly fiscally responsible right now would not be a most prudent expenditure. She said she would support tabling the discussion, which could allow Mr. Helwig to get in touch with his contact at the 52nd District Court.
Mayor Csordas said he had been observing to see what Council’s consensus was on the court matter. He asked administration to contact the 52nd District Court to tell them that they are doing a great job; keep up the good work; and inform them that if they wish to go forward with the potential transfer, the City would be interested to see a pro forma and any additional information that they might have. Based on that information, the City would be willing to get together with some of the other subdivisions of the court to see if they have any interest. However, he noted that administration should not spend any money on this.
Mr. Helwig remarked that he felt Council had been very accurate in its comments regarding the 3 judges at the 52-1 District Court. From his interactions with them, he felt that the judges like a straight comment from officials. He becomes concerned when expectations get out of reach. What he was hearing was that unless the court was willing to provide such a 5-year business plan, that the matter was dead for now. He noted that he has been the City administrator interacting with the court for the past 2 ½ years until the matter recently became timely. During that period of time, he has asked for such a pro forma. The response to this request has generally been that it was not quite right to prepare the pro forma yet because of circumstances at Oakland County, so nothing came forward. When he had requested the document to share with Council when the time was right, he still could not obtain it. The time recently became right for consideration, and he again requested the pro forma from the court with the clear expectation that a court staff member was compiling the document. Then, city staff went to the court for a meeting and learned that it was expected that the city would do this. His expectation was that when he conveys the decision to the court, that the matter is dead. Everyone comes at the matter with good will and the best intentions. Based on the consensus that evening, this was what he would expect would happen.
Member Capello said that given the other communities, Novi is the one that must take the lead on the matter. Novi is the leader out of the communities represented by that court in more ways than one. Before Council just allows the issue to die, he requested that Council direct Mr. Helwig and Mr. Fisher, without any cost to the City, to contact the leaders of the other communities and see at what point they want to begin moving the matter forward with Novi. At this stage, just to drop the matter because the court does not feel comfortable carrying the financial ball would not be reasonable.
Mayor Csordas recalled from the report that there are 11 subdivisions in the 52-1 District Court, and that there are 3 or 4 interested subdivisions.
Member Capello felt this was inaccurate. He said that there were 3 or 4 that wanted to be the funding bodies, and all of the others were willing to contribute as they contribute now.
Mr. Fisher said that the City had not contacted many of those other subdivisions.
Mr. Helwig said that the report stated that the court anticipates 5 units to opt in.
Member Capello said this meant that 5 units were anticipated to opt in as funding units for the court, and that the others would participate as they currently participate with the county, but would be participating with the funding units.
Ms. Smith-Roy said the situation was actually "exactly opposite." She apologized if the communication in the report was not clear. "Opting in" means that the communities would opt in and share in the profit or loss. Those that opt out would receive their funding the way they currently do, on the ratio of the State and the court.
Member Capello replied that this was what he had essentially said.
Mr. Helwig said that with all due respect, he had "been there" on this issue, and needed Council’s support at this point to follow through with consensus. He did not want to indicate that the City was in any way promoting or prepared to deliver this if the court gives a positive response.
CM-04-02-081 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Nagy; MOTION CARRIED: To direct the City to decline to seek further action on the Class III District Court. While the City will not take a proactive role in the matter, it will review any information provided.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked the Mayor if he would accept a friendly amendment that, while the City would not take any proactive role, it would certainly review any information that the court or anyone else presents to Council.
Mayor Csordas accepted the friendly amendment.
Member Lorenzo said she would be embarrassed to go to the other communities with the information that the City had received on the court and ask them if they would like to participate. She questioned who would look at the information and approve of the $400,000 to $600,000 of debt that Oakland County is currently paying that Novi and other local communities would pay. Communities are currently scrambling to find small amounts of money and prioritize services. Putting forward such a proposal would be embarrassing. The minute other communities would see the information, they would opt to stay clear of it.
Member Nagy agreed to accept the friendly amendment. She said this was a matter of fiscal responsibility. She did not see how anyone could read the figures and not understand that the transfer would not financially benefit the City.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-081 Yeas: Landry, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
2. Reconsideration of speed limit on Beck Road between Nine and Ten Mile Roads - Mayor Csordas
Mayor Csordas noted that this was a dead issue, as the speed limit on the noted section of Beck Road had been changed from 35 mph to 40 mph, the same as the sections south and north on the road.
3. Status of the ordinance regarding truck unloading and idling adjacent to residential areas – Mayor Pro Tem Landry
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that Council had received in its packets dated February 5th from Assistant City Attorney Thomas Schultz regarding the potential ordinance for truck idling and unloading. This was specifically in response to complaints from Mr. Wizinsky regarding his experiences next to Target, particularly for commercial uses next to residential. In this letter, Mr. Schultz says that it seems prudent to get Council’s thoughts on the issue early.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Fisher if he was looking for Council to ask him to do this, or if he needed anything from Council.
Mr. Fisher replied that his office was working on the item. He added that if Council had any additional thoughts, he would be appreciative.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he just did not know if Mr. Fisher was looking for approval from Council to work on the ordinance, or if he was already working on it.
Mr. Fisher said that his office had basically been assigned to the task.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that he was satisfied.
4. Vacation of Sixth Gate – Member Capello
Member Capello said the City is still trying to resolve issues off of Main Street. About a month or a month-and-a-half ago, Council approved a condominium project whereby the current 200/300/500 building could be split off from the vacant land, which was on the north side of Main Street and under one parcel I.D. number. However, Sixth Gate has never been vacated. The City’s ordinance 7.6 talks about procedures to vacate public places.
CM-04-02-082 Moved by Capello, seconded by Csordas; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: That the City hold a public hearing at the March 15th City Council meeting to vacate Sixth Gate, in order to finalize the condominium project on Main Street, also allowing involved banks to sell their units.
Member Lorenzo questioned who the property would go to if it were vacated. She asked if this was City-owned property.
Member Capello replied that the referenced section of the property, used by Sixth Gate, is City-owned. The south will go to the Main Street parcel, which is part of the approved condominium plan, and the north will go to the property owner to the north.
Member Lorenzo asked why Council would want to give the property to those parties, instead of selling it to those parties.
Member Capello replied that Council had agreed to do this when it approved the site plan for the Main Street project years ago.
Member Lorenzo asked if this was still the City’s legal obligation, or if it had the right to sell the property.
Mr. Fisher said this was land that was dedicated as part of a plat. State law provides for the manner in which the City would divest itself of that land, which is by way of vacation. There is no provision in State law that contemplates the sale of that type of land.
Member Lorenzo asked if the City could not sell the land, but could only vacate it and give it to the other property owners, or keep it.
Mr. Fisher indicated that this was correct, but that keeping the parcel would get in the way of developing the property and indirectly hurt the City.
Member Lorenzo said that if the City could not sell the property, she would agree to the motion.
Member Nagy asked if the vacation had already been conducted by the Planning Commission.
Mr. Fisher responded that the City did a considerable amount, but did not complete the vacation of that small piece of right-of-way.
Mr. Evancoe noted that Mr. Fisher was correct. He added that as the City reviewed that condominium plat, there was some discrepancy as to whether this portion was called Paul Bunyan Drive or Sixth Gate. The plans show the east-west portion as Paul Bunyan Drive.
Member Capello apologized. He said he had checked that day and had thought he was told it was Sixth Gate. The building would come off of Marcus’ Glass and would extend off.
Mr. Evancoe said that some maps call the road Sixth Gate, showing the road as having an "L" shape coming south from Grand River and west over to Novi Road. The plat that was approved by the City refers to the road as Paul Bunyan Drive.
Member Capello noted that he was referring to east-west road from the westerly border of the parcel of property that building 200/300/500 sits on.
Mr. Evancoe suggested that if Council were to setup a public hearing that it may want to reference the street as either of those names.
Member Nagy felt that this should be done, as the Planning Commission had the same problem of confusing the street under both of the names. She said she would support the motion, but asked that the clarification of "Sixth Gate/Paul Bunyan" be added to it.
Member Gatt said he had spoken with Mr. Marcus not long ago, who felt that Council had made a promise some time ago to keep that land open.
Member Capello said that this was correct. The discussions were for Mr. Marcus, that Mr. Chen had told Mr. Marcus that the backend of that parking lot would remain open for access if the City ever wanted to pave the rest of that road.
Member Gatt asked if the motion would, in any way, impede with that promise.
Member Capello said he did not believe the motion would impede with that promise, as the City is vacating at the easterly end of Mr. Markus’ property. Council needs to ensure, if a developer ever comes to develop that piece, that that end of the piece remains open for access to the remainder of Paul Bunyan / Sixth Gate. He did not believe that this was ever formalized, but said Council should watch for this when it comes back from the development.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-082 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
5. To place on a future agenda the name change extension for industrial facility exemption and certificate for the proposed new Expo Center and Conference Center – Member Capello
Member Capello said that Blair Bowman had sent a letter to Mayor Csordas on February 10th. In the letter, Mr. Bowman asked for 3 things relative to the new Exposition Center. The first requested item, which Member Capello felt could be approved that evening, was to approve to transfer a name change. His letter says that the technical procedure required by the State is that of a name change, that the submitted documentation to the City (Mr. Bowman references paragraph 6a) states that the City and he agree that if it is just a transfer of a name change and Mr. Bowman retains ownership, that the name change is something that is just acknowledged and approved. Mr. Bowman is asking for a name change to Boco Enterprises, Inc. Member Capello asked Mr. Fisher if he was familiar with this request.
Mr. Fisher replied that he was not familiar with the request.
Mayor Csordas said that he had not received the letter in time to include the document in that week’s Council packet. The date of the memo did not coincide with the time which he received it.
CM-04-02-083 Moved by Capello, seconded by Gatt; MOTION WITHDRAWN: To approve the name change requested by Mr. Blair Bowman to Boco Enterprises, Inc.
Member Gatt asked what the current name of the company is.
Member Capello said the current name is T-BON. He said he would wait to include the letter in the next meeting’s packet.
Member Lorenzo commented that she felt the process needed to be more formal.
Member Capello said that the second item which Mr. Bowman was asking for was an extension of the construction period for 1 year, as he was delayed in starting. Member Capello said he would like this included on the agenda for the next Council meeting.
Member Capello said the third request in Mr. Bowman’s letter was the most important. The company was granted an 8-year tax abatement, which Mr. Bowman requested be extended for a 12-year period of time. Member Capello asked if this required a public hearing before the City Council.
Mr. Fisher replied that the establishment of the district required a public hearing. He did not believe that the actual grant of the abatement required a public hearing, but rather a hearing that allowed the applicant to speak, the assessor to speak, and possibly somebody else. However, this was not a public hearing.
Member Capello asked if the matter could simply be placed on an agenda.
Mr. Fisher responded that this was correct.
CM-04-02-084 Moved by Capello, seconded by Landry; MOTION FAILED: To add the three (3) requests of Mr. Blair Bowman’s letter of February 10th: the name change from T-BON to Boco Enterprises; the 1-year extension on construction; and the extension of the tax abatement, to the agenda for the March 15th, 2004 City Council meeting.
Member Paul said that if there is any question about the tax abatement and the length of years that this abatement is for, she would like someone from administration to notify Council of what the dollar amounts will be over a time frame. She said she would not support the item to see it at the next meeting. She would like to see financial information about what taxes would be removed from the community. Mr. Bowman was already granted an 8-year tax abatement, which she was not part of. Another 4 years to this abatement would add a lot. She would not support the motion unless "serious" financial information was provided from City departments.
Member Capello asked if placing the matter on the March 1st agenda would provide administration with enough time to prepare information for Council on the item.
Mr. Helwig noted that the March 1st meeting was only one week away. He suggested that if Council wished to proceed in the spirit of Member Capello’s recommendation, that the letter be distributed to all members of Council that Thursday, and administration could begin compiling the history of the issue, which could be provided the following Thursday. Then, administration could check the status of provided information and place the item on the March 15th agenda.
Member Capello said he would amend the motion with this date.
Member Nagy felt that there were many things that needed to be discussed that should receive priority over the Bowman item. She was sure that administration and City staff had a number of other things that they wished to bring forward. The Bowman item should follow the normal and complete process. She indicated that she would not support the motion.
Mr. Helwig noted that administration had moved the water study from that evening’s meeting agenda, which was promised for that evening, because there were so many other matters on the agenda. This was a last-minute decision made with the Mayor. He noted that administration would like to have that discussed at the next meeting. Letters are now starting to arrive in the mail. The Singh letter, which Council dealt with one of three items, also has two items that that company would like to see come forward as soon as possible. Now, another letter has come in, this time regarding the Expo Center. Administration is trying to be considerate of Council’s deliberations so that members feel informed when making decisions. He noted that any insights are very welcome for determining the process.
Mayor Csordas asked if a logical process would be to include the letter to every member of Council in the next week’s packet. Then, Mr. Helwig could present some information in his report early in the next meeting, generating some more discussion on that. The most controversial of the three topics in the Bowman letter is the tax abatement. There will likely be differing opinions on Council regarding the abatement, as well as some audience participation. There will be no streamlining of the process, as procedure would not allow that to happen. However, Council has other issues coming up from Singh and other parties that will generate much discussion. He suggested distributing the letter to everyone on Council, preparing a report, and then tackling the issues in the letter. He did not want to give the community the impression that any "fast-tracking" was occurring because there was not. The City owes the courtesy to the community of a public discussion of a tax abatement extension. He noted that he was neither in support nor against the idea, as he had not seen any figures yet, but noted that Council would vote whether to see the report on the March 15 agenda.
Member Capello said the report was partially coming in the next week’s packet. He wanted the matter on the agenda for Council action on March 15th. He would like Mr. Bowman to come in and discuss why he would like the abatement. Troy is giving away land and begging somebody to build an Expo Center. This is the biggest thing that the City has coming, and people want to put it behind a 40-lot subdivision and think that it is not any more important. The Expo Center is important to the City. Council should be doing everything that it can to help Mr. Bowman. He said that Mr. Bowman helped the City a great deal in getting the intersection at Beck Road and I-96. He got that through with the help of City administration, Senator Cassis and Representative DeRoche. Mr. Bowman was just asking Council to move expeditiously on a couple of issues for him, which is not outrageous considering what he is bringing to this community.
Mayor Csordas said that nobody was saying anything negative about Mr. Bowman. He is a big supporter of Mr. Bowman’s, as Mr. Bowman supports seemingly every charity and others in the community and is a hardworking person. This was not even an issue. Nobody else on Council has seen the letter, which is not good. At the next meeting, or the March 15th meeting, Mr. Bowman can come and speak to Council.
Member Lorenzo said that residents viewing the meeting at home on television, or reading the minutes from the meeting, could come away with the idea that Council was fast-tracking the project based upon the previous speaker’s comments, which was inappropriate. If the 40-lot subdivision is on track to come before Council by a certain meeting then this should happen, and Council should not place anything ahead of it. Proper procedure is a "first come in, first come out" system. She did not want to give an applicant or the public an idea that Council was showing favoritism for any project. She would not support the motion. It was not known whether the matter would be on the March 15th agenda. This is up to Mr. Helwig and the Mayor, and what should rightfully be coming before Council on that date based on first in, first out. If the matter makes the March 15th agenda by virtue of that, this was fine, but she would not direct Mr. Helwig to make sure that the matter is on the March 15th agenda.
Member Paul suggested that the name change could easily be placed on the agenda without any problems. However, the tax abatement is an entirely different issue. She asked if an extension on the abatement would have to go before the Planning Commission. She thought an extension had to be addressed not at the City Council, but at the Planning Commission, because it is a site plan.
Mr. Fisher replied that tax abatement issues are only discussed by the City Council.
Member Paul asked about the one-year extension for the construction period.
Mr. Fisher said this one-year extension is a statutory situation that contemplates when the tax abatement will start. If Mr. Bowman has to do construction within a year, then the tax abatement starts after that period. This is really not a site planning issue as much as a sequencing issue.
Member Paul thanked Mr. Fisher for his clarification. She felt that the one-year construction extension and the tax abatement should be addressed together. This must be done in due process. Council must also consider that administrative staff is trying to prepare a budget, and is being inundated with paperwork that is to be presented in those budget sessions. Council is asking them to do this, the water study, and many other tasks. She did not feel that Council should have a hot-button issue that will take countless hours of staff work, as well as many hours at the Council table. She wished to take the issue in due process, and wished to support Mr. Helwig and the City staff in any way possible.
Mayor Csordas asked Ms. Cornelius to clarify the motion.
Ms. Cornelius replied that the motion was to add the three items requested by Blair Bowman, being the name change from T-BON to Boco Enterprises; the 1-year extension on construction; and the extension of the tax abatement, to the March 15th City Council agenda.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-02-084 Yeas: Gatt, Capello
Nays: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
Mayor Csordas suggested that if Council were to place the matter on an agenda when members at least have the benefit of the letter, and Mr. Bowman would like to be placed on the agenda under a presentation, this would provide him with fair opportunity to prepare, and would "get the ball rolling" on informing the public, and would properly begin the process. He said that he and Mr. Helwig would do what they could to place the matter on the agenda just for that purpose, and would see what happens from there.
6. Traffic concern on Haggerty Road – Member Gatt
Member Gatt passed around a photograph to members of Council. The photo showed Haggerty Road just south of Nine Mile Road, looking southbound. Haggerty south of Nine Mile is a two-lane road in each direction. Unexplainably, the road becomes a one-lane road in each direction for about 50 feet, and then reverts back to a two-lane road in each direction. There is no signage prior to the road narrowing which creates a dangerous situation and also bottlenecks traffic. He noted that Haggerty is not a City road. He questioned why the road was narrowed, as this only causes problems.
* Council consensus was to direct administration to contact the City’s Oakland County representative to contact the Oakland County Road Commission, and attempt to resolve the problem created by the narrowing of Haggerty Road south of Nine Mile Road.
Member Lorenzo asked Member Gatt what the specific intent of the contact with Oakland County was.
Member Gatt replied that under the best of circumstances, he would like Oakland County to move the poles on the sides of the road and finish the second lane in each direction. This will create a tremendous benefit to the community.
Member Lorenzo agreed with Member Gatt, but said she was not as optimistic as him.
Member Gatt noted that he was not actually very optimistic. He felt that there should at least be some signs warning drivers of the road narrowing.
Member Lorenzo suggested that the City could even place signs along Haggerty to warn drivers.
Member Gatt agreed that signage is needed, but said he would also like an explanation for why the road was constructed as such.
Ms. McClain said she had spoken with the Oakland County Road Commission about the topic several times. The photograph does not show the poles close to the road on the other side of the road as well. She was told that the Road Commission has not gone to Detroit Edison to have those poles moved and have the utility in that area relocated. When the two hotels just to the north were developed, the lane was extended. There is a lane-drop sign which is north of the drive for High Pointe. This is quite a bit in advance of the lane drop and has not yet been moved by the Road Commission. She said that this would be put forward again to the Commission.
Mayor Csordas asked that Oakland County Commissioner Crawford be contacted about the road.
Mr. Helwig replied that administration would be very happy to have this conversation with the County.
7. Wixom Road left-turn lane for Island Lakes – Member Paul
Member Paul said she had brought this issue up previously at a Planning Commission meeting. The Planning Commission was being asked to change the turn status on Wixom Road at Delmont Drive. When she addressed this, Kevin Sullivan said that in lieu of making a certain turn that was initially required that would infringe upon the people on the east side of Wixom Road again for the third time, that he would do a smaller turn radius, encroach on the west side of Wixom Road further, and this would save him money and still be a very safe practice. This would also avoid the residents on the east side of the road. In lieu of saving that money, she asked if he would install the sidewalk that would go from Delmont to the middle school at Eleven Mile. In that process, this never happened. This is an area where the City has an interest in installing sidewalk for the CIP budget. She had brought up the issue at the previous meeting where Mr. Evancoe provided an explanation. However, she did not feel that she was clear enough at that time, and wished to redirect the matter.
Member Paul asked Mr. McCusker to clarify if the City is putting in a turn lane, and that this was the second choice that the developer wanted at the time from the Planning Commission.
Mr. McCusker replied that at the time of the noted meeting, there were a number of issues with Toll Brothers, from two poles being above ground along a major thoroughfare, some wells that had to be replaced, and a number of other issues. They were working through those with Kevin Sullivan. At the time, the developer was looking at a two-way turning situation where they had to actually add lanes on the west side of Wixom Road. At that time, the City asked Rod Arroyo and Bill Stimpson for their opinions on the matter, and they said that it could be done. That was when Kevin Sullivan said he would take the matter back through the planning stages and ask to do those things. Subsequently, Mr. Sullivan is no longer with Toll Brothers. Mr. McCusker did not believe that Mr. Sullivan had taken the matter beyond the discussed point.
Member Paul asked Mr. McCusker if he would be able to contact the person who is now filling what was formerly Mr. Sullivan’s job, and ask that person to continue what Mr. Sullivan had started.
Mr. McCusker replied that he would try to track the matter and find out what happened with it. The company has changed the person filling the job twice since Mr. Sullivan has been gone. He said he would follow up on the matter, and would check with Mr. Evancoe to see if the matter had been brought back to the planning department.
Member Paul said that the City was, in fact, letting the developer put in a turn of their choice because it was safe and part of the traffic consultant’s recommendations. She asked for an off-week packet memo explaining what had happened in that process, and if the City can still have the company install the sidewalk.
Mr. McCusker noted that there are still a number of other Toll Brothers issues needing to be addressed. Ms. McClain is working on some drainage issues.
Member Paul asked Mr. McCusker if he could get this information to Council in written form at a later date.
Mr. McCusker replied that he would try to do so.
Member Lorenzo noted that she had asked the City Clerk to include the minutes of the Planning Commission meeting when this was discussed. Unfortunately, as she read through those minutes, she saw the dialogue with the representative, but did not see anything in the motion which actually addressed this. Toll Brothers is truly not encumbered to do anything. The only way to have any "teeth" in the matter would have been to have included something in the motion making it a condition of the approval that the company look into and try to accommodate that. She was not optimistic that, unless it was required of Toll Brothers, that the company would do anything as mentioned.
8. Establish administrative performance review and ratings, Council policy – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said that last July, Council Member Sanghvi had requested from administration the performance ratings that administration was using as of July 1, 2003. It does not appear that there is any Council policy in terms of wanting to review the performance ratings and associated percentages of increases. She did not feel that Council was aware of how often administrators are reviewed or given any kind of increases. She asked administration to come back to Council with a report explaining the process as it is working right now. Secondly, she would like to establish a process whereby administration presents to Council performance ratings and associated percentages for each year. Council could look at that, review it, and concur that it feels the ratings and percentages are reasonable. For instance, the ratings at this time are "fair", "proficient", "highly proficient", and "exceptional." The "exceptional" rating would have received a 4.75% increase. According to today’s corporate standards, an increase is an average of between 2 and 2.5%. If a person is given a 4% increase or more, they are doing very well in the corporate world today. From her perspective, she felt that administration should provide Council with this information so that members have the ability to dialogue and concur with that prior to the administration going forward with performance reviews. She felt that some recent increases of 4.75%, and in a recent case over 5%, were unreasonable, even if an individual was exceptional in that case. 5% right now or anything higher than that is out of the realm of reasonableness in this economy. She asked for an administrative explanation of the current policy, how often administrative staff is given raises, and to come back with a form that Council can review as to what each of the ratings and the associated percentages would be.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Helwig if the performance review is done for all of the City employees on an annual basis, or if this is done on the anniversary day of their date of hire.
Mr. Helwig replied that the review is done in June on an annual basis for all of the City’s administrative personnel. The rate increases are effective July 1. He said that Member Lorenzo had called him about mid-year increases that the City has given within the range, either in conjunction with the compensation study that Council authorized to try to bring more external equity to certain positions little by little over a series of time, or any merit increases that have been provided. He said he would be happy to provide a report to Council, as this may be very beneficial for everyone, not just the new members of Council.
9. South Lake – Member Nagy
Member Nagy said she assumed that administration had received the studies which she had provided. At the last meeting, one of the items of the discussion regarding stormceptors versus vortechnics was that Mr. Pearson mentioned this was something that Dr. Tilton approved of. She did not doubt Mr. Pearson’s word, but she was concerned about Dr. Tilton’s approval. She called Dr. Tilton and asked him exactly why he would approve something like this, and he said that Mr. Croy came to him after the substitution was made. Since it was already in the ground, Dr. Tilton said it was not the best substitution but because it was already in the ground he approved it. He indicated that this was something that the City did not want to do in the future. She expressed concern about Dr. Tilton being asked for approval after the structure was already in the ground. She asked if the grading was for vortechnics or a stormceptor, and whether this would affect the grade at all. She noted that the excavation was bid lump sum, and it was her understanding that some of the money saved on the manholes by using a stormceptor was put into excavation. If the project was bid lump sum, she wanted to know why the City was spending more money on excavation. She inquired why Council did not receive a punch list. She noted that it would be done in the spring, but said she had received emails from residents. Around South Pointe where there is overflow water on the road, that road has a final coat of asphalt. She had concerns as to when this would be corrected. She would like to see the road cut and redone. Many people have complained about the medians. Traffic calming at the beginning of the street will do little because of a straight shot at the road. She asked that her questions be answered at some time in the future, though administration did not need to answer them right away.
Member Lorenzo said that when Council approved the most recent warrant check for consultants, for Anderczak-Pitzen, members were told that there is about $90,000 left for punch list items. She recalled that one of the items that Member Nagy had questioned was flooding. Member Lorenzo asked if it was known how much it would cost to redo that at this point, and if the $90,000 would be enough money to cover the costs. She asked for information on this.
Mr. Helwig replied that if the problem is a workmanship issue and the company did not do the work according to plans, the company would have to absorb the costs. He said administration would get back to Council on that.
Member Lorenzo asked for a timetable on when the work was expected to be done.
Mr. Helwig said that the work should be done during the spring.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
Mr. Fisher asked Council for an opportunity to provide a short update on the Paragon settlement negotiations, which is pending litigation. To do this correctly, he felt that a motion was needed to authorize this in executive session, to discuss pending litigation.
CM-04-02-085 Moved by Landry, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To direct Mr. Fisher to address Council on pending litigation of the Paragon settlement negotiations during Executive Session.
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-085 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
CM-04-02-086 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn to Executive Session
Voice Vote on CM-04-02-086 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Council recessed to executive session at 12:05 a.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: March 15, 2004