|View Agenda for this meeting
REGULAR MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Landry called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Landry, Mayor Pro Tem Capello-absent, Council Members Gatt, Margolis, Mutch, Nagy, Paul-absent
ALSO PRESENT: Clay Pearson, City Manager
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-06-10-270 Moved by Margolis, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY:
To approve the agenda as presented.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION
1. Consideration of Setting Date for the Presentation of the Police and Field Services Complex Master Plan
Mr. Pearson said the Master Plans were distributed to Council last week. He noted the staff had worked very diligently on them along with Wold and Associates, an architectural firm, in an attempt to provide a long range vision for two of the City’s facilities. He noted these documents were on the web site for the residents, and all comments were welcome. Mr. Pearson said a Council presentation, and question and answer session, could easily take 90 minutes. He asked Council if they were interested in setting a special meeting work session, for this topic, instead of adding it on a busy Council agenda. He suggested Wednesday, November 1st, or Monday, November 20th.
Member Nagy thought a separate meeting was a good idea, and she would be available on those dates. Member Margolis and Mayor Landry would not be available on one or both of those dates. Member Nagy asked if this would be taped, and was told it would be. She said it was very hard to set dates with everyone’s schedule, and suggested the absent Council members could watch a tape of the meeting.
Member Margolis said that would be fine with her.
Member Mutch asked if this would be a presentation with no action. Mr. Pearson said he was anticipating a presentation, Q and A, follow up questions, and then to return for action, direction, policy etc., at a later date. Member Mutch said that made it a little bit less of a problem.
There was Council consensus to set the special meeting for November 20, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
2. Interview of Candidates for Appointment to Boards and Commissions:
7:00 Ernie Aruffo – Board of Review
Mr. Aruffo noted he enjoyed being on the Board of Review with Chief BeGole and Marjorie Nanian. He said they reviewed the materials, and he wondered how many people would have an issue this year because of the economy. Mr. Aruffo noted he didn’t recall anyone ever objecting to their final decision, and very few that go before the Board go on to the State Tax Tribunal.
Member Margolis commended Mr. Aruffo for the number of years he had devoted to the City of Novi. She asked, based on his experience, if there was any information he wanted to share with Council that he thought they should pay closer attention to. Mr. Arrufo replied it was a growing and learning experience, and the staff people were so well informed that they just had to follow their lead.
Member Gatt said he had no questions, and that he had known Mr. Aruffo for 29 years. Member Gatt knew Mr. Aruffo to be a gentleman, and he thought they would never find a better qualified person. Member Gatt stated Mr. Aruffo had his full support.
Member Mutch echoed the comments of Member Gatt. He said Mr. Aruffo was an outstanding member of the community, and his list of accomplishments spoke for themselves. He noted that the absence of any kind of press indicated that Novi’s Board of Review was doing an excellent job, and had an excellent team. Member Mutch said he appreciated Mr. Aruffo stepping forward again, and looked forward to another 3 years of service.
Member Nagy thanked Mr. Aruffo for his years of excellent service to the City. She said they all held him in high esteem, and she looked forward to seeing him on Election Day at Village Oaks.
Mayor Landry commented that Mr. Aruffo’s service to the City was legend, and he could not think of a more thankless job than the Board of Review, which had to deal with people who were unhappy with their assessment. He said they do a wonderful job, they’re professional, they put on the best face that the City could put on, and they listen intently and with care to everything that was said. Mayor Landry said on behalf of the City Council, he wanted to thank him for his years of service, and for wanting to step forward one more time.
Mr. Aruffo thanked the Council, and said it had been a joy to serve Novi.
7:10 G. Brent Canup – Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Canup noted he had served Novi 20 plus years between the Planning Commission, and the ZBA, and preferred the ZBA. He said he had no political aspirations and was content being on the ZBA, and would like to think that his past experience and knowledge lent something to the ZBA.
Member Gatt noted he had known Mr. Canup for years as a very dedicated Novi resident. Member Gatt said Mr. Canup had served faithfully, and had his full support.
Member Mutch said he had the good fortune to serve with Mr. Canup on the Planning Commission. He appreciated his history of many of the planning issues, and his common sense approach to the many difficult issues they faced on the Commission. Member Mutch asked if enough training and information was provided for the newer members of the ZBA, or did Council need to provide more.
Mr. Canup replied there needed to be more guidance as to the latitude of the ZBA, and their responsibilities. He said a lot of people didn’t realize the tremendous amount of power that the ZBA had. He noted the ZBA could overturn any decision by almost any Board in the City. He thought sometimes, they needed to be a little more informed, and reminded of what their duties were, and to deal with hardships not likes and dislikes. He said the big question was what the hardship was, and if there was no hardship, there was no case. Mr. Canup said he had seen many cases approved that shouldn’t have been because there was no hardship. He thought there needed to be more education from Council and legal, etc. Member Mutch assured him that was something Council could follow up, and direct resources to assist with that.
Member Nagy noted Mr. Canup had a great deal of experience and knowledge to bring to the ZBA. She said when watching the ZBA meetings, she thought some of the newer members needed to know the definition of hardship, that it wasn’t a matter of whether they liked it or not, or they knew someone, it was what was legal. She asked if there would be any benefit for the ZBA to have a joint meeting with Council, or anything Council could do to help make it a better ZBA. Mr. Canup responded it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a joint session with Council and the legal staff. He said some members are not aware of how the ZBA should operate as far as hardships, etc. He thought it would be a good thing to have Council lay out the parameters of what was expected of the ZBA, and what the powers of the ZBA were. Member Nagy said he had her full support.
Member Margolis echoed the comments that had been made, and noted Mr. Canup’s long history with the City, and how they needed that kind of expertise. She said she wondered if a joint Council meeting was the best way to provide education. She asked Mr. Canup what his best education was on the ZBA. Mr. Canup said it had been 25 years since he started, and thought it was a matter of experience and knowledge of the past that was important. Mr. Canup thought the best thing to do was ask the City Managers office and staff to at least have an educational session with new members.
Mayor Landry said Mr. Canup was one of the very few people who had walked every inch of this town, and this was as much his town as anyone’s. He said Mr. Canup grew up in Novi, served selflessly all these years, and Council thanked him for that. He noted that Mr. Canup was absolutely right the ZBA was a quasi-judicial body, and from the ZBA, people wouldn’t go to Council they would go to Circuit Court. He said Council appreciated his offering of his wisdom and assistance.
7:20 Richard Vahlbusch – Housing and Community Development
Mr. Vahlbusch noted he had been on the HCD for the past few years. He said he got a lot of satisfaction out of the organizations that the City supported and worked with.
Member Mutch noted that the HCD didn’t meet with the frequency of other groups; but the range of services and programs to consider and choose from was a good introduction to city government. Member Mutch said Mr. Vahlbusch and the rest of the Committee had to pick and choose between requests for funding with limited funds. He asked if there were services or organizations that were making requests that were not currently being fully funded, and if he thought consideration should be given to funding through Federal money or other grant money.
Mr. Vahlbusch replied there was one organization that, almost on an annual basis, requested funds that they had not been able to help them with. He said it would be nice to have more funds to work with, but it’s totally out of their control, and they worked with what they were given. He said they fund the same organizations every year. However, Mr. Vahlbusch said last year they funded a computer for the blind currently in the Library, which he thought was an outstanding item to use funds for.
Member Nagy thanked him for his service so far, and said she appreciated his coming forward again. She knew they had to make some difficult decisions, and asked what criteria they used to determine which organizations would be funded when there was a greater need. He replied the biggest criteria they used was how much the organization serviced the residents of Novi. If the organization requesting funds did not service Novi residents, they tend to not fund them as much as they would one that did.
Member Margolis asked him if there was any other criterion they used beyond its effect on the Novi residents, given that perhaps two competing organizations had a similar impact. He said he couldn’t recall any conflicts like that between two organizations providing similar types of service.
Member Gatt asked what the one thing was he would change for HCD to make it better besides money. Mr. Vahlbusch responded he would like to have two more members so they would have a full committee.
Mayor Landry noted if someone in the Detroit Metropolitan area was asked about the City of Novi, the first thing they thought of would not be people who were in financial need, but there are people in need in Novi. He said that was exactly why the HCD committee existed. Mayor Landry said they provide direct Federal and State funds to certain organizations. He said there was also the home improvement program, which was about 50% of the funds. Those funds were used for people and the elderly who needed a new furnace, roof, etc. He said it was a wonderful service that Mr. Vahlbusch and his committee provided, and commended him for stepping forward.
7:30 Paul Policicchio – Parks, Recreation and Forestry
Mr. Policicchio noted he had been a resident for 30 years, and had 3 grown children who had all benefited from the Parks and Recreation programs. He said he was now a retiree, and looked forward to enjoying service to the community. He felt there was no other department that directly touched more people by their participation and direct involvement, than the Parks and Recreation Department. He said this was an opportunity to give back to the community.
Member Nagy noted he talked about recreational opportunities for people of all ages, and she thought Parks and Recreation was beyond just recreational opportunities. She asked if he was aware that the City obtained 51 acres of natural land, and whether he agreed with the decision that it should remain natural.
Mr. Policicchio replied he had read about it in the Novi News, and part of his living in Novi had been because Novi provided a good quality of life. He said without the amenities, such as bike paths, etc., it would just become another run of the mill City, He said he valued the superior quality of life in Novi compared to other communities, who concentrated on bricks and mortar.
Member Margolis asked if he was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission, and came to the end of his term, what would be the one thing he would want to look back and say he accomplished that would make him feel like the time spent there was worthwhile. Mr. Policicchio said he would like to see that the existing programs were continued and maybe expanded. He said he would like to see more cooperation between the intergovernmental entities, in terms of promoting the sports. He said it was nice to have programs in the City that complemented what was going on in the schools.
Member Gatt asked if he were appointed to this board, what would he hope to accomplish to help the senior citizen population. Mr. Policicchio thought the opportunities from his generation came from having parks, and bike paths they could enjoy, and also programs such as excursions, etc. He said he wouldn’t say the City was deficient now in what was offered to the seniors, but thought there were opportunities to be provided for them with the natural resources that were acquired, the 51 acres, such as a nature tour that wouldn’t cost the City anything.
Member Mutch asked how he felt about the fees charged, and if they were reasonable for the value they received. Mr. Policicchio felt the fees were a fair assessment to have participation. He didn’t think the fees were onerous, and did think they were reasonably related to what was provided. He felt there were good facilities in Novi, in terms of recreational opportunities, and they were well run.
Mayor Landry noted Mr. Policicchio was a Blanchard appointee to the Public Health Advisory Council, and an Engler appointee to the Michigan Employment Security Commission. He said apparently this applicant could work with a lot of different people, and that spoke very well of him. He commented that as they progress in the City, the Parks and Recreation Department would have to get real creative in how the maintenance of the facilities, and the programs were funded. He said the need for those programs was expanding as the population moved forward. He encouraged the Parks and Recreation Department to continue their creative means of funding and providing services for Novi residents.
7:40 Ronald Boron – Housing and Community Development
Mr. Boron noted he was a 20 year resident that had always been interested in donating his time to the City, whether as a volunteer for the Police Department or the Court, etc. However, he had always remained on the fringe of participation of City boards or commissions. He said he had been involved in sales management in his career, and took it very seriously when he reviewed and forecasted funds budgeted. Mr. Boron said he had noticed there was a need for some of the residents in the City of Novi around the lake area, and wherever there was a need he was there. He said whether with Ms. Uglow or Member Nagy when there was a road bond issue a few years ago, he had always participated. He said he was not a joiner; he was a worker when he joined. He felt with his past experience he would do quite well. He said what Mr. Vahlbusch said this evening would hit home with him because he always had that soft spot in his heart, and would like to see people receive funds, and work with the different groups that need it.
Member Nagy noted Mr. Boron was also the President of the Novi Homeowners Association Council, and he devoted his time to the handicapped parking patrol in the City. She commented she had known him for quite a while, and he did an excellent job. She thanked him for what he had done, and said he had her support.
Member Mutch noted Mr. Boron had the opportunity to be involved with the City through the homeowners association group, and one of the challenges that the HCD Committee and the City staff had was finding those people who were in need of assistance. He asked from his experience, what were the tools or activities that could reach people in need. Mr. Boron noted when Craig Klaver was still with Novi, he approached him, and Mr. Klaver brought a brochure to Mr. Boron because of his involvement in the homerowners association. He said at that time, he didn’t know that program was out there. He researched it and found out how the money came from the Community Block Grant Program through the State, County and to the City. He thought when homeowners associations were having their meetings; it would be a good time to mention this resource in case there was a need in the subdivision. He felt with the economy being the way it was, it would get worse before getting better. Mr. Boron thought they had to get the information out to the public, and suggested possibly through Rotary or Goodfellows.
Member Gatt asked if he were appointed, what would be his first recommendation at the first meeting to make it better. Mr. Boron said he had very little experience at the City level as far as where the money went. He knew how it came in and had reviewed the budgets of several cities and of Oakland County. He thought rather than recommending the same old thing, they should step back, see which organization had the greatest need, and examine how the money was spent.
Member Margolis stated she was very impressed that Mr. Boron had done his homework, and was knowledgeable about the position he was seeking. She said she admired his thought process and he would have her support.
Mayor Landry echoed the comments of Member Margolis, and stated Mr. Boron was not afraid to volunteer for things.
7:50 Christina Radcliffe – Parks, Recreation and Forestry
Ms. Radcliffe said she was looking for an introduction into City government, and the perspective she could offer was that she worked in the public sector at Wayne State University. She noted she had been in purchasing, finance and budgeting for 20 years. She said she was a 5 year resident of Novi and lived on the outskirts of the City, and felt somewhat disconnected with the community, which was one reason she was applying.
Member Mutch asked at the end of her term on the Parks and Recreation and Forestry Commission, what would she have wanted to accomplish to make her time on the Commission worthwhile. Ms. Radcliffe thought the City had done a great job with the Parks and Recreation area and growing programs. So, she thought the success story would be continuing with those programs, and seeing them as strong as they are today.
Member Gatt asked if she originally applied for Library Board first. She said yes, but when applying she didn’t realize how the process worked. She said just judging, based on what she saw, and what her experience was, she put the Library Board first because she had pursued a degree in Library Science. Member Gatt asked what she would do for the senior population. Ms. Radcliffe stated she would see them as a resource, making sure that people were reaching out to them, and they knew what was available to them. She thought in a lot of communities the senior groups were forgotten, and she would reach out to that community, and make sure the seniors knew how to get out to the programs available to them.
Member Margolis noted she was very familiar with Ms. Radcliffe’s work at Wayne State, and before she interviewed the first time, she took the initiative to contact Member Margolis and talk to her about Novi. She knew that Ms. Radcliffe wanted to be involved with Novi, and had done some things with the Public Access Committee. However, that committee met during the day and she didn’t feel she could be effective. Member Margolis said they had talked today about people with long histories serving on commissions, and she believed that diversity was important to, and we need people coming forward for their first volunteer position. She asked Ms. Radcliffe what she could bring to the commission that someone who had been on it a long time wouldn’t be able to bring. Ms. Radcliffe said she would bring a fresh perspective, new opinions, and new ideas to discuss and ponder.
Member Nagy asked what she saw on this commission as a new idea. Ms. Radcliffe thought, at this point, to bring an idea up would be somewhat irresponsible. She felt she needed to get in, observe, and find out what there was to offer before she started bringing her ideas to the table. Member Nagy said she had been working on getting a degree in Library Science, and she looked at the committees she had chosen and Parks and Recreation was the last one. She asked if Ms. Radcliffe had a preference. Ms. Radcliffe said she didn’t put them in any kind of order; she just listed the four that most interested her. She said she was looking for a committee that would enhance the professional experience she brought to the table, which would be in an administrative capacity, with budgeting and finance programs.
Mayor Landry noted he was very pleased to have people such as herself, who have never been on a committee before, step up and say they wanted to be part of the City, and participate in any way they could. He thanked her for coming forward and offering her services.
8:00 Randy Burlison – Zoning Board of Appeals; Public Access Promotion Commission; Stormwater Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee
Ms. Cornelius, City Clerk, advised Council that Mr. Burlison called and said an emergency had come up, and he could not attend this evening. Mayor Landry said Mr. Burlison would be considered based on his application.
8:10 David Greco – Zoning Board of Appeals; Stormwater Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee –
Mr. Greco stated he was an attorney and a partner in a law firm in Southfield, an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Taylor, and had a general litigation practice. He said he had been a resident of Novi since 2003 with his wife and children. He said he initially applied during the previous interview process as a way to get involved in the community.
Member Gatt commented that he was exactly what the ZBA needed. He said there were new people on the ZBA, and sometimes there was a question as to what a hardship was and what was legal. He asked how he would approach it when a citizen came before the ZBA wanting to put on a beautiful addition to the back of his home that would encroach on his neighbor’s property just a few feet. This person would say it would make the house nicer, and none of the neighbors cared. How would he rule on something like that? Mr. Greco said, generally, what should be done as a board was to be consistent with the community, and try to be as impartial as possible in making the rulings. He said sometimes the lack of complaints didn’t mean it was OK to do it. He said, as an Assistant City Attorney, he did his City prosecutor duties once a week, and had to make difficult decisions all the time in his prosecutorial discretion, and sometimes it was hard trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong. However, in this he would have to look at the facts of the case, and base his decision on what would be a good precedent, and what would be a good decision on a going forward basis. He said sometimes poor decisions of the past stuck out very badly, and compromised other things making the decisions harder.
Member Margolis noted he listed a number of boards and commission, and asked if he had a preference. Mr. Greco said he was looking to get involved, and didn’t have a preference. He said some of the commissions didn’t look as interesting as others, but of the two on the agenda tonight it would be the ZBA, because the Stormwater Management only met four times a year, and he would like to be more involved than that.
Member Nagy thought it was interesting that he wanted to be involved considering he was already involved with another City. She asked when someone was making a motion, did he feel it was important to list the reasons they were making the motion, whether it was a motion for or against during a ZBA meeting. Mr. Greco commented he had not observed a ZBA meeting; the reasons for the motion should be there for the record, and not just for the people attending the meeting. He said the public record of what happened was very important.
Member Mutch asked if he had any experience with zoning issues during his time with the City of Taylor. Mr. Greco said only on a limited consulting type basis, so the answer was no. Member Mutch said that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, he just wanted to know how deeply involved he was with the issues there, and was glad to see that he could come with an open mind.
Mayor Landry appreciated his willingness to serve, and stated he hoped he would keep coming forward to apply even if he wasn’t appointed.
8:20 Elizabeth Nick – Historical Commission
Ms. Nick noted she was seeking a second term with the Historical Commission. She said she joined the City in this endeavor, and she liked it a lot.
Member Margolis asked what she accomplished during her time on the Historical Commission, and what she would like to see get accomplished in the future. Ms. Nick stated she had no idea what the Commission did 3 years ago. However, since that time she found it interesting to meet in the Township Hall, and to know some of the issues of that structure. She said before joining the commission she had not attended the Fuerst Farm Family day, and thought it was such a service to the community. She said her particular part was encouraging people to participate in that activity, and to find some interesting things to engage the community.
Member Nagy noted the Fuerst Farm Family Day was fun, and she asked what the Council could do to improve the activities the Historical Commission offered. Ms. Nick said she would like to see the Fuerst Farm cleaned up and open so people could see how the Fuerst family lived. She thought it would also be interesting and a wonderful thing to show the inside of the barns. She mentioned she worked at Greenfield Village, and was one of those people who interpreted houses to people who came through. She said there was nothing like having people look around to see how people lived.
Member Mutch agreed with Ms. Nick that it was a wonderful event for the community. He said looking forward for opportunities to make more people aware of the historic resources that were there would be a benefit for all ages of the community, especially the children to be able to see the inside of the barn. Member Mutch felt that having that resource they should take full advantage of it. He thanked Ms. Nick for her time and energy, and looked forward to her service on the commission for another three years.
Member Gatt stated she had his support.
Mayor Landry asked if the Historical Commission had come up with a dollar figure to renovate the Fuerst Farm. He said he was specifically speaking of the Fuerst Family Home. He knew it had foundation problems, electricity, etc. Ms. Nick stated she wasn’t aware of it. Mayor Landry encouraged her to investigate it, because if they could open it up and get people in, it would generate enough interest and donations in and of itself.
8:30 Sherrie Konkus – Housing and Community Development
Ms. Konkus noted she was drawn to this committee because, after doing some research, it was interesting to see how the City allocated funds. She said she was drawn to this because she had recently received her Masters Degree in Social Justice, and the whole idea of reaching out to under served populations in the City of Novi was really important to her. She had been a resident of the City for 21 years, with 20 years of business experience in the City as well. She worked at the Digital Equipment Corporation, before it became Compaq, which she served as Vice President with a multi million dollar profit and loss responsibility. She said she knew how to work profit and loss expense, make tough decisions, and do contract negotiations. She thought her blend of business and Social Justice expertise could serve this committee well.
Member Nagy asked what other committees she might be interested in. Ms. Konkus stated HCD did pull at her because of her background. However, now that she had a little more time, she would really like to be involved in a more detailed level in the City. Ms. Konkus said she would be open if there was a skill set match, and a need match, to considering any position Council might have in mind.
Member Mutch noted it was always wonderful to have residents with the breadth of background she had. He thought Novi had a lot of hidden gems in the community with people who have a lot of life experience, who would be great to have involved in Novi City government. He said based on Ms. Konkus it sounded like she was one of them. Member
Mutch said one of the things he found interesting in her application was her comment that she was involved in the 2000 census, and her application said "and in working as a census worker in Novi she had gained considerable insight into the astounding variety within our community". Member Mutch said he had previously asked how as a City they could reach out to those underserved populations, and connect them with the resources available. He asked how she would recommend reaching out to the people in the community who might not go to the City web site or look at a flyer brought to their home. Ms. Konkus noted as she walked the City, she was really amazed at the diversity. Ms. Konkus said you could go to two homes right next to each other, and have quite a different living experience. She said from the outward appearance, the City might seem quite homogenous to people. She said there was a great diversity of need out there, and to the point of how they should outreach, there had been a number of good suggestions. She said she would use an "all channel strategy", by reaching out to churches, services groups within the community, and cable. She commented the Ford decision would be made in January, and if you look around the City at how many homes are for sale, she would want to know if the lending institutions were involved, was there a way to keep families intact in the City of Novi through a difficult transition year. She thought those would be some of the things they could focus on, and begin flushing out some of those families in need and begin addressing those before the crisis really hit the family. Member Mutch said as the Mayor noted, the City was growing from a boom town to a mature community, and there would be more demands for the kinds of services the HCD currently address through the Block Grant Program. He thought as Council discussed goals over the next three or four months, he thought they should think about looking at this particular committee or similar structure to identify and address some of those needs beyond what was currently being done. He said as the community matures there would be a greater range of needs to meet, and he felt they had to do that. Member Mutch thought it was something that was taken for granted in the good times, and they needed to be prepared to take on in the bad times.
Ms. Konkus stated this committee had $112,000 allocated in 1996, and last year it was $116,700. She said think about how much Novi had changed in that time period, and the dollars still being roughly equivalent, it made one wonder if the need was still equivalent, which she doubted. She asked if there were other opportunities to pursue grant funding that could be looked at from a City perspective.
Member Gatt stated he was very impressed with Ms. Konkus and her answers. He read, in response to the question to indicate the reasons for desiring to serve, Ms. Konkus answered "she was deeply interested in ensuring that Novi remains a thriving, vibrant community, over the long term and this will require continued care and thoughtful planning of our housing opportunities, and wise use of all possible funding resources." Member Gatt said her answers articulated that, and she brought forth ideas that he had not thought of on how to use those funds and how to make them bigger. Member Gatt said she had his full support.
Member Margolis said Ms. Konkus had really pushed the edges, and had many of the Council members thinking out of the box. She thanked her for coming forward, and looked forward to her working with the City.
Mayor Landry noted he focused on her experience as a census taker. He said the diversity in this City was really amazing. He said it was a challenge to meet all those needs, and commended her for applying and offering her services to this committee.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at 8:25P.M.
David Landry, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
______________________________ Date approved:
Transcribed by Charlene Mc Lean