REGULAR MEETING OF THE NOVI PLANNING COMMISSION

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 1996 AT 7:30 P.M.

COUNCIL CHAMBER - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD

(810) 347-0475

 

Meeting called to order at 7:31 p.m. by Chairperson Lorenzo

 

PRESENT: Members Bonaventura, Bononi, Capello (arrived late), Hodges, Markham, Vrettas, Weddington, Chairperson Lorenzo

 

ABSENT: Member Hoadley (absent/excused)

 

ALSO PRESENT: City Attorney Dennis Watson, Planning Consultant Brandon Rogers, Traffic Consultant Rod Arroyo, Engineering Consultant Dave Bluhm, Director of Planning & Community Development Jim Wahl, Staff Planner Greg Capote, and Planning Aide Steven Cohen

 

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

 

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Chairperson Lorenzo asked if there were any changes or additions to the agenda. Member Bonaventura would like to add as Item 2, under Matters for Discussion; A Joint Meeting with City Council. Chairperson Lorenzo asked the Commission to entertain a motion to approve as amended.

 

 

PM-96-04-064 TO APPROVE AGENDA AS AMENDED

 

Moved by Bonaventura, seconded by Vrettas, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Agenda as amended by adding as Item 1, under Matters for Discussion; A Joint Meeting with City Council.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo called for an oral vote and asked all those in favor of approving the Agenda as amended please signify by saying aye; those opposed say no. Motion passes unanimously.

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-064 - MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

 

Yes: Bonaventura, Bononi, Hodges, Lorenzo, Markham, Vrettas, Weddington

No: None

 

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

 

Seeing no one, Chairperson Lorenzo closed the first Audience Participation stating that there will be a second Audience Participation after the midpoint break and a third before adjournment.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

Member Weddington stated that the correspondence received consisted of twelve letters that were received in relation to the Novi-Northville Montessori School addition. Member Weddington advised that she will not read them, but she reported that one was from an adjacent property owner and eleven were letters submitted from parents of the students and most are included in the packet. Member Weddington further stated that they were all in support of the proposed addition and opposed to changing the drop off/pickup procedure that is currently in place at the school. Member Weddington stated that she did receive one additional letter that was also in support of the petition.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that these letters will become part of the official record and those that wish to read them can contact Mr. Cohen.

 

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

1. Final approval of the February 7, 1996 Regular Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

2. Approval of the March 6, 1996 Regular Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

 

Member Hodges stated that she believed Member Hoadley had a question about the February 7, 1996 Minutes in regards to one of the motions and asked if it should be postponed until he is in attendance. Chairperson Lorenzo asked Mr. Cohen if Member Hoadley was satisfied. Mr. Cohen responded that he had visited the Department; worked with the clerk and is satisfied with the results. Chairperson Lorenzo advised the Commission that she believes that Member Hoadley requested the specific changes that have been noted.

 

No other changes were requested and Chairperson Lorenzo entertained a motion to approve the

minutes as proposed.

 

 

PM-96-04-065 TO APPROVE MINUTES AS PROPOSED

 

Moved by Vrettas, seconded by Markham, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the February 7, 1996 and March 6, 1996 Regular Planning Commission Meeting Minutes as proposed.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo called for an oral vote and asked for all those in favor of approving the February 7 and March 6, 1996 Minutes, please signify by saying aye; those opposed say no. Motion passes unanimously.

 

 

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-065 - MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

 

Yes: Bonaventura, Bononi, Hodges, Lorenzo, Markham, Vrettas, Weddington

No: None

 

 

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

 

1. ZONING MAP AMENDMENT 18.544

Property located at the end of Trans-X Drive for possible recommendation to City Council for rezoning from Light Industrial District (I-1) to General Industrial (I-2) and from General Industrial (I-2) to Light Industrial (I-1) or any other appropriate zoning district.

 

Lee Mamola stated that he is representing Monte Costella Company, who is the owner of the property. Mr. Mamola advised that the petition to rezone a part of this property is an attempt to clean up an existing irregular zoning line. Mr. Mamola advised that the diagram represents a two-parcel property. The darker shaded area is the existing I-2 area, the balance to the south is zoned I-1, and a small portion (approximately 60' in width) to the east is zoned I-2. Mr. Mamola further stated that they are asking the Commission to send a recommendation to Council that would change a portion of the I-2 zoning to I-1 in exchange for the I-2 zoning to the south. Mr. Mamola reported that the existing north and south property line would be extended for purposes of a zoning line onward to where it met the property and would be the line for demarcation between I-2 and I-1. Mr. Mamola advised that this results in moving the I-2 zoning district approximately 60' further away from the residential property to the east and allows for an opportunity for the outdoor storage to expand into the adjacent parcel. Mr. Mamola added that there are no immediate plans to expand outdoor storage on this property and that it is simply a device to do it now in the event that they may wish to expand in the future.

 

Brandon Rogers, Planning Consultant, summarized his recommendation letter dated January 30, 1996 and recommends the zoning amendment. Mr. Brandon stated that his reasons for approval are (1) permitting better site plan compliance for light industrial use, (2) increased protection for the adjacent residential area (i.e., Meadowbrook Glens Subdivision No. 2), and (3) uniformity of zoning adjacent to CSX RR. Mr. Rogers further recommends that the Master Plan for Land Use be amended to reflect the revision.

 

 

Ellen M. Witechowsky, 42527 Park Ridge Road, stated that she lives in Meadowbrook Glens behind the Costella site and she does not see any reason to rezone from I-1 that is close to residential to I-2. She further stated that she would not oppose the rezoning of I-2 to I-1. Ms. Witechowsky stated that the residents are already subjected to noise and light from all of the projects behind the subdivision. She further stated that adding I-2 increases the risk of more noise and more parking lights. Ms. Witechowsky quoted Section 2000 in the zoning code, "The external effects of general industrial are felt in the surrounding areas." Therefore, Ms. Witechowsky advised that adding more I-2 would result in more adverse effects.

 

 

Tom Harmon, 42463 Park Ridge Road, requested the Commission to deny Map Amendment 18.544 which would rezone Parcel B from I-1 to I-2. Mr. Harmon stated that Parcel B as it is currently zoned may not be used for open storage materials or equipment. Mr. Harmon further stated that the photos indicate that the applicant has totally disregarded Novi’s zoning ordinances and is using Parcel B for the open storage of various building materials. Furthermore, Mr. Harmon stated that the Novi Building Department was notified of a suspected violation and it is Mr. Harmon’s understanding that as a result of its investigation, the applicant was issued a zoning violation notice. Mr. Harmon reported that despite receiving the notice, which included a demand for the removal of materials within ten days, the applicant has not removed any of the materials depicted in the photos. Mr. Harmon stated that instead, the applicant has stored additional materials on Parcel B. Mr. Harmon is aware that the applicant’s attorneys are seeking bids for the removal of the materials, in light of the storage of additional materials, such claims would appear to him to be a convenient stall tactic pending the Commission’s decision on the request for the rezoning. Mr. Harmon stated that the applicant has blatantly disregarded the City’s zoning regulations and therefore, he requests that the City enforce its ordinances, that the Commission honors its commitments to the City and its residents, and that the applicants request to rezone Parcel B to heavy industrial be denied. Since there are no current plans for heavy industrial development of Parcel B, to Mr. Harmon it would appear that the applicant is seeking a zoning change for his own convenience for outside storage and not from necessity. Mr. Harmon went on to state that if the applicant desires the rezoning for storage as it is already shown in the photos, he asks why should the Commission believe that the applicant would comply with Ordinance 2001.3 which requires that outdoor storage yards be obscured by masonry wall, landscaped earth berm, a chain link fence with heavy screened plantings, or a combination thereof. Mr. Harmon asks why the applicant should be rewarded for violating the City’s zoning ordinances by granting his request to rezone a parcel he already misuses. Furthermore, Mr. Harmon states that if the applicant is already in violation of the current zoning without recourse from the City, what recourse would a neighboring resident have if this Commission granted the applicants request when he violates the requirements imposed by Ordinance 2001 for heavy industrial zoned parcels. Mr. Harmon reported that when he moved into the area five years ago, the stored materials shown in the photos were not there. He added that the view of the regulated woodlands was beautiful and served as a factor in his decision to move into Meadowbrook Glens. Mr. Harmon restated that the current view of the Costella property from his home is not attractive and asked the Commission not to reward the applicant for his blatant disregard of the City’s zoning regulations and deny Zoning Map Amendment 18.544.

 

 

Ronald Witechowsky, 42527 Park Ridge Road, also does not see a reason why there is a reason to rezone the parcel when there is no proposal. Secondly, Mr. Witechowsky stated that before the Commission makes their decision that the Commissioner’s visit the site because it looks worse than the photos show. Mr. Witechowsky further asked the Commission to deny the applicant’s request for rezoning.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo closed the Public Hearing and turned the matter over to the Commission for Discussion.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Member Bonaventura advised that he visited the site on Saturday and saw that there are stacks of pallets directly on the ground. Member Bonaventura further stated that offsite from the approved site of I-2 which is developed and fenced in, there are a few 55 gallon drums that are rusted with sharp edges and piles of cement curbing. Member Bonaventura stated that the site is disgusting, considering it is an undeveloped site. Member Bonaventura reported that he assumed that it is illegal to purchase a piece of I-2 property in Novi without a site plan and just pile garbage on it like the proposed amendment site. Member Bonaventura’s main concern is about the open area between the residential and the I-2. Member Bonaventura stated that although the property is not adjacent to residential, he asked if there is undeveloped land between the I-2 and the residential? Mr. Rogers replied that he was alluding to that in the possible future plan for another building site in that area. Mr. Rogers further reported that it is vacant and there are regulated woodlands there. Mr. Rogers stated that he is pleased that there is enforcement action about the open storage because the ordinance in an I-2 District is very clear about the opaque screening for the site. Mr. Rogers also stated that if there was to be a rezoning for Parcel B, the screening requirements would have to be met along the entire dotted line on the plan which is not currently complied with. Mr. Rogers added that if the back parcel, which would remain I-1, were developed, it would still require a screening between the I-1 and I-2.

 

Member Bonaventura stated that one reason for the request for rezoning is site plan compliance and he asked if it refers to the site plan that was submitted two weeks ago that would like to go from I-2 to I-1? Mr. Rogers replied yes, because the setbacks are more stringent in the I-2. Member Bonaventura stated that another reason was that the I-2 would then move 60' further away from the residential. Mr. Rogers replied yes. Member Bonaventura agrees with these two reasons for the I-2 property being zoned to I-1, but he is now looking for a reason to rezone the I-1 to I-2. Member Bonaventura asked if the only reason for rezoning from I-1 to I-2 is because it makes for a neater line on the zoning map? Mr. Rogers replied yes; in addition to its adjacency to the railroad and it would also provide room for use by the Monte Costella Company for what they do if it is properly developed and screened.

 

Mr. Rogers further advised that the Costella Company may need more space to stay in Novi and they cannot have open storage legally on Parcel B as it is currently zoned. Mr. Rogers further stated that they have a right to petition and the Commission has a right to recommend. Member Bonaventura reminded the Commission that they should not consider site specific plans when considering a rezoning because anything can happen to the property. Member Bonaventura then asked if there are various types of businesses that could be on the I-2. Mr. Rogers reported that it is possible if there is street access or if it were developed into an industrial park with a private road system.

 

Member Bonaventura asked if a street were taken from the end of the cul-de-sac and ran it through the property, would that be the intent of the cul-de-sac? Mr. Arroyo responded that it would require an exception from the City Council because it would exceed the maximum distance allowed for in the Design and Construction Standards.

 

 

PM-96-04-066 TO SEND A POSITIVE RECOMMENDATION TO CITY COUNCIL TO REZONE THE LIGHT INDUSTRIAL FROM I-2 TO I-1 AND TO SEND A NEGATIVE RECOMMENDATION FOR THE ZONING OF THE I-1 TO I-2

 

Moved by Bonaventura, seconded by Vrettas, CARRIED (7-1): To send a positive recommendation to City Council to rezone the Light Industrial from I-2 to I-1 and to send a negative recommendation for the zoning of the I-1 to I-2 for Map Amendment 18.544.

 

Member Bonaventura reminded the Commission that a piece of the railroad track was used a few years ago to transport the President of the United States through Novi. Member Bonaventura stated it is disgusting to him to think that the President could have possibly looked at garbage piled along the tracks on the adjacent open land because of the I-2 zoning ordinance.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that it was moved and seconded to send a positive recommendation to City Council for the rezoning from I-2 to I-1 and a negative recommendation for I-1 to I-2. Chairperson Lorenzo asked if there was any discussion on the motion.

 

Member Hodges asked if the Planning Commission has enforcement powers in the matter of outside storage. Mr. Watson responded that the Commission does not have that authority directly and that the enforcement powers lie with the Ordinance Enforcement Officers within the Building Department. Mr. Watson further advised that the Commission can make its feelings known and ask Mr. Cohen to discuss the matter with the Building Department and report back to the Commission. Member Hodges asked if a formal motion is needed. Mr. Watson replied that it could be made in a request. Chairperson Lorenzo asked if Member Hodges is making such a request? Member Hodges replied that she is and Mr. Cohen replied that he would follow up on the matter.

 

Member Vrettas stated that it would be beneficial to have dates of when a complaint was received, when a corrective notice was sent to the property owner, and a time line included on the report. Member Hodges stated that she would also like to extend her request to include information about the enforcement process. Member Hodges further stated that it is one thing to say that nothing has been done, but it is important to also understand the enforcement process and what can actually be done under that process. Mr. Cohen replied that he would bring a report back to the next meeting.

Member Bononi asked the applicant if the area that is being proposed to be rezoned to I-2 is approximately 0.57 acres? Mr. Mamola responded that the I-2 site where the existing Monte Costella property is developed with their building, parking, and so on is about 1˝ acres and would estimate the site to be close to ˝ acre. Mr. Mamola described the Monte Costella Company as one of the largest masonry companies in the state of Michigan and has most recently built the Veteran’s Hospital downtown. Mr. Mamola also advised that they constructed the brick sound wall on I-696 toward Southfield. Mr. Mamola reported that Costella needs the outdoor storage for scaffolding, the movement of mixing machines, and the storage of materials just by the nature of their business. Mr. Mamola further reported that there are times during the construction process that they may receive an order of materials and there is no place to put it on the actual construction site. Member Bononi asked if there is anything inherent to the nature of those building materials that they could not be stored indoors? Mr. Mamola replied that some of the materials could be, but some would be difficult to move indoors due to the nature of their bulk and weight. Mr. Mamola further stated that the current building on the site reasonably "maxs" out the property and there is little room to add onto their building. Mr. Mamola added that much of the rear part of the building is used for the repair, maintenance, and storage of machines and equipment; the front part of the building is an office facility. Member Bononi asked if there was anything to prevent them from proposing an accessory building? Mr. Mamola replied that it would be very difficult to place a structure on the site and maintain the setback requirements because the I-2 District has greater setback requirements. Mr. Mamola added that it would probably require a variance.

 

Member Bononi added that she shares Member Bonaventura’s concerns about rezoning from I-1 to I-2 not only because of the present usage, but also because when property is rezoned, the uses that are permitted in that zone run with that zoning. Member Bononi stated that outdoor storage is often joined by junk yards, the sale of heavy trucks and equipment, and things that she would not believe are suited for that site but would be in the applicant’s right to propose since they are permitted uses under the zone.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo seeing no one else, asked Mr. Cohen to call the roll restating that the motion is to send a positive recommendation for the rezoning from I-2 to I-1 and a negative recommendation to City Council for I-1 to I-2.

 

 

 

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-066 - MOTION CARRIED

 

Yes: Bonaventura, Bononi, Capello, Lorenzo, Markham, Vrettas, Weddington

No: Hodges

 

 

 

2. NOVI-NORTHVILLE MONTESSORI CENTER ADDITION, SP-41B

Property located west of Novi Road, between Ten Mile Road and Nine Mile Road for possible Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval.

 

Ken Wright, Wright Architectural, introduced himself as the architect for the project. Mr. Wright described the project as two basic additions to an existing structure. The two large additions will expand the existing classroom area and the existing lobby area to allow for less congestion. Because the site is in the front of a wetland area, it restricts how much building addition can be added to the site. The wetland line travels along the fence and along the proposed fence addition. The back of the building is all of the wetland setback area and he is proposing to take an additional 457 square feet of wetland setback area for a playground. Mr. Wright stated that he did not believe there was any objection to that as far as the consultants are concerned. Mr. Wright stated that they are providing additional landscaping along the property line as a restoration for the wetland’s setback and they are also providing a reworking of the existing landscaping at the front of the building to provide for the buffer area between the parking and the right of way. Mr. Wright added that although it is currently existing, it infringes somewhat upon the future right of way. In order to accommodate the additional required parking spaces, Mr. Wright stated that the existing concrete area in front of the building is being shortened and a parking space will be added on each end. In addition, the existing dumpster in the middle of the parking area is being moved to the side and it will be sheltered by a new enclosure that is more aesthetically pleasing with entry from the back. Mr. Wright advised that they have complied with the request to provide a passing lane on the east side of Novi Road. Mr. Wright further advised that they have also complied with the Oakland County Road Commission’s request for an exit taper from the exit drive south of the property. Mr. Wright stated that they will match the current board and batten construction that is painted gray with a burgundy accent to maintain the aesthetics of the building; the front elevation will have very few changes. Mr. Wright also reported that the current entryway is being pulled forward, they will reuse the existing brick to match to construction that is there, and that the majority of the elevation changes are in the back of the building.

 

Brandon Rogers, Planning Consultant, referred to his March 27, 1996 by stating that the Commission is reviewing the expansion of a Special Land Use and a review of a revised Preliminary Site Plan because of the extension in the rear part of the building. Mr. Rogers also stated that the specific standards are met as indicated in his January 5, 1996 special land use review letter. Mr. Rogers stated that no woodland permit is required because the woodlands on the site are sparse. In summary, Mr. Rogers recommends approval for special land use and preliminary site plan subject to the ZBA review of the deficient north side yard setback for the building addition. Mr. Rogers will approve the final site plan when approval is recommended by the Planning Commission for special land use and preliminary site plan; the landscape plan concerns are addressed; and the ZBA’s review of the north side yard building setback deficiency.

 

David Bluhm, of JCK, stated that water and sewer currently service the site and there are no improvements proposed as for the most part, it is an existing facility. Mr. Bluhm reported that there are some small improvements being made to the existing parking lot and other than the proposed additions, the building is primarily in place. Mr. Bluhm reported that from a storm drainage standpoint, all of the surface drains from the parking area discharge into existing swales on the north and south side of the site. Mr. Bluhm added that the swales are directed back to the wetland areas and no detention is currently available on site for the existing facility. Mr. Bluhm advised that due to the minor and minimal nature of the improvements, he recommends that no detention is proposed for the improvements as he does not see any impact with the minor amount of water that will be generated from the new addition. Mr. Bluhm added that there is a flood plain that is primarily encompassed around the building and the applicant will elevate the finished grade and floor above the 100-year flood plain. Mr. Bluhm advised that the applicant will need to acquire a local permit for the flood plain, but will not have to go before the DNR because they do not regulate this flood plain area. In addition, the applicant will be required to meet all of the FEMA restrictions and that a permit will be required before final site plan approval. In conclusion, Mr. Bluhm recommends preliminary site plan approval.

 

Rod Arroyo, Traffic Consultant, has also reviewed the application and as indicated, this is an expansion of an existing facility. Mr. Arroyo reported that the maximum student capacity with the proposed addition would be 85 students. Mr. Arroyo further added that the current maximum capacity permitted is 70 students. Mr. Arroyo advised that the access exists from an existing system which is a one way in and out. Mr. Arroyo further advised that the applicant is proposing to maintain that access with some minor modifications. Mr. Arroyo estimated that a project of this size can be expected to generate approximately 400 average trips per day; with 80 trips during the a.m. peak hour/80 trips during the p.m. peak hour. As Mr. Arroyo indicated in his report, there is one deficiency from the existing zoning ordinance provision that pertains to the drop off area. Mr. Arroyo reported that the ordinance provides that a drive through area cannot conflict with a parking lot aisle area. Mr. Arroyo advised that this project was originally approved prior to that zoning ordinance standard and now that the applicant is requesting an expansion, this issue must be addressed. Mr. Arroyo further advised that given the size of the site, the applicant cannot separate the drop off area from the parking area. Mr. Arroyo has consulted a couple of Planning Commissioners regarding this issue and has also spoken with the applicant’s architect about some potential ways to try to minimize the impact. One suggestion was to explore the possibility of placing parking at the south side of the site. The problem with this suggestion is that the applicant is right at the minimum for outdoor play space as required by the zoning ordinance. Mr. Arroyo further stated that Mr. Rogers raised a concern about the parking being adjacent to the existing single family and the problem with screening the parking area. Another alternative suggested was to try to minimize the impact of the fact that the drop off area is adjacent to parking spaces. Mr. Arroyo advised that the north west portion of the parking lot has five parking spaces and would have the most potential for directly impacting the drop off. It was suggested that these spots be designated as employee parking spaces to avoid peak hour traffic and to also occupy the spaces for the entire day. Mr. Arroyo recommends that this suggestion be a part of the final site plan. Mr. Arroyo further reported that another issue new to this particular project is the provision of the passing lane, which will be constructed on Novi Road and will allowing through traffic to continue north bound and not be impacted by the left turning traffic into the site. Mr. Arroyo concluded by stating that he finds that with the exception of the drop off area, that the plan meets all other ordinance standards and therefore, alternatives to try to minimize the impact of the drop off area should be explored and will have to be taken before the ZBA prior to any final approval.

 

David Bluhm, of JCK, advised that their environmental department has also reviewed the site’s wetlands and has indicated that an administrative permit is required through JCK. Although no action is required by the Commission, Mr. Bluhm would like to bring the report forward to clarify the issues and impacts. Mr. Bluhm reported that wetlands exist along the entire west edge of the development area and continues to the west. In addition, Mr. Bluhm stated that a wetland buffer fill of approximately 500 square feet is proposed at the extreme south west corner of the site. Mr. Bluhm advised that location of wetland is shrubby in nature and does not appear to contain standing water, although there is water to the north and to the west. Mr. Bluhm reported that in the location of the wetland buffer fill north of that, there are existing play areas that are fenced in the buffer and maintained in a managed wetland buffer area with mowed grass to south of the buffer area. It is the opinion of JCK’s environmental office that this impact is not detrimental to the wetland and they recommend that the wetland permit be approved administratively. Mr. Bluhm further commented on recent conversations with the environmental department that involve the swales that direct the storm water from the parking lot to the wetland area. Mr. Bluhm stated that they would like to see the applicant evaluate some improvements to the swales from a vegetation standpoint to help eliminate the containments before they get to the wetlands and recommendations will be made to them when the final plans come in that will expect the applicant to implement a number of these recommendations.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated for the record that she has received a letter from Daniel W. Roy, Captain of the City of Novi Fire Department recommending approval. Chairperson Lorenzo then opened the floor for Public Hearing.

 

 

Susan Lenover, Owner: Heritage Property, 23875 Novi Road, advised that she is the owner of the next door property and that the traffic from the school has concerned her in the past. Ms. Lenover reported that the applicant has made a tremendous improvement and although she is pleased to report that there are no longer any traffic problems, she would hate to see any changes made to the current drop off system. Specifically, she would not like to see the parents leave their vehicles to deliver their children because it would cause a tremendous traffic back up on Novi Road. Furthermore, Ms. Lenover is in favor of the expansion because she is supportive of any improvement that has to do with Novi.

 

 

Richard Herbez, 43600 Cottisford, Northville, advised that he is the owner of the property and the small white house directly to the south of the site and he has been having a lot of problems with the Montessori school. Mr. Herbez further advised that although he has not created any problems with the school, he is concerned about the water runoff from the parking lot. Mr. Herbez reported that there is a large slope from the driveway in the south and that the curb and the sidewalk trap the water. Mr. Herbez further reported that part of the curb has been taken away, so that the water now flows directly onto his property. Mr. Herbez reported that he has had his septic field saturated, has had to move it 60' west of the old field, and he is still contemplating legal action about this. Mr. Herbez is concerned that the addition will create a greater runoff because the roof and playground both slope to the south. Mr. Herbez added that if the applicant was concerned about water runoff, they could provide a flat surface and slope it to the west. Mr. Herbez further advised that there is no culvert along the lot line to carry the water to the wetlands. Mr. Herbez stated that he has put in railroad ties and back fill with black soil to create a buffer to send the water to the west. Mr. Herbez is hoping that this issue will be addressed and although he supports the school, it should not be at the expense of the property owners. Mr. Herbez invited the environmental consultants to visit his property and see the problem for themselves. In summary, Mr. Herbez objects to this project until the direction of the water is corrected and the parking lot is regraded so that it does not affect the neighbors.

 

Seeing no other audience participants, Chairperson Lorenzo closed the Public Hearing and turned the matter over to the Commission for Discussion.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Member Weddington asked Mr. Bluhm to address Mr. Herbez’s comments. Mr. Bluhm responded that they have been looking at the area in question and he believes that Mr. Herbez’s concern can be addressed in the final plan. Mr. Bluhm reported that the applicant is showing some proposed grading in an attempt to push the water to the west more quickly by deepening the swales to address any concerns with the water going to the south. Mr. Bluhm believes that this issue can be properly addressed and they will take a field look at the situation to adjust the grading properly at the time of final site plan.

 

Member Weddington asked Mr. Bluhm to address the gap in the sidewalk that allows the damning water to discharge. Mr. Bluhm stated that he believes that the gap is closer to Novi Road and he is not exactly clear about where that problem occurs, but they will look at that in a visit to the site prior to final. Mr. Bluhm suggested that the site be graded so that the water is either directed back to the driveway and onto Novi Road or directed to the west. Mr. Bluhm further believes that a grading review and revisions to the grading can address that issue properly.

 

Member Weddington stated that she has had a personal opportunity to experience the drop off/pick up issue and found that the current practice works well. Member Weddington believes that the applicant tries to stagger times so that there is no stack up. In conclusion, Member Weddington stated that if the water and drainage issues are addressed she will be in favor of the proposal.

 

 

PM-96-04-067 FOR SPECIAL LAND USE AND PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN APPROVAL, NOVI-NORTHVILLE MONTESSORI CENTER ADDITION, SP 95-41B; SUBJECT TO ALL THE CONSULTANTS’ CONDITIONS; THE ZBA APPROVAL AND ESPECIALLY THE ENGINEERING CONCERNS ADDRESSING THE WATER ISSUE AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

 

Moved by Weddington, seconded by Vrettas, FAILED (3-5): For Special Land and Preliminary Site Plan approval, Novi-Northville Montessori Center Addition, SP 95-41B; subject to all the consultants’ conditions; the ZBA approval and especially the engineering concerns addressing the water issue and the environmental concerns.

 

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that it has been moved and seconded to approve Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan for Novi-Northville Montessori, SP 95-41B; Subject to all the consultants’ conditions, the ZBA approval, and subject to the environmental and drainage concerns being addressed by the applicant. Chairperson Lorenzo asked if there was discussion on the motion.

 

Member Hodges asked if the drainage is redirected to the west, will the play space be turned into a wetland and not be usable? Mr. Bluhm responded that the water has to be directed to the rear of the property. Mr. Bluhm added that there are no improvements proposed for the swales that are on the south side of the building which are taking most of the water away because there are no increases in drainage in that area. Mr. Bluhm reported that most of the area that is being developed is in the north and close to the wetland, so the increases do not have to be transferred across the play space area. Mr. Bluhm agreed that this issue is a legitimate concern because there is a swale that runs across the south edge of the play area and suggested that perhaps the applicant can clarify whether the swale is inside or outside of the fence line. Mr. Wright responded that the swale is inside the fence, travels along the landscaped area, and is used as a buffer. Mr. Bluhm added that the water will then be required to be carried through that swale. Mr. Bluhm advised that in a storm event, that area will flow and storm water will be directed across that swale area. Member Hodges remarked that depending upon the amount of water, it could possibly be standing water at times. Mr. Bluhm responded that it cannot be allowed to stand and there will be sufficient grade to allow it as a conveyance channel. Mr. Bluhm advised that the slope will have to be maintained at a 2% slope so that the water will not stand and it will be directed back to the wetlands off the site at which point the pockets of the official wetlands would potentially hold the water.

 

Member Hodges asked if the fence on the south side is now proposed to be moved to the property line? Mr. Wright responded yes and that in order to gain the 8500 square feet required for the play area, the fence has to be moved from where it is to the property line and encompass this portion of the wetlands. Member Hodges asked if there is any damage done to the neighboring property, would be corrected during the fence installation? Mr. Wright responded that it would be corrected. Member Hodges asked if this should be placed into the motion or is it a condition of the building code. Mr. Watson replied that it is inherent that the applicant has to take care of that. Member Hodges reiterated that she still has a strong concern about how much water is going to be on the property because it can be uncontrollable at times and she is uncertain about how much of the land is going to be usable.

 

Member Hodges then stated that she is confused about a letter included in the packet from Mr. Rao that states that parents are encouraged to park and bring their children inside the building, but then there is discussion about the drop off of the children and she wants to know which description of the drop off is accurate. Mr. Arroyo understands that there will be both with the intention of minimizing the stacking by having some parents bring their children in and by others who would use the drop off. Mr. Wright added that some parents that wish to talk with the teachers will park their cars and then some just pick them up.

 

Member Bononi has two major issues with the proposed project. Her first objection is in regards to the safety issue from the standpoint of being able to cast an affirmative vote to send the matter to the ZBA for a variance on the existing situation with regard to the separation of the drop off lane and the parking. Member Bononi stated that at the point that the applicant proposed to increase the intensity of the project, "all bets were off" and there is no way in good conscience that she could vote for this project. She further stated that if the applicant were able, as in the examples that Mr. Arroyo gave, to address the matter in some other way, she would be interested to hear what that is. In addition, she is opposed to leaving the non-separation as an issue for the ZBA.

 

Secondly, Member Bononi is concerned with the unrestricted flow that the applicant was proposing into the wetlands. If Member Bononi understands what Mr. Bluhm is proposing as an alternative plan, that is preferred. However, Member Bononi further stated that at the same time, the plan that was approved from the standpoint of the storm drainage plan is on this preliminary plan and was approved by the engineer. Member Bononi has a problem with that because there should be at least a concept of the storm drainage system in place at the time of preliminary plan approval.

Chairperson Lorenzo stated for the record that she is reluctant to approve the plan because she does not like the present situation and she is not certain how much of an improvement this plan is over the present situation. In addition, Chairperson Lorenzo shares some of Member Bononi’s concerns in terms of the storm water being directly discharged into the wetlands area. Chairperson Lorenzo’s second concern is about the use of the wetland setback and she advised the applicant that the intent of the wetland setback is to provide further protection for the wetland itself. Chairperson Lorenzo further explained that it protects the area from any detrimental impacts and helps filter some of the pollutants before it gets to the wetland. Chairperson Lorenzo realizes that the Commission discourages "just lawns" in other uses and that they try to maintain the natural vegetation within the 20' setback. She further stated that it is one thing if it is disturbed during construction and mitigated afterwards with the natural setback intact, but in this case, Chairperson Lorenzo reports that there is already ľ of a setback that is not being utilized as a setback, but is being utilized as a play area. Chairperson Lorenzo is also concerned with the drop off because it seems that the building is too large for the site. She further stated that the setbacks are deficient, the drop off zone is deficient, wetland setbacks are being utilized, the drainage is improper, and just about everything that could go wrong is going wrong. Chairperson Lorenzo advised that she spoke with Mr. Rogers and he indicated that with a reduction of a maximum of five children, from 85 to 80 children, the amount of wetland setback intrusion could be reduced in the proposed area so the extra play space would not be needed. Chairperson Lorenzo respectfully requested the Commission to consider this in the motion.

 

In terms of the alternatives for the drop off, Chairperson Lorenzo stated that Mr. Arroyo indicated that it would be possible to place additional parking spaces to the south, but that it would interfere with the 75' setback at that end of the situation. Mr. Arroyo responded by stating that it would take the parking spaces to the west, just south of the building into the play area which would be reducing the amount of play area. Chairperson Lorenzo asked how many fewer children would that make it at that point and Mr. Arroyo could not answer that. Mr. Rogers interjected by stating that a parking space is 180 square feet; which would equal two children; access aisles are 300 square feet; which would equal three children. Mr. Rogers further stated that the parking lot eats up space. Chairperson Lorenzo reiterated that she is afraid that the site has been over built. Chairperson Lorenzo would also like to make sure that if it is approved, that the upstream property owner does not suffer any impact from the floodway fill in terms of any increase in ponding or water on their property.

 

Member Vrettas agrees that over development is a major concern for him. Member Vrettas is afraid that the school may later decide that it has grown to the point that the property can no longer meet their needs and the nearby property owner is left with the damage. As an educator, Member Vrettas knows that school systems and small private schools have a tendency to grow and can outreach themselves. Member Vrettas seconded the motion because his philosophy is that these types of things need to be put on the table and voted on, so that people can know where he stands, and for the record, he will be voting against this motion.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo seeing no one else, asked Mr. Cohen to call the roll and reminded the Commission that the motion is for approval of Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan.

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-067 - MOTION FAILED

 

Yes: Capello, Markham, Weddington

No: Bononi, Hodges, Lorenzo, Vrettas, Bonaventura

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that the Commission will now move onto the next Public Hearing. Mr. Watson interjected that action has not been taken on Public Hearing, Item 2. Chairperson Lorenzo asked if it has to actually be denied? Mr. Watson replied that it does not have to be denied, but some action must be taken and a motion made on that action.

 

 

PM-96-04-068 TO POSTPONE NOVI-NORTHVILLE MONTESSORI CENTER ADDITION TO A FUTURE DATE TO GIVE THE APPLICANT TIME TO TAKE THE CONCERNS THAT WERE ADDRESSED

TONIGHT AND REWORK THIS PLAN

 

Moved by Bonaventura, seconded by Capello, CARRIED (7-1): To postpone Novi- Northville Montessori Center Addition, SP 95-41B to a future date to give the applicant time to take the concerns that were addressed tonight and rework this plan.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that it has been moved and seconded to postpone to a future date and asked Mr. Cohen to call the roll.

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-068 - MOTION CARRIED

 

Yes: Hodges, Markham, Vrettas, Weddington, Bonaventura, Bononi, Capello

No: Lorenzo

 

 

 

3. AMERITECH CELLULAR RADIO ANTENNA, SP 96-07A

Property located between Twelve Oaks Mall and I-96 for possible recommendation to City Council for Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval.

 

Bryan Monaghan stated that he is the attorney representing Ameritech Cellular Services and asked the Commission to recall that Ameritech was before them a couple of months ago with respect to a tower in the Vincenti Court area at which time he had made reference to the current proposal. The current antenna proposes the construction of 9' webs on top of the Twelve Oaks Mall water tower. Mr. Monaghan advised that although the antenna addresses an actual gap in the cellular coverage area, its primary purpose is to address a capacity issue. Mr. Monaghan reported that Ameritech has 8,500 plus customers which reside in the Novi area and that the face of the cell from the existing post office site that faces the I-96/Novi Road intersection is the busiest cell site in the entire southeastern Ameritech area (Flat Rock to Port Huron to Lansing). The current proposal is to address the volume of Novi citizens and for users traversing through the area. Mr. Monaghan reiterated Ameritech’s commitment in looking for non-obtrusive areas in which to place antennas and he believes that this site is a perfect example of their commitment and creativity. Mr. Monaghan added that the site is an excellent example and solution to Ameritech’s problem of coverage and the community’s problem with the proliferation of towers. Mr. Monaghan further realized that there are some outstanding issues that need to also be addressed with the site from a zoning perspective. Mr. Monaghan asked that if he were to momentarily set these issues aside and ask himself if this is a good idea or not, he would suggest that it is a good idea. Ameritech is trying to do what it can for the community and still provide the communication services that it is federally regulated to do. Mr. Monaghan asked the Commission for approval so that the project can move forward.

 

Brandon Rogers, Planning Consultant, referred to his March 28, 1996 review letter and added that the members of the Implementation Committee will remember that they had discussed certain standards that may or may not become amendments to the ordinance to clarify where the towers can be placed in the future. Mr. Rogers reported Ameritech is now one of five suppliers that are licensed under the new act to provide cellular services and they are: Ameritech, CellularOne, Sprint, AT&T, and Nextel. Mr. Rogers further stated that they are addressing this growth because they do not want to see a proliferation of towers and instead encourage co-location.

 

Mr. Rogers reported that the water tower is zoned RC, it is partially owned by the Taubman Company, and it serves as fire protection to Twelve Oaks Mall. Mr. Rogers further reported that cellular towers or antennas have been limited to an I-1 or an I-2 District since 1984. Mr. Rogers then advised that the applicant will have to provide a need to the ZBA for a use variance. Mr. Rogers stated that the project will be three antennae, about 8-9' in height and placed on top of the existing 114' water tower. Mr. Rogers advised that the current ordinance requires that the setback is equal to the height of the tower. Mr. Rogers further advised that there would be no traffic impacts other than a service vehicle once a month and that access is provided from a private road. There are also no utility services other than electric power and telephone services located in the equipment shelter building. Mr. Rogers stated that there will be no woodlands or wetlands impacted and he recommends special land use approval. Mr. Rogers reported that the proposed antennas do not comply with setback standards and would have to be addressed by the ZBA after it has been reviewed by City Council because it is a special land use situation.

 

 

Mr. Rogers further advised that the equipment shelter building is a standard 10' x 10', 9' high with a face brick facade. If the building is considered as a detached accessory building, a 6' setback would be required from the east and south property line. However, the applicant has provided 10.9' from the east and 65' from the south. Mr. Rogers further advised that the greenspace setbacks around the property are provided and there is some intrusion into the 20' requirement because the property to the east is still zoned RA. Mr. Rogers added that off street parking is provided.

 

Mr. Rogers reported that the applicant has already provided the landscape plan. Mr. Rogers also advised that there are a number of items missing which are itemized in Ms. Lemke’s report and would need to be addressed by Ameritech’s landscape architect.

 

Mr. Rogers advised that the proposed equipment building is subject to the facade review requirements and must comply with the ordinance standards for the RC District. Mr. Rogers recommends preliminary site plan approval, subject to special land use and preliminary site plan approval by City Council, a waiver by the Planning Commission for the deficient east side yard greenspace setback, and review by the ZBA for deficient antenna setbacks and improper zoning.

 

Dave Bluhm of JCK advised that the plan demonstrates engineering feasibility and recommends approval.

 

Rod Arroyo, Traffic Consultant, advised that no review of the plan is required.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated for the record that she has a letter from Daniel W. Roy, Captain of the City of Novi Fire Department, which recommends approval. Chairperson Lorenzo opened the floor to the public for any comments. Seeing no one, she closed the Public Hearing and turned the matter over to the Commission for Discussion.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Member Capello believes that Ameritech’s idea was very creative and that the antenna on top of the water tower will not be visible to anybody unless they are specifically looking for them.

 

 

PM-96-04-069 TO GRANT A WAIVER FOR THE DEFICIENT EAST SIDE YARD GREENSPACE SETBACK SUBJECT TO THE ZBA VARIANCES OF THE DEFICIENT ANTENNA SETBACKS AND IMPROPER ZONING; TO SEND A POSITIVE RECOMMENDATION TO CITY COUNCIL FOR SPECIAL LAND USE AND PRELIMINARY SITE

PLAN APPROVAL

 

 

Moved by Capello, seconded by Vrettas, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To grant a waiver for the deficient east side yard greenspace setback subject to the ZBA variances of the deficient antenna setbacks and improper zoning; to send a positive recommendation to City Council for Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval for Ameritech Cellular Radio Antenna, SP 96-07A.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that it has been moved and seconded to send a positive recommendation to City Council for Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval of Ameritech Cellular Radio Antenna; a waiver of the greenspace deficiencies, and subject to the ZBA approval.

 

Member Vrettas also complimented Ameritech on their creative approach to their problem.

 

Member Weddington stated that the Commission recently rejected a request from Ameritech, asked if this plan is an alternative to the earlier request, and will it prevent another tower request? Mr. Monaghan responded that he does not anticipate another tower request in Novi for at least the next year or two. Mr. Monaghan further advised that this is obviously part of the prior tower because it helps to serve the various gaps in the greater Novi area, but it is a separate and distinct request from the tower that was addressed previously. Member Weddington asked if the Commission had received this application if the earlier one had not been rejected? Mr. Monaghan replied that the earlier one was approved and that the Commission had rejected one of their competitor’s plans.

 

Member Hodges asked how a setback is measured 120' in the air? Mr. Rogers replied that he would go to the base of the "lollipop" and work outwards. Mr. Rogers added that he has spoken with the applicant as to whether or not Detroit CellularOne or AT&T could share in this central area of the City and the response was that it is up to Mr. Taubman. Mr. Rogers thinks that it would be practical to encourage the sharing and as the Implementation Committee is currently studying, there may be some ordinance amendments that will encourage such cooperation. Mr. Rogers advised that there currently is no applicant. Mr. Rogers is not certain whether or not other antennas could be positioned on the round top of the water tower as it can on a mono-pole.

 

Member Vrettas suggested that the Implementation Committee’s language should reflect a plan that encourages companies to use creative methods. Chairperson Lorenzo noted Member Vrettas’ comment.

 

Mr. Rogers noted for the record that there is another water tower approximately 1000' away.

 

Member Bonaventura asked if the greenspace waiver is a Planning Commission function? Chairperson Lorenzo responded that it is. Member Bonaventura asked if the ZBA variance is for the setback? Mr. Rogers responded that it is for both use and setback.

 

Member Bononi advised that as a member of the Implementation Committee she is delighted to see that they have cooperation with regard to the placement of the towers and especially in sites that already exist. She further added that she knows that the Committee is working hard to expedite the matter and that the burden is on the Committee. Member Bononi is unhappy about the fact that the Commission is even looking at the plan from a standpoint of routing. She further stated that it is an unapproved use in a zone and it doesn’t have anything to do with improper zoning, but that it has to do with the fact that the use is not permitted in this zone. Member Bononi stated that it is up to the Commission to figure out how to do this. Member Bononi then referred to Section 2516 of the Site Plan Review Standard, Item 2 b which states: "the Planning Commission shall decide whether the use proposed for the site is a use permitted in the District that complies with all the applicable requirements." Member Bononi does not believe that the site complies in any way. Alternatively, Member Bononi would say that the Commission should think very seriously about approvals and timing and whether or not a delay should be required from the standpoint of the approval in order to get "our ducks in a row." Member Bononi is very concerned about bringing applications forward for uses that are not permitted in a zone and does not understand how they can be approved.

 

Mr. Watson replied that they are approved with the condition subject to getting that approval from the ZBA. Whether the ZBA finds sufficient hardship to grant that is a question that will have to be before the ZBA and the applicant will have to establish their case there.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo asked if the antenna will collapse on itself when it is blown over? Mr. Monaghan replied that the 9' whips are anchored securely to the top of the water tower. Mr. Monaghan stated that the current one in Novi has 4' whips and he imagines that they would probably just fall to the ground. Mr. Monaghan reminded the Commission that there is no residential area nearby and that the antenna is not a mono-pole tower, so it is not designed to collapse upon itself. However, Mr. Monaghan added that they are designed pursuant to the same stress loads as the mono-pole towers and can withstand 80 m.p.h. winds and ˝ inch ice cover.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo asked how far the tower is from the Enclave Condominiums and the proposed senior citizen’s facility? Mr. Rogers replied that it is approximately ˝ mile from the Enclave and approximately _’s mile from the proposed senior citizen’s facility.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated if there is nothing further, she will ask Mr. Cohen to call the roll. Chairperson Lorenzo restated that the motion is for positive recommendation to City Council for Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval, the greenspace waiver from the Planning Commission, and this is subject to ZBA review and approval.

 

 

 

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-069 - MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

 

Yes: Lorenzo, Markham, Vrettas, Weddington, Bonaventura, Bononi, Capello, Hodges

No: None

 

Chairperson Lorenzo announced that the Commission will take a brief recess.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo opened the floor for Audience Participation. Seeing no one, Chairperson Lorenzo closed the Audience Participation and opened the floor for Matters for Consideration.

 

 

 

MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION

 

 

1. SPEEDWAY SERVICE STATION, SP 96-04A

Property located at the northeast corner of Novi Road and Ten Mile Road for possible Preliminary Site Plan approval.

 

Richard LaRowe of Tech Express Corporation, stated he is a representative for Marathon Oil

Company and Monroe Marketing. Mr. LaRowe stated that his client is proposing a raise and rebuild at the corner of Ten Mile and Novi Roads. Mr. LaRowe stated that they are proposing six pump islands, one with diesel fuel; a K-1 Dispenser, and a C store.

 

Brandon Rogers, Planning Consultant stated that he recommends preliminary site plan approval subject to: (1) ZBA review of a deficient size site is required and (2) Reconsideration of retention of the high rise pole sign and compliance with the City’s Sign Ordinance, re: number, height, size, and location of signage, in his report of March 13, 1996.

 

David Bluhm, of JCK, stated the site will be using the existing sanitary and water facilities and no new improvements are proposed. In addition, Mr. Bluhm stated that the applicant is proposing to reconstruct the paving and the storm sewer associated with the paving will be detained on site in underground storage basins at the south east corner. A long pipe that runs to the north from the basins will be outletted at a restricted rate into the ditch into Ten Mile Road. In conclusion, Mr. Bluhm stated that the plan demonstrates engineering feasibility and recommends approval.

 

Rod Arroyo, Traffic Consultant, reported that access exists from four driveways; two on each major road way. The applicant is proposing to delete all four and replace them with two new driveways. The new access points are located over 100' from the intersection of Novi and Ten Mile Roads as required in the ordinance. Mr. Arroyo further advised that the applicant has included no left turn signs for the driveway onto Ten Mile, due to the fact that using the center turn lane for a left turn would conflict with using it for a west bound left turn on Ten Mile Road at the Novi/Ten Mile intersection and Mr. Arroyo reported that he concurs with that. In addition, Mr. Arroyo advises that the applicant has made some modifications to their driveway on Ten Mile Road to have a full deceleration taper lane. Mr. Arroyo notes that the widths of the driveways would have to be reduced to 36' per the Design and Construction Standards because that is the maximum width for an undivided driveway. Mr. Arroyo further advised that trip generation with 12 fueling stations would be anticipated at 1,945 trips per day; 120 at a.m. peak hour/160 p.m. peak hour trips. Mr. Arroyo added that previous concerns about internal circulation have been resolved and recommends approval of the site plan subject to changing the driveway width to meet the Design and Construction Standards.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo would like to note for the record that she has a letter from William A. Conn, Fire Marshal of the City of Novi Fire Department and approval is recommended with the following: (1) The hazardous material information vault (lock box) is shown to be installed on the trash enclosure wall. This lock box needs to be relocated to a location which is away from the building, away from the pump islands, and away from the transport unloading areas. It needs to be highly visible and highly accessible. It is requested it be post mounted on the left side (N) of the Novi Road entrance and (2) Show the location of the fire hydrants on the plan.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo turned the matter over to the Commission for Discussion.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Member Vrettas asked if the plan has been designed with the assumption that both roads will be expanded shortly? Mr. LaRowe replied that he is aware of the expansion. Member Vrettas supports Mr. Rogers’ suggestion about the signs being brought down to improve the appearance of the area.

 

Member Hodges asked if the lock box requirement from the Fire Department will pose a design constraint for the applicant? Mr. LaRowe agrees with the Fire Marshal and there will be no problem with moving it. However, Mr. LaRowe advised that the suggested location near the road is making him somewhat nervous because of the possibility of vandals knocking the box off. Mr. LaRowe would prefer to move it behind the building at the edge of the parking and mounted on a 4" post so that it will be highly visible. Mr. LaRowe further advised that there will also be a shut off valve there for the storm water run off detention and he believes it is less prone to tampering. Mr. LaRowe added that the existing fire hydrant is already shown on the plan.

 

Member Hodges added that she also agrees with the sign requirement because most of the customers that the station will serve will be local and a taller sign would not be necessary. Mr. LaRowe replied that they are trying very hard not to appear before the ZBA with too many variances for the site because they are already asking for a deficiency in site size. Mr. LaRowe added that they have an existing sign and the way they understand the ordinance is that they are grandfathered in. Mr. LaRowe advised that if they were to replace the sign with a sign of the Commission’s choice and given the standards that his client has for advertising four prices, they would be requesting two variances. The first variance would be for a square footage variance and a height variance on a new sign which are difficult issues to argue; they chose the route of leaving the existing sign because it is in good condition.

 

Member Bonaventura asked if the deficient site size goes before the ZBA? Mr. Rogers replied that it does and that it is a defined standard in the zoning ordinance. Mr. Rogers recommends it because there is no way that they can acquire any other land.

 

Member Bonaventura asked if the Commission can require that the sign be replaced? Mr. Watson replied that it can’t, but the Commission can ask the ZBA to look at the issue of whether any variance can include that as a condition and the ZBA will have to examine if there is a relationship between the size of the sign and the variance that pertains. Member Bonaventura asked if it could be a condition of approval? Mr. Watson replied no.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo interjected that the Chair will entertain a motion at any time, in the positive or negative.

 

Member Bonaventura’s concern with corner sites is with landscaping at final and if there is a motion to approve the preliminary site plan, he would prefer for it to come back at final to review the landscaping.

 

Member Vrettas asked if a message can be sent to the ZBA from the Commission to ask them to look at the sign issue? Mr. Watson reiterated that was what Member Bonaventura asked and he would suggest to ask the ZBA to consider that as a condition. Member Vrettas asked if that would be part of the motion or something separate? Mr. Watson replied that it would be part of the motion. Member Vrettas stated that he understands that the applicant is trying to decrease the number of times that they ask for a variance, but there is such a thing as packaging to demonstrate your efforts to be a good neighbor. Member Vrettas stated that the Commission values business and homeowners who demonstrate this and by combining the two variances, the applicant’s message would be that he is trying to be a good neighbor. Member Vrettas would support a motion to approve this application if the sign is taken into consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PM-96-04-070 RECOMMEND PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN APPROVAL OF SITE PLAN 96-04A, SPEEDWAY SERVICE STATION; NOTING THE ZBA VARIANCE REQUIREMENT FOR DEFICIT SITE SIZE AND CONSIDERATION BY THE ZBA ON THE APPLICATION REGARDING THE SIGN AND ALL CONSULTANTS’ RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Moved by Hodges, seconded by Vrettas, CARRIED (6-2): To recommend preliminary site plan approval of Site Plan 96-04A, Speedway Service Station; noting the ZBA variance requirement for deficit site size and consideration by the ZBA on the application regarding the sign and all consultants’ recommendations.

 

Mr. Rogers asked if they are both moving to approve. Member Hodges replied yes. Member Hodges then stated that it is a little redundant. Chairperson Lorenzo stated that this is a motion to approve the preliminary site plan, subject to all the (changed tape) . . . and we’re recommending to the ZBA review of compliance with the City sign ordinance.

 

Member Bonaventura asked if there would be any objection to adding that the plan come back for final. Member Hodges replied that she has no objection to that. Chairperson Lorenzo stated that it will then come back before the Commission for final. Member Hodges asked if Member Bonaventura meant that it will come back for final on landscaping. Member Bonaventura made a noise that implied that he did mean that.

 

Member Capello asked the applicant if he had any ownership interest in the L-shaped property that surrounds the site? Mr. LaRowe replied that as far as he knows, Speedway has no interest in the property.

 

Mr. Arroyo added that Member Hoadley asked him if the location of the driveway on Novi Road could be shifted to the north by 15' since there was room to the property line. Mr. Arroyo reviewed the truck access plan and it looked by shifting it a little bit north it may make it more difficult for the refueling trucks to get into the sight, but wanted to pose this question to the applicant for a response. Chairperson Lorenzo replied that it has been noted for the record.

 

Member Markham stated that as she understands it, the applicant will retain four storage tanks that are currently there, but asked if the applicant is proposing to add a tank that will hold kerosene? The applicant replied that she was correct. Member Markham asked what is the use for the kerosene and why does the applicant feel it is necessary to add it at this site? Mr. LaRowe replied that it is a typical addition to all of the new Speedway sites, it is used for home space heaters, and it is a walk-up type pump.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo asked if the applicant has made an effort to purchase any of the L-shaped piece of property in order to comply with the site? Mr. LaRowe replied not to his knowledge.

 

Mr. Rogers stated that he thinks there would be a zoning problem because the site that the applicant is on is B-3, which permits gas stations and the adjacent property is zoned I-1 and does not permit gas stations. Mr. Rogers added that he is disappointed about the sign because all of the surrounding signs are beginning to conform and the Speedway will be a singular sore thumb at this important intersection that he guarantees will be there 25-30 years from now. Mr. Rogers hopes that the applicant, who cannot be forced to take it down, will think about being a good neighbor.

 

Member Bonaventura stated that it also bothers him. Member Bonaventura sees the reworking of the site as an improvement on curb cuts which he hopes will be an improvement on the landscaping and basically for the convenience for Novi residents, as he hopes that the new building will be a store. Member Bonaventura further stated that the sign bothers him greatly because Novi has prided itself on being a low level community and what exists there now is a left over that was needed from a previous time and he will address it with his vote.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo asked if there is any further discussion and seeing no one asked Mr. Cohen to call the roll. Chairperson Lorenzo stated, once again, the motion is to approve Speedway Service Station, SP 96-04 for preliminary site plan approval, subject to all of the consultants’ recommendations, subject to the review for the deficient site size by ZBA, and consideration by ZBA for compliance with the signage.

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-070 - MOTION CARRIED

 

Yes: Markham, Weddington, Bononi, Capello, Hodges, Lorenzo

No: Vrettas, Bonaventura

 

 

 

2. TOTAL PETROLEUM STATION, SP 95-27C

Property located at the southwest corner of Novi Road and Ten Mile Road for possible Preliminary Site Plan approval.

 

Joseph Galvin stated he is representing Total Petroleum who is asking that the Commission provide preliminary site plan approval to rebuild the station at Novi and Ten Mile Roads. Mr. Galvin reported that the applicant is proposing to modernize the site, close two curb cuts which will change the circulation pattern on the site and make it safer, and bring the site into compliance with the current zoning ordinances. Mr. Galvin respectfully requests that the Commission grant preliminary site plan approval so that the applicant can go before the ZBA to obtain a variance based upon the fact that is all the land that they have and they have tried to unsuccessfully acquire additional property in the past.

 

Brandon Rogers, Planning Consultant, reported that this is the fourth submittal and it has become a much better plan. Mr. Rogers further reported that there is only 0.43 acre available and he believes that the new site plan will work better. Per his review letter of March 15, 1996, Mr. Rogers recommends approval of the preliminary site plan subject to: (1) Review by ZBA of deficient site size. One acre is required, 0.43 acre is provided. The 100' minimum required set-off of curb cuts from the intersection of Novi Road and Ten Mile Road would require ZBA review.; (2) Excessive freestanding ground sign height. Signs on building would also be subject to Sign Ordinance Standards.; and (3) Indication of proposed landscaping at time of final site plan submittal to include landscaping along Ten Mile Road at the west end of the site over an emergency spill containment tank.

 

David Bluhm, of JCK, reported that from a utility standpoint the project is a mirror image of the Speedway application. Mr. Bluhm further reported that the water and sewer utility services are existing and will continue to service the new site. The storm water will be picked up in new storm sewers and detained in a detention tank. Mr. Bluhm added that there are two components to the detention tank; one is a petroleum containment tank and secondly, the applicant did not include the detention tank which is an off shoot from that, but has indicated in a letter that they are going to provide that and there is room to do that. Mr. Bluhm reported that the plan demonstrates engineering feasibility and he is recommending approval.

 

Rod Arroyo, Traffic Consultant, reported that there are four driveways that are being eliminated and replaced with two, one on each of the major roadways. Mr. Arroyo advised that traffic volumes are included in his March 27, 1996 report and as Mr. Rogers has indicated, the two newly constructed driveways do not meet the requirement for the separation of 100' from the intersection of Novi and Ten Mile Roads. Consequently, Mr. Arroyo further advised that the applicant will have to go before the ZBA to address the issue. Mr. Arroyo recommends that in bound left turns from Ten Mile Road be prohibited due to the conflict with the left turn storage area at Ten Mile and Novi. Mr. Arroyo further reported that trip generation will be fewer than Speedway because it has fewer pumping stations and its smaller size. Mr. Arroyo is recommending approval subject to a ZBA variance for the driveway spacing and they must also indicate that the in bound left turns are prohibited from Ten Mile Road with appropriate signage on the final site plan.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated for the record that she has received a letter from William A. Conn, Fire Marshal for the City of Novi Fire Department stating that approval is recommended with the following: (1) Working drawings for the installation of fire suppression systems, fire alarm systems, fire detection systems, fire suppression supervisory systems, are to be submitted at the same time architectural plans are submitted for review and approval. Such plans shall be separate from architectural plans and have attached an application for permit.; (2) The building address is to be posted facing the street throughout construction. The address is to be at least 3" high on a contrasting background.; and (3) Fire prevention practice during construction shall be in accordance with the adopted Building Code and Fire Prevention Code.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo then turned the floor over to the Commission for Discussion.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

Member Hodges asked Mr. Rogers to clarify the parking spaces. Mr. Rogers replied that there is a typographical error on the first page of his report and it should read 14. Member Hodges then asked what the corner clearance is on the sign? Mr. Rogers replied that it is reviewed at the time of final, but it is a 25' cut off any landscape materials and the sign and it could be an obstruction which will be reported when the landscape plan is submitted. Member Hodges asked if the sign would be required to be moved at that time? Mr. Rogers replied "absolutely."

 

Member Hodges has a strong, underlying concern about construction traffic at this corner and cannot see anything but disaster when a heavy duty truck is pulling out and then stopping south bound traffic on Novi Road. Member Hodges stated that a conscientious effort has to be made to control the traffic during construction process because the traffic is bad enough in a controlled situation with the light. Although Member Hodges appreciates the improvements being made to this site, she stated that she believes safety is the first factor and she is not certain that safety can be offered during the reconstruction process in the traffic flow.

 

Member Hodges asked if traffic will be allowed to turn westbound or left onto Ten Mile? Mr. Arroyo replied that it would be permitted and the left turn restriction is only for inbound left turns due to the conflict with the center turn lane. Mr. Arroyo added that there will be times during the day, when people will not attempt to make the turn, particularly after the High School lets out. Member Hodges disagreed and stated that they do it now. In addition, there is a problem with people wanting to come across the two lanes of traffic to get into the turning lane to turn north on Novi Road. Mr. Arroyo stated that is a problem with any corner site unless the driveways are 400-500' away from the intersection which is impractical. Member Hodges asked what is the approximate distance between the entrance and the bank’s entrance. Mr. Arroyo responded that it is approximately 30' near curb to near curb from that entrance onto Ten Mile and then there is another driveway that is about 150' to the west. Member Hodges stated that potentially there could be vehicles traveling west bound on Ten Mile Road trying to turn left into the Total entrance and also into the bank. Mr. Arroyo responded that is the left turn that he is recommending to be prohibited, the left turn from Ten Mile into the Total Station. Mr. Arroyo reported that the reasons for that are because of the proximity to the drive and the bank, and also the left turn conflict with vehicles trying to turn left onto Novi Road.

 

Member Vrettas considers himself a professional expert on the Total Station because he travels to Lansing daily and he then spends every other day visiting that station for fuel. Member Vrettas believes that the plan is a much better situation than the current situation. Member Vrettas stated that it is currently dangerous because of all of the entrances, but he suggests that they look at the possibility of perhaps combining the gas station entrance with the bank’s because it may alleviate some of the congestion there. Member Vrettas added that it would be better to have the entrance as far from the intersection as possible. Member Vrettas also approves of their proposal for a smaller sign. Member Vrettas asks that the applicant coordinate its construction with Speedway so that it is not simultaneous to decrease the possibility of a congested intersection.

 

 

PM-96-04-071 APPROVAL OF SP 95-27C, UPON COMPLIANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS SITED BY THE CONSULTANTS IN THEIR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION AND SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE TWO VARIANCES BY THE ZBA BOARD

 

Moved by Vrettas, seconded by Capello, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: Approval of

SP 95-27C, upon compliance with the conditions sited by the consultants in their letters of recommendation and subject to the approval of the two variances by the ZBA Board.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that it has been moved and seconded to approve the Preliminary Site Plan for Total Petroleum, subject to all of the consultants’ recommendations and subject to review and approval by ZBA for the two variances; the deficient site size, and the setback. Chairperson Lorenzo then asked if there was discussion on the motion?

 

Member Bononi stated she is confused about what the City’s ordinance section 1402.3 sub.b says with regard to special conditions for service stations. She then quoted the section, "Gasoline service stations for the sale of gasoline, oil, and minor accessories only." Member Bononi then asked how does a convenience store enter into this since the ordinance is silent. Mr. Rogers replied that it has been treated as an accessory use. Mr. Rogers advised that most service stations now provide this service and it is another retail activity which would be permitted in a B-3 District if it were there alone. Mr. Rogers further advised that parking is computed on the basis of the retail standard, in addition to the office space requirement for parking and for the parking of customers at the service islands. Member Bononi stated that she understands that part of it, but she is concerned about the limitation that says, "these uses only."

 

Member Bononi asked if 14 parking spaces have been proposed and 18 are required? Mr. Rogers replied that 14 are required and referred to page 2 for the computations for the standards that are required. Mr. Rogers stated that they have also included one handicapped.

 

Member Bononi asked the applicant’s engineer to explain the function of the emergency spill containment tank that is also going to be used as a holding tank for storm drainage and why is it being proposed? J. Kaatz from Tech Express advised that the containment tank has a restricted outflow on it. Mr. Kaatz advised that it will be tied into the storm system; incoming to it will be a 12" concrete pipe and outgoing is only a 3" pipe and that will restrict the outflow which is required by the Oakland County Drain Commission to be 0.2 CFS per acre. In addition, Mr. Kaatz reported that there will be a post indicator valve at the exit end of the petroleum containment tank. Mr. Kaatz stated that it is a manual shut off, so that in case of a spill it can be shut off and at that point, no water or petroleum is allowed out of the system. It will then back up into the tank and back into the manholes in the concrete lines connecting the structures, which is sufficient size according to both Fire Marshal Bill Conn and the storm drainage requirements. Member Bononi asked if that happened during a storm event, would the water flow down toward the road? Mr. Kaatz replied that if there were 100 year storm and two of the containment tankers did happen to leak all of their petroleum, that would happen. Member Bononi asked if this was the normal way to accommodate storm drainage on the Total sites? Mr. Kaatz replied that it was not and that for the most part they do above ground storage with a retention pond rather than go underground due to the cost. Mr. Kaatz stated that because of the constraints of the size of the site and the requirements of Fire Marshall Bill Conn to have such a large containment cell, they went with the underground storage containment.

 

Member Bononi asked what the implications were meant, if any, by the notations on the plans that state this has been designated a "contaminated" site with regard to earth disturbance removal from the site during the construction phase? Greg Azzoli, environmental coordinator for Total Petroleum responded that he would expect that any disruption would be minimal to the environment because it is primarily a clay site and that contamination isn’t readily transportable through tight clay material. Mr. Azzoli stated that the applicant is actually providing a benefit, because contaminated material will be removed and replaced with clean material. Member Bononi’s concern is that during the construction phase if there is soil that is unprotected and eroding, is there a plan or an impact statement prepared? Mr. Azzoli replied that no impact statement was requested by the City’s ordinance or by the Planning Commission.

 

Member Bononi is concerned that all of the trees at the southerly boundary will be eliminated and in keeping with Member Vrettas’ good neighbor policy, the plan is preventing Michigan National Bank, a very austere building face with no plantings whatsoever proposed.

 

Member Bononi asked if the Total Petroleum Group has other concepts of stores that they offer that would be smaller and be able to less intensify what is going happening on the site? Mr. Galvin believes that they do not have concepts which are smaller and this particular structure cuts off the frontage to reduce its size to fit the small site. In respect to Member Bononi’s earlier comment about the preservation of trees, Mr. Galvin stated they are currently reviewing that issue to see if it is possible to preserve some of the trees. Member Bononi restated her question and said that Total builds no store smaller than this proposed square footage? Mr. Galvin said that is right and furthermore, they have reduced the size of the building that this is modified from in order to fit.

 

Member Bononi asked Mr. Bluhm if he is satisfied with the comments that the environmental engineer made about the potential impact of contaminated soil on the site, particularly during the construction phase? In addition, Member Bononi asked if JCK will look to them for any other kind of documentation to assure that the matter is handled properly in an engineering sense. Mr. Bluhm responded that the issue with the 307 site is that maps are available which identify areas of contamination or potential contamination. Mr. Bluhm advised that the requirements for site assessments or remediation, if necessary are handled through a branch of the DNR Department and are addressed at the state level. Mr. Bluhm further advised that the applicant will be required to adhere to those that apply by either expanding the site, reconstructing the site, earth removal, and other types of things. Mr. Bluhm stated that they can ask the applicant to evaluate what the requirements will be for that and report back anything that results. Member Bononi would be particularly concerned in Mr. Bluhm’s interest in the erosion and sedimentation control plan that would be offered at the time that the final site plan comes before JCK. Mr. Bluhm agreed and stated that they could ask the applicant to evaluate the potential with the governing bodies in that area and have them provide their response prior to final.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo asked if there has been any effort made to purchase any additional property from Michigan National Bank. Mr. Galvin reminded the Commission that he and McDonald’s Corporation approached the City three years ago with a plan based upon the then willingness of the Michigan National Bank to sell them property, in addition to purchasing additional property from another seller. Mr. Galvin recalled that Michigan National was interested in the property that wrapped around the site the Commission just approved. Michigan National Bank then dropped its interest in that, remains interested in the property they currently control, and they’re not interested in selling it at this time.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo reminded the Commission that there were some concerns about the landscaping on the other one and she noticed that in the motion, bringing it back for final was not indicated and asked if it was a desire or not? Member Vrettas responded that he would like to have it come back at final and Member Capello also agrees. Chairperson Lorenzo then stated if there is nothing further, the motion is to approve . . .

 

Member Hodges interjected that she has one more area of concern. Member Hodges asked if the space between the canopy and the store can be designated as "no parking?" The applicant responded that it can be striped to indicate that.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo restated the motion is to approve Total Petroleum Station, SP 95-27C, subject to all the consultants’ recommendations, subject to the two ZBA variances for deficient site size and deficient set back, and that this to be brought back for final, particularly for the landscaping and the engineering questions that Member Bononi raised. Chairperson Lorenzo asked Mr. Cohen to call the roll.

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-071 - MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

 

Yes: Vrettas, Weddington, Bonaventura, Bononi, Capello, Hodges, Lorenzo, Markham

No: None

 

 

MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION

 

 

1. CONSULTANT REVIEW LETTER FORMAT

Discussion regarding Administrative Liaison Committee’s recommendation concerning City consultants’ letters to the Planning Commission.

 

Jim Wahl stated that they have received a number of reports and this issue has been at a Committee and discussed on a number of occasions. Mr. Wahl stated that the issue is whether the letters from the consultants’ should be reformatted to state conclusions differently and not include the recommendation aspect. Mr. Wahl has reviewed it and his reports are included with his summary. Mr. Wahl advised that the Commission may or may not be aware that the City Council has in effect transmitted to the Department administrative policy that all action items to be presented to the Council shall have recommendations from consultants and staff and stated to the point where sheets are signed that reflect responsibility and accountability for those recommendations. Mr. Wahl advised that this policy has changed over the years. In the past, Mr. Wahl stated that the Department did not present recommendations, but were instead the administrators of the process. Mr. Wahl stated that Council has on a number of occasions requested that he or other staff come forward to provide the Department’s recommendation. In addition, Mr. Wahl stated that on a number of occasions, Council will ask Brandon Rogers, Rod Arroyo, or JCK to come up to the microphone to present a recommendation. Mr. Wahl further stated that this process has essentially become institutionalized as an expectation and that it is a part of their assignments. Mr. Wahl’s second point is that from the combined professional experience of the consultants and from research, it is a rare exception in Michigan and nationally that when consultants’ reports are presented, they are expected to be given with an opinion and that is what the consultants are retained for. In conclusion, Mr. Wahl would say that over the eleven years that he has worked with the Planning Commission, he is not aware that there is a problem and asks why should it be changed?

Chairperson Lorenzo wanted to clarify that when consultant recommendations are being talked about, it is about their final recommendation in terms of recommending approval and that those are the "buzz words" that are being discussed tonight. Furthermore, Chairperson Lorenzo stated it is not a recommendation for various improvements to the project or a recommendation for alternatives, but only their recommendation to "approve." Chairperson Lorenzo advised that this matter came to her attention and a couple of Commissioners mentioned that they also had some concerns about the format. Chairperson Lorenzo stated that she also had a concern about it and she decided to ask Mr. Wahl to establish a meeting for the Administrative Liaison Committee which decided to send it onto the Planning Commission as a discussion item. Chairperson Lorenzo’s personal viewpoint is that over the years she has found that the present format of consultants recommending approval may sometimes give the applicant and the public at large preconceived notions in terms of how a possible project may go in terms of the affirmative or negative accordingly. In addition, she believes that the applicant or public sometimes can rely too heavily on these "recommendations" when it is the Planning Commission that actually either approves or denies projects, or recommends to City Council. Chairperson Lorenzo believes that sometimes the recommendations for approval from the consultants can be misleading and at times it seems to her that the applicants are relying heavily on the consultants’ opinions and final recommendations in terms of approval more so than what the Planning Commission as a body may do and may think of the proposal. Chairperson Lorenzo understands that the Council has a certain way of doing things, but this is a Planning Commission discussion at this point in time.

 

Member Hodges stated that people have come before the Commission with only a concept and they have made statements such as "somebody" has told them they could do this or that. Member Hodges believes that the Commission has to take those comments with a grain of salt. Member Hodges sees the consultants as advisors to these people and whether or not they decide to take the consultants advice is their choice. In addition, Member Hodges does not know how the Commission can be so strongly concerned about their misinterpretation, because a recommendation is just a recommendation. Member Hodges believes it is a lack of knowledge of the planning process and she is not willing give up this process for that. Member Hodges appreciates the recommendations and thinks that the Commission has proven tonight that sometimes plans are accepted and sometimes they are not.

 

Member Bonaventura stated that Jim Wahl’s memo about whether or not the Commission should get recommendations from consultants has struck a nerve. Member Bonaventura added that this is common, because usually when the way something has been done is changed, it upsets things. Member Bonaventura does not personally have a problem with the consultants making recommendations, but he does not trust the consultants. He added that he respects their opinions, but he does not trust them. Member Bonaventura believes that is the honest way to deal with them as far as the process is concerned. Member Bonaventura looks at their recommendations, respects their opinion, but reiterated that he does not necessarily trust their opinion and he moves on from there. Member Bonaventura stated that this body makes the decisions as a group of citizens of the community and that is how it was set up. Member Bonaventura further stated that if the consultants were to make the decisions, it could easily be set up that way too. Member Bonaventura believes the current system provides checks and balances for the citizens of the community to be represented properly and to not necessarily trust the consultants’ opinions. Member Bonaventura added that it is a very complicated process and there is always something that can be missed, overlooked, or not focused on clearly enough. Member Bonaventura also stated that many times it is not what is said, but what is not said. Member Bonaventura advised that the only thing that he would have with recommendations is if a person that is appointed to the Planning Commission feels that they are at a disadvantage because they do not have the expertise and if the City is set up properly, they would’ve put people there who have the expertise. Member Bonaventura stated that as far as the applicants being confused, they spend many weeks working with the consultants that the Commission is not aware of and he is sure many things are said. However, Member Bonaventura stated that the fact remains that the decision is made with the Planning Commission and as long as that is understood, he does not have a problem with the format.

 

Member Vrettas stated that this is a non-issue. Member Vrettas went through this process a long time ago when he had to go before Council. As Member Vrettas spoke to the consultants in City Hall, they made it clear to him that these are the rules and their recommendations, but they cannot guarantee anything, because it is Council’s prerogative. Member Vrettas’ approach as a Commissioner is that the responsibility of the consultants is that they know their particular area well and they do not come before the Commission with a global recommendation. Instead, they come to the Commission with a specific recommendation, in their specific area, based upon the rules and regulations they’re controlled by. Member Vrettas sited the last meeting as an example and that Linda Lemke shared her view, based upon the rules. Member Vrettas appreciated and respected the fact that she did exactly what she is supposed to do according to the rules. Member Vrettas further stated that when he is asked for his professional recommendation, he steps back, thinks it through and steps forward with his recommendation. Member Vrettas also stated that just by the fact that they make a recommendation, the Commission holds them accountable for what they’re saying. Member Vrettas advised that it is their job to make a recommendation and it is the Commission’s job to take each of their recommendations, blend them together, and because the Commission members are not expert, to look at the recommendation from the point of view of representing the people of Novi. Member Vrettas stated that the Commission’s action reflects what they think is in the best interest of the community. Member Vrettas also stated that the City has an excellent group of consultants and the system is working as is.

 

Member Bononi stated that as a professional planner, she looks at it from a different point of view. Although Member Bononi agrees with some of the things that Dr. Vrettas has stated, she is interested in the product. Member Bononi believes that there is always room for improvement and it is not a positive way to view government to think otherwise. Member Bononi reported that she is looking at two issues; the current method used in consultants’ and Planning Department approval letters and to the content and review of those applications when they come before the Commission. Member Bononi stated that there is a great difference between a consultant giving advice, opinion, stating comments about the completeness of a plan, or stating that the plan meets ordinance requirements. Member Bononi further stated that it is something else again to say, "I recommend approval." In addition, Member Bononi stated that as a Planner and as a Planning Commissioner, she has a problem with that. Member Bononi thinks that when a consultant does this, a consultant has made a conclusion about how he thinks the vote should go. Member Bononi reported that the only person to conclude about how a vote should go is an individual Planning Commissioner. Member Bononi does not know of any universal planning rule that states that such approvals on the part of consultants or the Planning Department should be made or are always made. On the other hand, Member Bononi stated that if they work, that is what the Commission should be looking at. Specifically, she believes that they should be looking at where the system works and where it does not work. Member Bononi also stated that if the consultant does not feel that the submission meets ordinance requirements, she sees no reason to routinely suggest that plan deficiency be addressed by waivers, variances, and casual trips to the ZBA. Member Bononi added that when an exodus to the ZBA becomes a pattern, and she believes in many cases with Novi applications that is the case, planners site too many reasons; number one is insufficient up front review and negotiation with an applicant and secondly, deficiencies in the ordinance. Member Bononi points these out because they can be fixed and be made better. Member Bononi believes that the current committees are already improving them.

 

Member Bononi thinks that a third part is that the Commission seems to have a reluctance to deny a site plan that is submitted. Member Bononi believes that the Commission needs to have denials with bottom line evaluations of applications that shouldn’t be here and secondly, shouldn’t have an alternative from the standpoint of going to the ZBA to "wipe their ills away." Member Bononi believes that sometimes when a site is maxing out or inappropriate, there is nothing for the Commission to do as planners, but she also realizes that there is nothing for the consultants to do as consultants except to have the courage to deny. In her opinion, Member Bononi believes that is the reality of good planning. Member Bononi also believes there are many compelling reasons to review the system because it is an opportunity to look at and evaluate the Commission as an obligation to Novi citizens. In conclusion, Member Bononi asked the Commissioners to look at the statistics of what they are doing; there are a lot of fine plans being approved and also approving a lot of plans with problems. Member Bononi reported that the Commission is doing a lot of flip-flops from the standpoint of the recommendations to approve that they are getting from the consultants, such as: Novi Grand, Novi Place, Ray Electric, Lanny’s Road rezoning, Willowbrook subdivision, and the Novi Road at Austin zone change. In each of these cases, Member Bononi stated that the Planning Commission in majority has taken an opposing view from the consultants. Member Bononi does not believe that this is unhealthy, but it is an honest difference of opinion. However, in her view, the "rub" is that the consultants’ have asked the Commission to approve these applications. She would like to see more of what she saw from Mr. Arroyo this evening with regard to alternatives to existing problematical sites. In summary, she would like to see more contribution and not less.

 

Member Bonaventura suggested that perhaps a disclaimer on consultants’ recommendations,

similar to what JCK has on theirs; "the proprietor should be aware that this recommendation does not constitute final site plan approval" should be a standard. He added that the wording should include "approval by the Planning Commission."

 

Member Vrettas has no problem with what Member Bononi stated. What Member Vrettas is trying to say is that when you’re in a position to say this is the one area in which I am supposed to be focusing, that puts that person at the disadvantage of not being able to look at the whole picture that the Planning Commission has the ability to do. Member Vrettas reminded the Commission that the consultants have to focus their recommendations in a specific area. Member Vrettas agreed that the Commission should constantly ask these questions and should constantly look to improve. Member Vrettas believes that the consultants have been doing what they’re supposed to do, the way they are supposed it. Member Vrettas added that he would support a shift in the how the Commission does theirs.

 

 

 

2. JOINT MEETING WITH CITY COUNCIL

 

Member Bonaventura asked if there is a meeting planned at this point? Mr. Wahl responded that a preliminary date of Wednesday, May 15, 1996 has been selected as a possibility.

 

Mr. Wahl then stated that as an administrator, he works as a team member taking his direction from the City Manager and working with the City Council. Mr. Wahl advised that within the last year, he has been put on notice that the administration of the process is the Department’s number one responsibility. Mr. Wahl further stated that most of the work from the Commission moves onto City Council and it makes no sense to him to have something different as it transcends from one body to another. Mr. Wahl stated that perhaps he is not clearly defining the Council’s direction for him. Mr. Wahl would like to suggest that at a joint meeting, perhaps a joint way could be discovered to address the Commission’s concerns because it is a jointly shared process. Mr. Wahl thought that the result would be something that the Administration, the Council, and the Commission would all feel comfortable is working correctly. Mr. Wahl added that this is important because the Department has received direction from the Council and it seems to being moving opposite from what he is hearing here. Mr. Wahl further stated that as an Administrator it makes it difficult to work with bodies moving in different directions. Therefore, Mr. Wahl suggests that if there is a joint meeting, he would like to see this as an agenda item at so he knows where they are going and that all of the bodies are being served.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo stated that she did not believe that this item had much support or that there was concern for the way things are done now and she doesn’t believe that he should be concerned.

Member Bonaventura asked if there is a date for the proposed joint meeting? Chairperson Lorenzo replied that there is no definitive date yet.

 

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

 

Debbie Bundoff, 43640 Twelve Mile Road, began by stating that she thought it was a good idea to share a driveway with an adjacent property owner in one of the items under Matters for Consideration and thinks that it should be considered before final approval. Secondly, Ms. Bundoff stated that gas stations on half acres sites are not a good idea. Ms. Bundoff’s home is adjacent to a gas station site and dual zoning for the purpose of purchasing land for that station did not make a difference with this site. Ms. Bundoff reported that the gas station currently sits on two different zonings. The property was rezoned to B-3 and because there was not enough acreage, they had to purchase adjacent property. The developer had two choices and they did not choose a half acre site adjacent to it, but instead they chose a property split. Ms. Bundoff hopes that both developments will try to acquire the additional property to handle water run off and provide better landscaping aspects even if it is through an easement.

 

Chairperson Lorenzo closed Audience Participation and entertained a motion to adjourn.

 

 

PM-96-04-072 TO ADJOURN REGULAR MEETING OF THE NOVI PLANNING COMMISSION AT 11:00 P.M.

 

Moved by Bonaventura, seconded by Capello, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn

Regular Meeting of the Novi Planning Commission at 11:00 P.M.

 

 

VOTE ON PM-96-04-072 - MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

 

Yes: Vrettas, Weddington, Bonaventura, Bononi, Capello, Hodges, Lorenzo, Markham

No: None

 

 

 

 

Steve Cohen - Planning Aide

 

Transcribed by: Barbara Holmes

April 23, 1996

Date Approved: May 1, 1996