Tuesday – October 5, 1999


The Meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m., with Chairman Brennan presiding.




Present Members Meyer, Bauer, Brennan, Fannon, Reinke, Harrington



Absent None


Also Present Terrance Morrone – Deputy Building Official

Heidi Hannan – Community Development Coordinator

Nancy McKernan – Recording Secretary


Chairman Brennan indicated we have a quorum present tonight, this Meeting is now in session. The Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the Novi City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of the Novi Zoning Ordinance. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to approve a variance request and a vote of the majority of the Members present to deny a variance. We have a full Board tonight and any decisions will be final.




Chairman Brennan indicated with respect to the Agenda; are there any changes? Hearing none, we will move for approval. All in favor, please say aye. All ayes. The Agenda is approved as submitted.




Chairman Brennan indicated we have the minutes from the July 6, 1999 and August 10, 1999 Meetings; are there any changes or corrections to these minutes? Hearing none, we will move for approval. All in favor, please say aye. All ayes. Minutes are approved as written.




Chairman Brennan indicated this is the Public Remarks portion of the Meeting and all comments related to a case on the agenda should be held until that case is called. If anyone wishes to address the Board to any matter or case not on our agenda tonight, please come forward. (No one wished to be heard at this time.)


Case No. 99-061A & B filed by Allied Signs, representing JoAnn Etc.


Continuation of case filed by Allied Signs, representing JoAnn Etc., requesting A) to change the sign that was granted in ZBA Case No. 1370B limiting the sign area to not more than 48 sq. ft., to a sign 35’7" x 8’ (284.67 sq. ft.) and B) to allow a second sign 24’ x 22" (44 sq. ft.) for property located at 43570 West Oaks Drive.


Randy Schmitt, Rich Ault, Laura Bergon were present.


Chairman Brennan: As we left it last time we had asked for a couple of outlines on the mock up that is on that store. We had asked for a mock up of what ordinance allows and an outline of what you would prefer. You have done that and we have had the chance to take a look at it.

Rich Ault: As you know the sign up there has not been approved and the outline in black represents your request. Has everyone seen that? We are asking for what the white outline represents which is a 150 square foot for the top sign, JoAnn ETC. and a second variance for "experience the creativity" banner that is over the front door.


(Renderings were passed out to the Board.)


Rich Ault: We prefer this sign obviously for a number of reasons. It is proportionate we feel to the façade of the building. It is a two story structure with a sales floor on two levels. We are set back from the road a considerable piece. ETC is a new concept for us, we have 40 of these stores across the country. It is a departure from our normal fabric and craft store as we have about 1000 of those across the country. Those are JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts and these are ETC, "experience the creativity". It is an upscale version of the fabric and craft store with expanded lines, expanded services and expanded products. We feel that ETC and "experience the creativity" are needed on the building to represent to the public the concept of the store and trying to differentiate it from the JoAnn Fabric and Craft that it is replacing.




There was no audience participation.




Terry Morrone had no comment.


Member Reinke: I think that the outline on the top sign and the way that it was outlined pointed out the need that the existing square footage that is allowed by ordinance there was not sufficient. I think that what they have outlined is sufficient for their needs and not as intrusive as the original request.


Chairman Brennan: I had the same impression that the outline rendering was very similar at least in size to Kohl’s next door, it seemed to blend in and it seemed to match. I would support that.


Vice-Chairman Bauer: It looks very nice.


Member Reinke: Now the second sign, there we have a problem. I really think that the JoAnn sign gives identification to the placement of the building and I really don’t see where there is a need for you to have the statement, "experience the creativity" on the building.


Chairman Brennan: We have had some discussion with signage in the past that we tried to look at and to see if it was really signage or marketing and we have seemed to in the past differentiated between the two. I have a similar impression that the second sign is more for distinguishing a marketing effort rather than for recognition of the business. Certainly JoAnn’s goes back a long way. But that is just one person’s opinion.


Rich Ault: That is one thing that we are certainly trying to overcome, the company is about 70 years old and we are trying to update the image from the JoAnn Fabric and Craft and we feel that the trademark the ETC "experience the creativity" is a part of the name; so that we are able to begin to grow our company in a different direction and away from the small craft stores.


Chairman Brennan: I might recommend that if we have some consensus on item "A" that perhaps we hear a motion to address that sign and then we can wrap up the second.


Moved by Member Reinke,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Chairman Brennan: We will now have some additional discussion on the second sign.


Member Harrington: I don’t even think that the issue is close. It is a marketing issue. There are different ways to market whatever the new identity is. They are getting a larger sign with JoAnn ETC than they are entitled to under the ordinance as we have just approved it. I can see no conceivable justification for "experience the creativity". We have worked hard on the other businesses who occupy space in the shopping center.


Chairman Brennan: You might get the inference here; we do have very tuff signage in Novi. We do grant some variances when we see some appeal that makes some sense. We have granted the larger sign and we will probably vote on this unless you have other comments to make.


Laura Bergon: If we could; since the 150 square feet has been granted – would it be possible to move "experience the creativity" underneath the JoAnn letters as long as we keep the entire sign area at 150 square feet?


Chairman Brennan: Well that would goof up vote number one and then we would be back to debating the makeup of the sign. I don’t think that would satisfy my concerns. A sign is meant for business identification and I still believe that the endorsement underneath is a marketing requirement and I wouldn’t support it if it were below it, above it, or upside down.


Rich Ault: We will happily take the 150 square feet on the JoAnn ETC.


Moved by Member Reinke,


Seconded by Member Harrington,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-062 filed by Brad Byarski, representing Novi Crossings


Continuation of case filed by Brad Byarski, representing Novi Crossings, requesting a 20’ front yard setback variance, a variance for 856 sq. ft. of loading space, a variance for the north side of the building for the 4’ landscape belt and side yard parking setbacks to allow 3’ on the west property line and 0’ on the north property line to allow for the construction of Novi Crossings at the northwest corner of Grand River and Novi Roads.


Matt Quinn was present.


Matt Quinn: After your last meeting I was called in to see if this matter could in any way be worked out with providing some additional information, modifying the existing site plan. What we did, we went and had another meeting with the City, Rod Arroyo and the Planning Department and we looked at the comments that were mentioned by this body last month. What we did was to come up with a building of 6800 square feet and by reducing the size of the building what it does is that we no longer need any variance for the loading area as we meet that requirement. We no longer need any variance for the interior site landscaping requirements and so we are left with three (3) side yard and front yard type of variances.


Matt Quinn: Now in my opinion, looking at the overall corner and how it relates to what is going across the street which is the new fountain, new restaurant on the east side of Novi Road which will set right up to the sidewalk and looking what is kiddy corner across where the Novi Inn is located and is a building which sits right on the sidewalk line as the Planning Department had recommended to this project developer all along that they should move this building as close as possible to Novi Road so that it would fit in with the other corners that are being developed and have been there for a long time. So what that left us then would be 3 variances.


Matt Quinn: What we also have the option of doing as far as the Novi Planning Department is concerned, is to change our front yard to be that of Grand River. We really have our choice of 2 front yards here, the Novi Road frontage or the Grand River frontage. Since we have a dumpster adjacent to the building that has to be in the rear yard and therefore our front yard will be Grand River. Now, what that does is that the west property line adjacent to Knight’s requires under the current ordinance a 20’ setback; we are providing a 10’ setback which is actually bigger than what we were here last time with. Now that 10’ setback will all be green space, so as far as the Knight’s are concerned you will have parking spots, you will have a cement bumper and then you will have 10’ of landscape area before you get to the property line. I think that should satisfy some of the concerns that they had previously.


Matt Quinn: I would like to point out to you that tomorrow night, unlike in the Memo, as I made a mistake as I was jumping ahead, the Planning Commission is holding a public hearing tomorrow night to amend the TC1 ordinance and to get rid of the 20’ side yard requirement and only require a 10’ side yard setback. So if the new ordinance was in place today, we would meet it; but since it isn’t we still need to have a variance from you to proceed.


Matt Quinn: The other setback is the rear yard. We require a 10’ setback there; this is where the shared arrangement is as far as the shared driveway, so there is no setback provided there.


Matt Quinn: Finally the third setback is that from Novi Road and we are requesting a 20’ setback and again that is necessitated because of the project owner’s willingness to work with the City to put the building as close to the corner as they wanted and the only reason that we really need that variance is because of an artificial line. The line is drawn from where the future right of way is of Novi Road. I guess if the property owners wanted to play hard ball, they would say "no, we are not going to do that, we are going to put our building within that right of way line" and later when the county wants to expand Novi to go ahead and condemn the property. But they are not taking that tack, they are willing to work with the City and they are willing to work with the county by moving the building back within that 20’ setback.


Matt Quinn: We are left with 3 very simple variances in my mind. Again, the 10’ side yard variance, the 10’ rear yard variance and the 20’ Novi Road variance. That is all that we are left with. We did submit a lot of economic material from proposed tenants, from realtors in the area, from the banks telling you of the economic reality of this situation; I am not sure that we really have to get into that unless you want to. The documentation showed that for the size of the building that would make the minimum requirements that it was in the 3800 square foot area as I recall, but when you project out the rental rate versus the debt service it doesn’t even cover the debt service on that. Right now with this building at 6800 square feet with the debt service and the rental rate of about $26.00 per square foot, I calculate that we are making about a 9% profit per year on that. Now, some people would say that is a lot of money and others would say that isn’t such a great investment anyway; but that is the way that it works out.


Matt Quinn: Rod Arroyo presented to you last time and I would reiterate without going over all of the practical difficulties that exist with this site and that is why these 3 relatively minor variances are needed and we would ask your approval on all 3 variances.


Matt Quinn: I will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have.




Milton Knight, we represent the Knight’s. You have a letter in your packet that we sent about some of our concerns with this. We had some problems about the egress and the radius being close to the property line. Basically what we object to and we still think that the 6800 square foot plan is far to big and basically it is going to perpetuate an existing nuisance that has existed all along with this piece of property. When there was a smaller building that you can see on there now, it was a continual parking problem because number one the site is landlocked and they used an easement that is there now they used for parking; so the problem was that there was no parking for the general public when they would come into this site. Now basically we are going to add a 6800 square foot building and the easement that is there now is basically going to be a driveway. So you are going to have pedestrians that walk out of the plaza that are going to be walking into a driveway with dumpster trucks coming into a loading area. So you are taking an easement and have made it into a driveway and that is one of our concerns. This possibly could take the former nuisance that we had with the parking and make it a continual one. Thank you.


Chairman Brennan: Milt, in general and we have discussed this before; what this Board is tasked with addressing are variance requests. You have heard Mr. Quinn outline the revised plan that is in front of us tonight. One of them addresses the property between the two and the setback and the other are also setbacks on the north and the east sides. After tonight, if we come to resolution; they are not done as they still have other things to deal with?


Heidi Hannan: They would then go through the final site plan approval process which is administrative.


Chairman Brennan: Is there any opportunity to answer or address any of these issues that they have regarding the entranceways on Grand River and the radius, etc?


Heidi Hannan: I believe that actually could be addressed by the consultants designer this evening, because in the process of shrinking the building their curb cut has been moved to the east and I am not certain but I believe that it takes it of the adjacent property’s………


Chairman Brennan: That was the issue that you raised in your letter?


Milton Knight: Yes, now that I know that and if that is the case where their egress onto Grand River will now not interfere with our right of way; so when the public is trying to get into that property we don’t want to become a turn around on our property because our customers need to get in and out safely. So I think that what I am trying to say is that we don’t need intensified traffic on this corner that could possibly make it worse.


Debbie Bundoff, Novi and Twelve Mile Road: When we were here last I was hoping that possibly, and this evening the past mayor brought up the fact that the area kiddy corner across the street from this site is a 2 story building that is quite old, I was hoping still to see a plan that included a 2 story building which then would shrink the size of the building in it’s footprint and allow off in the upper floor with retail that could possibly handle approximately a 4000 square foot building which could still give 4 tenants on the lower level that could be commercial/office mix. I was really hoping to see something of that nature. It would then allow a 20’ greenbelt between the Knight’s parcel and this parcel. I still think that since there is a 2 story building across the street that it could still be feasibly done on this site.


Chairman Brennan: I will point out again that we are addressing 3 variance requests tonight. This isn’t the Planning Commission and this isn’t any of the administrative functions that have been going on in the last 3 or 4 years. With that said, we are trying to appease some neighbors and some fair equity with the applicant.


Milton Knight, Sr. To make it short and sweet, Mr. Quinn mentioned 20’ which I never heard mentioned once in the 3 times that I have been here; and then the 20’ became 10’. All I heard to begin with and each time that I have been here you talked about 3’ variances and he wanted a 10’; the 20’ was never mentioned once to me. Now it sounds like they are giving us the 10’ which is not true in my mind. The 20’ was never mentioned. Our biggest concern is this gentlemen, we asked for a 10’ variance and it looks like that is going to be what it is and we appreciate it. We were concerned about what kind of wall, berm or what it was going to be. Our biggest concern, was like in the letter is that the radius on the new building west of us where the children’s furniture building is and the radius is perfect for the driveway in and out as far as the radius goes. With this drawing right here……


Chairman Brennan: They have already said that they have moved it to the east and they are going to show us that next.


Milton Knight: They are? That is what I was concerned about. On this drawing here looks like what we call a banana, it is not a true arc. That was our 2 main concerns – the wall and as long as it is copasetic it will be fine with us.


Chairman Brennan: I think that we have addressed the space, we will let them address the ingress, egress.


Matt Quinn: It is true that with the 10’ setback now being on the west side of the property that the driveway was moved. Rod Arroyo has consulted with us and our architect and we meet all of the City of Novi requirements for the turning radius’. We will still have to work out all of the final details with the Oakland County Road Commission, and since Grand River is a county road that is typically done prior to final site plan so that will be handled there.


Chairman Brennan: Would you know how many feet to the east from the original proposal?


Matt Quinn: It was moved 7’ to the east as I recall.


Chairman Brennan: Without a drawing at least the Knight’s have……


Matt Quinn: That was necessitated from the original 3’ requested variance to now the 10’ so the driveway moved right along with it. His other question regarding the greenbelt; the greenbelt on the west side will be planted with all of the requirements of the Novi Landscaping Ordinance. A landscaping plan has to be submitted and approved by Linda Lemke by final site plan; so we will meet all of the Novi ordinances there and within 10’ you will be able to plant some nice shrubs that will create a buffer from the parking and what have you. So, I think that those address the questions that they have. The first gentleman asked about cars going up and down through the parking lot and that is why we have the zero lot line there so that we can have shared parking so that we can have ease of access going in and out and that works nicely to make the traffic flow better in this project.




Terry Morrone had no comment.


Heidi Hannan had no comment.


Chairman Brennan: We have a substantial amount of data and information from the petitioner. Additional clarification tonight on additional changes. We are down to 3 defined variance requests in contrast to where we started 3 months ago.


Member Reinke: I think that the petitioner has done a good job in bringing this in line with it being a workable project there. It is a far cry from what we started out with. I still would have like to have seen something that could fit the ordinance but with the availability of property it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. I think that the variance requests are minimal and I think that I can work with what the petitioner has requested and asked for.


Member Fannon: What guarantee is there that you will be able to share the parking lot with the Plaza? I know there is some document, but it is in escrow or something?


Matt Quinn: There will be a cross easement agreement. Is there one already?


Brad Byarski: There is one in the Plaza owner’s hands and they, of course, had all of the communications about it beforehand so there is no reason to believe that it will not be signed. Obviously if you want to make a motion contingent upon a copy of that easement being filed, that would easily be accomplished.


Heidi Hannan: In addition that would be a requirement of final site plan approval, so it would be handled.


Chairman Brennan: I will just make a comment that from day one I was concerned about adjoining property owners that had been there for a long time. I think that you at least presented a plan tonight that addresses 2 significant issues – the setback space between the buildings or the sites and moving the western driveway to insure that it is not infringing upon their traffic flow solves the other problem. Parking is an unknown and I hope that Planning has done their homework here.


Matt Quinn: We do meet all of the parking requirements.


Heidi Hannan: They are not coming forward with a variance request for parking. They have met all of the parking requirements.


Member Fannon: One concern that I have and there is a variance being asked here tonight that wasn’t advertised – the new 10’ variance?


Matt Quinn: No, actually a side yard variance was requested and it was published in that manner.


Chairman Brennan: It was published as a 3’.


Matt Quinn: But the issue of a side yard setback was published.


Chairman Brennan: If we put this off another month they will be back for 2 variances.


Member Fannon: They have now made Grand River their frontage.


Member Sanghvi: That is why the whole thing has changed. The parameters have changed because they have changed the frontage.


Member Fannon: I was just trying to figure out what the motion is….


Chairman Brennan: Let’s see if we can summarize that; the motion is a variance for the west side property line to be 10’ instead of 20’ – a 10’ variance request for the west. We have a zero (0) setback on the north property because that is the adjoining parking lot. We have a 20’ on the Novi Road easterly border. So all three (3) variance requests are now setback requests. The parking is gone. The loading issue is gone.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Bauer,


Seconded by Member Reinke,




Discussion on motion:


Member Harrington: With the greatest reluctance I am going to support this variance request, for the reason that I think that the petitioner has carried its’ burden here; but my reluctance is generated by and it is still my belief that it is the wrong project at the wrong time and in the wrong place and it is going to create a traffic hazard and risk to life and limb and when there are traffic fatalities out there the City agencies that have pushed this project through will have to deal with that. I will further support this motion because I have not received to my satisfaction any competent information from the City that I specifically requested which would help me in my decision. Specifically what kinds of lesser projects can be constructed on site. That question has never been answered. The response from the City in charge of giving that information is appalling, it is outrageous that we can’t get that kind of information other than a one line summary. Not withstanding, the petitioner is entitled to a ruling on his petition and is entitled to a ruling on the evidence that is in front of us. I am going to support this petition because there is no evidence that I can find which would incredibly oppose it. But, I am deeply distressed at our inability to get expert assistance from the City when we specifically ask for it in not one meeting, not two meetings and here we are tonight and we still haven’t received what I think that we are entitled to so that we can make intelligent decisions. This project has been aggressively promoted by various City agencies. I think that is wrong. I think that is appalling. But, we have to give due process to the petitioner. We have to be fair to the petitioners. So I will support the motion.


Member Meyer: I would like to remind you that I have abstained from voting on this and I would ask that the alternate would be casting his vote.


Member Fannon: This doesn’t have to be a part of the motion, but I think that the minutes should reflect that the Planning Commission says that the cross easement has to be given in order for the final site plan because if it isn’t it is a real mess.


Chairman Brennan: If I am not mistaken in previous testimony they said that they had this document but it wouldn’t be executed until the variances were granted. But, this will be so noted in the minutes.


Member Sanghvi: I agree with Mr. Harrington and what he has said. I think it has been promoted very strongly by the City departments and with some information we probably could have given some other options; but that is not the fault of the petitioner and I plan to support the motion.


Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-064 filed by MHB Design Group, Inc., representing Novi Town Center 8


Continuation of case filed by MHB Design Group, Inc., representing Novi Town Center 8, requesting to move the existing signs at the theater located at 26085 Town Center Dr.; a 10’ x 5’ (50 sq. ft.) wall sign with the verbiage "NOVI TOWN CENTER" and a 10’ x 10" (100 sq. ft.) wall sign with changeable letters listing names of films currently showing at the theater.


William Brunner was present.


William Brunner: After the last meeting we went back and reapplied for the other 2 signs that were not applied for on the first paperwork and I think that was a concern to get that paper work all in order prior to talking about this variance. I did bring this graphic with me tonight. There is a photograph of the theater and the way that it stands on the bottom with the 3 signs. This shows you where we are moving the signs; one on this side, and then the 2 marquee signs. I don’t think that there are any other outstanding questions from the last meeting.




There was no audience participation.




Terry Morrone had no comment.


Chairman Brennan: If you will recall we are moving 3 signs that have been there for 20 years to different locations and it wasn’t actually advertised properly and that is why they are back.


Member Fannon: I think that it is going to be a big improvement. I happened to go to the show after the last meeting and those stanchions are starting to rust and I think that this is really going to improve the looks of that whole front end.


Member Reinke: I agree with Mr. Fannon, I think it is really going to look much better.


Moved by Member Fannon,


Seconded by Member Reinke,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-066A, B & C filed by Warren Sign Systems, representing Midas


Warren Sign Systems, representing Midas, is requesting A) an 11’3" x 3’8.875" (41.625 sq. ft.) wall sign with the verbiage MIDAS; B) a 19’11" x 18" (29.874 sq. ft.) wall sign with the verbiage AUTO SERVICE EXPERTS; C) a 9’ x 2’11.875" (27 sq. ft.) wall sign with the verbiage MIDAS, for property located at 43421 Twelve Mile Road.


No one was present for the case.


Chairman Brennan: This is the second month in a row, the mock ups are not in place. Board Members do you have any suggestions regarding this case.


Member Reinke: Have we received any communication from this applicant?


Nancy McKernan: None whatsoever.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-069 filed by Ted Minasian, representing Beechforest Park


Continuation of case filed by Ted Minasian, representing Beechforest Park, requesting an interpretation of the ordinance regulating the maximum overall height of the structure which governs the setback requirement of the building in an OST Zoned District; a 6 foot height variance to allow the roof top equipment screen to exceed the maximum building height and a variance to exempt the decorative dome from the building height calculation to allow for the construction of Beechforest Park on the west side of Meadowbrook Road north of I-96 and south of 12 Mile Road.


Matt Quinn was present.


Matt Quinn: From last month’s Meeting we started a presentation and then you realized that you might want to get some opinions from your own City Attorney and he has now written you that information and of course as you might imagine, he is wrong. But no seriously, what we are looking at here is the office park on Meadowbrook and the issue in simplistic language is side yard variances. We believe that we have a 59’ building up to the parapet where the flat roof begins and that would require a side yard which we meet. Now, Mr. Arroyo is of the opinion that the height of the building is not quite what the definition says but he is allowed to extrapolate a little bit and state that the height of the building goes half way up our architectural feature which is the dome that is on top of the building. We acknowledge that the midpoint of our dome is 65’ and that is also the same height as the top of our appurtenances. The fence that covers the air conditioning and what have you is 65’. But that is not what your ordinance defines as building height. Where the 65’ comes in is that we can’t have any structures in this district that are greater than 65’ in total height.


Matt Quinn: Now we are requesting some options. Either we do some ordinance interpretations here this evening or we really cut to the chase and we are requesting some small side yard setback variances. One of them is 76.25’ out of 88’ and the other is 76.6’ out of 88’. Now let me show you because the architects have gone through all this time and money and the client has spent all of his money to really show what we are talking about. As far as side yard setbacks there is always the issue of what are we seeing on top of the building. What you will see is that this is the building and this is the dome and this is where the appurtenances are set on the building; from the adjacent properties you will see that looking up you will not see any of that material on the top of the building. As you are looking from the end of the building you will see the site lines go above even the dome and all of the appurtenances that are on top. These are from the different sides (pictures are being shown to the Board) so from no point that with the side yard setbacks there really doesn’t come into play as everything goes up. This is what the site looks like. Here is the building and here is Meadowbrook Road. The building is in the middle and we have access roads on the sides, we have green space on the sides, a road and then more green space. The green space on the site is higher than that which is required by the City of Novi.


Matt Quinn: This will be a beautiful project. I showed you and we just started to get into this last time what the building will look like. (pictures shown to the Board). This is what the building will look like, this is the dome feature that goes up to the top, this is the front of the building and as you can see the reason that this dome becomes a beautiful architectural feature is because of the way that the lower part of the building is set up with the arches and the columns and it really flows nicely up through there. Also this is another view of the front showing the dome. These pictures are from the computer and from the boundary line and the different points of view and as you can see you will never see anything that is on the top of this building even with the relatively minor side yard setback variances being allowed.


Matt Quinn: So, it is up to you; if you want to get into the interpretations we have our letter and I think that our interpretation is accurate. If being the politician that I used to be; if you don’t want to get involved in that interpretation because that may have an affect on other projects that are around and perhaps listening; then the 11’ side yard setbacks are in fact in order.


Matt Quinn: The difficulties of this a couple of things. The practical difficulties. Number one the client has gone to great economic expense to get where they are in this particular position in looking at the City’s ordinances and determining what they really meant. Also we have the approval from the property owner to the south and he has written a letter that is a part of your packet saying that he has no objection to the variances be granted. As far as the property owner on the north that will be another office development. An office, I am sure, that won’t be quite as nice as this. This one will be the real epitome of that whole area. This office, by the way, sits on the high point of the entire area. Everything else slopes off around it, both across the road and back and on each side. So you are really going to end up with a focal point for that entire Meadowbrook Road corridor and these very minute variances aren’t really going to make a hill of beans to the adjacent property owners or anything else. They have really as much green space as they ever would because of the green space that is left against the building is more than is required and you still have a very adequate green space buffer on the line.


Matt Quinn: So we would ask that in the alternative that those 2 variances be granted. I will be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have or to review any of the other drawings. We have more material to show you but I think that you get the point from what you have seen so far.




There was no audience participation.




Terry Morrone had no comment.


Heidi Hannan had no comment.


Chairman Brennan: As I recall, our gist last month was that while we certainly accept Mr. Quinn’s interpretation of the ordinance we wanted the City Attorney to make a statement; which he did. I tend to want to agree with you; I don’t want to get into a debate about the interpretation of the ordinance. I would just as soon treat this as a setback case on those merits. I don’t know if that is the pleasure of the rest of the Board Members.


Chairman Brennan: What is the overall size of that piece of property?


Matt Quinn: 8 acres. Don’t forget these pictures are blown up.


Chairman Brennan: I think that this is a spectacular development. I think it is an outstanding addition to that district which is going to this type of construction. I think it will look just dazzling up there. I don’t have any problem with that bowl on the top or whatever you want to call it; I think that it adds to the façade. From this one Board Member, I would support your request.


Vice-Chairman Bauer: I would have no problem with it. I think it is beautiful.


Member Reinke: Can these side yard variances be addressed without being advertised?


Chairman Brennan: I think that in the original petition we discussed the 2 options. Either addressing the case from an interpretation of the height and debating the height or hearing the case based upon the setbacks.


Matt Quinn: That is how it was published also. That was the petition.


Chairman Brennan: All we have had is a continuation, holding off to get an interpretation from the City Attorney. I think that we are OK.


Member Fannon: I said at the last meeting that I was wondering why we wouldn’t take this up as a variance request instead of interpreting the ordinance. So I would support this. I think that these are minor compared to the size of the project.


Moved by Member Fannon,


Seconded by Member Reinke,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-071 filed by Jerome Pesick, representing Shemin Nurseries


Jerome Pesick, representing Shemin Nurseries is requesting to construct a 35’ x 75’ temporary shade structure for a period of time contemporaneous with the variance granted pursuant to Case No. 99-009 (through the year 2002) for property located at 27400 Beck Road.


Jerome Pesick and Clint Roush were present.


Jerome Pesick: This property is located at 27400 Beck Road and as the Chairman has just indicated it is presently being operated as a landscape supply business pursuant to a variance that this Board granted in March of this year. A copy of the existing variance is attached to our current petition.


Jerome Pesick: The reason the variance was granted was due to the uncertainty that was cast over the future use of this property because of the MDOT proposed Beck Road interchange project, which it projects they will begin construction on in the year 2002, however the plans have yet to be finalized.


Jerome Pesick: Tonight we are asking for an additional variance for this property which would run contemporaneous with the existing variance. The additional variance which we are asking for would allow for the construction of a 30’ x 75’ shade structure approximately 12’ to 14’ in height. I would indicate that on the Agenda there is a typo that indicates we are asking for a 35’ by 75’ shade structure and it is actually 30’ by 75’. The reason that the shade structure is needed is because during the course of the business operations last summer which was the first for Shemin at the site; they had difficulty maintaining a certain type of plant materials such as flowering annuals and finer grasses due to overexposure to sunlight.


Jerome Pesick: Attached to your packet are two items. One is the site plan for the property and this is the site plan (pictures shown to Board) and the only difference between this plan that we presented this petition and the previous ones is that it shows the location of the shade structure which you can see is centrally located on the property and is relatively unobtrusive. The other thing that we attached to the petition are pictures of similar shade structures that they have at other operations. You can see that they are relatively simple and attractive and again not obtrusive. For these reasons we ask that the Board approve the current variance that is being requested.


Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 6 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Terry Morrone: We didn’t have any problem with the request, providing that the structure remains temporary and open to the elements.


Member Harrington: My office is co-counsel with Mr. Pesick on an unrelated matter, but in view of the fact that we have our alternate here tonight I will not participate in this.


Chairman Brennan: I will just make a general comment that this type of structure is common in this business and we will see this and have seen this at other similar businesses in the City. It is the nature of their business. I have no objection at all, the petitioner is dealing with a great deal of uncertainty as it is.


Member Meyer: What is temporary?


Jerome Pesick: Contemporaneous with the existing variance through 2002.


Moved by Member Reinke,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-072 filed by Metro Detroit Signs, representing 7-11 Convenience Store


Metro Detroit Signs, representing 7-11 Convenience Store, is requesting a 4’ x 2’6" (10 sq. ft.) wall sign to advertise ATM services at the store located at 24111 Meadowbrook Road.


John Dedders was present and duly sworn.


John Dedders: 7-11 and Standard Federal, who provide the ATM services for the 7-11, are requesting a wall sign 4’x 2’6" (10 sq. ft.) on the left side of the store to advertise the fact that ATM services are available. The store itself right now has just one small 7-11 sign on the front which is 9 square feet or 3’ x 3’ above the door and one pylon sign and I am not exactly sure if it is 4’ x 6’ or 24 square feet. So this additional sign even though it is the reason for the variances that even though it is an extra sign it would be relatively close to the 40 square feet that is allowed for signage.


Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 23 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Terry Morrone had no comment.


Chairman Brennan: Weren’t you here last month for an ATM sign?


John Dedders: No, that was a Michigan Lottery sign.


Chairman Brennan: I drove by the McDonalds at 12 Oaks and they have an ATM banner in their window. You can go to an ATM at McDonalds now. If we started putting ATM signs on the front of every building in this City that is all you would see. I can’t support the request.


Member Harrington: I agree with you on that, but at the conclusion of the Meeting under "Other Matters" tonight I am going to address that issue and perhaps with respect to Ordinance Review. We are seeing a lot of ATM signs. We are seeing a lot of Michigan Lotto signs. We have a collateral issue that when they get denied here they paper their entire glass windows with the same signs that we turn down. I think that ordinance review should take a look at that, but I don’t see any evidence of hardship in this particular case that would allow a second sign. They are advertising a product that they sell. They are making money on the ATM.


Member Meyer: That is my exact thoughts. You were here last month for the one on Farmer Jack, if I am not mistaken.


John Dedders: Yes, that was for another customer. The hardship is that the customers don’t know that there is one there. Admittedly the word hardship is a little nebulous to define.


Moved by Member Meyer,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-073 filed by Kevin McFarland


Kevin McFarland is requesting to maintain his gazebo/spa which is existing from the previous owner for property located at 2009 West Lake Dr.


Kevin and Valerie McFarland were present and duly sworn.


Kevin McFarland: We purchased our home in November in the existing condition with both the storage shed and the hot tub/gazebo/spa. In August of this year we got a notice in the mail that apparently the prior owner had never pulled a permit for the hot tub. We went to try to get a permit for it, apparently it doesn’t meet the 6’ side yard setback. During that process it was also brought to our attention that you are only allowed to have one accessory building on a lot of our size, which brings the shed now into question.


Kevin McFarland: We request a variance because first of all we didn’t create either problem, they were existing on our property. In regard to the hot tub; in order to meet the requirements we would have to move it over approximately 3’. I don’t think that would improve anyone’s view, it doesn’t lessen any potential noise and it doesn’t provide any benefit to the neighboring properties and in fact it would move it closer to one of the neighbors homes. Also the prior owner had installed a nice brick paver walkway down to the lake and this would result in moving the hot tub/spa and probably encroaching on those brick pavers and we would have reroute those and at a considerable expense to us.


Kevin McFarland: In regard to shed; we have a relatively small lot. There is no room for a garage and the shed is used to store our lawn mower, rakes, yard equipment. It has been in place, I believe, for 4 years now with no complaints from anybody. So that would leave me to believe that none of the neighbors have a problem or it would have been brought up years ago. We need a place to store our equipment in order to keep our yard nice.


Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 43 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 6 approvals. Copy in file.




Elizabeth Burkett, I live on the adjacent property to the McFarland’s house. I strongly object to the tin shed and I would like to show you why. (Pictures being shown to the Board) From the windows of my house this is the window frame and as you can see this tin shed is right outside of my window, it blocks my view. This is from the dining room window which is in the next room and looking back on the tin shed you can see that not only are there things inside of it but also on the outside as well. This is my son and this is my house showing how close this is to my house. Our houses are staggered and the lots are very small, narrow, they are long and narrow. My house is in the middle of my lot with only a couple of feet on the side and this shed is right on the property line and you can tell how close it is to my house here. In this particular view you can see, and I don’t know what this is and I assume that it has something to do with the hot tub, there is a panel and also a large net and the reason that I wanted to make sure that I brought this photo is that one day recently my son left the lawnmower in the front lawn and before 6 o’clock it is dark so I ran through this side of the yard up to the front and I fell, as it had been windy and these things fell and where from the tin shed and were touching my house; so as I ran through there they were kind of knee high and I almost killed myself on whatever that was that was propped up against the tin shed. This again you can see looking back on the shed the items that are there. This particular one which you will see better when I pass them around shows that the shed is now rusted and bent and starting to disintegrate. This view shows that the shed does block, and this is the backyard and my house, this shed does block my view of the lake. I thought that you might get tired of things that are ugly so on that same roll of film I brought you a couple of "Kodak Moments" and those of us that live on the lake highly treasure our view and I think that the value of our land is also based on the view and every morning on our lake it is different. I think that having a shed in front of my window does devalue my property and I would appreciate your turning down the variance for the shed.




Terry Morrone: This is a problem that was created by the previous owners, as I understand, and not created by themselves. They are confronted with the problem and now have to deal with it. I really don’t have a problem with the hot tub placement although I do see a discrepancy here in the dimension and it looks as though his site plan is showing that it is 3’ from the property line instead of 4. This would require a 3’ side yard setback instead of 2. I don’t know what that has happened, but nevertheless it is a 3’ side yard variance and not a 2’. The metal shed sitting over on the property line on the north side, I can’t answer to that as to why or how come it is there but it is the ordinance only allows one detached structure on a lot this size; so I think that the petitioner might be looking at some alternatives in regard to that. At any rate we really don’t have a problem with the hot tub location.


Valerie McFarland: I guess my thought was regarding the hot tub and that was our primary concern; the tool shed I didn’t have a big problem with that but I wanted for the record to say that no way it affects her view of the lake. It is on the side of her house 60’ back. I took photographs as well and as far as hindering her view because I actually went over there and stood on her property to take pictures and the only view she has is of my dining on my deck or in my hot tub. As far as the tool shed being a little bit rusty, it is a 9" strip and it can be cleaned up with rustoleum. But as far as the view, it is not even close. The plans should reflect that.


Member Harrington: Is the tool shed on a foundation?


Kevin McFarland: It is on a pea gravel base. It looks like they put down stone gravel and that is what it sits on.


Member Harrington: It appeared from the photographs that there might be some room to move the tool shed a little closer to the house, is that correct?


Kevin McFarland: To our house?


Member Harrington: Yes, would it be a big deal and would that help your neighbor if you were to move it a little farther off of the property line?


Kevin McFarland: Not at all. Well, what I would think might be a good solution is that we have an 8’ high privacy fence which sticks out as far as our deck sticks out and there is a gravel area there that the former owner used as a dog area and maybe we could move the shed over and it may still be relatively close to the property line but it would be shielded by the fence.


Chairman Brennan: That would move it closer to the house?


Kevin McFarland: That would move it closer to our home.


Valeria McFarland: It will not eliminate any distance because we are on such a narrow lot as far as per requirement.


Chairman Brennan: Let’s see if that solves the problem. Does that solve the problem?


Elizabeth Burkett: Yes, then it would not be near my windows. It would be behind my windows.


Kevin McFarland: I don’t know if we would then get into a variance as far as the distance from our home, which I think is a 10’ distance from the main structure.


Chairman Brennan: We have two issues that were posted tonight that had to do with two outdoor dwellings. One a gazebo and one a shed; so we will deal with it. Has this been fixed up since you saw it?


Valerie McFarland: Absolutely, we had a bon fire last week. A friend of mine brought over all of that wood.


Chairman Brennan: No, I am talking about the building itself because it looks a little ratty.


Kevin McFarland: There is a giant tree in our neighbors’ yard and when they had an ice storm, I guess two years ago a huge branch fell and dented it.


Valerie McFarland: It was there when we bought it and they said to keep it for storage. There have been so many problems that we are actually going to be moving.


Member Harrington inquired of Elizabeth Burkett: Did you understand what we were asking about possibly moving that closer to the structure?


Elizabeth Burkett: If they move the shed back, it will be away from my windows and it would be next to their house it would be fine.


Member Harrington: And would you be willing if we were to allow you or the Board was to allow you to keep that shed, would you be willing to relocate it?


Kevin McFarland: Yes, sure.


Member Harrington: Would it make some sense so we are not playing counselors up here, would it make some sense for you guys to talk in the back while we take the next case and you can come back and tell us exactly where you would consider moving that shed to so that you are both on the same page?


Kevin McFarland: Yes.


Member Harrington: I assume that you have no objection to the gazebo?


Elizabeth Burkett: No, that is not a problem.


Member Harrington: So, you would like to take the opportunity to talk for a few minutes?


Kevin McFarland: Yes.


Member Harrington: Board Members, does that make sense?


Member Fannon: That would be fine, come back and mark it on one of your site plans so that we can just take a look at wherever you say it is going.


Chairman Brennan: I have a recommendation here. While they take two minutes, let’s take three and have a short break because this last case could take more than just a couple of minutes.


Short break taken.


Chairman Brennan: We will now finish up this case.


Kevin McFarland: The fence runs equal to the deck. We will put it anywhere. We do have an electrical box there and a water spigot there; but we will put it anywhere in that area to still give us access and we will be fine.


Chairman Brennan: We have resolution.


Member Harrington: Probably this should be subject to Building Department approval of that location if it is to close to something.


Valerie McFarland: That was my thought, how close can you actually be to a house?


Chairman Brennan: This has been sitting on the property line and the plan is to continue it on the property line, but behind the fence.


Valerie McFarland: My question is that with the privacy fence there and the home right here, you want to get to the faucet is and you would need at least 3 or 4 feet there.


Kevin McFarland: We don’t want to butt it next to our home, we want it setback from our house but still behind the fence; totally behind the fence.


Valerie McFarland: I want to make sure that when we move it that we don’t have to move it again. I don’t know if you can take an 8’ shed and move it.


Member Reinke: Do you have any idea of what the length of that fence is?


Kevin McFarland: It is as long as the deck. It goes from the corner of our home to the corner of our deck.


Member Reinke: How far does the deck come out from the house?


Kevin McFarland: Maybe 6 or 8 feet.


Chairman Brennan: This plan has to be somewhat to scale so it has to be more than that.


Kevin McFarland: Not from the back corner of our home; but………


Member Reinke: That is what I am saying, the furthest point of the deck out from the furthest point of the house, how far does that protrude out?


Kevin McFarland: There is 6’ of the home plus another 8’ on the deck, so that would be 14’ as I am eyeballing it. I would say 12 to 14’. The deck itself is 6 to 8’ and then you can see on the drawing that the home is 6.1.


Member Reinke: If you brought that back to where the edge of shed coming to the lake was parallel to the furthest line of the deck that should give you room to get around.


Kevin McFarland: That would give us about 6’.


Member Reinke: That would keep it as far away from the house, but it is not going to stick out any further than what the fence is.


Kevin McFarland: No, absolutely not. It would be covered by the fence completely.


Member Reinke: Would that be agreeable with you?


Elizabeth Burkett: Yes.


Member Reinke: I think that would be workable.


Member Harrington: They are asking to continue the shed with the location to be determined and it would probably take only about 2 minutes, if they were there at the same time a representative of the Building Department was to ascertain the exact location so that it doesn’t interfere with anything else. We don’t want to create another situation and I think that we could handle that with a motion.


Member Reinke: That answers the whole thing, as far as I am concerned.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Reinke,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 99-075A & B filed by Nobe Property Group, LLC, representing Beck House Congregate Care Facility


Nobe Property Group, LLC, representing Beck House Congregate Care Facility is requesting an off-street parking variance, a density variance for 100 rooms, variances for building length, a 33’6" front yard setback variance, a 53’8" rear yard setback variance, a north side yard setback variance of 65’ and a south side yard setback variance of 65’ to allow for the construction of a congregate care facility with 100 one and two bedroom elderly housing units and 19 convalescent units on approximately 6.99 acres on Beck Road between Eleven Mile and Grand River Avenue.


Blair Bowman was present and duly sworn.


Blair Bowman: I am representing Nobe Property Group, LLC. Here before you tonight to represent our organization and development group for the Beck House Congregate Care Facility and to hopefully provide you with the adequate information for you to act favorably on some variance requests as it relates to this very high quality and thoroughly planned project.


Blair Bowman: One thing that I have to do, and Nancy tells me that I have to apologize for not including this in your packets is this information that I am handing out to you. It is a piece of information that I will go into a little more detail on a little bit later in the presentation. (Copies handed to the Board) This is a draft of the preservation easement that we will be executing with the City at the time of final site plan approval.


Blair Bowman: The project itself is a congregate housing concept. The group that we are involved with I will tell you is a local high quality operator of this type of a project. The variances that we are seeking from you this evening result from the technical issues as it relates to the lack of a true elderly housing ordinance in this community. I believe that other projects of similar nature have been before you recently with similar types of issues as it relates to basically density, setbacks and building length.


Blair Bowman: I will tell you that the plan has been through almost 2 years of revisions and revisiting. The site plan is in such a condition that the sensitive environmental features on the site were paramount in consideration in the placement of the structure. We worked extensively with the wetlands and woodlands consultants to do as best as we possibly could with this particular site location to maintain those sensitive features.


Blair Bowman: The 3 variances that I discussed with you that we are looking for would be density, as well as building length and side and front yard setbacks. All of these variances basically relate and revolve around the core design of the building, a congregate type of concept where individual wings are attached by the way of a core element where the congregate type of services occur, where activities occur in the center, where meals are served and then the individuals would reside in the various wings in the individual residences.


Blair Bowman: It is important to note, I think, that if you took apart the building and these were individual complexes there really wouldn’t be an issue as it relates to many of the variances particularly as it relates to setbacks or building length. But, this type of a concept is important to the function and the service of the congregate style housing concept. It is a standard and also a model for operation and similar to what you have seen in other projects that have come before you. You can see as it relates to the wings are somewhat skewed and not in perfect symmetry and that is because even to the extent of a 5th revision to the plan we attempted to reduce the overall building length by maneuvering these wings and positioning them in areas that would be least impactful to the environmental features. The environmental features that are of paramount concern on the site is the Novi/Lyon Drain to the south side of the facility as it relates primarily to the setback issue there really is no further point to the south and no further point to the east that we can move this facility in order not to disturb anymore of these environmental features. In other words if we were to try to accommodate the technicalities of the ordinance in an attempt to gain additional front or side yard setbacks we would have to encroach upon these environmental features that were painstakingly sought to be preserved.


Blair Bowman: One thing that we provided you with just the information tonight is also a key element of hardship in this case as it relates to the density issue. The project consists of 119 units. It is important to note that under the RM2 zoning district, that it is actually in a room count less than what would be technically allowed under RM2. But under a technicality in the ordinance in order to avail yourself of the overall density you must go to 4 stories. When presenting our original concept plans and moving through the rezoning process committed at the City Council level that we would execute a preservation easement with the City of Novi that would protect and to preserve approximately 8 acres of woodland and wetland area. In redesigning and moving this facility we have come up with an expanded 10 acres.


Blair Bowman: The situation was that we would restrict the use of the piece of property to elderly housing and also eliminate anything greater than 3 stories. We would not produce in essence a high rise type of a concept and that was to produce and to preserve the overall residential character of the area.


Blair Bowman: We have support of the property owner to the south, this is something that Providence Hospital has supported and it provides a reasonable transition from the residential to the south into the buffered area of the congregate housing and then on into the town house apartment project.


Blair Bowman: If there are any other questions that I can answer, I will be pleased to do so. We respectfully request that we grant our variances.


Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 21 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




Pauline Berry – I have known the businesses that are putting up these type of facilities with the core living and the wings and I am also a provider of pharmaceutical services to these types of facilities. I think that it is something that is really needed here in Novi and right around from Providence Hospital. I think that it is a great convenience. I think that it is something that we really need in this area. I just wanted to say that I have known these builders, developers, the planners and along with Blair Bowman and being a Novi resident for 19 years and seeing our Whitehall down the street in Novi and our Charter Houses to see something quality like this and something new to care of our seniors is something that we really need here in Novi. I know that Singh Development has some things going up; but I think that with the growing number of Seniors that we have coming up in this community that we don’t want to lose them, we want to keep them here in Novi. I think that with quality projects like this we can stay in Novi. I want to stay in Novi.


Dennis Berry – I have been in this community for 34 years and believe it or not this is the first time that I have ever come before any body to speak on any petition. I have known Blair Bowman for a long time and that either makes him awfully young or me awful old. I have known the developer for probably 9 or 10 years, he has been in involved in Novi for at least 22 or 23 years; he owned a big parcel of property where our Town Center is now located and would have had a development in there if things had gone the way they were supposed to go. I think that when we have an opportunity to have a development like this in the community particularly for senior citizens and we are all going to be there soon, I think it is paramount for us to do whatever we can to bring the development along and to keep it within the guidelines of the ordinance. I don’t think an ordinance is anything etched in stone and that is why we have a Board like you. I would ask you for your consideration for the petitioner.




Blair Bowman: One thing that I would just like to finish up with and I know that you have to consider hardships and I am hoping that we have explained some practical as well as some legal ones as well. But, I think that you also have to consider what the harm might be if you were to grant the variances or what the affect might be and I would like to contend that practically speaking the affect would be negligible if any at all The fact is that from a practical standpoint around the entire perimeter to the south and the east of the site there is substantial preservation area and woodland area that in affect provides the type of protection that the restrictions and the ordinances were looking to put into place. To the north and the northeast the adjacent project which was approved simultaneously with this is also controlled by our group and is adjacent in boundary line to the recreational facilities and open space. So again, the building relationship issues, the setback issues should not be of grave concern as far as any harm to result from proceeding on the variances.


Terry Morrone had no comment.


Heidi Hannan had no comment.


Member Harrington: I was involved representing one of the original owners of one of the subject parcels here and was involved in tenacious negotiations with Mr. Bowman so I will decline to participate in this matter.


Chairman Brennan: I have a question, this is RM2 zoning so this is residential property and that is the core of the problem in meeting the setbacks and the width and the like; could you give us a little more history on that?


Heidi Hannan: As far as the variance for density I think that Mr. Bowman has explained that; although the property is zoned RM2 because it is not 4 stories he is not able to utilize the full potential of the density of the RM2 District. Also between Mr. Morrone and myself we have sat down with the consultant as far as the length of the building, the horizontal length, requirements and those are necessitated and I think that Blair would say based upon what his tenants need and then if you look at the ordinance the setbacks have to be generously increased based on the length of the building. I don’t know if you need me to clarify that?


Member Meyer: I am curious only from the viewpoint that some of those variances are 65’ on the south and the east where it is buffered by…….


Heidi Hannan: As the ordinance reads, your building horizontal length can be 180’. The Planning Commission can grant a waiver for that to double to 360’ and in that case if you go above the 180’ you have to increase your setbacks by a 1 to 3 ratio or 1’ for every 3’ above 180. So that necessitates much more of a setback then the property allows based on some of the information that Mr. Bowman has indicated with the woodlands and where he has placed the building.


Chairman Brennan: Let me ask another question and it relates to the other senior housing that was approved on Meadowbrook. If I am not mistaken it was a configuration very similar to this; because it was the same type of needs and from your perspective does this general plan fall in line with the proposed Meadowbrook site?


Heidi Hannan: Yes, actually Mr. Morrone and myself sat down with Mr. Arroyo today and he highlighted the similarities and also suggested that perhaps we do need to revisit the RM2 zoning to address the issue of the height because of the configuration of the congregate type facilities that we are seeing and their specific needs.


Chairman Brennan: But as far as all of the various variances needed on sides, back, widths, and lengths it is in line with the needs of this particular housing based upon our experience and what we went through with the Meadowbrook facility.


Heidi Hannan: That is our understanding.


Terry Morrone: That is, and as Heidi has mentioned we did talk to the consultant and the variances for this particular project are very similar to the variances that were granted on the Meadowbrook project. If you look at the site plan you will see that the lot size is very irregular to the building and including the building. So that the minimum side yard setback which is 75' in one location it varies, but that is the worse case scenario. You will see that every front yard, rear yard and on each side the setback is actually a little different with the 75’ being the least dimension. Then even in that case because of its location and where it is taken at the building it is only a small portion of the building. It is not as bad as it may appear.


Chairman Brennan: You have answered my question and we could get into a very detailed review of each one of these variances and how it could be done differently. I don’t think that I need to do that. I trust the Planning Department and the experience that we have had in doing this once before. We have a similar layout which is what I was getting at; it has gone through Planning and unlike another case tonight everyone has thought it through. I am a little bit more comfortable with this because of the added benefits of preserving that woodlands which wraps around about 40% of the proposed development. I don’t have any specific questions or objections. I agree with the comments that this housing is necessary and to have it in this location on the west side of the City. Nothing jumps off of the page saying look out.


Member Meyer: Is it going to impact any of the neighboring lots with the granting of these variances? I noticed that there were no approvals or objections but……


Blair Bowman: As a matter of fact at the initial site planning meetings and rezoning meetings we had support of the neighbors, particularly to the immediate south. The entire intent and frankly we really are stuck as we gave our word at the time that we would try to preserve the residential character of the area with a lowscape traditional, residentially orientated design. Then we came across the technicality that in order to obtain the density, the very density that we went through all of the zoning to obtain, we had to go 4 stories or greater. So, in fact, we have showed this plan throughout the last 18 months to Mr. Valdez the immediate resident to the south and he was at the last Planning Commission and he supported it.


Chairman Brennan: What is the rest of the development to the north of the site that is shown on the top plan?


Blair Bowman: That is what is known as Timber Meadows Townhouse Apartments. Those are going to be luxury style townhouse apartments of reasonable and substantial size serving a niche of the market place for a truly luxury style apartment for rent.


Chairman Brennan: But for all practical purposes, north of that woodlands with the exception of a couple of small houses right on Beck that is all vacant land?


Blair Bowman: Yes. The idea was and the planning concept behind this was that the congregate housing facility would frankly make a single one time intrusion into the woodlands along the frontage of Beck Road, then the remainder of the significant stand of woodlands would be retained protecting the single family large lot residential to the south. I don’t know if it is a subdivision. Then we would be transitioning to the north into the multiple family and then north of that with what would undoubtedly be industrial or commercial development. So, it made good planning sense.


Chairman Brennan: Here is another question that I am almost embarrassed to ask but I will because we have been fooled before, is this a very likeable image of what this is going to look like?


Blair Bowman: I will defer just by asking our staff, will this be very similar to the finished product as far as this rendering?


Unknown: Yes, we have already had sample selections and color selection with the client.


Heidi Hannan: This would be subject to our façade ordinance and it is reviewed by our consultants.


Chairman Brennan: We have seen renderings before that didn’t up being up anywhere near what was built, that is why I asked. This is spectacular. This is beautiful.


Blair Bowman: This is going to be a tremendous development. They have done this in other communities and that is why we hitched our wagon with these particular experts in the field. They have been in the business for 30 years. They have pioneered this concept locally and are excellent operators.


Member Reinke: As Mr. Bowman has alluded to, if you take out the center common area which is really the primary service area to this facility you wouldn’t have half the variance requests that are needed. For the size of the building and the layout and for what they have been able to protect and to preserve, I think that the amount of variance requests are minimal to that size of facility. Also I think that we ran into the same situation for the facility that is going in behind Twelve Oaks, when we had that before us. I think that you have done an excellent job. I think it looks good. It is useful need and I can support the petitioners’ request.


Moved by Member Fannon,


Seconded by Member Sanghvi,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Other Matters


Member Harrington: Actually I have 2 matters to discuss with the Board. The first would be that we are seeing more of the individual sign requests for either ATM or Lotto’s. I think that is an issue that should be addressed by Ordinance Review and I would be prepared to send a letter to Ordinance Review to ask them to take a look at it. My own feeling is and the purpose being to spare us these petitions. I don’t think that we need second signs on buildings or if we do they could be such a small sign like 1 x 2 instead 2 x 8 like we saw tonight that could accomplish that if Ordinance Review felt that it was appropriate. I don’t think that we should be continuing to deal with a flood of these things because it becomes pretty difficult to distinguish one request from another and all we are going to see is a flood of no’s and maybe the citizens of Novi and I won’t speak for Lotto signs but at least they will know that an ATM is available on site or not. I think it is appropriate that we send things to Ordinance Review if we are concerned about it and I think it is an issue that they should consider.


Chairman Brennan: I agree.


Member Harrington: Would you like me to send a letter?


Chairman Brennan: Absolutely. Thank you very much.


Member Harrington: The other issue that I would like to bring up is generated by Novi Crossings and that is water under the bridge in terms of our decisions and the reasons for it. I think that there is a kind of gray area and it is ambiguous in my own mind the extent to which we as a Board can obtain expert assistance to assist us in our deliberations. It doesn’t happen often. I think that there might be one other in my 10 years on the Board where I wanted that assistance. But I really wanted it in this one and we didn’t get it. I am not sure that under our charter or pursuant to our mandate that we are even entitled to ask for independent assistance along the lines of retention of an outside consultant, but when you have an issue which crosses jurisdiction of another Board in the City versus our Board I don’t think that the input that we are going to necessarily get from a Board who is aggressively lobbying for a development which they believe is in the best interest of the City is necessarily going to help us. It might and it might not. We may be entitled to independent information. Like in Crossings, I would have liked to have known "can you put in a 5000 square foot building and make a buck", "can you put in a 4500 square foot building", and I think that Mr. Fannon had the same concern. I would have liked to have known, as the lady who is still present of our loyal fans, "could you do 2 stories instead of 1", and that kind of architectural information or the profitability information I think would have been helpful to this Board. We still may have very well approved it as we did, but I think that we need that. What I would suggest for consideration is that we send a letter to Mr. Watson, the City Attorney, and ask him are we entitled to obtain that information and if so what is the best conduit to get it. Do we route our request formally through Building, and here is what we need? Or is there another access point that we have? Certainly it is not clear to me and certainly I requested it on 2 separate occasions that I felt that information would be helpful and I think that the Board would have liked that information. Next time that we run into this, I think that we need specific and timely information with some clear channels.


Heidi Hannan: The information that you received regarding the size of the building that would be profitable or the least size of the building, was provided by the applicant, That is something that the Planning Department does not get involved in. We don’t do economic feasibility studies for our clients. Also as far, and I guess I just want to offer that I guess there was a communication break down between us and I would hope that if you did not get the information that you were seeking that you would feel free to openly contact me at any time. I have made myself available to the Board. Also Mr. Harrington, as far as the uses that would be permitted in this site, the site is permissible for commercial, retail and office – all of the uses permitted in the Town Center District. It is not the place of the Planning Department to recommend, if that site is in fact permitted, what type of use we would prefer to see there; it is a permitted use and he is not seeking a variance for that use and in addition he can provide the appropriate parking so he is not seeking a variance in regard to the type of use. All of the variances were really related to the dimensional properties of the parcel. So in that regard we felt that the information that you were requesting was the information that Mr. Arroyo provided you to confirm that in fact the 4200 square foot or 3900 square foot building was the maximum that could be placed on the site within all of our current ordinance requirements and in doing so we felt that we had met all of your requirements. I do regret that there was a miscommunication in that regard. It certainly wasn’t our intent to ignore any request.


Member Harrington: No, and the point of this discussion is that I am not pointing the finger at Planning and I couldn’t agree with Heidi more. I don’t think that it is Planning’s position to give us that information. I think that for example if we were to call Brandon Rogers on the phone or some other consultant who has appeared in front of us who is an independent expert in the field, that would be the information that we could look to that would help us. I don’t think that it is your job to do that. Your job is to work with the petitioner and lord knows that Mr. Arroyo made as compelling an argument on behalf of the petitioner as I have ever heard here in 10 years and I think that he was probably a little more enthusiastic than he had to be because we do know what the legal tests are, but I was looking for factual information and what the alternatives are and to this extent you guys are charged with the health, welfare and safety of the City and so are we but we have to look as to whether a variance is needed in the first place and second what is the minimum variance that is needed in order to allow the project to go forward if it can’t otherwise do it. I don’t think that we have an existing facility within the City right now to give us that help and I think that we are entitled to it if we are going to do our job. That is my thought.


Chairman Brennan: Is that question one of the City Attorney or the Council? Does Council have a budget set aside for us?


Member Harrington: We are a statutory Board setup by the State of Michigan appointed by Council and subject to their approval or appointment process but we are an agency set up by Michigan statute and I think it may well be as simple as a budgeting issue. Are we within the Building Department budget? Yes. Can the Building Department withstand a moderate assessment, if appropriate, to hire an outside consultant to give us information that we feel may be critical to our decision? I think that the answer to that is probably "yes" but I would feel more comfortable if someone told me that.


Terry Morrone: I would like to suggest that if a petitioner is requesting a variance and you need additional information, ask the petitioner to supply you with it. Let him be burdened with the cost.


Member Harrington: Well we do that 99% of the time, however, the information that we receive from petitioners is not always historically reliable. For example, we were told it was 2900 square feet initially and then it went up 3600 or 3700 when Planning got into it which was really important to me because they sort of didn’t tell us what the real square footage was and it was up to Planning to get to the bottom of that square footage which was really helpful. But there are things that Planning shouldn’t do and there are things that we should not necessarily rely on the petitioner to do because their job is to win their case.


Terry Morrone: I understand that there are agencies out there that do work on cases like this and they do run figures, maybe we can come up with a list of at least 3 and let the petitioner go to those individual agencies. But, you know that if you don’t get the information that you need you always have the option to turn it down, too.


Chairman Brennan: Yes, but you have to be careful.


Terry Morrone: I understand.


Chairman Brennan: We were and I saw us to be in between a hard spot and rock on this case. I was very uncomfortable about it. What Heidi has said is that the gentleman had the right because of how it is zoned to either put retail or office and he chose retail. My gut feeling was that retail on that corner was going to present problems but there wasn’t any way to deny it. The usage is the key.


Member Harrington: There absolutely was, we could have found that he didn’t need the variance in the first place. If you take a look at the proposed tenants that he had and the argument is that we don’t do office because you have people coming in at 9 and leaving at 5, but if you take a look at a record shop and the various other high traffic retail tenants that he proposed that is going to have, in my lay persons opinion as I am not a planner, you are going to need 10 time the traffic with high volume sales and people coming in and out and buying from you because it is not an internet store but a real store versus having office there. We could have flat out denied them.


Chairman Brennan: Except his expert testimony said just the opposite.


Member Harrington: That is correct and there was nothing else to support my own gut view which is that this development on that parcel at Novi and Grand River is going to create an increased problem for the City as a whole; that was my gut feeling about that project and I think that some of the Board Members may have shared that opinion. But without someone else coming in and saying "yes Board, 6800 square feet is to much even though they cut 200 off of it" but they can really get by with 4750 or 2000 or they can have 2 stories or they could do it differently. We had no different options to look at. I think that the Board was entitled in this case because of it’s importance and the uniqueness and this is the first one, Heidi, I think that in 10 years that I really felt it was important about. With the Vistas we gave them all 26 variances and that wasn’t hard. This is a key cornerstone project in the City and I think that the Board is entitled to ask for that information and to get it. Yes, the petitioner has the burden; but if our concern still exists and there is independent information that we need we ought to be able to go outside and get it.


Member Fannon: But we will never know on this case whether that should have been a 2 story building. Go up there tomorrow and see what a one story building is going to be like. It doesn’t fit in the area; but what were we going to do. I thought that we had enough information and maybe not enough but as much as we were going to get; but he could have doubled the building; 39 times 2 is 7800 square feet if he would have built the second floor. They chose not to and we were stuck. With a one story building up there I just don’t know.


Chairman Brennan: But at the same time we got that case down to 3 relatively small variances with the case that was in front of us.


Member Meyer: I can’t speak on that case because I did separate myself from it, but I do want to say on a general perspective I think that if indeed you have a Member of this Board or any Board asking for certain information there should be a flow chart of some sort so that we know that at least something is being done to respond. It may be simply saying that the burden is on the persons making the presentation, even though your point is well taken that they want to win the case so the information that they may give us might be skewed. The catch though, to me, is that it is terribly frustrating to try to make what I would call an intelligent decision based upon limited information. I will make a comment and there are certain gateways to the City, there are certain spots in this City that I personally felt could have been a little more attractive or a little bit more appealing and I am certainly hoping that this the corner of the sixth stop on the stage coach is going to be looking really good when it is done. In other words this is the "center".


Chairman Brennan: Have we come to any resolution to Mr. Harrington’s comment. We have the option through the Building Department of asking for a third party assistance when we need it. Was that your answer, Terry?


Terry Morrone: No, not necessarily. I think that your suggestion to write a letter to Mr. Watson and asking how he feels about this and if we can do it probably might be the best thing. I just don’t know if we can go outside at this point in time.


Chairman Brennan: Nancy, can we send Mr. Watson this section of our discussion. Just the minutes from this so that he gets the flavor for what went on rather than just a quick letter?


Member Harrington: I think he would get a better flavor if we sent him a copy of the minutes from the last 2 Meetings where I think that the concerns of the Board developed and evolved and where we specifically asked for some things and he can appreciate where we were shooting in the dark. Terry, I think that you are right; I don’t think that we can spend money unless it has been appropriated or it is some budget somewhere – we can’t just go hiring someone but there should be a mechanism for us to do it. Council and the various commissions of this City hire experts all of the time.


Heidi Hannan: I think that it is an ongoing concern. We certainly want to make sure that we are providing you with all of the information that you request and I do think that since I sat in on the Board that I can tell that sometimes perhaps the applicant or the individual participating in the hearing may leave with the feeling that they are not exactly sure who is going to do what when we come back and we have these continuances. So I think that it does behoove the Board to find out a better way to address that so that you can use your time to deal with all of the variances that you need to and avoid the continuances.


Member Reinke: If I may suggest, I think that Mr. Harrington is on the right road. If he would be willing to I would suggest that he might highlight section of the minutes of the last 2 meetings and incorporate along with that the minutes of this meeting highlighted and ask for Mr. Watson’s response to this as to our concerns. Let’s take a look at that and revisit it later.


Member Meyer: I agree, at least there will be some dialogue going on. This seems like a variety of monologues. To get to a point where you actually have a learning process going on there has to be a follow up. This is incredible that at 3 Meetings in a row that he is hoping for some kind of input and everybody says "we have done it" but it is not our responsibility so to speak. It would be important, I think, for Mr. Watson to give us a response in a timely manner.


Member Harrington: In fairness I think that he did a nice job on the interpretation letter that he wrote, which was not read into the record but for our loyal viewers who are at a break in the hockey game, Dennis did a real nice job and it was helpful.


Member Sanghvi: I was wondering if we could generate some type of ID for us, so that when we go visiting the sites and walk in the yards they know who we are?


Member Fannon: You mean identification?


Member Sanghvi: For ourselves, yes. When we go to check out the spots.


Terry Morrone: I think that is a good point. Maybe we can get something.


Nancy McKernan: Just a reminder that the next meeting will be on November 9th.


Member Harrington: And when are the elections?


Nancy McKernan: The election is on November 2nd.


Terry Morrone: For the identification, I will need the correct spelling of all names, height, weight and that type of thing, picture; similar to what you may get on a license. Maybe we can get something set up.


Nancy McKernan: Can’t they go to the police station like we did?


Terry Morrone: We can check that out, maybe set up some appointments.




The Meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.












Date Approved _ _

Nancy C. McKernan

Recording Secretary