View Agenda for this meeting



Tuesday, December 5, 2000

The Meeting was called to order at 7:31 p.m., with Chairman Harrington presiding.


PRESENT: Members Bauer, Brennan, Fannon, Harrington, Kocan, Reinke and Sanghvi

Absent: None

ALSO PRESENT: Don Saven – Building Official

Tom Schultz – City Attorney

Sarah Marchioni – Community Planning Assistant

The Zoning Board of Appeals is a hearing board empowered by the City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of the Novi Zoning Ordinance. It takes a vote of at least four members to approve a variance request and a vote of the majority of the members present to deny a variance. A full Board consists of six members. Since there are six members it is a full Board and any decisions made will be final.


Chairman Harrington indicated that there are fourteen (14) cases on the agenda. Are there any changes to the agenda? Hearing none, all in favor to approve the agenda, please say aye. All ayes.


Chairman Harrington indicated that there were no minutes for approval.


Jim Korte, Shawood Lake: Happy New Year. The new year will be wonderful, because we will have a different look of Council and a different look of planning. It has become a trend with planning to dump things, and this is my opinion, on you that they do not want to deal with. New construction should follow city ordinances. You generally are here for older structures redo, undos, overdo’s, that create problems with existing to create better. New construction should follow our ordinances. There are three (3) on here this evening that I think should have been weeded out before they got to you. Hopefully, in the new year, you will not be given these things that really I do not think are your business. Now this is not to presume that you are not capable of handling them, but you have enough to do. I think city ordinance should be met in new. Thank you.

  1. Case No. 00-076 filed by Christina Kadwell, representing CVS Pharmacy
  2. Christina Kadwell, representing CVS Pharmacy is requesting a variance to erect a second wall sign located at 42191 Fourteen Mile Road. *Please see previous Case No. 99-079.

    Mr. Quinn: I am here tonight on behalf of CVS Pharmacy. You will recall the matter was here a month ago. Due to some confusion on the application and the way the law might apply to it, we ask that we take this month and look at the ordinance and see how it might apply. We are back tonight asking for the variance for the second sign on the Fourteen Mile Road portion of the pharmacy. (Places a picture on the overhead.) You will recall that this is the site at Novi Road and Fourteen Mile. Novi Road on the west side and Fourteen Mile on the north side. The CVS Pharmacy is the corner building. They are actually the corner lot owner. They own from their property to Fourteen Mile Road to the north and to Novi Road to the west. Although tonight, we do not want to get into an interpretation of the ordinance, I think we can survive the variance on the merits.

    Chairman Harrington: Didn’t we deal with the need for the variance before and turn it down?

    Mr. Quinn: That was before the store was open. When they came during the initial construction in 1999, they asked for a variance for a second sign. At that time the board said "You are not open and do not have any facts or figures to show that you need the sign, so you are welcome to come back at a later date."

    Chairman Harrington: Do you have new information for us this evening?

    Mr. Quinn: Yes.

    Chairman Harrington: Have you seen the city attorney correspondence on this issue?

    Mr. Quinn: No, not directly.

    Chairman Harrington: You may want to review it, because one of our first questions will be "Do you agree or disagree?"

    Mr. Quinn: (Mr. Quinn reviews the correspondence) As I said, we are continuing on the need for the second sign.

    Chairman Harrington: With the new information?

    Mr. Quinn: Yes. As you know on the current sign, the Novi Road sign as approved is identical to the proposed sign for the Fourteen Mile side of the center. The wording is the same. I know those of you that have been out to the site, especially now that it is darker earlier, as you come down Fourteen Mile Road, it is impossible to know that a CVS store is on the corner. Why? Because you can not see it at all. There is absolutely no signage there. If you have senior citizens that are going for prescription purposes, if they have not been there and are coming in from across the boundary of Walled Lake or from east Farmington Hills, or even someone going there for the first time, there is no way to identify that that store is there when traveling Fourteen Mile Road. In August of this year, twelve thousand four hundred and thirty-three (12,433) people were in the store with one (1) sign. A similar CVS store with a location on the corner, with the same number of roof tops in the area, will service over three thousand (3,000) more people. Fifteen thousand four hundred and sixty-four (15,464). The only difference that CVS proposes is three thousand (3,000) people because of the visibility of the store on both of the major roadways that are in that area.

    Chairman Harrington: What store is the background for that information?

    Christina Kadwell: It is an average CVS store. The population count that Novi has with the traffic counts on both of the streets. The average store in the month of August pulled in fifteen thousand four hundred and sixty-four (15,464) customers. When we came here the last time for this variance, that is specifically what you asked us for, to tell you that people could not get to your store, and you would consider what we were asking.

    Chairman Harrington: Has any person in the last year that you have been open complained that they could not find your store?

    Christina Kadwell: In fact there have been several of the store managers that have gone to CVS and said that people are saying "We have not been able to find you, we drove up and down the road three (3) times before we found you."

    Mr. Quinn: Therefore, there is a hardship, there is a need for this sign. It serves a specific purpose. It does not hinder or impair the intent of the ordinance. In fact, if you could picture the Fourteen Mile side of that shopping center. Every store to the east of CVS has there own signage on it. Then you get to CVS store and there is a large blank wall. All of the rest of the stores on Fourteen Mile are visible and can be readily seen, except the CVS store.

    Chairman Harrington: Yes, but those other stores only have one (1) sign. You are asking for a second sign. There is a big difference there.

    Mr. Quinn: No, they are not on the corner. This happens to be on the corner and there is busy traffic. Fourteen Mile Road because of its access to M-5, and the dumping point for M-5, is a traffic nightmare. Anything that you could do to keep people away from the intersection and get them into the mall and off of Fourteen Mile Road serves a traffic safety purpose also. All of these things put together are different than in 1999, and go to the purpose of showing the need for the second sign in that area. Regarding the other issue, the quandary that they are in by being an independent corner parcel, which says that they may be allowed the two (2) signs, but then the shopping center would have to come in and spend money to move the monument sign that identifies the center. So, I do not see the sense in that. This variance is very simple and solves problems that we would not have to deal with in the future also.

    Chairman Harrington: The sign that you have up there says CVS Pharmacy?

    Mr. Quinn: Correct.

    Chairman Harrington: Is that the actual corporate name? It is CVS Pharmacy and that is what it is nationally?

    Christina Kadwell: That is nationally and the corporate name.

    Chairman Harrington: When I look at your advertisements in the paper tomorrow, all of the CVS information will say CVS Pharmacy?

    Christina Kadwell: Yes.

    Mr. Quinn: We are here to answer any other questions that you have this evening. We believe that with the information that you have been provided that a favorable ruling will be in order.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were seven hundred eighty-one (781) notices sent to neighbors and there were twelve (12) approvals and twenty-seven (27) disapprovals.


    Sarah Gray, 133 Maudlin: The last time that I was here speaking on one (1) of these locations was the mortgage company and I urged you to go with the smaller sign because it was facing east. What you need to know about this area is that there are basically no street lights at all the whole length of Novi Road to Thirteen to Fourteen Mile. There are not street lights from Decker/Novi east or west. The only lighting in this area at night is the parking lot. I use that area quite a bit going to the shopping center market up at Fourteen and Haggerty Road and the movies. Unless you know that there is a CVS on the corner, you would not find it if you are coming from Fourteen Mile. I would like to suggest that this board approve the request, but I would like to suggest that you make it smaller than what they are requesting. I can absolutely see the need for the sign on the north façade, but I do not think it needs to be quite as big.

    James Korte, Shawood Lake: This corner property belongs to the PUD (Planned Urban Development). We fought the Planned Urban Development and lost. Those buildings were put in conjunction of making the whole three to four hundred acres work as a commodity. If you have a business, you have to give them a sign. If it were the only sign on that side of the building, I would have a problem. There are other signs on that side of the building, the Fourteen Mile Road sign. If it is put in line and in essence with the rest of what is happening on that side of the building, there is no reason visually for it not to go in. Understanding that we did not want any of it there. But now that it is there, maybe somebody will see it on that side of the building, rent the other spaces that they can not get rented, that we knew couldn’t get rented, and then when Ted Andris comes at East Lake and Fourteen you can give him the variances he needs. Thank you.


    Member Brennan: If I am not mistaken, I am the one that suggested that they did not have data to justify a second sign the last time that they were here. I still do not think that it is justified. That area is not built out. There are two (2) new subdivisions that are under construction. I do believe that you have signage on the corner, do you not?

    Mr. Quinn: Just the one (1) that identifies the center.

    Member Brennan: But not CVS?

    Mr. Quinn: No, not CVS.

    Member Reinke: I travel that area quite frequently. Where the entrance way is into that, by the time you see the CVS and would like to go there, while traveling west, you would need to make a left turn, make another left and come back around. I think it would be more conducive to moving traffic and creating less havoc to have some type of sign on that side of the building. I think it could be smaller, but I think they do need some identification.

    Member Fannon: I would agree. I would have said the same thing as Member Reinke after visiting the site. It is too dark and it is hard to find. I think that it is a traffic problem taking people onto Novi Road or past Novi Road onto Fourteen Mile Road and having them turn around.

    Chairman Harrington: Mr. Quinn, proportionately and scale-wise, it looks like the present sign is just a shade below forty (40) square feet, 2’2" by 18’1½". Is there a scaling progression if it were to be reduced proportionately that it would come out at thirty-two square feet? How much less than forty square feet could we do that would not defeat the purpose of the identification? I think we have heard the feelings of the members of the audience and a couple of board members. What could we do?

    Christina Kadwell: First, I would like to say that the reason that we are proposing that size sign on the second side is to be aesthetically correct toward the same side. The best thing that CVS has offered is 1’6" letters, the smallest that they have ever gone. Otherwise, it is not readable. I believe it comes out to 30.05 square feet. I am sure that CVS would be willing to lose the aesthetics in order to have that second wall sign.




    Moved by Reinke,

    Seconded by Bauer,


    Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Motion Carried

  3. Case No. 00-087 filed by Charles Wilson representing Trans-X Industrial Building

Charles Wilson, representing Monte Costella and Company is requesting four (4) variances for the construction of the Trans X Industrial Building, parcel "Y". Variances requested are for building setback, truck well location, parking lot setback and dumpster location.


NOVI CODE OF ORDINANCES, ARTICLE 24, SECTION 2400, "SCHEDULE OF REGULATIONS" requires a building setback adjacent to residential property to have a minimum of five (5) feet of building setback for each foot of building height. Proposed height of building is 24 feet, 8 inches, requiring a 124 foot setback.

Required rear yard setback: 124 feet

Proposed: 50 feet

Variance: 74 feet

NOVI CODE OF ORDINANCES, SECTION 1905, "Required Conditions" requires that a truck well be recessed not less than sixty (60) feet from the front wall of the building. Two truck wells are being proposed.

Required recessed setback: 60 feet

Proposed: 42 feet

Variance: 18 feet

NOVI CODE OF ORDINANCES, ARTICLE 24, SECTION 2400, "SCHEDULE OF REGULATIONS," paragraph (h) requires that the minimum parking area does not extend into the minimum required front yard setback of the district.

Required parking setback (I-1 District): 40 feet

Proposed: 20 feet

Variance: 20 feet

Required parking setback (I-2 District): 50 feet

Proposed: 20 feet

Variance: 30 feet

NOVI CODE OF ORDINANCES, SECTION 2503, paragraph 1b, "Accessory Uses" requires that accessory structures not be constructed in any front or required exterior side yard.

  • Proposed dumpster is located at the front of the building.

Charles Wilson: I am representing Monte Costella and Company for the Trans-X Industrial building. At the last meeting, we were requested to meet with the residents. We did have at least two (2) meetings with residents. We are trying to take into consideration their concerns with the location of the building and the surrounding area.

Chairman Harrington: How did the meetings go?

Charles Wilson: Pretty good. We talked about their concerns. One issue was whether or not they could see the building from the back of the property. One thing that we had talked about was that we have to plant so many trees on the lot anyway. We would plant a type of arborvitae along the property line to help conceal part of the building. We contacted Linda Lemke and she indicated that she would not have a problem relocating or putting in different types of shrubbery or trees along the property.

Chairman Harrington: Have the meetings resulted in your modifications or changed any of the variance requests that we were presented with last meeting?

Charles Wilson: No, they did not. What we agreed on was putting in trees with the four variances remaining. Originally the building was supposed to be a white colored split-faced block. We agreed on changing that to an earth-tone color material so that it is less prominent.

Bill Detazi: I work for Mr. Costella. We were only talking about the east wall. We offered one of the owners the option of what color they would like to see. We showed them some samples, so that they could chose a color. They thought the darker color would reduce the height of the building and the appearance. We offered to plant trees irregularly along their back property line, but on our property. We offered them arborvitae and another tree that grows a foot a year vertically and horizontally. I offered to meet with anybody at any time and I spoke with Mr. Faren, I believe his name is, three (3) times. I spoke to three (3) of the people who live there that came to the meeting. Mr. Costella and Mr. Wilson spoke to another lady. We have trees behind our building, behind being the southerly side fronting Rouge River. I believe it is about thirteen hundred (1300) feet to the closest neighbor actually behind the building. I believe there is a gentleman here tonight, Dave, that lives at the bend of the railroad track. He was concerned that we had trees or shrubs to hide part of the back and the east side. I showed him a landscape plan which definitely shows there are trees there. I also spoke to Linda Lemke today and told her what we were talking about regarding the trees and shrubs. She stated it was fine and she would work with us when we were ready to come before the Planning Commission for Final. Between that time and now, she would help us make sure that we had everything there. We have promised the neighbors that we would put shrubs there and/or trees. We want it known to you that this is our word, and this is what we are going to do.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-eight (28) notices sent to neighbors and there was one (1) approval and no disapprovals. In addition, a letter was received from Tom Harmon, who references that he and his wife were present when this was initially presented. Apparently the Harmon’s have resolved their issues with the project and have no objections to the variances based on the assurances, which followed from your meeting with them. Connie Lake Noble, identified a large tree registered with the Michigan Historical Society stating it should never be cut down. Objections from Melissa Place, Bruce McLeod, Herbert and Ruth Cocan, Ron and Ellen Witkowski.

Chairman Harrington: Do you know if that tree is going to be removed?

Charles Wilson: We have located the building so that those trees would not be dealt with.


James Korte, Shawood Lake: In the past I have talked of Novi and the land. We have a perfect piece of land or the perfect building. Hopefully they could work together. Obviously this does not. If it is the perfect building, it does not fit the piece of land. If it is a wonderful piece of land, the building should not be there. Everything is too much with the exception of greenery and air space. Turn them down and send them back to planning. Thank you.

Kathleen Harmon, resides behind Trans-X: I generally agree with my husband. I would love nothing to go in there. I would like to publicly thank Mr. Detazi for bringing us together. It did do a lot. There were three (3) meetings that I know of and our main concern was that the building was too big and that was why they needed the variances. We did not want to see a big building, however, something is going to go in there. There was an indication that perhaps that was about the only thing that could go in there. They have been extremely willing to work with us and address our needs. One thing that we would like to see would be the possibility of getting some of the screening in place before the building. I do not have any specific objections. They did mention the one (1) truck well to the east may not need to be there depending on the tenants. We hope that they can continue to explore that possibility of eliminating that truck well. I do not object to the dumpster, that is as far away from us as it can go. The fifty (50) foot setback from the residential to the south. That is residential, there are not any homes there. The only reason to object to that was when it would push the whole building. That would not effect us. We would like to work with them and they are willing to work with us. I do not object to those particular variances. We thank them very much for everything that they have done. Thank you for tabling this over. It was very productive.

Dave Karin, abutting property owner: I would just as soon not have anything there. On the other hand I have met with these gentlemen and they have assured me that they will put in tall evergreens to provide coverage so that I will not have to look at this building. They have assured me that there will be one (1) small light for a little door. I have had a lot of good dealings with these gentlemen and I have no objections to any of the variances.

Renee Housley, 42471 Parkridge: I would like to see nothing there. I think the building is extremely large for the size lot that is there. I think that a smaller building needs to be redesigned for the lot size.

Phil Koneda, 23535 High Meadow: I am a member of the Planning Commission but I am not here representing the Commission. I am here representing myself tonight. Many times the Planning Commission receives site plans that we spend a lot of time reviewing. A lot of times we will grant site plan approval conditional upon the ZBA granting some variances. Many times the reasons behind the variances may not come to you in the form we would like to do it. Maybe that is something that the Planning Commission needs to work on. In this case we have heard that some people think the building is too big for the site. Perhaps it is, but if you met the ordinances, you could actually push the building further back on the site and make it closer to the residents. The bottom line is all of the variances that are being requested are intended to do two (2) things. One is to preserve the wetlands and the woodlands that are on site and the vegetation as much as possible by pushing the building as far forward as you could. This requires some of the setback variances. It is a good deal for the residents. We think that the developer has done a good job at trying to meet the residents requirements. It is a good deal. I do not think we could do any better than this. It is a light usage for the site. I would hope that you would grant the variances requested.

Ben Tiseo: I am the architect on the project. I wanted to make a couple of comments in reference to some of the variances. The last time that I was here, Mr. Chairman, you asked me to take a look at the building size. I was in the process when Mr. Costella asked me to hold the work, because it appeared that they worked everything out with the residents. I did not complete my review of that. However, I would like to share what I did find out. If we stay off of the wetland and inside the setback you required us, we would end up reducing the building and removing the parking in front of the front yard setback. We would then be left with fifteen (15) parking spaces. We currently have forty-three (43). That would give us a building size of approximately ten thousand (10,000) square feet size of property. The proportions do not work. That would be providing I could find a home for the dumpster. There is nowhere on the site as proposed for the dumpster. On the east side, all of that is area that is easements for the utilities. There is nowhere to put that dumpster. One of the variances that we are asking for is the truck well. Frankly, we could alleviate that by doing one (1) small fix. That would be to increase the size of the building so that the building extends to the truck well. We would be making a larger building and then would not need the variance for the truck well. Which in my opinion would not make sense, the truck well would be the same size. We would be increasing the size of the building which the neighbors are objecting to. That is one of the reasons we are here asking for the variance. I am here to answer any other questions that you might have.


Don Saven: If it is the boards desire to approve the variances, there were some issues that were brought before us regarding placing the trees prior to construction. I would not like to see that as part of the variance because it is very difficult to control.

Chairman Harrington: Do the neighbors have some sense as to the size of the trees and the plantings that are going to go in? There is a difference between growing one (1) foot a year and planting in a six foot (6’) evergreen.

Ben Tiseo: We are speaking of putting in twelve (12) and fourteen (14) foot tall trees, behind two of the tenants. There are three (3) houses that are impacted. The Harmon house is impacted the most because although there are a few trees there, you can see right through. We have to put something else in there to hide that. The other two (2) have trees behind their house and have asked us to fill in between those with evergreens, which is the arborvitae. Speaking to Linda Lemke, she stated as long as it is not too wet, it would not be a problem. The one lady was talking about the size of the building. If you take the fact that we have one hundred sixty-six thousand (166,000) square feet and we are using twenty-nine thousand (29,000), that is eighteen percent (18%) of the property. As the man from the Planning Commission told you, with the size and direction of the building location is dictated by the wetland and water retention basin.

Member Brennan: Mr. Chairman, when I first looked at this prior to last months meeting, I thought the placement of the building was the proper location. It protected woodland and wetland and furthest away from the residential property line. The relief was needed up against other commercial industrial property. It seemed to make sense. I did not have the same figures the gentleman just quoted, but eighteen percent (18%) to twenty percent (20%) is pretty typical I would think and maybe under. I do not know that this building is oversized. That is not before us tonight. I am inclined, now that we have the residential issues resolved, to grant the petitioner’s request.

Member Kocan: I was very much involved in rewriting the ordinances for Light Industrial District (I-1) abutting residential properties. I do live in Meadowbrook Lake subdivision with Hickory Corporate Park next to us. I am very sensitive to industrial abutting residential. I have some real problems with this development and I would like to put those on record. The purpose of the special land use is to keep any adverse impacts away from the residents. I believe the petitioner is in fact trying to do that with the variance request three (3) and four (4). Number three (3) moving the parking around to a different part of the building. It abuts another parking lot. I have no problem with that as it is the intent of the ordinance to get it away from the residents. The fourth variance is to move the dumpster away from the residential site and put it at the front of the building. Again, this follows the intent of the ordinance. However, the request for variance one and two, I am not at all inclined or feel that we should be doing this next to residential property. I believe that the developer owned the property directly north of it. They developed the property directly north of it. In my view, this is a self created hardship. They should have considered the size of the property and how traffic would enter and exit when they developed the property to the north. I am saying this because they owned both pieces of property. With regard to the second variance request and the truck well, I would not like to see this board grant a variance on that. The purpose is to keep the noise down. I know that a noise analysis and a sound analysis came in to the Planning Commission. It is my understanding that this is a spec building. We have no idea what is going into that building. There are uses that are in the zoning ordinance that they are warehouse facilities etc… We have absolutely no idea the size of the trucks, the types of trucks, the amount of traffic that would be coming in. If you allow a truck well to go in there, it will be used. I would not like to see a truck well. If you have to have a truck well, it should comply with the ordinance. I believe I read in the Planning Commission minutes that at one time they proposed to put some type of wall blocking this truck well, because it is sticking out so far, but that was removed. I have some real problems with that. There is not a ten (10) foot berm between the residents and this development. I know that some residents do not like, or think they do not want to see a ten (10) foot berm. Please come out to Meadowbrook Lake. The people that are there are very happy with a ten (10) foot berm. I have heard Planning Commissioners say that a berm does not mitigate noise. In my three (3) years of trying to get the noise ordinance revised, the DNR stated that you have to have an earth’s berm in order to mitigate the noise. There is not berm here. There are a few trees there. I know that Linda Lemke stated that there will be more trees put in. From the DNR statement, you need a minimum depth of trees of one hundred and fifty (150) feet to do any kind of mitigation. I personally think that this is overbuilt. When you have a Special Land Use, I would like to see no variance requests.

Member Reinke: I think they have overcome the biggest obstacle of addressing the residents concerns and working out a solution. If it was just a regular piece of land without the wetland and woodland on it, it would be a lot easier to work with. I think we have a lot of extenuating circumstances. Everybody has tried to work around it. How much more could be changed?

Chairman Harrington: This is one of the toughest cases that we have had this year because there is not perfect solution. It is a question of minimizing damage and minimizing the impact on people that are affected. Business owner verses homeowner. I am satisfied that both the affected homeowners and the business applicant met in good faith and worked out as good of an accommodation under the circumstances. I suppose we could turn them down and maybe five (5) years from now finding something that is more acceptable. I think there has been hard work here by the affected persons. I am going to support the motion.

Member Fannon: I would agree. The reason I would vote yes for this motion is because I think we found a good developer taking care of the residents concerns. I think bringing them together has worked. As long as the residents are satisfied I think we should move forward and approve it.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,


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

  1. Case No. 00-086 filed by Carmine Martune representing A & W’s / Long John
  2. Silver’s

    Carmine Martune, representing A & W / Long John Silver’s is requesting a sign variance of forty three (43) square feet. A & W / Long John Silver’s will be located at West Market Square on Grand River and Beck Road.

    Larry Dershow was present and duly sworn in.

    Larry Dershow: First of all, I would like to point out what we think is an error in the square footage. We believe that we are only asking for a variance of thirty (30) square feet, not forty-three (43) square feet. If there are any questions on that, Pete will be glad to address that.

    Chairman Harrington: Have you spoken to the city about that calculation and they agree with your math?

    Larry Dershow: Well, we just noticed that on the agenda. We did not have any agenda previous to this.

    Chairman Harrington: Why do you need the variance?

    Larry Dershow: Very quickly, everybody knows A & W and about a year ago, we purchased Long John Silver’s. Long John Silver’s is going to be reintroduced to this area. As you know, the newest generation of fast food is co-branding. That is where you put two (2) companies together, two (2) concepts together, in the same type of restaurant, in the same venue. We believe that the ordinance, as they were written, did not recognize this new concept in fast food. If you look at the sign that we have proposed. We have a unique situation that we have two (2) companies with very long names. We are not like Subway with a very short name that could have big letters. We have our registered trademark name of A & W Restaurants All American Food and Long John Silver’s.

    Chairman Harrington: What is the corporate name?

    Larry Dershow: The corporate name is A & W All American Food. That is our registered signage. Long John Silver’s is also the registered signage. Our sign is just A & W logo, All American Food and Long John Silver’s.

    Chairman Harrington: The two meaning A & W and Long John Silver’s merged with All American Food?

    Larry Dershow: No, A & W purchased Long John Silver’s.

    Chairman Harrington: It sounds like a descriptive, All American Food, like good food here.

    Larry Dershow: The reason that we have the All American Food is because if there was just a logo up, most people of certain generations do not realize that A & W are serving food. They look at it as root beer. That is why we added All American Food, probably about ten (10) years ago. Our marketing has done many surveys. I have built stores all over the United States for A & W. When we have just an A & W logo, people do not recognize that we have food and think that we just sell root beer. This is a new concept for us with the co-branding. It is a new area for us to go into. We are going to do this store for the first time in the co-branding in Novi. We have three (3) other locations…

    Chairman Harrington: It is like tri-branding.

    Larry Dershow: No, because A & W All American Food is one (1) concept. It is showing that we have not only root beer, but we also serve food. A & W has not been in a building mode throughout the last twenty (20) years. About three (3) years ago, the building was purchased by a company called Yorkshire Global and we have been in a very high building mode doing a lot of research, a lot of malls. In fact we have an A & W inside the Twelve Oaks Mall where we have A & W All American Food.

    Chairman Harrington: Does it have Long John Silver’s there?

    Larry Dershow: That is not a co-branded store. This is going to be our first co-branded store and our first location to try it out.

    Chairman Harrington: Anywhere?

    Larry Dershow: Anywhere, where we are taking an A & W / Long John Silver’s and putting it together. We are doing this because we are a local company from Farmington Hills. We are trying to put this in an area that we can test market it, we could do market studies on it. It is very critical to us to have the proper size signage so that our people could see it. You know the area that we are going in over there, and if you look at the signs in the center, we are kind of almost in the middle of the center. We are next to the Kroger store. It is important to us because of the investment that we have in here. Partly because of the knowledge that we know that reintroducing this particular concept and A & W to an area that we think is very important.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were three (3) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


    There was no audience participation.


    Don Saven: There was an issue brought up about the sign size earlier. Basically you are dealing with a highest of highs and the lowest of lows and east to west. It is not taking the sign as the smallest portion and increasing it, out to out.

    Larry Dershow: That is what we did, boxed it out. Taking the logo as the biggest part.

    Don Saven: You say that there is a difference from what was requested?

    Larry Dershow: Right. You came up with forty-three (43).

    Member Reinke: Don, what is he allowed there?

    Don Saven: I am looking at a twenty-nine foot eight (29’8). Just calculating these figures and just looking at it very quickly, you are looking at approximately at least sixty (60) square foot plus.

    Peter Spitz: We are allowed thirty-five (35). We would like to add thirty (30).

    Don Saven: No, you are allowed twenty-four (24) square feet.

    Peter Spitz: Our space is thirty-five (35) feet in length.

    Don Saven: Correct. You will have one (1) square foot of sign for every two (2) foot of linear frontage of the building.

    Peter Spitz: Is it two (2)? I thought it was one (1).

    Don Saven: It is two (2).

    Member Brennan: I still have a question about the name. On your blueprint, you list A & W Restaurants Inc., so, which is your name?

    Larry Dershow: A & W Restaurants Inc., is our corporate name.

    Member Brennan: I thought you just said that A & W All American Food was the corporate name?

    Larry Dershow: A & W All American Food is our registered trademark name for our signage. It is our registered trademark. The A & W logo and the All American Food are registered trademarks.

    Chairman Harrington: It sounds to me that in various location, you register and file a DBA, doing business as, to protect yourself, and you do the same with the trademark such as Mc Donalds. I am not convinced that simply because you trademark a name, that necessarily gives you the right to spread out a generic advertisement for who you are and what you do in contrast with what your corporate idea is. That is what I am having a difficult time with. I have no problem with Long John Silver’s. I have no problem with A & W. I do have a problem with a descriptive, which is "All American Food", which doubles the size of the variance that you need. I have a real problem with that. In this situation, I do not think it is a question of making a deal on the size of the sign, because if we hold you to the ordinance, you are not going to be able to see that sign. If we cut off a portion of that, like "All American Food", you may not need a variance. What would you need to have the same size letters? How much square footage would it be if you did not have "All American Food" there, even though we know that you want it?

    Larry Dershow: It is really not a point of negotiation with us.

    Chairman Harrington: What is the answer to the question? What would the size of the sign be if we do not approve "All American Food"?

    Peter Spitz: The logo is approximately ten (10) square feet. It would be about 22.2 square feet. That is if you took "All American Food" off of it at its present size now of the one (1) that we are asking for. It would be forty-two (42).

    Chairman Harrington: You are still fifty percent (50%) larger than ordinance permits if we were to give you the present size of the letters but without the "All American Food" portion?

    Peter Spitz: Correct, if we were to go forward with just Long John Silver’s that size with the same size logo, it would still be over.

    Larry Dershow: A & W and Long John’s is actually owned by a holding company called Yorkshire development. There are many restaurant chains they have, that have different names for their corporate identity as you said, then they do for their trademark sign. In our case, our feelings are so strong that if we do just put an A & W logo up there, people are not going to know that we have food. We are not advertising that so to speak.

    Chairman Harrington: What do people think Long John Silver’s does?

    Larry Dershow: Long John Silver’s has always had people know as a fish restaurant. That they serve fish sandwiches and fish. In the past, A & W logo, if you see that on a grocery store, they sell just root beer. There are different day periods that cause people to come to your restaurant. People come to Long John’s for dinners and A & W for lunch times. There are different day parts. When you are looking at putting an investment into a center like at Beck Road and the expressway, you realize the investment that you have to put into that particular center. You need to have the public aware.

    Chairman Harrington: All of your advertising does not have to focus on the sign in the middle of the City of Novi. You can do that in your placemats, you can do it in your newspapers or television. We are talking about one (1) sign on one (1) building here and whether or not is should have a generic descriptive. The fact that you made a trademark out of it, is not a determinative to me. That is like Century 21, World’s Greatest Real Estate Company, that is their trademark. You do not get "World’s Greatest Real Estate Company" just because your trademark did.

    Member Brennan: Let’s try another approach. You have two (2) mock-ups out there. One (1) represents what is allowable, and the other represents what you would like. I am at Home Depot almost everyday and the sign that meets ordinance, you could not barely read when you are in Home Depot’s parking lot. It is obviously too small. Gentleman, is there anything in between what you have proposed with what ordinance allows?

    Larry Dershow: No. "All American Food" has to be with the logo.

    Member Brennan: I am speaking of square footage.

    Larry Dershow: To bring it down in between? Yes, we could make it smaller.

    Member Brennan: You are allowed twenty-four (24) square feet and what you have proposed is?

    Larry Dershow: We have proposed 65.3. Where would you like us to be? In the middle?

    Member Brennan: You have to work out some mechanical/electrical restriction on the size, etc… Can you project, roughly within a couple of percent, a sign somewhere in between?

    Peter Spitz: Any sign could be made. The problem with the twelve (12) inch sign is they can not make the illuminations small enough. We would have to go to a can sign at that point. I am not sure if the landlord would allow that.

    Larry Dershow: In that center, I do believe they are calling for individual letters. They would not allow us to have a can sign.

    Don Saven: Correct, that is a violation of the ordinance.

    Member Reinke: I thought we had individual letters of eight (8) inches in height. That they were not all foot in height.

    Don Saven: I think it is an issue of design and whether it physically can be done.

    Peter Spitz: The problem is bending the neon tubing. It can only go so far especially when creating letters like this. That is the reason it is hard to get anything smaller than this.

    Member Fannon: How many square foot would the sign be if "All American Food" was not on the sign? Even though you want it.

    Larry Dershow: While he is thinking about that I would like to address what the Chairman said regarding the "All American Food". We have a legal obligation to make all of our signage the same because we are a franchise company. This is a corporate store…

    Member Fannon: Your franchise does not override the City of Novi Ordinance.

    Larry Dershow: I am not saying that, but as a franchise corporation, we have to set the standard to our franchisees.

    Member Fannon: We understand what you are saying, but how many square feet if "All American Food" was not on it?

    Peter Spitz: The total with Long John Silver’s it should be approximately forty-two (42) nine (9).

    Member Fannon: That is with Long John Silver’s and A & W?

    Peter Spitz: Correct.

    Member Brennan: Could you make a forty-two square foot sign with everything you want in it?

    Peter Spitz: I do not know if I could do that and make the letters that small, but I could make the attempt.

    Member Brennan: Does it have to be forty-four or forty-six?

    Member Kocan: Mr. Chairman, do we know when the store is opening?

    Larry Dershow: It is predicated on what happens here to be very honest. We were originally going to put just an A & W in there. We actually negotiated to take more square footage from the landlord. Signage is such a critical issue with us. In fact we have opened three other stores that we have variances on just for A & W, just for the signage. We are waiting to see what we are approved for and how it would look on the store.

    Don Saven: You just indicated that you are going to be looking at expanding that particular site?


    Larry Dershow: We actually took more square footage which is included in this signage.

    Don Saven: But you have thirty-five square foot right now and you are planning on getting more?

    Larry Dershow: No, we were just going to put an A & W in there. We took additional square footage so that we could have more signage area and more space for our store.

    Chairman Harrington: When are you supposed to open?

    Larry Dershow: If things go favorably this evening, it would be somewhere about ninety days.

    Chairman Harrington: If things go unfavorably?

    Larry Dershow: Then I would not be able to predict when we would be able to open.

    Chairman Harrington: So we have at least a ninety day cushion here.

    Member Kocan: That is why I asked Mr. Chairman. Maybe instead of just trying to guess what size the sign would be, if the board was looking at more of a forty to forty-two square foot sign, personally I like a visual. This is the first small sign that I thought I saw in that particular development. We would want to have the rest of the signage in that development to be aesthetic once the first sign goes in. Personally I would like to see the sign that we are asking them to propose and ask that this be put over to January.

    Chairman Harrington: I think that is a reasonable suggestion.

    Member Brennan: I would like to give them the option of moving on, coming to the conclusion tonight if they could give us a sign that is somewhere in that range that I suggested. If you can not figure it out tonight, want another thirty days, that is an option. If you want to throw out an alternative, we could vote on that tonight.

    Peter Spitz: I would have to take it back and see what they could produce.

    Member Reinke: I think it would be beneficial to you and us both. If we try to come up with a quick number tonight, and it does not work for you, then we have accomplished nothing. I would think that you have a rough idea of what we are looking for. We are looking for something approximately forty-five feet. We might be able to move a little bit for your sign design. I think you need to realistically go back and look that up and figure out what you can do in that configuration. Then come back before us so that we could work together and finalize this.


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


    Larry Dershow: Did you want the sign we proposed to be put up, a mock-up?

    Chairman Harrington: Yes.

    Don Saven: I would like to suggest to the applicant that he may want to try to reduce the A & W logo down a little and also minimize the height of the Long John Silver’s. This may reduce the size of the sign considerably.

    Chairman Harrington: Do you understand why he made that comment? Because the total, the highest part is going to set the framework of your square footage.

  3. Case No. 00-089 filed by Paul Crow of 23619 East Le Bost
  4. Paul Crow, representing the homeowners of 23619 E. Lebost is requesting a rear yard setback variance of thirteen (13) feet for the construction of a 3 Season room addition.

    Paul Crow was present and duly sworn in.

    Paul Crow: As you can see we have an irregular shaped lot. I did a field measurement today to verify and the twenty-two feet is actually twenty-three and one half feet. I am only needing a variance for eleven and one half feet. There is no alternative to the back of the house. The back of the house is only thirty-six feet from the property line. Homeowners do have an existing patio with footings in place. I would just like to build on top of it to supply a patio room for what they have contracted us for.

    Unidentified neighbor: The house there already has not only the footing, it has a brick knee wall approximately four (4) foot high. They also have an awning that goes over this. As far as obstructing view, it would not be doing anything more. It would actually be doing less than what was already there.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were thirty-nine (39) notices sent to neighbors and there was one (1) approval and no disapprovals. Barbara Lewis, 23610 East LeBost has no objection.


    There was no audience participation.


    Don Saven: It is an unusually shaped lot. There is practical difficulty associated.

    Member Brennan: If we had a lot of residents here upset with this plan, I would think otherwise. However, it seems like a minimal incursion into the setback.

    Member Kocan: Mr. Saven, the setback between houses, is it ten feet on each side? Or is it ten on one side and fifteen on the other side?

    Don Saven: No, in this particular subdivision, it would be grandfathered and you would have ten feet on each side.

    Member Kocan: Looking at the shape of the house, and I have no problem with this request. The house could be facing LeBost or it could be facing Hollydale. If it was facing Hollydale, you could be ten (10) feet away from the lot line. He still would be farther than that. I have no problem.

    Moved by Brennan,

    Seconded by Reinke,


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

  5. Case No. 00-090 filed by Lori Lewis of 22470 Southwyck Court
  6. Ron & Lori Lewis, homeowners of 22470 Southwyck Court are requesting a 4’ 2" rear yard variance for the construction of a deck and enclosure.

    Ron Lewis was present and duly sworn in.

    Ron Lewis: I am the homeowner. We are requesting the variance because we have an odd shaped lot. Our property consists mostly of easements, storm and utilities. We are requesting to put in a screened in porch. The diagram shows approximately where that would go with respect to the existing house and deck. Immediately behind our house is a street. There are no houses there, just a berm and a street, Amberlund Court. The developer of that property put in pine trees here. Our neighbor immediately to the south has submitted a letter approving our request to put in a screen porch.

    Chairman Harrington: Our files contain the subdivision letter of approval. However, maintenance or repair requires removal of a portion of the addition that encroaches. You are responsible for that right?

    Ron Lewis: Yes.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-six (26) notices sent to neighbors and there were two (2) approvals and no disapprovals. Ross and Bessna Summers of 22450 Southwyck approve. Michael and Maria Simata of Autumn Park Blvd approve and hope the board will act favorably.


    There was no audience participation.




    Don Saven: The board should look at the plot plan to see that there are easements that are associated with this. The construction will not be placed in the easement.

    Chairman Harrington: If we were to grant the variance, how long is the permit good for?

    Don Saven: Six months.

    Member Brennan: This is a good example of a petitioner doing his homework, getting the right approvals and providing the right information and pictures. It is a minimal incursion into the backyard, a little over four feet. He has other problems with the back yard due to electrical and utilities. I have no objection with the petitioner’s request.

    Moved by Fannon,

    Seconded by Bauer,


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

  7. Case No. 00- 092 filed by Robert Corwin of 25387 Sullivan Lane
  8. Robert Corwin of 25387 Sullivan Lane is requesting an eighteen (18) foot rear yard setback variance for the construction of a deck and screened in porch enclosure.

    Robert Corwin was present and duly sworn in.

    Robert Corwin: I am Robert Corwin the homeowner. I am requesting an eighteen (18) foot backyard setback variance due to the construction of a screened in porch and patio. This construction will not upset the essential neighborhood standard and codes.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-six (26) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


    Terry Kazacktiv, 411 Sullivan: I live next door. I do not have any objection to the variance request.


    Don Saven: I would like to point out to the board that at the rear property line there is Cedar Spring Park West. It is to the rear of the property. There is an association approval on file.

    Member Bauer: I have no problem with the petitioner’s request.

    Member Fannon: I have no problem with the petitioner’s request and the association gave approval. It is up against the park and will not effect anyone.


    Moved by Bauer,

    Seconded by Reinke,


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

  9. Case No. 00-093 filed by Bruce Charette representing 21888 Siegal Drive
  10. Bruce Charette of Accent Remodeling #1 Inc., representing Denise Walsh of 21888 Siegal is requesting a seven (7) foot rear yard setback variance for the construction of an addition and a Three Season sunroom enclosure.

    Bill Cowdin and Denise Walsh were present and duly sworn in.

    Bill Cowdin: First I would like to say that we are requesting seven foot setback for the construction of the addition on the back of her home and also a three season porch. The hardship, she has two daughters, ages five and nine who need bedrooms of their own. Currently they share a bedroom. The purpose of this room is to create a space for the homeowner’s niece, to have her home office, which she works out of at least thirty hours a week, and give her daughters space. The size of the yard as you see from the drawings, does infringe on the ability to put an addition on. If we were to stay within the requirements of the city, we could only have a five foot addition built on the back of the house, which as you all know would be basically useless. We are asking for the seven foot rear yard setback variance. We are not infringing on any of the trees. We have a Maple tree in the back of the yard, which we are not encroaching on. We are to preserve that. We are keeping with the same aesthetics of the home with a two foot overhang. The gable on the back of the home to accent the look. I believe from a design point, instead of having a continuous eve edge along the back of the home, we are going to be creating two gables. This is going to be creating, for her rear yard neighbor and her adjacent lots, a little more of a pleasing view as opposed to the eve edge, the back of a home. As far as any other changes to the home, it would only be adding to the value not taking away from the neighborhood.

    Chairman Harrington: The setback you are requesting would still be twenty-eight feet from the rear property line?

    Bill Cowdin: That is correct. Her rear yard neighbor, I believe, does have fifty feet from the back of their yard to the back of their home. We are still going to be at seventy-eight feet, once our addition is completed to the back of the closest home. If you look at the pictures that I dropped off to Sarah, I am not sure if you had a chance to see them. A neighbor two doors down to the north have an addition, which is, I did not walk into their yard because I did not feel it was appropriate, but it looked like it was fifteen to sixteen feet from the back of their home. All of these homes are staggered along the street at the same rear yard setback that the original homes. There has been some precedence set into the design, I was taking that into account.

    Denise Walsh: I would just like to make one comment. I have interviewed three contractors. Two of which I did not go with, because it seemed like they wanted to make my house look like a trailer. I think the design that Accent has come up with is very pleasing. It sticks with the style of my home. I am looking forward to having this project completed.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were thirty-seven (37) notices sent to neighbors and there was one (1) approval and one (1) disapproval. Approval from Dan and Diane Kaslow on Singh Blvd have no problem with the seven foot setback and they hope that you enjoy your three seasons sunroom enclosure for years to come. An objection from Donna and Robert Paul on Heatherbrae who object to the plan because it encroaches on their privacy and does not maintain the appearance of the rear yards in their neighborhood. They are concerned about their property value and the surrounding homes appear to have greater space between the houses then they presently have.


    Robert Paul: Robert and Donna Paul, 21889 South Heatherbrae Way. We have talked about the possibility of adding onto our own house, which as it is stated is fifty (50) feet from the property line. If we do that, with this proposal, that brings us even closer to them. We would have the opportunity to add on a fifteen (15) foot addition onto the back of our house with no required variance or any approval necessary other than the required permits. One of the reasons that we bought the house was because of no fences, no underground utilities, feeling of open spaciousness and we feel with this proposal, it begins to encroach on that openness and spaciousness.

    Chairman Harrington: Where are you in direct relation to the applicant?

    Robert Paul: We are directly behind them.

    Bill Cowdin: May I interject? There is a picture of their home in that set of photos.

    Chairman Harrington: So what you are telling the board is you might want to put an addition on. That you have enough room on your lot that you would not need a variance?

    Robert Paul: Correct.

    Chairman Harrington: If you did put the addition onto your house at some point in the future and the board were to give them seven feet of relief and allow this addition, how would that negatively impact you?

    Donna Paul: The homes would be very close together. We have fifty feet currently, they are proposing to be twenty-eight feet away.

    Chairman Harrington: That is from the property line. What is your setback?

    Donna Paul: Fifty feet. We would like to maintain the space that is currently there. In our neighborhood, when there are two two-story houses that back up to each other, they are set farther apart than if there are two ranches. We have two ranches that are next to us. On one side they are about the same distance apart that we are from our neighbor. On the other side, we have two two-story homes and they are farther apart. Part of that is to let sun in because we face east and west on the houses. We have a 1 ½ story house, part of ours is second story, so I believe ours was set a little bit closer together with theirs. But what they are proposing to do is bring it within twenty-eight feet of their property line, which puts us very near to them. It is kind of like a park like feeling. The street curves and it is open. It is getting very congested if they put this proposed addition on.

    Chairman Harrington: This seven (7) feet would make that much of a difference to you?

    Donna Paul: Yes, it does.


    Member Bauer: Do they have approval from the Homeowners Association?

    Chairman Harrington: What does the Homeowners Association have to say about this?

    Bill Cowdin: I am fairly confident that the Homeowners Association is going to approve this.

    Chairman Harrington: It is not going to work. You are going to need written approval. Did anybody tell you that?

    Bill Cowdin: No, I was working with my project manager and architect and they said that based on the outcome of this meeting…

    Chairman Harrington: When you went to the city and applied for a permit, and you were turned down, did they tell you that you are going to need the approval from the subdivision?

    Bill Cowdin: Not to my knowledge, although that was not my undertaking, that was the architects.

    Robert Scott: My name is Robert Scott and I live next door to Ms. Walsh. I am not necessarily for or against the additions that she is proposing. I just came here because I have not been able to talk to her before this. I just wanted to find out what it was that she was proposing to build. I was wondering if they could put up a plan view of the proposed additions?

    Member Brennan: You live next door sir?

    Robert Scott: To the north.

    Chairman Harrington: While you are looking at the plan view, let me comment for you and our television audience, that all of the materials that we look at are on file with the city. If you ever have concerns about what is going to be presented, we generally will not consider written material if it is not part of the file submitted in advance. Occasionally we will look at photographs or renderings, but it is all there to save you a trip in front of the board, if you would like to go and look at it before the hearing.

    Member Brennan: We did some math here. If the one party in the back puts a fifteen foot addition on the back of their house, those two properties are separated by sixty-three feet.

    Denise Walsh: May I make another comment? We are not removing any trees or any of the privacy in my back yard at all to do this addition. You can not even see their house in the summer time because of the trees and the shrubbery that I have behind my house. So I do not understand where I am devaluing their property.

    Chairman Harrington: They have a concern, whether it is realistic or not.

    Denise Walsh: I understand that. But I am just letting you know that I am not removing any privacy from the yard.

    Member Fannon: It seems if you need the Homeowners Association approval, you should come back the next meeting with it. In the mean time, as you suggested at the last meeting, you can talk to both of your neighbors and find out their concerns. Maybe you could do some plantings like you heard earlier, or maybe not, to see if you could work something out. I am not here to tell you that these people that sixty-three (63) feet verses seventy (70) does not mean anything, because I do not live there. But maybe there is something that you could do over and above just asking for the variance to take care of some of their concerns. You have heard them, maybe you can’t.

    Bill Cowdin: On the issue of coming back next month, I know what date the meetings are and the time frame to go ahead and start the project. We have a timeline as far as Accent Remodeling as a contractor. It is difficult to get good contractors these days. We have an opening, which is scheduled for her job to start three (3) weeks down the road from today after the Christmas Holiday. Just to let you know as far as another hardship, the project would not be able to be started until probably mid February if we had to come back to the next meeting. If we could go ahead and approve it for pending the Homeowner’s Association approval.

    Member Fannon: But it is more than the Homeowner’s Association from what we have heard tonight. One that did not comment yet, because he just looked at the prints. He may want to comment. Another homeowner that is a little upset. There are two (2) reasons to maybe come back.

    Denise Walsh: How many letters were sent out?

    Chairman Harrington: Thirty-seven notices were mailed, one (1) approval and one (1) objection and zero returned. Let me explain where you are at procedurally. Your architect should have been familiar with the processes in the city, and know that we would not look at a subdivision request without the approval of the Homeowners Association or at least feedback from them. Sometimes what they say is that if they have more than one (1) person objecting, they would not approve or reject it but we have looked at it and do not have any comment. We want that. Subdivisions are very important in the city. Anyone who does anything in the city knows that you need that approval or at least a letter from them. You are not getting anywhere in terms of starting construction, at least from this board member, without that input. I think there is an additional opportunity here because it sounds like there is some emotional objections to what is going on. Stop and talk to your neighbors. I never thought that Trans-X case was going to come back here with a favorable resolution. I was absolutely shocked. They did what I told them. I am telling you, please meet with your neighbors. Talk to your other neighbors who are not here and did not sign, and see what their feedback is. Then you may get a favorable response from this board. I am telling you that this board takes objections from neighbors very seriously and we listen to them very carefully. It would be very well advised like Member Fannon said, maybe there is some planning or screening that could address the issue. I think we are going to give you thirty (30) days to do that. Board members, are we going to table this, or would you like us to vote tonight.

    Bill Cowdin: I think tabling would be an appropriate option.

    Chairman Harrington: I think that is an excellent choice. How about January 9th? That would give you ample opportunity to do what we recommended you to do. Table by acclamation. All in favor say aye. All Ayes.


  11. Case No. 00-094 filed by Matthew Soltes of 901 South Lake

Matthew Soltes, homeowner of 901 South Lake Drive is requesting a 5’ 8" side yard variance and a seven (7) foot rear yard variance for the construction at his home. *Please note that the previous owner had not taken out permits to replace existing structure.

Matt Soltes was present and duly sworn in.

Matt Soltes: Good evening. I bought the house in the existing condition. This was a screened in porch from what I understand. It was enclosed. The shell and insulation is up, but the drywall is not. It was built on the existing foundation around the house. I was told by the City of Novi that I needed to apply for permits and be turned down to come before the ZBA.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were thirty-three (33) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals or disapprovals, three (3) returned.


Sarah Gray, 133 Maudlin: This is on my corner. Interestingly enough, the work was done on the house over a year ago. For some reason, nobody caught it. The only question that I have is that I would like to know from what point the rear yard setback is being measured. If it is the fence line, the fence line is not on the property line. The woman who owned the property two owners ago was nice to her neighbor behind her and gave her an extra couple of feet, so that she could park the car on the north side of her house. That fence is not on the property line, so the variance may not be as much as you think it is. I do not know if there was a stake survey when the house was purchased, it does not matter at this point. This is a nice little house and it needs to be finished. I think that nobody in our neighborhood is going to object, because by allowing this gentleman to finish the house, it is going to improve the house.

James Korte, Shawood Lake: I find it interesting that I reported the illegality of that structure when it started and it has been going on a long time. This poor sucker has to deal with the situation because our building department did not do what they were supposed to do. Interesting, isn’t it?


Member Brennan: Mr. Saven, when there is pre-existing construction, a variance is granted and a building permit pulled, does the building department go back and see all the work that has been done and they may have to make changes?

Don Saven: Right.

Matt Soltes: That is correct, and that is what I have been told. That is why it has been on hold until I come to this meeting.

Member Brennan: I just hope that what was done meets the code.

Matt Soltes: As far as I understand, I have invited the Novi inspectors inside and out, they said that it matches up.

Member Brennan: You know the answer to that question if the measurement is to the fence or to the property line?

Matt Soltes: That I am not aware of. There is a mortgage survey that was handed in.

Chairman Harrington: The mortgage surveys usually say that they do not certify anything.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,


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


  1. Case No. 00-095 filed by Don Marhofer representing Saratoga Circle Development
  2. Don Marhofer of S.R. Jacobson is requesting an extension of two (2) previously granted sign variances that have since expired for the Saratoga Circle Development. The first variance is a 4’ x 8’ (32 sq. ft.) ground sign located at the southwest corner of Thirteen Mile and Novi Road. The second variance is a 4’ x 8’ (32 sq. ft.) ground sign located at the north corner of Novi Road and Old Novi Road. *Please refer to ZBA Case No. 99-038 and 99-039.

    Don Marhofer was present and duly sworn in.

    Chairman Harrington: It looks like you have two prior variances granted and you need an extension?

    Don Marhofer: Yes.

    Chairman Harrington: How come?

    Don Marhofer: The market is a little soft and we are not selling houses as fast as we would like.

    Chairman Harrington: It look like we had placed a contingency upon the first to occur of either selling all of them or an expiration which occurred this month or last month. How far along are you?

    Don Marhofer: We are about thirty (30) percent between the two sites.

    Chairman Harrington: Thirty percent (30%) sold?

    Don Marhofer: Thirty percent (30%) occupied, correct, sold.

    Chairman Harrington: Seventy percent (70%) unsold?

    Don Marhofer: Correct.

    Chairman Harrington: How long has this project been in completion?

    Don Marhofer: Well, there are two individual sites. One is Saratoga Circle and the other one is Camden Court.

    Chairman Harrington: How long do you really need? Forever until they sell does not sound like a good plan.

    Don Marhofer: I am requesting two years on this.

    Chairman Harrington: How much did we give you the first time?

    Don Marhofer: One.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were ninety-four (94) notices sent to neighbors and there were two (2) approvals and no disapprovals. Michelle Maso on Emerson Way agrees that we need signs at Saratoga Circle to bring customers in. Tracey Freeman writes that signs need to continue so that they can be seen by passers by, then removed as soon as they are no longer needed.



    Jim Korte, Shawood Lake: Wasn’t it signs that got us in trouble with Sandstone Vistas? To the potential of seventy million dollars? Let’s not do it again. Now, I have driven by that sign probably ten times a week for the last however long it has been. Now, I am not looking to buy a house. I can not even tell you what it looks like. That is how obtrusive it must be. Now, if you leave the sign up, hopefully he will get sold quicker and the trucks will get gone. He will get out and make his money and be out of our lives. Therefore, please let him keep the signs.


    Member Brennan: Mr. Chairman, I think that we generally try to get a little bit past fifty percent when we ask for these types of signs to come down. I move that we extend this for another year and see where he is at in another year.

    Moved by Brennan,

    Seconded by Bauer,


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

  3. Case No. 00-096 filed by Todd Swanson of 23250 Mystic Forest
  4. Todd Swanson, homeowner of 23250 Mystic Forest is requesting a ten (10) foot rear yard setback variance for the construction of screened in porch enclosure on an existing deck.

    Todd Swanson was present and duly sworn in.

    Todd Swanson: I am requesting a ten (10) foot rear yard setback variance to put in a screened enclosure on the existing deck.

    Chairman Harrington: Why do you need it?

    Todd Swanson: Mosquitoes.

    Chairman Harrington: If you do not get the variance, then you can not construct it correct?

    Todd Swanson: Correct. I have an association approval for the board.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty (20) notices sent to neighbors and there were two (2) approvals and no disapprovals. A.K. Rousie on Mystic Forest approve, Chuck and Vicky Shirely on Mystic Forest approve.

    Chairman Harrington: We will receive, as part of the record, the Homeowner Control Permit application which states, approval is conditional on City of Novi granting a deviation to the restrictions on distance of structure.


    There was no audience participation.



    Member Brennan: Is this woods behind you, or is there another house behind you?

    Todd Swanson: It is woods behind and then a yard that is the Novi Township. There is that little square of Novi Township. His house is maybe fifty (50) or sixty (60) feet from his lot line as well.

    Member Brennan: He is in Novi Township though?

    Todd Swanson: Yes, he is.

    Member Brennan: Would we have sent them a notice?

    Don Saven: I think they were notified.

    Todd Swanson: I think when I spoke to Sarah, I had advised her of that.

    Moved by Fannon,

    Seconded by Sanghvi,


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

  5. Case No. 00-097 Filed by Karen Phillips, representing 48832 Pebble Lane
  6. Karen Phillips of Gittleman Construction representing homeowners of 48332 Pebble Lane is requesting a side yard setback variance of 17.5 inches for the construction of a ramp.

    Scott Gittleman was present and duly sworn in.

    Scott Gittleman: We have a side door that has two concrete steps. I believe the husband’s parents are moving into the house and it will be their entrance into that space. It would be their family room and their bedroom space. To make it safer for them to do a ramp instead of just a walk. It is a ramp that goes from zero to sixteen inches which is the height of the door off of the ground.

    Chairman Harrington: It looks like the proposed ramp is thirty-six (36) inches?

    Scott Gittleman: Yes.

    Chairman Harrington: If you did not get a variance, it would shrink it down to fifteen and one half inches (15½")?

    Scott Gittleman: A little narrow.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-four (24) notices sent to neighbors and there was no approvals and one (1) disapproval. Kimberly Johnson on Pebble Lane, Gittleman construction should have known better than to advise/build for a customer being aware the outcome would be against code.



    There was no audience participation.


    Member Reinke: Is this already done?

    Scott Gittleman: No. The addition is being constructed at this time. Not the ramp.

    Member Brennan: Is this something that could be easily removed by a new homeowner?

    Scott Gittleman: Yes. It would either be a three (3) foot concrete sidewalk that is flat or a three (3) foot material deck that is elevated. It goes from zero (0) to sixteen (16) inches from the driveway up to the door.

    Member Kocan: What is the violation? Is it the width of the ramp?

    Don Saven: It is the side yard setback. If it were a sidewalk it would not have been a problem.

    Member Fannon: That was my question, if it was a sidewalk, there would not have been a need for a variance?

    Don Saven: Correct.

    Moved by Brennan,

    Seconded by Bauer,


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

  7. Case No. 00-098 filed by Daniel Munro representing John Thomopoulos of 425 South Lake Drive
  8. Daniel Munro of Marathon Homes representing John Thomopoulos, owner of 425 South Lake Drive is requesting two (2) variances for the construction of a new home. The requested variances are for a five (5) foot side yard setback and a two (2) foot height setback.

    Daniel Munro, Steve Iverson, John Thomopoulos and Shelly Thomopoulos were present.

    Daniel was present and duly sworn in.

    Daniel Munro: We bring this case before you. The house was originally designed by David Dover and Associates, an architect in White Lake, to meet the intent of the Novi requirements. He had informed us of the discussions he had with the Planning Department that led him to believe that the new home would not require a variance. Upon our review of the plans and confirmed by Mr. Saven and the building department, it became apparent that two variances would be needed. The first variance is for a five foot side yard setback. Although the house meets the minimum ten foot side yard requirement, it does not meet the twenty-five feet. We feel that the proposed side yard variance would not negatively impact upon other property owners effected by the variance. The variance request is unique due to the subject property being directly adjacent to Lake Shore Park. The home as proposed is not closer to any adjacent residential property than is currently allowed under the current ordinance. Therefore the current variance would not negatively impact any neighbor nor will it alter the character of the surrounding property owners. The four closest neighbors have all signed approval of the requested variances and commented that the new proposal would add overall value to the neighborhood. A couple of them have attended tonight to show their support of the new home plans. The new home design requires a five foot side yard variance in order to allow a two car garage entry from the front of the property. The homeowners did not want to maintain the rear entry garage that exists now because of the potential impact a side yard would have on the neighbor. A front drive eliminates potential noise and headlamp illumination from the side driveway leading to the rear garage. The current home design maintains an overall home width that is consistent with the neighbor’s home width and the land. Additionally, the closest neighbor, Carrie Zac, who is in attendance this evening lives at 359 South Lake Drive, also has requested that we consider taking a five (5) foot variance to the west side of the property facing the park and allow a fifteen (15) foot space between the two homes. This was the result in a side yard spacing of fifteen (15) feet to the east and five (5) feet to the west. The two (2) foot height variance request is unaffected by this neighbor’s request and the homeowner would be willing to consider this change in order to satisfy Mr. Zac’s request. The second variance request is for a two (2) foot height variance. Although the height is within the ordinance specifications when measured from the front corners, it requires a two (2) foot variance when measured with an average of all four corners of the house. The two (2) foot height variance would not create any view blockage for any neighbors. The height variance would not be required for the entire roofline of the home. As you see on the plans, it would only be required for the loft section of the home. Only one home is located next to the property at 425 South Lake Drive. That is again Mr. Zac at 359 South Lake Drive, just east of the homeowner’s lot.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were forty-two (42) notices sent to neighbors and there were four (4) approvals and no disapprovals. Mark Kemper of 357 South Lake, John and Karen Pischa of 351 South Lake, Dean Waldrup of 339 South Lake and Gary Zac of 359 South Lake approve.


    Gary Zac, 359 South Lake Drive: As the builder mentioned, perhaps the board could consider allowing Don and Shelly to move the home toward the park and take the five (5) foot setback from the park and the fifteen (15) foot on the side from the houses. That will open up the space to allow for any issues with drainage to be dealt with in an easy manner and just visually opening it up. I think they have been very good at going around and making sure that everyone is aware of what they are doing. I do not necessarily have any problem with the design or construction. But, I would prefer to have more space between the houses especially for lighting and to take care of the drainage issues. I would like to ask that you consider that. I do not think it is a big impact, and I do not think the homeowners have any objections. If that could work out, I think that would be a win situation all the way around.

    Chairman Harrington: What do you say in response to that suggestion that you move the whole house five (5) feet to the west?

    Scott Gittleman: That has been discussed with Mr. Zac, the homeowners and the builders. We think that would provide the need for the adjacent property owner. Mr. Zac’s home is within four (4) feet of his property line. So by putting another fifteen (15) foot section between the property line and Mr. Thomopoulos’ home, that would provide about twenty (20) feet between the two homes. The fifteen (15) foot obviously would be in accords with the zoning and the twenty-five (25) foot aggregate. Being five (5) feet closer to the park, I do not think there are any injuries to anyone other than the Thomopoulos’ because that brings them closer to the parkland and may affect their quiet enjoyment. That is not the objection of the builder, homeowner or the neighbors have at all.



    Don Saven: I believe the variance request is going to be subject to what the board is going to decide on this particular case. What I feel, is that there is a five (5) foot variance request out there on a side yard. Which side yard? The request is still a five (5) foot requirement. You are not adding anything to the request for an additional ten (10) feet. You maintain the fifteen (15) feet.

    Scott Gittleman: We are still going to need a five (5) foot variance.

    Don Saven: Correct.

    Member Reinke: It is not like you are adding an additional five (5) feet on the other side where you have five (5) feet on each side. If there are strong feelings about five (5) feet on one side or the other, I think people would have been here to voice their opinion about that. I agree with Don, that I don’t think that it has any bearing.

    Don Saven: We have our legal consultant here if he wishes to add anything onto that.

    Tom Schultz: I agree with Mr. Saven that there is no need to re-notice or rehear. I think the board has the authority if it chooses to grant the variance. We determine which side the building is going to go on.

    Member Brennan: Mr. Chairman, I do have some notations made. This is new construction, correct?

    Scott Gittleman: Correct.

    Member Brennan: What is the square footage of this house?

    Scott Gittleman: Approximately thirty-five hundred (3500) square feet.

    Member Brennan: Why is it that you can not comply with the two (2) variances with new construction?

    Scott Gittleman: When we got involved in the situation, we already received the design from the architect. The architect had designed the home with his understanding, which was incorrect, that there was a ten (10) foot minimum. He projected that it was ten (10) feet on each side when in fact the ordinance requires a fifteen feet on one side and ten feet on the other side for an aggregate of twenty-five. The home as it sits right now, the existing home encroaches upon the side yard variance. We are actually adding less than three feet, maybe 2.8’ to the existing non-conformance to the house. Could the property be built narrower? I think that is a possibility to build the house narrower. The uniqueness of this situation is that it is directly adjacent to Lake Shore Park. If it is moved, and the board so chooses to allow that to be five feet closer to the park than would normally be required, there is not an adjacent property owner that is affected.

    Mr. Thomopoulos: One of the original concerns that we had was, if you look at the existing property that we have today, when we want to go to the garage, we have to go around to the side and around the back. Usually we are driving by the neighbor’s windows with headlights shining in the window. One of the constraints that we gave the architect was that we wanted to be within the city code, but we want to put the garage in the front and try to maintain a length of the building similar to our neighbors. We wanted to make things better all around for all of us. Now that we found out that we do not meet the city code, our options are… The five foot variance that we are asking for is mostly garage when you look at the overall drawing. If we had to take that garage and put it in the back or make the building longer to get the same square footage, it would make it less desirable for our neighbor and for us. I apologize that we are here before you tonight, but we think this is the best option overall.

    Chairman Harrington: Who is the architect that is not here to explain this problem that he created for you and has taken up our time?

    Scott Gittleman: That would be David Dover and Associates in White Lake. He was unable to attend this evening at the last minute. He had prepared a very brief letter to present to the board that I do not think adds anything to the argument.

    Chairman Harrington: No, that will not be needed.

    Don Saven: Mr. Chairman, in regard to placing the garage around to the rear, this was also another practical difficulty in terms of the elevation of the property. As you can see, the height requirement is the same issue that you are dealing with whether you have the property sloping off to the rear. That is why they are here, because of the change in elevation from front to rear. One of the things is, when we are dealing with the subdivisions and preexisting lots of record and preexisting lots of record in subdivisions there was a requirement that there was only a ten (10) foot requirement on each side. This goes back to existing subdivisions. This is one thing that you may want to take into consideration as far as the variance is concerned.

    Member Sanghvi: Wouldn’t it be easier if they had more room between the homes rather than next to the park? For emergency vehicles and fire trucks getting there, other than the way it is?

    Don Saven: The issue regarding fire separation is the key target number of five (5) feet, which you want to try to maintain away from the property line to a building. From a building code stand point of view, they would not have to do anything very restrictive regarding the exterior walls.

    Member Reinke: There is an existing lot. The unfortunate is the shape of the lot. Area wise, there is a sufficient lot, it is the width that is causing the problem. I think what he is doing is a very positive improvement in the neighborhood. I think it is a positive thing for the community. It helps in the process of rebuilding the area around the lake. The five foot variance request, especially because it is something against the park, is something that is never even going to be seen. I can really support the petitioner’s request. I would rather see it that way than five feet closer to the house on the other side. I think everything fits in aesthetically.

    Moved by Reinke,

    Seconded by Bauer,


    Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Motion Carried

  9. Case No. 00-099 filed by Reverend Timothy Whyte representing Oakland Baptist Church

Reverend Timothy Whyte of Oakland Baptist Church is requesting five (5) variances for the proposed church located at 23893 Beck Road. These variances include; landscaping, curb, sound and berming.

  • Applicant is seeking a variance to the berming requirements on the north property line.
  • Applicant is seeking a variance to allow placement of the landscaping as was presented in the preliminary site plan submittal.
  • Proposed maneuvering lane width is sixteen (16) feet, adjacent to parking stalls and twelve (12) feet when not adjacent.
  • Proposed width to the end parking island is four (4) feet.
  • Applicant requests variance from conducting the noise analysis.

Reverend Timothy Whyte was present and duly sworn in.

Reverend Whyte: We moved the historic building from Grand River Avenue. The changes that we see with our new engineers are berming requirements on the north property line. There is already a five foot hill going into my neighbor’s driveway. If we put a four foot hill on top of a five foot hill, there will be a nine foot hill next to his driveway. We are willing to do landscaping along there and take care of that problem. If that is not acceptable, we will comply and place the nine foot hill although I would prefer landscaping. The landscaping that we are looking at would be to keep the historic of the old building. I would like to put landscaping around that would not block the view but instead enhance the view and make it look like something that looks like it was there a hundred years ago. I think that would be better than a hill of dirt covered with wood chips. We would ask for a variance for the berming requirement on the north property line. The other property line goes through wooded areas or is on Beck Road and there will be a berm.

Reverend Whyte: The next one would be a variance to allow placement of the landscaping as to what was presented in the preliminary site plan, along the side of the building and the back. Linda had a lot of suggestions on that and I appreciate her help. We are proposing a maneuvering lane with the sixteen feet adjacent to the parking stalls of twelve (12) feet were not adjacent. Our original parking lot was a huge area of pavement that did not fit what we needed. We came up with another parking lot arrangement that would allow us to keep the two (2) large blue spruce trees that are next to the building. Because of that we are going to have the driveways going around the blue spruce trees. They are very old trees, I am not sure how old or how tall, but they are large. We would like to keep these trees along with the birch tree in front of the existing building. We would like to keep as much of the mature trees as we can near the building. So the parking lot coming around that way has a narrower driveway. Proposed with the end parking stall, due to the trees and the maneuvering lane there, our property falls off at the back and goes down to a wooded area. We are going to have to fill in part of that area to make it a turn around for a maneuvering area in the back. The end parking island is smaller than is required. That is so that we could have the circling in there. Another twenty (20) feet of dirt back there is needed to have the circle around there. We are asking for a variance on the noise analysis. We have been there twenty (20) years and nobody has complained.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were eighteen (18) notices sent to neighbors and there was no approvals and no disapprovals. One (1) returned.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: In terms of the berming requirements and the issue regarding landscaping as what was in the proposed plan, I had conversation with our landscape and woodlands consultant Linda Lemke. She has agreed, as part of her letter dated November 2, 2000, that she could support the variance. In regard to the maneuvering lane width, is sixteen (16) feet adjacent to the parking stalls. I would like to address the third and fourth item at one time if I could. Basically in the communications that I have had with Mr. Arroyo’s office, there was an issue regarding a parking stall area where they could actually have a two (2) foot overhang in regard to the cars parking in that particular area. The other issue is the mountable curve be installed where that four (4) foot requirement island area. It does require eight (8) foot, but they are proposing four (4) so there would need to be a mountable curve in that area to help make that issue work. Also, into the turn, as the radius goes around, there is such a thing as off tracking apron that needs to be installed, which is two feet on the interior side of that curve. Regarding the noise analysis, this is a church in a residential area.

Member Fannon: Were all those things you just said located in a report somewhere?

Don Saven: These are communications that I had with the consultants this afternoon trying to put things together as far as what the requirements would be. The verification for the report from Linda Lemke is the November 2, 2000 letter.

Member Brennan: Item three (3) and four (4) are a result of the size of the parcel, the size of the church and how much room is left to meet all of the zoning requirements for parking. Does that sound reasonable?

Don Saven: That could be reasonable, yes.

Member Brennan: Mr. Chairman, that is the basis of my leaning toward the approval of all of the variances. The church in this case, we have a parcel, and place a building on it, it is not new construction. They have to work around with what they have. I think the sediment has always been that we are very encouraging of restoration of historic buildings. They are making progress. This is a neighbor of mine and I am looking forward to when that church is finished. Number one and number two have been worked out with Linda. Number three and number four are a result of the available space left to put a parking lot between the current building and the church. I see no reason to see them go through that noise analysis.

Member Kocan: I seem to be addressing many of the Special Land Uses. I just wanted to comment that I do not have a problem with this, because I think that it does meet the intent of the ordinance. I do have a couple comments, one with regard to the noise analysis. This is a small church and perhaps we do need specific standards in our ordinance that address the size of such buildings when they abut residential as to whether or not a noise analysis is necessary. I know there was something that went to council at one time and it got shot down. It probably needs to be worked on again. The property line to the north, the neighbors driveway is on the property line. Does the city have any issues with that?

Tom Schultz: I am not familiar with the factual basis for the question. I do not have the material that you have in your packet. Could you please restate the question?

Member Kocan: Maybe this has happened before, but they are looking at the property line to the north and stating that you can not start a berm from the property line because the neighbor’s driveway overlaps a couple feet. The neighbor’s driveway is actually on the property line. I suspect at some time if that neighbor sells the property, if there are legal issues that would need to be done?

Tom Schultz: It doesn’t. I do not know whether there are non conforming legal issues in terms of the city’s ordinances. Obviously the relationship between the two (2) property owners is a private one. I do not know if that is something that we need to get into.

Member Kocan: I am pleased that we are preserving a church.

Reverend Whyte: This is our second neighbor, we used to own that property and decided to sell it. It is a ninety foot lot. In the building process from the first owners, they changed it from a front entrance to a side entrance without realizing that they could not get into their garage unless they drove onto our property. Since then, they have always had a little bit of drive over on our land. We do not really care about that. The new people moved in and we have the understanding that it is our land but they can drive on it. It has not been a problem for us. The problem is where the berm would start, if we had to move it in five feet from the edge of the property line. That would move it us five feet closer. I agree with you.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Fannon,


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

  1. Case No. 00-100 filed by Mike Kahm representing, Churchill Crossings

Michael Kahm, Vice President of Singh Development Co. Ltd is requesting a recision of action taken pursuant to Case No. 00-064. Proposed request is for a ten (10) foot variance for the front yard setback on all lots for the Churchill Crossing Subdivision consisting of two hundred eight (208) lots. This recision request is based upon the "practical difficulty" associated with a dimensional "non use" variance.

Required front yard setback: 30 feet

Proposed: 20 feet

Variance: 10 feet

Chairman Harrington: This is essentially a rehearing on the matter in which we previously ruled upon. It is presented to us in the nature of a recision request. Let me suggest the direction that you may want to go, Mr. Galvin. I have read, I assume the board members have also read, the city attorney’s correspondence regarding this matter. The city attorney felt the appropriate vehicle for our consideration is a motion for recision. That opinion did not deal with our Rules of Procedure. Our Rules of Procedure are quite specific on rehearings. They do not address recisions but they do address rehearings. I think the board has the power to set forth its rules and discretion. They provide for a twenty day period for a rehearing request. I do not do that as jurisdictional, I think that is an issue of good cause. I would like to proceed along the lines rather than creating a new body of motions called recision. Mr. Galvin, if you could address why it is that a timely motion for rehearing was not considered in this case. If there is good cause, in the nature of gathering additional information, which would be presented this evening, that we should waive the twenty days and consider the issue on the merits, does that make sense?

John Galvin: That makes wonderful sense. I am here to ask your help in achieving this. I think Mr. Chairman, I am positioned between the rules of this body and Mr. Fisher’s opinion, if I understood the Chair’s comments, and I think I did. The reasons that a timely motion for a rehearing under the twenty (20) day rule was not pursued, was based upon discussions which were had among Mr. Fisher and me as to whether that would be an appropriate vehicle. It was concluded it would not be an appropriate vehicle which is why we did not do it. I hope that is a showing of good cause. It is called acquiescing in the City Attorney’s opinion, because if you don’t you are not going to get anywhere.

Chairman Harrington: I think the City Attorney’s advice for this board has always been appreciated, it is welcomed by the board. It is viewed as advisory. Whether it is recision or whether it is a motion for a rehearing, obviously you were engaged in negotiations, and could not get the information to us in a timely fashion, and you are here tonight. Please give us the new information that we did not hear the first time.

Joe Galvin: The new information that you did not hear the first time is based on the notion that what we are dealing with in this situation is a requirement of the ordinance that is unnecessarily burdensome in view of the physical configuration of this property. A series of requirements that were imposed upon the property during the platting process. Specifically the allocation of approximately eight (8) acres of the property parks four (4) acres of which are upland parks. These upland parks being a request from the city to the property owner, in which the property owner acquiesce. In order to take a property of this configuration, located where it is physically in the city, across the street from City Hall. In order to develop a project, it is in a neo traditional form with all of the physical facts, both the totality of the natural features on the property, specifically the wetlands on their locations, the desire to create a neighborhood of a particular type, a neo traditional neighborhood with housing like this, having the particular relationship to the street with the side entry garages. Avoiding the usual effect in this district of a garage opening on to the street. In order to achieve these effects, and to lay this property so that it will have the effect and the physical impact that is shown in the rendering, it is necessary for us to come to you to ask for you to apply a practical difficulty standard, rather than that which appeared from the minutes of the board to have been the application of unnecessary hardship standard to this particular variance request. But the issue does not change. The real and the substantive issue on this property, is the desire to achieve the particular effect, that I can assure you based upon other participation in the plat approval process and in review of the reports of the consultants, staff, Planning Commission and City Council, was something that each of those groups was trying to achieve. The requirement for the allocation to the parkland, the requirements for the particular layouts of the lot, the street configuration, all of these were driven by an attempt to provide this housing at this location in the City of Novi. That does require the ten (10) foot variance as it is shown on the layout to achieve that particular effect.

Joe Galvin: Which brings us to the legal standard. I do not think it is appropriate to get into a narrow legal discussion. I am not saying to the Zoning Board that this is a situation that I am suggesting to the board that you must do this and grant this variance. What I am suggesting to this board is that you are empowered to do it, you are able to do it. What I am saying simultaneously and implicitly to you is that you must be persuaded that this is something that you ought to do, which is something that you want to do. It is that question that I would like to address the remainder of my comments. It is not when you see a situation where the city is trying to achieve something that is unique for it, this form of housing. It is not often that you are in a situation where a developer is able to say to the city "I can provide this for you, this is desirable, this meets all of the goals and objectives that you set forth in your master planning. This meets all of the goals and objectives that your planning consultants have said that they want to see achieved. This is how we can do it, and do it." But the strict and rigid application of the city’s ordinances to this particular project prevents it from occurring on this parcel and in this way. What we are saying to you is when ordinance is applied to this property in these circumstances, is unnecessarily burdensome to its development in this way. You can achieve this development by granting the dimensional variances and the ten feet on the setback for the lots. By conditioning this variance upon the construction of these homes using this design, using the representations in the booklet that we have presented to you as the basis of your granting for the variance.

Joe Galvin: In effect, what we are saying is please help us work with you to achieve this. We are saying we will submit and we ask you to assure yourselves that you get what we are saying that you get. I do think that this is an appropriate exercise of your power. It is an appeal to your discretion to do something that is sensible to do. It is desirable to do. Each of the city’s agencies that we have dealt with thinks that it is desirable. Mr. Chairman, that is what we are saying to you. We have provided the proper predicate for that recourse. We have provided the practical difficulties standard. We do meet the unnecessary burdensome test, should you wish to do that. Mike Kahm is here, the developer, you know the product that he has historically provided in the city. I would characterize this as a really good bet for the city. If you do this you are going to get something that you are going to like. I think you are exercising your discretion. I would like to emphasize that I am asking for the discretionary exercise of power by this board to do something, which I think, is right. I am asking that the board in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, excuse the delay in the request and hear this matter tonight. I ask that you grant the ten (10) foot setback variance from the front setbacks so that we are able to build these units. We are prepared to answer any questions that the board may have. We ask explicitly that it be conditioned on us doing the things that are set forth in the materials that we have provided to you. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-four (24) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and one (1) disapproval. Janice Mancouso, disapproves stating the variance will allow too large a house for the lot size and appearance so close to the road will be unattractive. Undated from Todd and Krista Holdt approves, however may be an approval from before.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: I do have one issue that I would like to bring up if at all possible. I would like to address the issue as to what Mr. Galvin indicated earlier several times, "unnecessarily burdensome". Could I ask that the first plan be set up? It is also in your book. If you view it from a north to south direction. I had a conversation with our planning consultant this afternoon. I would like to bring this to light, this is very important. If you look at it from the left side of the plan going to the right, there are approximately eight rows of lots. Taking that into consideration, at ten feet apiece, the variance required, that is eighty feet of property that has to be taken away from that plat if he was to confirm to the ordinance as it exists today. Technically, that would mean there would be approximately twenty-five lots that he would have to give up to meet the requirements of the ordinance. The question that I am raising is whether or not this would be considered unnecessarily burdensome? That is one of the thoughts that you may take into consideration for this project.

Chairman Harrington: Mr. Galvin, please explain the park issue that is associated here. It would appear that we do have a unique parcel here in the sense of wetlands and parks. That kind of necessitates the configuration trade offs that are inherited in the project. What is the size of the parks, what is being given up and traded away and why is it the development is being worked around these?

Joe Galvin: Interestingly, it turns out there is twice as much parkland area as there is in the variance request. Remember the variance is a request for the setback. There is not a request to change the amount of lot coverage. The land is not really lost. But, we have given up four acres plus or minus of upland parks in order to lay them out the way that they are laid out. In addition, there is approximately another four acres, so a total of about eight acres. If you compute the variance request, it itself comes to about four acres. You are almost on a two to one ratio. Those were things that we did voluntarily. I do not mean to suggest anything to the contrary, but they do create to the burden. They contribute to the burden that we must bear in developing property. The real thrust of the argument is that in order to achieve the subdivision that we envision and that the city planners envision, we believe, and I use the word planner generically, the setback variance is necessary. You can not achieve the effect. It is the totality of the circumstances of developing this property, which justifies the variance.

Chairman Harrington: I think one of the issues that concerned the board was the self-created aspect, not just the hardship. I think that issue has been addressed enough to their satisfaction. The other part that troubled me was the idea of our board giving, what in essence was a blanket variance. Which probably does not sound like a good concept. Are you aware of any case law prohibitions against giving blanket variances in situations like this or do these happen all of the time?

Joe Galvin: I am not aware of a prohibition and I would not suggest that they happen all of the time. I have obtained in other circumstances, for other properties, where there were some similar goals under the planning concepts or the ordinances that a particular municipality was trying to achieve.

Chairman Harrington: Does the Novi City Council, under these exact circumstances, have the power to rezone this parcel and provide for ten (10) foot setbacks?

Joe Galvin: They would not have the power to rezone a parcel to do it. I think that they could develop some kind of text issue at some level that could achieve something like the same end. I think it is always possible, Mr. Chairman, for the legislative body to create either in this district, although I know of no other district that is achievable in this fashion. No, they could not rezone it but they could deal with the text of the ordinance in some fashion. I suppose to create a situation where it could be done on another basis. But that does not rely the uniqueness of this particular property and its circumstances, which is the basis for our current appeal.

Chairman Harrington: It troubles me a little bit, because I do not think that is the function of this board to legislate these projects. This is really a drawing board issue for me rather than a judicial issue. Although we will make a decision and we have the power to make the decision. But if Council also has the power to make that decision, then that is troublesome.

Joe Galvin: I understand your concern. I am sympathetic to that concern. On the other hand, I believe we have established two (2) things for you. The first is that it is within your power and your discretion to do what we ask. You can do it. This is the part that is equally important to me, I hope that I have persuaded you that you want to exercise your discretion because that which could be achieved through the exercise of that discretion is desirable, is consistent with the intent of your zoning ordinance. To strip it of all of the verbiage is a good thing for the city and a good thing for us. That you ought to do. That is my appeal. I do understand where you are coming from.


Member Reinke: You could do this under the old PUD option, right?

Joe Galvin: Probably.

Member Reinke: There is no way that I would go with a blanket of two hundred eight ten foot front yard variances. If there was something there like a few lots, I could see the possibility. But two hundred eight straight across the board, there is no way that I could support that. Number two, just as a question of clarification. On the layout of a typical, what size is the garage?

Mike Kahm: A three car garage.

Member Reinke: That could be moved back with five feet. Five feet could be taken off of the garage and you would not need a variance. Nothing changes to the front look.

Joe Galvin: Having it ten feet closer to the street enhances the desired effect. We have been dealing with one another for a number of years. I understand that you can not support it. So all I could ask you to do is to not make a motion. The real issue tonight, is whether a majority of the board believes that it is desirable in the city for this to be built in this fashion. I truly respect your opinion. At the same time, I ask that the remaining members of the board answer the question, would you like to see this built here because you can help us get it? It is a simple, direct and very straightforward proposition. It is rooted in the notion. It is funny how it kicks back into the legal standard. It is the burden of the current structure of your ordinances that prevent it from happening. You can relieve the burden.

Member Fannon: But, isn’t that burden on anything that is created? This is creativity. You are asking us to support this. If we make a motion and support that, you are assuming that we have seen this, felt it and touched it. Is there a place that we could go and look at this? I understand what you are saying. Mike Kahm is a great developer. There is no question here. I know that we have the power to do it as you stated in your speech. But that is asking us to say that that is great for the City of Novi. First, I do not think that is our job. We are here to uphold the ordinances of the City of Novi and look at practical difficulties and burdens that are not self imposed, even with creativity. Where can we go and see this just like it is?

Joe Galvin: Michael, do you have one (1) that is just like this that they can see?

Mike Kahm: In our Tollgate Woods and Tollgate Ravines projects on Meadowbrook Road, just south of Thirteen Mile. It is a very similar product in concept.

Member Fannon: What are the setbacks there?

Mike Kahm: That is what Mr. Reinke mentioned about the PUD Ordinance. He is correct. If the PUD Ordinance still existed, we could have gone to City Council and would not have to be before you. That ordinance does not exist. There is no vehicle in the city to do something "creative" which is what the old PUD provided for. For whatever reason that ordinance was rescinded and the option does not exist. You are our only option within the rules and ordinances of the City of Novi. We do not have another choice except to not do this.

Mike Kahm: On the three-car garage issue. We have another subdivision on Meadowbrook Road called Willowbrook. We are putting in three car garages on eighty foot lots. They all face the front. That project does not have any variances, we are working within all of the ordinance requirements of the city. What we are trying to do is provide something aesthetically pleasing and provide a higher quality housing for the city using the only vehicles at our means. There is not another option within your ordinances. Obviously we are in business to build what the market wants. We are trying to do it tastefully and give it more character than what is otherwise possible within the confines of your district.

Member Fannon: Does anybody know why the PUD Ordinance no longer exists in the City of Novi? Or is it something that was rescinded in one night?

Joe Galvin: I think this was the reason that it was done.

Member Bauer: You have not convinced me that I should go for this and rezone property. This is what I feel you are trying to do.

Joe Galvin: Can I deal with that directly, because the Chair has made a similar suggestion? I think that Mr. Fannon’s comments are in the same direction. It is really two steps. It is the cumulative impact of the ordinance on the property and the property line. That is the escape malfunction. I under Member Reinke’s comments on the magnitude. Two hundred eight, it is a number, but that is what it is. I am trying to figure out a way to persuade you that this is not a rezoning, because there is nothing that is there in the ordinance that would allow us to do it. If it was something simple like changing the district, I could be more sympathetic to what I understand is your point of view. What I am trying to do is get into your point of view and see if there is a way through the imposition of the condition that you could achieve a comfort level that that is not what you are doing. Because if I understand the problem, looked at another way, it is how do I make it for this day and trip only. Or am I misunderstanding? Because when you said that it is not our job, you were saying that you are in the business of doing this parcel specific solution to these particular problems. It is through the conditions that I think that I could get there.

Chairman Harrington: I would like to let you know where my thoughts are. There are significant legal issues that we have to make fact determination. I am satisfied that a case for practical difficulty has been made here. I am satisfied for a couple of reasons. You have the interplay of the parkland, the configuration of the lot, there is nowhere else they can go and they have no other adjacent property. This failure to grant relief essentially makes this project impossible. In leaning toward finding practical difficulty, I am absolutely not making a determination that this is a great project for the city. I do not think that is our job. I think that we could look at the impact of public safety and morals. But I do not think it is our job to say "Good job, Planning Commission", "We want to help you, because this is great for the city". I do not think that is our role or our job. I do think that within the discretion that we do have, I think there are practical difficulties to allow us to grant this singular ten (10) foot variance. Is it self created? We have seen in a variety of different circumstances that there is no variance that probably isn’t self-created. If they come here in the first place, there is probably something that they had to do with it. They did not have to buy the property, they did not have to put in the sun room or the three season deck. They are creating it in the sense that they want to do it. That is the same situation that we have here. They want to do it. The economics are such that they can not do it. They will not be able to do it without this kind of relief. That to me sounds like practical difficulty. It sounds to me that they have not discarded five other economic alternatives just as feasible. They just can not do the project. At least to that degree, it does not sound like this project is unduly and negatively impacting the health, welfare, morals or safety of the city. I am coming to the conclusion that I could support this variance. I am absolutely rejecting the notion that we should be persuaded because this is a great project for the city. That is legislative, it is not clause and judicial which is what our discretion is. I am sort of going along with the petitioner here. I would be prepared to consider a motion for rehearing or reconsider and for those reasons. Other board members may agree or disagree. That is where I am at.

Member Fannon: How did you get from two hundred and eight lots to one hundred eighty-three, which you would lose twenty-five lots if you did not get this variance. When you get down to one hundred eighty-three lots, how does that become economically unfeasible. If that was one hundred eighty-three lots, you are saying in your opinion it would be economically unfeasible to sell out one hundred eighty-three lots? I just don’t know where you got that, I did not read it anywhere.

John Galvin: That is my impression.

Member Fannon: Is that what the statement is from…?

Don Saven: And I thought it was unnecessarily burdensome.

Tom Schultz: The economically unfeasible is a used variance standard. That is part of the issue to be resolved tonight. You do not want to go to that higher standard.

Member Reinke: (inaudible)…presentation, is that clear to the city?

Don Saven: Member Reinke, I am sorry, I have been duly notified.

Member Reinke: (inaudible)…is big enough to put a house on. The size lots they have. The garage could be shortened up. It could be configured around a little bit to make it fit and make those size lots work. There is no way I can see putting it ten feet closer on two hundred eight lots.

Member Kocan: I was reviewing the guidelines for Michigan Planning Officials. It talks about non use variance standards and the applicant must show practical difficulties. "By demonstrating: A) whether strict compliance with area setbacks, frontage, height, bulk or density would unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permitted purpose or would render conformity unnecessarily burdensome." A comment on that at previous City Council, Planning Commission and at this board, the developer did say that he could build houses on that piece of property, with a front entry garage without giving up any property at all. Not giving up twenty-three lots. That is what my records show. "Demonstrating B) whether a variance would do substantial justice to the applicant as well as to other property owners in the district or whether a lesser relaxation would give substantial relief and be more consistent with justice to others." Every subdivision around that has a minimum thirty foot setback. Some of them have more than that. So to me, I do not see the need for relief. Whether the plight of the owner is due to unique circumstances of the property or whether the problem is self created. Tonight Mr. Galvin has said that the city boards have told him to design it this way. That is not the way that I remember it. The developer came in with a plan, this was the plan from the very beginning. There was a twenty foot setback. The plan did evolve, because if they were asking for a twenty foot setback, then what are you giving in return. They gave up a couple of lots. I could be wrong, but I do not think there was a considerable number of lots that were given up. This was a plan that was presented to the city from the developer. The city did not mandate the developer to come in with this kind of a plan. I think it is important to remember that. To say now that because the Planning Commission approved it, it is now burdensome and you have to let us do this, not in those words, but that is putting the cart before the horse. The other comment that I have is the houses look lovely, the picture rendering is lovely, but I think that picture is very deceiving. If you drive through Vistas, those houses are twice as close to the road as that picture shows. I did some of my own calculations at home measuring if the sidewalk was five feet wide. If you are setting the house twenty feet back from the sidewalk, the front of the house is where the shrubs are starting. The house is considerably closer to the road, than what is on that rendering. I just have a problem doing that in that particular location. Those are my comments.

Member Brennan: What is before us tonight is whether we would like to rescind the motion that was made at the last meeting to deny. I saw nothing new tonight that changes my mind from last month. In fact I am more compelled to stick to my guns because of a couple of new issues. One that Member Kocan mentioned. I walked off before the meeting tonight twenty feet. Twenty feet is from that flag to the front of Don Saven. A subdivision of two hundred ten homes with the traffic, with kids and twenty feet between the front of the house and the road. I do not know that I would want to be part of that. That is very concerning. I still believe this is self created. They have another way of putting these homes on these lots. While the average lot is one hundred twenty-five, if you look at this layout, many of them are one hundred thirty or one hundred fifty. I think it is wrong to consider a blanket variance for this project when the need is self created.

Member Fannon: If the City Council would like that type of design in the city, then they should figure a way to get it into the city. They should not have it being done at this board. That is not what our charge was, in my opinion. I understand the legal issues of voting yes or no, but I just can’t understand how it got here other than legally. Why is it here? It may be great, but this is not our job. We were not appointed to make decision of whether this is good for the citizens of the City of Novi. Even if we could go out and see it, is it really our charge? It may be the best project that is ever built in the City of Novi, but I do not know.

Member Brennan: Am I right though, that the first thing that we should move on is whether we should rescind last meeting?

Member Reinke: We are going to rehear the case. Is that correct, Mr. Chairman?

Chairman Harrington: We could do it in a variety of different fashions. We have really listened to arguments on the merits. The particular motion we make, the effect of it can be to deny the petition for a recision that is in front of us. The motion to affirm the prior decision could be several different things. Clearly to me, we are not making a decision on procedurally, was it timely? I think there was a sense of the board that the issue was properly in front of us this evening. We are not wasting people’s time by saying would you come back, you are twenty days too late. I think the particular motion that is filed should be on the merits of whether we affirm or rescind what we did before. It is on the merits of the new evidence that we have heard this evening as well as the arguments and the information presented by the petitioner at the prior meeting which is likewise part of this record.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,



Chairman Harrington: Member Brennan, my sense is if there is in fact a legal significance to self created hardship versus practical difficulties. My suggestion is if you want a motion that would stand up, you should put it in terms of either or unnecessary hardship. Or practical difficulty, because the way the City Attorney’s opinion falls is it suggests there is a difference in the two legal standards. To simply pick one legal standard rather than the other legal standard based on the facts in front of us may simply be creating an automatic reversal on appeal. The comment from the City Attorney was that he did not believe that necessarily the appropriate standard is unnecessary hardship. I believe the City Attorney felt that this really was a practical difficulty and that’s what would apply in this non use variance situation.

Tom Schultz: A little background on Mr. Fisher’s opinion. I think he struggled over the word recision and not to use the concept of rehearing. I think that is a careful misborn of experience. Not general experience, but particular experience. I think relatively recently, an experience in which the court of appeals told the petitioner who had in fact built a home on a piece of property, that there was no such thing as a rehearing before a Zoning Board of Appeals unless the statue or ordinance provided so. I do not believe it does by ordinance in the City of Novi. I think the opinion was carefully written by Mr. Fisher knowing that there was a procedure under your rules of procedures for rehearing. The reason why he seized on the recision aspect of it was the use in the motion that was made the last time of the hardship. Without any other modifying works. I think the way he read that was that there was an undo hardship standard applied instead of a practical difficulty standard.

Tom Schultz: Obviously, I do not think I have to remind the board of the difference between the two kinds of reviews and the two different standards. I think he felt if the board were inclined to get back into the merits of the case, it probably would not suffice to simply make a motion to rehear or approve a request to have it reheard based upon relatively recent experience elsewhere. You need to do something more formal like maybe the wrong test was applied last time, the wrong legal standard was applied. That probably would get you back on the merits of the matter without the courts saying "sorry the procedure is wrong, the only remedy was a lawsuit, not a rehearing". That is the use of the word rescind. As I said, he struggled over it. If you are going to get back to the merits, that concept of applying a different standard this time around is going to have to be incorporate.

Tom Schultz: With respect to the self created aspect. I know that you often hear the term self created hardship. But again, if you read the case law and the statue, the standard is a judgement standard. It is not in the ordinance or in the statue, it is in case law. It stated a self created burden. The concept of creating your own difficulty, I think, really relates more to, can what is proposed be done without a variance? I think what the petitioner is arguing in this case is obviously not for staff or consultants to tell you which way to vote, is what is being proposed in this case in fact can not be done under the ordinance with the separated garage. If you want to get to the merits, I think the chair has outlined, has added flesh to what Mr. Fisher put in his opinion, is there an ability on the part of the board if it is inclined to get to the merits and grant relief. I think Mr. Fisher is saying there is. Mr. Galvin acknowledges that it is purely a matter of discretion on the part of the board because I think you could, as you can in many cases, simply you make the decision and if there is any evidence to support it, the decision would be upheld. If you do not want to get into the merits, the thing to do is to deny the request to rescind the prior action. That leaves the fact that maybe the wrong standard was used the first time around. If you vote to rescind, you will have as a separate motion to the question of the merits. On that one you know your authority and what your charge is. Did you find a practical difficulty, do you want to exercise your discretion on this? I know this was lengthy, but we have to keep the recision concept in the first motion, whether the motion to deny recision or to approve it and then move onto the merit.

Chairman Harrington: To the extent of what I heard you say is that in order to either protect the record or do it properly, we need to vote to rescind the first decision, because based on the wrong standard. I do not buy that. I think it was adequate basis in the record before us the last time and that the motion itself has to be in the context of the record. I believe that there was sufficient basis on that occasion to support the denial of the variance request. It so happens my particular position tonight is that I have heard enough different information regarding the project, that would in my mind, establish a practical difficulty. But my comment to Mr. Brennan was, and maybe what he ought to do is modify his motion a little bit, but I think that the motion if it is going to be to effectuate a denial, and to affirm the prior decision. I think that motion has to include as well the fact that insufficient evidence has been submitted to establish a practical difficulty. For that reason, we are not going to rescind the prior decision either, that we heard the new evidence. I can not make the motion, because I do not support that. I think that Joe has met his burden here. The problem with the motion is that it refers to, again, self created hardship.

Member Brennan: And or practical difficulties is what you want added…

Chairman Harrington: To protect the record, I think that is appropriate.

Member Brennan: Well, then can I modify my motion to include and/or practical difficulties?

Chairman Harrington: Please restate the whole motion.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,


Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (2) Motion Carried


Member Kocan: Explain to me why we would have to rescind (tape ends)…under hardship, we determined there was no hardship, case closed. If they want to bring a case again and say "How about practical difficulty?" Isn’t that a separate case?

Chairman Harrington: No, it is inhering in the whole thing. The one standard may apply to a use variance and the other standard may apply to a non use variance. The City Attorney’s opinion is that we have a non use situation, so it may be the practical difficulty standard. I do not necessarily agree that we committed a pellet reversible error in our decision the first time. But in order to cover the ground that we have also found, as a matter of evidence, it is insufficient to meet practical difficulty standard, that has been added into Member Brennan’s motion. That is my understanding. Is that correct, Mr. Schultz?

Tom Schultz: Yes.

Member Fannon: I am going to vote yes on the motion, but I am not an attorney. I have some real difficulties with us sitting here and trying to determine what is good for the citizens of Novi on something this large. Nothing against the developer, I think he is fabulous. I think he has done some great things in the city. I think if I could talk to these City Council people, and if they want that for the citizens, I think it is their job to get it there. That is why I am going to vote yes on this motion.

Member Sanghvi: We still have not had our clarification on whether this is our job or not to make this decision. I thought we cleared that hurdle. I understood that we could decide one way or the other rather than hide behind the skirt of the City Council.

Chairman Harrington: I think we have the power, Member Sanghvi, to grant this variance if we chose. I think that what I have heard from my fellow board members is that they are not convinced that the necessary burden has been established. They just do not think it is enough of a practical difficulty. They think a large part of it was self created because you could sacrifice twenty-five lots. Maybe move it back another ten feet and you may not need it. To that degree it is self created. It seems that as a factual matter that is why there is not support to set aside what we did the first time. I think we have the power to grant the variance. I do not know anyone that would appeal it if we granted it.

Other Matters

  1. ADCO
  2. Sarah Marchioni: Speaking with Khanh Pham, the variance that was granted by the ZBA on September 1, 1998 to allow an overhead door. The ordinance has since changed and they no longer are need this variance. They would like to withdraw their request on record.

    Chairman Harrington: So withdrawn.

  3. November 2001 meeting date
  4. Sarah Marchioni: We were attempting to reschedule the meeting for Monday, November 5, 2001 due to the elections being on November 6, Planning Commission meeting on November 7, and the City Council meeting on November 13, 2001. The possible dates are November 5 or November 20. Is November 5th okay with all the members?

    Member Reinke: The 5th would be better than waiting until the 20th, because we would have one meeting right on top of the other.

  5. Introduction
  6. Don Saven: I would like to introduce Clay Pearson. Clay is the new Assistant City Manager, which I know you have not met at this particular time.

    Clay Pearson: Thank you for letting me sit in. Sorry that I have not been able to attend until tonight. I look forward to working with all of you. We have a great staff and I am learning some of the background to these projects. I had the opportunity to meet some of you individually and I look forward to working with the rest of you.

  7. Staff support

Chairman Harrington: This board needs more resources from the city than it is getting. This young lady is killing herself doing nineteen different functions including having primary responsibility for this board. This is a specific request from the chairman of this board that the lines of responsibility with respect to staff support be clarified as to this board and that Sarah receive whatever help she needs in the form of additional assistance to do what she has been attempting to do, which is to get the packets out timely without killing herself because she has all of the planning stuff to do. To get the minutes to us in a timely fashion so that if something happened last month, we can look at it if it is tabled. This is a situation that is getting worse, not better. I have heard that it is in various phases of getting fixed, but it has not been fixed. What is going to happen is that if you drive this lady into a coronary, the problems will be twice as bad, because no one is going to pick up where she has left off. She has not asked me to make this comment, but as chairman of this board I am making it. I think this is an important board for the city, you saw tonight with the cases that we handled. Some large and some small, they are all important. We are not paid a dime for our services. The board has the right to not just request, but demand full resources from the city in the form of getting the staff support so that we could do the job that we are volunteering our time to do. We are not getting the resources, Sarah is doing too much stuff. If the city does not address this issue, I do not know what we are going to do. Ultimately, what you will have is, if we can not get our stuff timely and we do not have the tools to do our job, you will have morale issues here on the board and you will not see this board sitting here. So pass that message back and send the minutes around to whoever the budget person is and tell them that we need some help here. This is a situation here that has gotten worse and worse over the last year.

Member Reinke: I agree.

Clay Pearson: I hear and understand your comment. Our goal is to help you make the best decision as possible. We are not here to burn out anybody. All I can say is that in my brief time here, I have seen a very lean staff throughout the board. Whether it is planning or building and throughout. I think it is one of the larger issues that we are all trying to deal with. You have had fourteen items tonight. I have not seen any slack that I could tell you that we could get more people. I see the same situation. This is something that we need to work toward and we all need to do what we can.

Chairman Harrington: Let me be a little stronger. The City Council who supposedly is in charge of this and the city manager are accountable to the citizens of this city and we are all citizens. You have seven board members here that volunteer, we do not work for the city. We volunteer our time. We have day jobs and we volunteer our time to help out the city. If the city is incapable of giving the resources, and it is not a whole lot that this board needs. It is clear to me over this last year that it has gone downhill in terms of our access to city resources. I do not particularly care that the city has a lean budget. I know that there is millions of dollars in that budget and I know that a half time staff person would probably be more than sufficient. I have not analyzed what it is that they need to do on a monthly basis. But as a citizen, a tax payer and as the chairman of this board, I do not really want to hear that we have a lean budget. We did not create that sixty million dollar liability, which everyone is running around scared about. The fact is if the city wants us to volunteer our time as professionals and we work for a living, then we have the right to demand that we could get our stuff timely and that it is done right. The person who is responsible for doing it is not responsible for eleven different other boards. It is a bad way to run the city and it better change. I am not talking as a chairman that way, I am talking as a voter.

Clay Pearson: I apologize for my remarks as an excuse. That was not my intention whatsoever. I was explaining to you my initial perceptions in coming on board here.

Chairman Harrington: Better to hear it from people who are on the outside who work for companies and businesses on the outside. This is what we see and this is not just our opinion, I think that everyone on the board feels this way. You are getting outside input, not just disgruntled city people who may be unhappy about a union contract or this or that. You are hearing it from the outside, people who are volunteering their time. I can see it, and it has impacted this board. Before it creates a real problem, I am saying this on the record and it is on the minutes. Please come back and see us anytime. We would like to see you guys more often. Pass that word through and let them know it is a concern for the board. All that we care about is that we have the resources to do our job for you. None of this is in anyway a criticism of Sarah. I think she is killing herself. Someone ought to stand up and say "Hey, this lady needs more help", and that is the only way that this board could function properly. Do what you can.

The Meeting was adjourned at 11:03 p.m.


Sarah Marchioni

Community Planning Assistant

Transcribed by: Christine Otsuji

January 12, 2001

Date Approved: February 6, 2001