MONDAY, JUNE 22, 1998 AT 6:30 P.M.




Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 6:40 p.m.






CITY COUNCIL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor ProTem Crawford, Council Members DeRoche, Kramer, Lorenzo, Mutch (arrived 6:44 p.m.), Schmid



BUILDING AUTHORITY: Chairman Larry Czekaj, Member Mark Sturing



ALSO IN ATTENDANCE: Craig Klaver, Ed Kriewall, Don Saven, Kathy Crawford, Rod Arroyo, Tonni Bartholomew






CM-98-06-185: Moved by Crawford, Seconded by Lorenzo, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Agenda as submitted


Vote on CM-98-06-185: Yeas: McLallen, Crawford, DeRoche, Kramer, Lorenzo, Schmid

Nays: None





1. Novi Senior Housing Project


Craig Klaver advised that they are just beginning to get into some early design and believes the starting point would be to read Allan Tuomaala’s letter after he makes a couple of brief comments.


Mr. Klaver advised there is really no structured schedule for Council and the Building Authority to meet. He explained there are no requirements and the project is somewhat independent. However, he thought it was important for the Building Authority to get a chance to talk to Council and at this point, they are just looking for some discussions and some consensus on three broad issues. Mr. Klaver advised one issue would be preferences for story height, the second would be the density of the project (including the possibility of another senior activity site), and lastly, they would like to know whether Council sees this project as the city’s one and only senior project or should they consider future projects that might change some of the dynamics in terms of how they will maximize the site.


Mr. Klaver distributed Mr. Tuomaala’s letter to Council.


According to Mr. Tuomaala’s letter, Mayor McLallen understands under the current plan there must be a maximum of 190 units and at this time they are committed to 154 of the 190 in a three story structure. However, she has also heard that there could be five stories, but further understands that this is the only proposal they have received so far.


Mr. Czekaj advised this is the first letter to the Building Authority, so as an Authority they must consider different plans for the project and the letter before them is Mr. Tuomaala’s proposal.


Mayor McLallen understands people they have hired have looked at the site and they believe there should be a maximum of 190 units in two buildings with 154 apartment units and 36 ranch units with a staggered roof line.


Mr. Klaver advised the reason for the topological study is to show the fairly dramatic changes in the grade on this property. He noted that the highest portion of the property would be on the western edge adjacent to Meadowbrook Glens and Mr. Tuomaala’s thoughts were to put the ranch units adjacent to the residential development to provide somewhat of a transition area. He continued by stating that as the slope falls off, the architect has proposed another option that would include a two story and as they move down the grade, they could construct a three story. Mr. Klaver reminded Council that they had discussed the three story option when the Building Authority first started this project.

Mayor McLallen just wants to be certain that they are all on the same page because at the moment this is the only proposal that has come forward. For balance sake, the Mayor continued by stating that Kathy Crawford is present as the city’s coordinator for the senior’s activities.


Mr. Czekaj advised they have received a proposal in general terms from a larger firm and the Building Authority is still struggling with philosophy. He explained they have not yet come to a consensus among themselves and now they are looking for some direction from Council. Mr. Czekaj noted they do not know whether 190 units, as proposed by Mr. Tuomaala, really maximizes the property or not.


Mayor McLallen asked how many acres are on the site? Mr. Klaver replied there are eighteen acres and ten are useable based upon Mr. Tuomaala’s information.


Having grandparents of his own, Councilman DeRoche thinks that having a one story building is more favorable. However, Councilman DeRoche understands that one obvious reason they are choosing to build up is because of the lack of space and he asked if the concern is that perhaps they will need other sites if they build lower in order to have enough units to satisfy the senior citizen’s needs in Novi. Secondly, if they are making the foundations with elevators and other things that will accommodate the seniors that live there, he asked if it would make more sense to build a fourth or fifth story. Mr. Kriewall replied from an inspection standpoint, a three story configuration would resemble River Oaks, Pheasant Run and some of the other attractive multiple projects that are located within Novi. He explained that once they construct beyond a third story the building costs are greater and the building code requirements are different.


Councilman Deroche asked why can’t they make it all a one story? Mr. Kriewall replied that the construction costs for a one story are ineffective.


Councilman Deroche asked if they have included storage in the plans? Mr. Klaver replied that he and Kathy Crawford have discussed this issue with Mr. Tuomaala and he advised that they do provide some storage within the unit and there is also a common storage area provided. In response to Councilman DeRoche’s question regarding height, Mr. Klaver advised that the story height also becomes an issue in terms of zoning. He explained it would not comply under the RM-1 zoning; it would need RM-2 zoning.


Mr. Czekaj added that another prohibiting factor is cost. He explained single story pods would limit the total number of units and increase the cost.


Mayor McLallen advised that this project has been under way for fifteen years and she has some real concerns about trying to build three structures. The Mayor asked what is typically seen in a five to ten year program. Kathy Crawford replied they expect the already large senior population to grow rapidly. She reported that she currently has a large list of names of seniors that want to move in and she noted that some have been on the list for ten years and they are still calling. Ms. Crawford continued by stating that predicting whether they would be ready to construct another project within ten years is difficult.


Mayor McLallen asked if 190 units are adequate for today’s needs? Ms. Crawford advised that it is not adequate. She believes they could build two projects and fill them at this point if they can keep within the appropriate dollar figure. Ms. Crawford added that she does not believe that this site can do everything that they want it to do in terms of making it attractive, including amenities and making it appear to be residential in nature. However, Ms. Crawford does see Novi having more than one senior project.


Mr. Klaver advised that the Senior Implementation Committee struggled with this issue for a long time and they came to the conclusion that one project cannot meet the needs of all people.

Councilman Kramer asked whether they will provide food service? Mr. Klaver advised that they plan to transfer the Meals on Wheels Program to the site, but noted that they have intended the site to be an independent care facility.


Councilman Kramer understands they are considering one to three stories, but that they would also consider as many as two to four. Mr. Klaver replied four stories would require different zoning and increase the construction costs. Consequently, he believes they will limit the facility to three stories.


Mr. Czekaj reminded Council that the homes would be adjacent to Meadowbrook Glens.


Councilman Kramer asked whether they are providing some of the group amenities? Mr. Klaver believes they have just enough group space to accommodate the residents. However, the question is how much would they want to build and how much space is needed to try to create an activity’s center that would service the whole city.


Councilman Kramer asked about the issue of 176 out of 190. Mr. Klaver advised it depends upon whether they want to go to three stories.


Councilman Kramer believes even if they constructed two stories all the way to the west that the houses are two stories also and therefore, two stories may not be an issue.


Mr. Klaver believes the one story ranch provides more than just a transition to the residential subdivision. He explained that they also provide a transition for people that have been in an independent home and find it difficult to move into an apartment environment.


Councilman Schmid is glad that they have increased the units to 190. Councilman Schmid prefers a three story structure because he believes they should maximize the amount of building that they put on this piece of property. However, he added he believes they should keep in mind that this is a residential area and they must be conscious of that as they develop the project. Councilman Schmid also believes that they should try to put in an activities room within the complex. Further, Councilman Schmid believes one story units are nice, but if there is a cost factor involved, he would rather see a larger three story building so they can gain a larger number of units if the community has those needs.


Councilman Schmid stated his first question is about cost and whether they can afford this. Mr. Czekaj replied they have looked into cost and the general sense was that the cost would amount to $45,000-$65,000 per unit and that the entire project would amount to $10.0M. Mr. Czekaj advised that Ms. Crawford’s recommended price range of $450-$600 or $500-$700 per month, per unit is in that price range. He added that Mr. Tuomaala considered those recommendations when he developed his proposal. Mr. Czekaj added they have also discussed the two and three stores, and he believes there is somewhat of a consensus that if they build a three story and it has an attractive brick facade that it will not be as objectionable as opposed to vinyl siding, and would perhaps maximize the site even more.


Councilman Schmid believes a $10.0M project with rent as high as $700 is quite profitable with 190 units.


Mr. Klaver noted that they have conferred with Mr. Neiman and Mr. Bendzynski at approximately eight meetings and they are in support of the project.


Mr. Klaver believes most assume that the construction costs on a one story will be higher, but they are actually lower. He explained the one story units will help to fund the whole project because they are considered to be similar to a detached condo and they can charge higher rents which can keep the costs lower in the main building.


Mayor ProTem Crawford asked whether they have considered two stories? Mr. Klaver advised one program is a two story transition and he agrees it is an option that would provide for more units.


Mayor ProTem Crawford would like to make certain that they maintain the residential character of the neighborhood and if they go much higher than three stories the construction changes, the facade changes and therefore, they would create more of an institutional look instead of a residential look. In addition, the zoning ordinances would not permit that and they would have to ask for several variances. Mayor ProTem Crawford would not like to put the City in the position of granting themselves variances when they have denied those requests in other cases.


Mr. Klaver advised that they do need to rezone the property, but they will need a variance for the building length.


Councilwoman Lorenzo concurs with mayor ProTem Crawford’s comments. She added that she believes she could support the proposal, but she would not support adding more than three stories to maximize the site. She explained Council discourages that kind of building when a petitioner comes before them and she does not believe they should have a double standard. In fact, she advised that she has stated in the past that when the city is involved in a project that they need to lead by example and follow the ordinances. Councilwoman Lorenzo added that she believes the topography allows them to minimize the visual impact and as long as they do not compromise on green space and amenities, she will support the proposal.


Councilwoman Mutch appreciates Council’s concern of the neighboring residential community. Councilwoman Mutch reminded Council that she has said all along that they should construct the project in a park like setting. She added that she is not saying that they should add landscaping, but she believes they should work with what is there.


Mr. Czekaj believes there may be other senior projects in the future and therefore, the Building Authority would like to see this project go smoothly (i.e., funding, construction, relationship with surrounding neighbors, functionality, etc.) so that it will serve as a model to help make Council’s job easier.


Councilwoman Mutch believes they should also provide enough space for common areas and activity areas so the residents do not have to leave their own building for activities somewhere else. In addition, Councilwoman Mutch visualizes the building and the surrounding area being used by more than just the residents; she looks at it as an opportunity for interaction with the surrounding neighborhood.


Councilman Kramer’s concern about maximizing the site was to allow for a sufficient building size so they could provide the amenities. Councilman Kramer hopes they can achieve a stable economic project that will pay for itself and provide necessary amenities for its residents.


Mayor McLallen asked that they consider pedestrian pathways along Meadowbrook to Ten Mile Road. Councilwoman Mutch asked that the sidewalks be wide enough to accommodate walkers.


Mayor McLallen asked whether there is a time line in place? Mr. Klaver referred to the third page of the memo.


Mr. Klaver noted that the RM-1 zoning district does allow thirty feet and will require berming for a three story. He then noted that River Oaks Apartments was able to get a variance fairly easily.


Mayor McLallen asked whether RM-2 zoning would reduce the number of variances. Mr. Arroyo replied density under RM-1 specifies the number of rooms that are allowed and they are over that amount (464 rooms versus 395) in RM-1. He continued by stating that one alternative may be to go before the ZBA given the fact there was a land fill there or the other may be to rezone the property as RM-2. He noted that RM-2 is much more dense.


Mayor McLallen advised that there seems to be a consensus of Council about four main areas of concern. She explained the first concern is in regard to which zoning seems to be the most beneficial and which zoning will require the least amount of variances. Secondly, they would like to keep a residential look. The Mayor continued by stating that they would like to keep the number of units as high as possible within the parameters (190 to 200 units). Further, she advised that Council would like to see that they develop the site so that it retains much of the greenspace and includes amenities, but still keep the cost within the budget so that it remains affordable. The Mayor noted that because of the topography, there will be significant acreage that can be dedicated to greenspace and Council would like to see that come forward in the design plans.


Councilman DeRoche believes the construction schedule seems very ambitious and added he believes that logging the actual start from conceptual through planning and construction would be useful to Council. He explained they will then be able to see where delays may occur when they consider other senior projects.


Mr. Klaver pointed out that Mr. Tuomaala was the architect that designed the Freedom Square and Walden Woods senior projects if Council members would like to see some of his work.


Mayor McLallen noted that another issue is the containing of lights so that it diffuses on the site and not on the adjacent residential community.


Mr. Klaver reminded Council that the Building Authority held discussions with Holy Family and the homeowner’s association so they can be involved in the design process.


Councilman Kramer believes if the lighting requirement is not explicit, it may result with a light design that they do not like. Mr. Klaver believes having the one story units adjacent to the residential community will also help eliminate that problem.


Councilman Schmid asked how is the project funded? Mr. Kriewall advised that they will sell Building Authority bonds. However, he then noted the credit is limited and if it is unsuccessful, they can subsidize it with available millage.


Mark Sturing added that the committee wrestled with moving the activities that they currently provide at the Civic Center to the senior project and they would appreciate getting direction from Council because the Building Authority has not yet come to a consensus on that issue.


Mr. Czekaj added that another issue they wrestled with was, what is important? He explained they also need to determine what is affordable? He noted that Kathy Crawford has been very helpful in this process.


Councilwoman Mutch suggested that they may also need is a parallel planning effort from Parks and Recreation in terms of what the senior needs will be over the next ten to fifteen years. They would also need to determine how much of that they would want to keep in a centralized location and how much of that do they want to move to a satellite facility with the idea that every time they have another area, they will either have to depend on the current staff to take on that additional responsibility or they must expand the staff.


Mayor ProTem Crawford asked whether they have updated the Planning Commission on this project; he would like to include their ideas throughout the process.


Mr. Czekaj advised they have not yet updated the Planning Commission, but they plan to once they have a more official plan. Mr. Klaver interjected, Planning Commissioner Peter Hoadley has been very involved in the process.


Mayor ProTem Crawford suggested that they provide the Planning Commission with a written report or a presentation every few months.





There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m.







Mayor City Clerk


Transcribed by:






Barbara Holmes


Date Approved: July 6, 1998