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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor Pro Tem Bononi, Council Members Capello, Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo, Sanghvi
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING – 2003-2004 CITY OF NOVI BUDGET
Capital Improvements Program
Mr. Helwig began by reporting that, with the help of Kathy Smith-Roy and others, through funding the extra $509,000 needed to move the Meadowbrook Lake dredging project up to start the fiscal year by taking half of that from the 2003-2004 budget, and the other half from 2004-2005, the city can commence that project in this fiscal year. Administration is doing this with the acknowledgment that the city is bringing its drain fund balance below the $500,000 level. He said that if Council finds this acceptable, both projects can be initiated this year. He provided Council with estimated timetables for the projects.
Mr. Helwig said there is a Capital Improvements program Committee which met earlier in the year. Two members of Council and two members of the Planning Commission serve on the Committee. Their recommendations were included in the printed proposed budget document that was presented to Council on March 31. Late in March, the entire Planning Commission had the opportunity to review capital improvement initiatives, and they submitted their Planning Commission recommendations. There are some differences, which Kathy Smith-Roy highlighted in the attachment included in Council’s packet from the Council meeting of Monday, May 5. Administration would like some direction regarding the capital improvements program, including opinions and advice as to how to proceed.
Member Csordas recommended following the Capital Improvement Committee recommendations as Council also did last year, because that advice comes from an entity featuring equal representation from both the Planning Commission and City Council. The Committee performed the analysis and set the priorities, which is how the process should work. In the six years that Member Csordas has served on the Capital Improvements Committee, Council has followed the recommendations of the Committee. He noted that the recommendations of the Capital Improvements Committee have been funded in the budget, whereas the recommendations of the Planning Commission have not.
CM-03-05-143 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Landry; MOTION CARRIED: To accept the recommendations of the Capital Improvements Committee.
Member Sanghvi recommended highlighting the differences between the recommendations of the Planning Commission and the recommendations of the Capital Improvements Committee (CIP).
Ms. Smith-Roy started with the road projects. A main difference between the sets of recommendations was the timing of the projects. The Nine Mile Road rehabilitation program from Novi Road to Taft Road and the Nine Mile Road project from Beck Road to Napier Road were both changed in priorities. The priority for the CIP Committee was the Nine Mile Road Beck-Napier program which ranked 31st, while the Planning Commission ranked the same project higher for funding purposes. The CIP Committee did not rank the Nine Mile Road Novi-Taft project. The Planning Commission removed the Taft Road – Eleven Mile Road intersection signalization improvement. The biggest difference between the sets of recommendations is found in the sidewalks and non-motorized pathways recommendations. All of the sidewalks listed in administration’s recommendations were listed only by the Planning Commission. There are no differences between the recommendations regarding sanitary sewer projects, or the storm or water distribution systems. The CIP and Planning Commission ranked Parks, Recreation and Forestry projects differently, as the CIP ranked these improvements higher than the Planning Commission. Finally, the Planning Commission had a lower ranking than the CIP Committee on "other projects."
Member Landry asked if everything on the reconciliation worksheet located in the "2003-2004 Proposed" column is what the Planning Commission suggests the city spend this year, and that none are recommended by the CIP Committee for this year’s budget. Ms. Smith-Roy responded that most are not, though some of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry recommendations may have been shared. He asked if the Planning Commission recommends spending $896,000 on its recommended activities, which Ms. Smith-Roy answered was correct. Member Landry said that he too sits on the Capital Improvements Committee, and that while he appreciates all recommendations, he doesn’t find the Planning Commission’s recommendations realistic to fund.
Member Capello asked why the Planning Commission recommended that $50,000 be allocated towards construction of a stretch of sidewalk along Eleven Mile Road at the school property gap. Ms. McClain answered that the provided estimates for the sidewalks and motorized bike paths came from the input of a citizen, which were examined at a Master Plan Committee meeting. The Committee then brought the estimates to a Planning Commission meeting. Member Capello asked Ms. McClain if she knew the cost of constructing a one-foot length of five-feet-wide concrete sidewalk, assuming the city owns the property and needs no easements. Ms. McClain answered that based on recent bids for the project the installation costs for the noted sidewalk project would be approximately $15,000, not including design costs. Member Capello said this figure was more reasonable.
Member Sanghvi asked how the Planning Commission recommended budgeting funds for capital improvements projects, and was curious how the projects were prioritized. Ms. Smith-Roy answered that the funding situation and the reasoning behind the Commission’s project prioritization were explained at the first Planning Commission meeting. Following this presentation, the recommendations were sent to the Master Plan Committee, and these were later sent back down to the Planning Commission. Member Sanghvi asked if these recommendations were then those of both the Master Plan Committee and the Planning Commission. Ms. Smith-Roy answered that she believed this was correct, but she was not there for the meetings. Ms. McClain said she was in attendance at the Master Plan Committee meeting the night it met to discuss capital improvements recommendations. Most of the suggestions were individually recommended by members of the Planning Commission.
Member Sanghvi commented that the requested budget for neighborhood road repair was "quite a sum", and asked if there was a list of intended projects that corresponded with the budget request. Mr. Helwig answered that administration does have a list. In terms of funding, the road bond approved by the voters in November of 2000 approved 5 years at $1,080,000 per year for street repaving tasks. In addition to this, the city averages allocating $500,000 per year of its regular funds for street repaving projects. This is how a total of approximately $1,580,000 yearly for street repaving and repairs is reached. Ms. McClain said that in January, a proposal was compiled for needed roadway borings, which also required some of the requested funds. Member Sanghvi then asked what kind of road surface the city would provide. He commented that he did not want to see chip sealing of the city’s roads. Ms. McClain said that the road repaving projects would resurface roads with the same surface that they currently have, and that no roads would be chip sealed for the first time. The extent of the repairs will be part of the design firm’s recommendations, and will be examined. She can’t say with certainty that the city will be replacing the entire length of each marked roadway, but all the roadways will be repaired to a very high standard. Member Sanghvi asked for a firm commitment that the city would not use chip seal for road repairs. Ms. McClain answered that chip sealing is not an option for this program.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that the city is trying to put two capital improvement plans together, but is not supposed to do this. To enter into this discussion, pitting the CIP Committee against the Planning Commission is not relevant except where the plans parallel the city’s Master Plan of Development. Because Council is not required to accept the Commission’s recommendations, there is no reason to be arguing over the recommendations. From the standpoint of the capital improvements that administration is proposing, she has questions. She also questions how a number of the proposed projects align with Council goal priorities.
The Mayor Pro Tem’s first question concerned the widening of Meadowbrook Road from Grand River to Twelve Mile Roads, which will cost $1,021,000. This was not a Council priority with regards to this year’s or last year’s prioritized projects. Secondly, the city has a description of the project, which says that no additional accessories are being proposed for the road, including sidewalk, water and sewer, or signalization. She agreed that at some point this road widening would need to occur, to widen Meadowbrook to a 3-lane road. She has objections to working on the road with this particular budget because it isn’t listed as a Council priority, and the road widening would benefit commercial vendors and contractors, but not development. She is worried that the road will need further work, and that eventually accessories like water and sewer lines, signals, and other improvements will be needed on the road. She does want to see Meadowbrook Road improved, but as it comes online. She also says this because of unknown needs of access and signalization, which may reduce the benefit of spending a sum of money on road repairs.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi noted that she is only addressing administration’s capital improvement plans, and not the Planning Commission’s. Regarding the sidewalk on Napier Road, she feels this is a necessary project to undertake, but that the project requires a large sum of money to spend in a year when it may not yet be needed.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi pointed out that administration’s project recommendations included the construction of five 1.5-million-gallon storage tanks. She said some of her concerns would be eased if she knew these would not be elevated storage tanks. Mr. Helwig said that Council adopted a goal in February to analyze a number of situations, and that each storage tank would have to be individually determined and approved by Council. Though she acknowledges some water pressure issues confronting Novi, she said she did not understand why the storage tanks were proposed, and requested whatever report and feasibility study that has driven the recommendation for the tanks. She asked if Council did not yet have the report, which Mr. Helwig answered was correct. She asked when the report would be presented to Council. Ms. McClain said that a number of requests for the finalization of the report have been placed, but that she too has been frustrated by the uncompleted status of the report. She said that the storage tanks report is a planning document, and the city is trying to project what the community may be doing in future years so that administration can determine expenditures. Until the report is completed, none of the tanks can be planned and confirmed. Mayor Clark asked Mr. Helwig to send a letter to JCK, requesting the noted report immediately. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked when the report was due by agreement, which Ms. McClain answered was June, 2001. She advised informing JCK that if the report is not delivered in 30 days, that the city "cut bait" with the firm. Mr. Helwig said that administration would follow up with Council’s orders.
Member Capello asked for permission to speak regarding the report, which Mayor Pro Tem Bononi granted. Member Capello said that he believes there are reasons that the report which was due in June of 2001 has not yet been completed. He advised that before issuing the letter to JCK, Council should inquire why the delay has taken place, since so much time and money has already been invested in the completion of the report. Once the reason for the delay is learned, Council can act more appropriately in response. Mayor Clark said he is not suggesting that Council start from "square one" again and begin a completely new water study like the one that has been due for two years. He doesn’t feel anybody but JCK would know what information is lacking for the report completion. JCK knows where to find whatever information from the city that is required. Member Capello responded that he believes some of the delays are possibly due to information lacking from the Detroit Water and Sewer Department. If he recalls correctly, the pump station that was constructed caused some delays for the report as well. He suggests contacting JCK, investigating why such delays have occurred, and then taking proper action in response. Mayor Clark said that he is not adamant about the "fish or cut bait" language of a letter, but that two years overdue is a very long time.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that there is a differing element of satisfaction with non-performance. Her dissatisfaction with the report completion delay is complete. She asked Mr. Helwig if the city has previously requested the delivery of the product, which Mr. Helwig answered has been the case, and that administration has requested the water report "quite often." Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that 30 days to complete and deliver the report is enough time. Following a 2 year overdue period, 30 days is a reasonable time period in which to expect the report, or provide an explanation for why the report has not been finished.
CM-03-05-144 Moved by Bononi, seconded by Clark; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To invite a decision-making representative of JCK and Associates to the next meeting of the Council of the City of Novi, in order to explain the absence of the deliverable water report, and the projected date of its delivery.
Member Landry said that if there are legitimate reasons for JCK not producing the report, they should be well aware of what the reasons are, and a response should not take 30 days to submit. He will not support a motion requiring a report or response within 30 days, as the city has worked with JCK for many years. He suggests inviting JCK to the next Council meeting to update where the report is, and why Council has not received the report. At that time, if Council is not satisfied with the company’s reasoning, it can "cut bait". If Council is satisfied with JCK’s explanation, then the city can also act appropriately.
Member Sanghvi said he thought Council was discussing budget issues, and not the JCK relationship.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said she agreed with Member Landry about having a representative from JCK at the next Council meeting, as this would be within the 30 day time frame. She would amend the motion to invite a JCK representative of decision-making authority to the next Council meeting and explain the absence of the deliverable, and the projected date of its delivery.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-05-144 Yeas: Clark, Bononi, Capello, Csordas, Landry, Sanghvi
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that when the information is received with regard to the feasibility study, Council should add to an agenda that the matter be discussed entirely, particularly with regard to the feasibility study. This study can be referred to the Detroit Water Board, for their input on the city’s investment into the Detroit Water Board’s system. The dollars projected to spend until 2005-2006 are a considerable expenditure for the community. She has no problem with these matters being on the city’s capital improvements plan, as long as there is an understanding that Council can determine where the funding comes from. With those items, she has no objections to the remaining capital improvements proposals. She is not including the Planning Commission’s proposals in her recommendations.
Member Capello said he hoped that next year, the Capital Improvements Committee would consider installing sidewalks or non-motorized pathways across the Eleven Mile Road along the city’s parkland. In addition, a sidewalk needs to be installed along Napier Road, because Community Sports Park is developed. In regard to the roadways projects, he cannot support the previous speaker’s comments that it is not good planning to plan ahead to widen Meadowbrook Road between Grand River Road and Twelve Mile Road. Residents frequently complain about the traffic on Novi Road along the malls; now the city has improved Twelve Mile Road. To the west, the closest north-south connector road from Grand River to Twelve Mile is Beck Road. To the east, it is Meadowbrook. The city can alleviate a fair amount of the mall traffic by improving and widening Meadowbrook Road, and making it a road that citizens know as a back-way to the malls. This would benefit a number of citizens to the south of Grand River in getting to the mall, especially during the holiday seasons. To say that it is bad planning to not improve a road before it is congested and absolutely must be improved is good planning. He commends the Capital Improvements Committee in having this forethought.
Member Sanghvi said the only reason that he raised the Planning Commission recommendations as an issue is that they were mentioned; otherwise, he would not have said anything about them. He said that whether Council likes the recommendations or not, there is nothing wrong with mentioning them. He said that he agrees with Member Capello that Meadowbrook Road between Twelve Mile Road and the bridge to the south is in horrible condition. He noted that this road also directs traffic toward M-5. There is no reason why the city shouldn’t give some priority to resurfacing that road as well, even though the city cannot repair the bridge. He said that many more people use roads than sidewalks, and that projects are simply a question of prioritization. If the city doesn’t care about repairing its roads, it might as well forget about improving its infrastructure.
Mayor Clark said he agreed with Member Sanghvi and Member Capello. He can remember when he first moved to Novi in 1979. He would drive up Meadowbrook Road to Twelve Mile, which was a two-lane road at that time. The intersection did not even have a traffic light. During the busy shopping season, one could wait as long as five minutes just to turn left onto Twelve Mile Road from Meadowbrook, which was a very hazardous situation. While Twelve Mile Road has now been improved, improvements are now needed on Meadowbrook, and planning ahead makes good sense. He agrees with Mayor Pro Tem Bononi, relative to looking at those items and water storage facilities. Beyond this, he supports the work and recommendations of the Capital Improvements Committee. He is not un-mindful of the concerns of the Planning Commission as well, but a limited amount of resources are available at this time. The recommendations of the Capital Improvements Committee make great sense. In later years, some of the Planning Commission’s items can be further examined. Especially with neighborhood roads, which the city spends more than twice as much repairing than in any time in the past following the passage of bond issues, residents have been looking for these repairs for a very long time. He supports the motion relative to the capital improvements for the coming year, and joins with the Mayor Pro Tem in her reference to the water study and storage tanks.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi noted that the Meadowbrook Road improvements will cost more than $1,000,000. She said that a million dollars could go far in achieving other Council goals. The properties along this road were re-zoned as part of a city initiative. Now the city feels compelled to "put the frosting on the cupcake" at taxpayer expense. Improving Meadowbrook Road does not represent good planning, when not even half of the needed improvements of that road could be made with the money. She is looking for a cooperative effort between those who will occupy spaces and the City, and how Council can make improvements for the benefit of all without sending another bill to taxpayers. She objects to the $1,020,000 cost.
Member Csordas said that improvements to Meadowbrook Road are an issue of public safety, as the road is beyond a state of disrepair. He agreed with Member Capello’s comments that Meadowbrook Road could be a safe and fluid thoroughfare from the southeastern portion of the city to the major shopping area, and possibly a shortcut to avoid some of Novi Road. He feels that the road is a strong concern of the city’s residents, and warrants its prioritization for improvement funding.
Member Sanghvi said that all the citizens of Novi that use Meadowbrook Road are entitled to the relief of road improvements, and it is not their fault that new developments have further damaged the road. He has been using the road since 1973. The city has a responsibility to maintain the road.
Member Landry said it would be optimum to have the businesses that develop along any particular road pay for improvements on that road. This is a very nice planning technique if the timing is right. However, if the road is in such a condition, and the residents are to be served, perhaps the city should "take the bull by the horns" and make the improvement now. He agrees with Member Sanghvi that people use the road far more than the people who are located on it. For this reason, the condition of the road, he supports improving the road for the use of all the residents of the city right now.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-05-143 Yeas: Capello, Csordas, Landry, Sanghvi, Clark
Planning Commission Master Plan Studies and Budget Requests
Mr. Helwig said that this topic was broached at the last Saturday Council work session, where it was identified for further discussion at this meeting. There are requests for studies by the Planning Commission that have not been funded in the proposed budget. This is not because they do not have merit, but is because they came in after the budget went to press. There is $27,000 in additional studies that were added to the requested budget, plus another $11,500 in emerging issues account, for a total of $38,500 that has been recommended by the Planning Commission that has not been funded in the current proposed budget. There are some other Planning Commission budget requests that Mr. Evancoe can help walk Council through.
Ms. Smith-Roy noted that the two big areas of differences were the $11,500 for the emerging issues, which were intended to help fund some costs relating to the Master Plan. Total expenditures for the Master Plan are anticipated to be approximately $20,000, but only $11,500 is needed for the current year, with the remaining money coming from next year’s budget. She said that Mr. Evancoe could provide further details and answers regarding the additional studies.
Mr. Evancoe said that the Planning Commission is hoping to embark in earnest on an update to the Master Plan for Land Use within the next year. This is a process that is recommended to occur every five years by most planners. The Planning Commission has proposed a number of studies, some of which are already approved as part of the Growth Management Plan. In addition to these already funded studies, there are other studies that are necessary for updating the Master Plan. These are the Demographic Profile, the Build-out Profile, Greenways, Natural Features, and Land Use Analysis. The Demographic Profile is a study that looks at both historical and future projected demographic data, similar to information gathered and analyzed by the U.S. Census and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). The Build-out Profile looks at the community in its built-out eventuality, anticipating what the community might look like, where it would be developed, and how it would be developed. The Greenways Plan is one that the Planning Commission added, recognizing the need for linkages throughout our community and with other communities. A narrow definition has not been given to "greenways" with this plan yet – they can be anything from a walking trail or bike path along a road way, or an opening along a creek bed that may not have an actual trail but functions as a green linkage. The Natural Features Study looks at the natural features of the community, primarily wetlands and woodlands, and relates those components to the overall study of land use. Finally, the Land Use Analysis is likely the most comprehensive of all the studies, and looks at the various components of the city’s land use makeup, such as housing/residential, office, industrial, commercial, and institutional land uses, and would result in a new Master Plan for Land Use map. A component of the Land Use Analysis is the Master Plan and Zoning Committee wants to complete very detailed studies of certain areas, such as the property near Target where Catholic Central will locate. The analysis of these areas would eventually end up in the overall document.
Member Landry said there is no question that the Master Plan Update is crucial for the city, especially as it moves towards build-out. The city doesn’t have much time, so if the Planning Commission needs another $27,000, he supports providing the needed tools for the Planning Commission.
Member Csordas agreed with Member Landry, but suggested that "conferences and workshops" line item of $9900 should be reduced to the same as City Council, which is $1000. Last year Council required all departments to reduce their conferences and workshops budgets as a matter of fiscal responsibility, and $1000 should be enough for certain members of the Commission to attend meetings, then come back and share information with the other members. He noted that the additional budget request is a 50% increase over the original proposed budget. He asked Mr. Evancoe for a clearer definition of the Build-out Profile. Mr. Evancoe responded that the community is approaching the point of being "built-out" within the next 20 years or less. The idea of the Build-out Profile is to anticipate what the community will look like, what kind of population demographics it will have at that point, what kinds of public services will be needed for a population of 70,000-80,000, if there will be increased needs for public facilities like schools and recreation facilities, and others. Member Csordas asked if the Master Plan for Land Use also describes what the city might be like. Mr. Evancoe answered that this was correct, but that the Built-out Profile is a more focused study on that particular topic. Member Csordas asked Mr. Evancoe if he supported the study, which Mr. Evancoe said he did. Member Csordas said this was sufficient for him. He asked what the purpose of the Natural Features Study was, and if it had been done before. Member Csordas commented that he can’t imagine what’s changed since the last study. Mr. Evancoe answered that development in the community has had an impact on the city’s natural features. The study is an evaluation of where Novi’s natural features are, and what condition they are in. Fortunately, Oakland County just completed a study called "A Ranking of Environmental Areas" which the city can hopefully use as well. Member Csordas asked if Mr. Evancoe had any idea when the last Natural Features study was conducted, which Mr. Evancoe answered was around 1999. Member Csordas asked what that study cost, which Mr. Evancoe said was $14,813. Member Csordas said that a Natural Features study from only two or three years ago provided sufficient information, and that a new study was not needed.
Member Csordas asked what effect the Land Use Analysis would have on the city’s planning activities. Mr. Evancoe said this is the "meat" of the report, and that this is where land uses are truly evaluated for growth management purposes, among other things. Member Csordas said it sounded like Mr. Evancoe supports the Land Use Analysis, which Mr. Evancoe replied was definitely correct.
Member Csordas said he would like to reduce the conferences and workshops budget from $9900 to $1000, and he is concerned about the Natural Features study and would like to delete this from the revised proposed budget. Other than these two revisions, he too supports the revised budget request.
Member Capello agreed with Members Landry and Csordas that if Council wants a good job done by the Planning Commission, then the Commission needs to the money to do it with. He does have some concerns with the revised proposed budget, however. He feels that the conferences and workshops item should be cut to $1000 funding, both because the city does need to cut costs, and because planning conference materials are often directed towards the state and are of little use in application to Novi. He feels that money would better be spent to increase funding for briefing and education, from $1500 up to $3000. He wants to give the Planning Commission the money that it needs, but he doesn’t understand the need for a community demographic profile. He said that demographics should be easy to estimate with the expensive types of residential properties being developed in the city.
Member Capello fully supports the Build-out Profile funding request. He recalled that the city conducted a Greenways Plan in 1993 or 1994, and that the plan was "nixed" following safety concerns and complaints from residents involving easements and trespassing issues. He doesn’t want to repeat history, and feels that perhaps Mr. Auler in Parks, Recreation and Forestry should handle this as a recreation issue next year. He questioned the need to spend $10,000 on a Natural Features Study, because most of the city’s more undeveloped areas have been fully studied, and the less-studied areas are nearly built-out. Member Capello agreed that the Land Use Study is very important, but said the city knows the uses of most land parcels. He suggested removing Land Use Analysis out from the budget request, or reducing funding to about $6,000, but still providing some funding should the Commission need to study specific parcels of land.
Member Sanghvi said that conferences and workshops are not only social events, but should also be educational. If the city will have a new group of people joining the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and the Planning Commission, it is vital that these people are attending these meetings. He said that he learned quite a bit about the ZBA and related issues by attending conferences, and called it "short-sighted" to remove this opportunity for new members of these entities.
Member Sanghvi said that on the surface, it might appear both administration and Council know everything that is needed for planning purposes in the city. He noted that Novi is an ever-changing city, and that more studies are needed to better understand changes that will occur in the future. He said that complaining about small budget requests for one or two thousand dollars is "nitpicking".
Member Lorenzo said that nitpicking over sums of a few thousand dollars is significant to the taxpayers of Novi. She is concerned with the lack of information that Council has received regarding these studies. She agrees that some of the proposed studies may be unnecessary, particularly the demographic profile, since Novi receives a significant amount of demographic information from other sources like SEMCOG. She said that a Build-out Profile would be part of a land use analysis. She said that a Build-out Profile would be a component of a completed Master Plan, both from a land use perspective and an economic impact perspective. She agreed that a Natural Features Study was not needed with the recent information available from the previous Study, and that needed information could be easily adjusted or investigated. She said that the Greenways plan has been shown not to work in Novi and that financial considerations are limiting sidewalk repairs and construction within the city, let alone connecting Novi with other areas. She agrees that a Land Use Analysis is very important, but can’t justify the requested funding for that study because most of the work would be done "in-house". If the study is going to be done by paid city employees, she doesn’t see the need for additional funding. If the study would be performed by an external source, she would want to see an itemized estimated cost list for the study so that Council can more exactly fund the work. She also questioned how much of the in-house work could be properly coordinated with other responsibilities, and noted that the work might be more easily done by a company. She requested a further outline from Mr. Evancoe highlighting detailed costs, coordination, different components, and a deliverable date.
Member Lorenzo said that she had spoken with two Planning Commissioners today, and was told that some studies recommended by the Planning Commission could be duplicative and possibly combined. The Planning Commission had not had much time to consider its own recommendations, and was possibly not "wed" to all of those recommendations. She supports a reduction for the conferences and workshops item. The most important conferences and workshops are the basic planning, zoning and ZBA workshops. She thinks these should be a requirement for new members on these boards and commissions. She said that a number of worthwhile conferences and educational sessions are held in Novi and the surrounding area during the year, and that while some conferences around the country and state might be of value, only a few members need to attend these.
CM-03-05-145 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Bononi; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To modify the Planning Commission’s revised budget request, to reduce the Conferences and Workshops budget item to $1000; increase in-house education funding to $3000; further define the Land Use Analysis/Build-out Profile and itemize its cost; remove the Natural Features study; removing the Greenways plan; incorporate the Build-out Profile as a component of the Land Use Analysis with funding of $25,000; and remove the Demographic Profile.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi also questioned the Natural Features study. She said that many local communities that are investing in Natural Features studies are also investing in the concept of Natural Features ordinances. These ordinances replace traditional woodlands and wetlands ordinances. She said that the city is already working to track its woodlands and wetlands to some degree. If the city is going to stick with its current wetlands and woodlands ordinances, she does not see the need to proceed with the Natural Features study. She asked Mr. Evancoe if the Natural Features study was his wish, or that of the Planning Commission. Mr. Evancoe answered that the study is a request from the Planning Commission. He said that the two maps (woodlands and wetlands) need to be brought up-to-date. Fortunately, the city has an easier ability to create these maps with newer GIS technologies. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked if these maps should have a separate line item. She asked if other data sources such as MIRIS databases can be used to update the city’s natural features maps. Mr. Evancoe answered that MIRIS and other sources can be used. The Natural Features Study was proposed because of their high perceived value to the community.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked if the $20,000 Land Use Analysis would utilize outside help in its compilation. Mr. Evancoe said that the Planning Commission is considering the use of a combination of city staff and consultants. The Mayor Pro Tem asked how many planners the city has, or will have at full complement. Mr. Evancoe answered that the city employs three planners right now. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that the city should absorb all of the work for the Analysis, since it has three planners and Mr. Evancoe. Mr. Evancoe responded that the Planning Department wants to as much as possible of the work
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that she is not convinced that what the city is truly working on is a growth management plan. She doesn’t know how the Master Plan will work with a $32,100 expenditure. She asked Mr. Evancoe how he knew that the plan could be done for that sum. Mr. Evancoe said that the request was actually for $42,100, and this was to complete the four studies. He said that if the city just completes the four independent studies, it doesn’t have a Growth Management Plan – it just has four studies. His intention is to knit the studies together as they near completion to compile the Growth Management Plan. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said she is not optimistic about the compilation of the Growth Management Plan. She said that the Growth Management Plan and its studies should then be considered an amendment to the Master Plan. Mr. Evancoe said that the Planning Commission also saw the studies this way, and listed them as part of the Master Plan update, and not separately as Growth Management. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that a budget proposal item was "engineering, wetlands, and facade", for $5,000 each. She asked why the Planning Department was budgeting for engineering efforts. Mr. Evancoe said that engineering is a major component of site plan reviewing, and that occasionally some tasks may need to be out-sourced to a private firm. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked why engineering work would need to be completed by a consulting company when the city employs an Engineering Department. Mr. Evancoe said that outside engineering help was actually being reduced substantially from years past. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that the city lacked the professional capabilities in the past that it currently has, and that the Planning Department and Engineering Departments need to learn to function without as much outside help.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked why the Planning Commission requested $80,000 for funding "woodlands – outside services". She said that next year the city will have a landscape consulting firm on-board, and an additional in-house position. She asked why the Commission wanted $80,000 more for woodlands activities. Mr. Evancoe said that the "woodlands – outside services" were needed because these activities were done by Elaine Grehl on a temporary basis, but that these duties would be outsourced for the time being. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked Mr. Evancoe if he was trying to say that the landscape architect position is being funded only out of the Planning Commission’s budget. Mr. Evancoe said this was correct, and this is what was implied by "outside services".
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that she understands the city needs a traffic engineer, but she is not looking for any other planning consultancy fees to be included with this. Mr. Evancoe said that the noted line item could be renamed, and that the word "planning" could be removed from the item. The Mayor Pro Tem said that the number with regard to traffic is suitable, because this is much less than last year’s budget request. Also, she agrees with the suggestion by another member of Council that the Emerging Issues line should be in the Planning Commission budget. The Planning Commission should have something to study emerging issues with as they are presented to the Commission, and thus this line should be included for the Planning Commission budget.
Mr. Pearson said that the items that are described for outside services, the engineering, wetlands, façade, these are for charges that can’t be charged to a project, attending our coordination meetings weekly, working on ordinances – this is exclusively outside services which are charged to this account. The additional position that has approved tentatively in the budget is working with Mr. Printz in the field, working with public street trees, on parkland areas, tree trimming and maintenance, but does not have to do with our woodlands regulation or site plan review. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked why this item is not being charged to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department budget, instead of the Planning Commission’s. She said that she is looking for "true costs", and would like to see some of this budgeting re-arranged for next year.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that what she is looking for is to remove the $20,000 Land Use Analysis cost, to eliminate the façade item, to change the connotation of "Planning and Traffic Studies" to just "Traffic", to take the Emerging Issues $10,000 item out of the Planning Department and place it with the Planning Commission budget, and eliminate the Natural Features Study.
Member Capello asked if Council and administration were examining the same document, Attachment B. Mayor Clark answered that this was correct. Member Capello asked to clarify the motion. He said that Council is deleting $6,000 for the Demographic Profile, $6,000 for the Greenways Plan, $10,000 for a Natural Features Study, and $20,000 for Land Use Analysis. Council is also amending the funding for Conferences and Workshops from $9900 to $1000. Member Lorenzo said that she did not propose a specific reduction for this item, but said she only wants the item reduced significantly. She said that reducing the funding to $1000 was suitable to her. Member Capello asked to add a friendly amendment to her motion that Conferences and Workshops funding be reduced to $1000. He also proposed increasing funding for in-house education from $1500 to $3000. He said that the city needs to budget for Land Use Special Studies, but not under Master Plan Update Studies, instead under a separate item Land Use Special Studies, $5,000 or $6,000. He asked if, before he added the last item, if the other amendments he proposed were satisfactory to Member Lorenzo, which Member Lorenzo said was fine. Member Lorenzo stated that she believed that the Land Use Special Studies item should be grouped under Emerging Issues. Member Capello then asked if Council would increase Emerging Issues funding from $11,500 to $21,500, and delete it from Planning. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said no. Member Capello then asked if Council intends to move the $10,000 budgeted for the Planning Department to the Planning Commission, or if the intention is to eliminate that $10,000 from the budget. Member Lorenzo replied that the intention was to move that funding to the Planning Commission. Member Capello stated that if the $10,000 intended for the Planning Department was moved to the Planning Commission and added to the $11,500 budgeted for the Commission already, then it would have $21,500 for Emerging Issues. He then asked if the $11,500 was still being budgeted for the Planning Commission, but the $10,000 request for the Planning Department was simply being removed, which both Member Lorenzo and Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said was correct. Member Capello said that $4900 was being budgeted for conferences and workshops for the Planning Department, and asked if that much money is necessary. The Planning Department staff should be more educated than the Planning Commission members, and should need less educating. He suggested reducing the funding for this category to only $2,000, in case some conferences were necessary for department heads to travel to. Member Lorenzo implied that she would be agreeable to this. Member Capello asked if the additional $80,000 request for "woodlands – outside services" would be paid in addition to the fees for work on a project-by-project basis. Mr. Pearson said this was correct. Member Capello asked if that $80,000 would be used to pay a part-time person, which Mr. Pearson said was not correct. Mr. Pearson said the $80,000 would be paid to a consulting company for their assistance throughout the year. Member Capello asked if the company would be providing someone throughout the year on a 40-hour-a-week basis. Mr. Pearson replied no. He said that the consultant would be hired for a part-time basis. Member Capello asked if this part-time basis did not include the review of projects, which Mr. Pearson said was correct. Member Capello asked how much it would cost to hire a full-time employee to perform this additional service. Mr. Pearson said that last year’s woodland technician proposal was on the magnitude of $60,000.
Member Landry said he would respectfully not support the motion. He said that Council has "gutted" what the Planning Commission requested for funding, as Council is about to remove 4 out of 5 studies that the Commission asked for. He could support deleting the Natural Features Study, as it was recently done. He could support reducing the conferences and workshops budget to only $2,000, but he cannot support the other proposed cuts.
Member Sanghvi said that he could not support the motion. Dr. Sanghvi said that keeping a person healthy does not mean conducting a blood test this year, and waiting until next year to do a cholesterol test. He said that all the proper testing must be done to ensure the city’s health as well. The city is living, thriving, advancing and growing – not something that is static. He said that just because a person’s blood sugar might have been 100 three years ago does not mean that they are not diabetic today. The city must do recurrent, continuous studies to see which way the city is going, how it should be monitored, and how to examine things. He is totally opposed to the proposed cuts, because they are "penny wise, but dollar foolish."
Mayor Clark said that he shares the concern of Member Landry, but he sees some items as able to be deleted. He said that the demographic profile can be eliminated because the city receives good information from SEMCOG and the U.S. Census. He said that the concept of a Greenways plan is nice, but that the original plan was a firestorm. The concept of putting pathways through peoples’ backyards creates huge concerns for parents of children. He also didn’t see the need for a Natural Features Study. Other than this, he can support the balance of the motion. He does believe the city needs the Land Use Analysis Study, because the city has to comply with the state’s Coordinated Planning Act. He can support the other proposals, but cannot support the motion as it is currently framed.
Member Lorenzo said she believes the Land Use Analysis should be left in the motion, but she questions how much money is really needed to conduct the analysis. She said that if Mr. Evancoe’s plan is to perform most of the work for that analysis in-house, then the Planning Department should not need $20,000 in extra funding to conduct the work. She was looking for clarification on this issue, because she feels that Council needs further information. On the other hand, if the department is going to hire an outside source like Birchler Arroyo, then additional money might be needed, but she is curious how much money would then be required. She would like to leave that study in, but leave the funding amount open. If Mr. Evancoe can later clarify what his intentions are, such as how the work will be distributed, then Council can decide upon the issue at that point.
Member Csordas said that he cannot support the current motion, but he would still like to see the Natural Features Study removed from the revised budget. He would also like the conferences and workshops item still reduced to $1000. He also does not support funding the Demographic Profile and the Greenways Plan, but said that the other cuts are "too much." He supports funding both the Land Use Analysis and the Build-out Profile. Member Capello said that Member Lorenzo has not deleted the Build-out Profile. Member Lorenzo noted that she wanted to combine the Build-out Profile with the Land Use Analysis. Member Capello asked Member Csordas if his only contention with the motion was the Land Use Analysis. Member Csordas said he supposed so, but requested a re-reading of the motion for clarification. Member Lorenzo said that the Land Use Analysis was still included in the budget motion and had not been deleted. Member Lorenzo said the only question is whether the Land Use Analysis work will be done in-house with staff, or contracted out to another source, like Birchler Arroyo. Member Capello said that as of right now, the Land Use Analysis was still included in the budget. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said the Analysis was not included, because if the work was to be done in-house then the funding would be absorbed by the Planning Department. Member Lorenzo said that she was willing to leave the $20,000 figure for the Land Use Analysis and Build-out Profile, but wants further clarification from Mr. Evancoe as to how he intends to distribute the work for the Analysis, before voting on the budget. Mayor Clark invited Mr. Evancoe to clarify the Planning Department’s intentions. Mr. Evancoe stated that he anticipated most of the Land Use Analysis being conducted externally by a consultant, based on other aspects of the Master Plan that he believes will be done in-house. In almost every instance, he sees the Analysis as being a joint-effort between city planners and a consulting company. The city needs more help with such issues as projections, facilitating some public processes, trend analysis, and cost-benefit analysis. The city needs more help with some aspects of the Analysis than others, but will remain involved with all aspects to some degree. The last time a Land Use Analysis was prepared for the existing Master Plan, $52,664 was spent. He said that while a $20,000 cost seems expensive, the Planning Department is attempting to be very conservative in their requests.
Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that there were several people who were on the Planning Commission at the time of the last Land Use Analysis who questioned the amount that the study cost at that time. She asked Mr. Evancoe to describe his staff as "long-range planners", "current planners", or something else. Mr. Evancoe said his three planners are Barbara McBeth, Tim Schmitt, and Darcy Schmitt. Barbara and Tim are exclusively current planners, which entails processing land use applications, reviewing site plans, rezoning, ordinance amendments, and other similar issues. Darcy Schmitt is the city’s newest planner who just recently began. She will be doing primarily, but not exclusively, long-range planning activities. He sees her time being split about 75% long-range planning, 25% current planning. Mr. Evancoe said that he is involved primarily with long-range planning, although most of his job entails administration activities. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi asked Mr. Evancoe to confirm that he has two full-time long-range planners when he needs them, but the second long-range planner reverts to being a current planner whenever she is not needed for long-range planning. Mr. Evancoe replied that this is correct. Mayor Pro Tem Bononi said that she believes the Planning Department can do the needed work in-house.
Member Capello said that Member Landry’s comments made him review some items. When the first budget was proposed to Council, the Planning Commission requested $32,100 for the Growth Management Plan. The Commission provided a broken-down layout of the cost structure for this plan, but then informed Council that the Master Plan’s 5 year period was due for updating, and the Commission needed the tools for this project. Member Capello said that Council is giving the Commission $15,000 for a Build-out Profile, along with what the Commission was going to utilize out of the Growth Management Plan to update the Master Plan. He is still of the opinion that the studies (Demographic Profile, Greenways Plan, Natural Features Study) are not needed, and he is wavering on the Land Use Analysis, and he believes that the Planning Commission needs more than $15,000 additional to complete the update of the Master Plan. He suggested as a friendly amendment accepting Member Lorenzo’s proposed merger of the Build-out Profile with the Land Use Analysis, but increasing funding for the Analysis from $15,000 up to $25,000, so that the Commission can out-source some items if needed. Member Lorenzo agreed to this friendly amendment.
Member Sanghvi noted that Council spent much less time debating whether to spend more than $1,000,000 improving Meadowbrook Road, but spent much more time debating whether to spend much less money on the Master Plan update. He asked Mr. Evancoe for an explanation of the difference between a Planning Department analysis and end product, and an independent firm’s analysis and end product. Mr. Evancoe said his observation has been that doing work in-house can often produce a better product than by hiring an external firm. Member Sanghvi asked Mr. Evancoe if he believes that a general practitioner has a better understanding of a certain problem than a specialist in that field. Mr. Evancoe responded that he would never attempt to take on something that he was not qualified to do, such as a biological wetlands study, but he feels that the Novi Planning staff is as qualified to handle planning issues as a private firm. Member Sanghvi asked Mr. Evancoe if there is a difference in objectivity between people working for him, and people employed by an independent firm. Mr. Evancoe answered that he doesn’t believe that there would be a difference in objectivity, but that in some ways the studies should not be entirely objective. He said that in-house employees have a greater vested interest in the outcome of a planning document than a consultant. He said that "objectivity is good, but it’s more important to have your heart into it." Member Sanghvi asked why Council had been discussing the need to fund outsourcing of work for the Planning Commission and Planning Department, if the needed work could be done in-house.
Member Csordas said that Member Sanghvi was correct that Council had spent a great deal of time discussing the Planning Commission, but that there were approximately 26 years’ worth of Planning Commission experience on Council, so planning is something that is clearly quite important to Council members. Member Sanghvi agreed, and replied that he wants to be sensible, and "get on with the topic."
Ms. Smith-Roy said that $25,000 would be added to the proposed budget for the Land Use Analysis/Build-out Study, reduce funding for the "Conferences and Workshops" item in the Planning Commission’s budget by $8900, and increase funding for "Emerging Issues" in the Planning Commission’s budget by $11,500. The Greenways Plan, the Natural Features Study, and the Demographic Profile were in the supplement that the Planning Commission was bringing to Council after the budget was proposed. Member Capello noted that two items were also changed for the Planning Department’s budget: the Conferences item was reduced in funding to $2000, and the Emerging Issues item was removed.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-05-145 Yeas: Capello, Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo, Sanghvi, Clark, Bononi
Other - None
Wayne Hogan, 20923 Woodland Glen, agrees that conferences and workshops are essential and that funds should be available for people to attend workshops. He expects that when the city does business with hotels and businesses, they are expected to be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He said that he sometimes notices conferences being held at hotels which are not fully compliant with the ADA, and lack some necessities for persons with disabilities. He said that there are some non-compliant hotels in the city. The city wouldn’t do business with a company that had been expelled from the Chamber of Commerce, and the city should expect the same from its local businesses. He finished by stating that Council is better incorporating citizen feedback into the construction of its policies and decisions than in the past.
ADJOURNMENT 9:13 p.m.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by: Steve King