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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo – absent/excused, Nagy, Paul
ALSO PRESENT Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Gerald Fisher – City Attorney
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
Brian Coburn – City Engineer
Randy Auler – Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-03-12-400 Moved by Landry, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as presented.
Voice Vote on CM-03-12-400 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Planning Commission Chair Gwen Markham stated that through the hard work and good faith cooperation of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, the Planning Commission, the Mayor and City Council, City staff, and Singh Development, this development agreement and RUD were created. In her opinion, the potential benefit to the City-at-large is enormous. As the agreement implies, the end result is greater than the sum of the parts, which is a win-win. She believed the proposed housing development and the 208-acre park that will be created will achieve several of the primary goals in the current master plan. First, Singh Development is donating 73 acres of property to the City. This supports the City’s goal of acquiring additional parkland. By combining this 73 acres with the adjacent 135 acres of City-owned land, the second-largest public park in the City will be created. Creation of the trail system on the western upland portions of the 208 acres will allow citizens to enjoy the beautiful new park, yet it will protect and leave undisturbed over 150 acres of the core reserve, the most sensitive environmental area in the City. Protection of the core reserve is a primary goal of the City’s master plan. 439 homes on 536 acres results in an overall density very close to the master plan of 0.8 units per acre for that property. This, coupled with the proposed Ten Mile greenbelt, supports the City’s goal of keeping the western part of the City open and rural in nature. She thanked City Manager Rick Helwig, Barb McBeth, Randy Auler, and the rest of the City staff for their hard work in support of this plan. She also thanked Mr. Mike Kahm, Mr. Khanh Pham, and the other representatives of Singh Development for their willingness to be open to this opportunity. Many of the citizens of Novi live in neighborhoods built by Singh Development, and now all Novi residents will be able to enjoy a new City park because of their willingness to give back to the community in a unique way. This is a day for citizens of Novi to feel very proud. She urged the City Council to vote in favor of the plan.
Steve Adams, Trustee of Lyon Township, said that with him was Ray Biseo, another Trustee. He said he wished to discuss a common problem that the area’s communities will all have with new developments. Currently, Ten Mile Road carries 16,200 cars a day. With the developments that are currently on the board in Lyon Township, within the next 4 years, there will be an additional 23,000 cars added to that number, meaning 38,000. The proposed 400-home development would make the road nothing but gridlock. He said that South Lyon, Lyon Township, and Novi, must work with the State to make Ten Mile a four lane road to prevent what will be the worst road in Oakland County. He noted that Council Member Bob Gatt was at a meeting with State Senator Nancy Cassis along with himself and Mr. Biseo, and they will form a committee to help the area convince the State that within four years that road will need to be ready, or the three communities will have nothing but gridlock.
David Ruyle, 40474 Mill Road Court East, echoed everything that Ms. Markham had said, that this is a win-win situation for the City. He commended whoever in administration was responsible for sending the Planning Commission the packet of information for this special meeting, as it is very important that the leadership of the City know what is going on.
David Staudt, 23715 Nilan, noted that he is a Novi Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commissioner, and said that the past Thursday evening his Commission had unanimously approved a recommendation to Council to approve the agreement. It is very important the City is able to achieve the requirements of the 5-year plan that was just approved, and this proposal goes a long way towards doing that. The Commission had quite a discussion on the topic, and this is something that will benefit the community tremendously.
Charles Kopeika, 23479 Whitehall Drive, noted that he was also a Novi Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commissioner. He concurred with Commissioner Staudt’s statement that the proposal fits nicely into the 5-year plan that the Commission had previously reviewed with the City Council. The 73 acres of land donation is very positive for the City. He recommended that the other 135 acres of City property be designated as parkland, as this could be considered a passive/active park facility for the City with the construction of the trail by the developer.
John Foley, 24930 Delmont Drive, concurred that traffic would be a problem. He would rather see the money for trails set aside for road improvements. Parks are important, but roads are a very high priority in the City to improve. He felt the City should do more to improve roads. If the developer is willing to put up $1 million, this should go for road improvements.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
Consideration of Zoning Map Amendment No. 18.632, a request of Singh Development to rezone 324.95 acres located in Section 30 on the south side of Ten Mile Road and east of Napier Road, from R-A (Residential Acreage) to R-1 (One-Family Residential) with a development agreement and a Residential Unit Development agreement. The subject area includes the property currently known as the Links of Novi.
Robert Carson, on behalf of Singh Development Company, said that when Singh had come before Council the last time, they were directed to go back and negotiate with the City. The company had done this and tried to be as accommodating as possible. The contributions of the developer and the limitations on density were set forth in the memorandum of the City Manager. The agreements are very detailed in nature, as are the layouts and the contributions. The unit density is capped; the general layout is provided for that density of 439 units. This has the trailhead improvements, the trail improvements, and the road improvements all set forth in detail, along with the contribution toward a maintenance fund for the system.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Helwig to provide an executive summary of his December 10th memo to City Council.
Mr. Helwig said that the City staff reviewed Council’s policy comments and direction, as well as Planning Commission recommendations. It was clear to administration that the overriding community benefit that could be achieved from this development was construction of the trail. The development agreement that Council was viewing on November 24th had a combination of in-kind and cash from the developer totaling up to $65,000 for that purpose. What administration was now bringing to Council, after very challenging negotiations, is the construction of the trail from near the Fire Station, proceeding south through the City’s land and crossing over into the donated 73 acres, proceeding south and southwest to the southwest corner of the City’s southerly 57 acres. The petitioner’s engineer documented for administration that Wednesday that the trail length is closer to a mile and a quarter long. The value of the trail, if the City were to construct it, is closer to $1 million to $1.25 million, since the length has been increased by a quarter of a mile. This is the overriding community benefit brought back to Council for its consideration. Though roads are always a concern to the community, in this instance, this is the choice that was brought back to Council based upon the direction that administration felt it had heard.
Mr. Helwig said that the property proposed for donation to the City as parkland had been expanded from the original 65 acres westward to go over to the collector road, which will be another nice access to the greenspace, and this property is now 73 acres. The parkland would now encompass 208 acres instead of the 200 acres which Council saw previously.
Mr. Helwig said that administration was delighted during a hike with its wetlands consultant, Don Tilton, and Singh’s wetlands consultant, Mr. Woody Helb. They found the route which has very little impact on wetlands, and as a consequence very little boardwalk. The vast majority can be asphalt which will not be wet much of the year, significantly reducing the maintenance need. The City wanted Singh to come forward and start a trail maintenance fund, as this was important to City Council, and administration agreed on $45,000 to bring forward for Council’s consideration for that purpose. What had been in the November 24th agreement regarding traffic signalization was $120,000 to do one full traffic signal at the westerly entrance to the Quail Hollow development, and this would also serve the entrance to Island Lake immediately across. What administration emphasized was that it needed the existing light at Ten Mile and Wixom Roads converted to left-turn signals. The lanes exist, and quite possibly the Road Commission will ask them to make those longer-cue left-turn lanes, but to add the left-turn arrows to facilitate traffic going onto and from Wixom Road. Singh has agreed to this, which is probably another $55,000 that the City has received from Singh in the course of the negotiations.
Mr. Helwig stated that in the process of negotiations, Singh is entitled to an RUD density bonus. The City has limited the increase over the 428 housing units proposed on November 24th to 11, to 439. A memorandum from Barb McBeth showed that the bonus range could go all the way up to 470. Administration was not happy with increasing that density at all, and went into the negotiations wanting to go from 428 to 425. When the magnitude of the trail and some other issues were discussed, administration decided that this was a tradeoff that was in the community’s best interests and was certainly worthy to bring back to Council for its consideration.
Member Paul thanked the developer and City administration for their hard work. They listened to everything requested by Council, and came up with a win-win. She was thrilled about the trail system. One of the things that she and Planning Commission Chair Markham worked on was getting a trail system that would eventually go to Maybury State Park. With Island Lake across the street and that trail system, the City can almost extend this to Kensington Metropark. Slowly but surely, the City is inching to a trail system that can go all the way through the area’s metroparks. In the future, she and Chair Markham were hoping that Northville would continue the trail system all the way to Maybury State Park, which is something that will probably happen because the trail system is going to be at Seven Mile in Hines Park. If this is accomplished in the near future, then the City would have a trail system that would also go to the Rouge River. This is a mile and a quarter towards accomplishing this goal.
Member Paul said that infrastructure, safety, and environmental safety were three of her interests during her campaign. Mr. Foley had mentioned that Ten Mile Road is a mess, as did also the Lyon Township Trustee. There are many problems on Ten Mile Road, and this site will impact Ten Mile, but there are so many problems because South Lyon uses Ten Mile Road as its main thoroughfare. In the future, South Lyon will need to look at its road structure needing improvements. Having cyclists and pedestrians that are non-motorized vehicles off of the roadways is a safety issue that she is very much interested in. She uses the trail system on Taft Road and Ten Mile, and she hopes that the Ten Mile trail can be continued to go all the way through to Community Sports Park. With this project, the City has a huge win. The increase in density is definitely a factor, but with all the other pluses, this is definitely a win for the City. She said she would support the project and hoped that the City could get this accomplished.
Member Gatt thanked Mr. Helwig for his diligence and his hard work, and thanked Singh Development. He has been part of the community for almost 30 years and has seen Singh Development from the beginning, when they started with Turtle Creek and Twelve Oaks Townhouses. Everything that they have ever done has been done first class, and they have stuck to their word on every project that he could remember.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he could support the project. He felt that Planning Commission Chair Markham had said it very well: the density is very close to the master plan and this is a win-win situation. Commissioner Staudt of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission also indicated that this not only is consistent with, but advances the 5-year plan. When he thinks of density he thinks of what effect it has on the infrastructure. The developer has adequately addressed the infrastructure needs, which he commended Singh Development for. A project like this pleases him because it shows that the City of Novi, the City Council, and the Planning Commission will all work with developers. Administration has always said that if a developer comes in and is truly concerned with the community that they are building in, the City will be happy to work with them. He said he was very proud to support this project.
Member Capello said that after January 1st, he would ask Council to invite the Lyon Township Board of Trustees to a joint meeting so that they can talk about Napier Road and Ten Mile Road. He said he would certainly not vote against the project because the City would gain 73 acres of parkland. However, he was disappointed, though not with the developer, saying that the City could use something more than the construction of a trail system. He would rather have accepted the parkland and tried to negotiate some other improvements and benefits to the City other than putting in a pathway that starts nowhere and ends nowhere. He felt the path system could have been funded through grants from the State, and used the money that the developer is contributing to the construction of the pathway to building something much more important. One thing that he had discussed was to build some kind of community education structure on that property, which would have benefited children through the schools. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, business people, residents and senior citizens could all have utilized such a structure. He would support the pathway because that was what was on the table.
CM-03-12-401 Moved by Capello, seconded by Gatt; MOTION CARRIED: To approve Zoning Map Amendment No. 18.632, a request of Singh Development to rezone 324.95 acres located in Section 30 on the south side of Ten Mile Road and east of Napier Road, from R-A (Residential Acreage) to R-1 (One-Family Residential) with a development agreement and a Residential Unit Development agreement, subject to approval of the RUD agreement and receipt of a letter from NTH Consultants stating that the environmental site assessment is for the benefit of the City and the City is entitled to rely upon this assessment. The subject area includes the property currently known as the Links of Novi.
Mr. Fisher noted that administration also had before Council an RUD agreement that should be part of the motion for approval. He also wanted to mention that this was a great public/private partnership. Administration had received a Phase I environmental site assessment that morning, and it appeared that the 73 acres that the City would receive is in good shape. He wanted to indicate before the City signed the development agreement that a letter was needed from the entity that sent the environmental site assessment stating that this was for the benefit of the City and the City was entitled to rely on it.
Mayor Csordas asked who provided that report, which Mr. Fisher said was NTH Consultants.
Mr. Kahm said that NTH Consultants is one of the more prominent environmental and geotechnical engineering firms in the state. He said the findings in their reports are highly reliable.
Member Capello said he would accept Mr. Fisher’s comments as part of his motion, and Member Gatt agreed.
Member Nagy commented that she realized Singh Development is a very good developer that does very nice projects, and she felt the company had done its best to accommodate the City. She asked why a development agreement and an RUD were being combined, as she thought that these were separate items.
Mr. Fisher responded that these are two separate agreements. In order to achieve the density that is being authorized over and above the R-1, it is necessary to have the RUD. The development agreement should not be approved without also having the RUD in place. Doing them contemporaneously was the right process to take in administration’s view.
Member Nagy noted that there have been a number of rezoning requests come to the City other than this project. She asked if the City would want to get a sanitary sewer capacity study so it knows what the average daily flow is, the peak flow, and wet weather flow. It was her understanding that the City had exceeded the capacity a number of times in the past several years.
Mr. Coburn asked Member Nagy if she was referring to the system at large, or just the system in the immediate area.
Member Capello asked Member Nagy if she was referring to the discharge capacity, which Member Nagy said was correct.
Mr. Coburn said the City has an agreement with the State to develop something called a Part 41 Tracking System for the sanitary sewer. This allows the City to input what it has existing for flows in the sanitary sewer system. As new developments come in, they will be input into the spreadsheet to verify that the City is not exceeding its capacities. The State is requiring the City to do this so that the City can demonstrate that it is not exceeding its designed capacities. In addition to this, the City is metering its sanitary sewer system to see what the existing flows are in order to verify its calculated flows. This is also part of the State requirements.
Member Nagy asked if the City was contemplating either hiring or contracting out for a grant writer.
Mr. Helwig replied that just prior to the new City Council taking office, City Council had authorized the issuance of a request for proposals, and this would be sent back to Council for the first meeting in January.
Member Nagy said she appreciated that the Mayor had mentioned at an earlier meeting that Council cannot always agree on everything. She agreed with the previous speaker regarding implementing a trail system with grants. When she viewed the project, she looked at it as an issue of density. The zoning on the property is R-A, and the property to the south is also R-A. She did not feel that this was truly an issue about parklands, which she always favors, but rather about changing the density from R-A. The property to the south is also zoned R-A. In order to make the trail system go through, the next developer that comes in to the south might ask for some kind of increase. She felt the project is wonderful, and said Singh does a great job, but she was concerned with the density. She expressed concern with the cumulative effect of the project upon that area. At the present time there is no plan by the Oakland County Road Commission to change the area.
Member Nagy said she would like to see the project go in, but not at the proposed density. When she was at the Master Plan Committee meeting when the project came forward, she felt the same concerns about the project. 439 units are too many units and would increase traffic and the need for services. She had not seen anything from Chief Lenaghan as to whether or not the parking lot next to the fire station would in any way impede the operation of that fire station. She said the project is wonderful and she appreciated that Singh would donate 73 acres, but according to what she had read that 73 acres was un-buildable. Singh had done a nice job with the project, but she was concerned with the issue of density. Increasing density increases the cumulative effect of traffic, and this would become an issue of health, safety and welfare. She said she could not support the proposal at the stated density. The ultimate benefit to the City outweighs putting in a trail system. If the City were to get grant writers, this could be accomplished. The density outweighs the benefit to the City.
Mayor Csordas said he noticed that morning that coming south from Ten Mile on the trail, there were two lines on the proposal map between lots. He asked if those were additional entrances to the trail, which Mr. Helwig said was correct.
Mayor Csordas asked if the entire 208 acres would be dedicated as parkland vis-ŕ-vis the motion, or if this was something that would be discussed at another time.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was not in the agreement. This would be a separate action for Council’s decision, whenever it wishes to do so.
Mayor Csordas requested a friendly amendment, that Council dedicate the balance of the property as parkland for the City.
Mr. Fisher said Council could indicate intent to do so, with the idea that this would go through the master plan amendment and such process. He said that clarifying intent at this point would be appropriate.
Member Capello said that on the agenda for the December 16th meeting, there was an agenda item similar to what Mayor Csordas was talking about, for the North Novi Park land. He asked if the Mayor’s proposal could be added to that agenda item, or if it had to be done separately.
Mr. Fisher suggested waiting until administration had received the dedication, then making a package for the specified park area.
Mayor Csordas noted that he was dedicated to due process, and withdrew his request for a friendly amendment.
Mr. Helwig said that a separate Council policy motion about the 135 acres, that it would like the land to commence through a master plan process to be included as parkland, would be very helpful for the advisory boards and staff.
Member Paul read page 4 of the development agreement, item #3: "The trail shall mostly be an asphalt pathway and boardwalk only where necessary, constructed to the standards noted above." She asked where "noted above" was located in the development agreement.
Mr. Fisher said this was the exhibit, as well as the AASHTO standards, and the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Member Paul asked if there would be a large base under the asphalt. On Taft Road, there was an asphalt pathway, and this was like a volcano erupted because there was not a good enough base. The City had to rip that trail up and put concrete down with a base. She wanted to make sure that there was a sufficient 8-inch base under the asphalt trail system.
Mr. Fisher replied that on the plans there is a clarification of the base, and this will essentially have the same base as a road.
Member Paul asked if there was another way to word "The trail shall mostly be an asphalt pathway", such as asphalt or boardwalk where necessary.
Mr. Fisher asked if "entirely be asphalt, with the exception of boardwalk where necessary" was suitable, which Member Paul said was perfect.
Member Paul said that page 5 of the RUD, item #11, says that the trail will be an 8-foot asphalt trail system, but her understanding was that the City would use a 10-foot pathway.
Mr. Auler said the thought on the 8-foot pathway width was that it could accommodate the users of the trail in a safe manner, as well as minimize the impact on the wetlands and woodlands that go through the property.
Member Paul noted that there were not going to be many improvements to Ten Mile Road before the project. However, with the lights that will be put in place, the turn lane, and the acceleration and deceleration lanes, she felt the road would be improved to offset this site. All communities will have to address Ten Mile at some point, but the Trustees comments are well taken and received. Those concerns are addressed with this developer, which is a win-win for the City.
Member Gatt commented that he wished the City had a magic wand that it could wave and make the traffic congestion on Ten Mile go away. Ten Mile Road is the same two-lane road that was there when he hired into the Police Department in 1975. The road is not designed to carry the traffic that it is going to carry. He might support turning the proposal down based solely upon the traffic if there would be no other development along the road. However, South Lyon is continuing its development and will construct along the road. For Novi not to build there would be silly. He felt that Member Capello’s idea to invite South Lyon to a joint meeting is a terrific idea. He wanted residents to know that Council was not ignoring the traffic problem.
Roll Call Vote on CM-03-12-401 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Paul
Andrew Mutch, 24740 Taft Road, thanked Singh Development for bringing the proposal forward to the City, and thanked the City Council for being willing to consider the proposal. The acquisition of the new parkland is a great accomplishment for the City and is worthy of celebration. He commended the City for recognizing the benefit of acquiring and protecting parkland and natural resources and providing passive recreation opportunities. He thanked the Mayor for pointing out that the remaining City land has not yet been formally designated as a park, and Mr. Mutch said he would like to see this reflected in the master plan. He would like to see Council pass a formal resolution designating that land for parkland, as this would help formalize the process and make clear that Council’s intent for the land is parkland. He noted the proximity of the end of the trail to Nine Mile Road, and encouraged Council to somehow extend the path to Nine Mile, as this should be its ultimate destination. This would allow residents in that area to utilize the length of the trail. He hoped that the final elements that come forward for the parkland include some active recreation area, since 439 homes will have a lot of kids that will want more than just the trail system to use. He thanked everyone involved with the project, and said the proposal was a great accomplishment for the City.
Steve Adams, Lyon Township Trustee, wished to clarify that Lyon Township is to the west of Novi, not South Lyon. He said a committee would be formed with Senator Nancy Cassis to review the traffic problem that will occur within the next four or five years. This must be solved, and it is a South Lyon, Lyon Township, and Novi problem. The three communities will have to solve the problem, or they will be in gridlock. His estimate was that there will be over 45,000 cars in the next 5 years traveling on Ten Mile Road if something is not done very soon.
Mr. Helwig said it would be very helpful guidance for Council to direct the staff and appropriate Planning Commission and Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission to start the process to bring back to Council an amendment to the master plan that would dedicate the 135 acres of City-owned land as parkland.
CM-03-12-402 Moved by Capello, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To direct the City staff, the Planning Commission, and the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission to start the process to bring back to Council an amendment to the master plan that would dedicate the 135 acres of City-owned land as parkland.
Voice Vote on CM-03-12-402 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 9:16 a.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: January 5, 2004