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REGULAR MEETING OF THE
COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy* and Paul
ALSO PRESENT Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Gerald Klaver – City Attorney
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
Art Lenaghan – Fire Chief
Nancy McClain – City Engineer
Tia Gronlund-Fox – Human Resources Director
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Lorenzo added "State of the City Address" as Mayor and Council Issues Item #1.
Member Capello wished to discuss asking administration to report back to Council on creating a DDA district in the Novi/Grand River quadrant as Mayor and Council Issues Item #2. He asked to add 52-1 District Court as Item #3, establishing a Main Street Committee to move forward on the goal established last year as Item #4, and "Tentative Meeting with Lyon Township" as Item #5.
Member Paul added Item #6 to Mayor and Council Issues, "Palushaj Site Plan," Item #7, "Alcan Automotive," and Item #8, "The Preserve."
CM-04-01-001 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended.
Voice Vote on CM-04-01-001 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
* Member Nagy arrived at 7:36 p.m.
Ringing in the Holidays Sponsors and Volunteers
Providence Hospital of Novi – Lou Martin
Meijer Corporation – Terry Cole and Cindy Nunn
Novi Expo Center and Central Park Estates – Blair Bowman
Singh Development Company – Christopher Schrier
Mayor Csordas said it is always a pleasure to make presentations for people who do wonderful things for the community. Many people attended the Ringing in the Holidays event, which is wonderful for the City. It is easy to forget about all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in creating the event, as well as the cost to put everything together. Certificates were also presented to residents who volunteered to help with the event, including Patti Maida, Lori Kapelczak, Tom Marcus, Fil Superfisky, and Beth and Ron Boron.
2. Proclamation – January as Volunteer Blood Donor Month including Civic Center Blood Drive on Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Mayor Csordas encouraged all community members to participate in the Civic Center Blood Drive, noting that collecting blood donations is a very important and necessary function that the Red Cross performs.
1. SPECIAL/COMMITTEE - None
2. CITY MANAGER
Mr. Helwig said that the refunding of a 1998 general obligation debt issue was conducted the previous week. The climate was favorable, just above the threshold established by Council, of a 3% benefit to the community in present value. The closing occurred the previous Wednesday, as Ms. Smith-Roy had shepherded the item during the holiday period. The savings to the community will be approximately $20,000 a year for each of the next 9 years. This is another significant step forward in the refunding authorized by Council.
3. DEPARTMENTAL - None
Mr. Fisher said he had placed at Council’s seats a letter from legal counsel for the Cheltenham Estates. He was happy to say that the strong resolve of Council at the last meeting on the issue had resulted in Mr. Nanda, the developer of Cheltenham, agreeing to move forward with the dedication of those streets in Cheltenham. He said there were other relevant items in the letter that did not need addressing at that moment.
Mr. Fisher said his second point was an indication of something that had come to his attention from a legal standpoint. There have now been several class action suits filed now relating to cable television. The City, pursuant to federal law, collects a fee from the cable television companies. The class actions have been filed alleging that these fees exceed any benefit in relation to the cable, and therefore are not in proportion as required by Michigan Supreme Court case law. The lawyers that have responded to these cases so far have clarified that these are truly fees that are intended to provide reimbursement for the local rights-of-way, and are essentially rental payments. The gist of their case is that the fees are in excess of any benefit to the cable system, and are thus really taxes disguised as fees. This litigation is heating up throughout Michigan. To his knowledge, Novi has not been named in a case like this. However, the City should be aware of these cases and keep an eye on them.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher if "access fees" referred to the access and the running of the cables through the City.
Mr. Fisher said this was correct. The fees are not just for administering anything, but are fees for allowing the companies to use public rights-of-way. That litigation will likely go on for some time, and is just heating up now.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher if he knew how much revenue this generated annually for the City.
Mr. Fisher replied that he did not have an indication of the numbers, but that this is a substantial amount.
Mayor Csordas asked that this be examined so that Council might know what the impact may be.
Member Capello said that regarding Cheltenham Estates, he had noticed in Mr. Asher’s letter that he asked if the City would vacate the temporary easement which runs through the driveway of the residential home off of Beck. He asked if this was something that administration could do, or if this had to come back to Council.
Mr. Fisher said this would have to come back to Council, but his recommendation was to put that on hold for the moment. The City wants to get the Wilshire Abbey plat recorded and have that completed. He had indicated to Mr. Asher that the City would then open that dialogue.
Member Capello asked Mr. Fisher if he had already explained to Mr. Asher that this would not be done administratively, which Mr. Fisher replied was correct.
Jim Korte, 2022 Austin Dr., said that the previous Friday he had found himself in a situation where he had to call Community EMS. The service was too far away to get to him in an appropriate amount of time. His mother, Henrietta, is 87 and deeply entrenched in Alzheimer’s. That night, his mother had another stroke. In the last 6 to 8 years, he has called emergency help 5 or 6 times for his mother. Novi Fire Rescue always gets there first, even though they are not allowed to handle everything that Community EMS can handle. Community EMS is under contract with the City. He did not want to complain about the care that his mother received, as she received a "blanket removal" to get her to Providence Hospital. However, in a situation where moments can mean life, his mother was not as stable as someone could have been in her position. It is unacceptable for an ambulance to be too far away to reach someone in an appropriate amount of time. He lodged a complaint with the Fire Department, which he said for some time has been trying to make the City’s emergency rescue the first response, and the ambulance service the second. He was outraged because the ambulance was "too far away" but is under contract. He called on November 1st and the ambulance had no problem picking her up from Austin Drive and taking her to Providence Southfield, for a bill of $750. He wondered why, if such money could be made from an hour’s work, this money wasn’t being put toward the City’s own fire rescue. The City should do what it needs to do what is needed to be able to respond to its own citizens in an appropriate amount of time. If it was being considered that the City take over the 52nd District Court to collect money from, it should make sure that there is an ambulance accessible to every Novi resident if necessary. Many years ago, Community EMS began service for the City. For the amounts of money that are paid and the amounts of money that the service charges its patients, the City should have service. It is unacceptable for the ambulance service to be unable to respond in an adequate amount of time.
Mayor Csordas said that Council had received a report from the Fire Chief in a recent packet that addressed response times.
Chief Lenaghan said the Fire Department meets monthly with Community EMS. The contract is the result of a Fire/EMS task force that the City had 2 years ago. Prior to that, the City had no contract. The contract stipulates that the service has to meet an 8-minute response time 90% of the time. This is monitored monthly, the response times are recorded, and the City follows up with complaints. Mr. Korte’s complaints have been registered, and he said the Department would be meeting with the service later in the week. The company has met their conditions of the contract up to this point.
Mayor Csordas recalled seeing that Community EMS had met the contract by a considerable margin. He asked Chief Lenaghan to explain if the City has a policy of Fire Department first, EMS second.
Chief Lenaghan said the contract with Community EMS calls for the City to notify the company. A call comes in to 911, and the dispatcher notifies the Fire Department, EMS if there is a cessation of breathing, and the Police Department as well for AED. The handling of the calls through dispatch should take no more than about 60 seconds before the first alert goes out to the Fire Department. Times vary from the day shift to the night shift because of staffing, but the staff at Station #1 has a sweeping crew that responds immediately.
Mayor Csordas asked Chief Lenaghan to send a summary memo to City Council highlighting the time and particulars of Mr. Korte’s incident.
Member Nagy commended the Fire Department. She lives in an area with elderly people, and on her street there was someone who frequently had heart problems. The Fire Department responded first to these reports every single time. She commended the Fire Department, as they do an excellent job in emergency response.
Mayor Csordas noted that he had sat on the Fire Department task force several years ago, and no one ever questioned that the City’s Fire and Police Departments do a great job.
Mr. Helwig said the City takes emergency response time very seriously, and he had promised Mr. Korte that the City would investigate the matter very carefully. The average response time in the month of November was 5 minutes and 17 seconds. There can be cases where response time is over 8 minutes, and the City is paying close attention to see if it needs to bring back further recommendations to Council. The taxpayers are not paying for Community EMS’ service. The company competed for the right to award the emergency service, which Council awarded. The company is remaining profitable because of insurance payments, not for anything that the City is paying.
Tina Topalian, 22470 Plaisance Blvd., said her comments pertained to the recent Dunbarton Pines retention basin reactivation meeting that occurred at the Civic Center on December 9th. The meeting had a very robust turnout of residents within the neighborhood. Several questions were left unanswered from that meeting. She came to understand that the need for this type of project has been in place for about 16 years, yet at the meeting it seemed as if the project is on the fast-track. She questioned what is driving the process. Several good questions were raised at the meeting, and it appears that a lot of thought and consideration should go into the decision prior to actually proceeding. It was mentioned that half of the project would be paid for by way of a grant, and the other half – about $350,000 – would be paid for by the City. She wondered what would be compromised by the allocation of these funds for the retention basin. Additionally, the representative from Ayers, Lewis, Norris and May that was brought to address the group said that if there were any potential problem with the project, it would be the diversion. The funding for the project was approved with the diversion, and she questioned whether there are any plans in place to consider the project going through without the diversion if a problem warrants some reconsideration. If yes, she wondered what the consequences of this might be, such as a delay. If not, she wondered how the City would address the potential diversion problem. She also came to understand that this is not a unique problem, particularly for communities that have experienced the breadth of development at the pace that Novi has. Consequently, she wondered if the City had considered some kind of regional approach to the issue, such as possibly working with neighboring communities.
Mayor Csordas asked Ms. Topalian to give her questions to the City Clerk, and said Mr. Helwig would respond to those questions.
Representative Craig DeRoche said he had recently held discussions with Mr. Helwig. His office, like the entire House of Representatives, has a central staff with experts such as lawyers, focusing on areas like transportation or health care. His policy staff will be available for the City of Novi. He looks forward to working with Novi, as well as other communities, that are at least looking into the potential of this change. The area had some successes last year with the Beck Road interchange and the approving of Providence Park to become a hospital. The Providence Park hospital is still being litigated, and he will continue to provide updates on that. He and Senator Cassis are going to continue to fight for the Wixom Road interchange, and this will take everything that they have to get back online. From his perspective, the Wixom Road interchange is just as important as the Beck Road interchange. He said they would need all of the support given to the Beck Road interchange project to get the Wixom Road project up and running next year.
CONSENT AGENDA (Approval/Removals)
*Member Nagy asked to add South Lake Drive as Mayor and Council Issues Item #9, which Council agreed to.
CM-04-01-002 Moved by Gatt, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Consent Agenda as presented.
Voice Vote on CM-04-01-002 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
CONSENT AGENDA: (Background information for Consent Agenda items is available for review at the City Clerk’s Office)
A. Approve Minutes of:
B. Acceptance of Access Easement from Novi MH Associates Limited (Novi Meadows Mobile Home Park) for Island Lake Sanitary Sewer Lift Station.
C. Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 664.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part I
1. Approval of Resolution authorizing an agreement with Michigan Department of Transportation, Contract 03-5516, for construction of the I-96/Beck Road Single Point Urban Interchange Project, confirming the City obligation of $6,000,000.
CM-04-01-003 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; :To approve Resolution authorizing an agreement with Michigan Department of Transportation, Contract 03-5516, for construction of the I-96/Beck Road Single Point Urban Interchange Project, confirming the City obligation of $6,000,000.
Member Capello said he had read through the document, and the project cost included the acquisition of the properties. It was his understanding that part of the City’s contribution would be the contribution of the land. He did not read anywhere in the document that part of the $6 million contribution was part cash and part land contribution. He asked what had happened with this.
Mr. Helwig replied that the City’s contribution, as it was represented at all of the public hearings the previous year, was the $6 million cash that voters authorized in November of 2000. The Governor and Legislature reinstated projects, and the projects then went out for contract with increased costs. The City is not in a position to renegotiate the $6 million, which the City said it was prepared to write the check for all along. The land is all separate and apart. Land costs in many cases are now outpacing construction costs. In his opinion, the City is coming out ahead in the situation.
Member Capello asked if the State would buy the land from the City.
Mr. Helwig said the donations from Providence Park and the development company at Twelve Mile and Beck Road north of the freeway are still coming forward.
Member Capello asked if the City was donating land in addition to the $6 million. There is some City land north of Westmarket Square, west of Beck Road, south of I-96, that was donated from Providence Park when the City gave the rezoning and approved Westmarket Square. The intent of this was that the City would have land that could be donated as a contribution to the interchange.
Mr. Helwig noted that this preceded him, but said that anything such as what Member Capello had mentioned is separate and apart from the $6 million contribution from the road bond.
Member Capello asked if the City is paying $6 million cash, and has not agreed to donate or dedicate the land at no cost.
Mr. Helwig said the contract has been awarded and finalized. He said he would be happy to provide a report that Thursday of how the contract had actually been finalized after he had a chance to research the item. The land donation has not been raised since he has been involved with the project.
Member Capello said that originally, Providence gave the City the land so that it would have part of its monetary contribution towards the interchange. He was sure that the City still owns that parcel of land, as this was part of the concession of providing B-3 zoning instead of B-2, since the value of the land would be higher. Unless there is something otherwise, the City still owns that land, and if the project cost includes the acquisition of the land, the City should be able to sell that land and recoup some of its money.
Mr. Helwig said that with all due respect, he did not believe that Member Capello was correct. The costs of producing the interchange project are vastly higher than anyone every anticipated as far back as the development of Westmarket Square. The acquisition costs have skyrocketed, and the State still has to do an eminent domain and they do not know what their costs will be on part of this.
Member Capello asked if the City’s contribution is fixed at $6 million, which Mr. Helwig replied was correct, $6 million cash. Member Capello asked if the City had not agreed to give the land in addition to the $6 million.
Mr. Helwig stated that he did not know about this, and said he was just happy that the project is going forward. He said he would be happy to research the issue for Council if desired.
Mr. Pearson said that to his knowledge, the land that Member Capello referred to from Providence Hospital had not yet been transferred to the City. This was something that Providence Hospital had offered directly to the State, and the City was not any kind of intermediary where it received any property.
Member Capello said he remembered specifically that Providence would give the City the land so that the City would have title to land that it donate and dedicate as part of its contribution. This was one of the main concessions that were given to the City in exchange for the B-3 zoning instead of B-2 zoning.
Mr. Helwig said he did not want to leave the conversation with the expectation on anyone’s part that the City has money coming back to it. The City was very fortunate to have the project reinstated, and he personally felt that the $6 million that the voters approved helped distinguish this project from all of the other projects. The Providence representatives were there stating their donation of land, as well as the other development company. He has had no indication that this was to be a pass-through from the City. Even if that existed in the past, he feels that the past spring made it a "whole new ball game" when the Governor put a freeze on the project.
Member Capello said he was not saying that it was not good that the project is moving forward, but rather that the City has an asset that is worth $1 million or more dollars, and this should be taken advantage of. If the City negotiated a $6 million contribution and did not agree to donate land that the City is entitled to own, then the City should be reimbursed for that land.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Pearson to confirm who owns the property and let Council know the answer.
Member Capello suggested that administration contact Mr. Joe Galvin of Providence Hospital, as he was directly involved with those negotiations.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-003 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
2. Consideration of Zoning Text Amendment 18.184 to add a new Section 34 "Amendments to Ordinances" to the Zoning Ordinance for the purpose of providing a procedure and standards for allowing a property owner to propose and allowing the City to approve a site specific development, including conditions in conjunction with a proposed rezoning, commonly referred to as the Planned Rezoning Overlay Ordinance – Second Reading
CM-04-01-004 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; MOTION WITHDRAWN: To approve Zoning Text Amendment 18.184 to add a new Section 34 "Amendments to Ordinances" to the Zoning Ordinance for the purpose of providing a procedure and standards for allowing a property owner to propose and allowing the City to approve a site specific development, including amending page 2B(1) to include "design and architecture", to include "design and architecture" under the PRO Plan section on page 4, and including conditions in conjunction with a proposed rezoning, commonly referred to as the Planned Rezoning Overlay Ordinance – Second Reading
Member Capello referred to page 2B(1) and page 4. He asked if "other measure" in "location, size, height, or other measure" included design and architecture. It is very important that the City is able to control the design and architecture of the buildings.
Mr. Fisher said this certainly is one of the provisions that would be contemplated as part of one of these agreements. It may not happen in every single agreement because it may not be relevant to every agreement, but there is ample authorization to make that one of the provisions of the agreement.
Member Capello asked Mr. Fisher if he felt that page 2B(1) should say "the location, size, height, design, architecture, or other measure," or if this was already included.
Mr. Fisher replied that he felt this was already included. Council could highlight this as something that needs to be brought forward as a consideration.
Member Capello proposed that the draft be amended in page 2B(1) to include "design and architecture." This is also shown under "PRO Plan" on the top of page 4, and "design and architecture" should also be added there.
Member Lorenzo said she would agree to this amendment, as did Member Nagy.
Member Capello referred to page 5(c). He asked Mr. Fisher to explain "The use of the property in question shall be subject to all regulations governing the development and use within the zoning district to which the property has been rezoned." He wanted to put a provision in that phrase to say "except as otherwise designated in the PRO agreement." He said he did not want to be locked into the zoning of the designated district, as he would like the City to have the ability to vary within that zoning district without actually having to grant any variances or waivers at the Council level. He asked Mr. Fisher if he believed that without the language which he had just suggested, that the City would not have to strictly follow the zoning district that the PRO plan would relate to.
Mr. Fisher said the intent of this ordinance would be to require strict application with the new zoning district, and not allow the grant of variances. The context in which this would arise is that somebody would make an application for rezoning to a district that would be more lenient and that would probably give rise to not needing variances. They would be getting a more lenient district but agree not to develop to the extent permitted in that district. Thus, this is not giving them more than authorized in the district, but is actually getting the rezoning for them but approving something less than what would be permitted in the new district.
Member Capello said he would rather see Council have the ability, as part of the agreement, to have some flexibility even in the rezoned district rather than having to grant a variance or a waiver. The applicant will hopefully come to Council with something unique and different, and rather than having to grant a variance he would prefer that Council be able to deal with the issues through the PRO agreement itself. He proposed that on page 5(c), "district to which the property has been rezoned," to add "except as otherwise designated in the PRO agreement."
Mr. Fisher said he would have to read the entire ordinance to make sure that this would be the correct adjustment to make. If Council was in favor of this, he asked the Council postpone the consideration to the next meeting, and he would insert language to accomplish this.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher to highlight those changes when he provided the next iteration of the document to Council, which Mr. Fisher agreed to do.
Member Lorenzo asked Member Capello for clarification on why he made his proposals. She asked if he wanted to make this more like an RUD agreement, as opposed to the district itself. The language seemed to be going beyond a rezoning application and into a rezoning application/PUD or RUD.
Member Capello said he did not want to call this a PUD or an RUD, but he said this would create a development agreement, and Council needs more flexibility in its ability to create that agreement. He said he would not go so far as to say this would be an RUD agreement.
Member Lorenzo said she did not mean an actual RUD, but on the premise of an RUD. This is what Council does with an RUD or a PUD – Council determines the extent of what will be granted, as opposed to the strict application of the zoning district. Council would determine what the appropriate mix is. The density of a zoning district must remain essentially the same.
Member Capello said this would all be included in the agreement. However, he wanted to try to avoid having Council create an agreement, but the applicant would have to go to the ZBA for some kind of variance or waiver, which makes no sense. Council should be able to handle everything at its table.
Member Lorenzo said that the way she had been reading the ordinance, the development agreement was basically for the zoning, but the applicant still has to go through the rest of the processes, whether that be the ZBA, the Planning Commission, or otherwise. She would not want to start infringing on other boards and commissions and their part of the process.
Member Capello said the applicant would still have to go through the process. Council would create the rezoning with the agreement. The process would then go back to the Planning Commission for site plan approval, then back to Council for final approval.
Member Lorenzo said she would be willing to see what the changes are. She would appreciate seeing a "Proposal A and Proposal B" submitted to Council, with Proposal A being the document with Member Capello’s changes, and Proposal B being the document as it was presented to Council that evening, so that Council could come to a conclusion on either one.
CM-04-01-005 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To postpone Consideration of Zoning Text Amendment 18.184 to add a new Section 34 "Amendments to Ordinances" to the Zoning Ordinance for the purpose of providing a procedure and standards for allowing a property owner to propose and allowing the City to approve a site specific development, including conditions in conjunction with a proposed rezoning, commonly referred to as the Planned Rezoning Overlay Ordinance – Second Reading
Member Nagy commented that Member Capello has always made good points. However, in this case she was not sure she understood the purpose of his proposed amendments. Any agreements have variances involved in some regard. She felt that the PRO Plan agreement was a strong agreement that was outlined very well. She noted that applicants must meet certain conditions under the plan, "in conditions imposed pursuant to MCL 125.584(c), together with other terms usually agreed upon by the parties, including the minimum provisions specified in the definition of PRO agreement above." She said she did not see the need for the amendments.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-005 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
3. Consideration of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.185 to amend Section 201 definitions: O - R of Ordinance No. 97-18, in order to add a definition of "Refuse Bin (Dumpster, Trash Receptacle)" and to add Subsection 2503.2.f, to modify the standards for trash enclosures within the City of Novi – Second Reading
CM-04-01-006 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.185 to amend Section 201 definitions: O - R of Ordinance No. 97-18, in order to add a definition of "Refuse Bin (Dumpster, Trash Receptacle)", to add an item #8 after item #7 on page 2, to state "except as otherwise provided in the TC-1 and Gateway Districts", and to add Subsection 2503.2.f, to modify the standards for trash enclosures within the City of Novi – Second Reading
Member Capello said this amendment came to mind when looking at the Gateway project, at the southwest corner of Meadowbrook and Grand River, the Atto piece. The back of the building was technically facing Meadowbrook, the front of the building faced inward. One of the main issues that Council had about the site was where the owner would place his dumpster and his loading dock. His suggestion was on page 2 of the ordinance, after item #7, to add an item #8 to state "except as otherwise provided in the TC-1 and Gateway Districts." In those 3 districts, having the specific screening requirements for the dumpsters in the ordinance will not be adequate to compensate for what is needed in those districts. Those 3 districts are so unique because they have zero lot lines and often no front yard lines.
Mayor Csordas asked Member Capello to repeat those 3 districts.
Member Capello said those are the TC, TC-1, and Gateway Districts. As Council is looking at the ordinances for Main Street, they will have their own dumpster requirements.
Mayor Csordas asked Member Capello if this was a request for a friendly amendment, which Member Capello said it was.
Member Lorenzo said her concern was would happen in the interim. The whole basis of the ordinance is to clarify what a refuse bin actually is. She was concerned what would happen in the time period in between.
Member Capello said the ordinance stated "except as otherwise provided." Therefore, the ordinance applies right now.
Member Lorenzo said she was satisfied with the amendment. She was concerned that the developer would be open to doing whatever they wanted with the dumpsters in the interim.
Member Nagy said she would also agree to the amendment. She asked if the language was good enough for Mr. Fisher.
Mr. Fisher said he would want to put in more language to carry out the meaning as Member Capello had explained it, something to effect that the standards would apply unless more specific provisions are otherwise provided in those districts.
Member Paul said she was on this committee when the Planning Commission committee when this amendment came forward. Commissioner Kocan was instrumental in getting this forward. The ordinance is well written, as it will provide screening to all of the City’s districts so that people do not have to see garbage bins. The other thing that the Planning Commission tried to do was keep the bins away from handicap spaces. The large trucks that are very heavy leave grooves in the pavement, creating difficulty for wheelchairs and others with mobility challenges to get in to the front door. The other purpose was to clarify what a refuse bin and garbage bin are, as there was a great deal of confusion in the ordinance books. This is a wonderful clarification for the City, and she hoped that Council would not cloud the issue with the TC, TC-1 and Gateway ordinance issues. The purpose of the amendment is to screen the garbage bins from residents so that the bins are not visible.
Roll Call on CM-04-01-006 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
4. Consideration of Ordinance No. 03-28.50 to amend the City of Novi Code of Ordinances for the purpose of providing specific regulations for the installation and maintenance of grease interceptors – Second Reading
CM-04-01-007 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Ordinance No. 03-28.50 to amend the City of Novi Code of Ordinances for the purpose of providing specific regulations for the installation and maintenance of grease interceptors – Second Reading
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-007 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello
5. Consideration of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.182 to amend Ordinance Subsections 303.2, 303.2.a(1)(b), 303.2.a(1)(c) and 303.2.a(1)(d) of Ordinance 97-18, as amended, and to add Subsections 303.2.a(1)(e) and 303.2.a(1)(f) to said Ordinance, to modify the standards for Single-Family Detached Appearance Variations to also include the rear building elevations of single-family homes – First Reading
CM-04-01-008 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.182 to amend Ordinance Subsections 303.2, 303.2.a(1)(b), 303.2.a(1)(c) and 303.2.a(1)(d) of Ordinance 97-18, as amended, and to add Subsections 303.2.a(1)(e) and 303.2.a(1)(f) to said Ordinance, to modify the standards for Single-Family Detached Appearance Variations to also include the rear building elevations of single-family homes – First Reading
Member Paul said this ordinance was brought forward again while she was on the Planning Commission. If a person is traveling north on Beck Road from Nine Mile to Ten Mile Roads, Broadmoor Park has two 2 front yards – the one that faces Beck Road, and the one that faces the subdivision. There are 10 homes in a row that are identical on the rear façade. These are very expensive homes, ranging from $500,000 to $1 million, and look like tract housing. What the Commission wanted to do was apply a standard that would address the rear facades when they abut one another. There is also a section in this amendment that addresses when a subdivision has internal backyards that face one another. Addington Park and Westmont Village are two examples. There are 3 houses in a row at 3 different locations in Addington that have the exact same rear facades, also looking like track homes.
Mayor Csordas noted that there is nothing wrong with tract housing.
Member Paul agreed, but said that for this price range, the Planning Commission was hoping to have variations applied to rear facades to avoid that appearance. The Commission worked very hard on the ordinance amendment and she was glad to see it brought forward.
Member Nagy said she was glad to see support for the amendment, as she was on the Planning Commission’s Implementation Committee when they worked on this amendment. This is one of the hardest ordinances that she has ever worked on. She gave credit to the Committee as well and said Mr. Albertson provided a great deal of information in creating the amendment.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-008 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt
Carol Crawford, 22135 Beck Road, commented about the tract of land near the new Beck Road/I-96 interchange. She believed Member Capello was very correct in that unless something happened, the City owns that piece of land, and this should be sold.
Jim Korte, 2022 Austin Dr., noted that Shawood Lake was removed from the 2004 City calendar. He asked that Shawood Lake be added back to the City map.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part II
6. Appointments to the Zoning Board of Appeals. (Member and Alternate)
Council members submitted votes for the ZBA Member and Alternate on official ballot sheets, which were tallied by the City Clerk.
Member Gatt said he had met with a member of the ZBA recently. He urged whoever was chosen for the ZBA to see the City Clerk the next day, as there was a critical shortage of ZBA members.
Ms. Cornelius announced that with 4 votes, Mav Sanghvi was elected as the regular member of the ZBA, with a term ending in 2005. However, no other candidate received the minimum 4 votes in order to be elected to the alternate position.
CM-04-01-009 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Landry; MOTION CARRIED: To appoint Justin Fischer to the alternate position for the Zoning Board of Appeals, with a term ending in 2006.
Member Lorenzo asked if Mr. Fischer would be able to make the ZBA meetings as an alternate, since he is currently attending Michigan State University.
Mayor Csordas noted that Mr. Fischer had committed to making all of the once-a-month meetings during his interview.
Member Lorenzo said she would give Mr. Fischer a chance, since she was looking for new participants anyways.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-009 Yeas: Paul, Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo
7. Consideration of replacing retiree $3,500 health care premium cap with 80%/20% cost share split, including alteration of prescription drug rider.
Member Gatt noted that the issue was also discussed at the prior Council meeting. This issue affects 8 people, 7 of whom are current retirees from the City of Novi, the other being a widow of a Fire Department retiree. Those 8 people, so to speak, fell into the cracks of a system that has been changed. If Council were to agree to amend the retirees’ contribution amounts, it would not be a recurring matter.
CM-04-01-010 Moved by Gatt, seconded by Nagy; MOTION CARRIED: To direct the City to immediately draft and send a letter to the seven former retired Novi City employees and the one surviving spouse who participate in the City medical benefit program, and are under the older format by which the City pays the first $3500 of their medical benefit and the beneficiary pays the difference. The letter will offer those 8 people the ability to switch their payments for their medical benefits from the current $3500 fixed-amount plan to the plan being offered to all current employees where the City pays 80% of all medical costs and the employee pays the remaining 20%, regardless of the amounts. In return for this switch, any one of the 8 former employees affected by the offer and who accepts the City’s offer shall forfeit their current $2 co-pay prescription rider, and in return accept a $5/$10 co-pay prescription rider. Any one of those 8 employees who currently has a prescription rider other than the $2 co-pay shall be enrolled in the $5/$10 co-pay prescription rider. The change shall go into effect immediately, or as soon as possible, for those who accept the City’s offer.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that the last time the issue was discussed he was in favor of offering the 80%/20% split, but said he was in favor of the $10/$20 co-pay instead of the $5/$10 co-pay. He had since considered the issue more, and had looked at the situation. Because there were only 8 people involved, and because of the circumstances, he said he could support the $5/$10 co-pay, and said he would support the motion.
Member Paul asked Ms. Gronlund-Fox what the actual benefits are for current active employees of the City. She inquired if these employees receive 80%/20% coverage, and asked what their prescription drug rider is.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied that the City currently pays for 100% of the employees’ health care.
Member Paul asked what current employees receive for a prescription drug rider.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that this depends on what union an employee belongs to, but all of the administration and most of the unions have a $5/$10 co-pay at this time.
Member Paul said it was her understanding that one of the police unions has a $15/$20 prescription drug rider.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied that this was not correct. The POAM and the Clerks and Dispatchers still have $2 co-pays.
Member Paul asked what Police sergeants and lieutenants have for a prescription drug rider, which Ms. Gronlund-Fox said was a $5/$10 plan. Member Paul asked if any City employees have a $15/$20 prescription drug rider, and Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied there are none.
Member Paul said she wished to hear what the Mayor had to say about the issue. She asked why the 8 former employees were under a different retirement package than other retired employees.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that at the time that those people retired, they retired under different negotiation processes and different benefits.
Member Paul asked if they retired before their package was applicable.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that, as far as she could recall, those people retired before 1993. At that time, the benefit was a $3500 cap. After that, through the negotiation process, the 80%/20% split was negotiated.
Mayor Csordas said he felt the question was whether there were any early retirees that were on this benefit.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said she would have to check on this.
Member Paul commented that her concern was that if someone retired early and fell into that window, it may not be fair to upgrade their retirement package, whereas the other retirees had their full benefits because of the years that they served.
Member Lorenzo said her concern about the item was more of a timing issue. If this was being proposed in conjunction with reducing costs in another area of the budget, she might consider the plan favorably. Her concern was that this plan could add roughly $20,000 a year in costs to the City. The citizens of Novi would not receive any benefit for this expense, as the only benefit is to the 8 employees of the City. While she values the City’s employees and recognizes that the City’s employees are needed to carry out Council’s goals and responsibilities to serve citizens, she was elected first and foremost to represent the citizens of Novi and to be fiscally prudent with taxpayer money. She felt the plan was premature and perhaps even out of context. This would be more in context if there was a proposal to save the City enough money to make up for the additional costs incurred from this benefit plan. She expressed concern about allocating extra tax dollars towards those benefits. It is very easy to spend more money, but the challenging part is to reduce costs in other areas to make up for that spending, and that reduction was missing from this proposal. Member Lorenzo said that while she might eventually consider the benefits proposal, this was not the proper time for its consideration.
Member Nagy noted that a recent news report stated that prescription drug costs would increase 15-20% in 2004. There are ways to cut other costs to make up for those expenses. It was her understanding that while the City had budgeted for 16 dispatchers, it actually has 19 dispatchers on the payroll.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said the City actually has 18 dispatchers at this time.
Member Nagy remarked that eliminating one of the two positions would provide the savings for the extra benefits expenses, as the City was over the budget for those dispatchers. There is a way to provide the benefits, especially since the retirees of concern had "fallen through the cracks." Health care coverage for current City employees is excellent, and these people should have that option as well. She said she would support the motion. She commented that she appreciated the previous speaker’s comments regarding timing. She understood disagreement to the proposal, but felt the City could find a way to make the proposal work, and favored it.
Member Capello said that the benefit plan for the 8 beneficiaries would cost the City about $20,000 additional per year, but the money was not the important issue to him. The important issue was the moral obligation by the City. When these people retired, the intent for their prescription medical benefits was to have these at no cost to those people. Council is trying to give those people what they had bargained for when they retired, and is trying to do this by purchasing additional insurance, which costs $20,000. He felt that the City had a moral obligation to fulfill to those retirees. The plan will cost $20,000, and Council will have to find that money somewhere else in the budget when that is determined in a few months.
Member Gatt wished to address some other questions that had been raised earlier in the discussion. None of the retirees retired prematurely. They may have gone through a window, which did not mean that they retired early, but rather meant that at one time offered a better retirement plan. He asked if it was necessary to work 20 years for the City in order to receive medical benefits, which Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied was correct. Member Gatt said that all of the retirees had worked for more than 20 years, but one or two of them may have gone through a window which allowed them to leave.
Member Gatt read a memo sent to him from Mr. Klaver. When a $3500 cap on the City’s share of retirees’ health care premiums was first introduced, it represented about 80% of the then-current premium. The hard dollar limit, rather than a percentage share, was the City Council’s request. Once this benefit had been added to all employee groups, administration then changed over to the 80/20 approach so that it was not necessary to renegotiate this number in every future contract as costs increase. The City never deliberately created the difference in benefit levels. In fact, administration frequently raised standardized benefits as a goal during negotiations. It is only because this group of employees retired before the conversion was complete that they are out of sync with all other retirees. From that perspective, Member Gatt’s suggestion to convert those retirees is consistent with the City’s philosophy.
Member Gatt said that one or two of the retirees is paying $600-$800 per month for their medical benefits, whereas anyone who had retired under the 80/20 plan is paying much less. He said that what Member Capello had said was more accurate than anything else that was said that evening – the City has a moral obligation to those employees. He understood Member Lorenzo’s comment that this is the citizens’ money, but noted that those retirees had spent 20, 30, or even 40 years working for the City, and felt that the City owed it to them to bring them in line with other employees.
Member Lorenzo said that if what Member Nagy had offered as a compromise were on the table for voting that evening, she might change her mind towards supporting the plan, if costs in another area could be reduced. Without having a specific plan to reduce other costs, she would not be able to support the benefits proposal. If the City could find a reduction somewhere else to legitimize the costs, she would be agreeable to the motion.
Member Gatt said that during budget hearings that would be coming up, Council should look very hard at the benefit package that employees who are currently working or are going to be working for the City enjoy.
Mayor Csordas noted that he works in the health care business. It was stated earlier that employees would bear significant increases in the costs of their prescription drugs. He said this was factually incorrect, since they would be taking a $5/$10 co-pay. A report that he had handed to Council stated that prescription drug benefits for retirees aged 65 and older would increase in cost this year by 16%. The trend increases a few percent every year. In fact, the increase in drug costs would be borne entirely by taxpayers. If a person is taking a prescription drug that actually costs $2,000 a month, the co-pay will be $10. Next year, if the cost of that drug benefit increases by 16% and costs $2400, the co-pay per month would still be $10. In fact, there is zero increase to the member for their prescription drug benefits.
Mayor Csordas said that if Council were to adopt the plan that evening, the City would see a $19,982 increase this year, which is a 77% increase in cost to the City this year. Considering a conservative estimate of a 16% increase in costs next year, the actual City costs would be $23,000. The next year, the cost would be $31,000; the next year, $42,000; the following year, $56,000; and the following year, $65,000. Mayor Csordas asked what the average age was of the members affected by the decision.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied that she believed that there were two members who were over the age of 65, and the rest were under the age of 65.
Mayor Csordas noted that the country’s current life expectancy is approaching 80 years. The City can expect a minimum impact to the taxpayers of $350,000 because of this decision. This is a 77% increase to the cost of the City, and at least a 75% reduction in cost to the members, which is contrary to a prudent business plan. He asked if this was an indemnity program or a PPO program.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox replied that to be certain she would have to check, but the majority of these people have Blue Cross PPO. There may be one person who is on a managed care HMO.
Mayor Csordas asked if none of the people were on an indemnity program, with which they could go and see any doctor.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that this was correct.
Mayor Csordas noted that one member and spouse had approximately a $12,000 annual premium. He asked why retirees, who are all Medicare-eligible, did not have Medicare with a complementary Blue Cross Blue Shield program that brings the level of their benefits back up to where it would be anyway.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said that she believed there were at least 2 of the members that are on the complementary plan.
Mayor Csordas asked if there was any reason that all of the members are not on a complementary plan.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox said she would have to check on this. The age factor was the only thing that she would know of, as not all members were 65 or older.
Mayor Csordas noted that he had passed out a document with a spreadsheet entitled "Employer Cost Control Strategies." This article noted the percentage of employers who change plan designs to increase cost-sharing provisions to their employees. In other words, they ask their employees to contribute more to their benefits. 19% of small employers who employ 100 or fewer people plan to do this, and 44% of large employers plan to ask for more from their employees for their health care benefits in 2003. The percentage of employers who increase the employee contribution for 2003 is 24% for small employers, and 49% for large employers. The trend is not an easy decision, but is exactly contrary to what Council was discussing that evening. For all of those reasons, he said he could not support the motion, and asked that Council reconsider the item. There is no increase in the cost of the prescription drug benefit to the City employees. It was brought to Council’s attention that one of the retirees takes about 10 prescription drugs, and if those drugs total $5,000 or $6,000 per month in costs to the City, the member still pays a maximum of $100. To incur a 77% cost increase to the City and a 75% reduction in cost to the retirees is contrary to what he sees on a daily basis.
Member Nagy said that when she mentioned what she had heard on the news, this referred to the 15-20% increase in the cost of the prescription drugs, not the benefits. The City will soon have a budget coming up, and she assumed that some benefits which employees receive are negotiated through the union.
Mayor Csordas said that after this, they would definitely not decrease.
Member Nagy understood that these benefits would not go down. She asked if the City has the ability to reexamine the benefits every year. People know that the costs for employees will increase. At General Motors, the co-pay is higher than at the City, and she believed this was a $15/$25 plan. She inquired if the City will be subject to the same things happening around the area – every year health care must be examined, as well as personal contributions to this.
Mayor Csordas said the City is subject to this right now, but Council is moving absolutely contrary to that.
Member Nagy said Council still has the ability to see what other cost reductions can be made at budget time. She agreed with Member Capello that this was a moral decision and obligation to those employees. These retirees fell through the cracks.
Mr. Helwig commented that Council had put the spotlight on a far greater issue than what was before it that evening. He said he had never worked at a place in public service where health care benefit premium costs were totally borne by the employer. He felt this was not proper, for many reasons. This is a far greater potential for savings, and one that the City’s employees can bear as part of a total circumstance. This could begin with administrative employees to set the tone, which is what has often happened elsewhere that he has worked. What was before Council that evening is something that Council spotlighted. There will be ongoing costs that administration will meet if Council decided to adopt the motion that evening. However, there is a larger concern that he hoped Council would visit, as administration will need Council’s support to set what will be very long-range policy direction to achieve far greater savings and the where-with-all to remain solvent, afloat, and provide services to the community.
Mayor Csordas said he had used very conservative numbers on the performa that he had distributed, as he knew that the trend in medical benefits is about an 18-22% cost increase. It is very easy to say that in the 9th year, the City would be looking at a $100,000 addition to the yearly budget. Eventually, this will come to cutting benefits because the City will not be able to afford those benefits, unless a tax increase is favored.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-010 Yeas: Paul, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Nagy
Nays: Csordas, Lorenzo
8. Consideration to award the contract for Design Engineering Services and Construction Contract Administration Services for the 2004 Neighborhood Roadway Rehabilitation/Repaving Program to the low qualified bidder, JCK & Associates, Inc. in the not-to-exceed bid amount of $148,819.77.
CM-04-01-011 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; MOTION CARRIED: To approve the contract for Design Engineering Services and Construction Contract Administration Services for the 2004 Neighborhood Roadway Rehabilitation/Repaving Program to the low qualified bidder, JCK & Associates, Inc. in the not-to-exceed bid amount of $148,819.77.
Member Lorenzo said she would not be able to support the motion for several reasons. This particular bidding process was for qualifications-based selection. In her opinion, this is done because this particular road program is likely the most important road program provided for Novi’s citizens. The Neighborhood Roadway Rehabilitation Program provides maintenance and improvements for all of the streets in the neighborhoods that residents live in. She had a concern that this firm was asked for clarifications and apparently did not provide certain items in their proposal. Ms. McClain had to go back and confirm several things. She had to wonder whether the City would have done this for any company that did not provide specifics in the bid proposal, or if it would have been assumed that they did not meet the requirements of the bid. She also wondered whether this would have been done for everyone, as she did not notice any other companies that had to have clarifications for their proposals.
Member Lorenzo recalled an old saying, "If it looks to good to be true, it probably is." She noted the cost differential between the bids, and said the Engineer had reflected that it was unusual to see this type of particular cost. She questioned whether the City could be looking at potential cost overruns and/or lesser quality work. Additionally, she had some nagging questions regarding this company’s role in the Village Oaks issues, with cost overruns and delays on the project. Also, since this company was the City’s inspection engineering firm, she had concerns regarding some of the issues that have transpired in developments such as Westmont. She remarked that Westmont Village did not have any edge drain, even in phase II, when clearly the ordinance had been changed by the time phase II was approved and indicated that edge drains should have been included. Because she wanted to make sure that this would be a quality project for the City of Novi, she said she could not approve this particular contract.
Member Nagy said she appreciated the fact that Council received the bids from every particular company in an item-by-item format. She understood the concerns of the previous speaker. She felt that JCK was providing the City with a comprehensive bid that seemed competitive. She noted that the bid included core samples that would be delivered and done by January 15th. She wondered whether cores taken in January provide accurate samples. She actually has concerns about all of the engineering firms that the City has dealt with, and is not at all satisfied with what she has seen on South Lake Drive. She asked if the City had the as-built plan for the 2002 Neighborhood Repaving Program provided by JCK.
Ms. McClain said the City had received paper copies of the plans, which were on her desk January 2nd, but she has not yet received the electronic copy.
Member Nagy asked if not receiving the electronic copy affected the Department’s rating, or anything else that was before Council.
Ms. McClain said that at different times, there have been some follow-through issues, not only with JCK but also with other companies. Specifically, there were some follow-through issues in cleaning up some things that affected how she rated JCK. She could not speak as to how the other engineers rated JCK.
Member Nagy commented since Ms. McClain is the City Engineer, she respects her position. However, as a lay person, she would never hire Giffels-Webster again after the South Lake Drive project. She said she would support the motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that as he understood it, 13 proposals were received, and all 13 were reviewed by the City’s Engineering Department. JCK ranked #2 in the Department’s final rankings. According to the standards being used today – not 5 years ago – the company ranked #2, and was the lowest bid by at least $38,000. The #1 bid, Ayers Lewis, is $42,733 more expensive than the JCK bid. The $40,000 that Council had just spent on retirees was made up for with this contract if Council were to approve it. He understood that the City had experienced some problems with JCK in the past, but when the company ranks second out of 13 companies, he did not have concerns. He said he was confident that the company would do a good job for the City, and said he could support the proposal.
Mr. Fisher noted that there had been a comment about favoritism for this project, and suggested asking the City Engineer to comment whether there was any favorable treatment given to this engineering firm relative to clarifications on their bid.
Ms. McClain stated that there was no favoritism provided to JCK. She had questions for Giffels-Webster because they did not provide a schedule. She also had questions for Ayers, Lewis and Anderson, Eckstein, on profiles and details, as well as soil erosion. These were things that the Department was looking for in the bid submissions. What Council had received in its packet were clarifications specifically for JCK. She had received verbal clarifications on the other issues, but did not provide a paper copy because the other companies were not being recommended.
Mayor Csordas noted that mentioned earlier were potential cost overruns and a lesser quality of work. He asked what safeguards the City has in place to protect against this.
Ms. McClain said this was a not-to-exceed contract, so there would be no additional costs. If JCK’s costs ran over what the contract allocated for, the company would have to shoulder those costs. As far as the quality of work, the City will have to keep an eye on the company as it would with any firm. She hoped there would be no degradation in quality.
Member Paul noted that she lives in Westmont Village, and wished to discuss some of the past work that JCK had been involved in, Westmont Village being one. The City has a $300,000 project underway to rectify past work in that subdivision because water ran uphill and edge drains were not in place. Some of the problems were not JCK’s fault, so she could not blame JCK for all of the problems, as the previous administration and DPW director were also at fault. The City has an engineering firm that served the City for 25 years, subdivisions that are below standard, and edge drains that were supposed to have been in place since the 1950’s but were not brought forth by any firm to the City prior to installation of concrete roads. The City will have to pay many thousands of dollars, probably several million dollars, to rectify problems that probably could have been fixed the first time through. Replacing substandard roads creates very high costs for the City because they are paid for twice. While she did not believe that JCK was completely at fault for past road problems, she said she would not support the motion to give JCK an award of bid.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-011 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Capello, Gatt, Nagy
Nays: Lorenzo, Paul
9. Consideration to approve the Resolution Adopting Emergency Response Fee Schedule.
CM-04-01-012 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Resolution Adopting Emergency Response Fee Schedule.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-01-012 Yeas: Landry, Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
MAYOR AND COUNCIL ISSUES
1. State of the City Address – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said she wished to bring this to Council’s attention to compare what had been done in the past versus what was being done this year. Mayor Clark had included more citizens in involvement with the Address by having it held at the City. One year, he presented the Address both at the Chamber of Commerce and at the City. She asked whether Mayor Csordas could also give the Address at both the Chamber and the City. It is very generous of the Chamber of Commerce to host the Address, but she also proposed setting a date on the calendar for a City-held Address for the general citizenry as well. This could be held at a more convenient time than 11:30 a.m., and would allow for greater participation. She asked administration to propose some dates that may be appropriate for the Address.
Mayor Csordas said he would be happy to give the Address at another event as well. He wanted to take the speech back to the Chamber, where it had been held for a long time, since this provided a high turnout. The Address is recorded and will be shown on cable as well. He had seen the work that went into putting the event together. City employees did a great job when the Address was held at the Civic Center, but he did not want to impose that burden on the employees. The Chamber enjoyed having the Address as one of their annual events, and this gave the City’s employees a chance to enjoy that time and not have to put in the extra hours. He had also spoken with the City Manager about this, and Mr. Helwig confirmed that the first time the Address was held at the City, there were about 30 people other than employees who attended, but the next year the participation dropped to less than half that number. He did not want the Address to be another special event that would require the time of City employees, but would be willing to give the Address at another event. The move was not at all intended to deny anyone access to what is going on in the City. He said he would be willing to do whatever Council wished on the matter.
Member Paul suggested using a television screen to show the State of the City Address in the lobby if this was possible.
Mr. Helwig noted that the City did not have the screens that Member Paul referred to, as these are very expensive.
Member Capello noted that he had also seen the attendance drop when the Address was brought to the Civic Center during the evening. Most of the faces that came to the Civic Center also came to the luncheon Address, but more came to the luncheon. He felt it was a good idea to bring the speech back to the Chamber where there will be more exposure.
Mayor Csordas said that Council could take a look at events coming up, and he would speak with people as suggested.
Member Lorenzo remarked that if the Address could be accommodated at the Chilly Willy event, this would be a good event to give the speech at.
Member Nagy said that while she did not want to take anything away from the citizens of the City, she also felt there would likely be a greater audience at the Chamber-held Address.
Mr. Klaver reminded Council that on Saturday, January 24th, the City would hold the Homeowner’s Association Leadership Breakfast, and suggested that this might be a very appropriate venue for the Address.
Mayor Csordas felt this was a great suggestion, and said he would be happy to give the speech at that breakfast.
Council consensus was for Mayor Csordas to give the Address at the January 24th Homeowner’s Association Leadership Breakfast.
Member Capello asked Mr. Klaver if City Council members served the Homeowner’s Association leadership at the last breakfast, or if Council just attended the breakfast.
Mayor Csordas replied that Council had only attended the breakfast, but asked Member Capello if he would like Council to serve. Member Capello felt this would be a great idea.
2. Creating a DDA district in the Novi Road/Grand River Quadrant – Member Capello
Member Capello noted that one of Council’s goals from the previous year was to take another look at Main Street and do something, which Council had not yet started. Council should look into the entire quadrant at Novi Road and Grand River Avenue. He said he would ask for consensus from Council to ask Mr. Fisher and administration to come back to Council in the next few meetings with information on what it would take to establish a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for that district. From what he understood, the City could capture some of the tax money that goes outside of the City to the County and State, and keep that money within the district to benefit that area. He felt the City could get some money to help with the Fendt piece. There will be environmental problems on that site, which is likely a reason that that company does not want to move. The DDA may be an avenue to recoup some brownfield money to offer Fendt an incentive to move. Without costing tax payers any money, the City could look at building a parking structure in the area to deal with some of the parking problems in that district. He wanted Council to give Mr. Fisher and Mr. Helwig the direction to come back to Council with information on what it would take to establish a DDA for those 4 quadrants, and the benefits and detriments to have a DDA established.
Council consensus was to direct administration and Mr. Fisher to come back to Council within the next few meetings with this information.
3. 52-1 District Court – Member Capello
Member Capello said Mr. Fisher would come back to Council at the next meeting. Representative DeRoche has offered his support, not only as a Representative, but has also offered his staff to help Mr. Fisher determine what it takes to establish the legislation to have the 52-1 Court be transferred to a municipal court. About a year ago, there were some meetings with some of the larger municipalities such as Commerce Township, Lyon Township, and perhaps Wixom. He asked Council to direct Mr. Helwig and Mr. Fisher contact representatives from those municipalities and see if they are still interested in moving forward on the Court transfer so that Novi is not taking the issue on by itself. In addition, the potential financial impact information could be gathered for Council so that a package can be compiled on the item.
Mr. Fisher said he had held a discussion with Representative DeRoche’s support person that day, and they had provided some information that would help the City in compiling its notes. His associate had met with the Court, and the indication was that the Court was already in the process of compiling financial information.
Mayor Csordas noted that this component was absolutely critical. He would not allow Council to become obligated to something that the City would have to financially subsidize. He said he wanted to see information about the possible transfer. He asked if Farmington Hills had this situation.
Mr. Fisher replied that the Farmington/Farmington Hills Court only serves those two communities, but the Bloomfield/Bloomfield Hills/West Bloomfield/Birmingham is a multi-community group, and as he understood it Northville does as well.
Mayor Csordas said he would like to see a cost analysis, as he wanted to make sure that there would be no taxpayer subsidies going to any of the courts. As prudent due diligence, he wanted this, as well as the benefits, to be big components of the information package.
Member Lorenzo said that the Mayor had mentioned her greatest concern with the court transfer. From her perspective, Council was dealing with the issue backwards. The first thing that should be done is to look at a fiscal impact analysis, not to ask Mr. Fisher to do work for Council on this at $135 per hour, or have legislators or other community members do work. If the financial structure is unfavorable, the transfer "is dead in the water." Employees with health insurance mean increased costs. She could not see how the Court would be a revenue generator for the City. She questioned who would own the building that the Court is housed in, or if the City would have to lease the building or maintain the building. The last thing that the City needs is another building in its inventory, as it does not even do a good job of maintaining the buildings that it currently has.
Member Lorenzo wondered how the Court could possibly make money for the City when the cost of healthcare is clearly increasing year by year. It is one thing for the City, which receives most of its revenue from property taxes, as this is a stable source of revenue. However, the Court’s income comes from fines and court costs, which are not stable and will fluctuate from year to year. She would be shocked if there was any money in the transfer for the City, as this will cost Novi money. The City has other priorities to worry about, such as Police, Fire, and DPW, things that service the citizens the most. She felt there had been consensus to wait for an administrative report, as there was no motion to direct Mr. Fisher to do anything according to the minutes. The City spent $500 when Mr. Fisher met with the District Court judges, and when Mr. Fisher’s associate gave Council information on the court. The minutes also implied that the City would pay the bill up front for the judges, and then would eventually get this back, though "eventually" was not defined. She felt "serious trepidation" about what Council was discussing, and questioned why it would do this. Employees are not profitable for a City. From what she understood, the County offers different health benefits to its employees. She commented that the City was opening Pandora’s Box with the court discussions.
Mayor Csordas clarified that he has an open mind to the court discussion, but said he was truly neutral in opinion. He wanted to see the financial impact analysis before making any decisions. He supported the recommendation of checking into the possibilities, and believed that any type of due diligence would require an investment.
Member Nagy noted that this was a new Council that had not received updates as to what the previous Council had determined as priorities to accomplish. She has been a regular viewer of Council meetings, and did not recall the 52-1 Court being in the top ten of that priorities list. Council needs to inform viewers of what goals and priorities are for the coming year for the City. It would be prudent to perform a fiscal analysis to determine how much the court transfer would cost in the long-run. While the City needs more police, she has an even greater concern about the Fire Department. The number of residents and the amount of roads within the City are increasing, but the number of employees and equipment for the DPW are not being increased. Her greatest obligation is to the residents of Novi and to ensure the greatest basic services possible. She would like to know what priorities were laid out by the previous Council. She also said she would like to ease into the court transfer process. She said she would rather wait until budget time to discuss the court transfer.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that the issue of investigating a class III court was agreed upon as a City Council goal by the last Council. A majority of the Council considered the item, and felt it would be wise to investigate the court. The only reason to consider the court transfer would be for the financial interest of the City. If for no other reason, the class III court would have to be for the financial benefit of the City. Nobody on Council would make any action without seeing a fiscal impact study. However, these studies "do not just pop up out of the air" – it takes peoples’ time to create an impact study. Part of that study would be to state what legislation must be passed, legally what documents must be created, what other municipalities must agree, and what contracts and agreements have to be negotiated between different municipalities. To do this type of a fiscal impact study, some legal work must be done. Personally he does not want to be penny wise and pound foolish. Mr. Fisher’s work may cost $135 an hour, and the study may cost $3,000, but in the end the City may be able to make money. Representative DeRoche had offered the City some of the attorneys on his staff to help defray the costs. All that was being discussed was to move slowly and get a comprehensive impact study. If Council is to look at the transfer seriously, he suggested spending the proper amount of money to obtain a quality report and fiscal impact study. Employees are profitable to him, in that when he needs a police officer or a firefighter and they’re there, this is profitable. The City will add employees as more residents come, as it cannot provide citizens the product they deserve without adding those employees. He said he supported the concept of creating an impact study, as long as this was done properly. He wanted Mr. Fisher to be part of the team to prepare the fiscal impact study and let Council know how to wisely look into the program.
Member Paul felt that discussion on this court system was very important, as there are 73 employees that are part of that system. All of Council wants to make sure that the proposal would be prudently responsible to the citizens of the City. She also wanted to make note of an enlightening conversation that she had with a police officer. The City is supposed to receive half of the money generated by tickets written in the City by the police; however, this doesn’t really happen, as different entities take money from that 50% share. In addition, if an officer is supposed to appear in court because the ticket was challenged, that officer can easily sit for an hour or two of paid time in court, which negates any money that was made by the City on the ticket. One of the comments made by the police officer with whom she spoke was that the City could make much more money on that same ticket because more of the money would stay in the City. Possibly, the City could have a traffic bureau and pay for 3 or 4 more police officers. Currently the City has 68 police officers, and depending on which report is used, Novi is down about 13 officers. She would like to see the fiscal impact analysis, and said Council owes it to the residents to look at the possible transfer very prudently. Administration has agreed to do this, the Court personnel have agreed to do this, and so has Mr. Fisher. If the City can make money and have more police officers, then it needs to proceed carefully.
Member Gatt pointed out that he worked for the City of Novi for a long time and now works for the County, which the 52-1 District Court belongs to. Every employee at the Court is a County employee. When the study is conducted, he advised whoever would prepare that study to compare apples to apples. The Farmington Court just recently opened; the Rochester Court is a County court that is just opening. He questioned what the City would do with the 76 employees that currently work for the 52-1 Court. The pension plans, health care plans, and everything else are much different for the Court.
Member Capello asked if Judge McKenzie had ever contacted the City and offer the tree services that he had previously mentioned.
Mr. Helwig replied that he had never heard back from Judge McKenzie.
Member Capello said the Judge had committed to him to give the City licensed personnel, who will remove some ash trees in Novi. Getting additional benefits from the Court is another level to consider in the possible transfer of the Court.
Mr. Helwig mentioned that he wanted to try to reach shared expectations upon Council, as the current expectations might have been a bit unrealistic. This has been a topic for several years. City Council established this goal as a long-term goal; the City has 26 short-term goals and 11 long-term goals. Administration will be reporting on these on the 15th of the month, which he hoped would be helpful to new members of Council who are new to the goals. This goal sits in the middle of the long-term goals. Even before this became a goal, there were discussions about the item. Administration’s first response was always to have the Court assemble a financial performa of what this would look like for the City, in a multi-year format. Over the holidays the judges had communications with administration, and the Court has now hired someone part-time to do this. He believes this performa will take time to assemble, and it will also take time for the City to analyze and compare it and contrast it to other courts that Mr. Fisher had mentioned. He said that realistically, Council would have something on January 26th via Mr. Fisher or Representative DeRoche, which would be an understanding of the process. In terms of the financial performa, he has still not heard when that will be delivered to the City. The most important thing that the City will do during the next 3 months, other than basic services, is build a proposed budget for Council’s consideration and deliberation. With a new Council and a new post-Sandstone era, it will be a different climate, and Council members will have more of an impact on where to take this City in terms of key services, key support, and other factors. He would like to have the budget document to be the carrier of whatever information administration has been able to compile at that point. Rather than having an expectation of a specific date to have something for consideration, administration can provide everything that it has received as a chapter in the budget document in 3 months. Then, Council can decide to deal with it, discuss it in the budget process, or set it aside for a separate policy work session after the budget discussions have concluded. This discussion and process will take time, as this is not something that could be implemented July 1st given all the complexities.
Mayor Csordas remarked that he felt Mr. Helwig had the consensus for an impact study. He asked why Council could not do something as simple as ask for the audit advice and financial statement for 2002. He felt the audit and financial statement for 2002 might be a good roadmap to get started upon.
Mr. Helwig said that by a financial performa, he meant a document that would spell out what the City-hosted court would look like, what the expectations would be for benefits, for salaries, for additional people, and for rent or owning a facility. This would be an estimate of what lies ahead, and that has not been forthcoming for the few years that this has been discussed as a concept.
Council consensus was to follow the process for a financial performa as outlined by Mr. Helwig, as well as to contact other communities to gauge their interest.
4. Establishing a Main Street Committee – Member Capello
Member Capello said that one of the goals set by Council in the previous year was to take a look at Main Street, which Council has not done anything with. There have been issues with parking in that area, with Local Color moving their brewery out, and a bank and insurance company have taken over several buildings and vacant land. Now is the time for Council to take a look at Main Street, with all of the changes that have occurred in the last year, and figure out what is needed to be done besides the DDA to move forward. Council should establish a committee to go to Main Street, gather information, and inform and advise Council on how to move Main Street forward.
Mayor Csordas commented that this sounded like the Town Center Steering Committee.
CM-04-01-013 Moved by Capello, seconded by ; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To establish a committee, to be named by the Mayor, to gather information and report back to Council on the current status of the Main Street area and provide suggestions on how to move that area forward.
Mayor Csordas asked who would comprise this committee.
Member Capello said he just wanted a Council committee for the time being. Council needs to have the facts gathered and reported back to it.
Mayor Csordas suggested that two members of Council and one member of administration comprise the committee, which Member Capello said would be fine.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry volunteered to also serve on the committee.
Member Nagy also volunteered to serve on the committee.
Mayor Csordas suggested expanding the committee to include 3 Council members and a one administrative staff member, which Member Capello said he welcomed.
Member Nagy noted that she had worked on Main Street with the Master Plan Committee. She felt there may be more creative ideas to incorporate into that area.
Mayor Csordas said a name would later be determined for the committee, and noted that Member Capello, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, and Member Nagy would serve on it.
Mr. Helwig said that Mr. Pearson would also serve on the committee.
5. Tentative Meeting with Lyon Township – Member Capello
Member Capello asked Mr. Helwig if he had a chance to contact Lyon Township yet, as requested at an earlier meeting.
Mr. Helwig said that Mr. Pearson had conversed with an individual from Lyon Township.
Mr. Pearson said that he had spoken with the Superintendent of Lyon Township, who will take the request to their next Board meeting, which was that evening. Since that time, he has also had conversations on the City’s master plan update and the thoroughfare plan. This information may be helpful for that discussion as well. He suggested that administration look at this, take some more information, and distribute that to everyone before the meeting so that participants are informed for that meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if anyone felt it would be more beneficial for the planning commissions of Novi and Lyon Township to meet first.
Mayor Csordas replied that he felt this was a great idea.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that he did not object at all to meeting, but felt that the entities that spend the greatest amount of time looking at the master plan could meet first, and then Council could follow up after that meeting.
Member Capello said he respectfully disagreed with Mayor Pro Tem Landry, as he felt that some of the members of the Lyon Township Board of Trustees also served on their Planning Commission, as this is allowed in a township. He wanted to get together to establish some policy first and then direct the planning commissions to meet if needed.
Mayor Csordas asked Member Paul if she would prefer to have the Council meet or the Planning Commission meet first.
Member Paul felt that the Planning Commission should meet first.
Member Gatt agreed with Member Capello that Council should first meet.
Member Capello said he wanted the Council to meet first.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry wanted the Planning Commission to meet first.
Member Lorenzo desired the Planning Commission to meet.
Member Nagy also wanted the Planning Commission to meet first, since Lyon Township’s Planning Commission even attended the City’s master plan and zoning meetings.
Mayor Csordas said he did not need to voice an opinion, as there was already a majority vote for the Planning Commission to meet first with Lyon Township.
6. Palushaj Site Plan – Member Paul
Member Paul said she had read a December 15th letter from Secrest, and asked why, when Palushaj’s site plan had expired, the City would not require them to comply with the new storm water regulations.
Mayor Csordas said he was not familiar with this letter.
Mr. Fisher said he was not entirely familiar with this letter, but said Mr. Schultz had performed a very thorough investigation on it, and determined from the City Engineers that the system, as it was approved, was adequate and satisfactory. If the City had required the company to go back to square one, there was a prospect of litigation that the City would probably lose.
Member Paul said this hard for her to understand. If a site plan has expired, all of the ordinances now on the books have to apply. Westmont Village has no storm water ordinance or retention basin, and they have all kinds of problems with their roads and edge drains. This is also impacting Royal Crown and Addington Park. The City has an opportunity, now that the site plan has expired, to actually have this comply with the new ordinances.
Mr. Pearson said that on the specific issue, the site plan had not expired. Palushaj provided documentation, and there was work they continued. Administration had made a determination that the site plan had not expired for that particular development.
Member Paul said the letter that she referred to stated that Palushaj’s site plan had expired.
Mr. Pearson said that administration had obtained additional information. Palushaj provided additional documentation that showed they proceeded with the project, so it did not meet the criteria for having expired.
Member Paul said that since this information had changed, the issue should be addressed on the next agenda. She wanted to know why the legal letter stated that the site plan had expired, but now the site plan has not.
Mr. Pearson said that he could have something in that week’s Thursday packet regarding the expiration, and suggested that Mr. Fisher could supplement this with the storm water general implications.
Mayor Csordas said he also wanted a legal opinion included in that as well.
Member Lorenzo said she wholeheartedly agreed with Member Paul. She was very disappointed with that opinion, which stated that the City was not obligated to require Palushaj to comply. The City needs to look out for it and the ordinances, not how the developer or the applicant can get out of doing something. As far as she was concerned, Palushaj should be obligated. What she said to Mr. Schultz on a voice mail message that day was that in her experience on the Planning Commission and on the City Council, someone must start from scratch and comply with everything when their site plan expires. She felt a lawsuit may be created when one person is treated differently than everyone else. She wanted to see documentation on why the site plan was originally expired, but then was determined not to be expired.
Member Capello asked if there were some facts involved where Palushaj relied upon some representations of the City that brought them into this gray area.
Mr. Fisher replied that there were 2 properties side by side, and there was an interrelating easement across the property that basically fixed the rights.
7. Alcan Automotive – Member Paul
Member Paul said that not too long ago there were two newspaper articles about Alcan Automotive, an aluminum company that was coming to the area. She requested Barb McBeth to tell Council if this was really coming forward, and what type of company this really was. There are many different problems that accompany aluminum companies. South Lyon has a very large problem with sound ordinances not being complied with, as well as environmental water and odor problems. She wanted to know what the City was getting into with the company, what type of business it actually is, and if it complies with the City’s zoning.
Mayor Csordas said he had attended the grand opening of that facility, and it is immaculately clean. The company has an environmental furnace in the middle of the building. He said the building was very sophisticated and high-tech. The company is actually doing extrusions there, not production and melting. He noted that the company is already operating, and said it is a "beautiful facility."
Member Paul said she appreciated the Mayor’s comments, as what was alluded to in the Novi News was a concern.
8. The Preserve – Member Paul
Member Paul said that Council had received a letter dated January 2nd that discussed the Preserve. She believed the letter was from the developer, Robert Halso. The letter discussed in the fourth paragraph, "together with the construction of the trail connection would also serve to satisfy the open space and recreation features required for the RUD approval." She asked if this path was being constructed by the Preserve’s developer.
Mr. Helwig noted that all of this has to go forward to the Planning Commission before Council sees it. The proposal is to continue what Council consummated with Singh, where the Preserve would donate open space - he believed about 45 acres - that would bring the total to about 250 acres. The Preserve would also finish the trail where it is left off by Singh at the southwest corner of the City’s property, down to Nine Mile Road. The proposal is to take the policy direction ratified by Council for Singh and the Links of Novi, and extend this to the Preserve.
Member Paul thanked Mr. Helwig. She asked for clarification of what "together" meant, such as whether this was in conjunction with the City.
Mr. Helwig said "together" meant the developer, as Council had authorized on the other properties.
Member Paul said Council initially talked about turning the 250-acre parcel over to the Master Plan and Zoning Committee and having it come back to Council to try and have dedicated parkland. She asked if this was something that was being done with the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission and also the Planning Commission.
Mr. Helwig said that Mr. Evancoe was given the assignment to move forward with the item at the Planning Commission, so it is starting there.
Member Paul asked when Council would see the item, as she would like to see a 250-acre parcel of parkland turned over and dedicated.
Mr. Helwig replied that this would be as soon as the change to the master plan comes back from the Planning Commission.
9. South Lake Drive – Member Nagy
Member Nagy said she had received some telephone calls from residents. One of the interesting things that she had found, and was disappointed by, was that the street in front of South Pointe condominiums was completely flooded. She did not see how the drains along the road were sloping to drain water to the catch basin. There was an inordinate amount of "no parking" signs along the drive, which she did not feel were necessary. She returned and saw that some of these had been removed, but felt that these signs detracted from the view of the residents. She asked for more oversight about these issues on future projects. Soil erosion control at the turn from Old Novi Road to South Lake Drive is a large problem. She had not heard anything about what happened to the culvert there. Council had discussed the culvert several meetings ago, and she asked for an update on what happened with this at the next meeting. She asked if Chief Lenaghan or Mr. McCusker had taken a trial run through the boulevards. When a person enters those boulevards, they are hitting curbs, and she did not feel this would be good for the Fire Department or the DPW. She felt that the project was disappointing and had not turned out as well as East Lake did. She asked for an answer regarding the erosion control, the catch basins, and the removal of the signs.
Mr. Helwig asked to respond to each of those issues in the Thursday packet, and said that if Council wished, administration could further discuss those at the next meeting.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION -None
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 10:18 p.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: January 26, 2004