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REGULAR MEETING OF
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello – absent/excused, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy and Paul
ALSO PRESENT: Rick Helwig – City Manager
Craig Klaver – Chief Operating Officer
Gerald Fisher – City Attorney
Clay Pearson – Assistant City Manager
Nancy McClain – City Engineer
Brian Coburn – City Engineer
Doug Pakkala – JCK & Associates
Randy Auler – Director of Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Kathy Smith-Roy – Director of Finance
Cindy Uglow – Director of Neighborhood Services
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Lorenzo added Mayor and Council Issues Item #1, communication gaps and continuity in plan approvals.
Member Nagy added Mayor and Council Issues Item #2, Toll Brothers.
Member Paul added Mayor and Council Issues Item #3, legal fees.
CM-04-03-087 Moved by Landry, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as amended.
Voice Vote on CM-04-03-087 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
1. Water Distribution Study and Master Plan Update
- Clay Pearson, Nancy McClain, and Brian Coburn
Mr. Helwig said administration was delighted to finally have this report for Council. The water distribution study is a very important blueprint for the community. It has been many years since Novi had a plan, and this has never been formally adopted by Council.
Mr. Pearson said that, as Mr. Helwig had mentioned, the last study was actually completed in 1987. During the last 16 years Novi has changed, making the timeliness of this report very important. JCK was awarded this contract and has done the analysis and review of the City’s current conditions, and also some of the modeling that Council would hear about later. Administration also formed a staff team to review the draft report and make sure that the consultant’s perspective and the outside viewer’s perspective, as well as other views were incorporated into the document. This cross-departmental team was also instrumental during the last few months in reviewing the document at great detail.
Mr. Pearson noted that there are several purposes to any water study. Perhaps one of the most important is that this is addressing the existing and future needs for the key elements that must be balanced as part of any water system. Those elements are supply, storage, pressure, and reliability. The uses of the water study are for the development community, when they come with a project proposal, to make sure that what is presented fits into the City’s plans. Also, the study is a key planning document for the City itself as it budgets for future years and to make sure that key goals are achieved for reliability, redundancy, and other elements. All of these projects cannot be accomplished in one year. It is important to identify priorities through the process, then start to plan, design, engineer and construct those. He said that at some point it was important to have formal adoption in some manner by the City Council. This was an element that administration did not previously have. The adopter study will be the guide for the future capital improvements programs and the developers of the City.
Mr. Coburn said that the water system for the City of Novi began in 1964 when the City initiated a contract with the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, which provides the water. This system provided services to the southeastern portion of the City. In the mid 1970’s, an additional system was constructed to serve Twelve Oaks Mall. In 1976 the two systems were combined under a bond issue. Presently, the City expands the system as development occurs. The City’s topography generally slopes from higher in the north and west to lower in the south and east. Detroit supplies the City currently at 4 locations, soon to be 5. Three (3) of those are off of the Eight Mile Road feed located at Center Street, Meadowbrook Road and Eight Mile, and Haggerty and Ten Mile. The City also currently has a feed at Novi Road and Fourteen Mile, and another that will soon be online at West Park and Pontiac Trail. 94% of the current supply comes from the existing Fourteen Mile connection.
Mr. Coburn said the City has 4 pressure districts, with the north having the highest pressure. The pressure districts are regulated by pressure reducing valves. The feed comes most from the north and moves south through the pressure reducing valves to serve the lower elevations, with the exception of Island Lake, which is served by the booster pump. Demand has increased during the recent past; the number of water users has exploded with the matching increase in population. The average day’s demand for water in Novi is 5.2 million gallons per day. The maximum day demand, usually for a hot summer day in June, July or August, is 2.5 times the average daily demand. Peak hour demand in Novi is between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Mr. Coburn said that JCK developed the computer model to examine the City’s system and find its deficiencies. In order to do this, the company set up the model to monitor the 12-inch and larger water mains in the system; this is standard to ease the analysis of the system. The model looked for optimal pressures ranging between 60 and 80 pounds per square inch. The City does not want to accept pressures that are less than 35 pounds per square inch. The absolute minimum pressure allowable under any condition is 20 pounds per square inch, which includes the fire flow condition. The model is calibrated to look at the actual field conditions and compare that with the model’s conditions.
Ms. McClain said that as a result of the modeling done by JCK, it was found that the City’s water system is in "pretty good shape." Generally, pressures are favorable in the City and there are no problems with operations. There are a few solutions being worked on at the moment which will eliminate almost all of the existing pressure problems. Two of these are currently under construction: the 24-inch water main crossing at I-96 to west of the new Expo Center site, which will bring water down Twelve Mile Road to Grand River, and will boost water pressures in the western part of the City, as will the additional connection to the system at West Park. This connection will give another point closer to the western part of the City that Novi is getting water from. The third project up for completion this year is currently in final approval; the City will have final approval of the booster station at West Park within the month of March. These three projects will take care of most of the City’s water pressure problems.
Ms. McClain said that for the CIP plan, two issues needed to be addressed; one is friction loss along Beck Road. There is friction in pipes, and when water has to travel a long way it loses pressure. Beck Road has a smaller pipe, so a great deal of pressure is lost along it. The City also has low pressure areas near Eight Mile between Beck and Garfield Roads, and on the Wixom and Grand River Avenue areas. There are solutions for these areas in the CIP: one is a large diameter water tank somewhere along Beck Road, which is still conceptual. A tank is also needed somewhere in the southwest portion of the City in the future. These two areas are in the City’s high elevation areas. The third thing that must be examined is build-out, which for Novi is estimated at 2030. It must be assumed that all of the listed CIP are implemented, that Novi gets consistent pressures from Detroit, and that the minimum pressure obtained at Napier Road and Nine Mile will be 35 psi (pounds per square inch). Based on this, then the CIP is implemented, the City will be fine.
Ms. McClain commented that one of the greatest recommendations of the engineering department’s is for storage. The City needs to look at being able to have a minimum of 2 days’ worth of storage, which is about 10 million gallons. The 10 million gallon station just went in at Fourteen Mile and Haggerty; however, that is not 100% for the City of Novi, as it is a shared system. The City gets 70 to 80% of that storage, so other storage is needed elsewhere in the community to reach the 10 million gallon storage level. The second thing that Novi needs is redundancy: connections to other municipalities, and the ability to boost water from the lower pressure district into the higher pressure district. This will help if there is another water main break so water can be pushed up through the system, continuing to provide water to people.
Ms. McClain said the engineering department’s recommendations are to implement the CIP program as it is proposed. The CIP program was created based on the computer model. The department has worked with finance, planning, and with the DPW for the operational issues to see how this will work. This will also help improve reliability and will fill in the gaps in the existing system.
Ms. McClain highlighted major water projects. Right now in the area of Grand River, Beck Road, and Twelve Mile, is the booster station and the crossing. The second connection is going in at Fourteen Mile. The City needs to continue discussions with DWSD; implement the maintenance program, which the department of public works is doing; and possibly create service district restrictions. Novi has some areas that are only allowed to connect in for fire flows, not yet for potable water, until the pressures can be elevated in that area. The City has a program called the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisitions, SCADA. This allows the City to directly monitor pressures from Detroit and detect and react to problems in the system. If there is a water main break, the City could then easily shift operations to keep as many people on water as possible.
Ms. McClain continued: future actions will be to review the CIP on an annual basis as is currently done; use the water model in-house to evaluate large developments, which will be important as more come on track in the western part of the City. Detroit is currently updating their water master plan, and Novi will need to review that to make sure the City is in line with Detroit’s plan. Also, the City needs to continue to update its own water master plan. With Novi’s growth, this update needs to be done every 5 to 7 years.
Ms. McClain introduced the water study team: Jeff Johnson of the fire department, Gary Clark and Tom Lovelady of public works, Stephanie Sharpe of finance, Debbie Aubrey of the manager’s office, Jeff Hall and Marina Neumaier of finance, Dave Evancoe from planning, Benny McCusker from public works, and also Brian Coburn and herself from engineering.
Mayor Csordas thanked the City representatives for the water study report. He could not imagine anything more important than water supply to the City. Everyone sees the roads and their potholes, but the water supply is absolutely critical. He has wondered for a long time when the second line would be run underneath I-96, as this is very important. He believes there is a need for water storage in that part of the City. He asked if the Novi Expo Center water tower services the City at all.
Ms. McClain replied that this is a private facility for fire protection.
Mayor Csordas asked if the same situation applied to the water tower at Twelve Oaks mall.
Ms. McClain responded that this was correct.
Mayor Csordas asked if the City, in essence, has no water storage facilities above ground, other than the one shared with another community on Fourteen Mile and Haggerty.
Ms. McClain said this was correct. The facility at Fourteen Mile and Haggerty is owned by the DWSD, and it is shared with Wixom, Commerce Township, and Walled Lake.
Mayor Csordas commented that this was referred to as underground storage, but it did not appear as underground storage to him when he drove by.
Ms. McClain said that the Fourteen Mile tank is a partially-buried ground storage tank.
Mayor Csordas said this tank is supported by pumps to the rest of the City. It is interesting to note that 94% of the City’s water comes from that one hole, which means that the tank must be monitored very closely.
Member Nagy thanked the study group for preparing the report. She asked Mr. Pakkala how the constant changes in the sizes of developments impact the water study. Many times, an area’s density will be doubled or tripled.
Mr. Pakkala said that Mr. Helwig was correct in saying that in the past few years, there have been a number of delays in the study, mostly with Detroit getting meter data. There have been some significant developments that were proposed and approved in Novi, such as the Sandstone development and the Erickson development. When mass concentrations of 1300 or 1400 units are placed in a small area, these have very significant effects on demand. When the initial study was compiled in 1987, a lot of assumptions were made of what would happen the following 15 years with the Detroit system. The first assumption was something referred to as the "west metro loop." The west metro loop was first proposed in 1969, then in 1979, and again in 1989 and 1999. The city of Detroit says that this west metro loop is still 15 to 20 years away, so Novi needs to be examined as needing to be self-sufficient. Many of the initial assumptions were based on the western part of Novi being served from Napier Road, which obviously has not happened. In the initial master plan of Novi, everything west of Beck was going to be 2-acre lots with well and septic. This has now been pushed to Napier Road. The water system has been stressed because of the westward push of development and some delays in Detroit improvements. Other things, like the Links of Novi site and the Island Lakes developments have created increased density in a most-difficult area to serve. The Links of Novi has the highest elevation in the City, and it is also the furthest from the feed.
Ms. McClain said that something Mr. Pakkala had done in the study that was not mentioned was the taking into account of projected developments. For instance, the Links of Novi development was factored into the water study.
Member Nagy said that it was common to hear that Detroit will be extending the water main from Five Mile and Napier to Proud Lake, which is supposed to be in the Detroit water plan. She asked if this would take place, or if this was something similar to what he had previously mentioned, where Detroit master plans the item but nothing happens.
Mr. Pakkala replied that he knows the State Health Department has been pushing the city of Detroit because there are limits in both systems, both at the southern system that services Northville Township and Canton and at the northern system at Fourteen Mile Road, which is a dead end. While 10 million gallons of water might seem like a lot of storage, it really is not. The original Detroit water master plan called for 30 million more gallons in Proud Lake and at the south to give storage and availability for feeding water from both sides. Even if Detroit started working on that project today, it would be a 10-year project.
Member Nagy asked if the City should really be looking at storage, or if it should wait for the city of Detroit to implement its master plan. Not only would it cost the City a great deal to construct a water tower, but there would be other costs such as for maintenance as well.
Mr. Pakkala replied that 10 years ago there was one PRV separating the high pressure district from the medium pressure district, and one PRV that was the master that controlled the three pressure plains that Ms. McClain had mentioned. Now there are 3 separate PRV’s, which can cause problems like false readings. As the system becomes more complex, it requires much more maintenance. Pressure reducing valves have to be checked and adjusted to make sure they are reacting properly. Storage can be good or bad, but is a good pressure equalizer. However, that storage must be operated. A common problem faced with storage is retention time. Water received from Detroit has a certain residual chlorine level, which Detroit checks weekly. This is one reason that Novi cannot simply have every water main a 36-inch main, because the water sits in the pipes too long, the chlorine residual level drops, bacteria grows, and water quality problems arise. Water storage works the same way: it can be good, and is good for water pressure, but it must be operated. The SCADA system is one of the key recommendations of the water study. The system is getting bigger and more complex and needs to operate in concert. The SCADA system will allow all the system’s information to be pulled up on a computer screen for examination, rather than needing to communicate with people out in the field. SCADA also allows pressures to be adjusted from the office.
Member Nagy noted that she did not know of any State laws that protect the City’s aquifer. She referred to water bottling issues on the western side of the state, and asked if there was anything that Novi could do to protect the aquifer for residents who are on wells. She wondered if there was anyway that the City protects its underground water.
Mr. Pakkala replied that there have not been any major uses of the aquifer. In Lyon Township, there are a couple of large draws that are proposed where good veins of water were found. His experience is that no high producing, high quality wells have been found in Novi to draw from.
Member Nagy asked if this was then something that Council did not need to worry about.
Mr. Pakkala said he could not envision people "knocking on the door" for the City’s ground water.
Mr. Helwig noted that, in reference to Member Nagy’s question about ground water, he had previously worked for an Ohio community where 400,000 people were totally dependant upon the underground aquifer for their water supply. What is critical with the land uses that are above, particularly where the major wells are, is to have limited industrial parks, which have infiltration problems where wells literally have to shut down; also, there must be the ability to recharge. With much of the legislation that Council looks at, it tries to keep impervious surfaces to a minimum so that nature can recharge the ground water supply and naturally clean it. Land use decisions are very important to be a good steward.
Member Lorenzo remarked that the study was very comprehensive and contained a lot of good information. She asked if the Sandstone development numbers had been analyzed in the study.
Mr. Pakkala replied that they had.
Member Lorenzo noted that the Sandstone area was once park and will now be residential, so it is important to incorporate that into the study. She asked if subdivisions that are already built but will tie into the water system in coming years were considered in the water study.
Ms. McClain said that areas which are expected to come online in the next 7 years were included in the study.
Mr. Pakkala agreed with Ms. McClain. In some subdivisions where people have tied into the system from well water, they have kept their wells for irrigation purposes, which reduces the peak demand from 4:30 to 7:00 in the morning for irrigation.
Member Lorenzo said that when this issue had come up previously, she had made a comment that the City does not want to make improvements to boost water pressure, then later find out that a development will decrease that pressure and defeat the purpose of whatever capital improvements that were installed. She asked if sources of financing for CIP items had been identified.
Ms. McClain replied that for the most part, the source of financing for the CIP items is the water and sewer fund.
Member Lorenzo said that priority items include the I-96 water main crossing and the SCADA system. She agreed with the Mayor’s comments that it is dangerous for the City to be pushing all of its water from one area in town, and would like to see this become a priority. She questioned how future water customers’ needs in areas that area currently vacant will be handled.
Ms. McClain answered that when there is a new development, such as Quail Hollow, the City does not build the development’s water mains – the developer builds their own and what is needed to get water to their site. In addition, the developer then becomes a customer, so the City receives the development’s revenue, including maintenance, for the mains that it will take over. Included in developers’ fees is money to help maintain what is built. The booster station at West Park, for instance, is needed to finish the low pressure remediation in the southwest portion of the City, and is for existing customers. While that station will help for future development, it is needed at this point as well for existing customers.
Member Lorenzo said she must have misunderstood Ms. McClain before, as earlier in the presentation she said Ms. McClain said that the 24-inch water main crossing of I-96 will boost pressures, and the additional connection to the Detroit system at West Park Drive and Pontiac Trail will boost pressures. She said Ms. McClain had not stated that the booster station at West Park Drive and Twelve Mile would boost pressures. She had been under the impression from Mr. Pakkala’s report that the main reason for the booster station was to provide the volume and water necessary for the Eight Mile Road area.
Ms. McClain said the booster station will also boost pressures, which is part of what a booster station does. The first two stations are currently under construction; the second will begin construction in the next couple of months. All stations are scheduled for completion within the year. These three items together will work to eliminate the existing pressure problems in the southwest portion of the City.
Member Lorenzo said that on page 12 of the study, Mr. Pakkala had written that the results of the model indicate only the Eight Mile and Beck to Garfield Road area would be below the 35 psi threshold, and also the area of the proposed Catholic Central site on Wixom Road at 32 psi. The document says the two modeling scenarios were investigated to provide adequate water service to the Eight Mile district, which is the booster station at Twelve Mile Road. The way she understood the study was that the I-96 crossing and the 24-inch increase of the water main on Beck Road would provide enough pressure in those areas right now.
Mr. Pakkala replied that Member Lorenzo’s statement was both correct and incorrect. Right now, demand on the Fourteen Mile Road station from DWSD is fairly limited. The capacities of that station are limited; Detroit needs to work on future improvements such as the Proud Lake extension and the west metro loop. Commerce and Wixom are growing, and the station also serves West Bloomfield, meaning that demands will continue for water service. As this demand increases, the booster station will be needed to level the pressures out.
Member Lorenzo asked if the emergency booster pump in the vicinity of Nine Mile and Novi Roads was needed, as indicated in Mr. Pakkala’s report. She said that he had indicated that this project would allow the middle pressure district to be served with water from the lower pressure district in case of a failure in pressure from the Fourteen Mile connection to Detroit.
Mr. Pakkala replied that this was an emergency feed, as Detroit does not really want Novi to take any more water out of Eight Mile Road, as this system is also stressed. If there is a failure in the Fourteen Mile system then a large portion of the City will be out of water. One of the things learned from the emergencies on Fourteen Mile Road is how to adapt and adjust to problems. There are things that can be done to back feed from systems in West Bloomfield and Commerce Township to feed the north part of Novi. Between Fourteen Mile Road and Eight Mile Road there is a 120-foot elevation difference in the water. Detroit cannot move water there without boosting pressure to 160 pounds. In the event of a failure of the Fourteen Mile Road system, the Twelve Mile station would be a way to feed from the south. This would level the system, feed the existing customers in the west part of the City, and buffer the City against changes in the Detroit system.
Member Lorenzo said she wanted to make sure that the City was putting its dollars to the most efficient use in looking at water pressures and emergency situations. She also expressed concern in how Council will pay for this. Ms. McClain had indicated that development would pay for the maintenance of the system. She asked if this meant that future customers would pay the costs.
Ms. McClain replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo said this was a concern that she had. When reviewing the document, she had taken the information received during the past year from City departments and put this together. Because customers pay per gallon, particularly during peak hours, as the number of customers increases everyone must pay higher water rates. In addition to the water rates that are issued by Detroit, City administration also recommends adding a charge on top of this for maintenance issues, personnel, and other things. She was concerned that as the City grows, as the population expands and the number of customers grows, all City residents will pay the additional costs. If the number of customers will increase by 30% in the next 7 years, then everyone can expect water rates to increase as these new customers are added to the City’s water service. Perhaps instead of passing on the increased costs to the customers in Novi, the City should look at one of two things: either increasing the fees that developers pay toward the system, or look at decreasing what is added on to Detroit’s costs to customers. It is not fair to existing water users to pay additional costs as new customers come online.
Ms. Smith-Roy said that a factor in calculating the rates that the city of Detroit passes on to Novi is the peak factor rate, which is affected by the quantity. Storage can help reduce the effects of the peak factor. However, the peak factor is only one of three factors. She could not say exactly how much this adds to the rate. The greatest impact for the Detroit rate happens to be Novi’s distance, which is why the City’s rates are higher than other communities’. The City charges a capital charge, cap fee charges based on actual constructed facilities, to all users of the system as they tap into the program. Those are the fees that have been held in the water and sewer fund and should be used, in her opinion, for the capital projects that are coming forward. The City does not charge an increasing maintenance rate. For the last 10 years, Novi has either eaten or passed on to its residents the rate increase determined by Detroit, meaning that the City has not had an increase in the maintenance cost rate portion in the last 10 years. The City does have maintenance costs of its own that run approximately $1 million per year, and the philosophy has been that those maintenance costs should be borne by the users of the system today.
Member Lorenzo said that something storage can help with is peaking factors. The peaking factors are going to increase as the City adds new customers online, as more people use the water especially during peak hours. Residents are the customers who use most of the water. If the City needs another storage tank, perhaps some of this should come from SAD’s or something in the system as opposed to being tacked on to the costs of the system’s users. While Island Lake paid for their pump station, the City is maintaining that system. She said she was looking for more equity and fundamental fairness in who actually pays, not only for the capital improvement as it goes into the ground, but who will pay the maintenance in the future. She expressed concern that as the City continues to add water customers by development, it will increase its own rates.
Ms. McClain replied that the peaking factor will remain approximately the same because people tend to use water in the same amounts. As the number of users increases, their use is proportionately increased. There will be more water being used, but each person uses it in approximately the same manner throughout the day, and the peak will stay at approximately the same percentage of the base use.
Member Lorenzo noted that the City would see an increase based on the volume of water used. Council had received a memo in December of 2003 from Victor Mercado from the city of Detroit Water and Sewer Department that said Detroit sets rates for customers (cities) on an annual basis, based on the customers anticipated use of Detroit’s utility services in the coming year. Looking at past uses and growth curves, Detroit projects how much water that customer will use and how much waste water from the customer will be treated. Detroit then sets the rate. Every time the City increases customers, Detroit will increase Novi’s rate. On top of this, Ms. Smith-Roy sets a different charge for maintenance on top of this. As the City goes through these capital improvements, she said she would look for what priorities will best serve existing customers in Novi, and equity in how new areas of the City will be served. She could approve the water study document itself at some time in the future, but did not want to approve a revenue source for the CIP’s mentioned in it, as these are for future discussion.
Mr. Pearson wished to clarify the term "rate" that was used several times. Every month, the City receives a large bill from the DWSD. This bill is for how much water was used at the same rate. The rate is not adjusted every time a new customer moves into town. The City pays the same rate for the amount of water used, and receives that money through the form of a water bill. The developments that are called "new" are approved and are coming. The study addresses how the City is serving Novi residents that are here or will be in the near-future.
Mayor Csordas asked if new taps do not necessarily mean higher rates.
Mr. Pearson replied that this was correct.
Ms. Smith-Roy agreed that this was correct. There is a minimal effect in the peak factor from adding additional users. The reality is, the future users have already been approved to become residents of the City and be allowed to go onto the water system. As a point of clarification on the maintenance costs, it is not practical for the City to segregate the system and calculate maintenance costs on one section. Much of the system services the entire City’s users. As a practical matter, the maintenance costs are combined. There is no intention to add maintenance costs to anyone. The percentage is intended to remain the same even though the City is adding additional components to the system. At this time, the intent is not to come back with higher rates for maintenance.
Mayor Csordas said he understood. There is no reason to markup the cost of the water from the city of Detroit to Novi’s residents. He noted that Novi does not do this now, either. At the time when he was first elected to City Council there had been a few years of rate increases from the city of Detroit that the City of Novi absorbed for its residents. This was not equitable either, and Council changed the policy at that time. It has been 4 years where the rate markup from the city of Detroit was passed on to City of Novi customers, which is fair. Recent newspaper articles have indicated how much other cities markup the cost of water from the city of Detroit to their residents, which is remarkable.
Member Lorenzo said that every year, Detroit sets water rates and municipalities get into a "tug of war" with Detroit over those rates. Based on the volume of water that Novi uses, Detroit may raise Novi’s rates. As the City increases its customer base, the volume of water used will increase. It would also be nice that if the City has millions of dollars in a water and sewer fund, to possibly use this money to cover maintenance costs and possibly reduce water bills. While this may not be possible, it would be good to explore the matter.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that there had been a great deal of discussion about density and the population increase in Novi. The City is currently at about 50,000 people. At build-out, he understood that Novi would have around 80,000 people. The idea that there will be a population increase is no news to Novi. The reason that Council had the water study prepared was so the City can meet the needs of every single household and every person in this town. As people move in, the City will be able to provide water to them according to their needs.
Ms. McClain replied that this was correct and that it was also why the City needs to continue to update the study, so that it can keep up with the increases as they happen.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented that he would hate for anyone to hear the discussion and hear that every time a subdivision goes in, residents’ water rates will increase. The City is on top of the matter, has a master plan and is keeping up with the population and the city of Detroit Water and Sewer Department.
Ms. McClain replied that Mayor Pro Tem Landry was correct.
Member Paul said that when she was on the Planning Commission the storage tanks were discussed. Council is getting ready to look at Providence Hospital. She asked if there was any proposal to put a storage tank deep into the woods that no one would have to look at that could service the west side of the City.
Ms. McClain responded that there have been discussion and there will continue to be discussions with Providence regarding this issue. Storage tanks are not necessarily an eyesore; they can be nice-looking and/or camouflaged. There are different advantages and disadvantages to both elevated tanks and above-ground tanks. As the City continues to talk with Providence, which is also very in tune with the City’s water needs in that region, talks will continue about storage around that campus.
Member Paul remarked that she was very happy to hear this. She knows that there are underground storage tanks with soccer fields over the top of them, completely hiding the tank below. She also knows that there are opportunities for putting storage in the side of a lake, per se. She hoped that all future tanks will not be elevated storage tanks like the lovely ones for the Expo Center and the mall. She asked if the SCADA was proposed in this year’s CIP budget.
Ms. McClain replied that the SCADA system is already partially implemented through Detroit.
Mr. Helwig said the City has coming up this year $250,000 towards installing City-wide instrumentation control system for the City utility system, followed by another $150,000 in the following fiscal year.
Member Paul asked Mr. Helwig if he felt that the City had the funds available to implement that this year.
Mr. Helwig answered that this was correct. This is a $13.4 million program with the exception of one potential SAD, all water and sewer funds. Kathy Smith-Roy has assured him that the money will all be here when the City needs to get the work done.
Ms. McClain said that Detroit has an existing SCADA system that took several years to get online. The City’s system would dovetail in with Detroit’s and allow Novi to not only be able to read off of Detroit’s system, but be able to read the City’s own system and know what was going on throughout Detroit’s system leading to the City’s, and the City’s own system.
Member Paul asked what looking at site plan reviews for water pressure entails.
Ms. McClain said that now that the model has been completed, the City will be adding the system in and be able to see what the impacts of users and flows are. The process is interpretive with the water model. Factors like projected population, pipe size and pipe length are considered and factored into calculations.
Member Paul noted that there was a proposal to review the water study every 5 to 7 years. This year, the City is composing a master plan in the planning department and Planning Commission. She recommended keeping with the 5-year plan to stay on the same track as the master plan. It makes sense to review development occurring in the City at the same time that this will have an impact on the water system.
Mayor Csordas said that administration should prioritize planning capital improvements projects, rather than leaving this to the Capital Improvements Committee.
Member Paul said there was an ad hoc committee meeting with residents of Walled Lake and Novi who are concerned about Walled Lake. The DPW directors from Novi and Walled were in attendance, and there are 4 members from Novi and 4 members from Walled Lake on the committee. They tried to come up with solutions for problems which the municipalities control, and set 3 goals to accomplish between now and the 6-month term which they could possibly be completed by. The committee decided that the number one priority was to control pollution. People around the lake, not even directly on the lake, have fertilizing systems that leach runoff into Walled Lake. Engines have problems, docks have problems, and water levels fluctuate because of all the growth in the lake. Removing weeds only provides more sunlight penetration in the lake to increase aquatic vegetation growth. Chemical control can be added to this, but causes different difficulties such as fish kills. The committee decided to go to several different community businesses such as Master Green and TruGreen and look for sponsorship for public education. The committee will issue a newsletter, hopefully using funds from these companies, and highlight different services provided by these companies and also local companies around Walled Lake to promote low-phosphorus weed control. The companies would hopefully offer a discount for quantity to offer lower rates than usual. The committee has a meeting set up for the third Thursday of the month and will continue this process. Their number one goal is weed control and pollution, and the second is public education.
2. CITY MANAGER – None
3. DEPARTMENTAL – One-day Special Sign Permits
Mayor Csordas said he had read the report about one-day special sign permits and found it interesting. The City allows for charitable events to have one-day signs. However, he noted that the one-day special sign permits for businesses could require a great deal of staff time for review and to regulate.
Mr. Helwig said administration had not prepared a presentation, as it felt that the report was background information for Council’s review, possibly for referral to the Ordinance Review Committee if there was a strong sense to do that. Administration was intrigued with the Northville sidewalk sign, which might have application at certain locations in Novi, certainly not across the board.
Mayor Csordas said that as far as he was concerned, City staff did not need to spend any time on the matter. He had read comments from Ms. Uglow where she was concerned even with the issue of sidewalk signs. He said he was no longer very interested in the matter anymore.
Member Nagy said she appreciated Ms. McBeth’s work in bringing other ordinances from other cities. She had thought that a matter came up the previous fall involving a one-day sign for the high school. She felt that the City should still have an ordinance for a one-day special sign, and suggested sending the matter to the Implementation Committee, letting them know that the Council was looking for a limited usage of the ordinance. The ordinance is necessary for charitable organizations and special events.
Mayor Csordas remarked that one-day special signs are allowed for charitable events like Toys for Tots.
Member Nagy commented that other cities allow such special signs, and perhaps Novi should too. It seems silly to her that the concern was about enforcement. She did feel that the one-day signs are a nuisance, and said the idea was workable. She felt that the Planning Commission’s Implementation Committee should look at the matter.
Member Gatt noted that he had spoken with Ms. Uglow about the signs, and said it would be a "nightmare" to enforce a one-day special sign ordinance for all of the businesses in the community. However, being out in the community, he knows that there is a desire from many of the businesses to have such a special allowance. He suggested that a committee be formed to study the matter, made up of businessmen in the City, and that they may look toward something that enforcement officers would not have to get involved with. For example, the signs could be allowed on only certain days. Whatever it is, the City could give a dispensation to businesses within a reasonable limitation set forth by Council where ordinance people would not have to enforce the sign ordinance for one day a month, as an example. This would be equitable to all, but would allow businesses to advertise in a way that they would like to and that would not burden the City’s enforcement officers at all.
Mayor Csordas asked Ms. Uglow to speak on the matter, as she deals with such enforcement issues on a daily basis.
Ms. Uglow commented that the ordinance would be a nightmare for the City to enforce. As she had told Mr. Pearson, she had been in touch with Ms. Champion from the Chamber of Commerce and would be meeting with their EDC committee. The City wants to be fair to its business neighborhoods, as well as its residential communities. There is a business owner in Pine Ridge at the northwest corner of Novi Road and Ten Mile who made suggestions for such an ordinance, and this information had been provided to Council. That owner is one of 16 businesses in Pine Ridge. In a worst-case scenario, there could be 16 signs in the one entrance to that mall. She would like a compromise and would like the input from the Chamber of Commerce to see where to go with the issue, taking into account the sidewalk recommendation. She said she is an advocate for avoiding clutter.
Mayor Csordas said it was very interesting that Ms. Uglow would sit down with the Chamber, as there are many views to every issues, and he was not certain that the business community understands the administrative burden that would be put upon the City from the ordinance. He felt that meeting with the Chamber was a great idea, as the City needs to hear their opinions.
Ms. Uglow noted that the Chamber of Commerce is very professional in working with the City. As far as the Implementation Committee and the Ordinance Review Committee, they had discussed the sign ordinance itself and changes to said enforcement problems. A few Council members have come to her regarding election signs. After September 11th, Council extended the flag ordinance, allowing businesses to extend the number of flags displayed. However, this was never brought back to the Council table. The committees have non-conforming, window signs, billboards, moving message signs, and other items to consider. She said that the City needs to look at the sign ordinance and get a handle on it, whether for one-day special events or something else, and with the direction of Council maybe look at the zoning change. This means that the Implementation Committee has to be involved.
Member Paul commented that she appreciated administration telling Council what it can and cannot do. Seeing that there are weaknesses in the sign ordinance, she felt that Council could have the Implementation Committee look at the matter. Barb McBeth always does a great job working with other ordinances, and noted that Ms. McBeth is the City’s liaison to the Implementation Committee. The City has a sign ordinance now, which is sometimes followed, sometimes not. As soon as ordinance enforcement officers leave on Friday, real estate signs go up on the intersections, and these do not comply with the ordinance. The police have to pull these signs. The City has serious difficulties with enforcing the sign ordinance, whether administratively with the neighborhood services department or with police officers, and this taxes its services. She said she was concerned with how unsightly the signs are. She would not like to have political signs in medians, rather just on private property. She said she would like to have the sign matter looked at by the Implementation Committee and all concerns addressed. She is not in favor of one-day special sign permits because if they go up, they will remain standing for a week or two weeks. The City does not have a large enough staff to work with to enforce those one-day signs.
Member Gatt said that business owners in the City, especially the one who wrote the letter to Council, just want fairness. They do not like the fact that when the ordinance people go home at night, spotlights suddenly appear and other violations take place. Business owners just want fairness, and they feel that a one-day sign is something that could be worked out. He said he would defer to the City’s experts, but said he hoped that the issue was studied and that input was taken from the business community.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the sign ordinance was being looked at right now by anybody.
Mr. Pearson noted that at the previous Ordinance Review Committee meeting there was discussion about the Town Center specific signage to try to address some of the continual variances that had come to that group. The idea with the Town Center signage that is being looked at and that Council will likely see in the next month was originally to allow individual businesses in that mall to be listed, but has naturally progressed into other good ideas about signage along the walkways and so forth. The other ordinances actually came from a Chamber volunteer, and he said that the Chamber might be a great place to begin discussions about the special event signage under limited circumstances, rather than work on something comprehensive that may result in nothing in a year and a half.
Mayor Csordas suggested that Council ask Ms. Uglow to meet with the Chamber of Commerce and then provide an executive summary of what transpired there, following which Council could discuss the matter further.
* Council consensus was to direct Ms. Uglow to meet with the Chamber of Commerce regarding the one-day special event signage under limited circumstances and to report back to Council on those proceedings.
4. ATTORNEY – None
Kathleen Mutch thanked the community for the attendance, appreciation and feedback on the Smithsonian exhibit that was located in the atrium of the Civic Center. Montcalm College near Ionia will be the next stop for the exhibit with a 6-week stay, then up to Lelenau, then up into the upper peninsula. Toward the end of the year the exhibit will again stay in the lower peninsula, but in Morencie, which is on the Ohio border south of Adrian. The events for the exhibit have been well attended. She encouraged residents to see the exhibit.
Wayne Hogan, 29273 Woodland Glen Drive, noted that he sits on the Oakland County Community and Home Improvement Council. At the last meeting in February, they realized some income from the City of Novi and parkland that was sold. He understood from his queries that the funds would be reprogrammed, but he asked that those funds go back into the park system, perhaps to replace parkland that was lost. Mr. Hogan said that people definitely want Council members to sit on comfortable and durable chairs, but said the $20,000 that was recently spent for those chairs was "quite expensive." There will be new signs for trails, including hiking signs, but there are parks that are still not accessible in Novi. He wanted to make sure that the international wheelchair symbol is placed on those signs, and said that this should be done before the signs are actually mounted.
CONSENT AGENDA (Approval/Removals)
Member Paul removed Item E, Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 668, for discussion
CM-04-03-088 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the consent agenda as amended.
Voice Vote on CM-04-03-088 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
CONSENT AGENDA: (Background information for Consent Agenda items is available for review at the City Clerk’s Office)
A. Approval to purchase fourteen (14) replacement Council Chamber chairs from Global Office Solutions, the low quotation, in the amount of $20,315.68.
B. Approval to purchase a replacement overhead garage door on the northwest corner of the maintenance garage at the DPW facility, to Overhead Doors West Commercial, Inc., the low bidder, in the amount of $3,460.
C. Approval to award bid for replacement doors, and frames at Lakeshore Park Camp Building to Doors of Pontiac, the low bidder, in the amount of $7,590.
D. Approval to purchase furniture and storage components for Civic Center office areas from SCP Enterprises, Inc., the low quotation, in the amount of $5,289.75.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part I
1. Consideration of the request of Robert J. Halso of Terra Libra, LLC, for a proposed Residential Unit Development (RUD) Plan. (The "Preserve") The subject property is located in Section 30, on the north side of Nine Mile Road and east of Napier Road. The developer is proposing a 70 unit single-family development on 111.28 acres.
Cliff Siebert of Siebert, Kiest & Associates said the development would feature a mix of ½ - acre and 1-acre lots. They attempted to make a transition between the smaller 90-foot lots down to the 1-acre lots in Park Place. He said that through the formulas in the ordinance, the development could provide for as many as 85 lots, but they are proposing a total of only 70 lots. This was done in order to provide for the smoother transition. The developer has tried to provide as much open space from Nine Mile Road as possible. The first lot, once the road system is entered off of Nine Mile Road, is not passed until one is about 450 feet into the project. Also, the two lots in the cul-de-sac are about 200 feet from Nine Mile Road. The result of this is that there will be quite a distance from Nine Mile Road to the first homes seen from that roadway.
Mr. Siebert said they are proposing quite a bit of open space, as there is a total of nearly 68 acres of park area, 27 acres of which is upland terrain. There is a good mix of upland land and wetlands, with about 40% of the site of the park area being upland area. The developer is also proposing the dedication of 45 acres of parkland to the City, which is contiguous to the City’s existing land to the east of this, and to the north of this land is the Quail Hollow proposed development. As a result of this 45 acres of dedicated parkland, there will be a total of 253 acres of City park, which includes that core reserve area. In addition to the proposed dedication of park area, there is a proposed pathway system. The pathway that was proposed through Quail Hollow was to traverse through the City property and terminate at the easterly property line of the Preserve. The Preserve is proposing to make a connection at that point and extend that pathway westerly and then southerly to Nine Mile Road. Now there will be a complete 1.5 mile system from Ten Mile Road at the fire station all the way down to Nine Mile Road. Eventually, that system will be extended westerly on Nine Mile Road to Napier, then southerly to the City’s park system. He noted that the developer is not requesting a rezoning for the development, and that the project is at half the density of the Quail Hollow project. On a per lot basis, the Preserve will provide 39% more pathway than Quail Hollow. In addition, the Preserve features 61% open space, as opposed to 42% open space for Quail Hollow. They have made a strong effort to make this development a more open, less dense kind of project.
Member Nagy said she had watched the Planning Commission meeting discussion about the Preserve, and said that this development was more in keeping with what her idea of what Quail Hollow would look like. She appreciated the extent gone through to make the development interesting, including the wildlife reserve and the trail system. She had some concerns after watching the Planning Commission deliberate on the development. She recalled that residents along Nine Mile had complained that the proposed path would run along the backs of their houses. She asked if the proposed trail path was the same as when proposed to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Siebert replied that this particular alignment was the same as proposed to the Planning Commission. They are very aware of the neighbors’ concerns. Dr. Tilton was re-examining the best alignment for the trail to minimize intrusions in the more sensitive wetlands areas. He said they anticipated the trail moving a little bit, as they certainly had the ability to move the trail off of the property line and had no problem doing so. However, they don’t want to redraw the trail until Dr. Tilton has provided his preferred configuration.
Member Nagy said she would very much like the trail to be moved off of the property line. She knows that the developer has been very cooperative on many of the issues brought up, and she would like to keep the trail away from the neighbors. There are pathways behind homes in Chase Farms, and the City receives a number of resident complaints regarding teenagers congregating in that area. She asked that if the developer was able to move the trail away from the property line of neighboring residents to also fill in the gap with evergreens to provide privacy from the trail.
Mr. Siebert replied that the trail area is particularly dense. If the trail was moved into the woods and wetlands, it should naturally provide a self-screen. He said he wants to preserve that area.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Siebert if the developer had spent any time meeting with residents with homes near the proposed development.
Mr. Siebert answered that they had met during the Planning Commission meeting, though they had not met since. He felt that the neighbors went away from that meeting with the same idea of working on the project.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Siebert, as a courtesy to the people currently living in that area, to include those residents in discussions with Dr. Tilton.
Mr. Siebert replied that they would do this.
Member Nagy said she was also concerned about lot numbers 16, 17, and 18. She asked if there was a way to make these lots less intrusive into the wetlands. Another built subdivision in Novi has a home that was built on filled-in wetland, and that resident has found a number of problems with drainage. She asked if the developer had the ability to make any adjustments regarding those lots 16 – 18.
Mr. Siebert noted that the referred-to lots touched the wetland buffer. Those lots are actually quite deep – one of them is 200 feet deep. He said that a preservation easement could actually be placed over that buffer area. The lots are very large, so there is plenty of buildable area without intruding on any buffer areas.
Member Nagy asked if the developer could place a preservation easement on the wetland buffer area.
Mr. Siebert indicated that this could be done.
Member Nagy referred to the design and construction standards, 11-1945, which mentions that whenever a subdivision is contiguous with the quarter-section line and a road does not exist along that line, a dedication of 43 feet will be required along the quarter-section line as a half-width right-of-way for a collective street. This proposed development abuts a half section line, which also constitutes a quarter-line; hence a 43-foot right-of-way must be dedicated along the north property line. She asked if the developer would be able to comply with the 43-feet half right-of-way dedicated along the north property line.
Mr. Siebert replied that they were really not able to comply with this. Actually, there are two quarter lines through this property. The most easterly property line is a quarter-line, and the property line between Quail Hollow and The Preserve is a quarter line. The entire stretch of the easterly quarter line is wetland, so there is not practical use in doing that. With Quail Hollow already being approved for their layout, they would be dedicating the other half of the line. Because of the layout of the wetlands and woodlands in that area, a quarter-line road for that particular section does not make a lot of sense. They had asked the Planning Commission for a waiver on that issue.
Member Nagy said that there are some lot lines that extend into the wetland buffers. She asked if the developer would be placing a preservation easement on all of those.
Mr. Siebert replied that he thought so.
Member Nagy asked if sewer and water would be extended to The Preserve, and if so, how this was anticipated to be installed. She knew that Quail Hollow was installed sewer and water.
Mr. Siebert replied that there is an existing sanitary sewer pump station for the Park Place development. This has capacity and was planned to include this development’s area. That will provide adequate sewage capacity for The Preserve. The water system is planned to connect to the Quail Hollow system. They are not sure what Quail Hollow’s phasing looks like. The developers are planning to construct probably a 12-inch water main through their main road system and connect to Nine Mile Road. If they commence construction prior to Quail Hollow finishing that phase, what they will probably do on an interim basis is place individual wells on a few of the lots until the water system is connected at Quail Hollow.
Member Nagy commented that she liked the proposed plans, and felt that the developer must have spent a great deal of time designing the proposal. The interesting part of the subdivision is that not all lots are the same lot size. She appreciated the work and effort put into the proposal.
Member Lorenzo asked if a conventional subdivision plan was prepared to compare the proposal to.
Mr. Siebert replied that a conventional plan was not prepared.
Member Lorenzo said that many of the items in the RUD ordinance talk about how this would compare to a conventional plan. This was one of the items that appeared to be missing from the proposal. There are a number of wetlands on the property, and it was hard to distinguish what would be buildable and what would not be buildable compared to a conventional plan. She felt that in this sense, the Council was at a loss to consider whether this plan would be better than a conventional plan from a preservation perspective.
Mr. Siebert noted that there is some upland area located within the wetland. In order to provide a looped roadway system, they continued the cul-de-sac southerly through that upland area, then connected at the right-of-way to Nine Mile Road in one layout.
Member Lorenzo said it would have been nice to have seen how this layout would have affected things. She asked if it was an RUD requirement to have a conventional plan to compare the RUD plan to.
Mr. Fisher replied that this is a requirement if Council determines that it needs one for purposes of meeting of the criteria. He did not see anything in the reports of planning staff or Mr. Arroyo that indicated that this was necessary.
Member Lorenzo said she actually had concerns about different lots than the previous speaker, Member Nagy. For instance, lots 14 and 15, which she understood the developer wished to seek variance from the ZBA for, will have driveways that will sit on wetland fill. A resident in Bradford of Novi with a filled-in lot now has all sorts of problems with water coming to the top of her lawn, with water that never evaporates from the grass. Similar concerns are found in Windermere Court in Bradford of Novi where something similar was done to what was being requested for The Preserve. Driveways are being broken up and roads are prematurely deteriorating because of all the water. She was concerned that lots 14 and 15 would be almost completely surrounded by water, and wondered if those were truly developable lots because of potential saturation of the ground. On one of the Bradford of Novi homes, the City spent several thousand dollars in trying to satisfy the homeowner in alleviating some of the problems, but some of the problems still have not been alleviated because of the high water table and wetlands situation. She asked what would be done to make lots 14 and 15 truly buildable regarding their lot, house, and driveway.
Bob Halso of Terra Libra, LLC, said he understood Member Lorenzo’s concern. He had done the geological testing on the sites. The wetland referred to on The Preserve is not a particularly wet wetland. The area behind lots 14 and 15 is actually mostly native grasses, and sits "high and dry". This is characterized as a wetland more by virtue of the materials above ground and the fact that there is water. As a developer, he would have the same concerns as Member Lorenzo about the geology of the site. The site has some wet areas principally on the east. The buildable areas are nice, thick clay that is perfect for a builder. The driveway that Member Lorenzo referred to is a very narrow strip that occasionally has water go through it, but does not represent in any way, shape or form a large contiguous wet area. The site is really upland area.
Member Lorenzo asked if the driveway area would need to be filled.
Mr. Halso replied that the driveway would be constructed and that the question was onto what. The driveway will be placed on top of good soil.
Member Lorenzo said she was equally concerned about the actual building footprint of a home, but was also concerned about the yard area, concerned that those areas would be soggy for much of the time. This is what the homeowner in Bradford of Novi has mentioned to the City. That homeowner lives next to a wetland, and part of her yard was formerly a wetland that was filled in to build her home. Member Lorenzo said that in her opinion, the City needs to address these issues prior to allowing homes to be built on such sites. Clay retains water and can lead to poor drainage. She asked if there was a high water table on the sites for lots 14 and 15.
Mr. Halso responded that there is not a high water table under those lots. He understood Member Lorenzo’s concern, which he felt was valid. The developer tried to anticipate this with the locations of building pads and driveways, which are in upland areas.
Member Lorenzo said that Mr. Siebert was referring to the building pad, but that she was referring to the lot itself.
Mr. Halso said that when the delineation of the wetlands was examined, a few of the yards touch the buffer but not the wetland. He felt that the developer had done a fair job of trying to alleviate the concern that Member Lorenzo had mentioned.
Member Lorenzo said she had a question as to how the lots would be represented to homeowners. If the RUD was approved that night and also at the Planning Commission for site plan review, she wanted it very well documented that such questions were asked about these lots. If a homeowner has a potential problem, with all due respect, she said she would send them to Mr. Halso.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Fisher for his opinion on the matter.
Mr. Fisher said the question was what kind of documentation was being referred to in this connection. If there is any other documentation, this should be governed by the actual facts that are in the ground. If there is a reasonable anticipation of a problem, then this is important to point out.
Member Lorenzo commented that this might need to be a condition of approval.
Mr. Fisher suggested perhaps an analysis.
Member Lorenzo replied that this was what she was looking for. She did not want to repeat the same judgments that were made in the past nor the problematic situations. Roads have been a big issue in Novi, such as maintenance, having roads turned over to the City, and premature deterioration. There are many road crossings over the wetlands proposed in the development. The City is seeing premature deterioration after only a few years with similar roads in other developments. Those homeowners then come to the City of Novi and ask the City to spend tax dollars repairing the roads. She asked what the developer would do differently in the construction of The Preserve’s roads so that the City would not see premature deterioration of the development’s roads.
Mr. Halso commented that there was a distinction to be made. The areas that will be built on are "high and dry." The crossings are miniscule, and the DNR has been very happy with the crossings which the developer has proposed. Dr. Tilton has also been very happy with these proposed crossings. They are minimizing any building on the wetlands, in some respects for the concerns that Member Lorenzo had addressed. He realized that the plans showed a lot of wetlands sitting next to the sites, but the selected areas will be built on for a reason, because they are essentially dry. Going through the normal process of permitting through City engineering for construction plans should address Member Lorenzo’s concerns.
Member Lorenzo said her concern was not so much the wetland fill. She understood that Mr. Halso needed these crossings to reach the higher points of land, which is very acceptable and reasonable. Her concern was what types of roads would be built in that area, and whether the City would see the same deterioration of those.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Fisher how, in the approval process, the City goes through the necessary evaluations and conclusions to avoid repeating the same problems faced with similar projects in Novi.
Mr. Fisher said that the best thing to do in this situation was to direct the City’s engineers to review the plans with extreme care in light of the regulations, which have now been modified since the other problem. The City should be on very high alert to avoid those problems.
Member Lorenzo asked if any motion made for the project should include this.
Mr. Fisher replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if the area where the trail system would be constructed was a wetland area.
Mr. Halso replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo asked if a boardwalk was planned for the trail in that area.
Mr. Halso said that boardwalk would only be used in areas that Dr. Tilton designates as needing boardwalk. A lot of the wetland area is dry.
Member Lorenzo asked if this wetland area would always be dry. She remarked that while a wetland might be dry for much of the year, it can become wet after significant rainfall. She did not want to see wetland fill in that area but rather a boardwalk across those wetlands, not only for aesthetic purposes but for wetland functionality as well. There is private property along Nine Mile Road, and she does not want to see those properties affected by the filling of any wetlands. She said her recommendation was to boardwalk the trail across the wetlands. She agreed with Member Nagy’s concerns about having a trail somewhere near the back of another person’s property. The homes on Nine Mile are existing homes with people who have lived there for more than a couple of years. She did not feel it would be fair to those people to suddenly place a trail immediately behind their homes. When she was a planning commissioner, they went through an extensive question as to whether the City would have trails. In the past year the City has seen many complaints about the trail mentioned by Member Nagy.
Member Lorenzo did not want to see The Preserve’s trail as close to the neighbors as with the Chase Farms’ trail. She did not understand why The Preserve trail could not be moved even 200 feet up below an island of woodlands on the map. Instead of bringing the trail down to Nine Mile, it could go out through Arboretum Park. People would go through Preserve Drive and then out to Nine Mile, as opposed to the trail going out to Nine Mile by people’s homes. Where the trail is supposed to come out, it abuts two existing residences. People who purchase homes in The Preserve will know about the trail system through their development, as opposed to the existing residences on Nine Mile. She said she was trying to be very sensitive to the existing residents there.
Member Lorenzo asked how long of a stretch the 8-foot-wide asphalt safety path and boardwalk along Nine Mile Road would be constructed for.
Mr. Halso replied that this path would be constructed for the frontage of The Preserve property.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Halso if he had considered extending the path further than this.
Mr. Halso replied that he had not.
Member Lorenzo said she was disappointed in the variations of lots. She would have preferred to see more lots in the R-1 and R-2 category as opposed to R-3. She felt that going from R-A to R-3 was a "quantum leap." In essence, the City was basically looking at a rezoning of this property without actually rezoning it. She understood that this was done in contemplation of the preservation of additional area, but she noted that there was not a conventional plan before Council to compare the proposed plan to. The plan has a lot of R-3 lots in an R-A zoned area. Many wetlands and woodlands are preserved, but on the other hand there was nothing to show that they would not be conserved in a conventional plan.
Mr. Halso said that the smallest frontage featured in the development would be 90 feet across the front, 15,000-square-foot minimum sites.
Member Lorenzo said Council was told that in terms of lot area and width, that there were 7 lots meeting the R-A lot width requirement, 28 lots meeting the R-1 requirement, 3 lots meeting R-2, and 32 lots meeting R-3. She would rather have seen the 3 lots meeting R-3, or at least more R-2 lots than R-3. She said she looked at the agreement essentially as a rezoning.
Mr. Halso said he did not look at the RUD as a rezoning. If he was before Council for a rezoning, he would ask for more lots in the development, and those would all be 90-foot lots.
Member Lorenzo commented that she did not know what to do about this proposal. She said she felt as if she was in a quandary because she did not have an alternative proposal to compare the RUD to.
Mr. Halso said the configuration of the boardwalk, which is the City’s goal but not necessarily his, is envisioned to be a cooperative effort between the City’s consultants and the Michigan DNR. What everyone envisions – Singh, the City, himself, Dr. Tilton, and the DNR – is finding an alignment with minimal disruption that works and has some boardwalk. However, it is unnecessary for the entire trail to be boardwalk. Neither Dr. Tilton nor the State wants to see the entire trail as boardwalk. He said they were envisioning a plan to be developed that runs from Nine Mile to Ten Mile that traverses the best possible locations for everyone’s interests.
Member Lorenzo asked if "best possible" referred to the wetlands or in terms of the existing residents.
Mr. Halso said the developer was certainly aware of the concerns of the residents and said they could address those. They understand those concerns and spoke with the residents at the Planning Commission meeting. Member Lorenzo’s argument was a point well made. Getting the trail away from the residents’ property lines was their concern, but he said the developer could address this.
Member Lorenzo said she understood Mr. Halso’s position, and said she was not necessarily opposed to trails. However, she wanted to look at them from a practical approach as opposed to a theoretical approach. In a theory sense it is very nice to have trails, but from a practical and realistic view, particularly when trails are in wooded areas and there are private homes, the City does not have the resources or personnel to police those trails. It will take people using those trails to self-police them. Teenagers sometimes congregate on the trails, and could perhaps vandalize private property. She felt that the City needs to be sensitive to property owners and make the trails as safe as possible for existing residents. Trails are nice to have, but they must be realistically considered. She said she could not support the trails in the configuration where they are currently located because they are too close to current residents.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry echoed the comments of the first speaker, and said he was impressed with the way the development was laid out. He was particularly impressed with the fact that the developer was not seeking the maximum density allowed. There are many developers that appear before the City and often seek increased density. Mr. Halso could build more units, but he won’t. The Mayor Pro Tem said he also liked the way the development mixes up the sizes of the lots and maintains the rural look of the area by setting the lots back off of Nine Mile Road. He noted that the Planning Commission recommended approval of the RUD.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said it was his understanding that Mr. Halso would pave Nine Mile Road for the entire width from Napier to The Preserve.
Mr. Halso replied that this was correct, to the entry of The Preserve.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said it was also his understanding that the developer had no problem working with Dr. Tilton to relocate the pathway.
Mr. Halso replied that this was absolutely correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if a berm would be place on the west side of Preserve Drive. The Planning Commission noted consideration of a berm along the west side of Preserve Drive as it abuts the residential property. The applicant would work with the landscape architect to create a buffer.
Mr. Halso said that sometimes a berm works, sometimes not as an acceptable screen. Rather than restricting this to say that a berm will be placed there, he said he would place an acceptable buffer or screen along the west side of Preserve Drive.
CM-04-03-089 Moved by Landry, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve The Preserve RUD, sp03-46, subject to the ZBA variance for lot widths on lots 14 and 15, granting the City Council waiver from design and construction standards for the lack of a 43-foot half right-of-way along the north property line. Also, to grant the City Council waiver from the subdivision ordinance requirement for lack of access stubs every 1300 feet. Nine Mile Road shall be paved for the entire length of Napier Road to Preserve Drive to public standards at a time determined by the City. The applicant shall work with consultants, particularly Dr. Tilton, to cooperatively design the trails behind Nine Mile Road, work with the civil engineer to minimize runoff, dedicate the said parkland, and create a buffer along the western side of Preserve Drive as it abuts the residential property. The applicant shall consult with the City’s construction engineer regarding the street layout and design. In addition, a preservation easement shall be placed on the wetland buffers.
Member Gatt said he thought that part of the motion should be to consult with the City’s construction engineer regarding the street layout and design.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry and Member Paul agreed to the friendly amendment.
Member Lorenzo asked for a friendly amendment to require the applicant to obtain the City’s engineering department approval for the driveways on lots 14 and 15, in order to avoid situations with prematurely deteriorating driveways because of fill.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he assumed that the city engineer would approve plan. If the city engineer approves the driveways, then they’re ok with him.
Member Gatt noted that a comment was made about the trails, and whether the City’s police department has the capacity to police that. The City has a bicycle patrol that would be perfect for that situation. If the trail becomes a problem for Novi, the City could commit resources to patrolling the trail area and resolve the matter before it gets out of hand. He was very impressed with the project and said it had his support.
Member Paul said that several studies were conducted by the Environmental Committee regarding this trail system. It was found that the trail systems increase safety, as people use them to see the wetlands and woodlands. Bicyclists and rollerbladers use the trails to travel and usually know the area well. The study found an increase in safety with usage of the trail. On that Environmental Committee, their main goal was to preserve this core reserve. This is the last core reserve area from here to Detroit, so this pocket is extremely important. The other areas are Twelve Mile and Lakeshore Park. She was thrilled that the developer considered the sensitivity of the area and preserved it. She was not opposed to some of the lots, as it was actually enjoyable to see alteration in the lot configuration. She requested that the developer stay out of the wetland buffer as much as possible, and asked if a concrete conduit could be placed under the driveways for lots 14 and 15 to allow water to pass under.
Mr. Halso replied that this was what he had envisioned.
Member Paul said she appreciated the developer putting the time forward to address the resident concerns that were first present. She also appreciated the effect of getting bicycle riders and rollerbladers off of the roadways. Many times people don’t realize how much trail systems are used until they are in place. There is a small stretch of trail needed to reach the state parks and Kensington. She appreciated the trail being constructed in a very sensitive area for everyone to enjoy. She thanked Mr. Halso for preserving one of the most sensitive areas in the City.
Member Nagy asked for a friendly amendment to the motion. She noted that the applicant had stated that he would grant a preservation easement for all of the wetland buffers.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry and Member Paul both agreed to the amendment.
Mr. Fisher noted that Mayor Pro Tem Landry had raised the point that the improvement of Nine Mile Road off of the site of this property is a voluntary effort and undertaking by the applicant. He advised that the motion should clarify that while the applicant will work cooperatively in the design of the trails, the applicant will also be constructing the trail.
Mr. Halso said he was happy to do this. The language of the agreement will read that he will be responsible for construction although the parties are envisioning a cooperative agreement with the City and DEQ.
Mr. Fisher said that one of the obligations needed in order to make this work and the RUD plan feasible is the grant of a variance by the ZBA for lots 14 and 15. He wanted to confirm that that variance proceeding would occur prior to the time that the RUD agreement comes back to Council for approval.
Mr. Halso agreed to this obligation.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Halso if this was his first project in Novi.
Mr. Halso replied that this was correct.
Mayor Csordas said that the City welcomes Mr. Halso’s company to Novi. He felt that the layout and design was very appropriate for the area, and the City appreciates the developer leaving a lot of open space on the site. That, in conjunction with the development going in just north of The Preserve, will be a "big plus" for the City. Mr. Halso’s working with Dr. Tilton and the City’s engineers was very much appreciated. He thanked Mr. Halso for the improvement on Nine Mile Road to his property, as the City appreciates this a great deal. He, too, likes the variety in the size of lots, and it was very easy to see where the premium lots would be.
Mr. Fisher clarified for the record that the 45 acres being dedicated would be counting toward the open space requirement and density for this project.
Member Paul asked if on the roadways where there are wetlands underneath the road, if the same concrete conduit would also pass through.
Mr. Halso replied that this was correct for those 4 areas.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-089 Yeas: Landry, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
2. Approval of the Resolution authorizing the reprogramming of Community Development Block Grant funds for the 2004 Program Year
CM-04-03-090 Moved by Landry, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve Resolution authorizing the reprogramming of Community Development Block Grant funds for the 2004 Program Year
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-090 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
3. Approval to award the Engineering Design, Construction Administration and Inspection Services contract for the Meadowbrook Lake and Village Oaks Lake Dredging Projects to Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick, in the amount of $115,540.
CM-04-03-091 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to award the Engineering Design, Construction Administration and Inspection Services contract for the Meadowbrook Lake and Village Oaks Lake Dredging Projects to Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick, in the amount of $115,540.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-091 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Gatt
4. Approval to award the Design Engineering, Administration and Inspection Services contract for the Meadowbrook Road Reconstruction Project from Grand River to 12 Mile Road to Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, in the amount of $123,660.
CM-04-03-092 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Landry; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to award the Design Engineering, Administration and Inspection Services contract for the Meadowbrook Road Reconstruction Project from Grand River to 12 Mile Road to Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, in the amount of $123,660. Item number 6 on page 2 of 5 shall be included in the not-to-exceed contract.
Member Paul asked if there would be a supervisor on site at all times for construction projects.
Ms. McClain replied that for this project there would be an inspection supervisor because of the scope of this project. For some of the smaller projects, there is not necessarily full-time inspection. With a road of this scope there will definitely need to be at least one inspector on site at all times.
Member Gatt said that Council Member Capello had called him earlier. On page 2 of 5, #6, in order to alleviate any problems such as those in the past, Member Capello wanted Mr. Fisher to ensure that #6 is included in the contract, and that the contract is a not-to-exceed contract.
Member Nagy and Mayor Pro Tem Landry agreed to the friendly amendment.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-092 Yeas: Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Gatt, Lorenzo
5. Approval to award the contract for the Storm Water Master Plan Update to Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, in the amount of $36,980.
CM-04-03-093 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to award the contract for the Storm Water Master Plan Update to Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, in the not-to-exceed amount of $36,980.
Member Lorenzo noted that this was a not-to-exceed contract.
Member Nagy agreed to this friendly amendment.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-093 Yeas: Paul, Csordas, Landry, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy
Ginger Barrons of Red Carpet Reliable Real Estate said she was at home, had just taken off her coat, and heard Council’s discussion about signs. Realtors are always concerned about sign issues with every city. One of the Council members addressed a concern that she has about real estate signs. Ms. Barrons said that the Western Wayne-Oakland Association of Realtors has worked cooperatively recently with many cities that are reviewing their sign ordinances, and has a committee to assist cities with that. Not only does the Association have a committee established, but once the sign ordinance is changed, it will be published by the Association to all 3,800 members; through that publication and the website, the notice will reach approximately 11,000 members of the realtor association surrounding the community. She feels that it is very important that while Council will include the Chamber of Commerce, that it also make a contact with the Western Wayne-Oakland Association of Realtors and make contact with the committee. When Council says "real estate signs" she knows that "realtors" are not meant to be implied, but realtors become very upset by this because professional realtors do abide by sign ordinances. It is generally people that are not members of the realtors’ association and/or builders or developers that are not realtors that put up these signs. The biggest violators are "for sale by owner" signs. Realtors’ signs are very precious to them and they do not like to replace them, so they pick them up after open houses and such. Realtors see a lot of directional signs in Novi, and these are not allowed. Those signs are not put up by realtors, which can be deduced by the quality of these signs and the fact that all realtor signs would have a company name, which is required by their licensing. She felt that including realtors in examining the sign ordinance would benefit the City. This would go into realtors’ guidebooks and would help to pass the information along. The benefit to the City of involving realtors and having the ordinance published after the decision is made would be great.
Mayor Csordas thanked Ms. Barrons and said that her points were well taken. He asked Ms. Barrons to provide the address of the realtor association to the City Clerk to pass along to Ms. Uglow.
*Council recessed at 9:32 p.m.
*Council reconvened at 9:45 p.m.
Mayor Csordas noted that the present Council had now been together for 90 days. He wished to let Council know how much he appreciated its character and professionalism. He said it is a true pleasure to work with all Council members, and wanted to thank them in public.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION – Part II
6. Approval to authorize staff to prepare and submit a grant application to the Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw (DALMAC) Fund and to appropriate $5,000 from the City General Fund as matching funds to the $5,000 grant request for a total project cost of $10,000.
CM-04-03-094 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to authorize staff to prepare and submit a grant application to the Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw (DALMAC) Fund and to appropriate $5,000 from the City General Fund as matching funds to the $5,000 grant request for a total project cost of $10,000.
Member Lorenzo said she appreciated the City staff and administration taking on the work for this grant and not spending much money on preparation. She hopes the City gets this grant.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-094 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul
7. Approval to authorize McKenna Associates to prepare and submit a grant application to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for a fee not to exceed $2,000 and to appropriate $40,000 from the City General Fund as matching funds to the $40,000 grant request for a total project cost of $80,000.
CM-04-03-095 Moved by Nagy, seconded by Landry; MOTION CARRIED: To approve to authorize McKenna Associates to prepare and submit a grant application to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for a fee not to exceed $2,000 and to appropriate $40,000 from the City General Fund as matching funds to the $40,000 grant request for a total project cost of $80,000.
Member Lorenzo said she could not support this item because Council and the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission have consistently identified other priorities. Council approved the Commission’s action plan on October 20, 2003, and this included ADA improvements; complete inventories of ash trees; enhance revenue opportunities; and implementing the capital improvements program. She was concerned that if $40,000 were spent on a trailhead, those additional funds may not exist in a couple of months to work on other priorities. The City does not know how much it will be able to spend towards park and recreation improvements this year. Her concern was that in spending funds toward the trailhead, the City may not be able to spend money on other identified improvements. On 11-19-03, Council received a memo from Randy Auler providing a Power Park softball complex needs assessment: replace infield surfacing on all four fields, cost $10,000; replace outfield turf and install irrigation system, cost $32,000. These improvements comprise $42,000 worth of needs. She asked Mr. Auler where the priority came from to apply for this grant for the trailhead.
Mr. Auler replied that in the community recreation plan, an action strategy was to enhance the pathway system. Given that the Singh trail will be constructed in the summer of 2005 and be completed by October of 2005, also provided with the approval for the extension of the Singh trail as part of the Preserve development, the thought process was to submit a grant application that would rate high enough to compete for the Land and Water Conservation Fund grants. The Fund looks at some priorities, including trail projects and trailhead projects, which generally rate high. Other priorities include ball field projects, which the City has identified as a need. The department had a conversation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to review the possibility of ball field projects and how those may rate, and the possibility of trailhead projects. It was fairly clear to the department that ball field projects would rate very low. Given this, in order to be competitive with the grant application and to leverage the dollars for a 50/50 match program, the trailhead project would be the best opportunity. This project would also improve accessibility for physically challenged individuals within the park, as it provides additional trail within the park, and paving within the park system where the parking areas are currently gravel.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Auler if this project would be the department’s number one priority if Council were to tell him that it would only allot $40,000 for parks, recreation and forestry projects.
Mr. Auler said that this opportunity to leverage the money for the Land and Water Conservation fund should not be passed. He would support this as a priority.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Auler if the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission feels that same way about this item being a priority.
Mr. Auler replied that there have been informal discussions, but not at a Commission meeting. The last Commission meeting occurred after the City hired McKenna Associates and after the grant proposals were constructed. The Commission has received copies of spreadsheets outlining all of the proposed grant programs and potential projects for those grant programs. He would certainly take this information back to the Commission at their meeting the following week.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Auler if he had a positive recommendation at this point from the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission to switch around some of their determined priorities.
Mr. Auler said the action strategies were not prioritized. These were 9 action strategies that the Commission identified as needing to be incorporated to accomplish the 5-year plan. Of those, two of the most important are the ADA improvements and hazardous tree replacement and removal.
Member Lorenzo said these items were included in the capital improvements part of the parks and recreation plan for 2004-2005.
Mr. Auler replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo repeated her question of if Mr. Auler were only given $40,000 for parks, recreation and forestry improvements, his priority would be the trailhead.
Mr. Auler answered that if this money was leveraged with a grant application, then his answer was yes.
Member Lorenzo said she appreciated Mr. Auler’s opinion, but because there was not a formal opinion from the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission, she would support their previous commitments to the plan. She felt that the ADA improvements and safety issues in Power Park were greater priorities than the trailhead, so she could not support the motion.
Member Paul asked where the improvements would be in the park itself for this grant application.
Mr. Auler replied that the trailhead improvement would be on the northern end of the park, at the gravel parking lot near ball field #8. The pathway system would be extended to improve accessibility and the parking area would be paved to improve access.
Member Paul said there is a 12-18 inch jump from the parking lot to the street, and there are many areas of broken pathways that make it difficult for people with special needs to get around the park. The actual playground in the front of the park has been addressed in regards to ADA requirements. She was thrilled that the parking lot would be paved. Often on Saturdays there is little or no parking available, which leads people to park along Napier Road. She asked Mr. Auler how many hours it took him to complete another recently-submitted grant.
Mr. Auler replied that this was a grant application that Council had recently approved, the Dow-Mack Fund Grant. This was a 2-page application, and staff time was approximately 8 to 9 hours. About 8 hours of this preparation in researching the types of grants funded and gathering other information required for submission, including putting together the mapping system, the budget analysis, the cost, the sign design, etcetera.
Member Paul asked if this was done by one of the employees on Mr. Auler’s staff.
Mr. Auler replied that this was correct.
Member Paul noted that most of the staff time was used for preparation for those two pages, so the time requirement could not be looked at in terms of pages per hour necessarily. Rather, the preparation for filling out those 2 pages must be examined. She said she wanted to be clear of how the hours and pages were referred to before, and the benefits that the City pays those individuals. She appreciated the department working on that grant, and said she would support this grant wholeheartedly, and hopes that the City will continue moving forward to improve its parks. One of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission’s main priorities is to improve Community Sports Park.
Mayor Csordas asked if the trail, when it ends at Ten Mile, ends at the Fire Department parking lot.
Mr. Auler replied that as part of the development agreement with the Singh Company, the company is building a trailhead on the northern end of the trail, and this will provide parking for 10 to 15 spaces.
Mayor Csordas asked if this trailhead would be located close to the Fire Department parking lot.
Mr. Helwig said the trailhead will be located on the western edge of the entry roadway to Fire Station #4, and is away from the parking area. The Fire Department felt that this was the proper location for the trailhead, as the station is not staffed beyond Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Ten Mile trailhead will be a similar trailhead to the one being suggested at the southern end of the trail at Sports Park, with parking and access into the woods there. The grant would also allow some tangential work mentioned by Member Paul, such as some paving, kiosks, orientation, and other things at the southern end.
Mayor Csordas noted that the grant work would not occur at the southern end of the Singh trail.
Mr. Helwig replied that this was correct. Once the trail is connected all the way down, it will run to the Community Sports Park.
Mayor Csordas said he understood the leveraging of funds and would support the motion.
Member Paul asked how many times in an active sports season, such as soccer in the spring, the parks, recreation and forestry department has to remediate anything with a gravel parking lot in Community Sports Park.
Mr. Auler replied that this work is done frequently. The department tries to provide additional gravel two times per year, and works with the DPW who helps to grade those lots out.
Member Paul asked how many times the DPW has to come out in the summer to bring the gravel or soil up to the roadway.
Mr. Auler replied that this has to be done approximately two times in a year for this as well.
Member Paul noted that work has to be done on the gravel lots four times total in a year.
Mr. Auler replied that this was correct.
Member Paul asked approximately how much it costs to do this extra work.
Mr. Auler said he did not have an accurate estimate of this cost, but said he would be happy to provide such an estimate in a Council packet.
Member Paul said she was trying to bring to light that there are finances to address the basic gravel needs of that parking lot. Chip and seal eventually pays for itself by eliminating some maintenance on gravel roads, and she felt that it may need to be applied to these parking lots in the future.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-095 Yeas: Landry, Gatt, Nagy, Paul, Csordas
8. Approval to schedule a public hearing on March 15, 2004 for the purpose of receiving public comment regarding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant application.
CM-04-03-096 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to schedule a public hearing on March 15, 2004 for the purpose of receiving public comment regarding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant application.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-096 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry
9. Approval to purchase mosquito control products from Clarke Mosquito Control, in the amount of $19,942.02 through a joint bid extension with the City of Farmington Hills.
CM-04-03-097 Moved by Lorenzo, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve to purchase mosquito control products from Clarke Mosquito Control, in the amount of $19,942.02 through a joint bid extension with the City of Farmington Hills.
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-097 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Gatt
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COUNCIL ACTION: (Consent Agenda items, which have been removed for discussion and/or action)
E. Approval of Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 668 – Member Paul
Member Paul said she pulled this item to discuss check #34646, legal services for Sandstone in the amount of $5,722.90. Approximately 2 or 3 months ago, she had asked Mr. Helwig how much more money the City would be spending on Sandstone, and she was told "no more."
Mr. Helwig apologized if he had said there would be no more money spent on Sandstone affairs. There still is a conveyance of the Block Grant land and the 5.1 acres to Sandstone that Mr. Fisher is working on legal documentation for. There still are some support services needed, though no more policy issues must come before Council. This bill was for an item completed several months earlier. The City also has a pending case filed under the Freedom of Information Act by owners of property on Dixon Road. Some of the time on these bills is attributable to that case as well.
Member Paul asked if the MDEQ was involved with the Sandstone proceedings at this point.
Mr. Helwig replied that the City was supposed to receive a letter that Friday from the MDEQ, which was needed in order for Mr. Fisher to convey the property showing that the remediation was done properly. Administration has every reason to expect that the letter will show this.
Member Paul asked what months this check applies to, as she wanted to know how far back the work went and how many more bills would be coming.
Mr. Helwig replied that the bill was for December and January.
Member Paul asked if this was approximately how much Council should expect as a monthly bill for Sandstone items.
Mr. Fisher replied that monthly costs have been averaging approximately $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
Member Paul asked how many more months of costs should be expected for Sandstone issues.
Mr. Fisher said he had also used this billing, because it is the Sandstone property, to allocate his time for the arrangement with the new purchaser that will be brought before Council in the near future, Liberty Park. He did not imagine that if that purchase arrangement is resolved that the billings would be any more than sporadic after that.
Member Paul asked for an estimated number of months to continue expecting bills related to Sandstone.
Mr. Fisher replied that he was not clear on this answer, as he did not know how long the proceedings would take. Assuming that the current arrangement moves forward, this is one large segment of the property; there will be another segment of the property, and it is unknown as to when that will come forward.
CM-04-03-098 Moved by Paul, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve consent agenda item E, Claims and Accounts – Warrant No. 668
Roll Call Vote on CM-04-03-098 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas, Landry, Gatt
Mr. Fisher noted that the Sandstone arrangement also contemplated development of property at Thirteen Mile and Novi Road. This is something that is currently not on anybody’s "radar screen," but will become apparent at some point in the future as well.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL ISSUES
1. Communication Gap in the Plan Approval Process – Member Lorenzo
Member Lorenzo said she brought the issue forward in the spirit of identifying issues in order to avoid them in the future. The issue really pertains to the Wilshire Abbey approvals that came to Council on November 10th. Apparently, City engineers had sent a letter to one of Mr. Fisher’s associates in late October. Unfortunately, this letter nor its contents ever made its way to the City Council, either from the engineers, administration, or from legal counsel. This was a serious concern, as had Council been able to address the issue that evening, it would have been much "cleaner" for all sides. In the future it is imperative that any staff communication that goes to the legal counsel should also be copied to City Council so that it has the information. Additionally, if anyone has the information in question, Mr. Fisher’s associate had told her that she discussed the matter with Mr. Fisher, yet no one brought the issue to the Council table for discussion. In the future, she asked that everyone be cognizant of the importance of bringing information to Council. On November 10th, the approval was approved without any discussion whatsoever. Two weeks later, the matter became "a mess" that could have been avoided.
Mr. Fisher said that essentially what had happened, the letter of October 28th went to Ms. Kudla. While there was an indication that something needed to be done, this had to do with pursuit of the dedication of the Cheltenham roads. He had not received a work authorization to pursue the matter until a later Council meeting, he believed on December 16th. Ms. Kudla did not prematurely act without receiving that authorization, nor did she know that Council was meeting on Wilshire on November 10th, so it was not brought to his attention. He had no background on Wilshire for that meeting, so the issue sailed over his head as well.
Member Lorenzo commented that it was not only Mr. Fisher’s office that had problems with the information dispersal. Members of administration and staff also had the information, and nobody brought it to Council’s attention. She felt that staff needed to be more vigilant in determining how important information is to convey to Council.
Member Lorenzo said the letter from engineering had also brought to light another potential issue, which was the continuity in plan approvals. In other words, the engineer only recently had become aware of the situation by reading Council minutes. It is imperative that when the planning department and everyone involved bring back plans that they look back to the minutes of the meeting to see what the actual motion to approve was, and to make sure that all of the conditions have been met. This is imperative for continuity in approvals. When Wilshire Abbey came back to the City Council, the Planning Commission had recommended that the emergency access for Wilshire Abbey be permanent. That evening, she had made or seconded the motion when it came back to Council, and she had said "including all the conditions of the Planning Commission." This meant that the emergency access should be permanent, and shows that it is essential to review the minutes to ensure that specific conditions of approval are understood.
2. Toll Brothers – Member Nagy
Member Nagy commented that she was on the Planning Commission when Mr. Sullivan came before it and discussed the left-hand turn lane on Wixom Road and installing the sidewalk. Because the Commission gave him the left-hand turn lane, he had agreed to the sidewalk installation. Unfortunately, when the maker of the motion said "all conditions", that condition was not included. She had reviewed her notes and said that Mr. Sullivan had verbally agreed to the sidewalk, but this was not in the Planning Commission minutes for some reason. She would like to see Toll Brothers, in the spirit of cooperation, still put that sidewalk in.
Member Nagy noted that Council members had received a letter from residents in a Toll Brothers development. She wanted those residents in that area, who she has tremendous empathy for, to be notified by the City that there is unfortunately nothing that Council can do about the promises made to residents about premium lots. Council will be unable to act on their behalf because it is not in the City’s jurisdiction.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that while the City may not be able to formally take action against a developer that makes such representations, the City Council can certainly take the matter into consideration when a developer comes to change a PUD or an RUD. He said he would certainly inquire into that area if and when the subject comes back before Council.
Member Nagy said she felt the same way as the Mayor Pro Tem.
3. Legal Fee Development – Member Paul
Member Paul said that at the last Council meeting there were some questions about legal fees. She would like to have the ordinance in hand and perhaps the minutes of the meeting where the matter was discussed so that she could understand the process discussed by Mr. Pearson at a prior meeting. She was not sure when the matter came about, perhaps June of the previous summer, but she remembered Mr. Pearson speaking on the issue of legal fees being reported to the developers. How much was discussed by him or by Mr. Fisher she was not sure, but she remembered Mr. Pearson speaking on the subject. She would like to have an understanding of that ordinance, a copy of the ordinance, and the minutes so that she could understand what is happening. She would also like a written idea of what is happening now in the planning department so that Council knows everything is happening in accordance with the ordinance.
Mr. Fisher noted that there was a resolution that established fixed fees for most of the items, and this would be good for Council to have as well. He also wrote a memorandum about January 19th that talks about the process utilized now for dealing with the process.
Member Paul said her concern was that she had called the planning department, where someone told her that they received Mr. Fisher’s office’s bill, but that this was one month prior to it coming to Council’s warrants. This was a concern because it was from July through the past month, and she did not feel that it was fair for the City to have three or four months’ worth of bills on a bill for a one-month period. She was hoping that she could understand the current process. She remarked that she had no problem paying Mr. Fisher for his services, and said she pulled the warrant at the previous week’s meeting not to question his services, but to question what is happening with Sandstone.
Mayor Csordas said it was important to understand that the City used to pay 100% of those fees, but with the new process that cost was passed on to the developer. He felt that the process was definitely going in the right direction.
Oakland County Commissioner Hugh Crawford invited the Mayor, City Council, any appropriate staff, and any citizens interested in the City’s water rates to attend a meeting of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners on March 25, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. at the Commissioner’s Auditorium in Pontiac. The guest at that meeting will be Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his Deputy of Water. Anyone is welcome to attend that meeting. Mayor Kilpatrick will be there to speak on the issue, though Commissioner Crawford had no idea what he would say. Mayor Kilpatrick will give an address and will field some question. Commissioner Crawford said it would be appropriate for some representatives from the City of Novi and residents to be there. He also noted that Novi’s Fire Chief, Art Lenaghan, sits on a State committee that helps allocate emergency management funds from the federal government. He is probably the only representative from this area, aside from Chief Dwyer in Farmington Hills that was just appointed for law enforcement. The committee helps to allocate millions of dollars of funds at the state and local levels.
Member Gatt asked if the "rumor" that Commissioner Crawford’s wife Kathy, a City employee, was retiring soon.
Commissioner Crawford replied that the "rumor" was, indeed, true. Friday, March 19th will be her last day of twenty-some years with the City. That evening, there will be a get-together at Central Park Estates on Beck Road between Grand River and Eleven Mile, starting at approximately 5:00 p.m. and lasting until about 9:00 p.m. The get-together is not an invitation-only event, so please show up.
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 10:47 p.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: March 15, 2004