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MONDAY, JULY 26 2004 AT 7:00 PM

Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


ROLL CALL Mayor Csordas, Mayor ProTem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy and Paul – absent/excused




To interview candidates for appointment to the Zoning Board of Appeals.


Scott Jeffe

Scott Jeffe said he first moved to Michigan in 1996, moved back to California, but he and his wife decided that they wanted to raise their children and moved back here in 2000. Currently he works for a logistics company, and is director of operations, in charge of everything in North America, recently just giving up Mexico. One reason that he wants to run for the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is that he wants to set an example for his children, and he wants to give something back to the community – his time. He has two children in school, one in Novi High School and one in Novi Middle School. His wife, Miemee, works for the Novi School District.

Member Gatt thanked Mr. Jeffe for coming out to interview. He said there is nothing that a citizen can do that gives greater homage and the highest honor to the City than to volunteer one’s service. He asked Mr. Jeffe what the biggest problem facing the ZBA is today, and what he would do to fix that problem.

Mr. Jeffe replied that one of the biggest problems in his short term in the City is the rapid growth in the City. He would like to bring some out-of-the-box thinking, and perhaps some potential solutions, to some of the issues at hand.

Member Capello noted that Mr. Jeffe had listed three potential positions on his application. Council had just filled the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission position a few meetings earlier, so that would not be up again for a while. He asked Ms. Cornelius if there are positions open on the Construction Board of Appeals.

Ms. Cornelius replied that her understanding is that there will be one open shortly, as one member of that board is moving.

Member Capello asked what "shortly" implied.

Ms. Cornelius said she would have to check and see when the position would take effect. The City has not received anything in writing, but she had received something verbally from the Building Department, saying that one of the members of the Construction Board of Appeals would be moving out of the City.

Member Capello asked Mr. Jeffe if, because there were a number of applicants for only one open ZBA position, he would be interested in serving on the Construction Board of Appeals.

Mr. Jeffe replied that he would "absolutely" be interested, as this was why he had listed more than one board on his application.

Member Capello asked Mr. Jeffe to check with the City Clerk, Ms. Cornelius, in a few weeks and see that his name is placed in front of Council for consideration again.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry thanked Mr. Jeffe for stepping forward. He wished to echo the comments of Member Gatt, that a person does service to the City and all of its residents by serving and giving up their time. He asked Mr. Jeffe what he sees as the role of the ZBA.

Mr. Jeffe replied that he was not very clear on what the role of the ZBA is, but believes the role is to make decisions that would benefit the City on zoning issues.

Member Lorenzo said that the ZBA is a very important board, and is in fact basically a judicial board in the City of Novi, in some respects probably having more authority than Council does. She asked Mr. Jeffe if he has ever watched or attended a ZBA meeting.

Mr. Jeffe replied that he had not. He has spent most of his time, until recently, traveling quite a bit with his work. Unfortunately he has not been able to become as involved as he would have liked. Now that he has the free time, he would like to make himself available to the City.

Member Lorenzo said she appreciated Mr. Jeffe coming forward to interview, but said she was not sure that he would be the best fit for the ZBA at this time. She suggested that if Mr. Jeffe was interested in this particular board, that he attend meetings, become more familiar with the ordinances and particularly what the role of the ZBA is, so that he might become better prepared to serve on that board. She said that Council would certainly be willing to entertain Mr. Jeffe for the other boards and commissions that he had listed on the application. She encouraged Mr. Jeffe to learn more about those boards and commissions before coming forward.

Member Nagy thanked Mr. Jeffe for coming out that evening, as she appreciates anyone who comes forward to volunteer that is a resident, as the service always involves a lot of work. She asked Mr. Jeffe for a description of what he does for a living.

Mr. Jeffe replied that he works for a company called Insite Network Logistics, which is responsible for one of the Big Three’s finished vehicle logistics, in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. His job, as director, is to be responsible for reducing, cost savings, planning, communications between customers and suppliers, and he is responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of inventory. He has direct reports located throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico that report to him, and then he reports directly to the customer, Daimler Chrysler.

Member Nagy commented that Mr. Jeffe certainly has a job that requires a great deal of responsibility. She appreciated Mr. Jeffe coming out to interview. She noted that she did not have Mr. Jeffe’s application in front of her, and asked if there were other positions that he might be interested in other than the ZBA.

Mr. Jeffe replied that he had listed three choices down on the application, but said he would be open to serving wherever his background and skills would be best suited.

Mayor Csordas said the question that he is always interested in is what the applicant feels the role of the board is. Mr. Jeffe’s resume is sterling. He said it would be very appreciated if Mr. Jeffe retained an interest in the City if he was not chosen for the ZBA.

David Ruyle

David Ruyle noted that he is almost a 25-year resident of the City of Novi, approximately 20 years of which has been spent volunteering in different aspects of the City.

Mayor Csordas commented that everyone on Council was very familiar with Mr. Ruyle’s sterling history.

Member Capello asked Mr. Ruyle how his health was.

Mr. Ruyle replied that he still has a few health problems, but these would not interfere with anything for the ZBA. He had a major test scheduled for the next day, a bone marrow test. Doctors will be testing for a parasite or something else, as they do not really know what has been causing his problems. He commented that 21 days in the hospital was not fun.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry remarked that the ZBA is probably the only volunteer committee in the City that Mr. Ruyle has not served on. Council is very familiar with Mr. Ruyle, and he knew that Mr. Ruyle knew what the ZBA is all about. The City appreciates Mr. Ruyle’s time.

Mr. Ruyle noted that he had completed the citizen planner’s course at Michigan State University, and had received a certificate for that study. Not only was that training for planning, but it also related to the ZBA. He has gone through at least nine hours of legal training with the City attorneys. He feels that the time the City has spent on him does not need to be spent again.

Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Ruyle if he has watched ZBA meetings.

Mr. Ruyle replied that he has.

Member Lorenzo commented that there have been some things back and forth between the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, and as a Planning Commissioner, Mr. Ruyle had become aware of those situations.

Mr. Ruyle replied that this was correct.

Member Nagy noted that she had the pleasure of serving with Mr. Ruyle on the Planning Commission, and said she was glad to hear that he was out of the hospital and getting slowly better. She appreciated all of the service that Mr. Ruyle has given to the City in the number of years that he has been here.

Member Gatt said he has known Mr. Ruyle for a long time. Mr. Ruyle was probably the only person in Council Chambers who knew Member Gatt when he had hair. He knows Mr. Ruyle as an all-giving person who loves the City very much, and said he supports Mr. Ruyle’s endeavor one hundred percent.

Mayor Csordas commented that Mr. Ruyle is eminently qualified for any board or commission that he applies for, which Council knows. He said that Council wished Mr. Ruyle the best on his test the following day, and he was confident that Mr. Ruyle would be just fine.

Justin Fischer

Justin Fischer said that in an effort to keep his interview brief, he would only introduce some "new stuff" that has occurred in his life since his previous interview. He is still a student at Michigan State University, majoring in finance in the Business College, and expects to graduate in 2005. His professional experience includes having worked for the Leer Corporation, a tier one supplier for the automotive industry. That company has asked him to return this summer, except in a different department. He now works with program management type activities. He also took the spring semester off and went to Washington D.C. for an internship, where he interned in Congressman Mike Rogers’ office. While he was driving out to Washington D.C. on a cold January day, he found out that he was appointed to the ZBA alternate position. Unfortunately, he was unable to make it to that meeting, as it was scheduled for that evening and he was already on I-80 in Ohio. Since then, he has made it back, even from Washington D.C., and voted in three of the six meetings, for lack of members. He believes that he provides a fresh face, yet he melds well with the chemistry that is currently on the board.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that Council had heard that he drove back from Washington D.C. on several occasions for the ZBA, which is very impressive for an alternate in that position. He recalled that Council Member Lorenzo had likened the ZBA to a quasi-judicial body; he said this was absolutely correct. The ZBA, in many respects, has more power than the City Council. He asked Mr. Fischer what he thinks is the most important role of a ZBA member.

Mr. Fischer commented that Member Lorenzo and Mayor Pro Tem Landry were very correct. When he came back for the first meeting, Don Saven, the City’s Building Official, almost scared him in saying that "the next stop after you guys (the ZBA) is Circuit Court." This is not something for which a member cannot do their homework and make decisions with. The role of any ZBA member is to do their homework, including looking at ordinances. Even as alternate, he went out and observed sites so that he could see how they affected other people in the area, as well as the applicant. During the presentation, a ZBA member must respect both the applicant and the other members, as they may bring up other points that had not been thought of. Those are the most important roles as a ZBA member.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted that Mr. Don Saven has given everyone on Council advice at one time or another, and said he is always correct in that advice.

Member Lorenzo said she has heard a great deal about Mr. Fischer, though she did not get the opportunity to meet with him when he applied for the ZBA some months ago. She said she had been on the interviewer’s side of the Council table some years ago when she was less experienced, and applauded Mr. Fischer for his commitment and dedication to come back for all the ZBA meetings from Washington, D.C. She asked Mr. Fischer to describe how he goes about the process of deliberating whether or not the applicant meets the definition of "hardship."

Mr. Fischer replied that this was a very difficult question to answer on two fronts, because there are hardships and there are practical difficulties in front of the ZBA, and these can be totally different scenarios. At the last ZBA meeting, for example, there was a situation where a person wanted to put an accessory building in their front yard, came to the ZBA, and this was more of a want than a need. This was the best way that he could distinguish the difference. When someone just wants something, it is not a hardship; if a resident cannot function or implement something that they desire on their property, then that becomes a hardship.

Member Lorenzo asked if this is the case if something is self-imposed.

Mr. Fischer replied that this is something determined by a situation. More often than not, he is willing to look at that point and see how it affects the other neighbors. If there is not a problem with any other neighbors, such as intrusion on other property, then this is considered. Something else that the ZBA considers is the health, safety, and welfare of all of the residents of Novi. If a request does not intrude on any of those requirements, then a variance for a self-imposed hardship is something that he feels he can grant.

Member Nagy asked Mr. Fischer if he would be returning to his internship that fall.

Mr. Fischer replied that he would not return to that position. The internship was a one-semester internship for the spring, and was part of his program at Michigan State. He will be back at East Lansing.

Member Nagy commented that one of the things she finds interesting on the ZBA is the north end of town, which is not a platted subdivision. She asked if there has been one particular case that Mr. Fischer has found to be the most difficult in terms of coming to a decision regarding hardship.

Mr. Fischer said he feels that all cases are very important. A lot on East Lake Drive would tend to be the most difficult for him. All around that area, there is an aggregate 25-foot side yard setback, and those are 30-foot lots. He asked how the City could expect someone to live in a 5-foot-wide house. That is a very interesting part of town, but said he could not think of one particular case that was specifically difficult. All cases have been something that the ZBA has contemplated and deliberated a great deal about.

Member Nagy asked Mr. Fischer if he attended the training session that was put forth by the law firm.

Mr. Fischer replied that this session occurred before he was appointed. However, he has received the packet and has looked over the information.

Member Gatt said he is very familiar with Mr. Fischer’s work, the Zoning Board of Appeals work, and feels that Mr. Fischer is doing a fantastic job. He commented that there will probably come a day in the not-too-distant future when Mr. Fischer is sitting on Council.

Member Capello said his questions had been answered. His real concern had been the most difficult decision that Mr. Fischer has had to make, and how he distinguished between needs and requirements.

Mayor Csordas said that the Chair of the ZBA highly recommends Mr. Fischer for the appointment. He said he places a great deal of value on the Chair’s opinion. He is familiar that Mr. Fischer has lived up to his commitment to attend ZBA meetings, at great hardship.



Mayor Csordas adjourned the Special Meeting of Council at 7:23 p.m.


____________________________ ___________________________

Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk



Transcribed by Steve King


Date approved: August 9th, 2004