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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello,
Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul Member Lorenzo arrived at 7:06 p.m.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-05-06-209 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED
UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as presented.
Motion passed by voice vote
Andrew Mutch, 24740 Taft Road, supported the efforts by Novi residents to protect and preserve the green space on Meadowbrook Road and supported the application for the grant to fund the purchase of this property. Four important issues he felt Council should address are: 1) There is a need to protect and preserve open space on the east side of the City. He displayed a map of areas showing developed properties and those properties to be developed and explained there are only two pieces of property that havenít been developed since 1993. 2) Appraisers Ė Based on the language of the grant and the DNR staff, there is no requirement to do an appraisal before the grant is submitted. He believed an appraisal should be done and he has contacted three State certified appraisers, and they all indicated that they could be completed within 30 to 35 days for $2,600 to $3,600 per appraisal. He had copies available and would submit them to administration. The total appraisal cost would be between $6,000 and $7,000 even if both appraisals were done first, but only one needs to be completed before the grant is submitted. 3) Environmental assessment Ė This is a very basic survey and is not required for a grant submittal. 4) Cost Ė The total cost to the City would be around $10,000 for a potential million dollar grant. He hoped the City wouldnít turn its back on taxpayers who have lived in Novi and paid taxes for 30-40 years for a cost of $10,000.
Eric Shea 40906 Village Wood Road, moved to Novi two months ago and was drawn to this location because of the scenic location. Before purchasing his home he and his fianceí contacted the City find out whether the property would be developed and were all but promised that it would not be due to its status as a protected woodland and wetland area. They were shocked when notified about the Planning Commission meetings to discuss the development of this land just days after moving into the house. Mr. Roskelly can develop his property, but he couldnít imagine why he would want to purchase land that was designated a protected wetland/woodland area 15 years ago. Mr. Shea asked Council to pursue the grant as it is the only remaining green space in the area. He asked that Novi be maintained as a true model community that cares about its residents.
Jennifer Huggins, 23131 Heatherbrae Way, presented more petitions to protect the property and asked the City to purchase the property through the grant. The petition read: "We are in favor of the Novi City Council taking action to protect this property for the enjoyment of all Novi residents. We propose that the City acquire the property from the current owner, in a combination of purchase and donation, and to apply for funds to acquire the property from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund." People come from all over to enjoy the lake and many couldnít attend the meeting tonight. The opinion of many people in Novi, is that they donít wish to enlarge the subdivision and asked that the park area stay in its present condition. She displayed photos of everyone visiting the park, fishing and walking their dogs.
Robert Trickey, 23033 Heatherbrae Way, is in favor of applying for the grant. He said no one from the Planning Commission has been to this area and asked that someone from the City visit the area to see the value of it.
Susan Dusenberry, 40520 Guilford, stated she moved to Novi eight 8 years ago from the rural areas of Pennsylvania and New York because they were looking for some green areas. It is one of the few places she has found that is near a lake that is accessible and she hoped Council would consider keeping it green.
Christopher and Andrew Shuffett, 40583 Village Wood, said this area is important to their community because of the wildlife. There are foxes, bats and coyotes in the area, and he would hate for his children and people to not be able to appreciate and experience this wildlife. He felt that the value the tax dollars would bring cannot outweigh the value of the park. He felt the grant money should be used to obtain the land because it benefits the entire community. Andrew Shuffett said people shouldnít build houses because a car could back out of the driveway and hit someone on their way to a pool.
Paula Grisell Goldstein, 41050 North McMahon, said that undeveloped land is a blessing that they have become accustomed to. She said their used to be cattails along Meadowbrook and now there is a subdivision and during the last couple of years we have lost a lot of undeveloped land. This remaining piece of land would be a blessing to the community and Council has the power to give it to the residents and asked that Council consider it and act accordingly.
Virginia Blaut 23048 Heatherbrae Way, agreed with previous residents and said she moved to Novi because she used to live in a City where there was no wildlife. It was like moving to a paradise with the deer, fox and heron. It is so beautiful, peaceful and it is wonderful to have green space. The park is precious and used to walk dogs, let the kids play, and people can escape the stress of the day and look at something beautiful. She asked Council to preserve this tiny spot in this huge City for the people and their quality of life.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said residents are referring to this as a park and asked Mr. Helwig if this was a park. Mr. Helwig said presently it is private land and not designated as such.
John Keller, 231261 W. LeBost, a 30 year resident, urged the City to apply for the grant and pursue it vigorously. He said water table is down right now. He said he watched his neighborís house shift and be destroyed because the water table was upset when they put in his sewer line when they tried to repair his line from a job that wasnít done correctly. A part of his house shifted because they dewatered the area. It took two years to get the house back in shape. He said we have to be very careful about what is done with this system because it affects everyone around us. His grandsons love the area because they can see the deer. The trees donít grow straight up and their roots arenít firmly embedded because the soil conditions are not sound, and he thought it should not be disturbed. He thought the grant should be pursued, the property purchased and then leave it alone.
Karen Morgan, 41246 Village Lake, said she strongly supported the request to save the land and would like the City to secure and maintain this area for the wildlife and the wetland area. As other areas are being developed more and more animals are coming to this property and we regularly see deer now that we had not seen before very often.
Chuck Tindall, 2453 Shawood, said he belonged to a citizens group called Parks, which was formed to protect parkland in this City. He said concerning that property in the north end of the City, he wanted to know why, since we lost 75 acres and this is only 15 and he felt it was owed to the citizens. He felt that the citizens would be written off for being emotional and didnít think it was emotional. We are talking dollar value for possible tax revenue and felt the property was worth far more left undeveloped. He said regarding the cost problems of this he saw a previous City Council spend $10,000 on a feasibility study for a golf course nobody wanted. He said this is a floodplain thatís why nothing is built there. Open space is at a premium in this City and we need to keep our premiums high, our quality of life high and our property values high.
Ken Morgan, 41256 Village Lake, said this is the largest subdivision in Novi and is densely populated. He noted the Ford Wixom plant will probably close and there are 328 Novi residents who work there and may leave Novi because they will be reassigned. He couldnít see building more houses in this area when Michigan is number 1 in the nation for foreclosures, mainly due to up north property. He proposed to save this small piece of land.
Julie Hicks, 23228 Gilbar, said she has grew up in Novi and watched a lot of building over the past 34 years. She asked that the park be kept as the City has destroyed so much in Novi. Meadowbrook Road, Chase Farms and behind her subdivision used to all be woods, as was Nine Mile towards the railroad tracks. This was all woods, fields, apple orchards and dirt roads. Now the City wants to take this little section and destroy it. She felt the City had enough homes and more businesses then they knew what to do with, and what Council wanted to do was wrong. She asked that the property be left alone so that there will be some wildlife left. The lake is being dredged and she was concerned that it would create another flood land. She asked that it not be destroyed anymore.
Jacqueline Pringle, 23285 W. Lebost, said this is more than a piece of beautiful property that we are talking about. This property serves a purpose for the entire community and developing this would be removing absorbent land that helps absorb our
rainfall and the City engineers already determined their would be additional floodwater runoff. She said her home backs up to the wetlands and itís already been determined there is additional runoff. Mr. Roskelly is waiting for the new floodplain map and FEMA is supposed to be moving the floodplain a little north so he can build his homes. She was not saying that they were doing this for Mr. Roskelly. However, when talking about the floodplain moving north, she said they are talking about her house and the home of her neighbors. They cannot tolerate any more water in that area. Please be cautious when dealing with this property as there should be a win-win situation for everyone. They are asking Council to protect citizens from any additional burdens of flood waters. She said flood and storm water control also controls things such as pollutants. She said her area is the densest in population. Ms. Pringle said Member Lorenzo expressed concerns about density in many of the issues except for this one. She thought they had the same concern regarding this. Meadowbrook Lake has been drained. She passed out photos, taken prior to the first Planning Commission meeting, of the rear of her yard on April 12, 2005. There is standing water in all of these pictures and it had been 41 days since the last rainfall when the pictures were taken. Whether the property is developed or Meadowbrook Lake is drained it affects all of us. Meadowbrook Lake was drained, it pulled the water from everywhere and we have no standing water at this point, and after a tremendous storm we have no standing water.
Diane Shuffett, 40530 Village Wood Road, noted that she was told this development would go through the Village Wood Subdivision and she was very concerned about the additional traffic if that is true, because it would be very dangerous. However, if the road connects to Meadowbrook, it already has a lot of traffic and it would cause more traffic, more problems and more danger. She said the Meadowbrook bridge is being repaired now and it might need to be again because of additional traffic. Her main concern is what the traffic would do to all the pedestrians walking around the lake.
Becky Sullivan, 23796 W. LeBost, said she has watched countless trees turn into subdivisions and although we canít turn back the clock and preserve the land that has been lost; we can preserve this property right now for the many kinds of wildlife that live there. These animals go along with the ecosystems, which go along with the floodplains and things that we can not interfere with. She asked Council to protect what is left for her and her children. She and her sister ride their bikes around the bridge and felt they wonít be able to do that because of the increase in traffic. She said Council should apply for this grant because there is a chance of getting it and this area would be there for all to enjoy.
LuAnne Kozma, 23837 W. Le Bost, said she moved to Michigan in 1976 studying Parks and Recreation and got a degree from MSU. She sat in classes with guest speakers when this type of grant was first being developed. Dave Dempsey, recently retired from the MNRTF board, said "national parks were the greatest idea and grants were the best idea Michigan had". She addressed two things from the mid week packet that this parcel is isolated from any other public park and if used as a park itís going to be a neighborhood park. She said Mr. Auler knows that the definition of a neighborhood park is not this type of parcel. We are talking about a natural resource area for passive use. Residents donít want playgrounds and active recreation there. Mr. Auler also mentioned that the community recreation plan adopted in 2003 needs to be amended. She said 28 people were responsible for the input into that plan. Mr. Mutch
was present at the public hearing that adopted the plan and he made comments that didnít get incorporated into the plan. It is a very simple thing to amend this plan and is a very important step in order to apply for the grant and be successful. She suggested the plan be amended because significant changes have happened since the plan was adopted. For example, we have the new passive parkland at the Singh property, and the DNR expects amendments to be done whenever there is a significant change. She said previous versions of this plan, prior to Mr. Auler, had expressed that parkland was needed in the southeast part of the City, and that language has been omitted from the plan. She suggested that in the Parks and Recreation amendment, language be added back into the plan that more passive recreation and open space is needed in the south east quadrant where few opportunities exist. Residents have expressed a need for more passive and natural resources in the south east areas of the City, and as opportunities arise the City will make an effort to obtain such parcels.
Kathleen Mutch, 24541 Hampton Court, said most of the people who spoke this evening are from areas surrounding the property. People from all over town including the north and western sides of town have spoken. So this is something that concerns people throughout the City. Looking back to a time of other Councilís with the same responsibilities this Council has, it was their responsibilities to look forward. Thirty or forty years ago there were people moving into new subdivisions and they thought it was wonderful because it was rural and there was a lot of open space. However those newcomers soon realized that the open space was quickly disappearing and those natural areas were going to be gone. While the price of their homes was going up so was the price of land and land that was developed could not be repurchased. So, where there were open spaces, people enjoyed them for as long as they could. Nevertheless, there were people who sat on the Council who could see their responsibility and could look ahead to the future of this community and knew what had to be done. So they began holding developers to the line and rewriting the ordinances and making sure that those people who lived in the newer parts of town lived in developments where bulldozers did not fill in the wetlands and trees were not cut down. All of us have benefited from the forward thinking of previous Councils, and she asked Council to take this responsibility as seriously as those who preceded them and realize the residents are not asking them or the developer to pay, they are asking Council to invest some of the tax dollars they have collected over the years to take advantage of this DNR opportunity.
Stan Olkowski, 23303 W. Le Bost, said he has lived in Novi for 22 years and backs up to this locations wetlands floodplain. A lot of people have expressed grave concerns over the future of the wildlife and preservation of the environmental quality of not only the parcel, but the appearance of that area for the sake of their own enjoyment. He felt he had to stress to the administration that they had an undeniable and overwhelming obligation to act on behalf of the best interests of the current residents, their current taxpayer base and the best interest of their property. There is a terrible water problem there that isnít there now because the lake has been drained. This is not the time to make these decisions if they are going to be based on wetlands, but it is the time to make decisions based upon public opinion. He knew these people were not lying to Council, because he lives there too, has experienced the same problems and has had water in the basement. These problems are not going away and are going to get worse.
If this plan goes forward, then we need to identify an entity who will ultimately be financially responsible for property damage to these residents who have had nothing to do with the promotion of this development.
Ted Zuchlewski, 40827 Village Wood, noted there has been a lot of emotion, discussion and history regarding this parcel. He suggested that if Council chooses to move forward with the development, the developer should be advised and must be made to have a performance bond to protect the roads, water erosion problems, flooding in basements, etc. He felt this was common sense and something that Council should require. Performance bonds are not uncommon and can be kept for 3 or 4 years, if the issues brought up are not factual and there are no claims against the performance bond then these people will have lost a greenbelt area, but will not have to bear the responsibility of what Council is recommending.
Bob Shaw, 40612 Village Oaks, said he is a resident and was a Parks and Recreation Commissioner for nine years, and while a Commissioner they begged to do something in the southeast sector of the City and never had the opportunity. He said if Council would invest a little bit, this could go a long way. He wanted to point out some things in the existing Community Recreation Plan. He cited pages 3 and 4 for grants because the department doesnít have the funds for capital improvement needs at a level that would meet community expectations. Other pages cited were 10, 15 and 23. Most important was page 37 which said, "The departmentís background and staffís programming direction have been concentrated on the core service areas. However, other recreation program needs for the community have gone unmet, teens, adult family recreation and passive nature based programs". Mr. Shaw said this is Councilís opportunity, by changing a few words in the plan tonight, and submitting the application for a grant to actually do what this plan says should be done. He encouraged Council to do so.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
Discussion of a suggested Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant application for purchase of property known as Village Wood Lake Condominiums for City park land.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Auler to go over his memo of June 23, 2005 in detail.
Mr. Auler said after review of the Board of Directors Natural Resources Trust Fund initiatives and the grant evaluation criteria, it was his recommendation not to submit a grant application. Mr. Auler didnít believe the grant application, when compared to the rating criteria, would be as competitive as it would need to be for the projects. He said the Board of Directors initiatives for the Trust Fund Grant focus on providing hunting and fishing opportunities, water recreation access, trail connections to state wide trail systems, and preserving critical habitat areas that are connecting to others already in permanent protection. In terms of the grant scoring criteria there is a possible 210 points on this category alone. He felt there wouldnít be hunting or fishing opportunities, water recreation access opportunities or state trail connections, so a minimum of amount of points would be scored there.
The other grant application criteria, the Community Recreation Plan would need to occur. Also, this particular project would need to be rated as a highly critical priority, as Item number one or two, for the upcoming year for the recreation plan. While that could be done, it raises the question of whether it is a higher priority than the Emerald Ash Borer Tree Program, Americans With Disabilities Act, transition projects that have been identified or the need for active parkland to provide for practice soccer fields, trail systems, and so forth.
Other areas of the grant application included in the packet in terms of rating, natural resources, inland waterways, hunting and economic development and Mr. Auler believed that we would score zero points in those areas. That section of the application indicates hunting opportunities must be available or you will score zero. Economic benefit has to create jobs for the area, and this project wonít enable us to do that, and so forth. Financial need is based upon per capita income within the community and Novi would score 0-20 points in that category. Oil and gas availability within the County in terms of how the project or Natural Resource Trust Fund is funded would also score low in that category and the initiatives.
One of the key issues to be considered is that the grant is a reimbursement grant, 75%/25% match. A 25% local match will score zero points in the grading criteria, which is outlined in the grant application. In order to do that we must, with the grant application, submit a letter stating how we would provide the 25% match or more. He said this would be a commitment letter on how we are going to do that in terms of cash, contribution or in terms of the value of the land donation being contributed. He spoke with Mr. Roskelly twice who indicated everything has a price. He did not buy the land to give it to the City or sell it to the City, but everything has a price. He spoke with Mr. Roskelly today and he said in order for him to consider contributing the value of the land for a 25% match, the appraised value would have to come in around $1.2 to $1.3 million. An appraisal has not been done, but the Assessorís office has performed a review of that at a value of $475,000 so even if that figure is low, it would still be 2 to 3 times the amount necessary for the appraisals. He said it is true that an appraisal does not have to be done at the time of the application, Mr. Roskelly indicated that he needs to know what the appraised values are or he canít commit to a 25% match. If he canít do that then the City must commit to how it would fund our 25% of the match at the time of the grant application. There are many challenges with that item for the City.
Mr. Auler said they did contact appraisers that are on the City bid list and have a proposal, included in the packet, from one of them who indicated the price range at approximately $6,000 and could have it complete by July 31st. Also, in the packet was the proposal for preparing the grant application which is between $2,500 and $3,000 plus reimbursables and any additional public meetings that need to be held. One of the key points to keep in mind is that this is a reimbursable grant, so if awarded, the City would have to put up the money necessary and then be reimbursed following the project approval and the closing of the documents.
Mr. Auler stated this information was included in Council packets. He said the project will not score high enough and he included the 15 acquisition projects that were funded from the trust fund in 2004. He said 14 of those projects met the criteria of the board initiatives, one did not and it was awarded for $100,000 and it provided funding to create the first County park in that particular county, to get a park system going within the community. Mr. Auler estimated that at the high end we might score 140 points out of a possible 730 and would be spending $9,000 to $15,000 and would not be sure we would be competitive in the grant process. They currently have 148 grant applications on file and more will come by August 1st. The developer has indicated and it is part of the Planning Commission commitment, to set aside a Conservation Easement for the wetlands, which will be 6.73 acres of wetlands so we will preserve that environmental area.
Mr. Auler said he understands the citizens concerns and he thought everyone valued citizen input and that is what makes government work and makes Novi a great community. However, as a staff person, he could not recommend supporting this grant application from the standpoint of expending the funds and potentially not having the most competitive application within the process.
Mr. Helwig noted discussions like this are always beneficial. Thereís been a lot thatís happened in a short period of time, and a discussion like this gives us a chance to inhale, listen, discuss and think again about where we want to go and how we want to get there. He said what perplexed him was the focus on the grant. He didnít think they would have accomplished whatís been accomplished if we focus on a step toward something without knowing where we wanted to be in the end. It would be sad, given all the community teamwork that has occurred in recent years, if we went through a charade of applying for a grant, knowing almost full well weíre not going to go anywhere with getting that grant. Mr. Helwig commented he knew how hard Council worked to build up the rainy day funds and he didnít know where this stood on the communityís priority list, but thatís what rainy day funds are there for. They are there for emergencies, contingencies, and letís face it the State of Michigan is in a state of emergency, letís not lose sight of that, which is another reason why these funds are likely to go elsewhere well beyond Oakland County. Oakland County can take care of its needs compared to most of the rest of Michigan. The question is how critical is this need and how does it match with other City wide priorities. He thought when looking at Noviís income and position in the urban landscape in Michigan, there are very few grants of significant size that are going to come our way. Perhaps the Economic Development Grant that we got for Grand River was the last major one because of facilitating the Expo Center and using that for economic generation. He has concluded that the grant process would create many false hopes and in the end not have anything to show for it. Mr. Helwig commented they could go through that process to create good will in the short term, and in the long term he didnít think it would accomplish what is being petitioned before this government.
Mayor Csordas stated he agreed with Mr. Helwig regarding the charade of false hopes particularly in a political year is shameful. He understood that no one in this auditorium understands the process, the ordinances, the ramifications of all of the things that are said and in this particular season when hopes are raised artificially and chinned up by political aspirations it is really unfortunate. This Council has a very strong record of maintaining our ordinances, maintaining the fact that we do treasure our open spaces and wetlands, etc., and we also protect property ownerís rights within the City. This City
Council has for the last two years passed budgets with 14% surplus to protect all of us and to be sure that we can continue to be a community where people want to come.
Mayor Csordas agreed wholeheartedly with both presentations just given. He appreciated Mr. Aulerís professional opinion of that and for removing all the emotion and letting us know the ramifications. It is significant money that would be involved. The gentleman that owns the property is not going to flip it because somebody is out there working people up. It is very practical, straightforward, economical and it is also very emotional for you and we truly understand that.
Member Capello stated, in general, he is in favor of pursuing the grant. He said they had convinced him and several other Council members that this is a very prestigious parcel of property, and that it would be in the benefit of the City if we could keep this from being developed. Member Capello said he listened to everyone talk and 85% have the wrong impression of whatís going on. The Planning Commission has already approved this project for development. We canít change that, the developer owns the property and has a right to develop it, and he wished they had shown up during the planning process and discussed these issues. He said the seller has to sell the property to us. He thought a 10 lot subdivision was probably worth $900,000 to $1.2 million. The developerís price is reasonable. Member Capello said whether or not with that $900,000 heís giving us 25% of the value as the donation, he didnít think was reasonable. We need to know in the grant application where we would come up with the other $300,000, and there isnít $300,000 there from a donation from the developer. He did believe that given the piece of property and the lack of parkland in this area of the City, and the benefit to the City to invest $3,000, and no more, to at least write the grant is worth the low risk that weíd get the grant. He thought Mr. Auler and Mr. Helwig were right about not creating any false hopes, because he was going to vote for it but he thought they were going to lose the money but the benefit of getting it is huge. Mr. Capello said the residents had to find the $300,000 to match it, and in his opinion they were not going to do it with an appraisal to show the difference between $900,000 and $1.2 million.
Member Capello asked Mr. Lemmon, City Assessor, if it was fair to say that once approval is there as residential or site condo, that the value would be increased in that property. Mr. Lemmon stated it is a 14 acres parcel, and only about 3.5 acres is developable. He said he valued the 3.5 acres at $474,000 true cash value as vacant land, or about $135,000 per acre, which is on the high end. Now what Mr. Roskelly has done is he has gone all through the planning process but the difference between the $474,000 and his $900,000 could be called sweat equity, and he is not going to sell you the land without the sweat equity. Mr. Lemmon said at $900,000 for the 3.5 acres works out to $250,000 per acre, and that is a lot of money for residential property; or $330,000 when referring to $1.3 million, and there are no comparables to support that. He said an independent appraiser with proper certification could give a narrative appraisal. Member Capello mentioned the Meadowbrook 8 Mile subdivision and said it was a 10 unit site condo or subdivision and sold for $900,000. Mr. Lemmon said the builder bought the property from a person who went through basically the same process as Mr. Roskelly. Member Capello said they bought it in this same period of time and Mr. Lemmon agreed. Member Capello said it was less acreage but no wetlands. The ten unit sold for $900,000 or $90,000 a piece so it is feasible that this property could have a market value of the same price, possibly lower because of the location, if developed as a single family subdivision. Mr. Lemmon stated the development would include utilities, roads, and whatever infrastructure needed.
Mr. Capello said it sells for $900,000 but take away the approval for the subdivision and keeping it as vacant parkland, is that going to bring the value back down to vacant land again.
Mr. Lemmon stated he is valuing the land and not the sweat equity. As an assessor he puts the proper value of the land no matter who buys, it that is the most prevailing value on the open market for sale. Member Lemmon said there might be a developer that would pay $900,000. Member Capello explained that if Mr. Roskelly wants $900,000 and it is appraised at $450,000 the residents would need to come up with $450,000 plus 25% of $450,000, which is the market value.
Member Nagy noted Mr. Roskelly should have been invited to this meeting so Council could have dialogue about what he would or wouldnít do. She said she lives in that area and there are two private parks. While on the Planning Commission, she opposed the Quail Ridge subdivision, and it is now the highest density at 439 units. A trade was made and we got 60 acres of land that was not buildable and put a trail system through it with the help of Singh, and connected to the Preserve subdivision. However, it is your tax dollars that would be supporting that trail that you would probably never use, because it is at the 10 Mile and Wixom Road area and not where you live. Member Nagy mentioned the taxpayer money that went into the Village Oaks paving and to have Cranbrooke and Village Wood shoulders paved. She said their tax dollars pay for many things in many areas. If we want to be equitable, then her feeling is letís spend the money to get the grant. According to the National Association of Parks guidelines, this is a natural resources preserve with open space, and is land that is set aside for preservation of natural resources, landscape, open space, etc. She thought they could definitely find a way to get the grant and was upset that we keep adding more density to the City. She said they put in Orchard Hills West and took that beautifully preserved area and put a road through it that is now pushing the wildlife everywhere. This is the Middle Rouge and is an important part of our conservation and watershed is the Middle Rouge area, and this development would affect that. She stated she would take the tax dollars and spend them responsibly. She wants to spend the money and try for this grant. She noted there are some locations where their tax dollars are being used to maintain other trail systems, etc. There is way too much importance to this: 1) passive use, 2) preserving the vegetation and wild life 3) this will affect the Middle Rouge and 4) these people deserve that the Council take the initiative to spend a fraction of our budget or the rainy day fund to have this chance.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry noted some issues we have control over and others we donít. Heís heard a lot about preserving wetlands, woodlands and we donít need more houses in the City, we donít need to cater to developers but we do need to preserve open space. Letís understand what authority the City has. This is not City property. The City doesnít have the authority to tell this person they canít build on this land because we have zoned this land residential, and the builder has come forth asking to develop it as we zoned it. We do not have the ability to tell this developer that they must leave it green. If we did, it would be an unconstitutional taking of that personís property. If, we as a City, tell this person they could not build it and that they had to leave it, the City would have to buy it from him. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says you cannot take someoneís property without just compensation. Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he would not support spending $900,000 to buy this property.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry was interrupted by a resident and Mayor Csordas gaveled the meeting back to order.
The City would have to purchase the property by expending City funds or obtain the money elsewhere. With respect to the wetlands and woodlands, this site has gone through the Planning Commission and they granted a woodland and wetland permit. Therefore, his proposed development of the property meets our ordinances and they granted him a storm water management permit because his proposed development meets the ordinance. He canít ignore this. Mayor Pro Tem Landry said 44% of the property will be open space. The City wonít spend $900,000 to buy the property, and the real issue is do we apply for the grant. Mr. Auler has told us that we will not qualify for this grant, so the question is do we spend the money on something we donít think we will get return on. He understood that it is emotional but there is also an obligation to the taxpayers to spend the money wisely. We have heard several different figures and Mr. Mutch, tonight said, it would cost $10,000 so do we spend the money on a grant we donít think we will get. When Mr. Auler researches the issue, and says we may not qualify for this, he could not justify spending $10,000.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he thought there was a solution and a precedent for the solution. A couple years ago the people in Westmont Village were concerned that the woodland behind their homes was up for a tax sale. They came to the City and they said the City and only the City could purchase this property at a tax sale for $12,000. The City said they would not pay $12,000 for this piece of property. The residents collected amongst themselves the money and the average payment was $500 per household. The City spent money on the City attorney, went to the tax sale, did the paperwork and the residents gave the money to the City to purchase the property. He said he counted the petition and there are 181 households that signed the petition, if it costs $10,000 to apply for this grant that would be $55.24 per household to apply for the grant. He would not support spending tax dollars on this matter, but would support City administration doing the paperwork to pursue the grant if the residents paid for the money it takes to apply for the grant.
CM-05-06-210 Moved by Landry, seconded by Lorenzo; MOTION FAILED:
That the City would apply for the grant if the residents pay for all
application costs and secure from Mr. Roskelly a commitment to
donate 25% or the residents are to pay the 25%.
Member Lorenzo said she objectively read through the application and through the list of projects approved last year for thousands of acres with 350 frontage of dune and lake frontage. Even the grant for $100,000 that was approved for St. Clair Township was for the park expansion for land adjacent to Grieg Park for passive use. She said that was the closest on the list to purchasing 7 acres of Wetlands and Woodlands. She went through every page and this isnít about investing, this is about gambling and she was not optimistic. She cannot take the chance as she is representing the taxpayers at large to gamble.
Member Lorenzo spoke about taxpayers who call about deteriorating roads, and residents whose streets are not plowed. So this Council made it a priority to purchase snow plowing equipment and hiring personnel to do those things. She came to Novi as a 25 year old idealist who spoke out for the environment when it wasnít fashionable. Member Lorenzo said when she represents 50,000 people, sat through eight budgets going line per line to find $1,000 in order to enhance public safety, she could not sit here and say letís gamble $10,000. The first gamble would be to go for the appraisals because we donít know if the appraisals would come in at the $1.2 million needed for the donation. She appreciated the efforts of Mr. Roskelly and his patience. The second gamble is actually receiving the grant. So when we have residents that want streets, public safety, fire, police, parks, we cannot do everything, because we donít have the tax dollars to do it. She asked herself if she would spend her personal money on it and the answer was no, so she would not do it for the citizens at large. Council has to look at the implications across the board.
Member Gatt, noted everyone sitting at the Council table loves the City and wants to serve the City. Everyone has different opinions and approaches but we all love the City and serving, the taxpayers. Member Gattís said his philosophy is to protect the citizenís money, and what he is hearing tonight is that residents want Council to spend or gamble the money even though it is probably a losing proposition, but it is your money. Therefore if there is a motion tonight, he said he would support the motion to apply for the grant. After that, assuming the un-winnable happens, then there is the matching funds and he wouldnít support going into the Cityís 50,000 peopleís coffers to come up with the matching grant. That will be up to you residents just like the Westmont residents did. Member Gatt said up until a few weeks ago, he lived and backed up to this property and his kids did fish, skate and played in the woods. It is beautiful and he wants to keep it that way, but it belongs to a developer and he has met every criterion to develop the property. He will support the grant application but not the matching funds.
Member Paul noted she was one of the Westmont residents that paid the $625 to purchase the property. They purchased the remainder of the property at the tax sale. She has been in their shoes, and understands all of their issues. She would like to move forward on the grant proposal, and would also like to see the citizens come together and put some money up to pay for one appraisal and also do the grant application to see if there is even a shot at this. She also looked at the Singh Trail, and she knew that a large portion of the residents would use the trail if it were obtained. Everyone sat together through two budgets, and it was very painful just to find money for firefighter coverage through the night. $10,000 is a third of a firefighterís salary. Every point made tonight is valid, yours and ours. Member Paul told the residents that every single one of their voices was important and every single Council member has heard them. They are trying not to increase the taxes further. She would look to the residents to come up with the 25%. She called Mr. Roskelly and he was willing to wait to see what Council will do. She appreciated his efforts and his waiting to move forward with development. She asked that one appraisal be done at a cheaper amount. She also cares strongly about the environment and about all of the residents.
Mayor Csordas noted it was unfortunate that someone in our community brought all these false expectations and misinformation and false hopes to the residents. The professional people that we have here make recommendations based on facts and we go by their recommendations. Council also listens to what the residents have to say and then have their discussion. This has been in process for a very long time. Mayor Csordas asked if the City ever owned the property and Mr. Helwig said no, the City has never owned the property.
Mayor Csordas said there had been a statement regarding Council turning its back on the taxpayers. This Council has never turned its back on the taxpayers and the record will show that, Mayor Csordas said he was very proud to stand up and support the record of the City Council. He said it is preeminent in Councilís thoughts to take care of and protect the taxpayers.
Regarding the water table issues, Mayor Csordas noted that Mr. Lemmon stated the developable acreage on this property is less than 4 acres. The site it 15 acres and the Planning Commission required that that space remain open. Mayor Csordas said all of the details and due diligence has been put into place including the fact there would not be water issues with this development based on the plan design. A comment was made by one of the residents that this wasnít a good time to test the water levels because it might have been a low period. He thought it was a very interesting comment and didnít know if it was factual or based on emotion. Mr. Helwig noted the resident was referring to the fact that the level of Meadowbrook Lake has been drained so low that the flow has probably crossed Meadowbrook Road from this area and is artificially much lower than what would be expected. Mayor Csordas said it would have had to pass the test of the City Engineers that it wouldnít cause the residents any problems. He said the entrance road was also brought up, however, that is a stub street and not a court.
Mayor Csordas said it was very unfortunate to have this item become so emotional. We have to deal with facts, fact of law, presentations from consultants and engineers. We have to make decisions that are best for the people who live in this City. This Council also lives in the City and was here to protect your interests. He said they were not there to be emotional or to make decisions that would gain votes. We are here to base every decision, without regard to whether they receive a vote or not, Council is here to do the right thing for the people who live in this City. He said for the residents expectations to be falsely raised to think there is a chance for success on this is very unfortunate. To go to the grant process, whatever the cost, why would this Council throw away money when there is no expectation of anything in return.
Mayor Csordas said since the residents have the ability to generate petitions and get signatures, he suggested that they generate petitions to give Council their written commitment to cover the cost of this. He commented he would not agree to spend $50.00 of their money on this without a return. However, if the residents brought back a petition with signatures of residents who would commit to cover the costs, he would consider that. Mayor Csordas repeated that he didnít believe there is a chance for this, but if the residents believed there was a chance they are the ones that count. Mayor Csordas thought it would be a small investment of their own commitment to get this done. Mayor Csordas said he would not support spending any money on this when, based on the facts and figures, there is no chance of getting this.
Mayor Csordas asked Ms. Cornelius what the motion on the floor was.
Ms. Cornelius stated the motion was to apply for the grant if the residents pay for the grant application process.
Mayor Csordas asked how they would get that commitment.
Mr. Schultz responded to the motion, in looking at the application requirements, it must be clarified by the maker of the motion and Council discussion as to how it relates to the match. The application clearly calls for the City to say where the 25% is going to come from and it wants some description of where that would be. The grant writers for the City staff and administration are going to need direction from Council to finish the motion that was made.
Member Landry asked that the motion be restated to apply for the grant if the residents pay for all application costs and secure from Mr. Roskelly a letter of commitment to donate the 25% or have the residents commit to pay the 25% themselves.
CM-05-06-211 Moved by Landry, seconded by Lorenzo; MOTION
FAILED: To apply for the grant if the residents pay for all
application costs and secure from Mr. Roskelly the
commitment to donate 25% or have the residents pay the 25%.
Member Nagy stated she would not support the motion. She said there is a thing called fiscal responsibility to spend the tax dollars wisely, but they arenít always spent wisely. We all pay for things that we will never use. She said no one in her household plays sports but she pays for the park system irrigation and she has no one in the senior community but just approved $25,000 for a new senior van. She said, with all due respect, it becomes like a game, are we going to spend $50, or $10, etc. She said tax dollars are being spent all over the City and not everybody benefits.
Member Nagy said regarding the information given to the Council this week end, she spoke with Linda Heckstrom and she disagreed with her assessment. She didnít want to gamble with anyoneís money but believed this was a possibility. She thought Member Gatt made a great suggestion to ask Senator Cassis or Mr. DeRoche to assert themselves in this process and there are many people who have ties to the State. She would have liked to have had Mr. Roskelly present with a letter of commitment. Member Nagy said she would not look to the residents for the money for the grant process. This area has been paying into the kitty for a very long time and she didnít want to ask them to do anything else. We all contribute, it disburses everywhere, and we donít all use the same facilities.
Mayor Csordas asked, because he wanted to be sure it was clear, that starting any portion of this would also require a commitment to fund the matching portion of this. Mr.
Schultz stated Council is requiring a donation of the money that the City would use as the application costs, and once received, then the application could be filed. Once the money is donated, and itís non City funds, it can begin. Mr. Roskelly must also sign the application even if we donít have a match from him.
Member Capello thought that in the application the downfall would be that if Mr. Roskelly is going to have to sign the application and agree to contribute 25% of value, what are we going to use for value. How will the 25% be determined?
Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated it is not necessary to have an appraisal and they can just file the application, but it is necessary to have the owner of the property write a letter of commitment. Now, Council has been told that Mr. Roskelly will do that if he sees an appraisal sufficient enough that he will receive $900,000. Therefore, it is technically not required to have an appraisal, but we will have to in order to get Mr. Roskellyís signature. He said it would cost $9,000 just to apply.
Member Capello stated the appraisal has to be of the vacant land and not as an approved subdivision of 10 lots.
Mr. Schultz stated the application forms state an appraisal is recommended but we donít have to have it. If we donít have the appraisal, we are putting a value on it that may or may not be the right value. However, you are committing the City, because the application says hereís how much money weíre asking for so the grant writers, administration and everyone will have to be on the same page and say are we asking for $1.2 million because that is what Mr. Roskelly wants. If that is what it takes to have a real application, then that is the number that should be used and you use the proposal of his donation or other funds. If only asking for $475,000 because thatís what the assessor says itís worth, he didnít think they would have the letter from Mr. Roskelly. Mr. Schultz said it would work itself out as a practice matter.
Member Capello commented he was against the motion because he thought Council needed to contribute the $3,000, and the residents need to come up with the 25%. In order to get the 25% they need to have an appraisal at $1.2 million, and that would be a part of the residents cost to come up with that appraisal to get the 25%, because it is the only way they can do it. The application is not going to hold water with the State unless they come up with that appraisal. He said the residents are committing, if this motion fails, and there is a motion made that the City will pay the $3,000 for the grant application, the residents have to come up with $7,000 or $8,000 for the appraisal.
Mayor Csordas stated Mr. Roskelly wouldnít accept $475,000, and Mr. Roskelly is talking about $1.2 million, inflating it so he can get his 25% back and get to the number he wants to be at, $800,000 or $900,000. He asked everyone to get real about this and said it is very unfortunate that none of this has been real. So, where is that $800,000 going to come from. It is an unfortunate game that has tugged on the residents heart strings and now we have an issue.
Maryanne Cornelius stated the motion, to apply for the grant if the residents pay for all application costs and secure from Mr. Roskelly a commitment to donate 25% or the residents are to pay the 25%.
Roll call vote on CM-05-06-211 Yeas: Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo
Nays: Capello, Gatt, Nagy, Paul
CM-05-06-212 Moved by Capello, seconded by Paul; MOTION FAILED:
That the City contribute up to $3,000 only to write the grant,
and prior to expending that money from the City the residents
have to provide the means to show the City, as part of our
grant application, either by an appraisal or other means a
commitment by Mr. Roskelly to come up with the 25%
contribution from the City.
Roll call vote on CM-05-06-212 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Nagy, Paul
Nays: Landry, Lorenzo, Csordas
Motion failed as five votes are needed to appropriate the money.
CM-05-06-213 Moved by Paul, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY:
To approve to authorize staff to prepare and submit a grant
application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for
funding to acquire 14.97 acres, Roskelly property, east of
Meadowbrook Road between Nine and Ten Mile Roads, for the
purpose of preserving existing natural open space for passive
public recreation with a residential area. Also, the residents
would come forward with Mr. Roskelly and the appraisal and
show, as part of the application, where the 25% is coming from
so there is no cost to the City for the 25% contribution.
Member Capello said he understands the motion to say the staff will write the grant without going to McKenna and Associates so there is no cost to the City.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said Council still has to address the issue that the 25% contribution has to be resolved between the residents and Mr. Roskelly otherwise there is no application.
Mr. Schultz said because the application requires commitment of City funds, he didnít hear the same limitation to Mr. Roskelly or other private parties. This would require five votes because that would fall under the appropriation question.
Mr. Capello said that was what his friendly amendment was and asked if it would satisfy Mr. Schultzís concerns. Mr. Schultz thought it would. Mr. Capello said the residents still have to come forward with Mr. Roskelly and the appraisal and show, as part of the application, where the 25% is coming from so there is no cost to the City for the 25% contribution.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said then we donít spend any taxpayers money on this application at all, the staff writes it and in order to have a complete application, the residents would have to have some commitment from Mr. Roskelly or the residents would have to satisfy that they would pay whatever the 25% match is. Mr. Capello said yes, they have to figure out where it is coming from.
Member Paul accepted the amendment. She thought this portion could be pushed forward and then talk about any other outstanding issues.
Member Nagy supported the amendment.
Member Lorenzo and Mayor Csordas supported the motion because it was not spending taxpayerís dollars.
Roll call vote on CM-05-06-213 Yeas: Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul,
Bob Shaw, 40612 Village Oaks, noted the power was out in the Meadowbrook Subdivision because of an old infrastructure they couldnít trust. Since they have an old infrastructure and power that is unreliable in a high density area in an aging neighborhood, that is probably the area that will have the highest level of crime. He said there are unlimited funds for police things, and felt perhaps a police sub-station should be built there. Mr. Shaw said McKenna should never be applying for a grant again because they spend City tax payer dollars on grant applications and every grant application is a gamble. Unless every affected individual has to come up with the money individually so we have to find a way to have a special assessment for every citizen of Novi to pay for every grant application and every expense involved. We have a Novi Parks Foundation and he didnít hear from them offering $3,000 for a professional grant application done by people who are interested in having it pass. He was amazed that Mayor Pro Tem Landry wants to impede the citizenís right of petition by having them pay their proportionate cost of whatever it takes to take care of what citizens want to do. He found it amazing that two members of Council members objected to an individual presenting factual information, which is factual information to the citizens. Mr. Shaw commented he remembered at time back, when the City Council was telling citizens one thing and they took the City to court and it was found that the citizens were correct and won that case. Then, the City turned around and did everything they could do to make it legal after the fact. That same citizen is responsible for this and he felt the citizen should be recognized for doing research and working hard for the benefit of the citizens and drop the politics out of this.
A resident thanked the Council for finding a way to apply for this grant. She didnít feel anyone came around doing any rebel rousing and proclaiming false hopes. She thought this was their only hope. Several citizens have different reasons why they donít want this built and hers is the flood issue. Village Oaks is dealing with building in the middle of their subdivision with no sidewalks. We, as residents are doing anything they can do to make it a win-win situation so they donít have anymore development in this immediate area.
LuAnne Kozma, noted it is unfortunate that we donít have a professional doing the grant. The City is willing to do it with a grudging staff that isnít behind it. In order for this to be a successful grant, we need to do it in a sincere way. She thought all the residents would be in favor of working with Mr. Auler and the City administration to make it the best application it can be. It is a competitive system, we wonít win unless we play the game. She said they wanted Council to understand the need to protect the land, and she didnít hear that coming strongly from all of Council. It wasnít just going through the hoops, but please donít think of it as a chance. She thought it was insulting to ask the residents to fork over $20.00 each to pay for applying.
MATTERS FOR COUNCIL ACTION
CM-05-06-214 Moved by Capello, seconded by Landry; CARRIED
UNANIMOUSLY: To enter into Executive Session immediately
following the special meeting of June 27, 2005 in the Council
Annex for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining
Roll call vote onCM-05-06-214 Yeas: Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas,
Entered into Executive Session at 9:16 P.M.
Returned from executive session at 10:35 P.M.
CM-05-06-215 Moved by Gatt, seconded by Landry; CARRIED
UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the tentative agreement the City
has reached with the Police Clerks and Dispatchers
Roll call vote on CM-05-06-215 Yeas: Lorenzo, Nagy, Paul, Csordas,
Landry, Capello, Gatt
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 P.M.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
____________________________ Date approved: July 11, 2005
Transcribed by Charlene Mc Lean