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JOINT SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
AND THE NOVI PLANNING COMMISSION
 MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2006 AT 6:30 P.M.
COUNCIL CHAMBERS Ė NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD

Mayor Landry called the meeting to order at 6:31 P.M.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

ROLL CALL COUNCIL: Mayor Landry, Mayor Pro Tem Capello, Council Members Gatt, Margolis, Mutch, Nagy, Paul

PLANNING COMMISSION: Avdoulos-absent, Cassis, Gutman, Kocan, Lipski-absent,

Lynch, Meyer, Pehrson, Wrobel

ALSO PRESENT: Richard Helwig, City Manager

Tom Schultz, City Attorney

Barbara McBeth, Director of Planning

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

CM-06-01-013 Moved by Capello, seconded by Nagy; CARRIED

UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as presented.

PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING

Mayor Landry advised the Council and the Planning Commission that he had spoken to Chairman Cassis, and they are in agreement to attempt to limit the discussion on each of the three issues to thirty minutes. Mayor Landry would, for discussion, recognize the Council Members and Chairman Cassis would recognize the Planning Commissioners. He and Chairman Cassis would co-chair the meeting.

Member Mutch advised Mayor Landry that Speaker of the House Craig DeRoche was present to speak and asked for Councilís approval.

Speaker of the House Craig DeRoche came before Council to pay tribute to Rick Helwig for his years of service to the City of Novi. He served so extraordinarily in such a challenging time for our City, and thanked him for everything he did.

Speaker DeRoche also wanted to speak to the community about the difficult day occurring, as a region, due to the closing of the Ford Wixom plant. He said he also represents Wixom, and this Council and City management always knew that the Wixom Road Interchange and the Wixom Plant played a big role in our region. He said that the Council and Planning Commission will have some very difficult decisions ahead of them since the Wixom plant will close in the second quarter of next year. His office and the State of Michigan will do everything in their power for Wixom, and for all the manufacturers in the State to assist them. Wixom is a well run City, they have good leadership, and they are going to do what they can to keep their City on track. He asked that we reach out to that community as their planning issues will affect our community as well.

1. Transfer of Development Rights Ė Member Mutch

Member Mutch noted this item revolves around the issue of multiple properties being included in an RUD or PUD for properties that are not contiguous. He said currently the ordinance allows any properties included in such kinds of developments, to be

adjacent to each other. The opportunity this change in the State law would allow is the potential for a shift in density within the City to allow some additional development on one portion of the RUD, while leaving the remainder or the second parcel undeveloped. This would protect natural resources or provide parkland with no or low cost to the City. Member Mutch had brought this up at a Council meeting and asked Mr. Schultz to look into this.

Mr. Schultz reported there are several PUD type ordinances in Novi, and we could make use of this. PUD ordinances are a different kind of zoning that allows a lot of discretion in making site specific land use decisions and approvals. Instead of just a site plan you have discretionary determinations as to additional uses that might not otherwise be permitted in a district or variances in height or set back, etc. All this amendment does, as a practical matter, is allow another tool as part of that overall PUD, which is open space preservation on properties other than the property that is being developed under the PUD. It is an incentive or tool that is new to the statute. Basically, it says that unless the PUD Ordinance expressly prohibits saving of open space on another property, as part of a PUD development, then you can do that and it is a consideration. Mr. Schultz said the RUD ordinance expressly prohibits it because it talks specifically about contiguous properties. If Council wants to make use of the tool, and he thought that the more land use planning tools Council had, the better off they would be in terms of the ordinances, Council would have to make at least that one other change to the ordinance. Their memo pointed out that in addition to removing that prohibition in the RUD, if the Council and the Planning Commission were interested in this tool. It helps to have specific standards to tell property owners and developers when it is likely to be used.

Member Mutch thought if there was support from both bodies, it would be good to direct the Implementation Committee to look at amending our ordinances to allow this, not only in the RUD District but in both of those as potential amendments and incorporating the standards, and then return it to the City Council sooner rather than later.

Mayor Landry asked in order to effectuate such a transfer, the same developer would need to own both parcels, is that correct? Mr. Schultz said not necessarily, itís doable if the owners of both properties agree. As long as everyone is relevant to the transaction it could be worked out. Mayor Landry said if the owner of the parcel would agree to give up development rights, they still own the parcel, and it doesnít necessarily mean the public has access to it. Mr. Schultz said it could be correct in many or even most cases. However, it would all turn on how the contract is negotiated. There are PUDís where the public is permitted to enter, usually not because it is preserved as open space conservation easement type area. Mayor Landry asked if a lot of these are used to preserve farm land. Mr. Schultz said it tends to be in States that have true transfer of development rights, ordinances and statutes. It can work here if done and reviewed on a case by case basis.

Chairman Cassis said this is such an issue of monumental impact, and one that is new. He believed they needed to take some time, conduct some hearings, and go through a process to determine whether the people of this community want to proceed with this. He said the only people benefiting from this would be the two people with the two parcels except for the idea of having the trees and etc. preserved. Chairman Cassis said unless there is a contractual agreement the City cannot impose its will on the two parties. Mr. Schultz said this is not a City imposed requirement. He said there has to be the approval of the land owner as well as City Council. It allows open space to be used elsewhere, basically the open space for the density credit if Council determined itís a good thing to do, and if both property owners agree. Mr. Cassis felt this would need more discussion and more input from the community. He asked Mr. Helwig how much parkland or open land was still available that could take advantage of this kind of arrangement.

Mr. Helwig replied he didnít have that figure, but the most difficult sites are yet to come. He felt there was a tremendous upside in upholding the main heritage of this community, and thatís protecting natural features.

Commissioner Kocan said this is definitely a process and would have to go through master plan to identify areas, and we would have to know what areas we wanted or could preserve. Also, what does it do to our density? It sounds like the increase in density is significant in the receiving area compared to what it would have been, and that is a great concern. It also concerns the compatibility to the surrounding zoning. She asked if this skirted the wetland preservation provisions that we currently have. Are we going to end up giving density credits for wetland that would have been preserved and had gotten no density credit, but now we have significantly increased their density. She thought this would be more applicable to woodlands preservation. Who will purchase the units, and who will put a price on them, and is that the way it will work when you have two different developers. Will there be a banking provision and who makes that determination. It would be voluntary but there are many questions; she didnít feel Implementation was the right place for it to be right now. As opposed to maybe we need the information, what areas do we have, and do we want to make master plan changes before getting into the nuts and bolts of putting language together.

Member Nagy agreed with comments made by the previous speaker. She said in the State of the City address it was stated that there are still 3,500 acres undeveloped. She said we now require open space in the subdivisions, and when she read this she had a hard time visualizing how this would work. She would like to see a lot of research, especially in our State to see if anyone has done this. She wanted to hear developerís comments as well. She didnít want to send it to Implementation because they work hard enough as it is, and she felt it was too new. Also, we keep utilizing open space when we put in new subdivisions, and to her itís about density, and if it increases density it would be hard for her to support it. She appreciated the spirit in which this came forward, and agreed there could be an upside in preserving natural features. She said she couldnít imagine this coming forward for at least a year.

Member Paul thought it was a good idea. She said we have some very difficult areas to build and preserve. When looking at the 10 Mile and Beck and Eight Mile and Beck areas and others that have woodlands attached, we have an area that we might feel is abutting a major thoroughfare and we could put a little more dense area instead of RA. Maybe it could be R-1 or R-2. So, if there is some agreement that developers have with another parcel it should be visited. Also, we should look at how itís working in other States not mandated, but look at how we could possibly incorporate it. She didnít want to wait a year, because with the developments that keep rolling by we are missing opportunities. It should be evaluated to see if we want to move forward.

Commissioner Pehrson felt it was the right time for this type of research to be done. This is the time that we need this kind of ordinance to protect the acreage left inside the City. He thought they needed to go through all the process steps in order to get to the correct point to which it fits this City. He said not just to see how it worked somewhere else, which we can use as a benchmark, but he wanted to see it go through. He wanted to start the process at Planning Commission, and then through the Master Plan and zoning so we could understand how this would impact us.

Member Margolis referred to Mr. Schultzís second point about undertaking the program and having a policy decision as to whether this is worth the time going through the process. It is a rather lengthy process. She suggested the first piece of research should be how many parcels, what use, and how many people would be interested in doing this before undertaking this entire process. If it is a very small amount of land and a small application it wouldnít make a lot of sense to go through all this work.

Member Gatt thought they were all saying the same thing. It is a wonderful idea and he agreed a lot of research had to go into it, but letís see how many developers and builders are interested before we spend too much time and money on it.

Chairman Cassis stated this process went through both the State House and Senate after a lot of debate and research. It did not come forward over night. While we shouldnít spend a lot of money or time on this, he suggested giving it to one of the Planning Commission committees or Council, and leave it at that level for a while to see how far it would go. He felt this would be a good compromise on how to approach it.

Mayor Landry thought the development community would jump at the chance to do this. However, they are going to want increased density. The only reason a developer would do this is if they make it up on the financial end, and the way they make it up is increased density, and you are not going to get vacant land for nothing. He felt the place for this to start is with the Master Plan. It has to be decided if there is an area in this City we would be willing to pay the price for, if weíre not, then the process stops. Is there an area of the City that we would be willing to give additional density, and if yes, what area of the City do we want to preserve.

Chairman Cassis stated we must also remember the contiguous owners of the property in question, and how it would affect them or their neighbors. He said it is an issue with a great impact on communities, and not every community can handle this. He agreed with the Mayorís suggestion.

Mayor Pro Tem Capello stated this was designed for the western part of the State for agricultural property, and application in Novi might be stretching it. It is similar to what we use now in the wetland mitigation area that the City owns on the northwest side. We purchased a large parcel and allowed developers to contribute to that wetland instead of having small pockets of wetland on individual pieces of property. The City ended up with a nice quality wetland on their parcel. If we want to do this, he would like to see one large parcel. Letís designate the land, and then go to the development community to see if itís feasible to pay this price for the property to get additional density somewhere else.

Member Nagy said when looking at the Master Plan you also need to look at the infrastructure to see if there is water, sewer, and utilities.

Mayor Landry noted that Hugh Crawford was present and asked if he had anything to share. He said his wife, Kathy Crawford, would like to share her experience at the White House Conference on Aging.

Kathy Crawford commented she had data to share that might assist Council during budget time. She said she is a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, which takes place every ten years. There were 1,200 delegates, who are seniors, from all over the nation attending. She said historic decisions are made at these conferences such as Medicaid, Medicare, nutrition programs for senior centers, etc. Ms. Crawford said each delegate was asked to study a workbook of 73 resolutions relating to aging, and choose between 30 and 50 for the delegates to prioritize and vote on. The resolutions, among the most pressing issues affecting older adults, would then be presented to Congress. She has given the Council and Planning Commissioners the top ten resolutions from across the nation. She shared critical data from the conference whose theme was The Booming Dynamics of Aging. The theme is so appropriate because "Boomers", people born between 1946 and 1964, started turning 60 January 1st. This huge group of people represent a profound demographic that will present enormous challenges for local State and federal governments as well as health care agencies and businesses. The rapidly expanding population of older adults will impact every department and business in this City.

Ms. Crawford commented she brought some Novi projections from the South East Michigan Council of Governments and they have sound information. In 24 years, we can expect some dramatic population shifts, particularly in the age 65 plus group who they expect will increase by 69%. In 2030, we will have more people over the age of 60 in Novi than we have in our entire population in 2000. She asked where they would live, and what services would they need. A SEMCOG official stated that the school buildings of today might become the senior centers of tomorrow.

Ms. Crawford said we need to understand we are not ready for these coming changes. We need new ideas and strategies so we can have the best services and programs for all of our citizens regardless of their age. She believed that beefing up and promoting services that now exist for older adults in Novi should begin immediately. This Councilís goals have included senior transportation and that is critical to expand that service, but also, a goal has been a free standing center where seniors can receive assistance, information, fitness training, etc. Science says that after our mid fifties, 70% of aging is controlled by our lifestyle, and how engaged in life, work and community we are. We must assist our citizens to take charge of their own health and financial security, and help them stay engaged in life, work and community. She said here, in Novi, we provide a base of services that cannot serve the people who are already here.

The senior center is maxed out at 228 people with no room for classes or activities, and no outreach. She said there is a lot to do and she is committed to making it happen, and assisting people who will work on it with her. People shouldnít have to leave Novi, as they age, because they donít have transportation, prescriptions or canít pay their taxes, etc. We can alleviate a lot of these problems for older people through education, outreach, and linking seniors with local resources. She thanked Council for all they do for the residents of Novi.

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2. Results of Developer Roundtable Discussions

Chairman Cassis stated they had two meetings with the development community and the minutes of these meetings were supplied to Council. He thought they should review some of the materials at a later time.

Ms. McBeth stated two sessions were held with a group of developers, planners, Planning Commission and staff. She said they had a guest speaker from Oakland County who talked about developing technologies, and the uses they might generate. The results of these sessions were very positive, and there is a memo dated July 8, 2005 in the packet that summarized the meetings.

Ms. McBeth said the original topic was to look at ways to enhance the tax base, particularly in the OST District; the ideas were broad ranging and not solely related to the OST District. She said the zoning ordinance changes that might be recommended would be the building heights, and asking the Ordinance Review Committee and the Implementation Committee to look at matching the building height and building stories so they are consistent. Also, modification of the sign ordinance to allow additional quality tenants to have additional office signage. There were also blanket zoning ordinance changes proposed, which were overall improvements to the zoning ordinance. Changes such as taking a look at all the things that go to ZBA, investigating the use of new building technologies to reduce costs, and possible amendments to the faÁade ordinance to come up with some of the new materials that are being proposed by developers and architect. Also, to look at the Gateway West District and uses that might be proposed there.

Ms. McBeth commented there were additional points. Streamlining the storm water maintenance agreement process, moving the review and approval process along more quickly, ideas to promote the City of Novi such as educate the brokerage community, and have positive impact on development. Also, enhancing our web site to include promoting business within the City, marketing the City as being business friendly, and developing other efforts to attract OST types of developments. There were several matters relating to City policy including soliciting more developer input. Ms. McBeth said the developers that did attend were all very pleased that they were being asked to provide input. Also, continue to make the infrastructure improvements. She noted there were a number of compliments regarding the road system by the developers, notifying developers of code changes, increasing the use of economic development tools, coming up with an inventory of all of the infrastructure including the fiber optic cables, T-1 lines, internet services, etc., and studying the taxes and assessments to see how they relate to surrounding communities.

Chairman Cassis stated some of those points are procedure and policy points that can be either activated or not activated by Mr. Helwig or the administration. Member Capello has asked for tax base alternatives and a two or three of those are included under that heading. He said there were suggestions that they would like to have Council input on such items as, Grand River west of Novi Road and height elevations, office use, and facades, etc.

Mayor Landry commended Ms. McBethís department and Mr. Spencer in particular for compiling all this information. It was an excellent report.

Mayor Pro Tem Capello stated he was glad they went beyond the tax base alternatives. We need to figure out how to increase the tax base and bring more tax base into the City. He thought the way to do that was to find out what is going on in the development community, what are we missing. When perspective tenants or users are looking for space, why are they going to Farmington Hills instead of Novi. He said there are a lot of other issues that Novi does not offer to perspective users that the other surrounding communities do. So, we need to expand upon that. We need to do something not only to amend the ordinance for our tax base to become user friendly, but also put a program in place to go out there and look for these people instead of waiting for the builders and developers to do that. We need to take that initiative on our own. We need to work on the Plan Review process and the building permit process to get done in a more expedited, easier manner. He said possibly, we arenít funding the building department properly to do the job. We need to help them out; maybe with money or having the applicants pay for consultants to come in, but we need to get them a little help.

Commissioner Kocan said they did have meetings with developers, and the problem that she had was that there were no specific requests from the developers. She said they asked the developers over and over again if there was anything they had not been able to build in the City because of the height ordinance or the number of stories. There was never a response to that. She said determinations are needed regarding what it is they are looking for, and what do we have to do to find that out. Commissioner Kocan said they had talked about the Gateway West and whether they should be looking at a new type of area from Novi Road and Grand River west towards Rock Financial, and could that be an area to be explored for a potentially higher building. She said they had a speaker from Oakland County talking about the emerging sectors. So, Oakland County is on top of the ten emerging businesses within Oakland County, and is working on trying to get those businesses into the City of Novi. It was discussed at the meeting, and Mr. Pearson mentioned that you go out and look for developers to bring in. Are there industries that are not in our ordinances that we need to look at for ordinances that have to do with bio-technology, etc. Commissioner Kocan said they didnít hear specifically what canít be done in the City, but there were generalities that yes, weíd like higher buildings. Even in the OST District where three or four stories are allowed, the buildings are only two stories. Again, the Planning Commission needs to know where to expend their energies to write ordinances that are feasible, consistent, and that can be implemented. We donít want to tie anyoneís hands, but we want to be able to allow for potential. We just havenít gotten specific feedback yet.

Member Margolis noted that the thing that struck her was that there was nothing in the Council goals that related to economic development directly and in a broad sense. Member Margolisí view of goal setting was to set a specific goal around economic development, and then set some specific measurable objectives to reach that goal. We need to attract development to our City because there is not going to be much going on in Michigan for the next few years. There were a lot of consistencies in what people were saying. A lot around the process and that businesses are fast moving, and Novi needs to keep up. We need to look at the communities who are doing this better than we are and see what their benchmarks are, and how they are doing it, whatís the process. She said Novi has been the hot place to build for a long time, and she thought that a really strong discussion was needed regarding how to balance keeping the character we have, but letting people have some freedom around doing the things they need to do. We need to coordinate better with Oakland County on those emerging sectors, and target specific industries with some real incentives to come into our community. It is incumbent on us, as a Council, to set that goal because everyone is going to take their lead from what we set as important for this community.

Commissioner Wrobel agreed with what everyone said. We want people to come to Novi rather than bypassing us. We donít want to give away the shop, but we want to have a win-win situation. It should be easy for them to come and deal with us. But we want to get what we need to have a good steady tax base. We have to amend our procedures to get that. He felt there were a lot of smart people in the administration, and felt that it was something that could be done. It needs to be done soon because once people start going beyond us, there is no reason to stop here.

Member Paul said Wixom developed their OST a lot faster than Novi, and they started after us. She often hears comments like "why would we want to cross the street to Novi when the tax base is higher and we will pay more, it takes longer to get through the process, and there are a lot of difficulties". They say time is money. She said those comments are pretty strong in the development community. Member Paul said when these comments are heard consistently from developers, we need to heed what they are saying. She said they put a plan before our Plan Review Center or Building Department and submit the first set of plans. They will have something they have to submit and fix according to what they were requesting. Then they file those new areas of concerns, and what comes back is some of the first parts of their plan that are a re-review of the initial submission, instead of the new things that were submitted. She said that seems to be a consistent complaint, and she didnít know how to address that. Member Paul said they had to look at keeping the character, and she didnít want four or five stories. When looking at the OST, two stories are pretty consistent or a one story building thatís higher. She didnít want to go to four or five story buildings on a consistent basis. Member Paul said Southfield has a lot of vacant high story office buildings. She suggested addressing the timely manner that they get on the various agendas. This needs to be discussed as a Council so that we donít keep missing the people going westward.

Commissioner Pehrson stated this is a government, but we have to face the fact that we are in a consumers market. We are serving consumers that want to come into our City, this is our business, and we have to act more like a business, and focus on the ideas that are generated from a strategic point of view so that we can find the path to implement those. Weíve begun to understand what it takes to draw businesses here, and should use the data that Oakland County submitted to us during that consensus meeting with the developers to go out and find some of those emerging businesses that will become a part of the tax base of Novi. We have to look at it from the standpoint of how to attract those people, and what processes will we put in place to make it easy. It is all a part of becoming a part of that supplier and consumer based economic City that we are going to have to become. Heíd look for us to step away from how does the government work, and get more in tune to how their business works.

Member Gatt agreed that they do have to be a business. He thought that as a business they had to be flexible even with their own rules. Sometimes when the City Council violates their own rules it sometimes sends shock waves down to the Planning Commission, but that is what we have to do. He agreed that they had to be consistent, but felt they also had to be flexible. When something comes before Council that is extraordinary, the Council should be perched to act and react, and get it done. This is a shaky economy, and it is probably going to get worse. We have to work together to do what is best for this community, and for these times.

Commissioner Gutman stated Commissioner Kocanís statement stuck with him, and that was that the developers were at the table with them back in July. They didnít have a lot that they wanted to change. One of the things he noticed was that many of the developers have learned how to navigate through the process in Novi. He agreed that they should reach out to the community that hasnít done business here. We want to maintain the people who have been a large part of the success of Novi, but he thought it was important to reach outside of our core community and expand that. We need to find out what developers who arenít doing business here, but are successful elsewhere, want or need.

Member Nagy agreed with Member Paul that the biggest complaint the developers had was the Plan Review process, and that it had to be improved. She said one developer had a chart comparing our City to other cities with regard to certain departments. She agreed with the developer that the Plan Review process had to improve, and the inspection time and charges have to improve. Also, the faÁade materials are ever changing, and she thought that had to be addressed by updating our ordinances to allow new products. She cited the area on 12 Mile west of Novi Road was changed to OST and felt it would be a great place for taller buildings, and is off the expressway. Member Nagy said one of the best comments made by one of the members was Council goal setting had nothing to do with economics. There was no economic plan and unless Council focused the goal setting on that, she felt it wouldnít work. We can all improve some of our ways. She would like to see more R & D, because housing wonít pay for it. The biggest complaints she receives regard the review process, the inspection process, and the charges of some of those processes.

3. Planning Commission Topics

Chairman Cassis stated that as requirements change, we need to research them to meet the demand and obligations. Regarding height, he believed that height comes in when engineering tells the developer the air conditioning has to go up on the ceiling. This is where variation in height comes in. We have freeways and big avenues where we can extend the height, and bring the tax base higher. He thought it should be approached with a focus on economics. He encouraged reality in making the image, the atmosphere, and standards correct. if we bring it up to date we wonít have to go out there to try to attract them. He said, just like the State, unless this State is in the shape it should be in, it will not be able to compete with other states and attract business.

Mayor Landry agreed with Chairman Cassis. He said he has never understood the height issue. The City has to be competitive and it is an asset that we are adjacent to the freeway, and is something we should build on. He was not bothered by height and a matter of inches, if you didnít tell someone, they would never know. There are areas we could use to develop with the additional height. We should be thinking outside the box. With regard to engineering, there was an instance where they wanted a higher first floor for retail, which would bump up the residential two stories, and Chairman Cassisí point is well taken.

Member Nagy stated economics is about the big picture, which isnít going to be done immediately. We have a lot that is affecting the State, which is affecting Novi. We are still going to have the Headlee Amendment and the State Revenue Sharing so we have to constantly look to the future and how we plan. She thought there should have been more economic planning a long time ago, and that more economic planning in the Councilís goal setting would be complimentary to planning for the future. She didnít think anyone would want to put up a really tall building in Novi because those buildings were more of a 1970ís focus. She said three to six stories didnít bother her and she felt that freeways were a great location for those. She would like Council to focus on the economics and that will dictate how we do the other processes, materials and facades.

Commissioner Wrobel stated there seems to be a consensus of what we want Novi to be in the future. The question is how we get there. We have heard a lot of ideas but how do we get the ball going and get something done instead of just having rhetoric. What do we do?

Member Gatt agreed with Commissioner Wrobel and thought that the place to start is to look at the ordinances, because they are prohibiting us from moving forward. They cause perplexity between the Council and the Planning Commission when Council agrees to allow something ten inches higher than what the ordinance says. Some of these ordinances were developed in the 1970ís, and we have to move on to 2006 so we can change, move and grow. He hoped the ordinances would be looked at sooner rather than later.

Chairman Cassis stated there are five or six variances in almost every packet because of this problem. He asked how that could be reduced or alleviated. Some of these developments have five or six variances because of our standards. He said gated communities come before them and it seems to be a trend whether we like it or not. Someone came in and wanted a five car garage. We are facing many differences in taste and in engineering. Chairman Cassis said we have struggled to define the community and develop in a specific way for the Town Center, Main Street or a downtown. Do we want to be a Royal Oak, Ferndale or a rural City?

Commissioner Meyer asked "where is the vision". We really need to have a vision of where we want to have this City go in five or ten years. Then as Member Margolis said set the goals and objectives in such a way that the economic growth is one that is realistic. The vacancies are not only in Southfield. If you drive into Novi there is a big empty building as you enter the Town Center. Further down the road there is another big empty building at the corner of Grand River and Novi Road. He said we not only have to worry about marketing and being business friendly for planners who want to develop in this City, He thought exit interviews for businesses would be helpful to understand why they are leaving the City. The planning department has done a wonderful job coming up with a pre-process planners can go through before getting into the planning and permitting process. On May 11th at a meeting, one gentleman said the planning and permitting process is redundant. Letís get rid of the redundancies. Also, letís review those ordinances and get to a point where we are literally working within the ordinances rather than variances on every site plan.

Mayor Landry asked Mr. Helwig to share with them some of his wisdom about vision, struggles with identity, and changing identities because he thought he had seen it all.

Mr. Helwig stated this is a wonderful discussion and a new era, and a lot of baggage is over. He said now they can focus on something as basic as economic and neighborhood vitality. What feeds into those? Those are the two umbrella things and then anything else you can do to attract jobs and people. If you know anything about urban America we use up cities and throw them away. He said donít take an ounce of success in Novi for granted, and he senses that some of that arrogance is gone from Novi. He said they will have to seize and create opportunities on a daily basis, and be on our toes trying to make that happen. It is a whole mind shift of attitude that will be welcomed by anyone here or looking to come here.

Mr. Helwig said tax abatement is not the answer. He has been there and done that in the #2 GM City in America, and it didnít save the jobs long term. He is hearing more business people say, letís quit talking ourselves into this funk. This community is already known for outstanding public and private education. Mr. Helwig said without a good school system your neighborhood vitality and economic development in the tank. A new hospital is happening now and feeds into the vision, and they should embrace the daylights out of that. He said five years ago there was only one water main crossing I-96. Ninety percent of our water comes from Port Huron down Fourteen Mile Road, and there was only one way to get it south of I-96. Regarding highway infrastructure, get it done when you can. Where would we have been if the voters hadnít approved the road bond? Where would we have been without $90 million for road improvements?

He commented that he still sensed that if Novi Road had been upgraded by now, which is the one thing not done yet; the link, overpass, etc, we might have had a better chance with Comau Pico, because the CEO went out of his way to mention that. Thereís no such thing as a generic developer; they are all case by case. People will still be coming from the west so we still need the Wixom Road interchange. We worked on these things in terms of infrastructure, and we need to work with our neighbors. Mr. Helwig said what is happening in Wixom right now is awful, it will affect the whole region, and we need to reach out and help our neighbors, and that includes Detroit. He said there has to be some bridge building.

Mr. Helwig said this has been a wonderful conversation and heís delighted to see them focusing on it. It is a new era; forget where weíve been and focus on building partnerships. If there is an opportunity to partner with the schools jump on it, because without them, we are dead.

Mayor Landry thought this was a wonderful experience and thought it should be taken to the next step as the Planning Commission suggested. If the Planning Commission would like to invite Council to a Saturday work session he was sure Council would take them up on it.

Chairman Cassis agreed there will be a Saturday work session between Council and the Planning commission. He thought they had grown closer as individuals because of the common goal for a better Novi. These ideas should be explored further.

Audience Participation

Bryn Hartshorne, 46450 11 Mile Road, stated he applied for a sidewalk variance a month ago. He waited to be notified of when it would be on the agenda, and he was not notified. He said it was voted on two weeks ago and denied. He was requesting an opportunity to speak to this issue.

Mr. Helwig said this was denied at the last meeting. Mayor Landry asked if there was notice by the administration. Mr. Helwig said he trusted the gentleman that if he said he was not notified, then he would certainly apologize. Mr. Hartshorne said he was told that they donít have enough staff to notify him which agenda it would be on, yet they had enough staff to send him a letter when it was denied. He said he was looking for an opportunity to resurrect this because he felt he had a lot of good issues.

Mayor Landry suggested to Mr. Helwig that Mr. Hartshorne be asked to put his comments in writing, submit it to the administration and Council could talk about it as reconsideration. Mr. Helwig said they would be happy to do that if Mr. Harshorne felt he had comments that Council was not privy to when the decision was made.

Mayor Landry explained to Mr. Hartshorne that Council does not usually do give and take at Audience Participation, but lack of notice concerns this Council all the time. We are always concerned with due process. Mayor Landry advised Mr. Hartshorne that if he would like a reconsideration, put it in writing and submit it to Clay Pearson, Assistant City Manager and Council would consider it to hear him at another Council meeting.

He is to address Mr. Pearson on that issue with his comments.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Council or the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 8:00 P.M.

 

________________________________ ________________________________

David Landry, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk

 

________________________________ Date approved: February 6, 2006

Transcribed by Charlene Mc Lean