REGULAR MEETING OF THE NOVI PLANNING COMMISSION
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 1995 - 7:30 P.M.
COUNCIL CHAMBER - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
The meeting was called to order 7:35 P.M. by Chairman Clark.
ROLL CALL: Bonaventura (Present), Capello (Present), Clark (Present), Hoadley (Present), Hodges (Present), Lorenzo (Present), Mutch (Present), Taub (Present), Weddington (Present)
(9) Present (0) Absent
A quorum being present, the meeting was in session.
ALSO PRESENT: Brandon Rogers - Planning Consultant
Dave Bluhm - Engineering Consultant
Dennis Watson - Assistant City Attorney
Rod Arroyo - Traffic Consultant
James R. Wahl - Director of Planning
Greg Capote - Staff Planner
Steve Cohen - Planning Clerk
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The Planning Commission pledged Allegiance to the Flag.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Lorenzo said the only matter she would like to add in terms of procedure was that they adhere to their By-Laws as to the times of presentations from the Petitioners and the Public - three minutes and ten minutes respectively.
Member Capello said he would like to move Vic's Quality Fruit Market from Item #3 under Matters for Consideration up to the Consent Agenda. Chairman Clark said he would move that item up under the Consent Agenda as Item #1.
It was then,
Moved by Member Lorenzo
Seconded by Member Taub
To approve the Agenda as amended.
(voice vote) Motion Carried Unanimously
Mr. Jeffrey Bodell was present and said he would like to speak about Aspen Woods and he could speak now but he said he would prefer to wait until Aspen Woods was discussed.
Chairman Clark said since it was a Matter for Consideration, it would not be open for public discussion at that point since it was not a Public Hearing, so he would propose that Mr. Bodell make his comments to the Commission at this time.
Mr. Bodell then indicated he lived on Sierra Drive on the west side of the Aspen Woods project. He said they did have a short meeting on Monday evening, with one of the developers regarding this matter. He said they were aware it was removed from yesterday's Zoning Board Agenda.
Mr. Bodell said he was there to speak on behalf of some of the residents that live in what he would call the northeast portion of their subdivision or on the border of the northwest corner of Aspen Woods.
Mr. Bodell said in the northwest corner adjacent to some of the homes that back up there, there was proposed a moving of some wetlands, in other words, they were going to put some additional wetlands in that area and it was wet now. He said he has only lived here a short time, but he has received some history from the people in the immediate vicinity.
Mr. Bodell said a couple of years ago, someone went in and took some trees down on a Sunday, and at that time they started experiencing more water immediately adjacent to their homes and there was a vacant lot in their subdivision where basically the back half was under water and it was adjacent to those homes and their subdivision was on well and septic.
Mr. Bodell said he just left their backyard and his shoes were still muddy and there was a very high water table and he knows they intend on taking what he would call the wetland area down a little bit and they were going to dig some out. He said he was very concerned for those residents that it would not be sufficient in order to keep their septics in decent operating order.
Mr. Bodell said he was on a hill and his back yard was adjacent to one of those areas and it was very damp and mushy especially in the spring and he believed that any additional ground water being stored or kept in this area was only going to make the matter worse for those residents in that immediate area.
Mr. Bodell said it was very wet and he knows the engineers have looked at it, but he felt those grades were very very close and there were people already experiencing flooding basements on occasion because of ground water and this was going to change the amount of water in the immediate vicinity. He said he didn't think they needed any more ground water if there was a way to edge drains or if a certain method could be used.
Mr. Bodell said they were not against the development per se but he did feel they were trying to put a size 10 foot in a size 8 shoe. He said the key was that there were four immediate residents that have been there and their houses have been there a long time on well and septic and there was a lot of water and there was a definite problem there.
Mr. Bodell believed one of the residents dropped a letter off to the planning office this week. He said since he was new and he didn't know the procedure, but he was there in December and right before Christmas there was a hearing and he thought there would be a re-notification before they actually acted on the matter, but that didn't happen and he had missed it.
Mr. Bodell concluded that there were some concerned residents on their street immediately adjacent and he felt it would be a bad problem for them.
Member Hoadley asked Mr. Bodell to show him on the map exactly the area he was talking about. Mr. Bodell showed him and pointed out where the vacant lot was and indicated right now there was water in that vacant lot and he also pointed out the area right within 10 feet of those people's back fence. He indicated he had just walked that area a half hour ago and it was just as mushy as a person could imagine. He also added there was a standing pond there right now.
Member Taub said there was a letter received from Clayton Tierney and Shannon Tierney of 25916 Sierra Drive, which stated:
I feel it is necessary to express my grave concern regarding the proposed variance for the Aspen Woods Cluster development. The proposed plans pose a serious threat to the adjacent homeowners. The variance will further disturb the delicate natural function of the involved wetlands and put the homeowners at risk for major property damage.
One need only speak to the homeowners already affected by the type of displaced water that this variance will create to understand our concerns. In order for the developer to realize his plans, there is a significant chance the displaced water will damage existing septic and drainage systems. If our overview of the current plans is accurate, the new mitigating wetlands are level with, or higher, than some of the existing established properties.
We do not begrudge the developer his project. We applaud the efforts he has shown in this regard. However, we did not force him to invest in this development and see no reason why we would have our properties endangered to insure his ventures. With whom does the liability rest if our properties sustain damage due to this project?
I hope our concerns will receive the attention of this Commission as they deserve.
1. Vic's Quality Fruit Market\Main Street - Property Located on the south side of Grand River Avenue between Novi Road and Meadowbrook Road for Possible Town Center Lighting Standard Waiver.
Member Bonaventura pulled this item. Chairman Clark said that item would go back as Item #3 under Matters for Consideration.
1. Map Amendment No. 18.534 - Property Located south of Grand River Avenue, between Meadowbrook Road and Novi Road for possible recommendation to City Council to rezone from RM-1 Low-Density, Multiple-Family Residential District to B-3 General Business District and P-1 Vehicular Parking District or any other appropriate zoning district.
Mr. Stanley Tkacz of AIT Design Group, representing the Marty Feldman organization, was present. He said the program presented that evening was a request to rezone 4.5 acres to the south of the present location of Marty Feldman Chevrolet. He stated the facility has existed for 14 years at this site with the front 5 acres being zoned as B-3. He said in pre-requisite meetings with Mr. Rogers, it was concluded that it would be advantageous in seeking this rezoning to rezone a short portion directly behind Mr. Feldman's property to a B-3 and the remaining of the property into a PC-1.
Mr. Tkacz indicated documents were prepared and a second meeting was completed and they were reviewed and then an application filled out and submitted along with the appropriate fees. He said during the review by both the Staff at Novi and Mr. Rogers, it was concluded that their use under the PC zoning would not meet the standards as laid out in the Novi Ordinance.
Mr. Tkacz said thus a document and a letter was written by Mr. Rogers recommending that the total property, 4.5 acres that were remaining be zoned to B-3, with some as it was now known as contract condition zoning. He said based on that, he was notified of a letter and on Friday he obtained a copy of that letter in the mail. He indicated he has done some studying and he felt there were some drawbacks and he needed some clarification of a misinterpretation that he felt was in the documents.
Mr. Tkacz said Item #1 was when they went for the B-3, it was illustrated in their presentation documents that they were not seeking to build on all of the property but just a portion thereof and that was why they did not ask for all of the B-3 and it was an attempt to add a section to the south of existing facility for vehicle repair as well as parts and material storage.
Mr. Tkacz said at present, there was a 30 foot driveway to the south between the existing structure and the present B-3 zoning line. He said they had asked for an additional 78 feet under the original request, allowing for building expansion, 20 foot setback from a B-3 and so on.
Mr. Tkacz said Mr. Rogers' Item #3 states that under the contract zoning, he requests that no portion of any building expansion be granted beyond or with this rezoning into the remaining 4.5 acres.
Mr. Tkacz said at this point, that condemns the project considerably and that addition could not be warranted, but they did not seek the full 80 feet to build on and they only wanted 43 feet and that was the way the program exists today. He said if the line was to be moved, all they were asking for was an additional 43 feet. He said the rest of the area could be granted as the parking and so on.
Mr. Tkacz said the other item that was a bit discouraging was Item #2 of Mr. Rogers stating that the request for a berm be installed along the south as well as the west property. He said from a planning point of view, he had no problem with a berm and they as a society could not stand to see a vehicle that rests and he has to hide it and secure it and do all the other things.
Mr. Tkacz said but a berm being tapered up and down does not provide the security that an automobile dealership warrants for malicious damage, vandalism, theft, etc., so in the documents that were presented, they did show a screen wall and if a berm was required, they would still end up putting in the screen wall, but they would be defeating the purpose here by doing both.
Mr. Tkacz said on the documents that were presented, he did show a 20 foot setback, the landscaping, the screen walls, the decor, etc. He said with the berm that has been requested, they would lose 163 parking spaces, 25% of the land, and still have no security to the south or west.
Mr. Tkacz said in reviewing the documents yesterday and returning to the site of concern of the residential structures to the south and to the west, they got a tape measure out and visually and accurately measured from building to building to know that they at present exist at 354 feet from building to building and by giving them the 43 foot grant, they would still exist basically 350 feet from building to building.
Mr. Tkacz said that was why they were before them that evening and what they were seeking was for a business growth and adjustment.
Mr. Tkacz said in the documents that they all have, he has tried to illustrate in color the program they were seeking.
Mr. Rogers indicated his report was dated April 24, 1995 and he wanted to recognize that Marty Feldman has been a good businessman in the City for as long as he has worked with the City.
Mr. Rogers said it was always known that the rear half of the property was RM-1 zoning and today, there was a 4-5 foot concrete block wall that splits that property from the present frontage where the dealership was located in the B-3 District.
Mr. Rogers indicated the plan on the wall he also has in front of him and that was given to him by the architect a few weeks ago so he knows the distances and where the buildings would be. He said this was not a site plan issue that night so much as a land use issue and zoning issue and were the zoning to be changed in one fashion or another in their recommendation to City Council, then a site plan would likely come in, which if the architect has his way, would very likely be this plan.
Mr. Rogers said he has been advised that this was a plan for a second dealership on the property connected to Marty Feldman and the second dealership would be located where new cars were stored and prepped, etc., and that was intended to go in the back end of the property, so it would be a moving function on the site.
Mr. Rogers said in reading the maps and the petition, it would seem to him that the purpose was to expand the body shop and parts department, provide for new vehicle parking and storage and from the petition for, "business growth and adjustment."
Mr. Rogers said regarding the property, they know the dealership was now on the frontage on about 4-5 acres and zoned B-3. He indicated the back portion has no frontage on any street and it backs up to a drive on Fountain West Apartments I and it abuts on the east a boulevarded entrance of 100 foot width that was owned by Fountain Park and served Fountain Park West I, so that property was the only access to it.
Mr. Rogers indicated the property to the east, including this boulevarded entrance, which he referred to leading into Fountain Park West I, was zoned NCC, non-center commercial, as was all the property all the way down to Meadowbrook Road in varying depths of 600-650 feet.
Mr. Rogers said on that property as they know, there were some small offices and they have some residences and then there was the O'Brien Funeral Home Chapel down near Meadowbrook. He said property immediately to the south and abutting, was the site of the Fountain Park West I development and they have a loop road and they could see it on the small map that serves the project.
Mr. Rogers said the property to the west was partly vacant and there was a piece behind Belle Tire which was zoned RM-1 and also was used by Fountain Park West II apartment complex which goes all the way westerly to butt up to the Main Street Village project that was pending in the TC-1 District.
Mr. Rogers said the subject site was proposed for multiple family residential on the Master Plan as was property to the south and west. He indicated property to the north and to the east was recommended, which includes the dealership, for non-center
commercial future land use and in some cases existing land use.
Mr. Rogers said now in reviewing the petition and after a conference with the petitioner's architect, Mr. Tkacz, who just spoke, he concluded rezoning part of the subject site as has been petitioned and noticed, that southern 174 feet more or less of the property, the P-1 District, would be improper as it would not allow parking of passenger vehicles longer than 24 hours.
Mr. Rogers said he has been advised that they fully intend to park some cars in that area, possibly new cars, licensed and unlicensed cars, and it would be storage for more than 24 hours, so he attached to his report a copy of the P-1 District which has been in the Zoning Ordinance since 1984 and possibly earlier, but it has not been used to date in the City.
Mr. Rogers said it was really intended for parking lots in back of business frontage for customer employee parking, short term parking and they could read the Statement of Intent of the P-1 District. He said he was sure that all of them were familiar with that district but they haven't used it, so they should review it.
Mr. Rogers continued that if the property was zoned B-3 District, as was the frontage or the top half of the Marty Feldman property and including both the 80 foot depth that has been petitioned for and the 174 feet which has been petitioned for the P-1 District, there could be development of commercial buildings on the site over and above what they see in this plan.
Mr. Rogers said there could be the expansion of the present dealership or a second associated dealership which he believed was intended, which could be in close proximity to residential uses existing and the apartment projects, Fountain Park West I and II.
Mr. Rogers said the advantage of the P-1 District struck a cord when they first discussed it and no commercial structures would be permitted where it was zoned P-1, in other words, the southerly 174 feet.
Mr. Rogers said he did not feel that the B-1 District itself provides the adequate setbacks and buffering. He said of course they could never achieve a 20 foot rear yard building setback because the Ordinance states a screening berm which was the first option that the Planning Commission has. He said then if the Commission agrees upon findings, to a 6 foot wall instead of a 6 foot landscaped berm, that might be permitted. He said it also requires only 15 foot side yards, for example, adjacent to the west to Fountain Park West II.
Mr. Rogers said he recommended the rezoning subject to what he felt were reasonable conditions. He then discussed those conditions. He said his first condition was that the area to be used only for the parking or storage of new passenger vehicles including rental cars, and that no car hauler delivery operations shall occur on the presently zoned RM-1 property. He said on the site plan that was submitted, some of that car hauling unloading was proposed in the RM-1 District.
Mr. Rogers stated his second condition was that a 6 - 8 foot well designed berm with landscaping thereon be placed along the south and west sides of the site and that the berm design and landscaping shall comply with standards that they have established in the I-1 District where they recall the attempt was to provide adequate opaque screening. He said he didn't call out all those standards in the I-1 District, but it was in Section 1905.
Mr. Rogers said for ten years this idea of rezoning the back property has come up and, in fact, it came up before Council on June 15, 1985 and on a split vote, it was not rezoned to B-3 at the time when all the NCC zoning went into play. He said he has always felt that in screening residential, he preferred a berm with landscaping because if they have landscaping on top of a 6 or an 8 foot berm, that landscaping would grow higher than a wall of 6 feet which would stay at 6 feet.
Mr. Rogers indicated also he had no objection to a wall or a cyclone fence for security reasons or whatever security they need to protect the cars, which he felt was necessary and that could be placed on top of the berm or in back of the berm. He said there were many alternatives in designing a security fence.
Mr. Rogers indicated his third condition was that no structural addition to the existing dealership or any new building would extend into the subject property. He said they do intrude this body shop and he called out 40 feet into the RM-1 District and the dividing line between the existing B-3 and the existing RM-1 was about plus or minus 30 feet behind the main dealership building today. He said this body shop was about 70 feet, 40 feet of which would be into the RM-1. He added the body shop addition couldn't be placed elsewhere on the B-3 property.
Mr. Rogers said his fourth condition was that no dumpsters or trash storage areas be permitted on the subject property. He said he noticed on their plan that the trash bin area was on the RM-1 zoned property. He would that could easily be put on the B-3 property.
Mr. Rogers then concluded that he felt those conditions would serve the best interest of the public safety and welfare and convenience of the community and provide protection to nearby existing residential uses while still allowing applicant use of the property, which the predominant use was for new car storage and parking.
Chairman Clark asked Mr. Watson if he had any comments relative to the question asked of him with reference to this particular proposed change and Mr. Watson said no that the Commission has his letter in the file and it was actually written regarding a question posed on the previous application and he felt it was there for their consideration.
Mr. Watson said he had nothing else to add other than to just indicate that there was reference to this as being contract zoning, and it was not what was referred to as contract zoning and it was what was referred to as conditional zoning, which was a bit different.
Mr. Robert Brody of 2222 Franklin Road, Bloomfield Hills, was present. He indicated he was the owner of Fountain Park Apartments. He said he has read with great interest Mr. Rogers' report and he was in full accord with it.
Mr. Brody said he was interested in seeing the property developed with proper protection. He said he was very much concerned that the protection that would be in place would maintain the value of his property, and would be conducive in appearance to what they already have. He said they have an open field there which was much more desirable than a fence and he would prefer a berm.
Mr. Brody said he would request that consideration be given to what does go in there and that proper maintenance be observed. He said for example if a berm goes in, it was going to be landscaped according to the specifications as set forth in the Ordinance. He said that berm he assumed would be sodded and if it was sodded, it would have to have a sprinkler system installed to maintain the proper appearance in conjunction to what he has with Fountain Park Apartments.
Mr. Brody said it would have to be maintained and the grass has to be cut approximately 26 times a year and this was all at the expense of Mr. Feldman. He said he would also request that the fence on the east line be continued with the same type of fence that was installed now and with the finished side of that fence facing out. He said there were two sides to a fence, and it has a finished side and a backer board and he did not want the backer board facing out and he wanted it facing in to Mr. Feldman's property. He said he would like the fence to continue with the same appearance that they have.
Mr. Brody said he installed that fence that was there now, and he installed a guardrail along side of that fence to protect the fence from accidentally being bumped by any cars, etc., and they have had occasion during snow removal, when they do pile the snow up, which has forced the fence to move off its post and they have gone back and repaired it.
Mr. Brody said in the event that something like this occurs, he felt that should be Mr. Feldman's obligation to maintain that fence and not his.
Mr. Brody said the question arises as to the west side of the property and Mr. Rogers was recommending that a berm be placed there, either a 6 foot berm or an 8 foot berm, to protect his property. He said if so, he didn't want to see that berm be 8 foot and it has to taper down onto the property. He said it would have to be 8 foot high up to his property line and then taper down.
Mr. Brody said he has given much thought to Mr. Feldman's request and he felt he was entitled to the use of his property as long as he has proper protection. He said he has a number of residents and older residents, who have been there anywhere from one year to eight years who have approached their Manager and have voiced their concerns. He said he would like to have his Manager in a moment tell them all what they have heard from the residents.
Mr. Brody indicated his primary concern was to service his residents, and he was in the service business and he has to take care of them and he wanted to keep them there and didn't want them to move. He said he has to listen to their concerns and take care of them.
Ms. Barbara Keintz, Manager of Fountain Park, was present and she indicated she was not in opposition of what Mr. Feldman wants. She said she did want to express a few concerns of her residents. She said one concern was they don't have any crime in Fountain Park and they have been very fortunate and there were occasions at the used car dealerships where they do have some breaking and entering, so the residents were concerned that moving closer to Fountain Park might bring that in. She said if they have a security fence, that would probably eliminate that problem.
Ms. Keintz indicated there were two other concerns that the residents have. She said one was if that property was lit up further back with a lot of lighting, could that lighting be deterred so it might shine away, otherwise it would go into everyone's bedroom windows, which during the night, they would not be too thrilled about.
Ms. Keintz said the other concern was regarding the public address system that they have where they page car salesman and which could be heard faintly now. She said if they move back further and they have that address system, it could be very disturbing to the residents. She said probably one thing that could remedy that would be beepers and possibly their salesmen could have those instead of having to use that paging system.
Ms. Keintz said basically they were concerned that they would not be looking out at a whole lot of cars and dealing with a lot of noise and it was very important to them because the residents were paying a good amount of money to live there, so they want to live in peace and enjoy it and some people have made the remark that they were not taxpayers, but they were because they pay their taxes in their rents so their needs should be considered to make them all happy.
There was no further Audience Participation and Chairman Clark closed the Public Hearing.
Member Taub asked Mr. Rogers to comment on their current Master Plan versus this proposed rezoning.
Mr. Rogers said if this zoning were to take place, he would recommend an amendment to the Master Plan of Land Use to change the recommendation from multiple family to non-center commercial. He said he didn't mention earlier that there was a service road within Fountain Park that butts up to the south end of the subject property and it occurred to him and he talked to Mr. Brody a number of years ago, to buy that property, but that decision was never consummated.
Mr. Rogers said it did have utility to one party, Mr. Brody, and Mr. Brody abuts about 75% to 80% of the subject property there and actually he abuts almost 95% of that property that was up for rezoning that night. He said he assumed Mr. Brody was not interested in it and the matter was dropped.
Mr. Rogers said he would recommend such a change in the Master Plan and that would be done by the Planning Commission after the zoning decision has been resolved by Council.
Member Taub asked Mr. Rogers if he felt this opens the door to other situations that present themselves to the Commission, whereby individuals seek rezonings and often the Commission retorts that their Master Plan has to be consistent, etc.
Mr. Rogers said it should be and it should be the foundation to most zoning actions. He indicated this was a unique piece of property and it was a landlocked piece of property and has been owned by the applicant probably since the dealership was first built and he took that into consideration.
Mr. Rogers said in fact it was his recommendation back in 1985 that this property go to B-3, including the property behind Belle Tire but that didn't happen, but the same depth of property went to NCC to the east all the way down to Meadowbrook. He said if they look at the maps, they would see how this B-3 has been notched out.
Mr. Rogers said he didn't call this spot zoning and he called it more uniform zoning and he felt in this particular scenario since there was obviously divided opinions here and conditional zoning issues, that it would be best to resolve the zoning question before they amend the Master Plan and he was comfortable with that position.
Member Taub said it was fair to say that it was not reasonable to foresee any possible realistic uses of multiple family residential for this particular piece, and Mr. Rogers said the property to his knowledge was not for sale by Mr. Feldman and on top of that, he had the impression that Mr. Brody was not interested in buying it. He said if either one of them wanted to correct his understanding, now would be the time to do it.
Member Taub said so in Mr. Rogers' opinion practically speaking, Mr. Brody of Fountain Park would be the only one with any interest in using it as it exists now zoning-wise, and Mr. Rogers said yes, and they abut on all three sides and they have an internal road system and a good occupancy rate and they apparently have no interest in expanding it.
Member Taub asked Mr. Watson based on his legal report, it appears in Michigan that it was likely that a conditional rezoning, such as Mr. Rogers has outlined here, would probably be legally acceptable.
Mr. Watson said yes, there was one Michigan case from the Michigan Supreme Court that upheld such a conditional rezoning. He said in fact the condition imposed on that particular case was something similar to this and it was for a greenbelt area on the property.
Member Taub then indicated he had a few concerns. He said one concern was that they often point to the Master Plan as something to be adhered to and there was a certain expectancy on the part of the community and the development community that they essentially adhere to the Master Plan, which guarantees not only an orderly sensible development in Novi, but the fact that they were being fair.
Member Taub said but in this case, it appears realistically that the neighbor with the greatest concern, Fountain Park, doesn't seem to have a real problem with it, provided their tenants and property were protected and he felt that was a strong factor. He said they don't have, as they do in many situations, members of the community or the owners coming up and opposing and there were just certain concerns as Mr. Brody has outlined.
Member Taub said additionally, it does not appear that Fountain Park wishes to expand and take that over because he probably would have done so by now and it was probably not realistic that there would be multiple family residential on that particular parcel that seeks the rezoning.
Member Taub said in light of those factors and the conditions which seem to protect the adjoining landowner and his tenants, he would make a motion.
Moved by Member Taub
Seconded by Member Lorenzo
To send a positive recommendation to City Council for Map Amendment No. 18.534 pursuant to the Consultants' comments.
Member Capello asked Mr. Tkacz to lay out the addition that he wants to the existing dealership, was it absolutely necessary to expand 45 feet to the south.
Mr. Tkacz said the way the present facility was designed, that was the only way the body shop and parts could be expanded and there was no physical way to expand to the west due to the limitations of setback and because of the very steep grade. He said to the front, was all the water service and electrical service that was fed from Grand River, as well as the main water easement that comes in for fire hydrants.
Mr. Tkacz said thus, the only way was to go exactly 74 feet from wall to outside wall and he needs 43 feet to get the additional area in and that was their request, plus the additional space to meet the B-3. He said if there were conditions placed on this, they would like the line drawn right at that 43 feet and he didn't think 43 feet would be detrimental.
Member Capello asked how far was the existing facility off of the back property line now and how far was the existing facility away from the existing RM-1 zoning or where the RM-1 currently starts and Mr. Tkacz replied 30 feet.
Member Capello said if they brought the building out 45 feet and they were bringing the RM-1 back about 200 feet, there would be more distance from the building. Mr. Tkacz indicated they were only adding 43 feet to the B-3 or 43 feet from the RM-1.
Member Capello said Mr. Tkacz advised them that he didn't think the berm was feasible because he would lose too many parking spaces. He said given the height of the apartments in the back and the fact that they were moving closer to the apartments with night lighting that could affect the residents, did he have any other alternative to the berm that would still give some type of barrier between the apartments and the parking lot. He said he wasn't so concerned with the building but concerned with the parking lot.
Mr. Tkacz said he has done 503 dealerships, up and built in 9 states and 2 countries around the world and they were all different. He said he has had tremendous success by using a product called pre-cast, which was a textured wall and on top of that wall, he puts a fire and railing fence, which makes the wall 6 foot high. He said it was not advantageous at an automobile dealership to put a chain link fence or berm because of vandalism and crime.
Mr. Tkacz said for thieves who steal cars, a fence and a berm mean nothing and they would drive through them and over them. He said a typical example was at the Tamarack Group in Southfield where they had a 12 foot berm and in one night, someone took 14 cars through the fence and over the berm. He said on an average, they lose 6 cars a night.
Mr. Tkacz indicated it was the same for Mr. Penske who was right on Telegraph Road and someone went right through the chain link fence. He said it was the same old story and it was cheaper to gut a car and get more for parts than they would get for the whole car.
Mr. Tkacz said so when they steal the cars, they don't care about the body so in protecting a dealership, he was the first to admit that lighting, screening and landscaping was of the utmost importance at any automobile dealership because again, they have to hide the machine when it was in its stationary motion.
Mr. Tkacz said by using a screen wall, they have had good success with Southfield and good success with some other communities that were very strict in their screening. He said he would recommend to his client that there be no light poles that shine anywhere out and always shine in and there would be no light poles at the back of the property or within. He said he didn't have any problem with the berm going up the wall with a lot of landscaping, but he just didn't want to have a berm go up and go back down because someone could still go over it.
Member Capello said so Mr. Tkacz wouldn't mind putting the wall up and he would berm just Mr. Brody's side of the wall, and Mr. Tkacz said he didn't have any problems with that, but he has shown the 20 foot setback, and that was already in the plan and he has no problem with that nor does his client and it was just carrying it the additional 30 feet.
Member Capello asked Mr. Brody if he would have a problem if they give him 20 feet of landscaping before they put their wall up, so his property views the landscaping and then this architectural wrought iron wall.
Mr. Brody said frankly, they have had problems with walls and fences in projects and regardless if it was there, children or adults would climb over it. He said he had a problem in the sense that his residents have expressed concerns about crime and it was a question does a fence or a wall deter crime and as far as he was concerned, based upon what he has seen, the answer was no and if someone wants to go in, they were going to go in.
Mr. Brody said right now he has a problem in that the subdivision to the south of them, they have a road that dead-ends on their property and he built a wall and he put those Hawthorns in there which have large spikes on them to try and keep children out and they were unsuccessful and they still cut through regardless.
Mr. Brody said his primary concern was for his residents and to try and deter crime if possible and also a concern for the appearance. He said he didn't want a fence up to his property line on that south line. Member Capello said didn't the applicant indicate it was going to be back 20 feet.
Mr. Brody commented he didn't want a wood fence or this type of fence on his south property line as it would detract from what he has.
Member Capello said what the applicant was talking about doing was putting it 20 feet off of Mr. Brody's property line on their property line and the applicant would fully maintain it and in that 20 foot area, they would landscape it so that what he would see was landscaping and bushes and greenery.
Mr. Brody said he has 10 feet from his curb to his property line and Mr. Feldman could utilize that 10 feet in building their berm. He said in other words, they don't have to start their berm from the property line and they could start their berm from his curb.
Mr. Tkacz commented there would be dumpsters, manholes, and catch basins there and Mr. Brody said no there was only one thing going through there and that was the storm sewer that was coming from Mr. Feldman's parking lot. Mr. Brody said originally when he improved, there was an open drain running through there, but he believed it was closed and that was the only thing that was in there.
Mr. Tkacz said presently along the curb line that Mr. Brody was referring to, there were 24 deciduous trees and two 20 foot dumpster screened areas. He said putting the berm on the gentleman's property he would not recommend because they were still cutting it down and they would still end up with 30 feet of greenbelt and landscaping from the curb line. He said he could probably get another 5 feet out of that and he wouldn't have a problem doing that.
Mr. Tkacz said the other problem they have to look at in considering this, was that in order to build a berm 790 feet long along the south property line at a 6 foot height, they need approximately 6300 yards of dirt and that was 166 trucks delivering that dirt to build that berm.
Mr. Tkacz said of course, since there was no access from the apartment side, those trucks would come across Mr. Feldman's property into the field and then there would be the grading and the building of the dirt of the berm. He said if an 8 foot berm was requested, that was over 210 trains of trucks delivering the dirt to build that.
Member Capello said what if they cut the berm in half and Mr. Tkacz said Mr. Brody would get the berm and they would build it so he would be screened and that was workable for him and was already on the drawings.
Mr. Rogers then said he would like to give them some area measurements. He said a 6 foot berm with a 4 foot crown and 3-1 slope would take 40 feet width at the base. He said an 8 foot high berm 3-1 slope with a 4 foot crown would require 52 feet. He said it was an interesting concept to divide it in half, and if they did that and they had the berm come up, that would mean it might be inviting for someone to crawl up the berm, come up to the top of the wall and fall over.
Mr. Rogers indicated in fact, there was a requirement where if the drop-off was over 42 inches, they would have to put up a barrier free wall or a fence and that was in the Ordinance already.
Mr. Rogers said they would have on top of this 4 feet of pre-cast, which would be totally obscured on the Fountain Park side, 2 feet of wrought iron fencing so they would only end up with a 6 foot screen.
Mr. Rogers said what he was talking about was a 6-8 foot berm planted with 5 foot evergreens and they would end up with an 11-13 foot screening, which from second floor bedrooms, looking into hundreds of cars, he felt was needed. He didn't think the 4 foot wall and a wrought iron fence would really provide a screen there.
Member Capello said what he was contemplating was taking the fence he was proposing but making it a 6 foot fence and on the top of the 6 foot fence, put the wrought iron and then on the Fountain Park side of the 6 foot fence, have their berm. He said so on a 6 foot berm, if they have a 40 foot width, that would be perfect for the 20 foot setback for half the berm. He said so they would come 20 feet off, put a 6 foot concrete fence and then on top of that, put their wrought iron and then in the front of that, put all of their trees on the berm side.
Mr. Rogers said that might accommodate providing they have some security of this fence on top of the wall for children. He said he would be a little concerned about that, but he felt it could be engineered but he was talking about more than a 6 foot wall.
Mr. Tkacz said in their planning of landscaping, most of the elements they were selecting would be vertical landscaping. Mr. Rogers said this berm, whether it was half a berm or a whole berm, has to be sodded and has to be irrigated and has to be mowed and maintained and he thought he heard Mr. Brody say that would be Mr. Feldman's obligation.
Member Capello said with that, Mr. Feldman also has the option if he was going to bring a dealership in, to go to another community if they were not going to allow him to do it. He said Mr. Feldman has been in Novi for 14 years and he was going to expand and wants to stay in Novi, and Member Capello felt the City should work with him to expand his business.
Member Capello said Mr. Taub was correct when he said that he didn't believe that property to the south zoned RM-1 was ever going to be developed as RM-1.
Member Capello then stated he would ask Member Taub if he would make two amendments to his motion and he referred to Mr. Rogers' recommendations and conditions. He said the first amendment was rather than that area be used only for parking, that the area or the north 45 feet, be used as set forth in the B-3 zoning and the remaining 220 some feet to be used only for parking and then continue with Mr. Rogers' language.
Member Capello said what they were saying was to give the applicant the 45 feet on the north end of the rezoned property so he could add on to his dealership and the remainder of that property would be subject to Mr. Rogers' conditions.
Member Capello said his second amendment was to refer rather than to the 6-8 foot berm, refer to the 6 foot wall with the berm on the side of Fountain Park Apartments, with the landscaping on top of that with the protective wrought iron fence on top of the 6 foot wall for protective measures, all to be maintained by Mr. Feldman.
Member Capello felt that would accommodate Fountain Park, Mr. Feldman and also end up with a nice project. He asked Member Taub if he would be willing to amend the motion.
Member Taub said he understood that Member Capello was attempting to strike a balance between the needs of Fountain Park and the realities of the dealership as far as potential crime, etc. He said he would probably prefer to leave it as it is, but in order to seek a consensus, he wouldn't have a particular problem with the idea of the north 45 feet being available for B-3 uses and the other 220 feet for parking only, so he would incorporate the two points made by Member Capello on the record and ask for a second.
Member Lorenzo said she couldn't support the two amendments and Member Capello said he would second it.
Member Bonaventura said concerning the second item that Member Capello mentioned, the wall-berm, he felt they be missing the point on the purpose of a berm in this case and the owner of Fountain Park may be missing the point of the reason they have berms. He said it was not only the height and it was not only the vegetation they put on top and the screening, but it was also the width, and it was to act not only as a visual buffer, but also that distance, which half of which Mr. Brody commented on that he wouldn't mind giving up, acts as a buffer too.
Member Bonaventura said considering an 8 foot berm, which has a 4 foot crown on top and 52 feet at the bottom, that was 52 feet of distance which was buffer between the applicant's property and what was going on behind Mr. Feldman's wall.
Member Bonaventura said he personally felt if the Commission wants to send a positive recommendation to City Council, that Mr. Feldman was getting a very nice deal, and it goes against their Master Plan and they were accommodating this project very nicely and that was fine. He said but what he was getting at was they were going against the basis of what a berm was all about and he felt possibly the owner of Fountain Park might not have thought this through clearly or possibly he doesn't mind effectively being closer to this project.
Member Bonaventura said that was one of the concerns of the residents as far as being closer and they have an opportunity through berming to possibly kick it back a little bit.
Member Bonaventura asked Mr. Rogers if he was correct as far as the berm and it wasn't only the height and the screening, but it was the distance also along with the width. Mr. Rogers said it was the separation and the further they set back, he supposed the less the noise and the beepers, etc.
Mr. Rogers said but they can't design this wall and this berm at the table that night and his only concern with half a berm was that they were going to have a 6 foot wall, a sheer drop and maybe a 2 foot wrought iron on top, and that was an 8 foot drop and that certainly would keep cars from being stolen. He commented there were children in Meadowbrook Glens and possibly even in Fountain Park who love to climb mountains and he was worried about that.
Mr. Tkacz said he was aware of the concerns of the Commission and he did agree with Mr. Rogers. He said that berm does add that buffer and does add the distance required.
Mr. Tkacz said what he saw developing here with the creation as the code exists, was almost an alley way between the height of the berm and whatever security element they have to create at the northern edge or the lower edge of that berm. He said the City was very happy because they get at this point in time, a 12-15 foot high greenbelt on top of the berm within a five year period.
Mr. Tkacz said but then 27 feet away from there to the north, he has to create some type of security to protect his client and his product that he merchandises. He said now for 790 feet, he has created a sloped alley that no one sees although it was maintained and taken care of.
Mr. Tkacz said so yes he agreed that maybe in their eyes Mr. Feldman was getting a great deal, but from a security point and from a landscape point satisfying the City, he felt they were trying to work both sides of the ship here and it was an either/or type of situation.
Mr. Tkacz said for Mr. Rogers, he agreed with him on the fact that he was concerned about the height. He said there was no limitation here this evening saying it was a 6 foot wall. He said the wall that he would propose during the site plan review, he has built as high as 10 feet with no wrought iron, but most of them that they have done, have varied between 6-8 feet in wrought iron.
Mr. Tkacz said so the barrier that could be created to protect anyone from falling over was an element that would come up during the site plan review process.
Member Bonaventura said he had no further comments but would like to hear the other Commissioner's opinions.
Member Hoadley believed there was a compromise here and he certainly felt very strongly about Mr. Feldman's safety and theft as it puts a taxation on their Police Department if they don't do something about that.
Member Hoadley said obviously a wall was better safety and he was wondering with that kind of distance whether or not they couldn't impose a smaller, much lower, 2-3 foot berm, but with intensive evergreen type trees on it that would form not only a sound barrier but a sight barrier and have them 12 feet high to start with.
Member Hoadley felt that should pretty much eliminate the concerns from the apartments because it would address the sight and sound concerns they would have and would completely cover the wall and yet Mr. Feldman would still have the safety factor of people not being able to drive over a berm. He stated he would offer that as a suggestion that they might want to consider.
Member Hodges said she had a few questions regarding what Mr. Rogers stated about no car hauler delivery operations, and was he saying that they would have to unload the cars and then drive them back to the back lot.
Mr. Rogers asked Mr. Tkacz to point out for everyone where the hauling was. Mr. Tkacz explained it was the intent with the creation of this new curb cut to bring the trucks in and have them stop and unload and pull back out. He said under Mr. Rogers' review, of course, when he was asking for this part, they were not encroaching into the yard but now with the line moved, they would be encroaching. (tape inaudible)
Mr. Tkacz said as they know, right now the trucks do stop on Grand River and they do unload and there has been some difficulty. He said he has submitted to Oakland County for a third curb cut, a truck curb cut, so the truck hauler equipment would be off the thoroughfare and onto the site and that was the intent so that they could come in unload and pull back out.
Member Hodges said she wasn't sure and had thought they came on to the site now. She said her other question was it was stated there would be expansion to an actual second dealership and it was stated that was the intent.
Member Hodges asked about overnight parking and she indicated she was still a bit confused regarding the overnight parking.
Mr. Rogers referred to the attachment on the P-1 District that he provided in his report on Page 3226 of the Zoning Ordinance, P-1 District, and referred her to Item #3, Section 2102 and that states, "The parking area shall be used solely for parking of private passenger vehicles for a period of less than one day and shall not be used as an off-street loading area."
Mr. Rogers said he would submit that many of those cars, and not all, were going to be there for 2-3 days or possibly a week until they were sold, and then they also have rental cars, so the P-1 District seemed to have fit until they looked closely at it and then he received clarification from Mr. Tkacz.
Member Hodges said she agreed how could they control how long it was going to take to sell a car.
Member Hodges said her other concern was the concern that Mr. Brody brought up and also the Manager about the lighting and the PA system. Mr. Rogers indicated the Ordinance already states that for all parking lots, whether they were adjacent or not adjacent to residential, all lighting must be direct lighting solely to the parking lot. He felt that could be somewhat controlled, although there was some ambient lighting that goes up and bounces around and comes down on the houses.
Mr. Rogers said regarding the question of the beepers and the noise, he has been over to the Country Epicure coming out the front door on a hot night and the service door of Marty Feldman Chevrolet was open and he could hear noise and that has been brought to their attention, and he supposed this new building would be air conditioned and would not have open service doors while working the midnight shift.
Mr. Rogers felt this was a real concern because the good mechanics play the radio loud and then there were horns and loud speakers and beepers and it was the nature of the game and in a successful dealership like this it could very well have two shifts.
Member Hodges said her last concern was what Mr. Brody brought up about the fencing on that drive, and whether or not to continue that same type of appearance. Mr. Rogers said he felt that fencing should be replicated and carried all the way down to where the road turns to the west.
Mr. Rogers asked about the supporting members and were they on the Marty Feldman side and it was stated yes. Mr. Rogers said that was what they would want to see continued in the same fashion with a guardrail.
Member Lorenzo said she had a couple of problems with this rezoning. She said it seems to her that the basic problem of this request was the Commission was being asked to accommodate an incompatible use next to residential, and while she could support Mr. Rogers' compromise in terms of the conditional zoning to put forth that type of an accommodation to Marty Feldman, this was a land use issue and she just couldn't support expansion of the actual dealership or possibly another dealership and the expansion of a body shop.
Member Lorenzo said she didn't have a problem if they follow Mr. Rogers' recommendations and she could support this wholeheartedly in terms of sympathizing with Mr. Feldman and trying to achieve a balance here, but in terms of a full-blown land use change, with buildings and whatever else may be put there, she just couldn't support that.
Member Mutch commented on the entrance and stated it was a very attractive entrance as it was, although it always struck her that the fence was right in a person's face as they were driving down that drive, but if that was where the property line was, then that was where it has to be.
Member Mutch commented on the fence itself and the berm idea. She asked if she was correct in thinking that if they were required to put in the berm, they would have a berm, and that for security purposes, they were going to erect a wall-fence combination anyway for security, so she asked at what distance back from the beginning of the berm were they planning to put the fence.
Mr. Tkacz said the berm was required in 52 feet and they would go 26 feet half way at the crest. He said if they lower the berm to 3 feet, they would then plant a heavy growth of evergreens, but they should bear in mind what was there, and as Mr. Brody has said, he has 10 feet from his curb to the south property line of the dealership.
Mr. Thacz indicated they would add another 26 feet, so now there was a 36 foot long landscape. He said the first 10 feet that was there was relatively flat and he would raise theirs to 3 feet and then build a wall and then plant the evergreens. He said the 24 trees in front of him were at this point a fencing and then there were 50 trees behind him, so they now would have created this full wall and screening to meet the requirements of Novi plus the security related to the storage of vehicles.
Member Mutch said so if he does the full berm, they have the current Fountain Park Drive and they have the 10 feet that was flat, and then he was saying if they do the low 3 foot berm, on the crest of that, he would put a 6 foot wall and Mr. Tkacz said it would be 8 feet and pre-cast and then put 5 feet of decorative.
Mr. Tkacz indicated this has been done by several states and he discussed further. (tape inaudible)
Member Mutch said it occurs to her if they have a lower 3 foot berm and the petitioner was going to put up a wall anyway on the residential side, everyone has the benefit of an attractive appearance and they have the security, etc., and that was fine as far as it goes, but if they go back to Member Bonaventura's comments, part of the reason for the larger berm and a full width berm, which in this case would be north-south sloping up and then down again, was for additional sound barriers and visual barriers, etc., between the residential and whatever happens on the rezoned property.
Member Mutch said then getting back to Member Capello's comments, they have the half of the berm that the petitioner would have to construct anyway and from the Fountain Park side, it would appear that he has the wall and the fence that they were going to do and it really doesn't matter whether they have the full width of the berm, north to south or not, appearance-wise.
Member Mutch said now going to the dealership side of that, when they were looking at it, there was the wrought iron, the part of the wall that shows on the Fountain Park side, and then there was a retaining wall below that. She then asked Mr. Tkacz if he understood what she was talking about and Mr. Tkacz stated yes and he discussed further. (tape inaudible)
Member Mutch said what she was saying was from the Fountain Park side, she didn't think it mattered to the residents whether he has a full north-south berm or not for visual reasons. She said he has on the north side or the dealership side, a cut-away view and they have a retaining wall on that side, holding up the Fountain Park side of that berm. She said on the dealership side, there was no berm.
Member Mutch said what she was thinking in light of what Member Bonaventura has said, was that the wall would give them a better sound barrier from the activity of the dealership than if they just had a small 3 foot berm with the 6 foot security wall on top of that. She said so possibly that might be an engineering thing that could be done. She said if it wouldn't result in any problems, they would still have the distance from the dealership side and they gain the additional space by not having to be back an additional 26 feet.
Member Mutch agreed that the 26 feet distance normally would act as a sound barrier but she felt they were in effect behind a wall and whatever was happening at ground level was behind that wall, so she didn't have a problem with that as a compromise.
Mr. Rogers said if it was a pre-cast exposed wall, walls must be brick on brick so that would have to be a waiver. He said he didn't know whether a pre-cast wall starting 3 feet above some earth was going to be attractive aesthetically and it was like a retaining wall and it was not ornamental. He said he didn't think in his own mind on the Fountain Park side, that a 3 foot berm with some landscaping that has to be maintained would do the trick.
Mr. Rogers said the people at Fountain Park were going to be looking out substantially at a concrete pre-cast wall and as it was just being discussed, he was thinking about driving by on Grand River and that wall was going to be quite exposed to motorists but hopefully it wouldn't be that visible.
Mr. Rogers said regarding the design of half a berm with a wall, that wall would have to be tied into the berm and he would defer to Mr. Bluhm to spell out, if need be, the ties to make sure it doesn't collapse.
Mr. Rogers said but the design of that half berm with a metal wrought iron on top would have to be designed to deter children climbing the mountain and falling off.
Member Weddington said she shared Member Lorenzo's concerns about this from a land use standpoint. She said if this was to go forward, she believed that the greatest protection should be afforded to the residential area that surrounds this property. She said for this reason, she would support Mr. Rogers' original recommendations. She felt the wider higher berm with substantial plantings was necessary to buffer the residents.
Member Weddington said the issues that were raised by Mr. Brody and the Manager, were something that need to be addressed. She felt they have gotten off-track into a lot of specific issues that were normally addressed at site plan review. She said at this point, they were just talking about a possible recommendation for a rezoning.
Member Weddington said the only way she could support it was with the original recommendations that Mr. Rogers itemized for them.
Member Capello said if the Commission doesn't recommend or City Council doesn't rezone this, the situation they were going to have in an RM-1 piece of property and if that was developed as RM-1 property, was they were going to have a dealership 30-35 feet off the property line of that property.
Member Capello felt Mr. Feldman needs to have the expansion in order to go forth with everything he wants to do and not just add on his parking. He said if the Commission gives him the change in the zoning, then what they have was an area of 220 feet between the back of the dealership and where Fountain Park West was or where the RM-1 zoned property was and they were really getting a much larger buffer than they would have if they leave the zoning as RM-1.
Member Capello said they were getting more for whatever residents were there, be they Fountain Park or be they new residents if they were requiring the property to be rezoned as RM-1.
Member Capello said to Mr. Rogers in regard to the wall, he has in his motion stated that the wall was 6 feet and the berm was still 6 feet high and not just a 3 foot berm on a 5 foot wall. He said he had wanted a 6 foot wall, a 6 foot high berm, and then on top of that, have whatever wrought iron they need for safety, so the wall would not be visible from the Fountain Park side. Mr. Rogers stated then there would be evergreens on top of the 6 foot berm and Member Capello replied yes.
Mr. Rogers said they were talking about the I-1 type berm with a 4 foot crown and if they were going to do half a berm, does that mean the crown was only going to be 2 feet. He said if they do half a berm, they should have a crown of 4 feet because under the I-1 screening, it was triple-track evergreens along the top of the berm and they need 4 feet to do it and not 2 feet.
Mr. Rogers commented they just couldn't put for every 10 feet or whatever the spacing would be, one small evergreen and then another 10 feet and another small evergreen because they would not get the opacity they need.
Member Capello asked if that was required in the I-1 and Mr. Rogers said yes and Member Capello said it would be subject to the I-1 because he kept that in the recommendation. Mr. Rogers said there would be irrigation, facade, maintenance and lawn cutting, etc.
Member Capello said last of all, he was not trying to lose any buffer, but in this situation, he didn't see where non-visible parked cars could be offensive to anyone and that was all they were going to have in that buffer area were non-visible parked cars so that was why he didn't see a problem with cutting down the 20 foot buffer.
Member Bonaventura then stated he felt they were getting too technical with the numbers and Chairman Clark agreed and stated they couldn't design the berm here that night.
Member Bonaventura said that was exactly correct and he had one last comment about the wall-berm issue and Member Mutch had brought it up. He said as far as what was being proposed, it would look the same for the Fountain Park side and on the other side and what would be gained would be 26 feet.
Member Bonaventura then said he was just wondering who this Planning Commission was representing that night and were they representing Mr. Feldman or were they representing the residents of Novi and he thought the Commission was there to protect the residents of Novi and that was the way he saw this distance issue. He said the space between an area like a parking lot and a place where people live was very important and if the Ordinance requires 52 feet, it should be 52 feet. He said personally he would rather have 52 feet of dirt as far as sound because he felt that would be more deadening than a wall.
Member Mutch said she didn't have a problem with it being 52 feet and if the Commission votes to keep to the 52 foot requirement, that would be fine with her. She said she was just saying by the time the discussion got to her, they were discussing compromise ideas and it seemed to her possible to do both in that particular way and that the concerns mentioned of visual and sound would indeed be taken care of either way and she didn't have a problem with that.
Member Mutch said she did appreciate the late comments that were made about if this ever were to develop. She said for example, if this rezoning did not go through and the property was for sale and Mr. Brody decided to buy it and build more apartment buildings there, the comment was made that the future residents would indeed be closer to the dealership was certainly true even with the setbacks, etc., than what was currently the case.
Member Mutch said regarding the comment of who the Commission represents, the fact was they don't represent any one facet of the community over any other facet of the community and they represent the best interests of the community as a whole and they have to keep remembering that and it was not one side against another because there were clearly multiple issues and things don't line up in an either/or way when they were dealing with planning issues like this.
Member Taub then called the question. Chairman Clark asked the maker of the motion to restate the motion and Member Taub indicated he would restate his motion with the amendments that were made.
To send a positive recommendation to City Council for Map Amendment No. 18.534 to rezone from RM-1 to B-3 District subject to the following conditions: (1) That the north 45 feet be available for B-3 use and that the remaining 220 feet be for parking only. (2) That there would be, in addition to the recommended berm, a wall together with appropriate landscape or screening per Ordinance and per Final Administrative Site Plan Approval.
Member Capello asked for clarification. He said Item #3 in Mr. Rogers' letter, would also have to say, Where no structural addition "beyond the northerly 45 feet." Member Taub agreed and stated those two points were not withstanding any other points, so they would supersede for consistency sake. Member Capello said so Item #3 was amended to the same effect as Item #1 was.
Member Taub said not necessarily because it would permit the B-3 usage. He said in other words, the B-3 usage would define the north 45 feet so Item #3 or Item #4 or any other point, would be superseded by the idea of the north 45 feet being available to any B-3 usage and B-3 speaks for itself and it was in their Ordinance. A vote was then taken.
ROLL CALL VOTE: Bonaventura (No), Capello (Yes), Clark (Yes), Hoadley (Yes), Hodges (Yes), Lorenzo (No), Mutch (Yes), Taub (Yes), Weddington (Yes)
(7) Yeas (2) Nays
The Commission took a short break at this point.
None and Chairman Clark closed the second Audience Participation.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. Aspen Woods, SP94-36C - Property Located South of Eleven Mile Road, easterly of Beck Road for Possible One-Family Clustering Option, Revised Preliminary Site Plan, Revised Woodland Permit and Revised Wetland Permit Approval.
Mr. Ray Cousineau of the Tri-Mount Company was present. He said he would be brief as he was sure the Commissioners were well aware of the site plan in front of them. He said he was offering a 31 unit development plan and the Planning Commission had previously approved a 29 unit plan and that approval was rescinded at their last meeting and they were offering this plan for their consideration.
Mr. Cousineau explained what they have done was simply reconfigure units along the south cul-de-sac area. He then pointed out where they have eliminated units and where they have reconfigured a cluster of 4 units. He indicated the plan that was approved by the Planning Commission simply eliminated those four units.
Mr. Cousineau indicated he was adding two back in, and he pointed out where and then he said he was also adding a single unit. He said the plan keeps the units outside of the wetland buffer area and it honors the conditions of the Ordinance. He said it does create one problem which was they have a single unit cluster which was not permitted by the Ordinance and that would require an additional variance he believed by the ZBA.
Mr. Cousineau said that evening he would simply request that the Commission take action on this plan so that they could move forward with this particular site plan and he believed it does meet the conditions of their Ordinance and it was approvable. He said he would also ask that if they take action on this plan that evening, that they make recommendations to either the ZBA or the Council in requiring any variances that they need.
Mr. Cousineau said if this plan was approved as proposed this evening, he would need three variances. He said the first variance would be from the City Council for the Design and Construction Standards, which would be a reduction in the cul-de-sac geometrics on the south end and they were proposing to build a cul-de-sac that beats Oakland County Road Commission standards, and perhaps Mr. Bluhm would comment on that further but it certainly was an approvable variance.
Mr. Cousineau said the other variance would be the side yard setback between them and Lochmoor Village and the Ordinance requires a 75 foot side yard setback and they were proposing a 35 foot side yard setback, which meets R-1 zoning standards. He said they were simply proposing that in lieu of, as they previously discussed, constructing a roadway that provides for double frontage along Lochmoor Village. He then pointed out how they could move this roadway up and have it abut the Lochmoor Village property and terminate their cul-de-sac there. He said they would simply move all the units to the west side of that roadway and that was something that was approvable under their Ordinance but not desirable.
Mr. Cousineau said they have also contacted Pulte and they certainly would not want to see that and they were in the process of preparing a letter that would support that waiver request.
Mr. Cousineau said the third variance that would be needed if this plan was acted on, would be a variance for a single unit cluster. He then said he would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Rogers indicated his letter was dated April 26th and in reviewing this Revised Preliminary site plan, they would note that the number of units was 31 instead of 33, which had been previously proposed and was 2 more than 29 that the Commission had acted on earlier.
Mr. Rogers said the preservation of woodlands and wetlands has actually increased slightly by the elimination of two sites. He noted that many of those comments were in his earlier report and he called out now that the density of the project was zoned R-1 and the gross density was 1.13 dwelling units per gross acre.
Mr. Rogers said he also commented on the single unit cluster which was not provided for and the Ordinance requires that a cluster be either 2-3-4 units, attached or detached, to constitute a cluster. He said it was properly reported that they were going to have to send that for review and possible action by the ZBA.
Mr. Rogers said with the readjustment of the units at the south end of the project, only 6 of the dwelling units would have that deficient rear yard setback adjacent to Lochmoor Village. He said they were showing the 8 foot asphalt bikeway along 11 Mile and they have shown and dimensioned the right-of-way scales at 43 feet right of way and it should be dimensioned. He said he has called that out and he has called that out several times before, both on the site plan and on the landscape plan. He said they have sidewalks on all internal roadways.
Mr. Rogers said in an earlier submittal, they submitted architectural renderings and typical floor plans and at the time of Final site plan submittal, they would want to see those resubmitted as part of the package. He said on the landscape plan, it was pretty much the same recommendations that they made earlier in a previous report on certain screening along 11 Mile, and he would defer to Ms. Lemke if she would like to pick those items up, but it was in his report and they both consulted together on those requirements.
Mr. Rogers said the minor revisions to the landscape plan were normally done and could be done at the time of Final site plan submittal, so he recommended Preliminary site plan approval subject to 7 conditions. (1) Provision of certain application data that was missing. (2) Review by the ZBA of the deficient rear yard setback for 6 units adjacent to Lochmoor Village. (3) Review by the ZBA of the one unit cluster scenario. (4) Provision of an easement of access for Lochmoor Village residents to use the private roads that would be found in Aspen Woods, the roads in Lochmoor village were dedicated rights-of-way. (5) Consideration by the Planning Commission of a waiver of a 6 foot berm west of the proposed entry road with additional evergreen plantings along the northern side of the existing woodland opening and also adjusting the location of a Ginkgo tree that was in some cul-de-sac. (7) Resubmittal of the prototype building facade and floor plans and the dimensioning of 11 Mile Road as 43 feet from centerline, residential collector road.
Mr. Bluhm said he has also reviewed the Revised Preliminary site plan and essentially there were no engineering changes and the modification reorientation of the units doesn't effect utilities or the roadways in any great deal from what was proposed before, so he was continuing to recommend approval of the plan.
Mr. Bluhm said as Mr. Cousineau mentioned, today they have provided a report to City Council on the cul-de-sac variance, an outside radius variance request from 58 feet to 47 feet and they approved that variance and the Road Commission standards were outside radius requirements of 47 feet in cul-de-sacs. He indicated they were currently going through administrative reviews of modifications to the Design and Construction Standards and they were also looking at that lower outside radius requirement for a modification to their standards also so they have no significant problem with it.
Mr. Arroyo said they have also reviewed the revised plan and there were no traffic changes from the last plan that they had before them and they were continuing to recommend approval subject to the City Council waiver on the cul-de-sac that Mr. Bluhm just mentioned.
Chairman Clark said they do have a letter in the file from the City of Novi Fire Department under the signature of Daniel W. Roy, Captain, indicating that this plan has been reviewed and that approval was recommended.
Ms. Lemke discussed the Woodlands Permit and indicated she has reviewed the plans and basically by removing the lots, the two units, allows for the saving of an additional 15 trees within the regulated woodland area. She said there were a few minor housekeeping items that need to be taken care of. She indicated they would be involved in reviewing the Final engineering to see if they could save additional trees along the eastern property line and to review the drainage and grading.
Ms. Lemke said but basically, the Petitioner was saving the majority of the regulated woodlands on the site and has explored many alternatives throughout the course of the last several months and this last alternative has saved additional areas of woodlands and therefore, she was recommending approval for a cluster option and for a woodlands permit with six conditions.
Ms. Lemke said those conditions were: (1) The woodlands area was not developed to be placed in a woodlands preservation easement. (2) Before construction begins on the site, an environmental pre-con meeting needs to take place and snow fencing inspected and receipt of a Woodlands Permit. (3) Payment of Bonds as directed by the Forestry Department. (4) Review of Final Engineering documents by their office. (5) Furnish missing data on revised plans. (6) More substantial snow fencing be provided for the historic tree.
Mr. Pargoff reviewed his letter of April 28, 1995 and he indicated the current plan was an improvement over previous submittals. He said the cul-de-sac has been moved towards the 11 Mile entryway and further out of the medium woodlands. However, he said there was only a minimal savings of trees by the eliminations of the one unit on the cul-de-sac. He said he continues to have some concerns with Units 19 and 20 and they estimate that 20 regulated trees were going to be removed in this area and Units 19 and 20 also have very minimal spacings at the back yards.
Mr. Pargoff said in their measurements of the plans, they feel that the setbacks between the units, building envelopes and the protective fencing, were not adequate for moving machinery in and around those units. He said therefore, they were going to require additional bonding for trees that may be outside of the fence line as indicated on the plans.
Mr. Pargoff said he would also recommend specifically a chain link fence during the construction phase of the project and primarily around Units 19 and 20 and adjacent to the historic swamp white oak.
Mr. Pargoff said along Woodruff street, they were recommending tree wells and that the sidewalk be adjusted in order to better protect the area around the swamp white oak. He said again, they were asking the Commission to remove the sidewalks and finish it at Unit 11, but that was something that the Commission needs to make a decision on.
Mr. Pargoff said he would also recommend that the storm sewer be installed under the trees and that the boring or the tunneling of the storm sewer be indicated on the engineering plans. He said again, this was for the preservation of the historic oak and they were also recommending that the additional trees be bonded for and that the adjustment be made in the plan so that there was no mistake about the placement of the guy-wires around the replacement trees.
Mr. Pargoff said he would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Bluhm said Ms. Tepatti has reviewed the plan for wetlands approval. He indicated she noted in the areas where modifications were made that any of the buffer intrusions from before, have now been eliminated and the only minor intrusions for construction would be proposed which they would expect to be restored when the buildings were completed.
Mr. Bluhm indicated Ms. Tepatti was now recommending approval unconditionally.
Member Hoadley said he has made a statement once before in regards to this tree and he was all for preserving it, but he also was for the health and safety for the children who would be riding their trikes and walking up and down, and he didn't like to see a discontinuation of a sidewalk and have it continue on the other side of the street.
Member Hoadley asked Mr. Pargoff if the developer was willing to, would he be willing to accept a wooded sidewalk going around the tree, either one side or the other that would not impact the tree in any way.
Mr. Pargoff said a wooded walkway would be probably better than a concrete sidewalk and Member Hoadley asked if that would be acceptable and would that work for him, and Mr. Pargoff said he thought it would be acceptable as long as it was built by hand, rather than trying to take a machine in there and do it.
Member Hoadley asked if the Commission made that a condition of accepting this, could it be properly policed by him and Mr. Pargoff said it would be much preferable to a concrete sidewalk.
Member Hoadley then said to Mr. Bluhm that the Commission had some testimony earlier that night in the public session from one gentleman representing the subdivision adjacent to, in regards to additional wetland intrusion and how that might impact that subdivision and he asked Mr. Bluhm to comment on that issue and to tell him if it was going to or not going to impact.
Mr. Bluhm said that was a tough situation because that was a natural occurring low area and in evaluating the overall impact of this development, the area that drains into that wetland was draining from the southeast into that wetland and a lot of the drainage that goes in there now, certainly some of it was going to be intercepted into the road and into the storm system, which was primarily on the east side of the roads, so he felt they would see a bit of a reduction in the amount of water that goes into that wetland area.
Mr. Bluhm said the excavation that was done for the mitigation probably was not going to effect the ground water table and he didn't believe they were going to see any definitive increase or decrease in the ground water table out there, so in a nutshell, he wouldn't expect that there was going to be much impact or much of a change better or worse to that situation.
Member Bonaventura asked Mr. Watson did the Petitioner's original request require a Public Hearing and Mr. Watson said yes it did. Member Bonaventura said what was it about this rezoning that requires a Public Hearing the first time. Mr. Watson said several things and one was the clustering option was a special land use and the other was a woodlands permit and the wetlands permit.
Member Bonaventura said if a Petitioner was denied approval and if he came in under a Public Hearing and denied approval and then if one of the Petitioner's options would be to resubmit the new plans for the Planning Commission and if he resubmitted a new plan to the Planning Commission after being denied, would the new plan need a Public Hearing.
Mr. Watson said yes it would and it would be like starting from scratch.
Member Bonaventura asked Mr. Watson to tell him the reason or intent for a Public Hearing. Mr. Watson said the purpose of a Public Hearing was to get input from the public on the particular proposal.
Member Bonaventura said this was one of the things that bothers him about the way that this was handled. He said he wouldn't get too deep into it, but he just wanted to make that point. He felt the Public Hearings were very important because the notices were sent out and even though for this project, they didn't receive much input the first time around, it was the principal of the thing with him as far as Public Hearings.
Member Bonaventura said that was one of the reasons why he objected and he still objected to the way this project was being handled as far as being rescinded and then coming up without a Public Hearing because this was now a revised plan, which according to Mr. Watson, does not need a Public Hearing and it takes any interested citizens out of the loop and that bothers him.
Member Bonaventura asked Mr. Rogers if he remembered the Petitioner saying he could only get 16 lots with R-1 on 27 acres because it was a difficult site, and Mr. Rogers replied it was something within that range. Member Bonaventura said also under the preservation option, they came up with basically the same number and Mr. Rogers said they may have gotten a few more.
Member Bonaventura said to Mr. Rogers that this may confuse people because he has 27 1/2 acres and he was zoned R-1 and he could only put 16 lots on it, and he asked Mr. Rogers to explain to him what makes this site so difficult.
Mr. Rogers said there were over 19.4 acres of the site that were regulated, regulated woodlands, wetlands, or wetland woodlands. He said it was about 70% of the site that has control on it.
Mr. Rogers said there were upland woodlands and wet woodlands and all along they have wanted to preserve the quality woodlands and they wanted to contain the drainage on this site, which would be to the north towards 11 Mile.
Mr. Rogers said regarding the property, if they take out the woodlands and the wetlands, there was only 30% of the site that was developable. He said they were going into some of the woodlands on the south end which everyone knows about and there would be bonding and replacement trees, etc., and they have done that to get what they perceive to be a minimum number to make the project work financially.
Mr. Rogers said also the applicant wanted to connect up the road system with that stub coming in from Lochmoor Village, and he felt that was important and there was an Ordinance that says if a stub comes into a property, they try very hard to connect in with it.
Member Bonaventura said basically what makes this site difficult and restricts the buildable area would be the wetlands and the woodlands. Mr. Rogers said and in some cases, the wetlands and the woodlands were on the same piece of ground.
Member Bonaventura asked if the narrowness of the lot would restrict this and Mr. Rogers said yes, it was a piece of property maybe a few hundred feet wide and a half mile deep and it was a shoebox.
Member Bonaventura said to Mr. Rogers it was zoned R-1 right now and it was 27.3 acres, and they have come up with 16 lots for the buildable area, but would Mr. Rogers agree with him that they could get under the R-A which it was originally zoned, 9 lots.
Mr. Rogers said yes, 9-12 lots and it was much less because it was one acre minimum size versus the R-1 which was half acre, but this site qualifies, being now zoned R-1, for cluster and it meets the threshold.
Member Bonaventura said under the same difficult conditions, which they have described, if the petitioner could get 16 lots under R-1 and 8-9 lots under R-A, it would stand to reason that under R-4, if he could possibly lay it out properly, the petitioner would get 34 lots under R-4 going by the reasoning of dividing an acre into 4.
Mr. Rogers said yes the density of an R-4 was 3.3 and a density of R-1 was 1.65. Member Bonaventura said they were not talking density here of overall site but what they were talking about was buildable area. He said the petitioner might be able to get quarter acre lots.
Member Bonaventura said his point in going through all of this was that the petitioner was originally zoned R-A and through the generosity of a positive recommendation from this Commission and the generosity of the City Council, this petitioner received an R-1 zoning, so they basically doubled the number of homes from 8 or 9 to 16.
Member Bonaventura said with this cluster option which uses the buildable area, the City Council might as well have zoned him to R-4. He said this bothers him greatly because R-1 was a long way from R-4 and in his mind, this puts a burden on their community by quadrupling what it was originally.
Member Bonaventura said obviously in his mind he felt this cluster option has to be looked at and that evening was not the night to look at it. He said he would also like to ask Mr. Rogers regarding the cluster option, that excludes R-A and Mr. Rogers said yes and Member Bonaventura asked the reason for that. Mr. Rogers said it has been that way since 1984 but he wasn't here then so he didn't know the intent of excluding the R-A.
Mr. Rogers said they were considering eliminating regulated wetlands, state and local, from density computations and they would see that later on in the zoning report. Member Bonaventura said they have already done that in their preservation option and was that correct and Mr. Rogers replied yes.
Mr. Rogers said he checked Aspen Woods and he asked the question what density would it be if they took out the regulated wetlands, keeping in mind that the R-1 zoning caps out in the cluster option in R-1 at 1.65, and he indicated it would come out to about 1.71 if they take out all the wetlands and don't count them towards the density computation and they were pretty close to the density limit of a cluster option in R-1.
Member Bonaventura said but they do have to admit that there was more to this than just the wetlands and there was topographical and site configurations.
Mr. Rogers said the various findings that the Commission has to make after the hearing he thought they have made some of them. He said the bottom line was, as he stated earlier, the density counting the whole site was 1.13 units per gross area.
Member Bonaventura said the 75 foot building setback along the perimeter of the cluster housing serves what purpose and was it a 75 foot building setback and Mr. Rogers indicated that was put into the Ordinance and he couldn't say if it was an amendment to the original Ordinance, but it has been in there to separate clustered housing units from the perimeter property lines.
Member Bonaventura said he was assuming that was the reason they would want to separate cluster housing and want to increase the space, which if this was an R-1, it would be 35 feet and Mr. Rogers said yes.
Member Bonaventura said the reason that they want to increase it was not because cluster housing was used in a positive way and was that correct because if it was used in a positive way, he would assume they would want to move it closer.
Mr. Rogers said the clusters could be of attached units and the four units and then the group of three that were detached, were 10 feet apart. He said if they were attached in a long building, then the idea of having a 75 foot setback was just to separate those units away from adjacent single family.
Member Bonaventura asked if the cluster option allows for detached and attached and Mr. Rogers said yes. Member Bonaventura said but at the same time, the 75 foot distance was not changed so there was no difference between it being attached. He said so there was some reason in his mind, even though maybe Mr. Rogers couldn't explain it to him, why there was this 40 feet extra that someone decided was necessary to separate from residential areas around the perimeter.
Mr. Rogers said it was a general standard and they don't want double frontage lots and as was said earlier, those units could have been put on the other side of that roadway and then complied with the Ordinance and none of them wanted to see a double frontage situation with those homes in Lochmoor backing up to a street and fronting onto a street as that was poor planning.
Mr. Rogers said by moving the road further to the west toward Pioneer Meadows, they would be intruding into the woodlands and they didn't want to do that and then they would be intruding into the wetlands, and they didn't want to do that, so the road had a fix there and that was how those units with the building envelopes that they proposed, was a physical situation and they have to go to the ZBA and he didn't know if they would get the variance.
Member Bonaventura said he agreed with Mr. Rogers that if they put the road on the perimeter that would be bad planning and he felt Mr. Rogers would agree with that and the developer would agree with that and all the Commissioners would agree with that and he also felt a Judge would agree with that.
Member Bonaventura asked Mr. Pargoff in his report, he commented that he still had problems with Units 19 and 20 and that they remove approximately 20 regulated trees and that those units would have no back yards and was that literally no back yards.
Mr. Pargoff said it was in reference to the existence of the woodlands in the backyards. He said basically the trees would come practically right up to the back of the house, and if there were children involved in those units, he would imagine the Woodlands Review Board would be reviewing those lots.
Member Bonaventura said he understood Mr. Pargoff's concerns and he was watching the ZBA last night and it was variance after variance, and he said to himself, who approves those lots so that those poor people have to come in and ask for a variance to put in a swimming pool or to put on a deck. He said here they have a proposal before them where there were no back yards and he didn't agree with that at all and he felt it was outrageous and that they were trying to put too much into too little space.
Member Bonaventura said he appreciated Mr. Pargoff bringing this up and he understood his concerns that when they do impose that onto a new homeowner, sooner or later those woodlands were going to be taken care of if the homeowner needs the space and if they want to reclaim some of their property. He said this has been done time and time again in this City and that was why they keep buffer areas off lots and why some of them feel very strongly about that and he also felt very strongly about having no back yards.
Member Bonaventura said in his mind that night, he had to compare this to the previously approved, previously rescinded Planning Commission decision to remove the four lots and that was what he was going to compare it to that night, and he had to say to himself was this a better plan adding two lots, does it create less intrusion, does adding the two lots create undesirable homesites with no back yards.
Member Bonaventura said he was sure if he asked Ms. Lemke about the previous plan that the Planning Commission approved, she would agree that it would cause less intrusion and less problems with the wetlands.
Member Bonaventura said in his mind that was where the decision lies that night. He said he got carried away the last time and voted to approve this plan minus the four lots. He said deep in his heart, he personally felt this plan does not deserve the cluster option. He indicated personally, he would like to see the preservation option of 16 lots and that was half the number of lots on this property and half the number of burdens on their road systems, half the number of students burdening their school systems, and half the number of police calls and fire calls that burden their community.
Member Bonaventura indicated he also had a problem with consistency. He said Tri-Mount deserves rezoning from R-A to R-1, but Mr. Bosco doesn't and he didn't understand that and it was the same evening. He felt consistency was extremely important when they were in a decision-making process. He said sticking to the Master Plan was extremely important.
Member Bonaventura said any inconsistency was dangerous in his mind and if there was any person here thinking that possibly they could avoid litigation by approving this that evening, being inconsistent as a group or as a Planning Commission, was just as dangerous. He said he would ask later on for Mr. Watson to give them the disclaimer that they were not suppose to pay attention to such things.
Member Bonaventura said when they approve a plan like The Vistas and the same developer comes in and all he wants was R-4 and they have just gone through approving 50 foot lots of higher density and they tell him no, that was inconsistent.
Member Bonaventura said so obviously he would be against this cluster option and that was all he had to say.
Member Taub commented that even if they were to approve this project, there were variances that were required beyond what they do. He said he has concerns and always has had concerns as a Commissioner about density, but he felt every once in awhile, they have to apply common sense and this wasn't The Vistas.
Member Taub said what they were fighting about was if they take Member Bonaventura's position of 16 lots being appropriate as opposed to 31 lots, then they were fighting over 15 lots times the average American Family of 2.1. He said they were not talking about The Vistas here. He said they were not talking about a large sprawling project but they were talking about a piece of land that was probably marginally suitable for feasible economic development. He said a developer was obviously, from an economic standpoint, trying to maximize his investment, which as far as he knows, was still legal in this country.
Member Taub felt this was the wrong battleground and he wasn't afraid of litigation. He said in fact all of the Commissioners were involved in some litigation with other developers at this time. He felt it was ludicrous to choose as a battleground, 15 lots.
Member Taub said he was not degrading Mr. Bonaventura's position because he felt he serves a very important role here which he often agreed with in defending the idea of orderly or slower growth, but the moderate views that have been expressed on this project revolve around 4 lots or maybe 2 lots.
Member Taub felt practically speaking, he would predict that this would be a much desired project in terms of prospective new home buyers and that was the reality. He said from what he gathered, people want Tri-Mount homes and people would want to buy into this area where there were regulated woodlands and wetlands and preserving 55% of them.
Member Taub said he understood the concerns about down-zoning and he had problems with it but he was not afraid of litigation. He said they all have to face the reality that in this country, the laws were shifting to further protect landowners. He said he didn't think it was a question of being afraid of litigation, but it was a question of following the law or realizing do they want to put their Wetlands Ordinance and Woodlands Ordinance to the test on this project as opposed to a project that was less desirable.
Member Taub said he was convinced that if Mr. Cousineau gets his approvals, people were going to want to buy the lots, even the lots that really don't have private backyards. He said if people want a backyard, then they shouldn't buy the home and if they want a backyard they should buy a home somewhere else and if a person wants to live behind trees, then maybe they could live without the backyard.
Member Taub said as a Commissioner, he didn't feel he could decide for people who were going to come to the community or were already in the community as to what they should buy or shouldn't buy. He felt there were some difficult issues, but he didn't think it was appropriate in this case to reject this project when the real concern seems to center around 2-4 lots.
Member Mutch commented on backyards. She said they have single family subdivisions in this City and one that comes to mind was Whispering Meadows which has extensive regulated woodlands running through the subdivision and in fact in some cases, the backyards were mostly regulated woodlands. She said she was familiar with one lot in particular where the family that lived there wanted to put in a swing set and thought they could clear a space to do that and were very much surprised when the Ordinance Officer arrived after neighbors called to see that the Ordinance preventing that was enforced.
Member Mutch said maybe they have gotten so used to the idea that subdivisions spring up in empty fields or cleared fields and that they think of backyards as being big empty spaces and that if trees were there, regulated or otherwise, that there were no backyards.
Member Mutch felt in this particular case, she had to agree with Member Taub that people who buy a wooded lot or build a home on a wooded lot, probably were doing that with the idea of living on a wooded lot and enjoying that and don't intend to put a pool on a wooded lot.
Member Mutch said in addition, when people buy into a condominium setting, not to mention a clustered condominium type setting, whatever difference there was between that and the single family subdivision, she was sure they were well aware of and they know the extent to which the property around them was theirs to use and what was not. She said if they stray beyond that property line or that usable line, someone probably their neighbors, were going to be the first to call the Ordinance Officer as they did in this other situation she just mentioned.
Member Mutch then asked a procedural question. She asked when they have a presentation by the developer and then they have the comments of the Consultants, it occurred to her during the time when the first Commissioner spoke on this issue, that perhaps what they were suppose to be doing at that particular time was asking questions of those who have presented information to them and that they were not to be doing what she was now doing, which was making speeches when there was no motion on the floor to be discussed. She said it seems to her that they were falling into the trap of having a discussion when there may be no need for a discussion.
Member Mutch said if they were trying to elicit additional information from the Consultants they employ or from the developer or from those in the Audience who may have commented previously, that was fine, but to sit here and carry on a monologue and in effect lobby the rest of the Commissioners on a motion that was yet to be made, seems to be not only inappropriate, but a waste of their time. She said she for one, would do her best not to raise her hand to speak unless it was to ask a question if that was the procedure they should be following.
Member Mutch asked should they be doing that or not. Chairman Clark stated they have the right to make any comment they want on the record in terms of what their respective position was, but her point was well taken insofar as trying to keep their comments brief and to the point so that they could move along in an expeditious fashion.
Member Mutch said he mentioned commenting on their position, but was there a position to be had until a motion was made and Chairman Clark felt they could state their view of a project whether they support it or not support it, and make their position known, even though there may not be a motion on the floor.
Member Lorenzo said she agreed with Members Taub and Mutch regarding backyards or the lack thereof, and she felt this certainly wasn't the only situation they have had where there were wooded backyards and it wouldn't be the last. She agreed with their positions in terms of live and let live.
Member Lorenzo said she appreciated Member Bonaventura's concern with the cluster option, but she didn't think this was the time for that type of a debate. She believed that the fact of the matter was that once they recommended the rezoning from R-A to R-1 and it was approved by the City Council, that opened the door for a cluster option on this property and this Commissioner was well aware of that possibility at the time.
Member Lorenzo felt this project appears to her to qualify for the cluster option and she could support this project at this point in time as the concerns that she previously had, have been addressed by the Petitioner so therefore, she would make a motion.
It was then,
Moved by Member Lorenzo
Seconded by Member Capello
To grant approvals for the One-Family Clustering Option, Revised Preliminary Site Plan, Revised Woodland Permit and Revised Wetland Permit to Aspen Woods, SP94-36C, subject to the following conditions:
(1) All of the verbal and written conditions of the Consultants.
(2) Waiver of the 6 foot berm west of the proposed entry road, with additional evergreen tree plantings along the northern side of the existing woodland opening.
(3) Adjusting the location of the Ginkgo tree.
(4) A wooden sidewalk to be manually constructed around the specimen oak tree and to be approved by the City Forester.
(5) Subject to the ZBA variance for the single ineligible cluster Unit No. 20 due to the proximity of the natural resources.
(6) To bring back to the Planning Commission for Final.
DISCUSSION ON MOTION
Member Hodges asked for clarification on the motion. She asked if the variance for the cul-de-sac was added into the motion and Member Lorenzo replied that was in the Consultants' recommendations.
Member Hodges asked about the sidewalk and does that just come as a design standard so it doesn't require a variance.
Mr. Rogers asked what sidewalk were they talking about. He said the sidewalk that goes around the big tree was going to be there, but it would be of wood. He asked was there any other sidewalk being recommended for omission and it was stated no. Mr. Rogers then indicated it was a sidewalk made of wood and it should be a 5 foot concrete sidewalk and he asked Mr. Watson if he felt that was a waiver item.
Mr. Watson felt it probably was a Design and Construction standard variance that would go to the City Council.
Member Hodges asked if that would require a separate motion that it goes to City Council and Chairman Clark said no as the whole matter would be going to the City Council.
Member Bonaventura asked if he heard the motion correctly and was it a recommendation to the ZBA and Member Lorenzo said for the ineligible cluster unit, yes a recommendation.
Member Bonaventura commented on recommendations to an independent body such as the ZBA. He said recommendations from the Planning Commission should not happen. He said the basic principle of the ZBA was that they were an independent body and with a recommendation by this body and the fact that it gets that far to them with an approval by the Planning Commission, tells them something, which was the Planning Commission has reviewed it. He said if he was on the ZBA, he would take offense to any recommendation from another body because the ZBA acts on its own as they should and that was how they were set up.
Member Bonaventura also indicated he had a quick comment about this just being 2 lots and it wasn't just two lots. He said if this one-family cluster option was not approved, it still was zoned R-1 and there was still room for 16 lots, so in actuality, they might be able to look at it and say it was not 2 lots and it was 15 lots.
Member Bonaventura said his other comment was that there were certain impressions and he would like the Planning Commissioners who voted to remove the 4 lots the last time and to alter this plan, to stay consistent. He said if they were not going to stay consistent, then he would like if a Planning Commissioner was deciding to change their mind, to explain how this plan was better than the one that was previously approved by the Planning Commission and how this plan was better by adding those two lots. He said he would like to hear from any Commissioners if they were deciding to approve this.
Member Capello asked Mr. Rogers if the plan that was before them that night met all of the Ordinance requirements for a cluster option except for the conditions as set forth in his letter and Mr. Rogers said yes, except for the rear yard setback on those six units and the single unit cluster. He said they meet all the other requirements of 10 foot spacing between clusters, orientation and none face onto 11 Mile Road. He said they all meet those requirements and they have simulated some building footprints and whether the actual structure would occupy that area entirely he wasn't certain, but there were setbacks provided except for the east side rear yard setbacks of 6 units.
Member Capello said if they rezone this property, it was his recollection that this property was master planned for R-1 zoning and Mr. Rogers said it was and all that property on the south side of 11 Mile from Taft to Beck Road was proposed for R-1 type density, 1.65 and across Beck Road north, there was a reference made to another development and that was master planned for the R-A density, .8, and there was a difference in the two areas.
Mr. Rogers said so the rezoning to R-1 was consistent with the Master Plan, which also accommodated the rezonings to R-1 of Walden Woods and Walden Woods II.
Member Capello said he somewhat took exception to a previous comment that was made that the Commission gave the developer what he asked for in the rezoning. He said actually what happened was when the developer came to the Commission and asked for the R-1 zoning, he gave the Commission what they asked for when they adopted their Master Plan, so in effect, he did the Commission a favor by asking for the property to be rezoned.
Member Capello said he didn't see since the applicant has met all of the Ordinance requirements, how they could deny him the cluster option that night, regardless of what the previous plan came in as and regardless of the comparison between the two plans. He said the issue was what was before them that night. He said they were given the Ordinance to work with and until that was amended, they have to approve the plan if it meets the Ordinance requirements, and he didn't see any other choice that they have.
Member Hoadley said that Member Bonaventura was correct and they should not be making a positive recommendation to the ZBA and what they should do, in fact, was just say subject to the ZBA approval and not recommend that they approve it. (Item #5 of the motion was changed to reflect that).
ROLL CALL VOTE: Capello (Yes), Clark (Yes), Hoadley (Yes), Hodges (Yes), Lorenzo (Yes), Mutch (Yes), Taub (Yes), Weddington (Yes), Bonaventura (No)
(8) Yeas (1) Nay-Bonaventura
2. Main Street Shared Parking Provisions - Main Street Parking Study Prepared by Rich & Associates, Inc. Dated April 27, 1995 for Possible Approval of the Future Main Street Shared Parking Formula.
Mr. Rich was present and he indicated there was a question or concern expressed about the parking generation rate and the calculation for parking demand for Vic's. He said just to review that quickly, they showed a total parking demand for Vic's of 239 spaces at the peak time of 1:00 P.M. and 100 of those spaces were required.
Mr. Rich said they went out the next day and did two counts per day beginning on Thursday, April 20th, Friday, April 21st, Monday, April 24th, and Tuesday, April 25th. He said they conducted those counts both times at 12:10 and at 1:10 P.M. He said the results of those counts he believed they all have a copy of.
Mr. Rich said the peak occupancy was 230 spaces on Friday at 1:10 P.M., and the weather was clear and warm. He said they included not only the marked stalls for Vic's, but also included the parking that was on the proposed Sports Bar site, so they counted every car that could possibly be going to Vic's, and that also included some tradesman who were there at the time working on tile and other things.
Mr. Rich said additionally, on Monday the 24th, there was an advertisement in the Free Press and he believed possibly the News about the market area and then there was an up-tic in the demand on Tuesday, April 25th which may have been caused because of that.
Mr. Rich then said he would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Rogers said he would defer to Mr. Arroyo to begin the presentation.
Mr. Arroyo said they should have his letter of April 27, 1995. He indicated he has reviewed the study that was prepared by Rich & Associates and as they would recall, he and Mr. Rogers prepared back in 1993 a report entitled, Shared Parking, Potential for Application within the Town Center Districts. He said that set forth an explanation of what shared parking was, how it was applied and basically outlined the formula that one would follow if they were to evaluate a particular development and its potential for the use of shared parking.
Mr. Arroyo said as they were aware, the TC-1 District specifically allows credit for shared parking subject to an approval by the Planning Commission and this was the process that they were now going through, which was the submittal of the study by the applicant and the review by the Planning Commission.
Mr. Arroyo said briefly they have been given an overview of the number of spaces and the end result was that just over 2,051 parking spaces would be necessary under the formula that has been established and the rates that have been discussed between Rich & Associates, Brandon Rogers, and himself.
Mr. Arroyo said it was important to note that the assumptions that were in the report, include a number of percentages related to gross floor area and usable floor area. He said obviously, if this formula was going to work, the development has to be built to match the numbers that have been included in the report.
Mr. Arroyo said it would therefore be necessary that any action by the Planning Commission to deal with this would have to be conditional upon the site plan that comes in, documenting that they can, in fact, provide not only the usable floor area percentages that were specified, but also some reasonable assurance that the tenant mix that was specified would be provided or that if their tenant mix happened to change later on down the road, that that would be presented in the parking and ramifications of that could be evaluated.
Mr. Arroyo said the location of the parking space was also something that would have to be reviewed at the time of site plan review to make sure that they were in reasonable proximity, however, he felt it was important to point out and it was generally recognized that in this type of setting and in a traditional downtown type setting, there was generally a tendency for people to tolerate a longer walking distance.
Mr. Arroyo said it may be that there was some parking location and convenience as was often found in a downtown area and that was something the Planning Commission would have to consider. He felt they were aware that there were some unique factors associated with this development that have required a number of issues to be dealt with in a manner that they don't normally follow because of the unique physical characteristics of the site, the design characteristics and the type of tenant mix that was located within this site.
Mr. Arroyo said they point out that one of the things about this project that provides some benefits he felt to this City in terms of being able to monitor this situation was that this project would be a phased project as proposed, meaning that the Vic's portion was Phase 1 and there would be subsequent phases that would complete the build-out, therefore, they wouldn't see all of Main Street go in as one additional phase and they were going to see that go in in stages.
Mr. Arroyo said the applicant has indicated a desire to monitor the parking demand situation as different phases come on line and they also concur with that, and they feel it was a good idea and they think it provides for some checks and balances so to speak so that if the next phase comes on line and there was an evaluation, and it looks like things were not working out as anticipated, that there might be an opportunity to make some adjustments to make sure when the next phase comes on line, that things would be corrected if there were shortfalls that were assessed.
Mr. Arroyo said once again this was a situation that was unique and there were some characteristics here. He said he didn't know that there were any examples in Michigan of someone trying to develop a downtown area from scratch where they could go there and study it and it would give them an apples for apples comparison of a product much like what they were going to see on this site so that they could feel comfortable that what was going to happen on this site was reflective of what was on this site that was already in the ground.
Mr. Arroyo said so there has to be some assumptions made and there has to be, to some extent, some risks taken, but he also felt that the phasing component of this was something that provides an opportunity to examine that as the project goes through the process.
Mr. Arroyo said that in a nutshell gives them a brief overview of their comments and he asked Mr. Rogers if he had anything further to offer.
Mr. Rogers said they were really reviewing and considering a formula for the next phase of Main Street, which might be 2-5 buildings, each being a phase. He said they do see a uniqueness in considering shared parking on Main Street as distinct from certain other areas in the City. He said the formula they were talking about was applicable in the TC-1 District.
Mr. Rogers said he and Mr. Arroyo know a little bit about what the parking layouts would be. He said most of the buildings provided on Main Street would have parking underneath the buildings to avoid, and they don't have large areas for surface parking lots. He said this was not a commitment and no site plans have been submitted.
Mr. Rogers said the re-evaluation after the next phase of the project was built to see if the tenant mix works and that they have room for parking and not a lot of vacant stores because there was no parking and he felt that was vital and the Planning Commission was the body to grant waivers of parking based upon justified shared parking and this does not go to the ZBA.
Mr. Rogers said when the site plan comes in very likely it would have the entire Main Street complex with certain phases in it and it would go to the City Council because the project was in excess of 5 acres. He said so he concurred with the conditions of Mr. Arroyo and he would be happy to answer any questions.
Chairman Clark said he would now call upon Member Capello since he made a motion at the Town Center Steering Committee meeting that night in terms of a recommendation of the Planning Commission so they might apprise the full Commission as to the motion that they made.
Member Capello said this issue has been in front of the Town Center Steering Committee several times and there has been a lot of discussion and debate. He said that night it came before the Town Center Steering Committee in a meeting just before the Planning Commission meeting for a recommendation to the Commission. He said what the Town Center Steering Committee recommended was that based upon the investigation and reports submitted by Rich & Associates, comments and recommendations of Mr. Rogers and Mr. Arroyo, and upon the understanding as Mr. Arroyo pointed out that night, they were only talking about the Phase One project right now and they would have the opportunity to see how the formula was working for Phase One and then adjust the formula for Phases Two, Three and Four as the need arises.
Member Capello said the Town Center Steering Committee recommended a positive recommendation to adopt what they deemed as Figure 5 or the formula as set forth in Figure 5 as it applies to Phase One with the periodic review of how that parking was working out.
Member Capello felt the main crux of what they did was that since it was a new area and the Main Street was a new concept, they had to rely on their Consultants and the Phase One was only approximately 12% of the project, not including Vic's, so they were only talking about approving parking for a small portion now and they have 88% of the project left to work with and adjust the parking as the need arises, and they could adjust the parking with a reduction in footage of the buildings with an increase in parking or an adjustment in the different uses that would be approved.
Member Capello said at this point it seems that they need to go along with their Consultants and he would make a recommendation to approve.
Moved by Member Capello
Seconded by Member Taub
To approve the parking formula for Main Street as set forth in Figure 5.
DISCUSSION ON MOTION
Member Hoadley felt this was a world-class project and he felt it was going to be a benefit to their community and he wanted it to be successful and parking to him was absolutely the key to the overall success. He said he has done a lot of homework on this project and he has had a lot of conversations today and other times with their Consultants, and the Steering Committee was not privy to the information he would give them right now.
Member Hoadley said he felt the recommendation or motion was premature and he would not support it because he felt they do need to do some more homework on this and he would recommend that they postpone this decision for another two weeks.
Member Hoadley said he personally went down and made traffic counts on his own and he disagreed with the counts that the applicant has come up with. He said his counts were on Wednesday at 11:15, there were 297 parked cars, not including people looking for spaces and it was raining. He said on Thursday at 11:30 the weather was over-cast and there were 257 parked cars. He said on Friday at 4:00 PM, there were 207 parked cars and that came right on the money of what the applicant predicted.
Member Hoadley said on Tuesday at 3:00 PM, there were 249 parked cars and today at 1:15 PM, there were 333 parked cars, not including 15 cars that couldn't find a space. He said there was absolutely no spaces open and there was not quite 100 cars that were parked in the dirt parking lot because part of the parking lot was being resurfaced. He indicated there was parallel parking all the way down the perimeter road that was going to be Main Street on both sides and there was a little bit of parking available in the rear, but people were not even going back there because they didn't know that it existed.
Member Hoadley said people were lined up to get into the place and that was a fact and that was 100 more parking spaces than what the applicant came up with. He said he just didn't believe their figures and someone was not counting properly and he did count properly and he took a lot of time and did it right. He said he went up every aisle and counted every single car.
Member Hoadley also stated regarding the office that they were projecting at 424 peak, he would question that seriously and they were looking at 175,000 sq. ft. He indicated he and Mr. Chen had a long conversation the other night and he wanted to commend Mr. Chen for what he considered to be a wonderful project, but they all were concerned about the parking and wanted to make sure the parking was adequate.
Member Hoadley said in their office calculation, they were projecting 175,000 sq. ft, and he asked Mr. Chen how much did he project was going to be reduced by the mechanical, bathrooms, etc., and what would be the net usable space out of 175,000 sq. ft.
Mr. Chen said for 175,000 sq. ft. of office building, they should take out the open space aisleway, take out some space for a lunchroom, and take out some space for meeting rooms.
Member Hoadley asked what would be their net useable space and Mr. Chen replied they should take out another 10% and that was what they were using in the formula if he wasn't mistaken.
Member Hoadley asked how much and Mr. Chen said 90%, .9, and he indicated for the total space there, they should take out the 90% as the net usable, however, that has to be discounted for the overall building function.
Member Hoadley said he just wanted to discuss office. He indicated he wasn't uncomfortable with their retail and he was a little uncomfortable with their restaurant projections, but he was very uncomfortable with their office projections and parking requirements. He said they have 175,000 gross leasable area that they project, and they were reducing that by 20% for mechanical, etc., and then they were taking 90% of the 80% to come up with the net usable space.
Mr. Chen said that was what he was trying to explain to them, but somehow he didn't get the message across and he was talking about the entire building. Member Hoadley said he understood, but he was just trying to get down to the net usable space.
Mr. Chen said they should use the total 175,000 sq. ft. times .8 and then apply .9 and Member Hoadley said it comes out to 159,000 sq. ft. and Mr. Chen said that was correct.
Member Hoadley said of that 159,000 sq. ft., how much did he predict would be used, using modular furniture as opposed to fixed walls, a modular movable wall scenario.
Mr. Chen said that was out of his area and Member Hoadley asked if he was just going to have open space or were people going to pick a certain amount of square feet and they were going to put up a movable wall that could shift back and forth.
Mr. Chen said if they look at that office area, it depends upon what kind of office they were talking about. He said if they were talking about the downtown area, it was at a high end, and they were talking about basically the office use, such as doctor's offices, attorney's offices, insurance offices, a travel agency, etc., and it would be a service type use and those uses were not heavily people oriented.
Member Hoadley asked Mr. Chen if he had any idea of the square footage required for a modular office or how many square feet that normally takes. He said for a person sitting at a work station, how many square feet does that take, and Mr. Chen said it could be as small as 6 x 6 or it could be as big as his Attorney's office, which was 12 x 12.
Member Hoadley said what Mr. Chen was telling him was the square footage and if they go with modular, which most offices were going with now, that could run as high as maybe 120 or 150 sq. ft. per person and possibly the fixed wall offices could be up to 150-250 sq. ft.
Member Hoadley said his point was with 160,000 sq. ft. of space being utilized this way, he could potentially put in between 700-800 people and that would require, instead of 424 spaces, somewhere between 700-800 spaces to park those people. He said that was why he had a problem with this. He said if 2,051 was the right number, he wanted Mr. Chen to have it, but if it wasn't the right number, then they better get down and do it right the first time because he felt the worse thing they could do was figure that it was okay and then keep modifying Mr. Chen's phases as they come in saying no they were too much, too much and that to him, would mess up his leasing and everything else.
Mr. Chen said Member Hoadley's point was well taken, but they were counting the peak hour and they have to compare the apple to apple and they should not take the peak hour of each individual building use and add it together.
Member Hoadley said he had no problem with the weekend parking but he did with the office which would be stable. Mr. Chen said he would apply the same scenario and for the retail, the peak hour was different and for office, the peak hour was different. He indicated he also did a parking count and came out with a different number at 1:00 P.M. He said he did the count between a 12:30-1:30 time-frame. He then said he would have his Consultant discuss this issue further and perhaps give Member Hoadley the office calculations that would satisfy him.
Member Hoadley said his problem was with two areas and one was Vic's which he felt was understated. He said today he counted 330 plus another 15 cars that couldn't find a space so that was 348 cars that were in that area today and he took the count today in good fair weather.
Member Hoadley said the office parking was going to remain constant pretty much throughout the day from 8:00-5:00 and whatever number of cars were going to be there would stay there. He said so that was a constant and there was no peak or valley on that and even the applicant's figures project it. He said the applicant was just projecting about 300 spaces more than he was projecting for 159,000 usable square feet of office out of a 175,000 sq. ft. envelope.
Mr. Rich said regarding the counts, he has been doing perking surveys for 18 years and the dates of his counts were provided to the Commission and he would be happy to discuss the dates that Member Hoadley's counts were done and the dates that his counts were done.
Member Hoadley commented he gave Mr. Rich the dates and times of his counts and they were accurate.
Mr. Rich said regarding the office space, he had some references for the Commission. He said he and ULI has a publication on the analysis of office buildings and they do state about the modular aspect of it and Member Hoadley was right on that matter. He said they surveyed 25 office buildings and came up with an average which included a modular concept and it was an average blend of 259 square feet per employee.
Mr. Rich said the average office size was 3,700 sq. ft. with 14 employees and that was the first point and that was approximately 3.8 people per thousand based on the 259 sq. ft.
Mr. Rich said additionally in an office and this comes from ULI as well, they do state that there was a difference between the size of the office building and the location of the office building and he didn't want to confuse them because there was a difference in the numbers that he was going to be quoting them.
Mr. Rich said he quoted them a people per and those were parking spaces per 1,000 sq. ft., so it was taking the bodies and converting those to parking spaces by what they call a drive-in park. He said there were 168 surveys and that means 168 buildings were surveyed and of those, the average parking generation rate was 2.79 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft., so that was taking the bodies and converting those people into parking spaces.
Mr. Rich said they did a count for the range and there was .75 per 1,000 to 32.93 per 1,000, but it was the average that they were looking at.
Mr. Rich said another publication put out by the Downtown Research and Development Center was called A Better Downtown Parking. He said again those were parking rates per 1,000 sq. ft. and not bodies. He said in a typical City office type setting, it was 3.6 spaces per 1,000. He said in a general office, it was 1.5 spaces per 1,000.
Mr. Rich said not to belabor the point, but there was a publication put out by ITE and it was called Parking For Small Downtowns and they were calling for a general office, 2.2 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. and those were not people and those were spaces and for the medical office, 2.2 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft.
Mr. Rich said Member Hoadley was very correct in their work where they surveyed offices which were a part of their downtown studies, and there were certain offices and certain land uses that have a lower square footage per employee in the office and therefore a higher demand.
Mr. Rich said what they took here through discussions and a debate about it, was a compromise from a lower number which he has quoted here and a higher number. He said in his experience, this was a reasonable parking generation rate.
Mr. Rich said if they back out and convert the 2.42 spaces per 1,000 to a gross square footage, it was about 3.4 spaces per 1,000. He said from the numbers he has quoted, they were well within that range by the calculations here.
Mr. Rich said getting back to Vic's, in their experience there was a honeymoon phase for any type of project like this. He indicated they saw an increase in parking demand the day after the publication in the Free Press and he would submit, though he didn't do the count on Wednesday, April 26th or Thursday, April 27th, there was probably a greater increase in the parking demand because of the article in the paper.
Mr. Rich said that was the purpose of going back and re-studying those phases after six months to develop a pattern and to see what was happening with the development. He said in his experience, he has never seen a developer who has offered to go back and restudy and he felt this was a reasonable approach and considering that this was a new type of thing, it makes a lot of sense.
Member Hoadley said he had another observation for Mr. Rich. He said he has heard of this honeymoon scenario, so he made a point of checking with the owner of Vic's today and they don't think they were in a honeymoon at all and they were projecting an increase over what they were getting right now, and they were projecting a substantial increase over the next couple of years, so their idea of what Mr. Rich was saying about a honeymoon, they don't believe it and he didn't either. He felt Vic's was going to increase their parking needs over what he found was a truism over the five times he made the survey.
Member Hoadley said secondly on their office scenario, was Mr. Rich telling him and he would use his figure, approximately 4 people per 1,000, and if those people stay in the office, that would generate a requirement of 636 spaces. He said now obviously some people come and go, but if they have doctor offices, people may jam up in the waiting rooms waiting which would increase the parking and they have a scenario here where they have both a street traffic area, plus an interior corridor traffic area, which would be similar to a mall like Twelve Oaks.
Member Hoadley said they have a 606,000 sq. ft. area here and Twelve Oaks was a million two or about double, and he understood that Twelve Oaks has about 6,000 parking spaces, which get overflowed during the Christmas hours, so now they were talking about a third for half of the building. He said office density requires more parking than commercial normally because people stay all day and they don't move.
Member Hoadley felt they also have a scenario here where they have a world-class shopping district that people come 30-40 miles to Twelve Oaks and he felt this was going to be a very attractive deal, and he couldn't imagine someone just coming in for an hour or two and shopping. He felt they would be looking at people that would come in here and spend the day. He felt they would go to Twelve Oaks, the Town Center, and also over to Main Street.
Member Hoadley said he had asked his wife when she goes to Twelve Oaks shopping, did she just buy an article and then leave and she had indicated to him that she stays a few hours and window-shops as it was entertainment.
Member Hoadley said if they have the type of businesses that he envisioned they would have, they would have a lot of visiting, so those parking spots were not just going to be come and go and be vacated and he didn't know whether they have taken all of this into consideration.
Member Hoadley said what he was suggesting here was that he was willing to support this, but they need to convince him that 2051 spaces was right. He said he still was not convinced with all the testimony he has heard and with his own independent survey on this, which was much higher than what they were saying.
Member Hoadley said he has spent part of his career relocating offices for his company and he has visited Laurel Park and places like that, and they were figuring for every 200 sq. ft., 1 space, so that was 5 spaces per 1,000 and that gets parked up pretty good over there.
Member Hoadley said they have a difference of opinion here and he just wanted to make sure that they don't do Mr. Chen a disservice and under-estimate the parking needs. He said they want to do this right so five years down the road, they don't have a bunch of vacancies in there, because people come in there and can't park so they quit coming and he didn't want to see that happen. He said he wanted to make a very informed decision on this matter because they have under-estimated parking in this area in the past.
Member Hoadley said the Town Center was a good example and 12 Oaks was another example, and West Oaks was getting that way and then the Expo Center was a disaster at times and he didn't want to be guilty of making that same mistake. He then said that concluded his comments.
Member Hodges said she just wanted to make a comment that in reviewing this, she thought the plan was well thought-out and having not actually sat in on the committee, but looking at the work that was put into it, she appreciated the efforts of those who were paid to be there and those who volunteered their time.
Member Hodges said there were a lot of variables that go into making those types of statements and figures. She said she appreciated the uniqueness not only of the Town Center design but the uniqueness of the fact that they would be able to make periodic adjustments as deemed necessary.
Member Hodges said this was not cut in stone so a lot of times they get caught up in the Ordinances or decisions that were cut in stone and this allows them a little breathing room where they could say all right they have made a mistake here or they need to pull back or they need to expand.
Member Hodges said she would have to say this was very good and she appreciated the work done and she did have concerns because the last time she was at Vic's, there were people parking in the traveling lanes so they definitely need to work on signage to keep people from doing that and the street was clearly marked, so there were some concerns that have to do more with the flow. She said it wasn't because of the lack of parking and it was simply because they didn't want to have to walk and there was plenty of parking space, but they chose to park on Main Street and they were parking illegally so that was a concern of hers, but she felt with proper signage, they could take care of that.
Member Hodges said yes, Vic's would get increased market and that was good because there were going to be residential homes there and they do want them to shop at Vic's so she felt that was true, but given her druthers, if she were that close, she would prefer to walk. She said she didn't want the hassle of parking again and leaving her parking space at her home and then having to park again and then having to go back and find a space that was reasonable. She felt there were a lot of things to consider and she appreciated the time and effort that was put in by all.
Member Capello called the question.
ROLL CALL VOTE: Clark (Yes), Hoadley (No), Hodges (Yes), Lorenzo (Yes), Mutch (Yes), Taub (Yes), Weddington (Yes), Bonaventura (No), Capello (Yes)
(7) Yeas (2) Nays
3. Vic's Quality Fruit Market\Main Street - Property Located on the South Side of Grand River Avenue between Novi Road and Meadowbrook Road for Possible Town Center Lighting Standard Waiver.
Ms. Lemke said this was brought before the Town Center Committee on March 29, 1995 and basically what it does was it asks that Section 1602.14 in the Town Center District Standards be amended to allow for a different type of lighting in the Main Street area and if they look at the map on the back of their packet, the area indicated with the hearts would be the same type of fixture that was in the technical guidebook, that being the lantern type fixture, which she would discuss in a moment.
Ms. Lemke said the area that they were suggesting be just the Main Street lighting, which was a type of a hanging acorn type standard, would be in the area where the shamrocks were and basically that would include Vic's Market and then go down and include Main Street Village and then also go all the way over to Novi Road and she pointed out the area to everyone.
Ms. Lemke said the waiver then for Vic's Market would be to also, since they already have installed that type of lighting, allow them to continue that lighting and to modify the section. She indicated there was an article in this packet from Mr. John Beckett who was the landscape architect for the Main Street project that specifies some of the specifics on the acorn-type lighting standard which was proposed for that Main Street area and there was an illustration that shows what those lighting standards look like.
Ms. Lemke said but if they have been out to Vic's Market, those were the lighting standards that were already installed out there, which were the acorn type fixtures.
Ms. Lemke said the Town Center lighting standards that were out there as many of them know, were by a firm called HADCO and they have had nothing but problems with them since the very first time they have been installed in the City and she was not recommending that they go in at all. She said Mr. Bruce Jerome has tried to work with the HADCO representatives and they have been totally uncooperative all the way through and as such, they were discontinuing the use of that standard and they have been trying to find a replacement for those brass topped fixtures. She said basically it would be the same type of fixtures without the brass by another manufacturer.
Ms. Lemke said it would be the same type of poles again by another manufacturer so that was the presentation and she would be happy to answer any questions.
Member Bonaventura said the reason he pulled this item was because he wanted to discuss it briefly. He asked about the Vic's lights and how did they get installed and did Vic's Market just put them in and Ms. Lemke indicated yes Vic's Market installed them. Member Bonaventura indicated he had no problem with the lighting and he felt they were a better quality than the Town Center lighting and they were more aesthetically pleasing than the Town Center lighting. He said he did have a question as far as the map with the hearts and clubs.
Member Bonaventura asked if the idea of using the old standard in the southwest quadrant and the northwest quadrant was because it has already been started and Ms. Lemke said that was correct and it has been started in all of those areas. He asked was he mistaken that it has just been started by the gas station on the southwest corner, and Ms. Lemke said there may be one more in the southwest corner. He asked about the northwest corner and what do they have and Ms. Lemke said in the northwest corner, there was one person in violation with Roman Plaza, but the lighting was all the way along there and Big Boy and Bob Evans has them also.
Member Bonaventura asked about the one in violation and was that because it wasn't the proper standard and Ms. Lemke said yes and he asked if it was being taken care of and Ms. Lemke said yes it was being worked on.
Member Bonaventura said as far as this new lighting standard in the southeast quadrant, he had no problem with that and he felt it was a big improvement, so he would make a motion.
Moved by Member Bonaventura
Seconded by Member Taub
To approve the Town Center Lighting Waiver for Vic's quality Fruit Market\Main Street.
DISCUSSION ON MOTION
Member Taub called the question.
ROLL CALL VOTE: Hoadley (Yes), Hodges (Yes), Lorenzo (Yes), Mutch (Yes), Taub (Yes), Weddington (Yes), Bonaventura (Yes), Capello (Yes), Clark (Yes)
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. McDonald's Restaurant - Applicant respectfully requests to briefly describe a proposed McDonald's Restaurant on the east side of Novi Road, northerly of Ten Mile Road. The discussion will involve the site plan, special land use, and traffic concerns. Applicant seeks input from the Planning Commission as to suggestions and concerns about the proposal.
Chairman Clark explained the applicant was present and wished to discuss a proposed McDonald's Restaurant on the east side of Novi Road, north of 10 Mile and wanted to address the Commission concerning the site plan, special land use, and traffic concerns and to seek input from the Commission as to their suggestions and concerns regarding this proposal.
Mr. Tom Racklyeft was present of 24997 Newberry Drive, Novi. He said he was representing McDonald's Corporation and he would like to explain his project. He said with him also that evening was Mr. Joe Galvin and Mr. Lee Mamola. He then said he would ask Mr. Galvin to begin with a brief overview and the zoning aspect.
Mr. Joe Galvin indicated he was representing the McDonald's Corporation. He said he has come here that night to ask the Commission to help them. He said about a year and a half ago, they came in before the Commission with a proposal for a rezoning and for the construction of a McDonald's Restaurant on the southwest corner of the intersection.
Mr. Galvin said he was there that night regarding the northeast corner of the parcel that he has outlined. He said when he was there the first time, they learned a few things. He said first, McDonald's has identified this corner as a place where it would like to be in the City and in the course of a long and a protracted request for a rezoning and other approvals, they also learned something else, which was most of the people who live in the subdivisions and the apartments which were to the south, both west and east of the intersection, want to have a McDonald's Restaurant built at that intersection.
Mr. Galvin said they may recall that they, at the request of the City Council, did a survey of the persons living in those subdivisions and living in those apartment buildings and they were frankly surprised and the results were that two-thirds of the people who responded were in favor of the restaurant. He felt that was an important factor.
Mr. Galvin said they come now to the parcel that they present to the Commission that night. He said first it was zoned I-1 under the Zoning Ordinance and under the I-1 Ordinance, a restaurant could be built on a parcel if it meets nine separate criteria and that criteria was interesting and he would like to review it briefly. He said it has to be on a major thoroughfare, which they were. He said it has to be at least 500 feet from any residential district and they were. He said it has to be on the periphery of the industrial district and they were.
Mr. Galvin continued it couldn't be any closer than 1,000 feet from any other restaurant on the same side of the street and they were. He indicated it has to be a minimum size of 2 acres and they were. He said it has to have 100 seats and they propose 93 but they could put in 100. He said he would even suggest that they reduce that amount to create more greenspace because as a business matter, the restaurant doesn't need 100 seats, but they could provide 100 seats.
Mr. Galvin said it has to have a single drive-through window, which theirs does and in fact, they have a face-to-face window rather than a speaker, so there was another window but it doesn't serve products, so they meet all of those conditions.
Mr. Galvin said there were two other criteria, which was it has to be at the intersection of two major thoroughfares or of a thoroughfare and an industrial street and it has to have 200 feet of frontage on a major street and that was where their problems come up. He said this parcel has 165 feet of frontage on one street and 161 feet on the other and as they could see, it wraps around the corner.
Mr. Galvin said with those as the facts and with the aerial photography, the Commissioners could see the other available properties in the City that might meet all of those requirements that were at or near this intersection and those other properties
were the ones to the south, which the City made clear in their last trip here that they didn't want to change its Master Plan.
Mr. Galvin said they were properly master planned, and properly zoned for the use but there were two impediments that he has described to them. He said in discussions with the staff, there have been two different approaches that have been suggested. He said the first approach was that they bring to them a site plan under the Ordinance as it is, request the special use and then ask that they approve the special use subject to and there was a discussion earlier of that issue, subject to obtaining variances from the ZBA.
Mr. Galvin said the other approach which has been suggested was that they propose a text amendment that would in effect pick up what they genuinely believe to be the intent of the Ordinance and the 161 feet and 165 feet were combined frontages well over that which was placed in the Ordinance.
Mr. Galvin said regarding the language drafting, he and Mr. Watson could get that done quite quickly to bring them sufficiently within the orbit of the corner with the point being that in discussions with the staff, they were talking about those two different approaches and none of that makes any sense if they don't get by this threshold question, which was does the Commission agree with McDonald's and with those two-thirds of the people who chose to respond to their survey who said they want McDonald's near there.
Mr. Galvin said they feel this was a site that was uniquely suited for this use and they were there that evening at the suggestion of the staff to talk to the Commission about it and shortly Mr. Mamola would walk them through the proposed plan physically to get their preliminary indications, but the specific thing they would like the Commission to tell him first was whether they want McDonald's and then secondly, how they think it would best serve the interest of the community for them to proceed. He asked should they do as he would like to do which was bring the Commission the site plan, request a special use and go in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals, or to go through the process of the text amendment.
Mr. Galvin said the only reason that they prefer the one to the other was that they understand that the time lag because of the other business items that the Commission has in their committee for drafting text amendments, would put them out beyond where their dealings with the bank which owns the property, permit them to be. He then asked Mr. Mamola to present the plans.
Mr. Mamola said the building faces Novi Road and includes seating for 93 people and it was a little less than the 100 seating threshold. He pointed out when having a restaurant of 100 seats, they would have to provide additional public toilet facilities, and by keeping restaurants such as this under 100 seats, they were able to maintain the size of the building and keep the footprint of the building smaller and therefore a couple less parking spaces and more green area, etc.
Mr. Mamola discussed the parking. He said this particular project has an enclosed play area up near the front of the building and for one of the purposes of calculating the parking, they presumed that that play area would not be a permanent play area and that it may come into a seating area. He said that, by strict calculations, would push the seating capacity to 123 or 128. He indicated they would not be able to get 120 some odd seats in that facility if they adhere to the State Plumbing Code, which they intend to do and they could get up to 99 seats and that was it.
Mr. Mamola said he was indicating that they in effect more than meet the Ordinance requirements for parking and they could provide more green area on this site and still comply functionally with the parking requirements.
Mr. Mamola said additionally, there were still some details to be worked out, but they were proposing a shared curb cut with the Speedway 76 Station and they have two curb cuts on Novi Road, and their northern most curb cut would be in effect eliminated and moved north a bit and straddle the line between the proposed McDonald's and the proposed Speedway.
Mr. Mamola said there were some details to be resolved such as engineering and traffic, but he believed that those could be ultimately resolved. He said they should compare that to the situation of having a separate curb cut and there was a 160 foot wide portion of the property and the existing Speedway Station so in effect they were really not adding an additional curb cut.
Mr. Mamola said they feel this was an improvement, comparing to whether it was a McDonald's or a Michigan National Bank building or whether it was any other potential use coming in and having their own private curb cut off of Novi Road.
Mr. Mamola said there were some traffic concerns with how the left-hand turn arrangements work with respect to the shopping center across the street, so it does work better to resolve that then a single curb cut on Novi Road.
Mr. Mamola also said they may or may not be aware that this property has some particular structural problems under the earth and it requires pilings in the neighborhood of 47 some feet to build and construct. He said the reason why Michigan National Bank did not move along with their construction was that their bids came in way over their expectations for the development of this property.
Mr. Mamola said it would take a very peculiar user to meet the economic demands of this property and then combine that with the configuration of this property and the size of the property, odds are they would get a very small use such as a small industrial use or a small office use or a restaurant use such as this.
Mr. Mamola said so in thinking of other alternatives for the property, they should think about attempts to resolve traffic patterns and concerns which were going up and down Novi Road and the opportunity to move traffic on and off of a fast-food restaurant or a sit-down restaurant from two different streets. He felt there were a lot of benefits here to be considered and he would welcome the Commission's input.
Chairman Clark explained this matter was not before the Commission for any type of action that night but only for some input from the Commission. He said they have all received the packet and he would propose to summarize that and then turn the meeting over to the Commission for their comments so that the Petitioner would have a sense of where they were coming from.
Chairman Clark said they have Mr. Rogers' recommendation as contained in his report that he could not recommend Preliminary site plan approval for the reasons stated in his report. He indicated Mr. Bluhm has stated engineering feasibility of the project and Mr. Arroyo in his report has indicated he could not recommend approval until the 13 items that he had addressed as major areas of concerns were resolved. He also said there was a report from the Novi Fire Department indicating that the plan had been reviewed and that approval would be recommended with the addition of a fire hydrant at the 10 Mile entrance drive.
Chairman Clark said taking all of that into consideration, he would suggest given the lateness of the hour, that he give each Commissioner an opportunity to state what their concerns might be with respect to this project.
Member Hoadley asked if this property could be properly developed under the Industrial zoning and if it was developed that way, would that increase or decrease the trip generation. Mr. Rogers said regarding his second question, he would defer to Mr. Arroyo but concerning his first question, yes the property could be developed under the present zoning and the present Master Plan.
Mr. Rogers said in an I-1 District, they could permit offices such as real estate, medical, general and banking, and then light industrial and since it was not adjacent to residential, all three tiers of I-1 would be allowed. He said they were coming in under Tier III, Section 1903, which was a restaurant, and admittedly, it was on the perimeter or periphery as Mr. Galvin mentioned of an I-1 District, but it was clearly not at the intersection.
Mr. Rogers said they couldn't bend the words to make it otherwise and the property in that area was nearly all developed along Christine with Brown Jig, Henderson Glass, Michigan Cat, and there has been a demand for light industrial in that area. He said even on Trans X, there were two more projects being talked about, so there has been no showing to him that the property couldn't be used for the purposes for which it was zoned.
Mr. Rogers said regarding the issue of 200 feet of frontage, there was a Firestone Car Repair proposal on this property years ago and it needed the 200 feet of frontage and there were different facts at that time, but they were unable as he recalled to get a ZBA variance for not having the 200 feet of frontage and so they took a walk.
Mr. Rogers said that there was no question they could make 100 seats out of the restaurant and frankly he didn't know that when hitting 100 seats, they had to put in another toilet and that was an interesting rule and he could see maybe why they were not going to 100 seats. He said they were spending a great deal of money on this facility for a very large play space up front, and they have seen the drawings and he was concerned about the appearance and the Facade Ordinance and they were buying a lot of land for just a restaurant.
Mr. Rogers said it wasn't that McDonald's wasn't represented in this community and they do a very good job and they were expanding the restaurant up at 12 Oaks and then there was one at 8 Mile and Haggerty and another in the City of Wixom at Grand River and Wixom Road.
Mr. Rogers said he didn't want to be negative and he happened to like McDonald's but he has to live by this Ordinance and those three deficiencies, which were explicit, would have to be granted by a showing of hardship by the ZBA and not by the Commission, and being as it was a special land use, in addition to a Preliminary site plan, they don't gain access to the ZBA until after they address the Special Land Use.
Mr. Rogers then asked Mr. Arroyo to discuss the traffic. Mr. Arroyo said as they have discussed in other similar instances where they have made comparisons between land uses, there was a distinct difference between the trip making characteristics of an office or an industrial use and that of a retail or a restaurant use. He said that was primarily due to the fact that retail and restaurant and other uses have the ability to capture traffic that was already on the road.
Mr. Arroyo said by that he meant a person would be driving on their way home and would pull into a retail store or pull into a restaurant and then continue on their way home so that the traffic being generated, not all of it, was new to the road network, and some of it was, and some of it wasn't. He said if they look at a comparison between a use such as this, a fast-food restaurant on this site and the underlying principal permitted uses in the district, the underlying principal permitted use in this district was actually office and then light industrial comes in as they go through the different tiers.
Mr. Arroyo said if they compare the two in terms of new trips generated, a lot of it depends upon the factory use for pass-by trips and what percent they were going to apply. He said they were in the process of trying to work out a number that everyone feels comfortable with. He said one of the numbers that they suggested in his report was 43% based on some information that was provided. He said if just for now, on a preliminary basis, they use 43% of the total restaurant trips as being pass-by trips, he would give them a comparison of peak hours.
Mr. Arroyo said during the AM peak hour, the highest peak hour of adjacent street traffic during the morning, the McDonald's would generate 115 new trips to the road network versus 83 for an office use based on the size that he assumed in his report. He said if they look at the PM peak hour, the McDonald's would add 76 new PM peak hour trips versus 84 for the office, so they were fairly comparable.
Mr. Arroyo said then under this scenario during the afternoon peak hour, which was generally the highest peak hour of the day, the office would actually add more new trips to the road network than the McDonald's would. He said those were preliminary numbers and they were still working on them but that at least gives them a rough comparison of how the two uses, office versus the fast-food restaurant, compare during the peak hours.
Member Hoadley asked how was that intersection operating now, and Mr. Arroyo said he would have to refer to the traffic analysis and he would give him that answer in a moment. He indicated the report the Commission has in front of them was preliminary as he hasn't done his complete report as yet.
Mr. Galvin indicated he believed it was Level of Service C in the morning, B at noon, and C in the evening. Mr. Arroyo found the work sheets and said it was Level of Service C in the morning and also C in the afternoon. Member Hoadley asked what was the highest trip generation for a McDonald's Restaurant, what period during the day and Mr. Arroyo said for the use itself, they have their peak during the noon hour generally and the mid-day peak was the peak hour of the generator.
Member Hoadley asked what type of traffic do they have at the noon hour then on Novi Road and Mr. Arroyo replied once again they were at the preliminary stages and he didn't have all the answers for him at this point, but he would see if he could quickly get some information for him.
Mr. Arroyo said in the Petitioner's report, his Traffic Consultant has a Road Commission count dated November 13, 1991 which has Novi Road counts northbound and southbound total during the noon hour of 1,259 cars during the noon hour and that compares to the PM peak hour where they have 1,423. Member Hoadley said that was four years ago and what would it be now and Mr. Arroyo said he didn't believe there was an updated count, however, they did do some updated turning movement counts during the peak hours.
Member Hoadley said his last question was regarding a shared entranceway between a heavily used service station and how well would that work towards a criss-cross pattern and a traffic accident generator.
Mr. Arroyo felt if it was designed properly it would be a good idea because they wouldn't be adding another conflict point to a road system. He said one of the things that Mr. Mamola has mentioned was the relationship of this site to the property on the other side which was Pine Ridge Center, and there was an existing driveway there that was across on this proposed site.
Mr. Arroyo said as he recalled the way the property lines run, it would be impossible to line up a driveway with the Pine Ridge Center, therefore, they would have to place the driveway serving this property south of where the Pine Ridge Center driveway comes in, and if the driveways were too close together, they have the potential for a left turn conflict in the center turn lane because if someone was heading northbound and they want to turn left to go into Pine Ridge, they would use the same center left turn lane area as they would if they were heading southbound to make a left into this site.
Mr. Arroyo said so by sharing the driveway with Speedway there, getting the driveway further to the south and increasing the separation which was actually good and from that prospective, it was better than putting it in a location where they would have a closer separation between that and the Pine Ridge Center driveway, so from that prospective, he felt it was good and it was just a matter of making sure it was assigned properly.
Member Hoadley said if those people get serious about this thing, was he going to be able to give the Commission accurate traffic information for 1995. Mr. Arroyo said there would be accurate PM peak hour information, and Mr. Hoadley said he was primarily concerned about noon time, and that was when they do the big amount of business, and Mr. Arroyo replied he would make sure that they have up-to-date peak hour information.
Member Bonaventura apologized to the applicant because he personally felt that he deserved a little bit more input than time allowed. He said his main concern and the only thing he would discuss right now was the Special Land Use compared to the underlying uses, the uses of office, manufacturing, and light industrial. He said regarding the daily trip generations, light industrial was 201, manufacturing 111, and office 621 with 2,300 daily trips and 805 of those would be pass-by trips, to be fair. He said the corner of Ten Mile and Novi if someone wanted to tour Novi in slow motion, they would start at Haggerty on Ten Mile at about 5:30 and move westward and creep along about 10 miles per hour, stop and go all the way down to Novi Road.
Member Bonaventura then stated there were traffic problems and Novi was over-burdened and this would not help matters at this time. He said he wasn't saying it wasn't feasible sometime in the future, but at this point in time, the City could not handle it and it couldn't handle the 2,300 daily trips at this corner.
Member Hodges said to Mr. Galvin did she hear him state that he and Mr. Watson had talked and indicated they could combine the frontage of the lots and Mr. Galvin said no. He said what she heard him say was if the direction that the Commission wished to take was to have a revision of the Ordinance, there would be no difficulty for him and Mr. Watson to write language which would accomplish that but he did not mean to suggest that it could be done and he apologized to her and Mr. Watson.
Mr. Galvin continued saying to Member Hodges that the first issue was the threshold issue and the restaurant at that location and the second issue was that if the Commission would look favorably on it, how would they go about accomplishing that. He said there were two routes and that was the trust of his remark and the intention of his remark and if he misled her, he apologized.
Member Hodges said she just wanted to make sure that she heard him correctly or interpreted correctly. She then said she looked at this and really the only question that she had for the applicant was why did they pick this site as it just doesn't work.
Mr. Galvin indicated they feel it does work well and the basic issue was that this location in this City, from the company's prospective, was a wonderful place for a McDonald's Restaurant.
He said regarding the other corner, that would require a rezoning and it was contrary to the Master Plan and this was not and it fits all the requirements.
Mr. Galvin said if it was at the absolute intersection and they add 35 feet, that was it. He said from their prospective from a marketing standard and from the prospective of the persons who lived in the vicinity, they liked it so he respectfully disagreed and felt it was a great site.
Member Hodges said her last comment was that Mr. Arroyo talked about off-setting the entranceways but another factor he did not mention which could really pose a problem was the people that would be turning left going southbound onto Ten Mile and that would be possibly a three-way or four-way bottleneck that they would have going there.
Mr. Galvin said he agreed with her completely, but the issue however was what do they do to the existing situation and they don't hurt it. He felt some of the things that Mr. Arroyo said point to that conclusion and if they look at the traffic generation during the peak hour and their newly generated traffic, they just don't make a difference and he felt that was the appropriate traffic issue that they would like to talk about coming back before the Commission with the site plan.
Member Weddington said it seems to her that McDonald's must have a preference for dangerous situations and they were in some of the most congested dangerous intersections in the Novi/Farmington Hills area and here they were trying to come into another one. She said it was not just the matter of the traffic and the volume and she would respectfully disagree with his conclusion that the McDonald's at this location would not increase traffic and she felt that it would.
Member Weddington said she could certainly understand their desire to be there and it would be a tremendous market for them. She also wanted to point out that they have hundreds of additional new homes coming in, in the immediate vicinity and she was sure they would like to be there to serve those potential new customers, however, she felt that this was a very bad location. She said she drives through there frequently and it wasn't just congested but it was dangerous.
Member Weddington said people have difficulty getting in and out of every one of those corners, both gas stations, the bank, and Erwin Farms, and every one of those driveways were a problem for people turning in and out, trying to cross traffic that was stacked up constantly. She said she had thought that the Level of Service was at least a D or worse and at least that was the way it appears to her and she drives through that area many times per week.
Member Weddington said as far as the Applicant's survey goes, there were survey techniques and ways to ask questions and other ways to ask questions and they could get any kind of response that they desire by the way they phrase the question and so she was surprised that he found such a favorable reaction, but in terms of direction if he wanted that just on the basis of safety, this was a very poor location and she would not support a fast-food restaurant of any type in this location and she would suggest that he look for other locations that were much less congested.
Chairman Clark said he had a problem with the Special Land Use and he certainly didn't have an axe to grind with McDonald's as he has left enough of his money there over the years with his children so that was not the issue. He said obviously they don't meet the requirement of the 200 feet of frontage, although there was a gerrymandering attempt to do so by the shared parking with the gas station.
Chairman Clark said he has served a total of almost 6 years on the Planning Commission of the City of Novi at different times, and one of his major concerns has always been traffic on the streets of this City and public safety. He said if this restaurant goes in, he was willing to predict it would be the highest accident location in the City of Novi. He said he travels that road almost every day, across that intersection. He said the comments of the other Commissioners were 100% on the money and it was a bottleneck during the rush hour.
Chairman Clark said he knows from McDonald's prospective, it would be an ideal location with the high school just up the road, especially at lunch time, but again he was very, very concerned in terms of traffic and safety.
Chairman Clark said he has no problems with McDonald's having a second location in the City and they have the other location at 12 Oaks Mall, but this was a wrong location. He said it may work for McDonald's because they have to put the extra money in there and sink the pilings because of the nature of the soil on the site.
Chairman Clark said they do not even meet the minimum frontage requirements on the thoroughfare, and that being the case, he could not support a McDonald's at this location. He said if they were at some other location in the City that met the appropriate requirements and had the 200 feet of frontage, then he would look at it differently, but given what they have at this location, he had the same concerns that he had when they tried to develop the other site on the opposite side of the road. He felt this would be compounding the problems with traffic and more importantly, would create one of the highest accident sites in the City of Novi so he couldn't support it.
Member Mutch said she didn't have the same concern about the volume of traffic, but she shared the concern about the safety situation and it was very difficult to get in and out of the existing driveways in part because the gas stations were right there, right at the corner, and even if they want to turn into a right turn lane, traffic was stacked up and they couldn't get in all that safely now.
Member Mutch said the reason why she didn't have the same concern about the volume or the additional traffic was because there were existing fast-food restaurants that exist on the perimeter of that southeast residential area now, not just McDonald's, so people were traveling from where they live to the existing restaurants.
Member Mutch said the people who were halfway would continue to go to those restaurants on the perimeter and the others would come to one if there was one in this particular location. She said there were people who were on their way home from school or on their way home from work, etc., and that particular roadway and intersection was used so much that it would be easy enough to combine a trip to McDonald's with just about anything else they have planned in their day anyway, so the additional traffic was not as much a concern to her and she just didn't assume that because McDonald's goes up there, that there would be additional traffic.
Member Mutch felt for example, if they had a manufacturing industrial use, they were creating a new building with employees that most likely for the most part were not living in the surrounding area, and with the additional delivery traffic, etc., she felt they would be adding considerably the same likelihood of an office use. She said if they had an office building, particularly an office building of any size, that they would add considerably to the new traffic in real numbers. She felt regarding the safety problem, she didn't see any way around that.
Member Mutch then asked Mr. Rogers or Mr. Arroyo how was that 200 feet of frontage arrived at in the first place and why was it 200 feet as opposed to some other number.
Mr. Rogers said they don't want to have those high-impact uses sandwiched in on 20 foot parcels with limited area to have curb cut radii and accel and decel, etc., and it spaces it out to have more sight distance. He said there would be a lot of in and out traffic to this particular restaurant. He referred to the McDonald's at 8 Mile and Haggerty and said there was inadequate parking with semi-trailers parking out in the right-of-way of Haggerty and that was the worse case. He said even though they bought an extra lot for parking, they were still very popular and Big Boy has the same problem and Chili's was even worse.
Mr. Rogers said the 200 feet was set up in the I-1 District. He said if they were in the B-3 District occupying that vacant lot that was for sale directly across the street, they wouldn't have 200 feet of frontage, but in the I-1 District, where the Ordinance established that years ago, it was basically for spaciousness. He said they have it in the NCC District, 200 feet, and they have it for auto service establishments and for self-serve warehouses along Grand River and it was a uniform standard.
Member Mutch said the property Mr. Rogers just referred to, was he talking about the vacated gas station property, and Mr. Rogers said yes and it was about an acre and Member Mutch said so if McDonald's were to come in with a site plan for that particular site, everything would be there. Mr. Rogers said there was no area requirement and they just have to meet the parking and the greenspace setbacks.
Mr. Rogers said he did not feel they could survive on one acre and he felt the applicant would say that and it was actually a little less than an acre when they did the widening of the intersection. Member Mutch said she wasn't trying to find a way to shoehorn them into that intersection but she was curious if there was vacant property right there without any restrictions, why they wouldn't have gone to that site.
Member Mutch said so the safety was definitely a problem although the shared parking reminds her of the situation that was on Haggerty Road, where they have Taco Bell and Speedway, which has exactly the same thing, and to her that was a really dangerous situation.
Member Mutch said her input to the applicant would be if the applicant would like to go for a text amendment, go for it, but she didn't believe they would have much luck with the site plan when they have a deficiency and the frontage would be a major problem in itself, with all the other issues set aside.
Member Capello said he agreed with Member Mutch to the degree that he believed that a lot of the traffic that they were going to get would be at lunchtime and not destination oriented, but he didn't think they would find a lot of people fighting the traffic on Ten Mile Road at 4:30-6:30 at night to go to McDonald's. He said a person goes to McDonald's because they want to get in and out quickly and not wait 45 minutes to get in and then get out in five minutes.
Member Capello felt it was a difficult intersection and there was a lot of traffic but the roads were going to get widened and he believed if they want to go to a convenient fast-food restaurant, he didn't want to drive 15 minutes to get there. He said even going up to the Wixom restaurant was difficult. He said he would like to see it at a convenient location.
Member Capello indicated he really wasn't opposed to this intersection and he liked the way it lays out better than being at the corner, but he didn't know how they would get around the 200 feet of frontage. He asked Mr. Rogers if it had to be contiguous and Mr. Rogers said the Ordinance states, 200 feet on a major thoroughfare, and they have about 165 feet on two major thoroughfares and they would like them to combine the two and say they have 330 feet of frontage, but the Ordinance was clear and he wouldn't interpret it because it says what it says.
Member Capello asked if they were right on the corner could they have 100 feet and 100 feet, and come up with the 200 feet, and could it be computed in that fashion, and Mr. Rogers said he would have to review that matter but he didn't think so.
Member Lorenzo said she would have to agree with Member Bonaventura and the other Commissioners at this point in time and could not support a McDonald's at this location. She said that was not to say that she couldn't support it at a later date if the road conditions change and improvements were made, but she couldn't support it at this time.
Mr. Galvin asked to speak one last time and he just wanted to say that Member Weddington had suggested that there might have been something in their survey technique that may have led to the positive results, and he would like to read to them what he sent to the people. He indicated the survey stated, "Please check the appropriate box and drop this in the mail. Your input is very important to us, let the City Council know your views." "I/We support the rezoning of the property on the southwest corner of 10 Mile and Novi Road, which will allow a McDonald's Restaurant with an indoor playland and a new Total Service Station with a car wash." He said there was a box and then another box that said, "I/We have no opinion on the rezoning" and "I/We do not support the rezoning." He said there was nothing particularly significant about it.
Mr. Galvin said his point was the people who live there, also would like them to be there. He then thanked the Commissioners for their time.
There being no further business before the Planning Commission, the meeting was adjourned at 12:00 A.M.
Transcribed by Sharon Hendrian
June 7, 1995