View Agenda for this Meeting


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 05, 2000 AT 7:30 P.M.




Meeting called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairperson Capello.


PRESENT: Members Canup, Capello, Cassis, Churella, Koneda, Mutch, Piccinini, Richards and Watza (arrived late)




ALSO PRESENT: Planning/Traffic Consultant Rod Arroyo, Engineering Consultant Victoria Weber, Assistant City Attorney Dennis Watson, Landscape Architect Linda Lemke, Senior Environmental Specialist Aimee Kay, Façade Inspector Chris Fox, Community Development Coordinator Heidi Hannan and Planning Assistant Beth Brock






Chairperson Capello asked if there were any additions or changes to the Agenda?


Member Churella would like to remove Regency Industrial Center Unit 3 from Matters for Consideration and place it as Item 3 under the Consent Agenda.




Moved by Churella, seconded by Piccinini, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Agenda as amended.




Yes: Canup, Capello, Cassis, Churella, Koneda, Mutch, Piccinini, Richards, Watza

No: None












Blair Bowman gave a brief presentation on an informational basis of what is being planned for the future of the Expo Center program. He also briefly reviewed the results of an Economic Impact Study that was conducted in pursuit of a determination about the future move.


Mr. Bowman stated they engaged Michigan Consultants to perform the Economic Impact Study. They looked at a number of different factors to derive the figure. They looked at the estimated attendee and exhibitor usage of overnight rooms which was about 68,000 room nights. The total of non-lodging spending equaled $29 million which gave a total of direct off-site spending of about $34 million dollars last season. Mr. Bowman stated the direct on-site spending was estimated at about $47 million. Together, it comprised a direct economic impact of approximately $95 million. He stated there was a total economic impact for the area of about $189 million plus.


Mr. Bowman stated they looked at what the new operation would yield. He stated only three new shows were added and looked at about a $12 million impact. The increased capacity and affect on the existing business would increase to about $117 which coupled together would produce about $129 million worth of annual impact.


Mr. Bowman reviewed the plans for the future Expo Center. The site is about a 50 acre site along the south side of I-96 with Taft Road on the eastern boundary. Much of the site fronts on Grand River and is close to the Beck Road interchanges. The site plan shows three entrances in and out, one off of Taft Road and two off of Grand River. The facility is about 320,000 square feet. Mr. Bowman briefly reviewed the site plan.




Chairperson Capello announced there were 3 items on the Consent Agenda.


Chairperson Capello announced he has received a form of proposed changes to the meeting minutes of the March 15, 2000, from Member Koneda.


Member Cassis referred to Page 5, last paragraph, fifth sentence should read, "He felt that the Commission should not abstain…".


Chairperson Capello asked if there were any other changes to the minutes? Seeing none he entertained a motion to approve the Consent Agenda as amended.




Moved by Koneda, seconded by Cassis, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Consent Agenda as amended.




Yes: Canup, Capello, Cassis, Churella, Koneda, Mutch, Piccinini, Richards, Watza

No: None





This office/research park project is located in Section 12, on the west side of Haggerty Road and north of Twelve Mile Road. The twenty-two acre parcel is zoned Office Service Technology (OST). The applicant is seeking Preliminary Site Plan, Woodlands and Wetlands Permit approvals.


Jim Capo of DeMattia Associates introduced Keith Owen also with DeMattia, Blake Hassik of MI Developments and Mike Stefani the Vice President of Research and Development.


Mr. Capo stated the site was 30 acres. There was a parcel on Haggerty Road that was about 7 acres which left a parcel of 23 acres. He proposed an office technical center of 268,000 square feet that accesses off of Lewis Drive. The zoning around the parcel is OST and across Haggerty Road in Farmington Hills it is zoned residential. The building has two wings, the one on the north side of the facility will house the Magna seating group. It is two stories which has corporate office on the second floor and technical spaces on the first floor. The wing on the east side of the facility is the Magna testing facility. It has office up front and testing areas in the back. The bulk of the parking located north of the facility, services the seating group, the testing group has parking to the east. There are two loading areas on site. One falls along the side yard along Lewis Drive and one to the south that accesses the testing group. The building is proposed to be face brick with tinted glass bands.


Blake Hassik gave an overview of Magna. He stated Magna is a large international auto parts manufacturer. It is a public company based in Toronto with 200 factories worldwide, 65,000 employees and $15 billion canadian in sales this year. He stated the fastest growing group was the seating group.


Mr. Hassik stated this location would be the global headquarters, therefore, there would be a lot of attention given to this project.


Rod Arroyo, Planning and Traffic Consultant stated the interior side yard loading could be approved as part of the site plan, it does not require a ZBA variance because they do have some frontage on Haggerty Road which qualifies them as a double frontage lot, otherwise it would all have to be in the rear yard. The applicant does require a waiver regarding the screening of the loading area. The ordinance specifies that loading areas be built as a courtyard design or they be screened by a wall or berm in an OST district. It allows the Commission to waive it if the adjacent property is zoned OST.


Mr. Arroyo recommended approval of the site plan. There were a number of minor issues that would need to be addressed on the Final Site Plan.


In regard to the traffic review, Mr. Arroyo stated primary access is to Lewis Drive. Left turn lanes would be provided as well as right turn lanes out. The intersection of Lewis and Haggerty would be improved to include a center left turn lane, right turn lanes, deceleration lanes and acceleration lanes as appropriate. There were a number of site plan related issues, most of which were minor in nature and would require adjustments at the time of Final. Mr. Arroyo recommended approval of the Preliminary Site Plan.


Chairperson Capello asked if there was a Planning Commission waiver required for the parking lot setback?


Mr. Arroyo stated there was a separate parcel along Haggerty Road that the applicant was reserving for potential future use possibly by another component of Magna. As they are showing it, if the parcel is created as a separate parcel, they have to maintain a 20’ parking setback from the frontage parcel. If it were all under one property ownership, they would not have to maintain the 20’ setback because it would just be an interior parking lot.


Victoria Weber, Engineering Consultant recommended approval. She stated there were a few comments that could be addressed on the Final Site Plan. Ms. Weber stated it should be noted that public sanitary sewer is not available to the building as downstream construction has not yet been completed. A letter certifying that the system serving the building is acceptable for public use will not be issued until construction of the downstream improvements are completed.


Aimee Kay, Senior Environmental Specialist stated there was not a presentation done on the wetlands, therefore, if anyone wanted her to indicate where all of the wetlands were, she would do so. She stated the wetlands for the parcel were reviewed, there were three wetlands on the site. She referred to her letter dated March 10, 2000 which describes them in the chart. She stated there is one regulated wetland on the property that is 1.15 acres. She did not recommend approval at this time due to the little over ½ an acre of fill for the regulated wooded wetland on the property. The wetland is difficult to work around, she stated the applicant has preserved the highest quality portion of the forested wetland on the property. The applicant has made a concerted effort to meet with the office to explore alternatives. There are several alternatives that she would like the applicant to explore if possible. Ms. Kay stated the main reason she was not able to recommend approval was that some of the information was not provided to her office, therefore, some of the alternatives were not able to be explored further. She would like to see the applicant shift part of a truck well located in the southwest corner of the building envelope area, approximately 20’ east. If it can be done, then a portion of where the wetland starts on the immediate western portion of the property can be preserved because as the fill is proposed now, it would basically fill a middle portion of it and leave two separate wetland pocket areas which would not make for a very viable system. One other consideration, based on the cut of fill that would have to take place for grading the site, the applicant would have to cut possibly 8’ to 10’ deeper. The wetland in essence would be much higher than where the parking lot and building structure would be. She stated this was an unusual circumstance and one of two things could happen with it. Since it is a considerable cut, the applicant could possibly drain the remainder of the wetland in the western portion. Secondly, if the applicant can prove with further documentation that they are not going to drain it and they can maintain some kind of continuity between the two wetland areas, then she thought it would be a good project. Ms. Kay was very pleased that the applicant was able to preserve the southern wetland that is in the forested area, it is very high quality and the northern area already has prior disturbance, therefore, she was not too concerned about it. Ms. Kay could not recommend approval at this time.


Linda Lemke, Landscape Architect recommended approval of the conceptual landscape plan. She stated a Planning Commission waiver was required for the screening of the truck service areas. She recommended the waiver with the addition of evergreen trees along the area. A berm in the area of the proposed loading area was not possible due to the excessive grade. The applicant is short on a 30" high berm along Lewis Drive, she believed it could be met and would look for this at the time of Final. She stated there were a number of Final items that she would be looking at when reviewing the plan for Final.


Ms. Lemke referred to her woodlands review letter of March 29, 2000, she did not recommend approval due to the amount of removal of the high quality woodlands on the site. She stated there were approximately 10.3 acres of regulated woodlands on the site. Within the area, there are approximately 50 trees larger than 20" dbh and greater. The woodlands is a Type C habitat and there was quite a bit of wildlife on the site. It has good health, provides a scenic benefit and provides a benefit for the city for cooling and heating which is an environmental asset. The hedgerow has a lot of openings with sparse understory which makes it less valuable as a wildlife corridor.


Ms. Lemke stated she has met with the applicants many times since it first came in, in the winter of 1998. Initially the site was all one parcel and the applicant was not proposing to split the one parcel off, they were looking at putting one building on the site. When they submitted for a preliminary site plan, they showed the site being split into two parcels with two buildings. The first plan removed approximately 5.4 acres out of the total 10.3 acres of regulated woodlands. Of the higher quality woodlands on the site which is approximately 9.91 acres, 4.9 acres were saved, removing approximately 5.1 acres. With that design, at least 421 regulated trees, 8" dbh and greater were being removed and there were 28 regulated trees, 20" dbh and greater in the area of the proposed buildings. That plan was denied and she met with the applicant again, suggesting other alternatives, they provided a packet of five design alternatives that they had looked at and the plans were revised for Version A. She stated the applicant has moved the building easterly 20’, saving additional 0.32 acres of woodlands and they have indicated a landbanked area, preserving trees in that area. Ms. Lemke had concerns about that area. She stated there was a big difference in elevation. In addition, the plan submitted showed a watermain and storm line going through that area, she stated they would have to be relocated in order to preserve the trees and understory. If the woodlands in the landbanked area could be preserved, than an additional 0.66 acres of the high quality woodlands or a total of 5.56 acres of woodlands and approximately another 30 trees could be saved. She stated out of 9.91, there is a preservation of 5.56.




Ms. Lemke expressed concern with a triangular area west of the easterly wetland boundary. She reviewed some of the alternatives as listed in her letter such as relocating the truck well on the west side of the building, relocating the dumpsters outside the woodlands and making parcel two an outlot. Other alternatives are reducing the size of the building or redesigning the building to stay out of the area. To reduce the R.O.W. greenbelt buffer width along the north, which would require a variance from the ZBA. Ms. Lemke stated she would like to see some replacement trees adjacent to the building and to the paving area. The applicant is missing a lot of information that can be addressed at the time of Final, they have volunteered to place the remainder of the woodlands on the site into a Preservation Easement. Ms. Lemke acknowledged the fact that the applicant has saved approximately 5.5 acres, however, due to the high quality of the area and the fact that she still believes that there are other alternatives that will preserve more of the area, she could not recommend approval.


Chairperson Capello announced he has received a letter from Michael W. Evans, Fire Marshal for the City of Novi Fire Department, which states that the above plan has been reviewed and approval is recommended subject to five items: 1) to relocate the hydrant proposed near the south loading area; 2) the control valve for fire suppression water main shall be a post indicator valve; 3) all weather access roads capable of supporting 25 tons are to be provided for fire apparatus prior to construction above the foundation; 4) all water mains and fire hydrants are to be installed and be in service prior to construction above the foundation; 5) the building address is to be posted facing the street throughout construction.


Chairperson Capello announced he has received a letter from Douglas R. Necci which states that the plan has been reviewed and a Section 9 Waiver is not required because the plans meet the Façade Ordinance.


Chairperson Capello announced it was a Public Hearing and opened the Matter to the Public.


Seeing no one he closed the Public Hearing and turned the Matter over to the Commission for Discussion.




Member Piccinini asked for clarification of the 20’ on the eastern side. She asked if the waiver was needed because of the split?


Mr. Arroyo stated if the entire footprint of the parking and building were shifted 20’, it would eliminate the 20’ greenbelt setback for the parking lot. He stated this would not hurt their lot split.


Member Piccinini asked if the applicant has looked at moving the building over the 20’?


Mr. Capo answered, yes. He stated the site plan recommendation has been moved over as one of the alternatives.


Member Piccinini clarified that the applicant has already moved it over the 20’ and is now in need of a waiver.


Mr. Capo answered, yes.











Moved by Piccinini, seconded by Churella, CARRIED (5-4): To approve the Preliminary Site Plan, Wetlands 1 as non-essential, to grant the Wetland Permit without any mitigation, no Preservation Easement for wetlands, to landbank parking in the rear, to grant the Woodland Permit without Preservation Easement, Planning Commission waiver for screening of the loading area, the east parking lot setback waiver all subject to the lot split and the dedication of Lewis Drive and subject to all of the other Consultants comments and recommendations, except those noted.




Member Koneda stated the motion suggested that mitigation was not required because wetlands were deemed non-essential, he asked if the wetland encompassed an area large enough such that the Wetlands Ordinance requires mitigation?


Ms. Kay stated there were two separate issues. The first issue was whether or not the Commission wanted to make a motion to make the 1.15 acre area non-essential. She stated they had done a prior wetland boundary verification and essential determination on behalf of the Wetland Ordinance. In the documentation, it describes why something is essential. She stated two of the ten criteria make the wetland absolutely essential to the preservation and natural resources of the City.


Member Koneda stated the essentiality test had two criteria. Item 5 provides water storage. When a site is impacted and the wetlands are made to go dry, you’ve taken away the water storage and have essentially negatively impacted by construction. He stated you can externally cause a wetland to no longer be a wetland by building around it.


Ms. Kay agreed.


Member Koneda was concerned about losing the water storage. He stated the second criteria had to deal with what was in the area of surrounded habitat. He asked if the Commission could decide that it was not essential and go against Ms. Kay’s recommendation that says it is essential. He asked Mr. Watson for his opinion. He asked if the Commission could go against the Consultants recommendations.


Dennis Watson, Assistant City Attorney thought the Commission had to make a determination as to whether the criteria are met or not met. He stated for the Commission to find it non-essential, they would have to disagree with the Consultant that the two criteria are not met.


Member Koneda felt that the wetland has met the essentiality test, therefore, he could not support that portion of the motion.


Member Koneda stated the wetland on the northeast corner is non-essential. He clarified that the development plans were to convert it to a detention basin as well as the detention basin on the west side of the road. He moved to engineering and asked about water retention. He stated it looked like a small area for detaining the water run-off and asked if it would be sufficient?


Ms. Weber stated they require design of detention basins to a ten year storm. She stated the basins in combination are designed to a 100 year storm event. Ms. Weber stated the run-off from the site ultimately goes into Farmington Hills. It goes into a culvert under Haggerty Road. The culvert is only limited to carrying a certain amount of flow. This is why the site is over restricted beyond what the Ordinance requires. She stated there would be no problem with flooding out the neighbors to the east.


Member Koneda again agreed that the wetland was essential and asked again if mitigation was still required?


Ms. Kay answered, yes, for Wetland 1.


Member Koneda asked if the ratio was 2 to 1?


Ms. Kay answered, she had some rough figures. She stated this was the only case that the ratio was so high. She stated there was a no net loss policy where they cannot lose acre for acres. Because it is a high quality, forested wetland system, and there are not a lot like this left in the City and there are some other issues with regard to when you replace a forested system. Any trees that are replaced are much smaller and would take a good forty to fifty years to regain the actual capacity it currently has for wildlife benefits.


Member Koneda stated on-site mitigation was probably impossible especially if the outlot were split off. He stated the building encompasses all of the area east to west and north to south except for the woodlands area. He stated on-site mitigation was impossible unless the outlot could be attached to it. He asked if it would make sense to do mitigation on the outlot?


Ms. Kay stated she already had conversations with the applicant regarding whether or not they had the possibility of doing it off the site and if they had other land available or were looking and seeking to buy, or make arrangements with other developers within the City to do it. She did not say it was impossible to do mitigation on site because they were not yet at that point. She stated even though the Ordinance is against having it in a detention basin area, as of today, the engineers said it still may be possible. She wanted to make sure that if it was an option, she did not want competing uses of a detention basin with mitigation.


Member Koneda thought detention basins were not used for wetlands mitigation. He asked if it were done, would it be proposed to extend the northwest basin southward to make up for the deficiency?


Ms. Weber answered it would be on the outlot and an easement would be required to place any additional amount of basin on the outlot.


Member Koneda asked how many acres?


Ms. Kay answered, 1.20 acres. She stated the calculations of what the applicant is submitting to fill would be about 1.21 at 2 to 1 ratio.


Member Koneda stated the original plan included the outlot, it was his understanding that in the alternatives, they built close to Haggerty Road and switched the usages around. He stated the explanation had to deal with the topography drop of 35’ from the rear to the front which caused a problem. He asked if the testing building ran north to south, therefore was it level?


Mr. Capo answered, yes. He deferred to Bob Leighton to show graphics. He stated the plan was looking at the mitigation alternatives because the original plan showed the detention areas being the mitigation area. He stated they looked at three alternatives. One was the Edison easement that ran along the west side of the property, one was to do some mitigation on the outlot, trying to work around the plan. The third area was to replace it in the system that it is in, therefore, looking to the north to find an area to mitigate that is part of the same system. The one shown was the one that they could control on the outlot.


Member Koneda stated the problem with mitigating to the north or west was that it would not be continuous to the existing wetland. However, if there was a wetland that was in the developers control, that he was willing to enlarge, Member Koneda believed it would be accepted.


Mr. Leighton stated the situation was unique. He stated most of the time when working with a site, the site drains into the wetland which is the low part on the property, he stated this site was just the opposite, the wetland was at the high point and the front of the road was at the lower level. He stated this was a problem. The wetland ranges from 29’ to 21’ in elevation. In addition, the water shed feeding into the wetlands was very little. Giving these circumstances, if the property were developed and all of the wetlands were proposed to be saved, it would bring the building elevation up to 23. The problem is compounded by the fact that drainage must come from behind the building. Mr. Leighton stated the top section starts at Haggerty Road and goes to the west to the property line and there is a ditch adjacent to the road. After entering the site, the parking lot has been sloped up to elevation 6 and the elevation of the first building would be approximately 8. Then it drops to get the drainage around the back of the building. A grade transition is made to get up as high as possible to try to meet grade back further into the site, up to about 18. From there, the parking lot slopes quickly up to 21 with the building elevation of 23, the grade drops down again to take the water along the back of the building. And the wetland sits up at 24. It has no water shed and is isolated from everything else. As you continue on, it drops back down to the second building and then up to the property line. From north to south, it starts at Lewis Drive, comes up to the parking lot, the wetland is at 21 and 24. Essentially by developing around a wetland to preserve it and eliminate the water shed, he did not see the value.


Mr. Watson asked if Mr. Leighton was then saying that the wetland provides no flood or storm control by hydrologic absorption or storage capacity?


Mr. Leighton thought in its existing stage it was at its limit.


Mr. Watson asked about wildlife habitat?


Mr. Leighton stated it was on the edge of an open field and it was kind of a transition zone.


Member Koneda thought the real issue was Item 5 of the essentiality criteria. He asked Ms. Kay if her opinion has changed based on Mr. Leighton’s interpretation of the site?


Ms. Kay understood where Mr. Leighton was coming from. She was hoping to approve the project, she stated she worked hard with the applicant and the only reason it was not approved was because the applicant was unable to get this information to her. She stated this information was not in her hands when she was trying to recommend approval and work out the mitigation. Ms. Kay stated when the Wetland Ordinance was first revised, they made a promise to the City that they were not going to try to save every little puddle, swale, ditch, man-made wetland excavated area, disturbed parcel within the City. She stated they have been very consistent in their approach, they have chosen areas that are of high quality. She stated it was not just a wetland area, that happened to be in the middle of a field and was combined with a high quality woodland area. She explained that this is an area in which the rain water is taken and slowly absorbed so that the overall water shed area is not polluted downstream as it is in the Rouge River water shed district. She stated it is not a puddle. She eluded to the fact that it may be groundwater fed. Usually groundwater fed areas show signs of a spring and it can be on high ground. She politely disagreed with Mr. Leighton with regard to whether it is an unusual wetland. She stated it really was not. She stated it had a small drainage area which is a relative term. She stated the reason for the finger-like projections coming from the wetland was because of high ridges in the woodlands and uplands, which was not unusual at all. She stated the bottom line was that they need to be protected and if they are not going to be protected, then they might as well not be protecting any wetlands in the City.


Member Koneda stated he walked the site and the hedgerows are definitely not worth keeping as Ms. Lemke recommended. He stated the only reason he would be inclined to grant a woodlands permit was because it is essentially the fringe of a larger woodlands area that is being disturbed. Even though it is the highest quality, it is the end of the forested area. This was the only reason he would support it.


In regard to the parking lot, he asked if the excess parking spaces were needed?


Mr. Capo stated he removed about 20 spaces from the original plan. He stated there were a number of employees with visitors, therefore, he had a pretty good sense of the need.


Member Koneda asked if there was any way to take some of the landbanked area and move it down to continue with what is existing and provide truck access on the inside of the area versus the outside. He stated he has seen other sites where the woodlands have been isolated with concrete around it, he would rather not have this situation.


Ms. Lemke stated she wanted to save as much as possible. Engineering wise, she had a lot of concerns about saving that area. She stated it could be looked at but she had concerns.


Mr. Capo stated it was looked at and in the truck turn around area, they end up having a double truck well with an overhead door in the bays that service the proto-type area. He stated there might be the possibility of cutting the truck well back 20’.


Ms. Kay stated if there were any alternatives for the truck well, it would be good to keep continuity between the wetland pocket. She did not think it was the best choice if the wetland were going to be drained. If it is going to be drained, then the focus needs to be put on mitigating properly.


In regard to the road and the 20’ setback, Member Koneda asked if moving the site north 10’, and northeast 20’ would take away the 20’ greenbelt along Lewis Drive?


Mr. Arroyo stated there was the parking lot setback from the front but there was also the requirement to put the berm in, he stated the berm was what was driving the width.


Ms. Lemke stated she would be willing to forego the berm if more woodlands could be saved. She stated the applicant has been presenting that they want to see as much landscaping as possible. She stated if the 40’ were reduced to 20’, they still could get some berming in, or not have a berm at all and put in landscaping.


In regard to the north/south interior access road, the driveway that now separates the outlot from the other parcel, Member Koneda stated typically if it were a public road, a 20’ greenbelt would be required, however if it were an interior driveway, it would not require it. He stated if the outlot stays under the same ownership, could it be treated as just a driveway? In regard to the site, Member Koneda liked the fact that all access to the site was off of Lewis Drive which meant no curb cuts onto Haggerty Road. He stated he would like to see the outlot developed with no curb cut along Haggerty Road.


Mr. Arroyo thought the applicant was proposing to eventually have a connection to Haggerty Road for the outlot. He stated there was a substantial grade change and the outlot could not be connected to the Magna property. The connection between the two properties would have to occur at the southerly portion of the property which would give only one point of access into the outlot if there was no access to Haggerty Road. He stated it would be very difficult to serve the entire development without having some type of connection. Mr. Arroyo stated it has not been looked at in detail as it is not a part of this site plan, however, it appeared that there may be a need for an access.


Member Koneda stated the major concern he had was the wetland essentiality test and the need for mitigation.

Member Watza asked if there was standing water in the areas depicted on the map in blue?


Ms. Kay answered, no, it does not mean standing water throughout.


Member Watza stated he visited the site to specifically look at the trees and wetlands. He found three ponds, one being 25’, one 50’ and one to be about 100’ across but he did not see the watercourse as described. He stated he did see a trickle about 6" wide, running from one of the ponds to another. He did not see football field sized areas of water. He was confused as to why the discussion was about wetlands when he saw what he just described.


Ms. Kay stated the only reason she mentioned football fields was to give a visual object in people’s minds to show that she was not talking about a puddle. She stated the southern end of the site had standing water that was very low. All bodies of water have seasonal middle drawdown, she stated there have been three very dry years and all of the wetlands are just about dry. She stated most of the wetlands in Novi are seasonally inundated. She stated there has been enough drainage in the area from year to year, for a long enough time to erode the areas and make them streamlike.


Member Watza asked Ms. Kay if what he saw on the site was what she recollected to be there currently, in terms of standing water.


Ms. Kay stated the wetlands are dynamic. They will have more water when it rains and less when it is hot in the summer. She stated she was at the site four times from last year to this January.


Member Watza asked if there were pictures of the wetlands available?


Ms. Kay answered, yes, they were in the file at the office.


Member Watza asked her to bring pictures in the future because with the academic discussion, without seeing the water makes it difficult.


Mr. Leighton agreed that the wetland was valuable, it would be protected, but if development were going to be allowed in any section of the property, the wetland would be impacted and become drier.


Member Cassis stated it seems beyond any reasonable doubt, the architect says it is a wetland situation, Ms. Kay described it as good wetlands, he stated he would accept that conclusion. He asked Mr. Capo who owns the parcel?


Mr. Capo answered, Magna MI Developments.


Member Cassis asked why the outlot was not being used?


Mr. Hassik stated when the property was first purchased, they actually planned not to develop it and wait to see how the future activities would evolve. As part of the consolidation of all of the engineering and research in Detroit, they ended up with a strategy where they would have two major research and engineering centers, one in Troy and one in Novi. Part of this strategy was to move the engineering research from two more Magna groups onto the property. He stated this was not originally planned, they were going to locate them in Farmington Hills. He stated they still have that option as Magna has a building there. He stated they wanted to get all of the brain trust on this side of Metro onto one piece of property. The northern piece is the Atoma Closures Group which does car electronics and the larger parcel would be a relocation of a research and development facility from Whitmore Lake which deals with the interior system.


Member Cassis asked if they would be building another building on that site?

Mr. Hassik answered, yes.


Member Cassis asked Mr. Capo if he would have been able to buy Cabot Technologies parcel?


He believed all of the sites surrounding the parcel were not for sale.


Member Cassis stated as he drove along Lewis Drive, clearly the lots were numbered and wooded, he asked what the plans were for them?


Mr. Capo stated that was all part of the Northern Equities development. He did not have any ownership on those sites.


Member Cassis asked who put the buried drain pipe in to connect the wetlands?


Mr. Capo stated no one from his team put the pipe in. He believed that a farm may have done so.


Member Canup called for a vote on the motion.


Mr. Watson stated there were a couple of members who were raising their hands to speak, however a motion to call the question is essentially a motion to cut off debate. He stated it would take 2/3 vote of the body to do so.


Member Canup stated he called for a vote because he felt it had been worn out and all of the points have been made. However, his colleagues have something new that they want to add, therefore, he had no problem allowing them to speak.


Member Richards stated it appeared that because of the elevation, whatever would be developed with a parking lot, a portion of the wetlands would be lost. He stated the trees are in that area, if a major portion of the wetland is lost, would the trees also be lost?


Ms. Lemke had concerns about it. She stated there were trees and understory vegetation and smaller trees and shrubs all along the area. If they lose their water source, it would definitely have an impact on it.


Member Mutch could not support the motion for several reasons in terms of the removal of the Preservation Easements. He confirmed that the area is a Type C habitat.


Ms. Lemke stated Type C is lower quality, however, the fact that it its mentioned at all on the Wildlife Habitat Master Plan makes it a significant habitat.


Member Mutch asked if she felt the quality of wildlife habitat area provided by the combination of the woodlands and wetlands met Criteria 6 in terms of wildlife habitat?


Ms. Lemke answered, yes, based on the designation on the Wldlife Habitat Master Plan and the fact that it is on there at all, makes it a viable wildlife habitat.


Member Mutch asked if the wetlands and the wetland system at that site included the quality of the habitat at that site or have no impact?

Ms. Lemke stated it definitely gives another level to it rather than an upland woodlands, there is also a wetland system, another whole area with a variety of species which will promote additional types of wildlife.


Member Mutch asked how many replacement trees were to be placed back onto the site?


Ms. Lemke stated she did not have a number, she thought about 50 to 100 could be put on the site.


Member Mutch asked for the total number of replacement trees?


Ms. Lemke stated on the first submittal, they would have to replace 598 trees and they are saving about 30 additional trees with the new submittal.


Member Mutch asked how many historic and specimen trees would fall into these categories?


Ms. Lemke thought there were approximately 20 trees that were potential historic or specimen trees within the area and about 10 would be lost due to removal.


In regard to wetland mitigation, Member Mutch stated it was unfortunate that the issue came up because he could see coming around on the project if the issues the consultants brought forward were addressed, however, he could not support the plan without wetland mitigation and conservation easement. He stated clearly it was a quality wetland system, however, it has been very dry. In regard to the woodlands area, he expressed concern with not having a conservation easement over areas where replacement trees were being placed. He stated it left the potential that replacement trees would be torn out in the future because they would not be qualified in the future. He could not support any of the motions as they have been put forth.


Mr. Watson stated both the Woodlands and Wetlands Consultants indicated that they had recommended to provide that kind of easement. He stated he eluded to the fact that the applicant had no problem with providing it and asked if that was correct?


Mr. Capo answered, no. He stated there were discussions about the easements but it was his understanding that even on the replacement tree issue with the easements, any plan that affected it would have to come back to the Commission. He thought if it were on a condition to approve the plan, the applicant would support it for the back corner property.


Chairperson Capello asked if the were to approve it without the conservation easement, would it be alright?


Mr. Capo answered it would be fine.


Mr. Hassik did not believe they were concerned about the conservation easement. He stated they were more concerned about the second building that was not an issue six months ago. He stated if it all could not be accommodated on the site, they would not bring it at all, they would end up putting it in their secondary location in Farmingon Hills.


Chairperson Capello expressed concern over it because he saw that the applicant was tight on the site. If in the future they wanted to bring other divisions and if they have to build into the woodlands that are now being preserved, he wanted to be able to look at it as a Woodland Permit and not have to worry about the applicant getting the conservation easement waived, withdrawn or vacated.







Yes: Capello, Churella, Piccinini, Watza, Canup

No: Cassis, Koneda, Mutch, Richards


Member Cassis stated the reason he did not support the motion was because he had a problem with the wetland situation, he also had a problem with the woodlands. He stated about one month ago, the Commission turned down another project that aimed to take out just as much woodlands as this one. He was worried that the Commission was making a double standard and was worried that there would be problems. He stated the Consultants clearly stated that they had problems with the woodlands and wetlands. Ms. Lemke presented many alternatives that the applicant could have worked on. He did not see any compromises brought forward or taken into consideration. He was worried that in the future, another petitioner would come forward and the Commission would not treat them in the same fashion. He believed that standards were established in the Codes. There were times when the standards could be worked around and make compromises, but he thought erratical change such as this, whereby the essence of the Code is being compromised, puts the Commission in a detriment. He stated there were other lots that the applicant could buy, there were many alternatives. It seemed that whoever owns the entire section was dissecting it into different parts and slowly coming in and obtaining variances. He thought the applicant could utilize the entire area and put their other building on another site.


Member Watza thought it was a problem to have a vote and then have the opportunity for Commissioners to cap off their own views. He stated technically the Commission is not in a discussion mode at this point. He felt the time to have the discussion was before the vote, not after it.


Chairperson Capello explained the reason he extended Member Cassis the extra courtesy was because the Commission was in between a motion to call the vote and letting two more people go on, he stated Member Cassis raised his hand and he was caught in a position where he was not sure if he should call on Member Cassis or not.


Member Watza stated he did not think there was a radical departure. He thought the debate was good and there were some very serious issues, however, this is an isolated woodland/wetland that did not have much wetland that he saw. He thought the petitioner has made every accommodation to put is project on the site in a meaningful fashion, trying to fit within the Codes and Ordinances, otherwise, he would not have voted for it.



Presentation by Community Development Coordinator Heidi Hannan.


Heidi Hannan, Community Development Coordinator recognized Member Churella and Member Mutch for participating in the process and giving input throughout. Ms. Hannan briefly identified the projects that were recommended to the Council. She stated sixteen (16) projects were supported by the Committee for the 2000/2001 budget. They fall under Parks and Recreation, Fire Department and some DPS projects. She stated they were trying to work together with the two Councilmembers on the Committee to create a document that will be helpful as the Council makes their budgetary decisions. Any input that the Commission would like to add was greatly appreciated and she welcomed the Commissioners to call her.


Member Koneda commented that his name was omitted from the document. Secondly, regarding sidewalks in the years 2000-2006. He stated there was a Sidewalk Committee in place that included two people from the Planning Commission and two from Parks & Recreation, the Director of Public Services and the Director of Parks & Recreation. He asked where the priorities came from. He stated the Sidewalk Committee had a policy in place that said they would concentrate the development of sidewalks in areas where the City needed to provide connections for areas where there were interruptions in the service before taking on new developments. The priority was that they would concentrate all new sidewalk developments in the areas of connecting City parks to residential communities because it would be a direct benefit to the community and also to connect schools to City parks or residential areas. He did not see any one of the three that fell into that criteria.


Ms. Hannan stated the information submitted was actually submitted from the Departments, therefore, in some cases it may not be all inclusive of everything that is out there. The Capital Program is trying to obtain as much information as possible, she thought it might be beneficial to invite that group to participate.


Member Koneda stated the reason the Sidewalk Committee went defunct was because there wasn’t any money allocated from the budget from the City for the last five or six years to do any sidewalk improvements, therefore, there was no reason to prioritize them. He stated if it was now something that City Council wanted to consider as part of the Capital Improvement Plan, he thought the Sidewalk Committee needed to be resurrected.


Ms. Hannan stated one thing they tried to do was to put a series of recommendations in the document. She thought Member Koneda’s comments could be one of those recommendations.


Member Churella thought the safety path along Meadowbrook should be renamed to a bicycle path as he stated it tied into the parks. He stated he would like to see that changed.


Ms. Hannan asked for the Commission to formally adopt the CIP for recommendation to the City Council in their budget consideration.




Moved by Mutch, seconded by Watza, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To send a positive recommendation to City Council for the Capital Improvements Program Year 2000-2006.




Yes: Cassis, Churella, Koneda, Mutch, Piccinini, Richards, Watza, Canup, Capello

No: None





Presentation by Planning Consultant Rod Arroyo


Rod Arroyo, Planning Consultant stated the Commission is required by law to keep minutes as part of the Planning Commission action. Mr. Arroyo reviewed some of the basic rules behind why the were being done and some of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.


He stated the minutes had to include basic information such as date, time, place, members present, members decisions, any decisions made including roll call votes as well as indicating the purpose for any closed sessions.


Then each agenda item would be gone through, indicating the motions, vote, whether it was passed, failed or postponed. Statements are also recorded as part of the minutes, statements made by the applicants that are verbal promises in terms of what they are going to do. If there is a statement made on the record by the applicant that may not be clear in the application package, he thought if it were restated in the motion, it would help everybody understand that it is included as part of the findings or as a condition of the motion of approval. He stated there may be attachments to the minutes that become part of the record. Finally, there were important documentation issues. A draft copy needs to be made available for public inspection, not more than eight (8) business days after the meeting as part of the State Law requirement. Once the Commission approves the minutes, it has to be available for inspection within five (5) days after formally approving them. Once approved, the Planning Commission secretary should sign it as documenting it.


Member Cassis asked who currently transcribes the Planning Commission minutes?


Mr. Arroyo answered, Diane Vimr in the Planning and Community Develoment Department.


Member Cassis asked if she authenticated them?


Mr. Arroyo clarified that she transcribes the minutes, but the Planning Commission authenticates them and votes on them as being accurate and true.






Chairperson Capello stated based upon a written letter from Northern Equities and various verbal inquiries by various developers wondering if they had to grant Conservation or Preservation Easements over retained wetlands and woodland areas, the Implementation Committee began to study the Ordinance and have the City Attorney look into the current status of the law. He thought it was time to bring the issue before the Commission because in making decisions, they needed to address whether or not they were doing it properly. He asked Mr. Watson to take a look at it and report back at the next meeting.


Mr. Watson gave more detail of the particular issue.










Moved by Churella, seconded by Mutch, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn the Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission at 9:46 p.m.




Yes: Canup, Capello, Cassis, Churella, Koneda, Mutch, Piccinini, Richards, Watza

No: None




Beth Brock - Planning Assistant



Transcribed by: Diane Vimr

April 13, 2000


Date Approved: April 19, 2000