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REGULAR MEETING OF THE NOVI PLANNING COMMISSION
Meeting called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Chairperson Churella.
PRESENT: Members Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer.
ALSO PRESENT: Planning/Traffic Consultant Rod Arroyo, Staff Planner Beth Brock, Planning Director David Evancoe, City Attorney Gerald Fisher, Planner Amy Golke, Senior Environmental Specialist Aimee Kay, Landscape Architect Linda Lemke, Planner Barbara McBeth, City Engineer Nancy McClain, Landscape Architect Lauren McGuire, Engineering Consultant Victoria Weber
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairperson Churella asked if there were any additions or changes to the Agenda?
Member Nagy added three (3) items to Matters for Discussion: 1) Planning Commission Budget 2) Capital Improvements Fund and 3) Master Plan Update.
Member Kocan added one (1) item to Matters for Discussion: 1) Maybury R.U.D.
Member Shroyer added one (1) item to Matters for Discussion: 1) Further Discussion of By-Law Amendments.
Chairperson Churella indicated that the Commission would vote at 11:30 p.m. to determine whether or not to extend the meeting.
PM-02-01-001 TO APPROVE THE AGENDA AS AMENDED
Moved by Kocan, seconded by Richards, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the Agenda as amended.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-001 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
1. APPROVAL OF OCTOBER 17, 2001 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Chairperson Churella announced there was one (1) item on the Consent Agenda.
Approval of the minutes of the Regular Planning Commission Meeting of October 17, 2001. He asked if there were any corrections to the minutes.
Member Shroyer indicated that the October 17, 2001 minutes needed to reflect that he abstained from voting for the approval minutes. Therefore, he removed the minutes from the Consent Agenda.
PM-02-01-002 TO REMOVE THE MINUTES OF THE REGULAR PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING OF OCTOBER 17, 2001 FOR CORRECTIONS
Moved by Shroyer, seconded by Richards, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To remove the minutes of the Regular Planning Commission Meeting of October 17, 2001 for corrections.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-002 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
PUBLIC HEARING FOR AMENDING THE MASTER PLAN MAP
Receive Public comment and input on whether to amend the Master Plan Map of the Novi 2020 Master Plan for Land Use, so as to classify the land which is a portion of the North Novi Park being considered for transfer in partial settlement of the Sandstone v City of Novi litigation. The amendment to be considered would include a Map reclassification of the land from Community Park to such other classification found to be appropriate by the Planning Commission, and a map or text statement that the land is not required for park purposes by the City.
Rod Arroyo, Planning and Traffic Consultant briefly covered the document titled Proposed Amendment Master Plan for Land Use – City of Novi. He noted the unanimous recommendation of the Master Planning and Zoning Committee regarding the subject property being considered, which is to change the classification of ninety-five (95) acres of the North Novi Park area currently designated on the Master Plan for Land Use to a Special Project Area. On December 21, 2001 the Master Planning and Zoning Committee met and voted to send a favorable recommendation to the Planning Commission to make the change. Mr. Arroyo spoke regarding the planning basis for the proposed action the Commission would be considering this evening. The surrounding area has seen considerable development over the last few years. Using a graphic, he noted the location of Twelve Mile Road at the bottom, Fountain Walk Development, West Oaks II, Fountain West (office and hotel development), Twelve Oaks Mall, Society Hill (approved multiple-family development yet to be constructed), an area along the north side of Twelve Mile Road with previous rezoning requests from residential to office, Carlton Forest, the existing Husky (high tech development) on the south side of Twelve Mile Road, Dixon Road and the North Novi Park area. The ninety-five (95) acres under consideration are designated in two colors: 75-acres shown in purple and an additional 20-acres to the north shown in golden color. (An area that potentially could be part of the proposed settlement, the Sandstone Lawsuit.) These are the ninety-five (95) acres referenced in the report, which are subject to the recommendations that are coming from the Master Planning and Zoning Committee. He noted the road improvements. Twelve Mile Road has been under construction for the past six month and is nearing completion as a four (4) land boulevard, which would eventually extend from across the Fountain Walk frontage; across east of Novi Road and connecting to where the boulevard section currently exists near Meadowbrook Road. He felt it was important to discuss "how we got to where we are today" when speaking of the planning basis for making a change to the Master Plan, specifically the removing of a portion of park land. For example, what was the planning basis for some of the decisions and the standards of the amount of park land that is needed within a community. The City’s 1997 Parks and Recreation Master Plan formed the planning recommendations found within the Master Plan for Land Use. The City has developed three (3) types of classifications for parks. 1) The City-wide parks are the largest and serve the needs of the City as a whole. They are typically accessible via main transportation routes. 2) District parks serve certain sections or population centers of the City. The service area ranges from ½ mile to a 3 mile radius. 3) Neighborhood parks are smaller address serving a neighborhood or several neighborhoods, typically within a ¼ to ½ mile radius. The Parks and Recreation Plan also delineates the community into three (3) different sectors. The North Novi Sector is the area of concern this evening, which is defined as all areas north of Grand River Avenue. There is a need to look at the future population of the community and its need(s) at buildout. The Parks and Recreation Master Plan uses a buildout population of seventy thousand (70,000) people for the City of Novi, which falls within the buildout range of sixty-eight thousand five hundred fifty-seven (68,557) and seventy-four thousand seventy-three (74,073) noted in the City’s Maser Plan for Land Use. The general range of anticipated buildout would depend upon what would occur with the mixed-use properties that could become residential or non-residential depending upon the market. The Parks and Recreation Master Plan appears to be on target in terms of conforming with what the Master Plan for Land Use notes as a buildout population. The North Novi Sector has a target population just under twenty-six thousand (26,000), which is the critical number taken into consideration when reviewing the amount of park land that is necessary to serve the North Sector. The City had adopted standards. The Parks and Recreation Plan was prepared through the Parks and Recreation Forestry Commission and then approved and adopted by the City Council. A City-wide park has an adopted standard of five (5) acres per one thousand (1,000) population. The Plan recognizes that an acceptable standard is 2½-acres per one thousand (1,000) population. However, the City chose to go beyond the "norm" and extend the standard to five (5) acres per thousand (1,000). As a point of reference, he noted the national standards for park land. The American Planning Association (f.k.a. American Society of Planning Officials) standard is one plus acres per one thousand population for City-wide parks. The Heritage Conservation Service, (federal agency) standard is four acres per thousand population. The Urban Land Institute uses three and one-half per thousand population. National Recreation Parks Association uses between five and eight acres per thousand population. The average of these four national standards is just over three acres per thousand population. He restated that the City of Novi uses the standard adopted by the Novi City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission, which is five acres per thousand population. What does this mean for the North Sector and the impact on the North Novi Park Area? He compared the calculations for City-wide parks of the four mentioned national standards with the North Sector buildout population of 25,940. 1) American Planning Association (1+ acres/1,000) calculates at approximately 26-acres or more. 2) The Heritage Conservation Service (4-acres/1,000) calculates at 104-acres. 3) The Urban Land Institute (3.5-acres/1,000) calculates at 91-acres. 4) National Recreation Parks Association (5 to 8-acres/1,000) calculates a range between 130-acres to 207-acres. The national standard average of 3-acres per thousand population calculates to 78-acres based on the 25,940 buildout population. The City’s adopted standard of five (5) of park per on thousand (1,000) population calculates a one hundred thirty (130) acre demand for the North Novi Park area to serve the North Sector of the City. In terms of the North Novi Park area the current Master Plan provides six hundred ninety-eight (698) acres, which is 26.9-acres per thousand in that area when looking at the standard per thousand population. If ninety-five (95) acres were removed, the balance within the North Novi Park Area would be six hundred and three (603) acres, which is in excess (by four times of what is needed) of the City’s adopted standard of one hundred thirty (130). It also gives the North Novi Park Sector (after the deletion of ninety-five (95) acres) of four hundred seventy-three (473) surplus over and above what the City has identified as being necessary to meet the needs of the buildout population in the City of Novi. He concluded with the ending paragraph of his report because it goes to some of the language found in the Municipal Planning Act, which is the basis for the enabling legislation that gives the Planning Commission the ability to make and adopt a Master Plan. It states, "For purposes of achieving the harmonious development of the city and its environs, in light of present and future needs of the City, civic design and arrangement, and the health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity, general welfare, efficiency and economy would all be best promoted, particularly considering the wise and efficient expenditures of public funds, by deleting 95 acres from the Community Park and reclassifying it as a Special Planning Project Area (SP). This land is not required for park purposes by the City of Novi." He noted that in the past the Commission has used the Special Planning Project (SP) area designation for other land within the City. He noted the occurrence with the Novi Corridor Plan (area located in the southeast corner of the Ten Mile and Novi Road), where the Commission did not feel that they were at a position to make a definitive recommendation of what future land use recommendations could be made for that area. Therefore, the Commission gave the area the SP designation.
Glenn Lemmon, City Assessor gave a report indicating the fiscal impact(s) if the land was not used and the settlement was made through a tax levy. Using the Novi Homestead School District Millage Rate, the report indicates the estimated 2001 taxes for a homestead in the Novi School District. A home valued at $100,000 with a taxable value of $50,000 would have paid approximately $1,920. The Chart continues in $100,000 increments through $1,000,000. A home with a $1,000,000 market value and a $500,000 taxable value would have paid approximately $19,200. He noted the first column of the spreadsheet speaks to the consumer price index that is set by the State Tax Commission. In 2002 the taxable value on every property will increase 3.2 percent in the State of Michigan. For example, a home valued at $100,000 with a taxable value of $50,000 would have an increase of approximately $61 and a home valued at $200,000, assessed at $100,000 would have an increase of approximately $123. The Estimated Annual Judgement indicates that a home valued at $200,000 with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay approximately $277.00 throughout the life of the bond issue. Therefore, for that particular home value in the 2002 tax year would have the $3839 paid in 2001 and $400 due as a result of the tax increases due to the mandated 3.2% and the Judgement. It would be approximately a 10.5% increase across the board for all properties in the City. The analysis assumes a 15-year amortization period and assumes that the assessed values and taxable values as the same number. The analysis also assumes that the properties are in the Novi School District, which they are not. He added that the actual Judgement may vary based on the Judgement interest, the bond rates available at the time, the amortization period and other factors. He stated the analysis does not consider any future millage rate increases by the number of jurisdictions that levy taxes, which include the County, the School District, Intermediate School Districts, Community Colleges and the like. He stated the 10.42% could be higher if there were millage rate increases.
Member Kocan questioned the percentage rate the bond was determined and if the bond amount was $70,000,000.
Mr. Lemmon stated that to his understanding the Finance Director compiled estimated figures. He stressed that the figures were speculative because the amount changes daily. He believed the amount to be $70,000,000 with a 5.5% or 6% bond rate. He stated the actual amount would be pending upon what was available at the time a settlement was enacted.
Member Paul recalled the recent school millages passed, three in the summer and one for Special Education in November. She questioned if these were included in the estimation.
Mr. Lemmon stated the estimate of the 2001 Homestead Taxes included the millage rate increases through Oakland Intermediates and the Novi School District.
Chairperson Churella announced it was a Public Hearing and opened the Matter to the Public.
George Krieger, 44920 Bryne Drive – Northville. Mr. Krieger said, "Members of the Planning Commission, good evening. My name is George Krieger. I live in Novi geographically and I pay taxes to Northville schools. I have owned my home in Novi for almost 21-years. I would like to give you a quick background. On September 11, 2001, workers of the East Coast airports were diligently about their business getting passengers to the planes through security and boarding. All routine business appeared just as what we are doing here today. There was also a very passionately intense minority group intent on bringing about a calamity of major proportions. We learned the group with which they were affiliated offered no solutions for the discontent. Only hatred of diabolical proportions. The American Democratic process still leaves the door open for very harmful events to be carried out. Are we here and now poised for a scenario of events with fearful to follow. I understand that no municipality in the nation has thus far faced such overwhelming and disproportionate justice. Yet we do here a small self-centered local group argue peripheral issues according to some hidden agenda and no viable alternative solution to offer. I had the opportunity during the last week to discuss the City’s Resolution authorizing settlement of the Sandstone case with over one hundred of my neighbors and my friends. Together we looked at the alternative. All are in favor of changing the Master Plan and using some of the park land in the settlement. They request this to be done expeditiously to avoid further punitive damages. None are in favor of paying increased taxes. For evidence, they point to the November library millage defeat and our president’s recent remarks when he said ‘more taxes over my dead body’. Many are retired and are on fixed incomes. All are suffering from the economic recession. Some of the people have catastrophic illness in their household with healthcare bills beyond the imagination of the lucky, the young and the healthy. If taxes were to increase in Novi, the City could become the armpit of Serbia. The cost of living could escalate as a result of the direct property tax hit and its trickle down effect. Thank you."
Richard Schwaller, 42109 Roscommon Drive - Northville. Mr. Schwaller said, "I have lived in Novi for 16-years and I pay taxes to Novi. I like Novi and I will continue to like Novi. But I am concerned that a majority of the Novi residents are not being heard and I doubt that a special interest group called the Friends of Novi represents that majority. It appears that this special interest group is on a mission and not responsible solution. When considering at the most 95-acres of 550-acres is being considered for the Sandstone settlement. Let’s not forget that we have a developed park, the South Napier Park, so it is not like we are giving up a developed park. I stress a developed park. Let’s not forget that we have not considered what the cost would be to develop or improve the North Lakeside Park even if we could find the money. Let’s not forget that the cost of this settlement, if not by land transfer can adversely affect the future favorable bond ratings for major Novi needs, like the library, road improvements, schools or park development. Do not let this park issues create a smoke screen that causes future City problems. Do not be influenced by a special interest group that does not represent the majority of the citizens of Novi. Please vote to amend the Master Plan. We will get over the park issue easier and faster than a major increase in taxes. Thank you."
Ernest G. Aruffo, 41772 Broquet Drive. Mr. Aruffo said, "Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, it is a pleasure to be here and speak in favor of the proposed amendment to the Master Plan. I do believe that you are confronted with perhaps the most momentous occasion of any commission, board or council in this City has ever had to make a decision on. Not only that, I think you have had the best preparation, but as one who has been on the Planning Commission, that you have ever received or I have ever received. I think that you are informed and know what needs to be done and what the issues are. I would like to mention that I made a tour myself, because I was part of that original Woodlands Wetlands Commission and Committee that worked on this. I went to the park and walked the trails. On the way I had a funny thing happen. I circled around, I think it was 7.9 miles. At one point I had decided that I had gone far enough and I started back. I reached a point where it was sort of a triple intersection. I chose the one in the center. I went a short distance and I realized that I was not sure where I was. I wondered what would happen if it were another citizen that did not know the directions north, south, east and west. Just then a cross country skier came by and noticed I was lost. She said that she gets lost every time she comes. I told her that I wanted to get back to the parking area and she said it was "that way". I spoke to another gentleman who was on a mountain bike. He lived over at Meadowbrook Road and Ten Mile Road. His contention was that when he comes to the park, he has to put his bike in the car and has to drive his children to the park. There is no way by sidewalk to get to the park. The third person that I spoke with did not even know the park was here. I believe that this park area is the most unused, undeveloped, unknown park land in the City. I do believe if you vote in favor of this, it is not a loss to the park land group. Surprisingly, if this does go this way, there would be a sympathy vote. I could assure you as I assured that gentleman, who said that he did not want anymore taxes, that this City would vote once more as they see their conscious to help the parks be developed. I would like to conclude by saying that there is a pleasure in the woodland path, there is a rapture of the stately pines, there is a society where none intrudes, there is beauty where beauty rules in silence in the forest floor. I love not man the less but nature more. Thank you."
Bob Shaw, 40612 Village Oaks. Mr. Shaw said, "I have 14-years residence in Novi and 9-years on the Parks and Recreation Commission. I had a nice parable to read this evening, because I have to correct some things that you have been told this evening. You have all been receiving information from me in the mail to give you the full amount of information, the full Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the full Wetlands Map, the full Topography and the full story whenever possible. I would like to review those points for you. When we take a look at the park land area, it is virtually all wet. I will make it easier for you. What you see in red on the screen is the upland area. The orange boundary here is what has been considered park. We also have mitigation properties up here. There is not that much park land area that is actually dry where you could walk, bicycle, cross country ski, etc… This is the Sandstone settlement area. But, that is not what you are dealing with tonight either because now, you see that you are dealing with an area that was identified in your proposal that is much larger. That is the significant point here. We have all of that area, a quarter of the section coming out tonight. When you look at what is left, there is roughly 90-acres of upland, out of what has been claimed to be 700-acres of park land. Only 100-acres you could actually set foot in on a regular basis and walk and do other recreational activities. It is disjointed and it is difficult to get around. What we are supposed to have in Novi is this. This is the original park plan that was developed in 1996, which some of our City Administration denied existence in front of Judge McDonald. That is what we are supposed to have; a park. What happens? This area down here, which is the major part of our park is gone under Sandstone. This area up here, which was supposed to be a secondary park, is gone because of wetland mitigation. All we have left is this tiny area here, 40-acres including all of these woods that we would be calling a community park? When you ask about 700-acres and say that it is a surplus, I am sorry, but we only have 90-acres left if you do this. We will have a deficit again. We will have a deficit again and people will have to pay money. When we heard about the tax increase, you said that 10%, 2/3 of that was from this proposal and 1/3 from regular increases, 7% and consider that Novi has the sixth lowest tax rate. It is money, but when we look at Novi, I do not think that is as much as you want to worry about. When Mr. Arroyo speaks in regard to standards, here is a standard, which ranges from 8-10. He only gave you one part of the standard. We have deficits in park areas everywhere else. This land has always been decreed by the Parks and Recreation Commission to make up for that standard. That is an old standard. This says to do a study. You know what the studies say? The studies say that people want more open space and they want more park land. That is what you have to consider tonight. All of the facts. There is no surplus of land in North Novi Park. Five hundred you can not even set foot in. Two hundred, you could set foot in. If you do what you plan to do, we would only have one hundred well dispersed acres. Thank you.
Larry Papp, 46000 White Pines Drive. Mr. Papp said, "Three years ago our Judgement was $33 million dollars. Today with all the interest that has accrued, we the tax payers owe Sandstone $70 million dollars. As we wait for another appeal, $100,000 per week of interest accrues. This information was presented to our City Council on January 7, 2002. Here we are three days later owing an additional $20,000 a day in interest for a grand total of $60,000 for this week. Tomorrow it will be $80,000. Friday it will be an additional $100,000. Count on a three year wait for an appeal and we will end up owing Sandstone $150 million dollars. If your home is worth $200,000, you could count on $9,000 for 15-years or an additional $600 per year. If you home is worth $400,000, you could count on $18,000 for 15-years or an additional $1,200 a year. Did you know that we end up paying twice? The Novi merchants will pass the cost onto us. This is a no win situation. Do we give up a fraction of park land or do we burden our tax payers with the additional taxes and risk forcing citizens out because they could not afford the taxes? As tax paying citizens in the City, we are asking that the Novi Planning Commission remove the designation of park from the fraction of land that the City wishes to transfer to Sandstone as part of the Sandstone Judgement. If our tax bases increase, who in their right mind would want to do business in Novi and who would want to move to Novi? Thank you for your time."
Kim Haynes, 24449 Willowbrook. Ms. Haynes said, "I have been a Novi resident since 1993. I am actually up here as a parent and looking at the quality of life of Novi. Since I have lived here, roads and traffic are terrible. I think that with regard to the settlement, I think that as a civic lesson to our children we should cut our losses now. Not do the transfer of property and pay what the Judgement is now. We would no longer add $20,000 a day. I do not like paying taxes, but it has to be done. Let’s hold up for our children the future and get through. I would like to get on the record, the case that was before Judge McDonald on December 11, 2001 Sixth Judicial Circuit Court (Oakland County) Friends of Novi Park vs. City of Novi. The ruling of the court: ‘This matter is before the Court on the City of Novi and Sandstone Associates’ request that the Court approve a settlement provision that calls for the City to sign over 75 to 95 acres of land currently part of the area referred to as North Novi Park to Sandstone for the development of a residential community. The Home Cities Rule Act, MCLA 117.5 (e) states that, ‘No city shall have the power to sell any park except where such park is not required under an official master plan of the city, unless approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon at any general or special election.’ This Court has already ruled that the transfer of the property to Sandstone as part of the settlement of a multimillion-dollar judgment constitutes a sale within the meaning of section 117.5. Thus, the remaining question for the Court to decide is whether the land at issue was included within the master plan itself and the history involving the land designated as North Novi Park. To make its determination, the Court first looked at the master plan itself and the history involving the land designated at North Novi Park. The land was initially acquired pursuant to an August 30th, 1993 resolution of the Novi City Council, which condemned a portion of the land at issue, because it determined that, quote, ‘It is necessary to develop said property for park land and public recreation and said development was necessary for the use and benefit of the public,’ end of quote. After the acquisition of the park land, the City Council, by resolution dated January 9th, 1995, stated the following: Quote, ‘Whereas the citizens of Novi approved a 9.9 million dollar Recreation Bond issued in January of 1993, and ‘Whereas, the City of Novi has acquired over 500 acres of new park land for the long-term benefit of our community, and ‘Whereas, over 400 acres of this property was assembled in north-central Novi as a large contiguous park site, and ‘Whereas…" Chairperson Churella interjected to inform her that she had reached the 3 minute limit.
Daniel Harrison, 28803 Nine Mile Road – Farmington Hills. Ms. Harrison said, "I am an instructor at Henry Ford Community College and that is the capacity that I would like to speak to you in tonight. A few years ago in 1997, Henry Ford Community College, Eastern Michigan University and six area high schools (including Novi HS, Cass Tech HS, Gross Pointe High and three others) were the recipients of a $2.3 million dollar national science foundation Grant to develop a curriculum for the teaching of Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.), which is one of the most powerful land use planning tool that has come down in many years. I partnered up with Novi High School, where we used North Novi Park as our laboratory/classroom. Do not just think of it as a park. It is a place where the kids went out and did water sampling, used data from the amphibian study done by the Friends of the Rouge and aerial photography. Let the people decide."
John Haynes, 24449 Willowbrook Road. Mr. Haynes said, "I reside on the east side of Novi where there is virtually no park space for our children. We were looking toward this North Side space as a park space target for our children. There is West Side park space but, without a major commute, it is not accessible for most of the East Side Residents. Thank you for the consulting work that you have provided. I think it points out a very clear fact that in the midst of all the growth in that area, you have a gem that you need to preserve and use for the citizens of Novi. That area is rapidly disappearing. There is a quality of life issue that I think that you need to recognize. You would not have to worry about having people to pay taxes if you could not attract them to a good quality of life. That includes a well rounded park system. Let me continue with the reading of the Judgement, "…Whereas, over 400 acres of this property was assembled in north-central Novi as a large contiguous park site, and ‘Whereas, this property will be a major component of the entire City of Novi Park System and great care and foresight should be of the utmost importance in determining what recreational uses will be planned for this area. ‘Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Novi City Council directs the Novi Parks and Recreation Commission to begin the master planning process for this property, ‘Further, be it resolved the Parks and Recreation Commission will consider all possible recreational uses for the property by conducting public hearings and soliciting citizen input, and ‘Be it further resolved that the Parks and Recreation Commission report back to the Council within ten months,’ end of quote. In addition, the Novi 20/20 Master Plan for Land Use, (Defendant’s Exhibit7), on page 3 sets forth the plan’s goals and objectives and stresses that the plan will not materialize overnight. On page 62 of the plan, the plan states that the North Novi Park Area is no longer recommended for residential land uses due to park development and wetland mitigation plans. No residential density was recommended for this area. And on page 129, under Citywide Parks, North Sector, the plan states that the City should continue the planning process to determine future development of newly acquired property such as North Novi Park. Next, the Court reviewed a section of the Parks and Recreation master plan which sets out a capital improvements schedule, which for the year 1998 sets a cost of $200,000 for Phase II construction designed for North Novi Park, a strong indication that the area was required for park property. Finally, the Court reviewed the resolution dated October 15, 2001, which states that, quote, ‘It has been discovered that portions of the 75 acres and the 20 acres referenced in the settlement, which are part of the property acquired for park purposes, are contaminated. With regard thereto, the City Council makes the following findings: ‘Based upon a particular contamination, and all the surrounding circumstances, it is found that such property is not needed, and may not be suitable to retain for park purposes. Moreover, in view of the fact that, in terms of the City’s Master Plan, such land is merely the subject of study and therefore not required for park purposes in the Master Plan, and has not been developed for park purposes, and has not been committed for development for park purposes, and further considering that the transfer that would be ordered by the Court would not be a sale but a transfer ordered by the Court in partial satisfaction of the Amended Judgment, the Council will seek a determination by the Court, in the case to be settled, or in a new case to be filed, as determined by the Council at a later date, that no provision of a constitution, law or Novi City Charter would prohibit the transfer of the 75 acres or 20 acres as part of the settlement,’ end of quote. Lastly, the Court reviewed the applicable case law, namely…" Chairperson Churella interjected to inform him that he had reached the 3 minute limit.
Luanne Kozma, 23837 W. LeBost. Ms. Kozma said, "Last May the Novi Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously on a priority listing of capital improvements for the City’ parks system for inclusion in the new Master Plan. The old plan from 1997 is no longer considered current by the D.N.R. The highest priorities were buying more park land, planning for North Novi Park and ADA improvements. The City’s non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as has been discussed at Parks and Recreation meetings this past year, (because of the failure to make an ADA assessment of the City Park Facilities) is the only thing that has been holding up the completion of the new Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Communities currently use standards of ten acres per one thousand people. The City Attorney is asking that you only look at the old standards of 2.5 and 5-acres per 1000 residents and not current standards or current practice. The only reason that they are so-called ‘surplus’ is because the City Master Plan applies an old obsolete standard. Take a look at this chart of acres of park per thousand residents in other cities around the country. You could see that Toledo has 8.3, Detroit has 6.2. Why would Novi think that 5-acres per thousand is okay? Or 2.5? It is too bad that our City Master Plan uses old thinking, but I think that it is incumbent on you to look at what is currently used as standards whenever you make a decision regarding land use. Adding water retention ponds into the equation and calling it park land has never been done in the City Master Plan or in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and could not be done now by the City Attorney. While it is still green on the Master Plan Map, this land has already been taken out of consideration from any potential use as park land by its development as a water retention facility. The City of Birmingham with a population of not even twenty thousand people this fall passed a $25 million dollar bond for parks. They are going to purchase an eight acre park with it. This would be like Novi, with our current population purchasing $60 million dollars of park bonds. Using park land to settle this lawsuit is problematic for other reasons. Some of the land was bought by eminent domain, such as the Mitchelle piece, which has a clause that allows the former land owner to seek additional compensation; the Gasier property was bought using CDBG funds Federal Funds. It was only because the Friends of Novi Parks lawsuit that the City even knew about this. On November 27th the City contacted the CDGB office to remove this 5-acre parcel from the Sandstone settlement. The alternative is to pay back a lot of the fees and the cost of the land at the current value. I see no mention of that in your packets tonight. Apparently the Gasier property is removed from the area being considered tonight. It would seem an arbitrary decision for the Planning Commission to remove all of this land here in yellow from park land designation while maintaining that this piece should remain required park land. Please keep the park land designation.
Angie Bruder, 195 Pleasant Cove. Ms. Bruder said, "In listening to some of the comments tonight, I am a little shocked by the people that come up here and say that those that do not want the park traded away are selfish. They are a special interest group with a hidden agenda. I think if I were selfish, I would be home taking a bubble bath, but I am here because my agenda, which I will make plain. Looking at Novi 100 or 200 years from now, to have a large portion of land where you could go and feel like you have gotten away from it all, see wildlife and see native plants would be a huge amenity for Novi. At that time, everything that is not designated as park will probably be paved over and developed. When I think about what a Master Plan is supposed to be, I think it is supposed to be a force that holds the City back from developing everything. There will always be a financial crisis around the corner. I do not think that we should be taking park land off to bail the City out of a financial crisis. I see the Planning Commission as people who are looking at the long term welfare of Novi. This prime property has woodlands and wildlife. I see it as valuable and I am asking you to keep it. Thank you."
Patrick Downey, 26030 Clark. Mr. Downey said, "Twenty-eight years as a Novi resident owner, I have directly benefited from one capital improvement. Our road was paved. Unfortunately, I was included in a special assessment and billed $5000. In those 28-years, our City Officials, having moved from mobile offices to Tajamahl have spent hundreds of millions of dollars at an alarmingly increasing rate. The fiscal year 1996-1997 they spent $46 million. Three years later 1992-2000 the total was $52.7 million. These numbers do not include schools and education. I have not seen last years numbers. This year’s calendar only provides gibberish, showing us how much our taxation value is growing. That information makes me ecstatic. I am sure that the working conditions, salaries, benefits, equipment, office furniture and the retirement fund of our City Employees have vastly improved. That is good. The shopping and dining out opportunities are not endless. Twenty-eight years ago there was Dave’s Hamburgers. I as an individual homeowner am no better off, and as a retiree can not afford to maintain park land that I have not walked on and probably never will. When considering the fraction of land being given up in lieu of higher taxes, this debate seems impractical. To keep the land in order to appease a selfish minority who apparently can afford higher taxes is even more ridiculous. Give up this land and get on with it. Thank you."
Lee Mamola, 44700 W. Nine Mile Road. Mr. Mamola said, "Good evening members of the Planning Commission. I have been before this body for the past 16-years representing clients as part of my architectural practice in town and 4-years before that as a member of the Planning Board. I know the history of the Ordinances and the Master Plans in this community. I would like to speak tonight as a homeowner and as a business person. As planners, you must consider the overall recreational uses in this town. If this Court lawsuit proceeding were to proceed and we paid these millions of dollars, the impact of that would likely be, at some point in time during the payoff period, the loss of the Links of Novi. A 196-acre golf course, which serves very much a strong need of certain segment of the recreational uses in this community. As a golf course open to the public it is also a resource of considerable revenue to various service organization, not only throughout Novi but also throughout Southeast Michigan. It benefits many of the kids in the community. The Rotary Club for example has raised over tens of thousands with golf outings at that location, that were directly given to Novi High School students over the years. In a quick response to comment that I heard earlier. There is a gentleman here at the Ten Mile/Meadowbrook Road area that said that he could only go the north end to see a park. Maybe that was his choice, but there is a wonderful park at Nine Mile near Meadowbrook Road called Novi Rotary Park with much of the same geographical features that people think that they are giving up tonight. A lady spoke about her concern for her kid’s future. It is estimated that I may end up paying a hundred to two hundred dollars a month extra in taxes. I wish I had the hundred to two hundred dollars a month for 15-years to put away for my kids college education. Whether it is our kids or our grandkids, they will be impacted everyday on this decision. I urge you to please amend the Master Plan as planners when you consider the overall impact and especially to 196-acres of golf course development open to the public in this community. I think you have reasonable rational to base your decision. Thank you."
Andrew Mutch, 24541 Hampton Court. Mr. Mutch said, "Tonight you are being asked to sanction the destruction of over 100-acres of park land. Park land is a valuable resource that could not be replicated in our City. Even worse, it would destroy the integrity of remaining park land. What you are being asked to do tonight is make a decision that has every thing to do with politics and nothing to do with good planning. Some people have spoken tonight about that political aspect and have spoken about what the majority might think. I do not know what the majority thinks and no body else in this room does. But I do know that this is a political decision that belongs before the voters. The voters approved the purchase of this land and they should approve the sale of it. There is no planning basis for this decision. It is completely arbitrary. The showing of the exclusion of the Gasier property demonstrates that this is an arbitrary decision. How can this land be left for park land using all the criteria that you developed while the rest is changed? After you exclude the wetlands, storm water retention areas, mitigation areas and the settlement area there is no surplus land left. It has been shown that park land is needed in this area. I noticed that Mr. Arroyo never referenced the need for District Park land that is shown in the Master Plan. Never entered into the equation. Judge McDonald reviewed all of the information and he made his finding. He found that the land was required for park use. The reality is that there is very little land left in Novi that is suitable for parks or acreage. There is none in the north end and developers control it all. Most of it has already been approved for development. From a planning perspective, nothing has changed since 1999. We knew when we approved the Master Plan about the commercial development, Multi-Family Development and Twelve Mile Road. In fact at the time, the City was purchasing land along Twelve Mile Road and asked us to include it as part of the park. When we drafted the Master Plan, our City Planner never stated that the property would be better used for another purpose. What kind of precedence would we be setting? What would protect our parks in the future? If a developer came before this commission and made the argument that through litigation they were forced to make a big pay out and their big asset was their land, would we change the Master Plan for them? No. However, tonight we see the rush to approval. No planning information was presented at the Committee meeting. No studies of the impacts on the roads, utilities, wetlands, woodlands, schools or wildlife habitat was presented this evening. What is the point of the Special Planning area? You know that if you approve this, the settlement moves forward. What is there to study? You should take time to study this issue. You should look at all of the current development and the current statistics. You should use all of the facts and not just the selected facts that have been presented to you. Make a decision based on that. Not a decision based on political pressure, or emotions, but on the facts on the planning issue that you as a Planning Commission should do. Take the time to study it deliberately. Thank you."
Brian Smith, 42434 Park Ridge. Mr. Smith said, "I am a 17-year resident of Novi. I would like to start by saying that I am member of a special interest group. It is called Democracy. From the beginning I thought that we should have a vote on this matter. We were told at that time that there was not time for an election and it would not happen until January. It is January now and we could have done it in October. The Friends of Novi Park actually moved up the hearing and that would not have happened until the last Friday before Christmas without our lawsuit. What is not stated in the resolution, you have a quote from the Court Order that says that the Commission has to change this to a different designation. The other option was a vote and that was conveniently left out of your package as far as I could tell. "The land is not suitable for a park due to its proximity to Twelve Mile Road." Will this be the fate of the rest of the park when the development is up to 12 ½ Mile Road? Then will we move it to Thirteen Mile Road? Until we end up at the Walled Lake border? Should New York City develop Central Park because it is in an intensely urban area? I do not think so. There is not development plan now that the golf course has been rejected. The Parks and Recreation Commission has been reviewing the area to find another use for it. While that is taking place, it has been developed for other use by volunteer organizations working with Parks and Recreation. There are trails out there to use. The standard of 2.5 acres per 1000 population for this type of park, just because it is a standard, does not mean that it is necessarily acceptable. We can have more. If we are a premier City, then maybe we should think about it. I would like to close by saying that you have been asked to changed the designation to a future study area or a Special Planning Project Area. As Mr. Mutch stated, you know what will happen if you approve this. If you approve it, you should approve it as what will be done to it, High-Density Residential and Commercial. At least stand up and be honest about what you are doing. You know it, we know it, say it."
Patricia Holt, 45409 Addington Lane. Ms. Holt said, "Do I only have three minutes although I am representing a group?"
Chairperson Churella answered, five minutes.
Patricia Holt, 45409 Addington Lane. Ms. Holt said, "I would like for you to first write down a number, 1500. Remember that number tonight. In regard to the most unfortunate situation that the City is facing in the settlement of the Sandstone lawsuit, we are disturbed by the media description of a park land give away. None of us that represent the silent majority want to give away anything much less park land. We are also disturbed by the dirty back door politics going on in Novi. We realize that this judge gave us two options. One of the options was to hold a special election and one of the options is for this Planning Commission to alter the Master Plan. How could anyone say that this is backdoor politics when a judge has given us the specific option and the way out of settling this? He has actually given his blessing in the means by which to go about doing this. There are three reasons why the silent majority in Novi feels that we should not send this to a special election. 1) We can not hold a special election until March. This would definitely jeopardize settling the Sandstone lawsuit. 2) The cost of the Novi taxpayer, simply to have the election is $35,000. We are accruing interest at the rate of $20,000 per day. The Friends of Novi have already cost the Novi taxpayers $1.8 million dollars based upon 90 days. As we wait for the March election, we continue to accrue interest at $20,000 a day. 3) We do not need a special election. In January of 1993 a special election was held to decide whether or not to buy this park land. One thousand two hundred thirty-five (1235) people voted in this election. Seven percent came out and voted. I have here, in one week, in freezing weather, 1500 signatures that say resolve it, alter the Master Plan and move on. Let’s settle this. If these 1500 people chose to be here tonight, we would fill this room eleven times. If all of us spoke for three minutes, we would be here until Saturday night at midnight. But they have chosen not to do that and have asked me to speak and present these to the Planning Commission. We do not need a special election because we just had an election on November 6, 2001 that dealt with these very issues. Chuck Tindall, who happens to be a nice man, put his name out there as a candidate to run for mayor on the platform that this was wrong – that we were trading park land to settle the Sandstone lawsuit. Mr. Tindall got 239 votes. Mayor Richard Clark made it well know publicly that he was in favor of trading the park land to settle the Judgement. Mayor Clark got 5507 votes. Thank you." Ms. Holt presented the petitions to the Planning Commission.
Lynda Racey, 24740 Taft Road. Ms. Racey said, "I am an attorney and a 12-year Novi resident. I would like to speak to you briefly about the legal side of the decision that you are being asked to make. I am sure that you have been told that the law allows you to amend the Master Plan and remove a portion of North Novi Park in order to allow the City to proceed with the Sandstone settlement. You have probably been told that certain cases have been decided that give you a green light to remove that land from the Master Plan without consequence. I am here to tell you that there are two sides to every story. As you know the Home Rule Cities Act, which protects specifically parks and cemeteries, prohibits the sale of park land required under the City’s Master Plan without a vote of the electorate. Judge McDonald has already ruled that North Novi Park is clearly required as a park under the Master Plan. But now you are being asked to remove it as if by waiving your magic pen, you could suddenly make North Novi Park not a park. As if the people that use the walking and biking trails suddenly will not need them tomorrow. As a city that has a deficit of Citywide parks yesterday could magically have a surplus tomorrow. This is exactly why the law requires a vote of the people because it should be the people that decide whether the park land should be sold. In the cases that have been decided, for example Nash v. Grand Rapids, the Court said that the planning commission’s decision was not arbitrary or in abusive discretion. In that case, the land was a zoo and was going to stay a zoo. The planning commission used these reasons for justifying its decision. It said that the release would not result in a loss of the use of the zoo, it would not have a detrimental effect on the neighborhood, it would accomplish a long term goal of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. You on the other hand are being asked to release from the Master Plan a portion of the park that would result in the loss of use of that land. It would have a detrimental effect on area neighborhoods. It would fail to accomplish the goals of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which encourages developing existing park land, not giving it away. Your decision will not be like the one upheld in Nash. Your decision will be political against sound planning principles and would arguably be an abusive discretion. Those of us that want to preserve the park are not against the City resolving a case of Sandstone. We do not want higher taxes either, but we are against the City acting in a manner that circumvents the law. Even if you personally support the settlement, as a planning commission, you must take into account the intent of the law of the State. Clearly law makers wanted voters to have a say in the sale of park land. By removing a portion of North Novi Park, which is almost all of the usable portion of the park, without an in depth study of the impact on the citizenry of Novi, you are circumventing a law and acting in an arbitrary manner. Do not let the suggestion that by calling the settlement a study area you will have say later in how that land is developed. That would be between the lawyers with a consent judgement. This is not sound planning no matter how you look at it. Do not be pawns. You do not have to do this. A vote to keep the area as park land is not a vote against the settlement. Rather you put the ball back where it belongs with the City Council and the Administration. They can decide whether to pursue the matter further by putting it to a vote of the people as the law requires. Thank you."
Larry Czekaj, 24383 Nantucker Drive. Mr. Czekaj said, "As of 7th of next month, I will be a 15-year resident of the City. I am here before you and I could argue both sides. I am impassioned by both and I think as mad as everybody else. The matter is before you because right, wrong and different decorum have provided that as an option that is here today. I trust that within your own due diligence and the assistance of Council that you would be able to make your own judgements. If you chose to, as one suggested, break the law by voting to change designation, then so be it. I am sure that you are doing it with the full advice of Council. I hate to rain on anyone’s parade and I respect everyone that has come up before you on both sides. I am more concerned of certainty of action and the realization of long term goals. Specifically, if you decide today to change the park designation, there is certainty in that decision. That certainty is that you would be complying with the requirements of the District Court order and thus allowing the City to go through with the contemplated settlement with Sandstone. If you chose to not change the designation today, that leaves us with taking this matter to the people to find if a millage would pass. The question that no one has seemed to answer with any degree of certainty (no one really can) is what is the chance of that millage passing? If the Novi library is any indication, then that millage would probably not pass. That would leave us to Sandstone if they chose to stay in the "ballgame" with the settlement, working out some other type of arrangements. If Sandstone decides that they would pursue the judgement then they would wait out the appeal. If they are successful on the appeal, Council would advise the City and the residents here today as to what it means to exercise up against one’s property when one has a Judgement. I do not know what the answer is in particular. It may very well be that this park land may be susceptible to a legal taking in satisfaction of that Judgement. If by chance the vote of the people does pass, to which a Judgement Bond would be successful. Then the questions are what would happen to long range plans and the development of that park. I believe that it is hard for us to believe with any degree of reasonableness that the City will find itself in a position to donate any meaningful and sizeable funds to the development of that North park. I have been here since 1997. I voted with great degree of excitement for the park millage way back when, and since I have been here, in the last 8-years, nothing was done with that park. It is merely a passive park. That is not what I intended and I trust that other people would not do so. If the Judgement Bond is passed, it trust that we would go for another 8 –12 years without any meaningful development and that it is what it is today. I would suggest that people go to Metro Parks and Maybury State Park and if they are looking for woodlands in their backyards, then they could go out there and buy a new home and pay for that personal privilege. Thank you."
Bill Hunter, 24000 Devonshire. Mr. Hunter said, "Amen on the previous speaker and his perspective because his perspective is where mine is as well. I am supportive of the park land being used to settle the Sandstone situation. As he had mentioned, I do not think this is the venue to seek out legal advice, statistical advice or advice of any sort that would be used to make a Judgement other and to get a sense of the populations, opinions and the emotions surrounding the purchase of the park land originally and where it stands today. I am certain that you have done your work and are prepared to make a decision and hopefully the thoughts and comments of what you hear tonight would be supportive of that decision. My own personal observation as being a 8-year resident is that I could not afford a $1200 membership to a piece of property that I would likely not visit. I visited that property to buy Christmas trees the first 3-years to support the Parks Department when they were trying to get cash flow. But to place $1200 worth of burden on me and many others in this community, for those few that need two thousand people per acre ratios of space to find themselves, I think is ludicrous. I look at this situation no differently than I run my personal finances. I would certainly hope that the City would understand it as well. Park land is a luxury. Park land in all of the greatest sets. You could look at all of the quality information about the quality of life and the meaningfulness of this park land to its residents and drawing them here, all 40,000 plus that have shown up in the last 10-years. I could tell you this, I have personally been in these parks and I have never crossed the paths of a person. I am on 700-acres of what they are saying 10% would be given away and the balance is not even usable. Why would you buy that land in the first place? I do not know the numbers and I may be generalizing in my assessment of the situation, but you are giving away 10% of the acreage of the 700 acres? What did you buy it in the first place? So that I could stand there and look at it from afar and enjoy it? I could still manage that with the situation that is left. I am sure that we could some how recoup some assembly of a passive park and I am sure that it would be just fine for someone who needs that particular luxury. I can not afford it and I do not think that the City can either. I hope that you have done your homework and are prepared to make the correct decision tonight. Thank you."
Mary Muller, 45460 Addington Lane. Ms. Muller said, "I am a 15-year resident of Novi. I have three children and we have used North Novi Park and its trails. I think the intentions of the parks group are very noble, I feel that they are short sited and very narrow-minded. They talk about protecting the future for our kids. Ideally we would preserve every acre of park land in the City, but this is reality. In 1996 when we developed what should have happened with North Novi Park, I am sure that they did not anticipated the shamefulness mismanagement of City business by our previous City Manager, which led to this situation in the first place. We talk about the condition of the parks today. Who is leading our Parks and Recreation Department and why are they in the stated that they are in after so many years? I have been here for 15-years and I have not seen much happen either. I think that that has been a problem, but we are talking about reality. Reality is the long term effects of not amending this Master Plan have a lot more to do with City economics than green space. Novi is a huge transfer community, especially with the auto companies. Someone coming here from anywhere in the United States with one week to buy a house. They may have houses shown to them in Rochester, Novi and Farmington Hills. How would they make their decision? Do you think that they would see a tax bill in the City of Novi and chose to move here? It will lower property values and make this a less desirable city to move to. It will hurt business and again hurt us as residents. We will ultimately bankrupt the City. It has much more to do with economics than green space. Ideally we use parks and I would like to keep them, however realistically we need to look at the big picture and the long term effects. We need to look at every resident in the City and we think the future of the City would be like if we do not amend the Master Plan. Cut the losses, get it done with and move on. Thank you."
Mark Zarsmski, 43388 Ashbury Drive. Mr. Zarsmski said, "I am an 8-year resident of the City. I have talked to twelve people, co-workers that live in the City of Novi slightly different demographics than a lot of the people in the audience tonight. Of them, eleven of the twelve had expressed a strong opposition to changing the designation of the park land. They felt that the tax increase was trivial compared to the tax increases by the School Districts and that most residents of the City would be able to handle it. Also there is a general consensus amongst the smaller group that taking away park land would impact only the residents of the City. If it were done through a tax increase, then it would be shared by the business community also. I urge that we allow the vote of the people ultimately. I hear a lot of people, myself included, that they represent this or that group and that they know the majority. Let’s have an election and find out what the real majority of the residents of the City want to do. Thank you."
Charles Bietler, 22085 Heatherbrae Way. Mr. Bietler said, "I moved to Novi when there were less than 10,000 people. We did not have as many parks, but we had a lot of open spaces. It seems like there are an awful lot of people talking about kid’s future, park land, City of Detroit having more parks than Novi. I would not go to a City of Detroit park. It seems like we are still coming down to keep the park land and raise the taxes for all of the residents or give away some portion of our parks and keep our taxes. However, this is a decision that unfortunately you are going to have to decide tonight. I do not envy you. I would not want to be in your position. If I had to vote, I would vote to change the Master Plan, give away the park land and keep our taxes at the rate they are. Thank you."
Scott Silvers, 24740 Taft. Mr. Silvers said, "I am also a member of the Friends of the Park Group and I can sympathize with the situation that you are here with tonight. It is unfortunate that the City Council is asking you to make a decision to take the heat off of them. I could not stress enough the importance of this situation being resolved with a vote of the people of Novi. It is the people of Novi who originally got this park and they should have say in deciding whether to get rid of it or not. I am a taxpayer, I am a voter and I would like to keep my right to vote on this issue. Thank you."
Glen Bonaventura, Novi. Mr. Bonaventura said, "It seems that we have two groups of people here tonight. We have those that would like to preserve the park and people that would like to not increase our taxes. I am with neither group. One side the people that would like to keep my taxes down are making comments against those that would like to preserve the park, that because of their lawsuit, they increased the settlement. Also, I believe the first speaker used an analogy that these people are terrorists of some sort? I have not heard any comments from the tree huggers against the tax savers, but I would like to say that both sides are right. Those that want to preserve the taxes should get organized and pay attention to what is going on in the City. I have lived in the City for 26-years and I served on this Planning Commission for 3½-years. Those that are asking to preserve the park, I would like them to stay involved and pay attention. When 70% to 80% of the people do not vote in this City, it is a damn shame and this is what you get. The real story behind this is ugly. The decision that you have to make tonight is your baby. The Master Plan is the Planning Commission’s document. I have listened to Rod Arroyo. When I first heard that it was coming up in front of you, I was wondering, this is going to be sweet, what kind of spin are they going to put on this? How could they possibly make a land use decision and mention a lawsuit? Rod put a beautiful spin on it and it was great. I applaud you. He did his job. Now you people have to do your job. You can not consider the lawsuit in this decision to amend the Master Plan. It is not right. I expect this to pass and everyone to be happy. But, I expect one of you, maybe two to do what is right. The hell with the lawsuit. The hell with the park. This is a change in the Master Plan. If you can not justify this change by using land use issues than you are wrong and you are not taking your job seriously. Many of you recently took an oath to be on this Planning Commission. Take it seriously. Thank you."
Mark Adams, 1737 E. Lake Drive. Mr. Adams said, "I was reading through the proposed amendment to the settlement. I was opposed to the golf course because of the huge chunk of land is overwhelmingly wetlands. There is not a lot of usable land on this property. If you remove this quarter section of land from the park, there is not a lot of land left over. I know that we went through the acre arguments when the golf course was proposed. My objection to the golf course was that the golf course was anticipated to use 180 of the 185 buildable acres. This would have eliminated any other park uses. The figures they are using that stated we need 130 acres of park land for that park and anything else is a deficit. I think that you should consider what is usable land. A sheer mountain face would not be usable land and a lot of that property is wet. I do not believe that there are 130 acres of usable land. We have some new tax numbers, from when this was originally proposed to Council. The math I had was $100,000 SEV would cost $237, which came out to $0.65 a day. To me personally, it is worth $0.65 a day. From a planning perspective, it is terrible. It will cause a domino effect. There will be commercial and High-Density Multiple from Twelve Mile Road and Taft Road down to Novi Road to Fourteen Mile. The PUD agreement calls for an old Northville Downtown in Sandstone and now we are going to double the commercial. I believe that we will end up with two Meijers and a Home Depot. Other uses for the Twelve Mile Road frontage include a waterpark, community pool, club house, picnic areas, skateboard park, bank facilities, adventure golf driving range, concert facilities, trail system, soccer, baseball…" Chairperson Churella interjected to inform him that he had reached the 3 minute limit.
Chairperson Churella asked if there were other audience participants to speak to the matter. Seeing no one he closed the Public Hearing and turned the Matter over to the Commission for Discussion.
Mr. Arroyo stated that in the interest of brevity as part of his presentation, he indicated that he did not spend a lot of time talking about wetlands. However, since the issue was raised by a number of speakers, he addressed the matter. He indicated that he is a City Planner and is not a Wetland Expert. However, wetland specialists have prepared a Wetland Map, which has been adopted as the City’s Wetland Map. He noted the wetland areas are identified in blue on the City Wetlands Map. There are six hundred ninety-eight (698) acres in the total North Novi Park area that is designated on the Master Plan for Land Use. Of this amount, three hundred thirteen (313) acres are shown on the Official City’s Wetland Map as being wetlands. The City had created approximately twenty-seven (27) additional acres with wetland mitigation. Combined there are three hundred forty (340) acres of wetlands. Based on the City’s Wetland Map, when this amount is subtracted from the total 698-acres, there are three hundred fifty-eight (358) acres of non wetland area. According to Official City documents, if ninety-five (95) acres are removed, then there would be a balance of two hundred sixty-three (263) acres net non-wetland. This is approximately equivalent to ten (10) acres per thousand (1000) population within the area, which is roughly double the City’s adopted City Standard of five (5) acres per thousand (1000).
Member Richards announced that he would briefly summarize the correspondence. He noted that some of those who corresponded had also spoken.
John Foley, 24930 Delmont Drive, supported the changing of the Master Plan.
Edward, Youmin and Vivian Lee, 43094 Sandstone Drive, support the changing of the Master Plan.
Rob Mitzel, 698 Canyon Drive – Ohio, previously served on the Planning Commission supported not changing the Master Plan.
John W. and Dorothy J. Crawford, 30915 Jasper Ridge, supported the changing of the Master Plan.
LuAnne Kozma, 23837 W. LeBost, supported not changing the Master Plan.
Joseph G. Toth, 22734 Chestnut Tree Way, supported the changing of the Master Plan.
Bob Shaw, LuAnne Kozma and Lynda Racey furnished a copy of the Judge McDonald settlement. He noted that these individuals spoke and were not in support of changing the Master Plan.
Hometown Observance Newspaper supported not changing the Master Plan.
Chris House, 1341 South Lake Drive, supported not changing the Master Plan.
Angelo Carcone, 24450 Kings Pointe Drive, supported not changing the Master Plan.
Brian Barlett, 45737 Jaslyn Lane, supported the changing of the Master Plan.
Paul and Maryanne Mitchelle, supported not changing the Master Plan.
Gerald Fisher, City Attorney spoke in regard to what is not at stake at the hearing. 1) The hearing is not about whether there should be a functioning North Novi Park. Regardless of the action taken in the matter, there will be a North Novi Park with at least three times the acreage designated by the standards in the Master Plan. There was an illusion to standards, which he believed were referred to as modern standards. The Planning commission must take into consideration the official standards that have been adopted in the Master Plan, which incorporates the Parks and Recreation Plan. That Official Standard is five (5) acres per thousand (1000) population. He stated that it is not eight (8) or ten (10), yet it is five (5). Using this standard, he described the worse case scenario as having three times the acreage officially designated in the Master Plan as being required. He stated that everything else is expressly designated as surplus in the Master Plan. 2) The hearing is not about whether park land has been official. He noted that he was present throughout the entire deliberation at both this meeting and the City Council meeting. He did not recall hearing any body testify or state that park land is not desirable or beneficial. However, there has been recognition of the extraordinary circumstances that are being faced that simply can not be ignored. 3) The hearing is not about good verse evil. He stated that everyone is familiar with the idealistic good verses the idealistic evil. However, he noted that they are faced with a real world problem and need a real world solution. He stressed that these points are not what the hearing is about. He addressed what he felt the hearing was about. The State Law and the Master Plan guide the Commission in their decision making. The State Law has a number of standards addressing purposes for amending a Master Plan, which are, for the most part, planning issues. He recalled Member Nagy motioning to add the consideration of Capital Improvement Study to the agenda. He noted that it is part of the function of the Planning Commission, to take financial matters into consideration. The Michigan Municipal Planning Act (statue that guides the Commission) particularly Section 7 gives points to guide the Commission. The plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated adjusted and harmonious development of the municipality and in accordance with present and future needs to best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare. He stated that these are very broad terms, which take into consideration the making of choices. Mr. Fisher added that when a choice is made there are consequences. The Commission needed to determine what the consequence would be both in the short term and long term. He noted that many of the statements addressed some of those points. He referred to another statement in the act, which indicated that the Master Plan shall be as directed by State Law shall be made and amended taking into consideration the wise and efficient expenditure of public funds. He stressed wise and efficient expenditure of public funds. He explained that this requires the Commission to determine how their choices would bear upon the expenditure of public funds in the City. The Commission would need to measure that based upon the consequences, in this particular matter of leaving the Master Plan in its present form as compared to amending the Master Plan as it has been recommended by the Master Plan Committee. He stated that this was the choice that needs to be made. He restated that the circumstances may be more extraordinary than the City has ever faced in its history. The Judgement, with interest and cost, is now approximately three times the amount of the annual budget for the City. As mentioned, the Judgement is rising daily. He stated that there was no way that the lawsuit would be finally resolved without the Judgement amount rising to at least five times the annual budget. He stated that the Commission’s action is not precedence for how they would respond to a developer on a fifteen (15), twenty (20), one hundred (100) or two hundred (200) acre parcel that has a particular problem. He could not imagine anything else that would come before the Commission in the future that would be of extraordinary circumstances to measure up to this situation. Therefore, he advised that the Commission’s discussion must take into consideration the City as a whole, including those that have a particular interest in this park land and on behalf of all the other stake holders in the City. He advised that based upon the points he read from the State Statue, the Commission would have to weigh all of these conclusion in light of what is a wise and efficient expenditure of public funds and the consequences of their reaction in that regard. Based upon his experience in the discussion process over the last ten months, he clarified to the Commission that the property has not been arbitrarily selected for use in the settlement. A settlement requires two sides. He stated the property was demanded if the case was to be settled. There are no other assets to use to settle the case. He stressed that there are not other choices to make. Thereby being a solution if the case were to be settled without taxing everybody in the City. He recalled discussion regarding land being acquired by condemnation and the Court making a specific finding. In that regard, the Court held in its Order, entered with the Court on December 11, 2001, the Court finds that there is no prohibition upon the transfer of the so-called Mitchell property, that had been purchased under the power of eminent domain by the City. The Court finding: that the property had been acquired in good faith and may now be transferred consistent with State Law. He noted the State Law is particularly cited. He stated that a deaf ear should not be turned to those that are advancing a position that they believe in. However, he stressed that a focus on the matter needed to be kept and the "real world" problem that plagues the City could not be ignored. In view of the stakes that face the City, (not only in the immediate time, but, in the long term future), the debate can not focus on personal preferences. Instead, it needed to be approached from the public interest of all. Therefore, he stated that the discussion should move from personally criticizing or attempt to turn public opinion against one another to selflessly identifying and pursuing what is best for the City in the short and long term. The mission of the Planning Commission tonight is to utilize their planning skills, as it relates to the issue at hand, legitimately in light of the extraordinary circumstances present. The Planning Commission has the needed tools, which include the relevant facts related to this proportion of the park (in light of the standards formally made part of the official Master Plan); the purpose of the Master Plan; an analysis relative to the wise and efficient expenditure of public funds (taking into consideration the choices facing the City); guidance provided by the experts; and the input received at the hearing this evening. Mr. Fisher stated the five (5) acres acquired by Block Grant Funds is not included in the map of the land to be transferred. Although it is lawful and permissible to include the parcel, it would require a potentially large expenditure of public money to repay the Federal Government for the portion of the land purchased with Block Grant Funds. (The property was purchased only in part with Block Grant monies, but that portion would have to be repaid). All things considered, it was concluded that it would not be economically cost effective to utilize that land when other land without that "price tag" could be utilized. Mr. Fisher indicated a Resolution was included with the commissioner’s packet. He indicated that should the commission decide to act to adopt the Master Plan, the he stated that contains a number of findings and conclusions. The attachment is the same map, which was attached to the resolution that the Commission adopted to set this public hearing. He noted that the map was also utilized for notice. He described the Planning Commission body as the navigator to the ship Master Plan who must guide the City through the waters of this important issue, but it must be done so recognizing the storm of catastrophic proportions.
Member Paul noted her interest of the park group’s involvement and the amount of citizens present at tonight’s meeting. She stated that she has children in the City and is thrilled to see those that are interested in improving any park land for the children and the future of the City. She noted her concern about Fountain Walk’s appearance in the community. She felt it would be difficult for any future park land to develop with the view of the Fountain Walk Development. She noted her concerns of traffic flow and safety on Eight Mile. Likewise, the traffic on Twelve Mile Road is very fast and she felt that a park in that area would be detrimental. She stated that Power Park was safer. She believed a structure in front of the property to protect the children in the community and a development at later timeframe (when more finances or better situation were available) would be in better safety of the children and hopefully then they could improve the park land.
Member Kocan recognized the difficulty of the situation due to the amount of emotion. However, she noted that they needed to look at the facts. She noted that in her review of what was required from the Judge, past litigation and the commission’s criteria for determining Master Plan Amendments, she derived a list of the items she found in the materials. As she reviewed the Resolution, she stated that the items she noted in the materials were also found in the Resolution. The park land is not required, which is stated in several areas. For example in the June 2001 report from the Parks and Recreation Commission speaks of eight (8) acres per thousand and there is still a surplus. She recalled Mr. Shaw’s statement that there are one hundred acres of useable park land that would remain and another audience participant indicated there would be no useable park land remaining. It could not be both. She noted the comment indicating the water areas as park land because they are used for studies. The citizens have spoken. The Parks and Recreation have received feedback from the residents indicating they wanted it to be a passive park, which is what it is now and would continue to be. She agreed with Member Paul regarding the intense development on Twelve Mile Road. Member Kocan stated a passing park area abutting Twelve Mile Road with all of the subsequent development (since 1997) was not as amenable as a passive park area. She stated that while the arguments regarding placing the matter to a vote is an option that the City should and could review, it is not a decision of the Planning Commission. It is a decision of the City Council. Therefore, those arguments should be addressed to the City Council. She noted that there are other nearby parks. She did not feel Citywide parks should be viewed as fulfilling the needs of District Parks and Neighborhood Parks because they are different interpretations. If one is required to drive five (5) miles, it is not a neighborhood park. Therefore, she did not feel the issues should be combined. She added that there is a surplus of Citywide parks. Therefore, she supported the motion unless she heard further from the other commissioners.
Member Shroyer felt it was a tragedy that the Citizens and Taxpayers of Novi have been saddled with a horrific problem, which was created by former employees and elected officials. None the less, the Commission must review and decide how to offset the burden that has been cast upon them. Over the past several months, he stated that he personally spoke to a multitude of people throughout the City in this manner. He noted that he has listened in on a few of the same people here making presentations to the City Council. He thanked those that were sharing their opinion. He thanked the City Officials and the members of Friends of Novi Park for the provision of the multitude of literature, which he noted he read all of it. After reviewing the literature, after hearing the voice of the Citizens and the Taxpayers, he noted that he was convinced that the vast majority were in favor of expediting a settlement on the issue with as little cost as possible. Therefore, Member Shroyer was in favor of changing the Master Plan to allow the City to move forward on the matter. If it does go through, he encouraged Mr. Aller, Parks and Recreation Department, Forestry Department and the Commission to pursue the possible purchase of additional park lands within the City limits or outside the City limits on property abutting the City’s property line that could potentially be annexed into the City. He recalled hearing the statement that there is no other usable land within the City limits. He stressed the City could look elsewhere. He added that a lot of residents visit park lands outside the City location. He encouraged the City to explore relocating (to another park) the wildlife observation tower, which was built by a young citizen as an Eagle Scout project. He felt that Master Scott Boyd should be asked to assist in finding a suitable location and to ensure proper site preparation and reconstruction.
Member Ruyle indicated that he sat on the Parks and Recreation Commission during the time the millage was sought for the purchase of what is now the Northern Park and the active park land located at Eight Mile and Napier Road. He recalled one park and recreation commissioner, Miss Racey, who was opposed to the development of a golf course on the park land. Later, the Citizens decided they did not want a golf course, which was their right as citizens. However, the land was purchased to be an active park by the Parks and Recreation Commission, with the exception of one commissioner, Miss Racey. He noted his respect for Miss Racey and her opinions. He described Miss Racey as an intelligent lady who knows what she is talking when it comes to a "tree hugger". Member Ruyle noted that his vote at that time was for an active park land. He believed that it could have been an active park land. However, the Citizens voted it down, which he felt was okay. He believed that land remained available in the northern part of Novi. He urged the City Park and Recreation Commission to recommend to the City Council to pursue buying other park land in the northern part of the City where it is available. There is park land to the west, although it is South Lyon Township. He stated if the land was located along Napier Road, it could be annexed after the purchase. Member Ruyle stated that Novi could be made what it should be. Therefore, he noted that he would be supporting the removal of the park made into a designated area.
Member Nagy requested that Member Richards to open the packet and read the 1500 signatures into the record.
Member Richards read, "We the undersigned support the City Council’s effort to settle the Sandstone Lawsuit and request that the Planning Commission amend the Master Plan."
Member Nagy felt that the City Council and the Planning Commission were being faced with a difficult decision. She stated the City Council did the best that they possibly could under the circumstances. She believed that all the Citizens who came forward, both at the City Council and the Planning Commission meeting, to express their views were greatly appreciated. Member Nagy noted that she greatly appreciated their expression as well. She was moved by the fact that 1500 signatures of those in support of amending the Master Plan were gathered so quickly in a short period of time. The Planning Commission has received a large amount of material regarding the issue. Therefore, she felt confident that the commission was prepared of the issues. Unfortunately, the matter has become an emotional issue in the City, which is not what the Commission will decide. She stated that she was in favor of the amendment.
Member Markham agreed in the difficulty in the decision. Although no body wants to give up park land, she noted the overwhelming debt, which the trade of the park land would settle. She noted the concerned citizens, whom she has spoken to personally by phone and in person. She added that she has read every piece of paper that was sent to her. In additions, she noted her review included the City’s Wetland, Woodland and Wildlife Habitat Map, Nash v. Grand Rapids, the examination of the walking and cross country ski trail maps, walking on the property and the careful consideration of all available information. She stated that although her appointment to the Planning Commission is new, she was not new to the issue. She indicated that she previously served on the Planning Commission and in 1995 served on a subcommittee to the Parks and Recreation Commission. She noted that with active children, she utilizes the park system extensively. She noted that she personally evaluated and participation in the building of both Boy Scout Eagle projects that took place in the Novi North Park the previous summer. She agreed with Member Shroyer in that if the Master Plan is amended the City should help Scott Lloyd move his bird observation tower because it was built in good faith without the knowledge of this decision. Member Markham noted the letter from former Novi City Councilmember Rob Mitzel, who encouraged the Commission to consider the question from a planning perspective and to keep the political and economical questions from overwhelming the Commission’s analysis. She noted that former Planning Commissioner Glenn Bonaventura also advised the same. She stated that she has attempted to do this. The question, which she considered and placed before herself while evaluating the facts, was "Is this piece of property integral to the overall park strategy for this City?" In looking at the Master Plan, she noted that park land falls into one of three categories, Citywide, District and Neighborhood. Using the 5-acre/1,000 resident standard, the figures on page 30 of the Master Plan and a population projection of 74,000 residents she calculated that Novi has a 350-acre surplus of Citywide park property, a deficit of 82-acres of District Park and a deficit of 54-acres of Neighborhood Parks. Subtracting the deficits of District Parks and Neighborhood Parks from the surplus of Citywide Parks calculate an overall surplus of 214-acres of park land in the City of Novi. There would remain a surplus of 119-acres of overall parkland after proposed settlement relinquishing 95-acres. Strictly from a number standpoint, there would be adequate parkland to serve the residents with the removal of the 95-acres. She felt that whether the parkland is in the correct location to serve the residents is a different issue and it is not under consideration. She stated that additional questions from a planning perspective are "Is the park land in question of great value relative to its quality?" "Does it harbor important wildlife?" "Does it have significant Wetlands, which are important to water quality?" "Is it accessible to the residents?" "Will it be developed as a park to serve the residents?" She stated that the parcel is the southern most piece of a approximately five hundred (500) acres of contiguous park land. The northern most piece of which is Lake Shore Park on Walled Lake. The parcel in question is an undeveloped piece of property abutting Twelve Mile Road and adjacent to commercial and industrial property. It contains some medium cover woodlands and some wetlands, but in contrast with the property to its north, it is fairly open. It is quality upland, as pointed out by Mr. Shaw, and very buildable. She felt was the reason it was agreeable to Sandstone. From a planning perspective, Member Markham preferred to see developers use this type of property and not disturb the Wetland and high quality Woodland. If the parcel were removed from the Master Plan designated park land, she believed that the overall integrity of the North Novi Park, (created by the 1993 Bond monies and connected to Lake Shore Park), would be maintained. As pointed out by Mr. Arroyo, the City’s Wetland Map shows a "good amount" of usable land in what would remain as City-owned property. For example, eighty percent (80%) of the existing hiking and trail system would remain on City-owned property. Therefore, she felt that the parcel in question is not integral to the overall park strategy for the City. Instead it is a luxury that the City can no longer afford. She stated that there are those that believe that relinquishing the parcel would be a detriment to the future of the parks in the City. However, she believed the opposite to be true. Instead, the residents would be asked to give up an average of twenty dollar ($20) a month to preserve a piece of property that most of them would never use. Particularly if it is never improved to the level required to make it accessible. She felt that it was highly unlikely that the residents would be willing to fund other parks and recreation initiatives in the foreseeable future. She concluded that the park system is not what it should be to serve the residents as indicated on the Master Plan. She felt that efforts and dollars should be concentrated on providing better parks in neighborhoods where the residents could utilize them. She challenged the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council to take the issue seriously and put in place a real plan that could bring recreation throughout the City and not just for the few that live near undeveloped City property. Member Markham stated that based on her analysis, it is her intention to support a motion to amend the Master Plan.
Member Canup stated that planning commissioners are not elected. Therefore, any action taken could not be misinterpreted as political. He did not believe that any member of the commission was running for office or intended to in the future. He asked the City Attorney if the property was re-designated if then the "deal would be sealed’.
Mr. Fisher indicated that if the Master Plan was not amended, the "deal would not be sealed". However, if the Master Plan were amended and the Resolution adopted tonight, then the issue would move forward and pursue the finalization. He noted that at the end of September, an understanding and concept were reached, which were disrupted with the delay that has been caused. He noted the plans to meet on Friday, should the Commission find it fit to pass the Resolution, in the hopes of attempting to reach accord on all issues.
Member Canup questioned if the Resolution/Master Plan Amendment represented the total cost of the settlement. He clarified if there were items and issues beyond this decision that would cost the Taxpayers money.
Mr. Fisher stated that if he was referring to a requirement for the creation of the tax monies that they are now not paying the answer would be no. He stated that there would not be new taxes imposed on the City that they are not now paying. He stated there would be a necessity of replacing a portion of the bonds. In this regard, there was testimony in the Circuit Court by the City’s Bond Council that the ultimate burden on the City would be lessened as a result of that replacement because the bonds that would be purchased would be a limited liability rather than general obligation. Consequently, the general indication is that the tax burden would be less.
Member Canup clarified if he was indicating that the bonds that are maturing would be replaced.
Mr. Fisher stated if the bonds that were utilized for the purchase of the park property are not called, then those that purchased the bonds would be taxed, when the bonds were purchased as tax-free. Therefore, they need to be called and replaced with other bonds.
Member Canup clarified if they would be replaced with lower cost bonds.
Mr. Fisher indicated that they would probably be lower cost due to the current state of interest rates.
Member Richards indicated that his comments might be repetitive to those commissioners that have already spoken, however, they are what he believes. The property is being viewed as a land usage. Most of the properties in the vicinity of the strip are commercial. Based on the information presented, he noted the surplus of park land. He suggested that because it would be close to Twelve Mile Road, which would be widened, it may provide a buffer to the actual park land. He felt it would fulfill the need for a park north of Grand River Avenue. He recognized that the issue is a concern for all the residents of Novi. He stated that those that he has spoken with have expressed a general concern. Member Richards stated that based on the information presented, he would support a change in the Master Plan. He felt that it is an action that needs to be taken at this time.
Chairperson Churella noted his previous experience with similar situations in his "business life". In those experiences, he has found that the "deal that is on the table" is typically the best deal. He described it as a situation where a lot has been said, a lot of people have spoken and none with an intricate part. He felt the Commission should take the "deal on the table". Chairperson Churella stated that he would be voting positive to change the Master Plan.
PM-02-01-003 TO ADOPT THE PROPOSED RESOLUTION APPROVING AMENDMENT OF THE MASTER PLAN MAP AS PRESENTED WITH ALL OF THE COMMENTS ON THE RECORD
Moved by Nagy, seconded by Canup, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adopt the proposed Resolution approving Amendment of the Master Plan Map as presented with all of the comments on the record.
Member Ruyle requested that Mr. Evancoe or Mr. Fisher read the Resolution into the record.
Mr. Evancoe read the Resolution: "STATE OF MICHIGAN COUNTY OF OAKLAND CITY OF NOVI PLANNING COMMISSION RESOLUTION APPROVING AMENDMENT OF THE MASTER PLAN MAP RECITATIONS: The Planning Commission is aware that a substantial money judgment was entered in favor of Sandstone against the City of Novi, and that, with costs and interest, the judgment now approaches $70,000,000.00. The Planning Commission has been advised that: the City has worked for some ten months toward a resolution that would contemplate a non-cash transfer to Sandstone because the City does not have the cash to make a meaningful offer; after an extensive review of all City-owned property, the only available property that satisfies the needs of Sandstone represents a portion of the area designated on the Master Plan map as North Novi Park; and that, after holding a public hearing, the City Council adopted a Resolution of October 15, 2001, approving the concept of a settlement that would include a transfer of a portion of the areas designated on the Master Plan Map as North Novi Park to Sandstone. The City Council’s Resolution contemplated that a request would be made to the Oakland County Circuit Court to approve the legal aspects of the settlement, particularly relating to whether the transfer of the land to Sandstone was permissible under the Home Rule Cities Act. The City Administration proceeded to the Circuit Court to seek judicial approval of the legal issues presented. After a full hearing, the Court entered an Order on December 11, 2001, which held that, while most aspects of the settlement concept were approved, in order to provide the full approval of the Court, the following action could be taken: If the City’s Master Plan is amended so as to reflect a designation of the property to be transferred in a manner other than "park" . . . it is the determination of this Court that, without further action on the part of any party, the land in question may be transferred as contemplated in the [City Council Resolution of October 15, 2001] in conformance with MCL 117.5(e) [the Home Rule Cities Act]. The Planning Commission, desiring to consider whether to amend the Master Plan consistent with the holding of the Judge, as quoted above, scheduled and noticed this time and date for a public hearing to receive public comment and input on whether to amend the Master Plan Map of the Novi 2020 Master Plan for Land Use ("Master Plan"), so as to re-classify the land shown and described on the attached drawing, which is a portion of the North Novi Park being considered for transfer in partial settlement of the Sandstone v City of Novi litigation ("Land"). The public hearing was conducted on this date in accordance with the notice. On December 21, 2001, the Master Plan Committee of the Planning Commission held a public meeting, and, after receiving public comment, and deliberating as a Committee, approved a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the full Planning Commission for approval of an amendment of the Master Plan so as to delete the Community Park designation from the Land, and to reclassify the Land as Future Study Area. Having given due consideration to the public comment and input received at the public hearing on this date, and having considered the report from the City’s Planning Professionals on this matter, the Planning Commission makes the following findings: The Planning Commission has taken into consideration the previous surveys and studies performed in making and amending the Master Plan. The Planning Commission has studied the Land in light of the conditions and future growth of the City. The Planning Commission’s consideration has been made in light of the following standards and provisions made and incorporated as part of the Master Plan: The Master Plan incorporates the Parks and Recreation Master Plan ("Parks and Rec Plan"). The Parks and Rec Plan (p 42) states that a recognized standard for the amount of park land that should be provided in a community is 2.5 acres per 1,000 population for the respective type of park. Novi actually doubled the amount of land contemplated by this recognized standard, and plans for five acres of park per 1,000 population. The Parks and Rec Plan (pp 45, 51), and the Master Plan itself (p 30), point out that, with this doubled standard, the 471 acres of park land area for North Novi Park represents a surplus of some 341 acres. By simple mathematical calculation, the Parks and Rec Plan and the Master Plan specify that 130 acres of park land for North Novi Park are required. The City has acquired additional property since the 471 acre number was included in the plans, and, now, there are some 670-695 acres which appear on the Master Plan Map in the North Novi Park area. This means that there are now 540 surplus acres according to the standards officially recognized and incorporated into the Master Plan, and officially adopted by the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission. The proposal to amend the Master Plan contemplates the reclassification of only a fraction of the total area now classified, and would leave well in excess of 400 acres of surplus park land in the area. At this point, there is no stated requirement or intent with regard to either how the Land will be developed, or where the development will occur. Quite the contrary. The Master Plan (p 129) specifies that, "The City should continue the planning process to determine future development of newly acquired property such as North Novi Park." Thus, while golf course use had been rejected by public vote relative to this Land, no particular use is now designated in the Master Plan, and no particular area has been designated for development on any part of the 670 – 695 acres, with the exception of the thirty acres designated as Lakeshore Park. The Land is situated adjacent to Twelve Mile Road, and, there is intense development and use on Twelve Mile Road in the immediate proximity of the Land, thus rendering the Land less desirable for park purposes as compared to the remaining contiguous acreage now classified for Community Park on the Master Plan map. For purposes of achieving the harmonious development of the City and its environs, in light of present and future needs of the City, civic design and arrangement, and the health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity, general welfare, efficiency and economy would all be best promoted, particularly considering the wise and efficient expenditure of public funds, by deleting the Community Park designation from the Land, and reclassifying the Land for Future Study Area, or, Special Planning Project Area (SP). In addition to such reclassification, it is the report of the Planning Commission that the Land acquired for park purposes need not be retained for such purposes, and the Land should be made available for use other than park. NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED that, based upon the foregoing findings, the Master Plan is hereby amended by deleting the Community Park designation from the Land, and replacing such designation with a designation of "Future Study Area", or "Special Planning Project Area" (SP), with the clarification that the Land is not classified for "park" purposes, and such "park" designation of the Land is released, intended to be in full satisfaction of the requirement specified by the Circuit Court in the Order dated December 11, 2001, noted above. IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that such Future Study Area or Special Planning Project Area (SP) designation on the Master Plan map shall be marked with an asterisk (*), which shall correspond to a new Note 5 on the Master Plan map that the Land is not required for park purposes by the City. IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that this action is taken, in part, with the view of satisfying one of the two conditions specified by the Circuit Court, as noted above, in light of the extraordinary circumstances of the litigation and judgment currently facing the City. Although the findings and conclusions of this Resolution are deemed to be valid and independently supported, this action of reducing available park land has been presented to, and is taken by, the Planning Commission in light of such extraordinary circumstances."
VOTE ON PM-02-01-003 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
2. ZONING MAP AMENDMENT 18.616
Public Hearing on the request of Ken Albers to rezone property located in Section 10 on the south side of 12 ½ Mile Road and west of Novi Road from RA (Residential Acreage) to RM-1 (Low Density Multiple Family Residential) or any other appropriate zoning district. The subject property is 4.63 acres.
Mr. Evancoe stated that the petitioner’s request of a rezoning of 4.633 acres of land from R-A, Residential Acreage to RM-1, Low Density Multiple Family, is in accordance with the Master Plan for Land Use. He stated that no site plan has been submitted for review at this time. However, the petitioner has indicated a desire to develop the land in conformance with the requirements of the RM-1 zoning district. Using graphics, he noted the two existing residences located on the property. The proposed property is currently zoned R-A and is completely surrounded by a RM-1 Zoning District. Thereby being a reason for finding the rezoning request to be acceptable. Adjacent land uses include: Carlton Forest Condominiums directly to the west and Society Hill Apartments would eventually be constructed to the east. He noted that a request to Multiple Family Residential RM-1 would be consistent with the long range Master Plan Map. The site is developed with two houses and their associated accessory buildings. It is served with public water. Sanitary sewer does not currently serve the site. He stated that fifteen (15) notices were sent to all property owners within 500 feet of the subject property. No neighborhood concerns have been brought to the City of Novi’s attention regarding this project. He highlighted the Key Findings. The requested rezoning from R-A to RM-1 is consistent with the recommendations of the Master Plan for Land Use. The requested rezoning is compatible with the existing and approved land uses of adjacent properties. He indicated the significant natural features that would impact development of the property. He noted the subject’s site falls entirely within the Core Reserve Area, which is indicated with a red line on The Wildlife Habitat Map. The Regulated Wetlands and Watercourse Map shows that the property contains a small wetland to the very southern portion of the site which is part of a larger, off-site wetland area. The Regulated Woodlands Map shows that the entire site is Light Cover Woodland. Mr. Evancoe indicated that the Engineering Staff determined that it would be possible to extend sewer to the site from 12 Mile Road, along Dixon and 12 ½ Mile Road. Alternatively, future development may be able to connect to sanitary sewer through an adjacent developments depending upon the timing of such developments. A Traffic Engineering Review indicated if the property is rezoned as proposed, then weekday trips would increase from twenty-nine (29) to two hundred and ninety-nine (299). He made the commission aware that 12 ½ Mile Road is currently a 16-foot wide gravel road. Therefore, at the time of development, the 12 ½ Mile should be rebuilt and paved to a width of 36 feet to meet the City’s standard for a collector street. However, it would not need to be addressed until the Site Plan Process. The Staff recommends an approval of the rezoning request.
Member Richards announced that he received one (1) correspondence.
Ronald L. Bear, 4400 W. 12 ½ Mile Road, indicating his approval of the proposed rezoning.
Chairperson Churella announced it was a Public Hearing and opened the Matter to the Public.
Debbie Bundoff, Novi and Twelve Mile Road, questioned why Novi was considering to bring sewers up Dixon Road when the site is surrounded by other multiple developments, Carlton Forest and Society Hill. She noted that these developments are in the sewer district for that area. She suggested tying into the two lines.
Ms. McClain indicated that there are no current sewers in Novi Road. Instead there is a partial stub, which would be available by Dixon Road. She stated that at the Preliminary Site Plan Stage the applicant would need to investigate how to bring sewer to the site. She noted that this could include going through the other properties, which could be more cost effective if it is available.
Chairperson Churella clarified that there is not a need to make this consideration at this time. He clarified further that the issue was one that would be addressed at the Site Plan Approval Stage.
Ms. McClain answered, correct. She clarified further that the issue is not if there is sewer available nearby. Instead there is not sewer available at the property boundary.
Chairperson Churella asked if there were any other audience participants to speak to the matter. Seeing no one he closed the Public Hearing and turned the Matter over to the Commission for Discussion.
Member Canup felt the request was bringing the property in conformance with the Master Plan. The Master Plan was adopted a year ago. He did not find any reasoning for not sending a positive recommendation to the City Council.
PM-02-01-004 IN THE MATTER OF ZONING MAP AMENDMENT 18.616 TO SEND A POSITIVE RECOMMENDATION TO THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE REZONING OF 4.63-ACRES FROM R-A (RESIDENTIAL ACREAGE) TO RM-1 (LOW DENSITY MULTIPLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL) BECAUSE IT IS IN CONFORMANCE WITH THE MASTER PLAN FOR LAND USE.
Moved by Canup, seconded by Richards, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: In the matter of Zoning Map Amendment 18.616 to send a positive recommendation to the City Council for the rezoning of 4.63-acres from R-A (Residential Acreage) to RM-1 (Low Density Multiple Family Residential) because it is in conformance with the Master Plan for Land Use.
Member Kocan stated that because the area is entirely in the Core Reserve Area and the rezoning process does not take a site plan into consideration, she hoped that a rezoning would not insinuate that forty (40) condominium units would be permitted to be constructed on the site. She asked if this was correct.
Chairperson Churella indicated that only the zoning being considered at this time. He stated the Site Plan would be reviewed during the Site Plan Process.
Member Kocan made the petitioner aware that although they have stated that their intent is to develop forty (40) site condominiums, it may not necessarily be "pan out" that way.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-004 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. RIDGEVIEW CENTRE SP01-51
Consideration of the request of Ridgeview Centre, LLC for the approval of the Preliminary Site Plan. The subject property is located in Section 12 at the southeast corner of Thirteen Mile and Cabot Drive. The developer proposes a three story office building on a 4.949 site. The property is zoned OST (Office Service Technology).
Mr. Evancoe stated that currently there is no development other than the two residences located directly to the east. However, he noted the proposed project, Millenium Technology, located directly to the south, which was likely to come before the commission at the January 23, 2002 Planning Commission meeting. He indicated that the proposed property is entirely surrounded by OST zoning and is indicated on the Future Land Use Map as planned office. He added that the use would be compatible with the Land Use Plan. The petitioner has requested approval of a Revised Preliminary Site Plan for a sixty-five thousand nine hundred thirty-eight (65,938) square foot three-story office building. The site is currently served with public sanitary sewer and public water. There have not been any neighborhood concerns received regarding the project. Landscape: The landscape plan must be revised to comply with the OST screening requirement for the loading area or the Planning Commission must approve a waiver from the loading zone wall or 6-10 foot high berm requirement of the OST district, conditional upon additional landscaping being provided along the east and south property lines. Adequate perimeter screening and a wall or berm are not provided for the loading area of the building. (Section 2302a, 2509.5, 2509.6). He noted the primary entryway shown off of Thirteen Mile Road with shrub plantings and ornamental tree plantings shown in the vicinity. The City Standard is two feet in height for the corner clearance. He noted the recommendation that the landscape plan must be revised to comply with the corner clearance requirement. (Section 2513). He stated the biggest issue on the site was related to access. The Site Plan indicates an access point located out to Cabot Drive. He noted the developer’s assertion of the access being advantageous from a traffic safety and efficiency point of view. Traffic Engineering: The construction of the Cabot drive access is reliant upon an easement from the current owner of Cabot Drive, Northern Equities Group, as the drive has not yet been dedicated to the City. Also, the drive does not comply with the City’s Design and Construction standards for driveway spacing, as it is 86’ from the proposed drive to the south. Two alternatives exist for an access at this time. First would be a cross connection agreement with Millenium Technology Center to the south. A second alternative would be to provide a stub to the east for a future access to Thirteen Mile Road or Haggerty Road at the time that property is developed. He noted the developer with the help of the City Attorney would continue to conduct negotiations with Northern Equities to attain Alternative A (the most preferred method) a possibility. A decision would be made at the January 28, 2001 City Council Meeting regarding accepting of the dedication of Cabot Drive. He hoped that many of the unresolved issues could be worked out in advance of the City Council decision. Façade: Mr. Evancoe displayed the façade materials. He stated that all materials comply with the Façade Ordinance with the exception of the brick, cast stone, E.I.F.S. and ribbed metal panels (to screen mechanical equipment on the roof). Based on the minimal percentages and the need to screen the rooftop equipment, the façade consultant recommended a Section Nine Facade Waiver. Mr. Evancoe summarized the required waivers: 1) A Planning Commission waiver from Section 2302A, 2509.5, 2509.6 for screening the truck service areas and overhead truck loading and unloading doors with a wall or a berm, as required in the OST district. The waiver would allow the loading area, along the east and south property lines, to not be screened with a 6-foot to 10-foot high berm. Mr. Evancoe noted that prior to his presentation, the developer expressed to him their willingness to relocate the loading area. Although the loading area location technically met Ordinance Standards, he did not feel it was good site planning. Therefore, he was pleased to hear the developer’s interest in relocating this loading area toward the back of the building. He noted that these details could be worked out at Final. 2) A Planning Commission waiver from Section 9 for the building façade. DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS WAIVERS: 1) A City Council Waiver from Section 11-216(d)(1)d of the Design and Construction Standards, which requires a driveway spacing of 150 feet on a 35 mph roadway to allow a spacing of 86 feet from the proposed drive to the south. He noted the Ridgeview Centre driveway is proposed to be located 86-feet from the proposed Millennium Technology driveway. Eighty-six (86) feet does not meet the Ordinance same-side spacing standard. Therefore, a City Council Waiver is required. However, Mr. Arroyo has indicated that the Planning Commission has the ability to grant the waiver and that City Council approval is not required. He referenced the ordinance, which the previous Legal Counsel interpreted that within "the City", the Planning Commission would have that ability. Mr. Evancoe recommended Preliminary Site Plan Approval subject to all of the attached review letters.
Gary Jonna President of Whitehall Real Estate and managing member of Ridgeview Centre LLC, introduced the project’s architect Lise Newman to speak briefly on the Site Plan Concept. He also introduced Mr. Tressel of Hubbell Roth & Clark to comment on the secondary access issues.
Lise Newman of Landry & Newman Architecture briefly outlined the concepts and unique aspect for the proposed building design. One site planning strategy was to take advantage of its location on a corner and wrap the building around the view from both roads, to hide the view of parking. Secondly, the property slopes ten (10) feet from Thirteen Mile Road to the top. She noted the unique entry into the site, which would be a bridge effect over the detention pond leading to the main entry. She noted the careful attention focused on the corner with regard to the landscaping. The primary entry to the building will be a through the building entry on a diagonal. She described the site as a friendly building constructed with timeless materials such as brick and cast stone. She added that the building would minimize the impact of the automobile that would be visible by those passing by.
Gary Tressel of Hubbell Roth & Clark noted the difficulties involved with the driveway issue. He stated that several options have been explored. He noted his support to place the driveway out to Cabot. He felt this was the most preferred alternative, which he would continue to work with. He stated Birchler & Arroyo raised concern(s) relating to connections to the south. He was aware of the petitioner’s willingness to facilitate an additional connection to the south. He suggested the potential of a directional turn, which could be facilitated in the Final Site Plan. This could facilitate a right-in and right-out of the site. Mr. Tressel pointed out the problem with the "devil strip", which lies outside the 86-foot right-of-way of Cabot Drive that prohibits the connection. He stated that they would continue to work with Northern Equities, the petitioner, Birchler & Arroyo and the City in attempt to resolve the issue.
Mr. Jonna concluded informing the Commission that both the project Landscape Architect and Traffic Consultant were present at the meeting to answer questions.
Member Nagy asked Mr. Arroyo his opinion with Mr. Tressel’s suggestion of relocating the driveway to create a right-in and right-out was feasible.
Mr. Arroyo felt that the idea should be explored. He noted his support of the restriction of in-bound left-turns at the driveway on Cabot Drive. He explained further that it was not a good location due to the eventual conflict with the North bound left-turns on Cabot Drive that are attempting to travel west on Thirteen Mile Road. Mr. Arroyo felt Mr. Tressel had a good suggestion that needed to be explored in detail at Final to determine a sensible location. He noted the possibility that it may remain closer than the 150-foot standard. If the turns were restricted, it would help to mitigate the fact that the driveways are closer than the distance typically preferred. He indicated that he might be in a position of supporting this at some point. He noted that if the Commission was willing to grant the latitude for him to work with the applicant and explore these options then he could attempt to resolve this issue at Final.
Member Nagy clarified what he meant by exploring at Final Site Plan.
Mr. Arroyo explained the difficulty was due to the fact that it was uncertain if the access would be there. Currently, they do not have permission to have the access to Cabot Drive because they do not own the property. Thereby making the Site Plan challenging. He noted that this was the reason for suggesting the three possible alternatives to address the secondary access issue. He anticipated that the issue would remain unresolved for several more weeks in terms of exploration. If the Commission chose to approve the Preliminary Site Plan, he suggested that they make it conditional upon one of the alternative secondary access points being provided on the Final Site Plan. He stated if the secondary access is not provided then the plan would come back before the Commission.
Member Nagy noted Ms. Lemke’s recommendation for more landscaping. She noted that to her finding, a site typically does not end up looking like what has been presented on a flat site plan. She questioned if Ms. McGuire felt that there is an adequate amount of landscaping provided.
Ms. McGuire felt that the general idea of the landscaping was good. She noted her concerns. The site has seven (7) more parking spaces than needed, which she felt would better the parking lot if the applicant were willing to give them up. She introduced the idea of land banking. In looking at the site plan there appears to be a lot of pavement around the building. She stated that she like the front entry idea. She asked Mr. Jonna what material would be used to construct the wall of the retaining pond located in the front.
Mr. Jonna stated that generally it consists of a product Keystone that is a precast material with a masonry effect.
Ms. McGuire clarified that it would not be sheet metal piling.
Mr. Jonna answered, correct. He clarified the reasoning for the seven (7) spaces. He stated that as a general practice the space is typically provided as a cushion for adjustments such as placement of driveways, relocation of the loading area relocation and additional screening. He explained if the site is exactly at the parking requirement then it does not provide any flexibility. Secondly, there are only seven spaces and the remaining spaces exist to meet Ordinance requirement.
Member Nagy questioned where the loading area would be relocated and how it would effect the landscaping.
Mr. Evancoe felt that the petitioner could best address the question.
Ms. Newman clarified that the site is one hundred percent office use. Although the site is zoned OST permitting more technology-type uses with the use of an overhead door, she indicated that the proposed building would not have any overhead doors. Instead of the typical industrial loading, the loading would consist of UPS or Federal Express trucks. Ms. Newman indicated the possible area for relocation was the back of the building. At this location, the building itself would shield the loading from both the frontage on Cabot Drive and Thirteen Mile Road. In addition, the screening could be enhanced with evergreens at the southern and eastern property edge where it would be in view.
Member Nagy questioned if this location would meet Ordinance requirements.
Ms. McGuire answered, yes. She indicated that according to Ordinance, the Commission has the ability to waive the requirement of the berm.
Member Nagy indicated that she preferred that the applicant to meet the Ordinance.
Chairperson Churella questioned the possibility of having the loading and unloading area as part of the building. He noted an office building located on Haggerty Road and High Pointe Boulevard with regular doors where the truck backs up to the dock. The loading area is part of the building with landscaping around it.
Mr. Jonna indicated that he was willing to explore this option. He noted the attempt to avoid creating walls by design. Therefore, to place a six or ten foot high berm around a loading area presented difficulty. He questioned if the loading area were part of the building then would a wall need to be placed around the loading area.
Chairperson Churella indicated that the loading area would be part of the building.
Mr. Jonna indicated that he would look at the example as suggested by Chairperson Churella.
Chairperson Churella suggested the attachment of the loading area to the office building because it seemed to work well with the loading and unloading of furniture trucks and needed equipment.
Mr. Jonna clarified if Chairperson Churella was suggesting an internal loading area that is "notched" into the building.
Chairperson Churella agreed.
Member Shroyer recalled the applicant’s request to defer Ridgeview Centre when it was on the agenda in late November or early December. He stated at that meeting he recalled commenting that the waivers were in excess of what was necessary. At that time, he requested that the City attempt to work with the developer to address the issues. He questioned if anything changes or explorations were made per his request.
Mr. Evancoe indicated that he has been in communication with Mr. Jonna since that Planning Commission meeting. He noted the fees involved to pay consultants to review a Site Plan. He explained that if asked midstream to create a new site plan then there would be another consultant fee involved with the re-review of the project. For example, the relocation of the loading area could have been shown on the Site Plan. However, if that were the case another formal review would have been needed to make the recommendation. In addition, the revised plan would not have corresponded with the Site Plans distributed to the Planning Commission. Therefore, he felt there was a sense of limitation as to how much changing could take place once the Site Plan Review Process was initiated.
Mr. Jonna indicated that he only had the knowledge of two waivers being requested. 1) A Section Nine Facade Waiver, which was supported by the JCK Façade Consultant. 2) Waiver for the wall/berming around the loading area. He noted that he would be meeting with Mr. Evancoe and the Staff to discuss and explore alternatives to determine the optimum solution as part of Final Site Plan Approval.
Mr. Evancoe indicated the situation with Cabot Drive and the access to the south was originally planned to be resolved at the January 7, 2001 City Council meeting. However, the matter was pulled from the agenda. The original intention was to come before the Commission with that issue having been addressed.
Member Shroyer noted three (3) waivers in a 2½ page summary, which he felt was excessive to bring before the Planning Commission. He noted that evidentially there has been discussion of the road in process, verbal commitments regarding landscaping and the relocation of the loading dock.
Mr. Jonna agreed.
Member Shroyer clarified if there was also discussion regarding the driveway right-in and right-out.
Mr. Jonna noted that the mitigating factor was two-fold. He noted the option to slide the driveway north to increase the distance and the prohibition on left-hand turns, which would further mitigate. He felt that the timing of the final resolution of the secondary access was unpredictable. He stated that the information contained in the Birchler & Arroyo review letter and information presented at tonight’s meeting indicated viable alternatives for secondary access. In the event a connection to Cabot Drive was unsuccessful, he noted the possible southerly and easterly connections. As previously mentioned, he requested a conditional approval to move forward with the project with the knowledge that at least one means of secondary access would need to be provided. He noted the timing and investment issue involved with the need to move forward to Final Site Plan Approval and construction documents.
Member Markham asked if it were possible to combine the secondary access with the development below (south) the proposed project. She stated the Millennium Technology project is anticipated to come before the Commission in the next month. She suggested that the two properties meet with Northern Equities (owner of the Cabot Drive piece) to derive a solution with one access. She felt this possibility would eliminate the questions of being too close, too close to Thirteen Mile Road or the need for a right-in/right-out access. She suggested boulevard access between the two developments to service them both.
Mr. Jonna agreed that her suggestion was logical. He noted the two distinct issues. The Devil Strip is an issue with Northern Equities. Another separate issue lies with the proposed project, Millennium Technology, to the south. He noted Ridgeview Centre’s willingness to place the drive to connect to Cabot and a southerly connection. He felt that the southerly connection might assist Millennium Technology in the long term due to their current conflicts with their proposed driveway connection. The Millennium Technology Site Plan has not yet come before the Commission. Therefore, there are uncertainties with the driveway location and the wetland issue. Mr. Jonna indicated that he was affording the opportunity to his neighbor to have cross access to allow the possibility of a singular driveway. Therefore, he felt that the stage has been set for this to occur.
Member Markham noted her preference to have wide, amenable access points and as few as possible. She supported the idea of having two developments utilizing one access point.
Mr. Jonna noted the past attempts to gain access from the southerly neighbor were unsuccessful. Therefore, the separate curb cut has been pursued. He stated the boulevard entrance was specifically designed to allow an emergency lane if one lane was blocked. He felt they were providing a boulevard entrance that is above standards. Secondly, the secondary access is needed. He stated that Cabot Drive is the most appropriate alternative. However, the Commission controls the adjacent Site Plans and has the ability to cause the secondary access to occur. Mr. Jonna believed the proposed access point to be the most direct and safe option.
Member Markham asked if there was anything that could be done to assist the dialog between the parties to occur.
Mr. Evancoe answered, yes. He indicated that the Staff had been part of the discussions with Millennium through the Site Plan Process. He agreed that less points of access were better and he assured the Commission that all efforts would be made in the process to accomplish this. In reference to Member Shroyer’s comments, regarding verbal commitments made by the developer, Mr. Evancoe felt it to be part of the process. He added that if the Commission chose to approve the Site Plan they could solidify those verbal commitments in the motion.
Mr. Fisher vouched for Mr. Jonna’s efforts to secure access out onto Cabot Drive. The latest development was Mr. Fisher’s contact to the Legal Counsel for Northern Equities with the view of attempting to establish a meeting.
Member Richards clarified if the secondary access, as currently shown, required a waiver.
Mr. Jonna answered, correct.
Member Richards stated to approve the Preliminary Site Plan, the applicant is in essence requesting a Planning Commission Waiver for a secondary access, which may or may not acquire.
Mr. Arroyo stated that typically one could argue the question why the first project in (with no project to the south) would require a waiver. However, to his understanding, when right-of-way was acquired and appropriate land was made available for the construction of Cabot Drive. The City of Novi entered into negotiations with the owner of the property from Millennium Technology and in the documentation, they have effectively given permission to have a driveway at this location onto Cabot Drive. He noted that this might have effective given some "sort of approval" of a driveway. Due to this documentation, his review of Ridgeview Centre needed to identify the fact if there had been some type of representation of the driveway as approved on the property to the south.
Mr. Jonna stated that Millenium Technology has access to Haggerty Road. There is a driveway connection between Eberspacher and Millenium Technology. He stated Ridgeview Centre’s willingness to open their driveway to the south. In effect, Millenium Technology would have access to Haggerty Road, the joint driveway shared with Eberspacher and the ability to have access to Thirteen Mile and Cabot Drive through the Ridgeview Centre site. Although Millenium Technology may not be represented at tonight’s meeting, he felt it appeared they were well cared for with the four potential access points. He addressed the issue of the distance between the two driveways. He noted the ability to move the driveway northbound and the ability to restrict left-hand turns, which he felt could be handled on the Final Site Plan. He stated that there would be some waiver required for less than the minimum. However, he stated that it would be restricted and pushed as far northerly as possible. He agreed to work with Mr. Arroyo to accomplish meeting the standard as close as possible and also to put the left-hand prohibition in place.
Member Richards stated a waiver would be required if only the south secondary access road was provided and not Cabot Drive.
Mr. Jonna indicated the problem with that issue is two-fold. He stated the Millenium Technology driveway has not been approved by the Planning Commission and it currently crosses a wetland area. Therefore, there is not a 100% certainty relative to that driveway. He felt the Commission would agree that it would be more scurrilous to go between Millenium, around the front of Millenium and to Cabot Drive verses the Ridgeview Centre parking lot directly to Cabot Drive and almost directly at the intersection. He stated that it would be more advantageous to have the direct connection verses between, around and through buildings.
Member Canup stated that although the issues could be worn out with discussion. Therefore, he made a motion.
PM-02-01-005 IN THE MATTER OF RIDGEVIEW CENTER SP01-51 TO GRANT PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN APPROVAL, PLANNING COMMISSION WAIVER FOR SCREENING THE TRUCK SERVICE AREAS, SECTION NINE FAÇADE WAIVER, PLANNING COMMISSION WAIVER FOR THE DRIVEWAY SPACING, SUBJECT TO THE CONDITIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STAFF AND CONSULTANTS AND SUBJECT TO THE FINAL SITE PLAN RETURNING TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION FOR FINAL APPROVAL.
Moved by Canup, seconded by Ruyle, CARRIED (8-1): In the matter of Ridgeview Center SP01-51 to grant Preliminary Site Plan Approval, Planning Commission Waiver for screening the truck service areas, Section Nine Façade Waiver, Planning Commission Waiver for the driveway spacing, subject to the conditions and recommendations of the Staff and Consultants and subject to the Final Site Plan returning to the Planning Commission for Final Approval.
Member Kocan stated that she was not comfortable granting a waiver without the revised Site Plan available to the Commission. She did not find a problem with granting Millenium Technology a waiver when their project came forward for the driveway spacing. However, she did not find it appropriate to grant a waiver for an item that has not been presented to the Commission. She noted her preference to have a driveway onto Cabot Drive. She was not comfortable with the idea of south, east or north connections because each site should be able to handle their own traffic without endangering those walking out to their cars. Therefore, she felt that the drive onto Cabot Drive was important. She questioned what could be done to help the developer to obtain a driveway.
Member Canup indicated this being his reasoning for having the project return to the Commission for Final Site Plan Approval. He stated this would give the Commission control and yet allow the developer the opportunity to make the adjustments.
Member Kocan did not agree with the granting of the Driveway Spacing Waiver without a driveway to waiver.
Member Markham questioned if the motion could be worded in such a manner to state that when the Site Plan returns to the Commission for Final Approval, a reasonable secondary access should be provided.
Chairperson Churella recalled Northern Equities stating that they would give everyone access to that drive. He stated it appeared to be ten or fifteen feet. He asked Mr. Fisher to clarify.
Mr. Jonna interjected and stated that the distance was twenty-four (24) feet.
Chairperson Churella stated if the drive is moved north, then the distance would be less.
Mr. Jonna stated that it would be a minimal amount of easement.
Chairperson Churella restated his recollection Northern Equities stating that they would give access to the people. He suggested checking the minutes of the meeting which Cabot Drive was given approval. He questioned if Northern Equities could be required to give the access verses charging forty or fifty thousand dollars for the ten feet. Chairperson Churella clarified if the road is being designated back to the City.
Mr. Fisher stated that Cabot Drive is currently being considered for dedication acceptance.
Chairperson Churella questioned if the sides of the property were coming to the City.
Mr. Fisher answered, no. He added that it would remain private property.
Member Canup felt it was possible that "something" slipped by that might have been unfair to those that are purchasing the properties there. He suspected that the developer might be trying to take advantage of the situation to the fact of having the City take that road. He stated that he would "put his feet in the sand" if he were in the position to either take the road or not take it. Further, the road would not be taken until the issues were resolved.
Mr. Fisher indicated that he would forward those comments to their legal counsel.
Member Paul noted the mention of the parking facility and traffic rendering. However, there has been no mention of the façade. She felt that it would be important to make the building more attractive. She suggested the possibility of keystones above the windows to create a more attractive and more traditional site. She also suggested the possibility of cornerstones on the bricking to create softer edges. She questioned if there would be a turn lane into the facility from Thirteen Mile Road.
Mr. Jonna answered, yes.
Member Paul asked if lighting could be added in regard to Thirteen Mile Road to allow easy visibility of the facility. She noted the bridging and questioned if there would be lighting at the entrance.
Mr. Jonna noted that a requirement of Final Site Plan approval is the submittal of a photometric analysis that meets Ordinance Requirements. Therefore, the drive must be lit to Ordinance standards.
Member Paul clarified if the motion could be amended to reflect her comments regarding the façade.
Member Canup stated it could be addressed with the Site Plan returns to the Commission for Final Site Plan approval.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-005 CARRIED
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle
*Commission discussion regarding the continuation of the meeting.
Member Nagy felt that due to the late hour the Commission should postpone the remainder of the agenda to the next meeting.
PM-02-01-006 TO POSTPONE ITEMS #2, 3 AND 4 OF MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION AND ALL ITEMS UNDER MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION TO THE NEXT PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING.
Moved by Nagy, seconded by Shroyer, AMENDED: To postpone items #2, 3 and 4 of Matters for Consideration and all items under Matters for Discussion to the next Planning Commission meeting.
Member Markham questioned how the future agenda appeared.
Ms. Brock requested that the Committee Appointments not be postponed due to the need to schedule meetings.
Mr. Evancoe stated that the item regarding the APA Conference is time sensitive. Therefore, he requested that it not be postponed.
Member Nagy amended her motion to include the Committee Appointment and the APA Conference.
Chairperson Churella reminded the Commission of the Planning Commission minutes.
Member Nagy indicated that Member Shroyer removed the minutes from the Consent Agenda.
PM-02-01-007 TO POSTPONE ITEMS 2 AND 4 OF MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION TO THE NEXT AVAILABLE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING.
Moved by Nagy, seconded by Shroyer, CARRIED: To postpone items 2 and 4 of Matters for Consideration to the next available Planning Commission meeting.
Chairperson Churella clarified the remaining items on the agenda were Committee Appointments and APA Conference.
Member Nagy agreed.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-007 CARRIED
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Shroyer
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS
Planning Studies and Budget Committee
Chairperson Churella noted two vacancies on the Planning Studies & Budget Committee.
Mr. Evancoe indicated that no commissioners have expressed an interest to serve on the committee.
Member Ruyle noted his interest to serve on the Planning Studies & Budget Committee.
PM-02-01-008 TO APPOINT MEMBER RUYLE TO SERVE ON THE PLANNING STUDIES AND BUDGET COMMITTEE.
Moved by Kocan, seconded by Markham, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Member Ruyle to serve on the Planning Studies and Budget Committee.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-008 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
Member Paul noted her interest to serve on the Planning Studies & Budget Committee. She requested the removal of her name from the Environmental Committee to allow Member Markham to serve on that Committee.
PM-02-01-009 TO APPOINT MEMBER PAUL TO SERVE ON THE PLANNING STUDIES AND BUDGET COMMITTEE.
Moved by Kocan, seconded by Markham, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Member Paul to serve on the Planning Studies and Budget Committee.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-009 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
Communications and Liaison Committee
PM-02-01-010 TO APPOINT MEMBER SHROYER TO SERVE ON THE COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE.
Moved by Kocan, seconded by Ruyle, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Member Shroyer to serve on the Communication and Community Liaison Committee.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-010 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
PM-02-01-011 TO APPOINT MEMBER KOCAN TO SERVE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE.
Moved by Ruyle, seconded by Paul, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Member Kocan to serve on the Implementation Committee.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-011 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
PM-02-01-012 TO APPOINT MEMBER MARKHAM TO SERVE ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE.
Moved by Richards, seconded by Ruyle, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Member Markham to serve on the Environmental Committee.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-012 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
Woodlands Review Board
Member Kocan noted that the alternate position is an as needed basis for meeting that are typically Thursday’s around 4:30 p.m.
PM-02-01-013 TO APPOINT MEMBER PAUL TO SERVE AS AN ALTERNATE ON THE WOODLANDS REVIEW BOARD.
Moved by Kocan, seconded by Nagy, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To appoint Member Paul to serve as an alternate on the Woodlands Review Board.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-013 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
APPROVAL OF OCTOBER 17, 2001 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Member Shroyer requested that the obtaining of his vote be noted under the Consent Agenda of the Planning Commission Minutes of October 17, 2001.
PM-02-01-014 TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE REGULAR PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING OF OCTOBER 17, 2001 AS AMENDED
Moved by Shroyer, seconded by Nagy, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the minutes of the Regular Planning Commission Meeting of October 17, 2001 as amended.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-014 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
*Amendment was not made to the minutes of October 17, 2001 due to the fact that Member Shroyer was not present at the meeting of August 1, 2001 and August 29, 2001, for which the Planning Commission Minutes were being approved.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. APA CONFERENCE – CHICAGO, APRIL 13-17, 2002
Mr. Evancoe stated the approximate cost for the Chicago APA Conference for one commissioner is $1600. He noted that the Planning Commission Conference Budget has $1200 remaining. He informed the commissioners that the cost beyond the budget would need to be covered by the commissioner. He noted that one commissioner could utilize the $1200 could be divided amongst all nine commissioners. He noted that due to the early registration deadline, decisions would need to be made by Wednesday, January 16, 2001.
Member Richards questioned if the conference permitted a one day rate.
Mr. Evancoe indicated he would explore the idea and options for the commissioners.
Member Kocan requested that the options be researched and e-mailed to the commissioners.
Member Paul suggested taking a count of those interested in attending.
Member Canup volunteered to fly commissioners to cut down on the cost.
Chairperson Churella stated that he attended an Underground Water Seminar, which he found very beneficial. The cost was $90, which he paid for on his own.
PM-02-01-015 TO ADJOURN THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION AT 11:35 P.M.
Moved by Canup, seconded by Richard’s, CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn the Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission at 11:35 p.m.
VOTE ON PM-02-01-015 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Yes: Canup, Churella, Kocan, Markham, Nagy, Paul, Richards, Ruyle, Shroyer
Donna Howe - Planning Assistant
Transcribed by: Christine Otsuji
January 31, 2002
Date Approved: March 6, 2002