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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 p.m.
Present: Members Avdoulos, Cassis, Gaul, Kocan, Pehrson, Ruyle, Shroyer
Absent: Members Markham (excused), Sprague (excused)
Also Present: David Evancoe, Director of Planning; Barbara McBeth, Planner; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Lance Shipman, Landscape Architect; Ben Croy, Civil Engineer; Tom Schultz, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Ruyle led the meeting in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Cassis, seconded by Member Pehrson:
Motion to approve the Agenda of March 24, 2004.
Motion carried 7-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no correspondence to share.
Member Shroyer said that the Rules Committee met earlier in the evening and discussed Committee involvement. Specifically, the by-laws state that everyone must be involved in at least one committee. Because there were not enough volunteers to fill all of the Committee slots, the Rules Committee is going to bring forward a request that each Planning Commission member must serve on a minimum of two Committees.
Chair Kocan said that the Implementation Committee is moving forward in their review of the Providence Hospital request and the Site Plan Review and that the Public Hearings will be held on April 7, 2004. She said there is an Implementation Committee meeting on Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:00 p.m. to finalize their work on these two issues; it is possible that, aside from the anticipated April 2, 2004 Planning Commission packet, a later supplemental packet may be necessary to ensure that the members receive all of the April 1, 2004 information.
Chair Kocan said that the Implementation Committee is also moving forward on their review of the accessory structure and fence Ordinance reviews. They will also be meeting on Monday, April 19, 2004 at 6:00 p.m. She said that the fences Public Hearing is scheduled for April 28, 2004, and accessory structures Public Hearing is scheduled for May 12, 2004.
Mr. Evancoe welcomed Member Ruyle back after a brief absence pertaining to an illness.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There were no Consent Agenda items.
There were no Public Hearings.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. NOVAPLEX, SITE PLAN NUMBER 99-32
Consideration of the request of Beztek Company, for approval of a one year Final Site Plan extension. The subject project is located in Section 12 west of Haggerty Road, between Twelve and Thirteen Mile Roads. The applicant proposes a mixed use office park on 20.007 acres. The property is zoned OST.
Chair Kocan stated that the Ordinance reads each site plan can be extended three times, but she noted that another developer has taken his request for a fourth extension to the ZBA and it was granted. She asked City Attorney Tom Schultz to comment on this matter.
Mr. Schultz said that the ZBA can grant variances from any provision of the Ordinance. Hence, they can grant variances for site plan extensions in instances of practical difficulty. In the situation noted by Chair Kocan, the ZBA acknowledged the burden and the problem that Applicant had in complying with the Ordinance provisions if they were to revisit the site plan process; they weighed this information against the benefit the City would gain if this Applicant were to go through the process again. Mr. Schultz said that while there is no limit to how many times the ZBA could extend a site plan, there is a practical limitation in the process of giving relief that will limit the number of times the Applicant can come back and still be able to say there is no harm in extending the site plan once more. Mr. Schultz also commented that the Applicant informed the ZBA that they are almost ready to move forward with their plan.
Chair Kocan thought that the Planning Commission should think about whether the Ordinance should require the Applicant to come before the Planning Commission to ask for their recommendation to the ZBA for another site plan extension.
Mark Sturing of the Beztak Companies represented the Applicant. He agreed with the report prepared by the Planning Department. He said that this request is the result of the office market being a little softer than what developers would like it to be. He said that in the past month they have moved forward with the pre-con meeting and payment of $100,000 in City fees and deposits for this project.
Moved by Member Ruyle, seconded by Member Cassis:
In the matter of Novaplex, SP99-32, motion to approve a one-year Final Site Plan extension.
Member Shroyer asked that the word "final" be added to the motion, indicating that this is the last extension that the Planning Commission will approve. Member Ruyle had no problem with this request, although he acknowledged that the City Attorney just explained that there are ways to procure additional extensions. Member Cassis agreed as well, and he noted that this developer isn’t going to just walk away from his efforts and money spent. He encouraged the Planning Commission to approve the extension and get the Applicant on his way.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON NOVAPLEX, SP99-32, MOTION MADE BY MEMBER RUYLE, SECONDED BY MEMBER CASSIS:
In the matter of Novaplex, SP99-32, motion to approve a final one-year Final Site Plan extension.
Motion carried 7-0.
2. NOVI SITE, SITE PLAN NUMBER 02-55
Consideration of the request of Superior Diversified Services Corporation for approval of a Preliminary Site Plan and Woodland Permit. The subject property is located in Section 15, west side of Novi Road, north of Grand River Avenue in the TC (Town Center) District. The subject property is .481 acres. The developer is proposing a 3,304 square foot commercial building.
Planner Tim Schmitt located the property on an aerial photo. He said the property is south of Fonda Drive and near the existing Expo Center. Wendy’s is to the north, and the former House of Blinds is to the south. Across Novi Road is Fifth Third Bank and to the rear of the property is vacant land and a single family house. The area is zoned TC and further west and northwest the area is zoned I-1, light industrial. The area is master planned for Town Center Commercial.
Mr. Schmitt said that this building is speculative with an entrance from Novi Road. The Planning Commission has reviewed this project twice before. On December 10, 2003, the project was postponed until such time that the Staff and Applicant could meet to resolve the outstanding issues. The Applicant will speak further to the issues that were discussed during this interim.
Mr. Schmitt said that the Planning Review noted several items are necessary:
- Planning Commission waiver of side yard building setbacks or ZBA variance for side yard building setbacks (Sec. 1602.4). This is for the north side yard. The Planning Commission can waive this requirement in the TC district where the three conditions are met: The reduction in the setback will not impair the health, safety or general welfare of the City as it relates to the use of the premises or the adjacent premises; The waiver would result in a more desirable relationship between a proposed and an existing building; and adherence to the requirement would result in the establishment of a non-usable area that can create maintenance problems. The Planning Department supports this waiver, although they would request that the building be moved one foot off of the property line.
- ZBA variance for parking lot setbacks in the both side yards (Sec. 2400). This item cannot be waived by the Planning Commission.
- ZBA variance for parking lot setback in the front yard (20 feet required, 5 feet provided) or further redesign of parking lot configuration (Sec. 2400). This item cannot be waived by the Planning Commission. These spaces could not be placed elsewhere on the site due to space limitations.
- ZBA variance for loading area setbacks in the side yard (Sec. 2400). This is along the area of a group of parking stalls.
- ZBA variance for lack of setbacks for accessory structure (Dumpster Enclosure). The Applicant has indicated that this issue can be easily corrected by the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
- Planning Commission determination that a 22-foot maneuvering lane is warranted along the south side of the building, although 24 feet is typical.
- Issues that can be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Landscape Review indicated there are items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal and
four ZBA variances are necessary:
- ZBA variance to eliminate the ROW berm along Novi Road or Planning Commission waiver to allow for brick screen wall in lieu of berm.
- ZBA variance for lack of parking area landscaping.
- ZBA variance for lack of four feet greenspace around building.
- ZBA variance for lack of screening around loading area.
The Traffic Review indicated that there are items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal and that
several driveway spacing waivers are necessary:
- Planning Commission waiver of same side driveway spacing requirement, relative to the House of Blinds drive and relative to the south drive for Wendy’s.
- Planning Commission waiver of opposite side driveway spacing requirement, relative to Crowe Drive, Kim’s Gardens, and Fifth Third Bank. These existing driveways preclude this Applicant from putting his driveway in without waivers.
- ZBA variance to allow easternmost parking stall to be located within 25 feet of sidewalk. This is slightly different than the requirement noted in the Planning Review.
- City Council waiver for the requirement of a secondary access point. The Applicant will speak further to this requirement, as they have been in discussions with Wendy’s.
- Redesign of access drive to meet City and RCOC standards for throat width and entering radius. The Applicant has indicated that they will be able to meet this requirement.
The Engineering Department noted the following items are necessary:
- A City Council waiver for pumped discharge from an underground detention basin in the westernmost portion of the site.
- There are items to be addressed at the time of Final Site plan submittal
The Fire Department Review noted that a secondary access waiver from City Council would be required due to the fact that the drive exceeds 150 feet in length.
Chair Kocan said that the Fire Marshal wrote a letter detailing an issue that the Applicant has with Wendy’s. Specifically, Wendy’s will not allow a curb cut onto their property. However, the Applicant submitted a plan to the Fire Marshal that showed a 17-foot breakaway gate and curb cut; the Fire Marshal needs clarification on which of these situations is accurate, and he stated that without acceptable access he cannot give this plan a positive recommendation. Mr. Schmitt said that Wendy’s will not allow the curb cut or cross-access easements.
Norman Hyman represented the Applicant. He introduced George Keros (owner), Ron Neuchterlein (builder) and George Norberg (engineer). Mr. Hyman said that the Applicant wanted to make another attempt at working with the House of Blinds and Wendy’s and had asked to be removed from the December 2003 Planning Commission meeting Agenda. He apologized for any confusion surrounding that meeting.
Mr. Hyman said that plan the Fire Marshal had did not show the gate. Mr. Nuechterlein measured the curb elevations on the site and they were five inches (not six). Mr. Hyman said the site is narrow. The Applicant has done his best to meet the intent of the Ordinance and addressed the comments made by the Planning Commission in 2003. Mr. Keros has provided architectural relief. He has agreed to redesign the curbs for maneuverability purposes. The dumpster will be relocated.
Mr. Hyman said that Wendy’s has acknowledged that the Fire Marshal has the right to enter their property at any time for emergency purposes. Mr. Keros has asked Wendy’s to reduce or remove the curb in the location of the breakaway gate; Wendy’s has refused.
Mr. Hyman said that Mr. Keros has tried to work with the House of Blinds owners to create a joint plan, but they, too, have refused. They did offer to sell their land to Mr. Keros for $800,000.
Mr. Hyman said that if there was a problem with the back of the building, the Fire Department would have to deal with it from Wendy’s. If there was a problem in the front of the building, the Fire Department could access it from Wendy’s, since the building is at most one foot off the property line. The Fire Department could also access the subject property from the House of Blinds property. Mr. Hyman said that although a reduced curb would be a better situation, the Applicant would agree to providing a replaceable ramp that would allow the Fire Department to mount the curb. Mr. Nuechterlein also stated that Al Hanson, retired owner of a fire equipment company, told him that fire trucks are designed to deal with five or six inch curbs, and even much worse terrain conditions. He said there would be no damage to the fire trucks if in fact they had to mount the existing curb.
Mr. Hyman said that they do not understand the Planning Department’s request to move the building one foot off of the property line. They said that one foot accomplishes nothing, other than make the trash maintenance of Wendy’s their problem. The width of the drive is allowed to be 22 feet at the discretion of the Planning Commission. Mr. Hyman said that if the drive were increased to 24 feet, two feet would have to be removed from the building, which is only 3,300 square feet and questionably economically viable as it stands.
Mr. Hyman said they believe they can remove one of the two parking spaces as requested by the Planning Department. They may not even need a variance but evenso, tonight’s approval would be predicated on the Applicant’s getting the variance if found necessary. Mr. Hyman made an observation relating to the loading zone. He said that this area is already screened in all practicality by the Wendy’s building and will only be seen by people going through the Wendy’s drive-thru.
Mr. Hyman said that the drainage issue must be passed along to City Council for the waiver. He said that the Applicant’s representatives would be happy to answer any additional questions.
Member Pehrson said most of his issues related to the safety of the site. He thought that the most intense issue was the secondary access. He said that although the Fire Department may be able to access the property, there is the issue of other emergency vehicles to consider. He noted that the Applicant has done an admirable job in site design given the size of the property. He thought there could be problems associated with a removable ramp, specifically with practical jokers. He confirmed with the Applicant that Wendy’s has a physical curb, not just four-foot concrete wheel stops.
Mr. Hyman said that firetrucks are the only vehicles that may find maneuverability difficult on the site. Ambulances and garbage trucks will not have problems. Member Pehrson explained that when a firetruck takes its hose out for use it will block the entire area. He said this is a legitimate safety concern.
Member Pehrson said he did not have a big problem with the 22-foot lane. He said he did not see any way to resolve the driveway spacing issues. He said that even if this building were a lemonade stand there would still be a need for some of these variances.
Member Shroyer asked about the detention area. Civil Engineer Ben Croy responded that the plan proposed parking on top of a concealed "vault-like" detention system.
Member Shroyer referenced Section 1602.5 and said that it allows surface parking lots to be screened from public ROWs by a wall or berm; he asked why the Planning Commission waiver for the wall was necessary. Landscape Architect Lance Shipman responded that when plantings are required in a ROW area, Planning Commission approval is required. Mr. Schmitt explained to Member Shroyer that the next sentence in that section states that all landscaping shall comply with Section 2509, which is where the berm waiver is required. He said that the Planning Commission can issue the waiver, or make a finding that a waiver is not necessary. Member Shroyer said he liked the concept of a brick-on-brick wall.
Member Shroyer would approve of a reduction in the side yard setback. He would approve of the side yard parking setbacks. He said he wanted to hear what other Planning Commission members thought about the loading. He would approve the dumpster setback variance. He would approve of all of the driveway spacing waivers.
Member Shroyer said that Mr. Nuechterlein’s letter stated that the Applicant has tried to work with his neighbors in developing the plan for this project. Member Shroyer encouraged everyone to continue working together, especially in trying to create a shared driveway with the House of Blinds property.
Member Shroyer would encourage the entrance to be designed like the suggestion in the Birchler Arroyo letter. Member Shroyer proposed that the building be off set from the property line by four feet, which would allow for maintenance issues and satisfy a landscaping requirement. Member Shroyer would encourage the driveway to be increased from 22 feet to 24 feet, which would reduce the building footprint by another two feet. Member Shroyer said there is a landscaping shortage - 720 square feet required, 225 square feet provided. He said the number of waiver requests was reduced from nine to six. He said that the number of variance requests went from eight to ten.
Member Shroyer thought that the front parking spot could in fact back up traffic, as Member Pehrson had also discussed.
Member Shroyer said that the Applicant has not reduced the size of the building. He said that the economic viability has been discussed, but if the building were smaller the cost to build it would be less. The labor costs would be less. The parking lot would be smaller so there would be less concrete to pay for. He said that a smaller building could eliminate up to eight variances and two waivers. Member Shroyer did not see a hardship that should entice the Planning Commission into approving these issues.
Member Cassis was concerned about the safety of the design. He asked whether there were exit doors on the rear of the building. Mr. Schmitt did not believe there were any doors and because the property abutted the property line, he was unsure whether that created a trespassing situation. Mr. Schmitt said that regardless of how the site is ultimately designed, emergency personnel will get into the building. He also noted that there is a two- to four- foot grade elevation associated with this property.
Member Cassis said he does not try to picture this property as an ideal site, because everyone knows it is not ideal. He was just hoping to determine the most practical way in which to develop it. He said that the House of Blinds property has the same issues as this property. He said this Applicant would not interfere with the Fire Department responding to a call to Wendy’s. He said that the Fire Department has the right to enter any property for the purpose of providing emergency services. Mr. Schmitt explained that the Fire Marshal’s concern was that this site be planned in the most practical manner so the least amount of potential interference could be anticipated in the case of an emergency. Member Cassis’s point was that each of these narrow parcels along Novi Road has the same practical problem; depending on one’s neighbor is of paramount importance in this area.
Member Cassis said that the real question here is whether this small parcel would remain undeveloped or would it be developed. The history of this area is that all the lots in this area are small. This Planning Commission has accommodated many projects in the area – each with its own share of development difficulties. Member Cassis understood that some of his colleagues were concerned about the amount of Ordinance infractions caused by this project, but he questioned whether the Ordinance was written with parcels such as the subject property in mind.
Member Cassis said that this Applicant has brought forth a good plan and his other developments in the City are a testament of the quality products he builds. He said that this Applicant has spent untold dollars on legal fees, engineers, architects, etc., over the course of fifteen years and he should not now be asked to design a smaller building. Member Cassis said that the Planning Commission should not be looking at this project’s financials or economics, but sometimes a commission must take different things into consideration. Of all the variances requested, few are critical. He said that there was a time that the City was looking to develop this area lot-line to lot-line, to create a downtown like Northville, which completely downplayed the landscaping. He was not trying to minimize the landscaping issue, but he said that this area of Novi is different than the rest of Novi and this needed to be said.
Member Cassis said that access for the fire and medical personnel and traffic are the critical issues. He asked that that Member Pehrson, who is associated with the Fire Department, to comment on the accessibility of this site. He asked Planning Commission members how much traffic did they really think would be created by this small building. He said that he would like the Planning Commission to consider the real hardship that may result from the Planning Commission denying this Applicant the right to develop this property.
Member Ruyle agreed with Member Cassis. He said that Mr. Keros, the Applicant, has previously worked with the community with his other developments. He saved a church and donated it to another church. He said that his developments in the City are wonderful. Member Ruyle said that this building is the size of a standard house in Novi. He did not expect this project to generate much traffic either. He supported the project.
Member Gaul said that in defense of Wendy’s, they may believe that the secondary access could somehow interfere with the conduct of their business. Member Gaul asked whether the City would be liable in any way if the City granted a secondary access waiver, and an emergency occurred onsite but the response was affected by the lack of secondary access. City Attorney Tom Schultz responded said the City Attorney’s legal opinion was that the City would not be liable. He noted that there are many communities where secondary access isn’t even a requirement. The need for a waiver for this site is obvious in that this is clearly a difficult site to develop. He said that liability is not the issue that the Planning Commission should focus on.
Member Avdoulos said there was disappointment at the December 2003 meeting that the Applicant did not appear before the Planning Commission. They did discuss the project in the Applicant’s absence, and one issue mentioned by Chair Markham was that this property will never be developed without waivers and variances. Member Avdoulos said that the critical issue is safety. He was pleased to hear about the Applicant’s willingness to incorporate suggestions made by Birchler Arroyo. He said the site plan provided in "Exhibit A" of the Planning Commission packet provides better maneuverability on the site. He did want the Fire Marshal to have a comfort level with the plan.
Member Avdoulos would like more clearance from Novi Road, so he would agree to an adjustment to that front parking space. He would also accept an adjustment to the building’s size to meet the parking requirement. He said that if he were designing this site he, too, would place the building on the property line, because of the grade difference and the building will act as a retaining wall. He appreciated that the Applicant’s architect has attempted to enhance the building’s façade on all four sides. The building is in line with Wendy’s. Member Avdoulos agreed that this is a small building, although he would be more comfortable with 3,000 square feet.
Member Avdoulos asked about the Master Plan and Zoning Committee’s discussion of where Flint Street may be extended to this area north of Grand River. Mr. Schmitt responded that he was not sure of that concept’s status, but if it were to happen it would likely be to the north and west of this property where the road would meet up with Fonda Street. He thought the landowners in this area should be encouraged to design their plans with the future of the Town Center in sight. He said that the Applicant should work with the City to make the project, with all of its variances, work. He stated that he did not want to circumvent the Fire Marshal in approving this plan. He wanted to make sure that the approval process relating to this property remained with the City.
Member Avdoulos asked Mr. Croy if the Engineering Department was comfortable with the Stormwater design. He responded that he had listed as a requirement in his letter that the Applicant must provide an easement for the drainage to cross the lot line. Mr. Croy said that the Applicant is not getting any cooperation in getting this easement. According to Mr. Croy, the Ordinance requires any concentrated flow of drainage across a lot line to have an easement in place. This Applicant has done a lot of work to reduce the flow but it is still a concentrated flow across a lot line. This must be looked at and a determination must be made as to whether this is an encumbrance to the southerly property or if there is a waiver that could be granted to eliminate the need for this easement. Mr. Croy said that he has never run into a situation like this before. Mr. Croy said that it is in the south corner going into the House of Blinds property. This was his only concern with the design and again, ultimately it may not be a problem for that lot. There were no other issues.
Chair Kocan said that if the Ordinances were enforced consistently, then everyone is treated fairly. Other site plans come forward that require variances too, and how does the Planning Commission justify one without granting the other? Chair Kocan said that a number of these variances and waivers would occur with any development – the sideyard setbacks, parking lot sideyard setbacks, driveway spacing, etc.
Chair Kocan said that the City needs to learn from its mistakes, and there are places in Novi where it is dangerous because of the amount of curb cuts. She did not think that because it was okay fifteen years ago that the City should think it is okay to do the same thing now. She thought that the plan as proposed is overbuilt. She said that although the Applicant did not think it was a large building, it is in relationship to the size parcel on which it sits. If two parking spots are removed the building should be reduced about 384 square feet (retail standards). The deficiency would be worse if this became an office building.
Chair Kocan said that the setbacks from Novi Road are important to ensure that everyone can get in and out of the property. She asked about the turn-around area; Mr. Schmitt responded that a turn-around or T turn-around cannot be designed satisfactorily. He said that Traffic Review’s request for a secondary access is the same request as the Fire Marshal’s request for a turn-around.
Chair Kocan asked whether a secondary access to the south is feasible if a future owner of the House of Blinds property would agree to one. Mr. Hyman said that the grade differential is not a problem and that would be a workable situation. Mr. Schmitt said that there is a southerly access stub (from Wonderland) on the House of Blinds property. He would not expect a future owner of that site to seek a northerly secondary access. Chair Kocan said that the City has required cross-access across an entire (industrial) development when no other secondary access exists.
Mr. Schultz said that this Planning Commission will be learning more about cross-access easement and when they may be required at their May legal training session. He said that tonight’s motion could include a recommendation to City Council that the Applicant must provide their half of a cross-access easement to the south. When the adjacent development comes in for approvals, depending on the factual circumstances, the possibility may exist, then, to connect these two lots together.
Chair Kocan thought that the screening of the dumpster area was important, especially when no other landscaping is proposed for the site. She said these problems keeping relating to the size of the building and the amount of impervious surface. She asked what percentage of the property was landscaping or open space. Mr. Schmitt said that he did not have that number available at this time, but the Applicant would have to provide those numbers, which he noted, would also include the brick sidewalk pavers because this is the Town Center district.
Chair Kocan asked what exactly the Planning Commission’s role was at this meeting. Mr. Schultz replied that the Planning Commission is approving or denying the site plan and Stormwater Management Plan. In order for this Applicant to proceed, they will need some City Council and some ZBA approvals in addition to a Planning Commission approval this evening. The two scenarios are a Planning Commission approval subject to the waivers and variances, or a Planning Commission denial, and the Applicant can then seek the variances and waivers and return to the Planning Commission with what would then be a plan that theoretically meets the Ordinance except for the Planning Commission waivers.
Chair Kocan asked why the Planning Department asked for the building to be moved off the property line. Mr. Schmitt responded that the request was made to ensure that the footings did not encroach the property line. The one-foot clearance would ensure that the building was not inadvertently built over the property line. If the building were built on the property line it would be right against the Wendy’s drive-thru area, and the Planning Department was just trying the give that area a little breathing room. Chair Kocan thought it made sense to provide room for maintenance reasons. She did not think there could be a door there because of the elevation difference.
Chair Kocan asked about "Exhibit A." Mr. Schmitt replied that it has not been formally reviewed but the dumpster location seems appropriate, and the redesigned drive appears to meet the Birchler Arroyo requirements. There is no net gain or loss of parking spaces; the Applicant has just moved parking spaces near the stub to the rear.
Chair Kocan asked about the drainage situation. Mr. Schultz said that said that if the Planning Commission determines that the plan meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance, then it must meet a host of regulations. They will need to get the Engineering Department’s stamp of approval. If they don’t get it, they could return with a redesigned site plan.
Chair Kocan asked about the width of the maneuvering lane. Mr. Schmitt responded that the Planning Department would accept either 22- or 24-feet. They would, however, be more comfortable with the wider plan because the site is already tight and it may help in getting emergency vehicles on the site.
Member Cassis said that the difficulty of this site will likely mean that it will be an office building.
Moved by Member Cassis, seconded by Member Ruyle:
In the matter of Novi Site, SP02-55, motion to grant approval of the Preliminary Site Plan and Woodland Permit, subject to: 1) A DCS waiver for the requirement of a secondary access point; 2) A DCS waiver to allow for pumped discharge out of a detention basin; 3) A DCS waiver for the requirement of a turnaround if a drive exceeds 150 feet in length; 4) A ZBA variance for reduced parking lot setbacks in both side yards; 5) A ZBA variance for reduced parking lot setback in the front yard or redesign of eastern end of parking lot to meet standards; 6) A ZBA variance for reduced loading area setback in the northern side yard; 7) A ZBA variance for current location of dumpster enclosure, or redesign of plans to meet requirements; 8) A ZBA variance for lack of interior parking lot landscaping; 9) A ZBA variance for lack of four feet of interior greenspace around building; 10) A ZBA variance for lack of screening around loading zone; 11) A Planning Commission waiver for reduced building setbacks in both side yards (North: 0 ft. proposed vs. 50 ft. required; South: 26 ft. proposed vs. 50 ft. required); 12) A Planning Commission waiver to allow screen wall in lieu of ROW berm along Novi Road; 13) A Planning Commission waiver for same side driveway spacing, relative to House of Blinds (16 ft. proposed vs. 185 ft. required); 14) A Planning Commission waiver for same side driveway spacing, relative to the south Wendy’s driveway (49 ft. proposed vs. 185 ft.); 15) A Planning Commission waiver for opposite side driveway spacing, relative to Crowe Drive (27 ft. proposed vs. 200 ft. required); 16) A Planning Commission waiver for opposite side driveway spacing, relative to Kim’s Gardens driveway (180 ft. proposed vs. 200 ft. required); 17) A Planning Commission waiver for opposite driveway spacing, relative to the south Fifth Third driveway (37 ft. proposed vs. 200 ft. required); 18) A clarification of trees being removed and trees being preserved; 19) A redesign of the access drive to meet the City and RCOC requirements; and 20) The conditions and items listed in the staff and consultant review letters.
Member Cassis also commented while making the motion that he would like to see the dumpster decorated in such a fashion so as to make it aesthetically pleasing.
Member Pehrson asked whether recommendation should be made for the cross-access (drainage) easement in the motion. Mr. Schultz said that would be appropriate; it is in Mr. Croy’s letter but could be listed in the motion for clarity. Member Cassis and Member Ruyle accepted the change.
Member Pehrson asked about the waiver of the secondary access point, and whether the motion should state the requirement of the Fire Marshal’s approval. Mr. Schmitt responded that ultimately this issue will likely require the City Council’s waiver. The Fire Marshal, without meeting the Ordinance, is not going to give his recommendation for this site.
Mr. Schultz asked Member Pehrson to clarify which issue he was referring to with his first comment. Member Pehrson clarified that he was talking about the drainage issue. Mr. Schultz said that it should be referred to as a drainage easement.
Chair Kocan said that the Drainage Easement waiver will be added to the motion, not as a recommendation because that is not a City Council DCS waiver. The Planning Commission agreed and the maker and seconder of the motion agreed.
Member Pehrson asked whether the motion should specifically state the elimination of a parking space – one or two – to have a positive effect on the site’s safety? Chair Kocan said she thought that was discussed in the motion (items 4 and 5). Mr. Schmitt said that he wished to clarify that if item 5 were removed then a variance would be necessary for the lack of parking spaces on the site. Mr. Schmitt said that under "Exhibit A" the Applicant has proposed taking the two northwesterly spaces and moving them to the western end. Member Pehrson said that the motion requires those two spaces to be moved; Mr. Schmitt agreed and said he wanted to make sure that the Planning Commission did not think these were along Novi Road.
Chair Kocan confirmed with Member Pehrson that he was asking about the entryway on Novi Road. She said that was different than what they were doing in the back. He said those were two different issues. Chair Kocan said that the Applicant would remove one of the parking spaces up front. She said she thought that is what Member Pehrson wanted, but Mr. Schmitt said that would cause a deficiency that would need to be addressed by another variance.
Member Pehrson said he was trying to accomplish both. Mr. Schmitt said three spaces would have to be eliminated to eliminate the variance. To relocate any of those spaces, and still supply the stub to the north as shown in "Exhibit A", there is no place to put those spaces on the site.
Chair Kocan asked the Applicant if they understood that removal of a space would create a deficiency. Mr. Hyman understood. He said that they would be willing to remove a space, subject to a variance. Member Pehrson said then, that the removal of the front north space is requested, which requires another ZBA variance for lack of parking.
Member Cassis asked what the parking calculation was based on. Mr. Schmitt responded that it was calculated using the most beneficial numbers possible: A planned shopping center under 500,000 square feet, or one space for every 192 square feet of building. Even it were based on a typical retail center, it would still require 17 spaces. Member Cassis asked whether this was based on functional, usable square footage. Mr. Schmitt said that they have not seen a floor plan, but the Applicant has stated that the building would have two tenants of 1,656 square feet. Within that, there are no areas that can be removed under the gross floor area calculation under the City’s Ordinance at this time.
Mr. Hyman said that there are items that could be removed – the janitor’s broom closet, etc. He said until the floor plan is designed for a tenant, it is impossible to know what square footage will not be used. It is entirely possible that a variance will be unnecessary. Mr. Schmitt said that in this situation only water closets and a common lobby can be removed from the calculation.
Member Cassis interpreted this to mean that the parking requirement was based on the entire building. Mr. Schmitt said that they would have to find 200 square feet of unusable square feet to lose a parking space. He did not think that was a likely scenario.
Member Pehrson asked whether the motion should include a recommendation for a ZBA variance for a parking space deficiency as a result of moving one spot from the north side or the Novi Road area. Mr. Schmitt said that would be up to the Planning Commission, but the Planning Department would not support that because the building could simply be reduced in size so the variance would not be necessary. Member Pehrson said that he would like it added to the motion. Member Cassis and Member Ruyle agreed.
Member Pehrson asked whether the motion could have a stipulation that recommends to City Council that this Applicant must provide a stub for a potential future connection to an adjacent (southerly) property owner. Member Cassis and Member Ruyle agreed.
Member Pehrson asked whether the motion covered the landscaping requirements being met. Mr. Shipman said that there is a comment in the motion that pertained to the staff and review letters.
Member Avdoulos asked whether the aforementioned stipulation was for an access stub to the southerly property. Member Pehrson said that it was.
Member Avdoulos asked if the motion included that Exhibit A would be reviewed for the access point, and if that access could be made to the south for future connection to that site, would the secondary access waiver still be necessary. Mr. Schultz responded that the waiver would still be required, that the rest is just a recommendation that should be considered by City Council. Member Avdoulos said that Exhibit A works well for the site in providing a location for a southerly access, and then the Applicant could continue working with the Fire Marshal to design the site with safety in mind.
Member Avdoulos asked how the Applicant would seek permission from Wendy’s to enter their property for the purpose of building the office on the property line. Mr. Schmitt responded that there are temporary construction easements, temporary grading easements, etc.
Chair Kocan asked whether the Planning Commission’s finding that a 22-foot maneuvering lane is acceptable could be made part of the motion. Members Cassis and Ruyle agreed.
Chair Kocan asked whether the building should remain on the property line. Member Avdoulos said that Mr. Schmitt’s comment about moving the building at least a foot made sense. Chair Kocan asked whether the maker of the motion would agree to add the stipulation that the Applicant must move the building one foot off of the property line. Mr. Hyman responded that the stipulation will require a reduction of the building size, which represents about 119 square feet. He felt that an encroachment onto Wendy’s problem would be their problem. (tape ends; however, the developer did agree to reduce the size of the building and move it one foot off of the north property line) Both Member Cassis and Member Ruyle accepted the stipulation.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON NOVI SITE, SP02-55, MOTION MADE BY MEMBER CASSIS, SECONDED BY MEMBER RUYLE:
In the matter of Novi Site, SP02-55, motion to grant approval of the Preliminary Site Plan and Woodland Permit, subject to: 1) A DCS waiver for the requirement of a secondary access point; 2) A DCS waiver to allow for pumped discharge out of a detention basin; 3) A DCS waiver for the requirement of a turnaround if a drive exceeds 150 feet in length; 4) A ZBA variance for reduced parking lot setbacks in both side yards; 5) A ZBA variance for reduced parking lot setback in the front yard or redesign of eastern end of parking lot to meet standards; 6) A ZBA variance for reduced loading area setback in the northern side yard; 7) A ZBA variance for current location of dumpster enclosure, or redesign of plans to meet requirements; 8) A ZBA variance for lack of interior parking lot landscaping; 9) A ZBA variance for lack of four feet of interior greenspace around building; 10) A ZBA variance for lack of screening around loading zone; 11) A Planning Commission waiver for reduced building setbacks in both side yards (North: 1 ft. proposed vs. 50 ft. required; South: 26 ft. proposed vs. 50 ft. required); 12) A Planning Commission waiver to allow screen wall in lieu of ROW berm along Novi Road; 13) A Planning Commission waiver for same side driveway spacing, relative to House of Blinds (16 ft. proposed vs. 185 ft. required); 14) A Planning Commission waiver for same side driveway spacing, relative to the south Wendy’s driveway (49 ft. proposed vs. 185 ft.); 15) A Planning Commission waiver for opposite side driveway spacing, relative to Crowe Drive (27 ft. proposed vs. 200 ft. required); 16) A Planning Commission waiver for opposite side driveway spacing, relative to Kim’s Gardens driveway (180 ft. proposed vs. 200 ft. required); 17) A Planning Commission waiver for opposite driveway spacing, relative to the south Fifth Third driveway (37 ft. proposed vs. 200 ft. required); 18) A clarification of trees being removed and trees being preserved; 19) A redesign of the access drive to meet the City and RCOC requirements; 20) The conditions and items listed in the staff and consultant review letters; 21) A Planning Commission waiver for the Drainage Easement; 22) A ZBA variance for a parking space deficiency as a result of moving one spot from the north side or the Novi Road area; 23) A Recommendation to City Council that the Applicant provide a stub for a potential future connection to an adjacent southerly property owner; and 24) A Planning Commission finding that a 22- foot maneuvering lane is acceptable.
Motion carried 5-2 (Yes: Avdoulos, Cassis, Gaul, Pehrson, Ruyle; No: Kocan, Shroyer)
3. GREYSTONE OFFICE CENTRE, SITE PLAN NUMBER 04-03
Consideration of the request of Northern Equities Group for approval of a Preliminary Site Plan and Storm Water Management Plan. The subject property is located in Section 12, on Cabot Drive between Twelve Mile and Thirteen Mile in the OST (Office Service Technology) District. The subject property is 2.13 acres. The Applicant is proposing to construct an 18,692 square foot speculative research/office building.
(There were technical difficulties with the tape recorder. This review picks up with Planner Barbara McBeth already speaking)
Ms. McBeth said that the parking is located on the northwest side of the building, with some parking along the south side of the building.
The Planning Review indicated that the Planning Commission may wish to grant a waiver of the truck service area screening requirements on the southeast part of the site. There are two overhead doors, one each on the east and south walls; there is a loading zone on the south side of the building. There is a twenty-foot wide landscaped buffer along the east side adjacent to the Detroit Edison Corridor and along the south side. The Ordinance standards for OST require that service areas and overheard doors need to be totally screened from any public ROW view and from adjacent properties, by a courtyard design of the building, a decorative wall and/or a landscaped berm. The Planning Commission may choose to waive these requirements in whole or in part, where such area abuts other OST property (which is true in this case), the elevations are such that the truck loading areas are obscured, there is a peculiar or exceptional practical difficulty or hardship.
Ms. McBeth said that no wetlands or woodlands exist on the property. The Landscape Review indicated that two waivers are required for the plan as presented. One waiver is necessary for the berm requirement along Cabot Drive, either for the removal of the berm or for its undulating height. The second waiver would be for the parking lot landscaping requirements, with 2,770 square feet required and 711 square feet provided. There are also minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Traffic Review indicated there are minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. The Engineering Review recommended approval of the Preliminary Site Plan and Stormwater Management Plan. The Fire Department Review recommended approval with minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
Ms. McBeth showed the façade board. The Façade Review indicated that the Ordinance requirements have been met, but modifications are necessary for the dumpster screen. The façade is primarily brick with some mixed panel material at the main entrance.
Matthew Sosin of Northern Equities Group addressed the Planning Commission. He said that in general, the size of the building has not resulted in the request for these waivers. The calculation is approximately 8,700 square feet per acre. Northern Equities averages about 10,000 square feet per acre with their other single story buildings. At one time they had designed the site with 22,000 square feet of building and the plan did not call for a ring road and the building did not have overhead doors.
Mr. Sosin thought that the requirement was for 15% of the gross site to be landscaped, and this site provides approximately 35%. He said that he did not think that the berm waiver would be necessary by the time of Final Site Plan submittal because the current design is a result of a misinterpretation of the Ordinance and can be corrected. The landscape waiver for the parking lot is necessary because of the triangular shape of the site and the inability to place landscaping islands on the ring road. In short, the configuration of the property does not provide the space for this requirement, but the ring road provides for better traffic flow for safety purposes and that should be taken into consideration.
Mr. Sosin suggested modifying the south side of the building area which will add another 300 square feet of landscaping to the parking lot. He said there were other locations where landscaping could be tucked in but it was unlikely that the site as designed would ever meet the Ordinance requirement.
Mr. Sosin wanted this building to have overhead doors to offer flexibility to the potential renter. This building has two truck docks. One will be adjacent to the Cabot North Technology building, which is ten to twelve feet lower than the curb so it will be totally screened from any ROW view and it is another OST property. The other dock faces east and borders the utility easement which is similar to the railroad specified in the Ordinance. The other side of the easement is zoned OST, but the land is a wooded wetland that will never be developed. There is landscaping along the utility corridor.
Member Shroyer confirmed with Landscape Architect Lance Shipman that the ROW berm waiver will not be necessary. Mr. Shipman said the new proposal is to undulate the berm, but not below two feet, and shrubbery will be planted in the low areas. He said that the Ordinance requires a three-foot height but the setback is only twenty feet so undulating becomes difficult.
Member Shroyer questioned the request for the 2,059 square foot waiver on the parking lot landscaping. Mr. Shipman said that the site is at its maximum parking design; either the waiver is necessary or the building size will have to be reduced. He agreed that Mr. Sosin is attempting to add some additional landscaping to the area.
Member Shroyer asked about changing the ring road to a t-design. Ms. McBeth replied that the presented design was desirable and that traffic circulation would be better for both customers and the Fire Department. Civil Engineer Ben Croy stated that the Fire Marshal requires that 50% of the building be accessible by a paved drive so that should be taken into consideration.
Member Shroyer said that the Planning Commission could require a reduction in parking lot landscaping as opposed to a waiver. He asked what a reasonable amount of landscaping for this parking lot would be. Mr. Shipman responded that the Applicant is now proposing about 1,000 square feet, and he told the Planning Commission that they could also consider allowing a reduction in the minimum size of the parking lot islands from 300 square feet to something smaller, such as the 100-125 square feet that is currently shown on the plan.
Chair Kocan asked how the ring road was affecting the landscaping. Mr. Shipman thought that the ring was preventing the building from being placed further back on the lot which ultimately was affecting the landscaping. He said there is also a smaller calculation used for landscaping requirements that is meant to offset the ring road’s impervious surface.
Member Shroyer asked Mr. Sosin about the man doors on the east side of the building, to the south of the overhead doors. He said that these doors don’t show similarly on all the plans. Mr. Sosin said that would be corrected by the time of Final Site Plan submittal. The intent would be for there to be a man door near both overhead doors.
Member Shroyer asked what the sidewalk requirement would be. Ms. McBeth responded that sidewalks must be shown leading up to the doors. The walks would have to be a certain width and extend beyond the swing of the door. It would not be necessary to extend the sidewalk to the end of the building, but the Planning Commission could request it or they could request landscaping in that area. Mr. Sosin noted that his other buildings are designed with pads outside the man doors, not sidewalks.
Member Shroyer did not have a problem with the waiver request for the loading area screening. He supported the plan with the aforementioned items being addressed.
Member Avdoulos asked about the parking space requirement. Ms. McBeth replied that the building’s gross leasable area was 18,692 square feet on this plan, and this figure would be re-checked at the time of Final Site Plan to ensure that the parking calculation is adequate.
Member Avdoulos asked about the loading zone. Ms. McBeth said that striping that entire area as the loading zone may be a better design.
Member Avdoulos did not have a problem with the screening waiver request. He said the adjacent property was ten to thirteen feet higher, there is a ROW area and a wooded area next to that.
Member Avdoulos thought that the site plan was an efficient use of the site. The ring road is helpful and makes the site more flexible. He said it was a nice transition to have the building following the curve in the road. He appreciated the Applicant working with the Landscape Architect on the landscaping issues. He liked the undulating nature of the berm.
Director of Planning David Evancoe suggested that the loading area be shifted north and eliminating the section to the south. The curb could be placed behind it; this would provide an additional 340 square feet for parking lot landscaping. He said this design would not require the loading area to be enlarged and would provide additional buffering to the loading area.
Member Cassis was concerned with moving the loading area to an area where larger trucks may impede the driveway. He suggested that a compromise on the location of the loading zone could address everyone’s concerns.
Moved by Member Shroyer, seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of the request of Northern Equities Group for Greystone Office Centre, SP04-03, motion to grant approval of a Preliminary Site Plan and Storm Water Management Plan, subject to: 1) A Planning Commission waiver of the truck service area screening requirements, as permitted in Section 2302.A.1.c, when truck service areas abut OST zoned property, or adjustments made as discussed regarding landscaping; 2) A Planning Commission reduction of parking lot landscaping requirements to a minimum of 1,250 square feet, or a square footage agreed upon by Staff and Applicant; 3) Dumpster enclosure details to be corrected at the time of Final Site Plan Review; 4) The comments on the attached review letters being addressed at the time of the Final Site Plan Review; 5) The ROW berm being no lower than two feet and the Applicant working with the City Staff for a reduction of the minimum (parking lot landscape) requirement; and 6) The Applicant working with City Staff on the loading area being extended north, with additional area being striped to meet with the length of the parking areas; for the reasons that the Applicant has worked with the City toward reductions and resolutions to meet the City Ordinance requirements and has agreed to update the plan as discussed.
After stating the motion, Member Shroyer said that the Applicant has already alluded to adding 300-plus square feet of landscaping, and the possibility of adding landscaping through Mr. Evancoe’s suggestion would add another 300 square feet. These amounts, coupled with the already designed 711 square feet, should make the 1,250 square feet called for in the motion attainable. He said the Staff and Applicant can make the final decision together on what is the most appropriate design.
Member Pehrson asked whether the man-doors being corrected on the site plan, and some form or pathway or sidewalk as required by Ordinance for accessibility could be made part of the motion. Member Shroyer agreed to those changes, as did Member Pehrson.
Chair Kocan asked about the Fire Marshal’s request to relocate the fire hydrant 135 feet to the east into the end parking island. She noted that the Applicant said he would consider that change but she felt that he should provide a deeper commitment to changing his plan to accommodate the Fire Marshal’s request. Ms. McBeth said the Staff didn’t see a problem with the Fire Marshal’s request. Mr. Sosin said that this plan already exceeds the Ordinance requirements (250 required vs. 230 feet proposed). He said that the location suggested by the Fire Marshal is next to the dumpster and transformer. He did not necessarily agree with his position. Chair Kocan asked whether the Applicant and Fire Marshal reviewing the Fire Marshal’s request (regarding the placement of the fire hydrant) could be added to the motion, as Mr. Sosin said he would be willing to do that.
City Attorney Tom Schultz said that was fine to add that language to the motion so that the request is not misplaced. He said the Fire Marshal is looking at his own Ordinance that governs him; it is not required that the Planning Commission make this a condition – he will enforce this stipulation on his own if he legally can. Members Shroyer and Pehrson agreed to the addition to the motion.
Chair Kocan asked about the Applicant’s comment in a letter that they have "overplanted" the site as a whole. Mr. Shipman thought the submitted plan was a very well-landscaped project. From the standpoint of whether the building will have an appropriate appearance, Mr. Shipman conceded that it would. Some minor issues along the front will need to be addressed but aside from that, this project is landscaped at a higher density than some of the other sites the Planning Commission and Planning Department have reviewed, even within the confines of this complex. This design would be a positive influence on the overall appearance of the corridor. Chair Kocan agreed. She particularly thought that the undulating landscaped berm was very effective. She said she could subscribe to bending on the Ordinance requirements in light of a superior (ring road) design and other landscape considerations.
Chair Kocan confirmed with Ms. McBeth that the Applicant will justify their parking space count at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE GREYSTONE OFFICE CENTRE, SP04-03, MOTION MADE BY MEMBER SHROYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER PEHRSON:
In the matter of the request of Northern Equities Group for Greystone Office Centre, SP04-03, motion to grant approval of a Preliminary Site Plan and Storm Water Management Plan, subject to: 1) A Planning Commission waiver of the truck service area screening requirements, as permitted in Section 2302.A.1.c, when truck service areas abut OST zoned property, or adjustments made as discussed regarding landscaping; 2) A Planning Commission reduction of parking lot landscaping requirements to a minimum of 1,250 square feet, or a square footage agreed upon by Staff and Applicant; 3) Dumpster enclosure details to be corrected at the time of Final Site Plan Review; 4) The comments on the attached review letters being addressed at the time of the Final Site Plan Review; 5) The ROW berm being no lower than two feet and the Applicant working with the City Staff for a reduction of the minimum (parking lot landscape) requirement; 6) The Applicant working with City Staff on the loading area being extended north, with additional area being striped to meet with the length of the parking areas; 7) The man-doors being corrected on the site plan, and some form or pathway or sidewalk as required by Ordinance for accessibility; 8) The Applicant and Fire Marshal reviewing the Fire Marshal’s request (regarding the placement of the fire hydrant); for the reasons that the Applicant has worked with the City toward reductions and resolutions to meet the City Ordinance requirements and has agreed to update the plan as discussed.
Motion carried 6-0.
4. APPROVAL OF FEBRUARY 25, 2004 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
The Planning Commission members turned in their corrections for incorporation into the minutes. It was noted that Member Gaul left at or about midnight after the Family Fun Park review.
Moved by Member Shroyer, seconded by Member Pehrson:
Motion to approve the minutes of February 25, 2004 as amended.
Motion carried 6-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
There were no Matters for Discussion.
There were no Special Reports.
Jeffrey Wainwright, 49232 Hunt Club Court: Asked for clarification on the minutes.
Moved by Member Cassis:
Motion to adjourn.
Motion carried 6-0. The meeting adjourned at 10:39 p.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
WED 03/24/04 RULES COMMITTEE MEETING 6:45 PM
WED 03/24/04 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 04/05/04 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:30 PM
TUE 04/06/04 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 04/07/04 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, April 22, 2004 Signature on File
Date Approved: April 28, 2004 Donna Jernigan, Planning Assistant Date