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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 (arrived late), Markham, Pehrson, Ruyle, Shroyer, Sprague
Also Present: David Evancoe, Director of Planning; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Tom Schultz, City Attorney;
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The meeting attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Cassis:
Motion to approve the Agenda of June 9, 2004.
Motion carried 8-0.
Hugh McVeigh, 27070 Taft: Stated that he supported the idea of a mass rezoning of Twelve Mile properties to OST to keep the area from becoming a hodge podge of zoning in the future.
There was no correspondence to share.
Chair Markham said that the Oakland County Coordinating Zoning Committee will meet on August 10, 2004 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the City of Novi Draft Master Plan. The location is the Board of Commissioner’s room in Pontiac at the County complex. She noted that West Bloomfield’s Master Plan will be discussed on the same day.
Darcy Schmitt will attend the review. Chair Markham said she intended on being at the review as well.
Director of Planning David Evancoe updated the Planning Commission on projects that have recently gone before the City Council. The Development Agreement for The Preserve was approved. The Sandstone property, now known as Liberty Park and located at Twelve Mile and Dixon, earned its Final Site Plan approval for 113 detached units (for Phase I). There will be 304 single family homes in all. The multiple family portion of the property has not been reviewed yet. The first reading of the Accessory Structure Ordinance update was also approved.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
There were no Public Hearings.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
KARIM OFFICE BUILDING, SITE PLAN NUMBER 04-21
Consideration of the request of Ted C. Minasian for approval of a Preliminary Site Plan and Storm Water Management Plan. The subject property is located in Section 24, on the west side of Karim Blvd. and south of Grand River Avenue in the OS-1 (Office Service) District. The subject property is approximately 2.99 acres. The Applicant is proposing a two-story office building.
Planner Tim Schmitt located the property on an aerial photo. Mr. Schmitt said that some of the surrounding properties were also zoned OS-1, with RM-1 to the west, and NCC to the north along Grand River Avenue. The project and surroundings are consistent with the zoning and the Master Plan.
Mr. Schmitt said that there are no regulated woodlands or wetlands. The Planning Review noted that the building height is proposed at 31 feet, but the 30 feet is the maximum allowed. Either the Applicant can reduce the roof height or the Applicant can seek a ZBA variance. There are minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Landscape Review indicated four Planning Commission waivers are necessary. A berm is required between this property and the adjacent residentially zoned property. The Applicant requests the waiver in light of the substantial foliage in the area, and the Olde Orchards residents agree; a letter was enclosed in the Planning Commission packets for review. A waiver for the ornamental trees along the public ROW may not be necessary and the Applicant will address that issue at the meeting. The landscaping in the parking lot is deficient (by 1979 feet), and the Applicant has not provided landscaped islands every fifteen spaces.
The Traffic Review indicated that two opposite side driveway spacing waivers are required (150 feet required, 77 feet provided, and 200 feet required, 24 feet provided). The Traffic Consultant suggested no left turns be allowed from Karim Blvd to eliminate the interlocking left turn issue.
The Engineering Review and Fire Department Review indicated minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. The Façade Review indicated that a Section Nine Façade Waiver is required for the split-faced block and the percentage of asphalt brick proposed.
Ted Minasian, 41800 Eleven Mile, introduced himself. He explained that the Olde Orchard homeowners would prefer to keep the foliage between their properties and this development rather than having a berm installed. Mr. Minasian said he would add to the existing screening.
Mr. Minasian said that due to the difference in grade from the building elevation to the street, (a four-foot difference) the berm along the road would not be as practical as a curvilinear landscape wall. Mr. Minasian said that parking lot landscape waivers are required as a result of the new Ordinance language, which he believes needs to be reviewed and tweaked. The request for intermittent landscape islands does not take into account the fact an Applicant may have already provided abundant perimeter landscaping, which in this case Mr. Minasian has. He also commented that for every island a space or two is lost during the snowplow season. Mr. Minasian said he doubled the size of the building greenbelt and around the perimeter. Additionally, he has provided an island that lines up with the entrance but does not break up the fifteen spaces from the two handicapped spaces. He asked for the waivers for aesthetic and practical reasons. He said that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance.
Member Avdoulos reported that Mr. Wayne Hogan wrote a letter stating that there was not enough handicapped-accessible parking; he said that there should be nine spaces. He said that the van-accessible spaces should be split and one each located at the two busiest entrances. He said that the handicapped spaces are only eight feet wide and the other spaces are nine feet wide. There does not appear to be accessible curbs to the sidewalk, which could possibly force a handicapped patron into the drive lanes. He said that the spaces need to be longer than 17 feet.
Member Shroyer asked for clarification on the handicapped issues. Mr. Schmitt said that the letter was received by the City today, and he responded to the various issues. The Traffic Review already requested that the handicapped spaces be spread out. The ramps have also been noted and will be shown at Final Site Plan submittal. The other issues are ADA compliant. The spaces are required to be 8 feet by 19 feet (which is met with the overhang area allowed pursuant to the Ordinance). Six spaces are required, meaning only one van space is required. Mr. Schmitt said that in order for this plan to require nine handicapped spaces, the Applicant would need to provide at least 250 spaces. Mr. Schmitt reiterated that the ADA standards only require unloading area on one side of a handicapped space.
Member Shroyer asked City Attorney Tom Schultz whether the landscape waiver for more than fifteen spaces would need to be listed four times or whether one waiver covered the entire parking lot. Mr. Schultz responded that the Planning Commission was essentially approving the plan before them, so one waiver would suffice.
Landscape Architect Lance Shipman told Member Shroyer that the stormwater basin was not considered in the Landscaping Ordinance calculations. Mr. Shipman explained that the Applicant believes that their excess perimeter landscaping calculations ultimately provides more landscaping that what the Ordinance requires, if in fact the numbers are looked at as a whole.
Member Shroyer asked about the berm and opacity requirements. Mr. Shipman responded that the requirement is 80% winter, 90% summer, and that this plan may fall short without the berm. Additional evergreens may be required.
Member Shroyer asked about the façade. Chuck Fosse of Wah Yee Associates replied that the split-faced beige block is the 30-inch base around the building. The block would be laid in an ashlar pattern of various sizes. It will look more like rough-faced limestone. The balance of the building will be a medium-tan brick. The lighter shade and ample window design is meant to make the building less stark since it is a two story design next to other one story buildings. Member Shroyer supported the use of split-faced block as long as it is not used in excess.
Member Shroyer said that the southerly stub is a secondary access. City Engineer Ben Croy said that even with a shared drive with the southern neighbor the north drive would still exist and require the spacing waivers. The southerly stub is for consideration of future development (likely only one parcel due to its narrowness).
Member Shroyer asked who the Olde Orchard residents were who signed the letter. Mr. Minasian said that the first meeting they held was with the homeowners in general. The second meeting was with those residents who are directly affected or adjacent to those directly affected. Mr. Minasian produced a second letter that was not an e-mailed (unsigned) letter.
Member Shroyer said that he did not support the request for the ROW tree waiver. He said that the banks of fifteen parking spaces or less are required for environmental reasons. He believed that the Applicant should have designed a building that fit the parcel size.
Member Cassis asked about the building height. Mr. Minasian responded that the mansard roof line was designed to soften the look and serve the function of the screening fence (for rooftop appliances). He said he would redesign with the fences at the detriment of the building’s aesthetics.
Member Cassis asked about the opacity. Mr. Minasian said that the setback along the north should be ten feet but he has provided twelve feet. He said he would work with the Landscape Architect to achieve the right amount of opacity with evergreens.
Mr. Minasian said that the split-faced block for this proposal is similar to his Pinnacle offices already built in the City.
Member Cassis did not get the impression that this building’s Ordinance violations are so monumental. He preferred to have the roof shielding the rooftop appliances than a screening fence. Mr. Schmitt said that the Planning Department would work with the Applicant and the sightlines to achieve the desired look without needing a ZBA variance.
Member Cassis said that landscaped islands are a detriment during the snowplow season. He spoke from experience. He said that the island requirement is crazy. Their placement, where practical, would be welcome, but the excess landscaping around the building and perimeter is sufficient. Member Cassis will encourage the review of this new Ordinance; the idea was to increase the amount of landscaping on the property and in the case of this project, the amount has been increased.
Member Cassis said that Mr. Minasian builds beautiful buildings. He said that the location of this particular building proves that the Applicant has confidence in the future of this City.
Member Cassis supported the front wall landscaping over a berm design. He cautioned against becoming entrapped by Ordinance language, because not every property is going to be able to apply the requirements effectively.
Member Cassis confirmed with Mr. Croy that there is a potential traffic problem with the north entrance. Member Cassis noted that there isn’t much traffic on Karim Boulevard so the location of this property’s entrance is inconsequential. Mr. Croy responded that this spacing request is typical of the industrial parks; he acknowledged that the traffic in these parks is such that there is no real need for great concern. Member Cassis did not even support the "no left turn" request made by the Traffic Consultant. Mr. Croy replied that he typically agrees with the Consultant, and perhaps he felt that there may be a problem at peak traffic hours.
Member Cassis supported the project. He would expect that the Applicant would work with the Landscape Architect to arrive at a mutually acceptable landscape design.
Member Sprague did not have an issue with the façade request. He felt that the driveway locations were acceptable and questioned the need for the "no left turn" sign. He preferred the rooftop designed by the Applicant.
Member Sprague confirmed with Mr. Shipman that the foliage would have to be removed in order to add the berm. Member Sprague asked about the request for the wall instead of a berm. Mr. Shipman replied the building is positioned 3.5 feet higher than the road elevation, and there is a practical difficulty on the southwest corner in placing a berm. The height of the building is problematic, therefore creative solutions must be considered. He was confident that a design could be agreed upon that would not require a variance.
Member Sprague asked whether the additional provided landscape was equal to what was deficient on their plan. Mr. Shipman said that the Applicant has provided the appropriate ten feet along the north side. The rear property requires 29 feet, and that measures three feet from their parking lot. The south green space is largely the detention basin and not usable in the landscape calculation. There is a greater than 40% excess landscaping around their building: 4,880 square feet required, 9,918 square feet provided. Member Sprague noted that the overage is roughly 5,000 square feet, and the request for a waiver is for 2,000 square feet. He also acknowledged the damage that snowplowers do leave in parking lots. He had a general sense that the building is too big for the lot, but he will consider the other Commissioners’ comments.
Member Avdoulos reviewed the architectural drawings. He said that the top of steel is 28.5 feet, and six inches for the metal deck and roofing would come close to thirty feet. The rooftop units will be six to seven feet for a height of about 37 feet. The mansard roof will also be about 37 feet. Member Avdoulos said that the rooftop units will not be seen from the road. He was not concerned about the request for an additional foot. Member Avdoulos confirmed that the floor to floor measurement was fourteen feet. He said that could be reduced if the Applicant wanted to. Ultimately Member Avdoulos supported the Applicant going to the ZBA for the variance because it would result in a better design.
Member Avdoulos confirmed that the shingles would be textured asphalt with a shadow line. Mr. Fosse said the intent is to create a horizontal banding. Member Avdoulos supported the design, including the split-faced block.
Member Avdoulos had no issue with the request for a landscape wall, especially because it can be tied into the look of the building.
Member Avdoulos asked about the fifty-foot radius that the fire marshal requested. The Applicant responded that they thought they had met that requirement, but he would be sure to work with the marshal to provide an appropriate design.
Member Avdoulos wanted to ensure that that the Applicant and the Planning Department use the same calculations when determining the parking requirement. Member Avdoulos likes landscaped islands but felt that none needed to be near the building because of the excess landscaping in that area. Member Avdoulos’ coworker lives in Olde Orchard abutting the proposed berm location, and she told him she preferred the vegetation. Member Avdoulos noted that berms are often used to reduce headlight glare but this is an office building with daytime hours so the need for the berm isn’t as necessary.
Member Avdoulos liked that Mr. Minasian agreed to spread out the handicapped parking spaces and was going to sprinkler the entire building. He agreed with Member Cassis that the variance and waivers for this property were not as great as they originally seemed. He did not think that the traffic warranted the "no left turn." He supported the project.
Member Pehrson felt that the architect was too overzealous in his design which results in the variances.
Member Pehrson asked about the berm. Mr. Shipman replied that if the waiver is granted, there are five criteria, along with a permanent preservation easement that are required in order for the waiver. One condition is that the same level of screening is provided. Mr. Shipman believes that additional screening material will have to be added.
Member Pehrson asked about the parking requirements. Mr. Minasian said that he and Darcy Schmitt were removing the same square footages but their numbers were coming out differently, and he would be sure that they come to an agreement on the number.
Member Pehrson asked about where the excess building landscape was. Mr. Shipman said that it does appear to be in the front of the building, and the Planning Department accepted the numbers provided by the Applicant and assumed they were correct.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Ruyle:
In the matter of Karim Boulevard Office Building, Site Plan 04-21, motion to grant approval of the Final Site Plan, subject to: 1) A positive recommendation for a ZBA variance for building height requirement (Section 2400) if the need for a variance cannot be eliminated through the Planning Department; 2) A Planning Commission Waiver for a required berm adjacent to residentially zoned property in the west (Section 2509.3.a.) as a result of the meeting that was held and the recommendation that comes from the Olde Orchard tenants; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver for a required berm and 13 additional ornamental trees adjacent to the public rights-of-way (Section 2509.3.b.) in light of the landscape raised area in the front of the building; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver for a deficit of 1,979 square foot of parking lot landscaping (Section 2509.3.c.) in light of the building and perimeter landscaping shown on the plan; 5) A Planning Commission Waiver for the required parking bays for parking spaces in excess of the fifteen spaces (Section 2509.3.c) as a result of the Applicant’s previous statement that he will work with the City to make sure that the proper spaces are considered in this plan; 6) A Planning Commission waiver for the minimum opposite-side driveway spacing (150 feet required, 77 feet provided) as a result of the hardship of the property which will require a waiver in any condition; 7) A Section Nine Waiver for current building design for the bottom facade; 8) Handicapped parking spaces being spaced differently with the property curb cuts addressed at the Final Site Plan per the letter from Mr. Hogan and through the direction of the Planning Department; 9) The Applicant working with the Fire Marshal to establish and create a fifty foot radius as indicated in the letter; and 10) The comments on the attached review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan; for the reason that the Plan meets the master zoning plan.
Director of Planning David Evancoe said that there are criteria in the Ordinance that explain when the landscape islands can be waived:
Preservation of regulated woodlands or wetlands or existing trees will occur.
Stormwater runoff impacts will be lessened.
Traffic circulation will be substantially improved.
Vehicular and pedestrian safety will be enhanced.
Mr. Evancoe asked that one of these criteria be used as a finding in the motion. He supported the landscaped island criteria and said it was a benefit to the public. He cautioned the Planning Commission that this request for a variance will keep coming before them.
Member Cassis recommended that #3 applied and reminded the Planning Commission that this is Michigan and not Georgia or Texas. Piling snow on these islands are a detriment to traffic in a Michigan winter. The Planning Commission must consider practicality.
Mr. Schultz said that the criteria are meant to assist the Planning Commission in cases where there is an impracticality based on the parcel size or shape. Member Cassis said that he thought the Ordinance was written to increase the amount of landscape provided on each plan, and this Applicant was providing additional landscape.
Mr. Schultz said that if this requirement is waived for this Applicant, the Planning Commission will have to determine why they are going to waive it in every other case, and they are sure to follow.
Chair Markham supported the plan, but did not want to waive the landscaped islands. She also did not support the "no left turn" suggestion.
Member Shroyer asked the motion maker to add, "The Applicant has worked very closely with the homeowners’ association."
Member Shroyer said that he thought the waiver for the berm in the right-of-way was not necessary due to the height variance of the building and the topography of the land. Mr. Shipman said that he anticipated that there would not be a need for a waiver because they think they can work it out. Mr. Schultz said that the waiver would be subject to anything that is submitted on the next plan. Member Shroyer said that it could be added to the motion, and that he was in favor of the wall.
Member Shroyer thought that the winter and summer opacity requirements should be emphasized for the north and west borders to protect the adjacent landowners. He asked the motion maker to add all these items. Member Pehrson agreed. Member Ruyle agreed.
Member Shroyer would not support the motion because of the landscape island issue.
Member Ruyle would accept the landscape islands waiver being removed from the motion. Member Ruyle said he agreed that there is not a traffic problem that would warrant the "no left turn." Member Pehrson agreed to remove the landscape island stipulation.
Mr. Minasian asked that the islands be allowed using a slightly different numbering than fifteen, as suggested by Member Avdoulos. He also noted that the daycare across the street is now a legal office. Member Pehrson asked whether moving the handicapped spaces would affect this count. Mr. Schmitt responded that it would remove the need for a variance.
Mr. Schmitt confirmed that the shortfall of landscaping was still covered by the motion, and Member Pehrson said it was.
Member Avdoulos agreed with the changes made to the motion.
Member Sprague confirmed with Mr. Evancoe that the Planning Department would be able to provide administrative approval based on the changes made from the motion. Mr. Croy said that the Planning Department would also be able to address the radius issue at the western end and the southern end of the site. Member Sprague said he was concerned about the parking requirement being calculated on medical uses in the building and he does not believe that the building will house medical. Mr. Schultz said that these are issues that are typically dealt with administratively at Final Site Plan submittal.
Mr. Schultz asked that the berm waiver indicate that the same amount of screening will be provided and the existing foliage will be preserved.
Mr. Schultz commented that the "no left turn" requirement was not addressed in the motion.
Mr. Schmitt said that the "no left turn" is an issue in the comment letter. He said that the second driveway spacing waiver was not addressed in the motion either - A Planning Commission Waiver for the minimum opposite-side driveway spacing (200 feet required, 24 feet provided.
Chair Markham asked Member Pehrson if he was willing to add those items to his motion. He agreed as did Member Ruyle. Member Pehrson said he did not intend for the plan to have the "no left turn" requirement.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON KARIM OFFICE, SP04-21, MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON, SECONDED BY MEMBER RUYLE.
In the matter of Karim Boulevard Office Building, Site Plan 04-21, motion to grant approval of the Final Site Plan, subject to: 1) A positive recommendation for a ZBA variance for building height requirement (Section 2400) if the need for a variance cannot be eliminated through the Planning Department; 2) A Planning Commission Waiver for a required berm adjacent to residentially zoned property in the west (Section 2509.3.a.), with emphasis on the winter and summer opacity requirements for the north and west borders to protect the adjacent landowners, as a result of the meeting that was held and the recommendation that comes from the Olde Orchard tenants, with a Planning Commission finding that the same amount of screening will be provided and the existing foliage will be preserved; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver for a required berm and 13 additional ornamental trees adjacent to the public rights-of-way (Section 2509.3.b.) in light of the landscape raised area in the front of the building if the issue cannot be resolved without a waiver on the next site plan submittal; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver for a deficit of 1,979 square foot of parking lot landscaping (Section 2509.3.c.) in light of the building and perimeter landscaping shown on the plan; 5) A Planning Commission waiver for the minimum opposite-side driveway spacing (150 feet required, 77 feet provided) as a result of the hardship of the property which will require a waiver in any condition; 6) A Section Nine Waiver for current building design for the bottom facade; 7) Handicapped parking spaces being spaced differently with the property curb cuts addressed at the Final Site Plan per the letter from Mr. Hogan and through the direction of the Planning Department; 8) The Applicant working with the Fire Marshal to establish and create a fifty foot radius as indicated in the letter; 9) The comments on the attached review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan; 10) The "no left turn" requirement listed in the Traffic Consultant’s review is not necessary; and 11) A Planning Commission Waiver for the minimum opposite-side driveway spacing (200 feet required, 24 feet provided; for the reason that the Plan meets the master zoning plan and the Applicant has worked very closely with the homeowners’ association."
Motion carried 8-0.
Member Kocan arrived at 9:30 p.m.
2. APPROVAL OF MAY 12, 2004 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
The Planning Commission turned in their grammatical corrections for incorporation into the minutes.
Moved by Member Shroyer, seconded by Member Sprague:
Motion to approve the minutes of May 12, 2004 as amended.
Motion carried 8-0, abstained by Member Ruyle, who was absent from the May 12, 2004 meeting.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals for Commission action.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
DISCUSSION OF WOODLAND REVIEW BOARD
Chair Markham said that Ordinance 2003-125.16 provides for the Planning Commission to sit as the Woodland Review Board in the event that a citizen-based board has not been formed.
Director of Planning David Evancoe said that there have not been enough applicants applying for the Board in order for it to be formed, but City Council interviews are planned for the near future. He asked the Planning Commission to review the memorandum given to them with the City’s recommendations on how to handle this responsibility.
The first suggestion is for the Planning Commission to start the Woodland Review Board Agenda at 7:00 prior to the regular Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Evancoe asked the Planning Commission to remember that these are homeowners who are requesting permits for issues that are fairly innocuous – expanding a play area or extending a deck, etc. There will not be too many cases come forward. This is not meant to overburden the homeowner with a heavy process.
Member Sprague noted that this job is typically handled by three people and now it is going to be handled by nine people. He asked whether there was a legal reason preventing the Planning Commission from choosing a smaller group to act as this Board. City Attorney Tom Schultz said that when something is deferred to the Planning Commission it must be acted upon by the whole Planning Commission.
Member Avdoulos asked whether a Committee can make a recommendation to the full Planning Commission. He said that a 7:00 p.m. start time may not give the Planning Commission enough time. Mr. Evancoe said that this idea would only add another layer of review, and the information would still have to be provided to the full Planning Commission. He said the Applicant will have to provide 13 sets of plans, a narrative, photographs, a fee of $115.00 or $172.50, etc. without providing for a Committee first. He was concerned that adding a layer of a Committee review would add too much to the process. Mr. Schultz also noted that the Public Hearing would be at the full Planning Commission meeting and not at the Committee level.
Mr. Evancoe said that the number of cases vary from twelve to thirty per year.
Member Cassis said that this Planning Commission is made up of volunteers who have a lot on their plates. He asked if any other Committee could be responsible for the Woodland Review Board. Mr. Schultz said that the Ordinance would have to be amended again to allow that, since the current Ordinance names the Planning Commission as the Woodland Review Board. Mr. Evancoe said that no other Committee was considered since the Planning Commission already reviews information for woodland permits. Member Cassis felt that the Planning Commission was not the appropriate body to hear these cases because they are too cumbersome.
Mr. Schultz said that perhaps the Planning Commission could hear a few cases first before determining whether the process needs to change.
Member Kocan said that when she sat on the Woodland Review Board, they met every other Thursday for three hours during the height of the season. However, she said, no recommendations came forward with the request, as is now expected from the Woodland Consultant. She said that they probably approved half of the cases and required redesign on the other half.
Mr. Schultz told the Planning Commission that a consensus of the Planning Commission could move this process forward. Member Cassis asked that the cases be part of the regular 7:30 p.m. Agenda instead of beginning the meeting at 7:00 p.m. Chair Markham concurred, and told the Planning Commission members that they need to remember that if each member speaks for a minimum of two minutes there was potential for the Planning Commission meetings to be even lengthier than they are already.
DISCUSSION REGARDING REZONING STRATEGIES FOR TWELVE MILE ROAD PROPERTIES, (SECTION 16)
Chair Markham placed this issue on the Agenda for discussion purposes. These properties include those properties east of Beck, west of the CSX railroad, south of Twelve Mile and north of I-96. These properties are master planned for office but are currently zoned OST and residential.
Chair Markham said that one proposal for an office rezoning has already come forward. She said that there are adjacency issues when different zoning classifications abut one another. Chair Markham believes that if this City prefers to see this area develop as office, they should pave the way for rezoning these parcels for that possibility. Chair Markham said that there are legal questions relating to this issue: Should the residents initiate the rezoning? Should the City initiate the rezoning? Should the parcel owners initiate the rezoning? Should the Planning Commission be considering this issue at this time? Chair Markham asked for input from the Planning Commission.
Member Kocan said that she previously expressed support for the City sending out letters to the homeowners encouraging their joining forces, but at the same meeting it was discussed that the City shouldn’t really take that position. Member Kocan wanted to know the tax implications. What are the other ramifications that would come with a City initiated rezoning? She said that it is known that the City wants it rezoned, and it is master planned for office.
Director of Planning David Evancoe offered the pros and cons of this issue. A City initiated mass rezoning benefits the property owners in that they would not have to submit the required traffic study and pay the fees associated with a rezoning. Bill Bowman is representing many of those homeowners, and it is Mr. Evancoe’s impression that many of them would prefer the City to move on this rezoning. The disadvantage is that the City does not collect the fees and the traffic study is not done. Those items may be inconsequential compared to the benefit of this rezoning.
Mr. Evancoe said that when a City initiates a rezoning it is reminiscent of the old urban renewal days of the 1960s when local governments using federal funds would go into urban areas and declare them as target areas. Once an area is labeled as such, typically there is a drop in property maintenance, because the homeowner has no incentive to maintain his residence in a "residentially-zoned" area. This is evident along Meadowbrook Road south of Twelve Mile where residential properties were zoned to OST and now the area has a blighted, abandoned appearance.
Mr. Evancoe said that if the City moves forward it must be timed with the market. If the market dictates that this property is ready to develop as office, then the City probably should rezone it and make that happen. If the development of this area is somewhere down the road he questioned the City’s interest in creating urban blight in that area.
Mr. Evancoe said another issue is non-conforming uses. The homes on OST-zoned land would be non-conforming and not rebuildable in the event of a fire or catastrophe. That is a risk for the homeowner.
Mr. Evancoe asked if the City wants to be in the business of rezoning properties against their will. This is a policy decision. Property ownership is a sacred right. If there are some homeowners that don’t want this rezoning, the City runs the risk of lawsuits, and people feeling a heavy hand of government.
Mr. Evancoe said that a voluntary joint petition submitted by all property owners is an excellent alternative. Now the homeowners are voluntarily requesting the rezoning. It may cost them application and traffic study fees, but in exchange, they are in control of their rezoning to a much more profitable zoning district. Those initial costs are offset by the benefit they would gain.
Mr. Evancoe said that Planning Commission was right to acknowledge that going forward one parcel at a time is not really working very well. Coordinated development is a cleaner process.
City Attorney Tom Schultz said that the zoning statute allows the rezoning of property or properties at the City’s request. Holding the Public Hearing in no way obligates the City to move forward if there isn’t support by the community or the property owners. Mr. Schultz thought that this issue seems directed at access issues and the planning of a master road system for the area. Before the final adoption of the Master Plan the Planning Commission may wish to consider naming this area as a Special Planning Area and offering alternatives for a large development or a collection of smaller developments. That may be easier for the Planning Commission to do if they are also looking at the zoning. The Planning Commission may not wish to add a layout of an actual development to the Master Plan, but this much property with an access issue should be considered by the Master Plan. City control of the rezoning process gives the City a little more discretion in determining the future layout.
Member Cassis appreciated Mr. Evancoe’s position. Member Cassis said that the Planning Commission should not diminish the costs associated with this issue. He asked how the City can justify putting money toward rezoning other peoples’ property.
Member Cassis said that the City has a Master Plan in place that is updated every five years. It already states what the City’s wishes are for an area. Member Cassis asked how many rezonings the City has initiated. Mr. Evancoe and Planner Tim Schmitt replied that they were aware of the Meadowbrook rezoning, the OST rezoning, the southwest quadrant R-A rezoning and the Town Center rezoning.
Member Cassis remembered the OST rezoning as a policy decision that advanced the age of the OST and its dividends.
Member Cassis acknowledged a large land holder (not OST) to the east of the railroad tracks. He suggested the possibility of another large landowner coming forward with an (industrial) use that would not fit neatly into the OST zoning. He said that rezoning to OST may be premature and does not take into account another unique opportunity like the Expo Center coming forward.
Member Sprague appreciated the opportunity to speak about this issue. He felt that the timing was right, considering the development of the hospital on the Providence land. He felt that the voluntary joint petition was the best option but he did not have a suggestion for how to make that happen. If the City can’t make that happen he would accept the City making the rezoning happen, even if the City had to pick up the cost for the traffic study. He said that this is a visible site and the traffic and the property should not be a mish-mash disaster.
Member Ruyle recalled the Master Plan and Zoning Committee discussing this area and preferring a pre-designed service road that would accommodate the future use of this area. However, he is a firm believer that if a property owner wants his or her property rezoned, he should pay for it himself. He did not think that the City should initiate it or pay for it. He was in favor of each individual taking responsibility for his or her own rezoning.
Member Shroyer thought that the timing was perfect because of the Beck Road and Twelve Mile realignment and the low interest rates. He did not think that anyone should be coerced into rezoning, and therefore he preferred the voluntary joint petition. He asked Mr. Schultz if there would be a legal issue to addressing these homeowners regarding a discussion on this rezoning. Mr. Schultz responded that it would be very much appropriate. Member Shroyer encouraged the City to address the owners of the 19 or twenty properties and move forward. He said that it is a bit premature because the Master Plan has not yet been adopted but the City could start the process moving.
Chair Markham said that this area has been master planned for office all along. The difference now is that the Beck Road/Twelve Mile realignment is going to spur the growth in that area. She asked Mr. Schultz if the City should schedule a Public Hearing on the topic and have the residents weigh in. Mr. Schultz said there are a couple of ways to handle this issue. A formal Planning Commission Public Hearing can be held based on the City making the rezoning request. A less formal Planning Commission Public Hearing can be held that is more informational and less driven and doesn’t necessarily move the process forward.
Member Kocan asked whether there must be an Ordinance in place that allows to City to insist upon a service drive or whether this is a negotiated item with the developer. Mr. Schultz responded that, under the Michigan Statue, the City would need a plan – the obvious candidate being the Master Plan. Another way would be an incentive-based project that might require an amendment to the Ordinance. Mr. Schultz said that if the goal is to prohibit any access onto Twelve Mile then great thought must be put into this issue. It may ultimately be a combination of a plan, an Ordinance amendment and a negotiated agreement with the landowners.
Member Cassis suggested that the Planning Commission might ask the City Council for their input on this issue. He said that the City Council may be wondering just what the Planning Commission is up to. He said that direction and final say come from City Council and they also hold the purse strings. In other words, the Planning Commission could be spending time on something that does not materialize. Member Cassis suggested this issue as a topic for the next joint meeting.
Member Pehrson said that any further effort regarding this issue should include a statement explaining the Planning Commission’s intentions in moving forward on this issue. He was inclined to agree that City Council should weigh in because, for instance, a traffic study is going to cost money.
Chair Markham said that it was not the Planning Commission’s intent to start spending the City’s money, but it is the Planning Commission’s responsibility to point out areas of the City that need to be discussed. This area continually reared its head during the Master Plan process and she would not want to see it developed badly – with too many curb cuts and too many berms and too many waiver requests, etc. She said the City should be looking at this area as a total piece and should be made a talking point. She said a case could be made that the OST rezoning near M-5 has easily paid for itself. She said there is a long-term financial benefit to the City to plan this area properly now.
She said that what she heard at the table tonight was that more information is needed from the residents in the area. The financial impacts need to be identified. She said that this request could be kicked up to City Council to see if they are interested in this discussion moving forward.
Member Kocan was in favor of holding an informal informational Public Hearing, through which information can be gathered. This could then be sent forward to City Council for their review and direction – for initiation by the City, a voluntary joint petition, etc. She said it couldn’t be a letter in the City Council packet because the Planning Commission does not get answers back on letters. It has to be a City Council Agenda item.
Moved by Member Sprague, seconded by Member Cassis:
Motion to hold an informal Public Hearing on the Twelve Mile rezoning, through which information can be gathered and a recommendation can be sent forward to City Council for further action.
Chair Markham said that the Master Plan and Zoning Committee has already discussed this at length and it was time to move the issue forward.
Member Sprague said that a special effort should be made to get the affected homeowners to come to the meeting. Mr. Evancoe said that the public notice sent to these homeowners could be personalized. He did not see why anyone else would be notified by mail.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE TWELVE MILE REZONING MOTION MADE BY MEMBER SPRAGUE, SECONDED BY MEMBER CASSIS:
Motion to hold an informal Public Hearing on the Twelve Mile rezoning, through which information can be gathered and a recommendation can be sent forward to City Council for further action.
Motion carried 8-1 (Yes: Avdoulos, Cassis, Gaul, Kocan, Markham, Pehrson, Shroyer, Sprague; No: Ruyle).
Member Ruyle said that he has asked for reappointment and will interview on Monday for the opportunity to serve on the Planning Commission again. He said that it has been a pleasure for the last two and one-half years.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Sprague:
Motion to adjourn.
Motion carried 8-0. The meeting adjourned at 10:35 p.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 6/07/04 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:30 PM
WED 06/09/04 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 6/14/04 CITY COUNCIL INTERVIEW SESSION 7:30 PM
MON 6/14/04 IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE MEETING 6:00 PM
MON 6/21/04 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:30 PM
WED 06/23/04 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 07/05/04 CITY OFFICES CLOSED FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY
MON 07/06/04 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
MON 07/12/04 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:30 PM
WED 07/14/04 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, June 29, 2004 Signature on File
Date Approved: July 14, 2004 Donna Jernigan, Planning Assistant