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View Action Summary for this meeting

45175 W. TEN MILE, NOVI, MI 48375
(248) 347-0475


The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 p.m.


Present: Members John Avdoulos, Victor Cassis, Andrew Gutman, Lynn Kocan, David Lipski, Mark Pehrson, Lowell Sprague (arrived 8:55 p.m.), Wayne Wrobel

Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Director of Planning; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Mark Spencer, Planner; Lance Shipman, Landscape Architect; Ben Croy, Civil Engineer; David Gillam, City Attorney


Chair Kocan led the meeting in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.


Chair Kocan asked that Director of Planning Barbara McBeth explain an addition to the Agenda. Ms. McBeth said that some items were discussed at the most recent City Council meeting, and it was requested that the Implementation Committee and Planning Commission review the political sign issues in an expeditious manner. Ms. McBeth asked that the Planning Commission add Sign Text Amendments to the Agenda. City Attorney David Gillam said that they have been corresponding with Neighborhood Services on some clean up items as well. The request is for the Public Hearing to be set for March 9, 2005. Member Pehrson asked that the item be placed on the Agenda.

Moved by Member Cassis, seconded by Member Pehrson:


Motion to approve the Agenda of February 9, 2005 as amended.

Motion carried 7-0.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


Chair Kocan stated that Richard Gaul resigned from the Planning Commission for personal reasons. His resignation has been accepted. Interviews have been scheduled for February 14, 2005.


There were no Committee Reports.


Director of Planning Barbara McBeth explained that two items were publicly noticed in the newspaper that were ultimately removed from the Agenda. The rezoning requests for Eleven Mile and Taft Road, and Meadowbrook and Grand River Avenue, would not be heard at this meeting. They will be re-noticed when the actual Public Hearing does take place.

Ms. McBeth said that the Planning Commission received information on the sign text amendments, CIP Budget information, the City Council-adopted short term and long term goals, and City Attorney-provided memo on unlisted use determinations.

Ms. McBeth said that the City Council recently approved the fifth Island Lake RUD Amendment. They also referred the Sign text amendments to the Planning Commission.


Set Public Hearing at first available date for text amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance related to state mandated modifications to subdivision platting process.

Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:


Motion to approve the Consent Agenda.

Motion carried 7-0.



The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Neumann, Smith & Associates for reconsideration of Planning Commission conditions on Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval. This project is located in Section 19, north of Ten Mile, between Wixom and Napier Roads in the R-A, Residential Acreage, District. The subject property is 27.23 acres.

Planner Tim Schmitt told the Planning Commission that this project came before this body several years ago. He located the project on a map. Ten Mile is the property’s south frontage, Wixom Road is further east. Surrounding the property is the Island Lake development. South, across Ten Mile, is the Legacy Parc property. The property is zoned R-A, as are the properties to the north, east and west; to the south is R-1. The Master Plan for Land Use calls for single family residential uses throughout the area.

Mr. Schmitt said that there are no woodlands or wetlands. The Planning Commission previously approved the project and Special Land Use with certain stipulations. There are four conditions that the Applicant cannot meet. The Planning Department noted that given changes to the area, some of these conditions are no longer applicable.

Mr. Schmitt said that this site plan has been involved in a lawsuit pertaining to a ZBA variance that was granted. The City prevailed in the lawsuit, but during this time it was unable to approve any additional plans relating to the property. Three years have since passed, and the Planning Department and Engineering Department have noted the stipulations that are no longer applicable.

First, there was a requirement to create an escrow account for the eastern segment of water main along Ten Mile. This is on the eastern leg of the property. At the time, Legacy Parc and Provincial Glades were not site plans proposed for development. Now, the Applicant is asked to install this water main instead of escrowing the money, because the time has arrived for the water main.

Mr. Schmitt said that the second and third conditions that no longer apply are the requests for a pedestrian connection and a stub street into Island Lake to the east. At the time, that segment of Island Lake was a long cul-de-sac that had an emergency connection to Ten Mile. It was then redesigned with a stub connection to the Oak Pointe property. They have since provided a cul-de-sac that meets City standards and the request for the stub street was no longer necessary. Therefore, the stub required by Oak Pointe is no longer necessary. Mr. Schmitt showed a picture of the overall site.

Mr. Schmitt said that there were several traffic stipulations imposed on this plan. One was a Ten Mile center turn lane. Taper lanes were requested for both entrances. Another stipulation of the Special Land Use approval was the placement of a traffic light at the eastern entrance. The western entrance was considered more of an emergency access entrance. As the process continued, Legacy Parc and more phases to Island Lake came forward. A traffic light was then planned further west of Oak Pointe, to accommodate Legacy Parc and Island Lake. At the time of the subject site plan submittal, the Traffic Consultant recommended the escrow of funds for a traffic light, subject to future warrants of future phases meeting this requirement. At this time, the Planning Department recommends this stipulation be removed for several reasons. Most importantly, there are other future site plans that will actually benefit most from the traffic light. Therefore, the condition can be imposed at that time. Escrowing for this now, using today’s dollars or an escalated dollar amount, may not be as effective as originally thought. The City is beginning to have sidewalk escrow issues, in that the amounts escrowed are deficient. It is also questionable how the warrants will be met if there is a traffic light installed less than a quarter-mile away.

Mr. Schmitt said that the review letters were provided to the Planning Commission, but the actual approval of the Final Site Plan is not the request on the table. The reconsideration of those four conditions is the question. The Planning Commission has done this before, when conditions change as time elapsed. The architects and the Planning Department discussed this situation, and together they determined this recommendation was the cleanest route with which to proceed. The Planning Department, the consultants and the Applicant will continue to work together in order to meet the terms of the other stipulations

Gene Carroll of Neumann Smith Architects represented the Applicant. He said that the church has been consistent in its cooperation with the adjacent landowners. They have worked hard to design the pedestrian connections for the safety and welfare of the community. They will continue to design a plan that weaves the church into the community as best as possible.

Mr. Carroll said that they have reviewed the comments on their plan and have already begun addressing them. They feel they can comply with all of the comments.

Mr. Carroll said that this is a phased development. The zoning requirements have been met with each of the phases. He expressed that at no time will the development look unfinished. The materials are not in any way inferior. They are using brick, glass and stone. They have met the intent of the Façade Ordinance. Each phase will be handled with quality and care.

Chair Kocan asked Member Cassis to read the public comments into the record:

· Robert J. Reuter, 50564 Langley Drive: Conditionally supported the request under the assumption that the use of the property is typical of a church and not a model airplane club.

· Deepinder Singh, 24793 Terra Del Mar Drive: Objected as he felt the area should remain purely residential.

No one from the audience wished to speak so Chair Kocan closed the Public Hearing.

Member Avdoulos remembered this project from a few years ago. He noted that the architect has stated his intent to meet the terms of the review comments. There were engineering concerns that pre-empted the recommendation for approval by that discipline. He was unsure whether the Applicant was expected to comment on those items for this meeting, as this request focuses on the four items. Mr. Schmitt explained that Member Avdoulos was correct – this review before the Planning Commission is to clean up the four items previously discussed. There are no plans to stamp the submitted Final Site Plan until various concerns are addressed. Civil Engineer Ben Croy commented that there are engineering concerns that can be cleaned up. Typically, the City prefers not to recommend approval when there are so many concerns, but none are big concerns.

Member Avdoulos thought that the center turn lane was shifted to the east and the way it is noted, it should have been shifted to the west. He did not see any issues with that, other than the issue should be clarified.

Member Avdoulos read the minutes to discern how the stipulations were arrived at. He believes that what has been presented is applicable. He did not have any problem with the removal of these conditions, since circumstances have changed. Member Avdoulos was acquainted with this architectural firm and therefore had great faith in their ability to design.

Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:

In the matter of the request of Neumann, Smith & Associates for Oak Pointe Church, SP01-18, for reconsideration of the Planning Commission conditions on the Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval, motion to approve the removal of: 1) The stub street to the neighboring Island Lake property condition, as that development has been approved without the stub street connector; 2) The pedestrian connections to the neighboring Island Lake property condition, as that development has been approved without the stub connection; 3) The water main escrow condition for the construction of the water main across the easterly frontage, as the water main must be constructed at this time; and 4) The escrow for a traffic light condition for the easternmost entrance of the church, as a traffic light is going to be installed approximately 500 feet west at the entrance to Legacy Parc and Island Lake; the plan is subject to all other conditions of the Staff and Consultant review letters, for the reasons that the Preliminary Site Plan has been previously approved and meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance.


Member Pehrson asked what the timing was for the phases of the plan. Mr. Carroll said there is no true schedule for the phases. The intent is that Phase One would be completed and then the subsequent phases would follow as the congregation can support them. Phase Two will likely be the classroom addition, which is immediately west of the first phase. This phase would not require additional parking. It would be a natural fit with the first phase. The timing has not yet been declared. It would be soon after the completion of Phase I that the church would look to move forward with Phase Two.

Member Pehrson asked whether both entrances would be built with Phase One. Mr. Carroll answered affirmatively.

Member Cassis asked Landscape Architect Lance Shipman about the review dated January 14, 2005, wherein it is stated that the landscape buffers abutting the right-of-way lacks in diversity and is sparse on the berm. Mr. Shipman said that the City anticipates the resubmittal of the Final Site Plan will address that concern. Those are the standing comments.

Chair Kocan asked Mr. Carroll about the phasing. He said that there are six proposed phases. The first phase is the multi-purpose and church proper areas. It also includes some classrooms and office areas. Phase Two would be the classroom wing. A subsequent phase would be a chapel. The fourth phase is a pre-function space between what would be become a primary sanctuary to be added to the west. That would be the fifth phase. The final phase would be ball fields and soccer fields on the north end of the property. They may not necessarily be built in that order.

Chair Kocan asked whether there is an Ordinance requirement for completion of the phases. Mr. Schmitt responded that it is not typical to receive a time schedule on a phased project. Usually, with churches, it is based on the growth of a congregation and their ability to raise funds. From the City’s perspective, they are prepared to approve Phase One and Phase Two is expected to come shortly afterward. Outside of that, they are unable to speculate when to expect the other phases. It is going to be based on when the church brings in their plans. There are provisions in the Ordinance in terms of when a project would expire and when there are vested rights to be able to move forward. Each subsequent phase will be looked at with that in mind. If it is in ten years that Phase Three comes forward, it will not likely be administratively approved. If it is in eighteen months, and Phase One is just wrapping up, it will likely be approved administratively. The Director of Planning will be asked to weigh in at the time of site plan submittal if there seems to be a grey area. Assuming the plan meets the requirements of Section 2516 relative to timing, there won’t be an issue.

Chair Kocan wondered if there is the three-year time frame like Preliminary Site Plans. Mr. Schmitt said there are expiration provisions, but a lot of it depends on construction. Site plans expire, but projects under construction have different elements to consider.

Chair Kocan said that most of the parking and both entrances will be installed during Phase One. She asked if the westerly driveway would be gated from the onset. Mr. Carroll said that at one time that was proposed, but they have since been asked to make that an open drive. It would be designed as a right turn out only. The main entrance will be the boulevarded easterly entrance. Both would be accessible and open. These concerns were discussed with the Traffic Consultant and the Road Commission of Oakland County. Mr. Carroll said that previously someone commented on the left turn lane and its juxtaposition to the drives. The RCOC has asked for this design. The Applicant has been considering whether it should be shifted to the west, and they plan to work with the RCOC and the Traffic Consultant to determine the best solution.

Chair Kocan said the original request for the traffic light was for its use on Sundays only. It was also asked at that time that traffic along this strip of Ten Mile be monitored. She asked whether there was an instrument in place to correct traffic problems if this church grows too big.

Mr. Schmitt said that both traffic reviews agree that Phase One will not require a traffic light. Birchler Arroyo previously stated that the traffic light will be evaluated with subsequent phases. The question becomes at what point is the light warranted. At some point in the future, the Applicant will bring in a set of plans that indicates the size of the congregation warrants a signal. At that time, the light will be a condition of that approval. At this time, the light is recommended for removal from this approval, because there is concern about escrowing the right amount of money now for something so far down the road. There is no need for the Planning Commission to do anything special. There is continued jurisdiction because the church doesn’t have final approval for the whole site. This light issue will be reevaluated with each phase.

Chair Kocan confirmed that this classroom phase is for Sunday school, not parochial school. She said that a comment was made in 2001 that no income-producing activities will be held on site. Mr. Carroll agreed.

Chair Kocan asked whether the model airplane club would continue to operate. Mr. Carroll was unsure about the lease they have. Mr. Schmitt said that an article in the paper indicated that the club is already looking for a new site. He believed they would be off of the site within the year.

Chair Kocan asked about the engineering comment about berm drainage. The statement said, "…to the extent feasible, please don’t allow the water to drain on the neighboring property." It was her understanding that one cannot drain their site onto another’s property. She understood there would be a berm on this property, and in some cases there is a berm on the Island Lake property. She thought there should only be one berm, and this has already been discussed; it may alleviate some drainage problems. Mr. Croy said that the City has realized that drainage on the back sides of berms must be collected. This may not be a problem with smaller berms because most of their run-off will drain into the berm. The larger, deeper sloped berms can create a considerable amount of water. It won’t go far, but it may burden the adjacent property. That is the issue that the City is trying to get controlled. The term "to the extent feasible" basically acknowledges that not all water will drain away, and that a catch basin cannot be located every two feet.

Chair Kocan noted that the lighting plan has not yet been submitted. She asked the City to ensure that the lighting is downward. Mr. Schmitt said that there is a light plan and it meets the Ordinance requirements. The light height will be added to the plan. Mr. Carroll said that they were delinquent in showing the lighting cut and the maximum height of the pole is 25 feet. Chair Kocan said that if the height could be lowered it would be appreciated.

Chair Kocan said that there is a new Landscape Ordinance and a new Stormwater Ordinance that requires a 100-year retention requirement, not a ten-year requirement. She asked what the City policy was on plans whose site plans are three or four years old. Mr. Gillam said that from a legal standpoint, there were certain rights vested to the land owner at the time of Preliminary Site Plan approval. What complicates this situation is that the delay is not attributable to the Applicant. An adjacent property owner challenged a decision of the ZBA. Given the previous approvals and the fact that the delay is not attributable to the Applicant, the City is in no position to apply current Ordinances that were not in effect at that time. The Planning Commission could possibly make an argument that the conditions that are being considered tonight are related to changes in the Ordinance, then maybe there would be a reason to enforce the new Ordinances. However, the real reason is the change in surrounding circumstances has eliminated the need for those stipulations. He could not see how the Applicant could be held to a higher standard now than what was in place at the time of their approval. Chair Kocan supported the motion.


In the matter of the request of Neumann, Smith & Associates for Oak Pointe Church, SP01-18, for reconsideration of the Planning Commission conditions on the Special Land Use and Preliminary Site Plan approval, motion to approve the removal of: 1) The stub street to the neighboring Island Lake property condition, as that development has been approved without the stub street connector; 2) The pedestrian connections to the neighboring Island Lake property condition, as that development has been approved without the stub connection; 3) The water main escrow condition for the construction of the water main across the easterly frontage, as the water main must be constructed at this time; and 4) The escrow for a traffic light condition for the easternmost entrance of the church, as a traffic light is going to be installed approximately 500 feet west at the entrance to Legacy Parc and Island Lake; the plan is subject to all other conditions of the Staff and Consultant review letters, for the reasons that the Preliminary Site Plan has been previously approved and meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance.

Motion carried 7-0.


The Public Hearing was opened for Planning Commission recommendation to City Council to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, Ordinance 97-18 as amended, for the purpose of adding Section 2523, Unlisted Use Determination, to allow the Planning Commission to determine in which, if any, zoning district a unique or unlisted use belongs.

Planner Tim Mr. Schmitt addressed the Planning Commission. He asked the Planning Commission to note the updated draft of the text amendment that was a result of the Director of Planning, Planning Commission Chair and the City Attorney re-discussing the issue. Mr. Schmitt said that this text amendment has come forward not as a specific or pending request, but as a result of a previous request to consider where a doggie daycare might fit into the Ordinance, as it is a use that is not specifically stated. Requests such as this could be directed to the ZBA, however the standard of review at that level is substantially higher than with other variance cases. There is not a great mechanism in the Ordinance that would bring this request before the Planning Commission. Ultimately, the Master Plan and Zoning Committee and Implementation Committee discussed this request, and the doggie daycare Applicant did go before the ZBA, where they received an interpretation that their use was not more objectionable than other uses in the I-1 District.

Mr. Schmitt explained that this process brought up the question of what happens the next time someone comes forward with an interesting or unique use that is not described in the Ordinance, where would it be allowed. This text amendment, he said, would allow the Planning Department to review an Applicant’s request, and recommend that the Planning Commission make a formal determination for the Applicant. The Planning Commission could hear the request, and make a finding that the use is not specifically listed or contemplated; then, they would identify which of the zoning districts would be appropriate for the use. At that point, the Applicant could submit a Special Land Use application to receive the formal approval for the specific site they have chosen.

Mr. Schmitt said that this proposed language would clear up one of the issues relating to Euclidean zoning, that a municipality cannot possibly list every use that might come forward. He stated that the City Attorney has proposed some language for the Planning Commission to consider at this meeting, and subsequently make a recommendation to City Council.

Chair Kocan told the Planning Commission that previously the Implementation Committee agreed upon language for this text amendment. Upon her further consideration, Chair Kocan said it seemed like the language was missing something. She said that after the three bullets about what the Planning Commission determines, the Ordinance states that a Special Land Use may be filed. Chair Kocan wanted this language to be more specific, so the Applicant understands that this is specifically a Special Land Use, and that Special Land Use considerations must be followed. The language was changed to, "… if this,…. then the Planning Commission shall specify which district or districts are appropriate."

Chair Kocan said that one of the issues pending with the Implementation Committee what whether this matter should be site specific or district specific. She asked City Attorney David Gillam to comment. Mr. Gillam responded that this language requires the Planning Commission to make a determination at the request of the Planning Department. This determination does not guarantee that the Special Land Use will be approved. The language just opens the door for an Applicant to make application. The normal process will follow, and this includes a Public Hearing. Mr. Gillam continued that considering this matter as a site specific issue is putting the cart before the horse.

Mr. Gillam said that the first step is for the Planning Commission to determine in which district an unspecified use could be located. Afterward, a specific location can be considered. The more general question must be answered before the more specific question. If the Planning Commission considered a use for a specific site, a Public Hearing would have to be held. It could be determined that the site with such a use is not acceptable, so the Public Hearing was held unnecessarily. The determination on the district should be made first, so that the Special Land Use review can proceed in normal fashion.

Chair Kocan noted that the seven measures of applicability of the Special Land Use language must apply, which therefore ensures the compatibility of the use to the site chosen. Chair Kocan said she was comfortable with the new language.

Mr. Gillam said that the new language provides the same intent and purpose as the language that existed when the Hearing was publicly noticed. He said that there weren’t any material changes. It’s just a question of fine tuning the proposed language.

Chair Kocan opened the floor for public comment. No one wished to speak so she closed the Public Hearing.

Member Cassis approved of the City Attorney’s comments. He said that the minor change proposed might possibly deter a problem in the future. He was comfortable with the language.

Member Avdoulos said that when a district is determined for a specific use, it allows the Applicant to search through the City for an appropriate site in the proper zoning district. Approving the use for a specific site is too specific. He said that in the example of the doggy daycare, he has seen the use in several districts – commercial, office and industrial. He said that determining the appropriate districts for a use is more helpful. He approved of the proposed language, although it was more lengthy.

Member Pehrson noted that the words, "if any", were not in the original language, which concerned him. The determination of adding a use to a district is based on a set of criteria and the Planning Commission should have the option of not naming a district.

Moved by member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:

Motion to approve the amended version provided by the City Attorney on proposed Text Amendment 18.193 for Unlisted Use determinations. Motion carried 7-0.


Chair Kocan asked that the language reflect that it is a motion to recommend approval to City Council, and that the amended version is actually the revised amended version. Member Pehrson and Member Gutman agreed.


Motion to recommend approval to City Council of the revised amended version provided by the City Attorney on proposed Text Amendment 18.193 for Unlisted Use determinations.

Motion carried 7-0.


The Public Hearing was opened for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, Ordinance 97-18 as amended, for the purpose of clarifying several sections throughout the Zoning Ordinance 25, including modifying the loading standards for banks, clarifying the definition of net site area, and fixing several inconsistencies in the Landscape Ordinance.

Planner Tim Schmitt told the Planning Commission that this amendment is a conglomeration of review by the Planning Department and the Implementation Committee on Ordinance items that have issues relating to their interpretation or implementation.

Mr. Schmitt said that the first four items relate to the "net site area" definition in the Ordinance. In the past, there has been confusion as to whether the right-of-way land is used in calculating density. The Planning Department has always excluded the land. The ZBA has reviewed this item, and they have suggested that the language in the Ordinance be reviewed and improved to prevent any future misunderstandings. The four main references in the Ordinance have been updated in this proposed language, to clarify that the net site area will exclude the wetlands identified under the State Act, and existing and statutory authorized right-of-ways. It clarifies the chart in Section 2400 to net site area instead of gross acre. In the RUD section, it removes a long-winded paragraph and just adds the three necessary words. In the Open Space Preservation Option it adds in the language of existing and statutory right-of-ways. The term net site area was not used in this section because this Option discusses wetlands separately.

Mr. Schmitt said that the fifth item is a proposal to address the issue with banks not wanting to have a loading zone because their deliveries come through the front door. This language will allow banks to design a site without a loading zone, provided they can demonstrate that it will not affect their operations.

Mr. Schmitt said that the next items were landscaping items. The first one is for subsection 4, not 6, and will be added as a second paragraph of 2509.3.a. The intent of this proposal is to clarify the need for berms between residential and non-residential properties. Typically, the berm is provided by the non-residential user, but in cases where the non-residential user is already built built first, the onus for providing a berm does fall to the residential user. The proposed language clarifies this situation.

Mr. Schmitt said there was an omission in part 7. In the very first row, (single family residential right-of-way landscape screening requirements chart), the third cell over under greenbelt width states 34 feet and should be forty feet. The other locations in the Ordinance were updated with the right number, but somehow this location was missed. This is also true for the multi-family just below the single family residential, adjacent to no parking. Both of these 34 foot measurements will be updated to forty feet.

Mr. Schmitt said that there is a column in the chart that requires pedestrian lighting. There are no standards for pedestrian lighting. This request is in conflict with Section 2511, the Exterior Lighting Ordinance. The Planning Department recommends removing this column from this chart, as the request is handled elsewhere in the Ordinance.

Mr. Schmitt said that two footnotes need to be updated. First, some districts don’t require sidewalks, which raises the question of where an Applicant should place his street trees. This will clarify that street trees will be placed midway between the curb and the right-of-way line where no sidewalks exist. Footnote 12 clarifies that street trees cannot be in the clear vision triangle.

Mr. Schmitt said that in Parts 8 and 9 refer to building foundation plantings. Trees cannot be placed in front of entry doors. It is difficult to put landscaping along drive-through aisles. Part 8 will exempt those areas from foundation plantings. Part 9 returns the ability to waive building foundation plantings to the Planning Commission. This was an error which is now corrected – this change will make this part of the Ordinance consistent with all the other waiver provisions in the Ordinance. The Applicant will still have to demonstrate his need for this request and provide the landscape elsewhere on the site.

Mr. Schmitt reiterated that these are all just clean-up items. The Implementation Committee may take on some of the greater challenges in the future.

Chair Kocan closed the Public Hearing after determining no one from the audience wished to speak.

Member Pehrson said it was a good exercise to clean up these items. He said that it signifies the need for the Ordinance to be updated to keep up with the times. He commended this work. He would encourage the entire review of the Ordinance – to streamline it and modernize it.

Member Pehrson and Mr. Schmitt discussed that the RUD Ordinance does not apply to R-4 zoning. Member Pehrson asked about how the Planning Commission and an Applicant are supposed to come to terms with the waiving of a landscape requirement. Landscape Architect Lance Shipman explained that the Applicant typically has a site constraint or practical difficulty that inhibits a specific project from meeting this Ordinance. When this happens, they will present their solution or explain why they cannot meet the term. The Planning Department would review this information first and determine whether the Applicant’s statement is valid. The Planning Commission would then make the determination that the Applicant has met the intent of the Ordinance. Mr. Shipman said there are not a lot of valid situations that would allow this waiver. Mr. Shipman said that a good example is when an Applicant has provided the four foot greenbelt but the Fire Department would prefer less greenbelt in an effort to increase the turning radius in that area. This is a situation that could be waived by the Planning Commission. He reminded the Planning Commission of the various bank requests for waiving certain landscaping requirements that they have already seen. This is a security issue for banks. Keeping a clear view into a bank is important from a law enforcement point of view.

Mr. Shipman said that item C is meant to change the waiver into a give-take situation. If the Planning Commission grants a waiver for a landscape item, item C requires the landscape replaced elsewhere on the site.

Mr. Schmitt explained to Member Pehrson that "banks and other financial institutions" is a catch all phrase that would include credit unions (but not something like H&R Block).

Member Gutman approved of the changes.

Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Pehrson:

Motion to accept Text Amendment 18.194, to include those changes stated during the Public Hearing.


Chair Kocan noted that this is a motion to recommend approval to City Council. Members Gutman and Pehrson agreed.

Member Cassis said that Section 2405.3.a requires 20% open space. Though he would not wish to stop these changes from moving forward, he was against this 20% requirement as it does not represent the shift to modern urbanism. It does not provide for a nice downtown area. He said it fosters urban sprawl. He said there is advantage to ensuring some open space, but he suggested lower numbers like 10 or 15%. He said that this is raising the cost of development. He said that he would prefer for the Implementation Committee to consider different measurements and different zoning uses.

Chair Kocan thought that the 20% open space (in the Open Space Option) was a requirement pulled directly from a State Law. Director of Planning Barbara McBeth responded that this 20% is an option of the developer and he typically gives this in exchange for some other feature on the site plan, e.g., reduced lot width without an increase in density.


Motion to accept and recommend approval to City Council of Text Amendment 18.194, to include those changes stated during the Public Hearing.

Motion carried 7-0.

Chair Kocan asked that the record show that Member Sprague had arrived.


1. Planning Commission Budget

Director of Planning Barbara McBeth told the Planning Commission that the budget provided to them for review is the formal write-up that, when approved by this body, would go on to City Administration and then on to City Council. Ms. McBeth said that the document outlines those items identified by the various Planning Commission Committees. The three projects that are outlined on the Service Improvement Forms are:

$8,000 for the Greenways and Trails Plan. (Environmental Committee) This was approved for the current budget year. Planner Darcy Schmitt is spearheading this plan. She has been doing the legwork on this assignment, and plans to meet with the Environmental Committee very soon to complete it. The allocation of $8,000 is for the printing and publishing costs. The plan is being done in-house.

$45,000 for the Zoning Ordinance update (Master Plan and Zoning Committee) This amount was requested for FY2005-06, and another $20,000 will be requested in FY2006-07 for formatting and printing.

$8,000 to update the Woodland and Wetland maps. This has been requested in the past as well.

Ms. McBeth said that there was also a $10,000 request for the ongoing printing and publishing of the Master Plan and the Fiscal Analysis. Ms. McBeth said that this cost is recaptured in the general fund as people purchase the Master Plan through the City Clerk. This was originally listed as $22,000+/- but the demand for these Master Plan books will probably wane beyond the current fiscal year; $10,000 would allow for future printing if necessary.

Ms. McBeth said that $14,400 is proposed in the Conferences line item, which would allow six members to attend the State Planning Conference at $700 each, three members to attend the National Planning Conference at $2,000 each, and three members to attend the Citizen Planner Program at $200 each. The Planning Commission refreshments are also included in this line item. The Memberships and Dues line item provides for the Planning Commission members to belong to the APA and receive their monthly magazine. There is $900 requested for local seminars and briefings. The Planning Department requested that the Zoning Map Amendments allocation be removed from the Planning Commission budget and placed in the Planning Department budget. This is an administrative function pertaining to the printing of the maps in the newspaper. That decreased the Planning Commission’s budget by $2,578.

Member Pehrson said this was important because these sums could go to zero in a heartbeat, but the document that outlines the priorities provides very good information. Priority One is the Greenways and Trails Plan. The intent of this request is to help the City procure Greenways grant money. The comment listed on the Service Improvement Plan explains that the City may lose an opportunity to get grant money with a Greenways Plan in place. Member Pehrson said this is a goal and priority adopted by the City, and this $8,000 may pay off many-fold. It is an unknown, but it is money well spent if it will help the City get grant money.

Member Pehrson said the Zoning Ordinance revision is necessary or the City is working with an outdated tool that will hinder the City’s ability to accomplish their Master Plan. The Master Plan is now an approved document. This is a tool that the City wants to use, and now the City has a Fiscal Plan for a tool as well. This Ordinance revision is another good tool.

Member Pehrson said that the updating of the wetland and woodland maps requires a very small sum. Not approving this request provides a window of opportunity for developers to challenge the administration of the Ordinance if the maps are inaccurate. Again, the request does spend money, but it is important to spend wisely. These are three requests that Member Pehrson does not want to see removed from the budget. They can provide grants, it helps with planning and it helps shore up any challenge that a developer might bring forward against the City for using outdated information.

Member Pehrson said that every department is going to be vying for position in front of City Council. He said these are three very important items he would not like to see removed from the budget.

Member Cassis discussed Conferences and Workshops. He said that last year the Planning Commission used $3,700. Ms. McBeth said that was FY2003-04. He wondered whether asking for $14,400 on this budget was prudent.

Chair Kocan interjected and said this was a philosophical question. If the Planning Commission does not make the request, it may be determined that it is not a priority to get training or meet with other communities. Although she agreed that perhaps it made more sense to ask for an allocation to cover one person, in the past it has been determined it is better to stick with what is implied by the Planning Commission rules, i.e., it is important to have training and to be in sync with what is going on around the country.

Member Cassis made his comment with a heavy heart. He has attended those conferences. He has attended many sessions and they were interesting. Meeting other communities and exchanging ideas is invaluable. He would go along with the proposed figure, but said the Planning Commission should be prudent in looking at where it’s going to be and how many should go. The Planning Commission members can share the knowledge amongst themselves.

Member Sprague said that budget amount goes forward every year, for the past two or three years. The amount is never spent. He thought that spending the money prudently is very important. That has been the case. He said it is a valid question whether this Planning Commission still wants to recommend this amount, with the expectation that they are not going to spend it. It is placed in the budget to reserve the right to attend. That has been their practice. They could cut it back down when they are ready to say they believe that some of the other items are a higher priority. In the past, the budget has been used to communicate which issues the Planning Commission thinks are important. When the Planning Commission feels there are items that absolutely need to be approved, then this is an area that can be backed away from. He believed that the City Manager will revise these amounts before the budget goes before City Council.

Chair Kocan wished to clarify that the budget is always cut, it is not that the Planning Commission does not use the amount.

Member Sprague said that last year the Greenways Plan was removed from the budget by the City Manager, and the City Council reinstated it; that is the process. He supported requesting the $14,400 for conferences.

Member Gutman thought an excellent job was done on the budget. He agreed with Member Cassis’ comments. It’s hard to present a budget when it is already known that the amounts will be slashed; the Planning Commission could present lower numbers and show fiscal responsibility. He also said that it is part of the City Manager’s job to check the numbers for fiscal responsibility. Member Gutman said in the case of the conference money, the Planning Commission could choose to reduce the number to assist the City Manager in his review. He said that was an area that the Planning Commission could take another look at. Member Gutman said that since the budget shows the Planning Commission priorities, this will help the City Manager in understanding the Planning Commission’s top goals.

Member Wrobel said he agreed with all of the comments, especially those made about Conferences and Workshops. He said that education is necessary, but looking at it from a taxpayer’s point of view, it looks like a boondoggle for somebody to go away. He thought it was important to look at the issue to determine whether the Planning Commission really needs to go, and how many really have to go. It is public perception. The Planning Commission should be careful.

Member Avdoulos said that in his experience at his office, the first things looked at in their budget are the educational opportunities. In a professional sense they are important. In his profession of architecture, they get to meet people at the state level that they will have to present projects to in the future. They get the latest updated requirements and codes. That becomes helpful because it translates to their work. This type of educational workshop for Planning Commissioners, like the local Citizen Planner program, is important. Planning Commission members come from different areas of profession. They may not understand the best way to review a project or what the important issues are to look at. As a Planning Commissioner goes through the Citizen Planner program, they become aware of what other cities are going through. The Planning Commissioners in other that cities that equal Novi or surpass it in size may not even be as up to date as Novi. This gives validation to where the City is. It also helps to streamline thoughts. It is important to keep the request in there. There are regional and national levels. It is important to keep Novi fresh and at the top of its games. People are moving into this community because of what it is. Novi has high end homes and good school systems. Member Avdoulos said that developers want to come to this City, and he sees Novi becoming more streamlined and more user friendly.

Member Avdoulos said that spending money to update the Ordinance will also expedite and streamline things for the developers. If the City can put a provision in there for use definition, waivers that the Planning Commission can handle, that is one less hurdle for the developer. It is less time they have to spend in front of Committees. All of these items have a an domino effect. He looked at the requests as how are they going to help the City, not him personally. He agreed that the Planning Commission has to be prudent. Things typically are weeded out as the budget moves from the City Manager to City Council. Member Avdoulos also noted that the Planning Commission felt very strong about the Greenways Plan last year and they told City Council. It was kept in the budget. He thought that the budget as proposed is appropriate.

Chair Kocan said Ms. McBeth would be the Planning Commission’s advocate in front of the City Manager. She appreciated all the comments. She, too, teetered on the request for Conference money. She said that training had been removed in the past few years, but the Staff was now able to do some training. The Planning Commission’s priority is to have everyone go to some sort of training annually. She definitely supported the money for six people to go to the State Conference. She thought it was previously requested at $800 per person, not $700 per person. She also wanted to keep in the request for three Citizen Planner attendees. She also agreed with the refreshment line. Sometimes the Committees meet at 5:30, and the refreshments mean a lot in those instances. It allows members to relax a little. At minimum she would want the Conference line to be at $7,200.

Chair Kocan added up the items and noted that the number was $12,600, so she was not sure what the other $1,800 represented.

Member Cassis thought that in all disciplines there are audio-visual items available for review. He suggested that the Planning Commission avail themselves of these items. Tapes could be broadcast over Channel 13. These are items that could be absorbed and provide the Planning Commission with more knowledge. Planner Tim Schmitt said that the APA does a series of conferences that are available over the web, on cassettes and on DVDs. It is something that can be done for the Planning Commission and certainly could be looked at. Chair Kocan said that some conference materials are already owned by the City. Topics include Land Use Negotiating, Legal Issues, Sprawl Issues, etc. Ms. McBeth said that there is the $900 line that could be used by the Planning Commission for these types of materials.

Member Pehrson stated that his most useful training tool thus far was the legal training provided by the City Attorney’s office. He felt that was very a practical workshop.

Moved by Member Sprague, seconded Member Pehrson:

Motion to approve the Planning Commission Budget for fiscal year 2005-2006 as presented to recommend to City Council.


Member Gutman asked whether the motion could reflect a reduction to $7,200 of the Conferences and Workshops line item. Member Sprague and Member Pehrson agreed. Chair Kocan recapitulated that $7,200 covered $4,200 for the State Conference, $600 for Citizen Planner attendees, $1,800 for food, and an additional untapped $600.

Member Lipski asked that the licensing and intellectual property laws be reviewed and that the City confirm the appropriateness of the sharing of the conference materials, both among the Planning Commission members and the showing on cable TV. In principal he thought it was a great idea because it provides a legitimacy of those conferences. But he wanted to protect the City from committing any wrongdoing.


Motion to approve the Planning Commission Budget for fiscal year 2005-2006 as presented to recommend to City Council, with the Conferences and Workshops line item reduced to $7, 200.

Motion carried 8-0.


Chair Kocan told the Planning Commission that this Agenda item is meant to set a Public Hearing for Text Amendment to the Sign Ordinance relating to non-commercial message signs, election and political signs, and other Sign Ordinance changes recommended by Neighborhood Services. The request is for this item to be placed on the first available Agenda; however the Implementation Committee would also like to have a look at this. Implementation Committee cancelled their February 14, 2005 meeting. City Council would like this item back by the end of March.

Planner Mr. Schmitt said that this item will be noticed publicly for the March 9, 2005 Agenda. Planning Commission could choose not to send it to the Implementation Committee, and do the review as a full Commission.

Chair Kocan said that the changes are minor, and the one concept within the election and political sign segment came about as a result of an ACLU or freedom of speech lawsuit. This change removes the restriction of when a sign can be put out. Technically, this new Ordinance will allow signs to be placed today for the election in November.

Chair Kocan also said there are no restrictions on how many signs can go in commercial or store buildings. As long as the message is non-commercial and it is smaller than six square feet, there are no limitations. She wondered if this was an oversight that could cause a proliferation of signs. These signs may include advertising for school dances or political signs, etc. She said that perhaps getting this information to Planning Commission a bit earlier would be acceptable, in the event that the Implementation Committee does not review it beforehand. Chair Kocan and Member Cassis were comfortable with that.

Member Sprague said that his understanding was that the restrictions currently in place would be removed with this amendment. He asked that the City Attorney comment on what restrictions would be acceptable. Member Sprague opinionated that year-round political signs may be considered obnoxious by some. Member Sprague wanted to know whether any restrictions would be acceptable before he could render his decision on the amendments.

Moved by Member Sprague, seconded by Member Gutman:

Motion to set the Public Hearing on Sign Ordinance Text Amendments for March 9, 2005.


Member Pehrson asked why the verbiage was "non-commercial", i.e., why weren’t political signs specifically mentioned. City Attorney David Gillam said that the movement in the Ordinance to the use of "non-commercial" reflects an acknowledgement of cases that have been in court throughout the country. Rather than narrowing the concept to just political signs, the City is trying to keeps its Ordinance on all fours with judges across the country – those who are telling the cities and townships what they can do.

Member Pehrson looked at other cities’ Ordinances where political signs are referenced. He read the Ordinance for Cedar Hills, Utah and it specified political signs and store fronts and how many and the right-of way. He said our Ordinance seems to address these things, but he didn’t know how clear it was. The draft speaks about major thoroughfares. He did not know whether the definition of a major thoroughfare should be inserted. Member Pehrson thought that perhaps language from other Ordinances could be gleaned for insertion in the Novi Ordinance.

Chair Kocan told Member Pehrson that if he would be more comfortable reviewing this at the Implementation Committee level, he could certainly request it. She noted that the definition of a major thoroughfare is in the Master Plan. Member Pehrson asked whether that should be referenced, because someone looking for information on political signs may not know they can reference that term in the Master Plan. Member Pehrson did not really want the item to go to the Implementation Committee because he thought it could be reviewed at the Planning Commission Implementation Committee.

Chair Kocan stated that she has previously discussed the need for the road definitions. Ms. McBeth said that the Master Plan identifies these different road definitions, and she thought they were also part of the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. McBeth said she would confirm that information. Chair Kocan later said that the definitions could be found in the Ordinance.

Member Pehrson asked whether these non-commercial signs can be lit. He did not know what creative things may come about in the next decade. He didn’t want to be a homeowner with a strobe blinking light on a sign in his front yard. In some of the Ordinances that he reviewed this issue was discussed. Mr. Gillam said that the proposed amendments represent only a portion of the Sign Ordinance. The balance of the code, as it addresses signs, is going to stay in place. The flashing signs are already addressed. Mr. Gillam said that regardless of whether the Implementation Committee reviews this amendment or not, the Planning Commission members should communicate any of their concerns to the City Attorney via the Planning Department prior to the Public Hearing.


Motion to set the Public Hearing on Sign Ordinance Text Amendments for March 9, 2005.

Motion carried 8-0.


There were no Consent Agenda Removals.


Preliminary CIP Discussion

Chair Kocan said that the Planning Commission received a copy of last year’s CIP Budget and a copy of this year’s proposed budget as proposed by the Staff. Chair Kocan said that through the State statute, the Planning Commission owns this document. The City also presents a document which includes additional projects. The Planning Commission should discuss this CIP document prior to its two members meeting with the City Council CIP representatives on February 24, 2005. Member Pehrson and Member Sprague are the two Planning Commission members on the CIP.

Chair Kocan said that the Administrative Liaison Committee was willing to meet with the CIP Committee to go over the CIP. She asked the Planning Commission to review what has been provided by the Staff and if there are any concerns, they should be forwarded to the Administrative Liaison Committee or the CIP Committee.

Director of Planning Barbara McBeth said that the Parks and Recreation Committee would be meeting and turning in their recommendations. She suggested that the review of the CIP by the two Committees be held after February 14 but before February 24. The Committee members agreed on February 22, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. Chair Kocan reiterated that suggestions or concerns should be forwarded to these Committee members prior to that meeting date. The CIP will come back to the Planning Commission on March 9, 2005 for the Public Hearing. Ms. McBeth said the date was tentative, as Finance Director Kathy Smith-Roy and City Engineer Rob Hayes will need an opportunity to review their schedules to determine their availability.

It was discussed and determined that the priorities would be ranked at the February 22, 2005 meeting. The Planning Commission would review the rankings at their February 23, 2005 meeting. The two Planning Commission CIP members would meet with the two City Council CIP members on the February 24, 2005.


There were no Supplemental Issues.


Richard Atto, owner of the southwest corner of Grand River and Meadowbrook: Received a notice for a nearby rezoning that was ultimately removed from the Agenda. Mr. Atto reminded the Planning Commission that the Gateway East Zoning District was new. He was interested in seeing how the first parcels of the land in the district come through the process. He was just introducing himself to the Planning Commission at this time.


Moved by Member Sprague:


Motion to adjourn.

Motion carried 8-0. The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.













Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, March 18, 2005 Signature on File

Approved: March 23, 2005 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistance Date