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View Action Summary for this meeting

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2006 7:30 P.M.
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, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Wayne Wrobel

Absent: David Lipski (excused)

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

Chair Cassis welcomed Mr. Michael Lynch to the Planning Commission.


Member Lynch led the Planning Commission and the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.


Moved by Member Kocan, seconded by Member Pehrson:


Motion to approve the Agenda of January 11, 2006. Motion carried 8-0.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


There was no Correspondence.


Member Kocan said that the Implementation Committee met earlier in the evening to discuss the budget. There will be another meeting to discuss policy in late February.


Director of Planning Barbara McBeth told the Planning Commission that City Council approved Singh’s Uptown Place on Twelve Mile east of Twelve Oaks Mall for 148 residential units, 22,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The Planning Commission also received the 2005 Stamping Set list which summarized the 68 projects (54 non-residential, 14 residential) that were approved and signed off on in 2005. In 2004 there were 54 Stamping Sets.


There was no Consent Agenda.


There were no Public Hearings.



Consideration on the request of Schonsheck, Inc., for approval to modify the previously approved site plans. The subject property is located in Section 12, south of Thirteen Mile, between Haggerty Road and Cabot Drive, in the OST, Office Service Technology District. The subject property is 9.68 acres and the Applicant is proposing to build a three-story building and also modify the parking lot.

Planner Tim Schmitt described the project, which has come before the Planning Commission several times over the past few years. The site is two parcels of land that front Haggerty and Cabot Drive, just south of Thirteen Mile. Directly south is Eberspaecher. Further south is Lewis Medical Office and Lewis Technology Center on Lewis Drive. The subject property is zoned OST and master planned for Office, as are all of the surrounding properties. The land is currently vacant.

There is a wetland on the property that has already been reviewed and approved previously. Permits have been issued. There are no remaining woodlands on the site. The property has shared access with Eberspaecher onto Cabot Drive. The majority of the building will be located on the eastern side of the site. In 2001 the plan included two identically shaped buildings, similar to Novi Research property south of Twelve Mile. The Applicant modified the plans in 2003, proposing a two-story building similar to what is on the plan before the Planning Commission at this meeting.

The building was located in the same place, but was wider north to south. The Applicant asked the Planning Department in early 2005 about modifying the plan to a three-story building, due to changing market conditions. This concept was previously discussed with the Applicant, but they submitted a two-story building for approval. This three-story building has about the same square footage as the two-story proposed earlier. Additional parking has been added to the plan. A single-loaded parking bay was changed to a double-loaded bay.

There are some minor landscaping items that can be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. All other disciplines approved of the plan, with minor items to be addressed. The Planning Commission previously granted a waiver for the loading zone location. As is the case with all OST buildings that are not u-shaped, a waiver for the loading zone screening is required – per the specific language in Article 23. In this case the screening has gotten better. The Planning Commission is asked to reaffirm the conditions continue to exist for the screening waiver. The Applicant has indicated that they have no concerns with any of the comments that were put forward in the review letters. They will be able to address the two main landscaping concerns and therefore they do not need a waiver.

Steve Perkos of Schonscheck represented the Applicant, Brent Besheiers. The market condition has changed such that the Applicant is targeting smaller clients. This requires the building to be a bit narrower. The square footage is within 500 square feet of the previous proposal. Some architectural changes are proposed, which they feel are an improvement. Landscaping has been increased. Circulation in front of the building has improved. This building will be multi-tenant, housing clients in 1,200-1,500 square foot offices.

Member Avdoulos asked Landscape Architect Lance Shipman about the parking lot trees and the perimeter landscaping requirement. Member Avdoulos noted that eleven additional parking lot trees are necessary, and Member Avdoulos wondered if clarification was needed on the deficiency. Mr. Shipman responded that there are two types of standards – one is quantitative based on the parking lot square footage calculation. The other type is a design requirement – the perimeter has to have a tree every 35 linear feet. Some of these eleven trees can be used for this requirement. Mr. Shipman recommended that the statement about adhering to the comments in the review letters should also be included in this motion.

Member Avdoulos thought the proposal was nice. The Planning Commission looked at the sample board.

Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:

In the matter of Millennium Technology Center, SP03-08D, motion to approve the revised Final Site Plan, subject to: 1) The addition of eleven additional parking lot canopy trees to meet requirements; 2) Planning Commission confirmation that conditions still exist for previously granted waiver of loading zone location because the design and intent of the loading zone has not changed; and 3) The comments on the attached review letters being addressed at the time of the Stamping Set submittal; for the reason that the revised design meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance.


Member Kocan assumed that the loading area was full entrance on the west side of the building. She asked if the Applicant anticipated that area being blocked because of loading. Mr. Schmitt agreed that there was an entrance to the building, but in light of their proposed vestibules, it did not appear that this entrance would function as a main entrance. The size of the loading zone is 850 square feet, which is substantial. Normally, the requirement would be 360 square feet. To block this area would take a fairly large effort. Mr. Schmitt said that this building wouldn’t typically see tractor-trailer deliveries. There are no overhead doors. Deliveries would be more like UPS or a bank truck. The Planning Department did not foresee any problems.

Member Kocan said that the northerly cross access is still on the plan. She asked whether this third access was no longer required. Mr. Schmitt responded that he was surprised that the Applicant left that note on the plan. This was a difficult issue. The original architect misunderstood the problem in 2003 when he said he would supply that access. Once it was part of Millennium’s conditions of approval, the northerly neighbor would not negotiate with them. The Planning Commission denied removal of this stipulation. The ZBA granted the removal upon the advice of the Planning Department and the City Attorney. A third point of access is never a requirement. Through no fault of this Applicant, the third access did not come to pass. Mr. Schmitt did not recommend the Planning Commission making it a condition of this approval. Mr. Schmitt said that the northerly parcel had the option of stubbing to the north or to the east. When this stub fell through, that landowner stubbed to the east with Caring Nurses. Mr. Schmitt strongly recommended that the Applicant remove the note from their plans.

Member Kocan asked about the handicapped ramp’s location near the storm sewer. The Applicant responded that they did not see a need for a change. Civil Engineer Ben Croy said that this issue was still being discussed; either the sidewalk or the manhole should be moved. The moving of the sidewalk is the preferred choice.

Chair Cassis noted that there is an occasional problem with an Applicant providing dual access because of the negotiations necessary between adjacent landowners. Mr. Schmitt confirmed that a vast majority of this area was under the ownership of Northern Equities. They did not control these parcels or the four parcels that front on Thirteen Mile. Mr. Schmitt said that this really was the only case of two parties not being able to come to a dual access agreement.

Chair Cassis asked whether the dual access agreements could be provided for in the master deed on full tracts of land, e.g., Beck West Corporate Park. City Attorney David Gillam said that the City only looks at whether the resulting parcels comply with the applicable Ordinance requirements. The responsibility of meeting the Ordinance requirements belongs to each parcel owner. Whether it is required pursuant to the property transfer or not, it is still required by the Ordinance. Mr. Gillam did not know what would be gained by asking for more from the full tract owner. Chair Cassis felt that it would be reasonable to require this by the landowner. Mr. Gillam said that the City could make a case for condominium, but if the parcels are made by an actual split there would not be an avenue with which to make this request. The City cannot dictate the exact location of the cross access, but it can make suggestions for the locations.


In the matter of Millennium Technology Center, SP03-08D, motion to approve the revised Final Site Plan, subject to: 1) The addition of eleven additional parking lot canopy trees to meet requirements; 2) Planning Commission confirmation that conditions still exist for previously granted waiver of loading zone location because the design and intent of the loading zone has not changed; and 3) The comments on the attached review letters being addressed at the time of the Stamping Set submittal; for the reason that the revised design meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance. Motion carried 8-0.


Consideration on the request of Mike Giddings of Intech Ventures, LLC, for a Section 9 waiver. The subject property is located in Section 24, on the north side of Grand River Avenue, between Seeley Road and Haggerty Road, in the I-1, Light Industrial District.

Planner Mark Spencer described the project. This is the rear building, "C," of Intech Park. The building is a flex building, like all of the buildings in the development. It is zoned I-1 as are the other properties to the north, east and west. To the south is NCC, Non-center Commercial. There are some vacant lots and some development in the Regency Center to the north. To the west is the Novi Tech Center. To the south are Atlas Auto Leasing and Grand Oaks Centre. To the east is a Mini-U storage facility.

The Applicant is proposing a material change to the previously approved façade. The Applicant would like to seal off temporarily the existing north-facing overhead doors with glass, split face CMU and cement board (hardi-board) products. The latter two are not permitted in Façade Region One. Therefore, the change could not be approved administratively. This is the only change requested. The proposed changes will only be viewed from the Regency Center, Light Industrial properties to the north.

It should be noted that the Applicant has completed this work without Planning or Building Department approval and seeks to correct this situation.

The City’s Façade Consultant recommends consideration of the Section 9 Waiver because the change looks better than overhead doors and it is on the rear of the building.

The standards for granting a Section 9 Waiver in the Zoning Ordinance provide that the Planning Commission can grant a Section 9 waiver when it finds that the building design, materials and colors are in keeping with the intent and purpose of the Ordinance. Should the Planning Commission approve the Waiver, the Applicant will need to submit Stamping Sets for the proposed change. If the Waiver request is denied, the applicant will need to remove the installed materials, replace the doors or replace the materials with approved materials.

Mike Giddings represented Intech Ventures. He said that a letter was submitted by the Regency ownership, indicating that they had no problem to the Waiver that the Applicant is seeking.

Member Gutman thought it was an attractive modification to the building, albeit done out of order.

Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Pehrson:

In the matter of the Kroger Office Facade, SP05-67, motion to grant approval of the Section Nine Façade Waiver subject to Stamping Sets being submitted for final approval by the Planning Department, for the reasons that the building is more attractive alternative to an overhead door and is on the rear of the building.


Member Kocan noted that this is a temporary request, and she asked whether the motion should acknowledge that this is a temporary change, to remain only as long the tenant or office use exists. City Attorney David Gillam said that would be an option available to the Planning Commission. Member Kocan asked that the language be added to the motion. Member Gutman asked the purpose of the statement. Member Kocan said that it was meant to ensure that the Waiver was in place as long as the building was used as an office. The maker and seconder of the motion agreed to the change to the motion.

Member Avdoulos supported the request. He said he didn’t want to see this happen to all of the doors throughout the development. He understood the nature of the design as well.


In the matter of the Kroger Office Facade, SP05-67, motion to grant approval of the Section Nine Façade Waiver subject to Stamping Sets being submitted for final approval by the Planning Department, for the reasons that the building is more attractive alternative to an overhead door and is on the rear of the building, and that this is a temporary change, remaining only as long as the tenant or office use exists. Motion carried 8-0.


There were no Consent Agenda Removals.



Director of Planning Barbara McBeth provided information to the Planning Commission that included Planning Commissioners’ recommendations for topics. The joint meeting will be January 23, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

One topic for discussion could be the Tax Base Alternatives Roundtable discussions held last summer with developers.

Ms. McBeth said that Council Member Mutch also suggested that the Development of Transfer Rights be looked into for use in the City. This is legislation that went through in the last year or so. It allows for the transfer of density between non-contiguous parcels.

There will be a packet prepared for the joint meeting. The Planning Commission could submit an actual list for that packet if they so choose.

Member Kocan confirmed that the regular City Council meeting will follow the joint session and will begin at no later than 8:00 p.m. She asked whether the joint meeting would cover Planning Commission’s topics with City Council or if the meeting would include topics brought forward by both bodies. Ms. McBeth responded that she did not know, so it might behoove the Planning Commission to have a list prepared. This list would give City Council a better idea of what the Planning Commission would be interested in discussing.

Member Kocan thought that the Planning Commission put a lot of effort into the Tax Base Alternatives Roundtable and she agreed it should be a topic. She did not think that City Council has reviewed any of this information yet. She thought that there was a good amount of information that would be of interest to City Council. She did not want this topic to take up the entire joint meeting.

Member Kocan recalled that the Administrative Liaison Committee met and discussed the Roundtable, and their hope was that City Council would provide direction to the Planning Commission on where they should expend their energies. Member Kocan noted that the same Ordinance revisions keep coming up – Sign Ordinance, Façade Ordinance, height issues, etc. No recommendations came out of the Roundtable – suggestions of what the City must give and take – and even the Implementation Committee looked at these issues, all without any resolution. Member Kocan said that over the years nothing has changed, even at the suggestion of Council Member Capello, who asked the Planning Commission to review what possible trades the City could make with developers. Member Kocan said the City doesn’t really have those problems; the problem they do have is that the Ordinance specifies what the City wants, and City Council grants variances that doesn’t institute the look.

Member Kocan cited Brooktown as an example. She said parking was not supposed to be in the front yard, but now this is being changed. She didn’t have a problem with that, but she thought the Ordinance should be aligned with what the City wants to see.

The Gateway East also required tall buildings at the corners. Hummer is not a tall building. She concluded that the City has a vision, and it has Ordinances and requirements that aren’t implemented. This was a problem to her. She therefore submitted the topic, "What does the City Council want the Planning Commission to do as a Planning Commission, as their purpose is to implement the Ordinances?" If the Ordinances need to be changed, then they should be changed so that there is consistency and compatibility in the decisions.

Ms. McBeth thought that the Ordinance would be a good topic. Perhaps the Planning Commission can ask for a prioritization of the issues. If City Council is looking for Ordinance amendments, or they have identified certain elements for amending, they could give the Planning Commission some direction on those items. Ms. McBeth noted that the City Council’s Ordinance Review Committee met on January 10, 2006 and discussed amending the Sign Ordinance. They have reviewed some of the earlier comments made, including those made at the Roundtable. To keep this discussion on a positive track, Ms. McBeth suggested that the Planning Commission and City Council discuss which topics might need attention.

Chair Cassis shared Member Kocan’s concerns. He reiterated that City Council should get the entire packet that the Planning Commission received. Chair Cassis hoped that City Council has the same desire and need to meet with the Planning Commission as the Planning Commission has the desire and need to meet with them. The next meeting is hopefully something more than just the City Council accommodating the Planning Commission, which Chair Cassis really didn’t think was the case.

Chair Cassis said that he proposed this joint meeting some time ago, and he hopes that this will be a productive meeting. He hopes that the Planning Commission members come with concise and methodical statements. The Planning Commission needs to allow City Council to respond and engage in conversation. Nobody would stop City Council and Planning Commission from meeting again in six months if this meeting was indeed productive. The main thrust of the meeting is to coordinate efforts.

Member Meyer thought one of the challenges that could be discussed is the City’s buildout projection. What do the next three to five years hold for the City? A collaborative relationship between the two boards is welcome. This meeting will certainly dispel the scuttlebutt that the Planning Commission and City Council do not get along. Member Meyer agreed with Member Kocan about the need for a variety of topics to be discussed – the Roundtable should not be discussed for 45-50 minutes, to the detriment of the other topics that also should be discussed. Sometimes in a counseling session, the person doesn’t bring up the crux of his problem until the last five minutes of the meeting. He appreciated Chair Cassis’ comment that the Planning Commission be prepared to discuss the issues in a concise and methodical manner.

Member Meyer agreed with Member Kocan that it is ludicrous to have Ordinances in place and then grant all the variances that somehow supplant the Ordinance. He found it appropriate that the Ordinance be reviewed at the various levels.

Member Meyer wanted City Council to know that the Planning Commission is trying to make the process more user-friendly for the developers. This gives them at least the opportunity to move through the process a bit more quickly. He wants City Council to see that the Planning Commission is making an effort to welcome the developers into the City. He hopes to dispel the long held concept that developers don’t want to come to Novi. He is encouraged by the idea of coming face to face with City Council and finds it important that the two boards respect one another. Chair Cassis noted that Member Meyer’s experience in counseling will be helpful in the upcoming meeting.

Member Avdoulos explained that sometimes there is a disconnect between how the Planning Commission and City Council view a project. The Planning Commission works with the developer on a project, and then the developer asks for variances or waivers in order to expedite his project. City Council, wanting that developer to be here and succeed, grants the developer his requests. In the meantime, the Planning Commission’s effort goes to waste.

Member Avdoulos said it was helpful to receive the City Council agendas. They have a lot on their plate, sometimes more perhaps than what is necessary. Member Avdoulos said that at some point the question becomes, "Does the City really need to micro-manage that much, or can it rely on the people who have been appointed to the Boards?" Afterall, that is why people are appointed to the Boards – they are fantastic. There is an opportunity for City Council to lighten their load.

Member Avdoulos thought that no one topic should dominate the discussion, but ultimately the meeting should shed light on the role of the Planning Commission, and how it can be helpful to the City. This is true for City Council as well. These two Boards must have a common ground and cannot be adversarial. In the past few years, the Planning Commission has been listening and trying to accommodate. There have been odd happenings – things that he thought were black and white have ended up being grey. He thought an occasional joint meeting was a good idea, even if it was just to improve communications. It doesn’t have to solve the world’s problems.

Member Lynch, new to the Planning Commission, said he looked at the list of potential topics and was reminded by his experience that if the list is too long, nothing will ever be accomplished. The one thing he has picked up was that there seems to be a disconnect. He was not sure if the Planning Commission and the City Council share a vision. Where does this City want to be in five or ten years? Does it want to be Birmingham? Canton? He felt that once the vision is identified, the policies will fit toward that goal. Then a strategic direction can be developed. The disconnect is the struggle. These oversight meetings should occur more frequently than annually, perhaps quarterly, and the agendas should be limited. This will help the City determine if it is moving in the right direction or does it need to get back on track. There are very few things in long-term strategy that are black and white. Things change. Consumer trends change. Economics change. If both Boards head in the same direction, a lot of the frustration that appears to have developed goes away.

Member Kocan suggested that other topics to discuss with City Council would be the special planning areas (southeast corner of Ten Mile and Novi, and Twelve Mile between Napier and Wixom roads) and the Gateway West designation.

Member Kocan wondered if the Planning Commission should prioritize their list. Will every Planning Commission member have an opportunity to speak a few sentences and City Council will respond? Chair Cassis responded that with sixteen people, the best thing will be for the City Council to get the packet and these minutes in advance for review. At the meeting, perhaps the Planning Commission members can each speak on their two or so main points. Again, Chair Cassis said that the speeches must be succinct in the interest of time. That will give everyone time to participate. The City Council will read these minutes. The Planning Commission will agree to be concise if they agree to be concise.

Member Wrobel said that City Council might already have an agenda in mind. Ms. McBeth did not think there is a City Council agenda for this meeting. They are open to suggestions and they will welcome the packet and the minutes.

Member Pehrson thought this discussion exemplified the need for the meeting. There are issues that are brought before the Planning Commission and the ZBA on a continuing basis that may not need to. How can these issues be resolved? This is an important meeting to have. It is probably more important to hold these meetings on a quarterly basis. What holds the City back from doing so? This meeting is really going to be the Planning Commission setting the stage on why these meetings are so important. He expected the same kind of questions from City Council, on how it is possible to have an open dialogue.

Chair Cassis said that City Council holds a strategy session on a Saturday, at which they plan their goals for the year. He wondered if something like that could take place in a casual setting with the Planning Commission being involved. That type of forum may be better than a sandwiched-in meeting with City Council members attending with cluttered minds. Ms. McBeth responded that the City Council does hold an annual goal-setting meeting. Those goals are shared with the Planning Commission, and Ms. McBeth offered to provide the members with a copy if they would like.

Member Lynch was not familiar with the City Council’s strategic planning meeting. Member Lynch felt that City Council had a much broader scope of responsibility. He felt that the scope of the Planning Commission was the planning of the City, which affects things like infrastructure – which is the purview of City Council. Fundamentally, the meeting should be to discuss the items that the Planning Commission can affect. There will be differences and challenges. The groups should quickly adjust so as to reach the City’s five-year or ten-year goal.

Chair Cassis reiterated that perhaps an informal Saturday setting would be more conducive for joint meetings.

Member Meyer appreciated Member Lynch’s comment about a vision. He also appreciated Member Kocan’s comment about which areas the Planning Commission should direct their energies. He did not know how this meeting would be run, but noted that the chair of the meeting will have some control over the direction. Chair Cassis responded that it would be the Mayor who controls the meeting. Member Meyer hoped for an opportunity for a mutual sharing of ideas.


Director of Planning Barbara McBeth provided the Planning Commission with information regarding the 2006-07 budget and the Capital Improvements Program.

A tentative timeline was provided. Each of the Planning Commission Committees is asked to respond to the Budget Committee via the Planning Department with their goals and budgetary needs by January 27, 2006. This information can be e-mailed if any of the Committees cannot meet prior to this deadline.

Member Pehrson commented that the Implementation Committee has discussed the overhaul of the Zoning Ordinance. They are trying to get a better handle on what is really required from the standpoints of hours, dollars, etc. Member Pehrson said that they discussed whether they should have informal discussions with consultants or send out an RFP of some sort. The Committee wondered when the last complete revision of the Ordinance took place. The consensus is that a three to five year period is normal, and the Committee believed that this timeframe has since passed.

Member Kocan said that the joint CIP meeting between Planning Commission and City Council will be in the second half of February. She understood that at that meeting the participants will look at the results. She wondered why the joint meeting isn’t held to discuss the issues, then the group can prioritize the numbering. She did not understand why there isn’t a discussion meeting. She acknowledged that the meeting is only four people.

Member Pehrson said that the numbering does come first, but he didn’t think there was much of a disconnect between the members, save one or two items on the list. He said it really is a fait accompli. Ms. McBeth agreed. She said that the change in membership may change the manner in which the meetings are held. Member Kocan said that the two City Council members are Lynne Paul and Toni Nagy.

Member Pehrson said that if things are learned at the joint City Council and Planning Commission meeting, the direction could be set that affects the voting of the CIP items. It might warrant a real discussion between the CIP members. They might need to sit down and rationalize what must be done. Member Kocan was not trying to lengthen the meetings; she just felt that an obligatory meeting does not allow for a true discussion of the priorities.

Member Kocan described the CIP Process. In summary, the Planning Commission will receive the CIP list at the end of the month and they will discuss this information. The Planning Commission’s CIP Committee makes its recommendation jointly with the City Council’s CIP Committee members. The CIP then goes before City Council and the final determination is made based upon the City Manager’s recommendation.

Member Pehrson said that the CIP information is validated by City Council’s goal setting session and other discussions that take place. The process has been refined over the past few years. The Planning Commission has asked the Finance Department to indicate and explain incomplete or re-prioritized projects.

Chair Cassis said that the entire process depends on the economic times.


There were no Supplemental Issues.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


Moved by Member Pehrson:

Motion to adjourned.

The meeting adjourned at 8:49 p.m.









Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, January 17, 2006 Signature on File

Date approved: February 8, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date