|View Agenda for this meeting
View Action Summary for this meeting
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 p.m.
Present: Members Victor Cassis, Andrew Gutman, Lynn Kocan, David Lipski, Michael Meyer, Wayne Wrobel
Absent: John Avdoulos (excused), Michael Lynch, Mark Pehrson (excused)
Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Director of Planning; Jason Myers, Planner; Mark Spencer, Planner; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Tom Schultz, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The meeting attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Member Kocan added "Ordinance Questions as Matters for Discussion Item 3.
Moved by Member Wrobel, seconded by Member Gutman:
VOICE VOTE ON AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER WROBEL AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
Motion to approve the Agenda of February 22, 2006 as amended. Motion carried 6-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no Correspondence to share.
Member Kocan and Planner Tim Schmitt discussed the possibility of the Implementation Committee meeting in March.
PLANNING DIRECTOR REPORT
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth told the Planning Commission that Normandy Hills’ Preservation Option plan was approved by City Council on the previous evening. Final Site Plan approval was also granted by City Council for a Rite-Aid on the southwest corner of Thirteen Mile and Novi Road.
Ms. McBeth reminded the Planning Commission that there would be a Planning Commission study session immediately following the Planning Commission meeting.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
There were no Public Hearings.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. PLANNING COMMISSION BUDGET
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth referred to the packet of information received by the Planning Commission prior to the meeting. The Planning Commission Narrative described the FY2006-07 Objectives and Standards of Performance. There was a line item spreadsheet with supporting Service Improvement Request Forms for new budget proposals. The key features were outlined for the Planning Commission budget.
$65,000 was requested by the Implementation Committee for the updating of Zoning Ordinance. This is a two-part request, acknowledging that $45,000 would be spent in the upcoming fiscal year, and the remainder ($20,000) would be spent the following year.
$8,000 was proposed for the Wetland and Woodland map updating, as requested by the Environmental Committee.
$11,300 was requested for the conference line item. This includes money to send all nine Planning Commission members to the State Planners Conference which will be held in Detroit. Four members are slated to attend the Citizen Planner Program. $1,500 of this amount is slated for guest speakers.
$400 was requested to magazines and periodicals.
$900 was requested for memberships and dues.
$900 was requested for local seminars and briefings.
$2,000 was requested for the ongoing printing and publishing of the Master Plan for Land Use.
$8,000 for the Greenways and Trails Plan was approved for the current fiscal year and this amount will be carried over into FY2006-07 if it is not spent before June 30, 20006.
Member Kocan noted that the updating of the Zoning Ordinance was listed as the Planning Commission’s first priority. The Environmental maps were listed as the second priority. Member Kocan wondered if this is the right order – if the requests might have a better chance for approval if the $8,000 was listed first.
Member Kocan thought it might be more enlightening for City Council if the conference line item mentioned that the State conference was being held in Detroit this year.
Member Kocan said that the Planning Commission hadn’t spent much of its current conference budget - $2,500 was approved but only $300 has been spent. She suggested that the Planning Commission "use it or lose it." She also suggested that perhaps the Planning Commission could also roll over their unused Conference money into the FY2006-07, since the new request is quite a bit of money.
Moved by Member Kocan, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON PLANNING COMMISSION FY2006-07 BUDGET MOTION MADE BY MEMBER KOCAN AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
Motion to approve the Planning Commission Budget FY2006-07 as presented. Motion carried 6-0.
2. APPROVAL OF THE JANUARY 25, 2006 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
The Planning Commission members turned in their corrections for incorporation into the minutes.
Moved by Member Wrobel, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON JANUARY 25, 2006 MINUTES APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER MEYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER WROBEL:
Motion to approve the January 25, 2006 Planning Commission minutes as amended. Motion carried 6-0.
3. APPROVAL OF THE FEBRUARY 8, 2006 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
The Planning Commission members turned in their corrections for incorporation into the minutes.
Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Wrobel:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON FEBRUARY 8, 2006 MINUTES APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER WROBEL AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
Motion to approve the February, 2006 Planning Commission minutes as amended. Motion carried 6-0.
Member Kocan said while she read the minutes, she noted that several items were discussed regarding their need for further review. She asked whether she should offer motions to send these items to the Implementation Committee for review, specifically the Façade Ordinance.
Moved by Member Kocan, seconded by Member Lipski:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON FAÇADE ORDINANCE MOTION MADE BY MEMBER KOCAN AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LIPSKI:
Motion to send the Façade Ordinance to the Implementation Committee for review. Motion carried 6-0.
Member Kocan asked about the gated entry issue. Planner Tim Schmitt said that it is a Fire Protection Ordinance standard, and the item would be under the purview of City Council. The Planning Department is prepared to discuss it with the Implementation Committee, although an Ordinance amendment might be more likely to come from City Council rather than the Planning Commission.
City Attorney Tom Schultz said that it was a planning issue, though it is not covered under the Zoning Ordinance. The Planning Commission or one of its Committees could discuss it. Discussion of traffic circulation is well within the Planning Commission’s purview. He said it would not be inappropriate for the Zoning Ordinance to address the issue. He said that the Planning Commission was not overstepping its boundaries by discussing this issue.
Chair Cassis said there was a technicality. Developments come forward to the Planning Commission with gate requests, so it really is an issue that the Planning Commission must tackle. Another option would be for all petitioners to be told that they must take their gate request to City Council. Mr. Schultz responded that this is exactly the issue that the Planning Commission might wish to discuss. Having done so, the Planning Commission can then choose whether or not to make a recommendation for a text amendment to City Council. Mr. Schultz said that the discussion was entirely appropriate.
Chair Cassis asked what the purview of the Planning Commission is regarding a gated community. Mr. Schultz responded that the Planning Commission does not accept or reject a gated community request at this time; the books indicate a "police powers non-zoning Ordinance" which requires the streets to be open. Only through City Council determination can there be some kind of variance to allow for the gate.
Chair Cassis suggested, then, that in previous Planning Commission meetings wherein the use of gates was discussed, they were wasting their time. Member Lipski interjected that Mr. Schultz had not been at those meetings to fully understand that the Planning Commission has held a few discussions regarding the merits of gated communities; this has been a hot topic for them and the Planning Commission is split in their opinions. He concluded that they probably didn’t need to spend such a great deal of time on the issue, given that the option to approve them is not the Planning Commission’s. Mr. Schultz said that there is no Ordinance that the Planning Commission can apply and/or enforce regarding the request for a gated community. However, the idea of discussing the topic to determine whether to seek a means to make gated communities a part of their purview is within their rights as a Planning Commission.
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth reviewed the Planning Commission discussion regarding Tuscany Reserve. The Applicant’s request included modifications to the plan that were related to the fact that there would be gates. The Planning Commission did not have the purview to approve the gates, but did have the authority to approve the other changes on the plan, i.e., the cul-de-sac, the entry way island, vehicle access issues. Those were peripheral items that were under the purview of the Planning Commission.
Member Kocan was surprised that the City Attorney did not believe there was an Ordinance on the books to address gates. She always referred to the Fire Department’s requirement for open roads. Whether gates are her personal preference or not, she reviewed such a request against the Ordinance. She said her interest would be to make the issue Ordinance-enforceable – so it is not a personal preference. This would make the application of gates more consistent. The Planning Commission can make recommendations to City Council and City Council can decide whether to give a variance. Member Kocan is concerned when personal preferences guide the Planning Commission as opposed to their enforcing the Ordinances consistently.
Mr. Schultz said that the Planning Commission would not approve a plan with gates; it would not be in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. It could be approved subject to the necessary variances, but the Planning Commission does not make the final decision on whether the plan is gated or not gated. Only a change to the Ordinance could change that.
Member Kocan suggested that this could be discussed in their joint meeting with City Council. She had no problem discussing this at the Planning Commission level (she didn’t think that the Implementation Committee was the appropriate level to discuss the issue), and forwarding their review of the topic on to City Council.
Chair Cassis said that this topic could come before the Planning Commission again and again. Some submittals will include gates, and some Planning Commission members will choose not to recommend the gate to City Council, which could affect the approval of the plan. This has become a matter that could make or break an application. Chair Cassis asked the City Attorney whether City Council should be consulted, to see whether they would like to weigh in on the matter and provide guidance to the Planning Commission. Mr. Schultz responded that this Planning Commission can first determine whether this issue is relevant to the planning process, i.e., transportation, circulation of traffic, etc. Second, the Planning Commission is permitted to inform the City Council that they believe this is a planning issue and this topic should be addressed more appropriately in the Zoning Ordinance. He could not say whether City Council should take up the question as a policy issue. The Planning Commission can recommend it to them. The recommendation must be carried by a majority vote. Mr. Schultz said that perhaps the joint meeting is a good place to start this conversation. They might say at that time that City Council will not address it, so the Planning Commission should not waste their time.
Mr. Schultz said that particular applications on which City Council has rendered a decision, the ability to comment further is removed from the Planning Commission. Chair Cassis determined that this must be a topic to be discussed at the next joint meeting.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. PRESENTATION OF UPDATE TO OST DISTRICT ANALYSIS
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth said that this presentation is a follow-up to the OST analysis that the Planning Commission reviewed approximately a year ago. There have been changes over the past year to the City’s OST District, and the Planning Commission held a Roundtable with the development community to discuss this District.
Planner Jason Myers addressed the Planning Commission. He presented a map that depicted the locations of the OST land. Most of the land is in the Haggerty Road Corridor, and there are some pieces of land near Twelve Mile and Grand River. There are also parcels master planned for Office uses, which may be rezoned to the OST District in the future.
Currently there are a total of 1,098 acres of land zoned OST. 330 of those acres are developed as commercial property. 664 acres are available for development – either they are vacant or have residential homes slated for removal. Utility land was not considered available for development, even though there may be some manner in which that land could be developed in the future.
Since 2005, the available OST acreage has dropped from 789 to 664. Developed OST land has risen from 244 acres to 330. This is a 9% change in the land. Mr. Myers gave an overview of the activity since last year. The projects were either in the pipeline or came onto the City’s pipeline since the last OST review. Some of the projects, like Caring Nurses, were in the Preliminary Site Plan stage in March 2005. Now they are under construction.
Mr. Myers highlighted LaSalle Tech Center, which is almost constructed, and will be the home of Timkin Corporation. They received Final Site Plan approval in March 2005. Rock Financial Showplace is open now, and was under construction last March. Meadowbrook Corporate Park Building 3 is currently in for review.
Uptown Park PRO has also happened. Bank One was rejected. Great Lakes Corporate Campus is under review. Those were not on the City’s radar screen last year, nor was LaSalle Tech South.
Paradise Park (Novi Family Fun Park) is zoned light industrial in the north, and OST in the south. This parcel is dual-zoned. Planner Tim Schmitt confirmed this information. The land is master planned consistent with its zoning.
The use type and floor area accommodations in these developments were also depicted on the chart. Mr. Myers summarized the OST review, noting the following:
A total of 2.5 million square feet of floor area has been identified in commercial developments.
The properties in the OST District have a tentative combined assessed value of $183.3 million.
Nine percent of the land within the entire OST district developed between March of 2005 and January 2006.
In 2005, the majority of the new development in the OST district has been for general office uses
Recent developments indicate the category "Health and Human Services" has gained significant ground in the OST District.
19 of the 28 residences remain in the OST District, based on the demolitions between March 2005 and January 2006.
The rate of development in the district has slowed: in March 2005, there were 16 parcels in the development review process; while in January 2006, there are only 9 parcels in the development review process. The content of the development is not proportionate to the number of parcels, however.
Chair Cassis said this presentation was informative and wondered what the analysis could be used for. Ms. McBeth said it was a valuable planning tool for the Planning Department, Planning Commission and City Council. This information could be shared with the attendees of the developers’ roundtable. Chair Cassis suggested this information could also be provided to new Planning Commission members as they come on board.
Member Kocan was concerned about rezoning OST land to residential, but developers are always coming forward stating they can develop the land immediately with a residential designation. Member Kocan asked what the City was losing in the long run if they jumped on a rezoning today. Whenever that happens, the Master Plan and Zoning Committee needs to look at where the OST land can be transferred. This is also true of the City’s consideration of raising the density in TC-1. Where is the density going to be reduced? Does the City even know how its land is planned? This analysis states loudly that the OST land brings the most taxes and requires the least amount of services.
Chair Cassis believed that all of the Planning Commission members had heard of the housing bubble propagated by Mr. Greenspan, who projected that homes are getting plentiful and there will be a recession in the housing market. It has come to pass. Toll Brothers and others have said they are slowing down. Across the nation this is happening. Where will it lead to? Sometimes markets do come into play. Sometimes economic forces come into play. Less and less housing developments will be coming forward. He noted that homeowners have placed their homes for sale but are unable to sell them.
Chair Cassis said that the Michigan Legislature just appropriated two billion dollars for the Governor to spend to attract technological companies to Michigan. Novi can play a big role in this plan. The City is situated in a very crucial area of the State. Chair Cassis thought that Novi would get some of that money. That is where the OST will come into play.
2. PRESENTATION ON THE NOVI PLANNING PROCESS
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth addressed the Planning Commission. The presentation described the coordination and collocation of staff that is part of the quality development and redevelopment review process in the City of Novi. The current process was described for the benefit of all Planning Commission members. It included an overview of how the City’s professional staff and consultants provide development plan review services to the Planning Commission and the City Council.
About five years ago
The Plan Review Center was established to bring together the individuals that would perform reviews of site plans that had previously been reviewed by the consulting professionals to the City. The Plan Review Center is currently staffed with Plan Examiner Ken Elphinstone, Civil Engineer Ben Croy, City Planners Tim Schmitt, Mark Spencer and Jason Myers. The Landscape Architect position is currently vacant but is also located in the Plan Review Center. The entire Planning Department has now been consolidated on the first floor near the Plan Review Center, including the Planning Director, the Planning Assistant Angie Pawlowski, and two clerks, Juanita Freeman and Jane Schimpf, allowing all of the planning services to be located for efficient walk-up service.
The idea of providing a Plan Review Center is an innovative concept of combining disciplines that may typically be located in different departments, and combine these professional disciplines in one centralized location. One of the greatest benefits to the development community as a result of this collocation is the reduction in required number of Site Plans submitted for each plan review to be reduced from twenty-three sets to twelve sets.
Over the last four years the business process has been streamlined through this revised process, as implemented by the department. Hallmarks of these changes have been an increase in the level of certainty and timeliness for the review process for the developers, and a decrease in the number of review rounds and surprises the developer may encounter along the way.
Among the best accomplishments of the Plan Review center has been the establishment of a Project Manager for each development project that is proposed. This allows one of the Planners to coordinate the reviews of all of the other disciplines to make sure that the competing interests of these disciplines are addressed. The project manager also typically makes the presentations to the Planning Commission.
The communication has also been enhanced with this aspect of the process, as the Project Manager will be able to communicate important aspects of the pre-application meetings with the Planning Commission. For example, the Planners typically will inform the Planning Commission of any concessions or improvements offered by the developers at the pre-application meetings or at subsequent meetings, such as the modifications made to the Casa Loma plans to address the concerns of the Engineer with regard to the configuration of the proposed road, and location of the sidewalks; or the preservation of an additional three acres of wetlands on the Premier Medical site, which were determined to be part of a much larger quality wetland complex. The Planning Department will continue to provide the Planning Commission and Council with these important enhancements developers offer as a result of meetings with staff.
Further enhancement to communication is at the point of the final approval of the site plan when the Stamping Set is handed to the Building Department. Over the last four years, the communication and coordination with the Building Department has improved in this process by including the Building Plan Examiner in the Plan Review Center, and in the communication that is allowed by having full time staff collocated in the same department in the City.
The modifications made to the process four years ago have provided high quality plan review letters resulting in projects that more adequately address the Ordinances of the City of Novi, as well as good coordination with the consulting services of woodlands, wetlands and façade and other departments within the city. This improved communication also helps the Plan Review Center be responsive to the wishes of the Planning Commission and City Council.
Planner Jason Myers addressed the Planning Commission. He passed out a simple chart of the players in the Planning Site Plan Review process.
First, City Council is the primary source of policy and direction. Sometimes they provide site plan waivers. The Planning Commission provides most of the site plan approval, some waivers and a certain amount of policy. The ZBA provides variances and is an appeal mechanism for rejections from the City Council and Planning Commission.
Mr. Myers said that the Planner (Project Manager) reviews zoning, setback, parking, lighting, and numerous other parts of a site plan. The planner is responsible for coordinating the various reviews, and presenting a coherent face to both the applicants and the Planning Commission.
Additional City employees that are involved in the site plan review process include the Landscape Architect, Engineers, Fire Marshal Mike Evans, and the Building Department plan inspectors (Kevin Roby and Ken Elphinstone). These two men help with reviewing the function of the building. They will notice whether the pedestrian circulation is appropriate. They review the barrier-free code.
The Wetland Consultant is Environmental Consulting and Technology, or ECT.
The Woodland Consultant is Vilican Leman.
The Façade Consultant is Nordstrom Samson Associates, or NSA.
The Traffic Consultant is Orchard, Hiltz and McCliment, or OHM.
The first step of the process is the Concept Meeting or Informal Contact. The Pre-App meeting is next, and is in many ways the most important step in the site plan review process. Basic plans without a great level of detail are reviewed by all of the disciplines in order to uncover as many issues as possible and provide as much guidance as possible. These meetings are especially important with respect to optional development forms such as the Residential Unit Development or the Special Development Option in the Gateway East. For example, the Provincial Glades Pre-App meeting opened the door for the Applicant to design with an RUD.
The Preliminary Site Plan focuses on the overall site issues. Items such as density and setbacks are reviewed. This review provides input into the Planning Commission decision. If necessary, an Applicant may have to submit a revised Preliminary Site Plan.
The Final Site Plan focuses on the engineering details and planning details such as lighting plan, master deeds, development agreements, and conservation easements. The Final Site Plan ensures that all the loose ends are sewn up. If necessary, the Applicant may have to submit a revised Final Site Plan. The Stamping Set follows, and is inclusive of all the information pertaining to the plan. Basically, the Project Manager’s role is now finished.
The Building Department can begin portions of their review after Preliminary Site Plan approval. They will not give their final approval until the Stamping Set is issued.
Chair Cassis asked if the Project Managers discuss the plans among themselves. Mr. Myers said there is a certain amount of discussion between the Planners. All information is reviewed by the Director of Planning. Ms. McBeth added that usually at least two Planners attend the pre-application meetings. The Planner with more time or interest in the project is selected after that meeting.
Chair Cassis noted that sometimes an Applicant goes before the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, though that step is not shown on the flow chart. Mr. Myers responded that typically a Master Plan and Zoning Committee visit is made prior to an application being submitted. Mr. Myers said that the logical place in the flow chart for a Master Plan and Zoning Committee visit would be between the Concept and Pre-App meetings.
Member Lipski thought Mr. Myers did a nice presentation. He complimented the Staff for making the process known to future applicants. He suggested that there be a manner in which to share this information on the City’s website.
Planner Tim Schmitt said that the City won an award for its site plan manual in the 1990s. It is comprehensive but is now outdated. This manual is being made more business-friendly. Mr. Myers’ flow chart will be incorporated into the manual.
Member Meyer agreed with Member Lipski’s comments. He appreciated the Planning Department’s effort to streamline the process. He asked if the project managers visit the sites. Mr. Myers said that oftentimes the planner must go on the site to understand what is going on. Internally, there is a great GIS system to help the planners get a feel for each property. The consultants often go on site, especially the wetland and woodland consultants.
Member Kocan noted that the TC-1 text amendment request will be coming forward soon. She asked that the Planning Department be fully prepared to answer questions, including what the adequate building height and density should be. Member Kocan asked that the actual density number that Triangle Development is asking for be provided. In real terms, what is the Applicant asking for? How is this different from Gateway? How is this different from TC? What are the utilities and infrastructure?
Member Kocan said that it is possible that adding loft units will not increase density, because this type of unit attracts singles, not families. The Planning Commission will have to determine if this project is complementary to the vision that the City has of its future.
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth thanked Member Kocan for her comments. Earlier in the day the Planning Department met with the Applicant to discuss some of those very issues. They do plan on presenting their conceptual plan at the meeting. They have graphics that they will be sharing. Each of the planners is collecting different aspects of the information requested by the Planning Commission.
Member Wrobel asked whether Member Lynch was placed on any of the Planning Commission Committees. Ms. McBeth responded that Member Lynch was provided a list of Committees so that he was aware of the various opportunities. Typically the Planning Commission members review the committee memberships in July. The Planning Department did not consider seeking a mid-term modification to this, although it could be done. Currently all of the positions are filled, though Ms. McBeth said that perhaps other members may wish to give up their position if Member Lynch were interested in joining a specific committee. Chair Cassis asked that this be reviewed at the next Planning Commission meeting.
No on from the audience wished to speak.
Chair Cassis reminded the Planning Commission that they would be entering an informal study session immediately following this meeting. He welcomed the public to join the Commission, which would be held in a less formal setting.
Moved by Member Wrobel:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 03/06/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 03/07/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 03/08/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 03/20/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 03/22/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 04/03/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 04/04/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 04/05/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
FRI 04/14/06 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON 04/17/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 04/26/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
TUE 05/02/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
MON 05/08/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 05/10/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, March 13, 2006 Signature on File
Date Approved: March 22, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date