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CALL TO ORDER
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 (arrived 7:36 p.m.), Mark Pehrson
Absent: David Lipski (excused), Wayne Wrobel (excused)
Also Present: Jason Myers, Planner; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Mark Spencer, Planner; Ben Croy, Civil Engineer; Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant; David Gillam, City Attorney; Larry DeBrincat, Woodland Consultant
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The meeting attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
VOICE CALL VOTE ON AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
Motion to approve the Agenda of March 22, 2006. Motion carried 6-0.
No one from the Audience wished to speak.
There was no Correspondence to share.
The Implementation Committee will meet on Monday, March 27, 2006 at 6:30 p.m.
PLANNING DIRECTOR REPORT
Planner Tim Schmitt said that at the last City Council meeting, the Singh PRO project at Eleven Mile and Beck was approved, and will be back before the Planning Commission for review likely in April. The Schafer PRO (Wizinsky, Boynton, Profile Steel) was also approved, but for 158 homes rather than for 146. The Neugebohr rezoning request for a Grand River parcel was approved for TC zoning. The City has also chosen Novi Energy to team up with for a grant proposal for the installation of solar power cells at the Civic Center.
Member Meyer arrived at 7:36 p.m.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There were no Consent Agenda items.
1. PUBLIC HEARINGS
MEADOWBROOK CORPORATE PARK, PHASE 2, SP06-05
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Meadowbrook Road Investors, LLC for Preliminary Site Plan, Woodland Permit, and Storm Water Management Plan, and Section 9 Façade Waiver approval. The subject property is located in Section 13 east of Meadowbrook Road, south of Twelve Mile and north of I-96, in the OST, Planned Office Service Technology District. The subject property is approximately 4.57 acres and the Applicant is proposing a 34,100 square foot, one-story speculative office building for service and technology use.
Planner Jason Myers described the project for the Planning Commission. Adjacent properties include Trane to the north and Walsh College across the expressway. M-5 is behind this property. There is some State controlled land between the property and the right-of-way. Most of the area properties are master planned for Office, with some Light Industrial to the south. The land master planned for Office is zoned OST. The southerly land is zoned I-1. There is some RM-2 and a PRO across Meadowbrook Road.
There are a number of regulated wetlands in the vicinity of the project. These wetlands were all protected as a part of Phase I, which is already constructed. The Woodland Map shows a light cover regulated woodland over the rear portion of this entire development. Some of those trees have been removed as part of Phase I. There is no anticipated impact to trees with this project. The Woodland Permit is for the maintenance of a Woodland protection fence along the construction edge. There are some low priority natural features on the opposite side of Meadowbrook Road that do not directly impact this site.
Mr. Myers said that this project is Building 3. The entire park project was previously preliminarily approved in 1999. This building will be single story, much like the buildings that are already built. The Conservation Easements are already in place.
The Phase I buildings are u-shaped. The loading zone is therefore in the middle of the building. This building is effectively very similar, except there is no courtyard. The building has been, in some ways, rolled out to be a linear shape to fit the site. The previous plan showed a two-story building in a different vicinity and perpendicular to another building. The Applicant has given a few reasons of why they prefer this new layout.
There are a number of issues identified in the reviews. The Applicant has been working with the City to resolve these issues. There is deficient parking lot and building foundation landscaping. There is a lack of turning radii for a fire apparatus. A Section 9 Façade Waiver for building materials is necessary. Woodland information is lacking. All but three of these have been resolved.
The parking lot has been tweaked to include appropriate landscaping and Fire access. Mr. Myers believed that the changes address the Ordinance requirements, but if not, the Final Site Plan will do so. The woodland information is being provided and the Applicant has committed not to impact any trees. There is a small area of concern where there is a grade shift between the Conservation Easement and the construction area. This area will be reviewed to a greater detail on the Final Site Plan submittal.
The Section 9 Façade Waiver is recommended for approval by the Façade Consultant.
The deficiency in the foundation landscaping is unresolved. The Applicant states that he can meet the requirement, but the Landscape Consultant does not believe it can be done without reducing the building footprint. The Planning Commission may waive the requirement.
The Planning Commission must also decide if the loading area screening is adequate. Section 2302.a provides for the various ways in which the screening can be provided – by the building, a wall, landscaping or a berm. The area of concern is seen by the property to the north. The Applicant has discussed using evergreens rather than canopy trees to provide better screening. The Planning Commission will have to determine if they think this is appropriate.
Marlin Wroubel from Burton Katzman addressed the Planning Commission. Their address was given as 30100 Telegraph, Suite 366, Bingham Farms. Mr. Wroubel displayed an original site plan, showing the other two buildings and the then-proposed third building. It was anticipated to be a flex building with about 75% office space and 25% lab space. The loading was designed in the rear of the building. They have chosen not to build this two-story design because they could not compete in the Novi market with another two-story building. They have been successful with their one-story design, so they have upgraded their design for Building 3 to be a one-story. The other buildings in this park are getting filled up. The new plan reduces this building size from 44,000 to 34,000 square feet. The building’s orientation has been changed to face Meadowbrook Road. The back of the building will face the wooded area. They thought this would also help with curb appeal. They added bump-outs to the building to provide more screening. Mr. Wroubel said that this building’s users will not have regular loading needs. They may have an occasional twenty-foot truck drop off machinery or product, but the users are hi-tech and don’t require much loading space. The proposed building will have a loading area in an open area in the back of the building. They felt this design is superior to the old design, and puts the loading area in a less conspicuous place.
Mr. Wroubel explained that the full site approval included the roadwork and landwork necessary for this building as well. The Conservation Easement is already in place. The storm drainage is in place. The skeleton of this park is not changing – only the building style and orientation are different from the approved full-park plan. He reiterated that they would have built the larger building had the market conditions supported that decision. However, they did not see the two-story design as practical at this time.
Mr. Wroubel said that Al Hardis from Giffels Webster (their engineering firm), 2871 Bond Street, Rochester Hills, could speak to the Fire Department issue. Mr. Hardis explained that their firm uses a software package called AutoTURN, which is a standard package used in the industry. They took the information provided by the Novi Fire Department, and they worked out a fire truck in AutoTURN using the dimensions given. He showed a depiction of this exercise, and said that the green represented the outside overhang. The blue represented the front tire, and the red represented the rear tire. They revised the curb lines around the building to allow the Fire Truck to maneuver through the site both clockwise and counter-clockwise. They were confident the new design provided the Fire Department with enough room. The exercise was based on a 41’5" truck, 8’6" wide. It has a fifty foot outside radius. Member Pehrson confirmed that was the size of a large fire truck.
Member Kocan asked about the difference between the two sketches shown. Mr. Hardis said each showed one direction of going around the building. Even with a margin of error, this new design was not on the ragged edge. Mr. Hardis said that usually AutoTURN is very conservative, sometimes to the detriment of building design.
Mr. Wroubel said that they did not believe there would be any woodland issues since they were handled at the time of the full-park review. He was not aware that he would have to show a woodland plan that showed which trees were within the Conservation Easement. This area will not be impacted. These trees have since been tagged, and they are prepared to correct this deficiency.
Mr. Wroubel introduced Mark Hanson from Giffels Webster. He said that the landscape has been modified to address the parking lot, parking lot trees, screening requirement and foundation plantings. They have now shown 71 parking lot trees. They are proposing evergreens for better screening. They have now provided more than 7,800 square feet of landscaping. They eliminated the access doors to both sides of the building and a sidewalk to meet the requirement.
Mr. Hanson said that the existing trees are also shown on the plan. He spoke with Larry DeBrincat, the City’s Landscape Consultant, regarding the area where the grading might be a sensitive issue. Mr. DeBrincat wanted a record of the trees on site so that their continued existence could be monitored. Mr. DeBrincat said it was his suggestion to use evergreen trees for a better screening material. There is a grade change between this property and the northerly site. A berm would not be effective because the screening area is lower. If the Applicant abides by the counts provided in the review, then they are closer to meeting the intent of the Ordinance.
Mr. Wroubel explained that when they looked at the plan for options to place additional landscaping, they found they could remove a sidewalk along two edges. These two sidewalks really wouldn’t be used, so now they won’t have to be salted and there is less impervious surface. This plan will easily meet all of its ingress/egress requirements, even without these doors and sidewalks. There are at least 13 doors. Safety would not be compromised so that more landscaping could go on site. Each suite would meet its own safety requirements.
Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing after determining no one from the audience wished to speak. There was no correspondence.
Member Pehrson appreciated the Applicant response letter. He said that the Landscape Consultant was satisfied with the landscaping issues being addressed. The woodland issue seems to be protection of the existing Conservation Easement.
Member Pehrson thanked the Applicant for showing the AutoTURN information. He thought that the loading area was being addressed in the most appropriate way. He noted that the bump-outs on the building help and the evergreens will provide more screening. Given the grade change, not much more can be expected.
Member Pehrson appreciated the Applicant returning with an alternative design that did not impact the site any more than the originally designed building. It showed respect for the park and a willingness to work with the City.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of Meadowbrook Corporate Park, Phase II, Building 3, SP06-05, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Section 9 Waiver for façade materials as they meet the intent of the current-day building materials; 2) The plan submitted with the response letters being further modified at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, and that the Fire Marshal also reviews the turning radius and agrees with that design; 3) All the comments in the staff and consultant review letters in the packet; for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Master Plan for Land Use.
Member Avdoulos asked if a master plan was approved for the park layout. He did not know if there was a stipulation requiring a minor or major change to an approved park plan to be brought forward. He noted that there are other buildings that were proposed and those might have to change too. If an entire plan was approved with certain expectations, how does the City handle the changes that are made over time? Planner Tim Schmitt said that this process is not typical in the City any more. This was an older way of approving plans – first approving the overall site, prepping it, then coming forward for Final Site Plan approval as each phase comes forward. The change in this philosophy happened with Fox Run. They were not allowed to clear the whole site. They do their land work on a phase by phase basis. Each new building will be required to come forward for review and approval. Mr. Schmitt noted that old approvals would not be up to code.
Member Avdoulos said that his experience with a similar project is that he would not be able to move forward with the building change until their full site’s master plan was reviewed and the change was approved first at the full-site level. Member Avdoulos liked the fact that this park has low buildings in the front and taller buildings to the rear. Aesthetically, that has a nice look. If the Applicant can go building by building and change their designs, that is okay too, as long as procedures are being followed. Mr. Schmitt said that Mr. Wroubel was ahead of his time when he brought this plan forward. Today’s Ordinance allows for the Road and Utility design to come forward prior to the building site plans.
Mr. Wroubel said that the Conservation Easement area was clearly defined. They are working within the constraints of the originally approved development. He hoped that the other buildings would be built as designed – a two-story and a three-story. That will be dictated by economics. They will work within the envelopes created by their roads and utilities. Mr. Wroubel said that the actual buildings were not approved with the full park – just their building envelopes were part of the original approval.
Member Avdoulos was pleased with the screening outcome. Mr. Myers said he has looked at the updated plan, but he could not say whether the requirements have been met. He thought that they were probably acceptable. Member Avdoulos asked if the sidewalks proposed for removal were required. He looked at the floorplan, and he thought that there might be a need for doors, depending on how the space inside is designed. He thought this should be considered. Mr. Myers said that the City would prefer to see a sidewalk, especially along the north side. There is nothing in the Ordinance that would require the sidewalk be placed there. The Building Department would not allow a barrier-free space so far away from the doors. Therefore the barrier-free access would not be necessary. Mr. Myers said that both he and Mr. DeBrincat believed that the only way to get all the landscape on the site would be to shrink the building.
Member Avdoulos confirmed that the Fire Marshal has not reviewed the most recent turning radius plan. Mr. Myers felt that this new plan addresses the issues, and any changes necessary would be minor. Member Avdoulos has used AutoTURN type programs, and he agreed that they were conservative.
Member Avdoulos noticed that the parking space count is based on 100% office – 649 spaces. He said there was a suggestion that something be placed in the motion or deed restriction to keep the Applicant from exceeding parking needs above what the site can handle. The Applicant will never provide fewer spaces than necessary, but it is important that the site not be taxed by its parking needs. Mr. Myers said that he would defer to Mr. Gillam, the City Attorney. He agreed that when tenants change over, there can be issues with adequate parking levels.
Mr. Gillam understood that an amendment must be made to the Master Deed for this development to allow for the revised layout of this building. The Master Deed would be the appropriate place to address the issue of parking needs. There could be general language restricting the amount of area devoted to office use to the amount of parking on site. The alternative would be for the Planning Department to calculate the amount of parking required by the office space, and a specific number could be referenced as a ratio in the Master Deed. The second of the two ways, the more specific calculation, would be the better way to go. It would be appropriate for the Planning Commission to stipulate that the Applicant amend the Master Deed to include a restriction on the amount of area that could be devoted to office space, based upon the parking that has been provided on site.
Member Avdoulos asked if the Applicant would have a ratio to work with. Mr. Wroubel believed that the plan is already in place. The idea was the park would be designed at a 75/25 office/lab ratio, and the parking ratio is complementary.
Mr. Wroubel said that a survey of the existing buildings shows an almost perfect 75/25 split in the uses. The property is not overparked. The other buildings include Trinity Health Care Administrative Center, Sony Sound Division, Rolm Electric, Miden, engineering firms, IKON Business Solutions, etc. None of these uses lead to a lot of big truck traffic either.
Member Avdoulos agreed with the Façade Consultant. The building is of good quality and is representative of what the park and setting should be. He was encouraged to see this corridor coming along. He also thanked the Applicant for a nice response letter. He supported the motion.
Member Avdoulos and Member Pehrson questioned whether the Master Deed information needed to be put in the motion, though Member Avdoulos noted that it was contained already in the reviews.
Mr. Wroubel said that the revised Master Deed is already being processed, and that the parking information is contained therein. He had no issues with the parking information being a part of the Master Deed.
Member Kocan said it sounded to her that the Applicant was aware of what needed to be done. She thought that the Planning Commission should start being consistent at the table in making the parking a point of information. She suggested that, "A Master Deed restriction amendment to limit the total area devoted to office to ensure adequate parking, which would include specific calculations," be added to the motion. Mr. Gillam agreed that leaving the calculation phrase open vs. stating 75/25 was preferable. Member Kocan confirmed with Mr. Gillam that the Master Deed is updated with each phase. The maker and seconder of the motion approved of the addition.
Mr. Myers said that there is nothing more to be done with the Conservation Easement. The City holds financial guarantees on some of the landscaping and woodland issues from Phase I. There has been recent activity to clear up those items. Mr. DeBrincat said that with Phase I, the replacement trees were expected to be planted in their entirety. However, only fifty trees have been accepted thus far, and 326 trees are required. Member Kocan asked if these trees should now be addressed on the Phase II approval. Mr. Schmitt explained that it is not uncommon for Phase I to be incomplete when Phase II begins on a phased project. Both buildings have C of Os. There are financial guarantees. The Administrative Staff is working on closing out these old projects. Mr. Schmitt respectfully asked that these trees not be made part of Phase II, because it would conflict with the process in place. Member Kocan asked that the Applicant take note that the City is aware that Phase I is not completed.
Member Kocan said that the landscaping deficiency was about 2,000 square feet on the first plan submitted. Member Kocan would like to see the sidewalk remain, particularly along the north side of the building. There is parking on the east side, whose patrons may like to use this sidewalk. She didn’t know how this impacts the landscape number. With building foundation landscaping, she knew that the Planning Commission could grant certain waivers. She asked whether additional landscaping could be added to other phases. Mr. Myers said that more landscaping could go in the parking lot. There is no room in the perimeter. He understood that the Planning Commission can give a waiver for the landscaping, and a condition of that waiver could be additional consideration elsewhere.
Mr. Schmitt said that the Planning Commission has routinely reviewed bank plans where the foundation landscaping is missing in the drive-through area. Additional landscape is typically provided on the opposite wall of the building. The Planning Commission can waive along one face of the building and ask for it to be made up elsewhere. The Planning Commission can also waive the number in its entirety. Member Kocan asked that, "Minimizing the building foundation landscaping deficiency as much as possible through additional parking lot landscaping and working with the City Landscape Architect to the extent feasible, and a granting of a waiver for the balance." Discussion over what the stipulation meant ensued, after which it was iterated that the maker and the seconder of the motion agreed to the addition of the language. Mr. Myers said that technically, the statement waives the building foundation requirements. If the sidewalk went back onto the plan, the foundation deficiency would remain. There could be additional parking lot landscaping, which can be required at the discretion of the Planning Commission. Member Kocan said that was her intent.
Chair Cassis summarized that there would still be a deficiency in the sidewalk area. This verbiage allows for some of the deficiency to be addressed with additional parking lot landscaping. Chair Cassis asked the Applicant for his input. Mr. Wroubel pointed out that there is not much room in the area. If the southerly sidewalk is removed, the deficiency would be halved. He asked that just the sidewalk be placed on the top, then there would be a 1,000 square foot deficiency (number revised to 200 square feet later in the meeting). It could be even less. Member Kocan said she was more concerned with the north side. She would consider the removal of the southerly sidewalk. Mr. Wroubel said that he didn’t want to mislead the Planning Commission about how much additional landscape could be added to the parking lot area. He offered to landscape the south side and look at some other areas. They might be able to lose a parking space. He felt they could minimize some of the deficiency, and he appreciated the Planning Commission’s waiving the requirement with the caveat that he continue to work on the plan to minimize what the actual deficiency is.
Mr. Myers said that there is room in the parking lot if spaces were removed. The plan is 19 spaces over the requirement. Two of those spaces have already been removed for the Fire Marshal’s request. The southerly sidewalk removal might be a good idea, especially when compared to the north. Mr. Myers asked if the Applicant would be interested in providing some foundation landscaping in the vicinity of the four parking spaces shown in the middle of the back of the plan, between the two loading areas. Operationally, if those spaces were removed, it wouldn’t affect their loading zone. Mr. Myers wasn’t sure however, whether that area could be considered foundation landscaping. Mr. Wroubel said that they did consider that area once before for a landscape element. They felt that having the area open is helpful for trucks and for screening purposes. He offered to look at other areas for landscape inclusion.
Chair Cassis asked whether there was any space in Phase I that might benefit from the transfer of landscaping from Phase II. Mr. Myers responded that the Phase I landscaping is probably established, so that would not be an easy design. Without reviewing the Phase I plan, Mr. Myers was not sure where that area might be. Chair Cassis thought the front of the development could use more landscaping. In general, that area is void of landscaping. They cut all the trees.
Mr. Schmitt offered that the previous phase was built under the old Landscape Ordinance. Chair Cassis said the Planning Commission is considering a deviation from the Ordinance, so why not make the best of it by suggesting a more productive proposal? Member Kocan said she wanted the stipulation to reflect that the Applicant would continue to work with the City on a resolution to this matter. Could she ask the Applicant to do so?
Mr. Hanson said that the foundation landscaping could be added to front of this building, because this is the main entrance. Landscape could be added to the one landscape island that is most visible. There is considerable landscaping in other areas already. This suggestion would add understory landscaping to the trees. Mr. Hanson said that they are currently proposing seven additional parking lot trees that might be considered as additional landscaping. Member Kocan said the point is to add as much landscaping as possible. She said that whatever the City can work out with the Applicant would be helpful. Mr. DeBrincat understood that the Applicant was suggesting to add material, not land, to the landscape area. Landscaping the sidewalk area would result in a net deficiency of about 200 square feet. They would make up that difference and the net result would be a surplus of material. Mr. DeBrincat wanted the Planning Commission to understand that the Applicant is proposing more material, not more area. Member Kocan did not want to beat this issue to death, and she appreciated the Conservation Easement, and she took pride in the appearance of Novi. While she did not need to hold this Applicant to 1,800 square feet of landscaping, she would be satisfied if the Applicant would agree to provide some additional landscaping.
Member Kocan encouraged the Applicant to continue to work with the City. The Applicant agreed to do so.
Member Kocan asked to add to the motion, "Additional landscaping being added to screen the loading zone area as was discussed this evening." The response was that it was part of the comments stipulation. Mr. Myers said that technically, the motion should state the Planning Commission approves of evergreen trees in lieu of canopy trees in the vicinity of the loading zone area. Member Kocan asked that this language be added to the motion. The maker and the seconder agreed.
Member Meyer said that initially he had concerns for the number of issues that were on the table. He is assured that there has been a real solid collaboration between the Applicant and the Planning Department. He supported the motion.
Chair Cassis appreciated all of the comments. He commended the Applicant for his adjusting to the times and the market conditions. He would rather see an Applicant develop his property accordingly than have him stay with an old plan that is not marketable. He thanked him for working with the Planning Department. The property is being developed to its potential and the City’s needs have been satisfied.
Chair Cassis said it was a better plan to leave the sidewalk in place, for both the landowner and his tenants. He was receptive to the additional landscaping being placed in the front for a spruced up viewshed. Chair Cassis said that the City’s vision for Meadowbrook Road is finally unfolding, and the City hopes to see the future projects come forward with similar quality.
Mr. Myers clarified that the Applicant is removing the south sidewalk but will keep the north sidewalk. The landscaping will be added to the site where possible, but the actual landscape Ordinance number has been waived to a reduced number as yet unknown.
Mr. Myers wished to clarify that the Phase I plan approved the first two buildings. The "concept" of Building 3 was approved – nothing more. Future buildings will also have to go the Preliminary Site Plan process. The roads are not fully complete to the back of the site. The grading is done and the clearing is done. Mr. Wroubel said that the information was correct. Mr. Wroubel stated that Ashley Heidelberg will be heading up the rest of this project.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON MEADOWBROOK CORPORATE PARK PHASE 2, SP06-05, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of Meadowbrook Corporate Park, Phase II, Building 3, SP06-05, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Section 9 Waiver for façade materials as they meet the intent of the current-day building materials; 2) The plan submitted with the response letters being further modified at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, and that the Fire Marshal also reviews the turning radius and agrees with that design; 3) All the comments in the staff and consultant review letters in the packet; 4) A Master Deed restriction amendment to limit the total area devoted to office to ensure adequate parking, which would include specific calculations; 5) Minimizing the building foundation landscaping deficiency as much as possible through additional parking lot landscaping and working with the City Landscape Architect to the extent feasible, and a granting of a waiver for the balance; and 6) The Planning Commission approving evergreen trees in lieu of canopy trees in the vicinity of the loading zone area; for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Master Plan for Land Use. Motion carried 7-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON MEADOWBROOK CORPORATE PARK PHASE 2, SP06-05, WOODLAND PERMIT MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of Meadowbrook Corporate Park, Phase II, Building 3, SP06-05, motion to approve the Woodland Permit subject to all comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 7-0.
It was noted by Member Kocan that this project does not remove any additional trees from the site.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON MEADOWBROOK CORPORATE PARK PHASE 2, SP06-05, STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of Meadowbrook Corporate Park, Phase II, Building 3, SP06-05, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to all comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 7-0.
Chair Cassis noted that throughout this review the Planning Commission members interjected their related questions when the subject was at hand. Though this is not the standing manner in which this Planning Commission operates, he commended the members for their tolerance of the interruptions, which he felt resulted in a superior site plan. Member Avdoulos agreed, and stated that it seemed appropriate to ask the questions on the tip of his tongue when they were relevant to the discussion.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. PINEBROOK PROFESSIONAL BUILDING, SP05-21B
Consideration of the request of Rino J. Soave for a revised Preliminary Site Plan, Storm Water Management Plan, and a Section 9 Façade Waiver approval. The subject property is located in Section 24 at the southeast corner of Grand River Avenue and Joseph Drive, in the NCC,Non-Center Commercial District. The subject property is on 1.2 acres and the Applicant is proposing to build two 3,850 sq. ft. one-story office buildings.
Planner Mark Spencer described the project for the Planning Commission. The site is master planned for Community Commercial. It is zoned NCC, Non-center Commercial. The neighboring properties include Glenda’s Market to the west (zoned NCC), Novi Commercial Center to the north (zoned I-1 and master planned for Community Commercial), Beech Tree Office complex to the east (zoned I-1 and master planned for Community Commercial), and residential single family homes in Leslie Park to the south (zoned R-4 and master planned for Single Family Residential).
There are no regulated woodlands, wetlands or natural feature areas on this site
On November 9, 2005 the Applicant obtained approval from the Planning Commission for one 7,992 sq. ft. office building on this site subject to obtaining a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the minimum required lot area, and a variance to the required front yard setback for an encroachment of ten feet. Subsequent to the November 9th meeting, the Applicant found out that a deed restriction required any commercial driveway to be located 250 feet from the residential properties to the south. The Applicant elected to wait to go before the ZBA until a redesigned site plan is approved.
The Applicant has now redesigned the site, moving the driveway more than 250 feet from the neighboring residential property, and proposing two buildings instead of one building. Since this is a major redesign of the site it is being returned to the Planning Commission to consider it for Preliminary Site Plan approval. The Applicant also is proposing to repave a portion of Joseph Drive to a point just past their entrance drive, though he is not required to do so. Currently the road is chip-sealed.
The Site Plan demonstrates general compliance with the standards of the Zoning Ordinance except for a few items. The parcel does not meet the minimum lot area requirement of two acres for the NCC District. A Zoning Board of Appeals variance is required to build on a non-conforming lot. The Applicant has indicated a desire to pursue this variance. Staff supports this variance since this site is an existing non-conforming lot platted for residential purposes many years ago, and the surrounding properties are currently developed with existing uses.
Mr. Spencer showed the elevation of the building as seen from Grand River. The buildings will have a similar look. The elevations for north and south will be reversed, but east and west elevations are going to remain the same. The covered entryway encroaches 13 feet into the required 40-foot front yard setback - overhangs including porches may encroach up to three feet into a required front yard setback. The proposed covered entryway exceeds this by 10 feet. The Applicant has indicated a desire to pursue a variance from the ZBA to encroach into the setback. Staff does not support this variance since the building could be designed without any encroachment. Previously, the Planning Commission recommended approval of this variance, but now there are two covered areas.
The plan meets the minimum requirements for parking. 35 spaces are required, and 35 are provided. This district permits the use of medical, retail and restaurant uses. The amount of parking required for those uses would not be met by this plan.
770 square feet of loading and unloading area are required per building. Two loading areas with a total area of 1,007 square feet are proposed which results in a shortage of 533 square feet. A Zoning Board of Appeals variance is required to reduce the area below the area required in the Ordinance. Staff supports this variance since the two loading and unloading areas are less than thirty feet from each other and could be used for deliveries to either building. Also, if the buildings fronted Grand River Avenue instead of Joseph Drive only 500 square feet of loading area would be required per building.
The Landscape Architect does not recommend approval of the plan. The
adjacent to residential berm requirement for a six-to-eight foot high berm
with a five foot wide flat crest was not provided. The measurement is made
The Engineering Review recommends approval subject to the Applicant receiving a Design and Construction Standards Variance from the City Council to eliminate the curb requirement along Joseph Drive. Other minor issues can be corrected on the Final Site Plan.
The Applicant is requesting a Section 9 Waiver to permit facades with up to 61.56% asphalt shingles. The Planning Commission gave a similar waiver for the previous site plan. The Façade Consultant recommends granting the waiver.
The Fire Marshal has not recommended approval of this site plan due to access issues. Several design alternatives are available to satisfy his issues. The Applicant has decided to seek a City Council general appeal Variance from the Fire Marshal’s requirements for an access road length without adequate room to turn-around the largest fire truck and all points around the perimeter of the building to be no more than 175 feet of hose laying distance from proposed hydrant. The Applicant has agreed to meet the minimum outside turning radius of fifty feet, another requirement of the Fire Marshal.
Other issues are minor items and can be corrected or included on the final site plan submittal
Approval of the Preliminary Site Plan is not recommended at this time because of the items mentioned. If the requested variances are granted, then the Planning Department will recommend approval.
Rino Soave, 20592 Chestnut, Livonia, addressed the Planning Commission. He reiterated that he received approval from the Planning Commission back in November 2004. This building is about the same in scope. A problem surfaced in December, when the adjacent neighborhood association president called and said there was a deed restriction that required a certain distance for the driveways. Mr. Soave sat down with Leslie Park residents and reviewed his plans with them. Most problems were easily addressed. This driveway was a problem to them.
Mr. Soave explained that the split to building, making it two distinct buildings, was done in such a manner that the overall impression was the new design resembled the old design as much as it could. The old building was 8,000 square feet. This plan has two 3,850 square foot buildings.
Mr. Soave said he knew there were still outstanding issues, i.e., the need for variances and waivers. He felt that the Planning Commission previously gave approval and these variances are the same. There are now a couple of other issues, such as loading, and the big issue is the one with the Fire Marshal. Since the plans were submitted, the most southerly fire hydrant has been moved closer to the south building. They have added a sidewalk to the east building so if there was a fire, the fire truck could pull right up to the hydrant. The truck won’t have to go into the parking lot. Mr. Soave’s engineer has spoken with the Fire Marshal. He thought the problem was the design resulted in a hose length shortage of 15-20 feet. Chair Cassis said that this was a critical issue. Mr. Soave said he understood that.
Chair Cassis asked whether Leslie Park was notified of this meeting. Mr. Spencer said the only way they would have known is if they contacted City Hall or looked up the agenda on the website. Mr. Spencer said that some of Mr. Soave’s comments about meeting with Leslie Park have been verified. Moving the driveway was their big concern.
Member Meyer appreciated that the Applicant met with the neighbors and moved the fire hydrant. Upon his first review, he felt that there were too many issues. But as it unfolded, it seemed to Member Meyer that the Applicant was doing his best to meet the intent of the Ordinance wherever possible. Member Meyer was worried about the loading zone being undersized. He also was concerned about the canopy extension, though he felt the canopy was appropriate for the building. He could not imagine removing the canopy from the building without affecting the aesthetic features of the building.
Mr. Soave and his architect, Brian Forestra, responded. Mr. Soave said the hardship on this property is the fact that it is only 120 feet wide. It is like a bowling alley. It is 475 feet deep. They are trying to maximize the potential of the site. By removing the covered entryways, the character will be removed from the buildings. Without the canopies, the City will be stuck with buildings sans architectural design.
Mr. Forestra said the canopy was discussed at length at the last meeting. They have looked at so many variations of the building that wouldn’t have this variance request, but this design makes the buildings sing. It is a difficult site. They have tried to be in compliance. They are close. This request is one they would like to pursue because it provides the character for the buildings. The residents didn’t seem to mind this variance. It is important to the architectural integrity. It is a bonus to the City of Novi. He said that the Planning Commission gave its approval at the first meeting, although he conceded that now there are two canopies. That is the product of the building being separated in two.
Member Meyer asked about the loading area shortfall. The Applicant said that if they could have avoided this problem, they would have. If the buildings could face Grand River, the deficiency would not be there. The fact that the site is very long and narrow, the site design is hampered. This design shortfall does not diminish the usefulness of the loading zone. Sometimes numbers just don’t speak of the situation. They did not feel as if this design was a detriment to the project as a whole. It is just a numerical deficiency. The site is tight on parking. Whatever is jockeyed will have ramifications elsewhere. These two small office buildings are not going to have big deliveries like a food service company would. Member Meyer said that is exactly what he was hoping to hear.
Member Gutman was concerned about the fire issues – the driveway length and the hose length shortfall. He looked to the City’s experts for the explanations on those issues. Member Gutman appreciated that the Applicant has modified the landscaping to improve the site.
Member Kocan was not comfortable sending the Applicant to City Council with the requests needed for this proposal. Member Kocan asked if this building would be sprinklered. Mr. Spencer said this building is not proposed to be sprinklered. Member Kocan asked if the buildings were sprinklered whether it would make a difference. Mr. Spencer said that sprinklering would remove all of the Fire Marshal’s concerns. Planner Tim Schmitt clarified that it may remove the Fire Marshal’s concerns, but it didn’t eliminate the need for the waivers. The numerical requirements still apply. With sprinklering, the Fire Marshal might support the request for waivers.
Member Kocan said that this is a very small lot. She drove up and down Grand River and looked at the sizes of buildings. Everything is one story. Glenda’s looks residential. This proposal has a residential look. She was concerned about the protrusion into the Joseph front yard, because all of the houses on the street have a setback requirement of thirty feet. Now, this building should be able to project into that setback? Member Kocan then said that these buildings’ setback requirement is forty feet, but they are asking for a 13-foot variance, so the setback would be 27 feet. Mr. Spencer said that there is 13 feet of projection into the setback. The Ordinance permits three feet of overhang. Member Kocan was trying to visualize. If all of the homes are thirty feet back, then the overhang is really only three feet. Mr. Spencer said correct. Some of the houses have overhangs, though typically not three feet. Member Kocan said that the massive size of the porch concerned her. It also concerned her that this site is vacant. She said the site dimensions do make it a difficult site to build upon.
Member Kocan said that it doesn’t make sense that the Ordinance bases the loading area on a building fronting something like Grand River, so the most it would be is 100 feet, so the required loading zone would be very small, even if the building was 600 feet long. Because the front is along Joseph Street, additional loading space is being required. Member Kocan could justify in her mind that the combination of the two loading areas [could be considered] but the Applicant has also said that an adjoining sidewalk could be replaced with additional landscape. It also seemed to her that this loading area seems larger than what has been required at other buildings. She understood that most deliveries would come from UPS-type trucks. She said that sometimes the Planning Commission allows the UPS delivery area to be right in front of the building. At least this Applicant is providing a specific location for loading. Member Kocan said that the area provided however, is in the side yard and not the rear yard. She felt the area was on display and she would look for more landscaping on both the east and west sides. This would screen it from the street and the neighbor to the east. That was something she would be looking for, and she thought the City was looking for additional landscaping in general. Mr. Spencer confirmed that the Applicant has agreed to correct all landscape deficiencies, as stated in their response letter. Member Kocan asked if this would be accomplished by removing the sidewalk between the loading zones. Mr. Spencer answered affirmatively, and said that the Planning Department has no objections to the Applicant doing that, because the loading zones are so close together, if someone has to walk around several parking spaces to utilize both areas, that is acceptable. Chances of this property having two deliveries at the same time for the same business is fairly remote, given that each building is only 3,800 square feet.
Member Kocan asked about the emergency exits and the pads of concrete requiring sidewalks. Mr. Spencer said that the Building Code will require those pads to be connected to the sidewalk system or the parking lot system. Member Kocan asked if that would reduce the foundation plantings. Mr. Spencer said that it would. Member Kocan asked if this would affect their meeting the Ordinance requirement. Mr. Spencer said that the calculations would have to be reviewed.
Member Kocan asked about the berm. She looked at the berm and saw the 872 and 879 numbers. She was thinking about the seven-foot berm. She did recall going over the berm Ordinance very carefully to make sure that properties that are either lower or higher, that the actual impact of the berm is real as opposed as perceived. The Planning Commission needs to know what the finished floor elevation of the house is. Once that is determined, then the Member Kocan would be looking for the six-to-eight foot berm with the five-foot crest. If she was asking for that, she wondered if there was enough room between the property line and the building to put that size of a berm in place.
Larry DeBrincat, Landscape Consultant for the City, responded that there is not enough space on the site for that sized berm, unless they incorporate a retaining wall as part of the berm so that the base width could be reduced. Mr. DeBrincat did not have a specific number to share off the top of his head. One of the prime problems is their crest as currently designed is only three feet, and right now guesses are being bantered about since the actual finished floor elevation of the house is unknown. Mr. DeBrincat’s colleague, Doris Hill, reviewed this plan and she indicated that the berm is based on an estimation and is very close to the correct height. It just needs to be a little bit higher. Ms. Hill also noted in her review that the Applicant is providing a substantial evergreen planting on that berm. That is certainly going to add to the opacity of the area.
Member Kocan confirmed that the City already knows what the finished grade of these buildings would be. Member Kocan said there were 15 Norway Spruces on the berm and there were White Spruces, Serviceberries, Norway Maples, Dogwoods - all interspersed. She was pleased to see the mix. She just didn’t want to shortchange the residents. She didn’t want this project dwarfing the neighborhood. She wasn’t sure if the size should be reduced so that circulation was better. The Applicant responded that the Leslie Park Homeowners’ Association President, John Walk, discussed this with him in depth. This was a concern to them too. Basically, the deed restriction states that the berm must be five-to-six feet tall. What they are looking for is something similar to what was installed from Glenda’s to Leslie Park. They obviously provided a lot less trees. Mr. Walk noted that the landscape plan showed "a lot of dots and circles" [trees] and he said that he was satisfied with that. Mr. Soave wanted a letter from him that could have been shared with the Planning Commission, but he was on vacation. Mr. Walk did offer to take calls from any of the Planning Commission members who wished to speak with him. Member Kocan appreciated that the Applicant was working with the neighbors.
Member Kocan said she finds that the "dots" on the plan and the actual plantings are as different as night and day. Where the plan indicates that there is no room between trees, the actual plantings provide fifteen-foot spaces. The difference is significant. She said there were numerous places throughout the City where examples of this could be found. Plans look good on paper, but it takes ten or fifteen years for the landscape to look really good. She said this issue is going to come before the Implementation Committee because it is a real concern. Member Kocan confirmed that the Leslie Park Subdivision has nothing to do with the area that is affected by this design. Mr. Soave also stated that the screening on the east side of the property is adjacent to Beech Tree’s loading zone and exit doors. He said that their delivery trucks will indeed be the smaller trucks. He said he tried to have a curb cut off of Grand River, which is prohibited due to the fact that so many are already there.
Member Kocan asked whether the Applicant was saying he didn’t want to beef up his landscape along the east property line. Mr. Soave said that he didn’t specifically say that. Member Kocan said she wanted landscaping added there.
Member Kocan asked Civil Engineer Ben Croy to comment on the curb and gutter along Joseph Drive. Mr. Croy said that the Applicant is seeking the variance from this standard. The City feels that the curb preserves the edge of the road and also helps with parking alongside the road. The Staff feels the curb should go in and the road would be better, but he said this would be left to the City Council to consider. The curb and gutter would only apply to where this Applicant is paving.
Member Kocan thought there was a discussion regarding water flow at the last meeting on this project. Mr. Croy confirmed that there would not be any curb and gutter requirement south of this site’s entrance. He said an earlier concern was expressed regarding water flow, but it is not so much of a problem anymore, in light of some information the Applicant has regarding the favorable soil conditions. The fact that the drive was moved further north also helps alleviate any concern.
Member Pehrson said that the last time the Planning Commission reviewed the plan, he didn’t have a problem with the overhang. It does add an aesthetic feature. It provided something to the building. He does get concerned with so many waiver and variance requests. Some are technical. Some are minor. The Fire Marshal issues jump out. Member Pehrson asked if the Applicant has ever sought a cross-access easement with Beech Tree. Mr. Soave responded that he spoke with Clif Seiber, one of the owners of that site. Mr. Seiber said their building is up for sale, so he was very sensitive to making changes on his site at this time. Mr. Soave said he hasn’t followed up with it because he understood that Mr. Seiber was in no position to negotiate this. He agreed that this could alleviate a lot of concerns, but he was leaving it up to Mr. Seiber to re-address the issue.
Member Pehrson said that if there was an access in that area, there was a hydrant near the southwest side of the property, which is probably within 100 feet of the southerly building. He would feel a little more comfortable with that. Moving the fire hydrant was appreciated, but it just barely gets the City to the point of acceptability. Technically the Applicant is doing the right thing, but Member Pehrson didn’t think there was much of a safety margin.
Member Pehrson said that other than that, and the access drive length, he was also troubled with the fifty-foot turning radius. Engineer Bill Donnan, Arpee-Donnan, 36937 Schoolcraft, Livonia, addressed the Planning Commission. He said the reason for the fifty-foot turning radius is so the Fire Department can turn into the parking lot and go down to the south end of the building. When the truck gets there, there isn’t enough room to turn around because the property is not wide enough. Mr. Donnan spoke with the Fire Marshal about how to eliminate this problem. One of the options was to add an additional hydrant in the Joseph Street right-of-way, south of the sidewalk on the north side of the building. The Fire Marshal said that would be adequate, but the Applicant would still have to provide some other way for the Fire Department, i.e. pavement or sidewalks, to be able to pull the hoses onto the site without having to cross over the berm. Mr. Donnan thought that by adding another hydrant and doing a couple of other things, he felt that he could design something that would satisfy the Fire Marshal.
Member Pehrson approved of the project. He thought there was a hardship relating to the size of the site and its configuration. He hated to place these decisions on the backs of City Council members, but his recommendation on this plan would not be to support it unless a concrete plan was designed to address the safety issues. The parking lot, landscaping, canopy trees and canopy encroachment issues are all things Member Pehrson could live with, but the safety issues must be addressed.
Member Avdoulos asked about the 250-foot buffer along Joseph Drive. How did that deed restriction come to pass? It almost created a circle around the property that prevents entrance onto the property. Then, that affects the surrounding properties. He understood that 250 feet would not deny the property to the north access into their site, but it would have been nice for them to be able to follow through on the original design. When he first read through the information, he thought the Applicant couldn’t take the road all the way down. He now understands it is actually the driveway location.
City Attorney David Gillam responded that he didn’t know the specifics. He guessed that this property was originally part of that subdivision. When the subdivision was laid out, the condition was put in place. He didn’t know if it was specific to these two lots or whether it was a more general condition all along Grand River Avenue. With the transfer of the property comes the deed restriction. That’s the best way to describe it – a reservation of that condition by the person making the transfer of the piece of property sometime in the past. That condition stays in place. The condition could be released by the adjacent property owner, if they so chose. It sounds like they are not willing to release that deed restriction. The restriction is binding. It is not binding upon the City but if the City went ahead and approved a plan contrary to the Deed Restriction, then the adjacent property owner has a quick trip out to the Circuit Court and that’s the end of that.
Mr. Spencer said that oftentimes these restrictions are put on a property to restrict the type of use the intensity of use. The people who platted this subdivision said that commercial would be okay, but the residential component must be protected at the same time.
Member Avdoulos said that the original plan went through process and was approved. He wondered how this information came to the surface. Mr. Soave responded that the restriction was put in place in the early 1980s. 13 or 14 property owners signed for this restriction, which limited commercial use to the furthest south section of this property. They knew the entrance would come off of Joseph, so they were protecting themselves for a commercial entry being placed too close to their residential area. Mr. Soave learned about the restriction the day before the ZBA meeting. The association president contacted him with the information. Mr. Soave’s attorney told him to meet with the residents or meet the requirements. Fighting the restriction could take a lot of time and money. Mr. Soave has already lost a potential tenant who needed to be in the building by the end of summer. Mr. Soave said that his building company will be housed on this site.
Member Avdoulos asked if the driveway was as close as it could go. Mr. Soave didn’t know for sure, but he thought so. Member Avdoulos said the first plan was discussed ad nauseam.
Member Avdoulos said that the southerly building was now 90 feet away from the residences. The peak of the building was almost forty feet high. This massive structure is now closer to the homes. Before, the one building was pushed up closer to Grand River. Now, the two-building design provides a different composition. He was concerned with the 10:12 pitch. Before, he thought this was okay. Now, he thought that this pitch was a bit too much. It is perhaps 1.5 times of what is seen as a brick line. He understood that it sloped back, but it was still a big concern. He would rather see a less dominant pitch.
Member Avdoulos said he was also concerned about the circulation within the site. There is a tight spot near the barrier-free area in the south. He understood the constraints of the site. He just felt that the design was a bit too uncomfortable. From the Fire Department’s point of view, plans could be acceptable if the trucks could pull up alongside the property when on-site maneuverability was amiss. He thought that the north building has better access. The south building requires navigational skills. But, the trucks could pull up on Joseph. Also, the neighboring site has a drive that could provide access to the building. He wasn’t that worried about those concerns.
Member Avdoulos saw that the plan has a "future access" notation and wondered if that note would remain. Mr. Soave said that he planned to leave the notation, which was located just north of the south building. Mr. Donnan said it was shown on the north side, opposite the entrance from Joseph. That was one of the requirements, that the area be reserved for this possible future access. Member Avdoulos said he would be more concerned about the southern section, because if something pulls in and needs to get out, that would be the way to get out. Mr. Donnan said that was true. For that reason, the cross-access would be better in the north so that someone could pull straight through. If the reason for cross-access was to create access to the south building, then it could be moved further south.
Member Avdoulos said that comments made about the hydrant being moved and the shortening of the laydown area length were addressed in the response letter. He wondered if the Fire Marshal has had the opportunity to see these responses. Mr. Spencer said that the Fire Marshal’s main concern is the safety of the building. Fire suppression is one of the answers. Mr. Spencer did discuss possibilities with the Fire Marshal, but Mr. Evans did not want to give a particular answer because there are many ways to skin a cat in this situation. There is a potential that the hose laying distance could be shrunk by one or more hydrants being installed. It may take two hydrants to address this issue. Another concern is that there is a clear access path to the hydrant. The Fire Department doesn’t want to dodge landscaping or climb a berm. Openings could be designed into the berm.
Mr. Spencer said that the Applicant could design an emergency access entrance. That would take the Applicant’s attorney reviewing the deed restriction. The City has not seen the Deed Restriction. Mr. Spencer was under the impression that the restriction is 250 feet. That may not be correct. There is a possibility that an emergency access could be placed within the restriction. That would make the Fire Marshal happy because it would shorten his access. Most importantly, the Fire Marshal would say that the buildings should be sprinklered.
Chair Cassis confirmed with Mr. Donnan that the Applicant has offered to add a fire hydrant. Mr. Spencer said that the Engineering Department required a hydrant somewhere in the right-of-way. The location of the Applicant’s proposed hydrant does help the Fire Department tremendously. It doesn’t address all of his concerns. The Fire Marshal has not seen a revised plan at this time.
Mr. Spencer said that if the Planning Commission desires, an approving motion could be made that is conditional upon the Fire Marshal’s approval. Chair Cassis would suggest the same thing.
Chair Cassis confirmed with the Applicant that he was willing to continue to work with the Fire Marshal. Chair Cassis said that safety was the biggest concern at the Planning Commission table. The Applicant said that he would also look into an emergency access gate being placed in the deed restricted area. He knew that the residents were most concerned with vehicles parking up and down Joseph. That is a problem with Glenda’s already. He thought that perhaps the residents would agree to the emergency access gate.
Member Meyer added that he was concerned about Joseph becoming partly paved. The City already has sidewalks that lead to nowhere. Now the City is considering the approval of a plan that creates half-paved roads.
Chair Cassis agreed that it was a difficult site. The redeeming feature is the fact that it is a corner lot. This provides agility and enough leeway for access for fire trucks. Delivery people will also have options.
Chair Cassis reiterated that the Applicant has agreed to continue to work with the Fire Department until they are satisfied. That is the only way Chair Cassis would approve of this plan.
A plan for this parcel has already been approved. Many of these questions have already been answered. There are some variances that will have to be taken care of with a different governing body. The Planning Commission has seen the collision of what is practical and feasible, and what is required. This plan is a bit more intense than the other plans that have presented similar situations. The consideration of what is required by the City and what is really feasible and practical for this site is what was driving Chair Cassis to his decision on this request. He noted that the neighbors have been brought into this review.
Chair Cassis was not troubled by the encroachment of the buildings. He thought that these buildings were placed in such a manner that it helped shield the residents from Grand River traffic. Really, these buildings are good looking and dress up the frontage of Grand River for the residents. He thought they should welcome this design, regardless of the encroachment of the canopies.
Chair Cassis understood that the Applicant had to build something that is workable and addresses the economics of the site. He was comforted in knowing that this site would not remain in its current form. It doesn’t look good. It sits all by itself as a lonesome bride. He encouraged the City to allow this site to be dressed up and given a bit of character. This Applicant is proposing just that.
Chair Cassis said that if the safety issues are resolved, he could yield on the others issues. The overwhelming need for this property to be spruced up outweighs the lesser issues.
Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of Pinebrook Professional Building, SP05-21B, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A ZBA variance for minimum lot area; 2) A ZBA variance to encroach 13 feet into the required 40-foot front yard setback; 3) A ZBA variance to reduce the required loading/unloading area by 533 square feet; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver of the following landscape requirements, or the Applicant correcting these issues on the Final Site Plan submittal: The adjacent to residential berm requirement, the sub-canopy trees within fifteen feet of the overhead wires, and the planting of trees within twenty feet of the utility poles; 5) A Planning Commission Section 9 Waiver to permit facades with up to 61.56% asphalt shingles; 6) A City Council Variance for the paving of a portion of Joseph Dr. without curb and gutter; 7) A City Council General Appeal Variance of the minimum outside turning radius of fifty feet requirement, or plans being modified at the time of Final Site Plan submittal; 8) An additional fire hydrant being added to the plan, once the issues have been worked out with the Fire Marshal; 9) A City Council General Appeal Variance for an access road length without adequate room to turn around the largest fire truck, or plans to being modified at the time of Final Site Plan submittal; 10) A City Council General Appeal Variance of the Fire Marshal’s request that the building be no more than 175 feet of hose-laying distance from the proposed hydrant, with the hope that the plans will be modified with another hydrant at the time of Final Site Plan submittal; and 11) All the comments on the attached review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan; for the reason the plan otherwise meets the Master Plan for Land Use.
Member Gutman said that in general he supported the motion. However, he thought that the Applicant had agreed to rectify the landscaping issues listed in the fourth stipulation. Mr. Gillam said that the stipulation did not have to be part of the motion. Member Meyer agreed to remove the stipulation.
Member Gutman thought that the Applicant also agreed to correct the turning radius issue so there was no need for that stipulation either. Mr. Donnan said that they will comply with that requirement. Member Meyer removed that stipulation as well.
Member Kocan confirmed that Staff preferred to have the curb and gutter. Member Kocan would not wish to recommend this variance. Member Kocan could not support the motion unless the motion addressed the Applicant providing a sprinklered building. Member Kocan would also look for the height of the building/pitch of the roof being addressed by the motion.
The Applicant responded that he knew this site had potential. He offered to keep the road as is – chip-sealed. For landlord, tenant, and marketing reasons, he thought paving the road would be an enhancement, even without curb and gutter. He didn’t think it made sense to put 1.5 million dollars into the site and leave the road chip-sealed. He said that reducing to roof pitch to 8 or 6 would de-characterize the buildings.
Chair Cassis said that this road sends dust up in the summer. He agreed that paving the road would be an improvement.
Member Lynch said he could support the project. He wanted to ensure the motion stated that two things must be achieved: The satisfaction of the homeowners to the south, and the satisfaction of the Fire Marshal and assurance that fire safety vehicles can access the site. In other words, the motion states that the Applicant can seek variances and waivers for the other issues, but these two items must be addressed.
Member Meyer responded that he was most impressed with this Applicant that he has already made the effort to satisfy the residents. That is a key factor to him. He is already on the record stating he had original concerns about the number of variances and waivers being requested, but the fact that this Applicant has really attempted to address the bigger issues was important to him.
Member Lynch agreed with Member Meyer. He felt something very attractive would be going on this site, as long as the two issues are properly addressed.
Mr. Spencer said that the motion he provided to the Planning Commission does not totally address the Fire Marshal’s requirements. It gives the Applicant the option of going to City Council for general appeal variances to the Fire Marshal’s requirements. If it is the Planning Commission’s intention that the Applicant meet the requirements of the Fire Marshal, then the motion should be changed to remove the option of going before the City Council. Member Meyer said his intent was that the Applicant will work out the hydrant and whatever other issue the Fire Marshal had with the Staff. Member Meyer understood that if the Applicant sprinklers his building, the Fire Marshal’s concerned are allayed. Mr. Spencer agreed; if the buildings were sprinklered, it would meet his requirements for fire suppression and would eliminate his access concerns, even though there may still be a need for a City Council Waiver on the length issue.
Chair Cassis thought that the Applicant was trying to work these issues out here. They have already submitted to the idea that they will satisfy the Fire Marshal. Member Meyer asked the City Attorney what language should be used in the motion.
Mr. Gillam responded that as a practical matter, whether or not the motion contains the language conditioning approval on the variances by City Council, the Applicant still has the right to go to City Council to ask for those variances. The form of the motion before the Planning Commission would indicate that as far as the fire-related safety issues are concerned, the Applicant has the option to go to City Council and get those waivers, or they will resolve the issues on an administrative level. That was his interpretation.
Chair Cassis asked if the Applicant could submit that they would work out the issues and not go to City Council seeking variances. Mr. Gillam responded that Member Meyer could remove the language from the motion conditioning the approval on the City Council Waivers. That would mean the approval is based on the revision of the plan or resolving the issues administratively. Even if the motion doesn’t say that the Applicant can go to City Council, they still have the right to do so.
Mr. Soave said he understood.
Member Meyer said he would amend his own motion to indicate that regarding the fire-related issues, the Planning Commission’s intent is to approve the plan based on the Applicant and the Planning Department working together to meet the requirements of the Fire Marshal. Mr. Soave said he has already agreed to meet the requirements of the Fire Marshal, in some way or another.
Chair Cassis asked Mr. Gillam if there was enough information provided in this meeting to clarify the Planning Commission’s position. Mr. Gillam responded that for clarification, language should be removed from those stipulations that lead up the plans to be modified at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. Therefore, the stipulations would not suggest the Planning Commission’s recommendation for City Council variances. In lieu of the stipulations addressing the Fire Department issues, he suggested the language, "…Review and approval of revised plans by the Fire Marshal." Member Meyer and Member Gutman agreed to this replacement.
Member Kocan confirmed that the Applicant understood that they could go to City Council for an appeal. Chair Cassis said that was within their rights, but he felt the Applicant was comfortable working the issues out. Mr. Soave said they’ve already been set back three or four months. He confirmed that he could indeed go for a variance. Member Meyer said once the safety issues are cleared up the ZBA would give him his variances. Then, he would have a smooth ride with City Council on the other issues.
Member Kocan told the Applicant to have his homework done if he plans to go to City Council. The Fire Marshal will probably be required to attend the City Council meeting.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON PINEBROOK PROFESSIONAL BUILDING, SP05-21B, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER MEYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of Pinebrook Professional Building, SP05-21B, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A ZBA variance for minimum lot area; 2) A ZBA variance to encroach 13 feet into the required 40-foot front yard setback; 3) A ZBA variance to reduce the required loading/unloading area by 533 square feet; 4) A Planning Commission Section 9 Waiver to permit facades with up to 61.56% asphalt shingles; 5) A City Council Variance for the paving of a portion of Joseph Dr. without curb and gutter; 6) Review and approval of revised plans by the Fire Marshal; and 7) All the comments on the attached review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan; for the reason the plan otherwise meets the Master Plan for Land Use. Motion carried 5-2 (Yes: Cassis, Gutman, Lynch, Meyer, Pehrson; No: Avdoulos, Kocan).
Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON PINEBROOK PROFESSIONAL BUILDING, SP05-21B, STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER MEYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of Pinebrook Professional Building, SP05-21B, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to the comments on the attached review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan, for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 6-1 (Yes: Cassis, Gutman, Kocan, Lynch, Myer, Pehrson; No: Avdoulos).
Chair Cassis called for a ten minute break.
2. CHASE BANK, SP05-66A
Consideration of the request of Nudell Architects for Preliminary Site Plan and Stormwater Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 4, on Beck Road south of Pontiac Trail, in the B-3, General Business District. The subject property is approximately 1.64 acres and the Applicant is proposing a 4,062 sq. ft., one-story bank branch with four drive-through lanes.
Planner Jason Myers described the project for the Planning Commission. This is the far northwest corner of the City, on the west side of Beck Road. Years ago, Beck Road ran on the other side of the property; it now curves around the east side of the site. The site is zoned B-3 and master planned for Community Commercial. In May 2005 the neighboring Speedway was approved by the Planning Commission for a rebuild. Shoppes at the Trail is across Beck Road and is zoned B-3 and master planned for Community Commercial. Pointe Park is a residential development under construction. The city of Wixom surrounds the property to the north, west and to the south. Their land is zoned RC-2 and master planned for Multiple Family Residential to the west, and zoned B-2 and master planned for Local Commercial to the north. There is land zoned M-1 and master planned for Light Industrial further south in Wixom. There is industrial land in Novi south of this site as well. Commerce Township is across Beck Road to the north of Pontiac Trail. Further east in Novi the land is zoned RM-1 master planned for Multiple Family Residential.
There are no wetlands, woodlands or natural features on the site.
The bank’s drive-through is on the north side of the building. There is a bypass lane between the canopy of the drive-through and the building itself. This is a one-way around the back. There is parking in two places, one area is in the front. There are two full access points on the site. There are six required stacking spaces per lane.
All reviews recommended approval except for the Landscape Review. There are three issues remaining: A Planning Commission waiver is required for a lack of a berm at the stormwater detention area. There is no room for the placement of that berm. The Applicant has proposed a brick wall.
The Applicant has provided landscaping in the old right-of-way of Beck Road. The city of Wixom is allowing this Applicant to place landscaping on this property. The right-of-way has not been vacated by Wixom. They do not intend to do so, and they also have no plans to use the land. They have indicated a berm in that area would be acceptable and desirable. The width does not allow for a full six to eight foot berm. The Applicant has proposed a three to five foot berm. The Applicant seeks a waiver from the Planning Commission for this deviation. The Speedway directly to the north has a similar situation. On that plan, the Planning Commission waived the berm entirely. The residential land in Wixom already has a berm, which is part of the reason the Speedway berm was waived.
Mr. Myers showed photographs of the site. He located the berm, the Austrian Pines, and noted that the residential was not very visible. He located where the Applicant was proposing to place a heavily landscaped berm. The Planning Department supports the waiver for the smaller berm, partially because Wixom reviewed the plan and approved it for the right-of-way permit and accessibility. Wixom has jurisdiction of both Beck Road and Old Beck Road. Wixom commented that the proposed berm was acceptable and desirable.
There is an issue of a 25-foot center lane turning radii for the bypass and for the drive-through lanes. The Applicant has indicated in his response letter how he intends to meet this requirement. They have plans to modify the landscaping slightly. They have pulled the canopy back.
A Same Side Driveway Spacing Waiver is required between this site and the Speedway. Because of the site constraints, the City’s Civil Engineer has recommended that the Planning Commission grant this waiver.
Tom Moffitt from JP Morgan Chase addressed the Planning Commission. His address was given as 235 North Sheldon, Plymouth. He said they have a facility on Wixom Road that is an inline bank – part of a multi-tenant space. That site will be closed when this site opens. This site is necessary so that they have enough room for all of their full-service customers. They are happy with this site. They have made some modifications to their plan for this site – pulling the canopy back to allow parking alongside the building. This will make it easier for customers to get inside the building. They will not have to deal with the traffic from the drive-through lanes. He said a bank was a good use for this site. They are a low-impact use. This is a large site for a 4,000 square foot building. He introduced Kelly House-Seaman from Nudell Architects, and Andrew Andre from Wilcox Associates. Mr. Moffitt said that this will be a Bank One, but all Bank Ones will be changed to Chase about the third week of April.
Ms. House-Seaman, 31690 West Twelve Mile, Farmington Hills, addressed the Planning Commission. She thanked the Planning Department for their working with them on this plan. She said that they’ve also worked with Wixom. With the cross-jurisdictional issues associated with site, she felt that the plan was very workable. She said they’ve also been working with Speedway to coordinate the relocation of utilities and other issues. There is an existing septic system on the site that is currently being used by Speedway. The project will have to be coordinated when Speedway does their redevelopment and brings their sewer lines under the road.
Member Avdoulos thanked the Applicant for working with both cities. He thought this was one of the nicest layouts for a bank that has come before the Planning Commission in a long time. The canopy and drive-through areas are located nicely away from the drive. Parking is placed appropriately. There is an emergency by-pass lane. He was a bit concerned about the lane to the north, but he didn’t think the bank would have all of its stacking lanes filled at one time. He noted the drive in the back so customers can get out. The driveways are spaced nicely apart from one another. They are aligned with drives across the street. There is one waiver requested for spacing – 135 feet is proposed, and 230 feet is required. Based on the layout, Member Avdoulos thought the request made a lot of sense.
Member Avdoulos appreciated the response letter from the architectural office, especially the sketches that help clarify what the Applicant is proposing on their next submittal. He felt this site was well suited for the bank. He was in favor of the three-foot wall around the storm detention area.
Member Avdoulos asked about the berm. Mr. Myers said there are two deficiencies in the berms. One is the berm along Old Beck Road, adjacent to residential. The other berm is on Beck Road adjacent to the right-of-way, but according to the Applicant’s response letter, this issue is resolved. Landscape Consultant Larry DeBrincat further explained that the ends of the berms nearest the drives were eliminated and replaced with landscaping, but berms are required so that design will be corrected.
Member Avdoulos confirmed that the elevation is Bank One’s prototype design. Member Avdoulos thought it provided interest. There are traditional features with a hip roof, and then there is a modern element in the front. Some people are questioning the painting of brick; Member Avdoulos has seen this done in other applications. Mr. Moffitt said they have now identified a brick that meets the approval of his design group.
Member Avdoulos said that Wixom’s comments were well-taken and appropriate. He agreed with a majority of their comments.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of Chase Bank – Beck Road, SP05-66A, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) The correction of the 25-foot centerline turning radii; 2) A Planning Commission Waiver or plans being modified for the Final Site Plan for the height of berm adjacent to residential – three-to-five feet proposed, six-to-eight feet required; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver or plans being modified for the Final Site Plan for right-of-way berm in the stormwater detention area. The desire of the Planning Commission would be a three-foot high brick wall; 4) A Planning Commission Same Side Driveway Spacing Waiver for the north access drive – 135 feet proposed, 230 feet required; and 5) All of the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the design and plans presented meet the Ordinance.
Member Kocan asked that a courtesy copy of these minutes be sent to Wixom for their information. She asked whether the City was also asking for the Austrian Pine change outlined in the Wixom letter. Mr. DeBrincat responded that he did not make that landscape comment, but it would be easy enough for the Applicant to substitute another evergreen. Austrian Pines are subject to Diplodia tip blight, and tend to lose their lower branches. He assumed that is why Wixom asked them not to use that species. The pines on the existing residential berm are already Austrian Pines, so changing them on this berm would provide for variety. The Applicant agreed to make a change to his evergreens.
Member Kocan confirmed that the Applicant would not be painting the brick. Member Kocan confirmed that the seamless metal roof complies with the Ordinance.
Member Kocan asked about the sidewalk on the north side of the property. It appears there is a pathway that goes to a "v" and then it comes back. She asked if it is anticipated that this area will be used for employee or customer parking. Mr. Moffitt said those spaces would probably be used for customers. Member Kocan said she spoke with the Planning Department Staff earlier in the day and discussed that the landscape design in this area is very nice, and that placing a walk through the area would diminish the look. Mr. Myers said that a shortcut in that area may help minimally with pedestrian circulation, but it would also add impervious surface and would reduce the amount of landscaping. He did not think this was a large concern. There is a rounding at the end – it is not two linear sidewalks meeting at a point. He did not know if the Applicant was planning to berm the area a bit to reduce the chances of the landscape being trampled. Member Kocan said it made for a more aesthetic building when more landscape is planted, especially for buildings like banks with ample impervious surface.
Member Kocan said that Wixom asked the Applicant to look at 14-foot high lights because of the adjacency to residential. This would be for the west side of the building. The City’s Ordinance allows for 25 feet. She said it was important that the Applicant meet the Ordinance, and provide downward lighting.
Member Kocan asked about the accel and decel lanes. Mr. Myers responded that he spoke with Alex Rucinsky, the City’s traffic consultant, and he said that the lanes meet City standards. He saw no problem with the design.
Member Kocan asked if the sewer feed was being shared. Civil Engineer Ben Croy responded that there is a shared sewer, but it is Novi’s sewer system. It crosses Beck Road in one location and Speedway is going to bring it across, so this site will also tap into that lead.
Chair Cassis said that the bank design was so nice because the Applicant was starting off with the right amount of land. He asked if there was a City of Novi sign on any of the corners. Planner Tim Schmitt said he did not think there was a City of Novi sign at this corner, largely because the road right-of-way is not controlled by Novi, and because the curve goes back into Wixom. A Novi sign is at Providence at Beck Road and I-96.
Chair Cassis thought that he could ask this Applicant to add a Novi sign. The Applicant responded that the City could go for it. Mr. Schmitt added that the City has recently designed a new City Sign standard that will hopefully be unveiled in the near future. Mr. Schmitt said the City would work with the Applicant to work the details out.
Chair Cassis thought the curve lent itself for sign placement. Chair Cassis said it would complement the Applicant’s citizenship and gives placement of this bank in the City of Novi.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON CHASE BANK, SP05-66A, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND SECONDED BY MEMBER PEHRSON:
In the matter of Chase Bank – Beck Road, SP05-66A, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) The correction of the 25-foot centerline turning radii; 2) A Planning Commission Waiver or plans being modified for the Final Site Plan for the height of berm adjacent to residential – three-to-five feet proposed, six-to-eight feet required; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver or plans being modified for the Final Site Plan for right-of-way berm in the stormwater detention area. The desire of the Planning Commission would be a three-foot high brick wall; 4) A Planning Commission Same Side Driveway Spacing Waiver for the north access drive – 135 feet proposed, 230 feet required; and 5) All of the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the design and plans presented meet the Ordinance. Motion carried 7-0.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON CHASE BANK, SP05-66A, STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND MEMBER PEHRSON:
In the matter of Chase Bank – Beck Road, Site Plan 05-66A, motion to approve the Storm Water Management Plan subject to all of the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters, for the reason that it meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 7-0.
3. APPROVAL OF THE FEBRUARY 22, 2006 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
The Planning Commission turned in their corrections for incorporation into the minutes.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Meyer:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON FEBRUARY 22, 2006 APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER MEYER:
Motion to approve the minutes of February 22, 2006 as amended. Motion carried 7-0.
4. APPROVAL OF THE FEBRUARY 22, 2006 STUDY SESSION MINUTES
The Planning Commission turned in their corrections for incorporation into the minutes. Member Gutman added that he felt the session was very productive and looked forward to tackling the many items they discussed. Member Avdoulos said he had some research information to share with the Implementation Committee regarding gated communities.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON FEBRUARY 22, 2006 APPROVAL OF THE STUDY SESSION MINUTES MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
Motion to approve the Study Session minutes of February 22, 2006 as amended. Motion carried 7-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
There were no Matters for Discussion.
Member Kocan said that perhaps the Planning Review chart should also describe the Intent of the Ordinance, if in fact it is very specific and would be of benefit to the Planning Commission members in their review of a site plan.
Member Kocan noted that the Rules Committee has not met yet this year, and she said that as last year’s Chair, she was calling a meeting. The other Rules Committee members are Chair Cassis and Member Avdoulos.
No one from the Audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Meyer:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at or about 11:20 p.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 03/27/06 IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE MEETING 6:30 PM
TUE 03/28/06 MASTER PLAN & ZONING COMMITTEE MEETING 6:30 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
MON 05/22/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 05/24/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 05/29/06 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON 06/05/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 06/06/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 06/14/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 06/19/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 06/28/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
TUE 07/04/06 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, March 30, 2006 Signature on File
Date Approved: April 5, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date