View Agenda for this meeting
View Action Summary for this meeting

WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2006 7:30 P.M.
45175 W. TEN MILE, NOVI, MI 48375
(248) 347-0475


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


Present: Members John Avdoulos, Victor Cassis, Lynn Kocan, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Wayne Wrobel

Absent: Andrew Gutman (excused), David Lipski (excused)

Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Director of Planning; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Jason Myers, Planner; Mark Spencer, Planner; Ben Croy, Engineer; Doris Hill, Woodland and Landscape Consultant; David Gillam, City Attorney


The meeting attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance.


Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:


Motion to approve the Agenda of May 10, 2006. Motion carried 7-0.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


There was no correspondence to share.


Member Kocan said that the Rules Committee met and new changes to the By-laws will be coming to the Planning Commission for consideration. The Implementation Committee will be bringing forward stacking requirements and Landscape opacity requirements. Member Meyer said that the Environmental Committee will meet on May 15, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the sidewalks.


Director of Planning Barbara McBeth said that City Council approved the 2006-07 budget. Modifications were made to the Planning Commission budget lines.


There was no Consent Agenda.



The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Blair Bowman, for a recommendation to City Council for rezoning of property in Section 10, east of Dixon Road, north of Twelve Mile, from R-A, Residential Acreage District, to RM-1, Low Density, Low-Rise Multiple-family Residential District, with a Planned Rezoning Overlay. The subject property is 25.51 acres.

Planner Tim Schmitt described the property for the Planning Commission. There are six parcels located on the east side of Dixon Road between Twelve Mile and 12½ Mile that comprise this request. To the east is Carlton Forest condominiums. To the west are Liberty Park single family homes. The second phase of the multiple family homes in Liberty Park is to the southwest. There are currently six single family homes on the subject property.

The property is master planned for single family residential, as are the properties to the south and north. The Dixon Road corridor is master planned for 1.65 dwelling units per acre. Carlton Forest is master planned for Multiple Family Residential with the PD-1 Option, with 6.5 dwelling units per acre. Liberty Park, a part of the Sandstone Consent Judgment, is permitted 15 dwelling units per acre, with no single acre exceeding 24 units per acre.

The subject property and those to the west and north are zoned R-A, Residential Acreage. To the southwest is R-1 zoned property. A rezoning request came forward on that land for R-4 and was denied by City Council last year. To the south and east are OS-1 zoned properties (Stoneridge Office). Directly east is RM-1, low density Multiple Family Residential.

There are no regulated wetlands. There is a substantial amount of medium cover woodlands. The woodlands extend north beyond this site’s boundary, past 12½ Mile.

Mr. Schmitt discussed some pictures that were provided to the Planning Commission. He said that one picture appeared to have captured an image of a wetland.

The Applicant’s request is for a rezoning to RM-1, low-rise, low density, Multiple Family Residential. This rezoning was submitted in conjunction with a Planned Rezoning Overlay. The Applicant’s plan includes a Single Family Residential subdivision with 107 homes. The lots are 6,250 square feet. The setbacks are consistent with Liberty Park’s Single Family Residential.

There are several issues that need to be resolved. The rezoning is not recommended by the Planning Department because it is not in compliance with the Master Plan for Land Use. This rezoning would be contrary to City Council policy, both in terms of goals that have been set and with their decision to deny the rezoning request for the parcel just south of this property.

The Traffic Review provided trip generation information for this request. The Traffic Consultant recommends that this Applicant pave Dixon Road south to Twelve Mile, based on the amount of traffic this plan would generate. The Planning Commission may wish to discuss this point as part of the PRO approval process; at this time the Applicant has not proposed to pave the road.

The Engineering Review indicates that while there is some utility flux at the north end of the City, there is no major concern with respect to this project. The system was upgraded in this area to accommodate the Liberty Park development.

The PRO issues include the following. No wetland plan has been submitted for review, as it is not required at the Concept Plan level of the PRO. The Applicant is seeking a blanket woodland waiver for the site so that all trees can be removed and not replaced. Dixon Road is considered a natural beauty road, so the Planning Commission might wish to discuss this point in their review. The Landscape Review performed by Doris Hill recommends denial due to the change in character of the natural beauty road. There are other items that should be addressed. The Applicant has not proposed the required berms on three sides of this development. Grading information relating to the natural beauty road must be provided if this plan progresses.

The Traffic Review would recommend approval subject to the road being paved. There are other minor issues that must be addressed at the time of Preliminary Site Plan submittal.

The Engineering Review has not provided a recommendation. Their Preliminary Site Plan review is for engineering feasibility; this is a Concept Plan. The review provides general comments only.

The Fire Department Review recommends denial because of the building separation measurements. This is the same concern Fire Marshal Evans voiced about Liberty Park. The houses are too close together. He recommends that the separation be increased to be a minimum of thirty feet and the buildings should be sprinklered.

This subdivision is somewhat different from what typically is seen in Novi. The R-4 lot is 10,000 square feet with eighty feet of frontage. The Applicant is requesting RM-1 zoning, which would allow him to build at the R-4 standards.

The major considerations and restrictions of the PRO include the Applicant providing a list of any deviations or modifications from the Ordinance. The Applicant must also provide an explanation of the public benefit provided to the City of Novi. The Applicant has listed six public benefits, the one of most tangible benefit is the Applicant’s offer of $250,000 to the Novi Parks Department for active parkland programming. At this time, the specifics of this donation have not been determined. There is a letter from Randy Auler, Director of Parks and Recreation and Forestry, stating his understanding of this request.

Other public benefits include removing the existing residents from the current condition and cleaning up the site and being used as a model for clean-up sites in the future. The Applicant states he is providing a lower density than the immediately adjacent developments. The development will otherwise comply with the Ordinance.

The Planning Department notes that the review of surrounding densities requires the use of "blended density" counts. This project is exactly as dense as the single family area of Liberty Park.

Mr. Schmitt said that there is a natural features deviation. Although no wetland information has been considered, the Applicant is also requesting a blanket waiver from the Wetland Ordinance and from mitigating the site. Again, there is a request for a blanket woodland waiver.

The Applicant’s lot size is a deviation from 10,000 square feet, by 3,750 square feet. The lot width should be a minimum of eighty feet; the Applicant is requesting a deviation of thirty feet. The setbacks would typically be thirty feet in the front yard; the Applicant is requesting twenty feet. The rear yard is required to be 35 feet; the Applicant is requesting thirty feet. The minimum side yard setback is ten feet, with an aggregate of 25 feet; the Applicant is requesting five feet, with an aggregate of ten feet. The maximum lot coverage in residential districts is 25%; the Applicant is requesting 45% lot coverage.

There is an issue with reverse lot frontage. The lots are technically double-fronted; it is a through lot requiring a minimum depth requirement of 140 feet, though the Applicant is proposing 125 feet deep. Stub streets would be required to neighboring properties, specifically to the north and to the south; no stubs are proposed nor did the Applicant provide a location for them.

Additional woodland and wetland reviews are necessary. The scope of those issues are not known at this time, which is acceptable as this is a conceptual review. The Applicant has met the submittal requirements. The Planning Commission should discuss the Natural Beauty Road to determine their position; the language of the Ordinance is "may" not "shall" so improvements to Dixon Road should be a talking point. The Applicant is proposing standard landscape treatment. At this time the Planning Department does not know what vegetation, if any, will be left along Dixon Road.

Mr. Schmitt said that the Applicant has requested a waiver for soil erosion and site plan related fees. This is a vague statement and the Planning Department does not understand what the actual request is for. Is it just for the remediation or is it for the overall review of the project? The Planning Department requests additional information so that it understands the full scope of this request before this plan goes to City Council. The request could be a fairly substantial number.

The Applicant is also asking for the use of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. In Michigan, this Authority gives the Applicant access to two tax credits. First, there is a Single Business Tax (SBT) credit, which is used when jobs are created. Second, it gives the Applicant access to Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The SBT credit is not being requested. There are no jobs being proposed. This is purely a residential project. In and of itself, this is somewhat unique. It is fairly rare to have a purely residential project seek the use of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Under the TIF, additional tax revenue is captured. If the base line property tax is $100.00, and the improvements made to the site increase that value to $1,000.00, the TIF captures the additional $900.00 to be used toward improvements to the property. In this case, it would be used to pay for the clean-up costs. The Applicant is only asking for 50% of the clean-up costs to be recovered, which is also unique. This is a fairly small project, but this request is still unique.

At this time the City does not have a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority so the Applicant is requesting that Novi allow him to pursue this through the Oakland Country Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. This is not a lengthy process. There are specific items that must be accomplished. City Council would have to make a policy decision on this request. The Brownfield Redevelopment Authority would pay for 50% of the arsenic remediation. Part of this site was historically used as an orchard. The Applicant has provided an executive summary of this Phase I Environmental Study that shows there is arsenic contamination throughout the site. The site is not completely contaminated. About 40-70% of the site is contaminated – roughly two-thirds of the property. The level of arsenic is beyond what the MDEQ established as the residential standard.

The TIF would pay for the clean-up costs, and in the future when the costs have been paid off the TIF would cease to exist, and Novi would again capture the full taxes on this property. At this point the Applicant has provided a financial summary for the Planning Commission to review. The Planning Department and the Finance Department have not reviewed this information. They are hypothetical numbers. The clean-up costs, estimated at roughly 1.8 million dollars, have been a consistent number provided by the Applicant. Mr. Schmitt was fairly confident in saying that this number would not change much. Their TIF capture would then be about $900,000. In terms of an overall timeframe, the Applicant proposes a 1.5 year payoff. That seems extraordinarily quick to the Planning Department, and these numbers would have to be substantiated. Until the Planning Commission and City Council offer a policy determination on this matter, the Planning Department will probably not do a thorough analysis of this information. He suggested that the Planning Commission can take the numbers proposed for what they are worth.

Applicant Blair Bowman addressed the Planning Commission on behalf of Servman LLC. Mr. Bowman thought that the Planning Commission had a good idea of what this project entailed. He wished to emphasize that a clean-up of a site is important to a community. What he is proposing to do is unprecedented – offering to pay 50% - and he felt this clean-up should be a major concern to the City and public. Steve Magnan of Atwell Hicks and Doug McDowell of McDowell Associates (a contamination expert) were at the meeting as well.

Mr. Bowman said that at this stage this is a PRO, a mechanism that lends itself to such a unique project. Their submittal is conceptual and hopefully would pave the way to an agreement with the City. One portion of that agreement would be that if the site is to be cleaned up the vegetation must be removed from the site. He has not provided wetland or woodland information because if an agreement can be reached that the site is going to be cleaned up in order to produce a marketable site, the clean-up should be worthy enough that the removal of vegetation should be acceptable. He cited the Liberty Park project as one where the entire developable site was cleared, from limit to limit. The levels of contamination on this site exceed what is allowed for human habitation. That level has been set by the federal government and the State of Michigan. Mr. Bowman said any City should be concerned when there is a contaminated site within its boundaries. In this case there are longstanding residents and taxpayers that are affected by it. There are surrounding properties that are affected by this site, and will continue to be affected because now that the site has been identified as contaminated it must be cleaned up.

Mr. Bowman said this is a practical reality and they are putting their dollars where their mouths are.

Mr. Bowman said there was emphasis placed on the fact that this request is for a rezoning to RM-1. The City must be consistent in its review – it must be looked at as RM-1 with the PRO. The PRO would control the development of the property and restrict it from being developed as an RM-1 property. It would be developed as a Single Family Residential project. This is somewhat consistent with what the City Council’s goals have been. Mr. Bowman has heard loud and clear that Multiple Family Residential was not desired. This development is not the same as Liberty Park. Proposed are fifty-foot wide lots versus 45-foot lots. The five feet are a major difference when considering building setbacks, deck placements, utility extensions, etc. The depth is proposed at 125 feet. It is consistent with but less dense than the Single Family Residential portion of Liberty Park.

Mr. Bowman said that these requests for waivers are somewhat unprecedented, but the City saw fit to deal with the situation across the street in exactly the same fashion. He said he could not stress that enough. The City did what it needed to do.

Mr. Bowman said his position on the natural beauty designation is that he has not proposed to pave Dixon Road. This is a clear example of differentiating Ordinance provisions competing with each other. They would like to keep the character of that road. To the extent that they can work with the natural features along Dixon Road, they will do so. It may not be practical, with a minimum of 18 inches of dirt needing to be removed – 54 inches in some areas along Dixon Road. They agree to meet the Ordinance’s intent and have proposed a buffer area and landscape along the road. They will meet the street tree planting. They will require each home to provide a landscaping package. The site will be extensively landscaped upon completion.

Mr. Bowman said they are requesting a waiver from those fees that don’t apply, such as soil erosion. This Brownfield Redevelopment will be administered through the County and performed by professionals. Those costs should not be calculated using the normal process, which would exacerbate the costs. Woodland and wetland review fees should also not apply.

Mr. Bowman has had meetings with the County, and he said that the City has received correspondence on the matter. This is a way for the City to use the County’s resources without having to establish an authority of its own.

Mr. Bowman felt that Mr. Schmitt’s discussion of the Master Plan was very narrow in its scope. He agreed that the Master Plan density for the site is 1.65 units. He said that for a mile to the west, and for a half-mile to the east, to the northeast and beyond that, there are dense commercial/office and major residential projects. This forty acre block stands alone. To the northeast is the closest density, at 3.3. The surrounding density is 6.5 and 15. Proceeding over to Novi Road are densities of 7 units to 12 units. This property at 4.4 units per acre and cleaned up would be consistent with the surrounding uses and from a community benefit standpoint. He suggested this is a reasonable and responsible decision.

Steve Magnan from Atwell Hicks spoke to the Planning Commission. He said that the plan does not include north or south entries. He said there could be a north entrance if it is needed. That site however, has a large wetland and is not conducive for development. That land might only be limited to being an access point into this site. The south site he thought was a conservation easement, so the logical southerly access would be near unit 43 and he conceded that they might be able to do that.

The berms are already established on the Carlton Forest property so the east boundary of this site wouldn’t need a berm. To the north and south, the north is a natural feature so there isn’t much reasoning in placing a berm for isolation purposes. This berm could affect usable space in those homes’ back yards. There is a conservation easement on the south side so it wouldn’t be necessary. He said he could put a small berm in the other southerly area, but it would be restrictive to those homes.

Mr. Bowman said that the NFPA Rule 1141 identifies the ten-foot separation between buildings as a thirty-foot separation, and is only a guideline. There are developments within Novi, e.g., Briarwood, where the separation is ten feet. Andes Hills has a ten-foot separation. Liberty Park is another. He was just seeking the same approval level from the Fire Marshal as these other sites have received.

Doug McDowell of McDowell Associates performed the environmental clean up review on the site. The entire site and been gridded and profiled. This was necessary to create a Brownfield plan and get a cost estimate. Mr. McDowell showed a 1940 picture of the site wherein the orchard trees could be seen. He said that this property was similar to the Sandstone property. He worked for them in their assessment of the site and developed an appropriate plan for the necessary clean-up in this region. Their remedial estimate for this property is based on what they found on the Sandstone property.

Mr. McDowell said that the pesticide that is found in historic orchards is residual lead arsenic pesticide. This produce was applied until the late 1940s at which time DDT was developed. The arsenic tends to stick to soil and it does not migrate very far but it does migrate vertically. It does not degrade. Depending on the soil content, the arsenic seeps to varying depths. A clay soil will be contaminated about 18 inches deep. In Sandstone it went as deep as six to seven feet. This parcel’s deepest contamination is four to five feet. He calculated a clean-up volume and that is what was used on the clean-up estimate.

Mr. McDowell understood that the trees along the natural beauty road were hoped to be saved. When an orchard is cleaned up, all contaminated soil must be removed. The contamination on this site reaches the roadway. These trees are at risk. The soil would have to be removed up through the brace of the tree. In effect, the trees would not survive because some of their root structure would be removed. Preservation of the trees along Dixon should not be considered technically feasible. It is not a realistic expectation. He added that new soil will have to be added to the site to achieve the appropriate grade.

Mr. McDowell showed the grid created for this site. The red indicated the deepest pockets of five feet of contamination. The shallowest contamination is 18 inches, shown in light purple. Clean-up quantities are estimated using straight lines to simplify the math. In reality, the soil is tested throughout the clean-up process and the contamination depths may alter. Additionally, the deep pockets will be sloped to reduce the possibility of a hazardous situation.

Mr. McDowell said that Northville Township just set up a Brownfield Authority to assist with their State Hospital site. These authorities have been in use in Michigan for a number of years. He encouraged Novi to set up an authority as well. It gives a municipality the ability to target contaminated land and encourage redevelopment. There are a number of contaminated properties in Novi, Mr. McDowell said.

Mr. Bowman concluded that the County is a resource with expertise that is willing to help with brownfield remediation. He thought it was important to this community that this authority be used, and for them to consider what will happen to this or other properties if the authority isn’t used. This is a significant community benefit. They will clean to the lot lines. They will ensure that this site is clean.

Member Wrobel read the Public Hearing correspondence into the record:

41 Carlton Forest Residents (names on file): Jointly signed petition opposing the rezoning request because the land was zoned R-A and they bought their homes under that assumption. The scenic natural setting would be destroyed and contrary to the expectations of Novi residents. The Applicant has a disregard for Ordinance standards regarding tree replacement, property line setbacks, perimeter site barriers, wetlands, etc. The $250,000 donation to the Parks Department sends the message to others that variances to the Ordinance can be bought. They felt that it would be acceptable to build one-acre lot homes on this site, consistent with the current zoning.

Scott Watson, 28573 Carlton Way: Objected to the density increase and felt the greenbelt should be preserved.

Michael Staebling, 28389 Carlton Way: Objected because there are 297 condos for sale already in Novi, and neighboring Charneth Fen sits empty.

Richard Sieradzki, 28461 Carlton Way: Objected because of traffic congestion and loss of natural features reasons. Property values will be negatively affected.

Yoshie Kikuchi, 28422 Carlton Way: Disapproved of any waivers or variances to the rules that protect the wetlands and forests. Sent in two statements.

Brian Brazda, 28457 Carlton Way: Urged the City to leave the natural beauty of this area intact. Protect the wetlands.

The Bruder Family, 195 Pleasant Cove: Objected for density reasons. The natural features are beautiful and large lots would be well-received in this area of Novi. They objected to the change in zoning.

Sainath Yadati, Carlton Forest: Disagreed with relaxing City rules that protect the natural features.

Vera Lewis, 28430 Carlton Way: Objected because of the loss of the natural features.

Alicia Times, 28376 Carlton Way: Objected and did not endorse the City issuing waivers or variances to the natural features Ordinances.

Shireen Saski, 28338 Carlton Way: Objected to waivers and variances being granted on natural features Ordinances. Would approve of Single Family Residential but through traditional means.

Kannan Venkatesh, 28326 Carlton Way: Objected and worried about his property values.

Patrick Noonan, 28456 Carlton Way: Supported the preservation of natural features.

Roger Kim, 28484 Carlton Way: Objected to project affecting the wetlands.

John and Helen Atwell, 28372 Carlton Way: Objected to relaxing natural features Ordinances.

Jong Park, 28431 Carlton Way: Objected to affecting the natural features and the scenic drive.

Pat Longwell, 28530 Carlton Way: Objected to relaxing the natural features Ordinances.

Michael Morelli, 28392 Carlton Way Drive: Objected to lifting the restrictions on this site.

Hugh McVeigh, 27070 Taft: Approved of the environmental clean-up, improved Novi tax base and appreciated the Parks donation.

Barry Ridenour, 28200 Dixon Road: Approved because it will increase the City’s tax base.

Ramon Garcia, 28250 Dixon Road: Approved because then everyone wins.

Anne Marie Bitonti Trust Trustee, 28000 Dixon Road: Approved of request because it was similar to the easterly and westerly sites.

Ronald Baer, 44000 West 12½ Mile: Approved of project.

William Osborn, 28060 Dixon: Approved because of its consistency with the area.

Josephine Leone, 28180 Dixon: Approved of site plan for financial and aesthetic reasons.

Josif and Irene Arpasi, 28300 Meadowbrook: Approved because the plan was similar to the area development and because the clean-up will be beneficial to the environment.

Richard Katterman, 46090 West Park: Approved and was one of the property owners. The plan would address health and safety matters.

Violette Tuck, 28300 Dixon: Long time resident and owner of one of the sites. Encouraged the approval of the plan, which is less dense than the other plans in the area. She did not want to be saddled with the clean-up effort on her own. Cleaning the contamination is a community benefit.

Polly Dodson, 28200 Dixon Road: Approved of plan and was one of the site owners. Would like the contamination cleaned up and thought this project will add to the City’s tax base.

Chair Cassis opened the floor for public comment.

Ray Garcia, 28250 Dixon: One of the property owners. Said that his Master Plan density was reduced to one-acre lots when the density increased for the Sandstone Consent Judgment – the future Liberty Park site. Approved of plan because the remediation would not be paid for by the City, the clean-up will increase the value of the land, the tax base will improve, the property owners will benefit, the neighboring homes won’t become contaminated and the clean-up will also address the dead and dying trees on the site.

Wayne Ridenour, 28300 Dixon: One of the property owners. Explained that they have been working on the contamination issue since they found out about the problem. If this project does not go through his family will be forced to correct the problem on their own.

Al Pelatto, Carlton Forest: Represented himself and the property owners of Carlton Forest. He asked if a precedent has been set with the approval of Liberty Park that developers can get automatic variances to the Ordinance, as far as density goes. Is that what Sandstone has done to the City? He was confused over the use of the terms, Single Family Residential, condominiums, Multiple Family Residential, etc. The site clean-up will be funded by the City or County taxpayers. What happens if nothing is done? The arsenic doesn’t migrate. The vegetation is growing. Is this really a health threat to the community? Carlton Forest homeowners purchased their homes based on the Master Plan stating this property would be Single Family Residential on one-acre lots. They did not feel variances and waivers were appropriate for the sole purpose of increasing the tax base. Isn’t the intent of the Master Plan to manage and balance the development in the community? They feel badly for these homeowners, whose sites are contaminated, but to benefit them is no reason to go through and just allow this proposal to circumvent a lot of the City Ordinances. These homeowners are anxious to see how this Planning Commission will vote. Will they vote for developers and homeowners to have a chance to make money, or will they vote for the City Ordinances? What do they value?

Matthew Quinn, 21995 Meridian: Attorney representing the Ridenours and the Leones. The development of the land was expected to be larger lots in this area of the City. Carlton Forest began as R-A but is now Multiple Family Residential. Everyone on Dixon Road objected to Carlton Forest. The land in this area of Novi was rich, and therefore the orchards came. Arsenic came along and it helped the sale of fruits and the economy of Novi. Unbeknownst to the new homeowners on this land, the soil is now contaminated. They now have the opportunity to sell their land and benefit. Those along Dixon Road, the City, and the community will benefit from this clean-up. If these contaminated orchards go fallow, the arsenic will travel in the air and can be a harmful substance if inhaled. Who plays outside? Younger people and walkers. If these properties aren’t cleaned up as proposed, the sites will not be cleaned up and the taxes will not be paid. This property will come back to the City and ultimately the City will have to pay 100% of the clean-up costs. This developer has offered to pay 50% of the clean-up costs. Without a clean-up, the brownfield will remain on this site and the taxes will remain as is. After the payback of using the brownfield authority, which is expected to be at an accelerated pace of 1.5 years, or two or three years, the City then gets 100% of all of the taxes produced on this property. It is a win for the City. It is a win for the Dixon Road residents. It’s a win for Mr. Bowman, though not as big as he probably originally anticipated. It is a win for the surrounding community. He said that the request does require one to make a deviation from the zoning and master planning, but will the proposed end result outweigh the prospect of nothing happening to this site?

Rick Katterman, 28480 Dixon Road: Owner of the northernmost property. Concerned with description of the natural beauty road; from his residence, this is not the case. There used to be a park across the street. He has learned that a park is not always a park – the City can take it away. There is currently a park across 12½ Mile, along that natural beauty road. That could change too. He said he paid for the infrastructure to be upgraded to support the Sandstone project. There is higher density on both sides of this development. And some don’t want this to occur between these two higher density developments? He hoped no one was asking him to support the Sandstone development, but not get the same benefit as them. He’s been paying taxes to live across from a park, which got the rights for a high density development making use of infrastructure he paid for. He said there were no wetlands on his property. The "puddle" identified in a picture is his lawn. He understood that subjectively, the Carlton Forest residents do no like this idea; but they live in high density Multiple Family Residential. Why can’t he do the same with his land?

Joseph Arpasi, 28300 Meadowbrook Road: He owns 4.8 acres of the subject site. He was redecorating the home on his site when he learned of Mr. Bowman’s proposal for this assemblage. He will not move into this home because of the arsenic. He suggested that Carlton Forest residents could buy his land if they want a park.

Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing. He called for a ten minute break.

Member Avdoulos said that the Planning Commission is charged with making a recommendation to City Council on the Planned Rezoning Overlay. It would be City Council’s call on using a Brownfield Authority. Member Avdoulos reviewed this plan at the Master Plan and Zoning Committee level. Those members thought the project was interesting, though they made no recommendation for the Planning Commission.

Member Avdoulos felt that Mr. Bowman was sincere in his efforts. As an architect, Member Avdoulos has been working with something called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which is environmentally conscious design. Also, he is aware of Greenbuild, which is using recycled products within a project, using friendly paint and products, etc. Member Avdoulos was not opposed to the use of a Brownfield Authority.

Member Avdoulos said that this Applicant is seeking a greater density than its zoning or Master Plan designation. Previously, the landowner to the south came before the Planning Commission to ask for a higher density of 3.3 units per acre. The Master Plan and Zoning Committee agreed to recommend the request, even with the current R-A zoning (.8 density) and Master Plan designation (1.65 density). The Planning Commission also agreed to recommend the request to City Council, because the increase in density was not at a ridiculous scale, and because the project would tie in with what exists already. Member Avdoulos did not take the density at Liberty Park into consideration because that is a Consent Judgment.

Mr. Schmitt suggested that the Planning Commission could now increase the density found on the Master Plan for the Liberty Park site; the City is now aware of what is being built there. The density of the Single Family Residential is 4.4. The density of the Multiple Family Residential is 7-something. The zoning on the property would not be changed.

Member Avdoulos said that the Planning Commission looks at the Master Plan as a guide. Engineering and services as well as the density are looked at. Even though the Planning Commission recommended the southerly site for 3.3 density, City Council denied the request. That was an indication to him that City Council wanted to keep within the guise of the Master Plan and not allow for zoning beyond what is shown. Now this Applicant is requesting RM-1 for the use of its density. The R-4 zoning criteria would be used for setbacks and envelopes if the project is to be developed as a Single Family Residential site.

Member Avdoulos said that the minimum lot size for R-4 is 10,000 sf, but what the Applicant is proposing is an average of 6,250 square-foot lots. That is about a deviation of one-third. The minimum lot width should be eighty feet; the Applicant is proposing fifty feet. The setbacks are shown to be less than what is required. The maximum lot coverage is 25%; the Applicant may be proposing 45%. That is a delta of 20% more lot coverage. There is also the issue of the reverse lot frontage depth. Those lots are short by fifteen feet. There are street stub issues.

Member Avdoulos said that this results in a request for higher density with R-4 requirements that aren’t even being met. He had an issue with this. He did not have an issue with a site being contaminated. He did not have an issue with cleaning the site. He did not want that to be used as leverage for these variances. He didn’t want the $250,000 Parks donation to translate into this developer squeezing as many units as possible onto the site.

Member Avdoulos said that with a Planned Rezoning Overlay, the Planning Commission will deviate from setbacks and certain requirements found on the Schedule of Regulations, as long as the property maintains the density. The setbacks can be reduced, but the Applicant should provide open space. That is where the City and developer start benefiting. Member Avdoulos sees this project as the developer stripping the site. Member Avdoulos felt that easements may be necessary between this site and its neighbors. Can this be a successful project by removing the contamination? Can this project be interesting or will it be a grid of properties and that’s it? He understands what was done across the street, but again, that is a Consent Judgment. Some of the other properties named with similar characteristics were also Consent Judgments and agreements, all out of the control of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission has the parameters and then they try to review the plan against the Ordinance as closely as possible. These Consent Judgments may dictate otherwise, and the Planning Commission can not do much about that.

Member Avdoulos was confident in McDowell and Associates’ qualifications. He asked Doris Hill, Woodland Consultant, about whether any area of the property and its characteristics could be preserved. Ms. Hill said that she was concerned about the sugar maples along Dixon Road. She said they were nice trees for their size and age, though some had structural defects. There are ways to dig soil out by hand from the root systems of the trees. She was not sure if this was feasible with the age of these trees. She would like to preserve what is on the site. She said that with this site being exempt from the Woodland Ordinance, as they have requested, there is no mechanism in place to preserve or recreate the natural beauty road. On the north side of the property there is a pretty nice wood and there is a wetland offsite. There are nice hardwoods and old growth trees. It would be nice if the north edge could be preserved. She was not sure what was slated for the parcel north of this site, but her concern was a proposal will come in, and if a berm is not required on this property, it will be required on that property. It would be more valuable to save the trees on the northerly parcel. This parcel should place the berm.

Ms. Hill said the site is degraded due to the past agricultural uses. She saw a lot of old pear trees on site. There is a hedgerow of black cherry trees running along the east side of the parcels. They are about 75-100 years old. When cherry trees get that old, they start to lose their structure. There are small pockets of emergent woodlands. There are a lot of areas of buckthorn and honeysuckle. Both are invasive species. There is a nice stand of aspen trees along the edge of the woods. From a woodland perspective, she would concentrate on the hardwoods to the north and if possible, saving or recreating the vegetation along the Dixon Road frontage.

Member Avdoulos had the same concern. He thought that the package on this request was well done by both the Planning Department and the Applicant. There was a lot of information to review. The Applicant’s request to waive the Woodland Ordinance does not provide the Planning Commission with the ability to look at the project and discuss what can be done. His concern was this starts a precedent where every piece of property with some contamination comes in with a request to waive the Woodland Ordinance.

Member Avdoulos was familiar with using the Brownfield Authority on commercial or office properties, where the benefit of jobs comes with the development. In this case, the benefit goes to the property owners, the developer, but it does not create new jobs. He was not taking the position of preventing these people from creating an authority, but he did not feel as though what is being presented can be recommended in a positive light because of the many restrictions from which the Applicant is seeking relief. Member Avdoulos did not even know if the soils engineer has conversed with the City about salvaging possibilities. Typically, the consultants meet amongst themselves to iron out the difficulties. Then, the Planning Commission knows that everyone is on the same page.

Member Avdoulos thought that this proposal requested a lot of deviations, just on the PRO level. City Council will have to decide on the effects of the brownfield, how to do it, how to pay for it, all the money aspects. There are issues that concern the Planning Department, Woodland Consultant, Landscaping, Traffic Consultant (Dixon Road not being able to support this traffic), Fire Department (distance between buildings and other factors). For Member Avdoulos, the underlying factor is that he would like to help the developer and the landowners with this project, but not at this density level, not with this layout as presented. He did not have a comfort level. He thought that the Woodland Consultant and Landscape Architect should be a little bit more engaged in the process. He is not in favor of waiving the Woodland Ordinance for this project.

Member Pehrson asked City Attorney David Gillam about what would have to be done about easements with the adjacent properties if the remediation does go into the other sites. Mr. Gillam responded that it would be up to the Applicant or his contractor to obtain any necessary easements to be able to move onto those adjacent properties. He suspected that the adjacent property owners would want to participate, given that the arsenic contamination is planned for removal.

Member Pehrson asked when these easements should be put in place. The City doesn’t want to get to the end of the game and find out that the neighbor doesn’t want to play nice. Mr. Gillam responded that it has been stated that a straight drop isn’t wanted at the property lines. Bottom line though, if that’s the way it has to be done, then that is the way it has to be done. If the adjacent owners don’t want others on their property for the purpose of establishing a level grade, then they can’t be forced to let them onsite. Obviously, the easements should be in place as early as possible. The scope of the work to be done would be more evident. The City is not in a place to require those easements. Member Pehrson asked whether they could be made part of the PRO. Mr. Gillam suggested that they could. If the condition can’t be met, then the City could deal with that at a later time. He would expect that the easements could be obtained.

Mr. Schmitt added that when there is a grading issue, the Applicant is informed that he needs an offsite grading easement, and this needs to be in place before the plans are stamped. Typically, the easements are seen at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, so that the City knows that the two sides are playing nice. If the easement cannot be procured, there would be ways to work around it – trucking dirt in and out of a site is extremely common, whether it is contaminated or not. It happens on a regular basis.

Member Pehrson asked about the scenic drive. Mr. Schmitt responded that at this time he knows of nothing associated with the remediation, but it is a public road so the City would receive Act 51 dollars for it. He was not aware of any restrictions. The scenic drive is a local enactment. It is part of the Ordinance, outside of the Zoning Ordinance. As part of a public hearing, the City Council makes this designation. The Planning Department would look into any other State requirements that may or may not be on that road, but to Mr. Schmitt’s knowledge, there are no other requirements.

Member Pehrson asked what the City’s responsibility would be if the less-than-thirty-feet side yard setbacks were granted. Mr. Gillam responded that he understood the standard cited by the Fire Marshal is a guideline. He thought it was more of a recommendation than a specific standard. If there is a deviation, as long as there is a justification cited by the City for it, he didn’t expect there to be any problems.

Member Pehrson asked Director of Planning Barbara McBeth whether anyone in the City reviewed the financial information. Ms. McBeth replied that it has not been reviewed.

Member Pehrson asked Mr. Bowman whether any other development options that addressed the density issue and/or the level of removal were considered for this property. Mr. Bowman replied that the original concept was to propose something similar to Central Park Estates on Beck Road south of Grand River. That is a typical RM-1 Multiple Family Residential development. After a year of working on this plan, and listening to the City’s goal setting sessions, he heard loud and clear that "for rent Multiple Family Residential" was not something the community wanted to have more of, where it is not currently zoned. As he continued forward, he found the contamination issues. Mr. Bowman said he is putting his best economic feet forward. He is not trying to come in and negotiate with the community. This product is marketable, he said, and it is feasible and it can support the levels of economic investment that he is expecting and expected to put into it. Can something less dense be designed and still meet the economic variables? Mr. Bowman said absolutely no.

Mr. Bowman said he was asked to provide the economic information, but he did not think he was the appropriate one to do that. Certainly, they gave their best attempt. He delivered a memorandum to the Planning Department stating as much. Their best estimate included making some assumptions about the payback value. He forwarded the information on to the County, and (Oakland County) Brad Hanson’s initial review estimated that the payback would take somewhere between two and four years. It would depend on the buildout and lot absorption. This is not too inconsistent with Mr. Bowman’s information.

Member Pehrson said that the sanitary sewer memorandum used terms like, "…the subject parcels would likely be served…." and "…it appears that…" and other ‘iffy’ statements. He asked Civil Engineer Ben Croy to comment. Mr. Croy said that the City hasn’t received information yet as to which way the flow should be directed. It would depend on the lay of the land and how deep the sewer is in relation to this property’s final grade. There are two directions the flows could go, and both have some availability. Right now the City doesn’t know which would be the way to go. This property is close to the pump station at Liberty Park, it is a good assumption that the flow would go in that direction. There is a possibility that it wouldn’t work out, and the flow would have to go south to Twelve Mile. He didn’t know if the Applicant has already gone through these exercises yet. Mr. Croy did not think it was a big deal at this time.

Member Pehrson said that the traffic output has been touched upon. The Traffic Consultant has suggested that Dixon Road would have to be chip sealed or be paved. Mr. Croy said that in general gravel roads deteriorate with traffic. The City will have to determine if it wants to participate in a CIP project for this road. Right now Dixon Road is not slated for any such project.

Member Pehrson said he was asking these questions because he doesn’t have a problem with developers asking to develop their property. It is their right. However, the density is an issue that the Planning Commission can review and the City can control. At this time, Member Pehrson is led to believe that there is not enough information before the Planning Commission for them to make a recommendation to City Council. He thought the density question is an issue that requires more review of the economic information. He took Mr. Bowman at his word, but he wanted it reviewed. He also looked at the woodlands to the north, and if some of that could be saved, he felt it would be easier for everybody to accept. Member Pehrson felt more information was needed, such as the financial information, the traffic issue and the use of the CIP, and the subsequent loss of the scenic road designation once the road is paved and the trees are removed, the timing question relative to the adjacent developments, the easements, etc. He would like to see the request tabled until more information is forthcoming.

Member Kocan did not have a problem with a developer coming in and seeking relief. However, she looks at the realistic expectation and the concept of reasonable development. She thought the proposal lacked even one ounce of open space. There is a detention basin, but that does not count. Member Kocan said developers have been encouraged to assemble parcels and bring in one proposal, this development is not consistent with the Master Plan. The Planning Commission has to look hard at this proposal for this location, because the zoning request of six months prior. That Applicant sought a rezoning for an R-4 development and City Council said no. It was her understanding that the reason the answer was no was because of Liberty Park’s density. The City doesn’t want to duplicate that anywhere else in the City. Member Kocan drove through Liberty Park, and she hopes that the City never does mirror that project. It is not pretty. Detaching the homes serves a more adverse purpose than clustering them, or attaching them. Those large houses cast large shadows between the homes and no sun can get between them. The Fire Marshal is concerned. She therefore cannot provide a positive recommendation to City Council.

Member Kocan said that there is lot size deviation of 37.5%. There is a lot width deviation of 37.5%. The front yard setback deviation is 33%. The rear setback deviation is 14%. The side yard setback deviation is 40%. The biggest problem to Member Kocan is the 45% lot coverage when the City only allows 25%. Each individual variance concerns her. The combination of these items is extremely excessive, in Member Kocan’s opinion.

Member Kocan partially believes that the burden of this clean up is being placed on this City. Mr. Quinn had a good argument, that if the City doesn’t accept this proposal it may be on the hook to do the entire remediation at a later time. She didn’t know if the City was there yet. The City doesn’t have all the answers to the questions yet. The Planning Commission can’t make an educated recommendation.

Member Kocan said the burden of the landscaping will be placed on the future homeowners. She didn’t think that was fair. Member Kocan said the way she can be fair is to be consistent. To be consistent, she seeks to enforce the Ordinances. Her recommendation will be to enforce the Ordinance. She would agree with a negative recommendation, and she also agrees that the City still needs answers.

The biggest question Member Kocan has is regarding the $250,000 donation to the Parks fund, in exchange for the waivers and the woodland/wetland Ordinance waivers. She said the City doesn’t know what the woodland impacts are on this property. Trees have not been identified. Replacement costs or numbers have not even been calculated. If the trees can’t be replaced, what does that equate to? She was trying to put a number on things, and maybe that isn’t the way to go, but she felt it was important to have those numbers. When City Council looks at this request, they should have all of the numbers.

The 1.8 million for remediation – what is being waived for the tree fund donation? The wetlands and remediation – the Planning Commission doesn’t even know if there are wetlands because a study hasn’t been done. She can’t send this forward to City Council with a comment that the Planning Commission doesn’t know this status but they don’t think it’s good. The Planning Commission needs to have numbers.

Member Kocan said she didn’t know what the value of the soil erosion fee waiver would be. Member Kocan said that the specifics of what Mr. Bowman is asking to be waived must be spelled out for the PRO. She doesn’t know how to weigh these waivers against his contribution.

Member Kocan said that a donation represents to some people that Mr. Bowman is buying a rezoning. She did not like the connotation of that. She was not comfortable. Again, she didn’t know what fees are being considered. She said that Section 3402 of the Ordinance asks if the amount of the variances clearly outweigh the reasonably foreseeable detriments. She said the Planning Commission needs specifics.

Member Kocan said that the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority sounds like a great idea, from what little information was provided. She read that in most instances they are never repaid. She understood that Mr. Bowman is optimistic about repaying the debt in 1.5 – 2 years. The Finance Department hasn’t looked at that. Before this goes to City Council, that answer must be provided.

Member Kocan said that the character of the area is such that the City lost the park land with Sandstone. She didn’t think that gave the City carte blanche to continue going across the City and continually grading the land. Looking west, there is no beauty left. Looking north, the road leads to the park land for the City of Novi. There were interviews for City Managers this past weekend, and one interviewee said that one of the things that will keep residents in Novi and bring people to Novi is the City’s attention to woodlands and wetlands, in addition to the schools, roads, etc. Woodlands and wetlands are not to be taken lightly.

Member Kocan felt that more numerical information is necessary. She wanted a specific list of variances requested. City Council needs all of this to make a financial decision. It is the Planning Commission’s job to request that information. She supported the idea of postponing this matter until additional information was provided.

Member Wrobel asked where the contaminated dirt goes after it leaves the site. Mr. Bowman replied that this type of contamination is disposed of in a typical Class 2 landfill. It is not elevated to the high-hazardous waste level, so it can be disposed of in a feasible manner.

Member Wrobel asked Mr. Gillam whether the City would be liable for anything down the road, if the contaminated soil is not disposed of properly. Mr. Gillam said that as long as the City is not the party removing the soil and disposing of it, there would be no liability to the City.

Member Wrobel agreed that more information is necessary. Looking at the positives and negatives, Member Wrobel would lean more toward not recommending this proposal, for the main reason that this represents too much development in a too little area. Looking at more facts, as more information is forthcoming, he would give the proposal a fair review.

Member Meyer summarized the three main questions posed by Carlton Forest residents. Is there a Sandstone precedent that the City is following? Sandstone is based on a Consent Judgment so there is no Sandstone precedent. Is there a health threat? It appears there is, based on the information. For the good of the long term Novi citizens, it is something that the City should look at and address. Is the intent of the Master Plan to balance development in the City being met? Member Meyer felt that Mr. Quinn had addressed this in his comments – that the development of the land has changed. It would seem that the Master Plan would possibly need to readdress this area. Member Meyer did believe that the Planning Commission should continue their respect of the Master Plan, otherwise, why have it?

Member Meyer felt the main question for the Planning Commission to consider is whether the PRO benefits clearly outweigh the detriments of the proposal. It seemed to him that the two detriments standing in the way are density and woodlands.

Member Meyer said it was his hope that if the trees were entirely removed to eliminate the health threat, there would be some way to replant some trees in the new development. He admired Mr. Bowman’s willingness to make a cash investment for the parkland program, but he wished it could be made toward trees within this development.

Member Meyer found it difficult to understand the concept of 45% lot coverage. Most other developments in Novi average 25%. He needed clarification on this issue. The focus is on the benefits and the detriments. That is where the Planning Commission’s focus should remain.

Member Lynch makes his decisions based on three items. There must be a win-win-win situation. The City must win. The adjacent homeowners must win. The developer must win. If any one of these three players loses, the project is going to be a failure. He commended Mr. Bowman for his work thus far, but the statement that he made, that he cannot reduce the density to make the economics work, leads Member Lynch to believe that the City is in trouble with this particular project. There is so much information that has yet to be presented. For Member Lynch, he cannot make an intelligent recommendation to City Council based on what has been provided thus far. What is the cost to the City for improving the roads? What is the demand on the school system? What is the demand on Police and Fire? What is the sewage issue? Member Lynch agreed that the Engineering Review did have many ‘iffy’ statements. He was concerned about this. Member Lynch must know that the pumping system is going to work before he makes a decision.

Member Lynch thought a good environmental analysis was provided, but as he read through the package, he noted that some areas of this site have acceptable arsenic levels, though there are areas where new development should not occur. He had a hard time understanding where exactly those areas are, and accordingly, what the need is to strip the whole property. Perhaps there are economics to consider, which he understands. If the economics don’t work, then the land can’t be developed. The Planning Commission would like to save the woodlands. The natural beauty of Novi is something the Planning Commission tries to save in every review they make. It is unclear to Member Lynch why the entire site must be stripped. That might be the most economically feasible way to clean this land, but he was not sure.

Member Lynch needs these questions answered, and especially the financials. He appreciated the monetary donation, but the connotation is that the $250,000 is purchasing Ordinance variances. If trees are going to be purchased for the Parks, Member Lynch agreed with Member Meyer they should go on this land. That represents the condition of the land when the adjacent owners made their purchases. There is a solution that would allow these neighbors to look out their windows and still see the natural beauty of the area. It will still give them the rural feel.

Member Lynch needs to see the financials, and he must have a comfort level with how the adjacent landowners will benefit and how the City will benefit from this development. He would propose postponing the matter until more information is forthcoming. If he was forced to vote at this meeting, he would vote negatively. This doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t support the project, but at this time there is not enough information.

Chair Cassis asked Mr. Bowman whether he had anything else to add. Mr. Bowman said that he could provide a number of answers to the questions posed. He could answer them this evening if the Planning Commission would like. He has heard a number of comments about the donation to the Parks. The process he has gone through on this item includes discussion on what the community is dearly looking to accomplish. Active parkland was determined to be more important than passive parkland. The discussions were underway before the contamination issue revealed itself. Mr. Bowman didn’t give his word that the Parks donation would be one of the PRO elements, but he did begin this process with that on the table. He still thinks it is a very worthy element. It is by no means considered to be a payoff for variances. The PRO itself is established in those types of terms. That is what the Ordinance is all about. It is about benefits and contributions. That is what is to be elicited in this process.

Mr. Bowman said as far as infrastructure is concerned, he is not proposing to pave this road because it is a beautiful road. Sandstone was proposed to be built at fifteen units to the acre with no pavement of that road. He realizes this was a Consent Judgment. They had the option to pave or not pave that road. This proposal is modest in the overall scheme of things in the area. The traffic information that Mr. Bowman reviewed didn’t indicate the road needed to be paved – he said it was the Engineering Review that might recommend paving. The chip sealing was discussed for this section, if not specifically for Dixon Road, but certainly for 12½ Mile. The amount of units proposed, as opposed to the information the Engineering Reviews were based upon, is literally half.

Mr. Bowman said that Mr. Magnan could inform the Planning Commission in relatively certain terms where the utilities are going to go. He has the benefit of working on this infrastructure from the standpoint of upgrades completed. There is no question that the utilities will work here. In fact, Mr. Bowman was first considering a more dense project than what is currently proposed.

Mr. Bowman does not know of any wetlands on this site that would be regulated. He has been all over the site. The only area that has been identified is the front yard of one of the residents. Mr. Bowman doubted very highly that there would be any wetlands. He heard that as a major part of the discussion from the neighbors. That may stem from some of the other wetland issues that they have been confronted with on other properties.

Mr. Bowman said that the fact of the matter is, the site needs to be cleaned if it is going to be developed for residential. This is true whether the site is used for 107 units, 200 or 20. The reason why there isn’t tree information is because if the site is going to be cleared, those trees will no longer be there anyway. It will be a clean slate. As far as additional landscaping, Mr. Bowman would be pleased to talk about working with the City on enhancing the natural beauty strip along the frontage. He would even certainly be willing to talk in terms of along the rear property line. He would consider a berm situation along the northerly property line. All of that can become, as he understands it, what would be included in the PRO Agreement. A site plan would ensue that would develop and include that type of detailed information, which is the next step in the process. Mr. Bowman said that perhaps he didn’t understand that correctly, but he believed that was the reason this process was established – so the Applicant can get from Stage 1 to the next stage using the regular processes.

Mr. Bowman said that where the off-site easements are concerned, he has a clear understanding of where the contamination limits are, and what Mr. McDowell was referencing were the locations on the subject property where they might have to migrate out of a straight line. If Mr. Bowman had to obtain these off-site easements, he would be pleased to say that would be part of the site plan process before anything could be initiated. He didn’t believe this would be necessary.

Chair Cassis asked Mr. Bowman if postponing this matter would be acceptable to him. Mr. Bowman said that certainly, he would be pleased with this so that he can return with answers. Ultimately, Mr. Bowman has heard at tonight’s meeting that this is going to be a policy decision that will have to be made by City Council. He didn’t want to taint the next meeting or the process of getting the information to the Planning Commission. He will be pleased to work with Staff or any of the individual Planning Commission members or the Planning Commission as a whole. He thought it would be important to determine whether or not the Community is going to be interested in dealing with these conditions and restrictions and approaches that he is talking about in order to accomplish a successful cleanup of these properties and the development of this site. Mr. Bowman requested that the plan return at the next absolutely possible meeting. He has been working on this plan for nearly three years, and the property owners are deserving of a reasonable and timely review.

Chair Cassis understood that Mr. Bowman entered into this whole venture somewhat hesitantly but very empathetically to the whole situation and to the people who are involved. He did not envy Mr. Bowman’s task. Chair Cassis said that Mr. Bowman has been a big contributor to this community and all of his work and projects have resulted in a lot of taxes. His efforts, personally and through personal contributions – monetarily or personally – have resulted in praiseworthy things. However, Chair Cassis can hear that some of his colleagues, if not all of them, are a little bit hesitant about going forward. Mr. Bowman is to be commended for his efforts. There are certain elements to this particular project that need to be addressed in a unique way. Chair Cassis can see five or six different variances involved. The Planning Commission has seen variances before and they have tackled them. Chair Cassis was hoping that maybe if Mr. Bowman can return with some more energy and more care for the questions that were raised at this table, perhaps some of these differences can be resolved.

Mr. Bowman asked whether any of these items, particularly the woodland question, should be something that Mr. Bowman takes to the ZBA. Is this considered a true variance? Mr. Gillam said that in terms of the role of the ZBA, they would not play a role in this process. The entire idea or concept of the PRO is for the Applicant to come forward with proposed deviations from the requirements of the Ordinance. Those are reviewed by the Planning Commission, and a recommendation is then made to City Council. If City Council finds that the proposed deviations are acceptable, then those deviations are put into a form of a PRO Agreement which is then executed and recorded and the rezoning takes place subject to those conditions found in the PRO Agreement.

Chair Cassis asked Mr. McDowell about his comment on there being a number of sites in the City that also have cleanup issues. Chair Cassis noted that the property owner of the properties south of the subject site was in the audience, and is very curious and would love to see this property rezoned. Chair Cassis asked if his property is contaminated. Mr. McDowell could not say that there is contamination on his site without test results. Mr. McDowell used the map to locate the southern property line. He said there were orchard trees at that location, and it appears that they are the same type and age as what is on the Servman site. Those trees probably incurred the same pesticide use. He said that one area might be a little bit different. He said another area looks older than the 1940s, and the open spaces in the photo indicate that the trees might have been dying and were being removed because they were diseased or whatever. That suggests pesticide use being used before 1940. Whether the use was as heavy there as on the Servman property is unknown because nothing in this area has been tested yet.

Chair Cassis asked how many contaminated sites exist in Novi. Mr. McDowell said that much of the work he has done for private developers and property owners in southeast Michigan is confidential between the owners and Mr. McDowell. Therefore, Mr. McDowell could not give specific locations. He was aware of ten to twenty sites in Novi where development has been considered and halted because of the presence of contamination. He is aware of three or four developers right now who are considering brownfield opportunities but are concerned that Novi is not favorable to that.

Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:

In the matter of the request of Servman, LLC for Zoning Map Amendment 18.660 and PRO SP06-13, motion to [postpone] the matter until the next earliest possible meeting for the developer to come back with relevant questions answered and additional options provided for this property, such that the Planning Commission can make a determination to City Council at that time.


Ms. McBeth said that the discussion held at the table has been very good and the Public Hearing provided a lot of comments and the Applicant seems willing to provide additional information. She asked that the Planning Commission be a bit more specific about those things that they absolutely want to see before the matter returns to the Planning Commission.

Member Pehrson asked whether the information could be forwarded to the Planning Department via e-mail. Mr. Schmitt suggested that this information should be shared at the table so that it is part of the record. The minutes will be transcribed and Servman will be given a copy of the minutes.

Chair Cassis asked Member Pehrson to add those items to the motion that he would like to see resolved. Member Pehrson added the following:

The Finance group to review the financial information forwarded by the petitioner for relevance and understanding if that is correct relative to the payback timeframe.

An analysis done relative to the road and if it is required that based on the traffic there is going to be a need for further development of the road, which might involve the City to any extent and what those costs are associated with that item.

The developer providing [a list of] the different variances that he is requesting or has alluded to in his documents and what those variances are worth in real dollars in a real world situation.

A response from the developer and/or the City Attorney relative to the requirements about the easements and how that would be worded in the PRO going forward.

Further information [being provided] about the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority such that it can be provided by either the Applicant or the City to further educate the Planning Commission on its use in communities in Michigan and the benefits of [its use].

A request that the developer contemplate other developments of the property, such that if he were to look at a Cluster Option, what the impact financially would be to the property to him such that the Planning Commission can understand better the request for the zoning.

Member Meyer provided the following stipulations for the motion:

[Confirmation that] the developer must remove all of the trees, and what exactly is the contamination, and does that require all of the trees to be removed.

Clarification by the City Attorney of the use of the PRO anywhere else in the City, so the Planning Commission can determine whether this is setting a precedent, particularly regarding 45% versus 25% of land use for the different developments of the 107 units.

The possibility of clarification of the [perimeter concept landscape plan] and whatever that might look like.

[The Applicant providing a rendering of] what one of the units might look like, since density seems to be the issue here.

Member Pehrson added this stipulation:

In regards to the sanitary sewer, the City needs an answer from the developer as to whether or not there is sufficient capacity for this type of development in that area given the current infrastructure.

Member Lynch added this stipulation:

The financial analysis must be totally counted, [describing] the total burden on the City, fully accounting for the roads, infrastructure, tax revenue, etc., [to determine that] the project is feasible for both the developer and the City.

Member Meyer added this stipulation:

Access for fire trucks through two entries, as the [proposed plan] has one access for a fire truck, and what are the legal ramifications of this design.

Member Wrobel added this stipulation:

Determination by the City Attorney’s office of the future ramifications to the City of Novi if this development does not go through, as far as contaminated land; what would the City be liable for, etc.

Member Kocan thought that Planning Commission was very thorough in their review, and she applauded Mr. Bowman for bringing this plan forward. There are many issues but everyone is becoming educated.

Member Avdoulos felt that a lot of the discussion had been covered. He noted that one stipulation requires clarification on the removal of the trees. Member Avdoulos suggested the following:

The Applicant providing a tree inventory or something on which the City can make a judgment call.

He thought that the City must be able to respond to a citizen of the City, on why it felt warranted in approving this plan for tree clearing without as much as a tree inventory for the site.

Mr. Bowman responded that if the answer comes that the site needs to be cleared in order to clean up the site, in its entirety, he said that would be the answer for that citizen. He asked if he could walk the site and estimate the trees in the areas that were not going to be disturbed. Member Avdoulos said he would be okay with that, as long as there is some due diligence to it. Then Member Avdoulos said that the Planning Commission is making a recommendation, and once the plan leaves this table it is out of their hands. The Planning Commission is just trying to understand the project so that their recommendation to City Council is well-founded.

Member Avdoulos said that if the Applicant is asking for RM-1 with an R-4 overlay, he asked for this stipulation to be added:

The Applicant providing R-4 setbacks on the next plan to be submitted for review.

Member Avdoulos said that if this was done he could give a positive recommendation.

Mr. Bowman said that he would hate to show renderings of the units now, suggesting a commitment to those designs, and then have a builder come forward in the future and propose to build something different. Member Avdoulos said that if Mr. Bowman wanted to come in with RM-1 to get the density, and then use the R-4 standards, yet have a variance for each one of the R-4 standards, then the Applicant isn’t really building to R-4 standards. The plan would take the 80-foot lots and reduce them to 50-foot lots. Member Avdoulos wanted to remain consistent with City Council on how they voted on the parcel to the south – which was denied for 3.3 density. Member Avdoulos said that he would again bring this point up for City Council, so that they consider what will happen for that site.

Member Kocan added this stipulation, noting that she felt there were two access points to the site, but there was discussion on the stubs:

The Fire Marshal looking at the setback proposed between the houses again, and would the design require sprinklers in the homes or would that be a recommendation from him.

City Attorney David Gillam said there has been a fair amount of discussion regarding the wetlands on the site. He did not know whether the Planning Commission would like to request a wetland determination.

The Applicant providing a wetland determination on the site (Transcriber’s note: The maker of the motion did not have his microphone on, but a faint "yes" to this suggestion made by Mr. Gillam can be heard).

Member Avdoulos said it would be appropriate if Mr. Bowman engages the consultants to walk the site to consider the wetlands and woodlands.

Chair Cassis believed that the Planning Commission has been very constructive and diligent. The Planning Commission wants to address this project in a very fair, win-win manner. They want to be capable. He hoped that Mr. Bowman continues to work on this tough task. He never picks the easy projects.

Both Member Pehrson and Member Wrobel accepted the stipulations.

Member Avdoulos commented that the Planning Commission has been deliberating the project and looking at it very closely. He thought their review springs forward from Mr. McDowell’s comments that there are other sites that may have this, and other sites that may come forward in the future and other townships and cities are doing this. He said that this City wants to be careful that it does its due diligence so that when other things come forward the City knows what it is looking at and they know how to react to it and handle it intelligently. This is why the Planning Commission is going through this process step by step. Once this review is done and everybody is in agreement, the project becomes something in which everyone can take pride. It does become the win-win win.

Chair Cassis called for the vote.


In the matter of the request of Servman, LLC for Zoning Map Amendment 18.660 and PRO SP06-13, motion to [postpone] the matter until the next earliest possible meeting for the developer to come back with relevant questions answered and additional options provided for this property, such that the Planning Commission can make a determination to City Council at that time. Stipulations provided by the Planning Commission are: 1) The Finance group to review the financial information forwarded by the petitioner for relevance and understanding if that is correct relative to the payback timeframe; 2) An analysis done relative to the road and if it is required that based on the traffic there is going to be a need for further development of the road, which might involve the City to any extent and what those costs are associated with that item; 3) The developer providing [a list of] the different variances that he is requesting or has alluded to in his documents and what those variances are worth in real dollars in a real world situation; 4) A response from the developer and/or the City Attorney relative to the requirements about the easements and how that would be worded in the PRO going forward; 5) Further information [being provided] about the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority such that it can be provided by either the Applicant or the City to further educate the Planning Commission on its use in communities in Michigan and the benefits of [its use]; 6) A request that the developer contemplate other developments of the property, such that if he were to look at a Cluster Option, what the impact financially would be to the property to him such that the Planning Commission can understand better the request for the zoning; 7) [Confirmation that] the developer must remove all of the trees, and what exactly is the contamination, and does that require all of the trees to be removed; 8) Clarification by the City Attorney of the use of the PRO anywhere else in the City, so the Planning Commission can determine whether this is setting a precedent, particularly regarding 45% versus 25% of land use for the different developments of the 107 units; 9) The possibility of clarification of the [perimeter concept landscape plan] and whatever that might look like; 10) [The Applicant providing a rendering of] what one of the units might look like, since density seems to be the issue here; 11) In regards to the sanitary sewer, the City needs an answer from the developer as to whether or not there is sufficient capacity for this type of development in that area given the current infrastructure; 12) The financial analysis must be totally counted, [describing] the total burden on the City, fully accounting for the roads, infrastructure, tax revenue, etc., [to determine that] the project is feasible for both the developer and the City; 13) Access for fire trucks through two entries, as the [proposed plan] has one access for a fire truck, and what are the legal ramifications of this design; 14) Determination by the City Attorney’s office of the future ramifications to the City of Novi if this development does not go through, as far as contaminated land; what would the City be liable for, etc.; 15) The Applicant providing a tree inventory or something on which the City can make a judgment call; 16) The Applicant providing R-4 setbacks on the next plan to be submitted for review; 17) The Fire Marshal looking at the setback proposed between the houses again, and would the design require sprinklers in the homes or would that be a recommendation from him; and 18) The Applicant providing a wetland determination on the site. Motion carried 7-0.



Consideration of the request of Peary Court Partners, LLC, for Preliminary Site Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 4, north of West Road and east of Beck Road, in the I-1, Light Industrial District. The subject property is 4.75 acres and the Applicant is proposing to build two speculative light industrial office buildings.

Planner Mark Spencer said that the square footages on these buildings are 49,000 and 25,000. The Applicant will have to combine the four lots and realign the property lines. This will be an amendment to the Master Deed.

The surrounding land uses are additional light industrial and office uses. There are some research uses. Further east there are some single family homes in a condominium project called West Park Place. The Master Plan for Land Use indicates that these properties are planned for Light Industrial. Further east the residential site is master planned for that use. This entire area is zoned I-1, Light Industrial.

There are no regulated wetlands or floodplains or floodways. There were some woodlands on this site but the site was cleared and no regulated woodlands remain. There are no priority areas noted on the Natural Features map for this site. In the corporate park as a whole, there have been some areas preserved in the northerly part of the site and on neighboring properties.

The two buildings include accessory parking spaces that are similar in size and function to the other buildings in the park. The lots are interconnected by a driveway. An access has been provided to the easterly property. Easements will be provided for that purpose.

Drainage facilities were built to serve this entire development. There is an off-site sedimentation basin that was part of the corporate park. There is an off-site regional detention basin that storm water drains to.

The buildings are located on local industrial streets and therefore Opposite Side Driveway Spacing Waivers are not a requirement of this development. The Planning Department recommends approval of the plan subject to minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.

The Preliminary Site Plan demonstrates general compliance with the Zoning Ordinance requirements, especially relating to building height, parking setbacks, building setbacks, etc. They have proposed 196 parking spaces and 193 are required. The Planning Commission may wish to discuss asking the Applicant to remove the three excess spaces in favor of landscaping. The extra spaces are on the "Building B" site.

The Applicant has proposed 19-foot parking spaces throughout the site. Where the spaces are adjacent to landscape, the spaces could be 17 feet with a two-foot overhang. The Planning Commission may wish to ask the Applicant to increase the parking lot island and reduce the parking space length.

The Engineering Review and Fire Department Review both recommend approval with minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.

The Landscape Review notes that some details are missing and the plan does not comply with the non-residential planting requirements. The plan is not recommended for landscape approval at this time. The Applicant is asking for a waiver of the berm requirement along the south side of Hudson Drive. The Landscape Consultant has indicated she could support the request. The Applicant has also stated that they will correct their landscape deficiencies on the Final Site Plan submittal.

The Traffic Review has indicated the Applicant should provide missing handicapped ramps. They have asked that the Applicant redesign a landscape island that is in the truck path on the south side of "Building A." The Applicant will correct these issues.

The Façade Review indicated that they recommended approval; however, today they issued a revised letter. They overlooked a calculation. The Applicant proposed a plan with excessive split-faced block – about 4%. The Applicant said they will comply with Ordinance and not seek a waiver.

Doug Thall represented the Applicant. He is the developer of the project. He introduced the architect Shaun Squires of Smith and Sherman Associates, the landscape architect and the project engineer, Mark Young. Mr. Young of Atwell Hicks stated that Mr. Spencer’s presentation was well done. They plan on resolving the issues to the pleasure of the Planning Department and Planning Commission. They do still seek the berm waiver. The area is so narrow, and therefore providing the landscaped berm would be difficult to design at three feet with a reasonable slope. They propose landscaping the area with the same visual effect of the berm. Mr. Young continued that Beck North Corporate Park is familiar to the Planning Commission, and therefore the Planning Commission members are aware that the utilities are in place, stormwater is in place and there are no environmental issues.

Chair Cassis asked if the parking was adequate. Mr. Young said that there are three spaces too many. He thought that Mr. Thall would prefer to preserve those spots for parking and not for landscaping. They would look at it with the Planning Department to determine the feasibility of placing the berm.

Chair Cassis asked about whether the Applicant would reduce the parking stall length around the landscaped island. Mr. Young didn’t think that would be a problem. He didn’t think it would affect traffic movement. As long as the drives of 24 feet are maintained, it should not be a problem. Chair Cassis said that he has had problems with backing out of spaces when others in the immediate area are doing the same. He preferred the longer spaces.

Mr. Squires said that he has already adjusted the elevations with the reduced amount of split-faced block. He provided a new elevation for the Planning Commission to see.

Member Kocan confirmed that no spacing waivers are necessary. Civil Engineer Ben Croy explained that his department is taking another approach to the driveway spacing policy. The Ordinance states that Opposite Side Driveway Spacing Waivers apply to arterial roads. In this case, the road is less than an arterial – it is a collector or local street. Therefore the spacing requirement does not apply, with a literal interpretation of the Ordinance. The conversations held between the Engineering Department and the Traffic Consultant have concluded that the requirement is not necessary in these cases. Mr. Croy said that the same side spacing requirement has been met based on the 25 mph speed limit. Member Kocan just wished to be clear on this issue and she wanted to be consistent. Mr. Croy said that this interpretation of the Ordinance will be used in the future.

Member Kocan asked about the 80-90% opacity requirement. She thought that applied to areas adjacent to parking. Was this opacity required on the west side or north side? Landscape Consultant Doris Hill responded that she was looking at the entry on the south side of the site off Hudson Drive. There are parking spaces in the area, though it is a very small area. She said there is adequate screening shown on the north side of the site. The south side is very constrained. The Applicant is proposing shrubs in that area but no berm. Ms. Hill believed there is a practical difficulty without their removing parking spaces. The Applicant has committed to increasing the plant screening and she therefore supported the berm waiver due to the practical difficulty. Member Kocan was also ensuring that the City wasn’t requiring 80-90% percent opacity that would block the view of the beautiful building.

Member Kocan said the Applicant has stated his preference to keep the three extra parking spaces. She confirmed with Ms. Hill that there isn’t a landscape shortage, other than trees that the Applicant has agreed to add to their site. Member Kocan did not have a problem with three additional parking spaces. She understood that the Applicant would correct the sidewalk issues.

Moved by Member Kocan, seconded by Member Pehrson:

In the matter of Beck North Units 15-18, SP06-12, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Planning Commission Waiver of a three-foot ROW berm south of the driveway on Hudson Drive; 2) The conditions and items listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan; for the reasons that the Petitioner will meet all Ordinance requirements, it complies with the Master Plan and is consistent with the development in the area.


Member Avdoulos clarified with the Applicant that he would provide a four-inch curb around the reduced-length parking spaces. Member Avdoulos said it was a nice project and thanked the Applicant for providing a response letter and working well with the City. Member Avdoulos liked projects like this – where two buildings share a parking area, and the buildings frame it. There are many examples in the City where this concept works. He said that Novi may be the only City where Applicants may be asked to remove excess parking spaces. But it is the City’s environmentally sensitive position – which also explains the request to reduce the parking space depth. If that could also happen along the back side parking, it should be considered. It might also be financially prudent to have less paving.

Member Avdoulos commented that he preferred ten-foot by twenty-foot parking spaces, which is the standard in Ann Arbor. With the big SUVs and big trucks, it is a fantastic size. He said there is a balance between space sizing and amount of parking on a site. He appreciated the Applicant’s working with the City.

Chair Cassis said this was a nice development. He said this Applicant is one of many who has come before the Planning Commission with quality. This is great for the community as a tax base. It is a clean project that does not require too much of the City’s tax dollars to maintain and upkeep. The Applicant is to be commended. He boasted about Novi and its developments, particularly Northern Equities and the congruent area up there. In the May 10, 2006 Detroit News an article extolled the virtues of Novi development and its neutral and unbiased location in relationship to the big corporations. The City is also accessible from all of the freeways. Chair Cassis said that the April 17, 2006 Crain’s Detroit Business described Northern Equities’ mini-boom in Novi. Some buildings have received design awards. Novi is very fortunate. This Applicant brought forward a nice project that protects the landlord and its tenants.


In the matter of Beck North Units 15-18, SP06-12, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Planning Commission Waiver of a three-foot ROW berm south of the driveway on Hudson Drive; 2) The conditions and items listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan; for the reasons that the Petitioner will meet all Ordinance requirements, it complies with the Master Plan and is consistent with the development in the area. Motion carried 7-0.

Moved by Member Kocan, seconded by Member Pehrson:


In the matter of Beck North Units 15-18, SP06-12, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to: 1) The conditions and items listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters being addressed on the Final Site Plan, for the reason that there is a park-wide detention basin that this project will utilize. Motion carried 7-0.


Director of Planning Barbara McBeth brought forward this item for discussion. Some June and July dates were proposed for the Planning Commission to consider. The dates were Wednesday, June 21; Saturday, June 24; Wednesday, July 19; and Saturday, July 22. Member Kocan suggested that the training take place once new Planning Commission appointments are made. Interviews are slated for June 12. Member Kocan, Member Pehrson and Member Lynch are up for re-appointment. Member Kocan is not seeking re-appointment so there will be a new Planning Commission member. The Planning Commission will determine the legal training date after new Planning Commission members are appointed in July, 2006.


There were no Consent Agenda Removals.


There were no Matters for Discussion.


Member Avdoulos stated that he liked the new look of the zoning map.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


Moved by Member Pehrson:

Motion to adjourn.

The meeting adjourned at or about 11:30 p.m.












Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, June 8, 2006 _____________________________________

Date Approved: June 14, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date