|View Agenda for this meeting
View Action Summary for this meeting
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 p.m.
Present: Members John Avdoulos, Victor Cassis, Andrew Gutman, Lynn Kocan, David Lipski (arrived at 7:36 p.m.), Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Wayne Wrobel
Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Director of Planning; Tim Schmitt, Planner; Jason Myers, Planner; David Beschke, Landscape Architect; Ben Croy, Engineer; Larry DeBrincat, Woodland and Landscape Consultant; Steve Dearing, Traffic Consultant; David Gillam, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Gutman led the meeting in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
VOICE VOTE ON APPROVAL OF AGENDA MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
Motion to approve the Agenda of June 14, 2006. Motion carried 8-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no Correspondence to share.
There were no Committee Reports.
PLANNING DIRECTOR REPORT
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth told the Planning Commission that at the last City Council meeting the Providence rezoning passed. Some changes were made to the Town Center Zoning Text Amendment language at its second reading so the matter was postponed for further discussion and study. The Environmental Committee now includes City Council members Lynne Paul and Andrew Mutch, and it is expected that a Parks and Recreation board member will also be appointed to the Committee.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
1. ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.206
The Public Hearing was opened for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council to amend the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, as amended, to modify vehicle drive through lane requirements in the City of Novi.
Planner Tim Schmitt addressed the Planning Commission. This ongoing issue has become more prevalent in light of the many bank plans that have proliferated in the City. Each bank that has come through the planning process has commented that the stacking requirements were rather high in this city. Six spaces are the current standard; the topic was researched and it was determined that this standard is rather mixed throughout the surrounding communities. Bank One at the northeast corner of Grand River and Beck Road and Flagstar Bank at Eight Mile and Haggerty were ultimately denied because of their stacking issues. Both banks provided customer count information from other branches so that the City had data to analyze. The data was provided to the Planning Commission for their review.
Mr. Schmitt said that the information revealed that there are certain peak hours but in general, the drive-through lanes are not consistently busy enough to warrant six stacking spaces per drive-through lane. The banks were handling zero to ten cars per hour per window. The Planning Department has now recommended that the requirement in the Ordinance be reduced to three. Also recommended, through the help of the Implementation Committee, are three additional items found in Section 2506.12 of the Ordinance. Letter "B" was added, which clarifies that stacking spaces in drive-through lanes shall be set back consistent with the parking standards. That was a result of an interesting argument with Flagstar – that stacking isn’t parking. Mr. Schmitt noted that the stacking then should also be landscaped consistent with the landscape parking requirements.
Mr. Schmitt said that Section "D" was added, which states that drive-through facilities shall provide a by-pass lane, and its width must be a minimum of 18 feet, unless the Fire Marshal requires a broader width.
The Implementation Committee also recommended that the minimum length of the stacking space be defined; the standard of 19 feet was chosen, which is consistent with the parking stall standard.
Mr. Schmitt said that drugstores and pharmacies were added to the convenience markets section so as to make the language more definitive.
Mr. Schmitt said that there are two banks in the pipeline that are waiting for this text amendment to pass. He noted that Bank One (Grand River and Beck Road) is one of those banks.
Member Lipski arrived at 7:36 p.m.
Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing after determining that no one from the audience wished to speak and there was no correspondence to share.
Member Wrobel asked where the standard of six came from. Mr. Schmitt said that he could not pinpoint that answer, but historically, many communities started with this number.
Member Gutman commended the Planning Department for their work.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.206 regarding vehicle drive-through lane requirements, motion to forward a positive recommendation to City Council.
Member Kocan said that the Implementation Committee reviewed this standard for the last eight months. Member Kocan felt that three spaces per lane may be too small of a number; she suggested that perhaps a minimum total number be considered, regardless of the number of windows. She suggested the number twelve. She reviewed the data provided by the banks, and she said that the number three is in fact justified by their customer counts. She appreciated the lesser amount of impervious surface; she just hoped that the City didn’t settle on too small of a number. She supported the motion.
Chair Cassis wished to allay Member Kocan’s fears. With the proliferation of banks Chair Cassis felt that the customer count will be spread out accordingly. He also thought that with improved technology there are now "banking shortcuts" that reduce the amount of customers that use the drive-through.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.206, STACKING REQUIREMENTS, MOTION MADE BY MEMBER GUTMAN AND SECONDED BY MEMBER PEHRSON:
In the matter of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.206 regarding vehicle drive-through lane requirements, motion to forward a positive recommendation to City Council. Motion carried 9-0.
2. WOODLAND PERMIT, LOT 35 BELLAGIO, WRB06-02
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Brian Wenzel for approval of a Woodland Permit. The subject property is located in Section 32, on Bellagio Ct., Lot 35. The Applicant seeks to clear and grub approximately 7,000 square feet of the regulated woodland in the rear yard.
Woodland Consultant Larry DeBrincat addressed the Planning Commission. He described the homesite for the Planning Commission. The rear portion of the site is a woodland; the easterly edge is clear for utility placement. The plan proposed is for a pool, sport area, sidewalk and associated pavement area. The plan will require the removal of the entire wooded area. Several trees will be retained in four different areas. There are some trees in bad condition. Some are hickories, maples, etc. They are of marginal quality. A total of .22 acres will be removed. That is about 59½% of this site’s woodland. 27 regulated trees will be removed; the replacement trees will be more, based on the size of trees to be removed.
Mr. DeBrincat’s position is that this removal is an excessive amount of trees, much more than any other site he has seen. He would like to see the sports court area be located to the driveway. This would be adjacent to the garage. The two areas are almost equal in size. The pool paving could be reduced on the south side, leaving a six to eight foot wide area adjacent to the pool. Mr. DeBrincat located the boundary of the Conservation Easement. He said it was about 24.2 feet wide.
City Attorney David Gillam asked the Planning Commission to note that a copy of Section 37-29 was placed on the Planning Commission table for the members to review. This section of the Woodland Ordinance contains the standards that are to be applied by the Planning Commission in reviewing an application. He said that Section 4.a sets the standard for the removal or relocation of the trees. This section is applicable to this situation. When necessary, for the location of a structure or site improvement, and when no feasible or prudent alternative location for the structure or improvement can be had without causing undue hardship, the Applicant can choose to seek relief. Also, in Section 11 the Ordinance places the burden on the Applicant to show the undue hardship.
Mark Guidobono of Cambridge Homes addressed the Planning Commission. He developed Bellagio, and he is the builder of this homesite. This homeowner would like a pool. This is typical of the Bellagio lots. Some other lots are also putting in sports courts. This is the first time that there is a pool and a sports court both in a woodland area. There is one other homesite that has both amenities, but it is not in a woodland area.
This homeowner is trying to minimize the disruption to the trees. Eleven are proposed for removal. The amenities were designed to be placed in areas where the trees are of low quality. The homeowner has agreed to pay into the tree fund for any trees that cannot be placed on the site.
Mr. Guidobono showed a picture of Bellagio and the location of the woodline. He located a wooded park area in the subdivision. He said that the proposed homes for Bellagio were all being designed larger than each site’s footprint. Mr. Guidobono was coming to the Woodland Review Board on a regular basis. Therefore, Mr. Guidobono asked the Review Board for a 10% grace on encroaching the woodlands so that each little "adjustment" would not hold up a site plan. The Board agreed to this plan. This represents about 3,500 square feet. This plan requests a total of 7,000 square feet. Mr. Guidobono said that not all of the required replacement trees would fit back onto the site. Mr. DeBrincat was unable to give the actual replacement number. 27 will be removed, but some were already earmarked for removal. Mr. DeBrincat figured that about 15 trees would fit back on site. They can be planted closely together so as to emulate a woodland.
Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing after determining there was no correspondence and no one from the audience wished to speak.
Member Lipski said that because the burden is on the Applicant to demonstrate hardship, it would behoove this homeowner to explain the design efforts that went into this plot plan and the alternative plans that may have been considered. Member Lipski said it was a good sign that there are no neighbor objections. Member Lipski said that a number should be reached for the maximum on-site tree replacement. He wondered if marginal-condition trees have a lesser replacement value. Mr. DeBrincat said that the Ordinance does not recognize the condition of the trees. Diseased trees and dead trees (with canopies of less than 15% leaves) are allowed to be removed. Marginal trees may have broken tops or are thinly branched.
Member Lipski asked whether the Planning Department has alternative suggestions. Director of Planning Barbara McBeth said that the Woodland Consultant has provided a sketched plan with less concrete. She thought the Applicant should respond whether he would consider a less-paved plan.
Homeowner Brian Wenzel addressed the Planning Commission. He said that first, he moved his home to the front boundary of the building envelope. The pool was designed about six feet away from the house. It was oriented east-west to reduce the infringement. The sports court was considered for placement in a number of places. The location chosen was based on the quality of trees in the area, the type of trees, and the communication between the landscape architect and himself. The sports court area is already going to be disturbed. It is the area of the lowest quality of trees. It is the farthest away from the neighbors. It could be shifted north, closer to the driveway. Less of the woodland would be affected, but the quality of trees is better in that area.
Mr. Wenzel hasn’t heard any suggestions that would reduce the overall impact to the woodland. He would consider reducing the pavement. Grading and stormwater have to be considered. If the pavement is six feet of the pool deck, as opposed to eight feet, it wouldn’t reduce the overall number of affected trees. It would affect the woodland at all. The idea is to protect as many trees as possible. They will do their best to keep the paving away from the preserved trees.
Mr. DeBrincat said that trees with greater than an eight-inch dbh must be replaced. Smaller trees and all vegetation are still protected by the Ordinance if they are in the woodland. Member Lipski confirmed that if the concrete was reduced it would preserve more of the understory.
Mr. Wenzel said that three of his four children play tennis. The driveway will not accommodate a "tennis court." They found no better alternative design. They do not plan on lighting the tennis courts. Member Lipski asked Mr. Wenzel about adding trees to his site. Mr. Wenzel responded that he would plant a minimum of 15 trees back onto the site. He wanted to add value to his property. He has incentive to add to those trees. Realistically, he understood that not all of the replacements will likely fit and that he would have to give to the tree fund.
Member Lipski concluded by stating that the Planning Commission really could not finalize this matter without knowing how many replacement trees are required and how many would be placed on site. He felt that if the Applicant was agreeing to a number of trees to be placed on his site, the Planning Commission should know more about that number.
Member Kocan said that if someone wants to build the biggest house in a subdivision where the woodland sits on their lot, they are going to have to make some concessions. She said that the developer must tell the future homeowners that there is a woodland that must be protected. Bellagio is aware of this important matter. Each homeowner was supposed to receive a letter explaining that woodlands must be protected. This site is next to a protected park. The previous Woodland Review Board request was for a site due west of the park. That homeowner inadvertently cleared their back yard. That homeowner will spend about $53,000 repairing his damage.
Member Kocan did not see an undue hardship regarding the sports court. It is unfortunate that this Applicant chose this lot. She looked for reasonable development. She did not think the proposal was reasonable. She didn’t think the site should be redesigned at this table. There are still questions lingering. There should be a landscape plan associated with this plan. There should be less concrete. If one feature was removed, she might consider granting approval. She was hesitant though. This parcel should be designed on a diagonal to remain consistent with the parcel next door. She could not support this plan. She would be willing to postpone this matter to give the Applicant time to consider and design with a smaller house. The landscape plan should be forthcoming.
Mr. Guidobono explained that Bellagio was developed with the Preservation Option. If the development provided 20% of its site as wooded parkland, then home lots could be reduced from one acre to .8 acre. If 15% is preserved, then the lots can be .85 acre. In Bellagio’s case, the woodland areas preserved (off the homesites) equaled about 16%, plus the central park is about 3.5 acres. They asked whether they could count those acres as well because of the benefit of that land. The City agreed, because the park is easily accessible by all. He also put a 20-foot preservation easement along the back end of the lots.
Member Kocan said that the last Bellagio woodland hearing resulted in a motion requesting Cambridge Homes to draft a letter telling all the Bellagio homeowners of the importance of preserving and protecting the woodlands. Ms. McBeth concurred with this information. Mr. Guidobono said that the letter has indeed gone out to the residents.
Member Lynch thought the homesite was very beautiful. He thought there had to be a way to accommodate the homeowner and the woodland. He thought more information was needed before he could vote.
Member Meyer asked that Mr. DeBrincat provide the number of trees that the homeowner would be responsible for replanting. He thought the homeowner showed his commitment to woodland preservation.
Member Avdoulos asked how many of the Bellagio lots had woodlands. Mr. Guidobono said 19 or 20 have woods; 15 are heavily wooded. Member Avdoulos thought that perhaps not enough acreage was preserved for the Preservation Option with counting the park. Mr. Guidobono said that was not accurate. Member Avdoulos said the idea was to preserve the woodlands. When a lot comes in and more than half of the woodlands are going to be removed for an amenity, it scares Member Avdoulos to think about how many lots like this there are. If 50% of every lot was cleared, the site would lose half its trees.
Member Avdoulos asked whether the concrete could be reduced while still keeping the amenities. He felt that there was a way to do so. He felt the mood of the Planning Commission was to postpone this matter so that a more revealing plan can be produced for the rear yard. He felt that the intent of the original agreement must be kept – that the preservation of the woodlands was paramount.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Lynch:
In the matter of the request of Brian Wenzel for a Woodland Permit for Lot 35 Bellagio, motion to postpone the consideration until further information is brought forward so that the Planning Commission can make a more favorable approval for the Applicant.
Member Avdoulos did not want the Applicant to have to choose one amenity over the other. Every homeowner has the right to develop his land. He just wanted the Applicant to make sure that the preservation of the trees was a paramount issue. He offered to share a sketch of the back yard with the Applicant to consider, as he was an architect.
Chair Cassis wants to know how many trees will be removed. He said that the marginal value of the trees is indeed important. Mr. DeBrincat said he did not assess each tree. He happened to notice that there were several trees. He looked to see if there was a way to move the house up and whether trees in the back were more important than others. Mr. DeBrincat felt that the placement of the amenities were in fact in the area of the lower quality trees. There were nicer trees nearer to the house. They plan on preserving those trees. Some trees, from one to seven inches, are not on the survey. That is a considerable number of trees. Sometimes the small trees are better quality because they are growing in a more open area.
Chair Cassis said that the standards in the Ordinance state that no application shall be denied solely on the basis that some trees are growing on the property. The protection and conservation is of paramount concern. He said that the reviewing authority shall evaluate the quality of the involved woodland area, including the consideration of soil quality, habitat quality, tree species, tree size and density, health and vigor of the trees, etc. In Section 4 states that the removal or relocation of trees shall be limited to those instances when necessary for the location of a structure or site improvement and when no feasible location alternative can be had without causing undue hardship. Chair Cassis felt that the Planning Commission should tread carefully. The quality of trees should be considered, the number, the hardship for alternative placement, etc. Chair Cassis said it was unfortunate that all of the answers aren’t available tonight. Chair Cassis heard the Applicant say that locating certain structures in specific areas would preserve better trees than marginal trees.
Mr. DeBrincat said that in one area that was a correct statement. When the determination was made to deny this plan, Mr. DeBrincat was questioning the need for the sports court to be in the rear yard versus being place in an area that is already being paved. Mr. Wenzel has addressed that by stating he has concerns for his young children. With respect with the pool area, Mr. DeBrincat did not believe Mr. Wenzel has reduced the impact as much as he could. There is a lot of pavement. The area near the home is an obvious area where pavement will be used for socializing. The twenty-foot buffer on the other side of the pool doesn’t seem to be necessary pavement.
Chair Cassis asked if Mr. Wenzel could accommodate any of the Consultant’s suggestions. Mr. Wenzel responded that reducing that pavement does not save any additional trees. It may save more understory. The original submittal was turned into the City in February. He has had two woodland reviews. There has been considerable work to get to this point. He felt that perhaps the amount of work already gone into this plan has gone unnoticed. The pool deck was considered for reduction, but his own consultants felt that the proposed design is what is appropriate and consistent with contemporary pool designs. They were unable to locate City Ordinances that limit the size of pool decks. He would have met those standards if there were any. Their best effort included using contemporary pool designs. Mr. Wenzel’s intended use for the pool is personal. They wanted to be somewhat consistent with pool designs that are already built in the neighborhood. They did look at these things throughout the Bellagio neighborhood. He noted that the neighbor’s pool deck is far more extensive. He felt that he wasn’t hearing a "standard" from the City for which he should strive. He could arbitrarily choose a smaller sized deck, but he didn’t understand what the reasoning was for doing so.
Chair Cassis said the intent was to save trees. Mr. Wenzel replied that he thought so too, but a smaller deck would not save any more trees. Mr. Guidobono added that higher quality trees would be added to the site.
Chair Cassis said that the Planning Commission would like to postpone the matter. There isn’t enough information to move forward. The Planning Commission seems to want to approve the plan, but accurate numbers need to be provided. Mr. Wenzel asked what specific information is lacking. A total number of trees to be removed has been submitted; the City has had the number for four months. The replacement trees should be able to be gleaned from Mr. DeBrincat’s letter.
Chair Cassis said that there is a time element at hand. He asked Member Avdoulos, the maker of the motion, what he would like to see. Member Avdoulos said the review letter says too much is being taken out. Member Avdoulos would look for an alternative plan that addresses that comment. The plan could show whether the proposed activity near the tree line can be moved up ten feet. Can 2,000 square feet be added back to the regulated woodlands? Can the concrete be tightened up? As was indicated, there is no City Ordinance on pool decks. But, if there’s a regulated woodland, the Applicant should minimize the impact. For the Planning Commission to make a decision, it needs to see an alternative plan. The hardships rests upon the Applicant’s shoulders.
Member Lipski said he prefers to put himself into each Applicant’s shoes
and also, weigh the question against what’s best for the City. In this case,
he took exception to the comment that leniency given to a developer of a
Chair Cassis said that the Applicant’s commitment to plant a minimum of 15 quality trees back onto the site is great. He said there is no clear-cut way to reconfigure the plan without affecting some trees.
Member Kocan said the number of trees (eleven) being removed only counted those greater than eight inches. There are numerous smaller trees. Grubbing is defined as leaving trees greater than three inches. She felt that "eleven" was deceiving. The clearer picture comes from the 7,000 square feet of clearing.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON WENZEL WOODLAND PERMIT REQUEST, WRB06-02, POSTPONEMENT MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LYNCH:
In the matter of the request of Brian Wenzel for a Woodland Permit for Lot 35 Bellagio, motion to postpone the consideration until further information is brought forward so that the Planning Commission can make a more favorable approval for the Applicant. Motion carried 9-0.
3. PROVIDENCE PHYSICIANS MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING, SP06-21
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Providence Park Physicians, LLC, for Preliminary Site Plan, Section 9 Waiver, Woodland Permit, and Storm Water Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 17, at the southwest corner of Grand River Avenue and Beck Road, in the OSC, Office Service Commercial District. The subject property is 13.7 acres and the Applicant is proposing to construct a 215,000 square foot Medical Office Building.
Planner Tim Schmitt described the project for the Planning Commission. The ITC corridor is to the west. Grand River is to the north. Beck Road is to the east. The property is master planned for office, as are the north, south and east properties. To the west is the utility corridor. Also west are Single Family Residential homes. Further south are also Single Family Residential homes. The subject property is zoned OSC, and it includes the recently rezoned property from Residential. North and east properties are zoned OSC. To the west are properties zoned R-T, Residential with a PRO, R-A and R-1.
There are wetlands that were addressed with the Providence ring road plan. There is a regulated tree on site. This is a five-story building. There are is an area of cast stone on the façade. There are penthouse elevators and roof top units. He noted that this property combines with the Orthopaedic Center to the west. He located the pedestrian connection between the two buildings, the greensward and the Conservation Easement.
The Woodland Review requires additional information regarding the one tree to be removed. The Applicant is not encroaching into the southerly Conservation Easement.
The Landscape Review indicates that a waiver is necessary for plantings within four feet of the property line. The Planning Department recommends the waiver. For a site like this, the property lines don’t have a real impact; Providence is the overall owner of the entire site. The Orthopaedic Center and this medical office building will iron out the responsibilities of shared landscape island care. By the time of Final Site Plan submittal, the Applicants will inform the City of who is responsible for each of the shared islands. The Applicant has been asked to move some of the parking lot trees to the perimeter if possible. A substantial amount of trees are proposed on the long islands on every other bay of spaces. In this case, the Applicant has ample room for their trees; the Planning Department would like them to consider whether any of the trees can be put around the perimeter. 1:35 planting is a design requirement. The numerical requirement comes from the impervious surface area, and the Applicant has met this requirement.
The Traffic Review and Engineering Review both indicate there are items that to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. The Traffic Review again has requested a design change on the connection drive. The skewed intersection has been noted as another area that should be re-reviewed.
The Façade Review indicates a Section Nine Waiver is required. This building does not have the ribbed metal panel problem. The cast stone is the item requiring the waiver. It is the same cast stone as the Orthopaedic Center. Mr. Schmitt displayed the façade board.
The Fire Department Review approved the plan, with minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Planning Review indicated a few items to be addressed. The allowed building height is surpassed in a few areas of this building. 65 feet are allowed; this building reaches heights of 67.5 feet. The Applicant has agreed to reduce the height of the building. The cast stone end pieces (the stairwells) are proposed to be 77 feet on one end and the elevator/mechanical equipment penthouse is proposed to be 78 feet. The Applicant is permitted to adjust the height for the mechanical section, but the overall height of the building cannot exceed 65 feet. The Applicant will have to seek a ZBA variance for the overage of 13 feet. There are five areas of the building that fall under this category.
The parking lot setback requirements are another issue on which the Planning Commission should consider granting a waiver. Again, this is a shared parking design and there is not a full setback. An asterisk is in the Schedule of Regulations that permits the Planning Commission to grant this waiver. The Applicant is providing additional areas of setback in two other areas. The numbers will be confirmed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. The Applicant is flexible with their property lines.
The Planning Commission is asked to make a finding under Section 2400 to allow front yard parking. The parking and lighting area must be consistent with other buildings in the area. This building is behind the Orthopaedic Center, and there is no berm or wall proposed for the property line. The Orthopaedic Center is screening the parking area. The Planning Department believes this design meets the intent of the Ordinance.
The loading zone is a minor concern. 360 feet is required. In the OS districts this area should be in the rear yard. Given the intent to maintain the greensward, this is not possible. The Planning Department will recommend approval of this variance to the ZBA.
The building is 250,000 gross square feet. An analysis of the design determined that the Applicant is forty parking spaces short. The Applicant met with the City, and it was suggested that the City review the CAD files to assess most accurately the floor space. The elevator shafts can be removed. 169,080 square feet must be used for the parking space calculation. At a ratio of 1:175, the Applicant required 966 parking spaces. Right now, there are 947 spaces – a deficit of 19 spaces. The Applicant can add these spaces with a single row of parking. The Applicant is proposing to bump out an area and provide a double row that will yield more than 19 spaces. This will not affect the greensward. The greensward is not under an easement and could be encroached, but the Applicant is just designing to its edge. There will be more details forthcoming at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. Mr. Schmitt did not expect the Applicant to need a ZBA variance for their parking. This will be confirmed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
Member Kocan asked if there was a setback issue pertaining to the northerly entrance. Mr. Schmitt explained the areas requiring waivers. He said that the "road" does not meet typical road standards and therefore was not considered a "road." It is a parking lot drive aisle. Along the one property line, there is an approximate 15-foot area requiring a waiver. Again, the Applicant meets the overall setback area. The Planning Department is confident in recommending this waiver.
Architect Michael McGunn, Smith Group, represented the Applicant. There are more than forty Providence physicians that comprise the ownership. He said there are 51 tenant suites in the building. 159,000 square feet (94%) are already leased. The rest of the building will be leased before the building is completed. Many of these doctors are coming from the other office building; that building will be renovated for use by the hospital. Originally there was also going to be a neurology science institute comprising of 40,000 square feet, but over time, the design incorporated both uses into this one large building. The elevations of the building spawned from the two uses wanting to maintain separate identities. The Orthopaedic Center is forty feet tall. The medical office building is about eighty feet tall. The hospital is about 120 feet tall. The height falls into place in light of the entire hospital master plan.
The building is mostly 65 feet tall. The two towers project another twelve feet. The elevator and mechanical screening projects 12.5-13 feet. He displayed a picture of the proposed building.
The parking lot setbacks have been addressed. The parking quantity will be increased to yield 172 spaces. Five additional handicapped spaces have been designed to accommodate a 7,600 square foot physical therapy suite.
Dino Lekas of JJR discussed the parking lot layout and showed the updated design; no regulated trees will have to be removed. Therefore, no Woodland Permit is required.
No one from the audience wished to speak and no correspondence was received so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Avdoulos stated that it was nice to see the whole picture come together, as the Planning Commission reviewed the Orthopaedic Center without the benefit of seeing this building. The new parking design will enhance the area.
Member Avdoulos was a bit concerned about the height of the building, but the mass of the building must be considered. He thought the occasional upgrade in height was acceptable. They should be considered architectural elements that break up the mass. It will also allow for ease of maintenance, which is a safety issue for the repairmen. The center penthouse is enclosed. The elevator equipment room is there, as well as mechanical equipment. The others are just screens. Member Avdoulos said it was a good idea to have full stairs going to the roof.
Member Avdoulos said that if the Ordinance allows 65 feet tall buildings and five stories, the issue of mechanical equipment must be addressed. Traction elevators require an overrun past the fifth floor, with a mechanical room above it. A new design of elevators will be different from this, but they haven’t been proven to be effective yet. Member Avdoulos was comfortable with the heights on this building.
Member Avdoulos envisioned this site’s master plan as having a planned step-down in building size: The hospital, the medical office building, the Orthopaedic Center and finally the pedestrian walk level. He thought it worked well. He did not think that the floor-to-floor ratio of 12’8" could be reduced. That is tight. Member Avdoulos assumed they would design 14-foot floors, but that would have taken the building too high. He said the heights are appropriate. The cast stone has already been reviewed, and this building has more traditional brick and glass. He endorsed the Section Nine Waiver.
Member Avdoulos said that the parking issue has been addressed. He was okay with the loading zone resolution. He said that hospitals always make adjustments for their staff and patients. He was okay with the front yard parking and the parking lot setback and lighting. He thought the traffic issues had been addressed.
Member Avdoulos asked Woodland and Landscape Consultant Larry DeBrincat to comment on the plan. He said that Doris Hill reviewed the site, and that she has expressed the option of changing the parking lot stall length from 19 feet to 17 feet. She also noted that there is no space along the north side to add perimeter trees. If this could be looked at, as well as the southerly strip of the new parking lot proposal, he conceded that there are otherwise ample trees throughout the parking area. The Applicant agreed to shift some trees around the site.
Overall Member Avdoulos approved of the plan. He noted that Mr. Lekas made a comment about the placement of the building being selected to maximize everyone’s view and enjoyment of the trees. Member Avdoulos said that was the original intent stated by Providence. Member Avdoulos thought the layout was appropriate.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Michael L. McGunn for the Providence Hospital Physicians Medical Office Building, SP06-21, motion to grant approval of the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals variance for excessive building height (65 feet permitted, up to 78 feet proposed), with the main building being 65 feet and ancillary areas exceeding that height; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals variance to allow the loading zone in the side yard; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver for lack of parking lot setback, with no net loss of setback area on the site; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow plantings within four feet of common property lines with the proposed Orthopaedic Center to the west; 5) A Planning Commission Finding that parking area and lighting are appropriate and that the Orthopaedic Center Building provides the screening desired under Section 2400, Footnote h.2; 6) Planning Commission approval of the requested Section 9 Façade Waiver to allow excessive use of cast stone materials; 7) A redesign of the site to add 19 parking spaces at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, which the Applicant has presented on a separate sketch; 8) A redesign of landscape plan to meet perimeter parking lot planting requirements, as indicated by the Applicant during their presentation; and 9) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
Member Wrobel’s concern was that the entry into this site from the southeast Beck Road entrance seems to be a problem. The Orthopaedic Center is smaller, but this building’s patients will have to go through that parking lot to get to this building. He thought it was an inconvenient design, and with all the trees in place, it could make for blind spots and confusion.
Member Kocan confirmed with Mr. Schmitt that the greensward space has not changed in size but property lines will dissect it.
Member Kocan asked about the lack of handicapped parking spaces along the south side. Mr. McGunn said that is the service entry area.
Member Kocan was bothered by the fact that the Planning Commission reviewed the Orthopaedic Center without knowing that a variance is necessary for this site’s driveway. Now the road can’t be moved to where it should be. She hoped that never happened again. She liked people to have the proper setbacks. She asked how the trees could be added to this area. Mr. Schmitt responded that there is a vacant lot between this property and the proposed hotel. This variance will be offset by the Planning Commission waiver for the plantings within four feet of the property line. As Mr. Lekas mentioned, they will be able to move trees around. With that said, there will be room in this area for trees. It will break the area up a bit. The property to the north must still meet its building setback, parking setback, etc. Mr. Schmitt said that a joint access would probably be encouraged for that area when the next plan comes forward. Had the Planning Department looked at this segment as a roadway, it theoretically could be right on the property line. The issue is that the Planning Department is considering the "road" a parking aisle. Mr. Schmitt said it was important for the Planning Commission to consider that the site will function as a whole. No one will see the "property lines." There will be no berms. There aren’t specific perimeter requirements. The Planning Department will concern itself with the driveway spacing, the clear vision, etc. He understood Member Kocan’s concern, but he said it was an odd interpretation. If they called it a road with a right-of-way, the Planning Department couldn’t mitigate the area. In this scenario, the Applicant is providing additional setback elsewhere on the site – maintaining the same amount of green space, even though it’s not in the right location.
Member Kocan asked about the southerly exit of the Orthopaedic Center, and whether the exit is just one way. Mr. McGunn explained that the plan is for the patient to be dropped off and the exit is one way. Member Kocan noted that with the landscaped islands, people cannot just cut through the parking lot without a certain amount of control. She was more concerned that clear vision be maintained more so than ample landscaping. She said the Applicant must be very careful with this design. Member Kocan also noted that Providence has proposed wider than normal islands. She was concerned that this site was overbuilt. Others have tried to reassure her that the parking islands will break that up. She supported the motion.
Member Kocan asked whether a statement should be added to the motion about the maintenance of the islands. Mr. Schmitt said the Planning Commission could do so if they desired. The Applicants have indicated they have an agreement in the works. City Attorney David Gillam thought that the same language from the previous motion should be included in this motion. [Transcriber’s note: This language was not part of the Orthopaedic Center motion but part of the discussion.]
Chair Cassis thought the building was beautiful. The bricks are complementary. He had no issues with the height. He didn’t think there were issues with setbacks because this is a campus.
ROLL CALL VOTE FOR THE MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING, SP06-21, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND SECONDED BY MEMBER WROBEL:
In the matter of the request of Michael L. McGunn for the Providence Hospital Physicians Medical Office Building, SP06-21, motion to grant approval of the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals variance for excessive building height (65 feet permitted, up to 78 feet proposed), with the main building being 65 feet and ancillary areas exceeding that height; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals variance to allow the loading zone in the side yard; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver for lack of parking lot setback, with no net loss of setback area on the site; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow plantings within four feet of common property lines with the proposed Orthopaedic Center to the west; 5) A Planning Commission Finding that parking area and lighting are appropriate and that the Orthopaedic Center Building provides the screening desired under Section 2400, Footnote h.2; 6) Planning Commission approval of the requested Section 9 Façade Waiver to allow excessive use of cast stone materials; 7) A redesign of the site to add 19 parking spaces at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, which the Applicant has presented on a separate sketch; 8) A redesign of landscape plan to meet perimeter parking lot planting requirements, as indicated by the Applicant during their presentation; and 9) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Zoning Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Kocan:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING, SP06-21, STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND SECONDED BY MEMBER KOCAN:
In the matter of the request of Michael L. McGunn for the Providence Hospital Physicians Medical Office Building, SP06-21, motion to grant approval of the Stormwater Management Plan for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Member Avdoulos confirmed that a Woodland Permit motion was not necessary.
Chair Cassis called for a fifteen minute break.
4. NOVI TOWN CENTER OUTLOTS, SP06-26
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Novi Town Center Investors for recommendation to the City Council for Preliminary Site Plan and Section Nine Waiver, and approval of a Woodland Permit and Storm Water Management Plan. The subject property is located in Sections 14 and 23, at the northeast corner of Novi Road and Grand River Avenue, in the TC, Town Center District. The subject property is 53.71 acres for the overall Town Center Site and the Applicant is proposing to construct retail and restaurant pads on four outlots totaling approximately 26,000 square feet.
Planner Tim Schmitt described the project. There is a joint area under consideration. One of the sites is at the corner of Town Center Drive and Grand River. The site is zoned TC, Town Center, as are the properties to the north. The Master Plan calls for Town Center Commercial. To the east is Town Center Gateway. To the south is TC-1.
The far eastern edge of the Town Center site is a regulated woodland.
Four buildings are proposed. Building 4 is adjacent to Bank One. Building 3 is at Town Center and Grand River. Buildings 1, 2 and 4 are a mix of retail and restaurant – sit down style versus drive through. Building 3 is a general retail pad. It is separate from the other sites, so it doesn’t have adequate parking for a restaurant.
Mr. Schmitt said that Buildings 1 and 2 are in a vacant area. There was once a gas station on the corner. The site was once the City’s but they sold it to the Novi Town Center last year. Buildings 3 and 4 are further east. Mr. Schmitt said that the Planning Department is looking for more detail on the corner treatment at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. There will be outside seating areas for the restaurant site.
Mr. Schmitt said that the RCOC reconstructed a wall on the north side of Grand River last year. Ralph Nunez worked with the then-City Landscape Architect Lance Shipman on the design. That wall will be extended throughout the site, wherever a screen wall is required. The design pleases the Planning Department.
The Planning Commission provides a recommendation of this plan to City Council. It is in the TC District and is greater than five acres. The Planning Commission approves the Woodland Permit and Stormwater Management Plan because an appeal of those approvals is at the City Council level.
The Planning Review indicated minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. A City Council waiver is required for the setback throughout the site. The TC District requires a fifty foot setback from all exterior property lines. The Planning Department supports this waiver. It would facilitate a more urban design. It will better create a street wall effect. Buildings closer to the road have a traffic calming effect. It could create harmony throughout the site.
A ZBA variance will be required for the lack of a loading zone at Building 3. The proposed zone is short of what is the required square footage – 860 square feet. Building 3 requires a screen wall along Town Center Drive because it is technically a front yard. The Planning Department recommends that the wall be added, consistent with the Grand River wall. It is not just a landscaping requirement, but according to Section 2400 footnote h.2 it is required for the use of front yard parking. The Planning Department recommends the screen wall over a berm – it is a more urban design. It will fit into the context of the development. If the wall is not in place, the Applicant will need a ZBA variance. The Applicant must also provide a list of amenities (bench nodes, trash cans, light fixtures, etc.) complementing the existing design.
The Woodland Review indicated minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Landscape Review indicated the need for several City Council waivers. A City Council Waiver is allowed for pedestrian access from each of these buildings out to Grand River. Technically, they are not providing the wall in that location. The Planning Department supports pedestrian activity. A City Council Waiver is required for the use of ornamental fencing in a certain area of the plan. This is a minor addition on the plan and the Planning Department recommends approval. The Applicant must address the parking lot tree deficiency. In this case, there are additional trees and areas that need to be planted. The Applicant should be able to meet this requirement on the Final Site Plan submittal.
The Traffic Review and Engineering Review indicated minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Façade Review indicates the need for a Section Nine Waiver to address the use of cast stone. The Implementation Committee has taken up the review and revamp of the City Façade Ordinance.
The Fire Department Review indicated minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
Matthew Quinn represented the Applicant. He noted the redevelopment activity, i.e., Novi Town Center and Fountain Walk, and he said that is proof that the City of Novi is moving forward.
He introduced Madison Marquette Company as the management company of the Novi Town Center, the architects Wah Yee Associates, landscape architect The Design Team, engineers JCK, and traffic consultant Tetra Tech. The result of these companies working together will be a quality development.
Mr. Quinn described the overall site. The Grand River buildings will be close to Grand River to create the downtown effect. He said this complies with what the City asked for. There is a new green space being provided. There are walkways from Grand River into the central space. Walkways from Novi Road will be added. A walkway into the parking lot will split the two buildings. The activity in the center should not be walled off from the drive-by traffic. Combining the brick wall with the wrought iron fencing provides more openness. There will be outdoor cafes on the restaurant pads, and the area will provide a nice focal point for the corner.
Building 3 along Town Center Drive will be taken to the ZBA for the wall variance. There are mature trees and plantings in that area. They would prefer to fill the area in a bit more, but leave the vegetation in tact. If the front yard were Grand River, it might be different. The building is general retail, and if it is changed to a restaurant use, there is an easement in place with Discount Tire for the use of the established parking already in the area. More documents would be submitted in the future if a restaurant use comes forward for Building 3.
Building 4 is next to Chase Bank. The possible tenants, (e.g., Potbelly) that are interested are all similar to Panera Bread. The sister company of PF Chang is interested in the Novi Town Center. A hard ice cream company is interested. A family restaurant without alcohol is interested. Other retail uses are interested. The buildings are not proposed as purely speculative; there is a lot of leasing interest already.
Mr. Quinn was
No one from the audience wished to speak and no correspondence was received so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Kocan was not aware that some of the items involved with this request were approved years ago. She liked the restaurant amenities coming out closer to the road. She was most concerned about the intersection of Eleven Mile and Ingersol Drive, outside of the Coney Island. She asked Mr. Stephen Dearing, the City’s Traffic Consultant whether he had any suggestions. She wants stop signs added to the area. Drivers trying to back out of those spaces have great difficulty. Mr. Dearing said that he did not review how the new proposed buildings actually interfaced with the existing center; that said, he understood Member Kocan’s concern. There is a sharp curve right next to a junction. The corner was designed with old standards; parking wouldn’t be proposed in that area with today’s standards. It is a pre-existing condition, but he didn’t disagree with Member Kocan that some kind of traffic control device could help. He didn’t know whether stop signs or a redesign of the junction into a roundabout would be best for the area. It is likely that more attention should be paid to this corner.
Mr. Schmitt clarified that the new proposal is not entirely offsite of the Novi Town Center. They are proposing to modify the subject intersection. There will be changes to the landscape islands. They propose to adjust the curve. This intersection is within the purview of this project. The parking spaces are "offsite." City Attorney David Gillam said that the parking space modification is outside of the scope of this project. Offsite improvements require a substantial relationship between the proposal and offsite improvements. Even if it can be demonstrated the new site’s traffic will aggravate this location, he said that it didn’t matter because it really is outside the scope of this proposal.
Member Kocan countered that the plan will add traffic and will exacerbate the existing conditions. Mr. Quinn said removing the parking space is a significant problem – there are leasehold rights, parking calculations, etc. He didn’t think the owners would consider removing any parking spaces. He said that in the near future the City will see a redevelopment of the center portion of the center. At that time there will be significant traffic plan changes. He thought Member Kocan’s point was valid, but it would be addressed in the future. Member Kocan asked that the motion state there be continued discussion with traffic engineers as to whether or a roundabout or something could be considered for traffic calming purposes.
Member Kocan said it was wonderful to see this particular area filled with cars. She asked whether Building 4 would impact this site. Mr. Schmitt said that Bonefish Grill is 5,300 square feet – about the size of Building 4. Assuming a 50-50 mix, they have ample parking. Building 4 could actually be completely restaurant. Buildings 1 and 2 are in similar situations. Worst case scenario, they meet the Ordinance and have a bit extra to work with. For the overall site, the Novi Town Center is overparked. In this area, the parking will be tight, and closer to what the Ordinance intended. Mr. Schmitt noted that there is additional Bonefish parking available to the east and to the west. Mr. Schmitt said he would love to have a parking shortage at the Novi Town Center.
Member Kocan said it was a problem that the Main Street bars make it difficult for people to get into the grocery store. She thought that if this new development in Mervyn’s takes place, there will be a serious parking problem in this area.
Mr. Quinn said Building 4 really is planned for retail, not restaurant. This is daytime activity as opposed to nighttime dining activity.
Member Kocan said the façades of these buildings will be seen from all directions. She wanted the buildings or landscaping to be decorative enough. The loading zone areas must be covered. Mr. Schmitt responded that the Applicant has tried to address this. He said the next question is whether a national client, e.g., TGI Friday’s, will sign a lease and expect to make changes to the façade. He suggested that the Applicant comment on whether there are additional architectural features or landscape treatments that could better address the four sides of the building. The question becomes whether the proposal is in the spirit of what the Planning Commission and City Council want to see there.
Member Kocan liked green space, and she wants an adequate amount, but she didn’t want the building to be obscured by too much. There are loading zones that will be seen from westbound Grand River, southbound Novi Road, and southbound Eleven Mile.
Member Kocan said there will be sign issues. Will the City allow four signs to accommodate all four sides of the buildings? She said this is a visible corner; the Applicant should put his best foot forward.
Landscape Consultant Larry DeBrincat said that the Applicant is providing significant landscape areas on three sides. The loading zone areas are somewhat less treated in terms of landscaping. That is not a pedestrian area. Areas along the east side have planting beds for trees and perennials and shrubbery. He felt the building had significant foundation landscaping that will be very attractive.
Mr. Schmitt said that the west and south are considered the fronts of Buildings 1 and 2 though the east and north will be the buildings’ entrances. The south side is the front of Buildings 3 and 4. Member Kocan asked the Applicant to be cognizant of the location and the importance of the façade treatment.
Member Kocan thought the Building 3 loading zone looked small. She wondered if it would behoove the City to allow a variance to allow the dumpster to be six feet from the property line, to move it further west, to allow an increase in the loading zone. Mr. Schmitt said it was a good design question. He has never been a loading zone fan because in many situations the trucks don’t even use them. The suggestion is actually a fair trade-off. In light of the loading zone size, he guessed that large trucks would not use the area. JCK engineered the site to accommodate the City’s largest firetruck, which is comparable to a semi-truck. If the Planning Commission wishes, the Applicant can be asked to enlarge the loading area and push the dumpster back. Member Kocan responded that her concern was for the larger trucks. Mr. Quinn said the deliveries would come from box trucks more so than 18-wheelers.
Mr. Schmitt explained that the design of the Novi/Grand River corner was submitted to the Planning Commission for approval by a City committee. It was approved but was not ever built. This proposal is underwhelming compared to what was designed originally. The Planning Department has therefore requested an amenity package be submitted. Member Kocan asked whether a water feature could be added because it would be a jewel. A fountain would be impeccable. Just landscaping will not draw the peoples’ attention. Mr. Quinn said the original Novi Town Center grandiose plan encompassed a larger site. The County hadn’t taken its right-of-way. This corner is smaller and not amenable to a fountain. The design proposed is a year-round amenity. Fountains are not usable in the winter. Member Kocan said she would like a water feature. It can be heated and turned on all winter. Member Kocan hoped City Council entertains this concept.
Member Kocan asked about outdoor seating. Mr. Schmitt said the TC district allows outside seating as a permitted use, when ancillary to a restaurant.
Member Kocan was not a fan of dense yews being planted as a wall. Mr. DeBrincat said that the yews could be planted 18 inches on center to create a hedge, and effectively, this will damage the roots of the adjacent trees. It could be as impactful as a wall foundation. Member Kocan would prefer the wall; it continues the character of the area. Either a berm or wall is a requirement; it cannot be waived because this design is separate from the right-of-way requirement. It is because there is front yard parking. That is a ZBA issue. Mr. DeBrincat said that berms are not an option in the TC District. Walls are the standard, and brick pavers and shrubs can be substituted if approved by the Planning Commission. Member Kocan liked the design with the wall and ironwork that the Applicant has also proposed for elsewhere on the site.
Member Pehrson didn’t want the corner to be a bunch of brick on the corner. He hoped that whatever is designed for the corner provides a great visual and ties into the Town Center area, the downtown area and the Grand River corridor.
Member Pehrson asked from whom the waiver for the ornamental fencing would come. Mr. Schmitt responded that the Planning Commission needs to grant the waiver. Mr. DeBrincat added that the ornamental fencing would not do as much damage; just the piers would be placed. A significant hedge would be an issue, as would the wall footings. Mr. Schmitt said that the Planning Commission could provide the Town Center screening waiver in conjunction with the wall where it is avoiding trees. Member Pehrson asked Mr. Quinn if the Applicant would be willing to make this alteration. Mr. Quinn said that the ornamental screen wall appears to be acceptable; it could be worked out at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, as to what would be best.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Meyer:
In the matter of the request of Novi Town Center Investors for the Novi Town Center Outlots, SP06-26, motion to recommend approval to the City Council for the Preliminary Site Plan and Section Nine Façade Waiver, subject to: 1) A City Council Waiver for lack of building setback throughout the site, to allow buildings closer to Grand River Avenue; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for reduction in loading area for Building 3; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow breaks in right-of-way screen wall, providing pedestrian access into the site from Grand River Avenue; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow ornamental fencing near Buildings 1 and 2 in lieu of the right-of-way wall screen which would also continue to the Town Center Drive area; 5) A Planning Commission Section Nine Façade Waiver to allow cast stone on the buildings; 6) The Applicant redesigning the plan to provide the required parking lot tree plantings; 7) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; and 8) The Applicant working with Staff to consider a safer approach and entrance in front of the Coney Island traffic flow reasons, to improve safety; for the reason that the plan does meet the intent of the Master Plan.
Member Avdoulos emphasized the importance of the Novi Road/Grand River corner. He did not think the building on the northwest corner was up to par. He cited the Hummer dealership as a building that was adjusted at the request of the Planning Commission and City Council, and the craftsmanship and layout – things don’t line up. He said there should be a lot more attention paid to these buildings. This is a pedestrian zone. It will enhance Main Street. It will help businesses across the street. Member Avdoulos wanted to see diversity between each building. He didn’t know if he was comfortable with all four buildings looking exactly the same. The Town Center sits behind them and it is a monolithic, same-colored blob. He cited a project called College Park that is filled with many businesses, but each has a unique identity. He cited a new building in Northville as a multi-façade building that adds character to the area. He didn’t know what to suggest – change of brick color, cornice detail, change in window treatment, etc. He noted that there is some variation to the windows already.
Member Avdoulos said that the "downtown" feel of the area hasn’t worked yet because people drive it. When the residential component is finished at Meadowbrook, more pedestrian traffic will come. Member Avdoulos thought of the plaza in front of Poole’s Tavern in Northville. It is nice and slows down traffic. Member Avdoulos is pleased with where this design is going but he is concerned about traffic. He thought that the Novi Town Center management should adjust as necessary – if the Coney corner needs stop signs or speed bumps to improve safety, then that would be appropriate.
Member Avdoulos said he too was a bit concerned that each building has four active sides. However, he felt that the developer has located the housekeeping items in the most appropriate spots.
Member Avdoulos wondered if these new buildings would breed life into the Novi Town Center. He noted that future Town Center re-development will address that. That will take this project into account as well. Ell-shaped designs tend to work – people can see in and a point is created that draws people in. An H-shape sandwiched between to ell-shapes is left out. This proposal is going in the proper direction.
Member Meyer said that it is true that the Detroit stage coach stopped at this corner on its way to Lansing. He suggested that it would be wonderful if there was a stagecoach of some kind at this corner. He thought it would make a great monument and a great tribute to downtown Novi. He said that no one walks around Novi and they do in Northville and Plymouth. People will do it if the City is user-friendly, which includes an aesthetic piece.
Chair Cassis was delighted to see something happening. From the beginning, the Novi Town Center was not architected well. He said this important land will hopefully assume a character that draws people in.
Chair Cassis spoke to the future restaurateurs. He said they were getting microcosmic opinions of their future customers. He suggested they listen to the suggestions and take them to heart. These owners will want customers who return again and again. Think about these amenities and the fountain, facades and the layout of the buildings.
Chair Cassis was happy about the setback. He built a restaurant across the street right on the lot line. That was in coordination with the existing neighboring hotel. The hope was the future buildings in the area would be built on the lot line. It will help create the downtown feeling. He wished for a fountain because he said it will bring more customers. What will distinguish Novi Town Center from the people across the street? He encouraged them to make something great of their site so people will say they want to come because they can sit outside and enjoy the fountain and outside amenities.
Mr. DeBrincat said that the interior parking lot landscaping could also be an issue. The Applicant indicated that they were providing a substantial amount, but there are areas less than 300 square feet or less than ten feet wide that can’t be counted. Mr. DeBrincat did not think that the Applicant was counting the appropriate areas. Mr. Schmitt said the Planning Department suggestion would be for the Applicant to redesign the parking lot to meet the requirements. He couldn’t recommend a waiver at this time, due to the fact that the extent of such a waiver is unknown. Mr. Quinn said that the Applicant will comply with the Ordinance. Chair Cassis asked whether, "The Applicant continuing to work with the City in order to comply with the interior landscape requirements" should be added to the motion. Member Pehrson and Member Meyer agreed to the language.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON NOVI TOWN CENTER OUTLOTS, SP06-26, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER MEYER:
In the matter of the request of Novi Town Center Investors for the Novi Town Center Outlots, SP06-26, motion to recommend approval to the City Council for the Preliminary Site Plan and Section Nine Façade Waiver, subject to: 1) A City Council Waiver for lack of building setback throughout the site, to allow buildings closer to Grand River Avenue; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for reduction in loading area for Building 3; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow breaks in right-of-way screen wall, providing pedestrian access into the site from Grand River Avenue; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow ornamental fencing near Buildings 1 and 2 in lieu of the right-of-way wall screen which would also continue to the Town Center Drive area; 5) A Planning Commission Section Nine Façade Waiver to allow cast stone on the buildings; 6) The Applicant redesigning the plan to provide the required parking lot tree plantings; 7) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; 8) The Applicant working with Staff to consider a safer approach and entrance in front of the Coney Island traffic flow reasons, to improve safety; and 9) The Applicant continuing to work with the City in order to comply with the interior landscape requirements; for the reason that the plan does meet the intent of the Master Plan. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON NOVI TOWN CENTER OUTLOTS, SP06-26, WOODLAND PERMIT MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of the request of Novi Town Center Investors for the Novi Town Center Outlots, SP06-26, motion approve the Woodland Permit subject to additional information being provided and City Council’s approval of the Preliminary Site Plan; for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON NOVI TOWN CENTER OUTLOTS, SP06-26, STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of the request of Novi Town Center Investors for the Novi Town Center Outlots, SP06-26, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to City Council’s approval of the Preliminary Site Plan, for the reason that the plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. FOUNTAIN WALK NORTH DEMOLITION, SP06-29
Consideration of the request of HHT Devco, LLC, for recommendation to City Council for Preliminary Site Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 15, west of Novi Road and south of Twelve Mile in the RC, Regional Commercial District. The subject property is 67.2 acres for the entire development and the Applicant proposes to demolish a large portion of the vacant building "D" at Fountain Walk and construct associated parking and landscaping.
2. FOUNTIAN WALK SOUTH DRIVE, SP06-25
Consideration of the request of HHT Devco, LLC, for recommendation to City Council for Preliminary Site Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 15, west of Novi Road and south of Twelve Mile in the RC, Regional Commercial District. The subject property is 67.2 acres for the entire development and the Applicant proposes to modify the pedestrian and vehicle circulation on the southern portion of the existing Fountain Walk development and construct associated parking and landscaping.
Planner Jason Myers addressed the Planning Commission. He said both of these site plans require recommendations to City Council because both are in the Regional Commercial District. He described the Fountain Walk’s location and noted that it was surrounded by public rights-of way: Twelve Mile, Cabaret, Donelson and Fountain Walk. Adjacent or close to the site are West Oaks I and II, Residence Inn, Telcom Credit Union, Liberty Park, Stoneridge Office Park and Carlton Forest.
Mr. Myers showed the Planning Commission where the building is that is proposed to be demolished. He located the area for the south drive.
The property is master planned for Regional Commercial. West Oaks and the hotel are master planned for PD-2 Land Use. To the north and west the area is master planned for residential. To the south, across the expressway, is the Master Plan designation of Downtown West. The zoning district for Fountain Walk and West Oaks is RC, Regional Commercial. There is a section of the area zoned Conference. There is land zoned OST to the west. Land to the north is zoned OS-1. The Liberty Park area is zoned R-A, Residential Acreage. South of I-96 is I-2, General Industrial.
Mr. Myers showed an aerial of the general existing conditions. He located the pedestrian area and the landscaping area. Both areas will be modified, as the valet area is being moved elsewhere. Vehicles will be introduced to what is now a pedestrian area and landscaping will be added. Mr. Myers showed some pictures to the Planning Commission.
The Fire Department Review and the Traffic Review do not recommend approval. The Applicant has agreed to provide a fifty-foot outside turning radii throughout the interior portion of the new vehicle pathway. The other issue is that City Council must grant a waiver for the drive width – 26 feet are required, and the Applicant is proposing 22 feet between five parallel parking spaces on either side. 22 feet is considered sufficient when there is no adjacent parking.
City Council must find that the Subdivision standards for interior streets are acceptable as review standards for the proposed road drive, in terms of landscaping. This is something that does not exactly fit the City’s Landscape Ordinance. It is up to the Planning Commission and City Council to agree with the Staff’s and Consultant’s interpretation.
Mr. Myers said that City Council must also grant a waiver for parking area landscaping. The intent of the Ordinance should be met, but this is a determination that should be made. Mr. Myers noted that the waivers come from City Council, not the Planning Commission.
The portion of the building slated for demolition is currently vacant. It is between Chuck E. Cheese and the Skate Park. A certain area will be turned into parking and associated landscaping. In order to screen the loading zone in the courtyard, the Applicant is proposing a row of deciduous trees and a screen fence. The reviews on this site plan recommend approval, subject to a City Council Waiver for two-foot contours on the landscaping plan. The Consultant does not feel it is necessary for the Applicant to provide them in this case. It is a requirement of the Ordinance, so a waiver is necessary. Also, a Section Nine Waiver is required for the façade materials. The Applicant plans on matching the existing buildings. The Consultant supports that request.
Landscape Architect Jim Ludwig from McKenna Associates addressed the Planning Commission. He stated that the owner of the site is HT Devco.
Mr. Ludwig showed the south plan. The owner acquired the property about one year ago. After a thorough assessment, they have designed a plan that could improve their site. It is an urgent matter for them, that they bring pedestrian traffic to the interior section of the site. They believe the original plan had some major design flaws. Mr. Ludwig asserted that the distance from the north end to the south end is over 1,200 feet [though it is about half that distance]. A typical pedestrian walking environment is limited to 400 feet or less. Compounding the problem is the vertical scale of the architecture. The owner wishes to bring vehicular access to make the pedestrian environment livelier. The street will provide visual access. The owner proposes on-street parking, which is termed "Opportunity Parking." It is not there to provide quantity parking, but rather to encourage shoppers to cruise through the area. Shoppers can see what stores are there, what is open, who’s in the area, etc. It is a classic tool in a pedestrian-oriented retail environment to bring traffic into the area. By traffic, Mr. Ludwig was speaking of a drive aisle, similar to a parking lot drive aisle. It simply connects the vast areas of the project. It is not intended to be a major vehicular traffic zone.
Mr. Ludwig said that the central pedestrian drop-off area is a new element to the plan. A small traffic circle would have a pedestrian drop-off zone, identified by specific custom painting patterns, bollards, planting areas, dropped curbs, defined bump-outs, and raised pedestrian crosswalks. This area will safely mix light vehicular traffic and an enhanced pedestrian environment. Other elements drawn into the area include street lights, narrow, hyper- columnar trees, benches, seating areas and other elements designed to bring the area to scale and make it more pedestrian friendly. The goal is to prove to the existing successful tenants that the new owners are committed to the center. They want to enliven the environment to attract new tenants.
Mr. Ludwig has been speaking with all of the Staff and Consultants about the pending issues. Many issues have been mitigated or reduced. Some of the issues tend to conflict with one another. The Fire Marshal wants to drive through the area uninhibited; the Traffic Consultant wants the area further defined with curbs. He wants to isolate the pedestrians. The owner is working with both of them to satisfy their desires. The issue tends to revolve around the geometry of the traffic circle. The width of the drive aisle has been discussed. AASHTO has been working on new standards for this type of environment over the past few years. Retail environments seem to thrive when the drive lane is designed on a smaller scale. Primarily, this is because it is more pedestrian friendly. The narrow width reduces the speed of traffic. Special paving features are provided. People become interested and look around. They look in the shops. People walk around more. Because of these elements, centers around the country are thriving. One example in Rochester Hills is a one-sided shopping center that was turned into a two-sided center. The internal street that was added created a pedestrian-rich center.
Mr. Ludwig said they shared this concept with the Planning Department early on in the planning of this project. He showed some pictures of the planned development. He showed pictures of the current buildings with a façade enhancement that is not currently in the plans. They are proposing the street painting and the banners, seating and lighting. The façades would be upgraded once more tenants are signed on. [–end of tape--] Mr. Ludwig said that this was in the opposite direction. Chair Cassis asked Mr. Ludwig to crystallize the intent of trying to open a road up through the development. Mr. Ludwig said it would provide better access to the stores in that area. Right now the walking distance to this area of the center is double the typical shopper’s walk. There will be a drop-off area. Chair Cassis asked whether people would be tempted to use this area as a shortcut, thereby creating another problem for the center. Mr. Ludwig responded that it wouldn’t be a shortcut to anywhere.
Mr. Ludwig said that there is a large sidewalk in the area; by reducing the sidewalk to twelve feet, the shoppers will reconnect with the urban feel of the center. The size becomes digestible and pedestrian-identifiable.
Mr. Ludwig said that the owner is highly motivated to improve this site. They want to provide enhancements that ensure the tenants that this new landlord is committed to the center. They want to do this right away. They purchased a troubled property and now they are willing to put a lot of time, money and effort into this site to bring it around. There is a heightened emergency.
Tom Miller addressed the Planning Commission. He represented the owner of the site. Member Lipski asked for clarification on the site plan. He asked about the east-west road within the center, and he asked whether the new road would connect to it. Mr. Miller located the area for Member Lipski and showed him the drop-off area that is proposed to be altered. As a driver goes north into the project, there would be a central drop-off. Turning left from the drop-off point would take a person to the theater. Going further north would take one right to the proposed demolition area.
Member Lipski said that the road near the skate park works in a similar fashion as the proposed road. It doesn’t seem to be that successful as a cut-through. People do park in the parallel parking spaces, and it does allow for greater access into the center.
Mr. Miller said that people on the south side of the center are "walled off" from the northern portion. A shopper has to skirt the perimeter in order to visit the entire center. This has made it hard to lease space in the "dead zone." An opening would create an exciting streetscape. This is not a "cut-through." It allows the shopper to go from the southerly parking through the center to the north side. The fountain would be removed but they discussed replacing it with some other kind of feature.
Member Lipski said that he has been involved with the legal end of retail centers for several years. One of the things that never made sense about this mall is its lack of recognition of needing a warm climate year round for its success. He thought the Applicant was going in the right direction now.
Member Lipski noted that Cold Stone Creamery has increased the sidewalk traffic. This center’s socialization occurs between Godaiko, Bamboo and Coldstone. Essentially, this proposal eliminates this one area where gathering is actually working. He wanted the Applicant to address this statement.
Member Lipski asked again why this proposal makes the center better. Mr. Miller responded that they are looking for the "Main Street" feel. The distance between the north and south is too far. If the center is opened up with the right sized drive aisle and possibly some parking, the streetscape gets going. Then the "gathering" feel can be carried further from the southern edge into the center of the complex. The area is very wide already (sixty feet), and therefore the interest in the area can be increased simply by adding pavers, crosswalks, drop-off areas, etc.
Member Lipski said that the reply created a better picture for him, though he did not know if this was the best way to salvage this center. He just couldn’t figure out how this could work better without taking an additional ten feet off the buildings. Mr. Miller said that there had been discussions about whether one side of the street could be recessed. That would be more of an old-school approach.
Mr. Ludwig added that the new design would provide 12-14 foot wide sidewalks – ideal for a retail environment. The road would be 24 feet wide. Firetrucks will be able to get through the area. The new design takes on the look of a village or an urban downtown shopping center. Mr. Ludwig said that the design is unique in that it is not a copy of another design, but the concept of having this type of road has been done many, many times.
Chair Cassis said that the Planning Commission was not going to stop the Applicant from doing this, and if the design helped them, that would be great.
Member Wrobel said he understood what was being proposed, but he looked at it from a practical standpoint and he saw more headaches than positive attributes. It is an artificial road going nowhere. There are designated drop-off points, but he thought the entire area would become a drop-off area. The traffic through this area will be outrageous. He cited Maple in downtown Birmingham as a zoo, and he felt this was similar. Traffic creeps, people stop wherever they want, etc. Member Wrobel thought it was a good idea to bring more exposure to this area of the center, but he didn’t see more positive than negative in the proposal.
Member Meyer was concerned for pedestrian safety. It may be appropriate to get cars in and out of this area, but he was afraid it wouldn’t be safe. People park all the time on the east/west road; what makes the Applicant think people won’t do the same on this new road? He pictured a major vehicular traffic jam as well as a people jam. He was not convinced that this is the best for this Fountain Walk area. In one sense, the center has become very successful with the recreational sites and the restaurants. He was not sure he could approve of this plan. He needed to be further convinced that these changes will improve the flow of traffic and the selling factor of Fountain Walk.
Chair Cassis asked City Attorney David Gillam about the role of the Planning Commission. Chair Cassis’ opinion was that the Planning Commission was not in a position to stop the project, if it met the intent of the Ordinance. They could not stop the project based on the Planning Commission’s perception of the plan’s practicality. Mr. Gillam responded that Chair Cassis’ point was well taken. In terms of what will be effective or what the development becomes or the Applicant’s ability to rejuvenate the center, that is not the decision to be made by the Planning Commission. Chair Cassis did not want the Planning Commission to overstep its authority. Mr. Gillam clarified that the Planning Commission is evaluating the proposal in the context of what the existing Ordinance requirements are. The Planning Commission’s function is to make a recommendation to City Council as to the proposed site plan amendments, taking into consideration all of the comments provided by the Consultants and Staff.
Member Avdoulos summarized that neither the Staff nor Consultants had any major concerns regarding the demolition, and that the façade was acceptable. The owner’s response letter addresses most everything. The only issue they had was with the proposed plant material made by Ms. Hill. Member Avdoulos did not know if that was a big ticket item.
Member Avdoulos understood the owner’s interest in improving the pedestrian activity in to the site. Certain geometries of retail or any business have their own levels of success, based on their application. Member Avdoulos felt like the other Planning Commission members when he first saw this proposal. He cited Northland and Wonderland as two outdoor plans that didn’t work. He said that Birch Run works because it is a destination point and more of a strip mall than an outdoor mall. The owner’s intent is to draw people further into the complex, and if that helps the northerly businesses, then the effort is a plus.
Member Avdoulos has reviewed the plan at length. When he pieced the two projects together, he started to feel a greater comfort level with the drive-through lane proposed. He suggested that the Planning Commission looks at examples that they are familiar with – a close example is downtown Northville. The area is very narrow, although there is some parallel parking. Member Avdoulos said the size of the proposed sidewalks reminds him of downtown Disney, where the scale is pretty much the same. Member Avdoulos said that the worst that can happen with this design is that unforeseen issues arise after the project is complete, so the owner has to place bollards at the entrance and return the area to a wide pedestrian path. Member Avdoulos wants to see this design become successful. There are elements involved that will bring on the Main Street feel. There are businesses in the area that will support that notion.
Member Avdoulos was concerned that that the change might affect the congregation areas in a negative way for some of the area’s customers, e.g., Cold Stone Creamery. There is a large area in front of Emagine and the Great Indoors. He thought these areas would be improved if they too were enhanced.
Member Avdoulos liked that this road will connect to the east/west road. There is also a drive through to the parking area that is nicely landscaped. The access works to pull people into the area. He didn’t think this design was any worse than what is already there. There are elements that do work, and if this plan can enhance those, all the better.
Member Avdoulos was concerned about certain traffic issues. He didn’t think that the pedestrian orientation was lost, but it becomes better defined with the walks. However, adding the traffic element, i.e., the younger kids who frequent the movies and Van’s, could be a problem. Cruising could be a problem. The area includes Lucky Strikes, a nightclub, and those added to nice summer weather and young people could result in a clog.
Member Avdoulos summarized that this is an enhancement that allows the opportunity to have a bit more interaction between the interior space and the public. It does add a potential for traffic accidents, though he wasn’t saying that would happen – it’s just a concern. Member Avdoulos’ recommendation to City Council would be to take those issues into consideration, but for them to look at the positive attributes. After all, there is a safety valve that if it doesn’t work as well as expected, then the larger pedestrian area can be recreated without anything more than safety bollards. Member Avdoulos wanted to see Fountain Walk be successful, though it is going in the same direction as the Novi Town Center, i.e., taking out buildings. Member Avdoulos did not look at this project as a detriment. There will be an interruption to the center while the project is completed.
Member Avdoulos said the area has some nice amenities. There are nice trees. There are string lights over the road. Maybe parallel parking in the area could create more congestion. He thought this element should be further discussed with City Council. If there is no fountain, the center cannot be called Fountain Walk. This is an opportunity to create a memorable image for the center.
Member Avdoulos also hoped that the 50’s Festival will work in this area, though he didn’t know what the relationship was for that. Member Avdoulos felt he could give a positive recommendation to City Council.
Member Kocan had no problem with the demolition. She understood that the owner was trying to improve the interior traffic. It is not part of this proposal, but she said that the southwest handicapped parking spaces needed to be redistributed so that handicapped parking was more readily available for this area. She said it would be easy enough to re-stripe and move those spaces into a more convenient area. She thought more should be placed by the two existing spaces, and this would also make the traversing easier and safer for these particular customers.
Member Kocan said that a loading area will now be exposed. There will be trees and a screening fence, but Member Kocan did not know from what the fence would be made. Mr. Ludwig said it would be a six-foot privacy fence made of vinyl – industrial grade. It would be opaque. Additionally, there is a solid hedgerow of hornbeam – these are small fifteen-foot tall trees. Member Kocan thought that it was unfortunate that about the only green space there is will be torn out for this project, but she conceded that at least some green space will be added with the new design. Member Kocan thought that the proposal complied with the Ordinances. It’s too bad that the building has to be demolished because it is not performing.
Member Kocan could not recommend the parallel parking up and down the street. When she drives through Northville, she finds it to be hazardous when a car in front of her is trying to back into a parking space. There are also distractions. The road is not wide enough to accommodate the handicapped. For ten parking spaces and the squeezing of the road size, Member Kocan cannot recommend the design.
Member Kocan discussed whether there should be a separation or setback of the sidewalk from the road. There was a request for a five-foot setback. Mr. Myers said that the Ordinance requirement is for the five foot setback when a private road is built. In this case, the Planning Department is not sure if this is a requirement, but it has been pointed out for the Planning Commission to consider. Member Kocan said that some of the walkway is being removed, but the suggestion does accomplish a number of things. The five-foot setback can provide for more landscaping. It would deter people from stopping and dropping people off. Because the area is now proposed for a walkway as opposed to a gathering space, people need to be encouraged to continue walking. There needs to be designated areas for congregating. If a group of kids congregate in a narrow section, people will have to walk in the street.
Member Kocan thought that the turn-around in the middle is a nice feature, but she saw it as a dangerous element. She understood that people should know the area requires a slow traveling speed, but they will be in a hurry and they will want to get around cars ahead of them. She wanted to promote pedestrian safety. The five-foot setback was important to her.
Member Kocan said that the change in elevation of the crosswalks up and down the road concerned her if the design impeded handicapped accessibility. She now understands that this occurs only in the road and there would be rubber up and down. Mr. Ludwig said the design is not a six-inch curb, but a three-inch ramp to the raised crosswalk that would act as a speed-bump of sorts. It cuts the drop in half. It is easier for disabled people to cross. It also slows down the cars. These elements are all designed to work together.
Mr. Ludwig said there have been a lot of references to Northville, the city in which his office is located. He said that the road carries 15-20,000 cars per day and is a completely different environment than the interior of Fountain Walk.
Member Kocan said it was important that the speed be kept slow. When City Council looks at this plan, she would like them to deliberate on where the grass section should be and whether there should be a five-foot setback. This made sense to her.
Member Kocan said everyone wants to see this center succeed, and the new owners did inherit a challenge.
Mr. Ludwig said this concept is rather popular. Easton Town Center in Columbus is successful. "Lifestyle Center" is the phrase Mr. Ludwig wished to coin. Cracker Park is more in scale with Fountain Walk and is in Cleveland. The streets are scaled precisely like Fountain Walk. Legacy Village is also similar. This genre of mall is becoming popular.
Member Pehrson asked Member Kocan if she would like to see the handicapped spaces moved to the interior of the new portion. Member Kocan did not know if she could specifically request that. Director of Planning Barbara McBeth suggested that the Planning Commission rely on the efforts of the Building and Planning Departments to consider the redistribution of the handicapped parking spaces.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of Fountain Walk North Demo, SP06-29, motion to recommend approval of the Preliminary Site Plan to City Council subject to: 1) A City Council Waiver of the requirement for two-foot contours being shown on plan; 2) City Council’s approval of a Section 9 Façade Waiver for façade materials, given that the proposed concrete block will match the existing building; and 3) All of the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan meets the original intent of the area and is compliant with all the other Ordinances.
Chair Cassis thought it was great that the new owners were taking on such a challenge. They are trying to give this mall some life. Chair Cassis was more comfortable about the project after hearing from Member Avdoulos. Chair Cassis’ concern was the traffic in light of late-arriving theater patrons. Those customers tend to run in the direction of the theaters. There are so many people coming at the same time (movie start time) that it will create a traffic jam in the area. This could overshadow the smaller shops and create problems for them at peak movie times. These are just Planning Commission comments for the Applicant to consider. Chair Cassis said the Applicant has the right to consider or not consider the opinions offered at the table.
Chair Cassis reiterated that the City wants to see this center reclaim its life.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON FOUNTAIN WALK NORTH DEMO PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN RECOMMENDATION MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER WROBEL:
In the matter of Fountain Walk North Demo, SP06-29, motion to recommend approval of the Preliminary Site Plan to City Council subject to: 1) A City Council Waiver of the requirement for two-foot contours being shown on plan; 2) City Council’s approval of a Section 9 Façade Waiver for façade materials, given that the proposed concrete block will match the existing building; and 3) All of the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan meets the original intent of the area and is compliant with all the other Ordinances. Motion carried 9-0.
Member Pehrson asked whether the turning radius was acceptable for fire apparatuses. Traffic Consultant Steve Dearing said that the "perfect circle" design should be somewhat distorted into an oval – that would make the Fire Department a bit happier. He also thought that the drop-off area should be better delineated so that it didn’t become a "free-for-all."
Mr. Ludwig said that the area is a key focal point of the site. The traffic circle without the drop-off didn’t make sense to him. There are many different options to consider, and Mr. Ludwig was willing to work with the City’s and his own consultant to arrive at the best design. This design includes an area for theater drop-off, and it is larger than the previous valet drop-off point. There is a stacking area which is designed to handle quite a bit of traffic. Mr. Ludwig said that the owner wanted to maintain the parallel parking along the road. They believe that it makes a retail environment more attractive if there is an opportunity to park in proximity to the stores. It is also a traffic calming element because it does slow the traffic down. They would probably not sacrifice the project for the parking spaces, but they are more than "just ten parking spaces."
Member Pehrson asked if the parallel parking would be lost if the setback of five feet is required. Mr. Myers said that wasn’t necessarily so; more likely, the sidewalk would be reduced by five feet. If the area is considered as a parking aisle, sidewalks abut parking aisles all the time. Professionally, Mr. Myers did not think it was necessary in a slow traffic environment. Putting landscaping in that area may just get trampled.
Mr. Dearing said that they would like the area to be pedestrian only, but if traffic and parking is introduced, the spaces should be designed correctly. The doors would open into the maneuvering lane. That is why the City’s standards look for additional width. Technically, the added width is for the parking, not the vehicle lane. An eleven-foot lane is fine. That shy distance is for the parking stall. If parking is going to be there, it would help to add a deflection in the road. It would make it more interesting. The parallel parking should not be on both sides at the same time. Maybe the stalls should alternate and the road should meander a bit. That way, only eight feet is being used, but there is a balance to the pedestrian areas. It will create visual interest. Landscaping can be positioned appropriately. Fundamentally, as much space as possible is being preserved for the pedestrians. Member Pehrson thought it was a better approach with a lot of merit.
Member Pehrson said he would propose the motion as such. He felt there was enough information at the table for City Council to understand the position of the Planning Commission. His intention was not to preclude the Applicant from being successful, rather they want to ensure safety and improve the balance in the area.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Lipski:
In the matter of Fountain Walk South Drive, SP06-25, motion to recommend approval of the Preliminary Site Plan to City Council subject to: 1) A City Council Waiver of parking lot maneuvering lane width (26 feet required when adjacent to parallel parking, 22 feet proposed); 2) A Planning Commission Finding that Subdivision standards for interior streets are acceptable review standards for the proposed road/drive; 3) A City Council Waiver for parking area landscape requirements; 4) A City Council Waiver for foundation planting requirements; 5) Provision of sufficient turning space near central feature for a fire apparatus, with the continuing effort of the Applicant and City to come up with the best case scenario; and 6) All of the comments in the Staff and Consultants’ review letters; for the reason that it does meet the intent for the developer to more control of his facilities and it does meet all of the other Ordinance requirements. Motion carried 7-2 (Yes: Avdoulos, Cassis, Gutman, Kocan, Lipski, Lynch, Pehrson; No: Meyer, Wrobel).
Member Kocan asked that, "…as long as the parallel parking is staggered" be considered for the first stipulation. Member Pehrson and Member Lipski agreed.
Chair Cassis noted that there could be a problem with waiters or waitresses parking in those spots all day long. He asked the Applicant to consider that problem.
Member Kocan asked if, without acknowledgement of the five-foot setback issue, the Planning Commission was recommending that the Applicant comply with the Ordinance as that is what the members believe is required. Member Kocan said that she wanted to ensure that the City Council members knew about this issue. Mr. Myers said that he did not think that there needed to be a waiver for that requirement because the Planning Department determined that the requirement doesn’t really apply. It was a discussion point. It could be interpreted under certain circumstances that it does apply, but since the area is being described as a parking lot aisle, the standard does not apply. Member Kocan was still on the fence as to whether it was a safety issue. She thought one of the Consultant’s reviews asked the Applicant to move the sidewalk. She said if the motion requires compliance with the reviews, she was seeking clarity on this issue. Mr. Gillam agreed with Mr. Myers. If the Planning Department has determined that this is not a requirement of the Ordinance, then it will only be required if it is a specific stipulation in the motion.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON FOUNTAIN WALK SOUTH DRIVE, SP06-25, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN RECOMMENDATION MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LIPSKI:
In the matter of Fountain Walk South Drive, SP06-25, motion to recommend approval of the Preliminary Site Plan to City Council subject to: 1) A City Council Waiver of parking lot maneuvering lane width (26 feet required when adjacent to parallel parking, 22 feet proposed), as long as the parallel parking is staggered; 2) A Planning Commission Finding that Subdivision standards for interior streets are acceptable review standards for the proposed road/drive; 3) A City Council Waiver for parking area landscape requirements; 4) A City Council Waiver for foundation planting requirements; 5) Provision of sufficient turning space near central feature for a fire apparatus, with the continuing effort of the Applicant and City to come up with the best case scenario; and 6) All of the comments in the Staff and Consultants’ review letters; for the reason that it does meet the intent for the developer to more control of his facilities and it does meet all of the other Ordinance requirements. Motion carried 7-2 (Yes: Avdoulos, Cassis, Gutman, Kocan, Lipski, Lynch, Pehrson; No: Meyer, Wrobel).
3. APPROVAL OF THE MAY 10, 2006 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Kocan, seconded by Member Wrobel:
VOICE VOTE ON MAY 10, 2006 MINUTES APPROVAL MADE BY MEMBER KOCAN AND SECONDED BY MEMBER WROBEL:
Motion to approve the minutes of May 10, 2006. Motion carried 9-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
There were no Matters for Discussion.
There were no Supplemental Issues.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Pehrson:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at 1:00 a.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 06/19/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 06/28/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
TUE 07/04/06 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON 07/10/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 07/11/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 07/12/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 07/24/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 07/26/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
TUE 08/01/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 08/09/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 08/14/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, July 10, 2006 Signature on File
Date Approved: July 26, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date