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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 p.m.
Present: Members John Avdoulos, Brian Burke, Victor Cassis, Andrew Gutman, David Lipski, 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; Brian Coburn, Engineer; David Gillam, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Pehrson led the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A discussion regarding the OST zoning and parcel 50-22-15-126-020 was added to the Agenda under Matters for Discussion, as requested by Member Pehrson.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER WROBEL:
Motion to approve the Agenda of August 9, 2006 as amended. Motion carried 9-0.
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 there was a memorandum in their packets regarding the banks and gas stations located throughout Novi. This information was provided at the request of Chair Cassis. Member Meyer noted that the gas station at Ten Mile and Meadowbrook was omitted from the list. Member Avdoulos said that the layout of the banks and gas stations validated the importance of the Master Plan, and the future planning of the City.
Member Avdoulos suggested that at some point in the future, it would be interesting to see a map of the where the largest buildings in the City are located. This information would also help with the future Master Plan updates.
Member Wrobel suggested that banks on every corner have become the trend of this decade, much like gas stations were the corner choice in the 60s and 70s. Member Wrobel wondered whether there was any mechanism in place to limit the future placement of banks. City Attorney David Gillam said if a bank met the zoning requirements of the site, then nothing could be done. It really is a question of what the market will bear.
The Committee Choice form was also in the Planning Commission packets, with everyone’s choices noted thereon. A corrected façade review letter was provided on the Fifth Third Bank project.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
1. WESTGATE VI - FACADE, SP06-40
Consideration of the request of Polestar Construction for Section 9 Waiver for façade materials approval. The subject property is located in Section 3 with frontage on both West Park Drive and Pontiac Trail in the RM-1, Low-Density, Low-Rise Multiple-Family Residential District. The subject property is approximately 20.33 acres.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON CONSENT AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND SECONDED BY MEMBER PEHRSON:
Motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Motion carried 9-0.
1. DL BIOTECH, SP06-35
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Synergy Group Inc., for Preliminary Site Plan, Special Land Use, Woodland Permit, and Stormwater Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 4, on Peary Court in the Beck North Corporate Park, Phase I, in the I-1, Light Industrial District. The subject property is 1.33 acres and the Applicant is proposing to construct a 12,000 sq. ft. office research building.
Planner Tim Schmitt said the project was located at the far northeastern end of the Peary Court cul-de-sac, which is one of the three cul-de-sacs in Phase I of Beck North Corporate Park along Hudson Drive. It is zoned Light Industrial and master planned for Light Industrial, as are the properties to the north, south and west. To the north is Phase II of the park, to the south is the Coordinated Measurement Specialists building, to the east is the nearly completed Bristol Corners and the under construction West Park Place. Both areas are master planned for Single Family Residential and built at their appropriate density (R-2). North of Biotech is a Conservation Easement dedicated with Phase I. There is a fifty-foot strip separating Bristol Corners from the park. It runs from West Road to The Springs Apartments, and west to the City of Wixom.
There are regulated woodlands on the north end of the site. A small finger of woodlands was removed when Peary Court was constructed. There is a wetland onsite, but the Applicant is not proposing any impacts.
The Planning Review notes that two ZBA variances are required. The site is under two acres, and therefore it is not permitted to have front yard parking. The Applicant has designed the building accommodate semi-truck traffic. The loading area is inside the building. There is not a good way to design the site, given its narrowness. The Planning Department supports the front yard parking request. A Noise Analysis would be required, but since everything but the dumpster is located inside the building, the Planning Department supports the request to waive the Noise Analysis requirement. The generator will be surrounded by walls. It has a high-strength muffler as well. The loading is inside.
The Planning Commission will need to make a finding that the front yard parking is compatible with other uses in the area, (Section 2400 footnote h). Two other neighboring sites have front yard parking.
The Woodland Review, Traffic Review, Fire Department Review and Engineering Review all noted minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Planning Commission is being asked to waive a berm requirement along Peary Court. The Applicant is proposing two wing walls, at the request of the Planning Department. Given the small area of right-of-way, a berm would not be very effective. The wing walls would provide a nice entrance into the parking lot and building.
Duane Day of Molecular Innovations addressed the Planning Commission. He also owns Innovative Research. He is a biotech entrepreneur. He resides in Novi and is pleased with the Novi school system.
Mr. Day was in chemical research for Henry Ford Hospital for twenty years. His company is a spin-off from his research. Their scope of work is within the field of blood coagulation proteins, trying to elucidate the basic mechanisms of blood clotting. In 1990 he began his own company. He used to purify blood proteins from the plasma; since that time there has been a huge transition with the advent of new techniques in molecular biology and the human genome project. They are now performing cutting-edge type work. They reached a point that they are now growing exponentially. They currently have ten employees but they anticipate thirty or forty employees down the road. His employees are all college graduates; some hold a PhD. These are highly technical, well-paid employees. The vibes Mr. Day feels is that Novi is excited to have this company.
Mr. Day will be working on gene cloning (not organism cloning) in humans and mice. These genes will be injected into insect cells to produce the proteins, which then turn out to be enzymes or enzyme-inhibitors. They are used by academic researchers worldwide and pharmaceutical companies in their research and development to augment their drug discovery programs. Some of the things his company has done include producing a protein used by Genentech Corporation to develop their second generation TPA, a clot-busting drug. He has some new patents pending that will propel his company forward.
Mr. Day said it was time for his company to grow. It was suggested that he go to Ann Arbor, but his employees live in Oakland County and it was more important to him that he keep his staff. Novi is close to the University of Michigan, with whom he collaborates, but it is also close to Wayne State and Michigan State. Novi is a nice location. He works with Pfizer, supplying them with reagents. Locating in Novi allows him to retain his employees but also tap into the talent in the Ann Arbor area. His sister company, Innovative Research, is an OEM distributor of animal plasma and serum products. The cutting edge work is done at Molecular Innovations.
Mr. Day pointed out that the work they will perform is the same as what he is currently doing in Southfield. They do not produce air or water pollution. They do not work with toxic or hazardous chemicals, only benign reagents.
Mr. Day said that he was selected as one of fifty Michigan companies to watch. He will have a ground breaking ceremony and invite Michigan dignitaries.
No one from the audience wished to speak and no correspondence was received so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Lynch confirmed that he could still be a part of this plan’s consideration even though he is a neighbor of Mr. Day.
Member Avdoulos was aware of this company’s production. He previously designed a $12,000,000 automated molecular cold storage system for Pfizer. This type of business is welcome in Novi.
Member Avdoulos said that the building was designed to be sympathetic to the site and its surroundings. It will have minimal impact on the residential development nearby. He supported the front yard parking request. It is not out of character with the park. The wall is acceptable. The building design is clean and simple. It will stand the test of time. Its lines are echoed into the floor plan. That is a nice soft layout. The easterly neighbors should be pleased with the quality and the sensitivity.
Member Pehrson asked what could happen if a new tenant moves in that needs a loading area. There is no other location for loading other than the front entrance, Mr. Schmitt replied. Because of the layout, there is excess space on the outside of the building. This space is earmarked for the parking area. The wetlands in the park are covered by a conservation easement; there would be little opportunity to alter this site and impact the wetlands.
Member Pehrson was pleased that the Applicant’s response letter stated they would comply with the wishes of the City.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of the request of the Synergy Group Inc. for DL Biotech, SP06-35, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for front yard parking on a site under two acres in size, given that the Applicant has tried to work inside the boundaries of the Ordinance and the property does provide a hardship relative to that [size requirement]; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for lack of a noise analysis, as all uses are within a completely enclosed building and there are no residential buildings that will be impacted; 3) A Planning Commission Finding that front yard parking is compatible with surrounding uses; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow a decorative wall in lieu of a right-of-way berm; 5) Compliance with the Special Land Use [provisions]; and 6) 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 Master Plan for Land Use.
Member Meyer thanked the Applicant for noting that the Novi school system that motivated him to remain in Novi.
Chair Cassis welcomed the Applicant to the community. The City is fortunate to have a company such as this.
roll call vote on dl biotech, sp06-35, Preliminary Site Plan motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of the request of the Synergy Group Inc. for DL Biotech, SP06-35, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for front yard parking on a site under two acres in size, given that the Applicant has tried to work inside the boundaries of the Ordinance and the property does provide a hardship relative to that [size requirement]; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for lack of a noise analysis, as all uses are within a completely enclosed building and there are no residential buildings that will be impacted; 3) A Planning Commission Finding that front yard parking is compatible with surrounding uses; 4) A Planning Commission Waiver to allow a decorative wall in lieu of a right-of-way berm; 5) Compliance with the Special Land Use [provisions]; and 6) 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 Master Plan for Land Use. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
roll call vote on dl biotech, sp06-35, Special Land Use motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member WROBEL:
In the matter of the request of the Synergy Group Inc. for DL Biotech, SP06-35, motion to approve the Special Land Use subject to: 1) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; and 2) Under Section 2516.2.c, a Planning Commission Finding that there is no detrimental impact to the existing thoroughfares, it is in compliance with the capabilities of the public services afforded to that site, the building does fit into the natural features and characteristics of the land and it [uses the land in a] socially and economically desirable manner; for the reason that the plan is otherwise in compliance with the Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
roll call vote on dl biotech, sp06-35, woodland permit motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of the request of the Synergy Group Inc. for DL Biotech, SP06-35, motion to approve the Woodland Permit subject to 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 Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
roll call vote on dl biotech, sp06-35, Stormwater Management Plan motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of the request of the Synergy Group Inc. for DL Biotech, SP06-35, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan is otherwise in compliance with the Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.207
The Public Hearing was opened for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council for an ordinance to amend Ordinance 97-18, as amended, the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, to modify parking requirements for retail uses.
Planner Jason Myers said these text amendments were prepared in response to a request made by City Council on May 22, 2006. Specifically, the standards for commercial centers and shopping centers were discussed at that meeting. As a result, City Council has asked the Planning Commission to consider this proposed text amendment and report back to them in September.
Mr. Myers distributed a memorandum that described the current retail parking standards for commercial centers and general retail as:
Under 400,000 square feet: 1:192 (one space per 192 square feet of gross leasable area)
400,001-600,000 square feet: 1:182
600,001-1,000,000 square feet: 1:172
Over 1,000,000 square feet: 1:222
General Retail: 1:200
The Planning Department looked at four outputs in preparation of this proposal.
One input reviewed was a February 2005 report prepared by Mark Spencer. This report described retail and office centers within the City. Most retail centers in Novi are under 400,000 square feet – actually very much smaller than that 400,000 square foot threshold. Most shopping centers are clustered around Grand River, Novi Road and I-96.
The Planning Commission may recall that The Taubman Company initiated a recent change to the parking requirement for large centers. The Planning Department looked at the 1998 nationwide ULI study that The Taubman Company used in their request. The 1,000,000 square-foot ULI standard is now in place in Novi.
The standards found in this study are:
Under 400,000 square feet: 1:250 (one space per 192 square feet of gross leasable area)
400,001-600,000 square feet: 1:250-222
600,001-1,000,000 square feet: 1:222
Over 1,000,000 square feet: 1:222
General Retail: 1:200
Mr. Myers said the Planning Department has a lot of respect for this report. He provided the executive summary for the Planning Commission to review.
Mr. Myers said they reviewed the standards of 17 peer communities. An overview of this information detailed that five of 17 communities have similar standards to Novi. Three communities have standards similar to the ULI recommendations. 14 communities have less stringent standards than Novi; five have greater standards. These numbers are affected by fluctuating shopping center and general retail standards within some communities’ ordinances.
The Planning Department recommends that the City adopt the ULI recommendations for shopping centers. The strike-through version of the Ordinance with these changes was provided to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Myers said that a problematic issue is when a shopping center has a big box user that has specific parking needs, creating a situation where the shopping center is either overparked or underparked. Examples of these users include theaters, health clubs, warehouse stores, building supply stores, etc. The Planning Department recommends that any user over 300,000 square feet should have its parking requirement computed separately. Some of these uses have specific standards already in place in the Ordinance. Warehouse stores and building supply stores should have their own standards. Based on peer communities and research performed by various planning organizations, the Planning Department recommends that 1:700 be the standard for these uses.
If the City adopted the ULI standards, shopping centers would have reduced parking requirements:
20,000 square feet: reduced by 23.1%
50,000 square feet: reduced by 23.1%
500,000 square feet: reduced by 22.7%
750,000 square feet: reduced by 22.5%
Each classification of shopping centers is affected differently. Old shopping centers designed to old standards would be allowed to redesign and improve their stormwater systems and landscapes and still meet the parking requirement; as it stands now, these old centers cannot improve their landscapes or stormwater systems and still meet the parking ratio required by the City.
Recently constructed shopping centers would now require less parking. The owners can reconsider how to make use of that portion of the property no longer required for parking.
Future shopping centers would require less parking. This could result in a savings of land.
No one from the audience wished to speak and no correspondence was received so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Lipski felt the Planning Department analyzed this information well. He agreed with the proposal to adopt the ULI standards. The ULI is a well-respected organization. He supported the text amendments.
Member Lynch thought the presentation was good. He appreciated the use of hard data to help the Planning Commission make their decisions. This would achieve a win for the City. It could generate more taxes for the City. It could be a win for the developer, because there is more land for him to develop. It is a win for the adjacent homeowners. He supported the request.
Member Meyer thanked Mr. Myers for providing input from 17 peer communities. It takes a bit of humility to step forward and admit what hasn’t worked, and then set about correcting it.
Member Pehrson thought it was wonderful for the City to review the standards of others and then take the information and mold it for the betterment of Novi.
Member Avdoulos said this topic occasionally comes up in site plan reviews. When this information is absorbed and one considers who in this City can benefit from this upgraded language, the first center that comes to mind is the Farmer Jack Plaza on Ten Mile and Meadowbrook. That is one fully-paved corner.
Member Avdoulos reviewed the Rochester Hills, Troy and Sterling Heights parking standards. The City of Novi will become in line with those communities if this text amendment is adopted. This will bring the City into compliance with a standard that can be backed up with research. He noted that certain centers have lopsided parking (where certain areas are underparked and other areas are overparked) and this text amendment will give the City a chance to work with the Applicant on correcting that problem.
Mr. Myers said that City Manager Clay Pearson picked out these peer communities. Mr. Schmitt then compiled information on those cities. When this parking standard review came forward as a City Council request, the parking standards were added to this peer city comparison. Ms. McBeth also helped with the review.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Lynch:
In the matter of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.207, motion to send a positive recommendation to City Council for an Ordinance to amend Ordinance 97-16 as amended, City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, for modification of retail parking requirements.
Member Lynch thanked the Planning Department for their reviewing other communities and not trying to re-invent the wheel. He said the review was wonderful.
Chair Cassis was concerned about the Novi Town Center. He cited the increased parking needs of Bonefish Grill versus the previous tenant, Sony. He hoped there would be enough parking spaces once the new outlots come on line. He hoped that the City wasn’t creating an opportunity for shopping centers to become underparked.
Mr. Myers responded that the Ordinance includes a stipulation requiring a shared parking study in the event that more than 20% of the tenancy is assembly use (restaurants fall into this category). He also believed that stand alone outlots would require parking requirements per use, which means that a restaurant on an outlot would require the increased parking requirement associated with restaurants.
Ms. McBeth said that Mr. Myers’s comments were correct. She also said that the Planning Department will always review the convenience of any proposed parking layout, and she hoped the Planning Commission would do the same.
Chair Cassis said that the City will have to look closely at these standards as new plans come forward for review.
roll call vote on zoning ordinance text amendment 18.207 positive recommendation motion made by Member Avdoulos and seconded by Member Lynch:
In the matter of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.207, motion to send a positive recommendation to City Council for an Ordinance to amend Ordinance 97-16 as amended, City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, for modification of retail parking requirements. Motion carried 9-0.
2. ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.208
The Public Hearing was opened for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council for an ordinance to amend Ordinance 97-18, as amended, the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, to modify height and area requirements in Article 23A, Planned Office Service Technology District.
Planner Tim Schmitt said that this Public Hearing is the result of a City Council initiative. Northern Equities, one of Novi’s OST developers, sent City Council a letter outlining a broad variety of topics that they wished to have the City take a look at for an OST text amendment. A copy of the letter was provided to the Planning Commission.
Their request included items such as allowing free-standing restaurants, increasing building height, modifying landscaping, etc. The Planning Department looked at this, after the Ordinance Review Committee, and consequently provided some recommendations. Some items in the Northern Equities’ letter have already been addressed, such as day care. Other requests, such as changing the Landscape Ordinance, had no support.
The Ordinance Review Committee did recommend a change to the height standards. There was no support for allowing free-standing restaurants in this district. Attached restaurants are acceptable. City Council asked that this Planning Commission Public Hearing be held and the matter be returned to them for action within sixty days.
Mr. Schmitt said that City Council discussed how a proposed Ordinance should really take form. The Planning Department had provided the concept and the framework. The language meets the original intent – increasing the height in certain situations. The proposal maintains the existing framework for setbacks. City Council discussed at length whether taller buildings should require greater setbacks. Staff maintained the structure already found in the Ordinance. However, the information was consolidated into one location in the Ordinance. Previously footnotes "m" and "u" of Section 2400 were poorly referenced. Now, footnote "u" has all the OST requirements for height and setback.
The proposal is a three-tiered structure. Any land south of Grand River is not allowed to have additional height. This only affects the rear land of the Family Fun Park. If land is not adjacent to a limited-access freeway (M-5 or I-96), the building height limit is 65 feet, with additional setbacks. For every one foot of height the plan requires two feet of setback. That is the current standard. If the building is adjacent to residential, the minimum setback is 100 feet, or three feet for every one foot of building height. The waiver provision is available – if the property is recommended for other uses in the Master Plan, if the adjacent property owner waives the setback requirement, or if the adjacent residential property is being used for something other than residential. That is the current footnote "u."
The third part, which has been added, is for properties north of Grand River and adjacent to a limited access freeway. These sites can increase their building heights to 112 feet. That is essentially eight stories. At first the number was maximized at 100 feet, though another two feet were added to ensure that an eight-story design could be accommodated. The setback provisions from the previous section still apply: Above 46 feet is a 2:1 setback, up to 112 feet and adjacent to residential is a 3:1 setback. These are substantial setbacks. Ultimately there are two areas that are affected. The east side of Meadowbrook Road is adjacent to the M-5 corridor and is not adjacent to residential. The west side is adjacent to residential. There is also a mobile home park on Haggerty Road which is adjacent to a small amount of OST zoning south of Twelve Mile.
Two other provisions have been added. City Council requested that building stepbacks be considered. They were looking for an architectural deviation in the building face – so that 112 feet of flat building wall could not be proposed. The Planning Department recommends a ten-foot stepback for every two stories. This is a minor amount but will provide relief to the building. The Planning Commission can waive this requirement if an Applicant proposes a unique design. If I.M. Pei is commissioned for a building in Novi, the Planning Commission can waive the requirement and allow a 112-foot tall glass building.
The third provision was added with the OSC Hospital amendment. It references that the Fire Marshal’s approval is paramount with regard to a building of this size.
The final addition is something that the Planning Department is trying to work into discussions with the developers. The 112-foot height is the absolute maximum – rooftop appurtenances, penthouses, vertical transportation – all must be worked into the 112-foot maximum. This was recommended for the TC-1 District and the Planning Department continues to support this standard. Mr. Schmitt noted that this provision is working for the new Main Street project.
Other changes include clean-up items. Footnote "m" has been upgraded to accommodate the modifications being proposed. The Planning Commission is asked to make a recommendation on this proposal so that the matter can be returned to City Council within the requested timeframe.
Chair Cassis asked to clarify what would happen to the very low areas north of the freeway and south of Twelve Mile. Some areas near Taft Road are so low that 112 feet will not seem to be too much. The areas east of Beck Road are also low. He suggested that special consideration be given to those areas. Mr. Schmitt responded that building height is measured from the average grade. Keystone Medical is an example of a site that was built up in the rear because of the dropoff. They brought the site up higher, got their visibility and still have 46 feet. Mr. Schmitt said that the measurement will be from the average grade; Applicants may choose to get creative with their grade to get the full effect of a 112-foot building. If the land near the Taft Road dead end is rezoned for Office, a tower could be placed on that site, assuming the plan met the requirements. The Applicant will be able to work with the grades. The Ordinance defines the word "grade" and is measured one foot from the building. Basements do not count against height.
Chair Cassis opened the floor for public comment:
Jamie Kryscynski, ITC Transmission: This Novi-based company purchased the high-power electrical transmission lines from DTE. They transmit the power from the power generators to mostly the DTE (but also Consumers) distribution centers. They are the electric superhighway. They have recently reached a deal with METC (Michigan Electric Transmission Company), another power transmitting company in Michigan’s lower peninsula. ITC will be purchasing their lines as well, which were once Consumers Energy’s lines. They are looking to build a new corporate headquarters in Novi. They are looking at a piece of property along M-5 that is zoned OST. They support the increased height standard. He asked whether the 3:1 setback adjacent to residential was only for the property line adjacent to residential, or was that setback standard for the entire site. Mr. Schmitt responded that the residential setback applied only to the property line adjacent to residential. Mr. Kryscynski said that the site they are considering has wetlands and woodlands and the increased height was important to them. They can now preserve the wetlands and woodlands. They can stay clear of the adjacent residential district. He said the stepback requirement concerned them. They appreciate well-designed buildings, but the stepback requirement could limit their options. If they build a five story building, they will have to provide one cut and they will lose a lot of square footage, so they will probably build a six-story instead. They would rather see a provision that allows unique architecture in lieu of a required ten-foot stepback.
Chair Cassis suggested that there are vehicles available to Mr. Kryscynski for the design of his new headquarters. He encouraged him to work with the Planning Department. Mr. Kryscynski responded that he has been working with the City and they have been very helpful. He provided the City with a letter of support for this text amendment.
No one else from the audience wished to speak and no correspondence was received so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Lynch congratulated Mr. Schmitt for making a change to the Ordinance. He reviewed the package and felt that it neared perfection. He thought the proposal was fairly simple. The analysis made sense and based on the market changes he felt the new language would help the City grow. This proposal was technically challenging, and suggesting a change to a long-standing Ordinance will likely be met with some resistance. He wished to publicly state his appreciation of Mr. Schmitt’s and the Planning Department’s efforts on this proposal.
Member Meyer complimented Mr. Schmitt for his preparedness. Member Meyer said that somehow these changes must be made for the betterment of the community. He also agreed that the design of a building should be based on the creative genius of the architect. He hoped that the new language wasn’t a limiting factor. He supported the text amendment but empathized with the Mr. Kryscynski’s position that the stepback requirement could limit the design process. Novi is moving in the right direction – welcoming developers of tall buildings to the City. Without being too permissive with the design requirements, Novi is moving forward.
Member Burke read the new Ordinance language and he felt it was straight-forward and made a lot of sense. He congratulated Mr. Schmitt for putting the work together. He asked about a July 6, 2006 letter wherein the rooftop appurtenances were recommended to be allowed at a taller height than the building but set back from the edge of the rooftop, with a size cap of 15% of the roof area. That language did not make it into the proposal. Mr. Schmitt responded that the language Member Burke spoke of was taken from the Farmington Hills Ordinance. It is an interesting possibility that was considered. Ultimately, the Planning Department chose to recommend the language previously prepared for the new TC-1 language. Applicants will just need to work within the maximum height provided in the Ordinance. This will reduce the number of requirements that an Applicant has to consider in his design phase. As the Planning Department thought through the text amendment, they felt it was better to be consistent and use the TC-1 language. In the long term, Mr. Schmitt would love to see all the little exceptions removed from the Ordinance. He would prefer that in all districts, the maximum height is the maximum height.
Member Wrobel appreciated the hard work put in on this Ordinance amendment. He liked the proposal and felt it improved the City’s ability to attract and retain companies. Companies that invest this kind of money in Novi are likely to stay around for a while. The areas chosen for the height increase are perfect fits. He supported the approval of this proposal.
Member Avdoulos read the proposal from two points of view. First, he knew that some get nervous about the concept of increased building heights. The Planning Commission went through this with Providence Hospital. He believed that the height on that text amendment maximized out at 105 feet, but he couldn’t remember if that was the height of the last occupied floor. He thought the building was topped out in steel. It is not this big monster thing – six stories isn’t that big. He wondered if the 112-foot measurement was making anyone nervous. He felt this measurement allowed for no more than eight stories. A 13-foot floor-to-floor measurement equals 104 feet, which gives the Applicant eight feet to work in a parapet and associated mechanical rooms. Today, offices are being designed at 13 feet, four inches. This totals 106 feet, eight inches, which gives the Applicant only five feet, four inches for the mechanicals. He would recommend an additional three feet (to bring the maximum to 115 feet) so that the Applicant can work in increments of five. He noted that the Providence maximum is also an increment of five – 105 feet. The ordinary maximum building height is 65 feet – another increment of five.
Member Avdoulos liked tall buildings because their footprint is smaller. The site can more easily accommodate the parking. It will be a tighter design with a lot of landscaping. This works out well. He did not have any height issues. He thought the proposed locations are appropriate. The one item Member Avdoulos struggled with was the stepback of the buildings. He did not recommend that stipulation at all. An eight-story is not super huge. The location of the buildings negates the height anyway. The reference to Chicago and the need for stepbacks in big cities relates to the development of caverns when so many tall buildings are built adjacent to each other. Those stepbacks provide relief, allow sunshine, provide air circulation, etc. Those large cities also require developers to provide plazas to ensure space is available. Requiring stepbacks beyond the fourth floor practically dictates what the building is going to look like. He did not like that idea. The requirement adds a roof, which adds expense, and the ten-foot stepback adds an extra structural component or column line or beam line, which also adds expense. It doesn’t really accomplish much on an eight-story building. After four stories there’s one stepback, another two stories higher – it begins to look like a wedding cake. There is no appeal.
Member Avdoulos looked at some eight-to-ten story glass buildings in Troy after reading this proposal. He would like to recommend that the stepback be stricken from the proposal. If they would like to propose language suggesting that the architectural appearance must provide some kind of relief or has an interesting characteristic, he would support that language. A good firm with a good designer is going to present something that is beneficial to the client and has a nice aesthetic look for the City.
Member Avdoulos cited the stepbacks on the glass building at Six Mile and Haggerty. He said that works because the building itself is a very long rectangle.
Mr. Schmitt said this requirement can be found in 3.b. He thought that removing the stepback requirement but requiring architectural interest can be accomplished by striking the first sentence and starting the second sentence with, "The Planning Commission shall make a finding that the architectural design of the building provides adequate building relief to minimize the mass and height of the building, or otherwise promotes the intent…" This modifies the waiver to a finding.
Member Avdoulos would like to see these buildings come before the Planning Commission for approval. Member Avdoulos said that the Applicant has building code issues that he must content with, and there are economics at play. Member Avdoulos said it was paramount that the language remains intact which states that the building must receive a favorable recommendation from the Fire Marshal. In his own professional work, he chooses to meet with the Fire Marshal of the community for any building he designs over six stories.
Member Avdoulos said he could support a positive recommendation with these changes.
Member Lipski said he would second any motion made by Member Avdoulos. He felt his comments are well-taken. The explanation regarding the avoidance of cavern-type structuring of a downtown city like Chicago gives a lot more meaning to the stepback idea and the purpose of it.
Member Lipski pointed out the importance of the corporate citizen speaking at this Public Hearing. He constructively criticized the Ordinance before it became solid. This allowed the Planning Commission to act accordingly, consistent with the gentleman’s request. He thought it was important for all community members to notice that they, too, can have an impact on the process by taking the time to speak at a Public Hearing.
Chair Cassis said that the City is fortunate to have an architect of such a high caliber sit on its Planning Commission. Member Avdoulos is capable of articulating these points in an understandable manner. Chair Cassis agreed with Member Avdoulos’ comments and he would prefer to send the recommendation with the changes proposed by Member Avdoulos. Chair Cassis said that the City should allow development to be designed tastefully and in good measure. The City has people looking at this Ordinance who are trying to improve it for the better. Personally, Chair Cassis liked tall buildings. He was pleased that the Planning Commission is willing to consider this change.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Burke:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON text amendment 18.208 positive recommendation MOTION MADE BY Member Pehrson AND SECONDED BY Member Burke:
In the matter of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.208, motion to send a positive recommendation to City Council for the OST Ordinance updates as articulated by Member Avdoulos, with the changes he [proposed at the table: 1) Increasing the building height maximum from 112 feet to 115 feet; 2) Striking the building stepback requirement; and 3) Modifying the language in 3.b. from being a waiver to a finding, i.e., "The Planning Commission shall make a finding that the architectural design of the building provides adequate building relief to minimize the mass and height of the building…"] Motion carried 9-0.
The Planning Commission took a brief recess.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. FIFTH THIRD BANK, SP06-32
Consideration of the request of Marcos Makohon for Preliminary Site Plan and Stormwater Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 4, on Beck Road south of Pontiac Trail in the B-3, General Business District. The subject property is approximately 1.64 acres and the Applicant is proposing a 4,100 sq. ft., one-story bank branch with four drive-through lanes.
Planner Jason Myers said that on March 22, 2006 this same parcel came before the Planning Commission as SP05-66 on behalf of Chase Bank. The parcel is now under control of Fifth Third Bank. This is a different building than what was previously proposed. The coincidences of the two plans are dictated by the layout of the site.
This site is on the corner of the City of Wixom, and therefore Wixom reviewed the plan and its right-of-way design, as Wixom maintains Beck Road in this area. North of Pontiac Trail is Commerce Township and Wixom, zoned B-2, Community Business. To the west is Wixom, zoned RC-2. To the south is Wixom, zoned M-1, Light Industrial. Adjacent properties are Pointe Park Condos (to the south, zoned RM-1), Shoppes at the Trail across Beck Road (to the east, zoned B-3). Most of the corner is master planned for Community Commercial. To the east it is master planned for Multiple Family Residential. In Wixom the land is master planned for Local Commercial to the north, Multiple Family Residential to the west and Light Industrial further to the south.
There are no wetlands or woodlands.
The site plan has two two-way access points. The traffic pattern provides two-way circulation, except for one area behind the building. There are four drive-through lanes. The stacking spaces meet the current Ordinance standard.
There are four issues to address. The Applicant is seeking a Planning Commission Waiver for a 25-foot buffer near the detention basin at the southern end of the site. Because this site is relatively small and of a difficult shape, the Applicant had to put some of the stormwater detention underground. The Engineering Department supports that design in this case. The Applicant is also seeking a Waiver for the right-of-way berms, from the detention basin to the end of the property. There is no room for the berm. The Planning Department has recommended a wall in lieu of a berm. The Applicant is proposing a brick-pier fence design to be placed behind the basin, and no fence is proposed for the tiny piece of land that Mr. Myers was pointing to on the map. The Applicant will further describe this design.
The Engineering Review notes that a Same Side Driveway Spacing Waiver is required for the relationship between this site’s drive and the gas station to the north– 145 feet proposed, 185 feet required. The proposed location appears to be the best place for the drive.
The Applicant’s response letter addressed an issue that consequently changed the applicability of the original Façade Review. The Applicant is proposing wood siding and there is an excess of trim on another side of the building. A Section 9 Façade Waiver is required for these two elements of the plan.
Marcos Makohon of K-4 Architecture addressed the Planning Commission on behalf of Fifth Third Bank. Mr. Makohon said that both Novi and Wixom required two points of access into the site. He described how the site’s drives will function and he located the area of employee parking. Mr. Makohon said that the driveway spacing is an access management issue that addresses fire and safety matters.
Mr. Makohon said that they have proposed a two-stage stormwater system which can be accommodated by this small site. The discharge is on the north side of the property. The detention area negates the use of a berm; the Applicant is proposing a wrought-iron fence with brick pillars. It will define the north side of the detention area and separates the basin from the parking area. The fence is also proposed to run along one of the drives. That is an aesthetic element of the plan - the proposed slope and landscaping do not require a fence. Hoping to market the site to northbound traffic on Beck, they chose to provide this type of fence rather than a solid wall. They feel this provides an opportunity to place landscaping in an otherwise difficult area. The "remnant" piece of land requires a berm, but Mr. Makohon reiterated that they are seeking the Waiver for that element. An adequate buffer has been designed for the area between this site and the gas station.
Mr. Makohon said that they have lowered the slope of the roof on the bank from 6:12 to 5:12, reducing the building height to a measurement well below the standards. The new design could be seen in the color elevation that Mr. Makohon provided.
The look of the bank design is residential in nature. This bank branch is seeking a residential clientele. They wanted the building to match the scale of the gas station and complement the adjacent residential property.
Chair Cassis asked whether a City of Novi sign was welcome on this site. Mr. Makohon responded that this is not a requirement, but there are a couple of opportunities on the site to accommodate this request. One is on the north side, the other is on the south side. Mr. Makohon was receptive to accommodating municipal requirements, especially for a significant gateway location such as this. Mr. Makohon said this sign would be placed at the discretion of the City.
Mr. Myers clarified that the plan that Mr. Makohon passed out is the plan that came in with his response letter. He also said that he spoke with the Director of Planning, Barbara McBeth, and the Landscape Architect, David Beschke, and they discussed that it will not be the Planning Department’s purview to choose the locations for City entrance signs. He then suggested that this location is not really the best place for a sign. Once a south-bound driver passes this site, he is technically leaving the City and entering Wixom. This is even true for northbound drivers. Beck Road doesn’t re-enter Novi until it is south of I-96.
Member Pehrson felt the design was reasonable, and the Applicant’s efforts are actually duplicative of the competing bank that already submitted a plan for this site. He had no problem with the right-of-way berms relative to the detention basin. He had no problem with the buffer Waiver. The Driveway Spacing Waiver made sense, as the drive lines up with the site across the street.
Mr. Myers clarified for Member Pehrson that the Section 9 Façade Waiver discussed at the meeting pertained to the newly submitted façade, not the originally submitted façade. Member Pehrson said the design fits the neighborhood, and that Fifth Third’s quality buildings are second to none. He supported the approval of the plan.
Member Avdoulos asked David Beschke, Landscape Architect, to comment of the appropriateness of the landscape design around the detention basin. Specifically, was the fence to the north and the landscape near the road an acceptable design? Mr. Beschke responded that the Applicant has upgraded his plan a great deal since the first review of this plan. Technically, a wall would have gone across the frontage, but this design did not bother him because it effectively provides the same function. It actually provides a backdrop to a significant amount of planting proposed for the basin. Their design goes well beyond what is required by the Ordinance. As a landscape architect, Mr. Beschke was pleased to see the variety of plant material as it will provide seasonal variation. Member Avdoulos complimented the Applicant on his landscape design.
Member Avdoulos thought that often the detention ponds are covered up or are missed opportunities for nice landscape designs. Member Avdoulos said that this ornamental fence could even accommodate plantings. Mr. Beschke said that this design provides a landscaped foreground and is a nice feature of the site.
Member Avdoulos liked that the pitch of the roof had been lowered, thereby lowering the cupola. The change in height will not effectively alter the look of the building. It is a nice comfortable look, and it blends well with its adjacent neighbors. The waivers being sought are not out of line. The sight works well.
Member Avdoulos said that with banks, the biggest concern is that the Applicant provides an escape lane for those instances where emergency departure from the site is necessary. He also felt the employee parking area was appropriately located.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, Member Pehrson:
In the matter of Fifth Third Bank – Beck Road, SP06-32, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Planning Commission Waiver of the right-of-way berm at the location of the detention basin, noting that the Applicant has worked to create a nicer effect; 2) A Planning Commission Waiver of the 25-foot detention basin buffer requirement; 3) A Planning Commission Same Side Driveway Spacing Waiver for the north access (145 feet proposed, 185 feet required) because the plan provides better alignment to the easterly properties; 4) A Planning Commission Section 9 Façade Waiver for an excess of molded cornice, trim, column surround and wood siding due to the fact that those materials blend in with the architectural character of what is being presented; and 5) All the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan does meet the intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
Member Avdoulos complimented the Applicant on his response letter.
Chair Cassis thought the plan looked good and he welcomed the Applicant to the community. Mr. Makohon thanked him and noted that this bank is a relocation from the neighboring community.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON fifth third bank, sp06-32, Preliminary Site Plan motion made by Member Avdoulos and seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of Fifth Third Bank – Beck Road, SP06-32, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Planning Commission Waiver of the right-of-way berm at the location of the detention basin, noting that the Applicant has worked to create a nicer effect; 2) A Planning Commission Waiver of the 25-foot detention basin buffer requirement; 3) A Planning Commission Same Side Driveway Spacing Waiver for the north access (145 feet proposed, 185 feet required) because the plan provides better alignment to the easterly properties; 4) A Planning Commission Section 9 Façade Waiver for an excess of molded cornice, trim, column surround and wood siding due to the fact that those materials blend in with the architectural character of what is being presented; and 5) All the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan does meet the intent of the Zoning Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Chair Cassis reminded Mr. Myers that this Applicant would allow a City sign to be placed on his site; he asked that this be duly noted.
Member Avdoulos added that although this is yet another bank coming into this City, bank buildings are easily retrofitted for other uses.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON fifth third bank, sp06-32, stormwater management plan motion made by Member Avdoulos and seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of Fifth Third Bank – Beck Road, SP06-32, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to the comments in the Staff and Consultant review letters; for the reason that the plan does meet the intent of the Stormwater Management Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
2. SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR AUGUST 23, 2006 FOR SIGN ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 06-100.36, TO UPDATE, CLARIFY, AND PROVIDE NEW SUBSTANTIVE REGULATIONS CONCERNING the PLACEMENT OF SIGNS WITHIN AND THROUGHOUT THE CITY
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth explained that the Ordinance Review Committee has met a total of fourteen times to update and clarify the language found in the Sign Ordinance. Their intent is to reduce the number of signs that will require approval through the Zoning Board of Appeals. Definitions have also been added. The GE District was added. Changes were made for buildings greater than 40,000 square feet in the OS Districts. Changes were made for changeable copy signs. Community event signage has been added to the Ordinance, replacing an Applicant’s need to go before City Council for approval. The Planning Commission is asked to hold this Ordinance update’s Public Hearing on August 23, 2006.
Member Avdoulos said that the Implementation Committee has also looked at these sign issues over the years, hoping for clarification and update of the Sign Ordinance.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded Member Meyer:
Motion to set a Public Hearing date of August 23, 2006 to review the proposed Sign Ordinance amendments.
Member Meyer, previously a member of the ZBA, said this update is long overdue.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON SIGN ORDINANCE PUBLIC HEARING MOTION MADE BY MEMBER AVDOULOS AND SECONDED BY Member Meyer:
Motion to set a Public Hearing date of August 23, 2006 to review the proposed Sign Ordinance amendments. Motion carried 9-0.
3. COMMITTEE MEMBER APPOINTMENTS
The Planning Commission members discussed amongst themselves the makeup of the committees for the 2006-2007 season.
Administrative Liaison Committee: John Avdoulos, Victor Cassis, Mark Pehrson
Planning Studies and Budget Committee: Brian Burke, Andy Gutman, David Lipski, Mark Pehrson
Capital Improvement Committee: Andy Gutman, Mike Lynch, Brian Burke (alternate)
Environmental Committee: Brian Burke, Michael Meyer, Wayne Wrobel
Communication and Community Liaison Committee: David Lipski, Michael Meyer, Wayne Wrobel
Implementation Committee: John Avdoulos, Andy Gutman, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson
Master Plan and Zoning Committee: John Avdoulos, Victor Cassis, Mike Lynch, Wayne Wrobel, Michael Meyer (alternate)
Rules Committee: John Avdoulos, Andy Gutman, David Lipski
Main Street Committee: Brian Burke, Wayne Wrobel
4. APPROVAL OF THE JUNE 28, 2006 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
voice vote on june 28, 2006 minutes approval motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
Motion to approve the minutes of June 28, 2006. Motion carried 8-0 (Member Meyer abstained from voting as he was absent from the meeting).
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. OST Zoning and Parcel 50-22-15-126-020
Mr. Harold Larson submitted a letter regarding his parcel and OST Zoning. The letter discusses his .793 acre parcel that has 100 feet of frontage and is east of the Husky site. This property was rezoned to OST by the City several years ago; now this site is undevelopable because setbacks cannot be met. Mr. Larson assumed that it was not the City’s intent to leave this parcel unbuildable. He asked that the City give reasonable consideration to adding changes to their upcoming OST text amendment that would address smaller OST parcels such as his. He asked that the following suggestions be considered:
For OST parcels with less than 200 feet of frontage, the setbacks shall be no less than 30% of the frontage and no one sideline setback shall be less than 8% of the frontage.
If this suggestion cannot be incorporated he asked that the City reclassify his parcel to OS-1 or OS-2.
Chair Cassis said that this parcel may be better utilized by becoming part of a parcel assemblage.
Member Avdoulos said that this property owner may come forward with a PRO that addresses his property’s shortcomings. He felt that the gentleman’s suggestion was a workable mathematical equation, and while Member Avdoulos understood how it would apply to this particular parcel, its application to other parcels has not yet been considered. He felt it would be difficult to revise the Ordinance in this manner.
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth confirmed that Mr. Larson’s property is zoned OST. She recommended that the Planning Department respond to Mr. Larson and explain to him that he could formally request a rezoning to another classification or a text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance. Or, he could submit any future plans under the guidelines of the PRO, Planned Rezoning Overlay. Ms. McBeth offered to carbon copy the Planning Commission on the letter that would be sent to Mr. Larson.
There were no Supplemental Issues.
No one from the audience wished to participate.
Chair Cassis acknowledged the correspondence from Amson Dembs praising the manner in which the Planning Commission recently handled a rezoning request. City Manager Clay Pearson forwarded a copy of the letter to the Planning Commission. Chair Cassis hoped that his relaxed method of managing the flow of the meeting was acceptable to the rest of the Planning Commission.
Moved by Member Wrobel:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at or about 10:35 p.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 08/14/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 08/23/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 08/28/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 09/04/06 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON 09/11/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 09/12/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 09/13/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 09/25/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 09/27/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
TUE 10/03/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
MON 10/09/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 10/11/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf Signature on File
Date Approved: September 13, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date