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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 PM.
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; Mark Spencer, Planner; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Ben Croy, Engineer; David Beschke, Landscape Consultant; John Freeland, Wetland Consultant; Sara Merrill, Traffic Consultant; Tom Schultz, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Wrobel led the meeting in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
VOICE vote on agenda approval motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
Motion to approve the Agenda of December 13, 2007. 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 said that at the December 4, 2006 City Council meeting the first readings of the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act Ordinance Amendment and the Temporary Use Permit Ordinance Amendment were both approved. The second readings were approved regarding the Outdoor Seating Ordinance Amendment and the Single Family Residential Street Tree Ordinance Amendment.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
1. ITC TRANSMISSION COMPANY, SP06-53
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company for Preliminary Site Plan, Wetland Permit, Woodland Permit, and Stormwater Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 13, south of Twelve Mile, between Haggerty Road and the M-5 Connector, in the OST, Planned Office Service Technology District. The subject property is approximately 83.63 acres and the Applicant is proposing to construct two six-story office buildings and two multiple level parking structures.
2. ITC TRANSMISSION COMPANY HELISTOP, SP06-61
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council for the proposed helistop location. The subject property is located in Section 13, south of Twelve Mile between Haggerty Road and the M-5 Connector, in the OST, Planned Office Service Technology District. The Applicant is proposing a location for the helistop in conjunction with the ITC Transmission Company Headquarters.
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth presented both the ITC Plan and the Helistop plans together. She described the OST-zoned property for the Planning Commission. The site is irregularly shaped. The Quaker Sub-Station is also located on this site. There are also overhead electrical transmission lines that run north and south throughout the site. There is a DTE building on the site. The north twenty acres are vacant. There is a thirteen-acre pond on the north side. There is a ten-acre pond on the west side. The property to the north is developed with the Haggerty Corridor Corporate Park, zoned OST and master planned for Office. To the east are Country Cousins Mobile Home Park (zoned MH), the Novi Research Park and a landscape company (both zoned OST). To the west is the M-5 connector, and the property in that area is zoned OST. To the south is a freeway connector ramp. The zonings are consistent with the Master Plan, though the suggested use for the subject property was for utility uses. There are regulated woodlands on the site. There are wetlands on the site.
The Applicant is proposing to construct offices for the ITC. The office buildings are near the center of the site. Building One is 187,913 square feet. Part of the building is six stories; part of it is two stories. Building Two is 154,000 square feet. Parking Structure One is three levels and 33 feet high and Parking Structure Two is four levels and 45 feet high. The office buildings are just under 115 feet tall.
The existing Quaker Sub-Station will remain on the site. It will be slightly reconfigured. It will be screened by a new 16-foot wall. The existing DTE structure will also remain. The main access to the site will be from Twelve Mile. The main entrance will be east of the M-5 ramp. The existing Haggerty drive will remain, but that is for emergencies and is not intended for common use.
Earlier this year, a Preliminary Site Plan was approved by the Planning Commission for the Great Lakes Corporate Campus, for four buildings on the north portion of this site. The design included a bank, a hotel and offices totaling 139,000 square feet. ITC has now acquired this property, and they will be using it for the driveway configuration as shown on the plans. The wetland impacts will be about the same for either of these plans.
Ms. McBeth discussed the issues raised in the reviews. ZBA Variances are required regarding Section 2514, the road design standards. The Ordinance requires that buildings be accessed from a major drive that meets certain requirements. The Planning Department has determined that the best location for this major drive would be the access from Twelve Mile, continuing down through the property past the first parking structure. There are parking spaces located off the major drive, and the Ordinance does not anticipate such a design. The Ordinance also states that there must be a minimum of a 100-foot radius, but there are sharp corners around the wetlands. The Planning and Engineering staffs support these variances, because the Applicant has met the intent of the Ordinance throughout the rest of the site. The preservation of the natural features makes the designing rather difficult.
A ZBA Variance is required for the location of the dumpster. It has been proposed to be located between Building One and Parking Structure One. This location is technically considered a side yard. The Planning Department supports this location. It is adequately screened.
A ZBA Variance is required for the east yard setback. The property line is irregular. The building setback has been met in all other areas but the one, where only 77 feet of setback has been provided. They require 188 feet of setback. This area is adjacent to an undeveloped portion of an office condominium project. The Planning Department supports this variance request because the site is undeveloped woodland and wetland and there is a detention basin as well. There is a great distance between the building and the residential area - about 500 feet. The building at this area is the two-story section – the control center of the Office Building One.
A ZBA Variance is required to allow the guard booth. Technically the placement of this booth is proposed for the front yard. City Council will need to consider a Waiver of the Fire Prevention Code to allow the access control gates in three locations.
A Planning Commission Waiver is required to allow the building to be 115 feet. The building design elements mitigate the mass, there is a variation to the lighting, and there are building stepbacks. The Planning Commission can consider these items to determine whether the additional building height should be permitted. Ms. McBeth showed the building elevations.
A Planning Commission Waiver is required for the driveway encroaching into the required twenty foot side yard setback. The Planning Commission can modify these requirements in cases where additional setback is provided elsewhere.
Ms. McBeth said that the square footage of the one building is accurately listed as 187,913, and that number changed based on the decision to finish the second floor of the control tower area. Fifty additional parking spaces will be added to the site.
The Woodland and Wetland Reviews both indicate that permits are required. For the north twenty acres, the impact is similar to that proposed by the Great Lake Corporate Campus plan. There will be small amounts of impact to the various ponds on the site.
The Landscape Review recommends approval subject to the granting of some Planning Commission Waivers. The required berms along M-5 would disturb the pond; the Applicant is also asking for a Waiver of the Twelve Mile berm. The Applicant is seeking a waiver of the M-5, Twelve Mile and Haggerty street tree requirements. That request could be considered by the Planning Commission, subject to the Applicant providing written verification from the agency with jurisdiction of those roads, that these trees would not be allowed.
Technically, a berm along the eastern wooded wetland would be required, but the Landscape Architect stated that he would support a waiver of that berm in order to maintain the natural area.
The Traffic Review did not recommend approval of the plan.
The Engineering Review and the Fire Department Review both recommend approval of the plan, with minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Façade Review recommends approval, with comments that the gold windows improve the look of the building, and the use of cast stone is consistent with the look and quality of limestone.
Ms. McBeth said that the helistop is proposed on the ground near Building Two. There will be no fuel service, maintenance or overhaul of helicopters permitted in this area. It is just for pickup and dropoff purposes. The helistop will remain on the ground until the second building is constructed, and then the Applicant would need to come back for consideration of moving the helistop elsewhere.
There is a fence proposed for the helistop area. The area is proposed to be concrete, thereby minimizing dust being blown around. The Applicant intends to meet the building, fire and health codes associated with the helistop. They will meet the federal guidelines. There will be a provision for offstreet parking.
The Planning Commission is asked to approve the plan and make a recommendation to City Council regarding the helistop.
Joe Bennett of ITC addressed the Planning Commission. Currently ITC is located off of Orchard Hill Place near Haggerty and Eight Mile. They are a rapidly growing utility company. They have outgrown their current facility, in part due to their acquisition of the Michigan Electric Transmission Company on the west side of the state. ITC owns and maintains a vast majority of the high voltage transmission system in Michigan’s lower peninsula. This system is used to transport large quantities of electricity over long distances – from generation to distribution. They do no own the generation or the distribution – that is traditionally Consumers Energy or Detroit Energy. They are ITC’s largest customers. ITC owns the transmission lines and sub-stations.
With their recent growth, some of the ITC employees have been relocated out of Novi. In less than four years, ITC has gone from 38 employees to about 300 employees and contractors. ITC anticipates some additional growth in the years to come. The second building will be built at a later date. For efficiency and cohesiveness, ITC would like their employees in one location. There will be space for 450 employees in the first building. There are currently 200 employees in Novi. Another 100-plus employees will be moved to Novi. Engineers will be brought in to maintain and design the lines. An operation group will monitor and control the transmission assets, on a 24/7 basis. Corporate support staff will be onsite. This includes finance, legal, regulatory and IT employees.
Mr. Bennett said that their intent is to keep Twelve Mile as the main entrance. They have no intentions of allowing employees to use the Haggerty entrance. This Haggerty entrance will be used for access to the sub-station and for emergencies. ITC has plenty of land and they have no intentions of acquiring the mobile home park. The outdoor lighting will comply with the Ordinance. They plan to use cutoff lights that point downward.
The helistop is meant for the CEO and his guests to tour the facilities and lines. It will not be a major part of the business. The helicopter company is located out of Ann Arbor and the maintenance of the helicopters will be done at their site.
Mr. Bennett said that it has been a pleasure working with the City on this project.
Jim Butler from PEA represented the Applicant’s landscape architect and civil engineering consultant. He added that there is a significant amount of natural features and a sub-station that the project had to be designed around. They will encroach the wetlands by about six-tenths of an acre. They met first with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to get an initial read from them regarding this plan. They are now in process of procuring the permit. He felt that all of the Staff and Consultant comments could be addressed.
Chair Cassis opened the floor for public comment:
Chair Cassis asked Member Pehrson to read the Public Hearing correspondence into the record:
Chair Cassis asked Member Pehrson to read the Helistop Public Hearing correspondence into the record:
Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing. City Attorney Tom Schultz asked the Chair to ensure that the people understood that this was the time to speak up regarding both the ITC plan and the ITC Helipad plan. Chair Cassis again asked for comments.
Again, Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Wrobel asked how far Building One and Building Two are from Country Cousins. Ms. McBeth responded that Building One’s corner is a bit further than 500 feet. Building Two is a greater distance. Member Wrobel asked how often the helistop would be used. At what time of day? On the weekends? Would it be used at night? Would it be used on holidays? Would the flight pattern take the helicopter over Country Cousins?
Mr. Bennett responded that the helistop would not be used daily. The flight path cannot come over Country Cousins due to the sub-station’s location. The pattern would come in from the west or northwest. He did not foresee nighttime flights. The helistop has to be lit, per the FAA, but it isn’t expected to be used at night. He estimated that the helicopter would be used once per month, but it is hard to judge as it is currently not something they have available – but he reiterated the use would be minimal.
Member Wrobel asked what could be done with the stormwater management to ensure that the water drainage problem is not compounded. Dr. John Freeland of ECT could not comment on the Cooker’s plan, but he too, was concerned about the water budget of the existing wetlands. They have asked for the current water balance and the anticipated water balance post-development. He understood that most of the stormwater discharge would go to the wetland west of the proposed development. There are to two large wetlands on the site – Dr. Freeland used the map to describe the stormwater flow.
Dr. Freeland said there are about thirty acres of wetland and ponds on this site. He has met with ITC to discuss the more sensitive areas. They identified an area near the mobile home park where there is a forested wetland. It consists of wetlands and upland areas. ITC has been asked to avoid the area entirely. There is a high quality wetland and woodland to the south that is adjacent to the mobile home park. Dr. Freeland has asked the Applicant to place that area into a conservation easement. There is a jogging trail proposed on the south side of the existing sub-station – but the Applicant has been asked to avoid the trees to the east and south of the sub-station.
Most of the impacts are on the north end – the west side of the property. Most of the construction will be north and east of the sub-station. There are some minor impacts along the large wetland, but the Applicant has done a good job of minimizing these impacts. The impacts are more to smaller, isolated wetlands. The larger wetlands are being preserved. The impacts would require mitigation under the Ordinance. The wetlands are all state-regulated too, Dr. Freeland thought, and he noted that the Applicant has initiated the application process with the MDEQ. The City cannot issue a permit until the State issues their permit. The mitigation area is on the south end of the property. Generally, these mitigation areas are also put into a conservation easement. The southern and eastern part of the property should be largely protected.
Member Wrobel asked how much the water level could be expected to rise. Dr. Freeland responded that he did not have the numbers. Civil Engineer Ben Croy responded that the Applicant has indicated there would be a three-inch increase over the entire wetland system – and that is a temporary raise in water surface. Dr. Freeland noted that there would be an outlet so the level should not rise that much. Dr. Freeland did not think it would rise that much.
Chair Cassis asked how Mr. Pellagata’s property came to be under so much water. Dr. Freeland responded that he imagined it had something to do with a change in the grade which caused a new drainage pattern. It is possible that this is a result from the highway construction. Dr. Freeland had no experience with that road project. Typically these problems occur when more water than anticipated drains. This could be due to the way the land drains or because of a change in the permeability of the soil. Sometimes natural conditions are the cause – increased annual precipitation could be the problem.
Member Wrobel asked when the second building would be built. Mr. Bennett responded that the first building is designed for 450 employees and they currently have about 300 employees. They are growing rapidly. The second building will be built once their employee base exceeds 450. The first building would begin as soon as the permits are granted.
Member Avdoulos asked for the route of the construction traffic. Mr. Bennett said that most likely, Haggerty Road would be used. Mr. Bennett thought that the construction would take ten months for the parking garage, the office structure and the control room. They would like to be in the building by April 2008. In the worst case scenario, they would be looking at twelve months. Member Avdoulos said that ten months would be difficult to achieve. Member Avdoulos said taking the construction traffic from Haggerty would make the most sense. Twelve Mile would bring too much construction traffic too close to the ramp. That would be dangerous. The Haggerty entrance could be used for Phase Two as well, and then the area could return to a natural condition. He hoped that was the Applicant’s intent. Mr. Bennett said that it was.
Member Lynch said that there was a familial relationship between the Pellagatas and him. He hoped that would not be a problem – City Attorney Tom Schultz said that it was acceptable for Member Lynch to continue hearing the request.
Member Lynch confirmed that the site has long since been zoned OST. Ms. McBeth said that the rezoning occurred in the late 1990s.
Member Lynch thought that ITC had done a good job in avoiding the wetlands. He wished to confirm how the conservation easement near the mobile home park would read. He thought the language included that the Applicant could not cut, mow or disturb the area. Mr. Butler said the easement would be designed as such – the dimensions will vary. Member Lynch confirmed that the natural features adjacent to the mobile home park would be protected.
Member Lynch asked about the maintenance program for the detention basins. Mr. Croy said that the basins would be privately maintained. The Applicant and the City will enter into an agreement wherein the City can maintain the basin if the Applicant fails to do so, and the Applicant would be charged for this service.
Member Lynch said that the homeowners in the area do not want more water draining on their land. He hoped this project could be a benefit to the stormwater management system. Mr. Butler thought that might be the case.
Member Lynch noted that the Providence hospital site would be over six stories and would also have a Helistop. He thought that the traffic pattern would be foolishly designed to enter the site from the southeast because of the high tension wires. Therefore he did not think the mobile home park should be worried about fly-overs.
Member Lynch also noted that the City has a Noise Ordinance. Ms. McBeth responded that motor vehicles are excluded from the Ordinance. She felt that the FAA would regulate the helicopter noise.
Member Lynch felt that the 25-foot buffer would provide some sound mitigation. It would help maintain the natural setting. He felt that ITC should be applauded for their design. He hoped the water would be better managed with this design.
Member Lynch thought that the main entrance from Twelve Mile made sense. Haggerty is too busy. The overall plan meets the zoning and is an appropriate use of the property. The neighbors have been isolated through the natural buffer. Member Lynch supported the project.
Member Avdoulos determined that the mobile home park has been around since the 1960s. The sub-station was erected in the mid-1990s. Ms. McBeth said that a lot of this area’s land was zoned residential prior to the OST zoning of the 1990s, and she guessed that that was the previous zoning on this property.
Member Avdoulos asked about the adjacency factor between a mobile home park and an OST property – were the requirements different from a Single Family Residential zoning? Ms. McBeth said that they would be treated the same. Setbacks and landscaping requirements would be the same.
Member Avdoulos said that the natural features would be in place because a berm would disturb and disrupt them. A conservation easement would be placed in the area south and area of the sub-station.
Member Avdoulos said that he has heard Mr. Pellagata discuss his water problems once before, when the Great Lakes plan came forward. Member Avdoulos was more comfortable with added this project to the area because the building will be south of that area. The Great Lakes plan squeezed components close to the wetland. This project stays west of the sub-station and hugs the area, providing minimal disturbance. The residents will be protected with the natural features. The building is no closer than the Tower buildings. He said that there were also five- or six-story buildings near Haggerty and Eight Mile.
Member Avdoulos thought the construction timeframe had been adequately addressed.
Member Avdoulos said that lighting is required to be cut off. The parking lot and the garages will have lighting that does not face the residential areas. All cities require this standard. This prevents light pollution in general.
Member Avdoulos thought that the helicopter issue had been addressed. The helicopter’s use would not be daily. He hoped there wouldn’t be nighttime fly-ins.
Member Avdoulos said that the environmental concerns were being addressed between the Applicant and the City’s consultant. Member Avdoulos asked if the woodland issues had been addressed by the Applicant. Dr. Freeland responded that there will be woodland impacts, and the Applicant will have to put the replacement trees on site. Dr. Freeland had some questions about protecting the existing woodlands, and the Applicant has been asked to fence some additional areas. By and large, the issues are minor. The Applicant has been amenable to addressing all of the items.
Landscape Architect David Beschke said that he reviews the replacement trees along with the Woodland Consultant. The replacement trees are shown throughout the site. Dr. Freeland said between 600-700 trees will be removed. Under the Ordinance, they must replace trees greater than eight inches. Their replacements number about 500. That is an Ordinance standard.
Member Avdoulos discussed the traffic noise. He thought the bigger problem would be the construction traffic. Traffic coming in off of Twelve Mile will not create a noise issue. Traffic Consultant Sara Merrill stated that the Applicant does not believe their traffic will significantly impact the area; her company agrees. They are proposing decel lanes along Twelve Mile, which is appropriate. She was concerned about the traffic impact study. They have asked the Applicant to correct the figures used therein, because other incoming businesses in the area will use this information to validate their plan and therefore it should be more accurate. The numbers regarding the northbound offramp from M-5 may be the problem in the study. The Applicant’s traffic model is incorrect in their study.
Ms. McBeth told Member Avdoulos said that a Noise Analysis was not required because the plan is not a Special Land Use.
Member Avdoulos said that this building has an occupant – residents don’t need to be concerned that this will be another vacant building. Member Avdoulos thought phasing the plan to keep the size proportionate to the company was a good idea. This is a high profile area. This M-5 ramp is a gateway into the City. The building has been sited nicely. It frames the wetland and does not encroach it. The Applicant has been environmentally sensitive. The Applicant is trying to follow the intent of the Ordinance – these newly approved tall buildings are not meant to be giant foreboding structures. The Applicant is also providing expensive parking garages, therefore the plan is environmentally sensitive. The garages are low and the buildings step up. There is a two-story level closest to the mobile home park. Member Avdoulos thought that was designed nicely.
Member Avdoulos said that the security statements were accurate. He understood that the Applicant must iron out the issues with his security agency. The Applicant must meet the needs of the Fire Department. This building and the sub-station require security. This will also add a level of security for the mobile home park.
Member Avdoulos said that the façade had a nice clean look. It is conducive for a headquarters. In the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance, they have designed the building nicely. He asked about the reflective glass. There would not be reflective glass on the back side. There is a strip on the front and on the two sides. The glazing will be most affected by the morning sun. This has to do with the siting of the building as well.
Member Avdoulos commented it is nice when neighbors let the City know when a site requires additional monitoring. The City employees cannot catch everything out on the sites. He did believe that ITC was doing a nice job.
Member Burke tallied up the residents’ concerns and found that noise was a big problem for them. Member Burke felt that the helicopter issue was addressed, and that perhaps the neighbors were happier now, to know that this use will not be a regular occurrence.
Mr. Bennett explained that most employees would be on the 9-5 shift, though the operation is a 24/7 job for about a dozen people.
Member Burke did not think that incoming cars would be able to speed in light of the position of the road and the wetland. He didn’t think that traffic noise would be heard by the mobile home park.
Member Burke commended the Applicant for not encroaching the wetlands to any great degree. He asked what effect the water level has on the neighboring properties to the east and north. Mr. Croy responded that the two wetland complexes have different anticipated elevations. The north system would elevate about one-half inch and the other wetland would be more like three inches. The systems flow to the southwest before it crosses the expressway. It shouldn’t add more water to the properties to the east or north. The north will be impacted very little.
Mr. Bennett told Member Burke that the final helistop would be located atop Building Two.
Member Burke asked about the westbound Twelve Mile traffic that has to make a Michigan Left to enter this site. He wasn’t certain where the Michigan Left could be made. Ms. Merrill responded that most vehicles will be going to and from the expressway. There will not be a significant impact. She showed the location of the access drive. She used the map to describe the traffic pattern.
Member Burke thought it was wonderful that this project could move forward on this tricky site. He felt that the plan was very sensitive. He thought the Applicant did a nice job on the project. He supported the project.
Member Meyer asked if the Planning Department would approve of the traffic design, in light of what has been said at this meeting. Ms. McBeth felt that the Traffic Engineer’s comments reflected their approval as long as minor items would be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. The traffic study also has to be updated. Member Meyer felt that the Applicant tried to respond to the traffic items.
Member Meyer asked ITC to keep in mind the comments made by the mobile home park residents. He asked them to be sensitive during the construction phase. He thought the distance from the building to the mobile home park was grand. He thought the Applicant made an effort to design the entry such that traffic would be slowed down. He was pleased with the parking structure. He hoped the Applicant continues to show the neighbors a level of sensitivity.
Member Pehrson spoke with Ms. McBeth about construction traffic. Ms. McBeth said that the posted time for this traffic is 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The road is currently paved, so the dust and debris will not be as bad. Ms. McBeth said that the City met with ITC and they are aware of the maintenance items that they will need to keep on top of during construction.
Member Pehrson asked if the Helistop could be limited to any timeframe. Mr. Schultz responded that the Planning Commission is providing a recommendation to City Council; City Council will make the final determination. The Ordinance does not address attaching conditions. This is a permitted use in certain districts, as long as the City Council makes certain findings. If the Planning Commission has thoughts on recommending a restriction, it should be added to the comments or the motion.
Member Pehrson asked about the low frequency hum coming from the sub-station. Mr. Bennett said he was not sure about the hum or the noise study. There is a 16-foot wall that will more than likely be built around the entire sub-station. This will help with the noise. Member Pehrson hoped that ITC would listen to their neighbors, as he felt that ITC has demonstrated that they are good stewards of the land. Mr. Bennett said that they would.
Member Pehrson did not have any concerns about the down-lighting. He asked whether the upper-deck parking had lights. Mr. Bennett said that there would be lighting up there. Tim Melvin, project architect, said that the parking deck uses low pole lights with cutoffs. The light won’t spill into the neighboring areas. The Applicant could probably control the lighting, but not to the detriment of security.
Member Pehrson asked the Applicant to consider their neighbors.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, SP06-53, motion to grant approval of the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for the road design standards of Section 2514, as detailed in the review letter, as recommended, since the Applicant has met the intent of Section 2514 throughout the remainder of the site and the preservation of wetland and woodland areas on the site make the application of the major drive provisions difficult to achieve; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for the location of the dumpster enclosure in the side yard adjacent to Building One, given that it is screened and in the best location for screening; 3) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for the east yard building setback (188 feet required, 77 feet proposed), given the practical difficulty of the property that exists; 4) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance to allow accessory structures (guard booths) in the front yard, as a requirement for safety considerations for the structure; 5) A City Council Waiver of Fire Prevention Code to allow access control gates with additional detail provided by the Applicant on the final design; 6) Planning Commission approval to allow taller buildings in certain areas of the City zoned OST, as indicated in the Ordinance, based on the stepback of the building and the mitigation of the exterior building lighting; 7) Planning Commission approval for driveway encroaching within the required twenty-foot setback along the east property line, since additional setback area is provided elsewhere on the site; 8) A Planning Commission Waiver of the berm and plantings adjacent to M-5; 9) A Planning Commission Waiver of berm on Twelve Mile; 10) A Planning Commission Waiver for street tree requirements on M-5, 12 Mile and Haggerty Road, subject to Applicant providing written verification from agencies of jurisdiction that trees will not be allowed; 11) A Planning Commission Finding that the screening requirements of the loading zones for the OST District are met by the design of the building; 12) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant letters; 13) A Planning Commission Waiver for the berm running along the access road toward Haggerty, such as that the plan does not disturb the natural features; 14) Modification of the traffic study by the Applicant as indicated by the City Consultant; and 15) A Planning Commission recommendation to City Council for limitation of the Helistop hours and potential flight paths be limited; for the reason that the plan meets the Zoning Ordinance and Master Plan for Land Use.
Mr. Schultz suggested that the Helistop limitation be stated in the Helistop motion. The maker and the seconder of the motion agreed.
Chair Cassis allowed an audience member to ask whether there would be a dust abatement plan associated with construction. Chair Cassis said that the road was paved, which will already help. Chair Cassis also stated that Novi’s servicemaster would be on top of this item; this is the toughest community in the area, in terms of monitoring construction sites.
Another audience member was afraid that people would all turn south on Haggerty once they see the traffic on the expressway. Chair Cassis said that the Haggerty drive would be closed. The man stated that the people would drive Twelve Mile to Haggerty. Chair Cassis responded that it was not possible to second-guess this traffic. The resident was sure that Haggerty’s traffic would be affected. The resident also said that the creek was very narrow. Chair Cassis said he held the Engineer responsible for ensuring that this plan provides for adequate runoff. The man was also afraid of the helicopter traffic, because the Police fly over the mobile home park all the time. Chair Cassis said that the Police Department’s concern was not located in the same place as this Applicant’s concern.
James Branigan, another audience member, was afraid of how the footings for the building may affect the stormwater management. The ecosystem runs underground. The footings could cause excess runoff or dry up the wetlands. Chair Cassis said that this will all be monitored, starting at the construction phase. The man was also worried about the road. Chair Cassis appreciated the man’s comments. Chair Cassis told the audience that the open forum was closed. Again he said that the City is very stringent in upholding the Ordinance.
Chair Cassis said the current ITC building is very secure. Mr. Bennett said that people are checked into the building, mostly because of the governing body that manages them for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and NORC requirements. This is a highly sensitive business. There is a lot of damage that could be done. This business has to be protected.
Chair Cassis asked about the noise and temperature levels for the operation. Mr. Bennett said that the environment inside is very strict and won’t generate too much noise.
Chair Cassis asked about the status of ITC. Mr. Bennett said that it is a publicly traded company. It is an independent stand alone transmission company. They do not own generation or distribution. Their purpose is to improve the infrastructure of the transmission grid to prevent things like the 2003 blackout. They will be able to reduce the price of electricity if more generators come into the game and compete. The company has to answer to its shareholders. They must answer to the governing bodies.
Chair Cassis said this company has a great reputation. ITC wants to stay in Novi and bring more employees. They want to pay taxes to Novi. This company wants to invest in Novi. This company is an asset. The project has been thoroughly examined by the Planning Department and the Building Department. Every Ordinance on the books has been looked after and abided by. This site is actually going to improve the wetland and woodland situation. A conservation easement will be placed between this site and the neighbors as a permanent buffer. They are going to take care of the wetlands by managing them. The surrounding sites have nothing to fear. Chair Cassis welcomed them to the City and wished them prosperity.
In the matter of the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, SP06-53, motion to grant approval of the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for the road design standards of Section 2514, as detailed in the review letter, as recommended, since the Applicant has met the intent of Section 2514 throughout the remainder of the site and the preservation of wetland and woodland areas on the site make the application of the major drive provisions difficult to achieve; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for the location of the dumpster enclosure in the side yard adjacent to Building One, given that it is screened and in the best location for screening; 3) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance for the east yard building setback (188 feet required, 77 feet proposed), given the practical difficulty of the property that exists; 4) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance to allow accessory structures (guard booths) in the front yard, as a requirement for safety considerations for the structure; 5) A City Council Waiver of Fire Prevention Code to allow access control gates with additional detail provided by the Applicant on the final design; 6) Planning Commission approval to allow taller buildings in certain areas of the City zoned OST, as indicated in the Ordinance, based on the stepback of the building and the mitigation of the exterior building lighting; 7) Planning Commission approval for driveway encroaching within the required twenty-foot setback along the east property line, since additional setback area is provided elsewhere on the site; 8) A Planning Commission Waiver of the berm and plantings adjacent to M-5; 9) A Planning Commission Waiver of berm on Twelve Mile; 10) A Planning Commission Waiver for street tree requirements on M-5, 12 Mile and Haggerty Road, subject to Applicant providing written verification from agencies of jurisdiction that trees will not be allowed; 11) A Planning Commission Finding that the screening requirements of the loading zones for the OST District are met by the design of the building; 12) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Consultant letters; 13) A Planning Commission Waiver for the berm running along the access road toward Haggerty, such as that the plan does not disturb the natural features; and 14) Modification of the traffic study by the Applicant as indicated by the City Consultant; for the reason that the plan meets the Zoning Ordinance and Master Plan for Land Use. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, SP06-53, motion to grant approval of the Woodland Permit subject to: 1) The remaining woodlands on site being placed in a conservation easement, as recommended by the City’s Environmental Consultant and in keeping with previous approval of a woodland permit for this site; 2) Additional woodland information being provided at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, prior to the Woodland Permit being issued; for the reason that the plan is otherwise in compliance with the Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, SP06-53, motion to grant approval of the non-minor use Wetland Permit, and authorization to encroach in the natural features setback for proposed permanent impacts subject to: 1) A Wetland Use Permit being granted by the MDEQ; 2) Additional wetland information being provided prior to the Wetland Permit being issued; 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:
In the matter of the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, SP06-53, motion to grant approval of the Stormwater Management Plan subject to additional wetland information being provided at the time of Final Site Plan submittal, 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:
In the matter of the request of Joe Bennett of ITC Transmission Company, SP06-61, motion to recommend approval to City Council of the Preliminary Site Plan for the helistop location subject to: 1) The comments in the attached review letters being addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal; and 2) A Planning Commission recommendation to City Council for limitation of the Helistop hours and potential flight paths be limited; for the reason that the plan is otherwise in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. Motion carried 9-0.
The Planning Commission took a ten minute break.
3. BECK NORTH CORPORATE PARK LOTS 29 & 30, SP06-46
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Amson Dembs Development for Preliminary Site Plan, Woodland Permit, and Stormwater Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 4, east of Hudson Drive between Nadlan Court and Peary Court, in the I-1, Light Industrial District. The subject property is approximately 4.18 acres. The Applicant is proposing a 63,019 square foot speculative light industrial building.
The Applicant was not present, but attendance is not a requirement; the Planning Commission reviewed the request. City Attorney Tom Schultz encouraged the Planning Commission to hold the Public Hearing.
Planner Mark Spencer described the project. The Applicant, Amson Dembs Development, is seeking preliminary site plan, woodland permit and stormwater management plan approval for a proposed 63,019 square-foot speculative light industrial building with accessory offices, parking facilities and utilities on 4.18 acres of vacant land on Units 29 and 30 and a portion of Units 26 and 29 in Phase II of the Beck North Corporate Park. The proposal is located in Section 4 on the east side of Hudson Drive between Peary Court and Nadlan Court.
The development is located in the I-1, Light Industrial District, as are the surrounding properties. To the east and south lies open space in Beck North Phase II Corporate Park. To the west and north there are vacant industrial lots in Beck North Phase II Corporate Park. Further east are open space owned by the City and the Bristol Corners Subdivision. The property is designated in the Master Plan for Land Use for Light Industrial Uses, as are the surrounding properties.
The City’s wetland map depicts regulated wetlands in the preserved open space along the east and south side of the site. The City’s woodland map depicts the northern portion of this site as a medium dense regulated woodland. Although the majority of this woodland is planned for removal, the adjacent woodland is being preserved in the common area of the corporate park. The City’s Natural Features map shows medium priority habitat areas on the site. The Planning Commission should be aware that the location of various natural features on the site was considered when the site condominium for the corporate park was approved and a substantial amount of wetlands and woodlands were preserved via a conservation easement.
The City’s Planning Department, Landscape Architect, and Engineering Department all recommend approval of the preliminary site plan with minor corrections to be addressed on the Final Site Plan submittal. The Applicant must address meeting the parking lot setback requirements, though this may just be a labeling error on the site plan. The proposed site plan also depicts 27 potential parking spaces to be constructed at a later time if needed. A separate approval will be required to address the deferred parking. The woodlands in this area will be saved unless this parking area is built in the future. The site plan depicts an access easement connecting the proposed site with Nadlan Court to the north. The exact location of this easement may change as the neighboring lot is developed. The Applicant has indicated they will build an access road with this development as recommended by the City’s Engineer.
The Traffic Engineer recommends extending the sidewalk adjacent to the parking lot to connect the barrier free spaces with the employee entrance. The Applicant indicated this sidewalk will be added.
The City’s Woodland Consultant does not recommend approval of the site plan for a Woodland Permit as submitted. The Consultant has asked for several changes and the Applicant has stated they intend to comply with all of the items. Staff recommends approval of the woodland permit subject to the Applicant providing the items listed.
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth stated that she tried to reach the Applicant but he did not answer his cell phone.
No one from the audience wished to speak and no correspondence was received so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Meyer was uncomfortable reviewing the plan further without the Applicant’s input. Mr. Schultz told the Planning Commission that they could postpone the request review, approve or deny. He didn’t suggest denying the plan in the absence of the Applicant.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
Motion to postpone the consideration of Beck North Corporation Park, Lots 29 and 30, SP06-46, until the Applicant is available for discussion.
Member Lipski asked whether the plan would require a second Public Hearing if it came back. Mr. Schultz said that the Public Hearing requirement has been fulfilled.
Mr. Spencer said that the Applicant did respond to the items listed in the Traffic Review and the Woodland Review. Mr. Spencer was confident that the items were addressed to the point that those consultants would be satisfied.
Chair Cassis said there was no legal obligation on the part of the Applicant to attend. Chair Cassis didn’t necessarily wish to elongate the process.
Member Lynch said that he would be favorable toward this plan because of this Applicant’s track record with the City. If the Planning Department is comfortable with the plan, he could approve it at this meeting.
Chair Cassis asked Mr. Spencer and the rest of the Staff whether the remaining questions could be answered to their satisfaction. Landscape Architect David Beschke said that he had two issues that the Applicant has agreed to address. Civil Engineer Ben Croy said that he didn’t have any problems. Mr. Spencer said that the parking lot setback is a problem, but again, it might be a labeling issue.
Chair Cassis asked if the parking lot setback was listed as a stipulation in an approving motion, would Mr. Spencer be satisfied; Mr. Spencer said yes.
Ms. McBeth thought the review was straightforward. This is a policy question for the Planning Commission to consider. Does the Planning Commission want to take action on plans when the Applicant is not present? There are three plans in the City at this time from this same developer, so he’ll have to come to another meeting in January anyway.
Mr. Schultz did not think the Planning Commission should discuss the site plan until they have completed their discussion on the postponement.
Member Wrobel asked whether the Planning Commission has had this situation happen in the past; no one could remember an exact situation.
Member Avdoulos thought the plan was straightforward, but out of courtesy to the process, he preferred to postpone.
Member Lipski stated that there are many hypotheticals that could spell danger for the Planning Commission if they chose to vote on the request. He thought it was inappropriate to move forward without giving the Planning Commission members a chance to look the Applicant in the eye. Everything that goes forward is based on the record that is created by the Planning Commission. Many times the Applicant states for the record his willingness to address an item or change a design feature. If this record is made without the input of the Applicant, it is somewhat less useful in the future. He asked that the record reflect that the Public Notice requirement has been satisfied. This request can be brought forward on a future Agenda as a Matter for Consideration as opposed to a Public Hearing.
Member Gutman was able to reach the Applicant; his absence was a horrible misunderstanding. He apologized and looked forward to coming before the Planning Commission at a later date.
roll call vote on Beck North Lots 29 and 30, sp06-46, postponement motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
Motion to postpone the consideration of Beck North Corporation Park, Lots 29 and 30, SP06-46m until the Applicant is available for discussion. Motion carried 9-0.
Ms. McBeth asked the Planning Commission members to hold onto this packet item for the January Agenda.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. APPROVAL OF THE OCTOBER 25, 2006 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Pehrson:
voice vote on minutes approval motion made by gutman and seconded by pehrson:
Motion to approve the minutes of October 25, 2006. Motion carried 9-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Pathway AND SIDEWALK Presentation by PLANNER Mark Spencer ON BEHALF OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE AND THE LIAISON MEMBERS FROM THE CITY COUNCIL AND THE PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
Planner Mark Spencer presented the Pathway and Sidewalk Plan on behalf of the Environmental Committee and its liaisons from City Council and the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission. He presented a short review of the Committee’s Pathway and Sidewalk Prioritization Analysis and Process, a part of the Greenway/Pathway Study, and a tool to help prioritize the future construction of pathways and sidewalks throughout the City.
He thanked the citizens of Novi, City Council members Andrew Mutch and Lynne Paul, Planning Commissioners Wayne Wrobel, Michael Meyer, Brian Burke and David Lipski, Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commissioner Karen Zycyznski, and the Plan Review Center Staff who have all worked to develop the Pathway and Sidewalk Prioritization Analysis.
Mr. Spencer is a regular walker and cyclist in the City. He has regularly thought about how nice it would be if the paths were complete throughout the city. Novi is a young and vibrant city that has continually strived to provide quality infrastructure for its citizens. The City has a long standing interest in pathways and sidewalks. It continues to set aside resources to build new pathways and sidewalks such as the project just completed on Eleven Mile. For many years the City has required new developments to install their portion of the pathway and sidewalk system and many of the City’s pathways and sidewalks are a result of this policy. Looking toward the future, the City continues to plan for additional pathways and sidewalks. In 2004, the City adopted a basic long term sidewalk and pathway phasing plan that was incorporated into the Master Plan for Land Use. After the adoption of the Plan, the City Council authorized funds to produce a Greenways/Pathways Study to use as a City wide pathway and sidewalk plan.
The Greenways/Pathways Study began by listening to the community. Throughout the last year and a half, the City collected comments regarding pathways and sidewalks from scores of City residents. City-wide surveys were conducted, public meetings held and comments were solicited at City events. The results were clear: the residents of Novi want safe sidewalks and pathways that are connected to more places. Although the majority the residents said they primarily use the pathway and sidewalk system for exercise, they also said it was an important component of the City’s transportation network.
Mr. Spencer described the Prioritization Analysis and Process steps and their development. As part of the Greenway/Pathway Study, City staff inventoried and mapped the existing public pathways and sidewalks within and adjacent to the City. With this data and considerable public input, proposed segments along the arterial and collector road system were identified and some missing segments of local street sidewalks were also identified. With input from the City’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, Oakland County Parks, Oakland County Planning and the Southeast Michigan Greenways Initiative, several proposed regional and cross-town pathway segments were also identified. Then, all of these segments were placed in a worksheet along with an identification number, the segment location, the type of facility, the number of pieces in the segment and the overall segment length.
Next, each proposed segment was reviewed against a set of "service to the community criteria." A series of maps was developed to help with the analysis of the proposed segments. Review points were assigned to each proposed segment based on the Committee’s view of the importance of the category to the residents of the City. Surveys and comments from the public were used to help determine the importance of each category.
Safety was viewed as the most important review category. Pedestrian and bicycle accident report data from 1998 to 2006 was collected from the Police Department and mapped. Segments adjacent to intersections and road frontages where the pedestrian or bicycle accidents were reported were assigned points. Additional points were assigned for multiple accidents. Since roads with higher traffic counts were potentially more dangerous, points were awarded to segments adjacent to higher traffic-count roads.
The next most important category identified was access to destinations. Maps were developed for different types of destinations and points were assigned to potential segments that would provide connectivity to those destinations. Several categories of popular destinations were identified: schools, parks, the library, city hall,
shopping areas and places of worship.
As part of the larger southeast Michigan community Novi residents also want pathway and sidewalk connections to local and regional systems in neighboring communities. Maps were developed showing the locations of pathways and sidewalks in neighboring communities and points were assigned to proposed segments that would provide connectivity to those facilities.
Since longer segments of pathways and sidewalks tend to be used more than smaller links, points were awarded to segments that, when constructed, would result in longer contiguous segments of pathways and sidewalks adjacent to arterial and collector roads.
Additional points were assigned to each segment based on the population density of the section of the City where the segment is located. Thus segments that could serve more of the City’s residents received more points.
An important part of providing service to a community is recognizing the needs that are expressed by the residents of the community. In the considerable public interest category points were awarded to segments that have been asked for by the public.
At this stage of the analysis and process, "service to the community" points were totaled for all potential segments. The twenty segments receiving the most points were identified for further review. They were reviewed against a set of broad financial criteria reflective of the relative cost for the City to provide the segment.
The cost of constructing a pathway or sidewalk segment is directly related to the ease of constructing it. Each proposed segment was reviewed in consultation with the City Engineering Department and points were awarded based on how difficult it would be to build the segment. Factors considered include steep terrain, wetlands and woodlands. Potentially easier-to-build segments received the most points.
Another substantial cost factor is obtaining right-of-way or easements for the pathway or sidewalk. Proposed segments received points where adequate right-of-way exists for all or a partial length of the segment.
Sidewalks and pathways that could be constructed in whole or in part with funds from outside sources were identified and awarded points. Some of the potential sources of outside funds include road funds, enhancement grants, foundation grants, recreation grants and private donations.
Segments that have a high potential of being built in conjunction with private development were awarded negative points. This reflected the Committee’s desire for the City not to use its funds to build a pathway or sidewalk segment that would likely be built in the near future when private development occurred on the adjacent property.
After these segments were reviewed against the financial criteria, points were totaled for all segments and the proposed segments were again ranked. The final top–twenty ranked proposed pathway and sidewalk segment list and accompanying maps complete the analysis process.
The Environmental Committee and its liaison members thank the City Council City Council for their approval of the Pathway and Sidewalk Prioritization Analysis and Process to use as a tool to help prioritize the future construction of pathways and sidewalks segments throughout the City. Through the City’s continuing efforts, its pathway and sidewalk system will continue to grow and meet expectations. In the future sidewalks and pathways will connect desired destinations. Someday, everyone will be able to walk or bike to anywhere in the City.
Mr. Spencer further explained how the points were awarded and how the committee reviewed this effort, tweaking the numbers along the way. All of these sidewalk segments were reviewed at their location.
Member Lynch was pleased with the report and was glad to see it was based on quantitative information. It will make the future implementation less subjective. He wondered if this would raise taxes. Mr. Spencer said that this is just the prioritization process; no commitment to funds has been made.
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth added that with this portion of the project complete, City Council and the Planning Commission can consider this item when preparing the Capital Improvement Program budget. Usually there are some sidewalk projects planned each year, and this study will help in the decision making process.
Member Pehrson thanked everyone for their help and noted that the emotion has now been taken out of the sidewalk equation. Member Pehrson asked about the design standards. Mr. Spencer said that sidewalks would be built to the standing ADA standards. The newer sidewalks in the City have detectable surfaces at intersections and other appropriate locations. The full study may also include other recommendations for design from the Engineering Department.
Member Pehrson asked what the plan was for procuring grants. Mr. Spencer said that was a secondary process. The Engineering Department has already identified some grants. There are contacts through the Managers Office that also help with the grant-writing process. Some communities have adopted plans that provide for a certain amount of sidewalks to be completed within given timeframes. Milford is an example of a community that just received a grant to connect their village to Kensington. The City does not have any grant applications active at this time, for the purpose of providing sidewalks. There is money associated with some upcoming road projects that will provide for sidewalks.
Ms. McBeth noted that this prioritization is an important component of the City’s arsenal, specifically when there is an attempt to procure grant money.
Member Wrobel has discussed this plan with fellow citizens. He said that he encouraged them to keep active in the City’s budget process and told them to contact their City Council members so as to keep this plan moving forward.
Member Pehrson suggested that the Planning Commission meetings be scheduled for 7:00 PM so that they do not run so late into the evening.
Member Lynch supported it for the winter months but not necessarily during the summer (golfing) season.
Member Wrobel supported the suggestion, as did Member Meyer and Member Gutman.
City Attorney Tom Schultz noted that the City’s calendar is being printed, which lists the meetings at 7:30 PM.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Meyer:
roll call vote on meeting start time motion made by member gutman and seconded by member meyer:
Motion to move the Planning Commission meeting time to 7:00 PM. Motion carried 7-2 (Yes: Avdoulos, Burke, Cassis, Gutman, Meyer, Pehrson, Wrobel; No: Lipski, Lynch)
Member Meyer expressed his thanks for the informational material that comes with his Planning Commission packet. He read one article that describes the importance of the Planning Commission being a listening ear for the benefit of the community. He felt that the Planning Commission fulfilled that role at this evening’s meeting. Chair Cassis commented that he is willing to bend protocol rules to allow citizens to speak more than once (as it occurred during the ITC review), because he felt that substance over form was the prevailing attitude of this Planning Commission.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Pehrson,
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at or about 11:00 PM.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 12/18/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
MON/TUE 12/25 & 12/26 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON/TUE 01/01 & 01/02 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON 01/08/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 01/10/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 01/22/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 01/24/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 02/05/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 02/14/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 02/20/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 02/28/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, January 19, 2007 Signature on File
Date Approved: January 24, 2007 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant