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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:00 PM.
Present: Members John Avdoulos, Brian Burke, Victor Cassis, Andrew Gutman, Michael Lynch (7:25 PM), Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Wayne Wrobel
Absent: Member David Lipski (excused)
Also Present: Steve Rumple, Director of Community Development; Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director of Community Development; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Tim Schmitt, Planner; David Beschke, Landscape Architect; Dr. John Freeland, Environmental Consultant; Steve Dearing, Traffic Consultant; Tom Schultz, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Pehrson 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 motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
Motion to approve the Agenda of May 23, 2007. Motion carried 8-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no correspondence to share.
There were no Committee Reports.
PLANNING DIRECTOR REPORT
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said that the Supplemental Issues at the end of the Agenda will include discussion of the Legal Training and the Planning Commission Liaison position to the ZBA.
1. introduction of interns from bulgaria
Ms. McBeth introduced Asan Imamov and Dimitar Petrushev, two young men from Bulgaria who are interning in Novi for three weeks as part of the ICMA (International City-County Management Association) Local Economic Development Program called City Links. A total of thirty economic specialists came to the United States as part of this program.
Mr. Petrushev said that he has been part of this program for one year. His municipality is called Strajitsa and is made up of one city and 21 villages. It has a planning component which is slightly different from Noviís Planning Commission, though the two bodies function about the same: The focus is on planning. Their "commission" is made up of government employees, though there is a time in which a public discussion is held. Mr. Petrushevís municipality is about 500 square kilometers in size.
Mr. Imamov is from a municipality called Gotse Delchev, which is located in southwest Bulgaria near the border. He, too, is here learning about economic development. Mr. Imamov said that it was the financing organization behind the City Links program that chose Novi as one of the locations. Chair Cassis wished the men well.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
The Public Hearing for Skating Dynamics was postponed at the request of the Applicant.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. ACO HARDWARE Ė OUTDOOR SALES, SP07-17
Consideration of the request of Dick Rosenberger of ACO Hardware, for revised Final Site Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 23, at the northwest corner of Ten Mile and Meadowbrook Road, in the B-3, General Business District. The Applicant is proposing to add an outdoor sales area to the north of the existing ACO Hardware store in the Novi-Ten Shopping Center.
Planner Tim Schmitt described the project. The shopping center is zoned B-3 and master planned for Local Commercial. Manor Park Apartments to the west are zoned RM-1 and master planned for Multiple Family Residential. The congregate care facility to the east is zoned RM-1and master planned for Office. The remaining properties in the area are zoned B-1 and master planned for Local Commercial.
The Applicant proposes to install a six-foot masonry wall with wrought iron fence on the north end of the building. The area is an underutilized parking lot of an open-designed ell-shaped shopping center. Under the temporary use provisions, outdoor storage can occur three times per year for a maximum for fifteen days. ACOís history of outdoor storage exceeds the amount intended in the temporary use provision language; they really need to seek a use variance for outdoor storage, but the use of this screening wall requires the Planning Commission approval prior to their going to the ZBA.
The Community Development Department does not recommend the approval of this project, in their effort to remain consistent with previous requests of a similar nature. Outdoor storage is not permitted in Commercial Districts. A Section 9 Waiver is also required for the patterned concrete material, as the Applicant has not proposed brick. The Applicant states the patterned concrete will match the existing building. The City has only approved outdoor storage for The Home Depot elsewhere in the City, and that Applicant was required to use brick. Staff understands this Applicantís request to use the patterned concrete, but the real issue is that outdoor storage is not permitted in this zoning district. Both Staff and the Applicant believe this review first by the Planning Commission and then the ZBA is the route to go, so as to make the determination on this outdoor storage permanent.
Chair Cassis asked what effect this approval would have on the other shopping center tenants. Mr. Schmitt said that the landlord of this shopping center provided a document that states this Applicant has the right to seek this approval. The storage will displace twelve parking spaces, but the site is substantially overparked. It was built to an outdated standard. Mr. Schmitt noted that no one really ever parks in this area anyway. The City was not obligated to inform the other tenants, because this is not a Public Hearing. Staff believes that with screening, this change would be better than the granting of temporary outdoor storage without screening.
Dick Rosenberger of ACO addressed the Planning Commission. He said that he really can no longer seek a temporary use permit, as it does not provide the relief that he needs for his outdoor storage. He wanted the wall to blend with the existing wall so it is not a distraction. This center was built in 1977 and has been painted a number of times. He did not want to use brick, and he would probably end up painting it anyway.
Member Avdoulos agreed that the proper procedure must be followed. Outdoor storage is inherent to this type of business. He would give a positive recommendation to the ZBA regarding the Applicantís request for outdoor storage. As Member Avdoulos understood, the wall the Applicant is proposing is created using a form that when removed, will result in a brick-looking wall. Member Avdoulos did not like to go against the recommendation of Staff, but he wasnít a big fan of using a brick wall that could develop problems if it isnít designed with aluminum caps or something of that nature. For this use and based on its location, Member Avdoulos supported the Applicantís request. He said it was important that the description of this wall is stated as a patterned-brick concrete wall. It will be six feet tall and will have wrought iron fence.
Member Avdoulos commented that the parking lot of this shopping center was not always easy to navigate, but this change would not impact the need for parking in any way.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of the request of Dick Rosenberger of ACO Hardware, S07-17, motion to grant approval of the revised Final Site Plan subject to: 1) A ZBA Variance to allow outside sales and storage of goods in the B-3 Zoning District; 2) A Planning Commission Section 9 Waiver to allow a patterned brick wall made out of concrete, in lieu of brick for the proposed screenwall; and 3) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Review letters, for the reason that the request meets the basic intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
Member Wrobel was concerned that security was minimal with this wall height, and that down the road the Applicant may have an issue. Mr. Rosenberger said that theft of the stored product has not been a problem for him. The storage will be top soil, flowers, etc. Even when the storage was on their sidewalk they didnít have much of a problem. There will be sensor lights installed.
Member Lynch arrived at 7:25 PM.
Member Meyer thought this was a wonderful addition. He thought that the parking area was somewhat of a mystery anyway. He would love to see something address all the empty parking near the bank in this shopping center Ė something to improve the centerís ambience.
Chair Cassis liked frequenting this store because the employees are helpful and courteous.
roll call vote on aco Hardware, sp07-17, REVISED Final Site Plan motion made by Member Avdoulos and seconded by Member Pehrson:
In the matter of the request of Dick Rosenberger of ACO Hardware, SP07-17, motion to grant approval of the revised Final Site Plan subject to: 1) A ZBA Variance to allow outside sales and storage of goods in the B-3 Zoning District; 2) A Planning Commission Section 9 Waiver to allow a patterned brick wall made out of concrete, in lieu of brick for the proposed screenwall; and 3) Compliance with all conditions and requirements listed in the Staff and Review letters, for the reason that the request meets the basic intent of the Zoning Ordinance. Motion carried 8-0.
2. NOVI PROMENADE OUTLOT 1, SP07-10A
Consideration of the request of Oliver Hatcher Construction, for Preliminary Site Plan, Special Land Use Permit, and Stormwater Management Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 17, east of Wixom Road, south of Grand River Avenue, in the I-1, Light Industrial District, subject to the B-3, General Business Regulations, pursuant to the terms of the Novi Equities Partnership Consent Judgment. The Applicant is proposing a 13,000 square-foot retail development.
Member Gutman announced that he has the pleasure of working with one of the applicants of this request, and while he had no monetary interest in this project, he would recuse himself if that was the will of the Planning Commission. He felt he could render a fair and just decision. The Planning Commission did not object to Member Gutman remaining a part of this consideration.
Planner Kristen Kapelanski described the project and its location on the southeast corner of Wixom Road and Grand River Avenue. This property zoned I-1 but is subject to the Consent Judgment dictate that any project thereon would be reviewed against the B-3 standards. It is master planned for Community Commercial, as is the immediate surrounding area. The subject property is bordered by Varsity Lincoln Mercury (zoned B-3) to the north, vacant land to the west (zoned B-2), and Samís Club to the east and south (part of the Consent Judgment). Further south are Catholic Central and a Target store.
There are no wetlands or woodlands.
This project must seek Special Land Use approval for the drive-through design on the west side of the building. The Planning Commission must consider the findings in Section 2516.2.c of the Ordinance in conjunction with this request. Staff does not have any major concerns with this drive-through design. The Applicant is required to submit a Noise Analysis in conjunction with the Special Land Use request.
The Applicant must seek a ZBA Variance for the side yard loading zone, which is supported by Staff. A Variance is also necessary for the dumpsterís two-foot proximity to the adjacent property line. Otherwise, there are only minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
The Landscape Review recommends approval. The Applicant seeks a Planning Commission Waiver of the right-of-way berm requirement, and the request is supported by Staff.
The Traffic Review, Engineering Review, Fire Department Review and FaÁade Review all noted minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal.
Ms. Kapelanski reminded the Planning Commission that they began this consideration at the April 25, 2007 Planning Commission meeting. The minutes of that meeting were provided to the members for review. A copy of the first site plan was provided for comparison purposes. Previously the Planning Commission was concerned about the traffic circulation around the drive-through area, and the loading zone location in relation to the drive-through stacking lane. The Applicant has revised their plan to address these concerns. The island adjacent to the drive-through window area has been revised to reduce the conflict between vehicles circulating through the site and customers exiting the drive-through. The loading zone has been moved to the eastern end of the property, to reduce the conflict trucks may have with the drive-through stacking lane. The median break across from the exit-only drive has been closed off to prevent motorists from turning into the exit-only drive.
Doug Fura addressed the Planning Commission. He thought the Planning Commissionís issues had been addressed. There may be an open issue with the closing of the main drive island. The Fire Marshal has agreed that this could be closed off. Mr. Fura does not own this road, but he said he would do what he can to rectify this situation. The shopping center owner does not know if he has the authority to grant this closing, or if such power belongs to Samís Club.
Member Pehrson thanked the Applicant for his work. He thought the result addressed the Planning Commissionís comments. He appreciated the comments regarding the island ownership. With the changes made, Member Pehrson supported the Applicantís request for approval.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Dave Tremonti of Oliver/Hatcher Construction for Novi Promenade Outlot 1, SP07-10A, motion to approve the Special Land Use permit subject to: 1) A Planning Commission finding under Section 2516.2.c for the Special Land Use permit that, relative to other feasible uses of the site, the proposed use: a) Will not cause any detrimental impact on existing thoroughfares; b) Will not cause any detrimental impact on the capabilities of public services and facilities; c) Is compatible with the natural features and characteristics of the land; d) Is compatible with adjacent uses of land in terms of location, size, character, and impact on adjacent property or the surrounding neighborhood; e) Is consistent with the goals, objectives and recommendations of the Cityís Master Plan for Land Use; f) Will promote the use of land in a socially and economically desirable manner; g) Is (1) listed among the provision of uses requiring Special Land Use review as set forth in the various zoning districts of this Ordinance, and (2) is in harmony with the purposes and conforms to the applicable site design regulations of the zoning district in which it is located; and 2) 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 Master Plan for Land use.
Member Lynch asked Steve Dearing, Traffic Consultant, to comment on this projectís impact on existing thoroughfares. Mr. Dearing of OHM stated that the primary peak morning uses will come from the anticipated Starbucks-type use. Most of that traffic is pass-by Ė itís traffic that is already on the road system, just pulling in to get coffee and returning to the road system. It is not really adding new traffic to the stream that is already out there. It only represents additional drive-way movements in and out of the site, but no net increase. The primary traffic impacts will more likely be felt throughout the rest of the day and at the evening peak. However, based on the size of the development, not much traffic will be generated, when compared to Target and Samís Club. The site will have smaller storefronts, which lends itself to pass-by traffic, i.e., cars that are already traveling on the road system. The traffic impacts will be proportionally minor to an extent that canít be measured in the day-to-day fluctuation on both Wixom and Grand River.
Member Lynch thought the new design would provide for a better traffic flow. He didnít understand why the exit couldnít be moved further west. Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said this was looked at during the pre-application review and she yielded the floor to Mr. Dearing for the explanation. Mr. Dearing said there are two reasons not to line the drives up perfectly. First, that offset ensures that the leadfoot drivers are not predominant on the site. This is a traffic-calming measure, which is good for an area where pedestrians will be walking. Second, the drive is further away from the main intersection, which means that it will be less likely for this outlot traffic to interfere with the queued-up traffic waiting at the Wixom Road traffic light. Generally, it is good designing to put the driveway as far away as possible from an intersection. This design seems to provide an appropriate distance.
Member Lynch asked how to ensure that the proposed drive design takes place. Ms. Kapelanski responded that the Applicant will do his best, but he canít promise this closure because the decision is not in his hands. If it is not closed, it will be signed with "Do no enter" or "No turns" signs. Member Lynch thought this design feature could be a major stumbling block. Chair Cassis asked City Attorney Tom Schultz to comment.
Mr. Schultz responded that the City cannot ensure that this island split will ever be closed off. As part of the Final Site Plan review, the City will help this Applicant approach whoever needs approaching, and the terms of the Consent Judgment will be reviewed to determine whether any language supports the current design. Mr. Schultz noted that the island is off-site from this outlot.
Member Lynch supported the plan, and he thought the new design was a significant improvement. He was still concerned about Wixom Road traffic and the split in the island, but he still gave his support.
Chair Cassis said that there are many plans that are approved with less than optimum designs, but the Planning Commission must rely on the practicality and good judgment of the owners of the site. Member Lynch responded that the City could help ask the Promenade owners to fill in the island gap. Once the Fire Marshal said he didnít need that gap, Member Lynch thought a major hurdle was passed. Now, the new design is the best that this Applicant could propose.
Member Burke thanked the Applicants for working so well with the City, and wished them well.
Member Avdoulos also appreciated the Applicantís hard work. The spirit of cooperation paid off. He noted that by sliding the building over, a larger island was created on the west side, between the drive-through and the parking. This eliminated Member Avdoulosí concerns for traffic on that side of the building. He felt Mr. Dearingís comments were appropriate. This is a small site, and the biggest concern is safety. He said the elevation shown is nice, and this will be a nice project. He supported the project.
Chair Cassis agreed with his colleagues. This is a great improvement from the last design. This nice looking building will be a great addition to the entire complex. He liked the idea of this project, as it will serve the needs of the people of the area, for those items and services that are not available at the large box stores.
roll call vote on novi promenade outlot 1, sp07-10a, Special Land Use motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Dave Tremonti of Oliver/Hatcher Construction for Novi Promenade Outlot 1, SP07-10A, motion to approve the Special Land Use permit subject to: 1) A Planning Commission finding under Section 2516.2.c for the Special Land Use permit that, relative to other feasible uses of the site, the proposed use: a) Will not cause any detrimental impact on existing thoroughfares; b) Will not cause any detrimental impact on the capabilities of public services and facilities; c) Is compatible with the natural features and characteristics of the land; d) Is compatible with adjacent uses of land in terms of location, size, character, and impact on adjacent property or the surrounding neighborhood; e) Is consistent with the goals, objectives and recommendations of the Cityís Master Plan for Land Use; f) Will promote the use of land in a socially and economically desirable manner; g) Is (1) listed among the provision of uses requiring Special Land Use review as set forth in the various zoning districts of this Ordinance, and (2) is in harmony with the purposes and conforms to the applicable site design regulations of the zoning district in which it is located; and 2) 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 Master Plan for Land use. Motion carried 8-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Dave Tremonti of Oliver/Hatcher Construction for Novi Promenade Outlot 1, SP07-10A, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance to allow the loading area in the side yard; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance to allow a two-foot setback for the accessory structure from the property line; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver for the right-of-way berm requirement along Wixom Road; and 4) 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.
Member Avdoulos stated that Oliver Hatcher is a great company to bring forward this high-quality project. Chair Cassis agreed.
roll call vote on novi promenade outlot 1, sp07-10a, Preliminary Site Plan motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Dave Tremonti of Oliver/Hatcher Construction for Novi Promenade Outlot 1, SP07-10A, motion to approve the Preliminary Site Plan subject to: 1) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance to allow the loading area in the side yard; 2) A Zoning Board of Appeals Variance to allow a two-foot setback for the accessory structure from the property line; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver for the right-of-way berm requirement along Wixom Road; and 4) 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 8-0.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
roll call vote on novi promenade outlot 1, sp07-10a, Stormwater Management Plan motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Dave Tremonti of Oliver/Hatcher Construction for Novi Promenade Outlot 1, SP07-10A, motion to approve the Stormwater Management Plan subject to: 1) The Applicant providing an updated Stormwater Management Plan at the time of Final Site Plan submittal; and 2) 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 8-0.
3. SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR JUNE 13, 2007 FOR ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.218, FOR MODIFICATIONS TO THE EXPO ZONING DISTRICT
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Burke:
roll call vote on Text AMendment 18.218 Public Hearing date motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Burke:
Motion to set a Public Hearing for June 13, 2007 for Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.218, for modifications to the Expo Zoning District. Motion carried 8-0.
4. REFERRAL OF ADDITIONAL AREAS FOR REVIEW BY MASTER PLAN AND ZONING COMMITTEE
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said that information would be put together on the Ten Mile properties seeking rezoning for the upcoming Master Plan and Zoning Committee meeting. Some other areas that the Planning Commission may wish to have the Committee review at the same time are the Special Planning Project Areas 1 (southeast corner of Ten Mile and Novi Road) and 2 (Twelve Mile west of Wixom Road) cited on the 2004 Master Plan update, the Twelve Mile and West Park triangle, and the I-96 and Novi Road intersection.
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Pehrson:
Motion to refer additional areas for review to the Master Plan and Zoning Committee: 1) The Special Planning Project Areas 1 (southeast corner of Ten Mile and Novi Road) and 2 (Twelve Mile west of Wixom Road); 2) The Twelve Mile and West Park triangle; and 3) The I-96 and Novi Road intersection.
Member Avdoulos asked about the upcoming meeting. Ms. McBeth said that the date of the meeting is May 29, 2007, at which time the Committee would discuss the work program associated with all of these reviews. Some background information would be provided.
roll call vote on Master Plan review motion made by Member Lynch and seconded by Member Pehrson:
Motion to refer additional areas for review to the Master Plan and Zoning Committee: 1) The Special Planning Project Areas 1 (southeast corner of Ten Mile and Novi Road) and 2 (Twelve Mile west of Wixom Road); 2) The Twelve Mile and West Park triangle; and 3) The I-96 and Novi Road intersection. Motion carried 8-0.
5. APPROVAL OF THE MAY 9, 2007 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Burke:
roll call vote on minutes approval motion made by Member Gutman and seconded by Member Burke:
Motion to approve the May 9, 2007 Planning Commission minutes. Motion carried 8-0.
Member Meyer asked that his name be added to the list of present Planning Commission members in the previous set of minutes.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. WETLAND AND WOODLAND PRESENTATION BY DR. JOHN FREELAND OF ECT
Dr. John Freeland of ECT addressed the Planning Commission. His company, Environmental Consulting Technology, employs about 300 people throughout Michigan, Florida and Delaware. He works out of the Ann Arbor office. His company is now consulting on both the wetland and woodland aspects of the Cityís site plans. He listed Don Tilton, Andrea Kline, Anne Vaara, Kelly Karll, Pete Hill, Marty Boot, Chip Thomas, Tonya Hunter, Martha Holzheier and Michelle Gravenstook as fellow employees who assist with the Novi reviews.
Their reproach is integrated. They understand that environmental review is a quality of life issue. Each review is studied for Ordinance compliance, taking into consideration the site plan development and stormwater management plan. They perform site plan and Single Family Residential plot plan reviews. The City regulates wetlands and their 15-foot buffers, and ECT follows up on any wetland encroachment complaints. They perform boundary verifications to define the wetlands and woodlands. They review conservation easements. They coordinate efforts with the MDEQ on those wetlands that are state-regulated. ECT issues the wetland and woodland permits. When wetlands are filled in as part of a site plan, the wetland mitigation and monitoring are also overseen by ECT. They oversee woodland replacement based on the Ordinance requirements. They also attend public meetings.
Wetlands are defined formally as land characterized by the presence of water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support wetland vegetation or aquatic life. They are known by such terms as bogs, swamps, marshes and sloughs. They do not need to be flooded year-round; oftentimes they are only saturated in the spring. If the water discourages the growth of plants that like to keep their feet dry, and the area favors species of plants and animals that are adapted to wet conditions, ECT considers the area a wetland.
The justification for the wetland and woodland regulations is the understanding that these are open systems. These areas are not confined by property boundaries. The effect of these areas extends past boundaries, creating a shared interest in preserving the functions and values of the wetlands and woodlands.
Wetlands and woodlands exchange materials and energy with the atmosphere. Heat is radiated from the atmosphere to these areas, and then radiated back out. Living organisms move in and out of the area. There is an exchange of ground water between the two, thereby recharging the ground water. They have a big impact on filtering runoff which affects surface waters. It affects the degree to which the waters will flood, how much water is carried by the rivers and streams, how much flooding there may be in the lakes and ponds. They slow the water down and prevent flooding. Conservation efforts are all about slowing down the water as it moves across the landscape. Water slows down in wetlands and woodlands, making them very important.
Wetlands are protected by the federal regulations first introduced in 1972 with the Federal Clean Water Act, Section 404. This Act is the result of some very dramatic water pollution, e.g., the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland, and the Houston shipping canal catching fire. The Michigan Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act was originally titled the Geomare-Anderson Act and was passed in 1979, and has since been rolled into Public Act 451 passed in 1994. Two sections of that Act are germane to Dr. Freelandís work: The inland lakes and streams, Part 301, and Wetlands Protections, Part 303. The Novi City Ordinance is somewhat stricter than the Michigan regulations. Michiganís laws give that option to municipalities and local governments, so they can design their Ordinances above the State criteria.
The City also has a Wetland Setback Ordinance, recognizing that a buffer zone between wetlands and watercourses helps protect them. This is a 25-foot zone around wetlands, watercourses and detention ponds. This is part of the Cityís Zoning Ordinance, Article 24. There are specific criteria used to define and establish whether a wetland exists. Wetland hydrology, a study of the saturation and inundation of the wetland surface (ponding), and a dominance of water-loving vegetation are all taken into consideration. Wet places develop characteristic soils. There are several types of wetlands: open water, emergent (low-lying, herbaceous, non-woody vegetation), scrub shrub (low-lying woody vegetation) and forested.
A developer can use several resources to help determine whether there are wetlands on his site. He can look at the Cityís wetland map, which can be accessed through the Cityís website. He can look at the soil surveys. He can look at aerial photos. Boundary verifications will be performed on sites where wetlands exist.
Wetlands provide animal habitat and improve water quality by absorbing nutrients and chemicals from the runoff. They help protect shoreline and streambanks. They provide aesthetics. They provide evaporative cooling Ė this reduces the heat island effect that urban areas experience in the summer.
Depositing fill or water into a wetland, dredging and building in the wetland all require a permit. Noviís Ordinance is more stringent. Cutting vegetation requires a permit as well.
David Beschke addressed the Planning Commission to discuss woodlands. Mr. Beschke said that the Woodland Map outlines the protected areas within the City, and was overhauled in 1998, with minor revisions in 2001 and 2003. Woodlands are dynamic and constantly change. The City has a replacement plan in place. The City also has its own planting plan. There is a tree fund. The City has begun working on the updating of the Woodland Map. ECT will be assisting in the process. The mapping will be a concerted effort with Oakland County and Friends of the Rouge. Field surveys will be done on any questionable areas. The completed map will be reviewed by the Environmental Committee. There will be a Public Hearing with a City-wide notification. The map will go before City Council for adoption. Mr. Beschke is an arborist and a member of the Society of Wetland Scientists, so he is quite pleased to be working on this project.
Chair Cassis asked if the environmental industry had a code of ethics to follow. Mr. Beschke said that Michigan is looking to pass a law that requires landscape architects to be licensed; it is one of eight states that does not currently require this position to be licensed Ė only registered.
Dr. Freeland said the Society of Wetland Scientists has a code of ethics. Chair Cassis said that the final decision of whether a wetland truly exists lies in the hands of these professionals. Dr. Freeland said that there are scientific clues that determine a wetlandís existence. For instance, a wetlandís soil is deprived of oxygen and therefore its pigmentation is different.
Dr. Freeland said that the Wetland Ordinance is part of Chapter 37 of the Cityís Ordinance. Wetlands are considered part of the physical, aesthetic, recreation and economic components of the City. Woodlands have important societal values too. They absorb air pollutants, they are noise buffers and they provide visual screening. They are wind-breakers. Trees require plenty of water, which they draw out from the ground, desaturating it so that rainfall and snowfall can be absorbed and there is less runoff.
The official woodland map is under review. Historic and specimen trees are also protected by the Woodland Ordinance. There is a protocol established for what types of trees can replenish cut down woodland trees. Certain species are not allowed in Novi, perhaps because they cannot survive in this region. Tree protection during construction is mandated by the Ordinance, and placement of the protective fencing must take the crown of the tree into consideration, as the root systems extend a similar distance. ECT also follows up on woodland violations.
Dr. Freeland showed the Planning Commission pictures of wetland mitigation. Orchard Hills West is a big mitigation project that is now part of a conservation easement. There is a mitigation area near Columbus Corporate Office. Mitigation areas are monitored for three to five years to ensure that the wetland is functioning and the vegetation is taking root. The wetland at Premier Medical is well vegetated and is also part detention pond. It is fenced off to keep the lawnmower out. The groundcover is clover and the area looks very good. Beck North Phase 2ís mitigation area has been placed near a woodland. Miracle Software has a small mitigation area. Catholic Centralís mitigation area is coming along. Tuscany Reserveís mitigation area is coming along very nicely. Island Lakeís design was meant to preserve the wetland and its buffer along the shoreline. The vegetation is important in preventing erosion, and it provides ecological functions for the fish, snails and amphibians. The residents respect the need for the wetlands, and they have limited the number of docks allowed so that the area can fill in with vegetation.
Dr. Freeland wishes to further coordinate the Cityís wetland and woodland programs, with the assistance of the newly combined Community Development Department.
Chair Cassis asked about the woodland replacement program at Catholic Central. Mr. Beschke said that they have gone about it very well, but some of the trees will have to be planted off-site or the money will be placed in the tree fund. Mr. Beschke has been working with them, and now ECT will see the completion of the project. What has already been planted is looking very nice. They have recreated the thick woodlands that were once there. City Attorney Tom Schultz said that the site is pretty full, and no more trees can be placed on site without overcrowding it. They have already contributed the balance to the tree fund.
Member Lynch asked about the FEMA flood maps. Dr. Freeland said that although his work overlaps, the FEMA review is handled more by Engineering. Member Lynch said that most of the Island Lake Phragmites are gone. Dr. Freeland said there are certain herbicides that are allowed to be used around wetlands, and Island Lake is responsible for this maintenance.
Member Lynch asked what would happen if the City sells parkland that has water systems which feed the Cityís watercourse. Dr. Freeland said his company does get involved with the review of any area where development is proposed. All developments have to go through the site plan review process. If there are proposed impacts of grand proportion, Dr. Freeland will look for ways to miss, minimize and mitigate any impacted area greater than 10,000 square feet. Member Lynch confirmed that Dr. Freelandís work reviews the effect of the upstream areas on the downstream areas.
Member Meyer thanked Dr. Freeland and Mr. Beschke for their presentations. He asked whether the Cityís Wetland Ordinance should be reviewed. His intent, when he joined the Planning Commission, was to improve the process for developers working in this City, and he wondered whether having the Cityís Wetland Ordinance more stringent than the Stateís standards should be reconsidered. Is this just another hurdle?
Dr. Freeland said that is a great policy question, and noted that the City would not be able to rewrite their Ordinance with lesser standards than what the State required. He said that there could be some issues to review in the Ordinance.
Chair Cassis asked Dr. Freeland how Noviís environmental features rank among the other communities in which ECT works. Dr. Freeland said that the Noviís geological terrain cuts through Oakland County, south through western Washtenaw County western Lenawee County. There are several small depressions that donít drain very well. It is a geologically young landscape. The natural order of things will someday result in an integrated drainage network Ė but this process will take thousands of years. Novi has a lot of wetlands.
1. LEGAL TRAINING
Chair Cassis reminded the Planning Commission that they are scheduled for legal training on May 30, 2007. City Attorney Tom Schultz said they will discuss a handout that his firm uses for training purposed throughout the communities in which they work. It has been updated to include the new MZEA standards. The new Master Plan legislation may also be reviewed. Their review can also cover motion making, non-conformities and which of those items must be addressed when redevelopment is proposed, conservation easements and when they can be required as opposed to requested, religious land issues, etc.
Chair Cassis suggested that they review the parameters of what the Planning Commission can request from an Applicant. Member Lynch agreed. Mr. Schultz responded that he would discuss this regarding site plan reviews and rezonings, the latter of which being a rather timely discussion.
Member Meyer said that the Planning Commissionís responsibility is not to micromanage these incoming projects, rather to ensure that they meet the intent and/or spirit of the Master Plan for Land Use and the Ordinance, and he would like more training on the difference between these two findings.
2. Planning Commission member appointment to the zba
City Attorney Tom Schultz explained that the new MZEA Act requires that the Planning Commission provide a liaison member to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Novi has added a seventh member to the ZBA to accommodate this requirement. Mr. Schultz suggested that the Planning Commission recommend one of their own to City Council for this position, or they could make it one of the requirements of the officer positions. This is a one-year appointment, though the person could be reappointed.
The Planning Commission members discussed the appointment amongst themselves. Both Member Pehrson and Member Wrobel expressed interest, and ultimately a coin was flipped, and Member Wrobel was determined to be the member that would be recommended to City Council for this appointment.
Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by seconded by Member Gutman:
voice vote on the zba recommendation motion made by Member Meyer and seconded by Member Gutman:
Motion to recommend to City Council that Member Wrobel serve on the ZBA. Motion carried 8-0.
Chair Cassis noted that Member Wrobelís term was up on June 30, and if he were not reappointed to the Planning Commission, he would not be able to serve as this liaison so Member Pehrson would be recommended for the appointment.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Avdoulos,
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at or about 9:10 PM.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 05/28/07 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
TUE 05/29/07 MASTER PLAN AND ZONING COMMITTEE MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 05/30/07 LEGAL TRAINING WITH CITY ATTORNEY 7:30 PM
MON 06/04/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 06/05/07 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 06/13/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 06/18/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 06/27/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 07/02/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 07/04/07 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
TUE 07/10/07 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 07/11/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 07/23/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 07/25/07 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, June 7, 2007 Signature on File
Date Approved: June 13, 2007 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date