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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:00 PM.
Present: Members, Brian Burke, Victor Cassis, David Greco, Andrew Gutman, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer (9:28 PM), Mark Pehrson, Wayne Wrobel
Absent: John Avdoulos (Excused)
Also Present: Steve Rumple, Community Development Director; Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director of Community Development; Mark Spencer, Planner; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Kristin Kolb, City Attorney; Master Plan Consultants: Rod Arroyo, Rebecca Bessey and Sally Helminger
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Greco led the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Wrobel:
roll call vote on agenda approval motion made by Member Lynch and seconded by Member Wrobel:
Motion to approve the December 12, 2007 Planning Commission Agenda. Motion carried 8-0.
Chair Cassis opened the floor for public comment:
Chair Cassis asked Member Pehrson to read the correspondence. Three letters were received from John and Marilyn Ruttenberg. The first letter was regarding the lack of speed limit consistency in the City of Novi. A more uniform speed limit would result in better citizen compliance. Another letter addressed inconsistent traffic lights – they felt that the difference in sequencing could be a legal issue for the City. Finally a third letter suggested that the recent roundabout addition near Morgan Circle is too small and does not allow for adequate traffic flow.
Chair Cassis said that the Master Plan and Zoning Committee has been working very diligently on the Master Plan review.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR REPORT
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth summarized recent City Council actions. The second reading of the Façade Text Amendment was approved.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
1. ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.221
The Public Hearing was opened for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council for an ordinance to amend Ordinance No. 97-18, as amended, the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance, to modify various sections throughout the ordinance relating to the application of Section 2519.10.C, Special Land Use approvals, modifying the standards, application and requirements for submittal of a noise analysis currently required with consideration of Special Land Use approvals.
Planner Kristen Kapelanski stated that the proposed text amendment separates Special Land Uses into three categories with respect to the noise analysis requirement:
Ms. Kapelanski said that the text amendment also gives the Planning Commission or City Council the authority to waive the noise impact statement or analysis requirement if a practical difficulty exists, or the proposed use clearly meets the standards of the Noise Ordinance. The Planning Commission or City Council would also have the authority to allow the submission of an impact statement in lieu of the analysis.
There is a change to the language that has been cited by both the City Attorney and former Planning Commission member Lynn Kocan. In Section 2519.10.c, the word "may" should be changed to "shall."
The Community Development Department looked at surrounding communities for comparison purposes. None require a noise analysis, and their recommended decibel levels were comparable to Novi’s Ordinance.
Chair Cassis noted that Lynn Kocan’s letter was provided to the Planning Commission members, and it would become part of the record. No one from the audience wished to speak so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Pehrson agreed with Ms. Kocan’s suggestion. He asked whether the term "design professional" needed clarification. Ms. Kapelanski responded the term is intended to cover any professional engineer of sorts. It doesn’t have to be accredited to someone who analyzes sound. The impact statement is meant to allow the Applicant to submit manufacturers’ specifications – concrete information – that supports his position regarding noise levels.
Member Pehrson asked whether any other sections of the Ordinance allow this type of flexibility in credentials. Ms. Kapelanski responded that typically any site plan submittal must be designed by a registered professional. Member Pehrson wondered whether the term "engineer" or "accredited engineer" should be added to the language. Ms. Kapelanski asked for clarification. Chair Cassis said there must be an industry term for this type of professional. Ms. Kapelanski said that the term is a certified sound engineer.
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said that a certified sound engineer is required for a noise analysis, but a design professional could be responsible for the submission of a noise impact statement. Member Pehrson then understood that if the impact statement information did not seem satisfactory then the Applicant could be asked to submit the full noise analysis that was completed by a certified sound engineer. Member Pehrson supported the text amendment,
Member Wrobel thanked Ms. Kocan for her comments. He asked whether car dealerships fall under multiple categories in the language. Ms. Kapelanski responded that the language differentiated between a car dealership and an auto body shop. He supported the text amendment.
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Burke:
Motion to recommend approval of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.221 to City Council, with the inclusion of the comments made at the Planning Commission.
Chair Cassis thanked Ms. Kocan for her help. He then asked the City Attorney about the onus of responsibility as discussed in Ms. Kocan’s letter. Kristin Kolb responded, stating that the steps in the process provide the power to the Planning Commission to require the appropriate documentation.
roll call vote on text amendment 18.221 positive recommendation motion made by Member Lynch and seconded by Member Burke:
Motion to recommend approval of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.221 to City Council, with the inclusion of the comments made at the Planning Commission. Motion carried 7-0.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. MASTER PLAN REVIEW
Presentation of draft report "Master Plan for Land Use Review: Study Area Alternatives" for consideration by the Planning Commission and for further direction on the preparation of a final report and possible amendments to the adopted 2004 Master Plan for Land Use.
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth described the process that the City took in reviewing the three study areas: The southwest quadrant, the Twelve Mile: Napier-Wixom area, and the I-96-Novi Road area. The Master Plan and Zoning Committee has met several times, reviewing information prepared by the Community Development Department and the Birchler Arroyo-led consultant team. A City survey was available on the website and in the atrium. There was a Vision Fair. The Chesapeake performed a random phone survey. One on one interviews were held with select stakeholders.
Planner Mark Spencer was the instrumental force behind the Master Plan effort, and Chair Cassis thanked him on behalf of the entire Planning Commission for his hard work and dedication. Mr. Spencer then addressed the Planning Commission. He stated that the Master Plan and Zoning Committee passed a resolution at their meeting held the previous night, recommending that the Planning Commission take action to direct the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, the Community Development staff and the consultants to prepare a final 2007 Master Plan Review report with amendments based on the recommended alternatives "A" for each study area. The Planning Commission may, as a whole, affirm the Master Plan and Zoning Committee recommendation or offer their own.
Mr. Spencer described how the process would continue, and explained that the State Planning Act provides that the City Council can elect to be the approving body of any revision made to the Master Plan, but not such act is anticipated at this time. After the required "other municipalities and utility" comment period has expired, the Planning Commission will review the comments and modify the proposed plan if they so desire. They could solicit the help of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee, staff or consultants. After this is complete, the Master Plan will be presented at a Public Hearing, after which the amendments may be adopted by the Planning Commission and published.
Chair Cassis explained to the citizens present at the meeting that their ability to comment on the Master Plan will continue throughout the process. He asked City Attorney Kristin Kolb to explain that the Planning Commission typically approves the Master Plan but the State Statute allows the City Council to reserve unto itself the power to make the final approval. There is no stipulation that the City Council must explain why they wish to be the approving body, but Ms. Kolb indicated that this rarely happens. City Council does authorize the distribution of the Master Plan for the comment period, and if they were to wish to be the approving body they would typically do so at that time. The Planning Commission then, would send a recommendation on the Master Plan to City Council for their consideration.
Rod Arroyo of Birchler Arroyo addressed the Planning Commission. He introduced Rebecca Bessey and Sally Helminger. The other companies involved with the consulting were Carlisle Wortman, Grissim Metz Associates and the Chesapeake Group.
The current Master Plan was adopted in 2004. Two of the areas cited in that report as study areas were reviewed in this 2007 effort. Data have been collected and analyzed. The Needs Assessment was produced by the Chesapeake Group. The staff and the public have been an important part of the process. The Vision Fair involved public participation and the City provided its own surveys, as well as the surveys provided by the consultants. The Chesapeake did a phone survey and spoke directly with stakeholders about market conditions.
The report provides alternatives for the Planning Commission to consider. The City asked the consultants to provide these, and two alternatives were provided for each of the areas.
Southwest quadrant: This area is bounded by Eight Mile, Ten Mile, Napier Road, and Beck Road. Residential has developed here at a low density. There are significant natural features, including a core habitat area. Historically, this area has been predominantly low density in character. The infrastructure has been planned for low density. Citizen input indicates a strong preference to maintain this character. Residents have indicated a willingness to travel outside of the immediate area for retail goods and services.
Alternative A presents no change to the existing Master Plan for Land Use. The various cited uses remain the same: residential, park, education, some retail on the northeast corner of Ten Mile and Beck. The residential densities have not been altered – .8 and 1.65 densities are shown. The proposal recommends that the low density be maintained. Future development should be sensitive to the core reserve wildlife corridors. Residential options should be reviewed to provide greater flexibility for development of challenging properties. Of the latter, Mr. Arroyo stressed the value of this objective, which has also been recommended in Alternative B. The remaining undeveloped properties will likely be challenging, and therefore he recommended that the Zoning Ordinance residential development options be reviewed and improved in order to provide more flexibility while maintaining the cited densities.
Alternative B addresses the trends in the area in terms of the potential growth of Senior Housing in general. The low-density Senior Housing proposed for the northwest corner provides an option for residents. The residents voiced their position that they do not want any additional non-residential activity in this area. They suggested that traffic is an issue. Low-density Residential is a characteristic they wished to have maintained. The Senior Housing option accomplishes some of the goals cited by the residents. It generates low traffic, it can be provided at a scale that would be consistent with the residential in the area, and it could provide current residents who wish to downsize or are experiencing a lifestyle change with a Novi option. City-wide there will be a need for senior housing; this is just one area that could be considered. It is an alternative that could be considered for the southwest quadrant. There is some proximity to commercial services (a drug store across the street and others within a shuttle-service distance), the civic center and medical facilities. If Senior Housing is provided it should emulate the single-family character with similar roof heights. This alternative recommends maintaining the low density. Further development should be sensitive to the core reserve wildlife corridors. Residential development options should be reviewed. Architecture and site design of Senior Housing should be compatible with the surrounding low density Single Family Residential and limited to 2.5 stories.
Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier Area: This area is south of Twelve Mile between Wixom and Napier roads. The 2004 Master Plan lists the area as Special Planning Project Area 2.
Alternative A suggests three different land use classifications. The proposal recommends Community Commercial for the Wixom Road frontage. Behind that, Education is recommended. To the west Single Family Residential is recommended. The density proposed is 3.3 which is consistent with the R-4 zoning. The proposal recommends that density not exceed the 3.3 density. Side-entry garages are encouraged, and options were offered that would address designs with front-entry garages. Pedestrian amenities include connections to off-site facilities; this is very important to the area as there are numerous educational facilities, commercial, and parkland. Pedestrian connectivity would provide continuity. High-quality commercial on the vacant Wixom Road frontage would ideally be developed as one development with coordination of access, design and architecture. It should be designed with high-quality materials, well-landscaped parking fields, pedestrian connections, and use of access management techniques to provide appropriate access points, circulation and safety measures.
Alternative B echos the Alternative A as it recommends Community Commercial on the Wixom Road frontage and the Education component. The difference is the western portion of the study area. The alternative recommends Single Family Residential at 3.3 density for the frontage and the back end is identified as Two-Family Residential at 4.8 density that does not currently exist as a Master Plan option. An alternative access point could be designed that would limit the traffic from the higher density area from traveling through the lower density component. The single family character should be maintained along the Twelve Mile frontage, which has evolved on the Knights Bridge Gate community. An additional suggestion for this alternative includes that the two-family option should not exceed the 4.8 density, and an illustration of side-entry garages was provided.
I-96 Novi Road Area: The area encompasses a section north of I-96 near West Oaks and Donelson Drive, the former Expo Center, Town Center, Grand River Avenue, the railroad and existing industrial development. The area was divided into three distinct subdistricts. The 2004 Master Plan designated much of this area south of I-96 as Downtown West, which was to be defined at a later date. Along the west side of Novi Road it was designated as Town Center Commercial. The north Conference-zoned piece was designated as PD-2 Option which allows for regional center commercial but allows for greater flexibility and setbacks subject to a planned development approval process.
Alternative A does not recommend a change to the PD-2 Option for the Conference piece. The Town Center designation remains along Novi Road. The former Expo site is recommended for Office, with the vision being an OST zoning. One area is recommended for Senior Housing 2, a higher density senior housing option allowing greater heights than the proposal for the southwest quadrant. The Light Industrial designation is recommended for the property further west, surrounding the railroad tracks.
Alternative B does not include the Senior Housing option – the Office designation carries through. The Conference area is not recommended for change from a use perspective, but Mr. Arroyo recommended changes to the access for this area. It is a challenge to navigate this area; little separation of the roads and a short left turn lane is the result of a widening of Novi Road. Sheraton Drive could be partially eliminated, or it could be made north-bound only, allowing for right-turns only onto Novi Road. Right now it’s two-way traffic and left turns are permitted. The left turns can be redirected to the service drive that leads to Circuit City. This change will require public and private cooperation. It could benefit the area and business owners and developments. Landscaped islands could be added and the center left-turn lane could be extended which would push the curb out a little bit. It appears there is adequate right-of-way to provide this design. Parallel parking can be designed in a subsequent area. The entire distance can be enhanced with landscaping in order to provide an entry feature into the area to the south. The road would then connect to a new street which would terminate at Sheraton Drive and Donelson Drive. It would provide east-west access, opening up the opportunity for better use and development of the area immediately north of I-96. This is a prime area for development within the City. It has great exposure to the freeway. It has great access to the surrounding area, but not necessarily great access to the external network and to the interchange. Some improvements could be made that would make substantial changes in the way this area is accessed. Mr. Arroyo believed that access improvement would improve the potential for redevelopment. Another hotel or other PD-2 uses might come forward. The use of valuable land for stormwater detention should be reevaluated. There can be other ways to deal with the stormwater – putting it underground, possibly relocating the flow to another detention area, which would open up the area for development. This is prime real estate and there is a way to capture that and create opportunities that would enhance the tax base and further the area’s development, which has always been envisioned as a regional hub of activity. The new road would have a center turn lane and trees lining both sides of it. Visually, this would provide an important entry feature. The green strip behind West Oaks would be expanded slightly for more plantings. The trees would help screen the back of the shopping center. The road would provide access and open up the area for transformation. The PD-2 designation is recommended to stay, which provides flexibility. The site’s prominent location should be taken advantage of, and the circulation should be enhanced as described. Underwater stormwater detention should be explored to enhance development.
There is a general consensus that the Town Center businesses need to be supported. Hopefully the future of the ring road area will work hand in hand with what is already approved and/or developed. This is a key gateway. It could have a different function from what exists today. There are a lot of driveways, and it is a traffic challenge. There is a lack of landscaping. Mr. Arroyo recommended a tree-lined avenue be designed that provides a showcasing visual perspective. It would serve as an introduction to draw people into the area. Mr. Arroyo recommended "development pulsing," which in this case would be designing with three nodes of activity: Crescent Corners, the historic Novi Corners, and the Main Street Corners. This would draw people in and circulate them throughout the areas. In order to accomplish this, redevelopment would have to occur. Changes in the road cross-sections would have to change. This would not happen overnight. It is a long-term plan. The proposal used different colors to represent buildings and terrace or plaza areas.
The middle branch of the Rouge River is an asset that is currently underappreciated. The City once developed a river stroll plan that would transform this river asset into a natural feature-commercial partnership. It was designed in reflection of the San Antonio plan, but Mr. Arroyo suggested that may have been a bit too ambitious for this area. Nonetheless, the river is still an asset. It is hidden right now, but in its natural condition it is a significant resource and could become a visual amenity that works hand in hand with development that occurs in that area. Currently it actually runs under some buildings, though it is exposed in other areas.
Alternative A offers a tree-lined Novi Road. Two-story terraced buildings are shown in clusters. It is not overly intense. Surface parking limits how much can be developed. A parking structure could be designed, but the questions remain whether that is economically feasible, or whether the community would like to provide that as a municipal service via some kind of revenue bond structure that would be paid back with parking receipts. The latter is not necessarily a suggestion at this time, but the concept could be further reviewed and evaluated. The alternatives proposed by the consultants for this Master Plan review shows only surface parking. There would be a potential for greater intensity on this site if a parking structure was employed. From a transportation standpoint, this plan would yield substantial enhancements to the traffic flow in this area.
The number one improvement that Mr. Arroyo recommended was the completion of the ring road. It is very important to the position of the community for creating an opportunity. Much of the ring road system has been completed. This would open the area up for a greater level of activity and would relieve the burden from Novi Road. Right now, the former Expo site directs almost all of its traffic onto Novi Road, although previously there were occasional relief valves that came down to Grand River. In this scenario, the recommendation is to zone the area with the OST designation, with icon buildings and significant architecture. This type of property has great potential because of its freeway access and exposure. A corporate headquarters or a top-of-the-line research/development business should be enticed by this property. The one proposal envisions at least two five-story buildings with appropriate surface parking. It takes advantage of the middle Rouge River, giving the employees and guests an opportunity to enjoy the river asset. It also brings people (customers) into the Town Center area for the retail and restaurants. The office scenario provides daytime restaurant customers. The Senior Housing component could support the evening demand. Bringing more people into the area through intensification of the uses opens up the opportunity for redevelopment of other properties. Some of the smaller properties might consolidate and transform into something different. Again, this would not occur over night but could lead to something different from what exists today.
The transportation recommendations provide a grid network. There is a backage road that serves the frontage parcels and provides access to the parking fields. It provides connection to Grand River and up to the ring road. There is an east-west connection that eliminates the needs for driveways up and down both sides of Novi Road. The access system could be consolidated and traffic flow could be enhanced. There is potential for development in yet another area. There is a floodway near the Rouge River that will not see any development but it can be integrated into the development scenario and become an asset. Alternative A suggests signature office or research buildings on the former Expo Center site, taking advantage of the increased building heights that are allowed in the OST district. An iconic building would stand out and bring attention to the area, and could replace the water tower as the focal point. It would bring a much different connotation and image than the water tower.
The Senior Housing component is recommended in the three- to six-story range. This is a much greater intensity that the Senior Housing 1 that Mr. Arroyo proposed earlier for the southwest quadrant. Alternative B replaces the Senior Housing with Office. Without structured parking, these buildings would be two or three stories. It would provide an office campus setting on the west side of the ring road. It would provide for a transition from Office to Industrial. A cross section of the area illustrates how these plans would appear. Mr. Arroyo recommended a landscaped island in the middle of Novi Road immediately south of the Crescent Boulevard light. Currently this is a "no-man’s land" based on the turn-lane design that is in place. This landscaped median provides a refuge for pedestrians and would enhance the area. The cross-sections don’t suggest any dramatic changes to the number of lanes. The ring road currently has a boulevard; the main changes are increased landscaping and increased pedestrian facilities on both sides. Mr. Arroyo recommended additional landscaping and additional pedestrian facilities on the north end of Novi Road north of Grand River.
Mr. Arroyo recommended extending the ring road from Expo Drive to Grand River, rezoning the former Expo Center site to OST and requiring benchmark architecture, use of the river corridor as an asset and pedestrian connections to the Town Center and Main Street areas. He encouraged structured parking for the Office uses to take advantage of alternative development scenarios that may provide for more interesting and beneficial development within the community.
Mr. Arroyo described the Industrial land as flanking the railroad. He recommended Light Industrial, and the consultants suggested a few key development concepts that should be pursued. Landscape treatments should be added along Grand River. An Ordinance modification should provide for a consistent landscaping treatment to screen parking and enhance structures that are located within the view of Grand River. Attention should be given to how this area looks from the I-96 corridor. Green roofs and other green tactics are components that could be encouraged. Hopefully the costs will go down on some of the environmentally-friendly techniques. As this is a long-range plan, the consultants thought it could provide energy benefits and could enhance the view of the rooftops of the lower level industrial buildings that can be visible from the freeway and the taller buildings that could be located within the proposed OST area to the east. Easterly Grand River traffic views this area as their gateway into the Town Center district. Certainly it should be treated as such, and things could be done to help it evolve with the rest of the area into something that is more aesthetically pleasing, all while providing for opportunities for certain types of development. Flexible space could be designed that could be either Office, Industrial or Research space. Green building techniques could also be explored and expressed through Zoning Ordinance recommendations.
Mr. Arroyo suggested that once the City is comfortable from a planning perspective, and this Master Plan review has made its way to final adoption, the City should immediately prioritize certain zoning recommendations and zoning amendments to help implement whatever is decided is the best Master Plan design. If the City does this it would have an immediate impact on future development. This can encourage and even foster the land use recommendations.
Chair Cassis opened the discussion up to the Planning Commission. Member Burke said it was a terrific presentation. He thanked the citizens for attending the meeting; it shows commitment and passion and the Planning Commission must be respectful and grateful for this.
Member Burke stated that the I-96-Novi Road is the area of the most interest to him. It is an impressive makeover of the area. He liked the Conference district recommendation; the east-west road provides the potential for this area to open up. He preferred Alternative B for the ring road area (Office). He referred to the Needs Assessment highlights on page one of the Master Plan document wherein it states that the County will need about 2.4 million square feet of office. The City estimates that about 679,000 square feet of Office is anticipated for Novi by 2010. That places Novi at about 20% of the County-required Office space. If Novi has the opportunity to capture 20% of the County’s needs, in light of the size of the County, this is an idea that should be capitalized upon. What better place for this than the ring road area? This will bring development up and down Novi Road. With people injected into the area, businesses will want to locate there. It will help create the pedestrian activity before, during and after work. He has a selfish interest in this area as he does have an investment in the immediate area; he would love to see this area really grow – the Crescent Corners, the Novi Corners and the Main Street Corners. Each is synergistic in its own right, but with some connectivity people can make an evening out of their visit. The whole concept looks like it could work.
Member Burke wanted to be sensitive to the Senior Housing needs, but he didn’t know if this was the right place for it. Again, Member Burke heard the Master Plan and Zoning Committee members discuss the need for seniors to walk for groceries or other errands. Certainly there could be pedestrian-accessible businesses for them down in this area, but he didn’t know if there will ever be a CVS or Kroger to accommodate them. Walking up and down Novi Road for groceries certainly isn’t going to happen. Member Burke suggested that the southwest quadrant may or may not be the place for Senior Housing, but it certainly seems better suited for that area than what is arguably the downtown area. Member Burke asked Chair Cassis whether the Planning Commission could hold a vote on each of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee’s recommendations. Chair Cassis agreed.
Member Burke said the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier Alternative A provides for the lower density that the surrounding community has been looking for. The residents of Knights Bridge Gate, and certainly the whole community, did not say anything against the coming educational facility. All of the voiced concerns had to do with the density, and the 3.3 density recommendation is similar to what the Planning Commission was looking for. He agreed with the B-2 recommendation for the Wixom Road frontage. It is consistent with the northerly property and would support the type of business the City is looking for up and down Wixom Road. He supported Alternative A.
Member Burke has continually heard questions about the data used for the review of the southwest quadrant, which is certainly the most passionately-defended area of the Master Plan review. Specifically, what data supports the recommendation for Senior Housing? He asked whether Senior Housing could be further defined.
Mr. Arroyo responded that Senior Housing could be a number of things. Independent housing is geared toward those over 55. Congregate care may involve some independent and some limited assisted living. It usually involves a centralized dining facility that offers at least one or two meals per day. Assisted living arrangements provide even more assistance, and usually have a centralized dining facility. More staff assistance would be available. A nursing home environment is a more medically-based assisted living where 24-hour assistance, monitoring and medicine dispensing is available. Each level has its own level of regulations, in terms of state requirements. A continuum of care facility provides each of these levels, and there are versions of this available in Novi. While Mr. Arroyo didn’t suggest any one level more so than another, he said that some element of independent living was inferred in the I-96-Novi Road proposal based on the greater potential for interaction between those residents and the local industry.
Mr. Arroyo stated that when a City prepares for a Master Plan review, a lot of data is collected. The ultimate recommendations that are made are based on policies and consideration of that data. The City listens to what the citizens are saying about what they want, and the City then determines what is reasonable and appropriate. They then follow a planning process. This does not mean that numbers are dumped into a formula and every community uses the same formula. In this case, the Chesapeake Group performed a Needs Assessment and the results indicate that the population is aging. There is a desire of many people to stay within the communities where they built their careers and made friends and families and put roots down. They have places of worship and social networks. People don’t want to leave their social networks when they age. They want to stay within their own social infrastructure. The researchers found that there is national trend for some people wanting to stay near their already formed social network. There is evidence that some Florida snowbirds have returned because they did not find what the social network they were looking for. This may not apply to everybody, but this trend, the aging population, and the results of the telephone survey indicate that people are interested in retiring in Novi. It creates a potential opportunity for a Senior Housing market. There is plenty of national literature to support these aging baby-boomer statistics and Novi is not immune from that. These are the general findings of the Chesapeake Group report. Mr. Arroyo said that this firm further suggests that a number of aging homeowners are staying in their current residences during this downturn in the Michigan housing industry. As the market improves, a lot of those homes will go on the market which will enable those homeowners to transition into some other form of housing. Senior Housing options will be what many of those homeowners will choose. The market experts and current trends support the Senior Housing alternatives proposed in the consultant’s report.
Member Burke said that the Senior Housing 2 designation would provide for all levels of care which will be necessary and is available elsewhere in the City. He asked if the turn-around of the economy which, as Mr. Arroyo indicated, would spur interest in the Senior Housing market, would also make the I-96-Novi Road land even more valuable. Can the seniors afford to live on that expensive land? Mr. Arroyo said there are markets for different levels of senior living. He thought there was a segment of this population that is going to demand a higher product in terms of cost, as well as those who will seek out more affordable housing. He believed that one of the benefits of the Senior Housing component is that it provides more residences within the Town Center. That is an advantage. There is some Multiple Family Residential, particularly in the Main Street area. Residential will potentially provide a more 24-hour activity level and enhance the Town Center feel. This doesn’t mean that the proposed site is the best location – perhaps the south side of Grand River and west of Novi Road is more appropriate when that area is more completely developed. Mr. Arroyo saw a potential for Senior Housing somewhere in this Town Center area.
Member Burke thanked Mr. Arroyo and commended Mr. Spencer for all of his hard work. Member Burke said that the Planning Commission members sit as stewards of the City on the citizens’ behalf; he said it is tough to listen to the southwest quadrant residents emphatically state they don’t want change and then respond with, "Too bad." He is sensitive to what they are saying and he also sought the necessary explanation of how the senior aspect came into play. He asked about the density associated with Senior Housing 1. Mr. Arroyo said that it would be best to define this classification based on building height, because the landscaping requirements, parking requirements and other planning issues basically determine how the design will evolve on the site. He spoke about this concept as it presenting itself in terms of massing, as to what’s appropriate. He spoke of a 2.5-story maximum height for Senior Housing 1 and potentially up to six stories for Senior Housing 2. The density would change based on the height and the type of product that is offered. Member Burke concluded that he is pre-disposed to supporting Alternative A, though he questioned whether the southwest quadrant residents really understood the concept of Senior Housing 1. (Later in the meeting, after Member Lynch spoke, Member Burke interjected that he supported Alternative A.) Chair Cassis said that he would make a judgment call regarding additional audience participation as the meeting unfolded.
Member Wrobel appreciated all the Master Plan review work already accomplished. He stated that the Master Plan currently designates three of the four corners of Ten Mile and Beck as Residential. He asked whether this has always been the case. Mr. Spencer stated that they have been Residential since at least 1980. The 1967 Novi Village Plan showed a node of commercial at this intersection. Member Wrobel thought it was fair to say that the current owners procured the property when it was zoned Residential. Mr. Spencer agreed, stating it was also master planned Residential, if they acquired it post 1980. Mr. Spencer said other potential Residential uses include schools, daycares, mortuaries, churches and other things that are associated with residential uses. These uses function better socially in our society when mixed in with Residential uses. They might require a Special Land Use Public Hearing. Member Wrobel asked the residents to understand that there are other non-residential uses that are permitted in this zoning district. There is no guarantee that the use on the site will be strictly residential.
Member Wrobel said that people have the right to use their property as they see fit, within the guidelines of the Master Plan. Assuming the people purchased the property after 1980, they should have known that the property was zoned and master planned for Residential. Their purchase was a business decision. Member Wrobel was concerned about the City’s liability and how firm the ground is for the City to maintain the residentially-zoned use requirements. City Attorney Kristin Kolb responded that one can never be sure of how a judge will decide on a case. In this situation, there has been a significant amount of study. There has been a significant amount of input from the public. The City is going to have a very well-written, well-documented amendment to the Master Plan, no matter which alternative is chosen in each of the three cases. That all goes toward supporting the City’s position. The City has to establish that what they’ve determined is reasonable. They don’t have to prove that it is the best use, the only use; the City just has to prove that it is reasonable. If somebody comes in with a challenge, they have to show that what they want to do is more reasonable than what the City has proposed. With the amount of study and time that has been put into this, it is a hard burden. It is a very high bar that they have to pass. With the work that has been done, speaking to the southwest quadrant, assuming that no change is made, the City has put itself in a very defensible position. She went on to say that Mr. Arroyo alluded to this – if that southwest quadrant is left alone, there is going to have to be some consideration given to the Zoning Ordinance, and some creative development options, because in one circumstance she understood the Applicant was dealing with a six-acre parcel that is going to be a challenge to develop. It is not going to be impossible, but the City is going to have to come up with some more flexible options. Assuming that gets done, again, that bolsters the City’s position that what they have done is in fact reasonable. Again, one never knows what could happen once it gets sent to a court, but the City Attorney’s office feels fairly comfortable with the work that has been done this year. The City is in a good position.
Member Wrobel wanted to ensure that the City is not opening itself up to any potential problems.
Member Wrobel said that the Conference District and ring road concepts have been discussed in the past but not with any conviction. The consultants’ proposal puts these ideas on paper. He thought that these things were items the City is looking for. He was impressed with the redoing of the roads in the Conference District. The additional road will make it easier to traverse. It will encourage the kind of development the City wants to see.
Member Wrobel was uncertain about the ring road. He agreed that the former Expo Center should be showcased. Corporate headquarters or a high-tech industrial office would be super. Another use mentioned has been a performing arts center – it’s nice but something like this is more practical. He liked the Office plan but he could also consider the Senior Housing concept; he’s undecided as to which would be best.
Member Wrobel thought the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier area is unfolding as the City wishes. The Wixom frontage would be limited to B-2, and it would be nice to see a development similar to the: Haggerty Road: Six Mile - Seven Mile area. It would be beneficial to that region of the City.
Member Pehrson thanked the Master Plan team. He thought a senior living component had been mentioned for the Legacy Parc property for the southwest quadrant. He thought the area was transitioning already toward having that component. Member Pehrson endorsed Alternative A for the southwest quadrant. The area needs to stay as is; there is no arguing that. It should be purely Residential. He didn’t have an objection to the Senior Housing component if it is done correctly and tastefully. He thought that economically, if times change, the Legacy Parc proposal with Senior Housing would provide enough options for older adults.
Member Pehrson thought the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier area was coming together with the school and residential usages. He was glad that the Wixom commercial has been limited to B-2.
Member Pehrson was not a fan of the I-96-Novi Road Alternative A. He did not think it was the right place for Senior Housing. It is too congested and has too much traffic. He didn’t foresee people strolling up and down Novi Road, even if the Grand Plan…. he wished this proposal was around twenty years ago. Everyone knows this area can be a showcase. The senior component doesn’t take shape. He couldn’t think of any businesses that would locate to this area to complement the senior citizens. He would prefer the landmark buildings on the ring road site.
Member Greco thanked the consultant team and the City team for a well-done report. He felt the southwest quadrant should remain the same. He lives near the area and liked the fact that it is not developed right now and it should remain Residential.
Member Greco had no additional comments on the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier area. He felt that everyone was generally in favor of the educational facility, but the traffic and the concerns of the residents should be kept in mind.
Member Greco had concerns with the Senior Housing component of the I-96-Novi Road proposal. The ring road is an ambitious project and appears to be appropriate for the City of Novi, the way it has grown over the years. He moved here in part because of Novi’s reputation for growth management. A defined entrance area seemed appropriate to him. Downtown areas sound very good and look very nice. Every time one visits a developed downtown area it looks wonderful. One component that is essential for a downtown area is Residential. That’s what gives an area activity and brings it to life. People draw the services and the restaurants. He did not know if the Senior Housing proposal was the vehicle for that. Is a waste of time to have a downtown area without residents? Mr. Arroyo responded that yes, to have a true Town Center area there has to be a Residential component. There is some of that now with Main Street. There is potential for that to expand in order for the City to have all the elements needed to make the activity and synergy and levels of excitement that one finds in a true downtown place. Senior Housing can be a component for that. It doesn’t have to be in the proposed location, but there is a place somewhere in the Town Center area that is appropriate for Senior Housing. It’s one style of housing that is appropriate for a Town Center area. Mr. Arroyo thought other more traditional types of housing are appropriate too – Multiple Family Residential and attached products are often found in a Town Center setting.
Member Gutman thanked everyone including the citizens for their involvement. He hoped that the citizens found that this was a very open-minded process. Member Gutman could not support anything other than Alternative A.
Member Gutman also agreed with the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier Alternative A, with the condition that the Wixom Commercial would not exceed the B-2 density.
Member Gutman tended to agree that the I-96-Novi Road proposal offered some lofty ambitions but if it were designed now it would be out there in the future when the building industry picks up. Some of the ideas are absolutely spectacular and would help to make this a world-class City if even just a few ideas were realized. He supported Office versus Senior Housing.
Member Lynch first addressed the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier area. He was pleased that the density recommendation was the same as the Planning Commission’s position. He supported Alternative A.
Member Lynch clarified that the City has not received a request for amending the Legacy Parc proposal to include Senior Housing in the southwest quadrant. The standing proposal is for 439 Single Family Residential homes. The developer only went to City Council and presented their Senior Housing concept; Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth confirmed this information. Member Lynch was very pleased with all the hard work that has been done for this Master Plan review.
Member Lynch thought there were a few missing items relating to the southwest quadrant. There is no information regarding the effect of infrastructure improvements on the City’s tax structure if changes are made to the master planning in that area. Water, sanitary and road information is necessary. Therefore, he could not support a change to the southwest quadrant Master Plan.
Member Lynch confirmed that the consultants did not propose the addition of commercial anywhere in the southwest quadrant. He thought the City should probably address the Senior Housing situation based on the aging baby boomers. He felt stronger that the echo baby boomers should be chased, as that generation will support the existing educational structure here in the City. Master planning is not a sprint – it is a marathon. Knee jerk reactions are unnecessary because historically there have always been market fluctuations and the cycle repeats itself every eight to ten years. Again this supports his position on the southwest quadrant.
Member Lynch also noted that there are existing Novi Senior Housing options – that there isn’t necessarily a void. He cited Island Lake as a development that somewhat serves in that capacity without the specific designation of being an independent older adult community. He thought there might be some data relating to a reduction in snowbirds moving to Florida, but that might be because the Florida Boom has been replaced by a Florida Bust. Snowbirds are moving to South Carolina, and he would like to see more data to support the addition of Senior Housing in any area of Novi. Member Lynch supported Alternative A for the southwest quadrant.
Member Lynch thought the I-96-Novi Road concepts were brilliant. That is an area of the City that can be seen from I-96 and the proposed concept is stunning. It is something that the City really needs to focus on. It is an appropriate use of that land. The Senior Housing information first seemed like a good idea, but once he listened to Member Burke he no longer thought it made sense in this area. He was previously sold on there being a market for it, but this is a good piece of land. Therefore, he now supported Alternative B. Member Lynch liked the rest of the concept and felt the City needed to nuture it so as to bring more business into this area.
Member Meyer arrived at 9:28 PM. Employment commitments delayed his arrival to this important meeting, but he was ready to provide his comments. He thanked the consultants, the Community Development Department and specifically Mr. Spencer for the excellent Master Plan review. He appreciated the collation of the public input from the various methods, which he found very helpful in understanding the citizens’ positions on these three study areas.
Member Meyer supported Alternative A for the southwest quadrant. It should be left as is for now. The other two areas will depend on the economy. It may be two years before any development can be done, except perhaps for the educational component. He noted that this Master Plan review was performed at the three-year mark rather than the required five-year mark and is critical for the future of this City. Novi will continue to be the great community it is, not only because of its citizens, but because of the excellent work being done by the Community Development Department – Planning Division, and City Council.
Member Meyer was well-read on the other two study areas, but because he missed the earlier part of the meeting, he wished to refrain from further comment until the motion was on the table.
Chair Cassis commended the entire Master Plan review team and especially Mr. Arroyo. He also commended the citizens for their participation; it confirms that Novi is a great community. He saw the process as a wonderful means of democracy in action that the City is pursuing. Chair Cassis cited the great efforts of Mr. Spencer, Ms. McBeth and Community Development Director Steve Rumple. He appreciated the efforts of his Planning Commission colleagues. Novi cares about its community and wants it to prosper in the right direction. Novi’s growth must continue in a manner of which its citizens can be proud. Decisions must be able to survive the test of time.
Chair Cassis stated he a long-time resident of this City and he is fully aware of the history of the southwest quadrant. It was subject to great controversy in the past. There was a great citizen struggle with certain commercial development proposals for the Ten Mile and Beck Road area. A referendum was passed at that time which indicated that, as small as the City was, there was enough visceral reaction and determination in the community to keep that area’s low-density residential nature in tact. Chair Cassis considered this along with all of planning logic provided during the review to help him determine whether the City is standing on solid ground. He did not wish to become an instrument in dividing his community regarding legal proceedings or any other struggle if the right thing is not done for this area. He has listened to the people and he happened to agree with them. Their logic is that this area is sensitive with natural features, has parks and intricacies that are treasures. The City Fathers said that the community must be cognizant of the sensitivity of that area and it must be kept in a residential setting because of the various aforementioned factors. Chair Cassis reiterated that in the Master Plan and Zoning Committee meetings he stated that Senior Housing can be placed in more suitable areas of the City. Beck Road and Grand River was one such example he gave. Older adults living in that area would be very close to the hospital and shopping amenities in that area. This is why he rejected the Ten Mile and Beck Road intersection for Senior Housing.
Chair Cassis said that many ideas have been discussed for the land south of Ten Mile, such as implementing the cluster option on the six-acre piece. He felt that Residential needed to be maintained. He supported Alternative A for the southwest quadrant.
Chair Cassis commented that it is being taken for granted that the pending proposal for an educational facility/residential development is going to take place in the Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier area. What if it doesn’t? Perhaps the private school decides it hasn’t raised enough money or the grantor of the parcel rescinds his offer. What should the City consider for this area if this pending proposal does not materialize? Mr. Arroyo said the City would then have to give more attention to the study area. His first reaction is that the land is still appropriate to develop as some form of Residential. He suggested that he would have to give the question additional consideration; the Education designation was appropriate in light of the current status of the site. More study of the area would be required, but at this time Mr. Arroyo believed that a Residential use would be appropriate.
Chair Cassis noted that this is the "future" Land Use Plan. Mr. Arroyo agreed, adding that a Master Plan designation does not designate the zoning of any property; that is a separate act performed by the City Council. Later in the meeting, Chair Cassis reiterated that the southwest quadrant can blossom with the type of planning that has been shown in this Master Plan review.
Chair Cassis reiterated his support for Alternative A, with the 3.3 density designation. He did not think the Wixom Road frontage should be any more intense than a B-2 use. He would hate to see a B-3 use adjacent to the schools; it could present a use that is not suitable to be near a school district. Anything beyond a B-2 use would be a distraction to the students. Mr. Arroyo thought the Master Plan and Zoning Committee’s suggestion of limiting the intensity of the use to B-2 was a valid stipulation. Chair Cassis added that a greater intensity would adversely affect the traffic on Wixom Road.
Chair Cassis was thrilled with the I-96-Novi Road concepts. The northwest design was an excellent suggestion for the Conference area. He has regularly commented on how he would like to see that area developed in a different way. Moving the entrance of Sheraton Drive is a great idea. Opening up this area will bring forward a great developer who is capable of this undertaking, in cooperation with the City, to partner with the local businesses to take the property to greater heights. This Master Plan has provided the City’s Economic Development Manager with a great instrument to shop around in the future. He can show it to the development community in order to sell it as a great change to the downtown area.
Chair Cassis liked the ring road design because it makes the area more accessible and gives it more life. It makes sense to bring in more along all sides of the grid. The Senior Housing concept swept away the Master Plan and Zoning Committee at their meeting the previous evening. However, Member Burke’s assault on that recommendation has changed Chair Cassis’s mind. He did think it was a bit dangerous to have older adult pedestrians near a 50 mph speed zone and such intense development. He agreed that the Office plan would bring lunch time restaurant business and will be complementary to the entire north side of Grand River. It would be more consistent as an Office designation.
Chair Cassis has commented in the past about Novi Road’s future from Ten Mile north to Twelve Mile and how it relates to the City’s ongoing search for a downtown. It seems that the City gets close to the edge of the concept and then it slips away. Now, with the new restaurant developments in the Novi Town Center, the area is showing signs of resurgence, in spite of the recent addition of a boulder wall which Chair Cassis considered completely inappropriate for the area. With this area’s additional landscaping and identifiable centers of gravity, he believes that Novi will indeed find its downtown. It will be a cohesive unit all the way around, intersected by Grand River Ave. People will be able to traverse all of these areas. He thought that Rouge River improvements would provide a very pleasant, very recreational motif for the area. He would like to see this concept pursued – it will provide a park-like area for the area employees to relax and have lunch. He was ecstatic about this proposal. He has changed his mind and now supports the Office proposal, Alternative B.
Member Burke asked about the ramifications of the change of Nine Mile from a scenic drive to a natural beauty road in the southwest quadrant. Mr. Spencer responded that a scenic road is in the plan, and "Natural Beauty Road" is a designation that is enforced by an Ordinance that provides a process, suggestions and provisions for bigger buffers and preserving natural features.
Chair Cassis noted that the City is the recipient of $281,300 State grant for the grid of parks in the southwest quadrant known as the Heritage Shoppes property. He thanked Senator Nancy Cassis for her efforts. Ms. McBeth said the location of the land is north of Nine Mile, east of Napier Road and south of Ten Mile. It cannot be accessed by the road system, but it is immediately adjacent to the City’s parkland and is a beautiful wooded wetland.
Member Meyer confirmed that this is a recommendation this evening and that the actual Public Hearing will be held at a later date. Chair Cassis said the process will continue for another three months or so.
Member Meyer thanked Mr. Spencer for his historical perspectives on the three study areas. He was very insightful which, when combined with the citizen input, allowed the Planning Commission’s decision to enhance the studied areas. He offered that the citizens have expressed their concerns about the value of their properties in the current economy. He believed that the three areas were indeed critical areas that needed to be studied.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Meyer:
In the matter of the 2007 City of Novi Master Plan for Land Use review, motion to make a positive recommendation on the Master Plan draft as reviewed by the Planning Commission at this meeting, to direct the City to go forward with:
Member Wrobel asked whether the following condition could be added to the second stipulation: With the commercial [component] not exceed the B-2 intensity. The maker and seconder of the motion agreed.
Ms. McBeth stated that she assumed the Planning Commission was suggesting by their motion that they were accepting all of the general conditions and sub-conditions contained in the alternatives. Chair Cassis clarified that the conditions and sub-conditions were included.
Chair Cassis called for the vote:
roll call vote on Master Plan review motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Meyer [as clarified]:
In the matter of the 2007 City of Novi Master Plan for Land Use review, motion to make a positive recommendation on the Master Plan draft as reviewed by the Planning Commission at this meeting, to direct the City to go forward with:
1) The Southwest Quadrant Area: Alternative A;
2. The Twelve Mile: Wixom-Napier Roads Study Area: Alternative A, with the commercial [component] not exceed the B-2 intensity;
3. I-96-[Novi Road] Study: Alternative B
Motion carried 8-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
There were no Matters for Discussion.
Member Pehrson thanked the City Attorney, Secrest Wardle, for the educational seminar held last week. He found it interesting to learn how Mr. Fisher has been working with the State Government on various items. He encouraged the Planning Commission members to attend future seminars.
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth encouraged the Planning Commission members to attend the annual appreciation dinner on January 4, 2008.
Chair Cassis opened the floor for public comment:
Carol Crawford, southwest quadrant: Thanked the Planning Commission for listening to the Beck Road residents’ views and for trying to maintain the neighborhood feel of the area.
Shelly Gibson, Harold’s Frame Shop Employee: Sought direction on how to proceed with their potential purchase of adjacent land. Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth asked Ms. Gibson to contact the Community Development Department to initiate the dialogue. Ms. McBeth provided her with a business card. Planner Mark Spencer added that he has already suggested to Ms. Gibson that she come to a future Master Plan and Zoning Committee meeting to discuss a possible rezoning of her site.
Zed Patrick, Echo Valley resident: Offered his comment that, as an active older adult, purchasing a retirement home in the I-96-Novi Road area did not appeal to him.
Moved by Member Lynch, supported by Member Burke:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at 10:06 PM.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 12/17/07 ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE MEETING 6:00 PM
MON 12/17/07 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
MON/TUE 12/24 & 12/25 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON/TUE 12/31 & 01/01 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
WED 01/09/08 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 01/21/08 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
TUE 01/22/08 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 01/23/08 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 02/04/08 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 02/13/08 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, January 18, 2008 Signature on File
Date Approved: January 23, 2008 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date