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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:00 PM.
Present: Members, John Avdoulos (7:07 PM), Brian Burke, Victor Cassis, David Greco, Andrew Gutman, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson
Absent: Wayne Wrobel (Excused)
Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director of Community Development; Karen Reinowski, Planner; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Ben Croy, Civil Engineer; Lindon Ivezaj, Civil Engineer; Dr. John Freeland, Environmental Consultant; Kristin Kolb, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth led the meeting in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The Economic Development Report was postponed due to illness.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Burke:
voice vote on agenda motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Burke:
Motion to approve the Agenda of January 23, 2008 as amended. Motion carried 7-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no correspondence to share.
Chair Cassis said the Master Plan and Zoning Committee will meet on January 24, 2008. Each Planning Commission member was provided the updated Master Plan document to look over. The Public Hearing will be held on February 13, 2008 and the process will continue through the required steps.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR REPORT
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said that St. Catherine’s Academy and Nicoleena Estates PRO was tentatively approved with an R-4 zoning. The draft agreement may go to City Council within the next couple of weeks. The first and second readings were approved for the Noise Analysis text amendment.
Member Avdoulos arrived at 7:07 PM.
Engineer Ben Croy introduced Lindon Ivezaj, a new engineer who will assist with plan reviews and the right-of-way process. Mr. Ivezaj graduated from New York Polytech in Brooklyn. He has worked at an engineering firm and he’s worked on some projects in Novi. He is a fine addition to the department.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
1. Basilian fathers residence PRO, SITE PLAN NUMBER 07-59
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Basilian Fathers of Milford, Michigan, for a recommendation to City Council for consideration of a Planned Rezoning Overlay in conjunction with rezoning request 18.673. The subject property is located in Section 16, at the northwest corner of Taft Road and Eleven Mile, from R-1, One-Family Residential, to R-T, Two-Family Residential or RM-1, Low-Density, Low-Rise Multiple-Family Residential District. The subject property is approximately 4.15 acres and the Applicant has indicated that the rezoning is being proposed to facilitate the construction of a 14-unit residence for Basilian priests.
Planner Kristen Kapelanski described the project for the Planning Commission. To the north of the subject property are vacant land and an existing single-family house. The Community Development Department has also been working with a religious group who is planning to construct a temple, a cultural center and a priests’ residence on a parcel further to the north. To the west are existing duplex homes. To the south are the Novi Community Schools’ bus garage, Parkview Elementary and Novi Meadows. The First Baptist Church is located just southeast of the subject property. To the east is an existing single-family house, followed by Taft Road and then additional homes and vacant land on the eastern side of Taft Road.
The subject property is currently zoned R-1, One-Family Residential and the proposed zoning is R-T, Two-Family Residential or RM-1, Low-Density, Low-Rise Multiple Family Residential. The site is bordered by R-1 to the north, R-A to the south and west and R-A and R-4 to the east. The Future Land Use Map designates single family uses for the subject property and the properties to the north, east and west. The property to the south is designated as an Educational Facility.
Regulated woodlands cover the majority of the site, as indicated by the natural features map.
The Applicant requested to rezone the property to R-T based on the initial recommendations of the Community Development Department. However, upon closer examination, it is the recommendation of the Plan Review Center that the Applicant seek RM-1, because the use better fits this district. Approval of the proposed rezoning to RM-1 is recommended incorporating the additional public benefits indicated in the Applicant’s response letter. Although this rezoning would be contrary to the Master Plan, the proposed residence would be compatible with the existing uses in the area and can be designed to incorporate the residential characteristics of the nearby homes and the institutional characteristics of the nearby church and schools. The Applicant is requesting a waiver of the Traffic Impact Study requirement. The City’s Traffic Consultant supports this waiver and the Planning Commission is asked to act on this request this evening. The Engineering Review indicated no major issues with the utility demand associated with the rezoning.
After receiving comments from the Master Plan and Zoning Committee on January 9th, the Applicant made some minor modifications to the proposed Concept Plan. The most recent concept plan was provided to the Planning Commission and a memo was provided that described the changes to the plan. This memo indicated that a housing development of approximately six houses could yield about 24 people residents based on the average of 2.4 people per household. After review, it was determined that using the average of 2.4 people per household, only 14 people could be housed on the subject property.
The Planning Commission should refer to the Revised Concept Plan memo for an accurate description of the proposed Ordinance deviations to be included in the PRO Agreement. The Landscape Review indicated that the Applicant should adhere to applicable Ordinances and additional information will be provided at the time of Preliminary Site Plan review. The Engineering Review noted items to address at the time of Preliminary Site Plan submittal. A detention basin has been added to the revised Concept Plan. The Woodland Review and Traffic Review of the Concept Plan indicated there will be items to address at the time of the Preliminary Site Plan submittal. A City of Novi Woodland Permit will be required. Lastly, the Fire Marshall did not note any concerns regarding the proposed Concept Plan.
There are a number of major conditions in the proposed PRO Agreement. These are outlined in the Applicant’s response letter, the Planning Review and the revised Concept Plan memo. Major conditions include extending the sidewalks along Taft Road and Eleven Mile to the corner and the dedication of additional right-of-way on Taft Road and Eleven Mile for the City’s future right-of-way use. Staff had also asked the Applicant to consider limiting the future uses of the property. If the Applicant is agreeable to this suggestion, language could be worked out when the PRO Agreement is drafted. Any deviations from the Zoning Ordinance would also be included in the PRO Agreement.
John Argenta from CDPA Architects addressed the Planning Commission on behalf of the Applicant. He stated that the Basilian Fathers teach at Catholic Central, and now they wish to end their long commute from Livonia. The facility will house fourteen priests in a congregate fashion, in effect as a large family. The two-story section will house the fourteen apartments. The one-story section will house a community room, dining room, kitchen, and a chapel. Parking will be available for 22 cars, with 14 under a carport canopy. The character of the building will be purely residential.
Mr. Argenta stated that the Ordinance does not provide for a religious house or monastery. The Building Code does name monasteries or convents as a separate category. The first request was for RM-1, then it was then changed to R-T because that district allows congregate elderly care. He has since been asked to return to the RM-1 request.
Revisions made to the plan have been outlined. The density is 3.7 and RM-1 allows from 5.4 to 10.9 density. The buildings will not be higher than 35 feet. The setbacks are all at least 75 feet pursuant to the RM-1 standards. The carports are 55 feet from the west property line and 66 feet from the south property line. They are seeking a variance for the carport. These will be open carports with a simple post and roof. It will yield small sight lines. The parking setbacks exceed the required twenty-foot setback required by Ordinance. Fourteen spaces are required, 22 are provided. Barrier-free spaces have also been provided. Sidewalks were added along Taft Road and Eleven Mile. The future right-of-ways have been shown.
Mr. Argenta said that as part of the PRO, the sidewalk will be extended along Taft Road and Eleven Mile to the intersection. They will deed the right-of-way (ten feet on Eleven Mile and 27 feet on Taft Road) over to the City. Mr. Argenta said that he has reviewed a 2005 tree survey of the property. It indicated there were 217 regulated trees. The current plan calls for the removal of 55 trees; of those 25 are dead. Of the other thirty trees, ten were classified as fair-to-poor condition. The other twenty were classified as good. There are ten additional trees that will need to be removed for the sidewalks.
Mr. Argenta said the detention area has been planned in an open area, as was the entrance. As many trees will be saved as possible. The residents wished to have a private residence. The major entry will be from Taft Road. The Fire Marshal asked for a secondary exit onto Eleven Mile which can be gated pursuant to the Fire Marshal’s requirements.
Chair Cassis opened the floor for public comment:
There was no correspondence. Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Lynch supported the project as an appropriate use of the land. There is no issue with density as each unit will house only one person. The plan calls for a minor impact on the trees. The remaining trees will shield the building from view.
Member Burke confirmed the design of the entry ways. He supported the project.
Member Pehrson confirmed with Ms. Kapelanski that there is no issue with a Traffic Study Waiver. She asked that the Planning Commission add this stipulation to the motion.
Member Pehrson asked Dr. John Freeland, the City’s Environmental Consultant, to comment on the trees. Dr. Freeland thought that Mr. Argenta reasonably characterized the site. The Applicant will provide an updated woodland survey to ensure that no additional trees are now regulation-sized or dead. The exact number of impacted trees will be determined later, and the Applicant will either replace the trees or pay into the tree fund.
Member Pehrson asked about the PRO Agreement and the benefit of the sidewalks and right-of-way deeding. Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said the City likes to have a list of all the public benefits associated with the PRO request. The City has spoken with the Applicant regarding the woodlands and whether the Applicant would place a conservation easement over the remaining trees. The City has asked whether the Applicant will limit the future uses of the property should the site change hands. The details need to be worked out. She encouraged Member Pehrson to ask the Applicant to comment; the City must be careful in not requesting items specifically.
Mr. Argenta said that they would review the future limitations of the land, but he felt limiting it to a religious use only was a bit tight. He would look at the limitations of a conservation easement.
Member Pehrson confirmed that there are three Ordinance deviations: The two carport setbacks and the front yard parking setback. He also confirmed that the architecture would be residential in nature.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of Zoning Map Amendment 18.673 and Planned Rezoning Overlay SP07-59 for the Basilian Fathers Residence, motion to recommend approval to the City Council to rezone the subject property from R-1 (One-Family Residential to RM-1 (Low Density, Low-Rise Multiple Family Residential) with a Planned Rezoning Overlay, with the following considerations: 1) The Applicant considering an enhancement of the proposed public benefit as indicated by the Applicant’s response letter and their intent being on the record today with offers to deed the future right-of-way, construction of sidewalks as indicated on the concept plan, a possible conservation easement over the remaining woodlands, and a possible limitation of future uses; 2) The City Council considering the Ordinance deviations associated with the proposed concept plan concerning the parking and carport setbacks as detailed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; and 3) Compliance with all the conditions listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters, for the reasons that it is in compliance with Article 34, Section 3402 of the Zoning Ordinance, it would be compatible with the existing and anticipated uses in the area, and it does provide benefits to the City.
Member Avdoulos thought the City and the Master Plan and Zoning Committee did a good job of discussing the possibilities of rezoning to R-T or RM-1. In this case, because of the size of the property and its intended use, the RM-1 designation is appropriate. This will be a nice project that will blend in with the neighboring sites. The building will be tucked in and will work well on the wooded site. He thought that Taft Road was the better choice for the main entry. He asked whether the Applicant wished to comment about the possibility of underneath parking.
Mr. Argenta said he looked at a topographic survey that indicated a slope, and he thought it might be possible to put parking underneath, but the building would ultimately go too high; there isn’t the room to accommodate that design feature. He has also since determined that the land is rather level.
Previously Chair Cassis was concerned about the corner lot. The City does not want to see that property turn into a greater density. Mr. Argenta responded that that corner property owner also owns the subject property. The Basilian Fathers have the right of first refusal. Chair Cassis thought it was important that the character of Single Family Residential be maintained along Taft Road. Mr. Argenta said he thought the Basilian Fathers’ intent is to take the corner if it becomes available, to further isolate the subject property.
Mr. Argenta told Chair Cassis that they would consider a conservation easement if they can come to terms with the language. Mr. Argenta confirmed that the building will have a residential appearance.
Chair Cassis asked about the carports. The setback on the front yard is one parking space. That space is covered. It was designed as such so that a nice turning radius could be provided at the top of the site. All of the carports will be hidden by the trees. Chair Cassis supported the project.
Ms. Kapelanski asked whether Member Pehrson wished to add a Planning Commission Waiver of the Traffic Study; Member Pehrson and Member Gutman agreed to do so.
roll call vote on basilian fathers zoning map amendment 18.673 and pro SP07-59 positive recommendation motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of Zoning Map Amendment 18.673 and Planned Rezoning Overlay SP07-59 for the Basilian Fathers Residence, motion to recommend approval to the City Council to rezone the subject property from R-1 (One-Family Residential to RM-1 (Low Density, Low-Rise Multiple Family Residential) with a Planned Rezoning Overlay, with the following considerations: 1) The Applicant considering an enhancement of the proposed public benefit as indicated by the Applicant’s response letter and their intent being on the record today with offers to deed the future right-of-way, construction of sidewalks as indicated on the concept plan, a possible conservation easement over the remaining woodlands, and a possible limitation of future uses; 2) The City Council considering the Ordinance deviations associated with the proposed concept plan concerning the parking and carport setbacks as detailed in the Staff and Consultant review letters; 3) A Planning Commission Waiver of the Traffic Study requirement; and 4) Compliance with all the conditions listed in the Staff and Consultant review letters, for the reasons that it is in compliance with Article 34, Section 3402 of the Zoning Ordinance, it would be compatible with the existing and anticipated uses in the area, and it does provide benefits to the City. Motion carried 8-0.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. MEADOWBROOK OFFICE BUILDING, SITE PLAN NUMBER 07-68 Consideration on the request of HEFCO Properties for a revised façade approval. The subject property is located in Section 14, at the southwest corner of Meadowbrook Road and Twelve Mile, in the OST, Planned Office Service Technology District. The subject property is approximately 4.68 acres.
Planner Karen Reinowski explained that this November 2003-approved office building is back before the Planning Commission for a façade review. The properties to the south are zoned OST and master planned for Office. The properties to the north are zoned and master planned Residential.
The approved façade included brick, veneer and pre-cast stone materials. A Section Nine Waiver was not required. When the building was constructed, the materials had changed to predominantly masonry materials. The Applicant indicated that the approved materials were no longer available and he was unaware that new materials needed to get approval from the City. Therefore, the Applicant is before the Planning Commission to seek approval for the new façade.
The elevations as constructed are shown on the plan dated December 22, 2006. Both sample boards were present at the meeting for the Planning Commission to review. The new materials do meet the Zoning Ordinance standard as noted in the Façade Consultant’s review and no Section Nine Waiver is necessary. However, it was noted during the site inspection that the rooftop units are not screened and they can be seen from Twelve Mile and Meadowbrook.
The Applicant has indicated that he does not wish to screen the units. Staff and the Façade Consultant both believe that the units should be screened because they are visible from off-site. The angular view is less aesthetically pleasing because of the vents. The Applicant has provided a proposed vertical screening unit, a picture of which was provided to the Planning Commission. The proposed louver material is shadow grey and a sample was available at the meeting. This color and style were considered the least obtrusive and would blend in the most with the surroundings.
Ms. Reinowski said that a comparison of the old and new elevations reveals a slight variation in the building height. The approved façade indicates west and east elevation heights of 31’8" that included HVAC screening for a total of 36’4". This design does not exist on the current plan. The built façade does not show this extra height; the existing building is 31 feet in height. This is perhaps why the units can be seen; it was presumed that they would be fully screened.
Mr. Howard Friedlaender, Hefco Properties, 33533 West Twelve Mile, Suite 190, Farmington Hills, addressed the Planning Commission. He said that there were two issues at the table; first, the change in the façade materials was submitted to the Building Department. He did not find out that the brick had been discontinued by the manufacturer until after he received Final Site Plan approval. His architect thought, in error, that the submission to the Building Department for the permit showing the new materials was sufficient. He apologized for not bringing this to the attention of the Planning Department and coming back to the Planning Commission for a review. He replaced masonry with masonry, windows with windows, but he did change the color. He tried to find brick similar to what he had originally selected and couldn’t find anything he liked. He saw the brick that he used on another building and liked it. He went from a beige brick to a red brick which changed everything. He still used stone but it is a different stone. He used glass but it is a different color. He came up with a color palette that he thought was pleasing and again, he thought that submitting this information to the Building Department was sufficient.
Mr. Friedlaender assumed that he would provide screening, knowing that it is a requirement. After he built the building he drove around it to look at it from the roadway. He did not think that the still photos shown to the Planning Commission accurately depicted what the view of the building looks like from the road because photos function more like a slow-motion or freeze-frame view as opposed to a real-time view. He is highly motivated to ensure that this building is attractive. He was not looking to put up seek a waiver for the screening for a bad reason; rather, after studying the building, he concluded that the view from the roadways is the very top of the units for a brief, fleeting moment and it doesn’t look bad. One can see something; if the screens are put into place they will be taller and wider than the rooftop units themselves. He discussed this with Al Hall, the Façade Consultant, along with the change in the façade materials. He asked whether there is a procedure to seek relief through a waiver request.
Mr. Hall said that when Mr. Friedlaender came before the Planning Commission he could also discuss the rooftop screening. At this point, because of the topography of how the building sits, the surrounding topography, the parapet walls, the location of the units on the roof, Mr. Friedlaender considered the impact to the viewshed to be minimal. He favored not adding anything more to the units, but he understood the Planning Commission may feel otherwise and he is not opposed to doing it. He did not think it would wreck the appearance of the building. He also did not think it would be an enhancement. He has submitted a proposal to add the Envisor-brand screening that was shown to the Planning Commission. He chose the louver design, and even though the recommendation from Mr. Hall was to use a dark color that was compatible with the building, Mr. Friedlaender’s design consultant urged against that, suggesting instead the shadow grey color. This would tend to minimize that part of the view. It would appear more like clouds and much more like the sky. It matches the stone on the building very well. It picks up the grey color in the marbling of the stone. Is screening is required, Mr. Friedlaender will provide it. He hoped that the Planning Commission has driven by the building and taken a look; he did not think the current viewshed was bad. It could appear as though the units are screened. He offered to answer any questions.
Chair Cassis asked Mr. Friedlander if he was an architect; he responded no. He identified himself as the developer of the project and cited Ron Jonna and Associates as the architect of the building. Chair Cassis asked Mr. Friedlaender if he thought that a change to the façade should have been submitted to the Planning Department for approval. Mr. Friedlaender responded that they thought they were notifying the City of the changes with the submission of the construction drawings for the building.
Chair Cassis responded that Mr. Friedlaender had changed the façade. Mr. Friedlaender asked whether Chair Cassis was referring to the materials or the architecture. Chair Cassis responded that he meant the materials, which is the reason why the Planning Commission is now reviewing the change. Chair Cassis again asked whether Mr. Friedlaender felt that if there was any change to his façade that he should ask the planners if the change was okay. Mr. Friedlaender asked whether he meant a change to the building. Chair Cassis responded that Mr. Friedlaender made presumptions on his own, but he never came back to the planners to say he was changing the material and not screening the units. He asked if Mr. Friedlaender thought that was okay.
Mr. Friedlaender told Chair Cassis that he did not understand. Chair Cassis iterated that Mr. Friedlaender was at the Planning Commission because the material had changed. Chair Cassis asked again whether this change obligated him to call the Building or Planning Department’s attention to this change and confirm that it was okay.
Mr. Friedlaender responded that they thought they were disclosing that. They told the Building Department that they were changing the materials. Chair Cassis asked whether they showed Building the new material. Mr. Friedlaender said they showed them the plans and identified the materials by brand name, color and description. There was a full disclosure in their construction drawings of all of the materials that are on the new board. What they didn’t do was present a new board and bring it to the Planning Department. They missed that step.
Chair Cassis said that either Mr. Friedlaender was not understanding him or vice versa. He thanked Mr. Friedlaender for his presentation.
Member Avdoulos thought this was an odd situation. He said it was very disappointing and also disturbing at the same time. On this particular project, when it first came up, the Planning Commission deliberated quite a bit because this is a corner site that is high profile. The Planning Commission’s Master Plan and Zoning Committee had been looking at the property across the street, and what Twelve Mile was going to look at as one enters Novi Road. They looked at the intersections and the corners. They looked at how nice of a road Meadowbrook is past Twelve Mile and travel toward Thirteen Mile. All of this came into play with this particular project. What was presented originally, in Member Avdoulos’ estimation, was a very nice design. It had brick but it also broke up the façade with glass and a nice stone treatment that added some interest to the building. They also discussed screening of the rooftop units, and that was going to be accomplished through integrating the screening with the front façade, bringing it around and pulling it to the rear or the south, thereby making a nice project.
One of the things that Member Avdoulos struggled with in his reading was he knew the whole history behind it. Secondly, he wondered what that said, if the Planning Commission denied the façade. What would it do? Does the Applicant have to take the brick down? The issue to him was not that the Applicant had to change the brick because the approved choice was unavailable, or that the color was changed. He said the design was changed. The ends were detailed with stone. Some of the horizontal treatments were also stone, to cross the building and connect the building visually. Member Avdoulos drives by this parcel almost every day and saw that the building was finally going up. Then he noticed at the ends, where the stair towers are, he noticed that a brick façade was being applied. He had a gut feeling that it didn’t look like what he remembered approving, but he figured that his memory was failing him. When the building was finished, he was very disappointed because it was not as he had thought was going to be built. If he would have known the building was going to be built that way, he would have wanted the building to be pushed a little further back so some front parking and additional space could be there. With dark brick color, the building is very daunting. He thought that the Planning Commission worked with the Applicant to get such a nice project initially, relying on a lot of well-thought out input.
Member Avdoulos asked how the City can avoid this? The Applicant went to the Building Department and submitted his information and then went into the Building Department with the other elevation that noted all the changes. Even so, the Applicant took the north and south elements down to line them up with the coping of the rest of the building, negating the fact that they were having part of the structure as roof screening. It goes through the Building Department for approval of the constructability and code compliance and that kind of thing. Member Avdoulos wondered if the Building Department does indeed refer back to the Stamping Set to ensure that the City gets what it approves. A lot of time is spent on a project, and Member Avdoulos does his due diligence because the Community Development Department does a phenomenal job of creating these [reports], and the Applicant comes in and has a lot of money and stuff invested. The Planning Commission goes through and comes up with a deal and then the plan comes back changed. How does the City circumvent this?
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said that is why the Staff felt the plan had to come back to the Planning Commission. It was so vastly different from the plan initially seen by the Planning Commission. The way the department works is that the Stamping Sets are approved through the Planning Division. They are checked to ensure that all of the Planning Commission conditions have been addressed. The façade board is kept by the Façade Consultant, and at the time that the building goes up the Façade Consultant needs to go out and make sure the materials are consistent. Sometimes there are occasional modifications to the plans. Ms. McBeth’s understanding was the modifications to the stairwells were actually part of the Building review; they needed to take a look at certain exits and entrances, though she didn’t know all the details. The other changes were also considered relatively minor. The big changes really were that the materials had changed significantly. The Staff wanted to make sure that they were being honest with the Planning Commission so that they knew the change was duly noted. The building is different. It doesn’t look good for anybody. It can’t be said that Mr. Friedlaender needed to come to the Planning side of the counter and talk to us, but he would be encouraged to do so if the City knows that there has been a significant change.
Ms. McBeth said this is true for other developers as well. The façade boards are taken very seriously. These are materials that the City is expecting. These are the colors that the Planning Commission is anticipating. This is the combination of materials that the City is looking for, and the building needs to be constructed with those materials or the Applicant needs to come back and tell the City that their building brick color is going to be changed. Certain reviews can be done administratively, but a major change needs to be brought to the Planning Commission. It is unfortunate that this change wasn’t picked up until the building was constructed with the new materials. The Staff doesn’t object to the appearance of the building but perhaps the Planning Commission does to a certain extent. It’s a nice looking building and a nice development. It’s just that the materials weren’t consistent with what was originally approved. Staff felt it was important to bring the plan back to the Planning Commission, especially in the sense that there is also a concern with the rooftop units. Staff wanted to make sure that the Planning Commission could weigh in on that issue.
Member Avdoulos repeated that this is disappointing because he knew what his original concerns were and he knew the importance of this particular property. When the outcome wasn’t what he thought it was going to be, he just didn’t know. He wasn’t in a position to recommend approval because he wasn’t pleased with the whole situation of how it came about. In a funny way, he did agree with the Applicant about the rooftop units. He drives by the building all the time, and he thought maybe he was still shocked about the building and isn’t paying attention to the rooftop units. He didn’t see a need for screening because it may end up causing more of a visibility or height issue. The Façade Consultant did a nice job of putting it all together, and he thought it was their recommendation to use the screening. Member Avdoulos asked Mr. Hall to summarize his recommendation.
Mr. Hall from Metco stated that he reviewed the building. Part of the question is how to prevent this from happening. He said there is a façade board that is presented at the Planning Commission, and he stores them until the façade inspection takes place. This is when the mistake was caught. When he took the board to the site, he knew there were differences. He asked Ms. McBeth what the City should do. They looked at the number of things that were different and decided that the plan needed to come back to the Planning Commission. Strictly looking at the Ordinance now, with the building [compared to the] façade board, it meets the Ordinance. It doesn’t address material changes or design considerations and the items mentioned by the Planning Commission. These were not part of his analysis. He thought that was something that did need to be looked at, because it was a previously-approved building.
Mr. Hall said there is an Ordinance requiring roof screening. The fact that one can’t see the units can be looked at from both sides. It can’t be regularly seen as one drives by, but if someone builds something next to this site, they will be able to see it. It’s hard, and Mr. Hall also agreed with the Applicant. He drove by a couple of times and thought the decision was like splitting hairs. If the screening is put into place, it may increase the height. It may still be unnoticeable because no one looks at them, even screened. He had to make a decision, and on the profile it did become obvious that those are units. They are not square, and he toyed with the idea of painting them, removing the silverness so the sun doesn’t beat on them and then people may not notice them. But, when the units aren’t square, then they start to look like units. He added that other people have had to screen in the City. He said this Applicant has to protect and hide his units.
Mr. Hall read the material beforehand, and said there was a lot of conversation about roof screening the first time the plan was before the Planning Commission. He did not know how to address this, but he said with the Ordinance, and the fact one can see a profile, he recommended that the units be screened. He added that the light color detail that is proposed goes on the units. They are not the bigger screens that are tapped into the roof with boots. The Applicant is trying to keep this a low cost. The color selection is fine; it can’t be too dark because it is a vinyl material that has properties that must be dealt with.
Member Avdoulos appreciated the comments. Mr. Hall made sense regarding the Zoning Ordinance requiring the screening. The City wants to be sure that the neighboring buildings and such aren’t affected by the look of this building, especially if there’s a two-story office building that is at a higher elevation. Those people will then be looking at these rooftop units. Member Avdoulos had a thing that sometimes a color change isn’t as drastic as when a material is changed out. The stairwells were changed from stone to brick, and that, to him, was a design change. That is really changing the focus. He pictured this building as something similar to Northern Equities’ angled Henry Ford Medical Systems building at the corner of Twelve Mile and Haggerty. It’s brick with a stone front and the stone ends for the stairwell. That design works really well – it breaks things up and makes things look a little nicer.
Member Avdoulos asked whether there was language in the Façade Ordinance that would require any change to the façade (materials, colors, or any drastic change to the approved façade) to come before the Planning Commission for approval, prior to going to the Building Division. Ms. Reinowski responded that there are certain criteria in the site plan review section regarding approval. One thing that is listed is that if an Applicant has an approved façade, and he wishes to change it, it can be done administratively, presuming that it meets all the Ordinance standards, working sections, waivers and such. Certainly in this case, the City wanted to bring it forward because it was built prior to our looking at it. Certainly if there is a drastic change in the material the City could decide to bring it forward for Planning Commission consideration. Something minor that wouldn’t be a big difference would be done administratively; it’s just a judgment call as to where the line is.
Member Avdoulos interjected that often the Planning Commission is looking at sites plans to make sure the setbacks are met, the zoning, and everything with the Ordinance. At times the Planning Commission starts looking at a façade and what that is. He would hate to see something like a Providence Park (upon which the materials were really deliberated because their request was really drastic to that particular part of campus), suddenly change the grey siding that was approved to lime green and yellow. That Applicant might respond that it was still siding. That’s where changes can turn into trouble. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Speaking for himself, Member Avdoulos thought this change was more drastic and he didn’t know which way to vote or what to do. He turned the floor over to his colleagues so they could come up with an answer.
Member Meyer thought the Applicant has an evident awareness that a misstep of some significance has occurred. The façade was not built with the materials approved by the Stamping Set. This is a major misstep and he hoped that this would never happen again. Obviously, the Planning Commission’s hope wouldn’t be that this building is stripped and brought into compliance with the original approved materials found on the Stamping Set. Member Meyer felt that the Applicant has given evidence that the Applicant is now aware of this, and that was sufficient for him. He wished that the Applicant would have brought his architect to the meeting, because it appeared to Member Meyer that he would have known better. The architect could have been a more collaborative help to the Applicant in this matter. Member Meyer thought it was foolish to having stamping sets for any purpose if they are not going to be adhered to.
Member Meyer said that the law is for order. The definition of law is "the ordering of reason for the common good" and the common good is somehow impacted upon when one or two people take the law into their own hands. In this case, the law is regarding these materials used for stamping sets. He hoped there has been a lesson learned. He was still not sure if he could approve this request but his hope would be that one other law – the ordinance regarding screening – should be upheld – it seemed to him that there should be some screening of those units. In light of the expert advice, he could understand that the screen should not necessarily be so dark that they then become more of an eyesore than a blending mechanism.
Member Meyer has driven by the building several times. He watched the building going up and he was particularly aware of the fact that this is a high-profile corner. It seemed to him that the City should do everything it possibly can to make sure that this issue is addressed and that maybe further steps are taken by the Planning Commission to make sure that someone will never again say they will use certain materials and then use otherwise. It’s only after the building is built that the City comes back and realizes that it’s not what was approved. The Applicant will then ask what the City is going to do about it now. Member Meyer said that sometime, maybe the city will have to do something about it. His concern is that the City has the stamping sets and the Ordinances for a reason and they should be respected so there is order, just as the classical definition of law defines it. He reiterated that this is the ordering of reason for the common good promulgated and established by those who are in charge of the community. The key word is order. If the word gets out that one developer got away with it, then two or three others will think because one got away with it that they can get away with it. The last thing Member Meyer wanted to do as a Planning Commissioner is give anyone a sense of what he called unbridled freedom. Freedom is only freedom when it is respected by everyone involved.
Member Meyer would appreciate if the architect could meet with the Community Development Department and converse about what happened. The City can do everything it can to reconcile the matter.
Member Lynch confirmed that the architect was Ron Jonna and Associates who improperly advised the Applicant. Member Lynch wished to put that on the public record.
Member Greco said that he was not a Planning Commission member at the time work was done on the plan. His brief membership has indicated to him the amount of time his fellow commissioners put into caring for their community by trying to make the right decisions. In going over the materials prior to the meeting, Member Greco was shocked that the building was very different. Hearing the other commissioners describe how different the building is now, he began thinking about what a remedy could be. Obviously the building now exists, which puts the City in a very difficult situation. He wished to put on the record that, once bitten, twice shy, the Planning Commission appears to be taking this very seriously and may take a different action in the future of what he suspects the action will be tonight. He expressed disappointment in the circumstances of this situation.
Member Pehrson asked Ms. McBeth and City Attorney Kristin Kolb what the remedy would be if the request was denied at this meeting. Ms. Kolb responded that the proposed remedy gets into a legal issue if the request is denied. She suspected that the Applicant would wish to pursue his remedies through the legal system. Obviously there is a kind of an estoppel argument because the building is up. The cost to the Applicant to re-do his building would be significant. Would there be a judge who would go along with the denial?
Chair Cassis asked what the difference is between this situation and the parcel owner who cut down their trees without City permission. The City levied something against them, such as putting more money into the tree fund or planting trees or so on. He asked why the City couldn’t impose something like that in this situation. Ms. Kolb responded that it was her understanding of the Ordinance that woodlands have a specific penalty provision attached to them. Separate from a site plan process, if trees are removed in violation of the City’s process, there is a penalty provision. She did not know if there is a direct penalty associated with inappropriate façades; she was not that familiar with that part of the Ordinance. There is a public loss when trees are removed illegally. Trees are a public benefit.
Chair Cassis asked what legal action the City can take against the developer. Ms. Kolb asked if he was referring to putting up the wrong façade. Chair Cassis clarified that he meant the wrong façade and the wrong make-up of what his colleague had fought for and put into that particular request’s approval at that time. Ms. Kolb said the City has the power to enforce its own Ordinances, and site plans are approved according to Ordinances. It would be an enforcement action. A remedy that orders the removal of a completed building façade would be an extreme caseas the cost to the developer might be too significant for a judge to render such a decision. She thought perhaps, that Member Greco, who is also an attorney, might have a possible example to share.
Member Pehrson said that this is a problem, that everyone had an architectural drawing that they went to bat for, and then another one was built. The "what was" compared to the "what is" contradicts a precedent. The process is not working in this particular arena. He was not helping to try to find a way that punishes the Applicant at this time, because he didn’t think that the City can, or would want to spend the money to get into a legal bickering about facades. However, Member Pehrson then said that this is an important issue, and it is worth trying to do something like that, but he just didn’t know if the City wanted to go that route. He thought the City was in a catch-22, that the right motion to make would be to approve the request with some prejudice that reflects the unhappy faces on his side of the table. In the end, the Applicant is receiving an approval from an unhappy Commission. He didn’t know that denying the plan would be in the best interests of the City – to expend one dollar or thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars on a legal court case for something such as a façade. He wished to find out what the real process step is in the interim, and make that part of our deliberation, so that the Planning Commission can use the suggestion.
Chair Cassis interjected, asking if Member Pehrson meant that the request should be tabled. Member Pehrson responded yes, it could be tabled.
Chair Cassis said that as soon as he read this request, he put two words down. He then gave Member Gutman the floor.
To Member Gutman, it seemed that obviously in any legal agreement and in any court hearing, though he wasn’t an attorney, both sides have significant losses associated with the fees and time lost. It seemed to him that Mr. Friedlaender has been expressing his remorse, though the term was probably a little more than what he wanted to say. The fact that Mr. Friedlaender knows that a mistake was made, and it seems like any motion the Planning Commission might want to make would include, perhaps, Mr. Friedlaender’s willingness to sit down with the really important people in the city, he deferred the decision of whom to the City Attorney, to determine if whether or not there is some self-imposed penalty that would make his side of the Planning Commission table feel better – to send a message that people can not just tramp over the City’s regulations and rules. He asked Mr. Friedlaender if that was something he would be interested in doing.
Mr. Friedlaender apologized because he could not hear Member Gutman. Chair Cassis asked Mr. Friedlaender to come to the microphone. Member Gutman repeated it seemed as if Mr. Friedlaender has expressed some responsibility for not having followed the rules, and instead of gearing up both sides for battle which, may or may not be what transpires, perhaps there is an opportunity that can arise that Mr. Friedlaender might sit down with the powers that be at the City of Novi, and determine some self-imposed penalty that is mutually acceptable, that would make a whole lot of people happier without having to fight. This is merely for the fact that the City’s Ordinances and regulations were trampled upon. He asked if this was something Mr. Friedlaender was willing to do.
Mr. Friedlaender responded that he would be willing to meet with the City and discuss this further, if that was Member Gutman’s question. Member Gutman replied that it was. Member Gutman continued that, to the extent that Chair Cassis had recommended tabling it, that perhaps, well definitely, he wished to make a motion that:
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Burke:
[In the matter of the request of HEFCO Properties for a revised façade approval,] the Planning Commission does [postpone] it to such a time that Mr. Friedlaender can sit down with the City and come up with some mutually-acceptable action on this.
Chair Cassis said that when he read the material, he wrote the words "another oops" on his paper. These oopses come before the Planning Commission all the time, such as cutting down trees without telling anyone. Then, the City discovers it, or any other violations and the City does discover them. Yet, the City always had some remedy for it. He saw that the City Attorney is not (end of tape).
Chair Cassis said that the City can’t half-help a person, the City has to help them all the way. In this matter, the Planning Commission can’t just say they’re disappointed, like one debater said a year ago, "I’m disappointed." Chair Cassis said that Member Meyer was very eloquent, mentioning all of the things that Chair Cassis had in mind regarding this matter. Chair Cassis was not going to okay this request, he was not going to let it go, regardless. He has so much respect for the City Attorney, but at the same time, the Planning Commission can not allow things like that to take place because then the next guy is going to do it and the following person is going to do it. They will express remorse. However, with the judgment of his colleague, Member Gutman, who has come to Mr. Friedlaender’s rescue, Chair Cassis would be willing at this time to vote yes on a tabling motion, only if the Planning Commission can come back with the Applicant discussing some kind of remedy or compensation or a solution of some kind. It would have to compensate for this presumption on the Applicant’s part that he can just say that he doesn’t like the approved brick so he goes ahead and builds with different brick, or that he doesn’t like the façade on which the Planning Commission worked so hard so he goes and changes it. Mr. Friedlaender has nullified the Planning Commission’s position, as if to say that the Planning Commission doesn’t matter.
Chair Cassis said that the Planning Commission exists to perform a job for the City. They thought they were doing the best thing for the City, as required for a corner like Twelve Mile and Meadowbrook. He reiterated that he was going to vote against any approval at this meeting. Chair Cassis respected Member Avdoulos, who spent so much time on this project as suggested by the minutes, and he worked so hard to help make this project a key and beautiful project on the corner, just like the lovely building on the corner of Twelve Mile and Haggerty. The Planning Commission helped make it that way. The Planning Commission is trying to take this building in that direction. He was not only disappointed, but he wished to go as far as he can to persuade his colleagues to reject anything that doesn’t have some sort of an agreement between the applicant and the department or the City Attorney. Chair Cassis wanted some sort of remedy or compensation or anything that will send a notice to future people who might try to take the law into their own hands. Chair Cassis asked whether there was anything more to add.
Member Avdoulos said that the one comment he wished to add was that the wanted to verify that the landscape plan has been followed. He knew there was some discussion on that, but he didn’t know if it had been checked out yet. He asked too, if there were any other deviations. He was just trying to recall the plan to determine whether the enhancement along the building’s Meadowbrook frontage had been followed or changed. Ms. McBeth said the Staff would follow up on that detail when the plan is brought back to the Planning Commission. She said they would be happy to meet with Mr. Friedlaender and discuss this issue a little bit more.
Member Avdoulos said they were aware of the façade and he wanted to ensure whether anything else had been altered or changed from the stamping set to what else has gone through all the other approval processes. He thought the Planning Commission had stated everything pretty well. He thought they had a good motion.
Member Greco added that the Applicant’s representation has been that the original façade brick was no longer available. He asked whether the City had independently verified that statement. Ms. McBeth said that this had not been verified, but the Staff would be happy to come back with that verification. Member Greco said he would like to have an answer to that question. Chair Cassis said that was a good point.
Member Meyer asked if Mr. Friedlaender back in a month or in whatever time is needed, so that he is not too long on following through with his building, particularly with the screening question. Also, he said he would appreciate if Mr. Friedlaender would bring his architect with him when he returned to the Planning Commission. Mr. Friedlaender agreed to do so.
Chair Cassis called for the vote.
roll call vote on hefco properties postponement motion made by Member Gutman and seconded by Member Burke:
[In the matter of the request of HEFCO Properties for a revised façade approval,] the Planning Commission does [postpone] it to such a time that Mr. Friedlaender can sit down with the City and come up with some mutually-acceptable action on this. Motion carried 8-0.
2. APPROVAL OF THE NOVEMBER 28, 2007 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth stated that the words "Action Summary" would be removed from the top of the minutes.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Burke:
voice vote on november 28, 2007 Planning Commission minutes motion made by Member Pehrson and seconded by Member Burke:
Motion to approve the November 28, 2007 minutes as amended. Motion carried 8-0.
3. APPROVAL OF THE DECEMBER 12, 2007 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Gutman:
voice vote on december 12, 2007 Planning Commission minutes motion made by Member lynch and seconded by Member gutman:
Motion to approve the December 12, 2007 minutes. Motion carried 8-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. PLANNING COMMISSION BUDGET AND CIP DISCUSSION
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth announced the beginning of the FY2007-08 budget process. The Planning Commission Committees were encouraged to meet to discuss their goals and prepare any budget requests they might have. Last year’s requests were provided to the Planning Commission members to refresh their memories. Requests should be directed to Ms. McBeth by January 27, 2008 and the she will prepare the budget to go forward. Ms. McBeth said the both the Budget and the CIP Committee will be meeting soon, once the upcoming fiscal year information has been assembled for their review. The CIP information should be delivered to those members on February 8, 2008 for a possible February 12, 2008 meeting. If the Planning Commission CIP members wish to meet prior to convening with the two City Council members, they should let Ms. McBeth know and she would schedule a date. Once the Committees have met, the budgets will come back to the Planning Commission for a formal recommendation for adoption.
Ms. McBeth said there is still money left in this year’s Planning Commission budget for conferences. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the national planning conference which will be held in Las Vegas. She encouraged any planner who wished to attend to let her know. The dates are April 27-May 1, 2008. Ms. McBeth noted that she attended the conference in Philadelphia last year and she found it to be very worthwhile. There are first-rate classes and conferences to attend.
Ms. McBeth reminded the Planning Commission members that there are opportunities for the Citizen Planner program, one of which is on-line. The Michigan Planning Conference will be in Kalamazoo from October 1-4, 2008.
2. PLANNING COMMISSION BY-LAWS AND RULES OF PROCEDURE
Deputy Director of Community Development explained that the there were some minor changes necessary. The Planning Department has formally changed its name to Community Development Department. A modification of the presiding officers language was presented. The meeting starting times has changed to 7:00 PM. She said the Rules Committee could call for a meeting; otherwise the rules could be put on a future agenda for adoption.
Member Avdoulos confirmed that "Planning Department" should be changed to "Community Development Department" and that this would include Sections 4.1 and 5.1. The "Planning Commission" in Section 7.3 should be "Planning Commissioner."
Member Meyer asked that the Planning-Building-Construction process be described to the Planning Commission at a future meeting. He was a bit red-faced about the façade issues on tonight’s agenda - that the building was already built before the City realized that the façade and stairwells were incorrect. He thought for sure that there would be points along the way that would have prompted the City to catch these differences. It concerned him that an Applicant could walk away from a situation such as this, thinking that they got away with something. An old Native American Indian saying says, "Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me."
Member Burke said he would like to see a timeline on the subject project, showing when the site plan was stamped, when the building went up, and when the Façade Consultant inspected the site. It seemed to him that if the City inspected it after it was built, then it was too late, regardless. Given that perhaps there was a length of time between when the plan was approved and when the building was constructed, if indeed they did run out of materials, that would have predicated a change in materials. Maybe the City should get out in front of this situation now because, given the state of the economy, and the amount of time it may take for recently-approved buildings to get built, the City might just see this issue again. He thought it would behoove the City to have a renewed process so that this doesn’t happen again.
Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara McBeth said that Staff would be happy to provide that information for the next meeting. There are several fail-safe measures that are in place to check against these things. The Applicant is supposed to call before the materials are put on the building so the Façade Consultant can go out and verify the materials against the approved façade board. She wasn’t sure why that didn’t happen in this case. She said that Staff would look into it and report back.
Chair Cassis agreed with the comments made and said his colleagues made some legitimate remarks. He looked forward to an explanation being provided to the Planning Commission as to how this issue unfolded. Regardless of what else has been said, Chair Cassis said the question remains whether the onus is on the developer to come forward to the City with material procurement issues before he just changes them without a formal review. This has happened before, whereby a site inspection uncovers a design mistake and the Applicant is required to correct it – even if it’s digging up concrete to fix an under-sized underground pipe. He thought that adhering to the procedure was the onus of the developer. That is why he asked the Applicant certain questions at the beginning of the consideration. He thought the Applicant was more knowledgeable of the problem than he showed to be. He thought that Mr. Friedlaender understood the questions though he seemed not to. Chair Cassis said he asked Mr. Friedlaender if he realized that he should come to the City to discuss his not being able to find the right brick. The City still doesn’t know if he ever found it or not. He should have come to the City to ask for approval of a replacement brick. The onus is upon the developer.
Member Meyer said it reminded him of a time when he was asked to say a prayer over an open grave, but just then someone in the crowed realized that the wrong plot had been prepared. It’s not a minor little detail, as to where a grave is placed or how a façade is built.
Chair Cassis commented that roundabouts have been receiving a lot of press lately. The Oakland Press just ran an article on this new Michigan trend. Chair Cassis said he had a revelation recently when he was traveling on the Maple-Drake roundabout. He thought that particular design was okay. He said he received a complaint from a citizen who counted fifty directional signs on the Taft Road roundabout. He thought there was quite a contrast between the two designs.
Member Avdoulos responded that he was working on a hospital project for Columbia, Missouri (two hours west of St. Louis), and this is the home to the University of Missouri. This city is two-thirds the size of Ann Arbor. He was designing a roundabout for the front of the hospital. Within this small city there are already eleven roundabouts. He also noted that one of the magazine articles provided in the Planning Commission packet also had an article on roundabouts. When they are looked at and investigated, one will find that roundabouts do reduce traffic, accidents and fatalities. The design keeps traffic moving and hopefully, the layout is such that they induce a slow travel speed. This is something that he is looking at. He thought one would be better placed at, say, Nine Mile and Taft, rather than at an entrance to a subdivision. People complained about the Taft Road design, and some of the directional signs were removed; on Taft Road Member Avdoulos has since seen young drivers navigating too fast and an older couple land in the center median because they failed to veer to the right. As a traffic device, roundabouts can control things. The Maple roundabouts are really working – they are grand enough in size. The Maple design may be more of a figure-eight which might be the new fashion. He predicted that the roundabout concept will be proposed on more Novi projects in the future. The Planning Commission should become more aware of its usage.
Chair Cassis agreed that the Maple design is good, but the design on Taft Road wasn’t even big enough to accommodate a schoolbus.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Pehrson:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at 8:58 PM.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
MON 02/04/08 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 02/12/08 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:00 PM
WED 02/13/08 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 02/18/08 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
MON 02/25/08 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 02/27/08 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 03/03/08 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 03/11/08 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:00 PM
WED 03/12/08 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 03/17/08 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, February 6, 2008 Signature on File
Date Approved: February 13, 2008 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date