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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:00 PM.
Present: Members David Baratta, Victor Cassis, David Greco, Andy Gutman, Brian Larson, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Leland Prince
Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Jana Pritchard, Planner; Tom Schultz, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Chair Pehrson led the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Baratta and seconded by Member Larson.
VOICE VOTE ON THE AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER BARATTA AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LARSON:
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
COMMITTEE MEMBER APPOINTMENTS
Administrative Liaison Committee: Members Greco, Gutman, Pehrson
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no Correspondence to share.
There were no Committee Reports.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR REPORT
Deputy Director McBeth stated that at the July 6, 2009 City Council meeting, the City Council considered the 29 Park Nightclub proposed for Main Street for Preliminary Site Plan and Shared Parking Study approval. There was a considerable amount of discussion at that meeting and the City Council voted to postpone action to allow the applicant time to gather requested information and return to the City Council.
Additionally, at that meeting, three of our Planning Commission members were reappointed for three year terms by the Mayor. Member Baratta, Member Lynch and Chair Pehrson were all reappointed.
On the table this evening, the Commission will find the Master Plan and Zoning Committee meeting packets prepared by Planner Mark Spencer for the July 16, 2009 meeting beginning at 7:00PM.
Chair Pehrson asked Mr. Schultz about the parking question that was discussed at the City Council meeting. Chair Pehrson stated, relative to what the Commission deliberated on and brought forward in their recommendation, does Mr. Schultz see any need for the Commission to alter, change, modify, or look differently at parking relative to the questions being asked at City Council that would be more helpful to new tenants when they come into the city.
Attorney Schultz answered he did not think so and stated that the discussion at the Planning Commission level was detailed and that there was backup material to support the recommendation. Mr. Schultz stated that City Council wanted more information to determine if additional parking was available and needed more time to examine the Shared Parking Study. Mr. Schultz did not think anyone walked away from the meeting thinking there should have been a different process at the Planning Commission.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no consent agenda.
1. ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.237
Public Hearing for a recommendation to City Council for Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.237, an Ordinance to amend Ordinance No. 97-18, as amended, the City of Novi Zoning Ordinance; In order to provide for standards for siting wind energy turbines.
Planner Kapelanski distributed additional newspaper articles for the Planning Commission to review. Ms. Kapelanski stated that in reaction to the growing interest in clean energy and wind energy in particular, staff has proposed an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to regulate the use of wind turbines in the City of Novi. This amendment is being proposed so that when a business or resident wishes to install a turbine, or explore that possibility, we have structures and regulations in place to address the concerns of the city, the residents and the individual or company, wishing to install the turbine.
Wind turbines can be used for private use at a home or business or for large scale utility power production. The Michigan Wind Resource Map was included in the Commissioner’s packets. Generally, Novi and the Metro Detroit area do not have significant wind resources that would be capable of powering a utility grade type system, so utility grade turbines are not addressed by this Ordinance Amendment. A chart included in the packets summarizes some of the basic tenants proposed for this amendment.
The amendment addresses residential and business turbines and regulates three types of turbines.
All types of turbines would need to be of a non-obtrusive color and maintained to be free of rust and corrosion. No advertising on the turbines would be permitted. Noise could not exceed the lowest decibel level at residential property lines and the lowest decibel level plus five (5) decibels at non-residential property lines. No guy-wires would be permitted and decommissioning would be the responsibility of the owner and would be required within six (6) months of the end of the turbine’s useful life. That is another change from the previously proposed ordinance at the Implementation Committee - previously the ordinance allowed twelve (12) months, staff is now recommending six (6) months.
Some other communities in the area have also begun to adopt ordinances to regulate wind turbines including West Bloomfield, Canton Township and Port Huron. These ordinances are very similar to the amendment before the Commission this evening and mostly require Special Land Use approval for the installation of a wind turbine.
Permitted heights in the West Bloomfield Ordinance are up to one-hundred (100) feet in residential districts and one-hundred fifty (150) feet in manufacturing districts with a setback equal to six (6) times the height of the turbine.
The Port Huron Ordinance permits turbines in any district on a two (2) acre parcel as a Special Land Use with a maximum height not to exceed the height permitted in that district and a setback equal to the height of the turbine.
Planning staff would like the Planning Commission to consider adding the language ‘for all horizontal axis turbines’ following the phrase; ‘Upwind turbines shall be required’. This would be added to Section 2508.8.D.1A and Section 2508.8.E.1A to clarify that vertical turbines would be permitted. The question of vertical axis turbines also being permitted was brought up at the Implementation Committee. Staff wants to make it clear that the ordinance does not prohibit vertical axis turbines, just that the horizontal axis turbines would have to be of the upwind variety. Planner Kapelanski was available for questions.
Chair Pehrson opened the public hearing and invited anyone to step forward to address the Commission. Seeing no one, Chair Pehrson asked if there was any correspondence. There was no correspondence. Chair Pehrson closed the public hearing and turned it over to the Planning Commission for review.
Member Lynch asked if the city intended to allow wind turbines in residential areas. Member Lynch stated that although the wording on this was probably wonderful, he has a fundamental problem with putting wind turbines in a residential community. Member Lynch stated he does not see anything but trouble for the cost/benefit, and if asked to vote on the language, Member Lynch does not agree that Novi’s residential communities should permit wind turbines.
Chair Pehrson confirmed with Planner Kapelanski that the way this started was a resident came to the city to see what ordinances and regulations were in place for locating a wind turbine on their property. Knowing that the city did not have ordinances in place, the recommendation from the Planning Division was to provide an ordinance to regulate this use.
Chair Pehrson stated that this language establishes regulations for wind energy turbines including standards for special use permits, zoning, setbacks, height restrictions and setbacks from property lines in order to ensure we protect the character of the community.
Deputy Director McBeth stated that staff added a provision for residential districts requiring lots to be a minimum of two acres in size. At the Implementation Committee meeting, the height was limited to one hundred feet. Staff has since lowered that to a maximum of sixty feet for residential districts unless the applicant can demonstrate through a test that there would be a substantial benefit to increase the height to one hundred feet. There are also protections for small tower-mounted turbines to be reviewed by the Planning Commission as a Special Land Use.
Chair Pehrson confirmed that there would be a public hearing if a resident wanted to install a wind turbine. He is aware that there have been situations where residents erect something in their yard (such as a large satellite dish, flagpole, etc.) because of disagreements with a neighbor. After an examination of the Michigan Wind Resource map, it is clear that Novi is not a prime wind environment, but it would still be prudent to have an ordinance in place for wind turbines for the City and the residents. It would save the City problems in the future. If this ordinance goes forward and gets approved by City Council, it then becomes part of the City Code. There is a need for specific regulations on subjects like this.
Member Lynch stated that if the purpose is to have an ordinance in place, he thinks it is written properly. Member Lynch wants to make sure that by allowing things that have little value, if any, in the City of Novi, that we don’t cause other problems. Member Lynch does not agree with wind turbines in the City of Novi in residential areas, but will support putting an ordinance in place.
Member Cassis expressed reservations previously, and now agrees with his colleague completely. Member Cassis did not think it was lawful to erect a wind turbine without an ordinance.
Attorney Schultz stated that right now, the ordinance does not address wind turbines. The position of the attorney’s office would be that it is not a permitted use, as the ordinance does not allow it. If someone wanted to install a turbine right now, they would probably go through the Zoning Board of Appeals and argue that this is a land use that we need to be providing for. There are many communities that do not have an ordinance. This is a policy decision and there is nothing that says a wind turbine has to be permitted in one place and not another. The Planning Commission is making recommendations on what the legislation should be. This is the staff’s contribution for discussion by the Planning Commission, to recommend if this use is appropriate and where it is appropriate.
Member Cassis stated that anyone erecting anything like that right now would be violating the law. Member Cassis has great reservations in having wind turbines in our residential communities. He does not think they are needed or practical in Novi. Allowing all kinds of objects in your backyard, and especially as monumental an object as this, means a neighbor could easily see another person’s turbine.
Member Baratta agrees with his colleagues. From the standpoint of being in a residential district, Member Baratta does not think that is appropriate. From what he has heard today, the height and other limitations will make it uneconomical. There are aesthetic issues, placement of mechanical equipment and potential lack of maintenance. Member Baratta foresees a problem if something is not properly maintained, becomes a hazard and is dangerous. The sound issue is also a concern. Member Baratta indicated that he doesn’t have a particular issue if a turbine is in a light industrial or general industrial district, but he does have a problem in a residential area.
Member Greco agrees with his fellow Commissioner’s concerns. The presentation of the materials was great and the articles were great, however the issue for the Planning Commission to examine is why we are recommending this ordinance and for what purpose. Is it to regulate potential turbines coming into the community, or is it to promote the idea of wind turbines as something that is positively green? The other communities with ordinances in place seem to think this is a good idea; the articles are very positive and it doesn’t seem that the purpose of the ordinance is prohibitive. Member Greco wondered if the City is opening itself up to a proliferation of wind turbines by having an ordinance that sounds like we’re promoting turbines, rather than not. Member Greco asked Mr. Schultz if, clearly at least from the Commissioners that have spoken so far, the Commission’s primary concern is whether regulating turbines in residential areas or prohibiting turbines in residential areas creates problems. Is it more beneficial for the City to have an ordinance like this or have an absence of an ordinance?
Attorney Schultz said that is a fair question. Do you adopt the ordinance and prohibit this use in residential areas or do you just not adopt an ordinance at all? Mr. Schultz asked if essentially, this was the question.
Member Greco confirmed that is the concern.
Attorney Schultz said that the initial question is, what are you trying to do with the ordinance? You may be trying to do one thing in some districts and just want to leave the residential districts alone. In which case, the question answers itself. You can do it either way. There is nothing that says it has to be permitted in every district, and there is nothing that makes the ordinance more dangerous if you permit it in some districts, but not in residential districts. If you do not have any ordinance, then you expose yourself to someone arguing under the State Zoning Enabling Act that says we cannot prohibit land uses. Mr. Schultz is not prepared to say that a turbine is a land use. That argument generally applies to uses like mobile home parks, as an example, but there is nothing to say that someone will not make the argument. There is nothing wrong with not having an ordinance and dealing with it on a variance basis in a residential district, but on the other hand, you may have policy reasons to want turbines somewhere else.
Member Greco stated that based upon what he had heard so far and what he had read in the materials, the Commission is not ready to make a recommendation. The question is whether we want to be positive and in step with what is going on in all of Michigan and have something in place if these things are coming. The Commission may not want turbines in residential areas, but it may make sense to have them in certain other places. Whether or not we pass this ordinance, the City may have battles in the future because everyone is talking about wind turbines and reading articles and regardless of the cost, people are thinking they would like to have one of these on the roof or in the backyard. People may think this is a good idea. Member Greco stated, with all the questions that have been raised, he is not ready to make a recommendation.
Member Gutman said that the one thing that’s kind of an undercurrent and is unspoken and I think we all agree on is that everyone here is in favor of renewable energy sources and we’re not saying no to that tonight. What we are saying is that we would like to study the proposed ordinance further and understand it better. We all believe in the importance of renewable energy sources, but as far as the ordinance goes, we have our concerns. Specifically, turbines in residential areas sound like they are a major concern for everyone on the Commission.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Cassis:
To send the proposed Wind Turbine ordinance back to the Implementation Committee for further review noting the Planning Commission’s concerns and to see if there are modifications that should be made.
Member Meyer stated that based on the Michigan Wind Resource Map that they had been provided with, Novi falls in the poor wind power class and that certainly should be a factor. The other piece is in light of what our attorney indicated, it would seem that an ordinance would provide some guidelines if someone, like Member Greco said, decides as either part of a green initiative and / or a resident would just like to have a turbine in his or her backyard. At least the Commission would have looked at the issue and would not be caught trying to address the issue with no protection of the law. The law is supposed to be for the common good and Member Meyer thinks it would be very important for the Implementation Committee to consider better wording of the proposed ordinance prior presenting it to the City Council.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON MOTION TO SEND TEXT AMENDMENT 18.237 BACK TO THE IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE MADE BY MEMBER GUTMAN AND SECONDED BY MEMBER CASSIS:
In the matter of Text Amendment 18.237, motion to send the proposed Wind Turbine ordinance back to the Implementation Committee for further review noting the Planning Commission’s concerns to see if there are modifications that should be made. Motion carried 9-0.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. APPROVAL OF THE JUNE 24, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Baratta.
VOICE VOTE ON JUNE 24, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER GUTMAN AND SECONDED BY MEMBER BARATTA:
A motion to approve the June 24, 2009 Planning Commission minutes. Motion carried 9-0.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
There were no Matters for Discussion.
There were no Supplemental Issues.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Greco,
Motion to adjourn
The meeting ended at 7:36 PM.
THU 07/16/09 MASTER PLAN & ZONING MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 07/20/09 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 07/29/09 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
THU 08/06/09 MASTER PLAN & ZONING MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 08/10/09 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 08/11/09 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:00 PM
WED 08/12/09 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 08/24/09 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 08/26/09 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
Transcribed on August 7, 2009 by
Juanita Freeman, Account Clerk
Date Approved: August 12, 2009 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant