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Regular Meeting
Wednesday, August 12, 2009  |  7 PM
Council Chambers | Novi Civic Center |45175 W. Ten Mile
(248) 347-0475


The meeting was called to order at or about 7:00PM.


Present: Members David Baratta, David Greco, Andy Gutman, Brian Larson, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Leland Prince

Absent: Member Victor Cassis (excused)

Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director Community Development; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Jana Pritchard, Planner; Kristin Kolb, City Attorney; Doug Necci, Facade Consultant


Member Lynch led the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.


Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Baratta.


A motion to approve the August 12, 2009 Planning Commission Agenda. Motion carried 8-0.


Mr. John Kuenzel came forward and clarified that there will be an opportunity to speak regarding Text Amendment 18.238. Chair Pehrson advised Mr. Kuenzel he could speak at the time of the public hearing for that matter.


Secretary Greco indicated that there were two letters. The first letter was from John Kuenzel, 23819 Heartwood, Novi, with numerous comments and questions regarding the Landings property. The second letter was from Mr. Cassis, Planning Commissioner and is addressed to his fellow Commissioners regarding the Public Hearing for Ordinance Amendment 18.238, due to his absence from the meeting.


There were no Committee Reports.


Deputy Director McBeth stated that Planning staff and the City’s environmental consultant have been working diligently on an update to the Wetlands and Watercourse map and also looking at our Wetland Ordinance to determine if any revisions are needed. Staff will be convening a meeting of the Environmental Committee in the next few weeks to go over the map and ordinance prior to the review by the full Planning Commission for a Public Hearing and recommendation to City Council.



Consideration of the request of G. Fisher Construction Company for a one-year Preliminary Site Plan extension. The subject property is located in Section 16, south of Twelve Mile between West Park Drive and Beck Road, in the OST, Planned Office Service Technology District. The subject property is approximately 3.67 acres and the applicant is proposing to construct a 25,521 square foot medical office building.

Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Greco:

voice vote on consent agenda approval motion made by Member Gutman and seconded by Member GRECO:

A motion to approve the August 12, 2009 Consent Agenda. Motion carried 8-0.



Public Hearing 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, in order to clarify standards and parking requirements for fast food restaurants in the B-3, General Business District.

Planner Kapelanski stated that the Text Amendment concerns off-street parking requirements for fast food restaurants, and also addresses fast food drive-thru restaurant uses in the B-3 District. Staff is suggesting modifications to Section 2505, which are the off-street parking requirements, to clarify the parking requirements for all types of fast food restaurants. The Ordinance currently lists separate parking requirements for fast food restaurants and drive-thru restaurants which leads to some confusion as to which applies. Staff is suggesting combining these two uses for parking purposes in order to have one single standard for all fast food restaurants along with some minor modifications to bring the parking standard more in line with other ordinances.

The Amendment also proposes including drive-thru fast food restaurants as a Special Land Use in the B-3 District. As indicated by the chart that is included in the Commission’s packets, drive-thru restaurants are currently only permitted in the RC District when a PD-2 Option is utilized, or in the FS, Freeway Service District. In researching area ordinances, staff noted that most permit drive-thru fast food restaurants in their more intense commercial districts. Therefore, the amendment has been included if the Planning Commission and City Council wish to permit that use in the B-3 District, subject to the standards indicated.

There has been one provision added to the Amendment since it was set for a Public Hearing at the previous Planning Commission meeting. The Amendment now requires fast food drive-thru lanes to be located a minimum of 150 feet from any adjacent residential zoning. The displayed map illustrates the locations of the five existing fast food restaurants and fast food drive-thru restaurants currently in the city.

Chair Pehrson opened the floor for public comment:

  • Mr. John Kuenzel, resident at 23819 Heartwood in Novi, said he represents the Echo Valley Board of Directors which represents 105 families that reside in the Echo Valley Subdivision.

Mr. Kuenzel said he heard Commissioner Cassis address the issue of the proposed Text Amendment at the recent Master Plan and Zoning Committee meeting. Mr. Kuenzel stated that at his quarterly Echo Valley Civic Association Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2009, the board voted in opposition to the following sections of the proposed amendments:

  • 9. B. Such uses shall not be permitted on a parcel less than 60 feet from any residential zoning district.
  • 9. C. All drive-thru lanes shall be located at least 150 feet from any residential zoning district.
  • 9. F. A 6-foot high obscuring wall shall be provided when abutting or adjacent districts are zoned for OS-1, OS-2, OSC, NCC, B-1, B-2 or B-3 Districts and so forth.

Mr. Kuenzel stated that the Agenda item makes the issues appear to be about parking. In the above sections, a McDonald’s or a Burger King would be allowed next door to a citizen’s residence. Furthermore, Section 9. F is worded to require a 6-foot privacy wall separating the fast food restaurant from office and business zoning, but not residential zoning.

Mr. Kuenzel stated that if the Planning Commission and City Council adopt such measures, they would be establishing these rights for fast food restaurants anywhere in any B-3 District currently established or which might be established in the future. In doing so, they would be taking away the rights of current residential property owners to the peaceable possession of their property. Mr. Kuenzel indicated that the agenda item was confusing as to its intent; however, if you look at the Public Hearing notice that was in the Novi News on July 23, 2009, it is even more confusing as the intent of this hearing. And perhaps that is because, the decision to hold this hearing occurred after July 23rd according to the memorandum supplied by staff on the website.

Mr. Kuenzel indicated this hearing on July 29, 2009 seems improper or perhaps an illegal way of operating for a legally constituted body. You publish a hearing notice and then make the decision afterwards that you’re going to have the public hearing. If you change your mind, the hearing does not occur, and people have already received notice to come to the public hearing. Mr. Kuenzel heard Mr. Cassis’s statements to his fellow commissioners at the previous meeting regarding this proposal and if the Planning Commission is going to support this, their reasons for supporting it should be clearly stated. When discussing this issue in our group, we could find little that would support allowing fast food restaurants next to residential areas.

No one else wished to speak, so Chair Pehrson closed the Public Hearing.

Member Greco questioned the reason for adding this type of fast food restaurant in a B-3 District and wondered it if was because it would be consistent with ordinances in other neighboring areas.

Planner Kapelanski answered that he was correct. Staff investigated the parking standards in other area ordinances for the purposes of clarifying Novi’s standards, and also found that most of the other area ordinances permit drive-thru fast food restaurants in their most intense commercial districts.

Member Greco stated that Member Cassis’s and Mr. Kuenzel’s concerns are essentially the same, with regard to the adding of the B-3 District as a permissible area for these types of restaurants, and questioned if we would run into more problems with respect to coming close to residential.

Planner Kapelanski answered that in the Planning Commission packets, a map highlights properties in orange, where, under this ordinance modification, fast food, drive-thru restaurants would be permitted as a Special Land Use. The properties shown in red are too close to residential to permit that use. The proposed ordinance does not permit drive-thru fast food uses adjacent to residential. If someone proposes a fast food drive-through use on a B-3 parcel, that B-3 parcel cannot be adjacent to residential and must be at least 60 feet away from any residential use or zoning, with a minimum of one parcel between the B-3 parcel and the residential parcel.

Member Greco stated that with respect to the other changes that were made, his understanding from reviewing the amendment is essentially consolidating the definitions to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.

Planner Kapelanski answered that he was correct and also stated that we’ve had some conflicts where there has been a question of how we classify something. Do we classify it as a fast food restaurant or do we classify it as a drive-thru restaurant for parking purposes. We want to make it clear to us as well as the applicants what standard will be used to determine parking requirements and to take out that point of conflict.

Member Meyer asked if he was correct in understanding that it was just the orange area on the map that was being looked at for approval.

Planner Kapelanski answered that he was correct and if the amendment were approved as suggested, this would be where the drive-thru fast food restaurants would be permitted. The parcels shown are currently zoned B-3 and meet the standards set forth in the proposed ordinance.

Member Meyer asked about parking and referred to Section 2505.14.C.7.b where it says one parking space is required for every two employees, plus one for every two customers allowed under maximum capacity. Member Meyer asked who determines the maximum capacity and is it based on the square footage of the restaurant.

Planner Kapelanski stated that we defer to the Building Division to determine maximum capacity under the building codes, and it is based on the occupancy standards of the Building Code.

Member Meyer said he wanted to be clear on how they came up with one parking space for every two customers and was there something in a previous ordinance.

Planner Kapelanski answered that this was previously in and already in our ordinance. Planner Kapelanski stated that we currently have the option of one parking space for each 60 square feet of gross floor area, or the one parking space for every two employees, plus one for every two under maximum capacity. Staff is proposing to eliminate the 60 square feet standard, but keep the standard for drive-thru restaurants: one space for each employee, plus one for every two persons. So, the drive-thru standard essentially is staying the same; we are only proposing to alter the fast food standard.

Member Meyer confirmed with Ms. Kapelanski that staff is trying to bring both standards together. Member Meyer wondered why this is being reviewed at this time.

Planner Kapelanski answered that it was because we’ve had a few fast food restaurants come in for consideration this past year. There has been confusion over which parking standard would be utilized and whether our ordinances are in line with other communities.

Member Meyer thanked Planner Kapelanski for clarifying why it was before them tonight and the purpose of it.

Member Lynch questioned allowing fast food restaurants on Wixom Road and Grand River Avenue, as well as Beck Road and Grand River Avenue, where there are already a lot of them located.

Chair Pehrson asked that the map be displayed and described again.

Ms. Kapelanski stated that there might be some confusion with the colors on the map. The area displayed near Walled Lake is shown in red. That area would not permit fast food drive-thru restaurants because it is adjacent to residential zoning. Wherever there is the red on the map or we have a B-3 parcel adjacent to residential zoning, fast food drive-thru restaurants would not be permitted.

Planner Kapelanski showed a cluster of parcels where fast food drive through restaurants would potentially be allowed: Wixom and Grand River, Meadowbrook and Ten Mile, and certain parcels on the north side of Grand River. The south side of Grand River would not allow this use because the B-3 zoning is within 60 feet of residential zoning. Also, near Grand River and Haggerty a few parcels would allow this use. Planner Kapelanski confirmed for the Commission that all of the parcels identified are zoned B-3.

Member Lynch said that he was not comfortable with fast food restaurants in general. They are not in character with the city. There are plenty fast food restaurants in Novi and Wixom and he expects that South Lyon will be putting some in on Ten Mile Road. Member Lynch indicated that if a favorable vote on this text amendment is going to allow additional fast food restaurants, he will be voting no. Although, there are other parts Member Lynch agrees with, like consolidating the parking standards and making it easier to understand.

Chair Pehrson asked if the B-3 zoning displayed on the map was a new zoning, or was it consistent with what we’ve had. Chair Pehrson questioned if someone were to come forward with a request for a Special Land Use permit for a fast food drive through restaurant, could they now go into B-3.

Planner Kapelanski answered no, the ordinance does not clearly state that. The ordinance does allow fast food drive-through restaurants in the Freeway Service District, which consists of a total of 5 parcels at Haggerty and Eight Mile Road. There is a Taco Bell and McDonald’s located there now. Fast food drive-through restaurants are also allowed in the RC District utilizing the PD-2 Option, which consists of about half of the parcels around Twelve Oaks Mall.

Chair Pehrson clarified that the map that is shown on the screen is demonstrating where fast food restaurants would be permitted if the Text Amendment passes as proposed. Chair Pehrson noted that those areas highlighted match where some of the fast food drive through restaurants are currently located, such as McDonalds and Taco Bell. The City of Wixom has its share of fast food along the Grand River corridor near Wixom Road.

Chair Pehrson asked if the proposed amendment along with the proposed regulation limiting fast food drive-thru within 60 feet of residential match up with what other communities have done or have suggested.

Planner Kapelanski answered that is correct.

Chair Pehrson asked what the difference is between Section 1502.9.b and Section 1502.9.c, where the amendment states that access points shall be located at least 60 feet from the intersection of any two streets. Chair Pehrson asked if it was just that the restaurant had to be 60 feet from residential intersections or all intersections and would all drive lanes need to be located at least 150 feet from residential.

Planner Kapelanski stated that subsection b is saying that if someone is proposing a drive-thru use on a B-3 parcel, there cannot be residential adjacent to it. A drive-through fast food restaurant is would not be permitted adjacent to residential. Any residentially zoned parcel must be at least 60 feet away from the edge of the drive-thru parcel. In short, a minimum 60 foot wide parcel would be needed between the restaurant and the residential district.

And then subsection c was added, to ensure that when we have a fast food restaurant come in, the drive-thru lane does not wrap around the entire restaurant and adversely affect the residential property. A drive-thru lane is usually around two sides of a fast food restaurant and we wanted to prohibit the drive-thru lane from being closer than 150 feet to any residential parcel.

Chair Pehrson asked about the obscuring wall that is listed for the various districts and if staff is making the assumption that the residential was not there because of the 60 foot space required.

Planner Kapelanski answered that is correct, because the restaurant would not be adjacent to the parcel in question, and because there is that 60 foot gap.

Chair Pehrson asked what is the closest instance between a B-3 parcel and a residential district.

Planner Kapelanski answered that the closest one would be along Grand River. Viewing the map provided, it shows orange on the north side of Grand River and red on the south side. That would be the closest distance judging from the parcels that staff highlighted.

Chair Pehrson asked if it was more than 60 feet and Planner Kapelanski answered that was correct.

Chair Pehrson stated that while we would be adding permitted uses in B-3, we are not making any accommodations for these uses to be adjacent to residential and are putting in safeguards which would require those minimum distances.

Deputy Director McBeth stated that another safeguard is that we are proposing fast food drive through uses as a Special Land Use in the B-3 district and that is a discretionary decision on the part of the Planning Commission.

Chair Pehrson asked Ms. McBeth relative to Mr. Kuenzel’s comments about the Novi News and the timing of that, and if she could explain it.

Ms. McBeth stated that the Planning Commission has taken on the practice in the last several years of reviewing the text amendments prior to the actual public hearing. We bring the text amendments forward typically for the Planning Commission to review before the public hearing and if there are no comments, our staff will put the public hearing notice in the paper. There have been a couple of instances where we have put the notice in the paper in advance and for some reason, the public hearing was not ready. In that case, at the beginning of the meeting, we make an announcement that the public hearing will not be held that evening. A new notice will go out when the matter is set.

Chair Pehrson asked whether our process is still common and still in line with what we typically do and confirmed that we haven’t stepped outside or deviated from usual practice.

Ms. McBeth answered that is correct.

City Attorney Kristin Kolb added that under the Zoning and Enabling Act, there is no requirement for the Planning Commission to take formal action to set a Public Hearing. Ms. Kolb stated that the only requirement is that a Public Notice goes out 15 days before the date of the hearing. The actions are in compliance with the law and past practices. Ms. Kolb stated, if as Ms. McBeth said, for some reason the Planning Commission opted not to hold the Public Hearing on that night as advertised, the city runs the risk of losing the expense of already having published the notice, but it certainly complies with the state law.

Chair Pehrson asked Planner Kapelanski if the prescribed distance from residential zoning were to be greater than 60 feet, if it were 150 feet for example, does that further preclude the number of B-3 instances where a fast food drive-thru could be utilized.

Planner Kapelanski said that she didn’t believe that any B-3 properties that are currently highlighted in orange would change to red. Planner Kapelanski believes they are all greater than 150 feet away. If the Planning Commission should want to change the 60 foot distance to 150 feet, they could certainly suggest that as part of their motion to City Council.

Member Greco stated that he agreed with the changes to consolidate the definitions so an applicant who is proposing a fast-food drive-thru restaurant is clear on what the parking requirements are. The issue for me, do we want to create an additional district where fast-food restaurants can come in? Member Greco felt the buffering and the actual locations where they would come in are fine, but, do we really need more fast food restaurants. Member Greco asked that if a fast food restaurant is built at Wixom and Grand River Avenue, are we going to infringe on anyone or ruin a neighborhood. Since he is not aware of any requests at this time, he does have a problem with expanding the uses permitted in a district to allow fast food restaurants.

Member Greco also stated that he knows we also have drive-thru issues with banks and pharmacies, and wondered if we need another permitted use in this district that uses drive-throughs. Member Greco stated he did not have a problem with the Ordinance as it is written, other than the fact that it creates another permitted use in the B-3 district that may not be necessary for us at this time. With regard to consolidating and making the definitions clear, Member Greco is in favor of that. But with the way it is written, Member Greco indicated that he will have to vote no.

Member Gutman stated that he was not ready to make a motion, but is questioning the reason behind this text amendment update. Member Gutman wondered if a developer or property owner requested this amendment, or is the City simply trying to update and improve on what we already have.

Planner Kapelanski explained that we are trying to tie up loose ends in the Ordinance as well as improve on what we have and to fix any inconsistencies that we see in the ordinance.

Member Gutman said that from what he is hearing, the modifications are to improve the language already in there. However, he is still uncomfortable with certain aspects that have been included.

Member Gutman asked Ms. McBeth if she could help and maybe send this to one of our committees to go over some of the issues and provide some clarification to the Commission. Then when it comes back, it might meet the intention of what was brought before us tonight.

Ms. McBeth stated that if the Planning Commission chooses, we will forward this to the Implementation Committee for further study. Ms. McBeth stated that she thought what we’re hearing is that the Planning Commission is not comfortable with adding the drive-thru fast-food restaurants to the B-3 District, even as a Special Land Use, or with the additional provisions put in the Ordinance. Ms. McBeth stated that the Commission could make a recommendation tonight on a portion of the ordinance, such as the parking standards, for example, and indicate that there is not support the other section that adds drive-thru restaurants as a Special Land Use in the B-3 District. We could then forward that recommendation on to City Council. Otherwise we can send it to the Implementation Committee, and have further discussion at the Committee level.

Member Gutman said he is not ready to make a recommendation to City Council on any aspect of the request. If any Commissioner would like to forward a portion of the amendments to the City Council, he would step aside, but if he were to make a motion, it would be to send the ordinance amendment back to the Implementation Committee to review and provide further comments.

Member Lynch stated that he was reluctant to approve anything that permits more fast food drive-thru restaurants, but he would be in favor of consolidating the parking standards. He could not support additional fast food restaurants at this time.

Member Greco stated that he appreciates the effort, but agrees with Member Gutman that the Commission should send this back to the Implementation Committee and wait for comments.

Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Larson:


In the matter of Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.238, a motion to send the proposed amendment back to the Implementation Committee for further study and consideration. Motion carried 8-0.



Consideration of the request of Novi Town Center Investors, LLC, for a recommendation to City Council for a Section 9 Façade Waiver. The subject property is located east of Novi Road, north of Grand River Avenue, in the TC, Town Center District. The applicant is proposing to redesign a portion of the façade on Building B at 43075 Crescent Blvd.

Planner Kapelanski stated that the applicant is proposing to redesign a portion of the façade on Building B in the Novi Town Center. The main tenant is Borders. The proposed façade update would include the installation of blue awnings, as shown in the rendering. The applicant previously proposed and received approval for similar façade updates at various buildings in the Town Center. The proposed façade for Building B is not in compliance with the Façade Ordinance and therefore would require a Section 9 Façade Waiver, specifically for the overage of cement plaster and the use of non-copper colored awnings.

Ms. Kapelanski stated that the City’s Façade Consultant recommends approval of the requested waiver, noting that the selected materials will harmonize with the existing center and improve the overall appearance of the building. Lastly, Section 1602.1 of the Ordinance requires all projects, five acres or larger in the Town Center District to receive approval of the City Council after a recommendation from the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission should consider the factors listed in Section 1602.9 when making its recommendation. Ms. Kapelanski stated that the applicant is present this evening as well as the City’s Façade Consultant.

Matthew Quinn appeared on behalf of Novi Town Center Investors along with Jim Clear, Manager of Novi Town Center and Matt Niles, architectural representative.

Mr. Quinn stated that the Planning Commission graciously recommended approval of the Section 9 Waivers on both of these issues last time the applicant appeared. The construction has started and the improvements look nice. The applicant would like to provide the same treatment on the Borders building. The applicant is requesting the Commission recommend approval of the same variance that previously requested for Buildings A1, C, C1, D, F, G, J and N for the awnings and the fascia at the top of the building. The improvements at the Borders building will then complete façade improvements on the entire northern section of the mall.

Chair Pehrson stated that the construction that has been started looks good.

Member Lynch said he would also support the request and that the improvements thus far look good.

Member Gutman stated that he liked the fact that our Façade Consultant was in support of the waiver.

Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Lynch:


In the matter of Novi Town Center Façade Upgrades Building B, SP 09-19, a motion to recommend approval to City Council for a Section 9 Facade Waiver for the use of non-copper colored metal awnings and the overage of cement plaster in the Town Center District subject to a finding that the proposed façade satisfies the conditions listed in Section 1602.9 for the use of materials other than brick and stone in the Town Center District for the reasons that the proposed façade is consistent with the overall Town Center development and will generally enhance the visual quality of the project, the color selections are carefully coordinated and will harmonize with both new and existing materials and because it is otherwise in compliance with Article 25 and Article 16 of the Zoning Ordinance and all other applicable provisions of the Ordinance. Motion carried 8-0.


Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Greco:

voice vote on JULY 15, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION minutes approvaL motion made by Member GUTMAN AND SECONDED by Member GRECO:

A motion to approve the July 15, 2009 Planning Commission minutes. Motion carried 8-0.


There were no Consent Agenda removals.



Deputy Director McBeth stated that included in Planning Commission’s packets is a copy of the brochure for the annual Michigan Association of Planning Conference. It is held every fall in a different location throughout Michigan and this year it is in Mt. Pleasant. It will be Wednesday through Saturday, September 30 – October 3, 2009. There is a small budget available for Planning Commission members who would like to attend.

One of the sessions we like to promote is the Planning Commissioner Citizen Planner training. Several of these sessions are planned at the annual conference. If anyone is interested, please let the department know, and we can make the arrangements.


There were no Supplemental Issues.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Larson:

Motion to adjourn.

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 PM.











Transcribed by Juanita Freeman

Account Clerk

September, 2009

Date Approved: 10/28/09 ___________________________________

Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant