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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.
Present: Members David Baratta, Victor Cassis, David Greco, Brian Larson, Michael Lynch (arrived at 7:15 PM.), Michael Meyer, Chairperson Mark Pehrson, Leland Prince (arrived at 7:19 PM.)
Absent: Member Andy Gutman (excused)
Also Present: Charles Boulard, Community Development Director; Mark Spencer, Planner; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Jana Pritchard, Planner; David Beschke, Landscape Architect; Lindon Ivezaj, City Engineer; Rod Arroyo, Traffic Consultant; John Freeland, ECT; Kristin Kolb, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Member Greco led the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Moved by Member Cassis, seconded by Member Baratta
VOICE VOTE ON THE AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION:
Motion to approve the September 30, 2009 Agenda. Motion carried 6-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Member Greco stated that they did have some correspondence related to the Public Hearing on the Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment. Chair Pehrson stated that correspondence would be discussed later at the time of the public hearing.
There were no Committee Reports.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR REPORT
Planner Spencer stated that City Council gave final approval to the Rezoning, P.R.O. Agreement and Concept Plan for Maple Manor at their Monday night meeting.
Fall for Novi was held this past Saturday and was a success. The Community Development Department’s Plan Review Center had four display tables seeking public input on the Master Plan for Land Use, Pathways and Sidewalks Prioritization Plan, Wetland Map and Ordinance Updates and Wind Turbine and Solar Panel Ordinances. Also present were representatives from the Community Development Department’s Building Division and Ordinance Division.
In addition, on the table for each Commissioner this evening is a Wall Street Journal article recommended by Member Cassis. The article discusses suburban communities and how they can accommodate maturing populations.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
1. BECK NORTH CORPORATE PARK UNIT 9, SP07-45
1. WRENCHERS GARAGE, SP09-25
Planner Spencer stated that this is for lease space in an existing 16,000 square foot building for a 5,000 square foot tenant space. The building is on the southeast corner of Grand River Avenue and Lanny’s Road. To the north and east of this property, there are a variety of manufacturing, open storage yards and warehousing uses. To the south and southwest there are general offices, and to the west is a general rental business.
This property is 1.4 acres and is zoned I-1, Light Industrial. I-2 zoning is to the north. I-1 zoning is to the west, south and east. The subject property and surrounding properties in all directions are designated for light industrial uses on the Master Plan. This property is a developed site and contains no wetlands, woodlands or habitat priority areas and is not located within a 100 year floodplain.
The applicant is proposing some minor building additions as well as a small canopy and equipment screening along with painting the building. The applicant also proposes to reconfigure, expand and pave the parking in the front and on the west side of the building. In addition to that the applicant is proposing to add landscaping to the site and construct interior improvements to the leased area.
The building and a portion of the parking lot that is not changing are considered to be in compliance with the zoning ordinance as an existing non-conforming structure.
The applicant is proposing to reconfigure and expand a portion of the front parking lot. This includes increasing the width of the landscaping strips between the parking lot and Grand River Avenue, by moving the parking closer to the building and paving the entire front and side parking areas. Planner Spencer indicated that parking is not permitted by ordinance in the setback in the I-1 District. Therefore, the applicant will seek a Zoning Board of Appeals variance to permit the small expansion of the parking area in front of the building. Planning staff supports this variance since it will improve the overall appearance of the site.
The zoning ordinance requires 14 parking spaces for the existing industrial and warehouse areas in the 10,000 square foot area already leased. The proposed 5,000 square feet for the automotive service facility is required to provide 54 parking spaces, thus bringing the total to 68 parking spaces required. The applicant is proposing to provide only 20 spaces and has indicated that the proposed Wrenchers concept is unlike a typical vehicle service establishment and may not require as much on-site parking as the ordinance standards require.
Planner Spencer indicated the existing gravel yard in the rear of the building could be configured and paved to accommodate an additional 45 parking spaces. The Planning Commission may want to discuss with the applicant the possibility of paving that rear area to come closer to meeting the parking space requirements. At this time, the applicant has indicated that he will pursue a Zoning Board of Appeals variance for the shortage of parking spaces.
Automotive service establishment uses are permitted uses in the I-1 District, subject to meeting a set of special requirements. The applicant meets the ordinance requirements, except for the following: (a). The ordinance requires a minimum of a two acre site. This site is only 1.4 acres. (b.) No vehicle parking is permitted in the front or required side yards. The existing parking already exists in both of those locations. (c.) No service doors may face a major thoroughfare. The existing overhead door already faces Grand River Avenue. The applicant has indicated that he will apply for variances from the ZBA for these items. Staff supports these variances since this is an existing building. The applicant has not submitted the Noise Impact Statement and is seeking Planning Commission approval to submit this with the final site plan.
In general, all of the reviewers recommend approval of this site plan, subject to some minor modifications.
A Planning Commission waiver of a required berm adjacent to Lanny’s Road is required. Approval of the waiver is recommended due to an existing swale at this location. A waiver of the street tree requirement along Lanny’s Road is required. Staff recommends the waiver due to a lack of space and the existing swale.
The city’s Traffic Consultant has asked for the west parking area to be reconfigured to provide access to the entrance doors along the west side of the building. The applicant has indicated that this will be done on the final site plan.
As façades are proposed to be modified, the zoning ordinance requires the façade that is being modified to comply with current standards. The applicant proposes to continue the use of CMU on this building with the existing façade and only make some minor modifications. The applicant has proposed some ribbed metal panels to screen the rooftop equipment but indicated those would be replaced with flat metal panels if that is preferred. The city’s Façade Consultant recommends approval of a Section 9 Waiver on this site plan since the design is consistent with the intent and purpose of the ordinance.
The applicant indicated that he will comply and provide all the minor items requested in the review letters.
As a Special Land Use, the Planning Commission should also consider the following factors relative to other feasible uses on the site: Whether the proposed use causes any detrimental impact on the existing thoroughfares; Whether the proposed use causes any detrimental impacts on the capacities of public services and facilities; Whether the proposed use is compatible with the natural features and characteristics of the land; Whether the proposed use is compatible with adjacent uses of land; Whether the proposed use is consistent with the goals, objectives and recommendations of the city’s Master Plan; and Whether the proposed use will promote the use of the land in a socially and economically desirable manner.
Stephen Hoffman, architect came forward and was attending the meeting with the applicant, Mr. Baker and two of the four other partners, along with the landlord, Tim Lavan of Tim’s Glass.
Mr. Hoffman stated that they were proposing a unique situation where these partners are all retired Chrysler executives who have a passion for building and re-building cars. This business requires no employees except themselves. They’re all hands-on, and they take a custom car and rebuild it to custom specifications per the owner of the vehicle. There is very little traffic. They have a goal to rejuvenate this building with the help of the landlord and bring the Grand River Corridor standards into play by increasing the landscaping, maintaining the façade and keeping the building in the same use that it has been for 30-35 years. Mr. Hoffman does not think they are changing the use, but improving the function and the vehicular traffic around it.
Chair Pehrson asked if anyone from the audience would like to speak. Seeing no one, the public hearing was closed and the matter was turned over to the Planning Commission for deliberation.
Member Cassis said he would like to disclose the fact that he owns a building right across the street from this building and whether there would be a conflict in hearing and discussing this matter. Member Cassis asked the city attorney if he should recuse himself.
Chair Pehrson asked if he had any financial gain to be made in this business.
Member Cassis answered no.
Chair Pehrson then said that he did not think Member Cassis needed to be recused. Kristin Kolb, City Attorney said that was the standard.
Member Greco asked the applicant to come forward. One of the issues is parking and the parking that is available versus what our ordinance requires. It has been mentioned that with the nature of this business the existing parking may be adequate and we do not need to have the parking that the ordinance requires. Member Greco asked if the applicant could address this.
Architect Hoffman came forward and explained that there are three tenants there now. One is the glass company which performs all of their business off-site and basically has an office and warehouse on-site. There is one employee in the office that works there. Similarly, the kitchen equipment supplier uses the building as a warehouse and an office with one person, himself, as the only employee, and then there are the four executives that are there now. There would be no public traffic associated with the Wrencher’s Garage. There would be someone dropping off a car momentarily and then leaving for a month until the car is done. Other then that, there is no need for any more parking, though the building can handle up to 45 more spaces in the back if a future tenant would need it. However, at this point, economically, we would like to improve the front of the building and leave the back as is, untouched.
Member Greco asked about storage of the vehicles and the number of vehicles, anticipating that business is going to be good and they want as much business as possible. Member Greco said he understands some of the cars will look like clunkers coming in, but they won’t when they come out.
Architect Hoffman stated that they would adhere to all the codes in terms of no dismantled cars and all the vehicles will have license plates on them; but the building can hold 12 different cars, even though they can only work on four at a time, given the four people. If business does get good, they would have to have a customer keep the car on their own premises until there was room to store it in the garage on-site.
Member Greco knows that one of the requirements of a Special Land Use permit in this case is a Noise Impact Statement. He asked the architect if he has discussed this requirement with the applicants and the owners because I know with classic and muscle cars it’s not just to be seen, it’s sometimes to be heard, and the property is near a residential area.
Architect Hoffman stated that the gentlemen have sophisticated training and have done a Noise Impact Statement that will be presented at Final Site Plan approval. Basically the truck driving down Grand River Avenue will be making more noise then they will be using inside.
Chair Pehrson asked that the record show that at 7:19 PM Member Prince arrived.
Member Lynch read through the paperwork and is encouraged at the business being proposed and noted the applicant mentioned testing. Member Lynch asked if there was a dynamometer or what type of testing will be done.
Roy Baker spoke and said that they do not maintain a dynamometer on site. However, through extended alliances with other professionals in the field, there will be a referral business. We will not do that on-site ourselves, but we will take it to businesses that we know and we trust, and have the service performed, and have the vehicle brought back to our shop.
Member Lynch asked, when they got into testing and doing racing engines, would dynamometer testing be outsourced.
The applicant answered that, given the space constraints, there are some things we just cannot do.
Member Lynch asked if Noise Impact Statement has been completed.
The applicant stated that they had performed testing and the Noise Impact Statement will be submitted with the final site plan.
Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Greco:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON SPECIAL LAND USE PERMIT APPROVAL FOR WRENCHER’S GARAGE, SP09-25 MOVED BY MEMBER MEYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GRECO:
Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Greco:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN APPROVAL FOR WRENCHERS GARAGE, SP09-25 MOVEDBY MEMBER MEYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GRECO:
Moved made by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Greco:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN APPROVAL FOR WRENCHERS GARAGE, SP09-25 MOVED BY MEMBER MEYER AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GRECO:
2. ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 09-125.22
Planner Kapelanski stated that she was here to introduce the proposed map and amendments. The Community Development Department in conjunction with the city’s Environmental Consultant, ECT recently completed an update to the Wetland and Watercourse Map and also to the Wetland Protection Ordinance, which is Chapter 12 of the City Code. In light of the recent woodland map and ordinance revisions and because the regulated wetland map has not been updated in a number of years, the city staff felt it appropriate to update the wetland map to ensure that all area’s that may contain regulated wetlands are identified. Both the amended map and the proposed ordinance changes were also presented to the Environmental Committee. The Committee reviewed both documents and is in support of the map amendments and the ordinance amendments. Lastly, a significantly amount of public involvement was also done as part of the update process and this included posting the amended map and comment form on the city’s website as well as posting materials and comment forms on a table located in the atrium of the Civic Center and soliciting input and presenting information at the recent Fall for Novi event. The Planning Commission is asked this evening to hold the public hearing and make a recommendation to the City Council. Dr. John Freeland of ECT and David Beschke, the city’s Landscape Architect are here this evening to go over the specifics of the map update itself as well as the ordinance changes.
Chair Pehrson stated that this is a public hearing and if anyone would like to speak, please step forward at this time.
Matthew Sosin, Northern Equities Group, stated that he sent a letter to the Planning Commission as this is an important issue for Northern Equities and that it affects a large portion of their land. As he stated in his letter, Mr. Sosin does not want to talk about the ordinance itself, as the changes are minimal. At the end of the day, the Haggerty Corridor Corporate Park has more wetlands today then it did when it was developed in the mid 1990s. Mr. Sosin stated that he appreciated the meeting with Ms. McBeth and Mr. Beschke and thinks that we will end up doing a walk-through of some of the items he pointed out in his letter. Mr. Sosin stated that he is sure some changes to the map will be made once we’ve all gone through it. It is an important issue and the map should be right and it does create expectations on the part of the public as to what is there, and what’s not there. Mr. Sosin’s concern is that the map is correct, so that in the future, there are no issues with what is there and with what is not there.
Member Greco stated that we have one filled out questionnaire that was submitted by Amber King who is a resident of Section 18. She has comments regarding the regulated wetland and watercourse map. Ms. King essentially wants to maintain as many wetlands as possible and not have the map reflect doing away with or destroying wetlands. Ms. King has asked that the city keep whatever wetlands we have left in her Section in the city and does not want another subdivision.
Correspondence was received from Duane Bennett, President of D. Bennett Enterprises, Inc. He is writing to the city on behalf of his client at Ten and Beck, LLC who are the owners of the property at 47430 Ten Mile Road which is located at the northwest corner of Ten Mile Road and Beck Road. Mr. Bennett wanted to provide some comments regarding the proposed wetlands and watercourse map and indicated that the map was last revised in August 2003 and that it shows a small pocket at the southwest corner designated as open water. With the proposed map, it is regulated and relabeled as regulated wetlands and the letter indicates it is a natural topographic low spot and that the natural drainage conditions feed water into this low area creating a wet pocket. The development plans that they have for the property are to use that wet pocket as a retention basin. Mr. Bennett’s concern, on behalf of his client, is that if the area is designated as a regulated wetland, it will increase the review and approval process beyond what he and his client feel is necessary. Mr. Bennett requests Mr. Beschke, or the city contact himself or Mr. David Goldberg.
The next correspondence received via email from Northern Equities Group, from Mr. Matthew Sosin who addressed the public hearing. Mr. Sosin did address the Commission at the public hearing; however, Member Greco summarized his letter. Mr. Sosin represents properties along the Haggerty corridor and is concerned about the designation of wetlands in the area and indicates that the updated map may misrepresent the size of some existing wetlands. Mr. Sosin also indicated the map showed the presence of a wetland, where there are none. Mr. Sosin has been out to particular areas that are indicated on the map, to verify for himself, whether or not he believes it is an actual wetland. A map is attached to the letter, which is very helpful identifying nine locations and indicating Mr. Sosin’s concerns with the respect to the designation on the proposed wetland map. It appears that Mr. Sosin and the city are going to be going out to these particular areas to look at his concerns.
Chair Pehrson stated that they would close the public hearing at this point and turn it over to the Planning Commission for their consideration.
Member Cassis asked for clarification on the two issues mentioned as part of the public hearing.
Landscape Architect Beschke stated that he is aware of the two letters Member Cassis is referring to and that we did get a few questions about the map and ordinance update. The city advertised this very heavily and kept it very public, so that we could get all the necessary input. Part of our process now is to go back and look at the areas that have been questioned. We will go out to each of those sites and look at them to see if modifications are necessary. We have met with Duane Bennett. We also met with Blair Bowman regarding questions on two different properties. On one of the properties, Mr. Bowman is doing exactly what we like to see done, and that is to delineate the wetland, so we will know exactly where it is. If the map needs to be altered, we will do it at that time.
Member Cassis asked in lieu of what we are going to approve tonight, is there something legal here.
Landscape Architect Beschke stated that the lines may change only slightly at the scale of this map since we are talking about almost 32 square miles. When you zoom in on the computer, you can see a lot more. We can get very close, but it doesn’t actually delineate the wetland line itself and there is a disclaimer in the ordinance and on the map that represents the likelihood that there are probably wetlands in the vicinity of these lines. Every project that comes in to develop a site has to do a wetland delineation and show us exactly where those lines are. That’s the science that the design, planning, and engineering are based upon.
Member Cassis asked specifically about Ten Mile Road and Beck Road and the statements from the property owner about the standing water.
Landscape Architect Beschke stated that Ten Mile Road and Beck Road is the one of the areas that is being delineated. We will know more about that in the near future. From what we saw, there is the pocket puddle out there that is semi-wooded and then there is also another larger system off to the corner which will probably be where the applicant will send the detention water. The applicant will be performing some additional study next week.
Member Lynch stated that this was presented to the Environmental Committee and there were several questions. Member Lynch thinks Landscape Architect Beschke and Dr. Freeland of ECT indicated that the current wetland map has been around since 1984. This is more of an administrative type thing, and you really cannot do a complete delineation of the wetlands until you have your boots on the ground. The city needed to update the wetland map, due to verbiage from the 1980’s that had to be changed. Staff and consultants did the best they could, taking the information that they had and when someone comes and develops, they will do a detailed job of defining where the wetlands are. Another question that was brought up was if the wetland map takes away any existing buildable area, and the answer to that is no. My understanding is that this is more of an update, indicating the likelihood of a wetland area. But, as far as taking away buildable area, this map does not do that. This is a lot of tedious work and I appreciate what staff has done to get the map and the ordinance updated. I am sure staff will work with the applicants once a development is proposed and work through the normal process of identifying the wetland areas and regulated woodland areas. Overall, I think the Committee was happy with what has been done, and there is a disclaimer. I am satisfied and want to commend the group and Dr. Freeland for all the work done on this project.
Member Meyer wondered if Landscape Architect Beschke spoke to Mr. Sosin of Northern Equities.
Landscape Architect Beschke answered that he did speak to Mr. Sosin.
Member Meyer stated that in Mr. Sosin’s letter, it states this map creates public expectations and perceptions that are difficult to change once presented with a development plan which may have wetland issues. Furthermore, designation of wetlands impairs the value of the land even if it is incorrect. Member Meyer asked Landscape Architect Beschke if staff was able to address that.
Landscape Architect Beschke stated that the city has to make it clear to the public that the map is just a generalization. It doesn’t change what can or cannot be done on the property. Mr. Sosin’s issue was that if you show it on the map, then people were going to get the perception that it is wetlands. If staff and consultants go out on the site and there are areas that are truly uplands, they would not be regulated. There is a disclaimer on the map and in the ordinance that says it is really the in-field delineation that will stand.
Member Meyer stated, so in essence, it does not impair the value of Mr. Sosin’s land.
Landscape Architect Beschke said that it does not. However, we do want to show it as accurately as we can . If it means changing a few sites, that is fine. Adjustments were made to the woodlands map when it was updated.
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Larson:
In the matter of Text Amendment 09-125.22, a motion to recommend approval to City Council for an ordinance to amend Article 5, Wetlands and Watercourse Protection, to amend the City Code related to an update to the Wetland and Watercourse Protection Ordinance and revised Regulated Wetland and Watercourse Map.
City Attorney Kolb wanted to make a clarification on the motion that it is a recommendation for approval to the City Council.
Member Lynch answered correct.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON MOTION TO RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 09-125.22..
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1. NOVI TOWN CENTER BUILDING G DEMOLITION, SP09-22
Planner Kapelanski stated that the applicant is proposing to demolish a portion of Building G in the Novi Town Center. The demolished portion of the building would be replaced with a 34 space parking lot and adjacent landscaping. The applicant is also proposing modifications to the façade of Building G and changes to the interior layout. The Planning Commission should be advised that the interior layout of Building G is conceptual in nature and that it may change in the future based on the needs of perspective tenants.
The proposed façade for Building G is not in compliance with the Façade Ordinance, and therefore would require a Section 9 Façade Waiver, specifically for the use of non-copper colored standing seam metal awnings. The city’s façade consultant recommends approval of the requested waiver noting that the proposed design is consistent with other façade upgrades recently approved in the Town Center.
The applicant is also requesting two landscape waivers for the lack of foundation landscaping along the remainder of Building G and for lack of irrigation. The area show in green on the site plan would be mostly grass and there is a landscape plaza at the end of the parking lot, but other than that it would be grass. The staff would recommend that the Commission discuss these waivers with the applicant and determine if they should be granted.
The Planning, Engineering, and Traffic reviews all noted minor issues to be addressed at the time of stamping set submittal and recommended approval of the plan. The Fire Marshal did have some concerns with the plan submitted, mainly related to the proposed gate to screen the loading/service area. However, the applicant has submitted a supplemental plan which is included in your packet to address those issues and the Fire Marshal was satisfied with the changes shown on the supplemental plan and those will be included in the stamping sets.
Section 1602.1 of the Ordinance requires all projects five acres or larger to receive the 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.
Matthew Quinn, Attorney appeared on behalf of Novi Town Center Investors along with Jim Clear, Manager of Novi Town Center and representatives from Wah Yee as well as representatives from Giffells Webster. Mr. Quinn stated that the Section 9 Waivers are consistent with other façade upgrades recently approved in the Town Center.
Mr. Quinn stated that as far as the Landscape Waivers are concerned, the creation of the parking lot and landscape area is a temporary situation. The old Mervyns building is adjacent to that landscaped area and that building is not going to be there forever. Mr. Quinn could not comment at this time on more upcoming changes or when they were going to happen. Mr. Quinn indicated Town Center is not planning irrigation in the new landscape plaza or the new grass area, but the Novi Town Center will ensure it is maintained. There is very little irrigation in the entire Town Center area and everything is adequately maintained and is green and Town Center will use drought resistant plants. The applicant is asking for those two waivers also and this is in for a preliminary and final site plan approval.
Member Lynch asked how the grass was going to be kept green without any water.
Mr. Quinn stated that there is very little irrigation in the entire Town Center area. Everything is adequately maintained and green. Also, in some areas, they will use drought resistant plants.
Member Cassis stated that he had witnessed the beginning of the Novi Town Center and was concerned if any tenants were going to be eliminated or moved because of the demolition.
Mr. Quinn answered that there are no tenants that will be eliminated at this time, and that the Town Center was reconfiguring and going to open up a new bank area for new tenants to come into. These will be smaller spaces, instead of the one larger space that was there.
Member Cassis stated that this is a major change and it will be expensive in order to bring everything up to date and questioned if this was the right approach.
Mr. Quinn stated that each step the applicant is taking is in preparation for the next step. Also, the applicant will be bringing in for review in the next 45 days Building I, the Boyne Mountain Sports Building, and that is going to be totally redone. The applicant will be adding to it, and putting in new drives and totally renovating the facades and by doing so, updating the center and getting it back into competition with what is going in around the community and in the geographical area. This is a stepping stone for something else that the Commission will see in the near future.
Member Cassis said that he wished them well and hopes that this approach will bring the Town Center success.
Member Greco said he would like to second Member Cassis’s thoughts, and would be glad to see the improvements and wishes the Town Center success.
Member Baratta asked Mr. Quinn about the façade modification and is questioning the small incremental change to the shopping center and wondered when the Planning Commission would see the entire overall strategy. Member Baratta asked if they have an overall strategy of what the center will look like and what the eventual size will be.
Mr. Quinn answered that the applicant would like to go into the big picture plans, but cannot at this time. As a representative of the applicant, he could say that the applicant would be back eventually with something bigger in the future. The center will be the same size, and there will be a substantial portion of the center removed and reconstructed and that until tenants are confirmed, the exact size isn’t known.
Member Meyer stated that he agreed with his colleagues and that it will be exciting to see what is going to happen.
Planner Kapelanski stated that the project is being considered for preliminary approval. Final approval would be handled administratively by staff.
Moved by Member Greco, seconded by Member Lynch:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE NOVI TOWN CENTER BUILDING G DEMO, SP09-22, MOTION MADE BY MEMBER GRECO AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LYNCH:
2. NOVI FOOD CENTER, SP09-18
Planner Spencer explained that this area is a developed area of the city and there are no vacant parcels around it right now. There are no wildlife habitat priority areas or floodplain and none of those issues to deal with on this site. This project does propose an expansion of a non-conforming parking area at the north of the building. A map displayed on the screen shows the right-of-way in green. The right-of-way goes right to the front of the buildings. These buildings are in a platted subdivision and the boundary of the subdivision came right to this right-of-way. There are some questions about the ownership of this strip of right-of-way whether it was abandoned by the Road Commission for Oakland County, or if it belongs to the city, and these are issues that the city attorney and the applicant are going to work out following additional research. At this time, the city attorney recommends that as a condition of approval, an appropriate agreement between the city and applicant be put in place for this right-of-way.
Originally, the proposed improvements were only to the rear area of the buildings for the driveway connecting to the Main Street parking lot behind the fire station. At staff’s suggestion, the applicant was willing to consider improving the front parking area at the same time. In order to help improve that area, some islands and a narrower drive will be proposed where currently there is just a one big wide apron going into the parking area. The applicant is proposing adding some landscaping and an 8 foot safety path as provided in other areas along Grand River Avenue. Also, a direct driveway connection is proposed to Main Street to improve traffic circulation on the site and also dress it up considerably.
The site plan is in general compliance with the ordinance except for the requirement to meet the 20 foot setback for 3 additional parking spaces. Currently there is one parking spot in front of the building and landscaping, but no driveway connection to the west. Regardless of the right-of-way ownership, a parking setback variance is required. The balance of the parking is an existing non-conformity and is not changing in location. The applicant has indicated a willingness to go for a variance to the ZBA to permit this deficient setback. Staff supports this variance because this will greatly improve the traffic circulation in front of the building and improve the appearance in front of the building.
The applicant has proposed a 22 foot wide access aisle for the north parking lot and 24 feet is required. The applicant has agreed to adjust the plan to meet the 24 foot requirement. Projects in the Town Center District are also required to have pedestrian amenities within the development. The Novi Party Store, which the applicant owns and is to the east of the three buildings that are highlighted in your application packet, had some landscape amenities included in the approved site plan and the applicant has agreed to move them to some other places on the site. These included a bench, trash can and decorative lighting.
City staff and consultants all recommend approval of the preliminary site plan with some minor changes including the waiver of the 3 foot tall wall that is required to separate parking areas from the road right-of-way in the Town Center District. The city’s landscape architect supports this waiver since there really isn’t room for practical purposes to place that wall and not have it block visibility. The applicant was asked by the traffic consultant to make some minor site plan changes including adjusting the location of the driveway slightly to the west and the applicant has agreed to do that. These plans also require a same side and opposite side driveway spacing waiver which the applicant is requesting from the Planning Commission and that staff recommends. Our traffic consultant is also recommending that the applicant work with our city attorney’s office to provide cross access easements for future connectivity, so at such time the properties to the west decide to re-develop their parking facilities, the parking lots will be connected.
Chair Pehrson asked if the applicant would like to add anything.
Mr. Marvin Poota came forward and stated that his family owns the property and stated the purpose of this project is to improve the look of the site as well as the parking situation which is very tight right now. The applicant also hopes to do some façade changes in the future, if the economy turns around and generally improve the site and have it look like the rest of the area.
Chair Pehrson asked if there was any correspondence and there was none, so the Chair turned it over to the Planning Commission.
Member Cassis stated to Chair Pehrson, the Planning Commission and the city attorney that he did own a couple of those buildings at one time, and that he sold them to the petitioner. Member Cassis was concerned, yet he has no financial interest now and wanted to disclose these facts.
Chair Pehrson thanked Member Cassis and said he did not think they had to recuse him from this matter.
City Attorney Kolb agreed, since there was no direct financial gain.
Chair Pehrson then turned it over to the Planning Commission for discussion.
Member Meyer stated that he had one concern: he had heard that Grand River Avenue between Novi Road and Meadowbrook Road would be widened to five lanes at some point. Member Meyer questioned that if this happened, would that impact the parking added in this proposal.
Lindon Ivezaj, City Engineer stated that there have been plans from Road Commission for Oakland County to possibly widen that into a five-lane roadway, however, there are no plans for widening in the immediate future.
City Attorney Kolb stated that the attorney’s office has confirmed that the Road Commission did abandon that property. If the county were going to do a project like that; they would have to reacquire it. So, that would suggest that there are no immediate plans.
Member Meyer stated that he did drive that road often and it does need repair. Member Meyer wondered if the Road Commission might plan on repairing Grand River Avenue near what used to Country Epicure as well as widening it. The road looks attractive from Novi Road to Beck Road, but that maybe due to Rock Financial down the road. Someday, they may do the same between Meadowbrook Road and Novi Road and that could affect the parking that the applicant is talking about.
Chair Pehrson stated that we should talk to Rod Arroyo, Traffic Consultant.
Traffic Consultant Arroyo came forward and stated that there are four lanes on Grand River Avenue - two lanes going westbound, a center turn lane and the other lane going eastbound. The other problem is that those lanes are not 12 feet wide as the Road Commission’s standard provides, but are substantially narrower. If this road were to be rebuilt according to current standards, 12 foot lanes would be required, similar to the recent RCOC improvements on Novi Road just north of Grand River Avenue. They ended up not only expanding it, but picking up additional lane width, because those lanes were also narrow. So what that means is, typically, from the back of curb of Grand River Avenue to where the parking area starts, you’ve got roughly 20 feet right now on this plan and a lane is 12 feet. But, then again, there is the additional widening that they need to pickup. I think the answer to the question is if this were ever to be widened to a standard five lane roadway, the parking we see there in the current configuration would no longer exist, and would have to be reconfigured or eliminated or go to parallel parking. That would be a design question that would come up if the road was improved.
Planner Spencer stated that the Road Commission has a retained a 150 foot right-of-way through that stretch and 75 feet on each side of the center line.
Member Lynch said he was confused, due to the fact that our attorney said the area was abandoned, so that means the applicant can put the parking there. Then I just heard there is a 150 foot easement of which you only need 120 feet, so I do not understand what the issue is.
City Attorney Kolb stated that she wanted to clarify one thing. The Road Commission abandoned it, which does not mean it reverts to the property owner. It reverts to the municipality which is why Planner Spencer pointed out that there is a condition in the motion that there would need to be some kind of discussion between the city and the applicant to allow the applicant to make the changes to the parking in the front of his building.
Member Lynch said that then really the point of this discussion is whether the applicant was aware of all of this, and going to put all that parking in there and sometime in the future the Road Commission or municipality may do something. I just want to make sure the applicant is aware of this.
Mr. Marvin Poota, owner stated he was proposing this project and moving forward as if this easement was actually abandoned to the adjacent property owners and that was our understanding in 1996. That is how we proceeded and hoped to move forward and that the road was not going to be built like that. Obviously, if that is the case, why would we do this parking in the front. We could just proceed and just do the project as shown in the back, on the south side. It does not make sense for us to do the front, if the city is considering putting a road there.
Member Lynch stated that is what he was trying to get at and he is hearing this discussion and he wants to make sure everyone knows the risks. Member Lynch asked if he was stating this properly and was there a potential for road improvements.
City Attorney Kolb spoke and said that she did not think that the city had any plans to put a road there.
Member Lynch clarified that if there are no road improvements planned then this should not be a concern for the applicant.
Chair Pehrson stated that the point Member Lynch is bringing up that there is the potential for someone outside of the city to put in some kind of road improvement there that might impact this particular petitioner.
Member Lynch agreed with Chair Pehrson that he wanted the applicant to understand the situation with the road.
Chair Pehrson stated the applicant should weigh whether or not they want to move ahead knowing road improvements are a possibility.
Planner Spencer stated that the design that you’re seeing before you is an example of a sidewalk inside the right-of-way, which is the typical location for a pathway or sidewalk. With a 150 foot right-of-way there is room to accommodate a sidewalk and there would be room with a 120 foot typical five-lane road. There is some possibility that road improvements or widening will be done but, I would say in my opinion; the probability is low. It is something the applicant could further discuss with the Road Commission. The city has entertained the idea of developing this roadway in a different format for quite some time, so their engineer could entertain that. The applicant will be required to get a permit from the Road Commission for the driveway improvements and sidewalk improvements that will be done in the right-of-way. We feel that the Road Commission would be in favor of these improvements and that they would grant them a permit on this, however, we have not seen an approval from the Road Commission yet. It is something we require at the time of final site plan approval.
Member Lynch stated that the applicant is spending a lot of money here and that it was going to look great and that he was in favor of it. I just want to make sure the applicant is aware, however low the risk, that an entity outside of this Commission could come in and say we are going to widen the road and it may impact you.
Traffic Consultant Arroyo said that there was one more observation that may help this and looking at the current configuration and the fact that there are two lanes in the eastbound direction and one lane in the westbound direction. Basically what you see is that the roadway is currently not centered on the center of the right-of-way. What that means is that likely if there was to be a widening, most of it would be on the north side. It could potentially, but you won’t know until the final designs are in place and it is very likely and in other conditions where I have seen this before, the widening does typically take place on that opposite side and it then doesn’t have much of an impact on this property. I just thought I would share that additional observation because it is an unusual situation where you have four lanes and a center turn lane with two through lanes in one direction and one in the other. So, I think that is positive in terms of the impact on this property potentially.
Member Cassis said he would not comment on the widening of the road since he was involved in the abandonment situation. First of all when he bought 2 or 3 of those buildings, they were in sad shape and he did quite a bit of improvement on those and spent a lot of money. Also, what these people have done, they have put a huge amount of money into that area, especially when they built that liquor store and it has operated properly and they have done a great job.
Member Larson stated that his concern would be if that would be setting a precedent for the other landowners up and down Grand River Avenue to come forward and try to claim this abandoned property.
Planner Spencer stated that this was a unique abandonment case and we weren’t going to go into all the details of it, but this involved subdivisions that were platted back in the 1920’s originally, and abandoned in the 1940’s. Another subdivision was platted in 1949, and came up to the edge of this abandoned right-of-way. If it had encumbered all of Grand River Avenue in the plat originally, then the abandonment of the right-of-way could have been to the neighboring property owners. But, in this case, there were no neighboring property owners. When they abandoned the plat in 1941, they left about 4 lots in this whole subdivision. However, they did not abandon road right-of-ways in many places including where Paul Bunyon Drive was, Novi Road and Grand River Avenue. The abandonment, in our attorney’s opinion, was to the city and not to any adjoining property owners. Because of this, we may have to involve the remaining property owners that are in the plat with some kind of agreement. There are two other properties, the ones adjacent to either side of this that our attorney’s office has indicated that we would like to have involved with any kind of final settlement of this right-of-way. So it should not go beyond those properties.
Moved by Member Greco, seconded by Member Lynch:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN APPROVAL FOR NOVI FOOD CENTER, SP09-18 MOVED BY MEMBER GRECO AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LYNCH:
Moved by Member Greco, seconded by Member Lynch:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN APRPOVAL FOR NOVI FOOD CENTER, SP09-18 MOVED BY MEMBER GRECO AND SECONDED BY MEMBER LYNCH:
2. SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.238 REGARDING 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 restaurant uses in the B-3 Districts as well as stacking requirements for drive-through restaurant uses. Staff is suggesting modifications to Section 2505 to clarify the parking requirements for all types of fast-food restaurants. The Amendment also proposes including drive-through restaurants as a Special Land Use in the B-3 District and modifies the stacking space standards so that there would be one standard for all fast-food drive-throughs regardless if they have indoor seating. A public hearing regarding the proposed text amendment was held on August 12, 2009 and at that meeting, the Planning Commission expressed concerns about expanding the districts allowing drive-through restaurants and requested that the proposed amendment be sent back to the Implementation Committee for further study.
Following the Planning Commission meeting, Member Baratta sent via email his thoughts on the proposed ordinance and that email has been included in the packet. He also noted that it might be appropriate to address and clarify stacking space requirements as part of this amendment and staff agreed. Staff has proposed eliminating the provisions for stacking spaces for drive-through fast food only, similar to what we are doing with the off-street parking standards.
To address problems with the interpretation of the previously provided map, the overall map of the city has been altered to show B-3 properties that would permit drive-throughs in green and those that would not in red. That map is included in the packet as well and is shown on the overhead. Also included in your packet are blow-up versions of the map showing all areas with properties zoned B-3. The surrounding zoning of those properties has been included on the aforementioned maps as well as an indication of whether or not drive-throughs would be permitted.
This amendment was taken before the Implementation Committee on August 25, 2009. The committee reviewed the proposed amendment which included the revisions to the stacking space standards and carefully reviewed the proposed provisions regarding drive-throughs near residential zoning and the revised maps. The Committee proposed no additional revisions and forwarded the amendment to the Planning Commission. This evening you are asked to set a public hearing for the proposed amendment to be held on October 28, 2009.
Member Cassis stated he did send a letter addressed to the Commission expressing his concerns regarding the proposed amendments and stated he is now satisfied with the amendment and feels comfortable with the changes and thanked staff for their continued work.
Member Baratta complimented Ms. Kapelanski for adding the language with regard to the stacking lengths as it will help the ordinance and thought staff did a very good job.
Member Greco said before he made the motion he would like to comment on Member Cassis’s letter, the discussion at the previous Planning Commission meeting, Member Baratta’s email and the work between the Planning Commission, the Implementation Committee and the staff. Member Greco thinks this is another example on how we like to do things in this city and work together for the betterment of the community and try to come up with standards that everyone can live with and that accommodate the needs of the community.
Moved by Member Greco, seconded by Member Lynch:
VOICE VOTE TO SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.238 REGARDING FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS IN THE B-3, GENERAL BUSINESS DISTRICT.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. MASTER PLAN REVIEW OPEN HOUSE OCTOBER 14, 2009
Chair Pehrson stated that he had a memo from Ms. McBeth regarding the next Planning Commission meeting on October 14, 2009 indicated it will be cancelled. In lieu of that, there will be an open house for the Master Plan and Zoning Committee. This will be another event the public will be welcome to and we will be soliciting their input on the on-going Master Plan update.
Planner Spencer spoke and asked for volunteers to man tables. We will be asking primarily members of the Master Plan and Zoning Committee and the alternate member first. We will have four tables set up and some of our support staff welcoming people. Some of the items are in your packet materials as well as some supplemental materials approved by the committee to go along with that. Staff displayed the alternatives at the Fall for Novi event last weekend and handed out over 20 surveys. The survey is now posted on the city’s web page, along with updated material. The Master Plan and Zoning Committee is scheduled to meet again next Wednesday at 6:30 pm where items for the open-house will be finalized. The first 15 minutes of the program will be a presentation similar to what was done at the Vision Fair. Staff and Commission members will then go out to the tables to gather input from the public. Planner Spencer said he will be sending a final copy of the displays to all the members.
Member Cassis stated that there is an interesting article in the Planning and Zoning News in the September issue that is on Integration of Information Technology into Planning and Zoning. I think Planner. Spencer has been doing a lot of that and we have witnessed it in our Master Plan and Zoning committee. I just want to compliment Planner Spencer on this.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Baratta:
VOICE VOTE ON THE ADJOURNMENT MOTION:
The meeting ended at 8:39 PM.
TUE 10/13/09 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:00 PM
WED 10/14/09 MASTER PLAN REVIEW OPEN HOUSE 6:30 PM
MON 10/26/09 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 10/28/09 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 11/04/09 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 11/09/09 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 11/10/09 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:00 PM
WED 11/11/09 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
WED 11/18/09 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:00 PM
MON 11/23/09 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
THU/FRI 11/26 & 11/27 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
Transcribed by Juanita Freeman
Date Approved: 11/18/09
Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant