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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.
Present:Member Greco, Member Gutman (arrived at 7:03 PM.), Member Larson, Member Lynch, Member Meyer, Chair Pehrson, Member Prince
Absent: Member Baratta (excused), Member Cassis (excused)
Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director of Community Development; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Jana Pritchard, Planner; 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 Lynch, seconded by Member Larson
VOICE VOTE ON THE AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION:
Mr. Ray Kaczor of 45435 Andes Hills Ct. came forward and stated he is the President of the Andes Hills Condo Association. Mr. Kaczor indicated he wished to speak this evening regarding the Sri Venkateswara Temple being constructed on Taft Road and some lingering concerns he had regarding the project. He stated that his subdivision continues to object to the sizeable project which is being constructed on such a small piece of land.
He is surprised at and objects to the number of variances that have been granted for this project, specifically related to the wetlands, woodlands and parking and noted that a total of 15 different variances were granted. After checking with other communities in the area it seems the number of variances granted for this project is unheard of. He wonders why the Temple has been allowed to change the rules and regulations made by the City of Novi wonders how much pressure the city was under to allow these variance or what else the city received to grant the variances.
Mr. Kaczor noted the two buildings will total over 55,000 square feet and have over 3,000 member families in attendance according to the Temple’s website. With two or people per family he is worried that there will be more people on the site then can be reasonably accommodated. He stated he is concerned that there will not be adequate parking on the site and questioned why the City allowed this variance when other establishments in the city are denied variances for much less parking deficiencies.
Mr. Kaczor noted he is saddened by the reality that stopping this project now is impossible and the inconvenience it will cause is inevitable. He went on to note that despite that fact, there is one variance that is excessively disruptive to all the neighbors and he is hopeful the situation can be remedied before it is too late. Per ordinance standards, in this particular situation a 14 foot berm is required along the property line and the applicant received a variance to permit a 3 foot berm instead because of the lack of space on the Temple property. The site plan shows a 3 foot berm, a 10 foot treeline and a 22 foot light pole. He stated that this is completely unacceptable as the lights will then be in full view of the neighboring residences each night and the Andes Hills homes are only 100 feet away from the Temple property. He is concerned that religious ceremonies will carry late into the night or early morning. At Planning Commission meetings he attended he was told that the lights would be off by 11 PM and was under the impression that this requirement was included in the Code of Ordinances. He stated he has since found out that there is no standard in the ordinance limiting the amount of time lights can be on and feels that the Temple has not been entirely truthful in their previous claims and he is worried that they will ignore their previous promises to have the lights off by 11 PM.
Chair Pehrson directed Mr. Kaczor to conclude his comments as audience members are only permitted to speak for three minutes.
Mr. Kaczor replied that he was speaking for the 30 residents in his subdivision and not just for himself and indicated he had some pictures to show and would then end his remarks. Mr. Kaczor displayed pictures on the overhead and indicated the tree lines in the pictures he brought of the existing temples in Troy and Canton. He stated that there are thick tree lines at both of those locations and the lights are below the tree lines. Mr. Kaczor showed pictures of the existing site demonstrating that all the trees and bushes have been removed. He wonders why there is such inconsistency between the temples in Troy and Canton and the one in Novi. He would like to get this situation resolved before the construction gets further along and would like to know who to talk to remedy the problem. He would like to see the lights lowered and a wall of trees place on the 3 foot berms.
Deputy Director McBeth stated through the Chair that she has spoken with Mr. Kaczor several times regarding his concerns and the plans for the temple were ultimately approved. The Community Development Department did receive the required letter from the Temple indicating that the joint operation of both facilities would not occur. New landscaping is going to go in on the property. The variances were granted by the appropriate bodies of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. We talked with representatives from the Temple early on about the height of the lights, and they did lower them a few feet, but they are still within the ordinance standards of 25 feet, which is permitted in that district. The project is underway and I think it will just get better looking from here on out as the site continues to develop and in the site is landscaped per the approved plan.
Mr. Kaczor stated that this is the same answer he previously received and thinks that the answer can change. A variance was granted to allow a 3 foot berm instead of the required 14 foot berm and the Planning Commission should have required the lights to be below the tree line as a condition of granting the variance. He is concerned that although the Temple stated the lights will be off by 11 PM several times at the Planning Commission meetings, there is nothing in the ordinance that will force them to adhere to that statement.
Chair Pehrson told Mr. Kaczor that the aforementioned statement is part of the site plan approval, so if the Temple does not follow the 11 PM standard, any resident can come in to the city and report that the Temple is not adhering to the conditions of their site plan approval and the city will investigate the claim and enforce the requirements and/or levy the appropriate fines.
Mr. Kaczor asked Chair Pehrson if that was included in the approval.
Chair Pehrson answered that the stipulation is part of the approval.
Mr. Kaczor asked if there was a way to require the Temple to raise the height of the trees.
Chair Pehrson answered there was nothing else the city could do regarding the tree height as approvals have already been granted.
Chair Pehrson asked if anyone else from the audience wished to speak. Seeing none, Chair Pehrson closed the Audience Participation.
Chair Pehrson asked if there was any correspondence.
Member Greco stated there was related to the Public Hearing, and it could be addressed when we get to the Public Hearing.
There were no Committee Reports.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR REPORT
Deputy Director McBeth stated that she wanted to report some good news from the City Council meeting on Monday evening. The Mayor was presented with the Oak Land Award by Oakland County’s Planning Department. That award was given to communities that have made outstanding contributions in demonstrating successful efforts in the planning, promotion, design, development and support of green infrastructure in Oakland County. Novi was actually the first community to receive that award. We have talked about the Green Infrastructure Program that the County has undertaken over the last several years. The Green Infrastructure Program focuses on identifying an interconnected network of green spaces that conserve natural eco-systems’ values and functions, guide sustainable development and provide associated economic and quality of life benefits to communities. Staff also showed the Green Infrastructure Plan to the Master Plan and Zoning Committee at their last meeting. The Committee is considering adding that into the Master Plan for Land Use as an exhibit. The city will be receiving some documents from Oakland County, including the Oakland County Vision Plans of all the inter-connected green spaces. Staff will make sure the Planning Commission receives copies of those.
Chair Pehrson said he had to make one correction to Deputy Director Macbeth’s report. According to his copy of the Great Lakes IT Report, Deputy Director McBeth received the award on behalf of the City of Novi and although the Mayor may have received the award, it was first presented to Deputy Director McBeth.
Deputy Director McBeth stated that she did attend the meeting where it was first presented and convinced Oakland County to come to Novi and present it to the Mayor as everyone should share in the recognition.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
1. Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.238
Planner Kapelanski explained the Text Amendment before the Commission concerns off-street parking requirements for fast food restaurants and also addresses fast food restaurant uses in the B-3 District and 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 fast food 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 of whether they have indoor seating. You will recall that a public hearing regarding the proposed text amendment was held on August 12th. At that meeting, the Planning Commission requested that the amendment be sent back to the Implementation Committee for further study. As you can see on the provided map, B-3 properties that would permit drive-throughs are shown in green, and those that are not, are shown in red. The yellow represents all residentially zoned land in the city.
Also included in the packets are blow-up versions of the map showing all areas with properties zoned B-3. It also shows the surrounding zoning and indicating whether or not drive-throughs would be permitted at the aforementioned properties. This amendment was taken before the Implementation Committee on August 25th. The Committee reviewed the proposed amendment, which included the revisions to the stacking space standards, and carefully reviewed the proposed provisions regarding drive-throughs and residential zoning and the revised maps. The Committee had no additional revisions. The Planning Commission is asked this evening to forward a recommendation to the City Council for the proposed text amendment.
Chair Pehrson opened the public hearing for audience comment and noting that no one wished to speak, Chair Pehrson closed the public hearing and asked if there was any correspondence.
Member Greco read the correspondence into the record.
Chair Pehrson stated that there was no other Correspondence, so he will turn it over to the Planning Commission for their consideration.
Member Lynch stated that he remembers going through this in quite some detail and virtually all these concerns that we just heard, while valid, were discussed, debated, and addressed. Member Lynch is willing to support the proposed amendment.
Member Greco stated that in looking through the materials and following up on previous discussions of the Planning Commission, he will be able to support the amendment as well. Member Greco stated he understands that it is consistent with other neighboring communities to include fast food drive-throughs in the B-3 district. Member Greco stated that as a practical matter, we are talking about a very small portion of Novi, but wondered if there was any other reason other than that the use is allowed in nearby communities that we are considering it.
Planner Kapelanski stated the amendment would bring Novi in line with peer communities. Staff has not had any specific requests from developers for this type of amendment and instead simply noticed the standards of other communities in a review of their ordinances.
Member Gutman stated that he was at the heart of pushing the issue to the Implementation Committee and he felt the Committee did a good job of reviewing it and the Commission got some good insight from Member Baratta as well. Member Gutman indicated he is confident the amendment has not been rushed and has been thoroughly reviewed.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Prince:
In the matter of Text Amendment 18.238, a motion to recommend approval to the City Council.
Member Meyer stated that he also felt the Implementation Committee did a thorough job of looking at Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment 18.238 as well as discussing it with Planner Kapelanski and he supported the motion.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON A MOTION TO RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.238
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
1.SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR NOVEMBER 18, 2009 FOR SIGN ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 09-100.39 FOR LED MESSAGE BOARD TIMING
Planner Pritchard stated the proposed amendment pertains to changeable copy signs, or LED Message Boards, and it has been prepared by the City Attorney’s Office. In April 2008, the City Council determined that a one minute message rotation was appropriate for changeable copy signs. However, it has been suggested that the rotation frequency should occur once every 15 seconds rather than once per minute. The proposed text amendment that would accommodate this adjustment has been recommended by the staff, city attorney’s office, and the City Council’s Ordinance Review Committee. This evening, the Planning Commission is asked to set a public hearing for the meeting on November 18, 2009 in order to forward a recommendation to the City Council regarding this matter.
Member Lynch asked if it the proposed amendment would allow the electronic text on a sign to change every 15 seconds.
Deputy Director McBeth answered the amendment would allow a text change every 15 seconds and the current ordinance allows one change per minute.
Member Lynch asked City Attorney Kolb if 15 seconds is the right amount of time for text changes on electronic signs.
City Attorney Kolb stated that the amendment was prepared after a request from the city administration.
Chair Pehrson stated the specific request came from Sheryl Walsh.
Member Lynch stated 15 seconds seemed like a long time between message changes.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Lynch:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON MOTION TO SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR TEXT AMENDMENT 09-100.39.
2.SET A PUBLIC HEARING FOR NOVEMBER 18, 2009 FOR ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.239 RELATED TO SALES OF LIQUOR AT GAS STATIONS
Deputy Director McBeth stated that this item involves an important policy decision that the Planning Commission should consider carefully. It involves whether there should be any zoning ordinance standards that would regulate the sale of beer, wine and liquor at gas stations. Perhaps, rather then setting a Public Hearing tonight for a date three weeks from now, staff could gather some of the Commission’s preliminary thoughts on the topic as to whether the Commission thinks the city should set local standards that would regulate the sale of liquor at gas stations or whether the Commission would suggest it doesn’t need any further regulation.
Staff identified one gas station in the City of Novi that currently sells beer, wind and liquor, the Sunshine Market Station located at Thirteen Mile and Novi Road. This station received a license from the Liquor Control Commission to sell alcohol products. In the Commission’s packets this evening, staff did provide some language that was suggesting just the outright prohibition of sales of those packaged alcoholic beverages at gas stations. Staff would like the Commission’s thoughts on whether it’s appropriate to allow the sale of alcohol at gas stations similar to other kinds of stores that allow that or if there should be certain regulations that would allow the sale at certain gas stations with certain conditions. Staff could also prepare some additional information regarding the state standards, ordinances in other local communities and opinions from the Police Chief if the Commission would like.
Chair Pehrson stated that he was surprised that this wasn’t regulated by State Law.
Deputy Director McBeth stated that City Attorney Kolb could comment on this.
City Attorney Kolb stated that the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations is regulated by the LCC, The Liquor Control Commission. They have in place under State Law standards that would apply. There are very strict conditions, mainly related to the size of the building. In the past, it has typically only applied to larger stores like Meijer’s who have a few gas pumps out front. The standards require stores to have $250,000.00 worth of merchandise excluding alcohol or the fuel itself. So per the state standards, the license would really only be available for larger stores, of which there haven’t been very many. Because of this requirement you did not see liquor licenses or liquor, beer or wine being sold at gas stations in the past.
However, these types of sales are becoming an issue because of a combination of larger stores and gas stations being constructed, along with the Meijer’s-type stores getting gas stations and the limited staff at the Liquor Control Commission to monitor these sales. Now is the opportunity to step in at the city level and say, we want to regulate this even more through the use of zoning ordinance tools, as stated in the amendment before you tonight. This proposed ordinance is one that was prepared for another client community that had a policy that they did not want to allow the sale of alcohol at gas stations. So, the proposed ordinance is a complete prohibition. As Deputy Director McBeth stated, this is a policy decision for the city.
Deputy Director McBeth asked the Planning Commission what their thoughts were on how to handle this, whether they wanted an outright prohibition of such sales or if they would rather such sales be handled at the state level.
Chair Pehrson stated that he would like to see more data come back from the Planning Division relative to what other communities are doing, where, given the zoning, these super stores might be located and to have an understanding of where the stores would be relative to residences and things of that nature.
Member Lynch stated that it sounded like the Liquor Control Commission did not have the staff to monitor violations. Member Lynch also questioned if we were basically creating an ordinance that would allow us to do what the Liquor Control Commission is supposed to do and would we be burdening the city with additional work.
Deputy Director McBeth stated that she did not think the city would necessarily be burdened with it and the question essentially was would the city want to regulate this sort of sale at gas stations. Also, would the city want to apply any conditions or different standards, for example a proximity to residential districts, than the ones that are provided by the Liquor Control Commission.
Member Lynch stated that these were all good points, and he did understand that the Meijer, Sam’s Club and Costco are all huge businesses. Member Lynch was as surprised as Chair Pehrson that gas stations were never allowed to sell liquor, beer or wine.
City Attorney Kolb stated that in the past this was not an issue because the Liquor Control’s Commissions regulations previously prohibited such sales. Ten years ago, a statute was put in place that creates this 50,000 square feet or $250,000.00 worth of merchandise exception. It has been rarely used, however with the Sunshine Market in, and possibly more of these to come, it might be something the would want to consider regulating. City Attorney Schultz and Kolb identified about half-a-dozen gas stations in the area around us where such a standard might apply.
Member Lynch stated that you have to look at the intent and that his understanding was that you did not want people behind a motor vehicle going to a gas station and running in and picking up a six-pack and leaving. With the super stores, that is not going to happen.
Member Greco stated that he was also surprised by the amendment. He had not been to the Sunshine Market as of yet, but was going to go there and check it out. It seems awfully convenient, not to drink and drive, but Member Greco can also imagine going out to a party and stopping to get gas and instead of making 2 stops, you make only one. Member Greco stated that he would like more information and had no objection to the Public Hearing, but did have concerns. Member Greco then questioned if there was a problem with the Sunshine Market, or if this was something that has just come up.
Deputy Director McBeth stated that there was not a problem and that it was a nice market and gas station. It was a question that came up because we identified there is only one station currently selling alcohol, and it has been contrary to what we have seen in the past in Novi. Deputy Director McBeth stated that after talking with the city attorney’s office, we found that some of the other communities are considering regulations that would prohibit this kind of venture. However, this is a broad policy question for discussion.
Member Greco stated that he thinks he knows where we are heading with this along with Chair Pehrson. Member Greco asked for more data on this before we set this for a Public Hearing.
Chair Pehrson agreed with Member Greco and asked if anyone else on the Planning Commission had comments.
Member Meyer wanted to comment on item A, and felt that that alcohol is not a product that should be conveniently available to the motoring public where they purchase fuel for their vehicle, and would like more information before we have a Public Hearing.
Chair Pehrson asked Deputy Director McBeth if that was enough direction.
Deputy Director McBeth answered the Chair and stated that the staff would put more information together and bring this back to the Planning Commission as a whole.
3. APPROVAL OF THE AUGUST 12, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Gutman:
VOICE VOTE ON AUGUST 12, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER LYNCH AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
4. APPROVAL OF THE JULY 29, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Gutman:
VOICE VOTE ON JULY 29, 2009 PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER LYNCH AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda removals..
There were no Supplemental Issues.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
Moved by Member Gutman, seconded by Member Larson:
Motion to adjourn. Motion carried 7-0.
The meeting ended at 7:37 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