View Agenda for this meeting
View Action Summary for this meeting

Regular Meeting
Wednesday, November 18, 2009  |  7 PM
Council Chambers | Novi Civic Center | 45175 W. Ten Mile
(248) 347-0475


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


Present: Members David Baratta, David Greco, Brian Larson, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer

Absent: Members Victor Cassis (excused), Andy Gutman (excused), Mark Pehrson (excused), Leland Prince (excused)

Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Deputy Director of Community Development; Kristen Kapelanski, Planner; Jana Pritchard, Planner; Lindon Ivezaj, City Engineer; David Beschke, City Landscape Architect; Doug Necci, Façade Consultant; Kristin Kolb, City Attorney


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


Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Baratta.


Motion to approve the November 18, 2009 Planning Commission Agenda. Motion carried 5-0.


Chair Greco asked if there was anyone in the audience who wished to speak to the Planning Commission. Seeing no one, Chair Greco closed the first audience participation.


Chair Greco stated that correspondence would be read at the time of the public hearing.


There were none.


Deputy Director McBeth stated that she had no additional information to share with the Planning Commission this evening.


Chair Greco stated that there were no items on the consent agenda this evening so the Planning Commission would move ahead to the public hearings.



Public Hearing of the request of TMP Architecture, Inc., for Wetland Permit approval. The subject property is located in Section 2, north of Thirteen Mile, west of Novi Road, in the R-4, One-Family Residential District. The subject property is approximately 28.6 acres and the applicant is proposing the addition of four classrooms on the northeastern side of the school.

Planner Kapelanski stated that the existing Hickory Woods Elementary is proposing the addition of four classrooms on the northeastern side of the school. Hickory Woods Elementary is located on Novi Road, north of 13 Mile Road. The driveway that circles the building is being shifted slightly to accommodate those four classrooms. This shift results in a minor impact to the existing wetlands and to the wetland buffer. The City has limited jurisdiction when reviewing and approving school plans and most comments provided in the review letters are advisory only. The school district is required to seek a City of Novi Wetland Permit and Authorization to Encroach into the Natural Features Setback. The Walled Lake School District is seeking approval this evening of a Minor-Use Wetland Permit to fill 469 cubic yards of regulated wetland. The City’s wetland consultant recommends approval of the permit and is here this evening to address any questions you may have.

Chair Greco stated that the City received some correspondence related to the public hearing..

William E. Steiniger Jr., 30664 Vine Court: Approves of the above request and foresees no particular problems in proceeding as planned.

Alan & Nicole DeZell, 1217 E. Lake Drive: Fully supports the Hickory Woods expansion effort.

Albert L. Dinkins, 41772 Independence Drive: Approves of the above request.

Russell Courtney, 41936 Canterbury Drive: Approves.

Chair Greco 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.

Deputy Director McBeth stated that the applicant was here to answer any questions if needed.

Steve Smith of TMP Architecture representing Walled Lake Schools came forward and stated that this was a straight forward project and is intended to relieve overcrowding at the existing Hickory Woods Elementary School. This location is a wooded site and basically surrounded by wetlands. There was not a lot of impact and it will look identical to the existing building.

Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Larson.


In the matter of Hickory Woods Elementary, SP 09-27, motion to approve the Wetland Permit, subject to the comments and conditions listed in the wetland review letter being addressed on the Wetland Permit because the plan is otherwise in compliance with Chapter 12 of the Code of Ordinances and all other applicable provisions of the Ordinance. Motion carried 5-0.

Member Meyer commented that TMP Architecture did a remarkable job. The school that is presently in place looks very good, and Member Meyer is confident the project will be completed with as little impact on the wetlands as possible.


Public Hearing for Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council for an ordinance to amend Chapter 28, "Signs," of the City of Novi code to increase the frequency that the text or message on a changeable copy sign can change.

Planner Pritchard stated that an amendment to the Sign Ordinance that pertains to changeable copy signs, or LED Message Boards, has been prepared by the City Attorney’s Office. This section of the Ordinance was previously reviewed in April 2008, at which time the City Council’s Ordinance Review Committee determined that a one-minute message rotation was appropriate for changeable copy signs. The City Council agreed with the Committee’s recommendation and adopted the Sign Ordinance on May 12, 2008. Since then, it has been suggested that the rotation frequency should occur once every 15 seconds rather than once per minute. This suggestion has been made based upon the positive response that the City’s LED message board has received as a citizen communication tool. The proposed text amendment that would accommodate this adjustment has been recommended by the Community Relations Staff and the Council’s Ordinance Review Committee. No other changes to this section of the Ordinance have been proposed. This evening, the Planning Commission is asked to hold a public hearing in order to forward a recommendation to the City Council regarding this matter.

Member Greco opened the public hearing and asked for any public comment or written communications. Hearing none, the public hearing was closed.

Commissioner Baratta stated that he noticed that the text on the sign in front of the school was changing more than once every minute and wondered whether it was adjusted to see the impact on traffic. It would appear to change almost once every seven to ten seconds. Member Baratta did not notice any negative impact on traffic.

Deputy Director McBeth stated that the school has had their sign for a while, and the school has determined the rate of change of copy on that sign. Staff has not heard of any negative effects on the traffic on Ten Mile Road from that sign. The intent of the ordinance amendment is to allow an increase in the frequency, to change up to four times per minute for all changeable copy signs in the City.

Moved by Member Baratta, seconded by Member Lynch:


In the matter of Sign Ordinance Text Amendment 09-100.39, a motion to recommend approval to the City Council for an ordinance update to Sign Ordinance Text Amendment 09-100.39 to allow changeable copy signs to change up to four times per minute. Motion carried 5-0.



Consideration of the request of Novi Town Center Investors, LLC, for Preliminary Site Plan approval. The subject property is located in Section 14, north of Grand River Avenue, east of Novi Road in the Novi Town Center development. The applicant is proposing to demolish and rebuild portions of Building I located at 26132 Ingersol Drive. The applicant is also proposing to add additional parking immediately adjacent to the building and to complete interior renovations to create smaller lease spaces.

Planner Kapelanski stated that there was a typo on the Agenda, and the matter before you this evening is for a recommendation to the City Council for approval of the Preliminary Site Plan.

Planner Kapelanski stated the applicant is proposing to demolish and reconstruct portions of Building I, located along Crescent Boulevard. Building I is the building with the domes and the clock tower. As part of the plan, interior renovations will be done to create smaller lease spaces. Two of the existing three dome structures will be eliminated, and the copper color on the roofing will be replaced with the blue and green colors currently being installed in other parts of the Town Center. Planner Kapelanski stated that the applicant is proposing to install some additional parking spaces immediately adjacent to Building I. The parking will be added in the front yard along Crescent Boulevard.

The Traffic Review noted a number of deficiencies with the plan, however, the applicant and the City’s Traffic Consultant have worked together to resolve these issues. The applicant has submitted a supplemental plan and the changes to the entryway will be incorporated into the stamping set submittal. A same-side driveway spacing waiver is required for the new access point on Crescent Boulevard.

Planner Kapelanski stated that the proposed façade for Building I is not in compliance with the Façade Ordinance and will require a Section 9 Façade Waiver, specifically for the use of non-copper colored standing seam metal, the overages of cement plaster, standing seam metal and the underage of brick on the west façade. The City’s Façade Consultant is recommending approval of this Waiver, noting that the proposed design is consistent with other façade upgrades recently approved in the Town Center. The City’s Façade Consultant is here this evening if there are any questions about that Waiver.

Planner Kapelanski stated that the plan is deficient in a number of landscape review items and the applicant has agreed to include most of the missing items on the stamping set submittal. The applicant is seeking one Landscape Waiver for the deficient greenbelt along the front yard parking near the eastern drive. Most of the greenbelt is proposed at the required 20 foot width, however, one corner is only 17 feet wide. The Staff would support this Waiver. The Ordinance requires a berm or wall along the front yard parking. The applicant has elected to provide a berm. It is currently not shown on the plans, but will be provided on the stamping sets. The Planning Review recommended approval of the plan noting a number of variances that are required from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Planner Kapelanski stated that the Engineering Review and Fire Review noted minor issues to be addressed on the stamping sets and recommended approval. Also, Section 1602.1 of the Ordinance requires all projects 5 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.

Matt Niles (Wah Yee Associates Architects) came forward and stated that Jim Clear (Novi Town Center Manager) and the applicant’s Civil Engineer are here in order to answer questions.

Mr. Niles stated that Building I is a four-sided, free-standing building. The Town Center wants to make the building more leasable for present and future tenants and bring the building up to the standards set with the rest of the shopping center. The variances and waivers are a result of existing conditions that we are improving upon. The façade waivers needed are consistent with the prior waivers received regarding the other phases of this project in the shopping center. The response letter states that the plan will meet the landscape ordinance standards. The plan is deficient in a couple of canopy trees and a couple of sub-canopy trees, but those will be provided along with the berm along Crescent Boulevard with the next plan submittal.

Architect Niles stated that another issue was with the driveway spacing waiver request. The City’s Traffic Consultant has recommended approval. Mr. Niles displayed the dimension from the proposed curb cut to an existing curb cut, noting the applicant wanted to push the new curb cut as far to the east as possible. If the distance is brought into compliance, the new curb cut would be too closely aligned with the existing median curb cut. The Town Center does not want to tempt drivers to try to pull out of the new curb cut and cut straight across Crescent Boulevard. By pushing the curb cut as far east as possible, it could eliminate the possible conflict. Also, being that the new curb cut is only a right-in and right-out curb cut, the City’s Traffic Consultant has recommended approval. In the latest plan, designers were able to tweak the geometry of this curb-cut and eliminate the 17 foot area that needed the waiver for the non-compliant 20 foot greenbelt and meet the ordinance standard.

Mr. Niles stated that other issues include the existing loading and dumpster areas. Driving in from Novi Road along Crescent Boulevard, the existing loading service area is visible. By flipping the loading/service area to the east end of the building, it will not be as visible from that direction. The plan more than triples the size of it, and it is in a side yard. A variance is needed to put the loading and service area in the side yard, but it will tremendously improve on the existing condition.

Mr. Niles concluded by saying that they are proposing a lot of improvements to try to make this building leasable in the future, as it is almost empty now.

Chair Greco turned it over to the Planning Commission for any questions or comments they might have.

Member Baratta asked about the driveway proposed between Crescent Boulevard and the building: what was the width for that access road for service vehicles.

Mr. Niles stated that this drive was not for service vehicles. To help in leasing the building, Town Center is proposing to open up the side facing Crescent Boulevard. By doing this, Building I will have actual functioning store fronts, creating more of a streetscape look. That is why the parking and a driveway are proposed, to benefit the shoppers.

Member Baratta questioned getting into that area, there would have to be a driveway.

Mr. Niles stated that a 24 foot wide drive is proposed, which meets the ordinance standards. Also, service trucks should not be going anywhere beside the new service court, proposed on the east side of the site.

Member Baratta asked if there was going to be screening which would be on the right side as you are looking at the plan and whether it will be a brick screening of some sort.

Mr. Niles stated that they are screening it as much as the geometry or the reconfiguration of it allows. The existing loading service area is right at the entrance as you are coming in off of Crescent Boulevard. The relocated loading/service area tremendously improves the plan, and is much more compliant, even though it is in the side yard.

Member Baratta asked if they anticipated windows to be on the new front, facing Crescent Boulevard.

Mr. Niles confirmed there will be windows in the front elevation and referred to drawings A4.1 and A4.2. The middle portion of that Crescent Boulevard facade includes the new store fronts. As of now, there are false windows there. It has never functioned as a true store front. The intention is to make it function as a true store front by leasing the stores facing that direction which has created the need for parking in the front yard. Street frontage is very valuable from a leasing perspective and most tenants want to be on a street and facing a street. This building originally missed that opportunity to take advantage of Crescent Boulevard. iThe Town Center is trying to reintroduce that opportunity. Tenants will need access and want front-door parking similar to any downtown, such as a Main Street kind of feel. This would be accomplished with a new driveway and row of parking.

Member Baratta asked Mr. Niles if he anticipated that people would have access from the front of space 630 going down to spaces 620, 640 and 650, or will all of the access be in the front between Crescent Boulevard and through the front door.

Mr. Niles stated that most tenants would be facing the main parking lot and the shopping center. That is where all the direct access will be. There are a few tenants facing Crescent Boulevard. The building is not that big and it is quite walkable. If people cannot find a parking space on Crescent Boulevard, parking is available at the ends of the building and there is a row of parking all the way around the building. If people parked in the main parking lot, it is not much more of a walk to park and walk around the building.

Member Baratta asked if he parked in front of space 610; in order for him to get to space 640, which faces Crescent Boulevard, would he have to walk around the building. He is trying to understand the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Mr. Niles stated that if you parked in front of space 610, there is sidewalk that goes all around the building. If a shopper were forced to park on the opposite side of the building, they could take the sidewalk that goes around the entire building.

Member Baratta stated that it appears to have a service corridor inside the building to service those three proposed tenant spaces. Member Baratta suspects that loading and supplies would come through the building from the side with the big parking lot.

Mr. Niles stated that they have the service area on the northeast side of the building. Trucks can park in there and suppliers will have to walk through that service corridor. That service corridor serves two functions. One is for servicing of those shops facing Crescent Boulevard, and the other is for fire exits and a back way out of those stores.

Member Baratta asked if the configuration of that corridor is very likely to change, depending on how that building is leased.

Mr. Niles indicated that the plan shows a potential reconfiguration of the service corridor. The corridor may shift east or west based on how deep the new tenant spaces are.

Member Baratta asked if he were delivering supplies, would he park in the service loading area. There is no service corridor going through to spaces 610 and 600. Member Baratta questioned the access to space 620 and 630: he questioned whether one would take the sidewalk between the parking lot and the building, or use the service corridor.

Mr. Niles answered that they could go either way. Every tenant except for the occupant of space 600 and Baja Fresh at the opposite end of the building would have direct access to that internal service corridor. Trucks would park in the loading area and they would use a dolly or some kind of cart and go down to the service corridor. Those two end tenants, potentially, one of them Baja Fresh, already have a back door facing Crescent Boulevard, so they could be serviced off that sidewalk on that side. Space 610 could be handled that way or they could be handled through some kind of side entrance. The Town Center would have to wait and see what kind of tenant goes in there, and what works best for them.

Member Larson asked about Baja Fresh and their wall facing Crescent Boulevard: is it now a service wall, or service door. Is that façade going to change and are they going have glass facing Crescent Boulevard now, or is that not going to change.

Mr. Niles stated that the new store front glass would be spanning between spaces 620, 640 and 650, basically the middle third of the building.

Member Larson asked if Baja Fresh would not be affected and if their service façade is still going to face Crescent Boulevard.

Mr. Niles answered that was correct. The applicant chose not to disturb the existing couple of tenants in the building.

Member Larson asked if the existing tenants moved, would that front façade be redone.

Mr. Niles answered that façade could potentially be redone. It would depend on whether a new tenant came in and how their space and floor plan worked out.

Member Larson stated that is seemed odd to him that the applicant is going to redo the whole front side of the building and make it a downtown-look with glass storefronts, but leave a service-type exterior on either side of the store fronts.

Mr. Niles stated that there was a lot of landscaping at the two ends of building right now. The visibility of the two ends of the building is limited, especially the east end of the building, since both ends there have quite a bit of existing landscaping. A driver may have gone past the building and not even realized there was a service-door there. With the addition of the three foot berm, the visibility of the service door is going to be decreased.

Member Baratta asked if the Baja Fresh dumpster is it going to be behind their store or consolidated over on the right side of the plan, near Crescent Boulevard.

Mr. Niles said there will be two dumpsters on-site. Both will be located in the new service court on the east side of the building. Baja Fresh will have to wheel their dumpster around to the other end of the building.

Member Meyer asked City Landscape Architect Beschke if the applicant intends to meet all the ordinance requirements regarding the landscaping, as far as one missing canopy tree and six smaller trees.

Landscape Architect Beschke stated that the applicant was close to meeting the ordinance requirements. The berm was the biggest concern and would be provided on the next submittal. Landscape Architect Beschke indicated staff can work with the applicant on the next site plan submittal regarding the missing trees.

Member Meyer stated that he had concerns with the parking spaces along Crescent Blvd. Safety is his main concern regarding the new parking spaces, and it appears that all will be safe.

City Engineer Ivezaj stated that there were no concerns expressed by the City’s Traffic Consultant with the parking spaces being located too close to Crescent Boulevard.

Member Meyer stated that he normally does not like so many variances being asked for; however, he presumes the Zoning Board of Appeals will grant the requested variances, and it certainly will be advantageous once the recession is over and for the growth of the Town Center. That whole area right now is quite sad as far as one vacancy after another. Member Meyer hopes the applicant’s efforts to downsize the tenant spaces in such a way will encourage various tenants to come forward and lease space in the building.

Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Lynch:


In the matter of Novi Town Center Building I Demo and Reconstruction, SP 09-23A, motion to recommend approval to City Council for the Preliminary Site Plan subject to the following: a) Section 9 Façade Waiver for the overage of cement plaster and standing seam metal, the underage of brick on the west façade and the use of non-copper colored standing seam metal in the Town Center District; b) Same-side driveway spacing waiver for the proposed Crescent Boulevard access point (105’ required, 89’ provided); c) Applicant receiving a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the deficient front yard parking setback (20’ required, 17’ provided); d) Applicant receiving variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals to locate the loading zone and dumpsters in the side yard; e) Applicant receiving a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the deficient amount of loading space (2,950 sq. ft. required, 2,098 sq. ft. provided); f) Applicant providing the required 3’ berm along the parking lot frontage; g) Applicant providing one additional canopy tree; h) Applicant providing six additional sub-canopy trees; i) City Council waiver for the deficient greenbelt (17’ provided, 20’ required) along the front yard parking near the eastern drive; and j) The conditions and items in the staff and consultant review letters being addressed on the Stamping Set submittal for the reasons that it is otherwise in compliance with Article 25 and Article 16 of the Zoning Ordinance and all other applicable provisions of the Ordinance and 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 the use of selected façade materials and material combinations will not detract from the future development of buildings with facades of brick and stone. Motion carried 4-1 (nay- Baratta).


2. ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AMENDMENT 18.239 Discussion of possible ordinance amendment related to sales of liquor, beer and wine at gas stations.

Planner Kapelanski stated that at the previous meeting, the Planning Commission was presented with an amendment to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations. At that meeting, the Planning Commission asked the staff to prepare additional information concerning the sale of beer, wine and liquor at area gas stations. In the packets are a number of maps highlighting the locations of existing gas stations, and the districts that permit gas stations.

You will also find a memo from the staff describing the ordinances enacted by other communities to regulate alcohol sales at gas stations and options for the Planning Commission to consider. Three options are presented in that memo: 1) Complete prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations, which would be similar to the amendment that was previously presented at the Planning Commission meeting; 2) To choose to make no changes to the ordinance allowing gas stations to sell beer, wine, and liquor if they meet the state requirements, which are a minimum building size of 50,000 square feet, or $250,000 worth of merchandise (excluding gas and alcohol sales). This would leave the review and enforcement of these provisions up to the State; 3) To permit limited sales of alcohol based on certain standards. For example, the State standards related to the minimum size of the building or the minimum amount of merchandise. This third option could be complicated as it would require a more specific definition of intent than what was previously laid out in this adjusted amendment. This evening, the Planning Commission is asked to provide their comments on a possible amendment and make a motion on how they would like to proceed at this time.

Chair Greco turned this over to the Planning Commission for any comments or discussion regarding this issue.

Member Lynch felt that this was a policy issue that Council should make the decision on.

Deputy Director McBeth responded by saying that the Planning Commission is an advisory body to the City Council on many types of land use issues. Staff looked at this as a land use issue and possible zoning ordinance amendment. The Planning Commission is responsible for using the Zoning Ordinance to review and approve various plans that come forward. It seemed to make sense to bring it to the Planning Commission for discussion since public hearings take place at the Planning Commission as well. The Planning Commission is asked to gather the public comments and uses and give consideration to those comments as part of their deliberation.

Member Baratta questioned if the purpose of prohibiting gas stations from selling alcohol is to limit the availability or is it to limit the convenience to get alcohol, and if so, that is something different. Member Baratta does not think we are limiting the convenience by allowing a gas station with $250,000 worth of merchandise, particularly since most drug stores are convenient and they have liquor, alcohol, and beer and wine licenses. Member Baratta does not think we are stopping the convenience issue by preventing gas stations from getting this particular type of product. Again, if it is restricting the availability and wanting a more exclusive policy and it’s to be applied throughout the city, which is a different story. Member Baratta stated that with the information that was provided, he did not have an issue if gas stations had this particular product as part of their sales.

Member Meyer questioned why this is before us, and could it be further clarified. Based on the information we have, if we do recommend this to City Council, could we ask that any gas stations wishing to sell alcohol appear before a Liquor Advisory Committee to determine if it meets the state standards for a liquor license. Also, is the Liquor Advisory Committee at the State level or a committee that would be part of our local government?

Deputy Director McBeth stated that she and her staff did look at a number of area ordinances. Some area ordinances have an outright prohibition of the sale of alcohol, while others had no ordinance that prohibits it, so therefore allowing alcohol sales at gas stations with no further restrictions. Troy took a unique approach and set up a Liquor Advisory Committee to review the requests, creating another level of review, similar to a Planning Commission Sub-Committee.

Member Meyer stated that he was not sure the Planning Commission was ready to give a recommendation to the City Council this evening. If we would give this recommendation to City Council, we could do it with the possibility of creating a Liquor Advisory Committee of the Planning Commission.

Member Larson questioned how many gas stations in Novi met the criteria of being 50,000 square feet, or $250,000 of merchandise.

Planner Kapelanski stated that we have 12 gas stations. The only one that has received this type of license in the city is the Sunshine Market. There is an existing gas station at Sam’s Club that could meet that standard. But, beyond that, Planner Kapelanski is not aware of any other gas station that has applied for this license, so it is unknown whether or not any others would meet the $250,000 merchandise standard. Staff could do additional research to see how many would meet the size requirement, but, beyond the Sam’s Club and the Sunshine Market, staff is not aware of any.

Member Baratta questioned if Sam’s Club met the requirement and is it because of what is inside of Sam’s Club itself.

City Attorney Kolb stated that the communities that have put outright bans on the sale of alcohol at gas stations, or are in the process of doing that, are doing so because the Liquor Control Commission that oversees us at the State level has indicated that they just do not have adequate staff to oversee the requests. The State is doing the review on an honor system and if someone calls and says they have $250,000 worth of merchandise, the State is approving it. The communities that are pursuing this are concerned that liquor licenses are not being regulated in the way they should be. The Liquor Control Commission is taking people at their word, rather than investigating to see that they meet the statutory criteria.

Chair Greco said his concern was that he still hasn’t seen a compelling reason why we should get involved in this. It is being regulated at the State level, even though it might not be adequately regulated. This is government regulation and would be prohibiting something that is currently allowed. Before we start impacting Sam’s Club, and the Sunshine Market or impacting any future businesses coming into the city, Chair Greco wants to know why we would consider this. The questions that were asked by Member Baratta are right on point; is there a reason why we should be doing this. If you have more than one or two gas stations that sell alcohol in the city, are crashes up or drunk driving incidents up. Is it more dangerous for the community? Those are the answers we are looking for. At our last meeting that is what Member Pehrson and I were questioning. Do we have data to support this, and will it be helpful to the community? Any state agency, as well as any other government agency that is understaffed might not be doing everything they should be doing. At this point in time, Chair Greco does not see a compelling reason why the City should get involved in regulating this, whether it is straight out prohibition or creating a local liquor commission to review gas station requests. Chair Greco thinks we are trying to address a perceived problem - drinking and driving. Chair Greco is not recommending going forward with this at this time until we receive additional information that would make sense and benefit the community.

Deputy Director McBeth stated that there is a letter from our Police Department in the packets. The Police Department has listed a number of reasons for its recommendations. However, they did not have specific statistics or other things Chair Greco mentioned.

Chair Greco stated that the main reason is drinking and driving and that he did not see any compelling data as to why we would get involved in this.

Member Lynch stated that in his opinion, it might be foolish to pursue this and agreed with Chair Greco and thinks this is something above us. It seems more of a policy, and Member Lynch cannot speak for what the citizens want. City Council would have a better idea on what the need is and what benefit it is to the city. At this point, we just have speculation and a letter from Police Chief Malloy which is saying that it would not be a very good idea. Member Lynch thinks we need to step back and understand why we are even doing this and if there is an overwhelming benefit to the city.

Deputy Director McBeth stated that it sounds like the Planning Commission may not be ready to set a Public Hearing, but if Planning Commission chose to set the hearing, it might be an opportunity to get some additional input on the topic. We could let the issue stand, and forward the Commission’s thoughts on this to the City Council in an alternate method. Or, the Planning Commission could ask to set the Public Hearing at the next available date, collect public input, and the Planning Commission could vote on their recommendation to City Council.

Chair Greco asked if anyone had any ideas on what they want to propose.

Moved by Member Meyer, seconded by Member Larson:

In the matter of text amendment 18.239, motion to set a public hearing for an upcoming Planning Commission meeting.

Member Baratta stated that before they set a public hearing, he would like the data from the Police Chief to see what the incidents are. If you read the Police Chief’s letter, article one says that alcohol is a product that should not be conveniently available, and he does not say it is, or it isn’t with this type of facility. The Police Chief does say that the ease of access to alcohol could increase, and he is not specifically saying that it will. The Police Chief goes on to say that if alcohol sales at gas stations are prohibited, this may decrease the ease of access to alcohol, so he is not being definitive with whether this is a good or bad idea statistically. Member Baratta stated that he would like to see what the numbers are on the statistics with other communities that allow the sale of alcohol at gas stations, and then the Planning Commission can properly consider this proposal.

Chair Greco thanked Member Baratta, but noted that a motion and a second have been made that the Planning Commission needs to consider.

City Attorney Kolb asked for a clarification. Obviously the Planning Commission does not have a specific text amendment to consider at the public hearing. So is the point of the public hearing just to gain input from the public as to whether or not to move ahead and possibly get some direction on what the citizens would want? If that is the intent, City Attorney Kolb would like to make sure that is clear so that staff can properly notice.

Chair Greco suggested we should ask the motion maker to clarify what he is requesting.

Member Meyer stated that it appears that the public hearing would be a discussion of a possible ordinance amendment related to the sales of liquor, beer, and wine at gas stations. That would be the essence of the public hearing, discussion of a possible ordinance amendment.

Member Lynch asked if Police Chief Malloy could attend the public hearing.

Chair Greco stated that they could probably request Police Chief Malloy to be present.

Member Lynch asked if he could give comments.

Deputy Director McBeth stated that staff could request someone from the Police Department, either the Chief or the Deputy Chief if they are available to attend that evening. If the Planning Commission would prefer, planning staff could ask for additional information from the Police Department prior to the public hearing.

Member Lynch stated that he would prefer to ask questions of the experts rather than get a letter. With respect to the motion, Member Lynch cannot support a public hearing until we at least have some comment from the experts and he is going to vote against the motion because he would like to have a discussion with the experts prior to the public hearing.

Member Larson asked if there is a member from the Police Department that could bring data to support their letter and talk about it so it could be discussed at the meeting.

Member Meyer also said he would specifically like to ask that Police Chief Malloy attend.

Chair Greco asked if there were any other comments before they took a vote and there were none.


In the matter of text amendment 18.239, motion to set a public hearing for an upcoming Planning Commission meeting. Motion fails 3-2

Member Meyer asked if he could make a new motion and could Police Chief Malloy attend a meeting of the Planning Commission so that we can discuss the text amendment with an expert.

Member Baratta stated his position would be not to deal with this any longer unless it gets brought back properly with a proper zoning text amendment and the proper data for a presentation if that wants to be done. The Planning Commission does not have to set a hearing tonight and Member Baratta does not think they should do so. Member Baratta thinks the feelings of the Planning Commission have been heard at the last two meetings and if there is data to back up such an ordinance, it can be presented to the Planning Commission and we can consider it again and he does not think any of his fellow Commissioners would have a problem with that.

Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Baratta:

In the matter of text amendment 18.239, motion to request that the Chief of Police attend an upcoming Planning Commission meeting to discuss the sale of beer, wine and liquor at gas stations. Motion was withdrawn.

Member Lynch stated he would like to withdraw his previous motion and Member Baratta agreed.


Moved by Member Larson, seconded by Member Baratta:


A motion to approve the October 29, 2009 Planning Commission minutes. Motion carried 5-0.


Moved by Member Larson, seconded by Member Baratta:


A motion to approve the September 30, 2009 Planning Commission minutes. Motion carried 5-0.


There were no Consent Agenda removals.



Deputy Director McBeth stated that the Planning Commission might benefit from a general discussion by our Façade Consultant Doug Necci and a description of what he reviews when he is looking at a plan and a building elevation and to give the Planning Commission background information on his area of expertise.

Façade Consultant Necci came forward and stated that he would give a quick overview of the whole procedure. The Façade Ordinance has been adopted for about 15 years and applies to all new buildings, all additions, alterations, canopies, gateway structures, and dumpster enclosures. Utility buildings less than 1,000 square feet are not subject to the façade ordinance.

For each submittal, the Planning Commission will receive a review letter that Façade Consultant Necci writes either recommending or not recommending approval. However, leading up to that, reviews are done on floor plans and elevations, sample boards, and on larger projects, a rendering and a design statement which gives an overview of what the design intent is.

After the review and approval process, there is an inspection that is done, and that is done on 24 hours notice. The inspection is done once the materials are delivered to the site and before being installed on the building. Those inspections are done fairly quickly.

The Façade Ordinance is several pages long. But, to give the Planning Commission an overview, the criteria that Façade Consultant Necci reviews is mainly contained within the façade chart. There are other criteria reviewed, including colors of roof appliances (roof-top air-conditioning units) and the screening of them. Façade Consultant Necci looks at the building in terms of its context as well as the surrounding area and the adjacent buildings as well as basic streetscape. Also, there is a provision within the façade ordinance for sustainable design, which allows for materials other than those in strict conformance with the façade chart if it is a material that is considered sustainable.

The façade chart is the main agenda for Façade Consultant Necci’s review and is based on three façade regions and takes each building and looks at it, and how visible it is to the public. Façade Region I pertains to any building in our TC, TC-1, RC, RA type districts or within 500 feet of a major thoroughfare. Anything in industrial zoning and over 500 feet from a major thoroughfare falls to Region III. Region II is really just in between the two. The façade chart is what is used to calculate the materials for each site plan review because there is a certain consistency that has to be maintained on how the percentages are calculated. The façade chart is meant to put emphasis on certain materials that are preferred, and to discourage those that are not. The percentages reflect that, and they jump in increments of 15 to 20 percent and it is a way to point the applicant in the right direction.

For those applicants that meet the façade chart, there is no waiver necessary. The Planning Commission frequently sees the applicants request a Section 9 Waiver. Section 9 Waivers are paragraph number nine of the ordinance, which allows for a deviation from any of the percentages if the basic intent of the ordinance is met. For that, Façade Consultant Necci looks at all those other criteria, such as context, color, and just the basic design qualities of the building. Facade Consultant Necci brought as an example a colored drawing of the Rojo Restaurant, and it shows the before picture and the after picture, and you can see the big difference in the rendering and the final product. There is interpretation needed, and as an architect Façade Consultant Necci interprets these renderings and points out to the Planning Commission any inconsistencies or surprises that may arise between a rendering and a final product.

There is a building Façade Consultant Necci wanted to point out because there is a lot of cycling with the applicant and dialogue that happens within the Planning Department between staff, myself and the applicant. This is a very old, but prominent building on Grand River and Novi Road and you see the existing condition is rather unattractive. The applicant was proposing a renovation and there was great difficulty in renovating this building. Even though it is not listed in the ordinance, the applicant ended up painting a full brick wall. The applicant was experimenting with different full painting arrangements and the brick had many coats of old paint on it, so, there was no way of going back to the original brick. The final outcome looked like brick and the applicant worked well with the city and through several trial and errors to get it to look like it does. Façade Consultant Necci and staff try to be flexible, and to make the process user friendly.

Another project came in and the applicant was originally proposing to eliminate a covered walkway. In the Pre-Application meeting, the staff and Façade Consultant Necci suggested that they preserve that walkway, because it was an important amenity and it provided a covered connection between the different store fronts. The applicant responded and followed that recommendation.

Regarding the project that was just before the Planning Commission, which was Novi Town Center, Building I, that building was famous for the copper colored roof. The applicant actually proposed that copper color originally, and the City wrote the ordinance so that it was continued on other buildings.

The Town Center is looking at renovating their building and they want to do something instead of the copper. The City might want to consider an amendment to the Town Center Design ordinance to move away from the copper colored requirement. Façade Consultant Necci felt that it has seen and lived its life. However, there are still recent buildings that have used that product such as this one.

Façade Consultant Necci stated that during a pre-application meeting about the Town Center project here this evening is it was noted that domes and clock towers are kind of a signature element in Novi. Façade Consultant Necci thinks that we have all become accustomed to them and certainly the clock towers become a landmark. While they weren’t originally proposing to eliminate that, they were proposing to eliminate this dome. The applicant has come up with a creative solution where they incorporated the existing dome at the Baja Fresh end of the restaurant into the final design and it wraps in and encompasses that element. Staff was happy to see that element incorporated.

Member Meyer complimented Façade Consultant Necci and noted he is trying to make it easier and work with the developers. Member Meyer stated that he applauds every effort made to work with those who are trying to participate in the community. Their taxes do help balance off what the residents pay and Member Meyer does appreciate that booster shot. Member Meyer recognizes there are times when we have to grant a Façade Wavier, though it is Paragraph 9 and the City calls it a Section 9 Waiver.


There were no supplemental issues.


No one from the audience wished to speak.


Moved by Member Lynch, seconded by Member Larson:


Motion to adjourn. Motion carried 5-0.

The meeting adjourned at 8:14 PM.









Transcribed by Juanita Freeman

Account Clerk

December, 2009