The Meeting was called to order at 7:32 p.m., with Chairman Antosiak presiding.


Present: Members Bauer, Reinke, Harris, Harrington, Brennan, Antosiak

Baty (alternate)

Absent: None

Also Present: Donald M. Saven - Building Official

James Wahl - Director of Community Development

Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary




Chairman Antosiak indicated this is a Special Meeting of the Novi Zoning Board of Appeals, which is a hearing board empowered by the City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances to zoning ordinances and their application as enforced and reviewed by the Building Department. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to grant a variance request. We have a full Board tonight; any decision that is made will be final.




Moved by Member Harris,


Seconded by Member Bauer,








Chairman Antosiak indicated we will allow a Public Comment period. Any comments related to the case before us should be heard at the time of the case. If there is anyone present who would like to address the Board on a matter not related to this case, this is the time to do so. (No one wished to be heard at this time.)



CASE NO. 95-089


Jeffrey Spoon, representing The Enclave is seeking a variance for public road frontage and for sidewalks for property located at 43100 Twelve Oaks Crescent Drive.


Jeffrey Spoon was present and duly sworn.


Jeffrey Spoon: I am the President of Farbman Equities. We represent the New Apostolic Church on their property which is called The Glen Oaks Apartments. We are wishing to convert The Glen Oaks Apartments into condominiums. At present there are 90 units and we wish to convert all 90 units to condominiums.


Jeffrey Spoon: I will take a moment to explain what we are going to do with the property and then I will go into the 2 variances that we are requesting.


Jeffrey Spoon: What we are planning to do to the property is to take the institutional feel of the property, and this particular property is a jewel because of the light and the location and also the location of the Mall itself; what we want to do is to change the whole image of the property from very institutional. As you enter the property currently you end up going through a set of gates into the buildings and we are going to be investing over a million dollars in capital improvements which consist of removing the gates and installing a guard house with brick pavers around the guard house and landscaping and monument signage. The guard house that we are looking to install, looks like this. (Drawings were shown on easel.) This will be a man guard house here and the gate closest to the house will be for visitors and the other gate will be a card system type of gate. In looking at this whole thing we have a curved roof with tile and a very residential type of feeling entrance itself. From that point, each of the visitors or residents will then approach their building and the buildings themselves will have their own monument signs and their own names. This building will be called the "Forest", the middle building will be called the "Landings" and it was mentioned as the Vistas and the City Council asked me to change the name because Vistas is already a project within the City; and the last building will be called the "Shores". The purpose of the individual monument signs themselves are to give the residents a feel of an ownership of the building and therefore not just an address itself. We are going to be adding landscaping around each of the monument signs. We are also going to be taking the community building itself, which now is only accessible by links buildings which are covered and connect all 3 buildings together through the existing community building. We are looking to take the community building itself and have an actual entrance to the community building and provide a nice entry with landscaping around the entry. This a great change from the parking lot itself all the way out to the entry of the club house or the club room or the pool area and this will also be thoroughly landscaped with boulders, plantings, etc. We are looking to take the club house facility and enlarge the deck itself and put in a set of sliding glass doors so that the pool can be accessible in the summer, additional windows, etc. This is the links building that I had talked about which connects all 3 buildings that comes through and meets at the center of the community building itself. The exterior of the buildings: each building will have a new entry and the entry takes away from the very commercial, institutional look and again brings it down so it is an attractive entry itself. All the brick area, including all 3 buildings and the garage areas, will be painted. The brick will be painted itself. We will be actually staining the brick. Therefore, it takes away from the institutional look. Again, this property in our opinion is a real jewel within the community.


Jeffrey Spoon: The request for a variance itself consists of the following: We are located on the Crescent Road Drive and this is the outer driveway of the entire Mall that leads from Twelve Mile to Novi. The ordinance, as I understand, requires that a condominium development must be on a public road. This is part of Twelve Oaks Mall itself. The other variance requested is that it is required by ordinance that the building should be connected by sidewalks themselves. The difficulty that we ran across in looking at the ordinance and talking to Mr. Brandon Rogers is that because these pond areas the topography falls off to such a point that it is literally prohibitive to connect these 2 buildings together by sidewalks. We do have an internal walk system that is covered and connects these buildings. To off set the requirements and to provide additional sidewalks for the development we decided to add additional sidewalks which would usable by the tenants. We added a beautiful meandering walk with benches and landscaping which face onto the lake itself, to off set the requirements for the sidewalk. Again, let me emphasize that we do have a type of connection with the buildings with the links buildings themselves. Therefore, people can connect to any of the buildings no matter what the weather is because of the present system. That is the request that we are asking for.


Jeffrey Spoon: I would like to thank the Board for the Special Meeting tonight. I know that most of you would have had to change your schedules. We do thank you. The reason for the request frankly is that we are trying to open this development up by October 1st. So instead of trying to promise people what we are trying to do in a condominium we want to show them because pictures don’t make people comfortable and that is why we are pushing the time frame on this.


Chairman Antosiak: There was a total of 5 Notices sent to adjoining land owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven: Basically 2 comments. Number 1, there is a letter in file from the Taubman Associates indicating their approval. Number 2, I just wanted to emphasize that the security shack and the height of the security arrangements that you have for emergency vehicles, ie fire department apparatuses is at an adequate height to accommodate such equipment.


Jim Wahl had no comment.


Member Harris: My principal question is I am still not quite certain why the sidewalk system cannot be built.


Jeffrey Spoon: Let me explain to you. From this edge of the sidewalk right here, the land falls off down to the water at such an angle that for us to connect the sidewalk here we would have to literally infill; the land just drops off. Therefore, trying to connect this building with this building unfortunately there is no area to put the sidewalk. You would end up putting the sidewalk out here which would never even be used. That is the difficulty.


Member Harris: Is that the only place on the property where that situation exists?


Jeffrey Spoon: It exists over here and in this area here the land is level in this area here itself. It is between these 2 buildings. One comment that I would like to make is that it is not the concern of the Zoning Board regarding economics and I understand that, the difficulty that we have had is that we are trying to invest the money wisely to take care of the landscaping and the amenities and what have you. This sidewalk, if we were required to install it, it would be costly and then the question would be; would it be used?


Member Harris: In essence you are asking us for a variance to remove the sidewalks from other areas on the plan as well and not just the identified most difficult locations.


Jeffrey Spoon: To answer your question, yes. The only question that I have is that one of the functions of the sidewalks is to connect the buildings so that people don’t have to walk in the streets and we do have an internal system. They can walk in a rainstorm on the elevated walk which is on the second floor and they can walk to all 3 buildings without being outside.


Member Harris: I think that both of them would be nice to have.


Chairman Antosiak: Mr. Saven, under the ordinance would there have to be a sidewalk connecting each building to each of the other buildings?


Don Saven: In normalcy that is generally what is done as far as the site plan is concerned. Configuration and how it is done, that is an engineering feat I would believe. As Mr. Spoon has indicated there is a substantial degree of difficulty as far as the topography of the property as concerned right now, to be able to achieve that.


Chairman Antosiak: Also I know that during the holiday season, Twelve Oaks Mall occasionally closes the parking lot; is that loop road ever closed off?


Don Saven: I don’t believe so. I don’t think that they can do that. They have to service to many other commercial establishments.


Member Harris: Is it possible for that sidewalk, the one that we are talking about, to be routed to the north side , rather than on the south side?


Jeffrey Spoon: This is an open space, but remember this falls off to the water here and it does the same way here. I would say there is a drop of at least 8 feet here, therefore, we would be building a bridge to get across and then we run into the deck area here.


Don Saven: The other thing that I would like the Board to think about also is that because of the topography there is also a degree of difficulty in trying to meet the ADA Regulations for slopes and pitches of sidewalks and that can be a little bit of a problem as far as accessibility is concerned. There would have to be some real engineering behind it.


Member Harrington: Mr. Spoon, do I correctly understand that by virtue of the guard shack that it is anticipated that access to some degree would to some degree would be restricted; either to occupants of the condominium development or their guests? Which would to some degree obviate the necessity for a full inter-locked sidewalk system as what would be common in an open subdivision?


Jeffrey Spoon: Exactly.


Member Harrington: If you were to try and put those sidewalks in, are we talking about an elevated bridges and the like?


Jeffrey Spoon: Well the difficulty would be is that then I would be into wetland areas and that I would be building either decks or something to alleviate that or put retaining wall in to put the sidewalk in. To put a sidewalk over here, is to far and the residents would just skip it ant walk on the concrete rather than the sidewalk itself.


Member Harrington: The purpose of the sidewalk is to provide for pedestrian traffic between the buildings?


Jeffrey Spoon: Yes, it is to provide as I interpret the ordinance, a resident to be able to go visit the tenant here and be able to walk not on the street to get there. We have that by just going through the buildings themselves without the sidewalks.


Member Baty: In addition to that aspect, isn’t the sidewalk also there safe travel along the road?

The ordinance says safe and convenient pedestrian access along internal roads, it doesn’t read from building to building. I think that would also pertain then from their condo to their parking space.


Jeffrey Spoon: Right now, they will be able to walk right through from the entrance to the building. This building here has 17 parking spaces underneath it and this building here has 14 parking spaces here and they can walk out their front door and walk right over to it.


Member Baty: So there is a sidewalk or a pedestrian path.


Jeffrey Spoon: Yes, and then you have these additional carports here and they will just walk here or behind it to get there.


Member Harris: How would a person go out either of the buildings on the north or the south lawn on the east side and get to the new sidewalk along the lake?


Jeffrey Spoon: They most likely as a resident would go up to the second floor and take the links building all the way over to this building, come out this building and then walk over to here. They use the links to connect instead of walking around. We put this walk in here, so it would give them the ability to walk off of the road and to be able to have a nice place to walk and to enjoy the view.


Member Harris: But, they would have to use the road system in order to get to that sidewalk?


Jeffrey Spoon: Either that or the interior links buildings.


Member Harris: Even from any interior links building they would still have to use the roadway to get to the sidewalk.


Jeffery Spoon: I understand what you are saying and yes, The other thing is that this goes up about 15 feet right here; this rises about 15 feet; there is a high point there. So to put even a walk to connect this you would have to dig that out and put a retaining wall to get into there.


Member Baty: Then they would have to use the roadway to get to the new sidewalk.


Jeffrey Spoon: To get to the new sidewalk they would have to use a roadway to get to the sidewalk. Again, you are looking at an interior system of 90 units. Most people will be either visitors or guests and there is no traffic. They are just going around and coming back around and out. There is not much traffic at all.


Member Baty: Is this an adult condo?

Jeffrey Spoon: No, it is open. We are not making any market, everybody is welcome to live here. We just haven’t seen any children.


Member Bauer: Is there 30 units in each building?


Jeffrey Spoon: Yes, there are 30 in each tower.


Member Harrington: Do you anticipate that those interior walkways will be hot wheels and tricycle friendly?


Jeffrey Spoon: They are tricycle friendly. I have never seen any children through those corridors, whatsoever. But they are.


Member Harrington: But, you are not going to restrict your market either.


Jeffrey Spoon: None whatsoever. There is an elevator that takes you up to the second floor for who ever wants to use it, it meets all codes and they are more than welcome to use the facility as much as they want. Very frankly, we encourage and that is why we are spending the dollars to make this more accessible. This is only accessible with difficulty if you have a party to use the community room, you would have to take them up to the second floor and then walk to the links building. Now they can park out here and then walk in. We want to make it more user friendly. That is why we changed the gate system.


Member Baty: I understand the hardship, but you need a safe connection or a path between the building out to the sidewalk. Especially if there are children that would be visiting, if not living there.


Jeffrey Spoon: The only thing that I can answer for that is that this project is going to run a long time. It has been a typical apartment development and a typical apartment turns every year or two years or what have you. You have had all this through all this history of time. There has never been a complaint regarding accidents. There is not a raceway here, you are not driving. To get you over to here I would have to take this out and put a retaining wall here. To get you on this side here and the only question that I raise to everybody is, are they going to use it or is just going to be another thing that is just going to be left and nobody will walk on it. That is why we feel that they are going to walk here, but trying to get over to here; they are not going to.


Member Baty: In order for them to walk there, they have to be able to get there.


Jeffrey Spoon: I have been at this project at all different times of the day and I don’t see many people walking at all.


Member Harris: I think that is probably true in an apartment complex. But, probably in a condominium people will settle and I think that there is a difference. My in-laws live in a similar condo structure and the residents particularly when things cool off, literally all of them are out walking around the grounds and getting outside. I think it is a situation that when you have some topographical difficulties and I am not certain that we can plan this or lay this out for you but that there is a degree of difficulty in accepting the fact that there is no external sidewalks and that you are expecting people to always use the internal walkways. It is not realistic. There are people who are going to walk on the driveways. I think that you are going to see a different type of movement within there as a condominium then you are as an apartment. It does concern me.


Jeffrey Spoon: But, we have an existing project that has been there for years. We have a certain topography that has been there from day one and trying to retro fit this to meet the ordinance for sidewalks; do you have any idea of how many dollars you are talking about if I have an internal sidewalk system. It would kill this development. To be very honest with you, I don’t have a hundred thousand dollars to build with engineering and special walkways and all the stuff to put into this development here just to achieve that whole thing. We are trying to bring this in at a number that people can afford, to go ahead and to tap additional dollars on I am limited. I wish I could do everything, I just can’t. But here is our problem; I sat down with the engineer and you are talking retaining walls and a very expensive situation.


Member Harris: I do see that. But what troubles me is between those 2 buildings that are facing each other. I assume that there are entrances or exits on both sides of the buildings that are facing the closest to each other. Am I correct?


Jeffrey Spoon: Yes, from this point to this point.


Member Harris: Between those 2 buildings, from the north building to the south building; is there entrances or exits on the other side?


Jeffrey Spoon: No, this is only emergency. This would be the entrance here and this would be the entrance there.


Member Harris: If there was a connection from either of those buildings over to the south end of that walk, I would feel much more comfortable with the fact that there was at least a designed front way to get to that.


Jeffrey Spoon: Well then how about if I run a sidewalk from here over to this point here and then they can walk across.


Member Harris: Would you also consider running it to the front of the other building?


Jeffrey Spoon: The only question that I have is yes, the land will allow us to have a sidewalk running this way too, will people use it?


Member Harris: My sense, and I am looking from a standpoint of if I was living there. Particularly if I was living in the other buildings. A building to come across and then a building to go out to loop around. I am still going to walk in the driveway or along side of it. But, I think that there is a middle ground here from my standpoint that there is part of the sidewalks that could in fact be constructed.


Jeffrey Spoon: Suggestion. How about since we do have a walkway here; to establish the walkway this way around the building and stop it here so that people could walk out of this building and connect here and then pick up a sidewalk that runs like this.


Member Harris: That would make me much happier.


Jeffrey Spoon: I would be more than happy to do that. That I can do. I would more than happy to include that into the site itself.


Don Saven: Mr. Harris, may we take that a little bit farther as far as being a little bit more specific in terms of the site plan which he has agreed to do should this be put in a motion?


Moved by Member Harris,


Seconded by Member Reinke,







Chairman Antosiak: Your request for a variance has been granted as amended.





Member Harris: I would like the Board to consider at our next Regular Meeting under "Other Matters" the potential of getting the meetings at 7 o"clock rather than 7:30 p.m.

Chairman Antosiak: Is there any objection from any of the Members?


Member Reinke: By the time I get out of work at 5:30, get home, shower and back here; it is hard to make it before 7:30.


Member Harrington: I would concur with that. Most of the time I am here, but some of the times I am in court across town and I wouldn’t want us to not have a Meeting because someone is late. Maybe we could concentrate our energies on continuing our expedited progress on some of these items.


Member Harris: That would be fine, it was just a suggestion. But, I would like us to do exactly that and shorten the length of the Meetings.


Chairman Antosiak: I want to thank everyone for giving up another evening in service to the City. I just want to make a comment, in this event we basically accommodated the petitioner. Although the Council did direct us to hold this Special Meeting and in review of the ordinance I saw no mention in the ordinance of any authority of Council to direct us to have a Special Meeting. I hope that if it is necessary in the future that they would at least request that we have one.





The Meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.



Date approved Nancy C. McKernan

Recording Secretary