The Meeting was called to order at 7:33 p.m., with Chairman Harrington presiding.




Present: Members Meyer, Brennan, Reinke, Harrington and Bauer


Absent: Members Antosiak and Baty


Also Present: Donald M. Saven - Building Official

Steve Cohen - Staff Planner

Alan Amolsch - Ordinance Enforcement Officer

Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary




Chairman Harrington indicated the Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the Novi City Charter to determine applications of variances or special use permits. All of these cases are in the nature of appeals after the denial of an application by the City of Novi Building Department. The variance request will normally seek relief from the strict application of the City of Novi Zoning Ordinances. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to grant a variance request. A full Board will consist of six (6) Members. We have what we refer to as a "Short Board" this evening with only five (5) being present. With only the five (5) being present it will require four (4) out of the five (5) votes to approve your variance. As is our tradition, if there are variance applicants who would like to have their matter moved to the next scheduled meeting which will be the second Tuesday in November we would be pleased to move your matter to the November Meeting at this time. Otherwise, if you are heard this evening a vote of four (4) will be the final determination. Is there anyone who would like to have the matter moved to the November Meeting?


Dewey Marlow, Case No. 96-079. I would prefer to have the case postponed.


Chairman Harrington: Board Members by acclamation we will move this matter to the November Meeting.


Chairman Harrington: Are there any other applicants who would prefer to have the matter moved to the November Meeting? Hearing none and seeing none, we will now turn to approving the agenda.


Approval of Agenda


It is my understanding that the request has been made which the "Chair" will grant to change the agenda to move the Vista’s matter up to number one on the agenda as far as Mr. Rogers is present. Are there any other proposed changes to the agenda?


Member Brennan: Perhaps a suggestion. We have two cases concerning Marathon Oil at the same site and maybe we can tie those together.


Chairman Harrington: I think that is an excellent suggestion. There is no use keeping them around when we can deal with all of it at the same time.


Chairman Harrington: Board Members by acclamation, all in favor of considering them at the same time? Voice vote. All yeas.


Chairman Harrington: That will close the proposals or the changes to the agenda.



Approval of Minutes


Chairman Harrington: We will now turn to the Minutes of August 13, 1996 and September 3, 1996. Board Members are there any proposed changes, additions, deletions to those minutes?


Chairman Harrington: Hearing none. I hereby move that the Board approve by acclamation the minutes of the August 13, 1996 Meeting and the September 3, 1996 Meeting. Voice Vote. All yeas.


Chairman Harrington: The minutes are so approved.



Public Remarks


Chairman Harrington: This is the portion of our Meeting, whereby comments which are related to general matters and not a specific case before the Board; because those cases will be called in order as scheduled. But, if a member of the public wishes to address the Board on an issue of general importance this is the "Public Remarks" section and audience members are requested to do so at this time. (None one wished to speak at this time.)



Case No. 96-087 filed by Hughlan Meadowbrook, David Lanciault


Hughlan Meadowbrook/David Lanciault is requesting a variance to allow 2 separate parcels which compromise 50.6 acres (13 Mile and Meadowbrook Rds.) to be used as R1. Current zoning is RA.


Ronald Hughes was present and duly sworn.


Ronald Hughes: I would like to make a clarification to the Zoning Board of Appeals, this property that we request this evening is not affiliated with the Vista’s of Novi.


Chairman Harrington: You are correct; every time I see Hughlan I have a response to the Vista’s. This is a new project and you would like that made known for the record.


Ronald Hughes: Hughlan Meadowbrook is a limited partnership as the owner of approximately 50 acres. We originally owned 77 acres which was all contiguous. Shortly after the acquisition by Hughlan we sold 25 acres to the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools for a future elementary site. Now this school negotiation was also negotiating for economy to finish the project. As you may have all heard, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools have approved a bond issue after 4 attempts; so shortly we will be seeing an elementary school on Meadowbrook Road.


Ronald Hughes: The partnership has 10 acres on Thirteen Mile Road with approximately 900 feet of frontage; 10 acres gross and approximately 7 acres net. We have an additional 40 acres southwest of this site; with approximately 30 acres that is net. When we acquired the property it was zoned agricultural. After the acquisition of the property, as everyone knows, it would change in agricultural classification to an RA classification throughout the City. There were different guidelines setting forth to meet the agricultural zoning; when utilities were available to the site the zoning potential could become available or a rezoning consideration. So what we have done in the last few years is that we have attempted through the Planning Department, the Planning Commission and the City Council; we have made several attempts to offer a satisfactory plan that would give us the justification to develop the property with the consideration that the school was to the north and the Vista’s to the west with a high density and the mobile home park was in a close proximity and we now have an expressway coming in. This site will be serviced by sewer and water.


Ronald Hughes: The Master Plan, it is zoned RA which basically takes a substantial portion of property east of Meadowbrook Road and our property is included. We tried with the City to get an accommodation for an R3 zoning; we withdrew. We came back in for an R2; that was rejected. We most recently came back under R1 which is the minimum amount of zoning that will make our site work for economic development. We were rejected at the Planning Commission. We were also rejected by the City Council.


Chairman Harrington: How come?


Ronald Hughes: Because they felt that it was a variation to the Master Plan. So what we are here tonight for is to ask for 3 considerations. Either a special use permit category, or a variance. The first request because we have to exhaust our amenities in order to try to obtain an R1 classification is to have a vote from the commission; either a yes or a no vote upon our zoning request from RA to R1. Our second request, if in fact that it is a negative response based upon your jurisdiction and the guidelines that your commission must adhere to; we would ask the consideration that we would be able to develop the property using an R1 guideline with the density not exceeding RA. This way it is the intent of the RA Master Plan, but it enables us to go forward and bring a minimum amount of lots not exceeding the amount that would necessarily be developed under a R3. Number three is that using an RA classification there is a guideline for the cul-de-sac length and we would ask to be permitted to a special use to develop the property under an R1 and keep the underlying building the same; we would ask that the cul-de-sac be permitted to be extended to the easterly property line, enabling us to get the appropriate density. Our density will not exceed 36 lots. If you multiply 50 acres by .8 that would give us approximately 40 units. The configurations of land with the subsequently equivalents the maximum density that we could obtain on the parcel would be 36 lots. If I may, I will show the commission the number of lots that would could be obtained on the parcel using an RA. This is the board to my right. Under the RA classification the maximum lot that we can put on site would be 10. If all of our property was useable we could develop this under an RA scenario; but because we have such a fractional amount of property that is actually buildable we are asking for a special permit to enable us to go to another plan that would not, as I mentioned, increase the density on the overall site.


Ronald Hughes: I will go over to the board and explain the difficulties with each plan. The dark green is the existing woodlands and wetlands on the site, the light green represents the buildable area. You can see that approximately 2/3rds of our property is lost to woodlands and wetlands. If we are restricted under the current guidelines with the cul-de-sac length of approximately 800 feet and Mr. Rogers can be more precise, I believe, but it is in that range. Our maximum yield per density would only be 10 lots; not justifying bringing sewer, water and all of the infrastructure for only 10 sites.


Chairman Harrington: Meaning that you can’t get as much of a profit as it would ordinarily get?


Ronald Hughes: It is not profit, you couldn’t make it all because of the cost of the infrastructure would not offset the price that we could obtain for the lots.


Ronald Hughes: If we are able to use either a variance or a special permit we are using the same buildable land under an R1 classification, but we can keep underlying zoning RA because the density is still only 24 lots on 40 acres. It would also work the same on our 10 acres along Thirteen Mile Road where the number of lots would not exceed the underlying RA zoning. We feel that with the City’s or the Zoning Board of Appeals consideration we can adhere to the intent to not change the zoning, we can also adhere to all of the hardships that this site has and those are the 3 categories that we want your consideration.


Ronald Hughes: I must clarify that we would like a separate vote from your commission relative to our zoning request and we would a consideration on either a special use permit or a variance permitting us to develop the property under an R1 guideline but still that the density could not exceed an RA. The third as I mentioned was the permission to extend the cul-de-sac from approximately 800 feet which brings it over to here.


Ronald Hughes: I am looking for any questions that you may have.


Chairman Harrington: I don’t normally interject questions at this point, but I think that we will hear shortly from Mr. Rogers and so the Board Members and the audience and those who are listening on the TV may appreciate the significance of the arguments; what do you view the standard or the review of this Board to be?


Ronald Hughes: It is our understanding that the Zoning Board of Appeals will grant either a variance or a special use permit based upon hardship of the property and the guidelines, which we certainly qualify.


Chairman Harrington: The hardship in this particular circumstance is?


Ronald Hughes: Two thirds of our property is wetlands or wooded.


Chairman Harrington: What is the hardship?


Ronald Hughes: For us to put in the infrastructure which would only generate a yield of approximately 10 lots. We cannot put in all of our infrastructure, sewer and water, curbs, etc. that would justify offsetting that cost.


Chairman Harrington: Your hardship is profit?


Ronald Hughes: No sir, it is not profit.


Chairman Harrington: Are you suggesting to the Board at this point that the property cannot be developed as it sits?


Ronald Hughes: That is correct. In order to put sewer, water, curbs, streets and the like......


Chairman Harrington: Are you suggesting there is no development that is going to occur on this property period, end of story?


Ronald Hughes: No sir, I am not suggesting that.


Chairman Harrington: You just can’t do it the way that you want to do it with the infrastructure?


Ronald Hughes: Right. We have studied this every which way we can. We have tried to keep the intent of the RA zoning with the overall density; so that the City would not have more in the RA classification when we are done.


Chairman Harrington: Can the project be developed without sewer?


Ronald Hughes: It could.


Brandon Rogers: As the Planning Consultant for the City of Novi I was asked to appear tonight to comment on this petition for rezoning. You have in your file a copy of my report and so does Mr. Hughes.


Brandon Rogers: I have listened tonight to comments by Mr. Hughes and noticed that he has his associates with him. I think that the report that I wrote summarizes the issue. It is dated July 9th and it is addressed to Mr. Cohen who is the secretary or the Staff Planning Aide tonight. The application before you now consists of and there are maps attached to my report; of 2 parcels that are not contiguous. It is separated by a school setting that has been sold to the Walled Lake School District. The basic request on the initial petition was "the purpose of achieving additional residential density that will support installation of sewer and water and taking into consideration the significant loss of land due to wetlands and woodlands".


Brandon Rogers: The applicant, and I trust that these maps will show it, intends to develop a roadway along the easterly edge of the school site adjacent to some land development further to the east; and in one case that would be Mr. Tom Nations who is building a house there, to connect the 2 parcels. Obviously to and let’s say to avoid having a cul-de-sac that would exceed the maximum length that is permitted in the City today for a subdivision.


Brandon Rogers: The 2 parcels that they are talking about that are shown on the plans here are zoned residential "a" district; residential acreage district and that was a change in the ordinance. They abut other RA zoned properties on all sides. I commented here that the southerly part had been considered earlier in 2 cases. I believe they were for R4 and for R3; but this is the third time around the southerly portion or the 40 acres.


Brandon Rogers: The City’s Master Plan of 1 acre was officially adopted and recorded in 1993 recommends that subject properties for the 2 parcels of single family residential future land use with density of 8 units per acre. All properties in section 12 is uniformly zoned RA District and master planned for .8 units per acre. Surrounding development to the east includes Spring Valley Subdivision and large parcel residential development along Thirteen Mile, Wildwood Hills Subdivision and several large parcel residential uses to the south, The Vistas of Novi (planned unit development) to the west on property that is zoned RA District but I hasten to add was given the density allowance of 4 units per acre.


Brandon Rogers: We are all familiar with these large parcel developments and the zoning map extract that I have attached to my report shows parcels 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 acre parcels. It is fairly uniform, particularly between Meadowbrook Road and the M5 which is under construction. In fact, most of the majority of the land is spoken for in these large parcel units.


Brandon Rogers: The City has adopted what we call the "preservation option" which could be considered in this development which could reduce somewhat the minimum lot size permitted in RA. So that is an option. I might add that there is an option pending currently before the City Council to allow RA lots to have half of those lots and let’s say that they are half acre by one acre, that half acre of the one acre could be platted into regulated wetlands which was the plan and the ordinance 8 days ago in this City; that is not on the books and it nothing that has to be considered nor should you consider it tonight.


Brandon Rogers: I, as you know from my letter, being under the preservation option and the basic RA district classification, without coming through an option procedure which requires Planning Commission and City Council approval, I cannot support zoning as no showing property cannot be developed as presently zoned and Master Planned.


Brandon Rogers: Yes, the density is .8 and if they are proposing 36 lots on 50 acres, obviously the density is a lot less than one home per acre. However, the controlling condition are the lot sizes and the more stringent rule applies. You have and we enforce the one acre size. Look at Turnberry Estates over on Eight Mile next to Orchard Hill Place; in this project all the lots are an acre or an acre and one half with the zoning RA and the Master Plan is .8 units per acre. So it can work and there is a demand.


Brandon Rogers: The property in my opinion, can be used for permitted uses in the ordinance. There is a cost to developing land, but they are not bringing sewer and water up a mile from let’s say Eleven Mile; they are bringing it up anyway for the Vista’s project across the street. So a lot of front end costs for bringing it a mile which is substantial may not be as significant.


Brandon Rogers: The 800 foot cul-de-sac, to get a waiver on it and this may be a classic case where a waiver could be supported, you have to go to Council and get a revision to the City’s Design and Construction Standard. There have been certain cul-de-sacs even in Turnberry Estates that there was no other way to put in a road and maybe the total width of this depth property is about 1250 feet so we are talking about an extensive length of cul-de-sac to serve this subdivision or parcel. But this is for Council review when the site plan comes in.


Brandon Rogers: The cost of the road is their option, it was an interesting idea and I even mentioned it to their earlier planner, Robert Gibbs, to connect up the 2 properties in the petition. They have negotiated a no load road easement, but that can be.....


Brandon Rogers: So in summary, I would like to leave with you my recommendation and that is all that it is, that the zoning remain intact; that we maintain uniform zoning and uniform Master Planning in Section 12 and we have many areas elsewhere in the City for R1 and R2 and R3 type of development. This is an area not withstanding M5 and having a road and then Twelve Mile that has seen continual rejuvenation and will see continual renovations at the north end in a 2 or 3 year process.


Brandon Rogers: If there are any questions I will be glad to answer them.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 29 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was 2 written responses received both voicing objection. Copies in file.




Jim Korte, Shawood Lake. Somehow every time Sandstone/Vistas is up I end up screaming. When you take the standard City of Novi; their lots, their roads, their everything, their water, their sewers, their schools it doesn’t fit at the north end. Now, that is still the north end. Is it a little teeny area such as I live, no. But when you look at the amount of wetlands to even think to even suggest or question building without sewers I personally think it is ludicrous. I was at the north end without sewers. Cesspool is the term. Is that going to happen in our life time over there, probably not. But did they ever think in 1940 that we would have a cesspool of Shawood Lake when I moved in 1969 to 1970, no. But it happened. Water runs down hill. We have wetlands because they are down hill. So the property is going to be developed by somebody somehow. Somebody is paying taxes on it. I would like to think that Sandstone/Vistas has proved that they are a quality act. I don’t think that everyone in the City would agree seeing that there is always this consternation when Sandstone/Vistas is up. I think that they have proven themselves. I think that this land is going to be developed and this project is not out of line with what is going on. Would you as a Board, or you as a City, allow the property kiddie corner today to be a mobile home court? I don’t think so. What if he wants to put a mobile home court in there? It certainly is right for the area. Obviously, there is a big one over there. I think it is a good project. They have been our friends at the north end and please don’t hold us hostage. Let them build. Let them get in. Let them get out. Thank you.


Chris Syfert, 28660 Summit. We live directly adjacent to this property. I would like to second and completely agree with Mr. Schifman’s letter. I hate to see the density increase, which he objected to. There is enough construction and commercialism and things that were not part of the plan when we choose that type of area. I am concerned about traffic density in that particular road through the middle of our neighborhood. I am concerned about water myself. I don’t have the luxury with sewer and city water. We do our own maintenance of those things, so I don’t see why exceptions need to be made. So, I agree with Mr. Schifman. Stick to the plan. We like it. We choose it. Leave it the way that it is.


Henrietta Warren, 28815 Summit. We abut this land directly to the south end. I also have a definite concern about the water. We have wells. We have septics. We were also told that it would remain RA. We are concerned about the development and the impact of M5 to the Summit community and we have been told that this square mile would not be disturbed. We were told by the City that there was very little opportunity for this property to be rezoned. I would like you to visit it because we have been told by every City Official that there was no way that this particular square mile would be disturbed. (tape inaudible)


Thomas Nations: I think that my name was mentioned by the Planner. I was before you I believe in May. I am trying to get my house built. I own the property that is just west or east of the property that is being developed. I abut the property that is owned by the school district of Walled Lake. I presented to you a request at that time asking you to allow me to leave a house on the property until I get my house built and you allowed that and I appreciate that. I also spoke at the same time these gentleman were here trying to deal with this piece of property at the same time I was opposed to their proposal. I continue to be opposed to that. My property that I purchased is RA and I expect that everyone around it is RA. If you agree with this I will have a road coming down the side of my property where my house is being built. There will be nothing except cars going back and forth in front of my property or along side of my property. Beyond the road will be the school property. When I purchased the property I knew the school owned it and wanted to build an elementary school there. I am an elementary school teacher. I enjoy children and I would enjoy having them out there along side of my property. I do not wish to have cars up and down the same roadway. I own approximately 14 acres there. The development that I wish to do; there is one house on the property now that was a part of it and my house will be the second and there is a third house that will remain until mine is finished and then be torn down. So there will be 2 houses there on the approximate 14 acres. I am not sure why anyone wants to build more than that around me. That is what I thought I had when I bought it. That is what I intended to develop and to retire there. I didn’t expect to have automobiles and the like. I would appreciate if you would not accept this.


Chairman Harrington: Sir, before you sit down; I take it that the RA zoning has not precluded you from building your house or developing your property?


Thomas Nations: No, it has not. I just sunk a well on my property 3 weeks ago. I have 1 foot of topsoil, 75 feet of clay, and then I hit water. I have to put in an engineered field for my septic system which I will do. As I said, I am going to be retired within the next couple of years from the schools and I don’t have an awful lot of money; but my intentions are to live there for the rest of my life.




Don Saven: I would like Mr. Rogers to elaborate on the issue with the cul-de-sac. Was it the length of the cul-de-sac the concern or the turning radius of the cul-de-sac?


Brandon Rogers: The City’s Design and Construction Standards regulate both the length and the width and the diameter of the cul-de-sac. I am referring only to the length of the cul-de-sac. It would be presumed that if it were 800 feet or less that they would have to design the proper turn around for the cul-de-sac. Or if it were 1000 feet long you would still have that same design standard for the cul-de-sac. Both in the location of the diameter and the right of way diameter. I do not have the material before me to tell you what those number are, but if there is any departure from the standards on the cul-de-sac diameter, pavement or right of way or the length of the cul-de-sac if it exceeds 800 feet or 600 feet they would have to go to the Council with a recommendation from DPS, City Engineers.


Member Brennan: No question, but perhaps a clarification. The petitioner has suggested that there were separate issues that he wanted us to consider. I believe that there is only one that we have before us and that is wether there is reason to believe that the property cannot be developed under RA and with that admission he could get a special land use. The petitioner has already said that it can be used for RA. His problem seems to be, as he indicated, that he can’t get full use out of the whole district because of the limitation on the cul-de-sac length. Mr. Rogers has already said that there are ways around that and the remedy was going back to Council. I don’t see where there is any hardship demonstrated that the parcel cannot be developed.


Chairman Harrington: Regarding the point that you are making, Mr. Brennan; I have reviewed the Notice of Appeal that was filed as well as the Notice of Public Hearing and I don’t read either the appeal of the Novi City Code, Section 3104.1 which vests this Board with the authority to rezone. I don’t believe that we have that power. I can be corrected by Mr. Fried or Mr. Watson or anybody else, but we don’t have the power to rezone; what we do have the power to do in our discretion upon a showing of hardship.......


Ronald Hughes: We are seeking a variance....


Chairman Harrington: May I continue? Thank you. What I do view is that this Board has the power to do which was why I was concerned with the standard of review and that was the question that I initially had for the proponent is that we can grant a special use if there is a demonstration made and clearly shown that the land cannot be used for it’s zoned use. I think that is the issue that the Board has to address tonight and I think that is the factual and real issue that we have to come to a determination of whether or not the facts and the evidence submitted to this Board demonstrate that the land cannot be used for it’s zoned use. That is how I view the issue and that is what I am prepared to vote and rule on. In that vein, I have a few questions of Mr. Rogers.


Chairman Harrington: Mr. Rogers, recognizing that you already have provided some light on the issue so obviously you are not the proponent and may answer this question differently; but I would be interested in your opinion as an expert Planner; can this land be used for it’s zoned use?


Brandon Rogers: In my opinion, yes.


Chairman Harrington: What kind of zoned uses?


Brandon Rogers: Single family detached homes, either in a subdivision plat or a site condominium development.


Chairman Harrington: In fact are parcels all over Novi used with that same zoning?


Brandon Rogers: Absolutely.


Chairman Harrington: With the affect of the rezoning as presented to us or an alternative to granting a special use permit as presented in affect maximize profits for the developers in this instance?


Brandon Rogers: I do not have the proper line or the amount of money that can or can’t be made.

Chairman Harrington: Your instinct tells you however......


Brandon Rogers: I think that getting 36 homes versus half that many or 10 homes; you might say that well we are getting twice as much profit but I will hasten to add that if you ended up building only 10 to 15 homes those homes may very well be as in the case of Turnberry Estates, worth double the value of homes in some of our R1 districts. So it ends up that maybe the profit is the same amount. A bigger home on a bigger lot.


Chairman Harrington: Does this Board have the power to rezone the property?


Brandon Rogers: No, it doesn’t. But, it does have the obligation to hear this case based on the Supreme’s Court decision in Paragon or I wouldn’t be here tonight and you wouldn’t be hearing it.

Chairman Harrington: Did you understand the Paragon decision to tell us that we have the power to rezone this property in contrast with making a final pact on special uses?


Brandon Rogers: No, you don’t have the power. The only one’s that can rezone property and change zoning matters are the City Council, the legislative body. But, you have to make a learned decision that this property can’t be used for the purpose for which is long term rezoned and Master Planned. You have to make a decision whether this would be out of character with the balance of development in Section 12. You have many issues to look at and also you have to listen to people and property owners who have stepped forward.


Chairman Harrington: I disagree only that we don’t have to find that it cannot be used, what we do have to judge is whether the evidence is sufficient to persuade us that it cannot be used.


Brandon Rogers: You have put that better than I.


Member Meyer: I feel that the sewer and City water is an issue here. I was wondering if you could further elaborate on that and would if the Walled Lake School is built would that automatically mean that they will be putting in City water thereby making it possible for all of the homes in the area to have the City water?


Ronald Hughes: As far as the school district is concerned, they purchased the property with the intent to of putting in a central field for their septic, a common septic field will be used by that City and they will call on an existing water line extending easterly on Thirteen Mile Road to accommodate the water.


Member Meyer: So, it seems like it is a critical factor as far as your development. It seems to me based upon the information that you have given us both in our packet and as well as your presentation, that you have the intention of somehow putting water and sewer into this development.

Ronald Hughes: Yes we are. We are bringing in the sewer and the water from Twelve Mile, excuse me the water will be coming from the easterly location.


Chairman Harrington: Who is we?


Ronald Hughes: The Vistas of Novi.


Chairman Harrington: That is Hughlan?


Ronald Hughes: Which Hughlan is the developer of the Vistas of Novi project. The water will be extended easterly; primarily whichever occurs first. Either the school gets developed first or if this property is developed we will go through the expense of bringing the water down to our site from the location of Thirteen and Decker. As it pertains to the sewer, the only sewer that is available in that whole quadrant there or primarily the whole easterly side of the Vistas and all along Meadowbrook Road on the that whole side, this sewer is currently called the Seeley District which is at Twelve Mile and Meadowbrook. That sewer will be extended into the development of the Vistas and will also accommodate this site. The cost of bringing in the sewer and the water will be borne by Hughlan/Meadowbrook not duly from the Vistas. This property, in our opinion, cannot be developed without sewer and water because of the soil conditions. Two thirds of our property is wet or wooded so the soil would require sewer to develop, contrary to other parts of the City. In addition, as we have gone through our various requests we have come up with a compromise and it is only a suggestion that in terms of the Turnberry property on Eight Mile Road; I would point out that Turnberry is basically able to use all of their land per density which we can’t. We can only use one third of our property for RA density which can actually be developed; where Turnberry could use all of their property for developing. In addition they have sewer, they have water, they have curbs and that can justify putting in the development and asking for the plots and demanding the type of houses that are going into Turnberry. If we were able to develop 100% of our site or close to it, like the Turnberry property, if we were able to have the same guide lines as Turnberry which is used time and time again as an example - we could develop the property under the current RA. But we can’t. We don’t have the soils. We are losing two thirds of our land. We also must go on record that when we purchased the property the long term zoning was not RA it was agricultural. ......I would ask the City how long is the cul-de-sac on Summit? How far can you go all the way north and you will find the problems 3 or 4 times larger than we are proposing in our development here.


Chairman Harrington: Is the developers of the Vistas Hughlan?


Ronald Hughes: Yes, sir.


Chairman Harrington: And you are, Hughlan/Meadowbrook and are not the same?


Ronald Hughes: No, sir. There is no physical partnership.


Chairman Harrington: Separate partnerships. You are Hughlan/Meadowbrook and they are Hughlan/Vistas. Is Hughlan the owner and developer of the Vistas?


Ronald Hughes: No that is not correct. Hughlan is the developer but not the owner of the property.

Chairman Harrington: And the other Hughlan is going to be bringing the sewers up for you to extend this parcel if there is a special use permit.


Ronald Hughes: We will share in the cost.


Chairman Harrington: Then Hughlan/Meadowbrook would benefit from this...


Ronald Hughes: They are also paying for their share.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: When was this property purchased?


Ronald Hughes: Approximately 1993 or 1994. It was definitely under agricultural zoning at the time of acquisition.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: The current definition on agricultural zoning is a holding pattern or is...


Ronald Hughes: Maybe Mr. Rogers can elaborate on that.


Chairman Harrington: I am sorry but I didn’t hear the end of Mr. Reinke’s question because you interrupted him. Will you finish your question, Mr. Reinke?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I don’t know of any definition of an agricultural zoning being a holding pattern for a different density or a different zoning. I came out here in 1974 with an agricultural district zoning which was changed over to an RA and that hasn’t changed. There was no intention to show that it was going to change or it was a holding pattern for anything else. I think that when you purchased this property especially in the early 90's and knowing that the zoning was there; I really don’t see any hardship situation.


Ronald Hughes are you done, sir?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Yes, sir.


Ronald Hughes: Are you also done, Mr. Harrington?


Chairman Harrington: No, I am not concluded by any means. But if you have a comment to make about Mr. Reinke’s comment, please make it.


Ronald Hughes: I would like to then acknowledge and apologize to Mr. Reinke.


Ronald Hughes: The first paragraph of the old definition of agricultural was very definitive that agricultural zoned land was zoned for agricultural as a hold position until such utilities were available to the site. That land which was stricken when the zoning agricultural was taken out of the City and all the parcels previously zoned agricultural were then changed to R1 and that was in the paragraph, the entire paragraph was amended and the holding pattern for utilities was not included in the R1 classification. Mr. Rogers can elaborate on that with much more detail than I can. We were very positive when we purchased the land because we reviewed the zoning and when utilities would come available to our site; but that was changed after we purchased the property. Now we have utilities and we only have one third of our property that can be developed and we are proposing that the developed not exceed RA density and feel that our request is very reasonable.


Member Brennan: You know, it is not really before us or part of your case; the issue of extending the cul-de-sac to the rest of the property satisfies some of your problems.


Ronald Hughes: Yes, you could resolve some of it but we understand that we will have to go back through the appropriate Planning process and City Council approvals if another variance is needed and then follow those guidelines.


Member Brennan: As I understand what Mr. Rogers has said, you need to go back to Council to get a change in the scope of the cul-de-sac rule that would allow you to get back to that section and then develop under RA.


Ronald Hughes: We would go back to Council for consideration for the cul-de-sac but that doesn’t fall under RA. We still require sewer and water. There is still a minimal density on the 40 acres. It would not justify putting in the sewer and water unless we had the consideration of the use. We are asking for the density overall to stay the same but to use the R1 guideline under a special use.


Member Brennan: We have only one consideration and that is: "Is this property buildable under RA"?


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,





Discussion on motion:


Chairman Harrington: I will support and vote in favor of the motion. A significant portion of my vote is predicated on the materials submitted in support of the application. With the exception of presenting excerpts which may not have been presented by the petitioner, and may just be a part of our official record, that deals with discussions of other various Boards. With the exceptions of excerpts of City Council and Planning Commission discussion and the like the only thing that I see in front of me and contained in the file is that the applicant feels that it has to be here because of the Paragon Property decision and they feel that they have to exhaust their administrative remedies and bearing in mind my initial comment that we do not have the power to rezone, what I have listened for is some evidence of hardship or translated into that it cannot be developed in other fashions as contemplated under the ordinance. I haven’t heard a single fact suggested by the petitioner indicating that it cannot be developed as contemplated under the ordinance. I see renderings and green diagrams. I have not seen anything by the way of expert testimony. I have not seen anything by the way of an affidavit. I have not seen anything by the way of land use studies. I have not seen a single shred of information that would support the fact that it cannot be developed as contemplated under the ordinance. It is not the burden of this Board to prove that it cannot be developed. It is the burden of the petitioner by preponderance of the evidence to establish that credibly. This is a significant case and I would think that we would have received significant information in that regards. I don’t have a single fact in front of me other than the argument of the petition. Those are my comments in support of Mr. Brennan’s motions.


Chairman Harrington: Are there any other Board comments?


Member Bauer: I agree.


ROLL CALL: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-086 file by Sean Foran

Sean Foran is requesting a variance to keep an existing fence in the required front yard area (corner lot) for property located at 29642 English Way in the Woods of Novi Subdivision.


Sean Foran was present and duly sworn.


Sean Foran: Last November my wife and I purchased a home at 29642 English Way. When we purchased the home it was on the corner lot of English Way, Decker and Brookshire Blvd. When we purchased the home there was a fence around the home. One of the concerns that we had was for the safety of our family. In May of this year Steve Bolden, the treasurer of the home association, called my wife and asked that they were going to be doing some landscaping around the corner and they asked to take down the fence.


Sean Foran: When we bought the house the fence was on the property and we were told it was up to us to maintain that fence. He asked us to pay to have the fence taken down and we told him that we would like to keep it up for safety reasons and privacy. The next day when we came home from work a part of it was taken out. We called up and he said that the part that was taken was not on our property and that it was owned by the homeowner’s association and they had the right to take that part of the fence down. A week later they asked if we still wanted the rest of the fence taken down. We showed them the part that lead to the front of the house and we said that they could take that part down. The next day when we came home they had taken the part that we wanted left up and left the part that was to be taken down. That night there was a homeowner’s association meeting and it was decided upon that the homeowner’s association would pay to put it back up. That was done sometime in July. Before the fence was put back up, the President of the association called the City to see if we could put up the fence and was told there was not a problem and I believe that you have a letter from her stating that. Later in July I received a letter from the City of Novi that we were in violation of Article 25 and that we were not allowed a fence on that side.


Chairman Harrington: Is that why you are here? Because you want to keep your fence?


Sean Foran: Yes, we do. We feel that when we bought the house we read the association by laws and it said to have a fence in the neighborhood it had to be approved by the association. Since the house was built 5 years, the fence was up 5 years. So, I feel that I should be able to have the fence.

Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 28 letters sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of two written responses received, both voicing approval. Copies in file.




Jeff Densel: I live in the Woods of Novi Subdivision. I replaced Steve as treasurer of the board. I came in on this situation in the transition period. I support the fence to be there. It was taken down by mistake. We did what we were supposed to do as far as the association. We replaced the fence. I approve that it should stay up and I hope that the Board see it that way.




Don Saven: One concern that I do have is the 25 foot corner clearance requirement. Is that portion of the fence that you have taken down and moved it towards the front of your house as I understand. Was that including the portion that was closer to the front yard or the street?


Sean Foran: It was closer to the front of the house.


Don Saven: We try to maintain and we don’t want to interfere with the corner clearance on the property so that you can see vehicles.


Sean Foran: I would have to say it is about 35 or 40 feet away.


Chairman Harrington: That is a pretty short fence, isn’t it?


Sean Foran: Yes, it about 3 1/2 feet or 4 feet.


Chairman Harrington: Is the affect of the fence as I recall, like slats and you can see in between or right through.


Sean Foran: Yes, a picket fence.


Chairman Harrington: Is the affect of the fence to some degree to prevent bicyclists or pedestrians from making a short cut through your lot because you are right on the corner at the beginning of the sub?


Sean Foran: Actually they still do that. It is just more for privacy in the backyard.


Chairman Harrington: I have one other question for you. Why is the fence only on that portion of the property and not all along the property?


Sean Foran: If you are referring to the back, by Decker, apparently that part of the fence was on the commons area and that is not mine.


Moved by Member Bauer,


Seconded by Member Brennan,





Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (1) Reinke Motion Carried


Case No. 96-090 and Case No. 96-091 filed by Tech Express, representing Marathon Oil Co.


Case No. 96-090, Tech Express, representing Marathon Oil Co. is requesting a .30 acre variance and curb cut variances to relocate and rebuild an existing automobile service station facility on a .70 acre site at the corner of Fourteen Mile and Haggerty Roads.


Ted Bluhm was present and duly sworn.


Ted Bluhm: We are proposing to rebuild an existing Speedway Service Station which we own at the intersection of Fourteen Mile and Haggerty Roads. In our development or layout of the site, we have worked with the City particularly the departments of traffic and Planning to develop a layout which would best suite what we are trying to achieve in the rebuilding of this site. Tearing down the existing facility and in the course of that we have discovered that we do need some variances. One of those is being the size of the site which is .7 acres and the City requires that a service station zoning classification be one acre. Not knowing the entire history of the site, I presume that when we originally built we were in compliance with whatever the requirements were at that time and if it was a larger site in size based on prior history with the City and with other counties in this particular area the size of the site may have been reduced due to decreases in the right of way and streets in this intersection. As far as regarding the size of the site, we have investigated additional property and it is not available for our use and it is also not zoned for our use either.


Ted Bluhm: Regarding our variance on the curb cut, the requirement of the City is that we have a distance of 100 feet from the intersection of our property line and the intersection streets to the beginning of our curb cut. In our meetings with Planning and zoning we reviewed this particular area in detail and determined that our options were, in order to make this work, was to either get a variance for our building setback which there is a 15 foot building setback behind our building and with our building sitting way out at this time or to move the drive up at least 100 feet which would cause the drive to be intersecting with the side of our building which wasn’t going to be fit for traffic or safety.


Ted Bluhm: The things that we have done to try to make this better for all parties, is particularly working with traffic we have agreed that left turns would be prohibited from coming into the site which would hopefully reduce any problems which we would have from having this particular curb cut and being close to that intersection. So we wouldn’t have any stacking going back into the intersection since the left turns would be prohibited. That is the basis for the variance request regarding that.


Ted Bluhm: Since it could be rather lengthy, I would suggest that we take care of this particular item before we go onto signs. I would be happy to answer any questions.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 5 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven: There is a note in your file that a condition of the exists as it exists now is 4 driveways and they will be reducing it down to 2, which will be good. That approval is in your file of recommendations.


Chairman Harrington inquired of Don Saven: Is it your opinion that this redevelopment will increase the ultimate health and safety?


Don Saven: Without a doubt.


Chairman Harrington: Regarding the no left turn issue, is there going to be a no left turn condition on Haggerty Road for traffic?


Ted Bluhm: I do not believe that there is a no left turn prohibition there. That was discussed when we got our preliminary site plan approval and I believe at that time it was addressed to traffic and at that time they did not feel it was problem with left turns coming from that side of the street. This is a stacking area and there are left turns onto Fourteen Mile Road anyway.


Member Brennan: It sure is nice to see old gas stations fixed up. There is a problem with one of your sites that is common with just about every gas station that I have seen in the last couple of years. It seems like the petitioner has done a nice job with what he has.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-091 A, B & C


Tech express, representing Marathon Oil Co., is requesting A) a ground pole sign (with pricing information) 9/6" x 5' 1 7/16" (50 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 6' 3 7/16" located on Haggerty Road; B) a ground pole sign (with pricing information) 9'6" x 5'1 7/16" (50 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 6'3 7/16" located on Fourteen Mile Rd., C) a wall sign 8' x 5' (40 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "STARVIN MARVIN", for property located at 31275 Haggerty Rd.


Ted Bluhm: The other variances we seek are regarding the sign ordinances. They will probably require more detail and be more cumbersome to get through.


Ted Bluhm: The first thing that I would like to address would be that fact that we are requesting 2 ground signs at this location. Both of them will be away from the intersection. One towards the back of the property along Fourteen Mile Road and the other along the back of the property along Haggerty Road. One of the reasons that we sought to do this is to reduce congestion at this particular intersection which is the intersection of 4 townships. At this intersection there is already a utility pole, guide wires and it also has a telephone box on it, there is a street sign at this intersection and there is also a sign marking an underground high pressure gas line which runs along Haggerty Road. We thought that we could relieve some of the congestion at that site particularly with the congestion of traffic by having 2 signs placed further back on the site to help improve the clear vision which would make it likely to see the 25 foot clear vision as described in the ordinance.


Ted Bluhm: One of the other reasons that we looked at this is because of the unique characteristics of this site. As you approach this site from the south coming up Haggerty Road, it is going up hill. That has never presented a problem in the past because we have nice big signs on 20 foot poles on that site, so they can be seen when you are coming up the hill. Based on prior experiences in Novi I realized that there is not a great love for tall signs anywhere, so our people said "let’s get rid of it".


But we need to make this site work. We determined that by placing a sign at the end of the property near where the top of the hill is, that people approaching this intersection from the south would be able to identify the service station site. We determined that by putting the sign there it would help people to identify that they were coming upon a service station and then likewise we would need one here (pointing to a board) so that people could see it from the Fourteen Mile Road site. Along with that it becomes a bit of a traffic problem too, because people need to identify that if they are coming up onto a Speedway Station with this curb cut on Haggerty Road being that far towards the end of the site and coming up the hill, when they realize that the Speedway Station is there and they want to turn in the sign that appears as they are coming up the hill they may be to far up the road to commit to turn into this intersection or to turn into the curb cut; so they proceed to the intersection and make a left turn to come towards our site and are prohibited to coming into the site because there is "No Left Turn" at that side. We feel that it is important that people traveling north bound on Haggerty Road identify this as a Speedway Service Station as they are coming up the hill so that they can make a decision to get to the left lane and turn into the site. This would stop the problems resulting when people try to change lanes to get over on a relatively heavily traveled road.


Ted Bluhm: Also having 2 signs which are 50 square feet, which we are asking for, only allows us to advertise 3 products and we will be selling 5 products on this site; regular unleaded, premium unleaded, unleaded mid-grade, diesel and kerosene. There are people who ask for those products in this area.


Chairman Harrington: All of that will be on the sign, too?


Ted Bluhm: Not necessarily, it would depend on the marketing decision; but normally on a site like this we like to put up a 64 square foot sign or even larger that we can advertise all of our products. We have worked with the art department based on what we know or what we try to determine what your concerns are and we try to reach a compromise.


Ted Bluhm: Part of what we are asking for in the sign variance is regarding the height of the sign. I believe that the ordinance permits a 5 foot tall sign. Our 50 square foot sign with a brick base, which we will be putting in a brick building at this location, so we try to coordinate with that with the brick bases on our signs. The sign itself is 5 feet tall, so with the addition of our brick base that makes the height about 6'4". This would result in a 1'4" variance that we are asking.


Chairman Harrington: Tell us about Starvin Marvin.


Ted Bluhm: That was coming up and is next on my notes. The Starvin Marvin sign is the designation for the "c" store operation or convenience store which is located in the building. In fact some of our places in the south people don’t recognize the Speedway name they say that they are going to the Starvin Marvin. We don’t regard that sign as street recognition, that sign is really intended for people who are already on our site to recognize the fact that we have a convenience store operation there. In places like Novi, which are largely upscale, we have made a commitment to put readers or dispensers so that the person has the option of taking their credit card and paying for their gasoline there and driving off if they want and we regard the sign on the building as an opportunity to inform people that we have a convenience store operation there and that we would like them to come inside. Chairman Harrington: Tell us what you anticipate will fill in the 4 lines that are blank on our rendering. You have identification for Starvin Marvin, are you going to have daily or weekly specials there?


Ted Bluhm: That is typically what we would place on there. Advertising does attract other people into the store. The way that we have it set up we regard the gasoline and the service store as accessory uses and regard the reader board up there with the Starvin Marvin name on it as almost a separate line of business versus the gasoline. Along with that and based upon what we are allowed we have a 75 foot long building and if I interpret the ordinance correctly we would be allowed a 37 1/2 square foot sign on the building if we choose to have a building sign only. So we are asking for a 2 and 1/2 square foot variance on the size of the sign which is really nominal. The basic argument is that is the size of the sign that we keep in our warehouse and could put up.


Ted Bluhm: The other thing I would want to talk about is the height and size of the roadway signs and I have already mentioned why we would like the height. For the visibility and also because we do want to put a brick base on the sign and that results in the height. The size is 50 square foot and we would like to have the signs away from the intersection. We felt that we would increase the visibility by having a slightly larger sign at those locations to help with the traffic which is traveling to the westbound on Fourteen Mile Road and particularly the southbound on Haggerty, so that they can see that sign before they get to the intersection.


Ted Bluhm: I believe that covers just about everything, unless I missed a point. I will be happy to answer any questions that you have or elaborate on anything that I may have confused anyone on.

Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 5 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: Keep in mind that I am the one who made the motion on the lot size and the curb cuts. I never would have thought that you could convince me that you need 2 ground signs, but congratulations; I think that there is some merit putting the signs where you have suggested. They probably will do a better job of identifying the gas station early at a very busy intersection. There is probably some merit as well for the wall sign being that in some respects it is a separate business from the gas station. However, I see no reason why you can’t come closer the height limitations of the ordinance. You could still maintain a brick base and have only one layer instead of two and then you would cut 8 inches out and you would be much closer to the height and you would only need a 5 inch variance instead of a foot and 3 inches. Square footage I don’t have a huge objection to. We are really trying to maintain some consistency with gas station signage and I would like to see you get closer to the ordinance.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: There is very few time that I disagree with Mr. Brennan but .......There is no reason for 2 signs whatsoever. That is an intersection that has a lot of visibility. You can tell it is a gas station when you are coming up north on Haggerty Road. I have traveled that area for a number of years and the idea of putting a second sign along there at that point serves no real purpose other than advertising. The wall sign - the building itself tells us that it is a convenience store. It has no significance other than the changeable copy on special sales. I feel that the petitioner can live within the ordinance for our signs.


Chairman Harrington: I am not only literally between Mr. Reinke and Mr. Brennan I am between them on these issues and I will tell you what my thoughts are. I take a very conservative view of height variances; I think that height variances should be granted only when there is a clear showing that it is required well beyond marketing and advertising. I haven’t heard anything yet other than we think that this 1 foot 3 inches would make it more visible; which it probably will. But I haven’t heard why it is important for the health, safety or welfare. I haven’t heard that if you don’t have it there will be traffic hazards or the like. In the absence of that kind of showing it is a clear market issue, I am not persuaded on a height variance. The fact that bigger is better is not the choice of this Board Member, and I only speak for myself. The Starvin Marvin - I am somewhat persuaded and perhaps that has an ID in the south and I am not adverse that it is a second business but I am absolutely opposed to advertising daily or weekly specials which is what our ordinance is designed to prevent. I don’t have a problem with Starvin Marvin Convenience Store which would draw people on the site. So, I think that I am between Frank and Vern on that issue and under no circumstances would I agree to have a sign list the daily specials and the like. I think it is contrary to the spirit of the ordinance. The 2 signs, I don’t know. I would like more information on whether or not a diagonal sign; perhaps a single diagonal sign, at the intersection of Fourteen and Haggerty; and that one might have to be taller in order to effectively get the message across of "here we are", "here is what we are doing". I am not sure that I am persuaded that you need that extra room to show unleaded, plus unleaded, and premium with the price. I don’t think that is what drivers necessarily need to be attracted to when they are at the intersection. I think that is a marketing decision. So, I am sort of on the middle as to whether you do or don’t need 2 signs. I would be interested in what your marketing people would tell you and what you might bring back to this Board on that issue; which is that it really can’t be done because of the presence of this on site or that on site. Mr. Reinke believes that one sign is fine and would do the job and I am starting to agree with him on that one; but I would like to hear some input from marketing or design people as to why it is not feasible. I cannot cast my vote unless I get some additional input, so maybe you would like to come back next month with more information.


Member Bauer: I agree and would go along with that.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: From what I see right now, I don’t see any support for the additional signage.

Member Brennan: As a point of clarification, you have a list that you read off of the what is on the corner and that is what kind of led me to support your idea. I hate using other gas stations as a reference, but we have had corner lot gas stations where we had a diagonal sign that served the purpose. You specifically listed quite a bit of stuff that is there. Could you read that back again?


Ted Bluhm: Sure and at some point too, could I address some of the other comments that were made.

The things that I know that are out there is a utility pole that has a large telephone box on it and that pole has guide wires coming off to support it, there is the street sign out there to identify the intersection, and there is a small sign in the right of way that addresses the fact that there is a buried high pressure gas line at the intersection.


Chairman Harrington: Would you like to have the opportunity to confer with your principals and your own support staff as to whether or not a single sign could work for you within the size set forth in the ordinance or perhaps something larger that could do the trick for you?


Ted Bluhm: If possible I would like to try to address that tonight because I believe that I represent the contingents of our marketing people there and perhaps I could clarify some of the points that I made and answer any questions.


Chairman Harrington: Did you have more information that you could give us on the issues or do you have additional comments based upon our discussion?


Ted Bluhm: I guess I have a couple of comments particularly regarding the fact that we would have 2 signs there. Again one is the identification of the site as you are coming up the hill to identify it as a service station, it does appear to be somewhat of a marketing issue but the identification of where you are going and making that decision is quite important. We thought the fact that getting it away from a relatively congested intersection and an intersection which is a gateway to this particular municipality that perhaps having a sign on either end out there would be preferable than to have this intersection and the first thing that you see when you enter Novi is a sign for Speedway and that it would be less congested and if you have the visibility I address the fact that anyone who makes the decision to enter our site coming up the hill for traffic reasons or traffic safety issues to commit to get into the left hand lane before they get to that particular entrance and it is prohibited to make a left turn into the intersection to enter the site at this particular curb cut.


Ted Bluhm: As far as the pricing it is desirable for us to advertise more than our standard 3 products, but it is not imperative in order to do that. We can certainly alternate, but at each sign we would like to be able to advertise the principal products which we do have. Service stations are somewhat unique because it is at least customary to post the price of the 3 grades of gasoline. It is a reasonable request to post those on signs. The height of the sign, again, is based on somewhat limited visibility. As you are coming up the hill and the fact that there is a terrain to the property just to the south of our site. I believe that in the package you have or else I may have it shows what the sign looks like. It is a 50 square foot ground sign with brick and I believe that placing the bottom of the sign approximately 1 foot 4 inches or 3 inches from the surrounding terrain is not an exceptional thing to ask. It probably wouldn’t be much of a problem if we only had the word Speedway, but again it is reasonable and customary to post prices on that sign.


Ted Bluhm: As far as the Starvin Marvin sign one thing that I could propose so that we could have the Starvin Marvin recognition it could be possible to have a smaller sign with no reader board.


Tape inaudible.............................


Chairman Harrington: We can’t redesign the signs.............tape inaudible..............


Ted Bluhm: If the Board is felt comfortable, or if not; then maybe the sign that we have up there could be moved upon .......tape inaudible....maybe a single sign, taller and larger. We have tried to compromise our needs for the development of the City. We felt that this was the best that we could offer at this time with these signs.



Chairman Harrington: Well, you don’t get turned down...tape inaudible......Maybe a single sign could work, you could come back next month with the information, that is what I suggest.


Member Meyer: I just wanted to say that I think that the "chair’s" suggestion really could be to your advantage to come back next month. I personally could only vote for the one sign and I just wanted to say that before we take the vote. It seems to me that you have made an excellent presentation in so many ways but there seems to be a road block here as to the 2 signs and the identity of the convenience store. I would only cast my vote for the Starvin Marvin sign without anything else on it.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I just did a quick survey and I come up with about 7 gas stations on major intersections. Grand River & Novi Road, Novi Road & Twelve Mile, Twelve Mile & Haggerty, Grand River & Haggerty and all have one sign. I see no reason for 2 signs. I see no reason for the Starvin Marvin sign. All you have to do is to take a look at the building and you know that it is a convenience store.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Meyer,





Chairman Harrington: "A" and "B" as designated by Mr. Reinke would be the request for the 2 signs which would be the indication of service and we would include in the denial as the motion was presented the additional height variance


Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Chairman Harrington: Your request for variances related to the 2 signs and the height variance have been denied.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Meyer,





Roll Call: Yeas (3) Nays (2) Harrington, Brennan


Chairman Harrington: The motion to deny the Starvin Marvin sign has not passed with a 3/2 vote on that motion.


Member Brennan: It is unfortunate that the petitioner didn’t take the suggestion and come back next month. We could vote again, I suppose and come up with a very similar vote. I really don’t know what to do at this point in time.


Chairman Harrington: Here is my suggestion and I am sort of thinking ahead. When I cast my dissent to the motion I thought that there could be an identification to the Starvin Marvin but without the rendering and the additional information as presented; but we haven’t seen a substitute and I was anticipating that a substitute would be before us and it is not. So that the actual vote and the actual variance request is the rendering as proposed with the 4 individual lines that would indicated daily specials, which I am absolutely opposed to, so I am prepared to change my vote based on that being what is proposed. Mr. Reinke, if you would like to renew your motion I am prepared to vote.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Meyer,





Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (1) Brennan Motion Carried


Case No. 96-065 filed by Beacon Sign Company, representing Extended Stay America

Continuation of case filed by Beacon Sign Company, representing Extended Stay America, requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 9'3" x 4'3 1/2" (39.5 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "EXTENDED STAY AMERICA", to be placed at 21555 Haggerty Road.


Terrance Aulch was present and duly sworn.


Terrance Aulch: I am sure that you are aware that I was here before you a little over a month ago and at that time it was decided that we would install the monument sign for the Board’s observation and so that the Board could see whether there was a hardship on visiblity for northbound traffic on Haggerty Road. The sign was installed. There is a dirt hill in front of the sign as you drive down Haggerty Road.


Chairman Harrington: When was it installed?


Terrance Aulch: It was installed at the beginning of this month. There is a problem with the dirt hill in the front of the sign which might hinder. But I also feel that traveling north on Haggerty Road you can see that you are traveling up hill and that an area where the road goes from 2 lanes to 1 lane, and with traveling down hill and the fact that you are going from the 2 lanes to the 1 lane and also the fact of the setbacks of the sign it hinders your ability to see the sign and the driveway and what the business it. If we did put the wall sign in the area indicated on the building, it would make this building very clear traveling northbound on Haggerty Road and that way alleviating any visibility problems and traffic problems from people having to try to stop and turn into the Extended Stay driveway.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Driving by there, I agree your landscaping doesn’t help the sign. The dirt pile and everything precludes you from seeing what is there. You can see it of course going southbound with no problem at all. Northbound with the traffic, etc. and the amount of landscaping that needs to be finished around there you could get a better presentation than what is shown. I am not prepared to vote for a wall sign at this point in time. What I am prepared to do is to table this for another month. I would like to see the landscaping finished. I would like to see a piece of plywood or something on the wall of the size and where you want the sign.


Terrance Aulch: Would a banner be allowed?

Vice-Chairman Reinke: A banner would be fine. Something to show that size, what you want in conjunction with the sign that is there now. What we are really looking at is the whole thing at one time.


Chairman Harrington: I concur with Mr. Reinke. Particularly with the ground sign, I drove by twice. South and north (the troubled area) and I didn’t see it either time. Usually I can find it at least the second time around. So, I would like to have another look at it and also see the landscaping. I would agree to table this too.


Chairman Harrington: Board Members, by acclamation all in favor to table. All yeas. Case tabled to the November Meeting.



Case No. 96-080 filed by the Chrysler Corporation/Peter Gentelia


Continuation of case filed by Peter Gentelia, representing Chrysler Corporation requesting A) a variance to place an 8'1" x 12'1" (97.67 sw. ft.) ground pole sign with the verbiage ‘CHRYSLER PLYMOUTH JEEP/EAGLE plus logo", with height from grade to be 22 feet.


Tim Stoepker was present.


Chairman Harrington: As you will recall, we received a very thorough and extended presentation last month and if you could address yourself to any new matter which you feel is pertinent to the Board’s decision this evening.


Tim Stoepker: After we went to the Board last time, we were concerned with the traffic safety standpoint and at what point in time would it be safe to visibly pick up a sign going specifically south to north. As you know, we originally applied for an application of 22 feet and we would like to amend that application by reducing the height of the sign to 18 feet which is what the sign now is on site and is there at this time.


Chairman Harrington: Before you proceed, let me ask you this question. Is the final sign as proposed, will that substantially be the same configuration as the mock up that was present on site? In other words that sign will not turn into a pole sign, but will basically be a rectangular sign as depicted?


Tim Stoepker: That is correct.


Tim Stoepker: What we did was to try to take a unique approach and see what is the lowest that we could go and still be able to see the sign. So we started at a height of 15 feet because of the multiple businesses at that location and we started our test from that standpoint.


A video was shown to the Board. The video showed the sign at different heights and speeds in a car. Standing and looking at it and then from cars going south to north and then north to south and what we ascertain after doing it at a height of 15 feet the visibility impact on the passerby in the automobile is significant and you just cannot pick up the sign at a height of 15 feet. At a height of 18 feet it is still probably not adequate, but it is more adequate. The only thing being demonstrated is that you can compare from the same photo shot you can just pick up the penestar, and then the penestar plus Chrysler and when you are further down you just pick up the penestar and from here you only pick up the top of the sign. So that gives you an indication with the same photos that were taken. Then what was done is that we raised the sign 3 feet higher at an increment, instead of going up to the 22 feet and saying at what point in time can we visibly see the sign from south to north on Haggerty. The other issue had to do with setback. There is a retaining wall there and the sign can’t go any further back and the other complication is that there is a utility line that runs right down the middle of the setback at that location which impacts where we can place the sign. The approximate speed was 25 to 30 miles per hour. We did not go 45, because you really can’t do that speed in that area. At either the 15 or the 18 feet it was difficult to read, and still does not give the passerby the time to make a reaction. We believe that the colors of the sign are not glaring. You know that Chrysler has changed it’s signs. The other issue is that thee is not other signs cluttering the area. There are no other ground or poles signs down Haggerty Road from Ten Mile to Grand River that I am aware of on that side of the street. We will not be over-cluttering the area as this will be the only sign at this location. We really tried our best to start off with he lower sign, but it just cannot be picked up quickly and safely as you can see in the demonstration. Even at the height of 18 feet with the size sign that we are asking it is even difficult at that point to make out the copy. To give you further indication that it is really the intent and not just marketing of the dealership the name of the dealer is not on the sign, just the Chrysler products. So the purpose is to safely identify this particular location.


Tim Stoepker: The dealership has tried to do business at that area for a long time without any identification from the roadway. The original intent was to have 4 dealerships in the mall at that location and then have an identification sign on the street at a height of 15 feet which would be permitted.


Tim Stoepker: We believe that the height of 18 feet and the size that we are asking for allows for a safe flow of traffic, a safe pick up of the sign. We are not asking to tower over the landscape. We are only asking for the minimum.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: I drove by probably 4 times in the last 3 days. I drove it from both directions. My first attempt was coming down Grand River and I made a right hand turn on Haggerty and this thing just about hit me in the side of the face. I was looking for flags and not a sign. There is nice clear visibility heading south. I will concede as I did last month, with the berming and the hill that there is some site limitations. I guess the question is what is palatable? We have moved from 22 to 18.

We are really looking at a range from 5 to 18. Is 13 acceptable? Is 18 acceptable? I guess that I am convinced that you cannot go to a 5 foot sign. I might concede that 18 satisfies your needs, but the sign is still 3 time the size............I would love to see the sign at 5 foot, but I am convinced that you need something taller. I would be reluctantly agreeable.


Member Bauer: I go by it every day. From the south side of Ten Mile and Haggerty I can see that sign. I don’t know if 18 feet is the right amount or not. With these pictures here, you are never going to see the sign.


Tim Stoepker: The real purpose of the video was to help you freeze in your mind that there is a significant problem.


Member Bauer: tape inaudible......should the sign be 15 feet? Can it be 14 feet?


Tim Stoepker: It has been at 18 feet for the last week at this location.


Member Meyer: To be very frank, I was very surprised to see an actual sign as I was looking for flags as well. I do wonder, do you need to have this size of sign; because that size of the sign seems that even at 18 feet is an awful big sign. I am wondering if there is any way that there could be a smaller sign within the ordinance of 15 feet. You could have identification and not have all that is on the sign.


Tim Stoepker: We did look at that. The problem is that there not much space to work with there. If you make the sign smaller with the setbacks at that location you still can’t pick it up. It is just not the height problem it is also a lateral viewing problem. That is what we have tried to demonstrate with the video. The way that Haggerty is at that location and the hill is at that location it is not only that you can see angle view it is also the view that going up this hill with semi’s and other cars coming at you the video clearly demonstrated that even at the copy size that we are asking for and even at the height of 18 feet because of the slope of the hill when a car or a truck goes by you still can’t see the sign. We have tried to minimize the amount of copy as much as we could, go over the height as much as we could and yet safely pick up the sign. I think that one of the concerns from an aesthetics standpoint and I know that I have been before this Board before on signs; does the sign detract from the view; "no" and the sign doesn’t loom out and grab you as a large sign would because of the nature of the topography at that location. The sign doesn’t sit above the landscape, it doesn’t sit above the trees, it doesn’t sit above the horizon and look down. It is below and that is what you see.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Something is needed there and that is probably one of the biggest rises in a short area that we have in the City. I would like to see it be 5 foot, but it just won’t work. Twenty-two feet is excessive and 15 to 18 foot is in the working range. I think I would leave the size of the sign as it is but put it at a 15 foot maximum height. That would be sufficient to give identification.

Chairman Harrington: There is no sign that I have ever driven by 9 times as long as I have sat on this Board, trying to figure out the right answer. We requested and you agreed that we would adjourn this for a month and go take a look at the actual physical rendering and I think that what you are hearing from the Board is their own physical reaction, not covered by video or photographs. I drove by there 9 times. The last 4 times that I drove by there coming from south to north I became firmly convinced that the 18 foot sign is not acceptable. I think proper range for that size is in the 14 to 15 foot range and even then I shudder because of the excess over what the Novi code permits under virtually all circumstances except for exceptional hardships. During those times that I was driving by and I thought about the hardships presented here. We have a hardship presented by one particular angle of traffic coming from one particular direction. There is no hardship for traffic heading westbound on Ten Mile Road. There is no hardship for traffic heading westbound on Grand River. Similarly eastbound on Grand River. Similarly southbound on Haggerty. There is an obstruction which is there and it is the same obstruction that the Infiniti dealer has, the same obstruction that the gas station has and I think that if they were coming in and saying well we need people to be able to see us, we are 300 yards down the road and not 200. I don’t think that they would get much relief from us. The geography is I assume the same now that it was when the dealership was bought, with the hill and I believe that was there when you bought it. I do believe that some relief should be granted under these circumstances. The evidence that you have presented to have some relief granted is compelling. I can’t agree with an 18 foot sign and I will not vote for an 18 foot sign. I think that the proper range as I look at that sign, is in the 14 to 15 foot range and I can support that and even then I share Mr. Brennan’s feelings; that is double or triple what we do here. But, from that one view there is a problem. Not from the others. But from that one single view. I am not sure that we ought to be erecting signs 18 foot high for every hill in Novi. I don’t think that is right. I don’t think it is proper. I don’t think that the Board has ever done it. You have done a good job persuading me last month and this month again that some relief is in order. I am with the Board to the extent that we should do some relief; I will not support an 18 foot sign.


Member Bauer: I would agree with 14 to 15 foot sign.


Tim Stoepker: I think that I have pretty well stated our position. I think that there is a significant difference between 15 and 18 or 18 and 22. But.....(tape inaudible)


Chairman Harrington: My view is, I don’t think that there is a material difference between the 14 and the 18 foot in terms of visibility or anything else only in a theoretical sense. I looked at the sign and I looked at it 9 times, I said to myself "is that sign the minimum necessary to do the job?" and it is to large. I thought that it was 3 to 4 feet to large. I think that perhaps the majority of the Board agrees with me that the 14 to 15 foot range will do the job for you. It won’t cure it.


Member Brennan: The petitioner has the option of modifying his request if it is less obtrusive on the variance?


Chairman Harrington: Of course.


Tim Stoepker: Based upon the discussion of the Board, I will modify the request to 15 foot with the square footage as indicated.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-082 filed by Talking Books, Nicholas Saad


Nicholas Saad, representing Talking Books, is requesting a variance to allow a 52" x 20" (7.2 sq. ft.) sign to be added between the supports of the business center sign at the Pine Ridge Center on Novi Road.


Nicholas Saad was present and duly sworn.


Nicholas Saad: I, my wife and daughter own the Talking Book store in the Pine Ridge Center. It is a new business. We opened our doors on March 12th of this year. But it is also new type of business, it is books on tape. So hence we don’t have a lot of customers that are saying "Gee, we have to go get a book on tape" and look in the yellow pages to call us up as other businesses in that mall are. Tubby’s Submarine Shop you look for a restaurant and you can find Tubby’s. So we have done a great deal of advertising. We have sent direct mail to all of the homes in Novi and a good number in Northville, about 50,000. We have advertised on radio. We have advertised in the Novi News. Yet our business does not seem to be picking up as it should comparing us to the 2 other company stores that are located on the same basic type of busy street like Novi Road is. One of the criteria for us to locate where we did was the traffic count up and down Novi Road and the demographics of the population living in Novi.

Nicholas Saad: Several months ago, I considered objectively the zoning ordinance and came to see the enforcement officer to see if we could put a sign up because we became aware that despite all of the advertising that we have done that we just weren’t tapping the heavy traffic from up and down Novi Road because they couldn’t see us. Our store faces south so the only visibility that we have is traffic heading north on Novi Road. After we moved in the Metro Cell corner put up landscaping which seemed to block the view of our signs and we are missing the traffic that is coming up and down Novi Road. They don’t know that we are there. We are down in a hole, if you are familiar with that shopping mall. The grade level stores are probably 15 feet below the grade level.


Nicholas Saad: We need the sign for visibility as our business is not doing well.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 14 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: I assume that you have approached the Pine Ridge Shopping Center with this proposal?


Nicholas Saad: Yes, I have.


Member Brennan: What will keep any other store from that whole concept and coming before the Board and asking for the same thing?


Nicholas Saad: Probably nothing, but the one’s that are in there seem to be doing well, or the one’s who have stayed there.


Chairman Harrington: Even the Video Giant, who came for a bigger sign?


Nicholas Saad: He tells me that he is doing better than he expected. And we are not doing what we expected. There are other stores in the chain that we compare to.


Member Meyer: Is this a question of marketing or a question of hardship?


Nicholas Saad: It is a question of hardship. If we don’t improve the business within a year’s time, we aren’t going to be there.


Member Meyer: So the hardship is that the people don’t know that you are there. So you feel a bigger sign will get them in.


Nicholas Saad: It is not a bigger. It is a matter of putting a sign between the legs of the mall sign out closer to Novi Road sot that the traffic going north and south can see us. They can’t see our sign now on the facade of our building because of the foliage on the trees and the added trees at Metro Cell. When I stop at Ten Mile and Novi Road I know what the sign says on the building, but if I didn’t know it I couldn’t read it because of the limitation in the square footage that is allowed for that sign.


Member Meyer: Are there any other signs regarding your business at the Ten Mile an Novi area to notify people that your business is there?


Nicholas Saad: Only the facade sign on the building. I think that I submitted a photograph with the request. Across the street at the Collex, there is a pylon and it does have the businesses that are located in that mall on it and they are built much closer to the road. It would be a simple sign with a white background and blue letters saying Talking Books.


Member Meyer: And you believe that will do the trick?


Nicholas Saad: I am certainly hopeful and I know that we could be seen a lot better.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I understand the hardship that the petitioner has with the sign. I have a problem with what could turn into being a bill board sign and we have to be realistic.


Chairman Harrington: I concur with Mr. Reinke. I would point out that I was troubled with the Collex sign and the various additions to it perceiving that they may lead to additional requests. I was struck when the Board approved that particular sign of the unique locations from those businesses set back. I would disagree that from a traffic perspective because I am the Ten Mile and Novi Road intersection and I know where your store is and I see your sign and it is plainly visible from the direction of where you can see it going from the south and the north or heading westbound on Ten Mile Road. Either the existing facade sign is visible or when you make a right turn, it is there and visible. I would not be able to distinguish your particular need which is one of finance and marketing from any other tenant in that shopping center who would come before us. That troubles me. We do not approve facade signs except under extraordinary circumstances. I agree with Mr. Reinke, I empathize with your financial hardship; but I am not sure that grounds have been presented that our ordinance would allow us to come out with the first sign underneath that shopping center sign. I haven’t heard proofs allowing for that. That is just my opinion.


Member Bauer: I happen to agree with Mr. Reinke.


Member Brennan: Typically the financial state of the business isn’t recognized as a hardship to this Board. I guess I struggle with the same thing. You have a 9 to 12 businesses in that center and they could all present the same case. It is a real problem.


Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: What is it square footage of the existing sign?


Alan Amolsch: Twenty-four square feet, the maximum that he is allowed.


Member Brennan: That is the size of the sign that he has currently, the 24 square feet?


Nicholas Saad: On the facade, yes. It was approved by the City.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: We have always been consistent on not trying to have business center signs turn into advertising and marketing billboards.


Moved by Member Bauer,


Seconded by Member Brennan,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-083 filed by the Selective Group (Haverhill Farms)


The Selective Group is requesting a variance to allow the continued placement of a subdivision business sign for Haverhill Farms, located at Fourteen Mile and Kingswood Ln.


Julie Marlinga was present and duly sworn.


Julie Marlinga: We would like to continue the subdivision sign at Haverhill Farms. The hardship is the minimum visibility. We have opened a new phase. We would need the sign for up to one year.

Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 1 Notice sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: You said that you are opening up a new phase, does that one sign work for that or?


Don Saven: Other than the fact that it just states the project, the same sign can be utilized.


Member Bauer: How many phases are you going to have?


Julie Marlinga: We will have 2 phases.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: You are in the second one now?


Julie Marlinga: Yes.


Member Brennan: I phase I sold out?


Julie Marlinga: There are 2 houses left.


Chairman Harrington: So all you would need the sign for would be another year?


Julie Marlinga: Approximately another year.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Meyer,





Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried



Case No. 96-084 filed by the Selective Group (Barclay Estates)


The Selective Group is requesting a variance to allow the continued placement of a subdivision business sign for Barclay Estates, located an Nine Mile and Barclay Drive.



Case No. 96-085 filed by the Selective Group (Barclay Estates)


The Selective Group is requesting a variance to allow the continued placement of a subdivision business sign for Barclay Estates, located at Beck Road and Stratford Lane. Refer to ZBA Case Nos. 94-067 and 95-091.


Julie Marlinga was present.


Julie Marlinga: The variances are both for continuation of the signs. The hardship is for visibility and identification of the subdivision at the entrances.


Chairman Harrington indicated in Case No. 96-084 there was a total of 9 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 2 written responses received, both voicing approval. Copies in file.


Chairman Harrington indicated in Case No. 96-085 there was a total of 15 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: How many times were these signs extended previously?


Alan Amolsch: With regard to the Beck Road and Stratford sign; it has been approved on a yearly basis since 1993 by the Board. This is the first request for a variance on the Nine Mile and Barclay sign. Originally the signs were allowed to be erected before the subdivision was under development. Since then it has been a year to year development with variance requests being granted by the Board..


Member Brennan: We are dealing with the same subdivision whether you are coming in from Nine Mile or Beck Road, the entire sub is half sold out at this point?


Julie Marlinga: That is correct. We are projecting another year.


Chairman Harrington: Isn’t it true that you have the permanent subdivision sign on Beck Road?


Julie Marlinga: That I do not know. It might be there.

Chairman Harrington: I did notice that there is already a permanent sign in place on Beck Road which made me question the need for identification with the sales sign. I did not notice when I came in from the other end whether there was a permanent sign in place on Nine Mile Road. Do you know if there is?


Julie Marlinga: At Nine Mile and Barclay, yes.


Chairman Harrington: You have a permanent sign there as well as the sales sign?


Julie Marlinga: Yes, but I really don’t know if that is a permanent sign.


Chairman Harrington: You have subdivision sign at both entrances to the subdivision beside your advertising signs?



Julie Marlinga: That is right.


Member Meyer: Would this sign say coming "97 Spring, if we approve of this?


Julie Marlinga: It would be the end of next year.


Member Meyer: On the bottom of the drawing it says coming "93 Spring, so it would now say coming ‘97 Spring?


Julie Marlinga: That has been changed.


Member Meyer: I am not sure that I see the reason for continuing the sales sign if they have 2 permanent signs identifying the subdivision.


Chairman Harrington: I am thinking along the same lines that you are Mr. Meyer. I drove through there and it seems that the southwest end which would be the Beck Road end is more heavily developed than the north end at Nine Mile. I don’t see any reason for the continuation of the sign that has been there since 1993; others might disagree but at what point is temporary then permanent. We are 3 years into it and it seems to me if there is a need it is more at the north end of the subdivision and not at the south. That is my rationalization.


Member Brennan: I agree. It is unusual that we extend a temporary sign beyond a couple of years.

Chairman Harrington: In terms of the marketing needs of the Selective Group and I know that the interest of those who are in the subdivision should be balanced against the needs of the community as a whole, but in terms of the marketing aspects of this project you would be completed in how long?


Julie Marlinga: In about a year.


Chairman Harrington: In terms of the marketing needs, is one of the signs more significant or more important to you than the other? By way of example, is my perception as a lay person that the more vacant lots are at the Nine Mile area, but is that accurate by a marketing perspective and that is where you would want your sign, or is the placement of your model or show house in the southwest end give reason for that sign to be there?


Julie Marlinga: As far as where the model is at, I think that is where we would want the sign and the traffic.


Member Brennan: Is that at Nine Mile?


Julie Marlinga: That is correct.


Chairman Harrington: Your model is there and not on Beck Road?


Julie Marlinga: The models are at the Nine Mile end.


Member Meyer: You have a sign there?


Julie Marlinga: We have the sign at Nine Mile.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Meyer,







Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 96-088A & B filed by Murray’s Car Audio


Murray’s Car Audio is requesting variances to allow graphics to be put on two (2) walls 73' long and 20' high (1460 sq. ft.) for property located at 41843 Grand River Avenue.


Brian Murray was present and duly sworn.


Brian Murray: You might be familiar with my business. In driving by I think that you will probably admit that it is difficult to see when you are going westbound or when you are going eastbound, due to the nature of the traffic on a 50 mile per hour road. People traveling fast and it is hard for them to turn into the parking lot due to the road and it is hard to see the sign. We have an awning sign at this time, which you were nice enough to approve approximately 7 years ago and we were quite happy with the sign for awhile. As traffic increases on Grand River we find that we get a constant call of people who say "we didn’t know that you guys where there". I even had the sign company that I called for the graphics and they couldn’t find the place; they drove right by it and then they told me that they finally found it with my specific directions when I told them that I was across the street from the large Country Epicure sign, which is a grandfathered in sign. So, what I am asking for is some type of graphics on the east and the west side of the building and I think that it would help our business and help people to be able to see our business. That is what I am asking for. We realize that the graphics that we are asking for are dramatic and we only wanted to show you some ideas and we are willing to amend the graphics to a smaller size as long as we can get the job done and come to an agreement of some sort. We feel that the graphics represent the items that we sell, much like the Vic’s Produce sign down the road which represents the produce which they sell.


Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 36 Notice sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response voicing objection. Copy in file.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Brian Murray I brought with me the people from the sign company, Rita and Kevin.


Kevin: I would just like to say that I am the graphics designer. I am rather on the contemporary side. He had said that he wanted sketches done that were dramatic. If I had known the City’s codes; but I don’t, I live in Utica. The color ones are dramatic and they are not Novi’s by any means. But, when I went there to see the building I passed by it.


Chairman Harrington: Why don’t you put those colored rendering up there a little longer. Are these a sampling of what might be put up there?


Kevin: These were just out of my head, when he said that he wanted dramatic.

Chairman Harrington: Are those what you are proposing to put up or are those the kind of examples of the type of dramatic rendering that you feel would let you know that Murray’s is here? What is it?


Kevin: These are examples of neither actually. They are just examples of my work. Had I known the City’s Ordinances I would have done something more suitable to the Novi Code.


Chairman Harrington: Are you able to show us the graphics this evening, that you would like this Board to vote upon?


Kevin: No. But I have some that I did similar for another company and I have that. This is at Orchard Lake and Twelve Mile Roads. (pictures shown to Board.) They also have a pole sign that faces traffic.


Rita: I guess that we weren’t really prepared. Sitting through this after the first half an hour, we knew that we weren’t prepared; I have never been to one of these as to what you accept and what you don’t accept and what the minimum is. We were just hired to do some drawings and give some ideas. This is what we had prepared this evening and I came up with this after we listened to the cases and thought this might be a little more acceptable to the Board.


Kevin: We are really a little embarrassed He has a similar line deal on his canopy and if he put the stripes around and matching the awning wouldn’t be an awning or a sign or anything electrical.


Member Brennan inquired of Alan Amolsch: Is there anything specific to graphics that are a sign?


Alan Amolsch: Graphics are logos or a sign as defined by the ordinance.


Member Brennan: We could probably spend a lot of time arguing about this and perhaps we might consider getting some real distinct designs that might be suitable and maybe come back.


Chairman Harrington: I’ll tell you, I couldn’t conceive in this world or the next of 1400 square foot of graphics. I don’t want the petitioner to be commissioning additional time and money on concepts which they think could be approved. There could very well be a signage hardship out there. I am not sure. There might very well be some things that you can do within the ordinance or with only a slight modification of the ordinance size wise, which the Board would listen to because we do listen to different arguments. The graphics, however, I couldn’t even suggest even with more conservative signs. The square footage and the concept as applied to this particular building in Novi we would look like Orchard Lake Road within a year. I would suggest that you do is to talk to Don and to talk to Alan and see the kind of things that we look at that could be presented to this Board.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: 1460 square feet - no way that I could support that. Something that is realistic or is a more realistic approach to the actual needs. But, that, no......


Member Meyer: I can’t help but wanting to say one thing. Being somewhat new to this Board it may not be directed to the issue; but your art work is good. It is just that it is very important that you study the ordinances before you address us again. It is a balance that we must try to strike here. This is not within any way, shape or form of what our ordinances are looking for here in Novi.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Bauer,





Brian Murray: What is the reasoning for not wanting Novi to represent itself like other communities or like Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills? What is the reason for Novi’s conservatism?


Chairman Harrington: I can’t speak for City Council who passed the sign package; but as a citizen of this community I think the philosophy of this community is different. As a citizen and a tax payer I find the Farmington and Orchard Hills strip to be garish with the commercial intensity. I think that it sends the opposite message that the communities ought to be sending. I personally applaud the Novi Sign Ordinance. I think that it is a tough ordinance and I think that Council did a great job when they passed it, debated it, and did a lot of compromise on it. Working with hardships and exceptions to it, it show quite clearly when you drive and what we try to do in this community and the improvements that we are making. As you listen to our debate tonight over ground signs with a contrast to pole signs and the like you will see a dramatic difference between this community and our neighboring community and maybe they are right and we are wrong; but I am not going to criticize their philosophy. I just agree with the philosophy of this community and I think that it is the right one and that is why I live here and not across Haggerty Road.


Brian Murray: Would you agree that the type of business that we are in, requires perhaps additional signage than other businesses that don’t require due to the nature of the goods that we try to sell, service and install?


Chairman Harrington: That is your burden of proof. I don’t have to make concessions that yours needs it more than any business. I think that everyone that you see here of a commercial sign nature wants to improve their marketability and that is why they are before us. They are here because they want to make a profit. They want to stay in business and we appreciate that. But in terms of one business acquired by its nature of a large or different sign than others (tape inaudible).......we would be in trouble it would not be to code.


Brian Murray: What about a free standing facility versus a strip center in terms of walk-in traffic? On a strip it would obviously be higher paced than a free standing building; doe that have any bearing on the business?


Chairman Harrington: I don’t know, why don’t you call me up some time and I will buy you a cup of coffee and we can talk about it. I don’t think that we need to keep the rest of the Board here tonight as we talk philosophy of signs and the Novi Sign Ordinance. I think that we have a different philosophy in this community than in others. I agree with that philosophy and that is why we are here.


Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (1) Harrington Motion Carried


Chairman Harrington: The motion to table has been granted. Do you want to come back to the next month’s meeting or simply to let Ms. McKernan know when you would like to come back before us?


Brian Murray: I would like to come back to next month’s meeting, provided the talent that I have hired can create some pictures for you guys to see.


Chairman Harrington: That is the second Tuesday in November, if you have a problem, let Nancy know.



Case No. 96-089A, B & C filed by Maher Jabero, representing Beverage Warehouse


Maher Jabero, representing Beverage Warehouse, is requesting A) a variance to move the existing sign from Novi Road to Ten Mile Road and to change the verbiage: ZBA Case No. 1441 dated May 5, 1987, (sign face on existing sign was changed without permit); B) a variance to allow a 10' x 4' (40 sq. ft.) marquee sign to be placed on the east side of the building facing the parking lot; C) a variance

to allow a 10' x 4' (40 sq. ft.) marquee sign to be placed on the west side of the building facing Novi Road for property located at 24150 Novi Rd.


Robert Taub was present.


Robert Taub: I was recently retained by Mr. Jabero, who is more of a friend of mine than a client. What I would like to do and I think that it is a little bit more simple than what it cites in the Notice. I have a picture which I think is a variation from what was filed of the marquee sign, which would basically be in the front and the back, to the east and west side of the building. Copies handed to the Board.


Robert Taub: The pole sign is the sign that he wished to have moved from Novi Road to Ten Mile. Actually it is a replacement of the sign that Mr. Doug Erwin had, and who is not longer here in Novi. It is the same 4 x 8 sign.


Robert Taub: So what we are talking about is an awning sign in the front and the back, and of course you are all familiar with the Erwin Farms or the Beverage Warehouse location. We are talking about a front and a back awning sign for identification purposes and placing what in the past and you have probably seen it years gone by the so called Erwin Farms sign or Beverage Warehouse sign now that is now on Novi Road across from Michigan National Bank.


Robert Taub: This is not an issue of marketing. Since you have all been here for a long time, you know that traditionally the Erwin’s have had problems with the location and the building as I understand was built in 1959 and is kind of a backwards king of configuration; where the front is in the back. The thing that you notice most when you reach that intersection - first you notice the 2 huge gas stations with pole signs, or that is what I notice and I drove it again tonight even though I have been driving it for over 10 years. You notice 2 humongous gas stations with 2 mega signs.


Chairman Harrington: We are fixing those. Those will be taken care of.


Robert Taub: That is what you notice and then you notice the converted gas stations on the other corner. If you are headed towards Beck Road and you are on Ten Mile; you may notice that there is an older little building center right there and I am going to get to that because I think that what we have with Beverage Warehouse and that building; is set under your sign ordinance that there are 4 distinct businesses there. There is ReDux Hair Salon, The Tailor, Orphan Annies, and there is the Beverage Warehouse. It is really, when you look at the sign ordinance I think that there is built in leeway if you accept the notion, and I don’t think that you are expecting to much, that it is really like a little mini-mall or a mini-strip. And I think that they are entitled because of that and I can go through this ordinance with you, or I will site it for you. They are really entitled to more than the basic signage.


Robert Taub: It is a problem with identification and not marketing. If you are approaching at the intersection there is no way to understand or see without adequate signage the fact that there is Beverage Warehouse. Beverage Warehouse purchased this from Doug Erwin because Doug Erwin wasn’t making any money and he wanted out. What they realized is that no one can see them, the trucks that come to deliver to Mr. Jabero’s Beverage Warehouse, can’t find it. You can’t see it. It is not as much of marketing; with any identification you are going to have clientele. So, it is not a question of your Talking Books, or trying to drum up business. This is one of not knowing that there is a grocery store there; and by the way this is a little bit different from Erwin Farms which is basically a bakery, the meat hut and the produce. They have upscale wine, beer and those items. They have the same kind of things that you would have at Vic’s. I would also point out, and you already know, that my client’s building is not a natural sign. I would say that basically Vic’s is a natural sign. What is happening is that they are building the monument on Grand River and it is hard to miss Vic’s. My client is a competitor of Vic’s. He is on the opposite side of the spectrum. You can’t even figure out that there is a grocery store there, without the signs.


Robert Taub: What we are asking for is basically under the business center category we would have a height of 15 feet. And I think that if you look at it, it is a business center under the definition of 4 different businesses. He is asking for a 15 foot sign and instead of Novi Road it will be on Ten Mile Road. So that the people going east and west would know that there is a grocery store there. Other wise it is pretty hard for to know that. In addition the idea of the awning or the marquee signs going on either side of the building; basically, under a business center category you are entitled to an extra sign.


Robert Taub: I don’t want to argue the law. You people know the sign ordinance better than me. But basically, for him to be able to identify and not basically relinquish this as a grocery store use, People are not going to search for a grocery store, basically if they can’t see it they are not going to go there. If they know there is one, it is not a question of arguing; if they know there is one they are going to go in there.


Robert Taub: We are asking for the pole sign to be moved, which I don’t think is a big problem. We are asking for the same size that you granted in an earlier variance to Mr. Erwin in case number 1441. The size that Mr. Erwin had was 32 square feet and this would be 32 square feet and I have shown you the example. The issue is the 15 feet. I should point out and I think that you all know this from driving around that there is a depression of 5 feet in that parking lot. Basically when we are talking about the 15 feet, which again would be allowed if you accept the notion that it is a business center, which it is. Aside from that we are asking for 5 extra feet. Again, in examining the ordinance I think that it is clearly a business center and we are entitled to our 15 feet which is on page 1775.


Robert Taub: The depression, again, makes it even more important that somebody be able to see the sign and again if you go by there you know what I am talking about with the depressed parking lot. Again, I think and I have concern even though I don’t live in Novi anymore, but I do work here every day; I feel that the kind of signs that we are suggesting are simply to identify and to know that it is there. If you look at the intersection, again, they are dwarfed. The kind of signs that we are talking about are totally dwarfed by the 2 gasoline stations. The Pine Ridge sign is a business center and they have a 15 foot sign, which is what we are asking for. We don’t have as many businesses but we have under your ordinance and under your definition "business center means a group of 4 or more contiguous stores or contiguous industrial businesses in an industrial subdivision, etc", this is a business center. Under the definition of a business center sign these fall into that. It also defines business center category meaning a business center sign located in a business center.


Robert Taub: We feel that we are entitled under the sign ordinance to the number that we are requesting. If you feel that somehow it doesn’t fall within the definition; clearly I think that it is only reasonable for identification purposes that there be the awning signs on the front and the back and the sign moved to Ten Mile.


Chairman Harrington: If you are a business center do you need a variance?


Robert Taub: I would say not, but I guess that we need a variance because the Building Department obviously put us in the position of coming here.


Chairman Harrington: They didn’t think that you were a business center?


Robert Taub: I guess, after reading the ordinance and wanting to obviously put a favorable spin on Mr. Jabero’s case, I would call it a business center. But, really the way that I see it, this is going to fly or not fly. I think that you people all know that when I call it Erwin Farms Building it is really a nightmare in terms of identification. The one who has the best identification in my opinion, is Orphan Annie’s. That is what is going to catch your eye. I can tell you that I lived here for about 10 years and I never really shopped at Erwin Farms and I think that because it was always sort of back there and it is not even identified. You sort of miss it. What Mr. Jabero is saying is that he needs some kind of reasonable identification. He owns the building. It is a B1 zoning. He can close the Beverage Warehouse and put in another acceptable use; but to tell you the truth I think it is in the interest of the people who live in Novi and who work in Novi to have competition in terms of fine products.




Don Saven had no comment.


Alan Amolsch: I would like to make a comment. It is a business center. We would not deny that. What happened was that Mr. Jabero changed the sign and it was an existing sign that Mr. Erwin had, which was specifically subject to verbiage requirements by the Board. He then requested that he wanted to move the sign on the other side of the road. This is not a business center sign, this is a business sign. If he were to come in and apply for a business center sign; and he meets the requirements of the ordinance he would be granted that. He has not done that. What he did was to change an existing sign and he wants to move the existing sign now to the other side of the road, which is why he is before the Board. The other issue is the 2 awning signs and he is only allowed one per the ordinance.


Chairman Harrington: So if he applied for his business center sign and it was within the confines of the ordinance he might have gotten one or more of the variance requests.


Alan Amolsch: Yes. It originally started out with him changing the existing Erwin sign, which was kind of a variance granted as a business center category type of sign when it was approved years ago. But, the sign itself does not meet the requirements of a business center sign. It is not the name of a business center, it is a business sign which tells what the business is.


Robert Taub: If I could briefly comment. Essentially Mr. Jabero’s position is that he is actually the predominant tenant there, space wise and otherwise. The name of his business is essentially the name of the business center. I don’t think that is unreasonable given the fact that you have 4 tenants and he is the predominant tenant. There probably helping more to get business from his grocery than vice versa.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Since they are looking at a business center sign that gives them more of an advantage; I think that really he needs to sit down with Alan and work out something to see what would be permitted under a business center sign, plus he would be allowed one additional sign. Before we start making variance requests and proposals that may not even be needed and could really cause more problems than to work with what is in existence that you would be allowed to have and then go on from there.


Robert Taub: I would request that to not waste any more of the Board’s time, that we adjourn this for one month. My client can meet with Mr. Amolsch and Mr. Saven and see what can be worked out. So that if we come back in a month everything will be resolved or at least the issues will be narrowed. I want to say that Mr. Jabero has lived here, with his family - his son, daughter and wife, since 1979. He has started out as a resident and he basically moved his business into town obviously to be close to his house. He wants to be a good citizen, he has been a good citizen and if we could adjourn this for a month maybe it could be resolved administratively.


Chairman Harrington: I don’t think that there will be any objection from the Board. My own concern would be with the worse case scenario, that if we were to go ahead and give you variances without making a determination on the business center sign and then an application could be made for a business center sign which might totally impact the variances that we did give you; we could be in worse of all case. Obviously the business center sign has to be resolved. We need some input from Alan and the Building Department and then you can come back and tell us if this original package as proposed is what you absolutely have to have and absolutely need or is there some variance in your proposal that you can come up with to bring us a little closer to the code.


Chairman Harrington: So, if you would like to come up with that information we will be happy to put you on the November docket. Is that OK?


Robert Taub: Thank you very much. I would predict knowing my client, Mr. Jabero, that he will be able to resolve these matters with the administration. I would project that it won’t be necessary for us to come back. He wants to work with the City and a lot of these issues he wasn’t familiar with as far as the sign ordinance and the necessity of a permit. He just wasn’t aware because he never had an operation here. Thank you.

Chairman Harrington: This will be on the second Tuesday of November.



Other Matters


Chairman Harrington: I would simply like to comment as Chairman, a comment was made by a representative of a party who brought a variance before us this evening. Basically it may have been an off hand remark, but basically to the extent that "if our variance request is not granted, we are going to go to court and sue the City". I am not sure whether that was kind of message that was supposed to get through to us or not, I would simply state that it is the policy of this Board and this Chairman that we call them as we see them, we let the chips fall where they may, we don’t handle the appeals and we don’t litigate before the Supreme Court, we simply make our decisions as best we can and we stand behind those decisions as best we can.


Chairman Harrington: On that issue, however, I again would invite the City Attorney to talk to this Board when they are settling or negotiating cases which involves this Board’s decisions. I don’t think that it is fair for this Board to have a decision which we have made negotiated or otherwise dealt our from underneath us without some comment or input from the Board or at least the courtesy of informing us that our case has been settled under a decision that we have made rather than to read about it in the newspaper. I think that the effort that we spend and the hours that we spend deserve more than that and I will follow that commentary with a note to the City Attorney’s office as well as to City Council.





The Meeting was adjourned at 10:55 p.m.







Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan

Recording Secretary