REGULAR MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF THE CITY OF NOVI
CIVIC CENTER - 45175 TEN MILE RD.
TUESDAY - DECEMBER 3, 1996
The Meeting was called to order at 7:31 p.m., with Chairman Harrington presiding.
Present: Members Brennan, Reinke, Harrington, Antosiak, Bauer, Baty (alternate)
Absent: Member Meyer
Also Present: Donald M. Saven - Building Official
Alan Amolsch - Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary
Chairman Harrington indicated we do have a quorum present this evening. This Meeting is now in session. The City of Novi Zoning Board of Appeals is a hearing board empowered by the Novi City Charter to determine applications for variances or special use permits. Generally these cases are in the nature of appeals after denial of an application by the City of Novi Building Department. The variance request will seek relief from strict application of the City of Novi Zoning Ordinances. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to grant a variance request. We do have a full Board this evening.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Harrington indicated there are no changes to the agenda this evening. We will move for approval of the agenda by acclamation. All in favor? All yeas. Agenda approved.
Chairman Harrington indicated the "Public Remarks Section" allows members of the public or citizens of Novi to comment on issues of general importance to the Board; although comments related to specific cases should be addressed to those cases as they are called in the regular order. Do we have any comments from the public? (No one wished to speak at this time.)
Chairman Harrington indicated by way of description we have six (6) cases this evening; three (3) property cases and three (3) sign cases.
Case No. 96-096 file by Gary Crull - American Construction, Inc.
Gary Crull - American Construction, Inc. is requesting a variance to allow the continued placement of an existing construction trailer on Unit 5C, Orchard Hill Place Condominium. A Temporary Use Permit was granted on June 7, 1996.
Gary Crull was present and duly sworn.
Gary Crull: We are just asking for a variance to leave the job trailer in the present location where we were approved originally. We have a lot of site work going on and we do not have the room, right now, to place it in a suitable location. I did obtain a letter from the property manager, who basically says that we have been good neighbors and they have had no problem.
Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 18 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: The question that I have is that there is no length of time specified on this; how long of a time period do you need there?
Gary Crull: I think about 8 months is what we are looking at. I think the it was a year that was requested for the variance, but I think it will be about 8 months or less. We will try to get it out as soon as we can.
Chairman Harrington: I would reiterate Mr. Reinkes question; what date is it that you are looking for an extension to? Are you talking about July 1, August 1, September 1 or April 1?
Gary Crull: July 1.
Member Antosiak: I have one question, would you be willing to accept the same conditions that were placed by Mr. Morrone when your temporary permit was issued on June 7th?
Gary Crull: Yes, sir.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,
Seconded by Member Antosiak,
THAT IN CASE NO. 96-096 THE VARIANCE REQUEST BE GRANTED FOR A PERIOD OF TIME TO RUN TO JULY 1, 1997.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 96-097 filed by Conservations Unlimited Inc.
Conservations Unlimited Inc. is requesting a side yard setback variance of 1 foot 11 inches to construct a sun room at 22740 Foxmoor Drive.
Eric Brackney was present and duly sworn.
Eric Brackney: I am representing the Fletchers who are here this evening. We are proposing adding a year round type of family room/sun room addition on the back of the residence.
Catalogs were presented to the Board for viewing.
Eric Brackney: This will give you an idea of what we are proposing. The Fletchers have lived in the house since 1989. They moved here from California. There is some unusual things with the house; there was a minimum standard in the subdivision of 2400 square feet at the time of construction and their house runs just a little shy of that at about 2380 square feet. Their contention is that the house is small now, they dont have a family room and they have a very small breakfast area; so the idea with the sun room addition is to give them an area where they can have a breakfast table, a small dining room table and some chairs and also some exercise equipment.
Eric Brackney: They have an usual lot too. In that sub most of the lots are square or rectangular in shape and they have a pie shaped lot. We want to put the sun room addition on the rear left corner of the house and just the corner of the sun room is going to encroach 1 foot 10 inches on the side setback.
Chairman Harrington: Because of the angle the house, correct?
Eric Brackney: Yes, but more because of the angle of the lot because the 2 side legs of the lot angle in to form a kind of a pie shaped area. Just the outside corner is encroaching 1 foot 10 inches. We have explored the idea of moving the sun room over; but with the symmetry of the house it really needs to encompass that little notched in corner of the house. Size wise we originally were looking at a larger unit than what is there now or what has been proposed. We have down sized it once already and we have come to the minimum size that where the table and chairs and the equipment will still fit inside.
Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 29 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was 6 written responses received all voicing approval. Copies in file.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: Where is the patio door or the door that is going out to the sun room? Is that on the far left rear corner?
Eric Brackney: The door would be on the opposite end, it wouldnt be on the side that is the closest to the lot line.
Don Saven: So in essence you are projecting out about 13 feet from the house at the rear most portion of the house, is that correct?
Eric Brackney: Right and the door wall, if you are looking at it from the back yard, it will go on the left side.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think that because of the lot configuration and it is just at the furthest out point of the addition that is encroaching into the side yard, I really dont see a problem. The neighbors dont have a problem. This is just due to the lot configuration.
Chairman Harrington: I agree with you Mr. Reinke. When I observed the site of the proposed sun room, if you eyeball it directly from the street, you do have a large street area that is narrowing on the sides and there is only a minor encroachment on the side yard as you approach the rear of the lot.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: The encroachment is behind the neighbors home also; so it is not even going up that point there.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 96-097 THE VARIANCE REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO LOT SIZE AND CONFIGURATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 96-099 filed by Oakland Baptist Church
Oakland Baptist Church wishes to relocate the historic Methodist Church (which is currently located at Grand River and Novi Roads) onto property located at 23893 Beck Road as a temporary building for more than the allowable six (6) months; until final site plans have been approved by the City of Novi.
Member Antosiak: Since I wish to speak on behalf of this variance, I will abstain from voting on this variance request.
Greg Capote, Senior Staff Planner for the City of Novi was present.
Greg Capote: I would like to open this evenings presentation with a short presentation by myself, and then introduce Mr. Tim White who is a member of the congregation and would like to take ownership of the subject building. I only wish to explain my involvement with this property and this building and the efforts to relocate it.
Chairman Harrington: Is your purpose to provide general background to us or are you actually presenting on behalf of the petitioner?
Greg Capote: My purpose is to provide general background information.
Greg Capote: As some of you may be aware, for a number of years now the subject building located on the south side of Grand River Avenue just west of Novi Road has been looking for a new place. A new place to co-exist in the community. The property owner, George Keros has been looking to develop the parcel. If you have noticed in the past week or week and a half you have seen a lot of activity on the site. There is an approved site plan on that area and George Keros is actively assuming the development of that plan.
Greg Capote: I have been working with and entity known as Preservation Novi for some time as the Council has designated the Senior Staff Planner as a liaison person between the property owner and the City Council and working with other property owners in the City to try to find a new location.
Greg Capote: Sometime ago we had worked out a tentative agreement with the Hughlan Development Company in integrating that church with their PUD in their area plan, being Phase III. It would have been placed at a clinical point in the development where you could see it from a variety of locations and having an access where the steeple would be visible. Unfortunately in working with the IRS there was some tax implications of transferring that property to a private developer and using funds that had been given to Preservation Novi for the relocation and the restoration of the building by Fretter Appliance. Essentially I worked to coordinate some possible moving contractors, tree trimmers, and all of the associated utility companies that would have to be involved to relocate that building to the Vistas of Novi, Phase III. Negotiations broke down with Hughlan Development and they decided that they no longer wanted to have that building in their development.
Greg Capote: So the church was without a home. George Keros the property owner, being anxious to develop the property was continually asking me "Greg, when is the church going to move, because if it doesnt move soon it is going to have to go into a dumpster." Working with the real estate community, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and the Historic District Study Committee (which is a committee that I service) we were able to get in touch with somebody else and that is the
Baptist Church located on Beck Road.
Greg Capote: My role, should the Board agree to approve the requested action, would be to help facilitate the move. Coordinate all of the permitting processes with the county, the fire department, the State Fire Marshall, State Police, etc. It is a big undertaking. Initially when we were looking to move the building to the Vistas we would have been temporarily closing Novi Road and we all know how important it is to have that road open, giving access to all the major retailers in that area.
Chairman Harrington: You are not closing Novi Road this month?
Greg Capote: No, there will not be a closing of Novi Road and this move I believe will be much easier. I havent been in contact with any moving contractors as of yet, but I anticipate that we will. Time here is of the essence. Time is crucial in getting the building off of the site and that is one of the reasons that we are here before you this evening asking that this variance be granted.
Greg Capote: Given that, as you see the development occurring on the site right now, Mr. Keros will be in the position where he has his tenants under contract and to have them into the building by a certain date. What that date is, I honestly dont know. However, he has given us a deadline and that deadline is in a position in the calendar year where you cant move any heavy structures on the road way given the frost laws are then in effect.
Chairman Harrington: What is the deadline?
Greg Capote: April 1. So given that deadline the church has to be moved now and temporarily stored on site. I am just letting the Board know that I will work with the congregation through the permitting process and all of the necessary permits through the City of Novi and the county in order to move the building as soon as possible. As time goes by and the ground freezes a heavy structure like that will not be allowed on the roadway and by the time the frost laws are lifted it will be to late and the church will have to be destroyed.
Chairman Harrington: So it has to be moved between now and when? April 1?
Greg Capote: That is correct.
Chairman Harrington: And where are you going to store it on site?
Greg Capote: As indicated on the plan that is before you. A reputable moving contractor will be the one that will make the determination along with conjunction of the Building Department with the exact location of the building and where it is going to be stored. So in the interim the applicant can seek approval through our department.
Greg Capote: But in your earlier question you asked me, "when does the church have to be moved, between now and April 1?", the answer is yes but I need to clarify that if we are waiting until February it is to late. It is depended upon the weather conditions. The longer we wait the danger with the frost laws being in effect, that you are not going to be able to put a heavy structure on the roadway. If we get into that scenario it is going to be very difficult to tell Mr. Keros after working with him for 2 1/2 years that yes we are going to move it, yes we found a home and no now we cant move it. He has to satisfy contracts that he has with his tenants and by that time the building is being erected and he cant stop. He will have to keep on moving because he cant have people standing by idle.
Greg Capote: As far as the buildings exact location, I think it is important for the Board to know that we will work with the Building Department, the moving contractor will work with the Building Contractor before any permit is issued to be assured that the department is satisfied and that all of the safety concerns have been addressed.
Greg Capote: If there are general questions, more on history; I will go ahead and answer those questions now or at the conclusion. Whatever is the Boards pleasure.
Tim White the Pastor of Oakland Baptist Church.
Tim White: We at Oakland Baptist Church have been at the location where we are at for about 18 years. In this whole time we have been meeting at a house that we have renovated into a church. We are right now and for the past couple of years have been looking at building a building. When the possibility of getting the old historic Methodist Church arose we were very excited about that. The whole congregation unanimously voted to go ahead with the move of the building and the renovation of the building.
Tim White: As Mr. Keros has said, he really is anticipating getting the building moved as quickly as possible because he has waited quite awhile to get this done; with the difficulties with the frost laws and getting the building moved.
Tim White: We have been working with an architect for a couple of years in trying to get a new building built and a building that would meet the needs of our congregation. We are not a very large church, about 50 people, so we dont need a huge building at this time. As the church grows we would like to expand and grow with what we have. So we have careful planning with the architect. So when the possibility for this building came up we were very pleased to be working with a man who has done many renovations of historic buildings and has done some building moving in his career. He has been working as an architect since late in the 50's and most of that time doing churches. So he is very experienced with getting done what needs to be done and especially with the historic building.
Time White: We have been working with NBD, and I also work full time as well as being Pastor of the Church, I work at NBD so it has been a nice plus for me; I could just deal with the people that I work with about getting the loan for the initial move for the building and the loan to renovate the building. We anticipate that it is going to cost probably as much to renovate this building as it would to build a new building. But, our congregation is excited about having the historic landmark building on our property and renovating that into a building that we can use instead of just building a new modern looking building; but keeping the historic building and all that it means to the community. Right now as you drive by Novi Road you see a building falling apart with the steeple off and in desperate need of paint and it really does look like right now a bulldozer wouldnt be a bad idea; but we want to renovate it back to its 1876 beauty and have it useable again and a landmark in the City of Novi.
James Antosiak: Knowing the "Chairs" desires I will endeavor to be brief. I am here serving two purposes. One is that I am Reverend Whites neighbor, 2 parcels south on Beck and second as President of Preservation Novi. Included in the packet tonight was a report that we commissioned 3 years ago on the church and in fact our group was initially formed in reaction to the possible destruction of the church. I think that Greg has given you a good summary of what has gone on for the last 2 1/2 to 3 years in trying to find a suitable location to move the church. Reverend White and the Oakland Baptist Church literally came up at the last minute and said they would be interested. We are near the end of Mr. Keros patience and we certainly appreciate his patience because he has had the right to remove that church for about the last 2 years. I have been involved with most of the meetings between the church and Mr. Keros and the City on this subject and Mr. Keros is ready to role. He has given us the date of April 1. In prior years the frost laws have gone into affect generally in the first part of February, so we really do have a short window of opportunity to move the church.
Chairman Harrington: Do I understand that the frost laws basically prohibit the movement of heavy objects such as a building during certain periods of the year because they would damage the roads?
Jim Antosiak: Right, and as I understand it they do vary each year based upon the temperature. In prior years they have generally become effective the first part of February and last until middle or late April, depending again on the temperatures. It is to protect the roads from severe damage.
Jim Antosiak: I would encourage the Board to approve Reverend Whites variance request. We know that the church has to meet other obligations of the City in making this move and I believe that they are prepared to do so. Thank you.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: Just a comment in general; I understand what the congregation is going through because I was involved in moving a historic building from Novi Road and that takes a lot of work and a lot of effort and time goes into this. I know how critical it is to make the move when you need to do that. I have a couple of questions. One, when are you on the Planning Commission agenda?
Greg Capote: No site has been submitted for fee determination at this time; but I would anticipate that with the approval this evening the congregation will move with posthaste to proceed through the permitting process through our department.
Don Saven: Another question that I have was brought up earlier on; if the building was to be temporarily placed on the site it was talked about not keeping it in the front yard, can we move it back or is it possible that it can be moved back beyond the front yard setback of the adjacent structure?
Greg Capote: That may be a possibility, but I have to admit that I have not walked the site and with looking at the site plan I do believe that it would be possible.
Tim White: There is plenty of room. We have 6 1/2 acres; so it could be moved further back.
Don Saven: I was concerned about the topography; which is being shown on the plan here.
Tim White: We can move it back but our desire is to have it as close as possible to the road for visibility. Obviously we dont want to obstruct the view of the houses and the things around it so we do have the ability to move it further back if it is necessary.
Don Saven: This is only for the temporary measure that we are talking about. You are showing where the approximate location is going to be at the 115 foot setback requirement and that is kind of what we would be looking at for the placement area.
Tim White: The architect said that he would like to have the building placed where he would anticipate getting the site plan approval so that we dont have 2 moves. By placing the building there it would be near where it should be.
Don Saven: And the steeple will be going back on, is that correct?
Tim White: Absolutely. We have the drawings from the architect.
Member Brennan: A question of clarification. On this blueprint; this is the permanent location of the church, is that correct?
Tim White: We anticipate that will be the permanent....
Member Brennan: We are assuming that you are looking at storing that church somewhere in this area?
Tim White: We are looking at storing the church in the permanent location. Putting the church right where we anticipate the church to go and then....
Don Saven: That is exactly what I wanted to know.
Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 9 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. (Copy in file)
Member Baty: Will it be possible for the site plan to be approved prior to the move?
Greg Capote: I dont believe that would be possible. Historically given the pace of which plans are submitted to our department and the lengthy review process and often the applicants need to reapply given that simple items are left off of the plan. They are often surprised even with the great amount of experience that they may have in the field of planning, architecture or engineering that they have to have a lot of information that the City of Novi requires in submitting a site plan. They often leave off a little bit of information, which in turn results in a negative review letter and they go back to square one again. I dont see this being a possibility. We have looked at it from that standpoint and I have even thought of giving the Board a scenario or time line as to a what if; if we could try to seek site plan ahead of time. It simply is impossible.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: What kind of time frame, realistically are we looking at?
Greg Capote: I think that it would be reasonable to say that if the applicant were to submit within the next 30 days a plan for fee determination, that next spring they could at least have if not their preliminary and final completed and begin construction in the late spring or early summer. I also want to make a point here in saying that often the moving contractors say that they like to put the building where it is going to be placed and then you build from the foundation up. The building will be secured onto a trailer that is specifically designed to move large structures. I also need to mention that I have spoken with the Fire Marshall and he has indicated that he has no problem as long as the building is secured. Secured means that it is boarded up as it is now. So, I think that its certainly possible given the coming of spring that there will be at least preliminary or maybe final site plan and inside the month of May or June maybe starting construction on the site.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: Do you feel that if you had a variance that extended through September 1st, it would be adequate?
Greg Capote: I would imagine that it would be adequate, but again I am not sure if the congregation has moved forward and has hired all the design professionals that they need. I dont really want to speak to that specifically, but in a general sense that should be sufficient.
Chairman Harrington: The petition is asking for 6 months and Mr. Reinke is suggesting 10 months. Does that sound reasonable to you?
Greg Capote: Certainly.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I want to try to be realistic about this. There is no sense in trying to hold a time line so tight that they have to turn around and come back and get a 2 or 3 month extension, that is why I was asking you and trying to put a little bit of a factor in there because of what they are doing and trying to work in conjunction with that.
Greg Capote: Given that you have the next 90 or 120 days to seek preliminary and final site approval on a small simple site plan like this; normally I wouldnt see that time line being a problem.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: The Building Department is very efficient and they can run plans right straight through in a short period of time anyway. So, I agree.
Chairman Harrington: I have a question for you, and it is not really germane to what is before us; but do I have a memory that when the Vistas came in front of us time after time and they had like a centerpiece church in the middle of all of their drawings and a long greenbelts looking at the church and the like; that this is what was there?
Greg Capote: That is correct.
Chairman Harrington: And that is not there any more?
Greg Capote: I would be led to believe that is the case.
Member Bauer: When do you expect to move the church?
Greg Capote: As soon as the applicant can secure a competent moving contractor; of which there are many but it is also hunting season and most of them are out of time on holiday; but post haste. This needs to be done immediately or else you are going to be caught by the frost laws and at that point you wont be moving anything. So, my direction and suggestion to Mr. Write is that he should do it immediately.
Moved by Member Brennan,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,
THAT IN CASE 96-099 THAT THE PETITIONERS REQUEST FOR A TEMPORARY USE PERMIT THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1, 1997 BE GRANTED DUE TO THE SPECIAL CONDITIONS AND THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE TO OUR COMMUNITY.
Discussion on motion:
Don Saven: May I ask that you would consider the relocation of this building in your motion please?
Chairman Harrington: That the church be stored on the location as designated which would be the approximate site of the permanent construction.
Don Saven: Just a notation that it is going to be relocated from one site to another. Showing that it is going on a move from one site to this site. I know that it is called for a temporary use approval but it is a move also and I would like that included in the motion.
Member Brennan: So noted.
Chairman Harrington: That will be so amended.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Abstain - Antosiak Motion Carried
Case No. 96-088 filed by Murrays Car Audio
Continuation of case filed by Murrays Car Audio requesting variances to allow graphics to be put on two (2) walls, for property located at 41843 Grand River Avenue.
Brian Murray was present and duly sworn.
Brian Murray: As you can see, I dont have my sign person with me tonight. We dont seem to be able to come to an agreement on what would be artistic enough to put on the side of the building. So what I have done is that I went to the measure of measuring what we had presented before and then I went to the degree of eliminating one side of the building. I took a good look at the building and I thought to myself "gosh, Ive got windows on the east side of the building further and closer to the road and I can use that first window for signage according to the sign ordinance just as well as having graphics on that side of the building". So what I have done is eliminated my request for graphics on that side of the building and I have changed my request to only having graphics on the west side of the building which is basically a white wall. I have made the graphics very small, we have measured them out. Me and Alan got together and I believe that we came up with something like 60 square feet for one side of the building, which is much smaller than any other request that I have ever made. I thought that would be very reasonable and I want to know what your opinion is.
Chairman Harrington: And there would be no additional signage on the east side of the building, only the west side; is that correct?
Brian Murray: The only signage that would be on the east side would go in the windows, which would comply with the ordinance.
Chairman Harrington: Which windows?
Brian Murray: Just the window that is closest to the road. I dont know if you have a view of that side of the building because it differs from the other side.
Chairman Harrington: I would assume that the rendering that you would ask for which is designated 11 foot by 5 foot .....
Brian Murray: I think that we submitted 2 different renderings.
Chairman Harrington: Yes, 12 by 5 and 11 by 5. In any event, either or both would have the logo Murray Car Audio, correct?
Brian Murray: Then in talking with Alan I was under the impression that in the future if I was to want to change that signage or that copy, as long as it occupied that same square footage; I am under the impression that I could change the wording.
Chairman Harrington: No, only if we were to give you a broad variance to occupy that square footage, but if we make our variance specific to the language you are tied to that. For example, if the Board approved that and in 60 days from now Murrays Car Audio was whited out and some real lurid graphic thing were up there I think that would be of concern to the Board. But, I am not going to speak for the Board. In fact, we havent even gotten around to the Board yet.
Brian Murray: Then we have a slight misunderstanding, because when I talked to Alan who is the Ordinance Officer, that was what was indicated to me. Maybe I misunderstood.
Chairman Harrington: Let me clarify what you are doing here tonight. You are asking for a variance. You are asking for a sign variance. Right now you already have a sign, so you are trying to increase the total square footage of the signage that is allowed and basically have a second sign and that is why you are here. This is the third time that you are here and the first time your request and the second time your request were in the hundreds of square foot; you have substantially reduced that but above and beyond that the Board has not spoken and havent even discussed it. Right now all we are doing is looking at the materials that you have given to us. Before we get to Board discussion, are there any other important facts that you want to tell us about your proposed sign?
Brian Murray: No, only that I think that this is the smallest that I could possibly go to be effective on that side of the building, in my opinion and many others opinions also.
Chairman Harrington: Do I take it that you have discarded the option of having a sign extend from the upper portion of the building out and above the parking area where you currently park?
Brian Murray: Yes, I looked into the cost of this type of sign and the feasibility due to the nature of how the building is constructed and the sign people laughed me out of the room. They said that this was preposterous and they could not construct something like this for a reasonable fee at all. I met with 3 different sign companies and they all laughed me out of the room.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Member Antosiak: Just in fairness to the petitioner, I think it is fairly common for the Board to approve specific language in signs. Particularly if it is a second sign or a sign that is much larger than one that the ordinance allows and also to approve it for a specific petitioner. So, if that in fact happens dont be alarmed; I think it is a fairly common occurrence.
Brian Murray: So my ability to come back later, is still available? In other words, if I was to come back in 5 years and say "look I have had this sign up here for 5 years and I would like to change it and still occupy the same square footage", do I still have the possibility?
Member Antosiak: You can always petition for another variance.
Brian Murray: That is fair with me, I fine with that.
Member Antosiak: Getting to the substance, I think I could support a variance for the 5 by 11 foot sign given that this building is so close the road and that the traffic is not slow there on Grand River. It is easy, I believe, for someone to drive by before they realize that they have driven by.
Chairman Harrington: Do I correctly understand that you do not have intentions right now of using the 3 windows which are depicted in the rendering on the west side of the building as additional potential signage whether allowed by ordinance or not?
Brian Murray: To far away, in other words from the road as you are driving down Grand River the way that the building sits to the road and the angle that it is at, it would not allow anybody in my opinion to see any signs way back on those windows any how.
Chairman Harrington: And irrespective of distance it would be pretty tacky too, wouldnt it?
Brian Murray: Absolutely. So my intention is to occupy that blank white space that is on the west side with the most vivid signage that you people would allow based on your ordinance. I would keep the letters within reasonable size and an artist would actually do it, I am not going to go out there and paint it myself. I dont have the want, the need, or the ability to do that. I fix radios. They are going to take care of that as long as we can get it into a frame of that size. It would just be painted on the building. That simple.
Chairman Harrington: When I hear the word "vivid" in conjunction with signs proposed for Murrays, and I have seen prior graphics which definitely are vivid; what do you have in mind which would meet the criteria of vivid? Is it the color of Murray Car Audio or what? What are we talking about?
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I dont mean to interrupt Mr. Antosiak, but I would like to have a little discussion before a motion is made.
Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: The square footage on the existing sign?
Alan Amolsch: That is 24 square feet.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: We are going from 24 square feet to 60 square feet, which is a significant sized sign and maybe that sign is needed there but I am really questioning if it should be that big. A 24 square foot sign when you are in the front of the building is highly visible. Now maybe the signage is needed on that side of the building but I am questioning if it has to be 60 square feet.
Chairman Harrington: I have a similar feeling to Mr. Reinke where he has, I think, some concern approving something which he hasnt really seen in any proposed final form. I have a problem approving a sign which you have described to us as still in the artists imagination which is going to look something like this sign but it is going to be vivid. I would and I dont want to keep bringing you back here and I know that you dont want to keep coming back here, but I would really feel comfortable if we were to give a second sign and we are going to grant a request for something which is almost triple what the ordinance provides; I would like to see some kind of rendering on that sign and I would like to see how it sits on the building. Mr. Reinke may very well be correct that 60 square feet is more than is needed given the needs of the structure and perhaps less of an incursion of the ordinance would be required. I would like to see what it is that they are proposing to put up. I would like to see the size of it. I think that Vern is correct on this one.
Member Baty: Is the size the only ordinance in question?
Chairman Harrington: You have the second sign, so there would be both.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: Really the only thing that is in question is the second sign.
Member Baty: And the size?
Vice-Chairman Reinke: Well, the size we are concerned with; that is correct.
Member Bauer: So, you are suggesting that they have a rendering come back to us?
Chairman Harrington: A rendering and perhaps as we did for example with Extended Stay recently, when we had them and also the Chrysler people over on Haggerty Road put a mock up of the sign without spending the money for the full sign. But they gave us an idea of what they had in mind and we could get a sense of how that fit in with the surrounding area. I think that is important here.
Member Baty: I agree with that.
Member Antosiak inquired of Alan Amolsch: If we were to approve a variance, does the 90 day rule still apply? In other words the petitioner would have to come in within the 90 days and pull the permit?
Alan Amolsch: Yes, but from that point forward he has 6 months to complete the job.
Brian Murray: My question is, the last time we met I had submitted some color rendering. Does the Chairman have those in file? You will notice that these 2 that I submitted this time are exactly the same except they are on 8 by 11 paper rather than the paper that the artist gave me last time. So actually they are exactly the same. Last time we were requesting graphics of this size on both sides of the building and it was not understood by you folks, I believe, that the graphics were this small. I think that you were under the impression that the graphics were very large last time and they were on both sides of the building. But actually the color renderings that I showed you were exactly what this represents. This is just a miniaturized version of it on smaller paper. So if you compare your drawings from the last time, you will see that it is identical. It included the teal green color that the letters had. I believe that is what it is called, teal.
Chairman Harrington: Thank you for your comment, although I think that the thrust of what the Board is saying is that they would like to see your proposed rendering or something reflecting the dimensions on the side of the building to see how it fits, rather than a 8 1/2 by 11 in front of them. I have driven by your building many times, I drove by it today as a matter of fact. As I sit here tonight I cant tell you how I would react as a Board Member to your proposed sign without seeing what the vivid depiction of the sign is and perhaps some kind of mock up on the side of the building. I am willing to drive by again between now and the next month and take a look at it. I think that we are making progress and you have indicated to us that you dont have to have this sign up between now and next month anyway and because of the weather you might not even be able to paint it on there. It seems to me that your artist or architect ought to be able to and relatively inexpensively for this project give us something that we can go by between now and next month and take a look at. Give us a color picture and give us something up there that would indicate the size. I tend to believe that Mr. Reinke has sent you a message and that is that he thinks that 60 square foot of signage may be more than what you need. I think that you and your artist should get together and obviously if you get 48 square feet or 40 square feet, it is going to save you money too. What do you really need that you can live with.
Member Baty: I need a better rendition or rendering of what the sign is going to look like. The way that it is scaled on the orthogonal view and not on the elevation view, I cant tell exactly how big the sign is.
Chairman Harrington: Here is my request to you sir; and I think that the easiest way is for you to work with Alan or Don on this. Give us and have your artist prepare what he proposes that sign to be. The actual colors, coordination, vivid, etc.
Brian Murray: So you dont have the recollection of what we showed last time? It doesnt ring a bell at all? He gave me renditions, but it was larger.
Chairman Harrington: We are trying to work with you Mr. Murray. I am not going to sit here and go back to last months meeting or the meeting before that; because I will tell you what my recollection is. My recollection of your sign variance as initially presented was that it was garish, it was hundreds of square feet, and it was nothing that this "Chair" could ever vote for and I was against even bringing you back here. Now you are here and we are working with you and we want you to work with us, if you want your sign. We are asking you to give us a color depiction of what the actual sign is that you want to put up there. We are also asking you to mock up on the side of the building; just get on a ladder and tape up a piece of card board or whatever would be the approximate square footage so when we drive by there between now and next months meeting we can get a look at what it is that you propose. I am not going to sit here and extract from my memory what it is and the portion of a drawing that you gave us before that had a negative impact on me. My memory of that meeting is that I wanted to vote no and I would have.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: If I might interject, you dont have to make up a bunch of renderings; if you can come in with a rendering that you can put on display as part of your presentation showing the color and everything else that the Board can look at. After looking at your mock up on the side of your building I think that this would suffice for what information that we are really looking for.
Brian Murray: When you speak of mock up, I am not familiar with that term. I am new at this, so I didnt know what you meant by mock up. Did I understand that you want me to take an actual piece of cardboard and to try to bond it to the side of the building, the physical square footage of what we are asking for?
Vice-Chairman Reinke: You can tape it to the side of the building. You could cut out individual letters. You could tape the letters up in the approximate location and the approximate size that you are looking for, so that we can really get a true representation of the magnitude of this sign. Maybe it needs to be larger, maybe it needs to be smaller; but in trying to look at something here that is not true to scale and what we feel that is needed and what would be adequate and what would be intrusive; this is what we are trying to do. Rather than you going out and doing something and then we call you back and say this is not what was represented or presented; this way we can work the whole thing through before you go through and contract for a certain sized sign that we wouldnt approve.
Brian Murray: When you refer to scale, me being a lay man to drawings such as this; I believe that the artist that drew this originally and I was under the impression that he drew it to scale and I just know that if it helps you that if you look at the west side of the building from the front fascia of the building to the first part where the block changes elevation it is 12 feet in width. If that helps you to sort of understand where we are coming from in terms of width on the sign. Then in terms of height of the sign, I think that we talked about 5 feet and then we figured 3 lines of copy and we figured a foot or a foot and a few inches per letter in terms of height. So I think that the sign would be simple enough in my opinion that we can discuss if is OK to discuss what the sign is going to shaped like and I think it is easy enough to explain to you without going a few steps further and not to waste your time.
Member Brennan: Do you want us to vote on this tonight? Is that what you are saying?
Brian Murray: I am just thinking that it might be able to be voted upon tonight and I am not trying to offend anybody; but we did in my opinion present a color version of the same thing......
Chairman Harrington: Mr. Murray, we have heard this and we have seen you and this is the third occasion that we have seen you. We have given you a clear message tonight as to what it is that the Board is interested in seeing from you. The "Chair" is going to make a motion,
Moved by Chairman Harrington,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
TO TABLE THIS MATTER UNTIL THE NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETING WHICH WILL BE THE FIRST TUESDAY IN JANUARY PENDING SUBMISSION OF ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FROM THE PETITIONER, IF HE CHOOSES, PENDING HIS PREPARING OF A RENDERING ON THE SIDE OF THE BUILDING OR NOT, IF HE CHOOSES, PENDING HIS SUBMISSION OF A PROPOSED COLOR PHOTO OR MOCK UP BY HIS ARTIST OR NOT IF HE CHOOSES; SO THE BALL WILL BE IN YOUR COURT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO DO ANYTHING FURTHER, THE BOARD WILL OF COURSE INSPECT YOUR SITE BETWEEN NOW AND THE NEXT MEETING AND IF YOU CHOOSE TO DO NOTHING FURTHER AND SIMPLY WISH US TO VOTE UPON THE MATERIALS THAT WE HAVE IN FRONT OF US THEN WE WILL DO SO AT THAT MEETING.
Discussion on motion:
Member Baty: I agree with everything that you said except the dimensions that accurately reflect what the sign will be like on the side of the building. That would be enough for me. I wouldnt need to have the cardboard up on the building.
Chairman Harrington: By acclamation, all in favor of tabling to the next meeting. All yeas.
Chairman Harrington: Mr. Murray your direction is clear, we have given you the opportunity to give us more information regarding your sign. You are on the agenda for the January Meeting, you will be the first scheduled sign case. If you have a problem understanding what we talked about here; either the Building Department can help you or there is also minutes of the meeting that you can read or perhaps the Board Members can straighten it out. But, I think that we have been pretty clear and direct with what we would like to see. We want to see what it is that you are really going to put up there. See you next month.
Case No. 96-098 filed by SignArt, Inc., representing Soccer Zone
SignArt, Inc., representing Soccer Zone is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 17' x 7' (119 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "SOCCER ZONE, logo" to be placed at 41550 Grand River Avenue.
Mike Williams and Jim Grace were present and duly sworn.
Mike Williams: To give you a little background, there is a pylon sign that has been approved out in the boulevard. The portion of that monument sign, which is 4' 3" by 7', the portion that is allocated to Soccer Zone is 1'5" by 7', which is about 10 square feet. It is primarily there just to mark entries so that people know how to get back to the building. If you have driven by this building the shell of the building is up already. It is a very large building and sets off of the road some 600 feet. It is about 465 feet from the property line or the right away line of Grand River Avenue to the front property line of the sort of land locked piece of property, which has 3 ingress and egress points.
Mike Williams: The reason for the sign back on the building is not to identify us from Grand River because you would just nominally see us through the trees in the winter time when the major use would take place. It is primarily to mark the entrance to the people who are in the parking lot and do it in an attractive manner, so that they know how to get to the entrance.
Mike Williams: The portion of the building that the sign is to be attached to extends out from the shelf that you see there right now and if you look at the site plan you can see how it works, that portion of the building is about 61 feet wide. The visual impact of the sign, even though when you measure it out, the 7' height by 17' width, total some 119 square feet; the actual visual impact if you were to box in the various elements is somewhere around 65 square feet and very nominal particularly given the setback of the sign from the street. If you took the whole side of that building and took 15% of it you would be allowed 1638 square feet; so visually and architecturally this sign is well within balance as far as the visual mass to which it would be attached to.
Mike Williams: That is basically it. The appeal is to allow the second sign on the building which is very nominal in size given the size of the building and the setback.
Jim Grace: As one of the owners of the Soccer Zone we have placed these same types of buildings in at least 4 other cities. We use this sign as stated by Mr. Williams to identify the entrance of the building because it is very big. If someone parks to the back on a very cold and wintery day and they have a 6 year old and are bringing the family there for the night, they drop them off at the front of the building and then go park in the back and the adult will walk around. It is just a nice way to identify the building and where it is at. Again you have 200 plus cars that will be coming in every hour. So instead of them stopping and looking around as to where to go, they will identify where they need to go and it will help with the traffic flows.
Ray DeSteiger, I am the majority owner of Ray Electric and we are at the property just east of them. Generally we are in support of their sign.
Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 16 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received, conditional. Copy in file.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: What else is on the ground pole sign besides your identification?
Mike Williams: Actually nothing will be on it to start off with, but there is intended to be a small shopping center that will use that boulevard entrance as I understand it to get at the stores that will be built back in there. The sign is rather small and rather than building a little piece here and then a little piece later it was felt to build it all as one module now with a blank face up there until the shopping center goes in. That is what the intention will be.
Member Brennan: Do you have any idea of how many businesses will ultimately be in this complex?
Mike Williams: I have no idea.
Member Brennan: Are we getting anywhere close to this being a business center sign?
Alan Amolsch: The sign that we approved only has Soccer Zone on it. There was blank copy left on it. We approved a sign that met the ordinance size and the only sign that was on there was the Soccer Zone at this time. They couldnt have any other information on it unless there was a business there.
Mike Williams: The agreement with the other property owners as I understand it, is that they would be allowed the use of about a third of the total monument entrance sign. For the time being the only thing that would appear on it would be the Soccer Zone with the idea that additional copy is added later. I think they would have to come back to the Board anyway to have the copy approved. It is just more of a matter of expediency as far as how you can construct a sign this small.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: What is the square footage of that sign?
Mike Williams: It is a total of 30 square feet, which is the maximum allowed. Now my understanding and I dont know if this just may clutter up this thing but my understanding is that at one time there was a consent judgement which allowed for a 50 square foot sign here and it was mounted significantly higher in the air and some way and another the permits werent taken in time and that sort of thing and I think this is what would be allowed under the ordinance for the total signage at that entrance. That is my understanding.
Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: They are allowed an identification sign over the existing door, is that correct?
Alan Amolsch: Only 2 square feet They have to have their address on that by Ordinance.
Member Antoisak inquired of Alan Amolsch: Do I read the ordinance correct and if they did not have a monument sign on Grand River they would be allowed up to 250 square feet?
Alan Amolsch: They would be allowed up to 180 square feet or somewhere in that area. It is the one and three setback formula. They are far off of the road on Grand River so they would be allowed quite a large sign if they did not have the ground sign. The only issue here is the number of signs.
Member Bauer: On the monument sign, are we going to have 3 names on it, eventually?
Alan Amolsch: They are not going to have any other names without your approval. The only name that was approved was Soccer Zone on the sign that is out there. If they want to put another name on that sign out there they would have to come back to the Board because this sign is going to be for Soccer Zone and it wont be able to have any other advertising on it.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: My opinion is that they have an option. I believe that they can live within the Ordinance.
Member Antosiak: I believe that a sign over the door would be appropriate in this case given the distance of the store from the road; I am just a little troubled by the fact that it is a 119 square feet. Today you are the only place to go if someone turns at that sign on Grand River, it is a rather imposing building or it will be. So I dont think that there is any question about where to go, it is only where is the door. I could understand your wanting to have your name over the door and my only concern is having your name over the door with 119 square feet. That is all.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I totally agree with that. The thing is that if we are going to have that the other needs to go. I dont see any reason for 2 signs.
Member Antosiak: Well I do given the distance from the road and the potential difficulty that I see in cars trying to turn into that driveway without a sign there indicating where it is. I can understand their desire to have a monument sign on Grand River. I think it is appropriate in this case given the distance of the building from the road.
Chairman Harrington inquired of Alan Amolsch: As I look at the appeal, if they were to decline to have their logo on the ground pole sign and simply come to the City and ask for a wall sign on the building itself, do I correctly understand that they could increase the size of that sign on the building and not just the 119 square feet, but all the way up to 283 square feet?
Alan Amolsch: I think it was between 180 and 190 square feet. I dont have the site plan in front of me but it is based upon their setback. Yes, if they did not have the monument sign and they came into the City for a sign it would be much larger.
Chairman Harrington: I am trying to understand the inter-play between. Per the ordinance Soccer Zone is allowed 187 square feet and there is a notation of 562 foot setback from the centerline; but not more than 283 square feet or 15% of the front facade or a 250 square foot maximum. In simple english, what is the largest possible sign that they could put on the building if there was no ground pole sign?
Alan Amolsch: It goes on the 1 and 3 formula. The frontage surface limit is an additional limit if the building is set about 750 feet back and then you could have a 250 square foot wall sign. That is the limit on a wall sign. What we do is take the maximum allowed sign at the 1 and 3 formula and not the surface frontage of the building.
Chairman Harrington: And the 1 and 3 formula would convert to 187 square feet?
Alan Amolsch: It would be somewhere in that area.
Member Baty: 283 pertains to any wall sign, as far as the maximum is concerned?
Alan Amolsch: If it is a 562 feet setback, it would be about 177 square foot and that would be the allowable sign.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: If you take your square footage of your monument sign or ground hugger sign and added to that, you would have the same thing anyway. What is the difference? Just get rid of one sign.
Member Bauer: It is like he said, he is not trying to get the site from Grand River with that size of a sign. It is strictly from the driveway.
Mike Williams: I think that there really is a safety issue involved. There is the convenience of people coming to this building and identifying that as the building. You do have fleeting glances of that sign from Grand River at this time of the year with the leaves off of the trees and you will see it to a degree back there, but in the summer time when there are leaves on the trees and when there are buildings in front I really dont know how much visual impact or visibility there will be from Grand River. I think the amount of traffic that goes through these and I will use Kalamazoo because that is where they built the first Soccer Zone, and every hour the parking lot changes. So there is a lot of traffic that enters and exits at the end of every hour. To mark that so that the people have the time to slow down and make the entrance responses I think would be a fairly significant safety issue. I was hoping that you would think that this was a very nominal request because of the total square footage and the huge size of the building. I am really kind of surprised that there is any kind of significant resisitance to this.
Chairman Harrington: There isnt. The problem is the Novi Code which we have to find an exception to the ordinance and we have to find that there is sufficient hardship on a case by case basis in order to grant you relief. The Novi Sign Ordinance is very tough on purpose. Let me comment on what you have just said and I think the logical problem that I have with your concept is that you are talking about people finding an entrance but they are already in the parking facility or driving through the entrances or the exits. They know that Soccer Zone is there, that is why they have come there. If you have a problem identifying your main entrance or your back entrance or your side entrance, that is a different issue than what we are presented with. By definition anyone who is in there knows that it is Soccer Zone, right? That is why they are there. They are not looking for Soccer Zone when they are looking for entrances and you are saying that we need this additional siganage and this additional square footage to delienate where the entrance is; I think that is a problem different than what this signage addresses. At least that is my reacation as I listen to you.
Mike Williams: Once the traffic is back in there you want the traffic to be operating as efficiently as possible as far as going through the door, etc. Over time the people will become accustomed to this, to the use of the building. But the first time users and those people that are curious, the grandparents that come in to watch the children play; they are not going to be familiar with it. I think it is fairly important to identify it. I would also like to remind you that I understand the rationale in how you count square footage, but if we were to put a box sign up there and box the whole area in that would be the 119 square feet and have a much larger visual impact. The actual visual impact of this is really closer to 65 square feet becuase of the individual letters, etc. The graphic of the player is a pleasing graphic, it is not something that is really advertising a product as it is sort of identifying a complex pictorially but it is part of their logo. We agreed to stick with that if possible, although I suppose that pulling that out and using the words Soccer Zone would be an alternative or it is something that could be considered. You understand the danger that I feel that we have here is that we feel that we are coming in with a very, very modest proposal considering what had originally been approved by the consent judgement and considering the size of the facility and the number of people that are going to use this facility; we feel that the proposal is very modest . We have tried to be very reasonable in this request that we have brought forward.
Chairman Harrington: We are not suggesting that you are not reasonable, but something you said caught my attention. Is it your inferrence that there is a consent judgement which should be taken into consideration by this Board?
Mike Williams: You cant, because apparently the day of taking that into consideration has passed. We acknowledge that. But at some point someone thought that was an adequate proposition.
Chairman Harrington: If there was some consent judgement that the Board has to consider then we need input from the City Attorney.
Mike Williams: There isnt at this point.
Alan Amolsch: I have checked with the City Attorney and there is none.
Chairman Harrington: So then we are going to ignore the reference to consent judgement and anything related to that. Are we in a position that you are ready to open? Where are you at in construction?
Mike Williams: They have the steel up, but not the metal siding.
Chairman Harrington: That is what it looked like today, so when are you going to be ready to open?
Jim Grace: Originally we planned on opening in October, but due to planning problems, etc. in dealing with the City we ended up having to delay to January and then we ended up with another problem as far as the cuts so we didnt get the asphalt down. The building was going to be up and running as of January 15th but because of certain approvals we couldnt get the asphalt. We are in a hold pattern. We will open in July when we will start indoor hockey on the surface and this will be prior to soccer which opens October 10th of next year.
Chairman Harrington: What date is it that you anticipate opening for business?
Jime Grace: We hope to have the business up and running in July. We will finish the building and enclose it because we cant use the parking area. We are going to complete the building with the contractors because we have obligations to them.
Chairman Harrington: Is the proposed ground pole sign up at the present?
Mike Williams: No they have to work on the boulevard.
Chairman Harrington: My additional comment is that besides tending to agree with Mr. Reinke on this one, we are being asked to approve variance for signage where the building isnt even complete yet. We dont even have a proposed ground pole sign to look at nor do we have as we expressed in the previous petitioner any kind of rendering other than we do have a picture and it is a good one, but I am being asked to speculate as to what necessary signage is based on future traffic which may occur in July. I am not inclined to support a variance at this point until I am satisfied that A) it is esential and B) that is the minimum signage that is necessary to accomplish the purpose and I am not convinced that it is. I am not convinced that it has to be the square footage as suggested there. Mr. Reinke is probably correct, there hasnt been a showing yet that the ground pole signage is not sufficient.
Member Antosiak: As I stated earlier, Mr. Chairman, I believe something is necessary. At this point I am uncomfortable with 120 square feet. I am open to suggestions.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think that what we are trying to do is to get a true perspective of this as to what your needs are and to try to live as close as we can with the City Ordinance. Not saying that maybe relief needs to be granted to this. But until we can get a better perspective of this, I really cant support your petition.
Member Antosiak inquired of Alan Amolsch: If the petitioner were to elect to get a wall sign under the ordinance, would they be allowed any type of signage at the street?
Alan Amolsch: Only the driveway entrance signs of 3 square feet and 6 feet high; they would just say enter and exit. They have already pulled permits for 2 of those on Meadowbrook Road and they have been approved.
Member Bauer: When are the skins going to be put on it? The walls?
Mike Williams: I would imagine the contractor is going to move forward with that as fast as possible. The urgency on this building is gone now because of the inability to get the asphalt in on time. So, it is hard to say what the schedule is.
Jim Gray: The skin for the building has been delivered, it is left on the ground it will rust and be miserable so it will go up as quick as Mr. Garrishs company can do it.
Member Bauer: So it will be up sometime in January? The reason why I am saying this is that we have done this in the past and we have had a mock up sign on the outside as to what it would look like.
Jim Gray: We could do that. Again if any of you go to Flint, Grand Rapids or Lansing and see any of our signs there, that is what you they look like. But, if that is what you are requesting we will certainly would entertain that.
Member Brennan: I was going to suggest the same thing as Mr. Bauer did. The one thing that struck me is that the building does sit back nearly 120 yards. My personal feeling is that this particular graphic might be a little misleading when looking at the building from Grand River. Looking at it from Grand River that sign even as you have asked for might be very small, I dont know. It might do you some service to what has been done fairly inexpensively in the past a plastic rendering or....
Jim Gray: All of our facilities are set well back. All of them have signage similar to that. And again with the customers that we have and the various other people in the park they all appreciate because they dont want 200 cars going through their parking lot or around their buildings back there. They dont want those 200 cars going by their buildings. I think that you will find that the signage is not offensive. It is not outrageous. It doesnt illuminate the area.
Chairman Harrington: Here is how it practially works. The Board receives packets of materials for every meeting. The Board Members go out and inspect the site as best they can in preparation for the meeting. The problem that we have here is that we dont have existing signage that we can go out and eyeball and get a sense of and which is often important to our decisions and if I were to ask you in terms of a timetable and clearly you have to have some signage in place by your July 1 opening which is why I wanted to know when you were opening. In terms of a phase that would be appropriate for you to bring this matter in front of us and if we can give you a direct table until the January, February, March, April or May Meeting is there a timetable where you will be further along that you can work with us in terms of a mock up or rendering or the equivalent or you are going to have the ground pole sign out there so we can see how the 2 are going to relate to each other?
Chairman Harrington: I would indicate to you that the Board always wants to work with petitioners when they have a geniune hardship. As far as I am concerned you can pick the month of the meeting between now and July and I am sure that it can be put back on the agenda; so dont feel that you have to get back here in January if that rushes, but dont wait until the June Meeting if you are going to open in July. When you are farther along that you can give us new information that we can look at we will be happy to drive out there before that scheduled meeting and take a look.
Jim Gray: How about April?
Chairman Harrington: This will be on for the April call, in the event that should prove to be to late for you or to early for you let us know and we will work with you on this one. The Meeing is the first Tuesday, April 1.
Chairman Harrington indicated by acclamation all in favor of tabling until the April Meeting?
Voice vote. All yeas. Case tabled to the April Meeting.
Case No. 96-100 filed by Ameritech Cellular Services
Ameritech cellular Service is requesting a vriance to allow a sign 18'5" x 3'4" (63 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "AMERITECH CULLULAR CENTER", for property located at 43215 Grand River Ave.
Bryan Monaghan and Randy Schmid were present and duly sworn.
Bryan Monaghan presented pictures to the Board.
Bryan Monaghan: What we are requesting today is obviously a sign variance. There is some existing signage on the building right now. There are 2 primary problems with the existing signage. First I think these 2 photographs dramatically illustrate that we have an extremely small sign in our location. Particularly compared to the neighboring illuminated signs for Kinkos and PC Express the computer store on the west side of the store. That in itself is the problem. The actual size of the sign. That is by the way the maximum size of the sign that is allowed under the code, what you see there now. It is impossible for us to illuminate that sized sign as we have indicated on the plan for the larger sign that we are proposing. It is impossible for us to illuminate that sign because individcual letter sign similar to what Kinkos has right next door, given the technology of neon sign and being outside. But what we can do with that square footage is to go to a box sign which we dont want to do. We think that the individual lettering is more consistent with the neighboring signs and the intent of the Novi Ordinance and with the overall quality and integrity of signage in Novi.
Bryan Monaghan: The last comment I would like to point out is the particular that we are requesting. A large portion of the actual variance and I have done some lawyer caluculations here so who knows if it is right, we have the orbit logo and that accounts for almost 20 square feet of the actual variance that we are requesting. That orbit logo is such an integral part of the Ameritech logo that it is almost impossible to envision putting up an Ameritech sign without that orbit logo. I know that there are some folks at the corporate headquarters for Ameritech who firmly believe that is impossible to do. That is essentially dead space. If you strip that away however what we are looking at is a 39 square foot sign as opposed to the requested 63. I think that is what accounts for the large actual variance that is requested. I think that when you look at the sign and compare it with the photographs the size that we are requesting is very much consistent with the neighboring businesses. It will alleviate the problems that Ameritech is faced with now, which is A) a sign that is almost unreadable even if you are just on the other side of the street, let alone if you are in a car travelling at 40 miles per hour on Grand River and the fact that we cant illuminate that particular sized sign without going to the box sign which would then just be a plain white background with lettering of Ameritech Cellular Center on it.
Bryan Monaghan: I would be happy to answer any questions that the Board might have.
Chairman Harrington indicated there was a total of 12 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Member Brennan: The petitioner has portrayed these to adjoining businesses as having large signs. Alan are these signs within the Ordinance; the Kinkos and the PC Express?
Alan Amolsch: Yes, they are because they have larger store fronts, so they are allowed larger signs. This particular store only has a 34 foot store front which only allows them the 24 square foot sign.
Member Antosiak: The current sign is 24 square feet?
Alan Amolsch: Yes.
Member Brennan: Did you understand that is why there is a difference in the signage?
Bryan Monaghan: Absolutely. I didnt mean to indicate that we are asking for the variance because our neighbors have bigger signs, I was trying to indicate that the sign that we are requesting is not any larger than those signs. We are not going out of the norm as to what our neighbors have. Obviously we are asking for something more than the ordinance permits.
Mamber Antosiak: I have to comment on that because you are asking for something out of the norm. You are asking for 63 square feet. You commented on what I will call the Ameritech swooch as the main cause of that overage, but that is the way that we measure signage or the square footage in Novi and we have to take that into account. Given that you will be 50% larger, your sign would be if we were to grant your variance 50% larger roughly than the signs on either side of you. That troubles me. I think I could support a variance request, having driven by the store a couple of time, but not that much of a variance.
Chairman Harrington: What Mr. Antosiak is talking about, I think, is a porportionality concept which I heartily endorse under these circumstances.
Bryan Monaghan: I took that to heart and in fact how about 40 square feet?
Member Brennan: Does this mean that you are reducing your signage request?
Bryan Monaghan: Probably, ulitmately, yes.
Chairman Harrington: Putting it a different way, could you live with, but not that we are going to grant it, but could you live with a 40 square foot signage in contrast to what you have asked for in your petition?
Bryan Monaghan: Yes, I think that given the alternative of what we have 40 square feet would be a marked improvement.
Chairman Harrington inquired of Member Antosiak: Would 40 square feet be more porpotional in your view?
Member Antosiak: Yes, it would.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: Why do we have to have a billboard, why cant it just say Ameritech?
Bryan Monaghan: A number of reasons. We have to have the cellular center on there because this Ameritech Company is Ameritech Cellular Services which we are not to be confused with Ameritech Michigan which is the phone company.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: What is the first thing that a person is going to recognize on a sign? Ameritech.
Bryan Monaghan: Absolutely.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: All right. Point. Stop at that point.
Bryan Monaghan: We would love to except for Ameritech Michigan which is a publicly regulated and completely separate company from Ameritech Cellular and they will not allow us to use just the phrase Ameritech.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: Then technically you are confusing people anyway.
Bryan Monaghan: We dont think that is necessarily true. When they think of Ameritech Cellular Services and I know I for example try to use that phrase as often as possible.
Chairman Harrington: Do I take it that you are separate business or a separate entity? A separate corporation or LP or whatever?
Bryan Monaghan: Absolutely. A separate corporation. Obviously we are related because of the one controlling umbrella corporation but we are on the private non-regulated side and through a whole bunch of different legal reasons we cant even deal with them. They are a publicly regulated company and we cant even use their name.
Member Antosiak: Working for a public utility that has non-regulated affiliates, I can vouch for Mr. Monaghans description of the separate identities we attempt to give our different businesses and in some cases are required to give.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: It seems to me that we are getting a trade off on name wise here and I am wondering if it really warrants the addition. Is it self created? Everyone else in that center has been able to live within the ordinance and by what they chose to put on there it has limited the size of the sign and the size of the verbiage. I think it is self created.
Member Baty: I think that it is unreasonable to ask companies to name themselves based upon our sign ordinance, though.
Chairman Harrington: I think that the problem is inherent within the corporate logo of that particular entity which obviously is state wide and is not subject to remedy, it is self created by virtue of the person who named it but it is not a situation where I think that it has been created for this particular circumstance. I think that makes it a little bit different in the self creation and I am not sure which part of Ameritch that the could lop off to work with us or even cellular services either. I think it is a problem. Unfortunately I am just wondering if 40 square feet is to big. Is that what you would have to have?
Bryan Monaghan: (no audio) the standard size and what has been represented as being minimum for that type of individual lettering. What we are trying to do is to stay away from a box sign.
Chairman Harrington: Can you live with Ameritech Cellular? Is center indiguous and inherent within your operation and how you do business? Or is it Ameritech Cellular, Center? What is it?
Bryan Monaghan: It is in fact part of the overall geographic marketing scheme. By that I mean the 5 states that Ameritech does business with is that they tried.....What Ameritech used to do was that in every community that it worked in it would have several different stores. Stores that took payments and did paging. Stores that just sold cellular equipment. They have consolidated all that into one store and called it the Ameritech Cellular Center and that is the same phraseology that they use everywhere in all of the 12 or so communities that they are in the greater metropolitan Detroit area as well as the other various metropolitan areas throughout the 5 state region.
Chairman Harrington inquired of Alan Amolsch: Have we established the actual square footage of the 2 signs next to them right now?
Alan Amolsch: I can get that for you.
Chairman Harrington: Do you have a ball park on that?
Alan Amolsch: I know that the one is 40 square feet (PC Express) and I believe that the other is around 30 (Kinkos).
Member Brennan: My comment is that I believe the petitioner has the right to show his name as what is legally his name. I believe that they have at least convinced me that they need to have Ameritech Cellular Center. We have asked them to lop off 23 square feet and getting it closer to the permissable; which would make it a little bit more in line with the other signage on the same storefront. I believe that they have agreed to that. I would be supportive of a motion that would limit that sign and however they can configure it to 40 square feet.
Member Bauer: I would go for 40 square feet also.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I still think that the Center part of the name is not needed; but that is just one persons opinion. I really dont even think that Cellular is warranted. I think that we are putting a billboard there but I would go along and even consider Cellular as part of it. But Cellular Center, I dont see where Center has any connotation on it.
Moved by Member Brennan,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 96-100 THAT THE PETITIONERS REQUEST FOR A VARIANCE ON SIGNAGE BE GRANTED AND LIMITED TO 40 SQUARE FEET WITH THE VERBIAGE "AMERTECH CELLULAR CENTER". THE VARIANCE WILL BE SPECIFIC TO THAT LANGUAGE AND TO THIS PETITIONER ONLY.
Discussion on motion:
Vice-Chairman Reinke: Is there a reason for the variance? What is the hardship?
Member Brennan: I think that the petitioner has demonstrated that there is limited visibility with the current signage.
Vice-Chairman Reinke: I accept that as a reason, I just wanted a reason to be stated.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Reinke Motion Carried
The Meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m
Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan