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





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

Baty (alternate)


Absent: Member Meyer


Also Present: Donald M. Saven - Building Official

Steve Cohen - Staff Planner

Alan Amolsch - Ordinance Enforcement Officer

Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary




Chairman Antosiak indicated the Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the Novi City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of Novi Zoning Ordinances. It takes a vote of four (4) Members to approve a variance and a vote of the majority of the Members present to deny a variance. With our alternate here this evening, we have a full Board of six (6) Members; so any decision that is made tonight will be final.





Chairman Antosiak inquired is there any proposed changes to the Agenda?


Don Saven: I would like to pull Case No. 97-051 from the Agenda based upon the recent submittal of a sealed document to our office regarding the placement of the house on the property and it is no longer in violation of the City of Novi Ordinance.


Chairman Antosiak: Are there any other proposed changes? Hearing none, move to approve the Agenda as amended. All in favor, please say aye. (all ayes). Agenda Approved.




Chairman Antosiak indicated we also have the minutes of the July 1, 1997 Meeting, are there any changes proposed to those minutes? Hearing none, move to approve the minutes as drafted. All in favor, please say aye. (all ayes). Minutes Approved.




Chairman Antosiak indicated this is the Public Remarks portion of our Meeting. All comments related to a case before the Board this evening will be heard at the time that case is heard. If anyone in the audience would like to address the Board on any other matter not related to a specific case this is the time to do so. Is there anyone in the audience who would like to come forward? (No one wished to be heard at this time.)



Case No. 97-052 filed by Luma Building Company (rehearing)


Rehearing of case filed by Luma Building Company requesting setback variances for lot 234, 22523 Fuller Drive in the Royal Crown Subdivision.


David Perry Attorney for Luma Building Company was present.


David Perry: I was here for the July Meeting and we have since had the subject properties surveyed and I think that the variances are a little different than the original petition. We would ask that any variance granted would be in line with the sealed survey that was filed with the City that Mr. Saven has referred to earlier that shows that lot 235 is conforming but I think that there is about a half of foot or so difference now and the rear corner of the property has an existing side yard of 8.51 and the front corner is 7.97, so it would be 2.03 feet in the front and 1.49 to the back. The previous site plan and survey showed also that there may have been a side yard encroachment on the west side of the property and that now is 11.17 so the other side yard is in total conformity.


David Perry: I think that the Board if fairly well informed as to what happened in this instance. Somewhere along the line somebody didn’t do something quite right. There was a mistake and the Board saw fit last month to approve this variance. I don’t have any facts to add. To do anything other than approving it would mean that you would have to tear down the house. The perspective homeowner, I think, has sent a letter to the Board which you may or may not have read and I think that he wants to have an opportunity to address the Board also. Unless there are any specific questions for us, I would just be telling you the same thing that I told you last month.


Don Saven: The City of Novi is known as a very progressive community and the July 1, 1997 Meeting that was conducted was our first time that we got on board with computers to tie in with the county for notification purposes and having the ability to computerize our system for notification. Unfortunately there is a time lapse between new owners and the notification to the City. Since that time and even working on it at the present time, we are changing our policy and this issue should possibly never happen again (and hopefully it does not) but we are still working the bugs out and hopefully we have them taken care of at this time. But due to the fact, that there was improper notification it was necessary in communicating with our City Attorney that we do conduct a rehearing in this matter.

David Perry: The statue does require that the occupants within 300 feet be notified. I don’t know what the internal problems were, but it kind of goes to show that the City of Novi can also make some mistakes. We made a mistake whenever we constructed the house and we are asking this Board to grant us a variance so that the people who have bought the home and who are living with in-laws can move into the home. Thank you.




Jianzhong Jiao, 22535 Fuller Dr. Read a prepared statement. Copy in file.


Chairman Antosiak: One comment, Mr. Jiao, while we may be able to deal with your first 2 conditions we cannot deal with your third. If you believe that you have cause against Luma Building you are going to have to press that cause yourself.


David Perry: With regard to what notification Luma Building had, I believe that your file probably contains a letter written on May 6, 1997 by Mr. Hal Hultman who is the Building Inspector and that letter told Luma Building what the problem was and what the solution was. Luma Building has complied with whatever it was directed to do. We categorically deny that we were put on notice any sooner than when we got the notice from the City. I think the homeowner next door was a little less than genuine when he said that we ignored what the City had asked us to. We did exactly what the City asked us to do and petitioned this Board for variances on both lots to bring them into conformance when we thought there was a problem and we had the survey to indicate that there was a problem with 235. Now we have the certified survey that is sealed and says that there isn’t.


Chairman Antosiak: That letter is in our file, sir.


Mark Grover: My wife and I are the perspective homeowners on lot 234 in Royal Crown. We are disappointed that we have to be here in front of you again. We had submitted a letter to you recently and hopefully you received it and have had the opportunity to review it. If you have, then I will not take you time to read it. (copy in file) I certainly can’t speak to when the builder was notified and what course of action that he took regarding the proximity of the houses. Clearly the proximity and the privacy issues are real and they are equal for both parties. The distance from the houses are the same in both directions. In terms of notification, we were notified of this issue on July 1st and made it here the same day to appear before you at your last meeting and the requested variance was approved by 4 to 2. We would certainly hope that request for a variance would meet a similar decision tonight. Regarding the proximity of the houses and the requests for the conditional variance that have been previously detailed, we would find it incredible that we would be asked to change the one window that we have on that side of the house. It is unfortunate that our neighbor has several windows facing us, but as we purchased this house and went through the construction we were very aware of the size of the house and the proximity of the houses next to us and took steps to reduce those living issues or privacy issues and actually removed some windows. So we would certainly oppose and find it regrettable that we would lose the one window that we have on the west side of our house. In terms of landscaping, that may diminish the privacy issues and create some privacy and we would certainly support that to the extent that the landscaping that is proposed is on lot 235 and that seems to be a workable alternative. At this point I would ask if you have any questions for me? I would certainly be happy to address those.


Carol Rietzke, 22572 Fuller Dr. I am troubled by the fact that apparently this issue was made known to the City long before the construction of this house was ever completed and apparently it just fell through the cracks. It was my impression that after the houses are staked and before the holes are dug that the City is supposed to come out and look and then they look again once the cement is poured. It seems like something should have been caught before this and should have been followed up on so that we don’t reach this point of someone ready to move into a house and then not able to do it because all of sudden it doesn’t meet the codes. The houses on lots 234 and 235 are too close to the naked eye. You just go by and you can tell that the houses are too close. So it is incredible to me that it could have gone on this long without the City doing something about it.


David Braesker, 22571 Fuller Dr. It seems to me that for what I have seen here and I don’t know all of the history of who is wrong or who is right as when it should have been caught or corrected. We have Luma for our builder also and we have experienced some real difficulty in getting things done with respect to our home. This doesn’t surprise me that this matter has come up now. I believe that they probably have some responsibility perhaps as well as the City. To me it is a pattern that I predicted and is something that is not surprising. Thank you.


Tom Harvey, 1603 West Lake Drive. I don’t live any where near these people, but just hearing this story it really clarifies to me that there is this pervasive attitude now a days to build the biggest house on the smallest lot. I think that if you are platting and building a whole new subdivision like this and you are going to cut right down to the minimums on side yards, you are taking the responsibility to do it right. Give yourself some room or be responsible if you screw it up. Just listening to this story, I think that the fact that the house is built creates a huge tragedy and it is a dramatic episode; but the fact is that continuing completion to the finish is not a hardship in itself. I think that in this case every emphasis has got to be made for the individuals who already live in this neighborhood and with all respect to the people who just purchased this house I hope that you deal with this in the most fair way possible for the people who do live there already.


Mark Grover: If I might just address the issue of hardship and we feel that we are carrying a tremendous burden here and certainly as I stated in my letter to the Board (copy in file) we think that we have been doing everything right here. We have been acting responsibly and ethically through this whole process. We came to the Meeting July 1st and the variance was approved and at that point we had a significant investment in the house and since July 1st we have put over $20,000.00 of additional costs into this house in improvements that we have paid for out of pocket. To now hear that we don’t face any financial hardship is ridiculous. We have sold, closed and moved out of our existing house. We have had to move out and put all of our belongings into storage. All we are trying to do is to move into a nice house and I think that we have gotten that. I certainly hear and understand and may someday have similar issues with the builder; I don’t know that at this point. I would certainly ask that if people do have issues with the builder that they address those outside of this forum where they may get relief. Thank you.


Wenqui Wang, 22535 Fuller. I am the wife of Jianzhong Jiao. I just want to make one point to add onto what he said. What actually makes us determined to pursue the matter is not just that Luma made a mistake, anybody could make a mistake. It is the fact that Luma has been warned repeatedly by both us and the City and Luma showed no respect to the City regulations and did not care at all of the homeowner’s interest. We believe that as a homeowner we did all that we could to prevent this from happening at a very early stage of the construction. We believe that if Luma is granted the unconditional variance on lot 234 we the homeowner will bare all of the costs and take all of the consequences for Luma’s intentional mistake. Here I just want to ask of the City and the Zoning Board of Appeals and all of our neighbors, is this fair? Also, if Luma total disregards the City regulation and warning is it right to let Luma Building get away with this. I think that we all agree that any law and any regulation without enforcement is just a piece of paper. Here we just hope that the Zoning Board will help us to enforce the law. That is all.


Luigi Cervi: What I want to tell the Board here, the people on lot 235 are saying that they notified me that the house was too close. I am Luigi Cervi and I never talked to them. The only time that I spoke to them, I spoke to Hal Hultman and they said that they visited the house next door and they claimed that it might be too close to lot 235 and that is the only time that Mr. Hal Hultman told me; but I never spoke to the people next door or they said to me that you are building the house to close to 235. That is all.




Don Saven: Just as a follow up this gentleman pretty well hit it on the head; dealing with large houses on small lots are a very difficult matter. Sometimes it is a very tough issue to deal with. In construction and I am going to make it as plain as I can state it, when we dig a basement in construction you have to get in the hole to set forms. That means that hole is over dug for that basement by approximately 3 feet. Yes, it is true that we do have a staking inspection through the Building Department and that is really for the feasibility of placing that house on the lot and can it work? That is exactly what we did. The minute that house goes into the hole, a matter of just cocking it just a little bit can create a problem. If you think about it, when you have no room for error it makes it very difficult. I am not going to say that this happens all of the time and I am not going to say that this is a situation but it is a fact that the tighter it goes the more difficult it is going to be to achieve. That is basically what I wanted to indicate.



Member Harrington inquired of Mr. Jiao: Were you aware of the Meeting last month? Did you know that it was going on?


Jian Jiao: No.


Member Harrington: No one very told you?


Jian Jiao: Nobody.


Member Harrington: Did you ever call the City and say is there is a variance request filed or anything like that?


Jian Jiao: I have never received a letter.


Member Harrington: Have you ever contacted the City to see if a variance request had been filed, because you sent an extensive letter to Mr. Saven in May, correct? But you didn’t really want to confront the builder because you had your own issues with the builder at that time, right?


Jian Jiao: Correct.


Member Harrington: So you never followed up o see if a variance was requested?


Jian Jiao: Yes, I talked to Mr. Saven in early June. He said "I will let you know", and nobody let me know. When I came back from international trip, I called Nancy and she said that she sent all of the letters out and I said "sorry I didn’t receive any letter" and that was after the hearing.


Member Harrington inquired of Mr. Grover: Your occupancy status right now is, that you are in storage, in transit or in the house?


Mr. Grover: Our belongings are in storage and we are staying with relatives.


Member Harrington: I assume that you have not received a Certificate of Occupancy.


Mr. Grover: No and my understanding was that all the final inspections had been completed, we were seeking the Certificate of Occupancy for July 25th and that was denied.


Member Harrington: And that would be conditioned presumably in part on our granting the variance, so if you don’t receive a variance you may never move in?


Mr. Grover: That is correct.


Member Brennan: Clarification: Mr. Jiao wasn’t there a letter stating that you were going to be out of town for a period of time and asked that last month’s meeting not be held on this case.


Don Saven: That is correct, that was May 28th.


Member Brennan: So he did notify the City that he was going to be out of town .


Member Brennan: I have 2 comments. First of all, this is a rehearing so we are hearing new information and that is why everybody is here and Mr. Jiao and the neighbors I personally appreciate your interest in coming down and presenting the way that you have because it is new information and affects my feelings about this case as does Mr. Grover’s position and I sympathize and I am a homeowner too and I can’t imagine the grief that you are going through. What I have not heard is anything new from Luma Building. They have heard all new information tonight that we have heard, they have heard new information from Mr. Grover and the position that he is in; he is screwed, glued and tattooed and these people are****(upset) and we have had nothing presented from Luma that moves anywhere from the position that they presented in July, "we made a mistake". The window has been open and yet no one has made any effort to come forward. So, I guess that if that is your position for Luma Building and Mr. Perry that your position is unchanged from last time and given everything new that we have heard; I am ready to vote.


David Perry: I haven’t heard anything that I wasn’t already aware of other than the request for conditional variances and quite frankly that is the first that we have ever heard of it. No one came to us saying "you know you could plant a row of trees or something there and give us the privacy". I am not in a position in this point in time to say yes or no. The homeowner seems to feel that it is a good idea as long as it goes on the other homeowners lot. Without permission from the other homeowner, we can’t go in there. I don’t know if you can put a condition on that requires us to do something on a lot that is not under consideration. We will do whatever it takes to try and get this done. I can tell you right now that the homeowner is not going to want us to come in a tear a window out, that is the only window that he has. The idea of planting some screening trees there, quite frankly I think is a good idea. I am sure that if this Board conditions it’s variance on that, Luma will comply. I would suggest that in looking at the blue prints that there is a considerable difference in length in these 2 homes along that line and I don’t know that the owner on 234 wants a line of trees going way out in front of his house. I think that it might be reasonable to put in a line of trees the width of the house on lot 234 or actually the depth of a sufficient size to provide some screening. I am sure that it is going to be costly, but not nearly as costly as tearing a house down. If you are asking me, that is what I would tell Mr. Cervi to do. I think it is probably reasonable. I think that if he came back up here he would probably say "yes, we can do that".


Member Harrington: Just a few comments. Mr. Brennan has clarified the issues before us, but let me back up just a little bit to where we were last month and why I think that we are here tonight. For those of you who were not here last month; we were faced with the issue of what to do with a clear violation of the side yard setbacks in view of the fact that they dug 2 houses in the wrong spot. Fortunately one of the houses "only" is in the wrong spot. The options that we face, as I saw it last month, were to deny the variance, immediately generate a litigation which would cost not thousands but tens of thousands of dollars and or have voluntary compliance with picking up the house with a crane and or tearing down the house and moving it so that it is in compliance. None of which seemed to me to be the best method of resolving. I think that the Board was wise in it’s discretion in a difficult case. This was not an easy case. In a difficult case we granted the variance in view of the information that we had before us. We are now this month on rehearing and have all interested parties furnishing all information that they think is appropriate to this Board and they have done so. The only significant difference because we did receive the position of the homeowner last month, is that he is asking for this Board to award $34,000.00 as well as losses attached in his exhibit of $7,000.00 for a total sum of $41,000.00 from Luma Building Company. The discretion of this Board as I understand it; number one - we are not in a position of back stopping the City, we are not a City Building Department agency - we are here to try to rectify mistakes as best we can in our discretion. Number two - we have no authority whatsoever to grant monetary damages - I think that our conditioning a variance on planting of trees may or may not be within our historic discretion but I think that is an issue that probably ought to be addressed between Mr. Jiao and the Luma representatives in the back hall while we take on other matters. The real issue as to the impact of the wrong is not for this body, that is what lawyers and courts are made for and I would strongly suggest that if there is an interim accommodation made that the parties consider if they want to waive their right to seek $41,000.00 or $41,000,000.00 in damages. That is not our jurisdiction. Our jurisdiction is do we grant the variance which permits Mr. Grover and his family to occupy the house that he is closing on or do we deny that variance. The other fact that I would add is that I went out there and drove by the property today, then drove back and forward and back and forward and my perception in terms of do you remove a window because it is too close; the large window is that of Mr. Grover’s and it appears that there are narrow windows on Mr. Jiao house next door and I am not convinced that 2 feet or 10 feet would make any difference in terms of the privacy impact. That is why God made curtains and I am convinced that is why God invented them. If you don’t want someone to look into your house you put up curtains, shades or blinds or the like; but the existence of a window one way or the other I don’t think is the kind of issue that we ought to be dealing with. The issue of privacy screening if the affected parties can come to an accommodation, that is terrific. If they want to preserve their right to seek redress in another form God bless them; that is why God also made courts. I think that our issue is a narrow one and that is should we overturn a decision that was previously made and the only difference in what I hear tonight versus what I heard last month is that there was no request for $41,000.00 last month and now we have that here; it could be a great request but this the wrong forum for it. I haven’t heard any new facts. It is still a tough case. If we deny the variance Mr. Grover and his family are going to have a lot of heart to heart discussions outside of the new home that they have bought. So I am inclined to reaffirm the variance. I am also inclined to suggest that if the other Board Members concur is that the Luma representative, their attorney, and Mr. Jiao and Mr. Grover go out and talk to see if they can resolve issues and perhaps avoid us in making a hard decision in this case.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I concur with that. I think that the whole situation is unfortunate all the way around. I think this is a prime example as the Building Department has alluded to, building too large a home on an existing lot; just pushing to the maximum. As Mr. Harrington has suggested, I would suggest also that the 2 parties and the builder maybe go out and discuss the possibilities that they can work together or work on before we finalize our decision on this rehearing.


Member Baty: I would like to see that happen also. My biggest concern and the question that I am asking in my mind is was this a self imposed hardship? I don’t see anything here one way or the other that answers that question. I don’t see a letter from Mr. Jiao to the builder early on stating that the houses appear to be too close; I don’t have that in my package to know if whether or not the builder was indeed aware that the houses were to close and therefore it would be self imposed.


Member Harrington: I think it is pretty clear that there was some notice early on and there was some notice back and forth but I think it was long after the hole was dug and it is one of those situations do you un-dig the hole and take down the concrete, forms and fittings. Where all of that occurred in terms of Notice I don’t know and we don’t have information on that. I am sure that Luma did not intend to impose this wrong hole digging upon himself and I know that given another opportunity he would love to dig that hole again and not be here tonight, nor would Mr. Grover or Mr. Jiao.


Member Harrington: I would suggest that we table this matter and allow the participants in this issue to confer at their leisure in the back. I know that we have some other matters that are going to take some time tonight.


Chairman Antosiak: I would concur. But, before I make that proposal I will just add that at the last Meeting I voted against granting this variance; I would vote the same way this evening. I think that gentleman has summarized my opinion pretty closely. If you were building a 60 foot wide house on an 80 foot lot with 10 foot side yard setbacks, you had better get it right. If you don’t; I look for the risk of being wrong on the builder and not on the ZBA to correct a builder’s mistake. I am concerned that we are sitting here discussing correcting the builder’s mistake. I am also a little concerned because I hear the comments from Mr. Grover and some of the audience members that "this is somehow the City’s fault or that this is somehow our fault for not approving the variance" and yet no one seems to be looking to the builder who created the situation in the first place. In my opinion, this is a self created hardship and we have refused to approve variances for self created hardships in the past. So that is my opinion and hearing all of our opinions I would propose to all of the interested parties that they convene in the atrium and we would table this request for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or whatever it takes you to reach an amicable conclusion or to come back and not reach that agreement and in which case we would then vote on the variance request. Is that acceptable to the involved parties at this point? Mr. Jiao has offered us an alternative that we did not have at the last meeting and I am asking you if there is reason for you to confer and to decide if that is a suitable alternative or not.


David Perry: I don’t think that it hurts to talk. We would ask that you table this until we have had this opportunity. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes or whatever.


Chairman Antosiak: We will table this until you come back and tell us that you are ready to either propose a solution or to ask us to vote.



Case No. 97-053 filed by Jon Sarkesian Architects, representing Hagopian World of Rugs


Jon Sarkesian Architects, representing Hagopian World of Rugs, is requesting a parking variance of seventeen (17) spaces to allow for the construction of a building at 43223 Twelve Mile Road.


Jon Sarkesian was present and duly sworn.


Jon Sarkesian: We are requesting a parking variance from you. I would like to ask if you need or would like me to explain the how the land banked parking requirement evolved, it is called the Dobb’s Amendment. Are you all familiar with that?


Jon Sarkesian: As you know, this Hagopian World of Rugs is classified as a furniture store. At present the ordinance requires 1 space for 110 square feet for the first 15,000 and then 1 space for 125 for the remaining. We are allowed an exception for a furniture store to recalculate at 1 space for 800, due to the nature of the business. The theory with the land banked parking is that if the business fails we need to be able to provide parking for some other use for the store. The nature of a building such as a retail space that would be used as a furniture store, if Hagopian were to fail, the only possible reuses for a building like that would probably be office or retail. The parking ordinance as it stands right now is 1 for 200 for office and 1 for 125 for retail. Therefore, there are no other actual uses other than the initial 1 for 110 that we are classified for that we get the exception from. There are no other uses that have 1 per 110; that are that stringent.


Jon Sarkesian: So as you know, the ordinance is up for revision because of that. It was basically a swing to far in the strict direction to over compensate for the Dobb’s’s situation. The ordinance is being reviewed and we understand that it most probably be adopted by the City Council to be revised to 1 space per 200 and then the 1 per 800 exemption.


Jon Sarkesian: I would like to just give you a brief description of how we got into this position. As you may be aware of, we are in for permit and are in for our working drawing. We would not have the audacity to do a set of working drawings for a building that is not conforming. We presented the original for preliminary site plan approval quite sometime ago and the original building had 26,790 gross square feet and we met the present parking ordinance and more than met the land banked parking requirement. The building site from the northwest corner to the southeast corner drops 50 feet. There is a 50 foot vertical drop on the site. It is a very difficult site to build on. In creating a building that would work on that site we arrived at a solution that has rather large floor to floor height differences. Your average commercial building might have a 13 or 14 foot floor to floor height. This building has 21 foot floor to floor height from the 2 story space which is on the west side of the building to the lower ground level that is on the southeast side of the building. As we started developing this building in terms of working drawings after we got our preliminary site plan approval, we realized that with this rather large floor to floor height we could very easily squeeze in a small mezzanine for office function that would allow Hagopian World of Rugs to move their headquarters to this building. They have been in Oak Park since 1948. They are interested in consolidating and moving their headquarters here to Novi. We saw this as an opportunity to develop the building in a prudent manner and it had no impact on the building foot print or the building elevation or the grades. It was just that basically we had all of this room from floor to floor so we wanted to squeeze in a small mezzanine. We approached the Planning Consultant, Brandon Rogers, back in January to tell him of our situation and that we realized this potential and how should we go about approaching this. Brandon told us of the pending change and that it should probably be accepted within the next few months, or it would be accepted before we finished our working drawings. So we proceeded on the working drawings and completed that and went in for a permit and as you know it’s coming close to the time where they are going to accept that; but we are in the position now where we have a building that doesn’t meet the zoning requirements and we are in for a permit and ready to start construction. That is why we are here.


Jon Sarkesian: The building as it is with the immediate parking requirements aside from the land banking; we are providing 23 extra spaces. The requirement as it is designed with the mezzanine requires 43 spaces and we are providing 66. Again with the old ordinance we are short actually 16 spaces and with the revision or the 1 for 200 we will actually be required for land banking 150 spaces and we have the capability of putting 191 spaces on the site.


Jon Sarkesian: That basically is the issue. Once again I would like to emphasize that we are requesting a variance for the theoretical deferred parking that only comes into play if Hagopian goes out of business. As you know, they have been around for a long time and they are a household name. Basically we don’t think that is going to happen. We think that we have a great building and it is going to be an asset to the City of Novi and we would like to ask for your consideration for a variance.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 6 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there is a letter in our file from Brandon Rogers stating approval.




Steve Cohen: The Planning Department has no objections to this variance. We wanted to up date you on the status of the Zoning Ordinance update. Back in November the Planning Commission held their public hearing for this and at that time there was no objection to these revised parking requirements. Since then, several sessions have been held by Council and now in August it appears that the first reading will be ready for review by City Council. We hope and we plan that the second reading will be approved by City Council sometime in late August, which means that if that happens with the current parking requirements proposed this site will no longer be deficient and as the applicant has said they will have 49 extra spaces. We think that this is a great use for the site. We have no objection to the variance.


Don Saven: Even with the addition of the mezzanine area we have no objection, it is a very difficult site, a topographical nightmare.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: The only point being is that it looks like the ordinance is being reviewed and changed to where if it were enacted at this point it in time that he wouldn’t be before the Board, so I have no problem with supporting the request since the Planning Commission and everybody else is also supporting this.


Member Harrington: Do I have some memory that this case was going to come before us on some kind of emergency or special meeting basis?


Chairman Antosiak: It was rumored at one point, yes.


Member Harrington: Well I actually saw some paperwork on it would seem that not has the emergency resolved, but if we were not to consider this until the September Meeting that perhaps we wouldn’t even need a variance, if the ordinance passes Council. Is that true, that if Council adopts the proposed variance you wouldn’t even need a variance tonight and all of these gentleman wouldn’t have to be here?


Jon Sarkesian: That is true. We have received our starting permit or the permit to clear and grub and start grading. But basically once that is done we would just be dead in the water and we do have a sense of urgency with regard to getting this building started before we incur winter conditions. The building has quite a bit of brick on it and that is not the kind of thing that you want to be putting up in the winter. So we would prefer to try to get started on it.


Member Harrington: So our acting on this matter this evening would be of benefit to you as a newcomer to our community.


Jon Sarkesian: It would give us great benefit.

Member Harrington: The actual technical issue is should we grant you a waiver or a variance as to 17 spaces, you propose 198 and the minimum is 215. Can you tell me in simple terms if we grant you the waiver or the variance that it will not negatively impact on your customers or your employees or the public at large?


Jon Sarkesian: Yes, the way that the ordinance reads being used as the Hagopian facility, we will only be required to provide 43 spaces. We are going to provide 66 spaces. The whole land banking concept is if Hagopian fails, we would need to provide 207 spaces as it is written. The problem with the ordinance is that the 207 is based on the 1 space for 110; there are no uses in your ordinance at 1 space for 110. So, it creates a problem for furniture stores because basically it is an over reaction to the Dobb’s situation which was a situation that probably was upsetting to everyone. Brandon has since reviewed this ordinance and recommended softening it to 1 space per 200 which brings the whole concept of if a furniture store fails as long as you can provide parking space for 1 for 200 it could be used for many other uses. But having it as 1 space for 110, it makes it impossible to develop anything for a furniture store because it is very stringent.


Member Harrington: I was trying to get a simple answer that if we give you the 17 space variance that it won’t cause a problem to your employees, the public or customers.


Jon Sarkesian: No, it will not.


Member Harrington: Do I understand that what we are dealing with is a 17 space variance, because I didn’t get that out of what I just heard?


Chairman Antosiak: Just for clarification, those are land banked spaces and not actual spaces.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 97-055 filed by Lee Currie


Lee Currie is requesting a 360 square foot variance to allow for the construction of a garage at 44620 Eleven Mile Road.


Lee Currie was present and duly sworn.

Lee Currie: To begin with, I discovered today that actually the letter states that I am asking for 360 square foot variance and that is not so. What I am looking for is 140 square feet. I didn’t discover this until today and I went to the Building Department and got a verification. There is a misunderstanding on the size of the existing garage. It was written up as a 22 by 33 foot and it is only 22 by 23. So the variance I am asking for is 140 square feet rather than 360 square feet. The reason is that I need some storage space; I have a ‘65 Mustang that I spend a lot of time on and I had a couple of bad experiences renting a place to keep it. I have other miscellaneous things; a tractor, log splitter a 4 wheeler. I really just need some storage space.


Lee Curried: Mr. Saven, I think that you have a record of this and the mistake that was made. I don’t know how it happened, but, it did. I am looking for a 140 square foot variance on a storage space. It will be 22 by 22.


Chairman Antosiak: There was a total of 21 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.




Bill Garfield: I am the neighbor right behind him. Mr. Currie is planning on putting this garage back towards the back of his property. His property is a very deep property, 200 feet in length. It will be newly placed 8 feet from the lot line, bringing the garage much closer to us than it presently is located. I am very appreciative of Mr. Currie, as a neighbor. He has been very gracious and friendly in my long struggle to save the old Thornton House, which got a Certificate of Occupancy today, after 5 years struggle. Now we are in the process of selling it and one of the things that I am concerned with is that we keep the aesthetic beauty surrounding the house. Last year as we were trying to sell it I could look around and I couldn’t see another building in a 300 degree arc around the bell, but now we are going to have a garage brought 8 feet from the property line and that still is a long way from the house, but I asked Mr. Currie this morning if he could get some trees or evergreens along behind there so that we will mask the thing and keep the rural feeling. I sense some reticence on his part, and maybe I misunderstood. But I am concerned, and I am in favor of this, and I applaud my neighbor, he is a great neighbor; I just want to encourage him and if necessary to get you to encourage him to put some protective shrubbery - evergreens or something along there that will keep the rural look between the lots. By the way, he is doing a great job along the rest of the property line contiguous between the two of us; he has put a bunch of maples as I have put a bunch of evergreens - trying to create privacy for both of us. I just hope that this will be continued.

Lee Currie: There are some Canadian Hemlock there now. If he wants other than that, I would be glad to put them in. If that would make him happy, I would do that.




Don Saven had no comment.

Chairman Antosiak inquired of Don Saven: Is 8 feet from the property line within the Zoning Ordinance?


Don Saven: Yes, 6 foot to side and rear property lines is the requirements for detached accessory structures. He shows about 7 1/2 feet.


Member Brennan inquired of Mr. Currie: Would you mind if we made a motion to approve this and made it contingent upon putting some trees back there.


Lee Currie: That is fine with me, I don’t have a problem with that.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke:




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case NO. 97-056 filed by Jeffrey Baron


Jeffrey Baron is requesting a variances to allow for the construction of an addition (upper and lower) for property located at 914 Lemay.


Jeffrey Baron was present and duly sworn.


Jeffrey Baron: I purchased the house approximately 2 and 1/2 years ago. The problem right now is that I plan to add on and the house and the garage are nonconforming; the setback being 10 feet on the side and there is 9 feet to the property line so I am requesting a 1 foot variance on that. The garage is 6 and 1/2 feet from the house and I need 3 foot 6 inches for that variance. The addition that I intend to put on is going to the rear of the house and the problem is that I am not allowed to add on to a nonconforming structure.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 48 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There were 2 written responses received, both voicing approval. Copies in file.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven: I believe that the gentleman is doing a fantastic job as far as the improvement goes. I understand that you are putting a foundation in all the way around. It is definitely an improvement for this particular area. The problem is that there is a garage that already exists and it is already too close to the existing structure. The addition that he plans to put on to the rear is not in violation of the zoning ordinance but the second story issue is what creates the problem in this particular case.

Member Harrington: I think that Mr. Saven has done a nice job in pointing out the hardship and I am satisfied.


Chairman Antosiak: I would just like to clarify that the addition will follow the existing side lines of your house.


Jeffrey Baron: That is correct.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Brennan,




Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Reinke Motion Carried


Case No. 97-052


David Perry: We have had an opportunity to discuss this matter and the present homeowner as well as the perspective homeowner have agreed that there should be a screening of trees planted on the property line. Where it was going to be planted was a little bit of an issue; but they have come to agree that it will be on the property line. Luma Building will post with the City of Novi a sum of $3000.00 to insure that this will get done so that we can get the C of O (if you see fit to give us a variance again) but as far as the request for a second condition of removing the window - the perspective homeowners are dead set against it and I am not so sure myself if it would allow for sufficient light in the room and what not if that window were eliminated. You have certain building requirements and you have to have so much wall opening and what not and it could adversely affect that also. They think that through the use of curtains and with the trees that should satisfy everybody’s right to privacy.


Jian Jiao: I think that the Luma attorney has tried to emphasize that window’s function; but that room has 2 windows and they are both big sized windows and there is no light consideration for eliminating that window. Thank you.


Member Brennan: I kind of get the jist that we don’t really have an agreement. That we have gotten a little closer but Mr. Jiao isn’t completely happy. Is that a correct summation of where we are at?


David Perry: I believe that is it and it would be an exercise in fruition to continue talking. The people want the window and the next door neighbor said that he would leave it up to the Board. But we do agree on the planting of the screening and I think that will satisfy the privacy issue. I think it is a reasonable condition to put in a variance of this nature.


Member Harrington: Mr. Chairman my sense is and I am mindful of your comments; which are that you are opposed and presumably are still opposed to the variance. The difference between this meeting and the last meeting as I see it is two-fold. Number one: now we only have the owner of lot 234, Mr. Grover, who is aggrieved and I presume that at some point Mr. Cervi and the Luma group may be really aggrieved - once Mr. Jiao and Mr. Grover have retained legal counsel. But right now the "stuckee" in this situation as I see it would only be Mr. Grover if we were to deny the variance. I think that the hardship on he and his family would be substantial. The second fact which is different is that there has at least been a preliminary accommodation relative to the screening issue and the motion that I will make to approve the variance would be conditioned upon the screening and the posting of the bond. But the other issue that really wasn’t before us then and really isn’t before us now is adequate redress because of digging the hole in the wrong spot by Luma Construction and there is another form for full re-dress for every dollar of damages and it is not before this Board. So I see that the discretion in terms of a yea or a nay is limited and the consequences, I think, would be dramatic on the Grover family. I suggest that all of those issues should be thrashed out in another forum and that is why I will move to approve the variance in this case. Procedurally do we rescind the prior variance and move for a new one? And I suppose that we do and that will be a part of my motion . But I am going to make a motion subject to the screening as agreed and this is a tough one, it is not any easy one; but I don’t see the alternative as being acceptable under any circumstances to the Grover’s.


Don Saven: I would like to bring a point to order here; the fact that there has been a new survey that was presented before us and in total actuality I think that should be addressed as a part.


Chairman Antosiak: The variance at one corner would be 2.03 feet and the variance at the other corner would be 1.49 feet.


Member Harrington: Correct. The effect of that new survey is to make Mr. Jiao no longer an affected party in terms of the variance on his lot.


Don Saven: It is 2.03 feet and then we also have because of the projection that was on lot 234 was seeking a variance of approximately 5 inches for the allowable. You are allowed to have 2 inches for every foot of required setback and in this case he only has approximately 8 feet three. Three hundreds shy of 8 feet, which is getting approximately 16 inches and he has 1.75 feet or 21 inches and he is only allowed to have 16 inches based upon the new survey. Therefore there is a difference of approximately 5 inches.


Member Harrington: All these fine dimensions are within the certified survey submitted to the Building Department?


Don Saven: Exactly.


Member Harrington: So our motion, if any, may reflect that survey?


Don Saven: Correct.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Discussion on motion:


Chairman Antosiak inquired of Don Saven: Is that language appropriate for the screening or would you like something more finite?


Don Saven: I think the motion as read and being agreeable to both parties, would take that into account for approval.


Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (2) Reinke, Antosiak Motion Carried


Case No. 97-058 filed by Joann Aloe


Joann Aloe is requesting a 15 foot front yard setback variance to allow for the construction of a garage at 1529 West Lake Drive.


Joann Aloe was present and duly sworn.


Joann Aloe: We are requesting 2 things actually. We want to demolish a garage that exists and you will see on the mortgage survey, across the road. We want to demolish that and put up another garage. We have 3 different locations where we could put one and all 3 would require variances. The one that we are requesting tonight would be a 12 by 20 foot that would be on the same side of the road as the existing house. There are 2 variances involved even in that. One the fact that it is lake front property and we would be putting it on the road side rather than the lake side and in our front yard rather than our back yard. The other variance being that we don’t have the appropriate setback from the road. We have about 15 feet to work with to our setback, rather than the 30 that is required.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 28 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 4 written responses received, all voicing approval. Copies in file.




Tom Harvey, 1603 West Lake Dr. I live 4 houses to the south. What can you say, these lots-they are the way they are-the houses are where they are and 95% of the people that live on that street have the same problem. One of this issues that he had stated in a letter that she sent out to the neighborhood was about the location of the well. That is another thing; a lot of people have to put the well right where you probably want the garage in most cases because you can’t even get the trucks past the houses to put the well on the other side of the house. The existing garage that she spoke of across the street is not only an eye sore but actually presents some danger. It is literally right on top of the road, maybe 24 inches off or something. As you drive down there with all of the children in the area, even going 20 miles per hour you worry that some kid might just bounce out from behind this garage and are you going to be able to stop. I think that it is an absolutely wonderful idea to get rid of that. The fifteen feet which will still be from the edge of the road and the garage would provide sufficient space for some off street parking that is not in the garage. What can you say on lake front; you can never have to much garage space, there is always something to store. So I request that you please approve the variance for this home. Thank you.




Don Saven: I still believe that based upon the location that they are presenting here they will still have access to the well in case they have to perform any maintenance, so I don’t have any problem with that.


Joann Aloe: We were concerned about that actually and came up with a kind of a plan "B". Do you think that we will be OK having enough room on the north side to have a truck swing around to the well?


Don Saven: It appears, based upon your sketch and the requirements that you have here; I think that you can get at it. If you have any doubts about it you may want to contact a well driller and have him come out and take a look at it.


Joann Aloe: I am sure that we will. In fact, I think it is at this point that I should also request and I remember reading somewhere in the papers that I received that if we won’t complete this job within 90 days we need to ask at this point for and extension; is that correct or did I dream that?


Don Saven: If you apply for a permit you are showing that you are in process and the permit is good for 6 months. You need to apply. If you don’t do anything in 90 days it is gone.


Joann Aloe: Meaning don’t do anything like apply for the permit?


Don Saven: If you don’t apply, then you have a problem


Joann Aloe: It doesn’t have to be completed or anything like that? Started?


Don Saven: We would like to see some movement in that area. But start with the application and then it is 6 months from that process.


Joann Aloe: I have photographs of the existing garage for you to see. (Photos presented to the Board.)


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I have a question while you are doing that. How far is the well off of the side lot line?


Joann Aloe: It is about 12 feet.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Is there any reason that the garage couldn’t be shifted to the opposite side and moved back 10 feet?


Joann Aloe: That is plan "B". We had thought about doing that. My concern about that is that is where the sewer line comes out and I was really reluctant to build on the top of that. But in talking to a builder and in talking to a City Inspector they told me that shouldn’t really be a concern. So we could move and I don’t know the 10 feet, but we could go another 5 so that we would be 20 feet off of the road. But, that would require a side variance of 5 feet. We have 10 right now, but if we went on the north side of that lot we could go back from the road 5 more but we would be closer to the side, only 5 off of the side. We would be gaining 5 from the road, but loosing 5 from the side. That certainly an option that we would be satisfied with.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: My reason for bringing that up is that I like to see buildings more than 15 feet off the road. If you park your car there, even just to pull up and open the door the back end is hanging out in the road.


Joann Aloe: I measured our van and it is 13 feet. So I understand what you are saying. We could gain another 5 feet if we went to the other side. But, we would need to get a side variance. I know that this isn’t the formal approval that you need from neighbors, but I did speak with my new neighbor about a 5 foot variance on his side and he was in agreement with that. I know that you have to go through a formal procedure with that, but verbally we have an agreement.


Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Don Saven: They only need 10 foot for the side, right?


Don Saven: Correct.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: So if your well is 12 feet in and you have a 40 foot lot, your garage is going to be 12 foot wide?


Joann Aloe: 15 if we go that way. We wanted to get as large as possible. Our builder came out and said that he thought that we could go 18; but we thought that was just coming to close to the well and that with the pressure of trucks, etc. it might somehow damage the well; which in fact did happen to us a couple of years ago which is why we have a new well. So we thought that we would go 15 by 20.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I have a real problem with 15 feet off of the road.


Member Bauer: I have a problem with this too. I would prefer to give a side yard variance, rather than the front yard variance. My preference would be further back from the road.


Joann Aloe: I am sorry, I am not really hearing and maybe you are just speaking to each other and not to me....


Member Harrington: I think that the Board Members are concerned that 15 feet off of the road is too tight. It would all most seem like we were inching towards plan "B", except I am not exactly sure where that configuration would be. Can you help us out a little bit?


Member Brennan: We can’t even consider plan "B", can we?

Member Harrington: Don’t we have to Notice it?


Joann Aloe: Actually, I have no problem with coming back in September. I see that the precedent has been set to come back 2 months in a row. I have no problem coming back. But what I would like to know is that if I do come back in September with the second plan because in getting estimates from builders I would say this is "A", this is "B" and this is "C" and I don’t know what will be approved. So I have different price estimates. But, what I wonder is can I at the same time show you my plan "B" and show you a plan "C" which would be across the road and a larger garage set way back from where it is now. Our neighbor is absolutely correct, it is dangerous where it is. Can I ask for 2 things in one night? Or will we be seeing each other in October?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Are you talking about 2 things or 2 options?


Joann Aloe: Two different options.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I don’t have a problem with that myself, but I can only speak for myself on that.


Member Harrington: I think that what would really be helpful with your options "B", "C", "D" or "E" for that matter, run them all by your neighbors and have them sign something saying this is great or this is OK.


Chairman Antosiak: Let me ask one question, with what you have called your plan "B", what variance would that require?


Joann Aloe: It would be 20 feet off the road instead of 30, so a 10 foot variance there; less of a variance off of the road but we wouldn’t have the 10 foot from the side; we would only have 5 foot from the side. I have a verbal approval from my neighbor but I know that you have to go through the procedures.


Chairman Antosiak inquired of Don Saven: What would the side yard setback be on that garage?


Don Saven: That would be 10.


Member Brennan: It is your preference, I thought that you said early on to put the structure on the lake side - so option "C" is really if nothing else works.


Joann Aloe: It depends if you talk to me or to my husband. He wants the biggest garage that he can get. Which would be the other side of the road. I am thinking of convenience and that sort of thing and he is thinking about a larger garage. The other thing is that there is a lot next to us on the opposite side of the road away from the lake and we don’t know if someday those lots may be combined and we don’t want to tie up that land right now thinking that something might happen in the future. So I guess plan "B" which will be unveiled in September is sort of first choice.


Chairman Antosiak: I sense that the feeling of the Board is that everyone has some concern about a garage located 15 feet from the road, because although you may not intend it someone will try to park there and cars are generally about 15 long or longer and we have had this issue arise on other similar requests and it has been a concern and I think that the Board has consistently raised.


Don Saven: Just as food for thought, I would check with the Water and Sewer Department as to the location of the sanitary lead coming into your area where you want to put the garage or you plan "B".


Joann Aloe: I have tried that and I don’t get a real definite answer.


Don Saven: They have the approximate location. It may not be a definite answer, but an approximate location and a possible depth to this sanitary. Secondly get with the well man to see that you have adequate access to the well. Give that some consideration.


Joann Aloe: Is there a person in particular that I should speak with in the Water and Sewer Department?


Don Saven: You could speak to Marian or Zora, they could probably come up with a location for you. I think that every lot there has an approximate location.


Joann Aloe: But, it is OK to go over it? Do we have to sleeve it?


Don Saven: Depending upon the depth.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Roll Call: (Voice Vote) (All Yeas) Motion Carried


Case No. 97-059 filed by The Selective Group


The Selective Group is requesting a variance to allow the continued placement of an existing sales trailer on lot 90 in Greenwood Oaks Subdivision No. 4 for one year. A temporary use permit was granted on February 15, 1997.


Charles Bungee was present and duly sworn.


Charles Bungee: I am here before you tonight requesting a variance for the sales trailer on lot 90 in Greenwood Oaks. When we opened the sales trailer in March we were under the impression that we would be able to pull permits to build a model at that time; that hasn’t happened. The situation that we are in right now is that we anticipate getting the permit this week for the model and once we get the permit it will probably take us 6 or 7 months to build the house. I am requesting a variance for an extension for one year for the sales trailer on lot 90 in Greenwood Oaks.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 151 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven: I have no problem with it.


Member Bauer: If we give a variance on this it should be whichever happens first, the building or the trailer.


Chairman Antosiak: For the Board’s edification there were a number of requirements in the temporary use permit and I would suggest that any motion to approve the variance would include all of the requirements as per the temporary use permit.


Moved by Member Bauer,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,




Roll Call: Yea (5) Nays (0) Abstain (1) Baty Motion Carried


Case No. 97-060 filed by Lee Mamola, representing Steve & Izumi Myers


Lee Mamola, representing Steve & Izumi Myers, is requesting a variance to allow alterations of an existing barn to accommodate the offices of their family owned business for property located at 46320 Ten Mile Road..


Lee Mamola was present and duly sworn.


Lee Mamola: I am representing Steve and Izumi Myers, they are not able to be here tonight and I would like to read into the record the correspondence that I received from them today.


Lee Mamola: This is directed to the City of Novi, Zoning Board of Appeals. "Thank you for hearing our appeal this evening. At this hour Izumi is bringing our daughter back from the airport with a non-English speaking house guest to a small dinner party of friends she hasn’t seen all summer. Steve is just out of the hospital from extensive stomach surgery, recovering slowly but surely. Thank you for allowing us to be represented by our architect and friend Lee Mamola, he has known us for many years through Chamber and Rotary activities. The Simmons family (which is the property that they own now) moved to Michigan from New York in the 1830's and established the Simmons’ Orchards which became one of the largest apple operations in North America. Bruce Simmons, Sr. a former member of the Novi Board of Education and now deceased, recalled buying apples from as far away as Florida to meet their demands for apples and apple products and cider. Just to the west of our property is the grand master house, all brick and white. It is said that the walls were designed in part to withstand angry fire arrows. It was built in the 1880's along with the huge barn that could be seen tens of miles around it’s great timbers still molder and brush in the back lot. Our farm house was built with hand poured basement blocks around the 1920's and the big apple barn was moved to it’s current site by rolling on logs soon after. The cute little pump house with it’s original slate roof matching the master’s house preceded both our farm house and barn. Our hope is to restore the barn to it’s barn style. The garage style doors were added much later. We would like to restore those walls fixing the roof and then accomplish needed expansion with a simple but high tech interior. The restoration and preservation of the barn is not only personally pleasing but makes an accurate statement that we believe that old fashioned values and modern technology can go rather well side by side. You know this is statement will meet with the approval of our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and clients."


Lee Mamola: The nature of the Myers business is one of a consulting business. They consult to the American business group and the Japanese business groups and they help both sides to communicate. Much of their business is translation, a highly specialized field. They are leaders in their business. Izumi Myers is a senior member of a National American Translation Association; it is a national Board. Izumi Myers was recently voted or recognized as Novi Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the year a few years ago and she has received other recognitions. Steve Myers has been a community leader and has been the past president of the Novi Rotary Club, this past year.


Lee Mamola: They have been operating this business in their house which is the bungalow style type of house for the past several years. The real nature of their hardship comes down to this. They would like to live in that house. For the past several years and I don’t know the exact arrangement; but they had a lease or a rent of that property. The Simmons area of property is about 4 acres, it was recently split and the Myers now own the private parcel a separate parcel of about one acre, which includes the house and the barn. And now that they have ownership of that property is the time to come along and make their dreams come true. Make the house a liveable house, get a living room back, get a kitchen back, get the front porch back (which is not their conference area) and to have a real place to live.


Lee Mamola: a little further back would be their office operations, in that barn. The barn from the exterior would much like it does today except to be repaired. You would still have the image of the old red barn. Steve mentioned in his correspondence this value of the ethic and he expressed to me verbally when we were talking about this a little bit this afternoon; how deeply rooted it is in the Japanese culture that they maintain authentic thoroughness such as and in this example maintaining the integrity of that barn and I am sure there is a Japanese word in translation that I should have in front of me, but it is enrooted deep into their culture and in the way that they live that the barn and the property correspondently maintains itself in the rural image.


Lee Mamola: We also have a unique experience going on in Novi that we are loosing our older properties and structures and some of them are very historical in nature to this community. We have the opportunity to save one here that goes back through the Simmons family for a number of years. It will be and it has been recommended to a part of historic site and I know that because I am on a committee that recommends historic sites to the City and this is one of the premiere historic sites within the town. So, I would like to ask you to think about stopping the shrinkage of the historical inventory.


Lee Mamola: Finally the impact of this request for a variance in the neighborhood I think is absolutely minimal for several reasons. One: their business is there today; all you are doing is allowing them to move out of a house and fix up an old barn to become a business. They have virtually no traffic or consumer traffic if you will, coming onto their property. They don’t have customers coming in and out on a regular basis; in fact they have very few business clients in the Novi area. Their clients are major fortune 500 clients in the Detroit Metro area; their clients are on the other side of the world and they are putting Novi on the map on the other side of the world for us. It is on a main road, Ten Mile Road and it can certainly handle the family traffic and maybe an occasional extra car or two throughout the day and maybe an occasional delivery truck as they receive their correspondence.


Lee Mamola: The size will be the same as it is today. There is a tiny little and I think that it is 40 or 50 square foot addition which links the 2 buildings, the well house and the barn together but essentially the footprint is the same. The parking area would become paved, where it is gravel now but there is an existing parking area there.


Lee Mamola: I do have photographs of the existing condition and I also have a framed photo of an old aerial and you can see there is not very many houses there. (pictures passed to the Board.)


Lee Mamola: The last thing that I would like to ask this Board to do, if you should see fit to ask for a variance to give us a little more time due to the illness and Mr. Myers recovery from surgery; we still have more work to do to finalize and prepare for a permit and I am not sure that we would be able to do it in the normal 90 day period; 180 days would be appreciated. If you do really think that I have not answered questions that you would rather ask of Mr. Myers or of Izumi Myers, I would rather have this tabled to the next meeting that they are able to be here; if there is any doubt. I will certainly try to answer any questions the best that I can.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 23 Notices sent to adjacent property owners, there was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven had no comment.


Member Harrington: Is the real hardship here that they don’t want to rent commercial property?


Lee Mamola: No. In our discussion with Mr. Myers today and you would really have to hear it from him, but he spoke from the heart; this issue of the authenticity of the old style country and how....


Member Harrington: Why is that impacted by renting commercial space? Suppose they do what all of us do, I can’t run my law office out of my garage. What is wrong with them going up to the Town Center or over to Eaton Center or somewhere and renting a space like the rest of us do? Why would that affect the authenticity of this barn and this house? Isn’t the issue economic?


Lee Mamola: A couple of responses to that. I think that your law office is not a family business, other members of your family are not involved in the business. In addition to Mr. and Mrs. Myers they have 2 children that are in one form or another also involved and are being brought up to become a part of that business. There is also the fact that when you look at these older properties, often the only way to save the old buildings is to allow for some little difference sense of use. That has been true in our case; we were granted this exact type of variance about 5 years ago and we have done very well in renovation of a barn of about the same size on our property. There is a unique opportunity there to save. Again if you feel and I am having a hard time expressing this.


Member Harrington: Isn’t the issue commercial?


Lee Mamola: I don’t think so. Maybe in fairness to my client you might want to hear that answer from him directly.


Member Harrington: What you have said is that in order to preserve the authenticity of the structure and the barn and the like and I can relate to and I think that is important that is significant especially in a community like Novi and I think that we recognize those issues; but what does running this Japanese American Consulting Fortune 500 business out of a barn have to do with preserving historic structures? I don’t see the correlation. It sounds economically like they don’t want to rent commercial space; which is great but I don’t see it as a hardship.


Lee Mamola: I am not saying and you are into an economic situation and I think that frankly they could probably rent certain commercial space in this town cheaper than they could to renovate that barn.


Member Brennan: I kind of heard a whole different twist on things when this was presented, they want to expand their business and move back into their house and at the same time they are renovating a structure which has some value to the community and I don’t have any objection with that.


Member Baty: What do you see as the hardship?


Member Brennan: Because they are saving the historic building, we would probably hear some sort of variance request with the first property depending upon what they want to do with that. The justification would be the same thing. Here is a historic dwelling that can either sit as it sits or the family can invest money, use the building for a different purpose without affecting any external.


Lee Mamola: I can speak from my own experience. We were in front of this Board with different individuals about 5 or 6 years ago; the same exact variance for myself. If we were not successful the seller of our property had day care centers waiting in line or other permitted uses in residential areas waiting in line to come in. I think that when you consider some of the other potential regulated uses that could come in without variances, but they would have to go through public hearings for the Planning Commission and you weigh that against a use which is on this property today and hurting no one and no objections and tie that together with the opportunity to clean up the property and improve the structures of the property; I think it is nothing but a win situation for everybody.


Chairman Antosiak: I hear you Mr. Harrington, and were this perhaps a different type of business and were this perhaps located in a residential area rather than Ten Mile I might be in agreement with you. But I think that perhaps one risk as Mr. Brennan stated for not approving such a variance is that it is only a matter of time before the building gets lost.

Member Brennan: What is the property zoned right now?


Lee Mamola: Residential. I believe that it is R-4. One of the single family residential districts.


Chairman Antosiak: Your clients don’t happen to own the green warehouse type of building next door?


Lee Mamola: No, they don’t.


Member Brennan: This is a situation where we have a resident coming for a variance and claiming that he has an occupation out of his home. There is very few people that are doing that.


Member Harrington: That is right. Which actually is part of the rationale for my concern. I think that whatever home occupation ordinance that we have in this community is much to restrictive and it does not recognize the realities of the computer enabled society as we approach the year 2000. I think the ordinance ought to be radically expanded; but I don’t think that in my own view that we should be doing it on a case by case basis, much less because the homeowner wants to move the business into the barn because they want to live in the house. I am not attracted by the hardship that is there. If you want to talk about a self created hardship, the hardship is that we are in the house and we can’t move into the barn unless you let us. That is a hardship? I don’t buy it. I don’t see it in this situation and I think that your clients should be in front of City Council demanding an overhaul of the ordinance which I understand is in front of review or ordinance committee as we speak; it has been there for a year or so or longer. This is the type of situation where on a case by case basis we shouldn’t be doing it and the reason that I won’t support the variance in this case is because there is no hardship. It makes perfect, pragmatic, absolute common sense, but it doesn’t meet the test, in my view, of the ordinace which is hardship or some other special or unique circumstance. It just doesn’t and it sounds to me like economic and that is what we would all like to do; shave expenses and work in a larger space and not have to pay another mortgage; we are going to live in the house and instead of wherever else we are living. I don’t see a hardship.


Lee Mamola: If I may add that from my experience in knowing the Myers and their operations, they run virtually around the clock business by the fact that half of their clients are on the other side of the world. They always have a phone attached. At any odd hours, somebody and odds are doing business; whether it is with somebody in Japan at an odd hour of the day whether it is doing some business with somebody in Dearborn at another half of the day. I think that when you consider that it only makes sense to be as close as you can to your lifestyle. There is a tremondous strain when you live in a structure on one’s life and family style and you have no living room, you have front porch and you have no kitchen; it is essentially an office type galley. To break away from that and get a life back and be able to serve clients nearly 24 hours a day by a handful of staff; this is a very small business. If it were a business of 30 people it would be entirely different.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: In their modification to the barn, what is the maximum number of people or stations that they are going to have?


Lee Mamola: There are, I believe, 6 work stations planned. They have essentially 4 family members and a couple part time specialists; frankly I don’t know if they are part time or full time or what; but I do know from time to time there are at least 2 other people in there doing office work.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Chairman Antosiak,




Roll Call: Yeas (3) Nays (3) Baty, Bauer, Harrington


Chairman Antosiak: The motion has not passed. It seems that further discussion is necessary.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think that you have to and as much as Mr. Harrington has alluded to not looking at these on a case by case basis; I think that you have to do that. If you don’t you could have every situation move their business into their garage and pretty soon you would have automotive repair shops running out of residential areas which we have already in existence that are not conforming to the City ordinance. Being that this is a family business and the family are the prime ones that are utilizing this and the type of hours and operation they are utilizing; it would be very hard, not impossible, to have facilities some place else. Since they have the area, space and building to accomodate their business and as Mr. Mamola has alluded to the number of work stations and facilities that they will have in there - they really can’t expand any further. They would have to go someplace else. They just wouldn’t allow that and I wouldn’t support expanding the business further than what they are looking at. For that reason I could support the petitioner’s request. But I wouldn’t support increasing the volume or the number of people working in the facility further than what it is.


Member Harrington: Lee, an area that is problematic for me is that I have heard the comment that the building may be lost to Novi unless we are able to accomodate the petitioners. I think that supports the 3 affirmative that you received on the variance request. I would be interested in hearing Mr. and Mrs. Myers address that issue. I could be persuaded, if in fact that is a significant concern or a significant basis for the variance request. I live in Novi, I don’t want to see historic structures go down either. But, I haven’t heard enough tonight to make me change my basic position which is that it sounds like a commercial advantage that they are receiving and I am concerned about the impact of that issue and where it may lead in other cases. If Mr. and Mrs. Myers would be interested in coming back next month and addressing us; or when Mr. Myers health recovers, I certainly would listen to that matter and I would consider tabling this now. I am not going to change my vote, based on what I have heard tonight.


Lee Mamola: As I said in my opening comments, if there is anything that anyone person that you think would help you in your decisions by hearing from the applicant’s themselves; I would rather have this tabled so that you would have that benefit. Situations arose at the last minute and they couldn’t be here and they asked that I continue.


Member Bauer: I suggest that we table this until they can come.


Member Brennan: I would like to hear some of the other reasons for the negative feelings on this.


Member Bauer: It is zoned R-4 and not commercial.


Member Baty: The hardship is self imposed. They are talking about a 3 shift operation versus a one shift operation, that is their choice. The small staff versus a large staff, that is also their choice. Commercial property versus residential property, that is their choice too. I don’t see any hardships that weren’t self imposed.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: What different is that than a day care center?


Member Baty: It could be the same issue, I haven’t participated on a day care center issue yet.


Member Brennan: That is a whole issue on home occupation. You have somebody running a business in residential dwelling. That is the whole issue of home occupation. I don’t know how you can take exception to that when that is the writing of the ordinance.


Member Harrington: The disctinction, however, is that we are taking the lawful business which is apparently permitted under ordinance and we are moving it into a separate structure on the same property which is zoned residential. They need a variance to do that. They have to meet the test of the ordinance in order to qualify for that variance. I am not persuaded by what I have heard. They sound like very nice folks and I am sure that if we table we will get to meet them next month and I am looking forward to meeting them. But, I think that they have some economic advanatages by this proposal and I haven’t heard anything yet which suggests why this group is unique in the United States of America that they can’t service these people adequately inside of a commercial establishment, which is set up within the City. I haven’t heard that yet. That is not how far that they have to go to persuade me, but I am interested in this issue which those who voted for the variance commented on - which is that we may loose a historic structure here. I would like to hear a little bit more about that. I mean, if that is the real risk then I think that the Board should take that into consideration. But, with all due respect with Lee saying it doesn’t make it so. The Myers may have some impact on that issue about why it is necessary to do that in order to preserve this structure. That is the comment that has been made and I would like more information on that before I would change my vote.


Chairman Antosiak: It has been suggested that we table this until September. Is there any comment on that?


Lee Mamola: That would likely be a good date depending upon Mr. Myers health, we may have to move to October. But that is the only issue that I would think of.


Member Brennan: Timing on this whole thing is when it happens it happens? You are not under any huge restraints or?


Lee Mamola: We would like it to happen soon, but I have been under more time pressures before.

In fairness to my client and to your decision that you have to make, I am sure that you could make a better informed decision hearing some additional information from them.


Chairman Antosiak: I am a little troubled considering some of the home businesses that we have approved in the past, but..


Chairman Antosiak: All in favor of tabling this request until September, please say aye. All ayes. Case is tabled until September. If you or your clients cannot make the September Meeting, please advise Nancy and we will schedule you for October.



Case No. 97-061 filed by Scot Schlessinger


Scot Schlessinger is requesting a variance to allow the continued placment of a basketball pole located 20 feet from the residence, for property located at 41863 Cherry Hill.


Scot Schlessinger was present and duly sworn.


Scot Schlessinger: I just recently moved to Novi from Michigan State University. I checked my neighborhood association mail to see if I had any problems building my hoop and there were none. So I called them and they said that there were no problems. I started digging 2 feet deep by 2 feet wide by 2 feet long and it is all cemented in. All my neighbors were waving at me saying it was a good job and it looks nice. Then I got a welcome note from the City of Novi saying that you are in violation. So thank you for welcoming me to the City. I really don’t know what else to do. I didn’t know what a variance was until I got the letter, so here I am. That is the case. The reason that I put it so far down on my driveway is that I played atheletics all through college and I have very poor ankles and my driveway is sloped at probably 10 degrees. So the further down that I put the more flat the driveway was and in turn better for me so I don’t roll my ankles over.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 46 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 6 written responses received, 4 voicing approval 2 voicing objection (one was not signed) copies in file.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven: Just a question, you have that it is removeable and portable?


Scot Schlessinger: Yes, I cemented it into a plastic sleeve. The pole itself goes into the plastic sleeve, the actual cement base is not moveable. But for the winter time I pulled it out, so in case I would slide off my driveway I wouldn’t bang my car up.


Member Bauer: From where the basketball pole is set to the street is how far?


Scot Schlessinger: To the street I would say - it is 5 feet to the sidewalk some of the basketball hoop or backboard is even within 2 feet of the sidewalk; but I didn’t measure between the sidewalk and the street. I would say that would be another 6 or 7 feet? I am not sure of the standard distance between the sidewalk and the street.


Scot Schlessinger: I did ask my neighbors if they had a problem and none of them within 2 houses of each side of me and across the street didn’t have a problem. I heard you say that somebody next door to me sent one back disapproving?


Chairman Antosiak: There were 2 objections. One was unsigned so I don’t know where it came from and the other was from a party on East Ridge Road.


Scot Schlessinger: I really don’t know. Apparently somebody called in and complained and that is why I received the violation.


Chairman Antosiak: The 4 approvals were all from Cherry Hill and judging from the addresses I would say within a small number of houses from yours, either on the same side of the street or on the other side.


Member Harrington: It is hard to eyeball from the pictures and it would help if we had a dimension. But it looks like you are at least 15 feet maybe closer to 20 from the street side there. You are almost equal distance from the street to the garage. Maybe a tad closer to the street. It is the safety clearance that we are concerned about.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Reinke Motion Carried


Case No. 97-062 filed by Steve Hamilton


Steve Hamilton is requesting a 6 foot front yard setback variance and a 10 inch side yard setback variance to allow for the continued placment of a deck at 811 South Lake Dr. the deck was buildt without a permit.


Steve Hamilton was present and duly sworn.


Steve Hamilton: Firt of all I would like to apologize. I am a first time homeowner and I didn’t realize that I needed a permit for a deck, like a garage or an addition. I am a little embarassed and sorry for wasting your time regarding this issue. Obviously my intention is to improve the appearance of the home. As you stated I am here to request a 6 foot front yard variance and a 10 inch side yard variance. My hardship is that I have a half basement and double doorwall on the second floor and needed a porch to prevent somebody from falling off. Secondly as you know, the lots are rather a unique configuration on South Lake Drive and are rather close to the road and therefore leave little room to construct a modest sized deck within the guidelines of the City’s setbacks. Finally, although it is not a hardship I noticed that my neighbor had a deck that extended out approximately 8 feet beyond mine and therefore as with the permit; I didn’t realize that I was violating any guidelines.


Steve Hamilton: I also have pictures with me and have taken a survey among the neighbors within 300 yards around my home and none of them had a problem with the deck and further felt that it enhances the neighborhood. I have those with me, if you would like to see them.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 28 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.



Don Saven had no comment.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: This is a two fold situation. One is that I wish there was some way that we could educate the public to check with the Building Department before building something, especially going closer to the road and in the north end area. Your lots are very small and most of them are over built and any time that there is something there it is just about built to the maximum to begin with. I can’t emphasize this enough, people really need to make a phone call to the Building Department and do something with that. Understanding what your needs were, I think that it probably could have been a little bit different than what you did to accomplish the same thing. But, it is there and something is needed and I guess that I can support the petitioner’s request.


Steve Hamilton: The deck is more than 20 feet from the road.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: It is supposed to be 25.


Steve Hamilton: That is the variance.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


Case No. 97-054 filed by Marathon Oil


Ted Blum, representing Marathon Oil Company is requesting a variance to allow a ground sign to be placed at the Speedway Station located at the corner of Haggerty and Fourteen Mile Road. The requested sign is 10' x 4' (40 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 5'.


Ted Blum was present and duly sworn.


Ted Blum: This is location is at the intersection of Fourteen Mile and Haggerty Roads. The location of the sign in question is at the intersection with the appropriate setbacks to maintain the clear vision triangle. The sign proposed is a 40 square foot sign which met the ordinance which was amended a year ago to change the size to 30 square feet. In this case there is 2 points for the variance. One is that the gasoline station is already penalized because whether we like it or not it is customary that we post our pricing on our signs. Therefore already effectively reducing the amount of the sign which is posted stating the name of the store. In addition we are at a corner and typically many sign ordinances permit either 2 signs or an increased size of sign when you are at a corner location, neither remedy is available in the ordinance are written for the City of Novi at this time. There is a high rate of speed at this corner when it is not congested, which it often is, but the posted speeds are 45 miles per hour and I have been able to make it through there at that speed on occasion. The sign that we are proposing is identical to the one which we recently placed at the new construction site at the corner of Ten Mile and Novi Roads. The sign is tasteful and this is only an opinion of course. And another opinion would be that it is not obtrusive. The main reason for asking for the variance is that we are at the corner location, the size of the sign is reduced in perspective to the person approaching it and in addition there is no remedy for being at a corner by increased size of the sign or by the placement of 2 signs which is not atypical for other communities to permit and in addition many communities, as you did at one time, permitted increased size of the sign for gasoline stations recognizing that we do post pricing on the signs and that was taken out of the most recent revision to the sign ordinance. I will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.


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




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Don Saven had no comment.


Member Harrington: Didn’t we do this sign at one time?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I thought that we had one at Fourteen Mile and Haggerty at one time.


Alan Amolsch: That one was proposed earlier to the Board, which was taller and larger and it was denied by the Board.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I knew that we had a case for that corner before the Board. My position is that for the position of the sign and where it is at, they should be able to live within the ordinance.

Member Brennan: My question is related to the transition and I wanted to ask when that sign ordinance was reduced from 40 to 30 and when did it go into affect?

Alan Amolsch: It was adopted December 2, 1996.


Member Brennan: When did you submit?


Ted Blum: I believe that it was last year, but I would have to consult my notes to determine that but perhaps if I look at when we last revised the drawings and without going out to the car I believe that it was last summer or last fall because prior to the last revision these drawings were developed in July of 1996 and I believe that we were in for preliminary site plan.


Member Brennan: I am in agreement with Vern to the extent that I think that you can have gas station signs of 30 square feet, there is no problem with that. However, I have a little leniency in my heart that we have because this one is also caught in between. I think that it appears that there has been work done and plans made based upon the ordinance as it was in effect. The petitioner was granted a variance for the identical reason for the Ten Mile and Novi site and I think that this is similar in nature.


Member Harrington: In terms of where I am at I concur with Mr. Brennan, while sympathetic to Mr. Reinke’s comments. I am particularly impressed by not only do we have a rendering but a real live actual identical sign model at Ten Mile and Novi Road and I think that is an excellent sign. I think you have done a wonderful job on that corner. I could live with another one of those signs.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Reinke Motion Carried


Case No. 97-057 filed by Lee Mamola, representing Mercedes Benz


Lee Mamola, representing Mercedes Benz, is requesting a variance to allow a 66 quare foot ground sign with the height from grade being 24'9" for property located at 39550 Grand River Avenue.


Lee Mamola was present and sworn.


Lee Mamola: I am here with the owners of what we are calling Mercedes Benz of Novi, Mr. Ghesquire and his son Lee Ghesquire who will be the person operating the business at Haggerty Road and Grand River.

Lee Mamola: I am going to talk about the site and the design issues related to this particular sign application and the Ghesquires will talk about some of the business corporate issues associated with this application.


Lee Mamola: First of all, I would like to review all of the signs that are a part of the signage package for the property and for the project. We have 2 signs on the front facade of the building. One facade parallels Grand River and the other one is at somewhat of an angle and that is to give some sense of orientation to the Grand River and Haggerty Road intersection. (Charts shown to the Board.)


Lee Mamola: Those signs have been approved and they are on order. Those are in accordance with the ordinance. In addition to that we have some directional signs, essentially they are very low ground signs which orientate the traffic once they are on the site to the service department, to the dealership, etc. I think they are very helpful and they are very low profile and they are much in keeping with the spirit and the intent of the ordinance.


Lee Mamola: We are here tonight really to talk about what I am going to call a pylon sign located towards the corner of Grand River and Haggerty. Some of the issues that go along with that and why we should have this sign deal with the fact that the very character of Grand River and Haggerty and the hazard that exists there. Not necessarily related to this issue for signage, but when we had a sidewalk question as to should we extend this sidewalk to this corner the City Engineer’s held our clients feet to the fire to put the sidewalk in and the reason was not aesthetic beauty and park like settings with sidewalks but because of the extreme nature and hazards posed by Grand River and Haggerty with the traffic for pedestrians and to keep the traffic moving. The amount of volume of that traffic and the density and the speed of it, I believe that it really screams for some sense of signage with orientates and directs customers to this site.


Lee Mamola: I would like to show you photographs of the site. One side you see 3 columns of photographs and that is really taken from Farmington Hills as you drive westbound along Grand River. The top photograph, you can see the canopy under construction; but barely can you see it. You see a telephone pole and the proposed sign will be between the telephone pole and the trees. That photograph was taken in front of the Shell Station and you cannot see. If you go 50 to 100 feet further east along Grand River, the bottom 2 photographs, you can’t see the canopy. You can barely see the sign. What we are asking for is a sign which I refer to as a pylon sign, it is on 2 poles done in the corporate colors of Mercedes and it has the logo. Mr. Ghesquire will talk about the meaning of that logo and the importance of that logo on his side of the presentation. But, I think it is clear that when you are driving from a distance and if we can get away from those trees, which we were required to save and maintain by the planning process, and other trees will be planted around as the landscaping comes into play; we need to have some sort of a visible sign and in this case it is a graphic sign to say here is Mercedes. The sign is further done in a manner which is no taller than the building and the sign height if we look at the grade elevation is 878 feet to the top of sign and the top of the building is 883 feet roughly. So we are roughly 5 feet below the height of the building. We are within inches of the actual facade sign.


Lee Mamola: We think it is very tastefully done in character, in scale and in proportion to the site. In addition below the sign there is a brick wall proposed and the City of Novi logo which nicely and coincidentally has a very similar blue color. So the top and the bottom of the pylons start to go together nice in their shape, form and proportion. Additionally this sign given the existing topography sits a little lower than Grand River, we are about 4 feet below the Grand River elevation. This is a standard sized sign, our client has no choice to make the sign 3 inches lower or 12 inches higher. He could make it significantly lower and he can talk about the other options there. However, in so doing 2 things happen. We really start to ruin the shape and the proportions of this pylon. We have little space, if any, left for a welcoming City of Novi sign for the entrance to the City. Furthermore, when you are approaching from the Farmington Hills direction, you need that height to see over and above. If there is a truck stopped at Haggerty coming southbound you won’t see a low sign at all. The similar argument holds true from the other direction; coming from Meadowbrook Road the other side and column of photographs the building facade sign is back and parallel with Grand River. The zoning district that we are in - we could have put the building 35 feet closer and still be in conformance with the front yard setbacks for this particular project. But given the access and the existing considerations of the existing buildings it does set back farther than the ordinance really requires and that really somewhat complicates the visibility issues in seeing these signs. The design is appropriate for the site. The design offers safety to the site. The design offers a welcoming and it is part of the proposal to have the City Logo and welcoming to the bottom of the site. I would also like to add the Ghesquire’s and their existing car dealerships, do not have the use of any window signage which they would be allowed to take 25% of their glass area and plaster it with what I would describe as the old Livernois look on the front of the building and I don’t think that the City cares to see that. I will leave the rest for Mr. Ghesquire to close.


Charles Ghesquire I am the owner of the Mercedes Benz of Novi as it is being designed. The Mercedes Benz star is the most recognized luxury symbol in the entire world. Of symbols it is the third most recognizable of all symbols in the world. It is also one of the requirements of Mercedes that we do a fascia on the building and do display the Mercedes Benz star. We tried to have this worked out prior to even starting construction but we were told we couldn’t address the signage until the building was up. We have known all along that we have had this request coming and felt that we had to do it. The one thing that I think is most important is that the Frances Drain right of way is 138 feet wide, which puts us back of that and the building comes all most 200 feet back of Haggerty. If you were on Haggerty you would have no way of knowing as the present signage is that it is a Mercedes Benz dealership. You would be able to see the name of the dealership from the very corner after you have turned onto Grand River but otherwise there is no way to know what that building is.

Charles Ghesquire: As Lee mentioned, we are very conscious of good taste. We have never used window banners and we don’t use flags in the used car lot. Therefore we think it is very necessary that someway we have to identify this building as Mercedes. As we have driven through Novi I think our request has a lot less signage than the other car dealers that you have in the City. My feeling is that the corner of Grand River and Haggerty is of interest to your City. I think that the marquee of Mercedes Benz enhances that entrance and I think that putting your welcoming sign to Novi also enhances the entrance to the City. I guess that we would strongly request that you approve our request. Thank you.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 7 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Don Saven had no comment.


Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: I agree that the Mercedes emblem is well recognized. I have a problem with the height and you will have to go a long way to persuade me that you need a pylon sign that is 25 feet in the air. The pictures suggesting either westbound on Grand River really didn’t sway me because seeing that sign at that point you are not going to turn right anyway. You are not going to do anything until you get to that intersection and I think that you will see the sign as you get a little bit closer. I have personal issue with tall, large pylon signs and while you have noticed others at one other dealership and anytime that dealership is in front of us that is a chip that we use to barter with. One of these days those are going to come tumbling down. That is not the trend that we are going with, it is the other way. Those are my general comments.


Member Harrington: I drove the Grand River and Haggerty. South on Haggerty today and turned right on Grand River and I was struck by the configuration of that parcel. It seems to me that if you approach the City of Novi there is no parcel which would be better suited to having a ground sign than that one. I believe that I made a serious error in not protesting more vigorously with the Dodge sign which went up and we never saw it before it went up, it was just sort of there. My first problem is that we don’t have a rendering to deal with and I will never approve again as a Board Member a sign of this nature with a 400% increase beyond what code permits without actually seeing in a mock up rendering or some other fashion - because the visual impact is everything. Second I am not convinced it would do any good even if it were there. I would want to see a ground hugger sign, but maybe 5 feet isn’t enough and maybe it would have to be 6 feet or 7 feet; I don’t know. But I would want to rule out that option before even looking at a sign that is 20 or 25 feet tall whether it has poles or the emblem or.... I am not going to comment on the content. Obviously the Mercedes emblem is significant and important and I think it should be addressed in a sign; but not a double pylon sign of that nature. I could never approve that sign as proposed, especially without seeing it. I have to see a sign like that before I am going to say that is the best that we can do. I think that you should go back to the drawing boards and start with a ground hugger sign and find out what the minimum is that you need in order to get a favorable reaction from the Board. That is my comment.


Charles Ghesquire: We had originally talked of trying to find a way of doing a ground hugger sign, but a 5 or 6 foot ground hugger sign is less than the elevation of Grand River. It would sit down in a hole and it would not even come up to ground level. We have the Frances Drain there and the ground drops so severely that the sign would be lost. It would be a waste of money, waste of time and it would look foolish.


Member Harrington: That was part of the problem that I had when I tried to visualize because I didn’t see the proposed location of where that sign would be. I noticed a lot of the scrub trees and the like that are there and could obscure the view; but I assumed that those scrub trees are not a permanent part of the fixture.


Charles Ghesquire: We cannot take out any more trees. Your forestry department tagged the trees and those that are there must stay. The fact that the road is about 6 or 7 feet above the area where we have to put the sign and we can’t build it up because it is in the flood right of way or something that we can’t add dirt; so with a 6 foot sign we would look down Grand River at it. Down in the hole at a sign. It really does not work.


Member Harrington: What you might consider, and at least my reaction was, and I didn’t think that you were going to put it down in a hole either but you may have to back that sign away from the right of way a little bit in order to get it up where it is visible. I didn’t see any impediment to that and it looked like it would either be parking or...


Charles Ghesquire: It would be in the parking lot.


Member Harrington: Lee is a very creative guy, he can do that, he can put a sign there.


Charles Ghesquire: We are coming back another 50 feet from the 200 foot setback.


Member Harrington: I don’t know. When I drove by I was looking at a blank area. An area under construction and I am trying to match that with the vision that Mr. Mamola has presented tonight of a 25 foot sign and I am not persuaded. I don’t think that all options have been explored. In fact, I would still want to see what is there. I want to see you guys start with an idea of a ground sign and if you have to put it your parking lot - then put it in the parking lot. Can you live with that? Do you need 8 feet or do you need 10 feet? But, no 20 to 25 feet in the air. Not a pylon sign.


Charles Ghesquire: I guess the only other comment that I have is that we have the exact signage in Bloomfield Hills at the present time and we have had 3 letters of commendation on the signage of that building and it really is not objectionable to the point that you are trying to make us believe that it might be.


Member Bauer: I am looking over here, south of the B3 on the map here and it 55858. Where the sign it is 855, that is 3 feet and that is to the far side of your lot.


Lee Mamola: I believe and let me put this other diagram up. If we take this position where the sign is and go directly across it is 587 and there is about 4 feet difference from this point on Grand River roughly perpendicular to where the sign is and the sign may or may not be lower. In other words Haggerty Road may in fact be at least the same height if not higher at this point; I am not sure I don’t have the survey in front of me. But I think that what Mr. Ghesquire’s point was is that if we put the 5 foot tall sign we are tending to be looking down on the sign from where a person would be viewing it.


Member Bauer: The reason why I am saying this is because I believe your first thing that showed it you were saying that you were much further in the hole than that. The sign that you said was for elevation finish, etc.


Lee Mamola: The finish floor of the building is at 860. The finished grade at Grand River and it depends where you look at it is 857 or 858 and it varies a little bit; and it is 53 down where the sign will go.


Member Bauer: This is where I am saying, right across that sign is a line that says 855. So you have a couple of feet there which would bring it up further.


Lee Mamola: Can I look at the particular point that you are looking at?


Lee Mamola: That 855 would move the sign roughly 10 feet or more away from Grand River and would place it directly behind the trees that partially screen it now.


Member Bauer: I am like Jim and I am not going to approve anything unless I can see a mock up.


Lee Mamola: Are you talking of a full sized mock up at the job site?


Member Bauer: Yes. Maybe you might need 12 or 14 or 15 feet, but until I can see a mock up on it; 5 feet is what I want.


Member Brennan: Are you familiar with what some of the other sites have done here recently? A 2 by 4 or a 2 by 6 construction and then they just sheet it in a white cloth.

Lee Mamola: If that is the desire of the Board, I don’t see a problem in accommodating that.


Member Brennan: Again, you may give some thought about what that first rendering looks like because there is a pretty general consensus that 25 feet is too tall.


Lee Mamola: I think that if there is a mock up out there with 2 posts going up, different heights could be explored.


Chairman Antosiak: It is important for us to see what the potential sign will look like and where it is intended to be both in terms of size and height in this case.


Member Brennan: There was another case on Grand River where a petitioner wanted a fairly good sized sign or it looked like it on paper, but in reality when they put the mock up on the building it wasn’t all that big from Grand River and it actually made the case.


Lee Mamola: I understand. We have been dealing with this project for nearly a year and we are very intimate with the sense, the scale and the proportion and we have only a few minutes to translate that to you. I would also like to, if I could, get a reading from the Board of how you feel about window signage. This particular user doesn’t really anticipate putting signage on the windows of his showroom. He will if he has to. If there is no sign allowed he is mandated by Mercedes to put that emblem You could put a lot with 25% coverage with Mercedes emblems on windows. That doesn’t sound very nice, is there feelings of the Board as to what window signage may or may not be.


Alan Amolsch: 25% of the total glassed area can be covered by temporary signs that are not illuminated. The only illuminated sign can be "open".


Lee Mamola: The glass is 16 feet tall in this building from floor to ceiling.


Member Bauer: Mercedes Benz to have window signs?


Lee Mamola: We could do that without a variance.


Member Harrington: Let me give you my response to that. I know that you are not meaning your inquiry to be the way that I hear it because I really don’t care for the inquiry. Not every ordinance can fix or resolve every situation. You have to use common sense. But I remember with quite vivid thought process and argument that we received from a local area business establishment and he was upset that he didn’t get the signage that he was looking for and he is on a major traffic area, Novi Road and up by the mall, and he plastered every square inch of his retail establishment with paper signage on the inside and I guess that is the message that he was trying to send to the Board. He had the legal right to do that. I don’t think that was the right message to send to the Board and I don’t think that is the right message to send to his retail clients. But, I remember that guy every time that I drive by there. I don’t think you are seriously suggesting that Mercedes is going to resort to window signage if we don’t approve a 25 foot sign; but if it is legal I guess that they can whatever they want to do. I know that you didn’t mean the question that way.


Lee Mamola: I don’t mean to represent that our clients would take that course either, but if they did have to go to a window sign it would be tastefully done; but nonetheless a window sign.


Chairman Antosiak: I don’t think that I hear the Board saying that we would disapprove of any sign proposed along there but the question seems to be size and height of the sign proposed and for that reason I would support a tabling to allow the petitioner the time to put up a mock up.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Any kind of mock up and I would suggest that you put it at a height that you feel that you need to have there. We have had cases where we have gone out and we suggested something better from seeing it on hand; rather than trying to visualize it just off of a print and trying to work from the pictures without anything there. Really you don’t have a reference point. Until we get a reference point to really make an accurate judgement I don’t feel comfortable in working with this the way that it is presented.


Chairman Antosiak: I am not personally opposed to sign. But, I think that the building is highly visible where it is and as it will be so I am concerned about the need for a sign as I said, for that size and height. If that amenable to your client.


Charles Ghesquire: I think I would agree to a mock up. I think if you see a mock up on that site, the site would really dwarf the sign.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: That could very well be.


Chairman Antosiak: As Mr. Brennan has said, that may be all that we need. We don’t know.


Charles Ghesquire: That would be fair.


Chairman Antosiak: I would then move that we table this request to the September Meeting. All in favor, please say aye. (all ayes) Case tabled to the September Meeting.


Chairman Antosiak: Please let Nancy know when the mock up in place. She will call us so that we can drive by and take a look at it.


Member Harrington: Will the already approved signage be up by then, so that we can compare and see how it relates to the proposed signage?


Charles Ghesquire: It won’t. We have a real time problem with the signage also.

Lee Mamola: We could put a sheet on the facade as to where the signage is going on the facade, is that what you are asking?


Member Harrington: Yes.


Chairman Antosiak: It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.


Lee Mamola: But you are asking for an indication as to where the building sign is?


Member Harrington: That will help us with the visibility from Grand River and Haggerty and the like to see how that relates to the signage that already is approved.


Lee Mamola: That could be a part of it.


Chairman Antosiak: Then we will see you in September.



Case No. 97-063A & B filed by Metro Detroit Signs, representing K-mart


Metro Detroit Signs, representing K-mart is requesting to change A) the existing wall sign which was granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals Case No. 846/B1 on March 12, 1981 limiting the size of the "K" to 7 feet 6 inches with a total sign area of 356.25 square feet, the proposed "K" is 10 feet with a total sign area of 362.9 square feet; B) to change the verbiage on the ground pole sign which was granted by the Zoning Board of appeals Case No. 8446/A on February 20, 1981 which stated the Board will maintain continuing jurisdiction for property located at 43825 West Oaks Drive.


Paul Detters was present and duly sworn.


Paul Detters: I am here on behalf of the K-mart Corporation. The essence of the appeal this evening as many of you may have read in newspapers or have seen on TV that K-mart corporation is currently undergoing a re-imaging program for all of their existing and what they would term as their old style facilities. About 300 stores have already undergone this conversion; which is a new type of merchandising that they are going to be re-imaged and called Big K’s or Big Kmarts, similar to the Super K type of facility that they have. These stores are going to be essentially the same merchandise that they carry now, but a different emphasis on different lines and the way that they display the products in there. It is a totally new image that Kmart is trying to project to their customers. Part of that is going to be a more contemporary, brighter, sort of a more upscale that they are looking for in all of their both interior and exterior signage. The package that you see before you tonight is to modify the existing Kmart to take the letters M A R T down and put up a new type of signage.


Paul Detters: I thought it might be helpful to the Board, the proposed signage that you have before you tonight is identical to signage that has been installed at another Kmart or what is now called the BigK facility in the Detroit area. I brought 6 color photographs for you to see.


Paul Detters: The facade that you see in the picture for that building is just a little different than the facade that is out at this location where there is a mansard type of roof with the aluminum siding, but the signage is in essence exactly what we have proposed.


Paul Detters: The reason for the variance is that it is slightly different than the overall square footage that was approved at a previous ZBA case.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 14 Notices sent to adjacent property owners, with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Don Saven had no comment.


Member Bauer: Why did you make the "K" larger than what the "K" was or is at the present time?


Paul Detters: What they have tried to do is that it fits with the theme BigK, and that is how they are looking at that. They wanted to keep the overall square footage consistent with what is there right now. So the will be lessening the span of the signage but the height of the "K" will be increased to emphasize more that they are looking at the BigK image.


Vice-Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: All this will increase then is roughly 6 square feet?


Alan Amolsch: Yes and then the letter height size is larger.


Member Harrington: That is a lot of sign. If you were asking for a significant increase I would be absolutely opposed, but it would appear that what you are looking for is a nominal 6 square feet or less spread out over 362 square feet which is .05% or something. It looks like a nominal increase to accomplish the architectural rendering. But it is an awful lot of sign.


Member Baty: In this photo, does it represent the configuration or also the exact size of what you are proposing?


Paul Detters: It is identical.


Chairman Antosiak: Is there anything from the landlord of the shopping center, that is an approval of this?


Paul Detters: There may be, I don’t know. I know it is within rounding a percentage point of what the existing signage is.


Member Brennan: The rendering on the pole sign, is that going to be a BigK as well and it removes the Kmart?


Paul Detters: Yes, but it will be the same size and the exact same square footage.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,




Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Baty Motion Carried




Dick Copeland from North American Signs on the Office Max issue. We just never got a final OK, and I was coming to Detroit so I told them that I would come for the variance tonight just to find out and to make sure that the last drawing was what they were looking for and it was suitable.


Member Brennan: We all received copies of this and we were prepared to discuss that now. Personally I don’t have any objection. This is pretty much in line with what I was hoping to see.


Member Harrington: My only comment is and of course there won’t be a next time, had I been aware that you were sitting loyally and patiently in the audience all evening waiting for a simple OK, I would have changed the agenda or suggested so to get you in and out of here.


Dick Copeland: I appreciate that.

Member Harrington: I found the renderings perfectly acceptable.


Chairman Antosiak: If no one has any problems, there is nothing to say.


Dick Copeland: Then we can send our sign people for their permits. Thank you.


Chairman Antosiak: I would just like to advise the Board that I will not be here for the next meeting in September.


Member Baty: I am available.





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







Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan

Recording Secretary