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




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


Absent: Member Baty (alternate)


Also Present: Donald M. Saven - Building Official

Alan Amolsch - Ordinance Enforcement Officer

Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary




Chairman Antosiak indicated we have a full Board tonight and the Meeting is now in session. 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. Since we have a full Board tonight it will take a vote of at least four (4) Members to grant or to deny a variance.




Chairman Antosiak inquired are there any changes or proposed changes to the Agenda? Hearing none, all in favor of approving the Agenda as distributed, please say aye: Voice Vote: all yeas. Agenda Approved.




Chairman Antosiak inquired are there any comments or changes proposed for the minutes of the September 2, 1997 Meeting? Hearing none, all in favor of approving the minutes as distributed, please say aye: Voice Vote: all yeas. Minutes Approved.




Chairman Antosiak indicated this is the Public Remarks section of our Meeting. All comments related to a case before the Board this evening will be heard at the time that the case is heard. However, if there is anyone in the audience who would like to address the Board on a matter that is not before us this evening, now is the time to do so. Is there anyone who would so like to address the Board?


James Korte, Shawood Lake. Speaking for myself, in the direction of Jayme Thomas at 1105 South Lake with regards to 1101 South Lake. That property has been before you many times and if you remember there was some arguments over lot lines which I realize that you don’t have any control over. That is all over with, it has been over with for over 60 days and I do know that the paper work was given to the City. The last time that I talked to the City they said that the paper work was coming. I would like to know now that the lot line situation is over and Beshears accepted the fact of the other survey which places his property within 5 feet of the lot line. Now I am not arguing where the property sits, I want to know why there is no fire control as per ordinance on the side of that house. As we speak, and I was before you at a ZBA situation and not unlike Beshears I have started tearing down and restructuring and I don’t have all of my permits in order; I want to know how much I have to do and if that man doesn’t have to have a fire code within 5 feet of his property then I am not doing one either. Now, 60 days is long enough. It is a very difficult situation, you people where aware of that. Terry Morrone said "what do we do?" and no one had an answer; well somebody better come up with an answer. I want to know why that house has no fire code on the west side. Thank you.


Donald Saven: I would like to address that issue.


James Korte: Yes, it was you that I talked with and the paper work was being proof read and that was over a week ago and she hasn’t received it. I would just like to know where it is.


Donald Saven: That is correct. I informed you of every step of the way as to which matter would be taken in regards to this issue and number one I did receive....


James Korte: But, we don’t have an answer yet! That is what I am asking for.


Donald Saven: You will have an answer probably tomorrow, if you would like to stop by. I did receive it from the attorney’s office today. You will know all of the facts behind this case.


James Korte: I just find it frightening that a house is allowed to be built and I know that things get clumsy; and at the north end we have builders who put them over 2 feet in the other end and it can be a bugger, but a fire code regulation is a major one. Two feet hither or yon can be dealt with, fire is no joke.


Donald Saven: Your are correct, Mr. Korte, you are absolutely correct. But it is also correct that both parties had a survey which was conducted and both parties had a survey that was given to the department and we reacted to those 2 surveys that were there. You will find this all in a letter form from our attorneys as to what has taken place.


James Korte: The last time that Mr. Beshears was unanimously turned down for his request, and I won’t get into that, his request was based on her survey. He acknowledged the fact that his house sits less than 5 feet. So 5 feet is the magic number for fire code and that is what I am asking. Why is there no fire code?

Member Harrington: I have a question, does this most interesting discussion and somewhat heated discussion have anything to do with a matter that is currently before us or that we anticipate being before us in the near future?


Donald Saven: No sir, it does not.


Member Harrington: This was a matter that was before us at some point in time so this is presumably of historical interest and more emotional interest between Mr. Korte and the Building Department at present. So it doesn’t involve a matter on the agenda this evening that these people are waiting to be heard on. Correct?


Chairman Antosiak: That is correct.



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


Continuation of case filed by Lee Mamola, representing Steve & Izumi Myers, 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.


Lee Mamola: Thank you for your patience in allowing us to come back some 2 months later. If I could just highlight quickly some of the points that we talked about at the last presentation. We pointed out that the petitioner, the Myers’, operate a family owned business in their existing house on Ten Mile Road. The nature of their business is a consulting firm. They consult with Japanese and American firms predominately. They have only recently taken ownership of that house and of that property. The house and the property is considered historical property. The barn and the property with the house dates back to the Simmons family, which you may consider one of the founding families of the City of Novi. The barn is approximately 80 years old, give or take a couple of years. It is in a state of somewhat deterioration, predominately due to water damage. It is not beyond repair by any means but it is certain that without attention it would continue to deteriorate and at some point in the future most likely it will be beyond the state of repair. My clients are looking to move out of their house and looking to move into that barn building to do some significant repairs and remodeling to that barn so that they can take their existing operations from their house into that barn which is on all one and the same part and parcel of property.


Lee Mamola: Please consider that the nature of their business is somewhat unique. Very unique. They operate a business which consults to clients who are half way across the world, many of them in Japan. They not only have clients half way across the world, some of their clients are nearly next door at nearby hospitals, Detroit Metro Airport, and they all have facilities that their business accommodates. When an emergency comes in and they need an emergency translation from Japanese to American; they are considered the experts in this area and beyond this area as a matter of fact. They need to be at their facilities nearly 24 hours a day, not only to respond to the beeper but to have access to their fax machines and access to their computer data bases and access to client files. That is, I think, extremely unique to any consulting business that we know around here.


Lee Mamola: Izumi Myers is here tonight and she would like to further elaborate on some of the uniqueness of that business. Finally I would like to add should the Board see fit to grant a variance in this case; that we not have the normal 90 day period but we are asking for 180 day period. We still have more work to do before we can come in and apply for a proper permit on that building and we would appreciate the 180 day limit. I will now turn it over to Izumi Myers.


Izumi Myers: As Lee mentioned we do translation, interpretating and various consulting services. Japan has a 13 hour difference and sometimes we get "sister city" people calling from Japan at midnight, but during their meeting, "we want to know what souvenir would be good to bring over to our sister city and what do you think?" that can come at midnight. So we want to be close to the business and it is very convenient to have business right in the home like now; however we don’t have any home really because of the business taking much of the space. We have bedrooms upstairs but no living room, no dining room. So we would like to separate our business there, but be very near by. One more point that I would like to make is that the house itself is very old and we just love that house surrounded by big old trees; very, very beautiful. We would like to keep it and in fact we could make the barn into the office and we would make the barn to the original look. Right now there are 2 garage doors that were put in later but we want to put the barn windows back so that it looks like to the old original barn. That is all for me.


Chairman Antosiak indicated as a reminder to the Board there was a total of 23 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Donald Saven: We had a note from the Planning Department that they would like to have the ability to review this matter to see whether or not it would be subject to site plan process, should the Board decide for the home occupation.


Member Brennan: I visited the Myers’ residence and also took a look at the property and the barn, as you recall the first time around I was the one that suggested that this might be considered a historic building and giving that the petitioner was willing to invest their money and not tax payers money, but their money, to restore and put into place a historic building; I thought had some merit. I think that the nature of their business has no real detrimental effect on the surrounding neighborhood even though the property is residential. They are looking at 4 to 5 employees including themselves; which is no more than the number of cars that I see in my driveway with 3 teen agers every night. I think that their plan is a solid and positive addition to the community and I think it would serve our community well to grant the variance.


Member Meyer: I also visited the site and I also wish to agree with my collegue, Mr. Brennan, that in deed the barn will be renovated at their expense and it is a very small barn at that. It also appears that they will take every effort to make it a very neat and appropriate site and one that would not negatively impact on the neighbors. I will certainly give my support to their effort for the variance here this evening.


Member Harrington: My sense is that there is a strong Board support and sentiment for this petition. I continue to have the reservations that I had before and I hope that if the Board approves this petition we do not see a flood of similar variance requests under similar circumstances. I think that the technology that we have now and have had for quite some time renders the issue of I have to be close to my busines, moot because with call forwarding, computers and the like that is not even a consideration. But they seem like nice people and it seems like a nice structure so my sense is that there will be Board support for this. But, I think it is a loop hole which is being opened and hopefully we won’t see any other similar requests because what we are doing is allowing them to run a business out of a barn and it is only a small step from a barn to a garage and only a small step from someone across the way who says "why can’t I run my business out of my garage because I need to be in touch too". That was my philosphical concern last time and it continues to be my concern.


Member Bauer: I think that if the Board does approve the variance that it be related only to this particular business owner.


Member Brennan: Having made the original comments and I fully intend if I get the motion to limit it to this petitioner. I don’t think that we have a lot of 90 year old barns that would be considered historic structures, so I wouldn’t think that we would see a lot more of these in front of us. But, getting into the whole home occupation; that is something that the City or the Ordinance Committees have yet to recognize and that is a whole pandora of issues that I think are really unrelated to this particular case.


Chairman Antosiak: Mr. Harrington, I share your conceptual concerns here. As you know every case is decided on its’ own merits and what would cause me to lean to approving such a variance here is one the nature of the business and the necessity to generally be working when others are not working which may make and I don’t know if this is a fact, may make it difficult to find off site premises. The property is fairly large, it is not just a strict residential lot and it is on Ten Mile which is a very busy street. It is right across the street from the church which creates a lot of traffic at different times of the week I am sure. So given all those circumstances I would lean to towards approving a variance in this case, where as I may not in another case. I say that knowing full well that I live with someone who has an office in our house, so......


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I agree with the rest of the Board’s major discussion points on this. The major reason that I can support it is not because of the building itself; but number one this is a minimal or no traffic generating business. My concern when we start looking at home business occupations is the amount of traffic that is being generated to go with than. This I see to be minimal or no real amount of traffic being generated and with the other circumstances I can support the petitioner’s request.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




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


Lee Mamola: May I please ask the Board for clarification as to whether we would have a 180 day period to obtain our permit?


Member Brennan: And the purpose for the 180 day instead of the 90?


Lee Mamola: Normally when we come before you we are much farther advanced in the design and detailing of the building. In this case we are not. We simply need that time to prepare those documents and verify the conditions of the building and the field. If you had a chance to go into the barn, perhaps you saw the pile of wood, we have to get that wood out of there. I would appreciate it if the Board would see that to be fit.


Member Brennan: I have no problem with making that part of the motion.


Member Bauer: And I would have no problem with a second to that.


Chairman Antosiak: Would all of the Board agree? (All Members agreed.)


Chairman Antosiak: In light of Mr. Saven’s earlier comment, it is not our determination whether or not this needs to go to the Planning Commission. Is that your determination, Mr. Saven or the Planning Department?

Donald Saven: No, it is not. What we are looking at is the fact that they are applying for a home occupation at the present time, or designating this as a home occupation; it does not have that inference in the Planning Department. Why I brought that up was a concern relative to parking and things of this nature which is part of the concern that the Planning Department brought to my attention this afternoon.


Chairman Antosiak: So, what would be the mechanism for deciding whether or not this needs to go to Planning?


Donald Saven: I think that we could possibly run it by them for the issue regarding parking and maybe some other issues that they may want to look at.



Case No. 97-078 filed by Robert Consani


Robert Consani is requesting a 458 square foot variance to allow for the construction of a second garage (24' x 38') for property located at 43560 Cottisford. The property is 2.25 acres and is zoned R-4.


Robert Consani was present and duly sworn.


Robert Consani: I am requesting a variance to build an attached garage to my home for the storage of a few collectable classic antique cars. As I understand it, there is 3 zoning parameters governing these types of additions. One is setbacks; which I think that I am OK on. Second is a percentage of lot coverage; and being that my lot is large I am just using a fraction of what is allowable. The third provision is that there is a maximum of 850 square feet that is allowed; and from talking with the builder my understanding of that intent for the third provision is that in most higher density subdivisions the ordinance is to keep all of the garages proportional to the lot size and the neighbors.

Robert Consani: I was hoping that a variance might be OK in my case since I have a large lot and it is recessed far back from the road. It is surrounded by trees and is invisible to everyone. The garage will be done in very nice taste, the brick will match to the house.


Robert Consani: I was hoping that with these things and any other concerns that you might have if I could address them; that my request would be approved.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 27 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.




There was no audience participation.



Donald Saven had no comment.


Member Brennan: The 10 foot setback on the east side of the property, is that sufficient?


Robert Consani: I checked with Mr. Morrone and he looked it up in the book.


Member Harrington: Sort of implicit in your request, but I would really like to hear it from you is that the reason that you need this kind of square footage is that you can’t reasonably accomplish your purpose of the storage of cars and the like without a structure of this size; is that true?


Robert Consani: Correct.


Member Harrington: Could you tell us a little bit about it? Why do you need something this big?


Robert Consani: I have the opportunity to collect a few rare cars and without this type of storage capability on my premises I would have to either store them out in the yard under a temporary coverage, and which I am sure that my neighbors would prefer that they are in a garage. Second, they are valuable cars so that would expose them to the elements. The third alternative would be to store them in an off-site storage garage or warehouse somehow; which I would prefer not to do because that costs monthly outlay for the storage and also I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them. They need monthly maintenance and monthly driving to keep them running. These are fairly unique cars and I know the City of Novi likes them and I enjoy them and so the community would also benefit by me driving them around.


Member Harrington: The kind of maintenance that you would be doing would be routine car maintenance; but you would not be re-building cars or running grinders or putting on bumpers and the like?


Robert Consani: I understand the concerns, but this is no commercial purpose at all. This is just keeping them clean and starting them up once a month.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Harrington,



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


Case No. 97-079 filed by Thomas VanOyen, representing Jeffrey Sobolewski


Thomas VanOyen, representing Jeffrey Sobolewski, is wishing to extend the variance that was granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals on September 3, 1996 Case No. 96-073 which requested an extension of the decision of the Board on November 7, 1995 for Case No. 95-099, for property located at 1099 South Lake Dr. The building permit obtained on November 6, 1996 has expired; no inspections were called for and there is no work in progress.


Thomas VanOyen and Joe Bennett were present and duly sworn.


Thomas VanOyen: The case is that pretty much I thought that the demo of the 1099 house was the beginning of the construction. When I did come in to tell them that I was prepared to start it at that time they said that no permits had been pulled and I asked them about the demo permit and they said it did not count, that it was a different permit. There was a little mis-understanding there. The reason why it took so long to get to this point, is that there has been sickness in the family on my end and sickness in the family on Mr. Sobolewski’s end.


Joseph Bennett: I am the attorney for Mr. Sobolewski, who is also present and in the audience. Mr. VanOyen is the developer. As you noted we were last here in September of 1996 at which time you granted an extension of the variance. The building permit was pulled within the 90 day variance period. However, as Mr. VanOyen has indicated there was some confusion on our part with respect to the permits. There was a demolition permit and also a building permit and we were under the apprehension that if we had taken down the structure that would have been the commencement of work sufficient to keep the building permit alive. Obviously we were mistaken in that regard.


Joseph Bennett: In conjunction with that, we are prepared at this point to move forward. I think that there were some extenuating circumstances that mitigated in favor of tonight extending the variance and I think that the first thing to remember is that historically that this particular parcel before Mr. Sobolewski purchased it had a rather poor history. When we initially looked at raising the existing structure and building a new one there was concerns from the neighbors with the respect to the way the garage was facing and in order to accommodate those concerns and I think some concerns by the Building Department the initial request for the variance was necessary to move the garage from a forward facing to a garage to a side facing garage which required moving the house around on the lot and not merely rebuilding it on the existing or where the footings had previously been. We came before you initially for the variance in the hopes of accommodating both the neighbors and the concerns of the Building Department. At this point the structure was raised and that was again at the request of the City because of the nature of the structure. It was pulled down and the lot has been maintained. At this point we would request an extension of the variance. We are prepared to begin construction. Part of the reason that the construction was delayed in the past again, was because of health problems of both the builder and the land owner’s mothers. We have also tried to sell the property and have had no luck with that. We really do want to begin construction as soon as possible and I think that the delay here was not in due or in bad faith and I don’t think that there is any prejudice to the City or the neighbors in allowing us merely to build the house that conformed to the desires of the neighbors. I think that the Building Department and I have talked to Mr. Morrone about this matter and he indicated to me at the time of my conversation that he didn’t have any objections to this in principal but it that it was necessary to comply with the letter of and the language of the variance and the building permit had to come forward again tonight. At this point we would be happy to answer any questions but we would request that the extension of the variance be granted.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 64 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.




James Korte, Shawood Lake. I and Sarah Gray and apologies from Sarah Gray, Maudlin, she is not in favor of granting an extension. She is busy trying to get ready for an out state wedding that she is leaving for on Thursday or she would be here.


James Korte: We were instrumental in getting this variance approved based on some conditions. Mr. VanOyen was very nice to meet with. The house was to be torn down and was to be made to look like something. I think that if you remember, I said that we want improvement now. The lot is still a pig sty. It has not been taken care of. It has not been mowed. Mr. VanOyen this evening has said that it passed approval; the hole is not filled.


James Korte: I don’t know why we at the north end have to keep saying or asking "is garbage stamped on our forehead?" Now, 2 years; that is long enough. The area would like the hole filled. The dump trucks are now gone and they were there for weeks on and off. The little bobcat is still sitting there. The blue hunk of whatever is still sitting in the back and has been there for a long time is in violation of the City Ordinance. We have enough problems with trash at the north end. We bent over backwards to get the house done and to get improvement now. Now has never happened. Thank God that the house did leave.


James Korte: The City tells me that the property is sold. That could be. If the property is sold, then I think that the owner should come forward. If we are building this on "spec" which I realize isn’t your problem or your money, I think that we have a big problem. I have to question the authenticity. The Spinal Column, the week of October 1st through the 7th; the property is still listed as of today. So I question the authenticity. We want it cleaned. What is now the hardship? After 2 years what is the hardship? We are tired of the promises and I think that these are just more of the idle promises. In a year, we will be back again. Please don’t allow. Let him start over. Thank you.



Donald Saven had no comment.


Member Brennan: In review of the ZBA Meeting of August 13th I asked Mr. VanOyen specifically, "you have been hired by Mr. Sobolewski to mop this thing up because the other builder in that relationship tumbled" and your answer at that point was "yes". That was over a year ago, which was a year past the original variance request. I tend to have some sympathy with our neighbor Mr. Korte who seems to put things in perspective. I won’t even address what could be personal issues, but I think that there is a lot more here than meets the eye and I am not compelled to grant an extension.

Joseph Bennett: I recognize that there has been delay here, but it has not been in bad faith. I think that it is the best thing for the neighborhood and the City at this point is to grant the extension so that construction can begin immediately. That is the plan. We are not here hedging for more time, we want to get the construction under way and as soon as possible the builder and the land owner are committed to that. I think that if the variance is denied we are putting up a structure that doesn’t have the side garage, it won’t be as appealing to the neighbors and I think that denying the variance would just be punitive and not really further the goals of the community at large or that neighborhood and I would ask that you favorably consider this variance extension so that we can put up a home that is pleasing to the neighbors.


Thomas VanOyen: May I add to that? Yes, you are right it has taken awhile for it to get up and to get going. We are prepared to get up and get going on it immediately. This won’t happen again. We will get up and move on it.


Member Harrington: So that the audience and members of the public know, we do not always review everything that happened to every parcel in it’s history before we consider another matter but where those issues are significant we have a great support staff and we are furnished with minutes of prior meetings and when I reviewed not just last years meeting but the reference to the initial petition, which was the subject of considerable discussion and objection which we approved and then a year later in what I felt was a fairly close case where we declined to re-hear the issue on its merits and we were simply looking at an extension of the initial approval that was granted and we were looking at a timing issue, I had concern but I supported it. Next month will be the 2 year anniversary of this construction proposal. Under no circumstances where there has been what I can only conclude as deliberate dis-regard for an orderly construction process. Deliberate dis-regard are the concerns of this Board and in fact when I was Chairman at that time I said "how much time do you need?" and I was told under oath 90 days. We are now one year later. There is a concept which we run into every now and then called like "sleeping on your rights". Someone has been asleep at the switch here. I don’t know whether it is the construction manager. I don’t know whether it is the builder. I don’t know whether there has been other problems. But someone should not have waited a year to come back in, in my view, to seek yet another extension with some request for additional time. Mr. Korte is absolutely correct, it is wrong to grant an extension and I can’t support an extension here. If someone other person under some other circumstances wants to come back in; if it is a new owner or someone else we will look at it on its merits; but I am looking at the same names and the same faces and the same arguments 2 years later and it would be wrong, I believe, for this Board Member to support this petition.


Member Meyer: I would like to ask if you would be willing to tell us why it has taken 2 years. If you are ready tomorrow; why weren’t you able to do it 6 months ago. We gave an extension and now it is a year later and you are making it very difficult for us to understand why we should do this. I need a little more clarification.


Thomas VanOyen: OK. In the first place when I came in a month ago to ask for this, that makes it 10 months. All right. At that time we totally redrew the prints. The prints were not approved. I have both sets of prints with me right now. We had a side garage that was complained. Now in order to change the side garage we had to reconstruct the entire house and that is what we did to make the neighbors happy. Then on top of that they said whatever you do right away get this house down. Fine, because there were kids in there; it wasn’t a place that kids should go. They were doing things that they you shouldn’t be doing; so we did that. Now you know that we really did work with this and yes you are right, we did let this slip, but we are ready to go ahead with it.


Member Meyer: The other clarification that I would like because of the material that has been presented to us and I am not asking that you do this unless you feel comfortable; but it indicates that the appeal is based upon family medical hardships. Have these been to the extent that they have caused an amount of grief that perhaps would hinder a person from carrying on their normal routine procedures such as starting things on time.


Thomas VanOyen: I think that everybody is slightly different when you talk about emotions. You are right, at that particular time my mom was having a heart pacer and she was having trouble prior to that continuously and then finally the heart pacer did straighten out a lot of her problems. But getting a call at 3 in the morning is scary. It does take a lot of things out of you. I can only do so much.


Joseph Bennett: I would also like to indicate that we did incur the cost of $5000.00 to tear down the other structure. So this is a situation where the City did ask us to take that down, and we did it promptly and incurred $5000.00 in expenses and I think that too mitigates in favor of granting the extension of the variance. If you need further commitments from us at this point, with respect to the construction date we will be happy to provide you with that.


Member Meyer: It is just very hard for us to hear you say that, knowing that these extensions have been given previously. So, if this is granted tonight and it is most incredible for me to believe; but if it is granted you would guarantee that you would begin building tomorrow.

Joseph Bennett: If you would like a bond of some sort, we could do that.


Thomas VanOyen: How about that you will have a foundation inspection within one week? How about that? And then after that we will just keep on moving on it. But the first week is that the hole will be dug for you people to come out and inspect so that we can fill it with concrete and begin the house.


Jeffrey Sobolewski: I am the owner of the property and I am the one that has had all of the problems. I had a builder previously who stole money from me that created a lot of problems and that was 2 years ago. I then got Tom to put this together. We have the bonds already in place, it was my understanding that taking the house down constituted starting work on this property and obviously I was wrong; I don’t know the difference between that but please don’t feel that we are affronting you or doing this against you. I am the one that is suffering here; I am the one that has had to go through all of these problems. For you to feel that I am doing this on purpose, just amazes me because I want to get this done and over with. I don’t want to be coming back here for 2 years. I certainly never had this intention to begin with. I apologize if that is how you feel, but it is through none of my purposeful actions that .... and these things are happening to me.


Member Brennan: Sir, is it your intention to live in this house?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: No.


Member Brennan: Then it is your intention to rent it out?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: No.


Member Brennan: What is your intention?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: I originally purchased that property to live in. To build an house to live in. That was with the first builder and putting that property together and running into the problems that I ran into with him and the delays I found another piece of property that I built on the other side of the lake on West Lake Drive. So if you want to see the quality of the building that can go up in this area, you can just go to 1405 West Lake Drive and see what type of building Mr. VanOyen is capable of putting together which is on the print but normally when you look at a print and then look at the final product......


Member Brennan: Sir, I just want you to answer my question. You do not plan on living in it, you plan on renting it?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: No, I do not plan on renting it.


Member Brennan: What do you plan on doing with it?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: Selling it.


Member Harrington: On the sale issue, whoever can respond to this; for what period of time since November of 1995 has this house been listed for sale?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: Probably since last summer. I would have to look at the listing paper.


Member Harrington: Would that be the summer of 1997 or 1996?


Jeffrey Sobolewski: I don’t know. I believe it just came up and it was a 6 month so it would have been the beginning part of 1997 so maybe February. It was probably around February of 1997.


Member Meyer: I would just like to have one more clarification; that is that you felt that when you had the original house demolished that indeed was the initiation of the process? So in your mind the process wasn’t the digging of the hole.....


Jeffrey Sobolewski: Actually I thought that it was all continuing when I got the bonds for the trees, for the heating and the cooling for demoing the house. I thought that all of that constituted the process.


Member Meyer: It does not help your cause to read that the building permit obtained on November 6, 1996 has expired and no inspections have been called for and there is no work in progress.


Jeffrey Sobolewski: But the demolition was done.


Joseph Bennett: That was what we were laboring on and had the mis-apprehension about; I think it would be understandable that taking down the old would be a part of the process when you would spend $5000.00 in removing a structure at the request of the City because the structure posed a problem through no fault of my clients’; we did that and incurred that cost and certainly incurring $5000.00 in expenses is quite a bit more expensive than putting in additional pleas. Again I don’t think that not granting the extension of the variance at this point would serve any purpose other than being punitive and I hope that what you have heard here is that we have not intended the delay and it has not been undue or in bad faith. You have the commitment that construction will begin immediately.


Member Harrington: When was the demo concluded?


Thomas VanOyen: I am sorry, I can’t tell you that.


Member Harrington: Before the last time that we voted on this?


Thomas VanOyen: No.


Chairman Antosiak: I have a copy of the permit in the file, if I understand the dates on this permit correctly, the demo occurred 10/14/96 or the date the permit was pulled. This is a copy of a building permit that was applied for November 6, 1996 and to expire June 2, 1997.


Jeffrey Sobolewski: The actual demolition took place in 1997.


Chairman Antosiak: This is the building permit, correct?


Member Meyer: I would like to pursue it one more step and then I will make the motion; so the building was demolished perhaps in February of 1997 and if I am understanding you correctly the reason that no building construction has gone one since February of 1997 is the pulling of certain permits, is that what I am hearing you say?


Thomas VanOyen: No, all permits were pulled.


Member Meyer: So why has no construction gone on since February of 1997?


Thomas VanOyen: Again, we thought that the permits were good seeing how the house had come down and with the grief that Mr. Sobolewski and myself had been having; we just haven’t gotten into it. But now we are ready and like I said I would like to move on. Your mother was seriously ill at this time as well....


Jeffrey Sobolewski: My mother had an operation, yes.


Chairman Antosiak inquired of Donald Saven: This building permit shows a fee of approximately $1451.00; would there be a similar fee should they need to pull another permit?


Donald Saven: He would be obtaining only an extension.


Member Bauer inquired of Don Saven: If this was not approved, can they go ahead and build on it?


Donald Saven: No.


Member Brennan: If I can put this in very simple terms, all they are asking is an extension of a variance that was granted a couple of years and now and for whatever reasons they are prepared to begin. You are ready to start? Digging trenches, putting down concrete.....


Jeffrey Sobolewski: We are ready, we have the estimates the trusses and everything.


Member Brennan: You are ready to do this in the next 30 days? So if you had an extension to this variance of 30 days, what would that accomplish?


Thomas VanOyen: We could have the foundation in, order the concrete......


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Meyer:




Discussion on motion:


Chairman Antosiak: Just a clarification question Mr. Brennan; do you mean 30 days from tonight?


Member Brennan: Yes.


Thomas VanOyen: That would be fine.


Member Bauer inquired of Donald Saven: This will then put them so that they can complete it?


Donald Saven: If they get the extension, they can start and get ready to go, it will probably take about a day in our office.


Member Harrington: It is inconceivable to me, that a licensed builder in this community who deals with the City on a regular basis has no conception of what the significance of the permits are and how long they are good for. I have no fault with the owner, Mr. Sobolewski with respect to this property; he has had his own circumstances but he has put his faith and his trust into his builder and his builder presumably because of personal circumstances has dropped the ball and has not hired a new builder or sought substitute assistance with this problem and in fact didn’t even know that this was a problem. I don’t think that the Board should approve this extension, the owner has full remedies against the builder and I believe that he should be encouraged to pursue those remedies and I also note with great significance that the same time the demo occurs the house is listed for sale. This is not a hardship. An economic choice was made, the choice was made - let’s sell the house, we don’t want to do it for whatever reasons, we don’t want to do new prints, we don’t want to do something, we want to sell it and then 6 months later we can’t sell it so let’s go back to the Board for a permit extension. I am concluding and I believe it to be true, that they were well aware that this permit had expired and had they come in on the day that it had expired I would have a different attitude. But it expired a long time ago and in fact it was applied for 2 years ago. I can’t support the motion.


Member Meyer: With due respect for Mr. Harrington; I do believe that these man acted in good faith particularly in the spending of $5000.00 to demolish a house that this Board asked them to demolish. I do believe that they are acting in good faith this evening in that they will immediately exercise, if this variance is granted, the beginning of the construction that we had thought that they were going to do months ago. If by any chance that they don’t do that; I can’t see ever allowing this kind of consideration again.


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


Case No. 97-080 filed by Kari Weber


Kari Weber is requesting a 3 foot setback variance from the house to allow for the construction of a pool at 22506 Devron Ct., in the Royal Crown Subdivision.


Mike and Kari Weber were present and duly sworn.


Mike Weber: One of the things that we need in order to obtain a permit for the construction of this pool is subdivision association approval. The plan that is before you is the plan that our architectural control committee has approved. The pool that we are proposing to build is the smallest standard size pool that is available. We are requesting a 3 foot variance to allow the construciton of the pool 7 foot from our house. This is necessary becuase we have a 10 foot easement across the back of our property. We understand that generally pools can get as close to 6 foot from the property and if this easement were only 6 foot we wouldn’t be before you today. We tried to identify the reason for the 10 foot from the home requirement and no one that we spoke to knew exactly what the reason was, some ideas that were suggested to us for that was that you need to have enough room possibly to drive a vehicle between the main structure and the additional structure; we can’t understand why this would be something that we would be concerned with. Another idea was that we may need to provide sufficient distance so that if the structure caught on fire it wouldn’t jeopardize the main structure and clearly this isn’t a concern. Another was that a pool could put pressure on the basement walls, we have a walk out basement and the water level of the pool would be even with the basement floor and therefore there won’t be any pressure on the basement walls. Finally this variance would allow the pool to be closer to our house as opposed to infringing on someone else’s property. We feel that this plan best addresses the diverse needs of our association, the City of Novi and ourselves. We thank you for your consideration.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 42 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There that a total of 9 written responses received with 5 voicing approval and 4 voicing objection. Copies in file.



Kimberly Behmer, I am one of the objections that has already been sent in. I live behind the Weber’s. I am kidde corner to them. I am here to ask you not to compromise. This is not a hardship case, this is for pleasure. We all butt up to each other, there is 3 properties behind them. It is congested back there. We have a drain in the center of our yard and the people directly behind them. We have pictures and every time that it rains it floods back there. It is a congested area. This is a very big pool for that area.


Donald Massara, 22592 Bertram. I don’t back up to the house, I live through and across the street behind them. I disagree with the variance period. They are set up for a reason, let’s keep them. I had to abide by them when I built my deck; what is next? Are we going to encroach onto easements? Think about it.


Randa Batshon, 22573 Bertram, the home that is directly behind the Weber’s home. I am here also to oppose the variance. I believe that the pool that the Weber’s are proposing to put in is to big for the lot that they are proposing to put it in. I believe that may be a better solution would be a custom pool that is smaller and they would not need a variance for. I believe that those requirements are set forth to protect the resale value of our homes. I am here primarily because I am worried about the resale value of my home and I don’t think that a big pool like that and right behind my home is going to help to sell my home at all. Thank you.


Steve Walters, 22536 Fuller. It is my interpretation that there are other pools in the subdivision that have had variances granted. It appears to me that the Weber’s are doing what they can to get the pool away from other people’s houses and property lines. They are encroaching on their side of what would affect them the most. If the issue is "look we don’t want pools in the backyard because we don’t want to look at it or hear the noise", I have a pool in my backyard. We have a drainage hole in my backyard. The City granted the people behind us to have a pool because the City approved the grade and said there would be no water run off. I don’t quite see the issue at hand other than the fact that people don’t want to look at a pool. I, myself, of the 3 houses that are closest to me 3 of those are Luma houses and only 1 of those Luma houses has been built where it belongs within the easements and yet the City has granted every single one of those easements. I hope you keep your minds open and sort through why people are asking not to have a pool or to have the pool. If it fits code and I also heard that this is the smallest pool that you can get, I know of another pool in our subdivision that was granted easements and it was not the smallest pool that you could put into somebody’s backyard.


Greg Berry, 45652 White Pines Dr. President of Royal Crown Estates Homeowners Association. This is case within the homeowners association has been looked at sideways, backwards, forwards, all over the place. We have had numerous meetings on this particular issue. The compromise before you we feel is valid because these particular residents have incurred a hardship that normally would not be found and that was primarily the easements in the back of their property and permanent electrical lines that do not afford them to move the pool in such a way that it would be normally directly behind the house. This has been a very difficult situation. There is a lot of emotion that is involved here. When you step back and look at this issue we take our responsibility as Board of Directors for the homeowners association in Royal Crown very seriously. The reputation in Royal Crown is that we are pro-active people and we really support the issue here tonight of granting the variance based upon the hardship that these particular applicants have encountered.


Dave Kemple, 45704 Irvine Dr., I am the Vice-President of the Board of Directors. Just following up with what Greg Berry has said, we have looked at this case from many different angles. We tried to attempt to get the pool behind the residence as is our fairly consistent planning within the rest of the neighborhood. The electrical lines wouldn’t let us get it within the easement. We tried to address as many neighbor concerns as we could. Our primary goal in asking the Weber’s to apply for a variance is that we wanted to keep the pool out of the easement area, maintain the drainage in the area and get as much of the pool behind the residence to establish an ownership type of policy.




Donald Saven had no comment.


Member Harrington inquired of Donald Saven: It seems that this matter comes before us because first of all it falls within the concept as an accessory structure, correct?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Harrington: It is not a garage, not a building, not a storage shed, it is a pool. But a pool falls withing a "structure" just like our famous basketball poles and the like. If it is outside of the house it is a structure, right?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Harrington: Second, because it is interpretated as a detached accessory building, which it is not because it is a pool, but because it is interpretated to be a detached accessory building they don’t want it any closer than 10 feet to the house, correct?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Harrington: Traditionally we would think that garages, storage sheds and the like could present hazards which might impact on the house fire code wise and that is why we want the safety zone, right?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Harrington: In your view, is their any safety hazard, fire hazard and I am not being facetious but is there any problem in terms of like access for a fire truck or something that is made worse by granting this variance?


Donald Saven: From an issue of access for fire truck, I don’t believe that there is a safety issue.


Member Harrington: Or any other safety issue?


Donald Saven: My concern would be where the door wall would be located adjacent to; from the home to the swimming pool. Whether or not there is an issue of an upper deck and how close that deck would be. It appears that it would be far enough.


Member Harrington: In terms of the amount of room that is in the back yard, there is absolutely no question that these people could have a pool there without a variance, true?


Donald Saven: Based on the fact that there is an easement that could be a problem.


Member Harrington: Yes, that is where the hardship comes in. But whether a thousand people object if they simply slice up this pool and carved off the 3 feet that is closest to the house and the part that is farthest away from the neighbors, they could still have a pool, correct?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Harrington: It just may be architecturally horrendous or otherwise unsuitable for their uses, but they are entitled to a pool without a variance, true?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Harrington: And the area that is most affected is the area that appears to be farthest away from the neighbors?


Donald Saven: That is correct.


Member Brennan: I was involved with the homeowners association where I lived for 12 years and it was unfortunate that it was 12 years because we couldn’t get anybody else to do it. So I am glad to see that you are all here whether you are for it or against it. I think that you can see that you have to come to some degree of compromise. But, I am thrilled that you are all working together. The variance request impedes on the homeowner and not on any other setbacks. Some of the other previous pools that we talk about and although we cannot reference previous pools because this case will stand on it’s own merit, but most of those have worked their way into the encroachments or setbacks on the side yards. I think that the variance request is minimal. It is at the homeowners side of the property and has minimal impact on adjoining neighbors.


Moved by Member Harrington,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




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


Kari Weber: May we ask for another request, please? We would like to request the 5 day period for issuance of a permit be waived.


Chairman Antosiak inquired of Donald Saven: Is that a problem?


Donald Saven: I don’t believe so.


Chairman Antosiak: Is there any Board Member concern about waiving? I would move that the 5 day waiting period be waived. All in favor, please say aye. Voice Vote: All Yeas.



Case No. 97-081 filed by Beata Gioutsos


Beata Gioutsos is requesting a 4 foot setback variance from the house to allow for the construction of a pool at 23733 Wintergreen Circle in the Wintergreen Subdivision.


Tony and Beata Gioutsos and Paul Peters were present and duly sworn.


Paul Peters: I am a licensed builder and am in charge of trying to build this thing. Our case; when I got into this with Tony and Beata we were unaware that they lost in their backyard 12 foot from a large easement. Coming right off of the property line they have 35 feet and that is to the back property line. Also to the south they have a 17 foot easement, so they have a double whammy in taking quite a big chunk of their backyard. We came up with a design, still trying to build a gunite swimming pool into the backyard by creating a narrow width of 16 feet and pushing the pool to the north; building the pool back all the way to the easement with no concrete on the easement whatsoever. In order to create a width of 16 feet we are 6 feet away from the house but holding to the easement in the back. In doing so we pushed the pool to the north a little bit. There is a door wall to the east/south part of the house; so what we tried to do at the shallow end is to create and push the pool to the north so that when you come directly out of the door wall you are not falling into the pool, there will be patio area there. As you walk around house side around the pool it is not possible to get out of a window and to fall out of the house and into the pool. There is no open areas where anyone can get from the house to the pool other than the door wall. We also created and looked at passage between the house and the pool and we came up with a 6 foot idea so that 2 people could pass through, it is a large enough area where people could sit and walk by and get around the pool. Tony and Beata also own the lot next door so we ended up pushing the pool that way; they would prefer not to put the pool on the side lot, they would prefer to put it behind their house where mom and dad could see everyone swim. We are asking you to look at this....


Tony Gioutsos: There are no windows on that side of the house and the kitchen, family room and such are on the south part of the house so it would be a safety hazard if we put it on the other lot.


Paul Peters: We are asking you to look at this to grant this variance so that we can put a gunite swimming pool in; which I think, would enhance the area and the house and make the family happy and also make the neighbors happy (who are going to swim in it); it is an attractive structure.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 11 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. One written response was received voicing approval. Copy in file.




There was no audience participation.




Donald Saven: You have a second story for this house, I assume?


Paul Peters: Yes.


Donald Saven: You have a decking proposed for that second story?


Beata Gioutsos: It is a story and a half house, there is no exit out.


Donald Saven: That is all I need to know.


Member Brennan inquired of Donald Saven: Is 6 foot sufficient?


Donald Saven: I think that based upon the information that he has provided in testimony and that all of the access and the ability to have 2 people pass and the door that is exiting the house is far enough away from the pool there should be no problem.


Paul Peters: We have also taken pictures, if anyone would like to see the back of the house and where the door wall is located and where the pool will be.


Member Brennan: Your subdivision has a homeowners association?


Beata Gioutsos: No, not yet.


Member Bauer: What is in back of you?


Paul Peters: There will be another house. Right now there is nobody, it hasn’t sold yet.


Member Meyer: You own the property next to you?


Paul Peters: Yes, it is a double lot. The second lot is to skinny to put a house on it. It is really like having a single lot with a little bit of extra space.


Member Meyer: Do you have any neighbors, like the neighbors who were here, who might object?


Paul Peters: So far it is exactly the opposite, everyone wants to go swimming.


Beata Gioutsos: I have a letter from the builder with approval.


Moved by Member Meyer:


Seconded by Member Brennan:




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


Paul Peters: We would also like to request the 5 day waiver. We are ready to go.


Donald Saven: That might be possible, I believe that you have a rejection for your minor land improvement permit, we have to take care of that issue. Let’s check.


Chairman Antosiak: I move that the 5 day waiting period be waived. All in favor, please say aye.


Voice Vote: All yeas.


Case No. 97-071 filed by Intercity Neon, representing Gateway Country Personal Computers


Continuation of case filed by Intercity Neon, representing Gateway Country Personal Computers, requesting a variance to allow a sign 24' x 4'10 1/2" (118 sq. ft.) for property located at 25875 Novi Road in the City Center Plaza.


Ray Schaeffer: We have down scaled the size of the sign from 118 square foot to 65 square foot, which is still 15 square foot than your ordinance allows us to have. We put the banner up and that would be the size of the sign that we are requesting now. We used a clear banner so that the background would show through. All the lettering would be the identical size for the 65 square foot sign that we are requesting. Basically that is about it. We feel that we need that size so that it can be seen from the road and they can have the time to de-accelerate and get into the strip center to do their shopping.


Chairman Antosiak indicated as a reminder from the last meeting 23 Notices were sent and none were returned.




There was no audience participation.




Donald Saven had no comment.


Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: I will state the obvious, it is encouraging to see that you took our suggestion and down scaled the sign. I was also pleased to see and I hoped that you would confirm, and you did, that not all of that square footage is actually signage and some of it is clear so that you can see through and the actual impact is even less than the 64 square foot. Given that you were willing to move as much as you did, I am very please to move as well. Thank you.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think it is very tasteful and it looks good. I think it is a lot more appropriate than a 118 square foot sign would be. Agreeing with Mr. Brennan, I could support the petitioner’s request.


Chairman Antosiak: I would just like to clarify one thing that the petitioner said, he referenced a 15 square foot variance and it is actually a 25 square foot variance; from 40 to 65.


Moved by Vice-Chairman Reinke,

Seconded by Member Brennan,




Discussion on motion:


Member Harrington: For a point of clarification, the document we have refers to a 64 square foot sign as what is up there, I would suggest that the motion be modified to reflect the 64 square feet.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: The applicant said 65, that is why I said that.


Ray Schaeffer: I believe that it is 65 square foot.


Chairman Antosiak: I would ask that you modify your motion, to limit this variance to this petitioner only.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: So approved.


Member Brennan: And so seconded.


Member Meyer: I would like to reaffirm what Mr. Brennan has said, and that is to compliment you on taking our suggestions and trying to modify the sign and yet still fulfill your need to let people see it from the road. I truly appreciate that kind of effort and collaboration on the part of the people with whom we deal. You have my support on this.


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


Case No. 97-077 filed by Robert Noonan, representing Walsh College


Robert Noonan, representing Walsh College, is requesting a variance to allow a ground sign 13'8" x 3' (41 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 3'4", the verbiage is "WALSH COLLEGE - NOVI" "MAIN ENTRANCE>" " DELIVERIES^", for property located at 41500 Gardenbrook.


Robert Noonan, Steven Drexel and Lawrence Morris were present and duly sworn.


Robert Noonan: The purpose of our request is that when you enter our premises, which are what I guess you would call multi use; we want to be able to identify the entrance to the college both for the students, administrators, faculty and the deliveries. As it is now, or would be without a sign, if you pass right by the first entrance you would go into another part of the complex and have to turn around and come back again. Also 90% conservative, we have night time students so we should have some illumination in this sign. The sign is the size that you saw, the letters are internally illuminated within the sign are only 2' x 9' or 18 square feet. That is about all that I think you need to know that you don’t already know.


Chairman Antosiak indicated there was a total of 10 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Donald Saven had no comment.


Alan Amolsch had no comment.


Member Brennan: When I first looked at this, my first reaction was that this is a large parcel of property. You have a long entrance way before you even get to the parking lot and it makes sense to have this sign as you have requested. I have no objection. I only have one really loaded question. Do you have any more signs?


Robert Noonan: For the property? No, none that have not been approved.


Member Brennan: Do you expect to need any more signs?


Robert Noonan: I would say not. No more than what has already been approved. We won’t come back again, if that is what you mean.


Member Meyer: I think that the only comment that I have and I made mentioned of this on other requests for signs, I like clean signs. I noticed that it has Main Entrance, Deliveries; I am wondering if somehow......Walsh College is really what you want to say and all of the rest of it could be at least looked at before you do your final product. I just think that there might be to much on the sign. It is just a thought.


Robert Noonan: inaudible


Member Meyer: You have such a fine institution, I am just thinking that however you do that sign and I am thinking of some that are right at the top of Haggerty Road as you go down past the Novi Hilton, there are just some very precise and neat signs. Walsh College has such an outstanding reputation it would seem to me that you want the sign to speak of the reputation. That is all that I am trying to say. I am just one Board Member and one vote and you do have my support. But what I am saying is I would really see how you do that as far as Deliveries and Main Entrance. The sign itself should be Walsh College.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Chairman Antosiak: I would only ask that Mr. Brennan amend his motion to limit to this petitioner only.




Seconded by Member Bauer.


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


Main Street

Chairman Antosiak indicated we realize that you have 9 variance requests before us this evening. I will ask that Mr. Brennan swear you in on all of them so that we can discuss the sign package in total. We will still vote on the separate variance requests that you have submitted.



Bill Matykowski and Jim Chen were present and duly sworn.



James Chen and I am speaking for the Main Street project. As you can see right now on the Main Street project we are proceeding with all of the building construction. This is the first building after the Vic’s Market was completed. We have done that and the tenants are starting to move in. You can see the first problem that we face is the sign. This building is located within the area which 2 years ago, I believe, that the Main Street project came to this Board requesting the waiver for Vic’s Market and we studied a number of cases of how the building should be situated and how it should be facing, this way or the other way, the parking lot and so forth. At that time this project and this building was looked at as in conjunction with Vic’s Market as one development and one unit there. This is what we call Vic’s Market\Sports Bar Development at the time. It is facing Market Street and on the corner of Grand River. As this building is done here and right now the problem that we are facing is number one the code is stating that for the sign it applies to single story or a one story building only. The Main Street project since day one, our intention was 2 story or multi-story building. So ultimately this building and this entire project was excluded from the sign ordinance here. That is our hardship number one. What it tells us that on this building we only can have one sign and there are no second signs allowed. We have to come to this Board for all of the waivers. All the signs will have to be approved by this Board and that is why we are here tonight. Number two, we will show you the picture that from direction coming either from the east or from the west the building itself is situated so that it is perpendicular to Grand River. So those tenants and I will say all the tenants except the downstairs except those on the corner of Grand River, the people might be able to find out where they are. It is hard to find where they are. They don’t even realize until they are way past the building that is where they are supposed to be. I will show you pictures right now.


James Chen: Showed pictures to the Board and had some narrative. (Not audible.) Hardship is that with such important tenants such as the Micro Brewery, there is no way that you can be seen from the Grand River side. We are requesting for approval so that those tenants may have identification and another sign on the Grand River side.


James Chen: For the building sign, we would like to ask because of the size of the building and consider that it is a 2 story building and the setbacks from Grand River. Because of the size of the building and because of the calculations of the square foot our logo puts it in such a way (logo shown) this is the logo and it is a diamond in the middle and we have to calculate it from the very top to the very bottom; the sign itself is not big at all. But the way that the calculations must be done, from the very top to the very bottom on the rectangular shape that makes it exceeding what is required.


James Chen: So, with all of that here that is why we are here tonight.


Chairman Antosiak: For the record I am going to recite the variance requests and perhaps it might be helpful to the Board that for each request you indicate on the photograph what sign that request refers to.



Case No. 97-082 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street.


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a ground sign 6'5" x 3'6" (22.75 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 5' with the verbiage "MAIN STREET EAST"

to be placed in the parking lot area by the Grand River curb cut.


James Chen: This sign the Main Street East is what I am talking about and is located at this corner.



Case No. 97-083 filed by Greystone Construction representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 16' x 8' (128 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "MAIN STREET EAST", to be placed on the front of the building at 42705 Grand River Avenue.


James Chen: This sign is the building sign and this sign basically is the first development. Actually our entrance includes not only this building but the Vic’s Market for the entire Main Street development.



Case No. 97-084 filed by Greystone Construction representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 4' x 3' (12 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "I.B.C." to be placed on the front of the building at 42705 Grand River Avenue.


Bill Maytkowski: This is close to the ground right adjacent to the main entrance.


James Chen: This is to identify the tenants who are upstairs, office tenants.



Case No. 97-085 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 5' x 4' (20 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "I.B.C." to be placed on the north elevation of the building facing Grand River for property located at 42705 Grand River Avenue.



Case No. 97-086 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 12' x 4'8" (56 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "LOCAL COLOR BREWING COMPANY", to be placed on the front of the building at 42705 Grand River Avenue.



Case No. 97-087 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 2' x 6' (12 sq. ft.) which is a metal cut out logo sign for Local Color Brewing Company to be located at the front the building at 42705 Grand River Avenue.



Case No. 97-088 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 8' x 3'8" (30 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "LOCAL COLOR BREWING COMPANY" to be placed on the north elevation facing Grand River for property located at 42705 Grand River Avenue.



Case No. 97-089 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street

Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 5' x 4' (20 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "ONE WORLD MARKET" to be placed on the north elevation facing Grand River for property located at 42705 Grand River Avenue.



Case No. 97-090 filed by Greystone Construction, representing Main Street


Greystone Construction, representing Main Street, is requesting a variance to allow a wall sign 21'6" x 2'6" (53 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "LAS VEGAS GOLF & TENNIS", located on the front of the building at 42705 Grand River Avenue.


Bill Matykowski: There is one more for One World Market that we did not get in here for the variance request.


Chairman Antosiak: We cannot respond to that specific request tonight.


Chairman Antosiak indicated for all of these requests there was a total of 26 Notice each send to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.




There was no audience participation.




Alan Amolsch: Mr. Chen just briefly touched on the issue here. The issue for the Board to consider here is the fact that it is a 2 story building which is not dealt with in our ordinance. This is a multi tenant building and we only deal with one story buildings which are allowed each their own wall signs based upon the lineal frontage of the business. In our ordinance, if it is not permitted it is prohibited.

Chairman Antosiak: I would know that Local Color and One World Market are retail businesses, what type of business is I.B.C.?


Bill Matykowski: I.B.C. is International Business Centers, they are leasing the second floor and what they do is to sub-lease to smaller companies. Let’s say that somebody wants an office for a month, they come in and they provide them secretarial services, fax machine, copy machine, lunch room and anything on that order. So there will be different companies in and out of there. Right now I think that they have about half of it sub-leased.


Member Brennan: A very general question. If the ordinance does not address 2 story commercial dwellings or retail; are we writing an ordinance policy by making or giving any variance request to this? Shouldn’t we be asking those that write ordinance to draft an ordinance dealing with this?

Donald Saven: I think that is a very good question with what you are looking at right now. Although the reason why the gentleman is here right now is because that business is not addressed in the ordinance and that which is not expressly permitted is prohibited.


Member Brennan: But on the other hand this is just the first of many such like dwellings that will be built.


Donald Saven: I have to indicate that what you are dealing with right now is strictly for this building. This situation is going to happen down the line. I believe that will be in the 200 & 300 building, 4, 5, and possibly 6 for the Main Street Buildings.


James Chen: The building now under construction is called the Main Street Court. This is the building that is facing Novi Road. Also we have the building 200-300 which is right on Market Street and the Main Street which you can see they are doing the underground foundations right now. Those buildings will come in between the next 6 to 8 months. As a matter of fact, Main Street Court is next February or March which is the date we are supposed to turn over to the tenants for the improvements.


Chairman Antosiak inquired of Donald Saven: Presuming that an ordinance would be drafted or a current ordinance revised to address this issue of a 2 story building, what in your best guess is the timetable in which that could occur?


Donald Saven: You would probably not see anything for quite a long time. I think this is an issue that would be very debatable.


Chairman Antosiak: Mr. Chen’s particular problem is that this building is up and the tenants are ready to go. Is that correct?


James Chen: That is correct.


Member Harrington: Our particular problem is that this problem is not unique to this particular structure but we can see that it has strong implications for the rest of the development of the project and perhaps maybe even for future projects throughout the City. Don, my question to you; as a Board what resources within the City or outside of the City do we as a Board have access to in terms of getting some guidance as to the architectural or similarity or dis-similarity with other buildings or structures within the City. I am aware that this is 2 story and the Town Center is one story but I haven’t physically gone through, in my own mind, and compared how this fits with other areas of the City whether they are 2 story or one story and because of the number of variances here and because of it’s impact on other buildings and future development; I really want some guidance. I don’t know if it is Brandon, I don’t know if it is Planning or I don’t know if it is someone who is specially hired to give us some guidance. But, I would want that before I start going piece meal through here and say "Gee guys, that looks great" or "I have some real concerns" but maybe that is what they really need. I don’t know. I think that this is an issue because of the scope of the signage that is requested. I, as a Board Member, feel that I want some advice from someone other than jut the petitioner or the client saying that this is what we have got to have. What we do here on this package is going to impact on this City for years.


Donald Saven: I do understand what you are saying, but we have no resources available in this community to relate to; other than the fact that we do have retail businesses and we do have the Town Center. It addresses the single story issue only with the resources that we have. If we go outside of the community but I don’t think that is what we really want to do. I think the City is very strict about their ordinances and how to deal with them as far as the signs are concerned. I think it should be an in house decision. It might be very difficult to arrive at that in house decision, but he is looking at taking the occupancy of the building. I really don’t mean to put everything on us but it is a situation that is a part of the ordinance that it is not permitted right now and that is what we are addressing.


Member Harrington: What I am trying to communicate is that I am not talking about when, if and when, or ever ordinance review gets done with it; I am talking about someone maybe not Brandon, but like Brandon or someone who can take a look and give me feedback in terms of what they perceive the overall impact of this proposed package to be on future buildings on this site or perhaps other future developments because what we are going to do here is that we are in the position of re-writing the ordinance with respect of 2 story buildings and I want to know what the implications are. I don’t just want to drive by that building like I did 5 times and get a gut level that I like this part, I don’t like this part; OK we have 9 variances so let’s play "Let’s Make a Deal" again. I want some intelligent recommendations from someone that I can act on because I am not an expert on that.


James Chen: May I say something here. Actually 2 things. Number one, give it a waiver applied not only to single story apply it to multiple stories; then the current zoning which is amended 2 years ago for TC-1 zoning that would apply pretty good to this development. Number two, just looking at the fact that Main Street East sign due to our logo and the diamond shape is exceeding the square foot calculation requirement; those two I can get approval from this Board and then everything will fall into place. What I am saying is this; if the TC-1 the current signage zoning ordinance applied to two stories automatically the setback kicks in. Just like at Vic’s Market, they kick in and everything will apply. Then we will meet all of the requirements. The only thing that we don’t meet is the Main Street East building sign. Now I would ask the waiver and ask your approval number one to apply to two story buildings and number two to give me the waiver for the building identification of Main Street East. Nothing else.


Alan Amolsch: You will have to give a variance for each and every sign.


James Chen: For every single sign? If we can apply to 2 stories building if that would apply we would still have to come for every single sign?


Alan Amolsch: Yes.


James Chen: Could you share your reasons? Why this zoning for signage can apply for a 2 story building; why those signs do not apply?


Alan Amolsch: Because the ordinance does not allow them. If it was a single story building you wouldn’t be here except for the square footage issue. The issue here for the Board to consider is the fact that it is a 2 story building with multiple signs on it. I will tell you the history of why that is in the ordinance is because some years ago we had our sign ordinance and we recognized that there was a fatal flaw in our sign ordinance with regard to multiple tenant and 2 story or 3 story buildings where you could have say a building the office building in front of the mall that has approximately 30 businesses in it, by our old ordinance every business in that building that is separately owned and operated would be allowed to have it’s own wall sign of 24 square feet. You can imagine what kind of hodge podge that would have been on a building. The City Council decided that we should have an ordinance that dealt with one story buildings only with lineal frontage limitations as regard to the size of the sign. Unfortunately it left the rest of them up to you.


Member Brennan: Is it an option to ask the City Council to consider this? We are being asked to grant variances to an ordinance that doesn’t apply, right?


Chairman Antosiak: No, the ordinance applies. It applies to allow them one sign.


Alan Amolsch: The ordinance allows one sign per building or one ground sign. That is all that it allows.


Member Bauer: But on the 2 story it is prohibited.


Alan Amolsch: They can put all the names of the businesses within a 40 square foot sign on the wall, or they could put all the names of the businesses on a 30 square foot ground sign in front of the building. Above and beyond that it is a variance.


Member Meyer: If we were to grant all of those tonight we would literally be setting a precedence.

James Chen: Just for this project.


Chairman Antosiak: That is subject to debate, as to whether our variances set precedent or not.


Member Meyer: I am saying that in light of the fact that it is a 2 story building and we are being asked for 7 different requests here.

James Chen: But, everything that we requested tonight and there is more coming next month, this all applies to the Main Street project. So you can look at it just like we approached this Board here for the Main Street project. You can give your approval for the Main Street project only. Due to the fact that this is the intent to create a down town.


Chairman Antosiak: Actually if we were to grant a variance it would be more limited than that, it would be to this building only and to the request that is before us tonight. It would not be to Main Street.


James Chen: Then in the next few months you will see up to 80 or 90 cases and I really would like to see you find a way to help out and the developer also with the business because each one is $100.00 application fee and that is not the point, the point is it is time consuming and also with all of the businesses you have to go through the frustration of coming here.


Chairman Antosiak: I understand, but the problem that we have is that we do not have an ordinance that addresses the issues that you are raising and the only mechanism that exists in that scenario is for you to make a zoning variance request to us and have us to decide that issue. If the Council were willing to pass an ordinance in the next month or two it might resolve our issues; but right now I don’t anticipate that is going to happen and I don’t even think from a timing perspective that it can happen under our charter. So we are faced with the situation of having to look at each one of these as a separate variance request. Were we to establish a variance for Main Street, then I think that we would be doing exactly what Mr. Harrington and Mr. Brennan have alluded to and that is basically re-writing the ordinance and that is not what we are here to do nor can we do. So despite some of the concerns that I share with Mr. Harrington I think that we have an obligation to hear these requests and to decide on them regardless of how confident we feel in our ability to do so.


Member Meyer: What I am concerned about though is the fact that Mr. Chen has indicated to us that he is going to come back in the next few months with 80 more requests.....


Member Harrington: Or 90 or more.


Member Meyer: I am trying to show all kinds of understanding here, but I am wondering if you heard what Alan has said; namely that basically all that we could approve is one sign that would indicate who the tenants are of that building, or look at each one of these requests. The picture that I have, and perhaps you can correct this for me; if we were to approve all 87 or 90 we are approving 87 or 90 signs for Main Street. Would that be correct? Did I hear you correctly on that?


James Chen: What I am saying is that if you approve just for the project basis because the Main Street project will be developed under the same kind of concept, same kind of intention, which means down stairs is all retail, restaurant and some other office business and the whole upstairs is going to be mixed of many - the office use and very limited retail use. So, with that kind of mixture here and with a lot of the square footage about 3000 or 2000 square feet and then with the total entire complex it is close to about 500,000 square feet; now you can imagine how many applications might come to this Board potentially. So, what I am saying is that we are not building all of the buildings at one time, don’t get me wrong; so every building when we near the completion we will come forward to this Board to request for the variance. If that is the intention of this Board, then we just have to deal with it. In the mean time maybe we just could make a request to ....... Last night as a matter of fact, at the Council Meeting I already stood here near to midnight; I presented this problem to the Council. I did my best, but I am just saying that we as the City of Novi we welcome all the business that comes to this community here and with the major investment here and I am just hoping that we could show a little bit more a warm welcome.


Member Meyer: I really do hear what you are saying, in other words it was unfortunate that you were here until midnight last night and then you are here tonight. The other side is that Novi has sought through these ordinances to avoid having a "sign city" a city where you drive in and all you see are these signs all over the place. I can’t help but believe that you appreciate where we are coming from with that. So, our concern is to strike this balance between welcoming good people like you into the community to do business here and also making sure that somehow whatever signage is used to identify the business it is done in a very tasteful and a very limited way. That is why one sign is part of what the variance is all about because otherwise you have this plethora of signs and quite frankly it is like trophies if you give out to many trophies they all lose their significance. Our hope is that as we go down this process and we won’t have you here until midnight tonight that we will be looking at this from the view point of meeting your need and truly being welcoming and yet on the other hand abiding by ordinances to avoid sign city.


Chairman Antosiak: I think that it is important for you to know that this is not a decision that I am saying that we are making to do things this way. The method that I described before is laid out by our ordinance and by the statutes that govern what we do. We cannot, I don’t believe, legitimately take 80 or 90 variances as a package and say we are approving or disapproving your sign package for Main Street, because in my personal opinion that would be re-writing the zoning ordinance which we can’t do. We have a zoning ordinance that has specific sign requirements as Mr. Meyer has described and the method for appealing from those requirements is to file a variance request. Believe me, I am the last person who wants to sit here knowing that over the next year we are going to see you before us with 90 or 100 zoning variance requests for signs. That is really not a good use of our time either. But, that is the ordinance that we have and unfortunately that is the one that we must deal with. I am open to suggestions as to how we proceed here this evening.


Member Brennan: I still have a problem with dealing with variances to ordinances that we don’t have and in particular this particular project. This is the new down town Novi and it is this Board’s place to listen to variance requests but not to write ordinances. If we were to look at this tonight and debate it and switch and barter; I think it is a mistake. It is not our position to set policy for what is going to be the down town of Novi in the next 20 years. I would make a recommendation that we get some guidance from Mr. Fried.


Member Meyer: I appreciate where Mr. Brennan is coming from and I realize that this gentleman has occupancy coming up very soon for at least some of these buildings, is that correct? I would hope that we could come to some compromise tonight because I truly agree with Mr. Brennan as to how we can make a variance on an ordinance that doesn’t exist. It just doesn’t logically follow.


Member Brennan: He has mock-ups that could serve for the next 30 days.


Chairman Antosiak: I disagree that an ordinance doesn’t exist because an ordinance does exist and that is why Mr. Chen is here.


Member Brennan: But is doesn’t pertain to 2 story buildings.


Chairman Antosiak: Novi does have a sign ordinance.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: They can have a building sign or they can have ground sign.


Chairman Antosiak: We have dealt with other issues around that sign ordinance that really weren’t covered in the ordinance as it is written also.


Member Brennan: Reality is that one sign does not take care of all of his needs.


Member Harrington: We have approved variances involving multi story buildings for a long time and none of which involved individual signage for office on the second floor and retail on the first floor. This is way beyond anything that we have done. The other overview or preliminary comment that I have is that we have been handed a plate chock full of 9 different variances sort of implicit in this is that "we need it" and behind that is "we are in a hurry". One of the comments that Alan made I think was quite striking which is that they are permitted legitimately signage under the ordinance. If we are going to do a compare and contrast I would like to see a mock up out there of what they are permitted under the ordinance. I would like to have a gut and visceral feeling that what they are permitted under the ordinance simply won’t work for them before I consider a package of 9 separate signs; but that is just my observation.


Member Harrington: This is kind of a unique situation and we are looking at possibly 80 to 90 in the future; I don’t feel comfortable at all tonight going through these one by one because we are going to see 5 more buildings or buildings on the other side and I would like to be firmly convinced in the first instance that there is a hardship presented by the construction that existing signage won’t fix. I would like to see a mock up of what is permitted and then take another look at those 9 signs that are out there.


Chairman Antosiak: I guess I would have to disagree with you on that, Mr. Harrington. The reason being I can envision what a sign with 3 tenant names will look like, either as a ground sign or a wall sign. I don’t think, in my own mind, that such a sign will help people find those tenants in the building. I don’t see how that could happen. Alan, what is the square footage again?


Alan Amolsch: It is 40 square feet on the wall sign and 30 square feet on the ground sign. The ground sign standing on it’s own, would meet ordinance and not need a variance if no other signs were proposed.


James Chen: The One World Market sign will exceed the requirements.


Alan Amolsch: I think that he hit the nail on the head when he was speaking to other tenants going into the building that possibly would take up second floor offices and probably want signs somewhere in the future. Where do you draw the line, where is the control at? That is why we had that ordinance amended so that we wouldn’t have that problem. Unfortunately it doesn’t deal with it at all and it leaves it up to the Board to decide. If you think of a couple other buildings around town; the Maxim Building is a 2 story office building, there is one in front of the mall with 20 or 30 tenants in it; they are not retail still in all an account or a lawyer or anybody would want their sign on the building and you can imagine what that building would look like with 20 or 30 signs on it. You can’t write everything into a sign ordinance. When you look at a second story how are you going to determine where the sign is going to be located on the building. How are you going to determine what the square footage is when they don’t have lineal frontage? How big of a sign are you going to allow a tenant that has an interior office space in a building? Those are the types of things that we looked at when the ordinance was amended years ago.


Member Brennan: Well, I am willing to put it off or to listen to it all. I am ready to debate it all. That is one of the reasons that I asked for the mock ups. I think that we can discuss the signs as presented. Whether 2 signs are needed. Whether signs are needed on both sides of the building. The size of the signs? And I get the gist that we are being cornered into moving on this because there is no other avenue in the City to address it. So it is on our plate to hash out.


Chairman Antosiak: Is that the general feeling of the Board, to proceed?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I don’t think that we have much of an alternative. If we are going to put it off, what are we going to put it off to. We really have no group to dump it in their to give us guidance and direction. The unfortunate situation is that we are going to have to look at each building that goes up in this development as a building per building basis and try to maintain some flow and some cohesiveness to accomplish what is required and yet having it look tasteful and not over powering for the whole project. I don’t see any other avenue that is open to us.


Member Brennan: Maybe we can set some basic ground rules, being as we are writing ordinance tonight.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: We are not writing ordinance tonight.


Member Brennan: We have to come to an agreement. I principle I guess it is safe to say that everyone of these businesses fronting this Main Street has grounds for signage; if we give that as a basic known and go from there. What troubled me when I looked at the mock ups and all of the various sign types was that it was a real cluster of signage types. Different sizes, shapes, schemes of signage and what troubled me was that there was no consistency. I didn’t like it. Perhaps we can go case by case, but I would like to get to the point where we are looking for something that is consistent through this 8 or 9 case dwelling that would be applicable to the other 3 or 4 buildings that are coming down stream so that we have some consistency that we can work with. I don’t like the idea of 2 signs for a particular business, personally. I don’t like some of the sizes of the signs. But if we have to go through them all, let’s start.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: In throwing out a comment that I will have to start out with, the understanding is that Mr. Brennan has alluded to and that is each business needs to be identified and given direction. The logo part I really don’t think is warranted and if there is going to be a ground sign identifying the project I have a real problem with the 3 additional business signs on the north end of the building. That is my general comment to start with.


Member Brennan: I agree, the ground sign that is requested in "082" is the one that would be most prevalent on the Grand River side which negates any requirements for people finding this complex. I don’t know why we would need additional signage on the north side of the building facing the Town Center. Does that summarize your thoughts?


Vice-Chairman Reinke: Correct.


Member Brennan: So is that is the case we have eliminated 3 out of the 9.


Member Harrington: Assuming that you have 2 more votes on that, and you do have mine which makes 3. So perhaps what we should do is to whack these guys off one at a time and find out what we are left with.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I think that we need to make a kind of general consensus over all the signs before we start whacking this one and that one off.


Member Harrington: I feel perfectly comfortable voting on the north side signs right now.


Chairman Antosiak: We have been discussing the 9 in a group, please feel free to move as to what would make sense.

Vice-Chairman Reinke: I would like to ask the petitioner a question first. Are these all going to be individual letter signs?


James Chen: Yes, they all represent different businesses.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: What I meant is are they going to be individual box letter? It makes it look very overwhelming with the size of some of the mock ups, looking at Main Street up there; if you look at the full volume of it versus what you have on the building here itself. I just wanted to know if they were going to be individual letters so they are not quite as intrusive as the mock ups look to be.


James Chen: I think that you say the mock up or the temporary sign that we hung on the building.....


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I understand with Main Street, but I am looking at Las Vegas Golf, is that going to be individual letters or a panel sign, or?


Bill Matykowski: Individual letters.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: So the actual architecture of the building will be shown through the letters themselves.


James Chen: Exactly.


Bill Matykowski: On the Main Street East sign at the top of the building that we have up there, the outline of the total board is how the square footage has been calculated.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: I understand that. My question was are the signs going to be panels or individual letter signs?


James Chen: Both actually.


Member Brennan: Potentially from different sign makers.


Bill Matykowski: The One World Market is all individual letters.


Vice-Chairman Reinke: That part I don’t have a problem with, but what I am looking at here is mainly Las Vegas Golf and it looks like it will be a panel representation. That is why I brought that question up.


Bill Matykowski: That would be the logo and then golf and tennis would be individual letters.


James Chen: At this point in time I think in time that the micro brewery, The Local Color business owner is with us here and maybe I shouldn’t speak on his behalf, so I would like to ask your permission to let him speak for his own business.


Chairman Antosiak: He has something to add that has not been discussed?


James Chen: Yes.


Peter Paisley: I am the president and the owner of Local Color. When we looked at the Novi area and the Novi project we really wanted and we came from the Royal Oak area and we really wanted to be involved in a down town area. Novi at the time didn’t have that. When we looked at this facility and the facades of the facility it was all designed to be broken up into different looking facilities so it would look like a Main Street project. Like building 100 of the sports complex or the micro brewery building that you hear that it is broken down into. I feel that the building has done a great job in doing that, it looks like different facilities and it does not look like a typical one building. We take up approximately one third of the building to the south. When you drive by from the east you cannot see our facility at all. You do not know that it exists even with the small signs that we have proposed for the front end of the building on the north side, you really cannot see that it is even there until you are passed it. You can get an idea. If you are all the way down at Market Street, you can’t see it is there; you can’t see it in your mirrors at all. There is a real problem with that and a lot of people have spoken up. When we tell contractors to come out and they come from the east they cannot see it. That is why when we came up with this we spoke at great lengths to figure out a solution for this because a lot of businesses and the way that building is all most turned in and it is not perpendicular but you cannot see any of the signs coming from the east at all. There is no way of people knowing; Vic’s for instance you can see as you drive by because of the setback. The way that we are setback with our one sign, if we were granted one sign on the face of the building, you still wouldn’t see it. We feel that the north end lends it self to helping us as far as becoming a successful business in your town. We would like your consideration on that. I know and I understand the dilemma that everyone is in and we would appreciate it.


Member Brennan: With respect to this whole complex, this is being marketed by the City as the new down town district. This is the Main Street. I think that anybody who is associated with Main Street will have more visibility by that name and being the new down town Novi. I drove by that many times heading east and you are right that the building does sit at a cocked angle. I don’t know that signage on the north side would give you any great advantage unless you would be right smack in front of it. If you have the large Main Street ground sign out in front, there is the recognition. We had discussed just a couple minutes ago trying to address some of these cases and I have a draft of a motion based on some of the input from other Board Members.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Vice-Chairman Reinke,




Discussion on motion:


Member Harrington: Is there a reason for approving the sign? Hardship? Unique configuration? Traffic conditions?


Member Brennan: For the purpose of identifying the complex.


Chairman Antosiak: This is only for the ground sign "Main Street East", parking lot near the Grand River curb cut.


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


Chairman Antosiak: The variance request for case no. 97-082 has been approved.


Councilman Robert Schmid: I don’t know what you are doing, I was sitting home and watching this and I am absolutely astounded as to what is going on here. It is not your fault. I am speaking on behalf of Bob Schmid and not the City Council. I had a lot to do with the sign ordinance back in ‘75 and ‘80 and so forth; this was discussed last night and Mr. Chen is in an unfortunate situation. I can’t believe, Mr. Saven, that there isn’t something in this ordinance that there is somewhere to start and then to get your waivers from. We don’t have any sign ordinance in this City that deals with commercial buildings?


Donald Saven: We have ordinances that deal with commercial buildings. In certain areas and certain districts there are parameters that we deal with.


Bob Schmid: Then don’t we have to start somewhere and what should have happened and what didn’t happen is that the Planning Department or this City should have had this far in advance that this ordinance should have been brought forward. I can’t understand and it was discussed last night that it wasn’t brought forward. I talked to Mr. Wahl today and he said that he was still going to check it out and see where it was because this whole topic was discussed at our Town Center Steering Committee and I think that there was a general agreement of what the ordinance was. Now I have empathy for this Board that they have to make these decisions. They are going to be determining the sign ordinance for the Town Center/Main Street District this evening with no input and very little information and no expertise, other than Mr. Chen’s people. I don’t know what the answer is but you are put in an impossible situation, other than you just pass a partial of the sign ordinance and then you may have to go on and pass the rest of them. I don’t know. After I looked at the fiasco that we had Eight Mile and Haggerty because of what appears to be less attention to what is going on, and now I am sitting at home seeing that you have sign ordinance and you have all of these variances and you have no ordinance. I can’t believe that the Planning Department of this City has allowed this to go forward. I can’t believe that you are not starting at least somewhere, and where he has to prove a hardship. If we don’t have an ordinance then we have to start with the ordinances that we do have, I would think. I don’t think that you can ask this Board to create an ordinance this evening. What happens here is going to happen....and then how are you then going to protect the rest of the buildings. This is a project that this City is supposed to be proud of and we have spent a lot of money and Mr. Chen has spent a lot more money than I am sure that he would have wanted to spend and the developers or the people coming into the stores are spending more money than they want to spend and we are sitting here and don’t know what we are going. Was this talked about today, Mr. Saven? And I hate to put you on the spot.


Donald Saven: Believe me, this whole project and the development of the signs is one that has been very sensitive throughout the last couple of weeks. Mr. Chen and I have sat down on this particular issue about a month ago and talked about where we were and where we were going and what needed to be done. Yes, he was coming close to occupancy. The issue was and based upon what we have in the ordinance he is only allowed one sign for that building. Only one sign.


Bob Schmid: Which is ludicrous.


Donald Saven: Where do we go from here. I believe that it is to late to start any type of ordinance amendments.


Bob Schmid: So what are we going to do, build the ordinance here tonight? Perhaps it is not your fault and certainly it is not the Board’s and I am probably way out of line; but I am speaking as a citizen and not as a councilman. I can’t understand how this City as far along as it is gets into these situations. It seems to me that 2 weeks ago somebody would have been beating somebody over the head saying that "we have go to get something done", and maybe you were.


Bob Schmid: Mr. Chairman, I don’t know what the answer is; I am very concerned that if you sit here this evening and create an ordinance that we are going to be stuck with this ordinance and that doesn’t mean that you will have bad judgements. You don’t have much of a basis. It is 10 o’clock at night and you don’t have anybody here to talk to you about some of the expertise of these things with sizes and so on; other than the petitioner. I am not blaming the petitioner because Mr. Chen has done wonders for the City and I appreciate that and I think that everybody appreciates that, but he is put in a difficult position. I don’t know what the timing is, when do these places open?


James Chen: One place is already open for 2 weeks. The others will be in 2 to 4 weeks.


Bob Schmid: I don’t know what I can do, but I can assure you that you are going to have to do something obviously. The City is going to have to move on this, like over night. It has to go before Council. I would hope and I really don’t know what the answer is but I would hope that you would give minimal variances this evening with the hope that Council can get their act together and the Planning Department can get its’ act together to create an ordinance. We have the buildings and we don’t have an ordinance. If that isn’t crazy I don’t know what is.


Chairman Antosiak: Well to agree or to disagree, I am just glad that someone showed up to at least offer an opinion. Someone who has been involved in this.


Member Bauer: I think that we are trying to work this out. They have people that are in already.


Bob Schmid: I know, and you are trying to work it out.


Chairman Antosiak: Here is the problem as I see it. Mr. Chen has submitted 9 variance requests. I don’t agree that this is the best way to do this. But because he has submitted the variance requests and the City has the ordinance to only allow one sign which was the source of his request, we unless Mr. Chen asks us to table the requests, we have to vote upon them. Like I said before, regardless of how confident we are in our ability to make the right decision and I for one am not attempting to re-write the ordinance. I do feel that we have an obligation to Mr. Chen.


Bob Schmid: What bothers me, and I do agree with you, but what bothers me is that with some very specific ideas of the signs in this particular development and apparently it never got to the 2 story buildings.


Mr. Chen: Two years ago when we started, we probably overlooked this or something. As far as the building applying to the sign ordinance in terms of how many signs are allowed and what type of sign they only apply to single story building and not 2 story buildings.


Bob Schmid: Wouldn’t you start with what you do have on commercial? Even though it is not the greatest perhaps and then go from there and then the hardship variance would have to be allowed from there. This evening, you are starting from nowhere.


Member Meyer: Your point is well taken, it seems like an ordinance needs to be written for a 2 story.


Bob Schmid: Definitely, it does.


Member Bauer: Unfortunately, it won’t be done by the time he needs it.


Member Meyer: It puts Mr. Chen in a very precarious position.


Bob Schmid: You do have to act tonight. I would just hope that you act prudently. If you don’t have to give some of the signs, because some of these places are not going to open up soon. I don’t know how fast the Planning Department can move on this, but I would guess that they are going to move pretty fast. At least I would hope.


Bob Schmid: Anyway, my frustration is over and I thank you for your time.


Member Harrington: I would like to revisit the comment that I made initially and that was that I felt that we needed more input and it is nice to know that someone else agrees with me that we need more input. I wasn’t sure at the beginning when this matter was brought up whether that input should come from Planning or from Brandon or as Frank suggested Dave Fried or from somebody. Apparently there is one Member of Council who is also a citizen who would like to give us input and I am unaware of any emergency that would require us to stampede through these variances this evening. I didn’t feel comfortable then, although I was ready because if you have to vote you have to do your duty and vote. I see no hardship imposed by tabling this matter for 30 days pending input from whoever should be giving us input and maybe there is none and we have to make the call next month or the alternative of a special meeting because of the significance of this project on a 2 week slippage or 3 weeks; but I don’t understand why I have to do this when I don’t feel comfortable and if there are 3 or 4 other Members who feel the same way. I think that we ought to afford ourselves whatever information is available before we make this decision. I felt it then and I feel it even stronger now that Bob has given us input, although he hasn’t exactly told us where that input is supposed to come from. These are significant issues and we are going to look at 80 or 90 of these variances in the future and I think we need input if there is input available. If there is simply no input that we can receive from anybody in this City about what we ought to be doing here, then let’s make the call and we will rule on all 90 of them as they come before us. That is my thought.


Member Brennan: Let’s throw something out for Mr. Chen. Could you get by for 30 days with the mock up signs that you have? Would that take care of your business needs or your clients for a month?


James Chen: We have one tenant and they have been open for business and they have been using the temporary sign, they put a sign on the window, they tried to hang a sign and they ran out. They are under the Building Department’s mercy. Then there is the upstairs tenants, they start moving last week and they will be full occupied by the end of this week.


Member Brennan: What I am looking for is trying to find some happy medium here. If you gave us 30 days to figure things out on the City side, would the temporary signage that you have up satisfy your requirements for the next month? You have signs for all of the businesses, some are open and some are going to be open, they are not a permanent sign but they are identification signs. I don’t think the brewery is open yet, but you would probably like the signage up for another 30 days. That wouldn’t hurt you, would it?

Peter Paisley: Actually I would rather not have a sign that I am not going to have so that people don’t get used to it, for myself only.


Member Meyer: How is that going to impact you, Mr. Chen, if we postpone this for 30 days?


James Chen: If you postpone for 30 days, I can see that as long as One World Market sign and regardless of what happens right now this building allows for one sign. That one sign for One World Market uses it, so if this Board can approve that one sign which is exceeding 40 square feet without considering the setback and so forth; in the future once the correct 2 story building will be included that will be qualifying and OK. So, get there sign up and then IBC the 2 signs up, I can live for one month.


Chairman Antosiak: That request was not before us this evening, so we cannot vote upon that request.


Member Meyer: We have approved the ground sign and he is asking for one other sign.


Chairman Antosiak: But he is asking for a sign that is not before us.


Member Brennan: We had a motion and a second, but we did not approve the ground sign, we did not vote.


Chairman Antosiak: Yes, we did approve it.


Chairman Antosiak: If I understand the ordinance properly, and please Mr. Saven correct me if I am wrong. We have approved a variance of the ground sign and Mr. Chen could put another sign on the building which he would otherwise be entitled to, if it was in compliance with the ordinance. Because we did approve the one sign.


Member Meyer: He is asking for the wall sign and that was one of the ones that we have here tonight.


Chairman Antosiak: No. He was asking for the one that was not in our package. I would support a motion to table.


Moved by Member Brennan,


Seconded by Member Bauer,




Member Meyer: I want to say that I am going to vote against this simply because I think that we are putting this gentleman, Mr. Chen, and the other individuals involved in a very precarious position for 30 days. Therefore I am very concerned about the fact that it is a postponement that is needed perhaps but it is also most unfortunate with occupancy taking place within the next 2 weeks to a month.


Alan Korby: I just got done with my son’s soccer game. We are opening LasVegas Golf and Tennis. Did I hear that you want to table for 30 days for signage? We are planning on opening in 30 days. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to make a sign. I agree with Mr. Meyer, this would definitely be a hardship in my case.


Member Brennan: You have a rendering that is up right now and that won’t take care of it for 30 days?


Alan Korby: Not a black and white rendering. We are the one investing money. I have 6 to 7 hundred thousand dollars into this store and all I want is a frontage sign. I think that the sign was designed in good taste. I think the brewery also. I also live in Novi. I have lived in Novi. I agree with the Councilman that was in earlier, this stuff should have all been taken care of a long time ago and not at the last minute. I am sorry I am out of breath but I ran through the parking lot. I got home and caught bits and pieces of it and thought I should come here and speak a few words. But, we are investing a lot of money. I am moving a business from Livonia to Novi and not to put a sign up on your business is ridiculous.


Member Harrington: Let me give you my reaction and also to Mr. Meyer. This is the first time that these signs have been brought before us and we have met each and every month for decades. So we haven’t adjourned anything, we haven’t postponed anything, we haven’t tabled anything other than what is brought before us tonight for the very first time. Had you been here for the entire meeting on this issue you would understand that there are significant concerns here over and above individual tenants which we are very sensitive to and that Mr. Meyer is sensitive to; but we are dealing with potentially 80 or 90 variances which are going to be throughout this project and I think that it is prudent for this Board if there is additional input that is out there and before we rule on these which are going to set the blue print for this entire project. If there is other input to be submitted to this Board in terms of where we ought to be headed and what is in the best interest of this community, etc. that is the responsible course to take and there may be an isolated hardship for 30 days or 2 weeks which we can relate to; but had this been brought to our attention 6 months ago we wouldn’t have that problem. It is prudent to put this over 30 days and I support the motion to table.


Alan Korby: As you create a business and you get approval for build outs and everything, this stuff should have been discussed when build outs need approval. Again, all these businesses are building their businesses to open at specific times and then we plan a grand opening date and now I hear that I can’t put a sign out. I mean, this stuff should have been taken care of as the building was going up, during construction of the building and not after we are moving in and I have signed a lease.


Member Brennan: That has been the jist of our problem for the last hour.


Alan Korby: I understand the situation, but I think that tabling this for 30 days is kind of excessive myself. I just went to the sign company today and it is 4 to 6 weeks to get a sign. I am opening in 4 weeks, so I am pushing that.


Member Harrington: You have already ordered a sign that we haven’t approved a variance for?


Alan Korby: I went to get a price on a sign.


Member Harrington: I am sorry, I thought that you had ordered the sign.


Alan Korby: No only to see how long it would take and how much it would cost. I was told that this was kind of going through the motions that....


Member Harrington: Like a rubber stamp?


Alan Korby: Exactly, that was my impression. Well anyway, that is my input on the matter.


Chairman Antosiak: We have a motion to table the cases 97-083 through 97-090 until the next meeting which is November 6, 1997. It is possible that there could be a special meeting convened in the interim should it be warranted, but I would hope that it is not.


Donald Saven: It would appear that based upon the information that you are requesting it may take all of the 30 days and then some to put it all together.


Member Brennan: For my own clarity and we can vote on the motion, but where does this go tomorrow morning?


Donald Saven: Based upon the information that you have requested, the information from the Planning Department, City Council, Mr. Rogers office, the attorneys and with the rest of the issues altogether to bring it back before the Board with their consensus of what direction and where they were looking at for this particular project.


Bob Schmid: I hate to interrupt again; but possibly an ordinance could be passed and I know that it takes time and Council would have to react differently but it may never have to come back here if they could do it in 2 weeks and satisfy everybody. It may not be a ZBA issue. I am not suggesting it may be faster than 30 days, but it may never have to come back here or then it may have to come back here obviously. The difficulty that I am having with this whole thing I know what the Planning Department will do and I think that they will get their act together pretty quick.


Chairman Antosiak: We may find out, they are right here.


James Wahl: Thank you for the opportunity to come before you this evening. I just happened to be catching the end of the conversation on television so I didn’t get the whole parameter of it but Don Saven and I have talked about this particular problem the last few days and we are aware of the situation and as far as taking any action in terms of the ordinance based upon this evenings meeting and a clearer assignment to move forward, there is no reason why we can’t get going on something immediately and I think that this conversation is really helpful because I think that now we have all of the involved parties and that was part of the problem here. You have legal issues, you have the Building Department, you have sign regulations and administrations and you have your role in the process, then you have the Town Center Steering Committee, the City Council, the Planning Commission; you have a lot of people involved in this. Frankly, we are not sign experts and that is kind of after the site plan process. So not to sound like I am passing the buck, but we were not aware of this particular situation with the multi-story buildings until very recently. Having said that, I see no reason why we can’t move fairly quickly presuming that we can get Don together with the City Attorney and perhaps go back to the Steering Committee; we have done some work on sign ordinance issues. The committee is somewhat familiar from working with Mr. Chen regarding the unique design of this particular project and some of the particular and unusual situations. Although we were not aware of the 2 story impact on the sign regulation. We can call that committee and it doesn’t meet on a designated schedule and Councilman Schmid is on the committee; I am on the committee and I don’t see why we can’t have a meeting very quickly presuming that all of the administrative and staffing consultants recognize that this is now a priority. I can’t say how long it will take, I can only ask that if it would appropriate and perhaps Don can give me a feel with his familiarity with the sign ordinance as to whether we are looking at some amendments to what is already in place to facilitate this particular kind of project or whether we really have to go back and revisit the entire sign ordinance as it relates to all kind of commercial building. Whatever we do on this might be having impacts that we don’t recognize as looking at the Main Street project.


Donald Saven: I think that is a concern that we have had as a whole referencing multi-story buildings and multi-tenant buildings. We are talking about a use now and I think that use has to be addressed. Whether it is the particular case here or any other case, that is for the Steering Committee and City Council should look at. Finding out from them what is acceptable.


James Wahl It sounds like it is more than just minor amendments then.


Donald Saven: I am really not sure, I think that we should touch base with Mr. Watson.

James Wahl: Having said that, we usually meet on Monday we could probably meet in a weeks notice. We just processed some amendments to the Town Center District Ordinance to permit a department store on this project and that took us 60 days or so, but we went through 3 or 4 renditions of that and I think that we are prepared to move as quickly as possible. I can’t give you any exact time frame and what is important to me and I heard Member Harrington say that we might have to review 90 of these and obviously that is not going to happen if we get our job done. I think that it is unfortunate that we have a couple of stores opening up, but I think that what this will do is to facilitate the solution of this through all of the bodies that have to take a look at this; now they recognize that it is a priority and it not some minor administrative function over here. It is something that we need to act on because if we don’t we are going to have 90 variances in front of you. I think that we had another project where we had a lot of those variances coming before you and we would like to avoid that I am sure. The best that I can tell you is that we will be working on it even tomorrow. We have a meeting scheduled with the City Manager and as soon as I have a time frame after having talked to the City Attorney and Don and the rest of the staff, I can send a memorandum to you and let you know. I don’t know if that will be adequate because I only caught the end of the conversation.


Chairman Antosiak: Well, I think at this point we would appreciate any assistance and whether it comes from you or Don, we will leave that for you to decide. The ideal is that we would want an ordinance before the next meeting so that Mr. Chen would know if he even needed variances and if he did which ones they were. I don’t know how likely that is to happen and I sense that it is not likely. Therefore from my perspective I would like something at the next meeting either in direction or at least what the City’s position is on these ordinances. Or if you think that you are close to an ordinance but it is not quite there - what you think it is going to be. Just so that we have a feel and that we are making a decision within a context which I sense from the Board was sorely lacking this evening.


Chairman Antosiak: My own personal thanks to you, Mr. Wahl and Councilman Schmid for bothering to take the time to come here and to take an interest. It has been a long time since that has happened.

James Wahl: From my experience with other ordinance drafts my inclination is to guess that by your next meeting we would probably have a draft that had been worked over to the point where we are 95% there. What I don’t think that we would be able to accomplish is to have the bodies approving it by that date. I don’t know. I am not saying that it is impossible, but just based upon other similar situations - we had the department store proposal and we reworked that 2 or 3 times and it finally went to Council last night and they made a couple of other minor changes; but the substance of it was done within 60 days and there was no real rush on that particular ordinance. So I would think that in 30 days we would be most of the way there, if not completed. Don’t hold me to that, I am just trying to help.


Member Meyer: I am concerned about the 4 people who are going to take occupancy in the next 30 days, so if there is some way that we could or that you folks could work out something so that the man can have an opening without a black and white sign. I don’t know if there is a way of addressing that or.....


James Wahl: Can I offer this and again I don’t want to take this responsibility as a Department Head, but again with the Steering Committee we could meet and review this and could have a considerable amount of time to meet with the client. We are not sign experts, but who is? Part of it is common sense and then the other part of it is that at least we are able to spend more time than you maybe put in a regular meeting agenda. If it would be helpful and I am just offering this as a suggestion.


Member Meyer: The only reason that I bring it up is what Mr. Chen said earlier, he said that he wants to feel welcome and I think that he has already been made to feel welcome but that he does run into some road blocks. I don’t want the gentleman who just came in from a soccer game for his son to feel that he is not welcome. He has spent 600 to 700 thousand dollars to make this move from Livonia to Novi, so if we can at least address their concerns in some way I think that it would at least help in that concept of welcome.


James Wahl: I don’t want to sound presumptuous but so far just about every problem that we have encountered with this particular development including variances, ordinance amendments that we thought that we had everything figured out but we didn’t. We worked with Evergreen III on all of these including the amendment which was just approved on Monday night and I think that we have a pretty good track record of being a helpful facilitator to this particular project. Frankly, it is a community development project that the department has been heavily involved in for almost 10 years. Having said that, signage is our particular area of expertise; but my suggestion is that we could have a committee like a brainstorming work session with Don and Alan’s expertise and we wouldn’t go to far afield from what is an acceptable regulation and would fit in with the context of the whole City and which is something that I would be concerned about with this particular project. It is going to impact other retailers and they are going to have reactions and such. But, we could have a work session and do a lot of homework just on the variances if you would be looking for that kind of recommendation. If we didn’t have an ordinance in place 30 days from now, perhaps we would have at least worked up some kind of package for this particular building that might be helpful. I don’t know whether that is good, bad or indifferent. Just some ideas.


Bob Schmid: Mr. Wahl has a good idea. We do have committees and we do have planners who ought to have a little knowledge of signs, we pay them a lot of money to have some knowledge. At the very worst, if Mr. Wahl feels that we couldn’t get an ordinance passed in 30 days at the very least the planners and the committee could meet and have a pretty good idea of what the ordinance would be; which I assume, would assist you then when these are brought forward and you could stick pretty close to that recommendation. Let me know and I know you don’t want to hear this, if that committee could do this in 2 weeks and if it became very obvious that an ordinance could not be passed in 30 days and it will be difficult with the various Boards that it has to go through; that maybe you could convince Mr. Chairman and your committee to meet in an emergency meeting in maybe 2 weeks to help out the developers and the business people that would at least step this up by a couple of weeks. I would only ask that if it was obvious that an ordinance couldn’t be passed within 30 days because if an ordinance can be passed in 30 days we could save a lot of time and wouldn’t even have to come back here. I think that we can work it out. But if we can’t get an ordinance passed, at least give it some thought and the Council and business people would appreciate it if it may happen.


Chairman Antosiak: It is more than an emergency than we have had for prior special meetings.


Chairman Antosiak: I believe that our motion is still seconded and hanging out there. Please call the roll:


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


Chairman Antosiak: The variance requests have been tabled until November 6, 1997 as per all of the discussion that has transpired. If Mr. Saven comes to us in the interim and says "We believe that we have something" then we will check everyone’s schedule for availability for a special meeting prior to November 6th.


James Chen: I would like to ask this the Board the permission to take down the temporary signs that we have on the building. Those are not good and secure for a temporary sign. They are just hanging there.


Chairman Antosiak: That is within your discretion. Mr. Brennan’s motion gave you the authority to keep them up for 30 additional days if you desire to do so, but if you don’t it is within your descretion to take them down.


Member Meyer: We would like to remind you that the meeting is on a Thursday and not on a Tuesday.




There were no other matters.




The Meeting was adjourned at 10:50 p.m.












Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan

Recording Secretary