|REGULAR MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF THE CITY OF NOVI
CIVIC CENTER - 45175 TEN MILE RD.
TUESDAY - AUGUST 4, 1998
The Meeting was called to order at 7:35 p.m., with Chairman Reinke presiding.
Present: Members Brennan, Antosiak, Meyer, Harrington, Bauer, Reinke
Absent: Member Sanghvi (alternate)
Also Present: Don Saven - Building Official
Khanh Pham - Staff Planner
Alan Amolsch - Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Nancy McKernan - Recording Secretary
Chairman Reinke indicated the Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the Novi City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances for applicants on the Novi Zoning Ordinance. It takes a vote of at least four (4) to approve a variance request and a vote of the majority of the Members present to deny a variance request.
Chairman Reinke indicated this is the Public Remarks Section of the Meeting. All comments related to the cases on the Agenda should be held until that case is called. If anyone wishes to address the Board on any matter or case that is not on the Agenda tonight, please come forward at this point in time. (No one wished to be heard at this time.)
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Reinke indicated we have one modification to the agenda. Case No. 98-057 filed by Tri-Mount Custom Homes/Wintergreen has asked to be withdrawn from the agenda. Are there any other corrections or modifications to the agenda this evening? Hearing none...
Moved by Member Meyer,
Seconded by Member Harrington,
TO APPROVE THE AGENDA AS AMENDED.
Roll Call: (Voice Vote) All Yeas Agenda approved as amended
Case No. 98-039 filed by Matthew Quinn, representing S & Z, Inc.
Continuation of case filed by Matthew Quinn, representing S & Z, Inc., owner of property described as Sidwell Number 5022-11-105-008 (lots 151 thru 156 of the Howells Walled Lake Subdivision) is requesting the Zoning Board of Appeals to authorize a use variance to allow this property to be used as B-3 to allow for the construction of a small commercial building. The property is currently zoned R-4.
Matt Quinn was present.
Matt Quinn: I am appearing on behalf of the petitioner in this matter. First of all I would like to thank you for the late notice at the last meeting in adjourning this matter to this evening; there was a conflict that came up that could not be avoided.
Matt Quinn: When this matter was here 2 months ago, you asked about the possibility of a meeting with some of the local residents to be set up to see if any possible dispositions could be worked. At one time we had a meeting set up but then it was canceled and then there was no further action taken in that regards to tonights meeting.
Matt Quinn: To just quickly reiterate the petitioners position in this matter. This is a use variance that is being requested. You will recall that this property was zoned commercial for well over 10 years that my client owned the property. That he then submitted a site plan for a commercial building. That within a few weeks after the submission of the site plan the City initiated a rezoning process that went in front of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission voted unanimously not to change the Master Plan on this property so it would still exist as Master Planned Commercial. The Planning Commission voted not to recommend a zoning change to the City Council. The matter then went to City Council. The Council 7 to 0 did approve the change of zoning. About that same time my client submitted a revised site plan; the first site plan was rejected for some minor problems with the layout of the building. That revised plan was submitted prior to the zoning law coming into effect on its legal date. A few months later my client first received a letter then from the Planning Department saying that his plan had been rejected because the zoning had now been changed and they sent the fees back to him. So we have a Master Planned Commercial Property, we have a land owner who submitted a commercial plan, the City pulled the right of that plan to be approved out from under him after he had submitted the site plan and then they rejected it. Therefore, we are asking for a use variance to be allowed to build a commercial building on that site the way that it is still Master Planned and the way it had been zoned for longer than 10 years prior to the change of zoning. The site is a 12,000 square foot site, 100 by 120. The proposal is to put approximately a 2000 square foot building on it.
Matt Quinn: My client has some room to move as far as the B-3 uses, if that is a concern to this Council. We can very easily live with B-2 uses, we can live with B-2 uses that also say that there is no automotive type of facility to be allowed there and even a restriction saying that there cannot be a party store or that type of convenience store on that site. So, we are proposing those types of things to you to consider for this use variance and ask that you approve a use variance for a commercial building of a B-2 nature with no automobile uses and no convenience store/party store type uses there.
Matt Quinn: I will be happy to answer any other questions that you may have. I know that a lot was said the first time when my partner was here, so I dont have to re-hash all of that.
Jeff Harris, 134 Wainwright. I am totally opposed to this. Last month we had a lot more people here that stated that fact. We have a few more that want to talk tonight. I guess my question is "how can this be changed as a use change when it has already been zoned as residential"? That would be like me asking you to rezone my property so I could give it to Michael Jackson to build and amusement park in my back yard. How can that be possible to change a zoning for residential to business, I dont understand it. Could I come to you to do the same thing?
Member Harrington: It would be my understanding that we heard from 10 to 20 people last meeting and because of the late notice we took their testimony. The people who will be speaking in this matter tonight would either be people who did not address us last month or if they did are prepared to raise new issues which were not covered last month. But those who have already have spoken and have said their piece, your matters are part of the official record. So if we have new people or new issues my thought is lets hear them. If you have already spoken last month, your comments are on the record and we dont need to hear them again.
Mark Efram, 229 Wainwright. I did speak last month but I do have one question. I am not aware or do not know what those other uses are and I would like to know what they are that they are saying they would consider a B-2 use or a B-3 use. Can someone answer that for me? What types of commercial buildings or businesses would they like to put in a residential area that would be successful?
Matt Quinn: The typical B-2 use would include those that are allowed in B-1, which would be your ....B-2 right now is allowed across from Providence Hospital on the corner of Beck and Grand River. It allows like a pick up dry cleaner, it would allow a pizza station, it would allow office uses, an insurance agency, it would allow a lawyers office, it would allow a dental practice to go in there, a travel agency, it would allow a video store to go in there. What you would basically consider as local business uses. There is a whole list of uses, that is just a summary.
Member Harrington: Would a liquor store be included in those uses?
Matt Quinn: That is one of the things that we are willing to exclude; the party store/convenience store.
Mark Efram: The second part of that question would be and I would imagine that there would be something in mind if there is this much conversation going on as to what this land should be used for; there must be something in mind. Is there indeed one of those uses that is mind for that property?
Bob Dodds, 216 Wainwright. I am not real familiar with a lot of the procedures that you go through. But I do know that we live in a real small neighborhood with really sub-standard streets. We have had several problems before with the width of the street and emergency vehicles getting through with parked cars on the street; We are only allowed to have parking on one side of the street because the streets are quite narrow. We are really concerned about traffic. Any type of retail business all it is going to do is bring a lot of traffic. We are also concerned about trucks, delivery trucks. We have another side street that would sometimes be used probably for access to this building. We also have some concerns that since Novi Road has been opened, Old Novi Road; the traffic has really diminished quite a bit lately and we dont know how a party store or any other type of store could do very well there with the abandoned buildings that we already have on the street that are commercial. There are a couple of buildings currently there that have not been able to do very well when there used to be traffic and now there is even less traffic. Our biggest concern, I guess, is the traffic situation.
Laurie Harris, 134 Wainwright. One of the questions that I have is that we wanted to get these issues worked out prior to these meetings and I am concerned that the residents werent met with. To my knowledge I was the only one contacted to have a meeting with Mr. Quinn and no other residents were contacted and I apologize for the waste of all of your time; we would have liked to have worked this out but I was the only one contacted to my knowledge.
Kevin Johnson, 203 Linhart. I just have a couple of comments and it kind of interesting to hear that this is essentially hardship exception to an existing zoning change that was made, granted a relatively short period of time for the persons ownership. But, as a hardship it would seem to me that this Council or the City Council made a correct and appropriate decision to rezone this as residential and I would like to see it stay with that. Also, if this is such a hardship in the 10 plus years I have never seen any sort of for sale sign or attempt beyond this recent attempt to change the exception for the zoning. Once again, I would like to see this Council stick to the appropriate decision and to keep it residential. Thank you.
Phil McCann, 247 Linhart. I strongly support my neighbors as far as for keeping this thing residential. I dont know why your clients, sir, wouldnt want to sell that piece of property and put up a beautiful home. I am sure that he could get his money out with no problem at all. As far as the way that man has maintained the property on the corner; the weeds have been in excess of 3' and finally the City would come around and cut them down. I know the gentleman that owns the house right behind the lot has cut it down several times just for our vision in order to get out. It is a small sub and we dont need any increased traffic at all. I have lived there for 13 years and have gone through the nightmares of trying to come out of Linhart and being able to make a left hand turn. I have sat there in excess of 15 minutes sometimes; you dont know what it is like until you have had to live there and come up. When they opened up Decker Road, it was tremondous because the major flow of all that traffic went up Decker and it alleviated it off of Old Novi Road. As far as for anything commercial going up there, anytime you have something commercial you are going to have a delivery truck of some type. We dont need any excess traffic on our streets, they are narrow enough and for the safety of all of the children and grandchildren within the neighborhood we dont need anything extra. We dont need any cars zooming up Martin Street to come over there. And up Linhart or Wainwright to cut over there for whatever kind of business that you have. I would just really like to say that I want to see the Council strongly approve this to keep it residential and I dont know why the client wouldnt put up a house. Thank you for your time.
Cameron Freeman, 106 Linhart. I live next door to the property. I have a question as to the time frame in which the prints were submitted throughout his submittals to the City and how that revolved with the dates. Does anybody know that? He said that he wasnt given the opportunity.
Matt Quinn: The first plans were submitted on November 8, 1996 and a $1495.00 review fee was paid. That was about 3 weeks before the Planning Commission had a meeting. Mr. Rogers review letter was then sent on December 9, 1996 suggesting some changes to be made. Then the plans were submitted 3 weeks later on December 23rd with the revisions being made and with an additional $776.00 for another review. So, the City reviewed the plans, kept the $1500.00 or the consultant did or both and they got the answer, the plans were corrected and new plans and fees were submitted.
James Korte, Shawood Lake Area. I was one of the ones instrumental in the rezoning and I think that you know that. Minor changes when the Linhart building was first proposed, I saw those plans and it is a shame that you didnt. We didnt even have sidewalks in all places. It wasnt minor. I would find it hard to believe that if the dates are correct and I started a commercial building setup proposal upon commercial that there wouldnt be some kind of grandfather that if the plans wouldnt have been so God awful to start with and one would have followed through because he did start before that point and then dead ended. I dont remember the Linhart group and I dont know the exact name saying anything at Planning. I dont know of any letters that came back to the sub-committee that started this whole situation and I see Pete Hoadley is here and he might be able to answer that; I dont think that anything was said by this piece of property until City Council. I dont think that anything has been said of this property since City Council.
James Korte: Now we are at the zoning, and now I will get into what I was going to say and I will talk quickly. You are not changing the zoning and we understand that. I still dont understand that but we understand the situation. Lets get a B-1, B-2 or B-3 or whatever the proposal is at this point and now I cant rent my building. I am already non-conforming so what difference does it make if we change that to B1, 2 or 3. I get a little machine shop that wants to come in, I have 2000 square feet that I cant rent. Are you going to tell me no? You cant make me tear the building down. What is the guarantee when you allow the foot in the door that we dont get some 24 hour operation in there. It could happen.
James Korte: Residential is residential. At the first meeting and at the end of that meeting the group was asked to provide information that they cannot build residentially. I am one of the contributing factors to your big packet, it is me that keeps sending all of those things to Nancy. You have all of the sidwells to the whole subdivision so that you can look a little clearer and see what is going on. In all of that it clearly states visually that residential can be built. In some of the other paper work that I gave you that was exact copies of what went to City Council for the re-zoning. At this point in time and I dont mean to knock Planning, but who cares what they did. It didnt work what ever they did. The zoning was changed. Council remains in this situation superior. They got the last say and they said residential. On that piece of paper, when this happened the SEV was $14,200.00. He paid $36,000.00 some 8 years earlier. Where is the ordinance that says that if the deal maybe isnt the best deal or if someone cant triple or quadruple and make kizillions on it, that the residential area has to suffer the consequences and make up the difference. It is as simple as that; he paid too much for the property and that really isnt our business; but it is not our fault. Nor should we pay for his business ventures. Thank you.
Sarah Gray, 133 Maudlin. I am here tonight as a resident of the area, as former President of Southeast Shawood Homeowners Association, as current Vice-President of the combined LARA and SES. Of course you know that we are still opposed to any change of re-zoning. I have a question for the City Attorney that I hope will be addressed after I speak and in your point of discussion and it has to do with timing, Mr. Fried. When the property was rezoned by the Council, or any property, does the property owner have the right to dispute or petition or ask for a second hearing and if so, what is the time limit on that and if there is a time limit and it wasnt met, why not for the petitioner. There has been a lot of time lapsed between the time that he bought the property and what has been proposed and I dont think that it is our fault that on a technicality we in our area may get stuck with another re-zoning or re-use of the property. As far as law suits, we have never been afraid of law suits in the past. We have won law suits on petitioners technicalities of not filing within proper time in the past and there is nothing to say that we wouldnt win this one. In June, although I wasnt here, I was at my daughters Honors Night at the Middle School, Mr. Quinn and the property owner were instructed well not Mr. Quinn but Mr. Seymour were instructed to meet with the neighborhood, the homeowners association because I had written a lengthy letter on behalf of SES and LARA and I have never been called. I dont think that there is anyone in the City who doesnt know who I am or where my phone number is. I will just give Mr. Quinn a current newsletter so that he has my phone number. We are willing to work as this City well knows. We want the best for our area. Now I am going to briefly refer to letters that you may have in your packet dated April 13, 1996 with the Lucas rezoning and this was at the Shawood Canal. The Council first said that maybe we need to look at rezoning that whole corridor. Then my letter of September 17, 1996 saying that yes we are still in support of rezoning that whole corridor from commercial to residential. The nature of the area has changed to the better. Now my last comment, when you are considering this special use there has to be some kind of proof that has been met. Something that says he has tried everything and he just cant do it. In my humble opinion, he has not met that burden of proof. Nothing has been submitted that shows that this property cannot viably be used residential and your vote should reflect the same. Thank you.
Don Saven had no comment.
Member Antosiak: It seems that Mr. Quinns petition is based upon some sort of administrative or procedural irregularity regarding plan review and rezoning on this property. I would like to hear the City Attorneys opinion as to whether any of that exists or may exist.
Dave Fried: As I understand Mr. Quinns position on this, he claims that he has a vested right to prior zoning because he filed his site plan for review before the rezoning and he spent some money on that site plan. He has paid the City some money which was returned to him after the property was rezoned. The question of whether he has a vested interest in the prior zoning is not a question before this Board, that is a legal question for the courts to determine. There is only one question before this Board and that is whether the property can be used for its zoned purpose. Your ordinance which guides the jurisdiction of this Board provides that "The Zoning Board of Appeals shall not have the power to alter or change the zoning district, classification of any property nor to make any change in the terms of the ordinance; but shall have the power to authorize a use in a zoning district which it is not otherwise permitted provided it is clearly shown that the land cannot be used for its zoned use." That is what the question is before you and the only question. Whether this property owner has a vested interest to this prior zoning is not before you as I understand the law to be. I will express my opinion but I dont think that getting a site plan filed constitutes a vested interest in a prior zoning; but that is a question for the courts.
Khanh Pham: The position of this department is that when the applicant submitted the site plan on December 23rd factoring in the week ends and the holiday we didnt have a meeting to present to them for preliminary site plan approval in front of the Planning Commission anyway, before the first of the year. We have our Planning Consultant, Jim Schaefer available here to answer any questions you may have in terms of the site plan and what were the technical merits of why it was denied and the traffic conditions of why it was supported for the rezoning from commercial to residential.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I would like to take two issues out of this whole debate and that is economics and the debate over the timing. I think that it is very clear that we specifically asked for some data to support the case that this property cannot be developed as residential and I havent seen anything tonight nor anything in a submittal prior to the meeting. I have also been very supportive of residential cases when there is even a neighbor who is affected. It is very clear that there is a great deal of nonsupport for this. It was more prevalent last month but I dont think that just because they are not all here tonight that we dont remember that. I am content to believe that the petitioner has not demonstrated that the land cannot be used for residential.
Chairman Reinke: Mr. Quinn, you were asked to meet with the residents in the area there. I think that you have had ample time to do that and we have had no feed back from you on trying to resolve these issues. I think that this could have helped you a lot if you could have done this. But with no input I am really at an issue that you are really not trying to help yourself out on that. The other comment that I have is, it is a residential area. With the traffic being routed onto Decker Road it is really creating a more residential community. The development and growth is strictly residential. I see no reason that a commercial endeavor at that point for decreased traffic is substantiated. That is only my comment.
Member Harrington: I expressed a concern last month and I am prepared to set that concern aside this evening whether it is even timely, the nature of the appeal. But by virtue of Mr. Frieds comments and I accept his guidance on the issue that we should deal with the merits period and the substance of the issue and go for the heart of it and I join in the other Board Memberss comments and I am prepared to vote is a motion is made.
Moved by Member Antosiak,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-039 THAT THE PETITIONERS REQUEST FOR A VARIANCE BE DENIED FOR FAILURE TO DEMONSTRATE A HARDSHIP TO USE THE PROPERTY AS ZONED.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Dave Fried: I think that you are going to have to amend your rules or to adopt a rule that sets a time limit for which appeals should be had and the time that the applicant has been rejected by any Board or agency of the City. You dont have such a rule now. The statute/ordinance under which you are operating provided that you can adopt such a rule and you should adopt such a rule.
Member Harrington: Would it be within our jurisdiction to set such rule or is it City Council?
Dave Fried: No, it is your jurisdiction. The statue provides that you adopt your own rules and one of the rules that you adopt is the rule that provides a time limit which an appeal can be had. That is your jurisdiction and you should adopt such a rule as there is no rule now.
Chairman Reinke: Could you send a letter to us in that affect.
Member Harrington: And perhaps some guidance from the Administrative Procedures Act, I have some vague memory that it is 30 days to appeal and administrative decision, or no?
Dave Fried: There is that appeal, but that is an appeal of the courts and that does not appeal to this agency. I will send a letter to that affect.
Case No. 98-058 filed by Larry Bacon
Larry Bacon is requesting a 14.9' rear yard setback variance to allow for the construction of a screened porch at the rear of the home located at 44452 Midway Dr., in the Dunbarton Pines Subdivision.
Larry Bacon was present and duly sworn.
Larry Bacon: I am the homeowner at 44452 Midway in Dunbarton Pines. We would like to build a screened porch at the rear of our home. We understand that we need a variance from the minimum setback to the rear property line. The plan is to build a screened porch on the foot print of the current wood deck at the rear of the home. Actually the screened porch will approximately take up about half of the size of the wood deck. The rest of it will be converted to a patio. The construction, architecture, type, roofing, color and everything will be consistent with the home that is there. The structure will not disturb any of the current landscaping that is there and as a matter of fact it will rest behind some large greenery that we had previously planted. I have discussed the project with all of the neighbors who have site lines to the property and who are within 300 feet of our home on both Midway Drive and Fordway which is the street immediately behind us. In the papers that were furnished to the council a partial list of those signatures were provided and I am prepared to provide you a complete list of those signatures at this time. I wasnt able to get all of the signatures in time for the deadline, but I do have those now if you would like to see them.
Chairman Reinke indicated there was a total of 38 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 2 written responses received both voicing approval.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: I would like to point out to you that the proposed construction according to the plot plan does not fall within the 20 foot easement at the rear of the property. So we do not have a problem in that area. This screened in porch will lie directly upon the existing wood structure that is there for the deck.
Vice-Chairman Brennan inquired of Don Saven: Did he have to have a variance for the deck? Was the ordinance changed after?
Don Saven: No, sir. An open or unenclosed deck can project into a rear yard up to 18'. So he does meet the requirements there for the construction of the deck.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: That was my only question. The petitioner obviously has done his homework, he has the approval by his neighbors. There is obviously no one here who is ranting and raving that they dont like the plan. It is in the basic confines and envelope of an existing deck. It seems to be an approvable plan.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-058 THAT THE APPLICANTS SUBMITTAL BE APPROVED. THE SETBACKS ARE MINIMAL. OBJECTIONS BY ADJOINING NEIGHBORS ARE NIL.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 98-061 filed by Lifetime Fitness
Lifetime Fitness is proposing to build a 2 story health/fitness club and an outdoor pool for property located on the west side of Haggerty Road, northerly of Orchard Hill Place and is in need of three (3) variances.
Mark Zaebst was present and duly sworn.
Mark Zaebst: Lifetime Fitness did receive site plan approval from the Novi Planning Commission on July 8, 1998; subject to the approval of 3 zoning variances which we are here this evening to request from you.
Mark Zaebst: Before I actually touch on the variances, if I may I would like to give you a very brief over view of the building in order for you to understand our request. This rendering shows the outside of our 2 story building, 92,000 square feet; community style recreation and fitness facility. Housed within the building on the first floor, the green area here is the glass structure that you see at the entry of the building that is the reception area, there is a full service hair salon, health food cafe, large meeting and seminar room where we teach free seminars, massage therapist on staff, 2 regulation sized gymnasiums for both basketball and volleyball, regulation sized racquet ball and squash courts, 8,000 square foot child training center that has a mini kid gym, a quarter million dollar play center, computer training area, library, private rest room facilities for children, toddler theater.
This is the mens and ladies locker rooms, this is the family locker room where parents with young children can go into actual private dressing rooms to take care of the dressing for the pool area. In the pool area there is a 25 meter lap swimming pool, a large indoor recreation play pool with a 2 story water slide, whirlpools, dry heat sauna and the sun deck and out door pool complex. On the second floor of the facility we then have a diagnostic area for exercise and cardio vascular training area where we have 180 pieces of cardio vascular training equipment, 10,000 square feet of free weights, 100 pieces of resistance training equipment, 2 very large aerobic training rooms and then the physical therapy and medical complex at the back of the building. Also this shows you where we are open to below with the 2 story spaces which leads me into the first variance that we are requesting.
Mark Zaebst: If you will notice this particular cross section, we have taken the gymnasium and split it along this line so that you can take a look at the height that is necessary for us in order to be able to have international regulation volleyball and it must have 32' of clear span space from the floor to the clear span area here. That in itself is what is driving the actual 2 story height of our building. What we end up with at the top of the building here is a 36'8" and we are requesting a variance of 68" in order to accommodate, again, the international regulation volleyball height restriction. This particular 2 story open space here for the recreation pool is depicted in this cross section here and the reason that we bring the height of that up is to accommodate the 2 story water slides which are located in the family recreation pool. In addition to those 2 areas we are also taking a look at the height variance needed for the entry area. This particular diagram will show you the entire roof plan and you can see the main height variances that we are asking for here with 47'8" on the glass entry area and it is only 3.4% of the total group area. We were made aware that we would have to obtain variances for the height of the building and prior to actually going to purchase agreement we did have a number of meetings with the homeowners association that represents the folks who live right behind our property and they have in fact stated in writing that they are in accord with us in obtaining these variances.
Mark Zaebst: Without being able to obtain the variance we would have a practical hardship because we would not be able to have a number of very integral parts to our operation.
Mark Zaebst: The second variance that we are requesting is that with our particular site that we dont actually have frontage on a public street. This is a conceptual plan for the entire development area and if you take a look of where I am tracing with my pen, this is Lifetime Fitness a 7.76 acre site of the entire 46 acre site and as you can see we do not actually front onto Haggerty Road. What we have obtained is an easement gaining access here through the main road that is coming into the complex. This will, of course, give our clients access to Haggerty Road and will no way impede traffic coming in or out of the site. Obviously if we are unable to obtain a variance, that would certainly create a practical difficulty for us in not being able to obtain access to Haggerty Road.
Mark Zaebst: The third variance that we are requesting this evening, the zoning requires that we have a 4' green space around the entire exterior of the building. This is the outdoor pool complex. Zoning actually requires us to have a 4' green space buffer between the building and the pool area which is actually impractical. We would have a health problem having green space where people would actually walking from the indoor pool complex to the outdoor complex through mud, dirt, grass.
What we have actually done is that we have maintained our 4' buffer around the outside of the pool deck. From a practicality standpoint we are meeting the zoning requirement.
Mark Zaebst: Thank you for listening to our request.
Chairman Reinke indicated there was a total of 37 Notices sent to adjacent property owners There was 2 written responses received, both voicing approval.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven had no comment.
Member Antosiak: I am looking at the drawing the request cites mean height of 47' and the drawing shows the actual height of 58'8", what is the variance that would be required to the mean or to the peak?
Don Saven: To the mean height of the building.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: You gave us this right at the beginning. How does this differ from what was in our packet, which we had time to review?
Mark Zaebst: It doesnt, sir. These are just mainly smaller versions of the Boards that I presented this evening.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Thank you. I was just wondering if there were any surprises here. I will make the obvious comments. This is quite a spectacular endeavor that you have here. It is unique to the City. It is family friendly. Your presentation was thorough. I have no objections personally to any of your variance requests. I am pleased that you sought out the approval of the adjoining homeowners. Most developments doesnt always take that into consideration. I think that you have done a very good job.
Member Harrington: I am a member of Whispering Meadows Homeowners Association, but I was not associated with any negotiations or was not the recipient of any notices and in fact had no opinion regarding anything that has been presented here with evening that would be impacted by that. But I am disclosing that I am a member of the association. Number 2, I am delighted to hear that there is nothing substantially different in this packet other than what is said; but I will express my concern on the record so it will go out loud and clear that I completely disfavor a submission of 19 pages of single spaced documents and fine print drawings and the like during the course of a presentation. I think that it is grossly unfair the Board, to the homeowners who may want to go to the City in advance and look at these. If the time constraints are such for this kind of a multi-million dollar project then either they should be done timely or it should be adjourned or it even shouldnt be submitted, because what do we need to hear it for if we are hearing it from here. My decision is to disregard this packet because I dont have time to read it, and we are not going to table this so that the Board can read it. It is awfully unfair to us to give us 19 pages of this. Having said that and from what I have heard and based upon the packet submissions that we received timely and in advance I think that this is a superior project and I think that the proposed variances are probably the minimal that is needed to accomplish the architectural objective. They make sense and they are practical and pragmatic. I am not sure about the two story water slide, but I can go with international volley ball.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-061 TO APPROVE ALL THREE (3) VARIANCES AS REQUESTED, THE HEIGHT VARIANCE, THE ACESS TO THE SITE, AS WELL AS THE 4' GREEEN SPACE BECAUSE OF THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTES PRESENTED BY THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE LOT SIZE AND CONFIGURATION.
Discussion on motion:
Member Antosiak: I am not going to support this motion because I believe that the height variance is self imposed by the type of structure and the type of activities planned in the structure, by the petitioner.
Member Bauer: I am also going to oppose it for the same reason.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I would like Mr. Antosiak to go through what the objection is, so that I can understand it.
Member Antosiak: I dont want the petitioner to misunderstand, I think that it is a fine development; but the ordinance sets out 30 feet as a height maximum to this particular zoned area. While the petitioners have selected a very fine development, they have also chosen the type of activities that are going to go into the building which are necessitating the height variance for atleast the 36.8' overall and the glass peak is an architectural design and not really functional to a part of the building. I perceive that to be a self imposed hardship because the petitioner has chosen the activities in which they are trying to place in a building within this zone. I believe that if this sort of facility is to be placed in this zone, it is a matter for Council to determine what the height should be and not this Board; particularly when you are talking about a variance in excess of 20% overall and 50% on the entrance structure. While I support the access variance and I support the greensapce variance, I cannot support the height variance.
Member Harrington: I would like to revise my motion to vote on these issues separately and see whether or not we have a consenus on one of the three or two out of the three or three out of the the three.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I would second to vote on them independently.
Member Harrington: I am going to pass on the height variance at this time.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
TO APPROVE THE VARIANCE FOR THE DIRECT ACCESS FROM SUMMIT PLACE DRIVE .
Chairman Reinke: I have a question for the petitioner. If you did not have the height variance, what is the consequence to you?
Mark Zaebst: We would not be able to go forward with this project.
Chairman Reinke: That would be the 6'8" height variance?
Mark Zaebst: Yes, sir. Volleyball international height restriction, if we dont have that, hurts us in any form of inter club tournament play and volleyball is an extremely heavy use in our gymnasium area.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Access - Motion Approved
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
TO APPROVE THE 4' GREEN SPACE VARIANCE FOR THE REASONS STATED ON THE RECORD.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Green Space - Motion Approved
Member Harrington: The reason that I can support the height variance with respect to this particular facility is not just that it would be impossible as they have testified to do the project; but with due regard to the buildings and structures in the surrounding area, I am extremely familiar with that area of the City as presumably are the other Board Members, and I dont find that the proposed height is offensive. I find it to be in congruity and symmerty with other buildings of similar size and although it may not technically fall within the zoning that permitted those areas it is virtually adjacent to them and I think that this building will fit in very nicely. I am also sensitive to the fact that this is a vertical intrusion with no opposition from anybody that I heard here tonight. We have approved towers for satellite or cable antennas. We have approved height variances in the past and some much larger than this. This is not a building that sits squarely in a residential area. It is not a building in the middle of farm land which may be subject ot residential development. It is a building which is pertinent to office buildings and commercial and retail structures and is virtually on Haggerty Road where there are other buildings. I think that it makes sense and I am not offended by it and that is the reason that I support it.
Vice-Chairman Brennan inquired of the petitioner: Can you give me a ball park from Haggerty to where the glass entrance is, what is the setback?
Mark Zaebst: If I am reading the site plan correctly it is 548 feet.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Maybe something else to consider would be the setback and what visual impact that might be from traffic.
Mark Zaebst: It is 980 feet from Haggerty to the building.
Member Harrington: With respect to the area behind it, which is actually right next to the Whispering Meadows Subdivision, there appears to be a substantial greenbelt between the building and subdivision. Is that greenbelt going to remain a greenbelt with trees in an undeveloped state?
Mark Zaebst: Yes, perpetual and we are making huge additions of additional greenery within there. That was all something that was worked out with the homeowners association.
Member Harrington: Do I have some memory that a portion of the greenbelt is fairly old growth? You have trees there that are 20, 30 or 40' high.
Mark Zaebst: I am not the person to comment on that; but yes, when I walk the lot there are trees within the greenbelt that are going to remain.
Mark Churella: I am the President and Chief Executive Officer of the FDI Group of compaies. Our division FDI Realty Partners LOC is the developer of the entire site. A point of refernce on the package tht Mark Zaebst has presented to the Council tonight. That package in it contained a document and the reason that it was so volumnious and that it was single spaced was as a specimen example of the homeowners association signing the amendment to the covenent codes and deed restrictions placed on this property. A couple of points that are very important. Number one, the 150' greenbelt area that is featured on the drawing is a perpetual greenbelt area that will never be touched; that 150', it exceeds the current ordinance requirement by 120' to 130'. All natural plantings within that greenbelt stay in perpetituity. In addition to that Lifetime Fitness as well as FDI Realty Partners have met directly with all of the residents that abut the greenbelt area and have worked extensively to come up with a master landscaping plan. We have a plan that will require the developer, myself, with Lifetime Fitness to plant in excess of 150 trees that will be large pines, spruce and evergreen type of plantings to the specifications of the homeowners. So in regards to what we are doing in the master site plan and with what Lifetime Fitness has agreed to do as well, I would like you to understand that the overall development not only in the packet will reflect our committment to provide the greenbelt plantings but in addition you will find a notation which also outlines the fact that the OS1 portion of the property and even though it is zoned 4 stories, in that packet it indicates that the homeowners would be willing to let it go up to 4 stories. They have already indicated their support in that document. What we are asking for here and what Lifetime Fitness is specifically asking for is a variance consideration on the overall height of the building and Mr. Antosiaks comments were heard and understood, but I think that the overall hardship that is placed on Lifetime Fitness and they had looked at digging and excavating the building lower to try to work these things out and it just was not physically possible for them to do that. As a part of the comment with respect to the facade, we were looking for an architectural element that would really draw attention to the Summit Pointe Drive and we felt very strongly about Lifetime Fitnesss idea with respect to the peaked portion of the roof. Our concern as well as the residents of Whispering Meadows Homeowners Association was would it become an obstruction from their views from their backyards. After the engineers had done the design and as you can see on the drawings not only will they not see it, but we have agreed to not only put those plantings in the greenbelt area but if necessary on their own properties. I think that we have gone the extra step in trying to communicate and I think that you would have to agree that we are 180 degrees away from what you have heard in your first petitioners request for what they are trying to do. I would ask you to strongly consider what we have brought forward in exhausting all other possibilites prior to bringing this up to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Mark Zaebst: The last board here depicts the site line with a person standing next to the closest home to our building through the trees that are there and as you can see this is a little bit less than the actual mid-point of the building. At this point that site line is already 15' above that particular high point of the roof that projects out to the actual peak. The peak would never be seen by someone in this area.
Member Bauer: The green space drops down how far toward the site?
Mark Zaebst: Approximately 7'.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Meyer,
TO APPROVE THE HEIGHT VARIANCE AS PROPOSED BY VIRTUE OF THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OR THE EXISTENCE OF THIS PROJECT PER TESTIMONY ON THE RECORD.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Antosiak Height - Motion Approved
Case No. 98-064 filed by Leonard Siegal, representing Maples of Novi (commercial phase)
Leonard Siegal, rpresenting Maples Place Shopping Center, is requesting three (3) variances to construct a 44,207 square foot shopping center, a 24,900 square foot two-story office building, a 6,000 square foot restaurant and a 4,000 square foot bank for property located at Fourteen Mile and Novi Roads.
Leonard Siegal was present and duly sworn.
Leonard Siegal: My firm is Siegal/Toumaala Associates and I represent Damico Development Company. This is Fourteen Mile Road and this is Novi Road, the southeast corner. This is the commercial phase of the Maples of Novi PUD. This site plan prelminary approval was given by the Planning Commission on April 15th and they had indicated several variances on that site plan. One of the elements of this development is an "L" shaped shopping center. The drug store, which is the anchor at the corner, requires a separate site. In applying for the lot split we have run into a technical difficulty in not being able to provide the required side yards. We want to connect these buildings so that this appears to be one shopping center and you can see that the architecture has all been integrated. There is the view from Fourteen Mile Road. There is the drug store. There are the other retail stores. The intention is to give it the appearance of an integrated and total development. This is the property line that would appear at that point. In order to achieve that with the front yard of the drug store being Fourteen Mile Road and with B-1 setback standards to comply. There would be a 15' variance required on the corner property for the drug store and then a 15' side yard setback for the adjoining building. There is a gap between the drug store and the building facing Novi Road and that is because we need the easement for the water main to go through there. The drug store will be on the property line which requires a 20' rear yard setback. We do need two 15' side yard setbacks, and a 20' rear yard setback.
Leonard Siegal: Additionally this property has about 784' of frontage along Novi Road and about 734' on Fourteen Mile Road and it is our understanding that only one ground pole sign is permitted by the ordinance. We have 2 major entrances to the shopping center. This is a multi-use center in addition to the "L" shaped shopping center that I described for the setback variances there is a bank, there is a 2 story office building and a restaurant. This clearly needs good identification. We feel that it is extremely important to have ground pole identification sign at each of these entry points so that this development is clearly identified to the user, so we are requesting that a second ground pole sign be permitted for this development.
Leonard Siegal: The additional variance that we requested and presently it is our understanding that a permit has to be issued within 90 days after a variance would be granted, but it is not practical or prudent to proceed with the drawings on this shopping center until we know if we are granted the
setback variances that we have asked for. If this Board would grant those variances this evening we could possibly complete those drawings and be able to obtain a building permit but we ask that it be extended to 180 days for that purpose.
Chairman Reinke indicated there was a total of 567 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 12 written responses received, 4 voicing approval and 8 voicing objection. Copies in file.
Peter Hoadley 31084 Arlington Cir. I am a resident of Maples of Novi also on the Board of Directors of the Maple Greens Association. I and my friends that are here tonight purchased our property about 7 years ago. One of the criteria that we purchased it under was the PUD, which guaranteed us a shopping center. The developer and for some reason the City granted the developer a change in phasing. This should have been completed many years ago. The developer along the line decided not to develop the commercial, put it up for sale about 3 years ago. Mr. Damico has come aboard and has been willing to purchase this property and develop it as it was agreed to by the original PUD and approved by the Planning Commission. We feel that it is important to grant these variances. We have been sitting there for 8 or 9 years. This PUD was approved in 1988. It is an eyesore on that corner if anyone of you have been by it. It is a perpetual eyesore and it isnt being maintained because the current devleoper has gone chapter 7. It is extremely important to us residents that this be a completed project. First of all it affects our property values, resale values and it is an eyesore. I would urge the ZBA to approve this variance including the second pole sign. Let me just point something out to you; there is a cut right here off Centennial Drive that accesses the 750 homes that are in the Maples of Novi and the last thing that we want to see is people coming in here to get in there. It is vitally important for a pole sign to be here that will direct traffic on Fourteen Mile Road to come in here. This is strictly an access for the convenience of the residents of Maples. So, I would urge you to also grant that variance. I might also add that these developers met with the entire association back in March at our annual meeting and we had about 150 residents there and it was the consensus that we wanted to see this project go forward as presented. Thank you.
Membr Antosiak: Not to interrupt the public comment, but we have no sign variance requests in our packet for this property tonight.
Bill Lindsay, 41630 Charleston Ln. I have been 7 years there. I will tell you a little story. I am in the process of right now cleaning my deck. It has only been a year and a half since I refinished it and it is coal black. I tried to wash it, tried to bleach it and I am ending up actually taking the finish off. In a year and a half time if this does not come about I am going to have to do it again. I unfortunately live east of that particular plot and the westerly wind takes all of the dust and dirt and drops it on my area. I consider it a hardship and I certainly would like to see it go forward.
Ned Sturton, 41697 Kirkwood: That vacant field with mud, dirt, rabbits and nonsense is visible fom the entire back of my home. I have been in there 7 years and I have redone my deck 4 times and then when I go outside I have to take a cloth and wipe up chairs even if they were used the day before. My biggest ofjection is that I am 69 years old and if you dont get that thing done pretty soon it isnt going to do me any good.
William Smith, 30741 Sandalwood Cir. I have been there 6 years. I am just saying what my neighbors have said already; but it is just terrible the dirt and it is just not right at all. Our neighbors are very upset about it, we would just like to have it taken care of.
Robert Stonehen, 41688 Charleston Ln. When we were looking for a place to move to and we strolled onto the Maples of Novi. One of the reasons that we bought there was the proposed shopping center on the corner and the convenience it would be for us to go over there and do our purchases at a neighborhood shopping area without having to get into the car and travel to do it. I have been there for 4 years and have been waiting very patiently for something to come with this piece of property and now that it is finally brought to a head I am looking forward to seeing this shopping center being constructed.
Don Saven: I, myself, would like to see this done. It has been a long haul. The issue before us is the sectionalizing of that one particular store and dividing it into actual property lines which is creating the setback requirements.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Is that a necessity because of the use of that corner? Because it is a drug store?
Don Saven: I believe that the architect could explain that a little better
Leonard Siegal: The drug store user requires that they own the property upon which they are building this place. They dont want to lease the building. They physically want to own their property.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I certainly have some empathy for the homeowners, but our job is to listen to a case and the variance request and the hardship that the petitioner has in not meeting ordinance. I dont understand why you cant meet the ordinance. Could you not make these buildings smaller and meet ordinance and still maintain the integrity of the project? I understand that you have told me that you want this, you just havent told me why you have to have it this way.
Leonard Siegal: It is important that this works as a unified shopping center. What we dont want and it is not favorable to have an isolated drug store with a building to the east of it and another building to the south. Had it not been for the need to bring the water main we would have attached the building at that point. In order to meet ordinance requirement the separations between the drug store and the building to the south of that and then there would have to be a separation between the drug store and the building to the east and that would create an isolated free standing structure. That is really a hardship.
John Damico: I just wanted to point out this water main is already in place and is servicing this entire subdivision. It is the only reason that we separated the buildings at all. This is more of a practical difficulty than anything in so much and I am afraid that if the buildings are separated it is going to affect the continuity of the center. The drug store needs to be at the corner. The drug store is the anchor. It is the draw. We dont need to separate. I think aesthetically in that corner and in that sub you will have a much nicer project if you have that continuity of the buildings. The only reason that this does not meet ordinance is because the drug store requires that they own their own parcel. If it were not for that there would be no problem whatsoever because it would be just a typical corner shopping plaza.
Member Meyer: Why couldnt the store be within ordinance? Why does it have to be seeking the extra 20' or the extra 15'? You are the architects why cant you design this store to fit the ordinance, in other words we are still looking for the hardship. What is the hardship here?
Member Harrington: Do I understand that you cant put the store on the top of the water main? Is that correct?
Leonard Siegal: Yes, we have to have that easement here.
Member Harrington: So, that is hardship number one. You cant build a single contiguous structure on top of the water main no matter what you do.
(tape inaudible) to meet the ordinance there would have to be a 30' separation from the drug store and this building to the east, that would create a distance of about 115' to the closest store. In the other direction the drug store is 128' and it would put the closest store 168 to 170' from that corner, and that really isnt conducive to this working as an anchor to this center and creating.....(tape inaudible) ....................it would encourage the flow of customers and that is the whole purpose of this. The entire site line has been worked out so that all these buildings relate to the pedestrian traffic and are pedestrian friendly. There is a real hardship in meeting the ordinance. We are trying to make this look and work like a unified shopping center. If we were to take that building and push it over further we have lost that, we have 2 separate buildings. We dont have a unified shopping center any more.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: But, that is what the ordinance for this district, a B-1 in a PUD requires, 20' between buildings.
Leonard Siegal: No, 15' setback from parking. This would not have occurred had there not been a requirement of the drug store for a separate ownership of the property. If this corner was not to be split off to the drug store, we wouldnt even be here before you with this matter.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: What happens if the ownership of the drug store changes?
John Damico: It would still be in effect.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Whoever picks up the property down stream is still going to own a separate piece of property. I am trying to understand your hardship and I am trying to create in my own mind and maybe I am having a harder time than anybody else, I dont understand why the building on the right cant go 20' to the right and the building on the bottom go 20' to the south and if they have to be a little bit smaller you are within ordinance. I am still struggling with this problem.
Member Antosiak: Has that lot split occurred? Is the property under common ownership?
John Damico: It is under common ownership at this time.
Member Antosiak: Has there been a search for other tenants who would not require a separate ownership?
John Damico: This has been marketed for quite awhile and I think that the point that I think that is being missed and this is just a technicality; the only reason that we require a variance is because of a technicality otherwise if not for the new drug store coming in and wanting their ownership it would be like any other corner shopping center. There is no way other than a written title and this would be no problem, it would be like every other shopping center in Novi, Sterling Heights, Troy or whatever. It is just a difference in the chain of title that creates the technical difficulty and not trying to get closer to another parcel which is a different use or a different zoning.
Leonard Siegal: Another way of stating the hardship; had we had a drug store that would be a tenant willing to lease the property we would not be here before you with this matter; because it would have met the ordinance in every respect. But the only drug store that we can find insists on separate ownership.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: That is not locked up because...you dont have them locked up yet, they are not under contract?
John Damico: We still have the contingency hanging out there.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: That is my point, unless you get this variance you cant complete this?
John Damico: This is a good local drug store that we have. We wouldnt want to take a chance of a small mom and pop drug store and go out there. It is quite an endeavor to get in this big of a center and we want good solid tenants.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Is there any issue in identifying the potential tenant?
John Damico: Yes, it is Arbor Drugs.
Peter Hoadley: Being really concerned about this project, I have done a lot of homework on it; and you know that I do homework. One of the requirements of the original PUD was that a drug store would be a part of the complex. That was approved by the City Council back in 1988, so the drug store is a necessary component of this project. The other thing; aesthetically we have a lot of homeowners bordering this that will have to look at the back of this. This developer has gone above and beyond and is going to make front facades on all 4 sides of the buildings. It is extremely important to our co-owners and other resident who live in the area that it happen. He is complying with the facade ordinance, his is complying with roof line, and besides the requirement of having a drug store he needs a good anchor store in order to attract the other business which is going to make it attractive to the residents to use it. I urge you to grant these variances. We need them. We have a practical hardship as homeowners.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Mr. Hoadley, I will only say that in order for me to even make a motion I need to understand the language to make a logical motion that makes sense. Up until the last 2 or 3 minutes of the petitioners presentation I didnt understand what their hardship is.
Leonard Siegal: It is my understanding that with respect to a dimensional variance which we are asking for here it is only necessary to show a practical difficulty and not necessarily a hardship. If that helps in any manner in making a determination with this. I think that we clearly have a practical difficulty here.
Member Antosiak: Just to make it clear and on the record you have made an attempt to find other tenants who would lease that property as part of an overall center and the one drug store tenant that you have been able to find who is willing to come onto the site requires ownership of that parcel?
John Damico: That is correct.
Member Meyer: You mentioned that there was some 500 letters sent and only 4 approvals, but 8 objections; could you share any of the objections?
Chairman Reinke read some of the objections. Copies of all letters are in the file.
Member Harrington: My thoughts on the variance are as follows. There is absolutely no impact by granting the variance on health, safety or the public welfare and in fact it would seem from the testimony that we have heard tonight that the public welfare at least in that area would be substantially and negatively impacted by a denial of the variance. I think that it would be virtually impossible for someone 6 months from now and when it is completed to drive by and even figure out what the variance was. I think that it makes sense. It sort of pushes the window of practical difficulty which is probably on a continuum with hardship somewhere. I think it is on the edges but I can support the granting of this variance.
Member Bauer: I can also support this.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-064 TO APPROVE THE VARIANCES 1, 2 AND 3. 1 AND 2 FOR BUILDING "A" AND 3 FOR BUILDING "B" AS PROPOSED BECAUSE OF THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTIES WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE PRECLUDE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SITE PER THE TESTIMONY ON RECORD.
Member Antosiak: Just an observation, the petitioner has also requested a waiver of the 90 day time period in which they are to pull a building permit under this variance and instead have 180 days.
Don Saven: I am sure that the issue is that he has to have final site plan approval first. Then it would be 90 days from the point of which you receive the final site plan approval. That is when the time factor starts. We did change the ordinance approximately 2 years ago regarding this matter. Is possible for you to get the final site plan approval and then get the building permit within the 90 days?
John Damico: It is our fear that we cant have them done and approved.
Leonard Siegal: It is my understanding that we must obtain the permit within that period of time.
Chairman Reinke: That would be after final site plan approval.
Don Saven: The 90 days deals with the time after they receive final site plan approval. Even though he is coming here now, he doesnt have it. We changed the ordinance to allow the final site plan approval to take place and then 90 days thereafter. If they cant do that then that is what he is making the request for now.
Leonard Siegal: We want to make sure that we have enough time. (tape inaudible)
Don Saven: We can work with you regarding starting permits for certain issues and the minute you get a starting permit for foundations.
Leonard Siegal: If we can get a starting permit for foundations then we could work with the 90 days.
Member Antosiak: Just another comment on the motion. The petitioner in his discussion discussed extra signs. There was no sign variance request in the package. I just want to make sure that the petitioner understands that a separate variance request is going to have to be submitted for the signs.
Leonard Siegal: I am confused about that not being in the package because this is a copy of the statement that accompanied the application for variance. It is titled "Statement Related to Zoning Board of Appeals Application City of Novi for Sidwell Number 2202200037." I dont know if you have it in your packages but the second paragraph says that Maples Place is a mixed use PUD comprising a shopping center, office building, bank and free standing restaurant. The property has 784' of frontage along Novi Road and 734' along Fourteen Mile Road. It is our understanding that only one business center sign for identification of the complex is permitted. In order to achieve proper identification for first time visitors which is essential to the mixed use concept, and to avoid inconvenience and confused and potentially hazardous traffic movements it is necessary to have a sign along each of the 2 major frontages. We respectively request a variance for a second business center ground pole sign to deal with the practical difficulty of property identifying the Maples Place Development. That was part of the application. I dont understand why it seems to be missing.
Alan Amolsch: No permits were applied for, not for one sign much less two. We have not received any sign permit application for any signs at that location. They have to apply before they can be denied. What he puts on the application has nothing to do with a sign permit.
Member Meyer: Sir, we could possibly look at that next month.
Chairman Reinke: So he has to apply for a sign permit before it can be denied and before he can come to us. So we cant say that it we are going to look at it next month, because nothing has been applied for.
Leonard Siegal: Can we apply for this at this stage of our process?
Don Saven: It is a little premature. Are you already designating a business center sign? Do you know what the center is going to be called? Do you have the square footage for the sign? The height? The width?
Chairman Reinke: What I would suggest and I dont think this is something that we should discuss here at this time, I would suggest that you call the Building Department and go over this and identify your signage needs and get an application in at that point in time. It is not something that we can resolve here.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No.98-065 filed by Fred Smith
Fred Smith is requesting a 2' height variance to allow for the construction of a pole barn at 28810 Summit Drive.
Fred Smith was present and duly sworn.
Fred Smith: I am asking for a 2' height variance on a pole barn to be able to get a RV inside. I need an 11'6" clearance. There are a few other buildings in the area that are of that height. I have included a letter from my neighbors. I have another from Terry and Nancy Sullivan giving their OK to this. This would be at the rear of the property.
Chairman Reinke indicated there was a total of 13 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: One of the neighbors who approved this, are they the property owners to the north of you?
Fred Smith: Two are to the north and one to the south.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: The adjoining property owner to the north?
Fred Smith: Yes, the only neighbor who can visibly see it.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Who is the neighbor adjoining to the north?
Fred Smith: It would be Maloney.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: That is the property owner most affected and like some of the other cases that we have looked at in this area, this is a very deep lot. There is an awful lot of trees and woodlands out there. There doesnt seem to be a lot of objection.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-065 THAT THE PETITIONERS VARIANCE REQUEST BE APPROVED DUE TO THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY OF STORING AN RV VEHICLE INSIDE.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 98-066 filed by Joseph Yousif
Joseph Yousif is requesting variances to allow for the construction of a second floor addition and a detached garage for property located at 105 Lashbrook.
Dennis Rober was present and duly sworn.
Dennis Rober: The Yousifs purchased this property late last year. It is an existing single story house. In the desire to add or to renovate the existing level, but also add a second story to the home and then in addition to add a garage, detached 2 car garage. The number of variances that we are requesting is mainly because the existing site is a non-conforming site. They are at a corner, the zoning ordinance looks at the site as having 2 front yards. The required front yard setback for both Paramount and Lashbrook is 30'. On Lashbrook we only have 18.5' and on the Paramount side we only 10.6'. So even with the existing building we are not conforming.
Dennis Rober: The additional second story they would like to extend past the north and south elevations by 2' for a balcony off of each adjacent bedroom. Then a 3' overhang to the back. The required 35' rear yard setback and the existing home has only a 31.5' rear yard setback and our extension lowers that even more.
Dennis Rober: Another area is lot coverage. The maximum lot coverage allows 25% with the proposed second story addition and the proposed 2 car garage, our lot coverage will be 34%.
Dennis Rober: The 2 car garage itself being a detached structure has a requirement of 6' rear yard setback and we are proposing just a 2' rear yard setback. The zoning ordinance requires 10' between the detached structure and the main structure and because of the restricted site we are only able to provide 8.55' between the rear of the house and the garage.
Dennis Rober: There is a water well that is located on the property. Our county has a requirement of 10' of clearance between the well and a structure, we are able to do that with the house itself and
it is an existing well. But again, the proposed detached garage we will only be able to provide 4.4'
clearance from the well and the detached structure.
Chairman Reinke indicated there was a total of 46 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There were 2 written responses received both voicing approval. Copies in file.
Michael Oulette, 1528 Paramount. I neighbor this building. My wife and I are strongly opposed to this. It is a 2 story building. The houses around it are not. It is a postage sized lot. It has a small building on it now which is about the size of a 2 car garage, if that. I would think that anything that you put up there would be an eyesore even though new. It is a very small lot and what they are proposing with a garage and stuff it has to be right on the fence and they will have a house looking down on everybody elses property there. I just dont want this to be an eye sore and devalue my property. My wife and I are opposed to this; there is just too much variance, too much building on too little land.
Don Saven: As the gentleman has indicated the lot is a small lot. The lot is 55' wide by 78' in depth. It is a corner lot which does necessitates more of a variance for many of the items which are before you today.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I was struck by the comment about placement of the well and the 4' distance to the garage, is that a county requirement to be 10' away from any structure?
Don Saven: For accessibility, there is some leniency in those areas but we like to have as much accessibility as possible.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: My overall impression in looking at the plans, was that it almost looks like more than 34% of the lot is being eaten up by the house and the garage. I didnt crunch any numbers but it is an overwhelming piece of construction on a very small lot. Obviously you are maintaining the second story addition on the footprint of the existing house, but I am concerned about how much of this overall lot that you are eating up with the size of the garage in the back.
Dennis Rober: The application and I would imagine you would have in your packet; the second side has the calculations. The lot itself is 4299 square feet and the total lot size or 25% of that or the maximum allowed is 1075 the square foot of the second story addition is just over 1000 square feet or is 1008. The proposed garage is 21 by 21 which is 441 square feet. Those combined gets us to the 34%.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I understand the math of it. I was looking at the visual aspect of that much building on that sized lot. That is what jumped off of the paper at me.
Chairman Reinke: Why do we have to have a detached garage?
Dennis Rober: Well actually the setbacks required if we attach the garage would be far greater because the rear yard setback for the house and if the garage is attached it becomes a part of the house it become 35'. The existing house only has 31.5'. So by detaching the garage the zoning ordinance only requires a 6'.
Chairman Reinke: So, you want to build 2' away from the lot line?
Dennis Rober: Correct.
Chairman Reinke: You have more trouble from me with 2' than the other way. Number one, the garage is too big for the lot. I understand that you need storage space, etc. but, the only way that I can see this possibly working is with you ending up having a 1 car garage. With that sized garage attached or detached it is just grossly over built.
Dennis Rober: I dont know if the owner would want that.
Joseph Yousif: Would it be possible to have a car and a half garage instead?
Chairman Reinke: Well, the lot size for what you are requesting is excessively built. You can put so much onto a postage stamp and your stamp is way over loaded. That is my opinion of that. You can only build so much on that sized lot. What you are requesting is way to much.
Joseph Yousif: So if we would put a one car garage, could we later add on a shed for storage or put something else on the other side?
Chairman Reinke: I didnt say later, add a shed or anything like that all. I am just saying that it is my opinion and I see that for what you have there is maybe a one car attached garage; if you get that.
Joseph Yousif: Attached or detached?
Chairman Reinke: Attached, but that is my observation of looking at the lot configuration and the arrangement there. I am only one person on the Board.
Joseph Yousif: One car attached would be OK.
Member Antosiak: Just an observation, I share some of your concerns and I was just trying to recollect some of the lot coverage variances that we have approved in the past; but 34% strikes me as being fairly large. I think that we have considered less severe impediments to the zoning. This is a smaller lot than what we frequently see around the lake area. I agree with you that it is too much coverage and it is over built. The problem that I see is given the location of the well, I am not sure what the petitioner could do with this garage.
Chairman Reinke: My comment was that if he brought the garage in and sized it down, it is not impeding the well more than what he was doing in the existing footprint.
Member Bauer: Not only that but the garage can be hooked to the house and they could close the walk and driveway and come in off of Paramount.
Dennis Rober: If we attached the garage to the house, the driveway would be running right over the well and you could not get into the garage. There is an existing driveway on the left hand side of the house and we wanted to maintain that and not have to introduce a new driveway. By bringing the garage towards the house with the head of the well, I would be driving over it. That also pushed for the necessity of pushing the garage away The other thought that we had was that an attached garage requires a 35' rear yard setback; where a detached garage only requires a 6' rear yard setback. That is the practicality of the problem that we had with the well and the garage; not wanting to drive over the well or to pave over it.
Member Bauer: I could not approve this as it is stated so far.
Member Harrington inquired of Don Saven: What is the feasibility of moving the well?
Don Saven: That would be possible.
Joseph Yousif: I dont know.
Chairman Reinke: When was the house built?
Member Harrington inquired of Don Saven: In term of the calculations of the square footage, do the overhanging decks count on that?
Don Saven: No, that is what is considered an allowable projection. As long as it is not a covered projection. For example, he indicated earlier on that the seconded story was calculated based on the over hang that was there.
Chairman Reinke: I can support everything but the variance for the garage.
Dennis Rober: Can we separate the garage and address it at a later date and then get the variances for the main house structure? The owners are certainly desiring to proceed. We have not proceeded at all with the drawings for similar reasons as to the previous case. Then come back to this Board at a later date concerning the garage. At least that way they could start the renovations to the main structure and residence.
Don Saven: But would your design be in conflict with anything that you would be proposing for future use?
Dennis Rober: Not if we were staying with a detached garage that would keep it separate, if it were to be attached that would be a different issue. Would the Board look more favorably on an attached garage even though it would require a far greater variance because of the required 35' rear yard setback versus the 6' setback for a detached garage? I dont think that the owner has a preference
for an attached or a detached.
Member Harrington: You still have a problem with the lot coverage issue.
Dennis Rober: No doubt and then a major setback requirement.
Member Harrington: Moving it closer to the house doesnt eliminate that.
Don Saven: And the well.
Member Antosiak: Lots in the Walled Lake area and the sizes of variances sometimes loses its meaning. Here it is coverage and a garage that is 2' from the property line, that are a concern of mine. I would be prepared to separate the 2 issues.
Dennis Rober: If we were to down size the garage where its approximate location is right now, but increase the rear yard setback to the required 6', would that meet with your approval?
Member Harrington: I have heard you ask to hear the garage and the house separately. We could consider the house and the garage separately and if you were to receive approval on the house and I would presume that you need to talk to the homeowners before we downsize this garage. We are not going to play lets make a deal, how small can you make it and still get a variance; you are going to need to talk to them about cost, design and architectural configurations and the like and you may want to table the garage issue because it could be a separate problem.
Dennis Rober: Mr. Yousif stood before you and said that he would be willing to accept a one and a half car garage.
Member Harrington: We really dont know square footage on that. Do you know square footage on that right now?
Dennis Rober: That would be approximately 18' x 21'.
Chairman Reinke: You are saying that you are taking 3' off of the garage?
Dennis Rober: 4' off to have the required 6'.
Chairman Reinke: No, I think that we to look at a something a little different here and I would suggest that you set the garage off by itself.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I think that we have stated in the past that while we dont look at other cases we try to be consistent. Homeowners in this area who have sought to get more house out of an existing dwelling and have built up on the existing footprint generally has been an acceptable offer. With that, I would support talking about house only and I would encourage you to look at a way to be less intrusive to your neighbors and be less intrusive on the overall square footage and that means getting the house that they want and down sizing the garage.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Antosiak,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-066 THAT THE PETITIONERS REQUEST FOR VARIANCE WITH REGARD TO HOUSE FRONT, REAR AND EXTERIOR SIDE YARDS BE APPROVED AS SUBMITTED. THIS IS AN ADDITION TO A SINGLE STORY HOME ON THE SAME FOOTPRINT FOR THE PURPOSE OF ADDING TO THE HOME AND THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY OF THE LOT SIZE.
Mike Oulette: Before you vote can I say something again, since you have changed the plan? Now he has eliminated the garage and just doing the house. May I speak again? In your comments you said that you were accommodating to homeowners because of the lot size, etc. I understand that. We all have the same problems in general sometimes: However, over on Maudlin when the house burned down on the corner a couple of years ago the variation was not allowed for a two story because the houses around it were all single story dwellings and all of the neighbors over there objected to a second story building. That is what we object to. When you say there are second story buildings there, they all face East Lake Dr. the neighbors on Paramount and farther on Paramount, east and west, plus the houses on Lashbrook itself that face Lashbrook, are single story dwellings. This one is going to stick out by itself. I dont think that you are being consistent with your variations on second story.
Chairman Reinke: What we are addressing, I think is not the issue of trying to be unique or different. What we are saying is that the person has a small lot, he is trying to acquire some additional living space. He is not increasing the foot print of the home. He is going up with a second level. So it is really less intrusive utilization and over building of the lot as you could possibly go.
Mike Oulette: I have to object, it is too much for the lot. It is a very small lot.
Chairman Reinke: I understand that, but he is not increasing the foot print of that building over what is here.
Mike Oullette: I understand, but what he builds affects the rest of us; and that stands out like a sore thumb.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: That is why 46 Notices were sent out and there are no objections that were returned.
Mike Oulette: As Council, you should be doing what is best for all of us.
Chairman Reinke: I think that we realistically look at the north end. Since I am a resident of the north end I look at that with a great deal of thought.
Mike Oulette: I am glad to see the property improved and somebody willing to do that. I am not crazy about a second story there. A lot of other things I would go for, but the second story is a bad deal.
Chairman Reinke: I respect your opinion, but the majority of the people are not objecting to it.
Mike Oulette: You cant win them all, but I wish that you would take it into deep thought before you vote. What is going to happen that down the line a lot of people are going to ask for this. You turned it down over on Maudlin and that person was trying to do the same thing.
Chairman Reinke: I think that each case is looked at on its own merit and I dont think that one situation is going to be represented of the whole area. If it were something really detrimental as was pointed out , very few people thought that it was.
Don Saven: A point of fact is that there is an extension of the second story which is projecting over the first story. It is not really going just over the existing home.
Chairman Reinke: I understand that, I was alluding to the footprint of the foundation was not being expanded.
Member Antosiak: Just a comment, I would suggest that the petitioner take a look at the lot coverage calculation; as Mr. Saven has mentioned it may be less than he has sought. Take a further look at it.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Meyer House only - Motion Approved
Chairman Reinke: This is for the house only.
Don Saven: It would be helpful for them to get in touch with the neighbors and see if something could be worked out.
Member Harrington: Is the status of the garage variance that we have simply tabled that issue without a further forward date.
Chairman Reinke: Yes.
Case No. 98-067 filed by Joseph Sutschek, representing Ramco-Gershenson Properties, Inc.
Joseph Sutschek, representing Ramco-Gershenson Properties, Inc., is wishing to develop a regional shopping center with two (2) free standing restaurants on 71.23 acres, located west of Donelson Drive and south of 12 Mile Road, four (4) variances will be required.
Joseph Sutschek was present and duly sworn.
Joseph Sutschek: I represent Ramco-Gershenson. We are really pleased to present our third major investment in the City of Novi. We own West Oaks I and West Oaks II. I was here about a year and a half ago with the renovating plans that we did for West Oaks I. We are thrilled with the way that it came out and we certainly hope that you are also. The project that we are currently working on is immediately to the rear of our West Oaks I and West Oaks II shopping centers. By way of orientation this is Twelve Mile Road on the north and Novi Road in this location, Twelve Oaks Mall, West Oaks II and West Oaks I and this is the 70 acres that represent the latest project.
Joseph Sutschek: I am pleased to present this information to you tonight. We received preliminary site plan approval from the Planning Commission on July 15th of this year. The 4 variances that I will be explaining are supported by the Planning Commission, by the Planning Consultants, and by the Citys professional staff.
Joseph Sutschek: With me this evening is Sue Newman and Roman Onaflosky who are design architects with Jim Ryan and Associates and Greg Bowman of Greg Bowman and Associates our landscape architect.
Joseph Sutschek: As I mentioned the project is 70 acres in area. Twelve Mile Road to the north and 1-96 to the south and Donelson Drive to the east and a new road that we would be building as part of the development to the west.
Joseph Sutschek: It is a very unique 660,000 square foot combination family entertainment and retail facility. There is a retail concentration in this location and the family entertainment in this location anchored by a 5,200 seat state of the art movie theater. 100,000 square foot Galleons Sporting Goods and Apparel Store; high end products. This area is an exterior outside courtyard with restaurants and additional retailers carried into the balance of the development at this location.
Joseph Sutschek: What is unique about this development is that it is an outside retail family entertainment center that has an overall design theme. The intent to encourage people to walk throughout the development and experience all of the uses. That is not typical of outside commercial centers. It is the unique feature of this development. One of the features that will make this unlike anything else that currently exists in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
Joseph Sutschek: The architectural design of the buildings, the landscaping, the selection of the tenants and even the design of the loading areas. For example, in the main retail area all of the service activities take place on the interior of the building. There are front facades of the building on all four sides. There are no rear of these buildings.
Joseph Sutschek: There are four variances that we have asked for. The first variance is in conjunction with the building heights. The ordinance restricts the height of the buildings in regional center zones to 45'. The roof lines of all of the buildings are within the 45' limitation. The height variances have to do only with architectural features that are design amenities that are integral part of the excitement that we are trying to generate in this development by combining the landscaping, the building facades, and the street scape. For example, this architectural feature requires a height variance. The actual roof line of the building are within the 45' height limitation and in other words the variance that we are seeking for the building heights does not add one square foot of usable space to this project. It all has to do with the amenities and the design features. This is the theater and we are requesting a height variance for the theater and again, they are part and parcel of the architectural design on the development. An architect if necessary can get into more about that detail later.
Joseph Sutschek: In terms of the buildings which require height variances, the brown areas are the portions of the building facades that relate to the request for the height variances. As you can see they are all architectural features, they dont cover the entire roof, they dont represent additional bulk and they dont create additional density. One of the reasons that zoning ordinances typically have height limitations have to do with controlling bulk and controlling density. The variances that we are asking for are consistent with that intent; they do not create additional density and they do not create additional square footage. They are small accent pieces that are integral to the design of the development. Integral to the draw and attraction to get people to stay once they get there and experience the entire development.
Joseph Sutschek: The total lineal footage represented by the accent features is only 17% of the entire perimeter of the buildings. In other words you go around the entire perimeter of the shopping center. The length of the height variances represent only 17' of the entire length. So the amount is minimal. They are only for architectural design features and without them the entire concept of the development would have to change to a more mundane and less interesting design without the attraction or the excitement that we are trying to build into the project.
Joseph Sutsheck: The overall height of the entire development is 39 1/2'; which is 5 1/2' below the 45'
Joseph Sutschek: The second variance has to do with the 2 free standing restaurants that are located on Twelve Mile Road. Your ordinance requires in RC zones that free standing restaurants be at least 1000' apart. I think that the intent of that regulation is to prevent the concentration of free standing restaurants in close proximity to each other and not really mix in as part of an overall development with other uses. That situation exists at the Town Center development but that is a different zoning.
You will notice that there are 4 restaurants along I-96 and obviously within 1000' of each other. They are located on the north side of the major access road that goes into the Town Center development and comes back out of Novi Road and to Grand River. They are not really a part and parcel of the shopping center. That is not the situation here. These buildings are 825' apart, 175' less than the ordinance requires. They are not separated from the shopping center by a major access way.
The parking lots are integrated with each other, the parking lots serve the retail facility as well as the restaurant and that would be the same for this side. The restaurants are also a part of the balance of the major boulevard entry off of Twelve Mile Road. They are as far apart as the width of the property will allow them to be and still meet the 100' setback requirement of the ordinance. We have 1250' of frontage on Twelve Mile Road, the setback requirements are 100' so that leaves 50' and conceivably we could build 2 restaurants here 25' wide and meet the 1000' requirement, but it wouldnt really make any sense. In addition to that, even if we attempted to seek a variance to go into the required setback because there is a major 16" high pressure consumers gas line that runs the entire length of the west end of the property which is in a 50' wide easement. You cannot obviously infringe into the 50' easement. There is a limitation imposed by the easement to how far we can separate the buildings. We believe that this plan is consistent with the intent of the ordinance. We are not trying to concentrate these restaurants close together and we have pushed them as far apart as we can based on the limits of the site and the limits of the setback. They are integral to the overall design of the concept and they are not separated by themselves with a major 4 lane roadway that prevents them from being integral with the development.
Joseph Sutschek: The third waiver that we are seeking has to do with the requirement of the 4' wide greenbelt that separates around the buildings. I believe that the intent of this requirement is to provide a physical separation between the roadways and the parking areas and the buildings. A 4' wide greenbelt around the perimeter of buildings within a shopping center doesnt really work very well for a number of reasons. It doesnt really encourage people to walk. It becomes a real problem in the winter with snow removal, ice and what have you. A lot of shopping centers have canopies and overhangs and it doesnt really work that well; it does very little to encourage people to walk. We have come up with a design that provides the separation between the parking lot, the roadway and the buildings by the use of landscaping, by the use of the treatments of the walkways, by the introduction of planters, by the introduction of benches. More of an urban design that integrates a number of landscaping pedestrian concepts that creates an attractive, pleasant walking environment. Again to encourage people to walk through the entire complex. We have developed 3 separate themes or districts to do that. One design is the classic district, the country walk district, and each one is a little different combination of plantings, pavement patterns, planters, landscaping and benches. Again all designed to create this friendly pedestrian environment.
Joseph Sutschek: You will also notice that through the middle of the shopping center is this convenient parking road that obviously is also heavily landscaped. It is one of the connections between this portion of the center and the other portion of the center. Again it is also designed to make it easier for the patron to walk through the entire development as opposed to having to go completely around it.
Joseph Sutschek: This variance is not a cost saving variance. The cost of doing the designs that I just described is significantly more than the 4' wide landscaping. Obviously the height variances that we are seeking are also a cost item. It also increases the cost of the project but it is part and parcel of creating the uniqueness and the draw of the development.
Joseph Sutschek: The last variance that we are seeking has to do with the landscaping around the perimeter of the development. The ordinance requires a 20' wide, 3' high landscape screen around the perimeter of the development between the parking and the street. Our plan intent was to do all of that through landscaping and berms. There are 3 locations where we cannot do that because of the existing topography. The existing topography is approximately 950' at this location and approximately 920' in this location there is probably about a 30' drop going basically this way. Obviously what we had to do from a construction standpoint is to take that and do that. You have to take some land from here and put it here. In the process of doing that, the grading requirements require that we put a retaining wall in this location and in this location.
Joseph Sutschek: The ordinance allows this screen to be developed a number of different ways. You can do it landscaping, berms, screened walls made of brick, or a combination thereof. We cannot do a brick wall here and here because that is the location of the gas line easement and you cannot install footings within an easement. A brick wall would require a footing. So we have designed what is called a keystone wall which is a series of stepping stones that does not require footings. The color will be the same as the brick that will be used in the development. As you can see, you can stagger these in steps and it provides area to build landscaping into the screen wall, which you cant do to a plain brick wall anyway. So in these 2 locations we have no choice but to use a retaining screen wall which does not require footings because of the utility easement. The third location is here for consistency we would like to use the same keystone screen wall with the same design of the other two. Again, the keystone walls allow us to maximize the amount of landscaping within the area that we have to use the screen walls as opposed to pure landscaping.
Joseph Sutschek: There is only a total of 690' of screen wall along the entire perimeter and there is 7090 linear feet around there, so it is a very small portion of the total perimeter that we would have these 3 screen walls. Everything else is being done with landscape berms.
Joseph Sutschek: Those are the 3 variances that we are seeking. They are all integral to the overall design of the development. Again, this is very unique to the City of Novi. Unique to the entire metropolitan area. Again, we are very pleased that we have preliminary site plan approval from the Planning Commission and that these variances are supported by the Citys consultants, the Planning Commission and the professional staff.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: I asked Linda Lemke to be here tonight just in case there were any questions in regard to the urban landscape design. If you do, she is here to clarify those issues. Because these issues were to be addressed at final site plan approval. She has been working with this company and I think that she can better attest to any concerns that you may have.
Vice-Chairman Brennan inquired of Linda Lemke: I would like to talk to you about items 3 and 4. First of all your impressions and comments about urban landscaping and then on item 4 the keystone wall. The whole issue of berming, does that fall within your realm?
Linda Lemke: Yes, it does. The modifications, I think, that they have made so far and without looking at the final plan but certainly at this conceptual level that would then follow through to the final site plan review and approval for the modifications for the 4' greenbelt are certainly appropriate in this kind of a setting. When you write an area of ordinance such as we did with the 4' adjacent to a building you learn as you go through where possibly some modifications to that language can occur in the ordinance. One of them is in a high pedestrian traffic area. If you can modify your hard surfaces to include pedestrian amenities that provide green space with planters and also areas such as different kinds of paving, or benches, or something that would make that area more attractive; I think that meets the intent of having 4' green space adjacent to the building which was to break up nothing but paving up to the building.
Linda Lemke: The berming; they are providing a lot of landscaping around the perimeter. They are running into a hardship that they do need to use a wall which is approvable according to the ordinance; but the ordinance only allows a brick wall. A keystone wall, we havent had much call for that in Novi although it is used a lot in other communities in some of their commercial areas and you have probably seen it used in residential situations. It is a good system, it is a concrete system, which is why I couldnt really approve it. It is not a masonry system. In this instance I think that it would work well and I think it would blend in well with the proposed landscaping. They are using an abundance of shrubs and trees in this development. So I would recommend that.
Member Antosiak: In your comments about the height request, you stated that no usable space was going to be created by the increased height request, but in your package you said that one of the reasons for additional height was the stadium type seating in the theater.
Joseph Sutschek: Typically that is the case. In this situation because of the talent that we have on our architectural staff, they were able to work out the stadium seating in the theater within the 45' height limitation. We could take off the architectural feature and still have the same theater; it wouldnt look as nice, it wouldnt provide the attraction. But in this case, because of their design talent they were able to put that together within the 45' height limitation. That is not the case in some other locations.
Member Harrington: Who are the 2 restaurants that you are seeking a variance for?
Joseph Sutschek: They are not identified at the present time.
Member Harrington: Are we talking a fast food, or something more upscale?
Joseph Sutschek: Upscale, sit down restaurants. We are not looking at any fast food restaurants.
There is a size limitation on the site plan of 10,000 square feet. We dont have specific restaurants identified other than they are not going to be fast food.
Member Harrington: Are there any architectural features to be associated with those 2 restaurants?
Joseph Sutschek: No, absolutely no. The height variances are all associated with the entertainment/shopping center portion of the development. They are not associated with the restaurants.
Member Harrington: Approximately how close or how far would the closest of these height features be to Twelve Mile Road?
Joseph Sutschek: From the center of Twelve Mile Road it is 450'.
Member Harrington: And from the southerly direction?
Joseph Sutschek: Approximately 850'.
Member Antosiak: I have several comments. I will take them in reverse order. Starting with number 4 and number 3; I think on the basis of Ms. Lemkes comments I could support variance with respect to these. I am sort of on the fence with respect to number 2. While I will agree that the petitioner has located the restaurants as far apart as possible on the width of the property the petitioner chose to locate them on the width and not the length which would place them in the ordinance. Lastly I made several comments earlier with respect to height variances, I would like to greatly amplify those comments with respect to this variance request on the architectural features. I dont normally like to comment on architectural features because beauty is in the mind of the architect. Unfortunately in this case I do not find this an attractive development and I believe that one of the reasons that I do not find it attractive is due to the so called architectural features. Even the petitioner has said that these do not add one square foot of usable space to the development so it is strictly an architectural decision to make. My personal opinion is that they dont add to the development. I dont feel I could support a variance for those architectural features.
Chairman Reinke: My comments are totally in line with what you are talking about because I can see the reason and the rationale between 3 and 4 for what they are doing. On 2 I am "ifsy and andsy". I dont see the reason or rationale for that. To me it is just something that is just adding something that it is not really warranted and I dont see a hardship there for a variance request.
Member Harrington: If we went through it, I dont recall it. Was there any community response.
Chairman Reinke indicated there was a total of 24 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.
Member Harrington: Where I am at, I feel extremely uncomfortable making a decision on what would be good or bad architecture for a commercial or retail establishment. I dont think it is in the purview of this Board and the only reason that it is because it is in the concept of height. I think it should be a planning decision, or a Council decision, or a special committee decision; but because it is height we have to make a call on it. My gut and that is all I can do is go on because we are going to have 6 gut reactions to the spires and towers and whatever they are is that I feel compelled to defer to the business judgement of the developer here in the absence on any impact on health, safety, welfare, the community or objection from anybody regarding this incursion into the vertical atmosphere. You are looking 20' of spires or turrets or towers or whatever and if the stuff is ugly I dont think it is my position to turn it down even though they need a variance to do it. What I would really have liked to have seen was some recommendation from Planning or somebody, we used to go with Brandon, how this fits into the overall community development that we are trying to do in Novi. How this impacts favorably or negatively or compares in contrasts with Twelve Oaks Mall; how tall are those buildings over there even though they are zoned differently? How does this compare and fit in with Main Street? We are being asked to make a decision here about a major development in isolation and without benefit of that information. I lean on the side of deferring to the architectural judgement of these people and if they are wrong they will lose a lot of money and if they are right they are going to make a lot of money. It is their call and they are not adding square footage to usable space. They are not creating a traffic or a safety hazard. There is no complaints about lights on at night. They are 150 yards from the center of the roadway. I support this variance for those reasons.
Member Antosiak: I understand the concept, I defer to the ordinance rather than deferring to the designer.
Khanh Pham: The issue before you is the height. The issue that we are talking about here and what you are alluding to is architectural design. Currently the ordinance or the planning staff does not have the capacity to make judgement on architectural aesthestic quality. We review it for basis on facade materials. However, when you are asking how do we judge that; we cant. We just defer to the applicant to try to meet the ordinance and if you look at the design of the project some of the height variances are within the interior urban landscape mall, within the section C that we are talking about here. So it deviates from the normal RC standard anyway. We cant reply architecturally would it be compatible to Twelve Oaks Mall. The zoning is similar, but architecturally the answer is no that it is not compatible but that is not the same development. That is our response. However, we could review that in a different ordinances to see whether we could have that capacity later on, but not right now.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: But to be clear, so that I understand it; Planning is supportive of this plan and only took issue with item 1 as to the height of these certain devices?
Khahn Pham: The planning office, we support the project in terms of this prelimnary site plan recommendation to Council. We reviewed it under our guide lines and we leave the height issue because in our zoning ordinance we dont apply architectural standards; only about facades. We dont review it under those basis.
Member Antosiak: If I understand Khahn correctly, Planning does not review or approve the overall design of the building ; that is left to the developer. They can only approve the facade the materials the structure and other such physical attributes to the building and not really the design.
Khahn Pham: That is correct and again, looking at West Village this is not your West Oaks. They are trying to do something different and we can only look at that and say yes it is different but we are not going to make judgement whether it is approveable.
Member Harrington: Not only did you not make a judgement, but actually Planning had no objection to these proposed height features of the development other than to say that you need a variance.
Khahn Pham: That is correct.
Joseph Sutschek: There is a couple of items. You granted a series of height variances tonight in other cases; I would submit our appeal is infinitely more justifiable than the 3 or 4 that you approved. Everyone that you approved created more square feet. Allowed the applicant to put more on that property than the ordinance allowed that person to have. That is not what we are doing. The request for the height has to do with the overall design, the overal uniqueness, the overall attraction, the overall difference that we are trying to build into this mixed entertainment, farmily, retail center. Not so much the specific design, that is a value judgement. The accent features are a part of the draw. Part of the feel. Part of the ambience, so to speak, that makes people want to stay. Without that feel, without that difference it becomes just another outdoor community center. I am not so sure if we would be pursueing it without the ability in our judgement to create that uniqueness. We certainly not going to do something in our business judegment that is going to hurt our existing assets. We have multi-millions of dollars invested in West Oaks I and II, we are not foolish enough to do something here that is going to take away from that investment. Lastly I would like to read something from the report of the consulting architect, as you know there is an architectural review of all of the site plans and this is a summary of after he was all done. "Regarding the unique archtitecctural character of this project," and this is the Citys paid indendent architectural consultant, "regarding the the unique architectural character of this project I would like to express my favorable recommendation for what I consider to be highly imaginative interpretation of what might otherwise be a traditional retail center. The project employs a Disney-esque approach with highly stylized and intricately articulated facades that transform architecture into theatrics. Hopefully the creative design and energy evident in these building exteriors will be carried through the enterior buildings. The project when completed will offer a shopping/entertainment/dining experience unlike anything heretofore available in Michigan let alone Novi." That is coming from the Citys paid independent architect. If you will give me a couple of minutes I would like Roman, the creator of the design and how it is such an integral part of the overall development and how important it is to us.
Khanh Pham: To expand on what the applicant has stated, during the Planning Commission Doug Necci, who is our consultant; who does architectural in terms of facade but we rely on him for architectural recommendations, did at the Planning Commission state that the height is a part of the feature and the theme of the development and was in favor of that. However, he is the closest thing that we have to an architectural expert.
Roman Onaflosky: I have one point specifically since it relates to the height issue. In approaching the entire complex design around the permiter we have taken great pains to introduce a dynamic of heights occuring throughout the entire complex and we often find ourselves with buildings that are only 29' high, 36' high; and we try to integrate the dynamic of those different heights around the entire complex and that is accentuated at certain locations where we have the varying height with the architectural features and the one very important thing to remember that around the entire perimeter of the site but for the Galleons roof feature as it approaches the edge that we are maintaining the parapet line within the height restriction.
Chairman Reinke: I can see the Galleon roof and everything else but I really dont see a reason to deviate from the ordinance by 23' to take it up to 68'. Aesthetics and everything else might be nice but I really dont see a hardship for a variance for that alone. That is only one persons opinion.
Member Meyer: I think that the rest of the statement that the gentleman was reading should be also included in the record and it reads "regarding the issue of aesthetic obscelance that is the more unique the style the faster that it falls out of style, while this probably respresents the most significant negative aspect of the Disney-esque approach here I do not consider this issue to be within the scope of this review (I preseme the applicant has given careful consideration to the life cylce cost of the facades)" and I think that should be included to complete the statement that he was reading.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I support 3 and 4, I have no objection with the spacing on the restaurants and I am finding the whole complex very intriguing, very unique. I think that the requirement for the height is a minimal incurrsion into the ordinance but it is not usable space, it is towers and spheres. I am really supportive of all of this request for variance. I would move that we consider these by running down 1 through 4 and seeing where the Board sits.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Harrington,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-067 ITEM NUMBER 4 BE APPROVED AS SUBMITTED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE STRICT INTERPRETATION OF THE ORDINANCE.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Item 4 - Motion Carried
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-067 ITEM NUMBER 3 BE APPROVED AS SUBMITTED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE STRICT INTERPRETATION OF THE ORDINANCE.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Item 3 - Motion Carried
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Harrington,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-067 ITEM NUMBER 2 BE APPROVED AS THE REQUEST IS WITHIN THE SPIRIT OF THE ORDINANCE.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Antosiak Item 2 - Motion Carried
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-067 ITEM NUMBER 1 THE PETITIONERS REQUEST FOR VARIANCE BE APPROVED AS SUBMITTED; IT IS A MINIMAL INCURSION INTO THE STRICT INTERPRETATION OF THE ORDINANCE.
Discussion on motion:
Member Antosiak: As it will be of no surprise to anyone; I will not vote yes on this and I think our discussion highlights the rationale for why we ought not to be making architectural decisions.
Member Harrington: I would concur on that.
Chairman Reinke: I concur with the architectural and the thing is that I really dont see a hardship for this necessity, so I will be voting against this also.
Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (2) Antosiak, Reinke Item 1 - Motion Carried
Case No. 98-046 filed by The Taubman Company
Continuation of case filed by The Taubman Company requesting a variance to allow an entrance sign 17'6" x 8'6" (148.75 sq. ft.) with height from grade to top of sign being 8'6", to be placed at the first mall entrance off of Novi Road, for Twelve Oaks Mall, 27500 Novi Rd.
Case No. 98-047 filed by The Taubman Company
Continuation of case filed by The Taubman Company requesting a variance to allow an entrance sign 17'6" x 8'6" (148.75 sq. ft.) with height from grade to top of sign being 8'6", to be placed in the median of the easterly entrance drive off of Twelve Mile Road for the Twelve Oaks Mall, 27500 Novi Rd.
Case No. 98-062 filed by The Taubman Company
The Taubman Company is requesting a variance to allow an entrance sign 17'6" x 8'6" (148.75 sq. ft.) with the height from grade to the top of sign being 8'6", to be placed in the median of the third entry drive on Novi Road for the Twelve Oaks Mall, 27500 Novi Rd.
Case No. 98-063 filed by The Taubman Company
The Taubman Company is requesting a variance to allow an entrance sign 17'6" x 8'6" (148.75 sq. ft.) with the height from grade to the top of the sign being 8'6", to be placed in the median of the westerly entrance drive off of Twelve Mile Road.
Cheryl Hines: I will be brief: I am going to catch us up as to why we are here tonight. At the last ZBA Meeting, you will recall that we were before you with a sign program that was part of the current renovation that was underway at Twelve Oaks, wherein we redesigned our logo and wished to incorporate it in all of our revised signage around the shopping center. The other aspects of the sign program were approved, however, there was discussion on the size and the number of the monument signs proposed at that meeting. Based upon the Boards comments at that time we requested a continuance to allow us to rethink our current proposal and we have done that. The comments that were suggested were that the signs were to large and there was also comments that suggested we might look at having monument signs at each of the entrances off of both Novi Road and Twelve Mile Road. So we are here before you tonight with a proposal that incorporates both of those comments. I would like to introduce Sue Gould of Levowitcz, Gould and Associates to present the revised sign package.
Sue Gould: We appreciate your hearing us again. I will be brief since I think that you are all familiar with the situation here. We are requesting variances for entrance marking signs at each of the locations; 3 locations of off Novi Road and 2 entrance drives off of Twelve Mile Road. Also in response to your comments at the last meeting, we have reduced the size of these signs. I would like to show you the panel that explains both the relationship between the size of the existing pylon sign that is on the site, the size of the signs that we proposed in our last presentation to you and the size that we have now reduced them to. This gray field is the size of the existing sign on the site; it is 209 square feet, it is 8'8" high and 24'2" wide. The sign that we presented to you in our last presentation is this size which is 20' overall which is 4'2" shorter than the existing sign and the same height. We further, based upon your recommendations, further reduced the sign now and what we are proposing is a sign that is 8'6" high it is reduced slightly in height and significantly further in length it is only 17'6" now compared to 24' of the existing sign; which makes it 6'6" shorter than the existing sign or approximately 85% of the size of the signs that we had proposed in our last presentation to you. It is actually only 71% of the size of the existing sign. It is significantly reduced from the existing size, less than 3/4.
Sue Gould: What we have tried to do and the reason that we have not reduced the height, is that in order to maintain the readability of the letters we needed to keep them at a reasonable size and we also needed to keep them 3' off of the ground because in the winter time when the snow is plowed it piles up to at least 3' and we need both for maintenance and visibility to keep the letters above 3'.
Sue Gould: These pictures show you what these would look like at each of the entrances. This is at the site of the existing sign, this is on Novi Road, these are at the 2 entrances at Twelve Mile Rd., the first coming east from Novi Road which is at the McDonalds and at the second entrance.
Chairman Reinke: All of the signs will be of the same size?
Sue Gould: That is correct.
Chairman Reinke: Would you go over the latest size again?
Sue Gould: They are 17'6" wide by 8'6" high and are 148.75 square feet.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: Can we go back to where we were last month and tell me again; we seem to have more signs this month, do we? Is that what we had talked about last month, having 5?
Sue Gould: Yes.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: So 5 signs, with a reduction of about 15% of what we had last time.
Sue Gould: Yes.
Member Harrington: Is everyone of the signs that you have shown us tonight actually in place in a mock up?
Sue Gould: Yes.
Member Harrington: The McDonalds one is there?
Sue Gould: Is that an existing McDonalds sign?
Member Harrington: No, is the proposed sign in place at the McDonalds entrance now?
Sue Gould: You mean is the mock up in place? No.
Cheryl Hines: The 2 new locations, we did not put mock ups in place. We cut down the 3 that were there to the revised size now. The pictures of the 2 new ones are .......
Member Harrington: Well then I wasnt going blind when I drove by and didnt see them, because they are not there.
Sue Gould: I am sorry, I didnt understand your question.
Member Harrington: I was specifically concerned to see the visual impact of the proposed new signs and if I was ambiguous last month and that is normally something that I am not accused of, I really wanted to see the new proposed signs becuase I wanted to get an overall feel as you drive around the exterior of the mall and I also wanted to be able to approach from the south on Novi Road heading north and to see how the size of your one mock up or rendering is going to relate to the one in the driveway north of there. I wanted to see those. I dont know whether the other Board Members did, but I did. I also wanted to see what you were going to do with relation to how that sign fits with the McDonalds sign at the Twelve Mile entrance because I have a remaining concern and first of all I have a concern about the signs that I thought were going to be up that arent up; I have a continuing concern over the relationship between the movie theater sign and the Twelve Mile Road sign. I am not satisfied that you are really accomplishing what you want to accomplish there and I think that there is an issue relating to that sign which is why I wanted to see the other signs. And they are not up so I didnt get to see them.
Sue Gould: If I could respond to your first point. None of these signs are visible from each other. In other words, if you were at any one location you could not see the other locations or any of the other signs.
Member Harrington: It depends upon where you stand. You have 5 lanes of traffic on Novi Road and if you are in the second lane or even the third turn lane you certainly can see those signs. You may not be able to see them as you first get off of the freeway and look forward because of the greenbelt and obstructions and the like and the existing huge sign tht you are going to get rid of, but once you are in the line of traffic you may very well be able to; but I dont know because they are not up.
Sue Gould: If we can go back to the site plan; they are set fairly far back from the road and there is also a lot of landscaping and this something that we have looked at which is why that we felt that it was important to have them all.
Member Harrington: The setback on the sign that is going to be replaced will not be any further a setback than the new one, though? It is pretty close to the road, it looks like 15 to 20 feet.
Sue Gould: No, it is 35' from the edge of the roadway.
Member Harrington: Maybe it is becuase it is so big that it looks close.
Sue Gould: The new sign is significantly further back in the throat of the entrance. It is basically intended to be a reassurance sign that this is the entrance that you can go through the out parcels and get to the mall at those drives.
Member Meyer: What of the question regarding the movie theater sign.
Sue Gould: You cant see it, it is set down. I can show you on the plan where it is.
Cheryl Hines: The movie theater pylon is actually on the residual piece of property and it is not even in the median.
Member Harrington: Almost behind trees. My comment is that you are putting a new sign up there, I think that there is an existing problem with the movie theater sign which by the way says Twelve Oaks on it. I dont think that you are doing the best that you can for both the movie theater and the mall as a whole by simply putting another sign there. I do understand the directional importance. That is the first entrance way to Twelve Oaks Mall coming across Twelve Mile Road east to west. It is really critical that people know that. But, I think that you are generating some architectural confusion by having the 2 signs there. Especially a sign that is to some degree obscurred and the movie theater sign to some degree obscurred. You really have to crank your head to see what the movies are.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: To be fair we did make 2 requests. We did talk of taking care of signage on all 5 of the entrance ways because there are other road cuts and that causes some confusion so the merit behind having a sign at each of the 5 entrance ways is clearly for traffic control and the routing of traffic. We made a point on the size of the sign, there has been movement in that area and it is never as much as we want, but in contrast to what we have it is substantial and in contrast to what was last offered it is better. I dont have the same problems with the Twelve Mile sign that Jim has brought up and maybe reluctantly you have beaten me down. I am growing to accept what we have gotten to here. It is very consistent. It is not that overwhelming. I think that with the amount of traffic on Novi Road for a newcomer into the community or a new shopper you need to know where those roads are.
Member Meyer: I am just concerned about safety from the view point that I would really hope that none of the signs are going to be positioned in such a way as to cause traffic difficulty for a person seeing a car that maybe coming or in other words having a blocked vision.
Sue Gould: They have been reviewed by our traffic engineers, specifically with that concern in mind. That is why they are set back as far as they are.
Member Meyer: The height doesnt hinder that vision or perception?
Sue Gould: Your eye level when you are in a car is approximately between 3-6 and 4-6; so even if we took 2' off of the top it wouldnt make any difference for the concern that you are voicing. That really has to do with its positioning on the ground.
Member Meyer: It is reassuring to know that your traffic consultants have looked at this.
Member Bauer: I still dont think that they should have the signs, it cheapens the center. It is a lovely center.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Meyer,
THAT IN CASE NOS. 96-046, 047, 062 AND 063 THE GROUND SIGNS AS PROPOSED BY THE PETITIONER BE APPROVED AS SUBMITTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF IDENTIFICATION AND TRAFFIC CONTROL. THIS VARIANCE IS GRANTED FOR THIS APPLICANT ONLY.
Discussion on motion:
Member Antosiak: These are 4 variances for 4 signs, what about the 5th sign?
Chairman Reinke: They are allowed one sign, so the variance is for the additional signs?
Member Antosiak: Of what size?
Chairman Reinke: I am assuming that this sized sign would fall within the ordinance.
Alan Amolsch: What it falls under is the original variance. It is less than what was originally approved by the Board in 1977.
Member Antosiak: My only point is that absence and action on our part, could they put up a 209 square foot sign for the 5th sign?
Alan Amolsch: They could replace the existing sign that was approved by the Board for a copy change without making any structural change.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: That would have to go right where the original sign is, which would defeat the whole purpose of having to try to identify the Mall from Twelve Mile.
Member Antosiak: The point that I am trying to make is that we are approving through your motion 4 new signs of 148.75 square feet; they have an existing sign of 209 square feet; which if I undersand Mr. Amolsch correctly they could simply replace with a 209 square foot sign.
Chairman Reinke: Correct, but they are choosing to put up 5 of the same size, so as long as they are less than the original was....
Member Antosiak: My point is that is not happening under the motion that has been made.
Chairmn Reinke: It is not before us. We do not have the 5th sign to act on because it is not before us. We have 4 signs before us.
Member Harrington: I am sure that we would receive an enthusiastic OK that they would tie these 5 signs together.
Norman Hyman: I figured that there was a reason to be here tonight. Under the statute you can grant a variance on condition and you could therefore condition the grant of the variances on our reducing or replacing the existing 209 square foot sign with a sign of the same size that is before your approval. I think that will take care of your delimma.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Meyer,
TO AMEND THE MOTION SO THAT ALL FIVE (5) SIGNS IDENTFYING THE ENTRANCES INTO THE TWELVE OAKS MALL BE THE SAME SIZE, 17'6" X 8'6" (148.75 SQ. FT.)
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 98-050A & B filed by Huron Sign Co., representing Red Hot & Blue
Continuation of case filed by Huron Sign Co., representing Red Hot & Blue, requesting variance to allow A) a wall sign 17'6" x 4' (70 sq. ft.) and B) a projecting wall sign 6' x 4' (24 sq. ft.) to be placed on the building at 25750 Novi Rd.
Jim Anderson: Basically it is a continuation of last months case. We are asking for the same variances to be granted. One would be for the 70 square foot front wall sign and the other would be for the projection sign on the side wall of 24 square feet.
Jim Anderson: We did mock ups last month for the Boards review and at this time we would maintain the exact same case that we have had. The hardship is the setback from Novi Road being 141' which is a very deep setback. This business is in line with other businesses and they are not differentiated by being out buildings or separate free standing buildings. In addition to that they are very new to the area with hardly any awareness of this restaurant; an upscale restaurant that is trying to build brand recognition in the community.
Jim Anderson: What we see before us in the plans is a consistency of the building presentation that helps to build this recognition and this sign program is typical to these restaurant chain locations throughout the country and other states that have these locations. It is new to Michigan and it will be new to Novi and an exciting compliment to the restaurants in Novi. The Main Street Court is a new concept and we would like to separate some differentiation for people going by there and have some understanding that the identitiy and awareness is there and this is a place for ribs and Memphis pit bar-b-que type of food and set themselves off a little bit from the regular burger and frie routine that you would tend to run into.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch: This proposal was reviewed under our former ordinance. We are now under a new ordinance which was passed July 20th by Council regarding the TC1 Zoning District; so I would like to defer to Khahn as to how this fits in with the new ordinance.
Khahn Pham: The case before you is asking for 2 signs. The sign on the wall is 70 square foot. The new ordinance states that for every lineal foot you get 1.25 square foot of sign. They have 48 lineal feet of frontage and if you do the math it is 60 square feet. The extra 10 would be the variance request. The projection sign, before last month you did not have the principle or the basis to make or give your variance or to consider the variance. However, now after the approval of the ordinance there is a projection sign provision in the TC1 District. If they were to place the projection sign 8 1/2' above grade and no higher than 12 they would be allowed 10 square feet of projection sign in addition to their wall sign. However if they were to raise it above 12' they are allowed to go to 24 but whatever they ask for in terms of projection sign would take away from the allotment of their wall sign. So again, if they are allowed 60' and they as a preference prefer to have a second floor projection sign of 24' then 24 subtracted from 60 is 36 and that means that the maximum wall sign would be 36 and the projeciton sign would be 24 on a second floor. They approached me and they are aware of that; they are going to try for the projection sign betwen 8 1/2 to 12' from grade and that would give them 10. If they are asking for 24 the variance would be for an additional 14 square feet in addition to the 10 on the wall sign. Also in this new sign ordinance all signs in the TC1 District to go to the design review board. That means that the design review board will review the signs based on the guide lines in this manual, architectural design and not size; but whether it is compatible and consistent with the intent of Main Street Novi. In one aspect we are trying to move toward design of a sign rather than just the presence there alone. If you have any questions, I will gladly answer them.
Member Antosiak: Has this Board been formed yet?
Khanh Pham: No, it has not. However, members make up are there. One person from the planning staff, a City Council Member of Ordinance Review, a non-City Council Member of Town Center Steering and the architectural consultant who is the expert, probably Doug Necci, to sit on a Board that will use this as a guide line to review this first case, Red Hot & Blue when they come in for design criteria.
Chairman Reinke: I dont think that you make a lot of waves when you say that you want us to follow a trend from some place else, we dont follow anybodys trends. We are looking at a variance request for the wall sign of 70 square feet which is actually a 10 square foot variance. Now on the projecting sign, are we looking at a variance of 24 square feet or are we looking at a total sign of 34 square feet?
Khanh Pham: I would like the petitioner to clarify this. Where they place the sign is where we are going to make that determination. If they are placing it between 8 1/2 and 12 and they are nodding that is the case then the variance request would be for 14.
Jim Anderson: That is correct, and that is what we will do. Lower the projection sign to between 8 1/2 and 12 1/2' from finished grade; so the variance for that projection sign is only 14.
Chairman Reinke: It will be a 24 square foot sign, but the variance request will be for 14 square feet.
Member Harrington: When we considered this last month we were facing sort of a vacuum because City Council had not spoken. The ink is barely dry on the new ordinance and City Council in its wisdom and in conjunction with Planning and members of various community groups had presented a package by way of ordinance to City Council and City Council has spoken in terms of size, and in terms of projections, and in terms of numbers and a lot of other things that we may agree with philosophically or disagree with; but this ordinance is about 10 days old and I think that it would be irresponsible for me as a Board Member to even consider a variance under those circumstances. Maybe if there is some hardship later on down the road, based on having been in business for awhile that they have unique circumstances but for us to just go ahead and grant any kind of variance under these circumstances. Council has spoken on what they want on Main Street and that would be irresponsible. That is where I am at.
Chairman Reinke inquired of Alan Amolsch: According to ordinance they can have 2 signs, correct.
Alan Amolsch: Yes, they can now.
Chairman Reinke: So they could have a 60 square foot sign on the front of the building and a 10 square foot projecting sign on the side of the building and not need a variance at all.
Khanh Pham: That is correct I would also like to point out that when we made the Main Street TC1 amendment, it was based on the fact that the signs would be based on a zero lot line. However, if you look at the court building and we understand that there will be situations that would deviate from our intent; the court building is set more on Novi Road than on Main Street and if you compare the situation they are next door to the 5th Avenue Ballroom and they came in before the TC1 and got the variance for a wall sign of that scale. So now they are in a catch 22, they came in and then fell in under a new TC1 ordinance and they are in a location that the intent was for a zero lot line.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I disagree. When we sat with these gentlemen last month we told them that If you wait a month you not only may get 2 signs, you may also get your projection sign and by waiting those 4 weeks you are getting exactly what you want. I concur with Mr. Harrington, I am very uncomfortable about the very first case presented to us issuing variances. I think that you are lucky and your neighbors arent. The timing was just that. I am very reluctant to consider a variance request on 2 signs that have just been introduced.
Chairman Reinke: Looking at what is there and I drove by there last night and looked at it from both directions and everything; I really dont see a hardship in the situation that warrants those sized signs. I think it is very distinctive and it stands out very well. It is very recognizable. As they have stated for what they have come up with right now, we are going to turn around and grant a variance on the first case - what do we have the ordinance for?
Khanh Pham: Are you asking me to respond? Again, like I stated before, the intent was for zero lot line buildings. However, the court building in the design and the phasing of the Main Street development is actually on Novi Road which has setback considerations.
Chairman Reinke: I understand that, but it is highly visible. The building itself is a sign. The lettering on it tells us what it is. The building jumps out and grabs you as you go down Novi Road.
Khanh Pham: And that is why when they were making their consideration, 5th Avenue Ballroom has a 68 square foot sign.
Chairman Reinke: That has nothing to do with this case. This case is looking at this business. If we are going to look at that, then the next thing we are going to hear somebody saying is that Marty Feldman has a certain sized sign and I want the same one.
Member Bauer: Council has already increased over what they were before under the new ordinance, I cant see going against the new ordinance.
Member Antosiak: Yes, and since it has just been implemented if they wanted to make a distinction between those buildings in that center and Novi Road, they had the perfect opportunity to do so and chose not to. So from that perspective I have to share Mr. Brennans, Harringtons and Bauers opinions. I am very reluctant to grant a variance under an ordinance that hasnt even been in effect since our last meeting.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Meyer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-050A & B TO DENY THE REQUESTED VARIANCES FOR ABSENCE OF A DEMONSTRATION OF HARDSHIP.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Jim Anderson: I guess that I am confused. I can build a 60 square foot sign with a 10 foot projection sign?
Khanh Pham: Yes, as of tonight.
Case No. 98-059 filed by Melissa Randt, representing Adams Outdoor Advertising
Melissa Randt, representing Adams Outdoor Advertising, is requesting a variance to allow an off-premise (billboard) ground pole sign 25' x 12' (300 sq. ft.) with height from grade to top of sign being 30' for property located on the east side of the railroad ROW on Novi Road between Grand River and Ten Mile.
Case No. 98-060 filed by Melissa Randt, representing Adams Outdoor Advertising
Melissa Randt, representing Adams Outdoor Advertising, is requesting a variance to allow an off-premises (billboard) ground pole sign 25' x 12' (300 sq. ft.) with height from grade to top of sign being 30' for property located on the south side of the railroad ROW on West Road between Beck and Thirteen Mile.
Melissa Randt was present and duly sworn.
Melissa Randt: We actually have 2 sign locations; Case No. 98-059 and Case No. 98-060. We are requesting the same variance for both locations; that being the height and the setback as required in the sign ordinance. We can meet the sign ordinance requirement as far as the size of the sign and also the spacing between other off premises signs. We are only dealing with the height and the setback. In the cover letter and I will just summarize the cover letter as to the setback requirement is 100' in an I-2 zone and the billboard signs are only allowed in the I-2 zone. Also these locations are proposed to be built on CSX Railroad property and the majority of the I-2 zoning in the City of Novi is near the railroad. The railroad has certain requirements as far as clearance underneath the signs for visibility and we use their requirements when we requested the variances so that we had some continuity so that we wouldnt just be pulling figures out of the air. We went with the least amount of a variance for height going from 15'' to 30' and that is to comply with their requirement for the visibility underneath the sign and that would be maintaining the 15' of clearance and 15' above the rail, so we actually have a sign that is 12' in height and 25' in length so we would meet that requirement as far as what the railroad is calling for the clearance from the bottom of the sign to grade. The setback that also being a 30' setback from the right of way on both Novi Road for the one location and for the second location which would be out on West Road. That again is in compliance with what the railroad requires a setback distance at the road crossing or at a grade crossing.
Melissa Randt: In the packet you will find the permits that we applied for that were not approved and what the requirements that we met and did not meet, as well as licenses with CSX Railroad and we do have their permission to build the structures on their property as well as their site drawings and their requirements as far as location of the sign and the proximity to their rails and the setback requirement at the grade crossing. I have also included the site plan as well as the City Assessors Map showing the road right of way on Novi Road, the zoning map and then the information for the second location on West Road which has all the same information in it and the only thing which would be different is the Assessor Map.
Melissa Randt: There are 2 locations and we need the same variances for both of those locations.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Don Saven: In the location on Novi Road, have you done any studies in reference to where the placement of that sign would be in reference to Trans X Drive, where people would try to get out of Trans X Drive?
Melissa Randt: Yes, it would actually be south of that, it is on the railroad property. It would be south.
Don Saven: What I am saying is that Trans X Drive sits a little bit higher than that location, you are looking down at a little valley at that point and I was concerned about the height that you have and where that sign would be that you wouldnt be able to pick up the traffic coming north bound.
Melissa Randt: Looking at also the setback requirement we would set back far enough and there should be that clear visibility from being able to pull out there and to make a left hand turn because on the east side of Novi Road the right of way is wider there because there is some allowance for the turn lane; so the sign would actually be set back farther on that east side of the road because of that road right of way.
Member Harrington: I am disappointed that we dont have a representative from CSX here tonight because I have great concern over this variance request. You seem like a nice lady and I respect what Adams Outdoor Advertising is trying to do; which is to lease signage from or the right to use these signs from CSX who will be getting money from this and then you are going to sell the advertising to customers. Correct?
Melissa Randt: Correct.
Member Harrington: If CSX here, I would ask them are these supposed to appeal or attract the visions of persons riding in the train or people driving in cars?
Melissa Randt: In cars.
Member Harrington: The purpose is to attract their attention while they are operating an automobile, correct?
Melissa Randt: Right.
Member Harrington: Have you driven both of these locations?
Melissa Randt: Yes.
Member Harrington: Are you aware that there are no guard rails on either location and in fact there are no guard rails in the entire City of Novi? Has Adams Outdoor Advertising contacted any other I-2 location for purpose of placement of these signs which would not need a variance?
Melissa Randt: We would need a variance in any I-2 location because of the setbacks. For a sign to be built 100' setback with a 15' height, it is virtually unusable. The railroad does do an extensive review of the location before we can even proceed with this variance request. That is why we made sure that they had actually issued us the licenses. We had to submit the information to them and they have to take a look at it and make sure that there arent any hazards and that they have enough property. We looked at some other CSX sites in I-2 zoning and they were not conducive and we could not put the signs in there. So they look at those extensively before they issue us the licenses.
Member Harrington: Did they explain to you why there are no guard rails in the City of Novi?
Melissa Randt: No, they did not.
Member Harrington: Do you have an opinion as to whether railroad crossings with guard rails are safer than railroads with just flashing lights?
Melissa Randt: Do I? I would think that the guard rails would be an added safety measure and why they dont do it in the City of Novi, I dont know.
Member Harrington: Do you have any sense or instinct just as a regular driver that the presence of billboard signs which are supposed to contain dramatic advertising and to have you read as you are operating an automobile, do you have any sense as to whether they increase the risk at these locations that do not have guard rails?
Melissa Randt: We have several railroad locations throughout the State and not all of them do have guard rails and there also is the other railroad companies that do have agents and they do build along the railroad rights of way. They do have the requirements that we have presented tonight as far as their safety requirements. We have built other locations along CSX Railroad, Conrail, and Grand Trunk and they do an extensive study ahead of time for the safety measures. They may even require certain extra precautions during construction of the sign such as a flag man and things of that nature. I have worked with Conrail, CSX on these sites. From that stand point there hasnt been anything that substantiates the sign being distracting and causing accidents on the road or railroad crossings.
Member Harrington: These studies are done by CSX?
Melissa Randt: No, this is something that we do because it comes up. Naturally people think that you are going to look at the sign. There hasnt been anything conclusive that says that they would cause accidents. We are wanting to build the signs because we have a simple demand for advertising in the area and from the agenda tonight it looks like there is quite bit of new business development which then we get a demand for advertising. We just dont go and pick out a site just for the heck of it. We do try and look for demand and rationale behind that.
Member Antosiak: Having dealt with CSX in particular on access issues and crossing issues, I can attest to their scrutiny and difficulty in negotiations. So, I dont believe that it is necessary for them to have a representative here tonight, unless we want to talk about other issues. That being said, I cant support this variances because I think that the structure of the Novi Ordinance to billboard signs is very specific and very direct and it clear that the City has taken a position as to the fact that it strictly wants to limit the location of billboard signs within the City. I think that our granting of a variance in cases like this is in direct conflict with the ordinance and I think that Mr. Harrington has pointed out some particular thorny potential public safety issues also with the respect of granting this variance.
Chairman Reinke: As we are at this point lets address Case No. 98-059 there were 7 Notices sent to adjacent property owners and there was no written response received.
Chairman Reinke: In Case No. 98-060 there was a total of 4 Notices sent to adjacent property owners and there was 2 written responses received, both voicing objection. Copies in file.
Chairman Reinke: I really dont see the reason to grant the variance request for this type of sign. It is not a business that is in Novi; it could advertise a business in Novi. But, to just throw additional billboardish signage out there I see no real hardship to do that.
Member Bauer: I cannot go for it due to health, safety and welfare of the City.
Moved by Member Bauer,
Seconded by Member Harrington,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-059 TO DENY THE REQUESTED VARIANCE DUE TO HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITY OF NOVI AS WELL AS INSUFFICIENT HARDSHIP.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Moved by Member Bauer,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Brennan,
THAT IN CASE NO. 98-060 TO DENY THE REQUESTED VARIANCE DUE TO INSUFFICIENT HARDSHIP AND HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITY OF NOVI.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Vice-Chairman Brennan: I will be brief. I talked to a couple of people prior to the Meeting tonight and I will put this out on the table. I have been approached by a citizen regarding this Port of John Ordinance and I have come to find that this ordinance was adopted by City Council and anyone in violation is ticketed by the Building Department. However, anyone who is ticketed and seeks remedy or wants to get a variance cannot get this from the ZBA and I have asked the question of where does this person go to appeal this ordinance that was adopted by the City. Am I right in understanding that this party should go back in front of City Council?
Alan Amolsch: Unless something was changed when the ordinance was adopted; the original proposal was that any appeal would have to go to City Council. It is not a zoning issue. They put the ordinance in Buildings and Regulations, Section 7 which is not anything that the ZBA has anything to do with.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: But, it is regulated and policed by the Building Department?
Alan Amolsch: Any permits that are required by the ordinance are done through the Building Department. If anyone has a problem with that they can appeal to the City Clerk and the City Council.
Chairman Reinke: I have one item MSPO Conference is October 10-14th. If we dont have any information, I would like to attend that. You might want to look at the MSPO Planning Book.
Member Antosiak: The reason that I may go is because Etta may collect an award for the City, and if she goes I will go.
Chairman Reinke: For those of you who have never gone to these, it is a good networking. There are a lot of workshops. It is geared more for Planning; but there are zoning issues. I have met a lot of people from various communities and I have learned a lot from them in talking about their issues and things of that nature. So you might want to give it some consideration.
The Meeting was adjourned at 11:45 p.m.
Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan