REGULAR MEETING ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS CITY OF NOVI
CIVIC CENTER 45175 TEN MILE RD.
Tuesday May 4, 1999
The Meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m., with Chairman Brennan presiding.
Present: Members Brennan, Antosiak, Bauer, Harrington, Reinke
Meyer (late 7:35 p.m.) Sanghvi
Also Present: Donald M. Saven Building Official
Kelly Schuler Staff Planner
Alan Amolsch Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Nancy McKernan Recording Secretary
Chairman Brennan indicated we do have a quorum and the Meeting is now in session. The Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the Novi City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of the Novi Zoning Ordinance. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to approve the variance request and a vote of the majority present to deny. We have a Full Board, so any decision tonight will be final.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Brennan inquired are there any changes to the Agenda as published? Hearing none. All in favor, please say aye. All ayes. Agenda approved.
Chairman Brennan indicated this is the Public Remarks portion of the Meeting and all comments related to a case on the agenda should be held until that case is called. If anyone wishes to address the Board on a matter or a case not on the agenda tonight, please come forward. (No one wished to be heard at this time.)
Case No. 99-016A, B & C filed by Metro Detroit Signs, representing Marriott Courtyard
Metro Detroit Signs, representing Marriott Courtyard is requesting three (3) signs A) a ground sign76 ½" x 31 ¼" (23.27 sq. ft.) with height to be 52"; B) a wall sign 1910" x 44 13/16" (87.4 sq. ft.) and C) a wall sign 116" x 48" (53.71 sq. ft.) for property located at 42700 Eleven Mile Rd.
Maurice Taitt was present and duly sworn.
Maurice Taitt: I am here tonight to present our hardship case in connection with signage for the proposed hotel located at Eleven Mile Road and Town Center Drive. I brought a little exhibit with me.
Maurice Taitt: This is I-96, Crescent Drive, Novi Road, Town Center Drive and Eleven Mile Road. We project that most of our guests will be coming in off of I-96, more than likely from the airport and especially at night. We believe that additional signage more than just the one that we are typically allowed by ordinance will be needed.
Maurice Taitt: There are 3 signs that we are asking for and one of them is allowed by ordinance. On the front of the building there is large building letters, Courtyard by Marriott sign. Then we are asking for a monument sign right here where there is an access drive that is about to be constructed to access the Courtyard off of Town Center Drive. Then on the north wall of the building we are requesting a wall sign to aid with some visibility from the freeway as people are coming in off of I-96.
Maurice Taitt: As I said earlier, we are allowed the one sign and we have elected to choose the Courtyard letters over the entrance as our approved sign. So we are asking for a variance to erect 2 additional signs, one being located here as the monument sign and the wall sign on the north face of the building. We have checked with Mr. Amolsch and each sign by itself meets ordinance so the variance request is for the number of signs rather than for square footage or height.
Maurice Taitt: Because of the relatively convoluted approach our guests will be taking to get to this hotel, which I have roughly outlined with my pointer, to just have one sign will be a major hardship. Finding a hotel and especially at night, is a major deal. In fact just today as I was driving around the City suburbs I had some problems because of inadequate signage and particularly when people come in at the end of a long trip and the last thing that you need is problems in finding your hotel. The Marriott is pleased to be a part of the business community in Novi and I am sure that the City of Novi would prefer that the guests stay at this hotel rather than to have them take the room tax revenue elsewhere. Even though we will have published directions to the hotel in our brochures, at night especially; because this happened to me more than once, we need every help that we can get to assist people, especially older people, or people who are here for the first time. You need whatever help you can get to find the hotel.
Maurice Taitt: Consequently our plan of attack was to give some people some opportunity at night to at least see a wall sign from the freeway, then at least they will know that they are in the right area. When they turn off of Novi Road and make the turn onto Crescent and then the right turn onto Town Center Drive, these 2 lots here right here are vacant now; but the owner of these 2 lots is the one from who we purchased our land and I happen to know that they are in the process of site planning on these 2 lots. One for a hotel use and I am not sure what the other would be and when those projects are developed this will make this monument sign absolutely necessary, especially at night; in the day time it is not as bad; to be able to know that they are in the right place. You have a guest coming in at 11 or 12 oclock at night after a long after a long day and they need to see where they are going.
Maurice Taitt: We really feel strongly that to only have one sign it would be a major hardship for hotel guests and consequently for us as the hotel operator.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 14 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Kelly Schuler had no comment.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Which is the largest sign and where about is it going to be?
Maurice Taitt: The largest sign is the Courtyard letter sign on the building right over the entrance.
Member Reinke: That is noted on your application as being sign "B", correct? We have 3 signs listed on here; A) a ground sign 76", B) a wall sign that is 87.4 square feet and C) a wall sign 53.71 sq. ft.
Maurice Taitt: That is correct.
Member Reinke: So really, sign "B" by ordinance you are allowed, correct?
Maurice Taitt: Yes, that is correct.
Member Reinke: So we are considering additional signs which are noted as sign "A" and sign "C", which is on the rear of the building to where it is located.
Maurice Taitt: Yes, one is on the north elevation and then the monument sign at the access drive.
Member Harrington: I really like your sign package. I think it accomplishes what you want to accomplish with a minimum of intrusion of our sign environment here in Novi. The only question that I have for you is that I am particularly fond of the LakePointe Office building sign. Are you familiar with that? It is a ground monument sign which is parallel to Crescent Boulevard.
Maurice Taitt: Is that located at the corner of the property?
Member Harrington: Yes, it is the office building that is right next to you. It is a brick ground monument sign and I think it is very attractive and my thought as I drove by there and I went by there at least a half a dozen times since our last meeting; but my thought was that I think that a ground monument sign similar to what you are asking for here and your sign is like down in the valley and up a little bit and I dont think that it is as attractive as the LakePointe sign and my thought is that is if you were to make a sign that is similar to that I think that it is more consistent with what you are trying to accomplish; but I am not going to vote no in your request because of that. That is my reaction as I drove by. I do not think that the sign down there is as visible as you want it to be.
Maurice Taitt: Are you talking about the monument sign?
Member Harrington: Yes, that is the only sign that I am concerned about; because you are at right angles to the street rather than being up on the street and there is some pine trees on that berm. I am only telling you what my reaction is and that is if you duplicated what LakePointe did, I think that it would be perfect; but I am not telling you that you have to do that. That was only my reaction as I drove by. I think the building signs on the walls are terrific and you should get some relief.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
Seconded by Member Harrington,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-016 A & C THE PETITIONERS APPEAL SHOULD BE GRANTED AS STATED DUE TO A DISTANCE AWAY FROM WHERE HE IS LOCATED AND ALSO THE HARDSHIP THAT HE IS SO FAR AWAY FROM A MAJOR INTERSECTION.
Discussion on motion:
Member Reinke: I have one question, I understand that there is some need for relief but the wall sign that is facing the expressway; it is a unique location but I really have a problem dealing with that sign and with trying to be identifiable to the expressway from that distance away.
Member Harrington: My thought is, and you are from Texas Mr. Taitt? I was recently in Texas north of DFW airport and I found that tasteful hotel signs at a distance from the freeway were most helpful in locating a hotel. This is a conservative sign consistent with what we are trying to do, so I can support that. But I understand Mr. Reinkes comment, that we are not beaming locations out to the freeway; but I think that yours is needed.
Maurice Taitt: We tried to stay within the ordinance for size of the signs.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Reinke Motion Carried
Case No. 99-024 filed by Lee Mamola, representing Santos Building
Continuation of case filed by Lee Mamola, representing the Santos Building proposing to construct a 3115 square foot building on a 0.46 acre site zoned I-1 and is in need of an interpretation and variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Larry Santos, Lee Mamola and Cliff Seiber were present..
Larry Santos: Good evening, gentlemen. We are back here a month later, it went by fast. We made some revisions to our plans as we have said that we would try to do. We have also seen the plans from the Planning Department. We have tried to get some variances taken away from our plan that Cliff will show you as we speak. I also tried very hard to get my letter from Mr. Palmiere in answer to Mr. Watsons letter earlier enough so that you could look it over and once again I apologize for laying that on you at such short notice last time. We think that we made some progress and I will turn it over to Lee to begin the procedure.
Lee Mamola: Good evening, Members of the Board. As Mr. Santos has alluded to, there is more correspondence in your packet from attorneys and I would suggest that if we could please put all of that aside for a few moments and I would urge the Board to please lets start this process on focusing on our question of an interpretation of special land use and whether or not a sound recording studio fits in 1901 or should it fit into 1902 of the ordinance. I can tell you that if should make a determination or interpretation that a sound recording studio is more aligned with the characteristics of 1901 that is it. We will ask that we be tabled. We will ask no more discussion on variances on this project. I believe that roughly since the end of April, we have new information. We would ask to be tabled so that we can prepare a new site plan and submit it to the Planning Department and the Planning Commission and I am very confident that we can develop a new plan without any variances. However, before we can do that we need to have clarification and interpretation on special land use questions. I would ask the Board to please lets start by focusing on that and should the Board feel that it is a 1902 use then we must continue our appeal tonight and we can talk about variances and all of the setbacks and all that goes with it.
Lee Mamola: I would remind the Board that in our presentation of last month we talked a little bit about why there are 3 tiers to the I-1 ordinance. 1901 or tier 1 is a very soft use relative to being adjacent to residential property. It is typically or it might even viewed as non-industrial uses or more typically it is an office use. 1902 is an industrial use and when it does abut residential property we have to take certain precautions in the design of that site, there is more buffering, there is special land use hearings and there is other things which must be involved and rightfully so. 1903 is a heavier industrial, some commercial activities and I am going to clarify them as a little less clean and hence they are not allowed next to residential properties. The whole concept of how the light industrial ordinance, I think, works very well in protecting the members of this community.
Lee Mamola: Now in our process of submitting a site plan approval or prior to submitting actually, Mr. Santos met with the Planning Consultant and we had no reason what so ever to believe that we were required to submit special land use application. If we were of that opinion, we would have obviously made such an application. I would like the Board to understand that we are not seeking any relief from having to file for special land use application. We will do so if necessary, but I really dont believe that it is necessary here.
Lee Mamola: In the review by the Planning Consultants it was determined that per their right to do so in the ordinance, that they may take certain uses which are not strictly defined in the ordinance and classify them or put them to the most appropriate designation. I believe that Mr. Arroyo, your Planning Consultant, called the sound recording studio proposed by Mr. Santos as a lab, experimental, film or testing type of lab; a tier 2 use. A testing lab should certainly be a tier 2 use; often testing labs deal with construction materials, other industrial materials, chemical materials and those should have some form of protection when they abut residential. A film lab, such as the one that is on Nine Mile Road east of Novi Road, they have a major film lab there and that obviously is an industrial use and should have certain protections to it. An experimental lab could be almost anything from cloning billy goats or mixing chemicals in the back yard and that certainly should be an industrial I-2 use or a tier 2 use. None of those types of uses are anywhere close to a sound recording studio.
Lee Mamola: In our letter of March 11th to Mr. Watson, we at least outlined the various characteristics of a sound recording studio. Were they more like office? Were they more like the characteristics of a tier 2 use? I think that the sound recording studio generally has a softer impact and hence it should be in a tier one level. We are talking about people who are going to be classified as white collar workers. You are talking about a business that is generally 8 to 5ish, about a business that typically runs 5 days a week and does not have to be on a main road; this one just happens to be. Compared to a tier 2 use, some of them have to be on a main road for exposure. Some of them require big, bulky buildings, some of them require business hours that go beyond 8 to 5 and some even work week ends. Some of those require significant loading and shipping and receiving activities and some recording studios do not.
Lee Mamola: Mr. Santos also did some homework and looked at other communities and saw that in many other communities, sound recording studios were listed in what is akin to our office ordinance.
Lee Mamola: I would remind the Board that unless something came in within the last few hours we have not seen anything what so ever from the Planning Consultant or Mr. Watson regarding an analysis or a presentation of facts supporting their opinion which they obviously have a right to have that this sound recording studio should be a tier 2 point 12 experimental lab kind of use.
Lee Mamola: Finally, I would like to remind the Board that on December 27, 1991 that Mr. Watson wrote a letter that was initiated for another reason; but he wrote a letter essentially allowing Mr. Santos to operate his sound recording studio as a home business, in his home. You cant get much closer to adjoining residential than being in your home.
Lee Mamola: So we ask the Board to please perhaps make a decision on this interpretation question and pending that decision we may or may not have to go along with the rest of the presentation.
Member Harrington: I am sorry, Mr. Mamola, but I thought that I understood you to say that you will not be going on with the rest of your presentation in the event that a favorable ruling is made on a use issue?
Lee Mamola: That is correct. If you should determine, however, that a sound recording studio should be in a 1902 use and requires special land use approval then we will have to go forward with the various variances.
Chairman Brennan: I guess that we have the option of discussing this now before we continue on with the case.
Member Harrington: I would like some feedback; and I know that I was particularly concerned that we receive additional information regarding the use issue in the tier 1 or tier 2 as Lee has described it and I havent seen anything in my packet so presumably there is some City member here who can speak to that or we can deal with the record before us, that is my thought. I agree, I think that we should consider that issue first and then deal with the variance issues.
Chairman Brennan: Would you like to address Planning right now, to invite them up.
Member Harrington: I think that would be appropriate.
Rod Arroyo: I am with Birchler, Arroyo Associates the Planning Consultant. When we were originally approached regarding this particular use we looked at the I-1 district and the uses that are called for and as Mr. Mamola mentioned there is a 3 tier system.
Roy Arroyo: In looking at Section 1901 it specifies under item number 1 as a principal permitted use, office buildings, offices, and office sales and service activities and it goes on to specify associated with certain activities. In our opinion a sound recording studio is not an office building, it is not an office and it is not office sales and service. What else is permitted as a principal permitted use in the I-1 district? It states under number 2, no accessory buildings, structures or uses shall be permitted unless granted pursuant to 1902.14 and then under number 3 publicly owned and operated parks, parkways and outdoor recreation facilities. It does not include a caveat under this section, like you find in many other sections of the ordinance that specifies that uses of a similar character may be principal permitted uses in the I-1 district. You will find that in other provision in your ordinances when you look at other districts. You will also find it in Section 1902 which gets into the tier 2 uses and there is a provision that says other uses of a similar or no more objectionable character. So when we look at whether or not a use is permitted as a principal permitted use in the I-1 district, we think that the focus is very limited and it is limited to office buildings, offices, and office sales and service activities and parks. We do not believe that the sound recording studio falls into any of those specific categories so that leads us to the next tier.
Rod Arroyo: In looking at Section 1902, there is a wide variety of industrial uses that are specified in Section 1902, none of which specifically call out a sound recording studio. But there is a caveat under number 16 that says other uses of similar and no more objectionable character to the above uses. In looking at these we determined, and it is our opinion, that a sound recording studio could be permitted under number 16 in the Section 1902. When asked which use is it closest to, the closest one that we believe that it falls under would be laboratories, experimental film and testing; although it is clearly not exactly the same. But we feel that it is no more objectionable than the uses that would be specified under tier 2.
Rod Arroyo: We have had discussions in the past with the City Attorney regarding uses permitted within districts and when to apply the similar use specification and it has always been our impression in our discussions with the City Attorney that when a specific district specifies that uses of a similar character may be permitted, then there is latitude to look at a variety of other uses. In this particular case under the principal permitted uses in 1901, that latitude does not appear to exist. It appears to be very structured. I think the reason for that is the sensitivity of I-1 uses and the potential negative impact that they may have on residential uses. I think that when this was crafted by the Planning Commission and sent on to the City Council for adoption that they felt that the uses that should be permitted as principal permitted uses would be very low impact and that is why they were restricted.
Rod Arroyo: That constitutes the background as to why we believe that this should be tier 2 use or a 1902 use rather than a tier 1 use.
Chairman Brennan: Board Members, are there any questions of Rod?
Chairman Brennan: Then we can have some discussion amongst ourselves then of our own interpretation of what we have heard and provide Mr. Mamola some agreement on our side as to the application of which of these 2 sections that this particular building should fall within.
Chairman Brennan: From what I heard it sounds pretty clear that Section 1901 is pretty distinct and it doesnt give any option for alternatives, whereas 1902 does.
Lee Mamola: May I please ask to refer to 1901.1 where it lists various occupations; I think that is really the heart of our question is as we feel that we fall within the level of those occupations.
Chairman Brennan: Mr. Antosiak, do you have that in front of you?
Member Antosiak: Would you like me to read it?
Chairman Brennan: Sure, please.
Member Antosiak: Office building, offices and office sales and service activities for any of the following occupations; executive, administrative, professional, accounting, writing, clerical, stenographic, drafting, sales and engineering, data processing and activities related to laboratories, research and development, corporate offices and headquarters and office support functions such as conference rooms, dining facilities, photographic facilities and storage facilities.
Chairman Brennan: I will tell you where I come from; we hire these guys for advise and I am not a planning specialist and I am not an attorney and I dont like all of these attorney letters either.
Member Harrington: I dont either.
Chairman Brennan: Although it is handy to have one once in awhile. I tend to support Planning and the consultants interpretation of our ordinance; that is my feeling. I guess that I can make that into a motion, if there is any support and we can call the motion.
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer.
Moved by Chairman Brennan:
MY MOTION IS THAT I AGREE WITH PLANNINGS INTERPRETATION OF THE APPLICABLE ORDINANCE.
Discussion on motion:
Member Harrington: I have a concern and the concern that I voiced at the last meeting I would reiterate tonight that there was a considerable body of persuasive information submitted by Mr. Mamola on behalf of his client and I did not feel that the interest of the City was property reflected in terms of any input which is why I particularly wanted information, not only on the variances will a lesser structure or a different structure be permitted on site but with respect to data such as other communities and the information provided by Mr. Mamola about what other cities are doing and where they are located and the proximity of their buildings of similar nature and none of which we had any input from the City on to help us. I am troubled this evening because while I appreciate the legal interpretation submitted by Planning and I respect that interpretation that is not what I was looking for which is how I should interpret it. What I was looking for was facts. As far as I am concerned the initial threshold burden that Mr. Mamola presented last month has not been rebutted by any facts or any testimony or anything else; other than someone telling me what section 01 reads and what they think it means. Well, I am reading it and I can come to my own conclusions. So, I am concerned that we still dont have the information that I think that we need other than Planning telling us that they think it is an 01 case. There was a body of evidence that Mr. Mamola submitted and I was concerned that we didnt have anything from the City and then a month later we still dont have it. I dont think that I specifically requested Planning, I think that I asked for an independent architectural information or some expert as we are entitled to under our own rules of procedure that were recently enacted, we are entitled that information. If Mr. Mamolas information as he suggested to us is incorrect we are entitled to that. But, we havent received anything other than that Planning thinks this is 01 case and OK I accept that. But, I am troubled that we dont have anything further. That is where I am at.
Chairman Brennan: However, Mr. Mamola has made our job very simple by asking us just to rule on this one issue to begin.
Member Harrington: Depending upon how we come out on it.
Chairman Brennan: Any further discussion on the motion? Lets call the vote.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Harrington Motion Carried
Chairman Brennan: OK Lee, the ball is in your court.
Lee Mamola: Not for long, I am going defer the rest of the presentation to Mr. Seiber who was the person really developing the alternative site plans and he can carry it from here.
Cliff Seiber: I believe that you received in your packets a slightly modified site plan that we have prepared since we last met with you in an attempt to try to reduce some of those variances. I will briefly describe what the changes were that we made to that plan.
Cliff Seiber: (chart shown to Board.) This plan shows actually 1 additional variance and what we did was to slide the building back 5 feet and by doing so our rear yard distance is now 15 feet rather than 20 and the minimum setback being 20 feet in that district. But in doing that we provided an elimination of the width variance for the driveway aisle, I believe that we had a 3 foot variance requested on that and we also eliminated the variance for the 4 foot wide greenbelt strip along the front of the building as shown here. So we eliminated those 2 variances in exchange for one 5 foot rear yard setback variance. We felt that, especially with the configuration of the adjacent parcel which wraps around the back of this parcel and then there is another industrial building farther to the east, that a 5 foot rear yard setback variance really would not be an objectionable variance to the neighbors farther to the east. Also we have provided for a landscape island and the end island which was one of the areas that was noted as requiring a variance. We were not sure that was the case because the adjacent aisle is not considered a maneuvering aisle and actually it is provided per the Fire Marshalls request. But, the addition of that island also helped eliminate any variances needed relative to interior landscaping square footage requirements. So, we thought that by shifting this building back we did eliminate the 2 variances out front and the variance for this island and the interior landscaping.
Cliff Seiber: Also you received in your packet some information or a sketch that was prepared by the City Planning Department. We dont have a blowup of that drawing, but one thing that I would like to point out with that is that we have a 43 foot front yard setback because of the adjacent Andes Hills across the street a residential development. We were requiring a 43 foot front yard setback for that parking and on the Citys drawing they actually require a larger front yard setback of 51 feet. They, too, have front yard parking. The biggest objection that I could see to the Citys layout was that it provided for front yard loading. In having front yard loading across from the Andes Hills development, residential development, I thought that it would be quite objectionable. So, we didnt see that as a clear advantage. Also they were trying in reconfiguring the site to eliminate or to provide for the 36 inch high front berm that would provided some screening to Taft Road. But, however, in so doing then is required a clear vision variance because there has to be a clear vision area of no more height than 24 inches and of course, the berm needed to be 36 inches; so there is a conflict between providing for the 36 inch berm and meeting the clear vision requirement in the zoning ordinance.
Cliff Seiber: So, you can see that in our case I believe that we had 4 variances and the Citys drawing, I believe, that there were 3 variances. There was also quite a difference in the square footage. I believe that we had around 3300 square feet in our layout and they had approximately 1800 square feet; which is going to be very difficult to use with the amount of improvements that are required for this site. 1800 was going to be very difficult to work with. If we went with a second floor then that starts introducing elevator requirements and things that werent planned for in our layout and really not needed for this particular use.
Cliff Seiber: With that, and I wasnt planning on going over the variances that are described last time, but I did want to describe the changes that we are offering in this case if the Board is interested in looking at some other variances beside the ones that we asked for last time.
Cliff Seiber: With that, I will be glad to answer any questions that you may have.
Chairman Brennan: I dont know that we have had any further information from the public other than we do have a letter dated April 4 from an adjoining property owner, the Seiberts on Andes Hill Ct. (copy in file).
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: It was mentioned at the last meeting that there should be some, looking at this whole facility whether or not if there were no variances could a building be built on the site. That was one of the corrections that the Board asked and I believe that Rod could answer those questions tonight. As a matter of fact, we can get the overhead going here as he does the presentation. That was one of the directions that you gave to us.
Rod Arroyo: Thank you. I was asked by the Planning Department to take a look at this property to see what type of development might occur either without ZBA variances or with significantly fewer ZBA variances. What we did was that we developed some of what I call concept sketches and as I show these to you I would offer that one they are not site plans as we were not asked to develop full blown site plans but rather generalized sketches. Also, they are intended to show exactly what I have indicated, there has not been a financial feasibility prepared and associated with these. These are sketches to look at what some alternatives might be and what the impacts of those are in the relationship to the requirement of your ordinance.
Rod Arroyo: I am going to start off with what I call concept sketch number A. In this particular instance (north is up) this is Taft Road, this is the wetland that is shown. In this particular instance this would be a 1200 square foot office building proposed on this site that would be a principal permitted use, parking is shown in the side yard, the number of spaces provided would be adequate for an office building of this size. There would not be parking in the front yard. There would be room to put in adequate landscaping along Taft Road as proposed. The setback requirements for the structure and for the parking lot are, in fact, met by this particular proposal. There are 2 Planning Commission variances, if you will, that will be necessary for this to move forward. One would be encroachment of the building into the 25 foot setback from the wetland and this is approximately the 25 foot setback line, the Planning Commission has the ability, if they see fit, to grant a variance to that and to allow encroachment into the buffer area. The other is the provision in your ordinance which specifies that parking in an I-1 district shall be 100 feet from a residential district; residential district runs along the centerline of Taft Road and you have R2 zoning directly across the street. In this particular instance it is approximately 77 or 75 feet or so from where the parking starts to the centerline of Taft Road. Once again this a Planning Commission variance that could be granted to address this issue. So this potentially could be built without any ZBA variances.
Rod Arroyo: The next sketch that I am showing I will call number B. This is a slightly different configuration. We have 1332 square feet of office. Parking is also provided in the side yard. There would be one ZBA variance required for this and that would be for the 1 ½ spaces that project into the front yard, which is not permitted in the I-1 district. All other setbacks, including the building setbacks and parking setbacks, are met. This particular building does not encroach at all into the 25 foot wetland buffer.
Rod Arroyo: Concept sketch number C. This would require 3 variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. This is a 1960 square foot office building, principal permitted use. This would require a 10 foot rear yard setback, here instead of a 20 foot which is required. You would have to waive the loading space requirement; if you have over 1400 square feet in an I-1 district you have to have a loading space; a 10 by 50 loading space and that would have to be waived in this case and front yard parking for the 1 ½ spaces that project into the front yard. That is in addition to the Planning Commission waivers that would be necessary.
Rod Arroyo: This is concept sketch number D. This is a 1400 square foot office. We have a slightly different parking configuration. We think that no ZBA variances would be necessary for this. Once again, there would be some Planning Commission action on the encroachment into the wetland buffer as well as the encroachment into the 100 foot separation requirement for parking from a residential district.
Rod Arroyo: This is sketch number E. This could be a light industrial, it could be a studio use, it could be a wide variety of uses. In this particular instance we see that there would be 2 variances required. First of all this is a 2590 square foot facility. The way it is shown here, just for an example, it has a footprint of approximately 715 square feet. This side here would be open to a second level; it would basically be a 1 level area. This would be a 2 level component, where you could have office, warehouse and other related facilities. As I mentioned the total square footage is 2590 square feet. The 2 variances that would be needed in this case; assuming the provision of 3 employees which is similar to the level of activity that has been proposed in Mr. Santos application; you would need a 10 foot rear yard setback requirement. The zoning to the east of this property is I-1 and you would have to waive the loading space requirement for this particular scenario since it is over 1400 square feet. Parking setback requirements are met. All building setback requirements are met except for the rear yard. Once again there is adequate room in the front for appropriate landscaping. We think that the front yard is an important treatment area in this particular site because you have 2 issues; one is that you have exposure to Taft Road in trying to make that as pleasing as possible and meeting ordinance requirement and you also have the fact that the residential development is directly west of this development on the other side of Taft Road and that is where the zoning is and that is what is bringing this use to the special land use standards and the sensitivity to residential across the street we think is an important issue. By providing the parking in an appropriate location in the side yard, you are able to minimize the potential impact on residential development and you are also able to provide more green space. Just as an example this has the predominant parking in the front yard, loading in the side yard and predominant green spaces in the rear adjacent to the I-1 and to the north which is also adjacent to the I-1. So we think that an alternative scenario which provides for alternative locations for the landscaping, alternative locations that more closely represent and adhere to City Ordinances is something that could be considered and we offer that to you for your consideration. If you have any questions we will be happy to answer them.
Chairman Brennan: Has any of this been discussed with Mr. Mamola?
Rod Arroyo: No, it was not.
Chairman Brennan: I seem to recall at our last meeting that we asked Planning and Mr. Mamola to get together.
Rod Arroyo: I was not aware of that.
Kelly Schuler: After the last meeting I talked to Mr. Santos and tried to, at that point, to schedule a time to meet. Because of the time restraints of a month, Mr. Santos indicated that he wanted something from us by that Friday. That is the very conceptual sketch that we provided, that is in the packet at this point. At that time, I explained some of the issues to him and he said that he would be taking it to Cliff Seiber so that they could work something out. Time was the factor and at that point he felt that he could take that to Cliff and hasnt been back in contact with us.
Chairman Brennan inquired of Linda Lemke: Do you have anything that you wish to talk about?
Linda Lemke: No, I am here just to answer questions.
Member Harrington: Lee, have you had an opportunity in advance of the presentation that we just looked at to see the concept sketches?
Lee Mamola: Not the color ones that Rod has presented. I saw them as you did, for the first time. We did see the sketch that Mr. Santos picked up from Planning about 2 weeks ago. For the Boards understanding we had about a 2 week turn around; and Kelly is right, to have information submitted to the Department to be included in your packets.
Member Harrington: Here is where I am headed. I was aggrieved at last months meeting because I thought that we had materials submitted at the last minute to us and actually during the course of the meeting which should fairly be responded to be, it could be responded to. Do you wish to the opportunity to intelligently assess the concept sketches that have been submitted to us this evening or are you prepared to deal with them and have us make a decision. If you wish additional time we will extend you or at least this Board Member would be inclined to extend you that courtesy because those are significantly different in terms of concept, square footage, and in terms of impact on our variance ordinances and requirements. If you wish an additional opportunity, I would be inclined to afford you that. If you want us to go ahead and you are prepared to deal with it at short notice; then we can do that, it is your pleasure.
Lee Mamola: What I would ask the Board at this time is that perhaps you could table us to a point a little later on your agenda tonight and we could come back and talk for a few moments while you carry on with other cases.
Member Antosiak: Before we do that, I would like to ask a question. It is one thing to take variance requests off the table when we remove them, but I am not sure that we can vote on the rear yard setback variance request at this meeting because it has no been published pursuant to ordinance.
Don Saven: This is why I was very specific with people trying to get together regarding this case.
Member Meyer: I wasnt here last month but from my understanding of what is in the packet and from what I have heard, I would think that it would be prudent to do whatever you need to do; allow us to look at other cases and then come back. The other piece that I thought I heard, is that you had some presentation that would not require any variances. I thought that I heard you say that, so if that is something that I missed here; please enlighten me.
Lee Mamola: Maybe I can tell you more about that when we come back.
Chairman Brennan: Why dont you give us a wave, when you are all done and we will get you back in. We have a suggestion to table this for a bit. I would assume that there is no problem with the Board Members.
Case No. 99-025 filed by Leslie London
Leslie London is requesting a 5" front yard setback variance and a 65" rear yard setback variance to allow for the installation of a permanent foundation under the existing nonconforming structure at 178 Penhill.
Leslie London was present and duly sworn.
Leslie London: Just to give you a little background about how I became the owner of this house. On the morning of November 18, 1997 I learned that this was an abandoned and it was being auctioned off by the Oakland County Sheriff. I had one hour to make a decision whether I was going to buy this property. There wasnt a lot of time to investigate much about it. I called the City of Novi, I talked to the Assessors office, I talked to the Building Department. I wanted to make sure that there were no problems with the house, no ordinance violations. I was told that there had been an inspection of the property and the inspector that I talked to read off a few things to me. He also faxed me the list. I told him that I would gladly do all of these repairs to the house if I acquired it. When I bought it, I didnt get any warranties, I didnt get a survey and there was no time for me to get any of these things. So I became the owner and I had to wait a long time before I could get possession of the property just under the law. I finally did acquire possession of the property and I wanted to begin working on it. It was then that I learned that there may not be footings under this house. I went out there with my workmen and we dug under the house and we learned that there were no footings. So, I told the City that I would explore what it would take to get the proper footings under the house according to code. I had done that. I found the proper builder who specializes in that and he can do this and it will be fine. But, when I was ready to start that the City asked me to have a survey done to the property. I had to hire a surveyor and it was just very recently that I learned that my property doesnt completely fall within the legal setback requirements. Now, on the agenda it says that I am requesting at 5" front yard variance but on my survey one part of the house from the front is 30 and I believe that the minimum front yard setback is 30; and if you do have a copy of my survey one side is 30 and the other side is 29.8. So, it appears that in the front that I only need a 2" variance and that is not totally across the property but only on one side. In the back, it is true, I am short. I do need a 6.3 variance on one side and on the other side it appears to be 29" from the back.
Leslie London: I am here to appeal to you, if you will grant me this variance so that I can proceed and do everything to make this house come up to existing code requirements. We will start with the footings. I will do whatever is necessary. I am going to work with the City, but I need your help for the variance or I am just out of luck. Thank you.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 15 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing objection. Copy in file.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: This is an existing building and it has been a problem child for a long time and now I believe that this lady is trying to renovate it and bring it back to a habitable building.
Member Reinke: I am assuming that you own both of these lots.
Leslie London: There is only one lot, just what your survey shows.
Member Reinke: It shows part of 118, 119 and 120.
Leslie London: I own part of lot 118, and all of lots 119 and 120.
Chairman Brennan: Do you intend to live in this home?
Leslie London: No, I was hoping that after it is fixed that my son would live in the house.
Member Harrington: Is one of the reasons that you would like to do these renovations is so the house doesnt collapse upon your son or whoever would be in it?
Leslie London: I was trying to explain the nature of the way that I bought it. I wasnt a purchaser in the normal course of business. I was never able or afforded the right to go through and have an inspection or do any of these things. I had to sort of rely on the Building Department. They had been in the house and the small list that they provided me there are just 6 things and it didnt seem like anything very serious. Then when I got in the house it does need a lot of work. I am prepared to do whatever is necessary.
Member Harrington: So, the answer would be yes that you do not want this house collapsing upon your son or whoever.
Leslie London: Absolutely not, I will do whatever is necessary.
Member Harrington: Have you seen, Ms. London, the materials that were attached to our packet? Including comments from the neighbor and the like?
Leslie London: No.
Member Harrington: It is powerful. The sense of the local residents there is that this house should be demod and demolished. It is not up to use to demolish it, it is not our power. Our power is to give you a variance or not. But this is powerful information and if you havent seen it you should see; the sense is that the best thing that could happen to this house is a bulldozer, not enlarging the nonconformity by allowing footings to go in; but on the other hand I am persuaded that it is not within our power to demolish this house and it sounds like what you are asking us to allow you to do is to make it safer for people who would occupy it. Is that fair?
Leslie London: I intend to do whatever is necessary and it wouldnt be occupied until the City has approved it.
Member Harrington: Like footings, so that it doesnt collapse?
Don Saven: It would require foundations in this aspect and that is the reason why she is here for the nonconforming issue. With the structural alterations to the interior of the building it requires her to put in the foundations that werent there before.
Leslie London: The problems with the house all have to do with the prior owner who abandoned the house.
Member Harrington: It is your problem too, because you bought the house.
Leslie London: I acquired those problems, true.
Member Harrington: Now it is your problem and now it is our problem; right?
Leslie London: Yes.
Member Harrington: And now it is not safe as it sits, correct? And that is why you are asking for help?
Leslie London: Yes, because I want to start with the footings.
Member Reinke: This is a situation where I have a real problem. I have a problem in having compassion for the petitioner, who went out and bought this basically almost site unseen. I dont think that is our problem. There is enough lot space that if they are going to rebuild, that house can be redirected so that they dont need a variance request at all. I see no reason whatsoever with the lot size and the space that is there, that it cant be rebuilt and reshaped to fit on the lot with no variances needed.
Leslie London: Well the configuration of the house is that and I mean the front door is facing the street and I dont have enough room in the back.
Member Reinke: You have enough room on the side to go that way. You can build it within the ordinance. If you are going to put a foundation under the front, you can put a foundation under the side and go that way.
Member Harrington: My thought on this one is that we have historically supported variances that have followed the footprint of the building and all this lady is asking us to do is allow for footings which will prevent the footprint from collapsing. I dont think that we appropriately should say to this lady that we should deny here variance and allow it to collapse. It is does, there may be other issues there. She is asking for a foundation, for assistance in allowing the stairs and upstairs floor to be rebuilt and resupported, load bearing walls to be sheared up, replace the exterior walls where necessary and the alternative is to have this thing collapse. I support the variance; I dont like the fact that for whatever reasons it was bought on late notice without inspection but maybe no one would have bought by now and it would be a wreck; someone had referred to this as a "crack house" I dont know maybe looking like one and not that it is, but looking like one. She wants to spend money and at least provide some foundation for the footprint. I think that this is appropriate.
Leslie London: The City is going to have to work with me in every step.
Member Antosiak inquired of Don Saven: Will you issue basically the equivalent of a certificate of occupancy before anyone can live in this house?
Don Saven: Absolutely.
Member Harrington: Can someone live there now?
Don Saven: No, it is in the process of renovation as it exists right now. Then she got involved in the structural element and the requirements for the foundation and that triggered the nonconforming issue as far as the longevity and the adding on to the nonconformity; based upon the fact that the structural part of issue is why she is before you to resolve that particular so that she can continue to take care of the building.
Member Antosiak: But when she is finished, the Building Department will have to determine ..
Don Saven: Exactly, a certificate of occupancy.
Chairman Brennan: We have always supported and encourage the renovation of the north end. I think that when you look at this file and the neighbors that are just livid with the condition of that house, I think that they would be in favor of action on our part that moves to correct an eyesore. She is willing to invest. She is willing to fix it up. I would be happy to give you my copies so that you can contact these neighbors to let them know what your are doing. I tend to support Ms. London' s request.
Member Reinke: This has nothing to do with the petitioners request this is just a comment from my observation of living in the north end of Novi for many years. A lot of times and especially the way that this property was acquired the minimum is done to meet the City ordinance then it turns into a rental property and just goes back down hill again. I see no reason to extend variances to have that recreated.
Leslie London: I will state that for the record that I have no intentions of ever renting this house.
Member Reinke: Thank you.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Antosiak,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-025 MOVE FOR APPROVAL OF THE VARIANCES AS REQUESTED BY VIRTUE OF THE UNIQUE LOT SIZE CONFIGURATION AND IN FACT OF APPROVAL OF THE VARIANCES WILL MATERIALLY IMPROVE THE STRUCTURE ON SITE AT PRESENT.
Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (2) Reinke, Meyer Motion Carried
Chairman Brennan indicated your variance request has been approved. See the Building Department for your necessary permits. Stop by and pick this up. Contact these neighbors and let them know what you are doing. It might make like a little easier around there.
Member Harrington: In fact if you demod the property it might really be worth a lot more money when you are done, but we cant make you do that.
Case No. 99-026 filed by Richard Mackie
Richard Mackie is requesting a 35" rear yard setback variance to allow for the construction of an enclosed porch on a rear deck for property located at 22481 Fuller Drive in the Royal Crown Subdivision.
Richard Mackie was present and duly sworn.
Richard Mackie: You have in your packets most of the relevant information for my application. I do have an additional point of clarification that may be useful that I may not have outlined in the packet and that is that only half of the deck and porch structure, I believe, is the problem. Half of it is an open deck, a regular deck which does comply with the setback requirements. It is the enclosed part of the deck that does not comply by the 3.
Richard Mackie: In support of the case, as I outlined in the packet, I believe that in order to be usable that we need this amount of space. We have the support of our neighbors and as you will note from the plan that we have no neighbors behind us at all; we only have neighbors on the left and the right of us. Both of those neighbors are in support and I believe that there are others that are in support. In fact, and I know that you dont like getting things at the last minute, but one of the neighbors even gave me an approval tonight before I came to the meeting which I can present to you.
Richard Mackie: So far we have received nothing but positive feedback from our neighbors. They have fully supported what we are doing to improve the look of the back of our house which does overlook the park which in turn is overlooked by a number of houses. Of course, there will be landscaping to go around it. As you can see from the photograph, at the moment we have a big blank wall at the back of our house and what we are seeking to do is to break that wall up with the porch and the deck. Obviously we could have gone with just an open deck as everyone else has done, but we would like to make the point that in our observations most people do not use those decks because they are just to hot. We believe that an enclosed porch, as many people in Michigan do, is the way to go to make it a usable space.
Richard Mackie: I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was total of 38 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was four written responses received all voicing approval. Copies in file.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: You will notice on the plot plan that he is not located in the 12 easement at the rear of the property, so he is OK in that aspect. Plus he is not infringing on the minimum 10 requirement for the side yard setback. I would not have any problem with this.
Member Reinke: I would like to commend the petitioner on an excellent presentation, with the drawings and information it makes everything a lot easier for us. I think that he has done everything that he can to fit within the City Codes and Ordinances. The unfortunate thing is that this is another prime example of how builders push lots to the maximum to prevent homeowners to do anything without coming before us for a variance. I have no problem with the petitioners request.
Member Antosiak: Just an observation on my part for the petitioner. You are far from the first person from Royal Crown to be in front of us because of hanging doorways.
Member Harrington: I have a question for the petitioner, not directly related to your request but your are here tonight and I am looking at the photograph of this area, how long have you owned your house?
Richard Mackie: Approximately a year and a half.
Member Harrington: Have you in that year and a half noticed any problem occasioned by water runoff associated with the elevated berming here in the middle of the so called park area?
Richard Mackie: You mean like water staying there after it has rained?
Member Harrington: Yes.
Richard Mackie: Yes, there is some water that stays there after it rains; along the perimeter of the park, not only on my lot but on neighbors lots.
Member Harrington: Lots of neighbors lots?
Richard Mackie: Yes.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-026 THE PETITIONERS REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO THE LOT SHAPE AND SIZE CONFIGURATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-027 filed by Charles Cracraft
Charles Cracraft is requesting a 9 foot rear yard setback variance to allow for the construction of a wood deck and a screen porch for property located at 23607 Wintergreen Circle.
Charles Cracraft was present and duly sworn.
Charles Cracraft: Thank you in advance for your consideration of the proposed 9 rear yard setback. I believe that you have in your packets the proposal with a plot plan of my lot and the permanent structure that we would like to build. In addition to that information I have also secured and have with me this evening a letter from my neighbor who resides to the east of me and would be facing the structure, of this approval for the proposed structure. I also have a verbal approval from my neighbor to the south. Being on a corner lot I feel that I am also running into being squeezed a little bit in my attempt at trying to construct this screened in porch.
Charles Cracraft. I also have approval from the builder. Again in addition to the information that you have before you this evening I also have the approval from the Wintergreen Association President, as well.
Charles Cracraft: Being on a corner it is our intent to maintain the structural and architectural integrity of the subdivision. We have contracted with Coy Construction, I believe a reputable contractor who has done a great deal of work in Novi. The structure will be maintained accordingly.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 19 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: As the gentleman has indicated this is a corner lot and that is what is creating the hardship for the individual. You can tell he has a setback on both sides that are consistent with the setbacks for the front yard and side yard.
Member Reinke: This is basically the same thing as the last case. To do anything more with the builder maximizing the lot out he has to get a variance request. I think that he has tried to do everything that he possibly can to minimize the impact and has done a good job of it.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-027 THE PETITIONERS VARIANCE REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO THE LOT SIZE, SHAPE AND THE CORNER LOT SITUATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Continuation of Case No. 99-024.
Chairman Brennan: We have notice that the Santos case is ready to come back. Please come back to the podium.
Larry Santos: Gentleman, I am amazed. I am surprised that after the tongue lashing that I took a month ago for laying something on you at the last minute that the Planning Department would do the same thing tonight. We did not see those plans. We have asked, and it can be verified by the Building Department, whether anything had come in several times. We were told that nothing had come in. So we did try to get a look at any other plans that there might be beside the sketch that I got a few days after the meeting last month.
Larry Santos: We would like to take a look at those plans. Viability is an important thing to anybody building a building. Not necessarily just whether it can be built, of course something could be built there. Cliff if you will give me the drawing I will show you what can be built with no variances. We dont believe that with no variances any plan can be built. Ive got variances. Planning Department also has variances on most of those plans; we will take a look at them. We would like to study them, we would like to analyze them and we will come back at you with what we think are the variances on those particular plans and we would like to be tabled until such time next month, as June 1st. That is the day before my birthday, that is a good time and I can walk out with a good feeling.
Larry Santos: We will analyze it, we will bring it back here to you and we will make a decision on variances at that time if you will accept that.
Chairman Brennan: Mr. Santos, I appreciate you giving some time to try to work out something a little bit better than what we have. The variance requests when it totals 10 and 11 is kind of tough to swallow even if they are minimal. Your are right, we did ask for the 2 bodies to get together and it is disappointing that it didnt happen.
Larry Santos: I am very available and if somebody had called me and said "look, we have 3 or 4 more plans, Larry; would you come in?" I think that they will agree that I certainly would have come in. I am in and out of this building quite often. I dont like the fact that they were thrown out at us at the last minute any more than you guys liked the fact that I threw a letter at you last month. I tried
Member Harrington: But Larry, it was a lawyer letter and you know how the City loves lawyer letters.
Larry Santos: But it was an opinion letter, which I tried to make that point last time. It was just an opinion letter. Beside that point; we will look at these plans. I think that I have a viable building. I know that I need variances. But we will take a look at these plans and see if they truly are or can be built. We dont see that without any variances that it can be done. So there are going to be some variances. If you decide that you would like to build one of these plans that they have presented, and these arent the plans obviously. But if you decide that there is one on there that you like, I am pretty sure that there is going to be a variance or two on any one of those. So, then my question becomes "well, if you need 2 variances and I need 4 why are my variances so different?"
Larry Santos: I also have a little problem with what is wrong with a recording studio on this site? Why I am lined up over and again and again tonight with these people? What is the deal about a recording studio? Does somebody got some kind of bias against a recording studio or something? It is hard for me to understand why everybody is lining up against a recording studio. It is a very soft use. It has no odor. There is no noise. It is going to be built out of 12 inch block. There is not going to be any noise. There is no chemicals. There is no heavy traffic. There might be some long haired people that come in and do some recording, like me. But in any case I guess that everybody is against a recording studio there. So we will look at the plans. We would like to come back June 1st if that is OK with you gentleman. We will give you our opinion of what these plans really look like.
Chairman Brennan: Board Members, do we have concurrence?
Member Reinke: We have a question.
Don Saven: Please. If there is any variances that are different from what was presented we will need to know that so that we can advertise for it.
Larry Santos: You mean on their plans?
Don Saven: No. If there are any other variances once the configuration is completed ..
Larry Santos: You mean on my plan.
Don Saven: On your plan, that is right.
Larry Santos: The only configuration is the 5 setback in the back and that does need to be re-advertised, I am sorry.
Don Saven: If there are any other variances that are associated that have not been advertised, I want to do this only one more time.
Member Antosiak: I would suggest, including those that you have taken off or exclude those that you have taken off.
Larry Santos: My consultants know how to handle all of that, I think.
Member Meyer: I just want to say that I am not open to giving 12 variances. I am open to giving 2 or 3; but not 12. The other thing is that I have been a singing artist and a member of the American Federation of Musicians for a number of years, so this is definitely one Board Member who would be supportive of a recording studio. So, it is not like there is a prejudice here. What I do want you to know, sir, is I appreciate the fact that it appears that you and Planning might be meeting one another and talking to one another. That would be a good idea.
Larry Santos: Like I said, I was certainly available. I am available at any time. You can get a hold of me and I will come in and see them.
Larry Santos: Once again, I guess that we will back here June 1st before you and my consultants will make sure that we get it in to you, Don, or to get it advertised as it needs to be.
Don Saven inquired of Nancy McKernan: What is the cut off date? Just in case we want to make sure you know.
Nancy McKernan: The cut off date is May 13, the Notices go out May 21st.
Larry Santos: I dont want you to get the wrong impression, to think that I am going to go for one of the plans that Rod presented. I mean, my guys presented plans like that too; 1200 square foot with one parking space. Of course
Member Harrington: And no variances?
Larry Santos: Even that had variances. Was there one plan presented that had no variances tonight, from me or from anybody else?
Chairman Brennan: Lets move on. You are on the agenda for next month. You will be the first case. Now lets call the next case.
Larry Santos: Great!
Case No. 99-029 filed by Arrowon Pines Condo Association
Harold Rudolph, representing Arrowon Pines Condo Association, is requesting a variance to allow a second ground sign 76" x 34" (22 sq. ft.) for Arrowon Pines located on Novi Road between Nine and Ten Mile Roads.
Harold Rudolph was present and duly sworn.
Harold Rudolph: I am representing the Arrowon Pines Condominium Association in the quest for an additional sign for our complex. I put a copy of the original site plan for the condominium project and at the time the project was developed the right of way for Novi Road was 30 feet, it shows on my plan the proposed right of way of 60 feet at that time. However since it was only proposed the developer was able to encompass the entry and the previous sign that we had in a small island. The outlines that you see in red are the original 30 foot Novi Road right of way and the entry with the island circled is where our original sign was erected parallel with Novi Road so that either coming north or south on Novi Road you were able to see the sign. Unfortunately we had a automobile collide with the sign; destroyed the sign about 9 months ago and when we went to rebuild the sign low and behold now it was no longer a proposed right of way; it was an established right of way and to rebuild the existing pedestal sign it would have been inside of the right of way. We were not able to erect it in any other position because of the way the original design of the entry and we had no room to move or to expand the island to get not only outside of the right of way but outside of the setback. What we were allowed to do was to erect, looking southbound from Novi Road a wooden sign with the identification of the project and it now sits at the edge of the 10 foot setback. On this particular property there is a bermed area on each side and perhaps if I pass the pictures around it will tell it a little bit easier. The pine trees that you see here sit on top of about a 3 foot berm. We had no option except to mount that sign for the southbound traffic on that particular spot. Otherwise we would be putting it in somebodys yard which obviously we didnt want to do.
Harold Rudolph: Now our biggest complaint is that everybody that comes northbound, has no visual clue as to where the subdivision is because our sign is only good for the southbound traffic. So what we are asking is to duplicate our existing southbound sign on the north berm. It will be an identical sign and the entry will look exactly the same on both sides and it will relieve the problem, as you all know Novi is a tough road to negotiate. We are right across the street from the River Oaks project which generates a lot of traffic in the area and people complain "I drove right by and didnt see it". We have a number of our condominium homeowners with us tonight to help with this appeal and I think that each and every one of them has an experience in trying to guide somebody into the project when they are coming from the south.
Harold Rudolph: I also have 4 additional letters to give you voicing approval.
Harold Rudolph: Are there any questions?
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 89 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 10 written responses received, all voicing approval. (Copies in file.)
Bill Stevens: I was president of the Arrowon Pines Condo Association for many years and I am surprised that with our condo association you have that many replies. They dont like to write to often; but they do talk among themselves and they are very concerned with this. I personally have friends who very close to having an accident. As you get up in age and I am not saying all older drivers, because I am one of them, react; but they miss it and all of a sudden instantaneously they realize they went by and hit their brakes and then realize there is traffic behind. They came very close to a bad accident. Then in turn they went down to the Montessori and on the left hand side made the "U" turn through the school and then they turned back. I think it is pretty dangerous and I think that the Board will appreciate that.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Don Saven: As far as the location, you have a hydrant very close there.
Harold Rudolph: All that I can say is that we have duly submitted this to the Building Department and it was accepted by them.
Don Saven: Dont cover the hydrant.
Chairman Brennan: The point has been made that there is a fire hydrant, so leave access.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: There will be no signage in the island?
Harold Rudolph: No, it was a stone pedestal about 8 foot long by about 4 or 5 feet high and it was totally destroyed by an automobile.
Chairman Brennan: I will just make note that we have had similar cases or situations where we have granted relief because of traffic concerns.
Moved by Member Antosiak,
Seconded by Member Harrington:
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-029 THAT THE PETITIONERS REQUEST FOR A SECOND SIGN AS PRESENTED BE GRANTED DUE TO PROPER IDENTIFICATION OF THE CONDOMINIUM AND FOR THE PROTECTION AND SAFETY OF DRIVERS AND OTHERS ON NOVI ROAD.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-030 filed by Daniel Sommer
Daniel Sommer is requesting a variance to construct a 60 x 120 pole barn which is larger in size than the ordinance allows for property located at 28375 Summit Drive.
Daniel Sommer and David Snyder were present and duly sworn.
David Snyder: Dan Sommer, the owner of this property, is looking to build a 7200 square foot pole barn on his property. The property is 250 feet by 640 feet and is 3 ½ acres. The pole barn that we are proposing to build (architect rendering shown to Board) if the Board sees fit to grant the approval; will look something like this.
David Snyder: The Sommers property is this property right here on Summit Drive. The current home is where I am pointing and is near the front of the property, there is an existing driveway and there would be a "Y" built off of the existing driveway to the rear of the property. We have sketched in that the proposed pole barn would go into this corner of the property, but actually it could go anywhere in the rear part. The architect felt that this was an appropriate and good looking spot for it.
David Snyder: Why are we here and why do we want to build a pole barn? Dan is a hobbyist. He is a collector of rare automobiles. The automobiles are currently stored in a property which is well known in the City of Detroit; it is the old Packard plant. The City of Detroit is trying to tear down the Packard plant and has succeeded in doing a large part of it and they have told Mr. Sommer that he has to get out.
David Snyder: (Photos shown to Board.) This is the type of vehicle that Dan owns and is going to be storing there. There are approximately 20 of these. These are rare and some of them one of a kind cars. Security is a problem and the reason that he wants to build this pole barn is to keep them on his property at his home where they can be under his eye. The barn will not have electricity (we call it a barn, it is a garage pole barn) it will not have water and it will not be used for anything except as a large garage for the storage of 20 of these special collector type cars. The only reason that we want to move them is that if we dont the City of Detroit will have them out on East Grand Boulevard. They are putting some very heavy pressure on. The big problem is that these types of vehicles have to be stored in a safe and secure spot and the safe and secure spot would be under his back window where he could keep an eye on them. The property is 3 ½ acres in size and there are numerous other pole barns in the neighborhood, although I dont believe that there are any of this particular size.
David Snyder: Before we were here tonight, Mr. Sommer talked with many of his neighbors and I believe that some or more of them may have sent in a response to our proposal.
David Snyder: That is what we are looking for tonight and as I have said the building will be used strictly for dead storage of hobby toys. It is strange to call an automobile a toy, but these vehicles have long since passed their function of being used as a car. They are collector items and as I have indicated most of them are very rare and valuable collector items kind of like postage stamps or other types of collector items that cant be stored in the living room closet.
David Snyder: If you have any questions we would like to answer them, but basically that is what we are here for tonight. We recognize that the ordinance allows 2500 square feet and we are looking for 7200 square feet, primarily because cars use up a lot of room. There are 20 of them that we need to store.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 13 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 3 written responses received, all voicing approval. Copies in file.
Cass Cook: I am a neighbor that is going to be most impacted by this pole barn because my driveway would pass right by it. The rear of his property is where my driveway is. I have no objection to a pole barn which is normally the 2500 square foot. I have an objection to where the pole barn is situated on there because my driveway goes right along here and I will be looking at this pole barn as I drive in and out. I talked with Mr. Sommer, he suggested that he could move the pole barn somewhere here and there are trees so I wouldnt have to look at it; but I object to the size of 7200 square feet. It is a huge thing that I dont think that anyone would like to have to look at every day. I voice my objection to the size.
Chairman Brennan: But you are saying if he moves it to where he suggested you would have less objection?
Cass Cook: The 2500 square foot pole barn I would be willing to accept, except for the location that is noted on there. But the 7200 square foot one is a huge one ..
Chairman Brennan: And whether it is moved or not, you object?
Cass Cook: Yes, I object to the size. There are other pole barns there, but this is 3 times the size of the normal code requirements. So I am pretty much against it.
Mr. Ledbetter: I am at 28855 Summit Drive. I have a horse farm back there on 10 acres. This is a very unique little sub. There are large barns in the area that are bigger than 2500 square feet, I believe, and I dont see where this would be any objection to me or to any of the neighbors that I have talked to. We are all concerned to keep it a rural area like it is. There are 2 story barns that are in there, but everything sits so nice it looks like the country. What Mr. Sommers is trying to do is to set it back there and you cant even see it. The ground drops in the back, which is what I was concerned with, and his house is up on a hill. This barn that he is going to put in, goes down in the back. Nobody that I talked to in the sub has any objection to it.
Cass Cook: I do; I have an objection to it.
Mr. Ledbetter: OK, that is all right because I didnt talk to you; but the ones that I did talk to didnt have objections. I have no objection.
Cheryl Snyder: I dont know these people and I dont even know where Summit Street is to be honest. But, I have a couple of questions. Who is to say that there arent going to be more cars? Is it possible to put 2 smaller ones.
Daniel Sommer: That would be acceptable if that is what we decided. It is cheaper and easier to put them all in one barn. To make 2 barns then I would of course need 2 driveways which would take up more of my backyard. Yes, I am willing to work with that option, if I have to. This is the proposal that I made, but her idea would also work. One comment that I would like to make about the neighbor behind me is that his house is up on a hill and if you took the grade level from the top of his driveway across my property, the height of that pole barn would fall below the height of his driveway. It is really hard to get, from this picture, the way of the valleys and the hills. My house is on a hill and his house is even higher than mine.
Cass Cook: I would like to make one more comment. Other neighbors would not see this barn. It would not make a hill of beans to anyone else. But, I would see this thing every day. I see the other pole barns. There are other pole barns that they built behind trees, they are fair sized and I dont see them. This particular one, if it was 2500 square feet it would be acceptable as long as he had it behind trees where I wouldnt have to see it. I am the only one in the sub who will have to see that barn every day, because my drive goes right along side of it. Now, if I was some other neighbor and my drive wasnt there, I wouldnt care what he built. That is where my objection comes from.
Don Saven had no comment.
Member Antosiak inquired of Don Saven: If we were to approve this construction, what are the side and rear yard setback requirements?
Don Saven: This is not dealing with animals, if you had animals you are required to be 100 foot back from the side and rear property line. This stays with the height of the building based upon the size of the building with one foot for every foot of setback requirement. With accessory structures normally it is 6 and 6; but with this particular case it would be by the height requirement of the building.
Member Antosiak: My second question; would you consider this were he to request a permit to build it as a barn or a garage?
Don Saven: It wouldnt really make any difference it is for the housing of motor vehicles. The 2500 square foot rule would apply.
Member Antosiak: What would be the height of that building?
Don Saven: They were talking about 14 ½ but based upon the district that he is in, it is unlimited. Except for the 35 foot requirement for the residential district.
Daniel Sommer: I did measure the 2 pole barns on the north of me and the south of me and on the north of me it had a height of 19 feet and on the south it was 22 feet. I am sure that I can fall within those guidelines that they have already presented. It will not be any higher than what has already been established by the neighbors.
Chairman Brennan: I assume that you submitted these pictures that are in the file.
Daniel Sommer: Yes, of just other pole barns that are in the neighborhood.
Chairman Brennan: It is unfortunate that we dont have any real information as to the size of these, whether that is relative or not. Just looking at pictures, that is just all that they are.
Member Harrington: A couple of comments. One thought is that I would request that those pictures not be a part of the file and be returned to the petitioner, they are valuable items of property and I dont think that they should be available for public inspection. In fact, I am not sure that I would have paraded that list of valuable automobiles out here in the record and I am not sure that I am helping anything with my comments; but I wouldnt advertise anymore than you have to as it is valuable equipment that you have. Question: Do I correctly understand that the vehicles that you intend to store will be under your registration and ownership?
Daniel Sommer: Yes, absolutely.
Member Harrington: You will not be accepting rent either legally or under the table from other persons to store their vehicles?
Daniel Sommer: No, I can provide you with a copy of or a list of the cars that I own if that is needed and as I said they are stored in the Packard plant and they need to get out. There are several cars in the Packard plant and I am going to have to sell quite a few in order to fit in a building like this, but I have been collecting cars since I have been 8, with the help of my father, and it is time to down size it and hopefully bring them to the house where I will get more use for them. Being at the Packard plant is a 35 minute drive down to the plant and then 35 back up to my house. My house only stores 2 cars and I am involved in quite a few car clubs. I take cars to the Meadowbrook concourse every year. The Cadillac LaSalle Club has a function in Canton and I am constantly running back and forth to get the proper car for the show that I am going to. Of course this would help that problem that I have.
Member Harrington: One other question and then I have a comment to make on your petition. What is your drop dead date in terms of relocating these automobiles from the Packard plant? By way of example, if I were to want to go out there and I confess that I did not go out and inspect the site of the proposed pole barn and I am not sure that if I would have it would have been staked out; but if I wanted to see the difference between for example a 5000 which would be 100% larger than ordinance permits versus your request at 7200 what kind of prejudice would you face if we were to put this over to our next meeting on June 1st ?
Daniel Sommer: The problem that we are having with the Packard Plant ..
Member Harrington: Is that they want you out of there?
Daniel Sommer: Yes, we had an eviction notice for the first of February when we were supposed to be out.
Member Harrington: But, you have able counsel here, who can perhaps buy you another 30 days; but you have construction parameters too. Help me out, what is your drop dead date if I want to see this proposed rectangular dimensions of this pole barn and come back to you on June1st with my decision?
Daniel Sommer: As of today, which we have an attorney trying to stall us time, they have allowed us one week but we are still negotiating with the City. We were down there today and the City had set up a tent for some event that they were having to show people what is going on at the Packard plant and why it is such a great thing to tear it down. When it started there were 120 tenants and we are now down to 5 tenants. Some of the tenants have had their stuff moved out to East Grand Boulevard and within 2 hours everything was stolen. Of course, I dont want to be faced with that problem.
Member Harrington: You have insurance, right?
Daniel Sommer: Yes, but I dont want to get in a fight with the insurance company because they are going to say "you were supposed to be out, why werent you out?"; well .
Member Harrington: You havent started construction on your barn, what is the estimated completion time on the barn even if we were to approve you tonight?
Daniel Sommer: I am hoping that I could get the foundation poured within the next 2 weeks and by that time have the package ordered. As soon as possible, I dont feel that I can really stall another month.
Member Harrington: It sounds like you are not going to be moving those cars in there by the 4th of July, even if we approve you tonight.
Daniel Sommer: I would like to think that I am. That is why I am not going for any electrical. I dont need any of that stuff. All I need is a place with a concrete floor with a roof over the top to solve my problem.
Member Harrington: Then help me out, bridge the gap. How do you get between the one week drop dead date that the City has given you and your ability to drive those in? Do you have temporary storage lined up for these vehicles?
Daniel Sommer: Not as of yet.
Member Harrington: But, you intend to?
Daniel Sommer: I dont know that. The problem that we are having is financial. We have been in the Packard plant for 15 years and of course the rent is very reasonable. To find a new building, it is just astronomical. To move all of the stuff from one building to the next is just going to cost a double move.
David Snyder: If I can I would like to make another comment. The other 4 tenants have a different law firm than ours handling the Packard plant situation and they are in court every day and out of court every day. The long and the short of it is that they are stalling for as much time as they can get. The reason that we brought these pictures here is to, and I appreciate your comment, as to whether they would be renting any of the spaces out. This is just to much trouble and to much expense to rent out spaces that you can get $20.00 a month for. This is not a business venture, and again this is why we brought the pictures and I appreciate your comments also about the fact that we are making this public; but we have made that election so that the Members of the Board who are here tonight could understand that this is a priceless collection. I also appreciate your comment about insurance if they were stolen it would only be money. You cant go out and replace something like this, there isnt any more.
Chairman Brennan: I am always moved by people who have a problem with a variance request, like your neighbor here. Is there anything that you can do with this design that would appease him or make it less of an impact on his rights as a property owner?
Daniel Sommer: Saturday, I went over and talked to him about this. He came over and looked at the property and I told him that if there was a problem that I could move it somewhere else. I could pain it a color that you like; I could go beige or green or something that blends in. I dont have a problem with that. Also, there several trees along and behind it. There are the other 2 pole barns on the north and the south side, that I will be approximately even with.
Chairman Brennan: How far are you off of that property line?
Daniel Sommer: I will go any distance.
Chairman Brennan: How far are you right now?
Daniel Sommer: I dont know how far that it is, 30 feet maybe. I am not quite sure what the setback is from the City but I didnt think that I would have a problem with the setbacks with this being such a big space. Another thing is, that if I took a 40 by 60 and turned it sideways and I was 60 along the back; he is still going to see the same 60 feet along his driveway and the distance out is not going to be something that really shows. It is the back part that shows.
Chairman Brennan: I am just wondering whether it can go this way and whether there then enough room to put additional trees or something to block the view.
Member Harrington: Like screening of pine trees .
Daniel Sommer: I would think that there would be.
Chairman Brennan: Is that something that you can commit to tonight? That you can move it another 30 or 40 feet?
Daniel Sommer: Yes.
Chairman Brennan: Does that help you, sir?
Cass Cook: We talked about the location last Saturday or something
Daniel Sommer: And I thought that we were in agreement.
Cass Cook: The location and where he intends to put it is fine, my objection is to the size. The bigger it is the more I will see it. The smaller it is it will be covered by trees.
Chairman Brennan: His position is that he needs that size for his purpose and what I am trying to do is work for you, sir; and if moving it back makes it smaller and if he has foliage and some trees in between
Member Harrington: Lots of trees in between. Lots of brand new fresh trees that you cant see through.
Cass Cook: I have no objection to the barn itself, if he puts it in the location; the problem I have is the size. The bigger it is the more I will be able to see it.
Chairman Brennan: That is the whole gist of the variance request, the size.
Cass Cook: It is a residential area, it is not a warehouse area. I know that he has a special need to store his cars and stuff, but that size barn is just to large.
Daniel Sommer: Being a dark green I think that it would blend with the nature of the neighborhood. The one next door is dark green and he doesnt have as many trees as I do, but it blends; in my opinion, very well.
Member Sanghvi: My question is: In case of a fire how are you going to save these? How is our fire department going to get to your place?
Daniel Sommer: That could be a problem. In the 25 years that I have owned cars, I have never had a fire problem with them and the Packard plant there was no sprinkler system because everything is just so old there. I dont plan on working in the building so it is not like I am going to have tools to catch on fire.
Member Sanghvi: What about gas or oil? Isnt that around?
David Snyder: Just what is in the tanks of the cars. Sir, I think that I can address that. If you see the plot plan here you have Summit Drive and here is the home, there is a driveway coming in off of Summit Drive and that same driveway would service ..
Member Sanghvi: I know where it is, I was there this afternoon. I have seen the place, where he is located. My concern is that you have a very valuable investment here and it can go up in smoke in a few minutes before a fire engine could get there.
Daniel Sommer: There is a chance of that.
Chairman Brennan: Lets keep to the facts of what is before us tonight, the size. The variance request is for 4700 square feet more than ordinance permits.
Member Antosiak: One thing that I havent heard is what other alternatives that you have looked at for storage of these vehicles.
Daniel Sommer: We have researched other buildings, but to buy a building in the Novi, Farmington Hills is so very expensive and something that I really cant afford. Being in the back yard I can watch the cars and it is very safe neighborhood and I dont think that I will have a problem. When I first purchased a lot of these cars they werent near as rare. They were like used cars and it would be like buying a 1975 or 1980 car now; which has very little value. But fortunately I was able to pick ones that increased in value quite a bit. One of the things that about having it in my backyard is that I can keep my eye on it and I dont have to worry about someone breaking in and something being damaged by someone breaking in.
Member Meyer: How many cars do you plan on putting into this pole barn?
Daniel Sommer: I would like to keep a center aisle up the building and park them on the sides so that I am unable to take out any of the cars that I need to take out. Like I said that there is about 25 cars, that is what I hope to get down to; we have more than that now.
Member Meyer: I do appreciate that you have said that you are down sizing. That certainly has resonated with me as a willingness on your part to reluctantly let go of some of these that have become a treasure to you since you were 8 years old. That spoke to me and I want you to know that it will weigh in my decision here tonight.
Daniel Sommer: I appreciate that. You know it is a hard decision on which ones to sell. I havent made that final decision. I have some on my mind that I can let go; but I still havent decided exactly all of them.
Member Harrington; My comment is and every time I have a sense that I want to play lets make a deal then I smack myself and say that I am not playing lets make a deal anymore. But if I were to play lets make a deal, my thought would be that "gee, that sounds perfect for 5000 square feet, but not 7200", but I dont know this gentlemans actual parameters nor have I seen his cars nor probably will I ever. But my inclination is that we have been sitting regularly every month here for the last number of years while the Packard plant is being shut down and I would like to have the opportunity to see staked out what ordinance permits, which is 2600 or 2700 square feet. I would like to see 5000 square feet staked out and I would like to see 7200 square feet staked out and if there is an agreement on an alternate location different than what is on the rendering I would like to see those staked out in those locations. I would like the liberty to be able to come back next month and vote on this. If there are issues that are associated with this problem that are not of our creation, I am sorry about the hardship; but I would like to come back next month and look at how big this space is and get a view on the topography and have a sense of what landscaping may be permissible. In that view, Don, because these are lay persons with respect to these issues if they wanted to call someone and wanted to get a quote on landscaping and screening and shading and pine trees, can they work through Planning? What is their resource base between now and next month to get some sense as to what that may cost them if that is part of our condition that we approve it?
Don Saven: I think that we have 2 individuals that we can contact. It would certainly be Linda Lemke who was just here earlier on and I am sure that she would be able to work with the situation and take a look at what they have Also Chris Pargoff, the City Forester. I would probably deal with Linda Lemke in this particular situation.
Member Harrington: My reason for suggesting this is that this is not a modest expansion of ordinance, this is huge. This is doubled from what is permitted and I think that we should take into consideration not only the concerns of this gentleman here but also future residents; because once we give you this variance it is permanent to you as long as you own that property; and also future land owners as well and you could have neighbors moving in who are going to wonder what the 7200 square foot factory is and that could be a concern for them. I would like to see it and I would like to vote on it next month.
Member Reinke: I agree with Mr. Harrington. I think that this is something that we need to look at very crucially and very closely. Once we grant a variance for this sized building and show that it justifiable, once that variance is granted it is there. You want to look very cautiously at this.
Chairman Brennan: You have heard a couple of the Board Members and I will give my 2 cents, I am concerned about the neighbor. He is the most impacted. I would like recommend that you consider an alternate site or at least location; that you have more discussions with him to make him a little happier with the plans. And Mr. Harrington has a legitimate concern about granting a variance request 3 times that of ordinance.
Member Antosiak: I will add my comment. I agree with Mr. Harrington. If I can analogize the one or two times that we may have approved a sign, essentially triple the size of what ordinance allows we have deeply regretted it in the future. This is much more permanent than a sign.
Chairman Brennan: I think that we are working real close to a motion to table.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-030 TO TABLE THIS CASE SUBJECT TO THE ABILITY OF THE PETITIONER TO PROVIDE FURTHER INFORMATION BETWEEN NOW AND NEXT MONTHS MEETING. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SE IS A STAKE OR AN OUTLINE WITH FLAGS OR TAPE OR STRING OR SOMETHING FIRST OF ALL WITH WHAT ORDINANCE PERMITS WHICH WOULD BE THE 2500 SQUARE FEET, SECOND I PERSONALLY WOULD LIKE TO SEE WHAT THE SIZE WOULD BE AT 5000 SQUARE FEET IN WHATEVER CONFIGURATION WOULD WORK FOR YOU AT THAT LEVEL AND FINALLY THE ACTUAL VARIANCE REQUEST WHICH IS 7200 SQUARE FEET. WHAT I HAVE IN MIND IS LARGER EXPANDING RECTANGLES. I WOULD ALSO REQUEST THAT YOU MEET WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR AND DISCUSS WITH THE NEIGHBOR A SUITABLE LOCATION WHERE YOU CAN PLACE THESE RENDERINGS SO THAT WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT JOCKEYING AND WE CAN APPROVE WHERE YOU WANT IT AT THE NEXT MEETING, IF WE GIVE SUCH APPROVAL. FINALLY I WOULD REALLY LIKE YOU TO HAVE YOU TALK TO MR. PARGOFF OR THE OTHER PERSON REFERENCED BY MR. SAVEN REGARDING THE POSSIBILITY OF SCREENING BECAUSE I THINK THAT IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY IF I APPROVE THIS SUGGESTING SOME SCREENING IN THE FORM OF PINE TREES OR OTHER SUITABLE LANDSCAPE WHICH WOULD MINIMIZE THE IMPACT NOT ONLY ON THIS GENTLEMAN BUT FUTURE OWNERS OF ADJACENT PROPERTIES AS YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT IS GOING IN NEXT TO YOU. THAT IS THE KIND OF STUFF THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE NEXT MONTH; YOU DONT HAVE TO DO ANY OF IT, WE CAN VOTE NEXT MONTH EVEN IF YOU DONT DO ANYTHING; BUT I THINK THAT IF YOU DO THAT FOR US IT WILL REALLY HELP AND I DO THINK THAT YOU WILL GET A VOTE NEXT MONTH.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried Table to June 1, 1999
Case No. 99-031 filed by the City of Novi, Building Authority
The City of Novi, Building Authority is requesting a variance for building length for three (3) one (1) story building (building #6, 9 and 10) of a 175 unit Senior Housing development consisting of one three story building and nine one story buildings on an 18.65 acre site located on the southwest corner of Meadowbrook and Cherry Hill Roads.
Al Toumaala was present and duly sworn.
Al Toumaala: We appeared before you a few months ago with this particular project seeking some variances. At that time the plan was the site plan that you see before you now. (charts shown to Board). For orientation purposes this is Meadowbrook Road and this is Cherry Hill here and north would be to the top of the board.
Al Toumaala: At that time we had a central building that consisted of 2 court yards approximately 330 feet long and that was surrounded along the westerly edge and the south by 6 one story ranch type buildings. There were numerous variances that we were looking for and had to do with number of one bedroom units, densities, the length of the central building which exceeded 180 feet and also the length of this building. The variances were granted and we went along merrily thinking that we had a project.
Al Toumaala: The Authority, however, has changed its scope and has scaled the project down and we now have a project that looks like this. (chart shown to Board) What we have done is scaled the central building down from a 330 foot long building down to a little over 200 feet long, and we have reduced the number of units on the total project from 199 to 175. The central building originally had a 159 of those 199 units and the remaining 40 units were in the ranches. We now have 115 units in this smaller configuration, still 3 stories, and we have increased the number of ranches, the number of buildings from 6 to 9 and the number of ranch units themselves from 40 to 60. So, we have a total of 175 units in this particular scheme.
Al Toumaala: Also since that time, the City has passed a Senior Housing Ordinance. That particular Senior Housing Ordinance has addressed most of the concerns that we had originally in our first plan when we came here, except for one. That one has to do with the length of the ranch buildings. It did address the length of central building and it had language in it that stated if the building contained support services attended to senior housing such as meeting rooms, hair salon, and so forth that it would be exempt from the 180 foot variance. Therefore the central building now conforms with the present Senior Housing Ordinance. However, the ranch units do not contain central facilities such as dining and so forth as they are purely living units and in the reconfiguring of the project we moved this particular building from its original location which was over here on the original plan and moved it to the center portion of the site and then we have added 2 more buildings of an equal type or nature here which is internal to the particular site and here which is across from the church property which borders the southerly portion of the site. This is right across from the church parking lot which is at the rear of the church property. Those buildings are identical to the ones that we had originally except for the particular location and we have added 2 more of the longer buildings.
Al Toumaala: As you will recall, the site has some particularly unique constraints. This orange line represents a landfill line and that is an unbuildable area back in here. We are constrained and it is necessary for us to develop all of our buildings, parking, retention pond and everything that is associated with this development (including the 75 setbacks around the perimeter) and all of that has to occur within this portion of the site because of the fact that this is unbuildable in the sense of supporting structures.
Al Toumaala: We are here tonight, asking you to consider the variance on 3 buildings of the same size and nature that we proposed at the last session, which are 197 feet long and exceed the ordinance requirement by 17.
Al Toumaala: If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 102 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
Cheryl Snyder, I live on Cherry Hill. I went to meetings in the subdivision and have been at a meeting at Holy Family and I would just like to give you some background on what has gone on in this. I dont know if you can do anything about it but I would like to let you know that I get the Novi News and was very surprised to read that the initial plans that were presented to everybody have now been changed. People in the subdivision were not to happy about an entrance on Cherry Hill. That was supposed to be a gated entry with a key for fire and police. It floods and we do let you know that. The park that was supposed to be there was meant to be a passive park with little kids swings or someplace for you to walk through or get to the corner to walk to the video store or to Farmer Jack. It was never intended to be a big park and where they got the idea that people were going to flock to this and need cars to park I think that is way beyond what the property was intended for. If anything I would like to see it left as a totally passive area. We are talking about a small corner. If I understand correctly this little part up here is the park and they want cars and a parking lot in here. The goal is not to bring an outside area, I dont think, and this is not meant to be a city wide area. It doesnt have the room for it. It is not going to be a ball field or anything like that where people are going to drive to it to come to a park. If anything, it was presented to us that this is a little area, there isnt a park in our subdivision, and maybe the kids can go down there. Again, I dont know if you can do anything. I was told that there was a Planning Commission Meeting tomorrow night and I intend to be there because I thought that things were finalized with the way that we had things presented from the City and now somebody has gone off and really changed the nature of it.
Chairman Brennan: Well you are right, it has been changed and your are right that we cant do anything. We have in front of us a variance request for building length and that is the only thing in front of us. Your concerns are best addressed at Planning. You can stop at the City offices and talk to the Planning Department. You need to address this at Planning. They will go through the same routine, they will call the case and at that point in time you will have the chance to speak.
Cheryl Snyder: I think it has been finalized. Is there anything that can be done? They said that they want a park and they want parking. That is according to what the paper says. Now again, I dont know .
Kelly Schuler: Two weeks ago at the April 21st Planning Commission Meeting, Meadowbrook Commons was there and they did address the park issue and several Planning Commissioners wanted to see access to that park, not gated, with a lock that the fire department could cut. So they did make a decision on that plan. They have preliminary site plan approval subject to them getting the ZBA variances for the building length today. I know that the Building Authority and the group that is working on this project is going to be holding a session to inform the residents of the changes that have been approved up to this point.
Cheryl Snyder: That is the 12th? So we get to be told afterwards what is being done rather than be consulted first.
Don Saven: I think that you can be at the Planning Commission Meeting.
Al Toumaala: If I may take a moment. I have spoken the lady about this and I understand her frustration and her problem. We met with the residents of the Cherry Hill group a couple of times when we were planning this entire project and one of the big issues at that time was this particular emergency drive access at this point. If you will notice on the original plan we had that rotated up here and subsequently we moved it down as far as we possibly could which was down to this point. This area was always designated or meant to be a park that would serve this particular subdivision. The park has not really been defined in terms of its equipment or use and that issue will be dealt with Parks and Recreation, we are designating an area and that is all that we are doing at this point. However, in its wisdom the Planning Commission thought that this particular drive should not be only for fire and emergency which is what we represented to the citizens and which is what the citizens wanted. They felt that it should be a full blown driveway because anybody using the park might want to drive down here and perhaps park their cars and then use the park. If anybody was there at that meeting, I fought valiantly against that and I proposed some alternatives and I was defeated. This does turn into a 24 foot access drive. That is how it stands right now. I dont like the idea myself as it compromises the security of the project. It creates problems by bringing the possibility of cars and parking in here that dont belong in there, conflict with seniors who may have assigned parking spaces and a whole host of problems. But, it is out of my hands.
Chairman Brennan: And also ours.
Al Toumaala: I understand that it is not an issue on your agenda tonight, but I felt I should speak.
Cheryl Snyder: I suppose then that you dont want my comment on that either?
Chairman Brennan: If it relates to the building size sure.
Cheryl Snyder: Well when these notices are posted and I see them, I look at what is there and I decide based upon that whether I want to make a comment. If you look at that it looks like the park or the project takes only maybe on the top 2/3rds here, now there is 1/3 at the top and ½ across this way; I would like to show you where my property is. I want to show you where my property is and this is massive compared to this property. This is what was presented to the people to make their decisions. This looks like a little tiny thing, it was not presented particularly well. I think that either somebody cant make a map which they are in this area they should be able to or was it intended to deceive. That was my reaction when I saw this and I have never come to a meeting and gotten upset about things; but this bothers me. We went to meetings and we thought things were taken care of and now they are not. That is what I have to say, and I will be at the meeting tomorrow night then.
Chairman Brennan: When we are wrapped up here you might grab Kelly for a second or two.
Don Saven: First of all I would like to address this ladys comment regarding deceit. I sit on the Building Authority and for the amount of work that we go through to try to inform the people and to certainly be above board on every issue that we deal with because the City has to keep its nose clean in whatever it does. We are the representation. Being part of this, one of the concerns that we had certainly was affordability. Going back to the initial portion of this and I know that Jim has mentioned this as to what constitutes affordability and all of these other issues that were brought into light. We had to do something with the project. Certainly this has been an ongoing issue for many years and now it is almost there. One of the things was that in order for us to do something we had to take that big building and small it up and add more buildings to make this a viable project. Everybody was very watchful of this and concerned. In the interim we came in with a new ordinance that addresses the Senior Housing. One of the things that came about was the Planning Commission would have a right if it was a fact that this building had amenities to it or had recreation rooms or something along this line, where that building could be up to 380 in length. In this case it is only dealing with 3 buildings of which we granted a variance for one of those buildings at the previous time for the same amount of distance. Instead of a larger center building we have a smaller central building and we added length to additional buildings of 17 each and that is where it is at right now.
Member Harrington: Do I correctly understand that the variances requested will actually result in a slightly longer length on the buildings, 3 of them at 17 each, and in fact, however, the residential density of this project is being downscaled.
Al Toumaala: That is correct. The residential density has been reduced from 199 units down to 175 units total. We have increased 2 buildings in length and that building was originally that size that you gave us a variance on and it was located here rather than here and we have moved that. We are literally looking at an increase of 17 in 2 more buildings. In the course of reducing the size of this building we also pushed it back quite a bit if you look at the relationship of the 3 story building to the site property line here, the residential property line, in this site plan you will see the considerable amount of distance that we pushed that building back. If anything what we have done here is that we reduced the impact on the single family and buffered it with buildings of one story.
Member Harrington: The other question that I would have, which is more historical and anecdotal reason is that I recall with great interest the initial quote of what you anticipated the entry level rent per month on these units to be; and certainly that is not binding on you or on anybody else but I remember a figure that was quoted the last time that we saw you and I will probably ask you the next time that we see you; but right now what do anticipate the rate?
Al Toumaala: One of the reasons that this project changed as Mr. Saven pointed out and it changed in scope is that quite frankly we have increased the more expensive units so that in effect we can provide the lower level of rank for the smaller units in the main building which we are still shooting for $500.00 per month for the entry level units in the central building. The ranch units will be subsidizing.
Member Harrington: So overall average rents will have increased from the initial projections as we sit here?
Al Toumaala: I havent looked at the overall overage, but I think that you are right because we have 20 of the ranches and they are at the high end.
Member Harrington: But there will still be some number of units, as we speak today, that you still feel will be in the $500.00 range?
Al Toumaala: Yes and we have worked that with the Kathy and the Building Authority and those kinds of numbers Kathy has done a lot of surveys and she knows what the demand is and so forth.
Member Harrington: That is with subsidy or without?
Al Toumaala: We have increased the number of one bedroom units, and dropped the number of twos we had a ratio originally of almost 1/3 to 2/3. We had 2/3rds of the units in this particular project come from the ranches and units within the total building; 2/3rds of the units were two bedrooms and 1/3 of the units were one bedroom. We now have a 50/50 bench here.
Member Harrington: And with the ordinary person applying for permission to live there, would they have to be at an income level to get a subsidy?
Al Toumaala: I dont know if that has been established, it is out of my purview. I dont know the income levels or the limits for occupancy or if they have been established.
Member Harrington: That would make a difference on the 500 number, wouldnt it? I am astounded that senior citizen housing can be offered and represented to the public in a public body at $500.00 or less; it offends my sense of the reality of what is going on out there in the government and the world and if there is to be some subsidy or something that is associated with it that would allow someone to pay $500.00 that is one thing. I guess I will just wait to see it. I am interested. It is not something part of the variance tonight. But I know the number quoted earlier and I am hearing $500.00 today and I guess that I will believe it when Joe or Janet citizen can apply and get in there for the $500.00 per month. I dont think that it is ever going to happen.
Al Toumaala: There are other factors that work here. Of course the land was free. The construction will be bonded, which is a more favorable rate than the developer on the street can get. You will pay no taxes to yourself. So there are other factors at work here.
Chairman Brennan: So we are back to 3 buildings that need a 17 variance, per each building.
Member Antosiak: Isnt it 2 buildings?
Don Saven: No, the location of the buildings are different, so lets do the 3 buildings. We are not dealing with any changes in setbacks; we have the same amount of setbacks that we originally had on the plan, the landscaping is certainly going to be there; so there is nothing changed in that aspect.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-031 TO APPROVE ALL VARIANCES AS REQUESTED BY REASON OF LOT SIZE, CONFIGURATION AND THE REQUIREMENTS AND EXEGENCIES OF COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Cheryl Snyder: I just want to say that I have never been opposed to the plan and it is right in my back yard. I just dont understand how they have plans and then they get the approval afterwards and then we think that we know what we are going to have and it changes again. It just keeps changing. How am I supposed to know when to believe what they say.
Kelly Schuler: Please come to the Planning Commission Meeting tomorrow.
There were no other matters.
The Meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.
Date Approved _ _
Nancy C. McKernan