REGULAR MEETING Ė ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS Ė CITY OF NOVI
CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 TEN MILE RD.
Tuesday Ė July 6, 1999
The Meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m., with Chairman Brennan presiding.
Present: Members Bauer, Harrington, Meyer, Reinke, Brennan
Absent: Member Sanghvi
Also Present: Don Saven Ė Building Official
Heidi Hannan Ė Community Development Coordinator
Alan Amolsch Ė Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Angela Moncrief Ė Recording Secretary
(Tape was not started at the beginning of the Meeting, first case was in progress at the beginning of the tape. Beginning of minutes will be from notes of Angela Moncrief.)
Chairman Brennan opened the Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Brennan inquired if there were any changes or modifications to the Agenda? Hearing none, all in favor of the Agenda as submitted please say aye; all ayes. Agenda approved as submitted.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Brennan inquired if there were any changes or additions to the minutes of May 4, 1999 or June 1, 1999? Hearing none, all in favor of the Minutes of these Meetings being approved as written please say aye; all ayes. Minutes approved as submitted.
Chairman Brennan indicated this is the Public Remarks portion of the Meeting. Any comments related to a specific case on the agenda should be held until that case is called. If anyone wishes to address the Board on any other case or matter that is not on the agenda they should come forward now.
James Korte, 2026 Austin. Spoke about a letter written by the City Assessor, Glenn Lemmon. Copies given to the Board Members. He objected to the wording used in the above mentioned letter stating that the lot was unbuildable. Chairman Brennan said he would follow up on this matter.
Case No. 98-083A, B & C filed by Frederic Keywell, representing Art Van Furniture
Continuation of case filed by Frederic Keywell, representing Art Van Furniture, requesting variances to allow A) a wall sign 45í2" x 6í9" (305 sq. ft.) B) a wall sign 40í5" x 4í (161 sq. ft.) and C) a wall sign 40í5" x 4í (161 sq. ft.), for property located at 27775 Novi Road.
Frederic Keywell was present.
Case was in progress at the beginning of tape.
Frederic Keywell: There is so much construction going on that obviously it is necessary to tell the purchasing public that we are open for business.
Member Harrington: I am talking about the Art Van identification logo stuff that is behind the glass that you can see through as you drive by. Is it the intention to continue that as an advertising or marketing vehicle in the future?
Chairman Brennan: You are the sign manufacturer, correct?
Frederic Keywell: I am the attorney for Art Van and Mr. Rupert is the architect for Art Van.
Member Meyer: I am sorry, I did not know that you were an attorney; had I known that we would not have sworn you in.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: In the glassed area you have a little bit of everything in there.
Frederick Keywell: I understand what you are saying. I am not sure as to what signage is in that area.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: It is about half of the size of the glass.
Chairman Brennan: It is a big white rendering.
Member Harrington: Actually there is a separate, unique portion of the ordinance that Novi has which allows a certain portion of glass to be the subject of an advertising medium which I think is hideous and I think that it subverts the purpose of the sign ordinance. If it is the intention to continue using that as an advertising vehicle in conjunction with the hard signs that we are being asked to approve; that would affect my vote.
Frederic Keywell: I think that the signage that you are seeing now is the result of the construction project.
Member Harrington: Something is better than nothing and you have to tell people where it is at?
Frederic Keywell: It is a mess. The construction and doing business at the same time creates a major problem for Art Van Furniture. But you have to live with it or close down the operation.
Member Harrington inquired of Alan Amolsch: How tall are the letters on Circuit City?
Alan Amolsch: I can get that information for you.
Member Harrington: Probably less than 3 feet?
Alan Amolsch: I think that was 120 square foot sign variance there, too. I can go get that information for you.
Member Harrington: Please. I think that we will be chatting on this for awhile.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: You have such a beautiful building there and by putting all of these signs on it, you just clutter the building up.
Frederic Keywell: I know the intention is to have the building signs and I agree with you that the other signs are superfluous and are not the intention of my client. I do know as a fact now that there are major problems because of the construction.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I mean that the mock up signs are just to big.
Chairman Brennan: I think that in general while we see some movement in your reducing the number of signs, we still have a problem with the Novi Road sign that is 300 square feet.
Member Reinke: I even have a problem with the wall sign on the southerly side because you have 161 square feet and the previous sign on there was 120 square feet and very adequately identified the building and I can see no justifiable reason to increase the size of that sign by 25%. Understanding the building location it warrants a sign of some magnitude, but not of the magnitude that the requestor is presenting. Secondly the sign that faces Novi Road, again the previous variance that we granted was 120 square feet and was adequate to identify the business and the location and I donít see any reason to exceed that square footage.
Chairman Brennan: I think that you have heard from just about everyone up here and you can see where this is going. I will make a recommendation. If you would like to take 5 minutes we will call another case and you can discuss this with your parties and then when we are done with that case we will call you back. OK?
Case No. 99-030 filed by Daniel Sommer
Continuation of case filed by Daniel Sommer requesting a variance to construct a 60í x 120í pole barn which is larger in size than the ordinance allows for property located at 28375 Summit Dr.
Daniel Sommer and David Snyder were present.
David Snyder: Since we were here last time, we have done some experimenting with relocation of the building and we have talked at great length with the one neighbor who has been here before. We are not exactly in agreement although we are prepared to make some substantial changes in our request. The request as it stands before the Board right now is for a building 60 by 120 which would be 7200 square feet. We would like to amend the request and drop it to 60 by 100 which would give it 6000 square feet. We are perfectly willing to relocate the proposed building to the location that our neighbor is requesting despite the fact that it is not our choice, but we will be happy to do that. We would like to also amend our request to relocate the building to the other area and if I may I would like to show you a small drawing to show you the amended location.
Member Harrington: Before we go to the amended location, could you describe the location that is currently staked out on site which contains approximately 3 different rectangles of different colored roping; what is that? Is that what you want or is that what you donít want?
Daniel Sommer: No, that is the location that I agreed that would suit the neighbor and suit myself and then I roped it off in 3 different colors to show 2500, 5000 and 7200. I had Cass look at it and he agrees with that location.
Member Harrington: That is the location that you would like us to approve?
Daniel Sommer: Yes.
David Snyder: If I may, I would like to bring this up.
Daniel Sommer: This is the drawing that we used for Ms. Lemke when she proposed trees so it is the same drawing that you might have a copy of. The house is located there and that is where it was staked off for you to look at.
Member Harrington: I looked at it, that is why I was asking what the different rectangles meant.
David Snyder: I would like to pass this around to everybody.
Chairman Brennan: Is that the presentation?
David Snyder: That is basically it, we have been here for the third time and I think that you are all familiar with why we are here and how we got here and what we are looking for and we felt that the relocation and the downsizing would satisfy the Board and that we could go forward.
Cass Cook: I have discussed the building or the pole barn with the neighbor and I am still reluctant to have that size of a pole barn there; but I wish to compromise and I agree to the 5000 square foot building if it would be in the location where I wouldnít see it.
Chairman Brennan: I think that you mean 6000, it is 60 by 100.
Cass Cook: No, it was 5000 that I agreed to and that was reluctantly because he said that if I didnít he would put it out there in the pasture where I could see it. So we reached a compromise.
Member Harrington: He was just kidding of course?
Cass Cook: I donít think that he was kidding but I could live with a larger sized building in that location.
Chairman Brennan: So, what I hear is that we donít have an agreement.
Cass Cook: I thought that we had agreed to 5000 and beyond that I donít know.
Chairman Brennan: What they just have presented is a building that is 60 by 100 which is 6000.
Cass Cook: That isnít what I agreed to.
James Korte, Shawood Lake. Quick background, Korte Enterprises for the last 25 years has redone classic cars. My uncle was the first president of the Greenfield Village Old Car Club and specifically the founder of the Ford Mercury Classic Car Club. Old cars have been a part of my life for the past 45 years, there is always a problem of where do you store them? It is a real wish list that everyone wants room to walk around a beautiful vehicle. I have redone and mostly the cars I do are for points which means that it has to be specifically done as manufactured. I have had to crawl through windows to do these things and for 20 years I have done it because there is no where on the face of the earth for such a luxury. Now letís talk residential Novi. The size of this building is to large for any residential area. I donít know these people and I donít know this gentleman, but a building of that size and 25 foot tall you can put in a second story and stuff them in there and they all do. We have no performance guarantee in this city at all of what is going to happen in a building of that size. It is a warehouse and there is no other way you can put it. Justifiably he has cars and you want them near you; but a warehouse does not belong in single family Novi.
Don Saven had no comment.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Again, I am going to vote against this because I think that it is too large of a warehouse in a residential area.
David Snyder: In the light of what Mr. Bauer has said, we will amend our petition to reduce this to the 5000 square feet that the neighbor has agreed to.
Chairman Brennan: These gentlemen have been here; and this is the third night, and there is no other citizen objections especially from that neighborhood. I have walked the site a number of times, the forestry department has walked the site, it is a remote location and the location of the proposed dwelling is down in a culvert and very low. It is absolutely surrounded by very large vegetation and my only concern since day one has been the size which we have had some amendments to tonight and appeasing the neighbor which is very important to me. I think that the petitioner has gone to great lengths to serve both of those concerns. My gut feeling is that he has come along way and where we have asked him to go and I would support the amended proposal.
Member Harrington: My comment in reacting to both Mr. Bauer and Mr. Brennan, is that first of all we donít know which particular proposal and if for example we were to approve 5000 square feet, where the 5000 square feet starts and ends. There is 3 separate rectangles that I observed today and I would find any rectangle immediately adjacent to the neighbor even though it is very densely wooded and it is very screened; it is almost adjacent to the property line and I found that totally inappropriate. So, if there were to be a variance that was granted by the Board, it should be moved more towards the center of the property and that would be the second and third rectangles on the right as you look down from the house as I saw it today. My larger issue is that I have not heard anything about hardship and this is the third time that I have thought about this. I agree with Mr. Bauer and the real issue here is one of economics which is that the gentleman does not wish to exhaust his alternate remedies in the form of finding commercial storage. He would rather store it on site as we all would. In my sub I would like to be able to store my boat and my trailer in backyard or on the side or to build a storage shed for it, but I canít. That is the same issue out there. When I walked it today, I was satisfied that a 5000 square foot pole barn granted under current building as is there, would probably be screened and I felt that it would change the essential character of the neighbor hood and I cannot support this 5000 square foot pole barn. We are looking at double the size that ordinance permits; not 10%, not 9% or 11%. We are looking at 100% larger. Going out there today and eyeballing it, I just cant support it.
Member Meyer: I think that it far exceeds what is allowable for an accessory building under the City code and as much as I would like to think that it is something that would be very helpful in the storing of your cars, I am not going to be able to vote in favor of this.
David Snyder: If I may make a comment, it is genuinely not a question of economics. It is a question that these vehicles have to be in a place where they donít attract curiosity seekers. They have to be in a place where they are secure from vandals and it is all but impossible to do that and that is why we want to have this at our clientsí home. The property is zoned RA, Residential Agriculture, and it is a very large tract of land and there are other pole barns in the area. The only neighbor who has objected to it, has agreed to the 5000 square feet and it is heavily screened and it is down in a valley and we are hoping that perhaps Mr. Meyer and Mr. Harrington could see it in that viewpoint.
Member Reinke: I have a problem that we have tried to play squeeze as much as we can rather than to be practical to begin with. The building is to large for the area. I understand what the petitioner is looking for. We are getting into a warehousing business for his hobby for the sized building that he is requesting. I think just as Mr. Harrington has alluded to, that there are a lot of things that we would like to have and I have a large lot but I canít put a trailer or other things in my back yard because of being in a residential district. I think that he is either going to have a different type of zoning to have this type of building for the size that he is looking for. I donít believe that I can support the motion as presented.
David Snyder: Can I make a possible suggestion? I understand the concern about warehousing. It would be possible to place a restriction on the property limiting this to hobby use and for this particular hobby and no other purpose and give the City the right to enforce that restriction.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: It wouldnít make any difference as far as I am concerned. It is still an awful large building in a residential area; but I canít speak for the rest of the Board.
Moved by Member Meyer,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-030 TO DENY THE REQUEST FOR THE REQUEST FOR THE VARIANCE DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE HARDSHIP IS NOT APPARENT.
Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (1) Brennan Motion Carried
Chairman Brennan: I might add that for other cases to be called, there are only 5 Members here tonight and to get a variance you need 4 positive votes. So with that if you are on board for tonight and want to have your case heard by a full Board you have that option and we will go back for a second and revisit that. If there is anyone here that would rather have their case heard before a full Board, you do need 4 of the 5 votes for a variance.
Re-call of Art Van Furniture
Frederic Keywell: It is the request of my client or the position of my client that the sign on the front of the building is by far and away the most important of the signs. We at the outset would be willing to reduce the size and we have already withdrawn the request for the sign on the south side of the building and we are willing to reduce the sign on the north side of the building to 120 square feet as it was before. But, we would like the size and the variance for the sign on the front or the east side of the building. Keeping in mind that the size of the building is now double as to what it was. Fretters had a sign which has been eliminated. So, I think that when everything is said and done the signage on that parcel of land is not much greater at all than what it was before. So, we are willing to reduce the sign on the north side of the building.
Chairman Brennan: So the north sign is now 120 square feet, the south sign is out, and you are maintaining your position on the 305 square foot on the front.
Frederic Keywell: We would like to have the 305 square feet in the front. Mainly it is just a monstrous building. The frontage is now 320 feet in frontage, versus 160 feet prior to this time. If you didnít know it was Art Van Furniture and if you werenít familiar or being a Novi resident the building just has to be identified. I do think that when considering the size of the building and the fact that were there multi tenants for example, there would be a multitude of signs there and in a building like that you normally do have multi tenants. What we are requesting is reasonable and not severe. So that is what we would like.
Member Harrington: Alan did pull the Circuit City sign pursuant to my request; which looks like 32í4" by 3í; which is 3í letters.
Member Reinke: Number one, it is not a multiple site. Number two, it is a big building which is almost a sign in itself without a sign. So, I really donít support your criteria that you are using as a balance to come up with that sized sign. I could be probably in the back part of 12 Oaks Shopping Center and very easily read the sign from back there; even the mock up that is there. The building is close enough to the road that it doesnít warrant that sized sign on the front of the building. You need signage, I agree, but that is way to big.
Member Harrington: The proposed signage facing Novi Road has 4í letters, correct?
Frederic Keywell: Yes, part of them are 4í letters.
Member Harrington: Do you know or can your architect tell you what affect it would have on the square footage if those letters are restricted to 3í?
Frederic Keywell: I would assume that it would be about 260.
Member Harrington: Mr. Reinke, I agree with you. I think that the sign is much larger than it has to be or than it should be. I can go along with 3í letters which would make it consistent with Circuit City, provided that none of the interior glass work were used for signage of sales and 40% off and the equivalent; if what we are going to see is tasteful signage, I could go along with the 3í letters but certainly not the 4í as proposed.
Member Reinke: I donít think that we can control what he does with the windows because I think that by ordinance he can use up to 25%.
Alan Amolsch: That is correct.
Member Harrington: Well he can, but we can condition a variance on that. We can put a special restriction on that. Or I could vote to deny the variance and the other Board Members can do what they want. I donít think that the purpose is to subvert the intent of the ordinance by having a less tasteful approach albeit legal while at the same time we are granting a variance based on hardship. That is only my thought.
Frederic Keywell: I donít know that Circuit City has such a condition.
Member Reinke: Circuit City is just made as a resemblance here. We are not trying to say a condition on anyplace has anything to do with your case. We are making reference to Circuit Cityís letter size and that is all that we are making reference to.
Frederic Keywell: Let me say this, I think this community knows the quality of citizenship that Art Van Furniture has brought to Novi. I certainly will convey the thoughts of Mr. Harrington to my clients. I know that my client is sensitive to what the people in this City feel about the company and the way that they do business. But, I donít think that it is appropriate that I as a condition to getting a variance that I give up on behalf of my client a legal right that my client has. Now certainly, conveying your thoughts to Mr. VanEslander is a commitment on my part. I can tell you that he is sensitive to how that company is perceived in the communities in which it is located and I will convey that thought.
Member Harrington: Just so that I am clear in terms of what you will be communicating. I am making no comment on anything that your client has done in the past. I am only making a comment on what I see now on site and I am also commenting my distress as a Board Member of other retail establishments in Novi who come before the Board and obtain a variance and then proceed to paper up independent signage behind glass albeit within ordinance after we have recognized a hardship and the paper is there after we grant the hardship and not before. I am concerned about that as a Board Member.
Frederic Keywell: As I stated, I intent to convey your concern to Mr. VanEslander.
Chairman Brennan: I take it then that you would prefer to table this?
Frederic Keywell: Would I prefer to table it? I guess that I would if that is the sense of the Board.
Chairman Brennan: I think that you have heard it from 5 people, that we are not going to approve a 305 square foot sign facing the east side of Novi Road.
Frederic Keywell: Well, the question is will you approve 260 square feet?
Member Reinke: Not this Board Member. As I said, in the past the Novi Road facing sign on the previous building arrangement there was 120 square feet which easily identified what the business was there and there was no question on being able to identify it. With the scope of it and everything else I could possibly see a little bit larger, but I can no way justify going more than approximately 160 square feet.
Frederic Keywell: Perhaps another factor which isnít directly related to this particular request should be brought to the attention of the Board, my client has agreed to acquire the parcel to the south of itís building at a very dear cost and to leave it as either a green belt or for parking and not to build on that site. That was a request of the City and we felt that it was in the best interest that the parcel not be developed commercially and we have agreed to it and we have agreed to put it in the form of a deed restriction when the deed is conveyed by the City. I think that reflects good faith on the part of Art Van Furniture with regard to how it feels as a corporate citizen of Novi.
Member Reinke: I donít dispute that in the least.
Member Meyer: Could you further clarify the 260 square feet, because I thought that the 260 square feet not only said Art Van Furniture but it had also all of the rest that goes underneath that. You see, the 120 on the north side is simply going to say Art Van Furniture Ė am I correct?
Frederic Keywell: That is correct.
Member Meyer: So the 260 is going to be Art Van Furniture and then all of the additional verbiage.
Frederic Keywell: Yes.
Chairman Brennan: It is your call. We have an amended request for a sign on the north side of the building at 120 square feet and an amended Novi Road sign on the east side of the building at 260 square foot. You can either have us call the vote, or if you care to take this back to your parties and discuss it further that is your option. I have clearly described that this is a short Board and you have to have 4 positive votes tonight.
Frederic Keywell: Can we table this until the next meeting?
Chairman Brennan: Yes, Mr. Fannon and Mr. Sanghvi will be here.
Member Meyer: Also the next meeting is August 10th, just to let you know that it will not be the first but the second Tuesday.
Chairman Brennan: You can maintain that signage that you have up until that meeting.
Member Meyer: I would ask that they put up a rendering up of what the 260 square foot sign would look like.
Someone from audience: I have spent $8000.00 already up there ÖÖ..
Member Reinke: Why donít you do this, just put a couple of dots up there to show where it would be sized down. Just something to show the layout of what a smaller sized sign would indicate area wise.
Chairman Brennan: That would work for us, just a couple of dots up on the existing sign.
Member Reinke: I donít want to see you go through the cost and the time to make up another complete banner that size. I think it is really insignificant. The main thing is something to identify that size area and then we can work with it from there.
Case No. 99-032 filed by Metro Detroit Sign, representing Break Time Billiards Bar & Grill
Continuation of case filed by Metro Detroit Sign, representing Break Time Billiards Bar & Grill requesting a 20í x 8í (160 sq. ft.) wall sign to be placed on the front of the building at 30850 Beck Rd. in the Beck Village Plaza. A variance of 120 square foot is needed.
John Dedders was present and duly sworn.
John Dedders: I was here a month ago and unfortunately I did not inform the Building Department in time that we did have the banner up and subsequent to that or at that Meeting the Board asked that we also put up a second banner, one being the size allowed of 40 square feet and the second one being what we are proposing as 160 square feet; which we have done and I presume that everyone has been notified of that.
John Dedders: Just to summarize, Break Time Billiards is asking for a 160 square foot sign. It will be the only business on that end of the building and it counts for about 2/3rds of the lineal footage of that part of the strip mall that runs north and south along Beck Road. Given that fact and the fact that it sits so far back from the road and also given the fact of where it is located on the north end of the property and the entrance to the property is in the center we are asking for this variance for reasons of visibility. Also I would say that the fact that the business itself covers 193 feet of lineal frontage and that means that there will be 6 doors that wonít have the 40 square foot signs on them. So, I think that given all of that the view from Beck Road would indicate that the 160 square foot sign is certainly not out of place and is appropriate for that location in that strip mall.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 6 Notices sent to adjacent property owners with no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: From the road I could see both signs. However, I donít think that I would want to see the 40 square foot there. I think a little larger, but I donít think that the 160 is required.
Member Reinke: I think that I have to echo Mr. Bauerís sentiment on that; I think that the 160 is to large and the 40 is to small for adequate identification. I think it is somewhere in between.
Member Meyer: I went out to the site and I had a similar feeling. I looked at both of them and I said that one was to big and the other one may not do the job because you are off of the road and I actually had to drive in and then turn to get to it. So I can certainly see a need for some variance here but 4 times what is permitted is to much.
Chairman Brennan: Have you built signs in Novi before?
John Dedders: We have installed them, yes.
Chairman Brennan: Installed them, but you havenít been before the Board for a variance before?
John Dedders: I have not been personally.
Chairman Brennan: Just for background sake the Novi Sign Ordinance is very strict and as you can tell with the ZBA Case load of 17 cases and about half of them are signs. You have to have a significant hardship to sway us. I am leaning toward the same general feel as to what you have heard. The 40 is to small and the 160 is to big. Are you in a position to offer anything in between, or do you need to go back to your customer?
John Dedders: No, I can do that.
Chairman Brennan: Do you want to make that offer or suggestion?
John Dedders: I would be glad to. I would even leave it up to the Boardís discretion ÖÖÖ
Chairman Brennan: What do you think will give you good visibility from that road that is more than 40 and less than what you have asked for?
John Dedders: I would say between 80 and 120 square feet.
Chairman Brennan: Can you build a nice sign for 100 square foot?
Chairman Brennan: We have a revised request that will make that sign 100 square foot. Does that fall in line closer to what the Board is inclined to approve?
Member Harrington: That is certainly in the right direction.
Member Reinke: I really think and I appreciate the gentlemanís comment that he felt that he could live within 80 and 120 square feet. I think that if the 40 square foot sign is doubled I think it would be sufficient to give him some relief and identification and still hold it closer to the intent of the sign ordinance to try to be identifiable in a less intrusive nature to the community and the way that the ordinance is set up.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I would agree 100%.
John Dedders: Just a response to that, Mr. Reinke, the banners that you see on that wall I think are a little bit more contrasting than what the sign would be because it is one solid color. The letters once they are up on the wall, donít cover that amount of square footage. It wonít have the contrast and when you are looking at that from the road it wonít have the contrast of either the large one or the small one has that you notice from the road right now because it wonít have the total contrasted color that you have right now.
Member Meyer: That is your job though. The contrast.
John Dedders: I understand that, it just wonít look as large because of the letters. What you are looking at right now is a big white banner whether it is the 40 square foot one or the 120 square foot one and what really sticks out is the contrast of the banner compared to the color of the wall. You wonít notice that with the letters because it isnít just one solid color.
Chairman Brennan: Again, you need 4 positive votes on any motion that we end up with. Would you feet that your chances are better with an 80 square foot sign that is twice that of ordinance? I think that we could vote within a couple of seconds if you give us a nod and I think that you already did when you said 80 to 120.
Chairman Brennan: We do have a revised sign request for 80 square feet.
Moved by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-032 THAT THE REQUESTED VARIANCE FOR A SIGN OF 80 SQAURE FEET PROPORTIONAL TO THE RENDERING BE APPROVED DUE TO SITE AND DISTANCE. THIS VARIANCE IS LIMITED TO THIS PETITIONER ONLY.
Discussion on motion:
Alan Amolsch: I have a question on the motion. Does the Board entertain any dimensional restrictions or is this just a straight square footage variance?
Chairman Brennan: That is all that is before us.
Alan Amolsch: The original application was with certain dimensions times the height of the sign.
It was 96" tall by 240" wide. Does the Board have any restrictions on either one of those dimensions or do you just want to leave it at 80 square feet?
Member Reinke: I think that what he is trying to put in verbiage there that it will be proportional. I donít think that I really want to restrict him that much. He will just have 80 square feet to work with.
Chairman Brennan: Maybe we should say proportional to the rendering.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Letís add that and to this petitioner only.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-033 filed by FCA Construction, representing Lifetime Fitness
Continuation of case filed by FCA Construction, representing Lifetime Fitness, is requesting a 146.75 sq. ft. variance to allow for the placement of a 21í4" x 10í (213.25 sq. ft.) wall sign to be placed at 40000 High Pointe Blvd. (21825 Haggerty Rd.)
Mark Zaebst Ė Vice-President of Development and Real Estate for Lifetime Fitness
Mark Zaebst: As was stated we are here this evening to ask for a variance in the size of the sign with the building that we currently have under construction here in Novi. We would like to bring up two different points tonight. One first of all is that we believe that a hardship case has been created due to the possible dedication of High Pointe Drive which comes to the front of our building and secondly we do believe that the size of sign that would be admitted by the City of Novi may possibly create some traffic concerns.
Mark Zaebst: I would like to bring up Mr. Mark Churella who is the developer of Summit Pointe to answer the issue of the possible hardship that is created by the dedication of the road.
Mark Churella: I am the President and the Chief Executive Officer of the FDI Group of Companies in Novi. I am here representing FDI Realty Partners LLC which is the developer of the 43 acre site which is now termed as Summit Pointe Corporate Office Campus.
Mark Churella: I am going to distribute to you 2 hand outs just to have prior to my comments. (no verbiage on tape) ÖÖÖit was put in to accommodate the phases 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and Lifetime Fitness. That boulevard is now called High Pointe Blvd. High Pointe Blvd. Is a private drive. When we put High Pointe Blvd. in Summit Pointe at the time and selling the parcel of property to Lifetime Fitness created a situation where Lifetime Fitness did not front a public thoroughfare. Consequently what we needed to do was to get a variance to allow a separate sidwell number for Lifetime Fitness. The request for the separate sidwell number was not requested and was not known that it was needed until Lifetime Fitness had well started into construction. In presenting to Council the request for the separate sidwell number, Council had made a request through the attorney for the City of Novi that we present the road for dedication upon the completion of the overall project, which we are in agreement to. In the agreement which is attached to that cover letter and putting your attention to page 2, it shows that the purpose of the agreement was to provide the City Assessor with reason that Lifetime Fitness not front a public road and then goes on to explain our request to have a separate sidwell number. On page 4 of the agreement starting with section 4 of page 4; it states that within 60 days of construction of the last uses of the property and that is the entire proposed site, that FDI shall offer the street for dedication to the City of Novi for the sum of $10.00. Going onto paragraph 5, that FDI shall be responsible for the maintenance of the street from the time of construction until the dedication is accepted by the City. Later into paragraph 5 the last sentence starting with "if the City determines not to accept the dedication of the street FDI shall continue to be responsible for the maintenance of the street". In simple form I want you to understand that it is our intention to dedicate the road and this agreement has been executed by the City as indicated by Mr. Nowickiís letter. It is not the Cityís obligation to accept the road for dedication. So throughout this entire process this road is a private drive. We are building it to public specifications but it is in fact a private drive. Total completion of this entire project will run upwards of 5 years to do all of what you see there and that is counting on a dynamic economy with things going well. We do have phase 1 the 120,000 square feet under construction and we do have Lifetime Fitness which is coming close to completion as well.
Mark Churella: I had made a request to Mr. Saven, the chief Building Official in the City of Novi, for something that I thought would make sense; it would make sense from a practical approach and that is to change the addresses which were originally Haggerty Road addresses for both phase 1 and for Lifetime Fitness and that is the second individual piece of paper that I have given you. Mr. Saven had requested that I provide him the distance on a site plan showing from the center point of Haggerty Road to phase 1 and to Lifetime Fitness. In which case he then provided for this project addresses on High Pointe Blvd. So if there was a practical hardship created it was done by me not knowing that the distance measured would be from Haggerty Road to their building or that would in fact change and the distance being measured would be from High Pointe Blvd. The High Pointe address given to Lifetime Fitness from a practical sense as the developer seemed to make sense. As they crest up the hill and they come to the entrance to the Summit Pointe project they are going to look down there and they are still going to see from the same distance from Haggerty Road. Even at the time that High Pointe Blvd. would be dedicated to the City as a public road, it still would have no more traffic than it did as a private road. It is not going to be a cut through or a thoroughfare for anything. It is going to be the entrance road for the office buildings and for Lifetime Fitness. So I am simply here this evening to give you some background and some history to give you some specific understanding of what happened with High Pointe Blvd. and how the address changed from Haggerty Road to High Pointe Blvd. and how in fact the distance from Haggerty Road or from this building has not changed. The general theme of this entire development has been to come in off of a private boulevard and that has not changed. Again to understand upon the completion of the overall project the road will be presented for dedication and at the Cityís desire it will be accepted or denied.
Mark Churella: I will be glad to answer any questions.
Member Harrington: What does this have to do with the sign variance request? I understand what you said; but I donít see how it relates and I was here at the last presentation and I am sure that our audience and listening public out there are confused too. Why would public versus private have any impact whatsoever on the sign request?
Mark Churella: My understanding is that the sign request and there were 3 requests made of Lifetime Fitness for sizes of signs. The last request was Ö.
Mark Zaebst: The 3 signs were 66 square feet, 133 square feet and 217 which is what we are requesting. The reason that we feel that this is an issue is from Haggerty to the front of our building is over 900 feet. That distance would allow us 250 square feet of front signage on a building. By taking the measurement from High Pointe Drive at 200 feet that is where the 66 square foot number is generated for us. That is why we feel that this whole road dedication and naming is creating a hardship for us and our size of signage.
Mark Churella: The purpose of my being here, Mr. Harrington, was simply to give you the explanation on what happened with the addressing of Lifetime Fitness to High Pointe Blvd. and to simply state that if it causes them a hardship; I would be willing to go back to building and say to give them their Haggerty Road street address. This was something that was done as the developer without consulting Lifetime Fitness because I felt it was the appropriate thing to do. In fact, you view the building from Haggerty Road but it does in fact come off of High Pointe Blvd.
Member Harrington: So depending on whether it is public versus private, you might not even need a variance.
Mark Churella: That is correct. I donít know. If you are measuring from Haggerty Road to the building the signs that they are out there now fall within the ordinance or are under the ordinance. The complication came in when somebody made the comment, at least that what was given to me, and I donít mind presenting in front of this committee but I would certainly rather be up at the lake today; I am fully willing to go back to the Building Department and ask Mr. Saven to reconsider a Haggerty Road address; but it doesnít change anything. The building still sits back where it sits. They are not going to pick the building up and move it and it still has the same practical issues that when people come up the street they have to look 900 feet from Haggerty Road to Lifetime Fitness. So all of the signs that they have and the signs that they have put up as mock ups all fit within the ordinance based on Haggerty Road.
Mark Zaebst: The second issue that I would like to address this evening is one of safety. This particular site plan that I am showing here; this is the Lifetime Fitness building, this is the front and this is High Pointe Drive and this is Haggerty right here. These 2 red lines represent the site lines from Haggerty to the sign placement on the front of the building. This would be the site line if you were coming south on Haggerty where you would first see the sign and this line right here if you were coming north on Haggerty. As you know, the speed limit on Haggerty is 45 miles per hour which is 66 feet per second. We went out and measured so that as soon as you can catch this site line here coming south on Haggerty you have 150 feet from the site line to the point where you need to make a decision of whether or not you are going to come into High Pointe Blvd. That is 2.27 seconds. If you are coming north on Haggerty Blvd. from this site line and the building you have 225 feet before you need to make a decision of whether or not you are coming in and at 66 feet per second that gives you 3.43 seconds. With a 66 square foot sign which is depicted here and a very small sign at 900 feet to be able to see. A number of us drove it today, back and forth, and by the time that you catch that site line if it is a small sign and you donít readily recognize it you need to slow down in order for your eyes to take in what you are seeing and read the sign. What we are proposing at 213 feet and I am sure that you have had a chance to see the banners, is much more recognizable and we feel that people wonít have to slow down in order to recognize the building. If they wish to bypass they can bypass because they will know what the sign on the building says or if they wish to turn they can make that decision.
Mark Zaebst: Again, we feel that we do have a hardship case with exactly what our address is, which we were always under the understanding that it was Haggerty and that would allow us 250 square feet and we feel that a very small sign on that building is going to pose some safety issues.
Chairman Brennan: There are no approvals or objections to this in the file.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Bauer inquired of Alan Amolsch: What is the maximum signage being 900 feet from Haggerty Road?
Alan Amolsch: If it was measured at over 900 feet, it would be 250 square foot maximum. That is the maximum size for any wall sign. Also, it cannot exceed 15% of the surface frontage of the building.
Mark Zaebst: I believe that we are well under this.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Are you planning on putting any ground signs on Haggerty Road?
Mark Churella: We have within the ordinance a monument sign on the boulevard that says Summit Pointe Corporate Office Campus and each of the individual buildings as they are built, all of them are within the ordinance and we are not seeking ZBA approval on any of those. As a matter of fact the individual doing the signs for the overall complex; I told them to take whatever size sign that he has and to measure from the center point of Haggerty Road and make sure that it is in compliance and that is what is going in there.
Chairman Brennan: That is one of the things that we discussed last month, whether signage on Haggerty would help and it was unclear at that time and now we know that there will be some signage. Frankly I think, that even with the 213 square foot sign at some point that boulevard is going to have enough foliage that you may not even see that back there. I think that it is a little intimidating as it is today. But the facts are that if they go back and say we are not going to give High Point to the City then they measure the distance from Haggerty and they can put a 250 square foot sign.
Alan Amolsch: No. The issue of private or public makes no difference with the measuring of the sign area. We take the measurement from the private road or the public road. That is not an issue. There is a section in the ordinance that says the nearest adjacent roadway and if it is a private road we take that as the centerline measurement. That is why they are here tonight.
Member Harrington: There are 2 renderings on site as I drove by today. The larger rendering is how many square feet?
Mark Zaebst: 217.
Member Harrington: And the smaller rendering?
Mark Zaebst: 130. There was also and I donít know if you noticed the piece of plywood that was under that, that is the 66 square foot and it just didnít actually have the logo on it.
Chairman Brennan: I think that the smaller sign was at our request.
Chairman Brennan: I guess that we have the option of either addressing the variance as submitted or taking the petitionersí option of going back to the City and making the changes per Mr. Churella.
Member Reinke: Technically it isnít going to make a difference because there is a roadway there, whether it be private or dedicated. The roadway is there whatever the address. I donít think it is going to change anything.
Alan Amolsch: The address has nothing to do with it. The measurement is from the private road.
Member Reinke: That is why I am saying it wonít make any difference. That is not going to change the issue.
Alan Amolsch: Otherwise they wouldnít be here.
Mark Churella inquired of Alan Amolsch: Could you reference that ordinance for us?
Alan Amolsch: "A wall sign displayed on a building occupied by one business shall not exceed 1 square foot of signage for each 3 feet of setback measured from the centerline of the nearest adjacent thoroughfare or collector street as defined in the Master Plan adopted by the City as amended; but not greater than 15% of the frontage surface of the building and not greater than 250 square feet. In those instances where the wall sign is adjacent to a private roadway or a drive with any development the calculation required above shall be made based upon the distance to the centerline of that roadway or drive."
Vice-Chairman Bauer: So it makes no difference.
Member Harrington: I think that the variance as proposed, the signage is to large and it is of interest that the larger sign is more visible from Haggerty Road but I am not sure that is the point. I think that the smaller sign which I think is 133 square feet, correct me if I am wrong, I drove it on 2 separate occasions and I think that it is adequate. It is a huge building and it is setback but they chose that location to put the building and they knew that going in.
Chairman Brennan: That was my gist, I felt uncomfortable with a huge sign like that which no one is going to see in a few years.
Member Harrington: They may or may not. My reaction when the signage was initially proposed is that I would not have put that sign on that area of the building. It is not what you immediately see when you look up the boulevard. But, that is their choice to have that signage in that portion of the building and in that configuration and that is what their architects and experts tell them is the best way to market it. So that is their choice.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I agree with you.
Member Meyer: Ditto.
Mark Zaebst: We respectfully request that we table this to the August Meeting, to take a look at possibly a different option or location.
Member Harrington: Would it involve different renderings that we should plan on going to see? You can let the secretary know if there is something that we need to look at.
Mark Zaebst: We will produce an additional rendering.
Member Harrington: Let us know when it is up.
Member Meyer: Once again, repeating to you, it is August 10th.
Member Harrington: Will there be notice requirements if they are moving this to a different are of the building?
Alan Amolsch: No, not for a different area of the building. It was a dimensional variance.
Case to be tabled to the August Meeting.
Case No. 99-040 filed by Reuben Levy
Continuation of case filed by Reuben Levy Ė applicant is wishing to raze the existing home at 1509 East Lake Rd. and to construct a new single family residence. The following variances are needed: an 18% lot coverage variance, a 20í rear yard setback variance and side yard setback variances of 6í for each side.
Daniel Levy and Reuben Levy were present.
Daniel Levy: Well we are back. We talked to the next door property owner after the Meeting as requested by the Board. We also ran stakes and tape around so that you could view how the building would fit within the plot. We met with both the property owner and her attorney at the site and at this point we are not sure where she stands. She did not indicate at that point where she was coming from. I donít know if she is in agreement with what we propose to do at this point and before we proceed maybe they could enlighten us.
Member Harrington: Maybe we could enlighten them as to what we saw; and maybe have Audience Participation as well.
Chairman Brennan: When was this staked?
Reuben Levy: Last week.
James Korte, Shawood Lake. I didnít get involved with this last time because I figured that it should go through without a problem. The reason that I am involved and the reason that I am going to make the comments that I am making is that because Terry Morrone brought me into this case. When the Levyís went to the Building Department originally Terry Morrone gave out my personal phone number and said "call Korte, he knows more about the north end than anyone else". I wasnít very happy with that; but I did speak with Mr. Levy Junior and he was a little surprised that I knew the house. He was a little surprised that Patricia Hughes, owner of the house, was a good friend of mine. He was a little surprised that I had talked with Delores; the house to the north on numerous occasions and maybe several is better at Patricia Hughes house. So we are in a very difficult situation of friends and nobody wants to say anything. I was talking with Nancy McKernan and the only reason that I am using names is because Terry Morrone did bring me into this and when I was talking to her "she said that the house to the north had problems and it was the summer home"; it has never been a summer home Ė it is a rental. When talking with the other Building Official he said the house to the north had problems and they were going to tear it down and build a house. At the last meeting we found that they wanted to build a garage there. As the "chair" of Sector Study we urged you to listen to the complaints of the neighbors. The complaints of the neighbors make a big difference; but only when they are reasonable. The complaints are not reasonable. I do know for a fact and I donít understand why it was presented that there is a $70,000.00 purchase agreement from the house on the north. The first bid was $30,000.00 and I know that for a fact. They did not make the 70 until and because the deal was offered just before the Levyís put it in writing. So that is the story with the house next door. If we get into Sector Study again, we tried our best to get rid of these sub-standard lots and this one is as sub-standard as they come. We have many of them and nobody wanted to hear it. You have had to deal with 30 foot lots; Melvin had lots of them and he was allowed to build big and lovely houses. If we talk McGowan that was the Lee Mamola house on East Lake and it was here 3 times because the fellow that lived in the basement didnít want the light blocking his windows. When that house went in, it is probably the most spectacular in the north end. So, the reason that I brought the letter with regards to the Assessor is that we have so many problems when someone thinks that it isnít buildable. Way more than a year ago a "For Sale" sign went up on the house and Patricia Hughes handled it through the young man that she was in land contract with. Koupie Lucas, South Lake, here grandson was terribly interested and was going to make an almost full offer to be there and to be next to family. The Building Department said that it wasnít buildable, so he dropped all issues. They believe people when they say that. This is a buildable piece a property and I donít know how you build less than 22 foot. Now if the house to north decided to put on a second story it could put on a second story without coming to the ZBA and without doing calculations it would be my presumption that the house would be bigger than the Levy house legally without the ZBA and sit much closer to the lot lines and of course in that situation the only thing that would be carefully watched would be fire code; but building codes would have to be watched. But that would be the only major point of question of putting a 2 story there. So and as I say, I didnít want to get involved. Terry Morrone brought me in and that is what is going on with this property. If we get into Owenton and those 2 houses on those corners, they were 40ís and we allowed huge houses and one specifically over a year period that was back and back and we were finally able to get the house removed and now there is a new house there. If the Levyís choose or if Joe Blow chooses to buy that house they may renovate it as is. The fact that it is condemned means nothing; they must correct the point of condemnation. So, we could have that purchased as is and brought to code. Now letís talk what is better for the area. We have the first 2 houses to the south and I know one was at the ZBA and I donít know if the larger lot was that have done beautiful "re-doís" in awful situations. This is no different than the rest of the north end. It is a shame that the City didnít listen to Sector Study when we tried to rid you of this pest. But at this point it is buildable. Sadly enough, that house is reconstructable as it sits. And that is just the legality. So I would hope that you would pass this and get rid of that atrocity and have another lovely house go up.
Bill Conley: I was here the last time. I am an attorney and I represent Mrs. Farnworth. Mrs. Farnworth continues her objection and we tried to communicate it through Reuben Levyís voice mail on the day after that we looked at the house. It was all staked out when we were there, the lot lines as well as the house were staked out the day that we were there last week. So we got to see that. But the fact remains that it still appears that there is a density issue. It is a 3300 square foot lot. It appears that what is proposed is a 2 story building and roughly 1200 square feet on the ground floor and approximately 375 square feet over the density issue; if my calculations are correct in looking at the diagrams. That is in addition to the setbacks in the back as well as the setbacks on the sides. That is essentially our comments.
Gerry Woods, 114 Parklow. My only comments are that I saw you guys talking to the attorney for Art Van and talking about signs and you used the words cluttered, overwhelming, unnecessary and justified. I think, and has anyone seen this piece of property? What do you think of that?
Member Harrington: Squalor.
Chairman Brennan: We do have color pictures.
Gerry Woods: I have lived next to that for almost 4 years now. From all I know it is because the City has been turning down people and I would just like you to know that I am tired of living next to this mess. If it was in your backyard it wouldnít be there. There are raccoons, the windows arenít just boarded up they are boarded up with signs; it is pathetic.
Stanley Rzepka, 1515 East Lake Drive. I put up a home 2 doors away, last year on a 30 foot lot. It is a 2 story home. But you can build a home in there that is comfortable. I am not saying overly comfy but just comfortable. I have people walk by the house and compliment me. They say "why donít you do something about the house that is 2 doors down? It is all boarded up with plywood, it is an eyesore." We have been called the slums, the ghetto. This area is getting rebuilt. When Reuben approached me that he would like to build a house over there I was happy. My wife, Delphine, was happy. We will benefit. All of the neighbors will benefit. The whole area will benefit. Reuben will benefit because he wants to live on the water. Even the City of Novi would benefit because they would get more taxes out of the area. Did you look at that house? The grass is usually knee high. This has gone on for years. I approached Novi and they are going to do something about it and nothing has been done. They say that they canít even go on the property. I donít know why. That is a loss. You walk around the house and there is rodent holes there, there are raccoons there, skunks there, rats there. My grandchildren come over and they canít even go in the backyard, they are terrified when the raccoons run across. What if this were your child? So when this man approached me and wants to build there, I was enthused for him. The whole area is getting rebuilt. As you drive by you notice all the new homes coming up. This area was originated in the 1920ís, when the family car came into existence people wanted to get away from the City and they built cottages over here. Well things change as you know and even the area that you live now you come back in 50 years if you are around and see what happens. The area is tight but you can build a comfortable home there. We did. I think that this gentleman can do it too. It will beautify the whole neighborhood and it wonít be an eyesore any more. Thank you.
Don Wheeker, 217 Monticello. I happen to be a resident around the corner and I also happen to be the architect for this project. When Mr. Levy came to me with the proposal for putting something on this site I was please to do so. I drive by it everyday to work and I know exactly what these people are talking about. It is an eyesore. As far as the design part of it and the density of the space is concerned from an architectural standpoint, this was an extremely challenging endeavor to get it down to 22 feet. I have done a lot of work over at Wolverine Lake and some other communities where restrictions are equally as tight. Overall it took a great deal of work. The spaces as they stand right now in my proposal arenít exactly what I wished they would be. A lot of the spaces are a little smaller than the norm for the sized house. Through good interior design we have been able to combine spaces together to get Mr. Levy a livable space. I am excited from a personal standpoint with the exterior architecture. That side of the lake, I think, could use a little bit more beautification as far as the houses are concerned. I know that there is some very good design work up north of that area and I live south of that area and I have to travel through it and I think it would be very pleasing from an architectural standpoint. I think most spaces are at a minimum but adequate enough for Mr. Levy. Thank you.
Don Saven: Just a point of clarification regarding the 30 foot lots. It has been brought up that these lots are buildable. From a point of reasonableness and in terms of the ordinance the requirements at that time require a 10 foot side yard setback on each side. On a 30 foot lot that gives you a 10 foot wide house. That is why these people have to come before you. If I was to tell somebody whether or not that is a buildable situation and you want to build a house 10 foot wide then we would have problems with the similar to dis-similar ordinance. Yes, it might be a little bit of a difficult issue, but from a point of practicality that is why they are here before you.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Member Harrington: At last monthís meeting I specifically requested that the proposed site be staked out so that we could eye ball the impact on the adjacent neighbors with due regard to the neighbor who is objecting. I must confess that prior to last monthís meeting I didnít see this parcel. It looked like what I would call a routine north end variance request where the lots are to small and there necessarily has to be overbuilding in terms of square footage in order to have a quality home built to accomplish the purpose of the construction. I went out there and looked at that and I saw that house today and I will be quite candid, I was shocked. I was appalled and I hope that there arenít very many other sites like that in Novi much less sites that have been there for years. I was appalled at the squalor which exists in this City as represented by that lot. I canít argue whether this particular architectural design should be 100 square foot less or 100 square foot more, my comment at the last meeting when I actually looked at the floor plan was "I donít see what else you can do with it", but that is for the architects to do. Something needs to be done. This parcel needs to be leveled and rebuilt. The proposal is reasonable and with respect to the impact on adjacent neighbors; first of all this site is across the street from the lake in terms of site lines. Second there is more area between the north side neighbor than the south side and it is the north side neighbor, as I understand it, that has difficulty with the proposed construction. Finally there is nothing behind this house where a second floor is going to impact on it. I am absolutely convinced that this might not be the particular design I would pick, but this design is far superior to what is there. I am in support of this variance as requested.
Member Reinke: Echoing Mr. Harringtonís sentiments on that; if you want to find another place, give me a call Iíll show you a couple more. There isnít much that you can do with that sized lot. We do need to do something different than what is there. What we have seen developing in the north end, being that I would like to see it a little less dense; but they are buildable lots. I hope that nobody ever takes it to task and some day and builds a 10 foot wide house. So, we need to work with the situation. What has been done has improved the area vastly. I think that something needs to be done with this to make a significant improvement and I would support the petitionerís request.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I would also support the request.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Member Harrington,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-040 THE VARIANCES BE GRANTED DUE TO LOT SIZE, SHAPE AND CONFIGURATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-041 filed by Haggerty Corridor Partners
Haggerty Corridor Partners is requesting a variance for temporary use approval to allow farming on property currently zoned OST (Office, Service, Technology) for a two (2) year period Ė 1999 and 2000. The property is located off of Haggerty Road between Thirteen Mile and Fourteen Mile Roads. Sidwell Nos. 5022-01-400-016 and 5022-01-200-033.
Brian Hughes was present and duly sworn.
Brian Hughes: The purpose of my being here is to apply for temporary use approval to allow farming in this OST zoning. It is similar to what we do in a number of other parcels to which we have been given a similar temporary use. The purpose is to do some farming which helps to defer some of the cost of the development of this area.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 8 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
James Korte, I have a real problem with farming in an area that hasnít been farmed for a long time. We plow it up. We remove the trees. We redo the drainage and we do all of this for 2 years in the name of farming and then when we go to build we already half of what we want that the Planning Board wouldnít have given originally. Farming is a cop out and it is a cop out on this piece of land. It is a scape goat for the next builder to come in and say there is nothing there. Thank you.
Debbie Bundoff, 43640 Twelve Mile. I also have a few questions about the use of temporary farming. Not to long ago we heard of a company called the Vistas that took over the Sandstone Project or became partners with them. They called it in the name of farming, they were farming when they destroyed trees and moved a little dirt around. They never farmed a bloody thing. I do have that problem and I apologize to the community and the State for the comments that they made in the name of farming and to the farmers that in no way would do what the developers do in the name of farming. I would be very interested to find out what in the name of farming that they consider farming for the next 2 years. Are they going to have horticultural/agricultural, animal husbandry or what is it that they plan on doing? That is a big request. What is it that they plan to do?
Don Saven had no comment.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Member Harrington: What kind of crops or animal husbandry do you intend?
Brian Hughes: We would plant either soy beans or a wheat crop which is what we have done with the other properties in the past. We donít take down trees. I donít have before me the list, but the other temporary use approvals that were associated with them 6 or 7 conditions.
Chairman Brennan: Were you the party that had the temporary farming permit that was granted on Wixom Road?
Brian Hughes: No.
Chairman Brennan: Help me here, we have done a lot of them and we had the woodlands address some concerns by the public comments. We have had the woodlands rope off areas that were to be left in the current state.
Brian Hughes: We have done that before. We have had other use permits in the Beck and West Road areas.
Chairman Brennan: The other question that comes to mind is that you are looking for 1999 are you planting winter wheat?
Brian Hughes: That is correct.
Member Meyer: If I understood correctly, from my reading of this case you would be doing this farming in order to pay the taxes on the land until you can use it for the intended purpose.
Brian Hughes: That is correct. In the past to address the ladyís concern, Glen Lemmon the City Assessor has come out and inspected the property where we have this approval before and we have shown him where we have done the farming. We are doing a lot of development in the City and by no means would be alienate ourselves with Linda Lemke or anybody of that kind.
Member Meyer: The other thing, you do indeed intend to farm?
Brian Hughes: Absolutely.
Member Meyer: This is land that has been farmed before?
Brian Hughes: Correct. I donít know the last time that we have actually farmed it but all of the other properties that we have applied for have been farmed.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: On the Notice of Appeal you have that this property will not be developed this year, but farming will be?
Brian Hughes: Yes.
Member Meyer: What will happen in 2 years when the farming is over?
Brian Hughes: It is possible that in less than 2 years we would actually be developing this land. If that were to be the case, and it is available now, then we would go through the proper channels and there would be a preliminary site plan package that would be submitted and then we would have all of the consultants review it. It is possible that in less than 2 years we would actually develop it. The purpose of the 2 year permit is that before we were coming here every single year and this is just to save the time of the Members as well as ourselves. At such time when 2 years are up, in all likelihood we would have some kind of development there.
Member Meyer: In light of some of the comments that were shared here before, I know that this next statement may sound ludicrous but I still feel that I need to ask it; you would obviously harvest this crop before you destroyed it in order to develop the site?
Brian Hughes: Yes, absolutely.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Is this a tiled area, for drainage?
Brian Hughes: I really couldnít answer that. I would say yes, but I would qualify that and say it is.
Member Harrington: Your crops would be soy beans, winter wheat or what?
Brian Hughes: That is it.
Member Harrington: No animals on site?
Brian Hughes: No.
Member Harrington: My comment is that it is interesting to hear the 2 objections. If this is limited to crops only, I donít have a problem with this.
Vice-Chairman Bauer inquired of Don Saven: Was there another one that we had 6 conditions on?
Don Saven: We had issues on West Road and I believe that the gentleman was involved in this. One of the things that we have to be cautious of is the wetland areas and the woodland areas; those protected areas cannot be touched.
Brian Hughes: We will comply with all of that.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Meyer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-041 TO APPROVE THE TEMPORARY USE LIMITED TO THE CROPS AS IDENTIFIED ON THE RECORD FOR A PERIOD NOT TO EXCEED TWO (2) YEARS FOR THIS PARTICULAR APPLICANT ONLY BY VIRTUE OF THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY ASSOCIATED WITH NOT BEING READY FOR CONSTRUCTION AND THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO USE THIS PROPERTY ON A MINIMAL BASIS.
Discussion on motion:
Don Saven: I would like to ask if we could add into that motion the woodlands and wetlands issue so they do not go into the protected areas.
Member Harrington: It would be an understanding and a condition of the motion that if approved that this will not waive or negatively impact on any other ordinance or administrative requirement of the City. You still must comply with wetlands, woodlands and everything else. All we are allowing you to do is to do crop farming, limited to winter wheat, soy beans and the equivalent for a period of two (2) years. Understood?
Brian Hughes: That is understood.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-043 filed by Douglas and Barbara Teubert (The Barn Antiques)
Douglas and Barbara Teubert are requesting an expansion of their already approved use to allow an existing 15.3í x 24.5í building to be relocated on the property and to be utilized for a specialty place for coffee, tea, pastries and snacks. The proposed plan is to include a wrap around deck for seating at the location of 48120 Eight Mile Road in a RA Zoning District. (Refer to ZBA Case Nos. 94-005 and 98-070.)
Douglas and Barbara Teubert were present and duly sworn.
Barbara Teubert: First of all I would like to say how excited we are to be new residents in Novi and the community progression and the new downtown area. For 20 years we were residents of Northville and I operated a small retail business in downtown Northville for 10 years. We are very excited about the property at the barn and being a part of the community of Novi. We have had countless comments since we took over the business about people being overjoyed that the Barn did not go out of business and they love to come to the property and experience the atmosphere of the barn itself and the surrounding area kind of being isolated in the country with Maybury State Park across the road from us and no visible neighbors anywhere in site at this time. It is our goal to maintain the historical value of the property for public use by continuing to operate the antique business and hoping to expand to accommodate our clientele through some kind of food offering and public restroom facility. We would hope to eventually turn it into a place where families could come and experience a country setting and enjoy time together. We have come to realize that since we are not in a downtown area that we need to become a destination point, because there are no facilities around us that would tend to have people come and think of spending an extended period of time. There is no public restroom, there is no food in the immediate area. If a mother was passing by on Eight Mile Road and was thinking about stopping at the Barn but it is 11:30 am and she has her 2 children with her she knows that she cannot stop for any period of time because the kids would need something to eat and probably have to use a restroom and she would probably pass us by and go to Northville because of the proximity that we are to downtown Northville. She would then use Northville for her patronage rather than the Barn. We also intend to put extensive herb gardens display around the building that we are proposing and that would also give people the opportunity to stay and to view the gardens.
Douglas Teubert: The building in question to be presented and you have a survey there and I drew a schematic on exactly what we plan to do. I think that the hardship is the building where it is really canít be used for anything. It is also badly dilapidated and you canít even get in right now because there are bees inside. We intend on spending quite a bit of money to fix that up and to make it look presentable. The building itself structurally is pretty good, it does have a septic and it does have plumbing. Looking at the floor, you can tell that there was a toilet in there at one time, so it does have those facilities but it is badly in need of repair. No public restroom in the Barn Antiques itself and right now we have a port a potty outside and there is no running water in the barn so when someone uses the port a potty there is no where to wash their hands and in the winter time it is probably pretty cold out there.
Douglas Teubert: The one other bit of information that I would like to pass on is that the foods that we are talking about are very light refreshments. We are talking about coffee, tea, pop and may be some desert, potato chips and things like that. There definitely will not be any prepared food on the premises. In that regard we have talked to Vicís and the Panera Bread Company to try to form some kind of alliance with them where they would actually be preparing some of the light refreshments that we might have.
Douglas Teubert: As Barb has mentioned, another point of interest is that we will be closing the business in Northville so that we can concentrate on the business in Novi, I think that is important for you to know. We just need a little bit of latitude to be able to create this destination point and in my proposal the wording is such that if you did object to the food part we would still like to move the building and use it for antiques and a bathroom. If we can move it fine, if we canít move it we will do it there.
Douglas Teubert: Also I have a couple of letters that I gave to the young lady there from a couple of residents, Mark Zayti was one of them and another neighbor. They have referred to this as a cafť and it is not a cafť it is just a light refreshment stand basically. They were in approval. I talked to Inge Zayti who owns property a couple doors down and she does not have a problem with it. I talked to Dave Urbons and Janet who live way behind us north on Nine Mile Road who donít have a problem with it either.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 5 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: Just as a point of interest in your packet there was the original case of 94-005 filed by Russ Elvy which was followed up the case by Douglas and Barbara Teubert. One of the things that we are taking a look at is the ability to do this use in that particular area and this is all based upon a temporary use. Now this would be an expansion of that use. As Douglas has indicated he wants to move the building and the building is in very bad shape and he wants to put a deck around the building and at the location as indicated in your packet. The concern and I brought it up to the Planning Department is the expansion of the use and where we are going with this particular use. We have to be very careful in what we do. This is a use approval which was granted and we start adding onto this then we are taking it out of context of the residential application and that was one of the things that they were concerned with. The building that they are talking about is very small, it probably was used as a migrant workerís house and they are going to try to bring it back to some form or code or what have you.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Member Reinke: In the amount of movement with the building, I really donít have any trouble with that. I look at it also that the building will be a convenience for people that are coming to the site and it will approve the building and bring it up to code. I think it is a positive thing.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I donít care about the sale of tea, coffee and snacks. The location was given an appeal in 1994 for the selling of antiques which it was doing a little bit of in some area there about 20 years before. I cannot see having food at the location. I think it takes it away from everything.
Chairman Brennan: Apparently there is clear difference between the type of food that they want to sell versus prepared food or restaurant food. My general thought is that any effort by the petitioner to improve his property is positive. Moving that building maybe 50 or 60 feet and turning it in a different position, I donít have a problem with that. I guess that I did have concern when I first read the case about the food issue. I would be more comfortable as you gave us the option of leaving this as an extension to the antique business and the convenience of toilet service for the customers. I am inclined to support that.
Moved by Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-043 THAT THE PETITIONERíS REQUEST TO RELOCATE THE BUILDING AND TO RENOVATE IT BE APPROVED FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELLING ANTIQUES AND PROVIDING TOILETRY SERVICES TO THE CUSTOMERS.
Roll Call: Yeas (3) Nays (2) Bauer, Harrington
Chairman Brennan: I am sorry we needed 4 votes and you are denied.
Member Reinke: No it has not been denied. It has not been approved. Nothing has been done.
Chairman Brennan: I stand corrected, you didnít get a yes and you didnít get a no.
Douglas Teubert: What are our options?
Chairman Brennan: I think that one option is to have further discussion with those who didnít like my motion to see where the problems are.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Mine is the selling of the food.
Chairman Brennan: I took that out. My motion was to move the building, renovate the building and to sell antiques and to provide the toilet services.
Member Meyer: That is what my vote was based on.
Member Harrington: Here is the problem that I have. We have a RA district and we are expanding a retail business. This seems to me and I am not sure and I wanted to hear what the motion was before I made up my mind. How close is this to being a Planning case? If they wanted to build a building to do the identical thing that they are proposing doing wouldnít they have to go through Planning? What are they subject to in terms of relocation of this building and the suitability of this building and itís materials and everything else. Is this an end run of Planning? How close are we to Planning?
Don Saven: I had a discussion with Planning regarding this issue and it was a gray line area in terms of the type of food and if he was talking about prepared foods then they would get into the meat and potatoes end of it; but it was something that they were selling over the counter and it was one of those issues that was even still a gray area but it was not just dealing with antiques. It was adding another issue or adding something else to this particular retail.
Member Harrington: If this was new construction and they wanted to build a 15 x 24.5í building for purposes of sale of antiques and having toilet facilities and the like and was a brand new building would they have to go through Planning?
Don Saven: No.
Member Harrington: How come?
Don Saven: No, because it is an expansion of a previously approved use where you could make that decision. If it was something that was totally different then it would have to go to the Planning Commission.
Member Harrington: And Planning would do what? What would input would we receive from them?
Don Saven: Probably something of whether or not that they would recommend approval for that particular use or not. You have to bear in mind that this is still a residential application that we are dealing with.
Member Harrington: And we are expanding the retail.
Don Saven: True, and that is why it is still under our jurisdiction of whether or not we wanted to do this or not.
Member Harrington: Here is where I am hung up on the motion. These seem like really nice people and there have been no complaints about this business from day one and I was on the Board when we approved the antique thing and I supported it then. I donít quite understand in the absence of a hardship and the absence of a practical difficulty what the criteria are or what my criteria is to allow an expanded use on the site. I am not sure what that is and that is why I voted no. Not that you shouldnít have toilet facilities on site, I agree with taking the food out and the motion as proposed and I am sure that the record will reflect that there is no food sales on service, but we are going to increase 15 x 24 which is almost 400 square feet of antique sale space less that for the toilet facilities. This is an RA district.
Chairman Brennan: While I didnít get into this because I thought that we had support, I will go back to previous cases where we had renovations of historic buildings. Now granted, the Historical Committee may not have seen this building as a historical site and may be I will approach that subject with them; but we have people who are going to renovate an old facility in the City of Novi and we donít have that many. If this thing can be moved, renovated, and put to a good use I would much rather see a 100 year old barn renovated than something new going up. We have approved older structures and renovated in residential districts for business use. That was one of the criteria for the Ten Mile Barn renovation.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I also voted no for that one.
Douglas Teubert: What you said about building a new building; it is the historical value to the people of Novi. We donít really want to change anything. We want to leave it alone because it is great the way that it is. But, with the front wall falling down and the picture window ready to fall down it needs to be repaired and fixed. Our intention in regards to expanding the business, the building isnít that big and when you look at the codes for restrooms we are really not going to be adding that much; but we will be adding some. I guess that you take that into consideration. The bottom line here also and to be honest and frank with you, we are not going to get rich off of this. In fact, our hope is to have fun and to do something that we love doing and do something that will benefit Novi and give us satisfaction and that is what we are looking for out of this. I think that it will give the people of Novi some satisfaction too. That is the bottom line and that is what we are trying to do.
Chairman Brennan: I think that I mentioned the last time you were before us, that I have been in your place of business. The renovations in that Barn are superb and I am fully convinced that if there is another building on that site that can be renovated and put to use in the same course of business that you have done with the original barn I would fully support it.
Moved by Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Member Meyer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-043 THE PETITIONERíS REQUEST TO RELOCATE THIS BUILDING, TO RENOVATE IT AND MAKE IT A PART OF THE ANTIQUE BUSINESS INCLUDING TOILETRIES FOR PUBLIC USE AND EXCLUDING ANY FOOD SALES BE APPROVED.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-044 filed by Timothy Richardson
Timothy Richardson is wishing to demolish an existing home at 1511 West Lake Drive and rebuild a new home in itís place. In order to rebuild two (2) variances are needed: A lot coverage variance of 5% and a 4 foot variance for a side yard setback on the north.
Timothy Richardson was present and duly sworn.
Timothy Richardson: Basically to reiterate what was just said, I am asking for 2 variances. One is the side yard setback and the other is for lot coverage. If you look at the plot plan that I gave you that pretty much is the same house that I have on that property today. It seems kind of funny that I am here, but I am. I am trying to build a new home and make it look like other homes in my area and to stop spending money foolishly. This is what I have been doing for 19 years in that house.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 36 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was 7 written responses received all voicing approval.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven had no comment.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-044 THE PETITIONERíS VARIANCE BE GRANTED DUE TO LOT SIZE AND CONFIGURATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case NO. 99-045 filed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, representing Novi Hilton
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, representing Novi Hilton, is requesting a variance to remove an underground storage tank and replace it with an above ground fuel storage tank. The above ground storage tank is considered outside storage which is not normally permitted, for property located at 21111 Haggerty Road.
Joe Johnson was present and duly sworn.
Joe Johnson: As a means of introduction, Starwood Hotels and Resorts obviously owns and operates the Hilton on Haggerty Road at 21111. In order to comply with the DEQ they are having to upgrade their existing underground storage tank (a 1000 gallon diesel tank) located in the rear of the building and they would prefer not to go back into an underground storage situation. They are proposing to put up a 500 gallon above ground storage tank, double walled located behind a fenced in facility in the corner. It is already screened. It has all modern bells and whistles, tank monitors, delivery as needed. They just donít need 1000 gallons of products stored under the ground any longer.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 12 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: No objection.
Heidi Hannan: No comment.
Chairman Brennan: As I recall, we had a case like this before. This basically is legislated by the State and the petitioner is just following along. Because of our ordinance we have to give him a variance in order for him to meet legislation by DEQ. Is that the memory of the other Board Members?
Don Saven: Pretty much. I think that the Fire Department also has some concerns about underground storage tanks just for the fact that they are hidden time bombs and you never know what is going to happen to them; even though they construct tanks a little bit better than they did before. The bottom line is that because it is above ground it is an accessory structure and we are strict with that.
Joe Johnson: I would like to point out that this is a double walled, self contained tank with monitoring. The double walls have probes inside of them to pick up any moisture detection of either the diesel fuel or a pin prick or outside water which would happen to accumulate in the cavity. It goes to a monitor inside of the building. This product storage is for emergency generators only.
Member Meyer: Would there be any toxic or poisonous possibilities with an above ground container like this?
Joe Johnson: No, diesel fuel is not a part of the benzene family. So there are no carcinogens that everybody would immediately associate with a gasoline product.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-045 TO APPROVE THE VARIANCE AS REQUESTED BY VIRTUE OF THE PRACTICAL DIFFICULTY IMPOSED UPON US BY THE STATE OF MICHIGAN AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Joe Johnson: I would like to add and this is off of the record and has nothing to do with this case. I am the Chairman of the City of Midland, Zoning Board of Appeals and it has been a real honor working with you folks. You are very professional and I know what you go through.
Case No. 99-046 filed by Stone City
Stone City is requesting a variance to allow an off premise sign 9í x 5í (45 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 7í to be located at the northwest corner of Grand River and Taft Roads.
Tom Soulliere was present and duly sworn.
Tom Soulliere: We have just moved over to this location and we are trying to abide by all of the rules in Novi. I have come here to seek a variance for an off-premise sign. The reasons we are seeking this are first safety Ė we have had a hard time with customers who are driving up and down Grand River and Taft and they are getting confused as to where we are at. I donít know if you have been down to look at the sign, but you have to go down a hill and we donít have the sign on the front of the building and they drive down the hill, look, canít find us and then go on the other side of Taft and then they go up and down Grand River and then they get on their cell phones and call us to ask where we are at. People drive in and out of our neighborís property seeing if that is where we are at.
Tom Soulliere: Our customers are being inconvenienced because they canít find us. They drive up and down looking for us. Several of our customers have made comments that they have seen us off of the expressway for over a year and they have finally found us. They drive down 96 and they see our building and then they canít find us.
Tom Soulliere: This problem also inconveniences DeMaria and Hayes as they constantly have customers driving in and out of their places. They stop to ask "where is Stone City?". Also a couple of times I was talking to one of the Hayesí and they said that some of the people drive into their place and get in front of their trucks.
Tom Soulliere: This sign will be located on DeMariaís property on the corner. One of the reasons that Rick DeMaria allowed it was for this reason. He understood it, he has seen people coming in and out of his parking lot and things like that.
Tom Soulliere: I have talked to Alan several times on what I could do for a sign and he says there is no limit because for an off premise sign there is no code. I could ask for any size and it would basically be the Boardís decision to approve it. So, the sign that you have a copy of; I have tried to make it in reason. I want it big enough so when they go up and down Grand River they know we are there. I also made the verbiage reasonable and simple. Basically it will just have the logo and verbiage with an arrow pointing down Taft Road.
Tom Soulliere: I am jus trying to get the customers safely to our place.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 15 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Planning had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: It is almost 7 feet from ground level?
Tom Soulliere: Yes, the sign is only going to be 5 feet; this is a picture of a similar sign we have in Utica.
Chairman Brennan: For clarity, you mentioned that you are just looking at having Stone City with an arrow but we have this rendering?
Tom Soulliere: Basically I had to change that. It is going to say Michigan Skid Loader and then Gehl and Dingo and an arrow.
Chairman Brennan: So from this rendering we are going to remove IHI, Toro, Dealer, Sales, Service, Parts, Rentals?
Tom Soulliere: I think it may say that and I apologize for not bringing that.
Chairman Brennan: We need to know what it says.
Tom Soulliere: I will make sure that is clarified.
Chairman Brennan: We need that right now.
Member Reinke: We donít necessarily need the verbiage on the sign, do we?
Chairman Brennan: I am just concerned that what was given as testimony as to what they are going to have, versus the conflict on the rendering. That is the question that I asked. He said that they were just going to have Stone City and an arrow and the rendering shows a ton of other stuff.
Tom Soulliere: I apologize, I didnít mean to mis-lead you. It is going to say Gehl and the Rental, Sales and stuff; but you see I have 2 businesses that run from there and you see the other Stone City sign at our other location and it doesnít have a lot of verbiage. We want something to basically direct the people down there.
Member Harrington: Down where? To Stone City or to Michigan Skid Loader?
Tom Soulliere: To both. We get a lot of calls that people cannot find our place. They are driving up and down. I have been trying to work with Alan on this and get the best results to try to get them down to our place.
Member Harrington: There are 2 businesses out of one structure?
Tom Soulliere: It is. Basically it is not 2 businesses it is a combined business. We rent skid loaders and we also sell stone products.
Member Harrington: Do you sell them both under the name of Stone City?
Tom Soulliere: No, we also sell under Michigan Skid Loader.
Member Harrington: The reason that I am asking and I am tracking with Mr. Brennan on this, I donít see any reason why if were to approve an off-site sign that your sign has to be any bigger than 6 x 4; which is common all the way up and down Grand River. When I looked at the sign today my reaction was that it was to big. It doesnít need to be that big and that is why the verbiage may make a difference. I think that 6 x 4 is plenty big. The drivers ought to be able to find Taft Road and head north. The people who are trying to find you, say head north on Taft Road at Grand River; what is so hard about that?
Tom Soulliere: We say that. A lot of times we say that we are at the dead end of Taft and people turn there and they constantly drive around the area. They come down the hill and thenÖ.the signage is on the side of the building so they can see it from the expressway and I have talked to Alan about it and you cannot have it on both side and we have been trying to play with that so that when they come down the hill they know that is us down there. I am trying to abide by all of the regulations of Novi.
Member Harrington: Is the real problem that you need a second sign on the building, or is this going to fix the problem? When they turn on Taft Road and the canít find you anywayÖ..
Tom Soulliere: Because when we say Taft Road, a lot of times they are thinking is that north or south of Grand River? We say it is north, but they still get confused. Seriously, they cannot find us.
Member Meyer: We are trying to say that this sign should be conforming to other signs in the area. One of the efforts that we try to make at this table is to make sure that the signs do what they are supposed to do without cluttering the area.
Tom Soulliere: I also drove up and down Grand River and even the DeMaria signÖÖÖ..
Joe Scarpelli: The reason for the sign is that we are more of a specialty store and we are down at the dead end and I donít know if you have ever been at the building or if you have seen the mock sign that Tom put up. But in order to find us, you really do have to go out of your way. We are not like a lot of other stores that are out there that you can visually see and that you can find relatively easy. You have to search for our store. We want to make it just a little bit easier for our customers to find us. When you look inside the Yellow Pages and you see Taft Road and Grand River you still donít know Ė where they are exactly. You kind of have to go up the street and you are looking for something to pinpoint and then you know where to go. It is not like a lot of businesses in the area that are right there. If you go down Grand River, they are right out there in the front. Our business is just a little bit more unique and you have to go all the way down to the dead end to find us and that is why we are asking for this off premise signage.
Chairman Brennan: I have no problem with a sign like this that directs your customers to Stone City. What I do have a problem with is an advertisement which shows all of the different things that you do when the customer gets down to your building. You sell, you have parts, rentals, service, etc. you put this in the Yellow Pages; if you want a sign like this I will support you and make the motion. Those are just my comments.
Tom Soulliere: You are right. I got a little push from the Utica office to put things on there and I have been trying to appease our Utica office and the City of Novi and that would be very reasonable just to put Michigan Skid Loader. I would like to just put 2 things Gehl and Dingo the 2 things that they sell.
Member Reinke: We are getting back to a billboard again. I agree with Mr. Brennan. I can see the 2 names. I can see the direction arrow. Taft Road, etc. What you are looking for is a directional sign to be able to direct people to your business. If it was going to be in front of your building I might see putting products or something on there because it is then an on premise sign. This is an off premise sign and the only thing that I can see is company identification, direction of where to go.
Tom Soulliere: Would sales, parts and service be OK?
Chairman Brennan: You did a nice sign in Utica, canít we have one?
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Within our height, etc.
Alan Amolsch: Where it stands is not a permitted sign first of all. An off premise sign is not permitted in this zoning district. Off premise signs are only permitted in I-2 zoning districts. So the standards that we use for normal business signs donít apply to an off premise sign.
Member Reinke: I would like to see those apply as a guideline for this sign, but that is my feeling and opinion of it. I think it would be sufficient, adequate and do the job and be less intrusive than having something larger sitting at that point.
Chairman Brennan: Can you tell me off hand what the square footage is of this?
Tom Soulliere: That sign is as much square footage as I am asking.
Member Harrington: What is wrong with a nice 6 foot by 4 foot ground monument sign with an arrow and the identification of the business which is consistent with what is up and down Grand River. At least the signs that we have approved that are up and down Grand River.
Member Reinke: That sounds like a great sign to me.
Chairman Brennan: What Mr. Harrington is suggesting and I will let him reiterate; is the signage that has been typically approved for conditions like this and this is a monument type of sign that is basically built on a foundation with a relatively lowÖ..(no recording on tape)
Tom Soulliere: (no recording on tape) Ö..we are 65 feet and it other businesses they can go half of 65 and have 32 Ĺ square feet.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: That is on premises. This is off premise.
Member Meyer: It is a directional sign, an identification sign. It is not an advertisement sign. That is what we are looking at here.
Member Harrington: I do have a concern here. I would like to see and there is no emergency and you may miss a few more drivers in the next month or so, but I would like to see before actually voting what a rendering of 6í x 4í monument sign would look like on a 1í base, which would give you total of 5í. I am concerned about site lines. I am concerned as I drove by there today Ė one of my reactions was that the mock up that was there was to large. I want to be assured that you are not creating a traffic problem with people coming out or whatever. I would like to see a configuration of a sign in that same frame and I think that you would too, to make sure that a sign that is half the size of what you are asking for, that it will do the job for you. My suggestion is that we table this for one month. Letís get a scaled down size of 6í x 4í on a 1í base and you donít have to put the rest of the verbiage on there, we know what you want, but I would like to see that smaller sign to be satisfied that we are doing the right thing for you and for the City.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I like that. You said that you have a written approval from the landowner?
Tom Soulliere: I donít have it with me.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: But, you do have written approval?
Tom Soulliere: No, I donít have it in writing. I have approval. I will present that to you next month.
Member Harrington inquired of Alan Amolsch: The rendering that is there, are there any right of way issues with that?
Alan Amolsch: No, there is not.
Member Meyer: The next meeting is August 10th.
Tom Soulliere: Is there a problem if I put the sign up, the sign that you would see. If I took the risk of having the sign made and putting it up and we go that way. I talked to Alan about that and he has said that some people have done it and if you donít get it you have to take it down.
Member Reinke: There is no guarantee that you are going to get it.
Tom Soulliere: I know that.
Member Reinke: That is your choice if you want to do that.
Member Meyer: That is a gamble.
Tom Soulliere: For you to really visualize the verbiage and everything like on the sign that you see there.
Chairman Brennan inquired of Member Harrington: You were concerned about the rendering that was up there right now because of the size; and yet we have now given the petitioner a guideline of what we would like to see and they are in agreement. If they are prepared to build that sign as you suggested to build it why canít we proceed?
Member Harrington: I guess because I am conservative and I want to see the sign that I approve. That is why. I could certainly vote on that, but I am not looking at a 5í sign with a 1í base and 4í above; and I know what I saw when I was out there today and it was taller. I would like to be assured and satisfied and there is no emergency out here. It is not like there is a grand opening next month. But, I could vote if someone wants to make a motion.
Alan Amolsch: It was my understanding that you were supposed to have the letter from DeMaria in the file before this meeting. The Board cannot approve a variance without the landownerís letter in file.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: He said he would have that in August.
Tom Soulliere: I will come back to the August Meeting.
Case tabled to the August 10, 1999 Meeting.
Case No. 99-047 filed by George Fishell, representing BDís Mongolian Barbeque
George Fishell, representing BDís Mongolian Barbeque is requesting a second wall sign 11í9" x 4í3" (49.94 sq. ft.) facing Grand River Avenue, for property located at 43155 Mainstreet.
Billy Downs was present and duly sworn.
Billy Downs: I am also here with George Fishell from the sign manufacturer. I hope that most of you have seen the temporary sign that was put up last week. I think that BDís Mongolian Barbeque is a key element of the Main Street Project. We have proposed a hand carved redwood sign with beautiful gold leaf letters. It exemplifies what Main Street Projectís character is all about. In the past I have participated in the Novi Main Street Committee meetings, and invited to come because the developer was concerned about our needs for 2 signs on this particular space.
Billy Downs: The signage on Market Street is imperative to the character of downtown, our entrance and our cafť. The variance that we are requesting today is imperative to the marketing of our business and the Grand River traffic and the entrance coming from the north on Market Street. Precedence has been set with other businesses in the Town Center area, including Borderís Books and Koshís Tavern and Running Fit which have multiple signs on their buildings. Although we are requesting a variance for 49.94 square feet, the actual letters only encompass about 35 square feet and then we have the large black redwood background. We have been dedicated to this project since 1997, we are excited to get open here soon. We appreciate your time and we are sorry that we had to come to the ZBA for this. We feel that this is a very reasonable request. Any questions?
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 30 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Heidi Hannan had no comment.
Chairman Brennan: My initial take on this is that this is a case where the petitioner has a lot of traffic coming from a lot of different ways and Grand River is certainly important to him. It seems like a reasonable request. It is a relatively small sign. I couldnít find anything wrong.
Member Meyer: So you canít live without this sign?
Billy Downs: We canít live without this sign. It is a beautiful sign. It is going to be great for traffic coming off of Grand River. If you did see it, we have a lot of letters in our name; but it is visible clearly from Grand River and I think that it looks terrific and it fits the whole character of downtown. It is a very classy sign and I am very proud of it. We have other stores in the Detroit area with a similar sign. I am a Novi resident and I am very excited about this project.
Member Harrington: I knew that the Running Fit sign was going to come back and haunt us. Although my memory of Running Fit was that we did give the second sign but the second sign was significantly smaller than the first. I donít think that they are identical. My reaction when I looked at the sign and the litmus test that I always use is, A) do they need the sign?; B) do they need the sign as big as what I am looking at? My impression was that your sign was a little bigger than you need. Can you live with a 30 or 35 square foot sign?
Billy Downs: I think that we probably could have gone that route, if we had chosen not to have this background. The black background, which gives the sign class takes up a tremendous amount of square footage.
Member Harrington: Is the sign as it sits there today, identical to the sign that you are asking for, complete with background?
Billy Downs: Yes.
Member Harrington: I thought it was larger than it needed to be and that was my reaction. I think you could suffer from some shrinkage and you could still do what you need to do. That was my impression.
Chairman Brennan: What is the coloring or the facing on the building?
Billy Downs: It is a red brick building. I think that the gold leaf pops off of the black background really well right now and at night when it is lit up it is not like a channel cut letter and it is more difficult to read a gold leaf letter at night, so I would like to keep it as large as possible.
George Fishell: From the distance from Grand River you are looking at about a 9 to a 10 inch letter and the setback from Grand River is probably 600 or 700 feet. For the readability this is not real large. They have 20 letters in the name so you canít get it much smaller and have it be readable.
Member Reinke: I would fall in line with Mr. Harringtonís comments. I believe that it could be a little smaller and suffice and yet I am trying to work with the distance issue of coming in; so it is kind of a toss up between the 2 items and the 2 directions there.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-047 THAT THE PETITIONERíS REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO IDENTIFICATION OF DIRECTING TRAFFIC COMING IN FROM GRAND RIVER.
Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (1) Meyer Motion Carried
Case No. 99-048 filed by Intercity Neon, representing Gateway Computers
Intercity Neon, representing Gateway Computers is requesting to change the sign that was granted in Case No. 97-071 dated October 7, 1992 limiting the variance to a "65 square foot sign as per the rendering on the building", for property located at 25875 Novi Road in the City Center Plaza. A change of the sign requires a variance by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Walter Schaeffer was present and duly sworn.
Walter Schaeffer: We are just requesting to change the sign. The square footage is approximately the same. I think it is just a little smaller than what is up there right now. The main reason for changing is that they decided to change the color and the logo; so they need to change the sign. We are changing them all over, not just here in Novi.
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.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Planning had no comment.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-048 THE PETITIONERíS VARIANCE REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO CORPORATE IDENTIFICATION AND HE IS MAINTAINING A SLIGHTLY SMALLER SQUARE FOOTAGE.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-049 filed by Albert Allen
Albert Allen is requesting a rehearing to seek variances to move an existing home from another city into the City of Novi and to construct a garage on site. By RESOLUTION adopted by City Council on February 11, 1980, a Board of Appeals hearing is mandatory for each house move from an outside location into the City. Additionally, he is in need of a 21í rear yard setback variance and a 12í exterior side yard variance (corner lot).
Don Thorpe was present and duly sworn.
Don Thorpe: I am the property owner of the property that we are requesting variance for. I have a purchase agreement contingent upon the variance approvals with Mr. Allen. We are requesting variances and we have 2 hardships. One is that the existing setbacks would provide us with a house that is 11 feet wide and this would be an unconventional house and would definitely be very hard to sell in the future. We also have a corner lot and the requirements are 30 feet for the exterior side yard. So we are requesting 2 variances. I have a diagram that I can pass out that shows what the footprint would look like going by the required setbacks and what the footprint is of the new house.
Chairman Brennan: Is this new construction?
Don Thorpe: Mr. Allen would like to bring in a manufactured home and put it on a basement.
Chairman Brennan: What is the difference from the last time that we heard this case? What is new?
Don Thorpe: We have changed the size of the garage. We have moved the house back so that we no longer require a front yard setback. So we are just asking for 2 variances; and exterior side yard setback and a backyard setback.
Chairman Brennan: We will continue to hear your case; but I donít want you to waste your time. The issue was not the setbacks, the issue was whether a new home could be constructed on this lot in lieu of bringing in a manufactured home. That was why the variance was turned down.
Member Meyer: I would totally agree with the Chairman.
Chairman Brennan: If the plan is to bring a manufactured home onto that lot, that was exactly why we turned it down the last time. I am sorry, but somebody has missed something here. It was very specific at issue of whether a new construction could be built on that lot.
Don Thorpe: So you are turning it down because it is the manufactured home?
Chairman Brennan: We turned it down the first time because of that. That is why I asked what is new this time.
Don Thorpe: Just the position of the house.
Member Harrington: I am sure that our minutes will confirm the discussion and the rationale of the Board, but my memory was that specifically the hardship that is involved here is self created. It is created by virtue of the existing manufactured home. One of my additional concerns was that I didnít have adequate information in terms of what that house looked like. There were no photographs; there were no renderings or the like. The larger issue for me was that this was a self created problem when there was no showing that new construction could not be placed on site. It was not necessarily a bias against a manufactured home, the rationale was that this particular manufactured home requires variance to come in here and there is no showing that a regular new construction stick built house could not be built. Which mean by definition that it is self created. I think that is what the Board turned on. The burden of proof failed because the hardship is self created.
Don Thorpe: I have a diagram here that would show that you would have an 11 foot wide house; if you went with the existing setbacks and you built a stick built house on this piece.
Member Meyer: What we are trying to do here is to help you so that you donít go into the long presentation here and find out that in all good faith you are doing what you are doing; but we have already decided that this is not going to work.
Don Thorpe: Thank you.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: We still have to act on this.
Member Reinke: We are denying the rehearing.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-049 TO DENY THE REQUEST FOR REHEARING BY VIRTUE OF NO NEW EVIDENCE BEING SUBMITTED TO THE BOARD.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Chairman Brennan: It is unfortunate that they didnít quite understand what was going on that night.
Case No. 99-050 filed by Intercity Neon, representing Ethan Allen
Intercity Neon, representing Ethan Allen, is requesting a 36 square foot variance to allow for the placement of a wall sign 12.75í x 6í (76.5 sq. ft.) to be placed on the south elevation of the building facing Twelve Oaks Mall, for property located at 42845 Twelve Mile Road.
Walter Shaeffer: We are requesting the sign to be installed on the south side of the building. If you were out to the site we have a rendering of the building with the sign showing on the coming soon sign. With riding around the territory over there all of the other signs in the area, this kind of meets with that. Red Lobster, the furniture store, the Dennyís and everything; we are all pretty much in compliance with that. We are only asking for a little bit of the square footage in addition to the 40. Did you see the rendering out there? I think that it fits with the size of the building. The building is over 100 feet wide and 76 square foot is not that much for signage.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 6 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Chairman Brennan: I had asked Alan earlier today to dig up what we thought was acceptable for the Hagopian building given the similar situation with wanting the signage on the south facing the parking lot or Twelve Oaks.
Alan Amolsch: The Board allowed a 50 square foot wall sign facing the mall.
Chairman Brennan: That was the purpose in my asking Alan, I know that we have had discussion about what does this rear sign facing the parking lot really do for the applicant. Basically it channels in traffic that is either already in Twelve Oaks or has seen the facility from Twelve Mile and gives them some recognition from the south side. I donít see anything that would persuade me to do anything more than what we have down with others given the same conditions. But, I also want to know and I tried to get a message throughÖyou have to have plans for a sign on the Twelve Mile side.
Walter Shaeffer: We have no request for that from them. This is the only sign that I know of that they are requesting.
Chairman Brennan: The reason that I am asking is that if there is a Twelve Mile sign, I would prefer to see an entire sign package before we even consider any variance for a sign on the back side. If you are speaking for Ethan AllenÖ.
Walter Schaeffer: We have the drawings. I am doing the manufacturing for the builder and these are the only drawings that I have for the building showing a sign on the building. This is for the south side. There is absolutely nothing for the north.
Alan Amolsch: We had no request for additional signage; those plans were what was submitted to our department. In fact, I assumed that when I got the plans and when I called the sign company that they were talking about the Twelve Mile side; but they informed me that they were talking about the mall side which changed the square footage computation of what would be allowed. They did not want or request a Twelve Mile Road sign at this point.
Don Saven: I think that the configuration of the building relative to the grade is a major issue and I think whether they put a sign on that side of Twelve Mile you wouldnít even see it.
Walter Schaeffer: It would look into a wall of dirt and basically there is no elevation there to see the building.
Chairman Brennan: So we are looking at a single sign on the south side facing Twelve Oaks and my comments relative to what we have considered livable over ordinance. I prefer this to be in line with some continuity along the Twelve Mile corridor.
Walter Schaeffer: I looked at the Lazy Boy sign and they have 2 signs; one facing the mall and they have one facing Novi. The one facing the mall is twice the size that we are requesting here, plus they have one facing Novi Road. Red Lobster has 2 signs.
Chairman Brennan: One of the reasons that we ask for mock ups is to get a real perspective of what that sign looks like. That building is very close to the traffic flow and it seemed overwhelming at 76 square feet which is nearly twice that of ordinance. I will live with my own feeling that a sign of 50 square feet, similar to what is a very similar condition and in close proximity would serve your purpose.
Member Reinke: I agree. I drove by there again tonight before coming over here just to kind of reiterate what my feelings were on that and looking at Hagopian and with what we went through and in making comparisons I think that the 50 square foot would be sufficient to give them proper identification for any direction or access to their business.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I would agree; you are only talking about mall traffic.
Chairman Brennan: It is seemingly the gist of the Board that there is not a lot of support for a 76.5 sq. ft. sign. Our general interest is to get that closer to 50 and I donít know if that is within your power to do.
Walter Schaeffer: Yes, I would be able to recommend to them that we go down. So I would like to amend our request to a 50 square foot sign.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-050 THE PETITIONERíS REQUEST FOR A 50 SQUARE FOOT SIGN BE PERMITTED DUE TO BUSINESS IDENTIFICATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-051 filed by Maria Nuculaj
Maria Nuculaj is proposing the construction of a 4í masonry fence/wall to be located within the required front yard of her home. This fence/wall is setback approximately 8í from the front property line and located within an easement which has been approved by City Council subject to the signing of a "Hold Harmless Agreement". The existing front yard setback is approximately 36.43í. The zoning district is R-3, requiring a minimum 30í front yard setback.
Maria Nuculaj was present and duly sworn.
Maria Nuculaj: I live on a corner lot, just kind of busier than I thought before we moved in. This is right on Nine Mile and Meadowbrook. I have 3 little ones; aged 11 and down. We do work a lot and being that we are a corner lot, it is just that the traffic is heavier than we thought. What we are trying to do is for safety reasons because the kids do like to play ball and be out there in the summer; and as far as a little bit of privacy being that we are in the dead center of a corner lot. It is about 4í high and it is just dead center of my driveway in the front of the house itself.
Maria Nuculaj: Just like I said, safety reasons for the kids to play and to be out as well as I am going to say that it is going to look nice because it matches the appearance and privacy as well. Giving us a little bit of privacy from the road itself.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 27 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. The petitioner has given a list of close by neighbors and that would be 13 for a total of 14 approvals.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven: Maria, will you explain to the Board where you want this wall because your plan came in and it showed it was deleted on both sides of your entrance, you just want to put it in the center area?
Maria Nuculaj: In the center where I have circled it. I originally did want it, the full sides; but they had to told me that it was to much and they wonít let me. That is why I had signed the copy and had delete at the 2 corners. So it is only dead center, in the middle, right in front of my house.
Don Saven: That is in between the circular drive area. The second issue is that Maria has been before City Council regarding the easement issue and she needs to provide the City with a hold/harmless letterÖ.
Maria Nuculaj: Right, and I did provide that. I came in and signed. They kept one in the City Clerkís office and one they said they would give to you, and one I have for a copy. I do have that with me, if you need to check it out.
Don Saven: You are the last agency that she has to go through.
Chairman Brennan: I have watched this house being built and there has been a lot of family help, it looks like.
Maria Nuculaj: Yes, everybody, even my little ones.
Member Meyer: Have some of these walls been constructed already? I was just down in that area the other day andÖ.
Maria Nuculaj: Those are the columns. They did give us the option to put the columns in, but I wanted the walls and they said that they couldnít do the walls. The columns are there and we have a permit for the columns and not the wall.
Member Meyer: Another item that comes up, I saw somewhere in here that you wanted to put a fence up on the circular drive?
Maria Nuculaj: No, not a fence. We do have people who literally drive into our driveway and stop; are they lost or are they just curious for whatever reason. What I am saying is a gate, I donít want anyone to be coming in and out. That will be eventually, but not very soon.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: How long is that wall going to be between the pillars?
Maria Nuculaj: Twelve feet wide for the length and 4 feet high.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: It just looks longer than 12í.
Maria Nuculaj: Yes, it does look longer than that, but it is stated on the letter.
Member Meyer: Would there be any concern from the people living behind you, will this wall go along the back in any way? It looks here like it is along the side.
Maria Nuculaj: This is dead center, in the front of the house, in the middle, so you know when they pass or get to the light there is something blocking and they canít see. I did check with the neighbor behind me and he did sign and said he had no problem with that.
Chairman Brennan: The site line looking down that wall, the gate and everything and the landscaping that has already been planted and this is all a part of it.
Maria Nuculaj: Right.
Member Meyer: It is remarkable what you have done.
Maria Nuculaj: I would not do it again. It took us a very long time and a lot of gray hairs.
Member Harrington inquired of Don Saven: Do I correctly understand that the variance request before us tonight is a single 12 foot section of brick wall that is 4 foot high?
Maria Nuculaj: That is correct.
Don Saven: It is a fence/wall. I did this for a purpose and the reason being is that it is a structure number one and it is a fence. So to cover us in both aspects and to bring them both to light that is basically what it is about. The fence/wall/structure.
Member Harrington: Why do you need this brick wall, rather than landscaping or trees or something else that could provide you privacy or screening? Why do you have to have concrete or bricks?
Maria Nuculaj: OK, I will tell you one reason. First as I have said I have 3 little ones. I have been told in know on record that before we built the house, before we were there, a good few years ago; that was the farm where they raised horses. I am feeling safer with the kids, being that we are at work, that there was a car accident there and one of the cars jumped the curb, jumped the fence and hit a horse there and how can you guarantee that they are not going to do the same thing. With that wall I have a peace of mind. I am not saying it is going to happen and only God knows that, but with that wall and stuff I feel safe. If someone is going to get drunk, high or whatever the situation is and they are going to go through there that wall is going to protect my kids, us and give me a little peace of mind.
Member Harrington: The problem that I have is that as a matter of logic you have a frontage there which is significantly wider or longer than 12í; all that does is to protect the concrete drive. Are you suggesting that the children are going to be playing in the driveway right next to the street?
Maria Nuculaj: No, not right next to the street but inside of the driveway itself. They want to play ball, they want to skate, basketball and all of that and they canít do it on either side because it is grass and it is hard to do and they would be doing it more or less in the driveway area there right in the center of where I want to put that wall more or less.
Member Harrington: Arenít the children safer if they are playing in the backyard?
Maria Nuculaj: Well, letís say that they want to play ball or something where they would need concrete or to skate, they canít do that in the back or on the side being that it is a grassed area.
Member Harrington: I donít know if that is going to solve your problem, I really donít. Is your plan to like fence them in, so that they can play ball and hope the ball wonít bounce over the 4í fence and go onto Nine Mile?
Maria Nuculaj: Not quite that we would fence them in, but even if they are just walking or trying to plant flowers as we are going to try to make it more presentable than it is, it gives how should I say; I havenít seen anything happen yet but I have seen more or less as I would quote young punks driving by with loud music, what if they want to be nosey and get closer to the curb and they move more than they should. I am just saying it is more protection, more like a barrier or something because that is right dead center in the front of my house where we go in and out of the garage and in and out the house. We do more activity there than we would do at the rest of the house.
Member Harrington: You are the mom and you have to protect your kids, I drive by that on the way to my office every day of my life or at least I used to until they shut down the Nine Mile and Novi Road right turn and I know that area very well. I think that it is not as hazardous as you think; but I think that there is tons more room in the back yard than the front yard and I would be very cautious about letting children play in the front yard and I donít care how big the fence is and what it is made out of, I just wouldnít do it and I donít think that 12í feet where your driveway is open and you are satisfied with evergreens and shrubs apparently for the remainder of it; I donít think that this is going to fix your problem. I donít think that it is going to make the kids any safer and in fact you may think that it is safe when it fact it could be more dangerous. I donít know. That is my reaction and I drive by it every day.
Chairman Brennan: There are 4 pillars, the section in the middle is where she wants that 12í wall.
Member Harrington: That is correct, it would just protect the driveway.
Chairman Brennan: But, the driveway is also going to be gated.
Maria Nuculaj: Right, eventually it is going to have those metal gates.
Chairman Brennan: So if she has the 4 foot wall and the 2 metal gates on the pillars.
Member Harrington: Right, and then landscaping.
Chairman Brennan: On the outside, yes. So the entire front of her house then is protected with gating and this wall.
Member Harrington: No, just up to the driveway is protected by gating, the rest is landscaping.
Vice-Chairman Brennan: The only gates are here and here.
Chairman Brennan: Yes and here is the front of the house.
Member Meyer: Your point is well taken, Mr. Harrington, because if they start playing basketball or something and the ball bounces over that 4í wall you are still out on Nine Mile and so there is a safety factor here that I believe that he has brought to our attention.
Chairman Brennan: I believe that there is a lot of issues with this case and the case is pretty lengthy. What is before us tonight is a 12í masonry wall that is 4í tall in the easement, which the City has a hold/harmless agreement. So the City has given approval and now she needs a ZBA variance.
Member Harrington: That is right, for the concrete wall that is in the front yard; which I do not support. I think that the same argument which is applicable to this is applicable every house in Novi wherever you have traffic. There is no other houses remotely close to Nine Mile and Meadowbrook Road, Novi Road which has concrete walls in the front yard protecting the children playing in the driveway. I donít see what the hardship is, I really donít.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: The only thing is that it faces Nine Mile, where most of the other homes are set way back.
Member Reinke: I have to agree with Mr. Harrington. The thing is, we are putting something here that almost looks like a quick band aide to the situation and I think that screening and trees would have a lot more affect with what they are trying to do and without having such an intrusive fixture there for the lack of a better term that we are going to have and it is going to be there. I think that there is a better solution out there than this.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: When that car went through and killed that horse, it went through a couple of big wooden posts; because I know when that happened. He went about 50í after knocking those poles down. Again, it could happen any time, you could also go through the brick fence.
Maria Nuculaj: I donít see the harm in putting it up when it will give it beautification, I am not saying that it will or wonít I just think that with the peace of mind it would be safer. There is nothing under there. What we wanted originally was on both sides where I wrote deleted and the reasons that they denied it the other time was the utility poles and what have you and in the center of the house there was nothing that was obstructing anything to breaking under the ground for the foundation part. Plus I know a lot of other busy roads, but our house is very close to the curb and it is in the dead center of a big, major, Meadowbrook and Nine Mile which is pretty busy. I didnít think it was that busy until I moved in and you canít even open your windows to sleep without the traffic being so heavy. If it is heavy during the night I know that during the day it is much heavier than that.
Chairman Brennan: I know that Maria has been in to see you a number of times. Were other options discussed?
Don Saven: The landscape issue, the berming issue; I believe that was discussed and which she has done on the other portions of the property.
Member Meyer: I am just not comfortable with a wall going up there. Particularly a wall that is not compatible with other homes in the area as well. As far as I am concerned the children should play in the back yard.
Maria Nuculaj: One more comment. All the houses there have so much more setback or such much more room than ours. One thing that I was told was that why didnít we do way in the beginning when we started was why didnít we come in front of the Council or you guys and move the house back? When we went to apply for the papers they go that is as far back as you could go. If I had my choice I would have put the house as far, far back as I could so it would give us more room in the front to work with and to give us more space. But at that time they told us that was all that was given and then when the house went up and the driveway and all the little stuff that gave very little room for the front side. If I could have I would have definitely gone back.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Yes, but you have another home in the back and on Meadowbrook.
Maria Nuculaj; But they said that is as far as we could go and that is as far as we went.
Chairman Brennan: I am going to try to help you here. There are 5 Board Members and you need 4 votes of yes to get your variance. I think that you can see where 3 or 4 of them are. We can either vote right now and it may not work out for you and you are back to ground one. The other option is to ask us to continue this and to come up with a different plan. I donít think that if you are going to ask us to vote right now, you are going to get a variance.
Maria Nuculaj: But it looks like 2 of youÖ..
Chairman Brennan: But you will need 4 to vote yes. The other option is that this is a short Board as I explained earlier; next month we should have at least 6 or maybe 7 and with that you would need a majority; you would still need 4 but out of the 6.
Maria Nuculaj: That would be 4 out of the 6, and tonight it s 4 out of the 5. So in other words if I wait one more month I get one more person that might be in favor of my case.
Chairman Brennan: I think that there is 3 on the Board that have expressed their real concern about having a brick wall on Nine Mile on a residential parcel. I am just giving you some guidance and perhaps rather than forcing the vote tonight and putting you right back at ground one, if you ask for a continuance it would perhaps give you more time to come up with something different.
Mr. Nuculaj (?): Let me ask, do I have the right to hire a lawyer to get done with this?
Chairman Brennan: You can hire a lawyer anytime.
Mr. Nuculaj (?): Then that is what I want to do.
Maria Nuculaj: We have been through a lot and we have tried so hard. It is just that originally we wanted it one way and you guys said no Ö
Chairman Brennan: Sir, if that is what you would like to do then we should vote on this now so that you donít have to come back.
Mr. Nuculaj (?) I am done with you guys. You have given us so much of a hard time since the first day that we came to the City of Novi and from this moment we are going to get a lawyer.
Maria Nuculaj: We were just hoping that we could go through this without going through all of this red tape. Can we just postpone this until next week?
Vice-Chairman Bauer: That would be next month.
Mr. Nuculaj (?): Next month, we are going to the lawyer now.
Maria Nuculaj: Like I said we have done nearly 40 to 50% of the work ourselves and we have been trying so hard to meet everyoneís needs.
Don Saven: We need to know whether to postpone orÖ.
Chairman Brennan: I think that we have a split opinion here. Letís continue this and put this on the agenda and if they donít show up next month we will act on it then.
Chairman Brennan: We will put you on the agenda and if you change your mind you can talk to the Building Department. I know what you have gone through and we have all read your case.
Mr. Nuculaj (?): We were forced to put that 300í of sidewalk and do all of that seeding.
Maria Nuculaj: All of the houses were built about the same time and no one was forced to put the walkway in but us, and then we were more or less denied or pushed in because if we really knew that we didnít have to do it; why did we have to do it when the neighbor next door didnít do it. We are only asking for 12 feet and I donít see the problem. What is the problem and what is so wrong against it? Postpone us.
Don Saven: I have a couple of issues that I would like to bring up to you. In your packetÖ.
Debbie Bundoff: I just have a question. For probably 6, 7 or 8 years or maybe longer, I used to get yearly requests about the mall and their outdoor sales for both Builders Square which is now HQ and K Mart. I donít get those any more. But they seem to continuously add on to what they are doing out there. I mean the entire back of HQ all the way up to the construction is full of storage of their stuff and they even have sales out in the back on Donnelson Drive. Isnít that something that is supposed to come before you?
Don Saven: I am not aware of the sales on Donnelson Drive.
Debbie Bundoff: You actually have to drive around the back and pick your stuff up.
Don Saven: Are you sure that they are just not loading up?
Debbie Bundoff: No, it is stuff that they are selling.
Don Saven: We will check into that.
Chairman Brennan: Maybe you should call ordinance enforcement, some of these arrangements that we have had with Builders Square and others for outdoor we have granted for more than one year, so that they donít have to come before us every year. But if they are doing something over and above then please call ordinance enforcement and they will pull the case to see what was approved.
Debbie Bundoff: They added onto Builders Square and then added on a little more and now they have an 8í high fence and they have gone beyond that.
Alan Amolsch: We are already looking into this. We have informed the new manager or HQ that they are in violation. They are going to have to clean up that site. She is right. They have gone way beyond their fenced area and they were told about a month and a half ago to get all of their stuff into the fenced area that the Board approved, but the have stuff all over the place. We are working on it.
Debbie Bundoff: K Mart sometimes goes out the whole parking lot, where there isnít even parking to go into the door of the garden area.
Alan Amolsch: That is often the trouble when you give a little bit of a variance to somebody and then they expand.
Chairman Brennan: Is that part of your record?
Alan Amolsch: Yes.
Chairman Brennan: Then that will come back to haunt them because they will have to come back in front of us for a variance extension and the first thing we do in a case like that is to ask Alan about the history and the track record. If they have problems, then they will have a problem with us the next time.
Debbie Bundoff: I know that when the mall used to be under one thing we used to get the notices, but now that they have split and sold parcels and lots and things we are no longer in that footage of where you get the notices and basically without the input of anybody but the mall because tenants usually donít complain about the other tenants because that puts pressure on them from the mall.
Alan Amolsch: I think that the last variance granted was a 3 year variance, with continuing jurisdiction.
Debbie Bundoff: It is continuously getting bigger.
Alan Amolsch: You are right and we are aware of it. K Mart is not as bad but Ö.
Chairman Brennan: Is it Board history that when something comes to light that we call them back? It is up to our continuing jurisdiction.
Alan Amolsch: We are going to issue a citation, if they donít clean it up. But we can also bring them back for a rehearing.
Chairman Brennan: I am going to ask that under other matters that you give us a report or a letter of what happens.
Debbie Bundoff: It just seems that at times when people go to stop to pick up their stones and things that you canít even drive through and people arenít in their vehicles, so if there is an emergency and there is quite often some fire trucks that have to go back there and recently there has been a few calls to that area they canít get through there because if a little, tiny ranger pickup truck canít get through; you know a fire truck ainít going through there.
Alan Amolsch: We worked with them for awhile because HQ took over and they had growing pains and were putting new things in there; but it is not a good situation.
Chairman Brennan: Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will have a report next month.
Don Saven: I have 3 issues and I am going to try to be very brief and maybe you can help me out with a couple of them. In your packet you previously alluded to some issues regarding "you donít receive good notices or anything like this"; there was a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Jack Consiglio indicating that "recently my husband and I had the pleasure of attending our first Board Meeting with you and found it to be a very interesting and worthwhile experience. We are former residents of Warren, Michigan and I must say that your Meetings are far more productive in terms of getting the job done. A special thanks to the Board Members Brennan and Harrington whom we felt conducted the Meeting in a sensible manner and stuck to the issues. We are looking forward to a long term stay in your City and hope to find the opportunity to attend many more of your meetings."
Don Saven: Now comes the bad news. As you well know we are getting into some heavy commercial activity in this City. A lot of plans are going through the site plan process and what have you. It appears that the months of May, June, July and possibly August may be heavy hit items for Agenda items. It has been the Board policy that we deal with 15 cases. What I am asking for right now is that maybe we can increase that case load for those particular months.
Member Harrington: What kind of cases? If they are sign cases, I am not inclined to expand the docket because I donít view them as critical as construction cases. Is there a particular kind of case which is being unduly delayed?
Don Saven: I think that those which are pending upon the nature of construction and being able to move a project along in terms of construction activity, maybe those are something that the Board may want to consider. I can see this happening and I can see more cases coming about, even with the amount of activity that is out there. Even the Planning Department went onto 2 Meetings a month right now so we know that we are going to receive the residual affect or the pressure to either to go to 2 meetings per month or go to 1 meeting with an extended case load for basically those months that we are dealing with.
Chairman Brennan: Well, I think that we didnít handle this last meeting with a consortium of input. Nancy called me and we made some changes. I feel comfortable in handling it from a month to month basis; if it looks like it is becoming unmanageable. I would just as soon go to 12 oíclock once a month than 2 meetings a month.
Member Reinke: Here is the problem, already from what we have handled tonight we have 5 cases on the docket for next month that we have tabled. Right there it is saying that the way we are operating you can only put 10 cases on the docket.
Don Saven: Then we are going backwards, we are really going to have a problem.
Chairman Brennan: I think that we all must make a conscious effort on these tabled cases. They are the first ones up, letís get the information and letís move on them. Everyone of these case, we have all of the background information and typically we have given them some direction. Letís try to at least on the tabled cases work as a group to push these through.
Don Saven: Picking up the sense that we are not going to do this with the sign cases but we are going to do this on something that is relative to construction.
Chairman Brennan: I concur with Jimís thoughts, sign cases are not life threatening.
Member Reinke: Then we are in a pick and choose situation. We ran into that when we did the sign cases last and why should a guy that applied at the first of the month be here until midnight. Then we went back to the way of whoever applies first gets to be heard first and then it goes on down the line.
Chairman Brennan: I think that that should be the way still. We already are putting the carry over cases first on the docket and then the rest as they come in; whether it is a sign case or not. I think that Jimís comments were "do we need to have 20 cases because there are 7 extra sign cases" and I would be more reluctant to have those pushed off then to put them on. If we have to expand beyond the 15 or 16 cases and it is due to a construction I am more sensitive to that than I would be to a sign case.
Alan Amolsch: Many times sign cases that come it is somebody elseís fault that they didnít get their homework done earlier enough and then they come to us and "I have to have this right away"; well where were they 4 months ago? The project has been going on and they knew they would need signs and they come at the last minute.
Member Reinke: The other possibility, and I just throw this out, is to hold a time line on discussion and input.
Chairman Brennan: That would be time management and that would be my job. Maybe I need to do a better job and cut the people off and donít let them reiterate the issues.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: The Planning Commission gives time limits.
Don Saven: I think that what makes us very successful. You are very thorough on what you do and how you go about it.
Member Reinke: What I am saying, I didnít throw it out to be critical, it is a tool. That is the only other way that I see as a way to be able to handle more cases within a reasonable time frame.
Chairman Brennan: Here is another idea and I just thought of this, some of the sign cases we get hung up because we are dealing with the sign manufacturer and not the owner. Can we make a strong recommendation that if we have a sign case in front of us, then a representative should be here from the business.
Member Reinke: I think that we need to pinpoint the petitioner and whether it be the sign company or the actual business themselves. Do they have the authority deal with this? We are not going through and spending a half hour or 45 minutes with these people and then they say "I have to go back and ask the owner".
Chairman Brennan: That is my point, how do you get to that early in the chase?
Member Reinke: I think that when you make your presentation, you have the authority to speak of that.
Don Saven: We should hit them right up front, in the petition process.
Member Reinke: Really we should. There is no reason that somebody should be able to tell us right up front that they have the authority to deal with us directly tonight, or are you here gathering information?
Chairman Brennan: Well we can do that either in the application process at the Building Department or I can make it a line item in my swearing in Ö..
Member Reinke: I think that we almost have to deal with it here because the guy that comes in and picks up the application isnít the person who comes before us.
Chairman Brennan: Why donít we try this next month; after the point where a person has stated his nameÖ..
Member Reinke: I donít think that I would throw that in there; I think that you need to address this to each individual case and just as you call this caseÖÖ
Chairman Brennan: That is what I was talking about, right after his name when the case is called and he is sworn in then we have the line item in there of "are you in the position to represent this case and any variations?
Member Reinke: That would be fine, because then it is defined before we spend all of this time.
Chairman Brennan: I agree, letís give it a try next time. I will put it in right after we call the case, when he introduces himself we will then ask "are you in the position to represent this case and any variations or concessions" or something.
Don Saven: To act on this case with modifications or something along this line.
Member Meyer: I just want to go on record as saying that after sitting on the school board for 12 years and going into some meetings that went until 1 or 2 in the morning; I am totally opposed to anything being discussed at this table after 12 midnight. I just donít think that we can render a fair decision if we are not going to be alert and aware. Now, if it is an extreme emergency and very critically important to the City then I would say OK as an exception. I do not want to see that this Zoning Board is going to meet once a month and that we are doing 12, 1 or 1:30 in the morning.
Chairman Brennan: I think it is an issue of time management. I think that Laverne has a good idea of how we get better. We find out if the person has the authority to deal with it. Letís try it.
Member Harrington: One other observation and it is just an observation and I am not sure that it is a problem that we can fix but it is the composition of the Board itself and the commitment of the Board Members. When we end up with a short Board which given illness or vacation or a meeting that may run over in our "real" lives which are not the Board, it can be a challenge to have a full Board. Every meeting that we do not have a full Board, it hurts us and the petitioners that are before us and we are forced to play catch up because of the cases that we have volunteered to kick over to the next month or that we gently suggested to them to come back in front of a full Board; that is a problem and it is not one subject to an easy fix. But it is a problem. If I were to go backwards over the last 12 to 14 months, my guess would be that there is probably at least 5 to 6 meetings that we have had here over the last year to 14 months that we have had a short Board. That is a problem but I donít know what to do about it. It is by observation only.
Chairman Brennan: A good solution, we write a letter to the mayor that suggests we add a second alternate.
Member Harrington: It is hard enough finding a first one.
Chairman Brennan: Is that a legitimate solution that we have a second alternate?
Member Harrington: It may not be practical in the sense that who is going to want to site here as a second alternate?
Chairman Brennan: I know that when Mr. Fannon applied that there were 5 or 6 other applicants and maybe of those 5 or 6 one would have enjoyed being an alternate; just to become educated with the process and to be ready to be a full time Member.
Member Reinke: It is food for thought. I donít know if it has viability or not.
Chairman Brennan: It could be a simple request to the Mayor and have her discuss it with Council.
Member Reinke: I think it is something that we all need to think about and we can put it under "Other Matters" at our next meeting. I donít think that we want to jump to quick, to soon saying that we need someone and the next 6 months in a row, we have everybody showing up. And then it is why are you guys crying fire and you donít need anybody.
Chairman Brennan: Except that we are back to where we started from and we are going to be deluged with a whole series of cases.
Don Saven: Yes, from May to August are the prime times. Now in this particular case and you are looking at the agenda and you are looking at more sign cases than you are structural cases and this is really unusual. I know that the structural cases are now going to come before us. I donít want to have to put them off when they are under a time line and money commitments to get things done for the financing, to get things moving and then they are dealing with the weather conditions coming up for winter time and this is major hit items.
Member Reinke: What if you had Nancy survey all of the Board Members, do you know now that you are going to have conflicts and you are not going to be attending a Board Meeting?. We really have, other than somebody volunteering ahead at letís say the August Meeting that I wonít be here for the September Meeting because I will be out of town. Most people would know between now and the end of the year if you have something planned that you are going to be out of town that week. Then we would kind of know where attendance is going to be for the next 5 months. Maybe then it would warrant going to Council to ask for another alternate.
Chairman Brennan: Well letís think about, before we do anything we will give it more thought.
Don Saven: One last item and real quick. I have been requested through the Planning Department to suggest the fact that the Planning Representative does not have to be here for everything, OK, and that is understood. But is there a possibility that the Board would accept commentary from the Planning Commission that is consultants in the packet or a recommendation that is a part of that particular site. One the sites that are tough sites, she would be here to make comments on; but for the rest of them which are small or minor would you have a problem with that?
Member Reinke: Under one condition, that it is not sitting in front of us in writing when we walk in here.
Chairman Brennan: I have a problem with that because we are depending upon the Planning Commission to decide what is an important case to send somebody to; and I think that there is a possibility in any case that we would want clarification or some comment by Planning. Tonight was an exception, there wasnít anything on any case that Planning had any input on. But other nights we have dragged them over the barrel.
Don Saven: That is one of the comments that I got back. We did have an issue regarding Santos whereby a comment was made that the City did not work with them enough; when in fact that they did. They spent a lot of time trying to get this guy to move in this direction and Santos was just not seeing this, he was not moving forward, but we did and Planning did and everybody worked hard to get him in the right direction. That is pretty tough for that agency to get a rap like that when it didnít happen.
Member Harrington: It wasnít from us?
Don Saven: Yes, it was from us. That we did not work with the client or with Santos enough. When in fact we sat down with them, Planning sat down with them on many occasions.
Chairman Brennan: That is right, but there is some background there; it was between the second and the third meeting when we had asked the 2 to get together and they had not in that whole month.
Don Saven: I asked him directly, would you please meet with these people and I know that you guys are aware of that and if he doesnít make a move we canít force him to come to the table. Anyhow, the issue was whether or not that you want to see them there Ė just let me know and I will make the necessary arrangements with my boss.
Chairman Brennan: It just is that they donít want to send somebody to the meeting?
Don Saven: It is very difficult because it is a financial thing too, because this person is getting paid overtime and whatever.
Chairman Brennan: We meet for an average of about 3 hours, once a month.
Member Harrington: Don, I have one question. I think it is great that lawyers get business and it sounds like the lawyers are going to get more business after that last case tonight; but, do we have an actual verbatim transcript of tonightís meeting? I donít see a recorder going.
Don Saven: It is in the back.
Member Harrington: So it will be available for purposes of preparation of minutes and the like?
Don Saven: Absolutely. Nancy will do the minutes and they should be verbatim. It will be on tape. Our young lady here will do the motions, she has them all down. Hopefully we will get them as soon as possible.
Chairman Brennan: They plucked Angie from the assessorís department.
Don Saven: Oh no, she volunteered.
Member Harrington: Where are we on Planning? Are they no longer going to attend, or by invitation or are they going to decide what is important or what?
Don Saven: It is up to the Board. What is the Boardís pleasure?
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I think that they should be here.
Chairman Brennan: I am surprised that they see a 3 hour meeting, once a month as a financial burden.
Member Reinke: I think that in any Planning situation that comes before us, and usually we get minutes of their discussion and usually they have their recommendations in there and I feel that if we have this information in our packet for reviewÖÖ..(tape inaudible)
(a motion was made to allow the Planning Department to be excused from attending the ZBA Meetings. Vote was 4-1 that Planning must attend the meetings.) Ė per notes from Angela Moncrief.
The Meeting was adjourned at 11:30 p.m.
Date Approved Nancy C. McKernan