REGULAR MEETING Ė ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS Ė CITY OF NOVI
CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 TEN MILE RD.
Tuesday Ė September 7, 1999
The Meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. with Chairman Brennan presiding.
Present Members Meyer, Bauer, Brennan, Fannon, Reinke, Harrington
Also Present Terrance Morrone Ė Deputy Building Official
Heidi Hannan Ė Community Development Coordinator
Alan Amolsch Ė Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Nancy McKernan Ė Recording Secretary
Chairman Brennan indicated we have a full Board present tonight. The Meeting is now in session. The Zoning Board of Appeals is a Hearing Board empowered by the City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of the Novi Zoning Ordinance. It takes a vote of at least four (4) Members to approve a variance request and a vote of the majority to deny. We do have a full Board, so any decisions tonight will be final.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Brennan indicated we do have a couple of changes. We will strike Case No. 99-066, the Midas sign case; it will be tabled to the October 5, 1999 Meeting. Any other changes to the Agenda? Hearing none, we will move for approval. All in favor please say aye. All ayes. The agenda is approved as amended.
Chairman Brennan indicated this is the Public Remarks portion of the Meeting all comments related to a case on the agenda should be held until that case is called. If anyone wishes to address the Board to any matter or case that is not on our agenda; now is the time. (No one wished to be heard at this time.)
Case No. 99-042 filed by the Solomon Group
Continuation of case filed by the Solomon Group requesting a variance from the 4í6" obscuring earth berm and wall requirement along the south property line of the Society Hill project.
Joe Galvin was present.
Joe Galvin: At the last meeting of the Board, I appeared before you and Ms. Bundoff the neighboring property owner also appeared, the Board tabled the matter suggesting that we meet with Ms. Bundoff to arrange for the landscaping that would be shown along the area of her property. We did that. We have a plan that Mr. Sasson just handed to me and which I understand is satisfactory to Ms. Bundoff. We believe that we had established practical difficulties with respect to this particular parcel and this property line. We have met what we believe is the Boardís requirement as to Ms. Bundoffís concurrence in what is to be done there. I understand that Ms. Bundoff has some unrelated issues; unrelated in that they concern lighting and other issues. She was unable to see some plans in the building department that she sought. My understanding is that this arrangement is satisfactory and that we have taken away the issues which she has found objectionable. We have among other things recessed the tennis courts so that you are getting the same grade separation that she would have if the berm were built.
Joe Galvin: For those reasons, we respectfully request that the variance be granted.
Debbie Bundoff: I donít know I havenít seen it. The reason why I am looking is that I saw 3 different plans in Henryís office when I was there last Monday and none of them all together. So this is the first for me on having them together. Yes, I do have some concerns; although normally they would be handled at the Planning Commission and City Council; you are the last step in this process publicly and the rest is handled administratively on this project. So, that is one reason that although it is not in their actual request of just taking away the berm for the screening. I do have concerns about the lighting. I found out last Monday that it is approximately 24 to 26 feet in height which depending upon how that is going to set, if it is outside of the actual tennis courts. So one of the questions that I had was about the total height and also parking and screening for the cars that will be facing what is technically my back yard. I did ask Henry to consider specific plantings, I have some of the particulars that I copied off tonight and a couple of the items that I talked to Henry about was a Russian Olive which is something that attracts the small birds that will be leaving the area, hopefully not, also the opportunity for emerald green arborvitae or a combination of rose glow barberry because it does leave the bunnies and the birds things that will be losing their food something that then can have throughout the winter and also protection.
Member Harrington: I donít mean to interrupt but do I sense that there is probably there is a little more information that you need from Mr. Galvin or his client or that he needs from you?
Debbie Bundoff: Just so that you understand what we actually have talked about because that shows some little circles; it doesnít tell you what it is.
Member Harrington: Do you need a little more opportunity to meet with Mr. Galvin in the hallway to make sure that you understand what it is that you think you are withdrawing your objection to, not your objection controls? Obviously you havenít had the opportunity as you speak now. Do you want us to pass on this matter and pick up right after we do the next case?
Debbie Bundoff: I guess what I am saying is that some of the things that Henry and I had talked about in his office, included this so I am hoping that somehow other than little circles on there it gets through since it is going to be handled administratively to let administration know what we really have talked about. Just to let you know that these are some of the items that we talked about. Although I didnít know the exact names of the things and I had to go and ask somebody what this is; we had talked about a hedge type item that would be like a serpentine thing such as he has established without being the evergreen type because they do have a tendency to die off. Just to let you know that is the type of thing that we did talk about and hopefully that is what is agreed.
Member Harrington: While it might be somewhat unusual, I would suggest that based upon what I have heard and given that we are dealing with specific details and probably most of which we are not going to consider as a Board but it may be important to whether or not this lady withdraws her objection; that we give them the opportunity to chat for a little bit and obviously they havenít had that opportunity today and we go on with the next agenda item.
Chairman Brennan: I tend to agree, but I also wish to point out that the petitioner has done what we have asked him to do and in the general spirit of things has come to an agreement.
Member Harrington: But, this lady doesnít know what the agreement is.
Chairman Brennan: I will follow your train of thought and I think that for another 5 minutes, Mr. Galvin, if you are agreeable we will get to the next one and you will be right back and out of here.
Case No. 99-061A & B filed by Allied Signs, representing JoAnn Etc.
Continuation of case filed by Allied Signs, representing JoAnn Etc., requesting A) to change the sign that was granted in ZBA Case No. 1370B limiting the sign area to not more than 48 sq. ft. to a sign 35í7" x 8í (284.67 sq. ft.) and B) to allow a second sign 24" x 22" (44 sq. ft.) for property located at 43570 West Oaks Drive.
Laura Bergon was present and duly sworn.
Laura Bergon: Our case was tabled from the last meeting and since then we have placed a temporary sign on the building. We are hoping that the Board Members had the opportunity to drive by and to take a look at the building with the sign in place so that they could get a better idea of what the actual sign would look like as far as the size is concerned.
Laura Bergon: I brought some photographs if you have not had the chance to drive by. (Photos passed out to the Board.)
Laura Bergon: We are asking that you grant a variance on the size and the number of signs, since we were previously only allowed one.
There was no audience participation.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I didnít know that you could put a billboard onto a building. That is what it looks like.
Laura Bergon: I am sorry, it looks like a billboard?
Vice-Chairman Bauer: That is right, it is to big.
Chairman Brennan: I have a simple question, is this a mock up or is the actual sign?
Laura Bergon: It is a mock up.
Chairman Brennan: It is a beautiful mock up, but it also huge.
Laura Bergon: It is coroplas. It is like a thicker paper material that is used for temporary signage.
Member Harrington: I have some questions regarding the structure. What we look at now that has the very, very large sign appears to be the new construction?
Laura Bergon: That is correct. This is a two story building.
Member Harrington: The that says "experience the creativity" underneath it, I would assume that it is not critical to what your are doing, right?
Laura Bergon: That is part of the name, "JoAnn, experience the creativity"; which is the new concept. This is something that is being done on a nationwide basis. They have been opening much larger stores compared to the regular JoAnn stores. Not only do these stores sell what they normally sell at the JoAnn stores, but they have classes and all sorts of other things. So it is a nationwide campaign that they are trying to do.
Member Harrington: When I drove by there not once but twice, I also noted the smaller sign under what would appear to be the existing JoAnn Fabric store, correct?
Laura Bergon: The existing JoAnn store right now has just a regular set of channel letters.
Member Harrington: I know, the regular set the Board or the City approved.
Laura Bergon: Right, but those will be removed. That store is there on a temporary basis.
Member Harrington: So that sign is coming down. Will that existing store be a part of the new structure so it will all be one?
Laura Bergon: No, it will not.
Member Harrington: That will be sold to another tenant or somebody?
Laura Bergon: That is correct, there is another tenant that is going to be in that space.
Member Harrington: What is wrong with that sign? It identifies who you are and where you are at and it can be seen from Novi Road. What is wrong with that sign with the channel letters?
Laura Bergon: Not necessarily anything wrong. My client obviously wants something larger. They want something with their new colors, which are the green or the teal and the ETC which has the red color. It is a new concept that they have and it is a new name as they are no longer called JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. They are call "JoAnn Experience the Creativity; ETC". They are doing advertising not just on the radio but on TV and several markets. It is a new concept.
Member Harrington inquired of Terry Morrone or Alan Amolsch: The existing sign, which has been there for quite some time, do you know what the approximate square footage is on that?
Alan Amolsch: That is 48 square feet.
Member Harrington: If we add in the new larger sign, plus "experience the creativity" how much more square foot is that?
Alan Amolsch: They want 284 feet for the JoAnn sign plus 44 for the "experience the creativity" sign Ė 328.
Member Harrington: So you want like 4 times larger than you have had out there for years?
Member Meyer: No, 7 times.
Member Harrington: So you want 7 times larger?
Laura Bergon: That is what they are asking for, yes.
Member Harrington: Who are they? Are they here tonight?
Laura Bergon: My client, I am representing the JoAnn stores.
Member Harrington: Are they here to tell us why they need a sign that large?
Laura Bergon: Unfortunately, no. They were unable to make it.
Chairman Brennan: When we consider variances on signs, it is very specific. We listen to a case based on hardship and a determination that the existing sign will not bring in the traffic or will not serve the purpose. I would tend to believe that just the opposite has occurred here, the business obviously is growing. The store is larger. I would without any other information presented would tend to believe that 48 square feet has served your purpose quite well.
Laura Bergon: Being that the building is as large as it is, and they are setback from the road and the building is all the way in the back of this shopping center we feel it would be somewhat of a hardship. Yes, the existing sign can be seen from the road if you are looking for the sign. But it is a much larger building and they are on the back of the shopping center.
Member Meyer: You do understand that the one sign that you are asking for is 6 times larger, the other sign is another discussion. But together it is 7 times what you have.
Laura Bergon: We would be willing to negotiate if we need to obviously and to downsize. I have drawings that show this sign. What you saw on the building is what we have submitted and what we were asking for approval, which is the 8í tall which could be downsized to a 7í or a 6í. (drawings passed out to the Board Members)
Member Reinke: If you were to downsize to 6í what would be the total square footage requirement?
Chairman Brennan: The current lettering on the mockup is 8í letters?
Laura Bergon: The letter O is 8í. Yes.
Member Reinke: The 6í would work out to about 180 square feet.
Laura Bergon: It would be at 156 square feet.
Member Harrington: One of the problems that I have with this sign is that one of the prerequisites that we have said consistently from this Board is that we want to see what you have within code and what it is that you really want. We are not here to negotiate. That is not our function. What I would have liked to have seen is this new rendering of the JoAnn sign within the existing sign that has been there for years. It might have impressed me that the sign was totally inadequate given whatever their motif is. I donít have that as an example tonight. What I do have is the existing sign which has worked. I donít see what the hardship is. I could be persuaded if there were a mock up of the new design that says JoAnn with a circle on there at 48 square feet or whatever it is; but I need that if I am going to be asked to make a change and I didnít see that. All I see is the existing sign and I think it is a great sign.
Laura Bergon: The existing sign and the new sign at 8í, yes. The existing sign will be removed.
Member Harrington: I know that. But, that existing sign has a square footage. I would like to see the new design within that, at least I would and I donít know what the other Board Members think. But I donít see that. We are talking total square feet because of the lettering you have now, you may be able to reconfigure that 48 square feet so it works or maybe 52 square feet or 60 square feet; I donít know what you need to make it work. But 7 times the existing sign does not work, at least in my view.
Chairman Brennan: I have another question. We had a different person here last month representing themselves as Allied Signs, you are with Advance Signs? Is this a new sign company?
Laura Bergon: I am with the sign company that does the fabrication of the signs. We ship the signs throughout the country. I have local installing companies doing the installation.
Chairman Brennan: And that is who we talked to last month?
Laura Bergon: Right, the gentleman that owns Allied Signs was unable to come here tonight and that is why I am here.
Member Reinke: I think that Mr. Harrington has brought up a good point, I totally agree with him that to see if there is something more needed in your new corporate layout the way you are showing with the signage and everything; I would have to see that at the 48 compared to the other one as to how it shows up. It might just warrant that there is more needed. But, to just see this obtrusive thing that is there right now is overwhelming. I canít really support what you are asking for in that direction right there and to say you will negotiate; well negotiate to what? The existing sign that has been there has been very visible. We have to compare apples to apples.
Laura Bergon: The existing sign that is in place, I believe, the channel letters for the letters JoAnn are 48" in height which if we do not take into consideration the height of the letter O; which is the tallest with the 6í set we would be at the same height as the channel letters as the existing sign that is in place.
Member Harrington: However, ordinance requires us to take the big O into consideration.
Chairman Brennan: I think that there is another twist to this as well, we may not have commented on. The existing sign is probably sitting 12í off of the ground and this thing is probably 30í up in the air. That 48 square foot sign might look quite imposing at the elevation that you have it shown. That is something that we would see very clearly. What we had asked the fellow last month and this again is what Mr. Harrington is suggesting; we had asked for the mock up to include an outline of the 48 square foot.
Laura Bergon: Obviously that is not what he understood.
Chairman Brennan: We were pretty clear. He seemed a little lost. We would have no objection to you leaving the mock up as it is, if you could put a tape outline of something that we could see at 48 square feet.
Laura Bergon: Compared to what is in place right now. OK.
Chairman Brennan: That may demonstrate to us that at that height and at that distance, 48 square foot may not be enough. It might make your case or it could do the opposite, but it will be what we asked for last month. If you are agreeable to that? Leave the mock up as it is, make the addition and we will see you on the agenda next month.
Laura Bergon: That will be fine.
Continuation of Case No. 99-042 filed by the Solomon Group
Joe Galvin: We are ready and we thank the Board. We have met. We have discussed specifics and at the tennis courts and parking area we will put a combination of evergreens and spruces mixed with deciduous rosy glow barberry and emerald green arborvitae together with other residual materials. Based upon, and we had the materials shown to us, and based upon that I believe that Ms. Bundoff withdraws her objection and I would respectfully request that the variance be granted based upon practical difficulty.
Chairman Brennan: Thank you very much for working with us.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-042 TO APPROVE THE VARIANCE AS REQUESTED AND AS DESCRIBED AND AS LIMITED BY MR. GLAVIN THIS EVENING BY VIRTURE OF THE TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES ON SITE.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-062 filed by Brad Byarski, representing Novi Crossings
Continuation of case filed by Brad Byarski, representing Novi Crossings, requesting a 20í front yard setback variance, a variance for 856 sq. ft. of loading space, a variance for the north side of the building for the 4í landscape belt and side yard parking setbacks to allow 3í on the west property line and 0í on the north property line to allow for the construction of Novi Crossings at the northwest corner of Grand River and Novi Roads.
Matt Niles and Brad Byarski were present.
Chairman Brennan: I will summarize where we left things last month. The Board expressed some concerns about the number of variances and the types of variances and we asked you to take a look at those. We asked also for input from the Planning Department and the Consultants and we asked you to talk to your neighbors who have expressed a great deal of anxiety about this project.
Member Meyer: I am going to excuse myself from voting on this, since I have a brother who is involved in some of the development of this piece of land.
Chairman Brennan: You are welcome to listen and Mr. Sanghvi will gladly vote for you.
Matt Niles: We come before you tonight having left the last monthís meeting kind of a little bit puzzled and kind of at a loss. It seems like it would be worth taking a minute to kind of go over the history of this project, to give you a little background as to how we have reached the plan that we present to you.
Matt Niles: Initially we came to the Steering Committee a couple of years ago with a plan and a 9000 square foot building, that was pulled to the very back west side of the site, with all of the parking in the front. The Steering Committee said that it was not what they wanted to see, nor what the City wanted to see; they wanted to see a building pulled out to the street front as far as possible with the parking behind it, a building with as much presence as possible on the corner. After about 8 or 10 meetings with the Steering Committee we came to a plan basically of what you are looking at here today. Throw in another 6 or 8 meetings that we have had with the Novi Planning Staff and they concurred that they did not want to see a building at the back of the site with the parking in the front, we want you to pull it up to the front site with the parking behind it and one more thing that we would like you to do is to change the existing zoning from TC to TC1, which they thought would make the ordinance a little more flexible for us and to make it a little more possible for us to execute the plan the way that they wanted to see it. So we pulled the building forward, we put the parking behind, changed the zoning, downsized the building to 7361 square feet from the 9000 that we started with. Then 3 or 4 months ago we kind of stumbled across another request from the Oakland County Road Commission asking us to allow for the increasing of the right of way on Novi Road to be expanded from 33í to the half right of way to 60í, which would work with their future plans of providing a right turn lane. We did that also. We then set the building back even farther, reduced it even more and we feel like for 2 years now we have been doing everything that the City has asked us to do. We submitted to the Planning Commission twice. Now we are here before you for a second time. We come before you with approval from the Steering Committee, letters of recommendation from all Planning Consultants , approval from the Planning Commission and also approval from the Oakland Country Road Commission that what we are doing will work with their future plans.
Matt Niles: The problem is we canít execute the plan the way everyone has directed us to execute it strictly following the ordinance. I have prepared a couple of other boards here that are hopefully going to illustrate what the ordinance requirements are and explain why there is indeed a hardship here. These first 2 sheets that you have in front of you at a smaller scale, this is our site .833 acres and the yellow represents the front yard setbacks 80í from the centerlines of the right of ways; the orange color represents the parking setbacks. Once you put all of the setbacks in place we are left with a net .388 acres of developable property which also works out to be about 45 or 46% of the site that we can actually develop because of the double frontage, the depth of the site the ordinance setbacks arenít proportional to the conditions of the site, when you look at the setbacks in conjunction with the other parcels of property adjacent. Again here the yellow represents an 80í setback from the street center line. Each one of the sites we have given an acreage, the amount of acreage lost to the front yard setback and a percentage of the site. If you look at the numbers; Wendyís is losing 15% of their site to front yard setbacks, the vacant parcel losing 12.2%, the House of Blinds, which is vacant, is 12.3%, Wonderland Music 13.2%, Roman Plaza 8.6% and then you come to our site and almost 47% of the site is taken up in front yard setbacks. This clearly illustrates that this is a condition that is being imposed upon us that is not affecting the other sites in the adjacent vicinity. Although a couple of those sites are vacant also due to the difficulty in developing a small site in this area.
Matt Niles: The variances required, 80í front yard setback at Novi Road and we are providing 60í, a 10í greenbelt on the west and we are providing 3í, 20í greenbelt to the north and we have no setback, loading area 1146 square feet are required due to the building frontage and we are providing and there seems to be a dispute on the exactly what the number is and it is somewhere in the 400 square foot area and a landscape requirement of 4í on the north side of the building.
Matt Niles: We have ready to be signed a cross easement parking agreement with the Roman Plaza owner and if he were to sign that agreement, and he is just waiting to see the outcome of the approval on our building, the 20í setback really becomes a non-issue because this becomes one parking lot. Right now with our site we are completely parking on site and we donít need any of their parking spaces, but the agreement would allow for easy accessibility from site to site and it allows our site to not add an additional curb cut on Novi Road, just using the existing curb cut here which will help the traffic situation on that corner significantly. We can easily add the 4í of landscaping on the north side of the building if you want it, we think it is a safer condition to allow for a sidewalk there but we could add the landscaping and that can go away. If we look at the photographs, it was requested that we supply photographs of the site especially along the west property line here, to show the existing conditions along the adjacent parcel there. We are providing 3í of landscaping and then a row of parking, currently there is an alley right against the adjacent properties right on the property line. We are actually providing a significant buffer there.
Matt Niles: It also seemed that there was some confusion about the accessibility to the site and the circulation. The yellow represents vehicular accessibility and the green would be the potential service truck route. Novi Road, there is a full curb cut situation with right in and right out. Left in and left out. There seemed to be confusion about the accessibility on Grand River and actually there is a right in and a right out and there is a left in; the only movement that is not allowed is a left out on Grand River due to the near proximity of the intersection. We have significantly increased the distance on Novi Road to the intersection and we have located as far possible to the west onto Grand River.
Matt Niles: I think that this kind of sums up the issues that seem to be of concern here and we will be more than happy to answer any other questions that may be out there.
Chairman Brennan: I think that we will have a few questions. For the record, we do have a letter that should have been advanced to you that came from the neighbors, the Knightís. They addressed 3 issues that they still have objections to; parking requirements, setbacks and the truck loading. I am sure that we will get a chance to talk to them.
Chairman Brennan: There has been a letter received tonight that we will put in the package from JCK which deals with their analysis of stock piling snow and they believe that the way it is designed will reduce the current layout and drainage.
Chairman Brennan: We have a couple of guests tonight and we thank them for coming. Maybe we can address any questions to Planning and to Mr. Arroyo that we might have.
Chairman Brennan: My first question would deal with the off loading which is something that you did not address in this summary. My concern is that you are proposing 290 square foot of off loading and if I am not mistaken your testimony last month indicated that you expected to have maybe 3 to 5 tenants in this building. If I take a normal commercial van that is 20í long and 6í wide that is 120 square feet, which means that you could get 2 of those at one time in this proposed off loading area. It doesnít allow for anything more than that so where does that traffic go? That has been a question raised in the past and until I put the math to it, it didnít really jump out. I think that I still have some questions regarding the traffic flow, especially on Grand River which still concerns me. I am beginning to be somewhat satisfied with your parking deficiencies given that you have this potential agreement worked out for overflow for the additional 1 Ĺ spaces that you need to meet the ordinance. Is that how I understood that?
Matt Niles: Well, we park and we meet on our site within our property lines, completely the parking requirement.
Chairman Brennan: I thought that you were a couple of spots short. I thought it was one of the variances.
Matt Niles: Well, there seems to have been confusion on that, too. Technically it is a half of a space and right now there is a landscape island at this corner right now because there is not accessibility here and we are just taking out the landscape island to allow for the drive to go through and our spaces are occupying what was the landscape island; but we are not using the existing 1 Ĺ spaces on site on the adjacent site; they are being located in a place where there is no parking right now.
Chairman Brennan indicated we have 4 of what was viewed to be excessive or not all information there variance requests last month and that is why we asked everyone to come back. Can we pick up from our thoughts of last month.
Member Harrington: I spoke at length on this matter at the last meeting and I want to clear up any confusion in the presenter tonight or anyone else that may have heard and I donít think that I was ambiguous. I specifically requested input from someone in a position to provide us independent third party advice that no smaller structure can be built on site in conformity with our ordinances. The reason that this gentleman is before us and it is unfortunate that for 2 years he has been going through Planning and he didnít read the City Code, the reason that he is here is that he has a showing to make which is hardship, practical difficulty or the equivalent and one of the basic tenants of establishing that hardship is to establish that the variance is needed and it appears to me and I was concerned last month and I continue to be concerned because I havenít heard anything different, that the variance requests are triggered by the size of the building and that a smaller one can be built on site. Short form, it is overbuilt. If I am going to approve or vote for this project at the heart of our intersection here in the City I want to be absolutely convinced that there is no smaller structure which can comply with code. That is the message that I sent last month and I am sending it again this month. I want to hear from someone who will tell me; "Mr. Harrington, Board Members, there is no other structure that can be built and this is unfortunately larger than you would like but we canít do anything else with this site, it has to be this big which triggers the resulting variances". I havenít heard that yet and that is what I want to hear.
Member Fannon: At the last meeting I also requested, and I think of yourself, to tell us the minimum square foot of a building that could be built on the site to meet all of the requirements. Did you have a chance to do that?
Matt Niles: Yes, I have a plan that I can pass out if you want to see that.
Member Fannon: What is the minimum square foot building that you could put on the site and not have to be in front of us?
Matt Niles: That is 2900 square feet.
Member Fannon: So approximately a 3000 square foot building.
Matt Niles: I could pass the plan around to you, if you would like to see it.
Member Fannon: I have the same feeling. I stood on this site again, yesterday as a matter of fact, and I think that we are putting to big of a building on the site. I think that the petitioner is here and with due respect to the Steering Committee and the Planning Commission we are appointed by the City Council and we are not appointed by those people, so I respect all of them; but they shouldnít have led you to believe that you can put any sized building on a site and then just get rubber stamped by this Board. And hopefully they didnít say that to you. You should have known all the time that you had to come in front of us, so your statements earlier were a little upsetting. Itís like you feel terrible that you have to go through all of this and now we are really going to stop you from doing this Ė and we are the bad guys. You are asking us to take the variances that were said by the citizens and the City Council of Novi and change them for you. I am having trouble doing that when the previous administrations and maybe this Board years ago did not do a very good job on that corner and I think that we would all agree with that. I donít know how we can support something like this. I canít. You have an option to build something that can meet the requirements of the ordinance. I am having troubles.
Matt Niles: We feel that this graphic illustrates the hardship quite clearly.
Chairman Brennan: Sir, please donít insinuate that I am a stupid person. You have 3 to 4 times the loss of property because you have 3 to 4 times the linear footage on these main streets. It is math. You have the appropriate amount of lost property to these other properties. You have more linear feet and that is why you have more lost property. We have asked Planning to be here and as painful as it may be, if we donít have any direct questions I would at least like to have some comments from you. There is a lot of history behind this. Are we missing something?
Rod Arroyo: I am the Planning Consultant for the City of Novi. We were asked to take a look at this application that you have before you this evening. It is a dimensional variance request. One of the things that we did was to compare this request to the standards that were established by Michigan Supreme Court for addressing dimensional variances. There are 4 key tests that need to be applied. They are and I will go through them briefly.
Rod Arroyo: Do unique circumstances exist? Would the ordinance prevent the owner from using his or her property? Is the problem self created? Will the variance do substantial justice? There are some specific ordinance requirements in your own ordinance and I will address those briefly as well. First of all do unique circumstances exist? We believe that in this case there are some unique circumstances that apply to this particular piece of property. The applicantís have discussed some of them. The shape of the parcel, 101í wide on the north property line based on the planned right of way for Novi Road and it is 160í wide at Grand River so it has an unusual shape to it, it is not a square parcel as we particularly deal with. The area of the parcel is also unusual in comparison with the surrounding area; the gross acreage of the site is less than an acre being .833 acres and the net if you delete the setback areas provides under a half an acre at approximately .38 acres. Also this happens to be a piece of property that is located at a skewed intersection; Grand River does not run on a section line grid like Novi Road and most of your other roads do, it runs on a diagonal. Because of that, if you have a piece of property located at the intersection it is in fact likely going to have an unusual shape to it and this happens to be a case associated with this property.
Rod Arroyo: Would the ordinance prevent the owner from using his or her property? The area and the shape of this property, in this case, does have an impact on the ability to use the property as the applicant has indicated in their proposal. Once you take into impact the setbacks that are potentially impacting from all 4 sides of this particular piece of property it does have an impact. The question is could you build something and have a reasonable return of investment? This is a reasonable test to look at according to the Michigan Courts. While there has not been a financial analysis submitted, we have reason to doubt whether or not that you could, in fact, achieve that based upon a building of a size meeting ordinance standards.
Rod Arroyo: The next test. Is the problem self created? This does not meet the test of a self created hardship in our opinion because this property was, in fact, lawful at the time the zoning ordinance was adopted. The shape of this property has been in effect for many, many years. The applicant has not created this problem and has not created the shape of this parcel through a lot split or through some other action. Rather, this property in itsí unusual dimensions were pre-existing.
Rod Arroyo: Will the variance do substantial justice? This has been an important development site since the beginning of Novi as a settlement. This is the original 4 corners area of the City of Novi, prior to it being a City, prior to it being a Village; it has some unique characteristics . If you go to this corner right now there are buildings very close to the roadway. As the applicant has indicated the City did provide input to the applicant in terms of what types of development might be appropriate. But I think that the key issue was, should you have a piece of property at this corner with parking in the front and a building setback; should the parking lot be the main thing that you see when you come to the intersection of Grand River and Novi Roads? Would it be better to have a structure closer to the roadway, much like the building that is kiddy corner, the old historic Novi Inn, that has very similar characteristics to this building that you see before you this evening. We believe that substantial justice can be done with the variance requests that are before you this evening. Primarily because it is consistent with the Planning efforts that have taken place at this 4 corners area and within the Town Center and there is, in fact, some benefit to the community to have a building coming closer to the roadway to project that and to create more of a sense of place and more of an urban feel at the intersection.
Rod Arroyo: Your own ordinance requirements, in Section 3104, specify that in order to grant a dimensional variance and you have the ability to do so; a variance from the strict application of the provision of the ordinance whereby reason of exceptional narrowness, shallowness, shape or area of a specific piece of property at the time of enactment of this ordinance, the strict application of the regulations would result in peculiar or exceptional practical difficulties; provided that the relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without substantially impairing the intent and purpose of the ordinance. You have the ability, of course, to attach conditions in order to insure that. We believe that the proposal that you have before you could in fact meet this standard. We believe that there are exceptional shallow and shape in areas and dimension issues associated with this property. We believe that there are practical difficulties and we believe that the public good can be maintained and the intent of the ordinance can, in fact, be met with the provision of the granting of these variances.
Rod Arroyo: Another question that I think has arisen, is the site being overbuilt? One of the tests to overbuilding a site is a provision that we refer to as floor area ratio. That is the ratio of the building floor area to the site area. This particular district, the TC1 District, does not have a maximum FAR, it is unlimited based upon using whatever you can do based upon the height limitations and the setback provisions. Looking, however, at the other side of the coin your most restrictive commercial district which is the NCC District, it does have a FAR limitation. The NCC District FAR is .25; which means that the building area in relationship to the ground surface area cannot be greater than 25%. So your building cannot be more than 25% of the land area. This particular proposal that you have before you this evening has a FAR of .20. What that means is that this actually has the density or floor area coverage that would actually satisfy your least intense commercial district criteria of .25. So, we donít believe that this particular piece of property is being overbuilt. Rather we think that it is a fairly reasonable use of the site, given the FAR history that is provided for in some of the other less intensive commercial districts.
Rod Arroyo: I know another question that has been raised by the Zoning Board of Appeals is the question of access to Grand River. One of the reasons why you see the provision of the restriction of the outbound left turn is because of some ordinance standards. They are not zoning ordinance standards, they are design and construction standards. There are specific driveway spacing standards that are found within the ordinance. One of the concerns are driveways that happen to be on the south side of Grand River for the gas station and for the antique store which was formerly a fixture store. In order to meet ordinance requirements technically a driveway located at the subject site would need to be separated by these other driveways by a distance of at least 150í from centerline to centerline. This obviously because of the number of existing driveways in this area canít meet that separation. One of the things the prohibition of outbound left turns does is it mitigates that problem, because that means you will not have the conflict of outbound left turns here coming out here and flipping into the center turn lane area and also very close to the intersection. So we believe that the outbound left turn restriction is important and is consistent with implementing the design and construction standards. The left turns in, where in fact, allowed to remain through the review process and there is a couple of reasons for that. One there is already a center left turn lane on Grand River that provides for a separate lane for left turns to go into and the other is the entry to City Center Plaza is restricted to rights in and rights out; which means that you will not have the conflict of the lefts trying to turn into that particular driveway and the lefts turning into the proposed driveway. So, it was not felt that it was important to restrict inbound left turns. So that is how we got to the point of having the driveway configuration that you see before you this evening.
Rod Arroyo: That concludes all that I had planned to say and I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Chairman Brennan: As long as you are up there, that was one of the issues that I raised last month; the Grand River access. The way that it is proposed is no different than it is right now and all of the limited left hand turn onto Grand River, all that does is push the illegal turn a couple of doors down so people who want to go eastbound just make a right hand turn and then an illegal "U" turn. I donít think it solves the problem.
Rod Arroyo: Well, if this were the only access I would say yes that could definitely be a problem. But because of the shared access agreement and the fact that they could use this access point into Roman Plaza, I think that because the alternative exists that it would be the likely route that people would choose rather than trying to negotiate a "U" turn or some type of maneuvering and then come back the other way. I think that given the level of congestion at that intersection along Grand River it will not be an easy maneuver and if you have a way to actually get out of the site and not do that type of maneuver I think that you will use it once you learn that way.
Chairman Brennan: What about the whole issue of on site loading? The square footage.
Rod Arroyo: Well, there is a couple of things that come into play here. The loading area is in approximately this location, the actual loading demand in terms of what this project is going to require is going to depend upon the tenants that go in there. Certainly I think that coming in and leasing this out, the tenants are going to be aware that there is not room to park a semi trailer truck with a 55í wheel base in this area. However, there is some flexibility here even though there isnít an ordinance specifying loading area provided. For one thing there is a cross access agreement into Wonderland/Roman Plaza; right now traffic from this particular area is forced to make a very sharp turn to get out back into the site and get out to Novi Road. Because of the cross access agreement and because of opening this area up a little bit more there is going to be some additional flexibility for slightly larger vehicles to get in and out. A couple of possibilities exist, one is a larger vehicle could temporarily back into this area for loading, if they could not fit into the service area. Another would be to schedule loading and unloading during times prior to business opening which would be using if they needed to use some areas such as the empty parking spaces and that would be another alternative. One of the factors that makes it difficult with a site such as this is the unusual shape and the narrowness of the property. Because there is very limited depth from this point to this point, just putting one row of parking in consumes a significant amount of the site and to place a loading area in and to actually have it work within the site, it becomes very difficult due to that unusual shape. I think that the fact they have the joint access agreement is the thing that makes it potentially workable. If you didnít have the joint access agreement and that was not executed, then I donít believe we would be in a position to support the circulation system here. But because you have that and the additional flexibility that it provides we comfortable that this can be a workable solution.
Member Fannon: Do you agree with the petitioner saying that if he strictly went by the ordinances as they exist he would lose 4400 square foot of a building? Have you had a chance to see his dimensions?
Rod Arroyo: Only briefly and a very rough sketch. I havenít had time to analyze them in detail. I am not surprised by the numbers but I canít confirm them precisely, no.
Member Harrington; Can you confirm the representation of that has been made to the Board that the largest sized building that can be placed on site which would not require variances is 2900 square feet?
Rod Arroyo: Not precisely, no.
Member Harrington: Who can?
Rod Arroyo: The applicant has indicated that theyÖ..
Member Harrington: I want an independent person, not someone with a vested economic interest in getting this project through after they have been working on it for years. I have asked for independent confirmation of what can be built on site and what cannot. What I still havenít heard from anyone is that a 2900 or a 3000 or 3200 square foot building canít be built. It sounds like it can based upon everything that I have heard at these 2 meetings. That is my starting point. We donít need to get into variances if they can build a building there. It sounds like what this is all about is economic return.
Rod Arroyo: There is a couple of issues. One, we can certainly look at the site and confirm that if you would like us to do that. I was not aware of that.
Member Harrington: That is what I asked at the last meeting and apparently there was confusion with the petitioner and Mr. Fannon said the same thing. What can be built on site and if so what kind of parameters? What kind of uses? Maybe the City of Novi should be looking at different uses rather than having semi trucks pull in making left turns off of Grand River or coming in and backing into the various shops that are in the shopping center. I donít know. That is not my department. But, what I do know is uncontested that the petitioner can put a building there and he has known that since day one. He just wants to put in a 7361 square foot building and maybe the site would allow for 3000. That is where I am stuck.
Rod Arroyo: Right. There are a couple of issues. One obviously is can you have a reasonable rate of return on a building of that magnitude?
Member Harrington: There is not a shred of evidence or testimony or documentation from anyone suggesting that we canít and I am not a Board Member who believes that economics can never be a hardship. I think that economics can be, in the right context a hardship because money can do just about anything. It is a weighing and a balancing test that is involved. This is a very important location here in the City of Novi which is why you were asked you to come here tonight. I, as a Board Member, am concerned.
Rod Arroyo: I think that is the only extent to which economics come into play, can you have a reasonable return Ė not the maximum rate of return; but rather can you have a reasonable return. I think that is what the courts have held to make sure that you do not have a taking in a situation. That would be the question that I think would be the focus, can a reasonable rate of return be provided with a building of 2900 square feet, if in fact that is the number.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: With all of the variances you are still going to have to have people making that left hand turn. What about Christmas time?
Rod Arroyo: It is not 100% guaranteed but the size of the radius is such that it will deter most people. That is the best that you can do, and obviously the police enforcement will help.
Chairman Brennan: I still have the queasy feeling in the bottom of my stomach and I am not very comfortable with this at all. I donít think that we have resolved the issue of off load parking when we donít know who our tenants are. I donít think that you can restrict that type of traffic. It is going to come in anyway and I donít think that we have an answer for it. I am satisfied with a couple of areas that have made me feel a little bit better and that is the parking situation with the resolution with the adjoining lot. We havenít even discussed setbacks, impact on neighbors and I didnít hear any discussion about our request for discussions with the Knightís. They were at the meeting last month; was there any discussion with the neighbors?
Brad Byarski: No.
Chairman Brennan: If I am asked to vote, for the variances that are before us tonight I have very little support.
Member Reinke: This is probably one of the highest traffic areas that we have in the City. To start giving a front yard setback and moving things closer, I really have a problem with that because we are putting something up on top of that and then everything will be sitting right on the road again. I agree with Mr. Harrington and Mr. Fannon, I think that we really need to know what can go on this and then we have to work from that point. Without having that we really donít have a basis to work from.
Member Fannon: What I thought was going to happen here tonight was that somebody would say that if you would just give us the north variance between the parking lots because we have this cross easement or whatever it is called; and I would assume that someday we could give a variance that is subject to that being signed; that we could do this or we could do that. If we got away from the Knightís property then the building wouldnít be 7400 it would be 6000 or 5000; I donít know what it would be and I donít know what it is supposed to be or what it can be economically. I donít know, I am not in this business. But, a 7400 square foot building is taking up everything and all of these variances need to be given to do it. So I thought that the petitioner would come back with different options. That is what I would like to see. Right now, if you get all of these variances you can put 7400, what happens if you get one? It drops down to 6000? If you donít give us any? It drops down to 3000? Maybe it can be proven that a 3000 square foot building is the most stupid thing that you could ever do and it is going to be sitting there vacant and broke. I donít know, I am not in the commercial development and I have never pretended to be. It seems like the petitioner is just coming in here saying that they were led to this Board and they are stymied that we just donít give them the variances and that upsets me. I think that a message should go back to the City that they shouldnít ever lead people and hopefully they didnít to that point. It is always subject to, if you need a variance you may or may not get it. So, that is where I am coming from. I just canít sit here and on behalf of the oath that I took, approve a 7400 square foot building when someone may be able to show that a 5000 square foot building would be great. I donít know this. So that is where I am having troubles.
Chairman Brennan: I think that you can get a perspective of which way we are going on this. Do you want to make any suggestions about alternatives?
Matt Niles: There is a couple of things I would like to say in closing. We have discussed this project with the Knightís all along, from day one and up until the last ZBA Meeting, they never showed one sign of any objection whatsoever to what was going on here. As for the issues in their letter, one of the issues is that there is no egress, no accessibility on Grand River and that is not true. They are concerned about snow storage and JCK has indicated that the site will work for snow storage and in the worst case, we could put a brick wall along the property line here which would guarantee no snow could spill over on their site from snow plows. I am not sure what their concern is with our loading situation. We have discussed this project with them many times. There has never been any sign of rejection . We would like to ask that if we could and we did preliminarily prepare a sketch to show how big the building can be once you apply all of the ordinances, we would like to request that we could have Mr. Arroyo confirm our number and give us some time to prepare some kind of economic study that would show the rate of return for square foot and maybe come back next month and see if we could satisfy these last issues that seem to be holding us back here.
Chairman Brennan: Again, letís be very clear. I donít want anyone to be mis-lead again. I believe that the Boardís opinion is pretty strong that we have the feeling that the building at 7400 square foot is to big. I have the feeling that the way you presented the option of 3900 or 3000 that is unworkable. It sounds like there could be something in between. Rather than come in and present a case that only says 7400 will work and 3000 wonít give some consideration to some options in between. We might hear some additional information from Planning over the next month; and hopefully from some other people in the City as well. But, personally, I would be very troubled in moving on this case tonight with the variances that are in front of us as they are and I think that we have a pretty collective agreement on that. Do you want to give it another 30 days? We will be happy to put you right back up in front at the beginning. Get the information into Nancy early enough, no surprises, donít dump anything on us that night.
Matt Niles: That has never been our intention.
Chairman Brennan: I just wanted to make things very clear. Do we have consent with the Board that we will look at this again?
Member Harrington: I want to help the petitioner with his confusion and to try to layout specifically what my concerns are beside the square footage. It is the usage that we donít know what it is going to be linked to and you are very candid with explanation of a number of occasions that you need semi trucks in loading and unloading using as a primary thoroughfare the Wonderland Plaza. One of the concerns or questions that I would have is there a use consistent with what Planning is trying to do and TC1 is trying to do and you guys are trying to do to make a buck; is there a use for a single tenant or a dual tenant that wonít require semi trailers which would affect your variance? You donít have to answer that tonight. Talk to your specialists on this and if that is the only thing that can go in there and that you have to have semis making left turns in the left turn lane of Grand River in order to get in because traffic is to congested because the Expo is moving; if that is the only way that we can put something in there then I guess I would have to think about that; but I havenít heard that so far. It is the semi trailers and the loading and the off loading coupled with what appears to be a high volume traffic that your tenants are going to need to justify their rent and they are going to pay you for the economic return. That is where I am at. So give me some help on that please.
Member Sanghvi: Letís table this for another month.
Chairman Brennan: If you give us another 30 days we might get there.
Matt Niles: We will give it our best shot. Thank you.
Case No. 99-064 filed by MHB Design Group Inc., representing Novi Town Center 8
MHB Design Group, Inc., representing Novi Town Center 8, is requesting a 10 sq. ft. variance to allow a 10í x 5í (50 sq. ft.) wall sign to be placed on the building for property located at 26085 Town Center Dr.
William Brunner was present and duly sworn.
William Brunner: I am with MHB Design Group an architectural firm with the renovations of the Novi Town Center 8 movie theater. I also have with me tonight William McManus who is the Vice-President and general manager of Goodrich Quality Theaters who is the new tenant for that movie theater space. The building is owned by the Novi Town Center which is the formal applicant.
William Brunner: Basically what we are doing with the project as a new tenant in the building is giving the theater lobby a face lift which will include new concession stands, rebuilding the front of the building now that has the blue canopy and what is now a free standing pylon sign that is in front of the building Ė removing all of that and going in with more of a brick and stone faÁade which is more harmonious with the rest of the center. Part of that is taking down that whole free standing metal sign that is there now. Existing across the front are the two marquee signs and the identification signs and what we are requesting is that we can continue with the previously given variance for those 3 signs and just remount them on the brick walls on either side of the entryway. When the variances were originally sought basically the reasons for them had to do with the special use of the building being a movie theater and having to show the titles of the movies. Basically our argument for continuing those signs are along a similar vein. When we do this we are going to be removing the large blue mansard roof that is across the front of the building and basically giving a design that is much more in keeping with the rest of the plaza and the colors that are going on there. There is no change in the function of the building with the lobby renovation, we are just going to make circulation better in the lobby and make it look more modern, more light and doing other things to make it look more pleasant. We are not changing the number of seats in the building or anyway increasing the traffic that will go in and out of the building.
William Brunner: The hardships that we will experience if we cannot reuse the signs basically evolve around having a tenant move into a space and continuing the same use but having to change and buy new signs. The signs as they are now are basically the minimum size required to see the movie titles from the parking lot area and if we had to replace all of the signs with smaller signs it would create a problem for customers to see what the movie titles are. I am sure that everyone is somewhat familiar with the location, but on the site plan this is the location of the movie theater. It is back and around. You cannot see it from any of the major roads. We are not asking for a large ID sign that you can even recognize the name of the building from the road, all we are asking for is to continue these 3 signs.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 61 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch: I am a little confused because when we reviewed this I was under the impression that they were only asking for a 10 x 5 (50 sq. ft.) wall sign. This gentleman is indicating that they want to move all of the signs that are on the pylon sign and put them on the building which is not on this plan that I can see.
William Brunner: The interpretation that we got from Planning, which reviewed all of this, as to what we would need a variance for and this is what they told us we needed the variance for. I am not sure exactly how they arrived at that. We went back and forth with them but the rest of the signage is allowed apparently according to their interpretation.
Chairman Brennan: What does the file read for this originally? One sign or three signs?
Alan Amolsch: One sign is what we reviewed, the 10 x 5 (50 sq. ft.) wall sign. I donít know what this gentleman had discussed with Planning as I wasnít involved with that.
William Brunner: The other 2 signs are the movie identification marquees which the Planning Staff said that the only sign that we needed to be concerned about was the actual building sign and not the movie identification sign.
Chairman Brennan: It is to bad that Planning just left.
Member Harrington: Do I understand that with respect to the movie identification sign that you are not talking about increasing the square footage and that it would be the same square footage that we gave you before and that you just want to put it on the building?
William Brunner: That is correct. It is physically the same signs that we want to move.
Member Harrington: What is this other stuff that you want to do, though?
William Brunner: What we are doing to the building?
Member Harrington: Just sign wise.
William Brunner: We are taking these 2 signs and putting them on one side, take the 2 marquees and taking the identification sign and putting it on the other side. Basically we are putting an architectural front on this building with glass, stone and brick and we are getting rid of this big sign board which is what you see when you approach the building now.
Chairman Brennan: I didnít have any problem with this when I first read it and maybe I still donít because itís been there for 8 or 10 years. I believe that now that we have been advised by the Building Department things have been clarified.
Member Reinke: The problem that I have is that I donít know what we are getting. We are moving things around, but where are they going to be.
Chairman Brennan: It shows right on the plan.
Member Harrington: But it is not out there for us to look at, we donít do plans. We want to see it.
Chairman Brennan: I wasnít struck with that same opinion. You can see the signs as they are today, they are going to be repositioned per the rendering. He is moving the signs. In one case 15í to the left and 15í to the right. All the same signs as approved by a previous Board 11 years ago.
Member Harrington: Identical signs?
William Brunner: The same signs physically.
Chairman Brennan: Those signs have been there since day one.
William Brunner: One of the things is that they donít want to purchase new signs.
Member Reinke: OK, we are talking about 2 signs?
Member Harrington: Actually 3, we are going to piggy back the 2.
Member Reinke: OK, I see what is happening now.
William Brunner: This is an 8 screen movie theater and the marquee signs are appropriately configured for that.
Chairman Brennan: Again, I will speak the obvious. It hasnít presented a problem for anyone in 11 years. Has this petitioner had a clean record for the past 11 years, as far as you know?
Alan Amolsch: Yes. The only problem that I would have with this is that it wasnít advertised that way.
Chairman Brennan: Yes, you are right. It wasnít advertised and our records are incorrect as well. I donít know if it is his problem, because what he put on in 1988 is what has been there since then.
Alan Amolsch: This plan was not what we reviewed. I donít know what plan he looked at, but it was not this.
Chairman Brennan: That is an option that we have, we can ask to table this and to have it republished correctly if that is the sentiment of the Board. What is your renovation plans? When do you need to do all of this?
William Brunner: We need to move the signs before we can start construction. Right now we are hopefully near the end of the staff review process for site plan approval; this is a small addition and we are going through staff process.; We are hoping to receive that approval. We still have to apply for a building permit after we get the site plan approval. As soon as we get all of those approvals we would like to start construction and that would be the first thing that we would do to start our demolition.
Member Reinke: I would like to see this tabled and to see this advertised correctly and I would like to see the Planning Department here as they advised the applicant to what he should do and what he didnít need to do without going through the proper permit application for what he wanted to do.
Member Fannon: The petitioner says that the existing signs, and I would assume that all 3 of them were installed under a previous variance, but Alan you donít show that?
Alan Amolsch: That was a variance in 1988 for the 2 marquee signs plus the identification sign to the left. It was done by the Zoning Board of Appeals Case No. 1417 in 1988.
Member Fannon: It is because he is actually moving them, that he has to get another variance?
Alan Amolsch: That is correct. They were actually ground signs and now they are going to be wall signs.
Member Harrington: I have a handle on your variances and I support your variances, but I agree with Mr. Reinke. I think it is important to cross the "tís" and to dot the "iís" and I think we should give this an opportunity to be properly noticed if it has not been and if we need feed back from Planning we also want that. Having said that, I favor where you are headed and what you are trying to do, but we have to do it right.
William Brunner: Do you want us to solicit some type of letter from Planning? What type of feedback are you looking for? I take it that they are not usually here and this is kind of an unusual circumstance tonight.
Chairman Brennan: Letís have some more discussion on whether we need to send this gentleman away. I think that he has been here in good faith. He has signs that were approved 11 years ago, they have been up for 11 years and he has asked to relocate them. That is what the crux of the request is.
Member Reinke: That is correct, but it still hasnít been advertised correctly for the way that it is represented. If it were going to jeopardize him or stop him from what he is wanting to do, we would have to do something and I think we could work some way around it. I think that we have some time to do it in a correct manner and that is why I would like to see it done that way.
Chairman Brennan: Do you have 30 days? What happens with everything?
William Brunner: We still need to get a building permit. We may lose a week or so.
Chairman Brennan: If you can appreciate the corner that we have gotten ourselves into as a City and nothing that you did at all. How do we solve this problem? Do we ask the Building Department?
Alan Amolsch: I would like to see exactly what you want to do, placed on one of these plans, so we can review it with the permit applications; so it indicated exactly what you want to do. We were not informed of that, all we received was the 50 square foot application to change one of the signs.
Chairman Brennan: You didnít get this?
Alan Amolsch: We did get that, what we didnít get was an application for the rest of the signs. The application that we received only indicated the 10 x 5, and which I assumed was this sign that identified the Novi Town Center Theater. They did not mention the marquee.
Chairman Brennan: On mine it says that both of these are to be relocated. It says to relocate the existing signage by the sign contractor.
Alan Amolsch: That is correct, what I am talking about is the sign permit application. The permit application triggers our review.
Chairman Brennan: So it is strictly again a resubmittal, and 61 new notices.
Alan Amolsch: Right.
Chairman Brennan: There seems to be enough people on the Board here that would like to see this done properly and while I certainly want to do things properly I donít want to mess up your plans. If 30 days wonít hurt you to bad, we will have you back.
Case No. 99-065 filed by Carl and Rose Georeff
Carl and Rose Georeff are requesting a 1í10" side yard setback variance to allow for the placement of a deck 6í6" from the side property line at 23737 Harvest Ct., in the Orchard Ridge Estates Subdivision.
Carl and Rose Georeff were present and duly sworn.
Carl Georeff: Listening to all of the large dimensions before us, we come down to a very small dimension here. We live in the Orchard Ridge Estates and we bought the home from the original owner March 4, 1994. Our proposal is just simply to add a deck off of our kitchen doorwall with dimension of 12í x 7í. I realize, and our lot line from the building out is 13 Ĺí and if we go 7í out that only leaves 6 Ĺ to the lot line which isnít very much as you should leave 10í. But, under those circumstances we would only have a deck 12 x 3 Ĺ which would be kind of tight. We are here to appeal this and we are trying for this 12 x 7.
Carl Georeff: The appeal is based upon the following grounds. The home was built in 1985 and we feel that we are correcting the builderís design flaw by doing this. Number two, as a safety issue it is important that when you walk through the doorwall that you are on a flat surface before stepping down to the ground. Number three, would be the aesthetics or the appearance and the look of the door on the side of the house is awkward without having a small deck surface in front of it. So the way that it now it creates a very hazardous condition and we have small grandchildren and if they walk out of the doorwall off of the kitchen there is a 3í drop and they could break their necks, legs or arms. It is a bad situation and we feel that a construction of a deck is one of the remedies to solve this. We are here appealing for this construction.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 42 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.
There was no audience participation.
Terry Morrone: The Building Department has no objection.
Member Reinke: I think it is a minimum and I agree with the gentleman, for the elevation he needs something. To have to step down right away is not the best situation. I think that he has tried to be as minimal as he can and I think he has done a good job on it. I can support the petitionerís request.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Do you have a homeowners association there?
Carl Georeff: Yes, they also approved it.
Member Meyer: Is the approval that we received from the people who live next to them?
Carl Georeff: Yes, absolutely. In fact, they were the very first to approve it.
Member Meyer: Are these the neighbors on lot 44?
Carl Georeff: They are the Kohl family, he is one of the directors or officers of the association and he was the very first to approve it and had no objection.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-065 THE PETITIONERíS REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO LOT SIZE AND ELEVATION OF THE DOORWALL.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-067 filed by Metro Detroit Signs, representing Farmer Jack
Metro Detroit Signs, representing Farmer Jack, is requesting a variance for a wall sign 2í x 2í3" (4.5 sq. ft.) with the verbiage "MICHIGAN LOTTERY", for property located at 41840 Ten Mile Rd.
John Dedders was present and duly sworn.
John Dedders: Farmer Jack is requesting approval to install this 4 Ĺ square foot wall sign to the left of the entrance doors, since it is in the process of becoming one of the major agents for the lottery here in Michigan. As you approach the store from the east because of the row of trees it is totally impossible to see it until you are right at the driveway that turns in. From a practical standpoint their only alternative would be to take down the Farmer Jack sign and try to design something with the Michigan Lotto sign incorporated into it. So, given the fact that Farmer Jack is the only sign on that building and there is nothing on the south elevation and due to the ready identification that the company is asking for this variance.
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.
Member Fannon: I was there, isnít the sign already up?
Alan Amolsch: That is the mock up.
Member Fannon: Is that really just a mock up?
John Dedders: No, that is the sign. Inadvertently we didnít think that a permit was needed, we put one up in May and took it down and then we went through the permit process and this.
Member Fannon: My only comment is that it is in the middle of this 60í wall and it looks like it is out of place. Do you plan on moving it down near the door where people would see it?
John Dedders: No, that is where it is going to be. That is where they want it.
Member Meyer: Right where it is right now?
John Dedders: Yes.
Member Fannon: Personally I donít care if you have it, but it looks kind of crazy. There is this long wall with this little thing on it, whereas your little spot on here where it was supposed to go makes more sense.
Member Meyer: I just wonder if we will get a request in the near future from RiteAid, because they sell Michigan Lottery too. Will we get a request from 7-11 because they sell lottery tickets? And the wine store, will we get a request from them? I am not trying to do anything here but to voice just a concern that maybe we will have these little signs all over the City. Good looking, but all over the City with Michigan Lottery.
Member Harrington: I agree with your concern. I think it is more than just casual conversation. It is a product that is being sold in the store, it could be steaks, it could be eggs, it could be something else; it happens to be lottery tickets. I havenít heard what the hardship is, I havenít heard an offer to reduce the Farmer Jack sign and incorporate this into it. All I have heard is a second sign without any particular suggestion as to what the hardship is. I donít know it sounds like you need to market lottery tickets.
John Dedders: I am not in the position to say whether Farmer Jack would entertain changing the front wall sign. I donít know.
Chairman Brennan: You are just here to speak of this sign. I have a question and it sounds like you wonít be able to answer this either, but, who is Patti Krula and does she work for you?
John Dedders: Yes, she does.
Chairman Brennan: Her application says the Michigan Lottery has requested installation; is it a requirement of an agent to put a sign out?
John Dedders: No, it is not.
Member Fannon: You could actually put a sign in the window, couldnít they?
Alan Amolsch: Yes, if it is non-illuminated.
Moved by Member Meyer,
Seconded by Member Fannon:
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-067 TO DENY THE VARIANCE REQUEST DUE TO A LACK OF HARDSHIP.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No.99-068 filed by Sidney Dotinga
Sidney Dotinga is requesting a 3.5í variance to allow a swimming pool to be located 6.5í from the home at 47273 Cider Mill in the Briarwood Subdivision.
Sidney Dotinga was present and duly sworn.
Sidney Dotinga: We are trying to put a pool in our backyard and it is on a corner lot, which I think that you can see from the plot plan that was submitted. As you know that gives you a 30í setback on both sides because of the corner, so we tried to fit a pool as best we could into the available space of the lot given the 10í easement on one side and the 6í setback on the back side and then the 10í requirement to be away from the building. I selected a pool that is kind of "L" shaped or the lazy "L" as they call it; so that we could try to get as much area for the kids in the shallow end as well as giving a deeper end for the older kids that I have. I have kids that range from 2 to 13, so I kind of need both areas at the moment.
Sidney Dotinga: The 10í restriction, as I understand it, from the Planning Department is for a fire separation which in the case of a pool isnít really all that necessary. You will note that the 6.5í is only at the very corner of the sunroom where it gets close to the "Lí shape of the pool and for most of the area the setback is more than 6.5í so it would be less than the 3.5í variance. Depending upon where you are at, the sunroom and the back lot line are a little bit cock eyed so you could be as close as 7.5 on one side and 8í on the east end.
Sidney Dotinga: I do have a couple of pictures, they are black and white and you can see the outline of the pool. (pictures presented to the Board.)
Sidney Dotinga: There was a letter included in the
packet from the neighbors immediately to the south which didnít have any
objection as long as they can swim in the pool.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 104 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was 3 written responses received; one voicing objection and 2 voicing approval. Copies in file.
There was no audience participation.
Terry Morrone: We worked with the homeowner on this particular issue to come up with the best option that he could. One option was to move it closer to the property line and ask for a variance from that point of view but we felt that the hardship would be more imposed on the adjacent neighbor so therefore the other option would be to pull it closer to his house where the problem would be more on his own family or the other option to downsize the swimming pool itself and for some reason that option fell by the wayside. We really didnít feel that this request would be unreasonable and we donít have an objection to it.
Member Meyer: Will there be a fence around this pool?
Sidney Dotinga: Yes. I think it is 4í but whatever is required, we are talking an aluminum wrought iron appearing type of fence with a gate.
Chairman Brennan: Did you get permission from the Briarwood Homeownerís Association?
Sidney Dotinga: Apparently our homeowners association has not organized formally. So, I donít have that and I am not really sure why that is.
Chairman Brennan: We went out to 104 of your neighbors soÖÖ.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-068 TO APPROVE THE VARIANCE REQUEST AS SUBMITTED BY VIRTUE OF THE LOT SIZE CONFIGURATION AND NO ADVERSE IMPACT ON ANY ADJACENT PROPERTY OWNERS.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-069 filed by Ted Minasian, representing Beechforest Park
Ted Minasian representing Beechforest Park, is requesting an interpretation of the ordinance regulating the maximum overall height of the structure which governs the setback requirements of the building in an OST Zoned District; a 6 foot height variance to allow the roof top equipment screen to exceed the maximum building height and a variance to exempt the decorative dome from the building height calculation to allow for the construction of Beechforest Park on the west side of Meadowbrook Road north of I-96 and south of 12 Mile Road.
Matt Quinn was present.
Matt Quinn: I am appearing on behalf of the applicant. Let me first of all apologize to all of you for the late submission of my letter which I had to send to your homes not knowing if you would get it if I sent it to the clerk and the reason being that in this particular scenario I wasnít retained prior to the actual filing of the application, I was brought in afterwards. I hope that you have had the opportunity to look at that letter and if I may proceed then with the contents of it.
Chairman Brennan: We have to interrupt you. We have in the past on issues of interpretation asked the City Attorney for his advice or his review and that has not been done. In lieu of that though, if you would like to present the case without this as being a part of this and I read this just as a summary of what you are going to present and if you want to present in lieu of this letter and this will not be a part of the public record because it has not been reviewed by the City Attorney.
Matt Quinn: I did copy him on the letter as you may have noticed.
Chairman Brennan: But we have not received anything from him, is that agreeable with the other Board Members?
Member Harrington: I donít have a problem considering the letter; but I have a strong feeling on an issue like this that could be precedential throughout the City that we need some input from the City Attorney if only to say "hey, it looks great, I agree with Matt".
Matt Quinn: And I am sure that is what he would say.
Matt Quinn: Would I anticipate then that at the conclusion of any presentation that the matter would then be tabled for the City Attorney to reply?
Chairman Brennan: I think that is the gist that I was going to get to.
Matt Quinn: And then we would be back next month? Then perhaps I should ask you. I am ready to proceed, but basically I think that I would have to give you the same information a month from now again or the same presentation. So, I think that with Mr. Minasianís agreement that I would leave it up to your call. Do you want me to do this 10 minute presentation or give it to you next month when the City Attorney has had the opportunity to respond in writing?
Member Harrington: I think that we should invite him, itís been awhile since we have seen him. I have a question and I donít want to wait until next month to get the answer. Your letter was quite thorough and it really covers it and so do the materials and you want to put a dome on this building. Do I correctly understand that the dome is purely for aesthetic purposes? It is not shielding for example, air conditioning units or cranes and that the dome is simply an aesthetic dome.
Matt Quinn: That is right. There is still screening within the roofline that covers the rooftop appurtenances; the air conditioning and everything. That screening is setback 40 feet from the edge of the roof. These are computer generated images of what the building will look like and this is from Meadowbrook Road and you can see the dome on top. It is clearly architectural aesthetic in design and it has nothing to do with holding the building up, holding the roof it, or covering the roof top apparatus.
Member Harrington: One of the questions that I will address to you next month, so that you can think about it between now and then, what standard of review would you suggest to the Board when it comes of architectural project and when it involves architectural projects like this? You are apparently looking for not a very big dome, how would you suggest to us next month that we should distinguish this from a 100 foot dome or a 40 foot dome or a 20 foot dome or should we simply apply the ordinance if it doesnít serve any purpose other than aesthetic? I donít know, but I am going to ask you. So think about it.
Matt Quinn: Do you want my answer now? I would think that what you would do in a situation like this for an architectural review is to look at the mid point of that architectural feature and in this circumstance the mid point of the dome is 65 feet which coincidentally is the maximum height allowed within that zoning district as compared to if this dome was 100 feet tall then that would not be close enough to the intent of the ordinance. I think that you could look at it in that way.
Chairman Brennan: I hate to put anything off, but it sounds like you are agreeable. Does is have some huge project on the project overall?
Matt Quinn: If you are going to bring it back anyway for the City Attorney to write the opinion, then I think it is only fair to you that we do it all at one time; and he will probably be here I would assume.
Chairman Brennan: Well if nothing else, we may get a letter that says " you are right".
Member Fannon: Your letter if read it correctly said that if we donít want to interpret the ordinance that you would then respectfully request variances.
Matt Quinn: That is correct, because I realize that in some circumstances that an ordinance interpretation that I am asking for might affect another application that might be pending and therefore for whatever reason that you felt that you didnít want to grant an ordinance interpretation then you could deal with the ordinances themselves.
Member Fannon: Then we would be looking at your computer generated thing. My question is, does this notice right here, if you come back next month, tell the people in the area that you are also maybe asking for a variance?
Matt Quinn: Yes.
Member Fannon: Does it apply to both, or are we going to be sitting here saying that it wasnít properly noticed.
Matt Quinn: The original application that was filed on 3A says request an interpretation of the building height in OST; so I think that it is covered and then it deals with the variances. So yes, we have asked for ordinance interpretations and in the alternative the variances.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Is this just a cover, or the whole roof?
Matt Quinn: We have an option there, the dome that you see here could just be placed over the front major entrance way or it actually could go all the way through the building from front to back. And right now it is front to back.
Member Fannon: If we as a Board agreed that we would look at this as a variance would we need the City Attorney writing opinions of interpretations? If he was strictly here saying that he wanted to put the dome on this beautiful building and if it falls like a flag pole I need some help here with a variance. I thought it was very clear to me at least, and I didnít see these pictures or have any idea of what it looked like, that I would most likely want to look at this as a variance then to have us sit here and interpret about domes or whether this will ever be a capital or something.
Member Harrington: I donít disagree with you, but we didnít file the request for the interpretation; the petitioner did and he wants the ordinance interpreted. It seems to be heavy factually based in terms of the interpretation. But none the less I think that ordinance interpretation does or can involve legal issue and I think that we need that input. It may be that it is up to us to interpret it. There is nothing that Dennis Watson or the rest of them can tell us. I think that we need that to make that call.
Member Sanghvi: Maybe we can give him a choice. Does he want to go for interpretation or does he want a variance and get it now?
Matt Quinn: I think the interpretation is a lot easier for you to make, because the ordinance says exactly what it says. Mr. Arroyo reads something into it that I believe is not there and we want to present the ordinance to you, so that you agree with our interpretation of it. So you are not going to get us to give up that right.
Chairman Brennan: So if you are agreeable we would like to do that. You will be at the front end of the agenda
Matt Quinn: Then we will see you next month. Thank you very much.
Case No. 99-070 filed by Hall Engineering Company
Hall Engineering Company is requesting a variance to allow outside storage in an I-1 (Light Industrial) zoning district for property located at 25400 Meadowbrook Road.
Bill Simmons was present and duly sworn.
Bill Simmons: I am the President of Hall Engineering and also the property owner at 25400 Meadowbrook. The reason that I am here is that I received a citation for outside storage. I am an electrical contractor of heavy industrial and automotive work. The violation was written for 10 temporary power skids that is outdoor equipment that we utilize to power buildings and things when they are in an erection stage prior to permanent power being in place; and 2 metal framed propane storage tanks that we store propane tanks in outside of the building. The 10 power skids since I received the violation, I have removed from the site. I added some rack storage inside and they are now located inside of the building. The propane tanks by MIOSHA standards cannot be stored within the building. We have them in a ventilated caged equipment on the side of the building and the violation was written for those. The tanks are used for the hi-lo inside of the building as well as man lift equipment at our job sites.
Bill Simmons: I went to the prosecuting attorney there and discussed it with him and he said that the only solution that I had was to request a variance. I understand that outside storage is not allowed in the area where our current place of business is and in the course of doing business I have transient equipment, licensed trailers, etc., that as I understand no violation has been written for them and they are stored outside. What I would like to propose in order to be proactive in the solution is to put a privacy screened fenced area on the back of the building following the contours of the building which would put the fencing 75í from each of my neighbors and 260í from the front of the building to where the fencing would start so it would not be visible from Vincenti Court or would not be visible from Meadowbrook Road. There is a dirt berm behind us which I think is a privacy fence for me from the neighbor who is behind me and then the neighbor to the left which is Caterpillar Diesel.
Bill Simmons: What I am trying to do is to be a little proactive and also be able to maintain my place of business and be able to safely store in accordance with MIOSHA these propane tanks that are in the natural course of us doing business here. I have some sketches here, they are not as sophisticated as some that I have seen here, but there is the existing layout of the property and then the second page on the dark area it shows the 2 options that we have proposed. One is on the back of the building which I described initially and the other would be set over on the side of the property and backed up to the dirt berm. In my opinion that would be more visible through the one entrance gate as we have a block wall that runs over to our property line and that would be more visible than adding onto or putting the fencing on the back of the building. It would still allow 26í of fire lane behind the building and there shouldnít be any difficulty in getting around in the event that we should ever have a fire.
Bill Simmons: This is our proposed solution to our current circumstances.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 14 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.
There was no audience participation.
Terry Morrone had no comment.
Chairman Brennan inquired of the Building Department. Does the Fire Department have to be aware of this if a variance is granted?
Terry Morrone: Not necessarily, but I am assuming that they know about it because of their annual inspections and they would have seen this. If you havenít been notified by the Fire Department I would again assume that they have approved it.
Bill Simmons: We have had annual inspections, walked through the building, etc. We have had no violations because we have this stored outside and those are MIOSA requirements because it is a fire hazard inside.
Chairman Brennan: We have had in the last year probably 3 or maybe even 4 cases where the State has enacted law that has conflicted with the current ordinance and in order for the petitioner to meet State code he had to get a variance from us. I look at this in a similar light. Would there be any way of storing this off site at a third party as an option? Could this be stored anywhere else legally outside and not on your property?
Bill Simmons: Well the question would then become how do I conduct my business of running the hi-lo at the shop and the normal course of business of propane tanks coming to and from.
Chairman Brennan: You have answered my question; you need it.
Member Harrington: Maybe you addressed this in your presentation, and if you did I missed it. Are you requesting option 1 or option 2?
Bill Simmons: We presented 2 options, but number 1 I think is a better solution. Aesthetically I think it would be a better solution. It will be less visible.
Member Harrington: Then you will be up against the shop, so one side of this will be the equivalent of a concrete wall or whatever the shop is made of?
Bill Simmons: Yes, that is correct.
Member Harrington: Would the affect of the fencing that you are going to put in to provide security, so that you donít have kids or whoever wandering around and poking around in the propane stuff?
Bill Simmons: In addition to the tanks which are already secure with metal framing and doors on the, this would be in addition to that.
Member Harrington: Would the fencing itself be secure in the sense that if it is a holiday or after hours and you are not there that the fencing area would be locked?
Bill Simmons: Yes.
Member Harrington: Would the affect of the privacy screening to physically screen it like a 100%, it almost looks like there are little strips there that you can see through?
Bill Simmons: I am not up on fences 100%, but my intent is unless someone can tell me differently is to lace it so that you canít see through it but with screening that will match the color of the building so it will be hardly noticeable. It is our intent to do it correctly and not worm our way out of our circumstance.
Member Fannon: I was over there yesterday and when you have trucks and vans without plates and empty spools that are sitting there and the trailers that are sitting there that they use for offices, are you allowed to store that on I-1?
Alan Amolsch: They are allowed to store licensed vehicles. They canít have trailers just stored there without plates on them, they have to be currently plated and they have to be used for the business.
Member Fannon: How about office trailers?
Alan Amolsch: If they are not plated and they are not used for the business they shouldnít be there.
Bill Simmons: I havenít been written up for that. I am in concurrence with you and that will be removed.
Member Fannon: When I went over there yesterday, there was a truck without a plate. I am just asking.
Alan Amolsch: That is not my violation. Generally trailers are allowed if they are with the business.
Member Fannon: I thought that the fencing idea was great, get the tanks off of the side of the building so some kids donít go there. I think it is a great idea.
Terry Morrone: One more thing, you brought up the Fire Department having to look at this and after looking at this sketch a little closer I think it might be a good idea that if you were to entertain some sort of variance that we make it subject to approval from the Fire Department. I think for purposes of fire lanes and that type of thing that we make sure that we have access to this area and the building itself.
Chairman Brennan: So we could contingent on sending a copy of this plan to the Fire Department for their OK.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-070 TO APPROVE THE VARIANCE AS PRESENTED THIS EVENING WHICH WILL BE OPTION NUMBER ONE (1), WITH 100% PRIVACY SCREENING, SECURED FROM ACCESS BY THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND THE VARIANCE SUBJECT TO APPROVAL BY THE NOVI FIRE DEPARTMENT OR THE EQUIVALENT FACILITY. THIS VARIANCE IS LIMITED TO THIS PETITIONER ONLY.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Member Meyer: I received a ballot for the American Planning Association Executive Committee for the 1999 to 2002 and quite frankly I can read the description that they have given of these individuals, but I am wondering if you as the "chair" have any recommendations?
Chairman Brennan: No, that is a secret ballot. I am sorry I havenít even looked at that.
The Meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
Date Approved _ _
Nancy C. McKernan