REGULAR MEETING Ė ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS Ė CITY OF NOVI
CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 TEN MILE RD.
Tuesday Ė December 7, 1999
The Meeting was called to order at 7:32 p.m., with Chairman Brennan presiding.
Present Members Meyer, Bauer, Reinke, Fannon, Harrington, Brennan
Absent Member Sanghvi
Also Present Donald M. Saven Ė Building Official
Tamara Buswinka Ė Staff Planner
Alan Amolsch Ė Ordinance Enforcement Officer
Nancy McKernan Ė Recording Secretary
Chairman Brennan indicated we do have a quorum present and the Meeting is now in session. The Zoning Board of Appeals is a hearing board empowered by the Novi City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of the Novi Zoning Ordinances. 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 and any decision on cases heard tonight will be final.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Chairman Brennan indicated we have one case that has been removed; Case No. 99-077 filed by the City of Novi which was the sign request in front of City Hall. Case No. 99-080 filed by New Horizons has been removed and has asked to be tabled to the January 4, 2000 Meeting. Are there any other modifications or changes to the agenda? Hearing none, all those in favor of the agenda as modified please signify by saying aye. All ayes. Agenda approved as modified.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chairman Brennan indicated we have the Minutes from the November 9, 1999 Meeting. Are there any changes to those minutes? Hearing none, all those in favor please signify by saying aye. All ayes. Minutes approved as submitted.
Chairman Brennan indicated this is the Public Remarks portion of this Meeting. We will hear anyone who wishes to address the Board. However, it is an issue relative to case to be heard tonight we would like you to hold those comments until that case is called. Is there anybody who wished to address the Board? (No one came forward.)
Case No. 99-074 filed by Frederic I. Keywell, representing Art Van Furniture, Inc.
Frederic I. Keywell, representing Art Van Furniture, Inc., is requesting a variance to allow a 96" x 30" (30 sq. ft.) off-premise ground sign with the height from grade to be 36". The sign will contain names and logos for STANDARD FEDERAL, SCOTT SCHUPTRINE and ART VAN. The sign will be located on Parcel A, Novi Road and West Oaks Drive in a RC Zoning District.
Frederic Keywell was present.
Frederic Keywell: Sometime ago the City of Novi requested bids with regard to the subject parcel of land, Art Van Furniture was the successful bidder. Art Van Furniture has agreed that for at least five (5) years there will no buildings erected on this parcel of land. The parcel will first be used as a greenbelt and for parking. One of the conditions of the agreement was that Art Van, Standard Federal and Scott Schuptrine would be able to have a directional sign at that point, at the corner of the parcel. As it turns out it is unlikely that Art Van and I donít know what the plans are, but it will probably be Scott Schuptrine and Standard Federal although Art Van does want the right to put a directional sign there, to direct traffic around to the road and over to one of the three (3) entities. The sign that we are proposing and which has been suggested by the City of Novi is 96" x 30" for a total of 20 square feet. Some of you, I know, went by there and plywood was installed there to show what the sign will be like. The idea is to make the sign similar to the Too Chez sign that is on the other side of that little road.
Chairman Brennan indicated that there was a total of 19 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
Ed Kriewall: I gave you a history of this particular property. It is somewhat convoluted in terms of how we have gotten to this point. As a part of the considerations for the sale, when they submitted their bid on this they requested that part of their proposal would include a directional sign that could be constructed and would be considered an off premise sign off of West Oaks Drive. City Council has conceptually agreed with that. They wanted a much larger sign originally, something on the order of the Twelve Oaks Mall huge marquee signs out there, City Council said "no way, we would consider recommending something on the order of the Too Chez sign which is across the street". By the way the temporary sign that is installed is roughly in the right location but it is too high out of the ground; in other words we would envision whatever you might approve being the exact same size as the Too Chez sign except across West Oaks Drive. The only other comment that I would like to make is that in terms of the history of this situation, Standard Federal has been very cooperative with us. They were a little bit fearful that we would sell the property to someone that might build a building in front of them because going way back there was some consideration given to the City by Standard Federal and they moved off of this parcel and moved to the back. But as part of our arrangements for selling the parcel we wanted also to deliver a sanitary sewer easement to this parcel so that 10 to 15 years from now if Art Van would choose to sell the property, we could get sanitary sewer service to the property and Standard Federal has indicated that they will give us that easement across their property; but naturally they want to be included in this sign that we have referenced all along. The only other thing that I would recommend is that if you grant this variance that you condition it upon the City of Novi approving the wording on the sign so that we make sure that Standard Federal gets proper representation and that in addition the City would control the exact location of the sign in terms of engineering as there is a water main in that vicinity and we want to make sure that it is not going to interfere with the water main, number one. I believe that as part of the Ramco Gershenson project which is behind West Oaks I and II they are probably going to add another lane to West Oaks Drive and we want to make sure that the sign sets back far enough that it doesnít interfere with a future lane widening. So, I think that if you grant the variance it should be contingent upon the City reviewing the verbiage on the sign and the actual location of the sign. That would be my only comments.
Don Saven had no comment.
Member Fannon inquired of Ed Kriewall: I took a look at the sign over the weekend and is it set back that far because of the anticipation of West Oaks Drive being widened?
Ed Kriewall: Somewhat, yes.
Member Fannon: It looked like it was too far back and not far enough towards Novi Road to do anything.
Ed Kriewall: We think that we can move it a little bit closer to Novi Road and a little bit closer to West Oaks Drive. They just went out and had a sign company plant the sign and we think that we can do a little bit better than that.
Member Fannon: It just doesnít seem to work.
Ed Kriewall: It doesnít show up very well there.
Member Fannon: There is also another little Art Van sign as you go down a little further that has an arrowÖ.
Ed Kriewall: Is it a permanent sign? I think that was approved quite some time ago.
Member Fannon: That is not a part of this one?
Ed Kriewall: No it isnít.
Member Harrington inquired of Frederic Keywell: Could you enlighten the Board on what it is that we are deciding upon? Are we approving a contract that has been signed between the City and Art Van as purchaser or are we to apply traditional standards such as hardship, practical difficulty and the like?
Frederic Keywell: The latter.
Member Harrington: What is the hardship? How does Scott Schuptrine relate to this issue?
Frederic Keywell: Scott Schuptrine is an entity that is owned by Art Van Furniture or the Eslander family. That building is setback and is behind Art Van and it is more difficult to be seen from Novi Road than for example the Art Van store. The Standard Federal, the Scott Schuptrine and the Art Van are like at that one spot on Novi Road or whatever the road that goes west from Novi Road to Twelve Mile Road and the 3 stores would be identified by the sign and traffic would be diverted in that direction, customer traffic in particular.
Member Harrington: What is the exact understanding that exists between the City who will benefit from this transaction and Art Van who will benefit from this transaction, what is the understanding regarding the actual sign? Do we have any discretion to exercise tonight or is the sign a part of the deal and we just have to approve the deal?
Frederic Keywell: The sign is a part of the deal.
Member Harrington: In what fashion?
Frederic Keywell: It was conditioned, the bid of the City of Novi required that an easement be granted for a directional sign at that location for Standard Federal. Art Van felt that since its use of the property is or that we voluntarily and at the Cityís request agreed that a building would not be constructed on the property the one thing that Art Van wanted was that it too had identification since it owned the property and it was paying a handsome sum to the City for the property that not only should Standard Federal have identification but that Art Vanís 2 businesses also should have identification on Art Vanís property.
Member Harrington: What I am trying to understand here, and it sounds like Art Van has bought the sign from the City? What issue are we dealing with tonight?
Frederic Keywell: It is a sign variance. Art Van has agreed to purchase it and we want to close the transaction this month, before the end of the year, and we need the sign variance by the ZBA.
Member Harrington: Art Van was before the Board over a period of time of several months and we have most recently and in the last couple of months approved major signage for Art Van, could you address the hardship that is facing Art Van with respect to this additional sign?
Frederic Keywell: The hardship surely is greater for Scott Schuptrine and for Standard Federal than it is for Art Van; however, if Art Van and I canít tell you with all candor that Art Van is going to suffer a tremendous hardship by reason of not having a sign; but under the circumstances my client felt that since is was paying close to a million two hundred thousand dollars for this small piece of property and there was going to be a sign on that property for Standard Federal and it wasnít Standard Federalsí property, it was Art Vansí property, that the purpose of having a direction sign there for Standard Federal was just as applicable to Art Van and to Scott Schuptrine. My client would like that variance.
Member Harrington: Can you address, if you would, the hardship that Standard Federal faces?
Frederic Keywell: No, I cannot. That was a condition of the transaction. Standard Federal will not grant the easement unless they have a sign. I think that the easement is beneficial to all parties who are concerned.
Member Harrington: What standard are we to employ other than it is a good deal for the City, which I am assuming that it is and a good deal for Standard Fed and a good deal for Art Van; what standard are we to employ as a Board to approve this transaction if there is no hardship?
Frederic Keywell: There is hardship in the sense that should there be construction of a building on the parcel in the future; which whoever owns that property as Art Van obviously wonít own it in perpetuity and whoever owns that property will have the right to construct a building on that site that would block both Standard Federal, Art Van from one side, and Scott Schuptrine and would impact the visibility of those 3 companies and that is why they wanted the sign so that the public would have a direction and know which way to go. The opportunity wonít be available unless Art Van controls the parcel.
Member Harrington: Is the understanding with the City, that the City would support the variance application or is the understanding that the entire purchase agreement is conditioned upon this Board approving that transaction?
Frederic Keywell: The purchase agreement has a condition to it that Art Van or the 3 entities could have a directional sign.
Member Harrington: I am just wondering if what the deal is the City will support, and it sounds like a good deal for the City and I am not quarreling with that; but normally in fact in every single sign case that I have seen since I have sat on this Board for all most 10 years, there has been a minimum demonstration of some hardship related to the actual users and not the fact that someone is pay 2 million dollars for a piece of property. It sounds like the sign is being bought.
Ed Kriewall: I would like to respond that.
Member Harrington: I think that you see where I am going, help me out.
Ed Kriewall: Yes, I will try to help you out. When Too Chez and initially the Sheraton Hotel constructed that sign across the street; it is really a directional sign. This tells you how to get to Too Chez or the Sheraton Hotel. I view this request as really providing the same kind of direction, an off premise sign direction, to Scott Schuptrine and Standard Federal. I view this in the same vein; that was granted to the Sheraton Hotel and to Too Chez to direct traffic to the hotel. I think that we are really looking for the same kind of concept.
Chairman Brennan: You barked up one of the trees that I was going to bark up. Mr. Keywell, you suggested or at least you kind of wavered on whether Art Van was even going to be on this sign given the signage that we have granted in other cases, do they need to be on this given their location proximity to Novi Road? And if they donít need to be on it, can that sign be 64 x 30 or 1/3 rd the size that you have requested?
Frederic Keywell: When you say that they donít need to be on the sign, the problem is if that property is to be developed they will need to be on that sign. We would like to get this transaction and not have to build because signs are expensive and we donít want to have to come back to the Board and pay for a new sign; so we want to get this accomplished at this time. It is not a particularly large sign. All that I am saying is that it is possible at this point and I donít know what the plans are because we are just waiting to get the approval of this Board, hopefully, that it will only be at this point in time and they will only have the 2 panels, Scott Schuptrine and Standard Federal; but at sometime in the future they may want 3 panels.
Chairman Brennan: For the sake of our resident attorney at the table here; are you, Jim, at all satisfied with the understanding of the deal that was cut? I took this to be a deal struck between the City and buying this property and they conceded signage?
Member Harrington: I am not concerned about the legality, I am concerned about the implications for this Board that we are a rubber stamp for negotiations between the City and third parties regarding the selling of signs. What I would really like to hear is a compelling and persuasive argument that there is genuine hardship associated with Schuptrine, for example not faced by every other retail tenant in that shopping center and many of whom canít be seen period, but much less with one building behind. I would also like to hear why it is that we need to grant a variance now when some building which is reason for it hasnít been built and wonít be built for 5 years; we are being asked to speculate in the future what adequate signage is. I am really troubled that we are expected to approve without any showing of hardship whatsoever a deal made by the City of Novi and the alleged hardship is that the deal is in the best interest of the City. I have never heard of a case like that. Maybe I am missing the issue; that is not legal, that is are we selling signs.
Chairman Brennan: I wonder whether the right party is in front of us because I think that when it was first on the agenda it was to be presented by the City of Novi and the City of Novi was the petitioner. The City of Novi needs a variance in order for this deal to be consummated, is that correct?
Frederic Keywell: That is correct.
Member Meyer: Will the sign be illuminated like the Too Chez sign?
Frederic Keywell: Yes.
Member Meyer: Would this sign also have arrows on it? On the Too Chez sign it has little arrows. The diagram that we were given here doesnít seem to indicate that there actually will be something indicating that it is to help people know that this is where they are supposed to turn, at least on this little diagram that we were given. The board that is out there right now is simply for the sake of the size, so I am trying to help here and it seems to me that the hardship is knowing how to get to the spot. I know that there was a restaurant here in town that didnít make it, and when the new restaurant came to town on the very same piece of property an access drive was put in and that restaurant seems to be doing quite well. So where I am coming from is, that it seems to me that the hardship might be that people donít know where to turn in order to get into these 3 businesses that you have mentioned.
Member Harrington: You donít know where to turn to get into Art Van? That place is huge.
Member Meyer: Once again, I am not an advocate, I am playing devilís advocate here.
Frederic Keywell: Thank you very much. The answer to your question is that it is intended as a directional sign and directions will be on that sign.
Member Meyer: There will be arrows or something?
Frederic Keywell: Yes.
Member Harrington: Playing devilís advocate the other way, Mike, what about all the other poor tenants like JoAnn Fabric who are simply relying people being able to see them back there and we did not approve their full sign even in recognition of the fact that they are the way back there and all of those building on the north face and facing south of West Oaks who you really have difficulty seeing from any direction, other than looking at an angled way in there, why is there more hardship here for Standard Federal which you canít miss from Novi Road and you canít miss coming off of the freeway or even Scott Schuptrine where you say that it is in the middle of West Oaks shopping center?
Member Meyer: I am a wise enough man to know not to take on a true advocate.
Member Harrington: Those are my concerns.
Member Meyer: I understand.
Member Harrington: You are in the middle of the shopping center and this is not like you are set way back like Lifetime Fitness and even then they donít have a directional sign out there on Haggerty Road. It sounds like Art Van and Standard Fed and Scott Schuptrine, God bless them, negotiated hard with the City and the City negotiated hard the other way to protect the City interests and that is great as it is the negotiation process. But, I am concerned about our jurisdiction which is to grant variances in cases of hardship. This sounds like a financial hardship, if we canít get this property we are going to lose this money or we are going to lose this or that and we don'tí approve variances like that. We havenít heard any hardship for Standard Fed.
Chairman Brennan: I would like to ask Mr. Kriewall, Ed, what happens if we deny this? Is the deal done?
Ed Kriewall: I believe that they will buy the property anyway. That is my belief. This thing really stems and I really believe that Standard Federal really has a hardship. We tried to provide when we specified the bidding for this situation and Standard Federal became aware that we were going to sell this property, which the City for a long said "we are going to hang onto this property and just keep it an open space", they became very concerned. So we said, and you know that there was a jewelry store that bid on this site also, we said " we will try to put it in the specs that we will get you an off premise sign" and that is where this whole thing stems from. So we are just trying to take care of Standard Federal, who by moving back off of the front parcel are just hard to see back there. It is only a directional sign and that is what we are trying to do.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Practical difficulty?
Member Harrington: The building isnít up yet. What is the practical difficulty?
Chairman Brennan: No, the directional is for Scott Schuptrine and Standard Federal.
Member Harrington: Yes, but we donít have anyone from Scott Schuptrine or Standard Federal standing in front of us saying "people are driving around for hours at a time trying to find us", they may be driving around for hours looking for a parking spot at this time of the year; but we donít have that basis to make the finding. What I noted when I drove by there tonight and went up Novi Road and then came back down the other way, is that it appears that the same West Oaks center was at one point the beneficiary of a large pole sign which is limited to 3 tenants and apparently zoning does not permit additions to that large pole sign so what we are doing 50 yards away is starting with a ground sign which will name 3 tenants. It is problematic. It is more signage out there in the corner and I certainly would not be indicating that I would not support a sign when that building is built and the hardship and practical difficulty at that point in time exists; it you have a building that is obstructing the view and it is legitimate and you canít find it and I am not sure that would address all of those other tenants in there; but right now we are talking about a building that might be in there in 5 years from now.
Ed Kriewall: There is a difficulty in that, however, in that they may be able to come into petition for that sign after they build the building or sell the property but it doesnít provide any relief for Standard Federal because they are going to own the property, do you understand what I am saying as this get kind of complex here. We started out trying to do something for Standard Federal. That will go away when they buy the property.
Chairman Brennan: Letís get a sense where the Board sits and then we can entertain a motion.
Member Fannon: It is hard to see the practical difficulty. I think that Jim has a pretty good point that Lifetime Fitness, for example, would be coming or could then come and say that you have to get back off of Haggerty Road 1000 feet to our building; is that we are starting all over this City if we start to do this type of thing? You can actually see the building itself and the signs that have already been granted are big. Art Vanís signs are big, we went and stood out there and I think that we gave variances on 3 sides of the building, if I am not mistaken. I donít know where Standard Federal is tonight and why they didnít come tonight. It is hard to figure this out without the building being built.
Member Reinke: I donít think that there is enough information here to really warrant the variance as requested. There is no hardship demonstrated with the information that we have been given.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Fannon,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-074 TO DENY THE VARIANCE REQUEST AS SUBMITTED, BY REASON OF INSUFFICIENT HARDSHIP.
Discussion on motion:
Member Harrington: In making the motion it is my specific intent not to indicate how I would vote in the future when a building which would obstruct the view of Standard Federal or Scott Schuptrine is actually in place, we have historically always wanted to see the actual structures which provide site line impediments and if and when that obstruction exists I would certainly revisit this issue as to all three that would be affected by the sign. Right now it sounds like we might be 5 years premature. I understand we are in sensitive negotiations and I appreciate that but we also have a statutory mandate.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Meyer Motion Carried
Case No. 99-078A & B filed by Husky Injection Molding Systems
Husky Injection Molding Systems if requesting A) a variance to allow a ground sign 26í x 2í (52 sq. ft.) with height from grade being 7í3" and B) a variance to allow the placement of two (2) wall signs 16í x 3í (48 sq. ft. each) to be located on the structural screen of the building for property located at 45145 Twelve Mile Road.
Matt Quinn was present.
Matt Quinn: We are here asking for 5 relatively minor variances, but very important variances. My corporate staff from Toronto is here, the legal staff from Husky and the administrative staff who have been involved in building this world class project since itís inception. We are here tonight really to put the finishing touches on this project.
Matt Quinn: First of all we would like to show you the area that we are dealing with. On the bottom of this picture is the I-96 expressway, the line going diagonal is the railroad track, the area in green at the railroad track and Twelve Mile is the Husky site. I show you this picture so that you have an idea of the reference to the expressway and how far the building sits back from Twelve Mile Road and also itís relationship with the railroad tracks.
Matt Quinn: As you saw in the application, the first issue that we are looking at tonight is the ground sign at the entranceway on Twelve Mile Road. Now, the mock up has been out there and in place for you to see and the mock up is the approximate size that we are looking for. The first variance on that ground sign for the entranceway is the setback from Twelve Mile Road. Twelve Mile Road is special when it comes to signs because it requires at 78 foot setback from the centerline for signage. A 78 foot setback in this scenario, as you saw in your diagrams, is very deep inside of the green area. One of the problems with the project and not a problem as it is a benefit, is that Husky gave a conservation easement to the City for the trees and the landscaping that is all to the front of the property towards Twelve Mile Road. That landscaping wonít be touched at all until Twelve Mile Road is expanded and at that time we would expect that it would be removed.
Matt Quinn: You saw the traffic or the speed study in your packet. What that showed is that from the west going east, the ground comes from a low spot and it goes up. As you approach the Husky driveway the Husky driveway still continues to rise in that area and you have the heavy green space on the south side of Twelve Mile Road and even at the present location of the sign which is 42 feet from the centerline the traffic wonít see it until they are only 100 feet away from the driveway. With the speed of trucks and what have you, it really causes a true safety hazard even at that location but that is the best location that we have right now. We believe that the majority of the traffic will be coming from the east to the west, from Novi Road to the west. That is why the sign is located on the west side of the entranceway. Now the traffic from that area at the 42 foot setback will be able to see the sign approximately 374 feet away. So with this sign in this location and at this setback it is really the best location that we can have to service the traffic coming each way.
Matt Quinn: The other portion of the variance dealing with this sign, is that this sign is in a "V" shape. Now under the City ordinances you are allowed a "V" shaped sign if the 2 wings are no more than 2 feet apart. Now because of the location of the sign and the need to have the 2 faces of the sign face the traffic from the west and the east our wings have to be 12 feet apart. Therefore under your ordinance, we really create 2 signs. Again, it is a technicality. The square footage stays the same whether the wings are 2 feet apart or 12 feet apart and yet it becomes 2 signs so we need that variance.
Matt Quinn: The third variance on that sign is the height. The location that it is in sits in a depression. Your ordinance states that for the height of the sign you must measure from the base elevation or the current ground level to the height of the sign. We are asking that the sign be a total of 7í3" and in actuality the sign is only 5í tall. But the berm that we will have to build is a 2í berm and therefore that is the third variance needed for that particular sign.
Matt Quinn: You have all seen the sign at the site and this sign is the same sign that exists in every Husky facility worldwide. They are not asking for the sign to be any bigger than normal. They are asking, in fact, for it to be the same type of sign that they have everywhere. We are just adjusting the "V" in that. In the future, by the way, when Twelve Mile gets widened, they acknowledge that they are going to have to move the sign back onto their property but at that point in time all of the vegetation and the trees will have been removed by the county of Oakland.
Matt Quinn: The final variances that we are asking for are the 2 signs that are on the south side of the building. These are the 2 that face the expressway and the railroad tracks. Now, Husky as a world class business will be having trucks come fairly irregularly but probably every truck driver that comes may be there for the first time. Now, one of the problems is how are they going to know where this location is? The signs have been set up on this building so that they are visible from trucks coming west to east on the expressway and east to west on the expressway. These signs are set up to be minimally visible from the expressway. As you saw on the first picture and if you drove the expressway today, the building sits a good half mile or more away from the expressway. These signs are not being placed at the tallest point of the building as you see, they are being placed in a location where Husky truly believes that they are minimally visible from the expressway, they are not intrusive and yet they will serve a purpose for truck traffic that is travelling the expressway to know exactly where the Husky facility is as it is viewable from the expressway. Also with the train track that comes adjacent to the Husky facility, from the south to the north we have a spur that is accessed from that south to north, and these 2 signs will also give the engineer of the railroad vehicles the opportunity to know that this is in fact the Husky building and they will exactly know where they are going and where that railroad spur is.
Matt Quinn: Now the other variance dealing with these 2 signs is the fact that they are not on the wall of the building, the brick portion of the building nor the glass portion of the building, they are on a screen wall that covers some of the HVAC and other equipment that is on the roof. Now, Husky believes that number one if they were to put it up on the glass and the highest point, that may not be the best practical place to have these signs because of some safety factors and a problem of practical difficulty of servicing them. On the screening area where they are presently placed, they can be permanently attached, they can be safely attached, and they can be more readily serviced from the roof areas of these 2 components. That is the final variance that we are requesting.
Matt Quinn: I think that the practical difficulties of all 5 of these variances are very evident, especially dealing with the ground sign, the entranceway sign up front. The practical difficulties here deal with the need for identification from the railroad traffic, the need for identification from the expressway and as nothing that you would normally like to consider, but it is very important to a $28 million project is that it have some visibility on the expressway. If we were exactly on the expressway abutting it, we would have the right to have a sign on the back Ė a pure advertising sign; a name sign we could have too, one in the front and one in the back. Since we are not abutting these 2 signs will serve the incidental purpose of providing some of that identification and advertising to the world and the motoring public.
Matt Quinn: I will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have, but otherwise we would seek a favorable approval of all of these variances.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 13 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was no written response received.
There was no audience participation.
Alan Amolsch had no comment.
Member Meyer: When I drove out there today, it seemed that the sign was huge. I am addressing the 62 foot setback variance. If I understood correctly the reason why it is closer to the road is that because somehow the people from the west going east, the foliageÖ.
Matt Quinn: Yes, in your packet and I guess that I will refer to this; this vehicle at this location is 100 foot from that sign and anything farther back is all blocked by this vegetation. We have to leave the vegetation, we have no choice in that. The only spot that you can set that sign back so that it is visible at least 100 feet from the cars approaching from the west is right there and from the east approaching again we have a problem maintaining the natural vegetation for this site line and that gives us that acceptable 374 feet. So, we at least want one acceptable visual approach and temporarily we can live with this deficiency on the west.
Member Meyer: I drove it both ways to see what it would look like coming from Novi Road and then I turned around at Taft and came back. My other concern is it going to be illuminated? So I would imagine that at night it would really pop out at you being that close to the road.
Matt Quinn: That is the whole idea. Again, you have 45 miles per hour on Twelve Mile, you have truck traffic and you have a busy road. You need that visibility on Twelve Mile Road.
Chairman Brennan inquired of Tamara Buswinka: Do you have any idea of what the Oakland County plans are for expanding?
Tamara Buswinka: No, I am sorry I donít know but I can certainly find out for you.
Chairman Brennan: I would guess that we are looking at something in the next 5 years.
Matt Quinn: That is all tied into the Beck Road interchange improvements and, of course, West Oaks III.
Chairman Brennan: The reason I ask is that this in effect a short term, with a short term being a few years as the period of time which you need this variance and when Twelve Mile Road is widened you will be able to meet ordinance with your setback.
Matt Quinn: Yes, or we will be back here again.
Member Harrington: So temporary relief may be all that is necessary. I was struck when I saw the sign today and how closely it resembled a common situation that we run into with subdivision signs where we have frequently and you probably made some eloquent arguments for subdivision signs permitting them to be placed in the middle of the road way or the entrance way. That is a huge entrance way out there. It seemed to me that Husky may not be taking the best advantage of the actual problem that is there, facing that on the west side of the driveway. Was any consideration given or has consideration been given to taking that sign and putting it in the middle of the driveway because the one thing that you see when you are driving 45 miles per hour is a great huge driveway and you are drawn to look to see what it is? Why not put it in the middle and get it out of those woods?
Matt Quinn: Well, Rod Arroyo would probably have a heart attack first of all. The last thing that you want a truck to realize at the last moment that it has to turn and it doesnít have the ability to turn sharp it would just wipe that sign out time and time again. That is the problem of putting the sign in the middle of the entrance to the driveway.
Member Harrington: Driving 45 miles per hour and not looking for the biggest building in the Oakland County area?
Matt Quinn: The problem is that you canít see that building from Twelve Mile.
Member Harrington: I disagree with that. The building is huge and it is visible, especially if you have been pointed to that building by the freeway sign.
Matt Quinn: That would give them a better idea of where it is.
Member Harrington: That is not an option then in terms of putting it in the middle of the driveway area?
Matt Quinn; We talked, even of the other side. This has been the best location given the speed and the distance that it is visible.
Chairman Brennan: I have just a general comment on the wall signs. I found them and I hate to admit it, relatively modest. But you could see them from the freeway. I wondered why you needed the one on the east side, but you have explained that given the railroad traffic.
Member Harrington: The east side or the west side? The railroad side is on the west side.
Chairman Brennan: I thought that it was just the opposite.
Matt Quinn: He is talking that the railroad track is here, there are the 2 signs; one here and one facing out this way. They are both on the west side of the building.
Chairman Brennan: I would like to continue the discussion about whether this is a short term fix for the ground sign and perhaps we could condition a variance on the Twelve Mile widening and the layout of the property when that all happens. Personally I think that they have some unique problems with that right now as it is with the topography and with the existing Twelve Mile doing this. I think that they need some relief in trying to find a relatively isolated site as it is right now.
Member Reinke: I totally agree with the signage on Twelve Mile. My first look was that it was a real big balloon up; but as you are driving back and forth and looking at the distance, plus the speed and the foliage that is there; I think it is a little on the large side but I think that until the base of what Twelve Mile Road is finally going to be I can live with that and try to not have a tractor trailer take out another tree or something like that along there in the process. My problem is with the other 2 signs. I think that all railroad spurs are identified and I donít think that we need to put a sign up for a railroad to find a building. Secondly to be visible from the expressway, for identification everybody has an address and everybody basically knows where they are going. They need the identification from Twelve Mile Road, I donít think that they need it from the expressway. My point of view.
Chairman Brennan: You talked about those 2 wall signs needing to be on that screen for servicing; are these back lit?
Matt Quinn: Yes.
Chairman Brennan: OK, that would be changing bulbs.
Matt Quinn: The only thing is that it is dark at 4:30 through a good number of months they do need something that is lit.
Member Harrington: I just want to echo a thought that Mr. Reinke has expressed. I think the idea of freeway identification is troublesome; we wrestled with that issue with Best Buy and that whole southeast quadrant of Novi and I am concerned about not necessarily precedent because every case has to be considered on itís own merit; but I havenít really heard any particular hardship involved here other than the fact that this is a wonderful industry and we are happy to have them in our community and it is a major project; but I havenít really heard what the hardship is that is required to have freeway identification from ľ mile or Ĺ mile away. I certainly donít want to hear all of those cases coming in front of us, or buildings that are already there; for example Meadowbrook Road and the like, they canít find us from the freeway and they are driving by and thereís not even an exit there; how do they find us? Laverne is correct, that is why we have addresses and street locators. So the freeway sign is troublesome to me, the railroad spur is not although I wasnít aware that you needed railroad signage too. Talk to me about the railroad signage, what do railroads see when they drive down the train track?
Matt Quinn: Nothing. But, now they will see the sign. Really it is a matter of better identification and it becomes a matter of safety for the trains who have this spur in mind to be able to readily identify from a distance away and actually they will be Ĺ mile away to identify this as their target spot. There is not a lot of trains, they donít come every day, or necessarily even weekly Ė it is going to be an unusual drop for them and signage here that is visible on the train track will only assist in the access and delivery of trains to this building.
Member Harrington: But as part of the regular railroad deal, there is no entitlement or right to have a sign that says Husky Spur or something?
Matt Quinn: That I donít know. That becomes a practical difficulty we believe that would allow the placement of those very unobtrusive signs. As was stated, it is not like we are trying to maximize any visibility as these are very minimal signs and just large enough to be seen and nothing more.
Member Harrington: The Twelve Mile sign is pretty big.
Matt Quinn: Donít forget we are just trying to show the height. The ground level will be up 2 feet. So the sign will actually shrink. Some of the brown underneath is representative of ground level.
Member Fannon: It is black actually. The first section, really isnít sign. That is where the berm goes. The color is going to actually be what you showed us.
Matt Quinn: The actual color is going to be the same color that is on the building, the same brown tone texture.
Chairman Brennan: I think that we have some general understanding and agreement on the ground sign on Twelve Mile, I think that we need to kick around the wall signage a little more and get zeroed in on a motion. Do we have any fresh thoughts?
Member Reinke: I would like to make a suggestion, letís take them separately and then move ahead.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-078A (GROUND SIGN) TO APPROVE ON A TEMPORARY BASIS NOT TO EXCEED THIRTYSIX (36) MONTHS A SIGN CONSISTENT WITH THE RENDERING PRESENTED TO THE BOARD BY REASONS OF THE TOPOGRAPHY AND PRACTICAL DIFFICULTIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE ENTRANCE TO HUSKY.
Discussion on motion:
Member Meyer: I still think that this sign is to big, but I am going to approve it in viewpoint of the practical difficulties. I am hoping that it is temporary and that when the road is widened the sign will be moved back a bit. I think that it being a 62 foot variance it wonít cause any accidents from the brightness of the sign or from someone maybe even pulling out of Husky onto Twelve Mile and not being able to see a car going from the west to the east. The sign is close to the road. I will be approving this based on the temporary position of it.
Chairman Brennan: The variance request actually is 36 feet. They are supposed to be at 78 and they are proposing 42, so that is 36 from the centerline.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Chairman Brennan: OK, now for the wall signs, further discussion, motionÖ..
Member Reinke: If there is no discussion I would make a motion. I have already expressed my views and I donít think they are going to change.
Moved by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-078B THE VARIANCE REQUEST FOR THE TWO (2) WALL SIGNS BE DENIED DUE TO INSUFFICIENT HARDSHIP.
Member Harrington: I would like to see those 2 signs considered separately. I see a different issue between the railroad spur sign and the sign which is purely directed at I-96.
Member Reinke: I would like to withdraw my motion.
Chairman Brennan: OK, we did not have support for Laverneís motion, would you like to make a motion?
Member Harrington: I would like to consider the 2 signs separately. I see that they are different considerations. The fact that if they are both at some levels and you can see both signs anyway at some site distances you donít need both signs. I think that there may be an issue with respect to the railroad track, but I cannot support a variance simply because of the desire for visibility on a freeway Ĺ mile away.
Chairman Brennan inquired of Matt Quinn: On that layout there can you point where the sign is, the one that you can see from I-96?
Matt Quinn: The one wall sign is here in the picture. On our diagram in your packet, it is identified as wall sign number 2. Wall sign number 1 is on the side here facing more westerly. In that diagram that you have they are 1 and 2. I think that number 2 is the preferable one. Letís take a look.
Chairman Brennan: I think that it is number 1 that you would prefer. I think that railroad spurs are identified by the railroad.
Member Reinke: That is my indication, the spur is going to be identified on the railroad line. I think there is probably a sign there with a number indicating what the spur at that location is.
Chairman Brennan: Do you get a sense of where we are going here, Matt?
Matt Quinn: Yes, I think that if we had a choice between 1 and 2, that number 1 would be preferable for the purpose of railroad safety.
Member Reinke: I would need some demonstration that the railroad couldnít find the place before I could support it.
Chairman Brennan: I think that Matt may have mis-spoken. He wants sign number 1 and sign number 1 is the one that you can see from the freeway.
Moved by Chairman Brennan,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-078B THAT THE PETITIONERíS REQUEST FOR A SINGLE SIGN DESIGNATED AS WALL SIGN NUMBER 1 BE GRANTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF IDENTIFYING THE SITE.
Discussion on motion:
Member Reinke: This is the one that is most visible to the expressway, correct?
Chairman Brennan: That is correct.
Don Saven: Do you also want to include the placement?
Chairman Brennan: AS THE PETITIONER HAS REQUESTED, PLACEMENT ON THE STRUCTURAL SCREEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVICING.
Roll Call: Yeas (4) Nays (2) Harrington, Reinke Motion Carried
Matt Quinn: Can I ask a question on the first motion? I was talking with George. Was it limited until the expansion or for a certain period of time?
Chairman Brennan: We gave you 3 years. If in 3 years nothing has happened we would like to talk to you.
Matt Quinn: Not to exceed 36 months from a date of what? Construction?
Chairman Brennan: The variance was granted tonight. So it would be 36 months from tonight. I would think that in 3 years we would have a pretty good idea of what the county is going to do with Twelve Mile Rd. and at 3 years we will know that you are going to be moving it back.
Case No. 99-079 filed by SignArt, Inc., representing CVS Pharmacy
SignArt Inc., representing CVS Pharmacy, is requesting a variance to allow a second wall sign 18í1 Ĺ" x 2í2" (39.27 sq. ft.) on the north elevation of the building located at 42191 Fourteen Mile Road.
Jeff Triplett was present and duly sworn.
Jeff Triplett: CVS Pharmacy is opening a new store at the end of this month in a corner position in a somewhat unique strip center located at Novi Road and Fourteen Mile Road. We are here tonight requesting a second wall sign for this building. We have already been granted one conforming wall sign on the west elevation and that sign is comprised of a set of 26 inch letters that read CVS Pharmacy, it measures 39.27 square feet and we are here requesting a second one identical in size for the north elevation of the building.
Jeff Triplett: The store is a little bit unique in that on the south side of the store it is disconnected from any of the other stores in the strip center. There is a walkway between it and the adjacent store. On what would be the east elevation of the store as connected there is a 50 foot long mutual wall with a small tenant next to the CVS location. So like I said, it is totally disconnected on the south side. It has 93 feet of frontage on the Fourteen Mile elevation which is where we are requesting the second wall sign and 138 feet of frontage on the west elevation where we have been granted a wall sign. Both elevations are in very close proximity to the intersection of Fourteen Mile and Novi Road.
Jeff Triplett: We feel that a practical difficulty exists without benefit of this second wall sign because CVS has significant exposure in both of these elevations to the intersection of Fourteen Mile and Novi Road. The corner location that they posses here is a premium location and without benefit of this second wall sign an equitable return on this investment which is more significant than the other tenants in this parcel cannot be realized. Additionally approval of the variance will allow a much more symmetrical appearance for the store. The signs are identical in size and are certainly not overwhelming in size and both elevations of the store are designed to be architecturally identical and this will help to serve that purpose.
Jeff Triplett: I will be happy to answer any questions that the Board may have.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 568 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was a total of 19 written responses received; 3 voicing approval, 15 voicing objection and 1 conditional.
There was no audience participation.
Building Department had no comment.
Planning Department had no comment.
Member Fannon: Can you read the conditional response?
Chairman Brennan: The conditional one came from Mr. Hoadley, who lives up that way and it is rather lengthy. The gist of it is to please stick to ordinance as to the sign. Most of the objections are relative to this being a new store, that it is very visible, that those in the neighborhood know that it is there already, lighting at night is a concern, general issues of conformance to ordinance (why do we have ordinances if we are going to issue variances all of the time?), one sign should be enough, etc.
Chairman Brennan: It is unfortunate that CVS isnít here to plead their case. How long is this store been up?
Jeff Triplett: It is not even open yet. It doesnít open until later this month. It has no signage on it currently.
Chairman Brennan: So you have no history of people not being able to find this store.
Jeff Triplett: No, it is a brand new store.
Member Meyer: I had been told that the mock up would be there, when I drove up there today I didnít see it. Was there one there?
Jeff Triplett: We had the mock up ÖÖ..
Alan Amolsch: It was up once then it was taken down for them to work on the walls, it was put up again last week and it was taken down again.
Member Meyer: I thought that it would be up on the day of the meeting.
Jeff Triplett: Our crew put it up and then the contractor probably removed it because the store is still considerably under construction.
Member Fannon: It happened on Saturday, the mock up was hanging straight down; you could only see the red "C" and the rest of the sign was hanging down. I donít know if it finally fell down or what.
Jeff Triplett: The contractor gave us some grief about attaching it to the mortar joints and that is where you would attach it because you donít want to penetrate the brick.
Member Fannon: I was going to ask you if it was going to run down that way, because actually I had no objection to just that red "C" up there.
Jeff Triplett: I apologize for that, we had it up once about a month ago and then we were tabled for this variance at last monthís meeting and we did get it back up and I apologize for the confusion.
Member Meyer: It is just that I try to check them out on the day of the meeting if I can, just to get the final piece. The other thing that I wanted to ask is it similar to the CVS sign at Ten Mile and Beck Roads, is this the same type of sign?
Jeff Triplett: Yes, exactly the same. But I have to be honest I donít know what size that sign is but it looks significantly larger than what we are proposing to do here. The typical CVS sign is 48" in height and this proposed sign is 26".
Member Meyer: It just helps me, it gave me some idea after I drove back from there and I didnít see anything and actually started thinking that maybe the sign was the little one that is on stakes near the corner.
Jeff Triplett: No, this is a set of letters and the layout is identical to the location that you just mentioned; but I will mention that this sign has 2 stroked of neon illumination in it as opposed to the 4 that is in the sign that you are referring to. So, as far as illumination this is a little less significant than that sign would be.
Member Meyer: Would I take it that you are addressing those letters that were concerned about the apparent brightness of the sign?
Jeff Triplett: Yes, I would have to mention, too, that there will be no exposure on any type of multi-tenant shopping center sign for CVS at this location. So, that plays into our request for this second sign as well.
Chairman Brennan: I will give you my comments. First of all I am very sensitive to the impact on adjoining neighbors. We have a large pack of people here who are objecting to this second sign. Secondly, the building is not up and you have no means of demonstrating that there is hardship that you are not getting the traffic, the business and I think that until that pharmacy is up and running and can demonstrate that they are not drawing in people because of the lack of signage, I think that we are premature.
Member Reinke inquired of Don Saven: How many businesses are going to be in that strip?
Don Saven: That will be subject to the tenants, and the space that each tenant will be leasing. Letís just say it will be more than 3. You would be thinking of a business identification sign?
Member Reinke: That is right. If we start giving a variance now on the first one and then we will run into where someone will come in and need this and without looking at the whole center and what is going to be needed I really am very reluctant to start doing this on a piecemeal process; because then we will end up with something that we donít like and doesnít look good.
Don Saven: I think that what this gentleman is trying to indicate right now is that he is on a corner and one side you are going to see and the other side you are not going to see.
Jeff Triplett: The other thing and I donít know if this matters, CVS owns the property of their store. They do not lease it. They own the footprint for their building; so they really have no rights to any other multi tenant exposure. They are located on a corner and I know that with your ordinance if they were a free standing entity it would allow this second sign. The only thing connecting this store to any other store is a 50 foot mutual wall on the east side of the store. Other than that they are essentially a free standing store and would normally be allowed this second sign.
Member Reinke: Until I could see what the whole program is, I am very reluctant to grant any variance.
Member Fannon: I would have to agree, I think it is a little premature to find out if the people up in that area are not going to know that there is a pharmacy on the corner. If the petitioner came in and said that they could prove that an average store has "x" amount of traffic and because of this sign we canít get the people in. I agree with Laverne, we could be setting ourselves up for one variance after another and then we would end up with a whole sign package that nobody supports.
Member Reinke: Even if it got down to the point where the center is getting completed, we can really see what the whole program is; then we could really look at everything a make a much better judgement. To jump ahead now and then find out that if we would have considered the whole package and we could put something together that would benefit you and make everyone in the community happy it would be better.
Jeff Triplett: I do have a site plan that shows the layout and the footprint of the whole thing.
Member Reinke: Until the building is finished and we know how many businesses that we are going to have there, you really donít know what you are going to need for signage.
Jeff Triplett: That is why that I mentioned the fact that CVS owns the footprint of their store and I am not sure that we should consider them inter-dependent with the other stores in the center.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: But you are still in the center.
Jeff Triplett: I understand that.
Moved by Member Harrington,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-079 TO DENY THE VARIANCE AS PRESENTED BY REASON OF INSUFFICIENT HARDSHIP.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-082 filed by Greenberg Farrow Architecture, representing Home Depot
Greenberg Farrow Architecture, representing Home Depot, is requesting a parking variance of 85 spaces to allow for the construction of Home Depot at Providence Park Place, located at Grand River and Beck Roads.
Joseph Galvin was present.
Joseph Galvin: I am here tonight on behalf of Providence Place and Home Depot. We are asking tonight for a parking variance which is illustrated on the board that I am showing you. Specifically the total red lined area of parking is what has been approved on our site plan for the Home Depot use. We are asking that the amount of parking which is 632 spaces be reduced by 85 spaces. We are asking that for 3 specific reasons. First, we believe that we meet the intent of the ordinance in that the number of parking spaces which are shown in yellow, 547 spaces, is what we would be required to have if the Home Depot use were a free standing use. That is the number of spaces which under the Zoning Ordinance has been determined to be the amount necessary for the use. The second reason is supported by the materials which we have given to you, which is a study which Home Depot has conducted. This is based upon their actual store usage. They have determined that approximately 467 spaces is what their maximum requirement is. When they negotiated as a business matter their leases, what they required their landlords to supply to them are 500 spaces. We exceed that amount by 47 spaces. The intent of the ordinance as exhibited by what we would be required to have if we were free standing use. The business requirements of Home Depot itself, are each less than what we are required to have. Those 2 reasons, the intent of the ordinance and the business necessity we believe create a practical difficulty.
Joseph Galvin: We have a particular layout problem at this particular property. The board that I am showing to you now is how this property could be laid out as a shopping center having precisely the same configuration of users that the Home Depot store, the Kroger store, and the retail uses which are to be built on the actual parcel. You will see that there is another triangular or almost triangular parcel which is totally unused in this configuration and you will see that this particular parcel of property is also not used. The actual layout is driven by the fact this area there and this area here are both not used in any of our plans. This area is devoted to a woodland preservation and open space area. This area is to be devoted to the future interchange. You will notice a couple of things with respect to our ability to layout the buildings which result from the land which is being allocated in these cases to those 2 at least quasi public uses. We are compelled to move the particular buildings around on the parcel, we are compelled to layout the parking in a particular fashion. We believe that these 3 facts about this property are practical difficulties unique to this parcel which justify the variance.
Joseph Galvin: On that basis we respectfully ask that we be given a variance of 85 spaces and they will be the spaces that are shown in pink which we will not build at this time in Phase I of this project and that we be allowed to build the project with the number of spaces which the ordinance allows a free standing use which our tenant Home Depot needs 47 more actually and which are actually compelled by the real organization of the parcel unique to it. For those reasons we ask that you grant the variance.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 10 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven had no comment.
Tamara Buswinka had no comment.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: What are you going to put in place of that parking?
Joseph Galvin: At this point nothing. In the future that parking may be used for the future development. Because of what is happening with these 2 portions of the property we are going to use the parking for this use as it is required.
Chairman Brennan: I will tell you what I like. I like the fact that you have maintained a woodland preservation open space. I believe and I trust that the future land for the intersection has some bearing on this request. I like the idea that we are avoiding 85 additional chunks of concrete. I live in that area and I will only need one of the parking spots out of that 547. I donít see and I am looking for something behind the lining here. Is there something, and I havenít heard it yet? I donít see why I canít say sure. It is more woodland, it is more green space and less concrete.
Member Harrington: Well, this happens to be one of those scenarios where Mr. Galvin has made a very compelling case for his clients and we are devoid of any information from anyone who would suggest that this might create a problem because that is not within the zone of our expertise. So we sort of have to fly with our instinct and what we see before us. What is the practical affect of cutting out 85 spaces in a high traffic retail shopping center area next to a major freeway interchange. Who knows?
Chairman Brennan: They have their own data that suggests that they donít need 632 spots.
Member Harrington: But then we have an ordinance. So, who knows. We have to deal with what we hear. I do have one question, do you have any specific knowledge or any of your representatives of the parking capacity at the 7 Mile and Haggerty Home Depot, which I am extremely familiar with and to whether or not that site was granted a variance or how many spaces there are down there?
Joseph Galvin: I do not know.
Vern Gufstason: Actually I was the Planning Consultant for the Northville Township at the time that project came through. The project did not receive a variance. However, parking has been banked for future use in the back. There is a number of spaces that were not installed and it was approved that way, just to see if the need would arise. As you know there are residential homes right behind it and there was obviously a concern to create a little bit better transition without having those parked cars back there. As of right now, I am not sure if they were installed. But, they had enough front field parking within that site to accommodate their needs.
Member Harrington; Do you happen to know how many spaces they have at that location?
Vern Gufstason: I donít know.
Joseph Galvin: Maybe Mike would know. This is Mike Klingl and he is shaking his head no that those other spaces were not done.
Mike Klingl: Those parking spaces were not required of us to install. I do not know the exact number at that store. I was not specifically involved with the approvals of that property. I know that it is one of the stores that you can see that the number of parking spaces out near the road that are never being utilized. So, even from the standpoint of what was installedÖÖ.
Member Harrington: To the contrary, the reason that I ask is that it is my regular Home Depot shopping spot and that is a specific situation where I think that another 85 spaces would be of a benefit not only to the store but the customers. That is the only reason that I asked, it has no control or bearing on here; but I think that at some point they are going to wish that they had not banked those spaces and had actually used them, 85 would make a difference at that location based upon what I see and what I know.
Chairman Brennan: Is that not, though, what you are doing with the pink area. You are banking those to see if you need those in the future?
Joseph Galvin: In effect, the area is available if it does prove necessary for the future; but we really and genuinely believe that based upon the statistical information that we have and based on the action of other stores that it wonít be necessary. As I indicated the hardship and the practical difficulty are caused by the layout and that is why we feel that we meet the criteria for a dimensional variance.
Chairman Brennan: At this point in time, is there any idea of when the future development might come to fruition? Is that to far down the road?
Joseph Galvin: No, we donít know. What we are trying to do is as rapidly as possible. We will be bringing plans into Don.
Member Fannon: I think that property really became unique with the Beck Road interchange, if that ever is built and then the woodlands. If there are 85 to few parking spots, I guess what happens when you drive in and canít park is that you will leave and either come back or go somewhere else. So, I donít think that the residents will feel any affect of that. With 550 spaces I donít know if you would want to go into the store if they were all full anyway.
Member Meyer: Or you might park in the Kroger parking lot.
Moved by Member Fannon,
Seconded by Member Reinke,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-082 TO APPR0VE THE VARIANCE AS REQUESTED DUE TO THE FACT THAT THERE IS A UNIQUE PIECE OF PROPERY BEING DRIVEN BY THE BECK ROAD INTERCHANGE PROPERTY BEING WITHHELD FROM THE SITE PLAN AND ALSO THE WOODLAND PRESERVATION OPEN SPACE ON THE WEST SIDE.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No.99-083 filed by Providence Hospital and Medical Center, representing Providence Park Place
Providence Hospital and Medical Center is requesting a variance from the interior building landscape requirements to install decorative paving and select locations of landscape planter areas to allow for the construction of Providence Park Place at Grand River and Beck Roads.
Joseph Galvin was present.
Joseph Galvin: I am here for Providence Place. What we are requesting here relates to the 4 foot requirement in your ordinance that there be grass planted on the frontage of the buildings in this particular district. The variance that we are asking for will allow us to do the plan that you see in front of you for the areas which are indicated in green, the Phase I of the shopping center. The request is asked because the location of a 4 foot grass belt in a shopping area of this type is inappropriate. The inappropriateness is confirmed by the fact that the Planning Commission and Ms. Linda Lemke each support the variance or the waiver that we are requesting. In truth the greenbelt requirement would be under an overhang and would be extraordinarily difficult to maintain, would be unattractive and in lieu of that what we are proposing to do is to use decorative paving throughout these areas to have niches where we have both trees and also other plantings attractively placed. The landscape plan which is embodied on these 2 diagrams has been presented to the commission and to Ms. Lemke and has been approved subject to the grant of this waiver. For immanent practical difficulties the application of an ordinance in an inappropriate spot and the fact that this is by far a better treatment for this particular shopping center we respectfully request that the variance be granted.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 10 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing approval. Copy in file.
There was no audience participation.
Don Saven had no comment.
Tamara Buswinka had no comment.
Member Meyer: I just want to say that I am going to find it hard to approve this because I believe that decorative paving is unattractive and that the green space itself is much more attractive and it will be less concrete or asphalt in our community. So you are going to have to do a real good job to sell me on this one, sir.
Member Reinke: I think that with what was presented here it is a practical way to look at this. I think that in having a 4 foot wide green strip you are going to look at bare ground, you are going to look at brown grass. It is not really going to be able to be maintained. I think that with the Planning Commissionís approval and especially with Linda Lemkeís approval I think that they are approving and suggesting it for that very reason itself. I think that this is probably something that is going to look the best and have the best year round accent to the area that you could possibly have. I agree in general with Mr. Meyer, but I think that in this application I donít think it will work. I donít think it will look good at all.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I donít believe that you are going to have people walking around.
Member Reinke: If you put a planter box there they will just walk around it.
Chairman Brennan: I put a lot of stock in Linda Lemke. If she has found that this is a more appropriate plan than what ordinance dictates. We should note that on the one side that does face the woodlands although there is another building that will go in there, is that correct?
Joseph Galvin: That is the rear of the Home Depot Building. The requirement is only in the front.
Chairman Brennan: We have woodlands in the back and the proposed Beck interchange on the other side.
Member Harrington: Well, it would seem implicit in a recommendation favorable to us that the spirit of the ordinance is being met and there must be some practical difficulties associated with it, or she would not have recommended approval.
Joseph Galvin: The overhang intrudes, it will make it extraordinarily difficult to maintain. It will become unattractive and it is not appropriate for this site.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-083 THAT THE VARIANCE REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO PLACEMENT AND BUILDING CONFIGURATIONS.
Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Meyer Motion Carried
Case No. 99-084 filed by Henry Kozlowski
Henry Kozlowski is requesting to remove and to rebuild a 14í x 24í rear yard addition to the existing home at 1635 West Lake Dr.
Henry Kozlowski was present and duly sworn.
Henry Kozlowski: I have an existing, what is called a sun porch, which is 14 by 24 feet. But it is only good when it is sunny. It is not good in the wintertime. Between the sun porch there is another wall; so what we are intending to do is to remove the wall so that we can extend the house 14 more feet so my wife can have bigger parties. I am asking for a variance and according to the City I need a 5 foot rear variance and 4 feet on the south and I need .7 on the north. It is an existing porch with a roof.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 35 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There were 2 written responses received, both voicing approval. Copies in file. Mr. Kozlowski also gave 2 approvals to the Chairman. Copies in file.
Paul Weindorf: My objection here is that the existing building that he is replacing, the new building is going to be exactly the same dimensions that the old building is. In your code that you cited here it talks about altered in a way which increases itís nonconformity. It is my point that what he is trying to do here is not increasing the nonconformity at this time. He is putting the same sized structure in the same location again. So therefore, I want the Board to consider that no variance is required in order for him to accomplish this. The reason that I would like to bring this up before the Board is because once you grant a variance to Hank and I donít have a problem with what he is doing here, but once you grant a variance to Hank then what it allows is for everyone else on the lake to go after and cite precedence for the same variance. So, that is my objection.
Chairman Brennan: Let me explain how the ZBA works. Number one there is no such thing as precedence. We hear every case and decide on every case on itsí merit. OK. With that said perhaps there are other members on the Board that wish to comment and clarify. His petition that is in front of us is for setback. He does not meet the setback requirements. Whether it was there 6 years ago or not, he wants to tear this down and put a new one up and he needs these 3 variances in order to accomplish this.
Paul Weindorf: Even if he is not increasing itís nonconformity?
Chairman Brennan: It is new construction. He is tearing it down and putting up new.
Don Saven: This was a porch, now he is going to habitable area and that is increasing it.
Chairman Brennan: Once he had to apply for a permit, they check the plans against what ordinance allows and this was red flagged and that is why he is here.
Henry Kozlowski: I havenít even go for a permit yet, I talked to Don and he told me not to bother until I got it straightened out.
Don Saven: Porches have allowable projections into rear yards which is up to 18 feet. Now, that it becomes an enclosure and a habitable area therefore it now comes under the same merits of the existing structure and therefore he needs the variances.
Member Meyer: Sir, the present room is a Florida room? So it is enclosed?
Henry Kozlowski: Yes, sir.
Member Meyer: You intend to tear this present one down and rebuild another Florida room?
Henry Kozlowski: Different roof style and different windows, but to make it so that it is a part of the house. There is a wall between which will come down and then there will be a beam that is put in to make it larger.
Chairman Brennan: I didnít read any of these approvals but the 2 that had made notes both references that it was an opportunity to again improve the neighborhood. Improve the lakes area.
Moved by Member Reinke,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-084 THE PETITIONERíS VARIANCE REQUEST BE GRANTED DUE TO IMPROVEMENT IN THE HOME, THE STRUCTURE AND LOT SIZE CONFIGURATION.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Case No. 99-086 filed by David Stewart, representing Northern Equities Group
David Steward of the Northern Equities Group is requesting a blanket variance to allow the development of Beck North Corporate Park as though it did not abut a residential district.
Neil Sossin was present and duly sworn.
Neil Sossin: We are here tonight before you to seek an interpretation of your zoning ordinance as it relates to section 200-9C of the Novi Zoning Ordinance and as it relates to Beck North Corporate Park.
Neil Sossin: Let me go back and give you a little bit of history as to why we are here now. We also own the property to the south of this which is also a light industrial park and worked in quite amount of detail, time and commitment with the City of Novi and their consultants through the period of late 1997 and early into 1998 to arrive at an agreement with the City which was called the Taft Road Development Agreement. It included Northern Equities Group donating to the City the right of way for Taft Road as it went over our parcels to the south and it also included approximately 12 additional easements that we granted to the City to allow the construction of the Taft Road extension and it included a number of other easements for utilities and other public types of improvements. In addition it also included a 50 foot wide wildlife/nature trail which is described on the exhibit on the wall and which you also previously received a copy; which circumvented the entire parcel of Beck North Corporate Park. The ordinance provided that we were providing the City with public ownership of this land. We worked with the City in this dedication of the property to the City. It has an estimated value of an excess of $800,000.00 and what we sought was the aspect of having the wildlife area be a sufficient buffer between Beck North Corporate Park and the residential areas that are located to the east of Beck North Corporate Park.
Neil Sossin: We are here before you tonight for your interpretation of that issue as it relates to paragraph 200.9C of the Zoning Ordinance which specifies that the limitations relative to this ordinance cannot be circumvented by separating a parcel from an adjacent or abutting use district by a parcel of land which is undevelopable because of itís size or accessibility. What we are standing before you and stating is that we worked with the City, we met with the City, we met with the Cityís consultants, we met with the Cityís legal counsel, we entered into an agreement under which the addition of a wildlife/trail to the City would act as a buffer between our property being developed as a light industrial park on the west and the residential land located on the east. There was never an act to circumvent since we were dealing with the City it seems very hard to argue that we could be circumventing and the fact that this land is being developed under your ordinance where under section 201 it indicates that a land is being developed if itís use as open land comes before the City as a new use; which now we were taking land that previously was zoned for light industrial and now is being deemed or replaced into a new use of a nature trail.
Neil Sossin: The first determination that we would like and would ask that you make is that you interpret this provision in the affirmative to us. If, however, you do not view that what we have stated is correct we would ask that you consider a variance to indicate that the fact that the nature trail does abut our industrial acts as a sufficient buffer such that the parcels that are being developed along the edge of the nature trail would be not subject to the issue of industrial abutting residential. We have attempted to explain the natural variances that are in existence on the property. We have several areas that have been laid out in a letter that was sent to the City describing the various areas under which the property has natural buffers and this is laid out and I donít mean to be redundant by going through this again; but we have many areas in through here to the north where there are large amounts of existing wetlands or natural woodland areas and that this would act as a sufficient buffer. In this area down in the number 6 area where the buffer is not as great, we have a problem here because of the topography being such that these properties are much, much higher than our parcel. In any circumstance for us to begin to put berms or to do things on the bottom on our site serves of no benefit and I have had conversations with the neighbors in the area under which we would put evergreen trees to allow for screening up on their property or possibly with the nature trail itself to allow for the screening to assist the neighbors so that they are not looking across into the park. Whether we have a building that is setback 100 feet under the normal abutting residential we are in a situation now where we would have 50 foot of setback because of the nature trail and another 20 feet under the normal ordinance provisions. So we are talking about a 30 foot difference here. Also the fact that because of this large topol area it may even serve to see less if the building were abutting the area here and were a little closer to the topol drop rather than further away. So I would ask again, that you consider the request for the interpretation and if that is interpretation is to the negative that you then review our proposal for a determination as outlined previously. Thank you.
Chairman Brennan indicated there was a total of 18 Notices sent to adjacent property owners. There was one written response received voicing objection. Copy in file.
Arnold Serlin: I am representative of Bristol Corners Subdivision, I am president of the homeowners association and I am also associated with the Novi Group, the developers.
Arnold Serlin: I would like to talk just about what the request is in front of the Board tonight. That is a variance from the ordinance. I have heard it used a number of times tonight and I guess you need to display a hardship for a variance. I havenít seen a hardship. I have studied their plans and I still donít see a hardship. They have 200 acres that they are developing and when they bought the property they knew exactly what they were buying and they knew exactly what the restrictions were, what the setbacks were, there is no hardship. But, be that as it may I think that the Board needs tonight not to address buffers, that is not what they are here for, they are here for a blanket variance to allow them to build closer to residential. Buffers can be discussed and correct me if I am wrong, Tamara, at the level of the Planning Commission if they see fit to grant variances for screening because of habitat or natural features or topography they have that right. I donít believe that it has to come to this Board; I may be wrong but I think that is the case. This is the wrong venue, I believe, to discuss buffers.
Arnold Serlin: With that in mind, letís talk about a couple of other things. First of all, I disagree completely with their interpretation as to what is developable. It is in the ordinance and I read the ordinance a little differently apparently than they do. Apparently they also read the ordinance a little different than the City Attorney does or the Planning Commission does, who determined that this was a circumvention of the ordinance.
Arnold Serlin: First of all, I would like to indicate that I donít believe that the nature trail and in my drawing the 50 foot buffer that they granted to the City, and I guess that I am a little surprised because of what I understand the reputation of these gentlemen is to be very sophisticated, good business men. If and I heard this earlier before, they are asking you to make a determination that the City entered an agreement with them that is not explicit in the agreement. There is nothing in the agreement that says that they were to be granted any variances, any relief from the requirements of setbacks, buffers, screens or whatever you want to call it, between their light industrial and our residential because they granted a 50 foot easement or 50 foot buffer strip or wildlife trail to the City and this City accepted it. I have a copy of the agreement and there is nothing in there that says a thing about any relief from any requirements of light industrial. Nothing. If it was to be a part of that agreement I would have thought that businessmen that have done this any number of times would have included in the agreement those issues that were important to them at the time because they become important now. It is not a part of the agreement. It was never a part of the agreement and I donít know whey they could now come back and say because they granted this easement or buffer that they are entitled to this. There is no discussion of it anyplace. I have talked to everybody in the City that I can think of to discuss this issue with them and nobody can remember and selective memory perhaps, I donít know, nobody can remember any discussion about any relief from the requirements of the zoning ordinance.
Arnold Serlin: Now letís talk about the definitions. He claims, Mr. Sossin claims, that by definition he has created a new use and therefore he is no longer adjacent to residential. Well his zoning didnít change Ė his zoning is still light industrial. The zoning has not changed. He gave the City the property. My contention is that the property is not developable because of this reason. First of all there is now access to it or the access is limited. It doesnít connect an open area to another open area. It is not a part of an ecological or environmental mapping of anything in this City. I have talked to Linda Lemke she said there is no identification of that strip with the exception of some small woodlands that are barely to the north of his property or the north end that are considered a part of a habitat or wildlife area or preservation area. It starts no place and it ends no place. In fact it ends at the property line which I believe is the property line between Novi and Wixom at his north corner.
Arnold Serlin: Now development by definition does say and I wonít read the whole thing it is short but it does say "the use of open land for a new use" and I contend this is not a new use. I contend that when he bought the property he had setbacks and when you look at the definition of setbacks it talks about minimum yards of front, side, rear, etc. that cannot be developed or built upon that are to be continued to be used as open space or as open land. I contend that the 50 feet that he gave to the City was 50 feet of setback that he doesnít have to have now. What he is asking you to say is " well that is fine, you gave us 50 feet and we will let you move closer", that is not true. He gave you nothing. He gave you 50 foot of setback that he cannot use period. He couldnít use it then, it had to maintained as open space; it is still maintained as open space. So I contend that there is no change of use of that property. It was always going to be open space and in particular in the area where there are woods and trees. It was going to be open space and there was no question about that. Look at the definitions that is what setback talks about.
Arnold Serlin: If there is some question about open space versus open land, there is a statement in the ordinance that says "terms herein and not identified, shall have the meaning customarily assigned to them", which means that I think that open space and open land are interchangeable.
Arnold Serlin: I donít want to talk about buffers but I will touch on it briefly. I would like to hand something out to you that is a little more definitive than what has been displayed here. (pass out given to Board)
Arnold Serlin: I have an aerial photograph of our area that shows super imposed on it both our subdivision and their proposed plan. Excuse the quality of the reproduction, but it is a photograph that was copied and it does make it a little difficult to read. If you can read the orange line between the 2 parcels; and what I did here to prove my point and to dispute Mr. Sossinís point, that is our subdivision as you see it on the right hand side. What you see is that 2/3rds of it is developed. The lower southern 38 lots have not been developed yet. There are 140 lots that are platted. Mr. Sossinís subdivision is on the left. Now lets point out for a minute, if I can, and you saw his drawing and I have reproduced it here, to the best of my ability I placed the numbers that he has had on his plan in front of you that he has shown you tonight of the wooded areas that he claims are buffers. This is the only thing that I want to talk to you about regarding buffers, because he talked about them. Those woods are not his woods. Those woods are my woods. Those woods belong to the apartments to the north of him. Those are my woods. Every single one of those numbers is on my property. What he is asking you is to consider a buffer that we preserved as part of an agreement in perpetuity to preserve that highly quality regulated woodlands. We did that at some expense to us. We bought the property knowing that there were woodlands on the property and we also bought the property knowing that there was light industrial next to us. We bought that property knowing that there was woodlands on the property and knowing that we were going to preserve it as much as we could. This was a compromise. This was an arrangement that we worked out with the Planning Commission, the woodlands people, Chris Pargoff at the time was in charge of that and he is no easy guy to deal with and I am sure that you know that. We sacrificed I would say 2 dozen lots for all the woodlands that we preserved on this site. You canít say to me "gee, you did a nice job of preserving the woodlands, Mr. Serlin and we are sorry that you lost 24 lots, Mr. Serlin but we think that we are going to grant your neighbor the ability to build closer to you because you provided the trees that he is calling his buffer", I am sorry that just doesnít work for me and it shouldnít work for you and it certainly doesnít work for him. Now I donít know if you have been out to the site or driven the site but you can see right through those trees and that is about all I want to do about touching on the buffers. These buffers are not his, they are mine. It is not my responsibility to protect me from him, it is his to protect him from me. I want you to understand that because I think that it is implicit in the ordinance.
Member Meyer: Before you put that away, you were talking about the orange lineÖÖ
Arnold Serlin: The orange line is the 50 foot buffer strip that they have dedicated to the City and the City has accepted. I want you to notice that in several areas it comes very close to our property. In fact in some areas we abut our property line with the backs of our lots. In particular in the south end there are absolutely no trees. If you have been out there your can see that, it is tough to drive back there because the roads arenít in yet but you can drive back there or walk back there and in fact you can see the open space from West Road. I have stood on those lots and I looked back towards West Road and I have pictures of standing virtually on the easement and you can see the traffic on West Road. There is nothing behind me, a few straggly trees that I know will come out.
Arnold Serlin: What they are doing besides the fact that they want to remove this buffer, there are other considerations that need to be taken into account when you review this. Those considerations are also a part of the light industrial ordinance. They donít talk just about buffers, they donít talk about screening, they talk about what you can build facing a residential area. Now if he is granted this variance considering that he is not adjacent to residential, that means that 20 feet away from the buffer line which would be 70 feet from our property he could put a 20 foot high building. If he doesnít want to put the building there, he can put loading docks, he can put trucks, he can put parking, he can put traffic; that is explicitly prohibited by the ordinance when it is adjacent to residential. You cannot have that facing residential. If you grant him the variance he has the right to do that, you canít qualify it, that is his right to do that. I object to that strenuously.
Arnold Serlin: Now they talk in one of their letters that one of his associates may have sent to the City about the money they have spent and the investment that they have made in that property; $50,000.00 in engineering fees, they have 18 months worth of effort. Well gentlemen, we have 10 times that much in engineering fees. We have 5 million dollars of in the ground construction. We have $25 million dollars worth of houses on our property. This isnít speculation, this isnít somebodyís plant, this is in the ground. You talk about an investment. That is the investment that I am trying to protect tonight. I would suggest that you consider that very seriously if that is a part of their argument and apparently it is because it was in one of their communications.
Arnold Serlin: There are a number of other issues that I would like to touch on very briefly and I think that the thing that you need to consider beside the fact that their expectation was that they were going to receive variances or they werenít going to be considered adjacent to residential. Their expectations, gentlemen, is not your obligation. Their expectations should have been itemized, identified and solved before they ever came here. They shouldnít even be before this Board for this, it is silly, ridiculous. They should have taken care of this long before.
Arnold Serlin: I donít know if I have much more to add to this other than, I am sure that you folks know what your responsibility is to this City and to the people who have invested in this City, to the people that are living in this City to protect their health, welfare, safety and comfort that would certainly be impinged upon if they are allowed this variance. If it is a variance; I donít know the hardship. I have said that before and I have heard that before tonight and I hope that becomes an issue here. They have 200 acres, they knew what they were buying when they bought the property, they knew what they were buying into when they bought the property. They knew what the setbacks were; there is no hardship. They have 200 acres, they might have to make a couple of lots smaller, that is fine. We lost 24 lots or more because of what we preserved on our property. I think that they should be given the same consideration as we are and as what we have done. We did it, they should be doing it as well. They didnít have to give that. Someone said that the City insisted, I canít find anybody in the City that says that they insisted on that wildlife trail. We gave preservation easements all through our property. We own property on both sides of West Road, we gave a preservation easement on the east side of West Road along Walled Lake so that no development would occur; it is an easement, we canít touch it any more than they could touch it if we gave it to the City. We didnít give it to the City, we did the same thing and accomplished the same goal. We have nothing to gain and nothing to lose, we gave what we gave because it was the right and proper thing to do. When you talk about good faith, our good faith is in your hands. Our good faith is depending upon the reliance and not the expectations that this ordinance provides for us to protect our residents, our development and the future of our development. I would be happy to answer any questions about anything that I said. Thank you.
Member Harrington: How may people are in your subdivision?
Arnold Serlin: There is 72 lots in the first sub and I think that 62 are sold and probably 52 are lived in now.
Brad Bach, I live on West Park Drive which abuts the property that is owned by Northern Equities. I think that Mr. Serlin did a very thorough job of pointing out all of the key interests that the residents would have as the existing property owners. I would just merely point out that when I looked at buying my parcel, which is just under 10 acres, I went down to the City and I read over all of the ordinances pertaining to residential that abuts industrial property. I read them very carefully and it was a lot of deliberation on my part as to whether I should proceed in buying residential that abuts industrial. Frankly, my feeling is that the property should more appropriately
have been zoned and constructed as multiple dwellings but that was not the zoning on it and we took into strong consideration the requirements of the code for this abutting property. It was really in light of the strength of the code that we decided to proceed and make the purchase and build our home there. So, to consider at this point, 8 years after we purchased our property the zoning ordinance has not changed the code has not changed, but we are asking or Mr. Sossin is asking you to basically sweep away all of the ordinance and all the code all in one decision; that we have based our decisions on for years. I think that is pretty self explanatory and it is pretty obvious that it would be an inappropriate action to take. I think it is stated pretty clearly in the public hearing notice that we were sent, it says "limitations may not be circumvented by separating the parcel from the adjacent or abutting use district by parcel or strip of land which is undevelopable because of itís size or accessibility". That to me is a clear statement right in the ordinance that you canít do what they are attempting to do. It is stated right on our ordinance that it is something and the way that I read it I think it is pretty obvious that it saying that what they are attempting to do is to circumvent the ordinance and that is spoken directly against in the code. One other point that I am interested in knowing and this is probably not where I would find the answer, but I would like to know that since that strip has been deeded to the City, who is going to be maintaining that strip? Who is going to be maintaining if there is an industrial park and there is probably be some garbage considerations that would be a part and if the wind is blowing out of the direction of the west, which it normally does, is it just going to take this 50 foot strip and fill it with garbage over the course of so many years as employees throw their litter out the window or what have you. I would say that the most important consideration that we are looking at it is the implicit nature of the code that prevents the things; and I donít want to be repetitious but it is so important for us as neighboring residents, to not have the concern over the truck traffic, over the lighting and the noise generated from the project that might go in there. I thank you for your time and encourage you to make the decision to not make this request.
Brooks Decker, I am a resident on West Park Drive. My property abuts the industrial zoned property that Mr. Sossin is proposing to develop. I am opposed to the issuance of a blanket variance if the issue is setbacks then the consideration should be limited and specifically stating the variance for just setbacks. The blanket variance would just be all to encompassing and could take into scope far mar issues than just setbacks.
Dana Howe, I live on West Park Drive. My property does not directly abut the property but it does directly abut the new development in the subdivision that Mr. Serlin has referred to. Very close to that property. Probably from my property I can see where that strip is that we are talking about. I am opposed to any blanket variance of any kind just on principle. We have no idea of what that would entail. We donít know what would be proposed. It wouldnít even need to be proposed if the blanket variance was allowed. We appreciate the fact that the 50 foot buffer was donated to the City, I guess. My neighbor Brad brought up some good points about that and what type of maintenance would be needed in the future for that. Mr. Sossin alluded to things that have been given to the City, the right of way for sewers and different things and all of that and as part of that development I would say and I am not sure that was a gift because anything that came through there was of benefit to that development. The Beck West, I believe we would be referring to, or the Taft Road extension; without that road the whole development was not feasible and there would be no development allowed unless that road had been built through there. So, what has been given to the City is probably nothing in return to the development that was made possible because of that. Not only do we have a problem with the site problem from the residential to the industrial, you also have the noise problem, we already have the railroad coming through there which the trains come through frequently day and night. I do hear them in the evening and in the night time I wake up and hear them. My neighbors have made allusions to the noise just from the railroad tracks and the development that we are talking about here is between the residential and the railroad tracks. So noise, I think, would be another important factor in this development. I think it is important that we do preserve the integrity of the residential subdivision that is going in, there is a substantial number of homes that will be built close to that industrial property; several of those lots will be backing up to the industrial. I think it is important that we preserve that for the future homeowners that will be moving into that area.
Don Saven: It was brought up earlier that we are here to deal with an interpretation regarding this particular matter. An interpretation was not applied for. This was strictly for an issue regarding a blanket variance. I was very specific about the application as it came in because I was concerned about that particular matter myself. Therefore, if you go to the application and also from what was indicated on the application regarding Mr. Stewartís letter.
Tamara Buswinka: I have no comment, but I will be happy to answer any questions.
Member Harrington: Is it the sense of the Board then, and I assume that we concur that we are dealing only the variance issue and we are not going to deal with an interpretation this evening and not having been properly noticed which would not preclude us from addressing that issue at some further point in time if the petitioner wishes to bring it.
Chairman Brennan: More specifically, we are addressing the applicantís request for a blanket variance, not just a variance. Yes, that is how I interpret this.
Member Meyer: I would just simply like to say that I teach my students every day at the academy where I teach that the basic question of life is "what is real?" and what is real here is that the request is "as though it did not abut a residential district"; well it does abut a residential district. That is the reality of the situation here. So, in my mind I think that the very fact that it does abut a residential district would indicate that there is no way that we can grant this variance.
Chairman Brennan: I think that Mr. Serlinís presentation was very strong. His case is very strong. I would not be interested in any variance request that impacts a residential community that already exists. This parcel, the Beck Road North, is on the drawing board and I see no reason and have heard no hardship that says that they canít meet ordinance.
Member Harrington: I have a couple of thoughts on this variance request. Number one, implicit in my rulings in cases that deal with this is that I view the City as having the same responsibilities in this community as any other citizen and the City is subject to the variances rules passed by the ordinance which are a matter of statutory authority by the State of Michigan. The fact that the City may have had some involvement in this confusion that is out there, has no relevance whatsoever to our decision. We are here to apply statutory criteria as to whether or not a variance should be granted. I am not influenced in any regard by what the representation of the Cityís acts may or may not have been. I am sure that the City may have a different version as to what has occurred. That is number one. Number two, I donít know that blanket variance finds itís way any where in the Novi Code and if it does and I donít recall ever seeing it, I certainly donít think that we have the power to grant a blanket variance where it changes in the statutory terms the essential character of the real estate that is involved. Nothing could be clearer that the door, if we grant this variance, would be open wide to a whole host of character changes which would not otherwise apply if this is a residential area. Third, it would appear to me that whatever this hardship may be certainly is self created to the extent that someone should have known better what the appropriate zoning was, or at least raised the question. I think that burden falls upon the petitioner who is in the position of seeking variance and seeking to develop, I think that is the petitionerís obligation. Finally there is no showing whatsoever any hardship here or even a suggestion that the parcel cannot be developed or used in such a form or such a fashion as to provide a reasonable return on the investment of the developers. It may not be the highest and best, but the affect of what we would be doing with a blanket variance is blanket rezoning. That is one thing for sure that we donít have the power to do is to re-zone a parcel. I think that is what we are invited to do and I think it is a very dangerous path for us to take and I donít think that we have the power to do it.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: I would agree with that 100%.
Chairman Brennan: I think that we have a sense, at least those who have made comment, that we are perhaps ready for a motion.
Moved by Member Meyer,
Seconded by Vice-Chairman Bauer,
THAT IN CASE NO. 99-086 THAT THE VARIANCE REQUEST BE DENIED, DUE TO A LACK OF HARDSHIP.
Discussion on motion:
Member Harrington: Mr. Meyer, I support your motion but I would request that your motion be amended to reflect the following additional reasons every one of which, in my mind, would be sufficient to deny the variance, not simply just hardship. THE EFFECT OF GRANTING THE VARIANCE WOULD BE TO AFFECT A RE-ZONING OF THE PARCEL, THAT THE HARDSHIP IS SELFCREATED, AND THERE IS NO DEMONSTRATION OR SHOWING THAT THE PROPERTY CANNOT OTHERWISE BE USED OR DEVELOPED.
Member Meyer: I am comfortable with that, and I would ask that it be included in the motion.
Vice-Chairman Bauer: Second.
Member Meyer: I have something to say after the vote.
Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried
Chairman Brennan: That concludes the items on our agenda. Are there any other matters that to discuss.
Member Meyer: What I was referring to, Mr. Chairman, is that it would seem that from our conversation here this evening that there were several or at least a couple of instances in which the City perhaps has mislead the developers. Whether it be a $800,000.00 piece or several millions as to what the City is indicating by way of negotiations in order to have these developers to come in and complete the development. So, I would hope that perhaps we would at least as a Zoning Board ask that the City would revisit itís process in which it discusses with the developers what can and cannot be done be it with signage or with regarding variances because I believe that several of the developers have been mislead, to believe that somehow this Board would automatically grant blanket variance on something that is so essential and that is namely that the residential people of this community should be coming first as far as their health, welfare, safety and comfort.
Member Harrington; Mr. Meyer, I join in your comment only to the limited extend that it is a matter of State law that we are the Board empowered by ordinance and statute to grant variances. The City of Novi is not empowered in any of itís administrative capacities, as I understand it, to grant variances. This is the Board, we make the calls and there may be City involvement; but that is what we are sitting here to do. The fact that we are appointed by City Council does not make us rubber stamp, our variances are not appealable to City Council; we are subject to appointment and removal by City Council at their convenience; but the next step of the appeal is the Circuit Court and not City Council. I believe that they know that and I would disagree with you to the extent that it is easy for unhappy applicants to say that the City said this and did this. I think that Judge Howard is $46 million worth of wrong and I think that the court of appeals is going to rule in the Cityís favor; but there is always two sides to every story. The City Administration and the City Officials may not be perfect they do the best job that that they can; so I donít know that they are running around misleading developers. I think developers quite often want to listen with the one ear which is going to tell them what they want to hear. That is only my thought.
Member Meyer: Mr. Chairman, I would certainly not want to go on the record as saying that I believe that this is something that is like a disease. I do think, though, that it is healthy and I am saying this because we are at a crossroad here in the City and it would be very healthy for this City to review itís method in which it deals with the developers. I am just simply stating that, I am in no way, shape or form trying to criticize, though, the good work that many of the people in this City are doing on behalf of this City.
Chairman Brennan: That is probably why we have a new Council.
Chairman Brennan: Any other comments? Discussion? Matters? If not, we will close the Meeting. Happy Holiday, see you next month. Our next meeting is January 4th.
The Meeting was adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
Date Approved - _
Nancy C. McKernan