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The Meeting was called to order at 7:34 p.m., with Chairman Harrington presiding.


PRESENT: Members Bauer, Brennan, Gronachan, Reinke and Sanghvi

Absent: Member Fannon (excused)

ALSO PRESENT: Don Saven – Building Official

Sarah Marchioni – Community Planning Assistant


The Zoning Board of Appeals is a hearing board empowered by the City Charter to hear appeals seeking variances from the application of the Novi Zoning Ordinance. It takes a vote of at least four members to approve a variance request and a vote of the majority of the members present to deny a variance. A full Board consists of six members. Since there are five members it is a full Board and any decisions made will be final.


Chairman Harrington indicated that there are four (4) cases on the agenda. Are there any changes to the agenda? Hearing none, all in favor to approve the agenda, please say aye. All ayes. Agenda approved as submitted.


Chairman Harrington indicated that there were minutes from the December 5, 2000 and January 9, 2001. Are there any changes or corrections to the minutes? Hearing none, all in favor say aye. All Ayes. Minutes approved as written.



  1. Case No. 00-107 filed by Anne Tulas of 1914 Austin Drive

Anne Tulas of 1914 Austin Drive is requesting a twenty-one (21) foot front yard variance for the construction of a porch roof. Please note: The porch roof replaced an existing unsafe front overhang.

Anne Tulas was present and duly sworn in.

Anne Tulas: I need the variance because I replaced an unsafe roof overhang going down my front steps last year in the summertime. The uniqueness of my property was there was never actually a thirty (30) foot variance. I live off of a dirt road and a lake behind. I believe the neighborhood was built in the thirties (30’s) and the majority of the homes were fairly close to the road. So in replacing the overhang, we infringed on the thirty (30) foot variance. I am asking for a twenty-one (21) foot variance to keep my front porch overhang. I believe it adds to the beauty of the home and to the neighborhood. I have heard nothing but good comments from my neighbors. I have not heard anything negative up until this point.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-six (26) notices sent to neighbors and there was one (1) approval and no disapprovals. Approval from Glenn Davis, 1988 Austin, who thinks the porch roof is a nice improvement to the house and good for the area.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: This is an existing structure. It has been on the lakeside for quite a few years. One of the things I would like to point out to the board is that the distance from the curvature of the road to the front porch is approximately fifteen (15) foot. There is an existing condition that already is in violation of the ordinance. The projection of the roof now is approximately five and three-quarters (5¾) or five and two-thirds (5 2/3) feet into that fifteen (15) foot. It is not enclosed. It is a porch cover. As indicated earlier, it is a replacement of an existing dilapidated porch.

Chairman Harrington: Is this an improvement?

Don Saven: Very much so.

Chairman Harrington: It is not a health or safety hazard?

Don Saven: No sir.

Member Brennan: It has been built already?

Anne Tulas: Yes. We are unclear of the requirements.

Member Brennan: You did not have a building permit?

Anne Tulas: No, we did not.

Chairman Harrington: In fact, the improvement is complete?

Anne Tulas: Yes.

Chairman Harrington: There would be no additional incursion or additional bearings needed?

Anne Tulas: Correct.

Chairman Harrington: What you need is permission to keep up what you already have up?

Anne Tulas: Correct.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,


Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried


  1. Case No. 00-106 filed by Intercity Neon representing First Federal Bank

Intercity Neon, representing First Federal of Michigan is requesting a sign variance for the front exterior of Kroger. Please note: The business does not have a separate direct entrance from outside the building.

  • The applicant is proposing a 20’ x 1.25’ (25 sq. ft.) wall sign located on the front exterior.

John Morris and Paul Gaggel was present and duly sworn in.

John Morris: I will let First Federal explain why they need the sign.

Paul Gaggel: The reason for our appeal is that we are a business within a business. We do not have the opportunity to have signage like Kroger, Home Depot or the other individual businesses. To help our business and let the community know that we are there to help provide a good service to them, we are asking for this sign.

John Morris: Kroger has allowed us to have twenty-five (25) square feet. That was our understanding when we came to this site. Twenty-five (25) feet is not a lot of signage as you know. If you saw our banner out there, it is pretty minuet. Even illuminated, it is minuet. We have a sign at another Kroger store and I do not feel it is invasive. When you get past the parking lot over there, you can barely see the sign at all, even illuminated. It does let people know, who are entering the parking lot for Kroger or Home Depot, that there is a bank at that location.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were two (2) notices sent to neighbors and there was no approvals and no disapprovals.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: If you could recall, when Kroger came before us with the signs, they were looking at four (4) signs and went down to two (2) signs. This was an issue that was going to come before us. We knew that this would take place with the bank. They do not have a separate entrance, it is all part of the Kroger store.

John Morris: That is correct.

Member Brennan: It seems like a reasonable request when the only way to get in is to go through Kroger.

Chairman Harrington: Just to be clear, the bank will be staffed by people? It is not an ATM?

Paul Gaggel: No, it is not an ATM. The bank will be staffed by people, seven (7) days a week.

Moved by Reinke,

Seconded by Bauer,


Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried

  1. Case No. 01-001 filed by Michael Kahm, representing Waltonwood at Twelve Oaks
  2. Michael Kahm, representing Waltonwood at Twelve Oaks is requesting a one (1) year extension of a previously approved development sign.

    Mike Kahm was present and duly sworn in.

    Mike Kahm: As you remember, I was here last month for the other signage. Due to my over site, the original sign on the ring road expired as of February 1, 2001. Since we are currently at a thirty percent (30%) occupancy rate, we still would like to request permission to continue that sign for marketing purposes until our building reaches closer to one hundred percent (100%) occupancy. Based on experience and other similar projects, we are projecting a hundred percent (100%) occupancy around July 2002. At this time, I am requesting an additional year extension on the sign.

    Chairman Harrington indicated that there were seven (7) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


    There was no audience participation.


    Don Saven: One of the issues that came up at the last meeting was the issue about the flags. Have they been removed?

    Mike Kahm: Yes, they have been removed. The delay was due to the change in the property managers. I apologize for the delay, but it has now been taken care of.

    Member Brennan: I think that we are typically supportive of extensions when they are at this range of percentage for build-out.

    Chairman Harrington: I concur. I do not think that another year or fourteen (14) months is unreasonable. I would not want to condition the sign until one hundred percent (100%) occupancy.

    Moved by Brennan,

    Seconded by Reinke,


    Roll Call: Yeas (6) Nays (0) Motion Carried

  3. Case No. 01-003 filed by Robert Cummings of 2117 West Lake Drive

Robert Cummings of 2117 West Lake Drive is requesting a fifteen (15) foot front yard setback variance for the construction of a new home. Please note: The property is a corner lot with two (2) front yards.

Robert Cummings was present and duly sworn in.

Robert Cummings: I would like to thank the board for their time and consideration this evening. I am here tonight to demonstrate why a variance should be granted at the corner of South Lake Court and West Lake Drive. The property size is one hundred thirteen (113) feet by one hundred fifty feet (150). I would like you to please note that the letters in red are neighborhood letters of support that have been included in the application. There was one (1) objection letter. I spoke to that individual this evening. The individual thought that this request was to have a true front yard setback. It is not a true front yard setback, I actually have a double front yard. We are actually dealing with the side yard setback. I think I turned that objection around because that person wanted to have all of the house parallel the street.

Chairman Harrington: Who is that person?

Robert Cummings: That person is Mrs. LeFletch, who is here tonight. I will let her speak for herself, but I think we cleared that objection. In the application, I have shown the origin of the property. In approximately the 1980’s, the road, that is known as South Lake Drive, back then was vacated and formed this new existing cul-de-sac. I have shown the legal of how that change occurred in the application. This is a pre-existing lot that lost land when the cul-de-sac was created. I have a very unique piece of property in the last area of Walled Lake to be developed. Little or no activity was one (1) of the reasons that South Lake Drive was vacated and today, that the same little or no activity existed in the cul-de-sac. This cul-de-sac, in the not too distant future, will also be vacated. It services no houses and has no function for either the city or its residents. Enclosed in the application are pictures of the surrounding area and the property. I would like to point out that the highlighted in pink, is the current required setback. In the yellow is the reasonable variance request. The lot is currently classified as a corner lot, but in practicality, it is not a corner lot. This is a type of lot that needs more lineal footage. The lot has one hundred thirteen (113) feet in width. This is far in excess than the current R-4 requirement. If we had a normal R-4 house at eighty (80) feet, the setback would be twenty-five (25) total. Distribute that how you would like in size. Eighty (80) minus twenty-five (25) is fifty-five (55) feet to build on. This house is one hundred thirteen (113) feet, with forty (40) feet to build on. I would also like to point out that in the Novi Code of Ordinances, under sections 2502 under non conforming lots, it states that if two (2) lots are owned in contiguous ownership, a front may have sixty (60) feet. In that scenario, sixty (60) minus the thirty (30) and the ten (10), which are the current required setbacks, would be twenty (20) feet. That is why the best option for this property is to have one (1) house on it, because that best suits the neighborhood. I think this is best illustrated in the elevations that I have shown in the application. The current house and garage are in decay. It would not be productive to the neighbor to rebuild or remodel. By building a new home, would enhance the area and would add much greater value to the homes on West Lake Drive. My first elevation shows a home that is built short in width, long in depth and high in stature. It creates what is called the "barn effect", which a lot of people do not like. It is very aesthetically not pleasing. In viewing the elevation with the variance, the house could be best laid out utilizing the property. If the current house is torn down, there will be more space between the new house and the neighbor to the north. The extra fifteen (15) feet will allow for a new home to have proper windows, three (3) car garage and a proper door look. Thus, creating a much better visual enhancement for the neighborhood. Also, enclosed is a letter from JCK & Associates that says that the home, with the variance request, meets the requirements of the similar/dissimilar ordinance. West Lake Drive is the last area of Walled Lake to be developed. There is a high percentage of the homes that are on the street that are in decay. As you travel down South Lake Court, this is the main vein coming from the City of Novi to the lake and West Lake Drive. This is the first house you see and it will leave the first impression. A new home, done correctly, will enhance and beautify the neighborhood. It will also add the value to the neighborhood, the property and the city. Hopefully it will begin the revitalization for this street. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chairman Harrington indicated that there were twenty-four (24) notices sent to neighbors and there were three (3) approvals and two (2) disapprovals. The approvals – Mr. Hagar, Mr. Gaynatic and Mr. Serlin. The objections – Mrs. LeFlech (withdrew objection) and Jane Summers, 2115 West Lake believes the setback should stay as is. New construction and new housing can fit within the existing configuration, etc…


Greg Gaynatic, 2023 West Lake Drive: I would like to let you know that I support the variance request of Mr. Cummings. In previous variances that have been granted in that neighborhood are not out of line for what he is asking for. This is a neglected part of Novi that greatly needs new construction and the plans that he is proposing would help a disparate area of the city that really needs help.

Jane Summers, resides next door from Mr. Cummings: I have resided next door to Mr. Cummings for several years now. According to the letter that we received from Novi, it indicated that the variance would be on the front. To my indication that would be the lake front. I spoke to Mr. Cummings about this situation. When I talked to him before about his request to build a new home, he said that it was on the road side of the property that he was requesting a variance. I told him, at that time, that I felt it was between he and Novi, since it is Novi that set the agenda for the thirty (30) foot variance. It does not interfere with my side, because I am on the far side of his home. He has stated that it would in no way infringe on me. These are older homes and a lot of us have been long time residents. These homes are on narrow lots, usually thirty-five (35) feet. The houses are so close together in the new construction, that we have to watch for fires. There have been five (5) fires in the neighborhood since I have lived there. Mr. Cummings has said that he would be no closer to me than he already is. He has said that there is plenty of room between his desired residence and mine. But, according to your notice, it appeared that the variance request is on the front, which would be the lake property. Our properties are not built from road to lake, they are angled. Any construction forward toward to the lake could afflict adjoining properties. He said that if he did not have the variance on the side, he will build one (1) of those barn houses, because he could not go width wise. I think it is Novi that is so strict on the road variances. It depends on what the city would allow. I spoke to Mr. Morrone regarding the cul-de-sac road. At one time, South Lake Court was the main road. I asked when it would be open, because the property was sold. He assured me that there was no intention of opening that dead end road at the present time. I do not know the future. I would like to know Novi’s feeling of what they will allow for this variance. How serious is this? Is it necessary to have that extra footage for his purposes?


Don Saven: I can understand how Mrs. Summers could become confused in regard to that issue, because it is considered a corner lot there are two (2) frontages, just as it would be with any other corner lot in the City of Novi. It would not be considered an interior side yard because it fronts on the road. This is where Mr. Cummings was penalized for this particular issue. A couple of things I would like to reiterate is that we have an opportunity to take care of some non conforming issues by this variance. Such as getting rid of the garage and the existing house located within that required set back. He does have the frontage there, but it is difficult when you have the right-of-way that you have to contend with, the ditch and the other issues associated with this. This cul-de-sac was arranged in 1980. It used to be a road around the lake, it was South Lake Drive. There were issues that I had concerning flood plain. He is not in the flood plain. There was enough property, but it seemed like it was getting minimized as we were going along.

Member Reinke: I agree with Mr. Saven comments, especially to get the garage off of the road. There are two (2) lots, when combined together, give him adequate room and space to keep things back as far as possible. I have no problem supporting the petitioner’s request.

Member Brennan: In all of the information presented, I could not find what the square footage of this new house is?

Mr. Cummings: The size of the house is a little over four thousand (4000) square feet.

Member Brennan: The frontage on South Lake is how many feet?

Mr. Cummings: One hundred thirteen (113) feet.

Member Brennan: On West?

Mr. Cummings: One hundred fifty (150) feet.

Member Brennan: My thought and my notes question if this is too big of a house for this property? I think the petitioner answered this question. This is a brand new house on two (2) lots and I do not understand why you can not meet the ordinance. Granted some of the points he made, but I wonder if his case is a self created hardship by virtue of the type of house that he wants.

Member Reinke: I considered the same thoughts of Member Brennan. If there was another lot next door, he would not be here, he would be able to meet the ordinance. That was my determination to support the motion.

Member Brennan: What relevance does that hold? He has to deal with the property he owns.

Member Reinke: I understand that, but there will never be anything on the other side of his property. The problem he has, is that he has property classified as a corner lot. He would not be overbuilt if he was an individual lot. Since there will never be anything next door to him, or a roadway there, I am looking at treating this as an individual lot. If you treat it as an individual lot, he is within the ordinance.

Member Sanghvi: It is really not a corner lot in the true sense of the word. What is immediately west of your property?

Mr. Cummings: Immediately west of the property is this area.

Member Sanghvi: What happens to your property line on the south side?

Mr. Cummings: The property line was here on the south side, begins a cul-de-sac that was created.

Member Sanghvi: There is no place to bring anything else on the south side of your property at all?

Mr. Cummings: According to all the plans, Bristol Corners owns all of this here. They have no intentions in any phase of their project to build anything within five hundred (500) or one thousand (1000) yards close to that. There will be no other potential buildings there. I agree with you before, that this is potentially classified as a corner lot, but, from a practical standpoint, it is not a corner lot. Mr. Brennan, the average size of a lot on this street is thirty (30) to forty (40) feet. If you cram a house on this lot, there will be the barn affect creating a negative look. If you do this correctly and can space out, you will have an aesthetically pleasing house. This will add character, value to the city and the land. The topography to this house without the variance will put this house greatly disproportional to the north. It would leave a huge gap here if it is not laid out correctly. That huge gap will leave it looking non aesthetically. It can be laid out correctly on the property with the variance. A side note, when that open piece of property happens, this is the first thing that you see go into the city. From the city, this is the main vein of the road. My point is that this is an invitation for outsiders. Hopefully, this would start revitalization to the area. If not, people think this is an open area to gather. All of the neighbors present would point that out. I have had people try to dock their boats there. They have lit off fireworks there. It is not concealed as a place for loiters. I am pointing out the uniqueness of the size of the lot to have the house positioned correctly.

Member Brennan: Mr. Saven, are you familiar at all with what the cities plans are for that cul-de-sac?

Don Saven: I am not sure what Mr. Serlin is going to do. That is into his property in that area. It is also the City of Novi right-of-way. As it exists now, it is part of the right-of-way.

Mr. Cummings: I have spoken with Mr. Serlin, Mr. Jacobson, who owned this. I have had a dozen conversations with them over the course of time that I have lived here. Their intention will be to support a vacation of this in the future. The reason for this, is they have a private access boardwalk that is a ½ mile to the west of there. If you are owning a home there, you would like to see just the residents use that. This is an opening for persons, maybe not living at Bristol Corners to go to their boardwalk. I have spoken with them and his intention is to support when it is the right time for his building, for that to be vacated. I have spoken with some people at the city and they would like to see it vacated. It serves no function for them. They do not really want to clean and maintain it. I have heard that from persons in the correct parts of the city.

Member Gronachan: I voice the same concerns of Member Brennan regarding the size of the house to verify exactly where the hardship is at this point? I know that I am new, but I have come to the same conclusion. I would like to see the area improved. I can understand the concerns about the exposures, but my question is "Can this house be moved further or does it have to be exactly where it is?"

Don Saven: I believe by his dimensions, he is limited to that particular location.

Member Brennan: Why can’t you build a colonial style home without that fifteen (15) foot variance? Because you suggested that all you can build is a single-story row house?

Mr. Cummings: If you lay out a three (3) car garage with proper windows and a front door, it becomes crammed in the width. The extra variance, which is fifteen (15) feet, allows a very nice layout. It offers a layout that gives a better idea for the viewing of the lake. It also offers again, this to be situated more evenly on the property.

Chairman Harrington: Mr. Cummings, I support your variance request. The reason is because this is a clear case of substance over form. The actual form of the ordinance and the legal layout, including side roads or side yards that are not really there, suggest to me that we should look at the substance of what you are trying to do. The substance is, if there was another house there you would not be here before us. It is simply the unique configuration of our ordinance, which present your practical difficulty that you can not develop this property the way you want to. Some of the resistance you may be picking up on this evening, is appropriate, because the board historically does not like to grant variances for new construction, figuring that new construction should be able to work with what is there. On the other hand, it looks like you are demoing in part and you are making the best of what is a "poor situation". I am going to support your request.

Member Reinke: If someone is going to build a home there that size, whether it be a high in line home or the one he is representing to build, there is going to be whether he needs a variance or not. Since there is not anything, and it looks like there will not be anything next to it, I treat it as an individual lot by itself. As an individual lot by itself, you could meet the ordinance.

Moved by Reinke,

Seconded by Bauer,


Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (1) Motion Carried



Mr. Cummings: Mr. Chairman, I wanted to request an extension of ninety (90) days for all of the unique instances, that Mr. Saven and Mr. Morrone mentioned, that I will need to handle for getting certain criteria to them. It may take longer than ninety (90) days.

Chairman Harrington: How much longer?

Mr. Cummings: I would like to request an extension of ninety (90) days.

Chairman Harrington: Which would give you a total of how long?

Mr. Cummings: It would be a six (6) month total.

Chairman Harrington: Don, do we have the discretion to give that extension?

Don Saven: Normally it would be a ninety (90) day requirement, which is part of that extension requirement that we have as part of our approval process for ZBA. The engineering conditions that he is dealing with, we would like to make sure they are part of the building structure.

Chairman Harrington: We have the authority to do that?

Don Saven: Yes.

Chairman Harrington: Board members, there has been a request to give him a total of one hundred eighty (180) days rather than the typical ninety (90) days. If there any objection to that?

All in favor say Aye. All ayes.


  1. Re-hearing correspondence
  2. The Board received a draft copy of an Ordinance Amendment that would validate the procedure that they have been using regarding re-hearings. The Board asked Don Saven if it could go straight to Council or if it would have to go to Ordinance Review Committee? The Board also asked him to check the existing Ordinance for any differences.

    Chairman Harrington: Not noticed under matters, however, is the correspondence from Mr. Schultz who with Mr. Fisher, spoke to the ZBA and the Planning Commission. There has been a request from the Chair and the Board, a draft of an ordinance, which would validate the procedure we have been using regarding re-hearings. I have looked at the ordinance draft by Mr. Schultz, I think he has done a terrific job. It meets what we have asked him to do. When I received a copy yesterday, I sent an e-mail back saying "go for it, get it implemented etc…" Don is there a procedure or can it just be submitted to Council?

    Don Saven: It may be just submitted to Council. This is a legal matter and it needs to be addressed. I think based on that provision, I think it goes right to City Council. I will check to make certain.

    Member Bauer: What difference is this one over the one that we already have?

    Chairman Harrington: The ordinance itself, I recall from Mr. Schultz when he first spoke to us, we have in our rules of procedure, the procedure for re-hearing. It is my understanding that the ordinance does not provide specifically for a motion for a re-hearing. This allows us to do what we have been doing.

    Member Bauer: The ordinance does already do this. Am I correct?

    Don Saven: Yes, I think you are correct to the extent of what could be considered a re-hearing.

    Member Bauer: What does this say to new evidence?

    Chairman Harrington: I do not know that Mr. Schultz actually tried to "dove tail" this to the actual rule of our procedure. The rule of procedure may have been a little more specific with respect to new evidence. Perhaps he would like to consider that with the timely comment of Member Bauer to ensure that we are not doing something that does not need to be done. I would assume in spirit, that the board still supports that we should have the power in the ordinance to grant re-hearings, pursuant to our own rules as we had discussed earlier.


  3. Elections of officers
  4. Don Saven informed the Board that election of officers would take place next month with a full Board.

    Don Saven: We have elections next month.

  5. Introduction of Cindy Gronachan

Chairman Harrington: I am delighted to welcome Cindy Gronachan to the board.

4) Home Video

Sarah Marchioni informed the Board that the applicant had withdrawn their application and the materials could be thrown away.

Ms. Marchioni: Home Video has withdrawn their application, you can throw out all of their materials.

5) Council interviews for new appointment

Sarah Marchioni informed the Board that Council would be doing interviews on the 12th of February and appointments would be made on the 26th of February.

Ms. Marchioni: Council is having interviews on the 12th. We should know by the 26th of February who the appointments are.

6) New planning director

Sarah Marchioni informed the Board that the Planning Department would soon have a new planning director and information was provided on the table.

Sarah Marchioni: We have a new Planning Director starting March 19, 2001. His resume and information are on the table.

Member Sanghvi: I wanted to inform the committee that I will not be at the next ZBA meeting as I will be out of town.

The Meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m.




Sarah Marchioni

Community Planning Assistant

Transcribed by: Christine Otsuji

February 23, 2001

Date Approved: March 6, 2001