View Agenda for this meeting
View Action Summary for this meeting

TUESDAY, March 6, 2001

The Meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m., with Vice-Chair Fannon presiding.


PRESENT: Members Bauer, Brennan, Fannon, Gray, Gronachan and Reinke

Absent: Member Sanghvi (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 six (6) members it is a full Board and any decisions made will be final.


Member Fannon announced that there are eleven (11) 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 subject to modification.


Member Fannon indicated that there are minutes from the February 6, 2000. Are there any changes or corrections to the minutes? Hearing none, all in favor say aye. All Ayes. Minutes approved as written.


Don Saven: Regarding Case No. 01-016, as you are aware, the board has a policy in regards to ensure the mock up signs are here. At this particular time, we have a bit of a problem and I would like this gentleman to indicate his concerns.

John Bernard: My name is John Bernard. I am technically representing Heileman Signs & Willis Insurance Company for the ZBA Case No. 01-016. There was a mix up on the mock up sign. We would like to postpone the meeting with you until the next meeting. We will have the mock up sign for sure so that you can look at it.

Member Fannon: Are there any objections from the board to table this for one meeting? No objections.

Case No. 01-002 filed by Andrea O’Donnell of 21763 Picadilly Circle

Andrea O’Donnell of 21763 Picadilly Circle is requesting a four (4) foot rear yard setback variance for the construction of a screened porch enclosure on an existing deck.

Required front yard setback: 35 feet

Proposed: 31 feet

Variance: 4 feet

John O’Donnell was present and duly sworn in.

John O’Donnell: I am the husband of Andrea O’Donnell. We constructed a deck on the back of a new property in Chase Farms when the property was built. We are requesting to put a roof structure over that for a screened in porch. It is not a year-round structure. It is a seasonal structure. It has a gabled roof and it will be painted the same as the house.

Member Fannon: You are asking for this variance so that you could construct a screen porch enclosure on a deck that already exists?

John O’Donnell: Yes sir. There is a four (4) foot difference that we are requesting.

Member Fannon indicated that there were thirty-five (35) notices sent to neighbors and there was one (1) approval and no disapprovals. Approval – Craig Duffy, 21874 Picadilly Circle: "It is okay with us." Member Fannon indicated he had received a letter from the Chase Farm Homeowner Association, stating they did not object to the variance as it relates to the Chase Farm deed restrictions.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: As Mr. O’Donnell indicated earlier, this enclosure will be on the existing deck and will not be projecting beyond that point.

Member Brennan: This is in line with similar variances that we have granted. It is a nominal encroachment into the setback of four (4) feet. I do not have any objections to this. He does have approval from the Homeowner Association and not residential disinterest.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,


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

Case No. 01-004 filed by American Sign Shop representing Novi Research Park

American Sign Shop representing Novi Research Park is requesting an extension of a previously approved development sign.

Peter Noonan was present and duly sworn in.

Peter Noonan: I am an agent for Talon, we are the brokers for the property with Bailey Schmidt. I was hoping to meet Jack Kemp here. He must have been delayed. I apologize and I am ready to proceed.

Member Fannon: You have an existing sign that you are requesting an extension?

Peter Noonan: Yes, I do. The project has seven thousand (7,000) square feet remaining in the park. We had hoped that the square footage would have been leased by now. We are probably pretty close by now. Our sign is in conjunction with the developer’s sign as well. There is some final construction going on, but we have run out of time and we need the extension to clear finish things up.

Member Fannon: How long has the existing sign been up?

Peter Noonan: I believe nine (9) months.

Member Fannon: How much more time do you think you need?

Peter Noonan: Three (3) or four (4) at the maximum.

Member Fannon indicated that there were six (6) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


There was no audience participation.


Member Brennan: How much is left to lease out?

Peter Noonan: Seventy-six hundred and twenty-four (7,624) square feet. We have a proposed lot on it right now.

Member Brennan: If he would like three (3) months, that is fairly modest.

Member Bauer: Or until leased.

Member Brennan: If you were to lease it in the next couple of weeks, you would take it down, correct?

Peter Noonan: Correct.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Bauer,


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


Don Saven: Could you please clarify the motion of the three (3) months or the such time it is leased? This means that he could possibly have more than three (3) months.

Peter Noonan: A maximum of six (6)?

Member Brennan: No, it is three (3) months.

Member Fannon: It should be only three (3) months, it is a lot simpler.


Member Brennan: I amend my motion to three (3) months.

Case No. 01-005 filed by Lawrence Wesson 305 Maudlin

Lawrence Wesson of 305 Maudlin is requesting a variance to allow the continued placement of a fence constructed within the front setback requirements of his property.

Lawrence Wesson was present and duly sworn in.

Lawrence Wesson: As I have covered in my cover letter, I have been living in Novi since 1957 and my present address since 1963. I think I have followed everyone’s rules and regulations. I went through the Novi Fence Company and had the fence put up. I went to the building department to get a permit and there was no permit. Nobody ever mentioned an ordinance, neither the fence company nor the Building Department. I put it up to protect my property and my neighbor’s property because we were getting over run by ATVs. In fact Novi came out last week and took one of them off the street, which it is about time. I would be more than happy to answer any of your questions. I think I did what was legal. I was a Deputy Sheriff and I just retired, because I am physically disabled. I am not used to being charged with a misdemeanor. That is very unusual for me after thirty-two (32) years.

Member Fannon: You are requesting the ZBA to grant a variance for the fence as it currently exists today?

Lawrence Wesson: Yes.

Member Fannon indicated that there were twenty-three (23) notices sent to neighbors and there were two (2) approvals, no disapprovals and two (2) returns. Approvals: Mr. Roberts Swenson wrote in his opinion it would add value, duty, and protection to all of the property. Mr. Josephson wrote that it was professionally installed and in my opinion it is one of the best things to happen at this end of the neighborhood.


Jim Korte, Shawood Lake: This is the biggest joke on the face of the earth. A hundred (100) feet from this property, I can not get stones removed from the city road right-of-way. A man has a fence on a deeded lot line and I do understand, because he is being a gentleman, that he has been in court three (3) times on this. The cheaper way out, is to come to you to have it legal. The fence is in nobody’s way. The fence is on a deeded lot line and some of the problems have risen because a little stupid piece of property that was vacated by City Council. That is a little stupid piece of property that the City had that the property always had access to. What we are dealing with, in this situation is total stupidity. Most of you know that I have come here and said that many times. It is on the deeded lot line. Everyone that drove through would understand that it is a joke. Please approve and let the man go home and get it over with. Thank you.


Don Saven: The fence is located within the front yard.

Member Fannon: It is not the height of the fence? It is just the location of the fence?

Don Saven: It is just the location of the fence.

Member Gray: Mr. Chairman, I would like to request to be excused from voting on this issue because I am a neighbor of Mr. Wesson’s. However, I would like to participate in the discussion. I do believe when the City vacated the spur of Maudlin Street that went nowhere, it created the hardship. I am personally reminded that there have been cases before the board and I do realize that every case is judged on its own merit. For example, the house at the end of Thirteen Mile and Meadowbrook Road, when the right-of-way was donated to the City, the hardship was created by donating the easement and then they came before the board to build their garage. They were unable to observe the setbacks. Nobody travels in this area. I know for twenty (20) years, how Mr. and Mrs. Wesson have fought trespassers on their property. I really feel that this hardship was created by the City vacating the spur of the road. I would respectfully request that you allow me to abstain from voting, but I wanted to have my comments on record.

Member Brennan: As I read through this case, I found Mr. Wesson did a fine job pulling this together. I often tell the Council when I am up for reappointment that I think that this board needs to have compassion and sometimes we should do the right thing, because it is the right thing. If we have to find a reason to meet the ordinance, to grant a variance we will figure out something. I think you have been within your right to protect your property. I looked at your property the other day and I can see why you had some problems there. I can support your request.

Member Reinke: Mr. Wesson has a unique situation and location. It is an area that would be prone for ATVs and snowmobiles trespassing through. The fence is about the only detriment that he has to stop this and the promotion of additional activities. If one (1) goes through, twenty-five (25) go through. In this situation and his location I think he needs the fence he has there. I can support the petitioner’s request.

Member Bauer: I think you did a good job protecting your property.

Member Gronachan: I can appreciate the frustration that the petitioner has. I support his request also.

Moved by Reinke,

Seconded by Bauer,


Roll Call: Yeas (5) Nays (0) Motion Carried

Abstained, Member Gray

Case No. 01-006 filed by G.A.V. & Associates representing Suntec Corporation

G.A.V. & Associates representing Suntec Corporation is requesting a variance to allow parking within a front yard for property less than two (2) acres for the construction of a single story Light Industrial District building located in the Beck North Corporate Industrial Park on 1.86 acres of property.

Al Valentine was present and duly sworn in.

Al Valentine: We have a proposed Light Industrial building. Suntec purchased this lot with the intention of using the corner as a focal point of the development. We are designed to have the corner entrance with customer parking in front, to allow easy access to the entrance. Due to the ordinance, we are fifteen one hundreds (.15) of an acre shy of allowing parking in the front yard, beyond the front setback, between the building wall and the front setback. Being on a corner lot, we could not park here per the ordinance. We could only park in the back or possibly here. This space is reserved for possible future expansion at a later date if all goes well. According to the ordinance, only Industrial and OSC zoning types do not allow this is. Being Light Industrial located in a park, we are set in our own atmosphere. Nobody would see the parking except those coming into the park of similar use. The property is not near residential. This is one of the reasons that I do not understand the ordinance not allowing the parking in the front of the building for any parcel less than two (2) acres. We have a three (3) foot high berm along here with deciduous and evergreen trees. It would be very difficult to see the parking from the road. We are requesting a variance to keep the customer parking in the front. We do not want the customers to have to walk around the building to get to the entrance. We do not feel this is good for business.

Member Fannon indicated that there were two (2) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: I would like to indicate to the board the response from the Planning Commission and also from Rod Arroyo, Planning and Traffic Consultant that was included in your packet. If you could note the minutes from the Planning Commission, there was an indication that they looked favorable upon the variance that is being presented tonight. It is a small parcel relative to what this gentleman would like to do. I ask that you take into consideration that this is a corner lot.

Member Fannon: If this were two (2) acres, you would not need a variance. Your property is 1.86 acres?

Al Valentine: Correct.

Member Brennan: In the minutes, Mr. Arroyo stated the building could meet ordinance if it was shifted forward. I questioned why you would not want to shift the building to meet the ordinance. However, now I understand that you would not want your customers to have to park in the back of the building and have to walk up to the front. That makes sense.

Member Gray: When I was looking at the request, I initially wondered why the site to the west could not be used. However, now I understand that it is for potential expansion. Corner lots are difficult, whether they are residential or commercial. I think this meets the intent. Since the site is only short of the two (2) acres by a small amount, I think it deserves special consideration.

Member Fannon: You have done a nice job landscaping to block the view of the parking.

Moved by Gray,

Seconded by Brennan,


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



Case No. 01-007 filed by David Tarantino of 43536 Galway

David Tarantino of 43536 Galway is requesting a variance to allow construction of a second floor addition to his home. Please note: The home is presently a legal non-conforming structure located on a corner lot with the addition to be constructed over the garage.

Required front yard setback: 30 feet

Proposed: 13.87 feet

Variance: 16.13 feet

David Tarantino was present and duly sworn in.

David Tarantino: Our existing house was built in 1970. The garage was built within the thirty (30) feet on the side, on the setback. We are looking to put an addition on the house with a bedroom over the garage. We are requesting a variance for building over the garage to expand a non-conforming structure.

Member Fannon: What is the reason that you need this variance?

David Tarantino: The reason that we need this variance is the uniqueness of our property. There are only so many places that we can build this addition. We can not build on the front or on the side. Part of the expansion is onto the back, but with the construction of the back, we would have to go further back to add a bedroom. The property would look awkward if we were to do this. We think that it would fit better over the garage as opposed to making a long extended section on the back of our home.

Member Fannon: I would like to bring to the Board’s and public’s attention that the petitioner’s plans have been reviewed and approved by the President of the Westridge Downs Homeowner Association.

Member Fannon indicated that there were thirty-three (33) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


James Korte, Shawood Lake: Most legal non-conforming is at the north end. Most of that happens because we were subdivided before 1920. If what I read here is no change to the footprints, then as I have said many times, the only way to go is up. Understanding that can present structural problems, but if there is no difference in footprint and the house has sat for "X" number of years, then if you need more space, the only way to go is up. If the footprint is not being increased, then I think we are somewhat obligated to deal with the situation. Thank you.


Member Brennan: Is the variance that you are requesting on the side of the proposed addition facing westward?

David Tarantino: Yes. It says the front of the yard, but it is actually the side street.

Member Reinke: As Mr. Korte mentioned, this is not increasing the footprints, it is going straight up. I do not have any problem with the petitioner’s request. I feel it is a reasonable request. It is not intruding into the side yard any further than what is existing there.


Moved by Reinke,

Seconded by Bauer,


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

Case No. 01-009 filed by Linda & John Anderson of 207 Charlotte

Linda & John Anderson are requesting a front and side yard variance to allow for the construction of a new home located at 207 Charlotte.

Required front yard setback: 30 feet

Proposed: 20 feet

Variance: 10 feet

Required side yard setback: 10 feet

Proposed: 5 feet

Variance: 5 feet

John Anderson was present and duly sworn in.

John Anderson: I bought a lot forty (40) feet wide in the front and eighty-five (85) feet deep. After looking through house plans I found a decent size house that I could build on the lot, thirty by twenty-two (30 X 22). However, the City Code permits twenty by twenty (20 X 20) without a variance. I need a two (2) foot side yard variance and a ten (10) foot front yard variance.

Member Fannon: How wide is the size of the home that you are proposing to construct?

John Anderson: Twenty-two (22) feet wide and thirty (30) feet long. This would be a two and one half (2 ½) story home. It would be approximately fourteen hundred (1,400) square feet.

Member Fannon: Don, could you please clarify the setback requirement and the variance being requested?

Don Saven: On the right side there is a five (5) foot side yard setback, which is required to be a ten (10) foot setback. The twenty (20) foot front yard setback, which is required to be thirty (30) foot.

Member Fannon indicated that there were twenty-seven (27) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals, no disapprovals and one (1) return.


James Korte, Shawood Lake: The direction of these comments come from the Ex-chair, myself, of the Walled Lake Sector Study. In trying to get the best for the north end, in the many awful situations, I have to ask you to please look at a driveway of thirty (30) and twenty (20), which gets fifty (50). That is nine (9) feet wide. We could get four, if we crunch, we could get five cars there. How do you move them? You move four cars to get one out on a nasty, dead end of a street, that is awful in any situation. Therefore, I do not think we have the best approach. I do not think we have the best usage of the land. Not saying, don’t develop. Where is the off-street parking? We have an ordinance that says today there is no off-street parking. In an awful situation, where are you going to park? Where is the drainage going? There are no ditches at that end of the world. I don’t even want to get into the most recent flooding and drainage situation of Austin to Charlotte. That property basically ends up running into Victoria White Thompson’s property. That is fine, it has been there for years. Victoria White Thompson surrounds the property on two (2) sides. What are you going to do with the run off? How are you going to build a house? How are you going to get the construction trucks in and not block the street from the end house? I do not think it is the best usage of property and I think somebody should look just to as what we can get better and have work in an awful situation. There is not, on this property as there is many that I have dealt with on the north end, Lake Frontage. When you deal with Lake Frontage, you deal with a whole different ball game. This is not even deeded lake access. That still is in question and we will not even get into the attorneys on that. Because we will not even get into Boulderage and why we gave that property away and who owns what. This is tragically a nothing little piece of property that I think could be dealt with better. Thank you.

Celeste Hamilton, 209 Charlotte: We are the applicant’s next door neighbors. We live on the west side of Lot 47. When we purchased our property a little over two (2) years ago, we were told that Lot 47 was too small for building a minimum size lot. That was a consideration that we took into account in the purchase of our property because our home is built two (2) feet from the fence. That is where the master bedroom is, two (2) feet from the fence. If this proposed house goes up, the backyard will be two (2) feet from our bedroom window. My husband works night shifts and he sleeps during the day. I do not know if the Anderson’s have children or not, but on their part to request an additional five (5) feet closer to us, I am very unhappy about that. In the first place I am unhappy about being able to build a home on a lot this small. Second, I am upset about the variance to build a house even closer to our home. I do not think this will improve the appearance of the neighborhood. In terms of if there was a fire in one of the homes being able to spread to the other. In terms of a fire truck being able to get to the back to our home. The safety factor I am concerned about. There are other brand new homes being built along Austin, they are all within the twenty (20) foot variance between the homes, they look fine. I do not really want my neighbors, although they are probably very nice people, living right on top of me.

Mike Peshening, 209 Charlotte: I would like to add my objection to the request. I understand there is a guideline. We read last night on the Internet the tips that the City of Novi suggests for getting your variance passed. One of them was to communicate with your neighbors. We have not heard once about this. I feel the property is too small to build a house. We do not have anything personal against them.


Member Brennan: This is a little lot. I sympathize with buying a lot and struggling with having to come up with a design. There is another parcel next door…

John Anderson: The lady behind the lot that I bought owns that and she does not want to sell any of that.

Linda Anderson: We did approach her several times.

John Anderson: I was under the assumption, when I bought the property, that I could build a house twenty foot by twenty foot (20’ X 20’), two and one half (2 ½) story and a thousand square feet. I did not think that I would be denied a building permit.

Member Fannon: I do not think you can be denied a building permit if you meet the requirements of the ordinance.

John Anderson: Correct. I am just stating that I could build a house, but it would be twenty foot by twenty foot (20’ X 20’) and I do not think it would look very good.

Member Reinke: To approve the variance, in my point of view, is overbuilding too small of a lot for that size of a house. I would not support the petitioner’s request.

Member Gray: I would like to suggest to the petitioner to request postponement and come back after talking to some of the neighbors. I have looked at this. I know this area very well, living there over twenty (20) years. One of my concerns is with the thirty-five (35) foot setback in the rear yard. That tells me at some point, they would be coming before the board for a variance to build a garage. I have a problem with any encroachment on the front, more than a minor amount. I have a problem with the driveway being there. I too live in a house on a forty (40) foot lot. I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the vacant lot next door. My house is twenty-one (21) feet wide and thirty (30) feet deep. I know what you are dealing with. There are ways that you could look at this situation. You should look at this and potentially ask for a variance to move the house back, build a garage facing the street, build over the garage and your primary view would be Shawood Lake as opposed to Walled Lake. At some point, there is going to be something on City property, but not now. There are drainage issues and building issues. The neighbors will have some protection by virtue of what you can and can not do with fire coding, via the building department. I would suggest that you may want to investigate additional avenues of being more creative. There are wonderful little, tall houses built on little lots throughout the area. This may be an avenue that you would want to pursue rather than just be turned down. I sense that is where your request is going.

John Anderson: I do not have a problem with a ten (10) foot rear variance. Move the house back ten (10) feet and put the driveway on the right side, fifteen (15) feet from the neighbors.

Member Gray: It would be my suggestion that you talk to your neighbors.

Member Fannon: Is this something that you would like to do? The chances of the variance being approved after these comments is probably not good. We can vote on your request, or we could table it to give you some time to talk to your neighbors and maybe look at a different design and come back with a different approach.

John Anderson: Yes, we could come back. Would it be next month?

Member Fannon: It would be your option. You need to contact Sarah Marchioni.

John Anderson: It is going to take some time to redraw this.

Member Fannon: We could table it for one (1) month and if you could not get it done, we could move it to May. Would you like us to table it?

John Anderson: As opposed to voting and turning it down?

Member Fannon: Yes, probably.

John Anderson: Just one (1) question for the building inspector. It is true with the setbacks that I could build a house twenty foot (20’ X 20’), two and one half (2 ½) story and a thousand square feet?

Don Saven: I would not argue that, yes you can.

John Anderson: I just want the neighbors to know that something is going to go there.

Moved by Gray,

Seconded by Brennan,


Case No. 01-010 filed by Landmarc Building Development representing Pointe Park Condominiums

Marc O’Rourke of Landmarc Building Development representing Point Park Condominiums is requesting a variance to the maximum thirty (30) percent pavement coverage (off street parking, maneuvering lanes, service drives or loading areas) of any required yard setback.

Proposed plan indicates 39% of west side setback is used for off street parking and maneuvering.

Marc O’Rourke was present and duly sworn in.

Marc O’Rourke: I would like to give you a little background about our proposal and review how we got where we are today. I would like to introduce you to the small concept and give an explanation of why we are asking for the variance. The project was just recently approved by the Planning Commission. We have Preliminary Site Plan Approval subject to obtaining this variance and submitting our final sets of construction plans. The project is located on Beck Road, south of Pontiac Trail on the east side. It is a 10.88 acre parcel and zoned RM-1 and approved for a fifty-two (52) condo site plan, which I will show to you.

Marc O’Rourke: Part of the difficulty on the site stems from what is stated in the zoning ordinance related to setbacks, wetlands and woodlands. This first map shows you the site. The dark line represents the property boundary. I just gave you a revision that most recently came up based on our planning comments and graphic review study for circulation as it relates to our emergency accessing. Some of the difficulties on the site are that it has a sixty (60) foot wide narrow entrance to access Beck Road. We are filling this up with an entrance driveway. The red line represents the seventy-five (75) foot building setback line. The green line represent the woodland line. The blue line represent the wetland and the wetland setback. If you take the ten (10) acre piece of property and without working with the trees or the wetlands, we have a limited building envelope. We have worked with the consultants and come up with a plan that we feel that everyone likes. The difficulty is that in order to get a driveway all the way up the side and across to access our buildable area, we are using up most of what is allowed in the zoning ordinance for the thirty percent (30%) lot coverage of pavement. This was our initial site plan with an access drive coming in with a circular court to allow for vehicle and safety access. It also has an emergency access drive to Beck Road. We have obtained an easement from the neighboring strip center. When you look at the whole lot coverage, it creates a need for a variance. The next page shows what thirty (30) feet would look like.

Mark O’Rourke: We are allowed to have thirty percent (30%) of pavement in this shaded area. The hatched lines going this way represent what thirty percent (30%) would calculate to. This section calculates to twenty-nine percent (29%). The extra eight percent (8%) coverage is parking and the emergency access. This plan has changed a little. The Planning Commission did not like this loop and wanted us to re-orient some things to provide more green space in the development and eliminate some of the pavement. We came back with this plan. You can see there is quite a bit more green space. We have eliminated the loop road and a lot of the pavement around. Still at this point we have approximately thirty-nine percent (39%) pavement coverage in the setback on the west side. Review comments from the Traffic Engineer regarding the radius wanted us to increase the width to allow a radius for a fire truck to enter. We thought it would make more sense to eliminate some of this and try to reduce it more. We then arrived at the plan that you currently have copies of. What we have done is swing the emergency access more to the east and north. It has taken quite a bit of pavement out of the thirty percent (30%) area.

Mark O’Rourke: Actually this plan has not been submitted to the City. We just received Preliminary Site Plan Approval from the Traffic Engineers with the layout. Although it is in the preliminary stages, it is down to thirty-four percent (34%). We have improved the amount that we encroached into the setback. There is not another opportunity for us to have emergency access, which is required by the ordinance. The property to the north is undeveloped. There is a large berm here and a large strip center, which you could not get a fire truck around the building easily. This side of the property has woodlands that we are trying to preserve. This makes the most sense. I think we have done a decent job trying to minimize.

Member Fannon indicated that there were six (6) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


There was no audience participation.


Member Fannon: Is your request now for thirty-four percent (34%) verses thirty-nine percent (39%)?

Marc O’Rourke: Yes. The percentage calculation from my engineer has not yet been verified by the City’s Engineer.

Member Bauer: Do you have a letter to that effect?

Marc O’Rourke: This will be our submittal. These changes also help us avoid needing a variance for the berm. There has to be an increased berm height along this area. We have an agreement with the adjoining property to re-grade this berm from their property onto our property to avoid needing a variance for at least part of the berm. This will become part of our final submittal although it has not been submitted yet. I do not know if I could have thirty-five percent (35%) to cover me just in case the calculations do not work. Unfortunately I do not have an exact number.

Don Saven: I would be concerned about the thirty-four percent (34%) verses the thirty-nine percent (39%). Strictly for the fact that there are modifications in traffic within the site, that the Traffic Engineer may want to see. If we approve only the thirty-four percent (34%), he may have to have thirty-five percent (35%). I do not want to go back and fourth. I would suggest the flexibility.

Member Reinke: I think that we could possibly look at that at a thirty-five percent (35%) range in reference to this drawing, the exhibit that we are working with.

Member Brennan: If this piece of property was on Beck Road and there was not a need for the long driveway, how much of the thirty-nine percent (39%) does the driveway represent?

Marc O’Rourke: A lot. I do not think we have ever calculated it.

Member Brennan: Do you think it may be three percent (3%) or five percent (5%)?

Marc O’Rourke: Probably twenty percent (20%), because if you go back to this drawing, this is thirty percent (30%) of the setback and this is about eight percent (8%).

Member Brennan: I would point out that the petitioner has a difficult piece of property that he needs to get access to. He is working with the city and trying to minimize it. I do not have any particular issues with his presentation tonight.

Member Reinke: Is this the only variance request that you are going to need?

Marc O’Rourke: Currently it is. There are no other variances that have been needed, but we have a waiver on a forty-five (45) degree orientation from the Planning Commission regarding these two (2) buildings. This was due to the heavily wooded screen. There are three (3) or four (4) acres of very dense trees that screens these two (2) buildings from the adjoining property owners. What we are trying to do here is create some open usable space. However, in order to meet the ordinance without another variance, we have to build a berm in here. We are trying to work with the engineers and Linda Lemke on the landscape side to build this berm to height that satisfies her, while not putting too much fill over the sewer easement. We do not have all of the details.

Member Reinke: We are not looking at seeing additional variances in the future for building setbacks, etc…

Marc O’Rourke: All the buildings fall within the setbacks.

Member Reinke: That answers my question in general. Thank you.

Member Gray: I have watched this go through the planning process. I know the petitioner has placed a lot of effort working with the Planning Commission’s request to develop the best for the area. I think the fact that they need to have the emergency access and the additional parking on what looks like a "flag lot", it is buildable. The fact that he is preserving the wetlands and the woodlands, I would have no problem supporting the variance.

Moved by Gray,

Seconded by Brennan,


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

Case No. 01-013 filed by Robert Janik of 2300 Old Novi

Robert Janik of 2300 Old Novi Road is requesting a ten (10) feet front yard variance off of Old Novi Road and an eight (8) foot front yard variance off of Austin Drive for the construction of an addition and attached garage.

Robert Janik was present and duly sworn in.

Robert Janik: The house is currently five hundred (500) square feet. I plan on adding onto it. There is no garage at this time. I am requesting an additional ten (10) feet variance in front of the house and an additional eight (8) feet to the side facing Austin Road.

Member Fannon: What is the reason that you need this variance?

Robert Janik: I would like to add on to my existing home.

Member Fannon: The configuration of the lot seems to be…

Robert Janik: It is unusual. It is longer than deep.

Member Fannon indicated that there were nineteen (19) notices sent to neighbors and there were two (2) approvals, no disapprovals and one (1) returned. Approvals – 1) Cathy and Tom Steelman: Mr. Janik tends to improve his property, that is good for our area. We support him in that effort. 2) Erik Stone, Austin: Improvements are good to all.


James Korte, Austin Street resident: I have been there thirty (30) years. Mr. Stone has asked for approval. I am not asking you to not let the man build. We have an interesting problem. Mr. Stone had to keep both of his buildings thirty (30) feet off of the road. Tammy and Mike Adams have to keep their new building off of the road. The double multiple move in of eighteen (18) years ago is thirty (30) feet off of the road. Zenia is eighty-four (84) years old and has two (2) water taps. She accepted two (2) water taps, because when she is gone, it is to be demolished. Now lets talk the letter that said that somehow somebody acquired fifty-four (54) feet. Nobody including the city, in whatever letter acquired fifty-four (54) feet. That fifty-four (54) feet was always a part of Oakland County. Oakland County gave in return for numerous things to the City of Novi. If someone is going to encroach on the property deeded prior to 1920, but the point is that he should not get anything on Austin. He should go in the direction of Old Novi Road. There is fifty-four (54) free feet of nothing, never going to happen. Austin is going to be paved. That is an interesting question and we will not even get into interestingly enough how soon. The man needs some room and the direction to go is Old Novi Road. In his letter, he says the house next door to the north. That is the Geraldine Stipp house. It is much closer to the road. That house is still fifty-four (54) feet off of the curb. With all of the deeds, allow the man to go as close as Geraldine Stipp’s old residence and get off of Austin. We have in this situation a fifty-four (54) feet, it is not free, and we all own it. Novi Road is not going to get any bigger. We have fifty-four (54) feet that he can encroach right up to and bother no body. My direction of this property is to let him build and build more than he wants to build and go in the direction of Old Novi Road. When you get into the thirty feet of Austin, before new houses had to meet thirty. The new houses are going to have to meet thirty. Let him build his house but push him the other direction.


Don Saven: Mr. Janik, will you be removing the shed?

Robert Janik: Not right away. Eventually I will be removing the shed.

Don Saven: I would like to point out to the board that this is a very unusual piece of property with an unusual setback off of Old Novi Road. I do not believe Old Novi Road is not as an intense use as it was in the past. The fifty-four (54) foot setback is a substantial setback, which is also primarily the reason the front yard setback would be need for the additional ten (10) feet in that area. As indicated, it is an unusual piece of property. I have seen a lot of good things happen with the house. If Mr. Janik continues to do this, I think it would be an asset to the area.

Member Fannon: What was your reason for the question about removing the shed?

Don Saven: The reason was due to the location of the shed relative to the front yard. The portion that is on Austin, which may be considered as part of the front yard if the thirty (30) foot requirement was wrapped all the way around.

Member Brennan: When I drove by, my thought was that it is a little house. My second thought was it is a large piece of property. I understand now that with the setback from the curb, you have lost essentially fifty-four (54) feet of what probably was your property at one point in time. I have no objections. If you complete the house and complete the garage, could you take down the shed?

Robert Janik: Yes.

Member Reinke: Where is the entrance to your garage?

Robert Janik: Tentatively it would come off of Austin.

Robert Janik: (In response to the audience participation.) It would be less expensive for me to come in off of Austin Road.

Member Reinke: What would happen if you shift the garage to the east, the front edge of the house?

Member Brennan: That would still come in off of Austin.

Robert Janik: I thought about that too.

Member Reinke: There would probably be no variance to Austin at all. Everything else could stay the same. Rather than being parallel or in line with the western edge in line with the eastern edge.

Robert Janik: I would like to design the house so that it would fill out the architect of the whole structure.

Member Brennan: Then we have a problem, because you do not have a hardship. What we have found here is a means of getting around granting one of the variances.

Robert Janik: There is a fire hydrant there too. I would like to try to avoid the fire hydrant from bringing in the driveway too close to that.

Member Gray: Could you point out where the fire hydrant is located?

Robert Janik: I can not because I left it on the table.

Member Fannon: Maybe you can tell us where it is in relation to one of these numbers. For example the fifty-five or the forty-seven.

Robert Janik: Forty-seven, forty-three.

Member Gronachan: It is on that curve?

Robert Janik: Yes, on Austin.

Member Reinke: You are planning your entrance in the garage to the south? Or to the west? I do not understand how the entrance to your garage will be effected by a fire hydrant out here? I was suggesting that you shift it.

Robert Janik: The design of the building…(inaudible)

Member Reinke: I have a problem with the twenty-two (22) feet. If there was something there that you could not work with, we would have to look at something different. There is nothing there. Somehow I think the architecture can be worked to have that fit in and move the back to line up with the eastern edge envelope of what you are proposing. That would more than likely eliminate any variance request on the Austin side of the building. Then the only variance request you would have would be to the side on Old Novi Road.

Member Fannon: Maybe we should take these variances one by one?

Member Reinke: No. I would not vote for one without both of them.

Member Fannon: You would not deny one and approve one?

Member Reinke: Yes, I would.

Member Fannon: It sounds like the Board is leaning towards not approving the one related to Austin. There did not seem to be an objection to the other request.

Member Gray: Are you planning to live in this house or is this going to be a rental?

Robert Janik: No. I bought this house with the intent of expanding and living in it.

Member Gray: You are going to live in it?

Robert Janik: Yes.

Member Gray: I too would lean more toward shifting the whole garage to the front. When you talk about interesting architecture, I think the old area of the city is rife with interesting architecture. You need to drive around to see what people have done with the funny lots we have. This looks like a lot of property when you say that you have four lots, but they are only twenty (20) feet. I understand that. Again, with corners, you have an interesting configuration. I think shifting the garage forward, even with the front of the house or closer to Novi Road, I would not have a problem with that. But I do have a problem with encroaching on Austin Road.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Reinke,


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

Don Saven: I am concerned about the flexibility of the petitioner being able to move this garage toward the front on Novi Road.

Robert Janik: I would like to request more square footage as this gentleman has stated toward the front.

Member Brennan: We can only vote on what has been advertised.

Member Fannon: The understanding that I have is that we are granting a variance on the front yard setback, not only for the home, but for the garage. You could not move any closer to Old Novi Road than what you have proposed the house to be. The motion is to deny the variance toward Austin. Do you understand the motion? You can not move everything any closer to Old Novi Road than what you have proposed unless you come back.

Robert Janik: Alright, I will work around that.

Member Fannon: Is there any further discussion? Is everybody clear?

Member Gronachan: I would like Don Saven to complete his thoughts regarding the garage.

Don Saven: There are a couple of things. We will discuss the driveway when he is ready to put the garage in. The issue was whether or not the size of the proposed garage was moved forward, would it (depending on the additional 8’ which is necessary)… I do not want to be arguing over six (6) inches etc… If he has a twenty-four by twenty-four (24 X 24) garage and moves it back and it exceeds the twenty (20) foot requirement, then he would have to come back to ZBA.

Member Fannon: Should we ask the petitioner if he would like to take this and move things around?

Don Saven: Mr. Janik, do you believe that by the garage being moved back to be flushed with the front of the house off of Old Novi Road, that you would be able to achieve what your initial design is?

Robert Janik: At this point in time, I think I can.

Case No. 01-014 filed by Bradley Rosenberg representing Westmarket Square

Bradley Rosenberg, representing Westmarket Square is requesting an extension of a previously approved development sign.

Bradley Rosenberg was present and duly sworn in.

Bradley Rosenberg: Westmarket Square is located at the northwest corner of the Beck and Grand River Avenue and is anchored by Home Depot and Kroger. Currently buildings to date are two hundred twenty-five thousand (225,000) square feet. The total leased to date is two hundred five thousand (205,000) square feet, which does not include the two lots leased to Applebee’s and Standard Federal Bank. There are two additional buildings proposed on the west side of Home Depot of thirty thousand (30,000) feet and on the east side next to Kroger for thirty thousand (30,000) square feet. The tenants that have currently signed leases adjacent to Kroger will be opening up in the next two to eight weeks. This will help to generate additional activity in the shopping center. Therefore, I would like to address additional time to keep up my leasing sign for one year or until fully leased. I have had my sign up for approximately thirteen (13) months.

Member Fannon indicated that there were three (3) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals and no disapprovals.


There was no audience participation.


Member Brennan: I am uncomfortable with a year. I have watched the complex take off. I know there is additional construction coming. I prefer to shorten it up. I do not have a problem granting the extension. I think the need is present.

Bradley Rosenberg: Can I request six (6) months and come back and see what the situation is in six (6) months?

Member Brennan: That would be fine.

Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Gronachan,


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

Case No. 01-016 filed by Heileman Signs representing Willis Insurance Co.

Heileman Signs representing Willis Insurance Co. is requesting a variance to erect a 19.24 square foot wall sign to be located at 43155 Main Street.


Case No. 01-017 filed by Kevin Sovel representing Marathon Oil

Kevin Sovel was present and duly sworn in.

Kevin Sovel: I am here to request a variance to change my sign from its current zoning of a Sunoco sign to a Marathon sign. I changed suppliers and I need to change the sign as well. I do not want to change the actual frame or the pole. I only want to change the sign itself.

Member Fannon indicated that there were twelve (12) notices sent to neighbors and there were no approvals, no disapprovals and one (1) return.


There was no audience participation.


Don Saven: This was a previous Zoning Board of Appeals case. As the gentleman indicated it is strictly a face change on the sign.

Member Brennan: You have probably seen the new signage that has been implemented at other gas stations around town, Ten Mile and Novi Road in particular. I have no problems with you taking that sign down and changing the façade. I would like to cut the post shorter. We have an opportunity here to have a non-compliance sign into compliance or at least closer.

Kevin Sovel: It would be overhanging the right-of-way to do that. It would be more than it is now.

Member Brennan: I am going to stick with my statement that we have an opportunity to get a non-conforming sign into compliance, because the petitioner needs a new sign. We have gotten some pretty bad looking gas station signs out of the city over the last few years. I think we should see what we can do here.

Kevin Sovel: Would that be in the current location?

Member Brennan: I do not know.

Don Saven: This would be the opportunity, based upon the location of where your sign is, it may be the best location to approve.

Kevin Sovel: We have thought about complying the sign. However, because of the configuration of our driveways, being an older design, the sign would literally be on the pavement that is already there and extremely close to the entrance at Meadowbrook Road. The end of the driveway would be even with the sign because of the three (3) foot setback from the sixty (60) foot right-of-way, from what I am told.

Member Brennan: Do you know what the square footage of your existing sign is?

Kevin Sovel: It is forty (40).

Member Brennan: Is the current ordinance thirty (30)?

Don Saven: I believe so, but I am not able to answer.

Member Brennan: I believe the current is thirty (30) and I know that it is five (5) foot high. I would have no objection to you maintaining the size of the sign if there was a way to get it off of the post.

Member Reinke: Would there be a problem if this was continued over to our next meeting to pursue the avenue of possibly doing that?

Kevin Sovel: I could pursue that. The problem is that I have a rigged sign up there and I was hoping to get a real one.

Member Reinke: We would like to work with you on this. I think it would make your facility look better. It would be more in conformance with what the City’s direction is for signage. It may be a win situation for both of us. I would like to see the possibilities explored of doing this.

Kevin Sovel: If the sign can overhang the right-of-way, it could probably be done.

Member Reinke: These are the things that I think should be explored by our next meeting.

Member Brennan: As have been all of the new signs for gas stations, they have taken advantage of the corner lots and placed the sign right on the corner, rather than on the Ten Mile side.

Kevin Sovel: Right, but in our scenario, the other stations have their driveways much further away from the intersection. It literally might get hit there, because it would be at the edge of the driveway.

Member Brennan: What happens if he is in that lawn? Is he in City right-of-way?

Don Saven: Yes. There would be a liability there.

Kevin Sovel: Would that liability be there if the sign was overhanging the right-of-way property?

Tom Schultz: If we are talking about just lowering so that it is closer to pedestrians passing I think that is an issue. I do not have the same picture of the signs that you may have.

Kevin Sovel: If you lower it as is, trucks and cars at five (5) feet could possibly hit it on the outside gasoline.

Tom Schultz: I do not see anything that prevents the Board from looking into that. The question on having the proponent give more information on what lesser variance he might require.

Member Reinke: I think that all of these things should be taken into account. I would like to see this explored before doing something and find after the fact basis that we could have worked it out somewhere a little bit better than what it is that we are looking at. Maybe we can not. I would like to take this time to explore the possible avenues of doing things.

Member Fannon: Could you agree to a one (1) month extension so that we could all develop this and work with you?

Moved by Reinke,

Seconded by Brennan,


Don Saven: I would suggest that you contact Alan Amolsch to discuss how much of the square footage is necessary. I think that possibly a site as it would be in order, the turning radius and ingress and egress to the site. It would be best to take a look at the entrance to see whether or not you could place the five (5) foot high sign up, whatever the width and depth it would be.

Member Fannon: We may very well end up having to do what you are requesting. However, I would like to spend a little more time looking at it.


Schedule joint meeting with City Council

Member Fannon: Sarah, are we to turn these into you and you will let us know what happens out of the whole thing?

Sarah Marchioni: Yes.

Election of officers

Member Fannon: We have the election of officers.

Moved by Bauer,

Seconded by Brennan,


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

Moved by Gronachan,

Seconded by Bauer,


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



Moved by Brennan,

Seconded by Fannon,


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

Training session with Rod Arroyo

Don Saven asked the Board members if they would be interested if Rod Arroyo performed a training session for all the members? The members stated that they would be interested.

Special Meeting regarding SAD

Tom Schultz asked the Board members if they would be interested in scheduling a Special Meeting to discuss the Twelve Mile Road SAD. The Board did not want to schedule a meeting and expressed the need to meet the April deadline.

The Meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.


Sarah Marchioni

Community Planning Assistant

Transcribed by: Christine Otsuji

March 22, 2001

Date Approved: April 4, 2001