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Posted: 08/06/14

Planners deny McKay,
Mellen project rezonings

Observer Staff Writer
      Residents in Bruce Township made it clear that high density developments are not desired.
       The message was repeated during a two-and-a-half hour Planning Commission meeting on July 23, where the commission subsequently made recommendations to deny two conditional rezoning requests.
       The commission voted 7-0 to deny the rezoning of nearly 60 acres at 33 Mile and McKay Roads from residential one family (R-1) to residential multiple family (RM-1) for a 167-unit development known as Cloverfield.
       A 5-2 vote will recommend the denial of a rezoning nearly six acres of property on Mellen Street from residential one family (R1-B) to RM-1. Chairman Mike Tremblay and Commissioner Marq Apel were the dissenting votes.
       Both recommendations will go to the Board of Trustees on Aug. 20 for final approval or denial.
       Mike Demil approached the Planning Commission on March 27 to request a rezoning for his Cloverfield development, which he said would build less than three detached single-family condo units per acre.
       Residents from Sorrel Woods and Mallard Creek spoke against it, claiming it was too dense for the rural community. Commissioners gave the developers 120 days to rework their plans based on comments from the commission and residents.
       No major changes were made to the plan. Demil defended himself by pointing to an impact study that shows the project would minimally affect aspects like traffic, utilities and the environment.
       "It's very limited at best, there is hardly any impact," he said.
       Peter Snyder of Urban Land Consultants said the report states Cloverfield would generate 1,700 trips a day. He said the theoretical maximum for a single-lane road is 2,000 trips an hour.
       "We're well below impacting the roads," he said.
       Snyder said the study took into consideration a proposed access to 33 Mile Road from the M-53 expressway, but didn't incorporate all aspects of a nearby project from Racz Building and Development that will build a 298-unit senior living community.
       "We could've incorporated the hospital, which would've overwhelmed the study completely," he said. "We relied on what had site plan approval, not what the conditional rezoning or potential ideas for the site were."
       More than a dozen residents voiced their concerns during the public hearing, such as David Tacconelli. He cautioned the commission about granting approval for the density, saying it could set a precedence.
       "You (Demil) have the right to develop, but I think the density is the whole issue here," he said. "If it's granted to you then it'll be granted to everyone else."
       Darlene Kryta of Sorrel Woods submitted 148 letters from residents that were against the rezoning.
       "We do want a development in that area," she said. "Most people that I have spoke to object to the density."
       Mike LeFebvre said he and his wife built a retirement home in the area for its rural atmosphere, and didn't support the high density development.
       "I would once again request that the Planning Commission members search their souls and agree with most of the people here that this is not a rural development that we would like to have in our Bruce Township community," he said.
       Commissioner Paul Okoniewski's motion to deny was based on the rezoning going against the master plan by being four levels below the current zoning. Planning officials noted there was no timeline for construction.
Mentz rezoning

       Mike Mentz, who developed Whispering Pines and Fiddler's Cove, said the R-1B zoning for his property on Mellen Street doesn't provide enough density for a buffer between the mobile home and commercial zones that surrounds it.
       He proposed building 31 detached single-unit homes, or roughly six units per acre, through a rezoning.
       "I am taking into consideration everything around the area," Mentz said. "For that particular parcel in its current location, you can't develop it under the R1-B, it can't be developed."
       A similar project was approved by the commission in 1993 for 29 single family site condos, but the Board of Trustees didn't approve of the project.
       Commissioner Erika Weichel said the road is in bad shape, and asked if Mentz had any plans for it. Mentz said he had no intention of widening the road or installing lights.
       Mentz had asked for a required traffic study of the area to be waived. When asked if he would provide it, he said based on the Cloverfield traffic study, he didn't believe it would accomplish anything.
       "No one here believes one word of that traffic study that was done," he said. "You're going to get the same opposition whether I spend $10,000 or $20,000 on hiring the most credible agency possible -- (it) isn't going to change one person's opinion in here."
       Ten residents spoke against Mentz's rezoning due to the density and potential traffic impacts on a road that is in poor condition.
       "Our street won't allow for much more traffic," said Denise Moore, who lives on Mellen Street.
       Mentz argued there would be no development in the township if the commission always did what the people asked it to do.
       "Now all the people that live in these subs that were developed by people like me are adamantly against what we want to do again," he said.
       Secretary Blake Taylor's reasons for a motion to deny included the rezoning going two levels away from what it's currently zoned, and not receiving a traffic study.

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