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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 10/17/12
Special land use request
for Blossom Ridge denied
by STACY SOBOTKAThe Oakland County Board of Trustees denied a request for a Special Accommodation Use application by a vote of 4-3 from developer DM Investment Company and Four Stars, LLC for the proposed senior living development, Blossom Ridge, at its meeting Oct. 9.
Observer Special Writer
The purpose of the Special Accommodation Use Provisions is to grant relief from the strict terms of the Zoning Ordinance in order to provide equal housing opportunity.
Township Supervisor Joan Fogler read from a written statement further explaining the motion.
"The majority of the Planning Commission and the Township Board have all determined that Blossom Ridge is in harmony with the Master Plan," she said. "I listened to all of the concerns on Sept. 26, 2012, with an open mind. Some of the concerns from residents are height and length of building, traffic, value of homes decreasing, and bringing outsiders in to work in the facility. Everything possible has been done to address these concerns, even to the developer reducing the number of units and reducing the height. After much thought and input from many people, I conclude that the approval of Blossom Ridge will not require or likely result in a fundamental alteration in the nature and land use district in which it will be situated."
Fogler then recommended the board approve the application.
Township Trustee Marc Edwards, who drafted the motion, had the complete motion projected onto a screen so the audience could read it and fully understand it.
"I think it's important that everybody understands the basis of the motion," he said.
A controversial part of the motion was a section stating that though the development received residential overlay rezoning approval, the amendments were blocked by a petition submitted by residents for referendum. As of the present day, the rezoning is not effective. The township has no specific ordinance provision existing and available to provide relief sought by the developer's application for special accommodation.
Township Clerk Judy Workings said the signatures on the petition are currently being checked.
"We don't even know if the petitions are valid at this point," she said.
Numerous residents urged the board not to pass the motion. Many have previously complained about the development's density and that it does not fit the character of the township. Others urged the board to table the motion until the referendum goes through.
"This township is going to spend a lot of money defending itself if it's approved," said Oakland Township resident Joseph Langlois.
Oakland Township resident Don Buser was in favor of the project.
"This community will finally provide for the welfare and comfort of a group of citizens that need special consideration in regard to their needs," he said. "In a few years, many of you in this room will be very, very glad that Blossom Ridge exists."
After over an hour and a half of public comment, the board defeated the motion, with Edwards, Township Treasurer Sharon Creps, and Fogler voting in favor, Township Trustees Mike Bailey, Kathrine Thomas, Sharon McKay, and Township Clerk Judy Workings voting against.
Afterward, Thomas brought forward a motion to the board that would consider special accommodation only if the development is invalidated by the voters of Oakland Township, thus removing the other recognized ordinance provision available to approve Blossom Ridge without needing to use the special accommodation use. Thomas made clear that the board was neither approving nor disapproving Blossom Ridge. This motion was approved unanimously.
The board also approved the introduction and first reading of amendments to Ordinance 16, better known as the Zoning Ordinance, which is part of the Goodison Plan.
The Goodison Plan lists ways to improve the Goodison area of Oakland Township.
The Planning Commission has spent a year and a half updating the ordinance due to changing conditions in the township.
This has had many residents in an uproar over such things as the number of animals allowed per property. The amended ordinance proposed a maximum of 10 chickens allowed per property, for example.
The other ordinance that has upset residents is a nuisance ordinance, which deals with such issues as noise levels, neglected properties, property maintenance and public littering on private properties. Residents felt that the changes planned were an invasion of their privacy.
Oakland Township resident Craig Blust urged the board to adopt the amended ordinance as he believed the Planning Commission had spent more than enough time working on it.
"Please proceed, and please move forward. We can always change it later," he said.
Township Trustee Mike Bailey motioned for the approval with the stipulation that the new ordinance limit the number of stories for a building to two stories and its length be no more than 135 feet. He also added that the number of units per building be no more than 16. Right before the vote, he made one last request.
"Between now and our next meeting (I request) that we do explore and come up with a way to do (a) direct comparison between the new and old ordinance," he requested.
The board approved the new motion unanimously.
In other business, the Board of Trustees:
• Heard comments and public input on proposed uses for the 2013 program year Community Development Block Grant allocation. Project selection will occur at a future meeting.
• Approved the Oakland County's Law Enforcement Services Agreement for Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2015.
• Approved the second reading and adoption of an ordinance amendment allowing the Historic District Commission to hold and conduct historic related activities.
• Approved a recommendation by the Planning Commission to distribute the Goodison Plan per statute for further public comment.
• Approved a time frame extension for the Adams Road easement project and approval of additional compensation for three amended motions related to the project.