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Posted: 12/19/12

Bruce trustees keep
Legacy consent judgment

Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce officials decided to keep a consent judgment intact instead of altering it for a potential development.
       On Dec. 12, the Board of Trustees denied a request to amend a consent judgment regarding the northernmost land in the township to avoid setting precedence for future developments.
       The amendment, requested by Jason Blake, asked for the township to re-draw parcel lines so he could purchase a smaller parcel in the area south of Bordman Road, west of Hipp Road and M-53 and east of Woodridge Lane.
       The amendment also asked to use motorized boats on the lake, which the agreement doesn't allow.
       In 2009, the Planning Commission denied to recommend approval for rezoning the 145 acres to allow for a 93-unit development. The board agreed with the recommendation, saying it was too dense for the township.
       Following litigation, Legacy Holding and the township negotiated a consent judgment in 2010 that reduced the number of units from 93 to 15.
       The compromise consisted of Legacy retaining about 50 acres, where it could build 15 units on lots sized between 1.75 acres to 17 acres. The remaining parcel, about 100 acres, would be untouched. The consent judgment cannot be altered unless the township agrees to change it.
       Eric Flinn, an attorney with Blake and Legacy Holding, said the lot Blake wants is slightly over 12 acres, but is currently set at 18 acres, so he wanted a portion of the acreage to move to the remaining 100 acre parcel.
       "If the amount of the remaining parcel would be under 100 acres then the density issue should not be a problem," he said.
       Trustee Paul Okoniewski had reservations about the amendments, saying the development would then have the same amount of lots, but utilize 2.9 acres instead of 3.3 acres.
       "You're reducing the lot size, which is setting precedence for other developers," he said.
       Okoniewski said by setting such a precedence, every future development that would ask for similar measurements and are denied could sue the township.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann said she would've agreed to adjusting Blake's potential lot so long as the large parcel stayed at 100 acres.
       "We do want people to build homes in Bruce Township and we would like to encourage that, but we want to protect that particular area because it was so hard fought for and was a very heated subject," Brockmann said.
       A block on boats
       Township Attorney Christine Anderson said the prohibition on motorboats on the property stemmed from the concern that the area's remaining parcels would use the lake and disrupt the peace of the homes on the lakefront.
       Blake said he would restrict motorized boat usage to motors under 10 horsepower, and would mainly use the boat for maintaining the lake. He said he would like to improve the lake and turn it into a fishery through his experience with The Pond Guy.
       "If it sits there long enough and there's no development and nobody doing anything, it will get worse and worse and you'll get a lot of phragmiting," he said.
       At first the board spoke in favor of changing the agreement to allow for maintenance, but ultimately decided against it. Treasurer Deborah Obrecht said they would like Blake in the township, but he had to either accept the agreement's terms or find a more viable lake.
       "We had a consent agreement, and I think it's premature to open this up and create all this havoc for something so simple as five acres," she said.
       Jim Tignanelli, the former supervisor who worked on the consent judgment, told the board he didn't understand why the township would change the agreement when it spent money to obtain it.
       "A lot of effort goes into that, a lot of work went into that, and I think when you start talking about undoing a consent judgment you're setting a precedence for any consent judgment you ever get involved in," he said.

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