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Posted: 10/23/13

Oakland OKs second
reading to rezone parks

Observer Special Writer
      Despite Oakland Township Supervisor Terry Gonser's best efforts to keep township meetings shorter, business did not end until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning at the Oakland Township Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 8.
       At the meeting, the board approved the second reading and adoption of an amendment to Ordinance 16, the zoning ordinance, rezoning six township parks from residential to recreation/conservation zoning.
       Draper Twin Lake, Lost Lake Southern Area, O'Connor Nature, Paint Creek Heritage Area Fen, Stony Creek Ravine and Watershed Ridge are the parks to be rezoned. Marsh View Park was to be included but was tabled due to plans to add a parking lot.
       Residents urged the board to approve the rezoning. Peggy Johnson, a former member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, explained that the parks were beneficial to those who live near them.
       "The parks do have some spillover effects to adjacent residential properties," she said. "Over many years, and in many places around the country, studies have been done that have shown that the proximity of a residence to park land definitely increases the property value of that residence. As you move farther away from the parks, the property values decline."
       Alice Tomboulian, vice-chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, explained that several of the parks were land donated by residents who felt it was better to preserve the land instead of selling it to developers.
       "Your approval this evening will help fulfill the dreams of owners who so love their land and were so confident that it would be preserved as park land by Oakland Township that they even donated some or all of the land's dollar value in order to preserve its intrinsic value for the residents of the future," she said.
       The board also clarified rumors about the civil engineering firm Wade Trim no longer working on plans to restore the Paint Creek Mill Race. The matter was added to the agenda when Township Trustee Judy Keyes received a memo that James Creech contacted Jason Kenyon of Wade Trim and explained that the company Environmental Consulting &Technology (ECT) would be taking over the project. "I was taken aback by that as was Mr. Kenyon," she said.
       Creech reassured Keyes that a contract with Wade Trim was not terminated.
       "I told Wade Trim to turn over materials and the data to ECT and that ECT would be pursuing a grant to do the mill race project, which is what my understanding was," he said.
       Gonser then explained to the audience that they were exploring other options for the mill race.
       "First off, Wade Trim has not been fired. Second, any information that Wade Trim generated is owned by you, we the public. We paid for it, so that data is public data. Third, the Wade Trim proposal was presented to the (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) back in March. That proposal is dead on arrival, and I say that because the DEQ and the (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) came back to the committee and stated there was about a million dollars' worth of studies," he said. "It was a laundry list of studies at university level that would have cost us significant money and time. Subsequently, we've been talking to other folks to see if perhaps there's more innovative and creative ideas out there because this board is committed to getting water back into the mill race."
       Gonser went on to say that they are working with environmental attorneys on the project, and they recommended ECT to the board.
       "They have an opportunity to put together a program for us to consider in the future, and to put that program together, they need the data generated by Wade Trim so we don't end up paying for the same data twice," he said. "The memo to Wade Trim was to share that data with ECT . . . There's actually a possibility that ECT will work with Wade Trim to accomplish the goal of getting water back in the mill race."
       The board also heard a presentation from Attorney Edward Kickham, who is representing Dominic Moceri, the developer of Blossom Ridge. Moceri recently requested Special Accommodation Use for the project.
       "We believe senior housing will be built on the Blossom Ridge site, and we seek to find a common ground with the township in the best interest of the township residents and its future residents of Blossom Ridge," he said.
       Kickham explained that residents did not like the large number of units proposed in the project and delivered a compromise of the third floor of the main building being completely removed and 10 units removed bringing the total to 228 units. Originally there were 282 units proposed, then reduced to 238 units. "With 228 units, Blossom Ridge would have 5.44 units per acre, with nearly half the land left as open space," he said.
       The main reason Moceri wants to bring the development to Oakland Township is to serve the aging community.
       "If Blossom Ridge is approved with 228 units, Oakland Township will have specialized housing to serve about 5 percent of its elderly population," said Kickham.
       No action was taken by the board as it was a presentation only.
       In other business, the Board of Trustees:
       • Approved a resolution approving the Clinton-Oakland Sewage Disposal System inter-municipal contract.
       • Approved final site condominium approval for Pinnacle at the Oaklands located on Silver Bell Road north of the Silver Bell/Brewster Road intersection.
       • Approved final preliminary site condominium approval for Oakland Crest, located at the southeast intersection of Rochester Road and Gunn Road.
       • Struck down a request to engage Plante Moran to analyze the financial viability of the proposed Blossom Ridge development due to lack of support for the motion.
       • Heard a review of the activities of the Older Persons Commission (OPC) from OPC Governing Board Treasurer Ravi Yalamanchi.
       • Approved the formation of a Board of Trustees subcommittee to work with a subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Commission to work on a budget regarding the Land Preservation and Parks millage.

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