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Posted: 05/28/14

Bruce trustees agree to retirement community

Observer Staff Writer
      A 298-unit retirement community project received final approval from Bruce Township officials.
       The three Special Land Use (SLU) requests for the senior living community at 33 Mile and McKay roads were unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at an April 29 special meeting.
       The approval followed the Planning Commission's recommendation to approve of the project's site plan at its April 23 meeting.
       Justin Racz of Racz Building and Development has said the SLUs are for an 83-bed assisted living and skilled nursing facility, a 120-bed facility for residents requiring some assistance and a 35-bed memory care facility.
       "What we're working on here is a continuing care retirement community," Racz said.
       The first phase will build 15 duplex condos for independent living, the memory care facility and the 58,000-59,000 square-foot assisted living and skilled nursing building.
       The second phase will include the remaining 15 duplexes and the third phase would be a 120-bed facility. With the approval, Racz anticipates breaking ground in August.
       Racz sold the 28 acres to a company known for building similar facilities throughout the Midwest, but didn't reveal the company due to confidentiality.
       The site plan for the project received approval from the Planning Commission on April 23 with the conditions that sidewalks and an updated impact study of the area be provided.
       The commission approved of Racz's request to defer the sidewalks until a plan is put in place to install sidewalks along 33 Mile Road. Trustee Paul Okoniewski, the board's representative on the Planning Commission, said the board should look into a plan in the next 10 years to put in sidewalk.
       "As far as I know I haven't seen any comprehensive plan for the township as a whole," Okoniewski said.
       He said sidewalks are typically handled on an individual basis, and the township has waived sidewalk requests in the past.
       An updated impact study, which will examine the project's effects on the environment and traffic, will be submitted with the engineering drawings for the project.
       Racz said last month that the study so far shows a decrease in traffic since it is an institutional care retirement community.
       Okoniewski also expressed concern over farming operations to the north and east of the condos and if proper buffering is in place for them. Racz said they did take into account the farms and are prepared for handling any drainage issues.
       In 2012, Racz received approval from the township for an institutional care facility, but lost a number of the skilled nursing beds. The newly-approved plan is a modified version of this project.
       Supervisor Richard Cory acknowledged that Racz has gone through a lot to make the project happen.
       "We need this, and we appreciate your family investing into our community," he said.

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