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Posted: 09/03/14

Bruce trustees deny
Cloverfield rezoning

Trustees table rezoning request for Mellen Street project

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      A rezoning that would've allowed a 167-unit development into Bruce Township has been denied.
       The Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on Aug. 20 to deny a rezoning request for roughly 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.
       A second rezoning request for a development on Mellen Street was tabled until September.
       The board followed the recommendation of the Planning Commission, which voted 7-0 in July to deny the rezoning based on it going against the township's master plan by going four levels below the current zoning.
       The development, titled Cloverfield, was presented by resident Mike Demil. He said he wouldn't go down on the number of units, saying it's required to make the property viable.
       The board voted in February to include the property in the water and sewer district, so Demil would have to finance the utilities for his development before the first home was built.
       "I don't see any reason why it's not a viable project to go forward with," he said.
       He added that the impact study they conducted showed the development wouldn't affect traffic volumes. The study claimed Cloverfield would only cause delays by a few seconds.
       Treasurer Deborah Obrecht made the motion to deny the request, saying the development isn't consistent with the township's master plan, and that the township doesn't have resources like a police department to handle the population growth.
       "I truly believe that this is not right for Bruce Township," she said. "I think if we allow this we are not going to have the opportunity to, in the future, keep this a planned community."
       She later amended her motion to base it on the Planning Commission's recommendation to deny it.
       Dan Bell of Land Design Concepts argued that the board should look at the proposed density after a decision on the rezoning, as that would be addressed in the site plan approval.
       "We're discussing things that we're supposed to be discussing two or three months from now," he said.
       The developers did address other items township planners were concerned about, mainly the inclusion of a timeline for the project and confirming that ITC Holdings did include an easement to be used. ITC owns a line of towers that divides the property.
       Even with the adjustments, Trustee Paul Okoniewski, who also serves on the Planning Commission, reiterated that the project does not conform to the master plan.
       "The public and the Planning Commission were not against development there, it was just the density of the proposal," he said.
       Demil had previously claimed these would be homes for "common folk" since they would cost around $225,000, which are cheaper compared to the larger homes in the township. He repeated this notion to the board, inciting moans from the audience.
       "You're basically confirming that you don't want the working man here," Demil said.
       Many residents spoke against the rezoning in July during a public hearing, saying its density doesn't coincide with Bruce Township's rural atmosphere. A couple of those residents made a return to the podium on Aug. 20, such as Carl Beauvais, a Sorrel Woods resident.
       "It is not this board's responsibility to ensure the project is viable," he said.
       Demil didn't convey whether he would return with a revised plan for the property.
      
Back to square one

       The second rezoning up for consideration was tabled by the board, as the developer is bringing a modified plan forward for a 31-unit project.
       Mike Mentz is requesting a rezoning for 5.89 acres on Mellen Street from residential one family (R1-B) to residential multiple family (RM-1). The property is bordered by commercial and mobile home zoning.
       "I'm not trying to upset (residents), but at the same point this piece of property, it calls out for a transitional zoning," he said.
       The Planning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning since Mentz didn't provide a traffic study of how the development would affect the area. The commission also noted the new zoning would be two levels away from the current zoning.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann recalled that residents who spoke against the rezoning didn't agree with the density, and commented on the poor conditions of the street itself.
       "The main concern seemed to be the road, and it can't handle the additional traffic," Brockmann said.
       Mentz told the board on Aug. 20 that he would work on entry onto the property from Van Dyke, thereby eliminating entry from Mellen Street.
       "There is no real issue if it comes off of Van Dyke because that road is built for traffic," he said.
       Based on the proposed changes, the board decided the whole project would have to go back to the Planning Commission before trustees could vote on the matter.
       The rezoning is tentatively scheduled for the commission's September meeting.


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