Letter to the Editor

Cannon Twp. faces important zoning issues

I am writing in regard to an important issue facing Cannon Township. I voted NO on a proposal by Pendulum Real Estate Group to amend our zoning for Settler’s Grove and Hidden Canyon developments in Cannon Township. The group wants to amend our zoning ordinance for 50 lots (of the 54 existing) in Settler’s Grove (SG) and 18 lots (of the 24 existing) in Hidden Canyon (HC). In exchange for changing our zoning, the group says they will develop the Town Square Site by Ric’s. They want to drop the minimum acreage size from 2.0 acres to 1.8 per site which would give them 7 additional lots in SG and 4 additional lots in HC. I opposed it for these reasons:

1. When zoning is established for a big development like these, those who bought homes in the development (there are 2 existing homes in SG and 6 in HC), they bought with an understanding that their developments would be 2 acre minimums. It’s a contract they established with our township. The zoning stated this when they purchased their homes. I don’t like the idea of breaching this contract for these good people in order to simply add more profit to a developer. It is not in the best interests of those who entrusted their homes to our care.

2. Our Master Plan states consistently that we are a township of open spaces and natural beauty. In this case, the reason to change the zoning for these developments is to give a developer more profit. I am not opposed to profit, but lets do it in conjunction with the zoning established long ago. There is plenty of money to be made with the existing 2 acre minimum. Changing the zoning for one lot in a township on a case by case basis is fine (if it goes through the proper channels), but changing the zoning for two large developments sets bad precedent.

3. The developer says he will develop the Town Center by Ric’s in exchange for our board changing the zoning for the other developments. This is important. I think everyone believes that the Town Center has been a debacle and the land is an eye sore. Something needs to be done. However, a knee jerk response like this can easily lead to the wrong result. Rather than tying the development of the Town Center property to the changes in the other developments, lets consider Ric’s on its own. What is the best plan for that land? I think the Planning Commission needs to consider this lot on its own merits. Do we really believe that people will buy 85 single family homes and 8 town homes in order to live in a “walk-around” community? This push is called the “new urbanism” and became popular in the mid 80’s in tightly packed older urban communities, such as Baltimore or Chicago but doesn’t translate well in newer suburban areas. Something needs to be done, but I would caution us to do the right thing, not the first thing that comes along.

Steve Grimm brought the proposal to our board. Three of us voted to kill this proposal (Dick Davies, Rob McBrien and me) and four voted in favor of it. It takes a simple majority of four to move anything along, so after it passed, we all voted unanimously to send it to the Planning Commission (which is the right place for this proposal to be considered). They will consider all angles, listen to the views of the neighbors affected by this and bring their recommendation to our full board for a vote.

If you are interested in attending, there is a Planning Commission meeting open to the public on February 12th at 6pm at the Township Center. Thanks!

Tim Nelson

Trustee, Cannon Township

 

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