Zoning variance considered in Cannon Township developments

Developer will purchase Town Square if board approves slight reduction in two other projects

By BETH ALTENA

At the Cannon Township Board regular meeting Monday, January 14, Supervisor Steve Grimm informed the board that Pendulum Realty has entered into a purchase agreement for the Village/Town Square Planned Unit Development—which surrounds Ric’s Food Center at 6969 Belding Road—contingent on the township’s approval of density reduction in two other developments. Grimm explained that the developer had already purchased two bank-owned residential developments in the township, Hidden Canyon and Settler’s Grove.

Rob Scott, president of Pendulum, had asked Grimm if the township might be willing to grant a few more lots in those developments, given the amount of work Scott had to put into the properties. He proposed allowing the average density of the development be reduced from 2 acres to 1.8.

According to Grimm, the township would be unwise to consider a zoning variance unless there was a benefit to the township in doing so. Grimm indicated that the township has a two-acre minimum average density that is strictly enforced except in unique situations. Grimm said he had told the developer that the township might consider his request if Pendulum bought the Village/Town Square PUD. Shortly after that, Scott came in to the township offices and said he had a purchase agreement for the Village PUD development contingent upon the township granting the extra lots in Settler’s Grove and Hidden Canyon, Grimm explained. The additional lots would allow Scott to build seven more homes in the Settler’s Grove development and four more homes in Hidden Canyon.

Grimm presented the matter to the Board, asking if there was sufficient interest to send the matter to the Cannon Township Planning Commission for their recommendation. Treasurer Dick Davies said he did not like giving the builder the additional homes and stated concern that it might set a precedent to give up the two-acre lot size. Trustee Nelson said he would like to see action with the Village/Town Square PUD but didn’t want to respond with a knee-jerk reaction. Grimm agreed, “This must be handled as a unique situation, as to not set a precedence for the township, and must be considered only in furtherance of the vital tenet of the master plan.” Clerk Blackledge said the procedure in this instance was unusual, and typically a builder comes to the township, submits an application and pays the fee. She feels following procedure is important, but is in favor of anything that will help. Trustee Deb Diepenhorst said, if done right with the respect to everyone’s interest this could be a win-win for everyone in the township.

Trustee Rob McBrien stated that the township should never negotiate density and moved that a memorandum be sent to the developer stating that. His motion failed by a 4-3 vote. The board then voted unanimously to send the matter to the Planning Commission which will hear the request on February 12 at 6 p.m. at the Cannon Township offices, 6878 Belding Road.

The residential developments at issue are Hidden Canyon and Settler’s Grove, located respectively on the southwest side of Cannonsburg Road between Honey Creek Ave. and Giles Ave, and Pettis Avenue and 5 Mile Rd. The Village PUD has remained undeveloped since Ric’s Food Center was built in 2007. The original developer lost the property to the bank after the housing market crashed at about the same time development of single family, townhomes and retail and office space was expected. With the exception of Ric’s Food Center and a single townhome, there has been no interest in developing the property. “If we can get that developed in a way that benefits all of us, in exchange for a slight increase in density in two distressed developments, we need to look hard at it,” Grimm said.

 

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