Avalon Housing and Faith in Action hold public forum for proposed Hilltop View apartments





By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

Avalon Housing and Faith in Action (FIA) hosted a public forum at the Dexter Senior Center for the proposed Hilltop View Apartments, affordable and supportive housing units, at property located on Dan Hoey road.

The July 16 forum was the next step in the process. The public forum was in open house format with members from the development team present to answer attendees questions directly. The development team includes the owner/developer (Avalon Housing), architect (Cornerstone Design), civil engineer (Macon Engineering), property manager (Avalon Housing), and the supportive services provider (FIA). All had representatives on hand to talk about the proposed apartments.

The project is a 24 unit apartment in four two story buildings with an onsite community center and food pantry. Six of the units are one-bedroom apartments, ten are two bedrooms, and eight are three bedrooms.



Rent ranges from $610/month to $845/month with 12 units having project-based vouchers where tenant rate is 30% of income.

In August the site plan will be submitted, in October funding submissions will be next, in January of 2020 they’ll get information on funding, with the hope to have construction begin in mid 2020 with leasing beginning mid 2021.

Michelle Aniol, the Community Development Manager for the City of Dexter, told The Sun Times the city is planning for the site plan review to be on the September 3 planning commission agenda.

“If it’s just preliminary, planning commission is able to take action and recommend approval, then it would go to city council,” said Aniol. “Probably their second meeting in September. At that point they have what they need to finalize what they need to with their application for the state. After that they’ll come back and finish the site plan review process, basically the engineering.”

Then it’s another two-step process, going before planning commission and city council once more. Aniol said it’s a waiting game at that point as they wait for financing.

“If all goes through,” said Aniol. “It’ll be a few years before an actual shovel is in the ground.”

One thing that’s already been decided has been the fate of the community garden. Aniol told The Sun Times the city has negotiated a verbal agreement with DTE for one portion with Avalon on the other.

DTE will continue to allow the community garden to operate until they need to utilize the property for a new substation, with neither DTE nor the city knowing what that time frame looks like.

Leading up to the public forum FIA Executive Director Sheri Montoye said the team fielded concerns on social media, the main one pertaining to location and how it was chosen.

“We wanted to be able to answer that,” said Montoye at the forum. She said part of the process that the community partners went through was to identify a location that is beneficial for families.

“Close proximity to schools, food, other community resources,” said Montoye.

Supportive services are a new offering by FIA that began in April, although Montoye added that FIA is inherently a supportive service agency.

“Throughout the last year we’ve recognized housing is everything,” said Montoye. “Housing is the base for security, consistent in schooling for kids, it’s everything. When they start recognizing that and seeing housing can solve a lot of the problems, stable permanent housing. Yet it’s so inaccessible for plenty of people, it became an issue that had to be addressed.”

In early July The Sun Times News received a letter to the editor about the proposed apartments and their proximity to the schools.

As of July 19 there is a petition on change.org signed by 61 people to “Reconsider the need for and location of Avalon Housing’s supportive housing in Dexter.”

The creator of that petition, Jamie Griffin, a Dexter resident, attended the forum and spoke to The Sun Times about her letter to the editor, the reaction to that letter, and attending the forum.

“Like many who write letters to the editor or start petitions, one of my goals was to start a conversation in the community,” Griffin said in an email. “I can control the nature of my contribution to the conversation; what others contribute is theirs to determine.”

“I was able to speak with representatives from both Avalon Housing and Faith in Action about some of mine and others concerns,” added Griffin. “Those conversations are ongoing.”

Griffin told The Sun Times she will be making a statement to city council at their July 22 meeting and present the petition count as of that day.

Aniol told The Sun Times that having a diverse housing stock for renters and owners at various income levels was how to create a desirable community.

“One thing that is super important for people to understand is with this development, the city isn’t creating new policy,” said Aniol.

Aniol gave examples of affordable housing being available in the city before, an example is the Walkabout Creek apartments.

“This development will help fill that gap,” said Aniol of Hilltop View. “It isn’t any closer to the schools than Walkabout Creek. Its walkable for students, its walkable for people to get to the grocery store, downtown, the library. You want a diverse community, where all types of people can live.”





Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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