Chelsea Housing Development Rises from the Grave

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The Parcel is located on the north side of Dexter-Chelsea Rd. between N. Freer Rd. and Savannah Lane. Image courtesy of City of Chelsea

By Doug Marrin

At its January 4, 2021, meeting, Chelsea City Council breathed new life into the dead Heritage Point housing development.

The City held a public hearing to review a request for the renewal of a Planned Unit Development Area Plan for a parcel located on the north side of Dexter-Chelsea Rd. between N. Freer Rd. and Savannah Lane (Parcel 06-07-06-360-006).

The PUD plan extends back to 2003 when the City entered into an agreement with FFH Enterpirses, Inc. for a proposed five-phase development on the parcel. The City approved final site plans for Phase 1 and Phase 2 (split into “2A” and “2B”) in 2006. Construction for Phases 1 and 2A was completed. FFH has annually requested extensions on Phase 2B, which the Planning Commission granted each year. However, the City did not receive Final Site Plans for Phases 3-5, and the PUD effectively expired.

To re-activate the expired PUD Area Plan, the City’s Zoning Ordinance requires an applicant to show the City Council good cause for the expiration.

In a letter to the City Council, Daniel Johnson, Managing Director for the project, stated,

“This request is based on the “good cause” reasons summarized below:

  1. As a result of the Great Recession, the property owners have been annually renewing the Site Plan Approval for Phase II-B since June of 2008 in order to keep the Site Plan approval current and correspondingly, the Planning Commission has annually granted that extension request including most recently in May of 2020. Clearly the intent of the City and the property owners was to keep the Project current and viable.
  2. With respect to Section 15.15C, w understand that the City Council may take steps to rezone the parcel to a zoning district that they deem appropriate. The City has not taken any action on the PUD since its expiration, which would further suggest that the intent was to keep the PUD in place.
  3. Looking forward, it is our objective to be in a position to allow Edwin Allen Homes to begin construction on the next Phase of the project in March or April 2021. The PUD renewal is a necessary step in that direction.”

Phases 3-5 make up 58.81 acres of land, including 2.44 Acres of Open Space. There are 190 lots in these three phases of the development.

Councilmember Cheri Albertson asked during the public hearing if the new homes were “going to be the same price point as the existing and completed phases.”

“I believe that’s the objective of Edwin Allen Homes,” replied Daniel Johnson, who was present to represent the applicant at the Hearing. “Their price points, I believe, are market rate and targeted towards being available to come into the market at a lower price point or at an average price point.”

After the public hearing closed, Chelsea’s Mayor Johnson stated during Council discussion, “I do think that this is consistent with the City's plans. I think this is something we've had on our radar in terms of the development of this property for quite some time. It's been incorporated in a number of different City documents in the last few years from anticipated residential development, as well as to our master planning process. So I do think that continuation of this PUD was both expected and anticipated and that a motion to approve would be consistent with the actions taken so far by Council.”

The City Council voted unanimously to renew the PUD Area Plan.

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