Another (Bad) Rezone Request - Public Hearing June 23 at 7pm
The Sylvan Township Board and Planning Commission(PC) are not currently serving the best interest of Sylvan Township residents. My apologies to the few members of these committees that are following rules and working hard for all of us. This letter is meant to let our neighbors know that now is the time to write letters to the Board, attend all Board and PC meetings, and be a vocal presence. It does make a difference. The next Planning Commission meeting is Thursday, June 23 at 7pm. Please attend in person if you can.
I've described some of these issues in a previous letter, but here is a quick recap. First, the Board has chosen to allow the current Master Plan to expire and to not act on multiple requests to revise it. Yet, they continue making rezoning and development decisions without any legally valid guidance from residents. Next, the Board and township attorney have knowingly allowed a Board member to vote on matters where they have a clear conflict of interest. When a potential conflict of interest exists, it is common practice to be transparent. In this case, the Board has made matters worse by not disclosing this issue to residents. Since this Board member has already voted on issues affecting his family, Sylvan township residents should encourage the Board to ask this person to resign immediately. Further, if this behavior was recommended by our township attorney, additional action may be warranted. Another major failure of our zoning supervisor and PC is their demonstrated pattern of encouraging development proposals that are radically different than the surrounding community (e.g., tow yard in a residential neighborhood to name one). These behaviors are irresponsible and outside the law.
The 55-acre property at the corner of Pierce and Garvey has been the subject of inappropriate development efforts for over a year. The developer is now planning a slow march toward a development plan that he himself has proudly compared to his high-density row houses in Canton. His next step is to get this land rezoned to multi-family residential (with no valid Master Plan in place). He will then, undoubtedly follow this up with a high-density, high profit housing plan similar to what he has built in Canton. Local residents have stated at public meetings their support for a more appropriate development plan, but these good-faith efforts have been ignored so far. Instead, the developer said at a recent meeting, that "someone has to be the first" to put this type of high-density housing in here. Now, unfortunately, some on the Board are advocating for the developer. At the 5/17/22 Board meeting (minutes posted online) a Board member said about aggressive development that we should just "keep it rolling because the Chelsea that he grew up in is gone". If you find this comment disturbing, you're not alone. This person has clearly abandoned his responsibility to serve the residents/voters who put him in his position. Given that this Board member is also the one with the conflict of interest, they should resign now.
I've lived most of my life in Chelsea and think it is a special place that deserves to be developed by people who care about the area and their neighbors. Now is a test of whether our officials care enough to listen to the residents. I'm hoping the majority do not think that "Chelsea...is gone". Board and PC members, if you can't represent our community responsibly, please step down. If you stay, please revise the Master Plan and follow it. Don't turn this area into New Canton.