Local Concerns Mount Over Proposed Housing Development in Lodi Twp
Residents of Lodi Twp are rallying against a proposed housing development from Red Equities, LLC - Arbor Preserve North and South. The residents have named themselves the "Livable Lodi" group and argue that the development poses significant environmental and infrastructural risks.
Livable Lodi describes themselves as a group of concerned residents who have organized with a working mission statement “to support a community-driven, sustainable and holistic approach to land use in Lodi Township which preserves our natural resources and rural character and enhances the quality of life for all residents human and other than human.”
Members of the group voiced their concerns at the June 27th Lodi Twp Planning Commission meeting. Comments included:
“When we see an intact forest, we ought to be thinking about the larger issues of mass extinction of wild things, of an overheating planet that is cooled by a well-functioning forest. When we see a sizable grassland, it would be good to consider the meadowlarks now nesting there, a species that will not survive at the present rate of elimination of grassland. We might think as well about the human community that benefits enormously from wild places.”
“Lodi is well behind neighboring townships and cities in land preservation. If we could forgo development on our uncleared land, we might permanently preserve some of it in a natural state. The County can contribute funds; the Greenbelt has funds as well; and there are grants to be had, but I would like to see Lodi, in addition, consider a millage for purchase and management of land or development rights, as so many other communities have done successfully: Pittsfield, Scio Township, Ann Arbor to name a few.”
“I also challenge the township and the planners that have been hired to consult that are taking the developers words for things without challenging them. If the point of hiring a consultant is to review information and make recommendations, then they need to be including other experts and professionals that are not a part of the developer to be able to make a fair recommendation.”
Red Equities’ request is for a 106-acre residential development split into two neighborhoods, Arbor Preserve North, 46.6 acres on the east side of Wagner Road, and Arbor Preserve South, 59.9 acres on the north side of Waters Road.
In its presentation to Lodi’s Planning Commission, Red Equities explained it aims to create a conservation-focused community that prioritizes preserving natural resources and the environment. Within the neighborhood, 55.9 acres of land (52.5% of the total site) will be designated as a conservation area, safeguarding valuable open space. The Sun Times News reported on Red Equities submission in a June 9th article.
In an email to the Sun Times News, Livable Lodi pushed back against the presentation, stating, “The earlier Sun Times article presented a picture of the Arbor Preserves development as an ecologically sensitive plan yielding an idyllic community of people in close contact with nature. That picture is developer spin. In fact, the development removes a huge number of mature native trees (some over 200 years old), disrupts water courses, wetlands, and wildflower expanses, and excavates large areas. The development would massively transform and degrade the current ecosystems. Yes, there is preserved land in the development plan but much of that is wetland that is federally protected.”
The proposed development includes two private wastewater treatment plants, a move the group argues is contrary to Lodi ordinances. Red Equities is requesting an exception for their submission. They would discharge treated water into the Rouse Drain, which eventually flows into the River Raisin. The group points out that the drain is already stressed, and any additional discharge could increase the risk of downstream flooding.
Livable Lodi cites Evan Pratt, the County Water Resources Commissioner, who shared similar concerns. In a message to the township government, the group says Pratt voiced concerns about potential downstream surface water flooding and water quality degradation, especially the phosphorous discharge into the Rouse Drain. "[I]t is frustrating for this office and other municipalities who have been required to invest taxpayer funds to reduce Phosphorous discharges to waters of the state for the past two decades. Sewer plants typically discharge Phosphorous, so adding a new source of discharge negates a portion of those municipal taxpayer investments to reduce Phosphorous loads.”
The group also worries about the potential impact drilling a significant number of new wells would have on the water table. Livable Lodi is requesting a geological survey by an independent hydrologist to show what the aquifer can handle before considering a development that proposes 107 wells. In addition, the proposed removal of forested land with a high ecological value removes important habitats for various birds, including those in steep decline like the Eastern Meadowlark, and is home to a dense area of native wildflowers and other high-quality flora.
Red Equities made its first pitch for the development in 2021. The most recent rendition was received by Lodi Twp on May 1st, and on June 1st, a public hearing was held. The plans are still under review. The developers had initially submitted a site plan for 391 attached residential units. However, after engaging in multiple meetings and discussions with Township stakeholders, the company reduced the density to 107 single-family homes, in line with the recommendations from township planning.
Livable Lodi invites anyone who wants to learn more to contact them at https://tinyurl.com/LivableLodi