Lodi Twp Board Delays Decision on Controversial “Arbor Preserve” Development After Public Hearing
The Lodi Twp Board held a public hearing at its September 5th
meeting to hear public comment on a controversial 107-acre development proposed for the S Wagner and Waters roads area.
The hearing was for the rezoning request by Red Equities to rezone the eight parcels proposed as “Arbor Preserve” near Orchard Grove Manufactured Home Community from the current R-3 zoning to a Planned Unit Development District. Red Equities needs the regulatory land change for its proposed 107-house concept, which includes two wastewater treatment facilities.
Residents filled the town hall and voiced their thoughts during the public hearing and again during public comment.
One owner of land adjacent to the site stated, “I am opposed to the rezoning in considering a rezoning to PUD. Primarily at issue is the reality that the proposed development is not located in an area appropriate for intensive development. It has neither municipal sewer nor perking soils. The private sewage treatment plants that are proposed are clearly counter to ordinance.”
Another speaker told the board, “My understanding of the proposed development is that there are one-acre parcels. The open spaces, mostly lawns, these are going to be luxury homes that take a lot of water and resources. And with the existing zoning, you have the opportunity to do something in my mind that could be much more interesting. It could focus on efficient land use.”
Water resources and management were recurring topics for the public. Two people voiced concerns the development could have on the existing drainage system. Others emphasized consideration for the increased demand on the aquifer.
Several speakers addressed the existing habitat, the wildlife that depends upon it, and the legacy of the land itself in that it has not been developed in Lodi’s history.
One speaker seemed to sum up what many in the hall expressed: “None of the proposals from Red Equities and Silverman companies are in compliance with R-3 nor PUD for density, water, sewer management, and more. We're not obligated as a township to make exceptions for this developer.”
After the hearing, the board asked Red Equities for their presentation. The developer’s attorney, Alan Green, began with a brief history of how Red Equities purchased the property from the original developers and how, in response to township feedback, the concept was reduced from several hundred homes to 107.
Addressing water concerns, Green told the board that Washtenaw County Water Commissioner Evan Pratt looked over the project, particularly how it might affect nearby Stonebridge Estates. “Evan Pratt came in here, and he was very clear,” said Green. “He answered all these questions. He said, ‘Look, nothing that we're doing on this property affects Stonebridge whatsoever.’”
Buzz Silverman, Managing Partner for Red Equities, also reassured the board about the regulatory measures presiding over the property’s natural resources. “In the State of Michigan, we have excellent engineering services up in Lansing through EGLE that oversee all of the requirements of any developments that were adopted,” he said. “Washtenaw County is pretty much the toughest place to develop property in the State of Michigan because the standards are very, very heavily enforced.”
“We would not be getting involved in this concept if we didn't feel very confident to do the right job and protect our reputation and protect all the residents of Lodi,” he added.
Development Manager for Lodi, Hannah Smith, told the board, “When the planning commission voted on July 25th at their meeting, they did find that the plan was substantially in compliance with the intent of the ordinance. The planning commission made a motion to recommend denial of the application because although it was determined that the application is substantially in compliance with the contract zoning ordinance, the proposed wastewater treatment system is not in compliance.”
The Arbor Preserve concept is for two neighborhoods, Arbor Preserve North and South. Each neighborhood is designed to have its own small wastewater treatment plant.
Another complication over the property is that it is under a consent agreement, which is used for resolving land-use disputes. It allows developers and townships to find a middle ground and move forward with development projects in a way that considers both private interests and public welfare.
The board voted to delay action on the rezoning until September 12th at a special meeting, giving trustees time to read through the consent agreement.