New residential development proposed for Dexter

This section of Grand Street might become home to a new residential development.

By Lonnie Huhman,

A three-story, 23 unit urban residential condominium development is being proposed to be built on two properties across Grand Street from the now-under-construction Grandview Commons.

Although still early in the process, the plan for a residential development targeting active adults and working professionals went before the city of Dexter Planning Commission on June 3, for a Preliminary Site Plan Review and public hearing.

The proposed name for this development is Millennium Place.

A rendering of the project on its west side.

By an 8 to 1 vote, the planning commission approved sending the plan onto the city council for its review of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) application and Preliminary Site Plan, for property located at 7956 and 7960 Grand Street.

The development team is led by the local area company, the Marhofer Campbell Development Company, which owns the land that includes a rental home and some vacant land, both of which combined are just under an acre in total size.

In requesting a PUD, Jack Campbell of the Marhofer Campbell Development Company, said in a letter to the city, “We respectfully request that the City consider rezoning the property to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in order to permit flexibility in the design standards, allowing for a development that will provide a variety of alternative housing options for buyers looking to move within the City limits.”

In general, the planning commission liked the plan with vice chair Thomas Phillips saying he thinks adding density and residents to that part of the city would see more people living in the downtown area, which he said is what the city would like to see, so he views that as a public benefit.

A typical question put before the planning commission in reviewing a PUD is, does the plan have public benefits?

Although he wondered about the name, Millennium, along with city councilmember and planning commission liaison Jim Smith, planning commissioner Jim Carty said overall, “I think it’s a great project. I mean this is the project we want.”

In its application, Marhofer/Campbell Development Co. said “the proposed design of Millennium Place will offer both townhouse- and multiplex-style accommodations.”

The company, which was established in 1999 and has done projects in the Dexter and Pinckney areas, said, “The subject property’s Future Land Use designation per the Master Plan is Multiple-Family Residential and the proposed design is very much in line with the anticipated uses of this category, which include townhouses and two (2) to three (3) story apartments.”

“To achieve the City’s goals of infill development with a more urban density as outlined in the City of Dexter’s Master Plan, a PUD is necessary,” Marhofer/Campbell Development Co. said. “The City’s adjacent Baker Road Corridor Mixed Use District encourages 1) upgrading of the surrounding area, 2) increasing public transit opportunity, and 3) developing residential infill; however, the densities permitted for multiple-family housing for the zoning district VR support suburban densities, rather than the urban densities implied by the Master Plan. A straight rezoning also fails to achieve the desired densities, making a PUD the best option for developing Millennium Place.”

Marhofer Campbell Development also said it, “is designed to appeal to purchasers who find themselves unable or unwilling to purchase a home in a traditional subdivision of stand-alone homes; the development will offer the possibility for pride in ownership without the burdens of exterior maintenance. Moreover, living within the City limits offers convenient access to all the amenities of the downtown community, including restaurants, theater, health services, shopping, parks/B2B trail and mass transit, identified as attractive to many of today’s target markets as analyzed in the Target Market Analysis of the City of Dexter.”

As the no vote, planning commission chair Matt Kowalski said he does like the idea of the project, but he wondered about its definable public benefit. He said he was centered in on some areas that the developer might consider that he believes could better add to defining public benefit.

One of the areas of potential public benefit Kowalski cited was the increasing of the width of the alley not only in the section that runs at the rear of the property, but also possibly extending that all the way to Baker Road. He said the project would increase the use of that alley, so he thinks that width increase should consider the alley all the way to Baker.

Some of his questions were addressed in the commission’s recommendation.

Campbell said some of the additional considerations for the plan will be driven by cost and need to be reviewed, so the development team needed to know for sure what the planning commission wants them to consider.   

In recapping the decision, Michelle Aniol, the city of Dexter’s Community Development manager said after thorough deliberation, the Planning Commission determined the following, before making a recommendation to Council to approve the preliminary PUD:

·        Density, as proposed was acceptable.

·        Parking, as proposed was acceptable.

·        Long-term protection and preservation of natural resources, as proposed was acceptable

·        Open space, as proposed was acceptable.

·        Utilities, as proposed are acceptable provided the applicant 1) demonstrates infiltration of the soils, 2) removes and replaces existing water and sanitary sewer lines on his property and the adjacent property to the south (7954 Grand).

·        Public Alley- the applicant must provide an 18-foot wide gravel surface from the western edge of his property’s frontage on the alley to Baker Road (e.g. in reality to the concrete approach at Baker Road).

·        Deviation of yard setbacks and height requirements, as proposed were acceptable.

·        Recognizable and material benefits, as proposed and further based on the determinations made by the Planning Commission, are acceptable.

She added the planning commission did ask for clarification regarding fire code requirements.  City staff and its Planning (CWA) and Engineering (OHM) consultants as well as the Dexter Area Fire Department have reviewed the site plan.

In her report to the commission, Aniol said, “While the proposed development exceeds the 9 units/acre prescribed in the Master Plan, it does match the DDA strategic plan for this area. In order to allow the proposed increase in density, the Planning Commission must determine if the density proposed is compatible with the intent of the Master Plan and the vision for this area.”

The three stories would be a deviation, but the plan does call for the building to be 35 feet high, which does conform to city standards.

In the consultant report, traffic impact was addressed.

“Based on the 23-units proposed, this equates to an average of 133.63 vehicle trips per day. The estimated increase would be 124 trips on an average weekday,” the consultant report said. “One hundred twenty-four (124) trip ends is not a significant increase for the site based on its location within near the downtown area and within close proximity to Baker Road. However, we defer further review of traffic impacts to the City Engineer.”

These are just a few details from the meeting, plan and reports on it, so if you would like more information contact the city or go to its website and search out planning commission meeting packets.

The preliminary plan will now go before city council. Aniol said the final plan could come back to the planning commission in August or September.

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