| 3 min read | by Doug Marrin |
The Dexter Planning Commission considered the final site plan for Hilltop View Apartments in Dexter before a full house at their March 2, 2020, meeting. If approved, the plan would be sent to the City Council for final approval.
Hilltop View Apartments is the affordable and supportive housing initiative of Faith in Action and Avalon Housing. The plan proposes 24 multiple family residential units, an 800 square foot food pantry, and a 737 square foot area for offices and a community center.
The residential units are proposed in four buildings: a building with eight 2-bedroom units, a building with six 1-bedroom units, a building with four 3-bedroom townhouses and a building with two 3-bedroom townhouses and two three-bedroom units.
The community center, food pantry, tenant laundry room, offices and two 2-bedroom units are proposed in a separate building. The community center and offices are intended to serve the residents and employees of the development, not the general public.
Eight people took advantage of the Non-planned Public Participation time on the agenda to express their thoughts on the apartments.
Sue Sherrill told the Commission that she is with the group Dexter Citizens for Responsible Government, and they are very concerned that illegal drugs will be used there.
Sue Kenney shared her personal story of raising her family in Dexter poor and the adverse effects it had at the time because there was no housing or support such as Hilltop offers.
Sheri Montoye is the Executive Director for Faith in Action thanked the Commission for their work and stated there has been strong support and encouragement for Hilltop from the community.
Kim Aiken stated that as a pediatrician she sees families that are struggling and need the kind of supportive services that will be provided. She expressed the hope that Dexter would be a welcoming community for people who really need it.
Dave Reinhardt is a Chelsea resident who is involved in the FIA/Avalon Sharon Ann Apartments in Chelsea. He told the Commission that he has never witnessed drugs used or any problems there and emphasized the positive impact it has had.
Kim Clugston stated she supports Hilltop because she trusts the process by the Commission and City Council and their due process. She also trusts the endorsements of Chelsea State Bank and Dexter United Methodist Church.
Aubrey Patino is the Executive Director for Avalon Housing. She explained that some people have problematic associations with affordable/supportive housing and it limits public thinking about the importance of such a provision for people who need it. Hilltop offers a place for families, children, and veterans who need help to thrive.
Christopher Lemon expressed concern over the effect the public debate was having on the mental health of some in the community. Rather than seek help, the public debate makes struggling people hide their problems which only makes things worse.
Planning Commission consideration
When it was time for consideration of the final site plan, Megan Masson-Minock of Carlisle-Wortman Assoc, city planners for Dexter, walked the Commission through the firm’s review of the plan. Recommended revisions included:
- The height of the buildings is noted on the elevations.
- Centerlines of all existing and proposed driveways within 250 feet of the site and offsets between driveways are shown.
- The location and details of signs for the handicapped-accessible spaces are shown.
- Keys on the landscape plan sheets are updated to have the appropriate numbers or letters.
- The plant schedule is updated to provide the percentage of genus and species of all plants proposed.
- The proposed landscaping match the recommended species.
- The plant schedule meets the minimum plant sizes.
- The trash enclosure detail shows compliance.
- Locations of light poles are shown on the landscape and utility plans.
- Building-mounted lighting is shown on elevations.
- The location and detail of all signage proposed is shown.
- Existing and proposed lot lines, building lines, structures, parking areas, and other improvements on the site and within 100 feet of the site are shown.
- Topography on the site and within 100 feet of the site at two-foot contour intervals, reference to a USGS benchmark is shown.
- Mailbox locations are shown.
- The PUD Agreement complies with city ordinance.
- Review and approval of PUD agreement by the City Attorney.
After the presentation, Commissioner Thom Phillips made the motion to postpone a decision on the final site plan until the April meeting giving Avalon’s planners and architects time to fill in the details. The motion was seconded by Kyle Marsh.
During the ensuing discussion, the Commission also brought up items such as the thickness of balcony pillars, window frame material, and siding material and color shades as items that needed more detail in the plan.
“I think we’ve approved plans with similar issues and have instructed staff to work it out,” Commissioner Jim Carty stated. “I don’t agree with the motion that this plan needs more work.”
Well aware that Hilltop View has been controversial, Commissioner Thom Phillips clarified the Planning Commissions role in site plan approvals.
“I don’t want to be cast as though I’m being unreasonable because this is a certain project,” he said. “The ordinance describes what we need in a submittal and this submittal does not have that information. We are here to see that the ordinance it met.”
The Commission granted waivers regarding landscaping after hearing from Avalon’s landscape architect.
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to postpone a decision on Hilltop’s final site plan approval until their April meeting in order to give Avalon’s architects and planners time to specify the details.