Blossom Ridge Project Discussed for Hours, But No Decision – Again
Planning Commission members say they hope to make a decision on the controversial project at its February meeting.
The Oakland Township Planning Commission might finally make an official motion on the Blossom Ridge rezoning request — next month.
At Tuesday’s meeting at Township Hall, Donald Westphal of Donald C. Westphal Associates spoke on behalf of Moceri Development and presented a few changes to the proposed request, and there was a handful of public comments. After that, the commission spent hours discussing the Blossom Ridge proposal, which would rezone the property at the northwest corner of Adams and Dutton Roads.
Blossom Ridge is a proposed continuing care senior living community that would be located at the corner of Adams and Dutton Roads and offer 282 units on 42 acres of land. Moceri Development is hoping to rezone the property from Medium Residential Density (MRD) to Multiple Family Residential Density with Planned Residential Rezoning Overlay (RM-PRRO) in order to build Blossom Ridge.
The request first came before the commission in the summer and is a controversial topic that has been revisited monthly.
A Monthslong Debate
Residents have packed commission meetings every month since the summer to register opposition to the development, and have formed a group, Residents for Responsible Growth in Oakland Township, to fight the rezoning. Tuesday's meeting brought a few dedicated individuals, however just over a dozen residents were in attendance at the meeting - far fewer than past months.
Every meeting something has been tweaked by the petitioner and public comment is made opposing the project. At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Planning Commission Chairman James Carter and Commissioner Marc Edwards said they intend to make a motion one way or another next month.
“This is an enhancement to the community, not only for its deed as the need for housing of the elderly and seniors, but an enhancement in regards to its architectural landscape features, in regards to its preservation, in regards to its well thought out and thought through land use plan,” said Dominic Moceri of Moceri Companies.
The most notable change in the project from last month included a T-shaped entrance as opposed to a roundabout to improve public safety, resulting in the loss of a couple of units.
The commission’s discussions circled around four concepts that Carter noted commissioners needed to consider:
- eligibility for the zoning to PRRO
Carter said several times that the use of the land is in line with the vision of the master plan, and Moceri commented on the density of Blossom Ridge by offering a chart full of comparisons to neighboring subdivisions – showing that Blossom Ridge offers much more open, unused land.
Still, residents rose to voice their opposition to the project, noting that regardless of traffic studies, they believe the extra traffic burden is undesirable and that the project would hurt neighboring home values. In fact, residents asked that the commission request an area Realtor assess the projected impact on property values of homes if the project were approved.
Resident Bob Sirna, was one of handful of residents that rose to speak at the meeting.
“We’ve all been talking here about the character of our township, the rural character, the nature of our bedroom community and this corner of Adams and Dutton as an entryway to our township," Sirna said.
"This will be a duplexed rental development of 282 rental units…masquerading as a senior development by deed and PRRO as a business; very intense business. I don’t think this is what you, as authors of the master plan five or six years ago, intended when you looked at this location as a senior development," Sirna continued.
Though traffic is a concern for the commissioners, Edwards noted that he is pleased that the project will produce less peak time traffic than if the property were developed into the comparable 61 homes that the zoning would currently allow.
The study does show that traffic will increase overall, but because of the use of the property it should not have as much of an impact on peak travel times. One resident suggested that there would be numerous ambulance runs, due to the age of the residing population, that were unaccounted for in the traffic study.
Likewise, secretary Janine Saputo and Commissioner Amy Carels had a hard time coming to terms with the traffic study.
“My reality is different than that. It’s all peak time when you’re on Adams Road,” Carels said. “I’m not ready to finalize my decision on the traffic.”
Another large point of discussion was the use of the buildings – whether or not they would be available for purchase, or just to rent. Both Saputo and commissioner Barbara Wolak said they would like residents to have the opportunity the purchase some of the dwellings, and not restrict their options. However Township Planner Larry Nix intervened, noting that was not a decision for the Planning Commission to make. Moceri commented as well saying he would not be making that decision now.
Between now and the next meeting Carter hopes the commissioners can review the information and be prepared to make a motion – either to approve or deny the project.
For more Blossom Ridge coverage, click here.