Dear Oakland Township Residents,
The following is a summary of the May 8 Oakland Township Board of Trustees meeting reviewing the agenda item on the Blossom Ridge rezoning application for the NW corner of Adams and Dutton roads intersection. The agenda item was to consider making a motion for the 1st reading of the amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to change the zoning for these parcels from medium density residential (MRD) to high density multi-family (RM) zoning. The board decided to table the vote again based upon 2 of the 7 trustees being absent and used the time for further deliberations.
The key issues raised at this meeting by the Trustees were the density of the revised Blossom Ridge design and the impact Blossom Ridge will have on the township emergency services. The applicant, Mr. Moceri, was requested to comment on the request from Trustee Mike Bailey that the density be lowered further from the current 238 unit design proposal. Mr. Moceri answered that he would not lower it further and then proceeded to lecture the board and the residents in attendance on many of the key issues that have been identified by the past RRG-OT efforts and other residents.
It was obvious from the many residents in attendance at the meeting that the vast majority of them continue to be strongly against the design of the Blossom Ridge senior living center which exceeds the Master Plan density guideline and non-compliant RM zoning building dimensions (length, unit square footage and 3 stories) and does not fit the community character of Oakland Township. The majority of the residents reacted very negatively to the applicants evasive responses to the core concerns of density (as questioned by Trustee Bailey and previously by Trustee Workings), building dimensions (as questioned by Trustee Thomas at the April 10 BOT meeting) and impact of emergency services (as previously questioned by Trustee Mckay and followed up at the May 8 meeting by Trustee Workings). The applicant addressed these issues by calling them “Red Herrings” and saying they were merely “spin” and then proceeded to recharacterize the discussion with the following key points:
- The applicant argued that there are 20 single family dwelling homes in the township that are more than 400 ft in length and therefore the Blossom Park independent/assisted living building at approximately 450 ft. should be acceptable. It is "spin" to compare an institutional living building that will contain 134 units (with many units below the minimum RM Zoning Ordinance square footage requirements) and support staff/ facilities with a large single family home. An institutional building with 134 units and additional administrative, medical and significant external support staff services is not equivalent to one large single family dwelling. The residents were not buying the "spin" and voiced their dissatisfaction at the meeting in very clear words.
- The applicant stated that the "RM" zoning ordinance is the only ordinance that has a building length restriction....which implies that it isn't fair or it should be changed. The Zoning Ordinance is written to control the type of high density growth that will occur in the township and to protect property owners from non-conforming developments. The RM classification does have a building length restriction, i.e. 135 feet maximum horizontal length and to ignore the restriction is merely an attempt to redefine the Zoning Ordinance to fit the Blossom Ridge design versus changing the proposed design to fit the Zoning Ordinance requirements.
- The applicant suggested if you look at single family dwelling homes in the township with walkout basements from the rear elevation that you will see what amounts to "3 stories”, i.e. basement, 1st and 2nd floors, therefore the Blossom Park building which has a portion of the design as 3 stories in the front building elevation is comparable. Again, the applicant chose to divert the discussion away from the RM Zoning Ordinance requirements, i.e. 2 stories maximum and compared the Blossom Park 134 unit institutional building to the rear elevation of a single family dwelling that is compliant with the MRD Zoning Ordinance standards.
- The applicant described the traffic impact as "far less" by using the Institute of Traffic Engineers statistics for the two 1 hour peak periods is 64% lower than a MRD development. Of course the overall traffic impact is 12% higher based upon the same statistical data. The Board of Trustees live in Oakland Township and are well aware of the traffic concerns for this area through personal experience and significant residents testimonials describing the problem. An argument that traffic is a non-impact issue for Blossom Ridge doesn't pass the "common sense" test of experience. The relocation of the main entrance to Dutton road is a critical need for a senior living center design that would meet Zoning Ordinance building and density requirements and provide a "common sense" solution for traffic in an area that is already overstressed.
- The applicant continued to position the Blossom Ridge design as rural with greater than 50% of the land as “open space”. Unfortunately, he has a different definition for "rural characteristics" versus many of the residents. The applicant views a high density development with a large institutional building that has surrounding berms and trees to be rural where as residents see Oakland Township as described in the Master Plan as a rural bedroom community which is dominated by single family dwelling homes in scenic settings absent the look of high density housing with a large institutional building.
- The applicant read selective excerpts from the personal letters of support for the revised Blossom Ridge design from Mr. Sirna, Mr. Hein and Mr. Patton highlighting their support as individuals. These 3 individuals are the legal Directors of the 501(c)4 Non-profit Corporation which was formed for the fund raising of the RRG-OT citizen action group. It is ironic and perhaps coincidental that these 3 individuals were targeted to gain agreements of support for Blossom Ridge, to misrepresent their individual agreements as founders of the RRG-OT and in turn essentially eliminate the funding efforts of the RRG-OT opposition activities.
The May 8 meeting highlighted the frustrations the Board of Trustees and residents are having with the evasive answers provided by the applicant and that both the Trustees and residents recognized the "spin" that is occurring and the majority do not appear to be buying it! The appropriate and targeted questioning by the Board of Trustees was much appreciated by the residents. The highlighting of the major areas of concern with the current Blossom Ridge design, their suggestions for changes, and assumingly, if not acted upon by the applicant, their rejection as non-compliant deficiencies will represent the interest of many Oakland Township residents.
The next Board of Trustee meeting is scheduled for June 12 at the Township Hall beginning at 7:00 pm. Resident attendance continues to have a very real impact on the evaluation process. Thank you to the residents that attended this meeting and those that voiced their opinions on the Blossom Ridge proposal. Residents are strongly encouraged to attend the next board meeting and continue to voice their opinions on the proposed Blossom Ridge rezoning application.
This 'Letter to the Editor' was originally signed 'Blossom Ridge Referendum Action Group'. Names of the residents were added on June 6.