To the dismay of many residents in the audience at Tuesday’s Oakland Township Board of Trustees meeting, board members voted in favor of rezoning a 41.84-acre plot of land at the northwest corner of Adams and Dutton roads, which would allow for the development of Blossom Ridge, a proposed senior living community.
In order for the 238-unit project to be developed, the applicant, Moceri Development, needs the board to approve an ordinance that will amend Ordinance 16, which allows the property to be rezoned from a Medium Density Residential (MDR) to Multifamily Residential Density with Planned Residential Rezoning Overlay (RM-PRRO). The board voted 4-3 in favor of the first reading of the ordinance, which in effect grants preliminary approval for Blossom Ridge.
Now that the first reading has been approved, if Township Attorney Steve Joppich and Dominic Moceri of Moceri Development can negotiate a PRRO agreement, then it will return to the board for a second reading in the near future.
Trustees Michael Bailey and Sharon McKay, along with Clerk Judy Workings, voted against the motion, citing the density of the project as one of their major concerns. Though the development has been reduced in size from 282 units to 238, some board members said they believe there is still room to shave off additional units.
“The density issue tends to bother me a bit — actually it bothers me a lot," Workings said.
Workings presented supplemental documents from when the Master Plan was being developed, showing that the desired number of units (3-5) per acre is not an arbitrary number. Instead, the documents she read from noted that the number was designed to keep the township from over-zoning and taking on more than it could service.
“My point here is to me the 3-5 units is essential," she said.
Trustee Marc Edwards countered her point saying their was room for exception in the Master Plan when it comes to senior housing, something the township is lacking.
The motion to move forward with the project outlined 14 conditions for Joppich to add to the agreement that the applicant would have to abide by. Conditions included landscaping maintainenance and that the maximum density should not exceed 238 units.
The project was approved by the planning commission in February after months of discussing the development and was tabled two times at the Board of Trustees prior to Tuesday’s meeting.
Edwards noted that he believes that approving the rezoning is the only legal way to vote on the issue.
Many residents at meeting still oppose project
The proposed development has been a source of controversy for residents for months. Many have voiced their concerns about a possible drop in property values, traffic, uptick in emergency services needed and density of the project.
Residents and board members had previously asked for statistics on the stress on emergency services the development would cause. Township Supervisor Joan Fogler read off a report from Chief Bill Benoit at Tuesday’s meeting which noted that an estimated increase of about 180 emergency calls could be expected annually based on his findings. He also stated in the letter Fogler read that the fire department, “is and always will be ready to serve".
Moceri assured the board that 'safety is our foremost concern'.
Meeting attendees asked a variety of questions about Benoit’s findings and continued to plead with the board to move the project to one of the other areas outlined as suited for a senior living community in the Master Plan.
“I really feel that if the board approves this, that this will supersede the debacle of and that this will haunt this township and those subdivisions that surround us for decades to come," resident Judy Keyes said.
Likewise a resident living on the 2000 block of Averdeen Court, who did credit Moceri for constructing 'world class' developments, said, "It's not about not wanting development, it's about wanting development that makes sense, that fits within the fiber of the Oakland Township community."
For more Blossom Ridge coverage, click here.