Meeting highlights future township work

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published March 22, 2017

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A joint meeting between Macomb Township’s Board of Trustees, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals was held March 15 to discuss ongoing and future projects throughout the township.

Officials from the township’s engineering, planning and building departments each presented to board members several topics that have frequently been subjects of discussion at meetings recently.

Township engineer Jim VanTiflin opened the meeting by discussing the township’s ongoing sidewalk program, how far the program has come and the challenges it has faced.

VanTiflin said the first phase of the sidewalk program is ongoing and is mainly focused around the intersection at 21 Mile and Heydenreich roads, near the location of five schools, including Dakota High School.

The next portion of the project will be in the area of 21 Mile and Romeo Plank roads in order to connect commercial areas with Waldenburg Park.

Areas near Macomb Corners Park, Card and 21 Mile roads, and Fairchild and 21 Mile roads will also see work done in the early segments of the project.

“We’re trying to focus on the schools, the parks and the commercial areas first, basically in that order,” VanTiflin said during the meeting.

Planning commission chair Charles Oliver asked VanTiflin to go over the challenges of the sidewalk program, and VanTiflin said that acquiring easements has been a lengthy progress to get work started.

“Trying to acquire easements for sidewalks is almost as hard as trying to acquire easements for roads,” VanTiflin said. “People are very passionate on sidewalk easement acquisition. We’re trying to fill in gaps where houses have been there for 30, 40 or 50 years and the homes are very close to the road… It’s very difficult to make people understand the public good that we’re doing in connecting the sidewalks.”

VanTiflin also discussed work related to future road widening on 23 Mile Road, as well as the potential construction of a new public safety building on 23 Mile near Romeo Plank, where Fire Station No. 1 is.

Construction on 23 Mile could begin this fall, VanTiflin said, in a stretch from Fairchild Road to North Avenue. The next phases would move from east to west, from North Avenue to Card Road, then Card Road to Heydenreich, and ending from Heydenreich to Romeo Plank.

“The reason for that phasing is the township has a lot of work to do along 23 Mile with regard to water main and sanitary sewer,” VanTiflin said. “The sanitary sewer system that was built there is not sized for the current population projection we have for the north end of the township.”

Township planning director Patrick Meagher focused much of his discussion on changes that may be coming to township ordinances, the master plan, recreation plan and program for capital improvements.

“I want to rewrite the (zoning ordinance) in a more organized fashion, using a quasi-form based approach, which looks at more graphics, charts and simplified regulations,” Meagher said.

Meagher and other officials at the meeting said that maintaining a zoning ordinance that an average person can read and understand is key to the review of the ordinances.

On recreation, Meagher said the planning department will look at getting a new recreation plan done to reexamine township-owned properties for parks and recreation opportunities and potential improvements for existing parks.

For a capital improvement program, Meagher said the intent of its review will be to balance the need for assets being requested like road improvements, fire trucks or parks, with the immediate costs of those items, in order to sustain a strong financial position.

Building official Joe Maples talked about how his office is updating its technology, and he also previewed a builder’s forum in the township April 25.

The meeting allowed township officials to also discuss any matters they thought should be brought up in future discussions.

Trustee Nancy Nevers said that the board should consider the extension of Broughton Road to at least 23 Mile Road, and potentially through to Heydenreich Road.

“I’ve spoken with Mr. VanTiflin and Mr. Meagher, and they agree that it’s an issue whose time has come,” Nevers said. “We have an awful lot on our plate, and there’s always issues with eminent domain and so forth, but to me, this is an extremely important issue for the success of our township.”

Planning commission member Jasper Sciuto introduced the concept of a pickleball court to be installed at the senior center on 23 Mile Road.

He also would like to see a township farmer’s market, and suggested that it take place on Thursdays or Fridays in the fall, near 25 Mile and Broughton roads.