More than 1,500 new homes to be added in Macomb

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 17, 2013

 New housing developments that were put on hold several years ago are getting the green light once again.

New housing developments that were put on hold several years ago are getting the green light once again.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A trio of new housing developments in the eastern part of the township that were put on hold several years ago are getting the green light once again.

The most significant of these developments will be the new Legacy Estates, which will be built near the southeast corner of North Avenue and 22 Mile Road. The subdivision will consist of 866 total units — single-family houses, site condominiums and apartments — on a 195-acre property.

As attorney Larry Dloski told the Macomb Township Board of Trustees on April 10, the township entered into a consent judgment with the former property owners  in 2000. A site plan for the development had already been approved by the township Planning Commission, some of the roads and sewers had been installed, and three homes had been constructed. But at that point, Dloski said, further construction came to a halt, “presumably because of the economy.”

Township Clerk Michael Koehs explained in a subsequent interview that the original developers had filed a lawsuit against Macomb but lost the case because “what they wanted to build violated township ordinances.” The Legacy Estates property was later purchased by a new owner, Lombardo Homes, who came before the board on April 10 to request an amendment to the original consent judgment.

As Koehs put it, “Now, because of a change in what homeowners want and a change in the local economy, the new developer wants us to amend the terms of the judge’s ruling.”

According to Dloski, the amendment proposed by Lombardo Homes seeks a shift to the township’s higher-density R-2 residential zoning district; seeks removal of the provision requiring that all homes built on the property be at least 1,200 square feet; requests that all permit approvals be conducted by township administration, rather than the Planning Commission; and removes the requirement that a clubhouse, pool and tennis courts be constructed on the property.

As Greg Windingland, vice president of land development for Lombardo Homes, explained to the board, “We’re finding that, for the most part, residents that are moving into a new community do not want to support the cost of those amenities. They’re extremely expensive to install, they’re expensive to maintain, and as far as the impact on their monthly association dues goes, they’re a relatively large-ticket item. And we’re finding that, even though the economy is certainly improving … those types of amenities are not conducive to the development that we’re proposing.”

Windingland added that Lombardo Homes opted to convert the lots on the property that had originally been designated for traditional condominiums into site condominiums because “that (option) provides for better financing opportunities for the home purchasers.”

Other than that change, Windingland pointed out that the overall density of the development would remain identical to the original site plan. “The same road configuration, the same utility configuration and the same building footprint are all in place,” he said.

Windingland noted that, for single-family homes, the smallest ranches that Lombardo Homes builds are about 1,500 square feet, while the smallest colonials that they build are 1,700 square feet. In addition to houses and condos, the development includes space in the northwest quadrant for an apartment community and space in the northeast quadrant for some other type of multi-family homes. However, Windingland said, “We’ve decided to leave those quadrants vacant for the time being.”

But the board took issue with some of the language in the proposed amendment, citing concerns over Lombardo Homes’ request to remove the 1,200-square-foot minimum size requirement. They ultimately voted unanimously to table the item until their April 24 meeting in order to allow the township attorney, engineer and Planning Commission to make some final changes to the amendment.

“Township ordinance does not allow any homes less than 1,200 square feet to be built here, but they wanted to take that language out for some reason,” Koehs said. “They asked us to eliminate that requirement, even though they said that they don’t build any properties smaller than 1,500 square feet. Now why would they do that?”

When contacted a few days later, Koehs stated that the township had reached an agreement with Lombardo Homes on the amendment language that will appear before the board on April 24.

At the April 10 meeting, the board also approved site plans for two other housing developments, both of which had been postponed since 2005. They unanimously supported both the preliminary plan and the final plan for Stillwater Crossings, which will include 513 site condominiums on the north side of 23 Mile Road, about a quarter-mile west of Fairchild Road. They also voted unanimously in favor of the preliminary plan for Wellington Estates, which will feature 145 site condominiums on the south side of 24 Mile Road, about one and a quarter miles east of Romeo Plank.

Koehs pointed out that, like Legacy Estates, these two developments had been temporarily halted by the recession but are now back on track. “Those site plans were actually first approved by the board several years ago,” he said. “The original developers backed out at some point because of the economy, but the overall plans did not really change. So that made our job as a board (on April 10) really easy.”