The narrow roadway and lack of sidewalks on McClure Drive were factors in recent rezoning efforts.

The narrow roadway and lack of sidewalks on McClure Drive were factors in recent rezoning efforts.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Developer asks for rezonings in Troy after losing lawsuit

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 12, 2019


TROY — The Troy City Council will consider Tollbrook LLC’s request to rezone three parcels comprising 2.5 acres along Big Beaver Road and McClure Drive from single family to a Big Beaver zoning district after the Planning Commission voted 5-3 to not recommend approval of the request at its May 28 meeting.

A recommendation to approve the rezoning on the first parcel failed 3-5 at the May 28 meeting, with Planning Commissioners Karen Crusse, Michael Hutson and Ollie Apahidean voting yes. A recommendation to deny passed in a 5-3 vote, with Crusse, Hutson and Apahidean voting no.

A vote to deny rezoning of the second parcel passed 5-3, with Crusse, Hutson and Apahidean voting no.

Planning Commissioner Tom Krent recused himself.

Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, told the Planning Commission that permitted uses in the Big Beaver zoning district are multifamily dwellings and shopping centers. He said a Big Beaver corridor study calls for mixed use for that area, as well as transition of intensity.

The Big Beaver zoning is designed to promote high-density and mixed-use projects with vertical integration.

Carlisle explained that the applicant submitted a concept plan showing a three-story mixed-use building and a three-story apartment building. The applicant has only submitted the concept plan for consideration, and if the rezoning is approved, is not bound to the concept plan.

“Due to the unknown use, we cannot determine if it is compatible,” Carlisle said. “We find that rezoning standards have not been met.”

He added that the site has gone through litigation. “Our recommendation is not a surprise to the applicant.”

“We expressed concerns to the applicant’s planner,” said Troy Planning Director R. Brent Savidant.

On May 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th District affirmed a lower court ruling that the Troy City Council’s denial of developer Safet Stafa’s (of Tollbrook) conditional rezoning request to allow a five-story apartment building adjacent to a residential neighborhood did not violate the developer’s constitutional rights.

After listening to over 50 residents speak at the April 10, 2017, City Council meeting, the council voted 4-3 to deny Stafa’s conditional rezoning request for three lots — 2.57 acres total — from one-family residential to a Big Beaver district for property on the east side of McClure Drive, north of Big Beaver Road, east of Crooks Road.

Residents’ concerns centered on the transition between the five-story building and residential homes, traffic impacts, and safety concerns from additional pedestrian and vehicular traffic on McClure Drive, a 20-foot-wide street with no sidewalks.

The decision required a supermajority for approval because residents from more than 130 households had signed a petition opposing the rezoning.

Then-Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Hodorek, Councilmen Paul McCown and Ethan Baker, and Councilwoman Edna Abrahim opposed the rezoning. Mayor Dane Slater, and Councilmen Dave Henderson and Ed Pennington supported the rezoning.


Recommendation with stipulations
On Feb. 14, 2017, the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval, with stipulations, of the conditional rezoning from one-family residential to a Big Beaver district.

The stipulations included traffic-calming devices, an 8-foot masonry wall as a buffer to adjacent homes, a sign prohibiting right turns from the development to the adjacent neighborhood, and a 10-year lease with a nearby building owner for a parking agreement for additional spaces.

The City Council has the final say on rezoning requests.

“Conditional (rezoning) didn’t work out so well for us last time,” Robert Carson, the attorney for Tollbrook, told the Planning Commission May 28.

“There is no basis in the law to seek rezoning through the conditional rezoning process,” Carson said, noting that the site is designated in the Troy master plan as a Big Beaver zoning district. “This application meets every criterion of the state of Michigan and fits within the type of zoning the city brought forward. This is the zoning the master plan calls out.”

Carson said that a concept plan is a waste of time if they are not bound by it.

“Not knowing the use is not a reason for denial,” said Carmine Avantini, a planner for Tollbrook.

Over a dozen residents spoke during the public hearings for both parcels.

John Sharp, a resident on Muerknoll Drive, said the site should stay single family to protect the residents’ property rights.

Barbara Dawson, a resident on Boulan Drive, said the designation of the area as the Big Beaver zoning district was made before a number of new homes were built on existing lots in the neighborhood.

Anne Marie Valentine, a resident on Muer Drive, said the neighborhood “doesn’t look anything like it did in 2008,” the last time the master plan was updated.

“The problem I’m having with the petitioner is the unknown,” said Planning Commissioner John Tagle.

Planning Commission Chair Carlton Faison said he had concerns about traffic, safety, density and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

“This project does not impact the existing safety conditions there today,” Apahidean said.