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Attached homes would preserve space on environmentally protected parcel in Troy

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 5, 2020

 The proposed development, denoted by the red box, would feature 32 attached condos.

The proposed development, denoted by the red box, would feature 32 attached condos.

Map by Jason Clancy

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TROY — The Troy City Council will consider a request to conditionally rezone just under 2 acres on the east side of Rochester Road, south of Shallowdale Drive, north of Wattles Road, for 32 attached condos comprising nine buildings.

The proposed development features 2 1/2 story, 1,400- to 1,700-square-foot condos with attached garages, which the developer said represents the “missing middle” housing stock needed in Troy. The missing middle has been identified as smaller single-family homes, duplexes, fourplexes, lofts and townhouses.

The plans preserve a portion of the parcel zoned environmental protection as open space and include a dry detention basin and landscape screening between the new homes and existing homes on Shallowdale Drive.

The rezoning request was first before the Planning Commission at its Oct. 22 meeting. The Planning Commission postponed the request to give the developer, MNK Troy 1, time to address residents’ concerns, which included headlights shining into nearby homes, screening between the development and the existing neighborhood, and fears that a pond would add to the geese problem in the area.

The Planning Commission voted 8-0 Jan. 28 to recommend approval on the request to rezone two parcels from one-family residential and environmental protection zoning to one-family residential, attached.

Planning Commissioner Carlton Faison was absent.

The Planning Commission is the recommending body for conditional rezoning requests.

John Thompson, a spokesman for the developer, told the Planning Commission that the plan to reserve the portion currently designated as environmentally protected open space within the plan satisfies the intent of the Planning Commission when the parcel was zoned EP in 2002.

“This meets the definition of the missing middle and achieves moderate density,” Thompson said. “We think we’ve answered concerns to satisfy the city and landowners. EP was commonly used to provide a buffer. I believe it hasn’t been used since 2006. The EP  area prohibits us from developing the property.”

He noted that the critical issue to nearby residents was the geese from nearby Briggs Park. “They asked us not to create another pond. So we created a dry pond,” Thompson said.

“It’s difficult and irresponsible to predict what the intent of the EP zoning was 20 years ago,” said Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, of the 2002 zoning designation. “We have to think of the context today.”

The conditions being offered include an open space easement equal to the EP portion of the just under 1-acre portion of the site and a dry detention basin with a 15-foot landscape buffer, but there is no site plan, only concept sketches.

“We can’t require the applicant to come forward with a site plan,” Assistant City Attorney Julie Quinlan Dufrane told the Planning Commission. “We would like to see it, but we can’t require it.”

“We are supporting it at this point in time,” said Jim McCauley, the president of the Shallowdale Homeowners Association. “Re-orientating the buildings, we feel, addressed a lot of our concerns. We support a dry retention basin. Our two major concerns were headlights and geese.”

Community Development Director R. Brent Savidant noted that the role of the Planning Commission on rezoning requests is to make recommendations, and the City Council’s role is to take action. “Then they come back to the Planning Commission with a site plan,” Savidant said.

“It’s refreshing to see the developer and neighborhood come to a compromise,” said Planning Commissioner Marianna Perakis.

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