Compromise reached on Chaldean foundation wall

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 25, 2019

 Sterling Heights and the Chaldean Community Foundation recently reached a compromise on building a wall around part of the latter’s property.

Sterling Heights and the Chaldean Community Foundation recently reached a compromise on building a wall around part of the latter’s property.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

The Sterling Heights City Council recently finished climbing over a controversy involving a fence and a proposed wall around the Chaldean Community Foundation.  

At a June 4 meeting, the City Council voted 5-2 to modify a rezoning agreement with the Chaldean Community Foundation that will reduce the length of a wall that the original plan agreed to build. Mayor Pro Tem Liz Sierawski and Councilwoman Deanna Koski voted no.

Originally, a rezoning agreement committed the Chaldean Community Foundation, located near 15 Mile and Ryan roads, to erecting a masonry wall along its north and west property boundaries. The plan was in tandem with its goal of expanding its facility by an estimated 16,000 square feet and setting up more parking. 

In April, the foundation sought to modify the plan to eliminate the wall idea due to cost concerns, which were estimated at $125,000 for the originally proposed northern and western portions. The foundation hoped to buffer the property’s perimeter with arborvitae trees.  

A wooden privacy fence already exists along the property’s north and west boundaries. But some residents from the neighboring Palmer Woods North condo community say the fence, which is owned by the condo community’s developer, is old and inadequate.

Neighboring residents have also spoken at City Council meetings to air their fears about noise, a plan to put a dumpster nearer to the homes and rats. The City Council delayed a decision on the Chaldean Community Foundation’s request until the foundation could come up with a different plan regarding the wall.

During the June 4 meeting, City Planner and City Development Manager Chris McLeod outlined the foundation’s compromise proposal. 

“The applicant will retain their own landscaping as well along the west property line. The applicant indicated that they will construct the wall on the north side as required by ordinance,” McLeod said.

In addition, the foundation has agreed not to place a dumpster at the northwest portion of its property; therefore, it won’t be near some residences to the north. Instead, a dumpster will remain on the eastern portion of the property.

“So the residents on this portion of the development will be no further impacted by any additional dumpster noise or just the presence of the dumpster,” McLeod said.

Foundation President Martin Manna said he believes that the Chaldean Community Foundation addressed a lot of the issues that were raised. He said the plan still doesn’t include a wall on the western side of the property, but he said that portion abuts a street. 

Manna also said he hasn’t witnessed a rat problem on the property, and he wants to be a good neighbor. He said it’s possible a nearby developer might have the rat problems. 

“We take cleanliness seriously,” he said. 

During the topic’s public comment portion, several residents insisted that the original plan be followed so that the wall could be completely built along both the north and west sides.

Sterling Heights resident David Walker said he believes it’s a matter of fairness for the city to hold businesses and organizations equally accountable for their responsibilities under the law.

“Now that the rezoning is approved, the foundation wants to change the rules,” Walker said. “That’s not acceptable. … The residents of Palmer Woods North are not asking for special considerations.”

Councilman Michael Radtke called it a “hard case,” but he supported the amendment to the rezoning plan.

“The western wall borders a street,” he said. “There’s no residences there. I think the fence is fine for the time being.”

Sierawski asked city officials whether the community foundation would be able to put a dumpster in the northwest corner if the City Council rejected the amended proposal, and she learned that it could. Nevertheless, she explained that she wanted to reject the proposal.

“I believe that the wall needs to be maintained as the ordinance does describe,” Sierawski said.

Koski was skeptical that the foundation’s hours will remain the same as its clientele, usage and programs expand. She wanted Manna to build the entire wall, north and west, and to keep his property contained.

“Cement walls are barriers for sound,” she said. “It’s a barrier for the little creatures that we really don’t want to invite.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said he visited the residential site and noted that the homes are close to the community foundation, adding that they “got a pretty good view right over that fence.” But he doubted whether a fence or a wall would offer much sight or sound protection, and he explained his decision to vote for the amended proposal.

“I’m certainly comfortable without the wall on the western side of the property,” he said. “I’m satisfied that there can be a compromise here and we can work together.”

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.

Advertisement