Group wants to bring sports complex to Macomb Township

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 15, 2016


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Public discussions began at a June 7 Macomb Township Planning Commission meeting for a possible 55-acre sports complex that would be located at the intersection of 23 Mile Road and Romeo Plank.

Elite Sport Ventures, a group that operates Elite Indoor Sports off of Hayes Road in Shelby Township, petitioned the commission for a conditional rezoning request as the first step in the development of the project.

Dominic Geric, one of the leaders of Elite and a real estate developer, has owned the plot of land near the St. John’s medical facility since 2014 with the purpose of developing the land for a sports complex.

“What our existing facility did is create demand. That’s why we bought this piece of property, because all of the clubs that are existing clientele came to us and said ‘We need more space and more fields,’” Geric said. “I think we need a first-class facility for all of the sports in the county instead of traveling to other counties.”

Geric’s property is currently zoned M-1, light industrial. Elite petitioned to have it rezoned to C-2, a general commercial district.

After hearing a presentation on the project from Elite legal counsel Tom Kalas, as well as concerns from residents who live near the site, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the conditional rezoning for the site.

The township’s Board of Trustees has final say to approve or deny the petition. A meeting date to place the petition on an agenda had yet to be set by press time.

“We’re recommending denial of the rezoning based on the fact the master plan calls for this site to be future industrial, and that the surrounding land uses are residential to the south and east,” said planning consultant Patrick Meagher. “Some of the potential impacts of the stated uses may have a negative impact with regard to light, noise and debris on neighboring residential uses.”

The project would be completed in four phases to include two indoor facilities and space for eight soccer fields and four baseball or softball diamonds.

The first phase would involve the construction of the first indoor facility, which would include an air structure sports dome with a permanent foundation and a permanent facade.

The dome would be large enough to accommodate one field that would measure 120 feet wide and 210 feet long, plus a regulation-size field to allow for 11-on-11 soccer games. The building attached to the dome would house offices, a fitness center, locker rooms, concessions and a restaurant with a full bar.

Phase two would bring the addition of more parking spaces, the four ball diamonds and eight to 14 soccer fields of varying sizes. Conceptual drawings also show plans for a covered pavilion, a children’s playscape, bathrooms, bocce ball courts, sand volleyball courts and a 2.5-mile walking path.

Phase three plans add a permanent indoor facility that would not exceed 400,000 square feet in size. Plans for that building include indoor volleyball and basketball courts, ice hockey rinks, a swimming pool, and more fields for soccer and lacrosse.

An area of 8 acres would remain following the first three phases, and Kalas said a strip of commercial developments including restaurants, retail and a hotel could be located in that area.

Carl Territo, a soccer coach at Utica High School, said the development would help high school and club teams in Macomb County avoid traveling to the western half of Oakland County to use the nearest suitable indoor facilities.

“When you look at any major stuff with soccer, we have to go to Wixom or Pontiac or way out in Hamburg. There really isn’t anything like this,” Territo said. “We’re spending money in other places. This area needs it, it’s time for it, and that’s what we’re going for.”

Several residents who live near the proposed development voiced concerns of noise, traffic and lighting during the planning meeting.

“A facility open to the public would be awful,” said Sharon Martin, who lives in the Highland Hills development. “Many elderly lives in these condos, and what do you look for in retirement? You look for peace, quiet and pretty landscape. None of us expected a big dome with public and lights and soccer fields and baseball diamonds as our direct neighbors.”

Gus Scibilia said he would prefer the area to remain an industrial zone.

“I will take my chances on a packing factory or anything that’s inside, because those are contained buildings,” Scibilia said. “Every building that is on those sites right now, everybody is inside. I don’t want people running around outside at all times of the night.”

Planning Commission member Aaron Tuckfield said the development has promise, but presently does not have enough details for how it would mitigate the effects on nearby homeowners.

“I think this is something that potentially could be an asset to the township, but to me there are far too many questions,” Tuckfield said. “It may be something that will be brought back in the future. Maybe there will be valid answers for it in the future.”