Macomb Township rejects medium-density development

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 6, 2013

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Board of Trustees unanimously denied the rezoning of land along Romeo Plank Road from low density to medium density at its Jan. 28 meeting.

The owner of the strip of land M and C Limited from Utica wanted to develop a residential complex with a density of 8.5 units per acre. If the development had been approved, it would have been one of the most intense residential projects in Macomb.

The planning commission initially denied the request for rezoning at their Jan. 15 meeting because the requested density was not in line with the township’s master plan and because it is out of character from the development patterns in the existing area, said Jerry Schmeiser, a planning consultant for the township.

“The master plan depicts the area as single-family residential,” said Schmeiser.

The plot in question is more than 15 acres along the east side of Romeo Plank between 22 Mile and 23 Mile roads.

Thomas Kalas, an attorney representing the developer, said the unit would act as a good transition between the commercial zones to the north and south. He also said that the middle branch of the Clinton River would act as a buffer between the single-family subdivisions directly to its east.

“There’s a need for multifamily in this area,” said Kalas to the board before the vote.

Township Clerk Michael Koehs said in a phone interview that, yes, the township does need some higher-density areas but not where single-family developments already have been constructed. “That part of the township has already been built up,” Koehs said.

The township already has multifamily units at 24 Mile Road and Romeo Plank built at five units per acre. “In that area, the development would have been compatible with the surrounding development,” Koehs said.

When it became clear the board was going to uphold the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the rezoning, Trustee Dino Bucci offered the developer an ultimatum.

Bucci asked the developer if he would be willing to rein in the density of the units to five per acre, which is comparable to other developments farther north along Romeo Plank, if the board agreed to table the vote and allow the developer to resubmit his lower-density plans to the planning consultants.

But the developer declined the ultimatum.

“It doesn’t make sense to have a lower-density residential abutting against a major road like Romeo Plank and close to a shopping center,” Kalas said. “So we feel the requested (medium-density residential) is appropriate for that area.”

Koehs said the developer can appeal the board’s decision in Macomb County Circuit Court.