Plans for attached condos spark outcry from neighbors

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 23, 2019

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TROY — The Troy City Council will consider the rezoning of 1.2 acres along Rochester Road, north of Long Lake Road, after the Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning.

Over a dozen residents spoke in opposition during the sometimes raucous Oct. 8 meeting, prompting Assistant City Attorney Julie Quinlan Dufrane to say she would clear the chambers unless the crowd refrained from making comments from their seats.

The Planning Commission voted 5-4 to recommend approval of the rezoning from one-family residential to one-family attached residential zoning.

The Planning Commission is the recommending body on conditional rezoning requests, and the City Council has final approval.

Commissioners Karen Crusse, Barbara Fowler, Michael Hutson, John Tagle and Ollie Apahidean supported the measure.

Commissioners David Lambert and Sadek Rahman, and Commission Chair Carlton Faison and Commission Vice Chair Tom Krent opposed it.

Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, said the rezoning request was consistent with the city’s master plan, which calls for mixed uses along Rochester Road and more intensity in the neighborhood node zoning designation.

Community Development Director R. Brent Savidant told the Planning Commission that a conditional rezoning request had been submitted for the same site in 2018. The council unanimously denied that rezoning request July 8. In that request, OHM Advisors, the city’s traffic consultant, determined that the proposed development — three 2 1/2-story buildings each with with three or four units, for a total of 10 units — would generate five additional trips during morning rush hour and eight more trips during evening rush hour, which OHM deemed minimal.

Under a parallel plan, four single-family homes could be constructed on the site by right, meaning no rezoning would be needed.

Savidant said the new rezoning request does not contain conditions. He said the 2008 update to the city’s master plan, the first comprehensive update to the plan in 40 years, established Rochester Road land use from Wattles Road northward for more intense development. This includes low-rise office buildings and multifamily zoning.

Savidant said that while the current application by developer Erion Nikolla included a nonbinding sketch, the maximum buildout would reflect the previous plan if the rezoning were approved.

The developer on the previous request, Renis Nushaj, told the Planning Commission previously that the cost of the units would be in the low $300,000 range and that the intention was not to have leases on the units.

“If the property were rezoned, the applicant is not required to submit anything close to the concept plan,” Savidant explained. “It’s essentially meaningless.”

“We’re trying to follow the master plan land use,” Nikolla said. “We pursued this new approach.”

Sylvanwood Drive resident Tara Hulett said she moved to Troy from Clawson a year ago.

“I would never have bought the house. It was kind of like old Troy for us. It does not fit the neighborhood,” she said of the proposed development.

Alison Peck, also a Sylvanwood Drive resident, said it is “a very quaint neighborhood. We’re back on the safety issue. It (the proposed development) will have a major impact on the neighborhood.”

“Everyone here is dead set against it,” said Sylvanwood Drive resident Dave Orselli. “Everybody in the community knows it does not fit.”

Tagle said he was not so sure he could “jump on board” with the determination that the request is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

Hutson said the Planning Commission is constrained by law to follow the guidelines to determine if requests for rezonings are valid: Is it consistent with the master plan? Is there adequate transition to adjoining neighborhoods? Would it not adversely impact the public health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood? Is it not expected to significantly worsen traffic?

Hutson said the safety problems the residents cited — a lack of sidewalks and motorists speeding — currently exist, and no efforts have been made to correct those issues.

“The master plan is telling the developer: This is what we want on Rochester Road,” Apahidean said.

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