Sports complex rejected for rezoning

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 29, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A request for a conditional rezoning for a 55-acre sports complex in Macomb Township was rejected by the Macomb Township Board of Trustees during a June 22 meeting.

The township’s Planning Commission recommended denial of the request during a June 7 planning meeting when the petitioner, Elite Sport Ventures, presented its project.

“The applicant has provided conditions to limit the uses, but regardless of the limitations, the potential impacts of the stated uses in the conditions may have a negative impact with regard to light, noise, dust and debris on the neighboring residential areas,” Planning Consultant Patrick Meagher said during the June 22 meeting. “There is no prevalent zoning pattern to support commercial uses at this point.”

The property in question is currently zoned M-1, light industrial. Elite petitioned to have the area of land, which is located at 23 Mile Road and Romeo Plank, rezoned to C-2, a general commercial district.

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

Elite also operates an indoor sports facility in Shelby Township.

“We expected them to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation,” said Tom Kalas, legal counsel for Elite. “We think it’s wrong, but it is what it is, and we’ll proceed accordingly.”

Kalas said legal action would be expected to begin by the week of June 29 in Macomb County Circuit Court.

“The current property is zoned M-1 and is sitting vacant, and will continue to sit vacant. The demand here is for recreational facilities. We have leagues ready to go and ready to sign up with all types of users, all types of interest, all types of demand for this project,” Kalas said.

During his presentation to the board June 22, Kalas appealed to the notion that families with athletes frequently travel to the western side of Oakland County for sports facilities.

“It’s very important to provide to community residents and residents in the nearby communities facilities such as this, so they can take their kids to recreational sports in an area that’s by their homes, and in an area where they don’t have to hop in the car at peak rush hour and drive across town to Pontiac or Novi,” Kalas said.

Prior to the board’s unanimous denial of the conditional rezoning, Kalas provided details on the proposed complex.

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 has said a strip of commercial developments — including restaurants, retail stores and a hotel — could be located in that area.

Planning Commission member Aaron Tuckfield said following the June 7 meeting that 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.”

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