West Bloomfield denies rezoning request for Stone Hill development plan

Residents: Stone Hill of West Bloomfield is too big

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 9, 2018

WEST BLOOMFIELD — The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees recently denied the rezoning request of Stone Hill of West Bloomfield, a senior independent living development that has drawn criticism from the community. 

At a March 5 board meeting, trustees held a public hearing to gather more opinions from the public about the proposed development, located at the site of the former Eagle Elementary School, 29410 14 Mile Road. Previously, there was a public hearing held as part of a work study meeting in January where residents brought up concerns. 

On March 5, developers once again went before the trustees seeking approval of a rezoning of the property from single-family residential to a Planned Unit Development, or PUD. The developers, PIRHL of Farmington Hills, amended their proposal to not include a PILOT program, like previously planned. 

PILOT stands for “payment in lieu of taxes,” and developers requested it because the development would have affordable housing for seniors. Property owners would pay a set amount of money instead of taxes on the affordable units in the development. 

Fifty-one of the units were planned for the program to offer low-income housing for seniors, but both residents and the township board voiced their concerns at a previous meeting about how the PILOT program would affect the rest of the units and the payment of taxes. 

The developers decided to redesign the proposal to not include the units. 

Trustees denied Stone Hill its rezoning because, they said, it doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications for the PUD.

“I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the development itself, what it is and how it affects the community,” said Trustee Howard Rosenberg. “I just don’t see it fitting into this community. I believe this isn’t the right development for this area.”

Rosenberg’s thoughts were echoed by the board, save for Trustee Jim Manna, who supports the development because he thinks it’s “needed.” 

More than a dozen members of the public spoke at the meeting, and trustees noted that they received 12 emails about the development. 

Residents’ main complaint was the size of the building — they said the three-story development would loom over nearby one-story houses and block the view. 

“The height of this (development) is way too high,” said resident Patsie Schulman. 

Residents also were concerned about the increased traffic flow, though the proposed development would have six driveways. 

“If you have such a big development going on there, with 162 units of everybody having at least one car, you’re increasing the traffic going in and out,” said West Bloomfield resident Larry Klein. “The congestion is going to be huge.” 

Not all residents were critical of the development. 

“(This development) seems to be more of a residential building for younger seniors, those who want to downsize and still live in West Bloomfield,” said John Freed, a West Bloomfield resident and local pastor. “I like the affordable pricing. ... I see an attractive building. I know the corner well and I support what the proposal is.” 

Steve Kaplan, township supervisor, said that he and the rest of the board are open to seeing the developers again once they tweak their proposal.

Rosenberg put forward a motion to deny the PUD approval and was supported by board Treasurer Teri Weingarden. 

All trustees voted to support the motion, except for Manna, who voted no. The motion passed 6-1 to deny the PUD as presented.

“The township board declined to recognize the qualifications for the PUD, even though it was recommended by the Planning Commission,” said Jeff Leib, attorney for PIRHL. “There are some issues dealing with height, and we’re going to go back to the drawing board to see if we can redesign a plan that will be more in keeping with the vision of the township board.”