Connecting Subdivisions Hits a 10-foot Road Block


Connecting subdivisions is definitely a goal of the city spelled out in the Master Plan for development, but is often a contentious matter for residents of an existing subdivision. In this case it is Golf Trail, a 40-something-year-old sub east of Rochester and south of Square Lake, which was fighting against being connected to Oak Forest.

This issue is coming to the Planning Commission table after a decades-long fight between Ladd Realty and the Oakland County Drain Commission over whether or not the wetlands were natural or because the Drain Commission had never tended the Gibson Drain as it should have. Now settled, the land is experiencing extensive construction as Oak Forest subdivisions win approval one after the next, south off Square Lake. Oak Forest 1 and 2 are going up rapidly. Oak Forest 3 is approved and Oak Forest 4 was on the table on December 12.

That’s when Golf Trail residents learned that Trillium, coming out of Oak Forest 4, would run into Willow Grove, a dirt road, make a quick 10- foot turn and glide down Trevino into Golf Trail, and head for the light at Rochester at Sylvan Glen Golf Course. Oak Forest residents won’t use Willow Grove as they have a front exit to Square Lake.

Trevino residents were not happy. They’ll speed and our children will be in danger in the street. Few, besides residents, drive to the end of Trevino as they want to avoid using the very pothole-plagued Willow Grove.

In December the residents were talking lower speeds and calming devices. Best of all they thought would be an EVA for emergency vehicle access.

The city, however, believes that connecting subdivisions is a good idea and the city’s Traffic Consultant Sara Merrill, an OHM Traffic Engineer, noted in a report to Bill Huotari, Troy assistant city engineer, that calming devices reduce the efficient travel of vehicles, including essential public services like police, fire trucks, school buses, snow removal and trash collection.

Golf Trail residents tried a new tactic last week. They had residents sign a petition that called for the intersection to be blocked until Willow Grove is paved. Almost 200 signatures were collected and turned in.

Most adjoining subdivisions are blocked between the old and new during construction. Even if residents protest, unless there’s a good reason, the roads don’t stay blocked. Blocking was more common 40 years ago, but not today.

The city consultant did a traffic study and it said only three or four cars would be added to the light at Player in peak hours. Since the light only lets three cars exit the subdivision, fewer if the golf course is in full operation as there are cars waiting to get in and out of Sylvan Glen when the light changes, the study might have been done in the wrong month for an accurate count.

Planning Director Brent Savidant pointed out that a long wait at the traffic light would probably deter folks from making that cut through, which comes with a number of turns to even get to the light. Savidant had taken the Golf Trail petition and sent it on to City Manager Brian Kischnick, who it was assumed would turn it over to the city’s Traffic Committee for study and a decision.

Planning Commissioners, however, were concerned for the builder, which had no issues to be resolved. They moved a resolution to approve the site plan as presented, Commissioner Don Edmunds, a Player resident on Golf Trail main road, made an amendment that would barricade any resolution until Willow Grove is paved. It looks like that could happen as Edmunds noted that the trees are tagged on the parcel at Willow Grove and Square Lake, which usually indicates someone is planning to build there.

But, Troy Assistant Attorney Allen Motzny said this wasn’t a proper amendment and the planners didn’t have the right to do it. So, Oak Forest 4 got its site plan approval and along with Oak Forest 3, should be in the ground this spring.

Golf Trail residents will certainly be visitors at the Traffic Committee.