By CYNTHIA KMETT
Whenever a new subdivision is proposed, the concerns of adjoining residents are always the same: they’ll ruin our lifestyle, the trees will be cut down, our children will be in danger, the wildlife will have nowhere to go, they’ll overcrowd our schools, and our property values will go down. Property values practically never go down because of new homes, so that’s not even a valid consideration for planners.
But there is one argument that is: More often these days, a concern as properties on the interior of major miles are sold off to developers, very often by either the children of the late owner or the Troy School District. That consideration is traffic. Some parcels on the interior have no way out except on older roads, roads that are often not the same width as those found in modern subdivisions.
Such is the case for Joe Maniaci of Mondrian Properties, which has been acquiring most of the land the Troy School District has put on the market. The company is currently putting up a subdivision in Raintree Subdivision and doing the engineering for a second subdivision adjacent to Jaycee Park. But these parcels are connected to regular subdivision streets, with no parking signs on one side of the street.
The proposed West Troy Meadows subdivision is between Webb and Hart Streets, off Livernois and south of Wattles. It’s a 19.86-acre site that Mondrian proposed to develop in the cluster zoning.
At the latest Planning Commission meeting, Planning Director Brent Savidant gave residents a little background on the site. This was a parcel the school district was considering for its Early Learning Childhood Center, which is currently under construction on the property behind the Niles Center on Square Lake. It would have meant 400 students who had to be delivered and picked up by a parent, as school buses aren’t used in this program. That would have meant 800 trips a day on those older, narrower streets, Savidant noted. The city couldn’t stop the school district from building there, regardless of zoning, as the state of Michigan sets the rules for schools. However, the district’s school buses are at the end of the street and with narrow roads and no way easily out to Wattles, the district opted for a different site and put this land up for sale.
This parcel has R-1B zoning and Mondrian could put 33 homes on the site. With the cluster zoning, they can build 42 homes. They will also be preserving over 5 acres of the wetlands, so the deer will still have a home. They are also preserving 561 trees. That leaves 41 percent of the site in open space.
Planners say they like the cluster layout for the subdivision. What they find very concerning is the streets around it. For reasons unknown, you can park on both sides of the street while the school buses roll. Since the road is only 20 feet wide, instead of the normal 28 feet, it’s not really easy to get around, especially in the winter.
The planners wondered how they could mitigate this subdivision’s road problems. Interestingly, the right of way is there for a wider road, but it was never a city consideration. They agreed that they needed a traffic study here before they made any decision, so the approval has been postponed. Planning Trustee also wanted the study to look at opening the rest of Virgilia to Wattles. It’s partly open and partly just a paper street that never happened.