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Neighbors concerned about new housing development

Alex Doty • Nov 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — A new residential development will soon be coming to the township, located along Brucker Street, west of Lakeshore Drive.

But not everyone is happy about it. 

Neighbors surrounding the development site have cited concerns including increased stormwater runoff, the lack of a fence to separate properties from a nearby pond, concerns over the number of trees that could be removed and site density.

The Township Board unanimously approved the Brucker Beach Woods development Monday night.

“This is an infill development (and) it has seven lots on 6.29 acres,” Township Manager Bill Cargo said.

Part of an R-1 zoning district, units will include public water, private septic systems and a drain field, and a public road would service the development.

“They did put a 25-foot (natural) buffer around this to provide some buffer around existing property owners,” Cargo said.

Cargo also noted that the development will be part of a sewer special assessment district, meaning in the event sewer service is extended to that area, each property would be considered a “yes” vote in favor of the extension and special assessment on their property taxes.

Developers have proposed lot sizes that range from 0.56 to 1.46 acres, with the average size being 0.76 acre, or 33,280 square feet. The minimum lot size in a township R-1 district is 15,000 square feet.

A report by the township indicated that the proposed parcels are 29 percent smaller than properties within 300 feet. When expanded to 1,000 feet, the proposed parcels are only 2 percent smaller.

“I think that the Township Board did what I expected them to do,” township resident Steve Bowen said.

He noted that many of the concerns that the neighbors have about the project could easily be addressed if the developer constructed three or four homes instead of seven.

Bowen was one of several residents who spoke to the Township Board at Monday’s meeting, voicing his concerns about the new development.

“It could have been a far better project than what we’ll end up with,” he said. “Everyone could have felt good about it.”

Others in the project’s vicinity shared similar concerns.

“I felt like (the Township Board) listened, but it was 100 percent procedural,” township resident Ben Braymer said.

Braymer, who spoke at Monday night’s meeting, said he is concerned about the project density. He said the new housing would “significantly change the character” of the neighborhood once it’s constructed.

“If there’s seven $500,000 homes in that area, it’s going to look like a monstrosity,” he said. 

Developer Steve Davis addressed some of the concerns during Monday night’s meeting.

“We really feel like we’ve covered all of our bases here,” he said.

Davis noted that they want to keep as many of the trees as they possibly can, and he also noted that lot sizes are “substantially bigger” than the minimum requirements in the R-1 district. 

Prior to the development being sent on to the Township Board for approval, the township’s Planning Commission was able to get the developers to make several revisions to their proposal, including: 

— The addition of seven dry bioswales to manage runoff and the requirement of planting beach grass within the right of way.

— The addition of a natural buffer around the outside perimeter of the development.

— Bylaws have been amended to require a minimum of two trees be protected within the front yard and both side yards. A minimum of six trees will be within these yards.

— Bylaws now restrict short-term rentals and establish a minimum stay of six months. 

— The sewer special assessment district agreement. 

“We really feel like we’ve done everything they’ve asked,” Davis said.

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