Many of the residents at the meeting were concerned about possible setback variances near the proposed highway.
The Robinson Township zoning ordinance states that the minimum required setback for agricultural or residential-zoned properties abutting a “limited-access highway” — such as the proposed M-231 — would be doubled from 75 feet to 150 feet.
MDOT officials said they will look at each parcel effected by the bypass on a “case-by-case” basis. They would not discuss individual property owner’s situations during Monday’s meeting, and said they would discuss it with the property owners privately.
“We need to know what the township will allow and won’t allow before our appraisals,” said Mike Smith, MDOT acquisition assistant project manager. “Every parcel is case by case.”
MDOT officials explained that if a parcel is a “partial take,” they might be interested in asking for varying setbacks — if the properties become non-conforming uses — to help minimize the cost of the road.
Currently, there are about 30-40 “total takes” through the entire M-231 corridor, and about 100 “partial takes,” according to Smith.
Residents at the meeting, as well as township officials, asked which properties were labeled as “partial” and “total” takes. Smith explained they have identified the total takes, but cannot identify partial takes because the bypass plans are still in the design process. Final design plans are expected to be complete by 2012, according to MDOT.
“We understand that you want to minimize the cost, but we’re looking at maximizing what our residents can afford and what they appreciate about living in Robinson Township,” Township Planning Commission Chairman Travis Vugteveen said.
Several residents spoke out about the proposed bypass plans — mainly with concerns on the possibility of setback variances and property acquisitions.
“If we’re going to have this, then let’s do this right,” said Bob Boyer, 12896 128th Ave. “Let’s stick to our zoning as written.”
The crowd of more than 50 people applauded.
Mary Bohn, 13046 Woodbriar Lane, said she and her husband want to make improvements on their home — but asked if they should hold off, should their property become a total take or be partially taken.
“What we’re telling residents is — you go about your business,” Smith said. “The appraisal will capture all improvements.”
Smith said MDOT is contracted for a majority of the total takes and expects to have all of them within 60 days before they can begin their review.
“After the review, we will go out and make an offer to the property owners,” he said after the meeting.
MDOT engineer Christopher Van Norwick outlined the timeline for the bypass design and construction during the meeting. This year will focus on Little Robinson Creek and the Grand River, then the highway north of the Grand River will be constructed in 2012 and south of Little Robinson Creek will be constructed in 2013.
“Obviously people are very concerned and we share the same concerns,” Van Norwick said after the meeting. “We understand that it’s a big project and there’s a lot of impact, so we’re just trying to help everyone deal with it as best they can.”
Mulligan said the next step for the township is to have more discussions between the Township Board and the Planning Commission.
“One step at a time. This was a big step, and I think a lot of people got some answers tonight. It’s a federal project (and) there’s not much we can do except help them figure it out.”
In regards to the setback variances, Mulligan anticipates that the township will stick to its current zoning ordinance.
“We have our setbacks, we have it being doubled because it is a freeway — our zoning ordinance states that — and that’s what we’re going to abide by right now,” she said.