"This truly is an informational meeting," Township Supervisor Tracy Mulligan said. "This meeting is for our two boards — the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees — to gain information to better inform our residents and to get the message out to our citizens to help inform them of where they (MDOT) are in the process."
Eleven homes along the 120th Avenue corridor in the township, from Sleeper Street to North Cedar, have been acquired by MDOT and vacated, according to Mulligan. The Robinson Township Fire Department recently burned down one home as part of a burning exercise, and three are expected to be demolished on Monday.
There are more than 60 homes in Robinson Township that MDOT is expected to acquire, according to Mulligan.
John Richard, MDOT Grand Region communications representative, said the purpose of Monday's meeting is to provide the township with information about concerns over property acquisition for the bypass.
"In particular, the parcels where MDOT may only be purchasing a partial acquisition and creating a situation where the parcels — due to MDOT acquisition — may become nonconforming, based on their current zoning ordinance," Richard said.
Robinson Township resident Mark Bohn has been living on one of his two abutting pieces of property— totaling 10 acres — for 12 years. He said he's not opposed to the bypass overall, but has concerns with a possible decrease in the bypass's setbacks near his home, and whether he will be given a partial or full acquisition buyout.
"My greatest (concern) is the loss of privacy," Bohn said.
Bohn said people once told him that a U.S. 31 bypass "is never going to happen."
"Well, here we are in 2011, and it is happening — the highway," he said. "If they build this thing, I will have a highway next to my house."
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.
Bohn said he's heard that MDOT might ask township officials to decrease the setback requirement for those properties abutting the bypass — including his.
"It's all going to be gone and lost," he said of the privacy, peacefulness and wildlife that roam his wooded land.
Dennis Kent, MDOT regional transportation planner in Grand Rapids, said there is not an exact setback number they are requesting, but will discuss their options with Robinson Township officials.
"We're going to look at each individual parcel to see what we can work with — not only with Robinson Township, but its residents," Kent said. "We are not asking for an overall decrease."
Robinson Township Zoning Administrator Kate Kremmel confirmed that MDOT has not filed any formal requests, including one that might decrease the minimum setback requirement for the bypass.
Mulligan said there is a lot of ambiguity in the bypass plans and hopes township officials will get answers to some of their questions during Monday's meeting.
"This meeting is for MDOT to inform Robinson government officials the current information so we can better inform our residents, and keeping them up to date with the most up-to-date information," she said.