The township's Zoning Board of Appeals will be discussing a pair of requests from the Michigan Department of Transportation when it meets at the end of the month.
“I have four applications, but only two of them will be heard July 31," Township Zoning Administrator Kate Kremmel said.
Kremmel said the state is requesting portions of several properties in order to place the right of way for the M-231 project along the 120th Avenue corridor.
“What they’re proposing is purchasing a portion of property they would need, which would be smaller than is currently allowed,” Kremmel said.
Based on the MDOT application, 13110 Woodbriar Lane would be reduced in size from 10.04 acres to 4.85 acres, and 13046 Woodbriar would be reduced from 10.04 acres to 4.04 acres.
“This is part of MDOT's standard process — per state and federal regulations — for property acquisition," said the state agency's spokesman, John Richard. "When land is purchased for right of way purposes, partial parcels are left over that may or may not conform to township zoning regulations. When a partial parcel is not conforming, we request a variance from the township.”
Richard said parcels, townships and property owners are all unique, so the stipulations for variance approvals can vary in each community.
M-231 will stretch from M-45 in Robinson Township north to the I-96/M-104/112th Avenue interchange in Crockery Township. A new bridge over the Grand River, M-104 improvements near the M-231 intersection, a new I-96 interchange at M-231, and new ramps at the I-96/112th Avenue interchange are included in the project.
Richard noted that it was too early to indicate whether or not what MDOT would do if the township's zoning board denied their requests.
“We'll cross that bridge if we come to it,” he said. “It's impossible to anticipate a township's conditions. There are just too many variables.”
Some of the property owners in the line of fire by the new road say they're frustrated.
“We’re looking and suggesting that the zoning board do not rubber-stamp their request,” said Mark Bohn, 13046 Woodbriar.
Bohn said the variance would significantly impact the size and value of his property, and the quality of life he said he enjoys in the township. He said approval of the MDOT requests would result in the removal of a pole barn and old horse barn on his property, and a neighboring homeowner’s pole barn would butt up against the M-231 right of way.
“That would save money, but at the expense of the freedoms we enjoy here,” Bohn said. “The state is requesting a zoning variance in order to not give us a full take. ... They’re really trying to shove that down our throats and we hope the zoning board recognizes that.”
Instead of a partial variance, Bohn said he would like to see the state buy him out completely, like they have with other parcels along the new highway.
Kathryn Kuck, chairwoman of the township zoning board, said there is currently no opinion yet formed about the requests.
“MDOT will be there to present their case, and anyone from the general public can comment,” Kuck said, adding people can also send letters in advance of the meeting regarding their opinion of the variance requests.
Kuck said after the case and comments are heard, the board will determine whether they think the variances should be granted.