Scio Township is considering plans for a new open space preservation community, Scio Green, on the northwest quadrant of the corner at Zeeb Rd. and Huron River Dr.
At Scio Township’s Nov. 28 Planning Meeting, Scio Green Development LLC, presented revisions to their plans for the community as recommended by the Township and the consulting firm Carlisle Wortman five months ago.
In a letter to the Commission, Project Engineer Jason Van Ryn stated,
“We trust that you see and understand that over the past 5 months, the Scio Green PUD project team has been very active in working to advance this project toward completion and that we are taking the time necessary to ensure the project is designed in a manner that will allow it to benefit both the community as a whole and its future residents.”
Open space preservation communities are progressive approaches to urban development that takes into consideration and seeks to maintain the sensitive nature of the environment. These communities are intentionally developed to reduce the urban sprawl of large neighborhoods. Residential clusters are mixed in with open space and farmland. It is all aimed at assuring the permanent preservation of our open spaces, scenic vistas, agricultural lands and natural features.
The site for the new Scio Green development encompasses 275 acres, currently zoned A-1 Agriculture, of partially developed land comprised of former orchards, farmland, and woodlands. The proposed Scio Green development will be a mixed-use community offering innovative housing, community supported agriculture (CSA), high quality educational programs, significant recreational opportunities, and sustainable systems.
In some ways, Scio Green could even be seen as the next generation of open space communities. It is proposed to not only preserve the land, but to have families actively engaged in both the environment and the community – real over virtual activities and connection.
At the heart of the community is the organic CSA and farm stand. In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.
Of the 275 acre site, plans call for 190 acres to remain open space.
Once the phased project is completed, it will feature thirty-one architect-designed, single-family homes each designed to individual site features. In addition, the community will include twenty duplex buildings. The proposed duplex units have been specifically clustered and strategically located around existing landmarks and trees to minimize environmental impact. The homes, roads and pathways are intentionally designed to maximize social interaction opportunities. Plans are being made to have the Border to Border trail cross the southern edge of the property.
In addition to the CSA, a winery is also being proposed. Not only do these spaces represent the preservation of the historical use of the land, but they also represent the fundamental goals of the Scio Green development including sustainability, food production, education, ad community. The development will also feature a seasonal Farmers Market and a farm stand.
The community will also include a schoolhouse which will focus on high quality early childhood care and education programs. The Scio Green proposal states,
“This facet of the development works to ensure that the benefits of the community are not simply limited to the adult choosing to purchase a home in the neighborhood, but rather all potential residents of the community, regardless of age. The schoolhouse will offer year-round outdoor play, exposure to locally grown food, an appreciation of nature, and the development of stewardship skills for the environment and community at large.”
There is an existing barn that will be transformed into a Community Farmhouse with a small library, pool table, ping-pong table, television, and play area for children.
As progressive and positive as all this may sound, concerns were recently voiced by Scio residents at a recent Scio Planning Commission meeting. Concerns expressed included:
- The opinion that duplexes are not compatible or harmonizing with this part of the township.
- Concern about the noise level of the Event Center.
- The opinion that aspects of the plan are incompatible with A-1 zoning.
- Potential contamination of the land.
- The nature of the school.
There was also support voice for the way Scio Green Development has communicated and sought to include surrounding residents in the process as well as the overall thoughtfulness that has gone into the planning of this project.
Once approved, the Scio Green development will be phased in over ten years with homes built only in response to market demand. “We don’t want empty houses,” a spokesman for Scio Green Development told the Commission.