As promised last month, Peters Building Company returned to the Dexter City Council meeting this week Monday with three rough outlines or “bubble drawings” demonstrating the general areas that would be development, open space, and roadways in the proposed Sloan-Kingsley development. The development zones were called out as either single-family attached or detached, multi-family, condominiums, or estate lots.
The submission of these rough concept outlines was needed by city officials to begin the next step of the exploratory process necessary to determine how both the developer and the municipalities of Scio Township and Dexter should proceed. Dexter city staff were tasked with requesting study proposals from the city’s engineering consultants Orchard, Hilt, and McCliment Advisers and Carlisle/Wortman Associates, Inc. that would then be considered by the council with feedback from Peters Building owner Jim Haeussler, who agreed to bear some or all of the burden for the consultant fees.
Hauessler said reminded council that this is a “starting point” for firming up details, such as lot sizes for the detached single family homes which are typically the widest of the mass market lots per unit. These lots could be anywhere from 60 to 80 feet wide depending on the city’s current development standards if the developer requested annexation were to happen, or a joint planning effort’s negotiation of standards as part of a Public Act 425 agreement between Dexter and Scio.
“We would like to bring an engineer to (a future) city council or planning commission meeting for another round of questions” after Dexter city officials and staff have time to go over and consider the three development concepts provided.
Mayor Shawn Keough raised the first question about the shelf life of these three concepts if the land stays in Scio Township and their ordinances which would cap the development at 193 units were to be the rule under which this development is shaped going forward.
“The reality is that if we decided to (keep the land) in Scio or we decided to say no (to annexation) you could only put 193 units,” Keough said, asking Hauessler to clarify that.
He answered that 193 or thereabouts is the figure township officials have given in talks with Scio officials, but a question still remains as to whether or not the township’s master plan vaguely calling for higher density in township land on the former village’s outskirts could be translated to a higher housing unit threshold under township regulations.
“I asked (township officials) to go back to their master plan and look at some things … they call this out specifically and say it could be master planned for, it made sense to put some higher density houses next to the village,” Hauessler explained. “The 197 doesn’t take that into effect … if I was to provide water and sewer (in the) plan.”
Hauessler said there are concepts similar to those shown to the city specifically based on the different regulatory reality on the ground in Scio, but he wasn’t ready to show it publicly until the master plan language issue was clarified. In the meantime it’s “a work in progress” he stated.
Councilman Zach Michels continued to advocate for diversifying the Dexter housing stock with an eye towards the number of lower and middle income homes available in Dexter, in order to keep the community’s income demographics from skewing towards to upscale and exclusive of a community, which would have social and economic consequences for existing Dexter residents living in the community in those economic classes, not to mention the good people who might want to one day call Dexter home but otherwise face a price barrier prohibiting them from doing so.
Michels also praised the larger buffer near Baker on plans B and C: “If you’re coming up Baker there’s a nice hill that I’d rather continue to see over the basin than (development) and the one that has the greater variety of housing opportunities (Plan C) as well.”
He also requested consideration for a park, soccer field, or community garden in order to address some of the qualms brought to the table by Scio Township Board of Trustees counterparts at the last joint meeting on this topic between the two governmental bodies.
Hauessler responded that not everyone wants an 80 foot wide lot and the demand for condos and garden style homes for homeowners in the upper age ranges is rising as the Baby Boomer segment of society continues to age.
Councilwoman Julie Knight asked if there could be consideration for another ingress and egress point from the land to Baker Road, to which Hauessler replied that he’d look into it although he pointed out that generally traffic lights are kept to a minimum by most professional planning standards.
Councilman Jim Carson asked when these concepts could be taken to the Planning Commission, to which City of Dexter Community Development Manager Michelle Aniol said that the city and township would have to sort out how the land is going to be handled from a jurisdictional perspective. To begin the planning process now would technically be “planning outside of our borders,” she said.
Keough was skeptical about the city being able to handle the utility service burden of roughly 400 more residential units at this time. These sorts of questions will be given specific answers by the consultant studies that will need to be approved as the next step in the process. From there the city can begin to place a price tag on what’s needed to accommodate the development. The next step from that point is to determine how much of that financial burden Peters Building is willing to bear to make the development a reality in the case of an annexation or Public Act 425 agreement.
“We need to know the capacity (and) if there isn’t capacity, what would it cost for us to provide it,” Hauessler said. “We always said we never expect the current citizen, if something needs to be improved in some way, that they should bear the burden.”
The alternative is that the developer builds a private wastewater treatment facility and well within the delineation of the Sloan-Kingsley land zone.
Councilman Ray Tell spitballed that it could cost anywhere from $5 million to $10 million to create the capacity either way for Sloan-Kingsley development.
He also worried about the potential environmental impact of private utility facilities on site.
“If there’s an issue at (a private) treatment plant, I’m going to be seeing that crap in (Mill Creek Park) — literally,” Tell said after asking if a private wastewater facility would be situated on land abutting Mill Creek, which feeds into the city’s multi-million dollar parks and recreation crown jewel Mill Creek Park.
“You’re going to have to really convince me that this benefits the people that I represent in this area,” Tell warned. “I’m going to need more than (additional) tax revenue (and) I’ve got a real problem with stepping on Scio’s toes.”
Haeussler responded that his company is opened to joint planning between the two municipalities “as long as there’s a goal.”
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