Planning commission approves preliminary site plan on 215 condos

BURTON — In what could be the first significant housing development in the city since the recession of 2008, the planning commission recently gave preliminary site plan approval to a proposed 215-unit condominium development on Vassar Road at Atherton Road.

Developer Kelly Walker of Walker Farms LLC wants to build two adjoining site condo subdivisions, called The Meadows and The Fields, on property farmed by Walker Farms in the southwest quadrant of Vassar and Atherton roads.

Rade Belsac of Fenton Land Surveying and Engineering was at the Sept. 14 Burton Planning Commission meeting where his request for preliminary site plan approval on the two projects was granted unanimously by the commission.

Belsac said with preliminary site approval granted he and Walker hope to get the water main extended from down to the site to help provide water to the proposed 215-units. Sewer is already available at the location, he said.

“We’re trying to get the ball rolling as far as a preliminary review and approvals,” he said. “We want to possibly talk with Burton about extending a water main down to our site from Belsay and Atherton roads.”

The Belsay and Atherton water main would need to be extended 1,700 feet easterly to the proposed development site, then brought across the property over to Vassar Road where Belsac said their hope is the city could possibly loop it.

The planning commission was only able to grant the preliminary site plan approval and has no say in whether the water main would be extended – that decision remaining with the city council.

Vaughn Smith, a planning commissioner and member of the city council, said while he and the council would surely like to see the projects built, paying for a major water line extension and the infrastructure involved is not in the city’s budget.

“I’m excited…we’re all excited, but we’re broke when it comes to the water fund,” said Smith. “I think it’s great. But we don’t have any money sitting there to put water structure in the ground.”

Smith said he doesn’t see the council wanting to issue bonds for the water line extension because prior to the recession of 2008, it agreed to a similar proposal and bonded for $6 million in infrastructure and when the developers abandoned those projects, the city still owed on the bonds and residents were left paying for the infrastructure.

“We’re excited about this, but the city got struck last time and they’re going to remember this,” said Smith. “It’s something they’ve had to deal with for years.”

Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Burge asked if the water main extension does not get approved did that mean the project could not move forward?

Belsac said it was still possible, but it might affect the cost of the lots at some point in the process.

Burge also asked if the condos would be geared toward senior citizens, but Belsac said they would not.

He said they would be both ranch style and two-story homes, 1,500- 1,800 square feet, with one area of the development boasting homes that are 2,000 square feet. There will also be 2-3 car garages and the streets will have curbs and gutters with all utilities located underground.

The condos would be for young couples or families, not exclusively for senior citizens, said Belsac.

Located in Burton, the area in question is within the Davison Community Schools District.

Amber Abbey, deputy director of the Department of Public Works, said typically, you don’t see preliminary plans for site condos.

“This is the first one that has come along in a lot of years,” she said. “They want to see what our thoughts are here on the planning commission with preliminary approval, they want to show you the layout and then going forward they would still have to come back for a final site plan approval.”

The water main issue, she said, would still have to go before the city council for approval.

Abbey said the city administration likes the concept and noted most developers are moving toward site condos versus the typical platted subdivisions. She said it was also great to see someone wanting to build a new development in Burton.

“Obviously, we are excited for a new subdivision. It’s been a lot of years since we’ve seen one,” said Abbey. “Most of our ones that were abandoned during the crash have almost been built out now. So, it’s nice to see that we have a need for more.”

Based on the site plan Belsac presented, Abbey said she had nothing she objected to, adding the developers meet the requirements. She recommended approval to the planning commission.

Belsac said the developer has determined there is a need for this kind of housing in the Grand Blanc and Davison areas, noting this particular development is located close to both communities and is within the Davison school district.

It is not known when the developers will go before the city council to ask about the water line extension.