Twp. board again postpones land sale

FLINT TWP. – After hearing an outpouring of protests from several residents, the township board again pushed back its decision to sell 86.65 acres of vacant land on South Dyewood that was acquired for free through tax reversion in 2011.

At its July 10 meeting, the board first considered a purchase offer for $173,200 from developer Pat Battaglia, who said his resume includes the Springfield Hills subdivision off Fenton Road, just north of Long Lake Road in Fenton Township and the Oak River subdivision west of Fenton Road and South of Cook Road in Grand Blanc Township.

The board put off accepting Battaglia’s offer to allow time for attorneys to fix vague language in the purchase agreement.

The matter was placed on the agenda of the board’s July 24 meeting, where several residents from the Dyewood subdivision spoke against the sale. Their arguments including disturbance of the peace, heavy construction equipment traveling down recently repaved streets, construction access roads and drainage issues. A member of the township’s parks board also spoke against the sale, based on an understanding reached with the board last year not to sell the property but to reserve it for use as a park.

Battaglia is proposing to build about 150 single family homes on the property to be sold at an estimated value at $162,000 to $200,000. After negotiations with township officials, he also included in the purchase agreement that he would dedicate 10 acres of land for use as a community park.

Linda Nierman of Mapletree Drive said she was upset because Dyewood residents each recently spent almost $10,000 to repave the roads and fix drainage. The roads were not engineered to handle heavy trucks and the drains not designed to handle 150 additional households, she said.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller told her that the contract language stipulates that Dyewood roads would not be used by construction crews but Nierman questioned who would enforce that.

Stanley Thompson who lives on Royal Crest Drive in a neighboring subdivision also voiced concern about his street being used as an access road to the site. He wanted to know if the road would be widened and thus reduce his street frontage. Residents are just starting to see appreciation in home values that would not be helped by 200 to 300 cars zipping down the street, he said.

He also noted a failed new subdivision next door where unfinished houses sat out in the weather for years until some had to be torn down.

Jim Leighton who has lived on Oaktree Drive for 49 years said Dyewood is a quiet subdivision and a new development will burden the neighborhood.

John Lucas of Mapletree Drive said he first heard about the proposed development earlier that day from a notice left on his mailbox and was distressed that residents were not notified earlier. He asked the board to delay the project while conducting an impact study on how the new development would affect the surrounding area.

Beverly Jacks of Dyewood Drive spoke on behalf of protecting ducks, frogs and other wildlife in the area.

Silesia Franklin, also a resident of Dyewood Drive, expressed concern about congestion and road maintenance. She said it already is difficult to leave the subdivision at certain times of day because of the traffic and that more residents would add to the congestion. She also said she would like to see a stoplight placed at Dye and Calkins and maybe at Dye and Court also. She also requested language in the contract that the developer would immediately repair any roads damaged during the construction process.

Supervisor Miller said she also received several calls from residents during the day who expressed concerns about the proposed development.

After listening to residents, Trustee Carol Pfaff-Dahl said she would prefer to delay the board’s decision to allow further inquiry and perhaps conduct an impact study.

Trustee Barb Vert said she opposed the project and will be voting against it regardless of what is put in or taken out of the purchase agreement.

Supervisor Miller said this is not the first time that sale of the property has come before the board. Previously one group proposed to build a cemetery there, she said. She also said that the latest purchase offer is within a thousand dollars of the assessed value of the land, so it is not a giveaway.

Clerk Kathy Funk said she preferred to wait to address residents’ concerns but she would like to see more development in the township which would bring in more tax dollars and also patronage for township businesses.

Battaglia, the developer, was at the meeting and spoke at length directly to concerns residents raised about drainage, quality of housing and construction access roads. But he said he was willing to wait for the board’s decision at a later date, to allow more time to address residents’ concerns.

Miller suggested holding some sort of town-hall meeting. Battaglia gave his phone number and invited anyone with questions to call him. He reasserted that his family has been in the development business for 70 years and has a good reputation.

“I am not going to sell these lots to someone I can’t stand behind,” he said of his practice of working with reputable builders. He also said the proposed development will have a Homeowners Association, which in his experience, tends to serve as “a very good police force” for any undesirable behavior in the neighborhood.

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