Willowbrook rezoning approved with a surprise

FLINT TWP. — The township board’s approval last week to rezone two vacant lots bordering Willowbrook Manor Nursing Home, 4436 Beecher Road, came with a surprise announcement that the senior care facility also is planning a building addition.

Up for consideration by the board was a second reading and adoption of Willowbrook’s request to rezone two adjacent parcels from single family residential to multi-family residential. Willowbrook’s parcel is currently zoned multi-family residential and the rezoning creates consistent zoning for all three parcels.

No building addition was mentioned in early July when the Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning. Nor was it mentioned during first reading at the township board meeting in late July.

Planning Commissioners were told that Willowbrook was buying the vacant parcels with the intent of expanding its parking lot.

Before the township’s board’s unanimous approval Monday night, an engineer representing Ciena Healthcare, Willowbrook’s parent company, said an 18,000 square-foot building addition also is being planned to add 24 additional private rooms.

Steve Sorenson of Professional Engineering Associates (PEA) in Troy said construction of the addition would not be possi- ble without the property being zoning appropriately. It was unclear whether the new addition would be sited on the recently rezoned parcels.

Residents concerned about potential changes to the property, other than parking lot expansion, attended previous hearings before both the Planning Commission and the township board.

Mark Bezinque, who lives across the street from the nursing home, told Planning Commissioners that he did not object to the parking lot expansion but wanted to know how else the property could be used once rezoned. He mentioned construction of an apartment building instead of a parking lot.

Tracey Tucker, township building director, said that once the property is rezoned, any permitted use would be possible, but the parcels are too small to accommodate an apartment building because of a driveway easement running through the property for use by a tow company located behind it.

She also said any changes in use requiring a building permit would have to come back before the Planning Commission for approval. That applies to the addition Willowbrook is now proposing.

Another neighboring resident, Michael Mansfield, who attended the first hearing for the rezoning at the July 20 township board meeting, also asked questions about Willowbrook’s intentions. He also wanted to know why nearby residents were not notified about the rezoning.

“I came to ask you to kick it back to the Planning Commission because we were not given due process,” he said.

He was told that his property lies just outside of required notification limits.

Mansfield also was present at last week’s township board meeting but did not comment.

According to information on its website, PEA has done work for more than 20 Ciena Healthcare sites in Michigan.

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