Michael West, a developer with Green Development Ventures and Allen Edwin Homes, shows a map of the current plans for the Villages of Three Rivers, a new housing development at the east end of Coolidge Place, during Monday’s Three Rivers Planning Commission meeting. (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)
By Robert Tomlinson
THREE RIVERS — A new housing development on the north side of Three Rivers was okayed by the city’s Planning Commission Monday.
Commissioners approved a site plan for the Villages of Three Rivers, a new residential development on a 5.6-acre plot of land at the east end of Coolidge Place off North Main Street. The development is being overseen by Green Development Ventures, LLC, who are in the process of purchasing the property.
The development will bring 37 single-family detached homes to the community, with homes offered for lease. The houses would be a mixture of ranch, bi-level and two-story homes, with three to four bedrooms and two to three bathrooms each, with a two-car garage and individual private driveways. The homes would be owned and managed by a single company, similar to the Garfield Court project nearby, and will have one single entrance aligned with Bush Boulevard.
“This will start as a rental-exclusive community, so we’ll manage the entire grounds,” Michael West, a developer with Green Development Ventures and Allen Edwin Homes, told commissioners. “We’ll have street lights within the development, sidewalk connections to the park, a private stormwater system, and then a public water and sanitary sewer.”
The development will have houses on four different roads, Kennedy Boulevard, an extension of Bush Boulevard, Roosevelt Court (which ends in a cul-de-sac), and Reagan Lane (which ends in a small parking lot for visitors.)
Approval of the site plan is contingent on a few remaining items regarding the development, including tree planting, stormwater calculation reviews, new addresses, and adding The Villages of Three Rivers to the signage at the entrance on North Main Street.
There is currently no timeline for when the development would be completed by, but West said the infrastructure would all be built in one phase while the timing on homes will be “market-dependent.” He added there could be an opportunity in the future for the homes to be “condominiumized” if they don’t want to rent them anymore.
The current site plan for the Villages of Three Rivers housing development. (Screenshot via City of Three Rivers)
There were a few public comments regarding the development from members of the Condo Association at The Meadows at Coolidge Place, the senior housing community next door to the proposed development. Each of the four people that spoke relayed a number of concerns about the development to the commission, mainly about the density of the project, an increase in traffic and noise in their neighborhood because of the development, and how the lone entrance is aligned with Bush Boulevard, a private road in their community.
“You’re talking five acres and putting 37 homes and, we estimate, just under 100 extra people there, the traffic in and out of there is going to be significant,” Mike Fleckenstein said. “The way they have the street aligned, the natural progression would be to cross the street to Bush Boulevard, which is a private street in our development.”
West responded later in the public comment section to those particular concerns, saying it “made sense” to align the entrance with Bush Boulevard and dismissed the concerns about traffic going through Bush Boulevard.
“From an access design standpoint, it makes sense to align this with Bush [Boulevard]. I don’t know if anybody here is going to cut through this condominium complex to get out,” West said. He claimed it would take “three times longer” for traffic to get out to Main Street if they took Bush Boulevard instead of Kennedy Boulevard and Coolidge Place.
Fleckenstein, later in the meeting, proposed an exit route to Coolidge Place by getting rid of a cul-de-sac on the east side and going down around the south side of the development, linking to Coolidge that way. That idea was shot down, however, due to existing utilities in the area, notably a sanitary sewer station in the southwest corner of the property, that would interfere with that route.
Another concern brought up was about the development having just the one entrance, with concerns that if a tree falls and blocks the way out, people would be unable to get out of the development.
“Why isn’t there another route that goes towards maybe Lovers Lane, can go out another way. There has to be another way to get another road other than just Coolidge and then to Bush,” Pat Dane said. “The one they’ve already built, Meadowbrook Farms, this is the same way. Right now, there’s only one main road in and out. Something happens and something’s blocked, how are people getting out of there? We’ve had storms and have had trees fall, lots of things can happen, how are people going to get in and out? We have to really address that.”
The parking situation was also brought up as a concern by those who commented, worried that there might be an overabundance of cars at each property. West said that there will be “at least” four spaces for parking per property between the garage and driveway. If there are requirements to put in no-parking signs on any of the roads, West said they would do so.
During discussion by commissioners, Planning Commission Liaison John Beebe said part of the discussion with an internal review team from the city regarding the site plan prior to Monday’s meeting was a number of the concerns brought up by those who spoke, as well as other items, such as road width, public services and parking.
“We sent that back to the developer, and the request was that they either widen or consider doing parking on one side of the road, not both. They came back and responded with the wider width and that 24-foot requirement,” Beebe said. The 24-foot width would allow for easier navigation for EMS vehicles.
Later, Beebe addressed that the roadway layout was also brought up with the review team.
“For safety reasons, it was not recommended putting it along the south edge of the property, for the people who live in the neighborhood would have to cross a road to get to the park. It had more to do with the utility station there, and the fire department doesn’t want to have to go around loopy roads to get somewhere, especially in an emergency,” Beebe said. “The preference was to leave it the way it was, because it was a good road design.”
West was asked by commissioner Karl Armstrong about the quality of the properties and whether they would be “better” than in their other developments. West said Green Development Ventures and Allen Edwin has it in their best interest to maintain the homes well.
“We’re building brand-new homes. There’s not many other places you can go to rent any brand-new homes, so it’s in our best interest to keep those properties kept up inside and out,” West said. “I looked at our leases, you can’t put a nail in there, there’s all kind of interior stuff. And we’re concerned about the exterior soon, because that’s our investment. It’s going to be more indicative on us to keep it well-maintained.”
The site plan, with the conditions of meeting the last few minor requirements in the plan, was approved unanimously.
In other business…
- Commissioners discussed the overnight street parking ordinance in the city, based on a recommendation from the city commission to do so. After discussion on the ordinance and its pros and cons, the Planning Commission ultimately unanimously decided to keep the ordinance as is.
- Beebe, in a report on ongoing projects, noted that a development on 1320 Broadway St., next to Dunham’s, is progressing with interior renovations, which he said would become a new retail outlet store. Elsewhere, Beebe said a Chinese takeout restaurant on Michigan Avenue is “getting closer” to being complete, the Joyology recreational marijuana dispensary on Millard Street is still completing renovations, and that plans for a Mexican restaurant originally planned for the old Hock it To Me space on West Michigan Avenue have been “backed off” for now with new possible plans for a convenience store with “more international type of stuff” according to Beebe.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.