Possible rezoning raises concern for residents in Okemos

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After a contentious zoning meeting, no decision has been made about the possible development of land near the Sanctuary in Okemos.

On Feb. 12, residents of the Sanctuary, located in Okemos, gathered at the planning commission meeting, in opposition to rezoning 7.63 acres on Hulett Road.

The area is currently marked as R.R., or rural residential, and is being debated about becoming a R.A.A., or single family-low density. This would mean that the untouched lot would have the chance for a small amount of structures to be built.

Many of the residents spoke during the meeting, with the main concern being keeping the nature of the lot.

“We moved there 10 years ago because of the open woods in the back,” said Jody Wesley, resident of the Sanctuary.  “We were also told that no one could build on that lot.”

Jody Wesley shows pictures of wetlands. Photo by Katherine White.

Wesley brought pictures of the wetland in to show to the committee.

“You can cram a little development in that seven and a half acres of dense woodland, but I don’t think that would serve the best interest of the township residence or would be in accordance with your masterplan,” Wesley said during the meeting.

Many of the residents brought up the preservation of the land during public remarks of the meeting. Others had mentioned their worries of the construction and the children that live in the neighborhood.

One family brought their daughter to speak during the public remarks. She spoke how her friends going ice skating on the wetlands, and how she likes the country side of the land. She was also concerned about the animals’ habitats.

Daughter of residents of the Sanctuary speaks at planning commission meeting. Photo by Katherine White.

“I plan on preserving the trees and wildlife that is there. I plan on keeping some nature,” said Jim Giguere. “This is close to the high school in Okemos, and there is need for homes near the high school. It would be something similar to the development that is already there.”

The committee took into consideration all views, and said that there needs to be more information about the plan.

“It seems as though what we’re talking about here is the difference between seven lots that are going to be developed versus 12,” said Emily Stivers, a commissioner on the planning committee, “He’s already got the right to build at least seven.”

Currently, how the area is zoned, Giguere can build seven houses. If the area is rezoned, there is a possibility to build 12 to 19 houses in the new zone.

The committee mentioned that there needs to be more information about the rezoning before a decision is made.

“There are a lot of unknowns at this point in the process. We are not exactly sure how it is going to work. But we understand the concerns of the community,” said Peter Menser, the principal planner. “We are only in the rezoning phase right now, and so we need to focus on the zoning change right now.”

No decision was made to rezone or not on Monday night. This was the first meeting discussing the rezoning process. The next meeting to discuss the potential rezone will take place on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.

 

 

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