It’s back to the drawing board for a site plan which would make major changes to the amphitheater and gazebo at Brighton’s Mill Pond.

After nearly two hours of presentations, discussion, and comments from the public, the City Planning Commission Monday night ultimately tabled the plan. Those who commented told commissioners the plan would destroy valuable, mature shade trees to make way for a band shell, and result in too much concrete for a larger, redesigned amphitheater area. Beth Walker of Hillcrest Dr. told commissioners that she and other supporters have been able to gather 500 signatures of people opposed to destroying the trees. Mac Miller, who, with his wife Mondi, own a main street business, told the commission he doesn’t support the plan because it would result in the destruction of several trees. Miller said the trees have lived longer than anyone present at the meeting, and deserve to live.

Later in the meeting, Brighton City Manager Nate Geinzer said that after the site visit last week by two arborists, it was determined that only four “and possibly three” trees would have to be destroyed. Some in the audience also said they didn’t like the amount of concrete used in the amphitheater design, saying it should be natural, with grass. Brighton Area Historical Society president Jim Vichich – whose group has made major improvements to the adjacent Old Village Cemetery – pleaded with commissioners not to destroy the trees, “even the invasive species.” The two black locust trees among the predominant oaks are considered invasive since they are not indigenous to Michigan. However, Downtown Development Authority president Bob Herbst said the plan being considered “is the most sensible and reasonable,” and would cost $300,000 less than the previous plan.

The plan under consideration would cost an estimated $650,000, with the DDA paying for the bulk, and the remainder coming from a sizeable private donation. But Planning Commissioner and Brighton City Council member Jim Bohn said he had serious misgivings about the plan. A motion by Planning Commissioner and fellow City Council member Susan Gardner to approve it “with conditions” was defeated 5-3. A subsequent motion by Commissioner Steve Monet to table the issue until some questions are addressed and the plan is “reconfigured” passed unanimously. (TT)