By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

A public hearing was held for a proposed Hartland Township development that has many neighbors worried will have a negative impact on their own.

The Villas of Hartland would be a 55-unit single-family condominium development, east of Hacker Road, north of M-59. A traffic light would be installed at the intersection. The Villas would be set on 24.5 acres and gated, but access to all vehicles would be allowed. Due to its size, a second access point is required, and proposed to be connected to the neighboring Walnut Ridge Estates directly to the west. Trustee Summer McMullen, who is the Board’s representative on the commission, thought gates were not a welcoming factor and worked against what the township was trying to do.

Walnut Ridge has been built out as a family-friendly neighborhood that has several residents worried about what this access road would mean. Many emails have been sent opposed to the road and many more spoke at Thursday’s public hearing held by the planning commission, against it. Residents cited kids playing and more traffic as being a danger.

Planning Commission Chairman Larry Fox said that this access road was actually discussed back before ground was broken on Walnut Ridge. Fox said the opinion then was that Walnut Ridge residents would actually be the benefactor. The new light at Hacker would give Walnut Ridge residents a place to make safe left turns. Planning Commissioners didn’t see Villa residents going through Walnut Ridge to make turns away from the light.

Planning commissioners also felt the road design-led towards slower speeds, but commissioner Sue Grissim thought even more could be done there. She saw the landscaping plan and asked if trees could be moved into the space between sidewalks and the road, where they had not been set. Trees nearer to the road, especially when they grow further, have a way of slowing drivers down because the road doesn’t look as wide. It was revealed that the township doesn’t usually like to put trees in that space, though, because that’s where the water and sere mains are. They felt those mains were deep enough, though, and preferred the trees in that space.

At least two nearby residents expressed concerns over the impact the Villas of Hartland development would have on existing wetlands. Jim Jablonski, whose property sits across Hacker Road from the proposed site requested a wetlands review be obtained from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and that the township requires an "independent Impact Analysis" as opposed to one provided by the builder. Hartland Planning Commissioner Michelle LaRose was also interested in seeing a more detailed review of stormwater drainage on the site. Not ready to make a recommendation, the planning commission asked the applicant to make adjustments on their preliminary site plan and return to a future meeting.