Jessica Mathews /

A needed rezoning of a site in the City of Howell for a large motorsports complex is proceeding.

Council met Monday night and introduced an ordinance to rezone 273-acres of land in the Loop Road area, to the south by I-96, consisting of three parcels from single-family residential to PUD or planned unit development.

The applicant is Motorsports Gateway LLC, formerly referred to as JD Racing, which consists of the father-son team Jordan and Mark Dick. They attended the meeting but didn’t speak on the topic.

Council earlier approved an agreement with the applicants for the old Highland-Howell property that totals 216-acres along I-96 between Lucy Road and Michigan Avenue, as well as two additional parcels to the north. A lease agreement was earlier negotiated that transitions into a purchase agreement.

Plans call for a mixed-use, multi-phase development that caters to automotive enthusiasts with a race track circuit and high-end garage condos. There would be a maximum of 200 condo units when the complex is complete and 400 members in total.

Phase 1-A would feature 92 high-end garage condo units, a 1.4-mile driving circuit, and a paddock area and building. That would include parking and outdoor event space, automotive detailing services, food and beverage services, a temporary fitness center, and public restrooms. A refueling station with above-ground tanks would be located southwest of the paddock area.

Phase 1-B would involve a half-mile extension to the driving course, additional condo units, and the construction of a pit lane clubhouse. The 2nd and 3rd phases propose an automotive innovation park and mixed-use entertainment district.

The Planning Commission last week voted to recommend approval to Council of a final PUD plan with various conditions the applicant needs to address before any work can begin. In addition to planning and engineering reviews, a PUD development agreement also needs to be worked out.

Mayor Bob Ellis told WHMI they’re changing the zoning to facilitate the process. He noted the Planning Commission has reviewed extensive plans for the site but there’s still more work to do to develop those plans and they need engineering and planning reviews but everything looks like it’s on track and it’s a very exciting project.

Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor raised some questions during the meeting about language included in a PUD plan review and what he felt were “permissive words”, referring to “shall” versus “should”.

It was stated that any PUD development agreement will ultimately be approved by Council, the rezoning was one part of the process, and there are still the various reviews that need to take place prior to any construction.

The rezoning request will be back before Council at a future meeting for final approval.

A link to the project website is provided.