Northfield Officials, Community Critique North Village Plans
September 28, 2018
Northfield Township officials gathered more public comment on a revised development plan for the North Village district of Whitmore Lake.
Three years ago the Board of Trustees began exploring options for the roughly 23 acres of downtown Whitmore Lake property with heavy input from residents. When they put out a request for proposal, they got a bite from one developer, Lockwood Development. Lockwood is known for their expertise in senior housing, and true to form, their proposal featured it heavily. In July, feeling that Lockwood missed the mark on too many components key to the community’s vision plan, the Board instructed their Township Manager and Planning Consultant to work with the developer on a revised plan. The new plan moved much of the housing to the back of the site, leaving roughly 6 acres for a public park.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, they discussed the progress made and opened up the podium for public comment. Residents were still less than impressed with it. Most thought the 6 acres for park space was too small, with 12 acres being the needed size that most landed on. Some were concerned that the need for improvements to the water and sewer system was going to cost residents too much. Many members of the public reiterated that they wanted a mix of age groups for the area, and that it not be senior specific. There was also concern among some residents and officials that the housing will be too costly. The projected cost of rentals ranged from $950 “affordable housing” to $2,200 market value.
The Board shared mixed emotions during their discussion period, with Supervisor Marlene Chockley believing an injection of seniors might be a good thing. She said 200 new people to the area would stimulate businesses. Consensus also landed on 6.3 acres being too small for the park.
Trustee Wayne Dockett had had enough with Lockwood altogether and motioned to cease working with them at all. That vote failed 5-2.
The Board gave instruction to their Planning Consultant that they would like to meet with the developer at their next meeting, on October 9th. They also instructed him to prepare a request for qualifications, or RFQ, because of uncertainty on whether Lockwood can provide all they and the community wish for, or not. (MK)