Northfield Township officials are considering reopening proposals while they negotiate with the one developer who submitted for work on the North Village district in Whitmore Lake.

Northfield Township Manager Steven Aynes foreshadowed the feelings of the Board of Trustees when he said he was “not impressed” by the lone Request for Proposal submitted for improvements to downtown Whitmore Lake. Aynes felt there was a lack of detail and information in the proposal that was submitted by Lockwood Companies. The Township Board has been working with the community to create a vision of what residents and business owners would like to see in the North Village.

Lockwood’s specialties lie in senior housing, and that was prevalent throughout their plan, with rental buildings being the central focus. The Board of Trustees was looking for more a more multi-generational mix with homes or condos for purchase, rather than rent. Trustee Tawn Beliger said she was strongly against rentals. Supervisor Marlene Chockley said the DDA looked at the proposal and wanted to de-emphasize senior housing, but not necessarily completely. They also wanted a larger common area. Chockley said that, personally, she wouldn’t mind seeing some rentals for Millenials who don’t appear to be buying homes in general. The Supervisor, overall, supported a wide spectrum of housing available rather than the narrow focus in the proposal.

Northfield Township Clerk Kathleen Manley wanted the beach work moved up from phase 2 into phase 1, as it is important to residents. Trustee Janet Chick wanted to see it closer to the community vision plan as a whole.

Treasurer Leonore Zelenock said she was shocked and stunned that only one proposal came in for this project. Aynes said he talked to a couple developers who didn’t submit during the RFP time limit. One, he said, claimed that the community’s vision was not open to development. Another developer was impressed, Aynes said, but was seeking a financial partner and couldn’t secure on in time to draft a proposal.

Planning Consultant Paul Lippens spoke to the board during their Tuesday night meeting about his impressions. Lippens created a scoring method for proposals and graded the Lockwood submission based on how the township’s requests were addressed. The proposal scored a 77 out of 100. He confirmed that they seemed to miss the mark in many aspects, but gave encouragement in that they were willing to take a shot at this investment in Whitmore Lake. He stated that Lockwood seems willing to work with him and the township on a more detailed and revised proposal. The Board of Trustees approved a motion to continue working with the developer over the next 60 days in order to get a complete proposal. With this, they are asking for a financial evaluation of the project. Officials also expressed an interest in exploring the cost of reopening the RFP process and allowing rolling submissions to come in until they find the proposal they like. (MK)