Glitch delays Elmbrook rezoning hearing | Local News

TRAVERSE CITY – East Bay Township planners had proposed a proposed zoning change for Elmbrook Golf Course, but a technical error caused an unexpected delay.

Before planners could hear a single comment on a conditional zoning request from Joe Locricchio, they discovered plans to increase virtual meeting capacity were not working, said commission chairman Robert Tubbs.

That kept some people away from commenting, and one other item on the agenda that aroused great public interest – a request to change the site plan for a resort on Lake Arbutus.

Both were topics that Tubbs said he hated to delay further, but didn’t think he had any choice but to adjourn.

“Of course everyone has the right to attend. It is a public meeting and we have to make sure that those who want to attend can attend,” he said.

So the hearing will be suspended, possibly until early June, Tubbs said.

Meanwhile, golfers are playing in Elmbrook, said co-owner Wesley Nelson. He and his sister Carolyn Olson and their spouses owned and run the course since 1964. They have been trying to sell it for some time and the declining interest in the sport has made golf courses with seasonal business and nothing difficult otherwise too offer – say, a resort or a destination restaurant – to stay profitable, he said.

Locricchio said it probably won’t be the last summer for golf there, although plans may change. He intends to buy the land and is working with the owners on a reallocation to a higher density housing estate, although he stressed he has no intention of going beyond the current allowable housing concentration.

“It will be a few years before we get into this project and break new ground in some way. From then on it will be a very long-term project of the 10 year type,” he said.

Instead, the aim of the request is to enable a mix of apartment types, he said. The 912 units in the conditional reallocation requirement would be the absolute upper limit allowed under the reallocation. Hills and other challenges would make reaching that limit next to impossible.

These limits include overlay zones for two streams on the property that require a 100-foot setback and vegetative buffer, said community planner Claire Karner.

She suggested that the commissioners agree to the motion to convert part of the course along Hammond Road to high-density residential areas and the remainder to medium-density residential areas. This latter classification is the same as part of an adjacent subdivision, although the parish’s future land use map showed a low density for the golf course.

It is not the first proposal to redevelop the 228 hectare golf course. Locricchio, via JLG Properties, suggested buying it beforehand for a housing development, but the sale failed in early 2019, as previously reported.

Locricchio said the site map for this proposal is now out of date and a new one is under development, although the new map may in some ways be similar to the old one.

The reallocation request sparked an outcry from some residents who voiced several concerns about traffic on increasingly busy roads, sprawl in the suburbs and the destruction of the community’s green spaces.

Among them was Justin Sailors, who informed Karner in a letter forwarded to the commissioners that he had moved to the neighborhood directly east of Elmbrook to escape the light pollution, traffic and proximity. He wrote that he was concerned about the developments that threatened to make all of this and worse.

“I really hope that JLG Properties has a chance to build within the East Bay Township, just not in a position that will negatively affect the neighbors or the township plans for our future generations,” he said.

Locricchio said there were no plans to develop urban sprawl and that he was offering various conditions for the rededication to address some of the neighbors’ concerns raised in relation to the earlier proposal. This includes a setback and pine buffer on the eastern property line, as well as no roads connecting to those in the neighboring subdivision.

“We are aware of such problems and try to be neighborly in this regard,” he said.

Other conditions on the application for reallocation would prohibit uses otherwise permitted under the rules for reallocation of medium and high density residential areas. Bed & breakfasts, adult nursing homes, mini-warehouses, accommodation or nursing homes are therefore not permitted.

Back in 2019, the municipality applied for Locricchio to convert around 30 acres on the corner of Townline and Hammond streets near the golf course into high-density residential areas, and approved changes in 2020 to include three-story buildings up to 40 feet tall Allow type in this zone as previously reported. It was planned to build a mix of apartments and townhouses.

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