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  • By Lisa Brody

Condo development approved for school site

The final site plan for Villas at Bloomfield Grove, a new planned unit development (PUD) to be developed into a single family residential development, on the site of the former Hickory Grove Elementary School, to be developed and built by Robertson Brothers Homes of Bloomfield Hills, was approved by Bloomfield Township trustees on Monday, February 26.

Patti Voelker, planning, building and ordinance director, presented the final site plan, explaining that the land is under contract to be purchased from the Bloomfield Hills School district. The planned unit development (PUD) project, to consist of 40 clustered homes plus one separate residential unit, are clustered to balance and preserve the wetlands on the 27.46-acre parcel. All of the homes would be accessible by one drive, which would be a reuse of the existing drive on the site.

Voelker explained to trustees that because of the placement and orientation of some of the sites on the private drive, some variances were needed from the wetlands board. The site plan is proposed to provide 35.34 percent open space, well in excess of the 10 percent required in the PUD. There will also be a common space area, “and they are dedicating nine-and-a-half acres as a pedestrian park with a natural open play area that ties into the township safety path and the wood chip path off Devon.”

The site is being developed under the township's open space preservation ordinance, which seeks to preserve open spaces, trees and wetlands.

Voelker said the township's zoning board of appeals granted all prospective variances, as did the wetlands board.

Jim Clark of Robertson Brothers, developers of the project, said they had begun the process in February 2016, when Bloomfield Hills Schools first put the school up for sale.

“We like the physical aspect of the site,” he said. “In the last 12 to 16 months, we have had a lot of meetings with neighbors and the school board. We could have done just a traditional subdivision, but we wanted to do a lifestyle community. We call this 'lock, load and leave.' This could be a second home or a primary residence. Many are snowbirds – someone with another home now down south or up north.”

“Will this be a community that has an age requirement (of 55-plus), or will it just be marketed that way?” asked trustee Michael Schostak.

“It will not be age-required, but it self-selects,” Clark said. “There are first floor masters. We don't allow pools in the back yards or basketball hoops. If a family wants to live there, they're welcome.”

A resident complained that the township should have maintained the site as a park for residents.

“We did not have the necessary money to buy it, we don't have the necessary money to maintain it, and we don't have the necessary money to preserve it,” responded supervisor Leo Savoie. “No one stepped up to the plate to instigate an SAD (special assessment district). The school board had an obligation to maximize their resources. We are a separate entity from the school board.”

Trustees voted to approve the final site plan for the PUD.

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