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New plans for country club to move to trustees

By Dana Casadei

New site plans and special land use request for the Oakland Hills Country Club will now move to the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees for consideration after the township's planning commission unanimously voted to recommend the site plan at their meeting on Monday, August 7.

While creating this site plan, designed to replace the former iconic club house which burnt down in February 2022, single-family zone district requirements were applied, which caused some challenges for planners as well as a need for a variety of variances,which will include the new proposed structures and elements that are be placed along the West Maple entrance.

“We're really looking at a unique circumstance, where we have a country club use in a single-family zone district,” explained Patti Voelker, Bloomfield Township’s Director of Planning, Building and Ordinance.

One such circumstance is in regards to all buildings that fall within a golf course operation have to be 200 feet away from any adjacent residential property. In this specific instance, there are two nearby residences, one that complies within that 200-foot setback, and another which does not.

The latter home is owned by the country club, and will need a variance, noting that while in principle they’re trying to comply with that 200-foot setback, it’s still only 50-feet from the new site.

In total, this site plan needs 14 variances in order to be approved by the board of trustees.

If the site plan – which is focused on the south side of the Oakland Hills golf course – is approved by the board of trustees there will be rather significant changes made to the area.

For starters, the clubhouse will increase by 18,345 square feet, totaling 110,236 square feet; a new additional structure, the Greens and Grounds maintenance building, will be constructed to replace various maintenance buildings at the country club, and painted dark green so it blends into nature; and the existing First Tee building will be converted into the lifestyle building, where men’s and women’s locker rooms will be housed, as well as a fitness center.

Throughout the site, there will be hundreds of parking spaces, and over 70 spaces in grass lots for valet, meeting the ordinance parking requirement.

One of the many areas of the plan that was applauded by multiple members of the planning commission was the proposed traffic restructure.

“This project really made this part of the campus more safe,” said Jim Stock, design director at Neumann/Smith Architecture.

Prior to the clubhouse fire in 2022, there were a lot of intersecting traffic flow issues between pedestrians going to the pool or clubhouse, the complex route to the valet parking, and numerous deliveries and trash pick-ups that came to the site. This new plan will make this less convoluted, with the addition of an underground tunnel that will connect the clubhouse to the lifestyle building, and be used for deliveries and trash pickups, separating the modes of traffic.

Other changes in the site plan include landscaping and enhanced lighting.

And while there are some significant changes proposed in the site plan, at its core, the plan proposes only minor modifications to the building’s outside design ascetic, meaning the new building will be similar to the classic previous one.

“From day one, the club membership expressed to us that they wanted to recreate as closely as possible,” Stock said. “We’re doing our best to really recreate what was lost.”

That includes recreating Oakland Hills’ famous veranda that looked over the golf course at the new clubhouse, and keeping the same coloration as the previous building, with white trim and siding, and black asphalt shingles.

Their intention is also to keep the main entryway at the Gilbert Lake Road light, with minimal differences, like some minimal improved landscaping.

This positive recommendation from the planning commission comes with approvals from township departments, the township traffic engineer, the township landscape architect; and review and approval of the improvements in the W. Maple Road right-of-way by the Road Commission of Oakland County. The club is seeking the necessary variances from the zoning board of appeals for its 14 variances.

“The design review board was extremely impressed by the clubhouse and the beauty of it…it’s something to be proud of,” said Neal Barnett, planning commission member and township trustee.

The site plan for the Oakland Hills Country Club will now go on to the board of trustees for consideration at a future meeting. Approval by the township board is required for a country club use in the R-2 One Family Residential District.


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