Sports facilities okayed at Bloomfield Christian
By Dana Casadei
After much debate over operating hours and a pickleball court, the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees approved on Monday, October 23, a site plan and special land use for the Bloomfield Christian School to add a sports court and two batting cages to its property.
Concerned residents' comments began during the meeting’s public comments at the top of the hour and continued during the public hearing, with concerns about noise levels – especially the way pickleball and the sound of hitting baseballs can carry – as well as the proposed 8 p.m. closing time for the batting cages, the same hours as the school’s soccer field.
Tony Antone, Bloomfield Christian School board member and Bloomfield Township resident, mentioned that he wished the residents who lived near the school at 3570 Telegraph Road had come to him prior to the public hearing, which they had not.
The school’s property is zoned single-family, and is abutting residential property.
Trustee Neal Barnett also mentioned that no one had come to them with this many concerns before now, and highlighted how agreeable school officials had been thus far with every board and commission they had met with.
In spite of all that, multiple trustees expressed similar concerns to township residents.
“Sound travels. You can put all the trees you want, but there’s still the sound,” said trustee Valerie Murray, who opposed the 8 p.m. closing time.
Trustee Stephanie Fakih brought up the concern of people not connected to the school coming to use the batting cages too, saying once you build it, they will come.
Antone said that no one comes to use the current playground or soccer field on the school’s campus, so he was not worried about that happening with the batting cages and sports court.
“Frankly, there’s way nicer facilities out there,” he said.
Antone said if he could get a do-over he never would have included a pickleball court in the original proposal, saying it came as part of the proposed plan.
He was thanked by supervisor Dani Walsh for taking pickleball off the table.
While many changes were made to the original plan, Antone was agreeable and willing to make them with little hesitation, saying that he trusted the board’s wisdom.
His only hesitation as the school’s baseball coach was the earlier hours for the batting cages, but ultimately agreed to go with the board’s decision.
Patti Voelker, director of the planning, building and ordinance, spoke in great detail about the site plan, noting that the sports court and batting cages will be in the rear of the school.
The sports court will be 50 feet by 84 feet, and replace the current basketball setup of moveable basketball nets in the parking lot. The proposed court will also have netting around it for a safer and more permanent solution for the children who use it.
All of this will be south of the school’s soccer field.
While there are changes to the property for the proposed plan, there will be no changes to the building’s entrance, the current curb cuts will stay the same, and the playground will not be affected.
It will also not affect the parking or school circulation pattern, nor the school's agreement with the Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church, located next door. There are 191 parking spots, far surpassing what is needed for Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church.
Before coming before the board of trustees, the proposed plan had gone before the township’s zoning board of appeals and planning commission, among other township committees, where it did pass prior to the changes made at the board of trustees meeting.
The final resolution for approval of the sports court and batting cages came with multiple amendments before a vote was taken.
It was decided that both the sports court and batting cages would only be used for school programming, and noted as so via placement of signs for school use only; the sports court will only include basketball lines and no longer the originally proposed pickleball court, and will be open until 8 p.m. like the soccer fields; and that the batting cages are only to be used until 7 p.m. on weekdays, 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and are not to be used on Sunday.
The board passed the resolution unanimously.