The Saline Township Planning Commission approved, with one dissenting vote, the final site plan of phase one of the Andelina Farms development at their meeting Tuesday night. The commission’s approval was contingent upon the developer securing the required state and local permits and satisfactorily addressing all of the concerns highlighted by the township’s planning and engineering consultants.
Andelina Farms, a proposed 280-unit development of single-family homes and condos, located on property around Michigan Avenue and Austin Road, will be built over three phases. The plan is for the development to have a private on-site drinking well and waste water treatment plant after it was determined that connecting to water and sewer services with the City of Saline was not financially feasible.
Township consulting attorney Fred Lucas provided a summary of the process for the planning commissioners and members of the community in attendance at the meeting.
“The township’s landuse map has identified designated high-density development areas in the northeast part of the township,” Lucas said, “and the township’s master plan calls for these high-density developments to be annexed into the City of Saline, and use city water and sewage systems, whenever possible.”
“When annexation into the city isn’t available, then developments can install private water and sewer systems,” Lucas continued. “The township officials have determined that they want the areas not designated as high-density within the township to remain rural, a primarily farming community.”
Lucas again stressed that the township officials must act in accordance with their development ordinances and master development plan.
“Local ordinances and the township’s master plan clearly read that high-density areas are to be annexed into the City of Saline and use city services. If annexation is not possible, then private water and sewer systems are the only option available. The township cannot tell the developer you can’t build water and sewer systems because you are telling the developer you can’t build. That action would subject the township to litigation and damages.”
A member in the audience said he was concerned that Saline Township would have a thousand sewer plants all over the township. Lucas stressed that township ordinances prohibit the building of private sewer plants in areas of the township that are not designated as a high-density area.
In addressing the planning commission members, Lucas said, “You have done your job. There is nothing more in this proposed site plan that requires action on your part. When the developer has obtained the required permits and approvals, for water and sewage services, traffic control and other safety factors, the township board will be responsible for granting the final approval to the proposed site plan.”
Planning Commission Chair Tom Hammond asked if it was possible for future residents of Andelina Farms to object to being annexed into the City of Saline if that became possible in the future. Lucas said, “it is the hope of everyone involved to have a 425 agreement between Saline Township and the City of Saline before the first house is constructed.”
A 425 agreement refers to Act 425, which can facilitate the transfer of land between governmental municipalities (i.e.: Saline Township and the City of Saline).
Nikki Jeffries, Land Development Manager of MI Homes, the corporation backing Saline Ventures, the developer of Andelina Farms, said that “all of the documentation has been submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and that they expect the DEQ to issue their decision sometime in April. She said if the permits are approved in April, they would become effective in June”.
During the discussion about Andelina Farms, Saline Township Supervisor Jim Marion asked if the developer of Andelina farms had met with the Robertson Brothers. It was stated by Marion that in a meeting recently with the group, the Robertson Brothers said they have property under contract north of Andelina Farms. In that meeting, it was stated that if the property identified as under contract with the Robertson Brothers was to be developed, they would have to agree to be annexed into the City of Saline, if possible, or connect to the Andelina Farms water and sewage treatment facilities.
Saline Mayor Brian Marl, Saline Ventures (developer of Andelina Farms), Supervisor Marion and the Robertson Brothers met and all agreed to the stipulation about water and sewer services should the property be developed.
In other business, the Planning Commission elected officers for the new year. The officers include:
- Gary Luckhardt, Chair
- Stephen Rothfuss, Vice-Chair
- Trudy Feldkamp, Secretary
Community members were reminded that the Washtenaw County Road Commission would be at the township board meeting, scheduled on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 7 p.m.
The Planning Commission adjourned at 8:40 p.m.