By David Fleet
Goodrich- By a 4-2 vote on Wednesday night the village planning commission denied a proposal to rezone vacant property from Low Density Residential to a Residential Planned Unit Development on about 5.5 acres on the north side of Hegel Road about 600 feet east of M-15.
Planning commission members Dennis Andrezik, Shannon R. McCafferty, Joyce Welch-Baker and Adam Kline voted no. Dorene Hogness and Keith Walworth voted yes.
Commission members Trudy Conlin and Stephanie Schneider were absent and did not vote. The vote means the rezoing proposal will not be recommended to the village council.
On Feb. 27 a similar recommendation was OK’d by the village planning commission PUD zoning by a vote of 7-0. However, on March 6 the village council by a 3-2 narrowly defeated the zoning change. Councilmembers Jake Vick, who made the motion, Tim Light and Tim Barraco voted to deny rezoning.
The decision halts progress on the proposed 58,000 square feet, Goodrich Haven Senior Living complex, a single senior housing building with 62 units proposed to be built on the property. The complex was for low-income seniors under the guidelines of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The complex would have featured 16-two-bedroom and 46-one-bedroom apartments. The MSHDA funded project would have target senior citizens 62 years and older who are capable of independent living. However, developers who were coordinating the project reported during the meeting the age limit was actually 55 years old prompting debate from some of the more than 60 individuals who packed the lower level of the village offices. Many of those in attendence expressed concerns and support for the project.
Emery Bennett, a long time area resident said the concept has been in the works for almost 15 years.
“I have lived in the community for more than 60 years—my wife more than 80 (years),” he said. “I have been the initiator of this project and I have done it for quite a while. We saw the project working great in other communities. We’ve looked at a lot (of senior living complexes) and spoke to people living in those communities, not a one of them have had complaints about the residents. Senior citizens in the Goodrich area are interested in having a modern comfortable place to live that they can afford. Their (seniors) income is from years and years ago—it’s not what people make today. Many of you who have spoken against the project are from a higher income. Low income does mean trash—I’ll guarantee that.”
Karen Whitefoot attended the village meeting and lives near the proposed senior apartment complex on Rose Lane.
“I’m opposed to this type of development in my neighborhood,” she said. “I think the people that are here don’t think seniors are trash. (Rather) I think what people feel is this type of development, the urban development housing, opens up to bringing in all kinds of people that are low income—not (just) the seniors. What this (project brings) in the community is more traffic that drains our assets.”
Shirley Kautman-Jones and husband David Jones support senior housing in the community. They have owned three lots in the village since the 1980s.
“We agree that we need to provide a healthy, safe place for people to live—for all people, of all ages and all incomes. It’s hard for me to understand listening to the comments, if anyone looks at the census statistics for our village and township we have low income seniors living in the community right now. They could very well be your neighbor. We believe they should pay full taxes as anyone would on any piece of property as would anyone with a developed property in the village. They would generate revenue that will help the village. We never knew who was going to move into the village when the village was being developed. So it will be an unknown and we think it’s a great thing for the village.”
Jennifer Grant lives on Rose Lane near proposed development.
“I will be strongly impacted by the project,” she said. “I’m a teacher in Genesee County and it is very true of what kind of people that can move in there. The schools are an issue too. But the big question is how is this going to benefit Goodrich? I know it’s going to benefit some seniors. I’ve lived in 10 different states and we move here to retire. We moved here for the small town feel of Goodrich. You open that door what can happen after? I love were I live now, let’s keep it small where it was.”