By David Fleet
A request to rezone property for a proposed low income senior living apartment complex was denied by the village council at a special meeting on Monday night.
A proposal to rezone for a planned unit development on about 5.5 acres on the north side of Hegel Road about 600 feet east of M-15 was defeated by a 3-2 vote. Council members Jake Vick, who made the motion to deny the rezoning, Tim Light and Tim Barraco voted to deny. Council president Mark Baldwin along with member Shannon R. McCafferty voted to not deny.
The vote halts a proposed development—Goodrich Haven Senior Living, a single senior housing building with 70 units 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 apartments and 54 one-bedroom apartments. The MSHDA funded project would have targeted senior citizens 62 years and older who are capable of independent living. Monday’s vote by the village council reverses a Feb. 27 recommendation of the village planning commission who approved the PUD zoning change by a unanimous vote of 7-0.
Also on Monday night, the council denied, by a 5-0 vote, a Low-Income Housing Tax Program that would have collected about $2,500 per year based on the estimated $9 million value of the project. The LIHTP was for 15 years.
“Nine percent of $28,000 is $2,520 (per year) is what the village would see,” said McCafferty before the vote. “That’s less than what I pay in taxes, that’s less than most of the people in this room pay in taxes. (The apartments) are going to be using our infrastructure, the things we pay for as taxpayers. I don’t believe $2,025 is going to benefit Goodrich. I almost think it’s a slap in the face.”
Jerome Jay Allen, director of Devonshire Advisors, a Rochester Hills company coordinating the project, responded after the meeting.
“We are not going to abandon the project,” said Allen. “Rather, we will apply to MSHDA this October instead of April like we planned.. We feel that since more than 40 individuals have already expressed interest in living at Goodrich Haven they should have attended the meeting to express their support. That did not happen. We also did not realize the tax arrangement would have such a negative impact on the village. In addition we have to do a better job of explaining the rules of the senior apartments to the people. There will be a meeting at the Goodrich Lions Club in late April so all those interested will understand the rules of apartments.”
Several members of the Goodrich Haven Senior Living team attended the meeting on Monday including John Hambrick of JGH Consulting. Hambrick was part of the planning team since its inception in 2015 when the plans for a senior complex started taking shape.
“They denied our zoning request and our tax abatement because they believe that low income seniors are going to be a problem in the Village of Goodrich,” wrote Hambrick following the Monday meeting. “I have been in the affordable housing community for years and I’ve seen the people that benefit from it and I am appalled by the reaction not only from Jake Vick, but from Mr. Light on (village) council. I represent the developer on this project who has spent in the amount of approximately $100,000 to get this project to this point which we were led by the village to believe that they were in complete support of this project.”
Hambrick said the fees paid to the village were more than $6,000 prior to the meeting. The TDG Architects plans were about $50,000 alone, added Hambrick.
“Tonight we were not only denied on our tax abatement, but we are also denied for zoning as well and I’ve never been ridiculed and belittled by (a) community like I was tonight,” he added. “My whole team was caught off guard! Because not only did council belittle the affordable community there were many residents there at the hearing that did as well!”
“And you know what, the ironic thing is the community approached my client to do the development,” he added. “I am just baffled and saddened by a council that is voted by the people, but not for the people or the affordable housing people!”
Karen Whitefoot attended the village meeting and lives near the proposed senior apartment complex.
“I’m not seeing the benefits to our community,” Whitefoot said to the council at the meeting. “What is the benefit for the people living off Hegel Road in our community? We don’t have a walkable community, you’ll have people in Amigos going up and down Hegel Road. What are these people going to do? They are going to get in their cars and drive around.”
Whitefoot recently move to the village from Clawson. She is a home care nurse at Royal Oak Beaumont and often travels to Pontiac, Clawson and Hazel Park for work.
“I’m seeing this population, I go out in the buildings all the time,” she said. “We have this quaint little community—we don’t want grocery stores, it’s not the vision we have. Then we are going to put this big building in here and not have what these people want. I’m not seeing how this project is going to increase our property values, it’s not going make our community better.”
Chris Carlson also spoke at the meeting.
“I’m a senior citizen,” said Carlson, a village resident. “If I were to look for senior housing— I mean it from my heart—I would not choose Goodrich. There is nothing for anyone to do here, there’s no doctor’s offices for us to get to, no dentist real close, no sidewalks to walk our little dogs if we want. It’s not a community for senior citizens. I would move to Davison. That’s more of a place I’d go to. I’m not for it at all.”