Farmington commission puts townhome proposal on hold

Joe LaRussa

Citing concerns raised by consultants and required permits and variances, the Farmington Planning Commission on Monday voted to table a proposal for three townhomes next to a wetland.

32057 Grand River

The proposal from developer Leo Soave would place the three-level structure at the western edge of a parcel at 32057 Grand River. Realtor Donnie Orlando, representing Soave, said the 1700-1800 square-foot homes would have garages, a largely brick exterior, and balconies off the master bedrooms. He estimated the price point in the mid-to-high $200,000 range.

Following a detailed review, planning and engineering consultants with OHM Advisors did not recommend preliminary site plan approval.

Specific items included in OHM’s planning report included:

  • A 12-foot rear setback that falls 8 feet short of zoning requirements
  • Building set too far back from the front lot line, with the parking lot fronting Grand River
  • Rear yard landscaping buffer that falls short of requirements
  • Lack of detail about a proposed 10-foot retaining wall

Consultant Jessica Howard said key points of concern in the engineering area “could substantially affect the cost of the project.” They included:

  • A proposal for 2-inch water lines, which doesn’t meet the city’s requirements (a looped 8-inch main is proposed)
  • Lack of fire coverage and a hydrant for the site, and no fire suppression proposed for the buildings
  • Proposal connects to a Grand River sanitary main that is abandoned and may need lining or other rehabilitation
  • Need for approvals from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (former Department of Environmental Quality) related to impacts on the wetland, and from the Michigan Department of Transportation, for the driveway on Grand River
32057 Grand River Plan
Plans for 32057 Grand River show the parking lot (shaded dark) near the road and townhomes set at the back of the property.

Project designer Mark Fredrick acknowledged that the utilities were a “stumbling block”, and that the short setbacks – needed to get the building to fit the site – would require a variance from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. He said Soave would work with the city to get the issues resolved.

“It’s a tough site,” he added.

“This seems like a ton of work,” commissioner Steven Majoros said. “Is this all worth it for three units?”

“You’ll have to ask the owner,” Fredrick said, noting that Soave did get city and DEQ approvals when he proposed an office building in the same location about 10 years ago. That project didn’t move forward because of a downturn in the economy.

Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said the Grand River Corridor Improvement Association recommended the project, which fits with its vision “overlay” for the area. Multi-family housing is allowed under the property’s zoning and also fits with the city’s Master Plan, he said.

“There’s a lot of things that need to be addressed before we get to a site plan that is complete,” he added.

Commissioners unanimously approved Cathi Waun’s motion to table the plan until issues raised in OHM’s reviews are addressed and necessary permits and variances are secured.

View supporting documents for this discussion in the agenda packet posted at The meeting video will be posted there as well.

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