Affordable Housing Development Plans Before Township Board
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - At the May 21 Meridian Township Board meeting, theBoard discussed the development plans to rezone approximately 4.6 acres at the East end of Sirhal Drive and North of Whole Foods from 1-2 Family Residential to Multiple Family for 14 dwelling units per acre.
Meridian Township Community Planning and Development Director, Mark Kieselbach, discussed with Board that the applicant was requesting to rezone the property in terms of affordable housing.
Trustee Dan Opsommer asked the applicant to explain leasing criteria towards receiving eligibility. An example that Trustee Opsommer gave involved a member who was concerned about the relationship between residents living together who were not related and how it will impact income eligibility. The applicant, Woda Cooper Companies, discussed how the tax credit program is going to establish a maximum income that cannot be exceeded based on the household size. Furthermore, the applicant discussed that extensive background checks in terms of criminal records have been taken into consideration very seriously and every individual has to meet necessary standards. The applicant reviews an average application for a tax credit household as long as 65 to 80 pages. Woda Cooper Company said they promote tax credit communities which require more management.
Clerk Brett Dreyfus addressed the Board saying that residents in the Wardcliff Neighborhood oppose this project. However, Trustee Courtney Wisinski supports the project as she believes it's important for the community to have access to affordable housing, as it will benefit single moms and people with disabilities in the community. Supervisor Ronald J. Styka was initially concerned that the project would be student-based, however this issues was resolved and went ahead to support this project because it will support diversity efforts.
"This is a project that I think is needed in Meridian Township and in Okemos, portion of Meridian Township. Meridian consists of a lot of neighborhoods, but we also need to have more diversity and people from more walks of life, simply engineers and professors that we have in our neighborhoods. This is a project that is in the right place and right time. I think that we are going to see some families here, we may see some people that are immediate in other ways, but we are gonna find good neighbors and good people and once we have resolved the density issue in terms of access through the neighborhood, I think we took the biggest objection I had unless I hear something different," said Supervisor Styka.
Township Trustee Patricia Herring Jackson weighed in on this issue by talking about the Future Land Use Map and Master Plan in terms of long-term development. Additionally, Trustee Jackson addressed how rezoning serves as a necessary tool to make important decisions with the future land use map.
"One of the long-term goals in our Master Plan had to do with the density in our neighborhoods by infield. We also established an urban-service boundary in the Township and applied that infield philosophy to the western side of that urban services boundary. This is the kind of rezoning and development that I would like to see to fulfill all those needs and to meet and adjust those changes that are occurring in our Township and in our society and in terms of the needs of the community in general," Trustee Jackson added.
Trustee Jackson also inquired about residents living arrangements along Sirhal and Greencliff Drives. Community Planning and Development Director Kieselbach stated that there will be free access along these drives. However, Trustee Jackson still expressed concern with the project since the plan only involves extending either Sirhal or Greencliff Drive, and it came to her understanding that at the last meeting Sirhal Drive will be favored more over this extension. The result was that this condition can possibly be amended however Director Kieselbach explained that it was up to the applicant.
Trustee Opsommer also believes that this is a great opportunity to bring people together. Trustee Sundland also agreed with Trustee Jackson over the Wardcliff neighborhood's concern that people in the community will find shortcuts to get to Park Lake.
There also exists a 13 percent poverty rate in the Township, and it is unevenly distributed regarding age groups. 5.3 percent exist in people 65 and older and 28.1 percent exist in people who are 18 to 34. In response to this, Treasurer Phil Deschaine supported this project in terms of providing more affordable housing and low income housing.
Finally, Clerk Dreyfus comes back to the concerns of this project to Wardcliff and the school system, and Supervisor Styka highlighted that in the 2019 Goals Action Plan, the Board has adopted the need to explore housing options and alternatives to encourage diverse populations targeted to live in the Township.
The Township Board will continue to address this matter at their next meeting on June 4.