The Wayland City Council Monday evening awarded preliminary plat approval to a 53-unit residential development just north of 133rd Avenue on the south side of the city.
The move didn’t sail through smoothly, as several members of the audience and Councilman Norm Taylor objected because of concerns about traffic safety for children living in the nearby Willow Run subdivision.
Mike West of Westview Capital LLC submitted plans to build Wayland Ridge residential project in a district zoned R-1 at 915 and 921 133rd Ave. West apparently had all the legal requirements met, but nearly 20 residents at a Planning Commission hearing last month expressed concerns about traffic and safety.
Planning Commission Chairman JD Gonzales, who was the only commissioner to vote against recommending the plan, said he felt he was misled last spring when he voted affirmatively for the project, but only in concept.
“I felt like the horse was out of the barn before we even had a chance (to consider the project)… The question now is can we do anything now? Our hands are tied and this is a little unsettling.”
Taylor, former local schools superintendent, who lives in the neighborhood on Wildflower Drive, agreed with the interpretation that city officials were led astray. He said he was disappointed in the City Council Planning Commission over apparent willingness to let the project proceed with out further access conditions. He added the decision “runs counter to representative democracy.”
He blamed Zoning Administrator Lori Castello and even suggested the city re-evaluate its agreement for services with Professional Code Inspections.
Kirk Sharphorn, CEO with PCI, took umbrage, asking Taylor, “How can you vote on anything you haven’t seen? (the preliminary plans last spring).”
Scharphorn insisted the project follows the ordinance, adding, “If you don’t like your ordinance, you should petition to have it changed. Saying it’s a bait and switch and leading you astray is absolutely false.”
City Manager Josh Eggleston agreed, saying, “As long as the plan meets the standards, there is no way the city can say no.”
West was asked if he’s be willing to make changes in project plans to assure better and more access to cut down traffic in the neighborhood.
He replied, “We put in a considerable amount of time in making these plans. We’re so far along (in the project) it would be difficult for me to go back and consider a redesign.”
He did agree to restrict construction traffic only to 133rd Avenue, even though Willow Run is the street that will be extended.
Eggleston acknowledged the street will need repairs and repaving not too far head in the future.
Taylor cast the only dissenting vote. Councilman Abe Garcia was absent.
In other business at Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Heard a presentation from Lori Antkoviak about Safe Harbor, the county-wide program that acts on behalf of at-risk students and children. Just as she did last month at the Dorr Township Board meeting she asked for consideration of spending some of the city’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help Safe Harbor move to a better location.
• Agreed to contract services for ordinance prosecution with the legal firm of Baucham, Sparks, Thall, Seeber and Kauffman of Kalamazoo.
• Was told by Eggleston that he is about halfway through crafting a proposed ordinance permitting the sale of marijuana within the city limits, for submission to the council for acceptance or rejection.