Dean Morales, the president of Heritage and Company, Inc. in Lake Orion, is one step closer to getting a landscape nursery/retail business off the ground in Holly Township.

 On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Holly Township Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider Morales’ application for rezoning 1191 McClelland Rd. from AGRE (Agricultural) to C-2 (Commercial Center). Morales also requested special land use approval to establish a landscape nursery/retail business.

 Approximately 45 people attended. One of those residents wrote an advance letter to the Planning Commission, expressing her opposition to the rezoning of the parcel. This resident, Sandra Carlson, lives across the street and east of Morales’ property.

 “I moved here two-and-a-half years ago, having lived in Alpine Shores subdivision in Fenton Township for 30 years,” Carlson wrote. “I served on the Fenton Township Planning Commission for 14 years, was chair of that board for several years, and served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for five years. I also published an article in the Wayne Law Review regarding zoning issues.”

 Woodfield subdivision is a well-designed site condo community that includes a manicured golf course and club house, Carlson said. “I purchased my home based on the current zoning of Agriculture Residential for the surrounding area and based on my belief that Holly Township would honor its Master Plan and maintain the area as Neighborhood Residential in the future.

 “Rezoning this property would significantly impact the neighboring residential communities,” she said. “The permitted uses under the current zoning of Agriculture Residential include single-family detached dwellings, which currently exist. “

 Under commercial zoning, there would be an additional 16 uses, which include planned shopping centers over 50,000 square feet, health and fitness clubs, eating and drinking establishments, funeral homes, retail businesses like grocery stores, and many more.

 Should the property be rezoned to C-2, that zoning designation “runs with the land,” Carlson said. If the current property owners resell or go bankrupt, any future land owner would be allowed, by right, any of the permitted uses.

 Carlson said the proposed use would create an increase in traffic and congestion, hampering ingress and egress for homeowners in Woodfield subdivision and Woodfield South subdivision. It would increase weight limits for vehicles and trucks, which would increase the need for road repair, she said.

 “It would also negatively impact homeowners’ quiet enjoyment of their property, and it would negatively impact neighboring property values.”

 On Wednesday, Carlson said, “The applicant wants to put a landscape business there to grow and distribute trees etc., but does not want to sell to the public from that location.  There are wetlands between the 17-18 acres that he bought and Woodfield South.  Several of the board members thought that this is a sufficient buffer. 

 “The township planner was there.  He stated that this project would not affect neighboring residents’ property values, which I strongly disagree with,” Carlson said. 

 She said several residents shared similar complaints regarding traffic, trucks, increased road repair needs, congestion and most importantly, all the businesses that could be built there if he ever decides to sell the land.

 Despite residents’ concerns, the Planning Commission approved giving a favorable recommendation to the Holly Township Board of Trustees on the rezoning request. The Planning

Commission’s approval of the special land use request stands and does not require Township Board approval.

 Carlson said she hopes the board will consider conditional zoning, which would allow the applicant to proceed with his landscape business only as presented.

 “Any future buyer would have to use the property as it’s approved or seek to rezone the property,” she said.  “We did this many times in Fenton Township.  It’s a great way for the township to have more control on what is built now and in the future.”

 The Planning Commission’s recommendation will go before the Board of Trustees at its Oct. 16 meeting.

 Morales did not respond to a request for comment.

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