Bulletin Board

Business Directory


Clerk's Corner

Community Events

Contact Information


Development Documents


Financial information

Heritage Days


Meeting Calendar






PropertyTax/Assessing Data

Township Agreements

Rental Policy

Treasurer's Report



                    MARION TOWNSHIP

    Planning Commission - Special Meeting


               DRAFT MINUTES


MEMBERS PRESENT:   Jim Anderson, Debra Wiedman-Clawson, Dave Hamann, John Lowe, 

                                           Jean Root

MEMBERS ABSENT:            None

OTHERS PRESENT:             John Ambrose, Planning Consultant

Bob Hanvey, Township Supervisor

                                                Annette McNamara, Zoning Administrator




John Lowe called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.


Jean Root asked to add under New Business, election of officers and also add Public Hearing Procedural 

guide update. Dave Hamann made a motion to approve the January 12, 2004 agenda as amended. 

Jim Anderson seconded.  Motion carried 5-0.


John Lowe introduced Jim Barnwell representing Cascade Development (formerly Premier Farms) for a 

special meeting for discussion, comments and questions. Jim Barnwell, project engineer, presented a 

historical overview of the project that began in the mid-1980’s.  The proposal in 1986 was for a Planned Unit 

Development (PUD) to develop the property into single-family lots with attached units.  A sewer treatment 

plant was also proposed in that location. These are similar proposals to what is being proposed today.

A referendum turned the project down in that 1986 time frame and the developer sold the property to Waste

Management in 1990.  Waste Management proposed a landfill. Property was sold to another developer in 

1999-2000. In 2001 a conceptual plan was developed. A commercial area was planned along the north

property of 17 acres; school site or community facility site 10 acres; various densities throughout the 

development.  1150 acres of property, 2 units per acre was overall density.

A mix of single family attached units, townhouses, and commercial was proposed.  A clubhouse was

included. After a number of public hearings in late 2000-2001, it was approved.  General concept was 

approved, 2000 plus homes was discussed.

A conceptual plan with more detail was developed. Concerns with the conceptual plan were:

  1. Traffic direction; the focus was to configure traffic flow up Amos Road instead of Norton Road.

    2.    Attached units were placed in denser area.  Relocate school site near wetlands was changed for 

           educational benefit for the school.

    3.   Commercial area was relocated so as to encourage use of walking trails and pedestrian access.

    4.    Larger lots were put around perimeter; wooded areas were left near center area.

     5.    Standard rules and regulations:  PUD is good for the community. That encourages community

            participation that you do not get in a standard subdivision.

Positives of PUD:

  1. More buffering around perimeter.

    2.   Impact on the environment: wetland areas are pulled away and preserved in a PUD.

    3.    Marketability

    4.   Amenities improve sales; less impact on environment.

    5.    PUD gives variety for developer and township.

Negatives for developer:

   1.Time consuming project.

   2. Large costs in amenities.

   3. Paving of roads can be requested for off-site roads and add additional costs to developer.

    4. Smaller lots equal smaller return on investment.

This conceptual new plan has approximately 322 acres of open space. On the eastern border, community

 facilities, 31 acres; 171 acres of wetland; 524 acres open space. John Ambrose commented that in order to

pick up project from where it left off, it must stay close to approved original conceptual plan. Open space and 

density will have to stay exactly to what was previously approved.

John Lowe confirmed with Jim Barnwell that they wanted a general overview of what was approved and 

planned. The ordinance calls for 30% of open space. Presently, there’s 524 acres. Previously it was

477 acres. A number of grants proposed is in the same realm (2000 units). The Public Hearing was 2200. 

 Jim Barnwell stated they would not deviate.

John Ambrose stated density indicated 2000 square feet lot sizes permissible for this PUD. Previous minutes

stated 2200 was listed.

Jean Root questioned there were sites set up for five acre lots in the original plan but the plan does not reflect

 that.  Jim Barnwell indicated there were seven lots on 35 acres on the east side.

John Lowe asked about area set aside for commercial.  Jim Barnwell stated there’s around 17 acres for 

commercial. They’re showing about 6-10 now.

Jean Root stated it’s indicated on page four there’s 14 acres for seven future units. Jim Barnwell stated they 

were looking at two acre lots in that area and Jean Root questioned the accessibility. He stated there’s been 

no determination regarding that yet.  Jim Barnwell pointed out area that crosses the creek and wetlands, 

here’s an old easement off a paved portion in the Georgetown area that could possibly be used.

Jean Root asked about interior roads being proposed as public roads. Jim Barnwell stated private roads were

 being considered for the project to stay in keeping with building a community. What they are proposing would

need a couple full-time employees.

Jean Root questioned the shaded area on the first page along the perimeter, which are designated walking 

paths. She also questioned future problems with continuing maintenance in that large of a project that may 

result in legal recourse. John Ambrose stated they are only as good as the association is.  He also spoke to

the several phases proposed to be fanned out over an 8-10 year period and questioned as each phase

comes in, would they form their own association. People, who come in at the end, pay the same as those 

who had paid over a number of years. The township cannot govern that.

Jean Root asked if the township can say they want the roads to be public?  John Ambrose stated private

roads have to meet county standards. He stated there is no central core road that ties into the original 

concept plan. Jim Barnwell stated the project is leaning to one association. This project goal is to have a 

unified neighborhood development with a clubhouse, a community for continuity. He also commented they 

would contribute to a traffic study. Howell Township may also participate. They would also contribute money

to off-site pool resources.


Steve Cavaney, 4152 Emily Court, questioned the 6-10 commercial sites’ future vision.  John Ambrose 

explained commercial uses would be limited to convenience type functions for residents. One element is a

wellhead protection zone that overlays all the zoning and wellhead protection zone. That precludes a lot of 

businesses. There may possibly be a small grocery store, small office but no service stations. The paving of 

Cedar Lake Road due to its usage was also posed.

Norma Flaherty, 4120 Norton Road, questioned the different roads that go away from there and where the 

roads in the existing subdivision will come in.

Richard Hitchcock, 4218 Emily Court, stated their road is private and asked if their road would be used. 

Jean Root pointed out on the drawing their road is not considered. Another concern is whether with the

added houses and people coming to the Township Hall if Cedar Lake Road between Jewell and 

Coon Lake Road be paved;  no, not in the near future.  Mr. Hitchcock also asked if the township can handle 

the extra sewer. Yes, it can. John Lowe invited public to review maps.

(Short recess was taken.)

John Lowe hearing no more comments from the public closed the Call to the Public.


Jean Root asked if another traffic impact study would be conducted. Jim Barnwell believes it should be done 

but would be more beneficial to the community to do it later. They are considering contributing to 

improvements for off-site roads, such as Pingree.

Jean Root pointed out in the original site plan there were costs to be incurred by the developer and asked if 

they were willing to do off-site improvements at a minimum?  Yes, but no comparison was done dollars to

dollars. Jim Anderson asked Jim Barnwell if they would manage the project to be done and would the project

be done in Phase I and Phase II simultaneously? Jim Barnwell stated that sales would be the driving force.

Bob Hanvey stated he spoke to Merry Berring from Howell Township and they would be willing to participate

in a joint traffic study. John Ambrose believes an overall review should be done and outline differences from 

the original conceptual plan.

Mr. Sanch, developer, commented that the one thing that changed was moving the school for the safety of 

the children.  Mr. Flaherty commented where Amos Road empties out and traffic flow would be hard to widen.

John Ambrose stated that the significant difference in traffic control would be:  previous plan had a 

connector road and the new plan has only one access to driving through residential streets, which creates 

a lot of internal traffic. The question was raised by the audience what these units would sell for, which would

be around $170,000 to $300,000.  The developers stated they are open to meeting and talking with 

residents if they have questions.

Jim Anderson mentioned there are two large neighborhoods in the area and if this project is in the center, 

you have to use main roads to get out of development.

John Lowe asked if this plan is neighborhood friendly. It is with a combination of paved walking trails and 

cedar chip.

Jean Root asked if the school should be contacted again on this plan. Jim Barnwell stated he has contacted

them and will contact again but the school has decided to sell the property. Thirty-one acres of the property 

may be donated to the township for a purpose beneficial to the township such as a public facility, fire hall, 

a cemetery.   Jean Root also questioned whether the original plans of a school changing to donating property

pose a problem? John Ambrose stated no. Jean Root has concerns about a project this large posing a 

problem with association dues and paying property taxes and would like input from the township attorney. 

John Ambrose stated that bylaws and guidelines would clearly state association responsibilities.

John Lowe asked Jim Barnwell to go back and work with people at the end of court that would benefit both

parties. Jim Barnwell stated there is a similar layout that shows the main road going through the center of the

project. John Ambrose asked Jim Barnwell to breakout number of units and types for each phase proposed to

know number of units for each phase.  Jim Barnwell agreed to do that and stated Phase I has 2084.

John Lowe asked if this layout is similar to the Hometown layout on D-19 and John Ambrose indicated it is 

similar. John Ambrose pointed out there would be 18-20,000 trips a day generated with a plan this size. 

John Lowe questioned the efficiency of the road, such as a road like Grand River down the center of project 

and would like to see the road funneled to Amos Road. The ideal situation would be to layout a project this 

size with a collector system to help funnel traffic out to Cedar Lake Road to south end where there’s an 

access point and then up to Amos Road, pulling traffic up and funneling out. As the plan exists, it is such a 

maze it would be difficult for fire trucks to efficiently navigate.

Jim Barnwell commented there will be about 500 residents to the north of Norton. The original number was 

1500 and then split it becomes 750 and then next intersection would break it up even more. He would like to 

offer more options. John Lowe stated the original plan used Pingree which cannot handle additional traffic.

This plan is much more favorable. John Lowe asked the township engineer to confer with their traffic engineer

 to critique this internal plan regarding functionality. The open space is greater on this plan. The previous plan 

was 41% open space. John Ambrose commented that the conceptual plan was approved with 477 acres of

open space. Jim Barnwell stated 522 is on the current plan. The conceptual plan was based on 2000 units. 

Based on density, 2215 units would be allowed at the maximum. This would be allowed based on the 

underlying zoning district of 20,000 square foot lots of buildable acres.

John Lowe pointed out original plan had 17 acres of commercial and new plan is six, which may go up.

Jean Root asked if there’s a plan to sell commercial land and to who. Jim Barnwell stated this will be set up 

according to PUD, with their suggestions that would be acceptable with a universal theme. Their suggestion 

would be possibly small grocery/party store, video store, small restaurant like doughnut shop, hardware, 

personal services, day care, etc.

Jim Barnwell is proposing:

-          One tree for every lot; perimeter and main roads, tree every 40 feet

-          Garbage collection – one hauler

-          Sales trailer and signage for on and off site

Jim Barnwell listed several issues for the township to consider:

-          Amos Road paving

-          Contribute to traffic study

-          Contribution to off-site improvements to road over time

-          Ordinance allow: mini storage on site, consideration for assisted living later on in later phases

John Lowe does not believe that storage units would fit. He also proposed the upper right corner for Phase I 

and II. John Ambrose stated that would be submitted at that time with updated plan.

Bob Hanvey asked if there’s a checklist for the developer to complete before obtaining first land use permit?

The question was asked what triggers a permit? Dave Hamann stated there’s a preliminary and then final site 

plan in Phase I and then to the Township Board.

Jim Barnwell stated he plans about four more formal meetings. The developer thanked everyone for coming

and stated they are willing to meet with any resident to answer questions.

NEW BUSINESS – Election of Officers

Jean Root nominated John Lowe as Chairman of the Marion Township Planning Commission. Debra 

Wiedman-Clawson seconded.  John Lowe abstained.  Motion carried 4-0.

Jean Root nominated Dave Hamann as the Vice-Chairman for the Marion Township Planning Commission.

Jim Anderson seconded. Dave Hamann abstained. Motion carried 4-0.

Debra Wiedman-Clawson nominated Jean Root as Secretary. Jim Anderson seconded. Jean Root abstained. 

Motion carried 4-0.

Jean Root pointed out that the Rules and Procedures of 1996 need updating, which will be done and be

presented at February meeting for review. John Ambrose distributed a handout entitled, “Public Hearing 

Procedural Guide”, and reviewed with the Planning Commission.


Dave Hamann made a motion to adjourn at 9:30 p.m.  Jim Anderson seconded. Motion carried 5-0.