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Commercial rezoning denied

December 22, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Not normal.

This is what Attorney Joe Viviano calls the situation that currently exists between his client, Mark Cherry, and the township.

Cherry, the owner of Country Oaks Landscape Supply, 3967 Seymour Lake Road, has a consent judgement to operate his business in a residential area. He made a request last month to the planning commission to have his property rezoned to C-2, a commercial zoning that would allow a wide range of businesses. That request was unanimously denied.

The township board followed suit at their Dec. 20 meeting, heeding the planning commission's recommendation.

Viviano took the request before the township board on behalf of Cherry, arguing that in the master plan, the property is slotted to be commercial.

"It's unusual for the master plan to call for it to be commercial," he noted. "The township also engaged a community planner and Carlisle/Wortman (the township's planning consultant) also recommended granting it C-2. I don't want to diminish (neighbors') concerns, but I suggest they are overblown. This is one little island in that area."

Viviano said Cherry has no plans to sell his business, but the 12.890 acre parcel of land he owns is larger than what he needs and he is considering selling a corner of it. No one is waiting in the wings to buy it, he added, and there are "no secret plans."

Neighbors that spoke before the township board Monday night raised concerns about altering the country feel of the area, and one resident asked, "If he doesn't have master plans, why is he willing to pay two to three times more in taxes?"

Board Trustee Tom Stowell said the issue is rezoning the property to C-2 rather than C-1, which would allow less intensive uses. A C-2 zoning would allow a gas station to be built on the property, for example.

"We all know that's not his intent, but things can change at the drop of a hat," Stowell noted.

"We're not threatening a court fight, but that is the next step in the process," Viviano responded. "Would he sell if the right opportunity came along? Sure. If he wants to sell it, he doesn't want to tell the buyer, you have to go through these 10 steps. A C-2 zoning is more attractive to the buyer."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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