Three Rivers commission, citizens keep discussing Allen Edwin project

Brian Farkus, director of workforce housing for Allen Edwin Homes, presents on the revised site plan. (Frank Stanko|Watershed Voice)

Proposed housing at 611 Coolidge Place was once again a lead item when the Three Rivers City Commission met.

Including a presentation by Brian Farkus and Mike West of Allen Edwin Homes, plus four general comments from citizens, the topic accounted for nearly half of an hourlong Tuesday, July 2 meeting. On Tuesday, June 18, the meeting was 90 minutes, with approximately 60 spent on the proposed housing project.

No action was taken Tuesday, July 2. Speaking to an audience of approximately 30, Farkus said Allen Edwin took concerns about parking and road width seriously. Because of this, the developer presented a new site plan.

The plan includes 161 parking spaces, up from the previous 117, including more non-driveway parking options for non-resident visitors. The driveways themselves would be 18 feet wide, up from the initial width of 14 feet.

“You’ve made some commendable changes, but you’ve ignored the very thing that disturbs us most,” Jean Withers said.

Withers is a resident of The Meadows, housing for ages 55 and older that would be neighbors to the new development. Withers, like her current neighbors, is concerned about the idea of increased traffic.

“The straightest distance between two points is still a straight line,” Withers said. “They’re going to go up that road right down our private drive.”

The Meadows does not have sidewalks, Withers said. It is common for elderly people to be walking in the streets with their walkers and canes. Drivers do not see these people until they’ve already followed a curve in the road, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Later in the meeting, West questioned why drivers from the proposed new development would go out of their way when leaving for work. One audience member said if it could happen, it would happen.

A new site plan for proposed housing at 611 Coolidge Place was revealed at Tuesday’s Three Rivers City Commission meeting. (Frank Stanko|Watershed Voice)

West gave an update on the site plan’s status.

“We formally submitted the revised site plan to the city last Friday,” he said Tuesday. “It’s currently in administrative review. I guess once they complete their administrative review, it will be determined whether it has to go back to the planning commission or whether (anything) can be done administratively.”

The Allen Edwin representatives said the only changes to the site plan concerned the additional parking and wider driveways. Audience members continued sharing their concerns with the overall project.

Waneta Truckey also said she was concerned about the traffic situation. Truckey asked about consideration of an additional exit road from the proposed new development.

A former teacher and Three Rivers School Board member, Truckey also said she was concerned about how tax increment funding for the housing project would include $1 million in city taxes over a 15-year period.

“Our school district cannot stand to lose that kind of money over the number of years that they’re going to do this,” Truckey said. “That would be over a million dollars. That accounts for a lot of kids’ books, a lot of teachers’ wages.”

People are not going to continue coming to Three Rivers’ schools with such a loss in revenue over 15 years, Truckey said. A similar comment was made by resident Lynn Hall McLeod.

“It’s especially not good for the schools to have that much property income lost when they’re facing $24 million in debt,” Hall McLeod said.

Hall McLeod’s comments included her saying that sections of the Michigan Compiled Laws have been ignored regarding the project, that city minutes are falsely referring to a “master plan” when it should be a master deed, and how at least some residents feel about the proposed housing project.

“No matter how you dice it, the people that have lived there (in the Meadows) don’t want it,” she said.

A little later, Hall McLeod reiterated her point.

“It’s not wanted by the people who live there and have invested there,” she said.

At-Large Commissioner Torrey Brown was absent Tuesday.

The next Three Rivers City Commission meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 16. Mayor Tom Lowry will be absent, as he is attending the 2024 Citizens of the Year banquet.