BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
More elderly housing is a step closer to reality in Independence Township, after a proposal was unanimously approved at the Sept. 10 township Board of Trustees regular meeting.
The 18-acre development will be located on the west side of Sashabaw Road, south of Moody Drive and across the street from the DTE Energy Music Theatre. The Planning Commission recommended approval for the project at its Aug. 8 meeting.
The project is consistent with the master plan, said Richard Carlisle, president of the Carlisle Wortman Associates planning firm.
“We primarily designated that west side of Sashabaw Road for office service development. This has been a policy that goes back many years where we tried to limit the development to try to isolate single-family residential development from the noise and commotion of what was in Pine Knob,” Carlisle said. “However, in the last amendment to the master plan, which was four years ago, it did contemplate that with the aging population, elderly housing would be an acceptable use within that area.”
Carlisle added the site has some “very challenging topography,” which the applicant, Kirco Manix, is dealing with. The plan includes a 100-foot buffer between the rear part of their development and Wingate, a single-family residential development.
“It’s all wooded,” Carlisle said. “And we have asked the applicant to keep it that way.”
The site has water and sewer, and a stormwater management system is being installed. The development would generate significantly less traffic than an office service development on that property, he said.
David Endres, vice president of Kirco Manix, said neighbors showed support for the project.
“This is an exciting project for us,” Endres said. “It’ll be a full campus model of senior living, which means that it’ll consist of independent living, assisted living and memory care.”
Road construction work on Sashabaw is a concern, but access to the property will be maintained, Carlisle said.
“These facilities tend to be very light on traffic,” added Endres. “You know, it’s mainly people visiting their loved ones.”
Assisted living and memory care residents tend not to have vehicles, he said.
“We find that generally we call the ‘qualified caregiver,’ who is the oldest daughter generally who is taking care of mom and dad, or in some cases, the oldest son, the proximity to a facility like this is critical,” explained Endres. “So 75 percent of the people that will occupy this community are already from the community, and generally, their children live within five miles. So that’s statistically what we see for projects of this type. Again, we look at it as an amenity for the community overall.”
Once Kirco Manix finalizes the site plans, it will go back to the Planning Commission for site plan approval, then to the Township Board for second reading.