Though the process to rezone the former Hilltop Mobile Home Park started over Thursday, it opened with the promise of more dialogue.
Since the park closed in February, requests to rezone the site from a mobile home park have been debated, and officials have not yet settled on a final answer.
At Thursday night’s Township Council meeting, Pat Ward, of Uni-Tec Consulting Engineers, brought forward another option, representing Hilltop property owners Kenneth and Sharon Mayes.
Ward also represented adjacent property owners Rodney Hendricks and John Mitchell Jr. in the request for parcels in that area.
The new request for the approximately 30-acre site would place 16 acres in gateway commercial, 10 acres in R2 residential and four acres in the parkland/open space district.
That differs from previous iterations that proposed higher-density R3 residential and a mix of R2 and lower-density R1 residential.
The council voted unanimously to send the new request to the Planning Commission for review, asking them also to consider buffers and the appropriateness of the sizes and densities of the districts requested.
Ward said the request is not set in stone and that the rezoning should be appropriate to the site and to the community, as neighboring residents continue to have concerns about density at the site and potential traffic and safety issues.
“We look forward to engagement with the township and others who want to give input into this, and arrive at a zoning scheme that everyone’s happy with,” Ward said. “We’re not trying to pick a zoning scheme that some potential buyer might like. We’re trying to get what’s right for the property.”
Shamrock Avenue resident Greg Johnson spoke up to ask how residents should engage, and Ward said they can call or visit him, or he will visit them.
A few residents thanked him for the offer.
“We appreciate the dialogue that is now developing that we haven’t had before,” Johnson said. “We’ll be happy to host you at one of our houses for discussion.”
Councilman Dave Koll caused a stir in the crowd when he said that the resulting zoning at the site should benefit everyone in the township.
“There’s almost 10,000 people in the township,” he said. “There are 25 people here. You have to remember it’s not all about you.”
Council members said they want to hear more about the maximum density allowed at the site under the request.
The gateway commercial, shown as 450 feet up the hill, has no restrictions on residential density and allows more commercial and office uses and any residential uses.
R2 residential allows townhomes, duplexes, single-family homes, churches and schools, with a density of 14.52 dwellings per acre.
The open space district does not allow residential development.
“I think this is a huge improvement over where we were a few months ago,” said Councilman Eric Bernier.
But residents still have concerns.
Russell Graham said the council should expect a continued fight from residents if the allowed density remains high.
Kathleen Kunes said she’s disappointed in the current proposal.
“I’m a little disappointed that it went that deep in,” she said of the gateway commercial portion. “I’m a little disappointed that you went with R2, not R1. Just throwing that out there.”