Agreement could come soon on region’s largest development

THOMPSONVILLE – The next few weeks could bring an agreement between the developers of Stone Ridge Farm and the Weldon Township Board, paving the way for the largest development in northwest Michigan.

Cheval-Knudsen Properties Inc., a Traverse City-based development company, has been negotiating on 522 acres of Thornhill Orchards owned by Glen Stone. The property is on M-115, just north of the main entrance to Crystal Mountain Resort.

The development is planned to be completed in stages over the next 15 years and will include 614 units (230 single-family home sites, 180 senior apartments, and 60 assisted care units) an 18-hole golf course, equestrian area, 70-room hotel, shops, hiking trails and tennis courts.

At their September meeting, Weldon Township Board lawyer Arthur Spaulding gave the board a 21-point developer’s agreement that covered many of the same points and concerns that have been raised over the past year: open space, preserving trees and the rural characteristics as much as possible, keeping a 450-foot setback along state land and other property nearby now used for hunting, and details of the infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer and drains. All of these points, and more, that have been discussed are included in the developer’s agreement.

“We are making real progress in the realm of trying to come to closure on the developer’s agreement,” explained Dave Knudsen, president of Cheval-Knudsen Properties. “We will continue to work closely with the township board and their advisors on the options and to resolve remaining issues regarding the agreement.”

Board members and the two parties do not seem to be very far apart on any particular issue. A finished agreement could be ready for review in about 10 days.

Hans Voss, executive director with the Michigan Land Use Institute, said the organization found nothing “unreasonable” with the agreement.

In a letter to township supervisor Dean Rhodes, Voss wrote, “The board’s decision to seek legal advice to develop a host community agreement with Cheval-Knudsen Properties detailing your conditions for accepting the proposal is an excellent way to address unique opportunities and concerns associated with such a large development. We also appreciate your invitation for the Institute to share our resources, expertise and experience with the township during this process.”

Voss urged the township to consider several conditions in the agreement including: performance guarantees during the phased project, modifications to the master plan and zoning ordinance, and preservation of green space. BN