Development takes baby steps down long road to approval

PETOSKEY – The area south of Petoskey has been experiencing an explosion of activity. Just a little while ago, Wal-Mart came to town. Now a Home Depot is under construction north of the store. The latest proposal is a large retail and residential development that would be south of Wal-Mart.

Scott Chappelle of Strathmore Development Co. in East Lansing says his company is committed to a mixed-use project, including retail and affordable housing, such as apartments and single-family homes.

The major issue facing the developer is rezoning. Once that hurdle has been cleared, then Strathmore plans to deal with site plan issues.

One of the zoning challenges of this proposed development is reticence on the part of the Bear Creek Township Planning Commission to allow retail to expand into an area zoned for residential purposes.

Also of concern is how the development will handle sewage. Some options include connecting with the city’s sewer system or constructing a system specifically for the complex.

City planners also worry about the labor shortage and whether or not there will be enough local manpower to staff the new retail facilities. The developer is currently working to address these issues and is awaiting study results.

On the positive side, Chappelle feels that the development would create a destination-shopping district, keeping local shoppers in the area instead of heading out of town to spend money. He points out that the project would generate an estimated $1.2 million dollars in property tax depending on what is constructed on the site.

“All of the significant retail development in the area is occurring at and around this site,” Chappelle said. “It makes sense from a planning perspective to consolidate the commercial growth in one geographic area. This development is being structured to stop the spread of commercial growth outside of this district by constructing a residential development as a transition buffer.”

So far two public hearings have been held at the Bear Creek Township Hall. According to Sue Anderson, office manager and recording secretary for the Planning Commission, the commission can’t take any action until various studies are complete. BN