After hearing pleas from residents during a public hearing, the Utica City Council denied Communicare Michigan’s request to make further building changes to apartments they manage for victims of traumatic brain injuries.
“It really upsets me that they would even consider to give a variance to a business located in our residential area,” said Utica resident Cherie Martin, who was mad that the multi-family development was ever even allowed to be built in a single-family use area.
Communicare Michigan is a Rochester-based company that leases out apartments at 44612 Davis Drive for these victims, and provides at home attendant care.
Nearly half a dozen residents addressed the council with concerns about Communicare’s request for two variances, which would have allowed the company to convert the 11-apartment building into 10 and build a community center for residents.
In March 2012, Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan issued stop-work orders against Communicare Michigan after the city building inspector said renovations to the more than 50-year-old building exceeded city-issued permits.
Since then, Noonan has requested that Communicare Michigan supply the city with very detailed and formal site plans, which needed to be examined by the building inspector, before any more work could be issued.
“We can’t make them tear it down but we have to limit what they can do with it,” Noonan said at the meeting.
While officials have been watchful of the company’s building activity, several residents have accused the company of not being honest about the type of facility that is being run there, and the severity of the tenants medical needs.
“Everyone thinks they’re using the apartments for rehabilitation not regular apartments,” said Karolyn Deater, who lives across the street.
Deater has circulated petitions against Communicare Michigan because she runs a licensed daycare out of her home, and by law, a daycare cannot be within 1,500 feet of any type of adult foster care home, drug rehabilitation center, or adult correctional facility.
Communicare Chief Operating Officer Benson Pulfer reassured residents and the council that the company simply rents out apartments for victims of traumatic brain injuries and helps supply them with care.
“Rehabilitation does not occur at the site,” he said. “Some individuals are provided attendant care, though.”
Pulfer told Patch there has been a grand lack of communication between his company, the residents and the city.
“I passed out some of my cards and I hope they call,” he said.