A round of applause and dozens of sighs of relief were heard at the Shelby Township Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night after trustees voted down a builder's plan to erect 344 apartment units on 23 Mile Road between Schoenherr and Hayes roads.
Dozens of people took to the lecterns and presented a petition with more than 600 residents' signatures that opposed Builder Damiano DiMercurio's multi-million dollar plan to build luxury apartments.
"Voting for this development would go against the wishes of the Shelby residents," said Karen Hessell, owner of , which shares a common property line with the land.
“It will have a large negative impact on our business. We have been there since 1968,” Hessell said before the vote was taken. “I thought this is what Shelby is all about -- helping and promoting small businesses. “
The 34-acre parcel of land remains empty for now. Originally, it had been zoned for light manufacturing when it was bought in 1999. It was changed to multi-family low rises in 2006 by way of a court settlement. The owner at the time had proposed a senior housing development but sold the property before a plan had come to fruition.
DiMercurio refused to comment on the Board's decision to deny amending the consent judgment, which would have allowed his development to progress. However, he can challenge the township in court.
During public hearings to discuss the proposal, residents had voiced concerns about the development ranging from an increase in traffic congestion, security concerns, density and the proximity to nearby homes.
In response, the chief architect of the project, Mark Abantha from Alexander V. Bogards and Associates, said the developer had worked with the county to increase the entrances and exits to the complex to ease traffic.
He presented data suggesting the demand for luxury rentals has significantly increased because of the changing family structure. He gave examples of DiMercurio's apartment complex, Harvard Oaks in Sterling Heights, which has a low crime rate and a waiting list of renters who want to get into the apartments.
“I think people are painting a picture of residents who live in apartments,” said former Shelby Township resident Andrew Steeh. “I currently live in apartments. I could get a mortgage but I choose to stay in an apartment because of my job.”
In regard to the proximity to nearby homes, Abantha said the closest apartment building would have been 430 feet from any residents in the area.
“I think it’s not the right fit. The judgment says property shall remain light manufacturing,” said Clerk Stan Grot before voting against the amendment.