Traverse City News and Events

313-Unit Development Proposed For Hammond Road

By Beth Milligan | Sept. 29, 2022

A 313-unit development called Hammond Hills – containing a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, quadplexes, and sixplexes – is proposed for a nearly 79-acre vacant site along the north side of Hammond Road between Four and Five Mile roads. East Bay Township planning commissioners will get their first look at the project at their 6:30pm meeting Tuesday during a conceptual review, an informal discussion that allows commissioners to talk through the project and share feedback before developers return with a formal application.

Applicant and Michigan developer Gregory Holwerda, a member of Hammond 5 LLC, is seeking a planned unit development (PUD) for the property adjacent to Hammond Highlands. A PUD, a zoning plan tailored to a specific property, is intended to offer flexibility to accommodate mixed-use developments, properties with challenging topography, or projects on land that exhibits difficult and costly development problems.

Hammond Hills will likely check several of those boxes. Township Director of Planning and Zoning Claire Karner, who has walked the property, says it contains “significant topography” that poses challenges to development. Due to those challenges and to “housing market conditions, the applicant is proposing a mix of housing options as opposed to single-family homes,” according to Karner. Under the proposed plan, Hammond Hills would have three single-family units on the northern end of the property, 12 duplex units, 112 quadplex units, and 186 sixplex units, for a total of 313 dwelling units.

The four parcels that make up the site are zoned low-density residential (LDR), which allow a maximum of three dwelling units per acre. Based on the total acreage of the site, the developer would be permitted up to 235 dwelling units under LDR zoning. However, a PUD can offer more flexibility with density, and Karner notes that the township’s future land use map – which outlines desired future zoning for parcels – identifies the property as LDR to medium-density residential (MDR). Under that designation, the total maximum units allowed would be 314 – with Hammond Hills falling within that limit.

“There are a lot of considerations, but I think the reason the applicant is looking at a PUD is not because they’re looking for much more density but more diversity of housing options,” explains Karner. “The LDR only allows single-family homes. That’s probably the bigger change.”

Holwerda is proposing to build two vehicle entrances/exits off Hammond Highlands Drive, which ultimately connects to Hammond Road. Based on the anticipated traffic volumes generated by the development, Karner says Holwerda will likely be required to complete a traffic study (the threshold for requiring one on that section of Hammond Road is anything greater than 500 trips per day). The township’s zoning ordinance also requires that a location and easement be put on the site plan that allows for future connections to the parcels to the west, north, and east of Hammond Hills.

Given the size of the development, Karner says Holwerda has indicated the project will likely be built out in phases. That’s also due to the need to build infrastructure. The township’s zoning ordinance requires new developments to hook up to municipal water and sewer if they are within a half-mile of the existing utility. While the parcel has access to water, sanitary sewer is just over a half-mile from the site.

“The applicant is considering either working with the township to extend municipal sewer or developing a private system that can be phased into a public system as sewer is extended along Hammond Road,” Karner wrote in a memo to planning commissioners. She explains to The Ticker that this means Holwerda could potentially build out the first few phases on private septic, but design the system to public standards so that as it’s extended down Hammond it could eventually tie in to the public utility.

The utilities, traffic impact, number and style of housing units, and access drives will all likely be key topics of conversation at Tuesday’s conceptual review, Karner says. After receiving preliminary input from the planning commission, it’s then up to Holwerda to decide how to proceed. “If a formal application is submitted, the applicant would come back in front of the planning commission for formal site plan review and a public hearing on the site plan and special land use permit at a later date,” Karner wrote to the board, noting that final approval of a PUD will ultimately rest with the township board of trustees.

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