City Council Meeting Tonight @ 7PM
Agenda includes zoning change approvals at tonight’s meeting:
Please stay active in attending meetings – this allows our voices to be heard and keeps our community concern visible as we hold our representatives accountable
Following the initial meeting with the City on July 19th, the task force had not received any response to process questions provided or further action on the direction for the group. In a good faith effort, they submitted another batch of questions in the letter below. It is their intention to continue to engage the City on behalf of our community members. Please help us hold them accountable by remaining vigilant in our efforts to show up and speak up at public meetings. Please see below letter for details.
Follow-up Letter from Task Force:
August 4, 2023
Dear Mr. Dame and Council Member Ledbetter:
I am authorized by the Lake Center District Housing Task Force (the “Task Force”) to send the following letter.
As an initial matter, I want to thank Mr. Dame for his response to the letter that the Task Force sent to each of you on July 20, 2023. I also want to thank him for his continued follow through on his commitment that he would forward all inquiries received from private citizens by the City so that the Task Force could include those questions in the Task Force’s submissions to the City.
At the same time, however, the City has FAILED to follow through on Mr. Dame’s commitment that “the process issues raised [by the Task Force would] be responded to separately.” To date, the Task Force has not received any response to the process questions.
The City’s failure to follow through on this commitment contradicts Mayor Randall’s professed commitment to transparency in government. If the City truly wants to keep its citizens informed, then the City MUST find a way to provide a forum/process/protocol where ALL CITIZENS can see the questions submitted by the Task Force and ALL CITIZENS can see the answers provided by the City. Failure to provide such a forum/process/protocol ignores the stated goal of transparency and will prevent the City and the citizens of Portage from achieving a “win-win” that Mayor Randall professes to desire.
Despite the City’s failure to follow through on the commitment to respond to the Task Force process questions, and in an attempt to move forward, the Task Force submits the following questions to the City. Please note that the questions that follow are not a comprehensive list, but rather a list of questions mainly focused on the Stanley Woodbine project.
It is the expectation of the Task Force that the City will make these questions available in some forum/format so that ALL CITIZENS can see them. Moreover, it is our expectation that the City will make its answers to each of these questions available in some form/format so that ALL CITIZENS can see them.
In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, and consistent with the City’s commitment that the Task Force will not be required to utilize the FOIA process, please note that where requested, the Task Force seeks public records as defined under MCL 15.232(i).
- Provide all public records re the Stanley Woodbine project: the proposed structures, including fire protection, exteriors, garages, floor plans, roofing, attic space, basements, security systems, electrical service, etc.
- Provide the land purchase agreement and other public records related to the Stanley Woodbine project.
- Identify the party and provide public records related to the question as to which party (AVB or a party representing AVB, or some other party) submitted the proposed design for consideration on the Stanley Woodbine development.
- Provide all public records related to the RFP ( request for proposals) and the bid tabulations or any analysis conducted or used to choose AVB?
- Provide public records (even if in DRAFT form) that will be used to sell the homes in the Woodbine Stanley project to eligible buyers.
- Provide any and all public records/contracts/agreements/letters of intent/letters of understanding or the like between the city and AVB and/or representatives of either.
- Please comment: For the Stanley Woodbine project, sixty three (63) units at the city cost of $300,000 results in a total cost of $18,900,000. The city received only $4,500,000 from Kalamazoo County. Where is the additional $14,400,000 in funding to complete the project coming from? Has the city and AVB completed a cash flow analysis of the project? How are the shortfalls being funded?
- Provide any and all public records related to DRAFT or FINAL financial pro formas prepared by or for the city related to the Stanley Woodbine project.
- Provide all public records related to any plan or analysis – done by or for the city or AVB – related to the cost/density of developing the project under its current zoning of R-1B? R-1A?
- Describe the experience that the city employee administering the Woodbine/Stanley project has in land acquisition, land speculation, site development, residential construction,contract negotiations, cost control, financing, mortgage lending, banking, real estate brokerage and the administration of a federal/county program?
- Please comment: AllenEdwin is selling an Integrity1520 series home in Gobles with 2 bedrooms, one bath, two car attached garage and 1,250 square feet of living space for $236,785. At their Concord Farms subdivision in Mattawan an Integrity1750 series home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, two car attached garage and 1735 square feet of living space for $264,000, or $150 per square foot of living space. The city plan has $320,000 divided by 1,400 square feet equal to $248 per square foot. Why is the City cost/sell price so dramatically higher than these projects?
- Please comment: The AllenEdwin Pennridge Trail subdivision off Ousterhout Road, Phase One , has an average lot width of 66’ and an average lot size of 8,869 square feet, both meeting and exceeding the requirements of the PD zoning district. The city plan for Stanley Woodbine meets neither. Should the plan be changed to at least meet the minimum PD zoning requirements? If not, why not?
- Please comment: how did the city determine that the “missing middle” home would cost/sell for $320,000? Experts suggest that a ratio of the cost of a home compared to annual income be no more than 2.6. A single person on the low end of the city’s AMI chart, 100 % AMI, would qualify to buy a home at $64,200, multiplying that by 2.6 would equal a home price of $166,920 . At the high end, a 5 person household at 100% AMI of $99,120 would qualify for a home price of $257,600. By the city’s own definition, workforce housing should be priced between $166,920 and $257,600, far below the city’ estimated cost/sales number.
- Describe the role that the city will play after the homes are sold. For example, will the city tax the home at market value or at the sale price to the owner? Will the city guarantee the loans? Will the city control the mortgage terms? Will the city control the sale of the home to any subsequent buyer? Will homeowners be required to insure homes for replacement cost? Will the city be responsible for any common areas? Will there be a homeowners association? Will homeowners be allowed to sell the homes that they buy? If not, how does the homeowner grow the value of the home (a key benefit to owning a home)? Will homeowners be allowed to rent the homes that they buy?
- The following citations are related to the question below. Code of Ordinances of Portage Michigan ( Municipal Codes),Chapter 42 Land Development Regulations, Article 4 Zoning, Division 4 Zoning Districts and District Regulations, Subdivision 11 PD Planned development district, Section 42-374 Site Development Requirements, C. Non-applicability of other zoning regulations, mixture of housing types: Please comment: The applicant for a planned development must demonstrate that the proposed plan cannot be developed under other provisions of this article, or provide for a mixture of at least two of the three housing types: one- family attached or detached, two-family or multifamily. The project only includes detached one-family homes so it does not meet the second requirement. Nor does it meet the first requirement in that the project could, and should, be developed in any of the R-1 zoning classifications.
- The following citations are related to the question below. Code of Ordinances of Portage Michigan (Municipal Codes),Chapter 42 Land Development Regulations, Article 4 Zoning, Division 4 Zoning Districts and District Regulations, Subdivision 11 PD Planned development district, Section 42-374 Site Development Requirements, D. Density. Please comment: In one-family residential areas of a planned development, the average lot size shall be not less than 6,500 square feet, with a minimum of 5,000 square feet. The project does not meet this requirement in that the average is 6,128 square feet with the majority of the lots being just over the minimum 5,000 square feet and a very few large lots added to pump the average up. One lot does not meet the minimum standard.
- The following citations are related to the question below. Municipal Codes, Chapter 42 Land Development Regulations, Article 4 Zoning, Division 4 Zoning Districts and District Regulations, Subdivision 11 PD Planned Development District, Section 42-374 Site Development Requirements, E. Setbacks, a. Perimeter Setback Requirements. In a planned development that abuts property and that permits developments of less intensity than permitted by the planned development, a peripheral transition area shall be incorporated in the planned development that provides development similar in density to that existing or permitted on the on the abutting land. The lots on the north, east and south side of the project do not meet this requirement, the abutting land is zoned R-1B which is generally half of the project density.
- The following citations are related to the question below. Municipal Codes, Chapter 42 Land Development Regulations, Article 5 Subdivision and Land Division Regulations, Division 4 Required Improvements and Design Standards, Section 42-807 Lots, .1 Size and Shape, d. Corner Lots; Corner lots shall be platted at least 20’ wider that the minimum width permitted by article 4 of this chapter in order to conform with setback lines for side-lotted streets. Please comment: none of the Stanley Woodbine corner lots on this project meet this requirement.
- The following citations are related to the question below. Municipal Codes, Chapter 42 Land Development Regulations, Article 5 Subdivision and Land Division Regulations, Division Required Improvements and Design Standards, Section 42-807 Lots, 2. Arrangement, a. Every lot shall have not less than 60 feet of frontage on a public street or 50 feet of frontage on a public cul-de-sac. Please comment: many of the lots in the project do not meet this requirement
- On July 25, 2023, Zylman Avenue Ventures LLC (on JTB Homes letterhead) informed Mayor Randall that it was withdrawing its pending applications related to the Austin Landings Planned Development (the “Austin Landings Letter”). The letter refers to interactions with Mayor Randall regarding the Mayor’s input into this Zylman Avenue Ventures’ actions: “Based on your recommendation . . ..” and “Your input has been important in making this decision.” Provide ALL public records related to Mayor Randall’s interactions with Zylman Avenue Ventures’ decision to withdraw its pending applications.
The Task Force looks forward to receiving the City’s responses to the forum/process/protocol/ issue as well as to the substantive issues raised in this letter.